Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, I hope 2013 is a fantastic year for you all.
Looking back, 2013 has been a busy year; great fun at times and a hard slog at others. However, the hard work is starting to pay off... I'm fitter now than I have been in years and hopefully in a few short months I'll be an Ironman finisher.
Set yourself some lofty goals for 2013, believe in yourself and make it happen!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Festive wishes!


Happy Holidays!!!

Wishing you all a fantastic Christmas 2012 - may all your dreams come true.

Remember, dream big… and make it happen!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lies, damned lies and statistics...

Personal bests, goals for the coming year and vital statistics added to the blog - check out the tab above.


Whilst speed work is not what I'm working on at present, it will be interesting to see whether my base level fitness and changes in technique will help to chip away at my current running, cycling and swimming times.

I've lost a lot of mass over the last 9 months (about 12 kg or 1.9 stone in old money!) - although I've stabilised now to around 82kg… Given the ramp in intensity and volume in the training over the next few months I thought I'd post up some vital stats on where I am now and see how this changes up to Ironman Austria, 30th June, 2013!

Monday, 17 December 2012

One proud Dad :-)

Just back from the December Tae Kwon Do Grading Awards for Uddingston Tae Kwon Do club - both my kids passed with flying colours, the youngest being promoted to red-tag and my eldest, passing his 9th successive grading with another perfect A pass, getting his black-tag… the highest belt he can get in Scotland. Next stop (in about 12 months time) will be Bristol for his black belt grading.

I'm really proud of them both! Tae Kwon Do teaches discipline, respect, perseverance and instils an excellent work ethic - you simply cannot 'turn up' and expect to pass. Kirsty has the kids well drilled and sets high standards for them all - if they are not up to scratch, they are told they need to work harder. Don't get me wrong, this is not some Siberian salt mine - the kids all thoroughly enjoy the sessions and have tons of fun but they have a real focus on what they need to do to succeed.

Starting out, they struggled to learn the first basic patterns and probably looked up in awe at students who had earned each kup (belt), now they are close to achieving their own black belts - amazing!

Just goes to show, if you set yourself aggressive goals in life, then anything is possible - IF you keep on working away at it. In these days of almost instant success (X-Factor?!) it's refreshing to see students (of all ages) who recognise that it is hard work that leads to success.

Hopefully on June 30th 2013 my kids will be almost as proud of their mad Dad as I am of them, whatever I have done or have yet to do, they will always be my proudest achievements.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Successful FUZION at Carluke High School

Congratulations to the students and staff at Carluke High School for raising an amazing £15,288 for charity in 2012!!!

As part of Charities day today at School the pupils got to pay £1 for non-uniform and then £1 per session over 2 sessions today picking things like 5-a-side football, Christmas Grotto, Wii dance, Film clubs and the ever-popular 'waxing session' where they bid to rip waxing strips off Senior Pupils and teachers…

I thought I'd got away with it since my legs are not very hairy… in fact, it has been known on windy days for most of these hairs to leave of their own accord. But no… Mr Haldane was in charge and the wax strips moved upward. I am now the owner of a slightly smoother chest and flabby mid-rift! Maybe the slight hydrodynamic improvements were responsible for my better than average times in the pool this evening but I'm not going to be using any further wax strips to put this theory to the test!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

200 days to go!!!

Looking at the widget on the blog it struck me there are now only 200 days until I'll be competing in Ironman Austria…

That seems like a long way away, but I've just realised I've already been training for 275 days this year - now it doesn't seem to be that far away at all! 

Do I feel 1/2 ready at this stage? No, not by a long, long way. Has my fitness improved over the last year? Dramatically. I reckon I am fitter now than at any stage in my life and I realise I still can make significant improvements over the next few months in strength, technique, endurance and speed. It's great to have challenging goals and an opportunity for continuous improvement. I reckon I've caught the training bug well and truly!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I feel like Mike Tyson… well over 2100 hits!


Thanks for coming along and reading this blog - hope you're finding it of interest… it's now had over 2100 hits in the last few months. So, either you like what you're reading or you've not been able to delete the cookies from your browser ;-)
Let me know what you'd like to hear more of, or less of and I'll do my best to oblige! Use the comments link at the bottom of each post...

Keep reading and I'll keep blogging ;-)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

T-7 months… and counting

November report:

Count:47 Activities
Distance:342.62 km
Time:32:41:11 h:m:s
Elevation Gain:12,497 m
Avg Speed:13.1 km/h
Avg HR:119 bpm
Avg Run Cadence:180 spm
Avg Bike Cadence:92 rpm
Calories:15,222 C
All in all, not too bad  :-)
Really focusing on form and technique in both swimming and running rather than simply distance or time spent doing those activities. Making sure that for the next couple of months (at least) the focus stays the same and that I keep on working in heart rate zone 1 - i.e. building muscular endurance rather than speed… After all the Ironman is not a sprint it's a marathon (actually several of them!!).  We'll work on speed closer to the race… well, that's the plan at this point...


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Caledonian Etape - back on the radar

Looking through my old race reports you'll see I completed the Caledonian Etape last year - an 82 mile closed roads cycle around some beautiful Scottish scenery.  Well, I've signed up together with my better half to do it again in 2013 - on the 12th May to be exact.  Should be good preparation for IM Austria - and this time I'm determined not to be blown off the road by the gusty wind across Loch Rannoch! Hopefully complete this on the TT bike - should be a good tester for the 112 miles around Austria!

Started running in the mornings before work (see my training (b)log for more details)… it's about the only way to fit in the required training whilst working and keeping some semblance of a family life. The temptation to hit the snooze button at 6 a.m. is strong but so far I've been able to resist and fit in a few gentle (zone 1) 30 minute treadmill sessions. I reckon it must be good mental toughening for the race too ;-) I reckon I'll have to catch up on the beauty sleep at some stage - I may be asleep for the entire month of July 2013… just warning you early!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

RETUL bike fit - I've been fitted up, I tell ya!

Yesterday I travelled back down to see Andy Sedgwick of Tri-ology in Newton Aycliffe to get a RETUL fit on my TT bike. 

A 6 a.m. alarm call on my day off was a rude start to the weekend but I stumbled out of bed, showered had breakfast and jumped into the car. Good drive down despite hitting freezing fog in many places and drivers who, for some bizarre reason, decided that having no lights on was a sensible idea. Muppets!

I'd filled out a pre-fitting questionnaire, so Andy was aware of my aches and pains my past injuries and my goals for the coming season (i.e. to finish IM Austria). Andy asked me to perform a range of flexibility and strength exercises to see what would affect my bike fit. I now have several more core exercises (including the dreaded 'plank') to perform every day to help build up my cycling (plus swimming and running) strength!

Lots of velcro sticky dots were applied at key points (shoulder, ankle, hip, wrist and knee) so that the LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) for the RETUL system could be put in exactly the right position. The system captures movement in all 3 dimensions and can instantly provide feedback on critical angles like hip angle and knee extension which allows the bike to be 'dialled in' to exactly the right fit.

Pre RETUL fit I looked like this:


Now, this is an AGGRESSIVE position for a TT bike - you can see my back is pretty much parallel to the floor. Bradley Wiggins would struggle to hold that for too long and it was no surprises that this position became pretty uncomfortable in the 'aero' position for much longer than a few minutes…. Phew, I thought it was just me being a bit of a wuss ;-)

It was pretty apparent we needed to lift up the front end of the bike to relax my back angle (from a very low 15 degrees to approximately 25 degrees) to ensure a more comfortable position that I can hold for the 112 miles of the IM race. 

After battling with the bolts holding the seat onto the seat post, the seat was moved forward by approximately 3 cm, dropped down in height by 1cm or so and the elbow pads on the aerobars were lifted by about 4cm. The extension bars were then raised by about 5 cm and low and behold… a comfortable riding position!!

Post RETUL fit:


Now my back angle is at approximately 23 degrees which is considerably more comfortable and I can actually see ahead of me whilst in the aero position - which will no doubt come in handy for seeing where I am going!

I am now confident that the time I spend on the bike over the next few months will be getting used to the correct position. As the old saying goes you get better with practice, practice, practice… just make sure what you are practicing is correct in the first place!

I now have small circular bald patches on my arms and legs after ripping off the sticky velcro dots - good training for the sponsored leg waxing for our School Charity week coming up in a few weeks time - YIKES!

Many thanks to Andy for his help and expertise - I suspect that this will be one of the best investments I make in terms of preparation for June 30th 2013.

As you can see the RETUL fit information is pretty comprehensive:





Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Breast of Duck!!!

GOOD LUCK 4ES!!!

The best of British to all my Standard Grade students who are sitting their Physics Prelim tomorrow (Wednesday 21st November) and the rest of their SG / Int 1 prelims over the next 2 weeks.

Enjoy your work experience too :-)

p.s. What are you reading this blog for?!?!?!  Get revising!!!!  ;-)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Feeling flat...

Driving home last night and the car displayed a warning sign "chassis system fault". Eeeek.  RAC called out and culprit identified… a very flat rear tyre. Dashed home from the gym today to get it sorted and found out that my trusty local garage was closed. Given another hectic week at work on the cards (whole school meeting on Monday and a S1 football game on Wednesday) it may be a while before this is sorted… And I suspect it's going to be expensive - one draw back of having nice 21" alloys on the car - doh!

Hopefully get this fixed by Friday night as I've booked a RETUL bike fitting session down in Darlington on Saturday 24th for my new TT bike. I've had a 3D computer fit done on my road bike and it totally transformed the ride; going from a medieval instrument of torture to something I could pedal round in (reasonable) comfort for 82 miles.

Now, as every good scientist knows, you should only change one variable in an experiment so that you can see what effect that has on your results (we call this Fair Testing). I've changed both my style of bike (road to TT) and the type of saddle I'm using… This has meant getting into a comfortable position on the bike has been harder to achieve than on my road bike. Hence the trip down South next weekend to gain the benefit of both experience and technology.

In order to get bet at anything you need to practice, practice and practice some more… but you need to ensure that you are ingraining good habits not bad ones! Hopefully by this time next week I'll be set up in my ideal TT position for the Ironman - probably a less aggressive position than you would use in a 30-50 mile time trial, given you've got 112 miles to get through and then run a marathon…

As always, I'll post up pictures before and after and explain the benefits of the new position once the bike has been correctly set up for me.

Monday, 12 November 2012

"That's not running, it's falling... with style!"

Video analysis from Nick on my before and after running styles:

Gav: running before and after

Looking at 1:40 to 3:52, first clips are me at the start of the day, heavy heel strike as I move along - all this does is put the brakes on and send impact forces up through my knees… Second section and I'm starting to get it… Now my feet are landing underneath my centre of gravity rather than in front of it, stride is now out to the back and I'm leaning forwards with better posture, allowing gravity to pull me forwards. 

To paraphrase Buzz Lightyear… "That's not running, it's falling... with style!"

Still lots to work on but I now know what I'm looking to achieve and know what it feels like to be running efficiently. I know for certain there were times during the day when I nailed it (for 4 or 5 strides!) but these didn't happen in front of the camera… so now all I need to do is practice, practice, practice. I get the feeling it will be worth it.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Run Forrest, run!

Right, just back from a fantastic course on running today :-)

Spent a few hours in Pollok Park being taught the Chi running method by Nick Constantine of Soul in Motion. What a brilliant day!

Nick got us to run back and forth in front of his video camera a few times to record our current running style, at both a steady and quick pace then highlighted the error of our ways!  We then spent time improving posture and alignment, learning how to run from our core and the fact that our feet are primarily there for support - not as some sort of magical propulsion devices.

Keeping cadence high (about 180 steps per minute) and simply leaning forwards, the feet land directly under your centre of mass and you're off!  Gone are the heavy 'slapping' noises of your trainers heel striking into the ground and resisting your every move forward. Gone are the knee and ankle jarring forces as your body works against you. Instead your legs seems to turn over without effort, landing silently and softly as you are pulled forwards as if connected by a giant bungee rope from your core towards the horizon.  Rather than 'trying' to run faster you simply lean further forwards, engaging your higher gears, and whoosh - you're off!

Did I get it right every time? No chance. But I know what the correct feeling is now - and what a difference it makes. We practiced moving up and down through our 'gears' and I was reaching speeds, almost effortlessly, that I would never have attained using my previous technique.

I'd thoroughly recommend one of Nick's courses to anyone who wants to improve their running, whether you're looking for injury avoidance, greater efficiency and or speed. Given he's from Whitley Bay he was always going to be a top lad, but his coaching was great and I'm now really looking forward to putting on my running shoes again and putting this style of running into action.

I'll post videos up of my before and after styles in the next few days. For the first time in a very long time I'm really excited about my running - the handbrake is off now - watch out Mo, I'm coming for you ;-)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Just keep swimming...

Back in from a productive session in the pool. After reading my Swim Smooth book and following advice from ATHelite sessions I am no longer following the more lengths in pool = better training doctrine. Instead I have much more focus on technique... 

As a scientist I love analysing data, trying to figure out what factors are making the greatest changes. I'd noticed that since I began serious training (March 2012) my swimming had progressively slowed even though I was massively improving my land based fitness. How could that be? My endurance fitness, strength and speed had all improved, yet my swimming resembled an extra from a Godfather movie wearing concrete shoes,  'sleeping with' rather than swimming with the fishes…

I've been paying particular attention to what is known in swimming circles as the catch - the movement of your outstretched arm back towards your hips. I'd been pushing down on the water with straight arms. Now as Isaac Newton would tell you "every action has an equal and opposite reaction" - so when I push down on the water, the water pushes back up on me. This in turn pushes my chest back towards the surface of the water (it's pretty buoyant given my lungs are full of air!!) and as I'm outstretched, I pivot about my hips and my legs sink in the water… Try to think of this as a see-saw… push up one end and the other end drops down. When your legs sink in the water they massively increase the drag (water resistance) so despite putting more effort into my swimming I was slowing down the harder I tried! Doh!!!

Cue changes in the stroke. Now as I've mentioned earlier my prioproception (body control) could be improved… I'll never make it onto BBC's strictly come dancing (thankfully), so I suspect these changes may take a while to refine. I'm starting to keep my elbows higher in the water and pull back my hands towards my hips (essentially parallel to the bottom of the pool). This means I'm trying to pull the water behind me which in turn means the water is trying to push me forwards! That's a bonus!!! My 100 m times have dropped from around 2:05 - 2:10 per 100m to around 1:45 - 1:50 over the last month or so. Over 3800 m (2.4 miles) this would be a 12-13 minute saving if I could keep that going  :-)

I spent 90 minutes on my TT bike last night trying to get used to the new aerodynamic position. Let's just say it's not 100% comfortable yet. I think another bike fitting session will be on the cards in the none too distant future so that I get used to the correct position well in advance of the race next year.

Tomorrow I'm off on a chi running course in an attempt to learn how to run more efficiently… I'll report back on my findings in later posts.  

Some much to learn - so little time… Every day really is a school-day - even if you're not a Physics teacher!


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

So much to do, so little time...

I'm sitting here on Wednesday evening, it's 10:20 p.m. and I have a to do list longer than I care to mention. Back from my slow and steady 10 km run, I'm in need of a shower, a sit down, mark remaining Higher NABs, prepare lessons for the week ahead, finish my Swim Smooth book and tinker with the seating position on my bike. Anybody got a time machine they can let me borrow? Right, let's see how much I can get done before Thursday arrives. If nothing else, I'm never bored!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

And another weekend whizzes by...

Well, 8:45 p.m. on Sunday 4th November and another action packed weekend flies by in the Gall household!

More TT bike training on Thursday - trying to get used to the aero position… now up to about 5 minutes - probably need to lengthen this to about 6 hours or so  ;-) Plenty of room for improvement!

Swimming on Friday was curtailed by lack of lanes at the pool - swimming lessons for the wee one in one lane and the other lane taken up for folks competing in the Virgin try-athlon. Managed 1 x 100m set in a pretty decent 1 min 36 seconds… so maybe the time spent reading Swim Smooth and trying to get my arms to do as my brain is telling them may be working… Again, if I could hold that pace for another 3700m in open water that would be great (here's hoping!).

Saturday back to the gym with both kids - with the eldest one coming up to the gym with me for an hour (prior to his tennis lesson) whilst his sis went to tennis lessons on the new carpeted courts - very snazzy! Managed a decent spin on the spin bikes and gentle run on the treadmill. A lot of the training information we're reading now suggests keeping the heart rate in zones 1 or 2 (less than about 136 b.p.m.) for an extended period of time. This really helps with endurance work and trains the body to feed off your fat supplies rather than your carbohydrate stores (which can be depleted too quickly for Ironman type distance events).

Haircuts all round for me and the boy. That will no doubt shave off nanoseconds for me in the pool! Followed by 90 minutes dog walk down by the Clyde as the kids had their badminton lessons - back in time to make tea and then out to see Skyfall at the cinema. One word. AWESOME.

Sunday, marked up the S4 and S5/6 ink exercises (after writing out the answers!) and recorded in my trusty marking spreadsheet. Managed to watch Newcastle take on Liverpool whilst pedalling furiously away on the TT bike. Fabulous goal by Cabaye put us in front in the first half before Suarez (boo!) scored a well taken goal to equalise. Kept going on the bike for 1 hour 45 mins - although definitely still looking for the perfect position to ensure I can ride (in relative comfort) over 112 miles in June. Worked out I've burned about 1100 kCalories today so a top curry and naan bread have just been devoured and I'm off to put my feet up before heading to bed.

No wonder weekends go by sooooo quickly!



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

Carving through the pumpkins!


Well, as per usual we've been up to our pumpkin carving antics… will anyone call at the house to take away all the sweets we've bought, or am I going to have to do some extra long training sessions to burn off all those carbs?!?!

2012:

An obvious choice for this year!
Frankenweenie from Para Norman - by my wee one!
Buffy the vampire slayer - by my good lady wife!

Jaws - by my big monster!

On the front step!
  

2011:

Angry Bird / Herman Munster / Mad Hatter / Eric from True Blood



2010:


Tigger / Stitch / Pretty Skeleton / Gizmo





2009:

Gollum / Sirius Black / Minion from Despicable Me 
The Joker / Gremlin / Zombie from Plants versus Zombies 
Gollum - still my favourite!





Cheshire Cat

Hello Kitty











Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Good form old chap, good form...

Chi running course booked - Pollok Park on Saturday 10th November

I've never been a particularly elegant runner, proprioception is not a strong point for me… as evidenced by my (lack of) dancing skills or the ability to learn a Tae Kwon Do pattern (giving up after realising my knees couldn't take it and that both my kids are wayyyy better than me)…

My running style has been typically brute force, reasonably bouncy trainers and sheer conviction that whatever the distance, I'll get across the line somehow... (Taxi!!  ;-)

However, my better half went on a chi running course a few years ago and has never looked back. She's had far fewer running injuries / aches / pains and is much more efficient with her strides.

I realise as a heel-striker a lot of the kinetic energy I'm generating is being wasted as my heel effectively brakes my progress with each footfall. The idea behind chi running is to land not on the heel, but on the forefoot, with each foot strike directly below your centre of gravity. This way you don't brake with every step making your progress much more efficient and helping to reduce injuries as you go.  Sounds great. Just need my brain to tell my stupid feet what to do - I'll report back after the course!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Whoooooosh! Boardman AiR TT 9.4 has arrived!!!

After a stunning drive down to Peebles yesterday I picked up not one, but 2 Boardman AiR TT bikes from B Spoke Cycles.

The guys there have been brilliant to deal with and I wouldn't hesitate recommending them to anyone looking to buy a new set of wheels. The fact that they have been chosen as the only Boardman Elite dealer in Scotland is no surprise, they've been friendly and professional from start to finish and I'll be happy to take the bikes back there for servicing / upgrades in the future.

So, here is my new toy… I've added Speedplay Zero pedals and changed the saddle to an ISM Adamo Prologue which is meant to alleviate any 'discomfort' over the 112 mile stretch...





The bike is incredibly light for a TT bike - probably around 8kg, although I haven't got around to measuring it yet.

What's it like to ride?  No idea… that's why I'm about to put on some training wheels (i.e. take off the incredibly light carbon tubular wheels) and pedal away on the turbo trainer for an hour or so… I'll report back with my verdict soon ;-)

Right! Completed my first hour on the turbo trainer and have to say that this is one remarkably smooth piece of kit. Still a few adjustments required - the time trial (TT) position is pretty aggressive and will take some (read A LOT) of getting used to and the new ISM Adamo saddle is very different too, so I suspect there will be a fair amount of tweaking and fettling over the next few days and weeks until it feels comfortable. Not in a comfy old sofa in front of the TV with a beer in hand kind of way. More like I'll be able to get off the bike in one piece and still run 26.2 miles kind of way!!!

Definitely the right idea to get this now and build up time in the saddle to get used to the aero position - more time spent on this now, hopefully the less time it will take me to pedal round the 112 miles on 30th June!

Friday, 26 October 2012

It's nearly Christmas!

Well, for me it is…

I pick up my new TT bike tomorrow - really looking forward to it. My credit card is hiding in my wallet knowing that it is going to work very hard tomorrow.  I'll post pictures up at some point over the weekend once I've stopped grinning!

Swimming is coming along nicely - see notes in the training log… Still a long way to go, but I'm remembering the gliding feeling you get when your technique is working with, rather than fighting against, the water.  Thanks must go to Sir Isaac Newton!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

250 days to go

Getting closer…

Now, it may seem like ages away, and it probably is, but I noticed on my countdown timer that I'm now less than 250 days away from Ironman Austria. Looking back on where I've come from over the last 250 days I'm pretty chuffed…

I've lost about 8kg, burned about 118,000 kCalories, climbed close on 50km, travelled 2.9 million meters and worked out nearly 200 hours. What does this mean in practice? Well I can now run to the top of the street without popping a lung and none of my old suits fit any longer. 

Tonight was a pretty hard session but I kept plugging away - I'm going to need a lot more mental strength to keep on going through the Ironman when times get tough. I've heard the phrase "the only bad training session is no training session" and it seems like a decent mantra.

So, am I half way there? No chance, the training is going to start ramping up in intensity once I start on my Tri-ripped training programme. I'm confident that I've built up a reasonable base level of fitness but the work really begins in 3 weeks time.. so until then, I'll enjoy this 'tick-over' level of training, rack up the miles in the water, the treadmill and the bike. Am I feeling confident? So far so good… but ask me again in about 251 days time ;-)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Skint and excited!

A new speed weapon is on the way!

After months of investigating and deliberating I've just placed an order for not one, but two triathlon bikes!

Now, I'm not being greedy - one of them is for my good lady wife… Some women like diamonds, posh shoes or expensive handbags but I'm lucky that my better half is as mad as me and she'd far rather have something sporty.

We'd been down at the London Triathlon and had looked at a selection of triathlon bikes from quite a few manufacturers, although to be fair, I'd liked to have seen more examples at the expo. The guys on the Planet X stand were great and loaned us a head tube bung to replace one of my wife's bike that had been damaged in transit. We both liked the stealthy matt black carbon fibre Exocet 2 bikes on display and they were coming in at a pretty decent price for the specification.

After reading tons of reviews, I toyed with the idea of the Van Nicholas Blaze - a titanium framed tri bike that had been awarded great marks, especially for comfort - something vital for 112 miles in the saddle. I found a second-hand one online but unfortunately the frame size was too large for me.

We decided to go and get a bike fit to work out which bikes would best fit us. This is a great deal more complex than simply taking an inside leg measurement or rider height and comparing against a chart to see which bike fits. I'd already tried that route with a Specialized SHIV and ended up with an XL to try - it was so large I could have put an additional seat post in there and had a passenger along for the ride.

We headed off to a RETUL fitter and after a wee bit of jiggery pokery worked out that I needed a medium and the missus an extra small in a…

… Boardman Air TT  :-)

Now, I confess I am a Chris Boardman fan and I already have a Boardman Pro Carbon road bike and had bought L. a Boardman Fi road bike for her 40th. The fact that the bikes are designed in the UK is a bonus, although like most high end bikes these days, they're assembled overseas.

After doing the sums - man maths is my speciality - I decided that I couldn't possibly afford either bike, so I bought them both! A quick online loan application and voila - money magically into my account. Just like Dynamo - I'll make it disappear, very, very quickly!!!

After a few phone calls, I've just placed the order with Allan from B Spoke Cycles in Peebles. Must say, they have been great to deal with and are making a couple of modifications for L's bike so that it is exactly what she is after. All going well we should pick up the bikes and get them fitted to us next weekend.



L gets the red 9.0 and I'm getting the white 9.4...



Now, given the Brownlee brothers raced Boardman bikes in their stunning Gold and Bronze podium places at the London Olympics and Pete Jacobs has just won the Ironman World Championship at Kona, Hawaii this year on an Air TT 9.8 these bikes have serious pedigree. Will it guarantee an amazing bike split and help me qualify for Kona next year, or the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 ?? I highly doubt it, but trust me, I'll have fun trying ;-)



Saturday, 13 October 2012

Racing (bike)...Flat out

I've discovered a number of things this week about training…

1. I can't train on an empty stomach
2. I get grumpy after training on an empty stomach
3. Eating dinner at 10:30 p.m. is too late
4. Trying to pedal a bike with a flat tyre on a turbo trainer is hard work

Now, you might want to point out that these are all pretty obvious issues... and I'd whole-heartedly agree.

The nutrition prior to, during and post-race is going to be an interesting issue for me to manage. The Ironman race will start at 7 a.m., I suspect I'll have to get up around 4:30 a.m. to get ready and have a decent enough breakfast prior to swimming. Given it's a long way, I'd love to stop for a snack on the way round - so send your suggestions via carrier pigeon, a postcard or even the comments section on this page.  Extra points will be awarded for easily concealable snacks that will aid my buoyancy and help me glide through the 3.8km!!!

Running has gone quite well this week; I've completed another 10km on Wednesday night whilst the junior Galls were attending their Tae Kwon Do training. Today I've put another 5km on the training record with a treadmill run, followed by weights and stretches.

Swimming on Tuesday was great and I'll miss the sessions over the next couple of weeks as the pool closes for the school's October holidays. Managed another 2km swim today in a fairly steady pace… although If I could sort out my body position in the water I suspect I could take 20 seconds off per 100m easily… that would equate to about 12 or 13 minutes over 3.8 km.

Biking on Thursday was really tough… Old Mother Hubbard's pantry was more well stocked than our fridge and I struggled to squeeze family life (i.e. shopping / dog walking / homework (my kids) / homework (mine) / eating) into the short few hours between arriving home from work and collapsing into bed. I ended up starting my session at 8:45 p.m. and starting to cook tea at 10:15 p.m. at which point I was so hungry I was eating anything I could grab from the cupboard… not ideal.

Instead of swimming last night I decided to do another turbo session on the bike. I soon spotted that the rear tyre was as flat as a bottle of diet coke that has had a pack of mentos added (if you've not tried this check out the video below)…


Must admit, even though I then needed to change a tyre and inner tube before starting my session, I was pretty relieved that there was a decent reason why Thursday's 75 minute session was HARD work!! 

My S1 classes will all no doubt remind me that pressure is caused by tiny gas atoms / molecules bouncing off the walls of the inner tube… and that if there are holes in said inner tube / tyre then these particles will escape and mix with the air in a process called diffusion.  My daughter's primary school class will know that trying to cycle on a flat tyre is hard work - so how I didn't spot that is beyond me.

I've now ordered a specific turbo trainer tyre which will no doubt see some serious action over the next few months given any outside rides will be limited to the weekends.

Next on the agenda is a bike fit for and (hopefully) purchase of a triathlon bike and a new turbo trainer with power analysis / real time video software… ohhhhh the credit card is going to take a serious hit soon!  And here I thought may car obsession was an expensive hobby… eek.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The tyre of doom!

Swim Training: Tuesday 9th October 2012

It has often been said that the best way to improve at any sport is to train with people who are better than you - which is easy for me to achieve with swimming!  

Tonight's session with the ATHelite crowd was great fun, although I must confess that instead of being scared by the unknown (as per last week) I was scared about what was coming up…

And there it was, written in white board marker on the tiled walls of the pool… the tyre of doom. An inconspicuous rubber band used to tie the ankles together, preventing you from kicking your legs.  If your swimming form isn't good - this piece of elastic will hunt you out and drag you down to the bottom of the pool. Hmmm, I wonder where I ended up ;-)

Now, I'm hoping that my talent at sinking is not 100% down to a lack of natural talent but the fact that I've lost close to 12kg over the last 18 months (7 kg over the last 6 months) and now my natural buoyancy has been reduced…

Now density is defined as mass / volume.

Muscle is more dense than fat and given I've shed a load of mass and reduced my body fat down to about 12-14% I'm hoping that this can (partly) explain my leg's ability to sink like  concrete ducks…. Hmmmm, I think a problem solving exercise for my Higher Physics class (currently on properties of matter) may be in order  ;-)

Anyhow, after 20 meters or so on my first lap with the elastic band the inevitable happened - my legs dropped almost to the bottom of the pool and I may have been faster trying to walk underwater than swim. A second pool buoy helped a little as did placing them closer to my ankles to provide maximum uplift.  Eventually I got the hang of it and managed to complete the sets as required… but boy oh boy (or should that be buoy oh buoy?!) was I happy to untether my ankles!!

2km of swimming and drills despatched in 45 mins and then we decided to do a relay - each team member doing a 25 m sprint. I was pipped by finger-tips by my better half (although I had demanded a Steward's enquiry) - not content with this misery, my calves cramped up just to let me know they exist. Funny, since sparrows have mocked my for the size of my calves, I didn't realise they could burn so much after just 25m. Much stretching has been done since my return from the pool… but they're still letting me know they've been worked this evening!

Right, off to load up the glycogen stores with some rice and one fantastic curry!


Monday, 8 October 2012

Ironman Austria 2012



Hopefully 2013 will neither be as hot, or as humid as the race in 2012… click the video above to get a taste of what this race is about!

I've added a video of my efforts in the Virgin London Triathlon 2012 in the Previous Race Reports tab above… I'm the guy looking happy crossing the line  ;-)

A rest day today, so I've been finishing off the cake my daughter made yesterday… I'll hopefully burn it off tomorrow in the pool. If not, the added fat in the diet will maybe improve my buoyancy… tune in tomorrow to find out!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Meat is murder…. tasty, tasty murder ;-)

One benefit from all the training is being able to eat as much steak as I can fit on a plate…apologies to my vegetarian friends, but nuts and tofu was not about to satisfy cravings after today's sessions…


Detailed training logs now online

Added a page to the site today where (if you're really interested / nosey / suffering from insomnia - delete as appropriate) you can check out all of the detailed training logs from my trusty Garmin 910XT watch… Check out the tab above for more info!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

All signed up!

Officially registered for Ironman Austria 2012

Well, we've just received our codes, paid the cash and are now signed up for June 30th next year… no going back now (if there ever was!)… Accommodation is booked, now we just need to book our flights - not something we can do until 6 months from the date of travel.  It's a long way off but it's starting to feel very real.

October training starts with a splash!

Rushed home from work today, managed to grab a coffee and a small bowl of Cheerios and then off to swim training with the ATHelite tri club from Hamilton. Swimming is not my strongest discipline, so I got comfortable in the slow lane and listened with trepidation to the schedule for the evening:

Technical Drills: 
100m trailing knuckles; 
100m trailing fingers; 
100m no contact 
repeat for 2 sets
Done to ensure good elbow lift from the water on each stroke.

8 x 100 m swimming at 85% - building speed endurance

100m then 30 secs rest; 100m then 20 secs rest; 100m then 10 secs rest 
repeat for 2 sets - speed endurance with minimal recovery

All in 2000m in just under an hour with rest.  I started off pretty slowly then started to remember what this swimming malarky is all about. Really need to work on getting my hips and legs to float higher so that I create minimal drag through the water which will result in either swimming faster for the same effort, or swimming at the same pace (around 1:50 - 2:00 per 100m) for less effort… something that will come in handy when attacking the 3800m open water course.

Nipped to Sainsburys for some food shopping, cooked 3 different dinners (great when your kids eat the same food as you isn't it?), fed the dogs, updated this blog and now it's time for some schoolwork! Chat later!

Monday, 1 October 2012

September statistics

September training 

37 activities
Covered 255 miles / 411.4 km
Total training time of 31 hours, 27 minutes and 52 seconds
Climbed 6,524 metres (about 3/4 the height of Mt. Everest)
Average speed of 8.7 miles per hour / 14.0 km/hr
Average bike cadence 80 r.p.m.
Used 20,620 kCalories


Mondays are rest days just in case you thought I was slacking off...


Where now with the training?

Realised that we'd started our 32 week training plan for Ironman Austria a little early...  The plan has been reorganised in our calendars and should start in 5 weeks time!  This gives me more time to continue building up base level fitness before the hard work really starts!!!  Oh joy  ;-)


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Training (b)log added

Added a new page on my daily training - check out the tab above.



Over time, I'm hoping to add more details on the training plan I'm following including the reasons behind the different types of workouts (detailing L.T. (lactate threshold tests), FTP (functional threshold power) and potentially VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake) info and changes throughout the year), pages on swimming / cycling / running (including details on technique, hydro- and aerodynamics and the technologies involved - especially cycling), potentially diet info (carbs / proteins / fats / vitamins and minerals) and then photos / videos from events and training.


Anything else I should add?! ;-)  Let me know!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Look up!

Look on the title bar for Previous Race Reports… Happy Reading.

Any comments or questions? Give me a shout!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Starting out: building base level fitness

So, when did all this (madness) begin?

I'd been working on strengthening my knees following my operations in February 2011 but decided I really needed to get my fitness back on track.

Looking back, I was able to run a bath, but not run the length of the street without my heart beating out of my chest in complaint! My mass had increased to 94kg… remember kids, weight is a Force and is measured in Newtons, Mass is a measure of how much stuff you contain - which, given 1 Mole of Carbon atoms has a mass of 12g, we're probably looking at 5x10 to the power of 27, or 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms!!! In fact, there are more atoms in your body than stars in the universe…

Anyway, in March 2012, being the gadget geek I am, I managed to get my hands on a Garmin 910XT - which, for those interested in improving their fitness, is the training aid. It is perfect for triathlon training, using an accurate GPS receiver to calculate your distance and speed whilst running, cycling or even swimming in open water. It counts your laps in the pool (something which I am hopeless at) and even recognises which swimming stroke you are doing. The heart rate strap connects wirelessly to the device and records your heart rate during activities so you can tailor each workout - a much more effective way than using R.P.E. (rating of perceived exertion - i.e. how tired you are on a scale of 1-10). So, when you see the training logs later in this blog, they've all been recorded on my trusty watch… although I still haven't figured out how to show the time  ;-)

Armed with my new toy, I set out to build up my base level fitness...

Total training sessions to date:


March 2012: 23 activities, 179 km, 14 hours of training, 6,946 kCalories
April 2012: 10 activities, 313 km, 12 hours of training, 6,638 kCalories
May 2012: 19 activities, 341 km, 21 hours of training, 12,185 kCalories
June 2012: 28 activities, 382 km, 24 hours of training, 13,954 kCalories
July 2012: 65 activities, 725 km, 53 hours of training, 31,983 kCalories
August 2012: 34 activities, 563 km, 35 hours of training, 21,903 kCalories

So over the last 6 months I've run, cycled or swum over 2.4 Million metres and used up close to 100,000 kCalories - about the equivalent of 413 Mars Bars...



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