10 Things to Tell You About Ironman Training (4-weeks to go)

This week (September 10th to September 16th 2018)  I wanted to tell you about Ironman training and share some surprises,  some facts, and some lessons I’ve learnt over the last seven days from a typical week of Ironman Training…

1. Your immune system gets… confused

I mentioned in last week’s post that I was flagging and on Lemsip-alert, a familiar feeling from my marathon running days. On the day we left for Barcelona, I had the achy, slightly shivery, tired feeling, familiar with the onset of a cold, or as I’ve come to recognise over years of endurance training, a slight imbalance, a tip over the edge, familiar when I train harder. It lingered in Barcleona, but I managed to train. For a week I’d wake up thinking, there’s no way I’ll train today, then I’d be fine, then ill, then fine. (I’m pleased to report I’m currently fine!)

2. Tired all the time (TAT)

I’ve been so tired this week. I had two days off, one for travel, one for exhaustion. I ran on Wednesday night, but it was more like crawling at the end, I could barely put one foot in front of the other, and my body felt like lead I was clocking 11 minute miles and just willing myself to get home. This was closely linked to the point above. But, as I know these feelings pass. By Sunday 9-minute miles for 16 felt totally fine after a bike ride and a big training day on Saturday.

3. Welcome a Rollercoaster of emotions

Ironman training makes me happy, and it makes me sad, angry and chilled, competitive and couldn’t give a sh**e (more of the latter as the weeks have gone by – it’s really about finishing now). Like my immune system my emotional barometer is on freefall one day and the sun is shining the next. No it’s not the menopause – it really is training. One session I’m screaming venom about cycling thinking of nothing but impending doom and going over the handlebars; the next session I’m loving the feeling of the smooth roads, and the sunshine and enjoying that Autumnal feeling of expectation and excitement being just round the corner.

4. It takes up the whole bloody weekend

I’m getting to the point of longing for a Saturday morning when I do a park run, have a croissant and a coffee – and have time to clean the house – and even doing the washing! And maybe even go shopping for winter clothes… I’m getting carried away now. After all, I’ve spent all my money on… whiskey and beer? diamonds and pearls? No – on bikes, races, training, tools, gas canisters, socks, butt shield (yep), nutrition, and lock laces.

5. Enough Already?

You know the 2018 life-coach/counsellor/guru mantra, ‘You are enough’. But with Ironman training, I can sometimes feel like I’m just not doing enough, damn it! There’s always someone knocking out 17, 20, 30 hours a week, as well as working full-time, rustling up whole-food wonders on instagram, and being successful in minimalist and immaculate homes. Meanwhile I rush in and swig a lager (followed by an Erdinger) and hungrily scoff a bag or two of marmite crisps. The dreaded Social media can give you the comparison-wobbles – but as I know, only if you let it! The truth is, enough is really enough… more isn’t always better, and we are all different. Different lives, families, work and different bodies and capabilities. And no one really cares anyway.

6. It makes you hungry, ‘hangry’ & not hungry all in one day!

After a weekend training and surviving for hours on bloks and drinks, Mondays are usually ‘eating all day’ day. On Saturday morning I ate a bagel and a banana and was out the door by 830am and didn’t finish training until about 530pm. The session was a bike ride with a coffee/half a bacon sarnie stop, some protein bars, and a hydration drink; this was followed by a 10K run, with some pre-run chocolate, and then Cliff bar bloks; then a sea swim. We were hungry and talked about food all through training, and quickly consumed post-training coffee and cake, then crisps and a beer and prawn crackers. By the time it came to eating the ‘proper meal’ at around 9pm I didn’t know if I was hungry or not, and only managed half my rice and chicken. The following day on the short ride/long run we ate blocks and drank water from the public toilet taps (forgot the camelback). We ravenously ate M&S egg and tomato sandwiches and crisps, snacked more on chocolate. I fluctuated between starving and too tired to feel hungry. I ordered a pizza, it didn’t arrive, again by the time it did come (without cheese horror) I was eating for the sake of it.  Monday is eating day!

7. It’s a great way to end the week

When the long swim, the long ride and the long bike are complete, the feeling is one of accomplishment. The messy house, the sunburnt nose, and wild hair, the very tardy nails and exhaustion don’t matter. I’m starting to feel fitter.

8. It includes a lot of cycling

I knew doing an Ironman was going to include a lot of cycling. I hadn’t appreciated how much – and how six hours on the bike was going to impact on my social life! I haven’t done enough (but enough for me – see point five). I’ve broken two collarbones, I’ve loathed the bike, and loved it, and I’ve learnt loads about the roads and good/bad driving. I read somewhere that an Ironman is bike race with a swim and a run added on. I tend to agree.

9. Marathons will never be the same again

As anyone who has read my blog will know, I love running. But, my body was starting to give me warning signs, more niggles, stiffness, aches and pains. I would run 50-70 miles per week and always tried to do 60 miles a week for six weeks before tapering for three weeks. For the Ironman I’ve done about 25 miles a week. I will never complain about a long run again, six hours on a bike is a lot harder than three hours on the run (I think mainly because I’m not very patient). Is a marathon going to seem easy after this? One thing is for sure my body is thanking me. Swimming strengthens the core and keeps me flexible, and it’s good for the mind and soul. Cycling makes me strong. On Saturday I did feel strong running. The triathletes were right, cycling does help your running (well, I’ll have to see what I do park run in come November).

10. I’ll miss Ironman training when it’s gone…

With all my moaning and groaning, my anxiety and negativity (there’s been a lot), I have also had an equal measure of loving it – all. I’m proud of myself for getting back on the bike and learning two new sports. I’m now part of Zwift and wear long lycra shorts – I’ve even got a ‘twat hat’, and I wake up on Monday morning with bike oil on my legs! Bring it on… well almost, it’s an Ironman, I’m not tapering yet, there’s another week of hard training to go before that happens.

 

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10 Weeks To Go: Triathlon Training After Surgery

Sunday 29th July to Tuesday August 7th: the 10 and some of nine week countdown: Triathlon Training After Surgery starts on the Turbo

I left off the last blog post on Saturday – it feels like a long nine days, but lots of progress has been made.  I was still wearing the horrible post-op dressing, and only sleeping on one side, propped up by pillows. Now I’m dressing-free (well I’m wearing a plaster because the scar is ugly!) and able to sleep on whatever side I like.

 

A week is a long time in recovery

I kicked off triathlon training after surgery with a turbo bike on Sunday and a turbo, brick session on the treadmill (with sling) on Monday.  On Tuesday I endured a painful (and slow) 11-mile seafront run with my sling. It’s amazing how much work the other arm was doing! On Wednesday I combined picking up my son from work with another sling-run. It was hot, I was not.  But it was a few more miles ticked off. On Wednesday night Chris brought the Tacx Turbo trainer over  – a new way to train.

On Thursday morning I spent at least an hour reviving my old Apple Mac with its big screen, downloading Zwift and turning the wheels on the bike to get set up for Turbo training at home.  A full day in London with lots of walking and hot tube travel put paid to training and I had a day off.

On Friday I felt deflated and down! I trained on the turbo for 1 hour 37 minutes, leaning on my sweaty pillow, but faffed about trying to get connections for a lot longer. With the help of Facebook Friends (thank you to The Tri Store’s all-round guru, Simon Underwood) I realised I had over-used my Bluetooth connections – and I needed to calibrate my bike with Zwift and Tacx. Zwift will not connect to my Garmin Heart Rate monitor, my Garmin Edge and the Tacx. Someone else suggested I bin Barcelona and start again next year – and on Friday that’s what I felt like doing.

Tech Trouble (not good for an inpatient woman)

I’m not patient! Saturday morning was also frustrating in terms of connections and set up, but I stuck with it and  did two hours on the turbo broken up as a 45-minute FTP test, two other stop/start blocks and in the evening a 30-minute spin.

With Pride on in Brighton I wanted to watch the parade so decided to combine a walk/sling run with watching the parade (amazing). I weaved my way through the crowds, stopping and starting, and got very hot. And on a whim decided to try the sea. The lifeguard looked after my phone and I got into the sea in my running gear, not sure what to expect. It was blissful, I felt the healing qualities immediately and decided to have a go at one-armed swimming, then breast-stroke, then a few full strokes. I ran home and did my final spin and felt happy to have got three hours training ticked off for the day. It was disjointed, it wasn’t partially high quality, but it felt like progress.

On Sunday, best-laid plans went out the window again in the morning and Chris and I lazed in the garden drinking coffee. We finally got out in the afternoon and managed a 10K at around 9.15 pace, which felt better than my slog of earlier in the week. I ran some of this sling-free, but when the aching started I put it back on. After this, we had another sea swim, a little further this time, and a few more full strokes. And after this we saw Chic playing at the final Pride event in my local park! Brilliant!

To Race or not to Race?

The decision as to whether I race or not won’t be made until August 23rd. At the moment almost normal services have resumed, but this is an Ironman and my bike training is lacking. I’m trying to ignore looking at what others are doing or have done on Strava and the like. I don’t need reminding that volume is low, but at the same time, I’m still enjoying doing what I can do, and the small conquests along the way.  The timing of my accident was bad. August and September were/are set to be the peak training for Barcelona. This is when I expected to be doing 20-hour weeks, but with the turbo for bike training, that’s a little harder (but not impossible) to achieve.

Zwift – We Have Contact (& a custom top)

I’m now halfway through the nine-week countdown. The week has started better. Chris set up Zwift with Ant so now bluetooth picks up my heart rate monitor. I’ve also calibrated my bike to Zwift. And I’ve managed two good sessions over the last two days and another swim, this time in the pool with my pull-bouy and float. I messed about for 28 minutes and covered around 750M.

I’ve unlocked the Zwift vest… I’m a bumble bee

My brilliant cousin, Patricia, from Sligo Kinesiology, in Ireland sent me some Kinesiology exercises to do, and I’ve got some resistance work (squats, lunges, core work) prescribed by Marianne – and in the day I’m mainly sling-free. I’m on the turbo without my sweaty pillow and think I’ll be back on the road again soon, in the tuck position on my time trial bike.

So for now I’m blocking out and not listening to the naysayers and being inspired by those who are just doing it.

Well done Joanne

The brilliant Joanne Smith, completed her first Ironman this weekend, with a number of health issues in the background, far more complicated than a broken bone.  Well done Joanne, inspirational – and I hope to share her story soon.

The journey continues…

Bad bandaging!

 

 

 

13 weeks to go – The Galway Tribesman Middle Distance Tri

This week I had a lower volume week & raced The Galway Middle Distance Tribesman Triathlon.

Wednesday 11th

I’m writing this before we go. I’ve done my pre-Galway training now. I’m working with a new coach, Marianne.  She helped get four other triathletes cross the finish line in Nice, I’ll be talking to them very soon. Watch this space.

So this week started, dare it I say it, with me feeling knackered – again! This time it was because I’d just done 85 miles on the bike. So on Monday I just managed a swim set, which was 2.2K and sets of 300s. On Tuesday I met my friend Tori and hit the Velodrome which I’m very fortunate to live less than five minutes from. I’ve not really used it before so it took a while to get going but an hour spinning round was a good session – just got to get round one lap in under a minute next time! After this we did a very gentle 3.5 mile jog round the park. Today (Wednesday 11th) My HRV app was showing I was tired – I knew I was but good to have it confirmed. I decided I had to complete my Watt Bike and swim set, tired or not. I’m still struggling to get the RPM up on the Watt bike but with a very low/no gear I can manage 85 to 95! After an hour on the bike, my legs were like led for the first 200M of the swim, but I soon settled into an easy pace and completed 3.5K in the pool.

Monday 16th July – looking back on the week

So the week had less hours of training overall than previous weeks,  and two days off, but obviously there as a little more quality as I raced a middle distance triathlon.  I broke a 31-day run of no days off – with triathlon, I feel I need less rest and recovery than with straight running, so a total day off isn’t always necessary, just less intensity and a mixing up the activities seems to offer recovery. Mentally, however, whether swimming easy, or running hard, it may sometimes work to have that day off, especially before and after racing.

 

On Thursday I travelled to Ireland on the boat, so a very early start and packing put paid to any training and I was glad I had scheduled a day’s rest.

On Friday we managed an easy run on the seafront in Galway reviving a lot of childhood memories of stop-offs at Salthill with its 40ft diving board into the sea (it was in fact about 15 to 20ft but it was firmly etched in my childhood memory as being 40ft).

Close to the edge? Well not quite!

As a young girl (who loved to dive off the top board at home) I’d always wanted to dive off but mum and dad hadn’t allowed me (not surprising when I stood up there). My cousin did remind me I had jumped from it on a hungover morning in my 20s (but I couldn’t remember that!).

It was on Friday morning that I’d realised my Garmin 920 XT had limited battery, that the race was in fact on Saturday not Sunday as we’d somehow told ourselves, and after some panic and a few calls I realised I was actually entered in the race (I just hadn’t received the confirmation email). It was a blessing in disguise, when you come to race, you come to race, so another day mooching round the shops and seafront wasn’t needed. After our bike ride we drove the bike course. After the boat journey and early starts I was dropping off as we drove along the windy and roads through beautiful Connemara. I had that real sense of the distance. Weirdly it seems longer in the car than on the bike to me!

The Galway Middle Distance Tribesman Triathlon

Before we’d left I’d said to Chris we’d better double-check whether we should be packing our TT bikes, but as the website had declared it wasn’t a course for PBs and to look out for the big hill between 40 and 50K we’d opted for road bikes. As it goes there was no giant hill, and the undulating course was well-suited to TT bikes.

The swim in the River Corrib, was perfect. I decided to do exactly as Marianne had advised, stay relaxed, practise drafting and sighting. It worked, I had a great swim for me, and was delighted to see quite a few bikes when I got out of the water – and for the first time ever, I was out the same time as Chris. Even though I’m still a slow swimmer, I’m really pleased that now I don’t think what’s lurking beneath the weeds, or panic, or try to get away from other swimmers (clearly not a good strategy). Now it’s all about staying relaxed, enjoying the stretch out, focusing on who to follow and making sure I’m not swimming too far off target!

On the bike things changed, and as TT bike after TT bike whizzed past me, I was cursing about not bringing the TT bike. This was race-head irrationality, it really wouldn’t have made that much difference, these cyclists were all men and all faster than me, whatever bike they were on! And as it goes the wind further up the course may have thrown me a little on the TT bike.

As we approached half-way, I started to get a bit of a sinking feeling as I counted how many were ahead of me. By the time I reached 40 I was seeing quite a few women – I thought around eight to 10. I estimated I was in the bottom third now (haven’t double checked yet but reckon I wasn’t far wrong). The rain and wind picked up on the way back, and there were a few stops for traffic, but overall it was a great bike course, undulating, great roads, and when I did look up and peer through the mist and spray, stunning scenery. Having run the course in the Connemara half, marathon and ultra, these were roads I was familiar with, but on the bike they didn’t seem quite as tough!

My Mad Race Head

My main aim on the run was to catch the women who I’d seen 20-plus minutes ahead of me! A typically unrealistic race mentality. Even though my running is in my running eyes pretty poor, by triathlete standards I’m still okay, especially when compared to the bike, so I managed to work my way through the runners, only overtaken twice by two faster men, one of whom I reckon was a lap ahead anyway! I like laps and aimed as I did at Swashbuckler to keep my pace at 8 min mile. Around halfway the low battery sign popped up so I couldn’t see the pace which I knew was flagging. My race head – which I do watch and find amusing as it chats away to me in races – said two things, one not being able to see the pace was the reason I was slowing down and then the other part of my head was telling me, it’s  a good thing you can’t see the pace slowing down, or you’d slow down more! As for catching women, I only managed to catch up with one, and women who I thought were ahead of me where behind me, the woman I thought was leading was in fact fourth (she must have wondered why I was so enthusiastic in my well dones as she’d passed me).

Through the whole race I didn’t look at my watch to see what the overall time was but on the last lap I spotted five something and wondered if I might crack 5.30. As it was I came in on my watch in 5.31 an on the clock in 5.32. According to the first set of results I was first V50 and sixth woman. After checking splits and chatting to Chris (who’d finished in 5.18) I felt satisfied that progress has been made, and allowed myself a little celebration – a couple of glasses of Guinness and a lot of food! The boat’s pulling into the harbour as I type. The week ahead includes another trip to my son’s graduation, but once again  it’s all about getting back on it and being psyched up for the 12-week countdown to Barcelona.

 

Kona Mum on a Mission

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Celia Boothman, 42, runs a personal triathlon and nutrition service and is based in Wales. The mum of two boys, Devon, 11 and Milo, eight, qualified for Kona after completing IronMan Wales in 2016. Despite coming off her bike in Kona, the iron woman soldiered on and completed the world champ race in 11.09. She continues to race, train and coach others and is soon launching training weekends for other triathletes.

It’s a good thing Celia says one of her strengths is keeping calm under pressure. After addicated training programme in the build up to the race of her life, the Kona World Triathlon Championships, she crashed her bike, and was flung over the handlebars. But never one to give, up Celia went on to finish the race and gained second place GB athlete in the 40 to 45 age group.

Based in Ironman Wales country, Celia runs a personal triathlon and nutrition service from her family home.  ‘I focus on performance and nutrition for long and short course triathletes,’ she says. ‘I love working with people who enjoy being outdoors, who love to train and are available to train and have a no fuss attitude to performance.’  Services she offers included one to one coaching, online training and nutrition packages as well as rural training weekends with a focus on great food, and optimum nutrition.

‘I was an active, outdoorsy child and I still love being outside,’ she says. Running is a strength, (she ran a 3.31 in an IronMan marathon), ‘I’ve run from a very early age, managing to get into the cross country team and race against the boys. I loved mud and racing,’ she says. Even though she always a competent runner, Celia had to work harder to master cycling, but time trials and time on the bike helped her reach a high standard, including winning the Welsh National 100 Mile time trial in 2014.’

In her younger years, Celia worked as an outdoor instructor in North Wales, which is where she learnt to perfect her ability to keep calm under pressure and stay in the moment. ‘Once climbing I was with a guy who couldn’t complete a traverse on the route that we were on. I had no choice but to go ahead and take over. I think keeping calm and just looking what had to be done in that moment really helped,’ she says. After doing a degree in textiles, Celia settled on a career in teaching before going to marry and have children.

‘In 2005, now married with two kids we decided to move to Wales – and this marked the start of my new life. I’d always run to keep fit but the time came to join a running club, but the average age was a fair bit older.  So looking for friendships with like-minded people I went along to the triathlon club as I’d heard there were younger members there. My triathlon career started with a super sprint and as time went by, I gradually built up the distance and did more racing. My first proper focussed race was the Anglesey Sandman in 2012 (olympic distance) – it was televised and I won it. I started to realise I was quite good at this and decided to follow a plan for the Slateman olympic distance race, another tough race. A half ironman followed this and by 2014, I was ready to take on my first Ironman.

‘For the first IronMan, I was self-coached, tapping into resources such as Joe Friel’s Training Bible and Your Best Triathlon books. I love to learn and have passion for reading books and podcasts. It took discipline to train by myself but I do quite like to train alone and with young children I had to fit it in when I could. I worked strategies to manage my time around family life, for example, getting up very early to go swimming. However, I didn’t burn the candle at both ends and made sure I was always in bed by 930pm. When training for Kona in 2017 I typically trained around 14 hours per week, but I did hit 25 on one occasion. 

‘The key to successfully completing training was always good planning,’ she says. ‘I’ll always have kit ready the night before if I’m getting up early. Often, I’d use dead travel time to train, for example I’d get my husband to drop me off on the way to or from a day out.’

As well as loving to learn, and train, Celia loves to cook and over the years she’s become more interested in nutrition. ‘Getting fuel right for triathlon training, particularly Ironman is so important. Like my training I always plan the family’s meals and try to keep it simple and healthy and ensure we always have a balanced meal such as a roast, stews with loads of veg, and we eat a lot of veggie meals. We shop at the supermarket, the farmer’s market and we have our vegetables delivered,’ she adds. ‘I used to watch my mother cooking and it’s something I love to do.’ But when it comes to training I do have to eat on the go and will choose peanut butter and rice cakes, left-over meat or oily fish with some pitta bread – but I won’t choose junk.’

I always like to have a goal and I believe that when I’m coaching someone they should have a goal but also love what they’re doing, and do it because they want to, not because someone else has told them they should. Training to be a coach was the natural progression. ‘I started off with the British Triathlon Level 2 coaching then followed this with other personal training qualifications. I launched Love the Rain in 2014,’ she says. Why Love the Rain? ‘I love being outdoors, I love being in the elements – if you love the rain you love life.’

As a coach Celia’s focus is on performance and nutrition for long and short course triathletes. She provides online training and nutrition packages and rural training weekends with a focus on great food, and optimum nutrition. Find out about her services here and download a free IronMan Training Schedule, here. http://ltrcoaching.co.uk/.

Ironman Triathlete Lucy Charles shares her top training tips

Red Bull athlete & double-world champion Lucy Charles shares her bike/run triathlon tips.

The bike

No one discipline in triathlon is more important than the other. But out of swimming, cycling and running, it’s on the bike where competitors really have to put in the long hours. In an Ironman-distance triathlon, the sport’s most extreme format, competitors swim 3.8km, run 42km… but bike a massive 180km.

Cycling requires skill, balance, strength and determination in order to power through and get it done well.

PREPARATION Knowing and trusting your kit is important especially when you have fast descents and tough climbs. One of the things I swear by is a power meter in my cranks which gives me feedback on power. It means I can make sure I am not going too hard on the climbs or free wheeling too much on the descents.

For long rides, you need to make sure you are comfortable and aerodynamic. I use pads on my handlebars which help me with both of those things. Padding in your shorts is crucial… otherwise you are in for uncomfortable ride.

TECHNIQUE You want the bike to be an extension of yourself so that you can control the power you are putting through the bike. If you are new to cycling, like I was in 2014, it may take a lot of hours in the saddle to feel comfortable. Every week I will do at least one long ride which is a minimum of three hours but it is good to mix up your training with a spin class and a group ride as well. I absolutely love group rides, they make a really long session go a lot quicker.

Using turbo trainers – a stationary bike – can help with your cycling strength and if you throw in things like Zwift to the mix, you can make training more exciting by racing in a virtual world. Time spent in the gym is time shaved off your bike split.

BIKE FITNESS You want to make sure you are supplementing your riding with specific gym work that will help you see improvements when you are out on the bike. I typically spend one to two hours in the gym solely dedicated to cycling. These exercises include leg extensions, hamstring curls, squats. The other key is single leg work because you need to have a good left-right balance.

OPTIMISING PERFORMANCE

In order to get the right output, you need to get the right input. Nutrition is key – and entirely unique to each person. It is a case of trying something, seeing if it works for you and then sticking to that formula. I typically have 60-90g of carbs per hour during a ride which makes sure m energy levels are topped up and I don’t have any flat points at any stage during a ride. If I do feel like I need that little bit extra then I top up with caffeine.

Once you have found that perfect balance of what works for you nutritionally, it is great to focus on other parts of your training like max interval training between 10-60 seconds. It is also good to find a nice loop and really perfect your cornering skills, doing time trial races can really see what you are capable of and put down your max power output. There is always a  percentage to be gained.

RECOVERY Riding on the road is really gruelling, particularly if you out on the saddle for up to six hours exposed to the elements. It is really important to get that relaxation and recovery going straight away after a ride. You need to stretch out the leg muscles and your back so that you do not stiffen up. Get your nutrition on board within the magic 30-minute window to replace all that you have spent on the bike.

It is not enough to go out and ust train, you need to reflect on the data that you have collected and review what you have done to learn from it for the next session

THE RUN

PREPARATION Ensure you are wearing the correct shoes for your run. If you are running of- road, trail shoes will give you that stability and grip that you need on the more uneven terrain.



The other shoes that I have are race flats. They have not got as much support in them or as much cushioning but they are a lot faster, so when I am racing, road running or on the track, I wear the flats. You don’t have too much other kit to think about in running but you might as well be comfortable. So make sure you are wearing breathable layers, you don’t want to be damp when you are running.

A heart rate monitor will link up to your watch and let you see your pace as well as your heart rate. This is crucial to make sure that you are not surging on climbs or slowing down but keeping a nice, even pace.

REFINING TECHNIQUE Running is really pure and simple – but when you start to explore it there is a lot going on.

Working on things like stride length (EW says: improve stride length and frequency by running on the hills), cadence, body position and breathing will make your running easier and more efficient.

Stay relaxed by focusing on breathing properly, don’t exhaust yourself by taking shallow breaths. Stay nice a relaxed and get the oxygen.

Build up your running mileage gradually by setting goals and targets and ticking them off – this keeps you motivated to keep getting better.

Mix up the terrain – choose from road, trail or treadmill, I find this changes things up nicely and also helps to keep me motivated.

 STRENGTH TRAINING There are loads of things you can do in the gym that are going to complement your running without having to go and smashout loads of miles. But, don’t worry a gym membership isn’t required, bodyweight squats and lunges are all going to help with your running.

The key things that will see you notice improvements when you are running are core strength, stability, leg strength and plyometrics (aka explosive movement).

Working on box jumps, planks, side planks and flutter kicks will help you build your core strength. Make sure you do not neglect your glutes, they’re the key to stability while running.

ACCELERATE PERFORMANCE GAINS The key thing is to stay dedicated to your plan, work up your training gradually and you’ll begin to notice the gains. If you get sued to a regular routine of runs, try adding in extra workouts that can give you a performance boost. Incorporating a tempo run – running at near-race pace – into your training can also help get the competitive juices flowing.

Doing at least one long run a week helps build endurance. This might be the run where you are likely to be bored, try running with music or with a friend to give you some distractions and extra motivation. But if you are struggling with the regularity of your breathing, forget the music and focus on the rhythm of your breathing.If you’re running for more than an hour, carry water with you, ideally in something like a Camelbak to spread the weight around evenly.

RECOVERY As soon as your run is finished, focus on rehydrating, stretching, controlling your heart rate with proper breathing and getting warm.

Stretch for 10-15 minutes at the end of the run, holding the stretches for 15-30 seconds for each muscle group.

If you’ve got a heart rate monitor, use the stretching time to begin analysing your running data. Get some protein on board within 30 minutes of the run – ideally, prep what you’ll need for your post-run meal before you head out.



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 three of 40: Getting back in the groove

Monday 15th January to Sunday 21st

Training last week got me feeling back in the groove. I’m taking baby steps back to Ironman training. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I feel fitter and I even managed to go for a run sling-free on Sunday!

So here’s the week of Ironman training… On Monday evening I headed off to My Ride (spin class). The instructor saw my sling and spent ages getting me set up and in place, but two minutes into the class I started to get the familiar flashing lights that show a migraine is on its way. For me my migraines are more about vision than the super intense headaches, starting with a few flecks, and flashes, then full-blown kaleidoscope after about 10 minutes. I tried sticking it out for two tracks, but the Toronto river walk on the screen was making me feel sick and I could barely see, so off I went!

Tuesday started much better, although the migraine had lingered on all night on Monday, so I still kept the pace easy and enjoyed a 10 mile sling-run along the seafront. On Wednesday I had a busy day in London so it was an early start at My Ride, then off! On Thursday I met Rachael Woolston for an FTP test. I’m not quite sure I mastered it, but the score was, as I expected very low,  but it was good to get a benchmark. After this session I ran and felt okay so decided to throw in some tempo running around 8 min mile pace and managed five miles at this pace, nearly nine in total (I’m conscious that marathons need mileage so it’s good to add in extra when I can). On Friday I joined Bri Tri Club for our early morning spin class. Using My Ride, we were training in colour zones (blue easy, red, hard – that’s very simplified) which was motivating and good fun. I followed this with a freezing cold sling-run, including one mile sling-free. I headed off to The National Running Show on the 7.09am train on Saturday morning and didn’t train, but on Sunday I met Rachael near the NEC and we had a chatty run around a small lake. I had intended to continue round the lake, but when I found myself jogging in the Hilton car park, I felt it was time for the treadmill.  headed inside and hopped on for a 10K run (I say hopped on, it takes all my mental strength to do a treadmill session). I managed the entire 11.5 miles without my sling. I was four miles short of a target of 41, but pleased to be back to basics.

Fiona Bugler's collar bone break X-ray showing six screws and plate

Clever surgeons have nailed it!

So-long sling

Week two of 40: New Goals

Monday 8th January to Sunday 14th

Week two of 40 weeks of Ironman Training with the focus still on recovery and building fitness for the first shorter term goal of getting fit enough to run the Brighton Marathon.

Week two was about getting started again, and getting some goals in place.  My collar-bone feels very stiff and I’m guessing it’s how should feel when the bone starts fusing back, but it’s making me feel a bit more cautious about  doing longer or faster running.

I didn’t quite manage the 10 hours plan! I did train for 5.5 hours. I think 10 is probably too lofty a goal at this stage.  The good things were the weight gain, dropped off and I’m not fast, but I’m not too unfit as I was able to get out and about and join My Ride classes and do some easy ‘sling-running’.

Sling Runner

Week two included getting my tooth fixed, and losing the top-dressing on my clavicle and I’m moving about and mostly normal! I went to the physio at Studio 57 too early (typical me –inpatient) but have booked another appointment for week three.

So what did I do? I ran four times, and got on the stationary bike three times. As always adjustments have been made. Midweek, I thought I might get a long run done at the weekend, but after seeing the physio and feeling more tired than I expected, I procrastinated my way out of it and just ran 10K easy on Sunday.

I was told that even though I feel fine, I have to wear the sling still to protect the healing I cannot see and avoid too much vibration. I was told by a friend who’s also a radiologist that when you break a bone and it’s in plaster you have to stop, but a collar-bone, with a plate that feels fine, still needs to be treated with care. I did listen.

It’s not brilliant going ‘sling-running’, but it’s not awful either. It’s annoying but I feel more confident on my feet now and I don’t think I’m compromising my running gait too much. To make myself feel I’m still moving forward I did however, set myself a goal. You can read about my Marathon Goal here.

Parkrun

Volunteering at park run was a real positive and something I would like to do more of, injured or not. Such a great event. All life unfolding in front of me as I stood at the boulders, watching the two per cent of the population who can be bothered to get up and get out on a Saturday morning – fastest and the slowest putting in the same amount effort, feeling the same pain – it was truly inspiring.

This is a quickly composed post (possibly riddled with typos)as work has suddenly got very busy – and as a self-employed content consultant I’m going with it and planning to run around 40 miles and do some My Ride Bike training sessions. I  will update next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 12 of 52: Training at Xmas

Training at Xmas is challenging, and if you’re like me it’s the weeks building up with parties, shopping, and routines out the window which make it harder to stick to plans. So, for me, the best thing is not to plan too much and ‘just do it’ when I have the time.

Last week the plan for training at Xmas was to ‘get out most days, train by feel and keep things ticking over… and I added, ‘I want to also include a long run, a park run, a swim and a bike.’ I didn’t swim or park run, but I did get out on the bike after a long break and I managed a medium long run with some speedy bits.

Here’s the detail of my training at Xmas week: On Monday I finally got back to the club for a track session, but a frozen track stopped play and we set off for an easy 30-minute jog. On Tuesday I got bogged down in pre-Christmas work and then a long Xmas shop. On Wednesday I got out for a 12 mile run. I decided to run the seafront as a tempo run, but my stomach got involved and that ground to a halt. However, it eased so I then managed to run 10 x 30 second strides with 2 minute recoveries for the last third of the run (this is a regular marathon training session). On Thursday, I managed a pre-party interval session, of 6 x 1K. The intervals were slow, and felt more like tempo pace, than intervals, but it was what I could do on the day. On Friday  post-party sluggishness meant I missed my early morning slot and then got caught up in Xmas shopping and – preparations. On Saturday I chose to go for a bike ride with club mate Rachel instead of doing a parkrun. The roads were clear as it was the Saturday before Xmas Eve and the weather was just right. We had coffee and breakfast after the ride. And on Xmas Eve I was up at 6am but still didn’t have time to run with packing and tidying to organise, before heading off to visit friends and relations.

 

Training update – the start weeks one to three

Time flies. I’m two weeks in, half a month done. It’s very easy to see the goal as some far off thing – but the reality is, it’s very close. A year is a NOT a long time in Ironman training.

So far, so good. Since moving to Brighton in August, I made it my goal from September to focus in on my running which took a bit of a nose dive. With my travelling coach Andy Payne on call, I’ve been doing steady mileage, speed work and some park runs.

Below is a snapshot of the last eight weeks (althought this week’s not finished yet). The big green blobs show my long runs, the yellow speed work and the red is for racing/parkrun, and for eight weeks I’ve averaged 38 miles.

Three weeks ago I started swimming again, and have completed three Brighton Triathlon Club Drill sets and one of my training sessions. Tomorrow I start back on the bike, after a 12-week break!

I’m hoping to keep the running mileage average at 40 miles, but now I have to add in a couple of bike rides and swims, every week.

I’m really enjoying my new clubs, Arena 80 for running and Brighton Tri Club for all things triathlon. Both are friendly and supportive and remind me how much I enjoy socialising and being part of a group with shared goals.

On Thursday the Tri swim set was all about the catch and drills. Swimming technique is something that I think could take a lifetime of practise! Graham, the Bri Tri coach reminded me that we cannot focus on too many things at once. Breaking up the stroke and focussing on one thing at a time is the only way to learn. It was good to spear the sharks and pick up the imaginary suitcase, and point my index finger in front. Like many swimmers I tend to cross my hands over in the front so I’m trying to remember to reach out wide (10 and 2 o clock in my head probably gets my arms to shoulder height).

Back in the summer I did a little bit of work on technique by going to the brilliant Fiona Ford for swim Smooth session. I’ll share what we did on You Tube later in the week.