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 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 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:

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.

Goal-Setting & Planning Your Training

When goal-setting, all good coaches will look at the bigger picture and periodise training for endurance. The start of the year is a great time to plan your training and set goals for the long-term, the medium term, and the short-term.

What’s your goal

The bigger picture: the Macrocycle

This is the period that spans your entire plan. When an elite athlete is goal-setting, it might be a whole year, or the run up to the Olympic games. For recreational athletes a macrocycle may refer to a four-month training plan for a marathon or cycling sportive, or a six-month weight-loss target. New year is a good time to draw up your goals and map out your macrocycle.

Medium term: Mesocycle

Medium term goal-setting usually is between six and eight-week period blocks, where you’ll focus on improving different elements of running fitness, e.g. endurance, or speed endurance, or speed/race prep near the end of a schedule, or a specific four-week block, like the cycling time trial plan.

Most of the mesocycles in our schedules include a step-back week scheduled in after three weeks, and on the fourth week volume/intensity is maintained, ready to continue to progress in weeks five and six.

Shorter term/day to day: Microcycle

Goal-setting needs to include every day of the week! Sunday a night is a good time to review goals for the week ahead and commit to your plan.  A microcycle doesn’t have to be a seven-day period, such as a shift worker may plan in blocks of five or 10 days).

In this part of the schedule you’ll need to consider what frequency of training you will do (i.e. how many times a week); plan the intensity (i.e. allow a rest/recovery between a long run and a speed session); and allocate time for each session.

You can choose your day to train, but make sure you think of your harder sessions, such as in running, your interval, tempo, and long run as a two-day block, as you need to recover after each of these sessions. Similarly, cross training intensity should be monitored, for example, a relaxing yoga class may replace or be done on a recovery day, but a hardcore circuits class would need to replace an interval or tempo session. Don’t try to pack in what you missed, just pick up the schedule and build up in a progressive way again, allowing time to recover and build.