Asics GT-2000

Posted in Product Review with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2013 by brianestover

I’ve finally started running enough to actually put some miles on shoes to test them out. Recently the ABQ Running Shop was kind enough to send me some shoes to run in. I’ve got a few pair to review. Today’s review will be the GT-2000.

The GT-2000 replaces Asics’s long running string of shoes that started with the 2001 about 2 decades ago. Asics had gotten up to the 2170’s. While not every shoe in that string was a success, the overwhelming majority of those shoes sold well and were the go to shoes for millions of runners. You could go to any race or group run and easily find numerous people wearing a shoe in that succession of shoes. The GT-2000 has impressive pedigree to live up to.

Asics GT-2000

Asics GT-2000

Live up it does. In fact, this shoe surpasses the previous generations of Asics shoes. The first thing you notice is the GT-2000’s are lighter than their predecessors. The claimed weight is 11.4oz but they feel lighter when running in them. The ride is a lower to the ground and the shoe feels more flexible. With the previous editions these shoes always needed three or four runs to feel good and progressively felt better over the first 100 miles before settling into that happy spot. The GT-2000’s felt nimble, sure footed and comfortable in the first mile. If you have higher volume feet, Asics recently has been short changing you on lace length. That’s no longer the case, these shoes tie with enough lace to easily double knot. There is enough room for my wider and higher then normal feet in the front of the shoe. No pinching or constriction. The heel is snug around my narrower then normal heels. I’ve got these laced through the second set of eyelets at the top of the shoe to help snug it against my heel.

There are some carryover features that the previous line of Asics’s were known for. The Guidance Trusstic System, the Impact Guidance System, the Dynamic Doumax Support System and gel pads both heel and forefoot are all carry overs and found in this shoe. The outsole continues using AHAR, their version of high abrasion blown rubber with the DuraSponge blown rubber in the forefoot. They use Solyte in their dual density midsole.

The one thing that didn’t carry over was the ride. The ride of the GT-2000’s is even better then the shoes that came before it. The ride of the 2150’s and 2160’s is stiffer and less nimble. The GT-2000’s run much better. They are more comfortable out of the box, no break in period needed. You notice you are lower, more stable and these shoes are more supple in the way they run. I’ve run in many, many brands of running shoes and none of them ride quite like Asics. None of the recent Asics in the GT-2000’s genetic tree ran this well. It’s a noticeable improvement from the previous models which were already superior to most if not all of the shoes in their category in ride.

The number one thing that holds other shoe companies back from being as good as Asics is the ride of their shoes. There is no sweeter ride, no shoe brand that feels better or is as consistent as you go through their line or go from year to year as Asics. Once other companies figure this out, they may go from being a silver or bronze medalist shoe to a gold medalist shoe. But for now, Asics still stands atop the podium. The GT-2000 may have tightened their grasp on gold.

GT-2000 toe box and heel

GT-2000 toe box and heel

The outsole’s seem to be holding up well on the groomed trials I run on. They are covered with a mix of sand and pebbles, outsoles that are soft tend to wear rather quick. These are holding up great, maybe even better than the Asics 2160’s. I’ve not taken them on the really rough trails yet. Everything I’ve seen and felt while running in these shoes gives me the confidence that they will do well on trails that surround Tucson.

My one complaint is with the laces near the very top of the shoe. The first few times I noticed they fell in a different spot on the lateral aspects of my foot. I’ve got them laced up a bit differently then the promo shot on the Asics shoe page. I’ve got the laces going through the lace holder sewn onto the tongue one eyelet closer to the top. Going around corners I found them to dig into the lateral aspects where the laces come out of the shoes from the last eyelet. The only reason I noticed this is it’s something that has never happened before in any shoe that I can remember. After playing around with the lacing some and with over 100 miles on these shoes, I’ve not noticed this any more. Maybe I’m used to it, maybe I’ve got the laces in their sweet spot. This shoe is so good though that it would take more then this, much more, for me to not end up with a second and third pair. If you enjoyed running in the previous editions such as the 2140’s, 2150’s and 2160’s you will be ecstatic when running in the GT-2000’s. This shoe is a far superior shoe to the shoes it replaces. Asics took a step forward with this shoe and maybe put more distance on the rest of the brands that live in the structured cushioning category.

A look inside the GT-2000s

A look inside the GT-2000s

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IM Melbourne

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2013 by brianestover

Every once in a while as a coach something happens that really pisses you off. Slam your fist on the counter and want to punch the offender in the face mad. A few days before this race, this is was where I was at. Janine was having dinner with some of her friends. Her old coach, somewhat of an asshole if you were to ask me, pops into the restaurant and says hello to everyone at the table but Janine. That’s not really enough to set me off. But what he did next was inexcusable. He told Janine “you look to fat to race IM”, no hello, just that you look too fat, then he leaves. She found this very upsetting. This is a coach who over the past few years had her doing weekly weigh in’s, losing her hair, breaking out in acne and having other issues associated with over training. What he did is inexcusable, both as a person and a coach. There are better ways to coach than nearly wrecking your athlete(s).

After learning this, I found out she’s 1 kg heavier then when she raced under him. She’s not losing her hair, not run down and not having other issues associated with over training. Training for an Ironman really wouldn’t be considered a healthy pursuit, but one can do it in a healthy or unhealthy manner. Sometimes lighter isn’t better.

Ultimately, besides being pissed off, I really only wanted Janine to have nothing but a great race, a little FU to her previous coach.

We all know by now that IM Melbourne had horrible swim conditions, big winds on the bike and nearly a headwind for the entire run. Janine exited the water 6th in her age group. She then rode away from the rest of the age group women’s field, throwing down the fastest female age group bike ride. She stayed in front of the age group field until the last few km’s only being overtaken by one age group athlete. She won her age group, ended up 17th overall, crossed the line as the 2nd overall age group female while having enough energy to give someone the finger (I can only hope on that last part). Not only a superb race under difficult conditions but a little vindication to go along with the $200 prime she pocketed for having the fastest female age group bike ride.

Janine 1st place IM Melbourne F35-39

Janine 1st place IM Melbourne F35-39

Asheville Triathlon Camp

Posted in Triathlon on March 20, 2013 by brianestover

Accelerate 3 in conjunction with HD Coaching is please to announce a 4 day triathlon camp in Asheville, NC. The camp will take place April 25th-28th, 2013. Space is limited.

If you are looking to take your triathlon game to the next level this camp is for you. While building friendships and camaraderie, we’ll be doing 2 days of video swim analysis, climbing Mt. Mitchell and running trails through the forests of western NC.

Space is limited, and already filling. A 50% non refundable deposit is required. Please contact Heath or Brian to reserve your space in this exciting opportunity to train in the mountains of NC.

For more information and to contact the camp organizers, click HERE.

The Calm Before the Season Storms

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by brianestover

If last weekend was the opening shots of the start of racing season heard around that world, this weekends races were more of a skirmish. A skirmish there, a big battle here, it matters not. You show up, race fast then sort it out a the end. At the Wildman Triathlon in Florida, Adam and Lora both won their age groups while finishing 5th and 7th overall. Between the time trial the other week and a slightly shorter than Olympic distance triathlon, it’s nice to know that their training is coming along as designed.

Further up north in the south, James earned a full compliment of donuts, 4 exactly. He earned them by winning the Cary Duathlon. The rule is win a race and you can eat them without having to do vo2max intervals for punishment.

Just so all my athletes know, if you win, place second or third overall you can eat 4,3 and 2 donuts respectively. If you win your age group you may have 1 dount. If you have more, or eat donuts when you haven’t won, that’ll cost you 7 extra minutes of vo2 work per donut. I want to clarify one more thing for you guys. Placing top 3 overall in a race or winning you age group gives you 2 and 1 extra whines for the month. But remember, all whining and donuts expire at the end of the month, no rollovers. These are some of the tricks I use to help keep people motivated, keep their eye on the prize and all those other sayings.

I will say good work everyone, and enjoy your donuts.

In like a Lion

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2013 by brianestover

March is here, charging in with the roar of a lion after some lambs. And roar Chad Chad did. Over the last five miles of the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon he stalked the leader trimming the gap. In the closing miles he struck fast to win the race!

Adu Dhabi once again hosted the Abu Dhabi triathlon. The first major triathlon race of 2013 loaded with a star studded field, is always a look into who’s hot and who’s not. Nick and Daniel made the journey to race this year. This was Daniel’s first long course race and he finished 9th in his age group.

Nick closed out his age group career here. He repeated his results from last year, winning his age group, and placing as the 2nd overall age grouper on the day. This year he moved up 11 spots to finish 11th overall including the pros. Watch for Nick at a pro race near you, as he will be joining the pro ranks and making his pro debut at Ironman South Africa.

Nick Baldwin in Abu Dhabi

Nick Baldwin in Abu Dhabi

Dusty raced one of the season opening races in CA, the Desert Triathlon. Dusty lead his age group off the bike and ended up second. He’s been battling some running injuries over the last 6 months and we expect nothing but faster run times as the season progresses.

Dusty at the Desert Triathlon

Dusty at the Desert Triathlon

I encourage all my athletes to try racing different events in the early season. Like many of my athletes Adam has taken me up on the offer for the second weekend in a row. Last weekend was a time trial, this weekend was a masters swim meet. His first swim meet. He did a wide variety of free style events, from the 50 to the 1650 as well as swimming on some relays. For a rookie he did pretty good, grabbing some top 3 finishes in his age group and cracking 1:00 in the 100 free on his first attempt.

A Couple of Races, A Couple of Places

Posted in Triathlon on February 24, 2013 by brianestover

Over the last few weeks there have been a few Accelerate 3 athletes racing around the globe. Mark crossed the line 5th overall and third overall age grouper at the Prestige Ultra Half in South Africa. He won a hard fought battle in his age group prevailing by 1:21 thanks to his run speed.

On the east coast Chris raced his first ever ultra run. The Black Warrior 50k. I told him to run smart. In my mind this was his last really long run before his next ironman. You can read his race report on his blog. He gabbed third overall in his first ultra race and almost snagged second.

When you're this buff you go shirtless

When you’re this buff you go shirtless

Nick coming off setting a new 5k PB won a 10k on his home island of Seychelles. He also ran under 37:00 for the first time running 36:35 over the hilly route. It’s always a good thing to win your home country’s 10k especially when you are an ambassador for your country as Nick is.

In Florida, Adam and Lora showed up at the local TT. Adam was 1st in his category and posted the second fastest time of the day. Lora was second in her category.

Adam and Lora after their TT.

Adam and Lora after their TT.

Chad raced his first ever mountain bike race, finishing in the top third of the field over the 50 mile course and John raced Ragnar on a relay. Ragnar is a great way to get a bump in your running frequency and miles for the week while hanging out in a van full of sweaty, smelly people for 24 hours. Nothing says fun like that, or so I’ve heard.

Speaking of fun, it snowed in Tucson. Not the sort of snow that goes away in a few hours, but the sort of snow that stays around overnight into the next day.

Snow in Tucson

Snow in Tucson

Performance Management Chart – Explained

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2013 by brianestover

I explained a bit about chronic training load here. This post is going to try to give you a quick look at the Performance Management Chart (PMC) and some ways to use it. Below is a PMC. You’ll notice three things right off the bat. There is a blue line which represents Chronic Training Load (CTL), a pink line represents Acute Training Load (ATL) and the yellow bars or line represent Training Stress Balance (TSB).

Performance Management Chart

Performance Management Chart

The pink line or ATL represents your current workload, think of this as the what did I do day in day out and how much acute stress did it place on me. If you do some really long and/or hard workouts where you rack up a lot of training stress this line will go up in a steep manner. The yellow is indicative of your fatigue level and it moves more or less in opposition to the pink line. If you don’t workout for a few days the yellow goes up meaning you are fresher or more rested than you were while the pink line goes down representing your lack of daily stress. The blue line will move up and down slower and reflects your cumulative fitness or loss of if it’s moving down. Consider CTL as money in the bank, while the pink line is money you are depositing.

One of the things you can do is use the ATL and TSB then correlate that to how you are feeling. If the ATL line spikes and you are doing a multi-day hard block of training, naturally you will feel more tired as it progresses. If you are at -52 TSB you might not be feeling very chipper, at -89 TSB you might find yourself unpleasant to be around. At -10 TSB you may feel fine and at 12 TSB you might feel like you could take on the world. Taking what you are doing, how you are feeling, thinking about what’s happened in the past and looking at the trend lines can often tell you what might happen if you continue down the path you are on.

You can use the CTL to make sure your training is on track. Do you have some races coming up in 2-4 months? You can track the work you are doing on the blue line. The higher it goes the more you can do and the more likely you are to have a good level of fitness going into your race. If your blue line is dropping to the right and you are not tapering you should re-evaluate your training strategy or lack of. Of course for those Key Races, a drop in your CTL coupled with an increase in your TSB and a decrease in your ATL is a good thing. The key words are key races, not every race you do.

You might think of your ATL and TSB as short term snapshots and your CTL as the big picture. Or you can consider ATL/TSB as the path that you’ve ridden on your journey(CTL). You can do different things in your training and see how they impact those lines.

There are four training inputs you can manipulate: time, duration, intensity and volume. Each of these will impact the ATL, CTL and TSB differently. You can ride 3 hours and achieve a certain amount of training stress. Or you can ride 3 hours at a harder effort and achieve even more or you could go on a casual ride and accumulate a smaller amount of stress. Which is better? It depends. The higher your power output relative to your threshold the more stress you rack up per minute. Riding at 65% of your FTP is much easier and can be done for much longer than riding at 104% of FTP.

Within the PMC there are several variables you can track. If you are cyclist gearing up for TT’s you can track your peak power outputs over the specific duration you are going to be racing. If you are a sprinter you can track you maximal power outputs, or if you are a lead out type of rider you can track your power over 2-10 minutes or the duration you need to deliver your sprinter to the line. You can use this information to see if you are trending in the right or wrong direction. Are you producing a lot of peak 4 min power outputs months and months away from your targeted event(s)? The PMC provides a quick reference guide to tracking things like this so you can see if you are overcooking or undercooking or making a feast.

1 hour mean maximal power and long ride duration tracked

1 hour mean maximal power and long ride duration tracked

If you are a long course triathlete tracking your power outputs over longer duration’s will serve as a guide to help you plan your power strategy. If you have a lot of ironman duration rides between 190 and 205 watts, deciding that 230 watts is your goal power output for your IM is a recipe for disaster. Using the PMC helps take the guesswork out of what to do race day. You can set it up so you know exactly what power outputs you’ve done over the duration’s you are going to be racing. This allows you to be smart and give yourself the best chance for success for your races.

You can use the PMC to help you plan out what to do. If you did race X, Y and Z at certain CTL’s and your performance left you underwhelmed, you can use the PMC to determine what sort of workload might be appropriate to leave you overjoyed at the finish. If your CTL was 65 what happens if you do more training and get it to 101? What happens if you do more intervals or more easy rides to increase your workload? Using the various metrics in your PMC you can track some of these variables.

I’d advise you to play around with your PMC adding different data points until you have the information on it that makes the most sense to you for your racing. Use it to help you plot out what you have done, what you can do, review it to figure out what gave you the most fitness bang your training buck.