Monday, February 25, 2008

What a difference a week makes...

Feeling a thousand percent better this week after mucho rest. I think – reading back over my previous post – that last week I was guilty of the sin of overtraining. I’d never thought it possible before but a week ago I felt pretty much at the end of my tether. My body was a wreck, my mind was addled and I couldn’t see a way forward.

Now I’ve rested up it’s a different story.

I’m back on track and focussed on the future. I feel strong and, whilst the body hasn’t healed up completely, it’s gone a long way to doing so. I just shut up shop last week and cycled for an hour and a quarter on Tuesday and ran for the same time on Wednesday. Yesterday (Sunday) I completed a very easy 50 mile bike ride.

But in the process I freed up some time and thoroughly enjoyed my week. Erin and I took in Cloverfield at the movies and I want to start getting to the cinema with her once a week. Alice and I travelled once again up to Anfield on Saturday to see Fernando Torres score a magnificent hat-trick as Liverpool beat Middlesborough. We’re on the waiting list for LFC season tickets but don’t hold your breath on that as there are over 60,000 on said waiting list !!! As a family we visited The Hellfire Caves in Buckinghamshire where the infamous 18th century Hellfire Club met and entertained ladies dressed as nuns and generally worshipped the devil. The village of West Wycombe is a National Trust Village and is home to the fabulous Village Sweet Shop selling literally hundreds of varieties of traditional sweets, all in jars and available as ‘quarter’ or ‘2oz’ sizes. I’m sure it’s illegal by European law to sell in such weights and illegal for Ironmen to eat sweets but frankly, who cares! Those pineapple chunks, sherbet bon-bons, sour apples and rhubarb and custards capped off a great week.

To be honest it’s probably the lightest week I’ve had for over a year but I’ve reaped as much benefit from it as I have from the toughest of training weeks. I’ve learned something very important. There’s no point in being super fit if your mind’s not in great shape. Fitness is a balance between life and body. Get it right and it’s a great place to be…

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I think I'm getting older.

Hard to believe, I know. But it's true. I've been guilty of burning the candle at both ends this week and when that happens something has to give. Consequently I dragged myself into the brightness of Sunday morning, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, like someone suffering from their first hangover telling themselves, "I"ll never do it again".

Only, in this instance, I'm going to adhere to that mantra.

Strange but I've become someone who would rather enjoy his training than fire into the red wine until 3am on a Sunday morning. I'm coming to the conclusion though that quality sleep and a 'well body' is one of the key elements of optimal training. When I have them I'm good. But when I don't I'm very, very bad.

I think I need to accept that I'm fighting a war on so many fronts. In addition to wanting to break eleven hours in my next Ironman and maintain the twelve to fourteen hours of training that entails (and remember that's training time, not counting changing, showering, driving to the pool etc), I want to be a full time world class father to my amazing kids, a full time husband to my equally amazing and understanding wife, continue to run a successful and expanding TV commercials production company and write my next movie script. All of these things take dedication and commitment and they all require time. Something will have to give and, I'm afraid it's going to have to be my love of a good old session (of the non-training variety) at the weekend.

If I'm going to be fresh to train, write, coach maths, play footy, do the swimming run, read lines with the girls as they rehearse, travel the country on business not to mention a myriad of other things including writing this bloody blog, then I need to be rested and refreshed. Unfortunately that doesn't go hand in hand with a couple of bottles of red wine and several glasses of port until 3am on a Sunday morning.

Frankly, I think I also slightly overdid the training last week. I couldn't run due to a blister suffered the previous saturday and decided to get some quality biking in. As a result I've got a sore knee and my shoulders are aching - shoulders more due to swimming I think. So I'm having a week of lighter, fat burning training before re-grouping and embarking on the next stages of training.

Training last week looked like this:

Monday: 60 mins swimming and drills
Tuesday: 60 mins swimming interval sprints. 2 hrs 15 mins bike ride. Big ring average of 17.2mph.
Weds: 60 mins swimming interval springs. 2 hrs 25 mins bike ride. 17.5mph, big ring, average heart rate 73% of Maximum.
Thursday: Complete rest day
Friday" 60 minutes swim - specific warm ups and 1km benchmark easy pace of 18'52" (Not meant to be fast but will be using this time in future to assess strength and efficiency of stroke). 57 minutes turbo cycling... pyramid heart rate 'beasting' session.
Saturday: 4 hours 30 mins long solo bike. First two hours on turbo to avoid icy roads then onto road for 2 hrs 30 mins. Between 65% and 75% of Max Heart rate. Bloody cold.
Sunday: 25 mins recovery road run. Blisters okay.

Total time training this wee: 14.53 hours.

Remember folks... 'Just say no to Mr Booze'.

Let's be careful out there...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Be Still My Beating Heart...

Valentine's Day approaches but hearts take on a different meaning now. Where once they signified purely love and happiness, they now bring images of toil and labour under the increasingly warm skies. Beat beat beat beat... it's all become about training this largest of muscles to perform well under pressure.
And it seems still to be going well, although I'm now having to take a week off running due to an extremely virulent blister on the heel of my left foot which is (I think) becoming infected. But it was the result of a great cross country run I did with Ironmen Colin, Alex and Simon, plus new running mates Don and Paul. We ran over Ivinghoe Beacon on Saturday, completing 14 miles and over 2,500 feet of ascent. I managed 1 hr 56 at an average heart rate of 85%. Pleased with this... it was a tough old run.

Anyway, here's the week that was:

Monday: 85 mins cross country run. New running shoes - I've moved to Brooks from Asics. I'll keep you posted on how they go! 45 mins weights/core/strength/stretch

Tuesday: 45 mins return to swimming. Slow and easy trying to counter a pain in my right shoulder. 60 mins recovery bike ride. Nice and easy on the roads in lovely weather. 55 mins running - did 10 mins ironman pace (sub 9') 35 mins marathon pace (approx 7'40) 10 mins ironman pace. felt very good and very strong. Avg 8'03 per mile, avg 136 bpm (79.5%)

Wednesday: 45 mins 2km pool swim. Nice and easy. Shoulder feeling better. 65 mins bike 18 miles at 16.5mph. Avg 118bpm. Mainly big ring. Bison Hill included. 70 mins long slow run with Tring Running Club. 8 miles at avg 126 bpm (73.68%). Avg pace 8'53 per mile. Getting used to running this slow.

Thursday: 45 mins 2km pool swim. Again, nice and easy. Getting technique back and getting shoulders used to swimming again after such a long time away. 60 mins bike turbo session. Did the increasing pyramid session with 2 minute bursts x 4 (75%, 80%, 85%, 90% of MHR). Did 5 sets. Fantastic session. Hardest bike session i've ever done. Really pushed myself. Very pleased.

Friday: Complete rest day.

Saturday: 2 hour cross country run. See above.

Sunday: 1 hour recovery bike. Another bloody puncture. Two in two weeks. Someone's giving me practice I think.

Total time training this week 12.58 hours.

Feels great to be back swimming, lovely to be out in the sunshine on the bike. A drag that my run resulted in such a bad blister (not from new shoes note... wore my flyroc trail shoes - probably not enough cushioning).

Congratulations to Mark Kleanthous on his great article this month in 220 Magazine. Top Tips indeed, Mark.

Finally, happy Valentines Day to my four Valentines ... in no particular order - my mum, Sadie, wife Fiona, daughters Erin and Alice.

Happy training everyone.

Keep those hearts beating.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Workin' hard

Training continues to go well. Despite not being able to swim due to the cricked neck which has stayed with me all week, I've put in an extremely reasonable 12 and a half hours training this week. Comprised of:

Monday : day off as recovery (listen to your body!)
Tuesday: 45 mins core/stretch/strength work. 53 mins bike turbo (pyramids on increasing heart rate). 45 mins run (marathon tempo, concentrating on relaxing shoulders and neck).
Weds: 45 mins run (10 min warm up and down with 3 x sets of 6 mins half marathon and 3 mins marathon pace in the middle). 65 mins bike out on the roads steady ride including first Bison Hill of the season. 75 mins run at low heart rate ( 72% of Max) over 8 miles.
Thurs: Complete rest day
Fri: 1 hour bike (increasing heart rate pyramids in the big ring). 45 mins run at marathon pace.
Sat: 4 hour bike ride keeping heart rate below 75% of MHR. 65 miles in tough conditions. Punctured after 40 miles but managed to fix it in freezing conditions. 25 mins tempo run straight afterwards keeping heart rate close to 75% of MHR.
Sunday: 45 mins run, 10 min warm up at Ironman pace with 8 mins marathon pace, 8 mins 10k pace and 8 mins marathon pace sandwiched in between.

So all's good. Some niggly injuries still - my knee is making slow progress on the stability front and my neck and shoulders continue to give me trouble. A return to swimming this week should show them who's boss.