Festive fitness challenge


Well its almost that time of year again can you believe it. Haven’t posted too frequently in recent weeks purely because there hasn’t been that much going on. I have literally just been focusing on winter training which can be a tad monotonous in the dark, cold, damp winter evenings.

I have had calf issues in recent months which cut short my season and while I have been extra scrupulous about run training such that I don’t aggravate any pre-existing scar tissue I did feel some pain in my left lower leg so have eased off on the running for the moment. This has allowed me to focus on swimming and cycling, both of which are happening indoors solely because its too sodding cold and dangerous to partake in either pursuit outside. Particularly in relation to the bike it just is alot safer to cycle on the watt bike in the gym instead of piling on loads of layers and lights while attempting to negotiate pre Christmas traffic. Getting on the watt bike is much more time efficient and it means I can get into the gym, get my training done and get out within an hour.

I have been pretty happy with my indoor bike sessions of late. I am doing two forms of bike sessions, the first where I use intervals to help me cycle 20km as fast as I can. The 20km is the distance I would ordinarily cycle in a sprint triathlon. The intervals I refer to involve cycling hard at about 270 watts for 30 – 50 seconds before easing off for 10 – 30 seconds, I continue this pattern of intervals every minute until I have cycled 20km. When I first started this form of interval training on the indoor bike a year ago 20km was taking me 46 mins and I struggled to reach 170 watts. Now it takes me just over 38 minutes and I am averaging 244 watts over the 20 km. Wattage is an important metric for cyclists, it relates purely to the amount of power you are putting through the pedals, the more power the faster you will go. If I can continue to improve my average wattage it will hopefully reflect itself in my results next season.

I am also considering acquiring a couple of pieces of training equipment to allow me to train on my own bike without leaving the house. How can you do that I hear you ask ? Well by sing one of these …



This is a smart trainer. You slot your bike onto a roller which creates resistance against which you cycle. The beauty about this kind of trainer is that it can communicate with software on your computer so that it mimics a variety of terrains as it automatically alters the rolling resistance. So you can be cycling on your bike in the living room yet be ascending the Alps, only without the frostbite!! Online software programs like Zwift allow you to race some of the most famous cycling routes in the world and they even allow you to race other cyclists at the same time which adds a whole new dimension to winter indoor cycle training and alleviates the boredom. The software in conjunction with the smart trainer give you metrics like cadence, speed and power output and allow you to cycle the same route repeatedly such that you can compare performance improvements over time. The only catch is I need to also buy a power meter to attach to my bike for accurate power output readings. The smart trainer and power meter together will cost about 550 euro but they are an investment worth getting I believe.

Aside from interval sessions on the bike I have been doing longer endurance sessions also purely to clock up hours on the bike which is never a bad thing. These sessions would be less intense at a wattage of 180 roughly and would last up to 2 hours. Some lunatics training for a full ironman distance of 180km actually spend 5 – 6 hours on their smart trainers !!!!!! Talk about a sore ass !!!

Swimming training continues although I missed my swim session last Friday as I had to attend a festive gathering. I had however been earlier on in the week and have tried out my new snorkel. My first impressions are that it will take getting used to. I am also glad that I bought a nose clip because when you breathe through the mouth you invariably take some water in through your nose when your head is submerged. The whole practice of swimming and breathing without lifting your head to the side to actually breathe felt a bit disconcerting initially and actually still does but with time it’ll become second nature I’m sure. What the snorkel does allow me to do is to focus on my swim technique which as I’ve said before is darned tricky but worth the time and energy investment.

What is apparent is that I need to swim both interval sessions and longer distance endurance sessions ( as is the case with cycling and running) for me to swim my race distance of 750m faster. In fact I stumbled upon this conclusion when I did indeed swim my fastest 750 m split in just over 14 minutes, so I delighted with that. If I continue going the way I’m going I should see significant improvement in the water and on the bike in the coming months.

The challenge for the moment though will be to negotiate the festive season and copious amounts of mince pies such that come January 1st I can still physically throw one leg over the cross bar of my bike 🙂

While you’re here check out my video from an international Triathlon competition I attended in September.