Big Changes Part II – Bike and Run

So, as promised, following last week’s write up on the swim training, this second part will focus on the new bike and run regimes.

First thing I can say is that it’s tough, I have that tiredness in my legs during the day that I usually only get when I am hitting the big numbers during peak training… and I am only at the very beginning now.  I’m either going to be super fit or a dead man walking by the time my first race rolls around in February

Ironman, Gurye, Korea
With my two new friends at Gurye Ironman in Korea

The Bike

OK so let’s start with the bike. The main difference now is that I’m doing two indoor sets per week that both are based around intervals. They always start with a 20 minute warm up, then go into 20×1 minute alternative one leg drills.

There is much written about one-leg drills but I must admit I had basically ignored to date, thinking I had no need to be perfect and my “mash it and smash it” approach works just fine.. well, as with just about everything else, I am proving myself wrong in a big way. Right from the start I realised that by using an inefficient pedal action then it becomes much tougher to do, so naturally I am focusing on getting it right and finding the sweet spot in terms of speed and resistance to keep a smooth stroke. Once I start getting tired or lose concentration,  my legs start to push up and down rather than moving in the circular motion and immediately the chain starts making the tell-tale “clank”, which prompts me to refocus on my form. It is obvious there is a right way and a “less right way” to pedal, and during a 90 or 180k ride, the difference must be huge.

After the one leg drills I go into hard 3-5 minute intervals which require effort and strength, with a 2-3 minute recovery in between. This works amazingly well as I  can go much harder knowing I have a break coming in a few minutes. After all done I have a cool down, which is mreo like a “come down” as I am invariabley on a high by this point.

I am sure for the majority of you out there, this all seems blindingly obvious, after all it is standard training technique for every pro and serious age grouper, plus a mainstay of every training plan ever written, but if you are like me and have been ignoring these things in favour of either continual hard efforts of just getting on the bike and riding, then this really is an eye opener.

My weekend long ride by comparison is much simpler, it’s just a straight 3 hours ride, although the plan does suggest finding a hill half way through, but I haven’t tried that yet, as hills are sprinkled through the route I generally take. I still have a problem getting up and out on the bike, and although I have managed a few  more times than usual,  indoor rides have been substituted on several occasions. Apparently that is fine though, however I feel I really should try to get outside more.

The Run

Ok, so next up is the run.. my good old run,  I started this whole thing off by doing a marathon in 2004 and have done numerous races since, I am just off Boston qualifying pace, I have been “streak” running every single day for over five years, with weekend long runs, the odd session at the track and fast runs on the treadmill at the gym, so not much to learn here right..? Wrong!!!

I only have two session in my plan per week, although I have continued to do my daily run (more on that later). The long weekend run is a fun 90 minute LSR, which I have basically run at a comfortable but reasonable pace along the same 4-7k loop ( I can make the loop shorter or longer by adding extra side roads etc). What fascinates me about this run is the pace, because the three weeks I have done since getting back to Japan has given me results of 5:30 per km, 5:34 and 5:30. Meaning I basically always run the same, no matter the weather, the time of day or how tired I am. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing….

However, the big change has been my midweek run, the 20 20 20 split. I start with a warm up and then do 3 x 20 minutes with a short 30 second break in-between, with each 20 minute interval being run at 15-20 seconds faster pace than the one before. One critical point is not to be going flat-out at the end, so need to control the urge to start too fast to ensure there is always something left in the tank for the last segment.

I really enjoy this, it amazes me that by splitting it up and adding a little challenge makes it go so quickly. If it was a straight 70-80min run I would be bored, but this keeps me focused and trying hard right until the end. I have done this twice now, both with basically the same result,

Warm up – around 5:50 pace, trying to keep it slow
First 20 mins – around 5:50 pace. I can’t get this right, I always find myself starting too fast so slow down halfway, but end up going too slow
Middle 20 mins – relaxed 5:30 at my natural pace, flows easily
Final 20 minutes. A fun slightly pushing pace at around 5:15 . I can feel the endorphins coming up and feel like I’m running with a huge smile on my face.

So there we have it, my new regime! It seems so simple and so obvious reading back over what I have written, but this really had been a massive change for me and the tiredness in my body tells me I am using muscles and stressing my body in ways that I haven’t before. It’s painful, but that good pain that tells us we are doing something right, and I am determined to keep follwoing the plan and keep getting the run done!

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