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