The Season Begins…

Finally it is here. The season has started and I already find myself nearly two races in. I write this after my season opener sprint distance event at Eton Dorney for the All Nations Triathlon. This I do every year to dust off a few cobwebs, test new gear and get back into racing mode. An update on this later. I’m just about to complete the Outlaw half this weekend coming – the second time I have completed this race. Both are a week apart and it has been a ?????? start to the season. Why the question marks? Well I think I will answer that one after the Outlaw. Remember that statement! Let’s revisit it after the Outlaw.

I’ll use the blog to update on a few other things also, such as the coaching project with Miia and her first race.

Fitness wise, I’m good. The numbers are good, especially in the pool. I think this is finally starting to show in my open water swimming and something I have struggled to transfer across in the past. I’ve managed a few niggles and things this season (as always) and believe I’m probably fitter than ever. So as I entered my first race of the season, it was going to be a good insight to where I was but also how hard/easy the effort felt.

It has certainly been a cold start to the season. I managed to get an open water swim the week before the Tri with Sarah and Miia over at Upminster. Water = 13.6c. At Eton there was no improvement. Water 12.6c! Colder still, and it felt it when we got in. So how did the race pan out? Well, I can sum it up in a few words… Great swim, terrible transitions, mediocre bike and great run.

Results:

I actually completed it in the exact same time as last year – 1:11. No improvement you may think? Well when you look between the lines there was actually. My swim was under 7 mins for 400m – the timing mat is situated way after the swim exit hence the time difference. That to me is a massive improvement. I think I believe in myself a little more in the open water. I finally believe I can sustain the paces I set and not blow out my arse half way through. I’ve always started cautiously and saved probably too much in the swim tank. I started right at the front of my wave and had the cleanest swim I’ve ever had in a triathlon. No bumping, people swimming next to me or touching me in any way at all. My wife watched from the sides and caught me exiting the water somewhere out in about 4th from the wave start.

The swim at Dorney was bloody freezing and my hands were so cold I couldn’t get the wetsuit off. This carried on throughout the bike and into my feet, as when I got off, they were like two blocks of ice and I could not feel anything until after the first lap of the run! Plus – add on trying out shoes attached to the bike for the first time which was interesting. It took me a lot longer getting into them on the bike then I thought, so more time lost. I still need practice at this. I ran really well off the bike considering the numb feet. The 4:23km average for the 5K was easy. It’s always good to try and find another athlete to run with which I did through a GB age grouper. I only wish now I went a little harder as felt I had more in the tank.

Anyway I’m not going to delve too deep into this triathlon, as like I said, it is more for me ironing out issues and enjoying it really. The real test for me is the Outlaw Half. More on that in the upcoming post.

The new gear I tried out above

As mentioned earlier, it was Miia’s (who I have been coaching since winter) first triathlon and one she was looking forward to, but obviously a little apprehensive about. She performed really well and overcame some open water fears and came in at 1:22. In-fact, her words were ‘I loved it.’ It must be noted that Miia had quite a bad bike accident a few weeks ago, fracturing her cheek and hurting her shoulder. Luckily she managed to get herself back together for this and had enough time to recover. Her training took a little backward step – quite obviously and with good excuse. She is more or less back on track now and with a few tweaks to her plan, she will be in good shape for her A race. We spent the following day getting in one last long ride for me – a nice 63 miler out to Hanningfield Reservoir.

Miia’s friend also did her first triathlon. All pics were captured by my wonderful wife and her super photography skills!

I have entered a taper week now as I prepare for war with my body on Sunday. I just hope the weather holds and the lake warms up a little! The next post from me will be on the Outlaw half. So check back for the read on that.

Training Updates and Periodisation

 

Here we are 6 weeks into training and 12 weeks out from my first A race – The Outlaw. I thought a brief update would be good to provide for the regular readers, so here it is. Below is a snapshot of my current fitness numbers.

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Current Fitness Levels

They are generated through my premium Training Peaks account. If you not aware of Training Peaks and the numbers above, they’re quite simple to understand. The main number (middle number) is my current fitness. How can you put a number on fitness you may think? Well Training Peaks does, and they do it very well through its calculations based around your training and stress scores placed on the body. I’m not going to go into that. If you keen to know more, then head over to their website as it explains it all.

My Fitness 6 Weeks Ago

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This was my fitness 6 weeks ago, which shows a remarkable improvement in a short space of time. The other numbers are useful as well.  The fatigue number tells us how much you are currently carrying, which changes constantly and allows to spot for injury, but also ensure we have recovery built into the programme. The longer the training goes on, and that number will increase over time. This is why recovery days and recovery weeks are so important when training, as we want to reduce this number and back off a little each week. This means we can usually go into the next week feeling a little more refreshed than we ended it. It affects the form number also which is a measure for how race ready you are. Most athletes will want to be somewhere between -5 and 10. This number also increases negatively the more tired you become. Reduce fatigue, and form improves. I’m not too concerned with this number at the moment and it will become more important as we get closer to racing as we look at a taper.

Currently I am scheduling a recovery week every fourth week into my plan. My fatigue levels at the end of a block are somewhere between 110-120 by the time I get to a recovery week. When the recovery week is complete they are back down to 20-40ish.   My aim is to get the fitness number somewhere around 100-110 for the Outlaw and then push it up a little further for Ironman Vichy. This will be difficult and a challenge over the summer holidays!

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Training so far has been going fairly well. I passed a major test two weeks ago when taking on the Olympic Park half marathon. I haven’t run that sort of distance in ages and I have only managed to get up to 8 miles in the first base block. The foot was absolutely fine only biting a little in the last mile. I must admit I felt ok throughout that race and took it easy for 7 miles or so running at 8 min miles.  I haven’t run 8 min miles for ages either! All base training has been Z2 which currently equates to about 9:10-20 min miles.

This race was my only long workout of the week as it was at the end of my recovery week. I put in a little dig mid way through the race and upped my pace to 7:30 min miles and sustained it for around 3 or 4 miles.  Towards the end of the race I did feel like I was blowing a little and the lack of mileage showed at that point. I came home in 1:45, so at this point in the season I cannot be more pleased.

I did have a little stiffness in the knee and foot next day so thought better to take the running down a notch and allow time for some rest. It has been fine though and I’m now back at it!

Why periodisation? Why is base building so important?

People underestimate the need to periodise their training. What do we mean by this you may ask? Well it is simply breaking the training into chunks that have specific goals to each. I’m currently still in the base building aspect which mainly focuses on developing the endurance engine. It’s an incredibly important stage and so often many people neglect it.

Once there is a solid base to work from, we can really start to develop other parts of the cardiovascular system. This means we now start to enter a build phase in the training where we may be focusing on building strength or increasing our threshold in each discipline. The intro blog video above details a current focus of mine in building bike strength in the legs. Although still in my base phase, we can still add some specifics to workouts and focus on things that need developing.

A recent Instagram Post

I certainly feel more dedicated this year. That’s not to say I wasn’t last year, although I was certainly less structured and racing far too much what with 10ks, half marathon, marathon all before even any triathlons. My build up this year to my first triathlon will consist of just two half marathon races and that is it. I’m really looking forward to the my  first sprint race and it still seems so far away!

Ok, I said this would be brief and I’m going to wrap things up there. I’ve recently been posting daily updates on Instagram so do head over there and give me a follow – Tri.To.Be.Iron. I’m always interested to hear people’s thoughts and comments so please like, share or get in touch.

Next update will probably be after the 8 week testing and where I will take on the Big Half in London. I will report on my 400m and 1000m swim time trail and my FTP result along with some detail into the training focus for the next few blocks. I’ll also be posting an update to the coaching project with Miia as she will close out her first 8 weeks and take on the testing again. All in all, a busy few weeks ahead and all this to juggle with a busy term at work!

Please like, share or comment….Check back soon!

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A Daddy and Daughter Training Day!

 

 

 

 

The Outlaw Half

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Booked last August as a back up to Ironman Staffs incase I didn’t get in, months of training for this (my B race) and eventually it had come around. I have finally made my debut at the middle distance and most importantly, completed it.

The Outlaw has a great reputation and won numerous awards for being a great event that is well organised. It didn’t disappoint. I arrived in Nottingham the day before around 1:00pm and picked up my registration bits and pieces and also attended the race briefing. This was certainly worth doing as there were a few questions I had beforehand that needed answering!

The weather on Saturday was biblical to say the least. Heavy showers all day, but the forecast for Sunday was dry and warmer by midday. In-fact, for once the weather forecasters had it spot on. All the rain had made the ground around the hosting venue (National Watersports Centre) quite boggy and as some of the run was along gravel paths, these were a little muddy in places. Once i had everything I made my way to my hotel and got my kit ready.

I stayed in a hotel in Nottingham City Centre (St James Hotel) although this time on my own. It was unfair dragging the Mrs and daughter to this one as the 3:00am wake up was a little too much. My wave started at 6:15, so overall a fairly early start to say the least. A early night with dinner in the hotel and a small treat…

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When I arrived at the venue, it was chilly to begin with, but the sun was certainly rising.

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At the previous day’s race briefing, they warned of the sun rising on the horizon into which we would be swimming and to use tinted glasses. This is my first rookie mistake – I hadn’t brought mine. It made the swim incredibly difficult to navigate although it meant me following and checking on other competitors as a guide. Not ideal, but it worked. Once I found some open water I was able to get into my stroke and swam really well. I was done and dusted for 1.2 miles within 35 mins, and when I hit transition it was pleasing to see so many bikes there. I knew I had a good swim. Some of you may remember in the last post that I had made predictions about each discipline of my race and my swim time was more or less bang on.

Out onto the bike and I felt good. My avg speed for the first 1/2 hour was 19mph and was hoping to keep between 17-18mph for the whole bike section. I believe I would have done this if I didn’t have to stop three times!!! All simply because my hydration system wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t allow me to suck fluid up. I worked out the the tube angle has to be in a correct position, albeit a little too late as this was near the end. It cost me a lot of time. The other small issue I faced was with my Di2 shifter coming loose on the tri-bars. The roads, in my opinion, were awful. Surface was pretty poor and the only downside of the race for me. So all the juddering and shaking made my shifter come loose. Luckily I noticed and fixed it whilst on the third stop.

There were a few more rookie mistakes here also. I should have worked out why the hydration system does this as it did happen on a training ride a week or so back. In hindsight, I would have set it up properly. Another mistake was not drinking enough, but again due to hydration system. I should have stopped and fixed sooner as I ploughed on for 10 miles with no drink before doing it for the third time. I also popped a salt tab here as well to get a lot into the system quite quickly,

There will be changes I make to my nutrition and hydration plan in future events. I didn’t open any food prior to the race and did this all on the bike. Wrong move! It takes too long doing it and you lose a lot of speed and time. Next time I will plan to possibly break it up and have it in small bitesize chunks ready to just pop into the mouth.

The Run

This part of the race was the bit I feared the most. Not because I can’t do it, but because of the injury issue going on with my knee. Anyway – it was there and stabbing me on an off for 15k! I’m not sure what happened after that as for the last 6km it didn’t give me much trouble at all. It was almost as if it had said, ‘Well sod you then if you are not going to stop.’ I felt good for the first 10km of the race although a little held back due to the injury. To be honest I just wanted to be able to run and get through it. The second half was a  slog, and warm too. A little sunburnt towards the end also. I did it though and I can now say I have a middle distance event under my belt.

I apologise for the lack of photos for this blog post. That’s usually the wife’s job, so as she wasn’t with me there aren’t many I’m afraid.

Anyway i hope you enjoy the read…a little rushed with the write as I’m so tired and now going to bed.

Finish time I hear you say?….6hr 10 mins. One thing I do know now…I think barring injury and bike issues, sub 6 hours is easily on the cards.