Expectations

ExpectationsBuilding this funky new training diary has not only been engrossing but has proved quite an eye opener. It’s made data analysis (data mining as it would have been called in my old job) so easy across all the years I have kept a diary. It’s shown that my memory / perception of what I’ve managed is quite different from the actual facts. This has a big impact on your expectations when it comes to planning the next year.

The image above shows a table giving how many weeks I’ve managed to exceed a certain weekly yardage in each discipline. It surprised me when I saw these figures as the target mileage is something I just assumed I could achieve week in week out. This is clearly shown by the current state of the 2009 plan.

It’s interesting because I’ve consciously been trying to make the 2009 plan realistic having  recognized it’s much more encouraging to exceed your plan than not make it. I’ve managed to be conservative when it comes to the bike mileage. I’ve come close to that in all but 2004. This year I’ll almost certainly manage 22 weeks or above.

But look at swim and run. I’ve come no where near the targets I’ve set for myself. Like “everything comes in threes” – it seems to work but thats just because people only remember when something came in threes not the countless times it didn’t. When it comes to swim and run volume I clearly just remember the times when I ran big or swam far and not all the weeks I didn’t manage it. YES … I’m going to rejig my 2009 plan and make it more realistic.

Here’re some graphs

2004Expectations-1

2005Expectations-2

2006Expectations-3

2007Expectations-4

2008Expectations-5

So what are these ? They show what proportion of each days training  during a year was spent on swim (red), bike (green), run (blue), gym (yellow), pink (other) and nothing (grey).

I originally started looking at this graph to get an idea of how many consecutive days I was doing swim, bike or running. In particular I was originally interested in biking as I felt as a ‘non natural’ activity it was very important to engrain muscle memory. It gives a good visual for this. Swim and run are intentionally at bottom and top so it’s easy to see consecutive days of training. Bike is in the middle as green again allowing a good impression of consistency of getting out there. Note this gives no impression of absolute length of sessions.

So whats of interest? Firstly in 2004 the big block of green – Lands End To John O’Groats. Great fun and excellent low level cycle volume. Must not forget that this is meant to be fun. Long cycle tours like that are a great way of having fun, seeing great scenery and getting fit. Similarly, in those early years you can see a much higher density of blue – ie running. Back then I did so much fell running.

Looking more closely you’ll see that through 2004, 2005 and half of 2006 there is pretty consistent yellow. Ie gym work. Thats back in the days I worked full time and walked past the gym on the way two and from work. I regularly squeezed a gym session in. Not having to squeeze sessions in often means you don’t do them. I’ve certainly suffered from that as I’ve had more time to train.

Finally look at the first halves for 2006 and 2007. Is there a day without training ? I think there may be one in 2007.

What are the conclusions? Firstly I need to decide when I raced well and how all this relates. My best races have been in the early part of my Ironman career. My first year I raced both UK and Kona very well. That was back in the days before I’d “heard” that Ironman was hard and you needed to recover from them. My best performances were Longest Day (mid 2006) and Lanzarote (end May 2007). Based on this my initial thoughts are:

1.Stop believing all that you ‘hear’ … it just limits you. I feel I’ve been influenced into believing that Ironman is such a big thing. You build it up like this and then end up letting it slip in the weeks following. After my first Ironman (UK, 2005) it never even crossed my mind that I should take weeks off. I’d done numerous mountain marathons often running 8+ hours two days on the trot and just continued training the next week. Why should Ironman be any different ? In the week following UK I did 391 miles on the bike ! The Fri, Sat, Sun following had rides of 104, 121 and 124 miles ! Did I suffer ? No, about 7 weeks later I did a PB at Kona and went under 10 hours. It’s still my best Kona performance !

2.Gym work. I need to do it. I think I’d already started to believe this and the more I analyze it the more I realise I must get into the habit again.

3.Consistency. This year I’ve really gone for some big weeks but the cost has been much more fluctuation in weekly volume. I’m not saying I’m going to cut back massively but I think I will try and hold back from the really massive weeks and instead aim for slightly less but week in week out. I kinda know I may have to eat those words. Keeping this in check is one way I think I would benefit from having a coach !

4.More running in the hills. Will make better use of the moors near my mum. Get out in the hills near Christchurch and hopefully take up a friends offer (are you a reader Fiona ?) to stay in her flat near the Lakes at some point in the summer !

That it for now. My plan is to do a entry looking at each of swim, bike, run. It helps me to write about this analyze. I will also soon publish my new training diary in case any of you want to use it or take ideas from it.

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