Monday, 30 December 2013

Icy conditions on the road - should have chosen the turbo!

My training has been limited over the last couple of weeks. As mentioned on previous blogs the run up to Christmas was a little stressful but I had a great day at Calshott (track cycling). Thereafter I managed a decent long run and a few shorter sessions around the Christmas period when I visited my sister and her family in Belgium. A couple of swims helped to make the weekly totals around 5-6 hours, a bit under the target, albeit I had Christmas down as an easier week.

Last week I wanted to end with a long bike session and opted to get up early to complete a 2:30-3:00 route on my road bike. I expected it to be cold so had a few layers on, however when I left the house around 7am it did feel much colder than normal. At that time it was quite dark (I was riding with lights) but I soon noticed how icy it was and then regretted my decision to take the road bike rather than the mountain bike. I should have turned back to swap bikes but I thought it would get better as the sun came up. I only got about 5 miles down the road when I hit some black ice and even though I was only going slowly the bike slid out underneath me and I ended up on the road with a some nasty bruises and cuts up my right leg and thigh. Fortunately there was little damage to my bike, just a nasty chunk out my right pedal, which must have taken most of the impact. Luckily there was little traffic so I picked myself up, straightened my front wheel (not buckled) and continued on my journey. The conditions didn't get any better and my confidence had taken a bashing. I ended up gently spinning and free wheeling on any downhill not wanting to raise my speed much more than 20km per hour for fear of coming off again.

I changed my route, opting for a loop that wouldn't take me more than 10-15km from my house, as I was getting very cold, mainly because my work rate was so low. This was not going well. Finally I got back to the house - a disappointing session, about 1:50 in the saddle and not even 30km in distance - snail pace!

Reminder for self - get the turbo out!!!!

Oh well, a new week and I started with an hour swim at Steyning leisure centre where Chris had a decent session planned including 4x 250m of hypoxic breathing (every 3,5,7,9,11 strokes - different every 25m/50m). There was also some 50m sets in the warm up and some sprint work at the end before the cool down - all good stuff.

Tomorrow I want to get in a 1:30-2:00 run at an easy pace (all aerobic) - just plug myself in to my iPhone to listen to a favourite podcast or two and run.

The long Club swim on Wednesday has been cancelled because it falls on New Year's Day but I will be swimming again on Saturday. The turbo is going to get an airing and a ride on the mountain bike could be on the cards. I hope to push the volume back up to around 9 hours and 10 the week after.

Will check in later in the week to let you know how it is going. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Track cycling at Calshott

A lot to tell you ...

Sorry it has been a while - the last fortnight has whizzed by. Life has been manic in the lead up to the festive period and I have been 'burning the candle at both ends'. As a result I have been a bit stressed, tired and obviously my training has suffered.

I have averaged more like 5-6 hours per week for the last fortnight, well below my goal. I haven't been to the pool for ages!

Fortunately I am now on holiday until the 6th January and just beginning to calm down and refocus for the weeks ahead. Yes there will be more food and drink than normal and yes I will want to spend the majority of my time with my lovely family enjoying all the festive fun. However, I also plan to have a bit of 'me time' and that will involve some training.

Today was the start of some of that 'me time'. I had some business to sort out in the morning but managed to have an hour in Gunwharf Quays for a bit of Christmas shopping. Thereafter I drove down to Calshott and met some of the guys from my triathlon club for a lesson in track cycling.

Our first impressions were a little unnerving as the steep high banks looked very intimidating and we wondered how we were going to cycle at speed, clipped in to a fixed-wheel bike without coming off. Our fear was unjustified and after only minimum training the 8 riders (including me) were taking the steep banks and fast speeds in our stride. I am pleased to report not one of us came off and the friendly and helpful instructor was impressed with our performance. We finished the lesson with a 1km (7 laps) time trial, which certainly got the blood bumping. The track is a bit of way off the beaten track but I thoroughly recommend making the journey - it was a real experience!

Calshott indoor track
So what else has been going on ...

Well I had a decent chat with Mike from ZigZag cycling who has been providing some assistance with my race plan. One interesting observation he made, which hit home, was that he thought I may sometimes get lost in the detail and miss the main objective of the week's training. During this early base period he recommends focusing either on a long run or long ride (a single discipline each week). Then I should make sure that I increase those longer sessions by approx. 10% each week. So one week I might do a 1:30 run and the next week 2:00 bike. The 3rd week is normally more of a easier week. Week 4 might then be a 1:45 run and week 5 a 2:30 ride. Once I have committed to these long runs / rides in my diary I can fix my other training around the key session.

I am certainly going to try to implement Mike's recommendations and have added a column to my training plan spreadsheet to clearly indicate either a long run or a long ride.

Swimming on Saturday (hope I remember how to swim) and then a long easy run (1:45) on Sunday.

Just upgraded to a premium membership on Strava - will check out the new functions and report back.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Loving Strava - thinking of upgrading to Premium

I am loving Strava!

Since discovering I could download my Garmin data to Strava all my training with the exception of a few strength sets have been logged for public viewing. It is a great social platform for sharing routes, sessions, stats etc. with groups and fellow athletes.

I have just entered my first challenge to run 33 miles in the last 10 days of the year. With all the food and drink likely to be consumed over the festive period I thought it would be a worthwhile goal. It counts down to when the challenge starts and then tracks performance based on the percentage completed. A great example of 'gamification' and making it fun to keep fit and healthy.

For around $59 a year (or $6 a month) I could upgrade to a premium account, which provides a few extra goodies such as heat mapping, greater data analysis, 'suffer score' and access to some interesting training videos.

Ran a nice easy 10km today but aimed for a negative split, which I achieved relatively easily - approx. 3 mins deviation.

Got a short bike tomorrow and the Club swim in the evening.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

So far so good - windy training session

So far so good this week ...

Monday - rest day - sweet!

Tuesday I was on the bike, which included a few hills for good measure. Nothing to difficult as my legs were still a little fatigued from the high-intensity off-road segments on Sunday's group ride. 

Wednesday night I was almost contemplating missing the Club swim as I had to travel up to London and was a weary at the end of the day. However, I simply got in the car and drove to the pool before I could talk myself out of it. Once there I got it done - a long 2.2km warm up with fins, then 4x 100m at perceived effort of 8 out of 10 (averaging around 1:40 min), followed by another 200m drills / cool down. 

Thursday was a long run down to Brighton Marina along the undercliff path and up to the top at Saltdean. I was going well, in fact too well, and should have realised earlier the wind was in my favour. By the time I hit the top of the cliffs and turned back towards Brighton I realised why the first leg was so fast and easy. In the other direction the winds were howling and my first few steps didn't get me very far. I looked up to see seagulls struggling to fly and almost going backwards. Tough conditions and about a 9km return journey - this was going to be fun! I thought heading back down towards the slightly less exposed undercliff path might work, however it was not much better and nearer the beach I had the problem of the sand blowing in my face. So back to the top of the cliffs again and with new vigour I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and in the end found a relatively decent pace. Once back at the Marina I turned away from the coastal winds to find some shelter on the back roads for the final leg. It was a 'game of two halves' but in the end a decent 1:30 run session and 17.5km in the Strava bank.

This morning I was back out again, this time for my normal run / strength exercise around Preston park - some easy running, speed work and 6x strength sets (10 push ups, 10 dips, 10 lunges, 10 squats and 10 step ups) - 45min in total (30mim run + 15min strength) - job done!

So what are the weekend plans you ask?

Saturday morning is a Club swim and Sunday I will back on the bike, likely to be an early morning MTB ride but probably not as full on as last week.

I should hit the 9.5 hours target. Next week (target 10 hours) will be more of a challenge, especially as it may be difficult to include a commute (need the car for business trips / meetings). It may have to be a few sessions on the turbo in the 'cave of pain' (garage).

Have a good weekend loyal followers  and keep the rubber side down. 

Until next time x

Monday, 2 December 2013

Draft Training Plan - timings for first part of phase I - Base

Draft training plan - work in progress - specific sessions to follow.

Training Plan - phase I - Base

Week 1 - job done. More about the plan

Base week 1 of my official training plan ended with a 2:30 off-road cycle with the boys from the Club. Chris and I cycled from Ashington to Southwater Country Park (a nice warm up) before meeting with Nick, Matt, Mark, Hilly and John for a route along the Downs Link and then over the South Downs towards Amberley.

From the start the pace was full-on, speeding along the Downs Link towards Partridge Green then Henfield and on to Bramber. My heart rate was pretty much in zone 4-5 but I just managed to keep up with the guys (some of the strongest riders in the Club). There was some respite as we had to stop to fix not one but two punctures on Chris' bike. At Bramber we headed towards the hills and climbed the South Downs to the top of Steyning Bostal. Both Chris and I were struggling to keep up with the leaders so opted to part ways and take an alternative route via Wiston and home. The boys continued at pace and on a mission to get a specific train from Amberley that would take them back to Billingshurst. Chris and I had intended to cycle to Amberley but would have cycled back to Ashington. Given the time we had lost from the puncture stop it would have been quite a long bike ride so we decided to cut our losses and choose a shorter route home.

Another reason for limiting my ride was that it put me nicely at 9 hours of training for the week, which was bang on target. Next week I intend to increase the volume to 9.5 hours and the following week 10 hours. During the festive period this will be reduced and then I will pick it up again in the New Year with a 3-week cycle - first fortnight increasing the volume and third week slightly easier. During the base period (Dec-Mar) the majority of the training will be easy (not to much Z4-5 - like today!) and it is unlikely I will do many weeks more than 11 hours early on but towards the end of the phase the volume will increase to 13-14 hours. The goal is to be consistent.

Thereafter I enter the build phase (Apr-May) where the volume and intensity picks up. More speed sets (intervals, turbo, fartlek etc.) and increased strength work will also be included. Swims will be increased to three sessions. Brick sessions will also be incorporated. Some of the long run and bike sets will be reduced but I will add in interval sets. Weekly total will be around 8 hours but there will be much greater focus on higher intensity.

At the end of Peak phase (Jun to mid-Aug) I will have built up to 14-15 hours per week and should be able to comfortably complete: a 1 hour sea swim, a 5-6 hour bike, a 3 hour run and some brick sessions. I will still take one rest day per week (normally Monday).

I also have a 3-week taper built into the programme. Week 1 as no more than 7 hours, week 2 around 5-6 hours and week 3 very little (and easy) with alternating rest days.

My Coach has picked up on the following focus areas:

- Some experience from Ironman Austria and naturally well organised
- Particular strengths on the bike
- Willing to try new swim techniques
- Wants to improve on pacing and running off the bike
- Some aversion to sugary gels and needs to review nutrition plan
- Some inconsistency with previous training
- Possibly does not go hard / easy enough - too much training in narrow middle-band


- To finish and enjoy the experience (base goal)
- To improve on previous time of 12:23 and aim for a personal best (modest goal)
- To complete under 12 hours (challenging goal)

Key principles:

- Greater consistency and planned build up. No erratic or big jumps up or down
- Needs to be in balance with other areas in life, flexible and adaptable
- Greater understanding and focus on the purpose and benefits of every sesssion at each stage

I already have a diary divided up by the various training phases and started populating that with the specific times and sessions. The first part of the base phase (Dec-Jan) will be shared on my blog as a separate post.

I intend to keep a detailed record of my training and how I feel throughout (following Joe Friel recommended format - The Triathlete's Training Diary). My training data will also be held within Garmin Connect and made public via Strava.

Other areas I will explore is a more rigorous and focussed stretching programme, 1-2-1 swim lessons trying to improve my technique and possibly some nutrition advice.

There is a lot more to cover but hope this post provides some additional detail about the plan, which I hope will be of interest to anyone thinking of attempting their first ironman distance race.

Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

It's Begun ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning world!

Newly opened Adur Ferry Bridge

My first ride over the bridge

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

Just love the South Downs

Friday, 22 November 2013

Another crack at 1km run repeats at Preston Park track

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

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

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

Slightly better than my last attempt:

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

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

Will keep you updated of my progress.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A slow start to the week

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 15 November 2013

Velo Cafe - a new meeting point

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

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

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

Check out the website:

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

Thursday, 14 November 2013

1km interval repeats

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

One for the Christmas list!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Too much food and drink

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 3 November 2013

From one extreme to another - hitting the trails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now to clean my baby (Ellsworth MTB).

Details on Strava - check it out!

N.B. Also check out Mike's blog on the ZigZag cycling blog:

The boys - tea break and energy bars

Leith Hill Tower - the highest point on the North Downs

Friday, 1 November 2013

Back to proper training - a short track session

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

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

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

My splits were as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A slightly strange, yet leisurely and enjoyable, training day

Wednesday was fun...

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

From my last post: I made a reference to a Company called Brompton Dock that hired out folding bikes for a day or more. As we were passing close to Guildford on the journey to Thorpe Park, I had arranged to borrow a Brompton bike for the day. Given there was five of us in the car this was my only option to take a bike but also something that I was keen to try out for the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busy cycleway / footpath

Beautiful Lakes

The Long Walk - unfortunately cycling prohibited

Windsor Castle

'Philip' the Brompton bike at Windsor

Return leg - at Runnymede

Sunday, 27 October 2013

OK I admit it - I am beginning to become a bit of a fan of Bromptons

Probably not something an Ironman triathlete should admit too, however I am beginning to become a bit of a fan of Bromptons!

For those who don't know a Brompton is a famous brand of compact folding bikes that are handmade in West London.

The attractions to me are as follows:
  • Build quality is exceptional - this bike will last a lifetime
  • The fold is more compact than any other folding bike out there
  • The appeal of taking the bike anywhere, stick it in the boot of your car, plane, train, etc.
  • Although a slightly more 'twitchy' ride (small wheels) they can be quite nippy
  • Classic design and great accessories - expensive but very functional (the 'Apple' of the folding bike world)
  • I would love to enter the Brompton World Championships events that are held around the world
  • Not just used for a 5km commute. Many Brompton lovers take them touring and complete 1,000km+ a year
As I expect you have noticed it sounds like I am hooked. To be honest I haven't ridden one yet and given the cost (£850 - £1,500) I need to before making a firm decision. If I did love it, my thought would be to sell my singlespeed commuter bike and finance the balance with the Ride2Work scheme, which is fortunately available though my Company. The demand is currently so great that to get a new 'Bespoke Brompton' you are looking at anywhere from a 6-10 week build. You can buy them through a number of cycle retailers, Evans Cycles probably being the biggest, however they only keep a limited stock and there are so many colours and types to chose from. Even the second-hand Brompton bikes are typically fetching £350-£800 on eBay, subject to their condition and type, the titanium version even higher.

The best ways to try out a Brompton is either to use a 'Demonstrator' bike, sometimes available via your local bike shop (if they are a dealer). Alternatively, there is an interesting website offering Brompton bikes for hire (similar to Boris bikes in London) - check out:

If, like me, you want to know more about these great bikes then I recommend you take a look at the official Brompton website:

Be sure to check out the video for the Brompton World Championship 2013 (held at the Goodwood race track circuit):

Finally I would highly recommend you check out this great blog:

The most recent post, My Orange Brompton travels to Brighton and cycles one of my favourite routes - Undercliff pass and visits Shoreham airport (another one of my favourite places).

My Orange Brompton - great blog

Compact folding bike
I will keep you informed whether I am still as keen once I have taken one for a test ride.

Check me out on Strava

Top of my list of 'training toys' is the Garmin 910XT watch. Although I do not analyse every workout I religiously download the data to Garmin Connect, mostly to track the volume and range of monthly activities. Over the coming weeks I have been experimenting with different ways of making this training data more social, opening some up to the public and creating Club pages.

However, I have noticed at bit of a shift to the use of other social platforms like Strava, which have become very popular, especially amongst athletes that like to compare training performance and favourites routes. In addition there is definitely something to be said for claiming a 'Personal Best' (PB) or 'Top spot' for a specific ride or run.

I knew of the existence of Strava and got the free download to my iPhone some time ago, however ignorantly thought I always had to record training with my iPhone, which I personally find is slightly less accurate and convenient than using my Garmin 910XT. It was only recently when one of my Club buddies pointed out that you can download the Garmin data to Strava - now I can benefit from the best training tool (in my mind) and the best social platform (at least currently).

So over the last fortnight all my training data has found its way to Strava and now is in the public domain. This includes my long IOW cycle trip last Saturday.

I certainly do not get any prizes for being quick at the moment - most of my training has been easy to steady, however I do appear to be holding my own when it comes to training volume. 13 plus hours last week and about 8 this week. Hardly outstanding but a good foundation to structure some proper base training over the coming months and with my long-term sights set on achieving a PB for my next ironman distance event - Challenge Vichy at the end of August 2014.

I have already made some enquiries about getting some help and guidance on planning my training in preparation for Challenge Vichy and I look forward to sharing that information on my blog in future posts.

Strava link to this morning's easy trail run:

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Nice morning run - no Achilles tendonitis issues (finally!)

A nice run this morning with a focus on a negative split - the return leg successfully completed at a faster pace.

The good news is that, finally, no Achilles tendonitis pain that has been boring me for at least 3 months now. I will continue with the calf raises and stretches for a little longer yet but hopefully that it is! 

Now I can build in some longer runs and increase the intensity.

Nice morning

A decent week of training and a good Club ride

I was hoping for at least 10 hours of training last week and was pleased that I ended up logging over 13 hous in total.

Most was on the bike - in addition to about 5 hours of commuting / local training I enjoyed a longer 5 hour ride on Saturday with the boys from the Club.

We met at Portsmouth harbour at around 8:30am and caught the Catamaran to the Isle of Wight for a tour of the rugged coastline. Although I had visited the IOW on a number of occasions I was surprised on how hilly the coastal route was. There was a lot of ups and downs!

There were only 6 riders including me. Within the group were some of the most strongest and experienced cyclists in the Club so I knew it was going to be a struggle to keep up. As always the top guys were quite comfortable holding back the pace a little or waiting for the slower riders (Gareth and I) to catch up. I love these types of Club rides, although quite challenging there is always a healthy bit of banter going on, which makes them so enjoyable.

We were certainly ready for a lunch stop after about 70km of very hilly terrain, a couple of punctures, a spot of heavy rain, a few sprint sets and as you may expect some healthy competition. Fortunately as we dried out in a pub in Yarmouth, which served some really good nosh, and rested our weary legs the sun did come out, which made the afternoon cycling (another 40km) that much more enjoyable.

The hilly sections, although not too difficult, continued throughout the rest of the day. I was pleased that at the end I was not the only one with some weary legs. Even the strongest of the group had felt some leg burn during the five hours in the saddle. So the day ended with the crossing back to Portsmouth (this time we sat on the top deck) and there on the journey home.

I have just started downloading my training sessions to Strava, via Garmin Connect, which are public to view. You are welcome to follow me on Strava and check out the routes and my stats.

Friday, 18 October 2013

So far so good - planning for IOW trip

So a brief update this week and it is very much... so far so good!

Legs were a little fatigued on Monday (rest day) after the 25km trail run the day before. A swim would have been great, which I always find helpful after a long run, however the Monday Club pool session is still eluding me.

So Tuesday it was on the bike using my work commute to get some training done - I headed for Devils Dyke and some decent hill work. A relatively easy return but a bit of speed work and some 'fun & games' riding along (against) some other commuters on their road bikes.

Wednesday was a 11.5km run with some tempo work, only a slight niggle with the Achilles but with every run the injury seems to be improving and becoming less of a worry. The evening Club swim was interesting with the focus again on bi-lateral breathing, which I am really making an effort to keep to, plus a number of faster pyramid sets using the width of the pool.

Thursday was back on the bike, an interval set in the morning: 10min warm up, 8x sets of 1min all-out and 4mins steady, followed by 10mins cool down. An easy return last night but unfortunatley I got a puncture and my heart didn't seem to be in it, so my normal hour commute turned into a 1:30 ride (including 15mins to sort out the puncture).

This morning, a strength set around Preston Park - warm up and then 4x (10x push ups, dips, lunges, squats and step ups) in between some easy / hard run sets, followed by 6x strides (30 secs all-out and 30 secs rest).

So my ferry tickets are booked for the Isle of Wight and Saturday morning I am meeting a number of Club members in Portsmouth for the journey over. Thereafter the plan is to cycle one loop of the island (I understand around 60 miles) and grab some lunch on route - should be fun. I will report back in my next blog.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your training!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The week ahead - more focus on training plan

Now that I have an 'A' race in my diary for next year it is amazing how your mind immediately starts to focus on the task ahead, even though in my case the event is over 10 months away.

Most training programs, either developed by a professional coach on a bespoke basis or something out of a book are around 20-30 weeks so I have a bit of time to research.

I was pleased to see that the Challenge series offer training plans to all athletes that enter one of their events, which I understand is distributed via a regular newsletter. My initial thought is to take information from a couple of great books I have read on the subject (Joe Friel - The Triathlete's Training Bible and Don Fink - Be Iron Fit) and amalgamate with the plan provided to me in 2012 by Coach Tickner (when I entered IM Austria) and finally cross-check with any useful recommendations from Challenge.

I will aim to increase the hours per week steadily for a three-week cycle and then take one week slightly easier. Most weeks I expect to take one rest day. The plan will be to include a greater amount of strength work, to help with injury prevention, and more brick sessions for specificity benefits.

The main benefits of being in control of my plan is that it can be totally flexible. The clear disadvantages are my lack of experience, compared to a professional Coach, and simply not pushing myself hard enough or the opposite and worry about overtraining.

Over the coming weeks I will allocate more time and further blog space to covering this important planning stage. I also hope to get together with a couple of my fellow Club members who are competing in the same race to get their views.

Meanwhile, the plan for the week is as follows:

Mon - rest day (following long 25km trail run)
Tue - 2:00 bike commute (Hill work / easy return)
Wed - 1:00 tempo run + 1:30 Club swim
Thu - 2:00 bike commute (Interval set / easy return)
Fri - 0:45 strength / strides run set
Sat - 4:00 Club ride (Isle of Wight tour - to be confirmed) - probably easy pace
Sun - 1:00 easy run or brick session (rollers / run) - subject to Sat training

I will aim for 10 hours, which is a realistic goal, but a decent step up from the average 8 hours that I have been logging since the end of August.

Let's see how it goes!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Challenge Vichy - my ironman distance 'A' race for 2014

I have come back for more and entered my second ironman distance race - Challenge Vichy - scheduled for 31st August 2014.

This was straight off my bucket list -

It was mentioned as a possible venue a few months ago and now there is at least 5-6 club members from Horsham Amphibians Triathlon who have either entered the full or half ironman distance events. Hopefully more will follow, making this very much the main Club 'A' race for next year.

I am hoping this challenging goal will inspire me to put in place a more structured plan over the coming months that I can share with followers of this blog.

Challenge Vichy - My 'A' race for 2014

Let's start with 20 reasons not to miss Challenge Vichy, straight from the race website:

Challenge Vichy has ensured everything is in place to ensure the ultimate experience for atheltes and their families at this exciting new five-day sporting event.

1) Ideally timed on September 1rst, it allows athletes time to prepare for a full distance and enjoy the beautiful French summer days
2) Vichy is in central France, 3 hours from Paris, 2h30 from Lyon, Montpellier 4 hours, 3 hours from Bordeaux.
3) It is an "easy" full distance  compared to other French long distances such as Nice, Embrun, Gerardmer, Alpe d'Huez, Altriman. Ideal for beginners and for athletes who want to go for a PB.
4) Everything is located at the Centre Omnisports Pierre Coulon - registration, the expo, the transition area, the pasta party, the awards ceremony, the swim start, the finish line, the food court ... Ideal for the spectators.
5) Most of the hotels in Vichy are located within a 3km radius of the main race site
6) A village expo with about 30 exhibition booths will be set up also featuring activities for kids and regional speciality food tasting
7) An outdoor eating area adjoining the village expo, close to the finish line will allow spectators to enjoy the shady parks Centre Omnisports Pierre Coulon
8) A U-shaped stadium finish with 3 platforms that can accommodate over 800 people seated + 1500 standing will be build and with up-to-the-minute commentary . At each of their running laps, triathletes will pass the stadium finish. There, spectators and families can go and see their athlete and not miss the many emotional moments of the competitors passing the finish line and led by two rampaging speackers (Hervé and Eric Demougeot AMATTEIS) and 1 DJ (DJ Matt)..
9) A bike hotspot with live commentary will be set up in the main street of Bellerive sur Allier, a climb  2kms from the finish area. Crowds will stretch from the hotspot to transition, giving the athletes a welcome boost in the final kilometres
10) the Pasta-party, the awards ceremony and the athlete garden will be prepared  by a restaurateur-triathlete Laurent Ferreira, who has completed more than 10 full distance triathlons.
11) The triathletes will be pampered: backpack, visor cap, silicone swim caps , finisher t-shirts, finisher medal
12) On each aid station (every 18km in bike and every 2 km on the marathon), energy products will be available through HIGH5 (gels, bars, energy drinks).
13) A coach will prepare  training tips from 10 to 15h per week that are sent each months  by newsletter to all registered athletes.
14) During the race, one member of your family will receive by phone 5 text messages for Challenge Vichy and 3 for Half Vichy with the split times of the triathlete.
15) live internet will be established.
16) 10 laps will be broadcast in real time by the timekeeper ChronoRace.
17) To ensure the ultimate the physical condition of triathletes in the last week, some  swim training in lakes and swimming pool are planned. Every morning from 8am to 10am, Lake Allier will be reserved for the training with life guards. For those wishing to swim in the pool, Vichy Val d'Allier open its 50m outdoor pool,  open for free from  11am to 7pm.
18) On the swim course you'll feel like you're on an F1 track: the start will be given with bi-color  lights and you will follow buoys every 10 meters. All 500m, biggest buoys  will indicate you how far you've swan (500m, 1000m, 1500m, 2000m, 2500m, 3000m and 3500m)
19) To maximize recovery, physical therapists and spas / hot tubs will be in the recovery area to help recuperate weary limbs.
20) A Triathlete's Guide is downloadable from the website in English, German, French or Spanish

Swim Start - 'the washing machine'

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Product Test: Lezyne Zecto Drive LED Rear light

With the darker mornings / nights and heavy local traffic cycle lights are essential - my personal thoughts are you can't have enough and if you plan to ride in the dark best go out lit up like a Christmas tree.

Up to now I have ridden with an USE Exposure Flare at the rear, generally a good bit of kit, however a little annoying and costly to replace the CR123A batteries on a regular basis. I now understand USE do a rechargeable pack for the unit for around £20 but meanwhile each battery costs between £4-£8.

I wanted to buy another LED rear light to complement the Flare and headed over to Upgrade Bikes' great website and friendly and professional service.

The Zecto retails around £30. I am always impressed by the build quality of Lezyne products (seems like they have had lessons from Apple). The battery recharging is done via a USB style cable, which is ideal for me - opportunity to charge at home / work. I also like the range of flashing options and the battery charge indicator - all very slick, as I have come to expect from Lezyne.

As for the performance - it certainly appeared to be as bright as the slightly more expensive Flare, with more flashing modes to choose from.

Most quality retail outlets now stock Lezyne products, Upgrade Bikes being the exclusive distributor in the UK and run by my good friend and fellow triathlete, Matt Ryley.

Upgrade bikes also distribute the Kinesis brand, amongst others, and I am loving their new range of titanium frames. Certainly worth considering when I can afford to upgrade by Ribble frame.

Lezyne Zecto Drive

Lezyne Vecto Drive LED Rear Light - detailed specification
Commute / Road / MTB rechargable safety rear light.

ZECTO rear sets the new standard in rechargable, high-visibility lighting and brings added safety to every cyclist at an affordable price.

Three high intensity red LEDs are mounted in custom "MOR" lens for increased output efficiency.

180 degrees of visibilty with multiple side LEDs with double as charge and power indicator.

Compact size (40mmx40mm x 35mm).

Composite body with engineered alloy bezel.

Lightweight (52g with strap) and tough.

Six modes: Three flash modes, Economy and Blast solid modes plus "Daytime Flash" mode.

Waterproof (FL1 standard) rubber button and charge port seal.

New "hipster" easy-fit bracket with patented durable rubber strap fits the bike, your belt, clothing, bags, seatpack, just about anywhere you like.

Zecto is supplied with MicroUSB to USB cable and easily charged from any USB plug.

Charging indicators built into side LEDs.

Intelligent power indicator fuel gauge LEDs double as side illumination.

Highest qualtiy Lithium Polymer battery built in.

2 year warranty.

Rear Output rating: Economy Flash modes 10lm; Economy 5lm; Blast 10lm; Daytime Flash 20lm.

Burn times: 2hr45min - 7hr depending on mode.

Day or night...Ride safe, always be seen!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Photos of off-road ride

A beautiful Sunday morning to be up on the trails of the South Downs. Here is a collection of pictures:

Nearly at the top
Views over Storrington
Views of Arundel Castle
The trail ahead
Top of Amberley Mount
The way down - the fun bit!
I bear left over the hillocks and down - proper off-road cycling
My muddy bike - Ellsworth Epiphany - still a good looker!
Muddy rider - not such a good looker!

Friday, 4 October 2013

An interesting off-road night ride with a bit of drama

To bring you up to date on my training over the last week:

Sat - Swim: Club session (1:00)
Sun - easy off-road run with plenty of hills 17km (1:50)
Mon - Cycle: one-way commute - easy incl. 15min tempo (1:10)
Tue - Run: 8km tempo set (0:40)
Wed - Run: strides set (0:30) / Cycle: off-road night ride (1:25)
Thu - Cycle: 20km fartlek - easy, hill-work, fast sections (0:50)
Fri - rest day

Every day I have performed between 30-100 calf raises, which seems to be helping with the ongoing Achilles tendonitis.

Wednesday was a little different - I decided to miss the normal Club swim session so I could attend South Downs Cycles monthly off-road night ride (first Wednesday of the month - starting at 6:30pm at the Storrington store). I hadn't ridden with the guys from South Downs Cycles for well over a year. I used to be really in to off-road cycling and one of the main reasons for getting involved with triathlon was to get fitter so I could keep up with the guys I would ride with each month, normally 8-15 pretty hard-core mountain bikers.

I was amazed how the event has grown - close on 70 riders took off in 3 groups. I chose the middle group with 4 of the guys (total group of around 25) I used to originally ride with. Once we got to the top of the South Downs via Kithurst Hill, it was pitch black so a good set of lights was essential. Many of the mountain bikers were using USE Exposure lights as they organised a demo of their kit for the evening ride. I use a 3 LED Exposure light, pumping out 700+ lumens, which I purchased 2-3 years back and is still going strong - a quality bit of essential kit if you plan to cycle at night. The new Exposure lights are even better - up to 6 LEDs and 2,000 lumens - very nice, albeit not cheap (£350-£400).

Within 10mins of getting to the top we were picking up speed down some decent single track and proper off-road terrain. Unfortunately before we knew it the lead rider, a very experienced biker and one of the best road cyclists in the Sussex area, had a nasty fall, landing on his shoulder. He seemed in a lot of pain and it was obvious he had done some serious damage to his shoulder or collar bone. The next 30 mins involved the Group sorting out a solution to move the injured rider off the Downs to the ambulance that was called to the road about a mile below. Fortunately a farmer with a 4x4 came to our rescue. 

After all that drama there was at least 2 puncture incidents that split the group further and a pretty dangerous decent that made me think I certainly needed a bit more practice on my mountain bike (Ellsworth Ephiphany) before I commit to another night ride, or am I simply getting old - self-preservation becoming more important!

Anyway, still a good night on the bike and nice to be back on the old mountain bike. I might try that downhill again on Sunday morning, this time in the light.

Thanks for checking in and reading my blog - 'Keep the rubber side down'

Friday, 27 September 2013

My 'Bucket List'

Whilst thinking about my 'A' races for 2014 I came up with a more broader 'Bucket List' of races I would love to have a go at over the coming years:

My Bucket List

1. London 2 Brighton 100km challenge - The London 2 Brighton Challenge is one of the UK’s greatest endurance events. Most will walk the 100km; some will jog it, and many will run it as an ultra-marathon. However you take it on, it’s a test of determination and stamina. It’s real, no gimmicks, rewarding and is achievable!

2. S.O.S. Triathlon - The Survival of the Shawangunks (SOS) is an eight stage triathlon held in New Paltz, NY. Cycle country roads and scenic highways circling the northern ridge of the Shawangunk Mountain Range. Ascend the western face. At the entrance to Minnewaska State Park leave your bike for a combination run/swim journey through some of America's most beautiful cross-country trails and spring fed lakes.

3. IronBaby - a self-supported DIY ironman distance race created by the great Coach Brett from 'Zen and the Art of Triathlon' - a wonderful podcast that I have been listing to for the last few years, over which time I really have felt that I have got to know Brett. I would love to meet him, race alongside him and raise a bit of money for a great cause at the some time.

4. L'Etape du Tour - established in 1993 to allow amateur cyclists to test their legs on the route of one of the mountain stages in the Tour de France, has become the reference race for cyclosportive riders from all over the world.

5. Lands End to John O'Groats - Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, the furthest possible distance in the British Isles, is a classic challenge that many dream of. Starting at Land’s End on the southwesterly tip of England, cyclists pedal their way through Cornwall, over Dartmoor and north along the Welsh border, skirting the Lake District into Scotland, via lochs and mountains to the North coast and John O’Groats. In all they cover almost 1000 miles in 10-12 days, passing through some of the most stunning and remote countryside in the British Isles.

6. Challenge Vichy - Vichy is in central France, 3 hours from Paris. It is an "easy" full distance ironman event compared to other French long distances such as Nice, Embrun, Gerardmer, Alpe d'Huez, Altriman. Ideal for beginners and for athletes who want to go for a PB.

7. Escape from Alcatraz triathlon - features a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shores of the St. Francis Yacht Club, a grueling 18-mile bike ride, and a demanding 8-mile run through the trails of the Golden Gate Recreational Area. Set against the natural beauty of San Francisco, this thrilling triathlon is a virtual postcard of the City by the Bay.

8. Tough Mudder - events are hardcore 12 mile-long obstacle courses designed by the Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses and 1,000,000 inspiring participants worldwide to date, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.

9. Norseman Xtreme Triathlon - Ten years ago, the first Norseman Xtreme Triathlon carved its own category in international triathlon. Norseman has remained true to its core ever since, and continues to attract triathletes from around the world to the ultimate test of endurance, grit, sportsmanship and friendly competition through some of Norway's most amazing landscapes.

10. No respectable 'Bucket List' can be complete without the big one - the world Ironman championships in Kona - you never know, one day! 

What would be on your 'Bucket List'?

Little news on the training front - thinking ahead

Little new training news this week. A strength / run set on Monday, 60km of cycling on Tuesday with a few decent hill climbs, Wednesday in the pool - spent some time using the pull-buoy focusing on bi-lateral breathing to improve my body position and rotation. A little niggle crept back in my right Achilles tendon, which has made me hold off training over the last two days. Tomorrow another swim set with the Club. If the Achilles issue settles down again I will attempt a run on Sunday, hopefully an easy off-road session.

Thinking about my 'Bucket list' of ultimate races - will be the subject of my next post.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My ideal week of base training - a challenging goal

The last week was almost back to plan but not quite! I ended up missing my Friday run and Saturday morning club swim but made up for it on Sunday by getting in both an off-road run and cycle ride with my old training partner and neighbour, Chris (approx. 3 hours in total).

By Sunday afternoon I was back to my target weight although a couple of days on I have let in slip once again.

The good news is that my tendonitis issues have further eased and I only have a minor niggle in my left Achillies heel. The right side having completely healed - finally!

So thinking ahead to my base training for the next season I have been considering my ideal week of training, which should certainly give me a strong foundation to build on, whatever race distances I end up doing over the coming months.

The week would look something like this:

Mon - 0:45 strength exercises / circuit + 1:00 club swim
Tue - 2:00 bike commute: interval set + easy return
Wed - 0:30 run strides set / intervals + 1:30 club swim
Thu - 2:00 bike commute: hill work + easy return
Fri - 1:00 easy run
Sat - 1:00 club swim + 0:45 run set / turbo
Sun - 2:00 to 4:00 long run / cycle or brick session

That brings the total between 12.5 to 14.5 hours, good enough even for Ironman training.

Obviously I would have to allow the occasional rest day (normally Monday or Friday) and would work off a 3-week cycle, increasing the total hours training each week and reducing it back down on the fourth week.

That is the theory - in practice not so easy to pull off.

All decent goals should however be challenging, albeit still realistic. They also need to be listed in detail, easily measurable and time driven.

Let's hope I will be reporting back over the coming months that I am at least getting close to my ideal training week.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Back to the plan

Some improvement in my eating / drinking habits so getting back to normality on the weight front. I wouldn't say I was obeying all my top tips for weight loss (see last post) so still room for further progress.

The good news is that the regular stretching is finally paying dividends and my Achillies tendonitis problem is easing. I have also been making every effort to use ice (small ice pack down my socks) to speed up the recovery.

This morning I logged my longest run for a good month or so after completing 10km along Brighton seafront. The pace was embarrassingly slow (approx. 5:30 to 6 mins per km) and although I hardly broke a sweat I did not have any ill effects from my tendons. I still do not feel confident running a half-marathon distance or increasing the speed significantly but there has been a definite improvement. I will continue with the stretching and ice until there is no further pain whatsoever.

There was some discussion at the Club of getting a full Ironman distance race in the calendar for next year (end of season. - Sept / Oct). Currently the two races (both Challenge rather than official  Ironman events) on the radar screen are Barcelona and Vichy. No decision yet but I am keen to return to a more structured training plan in preparation for some 'A' race in 2014.

For the rest of the week I am aiming for the following:

Wed - 1:00 easy run (Done) + 1:30 club swim
Thu - 2:00 cycle (via commute), morning - interval set, home - easy
Fri - 1:00 easy run / strength set
Sat - 1:00 club swim
Sun - 2:30 cycle (possibly on mountain bike)

My objective is to build back to 10-12 hours over the coming months but will be subject to injuries and any decisions on 2014 races / events.

Stay safe out there my loyal followers!!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Tri Hard Dave's tips to lose weight

Just back from my Friday morning run around Preston Park - about 6km in distance but stopping every km to do exercises - 10 reps of the following: push ups, dips, thrusts, squats, and step-ups. On 2 sections of the circuit I pick up the tempo so I break into a bit of a sweat but generally it is a relatively easy workout aimed to build in a little bit of strength work.

My tendon pains are definitely easing although I still felt some slight discomfort for the first 1km of the run - still more strengthening to be done before I can up the distance and speed. As a result of the continuing problem I have decided not to enter the tricky Barns Green half-marathon in late September - so my 2012 PB will stand for another year.

I highlighted in my previous post that I had put on a bit of weight over my summer holiday. I shouldn't feel too guilty, I thoroughly enjoyed the time with the family and it was great to focus on other things than just training and working. However, I was quite surprised to see how quickly the weight can be put on. Over a fortnight I gained 6 pounds!

I have already lost a couple of that just getting back to my normal routine but in order to return to my fighting weight (under 12 stone) I need a bit of a plan.

I have listed below my top 10 tips for weight loss - well they have worked for me in the past.

Next week I will update you with my progress.

Have a great weekend.

10 ideas - lose weight

1. Reduce sugars (no sweets, cakes, biscuits etc.)

2. Reduce bread - limit to 1-2 pieces a bread a day

3. More salads and healthy foods, i.e. fish, pulses, vegetables, fruits - smaller portions but eat more regularly - don't starve yourself

4. Green smoothie for breakfast

5. Clean teeth whenever graving for food - sometimes it is habit driven rather than hunger

6. Drink lots of water - some people confuse hunger with thirst

7. Limit alcohol - weekends only

8. Exercise - long easy fat burning runs. More frequent training 2-3x a day - keep the metabolism firing

9. Take Thermobol (Maximuscle fat loss product) - I am not really into supplements but I have found this product (mostly natural ingredients / herbal extracts) to help. I only take one tablet in the morning rather than the prescribed 3 a day, simply because the caffeine is so high it would probably send me a bit loopy!

10. Limit TV and sitting around - plenty of activity - MOVE!!

E-Bike adventure

I know, you must be thinking 'E-Bike adventure'.... that's it, he has finally given in to old age, no more 'Tri Hard Dave...