2015 Recap and 2016 Plan

2015 Year in Review and 2016 Path Forward

Since I started getting back into fitness game in 2012, I’ve tried to review what I accomplished over the prior year and figure out goals and objectives for the new year. This year is no different. The beauty of having devices and software track metrics for you is that it is very easy to review what you accomplished. Here’s how 2015 went and my plans for 2016.

2015 By The Numbers

By all measures I had a very, very successful 2015. The below table shows the progression over the last few years of my training.

Year Activities Hours Miles PRs
2015 281 221 2,241 152
2014 188 146 1,387 77
2013 128 107 1,045 51
2012 59 33 222 4

I’m proud of what I accomplished in 2015. Below are the race results.

Date Type Name Age Group Place Overall Time
2015-05-30 Triathlon King Pine Olympic 3 15 03:03:14
2015-08-02 Triathlon Kingston Tri for the Y Sprint 2 19 01:19:21
2015-08-16 Triathlon Timberman 70.3 Half Ironman 130 1233 06:32:12
2015-09-12 Triathlon Pitch Pine Olympic Triathlon 3 17 02:46:38
2015-10-25 5k Run Children’s Miracle Network 5k 1 4 00:22:26

I got onto the podium for my age group in every race I entered with the exception of the Timberman Half Ironman. Sure, these were all local races. But still, not bad given my training. Ah yes…training. I had a decent year of training with respect to volume, but didn’t have a great or specific plan. I’m changing this up for 2016 (more below on this).

A New Job & Half Ironman

I did take a new job on July 1. As soon as I took the job I was traveling quite a bit to training, prospect site-visits, office meet and greets, etc. I did an ok job trying to get to area pools, running (either outdoors or on hotel treadmills), but found that the training took a bit of a hit. See the drop off below from May to June, July, and August. This was the opposite of a high volume last 8 weeks before my A race, Timberman Half Ironman.

2015 Training Calendar
2015 Training Calendar

So what suffered? I didn’t get my long runs in and I didn’t get as much pool time in as I should have. Also, if I wasn’t home, I certainly wasn’t riding my bike. Noted for next year. While the Half Ironman didn’t go as I hoped, I still finished and somehow was even more motivated for this year to do better.

Thus far in 2016, the travel is far less than it was over the last six months.

2016 Plan

There are a few new things on the plan for 2016. The first is obviously the training plan. Last year I found that while the overall training volume was about on-par with what I had expected, there wasn’t enough structure. With a few exceptions, workouts last year didn’t tell me exactly how hard, exactly how long, and the purpose of each workout. Here’s an example of a week from last year’s plan.

2015 Plan Excerpt
2015 Plan Excerpt

For 2016, TrainerRoad.com came out with training plans including those for triathlon. They have several versions ranging from sprint distance to full Ironman. Of these plans, they also have low, medium, and high volume variants. Here’s an excerpt from this year’s plan.

2016 TrainerRoad Bike Excerpt
2016 TrainerRoad Bike Excerpt
2016 TrainerRoad Weekly Details
2016 TrainerRoad Weekly Details

So far I’m very pleased with the specifics of the plan, the goals, and of course, using the cycling platform to further the bike power.

Training With Power

Speaking of training with power. My plan for my Christmas money was to acquire a power meter for my bike. My wife one-upped that plan by pre-ordering the power meter I wanted, a bePRO pedal based power meter. The power meter was on a 90 day backorder and arrived mid January 2016. The day it arrived was probably the most excited I’ve been for the FedEx guy to show up than any point in my life. Weird, I know.

The Box
The Box
The Pedals
The Pedals
The Installation Tools
The Installation Tools
The Pedal and Sensor
The Pedal and Sensor

So what’s the big deal about power and why did I “need” them. Well, honestly, I can’t say I “needed” them, but I am taking my triathlon training a bit more serious. Think of it this way. When you swim, you train your body to a certain pace in minutes per 100 yards. In running, I work to run a given distance at an average pace in minutes per mile while maintaining a given heart rate. You plan for the hills, but try to keep the pace. On the bike you could do the same thing as running by trying to maintain a given speed (mph) and heart rate. But, the problem with cycling is that conditions on the road can adversely affect you far more than on the swim or run. You also spend the most amount of time in a triathlon on a bike so it is crucial to not blow yourself up and have nothing left on the run.

See, a power meter is a pretty simple device in that Power = Force x Speed. Power is measured in watts. Force is essentially how much effort you need to exert to get the given power at the speed you want to carry. What happens if you hit a hill or encounter a headwind? You’ll need to exert more force to produce the same speed. Without a power meter in a triathlon you might be tempted to look at heart rate and speed. Both of which might be inaccurate. Got a headwind or false flat…easy to ride harder than you should. I know my heart rate can be easily affected by hydration, sleep, recovery, etc. So, to solely rely on heart rate and speed can result in very poor choices in a race…especially when the heart rate monitor isn’t working.

When training with power it also allows you to very specifically target a desired benefit for that workout. For example, you can target specific neuromuscular benefits such as increasing 20 minute average power, improving 60 minute average power, improving aerobic capacity, and teaching your body to use more fat for fuel than carbohydrates. Using heart rate alone won’t do this.

So, I’m very excited to use this new tool. While I did use TrainerRoad.com for several years up to this point, the trouble was I was using virtual power. Virtual power is supposed to extrapolate the speed your wheel turns with a known power reading from your trainer to produce a power value. I’ve always thought that my trainer (admittedly old) wasn’t producing the correct value. One ride into using these pedals and we’ve proven that to be the case. In fact the high power output and moderate to low power outputs were wildly different. Essentially I was riding too easy when a workout should have been moderate intensity and not hard enough when it should have been significant intensity. I expect rapid improvement now with the added bonus that now all the indoor work can be carried outdoors as using virtual power only worked when on a trainer.

New Training Analysis Software – Golden Cheetah

After I complete a workout, I try to analyze how I performed. Did I accomplish my goal? What worked? What didn’t work? What should I do next time? My activities previously were uploaded to Garmin Connect, Strava, and TrainingPeaks (free account). I’m uploading to TrainingPeaks for the sole reason that if I ever start using that or WKO4, I’ve got the activities ready to roll for historical analysis. Up until this year, I was a paying Strava premium user. But, I’ve found that I don’t get a lot of value out of the platform. Don’t get me wrong, I love its simplicity and social aspect. But from a comparison standpoint and truly understanding performance, it doesn’t do it. I was using Garmin Connect to analyze a lot of my activities as I have Garmin devices (Edge 800, Forerunner 910, Vivofit wearable). It is a platform with some tweaking could be great. I’d even consider paying to get some advanced tools.

Enter Golden Cheetah. This software is open source and provides similar metrics and tracking like WKO4 and TrainingPeaks. It will help measure form, fitness, power analysis, swim stress, running pacing, etc. For me, it’s working quite well so far and has become the primary mode of analyzing workouts. I’m not planning on having “Analysis Paralysis” but it’s going to be fun watching progress over the course of the year with all workouts, all rides, and data about me such as weight being tracked.

Ride Analysis
Ride Analysis
Training Stress Analysis
Training Stress Analysis
Power Curve
Power Curve

2016 Race Calendar Plan

My 2016 race calendar will likely look much like last year. I plan on competing in the:

  • King Pine Olympic Triathlon
  • Timberman 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon
  • Pitch Pine Olympic Triathlon
  • Reach the Beach Relay Running Race

The goal is to improve on all times over last year. Specifically, my stretch goal for the half Ironman this year is as follows:

Swim
(1.2 Miles)
T1 Bike
(56 Miles)
T2 Run
(13.1 Miles)
Total
00:35:15
(1:39/100 yds)
00:03:00 02:55:00
(19.2 mph)
00:02:00 01:50:00
(8:23/mile)
05:25:00

This was last year’s actual time as comparison:

Swim
(1.2 Miles)
T1 Bike
(56 Miles)
T2 Run
(13.1 Miles)
Total
00:34:56 00:04:00 03:12:47 00:03:13 02:37:16 06:32:12

So what did I learn from last year? Well, I’ll not be focusing on improving the swim time much. I’ll be very content with a 40 minute swim time to not cramp up and destroy the rest of my race. I’m training with power now so I expect very specific and targeted training here. I’m also going to do everything in my power to complete the runs as scheduled. While a 5:25:00 half Ironman time is incredibly ambitious, it gives me a target to work to over the next 6.5 months or so. I’m up for the challenge.