Tuesday, 10 March 2015

TRAINING UPDATE: Countdown to Blenheim Palace Triathlon

My first triathlon is 14 weeks away. Wahh! Where has the time gone from when I entered back in August!? If I look back at my training, I oddly feel like I have progressed a lot but at the same time feel like I am flagging a bit behind schedule.

Truth is, I can't really gage how well I am doing because I have never done a triathlon before. My problem at the moment is that I am looking at each discipline and criticising myself, especially for running. A lot of my fellow club members are all half or marathon training so are clocking up lots of miles whilst little me over here is popping in a couple of short runs each week. It almost feels inferior but at the end of the day, I don't need to be out doing 10 mile training runs at this time. The run of my Sprint distance is 5.8K and I know I can cover this with ease. What I need to do is cover this with ease off the back of a 13 mile bike ride.

So this is where the introduction to brick sessions comes in. To this date, I have attempted mini versions after work on a Tuesday evening - cycling home 4.5 miles and then going straight into a three mile run. It doesn't seem a lot but starting off this small is really important. If I can nail this, I can slowly add on the miles and build up to Sprint distance standard (or near enough). My first brick session was interesting. I battled through rush hour traffic to get home and then I lobbed my bike in the hallway, quickly stripped down to my running gear and heading straight back outside. For the first 200m, my legs felt like jelly as they didn't have a clue what was going on. The first half of the route I take is also all uphill so they really didn't like the situation I was putting them through. However, by the final mile, it was a nice downhill slope, my legs had awakened and pace was on top form!
I felt fantastic when I walked through the door with this time in the bag. Not bad for a first timer and I must say, I slept soundly that night so it must have exhausted my body. The couple of sessions that followed this have been just as successful and slowly my body is learning to cope with back to back multi sport challenges.

To top off the success of my running, I have also been very fortunate to bag a course PB at my local parkrun. I attended not even expecting a new and improved time (at that point my PB was 23.30). I had also spent the night previous to this guzzling gin punch and dining on Indian tapas at Dishoom so my body sure didn't feel on top form. Yet, out of nowhere, I pulled off what is probably my best ever 5K run. Taking on the deadly steep incline of the two lap course, I still managed to hold an average pace of 7.13 per mile and crossed the finish line in a gobsmacking 22.26. 
(Above: Dinner at Dishoom. Below: new 5K time for Finsbury parkrun)
The realisation of this fancy new time didn't hit me at first - my initial thought was that my Garmin must had lost signal at some point. I really couldn't believe I had done it. When the results from the race came through later that day (confirming my time), I was also chuffed to see I placed 3rd lady. I must say I did feel slightly smug and the celebratory Nandos for lunch that day was totally deserved.

As I have been so busy with work lately and travelling to lots of different parts of the country, finding time to fit in speed and hill sessions has been tricky so to bag myself this parkrun time, I really have to thank these mini brick sessions. They have really built up my strength and stamina and when I run, my body does feel stronger and firmer.

Along with my brick sessions, I have also incorporated daily sit-ups and crunches into the mix. I took on the 30 Day Abs Challenge throughout February and whilst I must admit I can't psychically see a huge difference, I can feel it. My core engages with the rest of my body so much better now and I have especially noticed this benefit when cycling uphill or running at quicker paces. I plan to continue with the sit-ups, switching to doing them every other day. Now I know I can bosh out 50 sets, it is a workout that barely takes up any time. I tend to do mine whilst my dinner is cooking in the oven!

So, what's next for me in the final weeks of training? Well, if you read my latest Operation Bridal Bod post (see here), you will notice my rather attractive wetsuit has arrived. This can only mean one thing - time for open water practise! The days are getting lighter and the air is a tad milder so it will soon be an appropriate time to don the suit and get used to swimming in a lake. I have definitely nailed the front crawl technique in the pool, now I need to hold it up in open water without the security of sides to push off every 30m. I hope to carry out a few sessions in my local lido first before moving onto the Serpentine. I'll also be cycling to this location so can attempt a brick session of swim then cycle which will be extremely beneficial!

Along with this next phase in my swimming, I am also taking on my first duathlon in April which I have purposely positioned as intense brick training in the lead up to the big race. This is approaching really fast so I need to stay focussed on my current brick sessions in order to complete the run-bike-run course. Inside, I am hoping to pull it out of the bag come race day - luckily I have never done a duathlon before so whatever time I get will be a huge achievement for me.

Are you training for your first triathlon? What training are you doing to prepare for race day?

Lipstick Runner.

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