Taper Turbulence

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 10,500m
  • Bike: 60km
  • Run: 10
  • Training Time: 8 hours

IMG_4831Taper week is an interesting one. For some it is a time to relax and recover in the lead up to an event. For others it is a chance to get in some last minute panic training. Sometimes it can be just about completing a few key sessions to keep confidence up. For me, this week was all about survival!

Being my last big build race before my goal race in Cairns in June, the plan this time around was to go in on a short taper. My body tends to bounce back on a short recovery so it is time to test the theory. After two massive days last weekend I hit the pool Monday morning for squad. Monday mornings are usually my sleep in however I had some work commitments in the afternoon so I had to suck it up and drag myself out of bed. It was a tough session but I surprised myself. I finished the session off strong and was looking forward to a few easier sessions over the coming days.

Tuesday morning was the usual strength endurance hill set. The plan was to take it easy and not dig myself a hole 5 days out from race start. As it turned out, there was no risk of me dIMG_4840igging a hole as I found myself deep in one from the get go. Usually when you are fatigued you can ask you body to give you at least one good set or rep. This was a different kind of feeling, I had absolutely nothing. I was well off what I am capable of and felt completely weak. I spent the rest of the day eating like I hadn’t seen food for a week! I hit the afternoons run session feeling far more spritely as a result. The run set consisted of 3x3km building speed and it went remarkably well considering what sort of shape I was in during the morning ride. I figured I just needed some extra fuel and I was back on track.

Oh how I was wrong. Wednesday’s swim was the usual Friday sprint session pulled forward as a large contingent of the swim squad are due to compete tomorrow at the Cole Classic in Manly.  I felt alright in the warm up but when it came time for the efforts I knew I was in trouble. My body was once again failing to respond when asked and I ended up pulling the pin on the set early. After sitting down with Coach Spot to discuss the race plan, we decided it was best to take it easy until Saturday. That meant a full day IMG_4838of Thursday which worked wonders. It was like I’d had a week of during Friday’s pre flight taper swim. After easing into it, I felt strong and full of energy once again.

Finally down in Geelong and the turbulent week continued. Somewhere along the way I managed to pick up the most subtle of rear tire leaks that meant I only made it 20km through test ride around the bike course. Not even the experts at Baretta’s Bike Studio could find it! Nothing a bit of sealant can’t fix however and I was back on the road. With the bike sorted and racked I got a short sharp swim in, felling pretty good once again.

It will be interesting to see how this short taper experiment
goes. Part of me feels like I may have peaked a week early as I still don’t feel as energised as I usually am. Part of me also knows that once that gun goes off tomorrow everything is likely to fall into place. Either way I’m excited to race again and can’t wait to get amongst it tomorrow!

Test Week

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 14,400m
  • Bike: 310km
  • Run: 34km
  • Training Time: 19 hours

After starting to dial it up last week, this week was all about testing to see where I am at, and if all the hard work has paid off. I kicked off the week a little fatigued too so I swum a little easier than usual on Monday and held back a little on Australia Day’s hill repeat brick session. Easing back a little at the start of the week yielded some nice dividends later in the week. I felt back to my usual self for Wednesday’s swim set and was primed to hit the test sessions in the back half of the week with intent.

A sneak peek of things to comeThe inclement weather cleared up and we were presented with beaming sunshine and a truck load of humidity to boot at Thursday afternoon’s run fitness test. The course has been shifted out from 1km to 1.5km which made it all the more challenging. We were to do 4 to 5 sets on a short 200m recovery jog getting faster each lap. Starting at around half marathon pace I opted for a slightly conservative 5:00 pace for the first lap with the aim of getting 15 seconds per KM faster each rep. The 4:45 and 4:30 laps were solid and I still felt ok, even with the humidity, but I knew the real challenge was still to come. There was no shame in failure going into the 4th and 5th set so I pushed a little harder and got through the 4th in 4:13 and wasn’t sure how much I’d have left for the final effort. Despite the energy sapping humidity I got through the final rep in at 3:55, leaving the tank completely empty. It was my best run to date with my improved form holding up well.

Saturday was a little more challenging with a brick test set. This included a 40km time trial bike with 10km tt run. The bike was split into two sections with the first 20km to be at half ironman pace with the final 20km flat out. I had my race set-up and was expecting a positive result utilising my race wheels and aero helmet. I was stoked with the end result, getting through the 40km with a PB which I wasn’t really expecting given that the first 20km was at around 80%. The run TT was a similar format, half marathon pace as opposed to half ironman pace for the first half then flat out for the second. After Thursday’s fitness test I really wanted to The Interviewsee where I was at, so I went out at 4:45 pace for the first half. It felt comfortable but I knew the second half was really going to hurt as the fatigue from the bike TT and humidity started to bite. I went after it and was getting along at a 4:28 pace knowing full well I was pushing my limitations. Sure enough with just over a km to go I blew! I just could not hold onto it. I still managed to limp home for a small negative split. Despite the blow up it was still a great indication of how far I have come and gives me some good insights ahead of next weekend.

Finally, Sunday was a long ride with TT efforts at race pace. The course was around 140km including 80km of efforts at race pace (2x15km and 2x25km). It was a far cry from the 2xflat laps and hill loop from the 40km TT. It took everything I had to get through the entire ride holding race pace for the TT efforts. The rolling hill course was made for a great tune up one week out from race day.

I’m not one for a huge taper and prefer to keep the body active in the week leading up to the race. Saying that, the week will be a combination of solid but not flat out sessions, some easy sets and some short fast stuff to limit fatigue. Now all that is left to do is sit down with the Mad Scientist, Coach Spot, where after a few home truths and a reality check or two, we will devise a race plan for Geelong 70.3.

Dialling It In

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 16,400m
  • Bike: 268km
  • Run: 37km
  • Training Time: 18.5 hours

With only three weeks left till race day it’s time to utilise the base that has been built and start dialling it in for race day. This week’s statistics were similar in volume to the past few weeks however there were some key differences. Needless to say, I finished the week knowing I had dome some solid work. There were two key sessions that were the focus this week and one other that really stood out.

Heading into Wednesday morning’s swim session I was really starting to feel fatigued, as Sunday’s solid long ride was catching up with me. I had planned to drop down a lane and ease it back a bit but thanks to a big turn out I was forced to slug it out in the back of the fast lane. It’s amazing that sometimes when you really feel like you have nothing to give, you turn in a great session. We were doing 3x descending 100s followed by 2 fast 50s with a 200m swim off. I saw the time repeat and knew it would only be a matter of time till I blew up. As it turns out, being fatigued meant my stroke rate remained low and I ended up making not only the first set but all four, even if IMG_4793I had to skip some of the 200m swim off between sets. It really helped me recognise that sometimes when I’m pushing too hard in the pool my stroke rate increases unnecessarily and my technique deteriorates. I took this lesson into Friday’s swim session with fantastic results.

Now the first of the two key sessions this week was Thursday’s bike session. It was a 60km TT building each 20km from 70% to finish at 90%. The kicker was we had to alternate between big gears and regular gears each 10km. After a 15km warm up the first 20km felt fairly pedestrian and it was actually hard to hold back as the legs felt good. Kicking it up gear in the next 20km I started to feel the pinch about 3/4 of the way through and thought I could be in trouble here. As I hit the final 20km I was now solo and pushing hard. Everything suddenly clicked and I was feeling good and the pace felt pretty quick. I finished the final 20km in 29:42 which is as quick as my PB at 100%. The real test will come next Saturday when we line up for the traditional pre race 40km TT which is the last key hit out before race day.

The second key session for the week was Saturday’s long run. I was lIMG_4795ooking forward to it after being excused from Thursday nights hill run session to freshen up. I knew I was going to need the extra rest. The session was split into two with the first half a 90 minute out and back run at a steady pace before we got into some interval work. It was my first long slow run with my new technique so I was interested to see how I would go. The pace was comfortable at around 5:40 and I felt great (aside from my ongoing toe issue which has also improved remarkably). The real test was coming. After returning from the out and back we were straight into a fartlek session. It was a pyramid set, which is hard enough on the best of days let alone after a 90 min warm up run. At the end, it finished up being a 26.5km run in total and I was very happy with the outcome. I finally feel like my run is coming together.

With 2 more weeks left things are really starting to fall into place. Still a few boxes to tick over the next 11 days before a few days taper ahead of race day, but the excitement is building!

 

Running Riot

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 16,000m
  • Bike: 241km
  • Run: 36km
  • Training Time: 18.5 hours

Working on my TechniqueThis we will go down as not only one of the key weeks of this build but potentially the most important of my short triathlon career so far. While I’m not a terrible runner, it is my weakest leg. The additional training volume since taking up triathlon has exposed my sub-optimal running technique which has resulted number of minor injuries and niggles which have stopped me from reaching my potential. That could be about to change. I have been working of my technique with coach Spot for some timer. Despite his guidance I just hadn’t been able to crack the optimal running formula. Like a scene out of Big Bang Theory, one of BondiFit’s more accomplished runners walked into the room at the start of Thursday’s run session and solved my complicated running formula with one observational comment. He didn’t know it at the time but it has made a monumental impact on my running ability.

The subtle change I made to my run technique off the back of his comment saw all the cues Spot has been drilling into me fall into place. All of a sudden I was running much faster than usual, at least 30 seconds per km, at a much higher cadence with much less effort. My heart rate was not impacted at all and I experienced far less fatigue. I could not believe it, how could such a small change have such a big impact. I focused on the change again during Saturday’s run which followed a hill repeat bike session and Early morning rll out with the crewI got the same result. I ran my 3.5km flat lap of the park comfortably and to my surprise managed a 4:25 pace when I would usually be working overtime to break below 5:00 after a hill repeat bike session. It has certainly increase my optimism and belief that I have the potential to reach my triathlon goals.

The other key session for the week was Sunday’s long ride. Instructions were to lead the group to the start of the Royal National Park but once there, Let Rip. The national park from top to bottom is a hard slog at the best of times. I managed to push some handy numbers all the way to Austinmer where we would re-group with the slower riders who entered the park half way down before heading back through the park. The 50km return leg ended up being a solo effort with my time only 1 min 18 seconds behind the out lap. Despite doing limited speed work so far this preparation, I am happy with my ride form for the 90km effort to come in Geelong. That said, it is a much different proposition when all three legs come together.

With only 3 weeks till race day every session counts!

Back to Business

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 17,500m
  • Bike: 275km
  • Run: 27km
  • Training Time: 20.5 hours

The sun finally appearedFollowing a big week of endurance sessions over the holiday I was really looking forward to getting into some speed work with only four short weeks to go until Geelong 70.3. Unfortunately, torrential rain over the first four days of the week limited the ability to open up the throttle. Tuesday’s hill repeats were a little treacherous; descending repeatedly down Watson’s Bay Hills in the heavy rain. The rain was still around during Thursday’s interval session in the park which meant the focus was more on strength work rather than speed.

The rain also had an impact on this week’s run session. Coach Spot decided to move the usual Tuesday track session to the park which was a refreshing change. Luckily, the rain doesn’t have as much of an impact on run sessions as it does on the bike session. I was happy with 4 solid 2km efforts at 4:30 pace as I continue to manage a by ankle impingements. Unfortunately, a stubbed toe meant that I didn’t get to enjoy Thursday’s run session in the sun, once it finally emerged, as much as I would have liked. I took the rest of the week off running inAlmost too fast for the cameraman the hope that the rest will allow me to get back to running without discomfort next week. It would be nice to go into a race with full run fitness for a change!

The sun kept shinning all the way through to the weekend which meant there would be plenty of fun in the sun. Without having to keep fuel in the tank for the usual Saturday run session, I let it all hang out on Saturday morning’s 40km TT. The first 20km (2x 2flat laps/1Hill lap) was in the 53/11 gear ratio followed by another 20km in any gear. I wanted to see where I was at, so went right after it with my first 10km taking 14:53 and the second 14:49. Unfortunately, pushing that hard in such a heavy gear was alway going to catch up with the second 20km taking 32:10 for a final result of 1:01:52. That’s around 2 minutes off my best from last year but given it was my first speed session on the TT in a month I’m pretty happy with my starting point for the year. Sunday was the usual long ride day and I was under instruction to stretch the legs a little. The long rides Pumping surf at Bondi Beachthe week before were a blessing and despite blowing up in the TT yesterday I got through the 123km right on four hours, even with 1500m of climbing.

By far and away the best session this week was Saturday’s surf/swim session at Bondi Beach. The surf was still pumping after the stormy weather earlier in the week, however the water was remarkably clear with all the run off already disappearing. We spent over 90 mins racing out in the rips and charging back in on some big surf. There was plenty of carnage but it was so much fun. It was also a great chance to give my new 2XU Project X X:3 wetsuit another hit out. Coach Spot once again put himself in the firing line, taking one hammering after another to get some awesome action shots!

With five weeks down things are really starting to ramp up. The week ahead will see more speed sessions in the pool and on the bike. Hopefully I can get my feet right so that I can get some quality running in, for confidence more than anything.

Going Long

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 12,000m
  • Bike: 455km
  • Run: 30km
  • Training Time: 27.5 hours

IMG_4663This week was all about taking advantage of holidays to get some big KMs in. I didn’t really have a target for the week, I just added some extra KM’s to my usual sessions. Before getting to the bike though, the week started with two oceans swim, the morning in Coogee and the afternoon in Bondi. It was also my first opportunity to get out and test my new 2XU ProjectX X:3 wetsuit. Despite the choppy conditions it could instantly notice the difference going from a sleeveless to a sleeved wetsuit. Another ocean swim at Bondi on Wednesday morning, with calmer conditions, really highlighted the benefits that this wetsuit offers. It is like free speed! I now need to do more ocean swim training to do it justice on race day in 5 short weeks.

As mentioned, time off work this week afforded me the opportunity to get a few more bike KMs in the legs. This weeks tally of 455kms is around 50% more volume than I am used too which meant most big mornings were followed by some timely midday naps. I racked up over 100kms on Tuesday and Thursday just cruising around the beaches, mostly in the east before taking on a long north shore ride to finishIMG_4674 the week. Sunday’s ride had a bit of everything. At 170+ KM’s it was a little longer than I would usually do on a long ride. It had over 200m of elevation so the climbing legs got a good workout. There was a fair amount of rain and a nice stiff headwind that took its toll over the final 45kms. The extra time in the saddle this week will hopefully give me a good endurance base as I head into the final four weeks of preparation ahead of Geelong. The aim now will be to add some speed work back into the program over the weeks ahead in the lead up to the race. While I really enjoy the long days on the roady, nothing beats going fast and I can’t wait to get back on the TT this week, especially after it has just had a once over from Steve and the guys at AvantiPlus Narrabeen.

Even with the long rides, I still managed to get in 30km of run, building back up from last weeks 22km. I helped out fellow BondiFitter Brad Martens, by pacing him through some 2km efforts, as he looks to build speed. It was a great session for me as I could stretch out my legs and see where they at without placing them under too much duress. This was a good lead in for Saturday’s coastal run which took us from Bondi to Coogee and back. The aim was to run out slow for 40 mins then cover the return leg in 30 mins for a 10 min negative slip. Obviously the IMG_4681slower you run out the easier the run home is. I went out relatively slow, aiming to give myself enough of a margin to get back in 30 mins, with the additional holiday foot traffic making the challenge a little harder. I got back in 31:20, a little slower than I would have liked but still managed to really wind the legs up at times. So far managing the impingements in my ankles isn’t proving too much of a drama with the extra stretching/rolling and the anti-inflammatories doing the trick. I have a habit of overcooking my run in the lead up to event, doing it three times now, so I will be treading extra carefully over the weeks ahead with the aim of getting to the start line in one piece!

 

Bump in the Road

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 7500m
  • Bike: 261km
  • Run: 22km
  • Training Time: 16.5 hours

IMG_4541As every aspiring athlete would know, progress when training in never linear and I was reminded of that this week. Last Sunday on my long run I rolled my left ankle 20 mins in to the 90 minute session. It felt innocuous at the time as I was able to continue running after a brief stretch, I did not pull up well the following day. With my training plan only having one run until boxing day, due to the holidays throwing things out a little, I took the first 5 days of the week off running to give things time to settle. I also had it looked at by my physio as I have also had some minor discomfort in my right ankle for a couple of weeks. Good news is no major damage however I have impingements on both my ankles which will require constant stretching and rolling along with anti-inflammatories as required.

The weather wasn’t kind either which provided further disruptions to the training schedule. Nevertheless, I still managed to get through a decent amount of training. Swimming was a little slow as kicking was not ideal with my ankle still inflamed from Sunday. Riding was my one saving grace as it was largely unaffected. The majority of this weeks cycling was strength/endurance work with the TT bike taking a breather over the holidays.IMG_4616

The rest from running through the week did my ankle the world of good. I had a two hour slow run in the program for boxing day so I headed out early, optimistic that I could get at least a few solid KMs in. After feeling a little ginger early on, the further I went the better the ankle and the whole body felt. After starting at 6 min KMs I covered the last few of my 22km total at 5:30 pace which felt rather easy. As far as holiday training goes, it wasn’t too bad a week, a little less volume than I would have liked but with the coming week off work I will be looking to get a little more training done.

Adding Load

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 14000m
  • Bike: 240km
  • Run: 55km
  • Training Time: 19.5 hours

This week the focus was to to add run volume to my program. The additional run volume meant a little less swimming and biking over the course of the week to accommodate the extra run KM’s but that didn’t mean slacking off. Despite my run needing work, the weekly track session is still one of my favourite session each week.

IMG_4468My love of track was tested as my program had me turn up early and run 15x400m on 2 min (5min pace) before the main set got underway. The main set was then suppose to be 3km, 2km then 1km building pace. My 3km quickly became 5km as punishment for running the first 3km too fast. I managed to hold the quicker speed finishing in 22:30. I then did the 2km un under 9 mins before running another 2km alternating between 200m easy and 200m hard. When all was said and done I clocked up 19km for the session.

The track session was a taste of things to come with endurance becoming the theme of the week. Friday the annual BondiFit Christmas Swim, this year it was a 5km TT. My goal was to go out steady with the goal of breaking 90 mins. At the halfway point I was 31 seconds behind schedule, going out in 45:31. I thought I had picked up the pace over the next 500m only to find out I had lost another 6 seconds. Fortunately by going out a little easier I had enough in the tank to peg back the differential over the last 2kms, eventually coming home in 44:13 for a 89:44 overall.

On Saturday I hit centennial park for some laps to get IMG_4488some extra KM’s in. Despite the boredom of 12 x 10km sets (2 flat laps & 1 hill lap) it was a great session to get some quality KM’s. I working on holding  solid pace throughout the duration with middle 10 sets all around th
e same time splits. Finishing off the week was the second of two 90 mins run for the week. After already running my usual course on Thursday I opted for a change of scenery on Sunday and had an amazing run around the botanical gardens with an out and back lap over the harbour bridge for good measure. All up it was another solid week and the body seemed to handle the extra run load quite well.

The next two weeks will be challenging with the holidays making it a little harder to keep the volume up but I will be doing my best to stick to the program. Two weeks down and 6 to go!

The Build Begins

This weeks Stats:

  • Swim: 17000m
  • Bike: 287km
  • Run: 43.5km
  • Training Time: 22.5 hours

After a false start my first week back from a week off in Thailand, my now 8 week block ahead of Ironman 70.3 finally got underway. Sitting down with Coach Spot Anderson midway through the week, I was given a reality check that things were going to get tough.

Up until the meeting, the week started like any other week. My lone sleep in Monday morning, followed by a swim Monday night, hill bike session Tuesday morning and a track run IMG_4312.JPGsession Tuesday night. After our post Wednesday morning swim session I knew it was going to be a big weekend. Rather than hitting Bondi for the regular surf swim after the mornings bike/run brick, I had to run a further 90 mins on top of the run intervals that were part of the brick session. On top of that, rather than being saved from the swim session, I hit the pool in the afternoon for a 2000m test set and a further 1000m of swim down. Add in a cheeky 30m run after Sunday’s 4 hour bike ride and it made for my biggest week of training EVER.

It looks like a sign of things to come as we do more work on my run! Next week has a few more curve balls thrown in to get the run km’s up so it will be another tester ahead of Christmas.