So yet another long break between posts! Mainly due to the combined incompetence of myself, BT and O2, I know finally have internet in my new house, nearly 2 months after moving in!
It has been a time of ups and downs since the last post. I have had a spate of bad luck. First of all, I got a foot injury about 4 weeks caused by running in my FiveFingers with absolutely dead legs and doing a tempo run. For some reason my leg just didn’t seem to want to work, and 25 minutes in, my foot started slapping against the ground. Being and our and back run, only way home was to run, so 25 minutes later, I hobbled home with a foot strain. This now appears to be a 6 monthly occurrence as I had one the exact same time, this time last year! Though that one was from standing on a plug… With 6 weeks to prepare for an ultra-marathon, it wasn’t exactly the best preparation!
The other bit of bad luck was a bike crash. As part of my training regime (more later) I was out with University Of Manchester Cycling Club and there was a touch of wheels in the group, someone went down in front of me, and I went over the top. Thankfully, I escaped with only a bit of road rash, but unfortunately my beloved Specialized didn’t fare so well, with a crack straight through my downtube:
I am looking at getting this repaired, and hopefully I can, but in the meantime, it means I am training on my old commuting bike, which is proving to be a great winter trainer, as it is bombproof, as also weighs a ton!
Tour of the Peak
So last weekend I set off in the dark, and freezing cold to take part in the Tour of the Peak, which I did last year. However, with my ultra less than a week away, I opted to go for the short version, as I know how I felt at the end of the long one last year! I had a great ride, and really showed my improvement on the bike from 3 big rides a week. I rode constantly within myself, didn’t walk (and that was TOUGH lugging the brute of the commuter bike up Winnats Pass!) and had an enjoyable day. I finished in 4:45, which put me 36th out of 350! Not bad for a rusty bike! It was also nice to do a sponsored ride, as I enjoyed stuffing my face with Soreen at the food stop, and finished the ride with more gels than I started the race with!
Despite my foot injury, training of late has been great, and I am really enjoying being back in Manchester. Despite being the off-season, I am putting in consistent big weeks, and feeling fine for it. My weight is also much better than it has ever been at this time in the season, which is encouraging. In cycling and swimming, I am surrounding myself with better people so I have to up my game. I have joined the Uni Cycling Club, which gives me 2 hard rides a week on Wednesday and Saturday, which generally involves smashing each other for a few hours, and I am seeing the benefits of another year in my legs. Average speed and endurance are all up, and the amount I eat on rides is all down! I also ride with the Tri Club on Sundays, which is more controlled and a chain gang effort, giving me the option of having another hard ride, or switching to a recovery ride.
If you include commuting, I haven’t had a day off the bike since sometime in September! Thankfully I feel fine, and am just enjoying being back in training.
In swimming, I am enjoying being back in squad swims, which really forced me to sort out my technique and up my game from a year of plodding up and down the local leisure centre. Whilst there is still a lot of work to do on my stroke, yesterday I got 500m into the set before I was told to move up a lane. This now puts me in the same lane as the winner of the Outlaw and in the lane next to people who were basically born into a pool and professional triathletes! I have basically as many swims a week as I want, and will put in an endurance set once I switch back to triathlon training after my ultra, which should see me go close, if not under the hour for Roth.
Despite the fact, I have the Pembrokeshire Coastal Challenge in 3 days now, my run training hasn’t been as much as I would have liked. I did however manage nearly 2 hours, half off-road yesterday, so I am confident my foot will hold together. With being used to 2 hard, consecutive days on the bike now, I know my legs recover fairly well, so maybe there is hope after all! I will put another post up just before, outlying training, aims and kit.
So…. only a week late! But never mind
So last Friday, I traped off to the middle of the Peak District with around 30 others from Man Tri to get a good weekend of training in. When we arrived, it was a 30 min run to loosen the legs up from the long journey and I felt pretty good! In the evening we all went to the only pub in the village and enjoyed some decent home cooked food – which for me and a couple of others also involved eating our body weight in the most amazing chocolate cake known to man! Despite the grossly huge number of calories I’m sure were in there, we would need it for the day to come.
Saturday morning was an early start before the big ride of the weekend. We all set off in one big group, and then as soon as we hit the first main climb, I worked my way up to the front group just as the hammer was dropped and we blasted up to the top. The legs were feeling ok, considering I had only been on a bike for 20 mins a couple of days before since the Fred Whitton. After the next big climb when we split the group for the 2nd time, maps were passed around and then it was hammer time again! Going up an A road, a group of about 8 of us took an early turning and ended up getting lost – a sign of things to come! We picked up Anne who had dropped her chain on a climb and towed her to the first town, when we dropped her off after some amazing descents and then headed off.
The roads were pretty good and my legs started to come through, doing some big turns on the front and just enjoying group riding again. I have to say I am being spoilt for choice with my riding lately, with the Lakes the week before and the Peaks this weekend! It was an interesting ride as well, with a few ‘Closed Road’ signs which we decided to go through anyway. In the end, we got to practise a bit of cyclocross, carrying our bikes through building sites, dug up roads and tutting builders, but it was good fun especially as we ended up attacking each other pretty much every hill, especially me and Harsh.
After a few hours, a couple of guys decided they had had enough of our hill antics and took a shortcut home. We pressed on, and ended up in a farm, wondering where the hell we were! The roads were pretty small and we had to have a few map checks with some walkers to get us on the right track, but we decided to go off the route and find some decent roads as it was too slow going. On the final climb home, Harsh did his usual thing of starting an attack and waiting for me to jump and hammer it up to the top while he sat up and either enjoyed a tow or watched me suffer! We blew the group apart again, and it took a while to regroup, but I managed to keep my nutrition under control, which I was pleased with. We ended up doing about 6 hours (4hr 20 ride time) and 110k, and although I was tired, I didn’t blow at all thankfully. My saddle sore, which I picked up at the Fred Whitton (hence why no time on the bike on the week) however was not amused with 6 hours on the bike and was extremely sore!
When we got back, I went for a short run again. However, where we were, you either went left and down a massive hill, or right and up a massive hill… I opted for right and had a look for some trails. Finding one trail, I followed it for about 50m, until it went seemingly directly upwards! Deciding to stick to the roads I bashed out half an hour, though I don’t recommend an entire malt loaf in between a brick session! My stomach was not happy.
As soon as I got back, I had to quickly grab my swim kit, as it was off for a group swim. Having been told that it was a very warm pool, despite it being outside, I left my wetsuit back at the accommodation. We got to the pool to see a notice of “Apologies but the pool heater is broken so it may be a little cold!” – annoying as I was hoping to get some wetsuit practise in before my half IM! Anyway, it was freezing! We soon warmed up and set off with some IM style main sets, would have been interesting to see my butterfly! It was also quite amusing seeing people sporadically jumping out of the pool with cramp, knowing that it would hit us all soon. Amazingly however, it never came for me! I got one little twinge in my quad in a butterfly set but that was it. I was also pleased with seeing that my swimming was not as bad as I thought, both having it looked at by our resident professional triathlete Jacqui, and where I was swimming in the squad.
After a much better sleep (despite ending up sticking to the plastic mattress) it was another early start for Sunday to fit everything in before everyone left at lunch. After spending a good 10 mins trying to find someway I could sit on my bike and with copious amounts of chamois cream applied, we set off for a few hours on the bike, though this was a much more leisurely pace until we hit Winnats Pass. Thankfully my legs weren’t too bad from the day before and I was first up to the top, which was reassuring. After a cafe stop and having an incredible bacon and sausage sandwich, things heated up on the way back and the pace shot up. However, after about 10 mins, my front derailleur decided to twist round and jam itself into my crank. Thankfully there was no major damage, and I managed to fix it roadside. One guy stopped and we headed off back home, but I got us lost (again) so it was back to the map to try and plot a route home. Having decided that my phone would give us the best route home, we followed it, only to discover the road was closed for a half marathon! We picked up a group of girls and headed home with them, another ‘scenic routes’ which gave us a good 3 hours on the bike again. A few of us set out for a run after, and I stayed out to do my first hour long brick run outside of training ever I think! Legs were pretty dead to begin with, but I got a bit stronger towards the end, though the hills really didn’t help!
In total, I clocked up a good 12 hours of training, which was great! An awesome weekend, with some great people, and it was so nice to be back to squad training again, just helps you push that little bit harder. One thing I did notice, was yet again my diet went to pot. I was consuming too much junk food and it has shown this week in an extended recovery time. I need to work on getting enough calories in when I do big bouts of training, but keep some of the goodness in there.
This week has seen me struggling to recover from 2 hard weeks (and a weekend of junk food!). My running has taken a hit, and through various reasons (including an exploding oven!) I didn’t get any long runs in during the week. On Wednesday, Mike and I went out for a long bike to scout Le Terrier, and my legs just didn’t want to play ball, especially on the climbs. To be fair we did clock up 87k of riding and 2000m of climbing (which is half the Fred Whitton! Not bad given I had done an interval swim in the morning and a full days work!) but I didn’t have the top end power. An easy day on Thursday and Friday has given my legs time to recover, and today I had my first 2 hour run in an absolute age! With the incredible weather, it was a hot one, and I lasted about 90 mins of feeling good until I started to die from lack of fuel and dehydration, but I still clocked up 23.5k, so can’t complain! I will get a long bike in tomorrow, with a brick run, then another long bike on Tuesday before my taper begins for the Beaver in 7 days!!
Finally, I appear to have been sucked deeper and deeper into the ultra-endurance world, and am currently planning some other crazy events. Will keep you posted
So with this year having the focus on actually doing an Ironman properly, I have made a few changes to the training plan as I have gone along. The first of these was to drop Lymm Triathlon from the schedule, which was mainly due to the fact that I had missed 2 weeks of training and needed to log miles in my legs to prepare for the Fred, and smashing myself on a sprint the week before probably wouldn’t have had the best effect!
With the Fred out of the way, I have moved into concentrating on my running this week, running every day (except yesterday) and gradually increasing the length of each session. With the switch to the Newtons, I was told to expect lots of calf and foot pain as I adapted to running ‘properly’ but I haven’t had a single twinge at all! Personally I put this down to doing all my athletics at school barefoot on a grass track and wearing flimsy flip flops throughout the year, when it really probably isn’t sensible to! Looking at the tread pattern on the bottom of them, I’m pleased to see that there is hardly any wear on the heels, and most of it is on the midfoot lugs, which means that my technique is getting to where it should be, though I need a lot more miles before it really begins to flow.
With the Beaver Half distance coming up in two weeks, the focus is getting myself back into decent long distance shape. The Fred Whitton, and all the training for it has really helped pick up my bike shape, though I need more endurance work of this to last the full IM and still have good legs after. So I have entered Le Terrier and planning lots of big rides to get used to riding long.
My running is going well, and I just need to get myself into decent half marathon shape for the Beaver, so it will be a big week next week, which a couple of 2 hour runs. Finally swimming is going well, and I am feeling good in the water. I need a bit of speed work to pick it back up after the break, and then to just get used to the distance, by increasing the distances to 4k, and a couple of 4k swims!
So it is 10 weeks to go until the big day this weekend!!! I am geting ready, by heading off to the Peaks for a training weekend later today, which will consist of 3 runs, 2 long bikes, a swim and a core session. Then I have a two week period to get myself ready for my (first ever!) middle distance race, then the usual 5 week build, 3 week taper. Just need to put a training plan together to work out how to fit 25+ hours in a week!
Hope training is going well,
Well it is finally over. After one very long and fantastic week, the 24 of us from Man Tri found ourselves crammed back on a flight home. It was a brilliant camp and thoroughly recommended. It was really nice to have people to train with, to be able to train on decent roads, to have some proper training weather!
My totals for the week were:
- Swim – 11.7k
- Bike – 386.57l
- Run – 57.1k
- Total Time – 27 hours 28 minutes
As you can see, there were some good miles put in, and there was also a lot of intensity that the totals don’t show. A well as the tough rides on the bike thanks to the hills and wind, there were the races, which despite all good intentions all turned out to be full on. It was only the half marathon that I managed to hold back a bit, but even then I was pushing hard.
Obviously the number of hours that I put in was the biggest thing that I was pleased with. I lasted the whole week, only have to cut short one ride due to a niggle. Starting the camp the way I did, (i.e. with very little decent fitness) I was pleased that my body came through the way I expected. I really came into form throughout the week and just got fitter and fitter. I really felt like I could have continued longer than the week, though there were signs of exhaustion rearing their heads.
My swimming came on well, and I really found my feel back in the water, something that I have been lacking for a long time. It was also nice to get some time in wearing my wetsuit, and getting used to it again. Though I do fear that I may need to trade mine in as I have bulked up a bit and it is getting a bit tight around the shoulders, causing premature exhaustion. I also managed to get some good tips, so I have some nice pointers as to where to take my swimming. The main thing is to make sure I extend straight with my arms before the catch, and to keep a high elbow so I don’t slap my forearms on the water, which I have been doing apparently. The facilities there are incredible. As well as the lagoon where you can just jump in a nice large body of water to get some open water swimming in, there is a 50m olympic pool:
The bike was good. I clocked up more volume in a week than I usually do in a month, and with around 25,000 feet of climbing, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. Lanzarote is incredible for cycling, with some incredible places to ride. We did most of the IM Bike route with all the major climbs, and it was amazing. One major difference I noticed was the reception from other roads users. Whereas over here, you generally tend to get a honk, two fingers and some abuse, over there you get a honk, cheer and some encouragement! Training with a group again really made a difference, and a lot easier to get out and beast myself with some good attacks and competition. My cycling really on, to the point where on the last day I managed to put in a good tt effort to pull away from the pack on the last ride, after the mini-tri and still felt that I could have done a lot longer.
My running was looking a bit sparse when I put the training pan together, but I still managed a good block of running, and I am feeling a lot more fluid in my running again, much like my swimming. Being able to run every day really allowed it to come on as I ran myself back into fitness. The track session and races allowed some good speed work that with more, will help improve my speed.
Another big bonus was managing to swim, bike and run all the main days, although the totals were slightly lower than I had hoped. Being able to do this every day gave me the biggest improvements.
Without name dropping, the number of top pros we saw there was really inspiring, and really helped motivate the training.
Ok, maybe disappointments is a little strong, but there were a couple of things that if I did the camp again I would change.
The first of these is the swim. I didn’t manage to get a long swim done, and I probably should have done one day. The last day was also a bit of a let down. Although it was great to get out on the last night, it did mean that I didn’t do any training on the last day.
My diet went to pot. Admittedly, with all the training I was doing, I needed my carbs. But 3 lots of ice cream a day towards the end was a bit excessive. I also noticed that I really wasn’t getting enough protein in, with was hampering my recovery, so will need to look at this for the future. Nutrients were lacking a lot as well. Although this doesn’t matter for a week, if I was to keep this up, I would need to get them in for it to be sustainable.
With my current fitness levels, there was no way for me to get the gym and yoga in and still train. If I went again, it would hopefully be with a higher level of fitness that would allow me to sustain this. Missing out on the gym, not just over camp has meant that my knee has weakened, so after the half marathon, the old hamstring/back of the knee injury flared up again. I managed to keep it under control, but if I kept up my exercises and stretches, I think this would have been stopped.
Overall though, it was fantastic. It’s just a shame I am in Russia for the Malaga camp, otherwise I would be straight on that! For now, I am back to potholes, training alone, and bad weather. Boo.
PS You should be able to view all my photos from camp on my Facebook page (even if you don’t have it)
Wow hard to believe it’s been 5 days out here now (well 4 proper ones). I woke this morning with some very stiff legs! But it was an early start for a short duathlon, which was only 2.5k, 15k, 2.5k. It was interesting, being my first duathlon. But as far as I can work out, your legs get tired quicker, and you aren’t wet for half the thing! I set of quite hard to try and wake the legs up and they felt ok, but I soon faded. I held a reasonable pace, running off a couple of people until we hit T1. A quick transition and I raced out, pegging it down the hill with the wind behind me at about 65k! I put the aero bars on this morning for this reason! However as soon as we hit the first hill into Tiajo my legs went, and it was a slog all the way til the turn around. Thankfully the rest of the ride was pretty much downhill, but into the wind, so I could just tuck up and keep the legs spinning. The 2nd run was a lot better. I got passed soon after T2 by a guy from my club, and just ran on his shoulder until the turn around point and kicked and dropped him. I felt pretty good here and the legs seem to be coping.
There was a aquathlon a couple of hours later that I was quite tempted by, but we went to the Wellness Centre after the race for a bit of cold/hot water treatment (ow!!) and some relaxing. By the time I had got out the centre, I was so relaxed I couldn’t even walk up the stairs, so I got an ice cream and went for a nap!
In the afternoon a few of us went out for a easy spin around Tiajo, and had fun battling with the wind, but I am finding that now I am fitter, active recovery really helps, if you have the time to do it. We did a nice 25k in just under an hour despite being blown to the other side of the road at points!
After this, we had the most important event of camp… The Man Tri Crazy Golf Championship! It was nice to take the mind off training for a bit, and just relax, though I have to say I think it isn’t really my sport!
Finally we had another swim set this evening. I am really noticing the difference that swimming every day makes, and find I am much more comfortable in the water, despite the fact I am pretty tired. I wore the wetsuit for the most part, but think I may need a new one if I don’t drop the new shoulder weight soon, as I am getting tired just doing 100m in it! I had a bit of stroke work done, and have a nice couple of things to work on for the coming swims, mainly keeping a high elbow so I don’t slap my forearm entering the water, and pushing my arms out more to the side when I extend.
All in all, a good and easyish day. I worked out earlier that I have clocked up over 21 hours in the 5 days! And I am certainly feeling better! My only gripe is the weather! It’s been cloudy the last couple of days, I need to top the tan up!