Kona Prep: Week 1

Last week I moved from unstructured training (training without a set program) to structured training (with a set program). When doing unstructured training I was doing what I wanted, when I wanted, but now I am doing what my program says. This means that I have changed from probably one session per day to up to three sessions per day and from 7h37 training two weeks ago to 16h52 last week. It also means I am tired and sore.

I am still in a base building phase which means most of my sessions are designed to help me cover the distance efficiently not race faster. As I move closer to my first race of the new season (Durban 70.3) I will add in more strength / power sessions to make me faster but for the next while my focus is on low intensity efficiency.

The exceptions to this base building have been the test sessions which I have done. First was a swim test which involves a 400m then a 200m both done flat out. My times from both are then taken and loaded into a formula to arrive at a figure which is my CSS or critical swim threshold. This figure (1min19sec in my case) is then used as the basis for most of my swim sessions, so for example last night I did 8x150m at CSS for my main set in the session (after doing 20×25 butterfly so it was not easy!). Today there will be more CSS work and so on.

The other test that I did was a bike FTP (Funtional Threshold Power) test. This basically is a way of estimating the most amount of power you can put into the bike for a 1 hour effort. When I was in shape earlier this year this figure sat at around 335w whereas now it is more like 280w. I have a long way to go on bike strength but it will come.

The other thing that happened last week is I finally had a scan done on my hamstring which showed that I have a chronic hamstring tear. This is the root cause of the pain I have in my left leg every time I run more than about 9km and was a severe restrictor at Ironman SA earlier this year. The good thing is I finally have a diagnosis and the better thing is that I don’t have to stop training, instead I have been given a program of hamstring strengthening exercises to work through to try improve things. I then need to report back to the doctor in about 6 weeks to see how things are progressing.

As many people know I am no longer working. This is good for training in many ways but also requires extreme discipline to now just sit around all day and do nothing. The balance I am striving for is 4 hours study / work on my own project per day and then do whatever training I need to do around this. A lot of people think that if you have more time you can fit in more training but the reality is that if you have more time you can fit in more recovery – especially sleep. The major difference between many top age groupers and professionals is that the pro’s have more time to recover between sessions as they don’t have to run off to a job every day.

For me this means that I have to be very disciplined in getting enough sleep as well as putting the computer down and taking care of myself generally. Joe Friel just published a blog article on this which can be found here. One of the challenges I have put to myself during this time is to do everything I can to optimise performance which is more than training, it’s living a life of balance and aiming at holistic performance. More on that to come.

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