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!
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.