Friday, 16 December 2011

Taking a detour?

Its hard sometimes to come back and write a blog post when you leave it too long.
Ive had a few things I wanted to blog over the last while, but life has been busy and the longer I leave it the harder it gets. Tonight Im biting the bullet and getting writing...
Im planning out my next season.
My "off season" has been a bit too off.. Ive been barely training at all and drinking too much and eating too much.
Next year I had a few things planned, but recently something came up that has caused me to take a slight detour from my planned training journey.
The other night I signed up for an event called "The Fight"
This is white collar boxing. 30 people who have never boxed before have all signed up to do the same thing...
On the 17th of January we will all commence an 8 week intensive training program which culminates in a big fight night.
All of us will get in a ring in front of around 800 people and fight.
Im no figher, in fact im actually a pacifist. The main reason I am doing this if for charity.
I like to do something for charity once in a while. I dont do it too often as it gets annoying to ask people too often too support you to do these things. I never ask people to sponsor me to do triathlons or running races a these are the things I do for pleasure. I might as well ask people to sponsor me to watch TV and drink wine.
The Fight is different.
Doing this genuinely scares me. The training is no big deal. Ive heard its intense and tough going, but I know I can handle it. In fact while training for this I will continue to train for triathlon, so in addition to the boxing training I will still run, bikle and swim as I will be doing at least another 3 half Ironman races next year and probably a marathon. The full detail of the remainder of the year wil be a subject of another post at a later stage....
The thing that is gonna be tough about this is the final event.
I will get into a ring and face an as yet unknown opponent who will be intent on knocking me down and knocking me out.
Im 36 years old. I will be 37 in a few weeks. How many people do you know who, at the age of 37, get into a ring in front of a huge audience and trying to avoid getting the absolute crap beaten out of them?
3 years of full on training for running and triathlon has not in any way prepared me for dealing with being punched in the face. Repeatedly.
Seriously, when did you last get punched in the face?
Its going to be an intense expereince and a hell of a journey.
Im looking forward to it in many ways, and i am hugely nervous in other ways.

So, do me a favour, click the link below and start off by giving a few quid now. I will blog more on this over the coming weeks, and I will be a bono-level pest about this as I have a pretty big target that I really want to hit. Im not getting the crap beaten outta me for nothing.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Galway Ironman 70.3

This is a long one with a fair few pics :D
Finally.. my A-race of the season.
Well.. this was always my planned A-race. However it ended up being a joint A-race with Groomsport. My main aim for the year was to complete 2 half Iron distance races 2 weeks apart.
I hit that objective.
The scale of the event in Galway was phenomenal. This was the first Ironman branded event I have been involved in and it really was huge. Just for context... this is the third half iron distance Ive done this year. The first had around 40 entrants. The second had 130. Galway had over 2,000
I got up early on Sat, got the bike sorted and drove down to Galway. Sadly Steph had to work so she and the kids couldn't come along as support.

I got down in the afternoon and headed for registration and instantly the scale of the whole thing hit me. I walked into the registration hall and saw the massive Ironman banner and the scores of people and staff and was part excited, part nervous.

After registering and picking up my Ironman branded bag (with disappointingly little swag in it) I went out to sort out my gear into bags. This whole concept of having specific bags for each discipline and packing them and registering them the day before is new to me. All the other races Ive done over the last 3 years Ive just turned up on race day, dumped my bike and box of gear and that is it. For this you have to have far more organised. Once I got the bags packed though and headed to rack my bike I could see why.. and this is when the scale of it really hit me.

Bikes as far as the eye can see. The length of the bike racking area was huge. After racking the bike and registering the bags i went for a walk to see the distances involved in the transition. I reckon the distance from swim exit to bike mount was going to be easily over 1km. There would certainly be no fast transitions going on. I then went and checked into my hotel and pottered about until it was time for the race briefing. The briefing was the next stage in the whole thing being HUGE. I was in the second briefing. the first was for the first thousand. Mine was for the second thousand. The host was Mike Reilly, "The Voice of Ironman", the commentator at all the major Ironman events including the world championships in Hawaii. The briefing was actually fun and entertaining and afterwards I felt a huge mix of excitement and nerves. Which is weird.. i mean, I had done this distance race just 2 weeks previously but the scale of all this definitely had an impact.

Race day was an early start. My alarm call was for 4:30 am. I headed out of the hotel and noticed a few other triathletes in the breakfast area. I joined them for some porridge and coffee then wandered out through the lobby which was still full of people drinking and partying who were at the hotel for a wedding. That was a bizarre moment!
When I arrived in transition it was still dark but T1 was busy.

I racked my bike and just wandered around absorbing the atmosphere.

My wave was due to go at 7:05am.. just 5 mins after the pros. It was cold and very windy. I got changed into my wetsuit and headed down to the swim start. It was shortly after this that Mike Reilly came on the mike to inform us that due to the weather and the waves, there were a few changes. First of all the start was being delayed by 30 mins... secondly the swim was being cut to 750m. There were general mixed feelings on this. I myself had mixed feelings.. What bothered me most was the delayed start. At this stage it was about 6:40 and with a 30 min delay that meant standing about in the freezing cold and wind for nearly another hour. At this stage I was getting more worried.. I hadn't packed any additional clothing into either of my bags. The sun was starting to come up though, which was good as I didn't fancy swimming in the dark. The time passed slowly, but eventually we made our way down to the water. My age group was split into two sections based simply on the first across the mat. I was eager to go as soon as possible so pushed forward. Many weren't so eager and held back so it worked out OK. We watched the pros go of then went into the water. I dropped down to flush my suit and fill it with water.. something that usually takes your breath away with the shock of the cold, but the water was actually around the same temp as the air and it seemed OK. Finally the horn went and we were off.

The swim was tough enough. The waves were big enough to make it really difficult to get into any kind of good rhythm, and to make sure I ended up swallowing a lot of sea water... but on the whole it was OK. My first ever open water swim at Causeway Coast tri last year was about 10 times worse. In retrospect I am glad that swim was so bad.. as everything since has been fine. Even this swim which was considered a safety risk didn't really seem that bad and I exited the water feeling fresh and not overly exerted. It was slow though. There has been talk since that the swim was probably closer to 1km.. and as it took me just over 22 mins I would be inclined to believe this. This would be slow for me even to do 1km, but in rough conditions I think that is about right. Any time that I gained by having the swim cut short was rapidly lost in the massive transition. My T1 time was 7:40!!!!

I headed out on the bike and the conditions really were rough. It was cold, it was grey and it was raining heavily. I had opted to pack my prescription sunglasses into my bike bag and had checked in my normal glasses and it really wasnt a day for sunglasses! Despite the harsh conditions, I enjoyed the bike, as you can see from this photo, captured by the guys at Irish Triathlon.

The first 40 or so miles I had managed to sustain an average speed of over 20mph. I was really happy with this.. but the last section became really tough. The rain really started to drive down and a big headwind came along to really hammer us on the last section. There were quite a few accidents and crashes and I saw at least 2 ambulances out on the course. For the last 10km or so I started to harbour dark thoughts of DNF... the cold and wet had got right to my bones. My feet were numb blocks of ice and I couldn't feel my fingers, and it was getting tough to even get the bike up to 16mph on the flat due to the headwinds. Despite all this I managed to massively beat any of my previous times on the bike and came in at 2:56:54... easily beating my perfect race day bike target of 3 hours.. and a full 16 minutes faster than Groomsport two weeks previously. When I made it back to transition. I dismounted and ran the long bike area on numb stumps, buoyed by this time and kicking those dark thoughts out of my head. Others came in at the same time and we joked with one another about how numb we were. I racked my bike, ran out, grabbed my run bag and sat down to change shoes. The atmosphere in T2 was great despite the conditions and when I jokingly yelled out "can anyone feel their feet?" i got a resounding reply of "NO!!!" yelled by about 15 people at the same time. One guy happily shouted "I've got dry socks though.. I've been looking forward to these for the last 20k!"

I knew what he meant. I don't wear socks on the bike and my bike shoes had filled with puddles of water about 10km into the bike and had stayed that way the rest of the course.

I headed out on the run on my cold numb feet and just hoped like crazy that I would warm up.

The run course was really nice and the number of people on the course was amazing. It was 3 loops in and around Galway city and the atmosphere was fantastic. The supporters cheers helped keep the pain at bay, the buzz was great and the volunteers at the aid stations were amazing. The whole lot of them were so enthusiastic, cheering us on as they handed us water, coke and gels.

The run, for me, was good. I was solid and didn't walk, other than to knock back some coke and water in the aid stations. My overall pace was better than in the last race and I felt stronger and better. I had nailed the nutrition on the bike a lot better too and thus had more left in the thank for the run. The only thing that made the run really tough was a few sections where the wind was just incredible. On the sections where the headwind really kicked in, my pace was slowed massively. My pace dropped from around 8:150-8:30min miles to around a 9:30-9:45min mile. Overall this knocked a good few minutes off my overall time, though I still beat my time from Groomsport here too.

The final run up the finishers chute was AWESOME. The cheers of the supporters was incredible. Running along getting high-fived by the kids in the crowd was such a buzz.. and hearing Mike Reilly shout my name as I crossed the line was just brilliant. The volunteer at the finish put the medal round my neck and I was damn proud of myself.

Overall.. it was a TOUGH race.. but it was all the better for being tough. Despite the crazy conditions, I knocked lots of time off my previous bike times and even managed to knock almost a minute down off my run time in Groomsport which was my best time to date. Overall my finish time was 5:28:48. My dream time for the day was 5:30. The swim being cut short obviously means that I didnt do the full distance.. but the time lost in transition and the battle against the elements means that Im very happy to take this as definitely hitting my target.

Thats 3 half ironman distance races done in one season. Two of them done two weeks apart. PR's set and smashed. Thats a happy end to my 2011 tri-season.


Swim: 22:08
T1: 7:40
Bike: 2:56:54
T2: 6:06
Total: 5:28:48

Monday, 22 August 2011

Groomsport 2011 Half Iron

Yesterday I completed my second half-iron distance race of this season. I had done this race last year as my first. It was very tough and I was hoping that this time it would be easier. Realistically, I wasn’t sure what to expect though. My training has been a bit on and off and has seriously lacked in consistency or planning. On the positive side, when I have trained it’s been mostly good training and I’m not injured or hurting in any way.

This race was the first of a double A-race session, the second of which is another 70.3 in Galway in two weeks. So I had to pace this right. I couldn’t just go out and wreck myself and not be able to race again in two weeks.
As a result of this, I paced the race much more carefully. I took it easier on the swim and held back just a little on the bike. In honesty though I didn’t hold back THAT much.

I started the day by meeting up with Lisa and Greg which was great. It was nice to have some friends to hang out with pre-race. The atmosphere was good and everyone was in good form.

The swim was an uneventful 2 lap affair (yes.. 2 laps Greg) and I came out of the water in 34:42. This was a few minutes slower than last year (last year was 30:10) but I went harder last year and besides, I’ve only swum 5 times in the last 12 months, and 4 of those times were in races.
T1 was fine, a few seconds slower than last year, and I headed out on the bike.
On the bike I felt good. I got some food in and enjoyed it. I kept a stead 19 MPH average for the first lap, got passed by a few people with aero helmets on tri bikes and passed about as many as passed me. On the second lap… pretty much the same probably dropped to about an 18.5mph average (I think) and a few people passed me and I passed a few.
The third lap I clearly started to show that I haven’t been cycling enough. By then the field had spread out and I didn’t see many people for that whole lap. I started to tire and I just started to feel heavy and slow. There was more of a headwind and my speed dropped to around or below 17mph. this is where I really decided I needed to be smart and pace myself. That was the speed that I could do with the same effort level and when a few people passed me in the last 10 mile stretch, rather than push and stay with them I let them go. Last year in the race I was happy with my performance as it was my first, but I fell to pieces on the run having put too much into the swim and bike. This time I wanted to run better.

I got off the bike in 3:12:57 (slower than last years time of 3:09:32) and was also slower in T2. So.. at this stage I’ve already lost nearly 10 minutes off last years time. At the time I didn’t know this level of detail, but I had a fair idea I was a good bit slower. However I also knew that I was going to do the run better.
I set out running and felt ok.. My real target for this whole race was to run the whole run section (walking the aid stations to drink water doesn’t count). In both previous races I was forced into a run/walk strategy due to the pain and exhaustion… I didn’t want to do it in this race, and it worked. I ran the whole thing and only walked the aid stations. I aimed to keep a 9 min mile pace for the whole run. As I progressed I started modifying my goals a little. In addition to not walking, I also wanted to do a sub 2 hour run. Then, after a few miles, I realised that if I kept the 9 min mile pace going I could beat last years time by a few minutes.
The run was tough… but I managed it and hit my targets. I did the run in 1:56:34, an average pace of just under a 9 min mile. My finishing time was 5:50:28. A ten minute improvement over last year.

Last year I had really died on the run… so despite losing time on every other part of the race, I still managed a 10 min PB. Triathlon is a complex thing.. there are so many factors to consider, but it just shows, any weakness you have in any discipline really becomes apparent over longer distances. I am not really any stronger in any of the 3 disciplines than I was last year. I had a prolonged period of inactivity due to injury and since then have been sporadic in my training. All I really did on the day was pace better, have a better mental attitude and had the experience of 2 races of this distance under my belt. It really made a difference.
Today I’m walking easily and have not real aches and pains. I have some stiffness in the legs but overall I feel good and will be able to race in Galway in two weeks.

My friends Lisa and Greg did fantastically. Lisa did her first 70.3 and did it in the fantastic time of 6:35. Hugely impressive.
Greg is a machine and was finishing his tri-season, which included the full IM Lanza course, and he finished in the top 20 with a 5:20 race.
A great day all round.
Swim: 34:42
T1: 03:33
Bike: 03:12:57
T2: 02:45
Run: 01:56:34
Total: 05:50:28

Oh, and for anyone who has read this far, I am going to keep this blog going, but am posting much more on my Google plus profile. Feel free to add me on there.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Causeway coast triathlon 2011

Yesterday I did my first Olympic tri of the season. This was actually only my second Olympic ever.. and the second time doing this particular race. Last years race was pretty hectic. The sea was nuts.. lots of big waves and sharks. Seriously.. SHARKS. The swim nearly killed me and took an insanely long 43 mins.

I had been undecided about doing the race again, not because of last years conditions which were mental but enjoyable, but because it was only 2 weeks after my first half iron of the season and last year the half iron distance race screwed me up for a few weeks.

Well, the half iron passed and went well as mentioned in the last blog post and I recovered well. I was out on the bike 2 days after the race and actually did a 10 mile TT in just under 30 mins... and then went on to do a total of 19 miles. I also ran twice and did another hard bike session on my new bike.
Oh.. yeah.. I got a new bike.. but that warrants a blog post of its own so it will have to wait.

At this point I realised that I was totally fit for an eager to do the causeway race again. Sadly I had left it too long and registration had closed. Thankfully though the race director is a legend and I dropped him an email and he registered me no problem.
I threw in a few more hard bike workouts and some run speedwork then took a few days off to "taper"

Strictly speaking this is a joke.. I didn't taper, I had some work related travel that took up a few days and then I took one extra rest day :D

The day of the race arrived and despite being last to register, I was one of the first to arrive on race day morning. I met up with my good buddy Lisa and we hung out and chatted, registered, set up transition etc. Her race report is excellent and she WON HER AGE GROUP, so go read it)
The race itself was excellent. The sea was lovely, the swim was much easier than last years, which was clearly evidenced in my time. Last year it took me 43:35 mins.. this year it took me 24:29. Yeah... that's right.. 19 minutes faster. Crazy. And its not from training, cuz I haven't done any swim training.

The bike was good, pretty hilly and sadly on the downhill sections it was windy so I was a bit slower than last year. The bike leg took me 01:16:03. Average speed of 19.7mph this is decent for me but a few mins slower than last year (when I did it in 1:12:26.) This slowdown was partially the conditions, partially some annoying hip pain i developed for the last 8 miles or so but probably mostly due to the fact that last year this had been a bit of a priority race and not something that I did at the last minute two weeks after a half ironman and with 3 hard bike workouts in the short time between the two races. Considering all this I'm actually VERY happy with the time.
The run was OK too.. I haven't done a lot of speedwork and managed the 10k in 48:22. This is OK.. an average pace of 7:48 which is faster than Ive run for a while. Last year I actually did the run in 43:52.. but it was a shorter and easier run course, so again I am happy.

My overall race time was 02:33:52... which I'm very happy with indeed. Nearly a 10 min PR.

The only thing I'm not happy really about with this race was my transition times... it seems petty but T1 was 3 mins and T2 was 2 mins. 5 mins transition in an olympic is a lot, and for me its over 2 mins longer than I should have been, and indeed was last year. It came down to bad prep and not really thinking about what I was doing. Knowing this I know that I can easily shave this time down below two and half hours without too much work.

One thing I'm really happy with, as with the last race, is the swim. There were lots of much faster swimmers.. but the overall winner of the race only beat my by 1 min 45 secs on the swim. He beat my by 33 mins overall... hell I wasn't even close.. but it really shows me where I can make up lots of time and its really not one swim. Its EVERYTHING else :D

I should really learn to swim properly tho.. it would make sense.

Overall it was a great race and a great day out. As always, the organisers and the participants were a lovely bunch of people and the whole thing was a fantastic experience. Even the post race food was lovely and very plentiful. This is one race that I will really try and do every year if I can.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Eskragh Half Ironman

©Shane Molloy Photography

Saturday was the first triathlon of the season for me.
The approach to this race was a bit of a mental battle.
It was my first race since the broken wrist, my fitness levels still aren't where they need to be and on top of all that I developed some kind of random and inexplicable problem with my hip.. it hurt to walk. No idea why or how it happened.

In the month or so running up to the race I went through a variety of plans.
initially, due to the fact that I hadn't had a swim in about 8 months, I figured I would skip the swim and just do a long bike ride and run. However in the last few weeks I managed to get back in the pool twice. The first time was a 1500m session, the second was 3000m. So having concluded that I might manage the swim without drowning, I decided to give the whole thing a go. Then the hip problem kicked in. So I figured that I would try the swim, and maybe the bike and not run.

In the last few days coming up to the race I seriously considered just dropping it. However I got some great advice from my mate Iain, the nutter who calls himself a "lazy triathlete" but who qualified for and raced Kona last year :D
Iain's exact words were (and this warrants a direct cut and paste from the email)
Maybe do this weekends race but have it in your head that if the leg gets too bad you'll stop. That's what the Pro's do, Chris Lieto dropped out when he was leading IM Texas last week because he's carrying an injury. Jodie Swallow did the same in St George. They got in a solid swim & bike training session then put a few miles in their legs.

This made a lot of sense to me. I guess in a lot of ways I probably had a lot of psychological blocks against doing the race anyway.. First race back after a serious injury.. Is a half ironman too ambitious? Can I complete a half ironman with nowhere near enough training? etc etc etc...
Anyway.. I turned up on the morning pretty convinced that I wouldn't finish the race. I always try to set a series of goals, the biggest goal being the most achievable.
Normally my first goal is to finish...
For this race, my main goal for the day was to start.
My next goal was to finish the swim, then to finish the bike.
In honesty.. that was about it. I didn't really even expect to start the run.

So I turned up on race day and wasn't even really nervous. The field was STRONG. I mean.. you could tell by the bikes and the look of the folk who were there. It was a small race, around 40 entrants. Still though, everyone was very friendly and the organisers, "Tri-limits", are really nice guys. If you ever get a chance to do one of their races I highly recommend it.

The nerves kicked in a little when I stood and looked out at the lough. I've only done two open water races before, the causeway coast Olympic and my first half ironman at groomsport last year. In both cases the swim was 2 laps, which was nice as it gets you out of the water and gives you a few seconds rest from swimming. this was one lap, and looked LONG. A photo of the lough is at the end of this post. Still though, my aim was just to start, and there were lots of people out there to rescue me if i started to really struggle, so I racked up my bike and got myself ready to give it a go.

The swim turned out to be really nice. The water was warm and clear and as there weren't too many people it was pleasant. No one swimming over you, kicking you, punching you.. and no insane waves or tides. Just a nice little swim in a lough to start the day. In all honesty I think the swim distance was a bit short as I completed it in 25 mins and I'm NOT a great swimmer. the last 70.3 I did it in 30 mins and I hadn't done any training to explain any significant improvement, so I'm assuming it was short but am happy to have done it. I came out middle of the pack, took my time in T1 and set out on the bike.

©Shane Molloy Photography

The bike course was lovely. No real winds, nice rolling hills that weren't steep enough to really push you on the climbs but were steep enough to get well over 30mph on the descents. I actually really enjoyed the bike and felt good and strong for the first 46 miles. The last 10 had a bit of a headwind and a few too many hills which slowed me down a fair bit. However I still completed the distance in 3:06, a 3 minute improvement over my time in the Groomsport race last year which was a 3:09. Overall I felt better on the bike in this race too.

Now, to be honest, by this point my goals for the day started to change. I started the day giving myself about a 15% chance of finishing. However from about the halfway mark on the bike, I knew I had PRed the swim and was starting to think I might PR the bike. Despite the slowdown for the last 10 miles, I still finished pretty strong. The big challenge, of course, would be the run.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to run at all, and dreaded feeling anywhere near as bad as I did in the last 70.3... However when I racked the bike and set out on the run I actually felt OK. Nothing hurt and I was running at about an 8:30 pace. I forced myself to slow down and just kept going. It was a 4 lap course and I ran the first lap solidly. I walked the water stop, for about 10 seconds, then ran the second lap solidly again. From about mile 8 on I had to do a little bit of walking on each mile, but I had managed to avoid walking for the first 8 miles, whereas in the last race I had been walking from the start.

I finished the run in 2:08... an 11 minute improvement over the last time (2:19).

©Shane Molloy Photography

So.. I set out to start, and didn't think I'd finish. I ended up PRing every distance and running a much better race than last time. The swim may have been a bit short but the bike was fine with a small improvement there and the run was a massive improvement. My previous finish time was 6 hours. This one was 5:39. I'm very happy indeed with this.

Thanks to the guys at Tri-limits for putting on a great race and thanks to all the friendly participants who made it a really pleasant race. And a final thanks to the guy who actually recognised me from this blog.. which was great as I didn't realise anyone really read it ;) I was buzzing so much from finishing that I didn't catch your name so if you re reading this, drop me a comment...

Sorry this has been a bit of a long one... Thanks for reading :D

Not sure who took this, but I look a lot more laid back... found this pic on the Irish Triathlon website.

My own photo of the lough.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Back on form...

Finally I'm feeling really like I'm getting back on form.
This week I really kicked it back into tough.
Steph and Alexa are away to the states for a visit, so Im on holiday and being full time dad for 2 weeks. For the first few days though Zane was still in school so I took advantage of this and got some solid training in.
On Wednesday I started out with a 16 mile run that took 2.5 hours..
On thursday I knocked out my first half century bike ride of the year. 50 miles in 3 hours 10 minutes. Not gonna win any records for speed... but decent enough training and all zone 2.
Finally.. today, Friday... I finished off this 3 days of tough training with a self supported olympic distance triathlon...
First of all I got back in the pool for the first time in about 7 months. It was tough and I was slow but I managed the 1500m in 34:37... Not bad.
Then I drove home, and headed out on the bike. Which was an Awesome ride. Zone 2 all the way, felt great. Bit of a balls up at the end.. blew out both wheels.. Then blew out one of my two spare tubes when changing it.. had to ride last mile home on a flat back wheel.. time for changes isnt included :D Still managed the 25 miles in 1:31:17 (not including tyre changing time). Would have been better if it wasn't for the last mile on a flat.
Finally, I headed out on the run. The run itself was tough going.. but after these three days and as the first brick I've done in ages, this was to be expected. Still did it in 58:48 with an AP of 9:29.. so not bad overall! A decent 3 hours worth of training, which brings the week to a total of nearly 9 hours for the week in just 3 days.
Feels good. :D

Friday, 6 May 2011

Sort your Zones out...

Ive done quite a lot since my last blog post.. Training has been up and down. This blog post is a bit of a training tip though, rather than an update on my training.. and the focus is training zones.

Most people train with a heart rate monitor. If you don't, you should, go buy one.. I'll wait....

Got it?

OK.. good.

So.. Its one thing to have a heart rate monitor (HRM) but its another thing to actually use it correctly. In order to do so, you should actually train according to your heart rate. The key to doing this correctly is to discover your own heart rate zones. Now lots of websites and probably even your own HRM software will probably offer to do this for you based on your age. It may even be really fancy and ask you to determine your resting heart rate. This is very basic and there is a way better way to do things. The way to find your ideal training zones is to base your training on what your heart rate is when training. In order to do this you can do a lactate threshold test. I first heard about these things from Joe Friels book "The Triathletes training bible" and thankfully Joe as a blog post that explains both how to do a LT test and how to set your zones based on it. LT tests are tough. It basically involves you doing 30 mins running or cycling (you will need to do both.. at different times) to find out what your average heart rate is at lactate threshold.

I did a run LT test the other night for the first time in over a year. I'm glad I did as I discovered that my standard zone 2 heart rate was a bit better than i thought and my pace for zone 2 runs is a little better than I was aiming for.

Training according to heart rate makes sense. Its a way of gauging your pace and effort based on what your fitness levels allow and what you re capable of and what your body can do, rather than what you want to do or think you can do. Running based on heart rate and doing a lot of zone 2 training can reduce injuries and ultimately make you fitter and faster... So.... clear off and do a wee LT test. :D

Just to finish, and cuz I like pics in my blog posts.. here is a little pic of me, covered in mud at a recent adventure race/ mudrun i did recently...

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Woah.. its march already???

Training has picked up a bit over the last month..
Actually, having just checked back when I last blogged.. things have really picked up a lot.
Ive made it back out on the road on the bike.. twice now. On both occasions I went out on a Sunday morning and did a 30 miler. Both were tough.. wonderful Belfast conditions were in full force. The first week was windy as a wind tunnel, and it was hard going. The second time it looked like it was going to be a nice day.. so I went out in just shorts and a short sleeved cycle top and some arm warmers.. big mistake. It rained so heavily that for a while i couldn't see.. then it cleared up for a while, then there were hailstones. When i got home I was physically shaking with cold for about 20 mines. But it felt good to get out.
On both occasions my wrist ached like hell, and was sore for a few day after.. but I'll just have to get used to that. What the hell, its another reason to argue that I need a full carbon bike, right?
I managed to get in 200 miles of cycling in february with about 40 miles of running. This pretty much doubled my cycling and running mileage from January
Target for March is to try and get in about 300 miles biking and about 50 miles running.

I kicked that of tonight with my first run of the month and my first double digit run in about 6 months. Ive been focussed this last while on running slower, which has been a real necessity as im trying to get my mileage back up and the speed needs to be sacrificed to do so. I realised today while updating my outlook calender that my first race of the year is only two and half weeks away. The larne half marathon will kick off my 2011 season. Im not aiming for a PR.. im just aiming to get round the course and have a nice run. Im hoping to finish sub 2 hours... which is WAY off a PR.. but after the amount of time off and lost fitness that Ive had, it will be a good start to the year. The PRs can come later

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Looking up

Things have started to improve this month. While I'm still far from back on good form, I have undoubtedly started training again. Admittedly this entire month has had less hours training than a previous heavy week.. but its improving. Ive built up at a safe and semi-conservative pace. Ive pushed myself, but not too much, and I'm starting to see results. Ive shed some of the excess weight I picked up along the way and I'm abe to run and cycle (on the turbo) and enjoy it again. The first few runs this month were horrible. Truly unenjoyable and unpleasant. This week I managed a 5 mile run and enjoyed it. Then 2 days later did a 6 miler and enjoyed that too. Longest runs for 3 months, and the most enjoyable. Hopefully next week I'll be back to running an hour solid.

I'm also considering trying to go out on the bike on the road again. Possibly this Sunday morning. I'm nervous to do so, but Ive gotta shake off the fear and do it. Actually, in honesty, its not even fear. Its a complete lack of desire tempered with a touch of dread. I'm just hopeful that 2 Min's out on the road and my love of cycling will overpower it all and my problems will be solved. Fingers crossed for that.

Haven't considered swimming yet. Got a new tattoo a week a go so need to let that settle in for a few weeks before I can swim. I cant imagine how weird swimming is going to be. I'm hoping it will be OK though. Again, fingers crossed!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Turbo

I'm currently sitting on a train to Dublin, and this seems to be as good a time as any to write a quick blog update.

I was just following a conversation on Twitter there about turbo sessions, and found myself thinking, as I have on many occasions before, am I the only person in the world that actually likes using a turbo trainer?

I often hear people berate the trainer. It seems to be hated almost as much as the dreaded treadmill, or dreadmill as I personally call it.

I like the trainer. I do. Last night, for example. After we got the kids to bed, Steph and a friend of hers had gone out to a Zumba class, but got stuck in traffic, so they came home and decided to play the Dance Central game on the Xbox as a replacement. So guilt free I retired to the front room to hit the trainer. With the kids asleep and Steph busy, I didn't have to worry or feel guilty that I should be doing something else. The only worry was the downstairs neighbour, who has on one occasion, complained about the noise of the trainer. But it was only 8pm... so even that worry was appeased.

I turned on the fan, dimmed the lights, queued up a few tracks on the ipod and jumped on the bike for some intervals and had a good solid hour workout. Which I fully enjoyed.

Why do I enjoy it so much? Well... at 8pm at night in Belfast at this time of year, its dark. Cycling in the dark is OK.. but its not the safest thing in the world. Its also cold, so requires about 4 hours of getting ready to actually go outside. Finally.. and most importantly.. I can do completely focused training sessions. Last nights was intervals to build speed and power. When I cycle out on the road, I'm not really very good at this. I just happily cycle along and enjoy it.

Now at the moment, I'm not cycling on the road anyway. I still don't really have the strength or flexibility in my wrist, and I don't have the confidence either. This is not the issue though, last night was just a prime example of how enjoyable using the turbo can be. I got a really good hours training session in. My legs feel it this morning much more than an hour on the road would achieve.

Weirdly, the total opposite is true for running. I cannot run on a treadmill. Well, obviously technically I can, I just hate it. Id much rather be outside, regardless of the weather. Rain, wind, snow, whatever. I guess the turbo haters just feel the same way

Now, apart from the fact Id rather be outside.. I also have a bit of a rationale for this loving the turbo and hating the dreadmill thing. I think running outside makes you a much better runner. The wind, hills, fluctuations in the terrain etc are all good for the leg strength and stability in a way that running on a treadmill just wont achieve. Conversely.. If you use it right, I think the turbo can provide very significant gains for cycling. There are no downhills on the trainer. Provided you are using the right resistance and gearing, using the trainer should not be like cycling on the flat. Even a steady state spin should be a like a constant gradual incline. My average speed on the trainer is by default several mph slower than it is on the road.

Fair enough you can set a gradient on the treadmill, but its not the same. Maybe its just personal preference. If you love the treadmill, feel free to comment or drop me a mail !

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Back on track? Meh.

Another month has passed since last update.
Ive had to do a lot of thinking over the last few weeks.
Not doing any training for about 3 months now has resulted in me losing lot of fitness. Ive had to evaluate my plans for this year. 2011 was meant to be the year of my first Ironman. Ive had to reconsider this, I was struggling with this a lot and was very grateful to Phil Lavoie with whom I had a great chat over the whole issue. Phil is a phenomenal athlete who has clocked up some incredible times in the IM's that he has done.
My basic issue is that I don't really want my first Ironman to be a horrible experience. I don't want to be desperately trying to beat the cutoff and I don't want my first to be my last. In short, I don't want to go into the race not sure if I can finish.

So my plan this year is now to complete a few half Iron distances and get faster at them. The day I made this decision I signed up for the Galway 70.3 event. The first WTC event in Ireland.

Trying to get back to training has been a lot harder than I anticipated. While my wrist is recovering and is still pretty sore. My range of motion is terrible and i cant support any weight with my right arm. Ive put on a lot of weight and can feel it. being off over Christmas, eating too much and drinking a lot (partially for pain relief!) really didn't help.

I went for a 3 mile run last week and my legs hurt for days afterwards. I got some new shoes at the weekend and went for a 4 mile this week. In short.. it sucked. I hated every minute of it.

This saddened me greatly as I love to run, I really love it. I'm sure the love will come back, hopefully sooner rather than later.

As for cycling.. well, I spoke to the consultant about this last week and he said that if I really wanted too I could try and go out on the bike again but to be very careful due to the restricted range of motion and lack of strength. The truth is though, I dont want to. The accident has thrown me quite a lot psychologically and going back out on the road is kinda scary. I'll get over it, but I'm not even going to try until i get a bit more strength and flexibility in the arm.

I have, however, been back on the trainer and just finished my first hard trainer workout with intervals and some high intensity effort levels... and I feel pretty good.

Ive got some plans in mind for racing this year.. and over the next few weeks I will see how I feel and how the trainig goes and see how achievable they are. Hopefully now that I am back training again, I will be back to blogging a bit more often.