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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Another week of learning

It feels like it been a while since I wrote a general training update as Ironman Austria hurtles towards me (and everyone else who is competing on the 29th June)

I'm currently at the end of week 8 of my 30 week plan and this week I have hit most of my training aims. Its been difficult fitting the training in but I've managed every session.

After my bike lactate test with Kev Dawson at Blizard Physio, it was suggested that I slightly alter my training plan to spend more time bike training with the aim being that my running would also improve. I amended my original training plan in line with Kev's suggestions to see what the impact of the altered training was.

This weeks training should have been as follows

  • Monday - Rest day
  • Tuesday - Track session and swim
  • Wednesday - 1 hour bike session and swim coaching
  • Thursday - 0:45 bike and 0:15 run brick session and swim coaching
  • Friday - Rest day
  • Saturday - 2:00 bike ride with 0:15 run
  • Sunday - 1:30 run and swim session

However the training this week has consisted of the following

  • On Monday I completed a 45 minute yoga session with the Mrs. I have been toying with the idea of yoga improving  my running by increasing my flexibility which in turn would increase my theoretical stride length which in turn would hypothetically make me quicker. The session was really hard work and tested my flexibility. By the end of the session I could nearly touch my toes but boy did my glutes hurt. Now I know I do a bit of running but my glutes never fire but 45 minutes of yoga and I was in bits. I expected to in agony on Tuesday but apart from tight hamstrings I felt okay.
  • On Tuesday despite my tight hamstrings I made my way to the track session at Doncaster Athletics. I was going to see if the tightness eased during the warm up before I made a decision on the entire session. The tightness eased somewhat so I took part in the main session. The session was 3 reps of 1200m followed by 800m followed by 400m, which would total 18 laps of the track. My legs were still in bits from my PB on Saturday so I made a decision to take it relatively easy and only complete 2 reps. I completed each of the laps in under 2 minutes which meant the entire session was completed at under 8min mile pace.
    • Now for the first important lesson I learnt this week. I went swimming after the track session when I was knackered. My swimming mojo seemed to have completely deserted me. I had no rhythm. This disheartened me no end especially as I have recently changed my swimming stroke. I only completed 2 reps of 200m and 1 rep of 100m. I just could not get settled into my stroke. I tried not to dwell on this but it is hard not to get disheartened when swimming is your easiest discipline in triathlon. In the end I put it down to tiredness and this was an important lesson to learn. Swimming after a hard running session will be hard work as your body is already tired.
  • On Wednesday I was struggling for time. I got home from work at 6pm but had to be at the pool for 7:30 to coach a swimming session. I managed a quick 45 minute ride on my turbo using Trainer Road. I really am enjoying Trainer Road. I find it does make turbo sessions enjoyable by giving me something to concentrate on other than just spinning my legs. To explain Trainer Road, you pick a workout from the 600+ which are on offer and there is a line which represents the power output required. The aim is to trace the line as closely as possible using the virtual power which is estimated by Trainer Road. This is the clever part, Trainer Road utilises the speed and cadence on your bike and the resistance level of your selected turbo trainer to spit out a virtual power. Trying to match your speed and cadence through gear selection to this blue power line is a challenge and this is what I like. You have an aim while sat on the turbo. You can pick rides which vary from easy to intense and rides which have specific aims.  It just makes the "torture chamber" fun especially now I have added a telly to my pain cave, this means I can watch videos and leave Trainer Road displaying on different screens.
    • I followed this turbo session up with a coaching session. I managed to help someone from the track session who could only swim two lengths of front crawl swim four lengths of crawl by the end of my one hour of coaching. I have since learnt that this swimmer has now swam 40 lengths continuously. This is what I love about coaching.

  • On Thursday I had a bit more time and managed another hour on my turbo with another Trainer Road workout for company. I followed this up with another hour of coaching. Again I really enjoyed my coaching by helping another swimming refine his stroke.
  • On Friday I got confused over which week it was and went for an hours run after work. I shouldn't have done this as it was meant to be a rest day but I had the most enjoyable run I have had in a while. I bloody loved it. I didn't overheat and just felt comfy running. Without really trying I managed a 58 minute 10km. 3 months ago I wouldn't have managed that. After the run I worked out that I had spent 38% of my time in zone 1 or below and 60% of my run in zone 2 and I still managed to bust out a 58 minute 10km. Hmmm? What's that about?
  • Saturday was time for me to see if the loaned saddle was really the one for me. I have borrowed an ISM Road saddle from TryBikeStore for 7-14 days with a view to purchasing one when I have found one suitable for me and my TT bike.  In summary this ISM saddle is not the one for me. After about 90 minutes I felt the familiar burn on my undercarriage so despite some more adjustments I just couldn't get comfy. I am going to return this saddle and swap it for a TT saddle. The TT model has a more forgiving nose and I think it it the nose which is causing my discomfort. In total I smashed out 45 miles in the 2:40 that I completed. As I couldn't get comfy for the last hour I didn't complete my planned 3 hour ride but learnt that the Road saddle is not the one for me. This is another important lesson learnt. After all being comfy for 112 miles is very important.
  • Today I had planned a 2 hour run which was in excess of the 1:30 that was on my plan but I fancied a long run. The weather however was horrendous. At the one hour turn point I was soaked. My hands were wet in their gloves. My torso in its waterproof (ahem!) was soaked so I cut short my run and only completed 1:30. Now for the good news. I negative splitted my training run. I reached 7.5km in 45:44 but completed my 15km in 1:28:51 which was a good feeling. What was even more encouraging was the fact that during the run I spent 61% of my time in zone 1 or below. But I still managed a sub 90 minute 15km. I didn't mange to go for my swim as I had to go and visit my Grandma in hospital.
    • Given that my HR on Friday and today has been quite low despite relatively good times (for me) being achieved I contacted Dave Tune and it transpires that with correct lactate training you have to work harder to achieve the same HR's. Oh so the fact I found the runs easy is just that I am getting fitter. Looks like I'll have to work harder on my next run to stay in zone 2. So it's true that it doesn't get easier you just get faster.
      • Today I also learnt that despite some people, making huge progress they take setbacks to heart. It is important to remember that the winter is where you build for the season ahead. Sessions which you miss or cut short are not the end of the World. It is the season where it is difficult to go out and achieve your best due to the weather, light, temperatures and a million other reasons. But remember you are lapping everyone who is inside on the couch. You are awesome if you get out in the horrendous weather. Winter miles mean for summer smiles. And take the positives from every session. Today for instance I cut my session short but taking the positives I negative splitted my run and performed all the run in zone 1 or 2 as scheduled.
Some random training stats for week 8 are:-

Time spent training - 8:24 (not including 2 hours coaching)
Distance travelled - 98 miles
Total calories burnt - 5779 kcal (not including 2 hours coaching)
Average HR bike - 118 bpm
Average HR run 155 bpm

I'm enjoying this revised training plan and think that the consistent training is leading to improvements in my running. I can't wait for some slightly better weather to see if those same improvements can be seen on the bike as well.

Thanks for reading,

Michael


Sunday, 19 January 2014

I am a "Serious Runner"

As I blogged about in December in my post Nearly a Serious Runner there was an article in Runners World from 2012 which said you are a serious runner if you break the 25 minute mark for 5K.

There was a similar article in July 2013's issue of Runners World which I have copied below for ease.


This piqued my interest given that in July 2013 I set a PB for 5km of 26:48, which I subsequently reduced to 25:44 in December 2013.

After those 2 PB's the idea that I could go under 25 minutes for 5km didn't quite seem as impossible as I had thought previously. Yes it would take some hard work but it was achievable.

So I formulated a plan to get under the magic 25 minute mark.

Image borrowed from Runner World
It didn't matter to me what the time was as long as it began with a 24. I would have taken a 24:59.9 to be honest.

My plan was simple

  • Keep going to track sessions at Doncaster
  • Keep trying as hard as I could at track
  • Pick a date (18th January)
  • Pick a venue for the attempt (Blizard Physio Breakfast Run)
  • Give it everything I had
Like I said it was fairly simple. Very kindly one of the runners from track (Jay) offered to pace me round the 5km course to ensure I would go under the 25 minute mark I had set myself.

As I have said previously it is this sort of unwavering support that really makes me feel privileged to run with the people at Doncaster track.  I have grown to call several of them friends and it is through their support and encouragement that I have been able to maintain my motivation.

Before October 2013 I was struggling with my running but since going to track sessions the improvements I have made have challenged the beliefs I had about my body and what was possible. This is all down to the support network that exists there.

The belief that I was able to go under 25 minutes was further reinforced during my lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio. During my test, it was worked out that I had it in my body to run a 5km in under 24 minutes. With this in mind and my December PB I felt confident about becoming a member of the #sub25 club.

I shared my aims for a PB on both Facebook and Twitter so that the aim was there for all to see. This is for two reasons. One if a goal is shared, it makes it real and secondly the support you can receive from friends both real and virtual can help motivate you. Or at least it does me.

So I prepared for the run by not exercising on the Friday night. Unlike the night before my last PB attempt which was spent drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

I got up on the Saturday and felt refreshed from my rest day. I don't mind admitting I was full of nervous energy. I got dressed and had a quick bite to eat of a Jackoatbar and set off on my way to the Blizard Physio clinic in Bircotes. On my way I listened to Happy by Pharrell Williams on repeat as it genuinely makes me happy. When I got to the clinic I was still bopping away in the car when Jenny Blizard opened my car door to laugh at me.

I made my way into the clinic and had a conversation with Dave Tune before the other runners got there. When the runners arrived they all asked me how I felt, I said I felt good and I genuinely did. After all the runners arrived, we made out way to the course. This 1.2 mile jog served as a good warm  up.

The 5km course is hardly ideal for setting a PB. It consists of 3 and a bit laps with each lap measuring  around 1 mile. The start point is a lamppost and the finish is a join in the tarmac. The thing that makes it not ideal is the first third of a mile of each lap consists of a hill. Not a big hill but a hill all the same. It rises approximately 40 foot over this one third of a mile. The hill feels fins on the first lap but by the third lap you can really feel the effects of this long incline.

During my last PB attempt I wore too many layers and overheated on the way round the 5km. I had to remove clothing while running which had an effect on my overall time. I wasn't going to make this mistake this time so I wore a base layer and a T-shirt for the run. Yes I started off a little on the chilly side but quickly warmed up. Again I wore my favourite trainers for speed work. My Skecheres Go Run 2's. They are so lightweight and make me feel quicker than other trainers. I am sure it is psychological but I would take any advantage I could get.


We were set off and I managed to stay on Jay's heel on the first lap. I had purposely asked Stacey who gives lap times to the runners to ignore me as I didn't want to know if Jay was working me too hard. I had also set my GPS watch to only show a running symbol, I didn't want to know any more details. If Jay was going faster than I thought I could I didn't want to know in case it scared me. I didn't want to know my HR, time or distance covered.

By the start of the second lap I knew I was working, the infamous incline took its toll. I could not wait for the incline to be over so I could start the gradual descent.

Jay was really encouraging during the run. I wasn't able to say a lot but he kept spurring me on whenever I dropped back even if it only a few feet. He kept saying things like

"Come with me"
"Big breaths in, slow breaths out"
"We're still on pace"

The hill on the third lap absolutely sapped all my energy. I stuck with Jay and shortened my stride as advised. I so nearly quit on this ascent. Mentally I was destroyed but I remember Dave's advise of concentrate and ignored the demons. I even resorted to singing Happy by Pharrell Williams in me head to help with my mood. To paraphrase Chris McCormack "I embraced the suck" and dug in. I was really hurting. I just wanted it to be over. This was the most I have ever hurt during a run and I didn't think I had it in me to bury myself to the depths I was managing today. It turns out I did.

I stuck on Jay's heels. On the last half of the third lap, Jay had started to pull away but once my HR had settled (I was running to feel) I soon sped up and caught up to him. With less than half a mile to go, Jay spurred me on by saying it was nearly over and that we were still on pace.

I turned the last corner and had the final ascent to go Dave Sedgewick rounded the corner at the same time and told me to go with him, I kicked for a few metres and struggled. This was it, do or die time. Now it was time to really dig deep. As I started the ascent the faster runners from the mornings session who has already finished were jogging down to meet me. Dave, Steve and Neal had jogged down to meet me to help me home. I was so touched by this act of camaraderie. They had already completed their runs but had come to help me home.  Dave Tune helped me kick up the hill. My last energy reserves soon wained but they told me to kick again. I was only just managing to keep running. I had nothing left. I gave it everything I had on those last 400m. I just wanted it to be over.  I sprinted for the line ( I don't think I was really sprinting) but I was spent.
Being escorted home
I crossed the join in the tarmac which represents the finish line to Stacey telling me I had completed the course in 24:35. A full 25 seconds under what I wanted.

On analysing my run data, my PB for 5km had lowered to 24:12 as the course is slightly long according to my Garmin.  

24 minutes and 12 seconds. WOW!

I was amazed that I had in fact managed to go 48 seconds under what I wanted. I only needed to improve my PB by 44 seconds to dip under 25 minutes but instead I had improved my PB by 92 seconds. That is one hell of an improvement in a month. And do you know why I managed to improve so much? Consistent training to HR after my lactate threshold test. I am training with a purpose and each session has a target HR which I am mostly sticking to.

Just after the finish. I look a bit tired.
I have no idea how to thank Jay for his help in achieving my goal. It is only through his pacing and encouragement that I managed to stick on his heels.

Do you know the best thing about all of this. After I had completed my goal,  one of the other runners  Liz said I inspired her to improve. This is why I blog. To inspire others. After all if I can do it anyone can.

So here I am a fully fledged member of the #sub25 club and I am bloody proud of myself.
My PBs from the run
If I have inspired you to attempt to break the 25 minute married below is the full article from Runners World.

Whats next? Who knows.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

18 laps of "loneliness"

I don’t want the title to put you off this blogpost but I thought it about time I updated you on my progress at track.

Despite being the slowest runner at the track in Doncaster (hence the title of this post), the support I receive on a weekly basis is amazing.

Let’s take last night for instance.

The main set was 1 rep of 1600m with 2 minutes rest, 6 reps of 800m with 90 seconds rest and 1 final rep of 1600m.

I set off with the slower runners and by half way round the first lap I was on my own. Now do you see where the loneliness comes from? I had 1400m of running to do on my own. The faster runners overtook me and muttered words of encouragement as they did. I soldiered on and completed the 1600m in 7 minutes and 50 seconds. I could have gone quicker but saved something for the rest of the workout as it was one of the longest workouts I have been to.

When I completed my 4 laps, I had about 30 seconds of recovery before the faster of the slow runners set off on their first rep of 800m. They set off and I stayed in place ensuring I had the prescribed rest of 2 minutes. After my two minutes were up I set off on my first rep of 800. Again on my own but being encouraged whenever I was overtaken or passed a resting group.

This continued through reps 2-6 and the further back I got the more encouragement I received. Some runners even appeared to extend their rests to encourage me on my way and for that I am eternally grateful. This is one of the reasons I love the group at the track. They are such a tight knit community and want their compatriots to succeed.

I missed one lap of 400m on reps 3 and 6 as I was starting to struggle. Holding sub 8 min mile pace after a day at work is something I find difficult. So in total I completed 18 of the prescribed 20 laps around the track and I bloody loved it.

Three months ago I could never have believed that I was capable of running sub 8 min mile pace consistently. Going to track has made me such a stronger runner and I urge people to go down to their local track to reap the rewards that are available through hard work.

Three months ago I struggled to do 12 lots of 400m which is 12 laps, in fact I only completed 7 of the prescribed 12 laps and most of those were half laps. So as you can see the fact I completed 90% of the set show how much improvement I have made.

Yes each week it is tough hanging on at the back but I am getting better and if I have the mental fortitude to slog out these tough sessions out then so do you. After all I’m a 15 stone ex smoker who has only been running for under 18 months.

So thanks to everyone at track last night, all 36 of you for helping me improve as a runner. Thanks for the encouragement. You have no idea how motivating it is to me. It keeps me going when I really start to struggle.

I even received my own personal grand stand finish as all 35 of the other runners where at the finish of my 18th lap to encourage me home.

Thanks for reading,


Michael AKA Blogger

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Relearning to swim

I know I bang on about my swimming background and it being my best discipline but it is. I can hold 1:33/100m in the pool quite easily and my PB for 1500m stands at 23:48 from Leeds Triathlon.

I mean there must be something there for me to be #firstoutthewater in a local race and 5th out the water  at Leeds Triathlon.

But I always knew there was room for improvement. After all I've had no analysis of my stroke since I was 14. Yes I dabbled with masters swimming last year but quickly got disheartened when there wasn't that much technique coaching so I sacked it off.

In early 2013 I got followed on Twitter by Alan Rapley.

Alan who? I hear you ask.

Alan Rapley was the captain of the GB swimming squad at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He swam in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay and in the process swam his 100m in 49.76 seconds. Which is insanely quick given the World Record currently stands at 46.91 seconds a full 17 years after Atlanta.

Thats a length of freestyle in 12.5 seconds or 2m/s. So in summation I like to think he knows his shizz.

Anyway Alan contacted me about him holding swimming camps and I was interested as I wanted to improve. Due to a lack of uptake his planned course last year fell through. However since then he has been promoting his business more and finally today I got to go on one of his courses.

I've been giving Alan banter on Twitter as he guaranteed a 10% improvement over the course of a day. Now if he managed this my PB for 1500m would be 21:25 which is good for an Olympic swim. How could I not be interested in getting quicker. After all isn't that what we all aspire for. To be the best we can be?

So I rocked up thinking I could swim. Well yes I can swim but I meant I thought I could swim well.

The course ran something like this
  • Introductions
  • Discussions about swim sets and coaching
  • First swim including video
  • Analysis of the video and lunch
  • Dryland swimming
  • Second swim including video
So I got in the pool and did my thing.

I was doing 15 strokes and taking 7 breaths to cover the 18ish m pool consistently. I wasn't that bothered about time at this point.

When we had our stroke analysed I was shocked at how ugly my stroke was. I know what efficient swimming looks like from my BTF coaching course where we watched a video of Jono van Hazel. See below.


I mistakenly thought I would have something approaching an efficient stroke. The only positive I received about my stroke was I had a good head position. My legs were all over the place and my pull was only effective for about 2 foot of my stroke.

Alan then took us into a theatre and had us practice efficient swimming on dry land. 

This quickly sunk in and I could visualise what he was trying to explain. In summation you are trying to be as streamlined as possible and work with the water and create the least resistance for the water. 

I was dying to try this out in the pool.

So we got changed again and made our way to the pool. Alan demonstrated what he had taught and completed the 18ish m in 6 strokes. 6 strokes. WOW! Now that is efficient.

So we set off with our new tricks up our sleeve. At first it felt weird but I quickly settled into my rhythm concentrating on what I had been told.

I was soon completing lengths of the 18ish m pool in 9 strokes and only taking one breath with a minimal kick.

Hang on. Thats 6 strokes and 6 breaths less per length. How is that maintainable? Quite simple I was using the water and remaining as streamlined as possible. I was amazed at how much my stroke changed.

Below is a video which runs my before and after swimming side by side. As you can see the difference is amazing. I am so much higher in the water and my stroke is a lot longer.

video

I can't wait to try this out in the pool with GI Tri next week where I know I can complete 4 lengths in 1:25 which means I have a benchmark to compare it against. It really won't surprise me if I am quicker and the reps are more maintainable because I using the water more intelligently.

Thanks Alan for revitalising my swim stroke. If you want more information about Alan's coaching courses, please visit http://www.mycoach.org.uk

I can't wait to use it to my advantage this year.

For any people wanting some of this expert knowledge. Alan is putting on a triathlon camp on the 15th and 16th February in Sheffield. At this camp there will be ex olympians from swim bike and run disciplines who can impart their expert knowledge to you. This is a residential course over the two days with lodging and food included for the amazing price of £175. I am sorely tempted to attend given what I have learnt in one day on only my swimming.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

Friday, 10 January 2014

2014 - What it means to me

I've debated long and hard over whether to sum up 2013 in a blog post and decided against it. Instead I thought I would write a post detailing what I hope will happen in 2014 and this is why this post is over a week after the New Year.

For those interested in 2013 here is a brief summary. In 2013 I set myself numerous targets and to be fair I completed most of them.

  • #2013milesin2013 - completed as I swumbikedran 2041 miles in total
  • #500runningmilesin2013 - completed as I ran 507 miles in total
  • sub 27:30 1500m swim - completed my PB now stands at 23:48
  • sub 30:00 5km run - completed my PB now stands at 25:44
  • sub 60:00 10km run - completed my PB now stands at 59:30 
  • train as a BTF level 1 coach - I am now a fully qualified level 1 coach
  • begin to enjoy running - completed as sometimes (well most of the time) I genuinely enjoy running
  • complete a triathlon at every distance - my main challenge was completed and in the process I learnt so much about my mental strength.
And now for the two I missed
  • #1500bikemilesin2013 - I managed 1482 mile and couldn't muster the desire to complete those last 18 miles on new Years Eve
  • #channelchallenge - Last New Year the gauntlet was thrown down. After some banter on Twitter me and @patjohn77 decided to see if we could theoretically swim the English Channel 6 times. I failed abysmally by completing 83 of the desired 210km. A paltry 40% but do you know something I don't regret failing in this as it is something I would like to attempt this year. I still swam over 80km and in the process massively reduced my swimming PB.
So onwards and upwards for 2014.

Firstly the big news. For those of you not in the know. Which if you follow me on Twitter will be none of you. I am officially a model. Me "a model". Who honestly saw that coming?

You over there in the back? No you were just stretching I see.

It's official I was contacted by Huub Design in November last year about featuring in a advertising campaign for Huub as my story is apparently inspiring. There it is again. That word which I love and hate in equal measure. So I rocked up to a hotel car park in Nottingham (how glam eh?) to meet Dean from Huub who drove me to a mill in Nottingham where I was photographed for about an hour and a half.

The resulting photos then went to Huub's marketing people and they came up with the following advert, which has so far been featured in Triathlon Plus.




I hope the advert gets seen by a smoker or two and they realise what is possible if you give up smoking. Those are the people I hope to inspire, to change their lives as I have changed mine. I'm immensely proud of the advert and am looking forward to working alongside Huub more if the opportunity arises. So far all the comments I have received have been positive and this makes me happy.

But then again who wouldn't be happy about being the "face of normal triathlon" or being in an advert alongside the Brownlees, Caroline Steffen, Richard Varga and Harry Wiltshire.

Now back to 2014. What's in store for this year?

Well my race calendar is filling up. Now I just need to find the cash to pay all my entry fees. And buy the wife a present for being so understanding (she added that in).

So far I would like to do
  • Gainsborough 10km - I've never actually run a 10km running race and think it's about time I correct this.
  • Clitheroe Triathlon - I wasn't hapy with my performance last year on the bike and want to set a PB. Well anything will be a PB after my chip malfunction last year where I didn't wear one at all.
  • Epworth Triathlon - This race is close to me and I fancy some more race experience. I will use this as a training day.
  • Outlaw Half-  I needed a half before my A race to get my body used to the rigours of going longer.
  • Southport Triathlon - Following my run lactate test where it was stated that I should race quicker shorter distances, I decided to enter this race. It is an ETU qualification race and I would like to see how far off the pace I am. The course looks fast which will play to my bike speed.Who knows what could happen come race day?
  • Ironman Austria - My "A" race for 2013 and I can't bloody wait to swim in Worthesee. It's 25 weeks until Austria and I can't wait to hear those words "Michael, you are an Ironman". Bring it on. There are a few of us on Twitter going to Austria and I am loving the banter.
  • Hatfield Triathlon - the one that started it all. Let's go and see how much I can smash my PB by.
  • Outlaw - Again I want to set a new PB for the race. It was too hot for me last year.
  • Leeds Tri Relay - I want to see if me, Stu and Martin can swim bike and run our way to another victory.
  • Brigg Sprint - My favourite race from last year and again I will be PB hunting.but this time I will have company.
  • Yorkshire Marathon - my first marathon. Well it had to be done one day.
There are several goals I want to complete this year.
  • help my Dad - my Dad has signed up to complete Brigg Sprint Triathlon and I want to help him in any way I can to get to the finish line. He's a 57 year old ex smoker who as far as I can remember did no exercise while I've been alive (apart from walking) until he was inspired by me to take part in his first triathlon. Now that's inspiration and it makes me proud that I inspired him to do this. 
  • sub 25 min 5km - this is my next logical target and the first attempt is 18th January. I will have a pacer (or two) to assist in this challenge. I feel like a Kenyan running the London Marathon. If I don't do it on the 18th. I will own this by the end of the year.
  • #projectonehourswim - I want to complete the swim at either Outlaw or Austria in under one hour. I am getting quicker in the pool and believe this is achievable.
  • improve bike speed - following my lactate test last week and the suggestion that I can easily increase my wattage on the bike, I hope to significantly improve my bike speed over this year. I plan on doing this by training to the plan as set by Blizard Physio and Kevin Dawson. I also plan on using TrainerRoad to train through the winter and break the monotony of time spent in the "turbo chamber".
  • improve as an athlete - I want to improve as a triathlete and be the best that this body of mine will allow. With help from Blizard Physio (both through testing and keeping me injury free) I am sure that this year will see me make significant improvement in swimming, biking and running and thus become a better athlete.
  • weight loss - As I hinted at last time the key to improving my bike splits lies in weight loss and I hope to lose more weight this year than I have to date since Feb 2012. This should help improve both my bike and run splits and this will be the challenge that I find hardest. I can honestly only remember once in my adult life when my weight has been below 15 stone and that was when I suffered from stress after losing my Mum.
If you see me at a race, especially now you know what I look like, please say "Hi."

That's all from me.

Thanks for reading,

Michael



Friday, 3 January 2014

Bike Lactate Test

After the success that was my running lactate threshold test in mid November.

http://smoker2triathlete.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/lactate-threshold-test.html

I decided my biking could benefit from the same procedure. I didn't want to end up training with junk miles and what can I say I'm a sucker for data.

I contacted Blizard Physio and arranged the appointment for while I was still on leave from work.

I knew the format for the test and despite this was even more scared this time round. Why was I scared? Well before my run lactate I knew I was not a great runner but I thought I was a half decent cyclist and this would confirm if this was the case.

So I drove over to Blizard Physio HQ and met Kevin Dawson who would be undertaking my test.

This is Kevin Dawson the 11 time British Best All Rounder cyclist,  Kevin Dawson who finished 5th at Outlaw in 2013 (whilst setting the quickest bike split by 9 minutes), Kevin Dawson who is a member of the WR holding RAAM team.

To be fair the bloke is a cycling legend and do you know something he's a belting bloke as well. We hit  it off straighaway. He made me feel at ease immediately.

This is what I love about Blizard Physio. The people who do the testing have a wealth of knowledge in their field from competing at the top for several years.

Kevin set my bike up on a Cateye Cyclosimulator and fitted a power meter to my bike. Kevin then got me to warm up for 10 minutes at a comfortable pace. After that he asked me what pace I thought we should start at. He queried 19mph but as my warm up had been circa 20mph I suggested this as the starting point.

So I pedalled along keeping the speed as close as I could to 20mph. After 3 minutes it was time to give some blood so the lactate content could be measured.

Kevin was keeping record of my HR, cadence, RPE and power output at regular intervals.

The RPE scale
This procedure was repeated at 21mph, 22mph, 23mph, 24mph, 25mph and 26mph with my blood being examined every 3 minutes. Kevin made me feel at ease and the banter took my mind of the work that I was putting in.

After the interval at 26mph all the required data had been collected and this portion of the test was completed.

Now for the really hard part of the test. What is my body capable of? I didn't perform this part of the test during my running lactate.

This part of the test involved 1 minutes intervals with the speed increasing by 1mph after each minute.

Kevin recorded my HR, cadence, RPE and power output at each one minute interval.

I'm not going to lie and pretend that this part of the test was fun because it bloody destroyed me but I cycled for one minute intervals at 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30mph and then stopped. My maximum average power output for one interval was 307 watts.

After I stopped I was broken, sweating from head to foot with a severe case of jelly legs but after 4-5 minutes of easy spinning I was back to normal. I went to shower while Kevin prepared my results and report.

Kevin prepared my report which gave me 7 levels for HR on the bike. Kevin explained that it would be more beneficial if I could train with a power meter as you are either in the correct power range or not whereas training to HR can be affected by many different factors (temperature, hydration levels, etc…)

The 7 levels I have been given can be seen below. Given I don't have a power meter I will be using these HR zones in my bike training from now on. Kevin also prepared me a sample two week plan which I can combine with the rest of my training plan to get me to the start line in Austria. I will combine both of these plans to come up with my own plan. Part Kevin Dawson / part Don Fink.


The surprising thing about the test was how close my threshold power output of 211 watts was to the theoretical threshold power output of 205 watts as estimated by Trainer Road during my 8 minute test the other week. As long as I kept my power output below 211 watts I could keep that output up for an hour which is equivalent to an Olympic distance triathlon.

Kevin then said he was impressed with my power outputs given I have only ridden my bike 22 times since Outlaw in July 2013 and said with the right training I could add 50 watts to my threshold power output.

To put this into context some pros at Kona in 2013 rode the bike course while outputting 285 watts and I could theoretically output 260 watts.

Wowsers. I always knew I felt more at home on the bike then when running.

Now for the flip side most pros at Kona weigh 11 - 12 stone whereas my weight today was 15 stone 10 pounds. Their power to weight ratios are significantly better then mine

If we take a pro weighing 12 stone (76kg) outputting 285 watts their ratio would be 3.75w/kg.

If we take me outputting 260 watts my ratio at my current weight would be 2.62 w/kg. As you can see this differs greatly from that of a pro. But if I lost 1 stone 10 pounds (which I think is achievable) my ratio would be 2.95 w/kg.

So the key to improving my bike splits lies in losing weight.

Kevin commented that my power output was significantly higher than that of some international age groupers which he was impressed with especially given the lack of bike riding I have done.

Kevin summed up my report by writing the following

"Good bike test Michael, for the amount of training you have put in recently on the bike it's a really good test. Switching the emphasis from the run to the bike will hopefully improve both disciplines

2014 starts today"

So guess what 2014 does start today with the aim being lose weight, more hours on the bike and concentrate on increasing run distance and keep going to the track sessions.

Bring it on.

This is the year where I see what this body of mine is capable of.

Thanks to everyone at Blizard for their help in helping me "be all that I can be"

Thanks for reading,

Michael

Edit 5/1/13

I thought it prudent to update my spreadsheet which details my HR zones following my bike lactate test and in a word I am floored by the differences which exist between my theoretical HR zones (using the 220 minus age method) and my actual scientifically proven HR zones.


My running HR zones are significantly higher than the theoretical running HR zones whereas my cycling HR zones are significantly lower then the theoretical cycling HR zones. I guess this proves I am more of a cyclist than a runner.