I’ve registered for my second triathlon. It’s another Olympic distance event in Wisconsin, though this time at Williams Bay in Geneva Lake. I’m looking forward to improving my initial Olympic time—especially on the swim. My swim at Elkhart Lake in May was atrocious. I suffered something of a panic attack, which threw all my training and form out the window. But I’ve been swimming regularly in Grays Lake with good results. I plan to train hard and smart through the summer and come out of the race Saturday, September 24 with a solid performance.
When I started running longer distances regularly, I expected the typical health benefits such as weight loss and a stronger heart and lungs, but I wasn’t anticipated the cognitive benefits. Scientists are beginning to explain something runners have known for generations: running helps clear your mind.
A good run can sometimes make you feel like a brand-new person. And, in a way, that feeling may be literally true. About three decades of research in neuroscience have identified a robust link between aerobic exercise and subsequent cognitive clarity, and to many in this field the most exciting recent finding in this area is that of neurogenesis. Not so many years ago, the brightest minds in neuroscience thought that our brains got a set amount of neurons, and that by adulthood, no new neurons would be birthed. But this turned out not to be true. Studies in animal models have shown that new neurons are produced in the brain throughout the lifespan, and, so far, only one activity is known to trigger the birth of those new neurons: vigorous aerobic exercise, said Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. “That’s it,” she said. “That’s the only trigger that we know about.”
I wouldn’t say that I live at the pool. I’m there two or three times a week to swim 1600 meters or so each session. That’s not much in the scope of triathlon training. Still, it’s extreme for the average pool attendee. Over the last several months, I have witnessed my share of pool oddities. Some people sitting at the end of a lane for half an hours. Others swimming in business casual attire. Countless people walking in the lane and using the occasional water dumbbell. The more serious people swim laps. But even when they do that, the workouts last no more than 25 minutes. Everyone is in and out quickly. Except for two of them.
Anyone who attends a gym regularly knows what it’s like to see the same faces in the same place. You start to know people as “the guy who grunts when he bench presses” or “that other guy who wears the Zubaz pants.” For me, there were two people I knew as the “serious swimmers.” They were the only ones that swam as much or longer than I did in a single session. Surely something had to be different about them. It turns out there is.
I know that there are triathletes all around. But it all seems distant if you don’t know any of them personally. Triathletes are people “out there” and you’re just trying to access a world of the “athletic other.” Imagine getting into baseball, but not knowing anyone else who played or even knew much about the sport. It would be odd. This changed for me recently.
Within the space of a week, I struck up conversations with my two mystery swimming partners. It turns out they are both training for full Ironman races. I knew it! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one training in this athletic world. There are other people getting out the door at 5am to swim for miles in preparation of a crazy race months down the line. These people are all around us. Now I know two of them by name.
I’ve been looking into the running dynamics data my HRM-Tri reports. I ran 7 miles today on my usual route. My pace or cadence didn’t seem to be anything unusual for me. My average stride length was 1.26m. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad considering I’m about 1.81m tall. My average vertical oscillation, or the distance I move up and down while running was 10.9cm. My average ground contact time was 256ms today. I don’t know whether I’m firmly planted or quickly touching upon the path as I run.
I suppose I won’t be able to make any conclusions unless I gather more data from future runs or compare with others.
I had a nice moderate workout on the bike training for an hour. I finally finished You Are an Ironman while on the bike and watched a little of Daredevil season two on Netflix. What will I do when I’m back riding outside?
I’m almost through Jacques Steinberg’s You Are an Ironman, which details the stories of six age groupers seeking to finish Ironman Arizona. It’s inspiring.
5:11am — I’m getting ready to head to the pool for a workout. The schedule calls for 30–45 minutes of technique work. Afterward, I’ll hit the weights to work on arms, shoulders, and possibly a set or two on legs. It looks to be a busy day as I still have much to do with my two sermons for Sunday as well as a shepherding visit tonight. Starting the day off strong always helps.
This is the first week of my official triathlon training plan. I’ve been training for triathlon for a couple of months, but this week I began a plan leading up to my triathlon in Lake Elkhart, Wisconsin on June 11.
Oddly enough, the daily load is quite a bit less than what I was doing ad hoc. My loose personal plan was more in line with training for a 70.3. Given my availability and the race calendar, I had to “settle” for an Olympic distance race.
Today was a 40 minute workout on the bike trainer. I had a 10 minute warmup and then 10 x 60 sec high cadence at 75% max heart rate each followed by 60 seconds of recovery. After 20 minutes of that I finished off with a steady 10 minute cool down. That’s only 40 minutes of workout today. I feel like I’m slacking off. Maybe I’ll fit a run in before dinner.
I recently found a used-like new Garmin Fenix 3 watch. This amazing device is logging all sorts of crazy data. Along with my external sensors, such as the heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor on my bike, it logs data from a built-in altimeter, barometer, and temperature sensor. I haven’t tested it out yet, but I’m looking forward to using the Garmin HRM-TRI heart rate monitor, which will be able to log underwater heart measurements along with advanced running metrics.
The three Bucey brothers—Camden, Kelly, and Kipton—test out a new podcasting service while discussing kombucha, beer, and the absurdity of Pennsylvania drinking laws.
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