Sunday, August 26, 2007

Break Through! 26th August 2007

I finally cracked it this week. At last the swimming thing seems achievable. On Monday I swam a non-stop 1000m, and really the only reason I stopped was because I had to get back to work. This is pretty big for me, as I was starting to get down about not being able to get any real distance. Now its not hard to picture myself going the full 3.8k’s, whereas previously I had a private fear of my whole Ironman experience falling over at the swim.

My knee is now much better, and I only have a few days to go before I can start running again. I’ve been resting it and doing my stretches (something which I’ve always been pretty slack at – which I have no excuse for considering my background). Its been frustrating not getting out for a run for the last week so I can hardly wait. I’ve canned my planned entry into “The Legend” run in September as it’s not very far away and my build up has been terrible.

So the next big event is the Auckland Marathon in October. This is going to be a really important test, as I messed up my nutrition fairly badly in my last marathon, and I really need to get this right before Ironman. My only real concerns at the moment are my lack of running and the possibility of my knee problem reoccurring (however I have a plan in place to stop that from happening). I’m also now planning on doing some of the “Stroke and Stride” races and the Harbour Crossing to get use to swimming in the open water with a pack of other swimmers.

This week has also been notable for the fact that I’ve finally seen some sunlight. It’s still been pretty cold, but I seems so much easier when the sun’s shinning. On Saturday I got early for a ride as the family had to be in Albany by 8.30am. The ride was a real struggle and I couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t terribly windy but I just found it really hard to get moving, to the point where I was going around 5 kph slower than my normal cruising pace! I thought that I must have just woken up weak for some reason. Anyway after about half an hour I finally heard the rubbing noise (I was going through a sheltered area with a slight tail wind so there wasn’t much air rushing past my ears). It turned out that my rear break must have got knocked or something because it was rubbing, quite solidly, against the wheel. Once that was fixed things went much better!

Today’s ride went much better (apart from the squeezie incident and sticky Leppin all over me and my bike). I past several roadies again, which always makes me feel good, but had a good dose of reality when some guy, decked out in full aero gear, including race wheels and helmet came screaming past me. I paced behind him for a while at mean 47 kph, which is a much hotter pace than I can keep up for any length of time, especially at the end of a long training ride. Common sense took over after a couple of minutes and I eased off and watched him disappear around a corner. Maybe next time I’ll get him …

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life Without Running - 19th August 2007

So I’ve just finished my first whole week without running (11 days down, 10 days to go – so over halfway there). Out of interests sake my knee now feels fine, but I’m going to be good and do my time as recommended.

So now that I’m not running I’ve found myself with loads of time on my hands. I’ve managed to fill up a lot of that time with swimming, which is now finally starting to click. But in saying that I’m still struggling to get my target training hours. Never mind I’ve still got lots of time before Ironman.

Speaking of swimming I had my best session yet on Friday. As I’ve mentioned before, swimming is something pretty new for me, and is really going to be something to be gotten through more than anything else. I’ve been told however that I can string together 250m of swimming I’ll notice a quantum leap in performance and distance. And sure enough that’s what I got on Friday. I swam 250m and the only reason why I stopped was because I had to get back to work. Previously after doing a couple of laps I’ve been left feeling absolutely buggered and in fact quite down about the whole thing. But that’s changed now. For the first time I’m really confident that 3.8k’s is going to be quite doable. And with just over week of no running to distract me I’ll hopefully be able to really push the distance out.

My ride today was really good. The route I took lead me into a stiff headwind for most of the way, so while the average speed was a bit lower than usual, the work out was fantastic, and, for the first time in a long time it was actually sunny! I caught and dropped a bunch of roadies again on some hills again and I reckon I’ve got my bike setup petty much nailed (although I’m aiming to lower the aero bars down another ½ - 1 inch over the next month). One of today’s goals was to try out some new food while on the bike, so I planned the ride to climax with a series of nasty hill climbs (up Wright Road and on to Albany Heights Road for those who hang around Rodney or the North Shore). It’s basically a good 25 minutes of really solid climbing with next to no respite. I’m normally a fan staying in my saddle as much as possible (unless I’m trying to drop someone), but this certainly sees me up in on the pedals hanging on for dear life at least a couple of times.

I’ve been toying with the idea of using “One Square Meal” bars as they are packed full of carbs, protein and fats and seem like a convenient way of getting these things on board. The big question of course being “will it stay down?”

The answer, happily, is yes! So I’ll try them out some more, but with a bit of luck I’ll be adding them to my nutrition plan.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gammy Knee

In some ways I guess that its not actually all that surprising. During the last three runs (all of them 10 k’s plus) I’ve noticed that my right knee has been feeling a little sore (or rather the outside of the knee, right on top of the femur as it runs down to the knee). I pretty much ignored it the first time, as it wasn’t really all that bad and generally little aches and pains go away as I warm up. The second time was a bigger run and the knee got quite sore, to the point where it still hurt to walk the next day. So I took a week off running before going for another big(ish) run last Tuesday (I was in Christchurch for work, so ran out to see my brother and his family one night). The run started off really well and I felt really strong (as a result of a weeks running rest), then after about 2 – 3 k’s the knee started hurting again. It got a little better as I warmed up, but was pretty sore by the time I got to my brothers house.

After I’d had dinner it was down right painful to walk. It was much better by the next morning, and back to normal the following day. Anyway it turns out I’ve managed to develop Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is basically pain and inflammation on the outside of the knee, where the iliotibial band (a muscle on the outside of the thigh) becomes tendinous, and results in a friction syndrome by rubbing against the femur (thigh bone) as it runs alongside the knee joint. My old exercise physiology notes tell me that it’s usually caused by overtraining, worn out shoes, excessive hill running and running on a cambered surface. I’m guilty of a lot of these things. I run a lot on hills (as it gives you the best bang for your buck time wise), and I generally just run a lot (as the cardiovascular work out of running is far superior to just about everything else – again giving more bang for your buck time wise), meaning that my shoes have logged a lot of k’s and are no doubt a bit worn.

So its at least three weeks off running for me. Which actually isn’t too inconvenient at the moment, as it gives me the incentive to really focus on my swimming and log in some more rides in place of my weekend long runs (which will mean 1.5 – 2 hour TT or hill rides rather than the usually run). In some ways it’s probably better that this as happened now rather than two months down the track – which would have put a major spanner in the works and messed up my schedules.

In saying that, if anyone has a magic cure, let me know!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

5th August 2008

This week has been pretty good on the training front. For the first time in a while I’ve gone an entire week without being sick or tied up with work. As a result I’ve managed to get in a number of solid sessions.

In some ways this week has been targeted as a bit of a “rest” week in that for the first time in about 10 months I haven’t been for a run. Those normal run slots have been replaced by swim and bike sessions. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. My running has really come on lately, and I’ve experienced some great gains, but it’s been 10 months and my “running legs” are well due a rest.
2. My bike’s been fairly neglected and I really needed spend some time on it especially as I’ve recently picked up some new gear, lowered the aero bars, and I need to nail down the setup.

So no running this week. I did however participate in a sack race. Yes that’s right, a sack race. It was all part of a “professional development day”, don’t ask me how sack racing fits in with professional development, cause I’m just not sure. However, never being one to miss a training opportunity I gave it my all. And I have to say that its actually not a bad workout, I’m kind of surprised that I hadn’t come across it in any of my sports coaching textbooks from when I was studying exercise physiology. I haven’t added it to my training log but maybe I should?

The week was finally capped off by an 80k ride today. We finally had some sun, and the ride was awesome. I felt really strong throughout and wasn’t overly tired at the end, I could have easily kept on going but time’s always my enemy as I have kids to entertain!

I picked up a couple of roadies about 20k’s into the ride. We had a good chat and they asked it they could jump on, so I ended up towing them along for 25 – 30 k’s. I dropped them twice going up hills (I waited once, cause it’s nice having the company). My average speed for the whole ride was 29.7kph, and my average for the flat(ish) section (about 20’ks) was 33kph, which is pretty much where I want things to be for NZIM, there’s still plenty of time so I’m pretty comfortable that I should be able to nail that down.

It’s also been a busy week on a none training, but Ironman focused front. I’ve entered the Auckland Marathon, which is a key event for me. I think that it’s really important to go into an event like NZIM knowing that you can go the distance, and do it well. So Auckland Marathon will be my second marathon. I’m not to thrilled with the idea of running with several thousand other people, but it’s the best marathon at the best time for my needs.

I’ve also entered the Rotorua Half Ironman, which again is another key event in the lead up to NZIM. I want to get in at least two half ironman distance events before NZIM. This is so that I get to go through the motions but at a slightly reduced stress level (and therefore reduce recovery time).

And lastly I got fitted for a wetsuit.

So providing I get this swimming thing sorted, everything’s on track for a great 1st March.