With one duathlon already in the books (Iron Hawk) that means the start of the 2016 MultiSport Canada Duathlon/Triathlon Recharge With Milk Series is just weeks away.
Like most competitive athletes I have been working hard since October of last year to prepare for the upcoming season. Hours and hours on the computrainer working in #TrainerRoad to boost my FTP and muscular endurance. I set a hefty goal for the bike of 300w FTP and only fell short by 5 watts. (295w @ 4.68w/kg). Averaging 6-7 hrs a week of training I stuck to my usual plan of 3 weeks on 1 week off. Some weeks were better than others as high as 9 hrs of training and as low as 2 hrs. Building my endurance has been the hardest part pushing to average a TSS of 450-500 a week it has taken everything to maintain this intensity. Running for me is an ongoing struggle, pushing myself to run faster for longer is no easy chore. Doubling my distance in preparation for the International Duathlon 5K,40K, 10K format has been a grind. My endurance is excellent but to maintain the speed of a sprint race into double the distance has not been fun. This year will clearly be a transitional year because I have only ever raced sprint duathlons, never the international distance. With the upped milage came more stress on the body and more demand for proper fuel / nutrition. I have managed to work my way up to 2+ hrs of activity solely fueled by liquids. Maintaining proper sodium levels and fluid carbs make the difference between “bonking” around 1hr or not. Once I cross that 1:05:00 mark I can keep pushing now. Pulling double duty working on indoor bricks was very beneficial. For the first time I had both a treadmill and computrainer at my disposal in the #summerfieldpaincave. Changing my bodies ability to function past the 2/ 2.5hr mark is something that I still a struggle with despite bye best efforts to adapt. This is something that will only come with time. Cycling is not worry it’s my running, getting faster is so damn hard. I talked about increasing my training load in a previous post “increasing you training load safely” and how to find that balance of training and fatigue. Ironically shorty after posting that in March I began a downward spiral in my training after pushing myself to the edge physically and mentally.
With any athletic sport the formula seems simple push push push, let your body rebuild and repeat. Burt this is easier said than done because no one ever tells you just how much suffering comes with the “pushing”. I developed a lot of symptoms of typical over training: fatigue, slow recovering heart rate, mood swings and prolonged recovery times. Going over the training data I was on a great upward trajectory but then fell off suddenly and unexpectedly. Unfortunately for me this went on for many weeks. This drop in my ability to train consecutive days brought a lot of frustration. Almost 4 weeks of bad training and extra recovery days it was if someone had flipped a light switch and turned off 50% of my body.
I had been waiting to see a endocrinologist since March of 2015 when I had a similar scenario of heavy fatigue and general weakness. I did my best to mask a lot of suffering last year and kept telling myself feeling like crap is part of the sport… news flash its not.
Long story short a blood panel early in 2015 revealed extremely low levels of Testosterone. I want to save this topic for another post because there is so much to talk about but quickly, Low T ….. me really…. I wasn’t training 20-40hrs a week like a pro…. but sure enough my pituitary has not been functioning properly for years. My endocrinologist couldn’t believe that I have been able to function let alone keep training. Levels as low as mine combined with my age was a first for him and the clinic. I was told “Spencer you have the testosterone level of a 12 year old” and was speechless. I am on the road to recovery now and slowly over the past 6-8 weeks I have been ramping up to my regular training loads and expected intensity levels. This is not something that is quickly fixed either just ask Pro Triathlete Cody Beals. He struggled with low levels and it took years to get his hormones balanced out. Check out his story and saga of Low T. When a doctor gives you a pat on the back for being mentally tough enough to keep on going for years with low levels it confirmed that I am very strong mentally. Muscle weakness and not being able to build lean muscle mass was also dead give away. The doctor took one look at the blood work and just set the paper down and said “Let me guess Triathlete”…. I was shocked he was close enough but wow. Stay tuned for the long story……….
To address the now large elephant in the room “No”, I am not taking Testosterone or HGH of any kind. HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is a controversial topic so best left to another post.
With Iron Hawk behind me and a 10K road race in the books I am so excited for 2016 duathlon season just weeks away. MultiSport Canada Woodstock Sprint Du is first up on my list June 11. After that I have a whole slew of races Welland, Belwood, Gravenhurst (Double Du), Kingston, Wasaga Beach, Lakeside and a few others. Qualifying for a spot on the national Team to represent Canada in 2017 in Penticton BC is my only real goal this summer so I guess you could say Gravenhurst so this is my “A” race. A lot of my season is still up in the air because my wife and I are expecting our baby girl on June 25th. This means Welland might be off the table 😉 and she might kill me for saying this but I hope she is early or late so I can race! I will be focusing on international distance this summer and hope to keep my build phase going through the whole race season to peak in July.
Lots of my fellow competitors are riding new bikes this summer and they are fast machines, I only have 2 changes to my equipment one is a new Champion Systems speed suit and the other a new rear hub in my Fat88 wheel from 3SIXTY5 Cycling. The suit should help over the longer distances and the new hub is upgrading and replacing the old one.
I hope everyone reading this is just as excited for summer and the race season because this is going to be a amazing year for duathlon. I know for a fact that people are working harder than ever over the winters now and it is really raising the bar in the duathlon community. Keep your eyes peeled for a action packed season or fast times and course records.
Wishing all my fellow competitors and MultiSport Ambassadors the best of luck see you in Mississauga.
I leave you with this video.
A huge thank you to my new and returning supporters for 2016 season your commitment is greatly appreciated.
MultiSport Canada / Recharge With Milk (2016 Duathlon Pro Squad Ambassador)
Synergy Centre Physiotherapy & Chiropractic
Pursuit Health Management
Balance Point Triathlon