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!!!!