Hacking Fitness


Original article here

…The IRONMAN 70.3 is a friendly distance. It’s a challenging step up from shorter-distance races (sprints and Olympic/international) to “test” yourself at a longer, more endurance-focused event. Once you complete one, you’ll probably know whether you’re hooked, or whether you’re more suited to training and racing shorter events. If you’ve only done short races, a 70.3 is a significant feat to tackle, and one worthy of respect. On the flip side, the distance is also a reasonable (I hesitate to say “easy”) step down from IRONMAN. If you’re an athlete who jumped straight into the full distance, the half distance provides a taste of speedy, peppy racing that can be addictive in its own right. Once you’ve completed a few IRONMAN races, maintaining the fitness to do a 70.3 is a no-brainer….

Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2013/11/7-reasons-to-love-70.3.aspx#ixzz3SOcdVOvK

Not sure what I was thinking but I just added a Spartan Ultra Beast to my race calendar for 2015. If you are not familiar with Spartan races they are obstacle courses races usually held at ski hills. Lots of climbing, lots of running, lots of tough obstacles, and if you fall off anything, lots of burpees.

ultra beast

A “normal” Beast is 22+ km with 6 or 7 long climbs thrown in. My time last year at the 2014 Mont Ste Marie Beast was 3hr42 and I was hoping to improve on that time this year. The 2015 MSM Ultra Beast will require participants to complete the Beast course, then go out and do it again, with added terrain and obstacles thrown in. I figure we are looking at anywhere from 45 to 50km. So my goal will be to finish in under 8hrs.

This race has now thrown my training into a bit of a mess.

I had already decided to do a half-ironman (Timberman 70.3), so I have been adding swimming and biking into my training mix along with the current running and strength training. The Ultra has been for scheduled the week before the Timberman. Seeing as how I had a hard time walking for three days after the Beast I am not sure that aiming for a PB at the Timberman is reasonable 😉

So…I have changed plans slightly and will now aim for the Ironman 70.3 in Princeton a month after the Ultra…one problem solved.

I have never run a marathon distance race before and I had decided after last summer that I never intended to run a marathon. Short races (ok less than half marathon distance) seem to be my sweet spot but the need to rise to the challenge of the Ultra is unrelenting and I want to be ready.

So…I just downloaded a marathon training plan that will ramp my running to the 42km range in time for the Ultra…second problem solved.

If only planning was the same as doing…

So here are some of the other things that still concern me…

1. Race time nutrition – I have done races at 1hr, 2hrs, 3hrs, 4hrs and 6 hrs duration. I know when my body starts to run out of fuel. Up to 2hrs I have realized I only need water. At 3 and 4hrs I find a gel pack every 45mins is sufficient. At 5 and 6hrs I discovered, painfully, that the gels are no longer enough and I will need to test what I can eat, when I can eat and whether I can keep it down. I have experimented with gels and sport drink mixes and at high sugar content levels it upsets the stomach. A gel without water or a sport drink mixed too strong will just come right back up. For the Ultra I will need solid food and a reasonable amount of it, the question will be when/what/how often, this all needs to be experimented with and resolved well before race day. There is lots of information out there but everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for the next.

ultra beast 22. Base Miles – I need to make sure the miles are in place. The Beast may have been almost 4 hrs but the mileage was still only at 23km, the Ultra will be double that and will have lots of vertical so I need to make sure my aerobic base is in place. I want to be fast so it will not just be long slow miles there will be some speed work in there as well.

3. Cross Training – I do lots of strength training and will be putting some serious miles on the bike. Biking is very good cross training for climbing and the strength training will help as well (as long as I don’t forget leg day). Even the cross training will need to ramp up. I need to test my endurance on the climbs. I cramped up big time at the Spartan Beast Worlds in 2014 when I passed through the 5hr mark (I finished in 6hr30, 200th out of 5000). There was serious vertical mileage in that race and I wasn’t as ready as I should have been, that will not happen again.

4. Equipment – Shoes/Socks? Do I stash a spare pair to change at the end of the first loop. Shorts/Shirt? Same question. Hydration Pack? Do I run with one? Traditionally I loath to carry a water pack, relying on the water stations on the course. Do I carry food with me or leave some at the end of the first loop and go without during each loop? I know the second loop will not be the same as the first in terms of nutritional requirements.

As I figure this stuff out I will post it back here, I hope it will be useful information.

Cool article on some interesting habits of Kona triathletes!kona habits

From Taylor Swift to McFlurries, a round up of the habits of IRONMAN’s fastest athletes.

My favorite dish the last couple of days before the race is white rice with some ketchup on top of it.”-Frederick Van Lierde (Reigning IRONMAN World Champion), Menen, Belgium

“I always pee in my wetsuit or swimskin as I float in the water right before the race. It’s my final moment of calm before the storm, pure bliss.”-Matt Keil, Minneapolis, MN

Originally from: Ironman.com

September and back to school always brings with it a desire to set goals for next year. Forget that I still have three (4,5,6??) more races in the calendar before the end of the year (including Spartan Beast World Championships and the MEC Ottawa Half Marathon).

Before setting new goals I always feel the need to determine if I achieved my current goals and assess whether a healthy dose of reality is needed when setting new ones. Looking back at Facebook from last year I see that my 2014 goals were:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.56.31 AM

  • turned 50, ok that was a no brainer 😉
  • yoga teacher certification, done, teaching yoga regularly, super happy I did it and would recommend it to anyone
  • Spartan Beast – 3.5 hrs…almost…I ran the 21km obstacle trail run in 3:43, finished 78th out of 2000 and cut 30 mins off my time from last year…I am going to put this in the success column!!
  • Ottawa Marathon…the thought was that if I had to train to run for 4 hours to get ready for the Beast why not train for a marathon…and here is where the soul searching begins…

As I started my training earlier this year I very quickly realized what I already knew…

I am not a long distance runner!

Just this week I converted the marathon I had in my race calendar to a half…I chickened out. But what is the point of destroying my knees and legs to attain something unrealistic.

I have met and trained with a lot of really good distance runners, both road and trail. I have talked to many people that are training for their first marathon or half marathon and are working really hard to get there, serious life transformation and bucket list stuff!

But try as I might, putting in the distance to get ready for a marathon makes my body hurt in ways that is shouldn’t hurt. I want to run those distances but my body rebels.

It should also be noted that I am hyper-competitve. I stopped running triathlons when I was younger because my career in high-tech was taking off and I didn’t have 20 hours a week to train anymore. I knew my finish times would start to rise and I wasn’t willing to race if I couldn’t finish strong.

So even today, at 50, my thinking goes along the lines of…if I am going to run a marathon I don’t just want to finish it, I want to finish well!

I ran, climbed, jumped and crawled for 4 hours up and down a ski hill on muddy trails to complete the Spartan Beast but the thought of running 3+ hours on the road makes me cringe. I figure I have an excuse, two ACL surgeries behind me (soccer, both knees) but at the end of the day I really prefer to run fast for shorter distances.

This is not a new revelation to me either. I have been running, literally, my entire life. I have run fast 5km and 10km races (17mins and 35mins respectively) and gone under 60mins for 15km. I have run a 4:20 mile (sure I was 25 when I did it but that is beside the point).

After university I got into triathlons, seriously into triathlons, and had many successes at the Olympic distance races (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10 km run). The target time in those days was 2hrs for an Olympic distance race, I hit 2:01 at my peak, finishing 6th overall in a local Ottawa race in 1990 (a time that would have won the same race last year). Even in those days my distance was 10 or 15km, regardless of the amount of training I put in, I like the middle distance stuff better. In fact my PB at the 10km distance was in a triathlon.

After some serious soul searching this summer I have decided that my sweet spot is 15km, I figure training for that distance allows me to go up to a half marathon without killing myself and to put in the distance I need as a base for the speed work necessary to drop my 5 and 10k times down where I want them.

Cue the Ironman…hanging with all these distance guys (and gals) this summer the inevitable comments were heard…given I have done triathlons in the past, why don’t I do an IronMan? Seriously? I wasn’t interested in running an Ironman when I was young why would I start now? Distance running does seems to appeal to an older crowd so it is not a totally ridiculous comment, except…I hate long distance running 😉

But..the temptation is still there…ok how about a Half Ironman or as the cool kids are calling them these days an Ironman 70.3? Sure I just need to get my swimming back in form, get back on the bike and push my running where I wanted to push it anyway…

OK…Goals for 2015

  • Run a sub-40min 10km
  • Run a sub-60min 15km
  • Run a 1:20hr half marathon
  • Do an Ironman 70.3

The question that needs to be asked is whether these goals are attainable.

I have run that fast in the past, I am stronger than I was when I was 25. I have dropped close to 15lbs this summer, still not at my racing weight of 165 when I was 25 but you trade off strength for weight, so why not?

Another thing that I realized this summer is that training to get faster at distances that you are already running is totally different than training to peak at a distance you have never run before. Most amateur running programs are geared towards building your distances and endurance to peak at your target race, be it a 10km, half or a full marathon. I am looking at pushing my times down at a distance I am already running. Tempo runs, distance days and track work look different when your goal is to go faster each time you hit the street.

So, what is attainable?

Distance Fastest Current 2015 Goal
5km 17min 21min 19min
10km 35min 50min 39min
15km 58min 1:20hr 59min
21km 2hr (don’t ask) stay tuned 😉 1:20hr

Over the next days, weeks and months I plan to post my training techniques and results and we can see where we are next summer.

I am a big proponent of cross-training so that will be a central concept of the training this year. Working towards an Ironman 70.3 really gives me no choice but to cross-train. Back in the day I was working in high-tech and trying to fit in 20 training hours a week, now I own a gym. While I still work long hours to make the gym successful I can train at work and go back to my desk sweaty without seeming too far out of place!

I have ideas for posts on strength and flexibility as they relate to improving your running times. If I am going to do the Ironman 70.3 I will have to fit in swimming, running, biking, weight training, circuit training and yoga to get where I want to go. I will share what I learn, if it is useful I am glad.

OK, enough for now, need to think about the Spartan World Championship coming in 4 days.


Congrats to all the Greco Colonnade spartans who completed the Beast (and the Spartan Trifecta) this past Sunday. It was the culmination of a year of hard training!! Way to go!!!

beast greco


Results (2040 finishers)

78        Steve Davis        3hr43
80        Michelle Power     3hr44
806       Chris Finlay       5hr23
1694      Eric Black         7hr09
1695      Kate Briski        7hr09
1696      Jamie Moir         7hr09
1744      Chrissy Bridges    7hr22
1745      Scott Bissett      7hr22


My race schedule, so far…suggestions are welcome!


May 19th – 13Km – Spartan Super at Mont Tremblant (registered, completed)

May 31st – 6km – Mud Hero Ottawa (registered, completed)

June 28th – 7km – Spartan Sprint at Edelwiess  (registered, completed)

June 29th – 7km – Spartan Sprint at Edelwiess  (registered, completed)

July 12th – 20km – Tough Mudder in Bromont  (registered, completed)

July 27th – 24km – Spartan Beast at Mont Ste Marie  (registered, completed)

Sept 20th – 24km – Spartan Beast World Championship in Vermont (registered)

Nov 1 – 21km – MEC Half Marathon in Ottawa (registered)

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