Dan Wilson

DAN WILSON ---- Professional Athlete ---- Part-time Wordsmith

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sleep High, Train Slow, Part Deux: The Dark Height

I was enjoying an idle conversation (as most of my conversations are wont to be) with a college recently. As our dialogue meandered through several high brow topics (US economy, Libya's political future, Kim Kardashian) we eventually stumbled upon the altitude tent and associated paraphernalia that comes with partaking in such an esoteric pastime. (For newcomers to the blog curious to how such a premise might made as to my nocturnal habitat, catch up here) As I presented a verbal inventory listing the associated gadgetry pertaining to such pastimes, the comment was made, ‘Good god, so many gadgets, you’re like batman’.
Naturally, I maintained a cool exterior, laughing off the comment, and resumed sampling the tasting platter of topics at our cognitive disposal. Meanwhile, inside my head, my metaphorical eyes widened, ‘Bloody hell, she’s right! I’m bloody Batman! You’ve found your calling Wilson!’ I enjoyed a furtive daydream of swooping from the buildings of Sandgate to rescue endangered civilians, clinging to dangling heart-rate straps as they are whisked to safety, whilst delivering physio-tape bound villains to the authorities with a debonaire flourish and a witty pun. ‘If only his track record involved 400m reps, and not crimes...’  Thankfully, reality soon put an end to such unrealistic rumination, but spurred me to list said paraphernalia, for all the agog boffins out there to salivate over. Current equipment outside the average triathletes arsenal is as follows:

Altitude Tent - Who saw that one coming?
Fingertip Oximeter - Measures pulse, and O2 saturation of your blood. Also fun to see how low you can get by holding your breath.
O2 Atmospheric Monitor - Measures O2 levels in the tent. Asphyxiation paranoia was put to rest by checking this sucker roughly every 5 minutes during my debut ‘sleep’. 
Power Breathe - Used to check respiratory power. Good to check for training benefits of altitude, fatigue levels, and, more commonly, who is the Alpha male in the room at any point in time
USG - Provides hydration status, and, depending on how and where some athletes leave urine samples, hygiene status.
SRM - The bludgeometre. 
SRM with heart rate - The bludgeometre, with a back up mate, saying “Yep, we’re accurate, you’re soft”.
Garmin - Much like a scientifically analysed stool sample, this one tells you everything you need to know about your runs
Suunto Heart Rate Monitor: Measures differences in heart rate rhythms by analysing duration of individual heart beats. Good for gadgetry one-upsmanship, ‘What, you just get the overall heart rate? Fair enough... you only do this for fun, don’t you?’ Secondary function monitors fatigue.
Cadbury’s Chocolate (250g): Good for fatigue, anxiety, depression, muscle soreness, dehydration, over-hydration, restlessness, drowsiness, and mild forms of leprosy.
Cadbury’s Chocolate (100g): In case the above should run out before a trip to the shops is feasible
Coles Brand Belgium Chocolate (250g) - In case the above(s) should run out before additional funds are feasible.
Coffee - Black, just like I like my metal. Double espresso cures what ails thee. 

Altitude Machine, set to 'Matterhorn'
Wilson, as a sherpa, O2 saturation 87%, HR 62
Wilson, at sea level, O2 saturation 98%, HR 50

Bike VO2 Test - Unwinnable test to fatigue. Gives VO2 max, and values for various thresholds. Sometimes not with specific numbers and values, but phrases involving words like ‘weak’, ‘slow’, and ‘you’re bloody useless, Wilson’ 
Bike Fatigue Status - Shorter version of the VO2 test, finishes with 3 mins at max, designed to asses fatigue levels, as well as facial expressions during heavy stress.
Swim step test - 5 x 200m descending to max. Measures speed and stroke efficiency. The latter of which tends to get thrown out the window like a TV in Led Zeppelins hotel room during the final rep. 
Run VO2 test - Another unwinnable test, similar to the bike. Personal history suggests asking your scientist of choice to sign a contract claiming they will turn off the treadmill promptly should you fall to the belt when fatigue sets in. Continuing to record numbers whilst one is being sanded on the belt like an oak cabinet is not a way to endear yourself to a subject.
Mood Status Measure: Measured in gags-per-minute or banter-per-session. If I’m fresh enough to tell jokes during a short rest swim set, workload is increased. 
It’s important to note that this overwhelming cache of equipment and monitoring does not replace, and is redundant without, prodigious volumes of hard work. The ‘art’ of training still dictates sessions, only then does the analysis of said data from the ready and willing efforts of my coach and support team provide supplementary information as to whether this matches the aspirational direction of our training. Which is, ‘To go fast’. Of course.
Until next time good people of Gotham,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Tie and Years Gone By

Saturday night held a soiree of tie-wearing significance. Not vestments I am traditionally comfortable or familiar with, however my attires discombobulation was well warranted to attend the Queensland Academy of Sport (or QAS for the acronymicly inclined) 20th anniversary awards dinner. Highlighted with more dazzling luminaries than the Northern Lights, the room oozed excellence, and I was a sponge, desperate to soak up the burgeoning brilliance rife in such a cohort, rubbing shoulders with Queensland superstars such as Sally Pearson, Steph Rice and triathlon’s own Emma Snowsill. 
Given that my day had entailed 5 hours on the bike and a run in the arvo, I was equally excited to see both the food, and the top 10 QAS athletes of the decade, presented for us to savor. Once I had cleaned the food scraps of my plate, face, and the neighboring gentleman’s suit, I listened with slightly more vigor, as one does not pass the opportunity to heed advice given by wise heads, whose necks have strained with the enviable burden of Olympic gold.  
Aside from the aforementioned Snowy, repping for the triathlon coterie was QAS coach Steve Moss, and training partners Sam Betten and Emma Jackson, who herself has picked up enough gongs this year to make her own Kung Fu movie soundtrack. Attached is a snapshot of the occasion, featuring the newly anointed Top 10 QAS athletes of the decade. In other awards, Sally Pearson won Athlete of the Year, and I was narrowly beaten for the ‘Worst Mo Grown By A Blogging Triathlete Award’. Next year then. 

Take care friends,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sleep High, Train Slow

Four posts in, and the time seems rife to share with the loyal readers some of the recent nocturnal activity from my bedroom. Now, currently a small proportion of readers are leaning forward in their chairs, eager for some Jane Austen-like tales of lust and passion. Presumably, however, a large proportion of readers are also leaning forward in their chairs,  purely to avoid vomiting in their laps. Whoa there friends, you are getting ahead of yourselves. Alarmingly, the only activity of note stemming from my boudoir, is the installation of an altitude tent. The benefits of altitude training, and in my case the notion of ‘sleep high, train low’, has been well documented, and if all goes according to script, will help extract a little extra performance come race time, which, at the end of the day, is what this training caper is all about. So as idly mused, I can now claim to my feminine fans that a night with me is scientifically guaranteed to come with aerobic benefits. Carrying a series of scientific journals to support this fact would surely be the pragmatic and endearing thing to bring to my next date. If I wanted her to say, excuse herself politely and break several speed limits on the way home. 
My current room-mates are about as familiar with sports as I am with Russian verbs. Thus, appropriate explanation for such installation was met with blank stares, similar to my explanation of why government sanctioned drug testers came knocking several weeks ago. Drug addiction suspicions put to rest, this weeks explanation also satisfied warranted inquisitiveness, also adding to my intrigue nicely. The tent resembles a cross between Magneto’s jail in X-men, or as I like to flatter myself, something that might be used at a zoo to cage a lion or cheetah - similar wild, ruthless animals to myself. Although as was quickly pointed out, they also keep wombats behind such enclosures, but I brush of this sarcasm and ignore their feeble lampooning of throwing vegetable scraps into the tent for me to ‘graze’ upon. 
Now, my room can get so hot in the afternoon that on some occasions muffins have been known to overcook in my cupboard. Thus, we have ‘pimped’ my ‘crib’ (a small part of me died with this vernacular), by adding an air-conditioner. A chilled environment is therefore guaranteed, allowing bedroom activities such a sleeping, writing your favorite blog, and grooming my Movember Mo, to proceed in an amicable biosphere. 
Brendale, 34m Altitude

Col Du Brendale, 2500m Altitude
(Note the guitar, similar to Jimi Hendrix, I play better when I'm high…)
The forthcoming weeks will unveil how I adapt to such oxygen depleted exposure. The hypothesis is that it will augment my training, and facilitate an increase in such performance related markers as VO2, and various thresholds, hopefully without negatively effecting my training to resemble the title of this post. If it works, I will use it again at carefully selected times throughout the season, and if it doesn't, then perhaps I will have a tent for sale (air-conditioner not included). Stay tuned for progress reports, apparently altitude exposer has been known to increase one’s ability to perpetuate witticisms, so the future quality of prose may be lifted…

Take care friends,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Base Training and Syrup Draining, Part Deux: of Serpents and Sliding

So, to the third installment of superfluous narrative, this week concludes a meandering chronicle of base season and training camps. As alluded to in earlier remarks, annual ritual dictates descending on the endearingly sleepy town of South Golden Beach (SGB). This flood of lycra, legs and lactic acid attracts some quizzical glances from the locals, for many of whom ‘early morning training’ means a rail commute to work. However, most are quick to warm to us, none more so than the owner of the local corner shop, whose vehicle has upgraded from a Pulsar to a Porsche on the back of copious post-ride milkshake sales.  Another memorable interaction with the municipal citizens came mid-run, when our route of choice happened upon mid-afternoon party in full swing. Amid the cat-calls and intellectuals favorite ‘run, Forest, run’, we were soon joined by a stark naked party-goer, who ran with us with instinctive style and distinctive flailing... and not just of his limbs. The attention to detail, such as his compadre driving his car alongside to hand out an isotonic beverage, would have made the scene even more memorable, had the image of a nude-fully-grown man running at 4 minute km already been burnt into our retinas for weeks to come. 
Alas, our whilst the large proportion of my reflections of our southerly sojourn’s consist of hard training, beautiful rides and unrelenting banter, there have less jovial times. Our time last year preceded the floods of Brisbane, and consisted of the type of weather that would have had Noah reaching for the tools once more. Whilst none on camp are opposed to singularly sodden cycle every now and again, the dangers inherent of such pastimes came to surface last year. After a week of prevailing precipitation, it was business (and rain) as usual on a 4 hr ride heading north towards the QLD border. By this time, most of our cast had taken to toting the majority of their swim gear whilst riding, being as much use in the meteorology mayhem as in the pool. As our bunch trudged north, good mate and SGB stalwart Jimmy Seear had the bizarre misadventure of hitting a snake on the road. Unfortunately, given the roads had about as much grip as a watermelon seed on a tiled floor, Jimmy’s back wheel slid out from underneath him, and he hit the deck, and thus both the effectiveness of the pace-line, and Jimmy’s collarbone, was broken. Not wishing Jimmy to crash alone, I promptly cannoned into his bike and threw myself with a rugby-like flair onto the ground, and in the process turned my knee into the anatomical equivalent of peak hour traffic. i.e exceedingly irritating with no apparent progress ahead. This would lead, Butterfly Effect style, to a series of consequences that would have me competing about as effectively celiac in a donut eating contest for the rest of the season. Fortunately, the snake was treated for it’s injuries at the scene and recovered well, needing only minor physio in the weeks to come. Interestingly, the phone conversation that evening with a severely medicated Jimmy made a fascinating case study on what strong drugs coupled with a man with high natural exuberance can do. The man was, and always has, the sort of positivity that would make a positron jealous. 
So, as this column is penned, I’ll have a few more weeks enjoying the fruits of what Brisbane has to offer a sufficiently aspiring athlete, and then head down the Pacific Motorway for another installments of laughter, long rides, and hopefully for fans of the blog, literary musings. Be sure to check back before then to get your fix of antiquated anecdotes and nauseating narrative. 
For those of you desperate for a exhaustive analysis of current training regimes, I have training well recently. Sometimes this involves riding my bike. Sometimes when I ride my bike, I endeavor to capture art-house-ish photos that would no doubt have Andy Warhol turning in his grave. Never-the-less, I choose to share said image, for your ocular enjoyment.

Take care friends

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Base training and syrup draining

Welcome back friends, to the second perpetuation of this humble blog. Firstly, thanks for all the kind words relating to the inceptive post, the amount of positive feedback received is humbling, and usually only associated with slick, power-selling Ebay accounts. The shrewder among you have noticed my association with another, now-long dormant blog involved with the activities of my triathlon club. Sadly disbanded for the last 18 months, those of you nostalgic enough to have an insatiable appetite for now-outdated doggrel  may wish to wander across to sample the wares on offer. I believe it can be accessed through investigation of my profile. 
Now, formalities once again dealt with, let’s draw our focus to the crux of this post. This week I’m pontificating on a somewhat abridged illustration of preseason training. The base phase of the season involves getting back into shape after a end of season break, typically spent consuming industrial quantities of peanut butter and pursing idle recreations that hold less meaning than Kim Kardashians wedding vows. The base phase of the season consists largely of what I call ‘stupid training’, i.e. not too many intricate, specific efforts at certain paces for certain durations- this begins later in the season for specific race preparation. Nay sir, at this time of the year, a typical sessions protocol may be - ride bike out front door, commence pedaling, five hours later, cease pedaling. Big, plain and regular - not unlike a large packet of prunes. And so, the months prior to christmas have become embodied with a certain ritual. 
Rituals habitualised in December over the last few years have consisted of two things. The first, is that I have no idea who I am supposed to buy a gift for in my family’s secret santa, and the second, is that I will have little chance to purchase such a gift, as I will be on a training camp down at South Golden Beach (SGB). In the interest of keeping topics largely germane to my audience, this column will focus on the latter, although suggestions alluding to the former will be appreciated, and can be emailed to danwilson1985@hotmail.com
SGB has been the destination of choice since 2006. The riding here is nothing short of transcendent, as the roads are void of traffic and feature bountiful hills, rising like overly yeasted bread in a hot oven. Intentions for this time of year revolve around creating a solid base with which to build the foundation for the season to come. Thus, activities on camp include, long, banter-filled rides, deep, dream-filled naps and large, cheese-filled meals. Below are a few of the stories accrued during my time at SGB, and paints an admittedly vague, yet colorful picture of life on camp.
Whilst much of typical day on camp is spent in various states of aerobic endeavor, the idle moments between sessions present as much opportunity for leisure as fatigue allows. Due to such aforementioned fatigue, most pastimes have the express goal of expending as little energy as possible. Popular recreations include a lazy swim at the beach, coffee, fishing (which I loathe), or heckling people who are fishing (which I love). 
Keeping with the spirit of keeping amused yet stationary, the playstation has become a mainstay of the camps at SGB. However, having upwards of 5 competitive athletes gathered around a device designed to pit people against one another has it’s consequences. Thus, it’s not uncommon to have heart rates much higher during a particularly spiteful game of Call of Duty, than the preceding 5 hour ride. Rivalries ensure, and one thing led to another of few years back, and a round robin competition was designed to satisfy a household crying out for arbitration on clear winners and losers. Cut-throat competitions have since become a SGB staple. Past winners have clinched bragging rights, sound justification for being overly smug, and one year, the atypical luxury of having Dane Robinson as a personal slave for a day. Losers have obviously been dealt with derision and ridicule, but also been subject to a diabetics nightmare of chugging up to 500 ml of Maple Syrup, and one year, the bona fide humiliation of having Dan Wilson as a master for a day. 
Naturally, such an environment lends itself to some classic banter, which typically precipitates the beginning of further gags. Methodology to such larks have involved such stages as, a mask from the movie Scream, a darkened room, a surreptitious approach, a deafening bellow, and a terrified Emma Moffatt. Another included some procured car keys, a night-time vehicle relocation, and an agitated Wilson convinced of car-theft. Drawing the line can sometimes be a matter of shrewd judgement, a classic example of overstepping the mark involved 2 irrepressible athletes, 3 well-filled water bombs, 1 unsuspecting coach, and, somewhat predictably, 1 set of marching orders back to Brisbane. 
Now, as my typewriter is in danger of overheating, it looks like this post will draw to a close with actually mentioning too much about triathlon in general, or base-training in particular. So, the obvious solution is to turn the SGB post into a two-parter! And with that Prison-Break like cliffhanger, be sure to check back next week for the conclusion to the synopsis of base training and life on camp.
Take care friends,

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bloggin' about Joggin'

Good evening friends, and welcome to Words With Wilson. Where to inaugurate? Such a landmark first post perhaps deserves some explanation of the inspiration for such publication. After we conclude formalities of voicing the reasoning behind the self indulgence of starting a blog, we can quickly get down to the bread and butter of the project - poorly constructed puns shallowly illustrating some irreverent and perhaps irrelevant observations on my life taking the triathlon journey. Ah yes, don’t expect too much high brow philosophising - I almost named this site ‘Swim, Bike, Pun'!
Inspiration comes in many forms, and a short glance or inquisition at any triathlon race soon affirms such a notion. This blogs inspiration stems from the enjoyment I have accrued whilst sampling the myriad of cyber writings authored by my friends and peers in the triathlon world. Some rubbish, to be honest, some brilliant, all entertaining in their own right, with the jewel in the crown undoubtedly the cult-followed memoirs of Josh Amberger, which currently enjoys more hits than a season of UFC bouts. 
Thus, I thought the time was right to jump aboard the blogging bandwagon, and if there’s one thing I enjoy more than writing diarised anecdotes in a cyber-hosted format, it’s jumping on board a bandwagon. Combined with the fact I’m significantly far too lazy and stingy to pay/create a website, the blogosphere conveniently combined my two loves of posting blogs and not paying for things. Ergo, Words With Wilson
Now, working on the knowledge you’ve A) double-clicked your way to a site containing danwilsontriathlete in the address, and B) read this far, I’m going to make a few assumptions. They are, that you know enough about my history to be vaguely interested, but nonetheless are threatening to navigate yourself as far away from this page as possible if a full autobiography of the last 10 years rears it’s tedious head. Rest easy friends, I’ll spare you the details, preferring to subtly work in a few biographical details into further blogs, once I have full command of your attention. It’s a trick I learnt back at my primary school of Narangba (subtle, yeah?). Suffice to say, last season was a bit of a dog (lot of a dog to more honest and accurate), but with a season with more hurdles than the Grand National behind me, the next few months of my life revolve around qualifying for the Australian team for the London Olympics. 
I will endeavor to keep you abreast of how these aspirations are progressing, although I can’t promise all posts will be completely triathlon in nature. Anyone who stumbled here from my Twitter account can vouch for the fact my citations have a tendency to be ‘off topic’. Speaking of Twitter, in a world that revolves around 140 characters, I might be pushing my luck hold your focus if I include any more gratuitous waffle in a single post. I thank you for wandering on by to check it out, and thank you even further if you make the journey back to sample some more anecdotes, guaranteed to be filled with blatantly superfluous linguistics. 
Check back in a few days time for a preview of the pre-season, and an inside look at the goings on of a training camp. 
Take care friends,