Surviving Indoor Aerobic Training

So I know I promised a video to wrap up my reposting/rewriting of the Training the Obese Beginner series but, honestly, it was just going to be pointless ranting and I seem to have lost the fire in my belly to do it right now (to be honest I think I just didn’t want to deal with the shooting, editing and transcribing part of it).   So here’s some actual new content instead.  Today I want to talk about surviving indoor aerobic training.

While we can probably argue until the end of time what the “worst” part of training is, I imagine that most would be willing to put indoor cardio (especially of the steady state/aerobic type) right up there near the top.  And while certainly one way to avoid the issue is to either take the no-cardio or intervals only approach, I don’t think either are ideal.  The simple reality is that whether it’s for fat loss, general fitness, or for endurance athletes who live somewhere where it’s cold, doing longer duration indoor cardio of some sort is usually a necessary evil.

So today I want to talk about some strategies that can be helpful to help folks get through it or, at the very least, maybe enjoy it more.   And I’m not going to bore you with the obvious strategies, listening to music, reading a magazine or book to kill the time or whatever.  You know that already.  If you’re lucky maybe your gym has a cardio theater where you can watch movies; in my experience all that ends up happening is that you end up watching the same middle of the same crappy movie (when I was in Utah, I must have seen the middle hour of the horrible Queen Latifah/LL Cool J movie “Last Holiday” a solid dozen times).

Instead I’m going to suggest a way of modifying/thinking about your indoor aerobic sessions both to make them less psychologically gruelling (read: “boring as hell”) as well as physiologically more beneficial.

The Inevitable Driving Analogy

For reasons I’ve never quite figured out, when people write about weight training they have a tendency to use car analogies.   Probably just because cars are something most people understand.  Or because they go “Vroom” or something.  Regardless, that’s how it is and I’m going to continue with that tradition here.


Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Wrap-Up

So having looked at the absolute disaster that was the 2011 Northshore Inline Marathon and subsequently survived my final hour bike ride at UT Austin, it’s time to put the 2011 season to rest with a year-end wrap up, look back, and post season analysis along with some general plans going forwards.

The Season Overview

First and foremost, comparing to 2011 to 2010, if nothing else good happened the fact that I didn’t find myself cratered into a near life ending depresssion can only be seen as a good thing,  Frankly, compared to last year, anything would have been an improvement.

Beyond that, I came into this season with the plan to move up both in distance (from the half to the full marathon) along with level (from the open to the elite).  My preparation was a bit truncated, by maybe a month coming out of the mess that was 2010 but I can’t honestly say that was the big issue.

Somehow the season managed to start disastrously with the Ronde Von Manda (where I got dropped right away and spent 2 hours riding through the cold, gray countryside) and end almost identically in Duluth (where I got dropped right away and spent 90 minutes skating through the cold, gray countryside).   I am obsessed with cycles but this is why: my life seems to run on them.

In between those two things, it was a little more variable.  I was happy with my performance at the Texas Road Rash although it identified some differences in the racing I had moved to; even though I didn’t do the final race, breaking a decade+ old issue of mine (cracking 20 minutes) against the 10k in Chicago was a high point.

I even got involved in bike racing, something I had managed to avoid for the near decade I had ridden and that not only provided another outlet for my mediocre ability and competition drive but I got some good experience, got some good training, avoided the crashes and started to get more comfortable in the pack.


Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Northshore Inline Marathon

I was seriously tempted to title this in the Why the US Sucks at Olympic lifting nomenclature to make people think that that series wasn’t over but it is (I might do a short addendum, not sure yet).  But  among all of the other reasons I wanted to finish the mega-series on Friday one was that it was time to move back to self-indulgent prattling about my inline racing, primarily my final race of the season along with an end of season wrap up (I was actually travelling the day I posted the final part of the OL’ing series) .  Today I’ll talk in overview of what I did following the Tour of Chicago leading into my final race the Northshore Inline Marathon along with a race report.

Following Chicago

Even without having raced the marathon on day 2 of the Tour of Chicago, I was still pretty wrecked.  The 10k and time trial along with the travel had taken it out of me and I took a solid 3 days of doing nothing to recover before sort of jacking around for the rest of the week, just getting back on the bike and on my skates.  I did do the Driveway that Thursday expecting to be fresh for a change but I was just flat and stiff.

At the time I had been focused on entering at least part (if not all) of the 4 day Tour of Austin bicycle race.  It was local, it looked like fun (at least two of the days were at the Driveway where I had been racing) although the two actual crits did scare me since I haven’t done one of those (with true 90 degree crit corners).  With that on the schedule, I had 4 weeks to prepare and I was sort of thinking about how best to do it (especially to handle the multiple days of racing).

There was still a potential inline race on the schedule, the Northshore Inline Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.  As it turned out my friend Eva Rodansky from SLC was going to be skating it and that gave me some impetus to do it.  But frankly, I didn’t want to travel again and really had the bike race in the back of my mind. However, as my mentor, who I sometimes wish I didn’t keep around (because he keeps me honest) pointed out if my goal is skating then it makes little sense to put my focus on cycling (even if it’s local and hence ‘more convenient’) pointing out that I had only done one full distance race this season and that it would be better to do the inline marathon.


Tour of Chicago: 2011 Race Report Part 2

Continuing on from Tour of Chicago: 2011 Race Report Part 1.


I slept well enough Saturday night, extreme fatigue will do that too you.  It hadn’t rained although there was more ominous lightning during the night.  Alarm went off at an all too early 6:45am (it takes me about 3 hours to get generally warmed up and race time was at 9:45am).  I cleaned up and ate a small breakfast (protein bar + banana) since blood glucose/glycogen could be an issue for a race this long and had a bunch of water so I’d be hydrated but have time to pee out any extra.   Legs were definitely a touch heavy and I was feeling the two races from yesterday.

As I goofed around on the Internet, the weather was still making grumbling noises, a lot of thunder in the distance.  Weather report called for about a 70% chance of rain between now and the race. In all likelihood, rain wheels or not, I probably wouldn’t race if it was actively raining.  I had done what I mainly came to do (break 20 minutes in the 10k) and had no true desire to suffer through the marathon in the rain.

And as I sat biding my time, the skies started to darken and the thunder started to roll and at 8am the skies opened up and it started raining.  And that was that, mentally I was done.  Checking the rain was predicted to continue until at least 11am.  Even if they pushed it back and hoped for it to sunny up, I wouldn’t have time to race, get cleaned up and make my flight.

Judging by the finish times (the race was apparently run), I’m guessing that they waited for it to dry, the speeds were just too fast for it to have been done on slick pavement or while raining.  Based on my time at the Round Rash (1:24 over 28 miles) I was good for a 1:18-1:20 over 26.2 miles.  I’d have finished in the third pack or so (Mantia was again a one man show finishing in 1:09 which is absurd, the next pack was 1:13, some individual stragglers and then a big group in the 1:18-1:20 range) or about the same as at the Road Rash.