Hard Workout

Luke McKenzie is a professional triathlete.  Triathlete Magazine recently posted an article with his “hardest workout” and it just so happens to be on the bike.  I would love to know what his Ironman Watts are that he puts out!! 🙂

It doesn’t matter if we are professional athletes, age group podium athletes, or recreational athletes…every one of us has a workout that we consider to be a “hard” workout at some point…one that pushes us physically, mentally or both.

Friday I had a VERY. HARD. RIDE.  Since purchasing my new toy a few weeks ago…


this was the first ride that REALLY challenged me (both physically and mentally).  After having my VO2 Max test at the end of February, I know what my power zones are:

  • Power Zone 1 = 0 -123 watts
  • Power Zone 2 = 124 – 167 watts
  • Power Zone 3 = 168 – 200 watts
  • Power Zone 4 = 201 – 233 watts
  • Power Zone 5 = 234 – 266 watts
  • Power Zone 6 = 267+ watts

Friday morning’s ride was power intervals and looked like this:

  • 30 minute warm-up
  • 6×3 min power zone 3 (mid to high z3) while keeping my cadence above 95 rpm with 2 min easy spin between each set
  • 15 minute cool-down

Typically I have at least one other person to ride with in the sweat cave early in the mornings, but not this time.  I was all by myself.  In my own head.  Staring at concrete walls and a bunch of empty bicycles.

Here is what my performance yielded:

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.44 AM

My power and cadence were nearly spot on according to the targets I was to be aiming for.  The first 4 intervals were challenging, but physically I felt strong.  By the 5th and 6th intervals, I really had to use my mental focus, self talk (or yell) and visualization to dig deep and finish as strong as I could.

Before training with power, I was training on heart rate.  According to my heart rate data below, my heart rate was solidly in zone 4 for each interval after the first two and was nearing zone 5 by the final interval.  With power zone 3 being the target, I was forced to work harder, pushing my heart rate much higher than zone 3.  If I would have done this same workout using heart rate, I would not have pushed this hard.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 10.44.53 AM

This was only the first of many more HARD WORKOUTS, but I am excited to see where training on power will take me!!

I'm. Beat. Nothing. Left.
I’m. Beat. Nothing. Left. Put. A. Fork. In. Me. I’m. Cooked.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.
Puddles of sweat on the floor next to the bike = good workout.

What is your hardest workout?  Do you train with power?  If so, what improvements have you seen as a result?


Week #13 (Recovery Week) Totals:

Swim:  4700 yards

Bike:  76.2 miles

Run:  21.7 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #13 in the green 😉

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

My main focus for 2014 is Ironman Wisconsin.  I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses when it comes to triathlon training and racing.

Strengths:  Swimming and Running

Swimming…Growing up on Lake Okoboji, I have been swimming since I was VERY young.  I am not the fastest swimmer, but I am consistent…I can swim at a steady, comfortable pace for hours.  I know swimming is a strength of mine, but I still have plenty of room for growth and I definitely want to get faster in the water.

Running…In 2004 I ran my first race.  I definitely wasn’t fast, I had no idea what to expect and I had no idea where my running would take me.  But, over the course of nearly 10 years, I have gotten stronger and faster.  I want to continue to get stronger, more powerful and faster on the run so that I will have a strong finish at Ironman Wisconsin 2014!!

Weaknesses:  Biking and Mental Focus

Biking…I am definitely not a strong cyclist, but I work hard on every ride to push myself to be faster, stronger, more powerful and more confident on the bike.  In 2014, I will get out and ride more in all kinds of conditions and with people who will push me to become a stronger and more confident cyclist.  The more I ride, the stronger and more confident I will become.

Mental Focus…When I first started training and racing, mental focus was not even on my radar.  I really haven’t spent much time on mental training until this last year.  In 2013, I spent quite a bit of time on mental preparation and it really paid off.  I felt stronger, I had multiple PRs and I had fun in the process.  In 2014, I will spend time everyday mentally preparing and building confidence in myself to be the best I can be!!

I am determined to work hard and spend more time in 2014 making my weaknesses morph into strengths 🙂

weakness morph to strength

As an athlete, what weaknesses would you like to see morph into strengths???

My Game of Table Tennis

Yesterday morning I went to the pool and swam 1800 yards…1100 of which I was drills where I was to be mentally and physically focusing on my swim stroke…trying to really master some key areas…rotation, hand placement when entering the water and not allowing my arm to drop when I rotate to breathe (mostly my left arm, although both arms drop when I bilaterally breathe…which is what I’m currently working on).  My coach told me to swim for 45 minutes with the first 30 minutes working on drills (both with fins and without fins) and then complete 10×50 with perfect stroke.  Using this as a guideline, I decided to complete the following swim workout:

100 swim (warm-up)

200 torpedo (with fins)

200 single arm drill with rotation (with fins)

200 catch-up drill (with fins)

100 torpedo (without fins)

100 single arm drill with rotation (without fins)

100 catch-up drill (without fins)

100 torpedo (with fins)

100 single arm drill with rotation (with fins)

10×50 perfect stroke

100 cool-down

I was really focused at the start of my drills and then…my brain began to act like a ping-pong ball bouncing around during a game of table tennis…UGH!!

ping pong ball

“The torpedo drill…The belly button should face the wall while the bottom shoulder is in line with the bottom of the pool and the top shoulder is sticking out of the water and perpendicular to the surface of the water, hands in the ‘saddle,’ head rotated so the eyes are fixated on the line on the bottom of the pool.  Rotate the head to take a breath, then rotate the head back so the eyes can fixate on the line on the bottom of the pool.  Rotate the entire body so the shoulders move around the head forcing the belly button to face the opposite wall…I wonder what route we should ride for our two hour ride this afternoon…FOCUS…why is my swim cap not staying on my head this morning…FOCUS…Make sure to get the shoulders in line with the bottom of the pool so the belly button faces a wall…Since the winds are from the ESE, we should go that direction on our ride first…FOCUS…oops…I didn’t rotate enough and got a mouth full of water on that breath…FOCUS…”

“Time for the single arm drill with rotation…The belly button should face the wall while the bottom (left to start) arm is extended out in front of the body with a ‘catch’ position, top shoulder (right) is out of the water and perpendicular to the water’s surface with the top hand (right) in the ‘saddle’ and head is rotated so the eyes look through the (left) armpit and fixate on the line on the bottom of the pool.  Rotate the head to take a breath, then rotate the body so the right arm is extended out in front, the left shoulder is out of the water and the left hand is in the ‘saddle.’  The head should be rotated so the eyes are looking through the right armpit and can again fixate on the line on the bottom of the pool…why are my goggles leaking?!?!? They are brand new!!  Maybe I don’t have them adjusted quite right…FOCUS…make sure the extended arm doesn’t drop when you rotate to breathe…I think it is time for me to go back to my latex swim caps…these silicone swim caps just won’t stay on my head…FOCUS…make sure to rotate your body so your belly button faces the wall…I wonder how many people will show up to ride with us today…FOCUS…”

“Time for the catch-up drill…with the belly button toward the bottom of the pool and arms extended out in front like Superman, stroke through on the right side while breathing, then stroke through on the left side while breathing.  Continue to alternate sides while focusing on hand placement in the water…10 and 2…I’m getting hungry…what should I have when I get home from the pool?!?!?…FOCUS…did my right hand just cross over???…FOCUS…I can’t wait to make those gluten-free, sugar-free cookies that I love when I get home…FOCUS…this swim cap is awful…FOCUS!!”

“No fins…UGH!!  Ok…Torpedo…here we go…I think I may drown without my fins…FOCUS…make sure your belly button faces each wall when you rotate…it is suppose to be a really nice day today…FOCUS…I HATE drills without fins…FOCUS…so much for rotating far enough to breathe air and not water…FOCUS…”

“Single arm drill with rotation…this isn’t so bad without the fins…FOCUS…I think I know what route we should do when we ride later…FOCUS…make sure your belly button faces the wall when you are on your side…fins would definitely help me stay afloat…FOCUS…”

“Catch-up drill…I’ve done this one a lot without fins…FOCUS…I am not a fan of this swim cap…why won’t it stay on my head…FOCUS…make sure your hands are entering the water at 10 and 2…I am going to do my first triathlon today, even if there is a break between the swim and the brick…FOCUS…”

The rest of the workout followed the same format…Sometimes I have really good mental focus and sometimes my brain is a bouncing ping-pong ball and you don’t know which way it will go next!!

As for that triathlon I completed yesterday…stay tuned for part two…My First “Triathlon” of 2013…

I’ve Found my Missing Mojo!!

I had a “case of the missing mojo” a month ago, but have recently found that mojo!!  While I was deep cleaning my house over spring break, I found my mojo under the bed…among some dog toys and one sock 🙂  NO…REALLY…under my bed was the following motivation:

don't give up

I had printed this off a while ago and it must have fluttered under the bed when the dogs were running around the house.  Regardless of how it got there, my mojo was literally under the bed!!

Finding my mojo definitely benefited me last week.  Not only did I complete all of my workouts, but I also completed them accurately and with focus…SUCCESS!!  I did have to swap my swim workouts to different days last week, but they were NOT skipped!!  The following pie charts show my completed distances and durations of my workouts for this last week.

Duration Summary for the Week of March 25-31, 2013
Duration Summary for the Week of March 25-31, 2013
Distance Summary for the week of March 25-31, 2013
Distance Summary for the week of March 25-31, 2013

The following is one example of my accuracy and focus while completing last Thursday’s 50 minute negative split run.  Here are my stats for that run:

Mile Marker

Pace Per Mile













I was INCREDIBLY HAPPY with this run since I had lifted weights at 4:30 am that morning, worked all day, went to the pool after work to swim 2800 yards RIGHT before heading out the door to do this negative split run.  I was VERY hungry and was literally running on “E!!”

The key for me is mental focus…I know I CAN DO IT…I just have to remind myself that I WILL DO IT!! 🙂  Mojo…I’m glad you’re back!!