3 Day Block is in the bag and I'm cooked!

I finished up the three day MSP block this morning before going to work. I think this is the first time I have exercised early in the morning all year, so my mind was resisting the timing of it all.

I was surprised I had the legs, lungs and mental ability to do my 3 reps of MSP 10 minute intervals and maintain my power before 9 a.m. I started to lose my power in the final two minutes of the last interval, but fought hard to battle it out to the end. Ended up with 30 minutes of total MSP Interval Work Time today.

Compared to last year, I have done 50 more minutes of interval work time volume in the MSP Phase during the first ten day block this year over last. This continues the theme I set in the SMSP Phase of upping my volume over last year.

I was a little bit of a zombie the rest of the morning at work and was starving by lunch. That plain turkey sandwich never tasted so good. To top off the lack of food day, I barely got to eat dinner due to my spring studio recital tonight. I managed to get down a multi-grain bagel with natural peanut butter (no sugar) and a granny smith apple for dinner on the run. I feel like I hardly ate anything today.

Ah....but I did manage to down a Michelob Ultra a few mintues ago as a nightcap to a long and productive day.

Two days of easy recovery (or totally off) are on tap for Tuesday/Wednesday. My legs will enjoy the recovery - that's for sure.


MSP gains...

I was reviewing my chart of interval work time from last year during the MSP phase. I didn't own the Morris book at the time last year, but I now have it and have simply been following the suggested 10 day block work out for the MSP Phase from the book. The difference this year is that the chart on page 94 has me doing a lot more volume of interval work this year than what I threw together last year. I peaked at 30 minutes of MSP interval work time a year ago. Heck, that was day one in this year's phase.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the weather and flip-flopped my scheduled days due to the weather report of Monday not allowing me to go outside for the hill climb intervals.

The scheduled three day block was supposed to be:

Saturday - 3 reps of 12 minute MSP Intervals
Sunday - race or 3 reps of 10 minute MSP Intervals
Monday - 4 reps of 8 minute MSP Intervals (climbing)

The new revised schedule is:

Saturday - I did the 4 reps of 8 minute MSP Interval climbs outside on grassy/mushy surface at a local hilly park (with the dogs running along at my side). I was pushing pretty hard on these intervals and they felt just a tad too high as if I was in SMSP land with my heart rate high and me drooling all over myself. I guess there is nothing like real world conditions as it sure felt like a race. And the course outside of Norfolk is very similar to where I was training yesterday.

Total MSP Interval Work Time = 32 minutes

Sunday - 3 reps of 12 minutes MSP Intervals on the exercise bike in the basement followed by 1 full circuit of my German dumbbell exercises for maintenance purposes only. To make my wattage today, I was about 4 beats higher on my HR, but it is the wattage I am measuring and trying to make with HR secondary. Maybe Saturday's training had me gassed. And maybe the bottle of wine the wife and I drank at the Cheesecake Factory last night contributed. Oh well, I made my power and really struggled during the final two minutes of each 12 minute interval. That's the way it should be.

Total MSP Interval Work Time = 36 minutes

Monday - I'll do the 3 reps of 10 minute MSP Intervals tomorrow morning before heading to work. Then I get Tuesday/Wednesday as easy/off days; an hour in Zone 2 on Thursday and I will add some intensity on Friday to prime the legs for Saturday's race. I will use Saturday as day 1 of the 2nd ten day block of MSP Intervals.

I bought a Craftsman air compressor at Sears today that was on sale for $99. This will help me with my tubeless tires, blowing dust around in my shop and keep my car tires topped off at all times. I stopped by Paul Varnum's house to pick up my MOB racing kit on the way to Gilbert where my daughter had a soccer match. It was windy out there on the open prairie making the 52 degrees seem more like 35 - 40 at times.

The MOB Kit looks great. I'll have to get a picture posted of me suited up in the gangster outfit.



2 days of easy/off for today and tomorrow following last night's MSP grind in the basement.

It went like this...

5 minutes of warming up.

Leadout intervals with 20 seconds rest between.

3 minutes recovery from the leadouts.

4 reps of 8 minutes on; 4 minutes off.

Cool down for 5 minutes.

Total MSP work time = 32 minutes

Shower. Dress. Eat. Back to work for a student recital.

Note to self: the right knee needs these two days off and it wouldn't hurt to pamper it a bit.


Phase 4 of the Morris Off-Season Training Plan begins...

Today was day #1 of the final phase in the Morris plan to prepare for the race season. MSP Intervals which are longer than the SMSP intervals, but at slightly lower power on the wattage meter are designed to raise the anaerobic threshold, improve lactate clearance and help the rider adapt to race speed. This phase calls for two blocks of 10 days each and includes early season races after the first block of 10 days. I will begin XC racing on April 5th in the middle of this phase.

Here is what I wrote on day one of the MSP Interval Phase last year:

And on to phase 4 of the Morris Plan along with the Energy Act of 2005 March 11th time change. Today was numero uno of the 21 day MSP phase. Although the weather was beautiful outside and I wanted to ride out in it, I figured I had better do the MSP's on the power measuring machine to make sure I made my power. Did reps of 2 X 10 with warm-up, 5 minute rest between and 10 minute cool down. Was sweating like a pig in the basement (perhaps one too many beers last night?).

Well, well, well. The Energy Act of 2005 certainly has kicked in at this time again this year with the time change having already kicked in so we have more evening hours to ride outside. And believe it or not, the weather was perfect for riding outside this year just as it was on the first day of MSP last year. Today was 61 and sunny, but I headed to the basement after work to hit the interval pain machine where the power meter does not lie or give into my mental games. I was sweating like a pig again in the basement, but I had no alcohol last night. I guess it must be the hard work these intervals require.

I was scheduled to do 3 X 10 minutes on; with 5 minutes off tonight. However, since I had to race back to school for an evening recital I only had so many minutes to work with to be able to train, eat, shower, dress and make it back to school in time for the recital. So I did 2 reps of 15 minutes on; with a five minute rest between. Warm-up of 5 minutes and cool down of a couple of minutes.

I will do shorter duration MSP's at higher power tomorrow before taking the scheduled rest days on Thursday and Friday.

Spring is coming - I now feel it. And my new Racing Ralph 2.25's showed up at the door this afternoon. I'll be getting out the Stan's sealant this weekend and mounting the 2008 race tires up on the appropriate wheels.


Last day of recovery week...

Today was my final day of recovery and called for a 1-2 hour easy ride. Since I had the day off due to Easter break, I decided to take the dogs with me to a park in town with cross country running trails, a disc golf course and hiking. It's wide open trail that is windy, grass covered and very hilly. Just what I needed to remind myself of what hills are like on the mountain bike and to prepare for the Maskenthine XC Classic race course out by Norfolk on April 5th. I was pleasantly surprised that all of my training in the basement is starting to take shape. I had the power to do the climbs quite well. Tomorrow I start the MSP intervals and according to Morris, should be ready to include a race after the first week to ten days of MSP intervals. So the Psycowpath race will fall two days following my 10th day of completion of segment one of the 3 weeks. That should work out just fine even though I know the legs lose some snap during the MSP grind.

I ran the big Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 up front and a Nanoraptor in the rear on my Dos Niner today as an experiment. I wanted to see what it felt like tubeless with these guys on all those bumps in the mowed cross country trail in the open grass fields. I remember last year getting bucked around on my Dos at Maskenthine because I was running Kenda Karam 1.9's at a pretty high psi. Much of that trail is similar in conditions because it is a newly mowed or cut trail out in the prairie with lots of bumps and chatter to zap one's momentum and energy if the bike is not dialed in correctly. I couldn't get low enough air pressure in the Karma 1.9's last year because the tires get some squirm when they are tubeless and low in psi. So these larger volume tires feel like the golden ticket. Lots of cush. I may even run my Sugar 293 out at Maskenthine, but we shall see. At least it won't be 95+ degrees on April 5th like it was last summer when we raced out there in the open prairie.

Ah....I blew a belt on the old Maytag washing machine which required hunting down a belt today in Des Moines and installing it. It seems to be back in working order. Glad it was only a $20 part for the repair and didn't involve having to buy a new washer (the wife was yelling on that side of the fence). That day will come because this critter is about 17 years old at this point...


SMSP Phase è finito!

10 minute warm-up

22 reps of 1 minute on; 1 minute off (11 seated; 11 out of saddle)

5 minute cool-down

Total Interval Work Time = 22 minutes

After 3 consecutive days of grinding out these intervals I feel like this....



Fired Up the Turbo Trainer...

...today for day 2 of my three consecutive day block of SMSP intervals. The pain train was a mixed bag today, but I can feel the benefits of this work as my body prepares for racing.

Today's mixed bag in terms of duration went like this:

5 minute warm-up

3 reps of 3 minutes on; 3 minutes off
1 reps of 2 minutes on; 2 minutes off (higher power)
1 rep of 1 minute on; 1 minute off (highest power)
3 reps of 6 minutes on; 6 minutes off (one notch lower in power than the 3 minutes, but I hit the same heart rate zone at 170+)

Total Work Time = 30 minutes intervals; 24 minutes rest

5 minute cool-down

I am doing most of these seated this year to target more efficient climbing. I've relied so much on out of the saddle climbing, that this seated power work had my lower back really hurting today. Feels like a swollen disc down there. I was careful to stretch today before and after, but the back has that "a grenade is about to go off" feeling. Hmmmm....I suppose it is the power I am pushing in these intervals and the back needs some rest but it won't get it until after tomorrow's final SMSP session. I will be targeting shorter duration intervals at the highest power I can muster up and I will add in some out of saddle intervals as well.

The Turbo Trainer in all its glory.... '-]



Final Block of SMSP Intervals begins with 44 minutes!!!


Today was day 1 of the final block of SMSP pain train intervals. I'm doing these final three days on the trainer in the basement because I want to make sure I am making my power on each and every one of them.

It didn't start out great. The first three 4 minute intervals had me reaching deep into the hurt bag, but I wasn't going to lower the wattage. The point is that this high intensity interval training is to increase maximum power and improve lactate production or clearance.

NOTE 1. Should be done only when completely recovered from previous work.


NOTE 2. Heart rates are not the best guide for this type of training. Intensity should be such that the effort can just be held to the end of the interval. Ride on feel and use heart rate for feedback.

Check! (I only couldn't make the 10th 4 minute interval)

I wanted to make my power. I think I turned the deep pain corner on the 4th interval and was able to hammer through the rest until the end. I was drooling the entire time.

9 reps of 4 minutes on; 4 minutes off
1 rep of 2 minutes on; 2 minutes off (was to be a 4 minute interval but I ran out of gas)
6 reps of 1 minute on; 1 minute off

Total Work Time = 44 minutes

What I felt like at the end of the session:


I was thinking about doing another 1 minute interval to round out at 45 minutes, but then I remembered I've got to climb back on the trainer tomorrow and Tuesday to finish the block.

I'm taking the kids to a movie and then to eat. I'll have to "force" myself to not take in too many calories and carbs - just enough to recover for tomorrow's pain train.


This Block is in the Bag!

I didn't make my goal of 30 minutes today on my consecutive interval day. That's okay, because I pushed myself pretty hard yesterday doing more time than I was originally intending to do. I was cranking in the shorter intervals today (2 and 1 minute intervals) and turned my legs into ground lean chuck because of it. I think I could have squeezed out three more minutes of intervals, but I ran out of road and time (had to pick the kids up from school).

What a nice day to be out there cranking along. I kind of had to do an odd collection of intervals based on road crossings, ice patches, snow patches, the loop I was riding and my tired legs.

2 x 1 on; 1 off
2 x 3 on; 3 off
2 x 3 on; 3 off
4 x 2 on; 2 off
3 x 1 on; 1 off
2 x 1 on; 1 off

Total Work = 27 minutes (and boy, was I ever pooped)

I'm on interval relief until Sunday where I'm shooting for 40 minutes of interval work.


35 minutes of SMSP...

My target goal for today was 32 minutes of SMSP interval work. I ended up at 35 minutes!!!! My 2nd and 3rd blocks of SMSP intervals sucked last year as I was dealing with some health issues, scheduling conflicts and general malaise. This year I am on task and enjoying the process a bit more because I knew what to expect. My first block and my second block all went better than expected and I am laying down a lot more work time during the session this year than last.

Being that the weather was warm and the Summerset Bike Trail that runs from Indianola to Carlisle was open and clear enough for me to get through on a mountain bike (not ready for road bikes yet due to the snow and ice in spots) - I did my intervals outside. It felt good to ride in some sunshine and breathe fresh air.

I did 6 x 4 minutes on; 4 minutes off followed by 2 x 2 minutes on; 2 minutes off and the rest of the 7 minutes I did were 1 minute on; 1 minute off maximum "everything I could throw at the pedals" SMSP intervals. Total work time was 35 minutes surpassing my goal. Tomorrow I will do all 2 minute intervals and shoot for 30 - 32 minutes of work time. I think the weather will be favorable tomorrow for outdoor intervals. Then I get a rest day on Friday and an hour in Zone 2 on Saturday before starting my 4th block on Sunday.

My wife is in California, so I'm playing Mr. Mom this week. I baked some steelhead tonight, steamed some broccoli and made a nice spinach salad. The kids loved it and all tasted great.


The Black Hills are distant...

I got back from my quick trip out to visit my father and sister just in time for my wife to leave today to go visit her parents out in California. So I am Mr. Mom this week with the kids while I "enjoy" the remainder of my spring break.

I put in one more ride of an hour trying to keep myself in Zone 2 (hard to do climbing Black Hills singletrack) and my legs feel spent. I ended up not skiing as I just wasn't in the mood which is really odd because it's my favorite sport. It was 63 in Rapid City the day I had planned on skiing and just couldn't pass up another mountain bike ride in that kind of weather.

I drove home with my foot filled with lead in spite of the high cost of gas. Why so fast? Well, it is South Dakota and the view is nothing short of abysmal. And I was hoping to see all the snow melted here in Iowa. Nope, we need another week of temps in the 50's to get rid of this tundra. No snow all across South Dakota, but you get to central Iowa and it's like an ice age hit here.

Sadly, it looks like it will be quite some time before riding on any singletrack here in Iowa unless we get 6 straight days in the 60's and sunshine. And even then, I bet it would still be muddy. It might not be until a few days before the April 5th race in Nebraska that singletrack is ready to go. If that section of singletrack in Nebraska by Norfolk had the same dry fields as South Dakota, I bet it is nearly ready to ride. Ah, in the meantime it looks like pavement, gravel, bike path and the basement to continue getting ready.

I start my 2nd ten day block of SMSP interval training tomorrow. I might consider taking the road bike out on the bike path to do them, but it depends on the weather. However I choose to do it, on tap for tomorrow will be 32 minutes of interval work time with all the requisite rest thrown in between them. It should take me a full hour and ten minutes to account for warm-up.


I found some serious singletrack...

I didn't want to head deep into the Black Hills today to ride in yesterday's slop, so I headed over to M hill in Rapid City itself. I've ridden trails on this hill many times, but many trails are being developed and built thanks to some land owned by a trust by the Black Hills Mountain Bike Association.

It's a grueling climb up M hill on the fire road. Especially this early in the season when my aerobic base is minimal. We're talking 20T granny ring and 34T rear cog all the way to the top. It is that steep. And even with that gearing combination, my heart rate was near my max for the entire 15 minute climb. I had to give up on one section in the middle and just push the stinkin' bike.

Actually, the climb up to the radio station in my severe 29"er granny was the easy part. Coming down, I took one of the DH trails that my Sugar 293 with Nanoraptors simply is not designed to ride in the easiest manner. A bike with a front shock that had 130+mm of travel with big 2.7 tires and a gravity dropper seatpost would be ideal for this boulder filled, switchback filled trail. Couple that with body armor, a full face helmet, DH gloves and one would be set. My ideal would be a Lenz Behemoth or LunchBox with freeride rims, WTB Stout tires a gravity dropper and have at it. But that's my next $$$$ project.

I did 12 minutes of intervals on the way to M hill. I figure the climb, plus various other parts of the trail qualify as the remainder of my 12 minutes of intervals for the day. And yes - I was drooling on the way up and the way down. Altitude, steep climb and drool was a plenty.

Great trail for those of you who come out to the Black Hills. Get a ride in on M Hill to test your fitness and DH bike handling skills. There is nothing even remotely close to this kind of technical riding in Iowa. It's fun stuff - that's for sure. If I lived there, I'd have a burly rig built up in no time to handle the local terrain. In terms of my being in shape - I see I have a ways to go to get in XC race shape. The power is there like it has never been. I just can't hold it for more than a few minutes at this point in my interval training. Maybe I will be there by mid-April. I've got to shed 10 pounds and really target my interval training to get me there.

Sorry I didn't bring the camera to snap some pictures to show you what I'm talking about. But there are all types of threads at MTBR with pictures and videos regarding all matters Black Hills mountain biking. I didn't make it out last year, but the 2nd Annual Black Hills Fat Tire Festival will be held this May 23-26 and I would like to try and go. If there is anyone who is itching to get out for a weekend of fat tire riding in the Black Hills and socializing with mountain bikers from all over - drop me a note. I'd be happy to split the travel expenses. Housing would be free in Rapid City - either at my Dad's place or camping at the Fat Tire Festival HQ's in Rapid City at the base of M Hill.

Good night all...

The Perfect Interval Venue...

I'm out here in the Black Hills of South Dakota and had hoped to hit some serious singletrack. Too much snow fell a few days ago, so I had to hunt for a venue to ride. Storm Moutain was covered in snow, so I headed down to Hill City to look at the Mickelson Trail. Some snow in spots on the trail. So I figured if I headed to the southern hills, there would be less snow. Wrong, there was more snow on the trail in Custer than at Hill City. So I drove back by Crazy Horse and parked at the trailhead in Hill City.

I headed north out of Hill City on the Mick.

Let's look at the criteria for the perfect inteval venue:

Riding against the wind?


Riding uphill?


Riding at altitude?


Riding in wet limestone chip that was like glue creating ultimate rolling resistance?


There's something to say about such an outdoor against the elements interval. In the basement, even though I have been cranking out the proper wattage during my intervals and getting the heart rate in the correct zone - I haven't drooled yet. I always drool in a mountain bike race when I get in that red zone. Well, my first 3 minute interval coming out of Hill City after warming up for 15 minutes had me drooling big time. So did the other seven 3 minute intervals I did on Saturday. Major drool. Major workout and I even was able to outsprint a dog that gave me chase as I passed his owner's homestead on the trail.

The bike needed a visit to the car wash following the slosh through mud, snow, puddles and all that limestone. I wiped the bike down, lubed everything and put it back in the Element.

One more day of intervals and then I can hit the slopes at Terry Peak for some skiing.


Block 2 of SMSP begins...

I knocked out 25 minutes of interval work time as I moved into a 3 consecutive day block. I did 6 reps of 4 minutes on, 4 minutes off and finished with a 1 minute, out of saddle interval. I was pushing enough power to be 2 beats away from my maximum HR by the end of each interval tonight.

Tomorrow has me heading out to the Black Hills to visit my father and do some mountain biking for a few days, maybe even skiing if the snow is still good. I'll do my intervals tomorrow night after arriving in Rapid City.

Half a Trillion and counting...!!!

It's official. We now need the net worth of 8 or 9 Warren Buffetts to pay for the Credit Card tab of the Iraq War. $500 B and counting. Unbelievable. Remember when W said the Iraq War would cost us about $8 B when he was pleading his case to go to war?

Dang, I thought the contractor that remodeled my bathroom was low in his estimate...

click here to learn more


Zone 2 battery charge...

I took yesterday off as prescribed in my Morris plan. Today called for an hour in Zone 2 which Tom Jones got me through on the iPod. Dang! I forgot how well that guy could sing.

Back on the pain train tomorrow with intervals.


The Pain Train has ARRIVED!

SMSP Interval Phase began for me today. I'm aiming to best my SMSP phase of 2007 (pictured in the chart at the bottom of this page). Last year I eased into the phase with 2 consecutive days of 14 minutes each total work load for the intervals.

Today, I upped the ante over last year and started the phase out with 18 minutes of work time at a higher power level than last year. I will stair step my way through the period always upping the ante in hopes of meeting or even beating my 40 minutes of work load by the end of the phase.

I was a drenched wet mess at the end of the session (took 55 minutes which included warm-up, intervals, recovery and cool-down).

First note to self: do not do the intervals with cologne on as I nearly gagged on my Armani smell!

Second note to self: do not tell wife that it will only take 30 minutes for the interval session as I head down to the basement when she is in the kitchen and trying to time her cooking. Taking 55 minutes was frowned upon for the hot meal tonight.

Third note: Winter ain't over! What a frickin' tease the weather was today! I even got my Dos Niner out and was riding around the neighborhood thinking that spring was here before heading up to Des Moines with the kids for a little shopping at Costco. We were without jackets and enjoying the 60+ degrees weather. Came out of Costco and the temperature had dropped down into the low 40's within a few minutes. Tease, tease, tease only to wake up to another school delay and a snow filled driveway.

Edit: Day 2 is in the BAG!!!

I knocked out 16 minutes of work time today which was my target goal. I did 4 x 3 minute intervals and 4 x 1 minute intervals.

Block #1 completed: 18 minutes; 16 minutes

Rest day tomorrow followed by an hour in Zone 2 on Wednesday. Then it's on to Block #2 of three consecutive days. Higher targets and higher power in sight...


March is Here!

Finally, 50 degrees is the expected high today. The sun is shining and one can almost - I said "almost" - sense that spring is on the way. We'll see about that...

Today is the last day of my recovery week before hitting the SMSP Phase tomorrow. I'm about 2 weeks or so behind my anticipated schedule, but c'est la vie. I'll have to ride the first 2 races of the season in April as "training" races because of it, but that's fine. I'd rather do the full 3 weeks of the interval phases with a recovery week between.