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Training update - 27 weeks to go

Number of training hours (done/planned)

Swim: 3/3
Bike: 1/2
Run: 3/3.25
Core/weights: 0.25/1.25
Total: 7.25/9.5

What went well

Managed to swim three times this week, involving two 7am starts (and I'm not a morning person). Also exercised twice on two days, which is also good practice. Arranged my bikefit session, to ensure that cycling is soft on the knees - would have been on Thursday just gone, but got moved to this Tuesday coming. Went running today in spite of feeling under the weather, although given I'm still not feeling any better, not convinced that was an entirely sensible plan. Will have to play this week by ear now.

What didn't go well

I did very little core this week. I always seem to be planning it for just after a long session, so haven't felt like it, and it's still the sacrificial lamb.

Didn't go for a long bike yesterday as planned - the weather was lousy and by the time I felt ready there wasn't much daylight left. Overheated on the rollers, so only managed 30 mins in total, not great.

Thoughts for next week's plan

I'm happy with my session planning for this week - any shortcomings were due to length of time I was willing to put into a session, not the number of sessions. So I will attempt the same again this week, and perhaps go for a more realistic level of core (three * 1/4 hour). I need to use evenings better too - before work and lunchtime are a little constrained (although before work is constrained only by what time I get up).

Next week I will go outside on the bike unless it is snowy or icy - rain is not a sufficient excuse!

On the rollers

Had another go at the rollers tonight - just 30 mins, but felt long enough. The main reasons I bought the rollers is that I think that they will improve my balance and handling, and also be slightly more interesting than the turbo.

I've now done an hour, and I'm definitely improving - I'm going minutes without bumping off the door frame, I'm cycling clipped in, and I only occasionally nearly cycle off it. Today I tried drinking from the bottle, taking a hand off handlebars, changing gears, shifting between hoods, drops and tops. Also tried some standing up.

ln future I'd like all of these to be more normal, and also add in eating, more shifting positions, more standing, more high cadence (today was around 70 rpm) and more hands off (at least one hand comfortably, perhaps both in the long distance future to prove that I control my balance). Oh, and I'd like to move out from the doorframe! Bouncing off it occasionally is fine but I aim to be fully independent in future!

Snowy Sunday afternoon run

I was in two minds whether it was sensible to run today - certainly if the recent ice hadn't improved I'd have had to look to some kind of indoor training. However, it looked like it had thawed a bit, so I set out for my planned 90 mins run.

My plan was to run up to Richmond Park and then head back after 45 minutes - wasn't quite sure where this would be. At the start of the route just after Colet Court finally runs out of land, there was a fork in the path. Normally I stick to the river but the left hand fork was so snowy and inviting, I decided to explore. After not too far I came to a gate, and this took me onto a more elevated path - to my left, probably 10 feet below, was a totally icy lake. I was able to run along the path by the lake for a good while, before it finally ended - and then I got to the sign - it was in fact the Leg O' Mutton Nature Reserve. Carrying on towards Barnes, I noticed I was running through Small Profit Dock Gardens - what a fantastic name. I've been running that route for 18 months now, and this was the first time I'd been through either. Just goes to show what a little snow can do.

Much of the rest of the run was uneventful, although Richmond Park itself was gorgeous, very snowy. I stuck to the road past the White Lodge, and then onto the Tamsin Trail to get the most of the run. Saw a few deer at the Robin Hood Gate end, and then headed back out of Roehampton Gate, down past the Priory, across to Barnes Station then along Castelnau back to Hammersmith.

In the end it was a 16km run in 1:35, which is as fast as I normally manage in normal conditions. The snow was reasonably fun to run in (not too deep, mostly not too icy), thankfully.

New Year, new training plan, new blog entry!

Over the last month I've been indulging in the typical December pastimes of eating and drinking too much, and training too little. With the New Year, and now just 29 weeks to Ironman, my new training plan has started. I'm starting at week 2 of Don Fink's Intermediate 30 week programme (hence the need to skip week 1). It starts off quite gently, although I've already had to do two workouts in a day. My plan today of doing swim and gym was foiled by too long a swim. However, in all cases of conflict, gym will always be the first thing to go, as specific training is better. Still want to work on my core though.

To that avail, I unboxed my latest gadget today - a new set of Elite Ghibli Parabolic rollers. I even gave them a quick go in a doorway - they're ludicrously difficult at first - I even managed to go off the side at one point, but that was probably a function of going too slow. I can see I'm going to get a great workout from them just trying to keep upright, and apparently the challenge makes time pass more quickly (guess I'll believe that one when I see it).

In other gadget news, I got a Garmin Edge 705 for Christmas - very shiny, and should make for more interesting bike rides. Once I've upgraded the maps. I figured the default map wouldn't be amazing, but might suffice. How wrong could I be - it didn't even recognise the road on which I live! A bit of research needed before I commit to buying a map, but I have been given very thorough advice on the matter - just need to weigh up the pros and cons of a couple of choices contained within.

Shaking things up a little

Although I understand the literature that suggests that a low heartrate run is good for fat burning and general improvement (while I'll be slow now, as I become accustomed to it, it'll get faster and faster at the same low heartrate, is the principle), I still remember the maxim 'if you train slow, you'll run slow'. So I felt it was time to shake off the cobwebs after quite a few low HR runs recently.

Today I went for the Hammersmith - Putney bridge loop, running a slow 1km warmup run, then going into a 5x1000m cruise interval run, with 1 min running recovery in between each. It felt great - most of the time I felt like I was in control of my breathing, in fact I was going faster than my running calculator suggested (was supposed to be around 5:00/km rather than 4:50/km). Looking at my heart rate it seems I recovered into a lower zone in time for the next interval, and I felt I maintained a fairly consistent pace and exertion, without dropping off too much towards the end.

Would be interested to do a bigger interval set in future, and also to try the tempo intervals (e.g. 3x3000m, with 5 min rest, but that's almost a long run for me at the moment - won't be in six months time, of course!).

Anyway, good to know the trainers are broken in, although should note a small amount of stiffness on the top of my right knee - worth keeping an eye on.

Running in the rain

Lovely 10 km run tonight, Hammersmith to Chiswick Bridge circuit, rained most of the way around. The cooling rain certainly allowed my pace to be faster while maintaining a low heart rate. Lots of splashy puddles to avoid, made my new shoes a bit muddier but it was nevertheless very fun. Luckily I'd thought to take my run cap today in case of rain - but if I'd known how bad it was going to be, I might have taken my trisuit, my clothes got so wet (luckily the run top behaved very well in the wet - it just stuck to me rather than rubbed).

I thought the rain had slowed after I showered and changed, but then it got heavier and heavier and I probably got more soaked on the way home than on the run.

Tricky training weeks

I have three classes of tricky training weeks (weeks where it's tricky to get training in, rather than weeks where the training is tricky)

  • Holiday
  • On-call
  • Staff Training

It's easiest to decide to have a rest week when holiday gets in the way - I'm not an elite athlete, and resting for a week won't damage my progress too much. Sure, if I can get a swim or a run in, then I will, but I won't beat myself up about missing training.

For on-call, it can be tricky as I can't really go more than 15 mins from home, so run or bike laps would have to be quite close to home. During the week I can work at the office or from home when on-call - I find it easier to think at home, and easier if there are meetings to be in the office. When scheduling allows, therefore, running at lunchtime can be done from home, swimming at lunchtime can be done from work, and cycling will have to end up on the turbo at home. I can optionally go to the gym for strength work or to use treadmill or exercise bike, but typically I'll get more benefit from the turbo at home.

There seem to be a few longer spinerval DVDs (including one three-DVD set that covers a 5 hour session!), which I might have to invest in for when I'm doing much longer bike sessions. At the moment 45 mins does me in!

When I'm training people, it's typically at Wembley or Fulham football stadiums. While you might think that they'd be easy places to get exercise in, they don't seem to like you running on the football pitches, and I've not found showers that aren't for players only (although I should ask if there are showers people can use). I could cycle to them to get some exercise in, and I could run at lunch, but that's no use without showers. At least at Fulham it's easy to run home or go for a swim on the way home. As I do longer mid-week runs, running home from Wembley might seem a reasonable choice!

Ready for London

Had a couple of great training sessions recently - a fun fartlek session after forgetting to charge my watch, anti-clockwise loop to Barnes Bridge and back. Varying the pace really made me feel like I was getting a proper workout.

Yesterday headed to Richmond Park for a last long brick session - about 25km on the bike (mostly aero once in the park) and then the 11km run loop, and then cycled home. All felt pretty good.

I feel like I'm actually ready for a race for a change, this one hasn't crept up on me. I won't be as fast as I could possibly be, my training regime hasn't been sufficiently consistent what with wedding and honeymoon etc, but at least the last three weeks have been good.

After yesterday, I think my realistic bike split is more like 1hr40 (i.e. 2:30/km) - to get my goal of 3hrs total probably requires it to be nearer 1hr20 (2:00/km).

0:40 + 0:07 + 1:40 + 0:03 + 0:55 = 3hr25, but with some time shaved off those, hopefully I'll get down to 3hr10. Dream would be 3hr00 though!

Running plans

I have finally sat down and worked out my running schedule, so that I know at exactly what pace I should be running at during which sessions.

My plan is to have two Stamina runs and two Endurance runs per week. The endurance runs will be one easy run and one long run, the stamina runs will be one steady state run and either a tempo run or tempo intervals.

I'm currently running too fast during the tempo intervals - this means that either I need to slow down, or that my target pace is too slow - I'm calculating all of my paces from my October half marathon, nearly six months ago, so I will do another race to see if I've gained any speed. I plan to do next Saturday's parkrun in Richmond Park.

I acknowledge that I'm unlikely to achieve 4 runs every week - however, I'd rather aim to do four and achieve three, than aim to do three and achieve two, which is what I'm currently managing. It's time to get those weekly miles up ready for race season.

Into 2009

As 2009 starts, I'm happily keeping my training on track - this blog is probably the most neglected aspect of my triathlon work at the moment. While training logs are important, I'm just getting out there and doing it, and then forgetting to write anything about it!

Last week I went for my first fitness session with Swim for Tri at Kensington Pool (far north Kensington, it seems, near Latimer Road tube). I had serious doubts about my ability to swim for an hour and a half, but it was an entertaining session, and I wasn't the slowest or the least fit, so I'll be happy to carry that on. I have trouble maintaining the discipline in swimming, as it's so easy to stop, or not quite do as many lengths in a row as you planned. I think the next focus of my stroke will be The Catch, so I'll look at the drills for that for tomorrow's swim.

Yesterday I picked up my new mountain bike (Specialized Rockhopper Comp 2009), and took it from the bike shop in Fulham for a circuit of Richmond Park. I nearly gave up tired, but popped a couple of strawberry Clif Shot Bloks and carried on - after that my motivation returned. My GPS decided to crash yesterday, so I have no record of the ride, other than it took me about an hour and a half from Barnes Green up to Richmond Park, round and back home. Rather than my usual road cycle route, I took the offroad Tamsin Trail around the park - great fun, although nearly an early crash as I went down a particularly muddy and slidy downhill tree section. I'm having problems with the inside of my left knee when really having to mash the gears - on one of the hills I had no choice but to mash even in first gear, and that hurt a little, so I'm hoping to get it checked out shortly.

Tonight I took my Petzl Myo for a test run, doing Hammersmith Bridge to Chiswick Bridge almost entirely in the dark - there was a reasonable amount of ambient light, but I was glad of my headtorch at times! I had my reflective arm strips and a rear flashing LED to increase my visibility, there were plenty of almost black cyclists about, although there were also a few that lit up like a Christmas tree in my full beam!

I have also started on the weights, in part to try and build up some knee strength, as well as improve my upper body strength. Hopefully I'll see the benefits. I might look into some ski specific exercises too as my knees were certainly hit hard last year, I'll hope extra strength, lower weight and better technique will all combine to prevent too much pain!

On Sunday I'm off to my first outdoor swim session, a training session with Olympic openwater swimmer Cassie Patten, arranged by the Outdoor Swimming Society at London Fields Lido. One of my minor New Years resolutions is to do at least different five outdoor swims (excluding triathlons).

My next race that I've signed up for is now in March 2009. This will be my first multisport effort, an offroad duathlon.

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