Monday, 29 December 2014

Need to shed those Christmas pounds

So after a nice Christmas break and time with the family I have been picking up the training once again as my big ultra distance event is fast approaching.

I certainly am in need of some serious exercise as after a long 25km run yesterday and a decent pace swim tonight I just weighed myself to find myself still a good 6 pounds over my healthy bodyweight and probably nearer a stone off my race weight and what I should be aiming for in April.

I have set out a basic plan to run 3 times a week. 2 shorter distance (5 to 10km) as strides, hill reps, intervals or tempo and one long distance run. For recovery and cross - training I will build in swimming, cycling (mostly turbo / MTB) and some strength work at the gym.

A typical week should be as follows:

Mon - swim
Tue - strides run set
Wed - bike turbo / swim
Thu - tempo run
Fri - gym / spin class
Sat - swim
Sun - ĺong run

I need to pushing back up to 10 hours by mid January and 12-14 during Feb / Mar.

My long runs need to increase to 30km - 50km in distance and over 4 hours on my feet. Most of these long easy runs should be off - road and include plenty of hill work.

I cannot completely disregard my cycling as I have entered the classic Liege - Bastogne cycle sportive in late April.

It's all go!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A little run in Morzine

Back in Morzine for a few days skiing before Christmas - very lucky!

There isn't much snow around but we luckily found a few pistes open so got a few solid hours of activity in over the last three days.

Yesterday after we came off the slopes I managed an easy run around town and a short loop of the town, finding the scenic river bed, oudoor swimming pools, ice rink and high suspension bridge over the valley.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Gower Peninsula MTB weekend

Well what a weekend of cycling!

A very early start on Saturday morning meant I joined the boys at breakfast and well in advance of their proposed start time. The weather looked good so we saddled up and headed for those hills.

To be honest we were already pretty high up so almost immediately benefited from the amazing views of the surrounding countryside and picturesque beaches - it was simply breathtaking. I have been privileged to have cycled in some great places: South Downs (home), French Alpes and Spain but none were as dramatic as the trails and views of the Gower peninsula.

We were very fortunate as over the 2 days the weather was also very well behaved and I would even go to say pretty hot on the Sunday, however that aside the views was really what won the day.

Throw in some great company, good food, decent enough accommodation,  a few beers and Joe's ice - cream (a local favourite) this was an amazing way to relax and spend some much needed time on the bike.

If anyone is thinking of a weekend away on the bike I thoroughly recommend this part of the country, although it does help to have a local guide (in our case a friend from the Club sharing his favourite cycle routes) - thanks Sean.

Off to the World Cycling Track event in London (Olympic velo park) tomorrow, which should be fun.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Life turned upside down

Sometimes in life you are thrown a curve ball and before you know it everything is out of sink.

Unfortunately I lost my Dad 10 days ago and so you would not be surprised to hear that my focus on training has been somewhat lacking. I was very close to my Dad and he will leave a very big hole, however he has left me with many magical memories. He also would have wanted me to get right back on that horse and live my life to the full.

So here I am again, trying to cling on to some kind of normality and keen to get back to my beloved training.

I last left you with a brief post confirming a bit of an adventure and an off-road MTB ride covering the route I will run in April 2015 (Centurion 50-mile ultra event from Worthing to Eastbourne over the South Downs Way). I did start that ride and despite the wet and muddy conditions got to around the Firle-Alfriston area before being picked up. No disasters I just underestimated the time it would take and had arranged to meet me wife for lunch. I rode for around 5:30 hours but reckon that I needed another 1-2 hours to get to Eastbourne. The going was slow and some parts of the route were almost impossible to ride. However, I was pleased that for the most part I kept on going and my legs were able to carry me up each and every ascent. As a result of the ride I need to reconsider my goal time of 10-12 hours for the ultra 50-mile run, maybe 12-14 hours would be more realistic (certainly in current muddy conditions).

My swimming has certainly suffered over the last 2-3 weeks of inactivity with me typically only attending 1-2 sessions over the whole period. That certainly needs to be addressed. The cycling hasn't been much better although I have managed a couple of spin classes at the gym and another leisurely off-road ride with the boys from the Club.

Fortunately I have arranged a 2-day MTB ride in Wales (Gower peninsula) for this coming weekend, which is exactly what I need to get back on track. Hopefully I will back to report on that soon.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A bit of an adventure

Tomorrow I plan to cycle to Eastbourne on my mountain bike via the South Downs Way. It will be a perfect opportunity to check out the route and all the 'ups and downs' in preparation for the South Downs Way 50 mile run.

Full report to follow.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The start of a training plan and goals today

Well I thought whilst on gardening leave I would have plenty of surplus time for training, blogging, resting etc.

So far, it hasn't really worked out like that! I am a little bit like a 'fish out of water' and somehow filling up my days with stuff - I think mostly productive, however certainly time-consuming and the days just fly pass.

There has been a gradual increase in training but I worry that unless I have a plan my beloved fitness regime is going to pushed further down my busy 'to do' list. Also, with the loss of my morning commute, there is a danger that my total hours swimming, biking and running are just not going to end up at the numbers I would like.

So time for some structure and increased focus!

My training plan starts this week. The first 9 weeks to just after Christmas I have labelled as my 'Base', working on a 3 week cycle: 2 weeks increasing in volume and 1 week lower. So week 1-3  is 8-9-8 (hours), week 4-6 is 9-10-8, and week 7-9 is 10-11-8 - hope that makes sense. Each week will have at least one easy/recovery day. During this base period the focus is simply getting the hours in, having some fun and enjoying the experience - I call it 'getting my head in the game'. Saying that, I do have some sub-goals of improving my core strength (additional gym work - not included in hours above) and doing more off-road training in preparation for my 'A' race in April 2015. For those that have not been following previous blog posts that is the Centurion South Downs Way 50 mile ultra race.

After the 'Base' period comes 5 weeks of 'Build' when I will attempt to improve my strength and speed with more interval sets and hill reps. Following the 'Build' is 7 weeks of 'Peak' training when I try to put all the training together and the volume (becoming more specific in nature) increases up to 14 hours a week. Then a 2-week taper before the the SDW50.

Simple!

I really will try and publish more blog posts - it is certainly good for the soul - and I think shorter, more regular posts are of more interest for any subscribers out there.

So goals (training-related) for today:

- Easy cycle to gym (approx. 12 miles each way)
- 30 min core and strength work plus chill out in steam room / jacuzzi (well I am on gardening leave)
- 1:30 Club swim
- Start tidying up the garage and create better space for turbo trainer

Report back soon - promise x


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What's new Tri Hard Dave?

And I'm back!!

It has been a while since my success at Challenge Vichy when I logged another ironman-distance race in my training/event diary.

Since then my training has been light (around 5-8 hours per week) as my focus has switched to recovery mode. It has also given me a bit of time to work on other tasks both at home and work, which is no bad thing and makes for a more balanced lifestyle.

On Sunday I managed to get in a longer trail run (20km plus) and now feel that I am ready to up the training volume once again in preparation for the challenges ahead.

So what events have I got coming up and what are my goals for the months ahead.

Goals for the coming months:

  • Gym / strength work in off-season to improve core - consider crossfit or joining a gym, take some fitness classes
  • 'A' race - Centurion South Downs Way 50 mile ultra-distance run (target time - under 12 hours). Scheduled for April 2015
  • Complete Level 1 British Triathlon Federation (BTF) coaching course - start in Nov 2014
  • Shorter distance cross-country races - improve on 5km and 10km times
  • 'B' race(s) - 70.3 triathlon (half-ironman distance) - yet to be decided
  • Club races - try to participate in the majority of the Club's races in 2015
Other non-triathlon related goals for the coming months:
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle - already passed CBT (125cc legal), progression to direct access
  • Create a more decluttered and training-friendly garage (or 'cave of pain')
Some other news that is worth mentioning - I have been placed on gardening leave for the next 6 months (long story and not worthy of discussion in this training blog). This does present me with an opportunity to increase my training volume to levels that would have been difficult to maintain when I was working full-time. Hopefully this will help me in my preparation to my 'A' race and building up the miles off-road.

Now I am back online with more time on my hands I also plan to publish more blog posts to keep you informed of my progress and any tips I can provide on training, nutrition, health, productivity and general fitness.

Over the next few days I will be working on a training plan, taking the above goals into consideration, which will likely be bias to run training over the winter months.

Glad to be back!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Success at Vichy - goals achieved

Well I did it - another ironman-distance event under my belt and pretty much all of my race goals achieved (see http://trihardtraining.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/race-strategy-for-challenge-vichy.html).


I definitely finished the race with a smile on my face and saved a bit of energy so I could run strongly to the finish line (yes - I did say run!). The time on the clock was 11:42:56 so 40mins quicker than my first attempt at Austria, a new 'Personal Best' and under my 12-hour target. I was able to run the full marathon distance and only walked through the aid stations to take on some nutrition. I would have ideally liked a 4:15 marathon time but I can live with 4:26:10.

The other good news is that post-race my body feels pretty good. Straight after the race I was able to drink and eat (I even had a beer in the athlete's finishers tent and a glass of wine later in the evening). My legs feel good even after a 600 mile drive back to the UK on the Monday. So much so I am thinking of a brief recovery run later in the week. All in all I it was the perfect result and final outcome to my training plan, which began back in Oct/Nov last year.

So what did I do better - I think my long easy runs into the office (six attempts at 25-30km distance) helped and the weather was definitely much more suitable to racing than the high temperatures in Austria in 2012. In addition I took more salt (eating salty nuts) during the race and less sugary gels that previously gave me stomach problems. Finally I quickly got into an easy running pace (small steps) that I felt I could sustain for the full distance. I was constantly reviewing my body and how it was performing and trying to make adjustments to keep me going at the most efficient level. There was a lot more thought about the whole race rather than a single discipline.

Please don't get me wrong it had its 'ups and downs'. It is a long day and plenty of things can go wrong. My biggest mistake was made before the race began. A couple of days before I decided to complete a bit of light gardening and ended up spraining my right wrist, which was not the best start, especially for the swim or for changing gears on the bike. Other small issues - I stupidly put my race number tattoo upside down on my leg (schoolboy error!) - not a major tragedy but a little bit of stress removing it and getting a replacement. The swim was a bit of a battle for the first 500m - lots of thumping and kicking as competitors positioned themselves in the water. I tried to keep out of trouble but still got a few knocks, which must have slowed me down a little. Otherwise, a decent race - the bike route was not as hilly as Austria, however there was a bit of wind to contend with. The run, as previously mentioned, was not quick, however it was a relatively flat route (4 loops) and I was so pleased to keep going.

The low points - between 120-160km on the bike - your body begins to ache and I found it difficult to get onto my aero bars. The run - those 10km loops felt much, much longer - it was tough going!

The high points - a fast first 90km loop on the bike (thought I may even have a crack at 11 hours at one point - forgetting that it gets harder as the race goes on!). The best part was the finish line, seeing my wife and the rest of the Club (five of the guys completed the half-distance and were finished much earlier than me) and saving that final spurt to cross the line - magic!

I have posted the splits for all the guys on our Club website: http://www.horshamamphibians.co.uk/race-results-challenge-vichy-full-and-half-ironman-distance/

Hats-off to Chris who after a decent swim and bike had problems on the run - major cramping that ruined his race time. Although I have total respect that he kept on going to finish his first complete ironman - well done Buddy.

Thanks also to the support from friends and loved ones for again supporting me throughout my training and the event itself. I have some great memories.

Too early too say whether I will do another one or not. Probably not next year as I have already committed to another exciting (and long) challenge - topic for a future blog post.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Race strategy for Challenge Vichy

So with my main 'A' race in less than a week it is time to review my goals and overall strategy for the big day.

My main race goals, in order of importance for Challenge Vichy are as follows:

1. Finish the race with a smile on my face after enjoying the whole experience
2. Getting a personal best at the ironman distance of 12:23 or less
3. Obtaining a sub 12 - hour finish
4. Running the full marathon distance (only walking through the aid stations), with a sub 4:15 time

My race strategy starts on the Saturday after our car journey down to Vichy. Once I have registered for the race and racked my bike I intend to top of my energy reserves with some decent nutrition. Not too much walking around the expo and an early night to get as much sleep as possible.

It will be an early start when I take on the first food of the day, likely to be some granola, nuts, yoghurt etc with some toast or a bagel. Just before the swim start I will take an energy gel.

I will start the swim easy, attempting to stay out of harm's way even if that costs me a bit of time. Once I have found some space I will get into a steady rhythm and make every effort to draft off of stronger swimmers.  My target swim time is 1:15 with a 15min transition window. So the plan is to be on the bike after 1:30 at the latest. I will take enough time in T1 to put on my cycle socks, gloves, sunglasses and sun tan lotion.

Once on the bike I will start to take on some nutrition,  initially a few sips of my energy drink (likely to be a Hi5 based solution). Thereafter I will feast on 3-4 Zippvit energy bars (cut up into small pieces) and some salted Macadamia nuts. I will also ride with a small water bottle and top up at aid stations with more energy drink / electrolytes. Later in the ride and certainly before the run I will try to get down 1-2 energy gels.
I will ride with a bike computer and aim for an average speed of 30km/h for a 6 hour target bike split. I am happy to sacrifice 15mins of easy spinning to ensure I get off the bike feeling good and ready for the run.

If all goes to plan I will start my run 7.5 hours after the start gun goes off and will target a 4:15 to 4:30 marathon time to get me in just under the 12 hour mark. I aim to go off at around an easy 5:50 min pace trying to keep my foot cadence relatively high (around 90 steps per minute). If I feel OK after 2 laps I will try to increase the pace to something I can maintain to finish. I will be very pleased with one hour laps (4 to complete), each lap being around 10.5km. During the run I will take on more fluids and gels (if my body allows it). There is always the 'magic' flat Coca Cola strategy if all else fails - it did get me round last time. I do hope I can just keep going and my legs will not lock out as they did for IM Austria.  With the exception of the aid stations when a walk strategy to take on nutrition is beneficial I plan to run the full marathon distance.

Sounds good. Of course a lot can happen on the day!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Taper time in Turkey

Well it is finally here - I am well into the taper period of training just 11 days from my 'A' race, Challenge Vichy - a full ironman distance event.

And what better place to spend some time tapering than a week in a 5 star all-inclusive spa hotel in Turkey. Plenty of R&R and light exercise - swimming,  aqua aerobics, running,  and some gentle strength work in the gym. The only problem with such an excellent resort is the all-inclusive food and drink.  I am trying to be good, mostly going for the healthier options, whenever possible - I love fish, which is a bonus. Although I do accept I am on my long-awaited family holiday so I am certainly not living like a monk, ironman or not!

One day I did probably over do it in the gym and as a result had a slight ache in my left shoulder.  Since then I am taking it nice and easy. I am writing this blog after 15mins on the bike in the gym, 15mins run around the resort estate and 10mins swim. Then 5mins in the steam room before heading down for breakfast.

This afternoon I will probably do 2-3 more circuits of a sea swim / beach run combo that I put together. I swim around some buoys, approx. 300m in distance (according to my Garmin) and then run along the beach for 200m - nice and easy pace.

A few more days of spoiling myself and then it is back to the UK to organise all my gear for the race. We will be driving over so I will post my list of equipment beforehand.

Now where was I - are yes, chilling!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Less than 4 weeks to A Race

During the week of the Brompton World Championships my legs (and generally whole body) felt relatively fatigued and so I was grateful for a few recovery days.

Last week my intention was to build the volume back up for the final 2 weeks before my taper period. So how did I do...

Well not too bad. I unfortunately missed the long Wednesday Club swim (1:30) but got in a decent 17km run and a 113km ride on the TT bike. In total a 15 hour week with no ill-effects and lingering fatigue.

The long ride was another dress rehearsal with tri suit, race helmet ('Sonic the Hedgehog' look), and nutrition practice. Going to go with the ZipVit energy bars (3x bars cut up in chunks) and some Macadamia nuts for salt/protein, together with a sports drink / electrolyte as fluid (probably High 5). When I put together my race plan, which I plan to post to the Tri Hard Training Blog in due course, I will re-confirm my nutrition strategy, not just for the bike but on the run.

So the ironman journey is finally coming to an end once again - I have one more high volume week and then 3 weeks of taper before the race.

My plan for this last high volume week is as follows:

Mon - 1:00 easy run (or take as recovery day and add run to Tues)
Tue - 1:30 easy bike
Wed - 3:00 long run; 1:30 club swim + stretching
Thu - 1:00 easy bike + stretching
Fri  - 1:00 bike (turbo / intervals)
Sat - 1:00 Club Swim; 1:30 easy bike; 1:00 easy run + stretching
Sun - Either Club Supersprint event Or brick set + lake swim

In total another 15+ hour week including my last long run (IM pace - into work) and some multiple discipline days / brick session(s). Not sure if I will race the Club Supersprint event or not - it is an enjoyable race, a bit fast and furious, however not that specific to my ironman distance event and of course there is always a slight worry of injury, which I do not need just before my 'A' race.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A much needed recovery week and BWC race report

Last week's training was considerably lower volume than previous periods. I did however feel I needed it, hoping it would give me a short break before ramping it back up for another 2-weeks prior to the start of my taper for Challenge Vichy.

I had intended to take 2 recovery days (Mon/Thu) but it ended up being 3 as I was unable to make the Club Handicap on Friday evening due to a bit of a family crisis (nothing serious) that arose a few hours before the race.

I was however relatively fresh for the Brompton World Championships (BWC 2014) on the Sunday afternoon.

The venue for the BWC was the Goodwood Race Circuit. It consisted of a run to your bike (pictured below), an unfold and then 4 laps totalling 15.2km. I knew the competition was going to be fierce. A large number of very fit looking Italian cyclists had made the journey over to the UK to compete in this iconic race.

Keeping with tradition the race is a 'no Lycra zone' and you are encouraged to wear a shirt, tie and jacket. Most competitors also opted for shorts and brightly coloured long socks. My jacket was a little heavier and larger than I would have liked for race conditions, however I went along with it so I was on an even footing with the majority of the other riders.

I was in the 3rd wave of riders. As the horn went off I raced to my bike and within a minute had unfolded it and had made my way to the mounting position. My plan was simple, find someone a little faster than mysef and sit on their tail for as long as I can. Generally that was exactly what I did although there were times when I lost the back wheel of the fastest riders and other times when I had to switch because the pace was not fast enough. There were segments when I was not drafting and also when the wind picked up. On these occasions my speed dropped to below my target 30km per hour. Although for the most part I was riding at between 33-40km per hour.

I put in a lot of effort at the finish and sprinted across the line for a time of approx. 28mins. The provisional results showed me as 82nd out a field of 500 but I was told that there were many more riders than that and it was likely the results would be revised.

As more results were processed I dropped to 101st position, although by yesterday afternoon the officials had revised my time to 27:20 and listed me at 95th position out of a field of over 700 - not too shabby!

All in all a good fun event and a bit of intensity training, however not very ironman specific.

So this week and next needs to be back to higher volume ironman specific training and my last big efforts before my A-race in Vichy. It will probably include one long bike (5 hours on my TT bike) and my final long run (3 hours).

Then it is taper time!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A little fatigued but hanging in there

Another big volume week in the bank. Highlights being my 5th attempt at running into work (28km plus) and another dress rehearsal on the TT bike at IM pace.

The only issue was that 3 of the heavier sessions were on consecuetive days and by the end of the week I very much needed a break with my energy levels running low.

So this week (fortunately down as a recovery week) started with a rest day on Monday.

Tuesday's morning session was a strange one - a 15.2km time trial on my folding Brompton bicycle. Why, you may ask, a bit random and not very IM race specific?

The answer is simply that I have a bit of a fun race on Sunday, although I need to treat it with some respect. I am competing in the Brompton World Championships, hosted at Goodwood Race Circuit. 4 laps totalling 15.2km but the rules are that you have to wear a suit and tie and of course ride a Brompton. My time on Tuesday for the 15.2km ride was just under 30mins, relatively respectable but only good enough for 170th position looking at last year's results. To get anywhere close to the top 100 riders I will have to ride nearer 35km per hour, easy enough on my TT bike but a little more difficult on a Brompton with its small wheels and limited gearing. Drafting is allowed so my strategy is to find someone faster than me and get as close as I can and hang in there for the 4 laps. My choice of clothing may result in a bit of drag but I am hoping it will not be a major factor, albeit I would rather be cycling in my Lycra. One thing I am guaranteed is that of the 800 competitors that have entered there is going to be a large number of very good cyclists and probably a few pros - it is the World Championship after all!

Yesterday's 11km run was a bit of an effort and my legs still felt fatigued from last week's big volume. I was in the pool in the evening for a hot endurance/pace/speed set. The main set was 15x 100m at a consistent pace. I managed 1:44 to 1:47, which I was pleased with, albeit with my trusty pull buoy.

Today (Thursday) is another rest day. Tomorrow I have the Club Handicap - a fast, furious and short race. Saturday morning it will be back in the pool and then the epic BWC on Sunday.

I reckon around 7-8 hours training this week, much less than the 12-16 hours of late but a welcome break. Next week it is back up to 16 hours plus for the last push before I begin my 3-4 week taper for Vichy.

I will report back with my race reports for the Club Handicap and BWC 2014 early next week.

Monday, 14 July 2014

4 more weeks of peak training - plan of action

So getting closer... Only 4 weeks of peak training remaining followed by a 3 week taper before my 'A' race - Challenge Vichy (an ironman distance event).

This week is another big one in volume, although not as high intensity as last week, which included some intervals, strides and a full-on dress rehearsal cycle session (on tri / time trial bike).

In total 3 swim sets (two Club swims in the pool and one in the lake), 3 runs (one long and easy) and 3 bikes sets (again mostly easy), broken down as follows:

Mon - 1:00 steady run [DONE]
Tue - 2:30 easy-steady bike (commute)
Wed - 0:45 run/fitness set; 1:30 Club swim
Thu - 1:30 easy bike
Fri - 3:00 long run (IM pace)
Sat - 1:00 Club swim
Sun - 3:00 easy-steady bike (IM pace - TT bike); 0:45 lake swim

As it is all relatively easy training I am not taking a rest day, although will review as the week progresses.

With a bit of easy strength work / foam roller massage thrown in I am aiming for around a 15-hour training week.

The following week I will probably drop the volume back down to around 10 hours (recovery period) before ramping the hours up again for the last 2 weeks of peak training (16 hours+).

The taper period will begin on the week of August 11th and last the final 3 weeks. I am off on a week holiday on the 16th so that is a great opportunity to get some much needed rest and relaxation before my race day, although I will have to watch my weight a little. During the taper period the hours will drop below 7 hours and more likely to 3 hours on the week before (all very light training, just ticking over).

Some good news on my weight goal - finally got under my normal fighting weight of 12 stone and currently around 11 stone 8 lbs (after exercise). Going into the race around 11.5 stone should certainly help on the run.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Great training week - feeling strong

It was one of those weeks - decent volume, great sessions, no injuries - ended feeling strong and wanting more.

The highlights were a strong sea swim in choppy Brighton waters, an interval bike session and a Vichy dress rehearsal with tri bikes, tri suits and race nutrition.

All in all a 13+ hour training week with some quality workouts.

Looking forward to next week and maintaining the quality and keeping strong and injury free.

Will check in soon with my plan for next week, which is likely to include another long run to work.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A mix of tough sessions and rest days

A quick round up of last week's training:

Generally it felt more like a recovery week than a 'run/swim' focus and I actually took 3 rest days in total - Monday, Friday and Sunday. In between those rest days were some pretty good quality sessions.

On Tuesday I was on the track with some easy laps mixed up with 2x Tabata sets. For those not familiar with the so-called 'Tabata' set, it is only 4 minutes of training broken down as follows - 20 secs 100% and 10 secs of recovery - repeat 8 times. They are quite tough sets, 2-3 in any one sessions is probably more than enough.

On Wednesday I had a little spin back home on the Brommie (fold up bike), leaving the car at the office. This gave me the opportunity to have another crack at running into work on Thursday. It was a glorious morning when I began my long run. I opted to run to the bottom of the South Downs, power walk up to the top, and then run the rest of the way into the office, a total of 30km. All went generally as planned. The only slight issue was that as it was such a warm day I ran out of fluids with about 5-10km to go - not the best planning (ran with my small camelbak). A part from that, no major ill-effects from the run. My legs felt a little stiff but my Saturday swim flushed them out.

Other training included the normal club swim on Wednesday and some cycling on Saturday - to swimming pool and back plus 2x fast loops of Billingshurst with my old training partner and neighbour, Chris.

I probably could have squeezed in another run and a lake swim on Sunday but decided to take the rest and spend the time with my family. Over the last fortnight I have typically averaged 6-7 hours of sleep, so it was also nice to get in a couple of 8 hour sessions to top up the batteries.

This morning I cycled in to work, nice and easy but a bit of hill work (over Devils Dyke). There is a good chance I might go out with the young lads from the office at lunchtime and then I expect another easy commute home.

On Tuesday I will try to get in a sea swim and run thereafter, as a guest of Brighton Tri. In addition to a few other individual bike, run and swim sets I plan to log a decent brick session.

As always, all my training is logged on Strava:

http://www.strava.com/athletes/2773871

Monday, 30 June 2014

An update on training and few interesting bike sessions

To bring you up to date...

After my Arun Ironman swim I had an easier week planned, which was useful as a nice little taper into another Club event - Sprint Triathlon (750m lake swim, 20K bike, 5K run).

I was delighted to record another PB for this event with decent bike and run splits. Total time was 1:11:24 with the bike and run leg being 32:43 and 22:18 respectively.

Last week was down as 'bike focus' and I recorded nearly 13 hours in the saddle - it consisted of 3 non-standard, albeit interesting, sessions. The first two were part of a Charity ride - Tour de Baker Tilly - networking again! Day 1 was London (a lot of stop and starting), via Bromley, to Tunbridge Wells and then on to Crawley. Day 2 was Crawley to Southampton via Guildford. In total about 250km, mostly easy riding, but with a few nasty hills and fast sections.

The third bike session was part of a 'Stag Event' for a friend at the Club who is getting married. The Best Man decided we should be dressed up as 'Tarts & Vicars'. All the riders made a big effort to dress up and we all had a great laugh. Especially as there was a local triathlon going on at the same time and the spectators didn't know what to think of us. The 'Stag' (Coach Nick Finch) is a very good cyclist and to see him in a knee-high dress with full accessories on his sleek Cervelo S5 was certainly a 'sight to see'. I wouldn't call it 'proper training' as we had to keep stopping to answer questions on route, however like all such events it did become a little competitive and it was mileage nevertheless. Anyway it went on Strava to add to my weekly total:

Otherwise last week was a little light on running and swimming, however I was pleased to complete some faster runs without the recent tendonitis niggles - hopefully just about cleared up.

So what for this week...

I am aiming for around 13 hours with the emphasis on swimming and running. It will include a long run (approx. 2:30 hours), which is likely to be a run into work. I also plan to get back into the lake.

Looking at my training plan I still have 6 weeks of training listed under the 'peak phase' with 3 weeks of tapering but that is going to whizz by. I do not have any more external races with the exception of the 'Brompton World Championships' but will try to compete in the scheduled Club events.

I will leave you with a few pictures of the Tour de Baker Tilly and Stag Ride - some should carry a health warning!

Tour de Baker Tilly - start of Day 2
Tour de Baker Tilly - afternoon stop
My 'French Tart' outfit - Stag event
'Stag' Nick (left) and Chris enjoying some post-ride nutrition
Nice and Aero!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Equipment Review: Z3ROD Vanguard Black (Stealth) wetsuit

Back when I joined my local Triathlon Club (Horsham Amphibians Triathlon, HAT for short) coming up for 5 years ago now, I purchased a mid-range Orca Apex 2 wetsuit at the TCR Show. There wasn't really much thought that went into my choice for my first wetsuit - at the time I had little to no knowledge of my specific requirements, I suppose the general feel and overall cost were my main criteria. A sales rep at the Orca stand squeezed me into what generally felt to be the right-sized suit and gave me a good deal - sold!

To be honest that original Orca wetsuit has done me well and I have no complaints. OK, over the years it has developed a few nicks but there is still some life in it and I could have quite easily stuck with it for some time yet. The one (big) negative with the Orca wetsuit was that I simply struggled to record good times and was typically slower than when swimming in the pool, despite the buoyancy benefits, that normally helps to improve my swim times. I felt that the main problem was the rotation in the arms, whether from a slightly incorrect sizing or more likely from the thicker rubber used in the arms region.

With this in mind I was interested to try out the new Z3ROD (pronounced 'Zerod') Vanguard wetsuit that had a good reputation for greater flexibility and better arm rotation. Fortunately a good friend and fellow HAT member, Alan Law, who manages The Physio, Fitness and Wellbeing Company, has just started selling Z3ROD wetsuits and kindly offered me a demo suit to try out.

The description on the Company's website is as follows:

Mainly made of high quality Yamamoto 39 neoprene, the VANGUARD is an extremely powerful and performance wetsuit. It features our Elbow 2 Elbow panel to give you the flexibility you need for a natural crawl. It’s as if you are wearing nothing at all! The Z3R0D Air Tech neoprene at the front of the suit will carry you high in the water, leaving you to focus on your stroke. And the Nano CSC coating will ensure you’re as fast as you can be!

Main Body + Upper : 5mm Yamamoto Aerodome
Lower Legs : 3mm Yamamoto 39
Arms & Shoulders : 1,5 mm Yamamoto 39
Back: 3mm Z3R0D Yamamoto 39
Coating : SCS Yamamoto

I am just over 5 foot 11 inches tall and currently weigh around 76kg (a little over my ideal race weight) and the standard medium size fitted me like a glove. It was slightly easier to get on than my Orca wetsuit (less tight) although I took my time because I was a bit worried about tearing the rubber, which was considerably thinner on the arms than my existing wetsuit.

The specific suit that Alan had available for a demo was the all-black 'Stealth' limited edition. I wasn't worried about graphics or not, however it was quite nice to know that it was a limited edition - quite low profile but very sleek.

My first swim in the Vanguard was at the 50m outdoor pool in Lewes (Pells Pool), an ideal location for testing it in a nice, safe controlled environment. I did need a little help doing up the wetsuit as unlike my Orca it zips from the top down. The main advantage for this is that in race conditions if any competitor got a hold of the zip cord and pulled down they could not unzip the suit. This is always a risk in the Orca, albeit it has never happened to me to date.

The buoyancy was excellent but not all that different from the Orca. The main difference was the arm rotation, it was that good I didn't even feel that I had a wetsuit on. It all felt very nice and most importantly, faster! The arms have some ribbed regions for aiding with 'grabbing the water' - a nice touch.

After about 500m of swimming in Pells Pool I switched to my Orca wetsuit - the arm rotation was like 'chalk and cheese' - it was definitely harder work to turnover the arms and I expect over the longer distance would produce greater arm fatigue.

In a way I didn't want to like it because it was a higher-end wetsuit that was slightly out of my price range (RRP £455), however there was no doubt that it offered an advantage over my Orca and sorted the main issue I had.

Fortunately Alan was able to let me have the demo suit for a very fair discount so with a contribution from my family (Father's day present) I am now the proud owner of the Z3ROD Vanguard Stealth wetsuit - sweet!

It's first official outing was the River Arun Ironman swim 2014, which I was down for competing in this weekend just gone. This is a fantastic event put on by the nice people at Raw Energy Pursuits and one that I have completed in previous years. My PB was 1:04 so I was out to beat that time.

This is normally a very fast race, mainly because it is a tidal river and one of the fastest flowing in the UK. Unfortunately, on this occasion the organisers slightly mistimed the start of the race (very hard to get exactly right) and there were no PBs from me or most of the other swimmers. I did however feel that I swam the 3.8km distance better than on any previous occasion and I simply put this down to my new Vanguard Stealth. My time was a respectable 1:12 on the day - 161st out of a total field of 351 swimmers that completed the distance.

I must get some 'Bodyglide' and remember to apply liberally before using the wetsuit for another long distance swim as I did get a small amount of rubbing in the neck area, nothing major and probably down to me for not taking enough time to prepare for the race - lesson learnt!

I have included a few pictures of the River Arun Ironman Swim 2014 and another pictured at Southwater Like with Sarah and Matt who also purchased Z3ROD wetsuits. Matt looking extremely 'Batman-like' with the top of the range 'V-Flex'.

Me, Sarah and Matt at Southwater Country Park - sporting our new Z3ROD wetsuits
Team photo - River Arun Ironman Swim 2014
HAT Club swimmers, Alan in the middle, sporting the top of the range V-Flex

Walking to the start of the race - Stealth-like

Job done - graceful exit (not so Stealth-like)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Run & Swim Focus

Following my long 115 mile 'King of the Downs' sportive, Monday was taken as my recovery day.

However, I had big plans for the rest of the week...

As this is now my 'peak phase' of training my goal is to try and put the quality and quantity together in a series of 3-week blocks. The first week is run/swim focus, the second it's all about the bike, and the third is a slightly easier week to ensure I do not burn out / overtrain / get injured.

On Tuesday evening it was out with my fold-up Brompton for an easy spin / commute home. With my car left at work I was all set to run into work on the Wednesday morning. The weather had turned nasty overnight by fortunately it was only light rain when I left the house for the 28km journey. I ran at Ionman pace (just under 6mins per km) - nice and easy.

Wednesday evening I was in the pool for the long weekly Club session. Thursday was another recovery day with a minimal amount of stretching (had planned to do more). Friday was cool - I met a large group of local professionals at Stamner Park in Brighton for a corporate MTB morning - networking at its finest! The pace was relatively slow to cater for all abilities but there was a couple of really tough climbs and the weather / views were amazing.

Saturday was back in the pool and then a short run set in the afternoon. One steady loop of the village and then one fast, not leaving much in the tank at the end.

I am writing this blog after another decent length run up on the hills after being inspired by seeing my Club's South Downs Relay Team the day before. So what is the plan for the rest of the day:

- Gardening
- Barbecue and time with family
- Swim in the lake (test out new wetsuit)
- Bike Turbo set (possibly)

Next week I need to get in 2-3x cycle commutes and a long weekend bike. I am also competing in the River Arun 3.8km Ironman swim - nice to get a PB there.

Back soon with a review of my wetsuit. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a few pics of my beautiful South Downs run this morning.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Race reports and back on track

So a good week of training and it looks like I am back on track as I enter the all-important 'peak' phase.

The highlights last week must be the Club Handicap race and then the 'King of the Downs' 115 mile sportive.

On Friday evening I managed to escape from work to be up at Southwater Country Park by 7pm. My handicap of 10mins, felt a little severe but I was just happy to have an opportunity to race and wasn't too worried about getting a top 5 spot and potential cash prize.

I started with two other triathletes that were certainly faster than me on the open-water swim so my goal was simply to tuck in behind them to benefit from a draft. After about 100m they pulled slightly ahead so my focus went to sighting properly to try and execute a straight swim across the lake. I was pleasantly surprised with my speed and direction and as I pulled myself up on the pontoon I was not too far behind the other swimmers.

My transition was relatively good, deciding to exclude socks as it was such a short race (supersprint distance), however I had a bit of fun and games clipping in. The bike leg was decent and I managed to pass a number of fellow Club mates. There was a bit of healthy competition from Sarah, who is one of the strongest female cyclists in the Club.

Another quick transition and I flew into the run secion at full speed. During the 2 laps I maintained a sub 4 min per km pace and was able to pass a few more people. I sprinted to the line to receive a third position place and a cash prize of £6 - result!

After my success on Friday evening my attention turned towards the long and hilly sportive on Sunday, which started at Evans Cycles head office in Crawley.

Six HAT Club members met for an early start and by around 7:30am we were in the saddle for a loop of the North Downs to include Leith, Pitch and Box Hill. Over the full 115 mile distance we were expecting 9,000 feet of climbing. The pace was respectable although we were very wary of the distance and the thought of over 10 massive climbs. The food stops were very welcome and I almost felt guilty for eating so much, however it was going to be a long day.

The 2nd half of the ride started again near Crawley and headed out towards Ashdown Forest. This was my first time cycling in this region but I aim to go back. It was very picturesque although the hills kept on getting steeper, so much so that a number of cyclists were getting off their bikes and walking to the top of a few. I was fortunate to have a 29 cog on my rear cassette, which helped me to make it up the steepest of ascents.

The distance from the half-way point to the 3rd stop (approx. 90km to 145km) seemed to go on forever and ended on one of the steepest climbs I have ever had to get up. From there our part re-grouped and we tried to spin out the remaining 40km to the finish to log near 8 hours in the saddle.

All in all a great event, very reasonable priced, good food and re-fueling stops, albeit hard on the legs.

Monday will defintely be a recovery day.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Plan for the last week in the build phase

'Scores on the doors' last week - a lower volume of training with some intensity work on the bike.

This week is officially my last within the 'build phase' with the focus on a greater level of intensity and lower volume - quality above quantity.

My plans over the last fortnight have been slightly disrupted as my Achilles tendon problem (left ankle) has flared up again. Fortunately any pain, albeit minor, has eased over the last couple of runs and I am hoping to be fully recovered by next week when the 'peak phase' starts in earnest. During this phase, arguably the most important, I would expect to strike a good balance of quality and quantity, with the focus on race specificity throughout. If all goes to plan the volume should increase from the current 8-12 to 10-16 hours but steadily built up over a few weeks.

This is what I have planned for this week - some intensity including a supersprint race event but a long ride on Sunday as I transition to 'peak phase':

Mon - 1:00 Bike Turbo (power set)
Tue - 1:00 Run (easy-steady) / 1:00 Bike Turbo (another power set) / stretching exercises
Wed - 0:30 Run interval set (not too intense) / 1:30 Club swim
Thu - 1:00 Run (easy-steady)
Fri - 0:45 Club Handicap race - supersprint event 
Sat - 1:00 Club Swim / prepare bike for long Sunday sportive
Sun - 6:00 'King of the Downs' sportive - 115 miles and 9,000ft of climbing - a monster!

Some 14 hours of training if completed in full. A good mix of intensity work and a fun Club race trying to put it all together. Followed by a long sportive - over ironman distance - a great 'time in the saddle' test. Given this is a bit of a jump from previous weeks and the plan is to build steadily, my effort on Sunday is going to be easy-steady.

Details of the long sportive can be found via the link:


My next blog will include race reports on the first Club Handicap of the season and the King of the Downs sportive. I also have the opportunity to try out a new top-end wetsuit, a Z3ROD Vanguard Stealth wetsuit, thanks to Alan from The Physio Fitness & Wellbeing Company www.physiofitnesswellbeing.co.uk

To the next time...

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Slow recovery

Well this tendon niggle is here to stay despite all the daily exercises and ice treatment!

It is certainly not as bad as last time and only confined to one side (left ankle), however it is a bit of a bore and stopping some of my planned higher intensity run sessions.

I am gently re-introducing the running but progress is slower than I would ideally like and of course I hope the light exercise and stretches is helping to make it stronger. The discussion out there appears to be split between those advocating complete rest and those recommending slowly strengthening the tendon area.

Hopefully my next post will confirm a complete recovery and back to 'training as usual'. Only another week of the build phase and I am into the lumpy peak period when I expect to push the weekly training hours from 8-12 to 12-20 hours.

I will keep you informed!

N.B. Getting more interested in doing an ultra distance race next year - probably a 50 miler first.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

From 'feeling stong' to 'falling apart'

Last week's entry was titled 'Feeling Stong' and was posted after my long run into the office. Since then I feel I am falling apart a little, although as I now recognise the issues, hopefully I can take appropriate action before it gets more serious.

On the day after my long run I felt a niggle in my left tendon. Giving my experience when I last had tendonitis problems, which took almost a month to rectify fully, I immediately backed off the training. I also began my various stetching exercises and ice therapy, at least once a day.  All of which worked before (after time). A week later I have just done my first run since the niggle arose, keeping the pace and volume nice and easy.

For some reason I have also been suffering by some neck pain. At first I thought it was simply as a result of an awkward night of sleep but not sure if it is related to my swim stroke. Over the last month as the focus in the pool has moved to higher intensity I have been reverting back to breathing on one side as opposed to the bilateral breathing, that I was trying to practise more often.

Fortunately the stiff neck pains do not last for long and are not stopping my training in anyway. On top of the neck issues when I swam last night I also experienced some of the worst cramp I have had for some time - I'm falling apart!!

What I am getting better at is listening to my body and taking action sooner. As you get older it certainly takes longer to recover so it is not worthwhile taking the risk of long-term injury.

I hope to build back up the intensity over the last couple of weeks of my build phase before I enter my peak training when I try and put it all together: intensity, volume and more race specific training. It will be so important to keep injury free during this peak phase of training and before my big race at the end of August.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Feeling strong

Last week I recorded a higher volume training load, just coming in under 12 hours.

I am still in the build phase so the focus remains on some higher intensity workouts and lower overall volume (8-10 hours per week), however I do not wish to lose the feeling of getting in a longer session so still keen to include at least one a week.

Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to be invited to cycle around the Isle of Wight with the boys from the Club - a stag event would you believe it? From my last experience the IOW is quite hilly and I knew there were going to be plenty of tough sections during the 100km ride.

All of the Club riders were strong and the pace was brisk for most of the ride. I was most pleased, not that I could simply keep with the pack, but I felt so strong at the end. I remember feeling, is that it, I could do that again! Of course, the friendly banter, fantastic conditions and beautiful scenery all helped to make it a great day. Not sure I will feel the same after I finish the 115 miles 'King of the Downs' sportive that is less than a month away.

Since then I have completed a nice 11km negative split run and another open water dip in Southwater lake.

This morning was another long session, this time a 28km easy run into work. My pace was consistent around 5:40mins per km so took around 2:40 in total. Apart from having a bit of a thirst I feel pretty strong and no ill - effects whatsoever (so far).

Need to update you on a bit of new kit - some new race wheels and shoes. Would also love to update my wetsuit but a bit out of my budget at the moment. Will report back on the new kit in my next post.

Meanwhile,  work the uphills,  cruise the downhills and keep the rubber side down.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Getting some races in the diary

After my success at the Club's long duathlon event I have been keen to get a couple more races in the diary.

My plan was to select some longer single-discipline events that would be similar distance to my forthcoming Challenge race in Vichy. The one exception being the run as from experience it takes some time to recover fully from a marathon and I cannot afford to take a week or more off from training.

I decided on the 'King of the Downs' 115 miles epic cycle sportive on the 1st June and the River Arun Ironman swim on the 14th June. The cycle sportive includes nearly 3,000m of climbing so it is going to be a lot tougher than my ironman distance event. For that reason I do not expect to ride it at full-on ironman pace, nevertheless it should be excellent training and time in saddle. The ironman swim is like to be at slightly above race pace. Generally swimmers get good times beacuse of the fast flow of the river (if the race organisers get the timing right). My PB for the 3.8km Arun swim is around 1:04 so I am looking to improve on that time.

Last week was light on training, although following my efforts at the long duathlon race a bit more rest was welcomed. This week has started well with a 60km commute (hill work + steady pace work to return), a power set on the turbo, and a club track session.

The main set at the track was 6x 1km repeats, within a target time of 4min each. My first 1km was a bit fast and second a little slow. The 3rd, 4th and 5th were bang on and the 6th a little faster - nice way to finish. The pace didn't feel too uncomfortable, which makes me think  I should enter a 5km race (may be a simple local race in the park), to try and get under the magic 20mins.

Let's hope 2014 is going to continue to be a year of personal bests.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Another 'Personal Best'

Well it is nice to report a personal best (PB), especially as I am not getting any younger and they are certainly becoming harder to come by.

On Easter Monday I was up early to compete in the Club's long duathlon event, quite a tough one - 10km run, 40km bike, 5 km run.

I wasn't planning on a long taper beforehand but my training at the end of last week didn't come together as exactly planned so I did get a good 2-3 days of light to no execise leading up to the race.

Some of the seasoned racers were absent but there were still a number of competitors that I knew would be faster than me, especially some of the younger Club stars.

I tried to keep the first 10km run at a steady pace, just ensuring 1-2 of the faster runners were in my site. My 10km time was 43:00, which I was generally happy with. T1 was not lightening fast but there were no problems in jumping on my TT bike for the 40km circuit.

I knew who I had to pass and who to stay ahead of. The bike pretty much went to plan and I moved up to 4th place
(well 5th if you include the team that was sharing the 3 disciplines). I felt relatively strong but was unsure if I was ahead of my previous 40km bike best
(for this course) and below 1:10. I later learnt my bike and transition (T1) came in at 1:09:34 - not too shabby!

My T2 was faster than normal and I shot off for the final 5km run. There was a young boy, who was part of the team racers (each doing one leg each), just ahead. His fresh legs helped me to keep a good pace as I managed to run alongside him for the majority of the 5km. At the end he put in a sprint and although I countered I was happy to give him the victory for that single leg.

T2 and the final 5km took 23:46 giving me an overall time of 2:16:20 and approx. 3-4 mins off my previous best.

I felt strong and even that there was a little left in the tank, suggesting some fine-tuning was needed on my pacing to improve yet futher.

With a PB in the bag it has renewed my interest in racing and over the last few days I have been revewing a number of events, which may be going into my diary - details to follow.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Build phase going OK - the week ahead

Now 3rd week into the build phase - all going OK. Doing a little more than the target 8 hours - 12 hours in week 1 and 9 hours last week, however not overdoing it - trying to do the hard sets 'very hard' and the easy sets 'very easy' and stay out of that middle 'Pegler' zone!

I have the Club long duathlon coming up on Easter Monday - 10km run, 40km bike and 5km run - so I will taper down at the end of the week but meanwhile my plan looks as follows:

Mon - Rest day [DONE]
Tue - 1:30 off-road run incl. hills [DONE]
Wed - 1:30 easy cycle; 1:30 Club swim
Thu - 2:00 bike of which 1:00 interval set; 0:30 run stride set
Fri - 1:00 brick set (0:30 turbo + 0:30 run)
Sat - 1:00 Club swim
Sun - 2:00 easy bike (possibly MTB)

Last year I completed the Club long duathlon with the following times:

10km run: 44:32
T1: 1:08
40km bike: 1:10:35
T2: 1:06
5km run: 24:16

Total 2:21:37 (10th position out of 23 competitors)

In 2011 I did the same race in 2:20:40 so I will be aiming for a new PB this year

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Saying fairwell to a good friend - my Garmin 910XT

Hardly a day goes by when I am not using my trusty Garmin 910XT, although recently my old friend has been a bit poorly!

Unfortuately the elevation data has been very suspect. I go out for a 45min run and from my data it looks like I have climbed the Alpes. Garmin Connect and Strava are good at correcting the elevation data but it is a bit of a bore and I don't like my equipment to be faulty.

I tried to reset the watch and followed all the instructions to put it right but with no avail. Yesterday I decided to call Garmin for assistance.

I did have to wait approx. 25mins in the phone queue but when I finally got through to someone I was most impressed. They quickly listened to my concerns and then took me through a few tests on the watch, when I had to press a series of buttons and read out the data to them.

Within a couple of minutes they confirmed that little could be done and the only option was to send the watch to Garmin. I did go to the trouble of registering the watch on the Garmin website, albeit a little time after I purchased it through Wiggle. I had kind of expected Garmin to say the watch was out of its warranty and I had a nasty bill to pay. Fotunately those nice people at Garmin confirmed they would send a new replacement as soon as they receive my watch - what a service!

The only problem is that I will be without my dear friend for a few days. I am sure I will cope but it certainly will be missed.

One interesting point - my Garmin 910XT can talk to my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 via ANT+ and an Android App called ST uploader. So before sending it back I downloaded this morning's tempo set to Strava - magic!

My Garmin 910XT - all boxed up for shipping

Lactate Threshold Heart Rate test

As explained in my last blog I have now entered the build phase of my ironman training and it is time to focus a little more on quality and intensity.

Good to my word, this week I have built in some higher intensity sets and the opportunity to review my heart rate training zones. The plan is to complete a 30min tempo test set for both the run and bike.

This morning I hit the 600m outdoor cycle track at Preston Park in Brighton for a 30min tempo run and to test my lactate threshold heart rate. Joe Friel, the well-renowned triathlon coach has this to say about the test:

Determine your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) with a short test. (Do not use 220 minus your age to find max heart rate as this is as likely to be wrong as right. This is explained in detail in Total Heart Rate Training.) This LTHR test is best done early in the Base and Build periods.

To find your LTHR do a 30-minute time trial all by yourself (no training partners and not in a race). Again, it should be done as if it was a race for the entire 30 minutes. But at 10 minutes into the test, click the lap button on your heart rate monitor. When done, look to see what your average heart rate was for the last 20 minutes. That number is an approximation of your LTHR.

Note: I am frequently asked if you should go hard for the first 10 minutes. The answer is: "Yes. Go hard for the entire 30 minutes." But be aware that most people doing this test go too hard the first few minutes and then gradually slow down for the remainder. That will give you inaccurate results. The more times you do this test the more accurate your LTHR is likely to become as you will learn to pace yourself better at the start.

Establish your training zones. Use the following guide to establish each zone by sport.

Run Zones
Zone 1 Less than 85% of LTHR
Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR
Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

Bike Zones
Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR

So my average heart rate for the last 20mins of the test was 153bpm, which is my estimated LTHR used in the above formula to calculate my run zones.

The conditions were reasonable for the test - nice and dry and not too much wind. I do think I was wearing too much clothing and should have gone with running shorts rather than tights. I experienced a little bit of wind on the back straight but nothing too bad. I estimate my relative perceived effort (RPE) to be around 8 out of 10. Possibly I should have aimed to complete the test at 9/10.

Anyway, it has at least provided me with some decent base data. Over the coming months I am likely to repeat the test and make the necessary comparisons. My pace was 4:19mins per km, which I know I can improve upon.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Highlights of the last fortnight and transition to build phase

The week after I completed my longer 'Run to Work' (3hr+) and Peak District cycle (6hr+) sessions I opted for lower volume but an increase in intensity. The week of the 23rd March included both a time trial in the pool (200m/400m) and the Club's short duathlon race (5km run + 20km cycle + 3km run). Times were as follows:

400m swim time trial: 6:50
200m swim time trial: 3:17

Club Short Duathlon
5km Run: 21:46
T1 + 20km Bike: 34:32
T2 + 3km Run: 12:30

Total 1:08:48

Last week (the last of the base period) was supposed to be another high volume week (above 12 hours). I started well with 2 cycle commutes and an extra swim although 'fell at the last fence' and only managed a short one hour run yesterday (rather than the planned 2:30) - had some family commitments (Mother's Day). My total volume for the week was a respectable 11.5 hours.

It is amazing that my base has now been completed (18 weeks of mostly aerobic activity - building up the volume). This week I have entered the 'Build' phase where the volume drops a little and the emphasis is more on quality than quantity. A greater number of sessions will be focused on speed and strength work, albeit it should be a gradual introduction rather than a dramatic shift. Initially this means no more than one interval session per week for each discipline and ideally I should aim to complete two of these on the same day - so for example a tempo run in the morning and a turbo bike set in the evening and more bike-run brick sessions. That way at least initially two rather than three days are anaerobic, helping me to adjust to the higher intensity training.

I will continue to include one long distance session each week but a 2-2.5 hour cycle or 1.5 hour run will be sufficient. Now is the time to enter a few local races and include some testing sessions. It is advisable to include one rest day and training volume is likely to be 8-10 hours rather than 10-14 hours. If possible swim sessions should be increased to 3x a week with some higher intensity and pace control thrown in.

My plan for this week is as follows:

Mon: Club swim (1:00)
Tue: Bike - interval set (8 mins hard - RPE 8/10; 2 mins easy); Easy bike commute home (total 2:30)
Wed: Club swim (1:30)
Thu: Run - tempo test (0:45) + Bike - power set on turbo (0:45)
Fri: Rest day
Sat: Club Swim (1:00) + optional easy ride
Sun: Run - Z1-2 with some hills Z3-4 (1:30)

A minimum of 9 hours plus some stretching / strength work (not listed above). Let's see how the old boy does!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Epic Ride in the Peak District

This weekend just gone was the Club's trip to the Peak District - a great venue and a very enjoyable couple of days.

We opted for road bikes this year and planned an epic route with plenty of hills to test our endurance. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees travelling up from Sussex to our Youth Hostel destination in Eyam, however the wind chill factor reduced it further so full winter gear was required.

Our epic ride was planned for Saturday - After a quick stop and view of Derwent Reservoir our first big climb of the day was Snake Pass, which was approximately 10 miles in distance straight into the wind. Going was very tough but it didn't get any easier at the top as the strength of the wind was making it very difficult to stay upright on the bike. There were a number of times that we were almost blown into the passing traffic - a little unnerving, to say the least. During the part of the downhill we had to pedal hard to simply move forward.

Our coffee stop in Glossop was very welcomed and I topped up the energy levels with a large latte, salted caramel syrup and cream on top - probably a little too much! The hills kept on coming and the wind didn't let up - this was not going to get any easier.

We were a little disappointed on the distance travelled by lunchtime but after another refuel with some very nice 'proper food' we were off again to find those hills. Energy levels were pretty low after about 4-5 hours of riding only to find out we were a little off-course and were about 25 miles away from the Youth Hostel with a number of hills in between.

The group agreed to split into two (fast and steady riders). For the first 10 miles both groups had sight of each other as you guessed it, there was a lot of hill work (Strava list many of the segments as Category 2 climbs). At one of the highest points the rider in front of me was blown over by the strong winds. We were fortunate enough to be going with the wind. Cyclists coming the other way were getting off their bikes and walking down the hills for fear of falling off - it was mad!

Finally we made it to Buxton and then grinded out the last 10 miles or so to Eyam, up those final hills and back to base. 130km covered in 6.5 hours and 3,000m climbed, however the wind had made it so much harder and the boys likened it to the feeling after an Ironman event - we were shattered.

After a good night's sleep and some refuelling (and a few drinks - we were on holiday) some of the boys decided on a recovery run the next morning to Bakewell along the scenic Monsal Trail. I decided to join them. We kept a reasonable pace and all our legs seemed to be working. It was a beautiful trail, high up on the old railway line, through tunnels and with spectacular views.

Final refuelling opportunity at Bakewell with of course those famous tarts (or puddings). What a way to finish a great weekend.

Quick stop at Derwent Reservoir before tackling Snake Pass

Arrived at Blakewell - very scenic 10km recovery run along Monsal Trail

Derwent Reservoir

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A long awaited update and a big run effort to report

First an apology for any regular followers - over the last few weeks I have been merrily updating Strava with details of my training and my blog has gone to pot!

I think I may revert to some smaller and more punchy posts that I can maintain relatively easy and more timely - if you have any ideas or feedback about the content you would like to see going forward then please add a comment to this post.

Originally my blogs were simply a diary of my training and preparation for my 'A' races such as Ironman Austria, with the occasional comment about triathlon gear, nutrition, injury advice etc.

So what have I been up to...

Well there have been a couple of weeks of sub-volume training, where I have got in 6-8 hours and some quality sessions but have come up short on my target. I am still in my base period but had expected to raise the volume to 10-12 hours. Last week I came closer to that goal and I feel that I am finally getting more motivated and making some improvements.

This week could turn into a bit of an epic one. Following quite a tough club ride on Sunday, albeit with a few mechanical issues, I cycled home from work on my little fold-up bike (Brompton) yesterday. It was a recovery ride and I kept to zone 1-2. I also had planned a big run effort the following morning.

So that brings me up to date and news that this morning I finally completed a long run from my house over the South Downs, then via the Downs Link to Shoreham and on to Brighton. A total of 32km, which I covered in just over 3 hours at an easy pace.

I began the run at 5:30am so my new Silva Trail Runner II headlamp was perfect in lighting the way, especially on the dark trails. I am very impressed with this super bit of kit and thoroughly recommend the product. The only issue was that by 6am the sun was coming up and the headlamp was not required. As I was travelling light with only a minimal Camelbak backpack with fluids and some essential gear (phone, money etc.) the headlamp stayed on my head for the whole 3 hours. It was not uncomfortable but I did get a little hot under my running hat, which held the headlamp snuggly in place. I decided not to eat beforehand and did not take any nutrition on the run (except for some electrolyte drink) relying on my fat and carbohydrate stores to keep me going. By the end I was beginning to regret that decision, although I soldiered on and did not have much ill-effect. I doubt I will be doing a similar run for a while but it is nice to know my body can still cope with 30km+ runs without too much preparation.

I will gives my legs a rest tomorrow but still aim to make the 1:30 Club swim. On Thursday I expect another easy day of training to ensure I have enough energy for the up and coming training weekend in the Peak District - more on that in my next post.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Back on my favourite coastal path

I have a long way to come to run my favourite coastal path but I couldn't help packing my running shoes on our short trip out to Spain to see my wife's parents.

With children all off on school holidays we packed light and went with hand luggage only. I was tempted to bring my Brompton fold up bike but for a 2-3 day trip that was supposed to be devoted to some quality time with my wifey and her family that might have been a bit cheeky.

Anyway I still got in 2 runs, the second of which was via my favourite coastal path from La Zenia beach to Cabo Roig. Next time I come back to visit I expect they would have successfully extended the path by at least another few kilometres. Meanwhile, it was great to get a couple of runs in, especially as I didn't need my long Lycra tights, gloves, hats etc (all the winter gear). Unfortunately we are back home later today and I will certainly miss the 20 degrees plus temperatures.

The good news is that I hope to get a bike session in tomorrow before building up for a bit more volume over the weekend. Next week I am tempted to try running to work and using my new headlamp - I will let you know if I can get it together.

My favourite run

Good morning Spain

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Training Weekend

I knew it was going to be tough to get some quality workouts in at the start of the week because of a number of work commitments and early morning journeys to the airport so by Wednesday I was not totally surprised that the Strava bank was empty.

With only one easy hour run (wet and windy) logged by the weekend I was hoping that the scheduled Club Training Weekend could push me into the black although I knew my goal of 12 hours was going to be a struggle.

Saturday morning started with some land-based stretching and then into the pool for the normal coached swim. After a coffee and some toast with honey I was off for an hour run with the guys. The group was mixed and on this occasion I was one of the more seasoned runners. After a 2-mile warm up and some stretching the main set was 10x 45secs sprints uphill with a recovery jog back down each time. It was quite a tough workout and I was pleased for the easy jog back to Christs Hospital leisure centre.

After some lunch I was back for more, this time with my turbo and road bike for an indoor cycling session. Once set up I was looking forward to the 1:30 Sufferfest workout that was playing via a computer and projected onto a large screen for the 15-20 triathletes in the room to see. 2-3 big fans was keeping the temperature cool enough to be comfortable. 

Unfortunately only 15mins into the session the power in the leisure centre was cut and the projector and fans died. Coach Nick F jumped in to take the remainder of the set 'old-school', shouting out commands and keeping us motivated in the small room, which was rapidly turning into a sauna despite our best efforts to let some cold air in through the windows. The leisure centre staff could have closed us down immediately when the power went off so we were lucky to finish the entire set - most of us were sweating buckets so Nick had done us proud - I called the workout the 'Nickkerfest' on Strava.

We didn't get away with the next scheduled session, which was Pilates as with no power it was probably going to be in the dark - health and safety!

After a good night sleep I was back for more punishment. At 8am we set off on road bikes for 8.5km loops, which included a fast rolling section and a nasty hill climb with recovery periods in between. Most of the Club's top cyclists were out so the pace was fast. We managed 6 circuits and got 50km in the bank.

I had a few jobs to take care of at home so I missed the post-ride run but was back for the swim later in the afternoon. I had the option of doing a big endurance set or going 'back to basics' with a long technique set. As my legs were a little fatigued and my swim technique always needs a bit of work I decided against the tougher endurance set and went for 'back to basics'.

The swim was welcomed and I always find it helps to stop the legs getting too stiff after a tough run / ride.

I was unable to make the last session of the day, which was some core strengthening but overall felt I had experienced some quality training, kindly organised by the Club, and finished the week with a respectable total, albeit some way off my target hours.

This week is also supposed to be a big training week. Again I have started slowly but as I am holiday I hope to get in some decent workouts mixed in with some quality family time. Part of the holiday involves a short trip over to Spain, my running shoes are packed.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Long time no see

Well my recent 11 hour plus training week was followed by an easier period of just under 8 hours. This coming week and next it ramps up yet again.

Last week included some tempo work both on the bike (all turbo trainer) and track but nothing too long. I was pleased to get in another 3.5 hours of swimming (3 sets), which is certainly helping me to improve in my weakest discipline. One of the swim sets was some 1-2-1 coaching with Mike (one of the Tri Club's swim coaches). He was generally impressed with my progress, especially in relation to my bilateral breathing and better body position (improved roll) but gave me some homework to help with hand entry and my catch / pull technique.

This week will be interesting as I have a number of work engagements and early morning commitments (taking children to airports at crazy hours!). Normally it would have been very difficult to get in 12 hours plus of training, however I am fortunate that the Club has a training weekend planned, which should drastically increase the volume (total of 11 hours scheduled for the weekend alone, if I did every session). I aim to get in an easy bike tomorrow, swim on Wednesday and long run on Thursday morning (another early start) beforehand. If all goes to plan I should easily hit my goal training volume, setting me up nicely for another big week thereafter, at which time I have some time away from the office to complete all the training. This week is slightly more run focus and then it is all about the bike.

I am keen to use my Birthday present, a smart Silva Trail Runner II headlamp, which is marketed as a powerful, lightweight running lamp that is ideal for early morning off-road runs. One of these days I will drive into work, cycle home on my Brompton and then return the next morning on foot (a 18-20 mile trail run along the South Downs Way, Downs Link and along the seafront). Fortunately my car is then conveniently at the office in order to save my legs getting back home once again.

I did quite a bit of research before selecting the Silva Trail Runner II and am so far very pleased with my choice.

New Toy: Silva Trail Runner II headlamp

I have some thoughts for some future blog posts:

- Trying out the new Fitbit Force, courtesy of my cousin (Mr. Harddrive)
- Details of the training weekend and whether I met my increased goal target
- New Brownlee book, a good read so far

Meanwhile, thanks for checking in once again and sorry for leaving it so long between posts.

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...