So as I sit behind a desk with the old familiar ache in the legs, it is safe to say that I am slowly getting back into a routine of exercise. The fitness is slowly on the way up, and my weight is slowly on the way down, although my recovery speed has got some catching up to do!
The biggest boost to my training has been finally getting around to replacing my battered commuter bike, which was beyond saving, so that I can cycle into work. This gives me a good hour/hour and a half of riding each day, with a mixture of battling into the winds, easy spinning and a few lumps to get over. Now having a single speed bike, I can’t hide behind an easy gear when the going gets tough, you have to deal with it! Hopefully this will get some strength back in the legs. The prevailing wind also works out quite well for me, as I tend to ride to work into it, and can have a hand getting home if I’m knackered. My feel for the bike is almost back at least.
The other two sports are coming along at a mixed rate. Running is getting back to it, though my technique has gone out the window and I seem determined to hit the ground with my heel with as much force as possible, and I am really having to concentrate on it to stop. I am definitely looking forward to some drills in January! Swimming is ticking along, and the swims I do are starting to feel better. The main problem is now that I am cycling in, I can’t take my swim kit in as well so I swim when I don’t cycle in. Thankfully I have 2 pools close to me, so can go to those in the evenings, and it may even be time to bite the bullet and drag my lazy self out of bed in the morning to get a swim in before work. At least I am slowly getting back into the athlete bed times.
The diet is at least going well. I have completely cut the rubbish out finally, and my treats usually revolve around cereal bars before/after training. Couple this with training again, and in the 3 weeks between ‘weigh-ins’ I have lost 5 kilos! A few kilos more and I will be back into a happy range.
The culmination of all of this was last weekend in Manchester. The Saturday saw me race cross-country in the afternoon, and despite a dismal performance, I had great fun! I was massively off the pace, and well below my usual performance, but really enjoyed it and it was nice racing again. In the evening, I headed down to the velodrome for a Man Tri session, and was completely dead! But a good, solid double session day was perfrect for catapulting me back into training. To top it all off, I cycled home from the station when I got back to London in torrential rain with a big smile on my face.
The last step to getting fully fit will be my winter camp in the new year. I am tagging along with a few of the elite athletes from the club to Kinetic PB in Spain for 11 days of getting hammered! It looks like it is going to turn into a very professional camp, with one of the guys going threatening to bring his video-camera and accupuncture needles, both of which I will hopefully get some use out of! I certainly know my technique needs a lot of work on, in all sports. It should be good fun though, and will be exactly what I need to set up a decent 2012 season.
8 weeks, 111 sessions, 126 hours, 100k swimming, 1500k cycling, 250k running.
Not bad numbers for a return to training. The last 8 weeks has flown by, and all of a sudden I have finished my first 8 week block of training for Roth. I really can’t complain with the consistency I have put in, and have to average over 15 hours a week, week in week out, when I came from a base of around 7 I am pleased with. Whilst I have a fair bit of fatigue built up from all the training I have put in, I am on a completely different level compared to 8 weeks ago in all 3 sports.
The first 4 weeks were good, and the jump of doubling my weekly sessions seemed to work (possibly with some help from Neovite). Swimming was probably the toughest for me as I quickly ramped up my swimming from 5 sessions a week. Consider that this time last year I was on about 2 and it was a shock to me. On the bike and I think I had 3 days off it over the 8 week period (incidentally, those were my 3 rest days too) thanks to all my commuting being done on a bike, and I began to feel strong again on the bike and also get used to riding a TT bike. Running took a bit of a hit when I was struck with a foot niggle at the start of the plan. I had to cut back slightly but I kept it in check and it had a minimal impact overall as I still managed to hit every sessions, though duration was down a fair bit, as evidenced by it being the smallest block of training.
The next 4 weeks began to show my hard work paying off. My run times are massively down on what I was achieving last year and I have knocked a good 10% off my times across the board. A couple of races (10k 38 minutes, 5k 18 minutes) helped show me that despite my little jaunt into the ultra world last year, I do have some speed in my legs and now it is just a case of merging the two to hit a good Ironman run.
My cycling has cemented a good base, and I am close to the shape that I had at the peak of last year already. Club rides always provide a good opportunity to get hammered and, like my running, my speed has increased compared to last year. Although I have yet to get a lot of long rides in, my middle-distance rides are becoming comfortable as I manage to hold good speed and survive on very little food.
Swimming seems to be the only sport where there is no tangiable improvement, as my performances seem to vary wild. I have no doubt that my fitness is a lot better than last year. Lots of squad swims means I am used to hanging on to the back of a lane for dear life and a 4k swim doesn’t feel like too much. However due to the fact that I am consistently swimming hard, and the fact that we are doing lots of speed work at the moment, I have a lot of fatigue and my performances vary from very good to mediocre depending on how tired I am. Yet a few days out of the pool and I feel less fatigued but seem to completely lose my feel for the water. I am hoping that as I continue to get used to the long sessions and as we move more into endurance work I will begin to see some consistent quality swimming. It can be a bit disheartening trying to hold the feet of ITU and elite swimmers sometimes!
Walking the line between pushing myself as hard as I can and avoiding overtraining is always a fun one. Having always been self-coached, I have learnt what works for me, and have learnt when I am pushing too far (though I don’t always listen to this!). The 3 weeks build – 1 week rest seem to work well for me, as I am lucky enough to be able to put in big hours but spend plenty of time recovering.
I will blog about my next block of training soon, and how I plan to approach it. I have got lots of good things to take away from this block and a few lessons too. With 100 days to go til Roth (!!!) I will focus of becoming more race specific and building up some endurance with longer running and cycling. I just hope I can put together as good an 8 weeks block as the last!
Wow, yes it has been a very long time since my last blog post! It has been a busy time, a trip to Russia, sorting out another trip, catching up with friends, work getting busy and an increased training schedule mean that life has been busy! But it is better than being bored!
I suppose now is a good time to be blogging as annoyingly I am ill, so have lost all excuses for not blogging! It appears that a weekend in Manchester catching up with mates, going out, drinking, little sleep and not eating properly now has adverse effects on me! So my body has decided to punish me with an illness. Thankfully at the moment, it is nothing too bad. I managed to bash out a swim this morning and weights, though am switching tonight from a run to an early night. Hopefully this can nip it in the bud and keep it at a sore throat and headache and let me get back to training as soon as possible. I would much rather miss one training session than a few and a race, or not be in decent shape at the first race of the season!
Speaking of races, this weekend means Ribby Hall Triathlon! It has been a long time since I have competed, and am looking forward to testing my form and getting the Zipps out of hibernation! A little bold, but I am going for the win in M20-24 (even though there is no official category), as it is run by the same people as Fleetwood triathlon and should have a similar field. Timewise, close to an hour would be good, as I don’t think I quite have the speed to go under the hour at this point. Could be a good race though, and if there is little wind it will be fast.
Training is going well. Running is slowly starting to increase, and I am feeling fairly comfortable, though need to start getting another run in to get my fluidity back. Hoping to get some Newtons at Easter, so hoping this will help a lot! Cycling and swimming are all going well. Lots of riding in the Lakes has paid dividends, and I am feeling a lot stronger, though need more practise at long rides to get my nutrition and pacing sorted, it was all over the place last 100k+ ride I did, with dire consequences! Swimming is going well too, and is slowly starting to click with some reasonable mileage. My times are certainly down anyway.
One major difference I have noticed is my strength. It appears that all the weight training is beginning to pay off, and I am feeling a lot stronger. Not only am I lifting more in the gym, I am a lot stronger on the bike. I did Hardknott Pass at the weekend, the steepest road in England, and was oh so close to getting up until my back wheel spun out! Not bad for a standard chainset! I will be switching to a compact in a few weeks in preparation or the Fred Whitton, and it will be nice to have to option for either one. Thankfully, the longer runs have kept my weight down, and have reduced my body’s annoying tendency to bulk up at the sight of a dumbell!
The next blog will be a lot sooner (promise!) and will be a (hopefully good!) review of Ribby Hall. Might get my training plans up at some point too!
And so comes to the end the first part of my training. My first 5 week block has ended and now, off to Russia tomorrow for a few days, means that I will rest for the first time in what seems like AGES! Annoyingly I haven’t got my totals on me, but will put them up when I return. But I know that I have logged some big numbers, far bigger than this time last year.
I have shown improvement in all three sports. My swimming ever since camp, has had a massive improvement. Swimming every day on camp really raised my swimming up and I have managed to keep it up there. I did a 2.5k tt this morning on a whim, when I got to the pool yet, and pulled off a 43.30! Baring in mind when I was mega fit and doing tri club swimming before my crash last year, I did a 48.40, I’m pretty happy with a 5 minute pb! With a bit more work, I should be able to get it down to 40 min comfortably, which sets me up nicely for around an hour in the IM with a wetsuit on!
My cycling has strengthened, and I am definitely feeling better on the bike and lasting longer. Lots of work in the Lake District has improved my strength massively, and as soon as I can afford a compact crank, I should be flying up those hills! Running is much the same, and I am feeling really fluid and efficient and just need to work on building up my endurance with some longer runs.
After my rest, it will be much more of the same, more Lakes training, swimming with lots of interval work over 3k, and increasing my run distance. My weights and yoga have really helped keep any niggles under control, but my weights program changes, to start to work at increasing my power. I have another 5 week block before I take a long rest before I start my main build up.
Whilst I am looking forward to finally getting a bit of rest, with 20 weeks to go, I am loving the training and cannot wait to race!
Today was long run day and consisted of the La Santa half marathon, which as I found out is a tough, hilly course with some terrible road surfaces, but great fun! I got up at half 6 and had a nice big bowl of cereal and then promptly went back to bed only to wake up at 7.40, 5 minutes before the start! A quick change and I rushed to the start, just in time to pick up my timing chip.
We set off and I was struggling until the hit the first water stop, which was my first drink fo the day! Still feeling pretty bad, I plodded on catching up with a few people and then more water and I slowly began to feel better and get into a nice rythym. After about 45 minutes I was feeling great and despite the course was doing well with a nice heart rate and good rythym. I had a gel every half an hour, and it wasn’t until the last 5k of the race that I began to feel it. A couple who were running together caught me up and I ran with them for a bit, having a bit of a chat and pushing a bit to keep up. Another gel and some more water and my legs came back. With about 1k to go, I kicked, and did exactly the same as yesterday and dropped the other two to come home in 1:53:18, which I was pretty pleased with given the course and the week! It was also the first time I had worn my compression calf stirrup things, (or gimp socks as they are better known!) and they really worked well. I have been having problems with my right leg for the last day or so, and it has been cramping up and lot and there is one god almighty knot in it that needs sorting out, but I didn’t have any problems during the race.
Unfortunately after the race, my old knee injury starting to rear its head, the same one as my Ironman, and it stiffened up a bit. We had an easy ride planned so I went out on the bike, but it soon turned into a quick pace and I was struggling. At the first stop after 15k, I decided that was it and turned around to head back on my own, and a nice comfortable place to finish with 30k. The knee was ok, but I didn’t want to risk it. It is annoying as well because the ride they did was really good, but I am finding my limits.
A good few hours in bed worked well in the afternoon, and I had another swim this evening, with the wetsuit on, doing a bit of technique work. I only did 1.7k as I want to have the arms reasonably fresh for the triathlon tomorrow. The wetsuit is feeling better, but I think I am going to need a new one.
So we have a sprint triathlon tomorrow, and then a bit more training and then it is all over! I am feeling pretty good actually, and am going to miss it when I leave. I do need a rest though!