Archive for the Training Category

Race Season Managment: Logic vs. Ego

Posted in Lessons Learned, Paleo Athlete, Training on May 8, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

Last Sunday was the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Let me begin by saying, this event was amazing and I totally recommend it for anyone looking for an early season marathon on the West coast.  The course is beautiful and the organization is flawless. 

Anyways, I entered the race to help fine tune my run prior to Ironman Coure D’Alene on June 24th. 

Although I haven’t been training specifically for a marathon my goal was sub 3 hours.  I didn’t know if I had the fitness to pull it off but with my recent half marathon results I thought it was possible.

– 1:26:09 at the ‘My First Half Marathon’ in February (Vancouver, BC)

– 1:26:25 at the ‘Fool’s Day Run’ in April (Sunshine Coast, BC)

I ran the first half comfortably in 1:30 and my goal was to negative split on the second half as the course was predominantly flat for the last 18km. Unfortunately I started to labour around the 28 km mark and my pace started to slow.  I soon realized my 3 hour finishing time was not going to be possible.  

I hit the 30 km mark and was still cruising at around a 4:30/km pace but knew the last 10km was going to be a fight.  A 3:10 finish was still obtainable but with the 3 hour mark out of grasp, I decided to call it quits at 32km to avoid having to endure a lengthy recovery period.

Instead of finishing the marathon, I ran 32km, in 2hours, 19 minutes and followed it up with some lunch, a hot tub, and a solid afternoon training ride on the tri bike with some friends.

It was hard to drop out the race but I made the smart choice.  Running those last 10km would have put a huge dent in my next three week training block which is really the most important training time I have before ironman.

Congrats to all of those who finished! It was a beautiful course and a perfect day for a race.  


What is the major take away from this experience?  Listen to your body and remember what your goals are.  A triathlete needs to train like a triathlete.  Training like a runner + cyclist + swimmer will only serve to sub optimize your overall performance in the sport of triathlon.  Sure it sucks to miss your goal time, and it sucks even more to drop out of a race but you have to keep your priorities in mind and remember what the true goal(s) of your race season are…. and most importantly, keep it fun!

Looking forward to the next one!


Follow up on Feb. 12th Half Marathon: Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Posted in Lessons Learned, Nutrition, Paleo Athlete, Training with tags on February 13, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

Today’s race was amazing. My finishing time wasn’t fantastic but the atmosphere was great, and the course was beautiful. It was rainy, but not too cold and the other competitors out there brought a great energy to the event.

I came across the finishing line in 1:26:08, a new PR in the half marathon by over 3 minutes, but admittedly, slower than I had set the cruise control for.

The goal time of 1:22 was a stretch but I really wanted to experiment with it.

Race strategy was two pronged:
1. Set a pace equivalent to 95% of my 10k PR and hammer it out for as long as I could until I couldn’t hold any longer.
– Reason: Test early season fitness identify weaknesses: Strength, speed,
mechanics, etc.
– Key take aways: Monitor when and where the pace became unsustainable and why.

2. – Drink only water and eat nothing
– Reason: Test body’s ability to metabolize fat during the race once glycogen stores had been depleted.
– Key take aways: Monitor when and where the shift from glycogen to fat occurred and test the efficiency of metabolizing
fat for energy.

Obviously you shouldn’t run two pronged experiment like this if its your A race of the season. By then, you should have everything figured out and dialled in. But today was a perfect opportunity.

I believe that self experimentation is a very important element to an athlete’s training plan. If you stay in your comfort zone, or always take down the same gels or sports drink its hard to see where your limiting factor is. Pushing out of your comfort zone allows you to see where your mechanics, strength, endurance or nutrition plan fails so sometimes, your best strategy is to just go for it and see what happens.

So I set my pace at roughly 3:50/km, fired up my POSE running technique, drank a little water at each aid station and stuck to my race plan.

Things were going well and I felt great for the first 15 km. I was right on pace, cruising along the Stanley Park sea wall and feeling fine. But the last 5-6 Km were a little slower than I had hoped.

Deciding to race without any high Glycemic Index gels or sports drinks may seem foolish to some, but my goal was to clearly indicate the point in the race in which my glycogen started to run out. I then wanted to gauge my body’s ability to efficiently metabolize fat for energy.

Why just read about this stuff in text books? I believe there’s some inherent value in going out and experimenting yourself!

To summarize my findings from today’s race: Things were cool and smooth until 15km.

– I average 3:49/km for this portion of the race and my energy levels were stable.

From Km 15-21 I was struggling to keep pace and my energy level dropped.

– I averaged only 4:05/km from KM 15 on.

The data I gathered today will now allow me to go back to the drawing board for my next 4-6 week training block.

– More stamina work, more strength work, and most importantly, GETTING THIS PALEO RACE DAY NUTRITION FIGURED OUT!

I think I’ll be experimenting with some of the stuff on this interesting blog post I just read:

If you have any insight for race day nutrition, please post in comments. Thanks!

2012 Race Season Begins with 21km around Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Posted in Rest and Relaxation, Training with tags , , , on February 12, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

After a short hiatus from the blogosphere I return with a short but pointed blog entry. To begin, I just want to say I hope you have all had a great start to 2012.

My 2012 race season begins tomorrow with a half marathon in Vancouver. BC. As a triathlete, my weakness is running so I have told myself I would focus this early part of the season on improving my run so that I am a more well rounded athlete for my main event: Ironman Coure D’Alene, on June 24th

Tomorrow’s race is the ‘My First Half Marathon‘ in Vancouver, BC. The course runs from the Yaletown community centre, around Stanley park and back. This course is flat, fast, and fun, and should be a great early season event.

A half marathon is 21km, so in preparation for such an event one could only assume my training plan has incorporated multiple long runs of 15+ km to get my body prepared for the demands placed upon it by running 21km.

This assumption however, is wrong. I have run only one long run in 2012 and it was a 10k two weeks ago that I ran in the rain on a cold afternoon weighing in at 196lbs. I started off at a slow tempo, found my grove around 2-3km in, and low and behold, ended up setting a new PR at 37:53. Needless to say, I was shocked.

My training over the past 6 weeks has been based first and foremost on the development of efficient movement patterns and technique, and then the development of strength, speed, power, and stamina.

I have been following the Crossfit Endurance protocol quite closely, involving 4-6 crossfit workouts, 3-4 strength and conditioning workouts (incorporating the conjugate strength method popularized by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell) and 2-3 run workouts cycling through short intervals, long intervals, and one tempo or time trial each week. The programming on the crossfitendurance site is brilliant, I just tweak it ever so slightly to fit athletic goals and fitness level.

So all this talk and no action means very little. The intent is not to look at my run splits and say ‘wow this guy is fast.’ On the contrary. Any competitive runner would look at my times and say they are quite slow, and that person would be right. The point is, at almost 200lbs I have learned how to run fast, run efficiently, and train in a way that avoids repetitive stress injuries and keeps me looking forward to the next workout.

I am on to something new, something exciting, and something that we can all tap into. It’s the development of holistic strength and endurance through crossfit inspired exercises, that when done correctly, and with properly executed rest and recovery periods, can create new frontiers for athletic performance.

I’ll write an update tomorrow after the race.

Goal time for the 21k: 1:22:00

Review of the Vancouver Crossfit Endurance seminar on Oct. 1-2

Posted in Lessons Learned, Training on October 5, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

The Vancouver Crossfit Endurance seminar was led by Dan Hollingsworth, one of the head coaches for CFE, and hosted by Crossfit Vancouver. Dan was extremely knowledgeable, and he was a killer speaker. He kept the energy high and held the interest of the 25 attendees all weekend long. I learned a great deal of information over the two days and I am excited to apply what I learned to improve upon the results from my rookie triathlon season and help others achieve their athletic goals as well.

The seminar was a major eye opener for me personally because although I followed what I thought was a solid CFE training plan throughout my triathlon season, I really only tapped into a fraction of the potential this training system has.

Ideally a high end multisport athlete should be doing a 4-6 Crossfit and strength workouts a week, and supplementing that with 2 interval workouts per mode per week. A single sport athlete should do the same 4-6 crossfit workouts, and add on 2-3 interval sessions for their chosen sport.
Visit the website for more details on that.

The point is I didn’t do that. I should have, but I had only 6 months to learn the sport of triathlon, and prepare for an ironman. Therefore I focused mainly on doing the interval, tempo, and time trial workouts for the swim bike and run, at the expense of my 4-6 crossfit workouts. I still did a lot of strength work, did the strength and conditioning recovery workouts after races, and did 1-2 crossfit workouts per week, but without the intensity and constant variation from 4-6 crossfit workouts, you simply cannot maximize the potential that comes from this style of training.

Considering the results I was able to obtain, I am very excited to see what can happen when this program is followed by the book.

Back to the seminar……Both days contained a nice mix of class room style learning inside Crossfit Vancouver and practical application outside.

We focused a lot on running technique, paleo nutrition, mobility wod, and programming a CFE training plan for athletes of all abilities. Dan would break up each individual lecture component with running drills, video, video review, lunch, or simply a Q&A period.

Because it was a crossfit Endurance seminar it was only fitting that at the end of each day we did a Met Con style WOD.

If I were to add anything in regards to constructive criticism, the seminar was a little light on the science behind why this style of training is so effective.
That being said, all that type of information is available on the Crossfit Journal, on the CFE website, or in FUTURE exercise physiology text books :).
is also a great site for more science behind the correlation between intensity/strength training and endurance performance.

I highly recommend that you attend a CFE Seminar if you are able to do so. You will meet many great people and learn a lot of valuable information.

Overall the seminar was absolutely…..

Crossfit Endurance Seminar, Vancouver, BC Oct 1-2

Posted in Lessons Learned, Paleo Athlete, Training on October 3, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

Hi all,

I attended the Crossfit Endurance Seminar this past weekend in Vancouver, hosted by Crossfit Vancouver and led by Crossfit Endurance head coach Dan Hollingsworth. It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend attending one of these seminars in the future if its possible to do so.

More to come on my learnings and experiences at the seminar.

Look out Vancouver…. I am in discussion with some excellent people whom happen to be Crossfit gym owners here in Vancouver. The goal is to start up a CFE training program designed specifically for Single sport and multi sport athletes from all levels of performance and all ranges of primary goal events.

We are on the cusp of something huge here and its going to be an exciting year ahead.

Soldiers and visionairies


Posted in Paleo Athlete, Training, Triathlon on August 25, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

Hi Everyone,

The big day is almost here! Race day is Sunday, Aug. 28th. Below is a link to
the official schedule webpage. I have also included my estimated
times for each leg so you will know when to expect me coming through
transition 1 and 2, and the finish!!!!!!

You can also track my live progress on race day through

Sunday. Aug 28

Arrive at Starting area: 5:30am

Final Bike set up and warm up in water 5:30-6:30am

Race Start: 7:00am

Swim: 55 minutes

Transition #1: 7:55am

Bike Leg: 5 hours

Transition #2: 1:00pm

Run time 3 hours, 20 minutes

Finish: 4:20-4:45pm

If all goes well and I pace properly, eat properly, drink properly,
and don’t over heat on the run, my finishing time will be 9:15:00. That may
prove to be one of the fastest finishing times for a first time
ironman age group competitor….. Pros are another story.

On the more conservative side, I hope to finish anywhere around
9:30:00 which would still be awesome!

I have been watching videos on youtube of the pros who sometimes have
a meltdown on the run and have to walk…. It truly is a race that
will make you pay if you push too hard. Its so long that patience is
a virtue. going for 9:15:00 is a gamble that could end up costing me
big time…. but hey, I have friends, family, and thousands of people
I don’t know out there cheering, and I put 6 months into training for
this thing. You better believe Im going out there to make it

Good luck to everyone competing this weekend! I wish you the best of luck.

An Experiment on Strength and Recovery, part 2

Posted in Lessons Learned, Paleo Athlete, Training, Triathlon on August 16, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

This post is a follow up to my earlier post and is also featured on Crossfit Endurance’s Brian Mackenzie’s blog If you have a moment or two, check out for more cool content from Brian and other Crossfit Endurance athletes….

An Experiment: Part 2

This past tuesday marked the end of my study. The study was on the
effect of a heavy weight training session resulting in a neuro
endocrine response during the early stage of a post race recovery

As I had mentioned in my initial description and design of the
experiment, the N. Endo response was generated by a heavy squat
workout 3 days after the Calgary half ironman 70.3 triathlon

I then executed a week of structured workouts and planned rest days.
From Wednesday Aug. 3 to Tuesday Aug. 9 my schedule included 2 full
rest days, 1 heavy weight workout, and 5 sport specific workouts
geared towards one of the three metabolic systems, Phosphagen,
Glycolytic, or, Oxidative. The workouts and rest days are listed at
the bottom of this post.

Throughout the week I used a heart rate monitor to keep track how my
body was responding to workouts. With the heart rate monitor I was
able to make sure I didn’t over do it, and hence, corrupt the
experiment by over training and foregoing the positive benefits that
were hypothesized. I did this by simply monitoring how high I could
get my heart rate and how long could it remain elevated.

From what I have gathered and what I have experienced, if its
challenging to raise your heart rate above 90% of your max and hold it
there for any period of time, its a tell tale sign that you need a
break and should take the day off.

Anyways, onto results:

I strongly feel that my hypothesis was correct and I have just
witnessed the biggest single week gains in fitness since starting my
training plan for Ironman Canada back in March.

The Hypothesis was: The Neuro-Endocrine response from the weight training on
Wednesday is mixing with the typical post race recovery process adding
a hormonal and neurological boost to the system. The body is not
just repairing from the stresses of the race, but it is also receiving
a message to get stronger and bigger ASAP.

Not unlink most post race recovery periods, I felt stronger and
stronger as this week progressed. What was unique about this recovery
period was the rate at which my top end speed and power returned.

After the sheer beat down my body took during the Calgary 70.3, I knew
I had to monitor my body closely to prevent over training during this
experiment. On Sunday, and therefore 4 days after the heavy weight
workout however, I was feeling good so I went for a hard bike up
Cypress Mountain with some friends.

During the climb I did 4×5 minute all out intervals with 3 minutes
rest in between and managed to peg my heart rate at 96% for each of
the four intervals. I tried to do a fifth but my heart rate could no
longer remain above 93% max so I called it off.

4×5 minutes at over 90 % max is a huge effort. This was never before
possible, as my legs would tire quickly at such an effort and my heart
rate would decrease as a result.

Two days later, I had a run workout in which I did 2x5km with 8 mins
rest in between. Once again, I was able to sustain a heart rate above
90% without any significant fatigue, and without any signs of post
workout muscle soreness. In fact my second interval was faster than
the first but I was going all out on both.

In conclusion my body has responded favourably to the experimental
program and I have experience significant gains in endurance, and
power as a result of the heavy weights and associated Neuro Endocrine
response early in the recovery period. I would not say I have seen
any increase in speed, and I still believe that speed is something
that takes time to develop.


Design of the Experiment/Recovery Week program:

Sunday, Race. 4:43 at over 85% max bpm
Monday, 3 hour mountain bike ride at elevation, tapping into oxidative
system, staying away from glycolytic and keeping heart rate super low
(except for when descending!)

Tuesday, Full STOP. REST like a couch potato watching Game of Thrones all day

Morning: Power Squat workout. 4 Sets, Reps 12-8-8-6,
Glute/Ham Developers 3×6
Glute/Ham Developer Sit Ups, 3×15

Afternoon: Swim, 6x100m TT with 2 minutes rest.
Staying phosphagenic. above the stressed out glycolytic system that is
still recovering from Sunday

Morning: 45 Minute mountain climb up the Grouse Grind in
Vancouver: Tapping into Glycolytic for first time since Sunday 80-85%
heart rate

Afternoon: Light technique/recovery Swim with a
friend, using go pro for video footage. (If you haven’t tried it yet,
do it! Great learning resource)

Friday, REST: Starting to feel the DOMS from the squats and the
general fatigue from a full 50 hour work week.

Saturday, Morning: 3 hour light cardio ride. No major exertions
Afternoon: Rest

Sunday: 90km with four, 5 minute all out intervals up Cypress
Mountain, with 3 minutes rest in between. I managed to do four
intervals before my heart rate could no longer remain above 93% max
heart rate, which for me is 155.
Afternoon: Technique Swim, no hard efforts

Monday: Mobilitywod

Tuesday: 2 x5km TT, on 8 minutes rest.