I have to admit this isn’t how I imagined I would be writing this week’s update. As I’m sure most of you now know, I had quite a bad crash this morning out in the Peak District. Basically what happened was, out testing my new wheels, I was descending at about 73kph, 10kph more than normal, took a corner too wide, hit a pothole on the edge of the road and went down. Not entirely sure what happened, but I think the bike went out from under me, my forks took the hit snapping on both sides and my front wheel tub came off at one end and it ended up in a bush down the road, with me following it. More importantly, though I really don’t want to admit it, is I took quite a hit. I’ve ripped the skin off my right elbow, hip, shoulder and back, left knee, taken a chunk out of my left thumb, got some bad bruising and fractured my collarbone. First and foremost, I am very lucky. I was doing 45 mph and had 2mm of lycra protection from the road which didn’t stand a chance. My helmet is nearly in 2 pieces and certainly saved me from some serious head injuries. So always, ALWAYS wear a helmet, it is not worth taking the risk.
Now obviously this puts my Ironman in some serious problems. I have no idea how long my shoulder will take to heal. From the looks of the xray it is a clean break, and nothing is out of alignment. I am young and my bones heal quickly, but I will take it a day at a time. Currently I am still planning to compete but will be going for finishing rather than my sub-11 hours time. Hopefully I will be back on the turbo trainer i a week or so, as soon as I can move properly with no pain, and I have built myself a great endurance base, that should carry me to the finish with a few weeks out. Running will take longer as I can’t jar it, so that and open roads will be 4-6 weeks depending on what the doctors say. Swimming will be the problem. If I have to do it all breast stroke the entire way, so be it. But it all depends on how quickly I heal. I will update you all as I know more information and get back to training.
Thank you to all of my friends and fellow triathletes who have offered their support, and train safe!!!!
Week 20 Totals:
Swim – 5.8k
Bike – 210.84k
Run – 66k
Totals at the end of the Build Period
Swim – 117.2k
Bike – 2624.79k
Run – 676.7k
Commute – 605k
Well I have to say it has been a bit of an anti-climax to reaching 2/3rds of the way there! Exams mean that this will have to be brief, and hence this being late (but training is still full on!) but all in all it has been a successful 20 weeks!
This week was a good week mainly. I missed a swim due to it being the World Paralympic Cup, so the Aquatics Centre was shut on friday, and being bank holiday, the local pool was shut on sunday when I planned to do it. However, my open water swimming is getting better, and I know what I need to work on to make myself more efficient in the water and reduce my swim time. I need to stop crossing my arms!
Cycling has been good too, with a massive increase in mileage this week, and some good riding. I am starting to feel a lot more fluid on the bike, and my climbing is steadily improving as I slog around the peak district. Running has been good too, my shins seem to be on and off, especially on at the start of the week, but I can run through it as my calfs loosen up, so I should hopefully be OK. I did a half marathon on sunday, late, after a massive BBQ, and with knackered legs. I clocked 1:50, so was slower than I wanted, but I still have 10 weeks to improve. The only bad side is that I seemed to have picked up an injury on my foot that hurts when I run. It has been agony this week (week 21 – more to follow), and all instincts point to stress fracture, but I really hope not!
As I enter the Peak phase, the training isn’t really too different to what it was before. I have a week of basically the same as last week, and then taper down for my half IM. After that it is a week of recovery, and then a 4 week intensive build followed by a 3 week taper til the big day! It’s going to go quickly!
Week 19 Totals:
Totals So Far:
Well, for a rest week it was fairly intense! I clocked up nearly a 17 hour training week! The start of the week seems like an age away, and it wasn’t the best start to the week as it has been deadline week at uni, which means that I have been having 3-4 hours sleep a night during the week and catching up where I can! Trying to do this whilst training full time is suicide and my training really took a hit on some days, and was especially apparent over the weekend. However, all in all, it is nice to be back training properly, even if it has just rained most of the week!
After 5 months, I finally managed to try out my wetsuit and get some Open Water practice in. It was weird, and very, very cold! The wetsuit puts your body in the ideal swimming position, so you just glide through the water, and gives you a ton of buoyancy to make it easier to swim. But it can be very restrictive around the chest and shoulders, despite all the innovations they put in it. It will take some getting used to, so I will be down at Boundary Park every week practising, and trying to sort my head position out and stop crossing my arms! I am going to alter my training plan slightly so that I have 2 sessions a week in the pool doing my usual swim sets, and 1 session a week doing a long OW swim, gradually increasing the distance.
My cycling is getting better as I continue to put the mileage in, and I can tell I am becoming more fluid on the bike. My long ride on saturday was a tough one, with winds stronger than I have ever seen before and some crazy climbing! I did a lot in the Peak National Park, including the cat and fiddle, and coupled with the lack of sleep throughout the week, a run the day before that I probably pushed myself too hard on, and the fact that I didn’t start eating early enough on the bike (lesson learnt!) I bonked about 80k into the ride. It is a horrible feeling just trying as hard as you can and seeing speeds that I could almost walk at. But it is supposed to be good for you in training, and I have learnt my lesson. Funnily enough, after eating lots, my run after was surprisingly good and the speed was quite high!
Overall, I am really beginning to see the benefits of my training the most in my running, as the speed work has pushed my average speed up and I get used to running for a long time. The only exception was my long run on sunday, where I was knackered from my long bike ride and then stupidly decided not to take any fluids/fuel out with me for a 90 minute run. I really felt it in the last third, so that is another lesson learnt! On the plus side, I was absolutely dead, and I still managed to clock up 17.4k, which is just short of the speed I am planning for, for my IM run so with fresh (well as fresh as they can be after 180k on the bike) legs, fluids and fuel and 11 more weeks of training, I should be fine!
This week is the final week of my build phase, before I start my 10 week peak to my Ironman. This phase includes a week peak, then a week to taper for my half IM on the 7th June, before I have a week of building/recovery then 4 solid, heavy weeks to peak then a 3 week taper to my Ironman. It will be tough. This week the hours increase (as ever!) and I bring my speed work back in to get some high intensity work back in and pick my speed up. My pool swims also increase to 3.5k, which is as long as they go, to help me get used to doing the entire 3.8k ‘comfortably’. I shall continue to increase the distance I do in my wetsuit, so hopefully by the time I have done my Ironman I will be doing 4k straight swims. My cycling and running, will continue to consume my life…I should probably stock up on the food then!
Week 18 Totals:
Totals So Far:
Well it is certainly nice to be back racing! It’s the reason why I do this, and nothing can match the thrill of waiting to be set loose on a course, but I shall come to the race later. As a week, it certainly wasn’t the best week for training. I was still mentally exhausted, and have been fighting a bit of an illness all week, which has annoyingly involved waking up a lot in the middle of the night drenched due to night sweats. Thankfully however, this seems to be clearing up. To top it all off, I someone managed to go out nearly every night this week (including the night before!) and have my shin splints return.
I started off the week with my usual 3k swim, with a 200-300-400-500 cycle as my main set, but felt terrible throughout the entire thing. My goggles (which were my new back up pair I was testing) were leaking, my arms felt dead and I never found a good rhythm. Being race week, I did no weights sessions, but it also meant I didn’t do my usual long stretch after each session. Added on top of this with going out a lot, my recovery really took a hit this week. I wasn’t eating properly, I was sleeping enough, and I wasn’t resting enough. And it showed. I began to get really exhausted, and then on Friday, my shin splints returned because my calfs were too tired and tight. It was utter agony and left me fearing the worst for Sunday. All the sessions I had that week hadn’t felt good, and the best session I had was the 2 hours I did on the bike on Sunday, having just got home from the race! However, on saturday I had a good hour of really easy riding on the bike, just going to watch the Two Cities Boat Race (which Manchester won!), barely getting my heart rate into Z1. I had a good sleep on friday night, and then despite having the end of year rowing ball on saturday night and getting into bed at about half 3, woke on Sunday morning (well got up, I was awake pretty much half an hour as always happens the night before a race) and it was time to race.
I had a quite big breakfast of white jam rolls (I never have white bread any more, but I didn’t want any slow release carbs 2 hours before a race!) and packed the car. Arriving, I set up everything in transition just as I had visualised the night before. Again, my preperation was poor so I didn’t have time for a warm up ride, but jog round the transition area to mentally prepare myself and see how my shins were, they seemed ok. Then it was time to go to the start. I had my SiS smart gel to give myself a bit of a boost before going into the pool. After the briefing, we were allowed a couple of lengths warm up and then it was time to go. I set off quickly, and soon caught the person who was off 10s ahead of me. Passing him I began to settle into a high rhythm and it felt good. It didn’t feel fast but felt sustainable for around my 1.9k pace. I was out of the pool in roughly the middle of the pack, and I nearly did a double take seeing 6:25 on my watch! I certainly wasn’t expecting that! I ran into transition, and after fumbling about with my race belt, was soon out, and pleased with a quick transition after lots of practising leading up to it. On to the bike, I sat behind a few people while I got my feet in my shoes, had a quick drink, and then began to put the hammer down. Looking at my bike computer, I soon noticed my cadence wasn’t working, great! I must have knocked it when I was cleaning it the night before, more bad preperation! However, I had speed and distance, and within the first couple of k I had caught everyone in my wave and was holding about 38kph for the flats. I had a guy overtake me on a downhill, but I soon caught him on the flat, and then as we hit the first short climb I dropped him and never saw him again. So, with the previous pack 10 minutes ahead, it looked like it was to be a lonely bike ride. I just concentrated on keeping a good rhythm and kept checking round to keep pushing myself to make sure no one caught me. My heart rate was staying high, and with no cadence I only had speed to gearing to see how I was doing. I had to rely on feel and it was probably good training. Despite my HR being high, I knew I could keep at it, so I pushed a big gear and continued to fly down the course. I average 35kph for the entire ride, including the long transition runs so am very happy with that! I was first off the bike in my wave, and had another quick transition to lead out of T2, when I finally saw the others start to come in. However, it was the run that I was let down on. I managed to settle into a good pace, but couldn’t push it as I could feel my shins start to tighten up, and I was just hoping that I could finish without them crippling me. Within about 2k I had been caught and now it was just a case of hanging on to whatever time I had built upto on the bike. My run pace was good, but more what I will be running for my IM, rather than 7k. After about 20 mins my shins started to loosen up, so I began to pick up the pace a bit, until I knew I was near the finish where I gave it everything. Unfortunately, due to more bad preperation, I thought the finish was about 500m later than I thought, so didn’t get to push it as hard as I could, but my run time was 27:15 for the 6.7k including T2 so not too unhappy! I finished in a total time of 1:16:02, which put me 4th in my age group and 27th overall with the 18th fastest bike split! Makes me wonder how quick I could have gone if my Zipps had arrived on time! All in all, I was very pleased with the result. With the nice wheels and better shins, I might have been able to take a few minutes off, and only 3 and a half minutes would have put me in the top 10, but it was a good practice race. Now I have a week off all aerobic work to recover from the race, (which is good because even with my post race massage, my legs were dead on the climbs on my evening ride!) and then a 2 week build up to my half Ironman before I taper down in week 21 for that! Bring it on!
Totals for the week:
Totals so far:
Well as you can see from my totals, compared to the previous weeks, I was down on what I was supposed to have done. I have been feeling pretty exhausted for the last couple of weeks since I returned from the easter holidays, been fighting a bit of an illness that I trained through, and have been bordering on the edge of over-training. Whilst my body has been recovering enough to cope with all the training I put it through, mentally I was exhausted. I have been training for the last 17 weeks, with only a few days missed due to illness in the first 5 weeks, and have become so obsessed with logging all my mileage and clocking up training hours that I had forgotten to enjoy it. Training was becoming a chore, something I didn’t want to do, having to drag myself out of bed at stupid hours to squeeze a training session in before uni, or missing going out and seeing friends because I had to do some training in the evening. I had lost all balance in my life, to the point where I was going on home on friday for a few hours to see a surgeon about my knees, and had to take swimming and running kit so I could get my training in afterwards, then drive back to go out for one of my friends birthday. But I had no motivation to train, and wanted to spend time relaxing at home with my family and see my dogs. So I decided to take the day off training. Whilst I still regret this a bit, mentally I needed the break. Training for the Ironman is like having a job that you do 7 days a week, where you can never switch off, where you don’t go holidays or weekends and it is all consuming. This is the life of the athlete, but we all need a break at some point, so I am much happier taking one day off training, than burning out completely and not putting 100% into every training session. Training for countless hours a week on your own, with your goal miles off in the distance is hard, and ebbs away at your motivation. The one day off has given me the motivation to hit back into training again, restart my diet again to ensure I am eating the right amount (rather than too much or too little) and give everything to the last 13 weeks til D-Day.
Well now I have had my moment of self-reflection, it is time to look at the positives of the last week and ahead! This was still a week of milestones (bar 600m in swimming!), with (nearly!) hitting 100k of swimming, going over 2000k of cycling, and more than 500k in both running and commuting since I started this journey! That’s a lot of distance! The surgeon also diagnosed a case of mild runner’s knee, due to restricted movement in my hips, which is probably due to years of running. It turns out that the original pain in my knee (an imbalance in my VMO) was unrelated, and the ITBS was just due to a big increase in mileage. But over the last week or two, since replacing my trainers, I have had barely any pain whatsoever, so am very happy with that!
My speed work is also beginning to pay off in all 3 disciplines. In swimming, I was leading the lane at the last tri club session, not bad for someone who only started swimming properly in november! My cycling average speed is beginning to creep up, especially on my long rides, and I haven’t even got my race wheels yet! I have finally sorted a solid nutrition plan for the bike that appears to be working, and as a result, my running off the bike after long rides is getting easier and I am finding a good rhythm and good pace quickly after transition. My general running is getting quicker, as I appear to run further and further on my runs, with ever increasing high intensity work. I can also run longer and longer, and am still on track for a 3:30 marathon for the final leg.
This week ahead is finally race week! I am a person who trains to race, I live to race, which is why this journey has been another challenge with only 3 races to do over 9 months. Its a bit different to the racing every couple of weeks I was used to form rowing! It may only be a sprint race (I was ideally looking for an olympic distance race) but it will be good to practise transitions at speed, and put everything together. I am not expecting a very fast time as I have been training for long distances, and haven’t been concentrating on speed but it will be good to be back racing! My training tapers down towards the end of the week, and it could be the first time in about 17 weeks that I haven’t felt knackered! Bring it on!