I started this blog in 2010 when there were 11 weeks to go before my next Ironman triathlon. People have found it interesting (mainly my Mum!) so I continue to write.
The Ironman is a long distance triathlon; Swim 2.4miles, Cycle 112miles, Run 26.2 miles (marathon). I have competed in one every year since 2004. I hope this blog can help others see what is involved. I find the process of writing it makes me more accountable and motivates me to do the harder sessions when i'm not feeling like it!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Managed to fit a cycle and bit of a run in today.

BBQ at friends to watch the England USA game 1:1! Cycled there 30km and little run off bike 2km

Took George for a swim in the morning but that doesn't really count. Feeling it in my legs today following those 400m's yesterday.

Plan to ride with a friend for three hours and an hour run. As the half ironman is a week away will do a practice run with same kit etc, Never been this organised before - must be the "blog effect"

Also have bike set up appointment at 2pm - apparently it's really good value - will check it out and report back tomorrow. 

Friday, 11 June 2010

Track session 25 x 400m on 30 sec. (so total distance 10km)

School sports day at the track so decided to be flexible and run up and down the straight next to the Thames instead. Plan was to back off a bit following the calf pull a couple of weeks ago, main goal was to finish uninjured. With the ironman getting closer think the break through sessions (when you go faster/further than before) would be more sensible to do on the swim and bike.

Interesting to see what my limiting factor here is - fitness wise was fine and could have pushed a lot more, but strength was lacking mainly in calves. Will have a think how I can address this. It's more than likely due to years of heel striking, at faster speeds you tend to move to a forefoot strike and my poor skinny lower legs protest!

Warm up is a good thing to talk about here - the old days of static stretching before exercise are gone - these make you more likely to get injured. The aim is to prepare your body for exercise and this is best done by performing a dynamic warm up. This involves replicating the movements you will make during the main session usually with a greater range of motion. This usually means swinging type actions.

It's good to do some running drills as well - the ones I am using at the moment have been recommended by Greg McMillan www.mcmillanrunning.com

1. Loosening
Skipping with arm circles – both arms 180deg out of sync – goal to loosen only
Forward arms
Backward arms
Double arms – both forward, both backwards
Chest stretch – swing arms in and out
Side circles

2. Side skips – skip to side whilst doing cheststretch type arms –(activates glutes to fire!)

3. Karaoke – side ways movement, move trailing leginfront and behind, building to high knee of trailing leg
Knee drive as if moving leg over a hurdle

4. A skip – lift knee while cock ankle (heel upknee up toe up) (basically skipping)
a. With arms to mimic running
b. Key element is paw back – contract to drive kneeand toe to ground
c. Walk it first, then skip
d. Will sound nice and rhythmic on track

5. B skip – like A skip but push out drive leg toaccentuate the paw back - also called Russian walk I think
a. Driving the straight leg back to the track
b. Do walking first
c. Rhythmic sound

6. Butt kick – pull heel up directly below the butt
a. Heel up knee up toe up
b. Use arms

7. Straight leg run – aim to contract butt andhamstring
a. Goal is to propel by pulling straight leg back
b. Common error is leaning back – stayupright/slight forward
c. Build so get faster as go down track
d. Use your arms
e. Think toes contact first

8. Short sprints (only need to do 3!)
a. Only if not doing a hard proper workout/race
b. 3 point stance to start – focuses on drive of the legs
c. As fast as can for 30m with good form
d. All about total contraction of legs and use of arms
e. some people call these "strides" and can be viewed as weight training for the legs. i.e. strength building

You really have to see these done to get the idea - have found a few things on youtube. Maybe I will be brave and stick some video up - but i'm not that good.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Plan was to go to the running track today but it seemed everything conspired against me. Long day at work and got into Ivor the engine with George at home.

Went to the gym for 45 mins instead - if there is anything you haven't heard before just put it into youtube.

Squat - barbell
Lunge - dumbells - forward/diagonal/sideways/backwards
Split squat jumps
Calf raises
Nordic hamstrings - a killer - professional footballers can touch their nose on the floor and come back up! (I can go about 10 degrees!)
Good mornings
Multidirectional hops
Skipping - one benefit of the blog, had this rope lying around and knew I should be using it, finally got round to it. I have new found respect for boxers. How do they do all that fancy stuff?
Core exercises - will list these in separate page.

Hope to get to the track tomorrow - but made me remember some new research about the optimal order for different types of sessions. It is common teaching that your sessions should follow; SPEED then STRENGTH then ENDURANCE whether that is all in a day or for most people over a week.

However some new research looking at muscle biochemistry has focused on two enzymes mTORC1 and AMPK. Both are involved in the desired response to exercise - AMPK by endurance and mTORC1 by strength training - however AMPK can turn mTORC1 off but the effect doesn't happen the other way round. Therefore if you go to the gym, lift weights and then go for a run the run stops the gains from the gym. If you go for a run and then go to the gym both training effects continue!
This is a little simplistic but I just wanted to get to the bottom line - the order in which you do things can have a profound effect. There are a series of rules based on this new research which i'll discuss soon.

The other issue from today which I have to continually remind myself is that you improve when you rest and recover not when you train. A lot of people have a problem backing off and taking it easy, leading to overtraining and poor gains just for the sake of "one more session"

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Swim 9 x 200m on 25-50sec at CSS (Critical swim speed)

So added another set to the weekly interval session.
Quietly hoping to get up to 16 which would be great for the ironman as that would be a total of 3.6 km.
If I could break an hour for the ironman swim I would be over the moon. You can go a lot faster in a wet suit as the bouyancy keeps you in the correct position but there's also a fair bit of stuff in the open water that can spoil your day. I think my best time is 1h 06min but am usually around 1h 15min.

There is a school of thought that says to the energy you need to spend to knock 15mins of your swim just isn't worth it. You'd be better spending that on the run. This is because as you move through the disciplines, swim-cycle-run the resistance from the surrounding "fluids" (air and water) reduces. Air resistance on the bike at 40km/h accounts for about 80% of the energy needed.

Tonight I tried to concentrate on keeping my head in a neutral position and not lifting it to breathe. If you lift your head your feet sink you present more frontal surface to the water creating drag and slow down.

Did a bit of gym work - squat, core, and some stretching nothing too major.

Hopefully there will be some video footage below. As I mentioned, one of the real reasons for this blog was to learn how it is all done - especially video etc, hopefully it will get more professional over the weeks. (this has taken an hour of trial and error, luckily the family are all asleep)

This was taken in the endless pool at swim for tri. You swim against a current and so stay in the same place which lends itself to being filmed - and having your stroke heavily criticised!

Errors here are;
1. Hand to high - should lead with elbow, hand should always be below elbow (looks worse on right side)
2. Surfing - when arm outstretched hand moving up to present palm to front wall
3. Entering water hand should be flat, mine is rotated right round
The list goes on. Has made me think I better go back for another session to see if anything has changed at all!

If you go along - say hello from me.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Warm up 15mins
Set (250w x 20min at 90rpm) x 2 on 5min rest
then (250w x 5min at 90rpm) x 4 on 5min rest
1.5km run off bike at IMP


A hard session, plan was to do 3x main set but backed off on the third and broke it up into 4. Amazing how you change mentally from thinking this is going to be hard at the beginning to increasing in confidence and then negative thoughts creeping in towards the end.

Starting to think my time may be best spent on sessions like these rather than the big sessions. The endurance is there so there is a good argument that a couple of focused hard hours on the turbo may be better than 6 on the road?

There seems to be a lot of agreement that running is hard on the body - better to put time in on the bike and get used to running fast off it for a short distance and hope you can hang on when it come to the race.

More playing with bike position - seems left leg likes to be closer to pedal (saddle lower) and right leg likes the saddle higher. Sorry to mention all this here but it's to provide a record for me so I know what changes i've made.

A lot of cycling trainers will talk about level of exertion called TEMPO or FUNCTIONAL THRESHOLD POWER (FTP). This is basically the level you could sustain if you went all out for an hour - some call it "the hour of power" . You can base a lot of the Zones etc around this. There's a great book about all this - link below


So well rested and psyched up I think I must be around 250W for my FTP. It's humbling to know that this is the wattage the winners keep up for 4 hours 30min.

Looking at hotels in Bolton today for the race weekend - not much left only ones with scary reviews.

Monday, 7 June 2010

3km Swim no breaks

Most people would agree you don't need to do the ironman distance straight in training. There are a lot of people who finish in the top 10 who would never swim more than 400m in one go in training - you loose form and can't keep the intensity up. I find it helps confidence though.

Read a couple of interesting articles -

British journal of sports medicine 2008; 42: 796-801
It was about drinking strategies in sport and that you should use thirst as your primary cue and forget about blanket recommendations from sports drink companies.

Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise; Jan 2001, Vol 33 (1) pp 127-141
About squats - basically they are a lot safer than we have been led to believe - especially if your not doing mega weights and just trying to improve your cycling/running. May be time to go to the gym.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

BRICK (bike-run) day 170km Bike 10km Run

Set off around 6am (pressed snooze - hour late). Cycled down to Brighton - put what turned out to be a great route into the garmin so country lanes all the way. The amount of times I have done it using the main roads, getting covered in car grime and having to stop to read the map every 15mins.

Can't recommend the garmin enough - the model I have is 310xt which lets you upload maps that you can follow. It has been a godsend.

Bike set up still troubling me. Dropped the saddle a few times which eased the left leg which now feels perfect, but then right knee had a few niggles. Think I probably need to see if I need to set it up for a slight leg length discrepancy - but not 100% sure which leg is behaving as if its longer!. Major plus point is I think i'm starting to know what to do to the position to alleviate the various niggles!

So 85km to Brighton - fairly easy pace; 3hr 30 and 3hr 20 back.
(hadn't changed watch from run mode till the way back hence the three pages)

Then took george for a run in the buggy 10km. Ideally would have gone alone as would have been good to go at race pace, but had to get him out of the house.

Good to get all that done. It's in the bank as they say.

It's two weeks till the half ironman and a few people reading this are training for that.
Doing well on the day has a lot to do with how you taper.
I have always been told that tapering from running takes 3 weeks, cycling 2 weeks and swimming 1 week. This is based on the load your body has to absorb. So most triathlon tapers will start 3 weeks out.
Very simply it's advised to cut the volume of training by about 2/3rds and the 1/3rd you do do should be high intensity/high leg turnover.
I think your trying to get your body accustomed to moving faster whilst allowing it to store glycogen for the muscles.
Certainly there is a phenomenon called neuromuscular adaptation where your body gets used to nerve impulses firing at a the frequency you train at. Many people try to up this - for instance pedalling for 30 second intervals on the turbo at much higher cadences 115etc (not too important about the load)

I'm not going to taper for the half ironman as that would take too many weeks out but thought i'd mention the above.

The extra time is apparently for making sure you have everything ready!