Monday, 30 August 2010
Monday – Run 1 15.00mi/24km
The first run of the week and I was keen to get going, using the Wycombe Half Marathon course as a template for my route, I set off at IM race pace (6:51/mi) and felt comfortable for the duration. Towards the end, I began to feel an all too familiar sensation of tightening on the outside of my left knee, a brief stop to stretch out my quads and hamstrings and the tightness subsided leaving me to finish the run in relative comfort.
Monday – Run 2 5.39mi/8.7km
Having arranged a ride for Wednesday with Russ, I wanted to get a few miles in the bank in the event I was too knackered to run off the bike. So a quick gallop around The Rye bought my Monday total up to 20.39 miles leaving just 79.61 miles to go.
Tuesday – Run 3 16.38mi/26.36km
I had intended to use my regular long run route for this one and was going to be joined by my friend Alex, riding his MTB to keep me company and carry some fluids for me. However, all did not go to plan as Alex called me to explain that whilst changing a puncture on his bike he'd managed to somehow buckle his wheel quite badly?!?! Since a large percentage of the planned route was off-road it wouldn't allow him to ride his road bike so, I quickly planned a new route using some of the quieter roads so he could still ride with me. Heading out towards West Wycombe, I began to see the error in my hasty planning as I began to notch up what would be 1,053ft of climbing by the end of the run.
Wednesday – Bike with Russ 124mi/199.56km
As I had called the first route we rode together it seemed fitting that Russ should choose the second, nearly 7 hours after leaving the house I was riding home soaked to the skin muttering under my breath about the insane distance I'd just ridden! On a positive note I later learnt that Russ had punctured shortly after we parted company so not all bad!! By the time I had gotten home my run mojo had vanished so I decided to drink coffee and sit on the sofa instead.
Week to date: 36.77mi leaving 63.23mi to go...
Thursday – Run 4 15.12mi/24.33km
By choosing not to run the previous day I had left my self a daunting challenge of running a minimum of 15.8mi for the remaining days. I felt the safest way to tackle this was to run twice a day, 1 longer run followed by a shorter 'recovery' run to give me the desired mileage by the end of the week. Through the course of the week so far I seemed to be absorbing the miles well and the average pace from this run (6:40/mi) confirmed that I was still going strong.
Thursday – Run 5 5.42mi/8.72km
For my second run I followed the same route as Monday's second run, my legs we're feeling quite heavy for this one and I kept looking back to see if I was inadvertently towing a car behind me! As I ran the final stretch to home, my legs began to ease up and I started to flow and feel relaxed, pity I was at my doorstep!!
Friday – Run 6 10.76mi/17.32km
For the second time this week, I was joined by my friend Alex, but this time he would be running not riding after I had assured him that the purpose of these runs was about distance not about speed we set off. I must confess I enjoyed having someone with me again, and we chatted as we ran, as we approached the 6 mile point, Alex's recent injury and subsequent lack of run training meant he was finding it hard going so we agreed that he would slow down and jog and I would do a few laps of The Rye to make up my mileage.
Friday – Run 7 5.41mi/8.71km
I decided to keep the second run of the day a constant route as, by this stage, I wanted to know exactly where I was in mileage terms and how far I had left to go. I was beginning to find the week hard, not just physically but mentally too.
Saturday – Run 8 10.25mi/16.50km
With a 6 hour shift at work today, I had to get out the door early to give Helen a chance to get to the gym before I went to work, using my alarm clock which also doubles as my daughter I was up at 6:30. I woke with the feeling that I was about to go down with a bug and since Isabelle had had a cold all week I knew the likely source! Still, no time to mope, I got out the door and started off. I found the first few miles pretty tough going as my legs we're a little tender but I soon settled into a comfortable pace which would see me run an average 6:29/mi pace.
Week to date: 83.73mi leaving 16.27mi in keeping with Russ' original Lydiard inspired week that left one long run to finish the week...
Sunday – ZERO – SICK AS A DOG!!
I didn't do it, I never achieved the 100 mile target. But I don't feel bad, I have learnt that I am able to absorb a significant amount of run training without serious negative effect, and as I write this my legs feel good, actually they feel great. The process of over-reaching on my run training has had a positive outcome despite a bad end to the week. Will I attempt it again? Probably not. Will I run 80 miles in a week again? Yes, very much so! By blind luck, I think I've stumbled on my magic mileage!
Monday, 23 August 2010
A practice that’s on the increase, especially with Professional Triathletes, is a liquid only fuelling strategy whilst on the bike. With athletes obtaining all the calories and nutrients required from fluids with a few additional energy gels are carried just in case the athlete feels in need of a few extra calories.
But for those of us not lucky enough to have Nutritional Supplement endorsement deals, is it a viable option whilst racing an Ironman?
Firstly, let’s look at what is available to athletes at aid stations at an Ironman event, in the UK we are given the choice of Gatorade and water distributed in 700ml bike bottles (handy if you have a compact or small frame!!) as our fluid options and Powerbar Performance bars in various flavours as our ‘solid’ fuel. The run course aid station menu’s are slightly larger offering Powerbar Gels, again in various flavours, Gatorade, Water, flat cola and bananas. You will also have the option of your ‘special needs’ bag should you require any additional items.
So let’s look at the nutritional values of the items available on the bike course:
Calories per 100ml/100g
Powerbar Performance Bars
In a 700ml bike bottle there is potentially 742kj or 175kcal. The bars are always handed up to athletes cut in half, each full bar weighs 60g so the calories available from 30g (half a bar) is 458kj or 124kcal.
Let’s assume that the average athlete will require in the region of 3,000 to 4,000kcals for the bike section of an Ironman so an athlete would have to consume between 300 to 750 kcals per hour based on your size, racing experience, training, weather conditions, and food tolerance whilst exercising.
Following a fluid only nutritional strategy would require between 1.3 and 3.2 litres of fluid per hour of competition, if only using the provided fluid option of Gatorade. When we consider what is required to stay hydrated during competition you should be aiming to drink 150-250ml every 15 minutes to offset fluid losses which would equate to only 1 litre of fluid. Now, I’m sure I am not alone in not having a bladder the size of a space-hopper so to effectively fuel on fluids only isn’t looking like a great option if you rely solely and what is available at aid stations.
There is also the potential threat of Hyponatraemia which can come from excessive drinking, firstly, urine production is decreased during excercise which seriously limits the body’s ability to excrete excess fluids and secondly, sodium is lost in sweat making it easier for what sodium is left in the body to become diluted. In milder forms Hyponatraemia causes bloating and nausea, and in more serious cases can lead to headaches, confusion, loss of coordination and even death.
So is it possible to fuel an Ironman on only fluids? Well, yes it is as long as the fluids you are consuming have a higher concentration of calories available. But if you’re reliant on aid stations this will not be the case and a nutritional strategy based upon fluids and performance bars should be employed to ensure you can go the distance.
Friday, 20 August 2010
The thing with living is that life often gets in the way, especially when it’s something you really, really want to do! Like most full-time age groupers and indeed some professionals in order to make ends meet I have to work, and occasionally like last week, the opportunity to put in a few more hours and earn a little extra presents itself.
Triathlon is an expensive sport, not just race entry fee’s but even the training can be expensive, with pool costs, consumable equipment (tyres, tubes etc.) and sports nutrition products forever munching away at your hard earned pennies.
We all know that training for any endurance event is time consuming, the very nature of the events dictates it, but what happens when you can’t put the desired time in? How do you feel about having to miss a week due to work or family commitments?
But forced rest periods don’t have to be a bad thing, by using the time constructively by, for example, reviewing season goals or allowing some aches or niggles the chance to recover you’re more likely to return to training with your ‘mojo’ cup brimming over.
This week, I’ve hardly done any training of real significance, last Sunday after my Dad had departed, it was a family trip to IKEA to buy some flat pack Swedish crap that I’d been promising for months but kept putting off, I was lucky that between getting back and heading out for Sunday lunch with Helen’s parents I was able to get a session in on the Turbo, one my favourite workouts when time is at a premium is following a 10 min warm up I spend 10 minutes at threshold pace followed by 2 minutes rest, then 8 minutes at threshold, 2 minutes rest dropping the time spent at threshold by 2 minutes each time giving the workout the rather unimaginative title of ‘The 10 to 2’ workout which if followed by a 10 minute cool-down lasts one hour.
But with my time seriously limited, I’ve been able to spend some time planning my training for the rest of the year, entering races and of course writing for this very blog. With Helen off on her summer holiday (she’s a school teacher) we’ve been able to spend some time in the gym training together, something we don’t often get to do. We put our daughter into the Sports Centre’s Crèche facility and get an hour in together before I head off to work.
So time away from training doesn’t have to mean time away from triathlon, whether its planning or preparing the remainder of your season or engaging in some light stretching or core work, applying the ‘Tetris’ principle and fitting things in where you can you will eliminate the frustration of not getting out the door.
Monday, 16 August 2010
Once I have arrived at the race venue and have registered my attention turns to my equipment and packing my transition bags, at both UK events you are handed three coloured bags, blue, red and white.
The Blue bag is for your bike kit and mine always contains the following items: Helmet, Sunglasses, Cycling Shoes and an Energy Gel.
The Red bag is for your run kit and I have: Trainers, Sock, a Visor and an energy gel.
The White bag is for the clothing you require once you have finished the event, as a rule I pack short’s, a hoodie, casual trainers and a Recovery Shake to drink (see previous blog).
Once the bags are sorted, it’s time to assemble the bike and check it’s still in working order. During transportation to an event, sudden braking or cornering may have caused things in your vehicle to shift around and hit your bike. A hard knock to the rear derailleur hanger for example can cause problems with gear changes, so it’s best to identify any problems early and if necessary make use of the official bike mechanics at the event. Prior to the event, I will have cleaned, inspected and serviced my bike to minimise the potential for a mechanical problem.
At this stage, I don’t worry about tyre pressure or placing energy drinks onto the bike, this can wait until the following morning, there is little point in inflating your tyres up to 120psi to find that the weather on race day requires you to run a lower pressure or worse the air has expanded within the tyre and caused the inner tube to explode. The same is true of energy drinks. On nearly all self-mix energy drink powders it will say ‘Once prepared keep cool and consume within X hours.’ Yet time and again I see athletes putting their drink onto the bike the day before in direct sunshine for, in some cases up to 18 hours before the start.
On race morning, I always follow the same sequence with my bike. Inflate tyres to a pressure appropriate for the course and weather conditions, place my energy drinks onto the bike and then with an old cloth wipe and moisture from my drive train (chain, derailleur etc) and re-lubricate. Even if it hasn’t rained overnight there is usually enough moisture in the air for a light dew to settle on the bikes.
Many athletes choose to rack their bikes with the shoes already located into the pedals, and this is an excellent speed tip, if you can do it! My partner, Helen, has seen on numerous occasions athletes falling foul of this technique and either falling off or spending an age trying to get their feet into the shoes. If you are going to use this method then practice, practice and practice some more until it is second nature. I personally choose to put my cycling shoes on in T1 and running in them to the mount line before clipping in, and since I do this every time I ride, I can do it without a fuss and pass many athletes still fiddling with their shoes once I’m off.However, at the end of the bike I remove my feet from the shoes and pedal last few metres with my feet on top of the shoes before dismounting, this allows me to run to transition barefoot and gives my legs a chance to adjust to running.
Once into T2 it’s socks on, trainers on and depending on the weather, visor on and off out onto the run course.
This is how I approach transition and it works, for me! At IMUK I had the 35th fastest T1 and 76th fastest T2 not world beating but not slow either, my fast, relaxed approach meant I was able to stay calm and focussed for the entire day.
Friday, 13 August 2010
After crossing the finish line at Ironman the first priority is oral hydration, even with the best nutritional strategy on race day you simply will not be able to replace all the fluids lost through racing. Since Gatorade is almost always on hand at IMUK the first thing I did was grab a couple of bottles before heading into the Athlete’s Only area to get a massage and collect my White dry bag containing a change of clothes and a Protein Shake to start the recovery process.
Walking into the massage area I was ushered to a table and told someone would be along in a moment, a rather strapping Sports Therapy student appeared and asked me what I would like to have worked on, with the hamstring cramping I had encountered during the run (see previous blog) I instructed him to get to work on the back of my legs. When working with a new Sports Therapist there is a period where both parties are learning about the other, the amount of pressure that can be comfortably maintained by the client for example. With my legs in a state of trauma thanks to the last 10 hours of racing, my allocated chap decided to go hard and go deep! I quickly ‘advised’ him to ease up on the pressure as I was tired and cranky and wouldn’t be held accountable for my actions if he continued in that way.
Massage over, I changed and headed into the food area to grab a handful of everything. I headed down the stairs in Bolton Town Hall and outside to a waiting Helen and we drove to the hotel. Once back in the hotel room, I filled the bath with cold water and stepped in. Ice baths are well documented for the aid to recovery and since I didn’t have one on hand this would have to suffice.
The next few days consisted of stretching and a massage with Cal Performance Massage with Cal. On Wednesday I regained the ability to negotiate stairs, up AND down, and Helen and I took our daughter up to the local pool for a swim and play about. I used the opportunity to have a good stretch out in the water and swam a conservative few hundred meters.
By Thursday, the 4th day after the event, I was feeling like a ride. A phone call to my riding buddy and friend Dave ‘Optimus’ Priem and it was on for later that day, we rode a very casual 40mi joined by another friend Alex Irving, I was able to sit on their wheels and draft just keeping the legs spinning.
On Friday, I wanted to ride alone, and headed out for a quick spin. Keeping my Heart Rate low, I went out to just enjoy my ride and the stunning scenery that the Chiltern Hills provide, 20 miles later and I was back at my front door feeling very relaxed.
Saturday and Sunday, I treated myself to two further complete rest days as I was working and a few cheeky beers. On Sunday evening I was itching to start training again, and felt I was recovered sufficiently to ease back into the swing of things, which, come Monday I duly did.
Monday, 8 days since IMUK, I headed up to the gym for some light cross-training, core work and stretching before jumping into the pool and swimming a very easy 2km. In the afternoon, I donned my iPod (something I don’t normally do) and went for a 5km run.
Tuesday didn’t go at all to plan! After breakfast, We headed into town to pick up a few odds and sods and came home with some flat pack furniture, 2 large mirrors and a whole bunch of stuff for the house. Being the man of the house, I promptly threw away the assembly instructions and began to build our new purchases and hang the mirrors, looking outside at about 3pm the rain was torrential and I decided I couldn’t be bothered with getting soaked on the 2 hour bike I had planned. I made the mistake of looking in the fridge and saw the beer I hadn’t drunk at the weekend...
10 days since IMUK and I had arranged to meet with fellow Ironman Triathlete, Russ Cox for a long ride, this was the first time we had ridden together and I found his company a pleasure, I lead Russ on one of my favourite training rides through the Chiltern Hills, chatting as we rode. By the end of the ride my bike computer had recorded 106 miles and my Garmin 405 had run out of batteries at about the 95 mile point. In hindsight a ride of this duration so soon after IMUK was too far, but on positive note, it showed I had great depth to my form that I was able to recover enough to complete it feeling strong.
I hit the pool again on Thursday morning for a steady 3km and in the evening hit the road with Dave for a 35 mile jaunt on the bikes.
As I write this, on Friday morning, 12 days since IMUK, I’m feeling a sense of annoyance with myself, I’m clearly in good form and it looks like I was still weeks away from my peak but I’m learning, this is still my first year at this Full-Time lark and next year I’ll develop and build from my successes and failures. After today, I have the weekend off, my Dad is coming to stay the weekend, and I’m looking forward to watching shrapnel fly as he repeats for the countless time his war stories.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
For many triathlete’s group riding can be a daunting prospect, firstly there’s the unwritten rules of etiquette when riding with a group accompanied by its own language of phrases and hand signals that can leave any newcomer bemused.
Group riding can be beneficial to any triathlete, the conversation and banter making even the longest winter training ride far more bearable, you’ll also benefit from tips and advice from more experienced riders.
In this blog, I’ll try to take some of the mystery from group riding so that you can turn up to your local club run with confidence and not live up to the ‘triathlete’s can’t ride in groups’ opinion of our roadie brethren.
Etiquette – the unwritten rules... written!!
· Relax – when riding as part of a group the more nervous you are the more likely you are to make a mistake.
· Communicate – You are responsible for yourself and the riders around you. Make sure you understand the meaning of any phrases or hand signals and be sure to pass them on.
· Hold the wheel in front– Drafting only works if your close enough to the back wheel of the rider ahead of you, leave too big a gap and your working just as hard and not benefitting. If you’re nervous about clipping the wheel ahead ride off to one side slightly, but don’t overlap.
· Braking – Remember that you will probably have riders behind you so slamming on the anchors will result in the rider behind becoming uncomfortably acquainted with your rear end, if you need to brake it should be done gradually and accompanied by a signal to alert other riders – think mirror, signal, manoeuvre without the mirror bit!!
· Take your turn – Nothing will garner more frowns and looks of disdain than a rider that constantly ‘sits in’ and doesn’t take a turn pulling on the front, even if you can only come through for 30 seconds it will be noticed.
· Half wheeling – This is the biggest no, no out-there! If you are riding double breasted, keep pace with the rider next to you. If you up the pace when the rider next to you draws level you will guarantee you will not be a welcome addition to the group.
· Aerobars – if you have aerobars fitted, a good option is to remove them, if your only steed is a TT setup then this won’t be an option, so don’t use them. Riding in a group on aerobars is almost certain to cause a crash as the time to get to the brakes is increased and you are less stable.
· Be a Boy Scout – and be prepared ensure your bike is in good working order, and you have any items you may require in the event of a mechanical such as a multitool, spare tubes, pump or CO2. If it’s a long ride make sure you have adequate nutrition and always carry some money for a cafe stop.
· Come through – this will always be accompanied by a flick of the elbow signalling its your turn to pull on the front.
· Hold the wheel – if you letting a gap open to the wheel ahead, the riders behind will prompt you to close the gap.
· Getting dropped – if you’re unable to hold the wheel ahead and the gap goes out due to the pace being too high you have been ‘dropped’. Most clubs have a rule about regrouping at junctions to allow for riders to catch up so don’t worry.
· Through and off or bit and bit – This is often associated with ‘chain gang’ riding where every rider comes through to take their turn on the front before peeling off and returning to the rear of the line.