Week 20 of 40: Feeling fit, plans to ban the booze, and pre-race stuff

Build up to the Swashbuckler 70.3 Triathlon and some random stuff

I’m writing this on Thursday morning before I get stuck into my year-end accounts. It’s feeling so summery. I love this time of year. I’m feeling fit! I noticed it first last week. Running felt lighter, easier, cycling faster – swimming, well not quite so as I haven’t done enough. I feel like my endurance base is building. I’ve had lots of tired days, but today I’m not tired (yesterday after early morning swimming I did take a 20-minute snooze at my desk). I lay in until 715am and had a late start today. I did procrastinate, but managed to get my run back and be ready to start the day properly by 1015am – so I’ll get my full eight hours in (a thing of mine being self-employed is that I have to get eight hours in, and that doesn’t include blog writing!).

More Alcohol-free beer Vicar?

I’m building up to going booze-free. It’s something I’ve talked about for, erm, years (and yes I have written about it too!). Pre-children I was a very heavy, madly hedonistic  drinker, then in my late 20s/early 30s a non-drinker for some of pregnancy (but not all), after that I became a social drinker. I’ve had non-drinking months, I’ve drunk just at the weekend (but to be honest not very often) and I’ve run 20+ marathons this way. I haven’t been ‘drunk’ drunk for a long, long time, I haven’t been sick, or been so hungover that I’ve been wishing the day away (although this was something in the past I was too familiar with). I’m not unhealthy from drinking (well not that I know of) but I do battle with drink in that I always think about what I’m going to drink and I always feel it needs to be kept under control. I do keep it under control, but, it takes energy! I also know that the fact that I have to think about not drinking at all, and don’t just don’t do it with ease, means it has some control over me. And that won’t do at all!

So, I’m cutting out most booze now and going booze-free from the beginning of June (I’ve got a holiday to fit in) until, well at least until the Ironman. I think it’ll be one less thing to think about – i.e. I won’t need to ask if am I dehydrated from the two glasses of wine I had the night before, or because I didn’t take on enough fluids on the bike? If I’m not boozing, I’ll know. I think it’s just easier to get it out of the picture whilst I focus on IM training. I’m not expecting to feel massively different because at the moment I don’t drink enough for it to be noticed when it’s gone, but I do think it takes away an excuse to not perform so well.

The Random Race Stuff

The reason for writing now is to capture where I’m at before I take on my first proper half ironman on Sunday, the Swashbuckler, in the New Forest. When it gets to writing up on Sunday this will be all-consuming, and my mind will be full of the race, analysis and what’s coming next . This is, strictly speaking, my second middle distance triathlon as I did Braveheart Ben Nevis Triathlon in September 2016 but I’m not sure that can compare to other 70.3’s as the run was a long hike up Ben Nevis, so I feel like a 70.3 virgin.  My coach has said don’t go mad this week, but don’t taper as this race is part of the bigger picture –it really is just training for Ironman Barcelona. He’s away for a few days so I’m not sure what he’ll make of me doing a 8.5 mile run this am (albeit very slow and comfortable at 115 HR)… but I just felt good and the sun was shining.

I don’t have great expectations timewise on Sunday. I’m guessing the swim could be anywhere between 2.00 and 2.15 per 100m, I’m expecting to the bike to be between 13 and 15 mph and the run between 8.00 and 8.45 min mile pace. Transition is not a strong point. On that basis I’ll be aiming for around 6.5 hours plus.

As for the rest of the week, I’ve got a swim tonight and a club turbo/My Ride session tomorrow – then it’s all about a weekend of getting ready for, travelling to, and then being in the water for the painfully early 5.15am start for racing.  I’d of course like to surprise myself with faster times but we’ll just have to see – and importantly I’ve got to pick up the training again on Tuesday. Watch this space…

Week 18 and 19 of 40: Pacing myself and managing fatigue

The last two weeks have been about pacing myself and managing fatigue, so I can adapt to training for an Ironman, managing workloads as a self-employed business owner, a volunteer, a mum – and it’s about appreciating life’s pace isn’t always predictable.

In the last two weeks there’s been more work, which I’m always grateful for, a few committee meetings for my voluntary comms roles –and a big loss in my extended family, which puts time, and stress, and work and training in perspective. A trip to Ireland this week reminded me how lucky I am, being part of this connected group of people, but sadly it included saying goodbye to two very special people.

But there has always been a determination to stick to the routine of training. I love training. It gives me energy, as well as taking it away, it gets me outside (I  love being outside) and it keeps me on health straight and narrow (most of the time).

In week one there was a  conscious decision to ease back a little after the events of the pervious week. I was feeling tired. Work was demanding so I had to find that sweet spot between doing it and being consistent – and not being exhausted (managing tiredness is a key part of IM training) . The easiest way to do this was to take out intensity, so most of the sessions were done at an easy /steady intensity.

 

Week one

To keep running interesting but not exhausting I added in some strides to an easy run on Tuesday, including  7 x 30 secs and 3 x 1 min. An easy 2K swim and 35 mile evening bike ride on Wednesday were tiring, but again not flat out. But I did feel tired the following day, and even though it should be expected I did have a feeling of ‘oh dear will I ever run fast again?’ as I ran an easy paced hour. But experience reminded me that this is endurance training and on occasion that can mean feeling tired, and slow! On Friday energy levels were restored so that I managed an interval session on the bike in the Bri Tri Club My Ride session (2 x 10 x 40 secs) and I followed this up with a slow explore-jog. On Saturday I only had enough energy for an easy run to and from our club committee meeting and then on Sunday I really enjoyed a 3-hour off road, very easy, very hot – and very lost long run. It was hard at times but I have now worked out a great new route, and covered some more miles in preparation for South Downs Relay, coming in June.

Discovering bluebells on my long run

Week two

As the heatwave continued and tiredness kicked in, there was nothing for it but to hit the beach. I’m fortunate to own a thermal wetsuit and really enjoyed a 1100M swimming at a reasonable pace on Hove seafront. On Tuesday I ran. I used to run a session when marathon training (based on no sports science, just my own benchmark aerobic run) which was to keep 130 heart rate for 10 miles.  I decided to see where I was at 130 HR. It took ages to get my HR up. I didn’t quite manage the 8.00 min mile I used to run at this heart rate (moderate intensity), and had to settle for 8.20 and I’m guessing this is my top end of aerobic pace.  Wednesday demanded an early start as the trip to Ireland was planned or the afternoon, so I met Rachael for a 7am sea swim – it was cold! I was much slower than Monday partly due to the time of day, and partly due to a few extra waves. I made myself get out and run after the swim, feeling chilly in my Tri suit, but as always once I got going I felt good and enjoyed a 10K run. I decided to pack my running gear for my short visit to Ireland and got up reasonably early, and feeling very, very tired I managed an easy jog/explore around my mum’s home town.  On Friday I had no time to train – and was desk-bound for the day, so I was well-rested for Saturday’s half IM distance bike ride, followed by 40-minute run with the girls from Fitbitch – reminding me how great it is to train with like-minded athletes. And finally, a 33 mile bike ride has finished off the week. Next week it’s countdown to my second half Ironman – my first was Braveheart Ben Nevis – which was very different – so it kind of feels like a first! I have no idea what to expect time-wise – but I don’t think it’ll be fast.

Dream Team

 

Week 17 of 40: Getting out of my comfort zone

Monday April 22nd to Sunday April 29th: out of comfort zone

A few weeks ago I read on an inspirational business-type thing, about the value of getting out of your comfort zone every day. I wrote it down on a post-it and put in my purse – it’s stayed with me!

Yesterday (Sunday) I started to write this post with: 

‘I’m tired! This week’s training has added up to 14 hours… the most I’ve done in some time. But I’m also satisfied. This weekend was all about coming out of my comfort zone. One, to do the Swimathon on Friday night when I was feeling really tired and two to do the Puncher Sportive today, when I still feel under-confident on the bike.’

The Week

Monday: It’s my day off and I’m catching up where I left off yesterday. This is my fourth Monday off in a row. It’s become my routine.  I knew I’d pushed it last week with a FTP bike ride test, a Swimathon and a bike race within three days. In my notes to my coach I said, ‘At the end of the Puncher, I had the sort of tired feeling you have when you feel like going to sleep’, not what I expect when moving! My eyelids were heavy and I think if someone had produced a bed by the side of the road I would have conked out! So, yes, time for a rest. Rest is the time your body recuperates, muscle fibres rejoin (I know that’s not a technical explanation, but they do something), adaptations take place, that help get you fitter. And, as you get older, rest is even more important.

Tuesday:

A mid morning easy run exploring a ‘sort of’ off-road route in the mist (going around in circles on the golf course). I was out of my comfort zone taking turns into the mist and making myself run onto an unknown course.

Wednesday:

I joined Rachael from Girls Run the World for a really nice 630am 20-mile bike ride followed by an easy jog round Preston Park. Cycling still gets me out of my comfort zone. I always feel slightly uneasy about it. I also am not great getting up early and tend to not sleep the night before an early start where I’ve arranged to meet someone.

Doing a Brick session shoes and bike ready

Bricking It

Thursday:

I procrastinated and ended up not running until the end of the day. After been sat at my home office desk (the dinning room) doing accounts all day, the longer I left it, the harder it got to get out the door. Luckily, I had told two people what I had planned to do – I was accountable. So at 6pm, I got myself out the door and, once again, out of my comfort zone. I made a conscious decision to get out of my comfort zone further by going off-road. At that time of day it would be so much easier to head to the seafront. But I ran the 2 miles to the Downs, crossing the busy roundabouts by the A27, running into a field and a dead-end and climbing over a barbed wire fence to get back on track! I forced myself onto an unknown footpath that ran behind some houses and felt slightly uncomfortable about being on my own on unknown territory. And finally, I made myself get to nine miles, running an extra lap in the park at the finish.

Friday:

I was very tired. I struggled to get out of bed for the Bri Tri Club My Ride (Watt bike session) which I knew was the dreaded FTP test. I knew I had to go as places in the session are premium! I told myself the FTP test was probably not a bad option as I would work hard for 4 minutes as opposed to doing repetition intervals. I was delighted to improve my score from 159 to 170, which  divided by my body weight of 56Kg gives me a watts/kg power ratio of 3.06, putting me at the bottom of Cat 3 or Good! By Friday afternoon I was struggling to keep awake at my desk and the idea of swimming 5K in a pool seemed ridiculous. But after taking my daughter who’s learning to drive for an hour long drive I woke up – and when I got home I had no time to think so it was straight to the pool for the Swimathon. I was in a packed lane with slower swimmers at the start. I reasoned this was a good thing as it stopped me going too fast for the first 2K (I was even standing up half way at one point!). Once the pool cleared I got into a rhythm and found I was really enjoying the feeling of flow from just going up and down, length after length. After 4K my lack of swimming showed, with a little bit of cramp, but a drink a stretch and a few lengths not kicking saw it off. I was delighted to swim 1.47 for 5K (it’s on Strava. I did start my watch after the first 25M and I did 5K – although Swimathon gave me 1.54!).

Saturday:

Park run was considered but a lie-in and laze about seemed a far better option, and a recovery jog of just getting out there and moving for 5K was needed.

Sunday:

Today was my biggest step away from comfort. I have a niggling uncomfortable fear of cycling. It was sportive day and the ride (including getting there and back) added up to 5.5 hours long, and 75 miles with some hills, and an average pace of 13.7 mph, including 62.5 miles of the Puncher Sportive. I knew I had to not think too much and just do it. I decided I didn’t want too early a start, and that I’d go it alone. I headed off at 730am with tyres pumped, Garmin Edge charged, Garmin watch on, fuel and drinks on board and in the right clothing on what turned out to be a cold morning.

I was fortunate to find a group from Crawley Wheelers to tag onto for the first half and met some fellow Bri Tri club mates on the second half, but for most of the second half I was alone. I decided to stop thinking (about punctures, rain, etc…) and broke the distance down into sections. With around 10 miles to go I felt, as I said above, very tired. But I got on and got up Ditchling Beacon (for a brief moment I panicked that I may have to go down the Beacon to finish as lots of cyclists who had finished were heading back down. I knew I couldn’t do two Climbs), but as it was, the finish was at the top. I chose not to brick run, 75 miles is my longest run to date and I felt very happy with myself and ready to rest. And ready to go again this week!

 

 

Week 16 of 40: A good week’s tri training

Monday 16th April to Sunday 22nd April

Tri training this week has gone well. And as I sit here typing and trying to remember what I did in a pleasantly aching body, I’m reminded why I love training. I love pushing myself on tough hill climbs on the bike, and running in the heat for 21 miles. I like the feeling of doing the sessions, even if they’re not perfect. I love the heat of the unexpected April sunshine and I love the coldness of the sea (although I was very glad I had my thermal wetsuit, booties, thermal gloves and neoprene hat on and that the only cold I felt was on face, and in my teeth!).

So here’s how the week went. I had a day in London on Monday so used it as my day off, and I was recovering from my 30K (just short) run on Sunday. Recovery is important and  getting the training balance right is all about listening to my body – working hard but not too hard that I can’t train again the next day, and the day after, and for rest of the week.

By Tuesday I was feeling recovered, but not ready to go crazy! So I added in some faster work as part of a run in the park, 4 x 3-330 efforts at between 7.08 and 7.20 pace per mile with one min recovery. I met with coach Dave who reminded me the importance of protein in my diet – something that stayed with me for the rest of the week.

Tackling the Beacon with a migraine

Wednesday was a planned early start, and Tori turned up at my place at 550am. I put a familiar, ‘slightly not right feeling’ down to still being a little tired and the early start, and off we went. We climbed out of town on what felt like a summer’s morning, I felt pleased to be up early, but half an hour later, as we set off down Ditchling Beacon I realised that the sunlight flashing through the trees wasn’t the reason for the flashing lights I could see. And by the time we reached the bottom, I knew I was in the middle of a migraine, to be specific and ovocular migraine (distorted vision, a slightly sick out of it feeling, but not always the headache). I felt shaky and sick and the thought of going up the Beacon again made me think I’d need to get a cab. Not quite sure what to do, I said to Tori, we’ll keep going, but I felt very ropey. We stopped again. Then I rationalised that these migraines normally only last 30-40 minutes, and this could happen in the Ironman. A couple of nurofen, a Cliff Bar shot block and about 20 minutes of faffing and it started to clear… and I’m pleased to say I got up the Beacon (and Tori made up for the faffing by doing the Beacon twice!).

On Thursday I knew had to swim but still feeling a bit tired I  didn’t push it and focussed on  the catch and reminded myself to kick from the hips. Slow but sure. I followed this by a very easy seafront run of seven miles at nine-minute mile pace in the beautiful sunshine. It was just the right amount of training, as I knew My Ride (Spin class) on Friday morning needed energy!

Sure enough the Friday bike session was a good intense workout, with 10 x 40 secs  at 120 per cent of the FTP intensity. I ran there and followed this up with an easy run around the park – not even looking at my watch to register the pace, and being very conscious of again conserving energy for Saturday’s planned workout!

At  8am on Saturday morning I arrived at Tori’s and we drove to leg 11 of the South Down’s Relay which we’re running on June 3rd as members of the Bri Tri team. Leg 11 is my leg and there’s a lot of hills! I loved the run. We ran the two legs, 5.25 out, and back, adding up to 21 miles. After this we had a lot of food then met again for what was my first sea swim of the year. Just 800M but a good start. On Sunday I watched the London Marathon in bed, and tracked people I knew on the app… and I could see the heat was taking a lot of them down, well done everyone. After this it was a 30 mile easy bike ride with Ditchling Beacon at the end.  My training Peaks entry was this:

“Easy ride, on a bit of an unplanned route. Ended up doing a lot downhill but glad to get Ditchling Beacon climb in – was in a ‘I’m never going to like cycling’ mood but Ditchling changed that… don’t like cars, pot holes and time spent for what feels like not much reward, but hills make up for that! Do like hills.”

 

Week 14 and 15 of 40: I like the bike & joining in the Brighton Marathon

April 2nd to April 15th

In this two-week block I did some long bike-rides and long runs, including joining the Brighton Marathon for 18 miles.

I will return to blogging about my training weekly from next week as it helps keep me focussed on where I am.  But for the last two weeks have both been four-day work weeks, which means cramming… so here goes:

Longer Bike Rides and some good hills

Looking at my Strava records, the blobs I’m happy about, include the two longer rides (big mauve blobs), both of which included a climb up the infamous Ditchling Beacon, which has the following stats: length 0.9 miles / 1.45 km; height gain 143m; average gradient: 9%; max gradient: 16%. It hurts!

The Joy of Off-Road running

I was also very happy about my two long run blobs. First it was so good to get back on the Downs on Saturday as I practised leg 4 (out and back) in preparation for the South Downs Relay in June. Since moving to Brighton I’ve got out of the habit of regularly running off-road – a big mistake, as I really love it. In Eastbourne ,the Downs were less than a mile from my house and I had many tried and tested routes. Where I live now requires a little extra running to and from, but with the South Downs Ways sign-posting there’s really no excuse not to go off-road.

Support team: Triathlon Coach and Physio

I’ve also got started with triathlon coach, Dave Powell, who reminded me to invest in some Whey protein, for post-workout recovery fuel. I’ve also started taking supplements again. Every extra boost helps in preparation for the Ironman. I take CurraNZ, Alive Ultra 50-plus, Spatone liquid iron, which I’m adding to my smoothies and Pro D3 Vitamin D tablets for bone and muscle health.

Dave has started me off with a rough guide of four runs, two long bikes and a My Ride, and two swims (more to come once shoulder rehab is further along).

I also saw the Catherine, a new physiotherapist, who’s given me some exercises for my shoulder, which is still a little weaker post collar-bone break – but I’m confident will now get stronger.

The Sort of Brighton Marathon

And finally, today I joined in with the Brighton Marathon running 18.67 miles at 7.55 (sub 3.30 pace). I decided to run it last week as I realised that I couldn’t defer my place a second time and I think I probably spent around £150 over the two years on my number! I wanted to do a long run and I wanted to be involved in the marathon, which is literally on my doorstep. But I didn’t want to run a marathon without having done a long run of more than 17 miles.

I felt slightly fraudulent as I stood in Preston Park before the race started. As the announcer said things about ‘all those long runs’, I shuffled about nervously (I hadn’t done them!). I’ve done 20-plus marathons, and turning up at a start line this untrained was a first (an average of 25 miles per week as opposed to 50), but I knew from the start that even though I could complete the marathon, I wasn’t going to, because my focus now is the Ironman, and because in some ways I felt I hadn’t earned the right. I wondered if it was a of a bit stupid idea … but as soon as we started running, I was happy I’d made the right decision to run.

I loved been part of the race. I did my marathon morning ritual having porridge, lots of water, and energy drinks, but I was a lot more relaxed knowing I was really just doing a long run and not racing. And because I knew I wasn’t completing today, I chose not to wear my club vest or tell too many people my plan. I enjoyed running along comfortably at sub 8 min mile pace (I’d never do this pace on my own) with lots of other runners to keep me company. I love marathons… and today being so close to my new home town felt really special. A brilliant touch was the row of vintage ford escorts, minis and mods on scooters cheering and hooting their horns as we headed up towards Ovingdean. I felt the race love…

The lack of marathon training started to show after mile 15 as the pace dropped off slightly. I did wonder if some of it was psychological as I’d told myself I might continue if I was comfortably running along at sub 8 at 18 miles. But in some ways I was glad that the pace dropped off, as it reminded me that there is a reason for doing mileage when I’m marathon training. If I could go and run a marathon well off no proper training, then I’d have to ask myself why I’d bothered all those other times. Around 16 miles my hip flexor tightened and the tiredness of yesterday’s bike ride may have kicked in. It was good to feel the discomfort as it reminded me that the more time and consistency I apply to IM training the better the experience will be!

I got to 18 miles, and thought, I’ll just go a little further and then find a good place to stop. A huge part of me wanted to just finish the race. I worked out that the pace was dropping off and would probably mean the last eight miles would average 8.30-8.45, which would add up to at least another 1 hour 10 and that would get me in (totally knackered) in around 3.40. I knew it wasn’t worth it, but I still had grabbed an energy gel.

Thanks Rachael

It was then I spotted Rachel From Girls Run The World. I’d cycled with Rachael yesterday and she was one of the few people I’d told about my plan to stop. I hesitated before going over, but then when I did, and I stopped, that was it – I knew I wasn’t starting again. Rachael got me back in rational mode and reminded me, (as I think I’d asked her to if I saw her) that ‘Today’s not your race… your race is the Ironman’ (wise words Rachel, and as you say, one mile at a time ;).

So… now I’m a bit weary after two long days of training, but, I’m also ready for another week of swimming, running and cycling to prepare for the Ironman in 25 weeks. And to all my club-mates and friends who did train for and complete the marathon – really well done!

 

 

 

 

Week 12 and 13 of 40: Bri Tri Camp & Cycling (& Happy Easter)

March 19th to March April 1st

A good week of training at Triathlon Camp… here’s a piece I wrote for The Bri Tri Club about our week away.

And a good week after it, too. My first 10-hour plus week for a long time and I hope I can stick at this.

As I indicated, training is easy when life doesn’t get in the way. Getting out of bed and running in my swimsuit and dry robe out the door and into the pool, then eating a big breakfast,  and on the days it wasn’t raining, following this with a bike ride, and then a run along the prom, if you fancied… It was fun and do-able – without work, family life, washing, cooking and the general day to day stuff we’re all engaged in.

Being in Mallorca got me back on the bike and in a group of cyclists. And on Saturday I  went out on the bike again – and I hated it. I hate cycling. It takes ages, I’m no good at it and I don’t get fitter by doing it.

Oh dear… maybe I should have thought about this before I entered and paid for an Ironman… But seriously that was a low-blood-sugar-level rant written yesterday when I felt exhausted after my 50-mile jaunt to Eastbourne and back again.

The truth is, I’m very pleased with the last two weeks of training. I’ve managed to keep to my personal baseline for running at 30 miles (it was 50 when I was marathon training). Under 30 miles and I really think I’m no longer a runner – and I know lots of people (most) disagree with me on that one. But having run 20+ marathons I know what works for me when it comes to running (miles) and what doesn’t (less miles). I’ve also done a long bike and a spin session and a swim. But for now I’m off to eat some Easter Eggs, so all that’s left for this update is to say a very Happy Easter – and for anyone who saw my facebook post today, April Fool’s!

 

 

 

 

Week 11 of 40: Swim Smooth Stroke Analysis and pre-camp training

Monday 12th March to Sunday 18th March

This week was a pre-training camp week, so not too much work before arriving on Sunday, when the bulk of my week’s training was carried out, with the week’s IM training tally being three runs, three bikes, and one swim, which included some fantastic Swim Smooth stroke analysis.

The week started with a ‘just do it’ nine-mile easy run after the weekend. I decided to run for an hour to an hour and a half and not look at my watch and thoroughly enjoyed it. On Tuesday I returned to an old favourite of 6 x 1K with a 60-secs instead of 90-secs recovery. I went as hard as I could which on current form was my current half marathon pace (4.40).

On Wednesday I settled for a 30-minute My Ride spin session. I missed the slot on Thursday morning for a run, then it was back to the club My Ride session on Friday AM, with a killer 3 x 3 minutes at 120% FTP.

An unexpected turn of events on Friday meant no sleep at all before travelling on Saturday, so I was pleased with Sunday’s four-hour block on Day one of the Got To Tri Camp.

Swim Smooth Video Analysis: Work on the Catch

We were videoed to see how we swam and coaches Graeme and Rachel gave us excellent and detailed feedback using Swim Smooth Stroke Analysis.  My weakness is  in the catch and therefore I need to train myself to ‘reach over the barrel’. I lack power due to not engaging the big muscles in my back (latissimus dorsi). Our coaches base their analysis on Swim Smooth Training. In 2016 I had my style analysed by Fiona Ford, a leading Swim Smooth Coach who analysed me as a  Kicktastic swimmer, with a stroke characterised ‘by a very dominant and propulsive leg kick’ but one that ‘lacks catch and feel for the water with their arm stroke. As kicking is a relatively inefficient method of propulsion, and uses very large muscle groups, this swimmer is often short of breath.’ At the time I was probably running more frequently and more miles. A year on and my upper body and position in the water has improved, as has my cadence and rhythm, but the kick is similar, if not as robust. This time the coaches classified me as Bambino where, ‘Co-ordination in the water is a key concern and learning to improve their rhythm, timing and catch will really aid this’.  As someone who swam competitively as a child (6am in the morning for three or more years)  and loves open water swimming I think there were some limitations in the description from Swim Smooth, however, having not trained for three months I can see how this label fits. The focus for me in the run up to Barcelona is, says coach Rachel, about improving the catch and feel for the water by sculling/doggy paddle and trying a slightly increased stroke rate.

Check out the video of me in action!

Week 10 of 40: Fitness tests in the pool and on the bike

Monday 5th March to Sunday 11th March

This week was low in volume but I was pleased to fit in some fitness tests on the bike and in the pool. I also decided that I may swap the marathon for a half marathon as I focus my energy on the six month countdown to Ironman.

I had given myself a pass on hard training this week, as after three half marathons in five or six weeks and the start of the triathlon season, just around the corner, I thought I deserved a bit of recovery. But the recovery was a bit more than planned due to another turn of events, called life.

On Wednesday on what was hers and my dad’s birthday (he died last January), my aunty in Ireland died.  Being Ireland, funeral arrangements were quickly organised and we flew out on Saturday morning and back Saturday night.

Fitness Tests

Earlier in the week I’d managed a couple of swims and three My Ride (spinning) sessions, including another unexpected FTP test (see last week’s post). This time I scored a little higher, 164 (it was 159 the week before), but I’m not sure it was totally correct as I didn’t hit stop after I’d finished in time to record the result accurately, so I’ve given myself a FTP  of 162 (or 2.89 watt/kg) and am using that for sessions going forward.

I also attempted a Critical Swim Speed (CSS) test for swimming, which includes a warm up, then 400M at pace, with five to 10 minutes of easy swimming/drills, followed by 200M at pace. The times are recorded and from this you can estimate your goal time for 1500M and race pace in general. It tells you what your lactate threshold is, and, just like in running and cycling, training at this threshold pace once a week, can help you get fitter – and faster. You can read more about CSS testing here. I completed it at a busy public pool in a session time popular with senior citizens, so there were a few stops and diagonal lengths and for a more accurate result I will do the test again!

Maintenance now. Hard core very soon!

I have to confess to some bailing out and procrastination this week. For example, opting for a cup of tea with Bri Tri Club mates on Friday instead of going straight out to run (saying that the spinning session had been tough!). I did have the tea break and chat justified as I’m not in the six months red training zone!  However, I think this is the last month I can get away with this. After Easter it’s six months to go, and then I have to get my head down and get training, consistently – and up the volume of training. And from Easter onwards I have to say no to tea breaks and yes to running off the bike.

I’ll have a half!

However, when it comes to running the Marathon, I think it’s looking less likely. I had decided last week I’d need to do four 20 mile long runs to get me in shape. I’m now a long run – and a whole week of running – down. I think even my planned ‘tempo’ marathon maybe counter-productive when it comes to the longer term goal of the Ironman. And I’ve done enough marathons to know what training I need to do to enjoy it and run it well – and that box has not been ticked. So I’m going to stick with the half marathon, and soon after the 2018 triathlon season will be in full-swing.

To keep base building and for my peace of mind, I’ll try to fit in three more long runs before tri season starts. I love long runs (here’s what I think about long runs). And I haven’t forgotten that this summer, I also need to fit in long bike rides.

 

 

 

 

Week nine of 40 (part two): My 3rd Half Marathon for 2018

The week started slowly with three days of no training. And finished with a four-day cram and my 3rd Half Marathon of 2018.

In my last post, which I wrote half way through week nine on Wednesday night, I talked about the lack of training, due to work and family and life. Writing it down helped get me motivated – and I’m accountable – so with just four days left I had a renewed sense of purpose on Thursday morning kicking off the week then with a treadmill run and finishing on Sunday with a half marathon.

Week 9: cram training

The Dreadmill

The crazy session was 17-miles on the treadmill. I’d been inspired by fellow Endurance Woman Wendy Oates, who had shared her 18 mile treadmill run with the Facebook Group. Energised, I realised there was really no excuse, and the Beast from the East wasn’t getting through the doors of Withdean Stadium gym. I’m not a treadmill fan. The longest I’ve run in the past is around 10 to 15 miles. But, I found the experience really useful at this stage in training. For one, as my meditation course was drawing to a close on Thursday night, it gave me an opportunity to consolidate what I’ve learnt, and to practise mindful running. I find my biggest issue on the treadmill is a wandering (bored) mind. I get obsessed with numbers, time drags and my RPE is much higher relative to running outside. But, once I started to run in the moment I realised I felt fine, it wasn’t difficult, the pace was right for a long run, and I’m only where my mind is whether I’m up on the Downs or staring at the gym car park and listening to Absolute Radio. I believe all of this is good training for an endurance athlete, so with accountability in mind, I commit to the following:

I will do a long treadmill run once a month in the run up to IM (that’s six more sessions from April).

There was snow stopping Wendy – and she inspired me!

FTP Test

Ignoring all sensible advice and what I know about training and performance, I decided to follow Thursday with a hard FTP /Ramp test on the bike with the Bri Tri Club on Friday morning at 645am. Ideally, any test of V02 Max (which essentially is what the test measures)  should be performed when an athlete is well-rested. But at the moment I think it doesn’t really matter. I wanted a rough idea, and I think the test was fairly accurate. The problem with doing back to back hard sessions isn’t so much the short-term, it’s the longer term impact on recovery. But in my mind the psychological damage of not doing what I  had planned would have been worse. As it goes as I’m a fairly average cyclist so the test didn’t go on for very long,  but I do have a benchmark from which I can measure my bike fitness – and an incentive to get on my bike. For anyone who’s an expert in FTP and Ramp tests (I know that there is a difference) and the sports scientists among you, I’m still learning about the variables, so don’t want to give any incorrect information. I did the Ramp Test on a My Ride bike at the gym, and from this I can train in colour zones/intensity relative to me: https://www.teamicg.com/is/bikes/ic7/wattrate. My score was 159 which if I divide by 55.5Kg (my weight) gives me this score, 2.86 which is my watts/kg.

Tri Training: Trying to fit it all in

I had hoped to fit in another bike session, but tiredness did kick in, so on Saturday I ran an easy five miles and swam 2.5K at a steady pace. Then on Sunday, on a mission to race myself fit I took on the Eastbourne Half Marathon, revisiting the town I left in August last year.

Eastbourne Half

The treadmill session, FTP test and the 2.5K swim did catch up with me. The half marathon was perfectly manageable, but there was nothing in me that would let me race. I crawled up the infamous hill (9.27)  and decided to try to get it back by picking up the pace to a nice 6.44 on the down. When I reached the seafront I decided to race and try to catch the women ahead, which I did… but not for long. In the past (or when I’m rested) I can inject some speed in a race and then go back to the pace the other runner was at and stay ahead, in this case 7.22 to overtake, and then back to just under 7.30. But it didn’t go to plan. Yes, I was quite happy at 7.22 for one mile, but rather than settle back to 7.30 for the rest of the race, I only managed one mile at 7.30.  Once I realised I was slowing down, I consciously decided to stop racing and just run the race at a tempo pace, which turned out to be an average of 7.54 for the remaining six miles and a race average of 7.47, which for where I’m at now was just fine. I followed the race with a 1K swim and sauna (surprisingly I had achy arms when swimming not legs) – and had a satisfying Sunday lunch and complete crash, rounding off another week’s training.

Week eight and half of nine of 40: Start, stop, snow, go…

Monday 19th February to Wednesday 28th February

Winter Triathlon Training

Week eight’s training was good. I had a busy work week with two London work days, but I was feeling enthusiastic to get going again after skiing. I went back to My Ride and the track at running club on Monday, I swam for the first time in 13 weeks on Tuesday, and I got back on the bike on the road (well the flat prom) for the first time since my accident in bitterly cold wind, but sunshine. Finally, after a busy few days in London including visiting the Tri Show in London I ran the Brighton Half Marathon on Sunday at the goal pace of sub 7.30 (on my Garmin). There are 168 hours in a week and I trained for six hours and 47 minutes and I felt satisfied with a good solid week of training and focus on my goals.

Thanks to Ant Bliss from sussexsportphotography.com for sharing this pic with me on Facebook.
A great race photographer and friend.

Snow Go

The first half of week nine however has not been so good. We’ve had the dreaded Beast From The East, the snow and the freezing cold. I don’t usually let weather stop me, and have always chosen to run in the snow, but this time I thought I’d be a bit more cautious, as I didn’t want to risk falling on black, or any other kind of ice. So I gave myself a day off on Monday. However, yesterday, Tuesday was one of those training days that just went wrong from the off, largely due to indecision and procrastination.

I put on my kit first thing intending on running outside, then I saw the snow and decided to do an interval session at the gym later in the day. Then I started work. I had to go to town in the afternoon and decided I’d run after that, but a variety of hold ups and becoming extremely cold (I’d gone out in my running gear and lightweight jacket) meant I simply ran out of time and motivation, and if I’m really honest I gave myself an excuse not to train.

False Start

This morning, I got up early to go to My Ride spin class at the gym, with a plan to follow this with a treadmill run. I arrived at 635am and could see that the gym was closed. A sign on the door said, it was opening at 8am.  As it turned out this was a blessing in disguise as when I got home I got a call from family about a close relative who’d been rushed to hospital, and all training and other plans were put on hold.

I know that running and training makes me feel good and not running and training makes me feel bad – and I also know that consistency is vital for success. I could have run when I got back from London this evening, but I chose not to. Family is more important than Strava logs and sometimes stopping, reflecting and resting is what’s needed.

If you can…Start again

If we’re lucky, every day is a chance to start again and presents us with a blank canvas. Every day my alarm call is Feeling Good  by Nina Simone,  ‘It’s a new dawnIt’s a new dayIt’s a new life. For me. And I’m feeling good.’  So, let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Last week:

 

This week so far: