The Road Bach #4 - Progress!

Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 16:15

BOOM! My testosterone levels are way up and I'm feeling great. I'm making major progress down my road to recovery - the crazy fatigue I was feeling is all but gone, my libido is way back, and my body recovers from workouts and injury faster than last year. In even bigger news, we're having a baby!!! Those of you who listen to Endurance Planet will already know that from our latest episode. The pic on this blog is how we announced publicly (because once it's on Facebook, it's official?).

Her name will be Summer Elizabeth Bach and we're very excited to be bringing her into our lives after trying for a year (and having two early miscarriages). As you might expect, her arrival will affect my athletic plans, but I'll get to that in a bit.

 

I've been meaning to write this one for a couple of weeks now but things kept getting in the way, things that dudes with a lot of testosterone do...like lift heavy things, scarf down steaks, build things, start bar brawls, and women (well...woman in my case. Hi Lauren smiley). I'm only sort of joking.

 

I've been feeling better and better, but then the blood work proved it. My latest number came back at 599!? Here's an updated chart of my testosterone levels with reference numbers so you know what it all means:

Here's what I've done to get these huge results (all done naturally, careful not to have or do anything banned by USADA):

- Decrease my endurance training load from ~15hrs per week of fairly intense training to ~7hrs of mostly aerobic, not-so-intense training

- More sleep! I used to get 7.5ish hours per night while training a lot. Now I'm getting 8-9 hours per night training less. Big swing.

- Increase my strength training from 1-2 sessions per week to 3-4 sessions of fairly intense lifting, including CrossFit twice per week.

- Supplements. I've been taking a host of all-natural supplements since May when I learned how unhealthy I was. These include Omega-3 fish oil (Zone OmegaRx, very pure), zinc, pregnenolone, Mitocore Multivitamin (also helps with my bone density), CoQ10, magnesium, and adaptogenic herbs that help with HPA axis regulation (calming and sleep).

- Being more relaxed, sometimes through meditation and breathing.

- Keeping an eye on nutrition and fueling needs to be sure I'm not causing my body any undue stress (we get enough of it from training and everyday life right!?)

- Packing on some body weight/fat. I'm not sure if it played a role in my hormone issues or not, but just to be safe, I now weigh 163lbs, and strangely still feel lean.

 

You might ask..."is it all worth it? You've sacrificed fitness, training and races, but what do you really have to show for it? Will you ever be able to go back to heavier training loads?" They're good questions and I don't fully know the answers, but I believe it will all be worth it. Yes, I've sacrificed performance to the tune of 15% by decreasing my training, but what I've gained back is my health. With good health as my foundation, I hope to raise that fitness again without sacrificing what I've earned. That's the part that remains to be seen, but pioneers like Cody Beals and Sarah Piampiano have showed me that it's possible, so I am hopeful.

In other news, I've been able to run a whopping 5 miles at a time, outdoors, full body-weight, without any issues with my bones (like recurrences of bone stress injuries) or my Achilles, which had been chronic problems. This is thanks to routine adjustments and therapy by Dr. Todd at All-Pro Health and Josh Grahlman at Clutch Physical Therapy. I highly recommend both of them as they have helped me to keep my body together over the years.

 

Finally, here's a little update on my plan going forward. It's hard to really plan because there is so much uncertainty around the birth of our first child and with the pace of my recovery, but here's what I've got:

Between now and the end of the year: Swimming 4x per week, strength 4x per week (including CrossFit), run 2x per week and get it back up to 10+ miles at once, bike 1-2x per week. Get back some base fitness so that in...

January - March 2017: Build off of that foundation and get into "fighting shape" for Puerto Rico 70.3, my anticipated return to the sport!

April - June 2017: Babytime! No focused training, just caring for my wife and our little one, and getting in what training I can.

July onward: ???Late summer or fall racing??? Only God knows at this point, but I am excited that maybe, just maybe, I'll be Bach.

 

Train Health, Train Happy,

Matt

 

 

When More is Less

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 14:00

This blog is a quick one about how more is not always more. The "hellth hole" I'm climbing out of is proof of that, but there are many other instances in training and in life where balance is key! Read on...

When many of us first start this crazy sport, we're doing a few workouts per week and decide "hey, why not? It could be fun" and sign up for a sprint triathlon. Our first race sets the bar, and then a strangely large percentage of us "catch the bug" and want to see how much better we could do if we actually knew what we were doing, and trained...like, for real. I know this because I had the same thoughts after my first triathlon. Here's a profile of what it looked like:

  • Running shorts under my wetsuit
  • Toe straps on my dad's 1980 steel-framed Peugeot that must have weighed 30+ pounds
  • Rode in one gear the whole time because it was too hard to switch gears using the two levers by the headtube
  • Floundering in the pool once per week, spinning twice per week, one devastating abs class and a couple of runs defined my training regimen

It was pretty ugly, but I loved it.

So we step it up a notch, and might even decide to take on a long race like a 70.3 or Ironman. Maybe the 4 hours per week of training becomes 7 hours per week, and at your next race, boom! improvement. "Great, so I added training and I got better. What if I trained 10 hours per week???" You bag the weekly poker sesh with the gang to get another workout in, and at your next race you are rewarded with another PR. Now your wife is taking the kids to soccer practice so that you can leak salty water all over a black ribbon for an extra two hours every Saturday. It's at approximately this point where things go wrong. We, as human beings, tend to see patterns, but in this case our recognition of increased training equating to increased performance as a linear relationship is flawed. It is not linear! It seems fairly linear at first, but then we experience diminishing returns...then a plateau (called "the plateau")...and then a decline (overtraining).

Here's my crude illustration:

The "Me" is where I was during 2012, 2013 and 2015. In 2014 and early 2016 (before the injury came), I had better balance and was on the right track. I could tell because I had a life, and was improving quickly. Less became more.

There's another thing that makes us type A triathletes susceptible to overtraining and it's our mental strength / willpower / discipline. Paraphrasing Matt Fitzgerald's new book How Bad Do You Want It?..."in baseball, or many other sports, perception of effort plays only a small role, whereas in endurance sports, it is everything." Many of you, whether you are consciously aware or not, are drawn to triathlon because you have a higher degree of mental toughness than the average person. It is part of the reason why you are successful in this arena. Your mental toughness results in better and more training, and you are rewarded with increases in fitness and performance. For me, that held true and was part of the beauty of triathlon. Until it didn't. Until the extra work that I had managed to add into my schedule resulted in a derailment of my health and performance. We are a sport dominated by mentally tough go-getters who like that more results in more, and we must be careful because at some point, more becomes less.

 

Train Healthy, Train Happy,

Matt

 

Training Update Mid-February 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 15:15

I'm finally firing on all cylinders! After having a bit of a rough start to 2016 due to little injuries pestering me like mosquitoes, and the lingering of my Achilles problem from last year, I'm now back in the groove. The patience I wrote about a couple of weeks ago is paying off as the injuries have subsided and I feel more resilient and injury-free than I've been since mid last season. Here is an example of what my training looks like nowadays:

Monday AM - Ride shorter, more intense intervals on the CompuTrainer at Tailwind Endurance for 1hr 15min. Do 30min of stability and plyometrics off the bike

Monday PM - OFF, maybe a massage

 

Tuesday AM - Run around 10 miles with Fartlek intervals in Summit, NJ

Tuesday PM - Swim a coach-prescribed set, around 1hr 15min at John Jay College in NYC

 

Wednesday AM - Ride longer intervals on the CompuTrainer at Tailwind Endurance for 1hr 30min. Do 15min of core work off the bike

Wednesday PM - See Doctor Todd for treatment

 

Thursday AM - OFF

Thursday midday - See Josh Grahlman in NYC for treatment and 1hr of strength conditioning

Thursday PM - Run around 10 miles with longer intervals on the West Side Highway path and Central Park in NYC

 

Friday AM - Run to the pool and Swim at Hoboken Masters for 1hr 15min

Friday PM - Spin an easy 1hr 15min at Tailwind Endurance, then roll, stretch, do yoga, or whatever else I find to be therapeutic and recovery-based

 

Saturday - "Long" Ride of 2hrs on the trainer, mainly drill, endurance and tempo-based, with a short run (~15min) off the bike

 

Sunday - "Long" Run of around 14 miles then Swim 2hrs at Berkeley Aquatics

 

That's 3 main runs, 3 swims, 4 rides, and 3 strength sessions per week totaling around 15 hours of training. My coach and I have found this to be a good balance of training that allows for enough recovery, and for me to always feel like I have "extra bandwidth" in my schedule (very important!). On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I'm up before 5am so my wife and I are like old people because we go to bed at 9:30pm every night! Keep in mind, the above schedule is just one week during the base phase of training. Each week is a bit (or a lot) different depending on the time of the season, whether it's a "down week" or not, or whether I have life events that step in to remind me to be a "normal" person every once in a while. Consistency is king, but there should be some ebbing and flowing in your training too.

My swimming is just coming back into form after a month off due to some arm injuries (rookie mistakes), and my running is also just coming back after many torturous months of Achilles pain after Kona last year. Fortunately, I've been able to devote the extra energy to my cycling and strength work. I did an FTP test a few weeks ago (303w FTP) and am close to where I was the last time I tested back in March of last year (312w FTP). Normally, I dread FTP tests because they're so brutal! But this next one I'm kind of looking forward to because I want to see if I can exceed where I was last year in March, in February.

I just did my first Masters Swim meet ever! I swam the 100IM, 100 backstroke, the 50 backstroke as part of a 200 medley relay, the 200 free and the 50 free as part of the 200 free relay. I had a blast! I swam faster than expected given how little swimming I've done. You can see my Facebook page for more of a recap.

I'm also going to the wind tunnel next month! I'm stoked to see what kind of "free speed" I might find in that expensive hurricane chamber...

Even with all of this training, I still manage to do almost all of it alongside training partners - I love training with people! If anything here piques your interest, message me on Facebook or email me at matthew.j.bach@gmail.com, and maybe we can get together for a training session. Always happy to answer questions too!

Happy Training!

 

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