Today it is close to 90 degrees. I celebrated by making it a point to fit in an open water swim, my first of the season except for my race swim in that warm, alligator-infested lake in Florida. It was just awesome out there: warm on the surface and sharply cold a few inches below that. I forgot how much one's shoulders need to adjust to the wetsuit. I swam for only 50 minutes, but my shoulders were super tired by the end. It made me happy to swim outside, though. Really happy.
AND ON THE HAPPY FRONT.
I am each day letting go a bit more of my fuck up at Florida 70.3.
I will say that my fuck up in Florida has put an even bigger fire in my belly to compete well this season. I started out the year in awesome form with a slew of PRs. That trend needs to become a trend--again. I'm so determined I am actually annoying myself. I eat sleep and TRAIN to the music of I will kick ass. I will kick ass. I will kick ass. and I will never run more than I have to in a race again (Repeat 5 billion times. Do you know I have run considerably more than I had to in three races in the last calendar year? Mooseman 70.3 70.3, CELT sprint, and Florida 70.3. I have an issue, clearly. But not anymore.) THAT TREND is OVER. I have asked Andy and the kids to stand at the entry to the finishing chute at Couer D'Alene, and their assignment is to steer me into it--and not let me go off course. I'm not kidding. That is really their job for the day--the only thing I really really really need from them.
Lately it is has occurred to me that I must be the most boring person to be around because I rarely--okay NEVER-- leave my little universe of focus focus focus. (okay, obsession. FINE!)
And lest you think this obsession will end with IMCDA, you are sadly mistaken. I actually believe that CDA will just fuel the obsession fire.
Sometimes I think I need electric shock treatment.
So, in line with the obsession piece I will detail what I became obsessed with this week.
Jesse's Triathlon Calculator
Jesse is the founder and head coach at QT2 Training Systems. The Q in QT2 stands for Quantitative, which should give you an idea as to what his training protocol is all about. It is data based--and if you look at the results his athletes put forth, his approach does works. I think the reason his approach works is because athletes are taught to pay attention to the numbers--especially, and most importantly, on the bike. QT2 trains the run by training the bike... which is to say, the belief is that more time on the bike allows for the run to be executed as it should be--according to the athlete's potential. Also, the bike portion of a race (longer than a sprint, anyway) is done at a prescribed power or hr pace. The cardinal rule is not to exceed that pace during the race, no matter what the athletes around you or the conditions on race day seem to command of the athlete. The QT2ers therefore excel on the run every time. It is their trademark.
Anyway... about the calculator. He created it awhile back and this week I have been studying it.
I am generally not a fan of deterministic models. It's hard to nail down specific data pieces with a degree of accuracy that justifies placing huge faith in them. However, I'm still obsessed with Jesse's calculator, because even though I ostensibly don't believe in such models, this one does seem to work with relative accuracy. I'm less interested in the actual time the calculator gives me in terms of predicting my race performance, because as I said, the model's accuracy is not absolute. However, the calculator is very useful in terms of thinking about how to execute one's training and racing in a way that produces success. I've been manipulating the variables he uses to see what combination of things seem to produce the best result (at least according to the calculator). This process has been really illuminating. Thank you, Jesse!
So here is what I have found:
If I weighed 50 lbs my power to weight ratio would be so good I could do the bike course at CDA in 4 hours while only pushing 130 watts, average. The problem is, I would be dead at 50 lbs.
More realistically, I now really, really understand why Jesse makes sure his athletes are slim and trim. For every pound you drop, your bike split improves if you are able to push the same wattage on average that you could before you dropped the weight. I think most of us think of the weight loss helping the run. According to the calculator, it only does so inadvertently. By improving your power to weight ratio on the bike, you have a faster bike split and still do the run as you should. Your run isn't necessarily faster, but you can do the bike faster without dire consequences resulting on the run.
The only problem I have with the whole thing is that it appears that by just losing one pound you can significantly improve your bike split (by several minutes over 112 miles.) But weight is variable. Does that mean that right before I get my period when I weigh 2 lobs more than usual I will be slower on the bike? Apparently...yes. Also, scales are variable. Even very accurate scales are never completely accurate. So how do you know what exact, to the pound weight you really truly are the day of IM? You can't.
Also problematic is the fact that power meters vary in their measurements. For example, in discussing the SRM power meter juxtaposed to my computrainer, I have been told that there may be as much as a 15 watt difference between the two meters. That is a huge huge difference. Even just five watts is a huge difference. According to the calculator, changing my output by four watts over 112 miles produces a 6 minute improvement in my bike split. But yet meters can vary by up to 15 watts in their measurement? How am I to determine which meter to use when using it to monitor my output?
However, as I said, I am less interested in the calculator giving me a specific time, and more interested in how it can guide my race day plan.
Take home messages:
- Train more on the bike, and you will have a better run.
- Make sure you figure out what your zone 2 watts are, and stick with them on the bike for IM.
- Get as close to your ideal race weight as possible without having it affect your power output.
I know that those three points are likely considered givens... but I'm not sure how much attention I, for one, have really paid to them until now.