Reflecting On The First Block Of Training
8 weeks, 111 sessions, 126 hours, 100k swimming, 1500k cycling, 250k running.
Not bad numbers for a return to training. The last 8 weeks has flown by, and all of a sudden I have finished my first 8 week block of training for Roth. I really can’t complain with the consistency I have put in, and have to average over 15 hours a week, week in week out, when I came from a base of around 7 I am pleased with. Whilst I have a fair bit of fatigue built up from all the training I have put in, I am on a completely different level compared to 8 weeks ago in all 3 sports.
The first 4 weeks were good, and the jump of doubling my weekly sessions seemed to work (possibly with some help from Neovite). Swimming was probably the toughest for me as I quickly ramped up my swimming from 5 sessions a week. Consider that this time last year I was on about 2 and it was a shock to me. On the bike and I think I had 3 days off it over the 8 week period (incidentally, those were my 3 rest days too) thanks to all my commuting being done on a bike, and I began to feel strong again on the bike and also get used to riding a TT bike. Running took a bit of a hit when I was struck with a foot niggle at the start of the plan. I had to cut back slightly but I kept it in check and it had a minimal impact overall as I still managed to hit every sessions, though duration was down a fair bit, as evidenced by it being the smallest block of training.
The next 4 weeks began to show my hard work paying off. My run times are massively down on what I was achieving last year and I have knocked a good 10% off my times across the board. A couple of races (10k 38 minutes, 5k 18 minutes) helped show me that despite my little jaunt into the ultra world last year, I do have some speed in my legs and now it is just a case of merging the two to hit a good Ironman run.
My cycling has cemented a good base, and I am close to the shape that I had at the peak of last year already. Club rides always provide a good opportunity to get hammered and, like my running, my speed has increased compared to last year. Although I have yet to get a lot of long rides in, my middle-distance rides are becoming comfortable as I manage to hold good speed and survive on very little food.
Swimming seems to be the only sport where there is no tangiable improvement, as my performances seem to vary wild. I have no doubt that my fitness is a lot better than last year. Lots of squad swims means I am used to hanging on to the back of a lane for dear life and a 4k swim doesn’t feel like too much. However due to the fact that I am consistently swimming hard, and the fact that we are doing lots of speed work at the moment, I have a lot of fatigue and my performances vary from very good to mediocre depending on how tired I am. Yet a few days out of the pool and I feel less fatigued but seem to completely lose my feel for the water. I am hoping that as I continue to get used to the long sessions and as we move more into endurance work I will begin to see some consistent quality swimming. It can be a bit disheartening trying to hold the feet of ITU and elite swimmers sometimes!
Walking the line between pushing myself as hard as I can and avoiding overtraining is always a fun one. Having always been self-coached, I have learnt what works for me, and have learnt when I am pushing too far (though I don’t always listen to this!). The 3 weeks build – 1 week rest seem to work well for me, as I am lucky enough to be able to put in big hours but spend plenty of time recovering.
I will blog about my next block of training soon, and how I plan to approach it. I have got lots of good things to take away from this block and a few lessons too. With 100 days to go til Roth (!!!) I will focus of becoming more race specific and building up some endurance with longer running and cycling. I just hope I can put together as good an 8 weeks block as the last!