Thursday, 25 February 2010

Goodbye to Christchurch

With less than a week remaining of our stay in Christchurch, I've been reflecting back on this winter spent her. Although not exactly as per plan for me with the foot injury forcing my withdrawal from Ironman NewZealand, it has been an excellent period of training. The foot injury has enabled me a great block of focus on swimming and gym work which are the hardest things to keep going consistently when i am traveling between locations. with the cycling that i have been able to do on top of this, i've had a good run of big hrs weeks, but able to keep the 'load' in my legs manageable by not running. I expect that this 2 month 'base' in these areas will have set me up well for the rest of the year (even though my swimming is getting slower by the day, it seems!) - and it may even be a good thing not to be racing now and loose all this fitness in post race recovery.

Right now, I'm close to tiring though - this week has been a right muddle with my switching sessions around to better suit my mood, which is a sure sign that I'm fatigued and motivation is waning. Hardly surprising since this will be like a fourth consecutive week of 40+hrs. However this is my last chance for this sort of consistency for a while - ironman week and the period of travel and relocation afterwards will make training a lot more difficult to organise and force a bit of a lighter load, so i'm keen to keep it going. It's also giving me a real feeling that our trip to Taupo will be a 'holiday' i can take a few days to relax and support steven in his race.

Until i get to my mum's in Taunton ( on the 22nd march) access to gyms in paticular, but also pools, is going to be difficult. Since Qunitana Roo have delivered the new CD 0.1 to somerset (cant wait to get home!!), i will not be bringing the Obi back from new Zealand so will be without a bike for a week or so. This is good timing for a short break from cycling, since i have averaged 370miles/week since arriving in NZ!

And I now have the building back of my running to focus on. Once in Taunton i can get in a nice routine, with only the weather to contend with. I am also able to eat well and sleep a lot when i am there. Half marathon targeted for april 11th as a 'completer' perfect to begin my preparations for lanzarote, with a month on the island to follow.

So it has been a fab winter down under -and we are pretty confident of returning ( so much so that steven has left a pair o wheels!) -but i'm also really looking forward to returning to blighty (brrrr), catching up with friends and family and hitting the trails on my own two feet.

For now, though its time to slap on the F50, and go sweat out them intervals on my bike!

Friday, 19 February 2010

olivia saves the day

Each morning I get up at 5am in order to check my emails during the last hours of UK office time, before starting my own day with a 6am swim. E-mail of the day today from one of my athletes, Olivia, included this golden quote:

".......Got arrested by the Army this morning for running on a live firing range. They let me off with a warning for my first offence. Apparently they were just about to let off a javelin missile when they saw me panting up the hill. But they were nice about my running: we thought you were a soldier but you went up that hill too fast.........."

Brilliant :o)

The sun has returned to Christchurch (at last).... post swim, i found myself in the gym, staring alternatly between my gym log book, the squat rack in front of me and the golden Port hills outside. Legs felt completely empty and i was ru-ing my 5 am admin routine. No motivation to lift that sucker even once, let alone repeatedly. Perhaps breakfast and a nap would help? or perhaps just a good dose of vitamin D was what was called for?

so, leaving my gym gear there to ensure that i DID return to get that session done later, i walked out into the daylight. 4 hours riding in the hills, every now and again the image of Olivia running through the trenches of Dorset pops into my head, no need for the mp3 that i'd packed or motivation today - and i was totally rejuvinated and ready to hit the gym.
(managed to squat52.5kg - my own body weight)

30 min run on the treadmill to finish the day, and felt pleased with myself for turning the day around. It goes to show what a good humorous start to the day can give you.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

(nearly) a year of everyday training

i've just finalized our order for a batch of EverydayTraining cycle kit, and feel quite pleased with myself - i really like the design and it's going to be great to have our own look and the athletes that we work with wearing it around the UK - and in america too. yes, we have an international clientele!!

It was just under a year ago when steven was approached by our first triathlete in request of coaching, at the time i was writing training plans for my sister's london marathon preparation. we agreed it would be great fun to help out some of the people we knew at tri london, an soon word got around and interest began to grow.

When i first took on a coach, Richard Hobson, it seemed that relatively few age group triathletes were doing so - just those who were beating me, and/or heading to world champs races. I took coaching because my competition was - and i think that is perhaps how it has now come to be the case that coaching is so much more common amongst age group triathletes.

Personally, I really found that have a coach really transformed my training. I don't necessarily believe that it was the detail of the session that he set which helped (though it did make it a lot more interesting) but that someone else had thought about my program, had provided a plan for each day and was taking an interest in my training, well-being and success was a great motivator. We worked together for 2 years until into my first season of Ironman racing when, i started to develop some training ideas and philosophy of my own (strongly influenced by steven, who i had just met and started training with). So, I self- coached for the following year using a lot of reference from the guys at endurance corner/epic camp and other great on-line resources. This was a great time for me, and fruited some of my best race results ...but it seemed was only headed in one direction, BIG VOLUME and that road would run out eventually! I was delighted that Scott Molina agreed to work with me in at the start of 2009 and guide me through the tricky process of getting off that top-of-age group plateau and into the slopes of professional standard racing.

And i believe that's how we help others. There is so much information about training available out there now, much of it confusing and the more you read, seemingly contradictory it's easy to get lost in half understood principles, commonly repeated beliefs and inappropriate levels of detail that are banded around the changing rooms, club chat sites and internet forums. There are myriad methods of cat-skinning, just look at the varied regimes that have been followed by different athletes to success over the past decades. the newest scientific ideas are not necessarily superior to traditional methods, especially if the latest methods are imperfectly implemented. at the end of the day, for the vast majority of us, the vats majority of the time, we are better off just getting on with some training than worrying about the minute details of the training that we do. That's Everyday Training. consistency. and for consistency, we must have life balance and enjoymnet. motivation and encouragement helps. The name EverydayTraining is intended to reflect this - though we were concerned initially that everyday implied 'just ordinary', we settled on it because it sounds right and does have the right sort of connotations for what we stand for. we are coaching age group athletes who want to get the best out of themselves - not high performance necessarily but BETTER performance according to the time that they have and are willing to contribute to their goals, whatever the goals may be. We are lucky that we really do have a great cross section of people to work with, from experienced ironman athletes reaching for Kona slots, to novice triathletes wanting to not be last anymore, and even non triatheles working to achieve the endurance required for a polar expedition! For all of them, our emphasis is on consistency and blending the training with everyday life. A successful athlete is a happy athlete - and vice versa!!

EverydayTraining is both Steven and I together and we each look after our ‘own’ clients based on who they approached, clients do tend to get a feel for our different personalities, training and coaching approaches when they read our blogs, or get to know us in person. They are not vastly different, and have teh underlying emphasis on consistency and repeatability but we are very different people. The fact that we are almost polar opposites when it comes to working has made for an interesting year indeed. Frustrating at times, but we have done a lot of learning how to make the most of one another's skills and overlook the habits which seem plain 'wrong' to our own minds. Steven being from a mathmatical/computing background is systematic, organized, logical to the extreme, whilst i bring the creative, personal, instinctive, sometimes chaotic elements. We are also both people used to leading our own projects and taking responsibility and control, but i think we have found just about the right amount of overlap. Of course, we also spend a lot of time discussing training ideas because we both love it, pooling our resources and experience with our own clients and sharing excitement when things work out for them.

in the few days it has taken me to finish this blog in spare moments, i've had another enquiry about coaching....its almost frightening. Steven did a little work to the website last week, listing our current athletes. it is already out of date - we have 3 more names to list! this is pretty close to having apart -time job, and we are realizing that we are going to have to treat it as such - dedicating a day or 2 a week each to sitting at the computer and coaching, rather than a few hours a day (or night!) whenever a schedule needs updating comes up or an enquiry needs responding to. This will make it easier for us to be more productive and hopeful mean that the laptop is not in constant demand between the pair of us in the time that we might otherwise be having conversations, or doing other couple oriented things! It may also mean that i don't have to go back to sitting in an engineer's office - ever!!

tiem for me to get on with MY everydaytraining!

Thursday, 11 February 2010


10 chins has been a 'goal' for a while now (sad, but true. another is 10 squats of my own body-weight, i am 6kg off).

another little bit of gym-joy was a 10 min run on the treadmill!
no pain either during or after due to that, so i'm :o)))))))

then proceeded to knock myself out doing bike reps.....too tired to blog

a good day.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

visiting stuff and then returning to reality

Just returned 'home' to christchurch after a great trip to Hamner Springs at the foot off the Alps. A beautiful place, with warmer weather than we get on teh coast, mountains to look at and a relaxed atmosphere (during the week, at least - i'm told that it' s a tourist hell on a summer weekend!). The ride was 140km each way - gradually climbing from ChCh and becoming progressively more rolling and beautiful as we went along. We covered the journey out with exactly 5hr ride time, though required 3 stops en route to relieve poor steven who was suffering the effects if a heavy gym session the day before and possibly too much prior brilliance altogether during the past month as well as chivalrously refusing to let me take a turn carrying the bag o gear that we (unnecessary, as it turned out) took along. I was feeling pretty good, having displayed only very minute amounts of brilliance recently and rested well up after even those! held a steady-moderate pace, riding on HR, all the way. it was hot so i minded the stops not at all though, and was totally caked at the end of the day. fish an chips in the park at Hamner. very friendly hostel (free fruit and icecream!) tiny bed.

Woke at 5 the next morning for a 'sunrise' hike up Conical hill and around the forest tracks up there. would be brilliant for running - next time. 3 hrs later, returned, woke steven and packed up for return trip. Net descent - we covered it in 4 1/2 hrs this time at easy-steady effort. steven feeling somewhat better, and stronger through the ride. i was only just able to hang on his wheel for the final 2hrs from Amberly. i was cooked again, so had a very early night!!

I've returned from another sports med appointment. i'd gone in there with the news that the foot felt pretty much better, and i was ready to resume my run training - just wanted some decent strapping and possibly some temporary orthotics in my shoe to ensure that i dont start out with altered gait. Dr Anglem treated me to some reality there and then - the long and short of it being that if i felt nervous about running without support then i was not ready to resume, even light running. the injury is NOT fixed, but it is healing. i can count on at least 1 more week without running befreo i can start even lightly loading it. IM NZ is not a realistic prospect - as he had told me 2 weeks ago. Feeling some better this last week, and able to walk a lot, I'd guess I'd just gotten into my head that i could do it. Now its pretty certainly off the cards, i guess i can relax and be grateful that it's well on the mend, that i'll be running again soon and that i've had good treatment and advice whilst away from home.

I talked with Dr A. about possible reasons why a fracture liek thsi just 'happens' - apparently out of the blue - meaning there was no impact, no twist no sudden movement to change teh state from fine to not fine in a single footstep. But, he points out that this was building, building, building...being away from home and my usual massage, chiro regime...additional training load...extra body celebrations of chocs, beers, late nights and a period of relatively high emotional stress ..generally too much on teh plate and not enough resources to combat it!

sometimes, since we don't 'have jobs' when we are full time athletes, we look for things to do to make us feel 'justified', especially certain types of people who have been successful in a regular career, like you and i have where our dedication and commitment is often (wrongly!) judged on how much hours we put in at the office. It would really make more sense to say you are more successful the LESS time you spend over the project, as long as the result is excellent. I think the same is true - possibly more so, with the profession of being an athlete.

I'm no expert - in fact only have 1 year experience, but already I've learned that you need to spend as much time resting as you do training, and make your resting environment as stress free as possible. jumping straight into the emails, the study books or planning the next training session, rarely lets our body unwind when the mind is too active. i don't know, but thinking about how an injury can 'just happen' and i realize that , OK i did do a big training block - but nothing really out of this world - but take into account traveling across the planet with my most precious possessions in a delicate little box, spending Christmas away from home, having tense relationship with Steven's mother, being totally skint, ongoing negotiations with sponsor over delivery a bike to the far side of the articles to write, athletes to coach, blog to keep up to date ;o) and finding time to connect with friends and family ... The body finds a way to give you a break when u need one.

This is not the sort of break i would choose, but i'll take it as a warning. I'm glad it's just the start of the year, that i am feeling pretty fit in general so can enjoy cycling trips like to Hamner, and have plenty more races to get buzzed about in the coming year

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