Saturday, March 26, 2011

Less is More

WP_000042 I’ve been rather quiet on the ol’ blog lately, for good reason. I have been a lot less focused on training & racing since September and this blog has always been mostly about triathlon. I managed to burn myself out again, despite what I should have learned from the last three months of 2009. So after Tuscaloosa I decided to back off, mentally and physically, until it felt fun again.

I had a few other good reasons for backing off --

  1. I agreed to take on a new role at Microsoft, and I really want to see what I can accomplish there. I’ve been rather happy with my racing efforts over the years but I’ve often felt like I could do a bit better at my “day job,” so I am making that a higher priority this year.
  2. A friend and I have opened a personal training business called GeekFit. There is enough going on here that I’ll do a more detailed post soon, but let’s just say that GeekFit is giving me a great outlet for my passions for exercise, nutrition, wellness and teaching. If you live or work near Microsoft and you are looking for a smart, efficient workout, let me know!!
  3. General health – I’d been slowly driving myself into the ground with my overly ambitious mix of racing & work & life. I thrive on being busy … but apparently I have limits, too. A lot of the GeekFit research told me that my lifestyle isn’t all that good for my long-term health, so I am trying to “slow down” a little and to reduce stress & inflammation.

An intriguing piece of all of this is that this lower-stress, lower-volume approach might actually lead to faster racing for me in 2011 and beyond. I thought that my past approach was very well-researched and meticulous, but I was probably piling on too much work without letting my body recover enough.

After September, I adopted an approach of “Swim/bike/run when you feel like it, if friends are going, if you’re excited about it. Otherwise, sleep in, go out, rest, work, enjoy life.”

WP_000018As I hit the end of the calendar year, I started thinking about what a GeekFit-inspired training program would look like: lower volume, very focused intensity, lots of recovery… I’ve been doing our GeekFit strength workout once every 10-14 days and I’ve thrown in some very infrequent but focused/hard swims, bikes and runs. I am still trying to figure out exactly what the right structure should be, but for awhile I did a ten-day cycle with the GeekFit workout on day one, a hard swim+bike+run on day six, and everything else easy/social/optional. I really enjoy hard group workouts and my friend have been on the track a lot, so for the past ~3 weeks I’ve done a (running) track workout every Wednesday while keeping spacing to any GeekFit workouts and to one hard swim (3/21) and one hard ride (3/12 in Austin!).

WP_000654 Recall that in 2010 I would do 1-2 hard runs, a long run, 2-3 hard rides and 2-3 hard swims EVERY WEEK, plus a lot of easy/volume.

I raced a 5K on the track today at the Club Northwest Spring Break Open. I surprised myself by running a smooth, easy 16:01 – eleven seconds faster than my previous PR! The first two miles felt super-easy as I sat behind a guy I knew… then I took off with a mile to go, splitting something like 5:04, 5:16, 5:04 for the three 1600s. (Yes, there is an extra 200 in there somewhere.) I could have run a bit faster in that second mile. I went in with no expectations … but next time I’ll be expecting 15:45!

So I’m training less, sleeping more, focusing more on work, and (running) faster than ever! As for the swim and the bike… well… maybe next weekend?


  1. I think this the point where I get to say.....

    I TOLD YOU SO!!!!

  2. That's awesome that you're taking more time out for yourself. Interested in checking out your GeekFit protocol sometime. I'm checking out Crossfit right now...crazy intense!

  3. Thanks, Ravi. Let me know when you're ready to stop by. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts on CrossFit, too. I've had a few friends get into it but I've never tried it myself.

    I'd like to get back over to your yoga class again one of these days, too. I don't want to overdo my physical pursuits in aggregate, but I'd like to have the occasional yoga session in the mix.

    Oh, and nice report on the Copper Canyon!

  4. Chris, I have heard you don't need more than 2 hard days a week. (I think Frank Shorter was one person to say that) Mark Allen recommended two speed days a week: a hard swim and hard run same day, then a hard bike on the second day. I ran the 800/1500 on the track in college and burned out in a couple months on 2 interval workouts during the week combined with a race on weekends. I wonder if we could improve on just one day hard day per week. (like a triple quality brick on Wednesday) I had my best stretch ever in 2009 after being forced out for 5 weeks by a broken foot. Carlos Lopes couldn't train for 10 days before his Gold Medal in LA 1984. I think Joan Benoit had a similar experience. Some day we'll figure this whole thing out! Make it a great season. Greg