Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Low Intensity Training

>> Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joe Friel, one of the best-known triathlon coaches out there, wrote on his blog yesterday about the importance of low-intensity training. He points to 2 studies that show these results, but he notes that "there isn’t a lot research on this specific topic so there’s certainly room for a counter argument here."

Here's a chuck of Friel's thoughts regarding these studies:

Assuming that we accept this train-easy-rather-than-moderate concept, there may be several reasons that it’s more beneficial. An obvious one is that you are likely to be more rested when doing a subsequent hard (>AnT) [anaerobic threshold] session. There may also be benefits of going slow such as improving fat metabolism and capillary density in the slow twitch muscles. There could even be psychological benefits having to do with burnout.

The bottom line of this research is that training should be either hard or easy—most of the time. As soon as we start looking at training in terms of an entire season, periodization must be considered. Depending on the type of event for which you are training, there are times in the year when it may be appropriate to do a considerable amount of training at a moderate effort between the thresholds. For example, if you are training for a long-distance event lasting several hours that will be raced in zone 3, then a good deal of time in the last few weeks before the race should be spent training in zone 3. Also, very early in the season, such as in Base 1 and 2, it’s probably beneficial for most athletes following a classic, linear periodization program to do a considerable amount of training between the thresholds with very little time above AnT [anaerobic threshold].

Friel wraps up his article with this:

The bottom line here is that it is often beneficial to do very easy workouts rather than entirely avoiding them in favor of a moderate effort as many do. In my opinion, perhaps the biggest mistake athletes make in training is to make their easy workouts too hard.

When I interviewed up-and-coming pro triathlete Linsey Corbin about 5 years ago, one of the big things I took away from talking with her was that she shared similar thoughts as this. She noted that we (meaning amateur triathletes) spend too much time training at 80%. She thought we need to back off a lot more, and then have some workouts that were "all-out" - NOT just going pretty hard most of the time.

Check out Joe Friel's article here (along with links to the 2 studies he cites), and CLICK HERE for all posts tagged with "Thirsty Thursday."


A few more things to wrap up the 24 Hour Relay

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 final things:

• The "Plank Challenge:" Remember how I mentioned I'd do as many planks as I could during the 24 Hour Relay as a side fundraiser for Aaron's family? I got a lackluster start on my "best possible goal" of 60 minutes on Friday night: I totally forgot about the plank challenge for the first few hours as I was getting things underway at the relay, but then I did 17 minutes of planking from about 3 pm until about 9 pm Friday night. But then I was toast. I'm GLAD I didn't do any more on Saturday morning, because my core was already tight/sore during my mile repeats during the 11 a.m. hour. So in my one online pledge for $0.50 / minute, I made another $8.50 for Nora and Ralphie. That totally sucks, but I feel better knowing that in the 2 "in person" pledges on the track Friday night (as mentioned in my last post), I made an even $100 to add to the total. ($80 for that 5 minute plank, and then $20 an hour later for a 2 minute plank.)

• The "fast hour" with Dena: I mentioned in my "24 Hour Relay" race report that college buddy Dena and I covered the most ground (by 3 laps) during the final hour of the relay. Here's what our log sheet looked like when we were done:

I made pages like this for each hour.

3 things regarding that:

1. I had no idea Dena was that fast. She started with a 7:02 mile, and the rest were sub-7!

2. Our 1 mile intervals "moved" in a similar way: our first was our slowest, our 2nd was our fastest, and then we slowly slowed down over the remainder of the miles. (I put my half-mile splits next to my name after each mile just to keep track of them.)

3. My log sheet design worked well for tracking times, laps, and miles.

• Signs on the track: Here were the signs that we had posted on the 2 entrances to the track:

Thanks for the photobomb, Dena.

• Big THANKS to Hamline University for letting us use their track! I emailed the CC/track coaches (who's contact info I found online) about 6 weeks ago, and they pointed me in the right direction. I just took 1 email after that to Beth and Jim for them to say "yep, we're on board." Thanks to Hamline, Beth, Jim, and to the security staff who kept an eye on us all night long! (Also a big THANKS to Randy from FrontRunner events for letting us use his finish line clock, and to Nicole from the YWCA of Minneapolis for the orange cones - which we didn't end up using, but thanks anyway!)

• Funeral Photo: I don't think I shared this here... here's a photo I Instagrammed of Henry playing with Ralphie at his Dad's memorial service:

Caption: "Henry and I went into a back room at Aaron's memorial service tonight (because the
main room was packed with 800 people someone told me), and there we found his son.
Ralphie and Henry played. Henry shared his cookies. It was sweet. #RIPBigPurm"

The family friend who was watching Ralph found the photo on Instagram and commented: "You and Henry saved the day! Thanks for pal'ing around with #ralphiegrams. He loved it :)"

• A lot of runners shared their own cancer stories with me. I didn't get a chance to ask every runner why they were there, but many came out with family stories: fathers, siblings, and friends who were affected by cancer too young in life. At the relay, I spent about 60% of the time doing logistical things and "hosting," 35% sharing wacky stories of Aaron, about about 5% on the verge of tears discussing the unfair qualities of life. Take, for example, this message I got on Monday from one of the runners:

Just wanted to thank you again for organizing the relay. I didn't even know Aaron, but from all I've seen and heard, he must have been a truly amazing person. In addition to being lots of fun, it also made me quite sentimental. I think it was the Spiderman doll, as weird as that sounds. For some reason running around that track holding Spiderman, the thoughts going through my mind most of the time were about how lucky I am to be able to spend more time with my children and loved ones. I can only imagine what his wife is going through right now. Not sure if you plan to make this an annual event, but if so, count me in. Thanks again, Steve.

• This super sexy photo of Aaron and I recently resurfaced:

3 things regarding that photo:

1. I don't know why I thought a $3 hooker wig was a good "He-Man" wig. Whatever.

2. Yes, that's (my then fiancée, now wife) Pharmie behind me as She-Ra. That led to a lot of weird comments about how He-Man and She-Ra were siblings. Again, I say: whatever.

3. You know the green "Still Kickin" shirts that everyone's wearing in Aaron's memory? (My wife and I should be getting ours in the mail any day - I've heard that those shirts set a record on that shirt printing website as their most ordered shirt ever.) Well, there's another photo of Aaron at this Halloween party as Luigi, and you can tell that his green shirt is his "Still Kickin" shirt inside-out. I somehow liked finding that out. I'm not quite sure why... but it made me smile.

Well, that was a heck of an event. Thanks again, Hamline University, for letting us use your track. If you want to still donate to Nora and Ralphie, please CLICK HERE. It's super easy and just takes a minute.

- Initial post about Aaron and starting the 24 Hour Relay
- The 24 Hour Relay "race report" from Monday


"Race Report" from the "24 Hour Relay for Aaron"

>> Monday, December 15, 2014

From noon on Friday through noon on Saturday, we kept a Spiderman figurine moving around the small indoor track at Hamline University as a fundraiser for my college buddy Aaron's family. (Click that link if you don't know Aaron's story, but you all do by now - he's the one who admitted to being Spiderman in his obituary and asked his son to avenge his death.) I'll show some images below, but I'll post lots more in a Facebook album, and I'll share the link once I get those up (in another day or 2).

Set up on the edge of the track with goodies donated by Colle+McVoy (where Aaron worked).

Our baton for the next 24 hours.

There was a gymnastics meet getting ready to start below us.

Catherine kicked off the relay for us - her hubby worked with Aaron.

From Instagram: "Kare11 is here taping our runners! #24HourRelayForAaron"

So there was a super short mention about the relay on Kare 11 on Friday night. Catherine got a call from her Dad saying he saw her on the news, and other people who came in on Saturday saw it too, but I wasn't able to find it online. I'll share it if it turns up.

A handoff between 2 buddies in the 1 p.m. hour.

In the 2 p.m. hour, the football team did some warm ups on the track with us, and it was
a little intimidating to our runners! The whole track shook when they came by!

Steve Q showed up to run a few laps in his long undies (complete with butt flap)...

... and then he did a plank with me.

We were told to grimace. My "grimace face" apparently looks like Popeye.

Remember, I gave myself a plank challenge during the 24 hour relay to see how many minutes of planking I could do. I got 1 pledge for $0.50 / minute. So I had a lot of work to do to make some extra $$ for Nora and Ralphie.

A boyfriend/girlfriend team handed off to each other during the 5 p.m. hour.
(We generally did 11 laps at a time before handing off - 1 mile on the 160 yard track.)

Before the 7 p.m. hour, I was challenged to do a 5 min plank to raise some extra $$.
I was sweating like CRAZY by the end! The next photo I shared on Saturday night...

From instagram: "I was challenged to raise some extra money at the #24HourRelayForAaron.
Joe J wanted me to hold a plank for 5 mins. At 1 min, I'd earn $5, and that would double
every minute until I hit $80 total by minute 5. He threw the cash in front of me as I earned it
every minute. It got shaky as hell, but I held out for the full 5 mins. Oww."

Krista handing off to Joe in the 7 p.m. hour.

Little Connor took off FAST during the 8 p.m. hour. His first lap was sub-6 pace!
And then he held on to run a 8:34 mile! He earned LOTS of cheers!

KY challenged CY (his wife) and I to do a 2 min plank for $20 in the donation box.

From CYs Instagram: "Thx @stevestenzel for creating the #24hourrelayforaaron #RIPBigPurm"

The gymnastics meet was still going strong.

Here's something I didn't know about youth gymnastics: did you know that EVERYONE does the same floor routine? So that means they all have to use the same song. I endured NINE HOURS of that same "russian ballet"-like song blasting over the speakers. When someone would say at the end of their hour "Oh, that song's getting a little annoying," my face would start twitching as I'd say "Yeah. After an hour it's a little annoying. It's 7 p.m. It's been playing for me for 7 hours." Good times. Good. Gosh-darn. Times.

Oh, other funny side-note: 3 different Moms from the gymnastics meet came up to ask why people were running around the track with Spiderman. They thought something fishy was going up up here.

Lisa cranking out one of her 3 6:27, 6:18, or 6:22 miles in the 9 p.m. hour.

Lisa's sister and her boyfriend sharing their mile duties: Heather and Patrick. Heather is
super fast (WORLD CHAMP, really), but took it easy (REMEMBER THAT POINT LATER!).
Also, you may or may not have seen these 2 with their identities protected in this post.

Brian was also part of this 9 p.m. hour running 3 miles in 5:20, 5:08, and 5:04!

Thank GOD the gymnastics meet was done!

Team "Skin and Bones" wrapping up the 10 p.m. hour.

I went home for a few hours of sleep from about 11-4. I initially had planned on staying the entire 24 hours, but then it ended up working out that my sister-in-law could come over and watch the boys Saturday evening (the next day). She was doing that so my wife and I could have our first date since we saw "Argo" in the theatre 2 years ago. I didn't want to be sleepy, grumpy, or other 7-dwarf-adjective on our date, so I figured I should get a few hours of sleep. I ran into the Mill City Running crew just outside the track as they were coming for their 2 shifts (11 p.m. and midnight).

A group lap for the Mill City Running gang!

Josh from Mill City Running tweeted me this after they snuck onto the gymnastics floor,
saying "After the 11pm-1am shift we even had a little balance left."

The only people I didn't get to say "HI" to! Thanks 1 a.m. crew!!

There was an awesome group of people on the track from 2 a.m. through 5 a.m. They were from the YWCA of Minneapolis. They brought Tim (their trainer) with them. He made them do all kinds of crazy stuff if they were "resting" and not the current runner on the track. When I got there around 4:30 on Saturday morning, I opened the door to Walker Fieldhouse and I heard AC/DC blaring from the track on the far end of the building. Here were some photos they sent me:

What? Awesome.

Sally holding an iso exercise that I could never do.

Insane. Awesome.

Oh sure. Just do shoulder presses with one of your relay partners as your runner
goes under. Yeah, no problem. We all do that. No big whoop.

They ran fast for those 3 hours too.

Still smiling at the end of a 3 hour shift (getting ready for a BIGGGG breakfast).

Thanks 2-5 a.m. runners!

The 6 a.m. shift was a "college buddy" shift. It was Jamey, Joe, Dena, and me - 4 college friends of Aaron's. They all teased me because I went last and was the only one to not cover 2 full miles. Jerks.

Dena asked me not to point out that she was making Spidey touch her boob. So I won't.

Joe, Dena, Jamey, and me post-run. We had a LOT of inappropriate chatting
during this 6 a.m. hour. Aaron would have greatly approved.

The 7 a.m. crew: Liz, Amanda, and Matt.

We had more entertainment starting: there was a swim meet going on through the window,
and the gymnastics meet was starting up again. BUT WITH A DIFFERENT SONG. Praise Jesus.

Oh good. I'm stuffing my face with junk food over there as Erin runs.


Someone named Heather on Instagram posted this: "Just happened to be at
the State Gymnastics meet for @maiya_gymnast9 and just realized that the runners
above are carrying Spider-Man! Happy coincidence. #RIPBigPurm"

A preggo STILL KICKIN shirt in the 10 a.m. hour!

Jana Shortal (Kare11 reporter) is a friend of Aaron and Nora's (she did a beautiful story
on his funeral here
), and she wanted to run a bit for them. So she took 2 miles at 10 a.m.

Jana posted this photo after her run, with the caption "So that went well. I mean.
What grown ass woman doesn't puke after a 2 mile jog?"

Pregnant Rachel across the track. See her?

About a week ago, Dena (college buddy from the 6 a.m. hour) asked me if I would run the last hour with her too. So we tag-teamed the 11 a.m. hour. We both sort of figured we'd each get 4 miles in, but we were faster than we expected. We didn't realize it at the time, but once we finished up, we were shocked to find that WE were the hour that covered the most ground! The speedy 9 p.m. hour the night before traveled 100 laps (9 miles + 1 lap), and I had predicted that group to travel the farthest. The Mill City Running group at 11 p.m. and midnight traveled 99 laps in both hours. Dena and I traveled 103 laps! She laid down some impressive splits, with only 1 mile being over 7 minutes!

Dena in the 11 a.m. hour.

People brought more goodies throughout the day, so the goodie table was overflowing!
(Lots still in the bag under the table too!)

2.5 minutes left in the 24 hour relay!

A final handoff to me, and I finished a few more laps before noon.
Hey, the first photo of me actually running!

In 24 hours and 6 seconds, we traveled 1922 laps, or 174.7 miles!


It wasn't a race, but here are some numbers from the event:


Brian S, 5:04 (and 5:08 and 5:20)
Steve S, 5:25
Tim P (trainer), 5:29

Lisa L, 6:18 (and 6:22 and 6:27)
Sally H, 6:34
Dena V, 6:39

Cal, 7:03 (age 13)
Connor, 8:34 (age 6ish)
Henry (age 11), 8:38

Dena and Steve, 103 laps (11 a.m.)
Lisa, Heather, and Brian, 100 laps (9 p.m.)
"Mill City Running," 99 laps (at both 11 p.m. and midnight)

Steve S, 8 miles + 1 lap (between 3 hours)
Frank H, 5 miles (solo)
Joe J, 4 miles + 9 laps

Dena T, 7 miles (between 2 hours)
Catherine M, 7 miles (between 2 hours)
Krista J, 4 miles

TOTAL LAPS IN THE RELAY: 1932, or 175.64 miles (955 first half, 977 last half)
TOTAL LAPS BY ANYONE RUNNING FOR/WITH US: 2144 (estimated), or 194.91 miles

Another important stat is that after the relay was all done and I took the donation box home, I found over $1,000 in there for Nora and Ralph! ($1,057 to be exact.) And during the relay, a lot more of you donated to our YouCaring page - as of Wednesday morning, donations had really slowed down and I showed that we'd earned $1,420 of our $2,500 goal. But over the next 3 days, the donations rose to $2,250, which is just shy of our goal! So I just raised the goal to $3,943, which seems random, but that number added with what we earned on the track equals a nice even $5,000. So please donate if you can. There's a week left before it closes. And if you missed the first post about Aaron and Nora's story, click here to check it out.

More shortly. (Including a Facebook album with more photos.)

- Here's a link to a few more bits of final info about the relay.



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