Becoming An Athlete Once More
Wow it’s been a long time since my last post, apologies for that! Life, travelling, injury and illness all managed to get in the way. As such, this could prove to be a rather long post, as well as having lots of non-training parts so I will try and structure it so you can pick and chose as you please.
From Russia With Flu
As mentioned in the previous post, I had thought my foot had healed, however a run soon after the other post soon proved me wrong. I managed a good half an hour, but anything over that was pushing it. However, I had a nice few days off to make sure it was healed when I headed off to Russia to see my girlfriend. However, a couple of nights before I was due to go, I wasn’t feeling too good, and then waking up in the middle of the night, all the colds/night sweats/chest infections I have had over the last couple of months hit me and I had the full works. My head felt like it was about to explode, all my muscles felt like I had done 4 IMs back to back flat out, and my throat felt like it had been replaced by a few sets of razor blades. I attempted to sleep until the morning, when I called into work sick and slept for another few hours. At this point, I had to drive down to my Dads to go to the airport in the morning. Let me tell you 250 miles with flu, dosed up on drugs is not good fun! However, as I hardly ever take any painkillers etc, the paracetemol had a good effect on me and I felt much better, flying the next day might be possible! After the drugs had worn off, I looked like death according to my step-mum, so an early night was in order for the 4 o’clock start to get my 6 o’clock flight! Waking up, I didn’t feel too bad, getting out of bed I felt terrible! More paracetmol, a drive to the airport, then some neurofen and onto the plane I got. By the time I reached zurich for my change I was feeling ok, and then it was just a couple of hours to Russia. Getting off the plane in St Petersburg, I hoped to God that the drugs had reduced my fever as I was met by a very stern looking woman with a thermal camera. Having decided that I wasn’t going to spread the plague across Russia I was unchallenged and breathed a huge sigh of relief as I stood at Passport Control desperately trying not to cough!
St Petersburg is a very interesting country, and we got a taxi from the airport and took the ‘scenic’ route back. Within 2 minutes of being in the taxi, we nearly got hit at a junction and as far as I can work out, Russians obey traffic lights to the degree that they refuse to go through if its even on orange, and then after that it’s a free-for-all! Health and safety hadn’t reached them yet, which made for a refreshing break throughout the trip. Having arrived at Meri’s appartment, I met her hostess and stood there smiling and nodding as she gabbered at me in Russian. I knew I should have brought that phrase book in the airport! A night out was non-negotiable and I was treated to the Russian cure for illnesses: vodka. And they don’t do single shots either. However, other than one episode the next morning where I was just curled up in bed with no energy having not eaten properly for 3 days, I seemed fine. An ice cream with lots of toppings and sugar soon sorted this, and then I was left to enjoy the trip.
It is a very beautiful city, with lots of churches, palaces and buildings that they have plied a lot of money in to make look good, which really pays off. As well as the amazing builings and squares, there was the obligitory Russian quirks: pet bears:
and a stuffed animal museum:
It was a fantastic trip, despite being too short, and next time I’m out we’re off to Moscow for a few days as well as more time in St P to see how much of the language I can learn.
Preston 10 Mile Road Race
On my return, with 6 days until the race, I decided that it would be a good idea to actually see how my legs were. 20 minutes later I discovered that although I felt recovered, my lungs and my legs were still suffering the effects of my illness. So it was more rest, until the day before when I went out to make sure I wouldn’t be stale for the race. I did a few minute pick-ups and felt ok.
The race itself wasn’t too bad. The idea of having a massive triple-chocolate cookie half an hour before the start was certainly a bad idea, as this just sat in my stomach complaining the entire race, but other than that I felt pretty good. I set off hard, clocking the first couple of miles at 7 minute/mile pace, expecting to settle into a nice rythym and the HR to drop down from the 185 bpm it was sat at. 4 miles later, this wasn’t happening but I decided to go for it anyway. With only 4 runs in the 3 weeks leading up to the race, my form was never going to be good, but I should have been fairly recovered, and know I can hold 180 for an hour or so, so pushed it. After a few miles the pace dropped to 7:30 min/mile but it stayed around there for the rest of the race. At about mile 7 I caught up with a woman who I had been yoyoying with for half the race and ran with her, holding good pace. Although it had dropped by a couple of seconds, sub 1:15 looked good as long as I had a good last mile. So at the mile 9 marker I just opened the legs and went for it. For the first time in the race I felt good and like a runner with a fluid technique, it’s just a pity my HR had to be at 190 for it to happen! I clocked off the last mile in 6 minutes and came home in 1:14:27 according to the official results, which put me in the top half of the field.
All in all, given the circumstances I was happy with this. My foot was fine with only a slight discomfort for the last third of the race, which didn’t get any worse as I went on. I certainly need some new shoes soon though, my blisters were bad at the end! With actual training, and finding a good rythym I reckon I could hold this pace for an entire marathon, though with the HR where it was, not for an IM marathon. For switzerland as long as I don’t fracture my collar bone 9 weeks before(!) I reckon 3:30 should be achievable.
In between coming back from Russia and the Preston 10 mile road race, I had a nice visit to Manchester. Half of the reason of visiting was to watch Michael McIntyre at the MEN Arena, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time (well since I saw Lee Evans there last year!). Absolutely brilliant show, and certainly recommend the DVD if you haven’t seen in.
The other reason was to go and get my Ironman tattoo. This is something I had planned from about month 2 of training for IMUK, and I booked it during Fresher’s Week in September and the nearest appointment was November! (She’s a good tattoo artist!) So an hour of pain later, here is the finished product:
My Mum hates it, so it must be good! I absolutely love it, and it will serve a reminder to me that no matter what you are told, anything is possible as long as you believe it is. It also reminds me that if I really want something, I don’t have a pain barrier! And let’s face it, it’s good for showing off in the pool/in shorts (which I wear all year round)/at races. It will fade as it heals, and the scabs have no nearly all come off and it looks awesome! The only downside to the tattoo is that it has put me out of the pool for a few weeks while it heals…
The Training Plan
So as I put the final touches to my new, revised training plan, it’s intersting to see how it has changed from what I had in mind a couple of months ago! It is quite a simple plan, all below AT for now. In essence I have a yoga session every week, 2 weights sessions a week (time-dependant) to help avoid injury. The rest of my training is then based around what I want to achieve for that block. With swimming not being a big part of an Ironman, and with my running seemingly OK with little training, I am going to spend a lot of pre-season on my bike. Given that it is the biggest chunk of the race, and that the fresher I come off the bike, the better I will run, I believe it is one of the biggest limiters for all but the best cyclists in an Ironman. So for the few weeks I will do lots of time on the bike, around 6 sessions a week, with the usual long bike at the weekend. I will most probably move my long run (which at this stage is only an hour and a half) from the weekend to Wednesday, which will allow me to have 2 long rides a week, at the weekend. For the beginning it is all about getting back into the rountine of regular training. I will have a couple of runs a week, possibly only my long run and running off both long bikes and a couple of swims a week, when I can get back in the pool.
I have a swim course on the 5th December, which among others, has video analysis of my stroke. This should prove interesting, and I am reluctant to spend lots of time in the pool until this as it is far easier to iron out bad habits after time off than in the middle of a season. Once I have had this, I will spend a couple of weeks working on my running and working on drills in the pool up until Christmas week. Christmas week provides unknown pool opening times (along with the usual questions of when does the post come, when are the bins collected, what day is it, what time is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and when do the sales start!) and also Welsh mountains. So I will do a heavy week, with lots of time in the cycling making the most of being at home for the week. I am then down south visiting my Dad and girlfriend while she is home for Christmas so will shift training back to swimming and running until I start work again in the New Year. I will then have a few weeks of lots of cycling, but tapering down towards the end of January for my training camp in January in Lanzarote and regular visits to/from my girlfriend until she goes back in February.
I want to absolutely run myself into the ground in Lanzarote and hope to make big gains in fitness over this week with all my time solely for training. We also have use of a 50m pool I think every morning, so depending on the training schedule provided, I am going to aim for an Epic Camp style training week, with swim, bike and run every day.
After the training camp, I will have a week and a half of recovery and then Ironman specific training starts and I get to experience the joys of juggling a job/life/training that almost every age grouper has to do. I miss being a student! I will follow a similar format to last year, though will shedule the week slightly differently. It will be a week of a long bike with run afterwards, a long run, 3-4 swims and filled in with yoga, weights and short runs and bikes. I will be out visiting Russia again in April so will have a big build and then use that week as a R&R week before beginning a final build.
I aim to make the most of living by the sea when it warms up with regular sea swims to get used to the wetsuit and will spend a lot of work on technique. Cycling will be all about volume, and running frequency for good form. So far the only other race next year I have planned it Weymouth Middle Distance, though I’m sure there will be a few more dotted about! Anyhoo, it is looking to be a good season hopefully, building upon everything I learnt last year and I am certainly looking forward to it, which is encouraging after the massive lack of motivation I have had at points over the last few weeks.
I did warn you it was going to be a long post! Next time won’t be as long and there won’t be as long a wait, promise!