Monday, February 22, 2010

It's a Virtue...

Patience that is! 

I think I'm a fairly relaxed, patient sort of bloke.  My parents tell me different.  As do my wife and children.  They tell me I'm in a hurry to get places and do things. 

Which I guess is fair comment. 

With Ironman training though, normal rules don't apply.  The distances are so long and the training volumes so high that it's necessary to start months before an event.  Truth be told we Ironmen get into the habit of always training.  Even through autumn and winter I was doing something most days - something which, prior to starting Ironman, I'd have regarded as a huge amount of training.  In truth, it's now just 'ticking over'.

So my base levels of fitness are much, much higher than they were a few years ago.  Consequently I can stand a few setbacks on the road to Ironman fitness.  It's kind of built into the schedule.  When the knocks and setbacks come, it's important not to try and make up what you might perceive you've lost.  Truth is - you haven't lost it.  You just think you have.  Trust in your training past and your training to come and get back in the game.  Your techinque in the pool will return, as will the strength in your bike legs.

It's like life.  Trust yourself.  Back yourself.  Believe in yourself.  You're a winner and winners don't have problems; only opportunities. 

Last week I was recovering from my bug.  I'd lost over 10lbs in the week of sickness and diorreah and was feeling pretty weak.  So I reigned back the training and gradually got back into it towards the end of the weeks with just under 7 hours of biking, swimming and core work.

This week I'm planning to be back to normal volumes.

I'm still suffering with my achilles injury but last week went to see John Dennis at Body Limits.  JD is a mate from Team MK, an accomplished age group triathlete in his own right and physiotherapist to the GB triathlon team.  He's pretty sure he's on the right track with my achilles and I'm working religiously on his exercises to strenghten my right calf.  I'm pretty sure it's working but won't know for sure until it's put to the test with a decent run.  I managed a 1km test run on concrete over the weekend with no ill effects so am optimistic.

What else is new? 

Well, it's busy at work.  I've a new commercial to produce and direct before Easter and several smaller projects also going on at the same time.  I've not heard back from my agent about my book so will be bothering him sometime this week to see if he's heard back from the writer's agent that he was sending it to (wheels within wheels).  I know these things take time so don't get too het up about the wait.  It can be frustrating though (or does this, once again, go to my being an impatient man?)

Alice had a fantastic parents evening at her school - The Sir Henry Floyd Grammar in Aylesbury.  She's at that age (12, rising 13) where she's now settled into senior school and is really starting to thrive and develop into a young lady.  Happy times.

I missed out on my new year's resolution last week of going to the movies but will try to go twice this week to make up for it.  I'm allowing myself a couple of lapses, as long as I buy 52 cinema tickets in the year!

I could go on but, frankly, find myself itching to get back to work.

Some might say I was impatient. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Look who came to stay...

 There I was... hammering away on the bike, cutting through the water like a blade and confident that my running form would return once my achilles injury healed up when POW!  My new buddy made himself known.  It was Wednesday morning and I was planning on a long ride.  But something felt wrong.  For the first time in as long as I could remember - I didn't fancy breakfast.  
Something told me to quit the ride and see what happened.  

Well, what happened was that I was laid low by the norovirus, the most malevolent, evil, hostile house-sitter you're ever gonna come across.  It's five days on now and in that time I've lost over 5kgs in bodyweight and quite honestly, I feel like I've been through the wringer.  Unfortunately, despite my best efforts at isolation and copious amounts of disinfectant, I managed to infect Alice.  It also  looks like Fiona may be coming down with it.

So all bets are off.  All training is off.  I'm officially in recovery mode for a couple of weeks.

At least today I feel a little more human again.  The virus seems to have left my gut and moved to my chest, making me wheezy tired.  I'm sure that will pass though.

It got me thinking just how lucky we are to have our health.  Some folk have to live life with illness and immobility and pain and suffering an everyday part of their existence.  

In the last few days I've learned the true meaning of an 'ultra event'.  

So, I'm going to sign off.  I hope that next week I will have returned to training and be a little brighter.

Most importantly, I hope that you and yours are healthy and well.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I've just finished my weekly maths tutoring with Alice.  Some may think this is a case of the blind leading the blind but I think I'm more the one-eyed man in this particular kingdom.  She's prone to being downhearted because her test scores are low.  I tell her not to be because:

1.  Life is too short
2.  Maths is a rubbish subject
3.  It's a long race (see previous post)
4.  She's improving.  Her scores are getting better.

She works at it doggedly and refuses to be defeated or defeatist.  I learn a lot from her even though many of these genes have undoubtedly come from me.

I'm trying not to let my achilles injury get me down because:

1.  Life is too short
2.  Achilles tendons are rubbish parts of the body
3.  There's a long time before my race (see previous post)
4.  I always have injuries but I'm gradually improving.

This week has been fairly large on biking what with not being able to run.  The week that was looked like this:

Monday, 2.4km swim drills, 90 min x country brisk walking to protect achilles, 20 mins core session
Tuesday, 2.55km swim set, 45 mins hard bike turbo
Weds, 65 mile bike ride, 30 min easy run off the bike
Thurs, 20 mins core session, 2km Team MK swim set
Fri, 3km swim set, 25 mins run (achilles broke down again :(
Sat, 75 mile bike ride, 25 mins cross trainer (gym), 10 mins core
Sun, 60 mile bike ride


Swim 9.95km
Bike 220 miles
Run/Walk 16 miles

Total training time 20.33 hours

I'm back on the booze now, having lasted until Friday night when I succumbed to the pleasures of the amber nectar.  That said, I'm really not going at it in the way I used to and am enjoying the days more as a result.  That may change but, for the moment it's a good place to be.

I carried on my new year's resolution of going to the movies every week.  I checked out INVICTUS this week which was no better than okay (in my opinion, of course).  Decent enough acting, decent directing, decent plot but just... not... exceptional.  I'd expected more from Clint and this story.

I'll almost certainly not be running for a few weeks now, so painful is my achilles when I do so.  I'm having the usual treatment of ice and stretching and I'm sure it will die down but it's kind of annoying.  That said, I'm sure the bike and the swim are benefiting.

A brief post this week and no words of worldly wisdom which will be a welcome respite for most of you I'm sure.

Toodle pip.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

It's a Long Race...

I say this to my girls.  Life is a long race.  I remember when I was at school, the so-called bright kids would be burned out by the time they were in their early twenties.  They didn't know it then, of course, but it was coming to them, as sure as eggs are eggs. 

You have to pace yourself, whatever you do.  Finishing strong is everything.  But you have to remember... and get this because it's really important... in life, the race never finishes.  Madness, you say.  The boy is spouting gibberish.  But it's true.

The more ambitious you are in life, the more targets you set yourself, the more you are in a 'race'.  And, having confirmed to yourself that you are the type of person that sets themselves targets and goals, then once these aims are achieved, then new ones will materialise to replace them. 

So it's best to treat your aims in life as races.  Plan them, train for them and, when the time is right, make your move and finish them ruthlessly.  When they're done and you've achieved what you set out to do, pat yourself on the back and set yourself a new goal.  You won't expect praise or plaudits because, to you, setting goals is as straightforward a thing as is watching afternoon TV for those who have no ambitions or dreams (or those who are too terrified to try and achieve them).

Remember this too.  The race is never against other people.  Never ever.  It's against yourself.  When you set yourself a goal you challenge yourself and nobody else.  Too often we hide behind, "I quit because I wasn't first."

That's bollocks. 

When I was a kid I wanted to be a film director.  I'm a film director now.  A few years ago I wanted to do an Ironman.  I'm an Ironman now.  I've always wanted to write a novel.  I've written a novel now.  I want to be a great father.  In this arena, I constantly strive to do my best. 

My point is this.  There are better film directors than me, quicker Ironmen, more accomplished novelists and most probably, better fathers (though I'm not sure how one measures fatherly qualities).  But my race has always been with myself.  I think of each box ticked as a lap on a never ending track of life.  Stamina and pacing are essential in order to keep on running. 

And keep on running we must, because it is this that makes us truly alive.

Speaking of running, my achilles flared up following a 13 mile run a couple of weeks ago.  Not surprisingly really - I should have worked up to this kind of distance rather than simply go out and run it with a group of mates from Team MK.  However, John - my chiropractor and sports injury doc (ex international sprinter) has taken me in hand and I'm seeing a gradual improvement.

My back is improving too, thanks to a core strengthening regime which I'm sure is going to pay dividends over the coming months. 

I've been back in the pool the last couple of weeks and can feel myself returning to some kind of form.  I'm swimming around 10km a week and focusing on drills and technique, believing that the speed will come once I'm in a lake.

Cycling still feels great.  Gabriel and I did a monstrously difficult 86 mile ride a week or so ago in torrential rain.  There were moments where we both struggled but I was pleased with my strength and fitness.

And... I've bought myself a present.  The Cervelo R3 frame (left)  is something I'm going to build up into a summer sportive road bike.  Think of it as an open top sports car. 

Been busy watching movies too.  I'm keeping up with my new year's resolution to pay for a cinema ticket at least once every week.  The list of movies I've seen is on the right of the blog and there's a link to each of them on IMDB.  Highlights this week included seeing a brand new print of EASY RIDER at my local theatre - The Rex In Berkamsted - and being pleasantly surprised by TWILIGHT which I watched with Alice.

The photo this week is of Erin and Alice, taken at my mum's 70th birthday celebrations which we recently travelled up to Lancashire for.  Photo here is of my mum and dad themselves who will be horrified that they're on the blog but who, it must be said, are looking pretty damned good for a couple both in their 70s.  I hope I have their youthful genes!

So, tortuously, the point of my analogy:  Ironman training is once again upon us.  I've deliberately kept a low profile throughout January, not starting a programme proper as I know that it's a hell of a long time until July 25th.  There are no prizes for being super fit in January, no medals given out for PB's with six months to go before a race.  Pacing is everything, just as it is in the Ironman event itself. 

This week sees the beginning of my plan proper and I'll be keeping you up to date with the type of thing I've been doing.  I may even list a few times and distances!  If you feel I'm going off too fast or intense, then by all means point me to this post and remind me that it's a long, long, long race.