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...!



Monday, 9 August 2010

Support a great cause....


Please check out the note below from my good friend Dave Smith at Clif Bar. 

Looks a great challenge - supporting a great cause. 

This stands out as a great opportunity to support a sponsored race - much better than those naff 5k Race for Life races....

Between Wednesday 15th and Saturday 25th September 2010 twelve of us will be cycling fromBrighton to Barcelona to raise money for St Barnabas Hospice in Worthing. We will be cycling between 70 and 100 miles approximately per day and the total distance covered will be over 830 miles. The route will take us from Brighton to Barcelona via Portsmouth, St Malo, east of Nantes, Bordeaux, over the Pyrenees into Spain and onto Barcelona. We will arrive in Barcelona at the Christopher Columbus monument on the 25th September (hopefully).

None of the group who are taking this challenge are long distance cyclists; we are simply a group of friends who want to do something worthwhile to try to make a difference.

We have set up a website through which we can keep people updated on how our training and planning is going, which can be found at

So, if you can, please dig deep and sponsor whatever you can afford. It’s going to be a tough challenge but it will really help me along knowing that I have the backing of you all. You can donate via the website or by going directly to our just giving page money then goes directly to the charity. Please be assured that every penny donated will be going to St Barnabas as we have covered all costs ourselves.

One of our sponsors is a company called AJ Walter has agreed to give us £1k for every £4k we raise, so we really need your help to get this extra sponsorship.  Please tell your friends and family about what we are doing too.

Less than 40 days to go so I’d better go off now and do some more training!

Thanks for listening and for your support.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Living the life...

Hola amigos, 

Isn't life amazing?

Having booked a date with Challenge Roth in July 2011 - I feel like a new man...

A new man with a new, tangible, challenging but achievable target. 

I've mentioned it before but I'm going to put it out there again.....I want a sub-10 hour finish. 

I'm going to keep on repeating this to myself - and you guys! - throughout the next 11 months as its going to really focus my energy & passion into a more-specific target then say "set a new PB". 

I have found this a successful tactic in achieving other goals so hopefully it work again this time. 

Ok - so now thats done - lets look more at the present moment....

I'm really pleased with the last 7 days training and lifestyle enhancements. 

Its felt great to get back to the early starts & early evenings - it is a wonderful feeling to be living what I believe is the most natural way of life - up with the sun, down with the sun. 

To me - there is nothing better than getting up at dawn - putting the stove-top espresso on and getting ready to hit the pool. 

Don't get me wrong - staying in bed is always an appealing option - but once I get up & smell the coffee then I'm pleased with my decision. 

So now that the body clock is back in sync - I just need the swimming to follow!

Its been a tough week - I hate swimming poorly and this week has been ugly!

However - with 5 swims under my belt - things are starting to feel something like normal again...but there is still a long way to go. 

The upper body & core are enjoying the new workouts - and I enjoy the feeling that I am firming up again on the top-half of the body. 

I've ordered some paddles & a new pull-buoy so will look to introduce these into some of the drills this week - to help accelerate the re-learning of the feel for the catch & pull. 

I don't want to rush things - and risk damage or injury - but I do need to accelerate the re-development ahead of going over to Kona in 7 weeks. 

Its been a similar story with the running - getting some consistency back. 

I've run 3 times this week - nothing sensational - only 45 minutes a time but on the 3rd run - the legs did start to feel like some strength was returning. 

Interestingly - I've run in 3 different pairs of shoes this week - Asics Noosas, Newtons and then Asics DS Racers. 

The DS Racers won hands-down for me. They felt the most natural and gave me the biggest feeling of connecting with the road. 

The interesting point for me - is that the DS Racers are the most minimalistic of the shoes. They have less support & cushioning than the other two and allow a natural foot strike. 

I think I will continue to use the Newtons as a training aid - but will defer to the DS Racers for my serious work. 

I will also start to re-introduce the Vibram five-fingers into my training - maybe a joint-session with the Newtons - as a recovery/technique session....

Onto the bike - only 3 sessions this week - so I could accommodate the runs. I'm pleased with where my riding is at - but I am riding more like a "roadie" than a "time-trailist" so will need to calm down on the hills and look to hold a more consistent pace on the flats. 

I'll look to convert my developing bike-strength into becoming a stronger time-trailist - instead of looking to beat my mates up on the climbs. 

Finally - and this goes back to the natural life-style piece - I'm bringing yoga back into my routine. 

Early days - but a few poses at the start of the day whilst the coffee is brewing combined with some at the end of the day & post-session - are really helping ensure that the re-adjustment back into full tri training goes as smoothly as possible. 

I plan on up-weighting my yoga - and talking more about it - as I do see it as another discipline which should be added to the mix. 

To repeat myself - I love this lifestyle - and the feeling that yoga gives me in terms of strength, flexibility, breathing and posture - brings together all the benefits of this healthy, active lifestyle. 

During the winter months - I plan to make a return to surfing - which is when I started practising yoga - so these two will form a core (no pun!) part of my winter base programme. 

So over the coming months I plan on posting a lot more content of the wider lifestyle elements such as a clean & natural diet, yoga & surfing which I look to bring together into a healthy, active and holistic package. 

It would be great to get your feedback on whether you find this wider content interesting - so please get in touch via my social networks - and let me know if theres anything in particular you would like me to cover. 

It seems fitting that I leave you with a very pertinent quote from Scott Tinley - which is a great summary of all of that rambling I've just splurted out....

"Above all train hard, eat light and avoid TV and negative people" 

See you in 7....


Sunday, 1 August 2010

Exciting times....

Happy Sunday Everyone!

A bit of a mixed bag this week - but all positive and exciting stuff.

Training-wise, I've made a gentle return to running this week with 30-45 minute runs every day Monday - Thursday.

Nothing sensational - but it did feel good to get back out on the road again.

Obviously the legs have softened up but you also forget how the upper-body misses running. Sounds strange - and maybe its just me - but the upper back & shoulders always feel really tight and stiff when I haven't been running regularly.

So this week has just been about breaking myself back in. As I've only been doing short runs - I've worn the Newtons a few times - just as a 'training aid' to get me running on the fore-foot more.

Still undecided as to whether I would wear these for a marathon - but feel they work well at the shorter distances. However, I do know I've worn them the next morning - as my left Achilles can feel particularly sore. One to watch there...

I've been working in London all week - so had to get my bike work done on the weekend. 2 good rides at good intensity felt really good. Since returning from France, I can definitely feel that my cycling has moved up a notch and I know want to keep this development going by working hard to ride at a stronger pace for longer.

I'm hoping to get back into the pool this week - which will be a painful & embarrassing experience - but I can't put it off as it will only continue to get worse.

You may be asking yourself - why all of this triathlon training?

The exciting news is that I've decided to go over to Kona, Hawaii to watch some good friends compete at the Ford Ironman World Championships.

Therefore, I want to be in good shape - so I don't get to embarrassed on the training sessions or when the pose-ing goes on!

You may recall how last week I told how I have now got my "rev" back for triathlon - with a new harder, faster perspective - after mixing in the higher echelons of the sport of the last few weeks.

This "rev" got even more serious this week - especially after meeting up with a top Ironman age-grouper who I got to know via our mutual relationship with Skinfit.

Stuart Anderson is going to Kona for the 4th time this year - and it was great to meet and talk Ironman with Stuart in London this week.

Next year Stuart is racing at Roth - which I did in 2009 - so we were talking about what a great race, event, experience Roth is.

Later that evening - I entered Roth 2011.....!!!

It just HAD to be done.

After talking about Roth with Lothar & Macca, listening to their stories about racing hard & fast....a seed had started to grow....

...then when Sebastian Kienle went under 8 hours on his iron-distance at Roth 2010 - breaking the bike course record with a 4.14 grew some more....

...and then seeing my mate Nick Weston go under 10 hours at Roth grew some more....

...and then telling others to enter Roth 2011 because its so grew some more...

....then meeting Stuart and talking about Roth, Kona and some other exciting plans we grew to a point at which I had to pick it!

So - there it is - booked and in the diary - 10 July 2011 - Challenge Roth.

And boy - it feels good to have it there - as a real, tangible goal....sub 10 hours!

Plenty of work to be done between now & then - but I feel like I'm coming back to triathlon - a bigger & better athlete than when I left it after Challenge Barcelona last year.

Time will tell - but I promise you this - I will give this my all....

Hope you come along for the ride....