Category: Training

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…

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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


  • 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 —


  • 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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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 18 weeks to go

I was chatting to Patrick my swimmer mate (the one who takes great pleasure in knocking lumps out of me in the pool) a while ago and had told him that I was finally going to have a go at the 100 x 100’s swim session I’ve been talking about for so long. I told him I was going to do it on my birthday, the 21st of July. Doing the 100 x 100 swim is a sort of triathletes birthday tradition, at least it is for the pros who are coached by Brett Sutton and who am I to second guess Sutto.

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 19 weeks to go

I finished last week tired and it was with a lot of relief that I saw Monday down as a day off. Ash will often change my plan on a daily basis if she feels that I’m either handling the training load and the opportunity is there to do more or on the opposite side if I’m not able to she will back it off. It’s just one of the benefits of living with my coach. I get a level of attention and a tailored plan that I really couldn’t get from any one else.

The other side of the whole living with my coach is that she knows if I decide that a 3 hour bike ride should turn into a 5 hour one just because the sun is shining. If I do she will kick my arse. It also means that I no longer get to indulge the idea that I’m the boss…

Click on through for the weeks update… Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 20 Weeks to go

When looking from the outside at someone training for Ironman you could be forgiven for thinking that it is an individual, solo sport. When I’m writing my blog posts about how well a training session has gone or about getting kicked up and down the pool by Patrick it’s not at all obvious that there’s a number of people without whom I just wouldn’t be able to do this.

The first and most important is Aisling. It’s not just that she tolerates me training 15-20 hours a week. Rather as my coach she’s the one who’s pushing me when I’m tired or feeling lazy. Another almost invisible aspect of what she does is all of the small things that allow me fit in training when the business requires a lot of hours. Ash cooks meals, brings in food to work and takes care of so many of the other things that go into running the house and family so that I don’t have to.

Our team in the shop allow me come in a little late and leave early to get in sessions. Patrick my swimmer mate has taken me on as his own personal fixer upper. I think he’s made me his pet project. He’s going to improve my swimming even if it kills him (or more likely me)

Training partners like Cillian, Fergal, Big Dave, John, John, John, Eoin, Eoin and Eoin (yes we know and train with a lot of John’s and Eoin’s….) Paul Moran’s Sunday morning run gang and more all help me get through hard or long sessions.

All of these people make a little or large contribution to my training and all do it for no other reason than they are good peeps.

My folks have been to almost every Ironman we’ve done (Mam has been asking about me am I chasing a Kona slot again, I think she fancies the idea of another Hawaiian holiday)

There are lots of people who contribute to making all of this happen and they are rarely acknowledged. I’m certain I’ve forgotten to mention someone so I’m sorry in advance. Then there are all of you guys who read and follow the blog and leave comments or ask about my progress when I meet you at the pool or in the shop. I’ve had a bunch of new American friend requests on Facebook and followers on Twitter and messages of support. These are most likely down to writing for Lava magazine online.

I’m always grateful for all of the support, help and encouragement.

Anyway that’s my thought for this week, lets get on with the training. Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 21 weeks to go

I sat down with Ash to write my plan for the week on Sunday evening. We were also looking at the the big picture (mapping out the weeks and putting a rough overall plan in place for Ironman Florida in November)

(If you missed last weeks post you can catch up here)

So after we sketched out the long term plan we worked on the upcoming week. Ash first started with the key sessions. Then she moved onto any that I’ve planned to do with someone else, like Patrick’s swims or the long ride on Sunday.
Ash called out the sessions and I filled them into the calendar and after each one I ask “is that long enough” or “will I add another run after that swim?”

Ash patiently answers “no that’s enough” the first couple of times.

After the fourth time she turns to me and asks “Do you want to coach yourself? I don’t mind if you do”

I realise that I’m now walking on that thin and treacherously dangerous ice that husbands occasionally encounter when they say something stupid to their wives. Especially if that something is questioning their wife’s ability to do something.

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Robs Blog: Clontarf Half Marathon 2017 Race Report

This is a half marathon that I’ve done before and despite the fact that it’s advertised as the flattest half marathon in Ireland there is about 6km of it that is run on sand and exactly half of it is always into a headwind so it’s far from the fastest half marathon course.
I was hoping to break 1:30 today. I figured a 1:29 would be a good day, anything faster would be brilliant and slower would be a bit disappointing. Ais had given me instructions to run the first 3k easy and then I could race however I felt. I made the mistake of not getting myself onto the start line and instead jumped in with the 1 hour 30 group. This had the desired effect of controlling my speed at the start as I worked my way through the crowds but it also had a down side… Read More

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Robs Blog: 100 x 100 swim: Race report

So I did a 10k swim the other day.

I know! A 10k swim! In a pool! 100×100’s!

In case you’re trying to work it out that’s 400 lengths of a 25m pool. I’d been talking about doing this swim for probably a year or more and Patrick my swimmer mate had been keeping the pressure on me.

Click on through to read how it went…

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