George’s fitness: 2010 year in review

I haven’t had a good “in review” post in a while. When my focus was on blogging and losing weight I did a review post every five pounds (so essentially every month). I’ve been meaning to do a full year review for a few years now, but when the year ends in a whimper there’s not really much reason for it. This has been a much better year than most.


This year started off a little rough. I came off a long off-season, and hit a peak of 167 in January. That was up from my 155 average of the summer of 09. Not ideal. Training didn’t start until April this year, which was my latest start yet.

By July I had worked back into shape, back to 156, and stronger than ever. For the rest of the summer I focussed more on gaining strength and speed than size and I let another five pounds catch up to me. By the end of November I dumped that, plus five more to actually reach my goal of 150. Although since I wasn’t able to maintain a 7-day average of 150 I don’t really count it as having reached my goal yet. With the holiday season in full swing I’m just trying to keep myself from hitting the 155 mark again. If I can manage that then I’m going to start the new year in the best shape yet. [edit – fat chance, this was written mid-December, and after the winter vacation I tipped the scales at 158… oops]


This year was underwhelming compared to 2009. My grand total was 1649km in 77 hours, compared to last year’s 2348 in 137. By the time I hit 1650 last year it was still the middle of June (and I was on my way back from Niagara Falls). However, my average speed had jumped from 20.8 to 22.9. Now I haven’t subcategorized my rides based on whether they’re training rides, travel, or recreational, so that’s a bit misleading. I averaged 24.6 in 2007, but I’m pretty sure I’m faster now. Or at least I was in July.

Still this year was a bit of a disappointment, as I only had three rides that were longer than 100k. The excruciatingly hilly 161k Ride 4 United Way in Bowmanville was definitely a bright spot near the end of the season, but it absolutely pales compared to last year’s 322k Hairshirt.

A lot of the reason why this year was so slow with cycling was that I didn’t really have a cycling-specific goal. Without a Friends For Life ride to Montreal or a Hairshirt it was hard to log enough distance to keep up.

But I’ve got a cool visual showing everywhere I’ve ridden on a map since 2006. It really helps to visualize how different my training has been this year compared to other years. 



I actually ran this year. I started running before even cycling. Last year it was 50k over six hours total, including all my training for my first triathlon. This year I managed 287k over 33 hours. I ran a lot, and gained a lot of speed and endurance. I did my first 10k in 20 years and beat my old time. From June to August I logged over 60k a month. By August I was able to maintain a pace below 6:00/km over 5k, which was a huge improvement over last year. I even got down to 5:30.

I finished off the running season with a half marathon. That was nuts. If you asked me if I’d do that at the beginning of the year if I’d do that… well I might have thought I could. But still. Crazy.

I went through a few pairs of shoes, a couple different orthotics, and a new running technique. They’ve worked reasonably well… but more on the injuries later.


I’ve been swimming a lot. Best thing I’ve done was join Ayesha’s swim coaching sessions. My speed and endurance have gone through the roof. I spent all summer swim training on my own, and it worked out great. I managed to finish my best race with a mid-pack swim, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Last year I could barely doggie paddle to save my life. Literally.

I managed to get my swim pace down to 2:00/100m in the pool, which is fairly respectable to me. In a race that might be about mid-pack. My best race was 2:11, which was mid-pack. Over my longest distance race (2000m), I managed a 2:25 pace, which I suppose is pretty good too.

But since the current training, my pace times have dropped significantly. Keeping in mind that in the pool we’re not usually wearing wetsuits (and are as a result significantly slower), I can do 400m at just under a 2:00 pace. My 50m would be at 1:16 (if I were able to maintain that speed for twice as long, but still). 

Volume this year was just shy of 80km over 42 hours. Compare to last year’s 9km in 9 hours.

Triathlon – training

This deserves to be listed as a separate sport. Training for triathlons went really well this year. I joined Toronto Triathlon Club and met a whole swack of awesome people. This is what kept me motivated through the year, and if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have pushed as hard as I did to get ready in time for my first race. Most of my best rides have been solo, but having this group to meet every Saturday morning really helped.

My favourite experiences of the summer were definitely the 7:00am swims at Wilcox. Putting in 2000m to cross the lake and back before most people are awake makes me feel nuts enough.

The rides after were much different than what I’ve been used to. Instead of focusing on gradually increasing distances as a group and exploring new areas, this was regimented. Everyone had their set time to train for, same starting point, and same training partners. I’ve seen the same stretch of Bayview to Vandorf to Warden way too many times this year. Not better or worse, just different. Less casual, less fun, but more effective.

The post-ride brick runs were fairly gruelling. Not a whole lot to say. I managed to run a circle around the lake I swam across one day. 

Triathlon – racing

Huge huge huge huge improvements this year. Might as well just lay out the numbers.

Last year:

Sprint distance – swim avg: 3:53/100m – bike avg: 29.34 km/h – run pace: 6:00/km – 12th percentile finish (88% of the participants beat me)

This year:

Sprint distance – s: 2:38 – b: 28.45 – r: 7:25 – 10.8 percentile
Olympic distance – s: 2:48 – b: 28.63 – r: 6:47 – 14.4 percentile
Sprint distance – s: 2:14 – b: 31.43 – r: 5:47 – 72.73 percentile (!?!!!!)
Long course – s: 2:25 – b: 28.6 – r: 8:59 – 7.89 percentile (!?!!!)
Sprint(ish) distance – s: 2:11 b: 28.6 – r: 5:43 – 44.98 percentile

Last year I was in optimal bike shape, run was okay, but swim was crap.

My first race I just improved on the swim. I had some injuries to tend to on the long run.

In the second race I panicked in the swim, but had a decent ride, and I ran for most of the run

The third was just gold. My ideal race, and my peak form. Great swim, super insane ride (where I was able to ride the line between puking and going fast), and a solid run. I can still replay this race vividly if I think hard enough.

The fourth was a good swim, a good ride, and a crampy McCramp of a run. More like a walk actually.

The fifth had my best swim ever. Come to think of it this was right after the Toronto Triathlon Club’s open water swim clinic. The ride was good (most of my races this year averaged precisely 28.6 km/h), and the run was my best yet.

In other words it was a great year for racing. Looking deeper into the statistics, it really shows you how much emphasis is on the bike portion. The one race where I had a really standout performance I totally killed it.


This needs its own separate section. I really don’t feel like thinking about the negatives, and I’ve written enough about them already, but…

IT Band – this year it’s been pretty good. It was bad in the beginning, but Dr. Cindy did a great job of working it out and giving me a new running technique that helps to minimize the strain on it. Her new orthotics helped a lot too. Later in the year I made the connection that if I keep my cycling and running in balance to each other, it’s less likely that I’ll get a flare up. If I just run it gets reaggravated. If I cycle regularly it’s better. Weird.

Shoulder – I haven’t lifted much weights this year, so there hasn’t been too much pain. It starts to bug me a little when I swim a lot, but luckily I’m not strong enough for that to be a huge issue yet.

Tibialis Posterior Syndrome – this is a big one. In fact I’m not even sure if this is completely all of it. But whatever it is, this started with me having insanely flat feet, and was aggravated by rolling my ankle go karting. I think I’ve got a hold on how it happened.

1 – flat feet followed by 
2 – rolled ankle followed by 
3 – lots of cycling followed by 
4 – lots of running followed by 
5 – lots of swimming followed by 
6 – lots of swimming then lots of cycling then lots of running

Totally cumulative. I know how the final aggravation into an actual injury happened. One evening I ran 5k in tennis shoes with no orthotics. The next morning I did a cross-lake swim in cool water, which made my foot cramp. It didn’t completely un-cramp (it was tight), then I pushed hard on the bike. That was bad, but when I got off the bike it was absolutely inflamed. Five minutes into the run it was toasted. Sucks.

To fix this I’m off my feet for a while. I’ve got to wear orthotics 24/7, and the angle they’re on needs to be increased to match the natural angle of my feet. Big adjustments. So it’s gradual. Sucks.

When next season happens I’m going to do what I can to try and prevent cramping (magnesium, maybe other minerals, salt, experimenting, keeping my feet warm (in swim booties) etc). On the bike I’m going to get some shims (and/or even orthotics) to bring my angle back up. And running I’m going to work these killer orthotics. It’s going to be interesting. But hopefully by June I’ll be good to go.

Apparently this injury usually takes up to nine freaking months to completely heal. I may be symptom-free after six weeks and can slowly start to reintegrate exercise into my schedule, but wow. It may be a bit of a struggle to be ready for a full marathon by September. Unless I can find a good six month couch-to-marathon training plan.

Just the totals


Cycling: 2348.51 km – 111:48 hours
Running: 50.57 km – 5:45 hours
Swimming: 9.25 km – 9:09 hours
Total: 2408.33 km – 126:42 hours


Cycling: 1649.66 km – 71:20 hours
Running: 276.47 km – 32:27 hours
Swimming: 79.41 km – 42:41 hours
Total: 2005.54 km – 117.49 hours

My favourite part. Looks like I got in less time this year overall, but not by as much as I had expected. Also, this year ranked second in distance covered, even beating out my ride to Montreal year.


It’s hard to come up with a proper plan for next year. I’ve got my injury to deal with right now, which is going to cause another late start for cycling and especially running. I’m hoping to ease into swimming without a pull buoy and cycling soon. The running might have to take a bit longer. Or maybe the cycling is more aggravating. Either way it’s a process, and a long one at that.

As for my annual hours spent, it looks like I’m way way way under, and I have been for the past few years. I’ve probably gone into these events way undertrained. Reading my training bible, they don’t even have plans for people who have less than 200 hours a year to dedicate to training. I’m hoping to be able to put in 300. If not this year, at least for my Ironman year (if this injury doesn’t prevent that from happening (*arghh!!!!*)).

Nearly tripling my hours spent training sounds like a lot, but really it’s not when you factor everything in there. During the summer I’ll be doing 3 hours of just swimming a week. One long bike ride is four hours, a couple spin classes are two more, and whatever I’m able to do running (maybe two more hours a week to start), and we’re already looking at over 10 hours a week if I skip one hour. Times 50 is 500 hours.