I’m not a Froome fan, or at least I wasn’t. I’m not too sure why but I just never took to him. But his actions this week in racing aggressively, attacking when tradition suggest he probably shouldn’t like on a descent or on a flat stage meant for the sprinters and taking time from his main rivals in both instances is starting to win me over. Yesterday evening Ais called me when I was in work excitedly asking if I’d seen the Tour? Of course not I answered I work much too hard to be watching cycling when I should be working….
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) Paul Simon / Simon & Garfunkel
Sometimes it’s hard not to worry about the numbers, but the problem with training numbers is that they rarely give us good news. Our average speed is never as fast as that day last year when we smashed everyone, our run pace is never quite a good as that race when we set a new pb and our swim splits….well you know where I’m going with this. Training is just training, and for Ironman we spend so much of our time tired that we rarely go as fast as we would like in training. As Ais like to remind me that “you’re never as fast as that day you were fast” Luckily enough the aim is to be fast on race day, not every other day.
I woke Monday feeling great which is a really good sign considering the fact that I did close to 7 hours training the previous day. It really shows that the training is working. I feel like I’ve spent the last 6 months just getting fit enough to train properly. It’s taken that long for the body to adapt to the constantly increasing loads and now at last I’m comfortably getting through a 7 hour day and feeling good afterwards. I’m really looking forward to some more hard, long days as I think they too will start to deliver bigger improvement as I’m becoming better able to cope with them.
I had a bit of a penny dropping moment recently. Recovery is one of those words that’s thrown around regarding endurance sports. There’s now a whole industry built up around it. There are all sorts of devices, gadgets, clothing, food, drinks even lotions and soaps to help you recover faster, better, stronger. I think however there are three things that above all else speed up recovery and improvement. They are rest/sleep, real food and the correct application of training. I’m sure a lot of the other stuff may also help but if you don’t get enough good quality sleep, eat the right food and time the correct sessions appropriately then massage boots and protein bars aren’t going to do you much good.
This week I manage to hit 20 hours for the first time in a while and on Sunday I have a real breakthrough session, not just because of how well it went but also because of how quickly I recovered after it. After months of slogging through hard slow bike rides I’m starting to see results. Ironman is such a long slow process, and progress seems particularly slow and hard in the early stages but if you just keep on ticking off the sessions and doing the work the results inevitably come.
When it comes to race performance I think we all either secretly or otherwise believe we can or should be faster. I think it’s what keeps a lot of us coming back for more, the belief that we can still compete (often just with ourselves). I’m no different, here I am coming back for another crack at Kona. I’ve no illusions just yet of getting into the best shape of my life in just the 8 months I’ve allowed for it but, going on previous years results at Ironman Mallorca I will need to go about 20 minutes faster than I’ve ever done before to qualify for Kona. So I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I believe I can. Get faster that is. I think I have the potential. But having the potential and delivering are two very different things.
This week sees a couple of breakthrough bike sessions. I’m finally starting to feel good on the bike which is a bit of a relief as a part of me was getting worried. I don’t know why because it always takes me 3-4 months of base and strength training before I start to feel like I’m going well. The run is also progressing nicely but swimming has sorta fallen off me and I feel like I’ve got all the grace and style of a wind up swimming frog toy. Ironman is so hard to balance all three sports. I rarely feel good in all three sports at the same time (although as long as I do on race day that’s all that matters) anyway click on through for this weeks update.
I approached improving my bike split in much the same way as I had when I wanted to improve my swim. The main difference being that I came from a cycling background so I had probably already picked a lot of the obvious “low hanging fruit” Regardless, I listed all of the things I could think of doing to improve my biking and bike split and then started picking them off one at a time focusing on where I thought the big gains would be first. The list looked something like this.
Training time this week was tight to fit but despite that the quality of the sessions was good. It turned into a very run focused week as a reaction to the time constraints. I should really incorporate some more turbo work in a week like this as the bike is my biggest weakness at the moment so therefore the area with the biggest potential for improvement. The weekend took us to Leeds and the ITU World Triathlon Series and it was the most fun I’ve had at a race in a long time. We got to meet loads of the big stars of the ITU and the Olympics including Gomez and Jorgensen. There was also an incident with the flight home so read on for the full story.
I was listening to an interview with a guy who had turned his life around after being massively obese, sick and unhealthy. He was talking about how the start and the end of the process were the hardest. It really struck a chord with me, I thought it was very like the start and end of Ironman training. He said that getting going in the begining, building habits and making changes were very difficult initially but after a month or so it became normal, routine and much easier. We coach people how to do this in a sustainable way because we recognised that the first 4-6 weeks are critical for getting an Ironman training program going successfully.