Wow it’s been a long time since my last post! In all fairness, I have been burning the candle at both ends a bit! I’ve set up my own web development company (http://www.condondesigns.co.uk – nice little plug there!), which I have been getting sorted, doing some work for that and developing the company website, which has to be a good one! On top of that I am in work doing long hours there as I attempt to build up some time for all my holidays and have a pretty packed training schedule! Anyway, enough whining.
It’s hard to believe that a) 3 weeks have gone, and b) I have only been on the plan for 3 weeks! I have got myself into a nice little routine now, with early morning starts, and double sessions most days. Compared to this time last year, I am logging massive weeks, and with plenty of room to increase it. More importantly I am holding up well doing this! Weights and yoga seem to be holding off any injury (touch wood!) and despite a few niggles, which I think is mainly down to the cold, I feel pretty good. Moving my long run to Wednesday has given me room to either recover properly on Sunday or put in another longish bike, and over the next few months, this should give me the option to do some mega weekends! The only problem I can see is trying to do 3 hour runs having done a swim in the morning and then a full day at work! Thankfully with plenty of time to build up and flexi time, I should be able to juggle it fairly well.
The concentration over the last few weeks has been keeping hold of the good work I did in Lanzarote. And I am pleased to say that thankfully, I seem to have done just that. Whilst I am a bit tired, I still feel good in all 3 sports. My swimming has had the biggest improvement and 3 swims a week have meant that I have lost very little feel since camp. I still feel strong in the water, even when tired and feel my stroke is a lot better. Last week I had one of those moments where it all falls together and it just felt great and I was motoring! And I even managed to throw in some consecutive tumble turns too! Though the direction I tend to push off in is a bit suspect….
Running is a similar story, and I am feeling fluid in my long runs, and just need more work to build my endurance. I have noticed a worrying trend over the last week where my HR has been about 10 beats lower than it should be. Now either I have got extremely fit (unlikely), my strap is too loose (tightening today confirmed that isn’t true) or I am very fatigued. This is possible, and I have also had a big calorie reduction as of late, which I suspect could be playing a part. If it is still like this at the start of my next block then it will need further investigation. The good news is that my times are still pretty much the same, so performance hasn’t dropped.
Cycling has been all about Fred Whitton training. I am doing this with a few guys from work, and it’s fair to say they aren’t as fit as me, so want to view the course first, and are more realistic, so know how hard it is going to be! Either way, it has meant that every Saturday we have/will be nipping to the Lakes to do some recce training, which is a great motivator and help to get me out on some really tough long rides. Though the views are certainly worth the pain:
Anyway here are the totals for weeks 2 and 3
- Swim – 7.5k
- Bike – 147k
- Run – 30.5k
- Swim – 7.5k
- Bike – 148k
- Run – 30.2k
Some nice totals, especially for this early on! A benefit of this increased training, as well as sticking mainly to a Paleo diet, with the odd binge, has been a change in my body shape, but a good one. I have slimmed down considerably, and lost the majority of my winter blubber, and am now close to a good summer shape. I have also lost a lot of excess bulk, mainly thanks to my running, from my shoulders especially. I have an uncanny ability to bulk up when not training properly, be it fat or muscle, but thankfully I find it easy enough to control.
This week is more of the same, building up for a good solid 10 days of training, including a very tough Lakes ride at the weekend. Then next Thursday I am off to Russia to see the girlfriend! This will be the end of 4 and a half weeks of solid training, and will give me a few days off, or a change to recover and enjoy a bit of a life outside tri, before I knuckle down for another solid 5 weeks of training. I won’t see the major benefits of training for another couple of months, but right now I am feeling very good, in very good shape and looking forward to the next 20 weeks before Switzerland!
Well I am now all packed up with much running around delivery depots in Prestons and suitcase weighing. Just about managed to fit everything in, and only missing a couple of unimportant things from the post!
Seriously annoyingly I have managed to thread my crank, by regreasing the bottom bracket and then forgetting to put the lip seal on! This meant I had extra room to tighten and managed to loosen the crank attachment thing SRAM use, and now there is a lot of play in the crank from where the lip seal should be and I can’t get the damn thing off to put the seal back on! I hope there is a Mechanic in La Santa who can fix it. Just my bloody luck, not happy.
Anyway, mentioned in the last post, I am expecting some big changes from this camp. This camp is effectively the start of my training for IM Switzerland, and afterwards I will have a couple of days rest, then 1 recovery week then the build begins with a 24 week plan, with one long rest weekend, and one rest week for when I visit Russia and training will be at a minimum. One of the aims of this camp is to put together that plan during my rest time.
There is an internet booth at the nearby hotel I am told, so hopefully I will be able to do some blogging every day with updates of how it is all going. For now though, adiós!
Well if there is one thing I have learnt during my prep for this camp, is don’t leave everything til the last minute, especially ordering any kit I need! Being winter, and the start of the new year, there is no summer kit in stock as all the lines are refreshed, and all the good training aids are all sold out as people make good on their New Year’s Resolutions! So I have spent a good amount of the last weekend scouring the internet looking for kit! Just hope it arrives in time!
Anyway, 3 days out from camp with Man Tri, were a group of 24 of us are all heading to Club La Santa in Lanzarote for a week’s training. We have a huge range of things to do, with sessions offered by La Santa, and our own MTC organised sessions. We were sent a list of all the sessions happening and a recommended plan, from which I took what I think would suit me the best. I have selected a huge load of training to do, fitting in with my minimum aims as stated earlier:
- Bike 30k a day
- Swim 1.5k a day
- Run 5k a day
Given my current training load, I could expect to achieve about 20 hours of training in a dedicated week, however I have scheduled about 35! It will be interesting to see how I hold up. I know I adapt quickly and can swim/bike/run myself into fitness over the first few days, but overuse and general exhaustion could play a big part in how much I can do. The facilities at La Santa do seem to be really good, so I can have massages and do lots of yoga and gym sessions to keep myself in a good state. Whatever happens, I am going to be sleeping lots!
I am expecting big things from the week, especially in my swimming. The opportunity to be swimming regularly, with a squad, with a coach, with training aids (finally brought myself some!) and structured sessions should improve it dramatically. I know what I can do 10x100m on at the moment, so will see how it goes when I get back! With regular running, I should get my form back again, which will be nice, and my cycling endurance should improve a lot over the week from all the miles. It will set me up for a very good season hopefully!
You will also notice a Massage Class thrown in there, which I have managed to squeeze into a gap in the training, which should give me a lot of help with self massage/helping others, and also let my girlfriend know how to massage legs properly! Anyway, enough talk, here’s the plan for the week:
As part of camp, I have splashed out on some nice Assos shorts in the hope that they will save the nether regions from pain in long consistent rides, especially in the Fred Whitton Challenge, which I have been accepted onto with a team from work! That is going to be one tough day. Luckily I can preview most of the course as it is fairly local, so can check gear ratios, but I think it is going to have to be a compact chainset! But will be awesome preparation for Ironman training. I have also splashed out on a Bike Box Alan to transport my faithful steed around the world with me. It has cool stickers, with my name on it, with more to come; almost makes me look like an athlete…
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!
Wow it’s been a long time since my last post, apologies for that! Life, travelling, injury and illness all managed to get in the way. As such, this could prove to be a rather long post, as well as having lots of non-training parts so I will try and structure it so you can pick and chose as you please.
From Russia With Flu
As mentioned in the previous post, I had thought my foot had healed, however a run soon after the other post soon proved me wrong. I managed a good half an hour, but anything over that was pushing it. However, I had a nice few days off to make sure it was healed when I headed off to Russia to see my girlfriend. However, a couple of nights before I was due to go, I wasn’t feeling too good, and then waking up in the middle of the night, all the colds/night sweats/chest infections I have had over the last couple of months hit me and I had the full works. My head felt like it was about to explode, all my muscles felt like I had done 4 IMs back to back flat out, and my throat felt like it had been replaced by a few sets of razor blades. I attempted to sleep until the morning, when I called into work sick and slept for another few hours. At this point, I had to drive down to my Dads to go to the airport in the morning. Let me tell you 250 miles with flu, dosed up on drugs is not good fun! However, as I hardly ever take any painkillers etc, the paracetemol had a good effect on me and I felt much better, flying the next day might be possible! After the drugs had worn off, I looked like death according to my step-mum, so an early night was in order for the 4 o’clock start to get my 6 o’clock flight! Waking up, I didn’t feel too bad, getting out of bed I felt terrible! More paracetmol, a drive to the airport, then some neurofen and onto the plane I got. By the time I reached zurich for my change I was feeling ok, and then it was just a couple of hours to Russia. Getting off the plane in St Petersburg, I hoped to God that the drugs had reduced my fever as I was met by a very stern looking woman with a thermal camera. Having decided that I wasn’t going to spread the plague across Russia I was unchallenged and breathed a huge sigh of relief as I stood at Passport Control desperately trying not to cough!
St Petersburg is a very interesting country, and we got a taxi from the airport and took the ‘scenic’ route back. Within 2 minutes of being in the taxi, we nearly got hit at a junction and as far as I can work out, Russians obey traffic lights to the degree that they refuse to go through if its even on orange, and then after that it’s a free-for-all! Health and safety hadn’t reached them yet, which made for a refreshing break throughout the trip. Having arrived at Meri’s appartment, I met her hostess and stood there smiling and nodding as she gabbered at me in Russian. I knew I should have brought that phrase book in the airport! A night out was non-negotiable and I was treated to the Russian cure for illnesses: vodka. And they don’t do single shots either. However, other than one episode the next morning where I was just curled up in bed with no energy having not eaten properly for 3 days, I seemed fine. An ice cream with lots of toppings and sugar soon sorted this, and then I was left to enjoy the trip.
It is a very beautiful city, with lots of churches, palaces and buildings that they have plied a lot of money in to make look good, which really pays off. As well as the amazing builings and squares, there was the obligitory Russian quirks: pet bears:
and a stuffed animal museum:
It was a fantastic trip, despite being too short, and next time I’m out we’re off to Moscow for a few days as well as more time in St P to see how much of the language I can learn.
Preston 10 Mile Road Race
On my return, with 6 days until the race, I decided that it would be a good idea to actually see how my legs were. 20 minutes later I discovered that although I felt recovered, my lungs and my legs were still suffering the effects of my illness. So it was more rest, until the day before when I went out to make sure I wouldn’t be stale for the race. I did a few minute pick-ups and felt ok.
The race itself wasn’t too bad. The idea of having a massive triple-chocolate cookie half an hour before the start was certainly a bad idea, as this just sat in my stomach complaining the entire race, but other than that I felt pretty good. I set off hard, clocking the first couple of miles at 7 minute/mile pace, expecting to settle into a nice rythym and the HR to drop down from the 185 bpm it was sat at. 4 miles later, this wasn’t happening but I decided to go for it anyway. With only 4 runs in the 3 weeks leading up to the race, my form was never going to be good, but I should have been fairly recovered, and know I can hold 180 for an hour or so, so pushed it. After a few miles the pace dropped to 7:30 min/mile but it stayed around there for the rest of the race. At about mile 7 I caught up with a woman who I had been yoyoying with for half the race and ran with her, holding good pace. Although it had dropped by a couple of seconds, sub 1:15 looked good as long as I had a good last mile. So at the mile 9 marker I just opened the legs and went for it. For the first time in the race I felt good and like a runner with a fluid technique, it’s just a pity my HR had to be at 190 for it to happen! I clocked off the last mile in 6 minutes and came home in 1:14:27 according to the official results, which put me in the top half of the field.
All in all, given the circumstances I was happy with this. My foot was fine with only a slight discomfort for the last third of the race, which didn’t get any worse as I went on. I certainly need some new shoes soon though, my blisters were bad at the end! With actual training, and finding a good rythym I reckon I could hold this pace for an entire marathon, though with the HR where it was, not for an IM marathon. For switzerland as long as I don’t fracture my collar bone 9 weeks before(!) I reckon 3:30 should be achievable.
In between coming back from Russia and the Preston 10 mile road race, I had a nice visit to Manchester. Half of the reason of visiting was to watch Michael McIntyre at the MEN Arena, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time (well since I saw Lee Evans there last year!). Absolutely brilliant show, and certainly recommend the DVD if you haven’t seen in.
The other reason was to go and get my Ironman tattoo. This is something I had planned from about month 2 of training for IMUK, and I booked it during Fresher’s Week in September and the nearest appointment was November! (She’s a good tattoo artist!) So an hour of pain later, here is the finished product:
My Mum hates it, so it must be good! I absolutely love it, and it will serve a reminder to me that no matter what you are told, anything is possible as long as you believe it is. It also reminds me that if I really want something, I don’t have a pain barrier! And let’s face it, it’s good for showing off in the pool/in shorts (which I wear all year round)/at races. It will fade as it heals, and the scabs have no nearly all come off and it looks awesome! The only downside to the tattoo is that it has put me out of the pool for a few weeks while it heals…
The Training Plan
So as I put the final touches to my new, revised training plan, it’s intersting to see how it has changed from what I had in mind a couple of months ago! It is quite a simple plan, all below AT for now. In essence I have a yoga session every week, 2 weights sessions a week (time-dependant) to help avoid injury. The rest of my training is then based around what I want to achieve for that block. With swimming not being a big part of an Ironman, and with my running seemingly OK with little training, I am going to spend a lot of pre-season on my bike. Given that it is the biggest chunk of the race, and that the fresher I come off the bike, the better I will run, I believe it is one of the biggest limiters for all but the best cyclists in an Ironman. So for the few weeks I will do lots of time on the bike, around 6 sessions a week, with the usual long bike at the weekend. I will most probably move my long run (which at this stage is only an hour and a half) from the weekend to Wednesday, which will allow me to have 2 long rides a week, at the weekend. For the beginning it is all about getting back into the rountine of regular training. I will have a couple of runs a week, possibly only my long run and running off both long bikes and a couple of swims a week, when I can get back in the pool.
I have a swim course on the 5th December, which among others, has video analysis of my stroke. This should prove interesting, and I am reluctant to spend lots of time in the pool until this as it is far easier to iron out bad habits after time off than in the middle of a season. Once I have had this, I will spend a couple of weeks working on my running and working on drills in the pool up until Christmas week. Christmas week provides unknown pool opening times (along with the usual questions of when does the post come, when are the bins collected, what day is it, what time is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and when do the sales start!) and also Welsh mountains. So I will do a heavy week, with lots of time in the cycling making the most of being at home for the week. I am then down south visiting my Dad and girlfriend while she is home for Christmas so will shift training back to swimming and running until I start work again in the New Year. I will then have a few weeks of lots of cycling, but tapering down towards the end of January for my training camp in January in Lanzarote and regular visits to/from my girlfriend until she goes back in February.
I want to absolutely run myself into the ground in Lanzarote and hope to make big gains in fitness over this week with all my time solely for training. We also have use of a 50m pool I think every morning, so depending on the training schedule provided, I am going to aim for an Epic Camp style training week, with swim, bike and run every day.
After the training camp, I will have a week and a half of recovery and then Ironman specific training starts and I get to experience the joys of juggling a job/life/training that almost every age grouper has to do. I miss being a student! I will follow a similar format to last year, though will shedule the week slightly differently. It will be a week of a long bike with run afterwards, a long run, 3-4 swims and filled in with yoga, weights and short runs and bikes. I will be out visiting Russia again in April so will have a big build and then use that week as a R&R week before beginning a final build.
I aim to make the most of living by the sea when it warms up with regular sea swims to get used to the wetsuit and will spend a lot of work on technique. Cycling will be all about volume, and running frequency for good form. So far the only other race next year I have planned it Weymouth Middle Distance, though I’m sure there will be a few more dotted about! Anyhoo, it is looking to be a good season hopefully, building upon everything I learnt last year and I am certainly looking forward to it, which is encouraging after the massive lack of motivation I have had at points over the last few weeks.
I did warn you it was going to be a long post! Next time won’t be as long and there won’t be as long a wait, promise!