Category Archives: equipment

Running head lamps – Petzl Tikka RXP and Tikka plus, Led Lenser SEO5

Along with winter’s weather comes also the shortening of days, which poses some difficulties for us runners, who hate to run indoors. Winter weather means bad road and trail conditions that in conjunction with still present leaves from fall and dark conditions pose non-negligible risks for ankle sprains.

Up until this winter I managed these hazards by running on shoveled pavements. But due to various reasons some changes were made for this season’s winter running. On most weeks I got running company in the form of my brother, especially for early morning long(er) runs. Throughout the winter we managed to run 2 – 3 times per week in the early morning, often starting between 4 and 5, so that we finished our 2+ hour runs well before breakfast time. And this early morning runs (or better, night runs) often in city suburbs on trails without lighting required investment into a decent running head lamp.

Petzl Tikka RXP (left), Led Lenser SEO5 (right), old Petzl Tikka plus (top)

Petzl Tikka RXP (left), Led Lenser SEO5 (right), old Petzl Tikka plus (top)

I had and older version of Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp, which was unsuitable to run with on everything but straight asphalt. And in the process of choosing a new headlamp, I also tested my girlfriends Led Lenser SEO 5 headlamp, with which I could run on nicer and wider trails, but pure off-road was still a no-go with it. So my brother and I opted for Petzl Tikka RXP, a powerful headlamp with rechargeable battery, as we didn’t want to go through millions of batteries.

The higher price of Tikka RXP was justified on the first test run! Although being slightly heavier with its 113 grams than Tikka plus (78 grams) and Led Lenser (106 grams), it sits really well on the forehead, far better that the other two. The headband fastens around the back of the head with two straps, so the headlight stays firm even when jumping or quickly changing directions. But the beast feature is of course the light itself with its reactive lighting technology. It has two LED lights that provide one wide and one focused beam pattern thus eliminating the “tunnel light effect” that Led Lenser has with its sole LED. This way the path itself is illuminated to the greatest degree, while the surrounding area is still lighted enough to provide some orientation guidance.

Before mentioned “reactive lighting technology” works well in practice too, as the sensor analyzes the ambient light and adjusts the beam pattern and brightness instantly and automatically to user requirements, thus optimizing burn time and reducing the need for manual operation. Or in short, the headlamp dims as you run on lighted street and then instantaneously lights back up when turning to non-lit path, effectively prolonging the battery life. This feature can also be turned off, but I haven’t experienced situation that would require me to do so, this technology really works well.

old Petzl Tikka plus, Led Lenser SEO5, Petzl Tikka RXP(from left to right)

old Petzl Tikka plus, Led Lenser SEO5, Petzl Tikka RXP(from left to right)

Otherwise, the maximum brightness is rated as 215 lumens for Tikka RXP, 180 lumens for Led Lenser and 80 lumens for Tikka plus. Depending on brightness, the rechargeable battery on Tikka RXP is rated from approx. 3 hours on maximum setting to 12 hours on maximum autonomy. In practice I needed to recharge it via USB port once every two weeks, after estimated 10 hours of running. It also has a battery charge indicator so that the possibility of running out of light in the middle of the workout is greatly reduced.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the value of this lamp and the enjoyment it brought to my runs in the dark. Being more on the “hard to convince” and “late adopter” camps I needed some persuasion for this investment. And now seeing how it expanded my running options and broadened the trail choice I am totally booked on running in the dark as well. It has become one of my favorite running accessories.

Just a minor disclosure at the end, I don’t see very well in the dark. Actually, my eyesight in the dark is lousy at best, so please keep that in mind when reading through this test.

Petzl Tikka RXP, Led Lenser SEO5, old Petzl Tikka plus (from left to right)

Petzl Tikka RXP, Led Lenser SEO5, old Petzl Tikka plus (from left to right)

the_post_thumbnail

DIY Running Shoe Rack

Being a triathlete (or runner) means having a lot of running shoes. And that count goes up to gazillion pairs when living with a runner, which poses quite big storage problem.  Shoe racks available at stores usually have some kind of unfitting property (i.e. size, design, price, color…) that makes them unsuitable, so sometimes the best thing is to just make it yourself. Which is exactly what I set out to do!

After carefully choosing my father who taught me how to work with wood and after googling for some ideas, I decided for a design of my own. I could call it unique, but I am sure somebody already done it before. The base of the shoe rack would be wide back board, on which the two narrower plates would be attached, which would hold the aluminum sticks for shoe placement.

Whole building process with basic measurements is presented in the following pictures. And as far as the final result goes, we are both happy with it! Our only regret is the placement of the doors, which didn’t enable a wider shoe rack for even more running shoes!

Building material for the rack – large back board, two narrower side boards, 7 minor boards and 7 aluminum sticks.

Building material for the rack – large back board, two narrower side boards, 7 minor boards and 7 aluminum sticks.

Firstly all holes must be drilled and screws prepared.

Firstly all holes must be drilled and screws prepared.

The first side board is then screwed on.

The first side board is then screwed on.

Some help is needed for the attachment of the second plate (i.e. everybody must earn the place for their shoes on the rack!)

Some help is needed for the attachment of the second plate (i.e. everybody must earn the place for their shoes on the rack!)

Before attaching the second side board, the sticks are placed into corresponding holes.

Before attaching the second side board, the sticks are placed into corresponding holes.

Earning my storage space.

Earning my storage space.

The final step is to mount it to the wall with three wall screws. They can be medium sized, as they only prevent the rack against tipping over. The weight of the rack lies on the edges of ceramic tiles.

The final step is to mount it to the wall with three wall screws. They can be medium sized, as they only prevent the rack against tipping over. The weight of the rack lies on the edges of ceramic tiles.

Final measurements of the running shoe rack.

Final measurements of the running shoe rack.

Full running shoe rack in action.

Full running shoe rack in action.

the_post_thumbnail

DIY Snow Gaiters

Final result - home made Snow gaiters

As the season is turning into winter and we’re expecting at least some snow also in Ljubljana, I decided for another Do-It-Yourself project. Recently I’ve been finding trail running more and more appealing and since the snow usually covers also all nearby off-road trails (i.e. Rožnik, Topol, Šmarna gora, Rašica..) I opted to made my own trail-running gaiters to keep the snow from entering on top of my shoes. I asked google some questions, it provided me with plenty pictures and while adding some of my own ideas, this is what came out. It basically took me about an hour of sewing per 1 piece, so in about 2 hours I had my own gaiters. Of course I won’t win any beauty contests, but as Emil Zatopek said “It is not gymnastics or ice skating you know”.

Materials needed:

  • 2 pieces of approx. 25 x 45 cm of suitable fabric, best if at least water-repellent. I managed to get this polyester fabric with perfect disguise pattern.
  • 2 pieces of approx. 20 x 4 cm elastic.
  • Sewing kit and a couple of safety pins.
  • Elastic string for attachment under foot.
  • 4 shoe eyelets and eyelet pliers.

Time needed:

  • approx. 2 hours
45 x 25 cm polyester fabric

45 x 25 cm polyester fabric

Sewing kit and 20 x 4 cm elastic

Sewing kit and 20 x 4 cm elastic

Start by sewing the elastic on top section of fabric, creating a tube that will fit elastic inside

Start by sewing the elastic on top section of fabric, creating a tube that will fit elastic inside

Attach a string to non-sewed end of elastic so that you can later pull elastic to the end of tube

Attach a string to non-sewed end of elastic so that you can later pull elastic to the end of tube

Sew the tube until the end

Sew the tube until the end

Pull the elastic to the end of tube and attach it temporarily with safety pin

Pull the elastic to the end of tube and attach it temporarily with safety pin

Sew both ends together and continue to the bottom of gaiter

Sew both ends together and continue to the bottom of gaiter

Repeat for the second gaiter

Repeat for the second gaiter

Create small holes for eyelets. Also prepare small patches of material for double fabric around eyelets

Create small holes for eyelets. Also prepare small patches of material for double fabric around eyelets

Small patches go to the inside of the gaiter eyelets

Small patches go to the inside of the gaiter eyelets

Eyelets from the outside

Eyelets from the outside

Attach elastic strings to hold gaiters over the top of shoes

Attach elastic strings to hold gaiters over the top of shoes

Final result - home made Snow gaiters

Final result – home made Snow gaiters

 

the_post_thumbnail

My running shoes (so far) – December 2014 update

I’ve used a lot of running shoes over the years, 43 to be exact. I have around 6 – 7 pairs in daily rotation that I cycle through depending on workout type. Currently they are:

  • Trainers for longer runs: Mizuno Rider 17, Saucony Kinvara 4
  • Tempo or quicker runs: Mizuno Hitogami
  • Speedwork: Saucony Gridtype A5
  • Barefoot: Vivobarefoot evo (on roads), Vivobarefoot Trail Freak (for trails)
  • Offroad and snow: Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock (wet conditions), Brooks Pure Grit 2 (dry conditions)

As you can see, nowadays I run mainly in low drop and flexible shoes, as I believe that extra heel cushioning and pronation control affect the stride style and hence running economy in negative way. As a result, my foot strike has become more and more fore footed over the years and I believe that this was mainly the consequence of using lighter shoes with lower heel-to-toe difference. The graph bellow presents the average weight of shoes that I ran with over the years. My progression to lighter shoes was slow, where I managed to drop the weight of shoes for about 100 grams (-30%) over the span of 5 years. As studies have shown, a 100 g reduction in running shoe weight presents approx. 1% improvement in running economy (~ 2 minutes at 3h marathon).

B00600 Average weight of shoesOtherwise, I started running in more conventional shoes in 2004. There were no “barefoot “or “minimalist” running shoes back then, so I was of course heavily influenced by marketing and “pronation control” dogma. So my early shoes were mainly pronation controlled Asics shoes, from 1000 to 2000 series and then finally to Kayano. Being overly cushioned shoes with pronation control, really heavy with large heel to toe height difference, I then started using 2 running shoes simultaneously. The second pair was usually a lighter trainer (i.e. Nike Elite) for races and speed work. In 2009 I made my first foray into minimalist running shoes with Nike Free shoes. I barely managed to run 5 km in them once per week, as I got sore calf muscles after every run in them. The next stepping stone in my transition to more minimalist running shoes were Saucony Mirage with their 4mm heel to toe drop. I really needed a couple of months to get used to running in them, but then I was hooked. Especially when I later progressed to Kinvara (4 mm drop) and now to Virrata (0 mm drop).

Nowadays I ran mainly in low drop shoes with occasional runs with barefoot and traditional drop shoes in-between. I really like rotating through various shoes as they alter my gait and foot-placement pattern. Instead of having my foot hit the ground the same way on every stride on every run, I’m mixing things up enough to build the micromuscles in my feet, ankles, lower legs and even hips just a twinge more. And hopefully that’s something that contributes to becoming a stronger and more agile runner in the long run.

I am also quite nostalgic, as I took pictures of all my running shoes so far. Below is the collection of every running shoe I ever ran in. Brings back a lot of memories, when I look through the pictures. Hopefully you will recognize a model you ran in too!

 B00643 Vivobarefoot Trail Freak waterproof  #43 Vivobarefoot Trail Freak waterproof (2014) I bought them mainly for hiking, but they are excellent for trail running as well. The outsole grips fantastically in dry and wet conditions, but the upper is quite bulky due to waterproof membrane.  Nonetheless, excellent shoes for barefoot trail adventures, where your legs move in a manner they were designed to!
 Weight: 345 g
 (still in rotation)
 B00642 Mizuno Rider 17  #42 Mizuno Rider 17 (2014) Long distance go-to shoes with 13 mm drop and very generous padding in a reasonably light package. I like them a lot despite a more traditional heel to toe drop. I found that I like rotating through different drop shoes, especially with Kinvara. Although similarly cushioned, I land just a bit differently in both shoes and hence stress the muscles and joints in varying manners.
 Weight: 292 g
 (still in rotation) 449 km
 B00641 Brooks Pure Grit 2  #41 Brooks Pure Grit 2 (2014) Excellent long distance trail shoes, sufficient cushioning with low drop and roomy forefoot. Outsole more suited for dry conditions but can easily handle even prolonged stretches of asphalt. I have also grown to like “burrito” style tongue, though the asymmetric lacing hasn’t worked that well for my foot shape.
Weight: 318 g 

Notable races: Ljubljana-Triglav-Ljubljana (178 km in two days)

 (still in rotation) 609 km
 B00640 Mizuno Hitogami  #40 Mizuno Hitogami (2014) My current go to shoes for faster workouts or tempo runs. Excellent for Ironman marathons as they offer more cushioning that Grid Type A5, where the speed of the bike just isn’t the same as in the standalone marathons.
Weight: 240 g 

Notable races: IM Nice (run split 3:01:43)

 (still in rotation) 206 km
 Mizuno Sayona #39 Mizuno Sayonara (2014)
Weight: 270 g
603 km
 B00638 Saucony Kinvara 4 Kona #38 Saucony Kinvara 4 Kona (2013)
Weight: 250 g
(still in rotation) 592 km
 B00637 Saucony Virrata #37 Saucony Virrata (2013)  0 mm drop shoes, excellent for road speed work.
Weight: 220 g
518 km
 B00636 Asics Lyte33 v2 #36 Asics Gel Lyte33 2 (2013)  Asics approximation to Kinvara, bot not nearly there.
Weight: 264 g
706 km
 B00635 Saucony Grid Type A5 #35 Saucony Grid Type A5 (2013)  Excellent racing flats, for me even better than Asics Hyperspeed.
Weight: 183 g
Notable races: IM Hawaii 2013 (run split 2:57:04)
(still in rotation) 550 km
 B00634 Saucony Kinvara 2 #34 Saucony Kinvara 2  (2012)
Weight: 246 g
554 km
 B00633 Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock II #33 Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock (2012)  Trail running shoes for winter running.
Weight: 275 g
(still in rotation) 363 km
 B00632 Saucony Kinvara 2 #32 Saucony Kinvara 2  (2012)  Legendary shoes, really love them!
Weight: 246 g
Notable races: IM Lanzarote 2013 (run split 2:56:15)
615 km
 B00630 Vivobarefoot evo #30 Vivobarefoot evo (2012)  For barefoot style running, only 3 mm protection sole.
Weight: 226 g
(still in rotation) 197 km
 B00629 Mizuno Precision 12 #29 Mizuno Precision 12 (2012)
Weight: 308 g
945 km
 B00628 Saucony Mirage #28 Saucony Mirage (2012)  My first low-drop running shoes, excellent!
Weight: 306 g
797 km
 B00627 Saucony Fastwitch 5 #27 Saucony Fastwitch 5 (2011)
Weight: 269 g
Notable races: IM Florida 2011 (run split: 3:03:01)
476 km
 B00626 Asics DS Trainer 15 #26 Asics DS Trainer 15 (2011)
Weight: 335 g
671 km
 B00625 Brooks Racer ST4 #25 Brooks Racer ST4  (2011)
Weight: 271 g
656 km
 B00624 Asics 2150 #24 Asics 2150  (2011)
Weight: 366 g
700 km
 B00623 Nike LunarGlide 2+ #23 Nike LunarGlide2 + (2010)
Weight: 340 g
814 km
 B00622 Asics 2150 #22 Asics 2150 (2010)
Weight: 368 g
750 km
 B00621 Asics 2140 #21 Asics 2140 (2010)
Weight: 360 g
720 km
 B00620 Asics Hyperspeed 3 #20 Asics Hyperspeed 3 (2010)  Legendary racing flats!
Weight: 206 g
Notable races: New York marathon 2010 (2:40:13)
Rotterdam marathon 2011(2:37:45)
IM Austria 2012 (run split 3:12:38)
IM Hawaii 2012 (run split: 3:02:50)
(still in rotation) 530 km
 B00619 Brooks Racer ST4 #19 Brooks Racer ST4  (2010)
Weight: 285 g
Notable races: IM Frankfurt 2011 (run split: 3:05:04)
730 km
 B00618 Salomon XT Wings GTX #18 Salomon XT Wings GTX (2009)  Gore Tex trail running shoes for winter running, now used only for hiking due to high weight.
Weight: 434 g
308 km
 B00617 Nike Free 5.0 V4 #17 Nike Free 5.0 V4 (2009)  My first foray into minimalist running shoes.
Weight: 255 g
(still in rotation) 513 km
 B00616 Asics Kayano 15 #16 Asics Kayano 15 (2009)
Weight: 396,5 g
904 km
 B00615 Nike Zoom Elite 4 #15 Nike Zoom Elite+ 4 (2009)
Weight: 326 g
Notable races: Boston marathon 2009 (2:50:46)
1009 km
 B00614 Asics GT2130 #14 Asics GT2130 (2009)
Weight: 360 g
1052 km
 B00613 Asics Kayano 14 #13 Asics Kayano 14  (2009)
Weight: 397 g
1010 km
 B00612 Asics Kayano 13 #12 Asics Kayano 13  (2008)
Weight: 397 g
803 km
 B00611 Nike Zoom Elite 4 #11 Nike Zoom Elite+ 4  (2008)
Weight: 326 g
631 km
 B00610 Asics Kayano 14 #10 Asics Kayano 14 (2008)
Weight: approx 397 g
934 km
 B00609 Asics Racer #9 Asics Racer VII (2008)  My first racing flats!
Weight: 233 g
Notable races: Ljubljana marathon 2008 (2:55:32)
Berlin marathon 2009 (2:38:34)
(still in rotation) 833  km
 B00608 Asics Kayano 13 #8 Asics Kayano 13 (2008)
Weight: approx 397 g
1078 km
 B00607 Adidas Supernova Control 10 GTX #7 Adidas Supernova Control 10 GTX (2007)Gore Tex trail running shoes for winter running.
Weight: 400 g
681 km
 B00606 Nike Zoom Elite 3 #6 Nike Zoom Elite 3 (2007)  My first »faster« running shoes.
Weight: approx 326 g
Notable races: first marathon under 3 hr – Ljubljana marathon 2007 (2:59:08)
870 km
 B00605 Asics GT2120 #5 Asics GT2120 (2007)
Weight: approx 360 g
936 km
 B00604 Asics GT2110 #4 Asics GT2110 (2007)
Weight: approx 360 g
919 km
 B00603 Asics GT1110 #3 Asics GT1110 (2006)
937 km
 B00601 Nike Perseus 02 Nike Pegasus #2 Nike Pegasus (2005) and #1 Nike Perseus (2004)
986 km (Pegasus), 1056 km (Perseus)
Notable races: first marathon – Ljubljana marathon 2004 (3:46:36)
the_post_thumbnail

Triathlon training books

Many of us amateur athletes are self-coached, for various reasons. It may be due to lower ambitions, because of financial constraints, lack of good coaches or something similar. I, for instance, enjoy coaching myself because I like experimenting with new training principles and blending them with established facts, observing effects and analyzing results. I firmly believe that training is pretty much art, with some science thrown in-between. There is so much to learn, how your body reacts to certain stimulus, what are its strengths and weaknesses, how your body is trying to tell you certain things. And by being your own coach, there is no one else to blame for your results. Or more importantly, no one takes credit for your successes  😉

With or without coach, some basic universal principles still apply. Following are the books which I use for coaching myself:

 

The Triathlete's Training BibleThe Triathlete’s Training Bible

Well, the title pretty much sums it up. It’s the training bible for triathletes, now in the 3rd edition. Very well written, with a lot of emphasis put on training basics, periodization, progress tracking and racing strategies. It covers all distances, from sprint to Ironman, has sections specific for women, younger and older athletes. So if I would recommend one triathlon book, this would certainly be it!

 

 

 

 

Your Best TriathlonYour Best Triathlon

Building on the success of the Triathlete’s training bible, in Your Best Triathlon the emphasis is put on training plans for sprint, olympic, half-ironman and ironman distance triathlons. For any given distance and training period, the training plans for all three disciplines are provided. Not an essential reading, but recommended for ones, who struggle to organize their training weeks.

 

 

 

 

Triathlon ScienceTriathlon Science

This book’s main purpose would best be described as a go to reference book. It deals with pretty much every topic relevant to triathlon training and provides scientific backgrounds. Each section is written by a respectable science writer on that field, so the books chapters are not closely “bound” together, and can be read as sections easily. Only for the most enthusiastic ones, who wish to understand the scientific foundations of triathlon.

 

 

 

 

Strength Training for TriathletesStrength Training for Triathletes

This nicely illustrated guide shows a plenty strength training exercises for swimming, biking and running. The exercises are organized by sport and muscle group, allowing you to quickly find the best exercise for their unique training needs. What I also found very useful in this book is the periodization principles of strength training that are also very well presented. Recommended for ambitious athletes.

 

 

 

 

Training and Racing with a Power MeterTraining and Racing with a Power Meter

This is a bible for everyone, who owns cycling power meter. The scientific rationale for using power meter is nicely presented along with training protocols and workouts. Also, great emphasis is put on testing your progress and searching your weaknesses. In the new version is also a whole section devoted to triathletes and their training and racing specifics. A worthwhile investment to get the most out of your power meter.

 

 

 

 

The Cyclist's Training BibleThe Cyclist’s Training Bible

Written in the same manner as Triathlete Training Bible, this book covers everything regarding cycling, from training, periodization to racing. A nice read even for us triathletes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runner's BodyRunner’s World The Runner’s Body: How the Latest Exercise Science Can Help You Run Stronger, Longer, and Faster

The Runner’s Body offers in a friendly, accessible tone, the newest, most surprising, and most helpful scientific discoveries about every aspect of the sport—from how best to nourish the runner’s body to safe and legal ways to increase oxygen delivery to the muscles. Full of surprising facts, practical sidebars, and graphical elements, The Runner’s Body is a nice resource for anyone who wants to become a better—and healthier—runner.

 

 

 

 

Lore of RunningLore of Running, 4th Edition

Often deemed as the Bible for runners, this 900+ page reference book provides incomparable detail on physiology, training, racing, injuries, world-class athletes, and races. The only section that is not relevant is the section on nutrition. The author, Tim Noakes, repeatedly instructed all owners of the book to rip those pages out, as he now endorses a more Low Carb approach to endurance training. Since writing this book in 2002 he reversed his opinion to “get as much carbohydrates as possible” in your diet to “as little as possible”.

 

 

 

 

Which Comes First, Cardio or WeightsWhich Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise

Alex Hutchinson, a physicist, award-winning journalist, and contributing editor of Popular Mechanics magazine, reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise. A book that ranges from cardio and weights to competition and weight loss, here are fascinating facts and practical tips for fitness buffs, competitive athletes, and popular science fans alike. Nothing essential, but a nice collection of various scientific topics related to exercise.

 

 

 

 

The Athlete's Guide to RecoveryThe Athlete’s Guide to Recovery: Rest, Relax, and Restore for Peak Performance

The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery is a comprehensive, practical exploration of the art and science of athletic rest. Sage Rountree details daily recovery techniques, demystifying common aids like ice baths, compression apparel, and supplements. She explains in detail how to employ restorative practices such as massage, meditation, and yoga. All in all a nice overview, but nothing vital that hasn’t been covered in other books such as Triathlon Training Bible.

 

 

 

 

Swim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and TriathletesSwim Speed Secrets for Swimmers and Triathletes: Master the Freestyle Technique Used by the World’s Fastest Swimmers (Swim Speed Series)

4-time Olympian, gold medalist, and triathlon world champion Sheila Taormina reveals the swim technique used by the world’s fastest swimmers. Much of her emphasis is put on the high-elbow underwater pull, with many drills and tips for efficient swim stroke. Not an essential reading.

the_post_thumbnail

How I track my training

On 5th February 2000 I ran 3,7 km in the time of 15:45. This was my first entry into training log, which was in paper back then. 3.757 workouts later (until 2014) I get very nostalgic when holding those couple of papers that were my training log at that time. Now in the electronic age, I cannot hold my training log anymore as it is stored in a cloud. Being data geek, this is how I track my workouts.

My training log is of course in a form of Excel spreadsheet. The data entry sheet for specific year is arranged in rows, so that each row represents a date in a year. For each day I record the following things:

  • run training,
  • swim training,
  • bike training,
  • strength training,
  • In which part of the day workouts were performed (i.e. morning, AM, PM, evening),
  • weight,
  • and hours of sleep.

B00701 Daily data entry

For running sessions I firstly assign a label for the workout type, so that I can easily determine the intervals sessions, tempo sessions and long runs. Before the session numbers comes a brief description of the workout, while the numbers present duration, length, vertical gain, average and max HR and calories burned (as calculated by Polar watch).

B0070101 Run

Then I have 3 categories that present my Rating of perceived exertion, Fatigue and Willingness to train for that session. I assign a 0-9 value to each based on the following index:

Rating of perceived exertion Fatigue Willingness to train
1 – Very light
2
3 – Fairly light
4 – Moderate
5 – Somewhat hard
6 – Hard
7 – Very hard
8
9 – Maximum
1 – Feeling new
2
3 – Rested
4
5 – Average
6
7 – Tired
8
9 –Destroyed
1 – Very High
2
3 – High
4
5 – Average
6
7 – Low
8
9 – Zero

This allows me to assess my training / overtraining status. Furthermore, I also track in which running shoes I ran. The workout tempo and TSS (my Training Stress Score, more on that in a later post) are calculated automatically, and the yearly summary sits on the top of workout list.

I track swim training very unclearly, as I still haven’t found a suitable way to easily browse through main sets in a sea of drills. So I describe each workout in a list manner, then I note training duration and the total swim distance. I also note RPE, Fatigue and Willingness to train for that session and weather the swim was done in wetsuit.

B0070102 Swim

As with running, I first assign a label for workout type when logging cycling session. Then duration, distance, vertical climb, cadence, average power, HR and calories come, along with RPE, Fatigue and Willingness to train. At the end comes the notion of which bike, wheel set, tire and cycling shoes were used.

B0070103 Bike

I also track the type and reps / sets of strength exercises and their total duration.

B0070104 Strenght

On this sheet I also have some basic statistics of workouts I performed in the last week, month or in last specified days (i.e. number of workout, duration of workouts…). Beside this summary table is one very annoying cell, that shows me how many hours I am behind (or above) the planned weekly hours, which I have set at 21. If the cell is white, than I am on plan (at least based on duration), and if it is red, then I have some training to do.

B0070105 summary

This sheet in a workbook represents the data entry point, while I have some computed statistics on other sheets. They are weekly, monthly and yearly view sheets, which show weekly, monthly and yearly summaries.

B00702 Weekly view

B00703 Monthly view

B00704 Yearly view

I also have two other sheets, which show my cumulative yearly data for run / bike / swim volumes and run / bike / swim volumes in chosen time periods (i.e. in 30 days).

B00706 Cummulative view

B00705 Period view

Other various sheets include a list of all my races (122 up to this day), list and description of all my injuries, list of all my triathlon expenses, list of all my run track sessions and bike hill workouts and a list for yearly planning of training and races.

B00707 Races summary

B00708 Equipment summary

I find Excel really excellent program for my tracking purposes as it enables me any statistical analysis I choose. Over the last 10 year that I am using Excel, I updated this file gradually, adding various statistics and features along with some fancy formatting touches. This is the main reason for not using online programs like Garmin Connect or Strava as they limit me either in their statistics or at their presentation of the data.

I made a simplified version of my Excel spreadsheet for tracking triathlon training. Feel free to download and use it, if you find it useful!

Download “Training log” Training-log.xlsx – Downloaded 648 times – 257 KB

the_post_thumbnail

Tracking body composition changes

Human body is composed of several materials, some of which are muscle, fat, bone, blood, urine… So measuring or tracking changes in body composition with weight scale is pretty much like observing total points scored in basketball games – 153 baskets scored doesn’t tell you who won and by how much! And when you factor also gut contents, gut microbioma (over 1kg in adults!), glycogen content (with all bound water), urine volume, hydration status… into body weight, the picture becomes quite messy.

Body fat caliper

Body fat caliper

So while I do track my body weight on daily basis (I am data geek, who thinks that even bad data is better than no data at all!), I now mostly rely on body fat measurements with skin caliper to track my body composition changes. The skinfold estimation method is based on measuring the skinfolds at several standardized body points to determine the subcutaneous fat layer. These measurements can then be converted into estimated body fat percentage by various equations. Although this method may not give you an accurate reading of real body fat percentage, it is very useful for tracking composition changes over a period of time. I mainly compare the skinfolds values (individual or the sum of values) over time and do not pay much regards to the estimated body fat percentage. All in all, the main goal is to reduce the subcutaneous body fat, so why not measure it directly!

The calipers are very cheap; you can even get electronic calipers for very reasonable prices! As previously described, I use mechanical caliper on 10 body locations (Chest, Abdominal, Thigh, Bicep, Tricep, Subscapular, Suprailiac, Lower Back, Calf and Midaxillary).

Skinfold measuring sites

Skinfold measuring sites

I made Excel spreadsheet for tracking my skinfolds, with body fat estimates from various equations from literature. The formulas used are from Parillo (9 sites), Jackson Pollock (7 sites), Jackson Pollock (4 sites), Ball (7 sites for general population), Faulkner (4 sites for athletes) and Wilmore (7 sites for athletes). But as stated earlier, I mainly check the skinfolds values.

On the next graph are represented my values from July 2013, when I started using caliper. I had average skinfold of 5 mm, and at just above 71 kg body weight the formulas estimated my body fat percentage to be in the range of just over 7%. Going into my A race of the year, Hawaii in October, I had a racing weight between 71 and 72 kg with 3,4 mm average skinfold (around 5,5% body fat). In my offseason (November, December) I gained back some weight to just over 75 kg and my average skinfold increased to just over 5mm. This indicates that most of my weight gain was due to muscle mass gain, in the range of 2 – 3 kg. Naturally, I also gained approx. 1 kg of body fat, mostly for insulation purposes 🙂 The increase in weight is intentional, as I am emphasizing strength work in this training period by performing a lot of leg and upper body strength work along with core strength exercises. The underlying reason is to build a solid foundation for demanding training sessions that will come later in the season.

My skinfold data with average body weight (red line) and average skinfold (green line)

My skinfold data with average body weight (red line) and average skinfold (green line)

So to summarize, I think the caliper is superior tool in comparison to weight scales for tracking body composition changes and far more useful in daily practice. That is if you are quite ambitious athlete, and need to lose only couple kg of body fat for that optimal race performance. When I will return to “normal” life without racing ambitions, I will gladly ditch the use of both weight scale and caliper and replace them with another proficient measuring device: my eyes!

So if you are an ambitious athlete, you can download my Excel spreadsheet for tracking body composition changes here:

Download “Body composition tracking spreadsheet” Body-Composition-Tracking.xlsx – Downloaded 1438 times – 69 KB

 

And  here are the preprinted notes for easier measurements:

Download “Skinfold measurement” Skinfold-measurement.doc – Downloaded 724 times – 509 KB

the_post_thumbnail

My running shoes (so far)

I’ve used a lot of running shoes over the years, 39 to be exact. I have around 5 – 6 pairs in daily rotation that I cycle through depending on workout type. Currently they are:

  • Trainers for longer runs: Saucony Kinvara 4, Mizuno Sayonara
  • Tempo or quicker runs: Saucony Virrata
  • Speedwork: Saucony Gridtype A5
  • Barefoot: Vivobarefoot evo
  • Offroad and snow: Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock

As you can see, nowadays I run mainly in low drop and flexible shoes, as I believe that extra heel cushioning and pronation control affect the stride style and hence running economy in negative way. As a result, my foot strike has become more and more fore footed over the years and I believe that this was mainly the consequence of using lighter shoes with lower heel-to-toe difference. The graph bellow presents the average weight of shoes that I ran with over the years. My progression to lighter shoes was slow, where I managed to drop the weight of shoes for about 100 grams (-30%) over the span of 5 years. As studies have shown, a 100 g reduction in running shoe weight presents approx. 1% improvement in running economy (~ 2 minutes at 3h marathon).

B00600 Average weight of shoesOtherwise, I started running in more conventional shoes in 2004. There were no “barefoot “or “minimalist” running shoes back then, so I was of course heavily influenced by marketing and “pronation control” dogma. So my early shoes were mainly pronation controlled Asics shoes, from 1000 to 2000 series and then finally to Kayano. Being overly cushioned shoes with pronation control, really heavy with large heel to toe height difference, I then started using 2 running shoes simultaneously. The second pair was usually a lighter trainer (i.e. Nike Elite) for races and speed work. In 2009 I made my first foray into minimalist running shoes with Nike Free shoes. I barely managed to run 5 km in them once per week, as I got sore calf muscles after every run in them. The next stepping stone in my transition to more minimalist running shoes were Saucony Mirage with their 4mm heel to toe drop. I really needed a couple of months to get used to running in them, but then I was hooked. Especially when I later progressed to Kinvara (4 mm drop) and now to Virrata (0 mm drop).

I am also quite nostalgic, as I took pictures of all my running shoes so far. Below is the collection of every running shoe I ever ran in. Brings back a lot of memories, when I look through the pictures. Hopefully you will recognize a model you ran in too!

 Mizuno Sayona #39 Mizuno Sayonara (2014)
Weight: 270 g
 (still in rotation) 85 km
 B00638 Saucony Kinvara 4 Kona #38 Saucony Kinvara 4 Kona (2013)
Weight: 250 g
(still in rotation) 163 km
 B00637 Saucony Virrata #37 Saucony Virrata (2013)  0 mm drop shoes, excellent for road speed work.
Weight: 220 g
(still in rotation) 488 km
 B00636 Asics Lyte33 v2 #36 Asics Gel Lyte33 2 (2013)  Asics approximation to Kinvara, bot not nearly there.
Weight: 264 g
(still in rotation) 706 km
 B00635 Saucony Grid Type A5 #35 Saucony Grid Type A5 (2013)  Excellent racing flats, for me even better than Asics Hyperspeed.
Weight: 183 g
Notable races: IM Hawaii 2013 (run split 2:57:04)
(still in rotation) 349 km
 B00634 Saucony Kinvara 2 #34 Saucony Kinvara 2  (2012)
Weight: 246 g
554 km
 B00633 Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock II #33 Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock (2012)  Trail running shoes for winter running.
Weight: 275 g
(still in rotation) 273 km
 B00632 Saucony Kinvara 2 #32 Saucony Kinvara 2  (2012)  Legendary shoes, really love them!
Weight: 246 g
Notable races: IM Lanzarote 2013 (run split 2:56:15)
615 km
 B00630 Vivobarefoot evo #30 Vivobarefoot evo (2012)  For barefoot style running, only 3 mm protection sole.
Weight: 226 g
(still in rotation) 128 km
 B00629 Mizuno Precision 12 #29 Mizuno Precision 12 (2012)
Weight: 308 g
945 km
 B00628 Saucony Mirage #28 Saucony Mirage (2012)  My first low-drop running shoes, excellent!
Weight: 306 g
797 km
 B00627 Saucony Fastwitch 5 #27 Saucony Fastwitch 5 (2011)
Weight: 269 g
Notable races: IM Florida 2011 (run split: 3:03:01)
476 km
 B00626 Asics DS Trainer 15 #26 Asics DS Trainer 15 (2011)
Weight: 335 g
671 km
 B00625 Brooks Racer ST4 #25 Brooks Racer ST4  (2011)
Weight: 271 g
656 km
 B00624 Asics 2150 #24 Asics 2150  (2011)
Weight: 366 g
700 km
 B00623 Nike LunarGlide 2+ #23 Nike LunarGlide2 + (2010)
Weight: 340 g
814 km
 B00622 Asics 2150 #22 Asics 2150 (2010)
Weight: 368 g
750 km
 B00621 Asics 2140 #21 Asics 2140 (2010)
Weight: 360 g
720 km
 B00620 Asics Hyperspeed 3 #20 Asics Hyperspeed 3 (2010)  Legendary racing flats!
Weight: 206 g
Notable races: New York marathon 2010 (2:40:13)
Rotterdam marathon 2011(2:37:45)
IM Austria 2012 (run split 3:12:38)
IM Hawaii 2012 (run split: 3:02:50)
(still in rotation) 530 km
 B00619 Brooks Racer ST4 #19 Brooks Racer ST4  (2010)
Weight: 285 g
Notable races: IM Frankfurt 2011 (run split: 3:05:04)
730 km
 B00618 Salomon XT Wings GTX #18 Salomon XT Wings GTX (2009)  Gore Tex trail running shoes for winter running, now used only for hiking due to high weight.
Weight: 434 g
308 km
 B00617 Nike Free 5.0 V4 #17 Nike Free 5.0 V4 (2009)  My first foray into minimalist running shoes.
Weight: 255 g
(still in rotation) 417 km
 B00616 Asics Kayano 15 #16 Asics Kayano 15 (2009)
Weight: 396,5 g
904 km
 B00615 Nike Zoom Elite 4 #15 Nike Zoom Elite+ 4 (2009)
Weight: 326 g
Notable races: Boston marathon 2009 (2:50:46)
1009 km
 B00614 Asics GT2130 #14 Asics GT2130 (2009)
Weight: 360 g
1052 km
 B00613 Asics Kayano 14 #13 Asics Kayano 14  (2009)
Weight: 397 g
1010 km
 B00612 Asics Kayano 13 #12 Asics Kayano 13  (2008)
Weight: 397 g
803 km
 B00611 Nike Zoom Elite 4 #11 Nike Zoom Elite+ 4  (2008)
Weight: 326 g
631 km
 B00610 Asics Kayano 14 #10 Asics Kayano 14 (2008)
Weight: approx 397 g
934 km
 B00609 Asics Racer #9 Asics Racer VII (2008)  My first racing flats!
Weight: 233 g
Notable races: Ljubljana marathon 2008 (2:55:32)
Berlin marathon 2009 (2:38:34)
(still in rotation) 833  km
 B00608 Asics Kayano 13 #8 Asics Kayano 13 (2008)
Weight: approx 397 g
1078 km
 B00607 Adidas Supernova Control 10 GTX #7 Adidas Supernova Control 10 GTX (2007)Gore Tex trail running shoes for winter running.
Weight: 400 g
681 km
 B00606 Nike Zoom Elite 3 #6 Nike Zoom Elite 3 (2007)  My first »faster« running shoes.
Weight: approx 326 g
Notable races: first marathon under 3 hr – Ljubljana marathon 2007 (2:59:08)
870 km
 B00605 Asics GT2120 #5 Asics GT2120 (2007)
Weight: approx 360 g
936 km
 B00604 Asics GT2110 #4 Asics GT2110 (2007)
Weight: approx 360 g
919 km
 B00603 Asics GT1110 #3 Asics GT1110 (2006)
937 km
 B00601 Nike Perseus 02 Nike Pegasus #2 Nike Pegasus (2005) and #1 Nike Perseus (2004)
986 km (Pegasus), 1056 km (Perseus)
Notable races: first marathon – Ljubljana marathon 2004 (3:46:36)
the_post_thumbnail