Ladder Intervals

Polar RCX 5 running ladder workout

One of my favorite workouts is the Ladder Interval.  In this workout, I start with a several minutes long interval and with each successive interval, drop the time and increase the intensity.  The progression stimulates all the energy and recovery systems one would use during a race, from threshold level exertions to recovery to full-on sprints.  I’ve done this workout running, on the bike and on skis.

Tonight’s workout went like this:

  • Warm up 15 minutes
  • 6 minutes 10k race pace, 5 min recovery
  • 5 minutes 10k race pace, 4 min recovery
  • 4 minutes 5 k race pace, 3 min recovery
  • 3 minutes 5 k race pace, 2 min recovery
  • 2 minutes overdrive, 1 min recovery
  • 1 minute overdrive, 5 min recovery
  • 2 x 30 seconds sprint, 1 min recovery
  • 4 x 15 seconds sprint, 45 sec recovery
  • Cool down 15 minutes

I was able to raise my heart rate with each successive interval, until the short ones which were more about speed than heart rate.  I had some trouble there because I’m trying to run with a mid-foot plant but still feel compelled to extend my stride and heel strike for speed.

Total time:  1 hr 24 minutes
Max HR:  181
Calories: 1048

Giro d’Italia: Congrats to Hesjedal

Any Grand Tour victory is an impressive feat (especially if it’s done clean).  Ryder Hesjedal, being the first guy from Canada to win the Giro d’Italia or any Grand Tour, makes it an even bigger milestone.  Hell, just finishing a three-week stage race without crashing, getting sick or injured is pretty damn amazing.

Not to mention all the hard work, discipline to follow a training program.  Not getting sick or injured in the run up to the race.  Having the dedication and support of a staff and teammates who all shared the same belief of what was possible.

But, most notable about this story was the effort made by Hesjedal’s team direction to convince him that he had the potential to win:

“In November last year, the team put me forward to ride the GC at the Giro and it took me a while to digest this new program. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like the perfect opportunity…”

Sometimes it takes somebody outside the athlete to see their potential.

First Long Rollerski of 2012

My first long roll of the dryland season at Littleton this morning.  Two hours of classic, about 22km, mostly double-pole.  I went super easy, taking the sweeper position at the back of the group, running speed reducers even on the flats.  The downhills still scared the hell out of me…but that will pass with a little more time.  On the uphills, I tried to stride and remember what snow feels like; trying not to lose all the technique I built up over the past winter.  At the end, I felt pretty good.  Not too tired; arms only a little sore; no falls.

The Fleet: Grandis SL

grandis campagnolo vintage

Part of my ‘fleet’ is this vintage Grandis SL from 1986.  This was the first real racing bike I owned.  It wasn’t a Colnago.  It wasn’t a Pinarello,  Eddy Merckx, De Rosa or any of the luscious frames I lusted for.  It was a sturdy, Columbus SL steel-tubed bike.  A few years ago, I recovered what was left of this bike — the frameset, a seat post binder bolt, the front derailleur, one shift lever — in a basement, and set about restoring it.

Continue reading

Early Ercolina Workout

polar RCX5 ercolina dryland nordic

Ercolina workout at the crack of dawn.  I woke up to a perfect clear morning despite predicted rain, then sadly realized that I didn’t have time to get out on the bike.  Still half asleep, empty stomach, and no coffee, I made my way to the basement to do the Ercolina instead.

Ten minutes warm up.  By minute 8, I was warm and awake. Then, 10 strength-endurance intervals of 1 minute each, with 1 minute recovery.  Cool-down.  The intervals are getting easier.  I can crank up the resistance a little bit more or go hard and faster.

I’ve been using the Polar RCX5 for this workout, though it’s not a heart-rate based session.  I can create an interval session on Polar Personal Trainer which is then transferred to the watch.  This let’s me concentrate on the effort and not worry about keeping count of the number of intervals or whether I’m on a recovery or effort.  It might however be a good idea to pay a little more attention to the counts:   last year, I missed the sprint in a nordic ski race because I lost count of  the number of laps we had left.

We Will Strike For Food!

Coban Guatemala 1996

In the fall of 1996 I was racing the Tour of Guatemala.   We had climbed into the cloud forests of the central mountains and sprinted through the narrow streets — a mixture of fractured asphalt, dirt and cobblestones — of Cobán, finishing on a cinder track inside the sports stadium.  It was a finish unlike any I had seen before.  Soldiers lined the roads on the way into town.  There was still a civil war going on at the time.

There was a routine after every finish:  Go to the hotel. Unpack. Shower up.  Head down to dinner.  The riders — there were teams from Guatemala, Central and South America,and Europe — were crowded into the same small hotel. We sat down to dinner that night in the hotel dining room but the food was never coming.  Soon the chatter of several dozen hungry cyclists turned to grumbling.   Continue reading

Plantar Woes

strassburg sock plantar fascitis

I’ve been nursing some annoying plantar fasciitis.  Last season it was in my right foot.  That’s cleared up.  This season, it’s moved to my left.  Managing it is becoming a habit, bordering on ritual.  I sleep in a Strassburg Sock.  I massage my feet with golf and lacrosse balls.  I stretch out my calves several times a day.  I think I’ve struck a pretty good balance between miles running and recovery which has probably kept it from getting worse. Maybe I’m just getting old. I’m not sure when or if it’s going to get better.  The suspense is killing me.


pulled pork scrambled eggs good eats

Every now and then I need a calorie bomb.  With the last few weeks of training piling up — and the sinking sense that I’m not getting all the protein I need — it was time to take action:  eggs scrambled with left-over pulled pork and mashed potatoes from Blue Ribbon, topped off with lots of chipotle hot mustard.  There’s a spinach salad on the side to make it a little more healthful.  I won’t calculate how many calories might be in here but it was just what I needed after today’s workout:  2 hours on the bike followed by 30 minutes of core strength.

Kikkan’s Summer Plan

Whenever I read something like this, I’m always intrigued by the details of how an elite athlete lives. For a number of years — many years ago, now — I was able to focus exclusively on the pursuit of sport…albeit without reaching the same level as Kikkan.  I miss those days.  When that was all I did, I envied the people who would spend the weekend at a BBQ drinking beer instead of in the saddle at a bicycle race.  Now, I’m jealous of Kikkan Randall and other elite athletes who can devote their entire existence to the purity of training.

The most interesting thing I found were the extreme pull-ups:

…she’ll pull herself up with such power that she is able to clap her hands above the bar and then grab it to slowly lower herself. Eight is her record.

This is something that I’d like to try.

Rain Run

Did a long, slow run in the rain last night, after a max strength Ercolina workout.  The workout plan had called for a run with intervals, but my morning heart rate had started to climb.  So I skipped the intervals and tried to run closer to a recovery pace.  I think this is the first time I’ve been able to run at a low heart rate.   Strange to go “slow”.  There’s a lot of time spent in the green in that HR graph.  Many of my workouts can feel like cramming 2 hours into the hour and a half I have available.  I’ve heard some people refer to this as training in the “dead zone“.  The discipline to train at a recovery pace is as important as the discipline to do the hard workouts. I can always stand to improve my discipline.

I got soaked to the core running through the warm rain.  I finished feeling better than I did at the start and, apart from a chaffed right nipple, it was a nice run.