Back to running


After a week of post-Ironman sunburn recovery, I reintroduced myself to running. My performance was pretty bad: I did 3 miles at a 10-minute pace. (This compares to, for example, a recent run of 4 miles at an 8:31 pace.)

I’m not too worried about this blip in underperformance. It’s sufficiently bad that it was probably just an off day for me. Maybe I was dehydrated, hungry, etc., various reasons for randomly bad performance.

I also know I pushed myself just the amount I wanted to, actually even more. I originally set out with the goal of doing an easy three-mile run, but as I wasn’t running too fast, an otherwise-easy pace actually ended up hitting my heart rate max of 180 for most of the run. (My watch tells me not to work out for another 3.5 days!)

Note that my pace is usually faster than 10″-mile in the above diagram, and pretty steady, but the average pace over the run is lower because of the times I stopped at traffic lights.

Speaking of traffic lights, I find that they provide one of the most interesting physiological sensations in running, and not in a good way. Somehow it is possible to hit my heart rate max and temporarily “tune out” my suffering. But if I stop short, I suddenly start feeling just how hot it is outside. A terrible feeling passes through my circulatory system like I’ve just floored the gas in a car with its emergency brake on. And my legs start freezing into a standing position, motionless. If  possible, it seems preferable to slow down gradually rather than stop short.

I also felt another interesting but unpleasant feeling I haven’t felt for a long time, whose source I’m still trying to understand. When getting out of breath, my face starts feeling awfully painful, like my teeth are being extracted. Is this because of a lack of blood to the face? Or maybe too much blood (blood pressure?). Actually, this feeling has become quite rare for me, and I associate it with the days before I started working out.

The current plan is to train toward two things:

  1. Running a 6-minute mile. (My record now is 6:41, so I still have a ways to go.)
  2. Doing a 5k. I’m not going to train toward this explicitly, but since most of my workouts will be in the 2 to 3 mile range, I expect to have decent prep toward that. My goal is 24 minutes.

Timberman Part 2

I recently participated in Ironman Timberman, a half-iron distance event. I didn’t end up finishing, but I exceeded my own expectations. I managed to do the swim in 1:03 and got 53 miles on the bike course before the cutoff time.

What I learned: practice long distance cycling is key, and the good news is that it isn’t terribly hard to train. I felt confident I could have done the run section, if I had managed to finish the bike.

The swim went well, although I was clearly going too slowly. I think it shouldn’t be too hard to fix my swim form. The key, I think, is kicking from the hip — I seem to have problems with my feet dangling. Everything else about my stroke seems much better after taking those swim classes.

Owning a new wetsuit would be nice as well. My old wetsuit just seemed too tight, and I ended swimming without it.

For the rest of the year, I think I’ll focus on running, a sport that doesn’t have as high setup costs. I’m currently looking to do a 5k at the end of October, with a goal race time of 24 minutes. Perhaps I will return to Ironman next year, or the year after (depending on my travel schedule after graduation). I definitely want to do it, and I think I have a much better appreciation of exactly how much I need to train each sport, and what I need to do, to finish.

I’m going to try updating this blog more often as well, to keep myself honest about doing research. I gotta up my productivity. I’m very excited for this fall and hopefully will have more to say soon on both work and running fronts.

The Gran Fondo

At the beginning of this month, I joined a challenge on Strava: do a “Gran Fondo,” or ride 115 km (71.45 miles) in one day.gran-fondo-115-6-v1

At this point, it’s looking like I’ll miss the end of the month by a few days, but my trip is mostly planned out. I’m going to be biking down to Providence using this route; I’ll also have to bike perhaps another 20 miles along the Providence bike trail once I get there. I’m trying to hustle up a friend to come with me, too.

I still need to buy some equipment:

  • Water bottle holders (for both bikes, if my friend comes…)
  • Food
  • Bigger bike bag (or just an extra one)
  • Small first aid stuff (probably already have this)
  • Extra spare tire tube and CO2 canister
  • Jersey
  • Gatorades

I also need to do a few random tasks:

  • Plan out the map/route and commit it to memory. FIND BATHROOMS.
  • Raise my bike seat on my tri bike
  • Swap out the pedals on my road bike

Much progress on running

new pr late juneI set a new PR for the mile on Monday: 6:40.

For whatever reason, my recent running workout regimen has been working out well, in terms of reducing my mile times. I thought I would document my running past, present, and future.

A bit of history

I began running more seriously in September 2013 after I sprained my thumb and had to stop lifting. I did my first 5k that month. I did a half-marathon in November 2013. I did a marathon in November 2014.

I’ve compiled the following graph of my run times, using runs of approximately 1, 2, and 3 miles (times are all minutes per mile):

run times

The main takeaway is that I haven’t improved much over this time period — although it’s a bit unclear, due to data problems. (I certainly improved my distances, which are not shown, but it’s not so clear about my times.)

A big problem with this data is that I don’t really have run times for these short distances around the times I was running intensively, to prep for my half-marathon and full marathon. Also, the observations we do have are sometimes instances where I got tired and had to pack my run in early — so they’re deceptively slow.

This underscores the importance of having some kind of standardized run to track one’s progress.

The present

More recently, since I’ve been doing mile runs, I have standardized tracking, and it’s clear that I’m getting better. So it’s not necessarily clear that my new regimen is helping particularly — although it certainly feels like it is — but we do know that it is a regimen that works.

I generally run 1 mile on Mondays (say at a 6:45 pace), then do 2 miles at the track doing intervals (alternating quarter mile laps of running at a 6:00 pace and walking/slow jog). I also do a longer run later in the week, at this point around 4 miles. I’ve been throwing in stadiums in the last couple weeks, and I also try biking a bit if I need a fourth or fifth workout. (I often do four.)

Future plans

Going forward, my goal has been to increase mileage by approximately 10% per week, to avoid injury (I feel like rest has helped me sustain a relatively good pace of improvement — this may also be key.)

So here are my recent mileage totals, counting stadiums as 3 miles (due to lots of injury potential):

May 25: 6.2

Jun 1: 6.8

June 8: 6 (low bc first time doing stadiums required recovery)

June 15: 5.1 (low due to carelessness)

June 22: 3 so far, will pick up another 3 on Friday due to stadiums + long bike on Sunday. Perhaps an additional easy mile run on Saturday. That will add up to 7, perhaps.

Ironman 70.3: Timberman


Since it’s looking like I won’t make Ironman Mt. Tremblant, my brother convinced me to switch my registration to a Half Ironman, the Ironman 70.3: Timberman race in New Hampshire. I’ll be able to drive to this race much more easily, and it’ll be a better match for my abilities.

The official Athlete Guide is here, and the schedule is here.

Swim: 1.2 miles – Cutoff: 1′ 10″

Bike: 56 miles – Cutoff: 5′ 30″

Run: 13.1 miles – Cutoff: 8′ 30″

To swim 1.2 miles in 1′ 10″ (let’s say 50″ to play it safe) I’ll need to swim 25 meters in 38.76 seconds. My pool has 25 yard laps, so I’ll need to do a lap in 42.2 seconds. I feel like this is fairly within reach.

Now supposing something goes wrong and I take the full 1′ 10″ for the swim, that gives me 4′ 20″ remaining for the bike, or 12.9 mph average pace. I’d probably want to target around 16-17 mph in order to hit this. (26 kph, from my bike computer’s point of view).

Then I have 3 hours left for the run. I’d actually have to run here… if I walk at a 15″/mile pace, I’ll only complete 12 miles, but I need to do 13.1. So I’ll have to do something like run the first hour at a 10 minute mile pace, get 6 miles under my belt that way, then spend the next two hours doing 8 more (with some room to spare since 6+8 = 14). I don’t particularly want to run, since I haven’t trained for this distance and there’s a decent chance of getting injured.

Over the next few days, I’ll try to get in the pool and on the bike to see how feasible they are.

The Plan

I signed up a while back for Ironman Mont Tremblant in 2015.  Here is the official FAQ.

What do I need to do to seriously think about finishing.

Race day: 2015-08-16


  1. Swim start: in the water between 6:42 and 6:45 (you enter the water by age/sex group).
  2. Swim cutoff: 9:20.
  3. Bike cutoff: 17:30.
  4. Run cutoff: “midnight.” (I need to finish by 11:42pm, 17 hours after my start, to be considered an official finisher.)

Thoughts on speed. Obviously, I need to get faster, but maybe not too much:

  1. 2.4 mile swim. This is 4,224 yards, or 169 25-yard laps in my pool. If I can get to a speed of 30 seconds per lap, that puts me at an hour and 15 minutes for the swim, getting me out of the water at 8:00. I feel like this is doable, but it’s the most aggressive speed-up I need.  I will feel pretty good about my level of fitness for the cycling and run if I can achieve this. I’m budgeting 1.5 hours for the swim just in case. (6:45 – 8:15)
  2. Let’s say the transition takes 20 minutes (8:35)
  3. 112 mile bike.  It turns out that, to walk the marathon at 4mph (which I feel would be a good plan), it would take roughly 6 hours 40 minutes. Thus, I need to start the marathon by 17:00. Adding in transition time, I need to be done the bike by 16:40, which means I have roughly 8 hours to do the bike.  That means I need to bike at 14 miles per hour, which seems doable. I probably need to train at something like 15 or 16 mph to account for things like stopping for food or the bathroom. (16:40)
  4. Transition 2  (17:00)
  5. 26.2 mile run. (23:40)

Another key thing seems to be to practice transitions — if I can shave off 20 minutes there, that would help a lot with having some spare time for eating, etc.

Since I don’t have a ton of time for long runs/bike rides, I think I probably should start by using interval training to boost my fitness so that I can hit these speeds, or above. (For example: 30 second laps in the pool for a 40 minute workout, biking at 18 mph for an 45 minutes, running 3 miles in 21 minutes.)

Training updates

  1. Missed the gym yesterday due to MLK day; pool was closed.
  2. I think it’s time to work on speed rather than technique when it comes to swimming.
  3. It’s probably reasonable for me to try to swim 100 yards in 2 minutes. (I’ve seen 100 yards in 1.5 minutes quoted online, but my current speed is something like 100 yards in 3 minutes).
  4. I think my swim intervals will be based on this website:
    1. 10 x 50y intervals, with 15 second breaks.
    2. 10 x 50y intervals, with a total of 1:15 for each interval.
    3. 5 x 50y intervals, swim as fast as possible, and break up the sets with a slow lap.
  5. This interval program should take about 40 minutes, which is my usual swim time.
  6. Some of the claims about swim speeds are truly ridiculous — like people saying they can swim 100 yards in a minute. (I don’t doubt it, but these guys are swimming 3x faster than I.)
  7. My Theraband that I was using for physical therapy broke yesterday; I’ll try to get a new one today.