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.

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...