Showing posts from September, 2007

I Wouldn't Be Doing A Triathlon

Recently I had a colleague who is very into cycling ask me how she can improve her running. In the past she has told me she couldn't imagine herself running, but obviously things change. While asking for some ideas on how she could improve the running side of things over the next few months she also mentioned that she would not be doing a triathlon.

I am unconvinced.

Based on my own experiences as an athlete and coach I have met many people making similar statements. Why on earth would you just throw in the line that there is no way you would do a triathlon? To me it suggests you have been thinking about it. Most of these people have ended upcompleting at least one triathlon.

It takes me back to how I got started doing this multisport thing. I had spent a year taking my distance running quite seriously when I became injured. I can't remember exactly what the injury was, but it did involve a few weeks off my feet. My sister suggested I should head down to the local pool and try so…

No Sweat

So what do you do when you have a couple of weekdays off work and training?

You become the dogs favourite person after taking him for extended walks.Sleep in until 8 o'clock and somehow feel like you have wasted the day.Decide you are going to be very productive and do a whole lot of house work.Realise how little house work you actually do when the other half comes home.Because you now have so much time, you lose all time management skills.Decide it would be nice to go shoe and dress shopping with the wife.Wonder why you went shoe and dress shopping after the line, "Of course I'm not going to try it on today. I'm just not in the mood."Discover how much time facebook can waste.Since the criteria is not to sweat, come up with a weights routine focusing on strength that will hurt, but not induce sweating.Stress that you are going to lose every bit of fitness gained over the last few months of training.In the end, realise that you actually needed a couple of easy days…

Letting It Heal

I'm into kind of a forced recovery week. I have to take a couple of days off training overall, plus I'll be about 10 days out of the pool. Not because of injury or illness. The reason is I just had some more inkwork done. Yesterday afternoon I sat down for a bit over four hours to have a permanent tribute to my still born daughter tattooed to my arm and shoulder. I am very happy with the result.

"First of all there will appear to you, swifter than lightning, the luminous splendor of the colorless light of Emptiness, and that will surround you on all sides. ...Try to submerge yourself in that light, giving up all belief in a separate self, all attachment to your illusory ego." - Tibetan Book of the Dead

Down Time

Trying to fit in work, training, family and other life commitments has the tendency to take up more time than I sometimes anticipate. One question I often ask myself is, does writing this blog take up too much time? The short answer is no.

The longer answer is only if I don't let it. In fact, I find it probably it streamlines the time I put into planning training. By writing down my thoughts and plans I find I don't spend as much time thinking about them when I should be focussing on other things.

So when do I do most of my writing? When I'm at work during some down time. That down time has not existed recently and as a result I am writing a bit less. After all, my primary goal is to continue training and meet my other commitments. I've been a bit time poor over the last few days, but I have still been training, and training well. The current phase is going well.

Go hard, train smart, be safe.

Training And Fat - Part 2

How do we train to enhance fat oxidation?

The simple answer seems to be to do a lot of training in the intensity zone of 55-75%VO2max, based on where the levels of fat oxidation are highest. Many athletes and coaches have advocated training at this level. Gordo Bryn and Mark Allen both have their guidelines that essentially achieve this. The problem I see is that this is a very large range of intensity to train at, and begs the question of are there important differences within this zone? To put it another way, does training at 55%VO2max give a different result to training up near 75%VO2max?

The answer depends a lot on your current fitness level and fat oxidation abilities. Less fit means lower fat oxidation. A perfect example of developing the ability to utilise fat as a fuel throughout a career is Mark Allen. Over a fifteen year career, he has documented the speed at which he runs what he terms is maximal aerobic speed. Over the years he increased this speed from 4:05/km to 3:19/km. S…

Training And Fat - Part 1

Continuing on from It's All About Fat And Sugar, I thought it was time to address how training affects the use of carbohydrates (CHO) and fats during exercise. In order to understand the intent of training a few simplified concepts need to be understood. Exercise intensity influences the contribution that CHO and fat have in fueling exercise. The cross-over concept outlines that there is a certain exercise intensity at which fat and CHO both contribute 50% of the energy required. Below this point the majority of energy is from fat, and above this intensity the majority of energy is from CHO as demonstrated in the graph below.

This cross-over point occurs somewhere between 40-55%VO2max depending on a number of factors, this is often the intensity recommended as the so-called fat burning zone. Unfortunately it is a case of a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It needs to be remembered that the total amount of energy from all sources increases as exercise intensity increases. …

Exploding Legs

I'm into the second cycle of my VO2 phase. The first went well. My first VO2 run was solid and my long sessions, while fatiguing and challenging still felt very doable. In fact at no stage did I really entertain any thoughts about stopping.

I now have my second VO2max training set under the belt. This week it was time to tax the cycling muscles. Down in the garage I set up the turbo-trainer, Ipod on and time for 6x3 minutes, with 4 min recovery. This set pointed out there is still a considerable difference between my running and cycling fitness. In running I can hold the high intensity for much longer, but on the bike I need to keep the intervals shorter so my muscle don't crap out too early. I made it through the first five repeats with some difficulty, but the final one took all my effort as the burn engulfed my quads and hamstrings. My form suffered during the final minute.

The shift in training has also seen a change in my body composition. Quite a number of people…

One Tequila, Two Tequila

Mexican night at the neighbours...

...does not result in good training the following morning.


Two months ago I booked accomodation for the Shepparton Half Ironman to be held in November. Over the phone I gave my credit card details to secure this accommodation and thought everything was confirmed. Not so. Today I received an email from the motel thanking me for my enquiry, but saying they are sorry they no longer have anything available. Not happy!

It is always hard to get accommodation in Shepparton for the HIM, because not only does this event bring in a large number of people, but there are other events on this same weekend. Which is the reason I booked so far in advance. After leaving two messages on the motel's answering machine, it was time to move on. Luckily the first place I tried had just what we needed and at a cheaper price too. All booked, now I just have to keep training.

Dose - Response

Thanks for the questions about my last post, Hamburglar. I'll attempt to answer them here.

What do you do when the form slips?

When performing a progressive set such as the 7x200m the other day, my aim will be to hit the fastest speed I can while maintaining proper technique. For example, if I start losing form in the 4th 200m, then it is most likely I'll complete the last three at a pace just below the that of the 4th. I aim to finish this sort of set, the key variable is pace.

On the other hand, if I am completing a set of intervals that is meant to be at a specified pace/intensity, but I find I can't hold my technique any more, then I am likely to cut this sort of set short. It does depend of what else is planned for the swim session too.

What is the rationale behind the 4x25m Fly?

At the moment my specific swimming fitness isn't very high. My cardiovascular system is going great, but currently my muscular strength and endurance as it relates to swimming is lagging …


No excessive soreness or fatigue today after yesterday's VO2 run. I do feel a bit tired, but that can easily be put down to averaging 6 hours of sleep each night over the last week or so, combined with the load at work.

It was into the water this morning for my higher intensity swim. Over the first few lengths I thought the session was going to be a complete waste of time. My arms felt like they had no strength and just no feel for the water. Luckily it was just a warm up thing. By the start of the main set I was feeling good. Speaking of main sets, here it is:

7x200m on 4:30, progressive pace
(ie. first 200m is swum @ 4:00, increase the pace until final 200m is swum @ 3:20)
4x50 on 1:00 in 0:45
4x25 Fly on 1:00

The increase in pace of each 200m allows me to assess how I am holding my technique. It provides a set that covers a range of intensity levels and end with the last couple at around VO2max training paces. In the end a good solid, and I believe productive time in the wate…


I was back on the running track for the first time in a few months. Time for my first VO2max session. Conditions were wet and windy with a good solid rain fall all morning. At least it wasn't too cold. I was still comfortable in shorts, shirt and gloves.

I shared the track with the usual walkers that seem to be a permanent fixture every morning. Everyone fitted in well following good track etiquette. It's refreshing to see. Since I was the only runner, I had the inside lane all to myself. Can't complain about that.

My legs felt good from the first step of my warm up, and my mind was already into gear before I had even arrived at the track. After twenty minutes I was ready to start the hard work. The set was:
2x1600m (800m jog), 1200m (600m), 1000m (600m), 800m @ 5-10km race
Not much to say about the session except it went exactly as planned. I was working hard, but was able to hold the appropriate paces. My breathing felt right up towards maximal oxygen uptake a…

VO2 Phase

Monday signals the start of my next phase of training. I have called it my VO2 Phase to highlight the key hard session. Lasting 4 weeks the phase has two main goals:

Increase maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max)Extend aerobic enduranceNaturally this will be balanced out with work in strength, technique, plyometrics, flexibility and other areas as applies in all phases of training, but the emphasis will be on the two goals listed above.Over the next 4 weeks my training cycle will be 6 days. This is partly dictate by my work roster and current recovery capabilities. I will be working three shifts of 12 hours followed by three days off. My training roster will be:1.5-2hrs easy. WorkBike or Run VO2. WorkSwim Hard. Plyometrics. WorkBike 100-130kmSwim 3000m. Brick 2-4 hoursRun 2:45. WeightsFurther easy aerobic work will be incorporated around these key sessions depending on time and recovery. This extra work will be commuting on the bike, recovery swim or 1hr run. If I am struggling, this extra wo…

Maximum Oxygen Uptake (VO2max)

On Monday I start what I have termed my VO2max Phase. In this post I attempt to define and explain the importance of VO2max and its determinants. Yes it is technical, but hopefully it provides some a slightly different angle of insight into a much talked about subject.

Maximum Oxygen Uptake was first defined by Hill and Lupton in 1923. They postulated that
there is an upper limit to oxygen uptakethere are interindividual differences in VO2maxa high VO2max is a prerequisite for success in middle- and long-distance runningVO2max is limited by ability of the cardiorespiratory system to transport oxygen to the musclesThese principles have proved surprisingly accurate as confirmed and by further research, which has also been expanded upon these initial ideas. The following working definition has widespread acceptance.

Maximum Oxygen Uptake is the highest rate at which oxygen can be taken up and utilised by the body during severe stress
Why is VO2max important?In short, VO2max defines the upper…

Lessons Learnt

It is the last week of my Base phase. Looks like the right time for a quick review of training so far.


While I am still a reasonable way from my fastest times, currently I am not as far away as I thought I would be at this stage. While the main goal of training is to be able to race as fast as possible. It is the method, and therefore the reason behind those times which are important in the early stages of a training program. Fast times may be a result of too much high intensity training, that has brought the body to a very early peak. This would be innapropriate as a peak in performance is always followed by a decline, regardless of the training to follow. The other possibility is that the fast times are a result of proper adaptation to the training load that has simply just raised the base level of performance.

How can we tell the difference? It isn't easy. One way which leaves little doubt, is to wait and see what happens. If performance declines across most training sessi…

Tough Love

Completed my first 3 hour set on the turbo-trainer in its entirety... oooh yeah!

Father's Day 5

I don't have a history of doing too well in straight 5km races. That's probably one reason I've stuck to the longer events. Previously I have found that I haven't had the ability to turn the legs over any faster, even though the current pace feels comfortable. Often I haven't been able to push the pace and feel that intense burn that should signal the accumulation of hydrogen ions in the muscle and blood stream. This morning was a different story.

Racing flats on, warm up completed and lined up at the front ready to begin. It was time to put my plan into action. I took it out much faster than I normally do and as the runners spaced out over first 100m it became clear who the top few contenders were likely to be. Two young guys pulled in front followed by a third just off their pace. I decided to tuck in behind these three and keep in contention. Another runner pulled up on my shoulder and we stayed that way over the first kilometre.

My breathing was through …

5km Prelude

Tomorrow I'm heading back down to Albert Park Lake. This time I'll be racing over only one lap, instead of two like last week. The race is the Father's Day 5km. Not too sure how big this event will be. Also I'm not too sure how I will go. I haven't raced a pure 5km for a few years. Obviously I expect to sustain a faster pace that last week's 10km, exactly how much faster I'm not sure. I have done some number cruching in the different predictors, but they a have given a 3 minute range of times. Not exactly accurate.

So how will I approach the day? Firstly I plan on getting there nice and early for a nice long warm up. I was very happy with last week's warm up, so I'll try to replicate it. Since I placed 11th last week, I'll line up at the front tomorrow. Then when the gun goes off I will head out hard. I aim to run at a pace that feels a bit too fast for the distance. Exactly what this pace is I don't know. Maybe I'll try to stick with the…