Sunday, 18 May 2008

I'm back...

Having spent the last week desperately trying to recover from a serious attack of over training, which saw me performing at personal worst levels in all three disciplines before finally going under with a half-decent chest infection, my confidence had been at an all-time low. By the time I recorded, for the second week running, my slowest ever Pool Triangle time on Wednesday this week I was super worried that a) I'd neglected my bike far too much over the winter and b) I'd completely fried myself anyway and wouldn't be able to recover in time for Germany. On Thursday I was on the phone to my coach Jack Maitland who, as always, managed to convince me that the end of the world really wasn't nigh but I still needed some decent results to get me smiling again...

Today was a great day... I'm sitting here typing this having spent the day being dragged round the hardest bike race in the Yorkshire Dales by ex-professional mountain biker Rob Thackray and his equally speedy mates. Setting out from Grassington at 7.30 this morning for my first ever Cycle Sportive I really didn't know what to expect... 30 minutes of hammer time later and I was wondering what I'd let myself in for. Fortunately the first big climb, at about 12 miles in, split the pack of about 40 riders and things settled down a little. Unfortunately, out of the group of six that I was part of I was the weakest rider and regularly found myself having to put in max efforts just to stay on the wheels of the other five. By 70 miles I was experiencing some real low points, as you do during such a long and challenging session, and with the final climb coming at 90 miles and lasting to about 94 there was still a lot of work to come... not to mention the hilly ten mile run I had planned for straight after! Fortunately I'd found myself amongst a great group of lads (without whom I would've been home quite some time later) and their support truly made all the difference on the most challenging day of my cycling life... particularly over the last 15 miles where I was running on empty and sat at the back of their 'peloton' whilst being towed across the finish line in six hours and 39 minutes, a full 20 minutes ahead of my target and enough to earn a 'Gold Award' for going under seven hours :)

As I've already said, this had been the most challenging session I'd ever done on a bike and my legs were hurting like never before... fortunately Rob agreed to join me for the first five miles of my run (2.5 out and 2.5 back) and 39 minutes later I set off on my own for one last effort in this eight hour and 8,000 calorie session... 38 minutes later and I was finally done.

So, has my confidence returned? Am I back on track? YES and YES!!

Although pleased with my time for the ride a large part of that was down to the boys... what was great though was how strong I felt all (most) of the way and how when called on for some serious effort my legs responded every time... I've not felt that strong on a long ride since last year. The bike course in Germany, although two miles longer, isn't anything like as challenging... a fact that will be at the front of my mind on the morning of July the 6th. Also, I pushed my legs harder than ever before today and as long as I pace it right during the Ironman I should start the run feeling considerably fresher, however I ran the first five miles at my target Ironman pace (7.45 per mile) and my second five faster at 7.40s... all of which was pretty comfortable. Factor in two hours less on the bike, nowhere near as much climbing, a significantly flatter run course and a three week taper and my 3.20-3.25 run target is looking good.

So, what have I learnt from the last few weeks? I'm not superhuman and big training volume requires big recovery volume... normally I'd feel so motivated by a session like today's that I'd be itching for my alarm to go off at 5am the following morning so that I could knock out a quick 200 lengths before tacking on an 8 mile run in the evening. However, my body has experienced serious stress today and now that I am so much more aware of this (learnt the hard way) tomorrow morning will be breakfast in bed for H and I and tomorrow night will be steamed veg and an early night ;)

See you next week,


For a more informed view of over training I recommend you read THIS and THIS by Clas Bjorling but if you're anything like me you'll need to find your own path anyway ;)

1 comment:

Jevon said...

Well done mate. Knew you'd be back with a vengeance. Keep training hard but make sure you're not taking too much out of yourself. I think probably your fatigue and illness recently was a cumulative thing which reaches a peak and erupts after building 'under the surface' for a month or two. (Either that or the power of 'the mighty J' was just too much for you :-) ) . Ensure there's nothing 'bubbling under' before Germany...