Monthly Archives: August 2014

(Time) Trial & Error – The 100m/10m Brick Revisited

I had a re-run of my 100 mile and 10 mile run Brick session I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I blew up on the run majorly the first time of asking, so this time I was determined not to repeat that. What I learned from the first attempt was a possible mishap with nutrition, pacing and general naivety!

I stuck strictly to my nutrition plan on this second attempt, taking in half an SiS Go Bar every half an hour after the first hour, with a handful of jelly babies. This is the general formula of 1g of carb per 1kg of body weight. I sipped plenty of water, taking in 6 bottles all together. I had a High5 gel 5 minutes before the end of the ride and most importantly this time I took a gel on the run at 5 miles and also sipped water throughout. The latter is what was lacking in my first attempt and paid dividends in this second run.

BRICK Analysis

BRICK Analysis

I actually rode quicker, averaging 0.5mph faster over the 100 miles with 21mph. I then held my 8 minute mile pace on the run and didn’t get too excited when I felt good and stayed at this pace throughout. I set off too quickly previously and paid for it later.

Overall, I’m very happy with this and it is the final century ride I will do before Challenge Almere in two weeks time. Tomorrow I take the mileage down to 80 mile ride and 3 mile run brick, all done at the same target pace. This will lead into a week of training heavier at the start  of the week and then begin to taper down from 8 days out race day.

It’s good to repeat this session and prove to myself I can do the desired pace. It’s also good to find out this early about my nutrition plans as this is now set in stone as to what I will take and use at what times and just how much. Hydration being the main point.

I rode the same flat course, in similar conditions on the same bike and set up, just tweaked the nutrition.


Shaven Legs – Her Reaction!

With just over 2 weeks until my ‘A’ race of 2014, the European Long distance Championships at Challenge Almere, I have acquired my first injury of the year. It’s depressing as hell, a real blow mentally and obviously physically. My right foot is struggling after a long 16 mile run on the Northern Irish coast, which was undulating and windy. I am due to rest and recover and see my physio and coach Paul Savage for treatment this Friday in the hope to turn this around quickly. I can take comfort from a great block of run training in the bag, so as long as I can avoid aggravating it further I will hopefully carry my base fitness over this next fortnight.

The moodiness I’ve felt since has brought me on to another point, which I am guilty of neglecting and selfishly putting to the back of my mind. The affect on my girlfriend Lynsey around this recent set back and how I then act and behave.
I think having my ‘A’ race so late in the year this time around has just dragged on a little too long. Training has been high volume and hard on my body. I have set a self imposed drinking ban 3 months out from the race and most of my weekends have revolved around long rides and brick session that take up a lot of time. It hit home when Lyns said in conversation that she is looking forward to going out for dinner and sharing a bottle of wine again. Something we take for granted and the fact that she has noticed that this fundamental part of our relationship has not happened for a while made me feel like I have let her down a bit and not given her the attention she deserves.

The other girl in my life

The other girl in my life

She is so good at letting me get on with things and understands how important training and this race is to me. She recently turned 30 and we hired a big cottage for 25 of her friends to party over two nights – I didn’t drink but I still had a good time. Then in Northern Ireland we went back to see her family and friends where again I can’t drink but still had a good time. It gets on me too, constantly answering questions as to why and how I can cope without drinking from her pissed up friends. It’s a like being pregnant – moody, sober and craving cake.


Lynsey’s 30th Birthday (sober) Toga Party

I’ve taken annual leave days to fit in training, something I should be using with Lyns. I go to bed early, leave her up on her own and I get moody when I don’t. It’s difficult to talk about training with anyone apart from my coach Paul as Lyns doesn’t really understand the regime and how I’m feeling about sessions and although she tries to answer my anxieties and worries as best she can, it’s difficult to turn our dinner time conversations into training as well. I’d hate to think that my boring lifestyle has held her back from doing things and going places or seeing people and having nights out. It’s important to make time for her.

I think the tipping point will have been when I shaved my legs, something Lyns was dead against. I still did it and she wasn’t happy! Listen to her reaction above when I recorded it and played it out on my radio show the following day!

I’m just ready to race now and feel training has gone on 4 weeks too long this year. I’m ready to get it out of the way and enjoy that dinner and drink with my girl. Spend some time, money and attention on her now rather than swim, bike, run which it has been for the majority of the year.

The 100/10 Brick Test

This is a week late going up on the blog:

As I sit in the coffee shop, hips grinding and calves burning from tackling the stairs I know I’ve just done a big session the day before.
The 100 mile ride and 10 mile run brick session was looking at me on the plan I have pinned to my wall for a few weeks. It’s a bit of a Joe Skipper special session that this years IMUK’s runner up put in his plan in his build up. Joe writes a great blog and is regularly sharing his training on strava. My coach Paul Savage (who also works with Joe) ran this set before going on to a 9:27 at IM Austria.

The Idea:
It’s one of those session that looms that you kinda look forward to, but once you’re kitted up on the morning of doing it all of a sudden becomes a tad daunting. You’re going to be out of the house doing exercise for between 6 and 7 hours!

These are the sessions that really start the day before. It’s a test, a simulation of what you might be hoping to do come race day in terms of pace and times. Eat the right food the day before and for breakfast. Have a decent nights kip and lay the kit out ready to rock at 6am. Ideally timed around what time you will be racing at.
It’s a session that will address nutrition issues and show up any tweaks you want to make to your bike set up.

Bike – 100 miles – Strava
I had a nice route laid out, reasonably flat with 3 left turns so there was no stopping at junctions and also no traffic lights so I could do as fair a test as possible.
I nailed the 100 mile bike in 4:49 which was promising, holding an average speed of 20.50mph which is about where I want to be at. Hopefully closed roads and the extra fitness I will gain between now and September will hold this nicely on race day.
I used my TT bike, but not with race wheels. I now switch to using this bike in all my rides, but want to save the wheels to avoid any wear and damage and also enjoy the extra percentage they’ll give me in the race.

I took on half a SiS Go Bar every half hour after the first hour, with a hand full of jelly babies here and there. I went through 4 bottles of water and took a High 5 energy gel 5 minutes before of the end of the ride.
I used SiS Go Bars at Ironman UK last year and they seemed to work and the High 5 gels are what have been advertised as the official nutrition supplier for Challenge Almere so I wanted to test these myself – no surprises on race day.

Run – 10 miles – Strava
Once off the bike, I set off a little too quickly on my run. I was meant to be aiming for race pace, but I got a bit excited. I didn’t take any nutrition with me, not even water on what was a warm day so I can attribute some of my explosion to both the over zealous pacing and lack of hydration.
It wasn’t too dissimilar feeling to what In had at Chester Marathon back in October when I fell apart in the final few miles. My stomach locked, my HR was fine and my legs felt good. It was taking breath and a solid core that halted me pretty instantly.

So what I have learned from the test? I can hold a good bike speed, without going into the red zone. I believe I can build on this too, which fills me with confidence. The other positive was the run split! I need to have a think and review this run with my coach Paul Savage and evaluate whether my pacing needs to be addressed or my nutrition. I think its a combo of both, but the idea of doing this test 5 weeks away from Challenge Almere means I do have time to make any tweaks and try things with a bit of time to spare.

Rest day for me after another really good and solid block of training. It’s important now for me not to panic about the run, but work around it and figure out how my race plan is going to pan out as we get closer to the European Long Distance Championships.

‘Will It Make Me Go Faster?’

I celebrated my 1 year Ironman anniversary last week. I say ‘celebrated’, I mean I had one of those moments when you see a date on the calendar or hear it said that you think – ‘I swear today is something? Is it someones birthday? Girlfriend anniversary’. It was just the 4th August ringing a bell and what a significant date I spent the majority of 2013 working towards.

That Ironman was very much about completing the course. This year on 13th September at Challenge Almere I am switching focus a little more to actually setting a target and doing more than just completing the distance.

Cole T50 Lite Carbon Wheels

Cole T50 Lite Carbon Wheels

It’s a funny old sport Long Distance triathlon in that the sky is the limit when it comes to ‘buying speed’. I have slowly built up a good shed of add-ons that will hopefully serve one purpose – make me go faster.

The Slice with Race wheels

The Slice with Race wheels

Before IMUK I invested in the TT bike, my pride and joy. This year I have added bits and pieces to turn this into the bike I want to race on. I added carbon wheels, carbon pedals, I’ve bought an aero helmet, proper triathlon shoes to speed up transitions and the garmin heart rate monitor for a nerdier take on progress analysis. All of the above were bought after asking myself ‘will it make me go faster?’ If not, I can’t afford to waste money on aesthetics or funky gadgets that don’t add to my actual race performance.

Giro air Attack & Bont Tri Shoes

Giro air Attack & Bont Tri Shoes

Ben Hunt-Davis writes and talk about this a lot. He’s a British Olympic gold medallist in rowing and the 8 man team constantly asked the question ‘Will it make the boat go faster?’. If not, why are they doing it? They even took this to the extreme of missing the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony as attending it wasn’t going to make the boat go faster.

British Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford talks a lot about ‘Marginal Gains’ and this has been the foundations that so many things have been won out of the Manchester based team. Have a look at the video here, where he explains what he means about these Marginal Gains.

There is also something money can’t buy – shaving the legs! To do or not? I’ve never done it, but if you watch the video below from the Specialized research and development team, it might sway me! It’ll equate to around 4 minutes in an Ironman. Watch this space if I come back with the smooth pins, the girlfriend is sooooo not up for this idea!

A Week Off Training for Le Tour

With just over 6 weeks to go until Challenge Almere I took a short holiday with the girlfriend to France to catch the end of the Tour De France in Paris. The trip was a 30th birthday present she had organised for me alongside my family and we had a camper van to explore and move around. I took my bike along in the hope of squeezing a few rides myself and also my running kit. I was politely reminded several times that it was also her holiday and guilt tripped into not training over the week long trip. Fair enough. I couldn’t leave her sitting on a campsite while I disappeared on a bike for 4 hours.



I went for a nice 40 mile spin early in the morning around Epernay which made up the start of Stage 7 of the TDF, but that was my only significant ride of the holiday. I also knocked out a 10 mile run around Lac D’Orient but this was easier to negotiate as Lynsey rode my bike alongside me and enjoyed the scenery with me. I usually train alone, so it was nice to have some company and also share the experience of where and what I see when I go out.

Lac D'Orient

Lac D’Orient

Too often I get back from training whether it be a ride or a run and try to convey how beautiful it was or what I had seen on the adventure so it was nice to have Lyns alongside me and it ticked off the mileage quite easily.



So a week with only 2 hours clocked up on the bike and 10 miles in the legs training did take a step back. I took a 30 minute open water swim in the lake one afternoon, but very leisurely. I indulged in a few Patisserie stops and enjoyed some nice rich French cooking. It was good to take a break from training, reset the body and return with real impetus for the forthcoming 6 weeks, which will go quickly. I hadn’t lost any running form when I did my first run back in the UK and I also set a session PB in the pool.

Champs Elysees

Champs Elysees

A break can be good and it certainly helped me rest and enjoy some time away from lycra – for me anyway, the tour boys took over that part. I originally felt a few alarm bells ringing when I got back, thinking my plans must need amending accordingly to the lack of time and effort put in over the week. My coach Paul Savage reassured me the time away was a good thing and to just stick to with the plan.
Perhaps I was over evaluating and causing a bit of mild panic because of the high standards I set myself. I am dedicated to training and the thought that I was slacking felt strange and not being able to train everyday was noticeable more mentally than physically it would seem. I need to stop beating myself up and this week away has really underlined how much I enjoy training for one, and secondly that I can afford a bit of a break before I head into this final push and big block of solid training. Then I’ll have earned a proper break!

Dave Brailsford - Legend!

Dave Brailsford – Legend!