Saturday, 9 June 2012

My Diamond Jubilee week - way off the plan

While the World, or at least the Commonwealth, was celebrating Queenie's 60 years atop the throne - I decided it would be a good weekend to get some training done. Last effort before Wimbleball and 4-day weekends don't come around that often. It was actually a 5-day weekend, as I took Friday as a day off work for my Birthday.

The weekend didn't go quite according to plan, and neither did the following week. There was plenty of the adaptability and last minute replanting I was talking writing about recently. Let's review:

The plan: Nothing, a scheduled rest day for my birthday.
The reality: Mrs had a swim session so I went along and joined her. Drills and easy pace for warmup, then 10x 100m off 2:20. This means start the clock, swim 100m, and then any time you have left up to 2:20 you can take as rest. At 2:20 you go again, 100m, rest until 4:40. Repeat 10 times. This is a fun set, highly recommended. You'll need to adjust the time to suit your speed. I think 2:20 is a bit overly generous for me as I had 30-40s rest each time. Might try 2:10 next time. I then took 400m to cool down. It was nice to go and swim without the time pressure of needing to go back to work - a nice way to spend an hour of my birthday.

The plan: 90 minute bike ride out to Beckton District Park, and 90 minute ride back. Easy pace ride with the inaugural Beckton parkrun in the middle.
The reality: I got quite literally 50m down the road and had a massive rear-wheel blow-out - tyre deflated so quickly I felt the breeze on the back of my leg. No time to fix it (I always practice perfectly timed slightly panicked arrivals at parkrun!). I ran home, got changed quickly, and ran to the underground station to get the train out. Got there with 10 minutes to spare, a quick warm-up jog, and then somehow smashed out yet another new 5km PB - 21:14 this time.

In the afternoon we were driving up to Bolton for the Ironman UK Familiarisation Day run by The Tri Life. The Wimbleball day was immensely valuable, so Mrs and I were hoping to get just as much out of this event. We drove up in the torrential rain, hoping for dry for Sunday.

The plan: Meet up with The Tri Life guys at 8am, briefing, head out for a ride on the course, a 15-mile lead-in and then one lap of the 30 mile loop that will be repeated three times on race day, then the 15 miles back. Following that a good run, straight off the bike.
The reality: It was not dry. In fact to get any wetter I think you'd have to be underwater. In the briefing they said it was just far too wet and cold for us to go safely on a 60 mile ride - the group that did it the day before took a few minutes shy of 6 hours. In that weather we wouldn't remember a thing we'd seen, just getting to the end would be a mission. They still wanted us to get value form the day though, so we drove up to T1, took a look at the lake, drove up to the loop and round it once. We then did 3 reps of the one big hill on the course and a 5km marathon pace jog (around 6min/km). We had a good look at T2 before driving back to the hotel for lunch and Q&A.

Heart rate on the 3 hill reps. Stayed low(ish) on the first and pushed harder on the second and third.

The plan: Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon Series - Race 3. Plan was to go hard in the swim, put in a solid bike, and then a medium effort run trying not to break my legs too much.
The reality: I hadn't got anything like the training I wanted over the weekend, so I decided I would get better effect from using Monday and Tuesday as back-to-back long days. I decided to skip the race and go for a long Zone 1 run instead. I got the tram out to Gravel Park, ran to Riddlesdown Park (7km) for a special bank holiday Riddlesdown parkrun (5km), and then ran home (18km or thereabouts). 30km in 3 hours - if I can hold that pace during the Ironman races I'm going to be ecstatic - that scales up to a sub 4:15 marathon.

The plan: Open water recovery swim after a heavy weekend and hard race.
The reality: Second hard day - drove out to Andover for a Jubilee bank holiday Tuesday parkrun double. 5km at Andover at 9am (22:05, great time), then onto my bike for a time-trial effort ride up to Newbury (around 30km) for a second parkrun at 10:30. I made it with about 3 minutes to spare. Quite a few people had come up from Andover and a parkrun at Basingstoke, so it was a packed event - plenty of lovely cakes and snacks at the end too - Jubilicious! I had planned a 3.5 hour windy ride back to Andover, but the weather was closing in hard - driving rain and strong winds. I had wet weather gear, but had to call it a day at about 2.5 hours. I was frozen, it took a long time to warm up in the car. A very long time.

The plan: Up at 4am to cycle to the City for a coached swim session at 6am. Following that, bike to work and an 8km brick (I call this "triathlon day" - it's a hell of a lot more fun than it sounds I assure you).
The reality: Alarm went off, I got out of bed, and almost fell over. My legs were absolutely shot to bits. I could barely get down the stairs or get dressed. A lot of aching, a lot of fatigue, and very little strength. It wasn't until I checked my phone before leaving that I noticed a text from my swim coach that he'd sent late the night before saying the morning was cancelled. Infuriating, I'd got up at 4am for no reason! I took my knackered legs back to bed and declared it an unscheduled rest day.

The plan: My normal Thursday morning fasted session (black coffee when I get up, nothing else during the workout apart from water, no food for 45 minutes after completing). 15km medium effort ride to work, quick change, 10km run round Regents Park with sprint effort on the short sharp rises around Primrose Hill.
The reality: My legs were still totally ruined. I went for a swim at Tooting Bec LIDO, but couldn't face anything else. Starting to get quite depressed at how off-plan the week had got.

The plan: Open water swim and easy cycle commute.
The reality: I had rescheduled my coached swim for today so it was a crazy early start again. I swam hard and angrily, and felt a lot better afterwards. During the day I mailed my coach for advice on the week. I was very affected by what I saw as a 'ruined' week only one week out from Wimbleball. I was worried I'd damaged my performance with the amount of running I added last weekend, and the sessions I'd missed this week. I also needed to reschedule and get back on track. He was great. He reminded me that I would still get a good training effect from those sessions - I needed to hear a positive spin, and he was right on the money. We also agreed not to race Blenheim - my view was that I was recovering from fried legs, the last thing I wanted to do was thrash myself again. Instead we updated the training plan with a mid-length ride (2.5 hours) and Ironman Marathon paced parkrun for Saturday morning, big swim set (3,800m) for Sunday, and then a well structured week to lead into Wimbleball.

The week was mental. I made some mistakes, but learned too. It's not all bad when you go off the rails, but it's when you need that reassurance and adjustment you realise the immense value of having invested in a good professional coach who will have seen it a thousand times before.


  1. Absolutely that last paragraph. So glad you have the support to help with the mental funk that one can get into when all you can see is a failed schedule and you need someone experienced to bring you back and show you it's actually not bad.

    1. Indeed - I don't usually get into that situation so I find it particularly unsettling.