Exercise and Training – A Difference?

Welcome to the blog this month everyone. So there is a topic I wanted to address – one that I often get asked and is worth looking at. In this blog, which is also a vlog episode over on my you tube channel, I am going to try and explore the difference between exercise and training. You can access the vlog episode here, and this goes through many of the points mentioned below.

Why? Well I wanted to address a common question/scenario that many newbies face. Although this blog (and now the vlog) are there to document my journey in this sport, I also create the content to help other age group athletes.

So, back to that question – is there a difference between exercise and training? If there is a difference, then what the hell is it? I’d like to think I have enough knowledge and experience to share with you my thoughts and opinions around this topic…so let’s get to it!

The Athlete

I think the first place to start is with you – the athlete. So I want you to analyse and ask yourself – What type of athlete are you and where are you in your athletic journey? What do we mean by this? Well, this can be someone either new to the sport and may have just signed up to a race, or it could be a someone who regularly races and does this kind of thing. Maybe you’re in your 3/4/5 year of doing it. So think firstly about where you are in your journey and what experience you have.

Goals / Challenges / Categories

This usually works in relation to the experience of athlete. First we have the newbie and in terms of a goal, this could be just completing an event. This could be a challenge in itself. Then we have the next level. An athlete that has possibly completed the event or distance before and know they can do it. Usually their goals change…like wanting to go quicker and possibly break a PB. 

We then go into the more advanced/knowledgeable athlete. These are those that understand performance and training a little more and use this to achieve particular goals. I would class myself in this category. We can go up again here into the Pro/Elite field which gets even more scientific and takes into consideration natural talent. Although for this post, we are not really going to consider them.

Again, back to those questions…Where in your athletic journey are you, and what are your goals?

Why? Well for example, If you fall in the middle here and are fairly seasoned but wonder why when you target a race you don’t break a PB or you just get close..the likely hood is you are more often exercising and not training. Now I’m not saying that we will PB in every race we do, that’s just inconceivable. But mostly these athletes will reach a performance ceiling where results plateau or don’t improve. And there is a good reason for that…basically the exercise (or supposed training) has reached it’s limit. You see… everyone will improve to a point, but it is what we do after that to push ourselves further.

My wife will often ask me if I’m exercising in the morning or evening. My reply – yes I have a ‘training session’ to complete. You see in my mind there is a huge difference between training and exercise and therefore it is often worth noting what the difference is. At least then – particularly when we are training for something, we actually know why we are doing a particular exercise or workout for a specific goal. 

Exercising for pleasure and for health benefits is great. I can’t knock anyone that wants to do that. The benefits speak for themselves. I can’t knock the athlete who just enjoys running for example and entering races. They may not care about times and goals, but for them the enjoyment is the most important aspect and there is noting wrong with that.

For me, general exercise is something I do in my off season. I couldn’t not do something active. But, and this is important – training for something in particular takes a little more than just exercising and building fitness. True – most newbies will benefit hugely from doing that and will mostly be what they need. But go a little further and plan and think a little more scientifically – and my friends you are going into the world of structured training. Unlike exercise workouts, training sessions are meaningful and have purpose. The key word….structure. 

You can prepare for an event no doubt by swimming, biking and running a lot. But add some real structure and planned reasoning into the particular workouts to do and when to do them – then my friends you have that more structured and scientific approach. What does it mean – well you will no doubt perform even better then just completing the event. 

It’s so difficult for newcomers or those who have been competing for a few years without any improvement to understand why, when actually it just comes down to doing the right things at the right time and stressing elements of your body and engine. 

You see there are all sorts of training plans out there…Triathlon sprint to ironman, 5k to marathon. You look for it, you will find something. Are they any good? Well I suppose they serve a purpose, but they would not be what I use as they are too generic! Meaning they take no account of the athlete, their abilities, their experience and current levels of fitness. There is no baselining. 

You see we now start getting into the realms of how to structure training so it isn’t just exercise. And that my friends is a whole other topic. Trust me…look it up…periodisation, base, build peak blocks…all elements of a good plan. I’ve discussed elements of these here on the blog through older posts. It’s probably why a lot of people resort to getting a coach and taking away all that planning and thinking. For me, this is something I really enjoy doing and have learnt so much about myself. 

So guys, there you have it, my thoughts into the difference between exercising and training. It’d be great to hear your thoughts so please do drop me a comment, thought or opinion in the comments box. Get over to view the youtube channel and get subscribed! Speak soon!

 

From Blogging to Vlogging – A Change of Direction?

If you have come here looking for the blog this month then all I can say is prepared to either be disappointed, amazed or surprised. I don’t know how you will all take this, but I decided to vlog this entry over at YouTube on my channel. Do head over to see this month’s instalment clicking the pic above or this link.

Many of you will remember that I have wanted to try and do something like this for sometime and planned an entry on the triathlon plans in France. Unfortunately, I’m not there on holiday at the moment what with this damn situation going on. I certainly have a little bit more time on my hands recently and decided to do this month’s update via a vlog effort. I’m no professional video buff and hopefully you will all enjoy it – go easy on me!

Is it the end of the blog?

Certainly not! I enjoy the writing aspect and will complete a mixture of both. I do think it will add some variety though and possibly increase the audience reach a little more. I will probably supplement some of the vlogs with a written piece. Why? Well it’s only since editing it, you think of other things you could have added in or included and therefore I think a supplementary commentary sometimes may be needed. Anyway…the more I do on this, the more of an opinion I will form I guess. I’m currently planning future posts – both blogs and vlogs.

Competition Update – Last Blog

Oh and the other thing – the naming of last month’s blog. Well I gave it to two winners – No Rocket Scientist – ‘Anything but 2020’ and Andrew Gowland with ‘The here, The there, The now’. Only one can be added of course and this will be ‘Anything but 2020’.

Guys do DM me on instagram or contact me here with your sizes and address and I will send them out to you. Many thanks for participating.

So all there is for me to do now is shamefully plug the vlog video and hope you get over there and watch, like and subscribe. By subscribing you will be notified of future posts.

What to call this? Now… ‘Anything but 2020’

When deciding to write this blog entry, I was very unsure as to what to call it. There are a variety of themes running through it, which probably had something to do with the lack of inspiration for a title. So if you do have any ideas, then do drop them in the comments below (Competition – read on). Anyway I thought I needed to get on with a monthly update of some kind so here goes…

The Virus…

No I haven’t got it, but I think people are now feeling the effect of it in various ways and us athletes are starting to see the hit on our events. So many events out there have either been postponed or cancelled. Frustrating for lots of us, particularly with all the hard work that goes into the training side of things. My planned guest blog from our Marathon Des Sables participant (Sarah) has been put back a little due to the postponement of it. A real shame, as I think that would have been a fantastic experience to share with you, although it will come…eventually. I for one, haven’t as such had any events cancelled – yet. Although I have had a few emails from a few event organisers about possibilities and what would happen. I’m hoping (and praying of which I never do) that none of them do get caught up in this madness. The only saving grace is triathlon is summer based so I’m hoping that by then, we’ve seen the back of it.

Progress and Training

After a new bathroom install I’ve been working on, and a great few days in Lisbon (highly recommended) with my family, I knew my condition and overall fitness were good. I ran a very decent 5K over at Victoria Dock ParkRun in 20:40 in some incredibly windy conditions. It was pleasing to hit that and I’m determined to go sub 20 within the next few months. I use the ParkRun as a way of testing progress every 6 weeks or so and make it part of a longer run. I managed two runs whilst in Lisbon – a nice 7 miler followed by an 8 miler the next day. If you are after a few days break somewhere, Lisbon should be on your list….post corona maybe though 🙂

How many pastel de natas can one eat?

First Race…and injury

The last time I posted, I was heading into the Big Half in London. It was a chance to put a marker down for me and see where my fitness really was. I had a fantastic race, although there was a slight downer. I PB’d over that distance by some 5 minutes coming in a 1:36:50. To be honest, I had a little more to give, although I had to deal with an injury issue from mile 7 onwards. My achilles started giving me some pain, and we all know occasionally things can hurt during a run but they usually wear off. Not this. And it became stronger as the race went on.

Being a sensible athlete as I am, not only did I not stop, I also tried not to slow down. And you would think I have learned my lesson from previous experience? ‘No Danny, keep going’ I told myself. ‘Worry about it after’. It was only when I finished, I realised how sore it was.

To be honest, the pain was bearable enough to continue and the real issue was going up any little bump. I’m two weeks on now post injury, and after some initial swelling and localised pain, I think (and hope) it’s on the mend. I didn’t run for two weeks (ok exactly 11 days) and I have been quite conservative with training. In-fact the enforced rest has me feeling pretty refreshed and my biking and swimming are unhampered. I have since also completed a very small walk/run of around 4km with no issue, and then followed that with a 5K non stop. My plan is to keep it at 5km for a week or so every few days and build the load through it.

Me, Cousin Hannah and Uncle Mike all completing the Big Half

Will this hamper my GB age group hopes?

Well it’s difficult to say at this point, but I can’t see it helping. It will depend on how quickly I can get back to running and carrying out the tempo sessions. These are the sessions that have really made a difference in my running improvement this year. Yes they’re hard, but so worth it. I really do think that with a few more good solid months of training behind me, I could push for that 1:30 half marathon at some point. Consistency with running has given me this form; it’s just a shame I’m slightly hampered now.

As such, I will have to see over the next few weeks what my achilles allows me to do. What’s frustrating is that I have never had any trouble with it, nor any issues in training. I can only put it down to the lack of warm up and then hitting out quite hard. I have 8 weeks left until the Outlaw half. If I can maintain my run form and not lose too much fitness, I may have a good chance of laying down a reasonable time that could get me in contention. So we will have to wait and see I suppose.

What’s on the horizon?

A trip to France during the Easter holiday is planned, although we will have to see what happens with that. We are driving, so that makes things a little easier in terms of travel plans, but you never know with this virus what the governments may do. The plan for me is to take the bike and get some quality miles in the bank whilst out there. Hopefully this happens. We have some work planned to the house and outside and the start of an installation of a small pool. This will also mean the beginnings to sorting out the gym area. Vlog post is coming on this…I PROMISE!

Competition Time

I think that more or less concludes this update. As always, I really appreciate the reading, likes, comments and shares etc. Do not forget, if you need some quality sports gear, do give my sponsors SUNDRIED a look. Use my code DANNY for a great 50% discount. And…one last thing…the competition. I have some great cycling jerseys up for grabs. It’s quite simple to enter with a few simple steps. Here’s how:

  1. If on instagram, do give me a follow @tri.to.be.iron or give the blog a like and share through any social platform
  2. Enter your idea for title to this blog entry in the comments below or on my instagram blog post.

Winners will be selected by the end of the month. Good luck all!

Hibernation Over!

So I feel it is now the time to resurrect the blog from its winter sleep! Just like our tortoise, Rodney, the hibernation period is over. The time has come to update on progress and performance, but also on future plans – of which there are a few!

Winter is not my favourite time of the year, which I have probably passed comment on numerous occasions in various blogs. I am a summer and warm weather person and that is for sure. The slog of the cold miles and dark nights are a drag, although there is one plus – it is certainly an easier time of year to train to intensity. Quite simply, there is no heat to contend with when doing the intense workouts, which certainly makes them more manageable. I’m glad now that the light is starting to return though.

So what’s been happening with training my end?

After a consistent winter base building programme, I am now 14 weeks out from my first A Race – the Outlaw Half. I do have two smaller events lined up prior to that, one being the Big Half (March) and a sprint triathlon the week before the Outlaw. These are going to be markers for me to allow me to see what my fitness is like and what kind of shape I am in.

Overall I’m very happy at how things are progressing. I started my training earlier this year to give me that extra performance gain. I also wanted to take a longer base period and I think I’m on target to meet my expected Training Peaks CTL – somewhere between 95 – 110. Below is the last two snapshots I took of it a few weeks apart.

If you are unsure of what these numbers mean, I have briefly explained them in a previous blog found here. I have just got to keep moving that middle number up, but manage the fatigue and form along the way. Training is going very well and I just need to make sure I build in enough rest and recovery. The Big Half in a couple of weeks will give me a real good indication of my run form and this is certainly an area I have tried to be even more consistent with this winter. I will do a small taper before this event as I want to feel fairly fresh for it. Training for all three sports is tough and requires some bleeding planning I’ll tell ya!

TrainerRoad has been fundamental in my bike training and to be honest the structure has been excellent. I’m seeing big improvements in my bike performance, even though my weekly mileage and long rides are not where they should be. You see, that’s the thing with winter, is it can scupper those long Sunday rides and I for one have lost out on a fair few. I’m certainly not motivated to go out in the wind, and if it is raining before I go out – no chance! For me the risk of accident is far too great. It has meant a fair few Sunday rides on the trainer, but that can’t beat those outdoor rides. Mentally nicer riding outside and a much more pleasurable way of clocking up the miles and distance.

Race Calendar

Sprint Distance Triathlon9th May 2020
Outlaw Half 70.3 17th May 2020
Ironman Staffs 70.37th June 2020
Windsor Olympic15th June 2020
Ironman Vichy 70.323rd August 2020

This is definitely the most challenging race schedule to date for me. This year I will take on three 70.3 distance events, the most in a season before was two. I said I would never return to Ironman Staffs, and low and behold, here I go again. Windsor follows this on the very next weekend. Why am I doing this then? Well I love this race, and this year I will be doing it purely for enjoyment as my recovery from the weekend before will not be complete. Who knows what state I will be in, but I just couldn’t miss it!

I certainly will take a week or so off after and some rest before heading out to France to take on Vichy again. My calendar this year nearly looked very different. I was very close to signing up to Ironman Luxembourg 70.3 and the new event in Holland. I was persuaded (and there was some compromising) by the wife to do Vichy instead, however there is no way I will be in the same kind of early season shape after my summer holidays. I learnt that the hard way last year. Do have a read back at those previous blogs to find out.

Vichy Build Up / Vichy Part 1 / Vichy Part 2

My race calendar next year will certainly look different. I have always said I want to experience as many races as possible. I am starting to feel that I’m exhausting my list a little here, hence my thoughts to racing in Europe a little more. I most certainly will take part in a different race in 2021 on the continent and who knows, that could be in a GB suit!

Age Group Qualifying Contention

I’m certainly going to use this year as a chance to get as close to the age group qualification as possible. To be honest, I haven’t planned out my chances very well and realistically the Outlaw will be my best shot. It will certainly tell me whether this dream is possible or it is all just pie in the sky. The Ironman events are so competitive and I will most likely be physical shot by Vichy. There are only two or three real times you can peak for top fitness in a season. The two half ironman races in May and June will be my top end. It’s too difficult to keep hold of that level of fitness for so long. You only risk burn out and fatigue. I will almost certainly try and add another race to my schedule in July, but that will be at the Olympic distance. I just need to work out what race that will be. There’s a fair long lay off from Windsor to Vichy and I would like to feel that gap with a race before my holidays.

The age group qualification dream has been a big driving force for me this season. It is a long shot and I will need some luck no doubt, but to be even considering it, I think is an achievement. And believe me, this is not just some idea dreamt up that I have no chance of actually getting. I’m not that unrealistic! If I don’t achieve my goal, yes it will be disappointing, but I know that I will have put everything on the table in trying. I may get close. How close? Who knows? But will I be prepared to do it all again the following year? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing I am learning is that I seem to race faster each year, and it may be that this year is another stepping stone before actually accomplishing my goal. Only the season ahead will tell us, so let’s find out in the coming year.

What else is lined up?

We will have a special blog this year from Sarah Wixey, who you may remember completing a few triathlons and has written some guest blogs on here for me. She is taking on a incredibly challenge this year in attempting the Marathon Des Sables. If you are unaware of what this is, it is a gruelling multi-stage footrace across the Sahara Desert. Sarah has agreed to blog her experience. I possess a James Cracknell DVD of when he did – check it out! Bloody hardcore and fair play to anyone doing it!

And I promise I will complete that Vlog/Blog type effort on the triathlon plans for France. I’m keen to do it to document the process as this is all part of the journey. I am also considering next Autumn in taking on my triathlon coaching badges. This will be another step towards the long term goal of the camps planned.

I also planned to do another marathon this year – I hoped for and entered Berlin, meaning if I got in then that would also be on the cards. I was unsuccessful – again, although there is the idea in my head of the Bordeaux marathon in October. We are in France anyway as it falls during my half term and it is just a case of whether I enter it. We will see on this one!

So there you have it! This year has finally been kicked off and I hope to increase my readership of the blog even further this year. It always amazes me at how many enjoy reading this and ask about the next instalment. Please continue to share, like and comment. It is much appreciated!