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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.

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