The next training block

Before Ironman Cairns, I came up with the plan that would see me cut the hell out of my bike volume to maybe only riding once a week as part of a recovery day and increase my run volume to almost double of my current volume.  The idea was to increase my weekly runs from 3-4 times a week to 6-7 times a week for around three months then switch to more of my normal Ironman training program.

Out of the 6-7 runs a week, there would be two key sessions and the rest would be a combination on easy and moderate runs.

Since I had what alcoholics refer to as a ‘moment of clarity’ after Ironman Cairns, I have changed my mindset from doing a few months of a marathon focused training blocks to now going to do a few months of faster Olympic distance type training blocks. So basically I chopped the volume, increased the intensity and also increased the recovery.

In September I am going on a family holiday so I want to go into this holiday needing rest.  I will use the down time to reflect on my next steps but till then, I will work on speed and power.

This is going to be completely new to the body as all it really has know is Ironman training. The hardest part I think will come when I have free time, In the past I would put more miles in the body but for the next few months I will put more miles on the couch.

Where was my drive?

I have been thinking over and over about the past twelve months of training and my performance at Ironman Cairns and just trying to make sense of everything.

I have come to the belief that my drive to get better and nudge that sub ten hours in an Ironman hadn’t been there for most of the past year.  I was very disciplined with my training, I would go out and train even if I didn’t want too but that drive for success, that hunger to see what my body could actually do has been lacking.

This conclusion was really highlighted last weekend when I was writing my program for the coming training block and I could feel something I really haven’t experienced for over a year or longer.  The drive to get better.

It showed in training today.  I couldn’t wait to get to the pool to nail my swim session, I couldn’t wait to get on the bike and nail my Zwift race and I can’t wait to get to the track tomorrow and make the run session my bitch.

I really have spent the last year just going from training session to training session and the discipline has taken me through but there really hasn’t been any real improvements within my performance and this shows in my power files and other data.

Allan Pitman who is a mentor of mine, wrote “It’s a long apprenticeship – it’s not an easy thing to get right – the more times you do this the greater chance that you’ll have a tough day – but then on the other hand the more times you do this the more experience you gain – you can’t buy that experience – you have to earn it – enjoy this moment – you’ll look back on this week and be happy with what you’ve learned”.

While I am not dwelling on Ironman Cairns, I do admit it has lit a candle under my arse so I am truly happy Cairns turned to shit. I wouldn’t change it even if I could.  Over the next forty five weeks, I will become a BAD MOTHER FUCKER!

 

pulp fiction.jpg

 

Ironman Cairns Race Report

Ironman Cairns didn’t exactly go the way I had planned. The lead up and preparation for this race had been the best I have ever had.

Swim:
It is always a hard swim at Ironman Cairns. My lack of open water skills and swimming in the ocean is highlighted and I just can’t seem to improve in this area from the comforts of my local pool. Last three years my swim times have all been around the same time even though my technique has improved greatly and my “pool pace” has increased greatly. You stick me in a flatter swim course and you can see my improvements, stick me in Cairns, I am pushed around like I am in a washing machine, but that is one of the things about this race that appeals to me and forces me to keep working on my retarded lizard style swim.

This year I had done my homework and knew I needed to swim nine buoys out and ten buoys back. I even knew the colours of each buoy. This is one of the things I noted from last year that I thought would help me from a psychological point of view and it did as I knew where I was at all time.

The only downside to the swim was before the race started. We had to wait on the beach for a while and the sun was hammering (well for this Tasmanian it was). I had to jump into the water a couple of times to cool down. I think anywhere else this swim would have been a non-wetsuit swim but because of the stingers, they allow wetsuits. Thank goodness or I may be still out there swimming without the wetsuit on.

Bike:
I got out of the water and my stomach was blotted and I had wind pains. Very much the same as a baby when they have colic. This happens to me a few times a year and the pain stays around until I fart it out. It took me 9km on the bike to fart the pain away and create a good slip stream for the rider behind me……. I struggled to ride at any power during this time but I had a tailwind so the impact was minimal.

Taking in my notes from past years, I decided to have a breakdown of the course written on my bike on the kilometers of each section and what it was. This was great from a psychological point of view as well. I found I started to get real warm in the tailwinds but was all good in the headwinds. I had a nutrition plan of High 5 sports drink with added salt stick for the first hour then switch to water and taking a High 5 gel every 30 minutes and a salt stick every 30min (so every 15 minutes I was taking something). Around halfway I smashed a 250ml can of Red Bull like it was nobody’s business and this was the plan and I stuck with it.

The last 65km of the ride is always a headwind. This was the slowest Ironman ride I had done for the past three years, I don’t understand why this was such a slow ride as I felt we were pushing it within the group and I felt I was in a good group. The longer the ride went, the better and stronger I was feeling. The last 65km was the fastest last 65km ride I had ever done in Cairns. I thought to myself around 170km that I feel like I am doing a half Ironman and I was confident I was going to smash the run.

Run:
The plan was run 4:55 per kilometer pace and walk the aid stations and hope for around a 3:30 hour marathon. I got through the first 10km feeling OK and then all of a sudden I was getting real hot, I started getting cramps in places I don’t normally get cramps like my hips and the bottoms of my feet. I told myself I am going through “a phase” and stick with the plan and you will run through this little “phase”.

It kept getting worse and around 17km, I saw my wife and I found myself stopping and said “I don’t think this is going to end well….. I don’t know if I am going to have to walk the rest of the way”. Like a good encouraging wife, Renee said “you’ll be right” and I started running again (I would of said something similar but maybe use the words ‘don’t be a pussy’). I never stop to talk to anyone during a race so this was a first for me. I started running again and as I approached the next aid station, I started to walk like I have been doing with each aid station, I called out “water” to the lady so she can get my drink ready like I always do at each aid station. I got real light headed and dizzy and I stated to wobble and I fell.

All I could do at this stage was stay down till I got my bearings and within this time a few volunteers were yelling “first aid”.

I had a first aider come and he asked me a few questions. He took my blood pressure and said it was high. I couldn’t help but think that everyone racing here would have high blood pressure at the moment. Around five minutes on the ground by now and I wasn’t feeling any better. The first aider asked me “what do you want to do?” and to be honest all I wanted to do is lay down and sleep there and then but I didn’t want to say that to him so I said “I think I am done…..” Within that five minutes on the ground, I had clocked out……. or maybe I had clocked out a few kilometers earlier……. I was still lightheaded and somewhat dizzy still but I was clocked out”.

He asked if I was all right to walk back and I said something on the line of “yeah”. I finally got up and wobbled around. For some reason all I could think was “walk straight dickhead or he won’t let you go”. I walked around ten meters and I had to stop again to get my bearings. I was standing next to a tennis court so I held onto the fence for a moment and started walking real slow again.

I then realised I am doing the ‘walk of shame’ and I had to walk up the main strip of Cairns looking like a soft cock in front of thousands of people watching the race unfold and walk past all the tri clubs tent, so I did what any good soft cock would do and I got the hell out of there and walked slowly along the Cairns boardwalk stripping off everything including most of my tri kit to cool down. I am sure the people who saw my Tassie white tan will never be the same again.

Looking back, this is the fourth year in a row I have done Ironman Cairns and this is the first year in the past five years that it wasn’t wet and cool. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for the heat. I was prepared for the wind, I was prepared for the pain, I was prepared for a long day, I was prepared for rain but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the heat.

If I wasn’t already committed to do Ironman Australia next year, I would definitely comeback to Cairns and wish for a warm day so I can have my redo.

What’s next?
Seeing as there isn’t an Ironman in the body, I’ll be back training from tomorrow with a pissed off attitude.

 

How do I collect & track my data

In my last blog I wrote about my training data into this Ironman and compared data to my past Ironman a year prior. Since then I’ve had a couple of questions pop up asking about how I track everything.

One thing I have fallen in love with is at the end of each week, I sit down and start formulating everything together. This will tell you what I am doing as I often have a smile on my face as I start looking at everything.

The main data collection tools I use are:

  • Old fashion diary, pen to paper
  • Spread sheet
  • Final Surge (I have been playing around with Today’s Plan as well but mostly from a coaching point of view).

Yes I know there is an a lot easier ways for me to collect all my data and track it. Final Surge alone can track just about everything I want, but there is something about me working it all out with pen and paper and putting it into a spread sheet that makes what I have done through the week more real.

It is like going grocery shopping. At the end you present your card to the cashier, pay and go with the trolley full of groceries without really thinking too much about it. However if at the end if you had to start peeling off $20 notes and hand them over, you would probably start looking at each of the items you are purchasing a little closer.

 

My Diary:

I have been keeping a good old fashion diary for years now. Every day I write

  • Sleep
  • Diet quality
  • Stress level
  • Motivation level
  • Work times
  • Training (time, miles, average)

 

Spread Sheet:

The main spread sheet I have always starts 52 weeks out for my main race.  I log the weekly number of sessions per discipline, total kilometers per discipline, total time for each discipline and I will also note anything I may want to look back on and know like illness, extra family commitments, overtime at work, etc.

On this sheet, I am logging:

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Running
  • Strength & conditioning
  • Mobility sessions
  • Oxygen deprivation sessions
  • Swim cord sessions
  • meditation
  • Foam roller or body maintenance
  • Rehab (if needed)
  • Body weight every Monday
  • Waste size every Monday
  • Gut pinch every Monday
  • Total hrs sleep throughout the week
  • Total amount of steps throughout the week
  • Resting heart rate taken from the week
  • Motivational levels (I give each level a number and total for the week)
  • Diet quality (I give each level a number and total for the week)
  • FTP number every 6 to 8 weeks

 

Final Surge:

Final Surge is my online diary that my Garmin automatically uploads to so I don’t need to do much to this apart from analyse my session/race data.

I really like Final Surge over Training Peaks, Strava, Today’s Plan even though I keep an active account with all the others as well but it is mostly because I don’t want to be left behind from a coaching point of view.

 

 

Training for Ironman Cairns

I thought it would be fun to do a blog on my training from Ironman Cairns last year to Ironman Cairns this year and maybe compare this lead up to last Ironman lead up.

  • Ironman Cairns 2016 time: 10:46
  • Ironman Cairns 2017 time: 1035

 

Ironman Cairns 2017

In the year leading into Ironman Cairns 2017, my training year looked something like:

  • Swim: 149 sessions with a total of 317km (33 more sessions and 81km more than the year before)
  • Bike: 143 rides with a total of 7,433km (30 more sessions and 1908km more than the year before)
  • Run: 118 runs with a total of of 1,610km (16 more sessions and 293km more than the year before)
  • Strength & conditioning sessions: 113 sessions (52 sessions more than the year before)
  • Swim cord sessions: 28 sessions (didn’t do them the year before)
  • Oxygen deprivation sessions: 87 sessions (didn’t do them the year before)
  • Mobility sessions: 106 sessions (didn’t do them the year before)
  • Meditated: 34 times (didn’t do it the year before)

 

There were two big mistakes I made in the lead up to Ironman 2017 that I wanted to address in Ironman 2018.

  1. I was very inconsistent in the first six months but became very consistent in the six months leading into the race.
  2. I rarely used a foam roller causing a number of small niggling injuries like shin splints, calf strain, achillies, small hamstring strain and a couple of times killer back pains.

 

Ironman Cairns 2018

In the past year, I focused on being very consistent from the get go however I went into last Ironman with an achillies injury so after Ironman, I had in total eight weeks off running.

I also wanted to get through the year injury free so I adopted the mentality that I will use the foam roller three times a week.

(note these numbers are in the past 51 weeks, I’m not including race week)

  • Swim: 152 sessions with a total of 338km (21km more than last year)
  • Bike: 181 sessions with a total of 8,189km (756km more than last year)
  • Run: 139 sessions with a total of 1,641km (31km more than last year)
  • Strength & Conditioning: 135 sessions (22 more than last year)
  • Swim Cord sessions: 67 sessions (39 sessions more than last year)
  • Oxygen deprivation sessions: 125 sessions (38 more than last year)
  • Mobility sessions: 208 sessions (102 sessions more than last year)
  • Meditated: 58 times (24 more times than last year) 
  • Foam Roller: 138 sessions (didn’t do it last year)
  • Rehab sessions (for achillies): 79 sessions

 

Other things I track

I have turned into a bit of a data geek.  Each year I track a little bit more than the year before.  I have visions of me being 84 years old and Dr House wondering what is wrong with me and I show him all my data for the past forty odd years and doing half his job for him.

This year I also started tracking:

  • Sleep (every day since Cairns last year) – Total of 2743.5 hrs sleep
  • Diet score (every day since Cairns): This is a blog in itself
  • Motivational levels (from 44 weeks out) This is a blog in itself
  • Weight and body composition (body composition 23 weeks out)
  • Daily steps (17 weeks out): 1,715,524 steps (including running) 
  • Work hrs (one week I normally work 24 hrs and the next 60hrs): Total of 2743.5hrs 

 

How do I compare to past years?

This is really hard to tell as in past Ironman, I normally let myself go and start to really train for it in the six months leading into it and by the time I get to Ironman, I am feeling really fit and can’t wait.

This time I stayed very consistent throughout the past year not letting myself get unfit so I feel normal. I have been able to do a few things in training I have never been able to do and I have recovered from training sessions faster than ever before so there are some positives, but there just isn’t that feeling like “Crikey I am feeling it”.

 

The twenty weeks leading into this Ironman Cairns

  • Swim 4km of greater: 13 swim sessions (2 more than last year)
  • Bike approx 4hrs: 7 rides (same as last year)
  • Bike approx 6hrs: 7 rides (3 less than last year)
  • Runs approx 20km: 9 runs (2 more than last year) 
  • Runs approx 30km: 8 runs (same as last year)
  • Brick sessions: 7 runs off the bike (3 more than last year)

 

Out of routine

I have had the past three weeks off from work and while I like being away from work, I am also a creature of habit so this time off work has taken me right out of my normal routine.  Little things that I do around my work/life has been really neglected while I was only looking at the big pitcher of “no more fucking work for three weeks”.Now, however I am playing catch up. I use Google Keep as my “to do list” and this list is filled with a lot of little jobs that would normally be completed as I go through my normal day to day life.

My coaching business is going along nicely but again, going back to my “to do list” I have so many jobs I need to complete with most being small funny things that doesn’t seem to be that big but can easily take up half a day on it.  Things like removing all the banner adds from my Train Smooth website to get people to opt in on my email list.  I am really backing away from this kind of business even though I know email marketing works, it has become very sleezey to me.  I only send out group emails now if I know I have something of value to offer.

Training is going along well, I have much to write about this but I will save it for the next blog I thing as I want to go into a little bit of information about where I am and why I am feeling the way I am feeling three weeks out of an Ironman.

There is something about doing an Ironman.  I only ever do one a year these days as that is what my budget allows.  Doing the race is neither here or there for me.  It is doing everything to get to the race. That is what I love the most.

I am still staying very consistent with my daily vlogs.  I will do a blog on how I create my vlogs with almost no time given very soon

Till next time,

Tim

 

Looking back through 2017

I do enjoy looking back and seeing what I have accomplished throughout the year.  I also enjoy reading what my training buddies have completed as well.

2017 stats for myself were:

Swim: 155 sessions with a total of 334.6km (14 more sessions and 47.6km more than last year).

Bike: 185 sessions with a total of 9101km (65 more sessions and 3237km more than last year).

Run: 129 sessions with a total of 1639.8km (13 more sessions and 65.2km more than last year).

Strength & Conditioning: 190 sessions (127 sessions more than last year).

I am disappointed with my running in 2017 however I did have many weeks throughout the year not running due to injury so I should be satisfied.


Changes I am looking to make:



In the lead up to last Ironman, I was the most consistent I have ever been when it came to miles and sessions however when it came to intervals and completing structured sessions, I wasn’t very consistent at all so this is one of two big things I hope to tackle in 2018.

I also had a shocking diet for the most part of 2017 so this is defiantly something I hope to fix.  Since June of last year, I have been scoring my daily nutrition every day and I log it in my training log.  To give an example on the quality of my diet.

In the past 29 weeks (the number of weeks I have been tracking my diet)

• Poor Days: 116 days

• Below satisfactory Days: 58 Days

• Satisfactory Days: 16 Days

• Good Days: 3 days

• Great Days: 7 Days

Even now while I write these stats out, I am disappointed with myself.  While I have been tracking these numbers, it isn’t something I have been looking at from an overview glance and think there are some major room for improvements.

Looking back throughout the year with my weight, the heaviest I weighed was 83.3kg. Normally my weights jumps a lot between 80kg and 82kg. Since tracking my weight, every year I would balloon out to 85kg plus so if I was to take a positive from 2017 with my weight, it would be it didn’t go over 83.3kg.

 

Motivation



Something else I have been tracking is my motivation/drive levels each day for the past twenty-one weeks, this is completely on how I feel each day.

• Poor Days: 13 days

• Below satisfactory Days: 29 days

• Satisfactory Days: 59 days

• Good Days: 28 days

• Great Days: 17 days

Niggling Injuries



One thing I picked up on right after Ironman Cairns was the amount of weeks I was nursing a niggling injury, had an injury or an illness was rather high.

Before Ironman Cairns 2017

• Niggling injury: 9 weeks I had a niggling injury of some kind or another.

• Injury: 4 weeks (just before Ironman Cairns)

• Illness: 6 weeks I had some sort of illness

After Ironman Cairns:

• Niggling injury: Zero

• Injury: 6 weeks (Achilles)

• Illness: Zero

As soon as I picked up on this after Ironman Cairns, I started using a foam roller often. In the past 28 weeks when I started using a foam roller, I have used it 79 times.

As for illness, well I am doing my best to stay away from anyone who looks remotely unwell and taking Hulk Hogan’s advice with “taking my vitamins and saying my prays Brother!”.