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