Tuesday, 30 December 2008

2008: My Training Review...

Reviewing is such an important part of making progress. It happens throughout your school life (remember those school reports you used to sneak a look at before you decided to deliver it to your parents), in most jobs it happens at least annually and for most athletes that take there training and competition seriously you will find yourself always reviewing. I find the end of season review a real motivational tool. The hope with every review is that you have progressed. In Ironman Triathlon the training is such a big part of the process, you are often only racing one IM a season that seeing training progress gives a sense of excitment and reinforces the thought that you are heading in the right direction.

I am good at reviewing my training diary (it is a regular read when taking a number two!) what I am also quite good at is establishing what I might need to change or aim for, short term or long term, however what I am not quite so good at is actually implementing those plans. To quote from No Limits, Michael Phelps;

'words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality'

I couldn't work out how to attach a table to the blog so have printed and photographed, hence the quality isn't great. In this post I am just going to review, I will make training plans in a future post.

Swimming:In 2007 I swam 1.06 at IMUK (probably a little short), this year I swam 1.09 at IM Switzerland. Those of you that know me know I get into the pool and the lake a few months before the race. I know I could swim faster, and I enjoy swimming but I think to swim significantly faster (say 5 to 10 minutes) would require swimming 2 or 3 times a week. My working day and family commitment really isn't conducive to that sort of commitment, plus the pools around here are not great. I think a big part to hitting those times and feeling comfortable in the water is the attention I pay to upper body weights.


I have taken some of the categories of review from Steven Lord, another IM triathlete who is training full time. I am pleased to have hit another 6000+ miles, two consistent years puts mileage in the bank. I don't think my cycling has advanced far but it has moved forward. When I entered IMUK I trained a 'little scared' in terms of riding 112 miles. I took every opportunity to ride long, I rode 5.50. However I was a little complacent in the build up to IM Switzerland knowing I could pull out a 112 mile ride, so I didn't ride enough long rides. I rode the bike on more days, but shorter rides, I rode a pleasing 5.30, although I'd set myself a more ambitious short 5 hour ride. My family circumstances also changed between UK and Switzerland. Prior to UK I had a 2 1/2 year old daughter and Sarah was pregnant. In the build up to Switzerland Ellie was 3 1/2, and Evie was heading to her 1st Birthday. Anyone with two children knows the change from 1 to 2 is dramatic. I didn't think it right to leave Sarah with both girls for longer than necessary so would get out for what should be a long ride only to cut it short. I also struggled a little to get excited about riding long, instead riding long because I had to. 'Having to' and 'wanting to' are very different things when faced with a 4 hour plus ride, its got to be 'wanting to'. I would ride up to 2 hours before work and up to 2 hours home (some days), great training days, but not the same as a single 3 to 4 hour ride.

I know I was in better shape than 5.30, but horrible riding conditions affected me. In both IM bike legs I have ridden conservatively for fear of blowing 'big style' on the run through lack a deep running conditioning. Watch this space for 2009. I have an ambitious IM Lanzarote bike split, and want no fear of blowing on the run!!!!


Both in 2007 and 2008 I did just enough running, at the right time. At UK I ran 4.01 (I think it was a tad short) and at Swiwitzerland I ran 4.16. I was very pleased with both run splits, but if I am to feel like I can race the bike, I need a much deeper base of running. Putting my running in context, I ran 1.30 at the Brass Monkey 1/2 marathon in January off the back of jack all run training. I can run well, but have yet to build a deep enough base of running. I need more run endurance to feel more comfortable when the marathon gets into the 3rd and 4th quarter. However 2008 has progressed in all but the biggest week, more 1, 2 and 3 hour weeks.

I have also analysed my training in the final 1/3rd of the year. This will give me some sort of guide as to how motivated I am and how I will start the New Year.


Not much difference here. Both 07 and 08 have similar ends to the year with one notable exception (apart from a great month of Sept 07) I have already started riding longer (3hrs +) At this time in the year this is very pleasing. What it does for me is remove the barrier that seeems to be quickly erected after you stop your focussed IM training a barrier which say's, '3+ hours on a bike is a long long time'. I am entering 2009 having removed the 3 hour barrier (infact I rode through 4 hours last week)


Now, I like the look of those numbers. How I ran 1.30 at the Brass Monkey 1/2 Marathon I do not know. I know I felt very good and could have had a perfect race, but looking at the numbers I shouldn't have managed it. However thanks in part to 'Mr Garmin 405', and a serious desire to run quicker, and to run more comfortably, I have hit the final 3rd of the year seriously. Apart from a little 'blip' in November where I lost the running plot for a couple of weeks, everything looks good. I have run more often and more hours. I have also run some harder interval sessions, and I ran 15 miles in 2 hours, at 8min/mile pace last Sunday. I should run quicker at the Brass Monkey, but that is not the goal. May 23rd in Lanzarote is where I want to be running quicker and stronger, after I have ridden the bike to my potential.

In summary I am really pleased with my training year. Quantity is dictacted by life circumstances. I would love to, and think I could log 200 miles a week on the bike, I would love to swim 3 times a week, I would love to run 3 or 4 times a week, I would love to be in the gym 3 times a week, however you have to be realistic. I only have a certain amount of time available. I can create a little more time by training early in the morning, or squeezing in a lunchtime run, (and I will no doubt do this on my big weeks) but to do it consistently is hard. I want to be a great Husband and Dad, so must leave some energy for my family. I also have to teach, coach and inspire the next generation (as well as earn a few dollars) I believe we have a limit to our energy reserves. I think it can be improved/ trained, but think it is also genetic. I liken it to sleep, some people can operate very effectively on 6 hours, some people cannot. I have trained very constistently. I have made a number of break throughs, a PB of 11.03.16 at IM Switzerland, a longest ride of 153 miles, I have completed 1000 miles of training in the month of May, I have removed a few psychological barriers like running on consecutive days, like running to work and home again, and I have put in place the foundations for a more consistent approach to my run training.

What I have done all year is enjoy myself. There are many tools for training well, an often under estimated tool is training friends. Unfortunately I don't get to train with mine as often as I'd like, but I get huge motivation and inspiration from chatting, texts and reading blog's. So thanks to Dad (206 miles in you're first 12 hour TT at 60 yrs young, awesome) Max, Tom, Helen, Ben and others who I have had the pleasure to train with and read about, keep it coming, it all helps. Finally to Sarah (much more than just my coach) Ellie and Evie, you guys are always with me when I train and race.

As it say's on my new art of tri Hoodie,

'One passion: Endless Training'

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Santa's been.......

I am frazzled!! A 4 year old, an 18 month old, a house full of new exciting presents and you have a receipe for a tired boy. Sarah is also part of my club, so much for sitting down watching some Christmas films in the evenings, more like crashing out and falling asleep! However I wouldn't have changed the last week for anything, it has been great.

On Christmas morning Ellie opened the lounge door to say 'Wow there's presents everywhere', then when she tried on her new dressing gown she said 'Oh that's so soft, Mummy feel it' Evie has been pushing her new baby and pram all over the house, and every morning still goes straight into the kitchen to where the advent calendar was, expecting a chocolate!

Although the girls got thoroughly spoilt by their Mummy, and two Grandma's Ellie was great on Christmas morning opening presents and looking at them all, then the rest of the day was spent playing.

We had a lovely walk, picnic and play in the woods on Boxing Day, which was really great. We really enjoy the times we go out for picnic's and walks, the distraction of home is removed for a few hours and we just enjoy each others company.

I got a couple of great books from Santa, 'No Limits' Michael Phelps, is proving to be a really good read, I am sure I will share some of it in future posts. I have trained well around Christmas, and my new heart rate strap accessory for my Garmin 405 means there's now no place to hide.

Monday: Weights; Upper Body Circuit (45 mins)

Tuesday: am Bike; 70 miles (4 hrs), pm Run; 5 miles technical (45 mins)

Wednesday: am Run 10 miles 7.45min/mile pace, weights Upper Body Circuit (30 mins)

Thursday, Friday Rest Days

Saturday: Bike; 20 miles (1 hour) including 4 x 4 mins Hill Repetitions, Weights Upper Body + Legs.

Sunday: Run; 15 miles (2 hours) 8 min/mile pace

I love training and exercise, it's part of my life. Whether it's weights, running, cycling, swimming or any other sport is doesn't really matter, whether it's my Birthday, Christmas Day or New Year's Day it doesn't really matter, it's what makes me tick. I have had a great week, I've spent lots of time with my amazing wife and girls and have also managed to do some of the activities I enjoy.

Sarah's Christmas card to me had the following printed on it,

'spending time together is what I like to do, going out or staying in I love just being with you...I think you're really smashing, and I'm hoping this will be...your happiest, jolliest Christmas - with lots of love from me!'

it certainly has been xxx

Monday, 22 December 2008

Mr Hyde...and Merry Christmas....

I should really let Sarah write this opening paragraph, but I am not going to, so instead I have been warned that my presents will be returned if I don't explain why for 4 days last week I became Mr Hyde from 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'.

I didn't assume all of Mr Hyde's characteristics, just his sudden change in personality, his long arms dragging his knuckles and his feeling sorry for himself. After a fabulous weekend spent with Sarah, the bubble exploded on Monday morning, when Sarah woke up with the sickness/poo bug that is doing the rounds. This lasted 36hrs, then she replaced it with the flu/cold/ cough for the rest of the week. What I failed miserably to do was behave like a caring husband, instead I became Mr Hyde and felt really sorry for myself. I was fed up that my first week of holiday and a chance to spend some quality time with Sarah had been stopped in its tracks. I had promised that during my holiday I'd stay up late, we'd watch some movies and generally spend more time together, instead Sarah was in bed by 8pm (if she even surfaced) I was eating alone and as a result I was feeling pretty fed up. I know, I know Sarah had all the rights to being fed up, not me, but I was. I guess I don't deal with illness very well, I also (very selfishly) absolutely did not want to get the illness. So sorry darling, I should have been there for you last week not moping around, auditioning for the part of Mr Hyde xxxxxxxxx

Mr Hyde did however manage to get some decent training in...

Monday: (am) Run 8 mile (1 hour), (pm) Weights upper body superset (45 mins)

Tuesday: Bike 52 miles (3 hour)

Wednesday: (pm) Run 3 mile TT 19.59 min, (pm) Weights upperbody superset (30 mins)
Thursday: (am) Bike 52 miles (3 hour) incl 5 x 1 mile hill reps overgeared seated, (pm) Run 5 mile technical (45 mins)

Friday/ Saturday: Rest Days
Sunday: Run 6.5 mile Steady pace 8 min/mile

Run Off road Interval Session 6 x 900m (2 min recovery) HARD pace, 6.42 to 6.49 min/mile

Total: Bike 100 miles (6 hrs), Run 29 miles (4 hrs) Weights (1 3/4 hrs) = 11 1/4 hrs.

'Ellie Helping build the fire'

We travelled down to see my Mum and Dad on Friday and were joined by Max and Rachael for the weekend. My brother has really bucked his training ideas up after a lean couple of years and he is now on track to regaining his fitness and performance. He completed for GB in 2000 in Calais in the World Duathlon Championships, and should be aiming to hit that sort of level in 2009/10. I really enjoyed Sunday's session with Max and my Dad. Dad helps coach all the sport at Swanbourne House School, and has recently developed a 900m cross country course traversing the hill side on one of the lower fields at the school. It is a challenging course where you run down the hill then across the bottom, you then begin traversing the slope making your way back up to the start. He has a PB of 3.45 and the course PB is 3.26. Dad didn't join us for the interval session but ran 7 steady laps, great stuff, (hope to race alongside you at some of the 09 Duathlons)

'Evie helping to stock up the bird feeders'

Max hit the first interval hard and put 10 seconds into me!! Nothing like some sibling rivalry to motivate you. Whilst strictly speaking we weren't racing.......................but I won the next 5 intervals! time for each interval was 3.49, 3.48, 3.48, 3.48, 3.49, 3.47, 3.44, all around 6.40min/mile pace. We made each other work hard and after a 6.5 mile warm up it was the sort of session where you really push through, both running effort and training boundaries. It was good to run hard and not have a performance drop off. On the way home in the car we agreed that you wouldn't normally do a 6.5 mile steady run before a 4.5 mile hard interval session, however it is possible and it pushes ones perceived training boundaries, it also helps build physical and mental strength. (I remember reading on Gordo's Blog how he finished a 100 mile + bike day then did tyre pull sprints, awesome)

Sunday was like Christmas Day (without the presents) after the run I ate like a King, and crashed out by the fire whilst Ellie and Evie raced around making everybody dizzy and worn out just watching them.

'Ellie in her Nursery Christmas Show costume'

We had a great weekend with Mum, Dad, Max and Rachael, and Ellie and Evie were delightful. Ellie is so excited about Christmas, its gonna be fun. Evie is really changing from a baby into a little girl, she loves her sister and runs after her copying everything she does. She is really starting to understand so much more and in her own way communicate back, yet she still needs a Daddy cuddle.

Christmas is just a few days away, have a great one, enjoy yourselves, Merry Christmas folks.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Happy Day's

What a fabulous week, in fact more like 10 days. I didn't write last week because I was way too tired following the 1st XV Rugby tour to Dublin. As some of you are aware it's been a challenging season coaching the school's 1st XV. Throughout the season the boys have shown potential but injuries, poor performances and inconsistent effort levels from all the players at various times have defined the Rugby Term. Travelling to Dublin we weren't sure what to expect (well except for plenty of Guinness and a warm reception from the rugby clubs) in terms of how we would match up against our opposition. To summarise a fabulous weekend we beat Greystones RFC U16 team 7-3, and then beat Unidare RFC U18's 22 - 7. Two challenging matches and two wins, the boys were great, and proved to themselves that if everybody gives 100% they are in fact a useful team. We returned to school like hero's and I have decided to have just 6 fixtures next season, 2 in Ireland, 2 in Wales and 2 in Scotland!!

Wednesday evening was spent in Leeds with my friend Tom eating some good food, chatting about life and his soon to occur wedding. Tom and I share similar views on many topics and it was great to catch up.

Thursday evening I continued the eating theme with what was supposed to be an end of term meal and a few beers with some of my work mates. They 'were' my work mates, however numerous no shows left me and the junior school sports teacher enjoying a table for 2 and a set Chinese meal for 2. Mates they no longer are! However there were laughs a plenty among many of my other colleagues the following day.

The last week of the school term is always quite challenging. Most pupils have decided lessons should be replaced by games and fun activities, Santa hats start to become the norm, some teachers appear to have already finished, whilst some race around completing last minute jobs. This year I fell into the latter category, but seemed to be adding to my TO DO list, not actually ticking things off. However come Friday it was all completed and I could look forward to a 3 week holiday, get in there!!

The weather this week has been very cold. My morning rides to work have been quite treacherous, however I have managed to get a few miles in. I got out in the sunshine for a steady 2 1/2 hours on Thursday afternoon, logging a few bonus miles during a fairly sporadic few weeks of training.

The week got even better as Sarah and I headed into the Yorkshire Dales to celebrate Tom and Helen's wedding. My Mum had come up to look after Ellie and Evie (thanks Mum we really appreciate the opportunity to get away every now and again) Not only were we excited about sharing Tom and Helen's special day but also the opportunity for Sarah and I to spend some quality time together. We checked into our B&B and returned to the pub to sit in front of the fire and enjoy a pint. Saturday was fabulous, it was a really special day filled with excitement, laughs, smiling faces and emotion all wrapped up in much happiness. Everything about the day was great. The pre-wedding run with Tom and a few other triathlete friends kick started the day. It was a fabulous wedding, the location, the ceremony, the food, the speeches, the dress and suits, the music, the dancing and the fire works, but what really makes these sort of occasions special are the people. What a great crowd, really genuine, honest, interesting, fun people who I loved spending the day with. Although I have only known Tom and Helen for a short time they are great people who I am sure will be our friends for a long, long time. Feeling very happy and with a big smile on my face I curled up with my wife, who I'd re-married earlier in the evening with a Haribo Jelly Ring, for a happy nights sleep.

Waking up to a crisp, clear day I enjoyed a 5 mile run with Martin Yelling who I'd met at the wedding, this cleared a slightly fuzzy head and set me up for a good day, (have you ever felt worse when you finished a run?......thought not). Sarah and I decided to make the most of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and headed to Bolton Abbey. A relaxing walk through the woods along the River Stridd worked up an appetite for a nice lunch in the Abbey Resturant.

We returned home to be greeted by two smiling, excited girls, who wanted to tell us everything they had been doing with Grandma, sounds and looks like they had a good one.

As I write, Chris Hoy has just been awarded 'Sports Personality of the Year', the GB Cycling Team have won 'Team of the Year' and Dave Brailsford 'Coach of the Year', thoroughly deserved. That completes a very enjoyable week. With Christmas just around the corner, lots of time to spend with my family and a bit more flexibility to train I really think I will enjoy the next few weeks.

I will leave you with this quote about enjoyment, have a great week;

"It is essential to our well-being, and to our lives, that we play and enjoy life. Every single day do something that makes your heart sing". Marcia Wieder

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Rain, snow, wind, ice and Billy

Well it looks like Winter is here. With the arrival of Winter my immune system is working overtime. I'm winning the fight, just.....but my throat is really not liking the cold. After a couple of solid weeks my motivation has gone into temporarily hibernation. Motivation is a funny old thing, where does it go? One week I've got bags of the stuff, next week I'm trawling ebay to find a bargin bucket of the stuff! If I'm being honest I am not firing on all cylinders, and am looking for excuses to avoid running, phone calls at work to make, emails to check and bike upgrades to plan. I've indicated in past posts that my opportunity to run is a little limited, I have 50 minutes at lunch time, and on week day evenings I can usually get out once the girls are in bed at 7.30pm. When its light, warm and sunny both opportunities are sufficient, however cold, icy, windy and pitch black, after a long day at work and an evening getting the girls to bed, I am currently finding tough (the last few evening's I have fallen asleep on Ellie's bed whilst reading her a story) I am really looking forward to my Christmas break where I will get a few more opportunities to run in the day light. Spring seems a long way off, but it will soon be the shortest day and then rock and roll, more day light and all those climatic conditions that the Aussies take for granted and we crave.

On Saturday Sarah and I went south to see Billy Elliot. I know London has much to offer and so much to see, but when you live in a small village, near a small town in a rural location the number of people, pace of life and cues is frightening. I think the only way to attack London is with a 'get in, get it done and get out approach'

Travelling on public transport was predictably frustrating, but after a dash from Kings Cross to the Victoria Theatre we just made it. It was certainly worth it. Billy Elliot was a great show. I like going to the theatre but some shows are a bit samey for me, usually too much singing. Well you wally you've gone to a musical what do you expect!!! Billy Elliot however was great, singing, dancing, spoken word and acting. It's a great story, I'm sure you've seen the film and on stage it was fab. Miners vs Police, Cigarette smoking Geordie Middle Class Ballet teacher teaching her girls and Billy dancing around caught up in the middle of it, wanting to pursue his dream. It was an emotional afternoon. The story line is a powerful one. Billy's Mum appearing as a ghost as Billy read's out the letter she left for him for his 18th Birthday, Dad crossing the picket line whilst his angry son shows defiance and is willing to tear the family apart and Billy's families reaction when they find out he's been dancing not boxing.

I think the most powerful factor of the show is Billy. I guess he was between 11 and 13 years old. To see somebody so young dominate the stage and have the audience in his hands is amazing. There was such juvenile excitement radiating from him, yet his maturity handling the occasion and story line was great to see.

If you want to see a show I would thoroughly recommend Billy Elliot.

I will leave you with a quote from a 4 year old girl whose excitement for Christmas is building; Ellie was showing me her advent calendar telling me which one she was opening tomorrow;

"Daddy tomorrow it's the one with the leaf's and strawberries"

So this Christmas make sure you have got plenty of Leaf's and Strawberries and Mistletoe decorating your house!!!!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

While the cats away the mice will train.........

When Sarah had Ellie she was very fortunate to become friends with some really nice Mum's who had all just had their first babies. Now the first babies are all 4 years old and for some number 2 has come along. Each year Sarah, the Mum's and the kids head down to Sherwood Pines where they hire a couple of log cabins and have a weekend away. The highlight of the weekend is a visit to Adventure Land to drop off their letters to Santa Clause (Ellie delivered my letter.......Cervelo P3, Zipp Wheels, Power Tap) This left me with a very quiet weekend, and whilst I miss my girls the break is much appreciated.

I think sometimes I underestimate the draining effect two young girls can have on ones energy reserves. After work I usually come home (actually I always come home) and as Sarah starts her music teaching I take over bath time and bed time duties. If all goes to plan, reading stories, doing jigsaws, drawing and generally having some fun usually finishes by 7.30pm. I can then start to think about some food and chilling out for the evening. My power pack is usually pretty empty around 10pm, zzzzzzzzzz. However on Friday I came home to an empty house, for a moment I was lost. I got some food and wondered what to do. A nice leisurely evening followed. At 10.30pm expecting to see my energy nearing zero I was most surprised to see it still plenty full!! What to do? I was in no man's land, like a fish out of water, like the Wales Rugby Team leading the mighty All Blacks, I was lost. Out came the hoover, whizzed over the lounge, and then still full of energy I got showered, dressed and went clubbing.......Only joking Sarah, I brushed my teeth and went to bed!!! The point is I had energy to play with. I absolutely love having a family, but boy do they zap your energy.....

I have kept to my promise and thrown in a nice balanced training week, and with a couple of extra training days to play with have put in a few more hours. Being a PE teacher my days are quite active. I don't usually consider Rugby Training session's and refereeing as training however my job certainly adds to my weekly training load. This has definitely been the case this week. I have refereed two rugby matches, played a lively 20 minutes of 6 aside football, the staff gave the Year 11's (16 year old's in old money) a lesson in 'total football' 11 - 2!!!! and a 30 minute Rugby session with the juniors (10 year old's) where I played scrum half (I was awesome!!) So my week looks like this;

Monday: Bike 1 hour

Tuesday: Bike 1 hour (20 mins over geared), Run 30 minutes (8.13 min/mile)

Wednesday: Bike 1 hour, Refereed 1st XV 1 hour

Thursday: Bike 1 hour, Run 1 hour 20 mins 10 miles (7.54 min/mile)

Friday: Bike 1 hour, 20 mins 6 aside Football, 30 mins Rugby

Saturday: Run 45 min Run (technical session), Refereed Rugby 1 hour, Bike 1 hour

Sunday: Bike 3 1/4 hours (55 miles), Upper Body Dumbell Weights Circuit 30 mins

Total: Bike 9 1/4 hours (175 miles), Run 2 1/2 hours (19 miles), Weights 1/2 hour, refereeing etc 3 hours, Total 15 1/4 hours.

I've had some good sessions this week, but I am particularly pleased with Thursdays run. With an hour's cycle in my legs I ran nice and steady, aiming to run a negative split (staying steady not racing the last 5). This I achieved, running the last 5 miles in 7.34, 7.46, 7.43, 7.32 and 7.48 all a little quicker than any of the first 5 miles. Sunday's ride was also very positive. Waking up to a sprinkling of snow and a very grey day it would have been very easy to wimp out. However dressed for the arctic I 'chilled' for the first hour then the sun came out, and I had a good ride, finishing off with 10 minutes over geared in the 55 x 13. To have hit another pretty big week of cycling is also very pleasing, in the last 14 days I have ridden on 13 of them, and logged 345 miles, nice...

I managed to watch most of the Rugby on Saturday, (must have spent 4 hours on the sofa, unheard of) Here is my summary. Ireland vs Argentina, whilst Ireland deserved their win, I was a little staggered at some of the players reaction to some of the referee's decisions. Is respect slipping in Rugby? It will never reach the depths of Football but I was surprised to see the referee taking and accepting so much from both teams, Where has the 10m rule gone for arguing and descent. Ironically as the BBC announced Ronan O'Gara as 'Man of the Match' he was seen running back after a successful penalty attempt giving the Argentine Players a linguistics course in obscenities, great example Ronan, just get on with the game you are on the winning team.

What about Wales starring out the All Blacks, great TV viewing, but maybe a little unnecessary. It reminded me of a boxing weigh in. I was willing the All Blacks to start the game, kicking long (unfortunately it wasn't their kick) As with all actions, gestures and talk it means 'jack shite' if you cannot deliver on the pitch. Wales performed really well for 40 minutes, however where were they in the second half? Jeremy Guscott summed it up nicely when he said, Wales were 'hoping' they could hang on to the lead they did not 'believe' they could win.

I did not see Scotland mash the Canadian's, so finally England. Oh dear, oh dear I wonder whether Martin Johnson wished he had bought a nice warm scarf and joined Mr Dallaglio on the BBC commentary team? Building a new team is not an easy process, but I liken it to starting triathlon training after a long lay off. You wouldn't start your training with brick sessions, transition practise, complicated repetitions on the track and difficult cycling hill repeats, you'd just get out there go for a run, ride your bike and swim in the pool, you'd build your fitness, enjoy the process and feel good about yourself. Last week we witnessed repetition of long complicated line out moves that failed, this week there were times when I lost where the ball was there were so many dummy runners, then when the camera did pick it up it had moved at great speed side ways. The players in the England set up are good players, (except Toby Flood, I'm sorry I think he is out of his depth, he doesn't even look like a Rugby Player) but they need to find some cohesion and confidence. Cohesion and confidence comes when you do things that you can do, ie simple forward running rugby with pace and power, it comes when individuals have belief in their team mates (if I was part of the England Pack, at 75kg's quite unlikely! I'd be pretty worried every time Cipriani steadied himself to kick in open play) I think the coaching staff have got things wrong. What is the point fine tuning an F1 car if the wheels keep coming off? Players need to 'bed in', they need to feel good about themselves, do simple things but be awesome doing those simple things, we can then start fine tuning. Next Saturday should be fun. An All Blacks team out to prove a point vs an England team unsure of what to do, lacking a leader and pretty low on confidence. We will see what happens, sport is rarely predictable.

Next week will be a steady one. We have plans for the weekend, drop the girls off at my Brother and his Wife's house in Liverpool, and with no Saturday rugby Sarah and I are London bound to see a show 'Billy Elliott', and spend some quality time together. I can't wait. Do not hope things will happen this week, believe they will happen and even better, make them happen.....

Saturday, 15 November 2008

That's more like it.......

I'm not going to write much this week. I'm gonna keep it short and sweet, with a simple message. After a disappointing last week where I really didn't get close to my training objective, and just seemed to be going up and down, this week has been good. I didn't really set any objectives this week, wanting to confirm I was better, and also to get to Thursday when I planned to ride longer, not feeling smashed. So my week developed and looked like this;

Monday 1 hour bike (1/2 hour to work, 1/2 hour home) (20 miles)

Tuesday 1 hour bike (20 miles)

Wednesday 1 hour bike (20 miles)

Thursday 1/2 hour bike (10 miles), 2 1/2 hours bike (42 miles)

Friday 1/2 hour bike (10 miles)

Saturday 2 3/4 hours bike (48 miles)

Total 9 1/4 hours bike (170 miles)

I know, I know I am supposed to be a triathlete, and you ask where is the weights, swimming and run training? Well my swim story is for another day, and my running? I just haven't managed to squeeze any into a busy week at work, the dark cold nights have mucked up my evening motivation to run, and my Tuesday Lunch Run Club was knocked on the head for a steadier start to the week. I will aim for a little more balance next week, I promise.

I had a typically wet and windy ride on Thursday (keep an eye out for how often its wet and windy on Thursday afternoons!!!!!) I rode really steady and was pleased how I finished the ride. A comfortable 142bpm heart rate for an average speed of 17mph, not gonna break into any Pro Teams at that speed, but a good 2 1/2 hours of pedalling in windy, wet conditions with a few hills thrown in for good measure.

I wouldn't normally ride on the weekend, wanting to spend time with my girls, but Sarah had arranged an afternoon of play for Ellie with her friend, so after the School Rugby Matches I thought I'd make the most of the sunny mild weather and get a few more miles in. I rode nice and steady, a little over geared at times into the wind, 55 x 13..........(only joking, 55 x 19 is more like it) On the biggest hill (It's not very big, only about 5 minutes of climbing) I did 4 hill repeats. I rode these steady rather than as a hard interval session. On the way down the hill I dropped it into the 55 x 13 and pedalled all the way down. I also really concentrated on cornering confidently, and fast. I am also deliberately riding with less food than in past winters, not because of the economic struggle but to hopefully facilitate greater fat utilisation. As expected towards the end of the ride I was running a bit short of energy, but finished off quite strongly.

I managed to watch as much of the Rugby as I could. What should have been an exhilarating afternoon of Rugby was a bit anti-climatic, none of it was particularly impressive. Ireland massively under formed, New Zealand made hard work scoring points, England looked young, and I thought lacked any 'on the pitch' leadership, and Australia did little more than kick penalties and defend with raw power. However one moment defined the afternoon, the New Zealand Haka. I have no doubt that the Haka not only upsets the opposition, but more importantly increases the New Zealand player's focus, arousal, determination, and team cohesion. I also think the simple Black Shirt, Shorts and Socks defines the team. To me New Zealand are the best rugby team in the world. They play a simple rugby game, but whenever they do anything it is done with more power, aggression, speed, desire and intensity than any of the other teams. Next weekend watch their body language, playing as an 'All Black' is clearly HUGE.

My simple message, "whenever you do something this week think of the Haka, and make your performance huge"

p.s my 1st XV won their first game of the season, not a great performance, but we'll take the win, I may keep my coaching job after all!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Up and Down....

I've been lacking inspiration for the last couple of weeks for what to write, this week is no exception. So I'm going to write about 'up and down'.....

On Monday evening I was really 'Up'. I completed my usual ride to work and on the way home extended the route to give me 1 hour return journey, a nice 1 1/2 hours on day 1. I had set myself a 10 hour cycling target for the week, I was on my way.

Tuesday morning up a little earlier and ready to repeat the 1 hour journey to work. Opened the garage to find a puncture to my fixed wheel bike, shite... quickly swapped some lights over to road bike. Went from being 'up', to 'down' to 'up' in the space of a few minutes. If you are like me a little exercise/ training in the morning wakes me up, wakes up my mind and gets me ready for the day (I wish more of my lazy colleges could find the motivation to get going physically, I'm convinced our working environment would be more productive and fun) My lunch time run club has grown again to 6 members. I thought we'd do some slightly longer intervals. 2 laps of a the Rugby pitch was 0.4miles according to Captain Garmin. We decided on a 2 minute recovery, and completed 4 repetitions, running speed was around 6 minute mile pace...nice session. I rode home and logged another 1 1/2 hours on the bike.

On Wednesday my 1st XV were absolutely dreadful. We were really 'up' after Saturday's fixture where we narrowly missed our first win of the season, final score Read 22 - Worksop 3rd's 31 (We had a fantastic 2nd half winning it 17 - 6) Wednesday's match was a bit of a mis-match but not giving 100% and trying your best is inexcusable. Wednesday late afternoon I was pretty 'down' . My mood improved as I logged an hour on the bike, and ran a really steady technical 4 miler in the evening. My training week was looking good, I was really 'up'....

Thursday rode in to work, lucked out with an extra free period as my Badminton Class were away for the day Orienteering...Without further delay I got changed and out on my weekly long ride. I had planned a nice steady 3 1/2 hours. Within the first 10 minutes I realised that was looking unlikely. I wanted to ride steady, which for me is a heart rate of 140 to 145bpm, I couldn't get out of the high 120's even if I made an effort, I added to that a pair of heavy legs. There was only one sensible decision, ride home the shortest route and chill out. However the mind was right 'up' for a big session, "my big bike week will be ruined" "I'll never hit 10 hours" "this is my only opportunity in the week to ride long" etc, etc. But ride home I did, a long hot bath and a few hours on the sofa I was 'down'. Trouble at night controlling my body temperature (excessive sweating, Mmmmmh, really nice for Sarah!!!) and the low heart rate suggested my body was still ridding itself from the infection, virus, small pox, yellow fever type disease I had picked up a week ago.. now I was 'down' A quick call to Tom, reinforced what I was trying to tell myself. "It's only November", "I'm 'up' on this time last year", "If you need to rest take it", "better to be resting now than in April" etc, etc. Most of us know it's the right thing to do, and we all know it won't last for ever, but we all need reassurance from a trusted friend, cheers Tom. Now I was a little more 'up'

On Friday I took the car to work, a day with no training or exercise, should be 'down', but I'd sorted my head out, a surprisingly 'up' day. Watched "The Streets 2" DVD with Sarah, wish I could Dance, (Sarah insisted we practise our 1st Dance before our Wedding Day, so I wouldn't embarrass her with my high tempo bouncing)

Saturday and the 1st XV should have been really 'up'. We were playing a small independent school, very similar to us, no excuses of more players to select from etc, etc. For whatever reason we couldn't get 'up' and were even worse than Wednesday, a heavy 56 - 0 loss. We were very, very poor. If we were a Football Team, as the manager I'd be unemployed. I'm a little lost for things to say to the boys, at the end of the day, only they can run, tackle, pass, kick and make the right decisions at the right times. I feel I have adequately equipped them with the tools, but it's just not coming from them. Not much time to be 'down', as we have friends coming for food and a few fireworks.

Had a really 'up' afternoon and evening with our friends 'Ironman' Martin (Switzerland 2008), Jo, and their boys Jem and Charlie. Ellie loved playing with the boys and it was great to catch up with Martin and Jo. Unfortunately little Evie didn't like the fireworks, her own screaming added to that from the "singing piranha" and "screaming peacock"......

Sunday was a family day, I ended the week on the 'up'. I had taken 3 rest days, was feeling less tired and seemed to have my sweating more under control. We had a sofa afternoon having brought a Family DVD "Flushed Away", Ellie devoured the pop corn, jelly sweets and marshmallows and then after an hour said,

"can I go and do something fun now"

She does say some funny things.....

I finished the week with 4 1/2 hours on the bike, and 2 good runs, from a training perspective I was 'down', I didn't get close to my weeks training objective, so was 'down'. My rugby team were really 'down'. But these are only the little things in my life. The things that really matter, Family and Friends, all lifted me 'up'.

I think its tough to be 'up' all the time. Don't misinterpret this weeks post, when I use the word 'down' it's because its the opposite to 'up' , it isn't really an accurate descriptor of my mood state. In the grand scale of things I was never really 'down', just not as 'up' as I'd planned to be, or hoped to be. I'll leave you with a quote from Gordo's website http://www.gordoworld.com/

"Do not take life so seriously - no one will make it out alive"

Here's to a week of 'ups' for you all....... (If you haven't experienced the 'up' and 'down' of an assisted trampoline you really must, they are fantastic!!!!)

Monday, 3 November 2008

Run Week....

I'm a day late writing this weeks post, why? well yesterday I was tucked up in bed at 8pm, so I didn't get the chance to write. Following a fun (but rather late) Halloween Party on the Saturday night, and a 3.45am interruption from Evie, and an early wake up call from Ellie, Sunday afternoon became a matter of survival! No sooner than the girls had gone to bed me and Sarah followed. We had a fun fancy dress Halloween Dinner Party on Saturday, I went as a Mummy. Try explaining that to your 4 year old, "daddy is dressing up as a Mummy?" Ellie wanted to know if I needed a wheel chair or to go to the hospital after I got all the bandages on, cute! My body clock seems to tick until 10.30pm then it stops, doesn't matter whether it's Friday night, Saturday night or a rather important late night party, doesn't matter if I'm in a club (can't remember the last time that happened!) at a concert, at the cinema or on the sofa watching a film, 10.30pm BODY SHUT DOWN! In the late evening I am officially Rubbish!!!!

This week I had put a run focus on my training. I wanted to complete 4 or 5 runs and make my Thursday afternoon session (I only work 1/2 day) into a run rather than a long bike ride. I still rode my bike to work and home on 6 days so I guess thats 12 x 30 minutes of riding, or 60 minutes each day, or 120 miles over the week. My riding is really my mode of transport and as such I often don't see it as training. However, I have to remind myself that although it is only a 30 minute journey it is time on the bike, at an elevated heart rate, this deffinately has a training effect. So my running for the week is as follows;

Tuesday; 4 miles at 7.30min/mile
Wednesday; 6 miles at 7.37min/mile, but with a faster penultimate mile at 7.08min/mile
Thursday; 10 miles at 8.01min/mile
Saturday; 5 miles at 8.06min/mile, (this is my technical run that I am trying to do weekly, where my focus is on form and cadence)

Total 25 miles; 3 1/4 hours

Now for many runners and 'triathletes that like to run' this is a very normal running week, however for me it is a very good running week. Putting it in perspective, this time last year throughout October and November I managed to run 3 1/2 hours! Last week was a significant step towards my aim of running to my potential in 2009. I am now running with my Garmin 405. I am finding running with the 405 really motivational. At the moment I am getting a feel for my running pace, but even just using it as a training review tool, it makes me focus on each mile. I have it set to 1 mile lap splits. This gives much more focus to the run, every mile it shows your pace, whether are you on target pace, faster than or slower than it doesn't matter, what happens is it makes you adjust and focus on the next mile. In the next couple of weeks I will use it much more as a training tool and set out to run with a specific pace or session in mind.

I welcome my friends Tom and Helen back into the world of training following their month of rest during October. With Tom and Helen back in the training routine I have gained another motivational tool, come on guys bring it on.

Next week is a Bike focus week. My aim is to do 11 hours (200 miles) on the bike. I will see you in 7 days......

Sunday, 26 October 2008

A Week of Two Halves

It's been a week of two halves, defined unfortunately by my health. On Monday I got out for 1 1/2 hours on the bike, riding nice and steady, trying to stay below a heart rate of 145bpm. A good session. That evening I ran a nice steady 4 mile's. Tuesday I got out in the sunshine for 3 hours. I rode a route with a few climbs in it, repeated a small circuit a number of times to increase the overall climbing. It was a tough day, very windy. If you haven't ridden in the Vale of York come and give it a go. It is very flat, there are no hedges bordering any of the farmers fields, and any wind always seems like a hurricane. It's tough riding, theres no free-wheeling, and at times you can be doing 11mph (on the flat) in 39 x 19. When I first moved across from Leeds I didn't like the terrain, and found the riding tedious and boring, but now I like it. You finish every ride having turned every pedal revolution, the roads are super quiet and there are just enough rises to keep it interesting. Tuesday evening I put in 1/2 hour in the garage completing an upper body strength session.

Wednesday was a rest day, we had a great time at Robin Hoods Bay, nr Whitby. The weather was just fabulous, bright and clear. Unfortunately the marine life were keeping a low profile, all our best rock pooling efforts were in vain!!!

On Thursday I took Evie to Musical Kids, a music class that Sarah runs for little ones. Sitting in a circle singing songs with 10 mothers to their little ones was a new experience (my musical skills are very limited) Better than this though was seeing Sarah in action. She has put a huge amount of time and effort into her Musical Kid's group, and I can see why it is proving to be popular. She is great with the kids and gets really involved, each and every boy and girl there get her full attention, all the parents seem excited and pleased to be there.

I met my mate Tom for a Nando's, Coffee and a long chat about triathlon and training. Tom is also racing Ironman Lanzarote. We chatted about training principles and methods, our goals, and much more. I always feel excited and motivated after chatting with Tom, and guess when time passes so quickly the conversation must be easy and enjoyable. We were still chatting as we went back to the cars after 2 1/2 hours, I think we would still been chatting now. I completed one of my key training sessions before IM Switzerland this year with Tom, and will definately be riding and running with him over the coming months.

Motivated by chatting with Tom, and fuelled by a HOT Nando's Chicken Wings I went out for a 4 mile run later that evening. I felt rubbish, and as soon as I got home I realised I should have returned much sooner. I had a sore throat, and felt a bit achy. So begins the second half of the week.

I woke up on Friday with a sore throat and feeling like I'd done a monster gym session, my whole body ached. Although I wasn't really that ill, I was ill enough not to be able to train and thus not to be able to complete my usual daily activities. I joked with Sarah about Small Pox and Yellow Fever, she finds my reaction to illness amusing (and probably frustrating) So the back end of the week was spent loading up on Paracetamol, and Ibuprofen trying to rid myself of the life threatening disease that had taken residence in my body. It's tea time Sunday and I think I am pretty much good again.

Sarah has gone on a Muscial Instrument Repair Course in Wales learning how to repair Flutes and Clarinets. So my Mum has come up for the week to look after the girls while I am at work. It will be nice having my Mum around for the week, Ellie and Evie will be thoroughly spoilt and I will get a bit of a rest as well particularly around the bath time, bed time activities. I will miss Sarah, but I think sometimes a bit of time apart strengthens a relationship. I know when she returns on Friday we'll both be really excited to see each other, and will really enjoy each others company.

I have just started reading a book called "Mind Games" (Jeff Grout and Sarah Perrin) It's all about how the Mind has a massive influence over sporting performance. It's really interesting and captured my attention from the first page. In the foreword Sir Clive Woodward say's

"if we can improve 100 things by 1%, the total impact is huge"

This can be applied to everything we do. I straight away thought about my Triathlon Racing. I am in the process of compiling a list of 100 things related to my racing that I hope I will be able to improve by just 1%. I have read that Chris Boardman, Peter Keen and the British Track Cycling Personnel applied a similar thought pattern to their Olympic preparations. They looked at improving EVERYTHING. Even if it the improvement translated to just a few 100th's of a second, added together the impact is, and was devastating. I will hopefully have my '100' list in the next couple of weeks.

The clocks went back last night. So today just after 5pm, pitch black, BOO HOO. My commuter bike is fully loaded with lights and I'm set for riding in the dark. Have a good week, 100 things by 1%, I like that a lot!!

Friday, 24 October 2008

A Day on the Beach

Wednesday 22nd October 2008; Robin Hoods Bay (near Whitby)