Given my current mood, anyone would think I had a bad race. Far from it, I went under my target time, PBed it every discipline and placed well. However I still feel like something went wrong, and a series of kit mishaps, including my watch dying on me (again), bike computer stop working and breaking my sunglasses haven’t helped, but hopefully I’m just tired!
I remember thinking this last year too, but halfway through the swim I thought there is no way in hell am I doing this again. I had a horrible swim, and just got completely battered by the waves. The conditions were horrible and I suffered big time. But so did everyone, and nothing could be done so I just plodded on (although they got better as the day improved, especially the wind, giving the 2nd wave a slight advantage). Overall, I actually felt good, and whenever there was a break in the waves, I was swimming well. That was until I got clobbered by another wave and it broke any rhythm I might have had. The waves made it impossible to sight, and my course was questionable. So coming out of the swim and seeing 26 mins, I was rather surprised, and once I had spat out the gallons of sea water I had swallowed I ran into transition.
As ever, I had fun getting my wetsuit off (I really need to trim the limbs) but I didn’t tear it this year. Helmet on, grabbed my bike and I was gone.
Coming onto the bike, you get off the prom, and then straight into the wind and up a big climb. The wind certainly made it a tough course, and the roads were questionable. I’m sure some of the potholes that were marked out were there last year! But I was quickly overtaking lots of people and climbing well. Once my legs warmed up and they woke up, I felt great. Having the last few days as easy meant for once I had some energy in my legs. Having the compact on also allowed me to spin past some of the people on their bling tt bikes who were forced to grind up in big gears. With each lap I felt better and better, helped by the wind dying down, and on all of the climbs I didn’t get overtaken by anyone. I lost time to people on the small amount of flats, which is fair enough as I wasn’t in full aero gear, and on the descents where the dodgy roads made for some interesting descending! However, as my IM tune up, there was no way I was going to take risks flying over potholes and round corners so I’m not going to loose any sleep over it. Coming onto the fourth lap it started to get really busy as all 3 waves were out on the course, but I powered past the big group on the climb, giving me a free descent and run into transition in a time of 1 hour 15.
Once I had found my space, which was difficult given the number of clear plastic boxes there, I racked my bike and then messed about putting my socks on. But as before, the main aim of the race was to make sure everything for my IM is ok. Once the shoes were on, I ran out and was told that I had 11 people in front of me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single one of these 11 people until I got close to the turn around! I was left to run my own race, which was fine by me. I quickly fell into a good rhythm and felt good. Running down the prom I felt comfortable, and then all of a sudden you are faced with a huge hill! This was just a case of slog it up to the top, and over again. Once over the hill we had a fairly flat run to the turn around and I felt good again. I had a small section going up the climb where I had a bit of tightness but it soon loosened up. Getting up to the turnaround, I saw the main pack of people in front of me, but they were just too far in front to catch, apart from one so I pushed on regardless, and then we hit the hill again, and it was TOUGH! Going up however, I caught the girl in front of me (Didn’t get chicked ;D) and then had a good run on the descent and push to the finish, with a run time of 42 mins. Pretty good considering the course. I’m glad my foot held up over the run, though it is hurting now!
Finish time of 2:26:22, which given it is about 15 mins slower than a normal olympic I’m told, I can be pretty happy with. I was 4th in my age group, and 1st and 2nd overall were in my age group too! Overall I was 21st, so not bad, though I would have liked top 20. Will have to wait for the results to come out before I can do some analysis on my times and placings. Yet again, it was a fantastic event, and the town really embrace it, with mainly closed roads and lots of people supporting, especially through the town centre. I may be back next year, that’s if I’ve forgotten the taste of the sea and the sea sickness by then!
The basic principles of training are that you put your body under stress, and in doing so, when you recover, it repairs itself, but in a better state than before. This is know as supercompensation, and is the underlying principle in every bit of training that we do, as I’m sure most of you know. Many, including Joe Friel, also talk about extreme compensation, or extreme overloading, which basically follows a pattern of a short pattern of time, followed by a period of recovery, in which you put your body under extreme amounts of stress, well above what you normal undertake. During this, it never recovers properly whilst in this period, but when the recovery period starts, you get a massive spike in fitness, well above what you would get from normal training.
This type of training can only be sustained for short periods of time, otherwise you risk overtraining, burning out, or more likely injury or illness first. So aside from the little sports science lesson, I have been playing a little experiment on myself in the last few weeks, to see how much of this I can take. Before I started my main build, I was probably averaging around 15 hours a week, but had had a couple of weeks of reduced training due to my stomach bug. Given my age, and knowing I recover quickly (a broken collar bone in 3 weeks!), it has been an interesting experience, and confirms what I have suspected on past training camps (such as Lanzarote going from 7 hours a week to a 30 hour week): I can take a lot of training before I start seeing negative results. Ignoring the foot injury, which was a stupid mistake on my part, it took 2 and a half weeks for cracks to begin to appear. If I had the chance to do it full time, rather than fitting it around work, I suspect it may have been less as I could have done more. But it was good fun none the less. Lessons learnt include:
- Don’t do speed work with tired legs when you haven’t done any in months
- Sleep is paramount – when I was on less than 6 hours, I really felt it. When I got 8 I really noticed the difference the next day.
- Diet is just as important, eat well, ensure you get enough protein to repair everything, and eat soon after big sessions and you will recover much quicker.
Week 3 saw a return to some sort of running form as I ramped up the frequency, running 8 days in a row. The foot injury now seems to have subsided, and I haven’t had any problems from it for a couple of days so fingers crossed it will be ok! My long run of 2 hours went well, though I certainly need to do another one next week to get used to running long again. It is a bit annoying I never managed to fit a 3 hour run in, but I will just have to cope.
Swimming included a 3.8k tt to make sure I was comfortable with the distance, and resulted in a 1 hour 09 swim! Very pleased with that, and the training has really started to show and puts me in good stead for my 1 hour 5 target.
Cycling saw an ‘easy’ office ride, which ended up me doing 3 hard laps of Beacon Fell, turning the next day’s ride into a recovery ride. On Sunday we had the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride, in which I rode to the start (I live near Blackpool), did the bike at a good effort, then rode home, finishing up with an hours brick run! Very pleased with that session, and my running after.
So Week 3 Totals:
Swim – 9.3k
Bike – 322.17k
Run – 43.37
Total Time – 21 and a half hours
Including what I have done so far this week, I have managed over 80 hours of training in under 4 weeks, so very pleased with that. I know my aerobic fitness is very good, and my run and swim speed is where I want it to be. I know the bike speed is there, but it remains to be seen if I will be able to hold the speed I want at IM effort once the fatigue has lifted. The focus for the next 2 weeks is my taper. I have one longish bike, and a long run at the start of next week to finalise nutrition and getting used to it then I need to ensure than I recover fully. I am hoping to put in a big swim week, as this will only take a week to taper down from, and hopefully this will include a trip to a lake for some OW swimming! I just have to remind myself of the principles of training when I start getting restless to train! I have a basic plan to follow, but most of it will be played by ear, at the end of the day, I know how I am feeling.
So on Sunday I am off to Llandudno to for my final race before Switzerland. Aims of the race re simple – PB and check everything for my IM. As such, I am racing in IM kit, with IM bike set up to check everything. The only change will be bike shoes, as I have decided to wear road shoes and socks for the IM, but it is not worth the hassle for an Olympic – given the mileage over the last few weeks, I am comfortable with that setup! A PB shouldn’t be too difficult given that this time last year I had done one swim in 6 weeks, having broken my collarbone and barely any running or road cycling. The only equal part could be the bike, but I am hoping the volume will ensure a good time. If the weather is bad (and rain is forecast) I won’t be taking any chances on the bike. It is a technical course with some nasty descents, and certainly nothing to gain a couple of minutes over crashing and putting myself out of IM Switzerland! The swim should be a guaranteed PB, and will be looking for sub 25 mins. The run depends on the wind and my foot, any twinges and I’ll back off, otherwise hopefully I will have a solid run.
After that it is only 2 weeks to go until the big day! I have got all my travel information through, and The Fear is beginning to creep up. But I love it, cannot wait, and am looking forward to it so much!
Wow really has been a long time since my last post! Well since then, my stomach started working again after a few days, though it took a week to get back to normal, I went to Manchester for a stag do, end of exams party, and general mental refresh, and I have hit training HARD!
The week after the last post (so 2 and a half weeks ago), I started my final build for Switzerland. What was planned was 3 and a weeks of intense training, followed by a mini taper for Llandudno Triathlon to recover, a couple of final main sessions, then my final taper. So far it has been interesting, with mega bike hours, good swim sessions and a running injury…
The first week went pretty much to plan, with around 22 and a half hours done. Totals were:
I felt good and the long rides after the office really started to help, and I began to see improvements. Having an easy office ride on the tuesday, and a long, hilly ride on Wed has given me vast improvements in my bike, mainly with fuelling and stamina. They have helped me be able to ride for long hours on little food and still feel fairly good. Also I have been riding pretty knackered recently, so hopefully when I am fresh I should fly!
Swimming was plodding along nicely, and I was getting my feeling back for the water, and times were improving. I also upped the distance to 3.5k so the full swim should be fine, and leave me with plenty left in the tank. My running had a big improvement in mileage, and I was beginning to feel it click. I did my long run after work on the Friday (due to a wedding on the Sat) and again had little food, but felt great. I was running smooth, light footed, and my endurance was good. Unfortunately it went wrong in week 2.
So having had a big week, I decided that having done a weights session in the morning too, that I would do a speed run session in the evening! This was a 20 min run, 10x 1min on, 1 min off, 20 min run. Given that this was the first speed work I had done for a long time, and my legs were knackered, meant that by the last few reps I wasn’t exactly running light-footed! The Newtons don’t offer too much support or cushioning either (deliberately, and this is how I like it), so my feet were slamming into the ground. The end result was some sort of tendon strain in the outside of my left foot between the heel and arch. I couldn’t walk, let alone run, so I didn’t run again the rest of the week!
However, this did allow me to put in a mega bike week. Hitting nearly 450k for the week, including a 230k ride on Sunday really boosted my confidence for the IM. Granted it wasn’t exactly quick, but now I know I can ride 50k over the distance, with tired legs (and having been out the training before, no drinking of course!) puts me in good stead. I just have to wait for the fatigue to lift in my taper so I can push harder.
So totals for the week, 26 and a half hours:
So entering the third week of my ‘supercompensation’ training, and I am beginning to feel it! I had a good massage last week, which cleared out a lot of the knots, but exhaustion is beginning to set in. Part of the problem is a calorie deficit, the weight is dropping off me with all the training, a big part is lack of sleep; I seem to have an inane ability to go to bed late, with training late and working long hours so I have been lacking in sleep lately (hopefully will help correct that tonight!). But the biggest reason is I am putting in more hours than some pros do! I haven’t built up to it gradually, more using the crash training approach, which works for me. Hopefully with my foot on the mend, I can start to ramp up my run training up until Llandudno next weekend, and afterwards I will have a swim week, as this takes the shortest to taper, hopefully with a trip to a lake at some point, one long bike session, and a longish run before I scale it way back to recover. Meanwhile, I am doing the Manchester-to-Blackpool bike ride for a bit of fun with the office. I am mixing it up though, I riding to the start (I live nearish to Blackpool), doing the ride, then riding home! This should give me another big day of cycling, and as this one starts early, hopefully I will have time to run after!
Hopefully will get around to writing a blog before Llandudno as my training scales back!