Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Group riding rant aka "educational moment"

Last night I road the local edition of the Tuesday Night World Championships.  As the name indicates, this is a "race simulation" type ride, with no restrictions on pace, attacks, watts, or heartrate. With that having been said, there are still a few guidelines that should still be followed. Of course not swerving back and forth through the pack, following your line through turns, and (generally) obeying traffic signals are all given.  But last night there was something else that kept occurring  which really shouldn't have. So this might be a "rant" but I prefer to think of it as an "educational moment" for those not accustomed to riding in a large, fast group. 

If you are sitting second wheel (that is, there is only one person in font of you), and the person in front of you (who is leading the pack) pulls off to the side, you have two options. You may 1) continue pedaling, slightly increasing your effort to maintain the same speed, and then continue to pull the pack along for a bit or 2) continue pedaling, slightly increasing your effort to maintain the same speed, and then immediately pull off in front of the person who had previously pulled off in front of you.  

Note that neither of these options includes slowing down in order to stay behind the person who just attempted to pull off. This kind of action (doing everything possible NOT to go to the front) may be acceptable in last few kilometers before the final sprint, but otherwise, there is no excuse for it when sitting second wheel.  If, for some reason, you really dont want to pull through, you should simply not be riding second wheel. I dont know how many times this occured last night but it was pretty frustrating, and forced the same couple of guys up to have to go around multiple people to move back up to the front to keep the pace respectable. 

Group rides can be great for training, especially when contain a large number of fast riders who force you outside your comfort zone.  But if that is the case, then by all means, let them drive the pace and stay out of the way. And if you are bored in the back? Great! But just be ready to move all the way to the front and do your share of the work.


Monday, March 28, 2011


S: 26,300 yds
B: 9h 37min
R: 3h 38min

Total: 20h 10min

First off, I had 10min of pain-free real running on Sunday, so the plan is to work in more of that this week.  I also started getting some Active Release Therapy (ART) from Dr. Houssain at SpineCare so hopefully that'll help loosen things up and get me back to running.  Aqua jogging is fun and all, except that it isn't and triathlons include real running, so I kind of need to be doing more of that...

Meanwhile, the T-levels have recovered some but are still outside (lower) than the "normal" range, so we're sticking with a decreased training load for the another couple of weeks. The bright side of this, if there is one, is that I've had some great workouts in the pool and on the bike. So to recap... lower training load => more rest => higher T-levels => better performance.  Gee, who knew??

Monday, March 21, 2011


S: 31,300 yds
B: 9h 5min
R: 3h 13min

Total: 20h 32min

When I went in to see Dr. Krichev a couple of weeks ago for the leg, I had some blood work done, as at the time I had been feeling a bit sluggish (more so than usual...).  As it turned out, I had an abnormally low white blood cell count and testosterone level. This was likely not that big of a deal, as low levels of both are common during periods of heavy training, but just in case Paulo decided we should back off the training load for a couple of weeks and have it checked again. So as a result, last week wasnt too bad, and I even did some pretty fast swimming in the pool.

On a brighter note, spring is here, and riding outside after work is awesome!

Monday, March 14, 2011


S: 29,300 yds
B: 7h 45min
R: 4h 1min => ALL IN THE POOL

Total: 19h 29min

Yep; it is a pretty sad state of affairs, indeed. As you can see, all of the "running" this week was done in the pool, back and forth and back and forth. Thankfully Timex gave everyone on the team an iPod shuffle, so Green Day and Sum 41 have helped to partially alleviate the boredom. On a brighter note, my leg is feeling better and ankle has improved flexibility, so hopefully the return to running is on the horizon.

In other news, Saturday morning I "raced" the Cave Spring Time Trial out in Owens Cross Roads. I use the parentheses because it was a pretty pathetic performance on my part. It was pretty frustrating to lay an egg after hitting the trainer so hard for the last couple of months, so I'm just chalking it up to the cold weather on race morning.  In the meantime, I'll use it as motivation to work a little harder in the next month in my preparation for 70.3 New Orleans.    

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Open Letter to USA Triathlon

To Whom It May Concern at USA Triathlon,

One of your Core Programs, Sport Performance, is broke. The current decentralized system which allows individual athletes to choose individual coaches has not produced results relative to our country’s potential. The United States and Australia dominate the international swimming scene and, outside of Kenya and Ethiopia, the US produces the bulk of the world’s fastest long distance runners. So clearly there is untapped potential for excellence in triathlon.

This is neither a new revelation nor a novel idea. Indeed others have made the same argument. Last year, triathlon coach Paulo Sousa wrote on his blog, The Triathlon Book,

Even USA Triathlon’s own business plan for 2010 commented,

Clearly then, if USA Triathlon wants its athletes to be competitive in ITU World Championships and, more importantly, the Olympics, it must make a change.  A head coach should be hired in the hopes of salvaging success in London 2012. While finding the right candidate may sound like a daunting task, it is actually a surprisingly simple one as a coach with success on the WCS and Olympic level has recently found himself unemployed.

I don’t know the details behind Joel Filliol’s separation from British Triathlon. However, I do know he is without a doubt one the top triathlon coaches in the world. Between his work as the Head Coach for British Triathlon from 2009-2011, and Head Coach for Triathlon Canada from 2006-2008, his athletes have had a bevy of success, including the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics as well as multiple World Cup and World Championship Series wins.

And as if his athletes’ successes didn’t speak for themselves, you could always heed the advice of a man, Simon Whitfield, who has two Olympic medals and is tied for second in career ITU World Series wins. In a recent article on, Whitfield said,

I’m not sure a triathlon coach can come better recommended than that.     

So the question now is simple. Is USA Triathlon ready to truly make a commitment to high performance? Dishing out some money to a few elite athletes is nice, but it clearly hasn’t brought the results its members deserve. Is USA Triathlon ready to change its culture regarding high performance sport?

One of your “key learnings” from 2009 was,

“Culture – while we have increased communication between USA Triathlon and our individual athlete coaches, bringing them together to work as a team to achieve our goals is the next challenge. We need to create a culture throughout our high performance program of excellence and team work. With a decentralized program, this will be a significant challenge.”

I can’t see a better way to overcome this challenge than to hire a man who is known for his commitment to excellence and hard work. And with a single head coach, communication and a unified focus on performance certainly will not be an issue. So I implore you; do everything you can to hire Joel Filliol.  


Andrew Hodges
Member #994886

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


S: 26,600 yds
B: 9h 52min
R: 3h 36min

Total: 20h 28min

Well, things were rolling along nicely (aka I was training and desperately trying to get enough sleep) up through last Thursday when ummm, that happened....

Wednesday evening I had the always delightful 3 x 2mile which I attacked with my running buddy, George H, out on the Rocket City Marathon course.  Although George is a bit slower, he stays close enough to keep me honest, which really helps to keep me from slacking on the first one. Towards the end of the run, my lower right shin was a little sore but I didnt think much of it as I had just run 6 hard miles and, well, something is always sore. I did some precautionary icing that evening and hoped it would be fine the next day.

Thursday morning rolled around which meant the usual trainer puke fest.  I didnt have any soreness, and really kind of forgot about it, likely thanks largely to the pain that was imparted on my actual leg muscles as a result of the intervals. When lunchtime rolled around, I was looking forward to a nice easy run with friends in some beautiful weather.  Aside from the usual overall soreness, I didnt have any acute pain at the start of the run. Towards the end, though, the same lower leg pain from the previous day crept back. I didnt think it was too serious, but it was noticeable.

Unfortunately the pain remained the rest of the day when lifting my foot up to walk. This meant no run on Friday and eventually led to no run (and certainly no race) Sunday as well as a trip to see Dr. Krichev on Monday. After some poking and prodding, he concluded that I likely have a strained anterior tibialis muscle (at least its not a SF!), the same issue I had almost the same time last year but (ironically enough) on the other leg. Causes are purely speculative at this point, other than, you know, training.

Hopefully this will clear up relatively quickly.  In the meantime, I'll be brushing up on my water running, icing, and stretching in order to mitigate the damage to running fitness and get back to real running as quickly as possible.