Saturday, 3 March 2018

what I learnt last year

So the blog that does not want to die!

Training again after last years reboot. I learnt that running is hard on your body (again) and that Ironman gets tougher as you get older. I leant that you can enjoy Ironman when your walking on the run and when you stop chasing a goal! I learnt that there is a lot of fun to be had cycling with a bunch of friends through some mountains. I learnt that if you do lots of rehab and free weights you can get Achilles tendonitis better. I learnt that the Stratford Olympic Pool is beautiful to swim in when they shut the lido. I learnt again that when you stop training it is hard to get going again and age seems to be a key factor in this. I learnt that wine meat and chocolate have lots of calories. I learnt I can no longer go with the ‘fast’ group. I learnt that no matter what your training your ego can still plan a race your body can’t deliver. I learnt that the journey is the point and the outcome is irrelevant. I learnt that the desire for an outcome creates the journey. I learnt that all that training can be time consuming and selfish. I learnt that sometimes it’s ok to be a bit selfish if it’s keeps your world in balance.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Back to the future- Ironman and NHS

I have signed up to do another Ironman after a 3 year gap. A lot has happened in this time. I have become ever more engaged with the NHS and have become committed to trying to sustain and maintain the principles of this national institution. I have learnt more about leadership as a member of The Nye Bevan Leadership Programme and I have reflected widely on why I do the things I do. I put on weight, and everyone said how well I looked! I have watched my children developing into adults and amaze me with their knowledge skills and abilities. I have tried to convince myself I am comfortable with who and what I am. However even at 47 I still feel the need to challenge myself to be better than I am and to achieve "goals" that may or may not be valid.

So back to training which definitely gets harder to do as the years go by, or perhaps more accurately harder to recover from. Hard sessions leave me immobile and need 48 hrs recovery. All running seems to carry the risk of injury. But I have a few tricks and tools to help.

Firstly a dog as a running partner! Sometimes good company sometimes he runs of, mostly he ensures I get plenty of breaks on my runs with him. Secondly ten plus years of training helps me get a good idea of what has worked for me in the past. Next is a desire to look more carefully at my diet to see what potential benefits it can have on my general wellbeing by focussing on "better" diet. Above all is now a recognition that I do these things because I enjoy them, and want to do them.... although that can be hard to remember when you climb out of bed in the cold and dark for an early morning bike ride.

Alongside my training I want to develop knowledge about what needs to be done to sustain the NHS. We all need to understand what a great thing it is and how limited and limiting the alternatives we'd be. So to quote Nye Bevan

 " The collective principle asserts that... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means. "
—Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear

The quality of our society will be much greatly diminished  if we fail to sustain this principle and allowed the NHS to fall into an irreversible decline.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

280K bike and 36x100 m off 1:45

Liege Bastogne Liege is the doyenne of the spring classics for the pro cyclists. In other words it is very hard work. Last weekend I successfully completed the ride along with the LFTC crew and my old mate Jevon. I clocked 295km by the time I had ridden to the start and back and taken a minor detour. In order to avoid the race scenario of most sportives they had 4 timed climbs in the last 60 km or so which I  studiously ignored as I focused on getting finished. I think it would really helped my race if on the Sunday I had not tried to drink a beer for every 10 km of the race.

I learnt as ever that there is always the odd thousand people faster, but that I am feeling generally pretty strong. Going into IM Lanzarote I am confident that I should be under the 6 hrs but feel I have not yet developed the top end power that comes from a few short course races and a few more turbo sessions.

Te swimming feels good. Today's key set was 36 x 100m pushing off the wall every 1:45. The goal was to hit 1:30 or under for every 100m rep. Apart from a slightly tough patch around 25-28 reps I managed this. The last 6 reps were not technically the finest but I got them done. I am now confident that my swim will be good enough and should see me around the hour.

Which brings me to the run. I have managed to find some form but I am under run. I know I do not have the volume to hold it together at the pace I would like to go. I hope that. By using a run walk strategy, I plan to walk 80 steps every mile, I will be able to hold of the fatigue for longer but doubt I will do much better than a 3:45.

Which means if I run to plan for the first time I should get under 11 hours at Lanzarote. Well you gotta have a goal!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Running- and no AT

So finally running is coming on but boy is it a hard grind. The physical effects of a long run seem to me now to be my key limiter. Following the 10 % rule of run progression ( don't increase run volume by greater than 10 % in any week) I can now get 17 miles without stopping or any Achilles tendinitis.

Oh joy to not have the deep pain of AT, that ache in the morning, the discomfort at the start of the run that often eases after a few miles only to come back as your run progresses and then that bite again the following morning. What do I attribute to this success so far.... because I fear it can come back at a drop of a hat! Well I think it was lots of free weights especially deep squats and springing up at the end as well as swinging some kettle bells done during the autumn. This dynamic loading of my Achilles has presumably built up the strength there and made them stronger!

With under 4 weeks to Lanzarote  I need to balance the recovery from the long runs with the need for more endurance and a desire to get the run more progressed for IMUK. I plan to try and get two more in with my last long run being 12 days out from IM Lanza. Will it work will the taper be long enough? Who knows but it will be interesting to see.

 Before Lanzarote there is the small matter of Liege Bastogne Liege 270-280 km of Belgium hills with 4500 m of climbing. It seemed such a good idea back in October.  I am hoping it will push my biking to breaking point but not beyond allowing a bounce back in time for the IM. At least the bike leg will seem like a breeze after this.

Finally planning to do the london triathlon two weeks after Lanzarote which is going to be interesting. Speed work 2 weeks after an Ironman usually hurts!  Another interesting idea. I must stop having them.

Friday, 18 April 2014


At 46 years I don't feel old.... But I no longer feel young either. Ironman training is good simulation for the ageing progress. You tend to feel tired a lot of the time, it sometimes hurts to get up in the morning but you know your not going to stop you doing what you need to do. You also get a bit wiser with experience knowing perhaps when to back off and when there is still a bit more to be gained. More attention to recovery is required and I find more and more that the short intensity stuff leaves me fatigued and eats into the next session of training.

This year has seen some highly motivated LFTCers doing regular long weekend rides; This, along with a focus on a small little sportive, Liege Bastogne Liege, has seen my out riding regularly each weekend and boy has it helped. The team ethic of getting out early and getting it done has enabled us to put in some big miles and climbs. Watching others getting stronger and more confident has been great and I am looking forward to some really strong bike rides from a few club members at Ironman France.

With Ironman Lanzarote I am pretty confident I am in a good place for my swimming and cycling. The running has progressed with 5 weeks of injury free running but I am short on volume. As result I am planning to try a minimal taper for Lanzarote and hopefully a smooth transition into a block of run training for IMUK. You never know, with the right balance, I should be there or thereabouts come Bolton.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Riding longer

For those with an interest I authored a blog on LFTC club blog on my insights into the bike leg of an ironman race. Its-all-about-bike

Continuing the theme I though I would report back on my first ever audax or randonneur event that I participated in with John from LFTC.

What is an Audax and why bother? Audax is long distance cycling. A bit like a low rent sportive you are given a list of directions to follow a route, and more recently a gpx file for your garmin. Along the route will be various checkpoints some manned and others asking you to identify some unique information (like who's name is on the bench at the crossroads in the middle of wherever it is you are meant to be going). Some of the checkpoints have got a cafe or e.g. At the town hall on our first stop they were doing tea and bacon butties.

Another term for these events are reliability rides. It is more amiable than a sportive and yet still suitably challenging. Kind of like a large club ride but with people you don't know. Inevitably you form groups and after about 60 km I spent the remaining 150 km with pretty much the same group.

The advantage of the route is you use someone else's knowledge to guide you on a long ride via some interesting scenery. It was fun. Occasionally we would miss the route but a combination of garmins and paper quickly out us back on track.

The ride itself was fun if a bit on the flat side and with a last 20 km into Southall and out again! Not sure why this was felt to be a good idea and coined a new term the urban audax. Apparently this is not the goal.

Finished with 208 km 7 hrs 30 mins or so of riding and a bit of sunburn. I felt particularly good in the run iand did some strong pulls on the front.

Next stop is Liege Bastard Liege  in april 25th which is 270 km with a lot of hills. Should be fun.

... the less said about running the better.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Pushing Iron?

Its official the IM Lanzarote entry is done. So base training is officially started.

The goals this side of Xmas is to get some miles back in the saddle with some regular 4 hr rides and to build some muscle. The adviec from many aged triathlon (Friel, Allen, Gordo) gurus is that the older you get the more important the weights become. So I have embarked on a 12 week conditioning programme to put on a bit of bulk which should see me a bit stronger as I start to push things come Spring time.

The aim is to prevent training injuries and increase overall muscular endurance. Meanwhile swimming is improving but running seems like a forgotten art. Hopefully it is something I can relearn as running has always been my key limiter in races. To really succeed in placing well in an ironman the marathon needs to be at least a 3:30 in my AG to get up towards the sharp end and ideally a bit faster still. With one run at 3:24 I know this achievable but also know it needs a consistent steady approach.

So back to th weights.... And the isolation of underused muscle groups. They can sure ache a few days later but I hope soon this will become less as I get used to the training stress. Kettle bells seem to feature as a particular source of agony and it is official I bench press like a girl!