Friday, February 29, 2008

Buckling Down and Babies

FIRST, congratulations to Graham and Stacy Partain. They are the couple that I have stayed with down here in Clermont for the last 3 years and had their first baby yesterday. Stacy was a bit early (3.5wks), but everything is OK!


This weekend marks 6 weeks out from Ironman Arizona and 4 weeks out from Ironman California 70.3. Things have gone very well so far and I feel that I will be in good shape heading into my early season races.

This week marks the point where I tighten the screws and buckle down before getting to the start line in April. It is nothing too dramatic, just cutting out the treats and late night snacks.

There is big difference between optimal training and racing weight. To train hard and long, you have to be durable, strong and a little heavy. If you try to be your lightest and leanest, the training will crush you.


My recovery this week is going very well and is actually harder than the training for me ;) I have seen another pop in my fitness this week, which is always exciting.

I have 10 days left here, before heading west. I will post another update soon!



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pool Progress

For those of you that don't know, this is the pool at the National Training Center, here in Clermont. It is set up short course (like you see here) on M,T,W, and long course on R,F,S,S.
Today I saw another jump in swim times. I had a 1200 mixed warm-up and then started a mainset of 6x400 on 5:20. The idea was to hold back on #1 and #2, open it up a little bit on #3 and #4, then hit #5 and hang on for #6.
Here are the results -
# 1 - 4:54
#2 - 4:48
#3 - 4:47
#4 - 4:44
#5 - 4:41
#6 - 4:43
These times are about 5-8sec faster than I saw about 4 weeks ago. Getting faster, that is all that matters!
I saw the movie "Vantage Point," last night, which was pretty good. I went with a friend (yes I have a few) and we were originally going to see "Fool's Gold." After 5min we realized that it was going to be horrible, so we picked up and dropped into "Vantage Point." Good move!
The best part of this can buy food and beer/wine and take it into the movie. I suppose you could 'make' even a horrible movie seem ok, if you wanted to. But some of us have to swim in the morning. ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Training Summary of Clermont.

More on the pic below.
I have just finished up my seventh week down here in Clermont and survived my second block of training. These 3 week training cycles are really motivating to me. I have shown improvements each week and have gotten stronger and stronger as time goes by.

I thought I would post some numbers for ya'll, week by week.

Week 1 -
Total Hours: 25:07
Swim: 24,357 yds
Bike: 244 miles
Run: 41 miles

Week 2 -
Total Hours: 27:10
Swim: 25,832 yds
Bike: 262 miles
Run: 49 miles

Week 3 -
Total Hours: 29:38
Swim: 22,205 yds
Bike: 325 miles
Run: 50 miles
Week 4 - Recovery
Total Hours: 21:46
Swim: 20,451 yds
Bike: 211 miles
Run: 38 miles
Week 5 - Tampa Half Marathon
Total Hours: 25:27
Swim: 23,857 yds
Bike: 263 miles
Run: 50 miles

Week 6 -
Total Hours: 31:33 hours
Swim: 28,713 yds
Bike: 340 miles
Run: 41 miles

Week 7 -
Total Hours: 33:05
Swim: 24,961 yds
Bike: 420 miles
Run: 45 miles

Volume is right in the middle for me (beside week 7), but the intensity has been pretty solid. Lots of zone 3 riding, with just enough zone 2 and 4 sprinkled in to have an effect. The best part, I am 100% healthy, knock on wood.


Now what?? I have a very low key unloading week coming up, which will be followed by a 3 week build when I will race Floida's Great Escape. Then I rest for California 70.3 and Ironman Arizona. Time is flying!


So what's with the pic, you ask????
Oh is just a pic of the Cost Rican Rainforest. My bro and I have decided to head there in April for a week after Ironman Arizona. I cannot wait!!!
Hope all else is well with everyone!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I really don't know what he was thinking making a video in his University of Miami sweatshirt....pretty awesome.

Anyway, the reason for the title and the video is to impress upon everyone that ice baths are "the single best recovery technique, hands down." a quote from my coach Kurt at

I will post some numbers after this week. Right now I am hitting some of my highest volume in a LONG time. Everything seems to be coming together. I don't feel that tired and I am getting faster and stronger with each passing day. The training is not beating me down like in past years.

So why am I not tired? Because everything I am doing, outside of training, is dedicated to recovery. Here is what I mean and what you can do.

#1 Ice baths after EVERY tough session

#2 Eating A LOT and often, no cutting cals. Food = Fast

#3 Sleeping A LOT...naps and 9hrs every night.

#4 Self massage/stretching EVERY NIGHT.

#5 Drinking water all the time.

Training is hard, but sometimes recovery is even harder. Everyone can train hard, but doing everything you can to absorb the training is what is going to make you faster.

Have a great week and remember that training goes beyond SBRing.


Friday, February 15, 2008

How you know you've been training hard????

I'll tell you how you know....

This week I have had quite a bit of training and am a bit smoked as I sit on the couch writing this blog. This week I will hit well over 30hrs of training, the highlight being 30k in water and about 350miles on the bike.

Anyway, for anyone that has lived with me you know that I tend to eat very healthy. My shopping cart is usually filled with only fruits, veggies, meat, nuts, cottage cheese and yogurt.

This is USUALLY what is in my shopping cart. :)

I was in the checkout line again this week(seems like every day) and looked down in my cart, only to laugh. Here is what I saw. 2 boxes of cereal, 2 bags of rice cakes, 1 container of ice cream, a bag of Pita Bread, a box of mentos and soda.

Most of these things aren't that "bad," but it is funny how our food choices change as the training load goes up!

I am afraid to think what might be in my cart next week!!!

Here's to fueling the engine and keeping our sanity!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

A good start to the season in Tampa

"The Becker Buzz"
Gasparilla Tampa Bay Half Marathon
1:15:00 - 5th Overall
This weekend I decided to head over to Tampa for what is turning out to be an annual event. I have run the half marathon each of the last two years, placing 5th in 2006 and 3rd in 2007. Each year I do the race on just a day or two of rest, so it can be a good fitness marker. My only goal was to set a PR.
The temps were great (mid 50's), but it was pretty windy. The course is pretty straight forward. Flat, with the exception of a few over-passes and bridges. The race does start at 6am (in the dark), so the footing can be a bit tricky on the cobblestones.
After a 4mile warm-up, my legs felt good. I was sporting the compression socks, which always gets a few looks. As always, the pace was hot from the start. I rolled through mile 1 at a conservative pace and then settled in. As the miles passed I built by pace, but kept my HR in check using my Timex HR Monitor, which is bomb proof. I have abused the heck out of mine over the last year and it hasn't skipped a beat....yes I am a comedian :)
I was holding about a 5:45/mile average through mile 5 and then picked it up a bit. The idea was to catch the guys up the road before we turned into the wind. I rolled through 6 and caught the next racer. At the same time he and I were told we went the wrong way and had to go back, "WHAT!!!" We had just started back before we were stopped again and told we WERE headed in the right direction. The whole ordeal did not take much time, but still caused the HR to jump a few beats.
As the marathon and half marathon courses split, I was informed that I was in 4th, with 5th literally breathing down my neck. The legs felt good and the pace was surprisingly easy. Coach Kurt( and I have not been using a lot of the "cross-over" effect in my training. Basically, I am not doing much speed work on the run and doing all my intensity in the pool and on the bike. I would say that it is working pretty well.
I turned back into the wind and traded places with the other racer to hopefully catch a bit of a draft. I didn't wait long(might have been a mistake) and came back around and slowly picked up the pace. I then dropped a 5:33 mile 12 and thought it would be enough, and it might have been, if I had any type of a "kick" down the chute.
I finished in 1:15:00 and 5th overall, while also setting a new PR. Mission accomplished, although 1:14 would have been nice. Official results can be found here. Thank you to all those who support me. My family, the Partain's, Coach Kurt, Timex, The Trek Store, Berkeley Running Store and many more.
Stay tuned to another update soon!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Seeing Progress

Following 4 days of recovery, today it was time to head out and test on the bike and see what, if any gains I have made. The protocol that I have used for a while is a 35-45min wu followed by 5min at my estimated threshold(FTP). Then ride 10min easy, followed by the test. A 20min best effort TT. 95% of that number is pretty close to your threshold/LT/FTP watts.
The highest number I saw last year was 341 watts and back in November (my last test) I saw 337 watts. Over the past few weeks I have felt that my threshold had improved and today those feelings were validated.
I averaged 353 watts for test, with an average HR of 184 bpm. A 16w improvement over November and a 12w improvement over anything I had seen in the past.
This test estimates my LT at 335 watts, which is VERY motivating to me. Especially since I am back down under 160 lbs.
To ride 4:40-4:45 on most ironman courses and be able to run well, it is thought that a 155lb - 165lb athlete needs a threshold of 350 watts and an average race power of about 270 watts.
I only need 15 more watts and now those numbers don't seem all that far off.
Relating to the above test and improvement, most people assume that I must have trained and trained and trained to see those improvements. While I HAVE trained hard, I have also recovered hard. My coach, Kurt Perham, has done an excellent job in getting me to absorb my training thusfar.
So remember, while it is important to work hard, it is also important to recover hard. Training is what breaks us down and recovery is what builds us up...stronger.
Train Smart,