It’s like the holy grail of triathlon. How do I get faster without training more. Where is the best place to spend money and what gives me the biggest bang for my buck? Everyone looks to Tri bikes and deep section carbon wheels first (Which is good because that’s what I’m selling in the day job) but there are a lot of much more economical ways to “buy speed” or even go after “free speed” some of which might surprise you. Click on through for the good stuff…
Some days you’re the hammer. Some days you’re the nail.
Today I was the nail. And the hammer was not really a hammer, more like a 40 ton steam roller….
For the last number of weeks our Sunday run in the Phoenix park has been a gradually building sort of affair. It started off at two hours, all easy. Then we stretched it to three hours and as we became comfortable with the distance we started adding a little pace into the last hour.
The last two weeks saw us build the pace from the half way point and run a strong negative split for the second half.
This week Ais wanted me to run with a faster group from the start and see how I got on. A couple of the lads from that group said they had been averaging 5 minute k’s for their 20k run for the last few weeks.
Grand, I thought. That should be comfortable.
Famous last words.
The pace did start at 5 min/k’s but the speed gradually crept up until by about the 10k point we were running 4:15/k pace. I was working fairly hard but still confident that I could manage another 10k at that pace.
The problem was that while the group I was running with only had 10k left I had another 24k to go. I knew I wouldn’t last that long at this pace so three of us backed off a little.
In the end we finished out the first 20k lap in about 1h30 and after a quick pitstop at the car to grab a gel and some water I headed out for another 12-14k.
Four of the others were extending their run a little so started out with me but cut out after ten minutes.
All except Barry.
I was surprised to see him still running with me so asked him how long he was doing. We had met him near the end of our first lap and he had jumped in with us. He said he was happy to do as much as I was.
Without trying to sound like I was making excuses I told him I wouldn’t be going too quickly. I was already a little fried after the first lap and was just making up time on my feet.
Barry answered that he was happy to run at whatever pace I liked as he was only making a return to training. I was still very dubious that I wouldn’t be slowing him down too much. Barry Minnock is a sub 2:20 marathon runner. In fact I think he also has the Olympic “B” standard qualifying time for the marathon so chugging along with me at 4:40/k must have felt like being out for a brisk walk.
I’m surprised he wasn’t shivering. Anyway he dragged me through another 13k and I finished up doing 33k in just over 2 hours 35.
I’ve seen a couple of minutes improvement over the three hours most weeks since the beginning of the year without too much effort. If I’d started off today with the ambition of lopping off over 20 minutes in one fell swoop I would have told you that was probably a tad ambitious and to be honest I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to try without firstly the push from Ais, then the group and lastly from Barry. Sometimes you can pleasantly surprise yourself.
Lets get on with the weeks training…
Monday 20 2:00 (1)
Bike 2:00 60k turbo
This was another one of those lactate threshold sets. Very unpleasant while doing it but savagely satisfying afterwards.
Tuesday 21 —
Wednesday 22 2:25 (2)
AM: Run 1:40 16.5k hills.
PM: Run :45 10k
Thursday 23 1:50 (2)
Swim 1:05 2800 Paddles set
Run :45 8k easy run
Friday 24 1:10 (1)
Run 1:10 12k
Saturday 25 2:30 (1)
Bike 2:30 57k
Sunday 26 2:40 (1)
Run 2:40 33k
This is the run I talk about at the start of the post. Enough said.
Total 12:35 (9)
Swim 1:05 2800 (1)
Bike 4:30 117k (2)
Run 7:00 89.5k (6)
Total 46:15 (31)
Swim 3:55 10,300 (4)
Bike 18:30 447k (8)
Run 22:25 260.5k (17)
S&C 1:00 (2)
My favorite training session of all is what we call big day training. I just love how epic it feels. I love the idea that on any random Monday while the rest of the world rolls into work I could be doing 80-90% of an Ironman in training. Of course I it takes months and even years to build up to this sort of session. I start with a more manageable big day but the fitter I get the bigger the session gets. We start BDT early in the season and gradually build it up until we hit about 7-8 hours. Click on through for the details of this monster day.
One of the most common Ironman training questions we get is regarding training volume v’s intensity. How much should people train and how hard should they go. Can they possibly get faster by training slower? And can intensity deliver better results than big volume? Click on through for the good stuff…
I experience what feels like a moment of transcendence. All external stimulus dims and my internal chatter quiets. All I’m aware of is my fast rhythmic breathing, my quickening heartbeat, my feet hitting the ground. I feel the strength and I’m aware of my fitness. Running faster feels effortless. It’s not like I’m floating, rather I’m feeling strong. I’m hyper aware of everything working together, a part of me knows that this won’t last but as soon as that thought surfaces I switch my focus back to just being here right now and enjoying this moment.
I can hear Fergal’s breathing on my shoulder it’s hard, a little harder than mine but I’m confident he can hang on a while longer. I have a strong urge to turn the screw, make him hurt more and in previous years that’s exactly what I would have done. But that’s not the purpose of this run and this time it’s easy to resist the momentary urge. I return to an awareness of my breathing and my effort and hold the pace.
The numbers don’t matter. My speed or distance or the average pace mean nothing as I hold onto this feeling.
In the end it does last. It lasts longer than during any of my runs this year. I’m reminded of what it felt like to be really fit. I spend the best part of an hour feeling this strong and as I eventually start to fade I try to hang on just a couple of minutes longer but all of a sudden it’s gone and my legs are empty.
Despite our best intentions we often judge each other based on our first impressions. People look at you and see who or what you are right then. We might look at someone driving a fancy car like a Porsche or Bentley and assume they are wealthy and often think they know something we don’t or have some sort of skill we are missing that allowed them to become rich.
I’ve been feeling like I’m getting to the limits that I can push before I need to back off for a few easy days. We don’t work off a three week on, one week off model. Instead we keep building up until we decide that I’m at the limit of not just what I can do but more importantly what training I can do and absorb and benefit from.
This is always a bit of a balancing act as we are trying to push the body into adaptations but we don’t want to push so far that I get injured or sick. As it is I’ve been carrying a very mild sinus infection for about five weeks. It’s not getting any worse but it’s also not clearing up. I think it’s tied to the allergies I suffered with for most of last year but I seem to be able to manage it and hold it at bay a little better so far this year.
Another important difference this year to last is that I’m already starting to feel the training adaptations and see improvements in my running and biking as I would expect given the current training load. Anyway let’s get on with the weeks training.
Choose to lie on, choose a new tv, choose to party, choose cake, choose coffee, choose another beer, choose easy, choose life.
The famous “choose life” bit of Trainspotting doesn’t include the line “choose hardship” and why would it when we are told that life should be easier, more comfortable, richer, tastier, faster or more fun. Why in the world would you choose hardship? Read More
If you’ve never experienced one it’s difficult to describe just how hard the two hour turbo class we do on Monday’s are. We had one of the lads lose his lunch about 30 minutes into the session this week. He had to spend five minutes in the toilet but then he came down, got back on the bike and finished out the session.
I was really impressed.
I’ve only puked off the side of the bike a couple of times in my 18 years cycling. Once was during a mountain bike race and once in a road bike race. It’s very unpleasant and it’s hard to come back from but Joe dug in and kept going.
We have a couple of spaces left in the current block of classes if you fancy joining us drop Grace a call in the shop and she will sort you out the number is 01 6201000. All you need is a bike, towels, water and your kit. You can even rent a turbo if you don’t have your own and we will provide the bucket if you can push hard enough that you need one. Just ask Joe.
Anyway let’s get on with the weeks training.
Most of us who’ve done an Ironman will recognize the thought process.
You swim how far? You bike 112 miles!? Then you run a marathon? Over how many days? One after another? That’s crazy, I could never do that…
But then we stop and think “What a challenge…imagine what it would be like to finish one of those…Maybe I could do it…I’ve just entered…oh crap…I’m training for an Ironman”