Conditioning, Illness and Injury, Motivation

The universe is conspiring against me

Sick

Its funny how the moment you commit to a goal, the universe conspires to test your will. Last week 3 days into starting my training for Ironman 70.3 the dreaded ‘Man flu’ struck and I have been man down – no running; cycling, swimming, weights and conditioning. Not a great start…grrrr

There was a time when I was a young pup that I would have pushed through and sweated the nasty lurgy (South African slang) but luckily wisdom (and longer recovery time) has prevailed and nowadays I choose to retreat and live to fight another day. Anybody reading this might be asking themselves “Why the fuss, you have 9 months?”

Great question! Here’s my conundrum – Hyper-obstructive Cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart muscle) is a sudden death condition. When I was diagnosed my cardiologists opening statement was

“You have H.O.C.M, Stop exercising or die”

The road back to where I am today has been a long, long road made up of two steps forward, one step back. A road which has forced me to learn to listen to my body, accept my limitations and celebrate each small improvement as a major victory. Each day that I miss my scheduled program means that the next session I have to play catch up which increases stress.

Does this mean I have been idol? Not at all, there is always something I can do which will help me achieve my goal. At this point flexibility and balance is the bain in my life so I focussed on and successfully completed each required day of the 30 Day Challenge

Having things around me to keep me motivated and eyes on the prize really helps when I am down. This clip really kicked &$ss the first day I lay pitifully in bed feeling sorry for myself

Thankfully my decision to rest has worked I am feeling 80% better and should with a great nights rest be at 100% which means I can get back to the program and also start

STAGE 2: Basic Strength & Core Training

Here’s Day 7’s session

Strength Exercises

  • Split Squat (video) – 2 x 10 each leg
  • Hip Thruster (video) – 3 x 10 reps
  • SL Straight Leg Deadlift (video) – 2 x 10 reps each leg

Today’s Core Exercise

  • Mountain Climbers (video) – 2 x 20 (10 each side, alternating)

Cant wait to get going again

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Conditioning, Motivation, Off season

Building self discipline

Day 2

A little harder to get up this morning. Bed is all warm and cozy, its slightly colder than yesterday and I am already stiff from yesterdays leg session…Its just stretching, I can have just five more minutes…

“The difference between those who succeed in life and those that do not is that those who succeed always do what is most beneficial for them at any given moment whether they feel like it at the time or not”

This saying (author unknown to me) pounds into my conciousness. Darn, this self discipline thing is a tough gig :0)

Up I get, downstairs, stretch mat out, 30 Day Challenge Day 2 on the laptop. I start my routine and breathe

Basic Mobility Drills

  • Hip Flexor Stretch (video) – 3 x [20sec hold + 20 active reps] each side
  • Hamstring Stretch (video) – 3 x 20 reps each side
  • Adductor Stretch (video) – 2 x 10 reps [7sec contract : 10sec relax + stretch]
  • BONUS DRILL – Low Back Mobility (video) – 2 x 20 [10 each side alternating]

Today’s Balance Drill

  • Single Leg Balance – Eyes Closed (video) – 2 x 30sec each side

Mmmm don’t know if the stretch and balance drills from yesterday are feeling better or worse (I have this thing about getting results super fast) and todays bonus drill again highlights my level of inflexibility and tightness but I keep reminding myself “success is a journey not a destination” and my key focus at the moment is doing what I plan.

Gym session was awesome, a good friend and training partner is back from a business trip – partners really help to push intensity, its amazing how much more you can do just having somebody stand by you going ” you can do one more”

Todays session

  • Warm up

Stretch, strength routine

Pullups, Dips, Handstand Push Ups, Wall sits (each week increase by 1 or 2 reps; each day different style of pull up)

  • Main

Lat Pull Down 2 x20 (start at 65% of max, each week increase weight by 10%)

Straight arm push down 2 x 20 (as above)

Weighted Pull ups 5 x 5 (same as above)

Bent over row 5 x 5 (as above)

Barbell clean 1 x 5 (practising the movement)

  • Warm down

stretch, roller

Tomorrow swim/bike

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Conditioning, Off season, Training, Triathlon

Its all about that base(ics)

Its funny how every time I write this title a song by a very similar title comes to mind. Is it the combination of catchy beat and tune, easy to sing lyrics or the talented Meghan Trainor? Either way its in my head as I write this post so I thoughts why not share the love. (I probably am going to get into trouble from some high powered music executive for promoting this song and artist without agreeing copyright or paying loyalties or something. If so I apologise, please let me know discreetly and I will remove immediately from this post)

All about that base

Right now that you are suitably motivated (or annoyed) lets get back to the task at hand – Setting the foundations to an injury free season.

As I promised myself yesterday I completed Day1 of the 30 Day Challenge (here’s the link again in case you missed it yesterday)

30 day

This mornings focus was on Basic Mobility and Balance Drills and the session comprised of

Basic Hip Mobility Drills

  • Hip Flexor Stretch (video) – 3 x [20sec hold + 20 active reps] each side
  • Hamstring Stretch (video) – 3 x 20 reps each side
  • Adductor Stretch (video) – 2 x 10 reps [7sec contract : 10sec relax + stretch]

Today’s Balance Drill

  • Single Leg Balance – Eyes Open (video) – 2 x 30sec each side

Over all thoughts – Man I am in big trouble! The stretches really highlighted how tight my posterior and anterior chain is (my Hamstring stretch was pitiful) and the single Leg Balance activity (there are 3 separate movements, all very cool) bust my cahoonies. I have NO, I repeat NO balance in my right leg. Lol, I think the only thing that kept me upright when on the right leg was how my toes were so scrunched up into the mat that they acted like a set of claws :0) Not a pretty picture right

Any case, really cool and cant wait to see what tomorrow has install

Onto the main session then

Till February I am following an ‘Off season’ ethos and focusing on strength development (typically a 5×5 format, Complex moves, one muscle group a day, Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) with a swim/ride on a Wednesday and a cycle/run on a Saturday. The run is on hold for the moment till my calf/achilles injury is sorted and then I will throw in 2 morning runs (station to work 2.3 miles, slow and easy – Remember my run is my biggest challenge)

In case you are following this and are interested in what the exercises comprise of, here is the session

  • Warm up

Stretch, strength routine

Pullups, Dips, Handstand Push Ups, Wall sits (each week increase by 1 or 2 reps; each day different style of pull up)

  • Main

Single leg leg press 2 x20 (start at 65% of max, each week increase weight by 10%)

Barbell squat 5 x 5 (same as above)

Snatch to over head squat 1 x 5 (practising the movement)

Walking barbell lunges 5 x 5 (same as above)

  • Warm down

5 minutes cardio (row, glider or bike)

stretch, roller

So far so good  looking forward to tomorrow

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Conditioning, Equipment, Triathlon

Every little advantage – The bike

“History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.”Robert Penn Warren

To accomplish Ironman 70.3 as a healthy human is tough, to accomplish this test of endurance with a chronic heart condition like Hyper-obstructive Cardiomyopathy  even to the mild standards I have set myself –

Finish the event

  • Alive
  • In the allocated time
  • With a smile on my face

requires every advantage that can be gained. Taking heed from the quote above I decided to look at this past season – four sprint triathlons starting with the PruHealth World Triathlon London 2014 for ways to gain advantage

Advantage #1

All about the bike

I agree that the original statement stands true (and in the case of many an infamous athlete more so than ever ;0)). There is no substitute for quality training and time in the saddle yet when I think back to my bike leg…I can still clearly picture the scene now pumping away at the peddles and feeling like I was going backwards in a river of treacle as everybody (when I say everybody I mean I came last in the bike leg lol) whizzed by me…. I firmly believe that the bike makes a massive difference. So putting aside the training and time in the saddle – which I fully admit I could have done far more of here’s why its A lot about the Bike

  • Weight – A mountain bike like the one I rode weighs approximately 14kg’s, a mid level road bike weighs 5kg’s – now I’m no mathematician but I recon the extra energy and output required to move the extra 5 kg’s over prolonged distance is not advantageous.
  • Tire – Past experience taught me that slicks are far more advantageous on the road than off road treads. My slicks were 32mm, an average road bike’s is 25mm. Again not being an engineer I still recon that this extra size must have an impact on drag, resistance and effort. In fact I did a very rudimentary search whilst writing this and came across a very interesting blog called Off The Beaten Path  which covered this exact topic – check it out

Tire width: How much difference do a few millimeters make? Posted May 23 2013

  • Pedals – I thought riding with my running shoes would be okay (meant I didn’t have to waste time in transition changing shoes) and it was. I just didn’t realise the disadvantage I had by not using cleats until I tried cleats. Let me simply stress that riding in a triathlon without cleats is childish and irresponsible! Again no hard science from me just simple reflections. With standard peddles I only really have power output on the push which I think makes up about 1/3 of the peddle stroke. A cleat allows you to push and pull through the entire 360 degrees = less energy for more performance

There are probably far more things that make it A lot about the bike – I have a sneaky suspicion that the the bike leg distance and the ability to cover this quicker makes a big difference as well but as this all goes way beyond my level of understanding I will close it here.

 

Okay, its a lot about the bike! So what?!

As a result of these early experiences I went and bought a road bike. My buying decision was determined by getting the best quality at a budget of no more than £1400.00. I did all my research using sites like bikeradar, tri220 and triradar and eventually through review and comparison settled on this little beauty. The difference in materials and components is far to complex for this site so I will summarise with this sentence This bike is a beautiful ride. Fast, Responsive and very sexy…

http://http://www.cannondale.com/nam_en/2014/bikes/road/elite-road/supersix-evo/supersix-evo-6-105

What impact did the bike have on my race aims and times? Lets take a look

alot of bike

 

If we focus only on the concord and Crawley late summer (no additional training rides between the 2 events, coming to the end of a long season and no cycling coaching) the change in bike alone equals an improvement of >7km/hr and a decrease of >1min/km over as longer distance

Enough said, now its off to look at how peddle technique can give me even more of an advantage

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