Training diary – w/c 26 April

This last week marked the start of a new training block and also a 6-week build to my first major test of the 2010 season: Weymouth Middle Distance Triathlon, June 6th. So, I decided it was about time I posted a training diary again as it’s been quite a while. After the months of winter training, it’s starting to get serious: long long runs every week, plenty of 100+ mile bikes and some tough swim sets await!

Here’s what week 1 of this block looked like:

Mon: SWIM 45min aerobic swim

Tue: RUN 2hr, 16 miles @ 7.30s

Wed: BIKE 15 x 3min sub maximal / 60sec rec

Thu: RUN 1hr inc 20 x 30sec strides / 30sec rec

Fri: SWIM 3.2k (inc 6 x 200m @ 70%)

Sat: BIKE 95 miles, 5hrs

Sun: RUN 2h57, 22.5 miles @ 7.50 min miles (HR ave 140bpm <75% max)

Routine training

In search of a life/work/training equilibrium

For the majority of amateur endurance athletes, finding an effective balance between the desire to train hard (and the necessary time this requires) and all the other aspects of life that impose responsibilities upon is – perhaps – the hardest part of our sport. Work, family, friends; pool times, track club times, train times; wind, rain, snow. It’s tough. We look, listen and read with awe- no, with downright jealousy as the pros build entire days, weeks and months around their training. How we’d love to be full-time athletes: wake up; hit the pool; breakfast; out on the bike; lunch; rest; gym; rest; run; eat; sleep. How good would that be?

In 2009 I was fortunate enough to spend 7 months doing just that. Well, I didn’t quite reach the ‘4 sessions a day’ level…but I did manage regular multi-session days and to build almost every day around my training. Having been a mildly obsessed marathoner for 3 years, I was used to training daily. But transitioning into triathlon was made substantially easier by having ample time to plan and perform. I loved it. I think at one point I even convinced myself I was a full-time triathlete!

7.45pm, Wednesday Jan 13th 2010: “I’m sorry, er… the pool shuts at 8pm tonight. Er, yeah so the brochure is wrong yeah. And the website too. Yeah, 8pm tonight and 9pm…no wait, 9.30pm Monday to Wednesday, and then it’s different on the other days [pointing to the incorrect brochure]. And also the pool is half-closed on Monday and Tuesday for lessons and a club. Yeah.” Okay – I think – don’t get mad. I abandon the pool and head home; a hasty mental re-jig dominates my mind.

10.20pm, Wednesday Jan 13th 2010: I step off the treadmill – drenched in sweat – and towel down the machine, still clutching my iPod which ran out of battery 25mins ago. I peer outside as the heavy snow continues to fall in ever deepening flurries. Upstairs I lay on my mat and stretch out leg muscles that have spent 2 hours running. This sucks. I’m three days into my return to working life and already I hate it. 1h15 journey, each way (adverse weather conditions add to this). No time for dinner. 9 weekly training sessions, not including gym work. I’d honestly forgotten what this was like.

10pm, Tuesday 19th Jan 2010: I’ve decided this can’t continue; I need a routine. Outside – even – of work and social life, a triathlete still has to contend with pool and track availability, as well as locations to bike; and this challenge is magnified for those that live in big cities.

After careful perusal of leisure centre times, I’ve formulated what I hope is an easy, accessible and reliable routine.   The logic is that with a set routine I leave nothing to chance. When my coach sends me my 6-weekly blocks I know how to plan. When I have track work I know I can access a track. When a long and difficult swim set is called for I know I have the pool time and space. Naturally flexibility is required for when something crops up – that’s life – but with a routine (and easy options for modifications) I should have no problems getting it done.

Clearly a routine is no substitute for actual time. But having had unlimited time, I have a new-found appreciation for what all of us amateurs sign up to when we become endurance athletes. It’s extreme, and it takes real commitment, motivation and devotion. But if we can manage this, we can manage a little Ironman!

So let’s see how this works. Of course that does just leaves the snow!

Training diary: week 9

Fantastic week’s training; the final full week before the New Forest 70.3. Things kicked off with my first 3.8k lake swim – despite the cold, it went pretty well and has given me confidence in my swimming development. I followed this up with a reduction in lengths in preference for drills to keep loose and technique in tune. With the Channel swim looming large I also wanted to be fresh and ready to go, should the call come from Dover. Running has been improving; steady runs mixed with speedwork are my staple tapering sessions. And – further wheel problems notwithstanding – I also nailed a couple of good bike sessions to boot.

The only downer was bailing on a ride in the Chilterns with Al today due to knee ache; with one week to go I can’t be too careful so rest and icing was the sensible option. I can be confident that the hard training is done and it’s now just about staying loose, keeping the muscles sharp and the mind focused. Bring on race day!

Week 9 (w/c Sunday 6th September)

Sun: Aqua Sphere Long Swim 3.8k (Dorney Lake); Mon: RUN (1h30, steady); Tue am: BIKE (3h15, London Parks); Tue pm: SWIM (1hr, drills); Wed: SWIM (1h15, drills and lengths); Thu am: RUN (5min warm up + 5 x 1k /3min rec @ 5k pace + 3min warm down); Thu pm: SWIM (45mins, drills); Fri am: BIKE (1h45, N.London hills inc reps); Fri pm: RUN (1hr, steady); Sat: REST.

More Training Diary posts here.

Training diary: week 8

Downs Link Route

Running picked back up this week – thank God – after a few niggles. I’ve been staying down in Sussex and running on the Downs Link from Henfield. North to Southwater is pancake flat and good for long runs; South is my hilly route, and Bramber and back (6 small hills) is a solid 1hr run. The result is that my pace is improving within the 60-75% of max heart rate zone; and I also felt comfortable on today’s brick, running at 7.30s after 2hrs on the bike. Of course, if I want proper hills then Devil’s Dyke is the destination! (see week 7 cycling).

Week 8 (w/c Sunday 30th August)

Sun: REST (family event); Mon: BIKE (3h40, Devil’s Dyke-Cuckfield-Handcross-Billingshurst); Tue: RUN (1hr, steady with hills); Wed: REST (travelling); Thu am: SWIM (1hr, drills and lengths, London Fields Lido); Thu pm: RUN (1hr, steady with hills); Fri: RUN (1hr, steady); Sat am: BRICK (2hr bike, 20min run @ 7.30 min miles); Sat pm: SWIM (1hr drills)

 More Training Diary posts here.

Training diary: week 7

Excellent week this week. Very focused on the bike: tested my legs with hilly a route from my home in Henfield, West Sussex to Ditchling Beacon – 7 mins ascent and pretty easy now, after my sojourn in the Pyrenees! – then on to Devil’s Dyke, before heading out into West Sussex on a medium length loop via Handcross then back home. Monday was even better: mountain biking with my brothers down the Downs Link – a former railway line now a mixed terrain public footpath – then up Truleigh Hill and east along the South Downs Way. Great cross-training. Reps on Weds; somehow managed to miss Al – also doing reps on Regents Park and Swains Lane – but this 6/4 session felt great, and is an excellent way to tune up. I’ll be doing more of these as race day approaches. The foot is also feeling better; there’s still a bruise-like pain to the touch, but thankfully no adverse reactions to steady running.

Devils Dyke

Devil's Dyke, Sussex. An historic beauty spot with a good pub at the top; it can be reached by road from Brighton (to the South) or Poynings (to the North), or off road along the South Downs Way.

Week 7 (w/c Sunday 23rd August)

Sun: BIKE (2.5hrs, Ditchling Beacon-Devil’s Dyke route); Mon: BIKE (5.5hrs,  MTB ride Downs Link and South Downs Way); Tue am: SWIM (1hr, drills and lengths London Fields); Tue pm: RUN (1hr, steady); Wed: BIKE (2h20, 6 x Regents Park reps @ 85% max HR + 4 x Swains Lane hill reps); Thu: RUN (1hr, steady) ; Fri: SWIM (2.5k, The Triangle LC) ; Sat: RUN (1hr, steady with hills)

More Training Diary posts here.

Training diary: week 6

Good solid week, although Wednesday saw another slight injury arise: a bruise like pain in the metatarsal area of my right foot. Unsure whether this was just a knock, or something more tricky like ligament damage or – worse – a stress fracture. I decided to lay off the running for a few days and ice/apply ibuprofen gel. If it persists I’ll get it checked out of course.

Fortunately swimming and biking are unaffected. The good news was a noticable improvement at Tooting on Monday with three of my Channel Swim team mates – all usually quicker than me, but I found myself a lot closer and feeling far better in the water. Looks like the drills and technique work are starting to pay off; long way to go though.

Week 6 (w/c Sunday 16th August)

Sun: REST; Mon am: RUN (5mins warm up + 2x15min @ 10k-5k pace / 5mins rec + 5mins warm down); Mon pm: SWIM (pyramid 2/4/6/8/6/4/2, Tooting Bec Lido 90m); Tue am: BIKE (1h15, inc Regents Park Reps x 4); Tue pm: SWIM (1hr, drills and lengths, London Fields); Wed: RUN (1hr, steady); Thu: SWIM (pyramid reps 2/4/6/8/10/12/10/8/6/4/2 @ 80% max effort); Fri: BIKE (1hr); Sat: SWIM (2.6k, The Triangle LC)

More Training Diary posts here.

Training diary: week 5

Strange week. I started the week in Carcassonne recovering from a wedding and doing a little swimming. Once back in London, I went out for a long run, only to feel a knee strain after an hour and struggle through to 1h30. I dropped the run on Weds, but could still feel the achey pain during Thursday’s hour steady and – slightly – during Saturday’s brick. I was meant to be cycling the Woodcote sportive on Sunday but a broken spoke prevented this…, just to add to the week’s frustration. Going to put this week behind me and make sure week 6 is a quality one.

Week 5 (w/c Sunday 9th August)

Sun: REST; Mon: SWIM (40mins, Carcassonne); Tue: RUN (1h30, steady); Wed: SWIM (3.25k, Clissold Leisure Centre); Thu: RUN (1hr, steady); GYM (10mins skipping + 2 x static weights/core exercise set) Fri: SWIM (1hr, drills + 50m reps); Sat: BRICK (1h10 bike, 25min run)

More Training Diary posts here.