Monday Swim

Though my training plan is not yet solidified (I need to do a little more research and work), I know I’ll need a base phase to prepare my body; up till now workouts have been not totally infrequent, but not regular enough for real training.  I need to get up to 6 days a week of workouts.  The weekend was a little tough on my knees, so I opted for a swim on Monday which is in keeping with what I had planned for that Monday (and most Mondays going forward).

I didn’t feel like following a prescribed program or doing much drill work, so here’s how it turned out.

  • Warm-up: 300m
  • 1st Drill: 2x 100m with a pull-buoy.  I held the pull-buoy between my shins on the first set, since I believe it’s there to teach me to use my core to stay level in the water, and carrying it higher simply makes it do the work for me.  It was a little hard (like holding a plank for 2 minutes) so I brought it closer to my knees on the second set.
  • 2nd Drill: 2x150m with hand-paddle gloves.  I was testing out my shoulders here since a little impingement issue flared up last week.  I honestly meant to do 2x100m, and accidentally kept going on the first set, so why not do 2x150m?
  • Main set: a pyramid with increasing intensity:
    • 100m in 2:07
    • 100m in 1:59
    • 100m in 1:52
    • 100m in 1:57
    • 100m in 2:17
  • Cool down: 100m breast-stroke and 100m back-crawl.

More Family Exercise

My main ‘go-to’ circuit/strength workout is the the Spartacus Workout from Men’s Health.  It doesn’t require much other than dumbbells, and I can get it done in around 40 minutes, though it gets me sweating and breathing heavily like anybody’s business.  Last time I did the workout at home, Shark Boy was having a nap, but the Lightning Kid (4 months) was ready to rock.  My wife went out for a run, so I was watching him. I managed to keep him somewhat entertained with the following modifications to the Spartacus Workout:

Mountain Climbers:

Push-up Position Row:

Lunge and Rotation:

He weighs 12 lbs… perfect!

And when I’m on the bike trainer, I let him watch me.  He seems to find the noise and motion of the spinning wheels fascinating.  The trouble is, if I find myself tiring, and the cadence backs off, he starts to squawk of boredom.  He’s like a little coach not letting me slack off!

The Lightning Kid is lying on the mat on the far side of the bike.

There hasn’t been much snow in Southern Ontario this year, but when we got some, we managed to take advantage with a visit to the Mansfield Outdoor Centre.  It was our first time out cross-country skiing since we grew to a family of four.  We didn’t get too much mileage in, as getting the gear and kids into the car, driving there, and still meeting somewhat of a sane nap schedule limits time a fair bit, but I’m proud that we’re still getting out to do one of my favourite activities as a family.

Shark Boy in the Chariot, the Lightning Kid in the backpack carrier.

A Rebuttal To Swim Bike Mom’s ‘Brain Bills Job Kids and Triathlon’ Post

So, the estimable Swim Bike Mom posted about how triathlon can come into conflict with one’s Brain, one’s Family, one’s Job, as well as Bills, Sleep and even the Body and Heart.  Go on and read it at the link above, then come back here.  Good, now allow me to rebut that post.  Yes, I know she’s a lawyer… but I am Without Fear.  Here goes…

BRAIN: Hello Triathlon, I just wanted to give thanks for the long training sessions.  They really help me get away from a lot of the hustle and bustle.  Sometimes I even get my best work done when it’s just me, body and the road or water.

HEART: Yo, I know what he means.  Right now I’m chilling at a low rate thanks to those little parties you throw all the time…

BODY: Sure, you guys don’t feel any of the pain involved… to you there’s no downside.  Still, I guess I like to be prepared for when the kids need me.  Speaking of pain…

KIDS:  Papa!  Carry me!  Upstairs! Downstairs! Through the mall!  Across the Parking Lot!  Can we go for a run or ride in the Chariot?

WIFE:  Thank goodness for you, Triathlon!  He’d be a corpse after all that if it wasn’t for you… I’m also a big fan of your work with BODY over there…

BODY: I like you too, lady…

JOB: Break it up you too.  Triathlon, thanks for keeping the man healthy and sane.  Our reports indicate a below average number of sick days taken.

TRIATHLON:  Thanks you guys… I couldn’t do it without you either…. wait, excuse me who are you?

SLEEP: I’m SLEEP… we don’t know each other very well….



Building my 2012 Race Calendar

It’s probably already getting to be too late to be plotting out my race calendar, as the training plan will follow from that – even one of my loosely structured ‘plans’ is in danger of never truly forming.  I have some favourite races, but I don’t want this year to be ‘Been There, Done That’ so there will be a lot of new and novel races for me this year.

Race Name and Date
Quick Note
Primary Goal
I may be supporting my wife in her race endeavours this month so…
Met Con Blue. June 2nd
Secondary Goal; Obstacle Course Race
Spartan Race Toronto (Oro); June 24th
Primary Goal; Obstacle Course Race
Muskoka 5150; July 22nd
Primary Goal; Olympic Distance Tri
Muskoka Grind; August 5th
Secondary Goal; Off-Road Tri
Primary Goal; Olympic Distance Tri
Logs Rocks and Steel; September 8th
Secondary Goal; Multi-sport Adventure

5 Peaks Trail run at Rattlesnake Point: I like running on trails and always have.  Still I don’t know that I can be considered a trail runner – I’m not sure if my usual routes are as technical or challenging as they would be if I were an ‘official’ trail runner.  Still, I’d like to try an official race and the races in this series come highly recommended.  This one is early in the season and as it’s my first one, I’ll stick to the shorter ‘Sport’ Course which is 4.5km.

MET CON BLUE: Obstacle races are blowing up as a trend, and what I like about this one is that it’s a Canadian Homegrown effort – I’m hoping that means less overcrowding than the Warrior Dash I did last year.  Collingwood and Blue Mountain have been like a  home away from home for my family in past years, so it would be fun to head up there for this.  It takes place the same weekend as the Milton Triathlon, but it looks like I might give that one a miss this year. I didn’t get much interest from friends when I tried to get a group going, unlike…

Spartan Race Toronto: This one is closer to where I live, and it looks like we have a strong contingent of people from the Jiu-Jitsu club going, so I’ll join in on the fun.

Muskoka 5150: Gone is the old Muskoka Chase triathlon; I guess I have mixed emotions.  It was a long standing race and one of my first.  The long course was always ‘neither-here-nor-there’: longer than Olympic distance but shorter than Half-Iron.  The Olympic Distance (51.5km total swim-bike-run) is probably my favourite distance so I’m jumping at the chance at doing this on my old stomping grounds in what is still technically a ‘new’ race.

Muskoka Grind: Every year I think I’m going to be able to try an off-road triathlon, and every year I don’t knuckle down and buy myself a mountain bike to accomplish it with.  So far, there’s been a dearth of these events in Ontario, but with this addition to the calendar maybe this is the year I get myself a mountain bike.  If only I knew anything about mountain bikes.  This will be promoted to primary race status once I have one…

Bracebridge Triathlon: The Recharge with Milk Series has become my favourite, but I seem to have trouble lining up their races with my schedule (at least last year).  Bracebridge used to have a Half-Iron but now they’ve gone down to the Olympic Distance, which suits me fine.

Logs, Rocks and Steel: In the same vein as trying an off-road triathlon, I wouldn’t mind dipping my feet into adventure racing without that pesky navigation or teamwork (I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel).  This fits the bill! The Pine Crest Course is 4km of paddling (kayak for solos like me), 22km of mountain biking, then a 5km trail run.  Overall, it’s a lot for me to work up to… good thing it’s late in the season.  Still need that Mountain Bike though.

That’s the plan (so far).  Always subject to change as conflicts and chaos can arrive.  I’ll probably keep updating the table on a separate page of the blog as the year progresses.

Jiu-Jitsu: The Triathlon of Martial Arts (according to me).

As much as the off-season is more of a mental construct than a true necessity due to climate; I’ve found myself unable to train and exercise to the degree I’d like in recent weeks (largely though not solely due to a health issue).  I was being kept from the bike trainer, I was kept from running, swimming and the gym for any strength training.  When I find myself stymied in my efforts to get in shape, I have a bad habit: I’ll dive into exercise with abandon, rather than easing in to accommodate a body that isn’t ready for the sudden shock.  So I found myself saying yes to a ‘Welcome Back to the Mats 2012’ session of my old club.

This is a triathlon and multi-sport blog, so I’m way off-topic here, but on the other hand, it’s my blog, and I think I can swing a little justification of this post.  And if you still have a problem with that, you have to face these two:

Let me give you a little background. From the Jitsu Foundation website: “Jitsu is a martial art based on the traditional styles of Jiu Jitsu that originated and developed in medieval Japan. The core of the art comprises a system of throws, joint locks and strikes. Based on the principal of using an aggressor’s energy to their own disadvantage, Jitsu skills can be used by men, women and children to counter aggressive situations ranging from unwanted harassment to armed physical assault.”  

(The Jitsu Foundation is the organizational body for Shorinji-Kan Jiu-Jitsu, the style I practice/practiced).

So here are the top similarities between jiu-jitsu and triathlon:

  1. Multi-disciplinarian.  A full jiu-jistu technique might involve blocking a punch, a counter-strike, a joint lock (to put the aggressor off-balance), a throw, then a restraining technique.  So, a jitsuka (a practitioner of jiu-jitsu) needs to be well-versed in many categories of techniques (including chokes, pressure points, etc.) where most other martial artists get to stick to one or two categories.  Swim, Bike, Run…. Strike, Throw, Lock. Get it?
  2. Technical Geekery.  Triathletes are often called tri-geeks – even the more casual participants will use Garmin’s or Apps to track their speed, pace, distance and heart rate.  The hard-core know their anaerobic threshold, VO2 Max, the materials science that goes into making their bikes faster or lighter, and nutritional tweaks to get the best out of themselves on race day.  Jiu-jitsu uses a variety of anatomical principles and physics (like torque and leverage) to ‘use the aggressor’s energy (or strength) to their own disadvantage’.  There is a technical finesse that occurs at higher levels of proficiency that lends itself well to the the more analytical or ‘geeky’ mind.
  3. Masochism.  This may not be universal across all styles of jiu-jitsu (and yet also not unique to jiu-jitsu as a martial art), but doing a grading (where you are testing for the next belt level) is most often a painful, tortuous experience.  During them, you question why you bother to do this in your free time, and afterwards, the rewards make you forget (or at least mentally diminish) the trauma of what you just went through.  Just like a long bike ride, run or brick.
  4. Efficiency.   An attacker can be decimated by a good jitsuka who hardly seems to be doing anything at all.  Proper technique means not using your own strength so much as that of your attacker, ideally with a relaxed demeanour (at least in terms of your outward disposition) rather than gritting your teeth and huffing and puffing.  The motto is ‘Maximum Effort, Minimum Impact’.  Triathlon has a lot of energy conservation, where the work you do to improve technique is meant to make sure you will have enough fuel in the tank to finish the race instead of wasting energy on unnecessary movement.

And here’s where they are the most opposite of hobbies:

  1. Social.  You absolutely need at least one partner to execute a jiu-jitsu technique.  In fact, the more (greater variety of) people you practice on, the better.  Triathlon and endurance sports can be trained in groups, but they don’t have to be, and for me, the appeal has always been in the flexibility in going solo… I like the time to clear my thoughts, and doing it when my schedule allows, not by appointment.
  2. Fitness.  Being in good shape is a good idea in martial arts, and I don’t want to say it isn’t good exercise, however… ‘Maximum Impact, Minimum Effort’ – remember?  I know excellent jitsuka and high ranked instructors who smoke regularly… I can’t say the same for triathletes.
  3. Indoor/outdoor.  Triathlon can be done indoors and jiu-jitsu can be done outdoors, but usually… not so much.

Anyway, that’s enough of a digression for this blog,  I hope to bring things back to the core of triathlon in the next entries.  Thanks for reading!