The krazy life of triathlon


Man Tri Training Weekend

So…. only a week late! But never mind

So last Friday, I traped off to the middle of the Peak District with around 30 others from Man Tri to get a good weekend of training in. When we arrived, it was a 30 min run to loosen the legs up from the long journey and I felt pretty good! In the evening we all went to the only pub in the village and enjoyed some decent home cooked food – which for me and a couple of others also involved eating our body weight in the most amazing chocolate cake known to man! Despite the grossly huge number of calories I’m sure were in there, we would need it for the day to come.

Saturday morning was an early start before the big ride of the weekend. We all set off in one big group, and then as soon as we hit the first main climb, I worked my way up to the front group just as the hammer was dropped and we blasted up to the top. The legs were feeling ok, considering I had only been on a bike for 20 mins a couple of days before since the Fred Whitton. After the next big climb when we split the group for the 2nd time, maps were passed around and then it was hammer time again! Going up an A road, a group of about 8 of us took an early turning and ended up getting lost – a sign of things to come! We picked up Anne who had dropped her chain on a climb and towed her to the first town, when we dropped her off after some amazing descents and then headed off.

The roads were pretty good and my legs started to come through, doing some big turns on the front and just enjoying group riding again. I have to say I am being spoilt for choice with my riding lately, with the Lakes the week before and the Peaks this weekend! It was an interesting ride as well, with a few ‘Closed Road’ signs which we decided to go through anyway. In the end, we got to practise a bit of cyclocross, carrying our bikes through building sites, dug up roads and tutting builders, but it was good fun especially as we ended up attacking each other pretty much every hill, especially me and Harsh.

After a few hours, a couple of guys decided they had had enough of our hill antics and took a shortcut home. We pressed on, and ended up in a farm, wondering where the hell we were! The roads were pretty small and we had to have a few map checks with some walkers to get us on the right track, but we decided to go off the route and find some decent roads as it was too slow going. On the final climb home, Harsh did his usual thing of starting an attack and waiting for me to jump and hammer it up to the top while he sat up and either enjoyed a tow or watched me suffer! We blew the group apart again, and it took a while to regroup, but I managed to keep my nutrition under control, which I was pleased with. We ended up doing about 6 hours (4hr 20 ride time) and 110k, and although I was tired, I didn’t blow at all thankfully. My saddle sore, which I picked up at the Fred Whitton (hence why no time on the bike on the week) however was not amused with 6 hours on the bike and was extremely sore!

When we got back, I went for a short run again. However, where we were, you either went left and down a massive hill, or right and up a massive hill… I opted for right and had a look for some trails. Finding one trail, I followed it for about 50m, until it went seemingly directly upwards! Deciding to stick to the roads I bashed out half an hour, though I don’t recommend an entire malt loaf in between a brick session! My stomach was not happy.

As soon as I got back, I had to quickly grab my swim kit, as it was off for a group swim. Having been told that it was a very warm pool, despite it being outside, I left my wetsuit back at the accommodation. We got to the pool to see a notice of “Apologies but the pool heater is broken so it may be a little cold!” – annoying as I was hoping to get some wetsuit practise in before my half IM! Anyway, it was freezing! We soon warmed up and set off with some IM style main sets, would have been interesting to see my butterfly! It was also quite amusing seeing people sporadically jumping out of the pool with cramp, knowing that it would hit us all soon. Amazingly however, it never came for me! I got one little twinge in my quad in a butterfly set but that was it. I was also pleased with seeing that my swimming was not as bad as I thought, both having it looked at by our resident professional triathlete Jacqui, and where I was swimming in the squad.

After a much better sleep (despite ending up sticking to the plastic mattress) it was another early start for Sunday to fit everything in before everyone left at lunch. After spending a good 10 mins trying to find someway I could sit on my bike and with copious amounts of chamois cream applied, we set off for a few hours on the bike, though this was a much more leisurely pace until we hit Winnats Pass. Thankfully my legs weren’t too bad from the day before and I was first up to the top, which was reassuring. After a cafe stop and having an incredible bacon and sausage sandwich, things heated up on the way back and the pace shot up. However, after about 10 mins, my front derailleur decided to twist round and jam itself into my crank. Thankfully there was no major damage, and I managed to fix it roadside. One guy stopped and we headed off back home, but I got us lost (again) so it was back to the map to try and plot a route home. Having decided that my phone would give us the best route home, we followed it, only to discover the road was closed for a half marathon! We picked up a group of girls and headed home with them, another ‘scenic routes’ which gave us a good 3 hours on the bike again. A few of us set out for a run after, and I stayed out to do my first hour long brick run outside of training ever I think! Legs were pretty dead to begin with, but I got a bit stronger towards the end, though the hills really didn’t help!

In total, I clocked up a good 12 hours of training, which was great! An awesome weekend, with some great people, and it was so nice to be back to squad training again, just helps you push that little bit harder. One thing I did notice, was yet again my diet went to pot. I was consuming too much junk food and it has shown this week in an extended recovery time. I need to work on getting enough calories in when I do big bouts of training, but keep some of the goodness in there.

This week has seen me struggling to recover from 2 hard weeks (and a weekend of junk food!). My running has taken a hit, and through various reasons (including an exploding oven!) I didn’t get any long runs in during the week. On Wednesday, Mike and I went out for a long bike to scout Le Terrier, and my legs just didn’t want to play ball, especially on the climbs. To be fair we did clock up 87k of riding and 2000m of climbing (which is half the Fred Whitton! Not bad given I had done an interval swim in the morning and a full days work!) but I didn’t have the top end power. An easy day on Thursday and Friday has given my legs time to recover, and today I had my first 2 hour run in an absolute age! With the incredible weather, it was a hot one, and I lasted about 90 mins of feeling good until I started to die from lack of fuel and dehydration, but I still clocked up 23.5k, so can’t complain! I will get a long bike in tomorrow, with a brick run, then another long bike on Tuesday before my taper begins for the Beaver in 7 days!!

Finally, I appear to have been sucked deeper and deeper into the ultra-endurance world, and am currently planning some other crazy events. Will keep you posted


Thawing My Fitness

The weather of this past week has been a bit of a curse, and a bit of a blessing. On the downside, the ice, snow and drivers who think that there is snow on the side of the roads mean they have to drive at 10mph down a dual carriageway, even when the roads are clear(!) mean that running and cycling has been put to a halt as I am not risking another collar bone running or cycling on ice, traffic has been so bad it takes my workmates who live near my pool an hour to get to work, so swimming and the gym have also been put to a hold. The plus side means that I have spent some solid time on the turbo getting my cycling legs back. And with no threat of the pouring rain that usually greets me in a Winter weather, I have been able to walk to and from work happily, which really wakes you up in the morning and helps loosen the legs up!

I am quite surprised at how quickly I have recovered my bike fitness, not that it is anywhere near to a good base level yet. I know I respond to training quickly and well, but I guess the sporadic training over the Christmas period managed to keep something. The same cannot be said for the other two sports, which is what will be the concentration over the next week and a half, until I go to Lanzarote. My swimming should be ok, with fitness fairly down, but mainly just getting used to spending time in the pool. It will be a long time until I really get my feel for the water back. My running I am more concerned about however. I cannot remember the last time I went on a proper run, so a run block may be called for in the base period. I will see how I respond in Lanzarote, and play it by ear.

As well as getting back into my training I have been getting my diet back on track, and getting back to Paleo eating. The difference is extremely noticeable, not only have I lost most of the Christmas layer pretty quickly, I also feel much more awake and better, despite surviving on little sleep as I get used to working hours again. Not easy for a student!

So the next couple of weeks are all about preparing for Lanzarote and getting as much training in as I can to arrive fresh and ready for a good solid week. Hopefully I will have some internet access out there (or the girlfriend is not going to be happy!) so should be able to provide regular updates whilst out there. Other than that it is just getting the last bits of kit together, giving the bike a once over soon, and I have just brought myself a Bike Box Alan. After much consideration I decided to go for this as though more expensive than many, it is much safer than many, and certainly the lack of compression and seeing a bike being chucked out of a car in it helps calm the worry! Originally I was going to hire one, but with 2 weeks hiring needed for Lanza, a week for Switzerland, and many more flights with it to come, I decided to get one now. Plus I get personalised stickers on it and my name on it 😀 Certainly worth it for the bling!

Going Paleo

Well it has been the first week at starting to change my diet, and I am slowly making the switch to the Paleo Diet.

The Principles

For those that don’t know, the Paleo Diet is based on the theory that genetically we are optimised to eat the type of diet we had from a million years ago to about 10,000 years ago when we suddenly discovered agriculture and started eating much more processed carbs. So effectively it suggests you shift your diet back to reduced carbs, and removing processed carbs, more protein and more healthy fat. For athletes, the rules have to be slightly bent to allow for all the exercise, so just before, during and immediately after you increase your carbs and use carbs with a higher GI, so things like pasta, energy drinks/bars/gels, even chocolate. The rest of the time, you concentrate on removing all your empty calories, so there is a lot of fresh fruit and veg and salad, so you have lots of nutrients.

My change

Instead of immediately switching, I’m doing a more gradual change. I’m doing it meal by meal, so this week I’ve been concentrating on breakfast. When I’m in training my snacks are usually pretty healthy, but I’ve been weening myself off crisps, yoghurts, and cereal bars, and moving myself to more fruit, and with the increased protein I shouldn’t be having as many cravings anyway. When I’ve been training before breakfast, I have my usual big bowl of cereal, though will need to think of some alternatives. When I’m not training, my breakfast has been some form of meat and fruit:


Now that I finally got round to getting some eggs I’ll have omlettes as well, the increased calories helping when I start to train heavier.

The rest of my diet is pretty good, but there are a lot of processed carbs, such as rice and pasta in it, so I’m working at getting these out. This week I’ll concentrate on my dinner, and try and switch that. But thankfully, if I’m eating right after training I can have my usual spag bol! Lunch is gonna be the hard one, not having my sandwiches, but it should be ok. I’ll still have my lollies and the odd chocolate bar, but as long as it’s swamped by salad and fruit it’s fine!

Any Changes?

In terms of how I feel, you certainly notice the difference when you eat healthily and not lots of junk food. Admittedly I feel less hungry during the day with more protein to fill me up, and no blood sugar level spikes. In terms of performance, it’s difficult to say. I haven’t really been in full training for quite a long time, so can’t really compare it. I do think however, that I am recovering a bit quicker, my legs don’t feel quite as tired the day after as I remember they used to, but it could be improved fitness and less training. In a month or two when I am training fully, it will be interesting to look at my old diary and see if I have an improved recovery and performance. I certainly think the extra protein will help, as I wasn’t eating enough before. Whether the extra fat will help my body use more fat as it is supposed to will be interesting to see. Certainly it has been a change for the better though.

Tested and Overtrained

Well I think I may have been right about me peaking in my last post, because after I think I crashed and burned! But first things first, the fitness testing.

Fitness Testing

It was in two parts, the first part was a standard VO2 Max test on the bike. For those that don’t know, this basically involves sitting on a rather fancy exercise part which is hooked up to a computer, and your wearing a mask which is also hooked up to a computer. You start off at a fairly easy intensity, and the bike adjusts the resistance so that for the cadence you are pedalling at you keep a constant power. The power is then upped every minute until you can’t continue any more. The mask measures how much oxygen you use up when you are at your maximal effort. This will give you your aerobic capacity, which to be honest isn’t really going to give me much as such, but will set a good marker for future tests and should tell me what I am capable of in my current state.

The second test was a 5k run time trial, also with the mask, and hooked up to an EMG, with electrodes on my calf and shin to measure muscle recruitment. I also had motion markers and as video recorded. This sets a precedent for how I run with fresh legs and then can be compared with in the study. This won’t have been helped by pounding it on the treadmill causing my shins to ache like hell, but I still managed a good performance. I now have two studies to do, 20k bike and 5k run bricks. One of these is running the first kilometre at 5% over my average 5k speed, and the second one at my average speed. After the first k, I get to choose my own speed based on feel but won’t actually get to see my speed. The point of the study is to try and find out if there is a ‘better’ way to run of the bike. This is based on the fact that elite triathletes at olympic distance tend to run hard off the bike then hang on for the rest of the run, whereas elite 10k runners tend to run a constant pace. The study tries to see if there is any benefit in either method. So for taking part in the study, I get free fitness testing (which saves me a fair bob) and a couple of hard brick sessions.

Burning Out

Ok, I think it’s time to admit I tried to get into training too soon after my IM, a typical rookie error. I think physically I was fine, well enough to train lightly. Mentally I was exhausted. Couple that with settling into work, some personal issues, a hell of a lot of travelling and missing too much sleep, just drained me. So it had its usual affect and I missed a week of proper training. But to be honest I’m not too bothered, I’ll get my feel back in the pool fairly quickly, some good speed sessions from the study, manage to keep my fitness ticking over. A 14 hour sleep has certainly managed to fix a lot of problems, and a lazy day of doing absolutely nothing is something I really needed. So the plan over the next month or so is light intense training, a few long sessions to keep fitness up and put in a fun performance at Fleetwood Tri. I am also going to enjoy my 21st, and freshers week with my friends and have my life back before I settle down into hard training again.

Settling down involves everything discussed in previous posts, including yoga, weights, structured training and getting back into it. I have finished reading the Paleo Diet and am convinced enough to try it out for a month. To be honest I seem to be going off lots of carbs anyway, and really finding big servings of plain rice unappetising. So I will try it out for a month, but what the hell do I eat for breakfast? Turkey breast and fruit! When do I cook that? So that is going to take some planning but it will be interesting.

Finally, Ironman Switzerland have been kind enough to move the date of it a week forward. Not only does this ruin my plans for a holiday afterwards as it was supposed to coincide with me finishing work, it also reduces the time I have to recover from IM Lanzarote if I do it. 11 Weeks should be OK, but it does mean that I might not be expecting to go as hard as I could at Switzerland. As this is man A1 race of the year, I may hold myself back at Lanzarote but we will see. For starters, I need to see if I can still enter when I can afford it. If I can’t then it simplifies things massively, but is not ideal. Also, next year is not a year when I expect to be at full potential, so may just see how much abuse I can take. We shall see, all I can say is next year should be a good year, just need to sort my knees out (again) and avoid the potholes!

Coming into form?

Hello all,

Well it’s been a while since my last proper post. It is now 4 weeks since I did my Ironman and rather annoyingly I feel great! My knee has almost completely healed now. It is still a little weak at times, but as I continue with my exercises and increase the intensity of them, then it should get better. The good thing is I know the pain of it now, and know how to fix it all! The back of my knee where the tear was can be a little tight the day after a heavy session but you can’t really blame it, and if I stretched properly it probably would be fine!

So as the title of the post suggests, I appear to be peaking now. I am slowly easing myself back into full training, though still holding back as I am going to have some sort of life through September, which includes the odd drink or 10 for my 21st! My swimming has been going from strength to strength as I spend more time in the pool, and ignoring the long break I will have had over the last few days, I have been getting into swimming 3/4 times a week. I now feel much more comfortable in the pool, and am feeling as good as I did before my crash at points. My splits still have a bit of coming down to do, but I am back to about 1:42 average for 100m. Way down on what I was about 5 weeks ago, though still not quite close to the 1:30s I was swimming pre-crash.

Running is good as well too, I have done a few 1 hour runs and feel good on them. The HR is still a little high but it will settle down over the coming weeks as I get back into shape. In fact, the only sign that I did an IM a few weeks ago is my slightly dodgy knee and a little fatigue when I go back about 2 hours on the bike! On the bike my power seems to be up massively, and I am holding good pace, even in bad conditions. Which all leads me to suspect I am peaking a tad too late! I’ll put a post up at the end of Sept with a review of the year, and there will be lots in there about managing a big crash. However for now, I am just going to make the most of my current form, have a good race at Fleetwood, and use it as a springboard into a solid winter.

The Manchester 100 is going to be put on hold for this year I think, as I don’t see the point in paying 15 quid to do a 100k training ride essentially on my own, as I don’t think I know anyone doing it, so I shall just have a long ride on my own at home instead.

Still need to get round to sorting out my training plan for next year. The Training Bible appears to have fallen to the bottom of the reading list, though I am being more and more swayed by the Paleo Diet. Over the couple of weeks or so I have altered my diet dramatically and cut out all junk, and increased my fruit and salad and even thrown a few veg in! I can certainly tell I am a bit lethargic when I have had a big carbs binge, so I think it is certainly something worth looking at.

But right now, I am looking forward to a good final race, a nice 21st, a bit of a social life and then lots of improvement for the Winter.