Sunday, 3 March 2019

A bit of racing

Time check before it all got rather hard
This is the third time that I’ve raced the Sporting 14 in the last 4 years and it’s been my first event of the season.  On paper, it looks relatively easy with two laps and no major hills to climb, but it is quite frankly, brutal. The start at the bottom of Hungry Hill looks benign enough and as it stretches out before you, calling it a hill seems ridiculous, particularly on the first lap, but after a minute or two I’m usually completely anaerobic with snot and spit pouring from every facial orofice as I desperately try to get more oxygen in.  It just goes on and on and on, slowly sapping speed all the way up. Even worse, there’s a small flat section in the middle which lulls you into a false sense of security, letting you grab a brief respite before the interminable climb starts again.

After the first time up I thought I’d nailed it and felt pretty good, despite the really poor road conditions and cold temperature. My breathing settled as I took the second left to start the long descent back to the start. The second time along Hungry Hill was turgid; particularly at the bottom and despite moving pretty slowly I was absolutely at my limit. Gradually I got into a bit of a rhythm but I felt very rugged going up. The last, bumpy descent merely prolonged the agony and although it was the fastest time that I've ridden the course, it was only a handful of seconds.

This was in stark contrast to the following Sunday, when I ran the Quicksilver Hampton Course Half Marathon. Over the last month I'd managed to get a couple of long runs done that were in double digits for the first time in 6 months or so and I was eally excited about running uninjured and pinning a number on. I wasn't sure what my  speed endurance would be like but I thought something around 1:30 was possible, so I settled myself 50 metres or so behind the 1:30 pacer and sat in. The first half went by quickly and comfortably and I gradually reeled in the pacers, until I was literally tucked in behind them. I should have stayed with them but I thought I'd push on a bit as I was feeling so good. Big mistake! Within a mile I was blowing hard and after being with a nice group being sheltered, I was now out on my own into a stiff headwind heading back to the finish. I was really hanging on over the last couple of miles but I kept my pace constant despite a big increase in RPE, but I was delighted with 1:28:56.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Spare ribs

This week's been a recovery week and I had 8 hours of training planned. All was well until Thursday evening and a small spill on my bike on the way home. Nothing major but I've ended up with some bruised ribs that's making running and swimming very difficult / impossible. This next week was going to be a bigger volume week but I am now taking it a bit more gingerly and will be focussing on my Trainerroad sessions at the gym. I was just starting to feel that my running was actually progressing so I'm quite frustrated, but hey, these things happen. I can still get some good training done even if I have to put two of the three disciplined on hold. I'm hopeful that I should be ok for the Hampton Court half in two weeks' time. Before then, it's the Wheelers Sporting 14 TT where I hope to do quite a bit better than last year. I don't think I could have done much worse.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Early mornings

So far, they’re going well, but it only has been a few weeks. It’s been great for my state of mind to not have to worry about getting something done in the evening, which means I’ve been more relaxed when I've got home from work, trying to figure out how to work training around the family. I’m also sleeping better because I’m more tired in the evening, but normal tired, as opposed to being wired up and fatigued at the same time. I was a bit blown away at the start by the sheer number of peole in the gym at silly o' clock; I thought it would just be me

My main issue has been the first turbo session on the wattbike last Tuesday. I managed to plan it that I would start a new TrainerRoad plan in the new year, which means a ramp test. Somewhere and somehow I managed to lose 30 watts, which is a hell of a lot. I think a perfect storm of being underfuelled, a slightly different poition on a quickly set up bike and just not enough htfu. Jump to this morning's 3x sweetspot session and it just felt far too easy, which shows that I got the test wrong. I had already bumped up  my ftp by 10 watts after the test, so it looks like it's worth pushing it another 10-15 watts and see how the sessions are.

I've managed to not injure my feet, so far.  however my back is extremely achy so I've been doing some gentle core work but it's a bit too late really. It's ok during a session but getting up in the morning and my general movement it not great. I should know by now that you ignore your core at your peril. I must do better here and devote some time to it.

Simon has been a star and lent me a pair of Zipp 808 clinchers to put on my Argon.  It’s finally come off the turbo so the plan is to keep it off and use if for training at the weekends on my longer rides and when the TT season starts. We went out for another ride down the A24 yesterday and it wasn’t particularly fast but it was good to be back on the Argon as Simon disappeared up the road. This is situation normal at the moment but hopefully I can start to reel him in as we head towards the Spring.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Process Goals

New Year brings with it a flurry of resolutions, targets and goals. I have made the classic mistake of having a goal outcome for Ironman Switzerland which is time based. I might as well share that with you now, although I had blogged about it before and that's a sub 11 time. Sub 10 is seen as being the kind of gold standard for a good age-group athlete, with sub 11 being a more modest but yet tough goal for most of the rest of us. It's one of those things that once you have a goal like this in mind it's really difficult to un-think it, but that's what I'm trying to do.

What if it's a non-westsuit swim, like last year? What if it's 35 degrees? What if I get a mechanical? What if I'm injured in the run-up to the race? There are plenty of other scenarios which could conspire to make it very difficult or even impossible for me to attain this goal and what if I have an amazing race and end up finishing in 11:00:01, is that failure? If I use this rather arbitrary and subjective time goal, then probably yes. Does anyone else on the planet really care if I do 10:59:59 compared to 11:00:01? The only person this will make any difference to will be me, so really, why worry or even bother with a time goal? Why not just hit the process as well as possible and see what that leads to? So I've used this new year with its enforced new beginnings to refocus on my process and defining what success will mean in those terms, rather than a time some point in the future. So here are my process goals for the next six months;

1. Eat right. I've tipped the scales in the new year at 76.6kg, which, for me, is pretty heavy. I've got a few hilly time trials coming up, a couple of half marathons and then the big one, which has a couple of tasty hills in the bike course. Some weight loss will make all of this a lot easier and is genuine free speed. I'm like a labrador, in that I'm a very greedy, quick eater. I just eat, really quickly, so I'm often on my second plate of food before the first one has hardly hit my stomach, so I overeat and then feel really full and bloated. So my process goal here is to eat much more slowly, eat consciously, i.e. be aware of what I'm eating and don't have seconds. I've cut out crisps and other crap and I aim to eat a lot more fruit and vegetables. With my IM training this should help a few kilos come off, ideally down to around 72kg, which for me, is a healthy weight. I was also reminded of the need to eat right when I did a turbo session last week and had to bail after 15 minutes.

2. Change the time when I train. Wheezy Junior is taking his GCSE exams this summer and as a teacher, this is usually my really busy time too and I want to be around in the evenings to support Junior and do my own work. I have traditionally trained in the evening as I have warmed up and don't mind burning the midnight oil to get the sessions done, but for the foreseeable future this is going to be much more difficult. Therefore I need to move my training sessions to the mornings. This is going to be a really big change for me because I'm a night owl rather than an early bird and I'm going to have to go to bed earlier, ideally by 10pm at the latest. While my turbo has been set up in the shed, it's a really uninviting environment to train in, particularly on a very cold winter's morning. Instead I will be cycling straight to the gym and will do a pool session or get on the wattbike (I've found I can sync my Trainrerroad sessions to the wattbike so I can still use my TR account; result). this means that I will be training once a day and during the working week if I haven't got my session done in the morning, then it's very unlikely to get done. I feel a lot more happy with this, to keep the family wheels turning smoothly over the next few stressful months.

3. Be consistent. I'm nailing this one already, but my basic goal for consistency is 2 sessions per week in each discipline, ensuring that I get my long bike and long run in every week (although currently, my long run isn't very, err, long)

4. Be triathlon focused. I get bored and distracted really easily which means when I have a longer term goal, I can very quickly find myself doing things that are not going to help, so I will need to keep my eye on the prize. I have already broken this one a little bit by entering LWL and WCW, but as long as I treat them as fun days out to get plently of base miles then they will work. A casualty of this goal is going to be my club Sunday ride with KPRC. Over the last few months I've really enjoyed the companionship and banter of the Sunday group, but I'm going to need to do some really hard and long miles in the next 5 months if I am to pace the bike leg well and run even better at the end. That started yesterday with a 65 mile smashfest,  trying to keep Simon and Dale in sight as we hurtled down the A24 and back. Simon was on his beautiful Canyon Speedmax TT bike, cruising easily at 20mph, and Dale, well, he's just Dale, pumping out a stupid amount of watts almost effortlessly. I was turning myself inside out while my mudguards clattered against the Van Nic's frame, chewing my stem to get as aero as possible. I ended up doing 65 miles at around 18mph, so a very useful ride, but I think it's time to get the Argon out of the shed and start getting some proper TT miles under my belt.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

It’s not all about the bike

It has been for the last few years but I’m gradually adapting to integrating swim and run into my week. Ok, the running has been extremely sporadic but I’ve got myself some orthotics which after a trial 5km run yesterday, seemed to make a difference. Only time will tell, but I don’t mind admitting being very frustrated with not being able to start the process of laying a run base. I’ve still got over 6 months and a lot of training time so I don’t need to stress, but I do want to make my run training the main focus for the early part of the year with the two Hampton Court half marathons booked in. I’m not going to do any speedwork for a while until I’ve got my legs a little bit more resilient, so it's a lot of very steady running on flat grass. EVERYTHING aches when I run at the moment, despite me taking these measures so I'm going to really try to make an effort with some core, strengthening and stretching work.

I’ve managed to keep my swim training going. Things are fine but I am very one paced. I’ve been reticent to do the hard CSS reps that I need to do to get faster, focussing on drills and aerobic endurance work, but at some point I’ve got to feel the hurt and get these sessions done. Yesterday's CSS set went better than planned although the first 5 lots of 100 felt dire, but the next two blocks felt a lot more comfortable and I was ablt to keep the reps at around 1:45 off of 2-2.05 minutes. I still get strange looks from the grey brigade who do their wierd backstrock/breaststtroke combo while I'm bent double at the end of the pool trying not to puke. It's not a good look.

On the bike, it's mainly been 1hr Trainerroad sessions, usually short VO2 reps or aerobic endurance spinning sessions. I don't think I'm making great strides in improving my ftp, but maintaining what I have built up over the year. While the average number of hours that I am doing has fallen from 12 to around 8, the addition of the swim and run stuff has added a lot of  training stress that I'm having to absorb.

Anyway, it's been a good year. I've loved the audax in the first part of the year and with LWL and Windsor- Chester-Windsor booked for next season, I'm looking forward to actually completing a SR series.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Swanning about

You lookin' at me?
No one ever said that it would be easy. Trying to balance family, work and then triathlon training can be pretty miserable sometimes. The last few weeks have been really hard, as things ramp up to Christmas but at the same time myself, Mrs W, Wheezy Junior and Little Wheezy have all had a lot of extra-curricular stuff going on. Birthdays, squash matches (x4, including a competition in Brighton), dance shows, ballet rehearsals, trips and nights out with friends and then homework, planning, life admin; it's been a bit bonkers. The good thing about getting a bit older is that it's easier for me to put things into perspective and not get too worried about missing sessions here and there. I know that I should be aiming to complete 100% but I don't get frustrated like I used to. It is just a hobby. So last week I managed to do 6.5hrs training as 2 swims, 3 bikes (1 on the turbo) and a bit of commuting. All in all, a pretty reasonable return on what was a very difficult week.

So this weekend I spent most of it pretty slaughtered with a few close friends and a stuffed swan and didn't worry one jot about missing my long bike ride. By Sunday evening I had sobered up enough to do a few kms in the pool, doing my first long endurance set of the winter. Not particularly fast but I'm starting to feel a bit more grip for the water and spent most of the hour trying to get my forearm paddle working.

The fly in the ointment is my foot, which is still grumbling away. It's only 11 weeks until my first half marathon and I really need to get back on my running feet soon, If I'm to make it to the start line. It's a really long way away to IMCH, but if I'm to run quick off the bike I need to start running quick. I'm sure it will be fine but I'm itching to get going again.

Aiming for another 10 hour week this week as 3 swims and 4 bikes. Should be fine.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Coming out the other side

It’s been three weeks of mayhem. Work was completely nuts with 10 days or so of 15 hour days, while simultaneously trying to fight off the cold which had taken hold.  The double whammy made it easy to walk away from any training and I felt much better for making that decision than trying to do bits here and there which just wouldn’t amount to very much. I’m still feeling pretty tired but I’m gradually getting my energy back and this week has seen me start to get back to some base training with a bit of turbo and and some swimming.

I’ve had some great news and a few friends are coming out to race IMCH too, so we’ll have a bit of a posse which is just great. I’m really glad that everything’s back to normal and I can get out on my bike. It feels like it’s been too long.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The results are in

Nom nom nom.
No running again this week, with a beautifully formed bruise on the top of my foot where it looks like I've strained a tendon or some such. I've progressed from hobbling in pain to being able to walk normally, which I suppose is an improvement, but I'm still waitnig to hear back from a physio to see if there is anything else I can do, although I think some carefully placed plasazote under the balls of my feet will be in order to get my foot in the correct shape.

While that's been going on I have used this week to do an ftp test on Trainerroad and a critical swim speed test in the pool. Both results were really encouraging. On the turbo I was able to push out 275W ftp, which is a power pb, just. Bearing in mind that I had been ill the proceeding 2 weeks and that I had not done any focussed and consistent turbo work this was pretty good. I was expecting a 10-15watt loss, so this bodes well for the rest of the winter. In the pool I absolutely rinsed myself over the 400 and 200 metre tts. I completed the 400 in 7:09 and the 200 was in 3:31, which gives a CSS value of 1:49/100m. This might be a little low as I was holding 1:45s in my 100 repeat sets last week, and probably indicates that I need more endurance as I progress over the next few months.

Other than that it was 3 turbo sessions, finishing off with an hour yesterday afternoon. All good, except it left me in pieces for today's ride out with Simon; 3 hours of barely being able to turn the cranks whenever the road even slightly went uphill. It was pretty rugged, but the rain held off and there was the best cheese on toast in the world, so it wasn't all bad. The next couple of weeks are going to be really hard to fit sessions in, as work and home is particularly busy this month, but hey, no one said it would be easy.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Testing Times

Despite a few more coughing fits I've been able to string 9.5hrs training last week. A couple of good things. Firstly I did a couple of swims and the second one was 15x100m off 2:10, but each rep was done between 1:42 and 1:45, considerably quicker than I had expected. I was blowing really hard at the end but it was a lot more comfortable than it should be with so little swim training this year. This is really encouraging and gived me a useful vase to work from, although this week I will be doing a Critical Swim Speed test this week so that I can structure things even more.

The not so good. I ran Bushy Parkrun on Saturday which was my first run in two weeks. A steady 5km warmup and then I did the parkrun by starting near the back and running through the field to record 21:18, with every mile progressively faster. It felt really good to be running again and I felt really relaxed and comfortable with no twinges. All good until a couple of hours later and my foot started to get sore again. It's vexing that this is happening again so I'm going to get advice from a physio again and see if I can get some proper treatment. Being so far out from IMCH, it's relatively easy to keep a positive mental attitude but there's no doubt that as things gradually get closer to July, if I'm not running consistently then this is going to be hard to maintain.

So after a month or so of relatively unstructured training it's time to get things back on track. The first thing is to start a new TrainerRoad plan, following the full distance triathlon base medium volume plan which is 3-4 turbo sessions and a weekend ride and to also ensure that I'm doing at least 2 swims per week. Three would be better.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Nothing to see here

Nice buns
A very low intensity turbo session and a commute ride home was the sum total of last week. Lots and lots of coughing though. I was meant to be riding a 200km audax yesterday to round off my 'Super Randonneur' series for the year, but I just didn't have it in me. Instead, Simon towed me to Windsor and back for a cinnamon bun and coffee. Despite the 4 sets of temporary traffic lights, which we went through 8 times, it was an easy, low stress ride, despite me being bent over the bars, coughing my lungs up on a couple of occasions. The 200km ride will have to wait for another week or two.

I'm feeling a bit better today, so a very easy swim tonight and I'll try to do a short run tomorrow, to see if the foot has healed up. Being injured and ill really is very, very dull.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Double whammy

If you regularly use a turbo, you’ll understand. 
It’s been a quiet week. Only 4.30hrs of anything that would constitute training. I have not run all week, with my foot gradually getting better as the week has gone on.  Unfortunately as the week went on I was also feeling more and more ropey until a full on cold developed yesterday. To be honest, I’m not surprised as work has been mental and my sleep has been really poor. Luckily I only have another week to get through until a two week break, so while this week has been very quiet and next week will probably be similar, as it’s my first cold in a very long time I’m not too down about it. I might as well get my autumn injury and illness out of the way in one hit.

So what did I accomplish? I’m starting to get back into the groove on the turbo. The TrainerRoad sessions are usually hard and take a lot of mental strength to get through, and often, even to start. It’s about getting the right mindset to walk into the wattage cottage when my bed is often a much more attractive option. As I’ve felt ropey, the three sessions this week have been gentle, aerobic ones at 65% ftp, but staying on the tt bars, catching up on a few podcasts. Depending on how this cold develops, next week will probably be much the same. Full on VO2 max sets or threshold work would be counterproductive and will have to wait for another week. There’s no rush.

I swam on Tuesday night and it felt like I was swimming in jam. I guess this was the first indication that I was not feeling right but at the time it just felt really hard going even though I was only doing short 50m and 100m drills. Hopefully I can get another 2 swims in this week, but only if I have a miraculous recovery, which with my past history of colds is highly unlikely. In the meantime I have had to make do with watching the coverage from Kona over the weekend. It’s helped to keep my mojo up while real life has got in the way.

40 weeks to go.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Hero to zero

Inadvertently, this week became a run week. 5 runs, with 4 of them being run commuting to and from work. I was very tired at the start of the week and was feeling the effects of the 12 hour week that had just gone. Monday was a much needed rest day and for whatever reason I just didn’t have the mojo to get on the turbo, I think because my legs felt really fried. While my runs were always slow to start I found that within 20 minutes I was running freely and comfortably.

I had decided to go back to Kingston Parkrun yesterday, for two reasons. Firstly it was the 14th anniversary of Parkrun so I wanted to get along and support, but also it was 8 weeks or so since my last one and I wanted to use it as a test for how my running is progressing. After an easy, slow warmup I went out pretty hard in the first couple of kms. I normally like to build through the run but this time I was blowing quite hard from the off. As a result the middle part was quite slow as I found myself a little alone, trying to chase down a small group in front. I eventually caught them and ran through and was really working hard by the time I got to a km to go. With a couple of hundred meters three of them came back last me and I let them go; I’m too old to sprint these days! Anyway, 16th and first in my age group and a comeback pb of 19:27. Cool! It was lovely to celebrate with some prosecco with friends afterwards. A very civilised way of conducting Parkrun!

It was in the evening that my hamstring and foot began to tighten and I knew I was going to get another attack of my foot problem. By this morning I couldn’t bear any weight on it at all, which meant my planned tt had to be canned. I’m frustrated, more at myself for not being a bit more conservative and doing too much. But that said, I’m not going to let myself get down about it.  My run training was going well and All I’ve got to do is deal with the problem and move on.

So next week could well be a turbo and swim week.  Swimming’s still going well with lots of drilling. The best thing is that I have nailed my tumble turns. As it was only me in the pool at one point this week, for a laugh I thought I’d try and tumble turn with the pullbuoy. In the past I’ve found it hard to plant my feet on the wall but with the buoy I had to really focus on this. Within a few lengths I had it nailed and now I don’t know what all the fuss was about. I guess it just clicked.

Anyway, it’s not time to dwell on what I can’t do, but what I can do. Onwards.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Twelve hours: boom!

Weekly summary. 
12 hours 04 mins  

It turned out to be  a surprisingly big week as 12 hours is the average weekly total I want to aim for when it starts getting into the build phase. This was mainly through my Sunday club ride which was 90 minutes longer than planned with a solo harder effort before joining my clubmates for 50 miles.

Swim - 2 sessions. 1:45hrs. Weirdly, my shorter session, 45mins was my endurance set, with the other hour devoted to drills. I'm going to be spending a lot more time devoted to various drills this winter. I really enjoyed the session and felt some benefit pretty much straight away. Lots of focus on a longer reach and pull and a kick set too, which is a real weakness.

This week. Same. in that aiming for 1 drill set and one endurance set. 

Bike - 4 sessions. 2x1hr  Trainerroad turbos, 1:10hr long commute home (very steady), long ride; 4:30hrs.

This week will cut out the long commute home so will be 2x turbo and my Sunday ride. It's meant to be a long TT but it might not fit in with family stuff. Will have to wait and see.

Run - 3 sessions. 2hrs 17. 2x 32min runs (one slow on with 6x2min intervals 2mins rec). 1x long run 8.8miles in 1hr11. Slow but with a fast finish over the last 1.5 miles. I can't remember the last time I ran 3 times in one week. It's been a very long time ago.

This week. x3 runs. Park run / long run (8 miles again) / Steady run to work. 

The plan is another short long run (if you get what I mean) and then I'm going to hit a parkrun hard on Saturday to see where I am. 

So will definitely knock back the training time a little. I don't think I've done too much but I don't think another 12 hour week would be a good idea. I didn't have a rest day this week so I've taken today off and feel much better for it.

Everyone I know is ill so I expect to be struck down with the lurgy soon.