Alphabet Soup


Graph borrowed from Graeme Stewart

Now a day’s our lives are full of acronyms. I have acronyms for work, for my kid’s school, for my kid’s games, and of course my exercise.  You will constantly hear or read about FTP and LTHR and HR etc when reading anything on training for endurance sports.  Well I just found a new one, TSS, Training Stress Score.  I have a feeling that this is nothing new to many of you. I had not seen it until I started using Training Peaks to log my training for my coach and TranierRoad for doing my turbo trainer workouts.

Here is the definition from TrainerRoad on TSS:

“TSS is the amount of training stress generated from a workout. The higher this number the more potential fitness you earned from a workout.

To gain the most fitness, you want to earn the most TSS possible.  All of the workouts on TrainerRoad have a TSS score on them.  This means that if you were to ride the workout exactly like it is prescribed you would earn that amount of TSS”

If you were to do an hour at your FTP (the average maximum power you can sustain for 1 hour) you would earn a TSS of 100.  (read here for more)

I think the cool thing about TSS that you don’t get from any of the other measurements (besides time and distance) is that it is a cumulative measurement related to effort.  You get more and more TSS the more you workout each week and the harder you workout, the bigger the TSS. What is cool is even doing easy workouts will still get you TSS.  I think it will give me a more normalized number to compare training week-over-week other than time or distance.

Luckily Training Peaks gives me a TSS for all my activities including swimming.  I may need to analyze TSS from Training Peaks by discipline because the running TSS look really high.  I am excited to add this metric into my analysis of my training.

Link to blog from which I borrowed the graph is here.  He has more data on this topic that involves much more math than I did!

I just want to run

Could these be the solution?

As my miles start to creep up as I train for a half marathon and eventually the Boston marathon my confidence is being shaken.  I am having pain in a new place. And I don’t know what to do.  A year ago I could run all I wanted and nothing hurt. I am not sure what is triggering this.  But I have a list of possible suspects and the possible solutions.

  1. IT band again (don’t really think it is ), but the solution of stretching, foam rolling, and hip/glute strengthening exercises would help regardless.
  2. Shoe issue.   I ran for YEARS in plain old stability shoes (Asics mostly) and NEVER had a problem.  I have been trying to fix my heal striking and therefore have been running in more minimal shoes and right now I run in Newtons.  Maybe I am just such a heavy striker that I can’t make the switch.  The possible solution is different shoes and for this weekends run I am gonna bust out my moon boots (Hoka’s).  They are not the sexiest looking shoes but I don’t really care anymore.
  3. Increase in track work may be tougher on me than I thought.  I have recently started doing organized track workouts and I LOVE them!  Running with a group really pushes me to run faster than when I do them on my own.  The running on a track may be too repetitive.  Solution, mix it up with trails.  This is tough because of my schedule constraints but I just may have to make it happen.

Hopefully I can figure it out soon.  I want so badly to have a strong Boston as well as a strong Challenge Penticton next summer.  But all I really want is to run…

Monday Motivation

As the weather turns colder (for some of us) and there are fewer races on our calendars it gets easy to get a little bit lazy.  Maybe you just came off a big year where you had a bunch of huge races and you are enjoying your downtime a little more than you should.  Whatever the reason, this seems to be a time of the year (for me at least) where I have trouble finding the motivation to stick to a training plan.  So Barb (aka Kelownagurl) were commiserating how we both need a swift kick in the pants to get motivated.  So we have decided to be motivation buddies!  We are defining some goals and plan on getting our butts back in shape!  So look for our tweets with our motivating hashtags as we try to lose a few pounds and improve our fitness levels as we go through the winter months.

You can follow Barb on Twitter at @kelownagurl and I am @Tri BeccaTO (not Toronto).

And remember, Barb and Becca are pretty good…for their age!



November 2011 Training Summary

My plan for the month!

Training Summary

  • Running – 84 Miles / 15:53
  • Swimming – 10 miles/ 5:49
  • Biking – 134 miles/ 9:03
  • Total Distance – 229miles
  • Total Time : 32:48


I did two races this month.  First was the Santa Clarita Marathon.  This was a backup race in case I didn’t BQ in Portland.  Since I did, my plan for this race was to run smart and recover well.  One out of two isn’t bad!  I totally hit the wall at 20ish but I recovered great and felt awesome after the race!  The coolest part was I was the 4th woman overall and I won my age group!  My next race was my first Ultra marathon, a 50K with over 5000 ft of climbing.  I was hoping to do it in 6 hours.  The weather (it rained for more than half of it) and my lack of training specifically for this race played a big part in why it took me over 7:30 hours!  But when all is said and done, I am very pleased with the accomplishment of completing an ultra and three big races in 6 weeks!

Notes on Month

It was a funny month because of two big races which means a lot of recovery time and tapering.  Because of that my times and distances were down from previous months.  Except for my swimming that is…  I used the need for recovery and tapering to increase my time in the pool.  I am very happy to say that my speed that I had this summer is coming back.  I never thought I would enjoy swimming without my master’s team but through the help of some workouts designed by a teammate, I have been trying to make effective use of my time in the pool.  One notable thing was I did 50 miles on my new tri bike.  That was the furthest I had ridden it so far!  I also have been a little better about more consistent core work.

Goals for December

  • I am trying to work on my running form but I am not so sure now is the time to do it…
  • As I say every month, I need to increase my bike mileage
  • I want to have a well-defined plan for my Ironman St. George race.  I will be starting training specifically for this race towards the end of the month.
  • Improve my nutrition
  • Keep smiling through the tough times!

I invested in a pair to help with my running form. I am only walking in them!

The Sufferfest: Hell Hath No Fury Review

I have been using the Suffestfest videos for guided indoor cycling training for a little over 6 months.  There is something about chasing professional cyclists for an hour that makes the workout on a trainer bearable; as well as the awesome music and outstanding commentary. So when I heard that The Sufferfest was doing an all women video I wasn’t quite sure it would have the same draw for me…I was totally wrong.  I wanted to kick those chicks a$$es more than when I ride against the dudes!

First of all I generally train for endurance events (marathons and soon my first full Ironman) so I am not great with workouts that are about short fast intervals.  My body doesn’t work that way.  I think that is why I liked this Sufferfest so much.  It was broken up into four stages (the Tour of Sufferlandria) and the two middle stages were both 20 minutes each.  That length of effort works really well for me.  They both were broken up enough to keep you on your toes with breakaway efforts, hill climbing, and of course sprints.  This Sufferfest, of all the ones I have ever done, really had me feeling like I was in the race.  When you do it you will understand…

Here are the details of the workout:

  • 3:30 Warm-up
  • 5:30 Stage 1: Easy, flat terrain at effort level of 6/10 with a few accelerations
  • 20:00 Stage 2: Rolling terrain with a series of attacks as the pack tries to take the lead from you
  • 6:00 Recovery
  • 20:00 Stage 3: More rolling, attacking racing in which you try to break away to get the lead back
  • 4:00 Recovery
  • 3:30 Stage 4: Team Time Trial in which you have to crush yourself in order to take the lead, and the Tour of Sufferlandria victory
  • 6:00 Recovery, featuring Mental Training Reflection from Athlete’s Audio

It really was the best workout I have done from the Sufferfest.  It had a story that took you from the start to the finish.  I really wanted to make  the Sufferlandria team proud (and I didn’t want to be boiled!)  You must pay attention to the interview during the second recovery period, and enjoy the Mental Training Reflection at the end.  The music was great, the workout was challenging but rewarding, and the footage during the team time trial was amazing!  It is well worth your time because it really simulates real racing scenarios and give you an awesome workout!

October 2011 Training Summary

Training Summary

  • Running – 101 Miles /15:39
  • Swimming – 4 miles/2:25
  • Biking – 131 miles/9:55
  • Total Distance – 236 miles
  • Total Time : 28:52


My “A” marathon of the year was this month, the Portland Marathon.  I had been training for it since July and had realized in the last 8 weeks of training that I was really close to Boston Qualifying.  With that in my head I gave it all I had and successfully qualified for Boston by running 3:34:43.  I had a very difficult recovery because of what an intense effort it was for me but I was finally feeling pretty good about 2 weeks later.

Notes on Month

My overall distance and time was down quite a bit this month due to the taper before the marathon and the recovery after.  I am shocked to see I still ran over 100 miles for the month!  This whole month was really eaten up by the marathon.  But I think it was worth it!  The rest of the month was just about trying to maintain since I have another marathon the first weekend in November and my first 50K on November 20th.  I am really looking forward to the 50K.  I think I will be challenged in a way I never have before.  I think it will be a good test of my will as I get ready to start training for my first Ironman…which I am registered for!!  Thanks to my Cook Train Eat Race Team, I am registered for Ironman St. George on May 5, 2012!

Goals for November

  • Successfully complete another marathon and my first 50K
  • Begin to work on correcting my running form (get off my heels)
  • Increase my swim volume (I have lost a lot of speed in the last three months)
  • Work on a new more consistent training schedule
  • Try to be at peace with my life (long story)

My new favorite shirt...

August 2011 Training Summary

New shoe of the month!

Training Summary

  • Running – 117 Miles /18:22
  • Swimming – 7 miles/3:50
  • Biking – 154 miles/10:17
  • Total Distance – 278 miles
  • Total Time : 32:45


At the last moment I decided to do a half marathon in Ventura.  My running has been going pretty well and I have been fairly consistent with it so it wasn’t hard to decided to do a half last minute.  I met my goal for the race and was very pleased.  I especially needed to do it for a confidence boost as I set my sights on a possible Boston Marathon qualifying run coming up in October.

Notes on Month

Still an extremely stressful month personally.  Some of the changes happening are making it hard to train like I used to. That coupled with a pretty nasty fall trail running (almost broke my ribs), really reduced my overall mileage for the month.  And since  my main focus is getting ready for the Portland Marathon in October, I haven’t been spending time on my bike.  But hopefully that will change soon.  I am getting a Cannondale Slice 5 TT bike in the next couple weeks!  I am really excited to get a new bike.  There is nothing like a new toy to get you motivated to workout sometimes!

Looking at my goals from last month’s training report I really didn’t stick to them.  I didn’t do a great job on my speed work and I didn’t spend more time on my bike.  The one thing I did do that I am really happy with is have another GREAT 20 mile training run. I am very motivated to have a good marathon in October and if I don’t qualify at Portland I have a backup plan….

Goals for Next Month

  • Get on my bike more!
  • Podium at the Carpinteria Olympic Triathlon September 25th
  • Get in some more trail miles to prep for the 50K trail run in November

Operation “Get It Done”

For the last 7 months I have been focusing on triathlon but now that my two 70.3 races are done it is time to switch to marathon mode.  I am training for the Portland Marathon on October 9.  I did this race last year and loved it.  I had set out to run 4:30 and was thrilled to run 4:21. The course was fun even though it rained from start to finish.  I have been running faster since last year so this year I am shooting for sub 4, hopefully 3:50 but  my ultimate goal is under 3:40 (Boston qualifying time).

Today was my first 20 mile run.  The plan I am using is much harder that what I have done in the past so the mileage jumps up pretty quickly.  I haven’t run this far in a very long time.  I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do this run; do it well; and feel good after.  I needed a running confidence boost.  So the mission was “Get It Done”.  I named my new playlist on my iPod “Get It Done” and started out a little before 6 this morning to get it done.

The run went great! I did an out and back run that is hillier than the race course but it has a couple places for water if I ran out.  When I hit the turn I was at and average pace of 9:16 and when I finished I was 9:08 so I negative split the run!  I was cautious to make sure I was good about water, nutrition, and electrolytes.  I got hungry towards the end (had trouble eating before I started) but I had some cut up apples (Pink Ladys, my favorite) which helped for the last couple of miles.

Overall I am really pleased! I have spent so much time on triathlon lately that it is kind of nice to try and focus on my running and just swim and bike to break up the workouts.

Click here for the Garmin details from the run. No heart rate data. Forgot the strap!