Monday, July 6, 2015

Training Log: PLYOGA & Triathlon Training

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a training update.  If you follow this blog a lot, you may know that I got hurt in April and then again in May, and that made it tough to train.  I’d been fighting knee problems off and on for the past year or more, and not surprisingly those problems got worse as I got more and more into running over the winter.  By the time April rolled around, I’d realized that I needed to stop running--and I changed my routine accordingly.  
At a certain level, this was no big deal.  I like triathlon, but it’s no secret that I’m a better swimmer and cyclist than runner, and more importantly, backing off on running gave me more time to dedicate to the weight room.  Against that, though, is the reality that enjoy running, and anyway, you can’t very well swim-bike-run without that last bit.  But then in May I hurt my shoulders and elbows doing a combination of ropes-course work and weight training.  That sucked!  So then I had to take time away from swimming, running, and weight training, even being on the bike made me hurt sometimes.

Good news is that I’m better now.  I’ve been back running for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been swimming for a little longer than that, and slowly but surely I’m working my way back into form.  It feels like a long slog, but what can you do?  Working out is better than not working out, and everybody gets hurt from time to time.
PLYOGA Fitness
PLYOGA Fitness
My wife Sally is the first certified PLYOGA Fitness instructor in the state of Connecticut.  She’s also the head coach of the Woodruff Family YMCA’s Race4Chase Triathlon Camp, and she’s been trying to get me to try PLYOGA for a month or more.  PLYOGA combines explosive plyometric exercises with yoga to create an interesting and intense interval-style workout that is in many ways similar to circuit training or the Army’s “gorilla” or “grass” drills--or really, any smoke session you ever experienced back when you were in Basic Training.  The movements are more scientifically designed, however, and with the addition of yoga poses for strength and balance at the end of each set of plyometric intervals, there is a focus on isometric movements that brings the burn while letting your heart rate reset between high intensity sessions.  
It’s fun, but it is not easy.
Sally’s been doing demos around Stratford for the past few weeks as she tries to spread the word and build a potential client-base for PLYOGA locally, and I went with her on Sunday both because I want to be supportive and because, honestly, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Sunday after our workout.  Sally's in front with the muscles and I'm behind her.
The first thing to say about PLYOGA is that my wife is an amazing instructor.  I won’t say that she kicked my butt, exactly, but she was certainly impressive, and she was out there calling cadence for the exercises the entire time.  It was amazing, really.  The PLYOGA itself was an intense aerobic workout with an emphasis on quads, butt, and core muscle work that I thought fit perfectly with the rest of my triathlon training.  I went swimming after that, and it was way tough, although coming off the PLYOGA I felt bad about cruising and forced myself to do some more uptempo interval work.  After that, I wandered the rest of the day in something like a zombie haze.
Anyway, I’d like to keep doing PLYOGA as a way to emphasize uptempo strength work, but I have to find the time for it, and I also need to figure out how to put the PLYOGA sessions into the points system that I use to track the rest of my training.  For the time being, I counted an hour of PLYOGA as 20 points, putting it on par with a 2000 yard swim or a 5-mile run.  That gave me just over 40 points for the day on Sunday, and considering how tired I was, that sounded about right.
Swim, Bike, Run
I swam twice this week, Wednesday and Sunday.  I was frustrated Wednesday because I didn’t feel particularly good in the water, but I got in and swam.  That counts for something.  I can’t remember exactly what I did, but honestly I don’t suppose it was particularly memorable.  
Sunday was a better day, but it took more effort, and coming off the PLYOGA, it was a serious challenge.  Still, I feel like I got something out of the workout.
5 x 100 @ 1:30 warm up
200 kick
10 x 100 tempo (85% or 1:15/100)
 -- 5 @ 1:30
 -- 5 @ 1:25
100 kick
200 pull
100 warm down
Oof.  Like I said, I was tired after that.
Swimming Total: 2 x swim workouts (2700, 2100); 48 pts
I rode my regular commute three times, and we got out on the bikes a bit with the kids on Saturday afternoon.  That was fun.
Me, Sally, and the girls at Meigs Point, Hammonassett State Park in Connecticut.
Cycling Total: 3 x bike commute, 1 x short ride; 36.6 pts
I ran Wednesday at lunch, and I was gonna run Sunday, too, but I wound up doing PLYOGA instead.  Honestly, PLYOGA was a better exercise.  They’re both high-impact, but PLYOGA is a little more varied, and you can modify PLYOGA to take the strain off your knees if they start to hurt during the workout.  With running, if your knees start to hurt three miles in, there’s not much you can do but grin and bear it.  My knees are okay for now, but I know it’s only a matter of time if I keep running.
Running Total: 1 x lunchtime run (3.4 miles); 13.6 pts
Triathlon Training Total: 118.2 pts
As I said, that’s counting the hour of PLYOGA as a 20-point session.  Your mileage may vary on that, but it feels about right for me.  The one thing I will note is that PLYOGA gains points for intensity where I generally neglect the effects of intensity in my point totals.  Granted, that’s not ideal, but the points system is designed as a rough measure of total effort, and it makes sense in an endurance training regime.  If I keep doing high-intensity sessions, I might also need to make some modifications to the system, but I’m honestly not sure what those would be.

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