Monday, 22 December 2008
Friday, 14 November 2008
It is with great sadness that I realise two of my most motivational training partners and friends are about to embark on a journey that will take them out of my sphere perhaps indefinitely. Steve and Jo are both hardcore IMers who introduced me to the concept of early morning training on a weekday (like 0400hrs and earlier) and in whos company I have had the pleasure of whiling away many an hour circumnavigating regents park (somewhere around 1500 laps I would guess).
I must say I am distinctly jealous of their plans including a visit to New Zealand and a chance to do another epic camp. The idea of setting out on a cold winters morning to go around on my own does not appeal but hopefully some of the newcomers will stick around a bit when the season kicks in.
My training is currently all about the bike. I am riding a steady 75 miler every weeekend and trying to start pulling it together. I start to feel quite excited about the prospects of another hard build and maintain endless positivity towards the whole process. the only issue at present is swimming since my beloved lido is beset by darkness and therefore closed more often than not when I want to use it.
More regular posting to follow as i develop a theme for this years training...
Thursday, 30 October 2008
I dunno what it is about IM events but the more I do the more I wanna do. Once you have done one you go one of two ways I reckon. Either you back off and go back to something less time consuming or you want more. (But sometimes you have to call it quits, peel off the dodgy lycra and curl up with a pizza and dvd because that's more fun. edit by Mrs runtilyoudrop). Is it the overdose of endorphins that some of us become addicted to? Is it the order and demands of a tough training schedule that brings discipline to our daily life? Maybe its just having an excuse to buy some new kit, on the subject of which the assos 3 layer winter glove system is comfortably the best I have yet encountered if a bit pricey.
Point is I have already committed next year to 2 IM races and sit here contemplating entering Norseman an event that sits out there lurking desperately waiting for me to do it!! On the same level there is the New Zealand Coast to Coast, IM Japan, IM Brazil, Elbaman.......
... is this an illness, an addiction perhaps or just a passing phase?
Well who cares. After 3 weeks nursing a dodgy achilles the running has recommenced, swimming is starting to feel like something I like rather than a chore and I spent 5 hours out on my bike on sunday morning in the continuos rain and absolutely loved it. The hunger is back and I want more power!
Monday, 15 September 2008
September has been distinctly challenging. Work, family and trying to run everyday have left me worn out. The goal of running every day through September was worthy but not achieved. I managed 27 out of 30 days. The desire to start putting in the long runs led to the day after a long run when I found myself trying to run around Victoria Park on legs that felt like wooden stumps. The consequence of this was due to my stubborness I did not stop and walk but ran on and paid the following day when my achilles flared up.
Trying to stick to the rule of no more than a 10% increase a week I may have taken a slight liberty but thought my background training would help. The bruised heels and flaming achilles I sit here with right now speak otherwise. Do I stop and sit it out or do I stretch, do my heel raises and carry on? I have never found that rest got rid of my AT so I run on and use some brufen.. the running is considerably less enjoyable though.
So it seems that I cannot run every day or at least not yet and perhaps it has been quite a while since I did any serious training (I guess August was mostly rest!!)
I am still trying to rationalise the voice that says I should stay in bed, drink more beer and hey just kick back for a bit. It all sounds tempting but I have a goal to achieve and I am going after it. October will see some interesting running and a gradual build back up to cycling every Sunday at least 4hrs. The programme begins in earnest after I have recovered from Luton marathon (2weeks without running but a kick start to the swimming)so that is December.
Need to get the buzz back first though.
Friday, 5 September 2008
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Sunday, 10 August 2008
My children are still malleable enough to accept that daddy trains and does stuff and that this is 'important' to him, my partner however is far more acutely aware of the balance and the variations thereof. Hence the necessity for early morning training and the need to be able to shrug of the fatigue from a 6 hr ride and take the family out for an afternoon of fun. like all things it has to be worked out but it helps if you can take time out from training, even if what this really means is talking about it less and accepting a few missed sessions. Summer holidays provide significant challenges to a training programme and the balance when there are two working parents and 7 weeks before term starts. This combined with going away to foreign lands for your hols leads to a more flexible approach to training.
To which end I found myself running up an alpine mountain with 2 special forces trained fortysomethings (retired, and if I told you their names they would have to kill me :-) ) used to such alpine pursuits. Whilst I was doing this my children were swimming in a lake on the other side of a mountain. I let my two mates have their fun on the way up and then punished them by runninng down the other side. We did about 2000m ascent, 2500m descent and covered in the region of 18 miles in 5 hours, and as it was a holiday we had two beers along the way by way of refuelling. Nutrition being the fourth discipline of triathlon we then ate an enoromous meal with plenty of wine whilst the kids ran around and watched the firework specially laid on for us (and the other 40,000 people alongside the lake).
Apart from this I admired the people cycling up the mountains and wished I had brought a bike with me (alas it was not to be). Instead I did a Via Ferrata 350 m of vertiginous ascent hanging of the side of the mountain. I think it was payback for running down the mountain.
For my third and final session of training I took the dog for a run. Said dog has different ideas on running and after 10 minutes decided we had gone far enough and wanted to return home. After a further 5 minutes of cajolling the dog won over and we turned at which point the dog finally started running properly racing me back home. Strangely enough after 30 mins of running I felt like a rest too.
Too fill in the work life family balance I spent the rest of the time doing dad things, like letting my kids fly down a zip wire, quad biking and trampolining. All in all being dad is more important than everything else, but like many others I choose to be a dad who does ironman and I hope they see it as something positive. too which end next week I am back on the programme.
Monday, 21 July 2008
Came back to earth with a crash. Got off the airplane at 6.00 p.m. on thursday week ago and was called in to work at 7.00pm. Life goes on and the willing suspension of all things non-ironman has to come to an end at some point. Looks like next year is lining up to be a cracker though. Have confirmed 2 ironmans (?sp) or should it be ironmen, 2 marathons and a weeks training holiday. Who says it is obsessive.
Feeling a lot more worn than after IM Lanza earlier this year and feel in need of some proper rest. Allowing the sessions to be done how and when I feel which mostly means short and low intensity. That said did my hardest bike session this year which was 3 mins flat out 3 mins recovery repeat x 10. This was a hard core high intensity session done with 5 others which wrecked my legs for a few days. I am focused on the London then the Vit but only in as much as I reckon I should use my fitness to put in a few races. Deep down I am already brooding over how to get the 3 mins on the swim, the 10 mins on the bike and the 10 mins on the run. To the swim I will devote an extra hour a week, to the bike I will put on more power using the turbo and go back to more hardcore Sunday rides and the run I will let take care of itself (with a winter focus on marathon running).
I figure that with me going up to 40-44 and a good day I could track down that elusive Hawaii slot. Although maybe the hills at IMCH will not be ideal going for me. Back to the day job.......
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Raceday arrives and no traumas although rain looks likely, what do I care at least half my winter rides are done in the rain and I love it. Soon we are standing at the edge of the water and I decide on the right side this time with Jevon and Declan behind me for company:-). I know the drill this year as well, when they say enter the water that essentially means we are off and so it goes. I had a fairly steady swim, always keeping myself in control. Probably could have gone faster as when we got to the canal section (the last 800m) I was able to speed up and start picking of those ahead of me like pacman racing along a maze. Straight through T1 but had a major calf cramp as I pulled on my shoe then out onto the bike. The start was the usual high speed stuff and I was one of them! I had thought I would have a go at doing a sub 5 bike split to see if could at least recover my cycling mojo after Lanzarote. We had rain on the first lap. On the flat and some of the downhills I was a match for anyone, only on the hills was my form somewhat lacklustre, on the first pass of the Rupi climb I found myself going backwards but settled for a steady spin up the hill without going into the red at all. Over the hill and I was flying and soon went past the trunaround in 2.28 and some seconds, a sub 5 could be on I thought. Soon after I was passed by the first of 3 significant peletons of riders. I fully understand the concept of pacing of another rider but some of my continental friends especially the more italian names like alfonso seemed to think that the 10m rule means you all have to be within 10m of the lead bike (all of you!) any way they seemed pretty skilled in group riding so I dont think they were unsafe.
I felt pretty tired around 130-140 km but managed to keep my focus. Second time up the Rupi was much the same as the first but as I came of the top I decided I would hammer it home. I wound up my legs and went hard, there are a few rises where I would spin for a bit but soon as we were back on the rolling stuff (most of the last 30 km is downhill) I was back on the gas and it felt good as I cruised past some of the "bunches " of riders giving them a bit of abuse and daring them to chase me, some did but most did not.
Hit T2 at 5.04 something so dropped around 7-8 mins on my second bike leg. I definitely had a bit of lactate (or whatever) in my legs and was soon out on the run feeling a bit heavy and regretting my 40 minutes of lunacy in the last hour of the bike. For the first 30 mins I was not a happy man. First km that I timed myself on (from 2-3 I think) had me at 6min/km. I thought this was going to be lanza all over again, my legs were dead and I was making a deal with myself that if I took over 4 hrs on the run then my IM days were over (hey I was tired and emotional). I decided to HTFU and get a rhythm going. Next splits I did was for 3km and showed 15:20, suddenly my whole race changed, I discarded the previous split did some maths and realised if I could hold this I would do a 3.35-3.40 mara (my personal gold medal run time).
Suddenly I was on again. Knowing my usual run form I also expected it to get easier at least for a bit, and as I set out on the second quarter it did. This time I had a plan, when the running feels easy, eat a la Fink. So I was doing a gel every other feed station and "ezo" energy drink plus the odd bit of banana. Sure the food made me feel a bit sick but by pushing on I was banking my nutrition for the seond half (that was my plan anyhow) and keeping my splits on goal. At 21km ther was a race clock running and I think it showed me with about 1.55 to spare for a sub 10 but I cannot be sure. The third section was tough, as ever, but I was now catching and passing more than being caught and even able to track a few faster runners for a km to try and keep my pace up. I also elected to walk alternate feed stations to get a proper drink. When I got to the last 6 km I did some bad maths on the clock and thought I had only 35 mins to do the last 6 which was gonna be tough. I asked myself how much I wanted it and how much pain could I take. The answers came back as 1. Lots and 2. More.
I had been running with a group for about 3 km and decided it was time to push, and they dropped away, I also decided I would push fast through the feed stations. Counting down the kms there was again a rogue 6 min km but this was then followed by a 4.52 so I felt better but carried on pushing. When I got to the race clock about 1.4 km from the finish I was amazed to see it on 9.4something, my maths was wrong I had the sub 10 in the bag. I eased off but the realisation that the pain was the same whatever speed meant I picked it up for the last km. I was trying to find my family but could not see them. Finally approaching the chute I did not want a repeat of last year, I looked overtook the guy in front and stretched a bit to make sure there was a gap and into the chute, my name got called and I had done it 9.53 and some.
My next thought was where could I have found those 3 minutes.......
Todays thought is where can I find those 23 minutes .. see you out there.
p.s. Melly I love you.
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
This race will be one to enjoy, to celebrate and to find out what another year of this life has done to me. It should confirm my decisions to put my health and mental wellbeing as a priority. It also marks the end of an era as I move into the world of veterans of the fortysomethings. Does this mean I can sit back a bit- somehow I doubt that. Does this mean I can race faster slower or differently again probably not. As I look ahead I like to see someone who becomes more accepting of their own failings as well as more tolerant of those in others but also someone who is that bit more enlightened and who can learn how to go faster... because I am not sure my knees will hold out long enough to get a 75-79AG qualifier slot for Kona
Thursday, 3 July 2008
These last 10 days have been dominated by work with a a sequence of days on call (I lead a team of doctors delivering acute care for patients in a hospital) and a subsequent large patient workload which increases the demands on my weekly schedule (but luckily coincides with a reduction in hours of training- not bad on the planning front that). In addition I have been filling out paperwork to justify my pay and hopefully get me more; the key to this is a process called clinical governance which is essentially a philosphy of healthcare geared at doing things right.
Most people are clear what they want from a doctor; they want him to be polite and caring, knowledgeable, empathic, highly skilled dutiful and so on but above all have good results so they get better, especially when it comes to surgery. It is quite easy to appear to be all these things whilst actually not delivering the care patients need and likewise it is possible to exhibit none of these characteristics, at least to the incidental observer whilst actually delivering the highest quality care. The problem is how you determine whether a doctor has the desirable qualities. The process of CG if done correctly requires honest self appraisal, monitoring of you delivery of care across the year from many different perspectives (e.g. patients, colleagues, community etc) and participation in all the aspects that govern this such as audit of outcomes, attendance of meetings, further education all culminating in an annual status report where you go through the years work with a colleague summarise what was achieved and then set the goals for the coming year.
And it struck me that the parallels with training for ironman are all there. Successful racing starts with an honest appraisal of where you are starting from. It then requires the development of regular habits that if done correctly over a period of time will gradually reward you with improving performances. You need to perform regular assessments along the way (such as the odd time trial or race), and when you make mistakes look at what went wrong and learn lessons from it- and hopefully avoid making the same mistake next time. Overall you need to be honest with yourself about what you are doing and whether you are meeting your targets. It is this honesty that comes from racing at ironman: when you step out there it is easy for everyone to see how well you have performed. In my work this process is a lot less transparent but the ideals remain with me.
As I face my annual ironman appraisal by returning to IMA I wonder how honest have I been with my training this year: I felt my biking was going to be much better this year than last but IM Lanzarote was not terribly encouraging. If I dont meet my goals will I be discouraged- no I will respond by using the knowledge from this year to drive me forwards next year to try and get better both as an ironman and as a doctor.
Monday, 23 June 2008
Friday, 13 June 2008
Friday, 6 June 2008
How do we offset this focus on our own goals, should we worry about this and where does it end?
Personally I find that the advantages of training include the obvious like being fitter, the collateral benefits such as significant reduction in alcohol intake and the organisational benefits I have touched on before. It is still though a big step to deny my family my presence, or perhaps not (;-), as I set out early on a Sunday for a long ride. Even if I am back by 11 the morning is gone and after 5 hrs riding I am not the most energetic! I would argue though that on my return I am ready to focus on my family and I feel all the better for having been out and done the work.
The question still remains though as to what value we can attribute to our obsession and whether there are ways in which we can give back on the time invested in training, beyond the personal hoped for longevity and sense of well being.
One aspect which I would like to try and focus upon is how we can use our obsession to support others. The fringe benefits of encouraging others to pursue physical fitness both within our families and our workplace are well recognised but sadly these effects are small.
Living as I do in a mixed ethnicity multicultural inner city area with the associated socioeconomically deprived I have started to wonder if there is a way of harnessing the immense energy, skills and wealth of you average ironman to help the local community. Do we have a responsibility through our advantage and ability to help those around us to achieve some of their potential too? And if so how do we do it?
Does this mean I am going to start a hackney youth tri club?? Well I do not think I am the individual to do this. But could I support an aspiring youth athlete and help them to achieve some of their goals? Probably.On a personal level I am now able to run, which is a blessed relief. I also recognise the pattern of injury that goes back to 2005 and is essentially down to tight hamstrings (I think). So I am back on a programme of post exercise stretching which I am sure will be a force for good as I head towards IM Austria.
Friday, 30 May 2008
Monday, 19 May 2008
Monday, 12 May 2008
Monday, 5 May 2008
The clear benefits are in this series of 3x (5x100m of 20,15,10 and 5 sec) Ok I was in a wetsuit but the times 1.22,1.20,1.25,1.24,1.25,1.24,1.25,1.28,1.24,1.26 etc are all under 1.30. This is the first time I have managed sub 1.30s more than 5 x in a row so I was well chuffed and happy that a sub 1 hr should be in the bag (allowing for waves and general idiocy on my behalf). The flip side of this was that the pool was busy with 2 lanes out of action so a lot of fastish swimmers crammed into half the space of normal.. and I loved it. In doing so I must of crossed a few other swimmers and generally been a bit irritating to some of the others in the lane... so maybe not such a good thing, but when you are on fire it seems to conquer all other considerations.
Now to the hustle. My youngest was challenged by the pool attendant to do the swim test (again... for the 6th time in 2 years). I said she could swim to the end of the pool and back no problem. The pool attendant looks her up and down and says no chance. I said you wonna bet he said £5.
2mins 50 secs and 100metres later we were £5 to the good, so there are benefits from taking them to all those swimming lessons. And a well happy daughter to boot.
I just hope that now London has a new Mayor we are notgoing to see drastic cuts in the funding of facilities like the local pool.
Otherwise things are looking good. Made a rash boast that april would see me over a 1000 bike miles, but reality kicked in and got to 800 something. If you want to read about someone who really puts the miles down read this.
19 days to go to Lanza, currently doing some skin training in the sun. Looks like no running for a week though as calf is worse than I first thought, ran for 10 mins and it shut me down and I had to walk home.
Monday, 28 April 2008
Learnt about the joys of getting a speed wobble at 40+mph (I touched my breaks and the world went wobbly as I hurtled down a hill). In the time it took me to stop after crossing the white line twice and avoiding two almost certainly fatal collisions (through no skill or effort on my behalf- it was all I could do to hang on) I thought about several important things. I realised how much my two children and wife mean to me and what a stupid way to die having a bike crash would be; I realised I am not quite so tough as I thought and would pay a lot to avoid a repeat of that situation and I realised how I really should have tightened up my front skewer a bit more when I put the wheel back on.
Advice as to how to get out of a speed wobble appears to be as follows.
1. Accelerate out of it- so I am doing 40mph all over the road and I commit to going faster....
2. Grab hold of the cross tube to dampen the vibration.. so I let go of a bucking bronco and try and get hold of the tube, by which time I have wiped out big time.
3. you'll like this.. do a bunny hop... at 40 mph FFS
4. try cadence braking... my bake does not come with ABS
or my solution hold on for grim death, pull on brakes as much as you can and shout loudly " am not going to f34king crash and die today thankyou god.
That aside Lanza was great even the 10 km run (1 lap of the course at race time 2p.m.) in 31 degrees of heat and wind. So I am working on how to stay cool in the heat, which is why I have added a picture of Torbjorn Sindballe in his hot weather gear!!
Monday, 21 April 2008
Triathlon and in particular Ironman impose the demands of organisation upon me by matching my desire to achieve with a recognition that it needs focus, planning and assessment of where I am going with it all. Through Ironman I have become someone who (nearly) always makes a packed lunch, who knows what they are doing a week next Thursday and who can have frank discussions with themself about how things are going both in and out of training. Equally I now have tremendous indifference to the car I drive, the latest trends and so on.... unless of course we are talking about carbon fibre bikes or the latest swim suits.
So this Tuesday I am flying to Lanzarote for a 48 hr training camp. This has required some organisation staring with a prolonged campaign to persuade my partner of the benefits of said camp which I will be on my own for. In 2 days I hope to cycle the Im lanza course 1.5 times. Swim in the sea twice and manage 2 runs. How do I plan what to take.. write a list and then carefully assemble everything in to my bike box. No. I start by dissembling my bike, as I do this I start to collect things I think I will probably need, gradually box gets fuller. When I can no longer close it I take the odd bit out and then seal it shut. Should work.
So does this make me a better person. I doubt it, but I am more aware of how my desires impact upon those around me, and the need to have other things under control while I pursue my hobby. I am better at committing to what I will and will not do and prioritise all things. The issue that remains is always how highly you prioritise your training especially the long runs and rides which are demanding mentally physically and temporally and therefor have the biggest impact on life outside IM.
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
Ironfit by Don Fink gives some inspiration (but not much). Fitting a 20 hr training week into a 50 hr working week and still being there to pick kids up from school and taking them to swimming, generally be dad and be a support to my partner requires a lot of Juggling. Luckily the nature of my work enables some flexibility as I am to some degree my own boss. A fixed and fairly rigid schedule outside of work and maximising the use of early starts is the main key for me. The last part is an endlessly tolerant partner who reminds me of the necessity to participate rather then just be present for the family (although sometimes I can only just about manage being present) and who will challenge my need to train when it encroaches too much on the rest of the activities.
To this end I am early to bed and early to rise. An hour run is often snuck in before the family gets up on a weekday. A regular 3 hour ride on thursday morning, starting at 04:30 is another key session. My long ride at a weekend is always done by 12 on a sunday and saturdays as often kept free from any peak time training (so again I get up early and I am often back by 9 having done a 2.5hr brick session).
Funnily I often feel I have more time than I used to. I always make a pack lunch to ensure I have what I want to eat when I want to eat it and do not waste time queuing to get it. I organise my work diary to maximise effectiveness at work and to eliminate dead time and avoid taking on projects that do not have clearly defined endpoints or outcome measures. Finally I still watch tv but not as much (I was once a full blown couch potato) and usually only watch specific programmes that I have recorded.
More and more I try to make my training part of my lifestyle, such that it no longer feels odd to excuse myself from company to go and do a 1 hour run (like when visiting friends) and then pick up where we left off.
Mind you we all need a rest sometimes and I look forward to tapering in 4 weeks.
Monday, 7 April 2008
I have been doing triathlon since 2005. This followed a painful first london marathon in 2004 after which I swore I would never do anything like it again. My training prior to this had been a decade of sleep deprivation as a junior doctor, at least 20 cigs a day and the very occasional game of 5-a-side which was largely undertaken at a walk.
From my first sprint triathlon at Blenheim 2005 to Ironman Austria 2007 was a fairly seemless progression up the endurance scale. Having got there I found an event I wanted to do again and learnt some hard facts along the way. Not least I was suprised on the impact for good (mostly) that doing triathlon has been and how I hope it continues to do so.