Monday, 27 April 2009

Its all in the numbers...

Yo amigos, 

Now, I know I say this every week but I really am going to keep this weeks post a short one. 

One of the reasons is that last week was a recovery week, so reduced volume, covering a total of 10 hours. 

Do I feel better following a lower volume week? Actually, I do. I didn't feel great during the week, my legs felt like cement all week, but following a strong weekend & a nice run tonight, I'm feeling pretty good and importantly really motivated for the next couple of weeks. 

The highlight of last weeks training was the weekend. A quiet week picked up on Saturday with a good swim session in the morning, totaling 3.6k, followed by a good 3 hour bike in really gusty conditions. Sunday was a pleasant 60 min run. 

The key take-out on Saturdays bike was some new data I now have access to. I managed to fit a speed & cadence sensor onto my new ride, which works with my Garmin 305 Forerunner. An impressive piece of kit which can be tailored to provide loads of good data for run, bike and a cool multi-sport function which will be perfect for brick sessions. 

Anyways, the key piece of data was being able to see what my average cadence was. The was a surprisingly low 68 rpm. Ideally, I should be around the 80-90 rpm mark. I didn't have access to the cadence data during the ride (I couldn't get the bloody thing to work!) but I was aware that I was pushing a bigger gear than usual - due to pushing against the relentless wind. However, it was a shock to see the low average cadence. This will be something for me to improve quickly over the coming weeks. 

Keeping on the data theme, I've started using the TrainingPeaks software to record my data. Its a pretty impressive package, especially as its free. I'm still learning how to get the most out of it, but I'm happy with what I'm able to do so far. If you're looking for a convenient, simple training log - its well worth checking out.  

I must sound like a data geek, but (please!) believe me when I say I'm not. However, I am finding that knowing more about my training and the key performance indicators is proving very useful. I feel like I have an improved understanding of my body & engine. Knowledge is the bomb!

Ok, just before I go, I wish to send out a massive well-done to all of those who did the London marathon yesterday. A special mention to Ben who completed his first marathon in 2:41 - wow! Also, a notable mention to Eve Roberts & Amy Jones on great performances. 

Thats it, I told it was a short one....I'm off to analyze some more data....

Have great weeks sportsfans, see you in seven.


Monday, 20 April 2009

Putting the blocks in place...

G'day sportsfans, 

and what a beautiful day it has been, it never fails to amaze me how much a difference great weather makes to how everyone feels.....the world is better a place when the sun is shining!

Keeping with the cheery vibe, its been a great week of decent training and an even better recovery week is on the way!

I mentioned last week about the chesty cough & congestion i've been struggling to get rid of, well it seems to be clearing but I am still experiencing some congestion upon raising my intensity levels. Therefore, this last week I decided to step off the running and look to manage the HR. This has definitely helped move things along, although ideally I wouldn't have missed my run sessions, I'm not concerned as my legs were pretty well battered anyways!

My swimming has picked up this week, back to previous quality levels, and we have been hitting some strong volumes - smacking out 4.2k on both Tuesday & Thursday - with some big sets within the session. I really enjoy the bigger sets as they allow me to settle into holding a consistent pace for a longer period whilst maintaining focus. I must admit to practicing race simulation during these sets, imagining myself leading the pack at Kona for example!

The bike was my key focus this week, especially with no runs, so I was pleased to hit every session as per my plan. With Saturdays bike session being my key goal for the week, it was important I stuck to the planned weekly sessions, hitting target HR and efforts, which I did. I have found this discipline difficult in the past, so I am taking this as a good sign of both mental & physical progress. 

That discipline was actually my key goal to take into Saturdays long bike. Given that my chest still isn't 100%, it was vital that I kept my HR under control but not lose any benefit by backing off too much. I was really pleased with how the ride went, it wasn't an easy route nor easy conditions with a strong headwind turning into a cross-wind on the way home (explain that one to me?!) So I held the effort levels bang on plan and the HR stuck to where I would expect to see it for those levels of effort. 

Another factor which I wished to step up my discipline on was my on-bike nutrition. I was chatting to a multiple-Ironman friend during the week and his key piece of advice was to make sure I get my nutrition dialled-in. Now, I've read this and heard it many times before but must admit to being poor at implementing this discipline in the past. 

So, I gave myself the target of consuming 300 cals per hour during the ride. I ate every 30 mins and drank every 15 mins. This made a world of difference to how I felt throughout the ride, although still hurting (due to the effort levels), I never felt weak or depleted and it also gave me a sense of "being in control". 

I was really pleased with the nutrition I used. I rotated my foods between Clif Bars and Clif Blok Shots. Both of these equal 300 cals, so I would take half a pack of each every 30 mins. This helped break up any monotony of eating the same thing time & time again. The bars were great, really tasty, easy to digest and didn't sit heavy in the stomach. The Shot Bloks were my alternative to gels, as they are a far healthy option and much more palatable. They are like little jelly cubes, so are really easy to consume and again do not cause any digestive distress, which I have incurred when using lots of gels in the past. 

If you are looking for a healthy, organic nutrition option I'd really recommend checking out both the Clif Bars & Clif Shot Bloks. They're available via lots of online retailers, in loads of really tasty flavours, including an awesome Chocolate Chip flavour! 

Ok, enough eulogizing about nutrition products (hey, I enjoy it!) and back to whats ahead this week. 

A decent week of R&R is the plan. After my first 3 weeks of strong volume, I'm looking forward to allowing the mind & body to absorb the good work which has gone on. Knowing this in the plan gives me comfort that this is helping me progress & prepare for the weeks ahead. 

Well, I thought this would be a short post tonight but I've ended up spewing out loads!

Just before I go, I wished to give out shout to my buddies Jono & Loz, who tied the knot over in Sydney on Saturday. Congratulations guys! Can't wait to catch up when you're back on these sunny shores.

Have great weeks guys, enjoy the sunshine, keep healthy & happy. 



Monday, 13 April 2009

Swings and roundabouts...

G'day folks, 

Happy Easter to y'all....

Looks like Monday is going to be the new Sunday when it comes to me posting my weekly news. Obviously, with it be Easter and a nice long weekend, I took the opportunity to go back to the mother-land and spend some time with my folks (and the local trails). 

I've had a strange week, being both frustrating and weirdly satisfying. Let me explain...

I've been battling a cold all week, which has seen me have a horrendous cough and a frustratingly consistent sneeze. I haven't felt that bad, just increasingly tired due to the reduction in sleep caused by mid-sleep coughing fits. 

The above ailments have seen me take a reduction in training volume & intensity, but I've looked to hold the consistency, as I find that no training often makes me feel worse. In fact, I've actually felt better whilst training. Although, Kleenex could have done a roaring trade if they had been available on my long runs!

I've kept my thrice weekly swim sessions, hitting some decent volumes of 3.9k, 4.3k and 4.0k respectively. I didn't feel on top form but was pleased to have held decent enough technique and strength throughout the sessions. 

All the bike sessions were met, including an indoor bike session which was a tough challenge, looking to hit 140-150bpm intervals, but I was pleased to hold to those stats and the legs definitely felt the benefit. Saturdays 'long' ride was cut short to just 2 hours, as I really felt empty after the morning swim and general lethargy I spoke about earlier. 

I did have to miss a couple of runs, on Monday and Thursday. Mondays was due to tiredness after Sundays MTB ride and Thursday I felt at my worst, when rest was definitely the better option. There was a short hill session on Wednesday, which did take the HR into the hurt zone but will prove a good benchmark for later sessions.

However, I was really pleased to get out on my hometown trails on Sunday and turn in a decent longer run - at just under 100 mins. The legs felt great, with a good cadence and stride length. I feel this is the reward of the higher intensity work I mentioned last week.    

So, two weeks into the plan and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm looking to bust through this cold with a strong, consistent week of solid training. I then have a recovery week so it will be good to finish off on a strong note. I'll let you know how it goes. 

Just before I go, I'd like to give a shout out to my mate Ben. Ben is running at London next Sunday, making his marathon debut and aiming to come in under 2:45. Ben, sorry I missed you this weekend but have a great race and I'm looking forward to hearing how you smashed those 6:06 minute miles!

See you next week guys, 


Monday, 6 April 2009

One week down....

Evening All,

Yet again, I failed to meet my Sunday evening deadline, no excuses other than I was running late, shattered, couldn't be bothered and just wanted to get to bed!

Last week was the first week of my Roth plan. I was really pleased with how it went. There was good consistency to my sessions, good recovery and motivation was high. 

My run sessions are seeing me looking to hold my pace at just above Lactate Threshold (LT) - which for me is 141bpm. So I'm either looking to structure the session around holding 145bpm for a long period or hitting a higher HR (153bpm) for shorter, repeat periods. 

After focusing my running on holding good pace for a longer & longer period - as marathons have been my goal races - it has been "interesting" to look to increase the pace & hold it for different lengths of time. I must admit going upto 153bpm for 12 mins, 4 times, was a challenging but productive session. 

Strangely, a cross-over benefit from my structured swim sessions is the concept of pacing. Coach Kev has us working off our cruise pace (1.32/100m) so I've grown more accustomed to tweaking the pace in relation to this base. When out on the road on Saturday, it looked like 145bpm was equalling 7:13 min miles. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the coming weeks. 

Before I leave the running, another amendment to my "traditional" approach has been the adoption of lighter-weight shoes. I read a really interesting article in Triathlete magazine which basically laid out that most running shoes have far more cushioning than what we actually require. I've started to slowly introduce lighter-weight runners into my training and have found this to be a beneficial change with no side effects. I've taken this a positive indication that both my running technique & overall body composition has improved over the last 2 years - as I did suffer with sore ankles when I tried this before several years ago. I'll still take the move over slowly as it could be a false dawn....

So I'm pleased with the running, feeling confident about the building volume on the bike and the swim continues to improve. Last week, I mentioned the pain I was incurring in my ribs whilst swimming. Thankfully, this seems to have gone away after lots of upper body (lats, obliques) stretching - and interestingly I have changed the fluid I drink whilst swimming.

I had introduced effervescent vitamin C into my water bottle (as natural source of carbs) but I think the fizziness may have caused issues in my digestive system which could have led to the stitch-like pain I was feeling - even though it was higher than where a stitch traditionally occurs....mmm, interesting hey? Good to find these things out early. 

Finally before I shoot off.....Sunday saw me take part in a 50km Mountain Bike ride called Hell of The North Cotswolds. An interesting day was had, good experience was gained - especially as I'm interested in adventure racing in the future - and I thought it was a good endurance and strength building session which lasted just under 3 hours. 

Two key take-outs for me were......mountain-bikers to not like going up-hill....geez, do these boys ever punch out a big gear?! Secondly, it was perfectly clear that I am an absolute pussy when it comes to going downhill....I knew this before but this just confirmed it to a wider audience!

Still better to be safe than sorry...bigger races await!

Take it easy guys, hope you all have great weeks & I'll catch up with you the Easter weekend.