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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back to the heavyweight - How to basal metabolic rate PART 2

So now I know my resting metabolic rate - link to PART I. If you remember, your RMR is basically how many calories you expend just sitting on the couch doing nothing.

However, most of us are doing things during the day other than sitting on the couch. We have to go to work, we have chores, and we get to train. We need to add those calories to the RMR to know how many calories to eat in a given day.

So, for me, I make sure I get my RMR calories and then I add a few more for my activities. Unfortunately I have a sedentary desk job. No matter how hard I type on a keyboard I am not expending very many calories. (On a sidebar I do boost my metabolism by doing a few exercises at my desk and I make sure I always take the stairs!) I am always conscious with my weight so I am conservative. I doing the Activity Factor of sedentary of which is RMR x 1.2. My daily calories for just living are 1670 x 1.2 = 2004 calories. This includes walking around, sitting in the car other mundane tasks.

Next is factoring in your training. You have to add more calories back into your diet for the calories that you expend. A good rule of thumb for running is 100 calories per mile regardless of speed. This actually works out to be fairly accurate. And remember, we do not have to be exact; we just need to be close. Monday was a recovery day after a lot of cycling miles over the weekend. I went for an easy 3 mile run at lunch with a friend. It does not matter how long the run took; it only matters how far – 3 miles. I add those 300 calories to my RMR + activity calories and get 2004 + 300. To maintain my weight I need about 2300 calories yesterday.

That works out pretty good. On a side note, I almost always underestimate calories burned. The machines at the gym, the heart rate monitors and almost all other methods lie – they grossly overestimate. Take a look at the treadmill the next time you are on it – it is very, very hard to burn a 1000 calories an hour.

Also, you must remember that while you were exercising you were actually alive. Your RMR has already counted those calories. For me that is 1670 calories a day which is nearly 70 calories per hour. Since it took about 30 minutes to run those 3 easy miles I have to deduct 35 calories from my 2300 calories. That might not seem like much but I know some of you are doing 3 and 4 hour bike rides and bricks and such. Those 70 calories an hour do start to make a difference.

I know it looks like it is hard to manage but it is just habit. Stay tuned, I will show you how.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back to the heavyweight - How to basal metabolic rate

After my return home from Boston I was scared to set foot on the scale. Lack of exercise and overindulgence on food and drink would nudge the number higher. I have not been following my diet since the Pump and Run. I was a little under weight for that race – for obvious reasons but I rebounded more than I would have liked. Normally I bounce around 159 – 161 pounds. So I got on the scale after the travel and I was 8 pounds over my Pump and Run weight. That is over 5 percent in a month. I weighed 165 pounds which is the most this year!

Last year while training for ironman I dipped down to right around 155 pounds. I think it would be tough for me to get down there again. I have put on some muscle mass (not just from the pump and run) this year.
A full day of calories for many people!

Simply getting back into my routine has allowed for my body to respond and drop some of the weight. I have dropped 3 pounds in 3 days but that was the water weight. The next few pounds will be harder. It is time to get back on the horse and start the food journal back up. If you want to change something you have to know where you are. I actually have a pretty good understanding of where I am but the practice of documenting will get me on the fast track.

For those that do not know where to start, first you need to know your basal metabolic rate or more accurately their resting metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories you need to just live – nothing more. There are two formulas for calculating your BMR or RMR (for our ball park purposes these terms are interchangeable). The standard formulas are the Harris-Benedict and the Muffin. Where w – weight in kg, h – height in cm, and a = age. Let’s run the numbers for me – weight = 161 lbs = 73 kg, height 5’7” = 170 cm, age = 37.

H-B MEN = (13.75 x w) + (5 x h) – (6.73 x a) + 66 = 1670.74 calories

H-B WOMEN = (9.56 x w) + (1.85 x h) – (4.68 x a) + 655 = 1494.22 calories

Muffin MEN = (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) - (5 x a) + 5 = 1612.5 calories

Muffin WOMEN = (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) - (5 x a) – 161 = 1446.5 calories

These are all pretty close. This is the amount of calories you expend sitting on the coach, doing nothing. Next you can multiply the RMR by an activity factor.

Activity Factor Category Definition
1.2   Sedentary Little or no exercise and desk job
1.375 Lightly Active Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week
1.55  Moderately Active Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week
1.725 Very Active Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week4
1.9   Extremely Active Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job

So, for example if I take the RMR from the Harris Benedict calculation and I say that I am Very Active then I get – 1670.74 x 1.725 = 2882 calories per day. A Big Mac, large fries and a large regular soda is 1350 calories. Almost half of you daily allowance (if you are indeed VERY ACTIVE). If you are sedentary then you will only need 2004 calories and this meal is nearly 70% of your daily calories.

There have been numerous studies that indicate that it is not that important for the numbers to be extremely accurate; it is enough to see results if the numbers are just close. This is because the average person has no idea the number of calories in the food that they are consuming. Most people will grossly underestimate the number of calories in their food and then grossly overestimate the number of calories that they expend. They will see results if they can just get close to reality.

I remember a few years ago I was talking with a co-worker that was very overweight. She stopped at Hardee’s on the way to work and picked up a 6 pack of their little hamburgers. I think they called them slammers (I don’t think they make them anymore). I told her that the amount of calories and fat were more than she needed for the entire day much less than for lunch. She looked up the nutritional information on the website and said “See there, they are only about 100 calories each.” I took a look at the website and she was reading the chart incorrectly. They only weighed about 100 grams – not calories. The number of calories for each slammer was 280 calories (6 x 280 = 1680 calories). She still did not believe the numbers and was certain that the website was mistaken. Good figure.

Now if you look at that VERY ACTIVE amount of calories (2882) and try to eat only health, nutrient dense foods you will see that it is a whole heck of a lot of food. Do you know how many raw vegetables that is? How many boiled eggs? How about glasses of almond milk? How many pounds of lean chicken breast? When you eat healthy it is hard to eat enough!

Link to a BMR Calc

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back in the saddle

I got back in the swing of thing this weekend. While I was in Boston the temperature was 93 degrees. Now, that is hot but it was nothing compared to Mississippi. As soon as I walked off of the airplane it hit me. Prior to the plane landing I took off my sweater. The gang plank was hot and humid. New Orleans was having that same mid nineties temperature but the humidity was also high. It was sweltering.
Super geeky cycling jersey (I got it last week in Boston)

That did not stop the cycling. I was not able to locate a group ride of Saturday due to a race taking place. There were several people participating. Raland won the Clydesdale division, Chris placed third overall all and Sam won the dang thing. I would say that Hattiesburg was well represented!

So, without the group ride I jumped on the mountain bike. I rode several different trails and racked up nearly an hour of off road adventure. This was only like 6 miles. This mountain bike riding is so much different than road bike riding. This is a poor analogy but for me it is more like swimming. It is all technical based. On the road I can select intensity and just churn out the miles. With the off rode it is constant up and down and speeding up and slowing down. It is intense but the workouts were not focused. I still had a great time. In fact later in the day I had another opportunity to get out after the heat had subsided some and rode another 4 miles. Prior to the plane landing I took off my sweater.

On Sunday I did a good tempo ride on the triathlon bike. I rode just under an hour (20 miles) at a set intensity. I tried to peg my heart rate at my Zone 4 LTHR (164 – 173 BPM). I was able to keep it right in that range. I made sure my heart rate did not drop below 165 and backed off when I approached 170 BPM. It was a solid ride and I was dripping when I finished.

A little later in the day I grabbed the Sunday group ride. I was heading to the trail head and ran into Raland at Jackson Station. We were going to ride together but he noticed he had a slow leak in his front tire. He shot it full of CO2 but it continued to leak. The ride had a gash in it so he had to hurry back home to grab a new tube AND tire. I went to the trail head without him.

There was a large group of rides considering that it was such a hot day. I was talking with some of the guys as we rolled along at an easy pace when we heard the distinctive sound of bikes on bikes. I slowed down and it looked like one of those wrecks you see during a tour. Well, it was not that bad but people were trying to avoid the three bikes on the ground. There were no serious injuries but one helmet had hit rather hard. After the situation was surveyed and it was seen that everyone was okay we started out again. It is fortunate that we were riding of the trace. There were no cars or any kind of traffic to deal with!

After Sumrall we left the trace and hit a few rolling hills. This was a strong group and the pace was fast at times. Raland was back in the group and he made a breakaway. I let a bit of a gap widen before I took off in pursuit. I was able to grab his wheel and we were riding strong. However, it did not take long for some of the others to bridge the gap and reel us in. It was a hard fun ride. I think I consumed 5 bottles of water in the 40 miles. It was hot!

So I rode for about 4 and half hours this past weekend. I made up for a little bit of lost time last week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Homeward bound - back to the routine

So I have been at a computer conference for the past week. You would think that I would have been able to post often. But, no internet access in the hotel – well, I’m not willing to pay for internet access in the hotel. I also brought my laptop but it is a ‘desktop replacement’ computer which means it is HUGE and weighs a ton. Back to the events of the week.


I have missed you guys. I am not current on any of the blogs I follow. I have been away from home and my routines all week. I have missed a lot of things.


Boston Common

Lunch in Chinatown

Dessert in Chinatown

Harvard Square

Harvard Redline Stop

First, this conference provided almost all of the meals and snacks. I think this is what most people eat everyday – the food was, well, typical. I am only speaking of the types of food not the quality. Breakfast consisted of assorted Danishes, cereals, yogurt, etc. These foods taste great but are all highly refined and full of sugar. I quickly noticed that I was going from a diet of 40 – 50 grams of fiber to a diet which is more typical of the average US population. This means that I was eating less than 5 grams of fiber a day! I am pretty sure that is the typical American diet. I can’t believe this.

Lunch was various sandwiches on white highly refined bread. Lots of meat choices. There was a vegetarian option but it was not ideal. It did have vegetables but they were sautéed in oil. There were also chips and various kinds of cookies and brownies.

Each evening there was ‘happy hour’ - The beer flowed freely. I am not complaining here; the beer was of fine quality – Harp’s, Sam Adams, Magic Hat, etc. They were all very high calorie – and delicious.

For diner it was more of the same – lots of meat and refined grains. I did not realize that my diet, although very simple, varies so much from the mainstream. I know many people that I consider to have extreme diets that require a lot of preparation and expense (raw food diet) – to each his own. But my diet takes very little extra effort or expense and is so much better than mainstream.

Now, on to the exercise front. I knew that I would not be able to doing much of anything except run. I had hoped to be able to explore Boston by foot – I love doing that in new cities. You can really get to the soul of the town. However, I registered late for this conference and I had to stay at a nice hotel – at the airport. To get to any green space I have to take a shuttle to a subway. I could have done this – I should have done this but I did not. In fact I was at these conferences from dawn till dusk. There were so many actives scheduled that I just made it back to the hotel each night and climbed into bed. There was a ‘pub crawl’ scheduled last night – I skipped that!

Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot and had a very good time but I fell off of my diet routine and my exercise routine. I would love to stay that this was a recovery week but with the long hours, bad food and much drink my body is probably less recovered than if I was racking up the miles.

Tri-bike with straight bar

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Boston is great but ...

- I walked my legs off yesterday and ran on the treadmill this morning - but - I miss my bikes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mountain bikes - when it rains it pours!

Check out the Tech-tri blog .  Jason is giving away a cool Canon camera!

I have been looking for about a year to find a good deal on a mountain bike. The last two bikes that I have bought have been off of eBay and they have been incredible deals. I am willing to wait until I find the right bike for the right price. I also bought some cycling gear.

So, as time sometimes happens – everything falls together at once. My helmet fits me great but the padding is starting to break down badly. Also, you should replace your helmet about every 3 years. I am a helmet proponent! I have crashed and hit my head and walked away with just a little bit of road rash. In fact, just last week one of my friends went down at the end of a group ride. He cracked his helmet through on the temple area. He was not any worse for the wear. I wear a helmet and I replace them when they get long in the tooth.

So, last Thursday I ordered a new helmet. On Friday I bought a 1 year old mountain bike on Craig’s list. Everything was looking cool. However, the more I adjusted and tinkered with the mountain bike the more I realized that it was just too big me. It looked big for me and against my better judgment I went ahead and purchased it. I just wanted a mountain bike that bad. Well, I was bummed out some but I knew that I got such a great deal that I could ride the bike for a few months while I looked for a new bike and still get my purchase price out of it (or at least most of it).

Then on Saturday I got an email from Raland. He was at the Treasure Hunt – the local salvage store. This place is a flea market wonderland. They get stuff from store closing and damaged goods. The stock turns over constantly. Anyway, Raland said that they had the goods from a bike store in Nashville – water damage.

I took a drive down there and I ran into a practical who’s who in the cycling / triathlon Hattiesburg scene. I talked the talked and walked the walked and picked over the stock. I ended up getting a new road helmet (Giro Atmos), a mountain bike helmet, a couple of new race ties, some tube patch kits, some bar tape and another mountain bike. I bought 2 mountain bikes this week!  You don't know me - don't judge!  I am finding homes for two of my bikes - that should help keep the stable to an acceptable number.  There is an old joke - What is the optimum number of bikes.  The answer:  Current + 1.

For exercise this weekend I did a 40+ group road ride, two mountain bike rides and a fast 5 mile tempo run. I will be out of town all this week in Boston for work. I hope to find a few people to run along the emerald necklace.

These trails are a quarter mile from my house!  Time to learn some real bike handling skills!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big WEEKDAY riding

I got bike heavy this week. On Tuesday, with commute I got about 34 miles. I hit the treadmill at lunch. On Wednesday was a swim at lunch and then I did an after work ride.

This ride is, as Butch puts it, this is a WEAR YOUR BIG BOY PANTS AND KNOW YOU WAY HOME ride. I was a little bit worried. I asked Sam if he had ever done the ride. He said, “What ride – that is a race!” He gave me a little bit of advice and said do not take a pull – just cycle out on the pace line. They will wait and detect when you are tired and BAM – you are dropped.

I rode from campus to Jackson Station. My legs were heavy. I was going to go ahead and ride home but Butch persuaded me to partake – he should be a politician. We headed out at an easy pace. Chewing the fat – easy riding. I still did not jump into the lead. We pulled onto Military Road which is just past Eply Station. Once we crossed 589 the pace picked up. Like I said, I was not going to take any pulls. I just grabbed onto the fastest wheel and hung on. The ride was a challenge and it was GREAT FUN! I think this will become a weekly ride.

I still made the Thursday morning ride and it ended up being a ‘King of the Mountain’ type ride. We headed out from Jackson Station at 5:45AM. There was a little bit of jockeying until we got to Eply Road then it broke open. We had a new rider doing some research here from Purdue. He was a strong rider. I, once again, rode a tactical ride. I only took a pull here or there and really just to break the ride up. I sprinted ahead hard towards the end of the approximately 10.5 mile hilly out and back and forced the peloton to pick up the pace. It was a little dirty to sit in the pack and then sprint at the end but I did capture the KOM for the day.  The KOM portion averaged 23 MPH.

Three weekdays and about 100 miles + the 50 or so from the weekend; this has been a big cycling week for me!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Treadmill Fartleks?

Quick note - there is a great sunscreen give away over at MISSZIPPY.  Check it out.

Monday was back in the pool. I did 250 yard repeats and was out pretty quick. The legs were tired from the weekend. The hills from the bike on Saturday and the hard (but not fast) effort on the super hot Sunday run took a little bit out of me. Plus, I probably did not recover as well as I could have. I went to a World Cup party on Saturday and a Beer Club meeting on Sunday – not excessive but I am sure it did not help the recovery.

Tuesday brought another morning group ride. There were a couple of guys that wanted to do the 22 mile out and back solo at a solid tempo pace. I simply can’t recover from so many hard efforts so I grabbed the fastest wheels and held on. This was a good strategy for me. I got a good workout and I never pushed it into the red. The 'group ride' portion - me hanging off a wheel - averaged over 23 MPH for the 22 miles.  The total miles with commute checked in at about 28 miles.

For lunch I was planning on using some of my new LTHR numbers to push the tempo pace. It is still blistering here in Mississippi so I opted for the treadmill. I actually enjoy the treadmill for heart rate workouts. The machine can take out all of the guess work - I just have to run. I did an easy 10 minute warm up at 10 minutes per mile. In the past I did not use any warm ups and when I did they were too fast. I have found with the treadmill that the warm up is beneficial for both me and the machine.

After the ten minutes I pushed the pace to a comfortably hard level. These numbers are not really comparable to the real world but I punched the treadmill up to 9.5 MPH (6:18 pace). This was too easy for the first 10 minutes or so but my heart rate slow increased to the prescribed range. If you remember, my Zone 4 heart rate range for running is now 175 – 184. I actually think this range is a little high – I am going to have to push hard to get into this range. I have experienced, in training, that my hard heart rate number is right at 172 BPM. If I push much harder I get into the red zone. I have some workouts planned that should help increase my LTHR – like 5 minutes at 172 followed by a couple of minutes at 175 and then back to 172 – repeat as necessary – but those workout are for another day.

Today’s work out was going to be 10 minutes x 3 at ~170 BPM with 3 minutes recovery at an easy pace. With warm up and cool down it would be 56 minutes (10 + 10 + 3 + 10 + 3 + 10 + 10). Now this is where self coaching fails. I was feeling great at the 10 minute mark and decided to change the workout on the fly. Why? I don’t know. I was feeling strong.  Anyway I decided to do 15 minutes x 2 with a short recovery. This is where the workout fell apart. However, it was not my fault this time!

At just about 13 minutes the treadmill gave up the ghost. I was running along at my comfortably hard pace feeling good – which means, yeah I wanted to stop but I did not have to stop. So the treadmill just starts slowing down. I have crippled one of these before (they are getting long in the tooth – almost 4 years old). So I hit the emergency stop button because I know it will shut down the machine and reset quicker. I lost maybe 30 – 40 seconds and I was back at my full speed again. I just did not know how long this ‘interval’ would last.

It lasted about 6 minutes. I went through the emergency shutdown procedure again and fired it back up. The next one lasted nearly 8 minutes. It kind of became a game – I did not know how long each segment would last. I just knew that I was not going to fail before the machine stopped. It was like a coach was there watching you run and they would tell you when to stop. It made the treadmill work out interesting - almost exciting.

So the workout was not what I had prescribed for myself but it was a victory. All in all it was a good day ‘at the office.’ 28 on the bike in the morning, 45 minutes (about 33 of it at effort) on the run and another 6 home on the bike.

On a side note -
I had a couple of great comments recently asking about what training plans I follow. I have adapted several training plans that I have gleaned from books and the internet.  I generally end up writing my own or altering them greatly.  I so the annual training plan and then write the works a month at a time for periodization.  I also change them up all the time - not the smartest thing to do but - go figure.

Last year was all about volume – ironman training will do that for you. After Louisville I switched gears and decided to train for a Boston Qualifying marathon run (this would be my first marathon).  I completely changed my training from lots of volume and started to include a lot of hard runs done completely by pace. These hard runs were actually a number of races of increasing length.  I used these races adjust my paces at increasingly longer distances. I had worked up to many long runs in my ironman training I just did not do any of them fast.

I checked a book out from the library and I remember starting the FIRST training plan from Run Less, Run Fasterand thinking that I could not even complete the first day of the program. Well that program brought me though the marathon and then some.  I started with the basic 3 day a week training program for a 3:20 marathon and then altered the program quite a bit.  I ended up running the Mardi Gras Marathon in a 3:08:44 - and evenly split it to boot (1:34:00 / 1:34:44).  However, training for the marathon I neglected the bike and the swim.

Now I am working on increasing my LTHR on the run and the bike. I am still attempting to play off of this big ironman base from last year. I do plan on posting about the workouts that I will use the achieve this. Stay tuned

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trading Volume for Intensity

It is that time of year where I have traded volume for intensity. There are not many LSD (Long Slow Distance) rides or runs. The weekend of intensity started early with the first time trial of the season. Sure, I was a few seconds off of my best time but it was a solid effort. In fact it was easily my best ride of the year. I gave a good hard effort for the entire ride (30:43). I analyzed my ride and I should have pushed harder for the last mile or so – that is what I did last year and that would have allowed me to post a PR. Still, I was pleased with the effort.

I followed up the cycling TT with a longer swimming TT at lunch. Although my swimming has quickened in the last few months this is where my endurance is suffering. Last year, while training for Ironman Louisville my shortest swim would be 3000 yards with several in the 4000 yard range. This year I have been calling it quits at about 1500 yards with my longest year to date being 2500 yards. I still stuck to the intensity over volume for this time trial and just did a hard effort 1500 yard effort. Swimming is not my strong suit and I did not push this TT as hard as I could. It seems like in the swim the difference between an all out effort and an easy swim is just a couple of seconds. I finished up the 1500 yard time trial in 23:30 – not fast by many standards but pretty quick for me. I will take a 1:34 100 yard average for that distance. When doing 100 yard repeats my average times have dropped to 1:30 give or take a second. These are good swim times for me.

Friday I knew that I had a work commitment for lunch so I needed to get a good workout in before work. I planned ahead so that I could run into work. This is a 6 mile run along the trace right to campus. It was warm and humid and I had an aggressive game plan. I wanted to run the 6 miles in 39 minutes – a 6:30 pace. This would be challenging but not too far out of reach. But I blew it. I started out a little fast and then picked up the pace. I was feeling strong but it was not sustainable. I ran the first 3 miles in just under 19 minutes (6:23, 6:11, 6:22). It was that second mile that blew me up. The next 3 miles were just trying to recover. They all clocked in at just over 7 minutes per mile. I finished the 6 mile run in 40:42 – way off of my goal pace. I need to work on my pacing.

Saturday morning I met the group for a long ride just south of town. This would include a few hills that you just do not get while riding on the trace. There were a few solid hills that I tried to attack and some good long breakaways. It was an eventful ride. We had a broken spoke, a flat and later a crash. I was able to break away from the group in the later miles. It was a good effort but JD wanted to make sure that I mentioned that I was chased down by him (the Diesel) and Butch. It was a hot fast ride. I had a blast. Unfortunately Jason had a tip over about 10 feet from the end of the ride. I saw him walking his bike and he had a shiner near his right eye. I gave him a towel and noticed that his helmet was cracked. Wow. That is why you wear helmets!

Sunday I wanted to redeem myself for the botched run on Friday. I was going to attempt the 6 miles in 39 minutes. This run did not work out either. Although I hit the trace in the morning the heat and humidity was unbearable. The conditions zapped any speed that I might have had. On top of the heat my legs were feeling the ride the previous day. Six miles fast turned into 2 miles fast with a struggle just to get home. I 86’d the run. I finished with 4 miles in 29 minutes instead of 6 miles in 39 minutes. When I got home I submerged myself in a cold bath to release some of the heat.

Not every workout was successful but the weekend as a whole was solid.

Friday, June 11, 2010

LTHR Training Zones - Cycling

So we have been talking about heart rate training zones. I prefer the field testing method to determine heart rate training zones.

One interesting aspect regarding setting your heart rate training zones using LTHR is that they will vary by sport. How is that?

Well, I have been using the term LTHR very loosely. Other terms are anaerobic threshold, aerobic threshold, and maximal lactate steady state. I am simply trying to find the heart rate that can be maintained for an extended amount of time without dipping into the red – without blowing up. This heart rate is difficult to maintain. However, once this has been determined you can train at this level. The goal is to increase your LTHR or get faster at your LTHR or hopefully both.

So I just happened to do a cycling time trial yesterday morning. It was an impromptu challenge that was scheduled the night before. There were 5 of us who would do the ‘race of truth.’ I looked up my best TT from last year and this would be my mark.

I wanted to race a good solid hard effort to determine my cycling LTHR. The time trial consists of an 11.83 mile out and back. I had the data from last year. My average heart rate for the entire 30:40 was 172 BPM at 23.0869 MPH. (Well, looking back through my blog – that is why I write this dang thing – I’m wrong. My PB for the TT was June of last year (before I used the gps watch) with a total time of 30:26 – furthermore my blog states that my average heart rate was 162 – something is fishy here – I will have to pull up the data and take a look).

Anyway, during yesterday’s effort I clicked the lap button on the gps watch 10 minutes into the TT and kept pushing hard. I finished the TT 3 seconds slower than last year – the one from July. The average heart rate for the entire time trial was 171 BPM but the average for the second 20 minutes was 174 BPM. Using this value I can now determine my heart rate training zones for cycling (notice that the percentage values are slightly different from the values used to calculate the running heart rate zones.
Zone 1: Overdistance, strength = 113 - 139
65% - 80% LTHR

Zone 2: Endurance, strength = 140 - 155
81% - 89% LTHR

Zone 3: Endurance, strength = 156 - 163
90% - 93% LTHR

Zone 4: Intervals, hills, race/pace = 164 - 173
94% - 99% LTHR

Zone 5: Racing, speed = 174 - 185
100% - > 106% LTHR
So, my Zone 4 heart rate training range for the RUN is 175 – 184 and for the BIKE it is 164 – 173. These are my tempo zones for my hard efforts. These areas are challenging. Funny how the old rule of thumb is that biking heart rates will be about 10 BPM less than running heart rates at the same intensity.

These calculations are mostly based off of The Cyclist's Training Bibleand The Triathlete's Training Bibleby Joe Friel.

I also found this great excel spreadsheet at - download here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

LTHR Training Zones - Running

Another method used to determine your heart rate training zones is based off of your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). LTHR is the intensity that lactic acid starts to accumulate in the blood stream. Exercise below this threshold and lactic acid is flushed from the blood stream.

Your LTHR can be measured in the lab by taking blood samples as exercise intensity increases. This is an intrusive test and not readily available to everyone. However, your LTHR can be estimated with a field test. You can test this value with swimming, biking or running.

The test consists of a warm up followed by the fastest pace that can be maintained for 30 minutes. This is a time trial and it is all out. These tests are very difficult and take a lot of mental and physical stamina. At 10 minutes into the 30 minute session hit the lap button on your heart rate monitor. Continue to push hard until 30 minutes has elapsed. At that point end the session. You should feel very relieved that the session is complete. Your estimated LTHR is your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of the session.

You may need to do multiple LTHR tests (separated by several weeks) in order to get your best results. There is a skill to performing well at time trials. With this LTHR value you can determine your training zones. Although I have not done an all out 30 minute LTHR test I do have the value from the pump and run race. In that race I averaged 185 BPM. Using this value I get the following heart rate zones. The numbers in parenthesis are from the MHR (max heart rate) calculations yesterday (using the Karvonen method).

Zone 1: Overdistance, strength = (136 – 152) 139 - 157
75% - 85% LTHR

Zone 2: Endurance, strength = (153 – 160) 157 - 165
85% - 89% LTHR

Zone 3: Endurance, strength = (161 – 168) 166 - 174
90% - 94% LTHR

Zone 4: Intervals, hills, race/pace = (169 – 184) 175 - 184
95% - 99% LTHR

Zone 5: Racing, speed = (185 – 200) 185 - 196
100% - > 106% LTHR

These are different methods to determine heart rate training zones. As you can see, in the lower and upper heart rate zones the numbers are fairly close. However, zone 3 and zone 4 numbers diverge. For example, Zone 4 is where the LTHR is supposed to take place. There is an enormous difference between the lower ends of this zone (169 BPM compared to 175 BPM). For me, running at 169 BPH is much easier than running at 175 BPM.

I guess after all of the math you still need to use feel to determine where you should be training.

NOTE:  One quick proviso – these zones might be a little high considering that this was a 20 minute all out effort and not the average of the last 20 minutes of a 30 minute all out effort.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Heart Rate Zones

So my MHR (maximum heart rate) is higher than I thought it was – so what? Well, my heart rate training zones are now off by a fair amount. It is time to recalculate them. On a side note, there are other ways to determine your training zones that do not employ your MHR but that it for another time. The formulas that I am going to take a look at each require an accurate MHR. You can obtain your MHR from testing, observation or by estimating. Like I mentioned earlier I have recently seen a new MHR from the pump and run race a couple of weeks ago. FYI – resting heart rate is your heart rate taken early in the morning before you get out of bed. This value can be one parameter in quantifing fitness.

I am going to use the following values for the calculations: MHR (max heart rate) = 200, RHR (resting heart rate) = 40, HRR (heart rate reserve = MHR – RHR) = 160, Age = 47.

I was going to go into detail and list several different ways to calculate heart rate zones based on MHR, however, I have decided to only list the method that I prefer – the Karvonen method. This method uses your RHR to help determine your fitness level. Since most athletes have lower resting heart rates the zones are calculated higher. The formula is as follows:

Zone 1: Overdistance, strength = 136 - 152
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .60 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .70 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 2: Endurance, strength = 153 - 160
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .71 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .75 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 3: Endurance, strength = 161 - 168
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .76 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .80 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 4: Intervals, hills, race/pace = 169 - 184
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .81 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .90 + Resting Heart Rate

Zone 5: Racing, speed = 185 - 200
Lower Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * .91 + Resting Heart Rate
Upper Limit = Heart Rate Reserve * 1.0 + Resting Heart Rate

So what does this mean? One of the main training zones that I use is Zone 4. Previously this was calculated with a MHR of 194 and gave the spread as 163 – 178 BPM – about 5 beats per minute less than the new calculation 169 – 184 BPM.
This zone is where I like to do tempo runs, most of my triathlon runs and my half marathon runs. This is my hard effort. Over the past year I have noticed that I am able to run hard at or around 172 but if I let my heart rate drift up around 175 or higher the effort is greatly intensified. I can only manage a few miles when my heart rate drifts much higher in this level. I think the zones calculated with the new MHR make since. I had already adjusted my paces northward but the math reinforces my observations.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Max Heart Rate?

There are several formulas for determining your maximum heart rate. Most are so generic that sometimes they are not even in the ball park. They are generalized for the entire population.

Let’s run through a few with my numbers (these are from wikipedia) – Age = 37 (MHR = Max Heart Rate)

MHR = 220 - AGE -> 183

MHR = 206.3 – (0.711 * AGE) -> 180.4

MHR = 217 – (0.85 * AGE) -> 180.0

MHR = 208 – (0.7 * AGE) -> 182.1

The following are from Sally Edwardsand for me seem to be the most accurate - (although a few years old her Heart Zone Trainingbook is very good).

Males: MHR = 210 – (AGE * .5) – (WEIGHT * .05) + 4 -> 187.5

Females: MHR = 210 – (AGE * .5) – (WEIGHT * .01) + 0
Max heart rates vary substantially from individual to individual. I have known blazing fast runners whose heart rates never got out of the 150’s and I have also known people with sky high heart rates. Also, maximum heart rates do not vary much over time. This is a genetic determined value. In addition, as long as you are fit your maximum heart rate will not decline as you age.

Furthermore, maximum heart rates are sports specific.  I cannont come close to my running max heart rate while biking.  There is about a 10 BPM difference.

Also from Sally Edwards:
Max HR is genetically determined; in other words, you're born with it.
Max HR does not reflect your level of fitness
Max HR is a fixed number, unless you become unfit.
Max HR cannot be increased by training.
Max HR does not decline with age.
Max HR only declines with age in sedentary individuals.
Max HR tends to be higher in women than men.
Max HRs that are high do not predict better athletic performance.
Max HRs that are low do not predict worse athletic performance.
Max HR has great variability among people of the same age.
Max HR does not vary from day to day, but it is test-day sensitive.
Max HR testing requires the person to be fully rested.
Max HR testing needs to be done multiple times to determine the exact number.
I have observed 194 BPM several times at the end of all out efforts. These were always race situations with an all out sprint to the finish. If you remember, my last 5k race (the Pump and Run) ended in a no holds barred straight away slug fest with Board Shorts. This was the hardest that I have ever sprinted – period. Further examination of the race data shows that my maximum heart rate is actually higher than the value that I have been using. The reading towards the end of that race showed 200 BPM (on garmin connect and 199 on sporttracks - either way it is about 5 beats per minute higher than I have ever seen).

I believe it – there were no power lines or other means of interference. On top of that I had to sit down at the end of that race. I guess that I had just not been in a situation to really push to the limit. Now I need to reevaluate my training zones.

Pump and Run Heart Rate profile

FYI - DC Rainmaker is giving away a really cool scale!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Heat Wave 2010 - Race Report

First, I don’t have any pictures. I don’t really want to remember much about this race. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but I did not have a good race. I do not like being slower than last year! I don’t like the feeling of going backwards.


I rode up to Ridgeland (Jackson, MS) with Chris. We stopped at package pickup at Indian Cycles which is a really nice bike shop. They always do it well with cheese and wine and beer and finger foods. It was fun to swap race stories with all of your friends while you touch and feel all of the latest and greatest bikes. I noticed that when I was here a few years ago I could not imagine spending that kind of money for a bike. This weekend I was thinking of all the great deals to be had. Funny how perspectives change. I did not buy anything.

There was a group that met up at Ted’s house for a wonderful dinner and camaraderie. We had a good time catching up for the last year. I was better this year and did not eat too much. This is only a near Olympic race. No need to carbo load as they say.

We all got up early and I drank some coffee and had a cliff bar. The temperature was supposed to be very hot. I drank a large bottle of sports drink. I filled up another bottle with just water.

We arrived with plenty of time to set everything up. I grabbed my transition place; got body marked, hydrated and used the bathroom. I still had about 45 minutes to do a practice swim and ‘get into the zone’. The temperature was less than we expected – it had rained most of the night and it was still overcast.

There was a chop on the water but after the half ironman in New Orleans I was not fazed. I jumped in the reservoir and swan a few hundred yards. I felt strong in my stroke. I was swimming well. I had a great swim at this race the previous year and I was excited about doing well. I took a gel.

Swim –

The race starts in 4 waves – first - < 35 second 35 – 44 third > 45 fourth women. I was in the second wave. The buoys would be to my right which is my strong side in the swim. I started way right and towards the front of the swim. The horn went off and I started swimming. I still felt pretty good. Even though there were a lot of swimmers in my wave I was able to pick Robin out to my right. He was a distinctive swim stroke. I tried to pace off of him for the race so that I would not have to sight much. We were swimming at the same speed. The swim was going well. I decided that I was going to move behind him to catch the draft and just have a nice fast easy swim. Robin always is a little faster than me in the swim so why not just take a ride. Before I could get over there I ran into a pocket of swimmers that just were not moving well. There was a good chop in the water. It was more pronounced after we left the protection of the cove. The faster swimmers were plowing ahead but the less proficient were struggling. I lost Robin at the point and I had to make a major course correction. Getting in this mix up was the first time that I took on water. I missed a breath and then took a mouth of water on the next. It seems that once my rhythm is altered my swim quickly digresses. I recovered soon enough and rounded the first buoy. I had struggled a little bit and was not having the best swim. I remember this being a really hard swim for me but looking back to yesterday I am not sure why. Yes, the water was rough and I am sure that my heart rate was much higher than it should be but I have been in worse. I drank a lot of water and did not swim strong. I was very happy to be done with this swim. I finished a few seconds faster than last year – the course was long last year so go figure.


I ran to my bike and noticed how many in my wave were gone. My friend Dan was in transition and heading out. I wished him luck. My transition was quick – no problems.


Dan was a few seconds ahead of me out of transition and I never saw him on the bike. I felt okay during the ride and took it out comfortable hard. I still have a fear of blowing up in these shorter races. I need to just kill the damn thing and pick up the pieces at the end. My gps watch was beeping that my heart rate was too high. This alarm was still set from the half ironman in New Orleans – the alarm was set too low for this race. I would normally not have a heart rate alarm at all. Fortunately it was windy and I could not hear the alarm much. I just ignored it for the most part. However, mistakenly, I did stay right around that heart rate level. Chris, who started in a wave just after me passed me with authority at mile 3 on the bike. However, I passed him at mile five like he was standing still. Oh, he was standing still with a flat on the side of the road. I saw a lot of flats on the course this year. I am not sure why. It took out a couple of the faster bikers. Sam had a flat on the way back on the bike, Chris ended up having 2 flats and Mica also went down. It was windy out on the trace in several areas. I could really feel the wind. I did not push the bike hard enough – not nearly hard enough. I later learned that I got passed by Lance around mile 10 – I never saw him. Regarding drafting, I am not sure what was different but the race was much cleaner this year – good job Ben (he was the head official). I think the rough swim separated the racers more than in the past. I pulled into T2 a couple of minutes slower than last year.


I was not feeling strong as I dismounted the bike. It would be okay; my legs would come along quickly on the run. I was ready to make up some time. I planned on taking a caffeine gel just before the run. It did not seem appetizing. I exited T2 in a respectable time.


I immediately noticed that I left my gps watch on my bike. Damn, I have grown to rely on this for my pacing. It has become a crutch. I do not know how hard I can push without it. I need to learn to race by feel rather than by instrumentation. I just started pacing off of someone that was running well. I do not know how fast it was. After only a half a mile I started to feel sick. My stomach was in knots. My belly was sloshing around. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME! I thought about walking back and not finishing. It hurt that bad. Once again - THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME!

I have often joked about having a cast iron stomach. I ran through the first water station. I did not want anything in my system. Right around mile one I saw Lance. He asked me how I was doing and I said not well – I was hurting. I ran past him but before long I had to stop on the side of the trail. I was making those puking noises and starting to gag a little. I bent over and a stream of hot brown liquid ejected from my mouth. It was short and sweet. I jumped back on the trail as I apologized to the racers around me. They just said do what you have to do. I caught back up to Lance and passed him again. I was able to run fast when I felt well but my stomach was like a time bomb. It felt like seconds were ticking down to another incident. At the mile two station I grabbed a cup of water and swished out my mouth. Once I had cleared the station I pulled over to the side again. This was a repeat of round one. I immediately felt better and ran a comfortably hard pace. There was a good hill up to the turn around. I was feeling better and my pace was increasing. The slow bike and run had really spared my legs. I was getting stronger. Just past the turnaround point I came up on Dan. He was struggling a little bit. I pushed past him. Sometime in the next mile that time bomb started to ring again. I was looking for some cover and found a large tree just off of the trail. I went behind it and the column of filth that ejected from my mouth was spectacular! Later I would get comments on the drama and the noise that was erupting. Once again I immediately felt better. At the next water station I grabbed two cups of water and swished out my mouth and took a drink. It felt good. I started to drink the next cup of water but it was sports drink. My stomach turned again. I quickly discarded this cup.

With only 2 miles to go I was ready to race. About time! I picked up the pace. I felt fresh. I ran with authority. People were telling me to “go get’em”; telling me that I was looking strong. I don’t think they realized that they had probably passed me several times. In the last mile I came up on Raland. He was running strong. I told him to not let me pass him (I had forgotten that he had started in a wave prior to me). I ran past him (he would end up with third place Clydesdale – Lance got fourth by a few seconds).

I was now running like I know I can run. I was running hard and feeling strong. I finished very strong – after all I had only really run the last 2 miles of the race. I was glad the race was over. I finished and grabbed a bottle of water.


After the finish I was able to wander away from the crowd and find some seclusion. I was able to purge the rest of this vileness from my system. It is hard to throw up fast during a race. It seemed like another gallon came up. I later looked at my one water bottle on my bike. I had drunk maybe 10 ounces of water during the bike and so very little during the run. I am having trouble believing that I swallowed that quantity of water during the swim. It boggles the mind. I would have liked to know what my paces were for the 10k run. Sure, my total run time was longer than last year but I finished strong.


Overall of was 4 minutes slower than last year. My swim was slightly faster. My bike was off by 3 full minutes (23.1 MPH compared to 22.0 MPH). My run was off by 90 seconds (7:27 pace compared to 7:42 – I must have been running pretty fast WHEN I was running). I don’t know how this happened but compared to my age group I was 8 places better than last year in the swim, the same for the bike and I improved by 1 on the run.

Overall I placed 4 better than last year in my age group (but that is not saying much because I was not stellar last year either). This could have been a strong race for me but it just did not happen.

For triathlon, for me to get better on the run I definitely need to get better on the swim. I have often said, “I will not win the race on the swim but I sure can lose it!”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Transition prep - Heat Wave

Last year the Heat Wave Triathlon was unseasonably cool - it was actually wetsuit legal (for the first time I believe.).   Not this year.

not so lucky with the weather this year

I used to go over and over all the things that I needed to take for a triathlon. It is a LOT of stuff especially compared to a running race (shoes, shirt, shorts and race belt if you have one).  But now I have it paired down to what I think are the necessities. Let me share.

just in case

flip flops, sunscreen (you saw the UV INDEX = 10+ EXTREME) and an extra tube

goggles.  I have another pair in the truck - just in case

gps watch and heart rate strap.  now I use it more for pacing

towel for my stuff in transition

rocket helmet and bike shoes

running shoes, race belt and race hat (I prob won't wear the ironman one - maybe)

sunglasses and crack pipe (for my race wheels)

water bottle and 2 gels (one before the swim and one before the run)

extra tube (this would be extra, extra) and Allen wrenches

scissors and electrical tape (someone will ask if you have one of these)

it all fits in the transition bag

oh yeah - what do you do with the USAT key fob membership card?  it is on my transition bag.  I do not think I will ever do a race without my gear so it is always handy.

the bike (since this is only a near olympic race I took off all of my water bottle cages except for front mounted one

There you have it.  Easy stuff.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Heat Wave Pre-Race Report

I have a race this weekend, the Heat Wave, which I have raced the last 2 years. The temperature was cooler last year but the swim was longer. The previous year the swim must have been short – my much better swim was 3 ½ minutes longer. I still improved my time by about 5 minutes. You can read the analysis here  or last year’s race report here .

Last year I had a huge improvement on the bike (9.3% faster – 2 MPH) and an okay improvement on the run (4.3% faster – 20 seconds per mile). I am not sure where I will come in this weekend. I have talked a lot about following race plans but I have not been diligent this year. The half ironman in April was an afterthought and I did not even look at a race plan for this weekend’s race. It is like I have just been exercising since the Mardi Gras Marathon. I truly believe that if I had put together a challenging training plan and followed it for the half ironman in New Orleans then my sub-5 hour goal would have been easily achievable. Now this race, like I said, it will be interesting where I finish this year.

Past performance is a pretty good predictor of how you will do in a race. Experience plays a huge part in this. A rule of thumb for half to full ironman performance is to double the time and add an hour. Last year I completed my first half ironman in 5:30. I judged a lot of my pacing for my full ironman off of this time. If you double that time and add an hour and you get 12:00 flat. This was my fantasy goal for ironman Louisville. However, I did not factor in all of the hard training that I would do over the summer in the Mississippi heat and I got lucky with a cool year in Louisville. I actually ended up blowing that goal out of the water. I finished my full ironman in 11:18. What is more telling is that my swim and run pacing’s were faster in the full ironman than in the half ironman. Go figure.

I was thinking about this the other day. How does this equation work in reverse? Well, my most recent race was the same half ironman in New Orleans and I finished that race in 5:08. Let’s see – if I half my full ironman time and deduct an hour what do I get? 5:09 – wow. That is uncanny (full in 2009 11:18 – half 2010 5:08). I can’t believe how close that is.

Does this mean that my race fitness is similar right now to when it was last August? It is the same but it is different. Let me explain. I do not have the same endurance that I had last year. Sure I can go out and ride 50 miles or go out and run 15 miles but I would have trouble going out and doing a brick at those distances. I could do that last year – or close to it anyways. Reading my post race report from the Heat Wave last year I actually got home after the race and ran a 5 miler. What? And the next day I did a 50 mile ‘recovery’ bike ride. That is crazy.

I wish I could say that I have traded endurance for speed and in some respects that is true. However, last Friday’s 5k Pump and Run race shows me that my top end is off. I would have liked to have been much deeper in the 19’s for that race (in the back of my mind I wanted high 18’s). I am not going to judge too much on this 5k race since I effectively blew up – but still I wish I had been faster. I need to go out and run an all out 5k in training just to see where I stand.

My strategies for the race: I am going to have a solid swim, push it hard on the bike – just short of implosion, and run hard.

I guess that is every race plan. Simple stuff.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Horse and Deer Flies on the attack

Horse and deer flies are now patrolling the trace. They have staked out several areas between stations and are laying in wait. They are ambush predators that notice movement. I witnessed the pests this past weekend while doing several group rides. The horse flies will actually join the pace line and draft. You can see them between you and the next rider. This is simply amazing. At some points during the ride we are cruising at 23+ MPH and the horse flies were taking it in stride. Some of the buggers were actually large enough for me to draft off of them. However, they are selfish and never actually take a full pull.

On Tuesday morning I went on a 10 mile run from my house along the trace. This is the first time that I have ran ‘out in the woods’ in a while. I have been running during lunch at work which is more populated. This turned into the hardest / worst run that I have ever done. I had wanted to maintain a challenging pace for the entire run and I was successful for the most part. But, there were several stretches of the trace were I would get a dozen deer flies pursuing me. They were tenacious. I knew that I could not out run them. All of the swatting and arm flailing actually raised my heart rate a good 5 beats. This put me over the edge for the LT run that I was attempting. I had remembered that Jen over at The Running Artist had encountered the devils and had come up with a solution. She would grab a small branch from a pine tree (a switch if you will) and run with it. She said that the swishing motion would keep the flies at bay.

I jumped off of the trace and grabbed a limb off of a small pine tree. I started to run with the branch oscillating in a circular motion. Occasionally I would have to swat my back because I was being bitten. This was terribly frustrating. I actually had to stop twice and fist fight the creatures. They won. One time I broke the switch as I was trying to knock one of them off of my back.  The swtich helped but was not a complete solution.

I finished up my 10 miles strong and started my cool down. The damn things were still on me and I had to pick up the pace. One of the horse flies even followed me home like a puppy dog. As I got near my house I started to sprint to lose the girl. She still snuck into the house. I later got her with a dish towel near the back door.

Horse Fly - That'll teach him!

With a little research I have found that these biting flies are in the horse-fly family (Tabanidae). According to Wikipedia:

While female deer flies feed on blood, males instead collect pollen. When feeding, females use knife-like mandibles and maxillae to make a cross-shaped incision and then lap up the blood. Their bite can be extremely painful, and resulting allergic reaction from the saliva of the fly can result in further discomfort and health concerns.
Wikipedia led me to here:
Tabanids lie in wait in shady areas under bushes and trees for a host to happen by. Sight is the main host finding mechanism, but carbon dioxide and odor also play a role. Moving objects, especially if dark colored, are most prone to attack. Attacks occur during daylight hours with a peak beginning at sunrise and lasting three hours. A second peak is two hours before sunset and commences shortly after.
I do not like to use insect repellent – it repels me as well. I have found a couple of ‘traps’ that I will be experimenting with in the coming weeks. I will keep you posted of the results.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Weekend review

Memorial Day has been grand! First there was the race on Friday night. It was a challenge and a lot of fun. After the race we went out for a celebratory drink with a couple of people from the running club. Not too much fun but a couple of drinks and a lot of talk.

On Saturday I got up early and hit the trace for a quick group ride. There were three of us and we got off the trace a couple of times and tackled the hills – 40+ miles total. After the ride Jodie and I went to the coast and did a little bit of Memorial Weekend shopping.

Sunday was another early morning ride. Some of the same guys – some different. Another good ride off of the trace with more hills – 30+ miles total. After the ride it was yard work time. Got everything trimmed and mowed.

Monday was another morning ride. Some of the same guys – some different. I was the only one that was at all three rides. This ride was completely off of the trace and quite spirited with hill – 49 miles total. After ride there was more yard work – I planted a tree and 4 bushes. Jodie planted about 20 daises around the yard. We still have about 80 more Gerber’s to put into the ground. We need to create another flower bed.

It was hot and humid and rained sporadically all weekend. All of my bike rides missed the rain. Great weekend. The Heat Wave triathlon is next weekend so I will only get a run or two this week and then the taper starts again.