Archive for Running

Asics DS Trainer 18

Posted in Product Review with tags , , , , , , , on May 16, 2013 by brianestover

Asics’s latest version of their popular DS Trainer series is the DS Trainer 18.

Bold colors, great ride, Asics DS 18

Bold colors, great ride, Asics DS 18

The ABQ Running Shop sent me a pair to test out. When I laced these shoes up I noticed two things right away. The most significant thing Asics did was get rid of the ill conceived Clutch Collar that they introduced in the DS 16’s. They added a Heel Clutching System in the exoskeleton of this shoe. The second thing is the shoe laces are longer, long enough to double knot on my high volume feet.

Asics DS Trainer 18's Heel Clutching System

Asics DS Trainer 18’s Heel Clutching System

Several things carry over with this shoe from previous models. Asics brought the fore and rear foot gel pads and their Impact Guidance System (IGS) over. The DuoMax Support System which is their dual density mid sole comes along for the ride from the 17’s. Asics also incorporated the Propulsion Trusstic system and Guidance Line in the DS 18’s sole as well as their SoLyte Midsole Material in it. This shoe loses just over an ounce from the DS 17’s. Something that is noticeable right off the bat when you run in this shoe.

What’s new is seamless uppers and the Wet Grip Outsole. Many shoes in the lightweight category have gone to seamless uppers giving them a leg up on Asics. This neutralizes that advantage. The Wet Grip out sole though may not be a better thing. I didn’t get to run in the rain in Tucson in this shoe to see how it fared compared to the 17’s but I did make sure to run through some puddles when I was in Asheville. I can’t say for certain the Wet Grip outsole is a step up in wet conditions but it’s a step backward on the type of trails I run daily. This shoe lacks grip on the loose layer of sand and tiny rocks on top of the hard packed dirt trails that I run. It’s lack of grip is so noticeable that I took it out of the rotation when I run on the Rillito River path. If you run on something similar there are better shoes out there for traction and grip.

The soul of the sole

The soul of the sole

When you run in this shoe you notice a few things. It’s lighter. It rides lower to the ground, not much lower, but it’s noticeable and welcomed. It’s softer. Softer in a good way. The DS 18’s possess the awesome Asics ride that you are used to. The transition from landing to toe off is smooth and predictable. When you want to run fast this shoe will go fast with you and you won’t have to think about your shoe choice. I found this shoe to be more comfortable after running four days alternating between the DS 17’s and 18’s.

Asics DS 18's

Asics DS 18’s

I see this shoe as being a great shoe for going to the track, doing tempo or threshold runs or even long runs with fast main sets. This would be an awesome shoe for long course triathlon especially the ironman distance. I’d put it in my top two or three choices for half’s. There is another Asics shoe I’ll be reviewing that I think may be a better half ironman racing shoe if you like certain things from your racing shoes. If you need unparalleled traction on trails, the Asics DS 18’s aren’t your shoe. As a day in day out runner the DS 18’s are a great choice to meet your needs. Comfortable, fast, light, everything you want when it’s time to go fast.

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It was a PB Type Weekend

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by brianestover

Another fast weekend of racing by A3 athletes. A weekend that brought a first and many, many PB’s. At IM South Africa Nick opened up his pro career with a brand, spanking new IM PR of 8:48. But not only did he break 9:00 for the first time, knocking a measly 22 minutes of his previous IM PB, he also knocked 6 minutes off his IM marathon PB and did that after riding 112 miles faster than he has ever ridden it before. After dropping several spots early in the run, his steady pace brought him up over seven positions to net him 11th. It was a great hit out as a first time professional in a race.

Do you know what else happened in that race? Mark was racing, trying to avenge his 4th place finish from the year before. Mark rode according to the plan, letting a lot of guys ride past him. His plan netted him an IM bike PB ride dipping under 5:00 for the first time. Starting the run, he was down, way down, just over 13 minutes down in his age group. Seven guys in his age group were closer to the finish line then he was. But when it really matters, in his age group, could he do it on the run, could he pull back :30 per mile to win his age group and secure a Kona spot after riding faster than he has ever in an IM? Not just a few seconds here or there, he had to run 7.5 seconds faster per quarter mile for every single quarter mile of the race to take the lead in his age group. And he had to do it over the guy who won the age group in 2012 by 20 minutes. And so the chase began. 7 guys, just over 13 minutes and the 3k of distance already covered by the leader stood between him and the top step. Mile after mile, the splits came down, the guys in his age group fell to the wayside as he charged along the course. He moved into 6th, then 5th, up to 4th, then into the top 3. The course was getting shorter, the finish line closer. Second, after moving into second one guy stood between Mark and the age group win. With only single digit kilometers between Mark and the finish, with his competitor yet closer to the finish line, he was still minutes back. He continued the chase, the gap was coming down. Instead of :30 per mile it was :30 per km. Could he do it? Under 6k to go and no leader in sight. At 5k to go, up ahead, the age group leader came into view. With just under 4k to go Mark glides by and there is no response. It took a PB in the marathon, a 3:13:28, a marathon that was 10:41 faster than anyone else in his age group and a sub 9:20 time to secure the title. He went from 46th overall off the bike to 27th overall at the finish line. What a great race.

Half a world away, Bill and I toed the start line at the Leadman Tempe Triathlon. It’s always tough when you’ve been on the east coast and Mother Nature has slammed you weekend after weekend with bad weather. It’s hard for guys to come west and race a long course race so early in the season. I’m pretty sure Bill was a little nervous about the power plan I sent him at first glance. Add in sun, a trail run that was technical at parts, one of his first really long bike rides outside, he made a pretty good race taking a top 3 spot in his age group. The results have changed daily since the race, the above link may or may not be accurate. My race turned out well. After resorting to a Jedi swim trick to stay with the wave leader in the swim. The first 1.5 laps consisted of a few of us swapping the lead several times. I just listened to my power meter and rode according to plan with a 2 minute negative split over the back half of the race. While my watts and p/wt ratio are on the small side, just like my biceps, I confirmed that I can go faster then most on less watts thanks to a good position on my bike. My watts per lap were 208, 212, 211, 214 for an AP of 211 and NP of 221, which was lower than everyone I talked with after the race by 15-35w on the AP side. I gave up the lead in the M40-44 age group as I stopped to add nitrogen to the soil around a tree so that it grows up big and strong. With one of the slowest runs in the top 20 I strongly suspect that I was going to give up that lead even if I didn’t stop to pee on a tree. All in all a good day for A3 athletes as we got that early season race out of our way.

Bill and I working on our sunburns

Bill and I working on our sunburns

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by brianestover

A bomb at the Boston Marathon. Sports, the one event where no matter your religion, nationality, color or particular bent, it’s the one place, at least at the worlds greatest sporting events, where everyone joins together and differences are put aside. When I think of sporting event that do this I think of the World Cup, Pele and billions of people tuned in to watch the final match. People holding their breath on every shot waiting for that magical moment when someone launches a shot across the penalty box just out of reach of the goalie’s outstretched fingertips and puts the ball in the top far corner just inches from striking the cross or side bar and falling harmlessly to the pitch. I think of the Olympics, where people get out of bed or stay up to all hours of the night and day. They do this to watch their favorite sports and athletes. They also do this to watch for obscure sports. It’s the one time in four years where people stop what they are doing to watch events like table tennis, canoeing, ski jumping or curling. I also think of the worlds great marathons, London, Rotterdam, NYC and Boston to name a few. Boston, the Monday Marathon. The marathon is a test not only of the swiftest but of the smartest and the riskiest. Can you take that flyer from 20k to go and make it stick? Do you hide in the pack hoping to launch a move that brings you glory, can you reach deep inside and embrace a new level of pain and suffering to literally go the extra mile before breaking down and falling off the pace? Sometimes that roll of the dice, just sometimes it pays off.

But now that great tradition has been soiled. It’s not just a great Bostonian tradition or American tradition but a great worldwide tradition, it belongs to all of us. Over 90 different countries are represented in Boston, all of the major religions and many of the minor ones. An attack on the marathon is an attack against all of us around the world. It’s designed to rip the fabric that binds people together no matter where you live. Your beliefs may be different, but your belief in the suffering required to do Boston is the same. You may race someone down to the wire, but cross that line and it’s high fives. You each are better than you were because of that race.

Endurance athletes are bound together, it’s literally in our blood. We can look at any race anywhere in the world and instantly sympathize with those on the starting line. We know their toils, their sacrifices, the time spent suffering through the miles. If you meet someone at a race, no matter who they are you have a common bond. This is what we can not let someone take away from us. That shared sense of community that being an endurance athlete brings, that shared sense of community that the biggest sporting events in the world brings. That togetherness knowing that right then, while you are watching the final match in the World Cup, or you are running miles for That race, that someone else, somewhere else is doing the same thing.

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

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.

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.