MAO Maintenance Program update

18 02 2010

It has now been 3 and a half months since I started to follow Mark Allen Online (MAO) Maintenance Program. I’m just going to say one thing: I AM FEELING GREAT!

Don’t take my word for it though, as you probably know, I’m a number’s guy!

When I first contacted Mark Allen, it was because of Bryan Payne. He is one of my triathlon buddies, a crazy one. One of those guys that go out for a 6 hour bike ride on a Saturday… IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER (-15C)!! In any case, he recommended it, speaking highly about the program.

I sent out an email using an address on their website and to my surprise, a few hours later I got a reply from the man himself, Mark Allen! Not an automated response, but a true response to all my questions! A few emails later, I joined the program. My first task? Take 2 months off. Don’t follow any program.

It took me a while to get used to doing nothing after been on a schedule for so long. But the funny part was that after a few weeks, I was a lazy guy again! It didn’t take me much to enjoy a good BBQ and Beer with no regrets for the performance the next day. This was definitely the time I consumed most wine last year. Not sure it was exactly what Mark meant, but boy was it good!

After the two months flue away, I started training again, and man, was I in bad shape. I could only think “I hope Mark knows what he is doing, because I feel like crap!”. I started following the low heart rate zones, and seriously, it was a joke. My first run I averaged 8.4 km/h, can you imagine that??

It actually took me about 2 months to get back to a reasonable shape, but I’m feeling so good now, it is not funny! I have so much energy, like I haven’t had in a long time. Not sure if I’m quite at the same level I was before my Ironman last year, but I’m no too far off and I’m feeling so much better!

Anyhow, lets go through some numbers.

Swimming

It is hard to provide a lot of numbers for swimming, but I do time every lap I do in the pool and I can give you an average per 100 meters at peak 2009, before MAO and today. Lets use a 400m at medium effort as an example:

  • June 2009 (Peak): 1:45/100m
  • November (before MAO): 1:55/100m
  • Now: 1:45/100m

Don’t ask me why, but I might be even a bit faster than last year! I have considerably cut down on swimming, as I’m trying to follow the distances and intensities of MAO, although I’m still swimming with a masters group, which makes it a bit tricky. I guess that means Less is More!

Bike

I have a LOT of data from the Computrainer, so I can show you a workout on the same course and close HR averages. The thing about the bike on MAO is that it was the only sport I found was really hard. Unlike swimming and running, I found the intensity (feeling) much harder at the prescribed HR. I always had a pretty low HR while biking, and staying in the prescribed zone is quite a bit of an effort. I wouldn’t say it is super hard, but it wasn’t a piece of cake.

I ride a lot the Muskoka IM 70.3 course, as it has a lot of rolling hills, but not very steep. These results are based on WKO+ Normalized power of that course:

  • June 2009: 2 Hours 40 Min, 160W, 127 bpm, 87 rpm
  • November: 1 Hour 45 Min, 148W, 141 bpm, 84 rpm
  • Now: 2 Hours 30 Min, 166W, 140 bpm, 87 rpm

I can’t say I’m as good as I was during my peak last year, as my HR is a about 10% higher while my power is only 4% higher. But considering where I am in my training (i.e. maintenance vs. peak), it is not bad! I am better than at the same time last year!!

Run

Now this is hard to compare. I used to run between 155 to 165 bpm on my base runs (~12km/h)… and the prescribed HR zones are so much lower (127 to 147 on long runs). Having said that, I started to do some easy runs (140 to 150 bpm) closer to the IM France race  (example below). In any case, I can say that it used to be hard to run 1:30 hours and today it is soooooo easy (although slower):

  • June 2009:  1hour, 10.8 km/h, 147 bpm (no cadence data at the time)
  • November (treadmill): 50 min, 8.4 km/h, 140 bpm, 79 rpm
  • Now (treadmill): 45 min, 10.5 km/h, 144 bpm, 84 rpm

In other words, not quite as good as I was on my peak last year, but strangely enough, it looks like I’m not that far. I guess when you’re bad at a sport, it is easy to get back to it! 🙂

Weight

Yea, well the two months not working out much plus wine, beer, bbq… was a uphill battle:

  • June 2009: 88 kg
  • November: 94 kg
  • Now: 92.5 kg

The extra weight is going to be a problem, specially biking, as it is about 5% hit in the performance. I hope overtime I will lose the extra chubbiness.

I’m not so convinced that it is all fat though. I might have added a bit of muscle too with the strengthening, which I’m doing… 1.5 times a week!

Summary

I’m feeling GREAT. I can’t remember having so much energy in a long time. I’m really looking forward for this season! I have a feeling it will be a good one… 🙂

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