Hot and Cold

Posted in Triathlon on February 4, 2013 by brianestover

Depending upon where in the world you were racing it was either hot or cold out. John took the cold route and went out to the Flapjacks TT outside of Tucson, AZ. When you think Tucson in January, images of sunny, warm weather usually come to mind right? Well in this case you’re wrong. Instead conjure up images of a heavy cloud cover, no sun and air thick enough you could cut it with a knife. That gave way to dropping temps and a slight cold breeze as the morning wore on.

Cold temps or not, John grabbed third in the men’s Cat 5 30k TT.

WTF?  It's AZ and it's cold!

WTF? It’s AZ and it’s cold!

Kicking off the weekend on the other side of the equator and a day ahead Janine raced in 35+C temps at the Mandurah Triathlon which doubled as the Western Australia State Championships. She finished 8th overall for the women, as the 3rd overall age group athlete and won her age group making her the W35-39 State Champ. She came off the bike in a dead heat for the lead in her age group. It then became a foot race to see who would stand atop the podium for their age group. Janine used her foot speed to open up almost a 2 minute gap to win her age group. All this came a week after getting stung by a bee while riding, crashing into a chain link fence then tumbling bike over body onto the ground.


Records are Made to Be Broken

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2013 by brianestover

Break one Mark did. This past weekend at the South Africa 70.3 Mark destroyed not only the M40-44 field by 16 minutes, but he also broke the course record in his age group, a course record he already owned. He was able to knock off 6 minutes off his previous best time using a 1:23 run to cap off the morning, which was the fastest he’s run in a half.

If there is one thing that will help your placing in any triathlon, it’s running fast. Mark used his run to grab 21st overall and cross the line as the fourth age group athlete on the day. This is Mark’s first race as an Accelerate 3 athlete, which really means being in the M40-44 Age group just got a whole lot tougher for a whole lot of people.

In the northern hemisphere, James and I have been discovering mountain bike racing. James is doing much better at it then I am. He’s grabbed a couple of top 10’s overall in his class, while I teamed up with Accelerate 3 athlete Jeff and a few friends to do a 4 man team at the 12 Hours of Papago mountain bike race. Who says you can’t ride when it’s <30F out?

Damn it's cold out here!

Time, Choices, Organization & Habits

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by brianestover

Time. I had a friend of mine tell me you can’t stop time. Which is true. No matter what is happening it has to end sooner or later. Tick tock, there goes your clock. As an athlete time is a precious commodity. The more time you exercise odds are the better you will be. But no one is fortunate to have unlimited time. If it’s 15:00 and you find yourself 2 hours behind, you can’t stop the clock, you can’t rewind it and start over. This is especially true if you are a triathlete. It’s already a time consuming sport with training, especially if you are doing long course races. Add in work, a family, social obligations and suddenly it may seem that all your time is accounted for. If you want to spend more time doing A, that time has to come from B or C or D, or from all of them. You can’t invent more time, you can only spend it more wisely. You can’t avoid spending time, so spend it very wisely.

Which leads to choices. Everyday you to make a choice. You have to choose how to spend your most precious commodity. Think of it as your bank account. In and out, debit and credit. You have X and can’t spend X + Y. There is no overdraft fee. You can choose to spend more time working out but you have to debit it from something else. You can choose to spend an extra 30 minutes in bed, but how will that impact the rest of your morning or afternoon? What is something goes wrong late in the morning. You’ve chosen to spend 30 minutes sleeping in, now something is choosing for you to debit you another 25 minutes. Suddenly it’s 2:30 and you realize it should only be 1:40. You spent 50 minutes that you can never get back. No overdraft fees to save your ass. Now you spend all afternoon rushing around, trying to get everything done and you are forced to spend even more of your time in the evening catching up. Your initial 30 minute investment in sleeping in became a debit in your time account for later in the day, or your family time account or your work account or your working out account. After you add in depreciation you might have actually spent an extra 30 or 45 or 60 minutes all because you choose to delay what you could have done straight up. Before you choose to spend that time you will never get back, you should spend 1 minute thinking about the ramifications of your choice. What happens if A or B happens, how does that impact others, what negative connotations will this have what positive connotations will this choice have? Maybe you still choose to sleep in, maybe you choose to get up, what ever you choose to do, choose to spend carefully.

Since you have a finite amount of time, what are a few things you can do to help you spend less and/or get more for the time you do spend? Get organized. Don’t delay, do what needs to be done now and do it now. Don’t cut corners. I never really appreciated my grandfather, Dad or Mom telling me to do it right the first time. But now the wisdom of those words are clear. Spending an extra 3 minutes now can be like an interest bearing checking account, you get 5 minutes back since you’re not going to have to spend another 6 or 10 minutes fixing what you should have done the first time correctly. You should figure out a system that works for you. I use a white board, actually I use a couple. But on my daily white board I have every one listed I need or want to call or email that day. I have every schedule that I need to write that week. There are notes jotted down about what needs to happen, what needs to be accomplished. I’ve put down appointments like going to the dentist, or if I’m heading out of town. The white board becomes a living extension of my day, add and subtract to keep me on track. This helps me so I can make the choices I want on where to spend my time instead of being forced to choose where I want to spend my capital.

Finally developing a few habits can help you in your organization, the choices you have to make, where and how you are going to spend your time. Do you drink coffee every morning? Fill up the coffee maker, set the timer and have it ready for you so you don’t have to do it every morning while you are trying to workout then get to work. In years past I used to wake up, run, walk the dogs, boil water for tea while making breakfast, then eat in the office while doing email and my computer work. I would get home in the evening and always had about 10 minute of work left to do on the computer. I did it in the car. Once done I never had to worry about spending my most valuable asset on that computer work in the evening. it became a habit. That habit enabled me to put a credit in the time account to use before bed.

Now you’re probably thinking that sounds great but my life is chaotic. I have news for you, everyone lives in chaos. It’s how you choose to handle that chaos. You can be rational or you can screw yourself by adopting a whoa is me attitude. You can be disappointed about how your days went or you can choose to make yourself more habitual, choose to spend wisely. You can choose to be more organized and give yourself a greater chance of spending your time the way you want to.

The Beginning of a Beginning

Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by brianestover

We use Dec 31 as a marker to end a time period. But it’s really just an arbitrary marker. Things most likely don’t get better or worse just because you’ve rolled into a new year. If you’re in some complicated project or completing a task, the changing of the year really is just another day. Most things don’t abruptly just end because one second ticked away. It’s easy to use the 1st of the year as the beginning of a training log or a starting point for something. It’s a great time reference. It gives you an anchor to set goals, it’s very black and white. That was then, this is now. Boom, start of a new year, start of a new something.

I always have some trouble with the new year and the start of things. As a coach I think in seasons starting with the down time that begins after the final race. Seasons could have 47 weeks in them or they could have 58 weeks in them. Where it ends for me is after the last race. I’ve been labeling schedules with 2013 for over a month now. The work now is for 2013 and beyond, not 2012. Sometimes I’ll have two or three seasons planned out due to an athlete’s goals, with the calendar year only as a reference.

2013 will be a little different for me, at least I think it will be, a little bit anyway. I filed what I think is the last of the estate paperwork, something I started on July 22, 2011 when my Mom passed away. That seems like an eon ago yet it also seems like it could be classified as just an age ago. It’s definitely been an era of the most continuous bit of stress I’ve ever dealt with. Sometimes a lot of stress, made more difficult by things out of my control or people getting in the way, sometimes the stress has been lessened by the overwhelming kindness shown by people I’ve never met. On the whole I’m a big skeptic of the human race, but several people over the last 17 months have restored a little sliver of faith. I can see an end to this process. Unless I’ve missed something, there are two or three things left to do, most of which consist of me signing my mother’s name, then writing the word by, then signing my name then writing the word executor.

There is a weird thing that bad stress does to you. I can look back on some very bad stressful times of my life – divorce, my dogs passing away, the death of one of my favorite people, going through a few rounds of layoffs. I look back at those periods of time and realize all that stress, all the shit that comes with it really did help prepare me for what I was going to have to do. Making the decision two times to put your dogs down is nothing to explaining to your mother, the person that gave you birth, that had been there for you for 39 years, and as a RN knew, had seen the consequences many times of the decision that you were about to make to pull her NG tube. The tube that was keeping her alive. You, her son, were about to condemn her to death sooner than she probably would have died. And she knew it and you knew she knew it. Then you have to explain that not only to her, but to your family why you are doing it. Since there was a communication gap due to neurological problems from the shunt, she was unable to 100% communicate if that was the right or wrong decision. I still grapple with that decision. What did Mom really think of my decision and thought process? Did she think I was wrong? That I should have waited? Did she think I just wanted the process to end? What did she think? While I didn’t realize it then, having to make the decision about the dogs helped frame the thought process. Sometimes in life though you will never know if the decision was the correct decision or if you made a decision that directly impacted someone’s life and they disagreed with you. It sucks.

As I look back on the process of wrapping it up a few things come to mind. Look losing a parent is never easy but the paperwork involved with death makes living so much better. Don’t die, it’s really the best advice I can give you. If you insist on disobeying my orders get all your paperwork signed, notarized and handed out to those who need it. Only then should you even consider kicking the bucket. Here’s another tip: live in the same time zone as the person who is going to be the executor or executrix. While flying back and forth the country numerous times has it’s perk’s, it’s not all glamour. All that flying did allowed me to get back in touch with some friends, which was great. I spent a lot of time in NC hanging out with friends that I rarely get to hang out with. It was also a time saver. Instead of continuing to spend a ton of time online looking at dogs at the shelters, then having to drive there, pick out the one you want, drive back a few days later to pick them up, I just inherited a dog. It’s pretty cool to have a dog that think’s your her best thing other than breakfast & dinner. I think the biggest thing it’s given me is the ability and confidence to know no matter what, it’s all going to work out. My Mom’s dying allowed me to shed the silver shackles that bound me with no fear of failure. The reality is I’ve made the two hardest decisions a lot of people have to make.

Now I have the beginnings of a new period of my life. Even though it’s January 1 and the beginning of a new year, my new beginning isn’t tied to the calendar. I can see it well above the horizon, close at hand, but it’s not quite here, yet.

Chronic Training Load & Why It Matters

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by brianestover

If you have used WKO+ you’ve seen the Performance Manager Chart (PMC) that shows your Chronic Training Load (CTL). Most people I talk to look at the chart and think “Gee look at the pretty lines and colors.” But when used correctly, the CTL line on that chart gives you an idea of what you’ve done and what you can do. It needs to be looked at along with the other pretty lines in your PMC, but for now I’ll give the down and dirty on CTL.

When you train you stress the body. You adapt and hopefully over repeated weeks, months and years of training you get faster AND you can handle higher workloads. Today’s hard 5×5 minutes of threshold on the bike that makes you hit the couch for a two hour nap, becomes tomorrow’s 8×5 minutes of threshold that leaves you tired but able to grocery shop right after. Today’s training becomes tomorrow’s chronic training load. Different training has different stresses and impacts your CTL differently. Your CTL is measured in Training Stress Score / Day. Think of this as how much stress you give yourself based upon what you do. A hard interval session where you knock out 4k of intervals and run 9k total will give you more TSS then a 10k easy run. A 2.5 hour ride where you flog yourself for 75 minutes of threshold will yield more stress then a 2.5 hour coffee cruise. If easy coffee cruises added a ton of stress, instead of social rides to have a coffee we’d have climbing rides to socialize.

Since TSS makes up part of your CTL the more you do in any one day the higher CTL goes. It also rewards consistency. Remember CTL = Training Stress Score / Day. It’s the cumulative training you’ve averaged per day for how ever long you want to look at it in your PMC. (This is why it’s a good idea to run more than one PMC.) If your PMC is set for 52 weeks, it’s going to take more to increase or more time off to decrease your CTL compared to a PMC that is set at 28 days. The more consistent you are in training daily, the more you can influence up or down your CTL. Big training days typically add to your TSS/D, days off of training subtract from it.

To give you an example of how this works let’s choose 165.5 TSS/D, this means you’ve averaged 165.5 TSS per day every day you’ve trained for however long your PMC is set for. If you only train 50 TSS today it will drop a little. If you train 257.8 TSS it will rise a little. Generally you want this to rise over time and get as high as possible. It’s this long term rise in what you have done that allows you to do more. It;s this long term rise that is the result of training. A U23 rider isn’t going to have the same sort of CTL that a veteran cyclist who has ridden 10 Grand Tours over the last 4 years is going to have. But depending upon how long you set your PMC for and what each of these riders has been doing recently the U23 rider might have a higher ATL (Acute Training Load) then the veteran tour rider.

You have to look at CTL in both the short and long term. If you only look at the long term CTL you might miss the day in day out picture of what you have been doing very recently. Huge ramp ups over short periods of time can leave you tired and performing poorly if not managed proprely. On the other hand, if you only look at your PMC over the short duration, you won’t see what you’ve done long term and might miss clues to what you could be doing or should be doing.

Below I’ve inserted a PMC of one of my athletes from last season. I’ll talk about some of the things that influenced the CTL aka blue line.

Season Long PMC

Season Long PMC

To look at the season as a whole you’ll start from the left and look right. This will give you an idea of where they started and where they ended up. This was a new to me athlete and I had no historical data from them from previous years. The first four and a half months were spent training. You see the steady saw tooth progression of the CTL line. This represents the pattern that the first four and a half months fell into. A few bigger/harder days and few easy days. The intervals were short, hard and often. There wasn’t a lot of threshold riding, there was a lot of supra threshold riding. This continued right into the first weeks of racing where multiple races where raced. You’ll notice the big dip in the blue line. This is where significantly less training per day was being done. Once we got through this period we started a push towards the first major race of the season. You’ll notice the blue line starts trending up. If you were to look at a short time frame PMC you’d see a significant spike in the acute training load of this athlete. The duration’s and intervals changed to reflect the specificity of the events that were being focused on for the season. This athlete had to do more to maintain and increase their fitness as they acquired more fitness. The next major dip in the blue line represents a mid season break from training. This was a 7-10 day break from training to help manage fatigue loads. The build up that followed was much like the previous ramp up. The ATL was very steep, representing lots of work in a short period of time, but not short workouts. The next major dip was work related that required a couple of weeks of almost around the clock work. This curtailed training and you can see that as the blue line drops. This was followed by two more ramp ups with some drops due to work related stuff. Each of these build ups had an ATL that was much steeper then the long term CTL you are seeing here. This TSS was achieve with some very long rides and runs acquiring large amounts of TSS in a very few workouts and little TSS in the rest of their workouts. Frequency also dropped a little compared to early in the season in some sports. The final ramp up saw this athlete achieve some of their highest ATL numbers of the year and near season high CTL numbers. This huge increase in ATL led into tapering which allowed both short and long term CTL to drop.

Hopefully you can now understand that ATL and CTL influence each other and how both have to be managed for a successful season. By looking at the CTL, short and long term, and the athletes race schedule, you can learn to manipulate training loads to be at optimal fitness for the races that matter. This allows you to do the training that matters so you can get results that matter at the races that matter.

Christmas in Lights

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2012 by brianestover

My neighborhood goes a little nuts during the holidays, in both a good and bad way. It’s good because every single night during the holiday season there is a party going on in my neighborhood. I walk the dog at night and it’s an endless supply of free beer on our 1.6 or 2 mile loops. You can’t beat that. It’s also awesome because everything is lit up and no cars! We don’t allow cars in the neighborhood unless you live here except for a couple of drive through nights. I’m not kidding, every entrance in or out is manned by police and has barricades across it. It’s like we live in a compound, a good compound, happy, full of holiday cheer compound not a Waco like compound. We charge people a can good to get in the neighborhood. We raise several tons of food for the Community Food bank to help feed those less fortunate. You like karaoke? We have it. Live music? That also. Community theater? That as well. Bright lights? Big cities? Gingerbread houses? Check, check and check.

Did you know the first Community Food Bank in the world was started in Phoenix AZ? Neither did I until I volunteered at that food bank a few months ago.

One of the drawbacks of being in our neighborhood during the holiday season is running around your house naked forgetting the blinds are open and 1000+ people are walking through the neighborhood each night. Of course you typically only do that once per season until you realize that at any given moment there are 5-250 strangers standing in front of your house staring at your lights and taking pictures. Nothing like adding the full Monty to your holiday display. On the two nights they allow cars, my cul de sac becomes a traffic jam. I try to put a good movie on for them to watch as they sit parked in front of my house for 10-15 minutes at a time. Next year Episode 6 of Star Wars, mark your calendars. It took me 12 minutes to drive the quarter mile up my street to my house. I might be able to still run 2 miles in that time if I had to. But fortunately we have police at every entrance. I just have to run there if someone is chasing me.

One of 5 cranes that set up the hood

One of 5 cranes that set up the hood

The weekend before everything kicks off we have cranes running around stringing lights on every tree that can support lights. When I say we, I mean my neighbors not me just so there isn’t any confusion. Some people take this way too seriously in my neighborhood. Not to mention two or three cherry pickers and more ladders then Home Depot stocks at any one time. You actually have to reserve one of these cranes, well in advance, if you need it to string lights in your trees. Demand is that high.

What does all this madness look like? Out of the 125 or so houses in my neighborhood only about 10 don’t have some display set up. The displays run from needing their own coal fired power plant to keep them on to somewhat more environmentally friendly. Here is a small sampling of what it looks like at night. If you go into space I’ve heard rumors that Nasa can pick out my neighborhood. We even spread cheer to astronauts.

I should star planning the Star Wars/Grinch theme’d display now to get a jump on next holiday season.












Making News

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , on December 22, 2012 by brianestover

Nick Baldwin was interviewed recently by the world’s biggest triathlon site. You can read about him, his globe trotting ways and what his plans are for 2013 by clicking the link below.