Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sweating buckets - time in the bank

The Club Swim on Saturday went reasonably OK. Started off with some sets reducing the number of breaths each length, which I found quite tough as a warm up. Then we did some drills again focusing on breathing. For the main set we swam slowly for 25m and logged our time. Coach MT recorded 0:28 for our lane.

Then we swum sets of 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 and 200m adding on 0:28 for each set. We successfully completed the set without going outside the target time. It would be interesting if we could do the same for 1,000m or more?

Saturday evening was a brief 15 mins on the turbo with day 2 of the power program. After a 5 min warm up I completed 10x (30 sec + 30 sec) @ 100% + 50% of max power. Good way to raise the HR but i didn't have too much trouble in finishing the set.

This morning the weather was good enough for Chris and I to jump on the bikes for a decent 50km loop in 2 hours. Mostly easy riding and lots of friendly chat however there was 2 sections when we both took a turn to push the pace (Z4-5).

This evening was Day 3 of the power program and a longer set on the turbo. The main set was 3x (5 mins + 10 mins) @ 90% + 50% at max power. I was 'sweating buckets' by the end of the workout - quite a tough one!

All good time in the bank.

Tomorrow I plan to do a run and then it is back on the turbo before the New Year party.

Wouldn't mind getting a 2 hour run in the bank before I go back to work on the 2nd - will keep you posted.

Friday, 28 December 2012

VO2 Max Booster Program - Day 1

Just found a 14-day program on the Internet and thought it would help me to improve my bike strength. The plan is to incorporate it on top of my normal training. There is a good amount of warm up and cool down in each set, which gives me flexibility to cut them short if need be.

Day 1 is to complete an initial test to get some power data to work with over the 14-day program. Fortunately my turbo trainer provides a power reading plus picks up HR data from a compatible HR belt.

After a 10-15 min warm up I completed a 6 min test with the following results:

Time 6:03
Speed av. 35.7 / max 39.9
Distance 3.5 km
Power av. 244 / max 276
Cadence av. 110 / max 122
HR av. 144 / max 160

I built up the speed over the first 1 min and then tried to keep the power up for the next 5 mins. The average power reading for the last 5 mins was just under 250, so that is what I am going to use for the 14-day program. It is worth noting that I did the initial test on my singlespeed bike so the cadence is quite high. I expect I may have registered a higher power reading from my Tri or carbon road bike but at least I can keep the gearing constant on my singlespeed.

The first 5 days of the program looks as follows:

Day 2: 10x (30+30 sec) 100 / 50% VO2 Max
Day 3: 3x (5+10 min) 90 / 50% VO2 Max
Day 4: 3x [6x (40+20 sec) 95 / 50% VO2 Max then 4 min easy rolling]
Day 5: 20x (15+15 sec) 100 / 50% VO2 Max

Each session is listed as an hour - the balance being made up from the warm up and cool down.

Next instalment of the program will follow in a later post.

Post Christmas sessions

I kept myself ticking over in the run up to Christmas with a few sessions including a 2 hour bike commute, Club swim (including Christmas fun set) and a 1 hour run with my old training partner, Chris.

Training took a backseat over Christmas but it was great to relax with the family and indulge a little (actually, quite a lot!)

Now post Christmas and a few pounds heavier I have started to think about 2013 and the season ahead.

Yesterday I completed an easy Z1-2 1:30 run, starting to increase the time and mileage as I build up for the Brighton marathon in April.

This morning I began a 14-day program on the turbo, mostly shorter interval sets based on an initial 5-min power test. I will provide full details in my next post. Given the weather and bias to my run training over the next month or so I intend to incorporate these shorter turbo bike sessions on top of my normal training, also a good opportunity to increase the overall volume.

Back on the green smoothies after all the rich food over Christmas. The ingredients for this one (pictured below) includes kale, 2x bananas, frozen blueberries, some skimmed milk and a spoonful of honey. Once blended I topped it off with a pinch of granola for a bit of crunch - lovely jubbly.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Green Smoothie time!

As mentioned in recent posts I am trying to reduce my intake of sugars and carbohydrates, starting with limiting the amount of bread and sweets I eat.

Over the last couple of days I have replaced my breakfast (normally cereals and/or toast) with a green smoothie.

Today's recipe:

- Kale
- Spinach
- Frozen banana
- Satsuma
- Greek yogurt
- Small spoonful of honey

To be honest, whatever I could find in the fridge. Yesterday I had a similar concoction but also included some Soya protein powder.

All sounds pretty disgusting but the fruit and honey masks the taste of the kale and spinach and I found it quite tasty (see picture).

Looking forward to experimenting with other vegetables and fruits, especially superfoods such as avocado, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

If you have a favourite blend I would love to know your preferred recipes?

Deja Vu - not 'Rugby Fit'

Good swim session on Saturday morning (not bad considering I was up to gone midnight the night before at the office Christmas party, albeit I only had a couple of drinks).

Looking back at my previous blog: http://journeytoironmanaustria.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/slight-change-in-plans.html I recently had a definite 'Deja vu' moment.

This time last year I attended my son's last rugby session in 2011 and got involved in some parent play. On Sunday, I was back on the field, giving it my all - speeding up the line, scoring tries (3 in total), and getting tackled by the boys (even though it was supposed to be 'touch rugby'). All felt pretty good and no immediate injuries. 2 hours of running around brought my weekly total to arround 9 hours so quite pleased with the volume. However, I did not properly stretch and just like last year by Monday was feeling a little sore.

I did go for a 40min run on Monday but it wasn't pretty - well pretty awful!

Last night I had planned some strength work and today my regular 2-hour commute on the bike, however it has been put on hold until I can properly walk again - just like last year - you would have thought I had learnt my lesson!

I may focus on some upper-body strength work this evening using some weights - 30 mins in the 'Cave of Pain' should do the trick.

Anyway, hopefully training can resume again soon. I need to be fit enough to swim on Wednesday as the Coach always has something fun planned for the pre-Christmas swim (see last year: http://journeytoironmanaustria.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/mad-christmas-swim-session.html)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Looking back!

Over the last week I have been doing a bit of reminiscing - I started my first blog: http://journeytoironmanaustria.blogspot.co.uk/ back in November 2011 so have been interested in what I was doing this time last year.

I officially started my base training for 2012 in December 2011 and was recording similar volume to my current totals - around 6-8 hours a week. It wasn't until February when I engaged the services of Coach Tickner and the volume picked up to 10+ hours.

During this base phase I will continue to mix up my training and try to include some other activites (i.e. mountain biking, going ice-skating on Boxing Day). It is also a sensible time to confirm my races for the coming season and commit to a number of fitness goals - mine are coming together and are likely to include a couple of longer 'A' races (marathon and 70.3 triathlon), some 'PB' opportunities for races / standard distances that I did last year and a greater number of shorter distance races (i.e. a few 5km timed runs). I still need to book some of those races in the next month or two - the popular ones fill up fast! I also need to log them in my Training Peaks account and build a plan around the goals, with a clear base, build, peak, taper and race phase for each 'A' race.

More on that in a later blog. Meanwhile, scores on the door so far for this week:

Mon - 2:00 bike (a cold commute with a few hills thrown in - relatively easy Z1-3)
Tue - 0:35 run (warm up then 5x round Preston Park 600m track at varying intensities)
Wed - 0:45 push/run set around Preston Park + 1:30 Club swim
Thu - rest day
Fri - 1:10 easy run along Brighton seafront - more difficult return leg because of strong winds

So 6 hours already with the weekend to go. I am likely to swim on Saturday morning and would love to get out on the mountain bike for 1-2 hours on Sunday - let's see!

Put a few running items on the Christmas list (new trainers, running gilet, socks, beanie hat and Rich Roll's new book) - hoping Santa comes up trumps.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My car number plate

Further promotion of the Ironman brand - the Company should hire me to run their PR

Nutritional Changes - small steps

A good number of podcasts I listen to now advocate the Paleo (Caveman) diet - it certainly is based on some decent principles, especially around eating healthy foods that have not been processed.

What really interests me is the idea that fats can offer greater energy for training / racing and last considerably longer than our glycogen reserves (sugars). By reducing our intake of low-fat high sugar foods and replacing them with good higher fat alternatives can we train our bodies to use fat rather than sugar for energy?

My diet generally consists of quite high levels of grains and carbohydrates - pasta and bread being daily food sources. Over the last week I have made a conscious effort to reduce my bread consumption and also limit alcohol and chocolate in my diet. Eating these high carb / high sugar foodstuffs were becoming more of a habit each day and even though I was probably burning off the calories with exercise I have been worried that I have continued consuming them on rest or recovery days when I have done little or no exercise. I believe this to be the reason for my slight weight gain of late.

You can very easily fall into the camp of a strict diet regime, whether Paleo or some other strategy. One day I may investigate them further but for the time being I think maintaining a healthy balance, making better whole food choices and limiting some of the treats (i.e. don't make them a habit) is the way to go - small steps that I am personally more likely to stick too.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Top 10 podcasts - great to take on training runs

Sorry been a while since my last post. This is actually my 3rd attempt. The latest version of the Blogger app keeps losing my text - very annoying!

Managed to get a 1:30 ride in last Friday morning (a day's holiday) - very chilly conditions. I was wearing a number of layers and still the wind was biting. Saturday I was back in the pool. Sunday a 1:00 run in the morning - 30 mins easy pace - turn around and re-trace steps - the goal to get home before the hour is up (i.e. negative split - completed successfully). Sunday evening - 40 mins turbo training and weights session.

On my Sunday morning run I was plugged into my iPhone and caught up with a couple of short podcasts I had previously downloaded from iTunes. To be honest I had enough content to last me a good few marathons as there appears to be a number of interesting new podcasts worth trying and I have downloaded a lot. Generally, the ones I like cover multisports training, races and profiles of athletes, nutrition advice and lifestyle recommendations.

My current top 10 are as follows (in order of preference):

1. Zen and the Art of Triathlon (follow Coach Brett in his training, racing and living the multisport life)
2. Training Bible Coaching (Good mix of technical and training tips from 2 elite triathletes)
3. Fitness Behaviour (Great lifestyle tips from Bevan James Eyles)
4. Ben Greenfield Fitness (a lot of nutritional and technical content)
5. JBST Multisports (another quite technical podcast hosted by Joe Beer)
6. Fat-Burning Man (just found this one recently but impressed with content)
7. Rich Roll Podcast (another new one based on an amazing ultrarunner - likely to rise in the charts)
8. The Age Grouper (a good podcast but unfortunately the last episode was Apr 2012)
9. Vinnie Tortorich - America's Angriest Trainer (biased to nutritional tips)
10. Endurance Planet (only listened to one but good so far)

These provide a great free resource and are well worthwhile downloading for your next long run.

Please add a comment if you have some other ideas.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Some hill work - split times

Nice easy run from the office to just past Brighton Marina this morning. Then decided to run hard from the bottom to the top of the cliffs, walking/jogging back down for recovery. I repeated five times and aimed for an increasing pace for each set.

My splits were as follows:

First hill rep - 1:08
2nd - 1:02
3rd - 0:59
4th - 0:54
5th - 0:49

I was hitting zone 5-6 for each rep so a pretty brutal exercise set.

Easy run back. Just over the hour in total. Job done!

Hill Rep time!


Nice morning for a change

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Champions of Cyclosport event and challenges ahead

After a hectic day at work on Thursday I managed to find a couple of hours prior to the charity cycle event at the Hurlingham Club and decided to take an easy run from Putney to Kingston via Richmond Park. I started in the light but it was dark by the time I was half way through Richmond Park. Managed to see a few deer but then I was simply pleased not to lose the No.4 cycle route, which I was following to Kingston. Approx. 10 miles covered in about 1:30 - relatively easy pace, enjoying a different route and catching up with my podcasts. On reaching Kingston I found Sigma Sport, which was my chosen destination, and spent 10-15 mins looking round the large specialist road cycling / triathlon shop over 2 floors, before turning back to Putney, this time on the train.

A quick shower at the hotel, on with the dinner suit and black tie, before meeting up with my work colleagues for the Champions of Cyclesport charity event at the Hurlingham Club. Great to see some of the big names in the sport and also catch up with friends, fellow cyclists and sport celebrities - Geoff Thomas and Sonia O'Sullivan.

I cycled with Geoff in the London 2 Paris 2011 charity bike ride and am fortunate enough to be asked to be part of the team for 2013. Geoff is truly inspirational and it was great to hear of his goal for 2015, completing the Tour de France route, 10 years after his first attempt, continuing to raise both the profile and important funds for the Leukaemia and Lymphoma charity. We even discussed a 2014 challenge cycling around the 40 Brewin Dolphin offices as a fundraising effort for our new Company charity, a seriously long way! So lots to think about for future years, combining some great cycling challenges with very worthwhile causes.

After the 10 mile run on Thursday I took Friday as a rest day. Saturday back in the pool for the Club swim, Sunday another run but only 45 mins. Monday more rest (try not to make that too much of a habit). Good strength session tonight, about an hour, including some high cadence cycling on the turbo, weights, lunges, squats, step-ups and ab exercises (various sit-ups demonstrated via an iPad app). Tomorrow I have another run planned in the morning and the longer Club swim in the evening.

Now getting a clearer idea of my races and dates for next season - more on the later.

Happy training!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Putting on a bit of excess weight - mustn't go off the rails

Last week wasn't too bad as far as volume goes - 8.5 hours was the total. Decided against the bike commute on Friday but was in the pool Saturday morning and joined Chris for a relatively easy Sunday bike ride, albeit there were some decent hills and speed work thrown in for good measure.

Chris unfortunately had some mechanical issues at the start of the ride so after only 10 mins in we turned back home to swap bikes. Chris ended up on his wife's road bike, a nice machine but a little heavier than he is used to. The set-up and sizing was also not ideal. Good for me though, I managed to keep up with Chris for much more of the ride than normal, although he still seemed to have no problem with the steep climb from Amberley to the top of Whiteways roundabout.

After a slightly higher volume week I jumped on the scales last night to see if I was at least maintaining my target weight of below 12 stone (normally lower in the height of the season and when on the start line of 'A' races). Unfortunately I had some slippage and was a couple of lbs over my target weight. Not a huge disaster in the off season but something I need to keep my eyes on. I don't think that is the lack of exercise but more to do with a few bad habits creeping in, especially in relation to more sugary foods, that have ceased becoming treats and ended up being more of a regular occurrence.

This week has been OK so far - Monday was 40mins in the 'Cave of Pain' - weights and turbo circuit. Tuesday was an hour run along the seafront in slightly miserable weather conditions. Wednesday I just focused on the 1:30 Club swim, which was OK, lots of pace and streamlining work.

Today is going to be interesting - a busy day at work with a number of meetings in London. However, after work I plan to run from Putney to Kingston via Richmond Park to take a quick look at the large triathlon / cycling store (Sigma Sport). On the map it looks like a 10-12 mile return journey. I am staying up in London as have been fortunate enough to be invited to the 'Champions of Cyclosport' dinner tonight with lots of cycling celebrities attending - more on that event later.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Update on weekly progress

As I report most weeks I am coming up a bit short on the plan, yet again (not that there is really much structure to the plan at the moment). Last week I was on course for a 10 hour week but I fell at the last hurdle and didn't get my long run / ride in so ended the week with a total of 8.

This week I have completed approx 5 hours so far.

The good news is that I finally got in the pool for the longer 1:30 club session. Coach MT jumped in our lane to show us how to complete the perfect warm up 3x (100m front-crawl and 2x 50m backstroke). Although the Coach kept the warm up easy and consistent, it was still a bit of a push for me and I ended a little out of puff. Next came the drills - mostly catch-up - all bilateral breathing. Then my favourite - a set using all the toys (pull-buoy, paddles, fins) in different combinations. For the last 30 mins we focussed on 50m sets at different speeds with decreasing swim and rest times. When I got home I treated myself to a chocolate protein shake to reward myself for a job well done.

In addition to the swim I have completed a 2-hour bike commute and 2x 45 min run sessions - one strength orientated - 5-6km run + 6x (10 push-ups, 10 dips, 10 lunges, 10 squats, 10 step ups). The second run, today's effort was more of a recovery run, relatively easy although I did complete a faster section (about 2km at a higher pace - approx. 4:30 to 5:00 mins per km).

Not sure if I should get on the bike again tomorrow and cycle into work again (another 2 hours in the bank) or take a rest day, as my legs felt a little heavy today during the run.

For the weekend there is the usual 1:00 Club swim and the possibility of that elusive long run / ride on Sunday.

So the week tally could be anything from 6 to 10 hours, depending on the decisions I make. I do feel there is a bit of momentum building but I am more likely to fully commit once I have some more definite goals and an improved plan in place - that's my homework before December hits.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

'Brompton Bomber' strikes again

Anyone that followed my inaugural blog 'Journey to Ironman Austria' may remember a post that I wrote back in February that mentioned the 'Brompton Bomber' - link to story:

http://journeytoironmanaustria.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/beaten-by-brompton.html

Since that fateful day I have seen the 'Brompton Bomber' a couple of times, mostly as he speeds past me. On those occasions I have been on my singlespeed bike and have found it difficult to maintain his speed, unless I push the cadence up to 120rpm.

I cycled to work yesterday and after an easy 30 min, slightly hilly, warm up decided to up the speed as I hit Shoreham. I was cruising nicely at about 32km per hour, when... you guessed it... I was overtaken by my old adversary the 'Brompton Bomber' - this time however I was on my road bike and had a full 20 gears to play with.

I was straight on his tail and he sensed the pursuit. The average speed increased from 32 to 34km/ph then 36 to finally around 39km/ph - I could not believe he was hitting those average speeds on the flat with wheels at least half the size of mine. I still had something left in the tank and decided to crank it up and push the speed to above 40km/ph and make my move. Just as I hit the gas he indicated to turn and he disappeared off down a side street, once more the victor.

Next time... I will be ready for you Mr 'Brompton Bomber' ...bring it on!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A day of intervals

My training has gone a little off track again this week although at least I have been able to pick the volume up.

The 2 hour bike training / commute I had planned for today has been re-scheduled for tomorrow. Today was interval time...

I started this morning with an easy run to Preston Park, in total about a 15 minute warm up. Thereafter it was 14x 30 sec sprints (good technique) + 30 sec rest. Then a cool down and return to the office to complete the 40 min session.

It was back to Preston Park at lunchtime this time with Ewen and Charlie on the bikes. We headed to the old outdoor velodrome, which was surprisingly in very good condition - nice smooth surface and a fresh lick of paint around the circuit. Neither me or the boys had ever ridden the track so were looking forward to trying out the high bends, albeit they were hardly that high.

After a couple of warm up laps we decided on 5x sets of one lap all out and one lap recovery, 10 in total. On the first fast lap we were surprised just how much energy we had expended. My first lap was 54 secs and a top speed of 47km/h. The heart rate went straight into zone 5. We quickly recovered (one lap) and then repeated. None of us were getting much quicker during the set. It was useful however to experiment with trying the fast lap in a low gear and pushing hard versus a higher gear, higher cadence approach. The last fast lap was interesting as we agreed to go off together and race each other.

I took an early lead into the high bank and retained it until the final straight but the boys were drafting closely behind me and waiting for the most opportune time to make their move. With 50 yards to the line they both moved out to the outside of my bike and just pipped me at the line... Youth winning over experience...

I am not going to hear the last of that in the office!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Stepping it up!

Last week started well with some strength work / high cadence session on turbo, a 2-hour ride on Tuesday and a 5km timed run test on Wednesday (no PB, still recording around 21mins 30secs). I even got a run in during a business trip to Leeds - an easy run along the Aire Valley towpath. Unfortunately I did not follow through as much as I would have liked over the weekend. I enjoyed the Saturday morning club swim, the chance to use all the toys - paddles, fins and pull-buoy, but turned down the opportunity to ride with the boys later in the day (when the weather was nice) as I had a few jobs to do at home. The plan was to get at least 2 hours in on Sunday morning but for a number of reasons - weather, ferrying the kids around etc. I only managed a feable 30 mins - 3x loops of village at varying pace.

Sunday evening I logged onto Training Peaks and was playing around with the 'Annual Training Plan' tool, entering my key races for 2013 and committing to 500-600 hours of training for the year ahead. As a result I need to step the training up from the current 5-8 hours per week to 8-12 over the coming weeks. This will involve some double daily sessions (more time in the 'Cave of Pain') and also an increase in the longer rides / runs. There is a slight bias to running up to March (Brighton marathon - 'A' race in April) and cycling thereafter (Vachery 70.3 event - next 'A' race in July 2013).

This week is looking as follows:

Mon: Strength-Run set around Preston Park (0:45) / Turbo - high cadence set + free weights (0:45)
Tue: Run - 50% in Z2 (1:00)
Wed: Run - intervals 14x 30sec fast + 30sec recovery (0:45) / Club swim (1:30)
Thu: Bike - Brighton Commute (interval set in morning / easy return) (2:00)
Fri: Run - HR in Z1-3 (0:45) / strength work and free weights (0:30)
Sat: Club swim (1:00)
Sun: Bike - long easy ride or MTB (2:30)

Totals: Strength (1:00), Run (3:15), Bike (4:45) and Swim (2:30) - 11:30. A big increase from recent weeks - I know I can do it but will the 'scores on the door' at the end of the week confirm it, or not?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mouse with a taste for energy bars

Not very exciting holiday plans yesterday as the goal was to tidy the garage and make a trip to the tip with all the rubbish that I had accumulated and stored there over the last few months.

Part of the clear up involved going through my cycling gear and to make a decision as to 'keep', 'sell' or 'dump'. I use an old wardrobe to store the cycling gear away from all the other clutter in the garage and out of the reach of the children. Although, as I found out yesterday, not out of the reach of our resident mouse who somehow found a way in and then had a bit of a nibble on a total of six energy bars. I wasn't impressed - shame it didn't have a go at my gas cannisters that I use to inflate my tyres - that would have given it a bit of a headache, although probably left a nasty mess to clear up.

Anyway back to the serious subject of training. Last week I managed three runs (easy, strength and negative-split), a one-way commute on the bike (approx. 30km) and a Club swim. Still low volume but at least covering all three sports.

I intend to average around 8 hours per week over the next 1-2 months (base period) and then increase to 10-12 hours in the new year.

This week is looking as follows:

Mon: Strength work 0:30 / Bike - turbo: high cadence sets 0:30 [Done]
Tue:  Bike - Brigthon Commute (hilly route / easy return) 2:00
Wed: Run - 5km timed test + warm up / cool down 0:45
Thu (in Leeds): Run - interval set 0:45
Fri (in Leeds): Run - easy 1:00
Sat: Club swim 1:00
Sun: Bike - long easy ride / MTB 2:00

A little hard to manage this week because of 2-3 days in Leeds on business. Unfortunately the hotel has no gym or pool but I do intend to take the running shoes.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Back into running - nice and easy does it

It feels like a long time (probably only 3 weeks) since I completed a proper run but early this morning I was back out there doing a loop of one of my favourite routes - from Brighton Marina along the undercliff pass to Saltdean Lido and up over the cliffs for the return journey. Only a 9km loop, which I completed in 55 minutes - nice and easy - mostly zone 1 at a slow pace of 6 minutes per km. I sped up at one point to get the pace below 5 minutes, just to remind myself I could still do it, but did not overdo it.

Fortunately I did not experience any pain, neither from my coccyx or right heal (injuries I picked up after being knocked off my bike). The plan is to build back up with some strength work, short intervals and get back to my normal 5 and 10km race times, so I can enter some local races during the winter months.

During this morning's run I used the opportunity to catch up with a couple of podcasts that I enjoy. Interestingly both were about the same subject - discussions around carbohydrate vs. fat. The commentators both came to the same conclusion in that they thought to much emphasis is placed on eating and using carbohydrate for the main energy source when are bodies should be using fat. Apparently your carbohydrate reserves provide around 2,000 calories of energy whereas a typical athlete (body fat less than 20%) could get as much as 17,000 calories of energy from fat - enough for 3 Ironman events!

They were quite critical of the 'low-fat diet' and the increase in sugar intake over recent years. There does seem to be more and more evidence for the Paleo type diet, not simply for weight reasons but also greater efficiency in training (better 'bang for your buck').

I think I eat a relatively well-balanced diet and where possible try to minimise the processed foods and sugary snacks, however I still have cereal for breakfast (normally something like Special K) with a banana sliced on top, and often grab a bagel and peanut butter for a mid-morning snack. I also eat a fair amount of pasta, rice and brown bread - may be it is time to do a bit more research on the alternatives.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cycling adventures

After a week of light training at least I finished with a bit of a spurt.

On Friday I attended a 1.5 hour special spin session at the Pedalstudio in Wimbledon. Coach MT took the class, which was a bit of a psychological rollercoaster! The theme was 'Myths and Legends' - Mont Ventoux and included video and great pictures on both the fantastic climb and legendary cyclists. Tom Simpson featured highly.

Coach MT wove a story around his presentation, displayed on large screens, and cleverly incorporated it within a tough spinning session and the Mont Ventoux climb. He vividly portrayed his own personal experience of the climb, including all the painful parts, which helped to bring the spin session to life. I really did feel I was on the climb.

During the ride a number of stats were displayed on TV screens including HR data and % of max HR for all to see.
For most of the session the entire class was at 85% plus of max HR. As there were over 20 riders in the relatively small studio the temperature soared and I lost a considerable amount of fluid from sweating - not pleasant. Despite the temperature and considerable pain (Coach MT encouraged 'mind over matter' techniques) it was an enjoyable experience and a novel way to conduct a spin class, which I would thoroughly recommend.

Saturday morning and I was back in the pool for a Club swim, which involved a bit of everything - individual medley sets, hypoxic breathing, pyramid sets and some speed work. There was not much time for chatting with the Club members in my lane, just simply down to the serious business of training.

Sunday morning was going to be a light run - I felt that my body had finally repaired itself following the bike crash. However, I was offered the opportunity to cycle with Chris and Graeme, which I jumped at - always enjoy a Club ride with the boys.

At my request Chris selected a very scenic route on some wonderful back roads around Chichester and Petworth.
We were out for just over 2 hours and kept a reasonably decent speed going throughout, albeit there was a fair amount of climbing and friendly chatter throughout.

Once I have downloaded the route and data to Training Peaks from my Garmin I will add the link to this blog for review - a great little ride for anyone cycling in the area.

The plan this week is to slowly incorporate the running back into the schedule - I am quite excited and looking forward to my first run (hopefully Tuesday morning) - let's hope the body holds up.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Withdrawal symptoms - need exercise!

Since the long Sunday ride I have not done any training (a part from a few dynamic stretches) and I am now getting withdrawal symptoms and craving exercise.

I had intended to take Monday as a rest day, still slightly taking it easy post the recent bike crash and minor pain in my coccyx and right heal.

Tuesday was supposed to be an easy ride to work and back but it didn't seem to come together for whatever reasons. Last night I was definitely on for the Club swim; however I attended a very interested seminar in Brighton, which overrun and made it difficult to make the Club swim on time. All in all quite feeble excuses and I am positive that if I really had wanted to train I could have found a way. To be honest I really don't like being injured (who does) but do not wish to jump straight back into it and cause further problems.

Anyway I am down for a very interesting session tomorrow evening, which I am looking forward to. Coach MT who is a 'Master Spinning Instructor' (he teaches the instructors) has a special spin class titled Myths and Legends: Mont Ventoux at the Pedal Studio in Wimbledon. I just so happen to be in London tomorrow afternoon so had the perfect opportunity to attend. I understand that during the 1.5 hour spin session our HR and stats will be displayed on a large board for all to see and a motivational presentation / video / music is planned to help keep the adrenalin going. It all sounds very exciting and something I have never done before - I will report back in due course.

Saturday morning will be back in the pool. I then hope on Sunday I may be able to get in some further biking and possibly an easy run to break me back in gently - let's see.

Hope everyone else is training well and getting out and just 'doing it'!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Dorking Sportive - a beautiful day for a ride

Managed some more swim tests on Saturday morning, including 14x 100m with 10secs rest between sets. Relatively consistent times between 1:37 and 1:45 recorded.

Saturday evening I was on the dance floor at a friend's 50th Birthday bash - showcasing my moves, which was certainly not the best preparation for a long sportive ride the following day.

After 20mins on the dance floor the recent injuries from the bike crash were playing a bit of havoc with my body and I began questioning whether I was ready for a long bike session.

On the Sunday morning the conditions were perfect for a bike ride in the Surrey Hills so I decided to at least give it a go. The great thing with a Sportive is they are generally informal and there would be no problem cutting the route short during the day and subject to my fitness / injuries.

Although there was certainly a nip on the air it was a great to be out on the bike. My recently replaced front mech worked flawlessly and I was pleased with my choice of winter clothing, including gloves, full-length cycling tights and overshoes.

The route was constantly 'up and down' and as a result quite challenging. One of the toughest hills (18%) had a sign that read - 'Pain is weakness leaving the body'.

After over five hours in the saddle and over 125km in the bank I headed for home with thoughts of the Sunday roast in mind.

All credit to Charlie who stayed on for another hill or two. He was like a whippet up the hills!

A day to recover tomorrow and probably more time on the bike later in the week. I hope to be running again shortly.

Garmin link to stats and route: http://www.trainingpeaks.com/av/3GXMGEHZH3P7XVWJJGBYOUDK2E

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Swim Tests

My backside and right heel are still a little sore (post bike crash) so my training this week will be limited to swimming and the big bike ride on Sunday.

Last night was the 1:30 Club swim session and the Coach wanted further data on lane times to ensure athletes are swimming in the correct lane.

There are a number of younger and stronger swimmers coming up through the ranks and it is inevitable that at some time I may be better suited to a slightly slower lane. I am currently swimming twice a week, which is probably sufficient to maintain my swim fitness / technique but not enough to improve it. There were a few weeks in the run up to IM Austria that I was swimming on Mon, Wed, Sat and Sun.

Fortunately I think my times in yesterday's swim tests were enough to keep me in Lane 3. I don't wish to go down to Lane 4 just yet, even if there is not much difference between the two.

Anyway the swim tests were as follows:

The first, a simple timed swim at race speed or above, was over 400m. I was lucky to be following two stronger swimmers with big kicks so drafting made perfect sense. I successfully kept on the toes of the swimmer ahead of me and completed the swim in 6:35, which is well above my normal race pace.

The next test was a continual swim for 20mins. We were encouraged to pass weaker swimmers in the lane. I also planned to use drafting to my advantage. The Coach asked us to count the laps we completed, which he would log. There was a slight difference opinion on times but most of my lane completed 1,100m in the scheduled times. This sounded about right and put my average 100m time at around 1:45-1:48. There were times when there was a bit of bunching but for the most part I swam a decent pace.

Given I had missed a couple of swim sessions last week I was quite pleased with my performance. Whether I do move lanes will be down to the Coach. Either way I will make an effort to at least maintain my swim fitness and hopefully improve it further in next season.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Trying to get back to normality

Tried an easy run this morning - the body worked OK, although still feeling a little soreness in my right heel. Probably as a result of the severe bruising I incurred from my cycle accident last week.

The bike is in the shop, hopefully getting put back together. I expect I will need a new back wheel at the minimum but won't hear to later this week.

Until the bruising in my foot has completely healed I and going to lay off the running for the time being. My plans are to swim on Wednesday and Saturday with a long sportive ride on Sunday (100 mile - hilly route around Dorking).

I have finally replaced the front mech on my road bike so at least that one is ready for action.

Will report back on the sportive for my next blog post.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Disaster strikes!

The morning started off so well - a beautiful commute into Brighton along the bottom of the Downs via Edburton, Fulking and Poynings before heading up over Devils Dyke and down into the city.

As I still need to fix my front mech on my road bike I was on the trusty singlespeed machine so as always climbing Devils Dyke was quite an effort. I did manage to stop for a couple of pictures (see below) - love those hills!

My legs felt a bit fatigued both from the hilly route and probably the recent half-marathon event at Barns Green. The plan was to take it easy on the commute home.

I ended up having to take a busier route home as I had to pick something up at Next in Shoreham for my son. After getting out of the store, at that time just beginning to lose the daylight, I made a point of turning on my high-powered front light and the bright flashing red rear light.

Only a hundred yards away from the store and whilst cycling around the busy Shoreham roundabout a car shot out and knocked me flying. It all happened so fast and before I knew it I found myself lying in the middle of the roundabout on my back with a very sore bottom.

Fortunately the 2 lanes of traffic stopped and the driver that hit me and a number of people passing by came to my aid. Despite the initial shock, severe pain in my backside and some assistance I moved to the side of the road to check out the damage. A bit of road rash - left ankle, elbows and knees but nothing too much to be worried about. My legs were OK, although my right heel was aching - I think I must have landed on my backside and put my right leg out to absorb the force. As for the bike one severely buckled back wheel (not sure if it can be fixed), the front slightly less so, some cosmetic damage to the seat, brake lever and handlebar but only minor - my poor baby!

On returning home (wifey came to rescue me in the car) I also found I had damaged my nice carbon soled road shoes, possibly beyond repair. Given some of the accidents that friends from the Club have been involved in recently I got off very lightly. I suppose if you cycle the distances I do and commute into a busy city the law of averages suggest you going to have an incident at some time, even if you make every effort to be safe and cycle sensibly.

So my training will take a back seat for the next few days to let the body recover. I will also make sure the trusty singlespeed gets the proper treatment to ensure it is good working order as soon as possible.

Keep safe out there guys - rubber side down!


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

End of Season thoughts

As the Barns Green half-marathon event officially ends my triathlon season for 2012 my thoughts over the last couple of days have been on both the season past and the year ahead.

There is no doubt about it that 2012 will go down in my own triathlon history book as a very significant year - my first Ironman completed in under my target time of 13 hours. The only slight negative with 2012 is that single race was all consuming and one of the main reasons I will be unlikely to compete in such a long distance event in 2013 (2014 - may be?)

So what about the season ahead - personally, I hope it will be a year of PBs. Building on my success and PB at Barns Green my intention is to race all distances up to half-ironman (70.3) and aim for PBs across the board. I expect my training will be much more purposeful and include a greater number of shorter higher-intensity sessions, looking for improving times. From Oct-Apr there will be a slight bias to running with a PB in the Brighton marathon in mind. Thereafter it is more about the bike. Improving swim technique and incorporating plenty of strength sessions will also be important throughout. Over the coming days I will start to put more structure around these end of season thoughts and share with you a more specific list of goals (SMART approach).

Until then I will keep you updated on my progress. Following Barns Green I had 2 full rest days with only a few minutes devoted to some time on the foam roller - stretching! The rest of the week looks like this:

Wed - 0:45 Push/run circuit around Preston Park [Done] +1:30 Club Swim
Thu - 2:00 Bike commute (1:00 hill route / 1:00 easy)
Fri - 1:00 Easy run
Sat - 1:00 Club swim
Sun - to be confirmed (hopefully aim for 1-2 hours before family trip to London)

I also need to allocate some time to replacing my front derailleur / mechanism on my road bike. The Dorking 100 mile sportive is only just over a week away (I don't intend to race this one!)

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Regained my Mojo - a PB at Barns Green

With the exception of my planned bike / commute on Thursday that never happened (rest day!) I completed my training pretty much as I set out at the beginning of the week.

The big focus this week was my old friend and 'Nemesis' - the Barns Green half-marathon. I really did feel that I could push it more than previous years and despite it being a bit of a lumpy course, try for a personal best (PB) at this distance. I also had some unfinished business with this particular race as my times each year had been getting slower and slower, something I needed to reverse.

My training prior to the race had not been intense but I felt I had done a little more than last year, especially with my recent timed 5km and 10km efforts. In addition I was hoping that my Ironman fitness was still there for at least one more race this season.

The conditions were perfect, the only negative was that I had come prepared to buy a couple of gels at the event but found there to be no stalls selling them. Luckily one of my HAT buddies gave me one to consume before the race. I also was given another half about mile 6 - thanks Gareth- lifesaver!

I set my Garmin up for time, current pace, average pace and distance. The plan was to be slightly under 4:45mins per km (sub 8 min miles). The race always gets off to a fast start and you get swept along, even though you know you are probably going way too fast. I think my first mile took around 7:15 mins. My average pace for the first half was around 4:32 mins per km and took around 47 mins. I felt pretty good throughout but it certainly helped having Gareth run nearby - we helped each other keep a decent pace and would have probably finished together if it he had not had to have a toilet break between mile 9 and 10.

I still managed a sprint finish so may be my pacing was still not perfect and I could have gone harder. However, I was delighted with a PB of 1:37:32 (position, 201 out of 1,319 runners), almost 5 mins quicker than last year, which got me a silver medal.

My 'Nemesis' finally defeated and my Mojo regained - what a great end to the season.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

'Lost my Mojo'

Struggling a bit at the moment with the family-work-fitness balance and training over the last few days took a back seat to some needed DIY and family time - I shouldn't moan because as mentioned on a number of previous posts my intention is to fit all these important elements into my life - sometimes I just get disappointed that I cannot allocate my time a little better.

Anyway I did get in the Saturday Club swim and a Sunday morning run (1:00) before the heavens opened and it rained for the rest of the day.

Last night I had intended to do an hour in the 'cave of pain' on the turbo or a strength session. However, I felt I had 'lost my mojo' and opted to do nothing - not the greatest decision.

Fortunately, I set myself up to 'win' this morning as before I went to bed last night I got everything ready for a bike ride to work (whatever the weather). When you have everything at hand and don't think about it too much you simply go through the motions and before you know it you are out training. After a gentle warm up this morning I did a brief tempo session to get the blood bumping and HR in zone 3 and then dialed it back down for an easy ride to the office. The weather was not too bad and I managed to weave my way through the rain drops without getting too wet.

So the plan for the rest of the week (if I dont lose my mojo again!):

Tue: 2:00 bike commute - mostly Z1-2
Wed: 0:45 run intervals / 1:30 Club swim
Thu: 2:00 bike commute (hilly route / return easy) [Alternative 1:30 brick session (1:00 turbo + 0:30 run)]
Fri: 0:45 run - easy Z1-2
Sat: 1:00 Club swim
Sun: Barns Green half-marathon (hopefully 1:39:59)

I will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Wise words - 25 triathlon lessons

I just received an e-mail from Simon Ward who I must congratulate as he has been competing / coaching in the sport of triathlon for 25 years.

To celebrate his 25 years he came up with 25 lessons as follows - Wise words:

  1. Consistency is the key to success
  2. Results are important but having fun is better
  3. Your body can take a lot more than you think
  4. Triathletes are not indestructible
  5. Recovery is just as important as training
  6. Quality beats quantity most of the time
  7. Just because you are a triathlete and train a lot doesn’t mean you can eat with impunity
  8. Its not about the bike…or the shoes, or the wetsuit
  9. It is about the bike. Being strong here has a direct impact in your ability to run well
  10. There is victory to be taken from every finish, no matter how bad you think the result is
  11. Whatever position you end up, finishing a triathlon means you are still in the top 1% of fit humans.
  12. Keep your training a simple as possible
  13. There are lots of training methods which will help you get to your goals. Just make sure that they cover the 6 principles of training – individuality, Do No Harm, progressive overload, specificity, adaptation, reversal
  14. Unless you earn a living from racing triathlon, chillax a bit and just enjoy the journey
  15. A mid season break is a good idea. An end of season break is non negotiable
  16. There are NO short cuts to getting faster
  17. There are NO training “secrets”
  18. Pace judgement is critical for a good race
  19. Have fun and remember why you started this sport
  20. When seeking fitness improvements look for the “low hanging fruit”
  21. Before you enter races, don’t forget to consult those closest to your first; it will reduce the stress later on
  22. Although triathlon is a solo sport, you couldn’t do it without your support team.
  23. Take time to celebrate and reflect on your achievements; too many people move straight on to the next challenge
  24. There are always lessons to be learnt from every race; find at least one
  25. Take a long term approach to training and racing. Over the years I’ve seen many triathletes come and go and some stay the distance. Those that shot through like a meteor, trained hard, had a fanatical approach and then just like a meteor, burned out and disappeared. Others have taken a long term more laid back approach, enjoyed the sport, made it part of their life and like a powerful star, still burn strong
You can find out more about Simon and his coaching services at http://www.thetriathloncoach.com/

Timed 10km run - slight improvement needed

This morning I completed a timed 10km run along Brighton seafront.

After a brief warm up I set off towards Hove Lagoon and back. The wind was light so had little effect to the overall time. Just after 9km I ran out of seafront a bit and had to include a couple of ramps and turns in the last 1km, which probably added a few seconds but generally it was as good as it gets - decent weather and a relatively flat course.

My total time was 45:56, average HR was 150bpm (max: 159bpm) and pace 4:36mins per km. I pressed the lap button after 5km and recorded the following splits:

L1 22:50, average HR 148bpm and pace 4:34
L2 23:06, average HR 153bpm and pace 4:37

I need to get somewhere close to 43:00 to give myself the best opportunity of PB in the marathon in April so some improvement is needed. After the session I felt OK and recovered quickly, thinking I could push harder on the next attempt.

Runner's World have a fun tool on their website - the Race Time Predictor: http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/general/rws-race-time-predictor/1681.html

Plugging in my recent 5km timed run of 21:27 I obtained the following predictions:

10km - 0:44:43 (suggesting today's time was on the slow side)
1/2 Marathon - 1:38:34

If I use today's 10km timed run of 45:56 I obtained the following predictions:

1/2 Marathon - 1:41:14

My PB for Barns Green was 1:40:58 so better than my run this morning, however I would have beat my 2010 and 2011 times.

In summary, some improvement is required, although I doubt I will make any further progress between now and the 30th September when Barns Green is scheduled. My focus will be on my 'A race' and beating my PB for the Brighton marathon in April.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Back into winter gear - not the best decision

Decided to cycle into work this morning and thought it best to prepare for the slightly colder mornings (I normally set off around 6:15am) with another layer of clothing - back into winter gear.

It felt the right move as I started off nice and snug and comfortable in the extra layer, however after only 15 mins I realised that I was overdressed for the occasion. My pace was decent this morning, despite being on the old singlespeed machine, recording reasonable speeds during a good part of the ride (30-35km/h), although by the time I reached the office I was dripping in sweat - lucky we have a shower!

Fortunately I came prepared and brought some lighter clothing for the return leg home.

For those interested in the training for this week my draft plan is as follows:

Mon: Push-run strength session 0:40 / Timed 5km run 0:30 [Done]
Tue: Bike - 2hr commute (tempo ride in morning / easy return)
Wed: Timed 10km run 1:00 / Club swim 1:30
Thu: Strength session including turbo warm-up 1:00
Fri: Bike - 2hr commute (hilly route / easy return)
Sat: Club swim 1:00
Sun: Long easy run 2:00

So picking up the volume - a bit more cycling than last week. Easier week to follow as I wish to incorporate a brief taper to Barns Green half marathon on the 30th.

Interesting Sweatshop offer - running community

Before I get into today's topic - a brief training update:

Last week ended up a little different than I planned but the volume was close to target. Wednesday was a big training day with a 2 hour cycle (commute) followed by a tough 1:30 swim session. Thursday and Friday were busy days at work so training unfortunately had to take a back seat (i.e. rest days!). Saturday morning was another Club swim and then the afternoon found me back on the bike with my old Ironman training partner Chris for a 1:30 bike session. As published on my previous IM blog (http://journeytoironmanaustria.blogspot.co.uk) Chris suffered some serious problems during the big event and ended up in hospital for a week. On returning home he took approx. 8 weeks off resting (i.e. not training) and getting checked out by a number of medical specialists. Despite this long spell out of the sport I was pleasantly surprised how 'bike fit' and strong he was. We agreed on a rolling course with a killer hill (Steyning Bostal) and Chris pushed the pace from the start - averaging 35km/h on the flat and attacking the hill climb like a man possessed - welcome back Chris!

The Club Aquathon race was cancelled so my week finished with an easy 1 hour run trying out the Digifit application and ANT+ adaptor for my iPhone - unfortunately not the best experience - thank goodness for my trusty Garmin.

Yesterday was a double run session - the morning was a 40min push-run set: a circuit around Preston park stopping to complete 5x exercises every 3-5 mins following a 10min warm up.

The evening was a little different and brings me to the main reason for my blog - the Sweatshop Running Community. Upon passing their Brighton store I noticed they were advertising free weekly runs for the local community. I registered online and was surprised at the level of benefits for a free resource:

1st week - free bottle of Lucozade
5 weeks - free adidas Sweatshop Running Community technical t-shirt
25 weeks - free lucozade nutrition pack
30 weeks - free Sweatshop lifestyle t-shirt
50 weeks - free Garmin Forerunner 610 (worth £329.99) - wow!

I understand that you are supposed to complete the above in a 52 week period and despite having sessions on both Monday and Wednesday are only allowed to record one stamp a week. So it may be a challenge to record 50 stamps in a year but a very nice reward if you can make it.

The session was managed by Sweatshop staff and a qualified running leader and consisted of a brief warm up and a timed 5km run along Brighton seafront. The wind was pretty severe in one direction, which raised the heart rate high early in the run, although was easier on the return. I went with the 2nd group and faster runners with a sub 25 min target. 2 athletes shot off and were well out of my league. I did quite well and recorded a 21:31 time (similar to my recent timed 5km run, although on that occasion with little wind). All in all a good session and a nice group of runners to train with. I expect I will join them again although the Monday and Wednesday session overlap with my Tri Club's swimming sessions so unlikely it is something I will be able to commit to each week - shame, I would have liked that watch!

Details of Sweatshop Running Community can be found via the following link:

http://www.sweatshop.co.uk/community.cfm


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Track session report

Missed this morning's scheduled run so decided to attend the fortnightly track session (Tuesday at 7pm) at Broadbridge Heath Sports Centre.

Our running coach (Tony G) unfortunately did not turn up but that didn't stop us having a decent training session. 6 of the HAT club members who attended (including me) completed a warm up, some dynamic stretching and drills before the main pyramid set of:

2x 200m
2x 400m
1x 800m
2x 400m
2x 200m

My running was quite consistent and I logged the following times:

200m: 0:46, 0.46, 0:45, 0:39
400m: 1:31, 1:32, 1:31, 1:30
800m: 3:01

The only set that was out of line was my last 200m where I found a bit more energy - always like to keep something back for the finish!

We finished with a cool down and some stretching - a decent session, well done Gareth for recommending the sets.

More likely now to complete my easy cycle tomorrow (commute to work and return) and leave the timed 10km to another week, given I now plan to compete in the Club Aquathon on Sunday morning, which involves a 1km swim and 10km run. Best to save my legs to then and use that as a base 10km time.

Other than that I remain relatively on track to complete the scheduled training for this week.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Week ahead - more focus on running

Enjoyed a long off-road run on Sunday morning up on the South Downs - the great weather helped. I kept the pace easy on the flat (Z1-2) but it rose to Z4-5 on the main climp up to Chanctonbury ring (pictured). Also an opportunity to catch up on some of my favourite triathlon podcasts (Zen and the Art of Triathlon and Training Bible Coaching). Got home and was really juiced for the rest of the day.

Last week I logged about 40km of running. As I get closer to my next 'B' race - Barns Green Half-Marathon where I desperately wish to beat my time last year (and ideally my PB on the course) I will continue to focus on the running - adding in cycling and swimming for cross-training and recovery benefits. In previous years I have simply turned up on the start line for Barns Green and gone through the motion (typical 'end of season' event) - as a result my race times have got slower. This year I am determined to at least give it a go and train accordingly. The race is on the 30th September so not long to go.

Played around with the Annual Training Plan on Training Peaks last night, entering some potential goals for races for 2012/3 season. I need a bit more fine tuning and will report back once perfected. Meanwhile, post Barns Green I am considering building a base over the winter months in preparation for my 'A' races next year - Brighton marathon in April and a 70.3 triathlon event (race yet to be decided) in the summer of 2013.

This week I have booked in 10 hours of training to look something like the following:

Mon - 0:30 run (Z1-2 recovery + 5x intervals) / 0:30 strength
Tue - 0:50 run (base building, mostly Z1-2)
Wed - 1:00 timed 10km run / 1:30 Club Swim
Thu - 2:00 Easy bike Z1-2
Fri - 0:30 run (high cadence) / 0:30 strength
Sat - 1:00 Club Swim / 0:30 (Z1-2 recovery + 5x intervals)
Sun - 1:10 Club Aquathon event - 1000m swim + 10km run

Let's see how close I get to the plan!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Friday update

Just about to leave the office for the weekend and thought I would bring the blog up to date.

Following my timed 5km run on Wednesday morning I attended the 1:30 Club swim that evening. Coach MT likes to incorporate some strength training as we approach the end of the season and during the winter months. After a number of 50m sets the lane ropes were removed and we swum a number of 'pyramid' sets using the width rather than length of the pool. Diving starts were included and 'press-up punishment' was handed out for any swimmer going too early - all good fun!

Thursday was an easy day, giving the legs a bit of a rest, although I did get in 20 mins strength exercises in the evening.

This morning more strength work with what I call my 'Push-Run' session - 6km of mostly easy running around Preston Park with 6 stops, normally at park benches, to complete 10x push-ups, dips, lunges, squats and step-ups. Might jump on the turbo tonight although when I get home I am sure I will just want to chill, so may be not, we'll see (already talking myself out of it!)

Tomorrow Club Swim and possibly run. Sunday morning I would like to try to get in either an easy longer run or cycle (min. 2 hours).

That is it for this week - main goal for next week is to do a timed 10km.

Have a great weekend and see you soon. Happy training.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Aging Athlete - extract from Joe Friel's blog

As mentioned in previous posts I am making every effort to include a bit of strength training into my plan.

Just read an interesting post from Joe Friel's blog on the subject - extract below:

The Aging Athlete - Getting Older, Getting Faster, by Joe Friel
(The following first appeared in my interview with Performance Conditioning for Cycling Newsletter.)

Old athletes are old for many diverse reasons. But the primary one is due to their relatively slow rate of recovery following stressful workouts. Someone can be “old” at age 35 due to a poor rate of recovery. On the other hand, I’ve coached athletes in their 60s who recovered very quickly and so by this definition were still “young.” In fact, recovery is probably the key to performance at all ages, but especially so for aging athletes who appear to have the deck stacked against them. But there are also other reasons for declining performance with aging.

For the purpose of this discussion let’s say that one is "old" over age 50. By this age it is usually apparent that an athlete is experiencing several life- and performance-altering physical changes: lower levels of testosterone, lost muscle mass, increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis (especially in cyclists and swimmers), an increased tendency for acid-base imbalance further contributing to bone and muscle loss, a greater propensity for weight gain, lost soft tissue elasticity with an increased likelihood of injury, reduced enzyme activity, less tolerance for heat, and more. It isn’t pretty.

So it appears that aging athletes are fighting an uphill battle. But for most I don’t believe the issue is aging so much as it is detraining, misuse and disuse. We simply fail to adequately and appropriately change our lifestyles and training regimens as we get older. When younger ones can make more mistakes in lifestyle and training without significant negative consequences for performance. As we age there is less latitude for mistakes. For example, temporarily cutting back on training only exacerbates the problems when the aging athlete once again trains seriously. When younger the same athlete may well have bounced back quickly from a break in training. So one example of a critical issue as we get older is training consistency.

For the aging athlete training and lifestyle must adapt. Something has to change to maintain or even improve performance. My experiences as a coach and as an athlete in my seventh decade of life tell me that the focus for the aging athlete must be in four areas:

Workout intensity. There are only three elements of training for a given sport that can be manipulated to produce fitness: workout duration, workout intensity and workout frequency. As we age there is a tendency to increase duration at the expense of intensity. Workouts become longer and slower as weekly volume becomes the focus of training. The aging athlete needs to do just the opposite if he or she is to perform at a high level despite the aging process. Workouts above 80% intensity factor (just below and above anaerobic/lactate threshold) with an emphasis on muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and sprint power (see my Training Bible books for details) should be the basis of their training two or three times each week - not lots of long, slow distance This change typically results in shorter training sessions but higher weekly average intensity. Such change stimulates testosterone release and helps to maintain muscle mass.

Strength training. Lifting weights is one of the best ways the aging athlete can build bone density while also stimulating testosterone release to maintain muscle mass. The use of heavy loads with traditional strength training is what is needed to accomplish these goals. Such training should include loading the legs which requires a great deal of planning so as not to impact sport-specific training in the build period (this is not necessary for runners to maintain leg and hip bone density). An alternative for the cyclist or swimmer who prefers not to load the legs in the weight room is walking or running several miles each week. I suspect that body-weight only exercises such as squats, step ups or lunges are not as effective as lifting heavy loads or the impact loading of walking and especially running when the purpose is bone density. Such training should be done frequently and regularly but vary with the season. Research suggests that this will ma intain or even improve the aging athlete’s bone and muscle health. You can rebuild bone and muscle despite how old you are.

Sleep. Younger athletes can make many mistakes in training and still perform at a high level. Aging athletes can’t. This is certainly true when it comes to recovery. As we get older adequate sleep is especially important. If you follow my suggested guidelines above, training will become more intense and serious strength training (or walking or running) adds to the accumulating physical stress. Sleep regularity, quantity and quality are necessary to allow the body to cope with this stress for it's during sleep that the body releases testosterone. Aging athletes must be very careful not to compromise sleep in order to fit more activities into their daily lives. The standard I use to determine if an athlete is getting enough sleep is this: If you have to use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning then you didn't get enough sleep. Go to bed earlier.

Nutrition. After sleep, the second most effective modality for improving recovery is nutrition. There are two primary areas of concern: adequate macronutrients, especially carbohydrate and protein, in the recovery period immediately following a high-stress workout, and a micronutrient-dense (vitamins and minerals) diet for the remainder of the day. The first requires taking sugar during a long and intense workout (water is all that is needed during short workouts) with starch consumed in the recovery window. These during-exercise and recovery foods are micronutrient-poor but necessary for restocking glycogen (stored carbohydrate) for the serious athlete (note that if you work out an hour or less a day then you don't need to be concerned with restocking glycogen). Once short-term recovery is achieved the athlete should greatly reduce the intake of starch and sugar. The emphasis should then be on micronutrients. The most micronutrient-dense foods are vegetables, fruits and animal protein. Akaline foods (fruits and vegs) have also been shown to improve acid-base balance. (As repeatedly demonstrated in research, an acidic diet due to a high consumption of cheese, grains and legumes escalates the loss of bone minerals and muscle mass. This is explained in Dr. Loren Cordain's and my book, The Paleo Diet for Athletes.)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

5km morning test - more to come

Quick update following last post:

Mon - Run interval set - completed a brief warm up and then 10x (30 sec sprints / 30 sec rest). Cool down to finish. Done in 35 mins. Brief strength exercises in the evening, although should have done more.

Tue - Appox. 70km on the bike. 40km in the morning - commute into Brighton via Partridge Green, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks, Keymer and then over Ditchling Beacon (9 mins of climbing) into Brighton - relatively easy pace Z1-2 (Z4 on hills), 1:40 in time. Return commute - Z1-2 pace again, some hill work but less than morning - another hour in the bank. Some stretching exercises on the foam roller before bed.

This morning I decided to do a bit of a test and after an initial 10 min warm up ran at above my normal race pace to complete a base time for a 5km distance. Following from my last post I am interested to building up my 5km, 10km, half-marathon PBs in preparation for an attempt of a PB in the Brighton marathon - that's the theory. My plan is to devote one running session a week for test data, which hopefully is a better way of monitoring my progress.

My main goals are to complete a 10km in 43 minutes and a half-marathon in 1 hour 37 minutes prior to April next year.

So the results from the first test data today:

5km ran in 21:27 - average of 4:17 mins per km (or 7:05 mins per mile). Average HR of 153bpm (Z4-5). I certainly felt some discomfort but not total exhaustion and believe there is room for improvement. If I was back at my Ironman weight (2-3 pounds lighter) and worked on my cadence (leg turnover speed) I reckon I could realistically aim for between 20-21 mins - although could I ever break 20 mins? Probably not without quite a bit more training.

Will try a 10km test next week to see how far away from 43 mins I am - I expect around 45 mins is more likely to be my first attempt.

I will keep you briefed on my progress.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Southwater Tri Relay - fun marshalling

Little training over the weekend. A decent Club swim on Saturday - lots of fast 50s (diving starts) followed by recovery 100m sets. At least I got 2 swims in this week, which should the minimum. Ideally need to build back up to 3 sessions.

Our annual club event was on Sunday - the Southwater Tri Relay, which I was very happy to marshal rather than compete. It is a great event and though I have enjoyed competing in the past, watching the full race and helping the competitors exit from the lake swim is even more fulfilling. Some competitors grab you like their life depends on it and others fly out and on to the next discipline. That is the real beauty of the sport in that you have the first time novice competing with the seasoned pros and age-groupers. As I have previously highlighted it really makes me proud to be involved with the sport. However fast or slow there are a growing number of people that want to get off the couch, get fit and just 'Do It'.

My week is not looking too bad so I hope to continue with my short term goal of getting at least 2 sessions of each sport (including 1-2 strength sets) in over the coming days. This morning I completed a short run interval session - simple 15 min warm up, 10x intervals (30 secs sprint + 30 secs rest), 10 min cool down - job done! This evening I hope to get in the 'cave of pain' for a strength session. Then Tuesday it is on the bike - the weather is not looking too bad so I may extend the ride (commute) to include Ditchling Beacon.

I am hoping to get my name down for Barn's Green half marathon at the end of this month (30th Sept) - this race is my nemesis - the first time I ran it I did my knee in and finished above 2 hours. The following year I managed a decent time but since then (2 years ago) I have clocked slower times. I know I am getting older but my training has certainly increased (improved?) over the years so I have no excuse. May be it is just one of those events at the end of the season where I just go through the motion rather than try my very best. I would really like to get a PB this year, despite it being quite a challenging race.

Race times for Barn's Green half-marathon:

2008 - 2:03:03
2009 - 1:40:58
2010 - 1:41:17
2011 - 1:43:29
2012 ?

Looking ahead at PB's - I would also like to beat my marathon PB of 3:45:20. A 3:30 marathon is approximately 8:00 per mile (sub 5:00 per km). I know to get anywhere near a 3:30 marathon I need to do sub 1:40 half-marathon (ideally around 1:37 - my PB was at Brighton 1:38:46) and sub 43:00 10Ks.

There is a decent looking 16-week plan for running a marathon sub 3:30 on Runner's World, which you can also download to a Garmin:

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/racing/rws-garmin-ready-marathon-schedule-sub-330/2764.html

Obviously I need to build in all the cross training in the pool and on the bike - not really appropriate for a triathlete, although I like the idea of setting myself some PB goals at 5K, 10K, and half-marathon distance in preparation for Brighton full marathon in April next year.

Might try incorporating a 5K run at race-pace this week to see what I can do and then build to 10K (ideally close to 43:00).

Friday, 31 August 2012

Training and Vachery update

Good bike session(s) yesterday, the morning included some decent hill work made all the more difficult on the singlespeed machine. Love the route via Edburton, Fulking and Poynings - beautiful views of the Downs before hitting Devil's Dyke - great way to start the day.

Unable to compete in the Club's handicap race this evening because of other commitments so decided on an easy run this morning - from the office to Hove lagoon and back, just over 11km in total - again love running along the seafront on a sunny morning, albeit the temperatures are dropping a bit.

Just been sent the first video of the Vachery XTri event by Graeme, very professionally put together - he is seriously good at filmmaking. This one really focuses on the pros with broader 'promo' style video to follow covering the age-groupers and road tri events, however I do get a small part as we enter the water from the pontoon.

Take a look by following this link: http://youtu.be/Kqbj8oBVJX4

Looking forward to the Club's annual relay event on Sunday at Southwater lake - always great to be a part of the day and help the Club raise their profile and indeed the sport as a whole - we get a lot of first-timers taking part. More details can be found on our Club website:

http://www.a2tri.com/relay.aspx

Have a great day and stay healthy

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Taking my lead - 'Dan is the Man'

It is great to see friends that have suddendly got the cycling / triathlon bug and then followed up by committing to a few challenging races.

Two of my colleagues from work have now bought bikes, one of them (Charlie) is already whipping me on the hills, albeit he is considerably lighter and younger than me - that's my excuse!

Now, I have heard that Dan, who I met a few months ago and got to know well, has entered Ironman Austria for 2013, after apparently being inspired by my blog: http://journeytoironmanaustria.blogspot.co.uk/. His work colleague, David Ball, also plans to enter IM Austria for 2014 - word is spreading!

If you take a look at Dan's smart new blog: http://www.danarmitageironman.com/ you will see he likes a bit of competition and has set his goal of completing next year's race (his first Ironman) in 12 hours 22 minutes, 1 minute faster than my time - cheeky fellow!

I encourage you to follow his progress and personally wish him all the best, although I will of course be tempted to try and beat whatever time he gets by 1 minute in 2014 - bring it on!

Week ahead - getting back into training

There is no doubt that my training post-Ironman feels 'patchy' to say the least - I am missing the structure and as previously mentioned need to define my goals and ambitions thinking ahead for next season.

I am experimenting with Training Peaks and their Annual Training Plan and Virtual Coach functionality to help me create some structure to my future training – more on that later. Meanwhile just simply trying to log 2 sessions a week in each of the sports – swimming, cycling and running should keep my fitness going for the time being. Coach Mark Ticker (MT) also mentioned that athletes aged above 40 (I am afraid that is definitely me – 45 next birthday) should also incorporate 1-2 strength sessions a week.

Last night I spent about 30 minutes in the ‘Cave of Pain’ (my garage) doing a couple of circuits including lunges, squats, step-ups, push-ups, weights etc. During the winter months I plan to build on this and up the volume.

This morning’s run, also on the advice of Coach MT, included a strength element – I took an easy run around Preston Park but stopped every km to do some exercises – 10x push ups and 10x dips. Total time about 40 minutes – not too heavy as I have to consider tonight's longer Club swim – 1:30 is scheduled. I certainly have found my swimming has suffered from reducing the time in the pool / lake from 3-4 times to only once a week. The plan is to build back up to 2-3 times at least.

So for the rest of the week:

Wed: 0:40 run / strength work + 1:30 club swim
Thu: 2:00 bike (1 hour – hill work + 1 hour easy) – Brighton commute
Fri: Club handicap race – short but fast and furious (normally 0:30-0:40 in time)
Sat: 1:00 club swim

I would like to get some activity in on Sunday, however, will be marshalling at the Club’s annual relay triathlon event – my job is pulling competitors out of the lake – great fun but somewhat tiring.

As we move into September the plan is to get the base structure right for the winter months (probably 6-12 hours of training per week). There is likely to be some races thrown in – I am thinking of Barns Green half-marathon, a 100 mile sportive in Dorking and possibly a DIY half-ironman in Brighton (just investigating that one). Thereafter it is thinking ahead to next year – first ‘A’ race is the Brighton marathon in April.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Vachery XTri event - race report

My first attempt at a XTri (otherwise known as Xterra) - the Vachery standard distance (1,500m swim, 30km MTB bike and 10km run) on Sunday 26th August.

Organised by a friend and member of the local triathlon club, Mark Davis of Horsham Amphibians Triathlon (HAT) this event was always going to be a little different but I was hoping for something that was both enjoyable and testing.

All the boxes were ticked - the venue was excellent, organisation by Mark and the Raw Energy Pursuits team was great and the bike course was good fun, albeit challenging. The weather was perfect although the rain on the previous day made the bike course very muddy in places. We even had the benefits of a nearby air show to watch as we competed.

My time was not that great but I was not too disappointed, this was always expected to be my B/C race of the season. I checked my watch as I got out of the water (1,500m swim) and clocked just under 30 mins. However it was a bit of a long run back to transition so my time registered 31:15. A longer transition (2:09) than I would have liked, which included me getting a pair of socks on before hitting the tricky bike course.

2 laps of a muddy and quite technical MTB off-road course felt more like 50-60km on the legs. Fortunately I did not come off the bike and I managed all the drops and technical sections. I did however lose time slipping around in the muddy sections and had to stop a number of times to reposition myself on the course. On the second lap I realised it was quicker to stop before the very muddy sections and run through with the bike. Overall I was quite pleased with my performance and managed to pass a number of riders during the latter stage of the ride. My total time for the bike was 1:22:32.

Then it was on to the scenic run taking in part of the Downs Link and the Vachery estate land. I felt OK and kept a steady pace, probably a bit to steady finding quite a lot of energy for a fast finish. I think my pacing was off and I should have broken 50 mins. My time ended up at 51:58.

Total time for the full event was 2:49:12, positioned 32nd out of a field of 75 competitors. Richard Stannard (aka 'The Fish') won the event in an impressive time of 1:58:00. His swim was 19:23 - wow! San Gardner who designed the course took the best time for the bike of 55:11.

Definitely one for next year - hopefully a little more training preparation beforehand.

Well done Mark - thumbs up for Vachery

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Tom Maynard Trust Charity Cycle Ride

175 miles (280km) on the bike in last 2 days - cycling from Cardiff to the Oval cricket ground.

I had the opportunity to cycle on behalf of my Company, Brewin Dolphin, for the Tom Maynard Trust in a charity event. There were 30 cyclists including myself, mostly professional cricketers who personally knew the late Tom Maynard.

My post Ironman fitness paid dividends because I believe I was much more 'cycle fit' than the majority of the cyclists and kept in the lead group all the way with no ill effects after the first day and near on 170km in the legs. A few of the cyclists pushed it at the end and were reaching respectable average speeds of 30-40km/h for a good 90mins on a rolling route. I felt good, kept up with them and also took my time in front.

Day 2 was a much easier ride with the group keeping together - a much more social cycle ride (still 70 miles) at Z1-2 pace. I will put in down in Training Peaks as a long aerobic recovery ride.

The climax of the ride came when we reached the Oval. We were greeted by thousands of people paying their respects to Tom and our cycling efforts. We were announced on the loud speaker and had to do a lap of the Oval ground waving to the crowds. The whole event was televised and ended with a very moving film of Tom on the giant screen. I got to know his family and good friends over the last couple of days (including Freddie Flintoff) and I know it was hard for them to watch, however a great tribute to someone who was obviously very well loved and liked by all.

Anyway back to reality and work tomorrow. I am planning to do a short morning run and possibly the Wednesday club swim. Then it is a bit of a taper before the Vachery off-road event on Sunday.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

And I'm back...

And I'm back...

It has now been 49 days since my Ironman challenge and about a month since the final post on my blog - Journey to Ironman Austria.

Apparently my previous blog was more popular than I thought and I have had a number of requests to continue with some brief details of my training efforts and future sporting challenges.

There are a few races already in the diary and a number of interesting ideas for 2013 - details to follow in future blogs.

In the final posts of my previous blog I highlighted the need for life balance. Post Ironman this is still very much my intention, how to incorporate the training with my work and family commitments.

Since the Ironman my training has been light to mixed - on average only about 5-8 hours a week but one week I managed about 13 hours, which was more like my normal rate.

As I reassess my goals for the latter part of the year and 2013 beyond I will start to put some structure around my training. With no imminent 'A' race ahead, with the possible exception of Brighton Marathon in April, I am going down the self-coached route. My preference would be to continue with Coach Mark T but until I am clearer with some specific race goals I have decided to save the coaching fees for a possible training camp in 2013.

Meanwhile I have a couple of challenges for the coming week, worthy of comment:

Tonight I am travelling to Cardiff to participate in a charity bike ride on behalf of the late cricketer Tom Maynard. I will be one of around 30 cyclists including Freddie Flintoff cycling about 140 miles over 2 days from the Cardiff cricket stadium to the Oval.

On Sunday 26th August I am competing in my first off-road triathlon - Vachery XTri event - a 1,500m swim, 30km MTB and 10km off-road run.

I will report back on both events plus any other training I manage to complete during the week. Thereafter I will provide details of my training plans and my progress with getting the balance right (or not)!

New running shoes and new SwimRun kit on its way

I decided to upgrade my trusty ASICS GT-2000 Series 7 to the new Series 8. I had run about 600km in my old shoes but had started to get some...