Hardcore indoors !!

heart

The above looks like algebra to most people, heck it made no sense to me till I did a bit of research. Yes this is where my training is now at, it involves research. The chart refers to heart rate zones during my exercising with Z1 which corresponds to zone 1 or the lowest level of exertion to Z5 or zone 5 which is an all out lung busting effort. As you can see above I spent 8 minutes in zone 5 with most of this particular session in zone 4 which is still a fairly strenuous zone. I am posting this for my benefit as well as yours because it corresponds with my first session on my newly acquired turbo trainer.

elite

Now forgive the state of my bike which was filthy but I was in such a hurry to use the new elite trainer that I didn’t even clean the bike. Turbo trainers essentially allow you to use your own bike for training sessions without leaving the house which is a serious bonus when the winter weather is as wet and cold as it has been lately. This is a cheaper version of many trainers out there where you simply fasten your bike onto the roller at the back of the trainer which once rolling has a decent inertia. If you have speed and cadence sensors you can monitor these metric as you cycle. I obviously have a watch which measures heart rate which is also very useful.

Now its has to be said trainers like these can range in price from 50 euro to 1500 euro and above. The more you pay the greater the number of features and the greater the accuracy. I have to say my main concern was the level of noise that anecdotally can be quite loud when using these trainers but this has an elastogel roller which means it is very quiet. My trainer isn’t a smart trainer so cant communicate with my computer as the more expensive versions can. This means when using an online application like the incredibly popular Zwift the resistance doesn’t automatically change. This feature have been very useful but it would have involved another 200 euros of an outlay and I couldn’t justify it at this time.

ride

When used in concert with my garmin 735XT watch which has a heart rate monitor and the speed and cadence sensors, the ride looks something like this above. Its interesting to see how over the course of the 20 km cycle my heart rate steadily increases over the first ten minutes and then maintains a peak of 160 plus over the remainder of the ride. This ride felt intense but judging by my average heart rate it was less intense than the last equivalent indoor bike ride in the gym so I’ll have to tweak things as I go. the good news is I still had more gears to go on my bike so a ramping up of intensity is possible. (The gears on your bike are what adds intensity and difficulty to your cycle).

Overall I was very pleased with the performance of the trainer, which will absolutely become an invaluable part of my training arsenal. I bought my for 133 euro which was really a steal. The benefit of using any kind of trainer is that it enables you to train more efficiently. Instead of having to suit up and head out into the traffic which invariably slows you down while enduring the cold, dark evenings, all I have to do now is hop on the bike once I’ve installed it in the trainer. I complete mysession and then its straight into the shower. There is simply no lost time and no stoppages for traffic lights and the obvious dangers that come with traffic. Now, I’m not saying I will forgo all outdoor cycling, not at all, but this trainer will allow me to complete focused targeted sessions which should bring me along as a cyclist.

Even if you aren’t especially a cycling or a triathlon enthusiast turbo trainers are a great way to stay in shape because you’ll find that fairly quickly you’ll work up a serious sweat and all in the comfort of your own abode. Actually that reminds me, I must buy a fan to help me cool down during a session.

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Just plugging away !!!!

trainer

So we are half the way through January already I’ve racked up about 10 days training so far mixing it up both indoors and outdoors. Its a challenge at this time of year to keep yourself motivated purely because there are so few hours of daylight. What certainly doesn’t help are the inclement weather conditions, in fact right now it’s snowing outside, not exactly inviting conditions for a cycle or run.

So far this year I’ve cycled 130 km, run 10km (my run mileage is generally low and on grass to protect against calf / shin injuries) and 10 km swimming. I have decided to up my cycling mileage as I feel it is the area I can see they greatest potential for improvement, certainly as far as reducing my time is concerned. You see, you will spend most of your time in the saddle during the course of triathlon. I am training for a sprint triathlon which comprises a 750 metre swim, 20 km cycle and a 5 km run and of the three disciplines I could spend 30 – 35 minutes on the bike depending on the topography of the route. The swim would take me 15 mins at most and the run 20 mins at most, so it stands to sense that if I can improve my bike time I can certainly make the biggest inroads into lowering my overall time.

Much of my bike training has been indoors in recent times because of the wet, wind and cold temperatures. I have actually been considering buying a smart trainer, pictured above which allows me to rain my bike without leaving the house. It has become very popular amongst triathletes because it offers a time efficient way of training in the comfort of your home, so you can log your mileage on the bike, without faffing around in traffic and safely away from buses, lorries and cars. There is also the ability to hook the trainer up to the internet and race virtually against other cyclists around the world. This feature in particular intrigues me as it might help to negate the boredom that inevitably accompanies a long time sweating in the saddle.

So I need to look into purchasing a trainer and quickly while it can still be of use during the dark days of winter. Swim training also continues unabated. I have modified my sessions to include sets of 50s and 100s, swimming 50s off 60 seconds, meaning each set must be completed within 60 seconds before snatching a couple of seconds rest and doing it again. 100s are off 2 mins. The sets are lung-bustingly exhausting but absolutely necessarily if I am to begin to swim faster. I have learned that swimming long distances at a steady pace is absolutely no good for anything other than promoting endurance. You really have to train fast to swim fast in competition, and this maxim goes for running and cycling too. You might remember I bought a swim snorkel a few weeks back, well I have been using it during my drills sessions purely to allow me to perfect my swim technique and it definitely helps focus on particular parts of my stroke.

Run training is always delicate affair primarily because I seem to have delicate calves which affects my shins, so am continuing to run on grass even though it’s muddier these days. I have decided I need to get someone to examine my biomechanic when running and examine whether I have the correct footwear. There is the possibility that I made need special insoles or orthotics to help me run and avoid injury in the medium term.

I am also trying to incorporate more strength and conditioning work as well as stretching, the benefits of which have been well and truly signposted for me at this stage. So we are ticking along putting in the unglamorous miles in the hope it pays off when the days are a heck of a lot warmer and longer !!

If you are struggling for motivation check out my video below for some top tips.

Motivation made easy

mot 3

Motivation can be elusive at the best of times. Sometimes you just don’t feel like you are in the zone and the very last thing you want to do is the thing you probably should do. At the start of the new year it might help to give you three tips to help you with that motivation and keep you honest in your endeavours in the year ahead.

One, set out your goals. You can have minor and major goals but clearly define them. They give you a target to aim for. The minor goals also are easier to achieve along the way and as you do it gives you the momentum, impetus and confidence to stay true to your ultimate goal.

Two, write down your goals and keep them in plain view as a daily reminder of what your purpose is. If they are unavoidable then you are more likely to stick to task at hand.

Three, tell people. If you share your goals / aims with others you will hold yourself more accountable and be less inclined to fail. Sharing your aims is a perfect way to keep you motivated as it makes your commitment to achieving a goal official and makes you accountable.

Make a change ?

Screenshot_2018-01-02-09-47-10~2

Happy new year folks hope you had a blast over the holiday season. So its January second and a time when people reappraise their goals and ambitions for the year ahead. Thankfully I didn’t take too long away from my training routine but even the 10 days I afforded myself meant that it was a struggle to get back in the fitness saddle again. The first session on the bike last week was pure pain so I can fully appreciate the difficulty people have when embarking on a new fitness regime or indeed anything new. The pain and discomfort are real and very off putting, in fact any change away from the habitual is discomfiting and a real shock to the system.

Given the time of year and my own inner reflections about what lies ahead over the next 12 months I was spurred to dig out an old copy of a book I bought in the departure lounge of Dublin airport almost ten years ago. It was a copy of Who moved my cheese and it’s central message is one of embracing change. The book uses a parable to illustrate in almost childlike terms it’s lesson that fear and discomfort must be embraced for change to occur in your life. Indeed quite often the perceived fear limiting us is often worse than the reality that transpires if we only actually choose to grasp life by the nettle and strive to improve our lot.

Nothing worth doing comes easy and that is so very true, certainly when I reflect on my triathlon adventures so far but it’s so very much worth it. If we continue to live in our comfort zones avoiding change and challenge we will certainly be safe and comfortable but in time that can eat away at you especially when you look beyond yourself and the potential that lies beyond your own cosy horizon.

Feel the fear and do it anyway as the saying goes and as it says in the book (reviewed below) move with the cheese and you’ll be a lot happier.