Now I am one month into my challenge, so I think it is a good opportunity to take stock, look back and see what I have done, and see where I need to go. This being the first month there has been lots to learn and many changes to how I do things, basically setting the foundations for the months to come.
The first week was messed up a bit due to disruption due to travelling as well as getting used to a new coach’s way of doing things, but other than that I managed to follow my plan accurately.
Just for fun at the end I have taken the best times I have achieved in each discipline during the month and calculated the equivalent time over the Half Ironman distance. I know this is incredibly unscientific and full of holes, but it at least gives me an idea of what is possible.
So let`s look back and see what’s happened.
Two big changes with the swim: technique and effort.
Firstly, my training has become more structured. My half IM training used to consist of 1-3 weekly sessions of straight continuous swimming, one between 1.5-2.2km, and the other ones being around 1km, with average weekly total of 3km. This time I have had two training sessions a week, both around 3km made up of intervals varying from 100 to 400m. Total Km swam, including lessons has been, 25km, with a weekly of 6km.
Secondly, I have been having lessons to try to turn me from a slow laboured swimmer into something at least that could be considered average. I have gone through a variety of swim coaches, always been short and intermittent lessons, so I tried to set up at least a month of regular lessons. This has, in theory been excellent, I have manged to bring my 25m best time down from around 25 seconds to 22 seconds, and my 50m time from about 1*10 to 56 seconds.
However, I say in theory because on Tuesday I decided to give myself a time trial of a straight 2km swim in my regular 25m pool, to see how the structured swimming and regular lessons translate into time gains. Unfortunately, was shocked to complete in 51 minutes and 45 seconds, a staggeringly miserly gain of 15 seconds over my best pool time before (for some reason my race timing is much faster, so I will just compare like for like here).
I have no idea what I am doing wrong, how my single lap time can be 22 seconds, the first lap of my 2km time trial can be 30 seconds but I average 39 seconds over all. It isn’t tiredness as I my 3rd lap was already 35 seconds. Is there anyone out there who can give me an answer as what I need to do to at least finish 2km within 45 minutes.
Total Distance (excluding lessons) – 22.9km
Number of sessions (excluding lessons) – 9
Number of Lessons – 6 x 60 mins
Total Hours (including lessons) – 16 hours
Longest Weekly distance – 6km
Time Trial – A) 50m – 00:56. Avg 100m 01: 52 B) 2km – 51:45. Avg. 100m @ 02:36
Projected HIM – A) 35:28 B) 49:24
Bike is an area which I need to make the most improvement, and while I am better biker than swimmer the time I can save by a faster bike leg will make or break my challenge. My coach is an amazing rider, he just completed IM Florida bike leg in under 5 hours, so I am going to listen to his every word and follow it religiously.
I have had three sessions a week, two intervals on my indoor trainer of around 80 minutes each combining warm up, one leg drills, speed/effort sessions and cool down, and the other a 3hour straight endurance ride. This compares with my previous 2-3 session a week, one would generally be around 2-3 hours endurance, the others would be 30-60 minute sessions indoors where I would try to keep my RPM above 70.
It took a while to master the one leg drills, but they are smooth now and I can tell the difference between a good pedal stroke and a bad one (whether I actually use that in a race or not is yet to be seen). I have a feeling I am not putting enough “oomph” into the speed/effort intervals as I am not used to going all out for 3-5 minutes then taking a break, but I am trying to concentrate and push harder.
What I have seen is a huge improvement in my long bike efforts. I have done most of them indoors, and last weekend I did my best ever over the 86.9km course I have set up as my standard session on my Computrainer.
I have just started to learn about training with power, and have been avidly reading about FTP and w/kg, but as of yet I don’t have a power metre so can’t really use those metrics, but I used an online calculator to get the result below.
Total Distance – 618km
Total Hours – 23.5
Total sessions – 12 (4 long bikes, 1 outside)
Longest Ride Distance – 99kg (86.9 indoors preceded by a 12.5 warmup spin outside)
Longest Ride Duration – 3:27
FTP – 162
Best pace over 3 hours – 29.2kph
Projected HIM – 3:04
This is the one sport of the three that I can claim to be in the top half, so I have been much more confident about my running going into this challenge. However, the funny thing is that this is the area I have probably changed most, and that change has potentially seen the best return.
I am talking about giving up my 5 years of daily running. It was something I have been wedded to for so long, I hadn’t realised how much it effected my daily life, but I can honestly say that the difference since I have given it up is momentous. I feel so much fresher physically, I am sleeping so much better and mentally the lack of pressure from having to find a time to run makes each day seem that much more enjoyable. My stiff knee and stiff back are much better and I don’t have the all-pervading feeling of exhaustion anymore. I must state again here, that the daily run streak really helped me get where I am, gave me discipline and made me realise that running can be a joy no matter where or when, but that time of my life is definitely over.
The change happened towards the end of the first month, my plan from Coach calls for two runs a week, one a pyramid session of 3 x 20 minutes intervals, the other a straight 90-minute endurance run. This compares with my previous routine of daily runs, which for half Ironman would consist of one log run 12-20km, plus a mix of other much shorter efforts between 3-8km, sometimes with track intervals, sometimes doing race pace effort for 30 minutes on the treadmill.
I have really enjoyed the two official sessions I now have, and can give my all to them. By month ned my interval sessions had improved and most significantly, I cut 20 seconds of my pace on the long run, with no extra effort (I try very hard to just run at a comfortable pace on my long run, not necessarily slow but something I could maintain for longer than has been set). I do believe I will need to add in a shorter pace session but for now, thumbs up all-round
Total Distance – 190km
Total Hours – 17.5
Total sessions – 25
Longest Run Distance- 17.50
Longest Run Time – 90 minutes
90 minute long run pace – 5:10
Projected HIM time – 1:49
Strength and Conditioning
I managed to get to my local gym at least twice a week for the last month, which has enabled me to work all my body properly. The gym I use in japan is excellent, it’s well maintained with a large variety of free weights and machines, and the natural politeness and consideration of the Japanese means it is always a pleasure to be there. I find the gym habits of the various nationalities across the world fascinating as they really vary widely and give an insight into the culture.
While it hasn’t been the best, it hasn’t been the worst either, I have basically been eating fruit and one or more of bread/rice/natto/tofu/muesli for breakfast, pasta and salad for lunch and a standard dinner, which will be rice, some fried meat or fish and veggies, plus a piece of fruit. My habit of always having chocolate after dinner, which I picked up when I quit smoking, is still a bad habit, but will think about that later of I need to. Another bad habit is eating again late at night, often cheese and biscuits with a glass of milk. However, thinking about it now, this seems to have bene connected with my daily runs which often happened around 10pm, and has stopped since I quit the run streak.
Had a few colds in October, but November I have been good, especially since I started to sleep better the last week or so. No real injuries, body has been tired and stiff, but that is what it’s supposed to be, although I need to stretch and use the foam roller more. My weight has been pretty stable although it’s difficult to tell as it jumps around so much. However, the range is now about 76-78k, which is probably 1kg lighter than beginning of the month.
Think this has been a great month, I feel I have opened a whole new world of training. Not having any further travel after the first week has enabled me to really focus and settle down, and I have been consistent, stuck to the plan I have ben given and have seen lots of improvements. The only blackspot is that my swim time trial showed no improvement to a year ago, although I take heart that my 25m and 50m times improved considerably.
Current HIM Prediction based on best times for month
Swim – 35 or 49 minutes
Bike – 3:04
Run – 1:49
Transition – 8 minutes
Total – 5:36 – 5:50
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