Friday, 30 April 2010

ridin' the keen green mahine

the piped muzak in McD's is driving me mad...gonna have to bolt v. shortly, so this is just a quick update and a chance to post this piccie of me, my new bike and my new EverydayTraining kit, in the sunshine, in lanzarote. Ahhh. life's good!

the rescheduled flight was totally hassle free, we did not get stiffed for excess bags and the hotel are not even charging us for the days we missed of our booking. weather is good, though we have been treated to some of the stronger winds i've experienced on this island. good practice - albeit a little scary.

last week freshening seems to have paid off, and i'm feeling pretty good in my training. just 3 weeks 'til race day and we are trying a long taper this time around, so i'm not piling on the hours - just making sure i hit target paces. we have a nice little group here now at Arena Dorada (basic, clean, friendly and well situated budget hotel. perfect) though the boys ARE piling on the ride hours whilst i stick to my schedule so much of the time we just meet for meals.

riding the new bike (the mean green machine) is such a pleasure. hardly can tell if there's a headwind or not - its THAT aero. a few tweaks still to get it perfect set up for me, but that's part of the fun. and it sure gets some attention! i have to think where i stop unless i want a conv. about the bike ;o) but i have to admit, it's very pleasing that it attracts such admiration. i just need to get the legs worthy of it!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Having not raced Ironman New Zealand has meant that i've trained solidly through 5 months since Kona last year. An averge of 31 hours per week through that period, which includes 3 multi-day long-haul flights and travel to and from epic camp and taupo with zero training logged, as well as 2 months off running with a stress injury. Compared to an overall average of 26 training hours per week last year (oct-oct) that represents a decent block of base work which should serve as a good platform for a pretty crammed race schedule that i have ahead of me this summer.

With regards to my current state of fitness - or apparent lack of - Scott says that as a rule, after 2-3 weeks of 'max average' training load most people could use a recovery week. With me and this lifestyle, i rarely achieve that condition before circumstances (travel, events and relocation) dictate a lighter day or two, resulting in a lower volume week.

On the left, here's a chart pulled from my training log for this season (since oct '09), which shows my hours for each week. The pink horizotal band, highlights the range 27-36hours which is what i've defined as my 'max average' based on last years' training.
You see 4 weeks of getting back into it after Kona, then we're off to Western Aus as the british weather begins to get a bit chilly. Steven is preparing to race IMWA and i'm making the most of the environment to get back to full training. We have about 3 weeks there and i'm training at or above 'max average' until race day and the travel to New Zealand that follows - so a lighter week. having settled in Christchurch, to more weeks in/above this zone and then lighter week in preparation for epic camp. epic camp is to weeks of training way over that zone, and is followed by another lighter week to get over that. doing good, so far - a pretty neat pattern.
Then, with epic a memory, the next month is a string of 3 high vol weeks - right up until the time when i would have tapered for IM NZ. But - due to a stress injury i withdrew my entry and continued to train through for another 2.5weeks at the same volume until i sold my bike, the race and our return to the UK forced a lighter week (spread across to calendar weeks). Back to training in somerset and another 4-5 weeks at max average volume. so, since epic camp, the pattern changed from 2 weeks high + 1 week lower, to 5 week blocks of high volume before being disturbed by travel - an apparently large increase in sustained training pressure.

It is appealing to look at this and say that i have some 'right' to be tired now, which is undoubtedly what i am, and this is a good time for a bit of recovery prior to getting down to some race prep in Lanzarote. No doubt about the latter part of that sentence, but the progressive training volume is not necassarily a good indicator of training pressure - afterall, the aim of training is adaption to increasing burden. this is acheived through the application of increasing burden, right? so to train 'at or above' a certain tolerance is a moving goal post: as the training takes effect, the tolerance level my 'max average' weekly hours range based on previous year's data may no longer apply. at the beggining of the year, it may have been necassary to step it back every 3rd week - but as i get fitter, perhaps every fourth, then fifth week is enough. The second graph shows the average to date of my training hours since oct - read against this, the pattern looks quite different - with more burden during the return to fitness stages (post kona and in bussleton) than there has been in the last couple of months. Of course the numbers don't tell a whole story - i can record and measure what goes 'in' but i cant really demonstrate the effects - observing an (apparent - afterall its never certain that we're not on teh edge of collapse or injury) increased tolerance to training volume is one thing, but the effectiveness of that increased training is only demonstrated in improved performances.

where am i going with this? well, it's fun to look at the data, and make interesting graphs - it passes some time when i'm not supposed to be out on the bike...but for me, i usually come back to the fact that its just numbers. i choose the variables that i record and there are many significant variables that cannot be quantified - such as quality of diet and supplimentation, sleep, frequency and nature of theraputic treatments, environmental or emotional stresses, stretching and flexibility regeime. So i'm playing about with only partial infomation, trying to see a pattern or paint a picture that represents my level of fitness for some reassurance, i guess. because i feel tired, and i dont want to. i want to be ripping it up.

some of the Epic camp souvenier clothing i have has the letters JFT stamped on it. I asked Gordo what that stands for - he told me ' just f*ckin train'.

Not in Lanzarot -e

its been a little while since i last updated...and since i'm 'hangin about' for a few days in london in anticipation of our reschedule flight to lanzarote, seems like a good time to spend catching up.

the three weeks spent in somerset flew by once back into the taunton routine. the signs of with spring pushing through the end of a harsh winter and made cycling out on exmoor, the quantocks and blackdowns a real pleasure - most days. there were to occaisions when i curtailed my ride due to fear of hypothermia. NOT just being a softened fair weather cyclist these days - it really is a safety concern when cyclig alone, if you find your self hammerig ith clenched jaw and grip on handle bars just to keep warm at that stage you are too cold to drink, eat or stop and change a puncture. i honestly oudl have called my mum for a pick up on one occaision, but i was cold beyon being able to handle a mobile phone. or speak. after that paticular morning ride, i got straight into bed, fully clothed plus woolley hat and hot-water-bottle, cup of tea and central heating on full throttle for an hour before i was warm. predictibly i then fell asleep - in the meantime the weather cleared for a beautiful evening run high up on the quantocks.

life's pretty simple when i'm there - the 33.3m pool is 150m over the road, and each morning beteen 7 and 9 is time for lap swimming. as is the case in all of the local pools i've used, and i'm sure most of those that i havn't, there is a crowd of regulars, who i soon got to know. Once folk relise a) that you are going to swim a lot faster than them, and NOT stop at each end b) that you are going to be there every morning but c) you are not actually disturbing their swim as long as they dont stand and chat in the middle of the lane and d) that you are actually a very friendly person (most mornings!) .....i think they enjoy the interesting new feature of the morning session and make every effort to ensure that you get a good swim. I's arrie each morning just after 7am, long warm up until the pool got quieter at around 7:45 then swim my set. after a cool-down i'd usually spend 10-15 minutes chatting with the various interesting locals before heading home at 9 for my breakfast!

next, each day would be either a ride or gym session with runs scheduled for later in the afternoon. liek the pool, i'd pick quiter times in the gym - late morning or mid afternoon (sometimes both!) and here again you soon recognise and get recognised by the regular local users, and by the end of the 3 weeks i was on chatting terms with a few people there too.

for my rides of course during the i'm mostly on my on - which suits me great. either i have some pretty specific hr rate based interval work to do on the flatter routes which tend to be more major roads (that's by somerset strandards!), hill reps or i just want to ride long and explore. i can stop when i choose to, without having to spend time debating it or find a cafe...and can listen to tunes if i feel in the mood- crossing exmoor on a clear sunny spring day with some nice twirly trance in your ears is just majic. However, at the eekends there is the option to hook up with a group form somerset RC tri club for their 2hr fast ride to Willand and back over the hills - i made use of this when possible as it as a good chance for hanging on in a strong group, as well as making useful local contacts with knowledge of the local tri scene.

options for running are just as good - i have a 10.5km road loop around teh back of town that has become my standard run-off-teh-bike, it can be modified for 40 or 30 min run too. for my intervals i use the flat canal path or one of teh schools tracks, then there are various length routes with a few more hills around the lanes that i'll do for a longer run ...or hop in the car and drive to the foot of either of the sets of hills that overlook the town and get lost for a few hours off-road.

mum and i get into a nice groove - taking care of each other's meals when either of us have busy days, and making an effort to switch the computer off and sitting down to watch some TV together at the end of the evening. Aside from that we pretty much stay out of one another's way and go about our on business. i sleep well in my own room and sometimes even get a chance to nap when the house is quiet in the afternoon. in all its pretty close to perfect enviroment for my lifestyle and enable me to fully focus on the training i need - albeit a little isolated to make it sustainable long-term. More on this later...

London is a total contrast! i've enjoyed the buzz of living in this city for most of the 13 years that i have done so - but now, as a transient visitor it just seems like everything is either more unpleasant, rushed or hard work than it needs to be. I have a large netork of friends in london, and always enjoy being able to catch up with the tri club and the various people who generoulsy look after my chiropractic and sports massage needs when i'm in town (thanks Back to Health and The TriTouch) There are some great training opportunites in london if you are 'in the know' - and having been a serious triathlete trainin in london for 5 years, i consider myself to be - but none are 'easy options'. for example - for a club bto get any pool time for a coached squad session, this must be out of hours. so its a choice of getting up at 5am for a 6am session, or home from the 8pm session after 10 - or both. Fair enough when your working a 9-6 desk, and getting paid - that's about all you can do anyway - but if i have 3-5hr more training to fit in the day, its not ideal. Another factor is geography: though all of my friends and sports thearpists are 'london based' - that definition actually covers about a 15 mile radius from south tottenham, where i stay. i've always commuted around town by bike and thought very little of it - but i've easily cycled over 100 miles, carrying a back pack of kit and locks, just getting between A, B, C and D since friday (it's tuesday and i have a couple more errands today, too!). The result is that there never seems to be enough time to fit everything in, and i'm feeling disproportinaltly drained for a relatively small amount of training, and have effectively ground to a halt with the news that our flight to lanzarote as cancelled. I simply do not have the energy for any extra time battling to train in london, which has prompted me to question my current level of fitness* and take a break. Well, my bike and much of my training gear is boxed up to fly anyway!
*(i intend to talk about this in a following post)

i know that Steven suffers the same difficulties in london too, though he is much better at making things as conveineint as possible by choosing a local gym, minimising social engagements and using public transport or walking as a means to relax. He is in his sisters basement 10miles away from my brother and sisters sofa so e can go several without seeing one another - which doesn't help. So, he came up with a neat solution: buy a house in taunton!

yes - returning to the subject of the virtues of life in my somerset bolt-hole...when steven came to visist and run the taunton marathon he also arranged for us to look at a couple of houses, one of which seemed ideal. we made an offer, it has been accepted and a sale agreed yesterday! so, being 'stuck' in london a few extra days has really got a silver lining :o)

that said PLEASE let the winds be doing the right thing for a take off on saturday...

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