Thursday, December 21, 2017

Analysis Paralysis (Or Why I Gained Weight)

You can analyze the past, but you have to design the future.
---Edward de Bono

I've been whacking my brain for a few days now trying to find out why I have gained weight since around late October this year. Prior to that, I was averaging around 167-168lbs but have gained around 3 lbs on average every time I weight most mornings ---despite continuous training.

I have a good idea that one major culprit is the weekend eating at restaurants and weekday lunch outs but I needed to get further info based on my training logs.

Good thing I use Trainingpeaks, which has kept a record of all my training logs since I first signed up (2014).

After a little Excel-ling, hehe, what I found confirmed my hunch.

Before I show you (7 or so faithful followers) the charts, take note that I have noticed the weight gain around early November.

Below shows my run and bike distance per week:

If you look closely, the bike distance (orange) started tapering off around August and has not gone back up to the 100km per week that I had on most weeks prior to that. The run distance (blue) remained constant up until mid-October which was a day after my first 21k race for the year. It hasn't come back up to pre Nutriasia 21k mileage after that.

Next up, we have the calories burned per week. It was hovering at around 3500-4000 calories per week up until that drop in mid October ---same time as mentioned above--- and has not recovered decently since then.

With that in mind, recall what I mentioned earlier that I noticed the weight gain around early November, gaining roughly 3-4 lbs (which I can't seem to bring down since then).

Next, I looked at the average for certain time frames for this year as I needed to get further proof of the drop. I was able to find the root cause (which only stated the obvious):

The decrease in run and bike volume per week since mid October to deprived me of about 613 calories that I could've burned. The run distance per week loss (-6.5%) was very minimal but the rides (-15.8%) may have done the damage. 

I am able to back this bike distance per week deficiency due to Saturday am family obligations that I needed to attend to during that period ---which was the same sked as my weekly long ride (that contributes about 50% of my target ride distance).

What I needed for more analysis is the calories taken in per week (unfortunately I couldn't/wouldn't log my daily calorie intake) which could've made for a better study but the above will have to do for now. Of course, eating less would have to be a given due to the 80/20 diet/exercise theory but I guess I will have to be more conscious of it moving forward (bad timing now though due to the Holiday season, hehe) along with increasing my run and ride weekly volume back up again.

As family obligations will still be around and CANNOT be deprioritized, I will have to find my way around it to get my training done. Maybe wake up at an earlier time or work out during the evenings would be possible? Hmmmm....

As they say, knowing the problem is half the solution. Acting on it would be an entire thing on its own.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Training for Taipei 21k & Trainerroad

My runs have been quite successful pace-wise lately, but much has has to be said for my long runs. As I am about 2 weeks away from race day, I would have to start tapering off by next week. My long runs have been wanting (16k was my max a few weeks ago) so I would have to log a solid 18k this Sunday to prep me mentally and physically for Dec 30th.

The endless kainan (parties, lunch outs, weekend binging, etc.) are not helping to resolve my weight problem ---I have even gained 3-4 lbs. Ugh. I am trying to do some semi Keto eating but the semi part of it is just not making it lower my weight (I love desserts too much).

This festive season will definitely add more pounds but what's keeping me from falling off the wagon completely (I am still clinging onto it for dear life) is that I am still motivated to run, which burns more calories vs rides, due to my upcoming race. At least, somehow I think, it offsets the calories I put in.

Hopefully, I get to resolve this mindless eating soon so that my running pace is not affected dramatically.


I am 3 weeks into the Low Volume Sweet Spot Base plan from Trainerroad (TR) that I started subscribing to since Oct (as a bday slash motivational gift to myself) along with an Elite Qubo Smart Trainer. It was either I bought a new bike frame (aero road) vs the smart trainer. After endless debates on my head, I opted for the latter due to a cheaper cash layout and, hopefully, a better way to increase my FTP instead of improving my rides aesthetically.

TR is a software used for indoor cycling training similar to Zwift and The Sufferfest.

Having been a user of The Sufferfest (video download versions) for the past 3 or so years, I decided that I needed to improve on my cycling for races. Sufferfest (video download versions) don't have that structure for me as I just tend to put it on my training schedule as I wished. There had to be a better way I said to myself.

Recommended by a friend slash semipro cyclist, I found TR to be more "present" in terms of training structure. Its dashboard is pretty basic, i.e. not much to look at except for the ride data. It doesn't have the "badass" theme that The Sufferfest has but TR makes up for it by way of endless number of workouts, and a very structured Base-Build-Specialty phase workout plans that you can follow on your own. Plus, the dashboard grows on you eventually. ;-)

Screenshots from the phone version c/o

The on-workout messages prepared by the people at TR is very good as it guides you throughout the workout. It "talks" to you on how to improve form, how you breathe, and what the workout is for. It helps you on what to do should similar difficult situations are encountered once you ride outside. It teaches you to be relaxed even if deep within you are suffering, to pay always attention to your form, and guides you through improving your own pedaling with consideration of the 4 quadrant phases of the pedal cycle.

You can play YouTube videos that you like (especially for 1.5 hour workouts) on the background and minimize the TR screen so that the two (YT and TR) share approximately 75/25 of your screen which is good enough for me. Alternatively, you can also install Spotify on your phone or laptop and play it while you do the TR workout.

I hope to see increases in my FTP in the coming months as I prepare for my 2018 racing season. Even without an aero frame or a tri bike (for now, hehe), the training that TR will provide will hopefully give me that edge to improve on my bike race speed and mental toughness.