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!

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...