Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It's Begun ...

Over the last week I have been working on a more structured training plan for the months ahead and my ironman distance 'A' race, scheduled for 31.08.14.

Mike P from ZigZag Cycling has been helping me define the main blocks leaving me to populate it with the detailed sessions. I want to share the initial plan on this blog but need a bit more time to put together my thoughts - watch this space!

I also have a bit of news on bikes as I finally ordered myself a Brompton via the Ride2Work scheme, although it will not be delivered until the New Year (B-spoke  order). I will certainly be devoting a few blogs to why I chose the Brompton and full details of the build.

Meanwhile, just checking in to inform any loyal followers that there is a great deal of interesting training content on its way.

Last 4 days of training (some still to be posted on Strava - having some computer problems):

Sat - 1:00 Club Swim
Sun - 2:00 Trail Run over the Downs - easy pace
Mon - rest day
Tue - 2:30 cycle commute - hill work

Yesterday's morning commute was a mix of easy Z1-2 work and a big hill (Steyning Bostal), which pushed me into Z4-5 to get the blood pumping. When I hit the coast I stopped for a few pictures on route.

Morning world!

Newly opened Adur Ferry Bridge

My first ride over the bridge

Also a nice picture on top of the Downs on Sunday:

Just love the South Downs

Friday, 22 November 2013

Another crack at 1km run repeats at Preston Park track

I hardly register on the Strava leaderboard this week with a miserable 2 runs to my name.

The first was an easy 10km to Brighton Marina and back and the second was another crack at the 1km run repeats I did last week on the seafront. This time I headed for the track at Preston Park to complete the session. The scores on the door were as follows:

1. 3:56min
2. 4:03min
3. 4:01min
4. 4:13min
5. 4:08min

Slightly better than my last attempt: http://www.trihardtraining.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/1km-interval-repeats.html

A relatively decent improvement on the average 1km time - down to 4:04 from 4:15 and below my target of 4:12 (goal 5km time of 21:00). It now does appear possible to aim for 20:00 and an average time of 4:00.

Although I expect most of my endurance work during the base period to be longer slower sessions I would like to continue to throw in some 1km run repeats from time to time.

Will keep you updated of my progress.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A slow start to the week

Last week ended with a decent Club ride and just under 3 hours in the saddle. I joined some of the most experienced (and fastest!) riders in the Club for a loop down to Brighton and back to check out the new Velo Cafe, which I featured in my last post:


I rode up to Southwater (about 10km from my house) to the agreed start point to meet with Nick, Andy and Mark D. We then headed for the scenic Edburton - Fulking route via Partridge Green and Henfield and onwards over Devils Dyke to Brighton (one of my regular commuting routes, albeit longer and faster!) We enjoyed the coffee stop - the place was busy and it took a while for our coffees to arrive but they were worth the wait. We then took the coast road home via Shoreham airport, Lancing college, Botolphs, Steyning and back home, again another very familiar route. The party split up after Lancing college with Andy and Nick taking the lead and powering ahead, the rather unfit Mark D (actually one of the most accomplished racers at the Club - sub 10 hour Ironman) preferring an easier pace and me in the middle, anxious to get home so I did not miss my son's gymnastic competition. Despite riding a well known route I enjoyed being out with the boys and challenging myself in trying to ride at a higher average speed than I am normally used too. My use of the wonderful Garmin 910XT was poor as I left it on during the coffee stop and then turned it off when I started riding again, useless! (Note to self - turn on 'auto stop' feature). I reckon we rode about 85 km so not a bad ride to bank in Strava.

It has been a slow start to this week. After taking a day's rest on Monday, I went for a relatively easy 10km run on Tuesday. This morning I had a 5am start and an early business meeting but was determined to get in my longer Wednesday Club swim. Unfortunately I was flagging when I returned home from work and opted out of the swim session. I am writing this blog in bed (only 9pm) and intend to get a good 8 hours sleep in. The running gear is however out for the morning, let's hope for some better weather.

I only have a 30 min window of opportunity tomorrow so may try a few 1km repeats on the Preston Park track. I now have a skeleton training plan for my 'A' race - Challenge Vichy - next year, which I need to study and populate with some specific sessions. Thanks to Coach Mike P for his support. I will share my training plan over my coming blog posts.

P.S. Fortunately I got home on Sunday in time to see my son compete in his first freestyle gymnastics tournament and was delighted and indeed very proud when he won a gold medal in his age group - well done Alex x

Friday, 15 November 2013

Velo Cafe - a new meeting point

I enjoyed a very leisurely commute into Brighton today. Probably one of my slowest commute times and certainly difficult to classify as training, although it will be going on Strava, may be under a 'recovery zone 1-2 ride' or 'fat-burning easy spin'. Although the average speed was nearer to 20-25km per hour rather than my more normal 25-30km per hour these types of rides have some benefits.  Not only good for recovery, possibly welcomed after my 1km interval repeats yesterday, but it did give me some valuable thinking time. It is nice to sometimes switch off from the training and just enjoy being on a bike reviewing the day ahead and thinking about your goals, challenges and opportunities. I expect my commute home will be similar, thinking about my plans for the weekend ahead, nothing too strenuous, leaving the more focussed training for another day.

I did have a chance to venture down to the 'Level' to meet with Nigel Lambe, a friend, fellow cyclist and owner of the new Velo cafe in Brighton, which opened just today at 10am.

Velo is a new cafe concept for Brighton, combining great coffee (Small Batch Coffee Company), great food and a love of cycling. Intended as a meeting place before or after a cycle or a destination in itself, Velo aims to bring great food and cycling into the heart of the community. In a city with a network of great cycle lanes, surrounded by some fantastic road routes and the best mountain biking in the South, Velo is the perfect location to meet up, fuel-up and hit the road.

Check out the website: http://www.velo-cafe.co.uk/about/

It is a great idea and I am confident that Brighton locals and cyclists are going to love it. When I popped my head into the smart new premises this lunchtime it certainly seemed to be buzzing. It will be high on my list for future coffee / lunch stops, whether on the bike or on business in Brighton.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

1km interval repeats

Trying to fight back after my recent overeating and drinking frenzy - I completed 10x fast stride intervals yesterday morning (a little undressed in shorts - bit chilly) and was at the pool for the 1.5 hour Club Swim in the evening. In the pool I continued to focus on bi-lateral breathing and improving my catch. The drills that Coach Mike P instructed us to complete, especially in relation to 'spearing' helped me to get my hands in a better position for the catch. One of my buddies from the London2Paris charity cycle ride recommended I pick up a copy of this book - Swim Speed Secrets:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swim-Speed-Secrets-Swimmers-Triathletes/dp/1934030880/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=53G0QTUG8CU&coliid=I1MG0ZBP0AU51L

One for the Christmas list!

In the changing room after the swim there was a healthy discussion about improving 5km and 10km times and the benefits of 1 km / 1 mile intervals rather than the faster and shorter stride sets and track circuits. It was recommended you take a goal target for the 5km and then divide by 5 to give a 1km goal. After a warm up and some dynamic stretching the plan is to run 5x 1km at goal pace with a 1min recovery between each km interval. Once the 5 sets can be completed comfortably and within target the idea is to run a 5km and review the results. It is expected you will have a much better chance of completing the full distance on target. If so, you can adjust the goal target. If not, repeat. It is probably best to focus on 1 mile repeats (same process) if you are working on a new 10km goal time.

This morning I thought I would give it a go. Given my 5km PB is 21:27 I set a goal time of 21:00, which equates to a pace of 4:12min per 1km intervals.

After a 10min warm up and some brief dynamic stretching (high knees, kick-backs, walking lunges etc.) I completed 5x 1km intervals, as follows:

1. 4:06min
2. 4:17min
3. 4:26min
4. 4:13min
5. 4:13min

This was followed by a 10min cool down and stretches.

The first two and a half intervals were into a slight wind before turning around and having the wind in my favour, which I felt certainly helped me for the last two intervals. The turnaround on the 3rd lap probably accounted for a 2-3 sec time penalty, although I was tiring at that stage. I was pleased that I had a relatively stronger and more consistent finish. The first interval, shows my relative inexperience and going out too strong - typical of many novice runners. Overall my average was a respectable 4:15, which would equate to a 21:15 5km time. I should make every effort to include a greater number of these longer (and harder) interval repeats to see if this more focussed training has the desired effect. It may be slightly more beneficial doing the intervals on the cycling track at Preston Park, as the results are likely to be less effected by the wind. If it works then I should move up to the longer 1 mile repeats. Thereafter I will seek advice on whether this type of training is of any benefit for longer endurance events such as Ironman.

The plan is to cycle into work tomorrow. I make take a slightly longer route and include some hill work.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Too much food and drink

The last week has involved quite a lot of travel and culminated in a trip to Harrogate to attend the Masterchefs of GB lunch or should I say 'food extravaganza'. As you may imagine a 2-day stay at an amazing hotel with a load of top chefs and copious amount of quality food and drink is not the best recipe for training but sometimes even a triathlete has to let their hair down!

There was some activity mixed in within the eating and drinking. The hotel had a small gym with some good quality running machines, one stationary bike, a rowing machine and plenty of free weights. I did two early morning sessions before breakfast on both days, an hour each. I also took my running gear but was only able to get in a walk with the wifey rather than a trail run around the hotel estate.

Tomorrow I will be back to the normal training regime with a morning run and evening swim. Probably another run on Thursday and hopefully a 2-hour bike commute on Friday. I do however have two other lunches planned this week so am going to be a bit more thoughtful on my menu choices otherwise I will be piling on the pounds.

With Christmas around the corner and eyes on a solid base period for my ironman training I cannot afford to neglect my diet or weight. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

From one extreme to another - hitting the trails

On Wednesday I was enjoying a nice leisurely ride on a Brompton and this morning I hit the trails for some pretty intense riding on the North Downs - from one extreme to another!

I met Nick, Andy, Hilly and Mike at Peaslake car park at 8am, all experienced mountain bikers and friendly triathletes from the local Club.

Within minutes of leaving the car park I was straight into Heart Rate zone 5 as the first hill took its toll.

The plan was to cycle all the well known trails such as 'Yoghurt Pots, Telegraph Row, Summer Lightning, Barry knows Best, Reservoir of Dogs, etc.

Unfortunately a couple were closed for maintenance but it certainly didn't spoil the fun.

During the ride there were a number of comedy moments and classic wipeouts mostly from Andy and Hilly, although I shot over the handlebars on one narrow single track - lucky not too much damage - only my pride.

After about an hour and a half in the saddle we stopped at Leith Hill Tower for a cup of tea and cake / energy bars (pictured below). Once re-fueled we made the return journey back to Peaslake.

This area is 'Cycling Mecca' for most local mountain bikers and generally much more technical than the South Downs.

A great day out and another one for the bank to push me up to over 11 hours for the week.

Now to clean my baby (Ellsworth MTB).

Details on Strava - check it out!

N.B. Also check out Mike's blog on the ZigZag cycling blog: http://blog.zigzagcycling.com/?p=1505

The boys - tea break and energy bars

Leith Hill Tower - the highest point on the North Downs

Friday, 1 November 2013

Back to proper training - a short track session

Thursday was a rest day, also a wet one in terms of the weather.

Friday also started wet so I decided to leave the bike at home but was determined to at least get a short run in the bank, whatever the weather.

I headed for Preston Park and the outdoor velodrome / cycle track. Once at the track I did an easy-pace lap around the 600m circuit and then 3 at increasing pace. The final lap (5th) was again at an easy pace.

My splits were as follows:

Lap 1 - 3:09 (5:19mins per km)
Lap 2 - 2:42 (4:32mins per km)
Lap 3 - 2:29 (4:03mins per km)
Lap 4 - 2:13 (3:37mins per km)
Lap 5 - 3:03 (5:08mins per km)

A total of about 40 mins with the warm up and cool down included.

Nice to get a bit of speed work in after all the easy pace base work - shake the body up a bit.

The cycle track is a decent local training venue but because of the raised corners is obviously more designed for cycling than running.

I will post my data on Strava when I return home. The goal is to do a lap in less than 2mins, which should be quite achievable.

Not swam this week so will be heading to the pool tomorrow morning. On Sunday probably another easy long run / cycle planned - building up that base.

A slightly strange, yet leisurely and enjoyable, training day

Wednesday was fun...

The day started with a journey up to Thorpe Park as a half-term treat for the children. I agreed for them each to take a friend, which worked in my favour because they weren't too worried for me to join them on the rides. So my challenge was to stay close enough (if they needed me) but also make best use of the 9 hours I had before I would see them again for the journey home.

From my last post: http://trihardtraining.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/ok-i-admit-it-i-am-beginning-to-become.html I made a reference to a Company called Brompton Dock that hired out folding bikes for a day or more. As we were passing close to Guildford on the journey to Thorpe Park, I had arranged to borrow a Brompton bike for the day. Given there was five of us in the car this was my only option to take a bike but also something that I was keen to try out for the day.

The process was relatively straight forward in that I registered my details on line (simple leisure membership for £1 per annum) and thereafter I would be charged at £5 per day. I swiftly got a text confirming the hire and that I should pick up 'Philip' (yes - they actually gave the bike a name!) at Guildford Station dock. Armed with a key-code to open the locker I found 'Philip' exactly as planned and was back on my way to Thorpe Park within minutes, a very efficient system.

Once at the park I got the children sorted and by 11am was on the road. I was impressed with the build quality of the Brompton and the overall feel of the ride was a lot better than I thought. The model I borrowed was the classic M3L, which had 3 gears, not my usual 20 plus. The few hills that I explored were a little tougher on the Brompton than would have been on my race bike however I managed to scoot along at around 20-25km per hour on the flat. The small wheels give it a slight 'twitchy' feel but acceleration is good and overall it is a fun and enjoyable ride.

I had a route in mind and headed for Virginia Water where I cycled through Windsor Great Park to the castle. There were lots of opportunities to stop ant take pictures (see below) - a great day weather wise and for exploring the area. I then headed into Windsor to admire the castle and take a picture of one of the local hotels (Castle hotel) where I proposed to my wife near on 20 years ago. After an hour or so in the saddle I decided a coffee break was needed. I remembered a Costa conveniently positioned on the river between Windsor and Eton, which I headed for. This was a great opportunity to test the flexibility of the Brompton, which I duly folded up and carried it in to Costa to buy a coffee. I did feel like I could go anywhere and this must be the greatest selling point for such a bike, especially for city exploring where it is more difficult to find a place to secure your 'trusty steed'.

On leaving Windsor I headed back towards Staines via Runnymede and some great views of the Thames. After close to 45km in the saddle I arrived back at Thorpe Park and folded up 'Philip' and popped him safely in the boot of the car. At the time is was around 3pm so I still had at least another 4-5 hours to kill. I checked in with the children who were apparently having a great time on the rides and the 'Fright night' entertainment.

Next it was on with the running shoes for an easy run loop around the Thames Path, passing some lovely riverside properties and boats. I returned as the sun was going down, banking another 1:20 of training time and 14km of distance.

At this time I was feeling a little hungry so after once again checking in with the children I pulled out 'Philip' again to cycle into Staines to find some much needed food. This time I had changed into my normal clothes and trainers (rather than my typical riding Lycra gear). It was rush hour on the busy roads but I shot along passing all the traffic not feeling any discomfort cycling in jeans and a jumper. I did make sure I was well lit up but made short work of the 4-5km before I hit a possible place to eat. Again the folding action came in very handy and 'Philip' was neatly stored while I enjoyed my food. A final 4-5km return leg to the car took my total mileage on the Brompton to 55km - not bad!

We finally left the park around 9pm so I managed to get a bit of 'shut-eye' before making the return road trip home, via Guildford station to deposit 'Philip' back in his dock.

Overall a great day of training (much cheaper than entry to Thorpe Park) plus lots of fun. The kids were happy and I was too - job done!

I do not think this will be my last adventure on a Brompton - watch this space.

Windsor Great Park - local wildlife
Windsor Great Park - Totem Pole

Busy cycleway / footpath

Beautiful Lakes

The Long Walk - unfortunately cycling prohibited

Windsor Castle

'Philip' the Brompton bike at Windsor

Return leg - at Runnymede

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...