20 week countdown: week two, 18 weeks to go. Race Season!

Monday June 3rd to Sunday June 10th – ending with the Eastbourne Triathlon (sprint)

When I train for marathons I think in 20-week blocks. This is it, I’m in the block, which means being consistent and disciplined about sticking to the training. But it’s Rae Season – which is great for racing yourself fit, but can play havoc with endurance training as it’s tiring! As  my friend Julia says it’s no good pulling up the potatoes to see if they’ve grown. There’s been highs and lows in the recent races I’ve taken part in, but good or bad, they are not my main goal, and as this week ends, I’m reminded that I must keep the bigger goal in mind.

The last three weeks have been enjoyable but jumping into race season may have caused me to fall off my training bandwagon, with less hours in the bank and two weeks where I had three days off – and I only trained four days. I have completed three races in the last month, a middle distance triathlon, The South Downs Relay, and a sprint triathlon. I’ve also been out of my routine by having a holiday. That should mean I’m rested but I always find holidays and training don’t work (not saying I’m going to stop going on holiday!).

No booze – I lose?

Back to the week that’s just gone (I’m writing this on Monday). So the week started with a migraine on Monday (another one), and finished with cold sores at the weekend. I’ve been a little run down. Ironically, I did stick to my no alcohol pledge from June 1st – and felt worse than ever. I felt extremely tired, headachey and lacking in motivation and took Monday and Tuesday off training.

Back to it

On Wednesday I was back on it, and started the day well with a ‘refreshing’ (i.e. quite cold) swim in the sea. Myself and Rachael managed two loops of the bouys and around 1250M. After meeting coach Dave at lunchtime, I made myself get on the bike and went for a solo pootle up to the Downs and on the seafront, clocking up 20 miles on the bike in the evening. Having two days off had been necessary as I hadn’t been feeling great, but it does play havoc with your weekly hour log!

On Thursday I did a very easy seafront 11-miler, and on Friday at 645am I went to My Ride, the Bri Tri Watt Bike session. Simon didn’t push us too hard and most of us there were taking part in the Eastbourne Tri on Sunday. On Saturday I had to leave my house early to get to a family christening London, and drove for around five hours there and back, leaving at 830ish and getting home for 9pm. I was exhausted when I got home and seriously doubting the chances of getting myself ready for and getting up early enough to do the Eastbourne Tri.

But I had to do it. Chris had been and got my number and registered for me. Sally from Bri Tri had taken the time to drop off her tri suit to me. I hate letting people down (top tip to avoid missing training/racing, make sure you have promised somebody you’ll be there. It makes wriggling out of it much harder). On top of that my week’s training had been pathetic, and hello, I reminded myself, you are doing an Ironman. And racing, well, I love racing!

Here’s my race report. As I said I was happy to have a great race, but now it’s time to get my potatoes back in the ground and get them to grow. I need to say in double figures when it comes to hours until taper time – so that’s 14 weeks of 10 hours as the baseline. It is written now! It must come to pass.

I’ll be telling you about Driven Woman soon…. Coming to Brighton soon!

 

 

 

 

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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 six and seven of 40: End of five-week spin block and this week being ‘ski fit’

Monday 5th February to Sunday 18th February: Ski Fit

Week six started the day after my first half marathon for two years. The good news is that I felt no fatigue at all from the race, no aches, no tiredness. The week started with an early morning My Ride Spin session and I was pleased to complete another week of three sessions, bringing to close a consistent block of five weeks of three times a week spinning classes since the accident.  Running was made up of three runs, two long slow runs and one treadmill session with steady intervals.

 

Getting Ski Fit

On Saturday 10th February I travelled and on Sunday I went skiing. I wore my Garmin but didn’t really give an exact record of what I did as I was too cold to run it on when we started! I did however record 25 miles worth of skiing and found my heart rate averaged 81 and maxed at 116pm – so for me it seemed it’s not an aerobic activity. (It’s worth noting it was day one and I  was skiing cautiously because of my recent collar-bone break), However, exercising at altitude, being outside all day, working out in the cold leaves me feeling, well, knackered. And according to Harvard Medical School, a  person who weighs 155 pounds burns 223 calories in half an hour of downhill skiing.  And three days in I’m feeling ski fit! I’ve noticed  the burn in the quads after a long day, and the satisfying tiredness from being cold and active at altitude. I did wonder if five weeks of spinning had helped me ski better, but I’ve read that quads are not worked eccentrically on a bike, as they are when you ski.

Strength, balance, agility

However, from my experience over the last few says I feel my body being challenged to be strong, to be flexible and to balance and be agile. I’ve focused on using my core muscles and am aware as I twist and turn downhill I’m working my legs as if I were doing repetitive squats at the gym. And once again I’ve been reminded that I must stay flexible as I get older (I want to be able to get up when I fall on or off the ski slopes!).

I’ve also hit very, very cold points (including getting so cold today I was reduced to tears)  and I’ve had some serious shivering episodes. However, I’m reassured that my shivering means I can scoff more tonight. As Outside Magazine reports, ‘A 2010 review of studies on shivering, published in Frontiers in Bioscience, found that 75-to-80 percent of the calories consumed by shivering came from muscle glycogen stores. So if you find your teeth chattering, you’ll want to increase your carb load’.  And as I know from experience of preparing to swim in cold temperatures for the Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon, brown fat activation happens when you’re cold for an added calorie burn boost.

 

 

 

Bigging up the bag lady look

Week four of 40: A week’s training in four days

Monday 22nd January to Sunday 28th

My training blog for last week is brief! The training was crammed into four days, from Tuesday to Friday, due to a busy work week and family commitments.  I ran  33 miles over three slow runs with the longest being 12.5 miles, and I did three My Ride Spin Classes.

I feel very mileage-depleted and am a little worried about the lack of long runs for my ‘tempo’ marathon. But I am pleased with what I managed to fit in this week, as commitments on the off days just got in the way of training. It’s all about adaptability.

Friday’s brick session was challenging, a tough My Ride, followed by 12.5 miles of running – but very satisfying.

I also saw my physio at Studio 57, who gave me some great exercises to do for the recovery of my broken collar-bone*. She also taped me up as I may give a race a go and I want to avoid too much vibration and irritation to my broken bone.

I’ve done a little video of my exercises which I will share if the guys at Studio 57 are happy for me to so. You can see the ‘still’. And also how I was wrapped up should I choose to race.

*Note I am a little ahead and this might not be right for everyone at this stage.

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.