Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mega March!

Well, that's March over (not officially, just in training terms!) and we're officially into Summer-time - woohoo!!!

Unfortunately that meant I lost a valuable hour's sleep this morning so it will be early to bed tonight... well, if I can get all my homework marked and lessons planned.

I did have great intentions today to get up when Lorna left to go to Stirling for the Scottish Duathlon Championships but there appeared to have been a long blink and I eventually got up at 8:50 (although to be fair my body was still on Winter-time).

Lorna did great in the duathlon today although she has been beating herself up about her time, crazy girl that she is... Given she's been poorly all week she did great but sometimes you need to beat yourself up about races to help spur you on to greater things. I'll need to be on my guard come the 27th July - she was only 18 mins behind me last year and has been training really consistently well for months.

Today was (hopefully) some of the last long sessions on the turbo and treadmill for the foreseeable future. I'm itching to get back out on the roads both on the bike and my two feet with the rest of the ATHelite gang. I've missed a good few sessions since my road bike was missing the mandatory mudguards and is in need of some lots of TLC. It's just about keeping me going on the turbo until my new road bike arrives - but more on that later.

So, March has been probably my biggest training month EVER!

Just over 69 hours of training; 83 activities, 1,042km covered and 38,652 kCalories burned! This compares with 36 hours training for March 2013, so quite an increase in volume, although I burned 28,000 kCalories so it shows most of my workload is in the lower (aerobic) heart rate zones as required.

Must say, Gary has been keeping me plenty busy but I'm feeling really great. I'm convinced the knee/leg strength exercises I'm doing at the end of every session are helping to keep me limber and avoid the usual aches and strains, so they're now an ever-present part of my training schedule.

The resting heart rate seems to be sticking in the low 40s too:

Which isn't too shabby for an old boy like me ;-)

I had to cancel my new road bike order the other day as I was told it was unlikely to arrive until early May at best and given it has been delayed no fewer than 3 times already I decided to pull the plug on the order. I have, however, managed to order a new frame set and the guys up at Velocity 44 in Stirling will be pulling it together over the next week or so - very excited!  I'll post up more details in due course :-)

I've nicked this picture from Gemma Beattie - one of our new members in the club, I'm sure she won't mind:

Kind of hits the nail on the head :-)

Gemma is competing in her first Ironman this year - you can follow her journey at:

A few of the other ATHelite team are also posting up their thoughts on t'interweb:

Alan Robertson is posting photos on blip photo to chart his training: is John Young:

Tony Marlow is all old-school like me and is writing a blog:

And of course, Derek's blog is detailed in my 'other great blogs' section on the right hand side menu.

Go on - have a look, if only to convince yourself that there are more nutters out there as well as me  :-)

Whatever you're doing - have a great month!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Another week zips by...

Crikey! That was another fast week.

We're quickly approaching the Easter holidays and thoughts are turning towards a week in the sun in Lanzarote with the family. The kids are looking forward to it almost as much as we are. They had a brilliant time at Club La Santa last year trying out loads of new sports, messing about in the pool and cosying up at night watching videos in the room after eating dinner outside at the terrace restaurants. Bliss!

Lorna and I spent hours last year biking on the great roads around Lanzarote and one thing we noticed was how other road users treated cyclists with great care and respect. All drivers over there overtook bikes as if we were a car - i.e. on the opposite side of the road giving us plenty of room. They know that if it is windy bikes will easily get blown across the road, or if road surfaces are poor, riders will sometimes need to quickly steer out of the way of holes in the road or poor road surfaces. No doubt they also know that many people visit their island to ride and a safe cycling experience will mean they will keep coming back.

Tragic news in the UK with yet another cyclist killed (Christian Smith, 38) on the roads whilst undertaking a charity event at 4 a.m. on a road in Kent. Seemingly an 18 year old girl (drunk) and a 19 year old man have been arrested for causing death by dangerous driving. Another family devastated by poor driving - my thoughts and condolences go out to them.

I watched an episode of Top Gear whilst on the turbo and the presenters poked fun at cyclists not knowing the difference between green and red (a reference to them jumping lights in the big cities) and the fact they should have worked harder so they could buy a car. Now I know Top Gear is basically a light-hearted entertainment show but this was a wasted opportunity to put across the dangers of biking. There are no doubt a small percentage of bikers (like drivers) that do not follow the highway code and they are putting themselves at risk. However, in an accident between a car and a cyclist you know who is going to come off worst...

We all need to share the same roads and really the only way for us to reduce accidents and improve cooperation is educating both groups... So drivers, give us a bit of space, don't drive by at 60 mph when you're only 10cm away from me... it's not big and it's not clever. Treat us like another vehicle and overtake sensibly - just imagine one of your family is riding the bike... And I'll promise to stick to the rules of the road. Deal?

Anyway, back onto training...

Another massive week under the belt - 16 hours and 20 minutes in total. Another good swim set - 7 seconds slower over 3.8km than last week (consistent!) and I even managed an outdoor run! Typical that I managed to pick pretty much an uphill 11km run from the garage back home, but the sun was out and it felt great. Maybe the 1.5 hour dog walk following the run wasn't the best idea but when I came to churn out another 3 hours and 15 mins on the turbo I felt absolutely shattered! I reduced the tempo set down from an hour in the middle of the ride to 30 mins and added in a much lower power recovery session instead - although I called it a day at 3 hours. Thankfully the turbo session the next day felt a bit easier and after about 1 hour and 40 mins on the treadmill I felt like I was flying. Would have been nice to have ventured out into the spring sunshine but Lorna was out on her bike and I was looking after the kids (well, in the same house at least ;-).

I'm sure the mental torture of the turbo and the treadmill will stand me in good stead in 18 weeks or so. In any case, I'm looking forward to getting outside for some 'real' training soon.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

It seems to be working...

Well so far, so good... the training is going really well. I racked up 16 hours last week and I'm still able to function, so that's a result! 

My swimming is coming together and last Friday I managed to take 2 and a half minutes off my best ever 3.8km time in the pool; hitting 4km in exactly 1 hour and 20 mins (and 0 seconds!) - holding 2 min/100m pace for the entire duration. I was rather chuffed with that!

The ATHelite swim sessions on a Tuesday night are paying off for speed and technique and I'm going to continue with a longer swim every Friday to keep the endurance going. Dare I say it but I'm actually starting to enjoy my time in the water! Shock, horror!!!

I'm sticking rigidly to the plan Gary is developing and I'm noticing benefits, especially in my running. Whilst I've not been outside as much as I'd like (a necessity of having to look after the young 'uns when Lorna has been out racing / training / picking up shiny new bikes), it has allowed me to keep in the correct heart rate zones. This low heart rate training is called the Maffetone training method and seemingly it is what our short track speed skaters have been using to get fit.

A couple of months ago I was struggling to hold my heart rate at the top of zone 2 (<128 bpm) at 7.5 km/hr with a 3% incline on the treadmill... This is the HR trace from today:

A maximum of 121 bpm and an average of 110 bpm; pretty much 10-15 bpm lower than it had been at the same pace / incline. 

This basically means I'm getting more efficient at the same speed, or alternatively I can run faster with the same heart rate. The goal really is to push up the threshold heart rate as much as possible to allow me to run as fast as I can whilst staying aerobic. It seems to be working...


Monday, 10 March 2014

Underwater ping pong?

Well, another week has flown by and I've managed to squeeze in another 15.5 hours of training through a combination of early mornings and long turbo / treadmill sessions at the weekend.

Had a really good swim session with the ATHelite team on Tuesday, hanging on for dear life to the others speeding away from me in the lane, when, out of the blue, my 'catch' returned and I started swimming quite well (well, for me anyway!). I imagined my hands as paddles (or table tennis bats to be truthful) and this helped to push the water behind me - propelling me forwards.  Fast forwards to my swim session on Friday and I kept this image in my head, I focused on this and the feeling in the water and I managed to complete 20x 100m in 2 minute repeats (i.e. swim 1:45 get 15 sec rest, swim 1:55 get 5 sec rest)... First time I've ever managed this! Well chuffed. I went on to complete 4km (160 lengths) in the pool which was a decent workout, not only physically but mentally too.

I was speaking to my Sports Science class today about Sports Psychology - the role the mind plays in performance. Visualising what success looks like is a really powerful technique and I've used it before when training, imagining what it would feel like to cross the finish line at IM Austria. I've since realised that this visualisation can be used to help improve technique - especially in swimming, where trying to see what you're doing often ends up with you sinking like a stone or swallowing half of the pool!

I'm sure in 20 years this swimming thing will feel like second nature but until then I'll keep pretending I've using table tennis bats under the water - anyone for ping pong?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

March already?

So that's February over... how did that happen?

I know it's a short month but it feels like someone has their finger on the fast forward button at the minute.

Eventful last few days, turned 44 on Thursday and was well and truly spoiled on the present front by my wonderful family. Scoffed cake with 5D2 on Thursday morning and had some impromptu birthday cards and a verse of Happy Birthday from 1P6 with loads of other pupils wishing me many happy returns.

Managed to sell my Boardman AiR TT 9.4 to a nice guy who is doing Ironman UK for the second time later this year - Good Luck in the race Danny, I suspect you'll smash your course record on the new steed!

The training went really well and I've managed to stay injury free and put in some decent sessions:

So 68 activities, covering 819km in 51 hours and 14 minutes and burning 29,861 kCalories.

So, thanks February 2014 - you were great... Hello March! Now I'm off upstairs for 3 hours on the turbo trainer, have a great day whatever you're doing.

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