Well this has been a week, a very big week with lots happening, and lots done.
Are you sitting comfortably, then I shall begin
The week started with a flight back to Japan, although there was the little matter of Hurricane Lan to be negotiated first. It had hit Japan badly and was supposedly one of the worst of the season, already delayed my flight out of London by 4 hours. Luckily the worst had passed and other than headwind and a rather bumpy landing that added further delay, the trip was fine. However due to the airport only just opening, luggage was delayed by about an hour, so all in all I was very tired and very stressed once I arrived, and barely got a run in before jet lag hit and the rest of the day disappearing into fitful sleep. Tuesday was much the same, lots of unpacking, catching up etc again, so just a daily run.
Wednesday was a bit better, work was busy, but I managed to get to the gym for a quick swim and some strength work, as well as a “race pace” run on the treadmill. I also had a chance to reread the training plan Rob had sent me, and again started to feel uncomfortable looking at the lack of straight swim/bike/run sessions. Basically, I had two swims, two runs and three bikes per week, and apart from the long run, each session required intervals of some sort – which until now was something that I had avoided like the plague.
Below are a couple of samples of what the plan entailed
400 easy off 20 sec rest
300 easy off 20 sec rest
200 building off 20 sec rest
100 fast off 30 seconds rest
6 x 300 Race Pace off 20-30 seconds
20 min building warm up
10 x 1 min alternating single leg drills
5 mins easy
5 x 3 mins big gear. Pushing hard at a cadence of 70-80 rec 2 mins easy between Z3 for efforts
10 mins cool down
I am told this is very simple but for my uninitiated brain, it was like algebra and had my head spinning just looking! This wasn’t what I was used to and, so I wrote explaining I wasn’t someone who reacted well to such a structured base. I suggested it would be better that I focused on endurance and managed my intervals by doing them either with my club sessions or via private lessons. What was I thinking…
I had asked Rob to be my coach because of what he had done. I think I first came across his blog a couple of years ago, and it popped up often in various triathlon related searches. One of his catch lines was “from smoker to Kona” which I related to, and I enjoyed reading about his journey. So it was perfectly natural for him to write back and basically tell me I am being a wuss – that while I could train as I saw fit, as far as he knew I had asked him to get me to the world championships beacuase he had done it, and while he couldn’t promise to get me there he did know what was necessary. And that required certain doing things over and above what I did before, things that your average athlete probably didn’t do, things that will make me fatser and stronger, including intense intervals and structured training… take it or leave it!
Perfect kick up the backside! I will take it!
So, focus re-established I am pleased to say I did my first ever structured interval training in the pool and on the indoor bike trainer. Fascinating experience, immediately I realised the difference between ploughing out a straight 2km swim continuously and breaking it up into parts. Simply put with 2km, you just go into a routine, back and forth, back and forth. With smaller intervals, each one becomes its own work out, and I found myself much more into feeling what I was doing, being aware of the time, thinking about how I swam. I knew I would have a break after 8 laps, so I could put everything I had into that interval.
Similar thing on the bike, although was much more about technique. I did find it a little boring and less enjoyable than hitting out a straight 60-minute time trial on a random course, but I am sure I will get used to that. And it is the bike that I really need to make up time, so I need to listen to people who have been there and done that.
Saturday was my long run day, was damp and grey and didn’t feel inspired to run at all… until I thought about the fact I would need to explain any failure to follow the plan to my coach, which was enough to get me to the door and running. I did think about cutting it short a few times, but again releasing I would have to give some feeble excuse, I managed to get the whole 90 minutes done, and of course felt amazing when I finished.
Now I am sat writing while listen to the rains that herald the next typhoon pounding down outside. I had hoped to go for a ride outside on Friday morning, but the electric gears on my bike seem to become damaged on the flight back from Korea (the last time I had used it) and the chain kept slipping off, so it is now in the bike shop getting looked at. Therefore, my long ride this week will be on my Computrainer today.
All in all, a very interesting week and I can already see the huge benefit of having an external coach to push me. I am very unsure if I will be ready for my race in February though. While I am sure I will complete and finish much higher up the field, I very much doubt I will be able to improve enough to challenge for a spot… may need to rethink my race schedule.