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

"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......