Fun Times with Training Peaks and CTS

TrainingPeaks interviewed and filmed Matthew (AlphaDog Cycling)’s participation in Levi’s GranFondo as part of a feature promoting their coaching program, and the result is really inspiring. I also use Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) for running through TrainingPeaks, and have found it to be really helpful. Prior to signing up with CTS and TP, I was not being consistent and ended up developing a back chain and hip imbalance (glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors). These weaknesses caused me serious pain, including IT band sydrome and piriformis syndrome and made me scale back the mileage; it got so bad that I had pain after just sitting for work. Structured strength training and cross training has helped me start to resolve those issues, even if my coach and I argue about pool running, which is just annoying for so, so many reasons.

Metrics are at the heart of TP. I am a great believer in metrics and expert advice to drive training and learning (and decisions in general). In fact, in my real life job, I specialize in developing metrics to demonstrate quantitative change and program impact. Because of this background, and because I have been working out in one way or another since I was 15, I figured I could do it all myself. But no amount of downloading and cobbling together programs floating about the Internet helped me ramp up at the right speed and build a solid base for the higher performance I am targeting. While running metrics are evolving (for instance, see DC Rainmaker’s discussion of Stryd, a running power meter) and sometimes it isn’t exactly clear how we should use some of this information to drive change, I think if we build ways to measure individual performance the population implications will become clearer over time through a Big Data approach.

Both of these companies are really the best at what they do. I think expert counsel and good tools are especially important when you are an older athlete and recovery can be longer and the impact of injury is higher. Of course, sharing metrics with a benevolent coach means being honest about your (soooo slooow) pace and your particular hangups (like I really really hate pool running), but hey, that’s ok, it builds character. Right? Hello?

Opening Bell

“ ‘There’s a saying, “Every man is put on Earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown’. Perhaps this is as it should be.”

 

– Ending narration for Escape Clause, ‘The Twilight Zone’, aired November 6th, 1959.

In the Twilight Zone’s Escape Clause, hypochondriac Walter Bedeker’s motivation for selling his soul to the Devil in exchange for immortality was his fear of death. In the end he realizes that fear of death is the only thing that gave his miserable life any meaning.

While I wouldn’t say my life was miserable, and I did have some workplace meaning, I didn’t have a ‘thing.’ I did feel like something was missing. And then one day I had a wake up call in the form of a medical scare as is common in middle age. I realized that while I couldn’t live forever, I knew perfectly well I could improve my situation and put health coins in the bank for the future. However, I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start or what to do, and knew I was in lousy shape.  I had participated in a couple of sports previously but those were out of reach in my current situation, and in the case of weightlifting, I tended to get really bored, really fast.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

 

–Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

My decision to start running came the day I was at Carmichael Training System’s climbing camp as moral support for Matthew in 2015. I looked around the table during dinner on the final day of camp. These were men and women of my age or even older, who dragged themselves up mountains on a bike for fun and considered road rash merely an occupational hazard and therefore not worth a lot of thought. Being exhausted was their idea of a good time, and they were all enthusiastic in an essentially human way – drinking wine, celebrating a hard week’s worth of work, talking about cycling trips and old races, gossiping about the pros.

I had no such thing in my life. At that moment I vowed to change that.

I believe strongly that not is only exercise preventive medicine, but it also helps facilitate independence in old age, can slow down the progression of chronic disease symptoms like in Parkinson’s disease (a disease that has hit my family particularly hard), and increase feelings of well-being. I used to be a health psychologist and have seen first hand how meaningful gains in independence and an increased sense of control are in a person’s perceived quality of life.  All too often we see exercise as punishment, or pointless, or unsustainable, and just generally as a way to ward off death.  Which really is going to happen anyway so what’s the point when…hey, pizza?

The gains of working towards a fitness goal may not be easily quantifiable but on an individual basis, they can be life-changing.  I’ve seen it in myself, and in others.

Besides the health psychology, exercise science, and general stuff related to fitness, this blog is about my own journey about learning to run at 44. I never ran in high school or college. I was that high school girl who stood so far out in the outfield in gym sometimes I missed the bell to come back inside. Anyone who liked running – well, there was something wrong with them.

Now there is something wrong with me too. And I am glad because I now have a ‘thing.’

I hope to share random thoughts and other cool things with you.  So nice to meet you and hopefully you hang around, ok?