Showing posts from March, 2008

Training Summary

Naturally I can't change what training I have done over the last few months. However, I have decided to go over a very brief summary of the training completed in the lead up to Ironman Australia. This could serve as a bit of the reference for me in the future.


Leading up to my Ironman campaign I was coming off a run focus. In fact my running was very close to the best it had ever been, but I definitely had neglected the swimming and cycling. So I maintained my running for a couple of months and gradually built up my workload in the water and on the bike so that I would be fit enough to complete the Ironman training.

This so-called base training was different to any I had completed in the past. Instead of lots of long, slow hours, I kept the volume low and completed work at a wide range of intensities, adding in a good dose of flexibility, plyometrics and strength work. This had me feeling very fit.


The real Ironman training began about four months out from the ra…

A Taper Is Hard

I've decided that I just don't enjoy the majority of the taper. You would think that with a significant reduction in training, more sleep and more recreation it would be awesome. Following the heavy training load where I probably headed into the territory of overreaching I really needed this recovery period. The first three days of reduced training I had so much energy. I felt like one of those super balls bouncing off walls and ceilings.

Then my body finally realised another long and hard session wasn't going to be imposed on it. It could finally recover from all the abuse. It took advantage of this and went full bore into repair mode. It is obvious that you can't fully recover and go hard at the same time. Everything slows down. Heart rate decreases, core temperature drops slightly, the need for sleep increases by 1-2 hours each night and above all energy levels plummet.

This is what makes the taper very difficult. It has you feeling as though you have lost all your fi…

Ironman Oz 2008 - Run Plan


Three Laps - use them
Hold back.Minor adjustments. Whatever it takes. This is not a training run."If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your
race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just
finish the race it's up to you."- Dave ScottRunning is definitely my strongest discipline. Hopefully I have raced smart enough to be able to use it.I'll check the clock at the beginning of the run and calculate the run time required to make 11 hours. Why 11 hours and not 11:09? Two reasons. First keeping things simple is part of the day's plan and so should be slightly easier on the mathematics for my fatigued brain. Second it gives a nine minute margin for error. I will then store the information at the back of my head. It isn't important for the first lap.The first lap is all about finding a good running rhythm. The first few kilometres is not the time to force anything. Just let my body run, maybe with a…

Ironman Oz 2008 - Bike Plan

Heart Rate: 128-139bpm Flats. 140ish and a bit on Hills.
No Catch Up.
Bring it all inline.

Again keeping things simple is the order of the day. The swim is behind me, good or bad I can't change it now. All I can do is what is required for the ride.

For the most part, the ride should be fairly comfortable, particularly the first 2 of 3 laps. Based on my training or past races I have found that a heart rate around 130 or so is about right. To keep things on track, and prevent myself from going too hard, too early, I will keep checking that I am working in this area. However, my race will not be dictated by fairly arbitrary numbers.

"Athletes will use any excuse other than “I went too hard early” to justify pace slow down mid and late in the race."- Gordo Bryn
The heart rate ranges are guides only. If working at this rate feels too hard, then I will have to slow down. If I can sustain a descent pace at a lower rate then that is what I will do. If my heart rate sits high lat…

Ironman Oz 2008 - Swim Plan

Start on inside of the course near the rope.
Swim strong, smooth and comfortable over the first 200m.

Smooth, Assertive and Calm.


"The water is your don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."- Alexandr Popov

I'll position myself according to my swim cap ranking. Hopefully this works as it should and places me amongst similar paced swimmers. This year I aim to swim close to the inside rope line of the course for a couple of reasons. First and foremost it will help ensure I swim the shortest distance and will aid in sighting. Secondly, because the course is relatively narrow for the number of swimmers, it is almost impossible to avoid a decent amount of battering. By swimming along the rope line I will know that the majority of trouble will come from my left. Combined with an assertive approach this will hopefully lead to being able to hold my own space in the water better.
When the gun goes off, …

Ironman Oz 2008 - Race Plan

"No matter how much you prepare, you can never control the race. The race is just there. You have to respond to the dynamic of it, and find those places in yourself hat, that are dormant. That sort of come alive when you are under that type of pressure."
- Mark Allen
The goal is simple. Race under 11:09:19. Now the hard part is putting together and executing the plan to succeed. Just completing the distance is no longer an option. I have already done that, having a total of four Ironman races under my belt. I'll go in with the understanding that I cannot control the race. I can only control myself.

"I never paid attention to time at all. I just let that moment, right at that time sort of devour me, consume me and not look ahead."- Dave ScottThe focus during the race has to be on the process. Doing what is important right at the moment. Getting hung up on the final time will likely result in not making it. Moving with a clear purpose, a strong focus and above all, …

Ironman Oz 2008 - Goal

"You know what you have to do, and your mind if you are about performing, about placing overall you have to be willing to sacrifice." - Scott Tinley

Time to put it out there. My goal for this year's Ironman is simple. It is measurable, it is challenging and it sets a clear line of success or failure.

Complete Ironman Australia 2008 in a Personal Best Time
(sub 11:09:19)

I will do what it takes to achieve this.

From The Inside

"Ironman shows how fierce and complex is our inner fight. Achievement and feelings will be unique and personal, they will give us different, deep experiences. Those will be much intense depending from every athlete, his motivation, determination and courage.Ironman means a voyage to our limits. The inner strength that everyone gains finishing one has no price and it's unique. Every distance athlete should make that voyage at least once in his lifetime."
- Commander John Collins

Swim 1:03:29.0
Bike 5:55:52.8
Run 4:09:57.3
TOTAL 11:09:19.1

Above are my times from my first Ironman race. It was 2001, back when the event was held in Forster. It was my second season of triathlon, and is still my best time to date. Due to inexperience in this race, I rode way too hard from the word go. I remember passing the 90km mark and thinking "I hope I have improved that much." Well I hadn't improved that much and from about 120km my legs started falling apart. What was originally …

Laying It Out

"Fear is probably the thing that limits performance more than anything - the fear of not doing well, of what people will say. You've got to acknowledge those fears, then release them." -Mark Allen

In the past I have often kept my race plan to myself. Why? I think the short answer is fear. After all, if I make it public what my goals are, then people can judge whether or not I fail or succeed (whatever that really means). The other day I told my sister what my goals for Ironman Australia are and she automatically assumed I would be aiming for 30 minutes faster than I stated. She was surprised when I told her that I would be really happy with what I had originally stated.

Triathletes are a strange bunch of people. As a generalisation we pride ourselves on doing things that many people think are crazy. It feels good when you tell someone how far you rode today and they say they don't like driving that far. Yet ask a triathlete how they will do in their next race and 9 tim…

Taper Time

The hard sessions are over. All the work now will be well within my abilities. Just need to remember it is normal to feel flat part way through the taper. No more tests of fitness. I have already done that over the last few weeks. It is now all about the 6th April.


Today's ride was cooler than the last two days. Only got to 35 degrees. I headed out north again and planned a multi loop course of mainly flat to undulating terrain, to keep things nice and steady for 160km. My legs protested from the word go and it looked like it was going to be a hard day. However at about the 50 minute mark it felt like a switch had been flicked on. All the aches, pains and fatigue melted away into the background. It was now time to ride.

The main challenge today was the wind. Blowing away at about 25-30km/hr with gusts over 50km/hr according to a couple of weather sites. At times it was hard enough trying to keep the bike moving along at anything close to 25km/hr into the headwind, but with a tailwind, 56km/hr was easy even up a moderate incline. Now that is fun.

The multi looped course took me around many of the new housing estates. Each in various stages of not being finished. The only thing I didn't enjoy too much was the wind blew plenty of dirt and deb…


The heat kicked my butt big time today. Heading out north on the open tarmac had feeling like I put the turbo-trainer inside the oven. Spend too long out of the saddle and it heats up enough to burn my backside. The northerly wind was more like a blast furnace, rather than a cooling breeze. My drink bottles heated up so much that pouring the water on me seemed to make things worse. Despite all this I did get in a decent ride, even though I decided to the safe option was to call it short by 90 minutes.

During the last part of my ride I found my heart rate climbing out of proportion to my effort level. Even when I coasted it stayed up. That low grade feeling of nausea seeped in and I knew I was heading into the territory for heat injury. Flicking through the display on my hear
t rate monitor I found the temperature reading:
40 degrees CelciusOuch! Any wonder I was now starting to struggle. Mind you it made my ride an even better effort than I had originally thought. It's meant to be an…

The High Road, or Middle Road

Good question Ewen:

Wouldn't improving 'top end' bike speed give you the extra kph you're looking for? I'm thinking things like long intervals (6min hard, 1min easy etc), or 40ks 'hard' (much faster than goal pace) every second or third day?

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer, and the reason I am taking the approach I am is as follows:

Doing the hard intervals or long time trial style efforts will definitely improve my speed and power output for the race. I didn't mention it, but I am still keeping up my weekly interval work. Which will occur on either side of the extra days of cycling. The problem with gaining this speed through a large amount of higher intensity work versus prolonged moderate intensity training is the reasons behind the speed increases.

The high intensity training will improve both the aerobic glycolytic and anaerobic glycolytic energy systems. The extra speed comes from the ability to burn more carbohydrates from various sources. …

Last Chance

Almost time to start my full taper. Now is the time to take stock of where I am at and use this last chance to work on my weaknesses.


This is far from my weak point this year. I am significantly stronger across most areas of strength than I have ever been. These include 1RM lifts, strength endurance in terms of push ups and pull ups and importantly power. Simply put, I can move much heavier loads both faster and for longer. Spending less time on strength training, changing focus to compound movements such as powerlifts and olympic lifts has been very successful.

Has this carried over to triathlon? Absolutely is the short answer. To be a little more specific I am better able to hold a stable platform in all three disciplines. That means, the parts that are meant to stay still do, while the moving bits move from a strong base, allowing better force generation. This equals improved efficiency or economy of motion. Very important for the Ironman. Subjectively hills feel easier.


Changing The Mind

Time to use my body to create a better mindset for the last four weeks before the Ironman. Today I'm heading out for seven hours worth of cycling and running. While it is the last big test before the big dance to see if I have my nutrition and pacing right, it is also time to practice getting into the right head space. That space where almost all thoughts are absent or simply do not matter. Where I am working, making active decisions, but my mind is still. Moving meditation.

Action is being truly observant of your own thoughts, good or bad, looking into the true nature of whatever thoughts may arise, neither tracing the past nor inviting the future, neither allowing any clinging to experiences of joy, nor being overcome by sad situations. In so doing, you try to reach and remain in the state of great equilibrium, where all good and bad, peace and distress, are devoid of identity.
-Dudjom Rinpoche


I am definitely just going through the motions at the moment. Apparently I went for a four hour bike ride today. Too bad I can't really remember much of it. No particular reason, other than I think my mind is still sick of all this training. As a result it is tending to tune out.

I did mix up my route today, to try and keep my mind a little more involved. In the end all I seemed to do was just follow that white line on the edge of the road. Don't ask me what the sky looked like, how many cars were around, or even if the ride was hard work or not. I simply just rode. Nothing more, nothing less.

After The Ironman

I am losing some motivation for my current training. Yes I am still putting in the effort and completing all my training sessions that I need to at the moment. The problem is my mind is wandering. This is common for me as I get close to a big race. After all, it has been many weeks of focusing on one event. What I tend to do is start thinking about all the different types of training and different races I can do once I get past this Ironman thing. In particular, I miss going fast. The loss of my top end speed, due to all the long miles is starting to bug me.

These thoughts are normal for me at this point. I only have a couple more weeks of hard slog ahead of me. It really is just a matter sucking it up, and putting out the effort for that short time. Maybe I'll actually enjoy the taper this year.

Not So Cold Anymore

So I eventually headed out for my ride (followed by a short run) after waiting for the weather to warm up. In the end it was a good solid session. The speed and intensity were up throughout the entire ride. At no stage did I feel as if I should slow down. Looks like I am still making those fitness gains.

As I finished my neighbour asked if I had been training. Obviously I had, otherwise I just walk around covered in sweat, dirt, sunscreen wearing lycra. It had definitely heated up since the morning, so she then asked, "In this heat? Are you serious?"

Not Like Winter

The mornings are now getting colder and darker. Not anything like winter, at least it is still dry, but the temperature is now down into the single digits. It feels nice to walk out in, the air is still and there is that feeling that the day is going to warm up into something perfect for training. Unfortunately it is already cold enough to affect my Raynaud's. I've mentioned it a few times before, but this morning I have a long ride planned. In regard to trying to maintain some sort of blood flow to my fingers I have to delay the start until the temperature has climbed into double figures. Yes I wear thermals, windbreakers, other warm gear, gloves, double and even triple glove, but when temperature drops below 10 degrees, none of this can save my fingers.

Already I am missing summer, and the weather today is so not anything like winter.


A few days ago I mentioned that my legs were tired for my long bike ride. This resulted in a slower pace than I wanted, but I still got through without a problem. Well at least on the day. The next I hit the pool and found that everything ached. My toes, let alone my legs felt like they were made of bricks. I was sinking and hardly had the energy to turn my arms over to save myself.

Later that afternoon I hopped back on the bike and things felt back to normal. A good quality 3 and a half hours. The legs almost had their snap back. Mind you, I struggled to walk up my driveway and front steps at the end of it.

The next day Thursday was meant to be another long ride, but with heavy rain and predicted storms I swapped this to a swim followed by a long run. By the end I was completely hammered. All my energy had been expended. Eventually the shaking in my legs stopped and I was able to drive home. Thankfully Friday was a recovery day.

Saturday had been reserved for some high intensity interv…