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. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Adapting to being a triathlete (again)

This week's training
So last week was superbly busy. A couple of late nights courtesy of work and then Mrs Wheezy's birthday over the weekend meant that I was continually adapting the plan to fit everything in.
However, I didn't quite fit everything in!

Swim - Only the one session. 35 minutes of 100m reps. 1400m in total.
Bike- 2 rides. 1x trainerroad turbo and 1x long ride on Friday night. 3.5hrs total..
Run-2 runs. Both steady. 1x 35 mins, 1x 45mins. 1hr20 total.
Total 6hrs 20

Volume wise, hardly pulling up any trees, but it's quite a big adaptation that I have to get used to. For the last few years it's been all about the bike and that made training easy. With three disciplines to think about, there's more juggling going on. What I am going to do is to give myself key sessions every week that are a must, while others in the plan, although not optional, I will be a little more fluid towards when life gets in the way.

So this week, it's all about the runs. I have 4 planned. I am really enjoying my running at the moment and I look forward to these more than anything. I haven't felt as comfortable and secure in my legs as this for a very, very long time. I've also started to see a little bit of weight come off which should help my cycling power to weight ratio as the winter progresses. The big session will be the long run at the weekend as I have not run for an hour for quite some time. It will be very slow but I will aim to run the last couple of miles at my goal IM run pace.

42 weeks to go.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Failing to plan..

is planning to fail.

I'm usually pretty good at planning, in my professional life, anyway. As triathlon has usually been a hobby I've tended to be a lot more relaxed and taken things as they have come. With Ironman Switzerland being a major focus next year, I need to plan better in order to maximise the time I have available.

To that end, I've signed up to the premium version of Training Peaks. I've used the free version for years, well, before Strava came along. TP will help me generate my annual training plan and help me keep on top of the sessions that I will need to tick off.

Weekly Plan - Preparation
 So this is what a current week looks like. Mondays will stay a rest day as I think it's important I let my body have a break from the inevitable larger amount of work that will be done each weekend. The downside to this is that it means a double training day on Tuesday, but the swim is a shorter, drills focussed one, so should not be too strenuous.

This is an 8 hour week, which is perfect at the moment. As I mentioned in my last post, there's nothing in there that's too demanding, except a couple of early mornings to get the Trainerroad turbo sets done.

I've entered the London-Wales-London audax again; I think it was my favourite event that I did this year and it should be a nice long day out on the bike for a bit of endurance training, but as it's 10 weeks out from IMCH, so it should fit into the plan quite nicely. things are starting to take shape.
Crossing the Severn Bridge. copyright Guardian

Thursday, 13 September 2018


Back in the day when I cheated a lot more
It's been a standing joke on the Tritalk forum for a number of years that any form of swimming as training for a triathlon is cheating. To go for ‘a cheat’ literally means ‘I have swum in a pool or lake in order to be a faster swimmer’.  There’s a consensus amongst a large minority of triathletes that swim training is time wasted. Why spend hours in the pool, when that might only lead to an improvement of say, 10 minutes in an Ironman swim? Those hours are better spent, so the theory goes, on the bike or run where much larger gains can often be found.

I think that there is some truth in this. Last year at The Outlaw, I did 5 swims, total, in the lead up to the race. In fact, I only got into the lake three weeks before the event. I swam 1:15. Compare that to the Forestman where I consistently swam 3 times per week in the preceding months, including an open water swim every week and I ended up swimming 59 minutes. This was a great swim and was well above my expectations at the time, but ultimately it was only 15 minutes better than my Outlaw swim with virtually no training.

It’s hard to compare bike splits in these two events as I’m not really comparing like for like. At the Forestman I was on my road bike with clip-on bars and no aero clothing. At the Outlaw, I was in full TT mode. That said, at the Outlaw I was 25 minutes faster for a much, much lower rpe, as I was in full time trial mode and had three years of consistent time trial training behind me. The fact is that with the bike leg of a triathlon there is a lot of low hanging fruit that can be taken advantage of, if you know where to look.

With swimming, I don’t think it’s as easy. You need time in the pool but you also need coaching.  It is by far the most technical of the three disciplines and requires constant drilling and practice to get right and ingrain good technique.  I was fortunate that I had some really excellent coaching with the Kingfisher Triathletes but as I am no longer a member, I need to be a bit more self aware of my faults. Here’s a few things that I know have been weaknesses in the past;

  • Crossing the centre line with my hands.
  • Head position too high which leads to lowering my hips.
  • Shortening my stroke when I’m fatigued, which leads to not finishing at the back of the stroke. 
  • Weak and unbalanced kick. 
I don’t do all these things all the time! Only some of them, some of the time! I’m not going to cure all of them in one go, but as I alluded to in my last post, they are things that I can work on over the winter with drills to make some improvement, before focussing more on my speed endurance. 

So what does all this mean? Well, as I’m aiming for the best performance possible at Ironman Switzerland I’m going to need to do a lot more cheating. 15 minutes is a big chunk of time to give up if I am to aim for a low 10 hour time next year. I also want to be able to get on the bike after expending as little energy as possible so that I can work at a higher ftp, without already having expended a good deal of energy in the water. 

 On top of that, I enjoy swimming. I think I fell out of love with it a few years ago when I was really struggling with very severe pool sniffles that left me with itchy eyes and throat and a runny nose for days on end. I’ve cured this now (by joining an expensive gym, but hey ho) and I’m confident that I can get back to a sub 62 minute swim over the next 9 months. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Early Doors Ironman Training

At the moment, I'm just trying to establish a regular training routine. Over the last 4 weeks, things have pretty much settled into 2 runs, 2 rides (not including my very short commutes) and 2 swims. I'm going to make a real effort to do my shorter turbo sessions in the morning and get them out of the way, so that I can rest more in the evenings. I have also started to do one of my swims straight after work, again, so it's done and dusted.

I'm going to aim to avoid double training days. At the moment, so far out from IMCH, there is little point as I don't need the volume. I am aiming to be consistent; no big spikes in training, no stupidly big days and no stupidly hard sessions.

I'm excited about the race but I am as excited about the training, which is a good thing. I've  come to realise that I have always enjoyed the process as much as the final outcome and in a wierd way, despite having completed two long course triathlons before and numerous halves, olympics and sprints, this almost feels like a new challenge. The challenge being to get as much out of myself while aiming to maintain as normal a life as possible. I'm aiming to keep an average of 10-12hrs per week which should give me a good balance between doing enough and getting enough rest and sleep.

Swim - At the moment, I am doing a very simple diet of sets. Lots of 100 metre repeats. Usually between 10x100 to 15x100. The 100s are all front crawl, with some drills or some 25 metre sprints. I am doing a pyramid session once a fortnight for a bit more endurance work, but that's it. The aim is simply to keep drilling my technique and getting a feel back for the water.

Bike-So, this is now my best discipline. That's something I would not have said seven years ago. It's all about Trainerroad. I enjoy the sessions, but more importantly, I trust them and know they will get me into the shape I need. So, I am going to avoid the longer commutes that I  have done on the way home before, as that's padding. Do less, but do it with more intensity. One weekend ride, which will be pretty social until Christmas, before riding some more tt based efforts in the new year.

Run- I had my best run in years last week. Not injured, a good tempo effort that felt comfortable and relaxed. 10kms in 45 minutes so not quick but considering where I was just a month ago, I'm already making some gains. This is a great start. My golden rule is no runs on consecutive days and until Christmas I am not going to run longer than 8 miles. There's just no need and a focus on my 5km speed will keep things interesting.

Strength and Core- I've really enjoyed this and I never thought that I would, but so far it's been paying dividends and because of that, it will make me train better and be consistent. If it has a use, then I'll do it.

I did of course get completely carried away in my last post, shooting off about sub10. That shouldn't be my goal. My goal is consistency and as long as I am, then I will get my reward, whatever that may be. Enjoy the process. Do the training. Be happy.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Well, that escalated quickly!

I've entered an Ironman.

After realising that PBP was not going to happen next year, but being all psyched up and ready to head to the continent for a big event, I felt the need to put something in the calendar for next year. So, I've registered for Ironman Switzerland. No half measures; no faffing; no pontificating.

Sub 10 is the aim. Training starts now, in fact training has already been going on for the last 8 weeks.
I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the process. I have confidence in my ability to prepare as well as can be expected within the time budget that I have as a dad, husband and working bloke.

Bring. It. On. #Sub10