The past 4 weeks has been a mixed bag of the following:
- Nailing key Ironman focussed training days/sessions
- Dialling IM nutrition in for a changed approach to next race
- Bailing on FTP tests, whilst having strong 5min power failing at 20min efforts.
- Struggling with Threshold efforts
- Racing a Half Marathon
- Feeling fatigued constantly and training on tired legs/body constantly
- Focussed Strength/Flexibility Program for improved conditioning at Personal Training sessions
- Racing first Bike Race - Des Hanlon A4
So overall, I'm confident in my Ironman training and racing zones, but can openly admit the rest of my speed/power is lacking due to the focussed efforts.
If it makes sense, I'm probably not as powerful as before, but much better conditioned at IM zones and find these more achievable than before - and improved figures at these efforts.
Normally I'd have a varied training approach to even the power levels and speed etc, but this time I've focussed a lot of my Training Stress towards nailing the Ironman sessions, days and nutrition as for me this was the low hanging fruit. It's kind of transformed me to a one trick poney (see above) but I'm hopeful that the one trick is at least dialled in and that's my priority.
My key day which gave me the most confidence was as follows:
- 30 min swim
- brekkie (race day)
- 4hr bike with 4 x 45mins at IM effort with 7mins rest. Full Race nutrition
- Off bike, change, into 90min run as 45mins strong, short recovery/hydration refill, 30mins faster, short recovery, 15 mins faster so all negative splitting. Full Race nutrition.
I finished this day having nailed all efforts, negative split the run and felt I could carry on at same effort. The run was done at faster than IM pace to try simulate cramping that I've been hit with in the past. No signs at all. This day was also done after a hard 1hr PT day containing 40mins of deadlifts and back squats so I had doubts of being able to do anything on waking up!
I've been using Precision Hydration since I cramped at Roth last year and starting looking more into my sodium intake. On talking to Martin Muldoon (after he flew past me at 18km to run a sub 3hr), it became quite clear a lack of salt tablets could be a factor in my fading at end of races and in particular cramping on the marathon.
For comparison, I took around 4 tablets on the bike, none on the run, and Martin took around 12-15 from memory.
So I went onto Precision Hydration's website and took their online sweat test.
It came out that I was probably a heavy sweater and lose a higher than normal sodium amount. So I bought their recommended pack and started to use it on long brick days. Went well so I topped up with more items - blister salt capsule packs, more drinks and used it in my key sessions described above. I'm now up to using a PH1500 drink before race, at start and 1 on bike followed by 2-3 salt tablets per hour thereafter.
I have felt stronger throughout these sessions and zero signs of cramping even on tired legs. Also I seem to recover quicker so it's a win win for me. I've my stock for race day and a much different approach to previous ironman's in an effort to run the marathon this time.
No real changes this year bar a few small tweaks/updates.
Still very happy on my Trek Speed Concept. Can't beat the on board nutrition and spares aero parts as well as great fit and aerodynamics.
I ordered a new Ceramic Speed racing chain which I'll fit ahead of Texas.
I'm in the process of updating my bike shoes as I've kinda destroyed my race shoes on the turbo and noticed they really seem to hold onto the sweat.
Looking at some nice road shoes for a change to see if more comfort there but will only change if happy and fit is right.
I currently use Specialized Trivent SC's but find the water/sweat seems to be retained and want to see if there's a better option for me. Road shoes tend to be stiffer soled and also lighter and more comfy so I want to try the Bontrager XXX's to see if they suit my feet.
I've been racing in my Fusion Speed Suit for the last few years now.
Having tried a few other models from Orca, Endura & Bioracer I still can't find anything to touch the Fusion for comfort and also their leg pockets are far superior to the others often hard to reach back pockets.
Most of the other suits are tight around my neck area, or bunched at the shoulders but the Fusion fits perfect everytime, even when I'm still carrying a little holiday weight... which fortunately my long days recently have managed to shift :-)
Here's my 2017 race suit which is on route and I've also ordered one of their new SLI Speed Suits coming out in the next few weeks. Hoping this bad boy arrives in time for Texas as it's lighter and should keep the sweat off even better which I suspect I'll need over there!
The 2 logo's are Pulse Triathlon Club and Powerhouse Fitness (neither sponsors, just recommendations), both of which I use and recommend.
As triathletes, it's often hard to schedule a strength/conditioning session but I can attest to the benefits of these. They really improve overall strength and prevent injuries as a result. They work on weaknesses and this only helps in all 3 of the other disciplines. For 45-60 minutes of pain, it's serious fun and well worth it. Not expensive at just €6 a class either!
Bohermeen Half Marathon: 1:22:30
I was tempted to race the Duathlon Champs, especially with it being a reduced run distance but after racing Tramore sprint duathlon I realised I had no speed at all and wouldn't stand a chance. So I went to Bohermeen for a Run race instead which served as a good run session and pace guide.
I went out a little hard, and was on 1:20 pace for a long time but faded a bit towards the end.
This is a nice course and I enjoyed the race. I was trying a new pair of runners also and ended with a bit of soreness on my soles as these were a bit firmer so a good take away lesson to train more on them and get feet used to this.
Des Hanlon A4 Bike Race
This was done last min on a whim. I realised this was the last race possible on a One Day Licence and it being the end of a 3 week block it suited to have a nice 2+hr bike session in the mix. Easier done in a group/race and I had no expectations other than to get a good training session in.
I had plans of being near/off front and going at 70.3 race pace for the 2 hours but little did I know the bike race dynamics wouldn't allow this. There were so many that would surge and then back off.
I'd have to put in efforts well above threshold to get to the front, and then lead out a while before being swallowed up. No one really worked for 2 ups or rotations as they were just out for themselves by and large. I tried a few times to stay at front at my own effort but it required too much effort to get there and to stay there before swallowed up. So once 70km hit and the pace finally picked up my legs were done. They had been above threshold too much, and didn't like the punchy stuff at all!
So I was out the back of the front group and missed the sprint to the finish.
But it was very enjoyable - got what I wanted out of it and had fun.
I didn't enjoy not being fit or strong enough for that style of racing so that's food for thought if I want to go back to do some more. But it's not what I'm training for at present so it was a good session out of my comfort zone.
I'm finally on a drop week. Legs have felt tired and I need it.
I'm racing Clonmel Duathlon on Saturday 26th March it being the home local race and first outing. Again, not my speciality being a short 4k run, 23k bike and 4k run but I'll have fun and try keep respectable placings.
Then it's 2 hard weeks of training, high volume and hard work before I start to taper for race day.