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 increases...so 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'.

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