Sunday, 16 February 2014

Week 11 training - A much better week

This week has been a much better training week compared to last week.

The durations went back up after last week's rest week.

On Monday I had a complete rest day with no thoughts of exercise at all. And boy it was bliss and much needed after last weekend.

Tuesday as usual was my weekly track session. The torture this week was 8 reps of 1km with 90 seconds rest. I really am starting to enjoy track sessions. Yes they hurt but they help me improve. In fact Tuesdays track session was still felt in my legs on Friday.

I decided to run the track session in my Skechers Go Run 2. The reason for the change of footwear? Well I have entered the Gainsborough 10km and plan on running the race in these trainers so thought I'd better get some miles in them. I had absolutely no hot spots or blisters after the 7 miles. I wasn't expecting that in all honesty. The lightness of the trainers helped me post some good splits. I felt really strong up until rep 4 when bizarrely I struggled to breath towards the end. I could not get air into my lungs. To be honest this scared me a bit. I missed rep 5 as a result but completed reps 6 through 8. The warm down of 2 miles was good. After I got home my calves were killing me.

Thankfully Wednesday was a bike and swim day rather than a run day. I went to the pool after work with the aim of completing 20 reps of 100m of decreasing rest times.

I was aiming to complete 5 reps off 2:20, 5 reps off 2:10, 5 reps off 2:00 and 5 reps off 1:50. However the other pool users put paid to that. After my 10th rep someone was swimming catch up with a float in the fast lane. Rather than persevere and get stressed, I got out and went home.

I followed up my 1km swim with a 45 minute Trainer Road session. The workout I chose was West Vidette. This seems to have become my fallback ride when I need a session of 45 minutes. It is quite relaxed when compared to some other workouts and I wanted to play around with my saddle position on #Rinnie again.

On Thursday I had a 1:15 Trainer Road session planned but had to end it early after the other Coach for swimming got in touch as he was stuck in traffic and needed me to plan the session. I stopped my session after 45 minutes. After eating my tea, I then went coaching. I really enjoy coaching my beginner swimmers and some of them are starting to make real progress which is pleasing.

Friday involved a 1 hour run after work. I was dreading this as the weather looked horrendous with heavy rain and 40mph gusts forecast. I suited up to accommodate such weather and set off running with no rain and a moderate wind. The clothing I had picked caused me to overheat considerably and sweat a lot but did keep the wind off me. I managed to set a new distance PB for one hour which was a nice bonus. I went through 10km just outside my PB time which was OK as the run was entirely in zone 2. I asked Dave Tune what he thought I could complete Gainsborough in and he said he didn't think I had posted my best 5km time yet so wouldn't like to comment but thought 50 minutes was achievable.

On Saturday I had a brick session planned and despite some extreme procrastination got on my turbo. I picked a Trainer Road session where each interval got progressively harder starting at 60% FTP and ending at 100% FTP. This was really challenging but enjoyable. I quickly got changed and started running. In the half hour I managed to complete a 27 minute 5km with 97% of the time below my lactate threshold. The only time I went above my LTHR was climbing a hill. This is encouraging as it proves I was working hard on the climb. I was pleased with my session.

Today I planned to spend 3 hours on my turbo watching films but when I woke the weather looked promising so I changed my plans. I decided to brave the outside elements for my three hour ride. This  ride was invigorating and a welcome change to the turbo chamber. I made a conscious effort to keep  my HR at 140 bpm (middle of zone 2) and my cadence at around 80 rpm. This seemed to work well for me. I averaged 17.5 mph across the ride and felt really strong, which was encouraging given the headwinds that were about today. It felt really good overtaking a group of riders travelling into a headwind. It's looking like the hours on the turbo are paying off.  On the next ride I will try and keep my HR at 140 but up my cadence to 90 rpm.

The constant swapping of saddles on #Rinnie meant that my normally comfy Prologue on my roadie was not comfy anymore. It wasn't painful but I knew I was sat on a different saddle. 

I don't mind admitting to being knackered this evening but I have posted another successful training week.

Another thing I learnt today was that unless I have a bottle in front of my eyes, I forget to drink when on the bike. I have remedied this for my TT bike and ordered a new nutrition set up.

Thanks for reading,


Team Freespeed

This week I saw an advert on Twitter from Team Freespeed where you could apply to be a member of Team Freespeed.

For the uninitiated Team Freespeed are a triathlon team made up of Age Groupers who pride themselves on taking athletes to Kona every year. Their list of sponsors is superb (and luckily stuff I use).

You had to submit your application in 154 characters as the team are people who give 110%. A tweet can have 140 characters.

Needless to say I threw my hat into the ring.

An active social media life is also a pre requisite to the process and to be fair between this blog and my Twitter account I do have an active social media presence.

What? I hear you cry.

How dare I consider myself good enough to join a team of superb age groupers. This team produced the fastest female AGer at Kona in 2013 in Catherine Faux. How can you consider yourself good enough.

In truth I don't.

Do I deserve to be a member of Team Freespeed on actual speed or finishes to date.


However, do I have the drive and determination to be a member of Team Freespeed, you bet your ass I do.

My aim is to be the best athlete I can be and being a member of Team Freespeed would help achieve this.

I know that me claiming to have drive and determination may sound self centred but lets analyse this in detail.

  • In January 2012 I was a 16.5 stone couch potato who did no exercise and smoked a lot.
  • I gave up smoking and set myself a challenge of completing London Triathlon. #jobdone
  • Despite having a blip with smoking I finally gave up for good in November 2012.
  • I then set myself a challenge of completing the Outlaw Triathlon in 2013, 247 days after giving up smoking. #jobdone. I ran across the line in 15:19:00
  • As part of this journey I have set myself numerous challenges to date and completed them all. Lets look at these.
  • Sub 30 5km. #jobdone
  • Sub 1 hour 10km. #jobdone
  • Sub 25 5km. #jobdone PB currently 24:12
  • Sub 55 10km. #jobdone PB currently 54:39
  • Sub 27:30 1500m swim. #jobdone
  • Sub 25:00 1500m swim. #jobdone PB currently 23:46
  • Set a new PB in London Triathlon. I bested my PB by 45 minutes in one year. Thats a 22% improvement in one year after I ran across the line in 2:47:04 #jobdone

So yes I have the drive and determination to back up my claims. To date I have not missed a target that I have set myself.

Training and receiving advice with and from world class Age Group athletes would help me be the best that I can be. And after all that is all we want, isn't it?

Two of my close Twitter friends have also applied to be members of Team Freespeed and equally they deserve a chance to train and learn from this group of superb athletes. Good luck Hollie and Lee. I wish you well in your quest.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, 10 February 2014

Week 10 – My first rest week of the new plan

I don’t know what is wrong with me. I seemed to have a general malaise for things training related this weekend.

I just could not be arsed. My body felt tired and I wanted to relax for the weekend. This was annoying as I had had a really good week training wise up to this.

I nailed every session of my rest week up to the weekend.

Track on Tuesday went well. I didn’t want to go but when there I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 reps of one mile. Each rep went well with me completing them in 7:46, 7:47, 8:02 and 7:58. I genuinely felt good at track. I didn’t feel like I was overreaching for the first time. Maybe it’s time I upped the pace a little? There’s something for me to think about.

On Wednesday I went to the swimming pool from work and smashed out a 1500m rep in 26:22 which considering I haven’t swum that distance since September I was really pleased with. I then went home and set to work on #Rinnie by completing a 45 minute TrainerRoad session. It felt good to be back riding Rinnie. I am still not completely happy with the saddle I have but after moving the saddle back it is a marked improvement on three weeks ago. I managed to move the saddle back to the second position on my seatpost and immediately felt the difference. After a few tweaks I managed to complete the 45 minute ride pain free.

On Thursday it was all a little bit manic as I had somewhere to be at 19:15 so just managed to cram in a 30 minute turbo session again with no pain #result. I then went to coach my swimming beginners.

Friday was a scheduled rest day but Dave Akers had been suggesting I go to his master swimming at Long Eaton so he could help my swimming improve because since I have started coaching swimming my swimming has really suffered. So despite the fact the session was 50 miles away it fits in with my training plan superbly. It’s on a Friday night so keeps me out of the pub and I can go every second Friday when I am meant to be having a rest day. The reason for these rest days was so I didn’t run too much over the weekend. Well swimming isn’t running so it works for me.

The session on Friday was 12 reps of 50m off 1:10, followed by 12 reps of 100m off 2:00, followed by 10 reps of 25m off 0:40 with these last 10 reps alternating between steady and all out.

The reps of 50m went well and I was quickly into the swing of things. The reps of 100m were a different story. I led my lane through the first 5 reps but then was exhausted. My times were 1:31, 1:35, 1:35, 1:35 and 1:38. I missed the first 50 of the next rep and then completed reps 7 and 8 on 1:35, I missed the entirety of rep 9 as I got some coaching off Dave and missed the first 50 of rep 10 but completed reps 11 and 12 in 1:35. Considering I had been doing reps of 1:40 on my own, I was thrilled with this progress. It does make a difference swimming with a squad as it brings out my competitive side. I even enjoyed the all out efforts at the end, which makes a change as I usually hate all out sprinting.

On Saturday my back was made of Velcro. I could not get out of bed. The two hour turbo session was harder than I expected. I was fine on my saddle until 1:40 in and had to tweak the position slightly. I suspect this is going to take some getting used to. The geometry feels a lot better now I have moved the saddle back. I don’t feel as cramped.

The session had me warm up, complete a 30 minute rep at 70% FTP then complete 3 sets of 10 minute under/overs as 3 minutes 95% FTP, 2 minutes 105% FTP, 3 minutes at 95% FTP and 2 minutes 105% FTP with a six minute rest at 50% FTP. ON my third under/over I made the unwise decision to do 3 minutes at 95% FTP and then 7 minutes at a minimum of 105% FTP. This was really hard work especially as it was 1:20 into my ride Then there was a 35 min rep at 70% FTP. I bonked big style during this rep and wanted to cry, the time was dragging and I just prayed for the session to be over but the worse I felt, the longer the session seemed to take to complete. I got off my bike and felt truly horrid.

The rest of Saturday was a haze of tiredness. I updated my blog ( and went out for tea with my Mrs but couldn't tell you what else I did.

On Sunday I got up and perfected the art of procrastination. I could not muster the energy to go for a 90 minute run. At 12:00 I finally managed to get my head in the zone and put my run gear on and left the house. I felt good for the first mile but by mile 2 it was a different story. I was not in a good place mentally, I was tired and did not want to be running. I made the decision to cut short my 90 minute run and listen to my body. I ran for 5km and completed it in 28:22. I was annoyed with myself for not possessing the mental fortitude to complete the planned session but when I got home I noticed I had a slight pain and swelling in my left knee so deep down know I made the right decision.

Aside from my horrid training weekend I had a really good week all things considered. I’ve found comfort(ish) on #Rinnie. I am back swimming with a squad which I have missed. My weight is now below 15 stone consistently and even though I hated the weekend, it is still miles in the bank which is the important thing and I listened to my body which turned out to be the right thing to do

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, 8 February 2014

My swimming tips

A recent Twitter conversation with the owner of jackoatbar led to me writing this blogpost.

As a triathlete who came into the sport of triathlon from a heavy swimming background, I realise I am in the minority. Most triathletes come into the sport from a running background.

As such a lot of them struggle with breathing.

Breathing when running and breathing when swimming are two completely different things. This is reinforced by the fact that I struggle to breath effectively when running and vice versa with a lot of the runners who are learning to swim with me.

Anyway I've digressed slightly. In the conversation with jackoatbar, he suggested I write a blogpost about swimming tips. So here it is.

The most important thing I can say about swimming is relaxation is key.

So the first rule of swim club is don't talk about swim club.

The second rule of swim club is relax, relax, relax.

If you can't relax in the water your body will be tense. If you body is tense then you will not be able to swim as effectively as you could if you were able to relax.

I am completely at home in the water as I have been swimming since I was 7 and competitively from the ages of 8 through 14. I am always at peace in the water, it is like a second home to me. Because of this relaxation I am at one with the water. I know that sounds a bit zen but it's true I know how to use the water effectively because I am at home there.

Another thing about swimming is there is no magic cure. If you want to swim quickly and efficiently, there is no option but to spend time swimming. Losing swim fitness is so easy. If I don't swim for two weeks then I take a massive step backwards. I lose rhythm in my stroke and my speed and stroke suffer as a result.

So unfortunately if you want to improve then you need to spend time banging out the metres.

The most important thing about swimming in a triathlon is learning to swim efficiently. Swimming efficiently is key to saving energy for the rest of the triathlon. After all there is no point thrashing yourself in the first discipline to save a couple of minutes when by swimming efficiently you could be in a much better place for the rest of the race.

The best way to demonstrate this is using the following two videos. These videos are of GB Triathlete Adam Bowden. Adam has been coached by Alan Rapley who I went to see in early January.

In the first video Adam is doing a 50m sprint. Pay special attention to how fast his arms are turning over.

In the second video Adam covers the same distance in the same time but is putting in a lot less effort.

Following my time spent with Alan I am trying to retrain my body to swim in this way but as a former sprinter I am finding it difficult. In my youth it was a case of putting in as much energy as I could to cover the distance as quickly as possible I didn't have to worry about lack of energy as I used to do 25 and 50m sprints so I could use brute force to get through the water. Now however it is about putting in the least energy possible to cover the distance as quickly as I can.

Swimming efficiently will save valuable energy for the rest of the triathlon. This is even more important as the distances of triathlons increase.

The thing which blew my mind when I started swimming long was that slowing down my stroke only cost me a fraction of my speed but meant that I had a lot more energy for the duration of swimming sessions. Before this I was attempting to use brute force but was struggling as the sessions went on as I had no energy left.

The other major tip I can give you is to pull effectively. This means that your hand should be vertical for as much of your stroke as it can be. To practice getting an early vertical forearm there are drills that you can practice. These are covered in the next few videos.

If you get your hand vertical at the front of your stroke then you are pulling for the maximum length you can and this will increase both your efficiency and speed.

If you can, join a triathlon club or masters swimming club as swimming with other swimmers does help you improve as you pick up so much from analysing other swimmers strokes.

Even I pay attention to my own advice as last night I travelled for an hour to go swimming with Long Eaton Masters as their coach Dave Akers has been talking to me on Twitter.  Last night Dave gave me a lot of advice. This was the sort of thing I wanted from my time swimming with Adwick Masters but unfortunately that didn't happen. I know it seems ridiculous travelling for 50 miles to go swimming but it is the coaching that I need, Dave gave me some pointers to improve my stroke and last night I was consistently swimming 1:35/100m off 2 minutes which is nearly at #projectonehourswim pace. And the swimming on a Friday night fits in with my already bursting training plan.

If joining a tri club or masters club isn't an option then search the internet as there are lots of videos of efficient swimmers. Here is one featuring Jono van Hazel. Pay attention to the length of his stroke and look at his body rotation. It is phenomenal to watch.


Hope you enjoyed reading this blog and thanks for reading,


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Science and running

I know I've banged on about how much my lactate threshold and continual track sessions have helped my running. But is is ridiculous the effect they have had.

Since my lactate threshold and since I started going to track I have written the following blogs.

Today marked another PB in my running as I took 2:53 off my 10km PB by posting a 54:41 during a training run. This is good in itself but the run was after an hour on the bike where I completed a Trainer Road session with an average speed of 19.9pmh, average cadence of 86rpm and average HR of 131bpm, which is at the top end of my zone 2 on the bike. After a quick change I set off on my run.

54:41 later I had decimated my PB by 5%. What a difference consistent training makes. And do you want to know something else. I am not even running as much as I was before my lactate test.

This week for instance I ran on Tuesday at track and I ran today. Since my bike lactate I have been concentrating on my bike as I feel I have more to gain here.

Now let's look at the evidence. Before my running lactate test my PB's for 5km and 10km were as below.

5km - 26:48, date 17th July 2013, average HR 167bpm, max HR 187bpm
10km - 59:31, date 27th March 2013, no HR data available as I was running to feel but summed up my feeling with these words " It wasn't easy and it hurt but I felt so good when I reached the 10km target" in this blogpost

Since my lactate though my PB's have begun to tumble.

I have beaten them both twice since my lactate test and my HR's are lower which I am still struggling to comprehend.

1st 5km PB - 25:42, date 14th December, average HR 179bpm, max HR 190bpm
2nd 5km PB - 24:12, date 18th January, average HR 178bpm, max HR 189bpm

1st 10km PB - 57:34, date 12th January, average HR 164bpm, max HR 179bpm
2nd 10km PB - 54:41, date 1st February, average HR 164bpm, max HR 172bpm

So despite going quicker I am also not working as hard. The difference is knowing how hard to train. I really could have gone quicker today but it was a training run so there is no point risking injury.

So in summary, if you want to improve your running and can afford it get a lactate test and go to track sessions. Thanks to Blizard Physio for all their help in making me the best I can be.

Thanks for reading,