Tomorrow I start my two day trip to get myself back to Lanzarote for a two week training camp. The picture above is my aero bar setup on my Look. I’ve just switched to full aero extensions and put on elbow pads. This is my planned setup for Wimbleball so I will ride it throughout the two week training camp. This past week has been a solid weeks training though not too massive as I’m very aware the next two weeks will be big and I need to keep some of my 100 hours in reserve for the week I return. I’ve decided against riding today as the weathers not so great and my throat is a little sore again … so I will keep these hours in the bank to use in Lanzarote.
Since my foot surgery my run progress has been slow and it’s meant my race performances haven’t been what I’d hoped. I am philosophical about it though. This game requires patience and it’s something I certainly have. Over the last few weeks I feel things are really starting to fall in to place.
Over the winter I got very strong in the water on less swimming I had been doing. I think this was due to good solid squad training. Coming back here my worry was that the lack of a squad and training in a public session would hold me back. Last week it was solved when I got accepted in to a local swim squad. I have done a week of it and what fun. This is a competitive swim squad not a Tri Swim squad which means the training is so much more interesting – all strokes, work on turns, push offs, fly kick underwater etc… I’m also very impressed with the coach. He picked up all the usual stuff about my stroke which everyone that has ever looked at it has but interestingly he felt none of that stuff was the key problem (slapping right hand on entry, fingers slightly wide apart), he felt I was losing the water in the first half of my stroke. He said my arm position at the catch was bang on, similarly in the transition from pull to push but between the two I lost the water. He’s got me aware of when I’m doing it right and like he said when I do it right my arms feel it within ten strokes. I went immediately from 19 or 20 strokes per length (25m) when swimming steady to 12 or 13. When swimming hard from 20 or 21 to 14 or 15.
The focus now has been maintaining the stroke count all the time. At the end of the main set I did a 400, negative split holding 14 strokes per length. I went 2:49, 2:40 for a 5:29. It felt controlled and my limiter was definitely arm strength not aerobic. Given my times as a junior the coach feels I should be able to get down to under 4:40 for 400 ! That would be awesome.
Now, many may think whats the point as that would put me off the front in many races. well, the point isn’t to go quicker but to go easier. My aim is to get really strong at swimming again so I can sit in one of the front groups and swim easy for a split round about 50 minutes.
The reduced running of the past two years has been quite a good thing for my biking. I feel that the 6 months last year of virtually no running allowed my biking to really come on. I can see just from average speeds that all my riding is quicker these days. My bike splits have come down and I feel I now have a good sense of what I need to do to ride quick for Ironman.
This has been the real problem. For a long while I’ve been held back from pushing on with it from an underlying fear of re-rupturing the tendon. Since it was fixed but the cause not identified I was worried it would re-rupture. This fear has not been removed even with the consultant feeling this couldn’t be from over-use but had to be some sort of trauma. Well, I’ve finally figured out the most likely cause. Back in 2004 I raced Helvelyn Triathlon and very badly cut the ball of my foot. I patched it up best I could and never went to see anyone. I am pretty much convinced this was the cause. Thats a load of my mind and opens up the feeling I can train hard at running.
The second big thing has been sorting out my run technique. I’d become a horrible heel striker following my surgery but thanks to Helen at Ten-Point Triathlon I’ve really revamped my running. This will take time to get all the muscular endurance back. On Thursday I did an 11km loop at 5 min /k at a heart rate of 130. That was hugely encouraging. 3:30 pace at a HR below what I’d race at. Then yesterday I ran a similar route and it felt very hard and my pace was 5:30 / k. However, the heart rate was 124. The run on Thursday had a VDOT of 66.4 and yesterdays 66.1 – they were consistent. The issue wasn’t my pace for a given HR it was my ability to get to that heart rate. For me this means I still need to improve my fitness so I can run at those higher HRs in an Ironman. This is something to be careful about when looking at MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) paces. It’s one thing to run a certain pace for 5 miles in a MAF test and this may indicate potential for your pace in an Ironman but without the right training around it you’re unlikely to be able to tap in to that sort of pace in a race.
I am feeling very settled now in Taunton. I now have access to 4 x 1.5hr squad swim and a 1 hour squad swim each week. The riding around here is absolutely fantastic. I could probably go a whole year without repeating a route and from our house we can be on minor roads more or less immediately. Running is similar – nice loops from the house, a tow path that allows traffic, stop free running for up to 26 miles ! Pool is close, bike shop is close, centre of town is close which means life is just less hassle. The environment is right.
Putting all this together it feels like I have everything in place and now I just have to get on with it. Like having planted a garden it just needs watering and a little tweaking. I just need to get out and train and things should improve.
Back to patience. How long ? I hopeful for good results this year but I feel that it will take till next year to really start to see the full improvements I’m hoping for in swim and run. I’m feeling pretty excited about Triathlon right now.