Sunday, 29 March 2009

The journey begins...

G'day All,

British Summertime has officially arrived so its very timely that at the start of a new season - my journey to Roth begins. 

Tomorrow sees me start my 16-week plan for Challenge Roth on 12 July. Over the last few weeks I have spoken of the need to adopt a more disciplined, focused approach to my training - enabling me to prepare to the best of my ability for the what will be the biggest challenge of my sporting life to date. 

With the arrival of the first 3 weeks plans, my mind is clear on achieving my goal and removing all other potential distractions. This may mean that I won't do the race my mates are doing or cutting short a long ride (as I'm only due to do 3 hours) but, in a strange way, I am looking forward to displaying the discipline required to stick to the plan. The suits my personality strengths and gives me inner strength & motivation - and is one of attractions of the long-distance stuff. 

The last few weeks have seen me recover from the 30 mile Ultra, get out on my bike for some encouraging rides, see a drop-off in my swimming performance (due to fatigue & injury) and do minimal running. This has been the cluttered mess which I am now looking forward to clearing up via the structured planning - I love to clean up a mess (I'm a real geek for cleanliness!)

So, light nights will bring post-work bike sessions, longer runs and consistency. The lighter mornings will see the swim sessions include some outdoor sessions (50m lido & lake), early morning bikes and those lovely fresh morning runs. 

The diet will "lighten up" - so loads of regular, balanced meals and no need for those "winter warmers" of traditional English dishes. 

One really pleasing factor with my race planning this season is that all of travel & accommodation is sorted & booked. The great positive is that for every race I will be traveling with mates - which is not something I've done in the past. Meeting more like-minded people and creating new networks has been a real positive from the last few months. Removing the additional stress of travel etc and adding in the social ingredient just adds to my positive mind-set for the forthcoming months. 

Back to the last week, following last weekends monster sessions of 5 hour bike and 5.6km swim, I have predictably felt shattered. I have been experiencing some real discomfort in my rib region when swimming. This has seen me have to cut short Thursday & Saturdays swims - which I really hate doing - it leaves me feeling peeved all day. Strangely, when I was in M&S y'day, as I turned I heard this ripping noise in my ribs - as if something was being torn free - and the pain seems to have gone or significantly to watch me thinks...

Before I leave I wished to make you all aware of a great initiative launched by the author of The Thrive Diet, Brendan Brazier. The Thrive Diet is the best nutrition book I have ever read and has inspired me to really review & improve my diet - not that it was too bad (more lazy than bad) - via the introduction of more whole, plant-based foods. 

Brendan is now providing a service called Thrive in 30 - which simply breaks down the book into a series of emails & video-casts - for those time-poor athletes. I highly recommend checking this out - you can sign-up here

Please let me know how you get on - I think this is a wonderful idea - it would be great to hear your thoughts as well. 

Ok kids, bit of a long one tonight, must have something to do with the clocks....

Take it easy - catch up next week...


Monday, 23 March 2009

A bunch of fives...

Apologies for not getting this out yesterday, Mothers Day responsibilities took priority. 

I'm pleased to say that the last week has seen a return to some form of decent, structured training and a couple of breakthrough sessions. 

I managed to get three really strong swims done, including a monster set of 5.6k in the 50m pool at Bath Uni. However, I've been experiencing a really uncomfortable feeling in my left-side ribs. I went to see my physio tonight and it appears that my obliques were really tight which was causing the pain under my rib-cage. A dose of acupuncture and all seems well again. In fact, a couple of doses helped sort out a painful knee, a tender achilles and a stiff pelvis. Right now, I feel like a second hand dartboard but its all for the good!

A small session on the indoor bike, focusing on out of the saddle work, was followed by a great ride on Saturday. It was an awesome day, perfect riding conditions & coupled with the new bike I couldn't wait to get out. A couple of mates were going out for a long one, so I couldn't resist the temptation to put in a solid session. I totalled 84 miles, in just over 5 hours. A comfortable average speed of 16.6mph and a nice average HR of 129bpm - gave me a real confidence boost for tackling the longer rides to come. 

So the weekend saw a 5 hour bike on Saturday, backed up with a 5.6k swim. Happy days, but I do need to get a handle on my training again before I get too carried away. 

I've just caught up with my coach as I really do need to "put the blinkers on" and focus on my key goal: Challenge Roth on 12 July. 

This will mean sticking to a structured, progressive plan & not getting distracted by other races or training events which ultimately don't move me forward. 

I just need to channel my energy, passion and motivation in the most beneficial& developmental way. 

So, as pleasing as this weekend was in terms of smacking out some good volume, I need to learn to be a disciplined, well behaved young man. 

Now that really would be an achievement!

Laters dudes, 


Sunday, 15 March 2009

Solar power


I'll get straight into it tonights chaps as Sparky is a happy but tired little boy. 

This week has been a joy, seeing a return to the buzz of training and the contented feeling of ticking off a few more little goals. 

Getting back in the pool has been great, the legs are still a tad tired but the 1km worth of kick in the Tuesday morning session flushed out a lot of the junk. I'm getting a lot of pleasure & satisfaction from my swimming at the moment, seeing some really noticeable improvements in strength, pace & technique. Saturdays session saw a great set of 100m (@ cruise), 50m (@ above cruise) x 15. I lead the lane and managed to hit 1.31/1.32 per 100m and 45 secs per 50m consistently. We're off to the 50m pool at Bath Uni again on Sunday, so another big session will be in store. Bring it on Coach Kev!

A real bonus was riding to & from work on Friday. Its only 9 miles each way, so a nice little blast on the mountain bike was a great way to start & finish the day. I'm hoping to do this more often now that the longer days are on their way. The plan will be to set out earlier, adding on mileage to make it a worthwhile session. Hopefully, these will be some good miles in the bank to complement the longer weekend rides. 

Speaking of weekend rides, today I got out on my new stead for the first time. I'm really stoked with the bike and it was a truly beautiful day. We went through some incredible countryside and it was one of the days when it is a pleasure to be out and you could just keep on going. In the end, I covered 60 miles in just over 3 hours - so really pleased with my return to the saddle. 

My focus will be on building the bike mileage up - getting in some mid-week rides (as per above) and then increasing the weekend rides. The swim is coming along really nicely, we know the run will take care of itself (some speedwork will help), so the bike is the area to focus on. 

This weeks shout-out goes to my mate Ian. Ian completed the Paris Eco-race, covering the 80km throughout the night in 9.5 hours, finishing by running up the Eiffel Trail. Great work buddy!

Let's hope for more & more of this fine weather....natures own energy gel!

Have a great week all, 


Sunday, 8 March 2009

I can see clearly now...


Back to hitting the Sunday night deadline, but aiming to keep it brief as I'm keen to hit the sack!

Following last Sunday's beasting at the 30 miler, I've taken this week off training to allow for mental and physical rehabilitation. It was much needed and as I haven't really missed training I've seen that as an indicator that rest was needed. This weekend was quite tough, as the weather has been ok and I always feel like I should be out training. However, after hitting the pool yesterday morning I realised that the body hadn't fully recovered so that helped ease the guilty feeling. 

As the week has progressed my mental mojo has returned. I've looked into a few new races and challenges, laid out some plans and gradually got the energy back. I'm going to ease back into it this week, hitting the early morning swims plus some bike work. 

Having more free time has enabled me to me to get a lot of those things which never get done done. I've caught up on my reading, a few chores here & there, worked on a couple of little projects plus I finally went and got set-up on my new road bike. All of this has contributed to clearing the mental fog. This week will hopefully see the physical fog begin to clear.   

I'm confident that getting the clarity back will enable me to kick on and focus on Bala and then onto Roth. I've put in a few smaller goals along the way to keep me ticking over. Baby steps....

So, there you go. Not much to report this week folks but I do want to pass on my congrats to a couple of mates who raced at Ironman New Zealand over the weekend. My mate John came in at 10 hours 23 mins. John - I know you'll be disappointed mate but don't be - thats yet another stellar race under the belt. Another mate Alex came home in 10.38 and qualified for an age-group slot at Kona! I'll always remember seeing Alex suffer like a dog at Busselton in 2006 - and to see him come back & qualify for Kona is a real inspiration.  

Adios amigos, see you in seven.


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Rays of sunshine....

G'day sportsfans,

Apologies for the tardiness of this weeks post & thanks to all of those who have enquired as to its whereabouts.....good to know there are followers out there!

I'll cut straight to the chase and let you all know how Sunday's 30 mile Ultra went.

In one word: Slowly.

In three words: Slowly & Painfully.

Simply put, it was a long hard struggle. I had faced a race against time to get my legs back in shape after the marathon I ran in training two weeks beforehand. Ultimately, I ran out of time. 

Significantly, it wasn't only my legs which hadn't recovered but also my head. I just wasn't in the right mental place to have an enjoyable race. 

For those of you who like race stats - I went through the 1st loop of 15 miles in 2 hours 13 mins (so bang on target pace) and then things went seriously downhill - leaving the second 15 miles to be a real drag at 2 hours 41 mins!

The sharp ones amongst will work out that the finish time was 4 hours 54 mins - considering my road marathon PB is 3 hours 22 mins - the implosion is clear to see!

Although a target time wasn't the key objective - it is slightly disappointing to post a time of close to 5 hours on what was a relatively easy off-road course. 

However.....I am taking loads of positives out of not just Sunday but the year to date. 

I set myself a goal of completing an Ultra marathon in 2009 - done!

I set myself a challenge of training & racing consistently throughout the winter months - done! 

I wished to establish a strong endurance base before hitting the tri season - done!

There have been a couple of high volume weeks plus two marathons in three weeks is something I'm quite proud of (although also a little embarrassed at my stupidity!)

So, do I feel in a better position than this time last year? - yes! 

My swimming is unrecognisable from several months ago, I've cycled pretty consistently throughout winter (including some new off-road stuff) and my running is stronger than ever. So, all in all, I am happy to have hit my Q1 targets with a month to spare! 

The key lesson I have taken out of the last few weeks is not to have my best game in training. 

The marathon I ran two weeks ago was on a tougher course than Sunday, and I ran it far stronger, unfortunately I couldn't repeat this on race day. I'm not hugely competitive but I am more disappointed at not giving a good representation of myself and also taking some of the enjoyment out of what should have been a really enjoyable day by being in an unhappy place for about 20 miles. 

As you all know, I love to train. I don't train to race well, I train because I love the lifestyle and all the things attached to it. However, I do need to get more focused on performing to my best at the key events I've identified. So, Bala Middle Distance on 14 June is my next target. I want to perform well, set a PB and come away feeling satisfied with my performance. Two of the measures are qualitative but I will know within myself whether I have met them - and thats all that counts. 

When I was struggling on Sunday, one of things that kept me going was imagining that this is what the marathon leg of an Ironman-distance race must feel like (please don't tell me its worse!) So, I saw this as mental strength training for Challenge Roth. Every challenge has a positive option. 

Speaking of Ironman-distance races, I want to send out a message of love & belief to my buddy John. John is racing at Ironman New Zealand this weekend and is aiming for a Kona slot. John - we all believe you can do it mate, believe it yourself and it will happen. 

See you next week folks,