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.

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...