Saturday, 7 May 2011

New blog - The Endurance Experiment

Hey Everyone,

I've now set up a new blog called The Endurance Experiment .

This is where I'll now be talking about my training, races, thoughts etc.

Its still really new & I've got loads of ideas of where I'd like to take it.

Please come over and join in the fun .

There is also a Facebook page set-up - so again, please follow and join in .



Sunday, 5 September 2010

Developing the network support system

Afternoon All

It's pouring down here so I thought I would take the opportunity to post a few thoughts.

Since my last post on 'building strong roots' I'm really pleased with how these plans have gone.

Returning to swimming has breathed new life into me.

I often warble on about the whole lifestyle philosophy but it really does ring true.

Getting back into the discipline of early nights & early mornings gives me so much more natural energy.

Work permitting, I'm hitting the pool every week day morning and this is really paying dividends already.

The pace still isn't fantastic - although I did hit a few sub 1.35/100m on Tuesday - as part of the 30 x 100m set we were given.

However, my focus on improving my position in the water and holding / using my legs more effectively is starting to come along.

Don't get me wrong - it's not easy - my legs are hurting like hell at times as they struggle to stay high in the water and kick from the hip.

I've been doing a lot of swimming with the pull-buoy & band around the ankles - which helps get me legs higher and engage my core a lot more. Knowing what it should feel like to have my legs higher is helping me re-create when I've removed the pull-buoy from between my ankles.

The total volume is increasing and the swim fitness is returning. I'm no longer struggling to finish the session due to upper body fatigue as the strength is returning.

I now want to continue to improve my technique further by learning to tumble-turn WELL & also learn the other strokes - particularly back-stroke which will help with the high hips & legs chaLlenge.

I've got a pair of Speedo drag shorts which I'll be debuting tomorrow - again aimed at making things more difficult so that the technique has to improve for me to go faster easier.

It's almost like I want to make it as hard as possible for me to cheat so that I have to swim correctly if I am going to have a decent & productive session.

The mental freshness which swimming has brought me has carried over onto the bike - giving me a pick-me up and buzz about hitting the bike sessions on top form.

After a bit of post-France lull - not helped by the crash - I'm now really enjoying the riding again. The confidence has recovered from the knock it took after the crash and I'm now riding really well again.

Of course this is all in perspective, ie a top roadie would embarrass me silly but I can now hold my own when out on the local routes whereas in the past I would be spat out of the back on a regular basis.

We've had a few challenging rides of late - with the joys of the Cotswolds finest hills to take on - you get a good chance to test yourself on some brutal 25% climbs as well as some longer drags.

Of course, my definition of a longer drag has changed since France. When a long drag is a 30km long drag!

Naturally my confidence on riding uphill has increased significantly which is resulting in me climbing better than I ever have.

So swim & bike are a real source of pleasure at the moment - but what about the run?

Not a lot to say to be honest - as I haven't been doing a lot of it - as my run mojo has disappeared for now.

The run sessions I've enjoyed lately have been the shorter sessions which focus on intervals or technique.

My focus for the run over the next few weeks will be to run consistently again. Only shortish sessions - with technique and form as the priority. I'll be using the Vibrams & Newtons to help freshen me up & focus my mind a lot more than just churning out Km after Km.

It's 3 weeks today that I go over to Kona so will look to get the swim in half decent shape & the run into a condition where I can use the time in Kona & training partners to get me into half-marathon PB shape for when I return in mid-October.

Getting the TRX system was an inspired purchase. Adding these really beneficial strength & conditioning sessions into the mix will prove super beneficial. After only a couple of sessions this week I could feel the benefits to my core & upper body - especially helping stretch out those swimming muscles.

Adding to all of the above are some awesome nice additions to my nutrition portfolio which I'm really pleased with.

I've started taking Manuka Honey on a daily basis. Just adding a spoonful to my homemade smoothies plus another spoonful during the day is really enjoyable. The anti-bacterial strengths of the Manuka Honey will work well with the Biestmilch products I take to support & strengthen my immune system.

Hemp Milk is another great addition I have recently made. I've been taking Hemp Protein for ages -as it is the most complete protein source available - and the Hemp Milk just helps this even further.

Sports-nutrition wise, I'm really pleased that Clif Bar have launched an electrolyte drink and also some awesome recovery bars.

I really like Clif Bar products as they are as natural & organic as you can get - and are also the best tasting sports products I know.

Both the electrolyte drink (cranberry-razz flavour) and the Bullders (recovery) bars are the best tasting products in their field that I've ever tasted.

I like the electrolyte drink so much that I use it daily as my pre-swim drink and then on the bike as well. I find the 2 scoops works great for the shorter sessions and then up this to 4 scoops for the longer rides. I did take 4 scoops before Thursdays swim but found that this plus the morning double espresso got me a little too energized and the heart rate went through the roof!

Seriously though - if you are serious about looking after your health whilst training - I would check out the Clif Bar product range as they have the natural, organic & performance mix nailed.

So, as you can tell, I feeling pretty stoked with life at the moment. My support team is coming together nicely - the 2011 plans are shaping up and the tools are in place to enable me to have a really good crack at setting some serious new PBs.

Plus....Kona is only 3 weeks away....!

See you in seven....


PS - please see my previous post for details of my mate Dave Smiths fund-raising ride from Brighton to Barcelona. Please see if you could spare a few quid to help a really great cause and support a top bloke doing a tough challenge. This ain't no Race for Life....

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Only as strong as its roots...

Afternoon All, 

Just a quickie this week as busy flying around aiming to keep all my plates spinning....

A few things to share with you - all related to my current focus which is putting the plans together - both physical & non-physical for having an epic 2011. 

Training-wise - its great to be back to being a multi-sport athlete. 

I've talked about this before but I do really enjoy the feeling of being able to train well across the 3 disciplines - and then look to bring in the gym / floor work as well. 

I always said August was going to be all about my return to swimming - as this is coming true. Don't get me wrong - this hasn't been an easy return, in fact its been very difficult. Due to lack of focus, my swimming fitness & technique has completely eroded. 18 months ago, I was swimming better than ever - holding a cruise pace of 1:32/100m - now I'm struggling to hit 1:35-1:40. 

However - what I am excited about - is now looking to re-build myself into a better swimmer than I have ever been. It is these type of developmental challenges which I really relish. If I am to achieve my goal of becoming a sub-10 hour Ironman - I need to become a sub-60 min Ironman swimmer. Therefore, I need to rebuild my technique to such a standard than I can achieve this. 

Improving technique - more than absolute fitness - is my focus for the next quarter. I know my fitness (with some specific training) is good enough to complete a sub-11 hour finish - but whilst I can put a heck of lot of effort into trying to improve fitness for arguably marginal gains - if I can improve my technique in all 3 disciplines I can make step-changes in my performance. 

So - what does this look per discipline?

Swim - it means improved body position in the water. Simply put, I basically drag my legs along through the water. I need to start swimming in a more horizontal position - with my legs much higher in the water thna where they currently are. I've started to do a drill I know Brett Sutton gets his athletes to do regularly - swimming with a pull-buoy & band around the ankles - then bringing in paddles. Basically, this gets me in a horizontal position - giving me the feel for what this is like and how I can then develop the front-end catch & pull. 

These are tough sets - but really great for getting me used to swimming in a more horizontal position and are superb for developing my core strength & stability. 

Bike - I need to develop bike-power. Simple as. I need to work hard on becoming a solid time-trialist. Yes, my cycling has improved ten-fold since my last iron-distance race but I still feel I can go much further. This winter I HAVE to be disciplined enough to do power-focued turbo sessions. No excuses. 

Run - more efficiency is the goal here. The Ironman marathon doesn't scare me - I've run both of mine without walking. Its not the distance - its the pace I need to run at to hit a 3.30 Iron-marathon. I need to run more efficiently. Focus will be top-end speed with better run technique. 

So - there it is - technique, technique, technique. 

Which brings me on to my next point...

All of the above areas of development have one common physical link - the need to develop better core and lower body strength. 

Why can't I swim with my legs high in the water? 

Poor core strength - and low hip / glute strength & flexibility. 

Why can't produce my bike power? 

Poor core strength - and no glute power. 

Why can't I run a 3.30 Iron-marathon?

Poor core strength & low glute power.

Put it this way - my physio cannot believe that I have done what I have done with the lack of core & glute strength I have. 

As she eloquently puts it "for a bloke with no arse, I can't believe you managed to do all of that!". 

So - winter work will be in the gym - focusing on core & lower body. 

Plenty of lunges, single-leg work and core strength. This is going to hurt - but I need to do it - its not optional. 

I've paid lip-service to doing this type of work before but then reverted back to type and gone for a swim, bike or run instead - but this time its going to be different.... 

The TRX system has been ordered, the physio is giving me a training plan, sessions will be added into the plan. 

Swim sessions will be drills-based, turbo sessions will be stuck to, and runs will be technique-based. 

I feel like the Lee Majors TV character Steve Austin (I know I'm not that old either) - you know the one...."we can rebuild him". 

So - here we go - let the re-building commence.....

Lets hope we see the sub-10 hour opening ceremony at Roth 2011...!