Category: Ironman Training

Robs Blog: Chasing Kona: 7 Weeks to go

The risk with pushing our limits is that we may push too far and instead of making breakthrough gains we just break down. After my first thirty hour training week in a long time. Actually it was 27 hours training in only four days, I came home ready for a day off and hoping for a few easier days after that.
I had the hoped for day off and then Ais had me do a 16k run on Tuesday which went reasonably well given how tired and sore my legs were. The problem started on Tuesday night when I woke around 3am with the beginnings of a cold/flu. I believe it was the combination of returning home in a very depleted state after the weekends training and as a result being particularly susceptible to infection.
An infection which was already running rampant through the house, Cillian and Ais were both already sick.
Ok so running rampant is probably a bit strong and sick is also probably a slight exaggeration. They had a cold which I then caught.
But it was a nasty cold.
Ok not so nasty, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant. And it did screw with my training plans during the middle of the week.
Anyway let’s move on and see just how it all went. Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona: 8 Weeks to go

As we hit the last ramp I came off John’s wheel like I’d been shot out of a cannon.
I was out of the saddle.
Full gas.
Dropping major watt bombs all over the road.
Feeling like a legend in my own underpants.
I was sure I had it this time.
He wasn’t going to come around me with this attack.
Then out of the corner of my eye I could see him come by me and instead of inching up alongside he shot past and immediately opened a bike length.
It seems John had the bigger watt bombs and he was busily dropping them all over the joint.
I pushed harder and stabilised the gap. I still had the legs to hammer all the way to the top but not quite enough to close him down.
I held him at just over a bike length all the way to the top but for the second time in two years John took the final and all important climb to the top of Howth head. The one that everyone remembers.
Next year I’m just gonna push him off the damn bike into the bushes at the foot of the climb.

That little showdown was on Sunday. I’d had four days and almost 700km on the bike since Thursday. I’d also gotten a couple of swims and a run done. It made up the biggest training block I’ve done in a long time and I was pretty happy with how I was handling it.
Happy with all except the fact that John had managed to scalp me at the top of every climb bar one and if I’m honest that was only because I had a bit of a head start on him.
I did however take the only flat sprint of the week, but that is little consolation for someone who considers themselves a climber first and a sprinter not at all.
I am consoling myself with the thought that it was a really solid block of training and despite the fact that Friday was a 3k swim, 162k bike and a 6k run I felt none the worse for wear on Saturday or Sunday which had a combined 330k of riding.

Anyway that’s enough about that. Read on for all the details Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona: 9 weeks to go

As I was getting out of the pool with 4000m done in last weeks only swim session Patrick made the point that for me to be comfortably swimming 3800m I really need to be doing more than 4000m in my long swim (he also pointed out on Saturday that if I ever want to improve in the water I need to swim more than once a week)
I have all sorts of excuses for why I only got to swim once last week. All of which sound genuine but at the end of the day they’re still only excuses. I still have this idea that I’m not a proper triathlete, more a bike/runner who swims a bit before the real race starts.
If I’m honest I still think that I can race competitively off two strong legs. The bike and run. That’s despite the fact that this approach proved to be a flawed not just once but twice last year.
But I have a plan. In the back of my mind I can hear Mike Tyson say “Everyone has a plan. Until they get hit”
But still I have a plan.

I think. Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 10 Weeks to go

When we (I rarely think of this as my Ironman. I think of myself and Ais very much as a team) first set out to qualify for Kona back in 2011 we took on the guidance of a coach.
The first eight days under his guidance I did 28 hours of training which culminated in a sprint triathlon. I placed third overall and won my age group (it was a small race) I’d never done either of those things before and I felt like I’d just been let in on “the big secret”
If you want to get fast you just have to do a shit-ton of training. In the beginning it’s not as important what type of training you do so much as just doing a lot. When you go from an average of 6 hours a week to a 28 hour week just the massive overload will cause all of the adaptations you could hope for.

Either that or it’ll break you. Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona: 11 Weeks to go

I was talking the other day to a very good Ironman coach who also happens to be a psychologist (it’s funny how you think that they can read all sorts of things about you by what you say, or don’t say) anyway, one of the things we talked about was how training was going and also if the Kona project was on track.
I was telling him that this year was going a lot better than last and that one of the reasons was that I felt last year I’d very much underestimated how difficult it would be to return to the sort of fitness required to qualify for Kona.
As much as I hate to admit it there was a part of me that thought “I’ve done this twice before, I know what to do and that I can be successful again” and as a result I think I was very complacent in a number of ways.
Not ticking all of the boxes like getting regular massage or enough early nights or eating too much cake (I’m still struggling with this one…) and the biggest one of course was skipping sessions.
When you’re going to be one of the athletes chasing one of the last slots in the age group making sure that you do everything possible, i.e. All of the marginal gains (assuming you’ve done the required training and race well) is often the difference between those who qualify and those who don’t.
When athletes getting a slot or not might only separated by seconds or minutes over a 9 or 10 hour race. The slot may well go to the person who not only did all of the work but to the one who was also a little bit insane about the details too.

If I’m not already then maybe I need to get a bit crazy…. Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 13 Weeks to go

Getting ready for bed on Thursday Ais asked me “What’s on your plan for tomorrow?”
“I’m down to swim” I answered “but I’m really tired, maybe I’ll sleep on instead and skip it” I added hopefully.
What I was thinking was ” I don’t want to” the voice in my head sounded like a petulant child.
I waited for Ais to tell me to take it easy, rest, sleep in, you need it, it’s been a good week so far, you’ve worked hard and deserve a lie on.
What she actually said was…
“Tell it to the guy who gets your Kona slot that you were tired and skipped your swim”
I knew she was right and I sheepishly resolved to get up and go to the pool.
But then eight hours later when the alarm went off I failed. I knocked it off telling myself I’d swim in the evening after work.

But I never swim after work so I knew it was bullshit.
It turns out I was right about it being bullshit. And I didn’t swim in the evening. In fact I compounded the failure by ordering pizza on the way home from work for dinner.
So that was how Friday went. Read on for the rest of the week…

Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona: 14 Weeks to go

For years I’ve maintained that Ironman is a “big picture” sport. I liken it to painting the gable end of a house. For a job like that you wouldn’t use a 1″ detail brush. Rather you would select the biggest paint roller you could manage. The roller wouldn’t work very well for the small details but it would get 95% of the work done.
If all you did to train for Ironman is a long bike, long run and a long swim and you do those every week you would most likely get through the distance just fine. Whether you ride easy or hard, hills or flat is much less important than the fact that you’ve spent 5-6 hours on your bike. The same goes for the run and the swim.
Of course there are sessions that are more effective than others but in essence if you focus on getting the the big “bread and butter” stuff done consistently you’ve gone a long way towards being successful.

Sometimes the small details can derail the big picture.

There is also the argument that you should do everything you can to maximise your race day performance. Aero bike, helmet, fast clothing, bike fit and race day nutrition. These are all the details. Some details are certainly more important than others, some save you more time but in essence they contribute a very small amount when compared to what a lot of training will do for your overall speed.

I’ve been playing around with my bike position recently. I found it hard to get it right ever since having back surgery back in 2014. I think I finally have it mostly right now and I’m seeing better speeds and feeling much more powerful than I have done in a number of years. I was still tweaking (not twerking) the position to try to perfect it and I was feeling like I was a bit low in the saddle on a couple of the rides so I decided to try a small change during the week and raised the saddle by about 10mm. I did a couple of sessions and it felt fine.

Monday saw me set out to do one of my favourite run sessions. It was a 2.5 hour run which was to include 4 x 15 minutes hard off a 3 minute jog recovery. I was just starting the third interval when I felt something go at the top of my hamstring. Right at the point where it connects to the glute. I kept on running trying to decide if I should push through and get the session done or if in doing so I’d make matters worse. The pain continued to grow and I was starting to run with a hitch in my stride as I tried to alter my gait to lessen the soreness and run around the injury.

With the pain was worsening I decided to pull the plug. I slowed to an easy jog and turned for home. But as the pain subsided to a dull ache I started to doubt my choice to back off and after a couple of minutes of easy running I decided to try to push again. Just to be sure. As soon as I did the pain worsened and the hitch in my stride turned to a proper limp. Satisfied that I had actually done some damage and that I would only make matters worse by continuing I backed off and jogged home.

It was only a couple of days later while doing a customers bike fit in the shop that it clicked and I made the connection between raising my saddle and pulling the hamstring. Having the saddle too high would be a common cause of irritation or injury at exactly the point where I had an issue, where the hamstring connects at the glute. I went back to my previous saddle height and after a sports massage and a couple of days of easy biking and swimming and no running I was fine and made a full return to training.

I guess it’s easy to be dismissive about how important the small details are when you’re dealing with something as big as Ironman. It’s also easy to think you know everything when you’ve been involved in the sport in so many different ways for so many years. As a specialist retailer, bike fitter, coach and athlete. However I was reminded yet again this week that despite being involved in triathlon for over 15 years I am not yet immune to making silly, amateur mistakes.

Luckily that same experience that didn’t stop me making the mistake did however allow me identify the cause of the problem once it had arisen and I was able to correct it very quickly.

It’s good to be reminded every so often that I’m only 10mm away from being a complete tool.

It’s a humbling sport.

Anyway lets get on with how the training went.


Monday 31 1:30 (1)

Run 1:30 17k

This is the session that I talked about in the introduction to the post. I got through two of the long intervals before pulling up.


Tuesday 1

Off

  • Energy 7/10
  • Motivation 7/10
  • Work —
  • Sleep 8 hours. good

Wednesday 2 2:25 (2)

Swim 1:20 3900m
Run 1:05 12k

Easy run today to test the leg and see if it’s ok after Mondays session. I could still feel it but I’d only rate it at maybe 2-3/10 and didn’t worsen at all while running easy so I was happy to do the hour Ais had me down for. When I say happy I was actually knackered and dragging my arse through the session and constantly fighting the urge to just go for coffee and cake.

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 5/10
  • Work 9 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Disturbed and broken. Because of an over indulgence of desert. Again. I really need to sort my shit out

Thursday 3 4:00 (2)

AM Bike 3:30 84k
PM Bike :30 13k easy commute

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 10 hours
  • Sleep 8h40

Friday 4:00 (2)

Swim 1:25 4100
PM bike run brick. 2:35 68.5k. (Bike 1:45 57.5k. Run :50 11k)
Session notes: (bike 30, run 15) x 3 times treadmill and turbo
Bike 15 easy, 15 threshold, run 15 threshold
I had the treadmill set to 12kph 5/min/k but it read as 4:40/k on the Garmin. Felt more like 4:40/k effort so that’s what I’m going to tell myself that it was. Either way I felt really good on the runs and only felt ok on the bike. I think my power is still low.

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 6 hours.
  • Sleep 8 hours. Disturbed

Saturday 5 1:5 (1)

Run 1:25 16k

Parkrun 20:20 7th

Legs were tired and heavy and after the first 2k I just couldn’t maintain the pace/effort I’d started at despite it being almost exactly the same as I’ve been running for the first 2k as the last few weeks parkrun. I could definitely feel the fatigue and heaviness from last nights session in the legs.

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 6 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Good.

Sunday 6 6:00 (2)

AM Bike 5:35 160k
PM Bike :25 10k

  • Energy 7/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 5 hours
  • Sleep 6.5 good

  • Total 19:20 (10)
  • Swim 2:45 8000m (2)
  • Bike 11:45 324.5k (5)
  • Run 4:50 56k (4)
  • S&C —

The hours are ramping up now and there’s much less leeway to skip sessions particularly the important ones. The bike is the area that we are looking to work on over the next period as we feel it’s going to be key. Ais thinks that my run is in good shape but I think that she’s concerned that if the bike takes too much out of me I just wont be able to use my run fitness as I will have to work too hard on the bike.

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 15 weeks to go

For those of you who do occasionally look at a calendar and are familiar with when Ironman Florida is on will have noticed that my weekly blogs are quite a bit off in terms of timing. At the time of publishing this weeks post it’s actually closer to 6 weeks to go to race day than 15.

This was done mostly on purpose so that I had a “buffer” of a couple of weeks posts as a back up in case I didn’t get to writing one week. I knew that when I got into the really big training weeks I was likely to be so tired between training and work that there would be days or even weeks where I just couldn’t write. I think whatever “writing muscle” I use is somehow also being used when I’m training because there are some days when the training load is big and I’m so tired that when I sit down to write that I just dont have any words.

There was also an element of me slotting into the Lava structure and it took me a couple of weeks to get that right. Writing to my own deadline on my own blog is all well and good but doing it for a professional outfit like Lava took a little bit of adjustment. So with that being said I have Enough of a buffer that I will now endeavour to catch up over the next few weeks so that by the time I get to Florida it should all join up correctly.

So this post is from the tail end of July. Work is fairly crazy and I’m trying to balance a 7 day work week with close to 20 hours of training. It’s a bit like learning how to juggle. So with that said lets get caught up… Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 17 weeks to go

I was reminded yet again on the bike in a race this week that I’m not at the place where chasing marginal gains will benefit me. I’m still very much at the stage where I just need to do a lot more of the basics and get the training done. All of the icing can be put on top of the cake in a couple of months if I can first address the weakness of my bike leg.

It’s very frustrating as the bike was always the area where I was strongest, now it’s my weakest discipline. I guess I just haven’t put in enough work so far. Ais also reminded me that we haven’t actually done anything yet in training that would give me a strong bike leg, in fact we have stayed away from the big volume and very hard bikes on purpose during the busy season in work because I struggled with doing these and recovering last year.

Related: Lanesboro triathlon: Two Provinces race report

The logical part of me knows this is true but the emotional side of me finds it very hard not to panic. My urge is to go out and ride every day this week for hours. “Massive volume will sort it out” I think.

Then I stop myself. I have to trust Ais. She is the coach and has a plan. I can’t take the parts of her plan that I like and then tack on my own ideas. That just won’t work. I can give my feedback and tell her how I feel things are going but I can’t constantly question what she’s doing and not expect to get a whack of a dog toy or something. Ais doesn’t have a lot of time for stupidity or doubt. She’s very black and white about things. Do the work and the results will come and don’t constantly analyse every detail.

And especially don’t question the coach if you want your plan for next week to land in front of you on Sunday afternoon.

Ineed to remember that Ironman is much more about the big picture than how one session goes or how I feel on a given day in isolation. I tell this to athletes all the time, don’t sweat the small stuff. For the most part the exact details of what you get done on a 5 hour bike ride or a 3 hour run matter less than the fact that you got the five hour ride or a 3 hour run done.

Still, knowing all of that doesn’t stop the growing ball of fear in my belly that I’m not doing enough. I think the fear is good sometimes, it’s what gets me out of bed at 5am to go to the pool or onto the bike for a long ride in the rain and cold. The fear of failure is a big part of what drives me and makes me keep on pushing. The fear of failing in public on my blog or here while putting all of this out for the world to read in Lava magazine is an even bigger driver.

The reason I trust Ash’s guidance is that she isn’t governed by that fear. Her coaching decisions are based on her instinct and experience and what she thinks is best for me. They aren’t based on an irrational fear of failing to perform in a race that’s still nearly four months away. And while she tailors my plan almost daily if needed to how I’m physically reacting to the training load she doesn’t tailor it to how I’m handling it emotionally.

She just tells me to get my shit together, get the work done and stop thinking and worrying about it afterwards. Trust the plan. Trust the work. I’ve said it to our athletes hundreds of times reassuring them when they are struggling to see the big picture.

I know she’s right. But it’s hard to not worry when I’m on the bike and the legs no longer do what they’ve always done in the past. It’s hard to ignore a rider going by me on a road bike while I’m on the tri bike (that must have been very satisfying for him) even as I look at him riding hard and I’m on a long easy day. It doesn’t matter. It knocks my confidence. And athletes are all about confidence.

When things are going well I feel like I could run straight through a wall or ride anyone off my wheel. When they’re not going well I feel like shite.

But I need to just continue to get the work done and trust the plan. It will come around I tell myself.

So with all of that inward naval gazing done lets see how the week went…


 

Monday 10th 1:55 (1)

Run 1:55 23k

Progression run

10 easy 45 IMRP (Ironman race pace) 45 HIMRP (Half Ironman race pace)  15 cd

Target: First 45 at just under 5 min/k. Second 45 at 4:30-4:35

Splits for those interested in the numbers.

  • First 45: 4:58, 4:58, 4:58, 4:55, 4:58, 4:58, 4:55, 4:53
  • Second 45: 4:46, 4:33, 4:32, 4:35, 4:36, 4:30, 4:32, 4:33, 4:33, 4:33

 

  • Energy: Legs were heavy from yesterday’s climbing but effort/energy was good.
  • Motivation 10/10
  • Work off
  • Sleep 6.5 hours

Tuesday 11th —

Off

  • Energy 8
  • Motivation 8
  • Work 14 hours
  • Sleep 7 hours good

    Wednesday 12th 2:25 (2)

Swim 1:25 4300m

Bike pm 1:00 25k

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 10/10
  • Work 10 hours
  • Sleep 7 hours

    Thursday 13th 2:15 (1)

AM bike 2:15 67k

Inc 6×2 mins hard


Friday 14th :50 (1)

Swim :50 2500m

  • Energy 5/10
  • Motivation 7/10
  • Work 12 hours
  • Sleep 7.5 hours. Good

    Saturday 15th 1:25 (1)

Run :15 3k easy warm up. Race Lanesboro Two Provinces race. Report available here

  • Swim :15 800m (12:44)
  • Bike :35 20k (34:15)
  • Run :20 5k (20:43)

 

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 2 hours
  • Sleep 7.5 hours. Good

    Sunday 16 3:20 (1)

Bike 3:20 100k

Tri bike steady/Ironman pace

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 6 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours, good

  • Total hours / sessions 12:10 (7)
  • Swim 2:30 7600m (3)
  • Bike 7:10 212k (4)
  • Run 2:15 28k (2)
  • S&C —

    Monthly accumulated hours / sessions

  • Total 28:30 (15)
  • Swim 6:45 19650m (5)
  • Bike 15:50 414.5k (8)
  • Run 5:40 71.5k
  • S&C —

 

 

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