New Approach

ChangingApproachThe picture may look like the last entry but it’s not. This is the “official” graph of my lactate test results not the one I hacked together.

Even though my previous post was merely stating a change in approach I was amazed to get some comments already that seemed to take it as evidence of “less is more” and that sort of thing. I’m flattered by the confidence in me that my merely deciding to change guarantees it will make a difference but as yet I’ve only changed I’ve not improved !

Thanks for all the encouraging comments. I will be looking to read Talent is Over-rated – the mere title appeals to me in the same way long endurance appeals because I reckon the longer the event the more results reflect the hard work put in. Whether thats talent or not is open to debate as perhaps the ability to put the hours in in training is a talent in itself. The mention of Deliberate Practise and it not being much fun rings true with me. Saying I was looking forward to bike sessions was a big reflection of my generally positive outlook and the fact that since I don’t ride as often I tend to be keen to get out there. That said the harder sessions are intimidating. I can imagine getting to a point where it’s not so much fun. In the past I’ve ridden, explored, if I felt good hammered, if I haven’t I’ve pootled and stopped for coffee. That is fun and  it’s what I’ll return to in the off season (if I ever have one).


Currently my typical week is around about 25 hours. Not sure that fits many peoples definitions of “less” and for sure with all my athletes that would be a big week. For me though it feels like a small week giving loads of recovery time. This is probably a reflection on what I’ve done prior to this point preparing me for this to feel like low hours. The graphs show the distribution of my monthly and weekly hours for the last 7 years. Most months being over 100 hrs and most weeks over 25. It certainly removes a lot of stress from fitting training in and it finds me more willing to not do a session if I don’t feel like I can perform. Last week I skipped a planned swim because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hit the times I wanted. It seemed pointless to get in and “waste” that time. I banked the time for later ! In the past I would have just got in and swum believing that it was a still a benefit if I was working hard but not hitting the times. I still believe that but with my time restriction I have to make choices on such things. I also realise that when I start to get some results it may change my beliefs.

I was asked about how my time is split. Most weeks seems to be something along the lines of:

  • swim: 10 – 15 %
  • bike: 48 – 64 %
  • run: 20 – 28 %
  • gym: 7 – 10 %

Weeks aren’t always the time frame I work on and particular week totals can look large or small due to small changes. For example – this weekend I switched my long run from Monday to Sunday and my long ride from Sunday to Monday. It meant that last week I ended up with 2 long runs six days apart which gave me 50+ miles running but only 200 miles on the bike, then this week I will end up with less than 30 miles running and 400 biking. Overall for the two weeks my training has been pretty consistent. The change though fitted nicely with my prep for Busselton getting my final long run 3 weeks before the race and allowing a 3 week run taper whilst sticking a big bike week in 3 weeks out giving a two week bike taper. Next week will probably be slightly higher on the swim side leading to a one week swim taper. My biggest goal for my Busselton taper is to arrive at the start line fresh. I’m intentionally using up a big chunk of my November hours in the first three weeks as extra insurance that I will rest up substantially from 2 weeks out. I still can’t be trusted to do it on my own ;o)

Already I’ve seen some good signs. I’m swimming less but I feel the recovery and rest was the reason my 1k TT time came down from 13:23 to 13:13. This is definitely me being positive as there’s really not been enough time for the change to really hit though the rest may be what it comes down to. I’ve not been setting an alarm and so far in November I’ve averaged 9.3 hours sleep per night with not a single night of less than 8 hours.

I’m also looking at doing regular testing. Thanks to Alan Couzens post I’ve added VDOT to my training diary. Only just started getting figures for that and can’t back date as it needs normalised power and average heart rate which are things I’ve only really started to record regularly recently. I’m getting in to the habit of putting the HRM on but still I forget sometimes (like todays track session). I’m still trying to figure out the testing I should do in each sport. I want something thats long enough to reflect the fitness I’m trying to improve but not so stressful that I can’t repeat  regularly.

  • SWIM – had considered doing a 1hr swim test but find that mentally thats pretty tough to do properly. I still plan to do this once in a while but not as my regularly test. Instead my regular test is going to be a 1k TT. Already done it twice as mentioned above. Did it in quick succession really to try and sort out my ability to pace it correctly. I certainly feel a pace clock in sight helps a lot which could be tricky in Taunton
  • BIKE – Again a best effort 1hr TT would be ideal but mentally this would be too tough to repeat regularly and my state of mind would probably be more reflected in the result. I’m still undecided but feel a 20 min best effort would be good. In Christchurch I can get to a hill where I can do this and back home in Taunton I think one of the hills up on to the Blackdowns may be long enough for a 20 minute climb. I may move to Rachels suggestion of 2 x 20min best effort on the turbo when I get back to Taunton. This has the advantage of being a completely controlled environment.
  • RUN – pretty much undecided here. If I was back in London I would use the clubs 5k handicap series. Can’t decide whether to go for a short all out effort or to do regular MAF Tests. Erring towards the latter.

Also been looking in to and working on my running technique. My blisters in Kona may have been partly due to bad minimalist running technique (nearly said barefoot). I’ve noticed a similar problem when running track sessions in Classics and think it may be partly my foot moving forward in the shoe when I strike the ground when running at pace. Jo managed to get some decent video of me (I was surprised had good my iPhone was for this) and there’s a clear “slapping” and I land on my heel. I’m having someone look at these and hopefully give me some tips on improving.

Other than that the running is going pretty well. In my Bikilas I’m running well and without any blisters. My pace on long runs has increased and yesterday I did a very solid brick session. I did a 180k ride – 1hr steady, then 6 x (5 min @ 300w, 5 min steady), 1hr steady. Break for food and liquid. Then 1hr @ 240w, 10 min steady, 10 min @ 260 watt and steady final hour or so home. Immediately ran just over 13k in just over an hour. A slow first K then I settled in to low 4:40s per K. Felt reasonably comfortable and was very encouraging. If I can run that sort of split at Busso I’ll be more than happy.

This weekend I’m getting my first taste of being part of a Triathlon relay. We’re doing the Lake Hood Half Ironman. I’m doing the swim, we’ve got a seriously quick biker, James Gibson, and then Jo is doing the run. It’s quite exciting getting to just hammer the swim without any thought of the rest of the race. Then I can grab a coffee, a muffin and kick back to cheer on the rest of the team !

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