April 2017 Training Update

The better part of the last four weeks was designed to get me ready for our annual Blue Ridge Cycling Camp. This is an annual pilgrimage to the outstanding city of Boone North Carolina. There we ride like maniacs and have a ton of fun every evening.


Last year I was unable to ride at all. In fact, I was relegated to fighting with AnnieB over where to put the van seat so my knees wouldn't get crushed against the dashboard! I had a moment on the Day Two ride back from Mount Mitchell. I recognized the stretch of road we were riding on and how, last year, I was walking up and down that stretch of road just to get some exercise. Kinda humbling for sure. 

My Strategy

The plan was to build up overall fitness with an emphasis on the bike. I still enjoy being a triathlete, even though camp requires significant cycling fitness I still wanted a balanced approach. To that end, I used all three disciplines as a resource and tried to keep them as consistent as possible.

The Disciplines

I did a fair job of separating the run workouts to allow for recovery and keeping them in the 5 to 6 mile range. Over the course of the last month I've noticed the speed start to improve and discomfort post run to be less. I still need to ice my knee and do some flexibility work but overall things are going well. 

As for the swim, I have continued to use my Vasa Ergometer as a great tool for building fitness. There is no substitute for getting in a great some work out in just 15 minutes a day. I know that swim work dryland works because I have definitely noticed an improvement not only in my swimming form but also the times on the clock. I'm excited to continue this experiment across the rest of the season.

The final aspect of training, and the most critical, was the bike. I started off at the beginning of the month doing quite a bit of intensity as a means of building up my strength. With the approach of the Blue Ridge camp I had to dial that is higher intensity efforts back and replace them with more volume. This is something that's very visible inside my performance manager chart from TrainingPeaks.com.

There were two main ways that I did this. First and foremost was our Sunday Zone Three ABP ride at 9 AM on Zwift. This is become an incredible resource for me and a whole lot of fun. For those of you who don't know's with, I really recommend you check it out. It's a great way to get in a trainer workout without ever feeling like you're on the trainer. Bonus if you can join us on Sundays as your teammates are there and we are texting and joking and riding together while the time kicks by. I promise you, once you hit the hour mark, the pain really starts to set in.

In addition to the Sunday workouts I was able to get out several times thanks to good weather for some longer rides. Prior to camp my longest ride is about 70 miles with minimal gain. But overall I had been building up my cycling fitness culminating in that 70 mile ride followed by 30 mile ride the next day as a swift race. For those of you who haven't raced on Zwift, it was just an insane insanely hard hour of riding! 

Eighth Annual Blue Ridge Parkway Camp

Overall the Blue Ridge Parkway Camp was a total success. I was able to ride the long ride on the first three days. This gave me a total of just over 240 miles and 24,000 feet of climbing. It included our epic climb to the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point on the eastern seaboard. 

It was a blast being able to ride again with my friends and teammates, many of whom were gracious enough to wait for me only got to the top of every climb. And they ignored my multiple requests for additional SAG stops. :-) 

By the end of the second day, which is 100 miles, I knew my legs were in trouble. I got it out on Saturday but was still pretty tired. By the time I went to bed on Saturday night I was starting to feel sick which was just as well… My left knee/hamstring was already pretty tight. 

I ended up taking the fourth day off and I'm now gradually in recovery mode working back up to some basic training. T

At the present time it doesn't look like I'll be able to raise Rev3Quassy in June but I will certainly be there to support the Team. I'm going to continue my conscious build across the year with an eye towards Ironman Mont Tremblant as a return to racing event -- being competitive is a very distant goal. 

As always, thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your endurance journey!

March 2017 Training Update

It's been a while since I last checked in, only because things have been pretty busy...including some training. I'm pretty pumped to say that I've been consistent over the last 12 weeks and even accumulating some training stress on my schedule. For those of you who have forgotten, my calendar includes two events for the season: Rev Three Quassy Half in June and Ironman at Mont Tremblant in August. 

Normally I like to show up at races ready to crush it, but this year is going to be different. Rather than focusing on peak fitness and race-based performance, I am using these events as a motivation to get myself back into shape. 

Baby Steps...

My body continues to hold up. I continue to stress to everyone that nothing is technically wrong. Something just isn't quite right. 

I have been running about 12 miles a week and cycling 80 to 100 miles a week for two months. I have found that I continue to need pretty good recovery time and patience with the harder efforts. My bike fit from Todd at TTbikefit.com continues to hold true. I feel great on the bike indoors and out which is a huge improvement. I do feel a little out of sorts at higher intensities, almost as if my left side is a little bit weaker than the right. So I will continue to monitor that.

The run training has been good at what I would consider to be steady-state paces. For comparison I'm running about 20 seconds per mile slower than what I used to run...but hell I am running! :-) My goal is to maintain that run consistency and continue to be super conservative with the run mileage. 

With the Blue Ridge Training Camp coming up at the end of this month, I am highly incentivized to get my bike fitness into order. I took the unusual step (for me) upgrading some components on my road bike to a compact crank and electronic shifting with the SRAM Red etap group. I think it's time to stop grinding up 45-minute climbs at 50 RPMs. 

Since we last checked in, I have added the VASA Ergometer (ANT+ model) to my training. You will be able hear a podcast interview with the CEO on our channel here as of April 5th. This has been a phenomenal addition to my training regimen. Even though I have simple access to a pool and a very flexible schedule, I have found myself "swimming" every day between 500 and 750 yards. That means I am putting in the equivalent of to two "full" swim sessions per week within the comfort of my own home in very short bursts. I have noticed improvements with my swim stroke when I do hit the pool because it's easier to compare how I felt on the VASA with the water. I am also seeing some increased speed as well. I feel very confident that this will continue to trickle down into the rest of my stroke and I look forward continue using the VASA over the rest of this season. 

Many of you have reached out to me about your own injuries and challenges and I want to thank you for sharing your story and wish you the best of luck! Now that I'm over the age of 40 I've learned that taking care of your body whether you're injured or not is simply mandatory if you have expectations around performance. This is new for me but I'm working on it and I hope you are enjoying working on it as well. 

I will check back in assuming that I survive our Blue Ridge Training Camp early next month!! 

Happy training,

~ Coach P

February 2017 Training Update

It's time for another monthly training update. I closed out January with a trip to my (new) orthopedist and got my first ever cortisone shot in my left knee. Since then, I have been training for about two weeks. 

It's hard to say how I really feel about it. I know my knee is not magically healed, but I don't necessarily feel any pain. I have been able to ride and run on a more consistent basis. The numbers are still ridiculously low and unimpressive, but it's nice to have a "where do I put my workout in today" problem once again.

On the Swim

I was consistent for a while but have dropped of now that running is back. I need to get in here as I was making some great gains!!

On the Bike

I also visited Todd Kenyon our sponsors TTbikefit.com. As you probably remember, he put a shim under my right foot, since my left femur is approximately 1 cm longer than the right. It is been interesting riding with the set up. I don't feel any more knee discomfort, as I have felt before, although I'm not riding at that same level of intensity. 

I also notice that I no longer have pain in the ball of my foot as I've had in the past. Part of me is wondering if I was actually applying more pressure to the footbed of my shoe on the left side because the seat was positioned such that that leg was "jammed." I won't really have good numbers until I get back out on the open road, but for now I am pretty excited about that change.

On the Run

I am running about 12 miles a week right now, and will stick there for a while. The knee still isn't 100%, so I am just going to sit back and see what the Training Stress brings. 

Moving Forward

Honestly, I'm not quite sure how to proceed. I do have an early-season camp and race on the schedule, but I am in no way interested in ramping up my training too aggressively. I need to get back to doing those basic exercises that will help me maintain hip strength and mobility.

Hard to believe it, but January was one of my more active months over the last half year. It's great to be back on track and I hope to keep my ego in check until I can get back on track was some more consistency. 

As always, thank you so much for reading!

~ P

January 2017 Not Training Update

January 2017, and I'm long overdue for another update. As always, I want to thank all of you for your support and continue it interest in my rehabilitation.

It is been a while, allow me to give you a brief recap. After time off to allow my hip to recover, I got back and exercise. I had a fantastic 8 to 10 weeks of good training. My bike and run levels were pretty comparable with what I've seen before in terms of high-end output. The endurance wasn't there, but overall I felt pretty good.

Towards the end of that, I began to notice that my left knee didn't feel so good. That continued to worsen to the point where it became uncomfortable and very stiff. I decided to shut my training down again, and return for another MRI. 

The MRI came back with a note that nothing was structurally wrong. The only thing present there was potentially a Baker's Cyst, which typically arises when there's some kind of friction or issue inside the knee joint. I am currently in the process of waiting to see a second opinion this month up in Boston. 

As you know, navigating the healthcare system is challenging and not everyone has the time or interest to give you 110% of their time when evaluating your stuff. My first opinion left a great deal to be desired. 

At the present time I am keeping myself seen by swimming and lifting weights. I am trying to get back on the bike with an updated fit appointment scheduled for mid January with Todd at TT Bike Fit. I think I found a way I can ride the bike relatively pain-free, but I need to confirm that my position is good on the road bike and I'm hundred percent.

Overall I'm pretty pumped with where I am in terms of an activity level, but I do miss all the training that kept me skinny. Winter has only taken its toll, but I'm making the most of this time to focus on work and family. I look forward to having a more detailed and hopefully much more inspiring update for you all in a couple weeks. 

I hope your new year was awesome and that you are excited to have a fantastic season. Endurance Nation has a great membership promotion going on right now and we are ready to help you be your best!

The 5 Love Languages of Children

Go to the Amazon Page for more info. 

Premise is that our kids have specific ways that they both feel and express love. In order to meet their needs, we as parents have to find a way to "fill their emotional tanks" using the type of love that resonates most with our children. 

This is a lifelong journey, ideally started with younger (ages 5-7) kids. But it's never too late to engage your kids where they are at, especially since the love they "need" will likely change over time as they age. 

Takeaway: It was helpful to have love defined in categories. I have definitely had moments of extreme love (and the opposite!) with my girls, and I intuitively I feel as though I know what they need. But reading this book opened my eyes to other types of love that my kids display. Most importantly, it helped me define ways in which I can better meet those needs. 

If it sounds like a massive project, it's not. Start with the first six chapters (total of 93 pages). By that time you'll have covered each of the five languages and will likely know where you are strong and where you can improve. 

For reference, the five love languages are:
  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service 

Note that there are strong religious undertones in the book -- they are values that complement the content of the book, but one doesn't depend upon the other. 

If you've got kids that you're trying to figure out, this is a great, quick read to help you up your game. I hope you enjoy it and welcome your comments below.  

October 2016 Training Update

After a few weeks of consistency, I had built my bike and run fitness up to a pretty stable level. I was running approximately 12 to 15 miles a week and then cycling somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 to 5 hours a week. Overall very pleased with the results and excited to head into the fall/winter for the OutSeason®. But first, we had to head to the Big Island to support Endurance Nation!

Normally I'm going to race, but this year it was to work. I have to say, it's much easier to race there than it is to work for 10 straight days. We did get that one day of relaxation on the beach though. :-) 

From a training perspective I decided not to bring my bike so I wouldn't be tempted to disappear for hours every day. So instead I focused on running and swimming. The run felt okay, not great. The rolling terrain really made a challenging to run as smoothly as I wanted… Not to mention the heat! 

I was able to swim several times which was incredible, but I did feel a bit in my hip flexors / psoas area which still clearly needs some love. 

All in all I felt pretty good about staying consistent while I was there despite not having a sometimes extreme. 

When I came back, it was right back to work. 15 miles a week on the run, and back to my cycling routine while the weather lasted. 

I think I might've been a bit too aggressive in coming back, because after a week or so I started to notice my left knee had some tightness behind it. 

I normally have a click in the patella with no pain but all of a sudden there was some discomfort in keeping my knee bent. I first noticed this on the plane flying back from Hawaii. It was really hard to keep my legs just in a bent position without stretching them several times underneath the chair in front of me. 

After doing some self-care and research I decided to visit my good friend Mike Silva at Foundation Performance in Pawtucket Rhode Island. He definitely found some swelling under the kneecap. He advised me to shut it down for a while as we began a protocol of soft tissue work. 

Given that a week is such a small window of time in my overall career as an athlete, I have no problem shutting it down. I will complain about it though!!!! 

Today is my first training session "back," and I'm headed off to the pool to try and get some aerobic exercise as we continue Project Put Coach Patrick Back Together Again. 

On a macro level I guess I shouldn't be surprised that given how much time I took off – approximately five months – that it should take a long time to get back to healthy training. I am pleased that my cycling efforts and my run speed were almost equal to what I had had before I stop training…I was running sub-7s and pushing good watts on my road bike. 

A good reminder that my fitness is there when my body is ready to handle the work. 

Thanks for reading! I hope your training is going well and I hope you have a better update for you come December.

September Training Update

August was a big month for our family as we finished up supporting Maura through her Ironman Lake Placid (number seven!) With the house stuff complete and Lake Placid behind us we spent the better part of August enjoying the summer. Lots of good travel visiting friends and generally having a lot of fun! 

Hard to believe it's already gone and we're back in school. But I won't lie - I am enjoying the routine that school brings.

From a training perspective I feel like things have turned a corner. A small corner at that, but still we've made a turn. I have been able to create a basic schedule that keeps me moving forward. 

This is how I set it up:

First I established a run walk approach. What started off as 30 seconds of jogging and one minute of walking over the course of four weeks turned into a few consistent but short runs. At the present time I am running three times a week for a total of about 12 miles. Nothing like I used to do but light years ahead of where I once was. Progress is sweet. 

In addition to this run schedule I am staying consistent on the bike. While I have been conservative on the run, I have approach the bike is two hard weekday rides followed by a steadier endurance weekend session. This gets me above five hours a week cycling and I believe has complemented the work I have done on the run.

But What Does That Mean for My Body?

Well...this is a gray area. 

When I first started returning to exercise everything hurt. Not only did my hip feel out of whack my entire body did. My knees were sore, my calves were tight, the lower back is tight. Definitely a preview of how life will be in a decade or so! 

I kept the effort down though and remain consistent, and over time the basic aches and pains have faded away. What I'm left with the clear need to maintain the self-care routine that will protect my hip. 

I've been very consistent with my weekly core exercises as you can see from my tracker. I have also been doing some stretching in the evenings as a complementary effort to stay loose. I am no longer in physical therapy but I do get some ART work done on my psoas and my hip. I plan to keep that going as I continue a slow trajectory my return path. 

I have no illusions that I will suddenly be out running 30 mile weeks. However I'm excited enough with the prospect of training like a normal human being that I still need to focus on restraining myself.

What's Next?

As of right now I have no immediate goals for performance other than to remain healthy. As you'll see from my Strava Feed I am still nowhere near getting into a pool. This initially was because kicking and flip turning put my hip under some additional stress. 

At this point, the schedule is just so busy that I don't necessarily have the window. If I get my act together for September, I will begin doing some strengthening work with the same chords to get back in the groove of proper swim training. 

I'm excited to head to Hawaii later this month to support our teammates competing at the world championships. It's such a great venue and I'm really excited to hold our second annual Kona Training Camp there.

A New Camp in the Works...

In other news, I am outlining the training camp to happen in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts. Dates will be Wednesday July 5th (arrival) through Sunday July 9th (final ride and departure) 2017. 

This will be a first year camp that I will open to veterans first so we can see if it's viable. The riding out there is fantastic, the weather is perfect for the middle of the year, and it's incredibly accessible to both Boston (90 minute drive) and other major metropolitan areas. 

For a sample check out the epic ride day to Mount Greylock here -- 9500 feet of gain!

Bonus that there's tons of great breweries out there as well! If you're interested you should shoot me an email:  patrick (dot) mccrann (at) gmail (dot) com. Put the subject Berkshire Bike Bash in it. 

Thanks for reading...I hope your training is going well. I'll be in touch with you guys next month.

~ Coach P

Training Update - Ready Or Not

Last month was definitely crazy as we closed out the school year and moved back into our house. There was just so much to do between home and work that training was almost nonexistent for me. Bonus that my incredible wife was doing her sixth Ironman® in Lake Placid. That meant getting all the logistics ready for travel and for equipment and supporting her over those critical final weeks.

Background: For those of you who might not know / remember, I stopped running in February due to some quad and hip pain. After many visits and multiple MRIs, we decided that Physical Therapy was the way to go.

I was beyond not doing my exercises -- I was blatantly getting worse. But now that we are through to the other side I have started to carve out a basic schedule for myself. Talking with my physical therapist we feel like it's time that I gradually start a "Return to Running" program. 

After several sessions on the incredible Alter G treadmill, it's clear that I can't keep driving into the city just to run on this device. It kills my schedule and I'm not so injured that I'm unable to run. So this is where I'm at:

The (Not) Run

I'm running every other day for roughly 15 minutes. During that time I'm doing a run walk protocol where I will run for 20 to 30 seconds and then walk for a minute. The goal is to gradually increase the time spent running so that I am soon running 15 minutes. 

When I told my neighbor of the plan, he told me to hold on while he got his running shoes because this is the only time he could actually run. :-) It's a humble restart, but it's the best way to go. This way I don't do any unnecessary damage to my body and I can easily monitor how I progress. 

The Bike

Express on the days that I'm not running, I'm our riding my road bike. I am roughly in my fourth week of consistent riding. That means between three and five rides a week depending on the schedule. 

I have been riding tempo during the week and, if I can get out on the weekends, with friends a much easier pace. Many of my friends are training for this weekend's Pan Mass challenge. This is an incredible event fundraiser. You can check it out online here

I have watched each week as my power has slowly come around. At the same time my heart rate has also dropped. Is a very easy to see indication that I'm getting some basic fitness back. In fact, yesterday's ride was like one of the old days with numbers reminiscent of previous fitness. 

Not Swimming

I have not been anywhere near a pool. I have zero desire to swim right now and it doesn't help that camp schedule means extremely limited hours. It's on my radar, but it's not a priority right now.

Strength and Flexibility

Continued rehab – this is going to be a journey for me in terms of getting back up to some level of athletic health. A huge part of that is continuing the strength and flexibility work that my physical therapist originally prescribed. In true Coach Rich fashion, I have created a spreadsheet to track myself. I have set some goals for total reps as well as individual key exercise reps for each month. I have yet to come up with some kind of complementary reward structure, but I think just being able to get out and train without discomfort Is a reward in and of itself.

Body Composition

The big outlier is body composition. Pun intended. Until recently, I simply have not been burning enough calories. Even just eating baseline food was adding weight and it shows. 

While my watts my look good on the bike, that's mostly because I'm trying to get my big old but over the top of each hill. I am going to start making an effort to eat a little more cleanly as we head into the Fall. 

I also need to be better about eating more consistently. I have found that a regular training schedule encourages me to eat on a certain timeline. I either need to eat before work out or I need to eat afterwards because I'm hungry. But without that training stimulus my much more flexible in my calories and are more likely to make poor choices. 

As an example of poor choices I mean sitting down at 9 o'clock at night and eating a crap ton of M&Ms which apparently is a new staple food in my diet. Any tips or advice you have on that would be greatly appreciated. 

As always thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement. I love following your workouts and progress as it reminds me of what it will mean to be healthy once again. 

Talk to you guys next month!

~ Coach P

July Training Update from Coach Patrick (or Lack Thereof)

Time for another monthly update from the land of Coach Patrick. 

Well, I have to be honest and say that June was pretty much a wash. Just as I was getting back on the training train, I was hit with pneumonia. As a result, I was out for two weeks hard core. Although I did get in a great ride with my girls.

I have slowly been working my way back up to being able to exercise and breathe at the same time. :-) This really set me back in my rehab and physical therapy -- I literally couldn't leave my house. 

Now that I'm on the mend, another curveball. We actually just finished moving back into our house!!! 

That's right, the work our house is finally complete. A mere 4 1/2 months after ripping the inside out, our house is put back together and I can literally sit down on my own kitchen counter. I can't overstate the importance of just being back in our own house. I want to thank all of you for your patience this as I have been transitioning through this challenging time. 

Now I'm focusing back on getting into the bicycle and reestablishing my functional strength routine. In all honesty I haven't had a lot of discomfort in my hip because I haven't been active. I'm a little disappointed with losing roughly a month on the return to activity timeline, but have no idea how I could have sustained it all without literally imploding. 

I hope I have more to show you over the coming weeks as you follow me on Strava. But first, we are off to Lake Placid to support my wife as she completes Ironman number seven. It's been a couple years since I've been a Sherpa, but I'm super looking forward to it!

2016 World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day (#worldrefugeeday) and I am asking you to join me in making a small contribution to an organization (your choice) that is making a difference. 

For those of you who might not know, in a former life I worked for the International Rescue Committee in Azerbaijan on a Community Development Project. I worked with “Internally Displaced People” or IDPs. Why IDP? Because you aren’t technically a refugee unless you flee your own country, but there are millions of people who have to flee their towns, and villages around the world. 

I also travelled to Armenia and the Republic of Georgia during my time in the Caucasus. I will never forget how, despite what so many had lost, how resilient and strong these families were. 

Because these refugees aren’t Syrians. Or Sudanese. Or Iraqis. They are families. They are mothers, fathers and children. They are brothers and sisters. 

They don’t live in homes anymore. They live in camps. Or train cars. And those are the lucky ones. There are no schools to speak of. Employment is nonexistent. 

It’s easy to dismiss the flashing images on your smartphone or TV screen as not real, but they are. 

Imagine your town, your country torn apart. No medical care, no rule of law. You have to run, and only the fittest and most determined will survive. 

Take a look at your family. Who would you choose if only half could make it? 

Think that’s sick? 

It. Happens. Every. Day.

This isn’t a movie. It’s real. For the first time ever, the total number of Refugees and Displaced Peoples exceeded 60 million, according to the UNHCR.

There’s not a ton that we can do as onlookers, but one of the best ways to make a difference is to support organizations that are on the ground.

Here are some options for you.

1. You can donate directly to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) online here: http://bit.ly/28IVIXG   This body oversee almost all refugee efforts and is as apolitical as is possible, however it is the organization that funds other organizations…so it’s a step away.

2. Pick a specific organization on the ground using CharityWatch.org — here’s a quick shortcut for you: http://bit.ly/28IRPoS — then go to that organization's website to make a donation.  CharityWatch is independent and rates organizations on financial criteria as well as other facets such as transparency. 

Thanks for reading and for making a difference. 

~ Patrick