Category Archives: Training

Details about my training. What the plan calls for and what I accomplished.

COVID-19 v-2.0

What a difference another week makes.

My gym and pool have been shut down. This will officially last another week. It will certainly be extended.

Ironman’s post about it’s COVID-19 contingency plans have been updated with dozens of postponements.

Ironman Des Moines 70.3 and Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 aren’t affected…yet. I expect the official word to come down in a week or two. My hunch is that Des Moines (North American Championship) will be rescheduled and Wisconsin will end up cancelled. The season up here in the north is short, and there are only so many weekends available before it gets too cold. IM can only stage so many races at a time.

I have been busy getting ready for a prolonged shutdown. Freezer and pantry are full. Yes, I have toilet paper. No, I don’t have hand sanitizer.

I am a primary care physician. I will be on the front lines for the foreseeable future (unless/until I get sick). I need to care for my neighbors and my community while keeping my family safe. That will be tough to do when Personal protective Equipment (PPE) are already in short supply. Running, biking, and swimming are my escape, my time to decompress, my time for me.

That won’t be happening. Not for a long time. It would be selfish to even try.

My 2020 racing season ends now. I have a bigger fight to face, and it will take everything I have.

I won’t be signing up for Wisconsin. I’ll take the deferral to 2021 for Des Moines. Lifetime Triathlon Minneapolis might get pushed back. If life has settled down by then, I might just do the sprint (signed up for the Olympic, but I don’t think that will be realistic this year). Twin Cities Loony Challenge (5k, 10 k, 10 mile) is scheduled for October. That will hopefully be unaffected. Maybe I’ll actually get some run training in for that one…maybe.

Exercise will occur when I can fit it in (or when my sanity needs it). I can run on the treadmill or outside. I can bike on the trainer. Maybe, I’ll be able to bike outside at some point…but I doubt that maintaining the paved bike trails at my favorite park will be a priority and will likely remain closed. Maybe I’ll do some weight training. No swimming anytime soon.

Hopefully, this won’t be as bad as I expect it to be. Eventually, we will get to a “new normal”. With luck, it may look a lot like the normal we used to know.

Stay safe. Be kind. Take care of each other. Hug your loved ones. Appreciate all that you hold dear. Together, we will get thru this…

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What a difference a week makes.

When I last updated my blog, I touched on Covid-19 and the possible implications for the 2020 season. Well, those possibilities became reality in the past few days. Everything is being cancelled…NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA, NCAA…and Ironman.

To tell the truth, I had expected this weeks ago when the Tokyo Marathon was canceled. I was surprised when I first heard of it, but it made a lot of sense after I gave it some thought. It was actually the only reasonable option. I knew the virus was coming to the United States and I expected this response.

I had also accepted this likely outcome.

I had accepted that this might be a training year. I reflected on the WHY of what I do. Much of it is to stay healthy. Much of it is because of the community I share.

To protect these things I value, small sacrifices need to be made. I understand the difficult choices being made and respect those making them.

So far, Ironman has postponed 3 full distance events and 9 70.3 events. More will follow. My planned races are still on, but this may change. Both races are in mid-June (Wisconsin 70.3 and Des Moines 70.3). I don’t expect to see a status update until much closer to race day. June is a long way off, and the new reality we are in might be behind us…or not. I suspect late-season events will go on as planned. Early season events are more iffy…

Ironman has put forward a great plan about how they will handle this. If the event is postponed, athletes will automatically be entered into the new event date. Athletes can request a deferral to next years event instead if the athlete wishes. If the event is cancelled, then all athletes are automatically entered into next years event. If neither works (or if the athlete cannot attend do to illness), IM will try to make suitable accommodations.

Considering that we all sign a “no refunds” waiver, I thought that was a very positive response.

So, how do I move forward with training?

Well, I stay flexible. I remember that this is an exercise in my physical well-being, and that is the goal.

I have a plan with a target race in mid-June and I will stick with that plan. If the race is postponed, then I will recalibrate with the new date in mind. If the event is cancelled, then I will just stay the course and possibly do a solo 70.3 at home. If I get sick, I take care of myself (or my loved ones) and get back to training when I can. Whatever happens, I have the motivation to stay fit and active.

As for the specific workouts, most are COVID-19 safe. I bike on the trainer (and outside when weather permits). I run on the treadmill and outside. None of those activities place me at risk. I think the pool swims are safe (I’m not close to anyone, I only use my own equipment, and the virus doesn’t transmit in water). I just need to be careful in the changing rooms (don’t touch my face, wash my hands after I touch anything). I will skip my spin classes (too much close proximity and I don’t want to touch public gym equipment) so I’ll substitute more time on my bike trainer. I have a small home gym and I need to use it more.

Staying fit, and not over-training, are likely my best defense against this virus (along with social distancing and hand-washing).

Stay healthy everyone. Be safe and take care of each other.

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…and so it begins.

My 16 week training plan for IM Des Moines 70.3 formally began last week. I normally don’t do training plans. I typically just make it up as I go. But this one scares me. I’m a lot slower then I used to be (and I was pretty slow to begin with), so I honestly don’t know if I will be able to make the cutoff times. That’s when I turn to a training plan…when I’m a little scared. The only other time I did so was for Ironman Wisconsin in 2014.  “Be Iron Fit” by Don Fink got me across the finish line before. Hoping the 70.3 version of his plan does it again this year.

For the past two months, I’ve been working on base training. Goal was to work on general fitness and to make it part of the routine. I re-joined the gym and have been in the pool twice a week (even for the 2 weeks that the pool heater broke down). I tried a spin class and added that to my weekly schedule. I also dug out my bike trainer and have done at least two sessions a week. My efforts at getting on the treadmill were…less successful.

I’ll be doing a modified “Just Finish” plan. Basically, I’ll be moving around the workouts to fit my schedule. The recomended training sessions will be viewed as minimums. The program is rather light and I will shoot to get it closer to the “Intermediate” plan if I can. I just don’t want to risk burnout like I experienced training for IM Wisconsin.

The “elephant in the room” this year is coronavirus. Given how it just caused a complete shutdown of Italy, I expect disruptions to occur. The gym might be closed. The event might be postponed or canceled (look at the Tokyo Marathon). I work in the front lines in health care. These disruptions are the least of my worries about this pandemic…but this blog is about running and triathlon, so I will just look at it thru that lens for this blog. If Des Moines cancels large public events, I will accept that. If IM feels it is unsafe to move forward with the race, I will accept that too. I would not want to put the health of volunteers at risk, or place an additional strain on the health care resources of the host community. If this turns out to be a training only year, so be it. The goal is fitness. The events are the motivation. Ironman has put out a vague statement that they are monitoring the situation and will make decisions on a race by race basis. Plan for the worst, hope for the best…

As for the rest of my season, I am still considering doing IM 70.3 Wisconsin. It is 1 week before Des Moines. I will be trained, and I should be fully recovered from Wisconsin in time to race Des Moines. I have adjusted my work schedule and have reserved a motel (fully cancellable until the day before the race). The race does not usually sellout so I could register on site the day before. Weather is the other wildcard here. The lake is large and can be cold and rough. The bike is hilly and could be treacherous if it’s raining. Weather has not been kind to this event in the past few years, and I won’t sign up if it doesn’t look good due to weather (or coronavirus). Des Moines, on the other hand, I will be attending unless it gets canceled.

After that, Lifetime Minneapolis Triathlon (Olympic Distance) in July, and the Twin Cities Loony Challenge (10k, 5k, 10 Mile) in October. My application to the NYC Marathon was not successful, but I really wasn’t planning another marathon until next year anyways.

So, a bit more uncertainty on the table this season then usual, but I am actually eager to train for a 70.3. Didn’t think that would happen again. So I will focus on what I can control, and leave the rest to fate.

15 weeks to go…

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Inching My Way Out Of Long Course “Retirement”…Part 2

Since my last post 8 months ago, I have been trying to keep up the momentum and returning to longer events in 2020.

Its been rough.

Since my post, I participated in my first Tour de Tonka bike ride since 2014. It was also the first time that I didn’t do the 100 mile century ride. I opted instead for the 57 mile route to mimic my upcoming Half Ironman.

I was a struggle. It was slow. It was painful. I have work to do…

I was then signed up for the Twin Cites looney challenge. This is a 10k/5k combo run on Saturday and a 10 miler on Sunday.

The Saturday Events were canceled due to lightning. The 10 miler was beautiful and I felt good (but quite slow…where did all of my speed go???)

A couple of weeks later, I did the Detroit Marathon Motor City Challenge (1 mile/5k Saturday, Half Marathon Sunday). This was an absolute mess.

It turned out that my College Reunion was that same weekend. It was a 3 hour drive from Detroit. It was also a semi formal dress event. No problem, I can do it all…

I showed up for the 1 mile, and the weather was cold but beautiful. I decided to go all out. I sprinted the race start to finish. I thought I was gonna die when I crossed the finish line (damn cold/exercise induced asthma).

Finish Time: 8:05.

Not what I wanted to see. My PR is 6:43. I once did a Half Marathon at an average pace of 7:57/mile. Again, very disappointed with my lack of speed.

The 5k started shortly after that. I just did a slow recovery run knowing I had a HM the next day. Even so, I struggled since my asthma was still flaring up.

After that, I went home and changed into my class reunion suit and new dress shoes (didn’t fit very well…huge mistake) and drove the 3 hours to my old alma mater. When I got there, I had a walking tour of campus (damn shoes were killing me) then a couple of receptions where I was mostly standing around.

I left the reunion around 1am. I could barely walk back to my car since my feet were hurting so bad. I then did the three hour drive to the starting line in Detroit. Along the way, I did a quick change of gear and drank a few gallons of coffee. By the time the race started, I had been up 28 straight hours, had blistered feet, and had to run to the bathroom every five minutes.

As you can guess, it didn’t go well.

I finished in just under three hours (PR: 1:44). But about 45 minutes of that time was spent in porta potty lines.

And, with that train wreck, my season ended.

So, I have a Half Ironman in June. I haven’t been to a pool in over 2 years, a 57 mile bike ride took me several hours (and almost killed me), and a HM took about 3 hours (and almost killed me).

I had a lot of work to do…



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Inching My Way Out Of Long-Course “Retierment”…

Ever since I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin 5 years ago, I have struggled with staying motivated. I had continued to run marathons and short distance triathlon, but without joy or motivation.

I was going thru the motions.

After last year’s final race (Twin Cities 10 Mile), I sat on the couch and stayed there for 6 months. I approached the upcoming (minimalistic) season with dread.

But a funny thing happened when I started running this year. I was enjoying myself again. I was doing longer runs because I wanted to do it. I found myself planing activities around my workouts (and not being resentful of those workouts). It had been a long time…

I’m not exactly sure what triggered this shift, but I have a few suspicions.

1. I’m turning 50 this year. Midlife Crisis v.2.0.
2. College Reunion – 25 years
3. A friend is training for her first 70.3. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
4. I haven’t seen any signs of any of the big dogs freely roaming the neighborhood this season.
5. There’s a new walking path leading out of my neighborhood, along the highway, connecting me to all of the running trails in town. Much more variety making the runs more interesting.

All of this has got me wondering about possibly tackling a longer event. Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 was launched 3 years ago and I occasionally considered doing this race as it is close to home.

I could never pull the trigger since it is a very hilly course, and I am not skilled on the bike. The downhills terrifies me and the race always had the threat of severe weather. But I was starting to consider signing up for 2020.

That is when Ironman announced the inaugural Ironman 70.3 – Des Moines (North American Championships). Event was closer to home, it would take place on a flatter course with a smaller/calmer lake. It was also 1 week later then Wisconsin would be which allows for a little bit more outdoor training for an early season event.

That was enough for me. I signed up for my first Ironman event since 2014.

The rest of 2013 is already locked in place (sprint Triathlon next week, Twin Cities 10 Mile in October). I don’t think I will add any more events this season (I was doing WAY too many races before), but 2020 already has me working on improved base fitness and proper nutrition again.

I’m also getting the itch to do another full marathon…but one thing at a time.

Feels good to be back!



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Training Week #31 (Post Race Recovery Week)

The goal was to do nothing. Get some rest, let my body heal and catch up on other things that have been neglected for far too long.

I have spent the last 30 weeks ignoring my training plan. Why should this week be any different?

The Plan:

0:00 hour swim, 0:00 hour bike, 0:00 hour run
Total-0:00 hours/0 activities

What I did:
Saturday-1:02 run (6.2 miles)
Sunday-2:08 run (12.1 miles)

Weekly Total
0:00 swim, 0:00 bike, 3:10 run (% change from week 29: -100%, -100%, -54.9%)
0:00 mile swim, 0:00 mile bike, 18.3 mile run (% change from week 29: -100%, -100%, -41.5%)

Total-3:10 hours/18.3 miles/2 activities

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Training Week #30 (Race Week)

My final training week, which wasn’t much of a training week. I was focusing on the open water swim, and got a long swim without a wetsuit (just in case) and  very short spins and shorter runs. I did my last loop around the neighborhood, and my last workout before leaving for Madison was identical to my first. I was not going out on the bike, too many participants seemed to be getting injured on their last rides…everyone recommended to stay inside where it was safe!

Once I got to Madison, I only did one workout-an open water swim in Lake Monona. The water tempurature was such that I knew that I would go with a sleeveless wetsuit and I wanted to have a little practice on the actual course.

Race day came and went. This will be documented in other posts. But it gives me my final totals for this training block: over 4000 miles and over 450 hours. I am stunned by these numbers. I didn’t know I could dedicate myself to training like this. In the end it was all worthwhile. I am an Ironman.


The Plan:

Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:15 run (with transition)
Thursday-0:30 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-0:40 run
Saturday-0:15 bike/0:20 run

1:30 hour swim, 2:00 hour bike, 2:15 hour run
Total-5:45 hours + Race/12 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:33 run/0:54 OWS-no wetsuit (3.1 mile/1.2 mile)
Wednesday-0:37 bike/0:18 run (8.75 miles/2.0 miles)
Friday-0:50 OWS-sleeveless-Lake Monona (1.25 miles)
Sunday-1:28 swim/7:38 bike/6:10 run (2.4 miles/112 miles/26.2 miles)

Weekly Total
3:12 swim, 8:15 bike, 7:01 run (% change from week 29: -12.7%, 43.9%, -46.3%)
4.85 mile swim, 120.75 mile bike, 31.3 mile run (% change from week 29: -4.0%, +50.2%, +173.4%)

Total-18:28 hours/156.9 miles/8 activities

Final 30 Week Grand Totals:
Swim-79:51 hours/116.15 miles
Bike-193:13 hours/2818.05 miles
Run-184:15 hours/1066.2 miles

Total-457:19 hours/4000.4 miles


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Training Week #29 (Taper Week)

Next week is race week, and my training is winding down fast. My last long bike, brick, and run all happened this week (and all were among the shortest of the year). I had my last training session in Elk Creek, possibly for the season. The only thing I am ramping up right now is the open water swin as I have done very little this year (lake conditions were poor and swimmers advised not to swim). I am doing training sessions in my full sleeve wetsuit, sleeveless wetsuit, and no wetsuit just to practice all scenarios. The beach is crowded and I am having to swim around kids and families. I had one practice in the rain and the beach was all but empty, and I did a 2.5 mile swim. This helped calm my nerves about doing such a long OWS.

Next week will be very relaxed. Workouts will include 30 minute spins and 15 minute runs. Once I get to Madison, I will hop into the lake every day, and do one bike ride just long enough the check the gears, brakes and lubrication. Race day is almost here.

The Plan:

Tuesday-1:00 swim/0:45 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:15 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-0:45 run
Saturday-2:00 bike/0:30 run
Sunday-1:00 bike/1:00 run

2 hour swim, 4:45 hour bike, 3:15 hour run
Total-10:00 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:32 bike/0:30 run (7.0 miles/3.2 miles)
Wednesday-0:45 bike (10 miles)
Thursday-1:53 bike/0:31 run/1:59 OWS-sleeveless wetsuit (28.4 miles/3.1 miles/2.55 miles)
Friday-0:45 bike (10 miles)
Saturday-1:33 run/0:55 swim C1-FS wetsuit (9.0 miles/1.3 miles)
Sunday-1:49 bike/0:46 swim-sleeveless wetsuit(25 miles/1.2 miles)

Weekly Total
3:40 swim, 5:44 bike, 2:34 run (% change from week 28: +6.3%, +7.5%, -46.3%)
5.05 mile swim, 80.4 mile bike, 15.3 mile run (% change from week 28: -3.8%, +4.6%, -45.1%)

Total-11:58 hours/100.75 miles/11 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-76:39 hours/111.3 miles
Bike-184:58 hours/2697.3 miles
Run-177:14 hours/1034.9 miles

Total-438:51 hours/3843.5 miles

1 week to go.

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Training Week #28 (Taper Week)

I needed to get to taper week. I have been pushing myself well past the red line since Muncie, and last week was completely insane. Over 28 hours of training? A 114 mile bike/23 mile run? My first 50k? My body was screaming for sleep and recovery…demands which were completely ignored until now.

Looking at it, this was still a heavy week. A few months ago, it would have been a huge week. A 15 mile run. A 60 mile bike/3.1 mile run. Two 1.5 mile swims and  two OWS. I am looking forward to slashing it even more next week. Letting the mind and body rest is the biggest priority. Doing just enough to maintain is the key. Also, I am doing some final prep for the event. I bought a headlamp for the second lap of the run (I should be in darkness by then), and I did my first (and only) night run. I am getting some long overdue OWS sessions in a wetsuit-something that will be a big priority the rest of the way. My swim fitness is dialed in, but I need to be more comfortable in open water and in a wetsuit. I drank my first Red Bull (since I discovered that it will be on run aid stations), and will try chicken broth during my long workouts next week. Finally, I am trying not to freak out. I have done everything I could to prepare. Some things are out of my control. I just need to trust in the training and finish what I started…


The Plan:


Tuesday-1:00 swim/0:45 run

Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)

Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike

Friday-1:00 run

Saturday-4:00 bike/0:30 run

Sunday-1:00 bike/2:00 run

2 hour swim, 6:45 hour bike, 4:45 hour run

Total-13:30 hours/11 activities

What I did:


Tuesday-0:31 run/1:00 swim (3.3 miles/1.5 miles)

Wednesday-0:46 bike/0:31 run(10.0 miles/3.3 miles)

Thursday-3:48 bike/0:32 run (56.9 miles/3.1 miles)

Friday-0:46 bike/1:00 swim (10.0 miles/1.5 miles)

Saturday-2:39 run/0:38 OWS C1 full sleeve wetsuit(15.0 miles/1.0 miles)

Sunday-0:34 night run/0:49 OWS C5 full sleeve wetsuit (3.2 miles/1.25 miles)

Weekly Total

3:27 swim, 5:20 bike, 4:47 run (% change from week 27: +3.5%, -47.9%, -68.4%)

5.25 mile swim, 76.9 mile bike, 27.9 mile run (% change from week 27: +5.0%, -48.8%, -66.7%)

Total-13:34hours/110.05 miles/12 activities

Grand Totals:

Swim-72:59 hours/106.25 miles

Bike-179:14 hours/2616.9 miles

Run-174:40 hours/1019.6 miles

Total-426:53 hours/3742.75 miles

2 weeks to go.


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Training Week #27 (Peak Training Week)

This was it, the final week of peak Ironman training. Several weeks ago, I was struggling to complete 12-14 hours of training per week. But I kept pushing and have been completing 22-23 hour training weeks for the last 4 weeks. After this week, I would need to cut back and rest. This was my last chance to push myself as hard as possible. I doubt I will ever have this opportunity again. I continued my daily run to improve my run fitness while fatigued. I would extend my long brick and long run. There were 2 more ironman distance swims. Numerous milestones were reached this week. 100 mile total swim. 2500 mile total bike. 400 total training hours. I will likely hit 1000 running miles next week. I completed my first ever ultra distance run (50k) on my final training day. This week shows my biggest running volume ever-83.9 miles. It was also my biggest training week of my life, logging 28 hours and 42 minutes of physical activity.

This was also a week of “the last time”. Since I do not plan on running another full distance triathlon again, I doubt I will ride more then 60 miles or swim more then 1.5 miles ever again. Hitting those final workouts was somewhat bittersweet.

Moving forward, I need to cut way back. I must let my body heal and recover while not losing fitness. Sleep will be as important as anything else. Adjusting my nutrition for the decreased activity will be critical. I also need to work on a few skills. Mostly, I need to add some open water wetsuit swims. Finally, I need to sort out some logistical issues (special needs bags, flashlights for night running, final bike tune up, reviewing the event guide, etc). There is nothing more that I can do to improve my race day fitness. I just need to stay healthy and focused on my ultimate goal…

The Plan:

Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-1:00 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:30 bike
Friday-1:30 run
Saturday-6:00 bike/1:00 run
Sunday-1:30 bike/3:00 run

2 hour swim, 10:00 hour bike, 7:00 hour run
Total-19 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:47 bike/1:00 run (10 miles/6.5 miles)
Wednesday-1:00 run/1:38 swim (6.5 miles/2.5 miles)
Thursday-7:20 bike/4:03 run (114.1 miles/23.3 miles)
Friday-1:42 swim/1:06 run (2.5 miles/6.5 miles)
Saturday-1:41 run/2:07 bike (10 miles/26 miles)
Sunday-5:52 run (31.1 miles)

Weekly Total
3:20 swim, 10:14 bike, 15:08 run (% change from week 26: -3.4%, -0.3%, +58.5%)
5.0 mile swim, 150.1 mile bike, 83.9 mile run (% change from week 26: +0.0%, -0.9%, +48.0%)

Total-28:42 hours/239.0 miles/11 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-69:32 hours/101.0 miles
Bike-173:54 hours/2540.0 miles
Run-169:53 hours/991.7 miles

Total-413:19 hours/3632.7 miles

3 weeks to go.

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