Saturday, 1 November 2014

Minimal Ironman training

Up until a few weeks ago I was doing very little exercise and I was really missing it. When I did bimble out for a run to ride it really helped me to de-stress and I remembered what I have been missing, but when time's tight it's easy to take the easy option and junk the planned run or ride in favour of something else. I tend to dislike the threads that I see on various triathlon forums that are titled 'What's the least amount of training I can get away with and still get around an Ironman?' It just seems all wrong to me. Shouldn't it be 'What's the most I can do in the time I have available and get around an Ironman?' That said, I have been paying a lot more attention to these ideas and training methods if I am to go long again at any time in the future.

Then again, there's the question, 'If I want to go sub(17/16/15/14/13/12/11/10) hours, what's the minimum amount of training I will need to do?' I know that I cannot set aside 20+ hours per week to train and to be honest, I don't want to anyway, as there are too many other factors in my life which are important to me. But, I would like to race long again and work towards a time goal, sub 12 as a minimum and sub 11 hours as a bit more of a stretch target. But how can I do that on the limited time that I have? I've read Fink from cover to cover and while there's some good advice in there the thought of following a 30 week schedule with a lot of early doors long aerobic work is not for me. I just don't think I have the dedication to follow something like that so religiously for so long.

So I started looking around for other ways of approaching Ironman training and I hunted around the tinterweb for some advice. 'My Secret Sauce' by Sami Inkinen, a Kona qualifier with a sub 9 personal best  discusses some points which turns a lot of conventional IM training wisdom on its head and makes really interesting. This blogpost came up with some really useful stuff too.

The common threads are a) biking on a turbo trainer, b) no brick workouts and c) no long runs.

While I'm cycling everyday to work, it's a very congested and short ride so just not suitable for specific cycle training. Now it's winter my Argon is bolted to the turbo so I can jump on and do a 45-90 minute specific turbo session which is a lot more time efficient than trying to get out on the bike.

I found a couple of posts, like the one here written by the excellent Coach Cox that also gave some pointers on time crunched Ironman training. 7-10 hours per week is considered minimal, so just over an hour per day and when you factor in a weekend bike of 2-3 hours that's only 4-6 hours of training during the rest of the week. The other key factor here which would really help me is only one session per day, rather than trying to squeeze in two per day. This means getting an early session in before work is potentially doable, particularly if it's a turbo session in the garage.

So, my thinking for the next few months is this;

1. No swim training at all. Forget it. I can swim and when I get nearer to the event then I'll stick my wetsuit on. At the moment it just isn't time efficient. If I were to do two swim sessions per week it might make me 10-15 minutes faster over an IM race; in the grand scheme of things this is not worth my time.
2. Turbo twice per week. One long interval session (based around 2x20 intervals) and one short interval session (based on 8-10 repeats of 2-5 minute efforts.)
3. One long ride per week; this might be an hour on the way home or a 2-3 hour Sunday ride.
4. A long run, no longer than 90 minutes in duration. I will put some fartlek efforts in their to add some variability and speed.
5. One 30-40 minute run with intervals.

This will give approximately 7 hours per week, which in anyone's book is minimal Ironman training. The last three weeks have seen me start the process of adopting the above strategies. The turbo sessions have been hard work but they have already started to pay dividends. I went on a slow ride with Simon yesterday, just to catch up and have a coffee, but we climbed Crocknorth Road, one of my favourite hills and I felt pretty good the whole way up, even getting to the bridge before Simon, which has not happened in over a year. This year's season has given me the impetus to kick on next year and go long again. Let's see how little I can do to do it.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

cycling 10 times per week

That's the truth. I am. Which is really great, but unfortunately as it's only a two mile commute trip from work to home and back it doesn't really count as quality miles under my belt. I have a further confession to make. I bought myself an ebay special for the journey as I didn't want to use the Van Nic for it and I had sold my langster a few months back. The commute bike is a GT Nomad bought for £50. My confession is that I then went out and bought a rack and panniers to cart my stuff around in. I am a fully paid up cycle commuter which I feel very smug about. The traffic is heavy and my bike is perfect for it and it's downhill nearly all the way in the mornings. I am saving myself a fortune in petrol and feeling very smug. With a lack of racing and training I have got myself into a few commuter races, for example drafting off a rider in full OPQS team gear while I'm riding in a shirt and tie. A small and inconsequential win.

I've been doing no training at all except the odd hour here and there. I just don't have the headspace for it at the moment but I need to find some time for something. My target of 20 miles per day in my last post is now laughable in the extreme. 4 miles per day will have to do for now.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

What's next?

You wait two months for a post, then three arrive at once. ;-)

Since the Alpe d' Huez triathlon I have been trying to think about what to focus on over the next year or so. Immediately after the race I was hoping to get a steady week's training in while staying at our friends' amazing place, Chalet Pomet. Situated in the village of Morillon about three hours' drive from Venosc I was going to get some steady cycling and running in ready to see me through to the end of the season but once again, my foot was not playing ball. I did a very gentle 40 minute run on soft ground and after I finished it was really sore, so I decided that there would be no more running for a while. The day after I took myself off before breakfast and decided to ride the Col de Joux-Plane, which is the nearest big climb about 10 kms away. I completely underestimated it, with it being every bit as high as Alpe d' Huez but considerably longer in terms of its less steep gradient.

Only 8kms to go

 I had not eaten beforehand so was very low on energy the whole way up, but it was a beautiful morning. A couple of other riders were out (who I went past; nice. :-) and I ticked off each kilometre steadily (about 13 of them). The view from the top was magnificent, with the low lying cloud which I had ridden through half an hour earlier providing a lovely sense of scale to the sheer bulk of the mountains all around. Unfortunately the monster that is Mont Blanc which can normally be seen in the distance was obscured, so with the morning temperature being a bit chilly I decided to go back down.

Selfie on the top of Joux-Plane

The descent was a complete scream. With much longer straights than Huez I was able to get up a lot of speed before breaking hard for the hairpin bends. My foot gave me a bit of gip when I hit a bump, with the extra flexing giving me a sharp pain now and again but seemed ok other than that. I did a couple of shorter rides in the week but with my foot being uncomfortable they were very gentle bimbles, so the rest of the time was spent eating, drinking, sightseeing and hitting the hot tub. Normal family holiday stuff.

So what next? Well for me, the season is already starting to draw to a close. A couple of time trials over the next month or so is the only thing in the pipeline. I will withdraw from the Abingdon Marathon as my foot will not take the load at the moment and once again, running will be put on the back foot (nice pun). I have a new job which is going to be pretty full-on for the foreseeable future and  will make training pretty hard to fit in so I have been thinking about what to do, and I think I've come up with a pretty good solution.

Most of the members at the Phoenix always talk about their annual mileage. So how many miles did you complete last year? My best from last year, was 5000miles; pretty good I thought, but that's nothing compared to some of the mileages that other members have done over the past. So I am going to give myself a target, starting in September and see if I can keep to it. It will not matter whether it's a bimble to the shops, commuting to work or training, it will all count. The only thing that will not count is the turbo as it will have to be road miles. The more time and mileage I complete on the bike the faster I will get. Simples.

So, what's my target? It needs to be more than 5000 miles, and something that will stretch me a bit. 7500 miles would be an average of 20.5 miles/day or 144 miles per week. Hmmm, that's pretty tough, but I like the numbers. Let's see.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Alpe d' Huez Triathlon

So I had got the Thunder Run out of the way and despite my foot being quite sore, I had been pleased with how the running had gone. I had covered the 42km marathon distance in a tad over 3:25 on fairly patchy and low quality running and done another 8kms and felt pretty good at the end. The next day was about getting the car packed ready to catch a late night ferry to Calais. Ten hours later after driving through torrential rain the whole way we were on the edge of the Alps, with a daughter puking into a carrier bag that had holes in the bottom of it and a lost toll ticket which had been whipped out of Sue's hand by a rogue French mistral. That was a bit of a low point. Thankfully as we pulled into the campsite in the pretty little village of Venosc, the rain stopped and the sun came out. It looked like the camping and triathlon Gods might be on our side.

Wednesday was my first view and ascent, in a car, of Alpe d' Huez as I had to get to the top to register and collect my number. Oh blimey. I looked at the first couple of ramps and my heart sank. I might just have bitten off more than I could chew here. This was a most definite obstacle in my path. A very big obstacle. I should explain that my last long training ride had been a couple of weeks before with Simon where we did a solid 90 miles with an ascent of Ditchling Beacon that had been awful. The flat bits were fine but the hills were very slow and far below what I  would normally be like on hills so I was not feeling particularly positive about going up the Alpe. Anyway, I collected my number and had a load of pasta and decided to use my usual tactic of having a beer and burying my head in the sand.

The race start was a very sociable 2pm so we had plenty of time to get ready. Sue and the kids would spend the day at the top of the mountain where there was a great sports centre and they were going to do a bit of indoor climbing and swimming. All I had to do was set up T2 (put my run shoes on the floor) and then cycle down to the start. I was a bit stressed about this beforehand but I need not have been. All I had to do was take my swim gear in a rucksack with me to set up T1 and get to Lac Du Verney. to get there I had to descend Alpe d' Huez to hairpin 5 which is 5kms from the top (all the hairpins are numbered) and then turn off for the village of Villard-Reculas. It was stunning ride in its own right, mainly freewheeling in a small group with people called Jean-Luc, Yvette, Phillipe, etc. It just put the most enormous smile on my face and really got me prepared for the day. At the lake they had put nationalities together so I was able to while away the 45 minutes before the start chatting to a few other Brits. The main topic of conversation was of course the climb and people were talking about 60 minutes being a really good time for the climb so in my mind I prepared myself for 80-90 minutes.
Ready to roll to the start
The other thing I had not prepared myself for was a 1200 person mass swim start. I was breaststroking around and the water was quite chilly (13.3 apparently) and loads of other swimmers swam across to the far side and then immediately got out to sit on the side, which I found rather odd. I was having a look around and christening the wettie with a super long wee when the hooter went. Queue 1000 athletes jumping into the lake and all heading for the first turn buoy. It was a complete bunfight. I was punched, kicked, held, dragged back and generally royally interfered with. I didn't find any feet to draft off at all; no one was swimming straight so I just had to sight as best as I could and hope for the best. On the odd occasions when I did get some clear water I knew that I was pretty slow anyway so I just tried to take it easy and save something for later on. I have to say that despite all the biff, I enjoyed it and it was a beautiful lake to swim in. T1 was slow and by the time I jogged out of  T1 I was well down the field.

The first 15 kms is a flat warm-up to the bottom of Alpe d' Huez and it was a blast. Out of T1 is a drop down to the dam on the lake before heading out on the long straight valley road to the town of Bourg d' Oirsans which is the town at the bottom of the climb. It was an absolute blast. We were all drafting on this section, there was no way that you could avoid it with so many bikes on the road at the same time. I was floating along at the back of a peleton of about 40 riders when a referee on  a motorbike gave me a long hard stare, so I dropped back a few metres until he roared off up the road, completely ignoring the other riders all in a bunch. Idiot. That said, the organisation was great. The police stopped the traffic and the drivers had all got out of their cars and were clapping and cheering us on, something I doubt that the nimby brigade in this country would do. Love. It.

Cycling doesn't get much more fun than this
So we made our way through Bourg before taking the left turn onto the D211, the iconic 21 hairpin bends to the top of Alpe d' Huez. As soon as I hit the first bottom slope I snuck the gears into the small chainring, found the largest sprocket and started to spin my way up. Within seconds I just knew it was going to be ok. The good thing about having such a rubbish swim was that I was able to overtake a steady stream of riders which gave me people to chase and the first 10 hairpins flew by. The big hairpin bends gave a brief respite from the climbing before it ramped up again but in the main it was just a steady grind/spin. Like Boxhill but just about eight times longer and a lot more spectacular. By this time the temperature had really got up and I used the 2 feed stations on the Alpe to pour water over my head which helped a lot to cool me down. Between 10 and 5 was tougher, I think I was running on empty so got some energy drink in which perked me up and from 5 with the top getting nearer I was able to pick up my cadence a little again. The hard thing was getting to 0 only to find that there was still a little bit of climbing to get you into the ski town and T2 on the football astro pitch.  The climb took me just over 70 minutes which, on reflection, I have to be happy with.

Another super slow T2; no quick laces and a bit of cramp. Doh.

I bounded out of T2 feeling absolutely brilliant. Only 7kms to go. The first kilometre was really good as I went out onto the trail path at the top of the mountain, but within 7 or 8 minutes I found myself very out of breath, like I couldn't fill my lungs with enough air and I could feel myself getting very hot again. I can only think it was the altitude kicking in, making my heart rate go through the roof and I just had to stop and walk for a bit until I had got it under control. It was a bit of a shame as my legs felt great but I couldn't hold a pace that only a few days before had been really easy. It was quite  a tough run being very exposed and on some lumpy trail paths, but eventually we turned back downhill, into the centre of the ski resort, across the football pitch before turning right down the blue carpet. Lots of high fiving, a shout out from the announcer and the best after race buffet I've ever had.

Topping up my tan. Ouch.
This was a great event. I was worried about all the effort of getting me, my stuff and my family all the way to the Alps for an Olympic-ish distance event, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. To have ridden arguably the most iconic climb in cycling in a race is something that I will always remember and I really hope that I get to do it again in the future.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Adidas Thunder Run 2014

Ok, I have not blogged in a long while. Life, work, family, stuff. Some of it important, some of it not. And within all that I was trying to string some decent training together and failing dismally. I had put together a team for the Thunder Run last year when I had put the entry in for a team of 8. Unfortunately, that team rapidly dwindled from 8 down to 7, then 6, then 5 and finally, with two weeks to go down to , when another injury blighted another runner. I managed to get Jon, a friend from work to join us so we headed off to Catton Park as a 5 team.

The night before. Drinking tea; talking rubbish
So what is the Thunder Run? It's a 24 hour non-stop relay of teams from 2 to 8 runners and some solo runners as well (loons!). It's on a hilly 10km loop and you run through the day and night handing over a slap band. There's dodgy catering facilities but it has best been described as a music festival, but with running; and no music. :-/   Simon, Jon and I drove up on the Friday to set up our tents for the whole team, with Martin and Sarah arriving early Saturday ready for the 12pm start in the afternoon. Many clubs, mainly from the Midlands had arrived very early and cordoned off large areas so we ended up quite a way from the hand over point, but nicely positioned at the 9km point.

Martin still smiling
As team leader I took the honour of running the first lap and it was great with all the supporters cheering us on at the start and as we made our way around the course with much of the first 3 kms weaving in and around the tents manned by all the teams. It was a testing course with a short, sharp hill in the first 800 metres, which then just had a series of open grass track with gentle rises that would become full on hills as the event wore on. The really nutty bit was at 7kms where the runners spent 200 metres zig-zagging through trees and over tree stumps and roots. Difficult in the day when you're fresh and a trip-fest at night when you're tired. After that it was a steady drop back to the main field on the hand over, so after 45 minutes I was done and Simon was on his way. Obviously, despite carrying no injuries for the last few months my left Achilles started to really ache and my right foot got very sore, presumably from working hard over some of the rutted sections. Bugger.

Sarah at the 9km point next to our tent.
As it turned out, 5 runners was a really good number to have. It would mean that we would potentially be running 50km which would be quite a challenge but not hanging around for a long time. We got into a routine of seeing our team runner coming in at 9kms to hand over and that would give the signal that the next runner after that had approximately an hour to get ready. While it didn't involve spreadsheets and predicted timings it worked pretty well. The hard thing was getting the feeding right. I found by my third lap that I had eaten too much and it was a very slow one while I had the burps. Thankfully, the weather was kind, although possibly too warm, with a bit of rain through the night, although not enough to make running too difficult.

We ended up being the 21st team out of 69 with 25 laps completed. Had I gone out a shuffled round another 10kms, which I had the opportunity to do we would have been 15th! Unfortunately my foot was really sore by this stage and discretion was required with me racing the Alpe d' Huez Triathlon a few days later, so we were happy with that.

All in all, a great event. If you run, you need to do it.

Monday, 16 June 2014


I've  had a bit of a tough week for training this week with the Grafman taking a lot more out of me than I thought it had. I went for a very gentle run on Wednesday and had to stop after 20 minutes with my legs completely fried. It was a bit better then next day but my heart rate was through the roof for such a gentle exertion.

On Saturday I had an Open 10 tt so bimbled gently over to Dorking on the Argon with the aim of doing 40 ish miles with the tt sandwiched in the middle. It was pretty horrible with a fast out leg, with the wind at my back and then a very stiff headwind on the way back. I gave up towards the end, as again I had no gas at all. A 24:45, a full minute down on two weeks ago.

So all in all, a very quiet week. I need to start building up again over the next few weeks and make the
turbo my friend.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Grafman Triathlon 2014

Just a quick one about the weekend's race.

Pre race.

Had a stomach bug on Wednesday and Thursday. Not ideal but felt ok by Friday. Simon and I, along with a club mate of his, John, camped over on Saturday night. The wind was pretty strong during the afternoon but died away so it looked like running the deep section wheels would be fine. Lots of carbs the night before. Felt ready to go and do my first triathlon in three years.

Swim. 37:xx

It's a very pretty swim. The water looked a bit murky but tasted ok, I know this as I swallowed quite a lot of it. The course was one large lap followed by one small one. I lurked at the back trying and failing to find feet. My main issue was leaking goggles so I had to roll on my back a few times to empty them. Sub optimal but it gave me a rest. I tried to keep my stroke nice and long which worked for the most part but by the end of lap two I was starting to feel a bit tight in the shoulders and was looking forward to getting out. The time was quite a bit down on what I know I am capable of but I can't complain, considering how little swimming I have actually done in the last six months.

Bike 2:31

Once I left T1 there were not many bikes left in transition and I spent the first 10 minutes not really feeling the love. My legs felt very heavy after the swim and I just wasn't used to transitioning from one discipline to the next. After a while I got my head down properly and started to overtake a lot of people; relatively easy when you are quite a way down after the swim, but I made sure I was not
pushing hard.  The road was quite bumpy at times but it was a flat, fast course with a few technical
bits at each turn around point. There was some drafting but not much, conspiring how busy it got at times and when the road opened up most people seemed to behave themselves.

My nutrition was shotblocks and I had a pack an hour washed down with some nuun and at the last feed station I took a bottle of water. This left me a little light on calories but it went down ok and didn't come back up. I think I'll think about some savoury snacks next time, just to make the rolling buffet a little more interesting. When I came off the main circuit it was another few miles back to T2 and I slowed down too much here, losing time because I was looking for the entrance back to Grafham Water rather than concentrating on the race. So I got back into T2 in a tad over 2.5 hours feeling quite fresh. It was all looking rather good.

Run 1:50

Dam and blast! Another rubbish run. The writing was on the wall almost straight away as I ran out of T2 feeling great, I mean really great, but then after 800 metres my legs started to cramp up and brought me to a halt very quickly. I literally could not walk a step and spent a few minutes massaging my left quad and right hamstring to get them to free up a little. I then managed to get walking before resuming a slow shuffle, on my way to the first aid station at the turnaround point on the dam. I think this was a combination of two factors. My longest ride on the argon in a fairly aggressive tt position and not taking on board enough electrolytes. Aerobically I felt great and my legs did not feel very fatigued but they were very knotted with cramp, so I made the decision to ensure that I was taking on water and high5 at every station. The second half of the run course takes you back to transition, then out again through woods and paths to the second turnaround. By this stage I was going through a black mood, frankly very bored with the whole thing, but I think the energy drink must have kicked in as I perked up and was able to run more freely.

I had one lap to go with exactly 1 hour to get a sub 5. So just over 6.5 miles in an hour. It gave me something to work for so I resolved to run all the way to the feed station on the dam and I managed it! Game on. Ok, now. Time to run all the way back to the water station at transition. I did that too! So it was still on. I necked more water and got running again but I could feel what little energy I had in my legs finally seeping out. The harder I tried, the slower I was getting and it got to a point where I was virtually quicker walking. With about a mile to go I was still just within sight of a 4:59:xx time but without warning both hamstrings cramped and wouldn't let go. It really hurt and I spent another couple of minutes massaging them to get them moving again. It was very, very frustrating.

I jogged across the line in 5:03. I am really delighted and really disappointed at the same time. That's
a 12 minute pb on the time I did at my last middle distance race in the Cowman in 2010, which is obviously great, and I went into this race not expecting to go sub 5. But to get so close and not make it is frustrating, especially when I think that the cramps are something that maybe I could have controlled.

Never mind. Onwards.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Almost evens

I have had a lovely couple of weeks' training. Everything, and I mean everything has gone right. First of all, swimming. With the Grafman Tri at the end of this week it dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that it might be necessary to a) buy a wetsuit, and b) use it.  :-/.  I didn't have time to go and try a load of different types on so I took a punt on an offer from wiggle and got one from there. Thankfully it fitted like the proverbial (rubber) glove so last week I headed off to Heron Lake with Simon to do my first two proper open water swim sessions in a couple of years. A couple of kilometres per session  and I felt really good about it. It was a bit of a plod but much, much better than I thought that it would be. I had a tough sprint session with Kingfisher last night and I'll try to get a gentle set in on Thursday. And that will be me done. About 10 kilometres so far for the year; I don't want to overdo it too much. ;-)

Running has been steady, injury free and relaxed. A little bit of fartlek to mix things up and some long runs of 10-11 miles.  The best bit has been my cycling. I have managed to get out for some mid-week rides after work and the tt season is in full swing. Last week I got a personal best over 10 miles with a 23:45 which I was so happy with; the first time that I have gone over 25 mph average for a tt. It just so happened that four days later I had a 25m tt. A 25mile TT is a great test of aerobic endurance and it has a wonderful mathematic symmetry. 25 miles in one hour equals 25mph, or 'evens'. Back in the day, this was a very hard feat with steel bikes, spoked wheels and no aero benefits. These days it is undoubtedly easier to achieve but it's still seen as quite a milestone for cyclists to aspire to and  similar to a sub 3 marathon for runners.

My pb from last year was 64:45 on the Van Nic, so a long way off but with me on my Argon I knew that I should be able to better this with a fast morning and I thought that a low 62 would be a good result and achievable with my current level of fitness.

The morning was fast with very little wind but the course, G25/53 is not a particularly fast one, with a few long drags at the end. I hit it pretty hard from the start and was pushing through the whole event and by 19 miles I thought that I had blown up as I climbed towards the Hop Oast roundabout. Thankfully, the last 5 miles are fairly flat or downhill and I was able to keep pushing a pretty big gear.  I went purely on rpe and didn't have a clock on it as I didn't feel that I would be particularly close to the hour, so I was really shocked and pleased to record a 60:56! On a faster course, a bit more aerobic endurance work and with a cycle computer I reckon a sub 60 25 should be on the cards. It's quite a nice feeling knowing that I can do it rather than hoping that I can.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Feeling the love again

I guess it has a lot to do with the improved weather, but cycling has become a joy again after spending the last couple of months or so feeling that I was getting nowhere. Saturday was a little frustrating. After my unexpected pb the Wednesday bafore I was entered for the SCCU 10 time trial, which was to be my first ever 10 not on the G10/42 course. The G10/57 is meant to be a much faster course and it was a beautiful morning with very little wind. It looked like my first sub 24 was well and truly on. I had picked up my number, got my tt bike prepped and swung a leg over it to spin the 10 minutes to the start, only to be told the event was cancelled after the first few riders had started as some unexpected roadworks popped up. Although it was a 30 mile round trip, I was much more annoyed about not starting and getting a time. Safety first and all that, but frustrating all the same.

I helped marshal a road race in the afternoon, which was a new and interesting experience. I thought that I would just be pointing the peleton down a road, but no. At one point I was standing in the middle of the road, hiding behind a large red flag as a car drove at me a 40 mph. Thankfully, he stopped. :-)  The bike outriders were grumpy and so was the commissarie, who may have forgotten that I had given up almost my whole Saturday to help out (unpaid). I don't expect eternal gratitude but the odd 'please' and 'thank you' wouldn't have gone amiss.  Think I'll stick to tting. A much more friendly bunch.

I saw this picture on Facebook the other day.
How not to ride up Boxhill.

Only yesterday I was cycling up and over Boxhill on my commute home when a lovely little canard microlight flew directly overhead. I was completely transfixed for a few seconds and very nearly did exactly the same as this fella. At least there was no one around to see.

Friday, 16 May 2014

A bit chuffed

It was the second evening tt last night and I got a pb! 24:04, which is a 3 second improvement on last year, addmitedly on a full tt outfit unlike last year, so there should still be a lot more to come. I really want to see 23:xx before the season is out.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

An update

I have been ticking along with my training, enjoying a few different sessions but not really pulling up any trees. I’ve had lots of other things going on so it’s been a case of just do what I can, when I can. I suppose the really nice thing has been my first evening 10 of the season aboard the Argon in full tt trim (although I have managed to lose my tt helmet, doh). The deep section Planet x wheels felt great and I really noticed three things. Any form of cross wind makes for a dicey situation when running the 80mm deep front wheel. Tubs roll beautifully and the ride through the aluminium frame felt a lot smoother. And lastly, they are very slippy through the air, which I noticed most on the couple of rises on the G10/42 course with the bike carrying a lot more speed through the down hills, requiring less effort when stamping on the pedals climbing up the other side. I achieved a 25:02, and while I gave it a good go and that's almost a minute down on my best time last season, that’s a time I am really please with in light of my current fitness and I am confident that I will be going sub 24 before too long.

I have had a few Sunday rides with Simon and we cycled out to the G10/42 course again and 2-upped it, trying to drop each other off our wheels. He was too strong for me at the end but it was a proper hurtbox session which I need plenty more of, sandwiched into a solid 50 mile ride. I am trying something new on the turbo by mixing up my standard long interval sessions and including some much higher intensity sets with maximum efforts over short 30seconds-2 minutes intervals with a longer recovery. I just fancy trying something new and seeing what effect that it might have and whether more lactate threshold work will benefit my 10 / 25 / 50 tting.

The other bit of news I have is that I will be doing the sprint version of the Alpe d’ Huez race. This is down to logistics of getting there in time; having enough time to register and set up camp. The sprint race is on the Thursday so gives us a lot more time to get to the Alps and enjoy the experience. It’s all relative in terms of it being a sprint as I still have to drag my lardy carcass up Alpe ‘d Huez, but I will have a couple more days to recover from the Thunder run too. I have entered the Grafman Half Ironman, and while my cycling and running are steadily improving, swimming, once again, has gone awol.  Time to go to the pool.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The blues

I'm desperately trying to summon up some enthusiasm to train but it's proving hard. I'm definitely not firing on all cylinders which obviously doesn't help but even with that as an excuse/reason, I'm just not very good at the moment. I tried to kick-start some mojo by going out with Simon on Sunday around a lumpy and scenic route that we have ridden quite a bit in the past. It takes in a lot of short, steep climbs up Coldharbour, Holmbury Hill, Coombe Bottom and Crocknorth, and we normally finish with Boxhill. It is a very pretty route and normally this is enough to take my mind off any problems that I might be having but this time I just couldn't get into any form of rhythm when going uphill; constantly changing gear, my position on the bars and even stopping on a couple of occasions to remove or put on items of clothing, just as an excuse to stop. It was a solid 50 miles which normally would leave me with a happy glow, but I wheeled my bike into the garage when I got home and was glad to see the back of it.

The organiser of the SCCU Sporting 21 TT which I (barely) completed a couple of weeks back, was kind enough to send me a picture of my suffering. It made me realise that I need to lose some timber around my middle if I want to get a bit faster this season.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A slight change of fortune

After a few weeks of very little training I was going to get firmly back on the horse last week only for me to pick up a sore throat and ear ache. Nothing major, I think mainly due to feeling run down and stressed out at work, so I took the decision to kick back and let itself sort itself out before doing anything major. Thankfully I was over the worst of it by the time Sunday came around as we had a long ride to Worthing and back scheduled. This was going to be my first long ride of the year (over 50 miles at any rate) and with my dire performances in the time trials so far this season I was a little apprehensive about how it would go. The idea was that Kingston Phoenix would have 2 groups setting off, one 15 minutes before the other, with the faster group starting second and then hopefully catching the slow group en route. There was a healthy number set out in the slow group but the fast group consisted of only Simon and I, so situation normal. It was a shame that there were not more with us but it gave us the opportunity to work hard. I ensured that I was really fuelled up and ate loads of carbs the night before and had an enormous bowl of porridge in the morning. I didn't want to bonk again like I had a few weeks before.

The weather was grim; cold rain for nearly the whole ride and a stiff headwind all the way out. So it was a simple task of working at a good tempo effort for as long as possible, sharing the work with Simon and getting some good quality dual carriageway miles in the bank. I was fully expecting my legs to go pop quite soon but after the last few weeks I was in a fairly belligerent mood and just thought, 'stuff it'. No point sitting up taking it easy when I've got a full tt season to do and the Alpe d' Huez to climb. Do your worst A24.

I loved every minute of it. It was one of those rides where everything just clicked and even the hard bits felt good.  We caught the other group at Dorking after they had stopped to pick up a few more riders and then pushed on by ourselves. Simon is in great form and where I was able to be glued behind his wheel coming home with a healthy tailwind and clipping along at an effortless 27-28 miles per hour was a real blast. I took my turns on the front and they were tough but being hunkered down on the drops trying to make myself as aero as possible, forcing myself to push a bigger gear was what I needed.

Maybe it was being back on my road bike? Maybe I just expected so little from the ride and any form of improvement would be a blessing? Maybe it was just a change of attitude? I don't know, but I enjoyed every hour of it (especially the coffee and chicken sandwich on the way home) and it has been a massive confidence boost. I did tire quite a bit in the last 10 miles and Simon skipped effortlessly away from me as we climbed up and over the hill outside Dorking, but with 70 miles done already and the first signs of real fatigue in my legs I was a happy chappy. 80 miles in total in just over 4 hours were numbers that at this stage I am very happy with. Onwards.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Taking a hit

Fast bike, slow rider
The last three weeks have seen my training stall completely with me only managing a couple of hours each week. This has mainly been down to work and life stuff which I just was not able to balance up; having to work late meant that I was just too wiped to do a session at night. This has also led to me eating absolute rubbish as well, which is a complete double whammy. Virtually zero training and a steady gain in weight as I attack another pack of crisps, does not make an endurance athlete, even a mediocre one.

There will be a few changes in the Wheezy household next year and I am going to have to change the way and time that I train accordingly. I am going to have to start trying to get some sessions in early in the morning before work so that I can have my evenings free for concentrate on family and work commitments.

My bike fitness has really taken a dive. I did a 25 mile tt three weeks ago which although was slow, felt fairly comfortable, but then last week I did a Sporting 21TT. 'Sporting' in TT terminology means 'lumpy' or 'slow'. I was very, very slow. The first 10 mile loop was uncomfortable with the second one just being downright awful. To add insult to injury I properly bonked on the 15 mile cycle home trying to say on Simon and Brian's wheels as we spun slowly home and I couldn't even do that. Today was a little better at the SCCU Sporting 10. I was able to hit it a bit harder but a long 28 when I should have been doing a low 26 is pretty hard to stomach. Tomorrow is the last SCCU Sporting event of the early season, the Sporting 25. I intend to get there early and try to get a few miles in before the start to bulk the ride out a bit and then use the tt as training. I am simply finding it too hard at the moment to push any form of hard effort without red-lining very early.

I have the Alpe D'Huez triathlon in a few months time and I am going anaerobic on the smallest rise in the road. I am going to hit the hills really hard over the Easter break and try to claw some fitness back;  I think that I might even need some double bike days. The last month or so has shown me that in cycling, at my level at least, nothing beats volume.

Sunday, 9 March 2014


With the sun shining it was time to get the Argon out of the shed and get some tt miles under my belt, So Simon and I headed out early this morning to take in part of the 25 route that will be the first tt of the year, next week. This was the closest I was able to get to Simon all morning.

On the Mickelham Bends below Boxhill

I had absolutely nothing in the tank at all and it's just down to not getting enough volume done on the bike, so the first few time trials of the season are going to smart a bit. Simon was looking pretty bombproof again, making it all look so easy. I'll be playing catch up again this season.

It was great being on the Argon though; the downhills were a lot of fun. A couple of hours with 36 miles on the clock including a stop for a bulging tyre. Very odd.

Running continues to progress with my legs feeling strong. Still not doing any speedwork and just concentrating on solid, easy miles.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Exciting times

As I said at the end of my last post I still had not entered a triathlon. Well now I have. :-)

The original idea had been to go to friends who live in France and then do Embrunman but unfortunately we just couldn't make it work for reasons I won't bore you with. Anyway, while sorting out our holiday it became clear that there was a possibility that I could do the Alpe d'huez triathlon before doing the rest of the holiday.  There was a bit of a problem with this plan however, in that I am already committed to the Thunder Run which takes place on the Sunday with the d'Huez triathlon on the following Wednesday. Oooffff. That's quite a heavy workload and I spent a week or so thinking about it before signing up. At the end of the day I want to enjoy myself and I am not fussed about how fast I go in France. I just want to ride up some really big mountains and enjoy myself so I ll just stick the Van Nic in the 28 sprocket and winch myself up. Simples.

I am very excited.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


The weather has definitely dampened my enthusiasm to get out and play on the bike in the last couple of weeks. I have been getting one or two turbo sessions in per week, continually fiddling and tinkering with my tt position but I have not actually been out on a bike in a couple of weeks. My usual commute rides have not happened with a mixture of cba and having to carry lots of luggage to and from work. Even with a Ti framed bike, that's not conducive to a good training ride so the turbo it is. Yesterday I managed my first commute ride over Boxhill; my standard 1 hour ish ride home when I have the time. I felt completely rubbish. I actually got off my bike to see if the rear brake was rubbing, but it wasn't. I just seemed to have very little power to turn the cranks. My bike fitness just seems to have seeped away somewhere.

However, My running is going well, probably too well. Something is bound to happen soon but at the moment I am riding the crest of a wave. My #Jantastic three runs per week remains intact and last week I even did four runs, with an additional 20 minute dreadmill run on Friday. On Sunday I ran 14.5 miles with Paul, a friend who is running London in two months and we bimbled around Altringham with a few of his mates on one of the few dry and sunny mornings of the month. It was a very easy steady run, over hills and dales, running new trails and afterwards I felt great.

I have entered the Abingdon Marathon in October with some guys from Tritalk who inhabit the 'Sub 3 hour thread.' I have been a serial lurker on there for a few years and while at this stage sub 3 is not likely a 3:15 gfa time would be a good thing to aim for. I'm looking at a much longer lead-in with less intense training in a bid to get to the start line fit. I was worried that three runs would not be enough but I seem to have achieved a nice balance of work and rest and in particular my lower legs do not feel continually battered and sore.

Other than the Abingdon Marathon I have been very lax about entering more events as I am saving up for some deep section rims for the Argon but I need to think about a final event for the #Jantastic challenge. At the very least I could go for a 5km Park Run but a half marathon would probably be more useful, but to predict a time at the moment would be pretty hard to do. I genuinely have no idea where I would stand. Ultimately, I don't really care as I am swimming, cycling AND running for the first time in a long while. Happy days.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

First race of the year

I took part in my first running race yesterday since I did the London Marathon in April last year. Woop woop me. It was the Human Race Iceman 16km trail run on the Army training grounds in Frimley. I had entered it a few months ago as something to give my running a bit of a focus over the winter and I wanted to do something a bit different. Human Race events tend to get a bit of a bad press for the cost of their events and at £27 this was not cheap for what it was, but it was a very well organised event over an interesting and tough course.

My major problem on turning up was that I was not wearing running shorts, instead opting for lycra leggings which I normally never wear except on the bike, over cycle shorts. I looked ridiculous and resembled a skinny beetle with weak lower limbs. I was very self conscious.

I knew it was going to be fairly hilly and with only a handful of 8 and 10 mile runs over very flat terrain under my belt, the plan was simple. Start very steadily, stay running steadily and then see how I was feeling over the last few kilometres if it was possible to push the pace a bit. So on the hooter most of the field left me standing while I set off at a trot. We all spent the first few miles trying to avoid the puddles before we all realised that this was going to be impossible and we might as well just run through. The first large loop started easily enough before we encountered the first few hills. They were all very short and very steep and before long people were walking up them. This was where I found I was able to begin overtaking quite a few people who had gone out way too fast.

After the first loop I was feeling very comfortable and then came the next loop, run twice, which was apparently the hardest part of the course. It started with a wide flat bridle path that was gently rolling, followed by quite a narrow technical section through woods. After this came the hills. Well, actually it was one hill but we ran up it about 6 times. Once per lap I had to walk as people had stopped in front of me and as it was single track there was no way around them until we reached the top. The first time was a lot of fun and I was overtaking people steadily and even picking up the pace steadily on the flat sections. The second of the small laps did start to sting a bit, but I just kept picking people off and even had enough at the end for a sprint finish. 32nd out of 270 and 6th in my age group on minimal training, but most importantly my achilles and calves held together over a tough course and I had a lot of fun. Maybe, just maybe, I'm getting my running legs back.  :-)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A solid start

I'm a happy chappy because I'm running regularly again. I've used the Marathon Talk podcast's Jantastic Spring motivation challenge to give me a bit of focus but the main thing compared to previous years is I have reduced the number of weekly runs. For the past two years I have tried, and failed, to do 5 runs per week during Jantastic. This has ended up with me breaking down spectacularly well before April. This time, it's 3 runs per week. Quite simply a couple of easy 30-40 minute runs and one longer one at the weekend. Last weekend I did 8 miles including some fartlek for the middle 4 miles. It was lots of fun  and the fastest I have run for a very very long time. Yesterday Simon and I went to Richmond Park and got 11 slow miles in; the longest I have run since the London Marathon back in April. I need to just keep on doing what I can with 3 runs per week and enjoying it.

It's hardly been cycling weather recently so my cycling has been sporadic, usually involving a quick session on the turbo and commuting bits and pieces. I'm still tinkering with my position on the Argon. I raised the set by 2mm last week and it made a massive difference, opening up my hip angle so that I felt that I was able to breathe much more easily. It doesn't take a genius to work out that being able to get oxygen down into my lungs will significantly help my power output.

As usual swimming is the thing that seems to get hit but I'm not stressing too much about it. In a few months when the lakes open again then I'll start to try to get wet more regularly. At the moment a hard one hour session a week at Kingfisher will do with the odd second swim when I can. It's all good.