The Build Phase and Early Season Preparation Races
Since my last update I've competed in a variety of different races; an off road duathlon, cross-country, a standard duathlon, a couple of 5km road races, a 10km race and my first sprint triathlon.
After finishing a good consistent winter training block off and with spring on the way I've switched to a focused build phase leading into the main races of the season starting in May, finishing in October. During the season I am going to be racing Olympic and 70.3 distance triathlons so a large focus with training will always be to push my endurance levels up. This concept applies to my swimming, cycling and running. With the swim in need a lot of technical work so I have to mix in drills and technique reinforcement sessions, which sometimes take priority over general conditioning. One tool that I've been using has been a set of neoprene shorts which enable me to hold the correct body position in the water allowing me to focus on swim mechanics. I swim a little quicker in the pool (in the shorts) too which is ideal for group sessions. My running training is focused on speed, muscular endurance and mechanics work, with some fast running off the bike thrown in as well. With the cycling I've been trying to keep up a good volume, mixing session up with group race scenarios, TT work and aerobic devopment. Personally for me a good aerobic volume on the bike seems to push up the endurance across all three sports as I can tolerate a solid amount of hours riding. Ive been working on a very specific gym programme focusing on mobility work and running mechanic development which so far is helping a huge amount in the pool and during run sessions.
I have been doing quite a mix of early season preparation races; off road and road duathlons, running races and a pool based triathlon. I kicked off with a 10km XC running race which was done with Loughborough University at the Birmingham District League, it was a good hit out in the mud and I enjoyed getting stuck in. Following this was an off road duathlon in Frimley. It was extremely cold for the race with -3 showing on my temperature gauge in the car, so I plastered myself in warm up embrocation and vas-aline to keep the wind off my skin, I was actually quite toasty during the 2hrs of racing. The duathlon had a 10km trail run, 30km off road mountain bike, 5km trail run structure. I tried to pace the first 10km conservatively and came into transition 2nd after a hilly and technical 10km run in the woods. Then it was onto the bike, from the start it was clear that my MTB skills had been left behind in the last decade when I used to do a lot of dirt jumping and XC MTB riding, but I got stuck in and tried to use fitness to get me round. I ended up loosing a few places on the MTB. Setting off for the last run I knew there would be some work to do so I just went full gas, posting the fastest final run split and overtaking 6 of my competitors along the way. I worked my way up to finish second. I was happy with the result but feel that the off road scene doesn't play to my greatest strengths. I followed up the race with a standard distance duathlon on the road three weeks later. This race didn't go so well, I misjudged the level of fatigue that id built up in the weeks leading up to it and had a very difficult race. However mistakes are never a bad thing as I came away from it having learnt that the approach I took into the race didn't work for me so I would know to avoid it next time.
After the duathlon I suffered from some very tight calves and to prevent serious injury I stopped running for 10 days and got a good 20+ hour bike week in. Another change to my program mainly in the last few months has been my inclusion in the elite Para-triathlon swim training, as I've been able to get a bit quicker I manage to keep up with them in the water and it has been great to be able to have a lane slot and involvement with their open water adaptation sessions with no lane ropes in the pool. The para triathletes are very inspiring and a great group to swim with.
My biggest early season race was to be the Elite Duathlon Championships, but unfortunately due to weather conditions the race got turned into a 10km run instead. I was gutted about this but at least I got to test the run legs against some very quick runners. I ran a 34:11 in tough conditions. Results : http://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/11N. It was great to see squad members Adam Bowden and David Bishop on the podium.
In the last couple of weeks I've had some good performances in my first local sprint triathlon and local 5km evening run series. I raced the Race Time Events Desford triathlon on sunday 12th April, finishing 4th overall behind squad and training partners Carl Shaw, Chris Hine, and Matt Dewis. I managed to post the fastest run time of the day and second fastest bike spilt, just the swim and transitions that saw me fall behind. The race had a nice chilled atmosphere and it was a good place to put the first swim-bike-run together leading into my main race season that will kick of in May. On the Wednesday following the sprint triathlon I raced Derby 5km. I was looking to go under 16mins and managed to pull it off after some very solid weeks of training and a race in the legs. I was really pleased to come away with a time of 15:55 and to see so many of my squad mates post some rapid times and achive their own PB's.
Looking ahead I now have two 25mile TT's , Leicester Sprint and The Little Beaver triathlons before I will be lining up in the elite field in the Lough Cutra castle series race on the 24th May.