Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lance Armstrong: Plant Strong!

A little gem appeared recently in the Canadian Huff Post about Lance Armstrong’s plans for 2012. (Why Canada?) It appears that Mr. Armstrong has been influenced by his training partner, Rip Esselstyn to move more towards a vegan diet. Armstrong still allows himself to “eat whatever”  for dinner. But following Rip’s plant strong approach has shown real benefits that he wants to pursue. I’m a little surprised at this, for in one of his autobiographies he mentions that he followed a similar vegan diet while recovering from chemotherapy. Plus, his famous focus and attention to detail, led me to believe that he would have already experimented with diet in order to get every advantage he could. But he clearly shows that we’re never too old to learn new things. He also contributed a blurb to Rip’s book. Moving into another athletic comeback, he is actually changing his nutrition. I hope that he takes this a lot farther. What a great representative of the plant based lifestyle he would be!

Vacation and Circadian Rhythms

I was very impressed by a blog re-post over at happyhealthylonglife about trying to match your daily schedule to the body’s circadian rhythms. Impressed, as in I kept thinking about it long after I read it in my RSS reader. Using the levels of various hormones as they ebb and flow, there may be best and worst times of the day for certain activities. I thought about it enough that I went back to find the post and copied out by hand the schedule so I could reflect on it more. What I found is that it  resembles the schedule I follow during summer, when school is not in session. It takes me a while to transition from the public school routine to what my family calls “summering”. Yes, we turn “summer” into a verb. It is an action of maximizing the enjoyment of every summer day. With no alarms or bells ringing, my day gradually becomes more like this circadian ideal. Now that I have a more sepcific research based version, I am going to experiment with following it more closely whenever I can. The point of the original post is to maximize productivity by doing the tasks that are best suited to certain times of the day. Since it is spring break for me this week, I am experimenting with it right now. This summer I hope to get into my circadian rhythm right away, so I can take my “summering” to another level.

So an ideal circadian day might look like this:

7 AM Wake

7-9 AM Socializing time. Ever notice that morning radio is mostly talk? And coffee junkies chat while getting coffee? How many people check social media right away?

9-11 AM Brain Time: the best time for the most intense creative or intellectual work.

11 AM- 2 PM Errands and to-do list tasks. Good blend of mental and physical ability. This is when I do my training in summer, so that my post workout recovery is  . . .

2 -3 PM Lunch and a nap

3-6 PM Routine tasks or exercise session #2. The brain is done, so things that don’t take a lot of concentration are ideal.

6-8 PM Dinner

8-10 PM wind down, read, watch movies. Stay away from the computer! Close proximity to a bright monitor interferes with sleep.

I find that in summer, my meal times gradually drift later for all three meals and get closer to this plan. Mentally I’m sharpest in the morning between breakfast and before my main training session, so that will be my writing time. Like right now.

So the experiment begins. Can this circadian life hack make me more productive or feel better? We’ll see.

XTERRA Real Race Report

Race Time!

So after nearly eight months of no racing, Maffetone training that never had my heart rate over 140 bpm, influenza, pneumonia, and a slow march through base training, I finally got to uncork one!

And I went… slowly.

Oh well.

It was disappointing to go slower than two years ago, which was close to this year in course conditions. The swim was slow, thanks to freezing conditions that forced more breast stroke than I like. The bike was a little slower as well due to mud and some mechanical problems with my brakes. I knew my brakes were mushy going in, but I thought they would hold for two laps. They held for a lap and then the rear brake began to fade dramatically. Not as bad as last year though, when they failed completely, destroyed a rim, and left me walking the downhills. I shouldn’t be disappointed considereing my lack of training or racing at high intensity. After all, this was the first race of the season. But I am disappointed considering the improvement in my MAF tests compared to last year. I thought I would be going a lot better.

What was puzzling was that I felt great while racing. Even the swim, which I haven’t trained much at all, felt comfortable after I got used to the ice cold water. The bike was a challenge because it’s been months since I rode the mountain bike on anything remotely technical. While challenging, it was fun to ride those Granite Beach trails. The bike course is real mountain biking: lots of single track, and you’re always actively doing something, climbing, descending, negotiating rocks, turning through tight and twisty singletrack. You have to concentrate. The run felt pretty  good as well. My stride and cadence were what I wanted them, I didn’t have GI issues, but my time shows the truth: I didn’t go fast.

I wore my Garmin hrm so I could graph my heart rate for the bike and run sections and see what happened. I found that I averaged 170 bpm, and cruised a lot around 175 bpm. I noticed that around 180 bpm the door to the hurt locker slammed shut, and I had to back off, usually at the top of a climb. So, since I have done all of my exercise under 140 bpm, but race from 165-175 bpm, it appears that I need to do more anaerobic, race pace training to get used to going fast. Also, the fact that I “felt good” might be a red flag. After all, isn’t racing supposed to hurt? At least a little? I think I held back a little too much, perhaps due to being out of practice.

So going forward?

More mountain biking. Spring is here, the trails are drying out, my bike is tuned.

Readjust my MAF training range up from Maffetone’s formula of 140 to Mark Allen’s version, which is 145, especially on the run.

More volume. I felt that I faded in the second half of each event. Probably due to lack of truly long rides and runs.

What about anaerobic effort?

I will hold off anerobic training for another month and just use racing for that training effect. I need to continue to build my aerobic base because it still lags behind. I may readjust my range upward again to follow what some coaches recommend by basing my MAF off of lactate threshold instead of the 180 formula. For the moment, I will keep it low since I am still getting benefits.

After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!