Terrifying Tri Sessions …

pumpkin

Well strictly speaking tri sessions are rarely if ever terrifying, I’m just hijacking the whole Halloween theme … any excuse !!

Tri sessions are tough though especially the coached sessions. I may have mentioned that I had recently joined a coached triathlon swim group that meets weekly in Belvedere College in the city centre and boy are those sessions something to scream about. Last week’s session left me exhausted but in a good way . Indeed the whole concept and execution of a tailored and focused swim session is a new one to me and while daunting and physically taxing it is absolutely the way to go if you are going to progress. Really till now I had an unstructured training regime in the pool and my times definitely showed that. If you want to swim faster in competition then you have to train faster. This applies to swimming, cycling and running. Only being new to the sport I had taken a more pedestrian approach so far. In fact I am still getting used to the whole concept of physical discomfort when exercising which so something seasoned athletes even at amateur level embraced early in their sporting careers. The saying goes, its about being comfortably uncomfortable, once you accept that and embrace it mentally, your body will do the rest. Its mind over matter.

Certainly in these recent swim sessions it has been a serious case of embracing physical discomfort for the sake of eeking out a extra second here or there. By virtue of being in a group environment with a coach giving instructions from the side  I do find myself flirting with that discomfort and finding I can tolerate it, certainly more so than I have done when swimming solo. Indeed there’s nothing especially innovative about these coached sessions, they constitute a warm up and a main body of 12 sets of 100 metres (each hundred must be completed as quickly as possible plus a 15 second rest) off 2 mins 15 seconds. It isn’t exactly the quickest pace in the world but it is a starting point and taxes me from a cardiovascular standpoint, to such an extent that there’s the slightest hint of dread at the thought of the next session …. it’s the anticipation that is the only real thing that terrifies 🙂

pumpkin 2

Aside from a couple of pool sessions, I also recorded a PB on the watt bike in the gym with which I was most pleased and sweaty, cycled to Bray and back without getting a puncture and ran a 6km on grass in Bushy Park, 2 km of which were under 4 minutes and given my recent calf trouble I was delighted with that, so it has been a productive week.

I also had time to put together a new video, check it out below:

Oh and finally Happy Halloween 😉

Advertisements

Frustrated, any ideas ?

swim kona

As I write this the country is bracing itself for the imminent arrival of tropickm al storm Ophelia. While I has pleased to have been sent home early from work as much of the country shuts down ahead of the storm’s landfall, I find myself frustrated as all of the sporting facilities I would use on a regular basis have closed early for the day. So today will probably see a little bit of core work in the form of planking which is about as much as I can realistically manage in the circumstances.

I can report I have joined a new swim group which will see some targeted coaching which might help to point me further in the right direction as far as enhancing my swim efficiency is concerned and by extension my swim speed. All the swimmers in the group who will meet on a weekly basis in the pool at Belvedere College (a pool I wasn’t even aware existed) are triathletes with varying levels of swimming proficiency. It has to be said that I would be in the weakest group which was of no surprise to me. The session comprised a 500 metre warm up followed by a series of descending 50s where we had to complete 2 laps of the 25 metre pool in ever quicker times with a few seconds rest in between. All in all we swam about 2000 metres which is a minimum distance for any swim training session.

I had recently acquired a nose clip which I started off the session using. Just to explain, I had started to experience sneezing fits in the aftermath of each swim session. I blame the fact that I abandoned all indoor swimming throughout the summer in favour of familiarising myself with the open water swimming experience primarily because all my races were out door and I just wanted to experience the adventure of it., also pool swimming can be incredibly dull if thats all you are doing. The sneezing and general head cold symptoms after each swim session recently are down to an acquired allergy to chlorine unfortunately. I think the summer layoff actually would have contributed to the immune response. I had tried putting vaseline inside my nose to protect the mucous membranes which are being aggravated by the chlorine, but to no effect. After having done some cursory research I bought a nose clip which had good reports in this instance. Now while I did use the clip during the swim session in Belvedere college, it might have been a mistake as I wasnt quite used to it and found it tricky to focus on the new mode of breathing it enforced. So i took the clip off after only a few laps as I attempted to concentrate on the stroke improvements that were being recommended to me by the coach. Alas within minutes of getting out of the pool I was sneezing again,but I need to see if I can get used to the swim clip and if it works.

kona

While I was struggling with chlorine induced sneezing, on the other side of the world in Hawaii the best triathletes in the world were competing in the World Ironman championships in a place called Kona, incidentally the birthplace of triathlon in the late 70s. While I’m a triathlon novice, only competing in the sprint distance format, Kona competitors were enduring the full rigours of an ironman in the intense heat and high winds of the island of Hawaii. So whereas a sprint distance triathlon comprises a 750 metre swim, a 20 km cycle and a 5 km run, an ironman involves swimming 3.9km, biking 180 km and then running a full marathon. While it takes me about 1 hour 12 mins currently to complete a sprint triathlon, the winning athletes in Kona will be crossing the line after 8 hours with the vast majority of athletes taking much longer, even up to the cut off point of 17 hours. It is the ultimate test in the sport of triathlon both from a physical and mental standpoint. I applaud them as I shake my head in disbelief but I think I’m happy enough with suffering over the short term.

Incidentally if you have advice regarding my chlorine allergy situation feel free to comment below. And while you’re here check out some exercise tips in my latest video:

What’s a brick session?

Greetings folks, hope you’re having a great week. Delighted to say training is going well at he moment. I have resumed a running programme after having endured almost two months of a lay off due to a very stubborn calf strain.

I had acquired a twinge which at the time I thought was a cramp in my calf. It had occurred during a brick session. Now a brick session is where you run immediately after getting off the bike, this is in order to replicate the physiological demands you would experience during an actual triathlon. Chief amongst these physiological demands would be the recruitment of different muscle fibres. Cycling and running while both using the legs, do so in different ways and consequently blood volumes must be shunted to different muscles to serve demand. There is also the differing cadence between both disciplines which again requires adaptation and this is the reason behind doing brick sessions.

That last time I did a brick session I must have over extended myself resulting in a layoff, a frustrating one at that. That however is the conundrum athletes find themselves in on a daily basis as they skirt that fine line between challenging themselves and overstepping the mark.

This week marked my return to brick sessions (see video below) albeit gingery. There is still a little bit of tightness in my calf so I’m running exclusively on grass and only up to 3km at a 4 minute per kilometre pace, which is about 30 seconds slower than my best race pace. It is going well so far, fingers crossed.

Before I go a quick review of some new biking gear I recently acquired, neoprene gloves.

 

IMG_20171011_073414These gloves really caught my eye when I saw them in Aldi so I thought I’d spend the fiver and see how they were. The good news is,  do far so good. The neoprene material from which they are made is the same material the lining of wetsuits is made of so straight away they offer a degree of water resistance over and above that provided by regular cycling gloves which on wet days is ideal. It will be interesting to see if they can provide insulation from the cold also, I will keep you posted. Till then happy training!  🙂

A world of pain :(

Greetings, hope you’re having a fab week and thanks for stopping by, if you’re here for my video its at the bottom of the page. So we’re almost at the weekend, I’m stating the obvious I know but its for my benefit in that the weekends are generally down time exercise wise for me. Now the triathlon season has ended, the hard work of enhancing my fitness levels and skills in cycling, swimming and running commences in earnest. But the season has just ended I hear you and sometimes myself say!! But that’s exactly it, the season never really ends, not when it comes to fitness and being active, which I suppose is one of my main motivations for taking up triathlon in the first place.

Very often we see new fitness fads and crazes geared towards reaching a specific goal in the space of several months, but they lack one crucial truth in their short termism. That truth for me is that fitness is a lifelong pursuit. You don’t just get fit for the summer or get fit for the sun holiday or a wedding, because if you do then once that special occasion has passed you no longer have an incentive to stay fit.

In my case I saw a photo of myself on holiday 17 years ago and I wasn’t in the best shape, in fact I cringed when I saw it and I promised myself there and then I’d start working out and never return to being out of shape. I knew I looked out of shape and I felt out of shape. that photo confirmed it and in doing so did me a huge favour because literally every week since then for the last 17 years I have made time to work out. At various stages I lifted weights, cycled, swam, played football and started running, either way I have hardly missed a week since then. I’ve probably done over 1000 sessions and burned 1 million calories in that time, maybe more. The long and the short of it, is that I have just kept going, week in and week out with the overarching purpose of just remaining in good healthy shape. I think if people subscribe to the notion that fitness is for life then that is half the battle.

IMG_20170929_165356.jpg

Which brings me back to the triathlon off season. At the moment I’m probably working out about 4 times a week. Depending on the weather I’ll get outside and go for a ride on the bike once or twice a week but if I can’t then its straight to the gym to grab one of the bikes in the picture.

Now I have mixed feelings when I see this bike because I know while it enables me to get fitter, it comes with a price called pain. This is a watt bike, which means it shows you your power output which is measured in watts. Power output in cycling is crucial and is probably more important than speed, primarily because your speed will vary based on the topography of the countryside you’re cycling through. Power output however is a pure undiluted measure of how much force your legs are putting through the pedals. It goes without saying the more power you can cycle with the faster you will go. The catch is the only way to increase your average power is to push yourself to the point of discomfort and then remaining there. It sounds masochistic I know but its about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and mentally accepting it. That’s in part what differentiates those who really perform on the day and those who dont.

The idea is that if you train to the point that you are challenging yourself physically and mentally, then this state becomes familiar to you and you accept it. That mental acceptance and enhanced physiological performance then will hopefully mean you can perform under pressure at a higher level on the day of a race. That’s the idea at least.

I’m pretty new to the watt bike. my average watt / power over 40 mins of a 20km cycle is 210 watts.. so its that power output that I’m trying to improve. So it looks like I’ll be seeing a lot of that bloody bike in the coming months !!

Hey thanks again for reading, my blog has now officially surpassed the total number of views I got in the entirety of last year , some I’m delighted with that. Hey check out my latest youtube video too !!