So yet another long break between posts! Mainly due to the combined incompetence of myself, BT and O2, I know finally have internet in my new house, nearly 2 months after moving in!
It has been a time of ups and downs since the last post. I have had a spate of bad luck. First of all, I got a foot injury about 4 weeks caused by running in my FiveFingers with absolutely dead legs and doing a tempo run. For some reason my leg just didn’t seem to want to work, and 25 minutes in, my foot started slapping against the ground. Being and our and back run, only way home was to run, so 25 minutes later, I hobbled home with a foot strain. This now appears to be a 6 monthly occurrence as I had one the exact same time, this time last year! Though that one was from standing on a plug… With 6 weeks to prepare for an ultra-marathon, it wasn’t exactly the best preparation!
The other bit of bad luck was a bike crash. As part of my training regime (more later) I was out with University Of Manchester Cycling Club and there was a touch of wheels in the group, someone went down in front of me, and I went over the top. Thankfully, I escaped with only a bit of road rash, but unfortunately my beloved Specialized didn’t fare so well, with a crack straight through my downtube:
I am looking at getting this repaired, and hopefully I can, but in the meantime, it means I am training on my old commuting bike, which is proving to be a great winter trainer, as it is bombproof, as also weighs a ton!
Tour of the Peak
So last weekend I set off in the dark, and freezing cold to take part in the Tour of the Peak, which I did last year. However, with my ultra less than a week away, I opted to go for the short version, as I know how I felt at the end of the long one last year! I had a great ride, and really showed my improvement on the bike from 3 big rides a week. I rode constantly within myself, didn’t walk (and that was TOUGH lugging the brute of the commuter bike up Winnats Pass!) and had an enjoyable day. I finished in 4:45, which put me 36th out of 350! Not bad for a rusty bike! It was also nice to do a sponsored ride, as I enjoyed stuffing my face with Soreen at the food stop, and finished the ride with more gels than I started the race with!
Despite my foot injury, training of late has been great, and I am really enjoying being back in Manchester. Despite being the off-season, I am putting in consistent big weeks, and feeling fine for it. My weight is also much better than it has ever been at this time in the season, which is encouraging. In cycling and swimming, I am surrounding myself with better people so I have to up my game. I have joined the Uni Cycling Club, which gives me 2 hard rides a week on Wednesday and Saturday, which generally involves smashing each other for a few hours, and I am seeing the benefits of another year in my legs. Average speed and endurance are all up, and the amount I eat on rides is all down! I also ride with the Tri Club on Sundays, which is more controlled and a chain gang effort, giving me the option of having another hard ride, or switching to a recovery ride.
If you include commuting, I haven’t had a day off the bike since sometime in September! Thankfully I feel fine, and am just enjoying being back in training.
In swimming, I am enjoying being back in squad swims, which really forced me to sort out my technique and up my game from a year of plodding up and down the local leisure centre. Whilst there is still a lot of work to do on my stroke, yesterday I got 500m into the set before I was told to move up a lane. This now puts me in the same lane as the winner of the Outlaw and in the lane next to people who were basically born into a pool and professional triathletes! I have basically as many swims a week as I want, and will put in an endurance set once I switch back to triathlon training after my ultra, which should see me go close, if not under the hour for Roth.
Despite the fact, I have the Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge in 3 days now, my run training hasn’t been as much as I would have liked. I did however manage nearly 2 hours, half off-road yesterday, so I am confident my foot will hold together. With being used to 2 hard, consecutive days on the bike now, I know my legs recover fairly well, so maybe there is hope after all! I will put another post up just before, outlying training, aims and kit.
Apologies this has taken so long to put up, but I was waiting to find out to see if I could have the video of me in the pool. Unfortunately as there are kids in the pool Child Protection Regulations have stopped me from being to upload it.
Anyway, the results. Well I am not as bad a swimmer as I thought! After a warm up and some drills I was given a few pointers to work on and soon I was gliding nicely through the pool. It turns out my catch is actually pretty good, despite what I originally thought and I have a good body position in the water. The similarities between rowing and swimming are amazingly close, and how I didn’t notice it before is beyond me!
The two things I worked on were rolling my body properly and getting full extension of my arms so I had a longer stroke, and to stop my arms from crossing (as ever!). The full extension was easy enough to get, but months of subconscious crossing proved more difficult. The video analysis showed that when I am swimming normally I don’t cross my arms any more and have a nice straight pull. The problem occurs when I take a breath when my limbs go AWOL. My opposite arm follow my body rotation and crosses over the centre line and my legs have a nice quirky flick out the side. To be fair, the leg flick wasn’t actually too bad, but I need to concentrate on the arm. It also explains why I end up veering off course when Open Water swimming as I only breathe on one side. This gives me two things to work on. I need to concentrate on my arm to stop it crossing over, and I also need to work on my bilateral breathing for training, which should just even everything out. It is getting better, I just get tired a lot quicker, so have to save it for easier work and persist.
So I have a few drills to work on, and technique pointers to concentrate on, which should improve my swimming gradually but I need a way to measure it. We did a lot of work on pacing, and experimenting with stroke rate and I ended up swimming with a lower stroke rate, which proved more efficient. We had a bit of a play with stroke golf (where you add time to stroke count, to work out how efficient you are) and found almost flat out with good technique, I am only one number down when I swim at my lower natural rate pushing hard. If I can if I can find a local squad this should improve my speed and I will also invest in some pool tools to speed myself up.
My 100m TT was 1:24 with good technique so I am going to work towards sub 1:20 and do lots of short distance sets (like 20 x 100m on 2:00 mins) to keep my technique. Once I am below 1:20 I can work towards a sub 3-min 200m, and then once I can comfortably do this I can work towards a sub 4:30 300m in a few months and then a sub 6 min 400m. Once I can do this well enough I can increase the distance swam at once, making sure the technique is kept. For a 1:05 hour IM swim I am going to need to be swimming 1:42/100m pace which I can do fine at the moment, I just cant hold it. Once I have picked my speed up I can increase distances working towards my target pace. Obviously the wetsuit will help a lot, but if I can swim a 1:05:00 in the pool then it will be very happy.
So work to do, but a big thanks to Streamlined Swimming and Elliot for an excellent session, highly recommended!