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23.12.11

Test: Running

Every month during my recovery week I test myself in each sport to set my training zones for power, heart rate and pace for the coming month.

This is an overview of this month's running test.

Without an assistant, the test I often use is Joe Friel's CP30 Test. Once I have my average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of the test I drop it in to Training Peaks (the web-based planning application I use with all my athletes), which calculates the zones for me. Then whenever I upload my data from a run the program logs and calculates the time I spent in each of my heart rate zones so that I can manage my training load over time.

It's important to replicate the conditions for each test as closely as possible. Trying to get the same amount of sleep beforehand, eat the same foods prior, test at the same time of day, same weather conditions, wear the same kit, use the same course, etc. Of course some of this is in, and some of this is out, of your control. The closer you can replicate each test the more accurate and comparable the results.

The results (using my Garmin 310XT):

Garmin File: CP30 Test, Running

CP30 Test Data in Garmin Connect
CP30 Test Data in Garmin Connect

21.10.11

50 miles of RnR

I think I'm currently moving towards ultra-distance racing in a transition away from triathlon and more towards running again, and more specifically mountain running.

Last year's midnight Caesar's Camp Endurance Run and this year's Lakeland 50 may become pivotal races that spawned my love for ultra-running. Only time will tell.

Having now completed the toughest iron distance races on the planet and some unfinished Deca business but still finishing five iron distance triathlons in five days, I am keen to be able to compare an iron distance race with that of 100 mile ultra-run. Which is tougher?

Knowing that I was moving to California and with one eye on filling the 2012 race calendar, I found the Rock 'n' River 50. A qualifying race for the legendary Western States 100 (or at least finishing it under 11 hours would give me a 10:1 chance of getting a slot through the ballot). If I did get in to the Western States 100, it would fit well, coming six weeks after Ironman St George (an A race for 2012), but will probably compromise Vineman 70.3, which is two weeks after, but a B category race.

Providing I paid particular close attention to my recovery, the timing of the Rock 'n' River would coincide with the ITU World Triathlon Championships three weeks later (I'll let you know whether this was a good idea) and act as my last long run.
The race also happened to be on part of the Western States route so doubled up as a partial recce as well.

The race is an end-to-end course and like many similar ultras had a coach laid on early in the morning to transport runners to the start. As Rachael was supporting by driving to aid stations along the route, we decided the extra sleep would be more important so we booked a hotel in Auburn near the start.

We called in at packet pick up (timing chip, race number and goody bag) and pasta party on our way to the hotel. We had a couple of questions about the legalities of pacing and on course assistance, none of which we could get an answer to.
Those getting the bus were up at 3am, we got up at 5am.
A 10-minute drive to Auburn Dam Overlook Park and I was donning my race kit in the dark and walking to join the others at the start line. It was dark and cold at the start, so I had a long sleeve top and head torch.

Ready for the start
Ready for the start

There was a short race briefing, which said to follow pink ribbons that marked the course and we were off, 06:30.

My strategy for this, my second 50 miler, was to run the whole distance or as far as I could before adopting a run/walk strategy. The course is downhill and I was concerned how my quads would hold up. I had contemplated quad guards but was unable to sort this before the race.

I started out at a 6-7min/km pace and had the usual smile as most of the field charged past me with their over enthusiasm.

After about 2kms we began a steep road descent down to the river. It wasn't long after that I could hear shouting ahead followed by more and more people slowing to a group halt. We had gone the wrong way…already..!

Amused, I stood watching the carnage as runners went too and fro, up and down the hill searching for a pink ribbon. The majority of the field was lost. At times like these it is better to conserve energy (do not go charging up and down a very steep hill) and not to act on bizarre comments from those panicking around you, such as: "It cannot be this way", "It must be this way" or other non-constructive, non-factual, irrational utterances.

In the end, myself and a couple of others amused by the headless chickens, decided to retrace our steps by walking back up the hill. It worked, we found a ribbon (we whistled and shouted to say we had picked up the route) and after 17 minutes we were back on course and I was back to 6min/km pacing.

Soon after, the road wound down to the river and I decided to save my quads and held back as I witnessed a lot of runners opening their gait and hammering down the hill. Perhaps due to the earlier mis-direction and people getting fired up but again I was astounded as to how many runners were thrashing down the hill. So much so that an older runner commented to me, as we were both getting passed, that he expected some people to be suffering later on. I agreed.

We eventually joined the American River and ran alongside it and around Folsom Lake, which was the best part of the course for me.
At the first aid station, the sun was rising so I got rid of my head torch and long sleeve top (in hindsight I shouldn't have bothered wearing it).

I held back for the first two aid stations and then began to pick up the pace as I was enjoying the trail and fantastic scenery to my left. Unfortunately, picking up the pace meant I had to now go passed all those that had charged from the start line, those that charged after getting lost and those that charged down the descent. This was a lot of people and a lot of calling out, waiting, then passing. I wasn't consciously racing but testing whether I could run the whole thing, so to keep things positive my thoughts were that if I got held up by slower runners it was probably for the best and I would benefit from it later.

I always test kit as much as possible before using it in a race and for this race I was introducing The North Face Enduro 13 pack (two bottle carriers instead of a bladder, quicker to fill), Injinji Performance Mid-weight Toesocks (my toes beat each other up and my thoughts were if they were individually wrapped it might delay the damage), Saucony Peregrines (grippy and light, even with my orthotics). I wanted to trial this kit but if I were doing this race again because the aid stations are so close together I'd carry a single bottle (either handheld or around my waist).

There were a few inclines along the river route but nothing that caused me to walk (long training runs up Mt Diablo on the Summit Trail served me well). I was going well at around 6min/km or under so continued at this pace.

I walked aid stations eating half a PowerBar (20g of carbs), swapping a full for empty bottle of electrolyte (Heed) and then having two Gu Roctane gels (25g of carbs) per hour aiming to ingest about 70g of carbs per hour. I started this after sipping only water for the first hour. The aid stations were well stocked and managed. Towards the end of the race I was drinking cola and stuffing ice down my front and back to keep my core temperature down (the good thing about wearing the TNF Enduro 13 is that the chest straps held ice on my front and back whilst it melted).

I started to feel some cramping in my quads in the late teen miles so downed a Salstick Cap, which did the trick. The route now joined the American River Parkway for the last 19 miles, which meandered along the Jebediah Smith Memorial Trail, which was a tarmac bike trail all the way to the finish. You could run on the crushed granite to the side if you didn't want to run on the tarmac. Knowing the surface was going to change, I switched to a pair of Brooks Ravenna 2s, to enjoy a bit more cushioning.

Being on a bike trail, I had to constantly look around so that I could take the shortest route possible, which only incurred the wrath of one path-user and I had to apologise to a couple of other cyclists for causing them to slow down and use greater caution.
At this stage, there were very few runners around, little shade and the heat was relentless. The great thing about this part of the course is that you receive a lot of encouragement from other park users, which really helps.

The good news was that I was holding pace very well and apart from the odd sloshing feeling, in which I backed off the liquid a little, my stomach was holding up great.

When another runner did come in to view, I stuck to my pace and would eventually reel them in. each one a great boost in the latter stages. It's better to be overtaking than overtaken towards the end of a race.

When I stopped at aid stations, I didn't check the mileage and didn't ask for positions, times, etc. I had a rough idea from studying the maps but daren't look at my Garmin in case it said I had longer to go than I thought. It was only at the 42-mile aid station when someone said: "only eight miles to go", did I start to calculate possible finish times.

Running on the American River Parkway's granite edge
Running on the American River Parkway's granite edge

Knowing the wheels can come off at any time during endurance races, I was happy with what I'd achieved up to this point. If I could hold on to the end, then…bonus! I'm sure there had been a significant amount of sub-6min kms and I was continuing to run strong, so I continued with the nutrition strategy and plodded on in the baking heat.

During the last five miles I was yo-yoing with a couple of runners, gradually getting closer and overtaking them. I felt really strong. The volunteers at the last aid station pointed out the finish line but explained I had two miles still to go, an out and back of one mile and I was done.

On the way out along the final stretch, I saw the next runner in front of me. She was returning to the finish line and I concluded I didn't have time to catch her. We waved to each other as we passed. I rounded the final turn, one mile to go. During that last mile, I too saw a few of the runners behind me and we all saluted one another as we passed.

The finish was the usual low-key affair as a handful of volunteers and supporters clapped me in. I hugged Rachael, who'd been fantastic all day and headed for the river, where I stood up to the top of my thighs for the next 30 minutes. Total time of 8h 19mins, 6th overall and 1st in my age group.

The crowd filled finish chute
The crowd filled finish chute

There was a great spread at the end. I tucked in and chatted with other finishers as we waited for the drop bags to return. Great event.

Now this is who you should get a massage from...yikes!
Now this is who you should get a massage from...yikes!

11.10.11

ITU Long Course Recce

I recently spent a week in Vegas on a friend's stag/bachelor party. Knowing that I was returning a month later for the ITU Long Course World Championships and to get out in the fresh air (smoking is allowed in the casinos!), I took my bike so that I could recce the course.

There is a lot of information (some more useful than others) about the course and what to expect, here:

2011 ITU Long Course World Championship website

The 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championship was held on most of the course and useful info can be found here:

Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Lake Las Vegas

Also, YouTube has a collection of useful videos:

Ironman 70.3 World Championships YouTube clips

In addition to this I thought I would upload my own thoughts on the course having done a recce last week.

Swim:

This is a straightforward out and back course, entering from T1 and swimming under the Ravella Hotel arches to the start line. Keeping to the left of the bouys, it's about 1.8km to the first right turn, 225m to the final right turn, then return to the Novella, under the arches and exit on the left with a run around the bottom of the lake in to T1. Flat, non-tidal but could get some wind chop depending on the strength of the wind.

T1:

Not that much to say on top of doing your own walkthrough of entry to your bike station, exit, etc. Quite a sizeable, flat run into transition and a good flat section to get your feet in after the mount line.

Bike:

A small loop around Lake Las Vegas, a climb from the roundabout near T1 all the way up to Lake Mead Parkway. We turn right initially and it would be worth doing a recce of the layout of the tunnel that will take us under the road to avoid making a left hand turn back towards the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Watch out for sand and rocks if it rains
Watch out for sand and rocks if it rains

Underpass to get on to Lake Mead Parkway
Underpass to get on to Lake Mead Parkway

At about 10km you're at the highest point (about 2500ft) of the Lake Mead section, which is a thunderous descent for about 7kms.

Note: The whole lake section is very exposed and susceptible to gusting winds. When I recce'd I was into a head wind (and from the left) going along Lakeshore Road to the first turn point managing about 25km/h in some sections. Then after turn one, with the wind behind me, I was sat up and travelling at 70km/h+. Think Ironman Lanzarote and be prepared to change your kit on race day (make sure you can control that deep section front wheel!). Northshore Road is also exposed, helpful on the way out but after turn point two it was a grind in places.

Wind aside, the two sections around the lake are a time trialer's delight, rolling hills, nothing steep, fast smooth tarmac surface…enjoy. The main drag (which is steady) comes from the bottom of Northshore Road, right back on to East lake Mead Drive and back to Lake Mead Parkway.

Northshore Road descent, climb up to Lake Mead Parkway, Lake Las Vegas (left)
Northshore Road descent, climb up to Lake Mead Parkway, Lake Las Vegas (left)

Now for the interesting bit. We have to join the River Mountains Loop Trail (seriously worth recce-ing this section), something Alexander et al did not have to do during the 70.3 World Championships.

This is a very narrow eight-mile desert section taking us towards Henderson and T2. It has about three or four short sharp climbs early on, some fast descents with sharp corners worth noting, then mainly open and wind exposed long false flat sections. The field should be strung out by this time but bunches could form and passing will be interesting (pick your moments and be vocal, Brits remember that it is 'on your left' over here). Also, if it has rained or rains on race day, sand and stones do get washed on to the course.

These should give you an idea...

Sand on course, first short/steep ascent
Sand on course, first short/steep ascent

Sand on course, fast descent in to sharp left.
Sand on course, fast descent in to sharp left.

Tyre selection...some deep tarmac cracks in places
Tyre selection...some deep tarmac cracks in places

Second short/steep uphill section
Second short/steep uphill section

Fast decent, chicane then third short/steep uphill
Fast decent, chicane then third short/steep uphill

Third short/sharp uphill
Third short/sharp uphill

Steep descent with short/sharp hill
Steep descent with short/sharp hill

Fast descent with chicane, caution: sand on bend
Fast descent with chicane, caution: sand on bend

Very fast descent with sharp left
Very fast descent with sharp left

Pylon alley: Not my idea of a beautiful course
Pylon alley: Not my idea of a beautiful course

Long, long, long straight. If it's windy this will be very slow.
Long, long, long straight. If it's windy this will be very slow.

Take a right off the trail
Take a right off the trail

Trail exit
Trail exit

After the desert section, we join the main roads, which get more and more suburban as we get closer to T2 (the only part that will attract the public's attention).

The course goes along another trail for a short period, roll out the blue matting...

Let's hope they finish the course..! Left on to another trail before a railway crossing
Let's hope they finish the course..! Left on to another trail before a railway crossing

The final section is made up of flats, some gradual inclines/declines, with a notable fast descent at 109kms for about 3.5kms before steadily rising again to the bike finish with plenty of time to get your feet out and spin.

T2 is a 21km drive away from the start and T1, map. Nothing much to add other than to recce as usual.

T2, Henderson Pavilion
T2, Henderson Pavilion

Run:

The most notable thing about the run course is that there is very little flat. We will be running either up or down on about a 2% grade. There is little to no breeze and when I ran it in 36-degree heat, I found it very draining. Don't go out too fast, pace well as the incline and decline will add up over four laps. It doesn't look much at first but it will be interesting to see how it takes its toll on athletes.

First turn out of T2 area on to Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)
First turn out of T2 area on to Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)

Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)
Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)

Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)
Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)

First turn point...it's all uphill back to T2 and towards turn point 2
First turn point...it's all uphill back to T2 and towards turn point 2

Back up Paseo Verde Parkway
Back up Paseo Verde Parkway

Up Green Valley Parkway (as far as you can see and then some) towards turn point 2
Up Green Valley Parkway (as far as you can see and then some) towards turn point 2

Down Green Valley Parkway
Down Green Valley Parkway

Running around a new neighbourhood - it's not going to be the most memorable of run courses, but may attract some spectators other than those you brought with you.

Overall:

A spectacular desert course that will be especially striking to European competitors.

An unusual eight-mile narrow track that will make things interesting.

The weather will be a massive factor on race day (wind and heat) and you will need to choose kit wisely (difficult with excess baggage charges these days).

You will not need a compact on this course. I'm not a strong cyclist and recce'd the course in a large compact chain ring easily. So, 53/39/25 but stronger riders may want to go bigger.

Wheels: If there is high wind, deep dish rear only. No wind, deep dish wheels or disc rear.

Time trial setup, aero helmet, etc. All the wind cheating accessories you own, you will need it on this course.

Plan how you will get to and from T1, T2 and team hotels. Swap mobile numbers with someone staying at the team hotel or the team manager so you don't miss any notices going up on team noticeboards. I once turned up to race and the start time was put back an hour, I wasn't staying in the team hotel so no one told me..!!!

I'm looking forward to the event, have a great race. If you have any questions drop me a line.

22.09.11

Tarantula Trail Training

With the move to San Francisco comes the welcome opportunity to train in a new environment with a better climate, challenging terrain and a variety of different wildlife.

Having settled inland from the City in the East Bay regional town of Walnut Creek, I've been exploring the 20,000-acre Mt Diablo State Park on the bike, with its 10.8 mile summit climb and on foot with various trails going up and around the summit.

Mt Diablo

It was out running on the trails when I stopped to read a local noticeboard.

A sign on a local trail noticeboard
A sign on a local trail noticeboard

Having read this I thought it wise to read up on anything else that I might encounter whilst running around the mountain. Errrrrr…coyotes now seem rather tame when compared to rattle snakes, tarantulas and mountain lions..!

Camera on full zoom...
Camera on full zoom...

Aware that I was losing the light whilst out running the other night, I decided that instead of running the trails back home and risking getting lost, I'd opt for the road. A longer route but easier to navigate home. I thought this was a smart move only to realise that when the park cools down the wildlife seeks the last remaining heat of the day by crawling, creeping and sliding on to the warm tarmac.

Thankfully, I only came across one snake, cuddling a cats-eye in the middle of the road and didn't feel any significantly large crunches under foot thank goodness. I'll set off earlier next time.

30.06.11

Canary triathlon knockout

To give something back to the sport I volunteered at the Canary Wharf Super Series at the end of June. Canary Wharf Triathlon

The evening event took place in the heart of the business district. A series of eliminator heats for international elite athletes and a corporate race.

Triathlon in the heart of London's business district.
Triathlon in the heart of London's business district.

The Wharf was lined with spectators enjoying a pleasant Thursday evening after work drink. The weather threatened but it remain dry, which ensured the crowds stayed in to the evening cheering on the athletes.

Transition - Channel 4 cameras capturing the action
Transition - Channel 4 cameras capturing the action

The Aussies dominated with relatively comfortable wins for Erin Densham in the Women's race and Brendon Sexton in the Men's race. Brits Holly Avil (2nd), Jodie Stimpson (3rd), Aaron Harris (2nd) and Matt Gunby (3rd) put in great performances.

Triathlete Europe Article

The men's final:

The women's final:

I worked in transition guiding athletes out of the swim and on the run course. Because there were a number of quick heats lasting about 30 minutes our main role was to get the bikes out of transition after T2 and in to a holding area for the athletes to pick up later.

Transition - Elite men's holding rack waiting for collection.
Transition - Elite men's holding rack waiting for collection.

The format of the event meant that the action was fast, furious and very entertaining. For me, it was good to work in the heart of transition where a lot of the action was.

All the volunteers were well looked after by British Triathlon with food, drinks and a free event t-shirt. I'd definitely recommend watching or volunteering, a great evening.

12.06.11

Deca Update

Unfortunately, I had to withdraw from the UK Deca Ironman due to a busted achilles (right) that I picked up towards the end of Day 3. Having won the first three days and comfortably leading the event, it was an extremely difficult decision to make.

However, as a coach I think it's important to know when it is time to take the sensible option to preserve yourself for future races. It got to the point where I had to take a lot of painkillers just to get around the course. Masking injuries in this way is never a sensible option and you're only setting yourself up for permanent damage.

Having decided this, I took the bike easier and walked the marathons for the next two days to achieve the quintuple ironman, which is a fantastic achievement I'm very proud of.

I went to the hospital yesterday and they have confirmed a minor rupture to my achilles and said it could take up to 12 months to recover. The pain I am now in when trying to walk is further testimony to the fact that I made the right decision.

Guy's lent me some crutches...
Guy's lent me some crutches...

Anyone who has had to pull out of an event will understand what I went through. I sat in my tent on the morning of Day 6 listening to those (now friends) still left in the deca go down to the lake for the swim. I thought about joining them and lost it when I heard my name being called out by Steve taking the roll call. Thankfully, I had Rachael there to re-assure me (stop me) that I was doing the right thing. If I'd have gone down to the lake that morning I would have seen the pain the others were going through and forced myself to continue. We band of brothers (and sister!)...

Would you believe it..!!!
Would you believe it..!!!

We didn't have a great web link in the New Forest, which made uploading to a daily blog a bit difficult. I do have lots of notes, pictures, videos and experiences to share so I'll put these up over the next few days/weeks as I recover (it'll give me something to do now that I can't train).

05.06.11

Deca Day 3

Day 3

People coming down to support has been fantastic...massive thanks.

Finding things very tough now. Right foot (arch) and left calf very painful. I'm also going to lose a toe nail on my left foot. Compede, ibuprofen and zinc tape.

With Rachael's amazing support, I'm managing my hydration well and yesterday involved lots more stopping for real food unlike the first day. This made me feel better but eats in to your sleep - five hours last night.

It's 4.45, bike needs racking in 30mins then wetsuit on and waddle to the water. The swim is the nicest bit by far as no-one is trying to kick anyone's head in.

The bike is quick if you gun it and I can stay aero for 90% of it. Burley village is deadly and you have to be prepared mantally for all the stops caused by tractors, OAPs, BMW drivers and the wild ponies and cows.

The run is brutal, very little flat and if it ain't uphill it's down which means your feet and knees take a pounding on very uneven ground.

The event is fantastic and the crew can't do enough for us. The course is a different matter and there were big concerns about the drop out rate. People are still finishing at 1.30am..!!! It's that tough.

More soon...

03.06.11

Deca: Here we go...Day 1

Woke up after five hours sleep. Finished my oats and getting the costume on. Bike racking in 30 minutes then down to the lake for a 6am start. Nervous, tired but ready for the off..!

02.06.11

One day to go...

One day to go…

With a car full of kit, nutrition and nerves, Rachael and I drove to Avon Tyrell for ten days that would change our lives forever.

01.06.11

aaaarrrrggghhhhh

Two days to go...

As always you have a long time to prepare and everything is in control but then nerves creep in and it feels like a rush.

During the event:

- you can follow me via a live tracking system.

- if you're coming down to watch contact Rachael on: 07789860937

- if you're driving down the sat nav postcode is: BH23 8EE. There is a car park for visitors. You won't be able to use the main driveway as that will be part of the bike course. Any problems call Rachael and she'll guide you in. BRING PIZZA..!!!

31.05.11

UK Deca Ironman: 3 days to go...

It's getting close...

Great bank holiday weekend, got loads sorted, such as camping equipment, food shopping and starting to box things up ready to load in to the car on Thursday morning, when we intend to set off to the New Forest.

30.05.11

UK Deca Ironman: 4 days to go...

Use it...or, you lose it..!

As a coach, I'm all too aware of an athlete's conditioning and I spent a lot of careful time training for this event.

I've been tapering for about a month now. I built my training up to a final block of eight back-to-back days that included minimum half ironman distances in each discipline.

My concern has been how long to taper without losing the accumulated fitness. In coaching terms - Reversibility.

I decided to take about a month, with shorter more power focused sessions to keep me sharp. I did the TriGrandPrix two weeks out to have one last big full throttle effort. Since then I've been doing more open water swimming, 10-13km runs and joining the Paragon club for low intensity aerobic rides e.g. today's 80km.

80km club ride to turn the legs over
80km club ride to turn the legs over

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30.05.11

CLIF Bar come through...

Wahoo...check out the awesome products CLIF Bar sent me.

I've been training with these products so that I know it won't upset my stomach during the event. They get a big thumbs up. Cheers guys...

I'll use the bars, drink and shots on the bike as well as normal food.

29.05.11

UK Deca Ironman: 5 days to go...

Taking it easy today, visiting family that can't make it down to the New Forest for the event.

Picked up a gas bottle, camping stove and fold out chairs to take down with us.

The event does provide meals but travelling to events in the past has taught me to have your own contingency plan. Managing your own food and eating at times you're used to helps to reduce the stress the body goes through.

For this event, I'm taking all the things I normally eat but choosing the full fat, full salt versions as I'll need to keep these stores topped up throughout the event e.g. normal crisps as opposed to reduced salt, etc.

Here's an example of the things I was eating these weekend...

Increased fat diet...
Increased fat diet...

During ultra endurance events it becomes vitally important to maintain your fat and salt stores. Through the training I've been doing over the winter, I have been conditioning my body to efficiently burn fat as my primary fuel source. This is why I have become so lean.

I've been tracking my weight in the morning and evening (most days). My intention is to aim to be calorie neutral every day i.e. what I burn during each Ironman, I put back in by the time my head hits the camp bed each night.

During the event, as always, my focus will be to maintain a balanced diet and I intend to take additional supplements (Vitamin C, Zinc, a multi-vitamin with iron and cod liver oil) to keep my immune system in order. I don't normally supplement as I get everything I need from managing my diet but this is no ordinary event and this is intended to be an insurance policy/safety net.

I raced the TriGrandPrix at around 66kg. Because I'm not doing the same amount of training I normally do prior to the start of the deca, my weight has increased to 68.7kg this morning 9this will rise to over 70kg by the end of the day. So, I'll probably go in to the deca at around 70kg. It'll be interesting to see what I come out of it weighing...

28.05.11

Open Water Swim Training with Wakefield Triathlon

To keep up with open water training whilst visiting family and friends up North, I contacted a coach/friend at Wakefield Triathlon Club.

The Club runs an open water swim session every Saturday at Pugney's Country Park just off the M1 (Wakefield).

Wade, jump or dive in...
Wade, jump or dive in...

I was very impressed to see about 50 athletes (50:50 members and non-members) of all abilities turn out on a cold, wet, Saturday morning. I was also impressed by the organisation, warm welcome, briefing and safety considerations, including a rib in the water, two binocular armed spotters and walkie talkies.

Open Water Swimming at Pugney's Country Park, Wakefiled
Open Water Swimming at Pugney's Country Park, Wakefiled

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27.05.11

Calendar News: ITV Yorkshire

I did an interview for Yorkshire regional TV news today...I'll upload the clip when they send it to me.

27.05.11

Filming for ITV Yorkshire

Last week, I sent out a news release about the Deca Ironman and ITV Yorkshire got back to me wanting to cover the story for Calendar News.

Friday lunch time was spent filming in Roundhay Park followed by a live studio interview later that afternoon.

They're going to send me the DVD so I'll upload it soon.

27.05.11

Eight days to go

Beginning to taper my training before next Friday. All my big blocks of back-to-back training are complete and there's no point cramming sessions. I won't get any fitter and I'll only risk injury.

I'll be driving up to Leeds to visit family and friends this weekend.

I will do some training but it will only be light. I'll probably join Wakefield Triathlon and go for an open water swim at Pugney's.

25.05.11

UK Deca Ironman: 10 days to go...

The countdown begins…all my big blocks of training are complete and I am tapering before the start next Friday.

The nerves are starting to grow and I am busying myself making the final arrangements (buying tyres, inner tubes, chamois cream, etc.), adding content to the blog (please ask any questions below about the event, preparation, etc.). I even tried to fix the dishwasher to take my mind off things…bad idea..!!!

Now, we wash up by hand...oops!
Now, we wash up by hand...oops!

Because the event is so long I am going to burn a lot of calories. I did a lot of base training on the bike at low intensities throughout the Winter which has conditioned my body to burn fat more efficiently. In ultra endurance events of this kind it is not carbohydrate you need to worry about but eating enough fat. Takeaway pizza is my food of choice. So if you are coming to visit me at the event bring a large pizza, bbq wings, garlic bread and a tub of Haagen-Dazs all I ask is that you do not expect me to share it.

Before big events or key races I get nervous about becoming injured. As well as the money aspect, I have been training over six months for this event and the thought of tripping on a curb, getting stepped on by a large stiletto or being hit in the achilles with a shopping trolley in the supermarket frightens me – all of these have happened in the past. I do not wrap myself in cotton wool but it is on my mind. I do not really get ill so that does not bother me as much. I put that down to a balanced diet and regular exercise.

25.05.11

Deca: Body Management

I am hoping to go in to the deca relatively injury free, how I come out of it is another matter.

I've been very careful in my build up to never push my body too far. Progressive overloading is a valuable coaching practice but knowing when to back off is equally important if you're going to make it to the start line.

Like most people, I get pains in various places but unlike most, I never train on an injury. I've learned over the years that 'running it off' doesn't work and can cost you severely in the long term.

My experience helps me to decide how I should manage an injury e.g. I had an inside left knee issue, which was solved by getting a bike fit (Freespeed), calve pain meant having orthotics made (The Gait Lab), an ITB issue - foam roller and more stretching.

Swimming

I used to suffer with shoulder discomfort but I've since out that down to a bad catch. I've been doing a lot of technique work throughout the Winter an attempt to improve my catch and use my back muscles more than my shoulder muscles. My shoulders haven't been as bad as previous years so either my technique is improving or I'm not swimming enough.

Cycling

During the big blocks of training a couple of months ago, I did a lot of back-to-back bike rides of varying distances and intensities. The main issue I discovered was saddle sores. Apart from being amusing, it's a real concern. In recent rides I've tried all kinds of creams, clothing and saddles. The best saddle I've used is a Cobb V-Flow Max, which was fantastic at the TriGrandPrix. I'm also going to use two pairs of cycling shorts and Assos Cream, which is great.

As you may know, there are a number of considerations to take in to account when setting up your bike. For short races, like sprint and standard distance triathlons, I want the most power possible and I'll suffer some discomfort to get it. In Ironman races and for the deca, comfort and the ability to run off the bike are my main concerns. I will have a road bike as backup (in case of mechanicals or a crash) but I will start the event on my TT bike, which I got Retul fitted by Richard at Freespeed. I raced the TriGrandPrix (92km) in the new position and had one of my best rides to date considering the the amount of wind. Running off the bike was also good. And, I was also happy to find that my shoulders, back and neck felt great the next day.

Running

An obvious concern due to the impact, I always get some issues in a year. What has been niggling me recently is my right hip. Current thinking is that it's down to changing my running shoes between a long distance pair (Saucony Pro Grid Guide) I use for the majority of my training and my preferred racing pair (Newton Distancia S) that I use in events (Paris Marathon and the TriGrandPrix).

To tackle this, I've been doing more focused stretching and some yoga aimed specifically at athletes. I also use a foam roller (for my back, ITB, Quads, hamstrings and calves), tennis ball (for my glutes, ITB and back) and a massage stick (for my quads and calves). All of these will be coming with me to the New Forest.

24.05.11

Open Water Swim Training

Now that the weather and more importantly the water, is getting warmer a few of us are going to Hampstead Ponds for some open water swim training after work.

Open Water Swim Training - Sighting
Open Water Swim Training - Sighting

Last week the temperature was 17C, we lasted about 25 minutes but if you wear two swim caps, neoprene socks/boots and go regularly you can build this up.

It's a great venue...

Hampstead Pond - Mixed
Hampstead Pond - Mixed

Don't expect to find towels, razors and deodorant in the changing rooms...

Changing Area - It's not your local gym..!
Changing Area - It's not your local gym..!

23.05.11

Deca Training - Turbo Sessions

Living in the middle of London means it can be difficult to get out for a quick bike ride.

During periods of my training, I like to do some power sessions. These can be anything from 30 minutes to an hour, including warm-up and cool down and easily fit in to your day.

The problem is I don't have a park nearby and you have to risk life and limb negotiating the impatiently driven city streets to get to some where appropriate for these sessions.

So, you suck it up and jump on the turbo..!

My trainer is a CyclOps Fluid 2 and tend to use training videos, like Spinvervals or Carmichael Training Systems

For my longer rides, I go out with my local cycling club Dulwich paragon.

Winter training is the hardest and when I couldn't go out I'd have to do three hour base training rides on the turbo trainer. This is mind numbingly dull and you have to be committed to your training program to get through these sessions. I've spoken to triathletes from other countries who really respect British athletes for training through our Winter. When you do ultra events motivation is a huge factor and the weather can provide another excuse not to put in the miles.

16.05.11

Deca Swim Course

This is the lake that will host the Deca Swim Course. It will be a square circuit of just over 300m which means 12 laps or 120 laps over the course of the 10 day event.

It's a beautiful course but does have its dangers:

A family of Canadian geese nesting in the swim exit..!
A family of Canadian geese nesting in the swim exit..!

I'm not sure this family of Canadian geese is going to appreciate triathletes thrashing around it's lake.

Canadian geese set off to patrol the swim course
Canadian geese set off to patrol the swim course

15.05.11

Wraysbury Open Water Swim Training

Once upon a time, I'd be asleep at 7am on a Sunday morning the inevitable hangover waiting to pounce. Now, I'm on an early train heading for Wraysbury Dive Centre to coach recreational and triathlete swimmers. Such is the attraction of open water swimming.

I'll be supporting Serpentine swim coach, Stephanie Ellis working with swimmers to improve their open water confidence, safety, sighting, drafting, swimming in a group, turning, entry and exits.

It's very intimidating at first but with time and the right support swimming in fresh non-chlorinated waters makes the Sunday morning effort worthwhile. In fact, I find it difficult to get back in the pool during the week.

If you'd like to try open water swimming at a location around London then drop me a line.

12.05.11

Children have a Right To Play

Like the majority of us, I was fortunate to grow up in a relatively safe and loving environment and nothing made me happier than having a good kick about with my friends.

Unfortunately, not every child growing up today is as fortunate as I was, which is why have chosen to support Right To Play.

Children develop through play
Children develop through play

Right To Play work in 20 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America implementing programs designed to develop basic life skills, prevent diseases, teach conflict resolution and instill hope in children affected by war, poverty and disease.

Earlier this week, I met with them to learn more about their work, meet the UK team and thankfully discover it's not all about football..!!!

I have achieved so much through sport over recent years and believe play is the basic right of every child.

30.04.11

Deca Run Course

The Deca run course is picturesque but 26 laps per day (260 laps for the 10 day duration of the event) may just make this an interesting mental challenge as well.

The run course
The run course

From the run course...nice spot.
From the run course...nice spot.

Run Course
Run Course

Run course
Run course

Run Course
Run Course

Given the size of the grounds in which the event is taking place, I'm a bit surprised that a one mile lap was used. However, with it being a small event (in participant and spectator numbers) it will keep the event tight and support close.

My initial thoughts having just run around the one mile loop:

The course is not without its dangers too, which should make things interesting...

Canadian geese on the run course...they get really annoyed if you try to overtake..!
Canadian geese on the run course...they get really annoyed if you try to overtake..!

As well as the wildlife, there are other obstacles...not quite so large...

Beauty is only fern deep...below this...Enduro marbles..!
Beauty is only fern deep...below this...Enduro marbles..!

Enduro marbles...pack a sweeping brush..!
Enduro marbles...pack a sweeping brush..!

Enduro marbles...close up.
Enduro marbles...close up.

And last, but by no means least...

Oh yeah...and some roots for good measure :-)
Oh yeah...and some roots for good measure :-)

23.03.11

Quality Signage..!!!

Cycle training just off the Great Ocean Road around Torquay (near Bells Beach), I thought this signage was worth a mention.

I like the message of sharing the road...it's a nice idea. However, in the UK, I think we need something stronger reminding drivers that Road Tax hasn't existed since 1937 and that car owners (myself included) pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), which varies according to the emissions produced by the vehicle. Road building and maintenance is financed from other taxation.

So, why are cyclists still hated?

10 reasons to love cyclists

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