So as I sit behind a desk with the old familiar ache in the legs, it is safe to say that I am slowly getting back into a routine of exercise. The fitness is slowly on the way up, and my weight is slowly on the way down, although my recovery speed has got some catching up to do!
The biggest boost to my training has been finally getting around to replacing my battered commuter bike, which was beyond saving, so that I can cycle into work. This gives me a good hour/hour and a half of riding each day, with a mixture of battling into the winds, easy spinning and a few lumps to get over. Now having a single speed bike, I can’t hide behind an easy gear when the going gets tough, you have to deal with it! Hopefully this will get some strength back in the legs. The prevailing wind also works out quite well for me, as I tend to ride to work into it, and can have a hand getting home if I’m knackered. My feel for the bike is almost back at least.
The other two sports are coming along at a mixed rate. Running is getting back to it, though my technique has gone out the window and I seem determined to hit the ground with my heel with as much force as possible, and I am really having to concentrate on it to stop. I am definitely looking forward to some drills in January! Swimming is ticking along, and the swims I do are starting to feel better. The main problem is now that I am cycling in, I can’t take my swim kit in as well so I swim when I don’t cycle in. Thankfully I have 2 pools close to me, so can go to those in the evenings, and it may even be time to bite the bullet and drag my lazy self out of bed in the morning to get a swim in before work. At least I am slowly getting back into the athlete bed times.
The diet is at least going well. I have completely cut the rubbish out finally, and my treats usually revolve around cereal bars before/after training. Couple this with training again, and in the 3 weeks between ‘weigh-ins’ I have lost 5 kilos! A few kilos more and I will be back into a happy range.
The culmination of all of this was last weekend in Manchester. The Saturday saw me race cross-country in the afternoon, and despite a dismal performance, I had great fun! I was massively off the pace, and well below my usual performance, but really enjoyed it and it was nice racing again. In the evening, I headed down to the velodrome for a Man Tri session, and was completely dead! But a good, solid double session day was perfrect for catapulting me back into training. To top it all off, I cycled home from the station when I got back to London in torrential rain with a big smile on my face.
The last step to getting fully fit will be my winter camp in the new year. I am tagging along with a few of the elite athletes from the club to Kinetic PB in Spain for 11 days of getting hammered! It looks like it is going to turn into a very professional camp, with one of the guys going threatening to bring his video-camera and accupuncture needles, both of which I will hopefully get some use out of! I certainly know my technique needs a lot of work on, in all sports. It should be good fun though, and will be exactly what I need to set up a decent 2012 season.
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!
Well I think it is fair to say that my winter training was a bit of a failure… I had a good start, managed to get a good few bike rides in and swims and then the weather hit. Combine that with travelling all over the country visiting the family and girlfriend, and lots of non-Paleo good food, I am nicely out of shape!
Well now the break is properly over, the real work starts… as soon as this weather goes away! At the moment I am unable to ride and run outside thanks to all the ice, and can’t get to the gym or pool… thanks to all the ice! Thankfully it is beginning to clear up, so I might actually be able to get off the turbo soon!
I have just over 2 weeks now until I leave for Lanzarote, so the purpose of these 2 weeks is to get myself back into some sort of shape so I can have a good camp. I haven’t yet heard anything about the training we are doing out there but I imagine we will have time to train to ourselves as well so here are my aims for the camp:
- Swim minimum of 1.5k a day
- Bike every day, (which will hopefully be group rides) but minimum of 30k a day with a couple of big rides in
- Run a minimum of 5k a day
- Run after every ride over 60k
- Run myself into the ground!
Lanzarote will mark the start of my dedicated training for IM Switzerland, which I will prepare my plan during down time in Lanza. It will include a good base period of around 10 weeks. A main point of concentration, as well as the usual long steady workouts, will be a focus of diet, and maintaining a Plaeo diet as much as possible and restricting my carbs. The point of this is to encourage the body to use more fat, and to make it burn it more efficiently, which it won’t do if there is a load of carbs available. This will have the effect that I will be able to work at a higher rate for longer as I can use my fairly endless supply of fats in the body more and less of my limited supply of carbs. This will also have the effect that when I do take carbs, it should give me a massive boost and reduce my risk of bonking.
After the base period, I will add in some speed work and finish with a 5 week build/3 week taper up to the race. Throw in 2 trips to Russia and its going to be a busy few months! Happy days!
Well after an interesting 2009, I have learnt a lot and I’m going to take that into 2010. The main focus of the year in Ironman Switzerland. I want to put in a good solid performance there, and one of my goals of the season is to go sub-11 there, which with some decent training and everything planned, should be easily possible. The other season goal, on the other end of the spectrum is to go sub-1 hour at a sprint, possibly at Fleetwood as it is a quick course and given the shape I was in when I did my 1hr 3 this year, should be easily doable. A sub-hour will also give me a top 10 place overall, the final season goal. Go top-10 at a race.
The objectives of the year, which are going to help me achieve my season goals are:
- Do a training camp
- Run after every long ride
- Join Masters Swim Group
- Start Yoga
More on these later.
The first thing I will look at for next year (mainly as it is the easiest), is my equipment for all 3 sports. In terms of swimming and cycling, I think I am pretty much set. My wetsuit is pretty suited to my needs, and won’t need upgrading for another couple of years when I can actually swim properly.
As much as I would love another bike, and am seriously considering a Specialized Transition, I don’t think I can justify it. Yes it will make me a hell of a lot faster overall (better bike position – more aero, more power and easier to run off the bike, and a better bike – more aero, stiffer etc) and would be lovely for a bit of bike porn, but I would be really scraping the barrel to get the bike I want so I am going to wait another year or two. My bike is great, and I have some awesome wheels and it has the potential for a 5-5:30 ride with proper training. So unless I a) win a bike, or b) win the lottery, I am sticking with my bike. As with everything I go (especially related to triathlon), there won’t be much holding back (to a degree) when I build my bike. Current thoughts are the S-Works transition, which I’ll build myself, with SRAM Red, Zipp Disc and 808 combo, and zipp bars with the RZR shifters for a bit of bling! So I will need to save for that! As nice as a P4/Shiv/anything in that price range, there will be no way I can afford it! But at the moment, I will get much more benefit from spending that kind of money on training.
The one area where I probably will change my kit is running. Recently I have noticed that when I concentrate on my running technique I tend to shift more to mid-foot landing, run a lot lighter and a lot quicker. Given the problem I’ve had with my shins, and my glass knees, this seems like a sensible transition. So recently I have been trying to shift to mid-foot running, with some interesting results. It is a strange change, as you really shorten your stride length, pick you cadence up and land under your body. The results were 2 mins off my 30 min loop, and a lower HR. Admittedly part of this was lack of form for the first run, but not all of it. Although my RPE was quite a bit higher, my HR says I’m working less, so this will even out as I get used to the style. But what has this got to do with equipment! Well, my trainers are coming to the end of their life, and I am considering some Newtons. These will help the shift and are supposed to be pretty comfortable and very different, so I think I will buy some and test them over winter.
I’ll try and make this a bit shorter! My diet has changed dramatically over the last month or so, as I have completed the switch to Paleo. All in all, I am feeling great from it! I think I recover quicker, I am certainly losing weight (especially in my wallet!) and generally feel good. I do need to make my meals a bit more interesting, a fillet of meat/fish and salad just don’t cut it for lunch for me! I need to dig the cook books out and make some sauces! So for the moment, I am going to continue, trying to increase my veg intake as I tolerate it more (I really don’t like my veg!), and try and have as many meals close to exercise to have the excuse of having lots of carbs, which I still miss, especially on light training days when I don’t have any ‘traditional’ carbs!
Now the big one, my training. Originally the plan was to use Joe Friel’s Training Bible, and follow that completely. However, I have been listening to the entire back catalogue of IM Talk (only about a third of the way through!) and have picked up some interesting ideas from them, so for this year, I am going to try some stuff out and mix everything around. Although I was originally planning to put all my plan online, this is taking longer to get together than I thought, and to make look nice! So it will go up in segments! With only one A race next year, planning is a bit easier. So the general outline is from now until the end of January, I am going to do 3 single-sport specific blocks.
So am I know a week in to my run-specific block. I will be running 6 times a week, and just have a couple of swims, bikes, a yoga session and easy weights thrown in. There is a steady progression and increase in load, right up until start of November when I am off to Russia for a few days, so this will be my easy week before my last week of a bit of speed work/taper which culminates in the Preston 10 Mile Road Race on 15th November, where I am hoping to post a decent time. I also happen to have the Tour of the Peaks 96 mile cycle race in a couple of weeks to add a bit of fun in my run block… Not sure how sensible that one is! The focus of this block is to improve my efficiency, form and speed. My endurance is pretty solid, so I won’t be doing too many long runs.
After the 10 miler, I move to a swim block, where I am going to build up to 6 swims a week, with lots and lots of focus on my technique, which is terrible! So I am going to have lots of video analysis, coaching, lessons when I can fit it in, and try and sort out my tumble turns, my breathing, and speed. Hopefully after this block, I will be back to as good as I was before my crash, and hopefully a bit more! I am going to have some work done in an endless pool at TriCentral and some lessons in Fleetwood. I also need to find a Masters Group, as this is the thing that really makes a difference.
That will last until mid December, when I switch to a bike block, where I want to log some serious miles. The good thing is this coincides with the Christmas holiday, so I have some time of work to spend long hours on my bike. The aim of this block is to improve my overall power, which is good generally but I can’t sustain it too much, and to improve my endurance, so I can hold a higher power, for longer and so I can run better off the bike with fresher legs. After every ride over 2 hours I will do at least a short run off the bike, with the odd hour run thrown in. This block will last til the end of January when I go on my first camp of the year. This is a week in Lanzarote with Man Tri, and should be good fun.
I am still undecided on what to do after this, I will have a bit of down time after the camp to recover fully, and then will probably move into another swim block, and switch back to 6 swims a week if I find this works. I will also probably do some speed sessions and sprint tris for a bit of fun to pick up my speed. At 20 weeks out from IMCH, I will start my IM speicifc build up, working on combining all 3 sports and building my endurance. The focus for the disciplines, the swim will focus on technique, the bike on volume, and the run on frequency. As part of my final build, I am planning on doing an Easter training camp with Pyrenees Multisport which is a mini-Epic Camp, which if you know about those, they are tough! This should provide my final push into my build up and set me up in decent shape for my Ironman.
The other area I am improving this year is my injury prevention. With my given record I really need to work on this! To do this I am going to be doing lots of weights, yoga and massage. The weights won’t be too heavy, mainly working on my stabilisers and endurance. Yoga is great for flexibility, relaxing and injury prevention and should be a nice change from usual training. Massage is always good, and in an ideal world I would have it every day, but it is expensive! (So if there are any single ladies out there who are good with their hands…..!) Lots of self massage should help, but when I really start to get stiff, especially when I am doing lots of bike volume, I am going to have to relent and get the knots worked out. Generally, I am going to want one proper massage at least once a month.
All in all it looks like a very exciting year! It should be a year to push me and test me, and barring any potholes(!), it should be a very good year.
Well it has been the first week at starting to change my diet, and I am slowly making the switch to the Paleo Diet.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.