Sunday 25 August 2013

Ready to race!

I started training again on June 1st, a little under 3 months ago. I started from zero, with an accelerated version of C25k (the famous "couch to 5km" plan). I had a few events planned (London Triathlon, Ride London) and they came and went and I was happy - but I wasn't racing them. My plan was to not care about the time, enjoy the experience, take away the pressure and get fitter and faster without injuring myself again.

I'm trying hard to take that relaxed attitude into the Thames Turbo Sprint Series Race 4 tomorrow, but it's really tough - I really really (really!) want to smash it and race hard. It's one of my favourite races, I've entered all the ones I can over the last 3 or 4 years. It's excellent to have a benchmark race to judge your current performance against.

Race history highlighting best and worst performances

So what's happened in the 90 days since I started again? I've made an effort to record every session in the excellent Training Peaks portal, and they provide powerful analysis tools.

It's particularly important to make sure that you don't ramp up on overall duration and run distance too quickly. I seem to have built up evenly with a good continual improvement over the first couple of months (before the races started getting in the way).

Ramp up of overall duration and run distance over the last 3 months

All good so far - but what about the cumulative training effect, including cycling, swimming, and strength training? By analysing all the data from my Garmin 910XT, Training Peaks can work out how fit I am, and how ready I am to race.

This is what 3 months of improving fitness looks like

The blue line is Chronic Training Load which has ramped up nicely over the period. As training gets harder and more intense I would expect to see that climb, then level off/drop a bit, then climb further, and repeat that pattern in line with periodisation of training (e.g. three harder building weeks, followed by an adaptation week, repeat). At this stage, a gradual measured climb is fine - it means I'm getting steadily fitter.

The pink line is Acute Training Load and represents how hard specific sessions or events have been. You can see the two big spikes signifying the London Triathlon and Ride London. It'll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow - it'll only be a short session (I hope!) but should be as high an output as I can sustain for the whole time, and therefore be a significant acute load.

The Orange line is Training Stress Balance and can be considered as a my freshness level. See the dip after the spikes in acute load - when you work hard, afterwards you're less fresh. The aim is to go into a race with a strong overall fitness balanced by a good level of freshness. Note that despite increasing chronic training load freshness does not drop - able to handle more work without losing freshness means fitness improving.

I am still much less fit (and much more heavy) than last year - but I'm certainly not going to let that hold me back. I think I'm ready to smash out a sprint without fear of injury now. My prediction is that I should be able to get a really good swim and bike done (maybe a PB swim, and possibly close on the bike), but I'll drift back on the run as I'm really not at all run-fit right now - estimated finish time 01:11:00.

Now it's rest for the rest of today and we'll see what tomorrow brings!

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