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The London Triathlon in aid of Cancer Research

Cancer Research UK
Just Giving


Part two, base training

To read from the start of this article use the drop down menu above or click HERE

They say the end of the year in the triathlon world is time for reflection and consolidation. A time to look back on the year that's been and plan for the season ahead, to work on the weaknesses and hold on to the strengths. Obviously this is all wasted on me as there isn't much to look back on, just a few months of some fat bloke struggling along. I played along anyway and put some thought it. The dark nights have definitely affected my training schedule. I'm no longer cycling three times a week and the Sunday ride is now cold, wet and miserable. Cycling on the turbo is OK but boring and it doesn't seem right to use it instead a ride around the block. Swimming should be unaffected but getting up and going out while it's cold and dark is much harder. Running seems fine as I'm not doing it for more than 20 minutes at a time, not really long enough to get too cold, but it's definitely my weakness with swimming coming a very close second. I'm able to cycle fine but it's not fast enough but, they say, this isn't the time of the year to build on speed, that's the spring time. This is the time for technique and endurance.

Heart Rate

If you want your training to be structured you'll need a heart rate monitor (HRM). It will display your heart rate (HR) while training so you'll know what zone you're in. As you train harder you'll move into new heart rate zones and your body will change the way it fuels the muscles being used.

Zone One 50-60% of Maximum HR, baseline zone, maintain health. This is the bottom exercise zone. It's achieved by walking briskly and although you will get healthier in this zone you're unlikely to get much fitter. A good first step for the couch potato.

Zone Two 60-70% of Maximum HR, temperate Zone, loose weight. Achieved by slow jogging or brisk hill walking. About 85% of energy for the muscles is taken from your fat reserves so this is a good zone for people who wish to loose weigh but aren't worried about ultimate fitness and endurance.

Zone Three 70-80% of Maximum HR, aerobic zone, increase stamina. In this zone your fuel is 50/50 fat and carbs and you will notice your body developing. Heart increases in size, respiratory system and lung capacity improve and blood vessels increase in amount. An important zone to develop for the endurance athlete.

Zone Four 80-90% of Maximum HR, anaerobic zone, maintain high fitness. Reached by going hard. Fuel is almost totally carbs and you have a limited supply of them so you can't stay in this zone for long, usually about an hour. Blood can't supply sufficient oxygen to keep this level going. High muscle development and improved fitness levels.

Zone Five 90-100% of Maximum HR, red line, maintain superb fitness. Going all out, maximum effort. Can only stay in this zone for a few minutes as the muscles are producing more lactic acid than the blood can take away. Not a popular training zone as risk of injury is increased and pain from lactic acid.

So looking back turned out to be a good idea and I've changed the schedule to get cycling again and work on swimming and running. There's more training on the new one and a few new things in there too. The idea is to stop going all out in every training session, give the heart a rest from intensive workouts and introduce heart rate zones to train in. You shouldn't have two consecutive difficult days and definitely have a whole day off from training. The long sessions become a reduced effort training day where I can slow down and not worry about the clock, look at what I'm doing and build endurance. Make sure everything is running smooth, especially in swimming as technique is where the speed will eventually come from. Easy run is just to give the muscles a stretch and keep them developing for that discipline, doesn't have to be very far and should be easy. The other two new things are brick and gym. The gym is to build strength (but not bulk) in the other muscles not being used in training so the opposing muscle can cope, also develop muscles for swimming. Brick sessions are cycling then running straight after, to get used to it. Running doesn't have to be that far afterwards, just enough to get into a rhythm. I'm planning on working up to the new schedule and not just jump straight in. Hopefully get into the full swing of it in about two to three weeks.

Remember, this is in aid of Cancer Research and you can donate to them online by clicking the 'Just Giving' logo above or the thermometer on the left. You can also view others who have sponsored me.

Here goes, part two...

SwimNovember 03:
Using up odd holiday days to swim on a Tuesday afternoons is helping a lot. The pool is almost empty and I'm not in a rush so there's plenty of time to think about what I'm doing. Not only has the distance increased but I'm now able to swim 100 metres of front crawl without gasping for air. I noticed that if I don't kick hard I don't get out of breath, obvious really but it took me a while to figure it out. I've bought a pull buoy (sort of shaped foam float thingy) to put between my legs so I don't have to kick at all. That'll help me strengthen my upper body and make the whole process of swimming easier. I shouldn't really be using my legs that much, just for balance, as I'll need them for the other bits of the race. Towards the end of the month I had a breakthrough session where I managed to string it all together and swim 3200 metres (two miles) non-stop. Speed isn't that bad either, took around 90 minutes. The only down side was really bad stomach cramps as I got out the pool. Not sure why, could be de-hydration through sweat, something I ate or wind from gulping air. I'll have to work it out.

December: I've made a deliberate attempt to hydrate properly the day I go for a long swim and I've not had trouble with cramp so that must've been the problem. I've been working on technique a lot more, reading about arm entry, catch and stroke and trying to put that all into practice. I can feel more effort going into my under water arm movements and that's improved my speed a bit and is making me stronger. I swam 4000m (2.5 miles) at the start of the month and wasn't that tired afterwards. That's longer than a full Ironman swim (can you see a plan forming?). I start with Bromley Swimming Club masters swimmers on Jan 4th, looking forward to that but a bit nervous about it too. I've also bought the 'Total Immersion, Swim Faster' book. Read the first four chapters and put some of that into practice and me speed has increased! For the first time I've ever gone under one metre/second and used less that one stroke/metre. If I can sustain that for the 1500 metre swim it'll clock in at 25 minutes which is brilliant. I'd be very pleased with that.

January 04: On the first Sunday of the year I started swimming with Bromley Swimming Club. After a couple of hours swimming I'd been corrected on my arm position, arm speed, head angle and leg kick. It's amazing, I've been swimming for six months and within two hour swimming was feeling easier and a bit more organised. There's still plenty of work to do but I feel I'm getting somewhere, rather than just increasing distance. Later in the month I managed another long swim, 4000 metres (2.5 miles). I think I'm concentrating on swimming too much, however, at the expense of the other events!

BikeNovember 03:
Emphasis has moved away from cycling and it doesn't seem to take much of my time anymore. The long Sunday ride is difficult because of the cold. Doesn't seem to matter how many layers I wear it still gets through. Cold can be dangerous as the body pulls blood to the centre to keep it warm leaving your muscles without fuel. The first long ride of the new schedule was too long, rode for 3 hours 20 minutes and covered 44 miles. My heart rate monitor (HRM) said I used 2500 calories which is the whole days food intake. Luckily I took sports drinks with me but I could feel myself getting slower in the last 10 miles. The turbo session is a very sweaty hour, I start with a 10 minute warm up then cycle at 140bph on the HRM for 20 minutes, then 150bph for 15 minutes and 160bpm for 10 minutes, going up a gear on each stage to end up in top. That gives a nice resistance on the pedals and makes the last 10 minutes a struggle. Finish the session off with a 5 minute warm down to make the hour. The web site I stole that from said it'll build stamina!

Cervelo Team SoloistDecember: My cycle distance has dropped a lot this month as the weather is stopping me going out. I turned around and came back home one Sunday as it was so cold. Feet, hands, head and face all lost feeling and it wasn't much fun so I called it off. I'm lucky if I get one good ride in a week at the moment but I'm using that spare time to work on running which is still my weakest sport. I'll have to do a lot more Turbo training but that's so boring!

January 04: Exciting month, I've ordered a new bike and collect it on the 17th. That should put the enthusiasm back into riding! I've ordered a road bike as the mountain bike is too slow and harder to ride. I could have bought a dedicated triathlon bike but following the advice of the shop (Sigma Sport) and other triathletes it seems that tri bikes are harder to ride up hill, don't handle so well and are less comfortable. As I'm planning to use the bike for training and racing it seems a good idea to sacrifice a little speed in the race for overall comfort. Got the bike and went for a first ride today of 3.5 hours and it's very nice. Got to the top of the road three minutes faster than my PB and I wasn't trying to go fast!

RunNovember 03:
Running is slowly becoming tolerable and bits are complaining less. I've noticed that the initial part of the run is easy, followed by a really difficult spell then it sort of settles down into a steady rhythm where I feel I could continue for longer. I'm deliberately keeping the run to around three miles (about 20-25 minutes) until bits stop aching. Main ache areas are the arches on my feet, the inside area of my knees and balls of my feet. Apparently the knee thing is a bunch of tendons stretching and getting used to running and the foot thing is all perfectly natural for a new runner. It's definitely the hardest of the three events.

December: Because of the cold I've started using the tread mill at the gym. What a weird thing that is, I keep getting the feeling that I'm about to fall over forwards and I'm told by my friends at TriTalk that it's because there's no wind as there is when running outside and I should run slightly uphill on the tread mill to compensate. That did the trick but it's still a bit weird. Definitely worth it though as you don't get cold and it's a controlled environment so I can time myself accurately and compare from run to run. I upped the distance from my 25 minute run (6.5k) to 8.5k which was taking about 40 minutes. I run that three times in a week and it made my knees sore so I took a couple of days off then upped it again to 10k (race distance) and run that three times in a week. Strangely, the knees were fine with that! The time is just under an hour and it seems like a long way to run. For the third 10k run I did it straight after a 1600m swim (44 minutes). The run was very difficult and tired me out. Because I'd hydrated for the swim I had a problem with wanting to pee during the run, maybe I drank too much. All valuable knowledge that I need to know.

January 04: During the Christmas break I sprained my ankle. I was happily running on the tread mill and shortly after the 6k point of a 10k run my left foot gradually felt a little sore just under the outside of my ankle. I decided to stop for a while to see if it went and within 5 minutes it was really painful and I couldn't put my weight on it. I RICE'd (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) it and after a week it was almost better, just very slightly sore when standing. Once I started running again another injury sprung up, the tendons that run down the back of the knee started clicking over each other while running, very unpleasant. I went for physio because it felt like something was about to go badly wrong. He said I have a knot in my hamstring that's shortening the muscle sufficiently to make those two tendons rub over each other. He said if I didn't go for physio the muscle would've eventually torn! He 'massaged' it and has given me stretches to do. After about a week of stretching I went for a gentle 4k run and although it was tight it wasn't clicking. On further stretching and running it eased a bit more and is now no longer a problem. I'm putting it down to being over keen and increasing the distance too fast. I've got to listen to my body!

For part three, click HERE

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