Monday, 30 November 2015

ROKA SIM Training Shorts - review

Before I start on my review of the ROKA SIM Training Shorts a quick round up of last week's training and for once I am pleased to report that is wasn't too bad on the volume front - I managed to record over 13.5 hours of training, most at zone 1-2 (nice and easy 'Pegler pace') including a long run into work (24km) and in total 9 hours on the bike.

I expect that during the lead up to the busy festive period the training volume will drop and my consumption of food/drink will increase - not the best combination but kind of expected for December. The main goal is to not overdo it too much and find an acceptable balance.

So onto a review of the ROKA SIM Training Pro Shorts.

I have always been a fan of rubber training shorts / swimwear, which acts like a pull buoy in lifting your legs up but still allowing you to kick. I think they are a great aid for those who wish to get faster in a wet-suit and experience a bit of the body positioning that you would likely expect in an open-water race.

ROKA is a US based company that kindly approached our club (Horsham Amphibians Triathlon) to ask if we would like to try out their top of the range SIM Training Pro Shorts and promptly sent across a couple of pairs (Mens, size medium) to get the Club's thoughts.

A good number of the Club's members have tried them out and the feedback has been predominately positive. All have remarked that their body positioning has improved and has led to faster times within the pool. Once experienced triathlete and top age-grouper (top 10 UK competitor at 70.3 distance) recorded a personal best at the 100/200m distances.

My own thoughts mirrored these findings that the SIM Pro Shorts certainly helped me go faster because of the better body positioning whilst not losing the ability to kick. The only slight negative was that the shorts came up slightly lower at the waist than I had personally expected - only marginally but another half of inch I reckon would have given me a more comfortable fit. I should say that about 50% of the Club swimmers felt the same as me and 50% had no issues and they sat comfortably at waist level. Whether a med/large might solve this one slight niggle is certainly worth investigating. Meanwhile, the shorts generally got a big 'thumbs up' and we have gone back to ROKA with an initial Club order.

Further details can be found via the ROKA website.

ROKA SIM Training Pro Shorts

Friday, 20 November 2015

Running going OK but still in comfort zone

This morning I managed to bang out a sub 6 min per km mid-week run into work, albeit on an almost pancake flat route - from Bramber along the Downs Link and then seafront to Brighton.

Over the coming weeks I intend to increase the time/distance and then will tag on another run shortly after/before so I experience running on tired legs. Today's run was a relatively gentle affair at around 18km and only 1:45 on my feet. I had previously done longer weekend runs but sometimes it may actually be more convenient to get in a long mid-week run instead (or as an additional session). This weekend I am unsure of the hours I will have available for training so thought it best to get some mileage in beforehand.

I do not feel any ill-effects from the long run/commute although I mostly stay within my comfort zone - 'Pegler pace'. Going forward I should not be afraid to schedule both some quicker and slower runs.

As the weather starts to turn a little colder I am starting to get a little more interested on jumping on the turbo. A lot of the guys are experimenting with Zwift, which looks a heap of fun. I reckon I could set it up with my existing trainer, Garmin speed sensor and ANT+ USB stick but am yet to download the software and give it a go. I would love to be in a position to invest in a updated turbo trainer - one of the latest smart trainers that have built in ANT+/Bluetooth plus can handle power more easily but for the time being my TACX Flow will have to do.

I will back in contact with my total volume for the week and plans for the coming days. I also need to post a review of some of the ROKA swim gear that have been recently sent to the Club.

Until then, over and out - keep on training!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Equipment review

Last week's training came up short in terms of volume but at least I finally managed to complete a longish run and test out some of my ultra equipment - some new and some purchased last season.

First a quick word on how near I got to my weekly (ambitious) time goal of 14 hours. Unfortunately I missed, yet again, by some margin (about 4 hours light). Here come the excuses...

The bike was light by about 2.5-3 hours because I opted for the car one morning as the weather conditions were really awful. It would have actually been quite dangerous to cycle into work. Then there was a big of re-jigging with my coaching/swimming and one of my morning runs that reduced the overall total. I am sure I could have found some way to get it done but in the end my focus was on the main set of the week, which was a 2 hour plus weekend run.

So it was up at 6am with all the gear including head torch (which was useful for the first 30 mins only), my new Salomon running vest and a new pair of Asics gel trail running shoes with Gore-Tex. 

The Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 12 litre  running vest replaced my previous Inov-8 backpack (I actually returned 2) with the lumbar positioned bladder that kept leaking. This high-end backpack fitted very snuggly to my body (I went for Med/Large size). This latest version is 30% lighter (only 270g) and comes with 2x 500ml soft flasks for hydration.

I found the soft flasks to be very light and easy to drink from. I left them in the specially designed front pockets and simply dropped my head so I could reach the mouthpieces - one side I had water and the other an energy drink. There was ample of storage space for extra clothing and nutrition. On this occasion I only took the 2 soft flasks a couple of energy bars (only ate one) and my waterproof jacket, which fortunately I didn't need. There was no rubbing or annoying movement from the race vest. I reckon the soft flasks will be faster and simpler to refill during an ultra event than the rubber bladder found in many Camelbaks and the Inov-8 backpack I had last.

I purchased the Salomon S-Lab from the Ultra Marathon Running Store. It was not cheap however I managed to secure a decent discount thanks to Mark (friend and fellow experienced ultra runner) who kindly offered me a code that he received from a recent race. Full details can be found via the Ultra Marathon Running store website - Salomon S-LAB ADV SKIN3 12L

You can also see my mug shot below with the race vest on and ready for action.

The other new addition to my ultra gear was a long overdue replacement for my Asics trail shoes with yes another pair of Asics - this time the Asics Gel-Sonoma G-TX Sn61 Gore-Tex (picture below).

The shoes fitted beautifully and although the Gore-Tex makes the shoe a lot stiffer there was no rubbing or pain whatsoever. It was probably a bit too long a run to break the shoes in but I was confident that they would perform - as indeed they did. I have been suffering with some Achilles niggles recently and I was pleased that I did not experience any pain during or after the long run.

In terms of my older equipment - my head torch worked beautifully, yet again, albeit I only needed it for the start of the run. My clothes were all good with the exception of my Skins compression shorts that I wore under my running tights - unfortunately I got a bit of rubbing that lead to some chaffing. Nothing serious but could have certainly ruined my efforts for a longer run when it would have become a much bigger problem.

So the week ahead... I hope to get in 1-2 bike commutes as usual. I expect only one swim (need to do more based on my poor 200m time trial times last week) and then a good amount of  running, hopefully including a back to back session over Sat/Sun.

Equipment check and selfie before my long Sunday morning run
New Asics trail shoes - did the trick

Monday, 2 November 2015

The week ahead

With the exception of the weekend just gone when my training was a big fat zero, the few days beforehand didn't look too bad and I completed nearly all of the sessions I listed in my previous blog post.

The key weekend slots throughout November are looking a lot less busy than my October schedule, so now is the time to really move it up a gear.

This coming weekend I am planning a long run and review of my new Salomon trail backpack. I also intend to dust off the turbo-trainer and set up my racing (Tri/TT) bike on it, ready for action. Other weekly goals include buying a new pair of trail shoes and some new swim goggles.

Today I re-jigged some of my life assurance to include a Prudential Vitality plan where I hope to earn lots of rewards for my training (Garmin link to Vitality account). Included as partners of Vitality are Garmin, Sweatshop and Evans Cycles - some deals provide Vitality members with as much as 50% off.

I plan to start by getting 50% off my trail shoes from Sweatshop - all looks relatively simple. I am likely to purchase another pair of Asics trail shoes with Goretex, however I also wish to try the Salomon shoes before making a final decision. I can see another equipment review blog post coming up! If anyone reading this would like to know about Vitality and their rewards scheme then please let me know - I get some useful John Lewis vouchers if I can make an introduction.

Anyway, on to the week ahead:

Mon: 2:45 bike commute + 1:00 club swim
Tue: 0:45 run + 0:15 strength work
Wed: 1:30 run + 1:30 club swim
Thu: 0:45 bike turbo + 0:15 strength work
Fri: 2:45 bike commute
Sat: recovery/coaching
Sun: 2:30 easy trail run

In summary, bike: 6:15; run: 4:45; swim 2:30; strength: 0:30. Grand total: 14:00. A big step up from recent weeks. The key will be completing the long run on Sunday and committing to the extra club swim tonight.

I feel in need for a run commute to help with the big mileage targets but that may have to wait until next week - one step at a time.

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...