Thursday, 5 April 2012

....old tricks

After several cautious and sometimes frustrating weeks returning to training, I was pleased to finally log a solid week in Lanzarote prior to the start of our camp gave me some confidence that i'd survive the week ahead. Despite picking up ( another) sore throat warning sign on the day of our departure, with the help of half the cold and flu shelf of Boots, Gatwick and a concerted effort to get plenty of sleep I logged 22hrs incl. 10km of sea swimming, 200miles on the bike and 30miles of running, with a bit of intensity in each too. Sunshine does do wonders for my energy levels - as does the simplicity of life away from home, a concerted effort and the exciting prospect of the week ahead.

The organisational aspect of our second camp was significantly easier than our first one, last year - this time around the challenge for me would be keeping up with the training. I knew that I'd have to take it steady, but that if I did then this week would be a great fitness boost and "proper training" could commence on our return. I also knew that it'd been a rough winter for a few of the athletes who were coming along, and they'd be following a similar approach to me. Well - talk about sand-bagging!! From day one those guys and girls were smashing it and, although I won't admit that they showed me up (at the end of the day all they needed to do was get a massage and relax over dinner whereas Steven and I generally worked until 8pm each evening) I was impressed, and pleased to see the effect of the environment that we had created on their motivation. Listening to IMTalk, they had a very apt discussion of the week topic recently: "what to do when you loose your training mojo?" - Well, top of my personal list is to get away on a training camp…and I was able to observe the mojo magic working on others here too.

Those interested in more detail of what we all got up to during camp week, can read the daily diary blog -posts that I put up on the EverydayTraining site, but in summary everyone, including our physio and massage crew, logged between 24 and 37hrs of training - the vast proportion of it being on the bike of course. We were helped enormously by the return of Emma as ride leader, Ali giving special physio treatments and TheTriTouch masseuse Helen Smith, an old Tri London training buddy of ours, the cooperation of our favourite hotel in Puerto de Carmen. We had been running an advert in Triathlete Europe, but still most of the places sold via personal recommendations and word of mouth so once again we managed to attract a really great group of athletes - many of whom were returning from last year and had passed on their recommendations to like-minded friends.

My experience was a week of enjoyable training in good company with no bail-out options! I had to be out on my bike each day and had decided to commit to doing the daily training minimum's and as much of the racing as logistics would allow. I generally got the job of leading the slower group and the shorter ride option each day ; given Steven's riding strength it made sense that he always rode with the "fast guys" and had a blast doing so. Emma is a very strong cyclist and is happy and able to ride with any sort of group - but we hoped to make the week enjoyable for her as well as an opportunity for her to get as many miles in her legs as possible. So, at times I felt like i would have liked a more challenging pace for the sake of my own enjoyment and ego, we were all mindful that I needed to keep prolonged periods of intensity to a minimum and just ensure that i got through the week! This also meant that I had the privilege of riding with some great characters, either new to Ironman and/or less experienced at this volume of serious training, and see them really train beyond their own perceptions of what they could achieve, and gain confidence for their season ahead. On the final ride of the camp - the Ironman course - I rode with the "moderate" pace group, and it was a hard day for me. I had the feeling that I was about at the end of my resources for the week, and unfortunately our group never really got working well together, so there was no hiding from the conditions (unusual south-westerly winds, and some rain) or the hills. At the end of the day I was genuinely looking forward to sneaking home after one social beer and hitting my pillow…..but somehow, thanks to a few enormous Jagermisters I think, I found the energy to stay out a wee bit longer ;o) I don't remember everything about the evening, but if a night includes getting turned upside down by the biggest bloke on the dance floor, I class it as a good one.

Inevitably, both Steven and i were exhausted after the camp, and travelling through the night on budget travel services including taxi, plane, train, taxi, train, taxi we arrived back in Taunton just after 9am on monday morning, with two cases of the blues. Steven is coaching his swim squad this week so he had something to focus his mind on. I've been trying to get caught up on my coaching work and my accounts, but without a lot of enthusiasm. I'd made sure that I did not have a lot that i needed to do this week, which is nice since it's allowed me to train "casual" (i.e. not having to rush to fit it in) and nap during the day.

Since the Double and the illness, my running as been limited by enduring muscle soreness - part of the prolonged recovery process, i guess - and so the London Marathon training has not really happened. Certainly not sufficiently for me to contemplate running. I've run lots of marathons - after the first, and the fastest, they're not a lot of fun. So, in attempt to get myself back in the swing of it, running wise, I'm reverting to the good old "30 runs n 30 days" challenge. This is a simple way of ensuring a consistent spell of running without any emphasis on pace or duration - just frequency. It's an excellent motivator to get back into training after a winter break, an injury or for athletes intending on stepping up a distance and requiring some solid base-work. All that is required is 30 runs of 30minutes or more in the 30 -day period. The simplest way to achieve this is to run each day - but this is not requirement if you are prepared to include double run days. 30 minutes is the minimum run, and most of us will include several longer runs each week although runs that are multiples of 30 minutes still only count for a single run. It is actually harder than it sounds - it doesn't take much to become de-railed and find your self in a run-debt that you cannot get out of. There was a phase a few years ago when a group of us from Tri London first picked up this idea ( I think it was from GordoWorld site) and all embarked om the challenge. Remarkably few made it through 30 days, not due to physical limiters but more to do with time and logistics. I found that the key was to make your running very efficient -i.e make time to run by running places that i'd usually cycle or take the tube, and then run back = that's two down! I was lucky in that a) my job required frequent site visits around central london and b) the builder that I was meeting generally smelled worse that i did!
My record for the challenge was completing the advanced adaption of 50 runs in 50 days - with each run being 50+ minutes. That lead to what is still probably my best race performance at Ironman Germany (the challenge finished about 20 days before the race, if I remember correctly). Of course those were the days when a 3:20 marathon was considered pretty decent, especially for an age-grouper…and so no real speed training was required; it was just a case of having strong enough legs. I'm striving for more than that now……but first i need to get myself Back in The Game, and it's games like this which will get me there.

Oh, and the 100 press-up challenge ;o)

1 comment:

Brian - said...

I wouldn;t mind a 3:20 marathin - especially in an IM!!:O)