So the off-season is over and it is time to get ready for 2013. Despite deciding to have a year off Ironman, I seem to have entered Ironman Texas in May! It should be good fun though (I hope) and I am getting my plan together for the next few months so I can start in much better shape than the previous one!
It is cross-country season at the moment and I am racing the North West Cross Country League at the moment which I will cover in a later post, but I have missed getting caked in mud and racing hard!
For now, here’s a picture which I was sent from IMUK, complete with heavily strapped and splinted arm! What’s even more surprising is I actually look like I’m running well with both feet off the ground! Must have been the first lap….ha!
So a couple of months ago I received an email from the guys at Tri247 telling me I had been selected to take part in the Neovite Test Team study, effectively looking at how Neovite, a colostrum supplement affects athletic performance. A few days later and a parcel containing a couple of bags arrived in the post. We had the instructions to take 20g a day for 15 days for the first back, and then 15g for 20 days for the 2nd bag, so it would be a 5 week study.
For those of you that don’t know, Neovite is a dairy protein from milk taken in the first 48 hours after calving, and includes colostrum as well as a whole host of other things that are supposed to be good for you, helping you to build muscle (i.e. recover quicker) and help support your immune system (i.e. get ill less). A lot more information can be found on their website.
I started the trial on Week 1 of my Roth training, and effectively jumped from under 10 hours a week training, to over 15 hours a week, a 50% increase in training. Over the first couple of days I only had small changes in digestive habits, with a bit of bloating and needing to go to the toilet more regularly, all of which settled back down quickly. I certainly had nothing like the horror stories that I had heard about as your stomach and digestive system adjusts to taking the stuff. I do know, however, that I have a fairly solid stomach that can cope with most things, including dodgy food, both questionable cooking and best-before dates, as well training on full stomachs, so having no effect on me wasn’t too much of a surprise.
During the period of the trial, I only had a couple of colds, certainly nothing that affected my training, and only one point where I thought I was getting ill. However this passed very shortly, and overall I stayed in good health, depsite sustaining a lack of sleep at certain points, due to Univeristy work and commitments whilst training full-time.
In terms of recovery, I did seem to be recovering well. I know that I can cope with big increases in training load (my age certainly helps!) but I was surprised at just how well I was coping. Sure, after big days in the saddle, my legs would be tired and sore, for instance, but a good meal and sleep later, and I would be fine the next day, ready to cope with the next day’s training, so I do feel that I was recovering quicker whilst on the Neovite. Since I stopped taking it, I do appear to be recovering slightly slower, though how much of this was down to not taking Neovite, and how much was affected by my Final Year Project deadline, which was adding a lot of external stress and significantly reducing my sleep, is difficult to tell.
I attempted many methods of taking it. I tried just with water, tasted horrible. With squash or juice – made it quite thick and odd-tasting. With a smoothie – didn’t mix at all, and I might as well have just eaten the powder on its own! With milk – mixed well, but still had an odd taste. With milk and nesquick – perfect! Mixes well and tastes nice. Just had to ignore the amount of milk I was drinking!
Overall I felt that the Neovite helped me go from a relatively small maintenance training load, back up to training full time pretty well, and helped me recover from it well, and kept me healthy. I certainly didn’t feel any negative side-effects. How much was down to a placebo effect, diet and general fitness, and how much could be accounted for by the Neovite is difficult to tell, though on balance I think it certainly helped, and will certainly consider it when going on training camps, or attempting big increases in training.
So last weekend I headed down south for a job interview, and whilst I was down there I managed to visit my old school, Lambrook, and give a couple of talks to the kids there about triathlons. They actually run a triathlon in the summer there, with the kids swimming a couple of lengths of the school pool, doing a lap of the grounds on their bikes and then running a lap of one of the fields, so when I asked at the start if anyone had done a triathlon before, I got a nice show of hands.
The first talk I gave was to the Pre-Prep, which is 4-6 year olds, in their morning assembly. After a quick five minute presentation, I was inundated with 10 minutes of questions (and quite a few from the teachers!) until they had to go to their lessons, which was a relief after dreading an awkward silence with no one being that interested!
The main talk I gave was on Saturday afternoon, to the main school, with ages ranging from 6-13, and with a turn out of most the school. I took along my bike and wetsuit to talk about and show the kids and started with a quick introduction to the sport, talking through the different distances and then stages, and then talked about my experiences of the sport, racing 2 Ironmans and how I train and prepare for them.
Since the previous talk had overrun, I cut this one short, knowing that the kids would have more experience of the sport so hopefully more questions. I finished my talk after 20 minutes and then opened up for questions, leaving a generous amount of time to fill in my hour slot. Sure enough,, as soon as I finished I had questions galore, and was challenged with some very good and interesting questions. They ranged from the usual ‘what happens when you need to go to the toilet’ and ‘what happens when you fall off and are clipped into your bike’, to the more pressing about ‘what drives you to do this’ and to ‘when do you think you will stop doing triathlons’.
All the kids were extremely attentive and the time flew by with the questions. Even the teachers enjoyed it and had their fair share of questions! Before I knew it, and with still a sea of hands, I was told we had to stop after the next question and my time was up as the kids had to get off to their lessons. A few of the older ones who had lessons with the teachers who were there, stayed behind and got to have a play with my kit and ask more detailed questions as well as the teachers, a few of whom taught me when I was 13 all those years ago!
It was an extrememly enjoyable experience, and so rewarding to see all the kids (and teachers!) so interested in what I had to say, and the feedback I got was that they were talking about it with great enthusiasm afterwards in their lessons. If I have inspired just a few of them to try out the sport or get involved with exercise, then I leave a happy man.
As a final plug, if anyone wants me to come talk at their school, their kid’s school, or their work, just ping me and email (at the top right) and I’ll be happy to sort something out.
So a long time has passed since my last post and a lot has happened! I have spent the last few weeks deep in exams which has reduced my training significantly (and any blog updates!) but it hasn’t all been quiet.
November saw the completion of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge and the accompanying knee injury that took a while to heal. Whilst I felt I was recovered in few weeks, it took a lot longer for all knee pain to disappear and for the exhaustion to finally go. It was great fun but not something I would do in the middle of the season.
December and January saw the start of the returning to a decent training schedule and fitting in what I could around work and holiday opening hours. This time last year I had just returned from Lanzarote having put in a good solid week of training but being completely knackered. This year sees me returning from good few solid weeks of revision and being completely knackered! I do however feel I am in much better shape than last year: my weight is a lot lower and I am certainly carrying around a lot less winter insulation, and my speed and fitness are better.
Goals For 2011
So the main goal for this year is going sub 10 hours at Roth. Not exactly an easy challenge but I want to push myself and certainly think it is possible, especially on that course. Having nearly broken 11 hours at Switzerland, and ‘Roth’adjusting’ the time, it means I need to improve by 30-45 mins, which after another year in the sport should certainly be achievable. Having a time goal gives me some nice times for each discipline to aim for:
- Swim – 1 hour
- Bike – 5 hour 15
- Run – 3 hour 30
- Contingency/Transitions – 15 mins
The other main race for the year (providing it isn’t sold out when I can pay for it!) is Ironman UK 3 weeks later to see how close I can get to a qualifying spot. A gap of 3 weeks is going to be tough, but I proved from the PCC that I can cope with the distance, it will just be a question of recovering as best I can to keep a decent pace up. With 3 slots available in my age group this year, it should hopefully mean I get pretty close. Sub 11 hours here shouldn’t be out of the question providing Roth goes well and I recover well.
Whilst I am seeing good signs in some areas of training currently, and having doubts in other areas, I do need to remind myself that I have a significant amount of time between now and my races, and this things should all come, especially as I am not planning on any 2 week, volcano-stranded holidays giving me an extended forced rest and losing my shape!
Approaching The Training Plan
I want to get myself into a routine again and start churning out consistent weeks. Whilst I had a fairly good place last year, I was missing some of that solid consistency that I am aiming for last year. Taking 2 weeks off training in the middle of the season wasn’t exactly ideal.
I did however manage to absorb fairly high training loads and be able to train day in, day out, things that I want to take through into this year. My basic plan will be nice and simple, 5 sessions per sport per week, 15 sessions in total. Due to weekend club sessions and commuting on the bike, I will attempt to work back into getting some training again last year, and then have a recovery week every 4 weeks where I drop the hours back massively, take a complete day off at the weekend, have a lie in etc and drop a few sessions in the week. This should allow me a decent recovery for the next block. To begin with I will keep the hours low and the frequency high to get the sessions in, get a routine back and work towards a consistent training week.
With a target time of 1 hour, I know I need to be able to hold 1:34/100m pace. Though with a draft and a wetsuit this will be a few seconds lower.
I have put a lot of work into my swimming over the last couple of months, ramping up the number of sessions I do a week and mileage and making the most of having a swim squad to train with. I have moved up lanes and now train in either the top or second lane, swimming with some very good swimmers, which is great for pushing me. Taking 12 minutes off my swim is a big ask, but I know I didn’t swim hard enough last year and had a rough swim and with a year of squad training I am hoping to make breaking the hour a reality. Currently I am swimming at a threshold pace in the high 1:30s so with 5/6 months of work, I should easily be able to take this down to the low 1:30s.
The plan is to swim 4 times a week with the swim squad, with will provide me with enough mixed sessions and lots of speed work as I desperately try to hang on the back of better swimmers. I will also have 1 session a week concentrating specifically on endurance work, which will be a 4k session of 4x1k, 2x2k or 4k straight to ensure that I can hold the pace and mixing it up with paddles, bands and pool buoys to help technique, power and balance.
The bike is the leg where I have the most work to do. Aiming for a 5 hour 15 bike split means I need to be able to average over 34kph, which is a significant jump on last year. Whilst the course at Roth will certainly help bump my speed up, I will need to do a lot of work on my endurance and FTP for this to be achievable. Club rides, especially the University Cycling Club session will help with this, as they usually end up with us attacking each other over and over and really helped my speed pick up towards the end of last year after only a couple of months. Returning to these should help pick the bike up and as the days get longer, so will the rides and so hopefully will my endurance. Lots of TT races, another club sessions will all help add to this, as well as specific interval sets. The plan is to have 3 big bikes a week, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and interval set and then an easy recovery ride a week.
On top of the training I also have a new bike! Damaging my decent road bike forced my hand and I brought a TT bike, complete with a power meter! It will take a while to get used to, and I still need to do some work on my position but it is already feeling fast! Hopefully the benefits of having a power meter will enable specific training and racing. The main problems with the bike are that I am unable to yet find a saddle I am comfortable on for the aero position, and the crank length is longer than I am used to. Currently this means pedalling feels a lot harder, and I am unable to spin the legs. This should get easier as I get used to it, I just need an adaptation stage. Worst case, I have a spare crank that I can switch in, which is my usual length, but it has a GXP bottom bracket instead of the ISIS the Ergomo uses, so I would be without a power meter. Hopefully I can get used to the crank!
First impressions of the bike are great though! I finally took it out on the road at the weekend and got 4 hilly hours in. It is nice to be back on a decent bike after so long on my heavy commuter and even with the aero levers, it is nice to be able to stop when going down hill! Once I get used to the crank and holding the aero position, I should be flying!
A sub 3:30 marathon would put me in the top 12% at the London marathon… putting it together at the end of an IM is another story! Effectively I need to hold 12kph, or 5 min/km pace. So this is what I am focusing my training on. Now having a Garmin, I know with greater detail what pace I am running at, how my heart rate is coping with that, where I lag on long runs, the effect of taking food on etc. I need to work towards making 5:00/km pace my easy pace, so that I know I can hold this at the end of the race. Certainly all my current runs are looking good, and my threshold pace is in the 4:20s. So all my non-easy runs need to be under 5:00 min pace and I need to work towards my long run hitting below this in the long term.
The plan is in the week to have a long run, a threshold run, and interval run, a brick run and then either another brick, a hill run or a recovery run, depending on the week and how I am feeling.
Fitting it all together
I am still working out how to balance all the sessions, so will put another post up when I have worked out how everything will fit together. Once a routine comes together, consistent training will follow, and consistency is the key to success.
It should be a good year
Some interesting stats from last year are below! A long break has passed since my last post, and will be putting another post up soon about the season ahead, goals and plans. Other upcoming posts include my training plan, and my switch to Vibrams.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.
A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.
In 2010, there were 36 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 75 posts. There were 5 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 585kb.
The busiest day of the year was July 28th with 70 views. The most popular post that day was Ironman Switzerland.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, man-tri-club.org.uk, uk.linkedin.com, and en.wordpress.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for kona krazy, ribby hall triathlon, kona qualification, ribby hall triathlon 2011, and pembrokeshire coastal challenge.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Ironman Switzerland July 2010
About August 2009
Results October 2009
Schedule February 2010
Preparing For Lanzarote Training Camp January 2010