Showing posts from January, 2008

Clearing Showers

It was rise and shine early today so I could get in the scheduled 190km on the bike. I ate breakfast outside, keeping company with the puppy. The weather was overcast, and a bit warmer than I expected. Looking like a good day for a ride. I checked the weather on the internet just to be sure:

18-21 degress Celcius. Clearing showers in the morning.

Nearly perfect, but a few light showers should be okay. Rain coat tucked into my jersey pocket and I was off. Within five minutes my new saddle bag broke. For some reason the clip snapped while I was riding along. A quick rearrangement of the necessities into various pockets, a quick dump of the broken bag back home and I was off again.

Then in only five minutes (again) it started raining. Not heavy, more of a pleasant light mist. The kind of rain I am happy to ride if it is warm enough. It was warm enough, especially after I put on my rain coat. Out of town I headed, down and up through the Gorge. The rain didn't look like it was clearing, …

Run Faster, It's Easier

Yesterday I put down my first Steady-Fast Finish Long Run. I probably short come up with a shorter name for it, even though this one is quite descriptive. After cruising through the first fifteen minutes as a warm up I settled into a rhythm that felt about right. I ignored my heart rate at the time, but checking things later I found that I generally hovered around 75%HRmax. Somehow this felt easier than my previous long runs when I tried keeping the intensity down to 60-65%. Running that little bit faster just feels more natural.

After plenty of distance was in the legs it was time to kick it up a notch for a bit over 8km. The legs had just started to get tired, but the change in gear woke them up and I found myself cruising along at 4:50/km. I was working, but my legs now wanted to keep going. Nearly to the end of the run and what else was there to do other than open it right up. The last 800m were basically as fast as I could go. My heart rate and respiratory rate climbed as my body…


What better place than here? What better time than now?

Having been influenced by an absolutely awesome set by Rage Against The Machine at the Big Day Out it is now time to start the second part of Ironman specific training. This phase I have labelled IM II which I know is extremely creative. Anyway, IM II will cover about 6 weeks, it doesn't have an exact end point, as my taper for each discipline will start at a different time. So there is a bit of overlap between this phase and the taper.

I feel that I now have a reasonably solid endurance base in me. I know I am capable of covering the race distance, it is now just a matter of how quickly. The focus will be on being able to complete the Ironman distance in less time than I am capable of today. For a recap on the initial plan check out It's Ironman (training) Time.

Naturally there are a few minor changes to make since I first set down the plan. So here it is:

The training cycles will start off as 9 day affairs before reducing d…

Did You Forget Something?

I was part way into my day at went work when I received a phone call from my wife. "Did you forget something?" she asked. After running through a mental checklist including my lunch, uniform, keys, wallet etc. I just couldn't think of anything. Naturally she had the answer, "How about the car?" Yes that's right, I had actually forgotten to take the car to work like I was meant to. I had ridden my bike instead.

Being Stronger

Following on from the outline of my strength training program in Getting Stronger, I thought it was relevant to discuss what progress I have made. Currently I have completed Phases 1 & 2, which has covered General and Maximal Strength along with setting the platform for the next Power phase.

The key difference between any previous programs that I have followed is that I have moved away from the higher repetitions and reduced the number of overall exercises. Furthermore, I have moved a little further away from isolated muscle work and machines. The main focus is on the basic compound movements such as squats and chin ups.

So how has the program gone?


I haven't felt the usual, almost debilitating local muscle fatigue immediately after the session that I have experienced in the past. The shakes and difficulty in walking down stairs just haven't appeared. Furthermore, I am able to train hard in the sport specific work after only 36-48 hours instead of 72 hours as is t…

Sick People

I guess when you are surrounded by sick people, at some point you are likely to catch it too. This is one of those points. So much for my planned 8 hours of training.

Getting Stronger

Strength training for Ironman triathlon seems to have more interpretations than there are people actually training for the event. Recommendations from various renowned and self proclaimed experts have included all of the following:
Bodybuilding style programs focusing on working specific musclesPerforming high repetitions at relatively low weightsUsing machines to avoid injury risksPerforming strength work only using hills on the bike and run or paddles in the poolNot doing any strength trainingSo-called functional work using a variety of swiss balls, balance boards and disadvantaged leveragePlyometricsFocusing only on the muscles and/or movements required in triathlonJust going heavyPilatesThis list is by no means exhaustive. There has been much debate about whether each method is better than another, or simply if there is any benefit in strength training at all? Numerous scientific studies have attempted to evaluate this. Typically the results have been conflicting for a number of re…

You'll Wake Up Too Early

Still feeling the effects of the sleep debt, I decided to head to bed at about 7:30 last night. My wife wasn't convinced this was the best idea. She was sure I would wake up ridiculousy early. Over 12 and a half hours later I woke slowly. My body no longer ached, my mind was grumbling, telling me to go back to sleep and I was actually feeling good. Looks like I have caught back up on those precious hours of shut eye. Here's hoping tonight night shift doesn't put me back again.

Cats, Fights, Sleep and Mercy

Originally I was very happy with what had been a quiet day at work. Unfortunately not long before the shift was due to finish, some family decided to get physical with each other. The result from my point of view was nearly an extra three hours of work added on to what was meant to be a 12 hours shift. I just don't understand why these people do what they do.

So I was very late home, needed to take some extra time to wind down and after I eventually got to sleep my cat decided it was play time. He is far from quiet when this happens. So after some time out in the bathroom he eventually settled down. By this stage it was now those horrible, still hours of the night or morning depending on your point of view.

So I slept in. I slept in by a long time. Sleep was definitely my priority now. Mostly because I am due for a long night shift. When I eventually got out of bed I soon realised I had no chance of fitting in a 3:30 bike ride in, followed by a swim. Instead I only had a bit over …

Bike Week

A couple of key days and a few not so essential days have been missed on the bike over the last few weeks. The reasons basically have included, minor illness, extra work shifts, and life just not always fitting into a neatly planned schedule. As a result I'm still not happy with where my cycling is at (will I ever be?). My running is still consistent, and my fatigue resistance on the run is improving each week. Swimming appears to be progressing after my recent change. So as I approach the end of my IM I training phase, I think it is time to put in a week specifically devoted to developing the bike.

Here's the plan for the next few days:

Bike 2:00 @ 70-80%HRmax, undulating terrain, focussing on steady speed using good gear changesBike 3:30 @ 60-80%HRmax, mixed terrain. Swim easyBike 4:00 @ 60-80%HRmax, mixed terrain. WeightsBrick 4:00 split as 3:00 Bike undulating terrain -> 1:00 Run @ predicted IMpaceBike 2:00 @ 70-80%HRmaxSBR for 8:00 split as approximately 0:45 Swim, 6:00 …


The days plan was to ride 160km. Rest, do some chores and then compete in an aquathon being held around the corner. Didn't happen.

I woke up feeling tired, dead tired. I put it down to a recent extra night shift. If I was to get in the day's training, then I couldn't just put my head down and get a couple extra hours of shut eye. So I got my gear together and headed for the hills.

During the warm up I felt flat, but hey I'm tired, things should spark up after an hour when my body realises it's going to have to keep going. That spark didn't arrive. Instead a generalised ache seemed to seep into every part of my body. Even my teeth felt stuffed. How does that work? I also realised that despite drinking a fair amount of water I felt bone dry. Then came the snot rockets. Bright yellow. Not a signs that I was healthy.

A long endurance ride, followed by a high intensity race probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to do with some sort of respiratory infection. So I …

Getting Wet

For those who have taken an interest in my ramblings for any length of time may notice that I don't write much about swimming. The reason is probably because it may be my least favourite of the triathlon disciplines. It usually is my weakest leg, and also the training session I am most likely to miss. Maybe the two are related?

Most of my swimming I tend to find boring. This isn't through a lack of trying to mix things up and create interesting sets. Just that I find my mind and body seem to get over swimming around the 2000m mark. Most days, going past this mark just isn't enjoyable, and I do this sport, supposedly because I enjoy it.

In order to get my swim up to a descent standard, I decided I needed to find a way to change things. Unfortunately I find I am unable to commit to a squad due to shift work. Plus the times of the local squads aren't to conducive to my family life. I would have to find another way.

Recently I got onto reading about the Crossfit training m…

Even More About The Long Run

How to perform the long run seems to be a hot topic. I've answered a few of the questions (Ewen, Tea) below. It needs to kept in mind that these represent my personal theories on going long. There are many different ways to train for the Ironman, and a number of different methods will probably achieve very good results. The most important element is regular consistency, getting out there each day and doing something. The results do not come from a handful of long days, but rather the continual development of fitness from the accumulation of all training.

Should slow IM athletes do more time on long days?

Not always. Those with a small background in the sport (maybe less than 2 years) tend to show better adaptation through the use of moderate volume and higher frequency.

Those with a more substantial base in the sport, might do well to extend the time of their long days to more closely match some of the demands of the event they are training for. However, if this extension causes exs…

Is It Really Necessary?

As an extension to Rethinking Volume, I'll respond to the question (from Hamburglar):

Is it really necessary to run over 3 hours each cycle?

The true answer is probably along similar lines to answering how long is a piece of string. As far as training goes, I think it comes down to quite a number of individual factors, in particular your own training philosophy. Even the word necessary is open to many different interpretations. While I cannot give a definitive answer to the question, I can at least explain my reasons for including such long runs into my program, and what my current view point is.

Let's begin with the obvious downside of running for longer than 3 hours. Fatigue, injury risk and diminishing returns. These big three have generally become to be accepted as good reason to limit the long run to around 2:30. There are many coaches, and different training resources that make this recommendation. I do agree that with relatively long runs, these three items should be a ser…

Rethinking Volume

Due to life happening, I've found myself having to reduce the planned time or distance of a few of my long training days. Typically my approach when I have done this has been to work around the top end of my heart rate range, instead of at the low or middle ranges. Over the last few weeks I have noticed a couple of things, that has made me rethink my approach to the long days.

Basically it comes down to fatigue levels and quality of training. I find I start to struggle from a fatigue point of view, need more sleep and have my ability to push the harder efforts decline when I am consistently putting in the really long, low intensity days. When I have cut back a little, I find I not only do I feel like I have a ridiculous amount of energy, but the quality of training seems to improve. Remember I do not use the word quality purely as a synonym for "high intensity". By quality, I mean achieving the goals of the session.

To put things in a little perspective, the extra long …

Explosive Evidence

Having recently explained how I include some plyometric training into my program, I received quite a number of emails and comments from different sources. Half of these have centred around the following lines:
What about injury?It's not a sprint.Why bother, when racing will go for hours?Won't it leave you too fatigued to do Ironman specific training?There just isn't any evidence that it helps endurance performance.Basically I have the view that a good number of people just think what is the point? So in an attempt to reply I will present a few links to studies and other sources on plyometrics. I'm not looking to say anyone is right or wrong, just that there are many different opinions. Just because something hasn't been proven in science does not mean it doesn't work. In fact, having attempted to apply the so-called evidence based practice to both coaching, training and work in pre-hospital medicine, I am of the opinion that this concept leads a lot to be desire…

The Wall

In endurance sports, particularly marathon running there is a lot of talk about The Wall. Athlete's talk about it, non-athlete's talk about it and the media just love it. After all, how impressive does it sound to tell the story of when someone hit the wall hard and suffered severely in a race. Stories of suffering seem to be lapped up by the masses. Maybe take it over to the positive side and talk about the time you broke through The Wall to triumph in your event. It can be good drama.

I won't get into all the different possible causes of The Wall, instead I'll define it as
The point where not only continuing at the same pace suddenly becomes extremely
hard, but the ability to continue at all seems almost impossible.
Dramatic? Of course, but that's the beauty of sport. The simplified reasoning behind hitting the Wall is that it is the point at which the body uses up its accessible stores of glycogen resulting in being unable to meet a good portion of its energy demand…


In contrast to my key, don't miss training sessions, I also include some supplementary work. While the mainstay is long hours at low to moderate steady state intensities, there are important fitness aspects that are not trained during the key sets. One of my favourite supplementary sessions is plyometrics.

Following a warm of somewhere between 10-30 minutes (depending on how I feel), I get into an explosive round of exercises. This usually takes only about 10 minutes, and has me feeling fantastic for the rest of the day. I feel light on my feet, any running or walking feels relatively effortless, and my active range of motion is often noticeably improved.

What is plyometrics?

To put it simply, is ballistic, explosive exercises such as bounding and jumping. It takes advantage of the muscle stretch-shortening cycle to develop neuromuscular coordination and power. Without getting too involved, the concept is that when a muscle is dynamically stretched (up to a certain point) just prior …