Training diary: week 3

With the London Triathlon on Sunday I’d planned in a lighter week than usual. My main goal is the New Forest 70.3 so I didn’t want a proper taper; nonetheless, I want to be sharp and tuned up to put a good performance in on Sunday.

A favourite from my Mike Gratton marathon schedule is the 2 x 15min tempo session; it’s a great way to keep the body used to running quickly without pushing it too hard. The same evening I went to Tooting Bec Lido for the first time: 90m, 19-degrees; it’s a triathlon mecca with tens of athletes using the facility. I tested my new Orca Equip wet suit, then joined fellow Channel swimmers for an hour’s worth of full stroke sets. The remainder of the week has been sharpening sessions for each discipline and sufficient rest, making sure I’m in shape to perform on Sunday.

Week 3 (w/c Sunday 26th July)

Sun: RUN (1hr steady); Mon am: RUN (2 x 15mins / 5mins rec @ 10k pace, pace increasing to 5k in second 15mins); GYM (core and upper body workout); Mon pm: SWIM (3k in 2- and 4-length sets, Tooting Bec 90m Lido); Tue: BRICK (1hr bike, 15mins run easy); Wed: RUN (10 x 200m / 2mins rec @ 3k pace); Thu: SWIM (1hr drills and lengths); Fri: RUN (45mins easy); Sat: Rest day

Weeks 1 & 2

Core performance

I’ve been researching some strength and core building exercises for triathlon and came across this excellent source of information for all things exercise. As the site itself says, it’s packed with guides, programs, workouts and advice helping improve performance in sports and life in general. Exercises are accompanied by demonstration videos and topics cover everything from strength training and muscle building to energy systems and nutrition.

Core Performance

Check out the triathlon pages as a great starting point. And for the latest articles receive updates on twitter too.

Climb faster: the impact of power and weight

Le Grimpeur

I found this interesting article by complete chance on blog site Le Grimpeur. It talks about power to weight ratios in relation to climbing speed and ability. I recognised back in June that I needed to increase my power and introduced bike intervals as part of my training. My power – and climbing – has definitely improved as a result. But – as the new slim-line Bradley Wiggins has shown in the Tour –  weight is also very important. I’m currently 12-stone; I know I need to trim my weight over the winter, in order to generate greater power in triathlon time trials and also to raise my game in hilly to mountainous sportives. It will also be interesting to see what impact this has on my running.

Some tough training and nutrional analysis ahead.

Pyrenean Cols

Here’s where I’ll be cycling next week.

Pyrenees area map

I just need to decide which Cols I’m going to climb during my 4-day stay. Will it be the Tourmalet, the Portet d’Aspet, the Peyresourde, the Port de Bales, the Col de Mente? The names conjure up the myth and mystique of cycling and – of course – the Tour de France. It will be great experience, and a terrific mid-year training break ahead of the half iron. Can’t wait!

Col de Mente

Training diary: weeks 1 & 2

I wanted to add my training plan and diary – in the build up to September’s 70.3 – as an embedded feature on the Training Plans tab. Sadly I’m having issues with this function as my site is hosted, and the ‘help’ pages and comments haven’t actually helped at all! Instead, I’m just going to periodically post my training exploits for the 10 weeks to the New Forest Tri.

So, for the time being – in a wholly less dynamic format – here’s weeks 1 and 2:

Week 1 (w/c Sunday 12th July)

Sun: SWIM (40 mins, Southbourne beach); Mon: RUN (1hr steady); Tue: BIKE (2hrs inc sprint intervals); Wed: SWIM (2.5k, London Fields Lido); Thu am: RUN (12 x 300m @ 10K pace / 2 mins rec); Thu pm: GYM (core workout + upper body weights); Fri: SWIM (1hr, SFT coaching inc drills and lengths); Sat: BIKE (62 miles, Hell of the Ashdown route).

Week 2 (w/c Sunday 19th July)

Sun: Rest day; Mon: RUN (1hr steady); Tue am: SWIM (1hr, drills/technique work); Tue pm: RUN (5 x 1k @ 10k pace); Wed: RUN (1hr steady); Thu am: SWIM (3k, Clissold Leisure Centre); Thu pm: RUN (25mins tempo @ 10k pace + 10 x 300m @ 10k pace / 2mins rec); Fri: RUN (1hr steady); Sat: BIKE (70 miles, North London/Herts)

Tweet tweet

I love Wiggo’s twitter re Di Luca! His comment on the Cav:Thor bust up is intriguing as well.

I’ve been following Lance and Wiggins through the Tour, and have added Chris McCormack (pro triathlete) and Jenson (in case I can pick up any tri tips before next Sunday!) recently too. It’s great to get such insights into the lives of elite athletes.


Fast transitioning

Triathlon legend and six-time Hawaii Ironman World Champ Dave Scott gives his invaluable tips for making a faster transition…

Swim to Bike

Bike to Run

There are a host of other 5-minute videos on other aspects of the triathlon, such as finding your ideal aero position on the bike and tips for open water. Check them out.

Ashdown biking

Cycled this with Al on Saturday: it’s the route of the spring Hell of the Ashdown sportive.

Hell of the Ashdown

We started at Sevenoaks (train from Charring Cross) and headed north to join the route just after Chevening as it crossed the M25 where the first climb of the day kicks in. This ride takes in some lovely rolling country lanes and quiet roads through Kent and Sussex, with some challenging hills – including Toys Hill from the north side, Kidds Hill (aka The Wall), and Groombridge Hill – to test the legs. It took around 4h30 but, without time lost for a puncture, food and drink replenishment and some early difficulties finding the narrow turns, a sub-4hr is do-able. This is a highly recommended ride.

Tri gear in London

…the best sports shops, reviewed.

Part 2: SBR Sports, Fulham Road, London.

It’s amazingly difficult to find a top notch triathlon retailer in London. SBR Sports’ principal store is based in Windsor, and the Fulham branch is as good as I’ve found in the city so far.

Generally well-stocked with everything from wetsuits and tri suits to bikes and track pumps, the store caters for everything a triathlete needs for training and competing. The store’s two floors are bursting at the seems with gear; it’s the clothing department where SBR excels with an impressive range of all-in-one suits, tri-specific tops and shorts as well as generic training outfits. A slight disappointment was the shortage of wetsuits in stock: it is peak triathlon season and no doubt sales hit a high during the summer months; but then again it is peak season so surely now above any other period one would want a full compliment of brands and sizes. The window display of bikes draws you in, but not being a bike specialist the range is rather small – if it’s a tri bike you’re after then I’d go to Sigma Sport or Condor, personally. That said, SBR’s range of bike (and tri) accessories is second to none.

The all new Orca Equip has 1mm Yamamoto neoprene on the sleeves increasing comfort and flexibility. Constructed of durable, performance-quality HydroCell SCS neoprene, the Orca Equip gives the beginner the functions and features they need to improve their performance in the water.

The all new Orca Equip has 1mm Yamamoto neoprene on the sleeves increasing comfort and flexibility. Constructed of durable, performance-quality HydroCell SCS neoprene, the Orca Equip gives the beginner the functions and features they need to improve their performance in the water. SBR stock a good range of Orca wetsuits, and other top brands

Where SBR stands out is the service. It was lunch time and quite busy when I went in, yet there were 6 staff on hand and only too happy to help. Being new to triathlon this year I challenged them with the most elementary questions; patient yet informative, the guys steered me through the full range of gear required for my first triathlon with honesty and insight whilst resisting hard-selling to a rookie.

Now for a few downsides. Use of technology: non-existant; I let SBR off as they are a tri store and not a running specialist, but then anyone serious about one third of the triathlon needs to know they are getting the right trainer, period. I would always opt for a non-branded running specialist for an impartial opinion based on a gait scan analysis. Store style: this isn’t  a flagship branded store, so again I made allowances for this. In fact, this isn’t even the main SBR store. That said, the layout could be better with clearer item sections – I found myself up and down stairs numerous times; and only one changing room? seriously? – and the display designs were fairly unimaginative. Location: I know SW London is a triathlon hub, but if you’ve got a Windsor-based HQ, why not locate a store more centrally?

All-in-all though, SBR offers one of the best triathlon-shopping experiences around London.

Product range: 8; Customer Service: 9; Use of technology: 0; Store style: 7; Shopping experience: 9. Overall: 33.

Purchase? Yes, Orca Equip wetsuit and Orca tri top and shorts.

Part 1: Asics click here.

Back after the intervals

Interval training for distance runners


Interval training can be an extremely effective technique for improving your running speed. However, a common misconception prevails: they are only used to sharpen speed during a ‘peaking’ training phase. Interval training works both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. Utilised with care, running intervals early on in a training plan and at the correct pace can increase your lactate threshold, enhance your body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles, and improve neuromuscular co-ordination. This will enable you to maximise the effects of training through the ‘build’ phase of your program; I find it gets me running quicker within each heart rate zone and gets me tuned to my training.

“No no… I was not very talented. My basic speed was low. Only with willpower was I able to reach this world-best standard in long-distance running” – Emil Zatopek, the father of interval training.

There are four variables for intervals: 1/ itensity (speed) of workout; 2/ duration of work (fast burst); 3/ duration of recovery interval; 4/ number of repetitions. Treat the intensity of your workout with caution; set a pace that is just above your threshold pace and do not be tempted to run flat out. Threshold pace is typically defined as your 10k pace (see Lore of Running for more depth on training pacing). Note that during the peaking phase this is gradually increased to 5k and 1-mile pace to sharpen.

Try this great workout: 300m @ 10k pace / 100m or 2 minutes recovery. If you are new to intervals, start with 10 repetitions; more experienced runners can perform 15-20 repeats. Use the pace calculator to establish your target pace. If you’re using a heart rate monitor, your HR should recover to the 120s during the interval. Your local track is the ideal place for interval sessions; failing that, mark out the distance on a flat, smooth, quiet section of pavement or go to a nearby park.

I ran 15 reps at 1.06 per 300m – based on a 38 minute 10k time – with my HR around 165 during bursts. Note this is slightly quicker than my PB as I’m looking to carefully increase my pace. Running too quickly will not lead to noticable training benefits over 10k+ distances.