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!