Month: February 2019


Another boring training entry. Well, boring for anyone else, exciting times for me.

Sufferfest is proving to be a revelation. I thought it was going to be an app for peddling away on your turbo trainer without getting bored. Like watching a film or something. Zwift pretty much was. People were streaming past me, and I’d chase some of them, but mostly it was just watching the scenery as I pedalled.

Sufferfest has videos to accompany the workouts, but it is a workout. It’s not pointlessly pedalling for an hour. It’s workouts so hard I didn’t think I could complete them.

I had a go at a virtual spin class at the gym, it’s a bunch of people on bikes, while a video screen tells you what to do. The thing I didn’t like is there are no gears, or power meters, or speedo. The riders on the screen tell you to increase the resistance (twist knob on the bike) and decrease it, but there are no settings. How much should I increase or decrease? There are no metrics or feedback.

Sufferfest on the other hand, monitors your power (watts),  speed, heart race and RPM. After you’ve done the fitness assessment (4DP) it sets everything to your ability. The workouts are designed by Olympic winning coaches so it’s brutal but scientific. A proper warm up then a bunch of intervals at different intensity, duration and amount of recovery time. And, unlike when I was doing Zwift, it will say to hit 230 watts at 110 RPM for 55 seconds. There is only one gear that will let you spin at that speed and put out that amount of watts. Again, on Zwift, if it got hard you could just shift down a gear and keep at your desired watts. In Sufferlandria it will say 265 watts at 60 RPM, STAND UP, so you have to put it in a really high gear, stand on the pedals and grunt like a pig having a heart attack.

So, so brutal.

I really think it’s going to work wonders for me.

Then there’s the other stuff. It has a mental toughness programme that’s a freebie thrown in. I was, in all modesty, sceptical that they could teach me much about mental toughness, grit is all I’ve got, but I started the course anyway.


It’s not just stamina, it’s focusing your entire will to an end. And setting quantifiable goals to reach that end.

It’s made me address my weaknesses and make plans to overcome them.

Set a definite goal per month, and per week to get you there. Then have the mental strength to achieve them.

One of the things I may have to be ruthless about is my run every day thing. It’s making me do stuff when I’m knackered and it’s done wonders for my run fitness, but every training plan agrees that you *have* to factor in rest days. They are when your body heals and rebuilds itself stronger. They are to be treated as of equal importance to your best training day. By trying to do two things at once I’m risking further injury and wrecking both. If I’m to focus on my sub 10 Ironman in 2021 (initial goal an hour off my PB at this year’s Outlaw triathlon) I need to exclude anything that’s not helping.

Which is where it gets tricky. I’m achieving marvels through the running thing. Even though I’ve only done a few 10 mile runs and one 18 mile run this year, (all the rest being biddy little ones) on a whim last Thursday I set off and ran a marathon. It wasn’t a spectacular time, and it was way too hard at the end, but I did it.

Yesterday I was so knackered I didn’t want to go out. I was so tired I was considering having a nap before going out. Because I have to run every day I forced myself to do it. Having done a marathon the week before I thought I’d try to raise the bar of my fast pace distance. I’ve managed to maintain a sub 7m/m (supposed to be 6.48) for 4 miles twice before, so I thought I’d try for 5. As I was being lazy I was going to do a mile to warm up, then 2 miles out, 3 back, at sub 3 hour marathon race pace (6.48 m/m). I was really struggling to maintain the pace, then I got stopped after 2 fast miles. I decided to make a 10 miler of it instead and carried on a slower pace to get my breath back. At 5 miles I turned around and went for it. It was incredibly hard, I kept slipping into 7.10 pace, realising, having to sprint even faster to make it up, then try to catch my breath at my maximum pace.

Amazingly, I did it. Even with the warm up mile and the 2 miles catching my breath, I set a new PB for 10 miles (1.11:38). And held the pace for 5 miles on the way back. (6.49, 6.48, 6.52, 6.48, 6.51) so 34:06.

Two PBs in one run.

I’m setting records and achieving like never before. But I’m not had a rest day this year, and it’s March tomorrow. 

I think I’m going to have to sit down and work out the best possible training plan then force myself, with the same will I’ve applied to the run every day thing, to commit to it. And factor in a rest day a week. If it doesn’t improve things I can always start again.

Tomorrow I get over my reluctance and get back to the swim. Or rather, get to the pool and practise drills that will make me a swimmer.  My goal for next week is to set in place a 3 or 4 swims a week schedule, my swim goal for March is to master the floating level in the pool, (not letting your feet and bum sink) and learn to breath properly. I’ve seen drills that break it down to small, achievable, steps so I’m hoping I can get it this time. Once you are floating and breathing that’s most of the battle won. Then it’s perfect my stroke and join that long distance swim club to build my swim muscles.

Right, so tired now.



PS Day after.

I finally got back to the swimming. I was trying to do some breathing drills and not getting the hang of it, as usual, when one of the staff took pity on me and gave me a few pointers. I’ve cracked the floaty thing. I gave myself all of this month and did it first time out of the bag. Which gives me hope I can find the right drills to master my breathing. I reckon I’m really near. I think it as much un-learning how I’ve been doing it as it is implementing the proper form. I noticed today that because I tilt my head up to gasp air, if I then try to do the correct drill, which is to keep one goggle in the water, then my mouth is underwater. If I just turn my head I can keep one goggle in and get my mouth out of the water. On paper, at least. The other good thing was one of the tutorial video said to leave your feet loose to flap about, which I did. I don’t seem to have inflamed the tendons on the top of my foot this time. That would be a huge help if I’m not making that worse.


I got home and did a short, (48 minute) massively intense, bike session on Sufferfest. I did the same workout a week a ago and just couldn’t keep up. As I say, they not only tell you how much power to put out, but at how many rpm. This means you might be stood on the pedals in a really high gear, doing 60 rpm, or whirring your legs around in a low gear to get the same power.

I went for my bike fit in October last year and the bike guy said I should be aiming for 90 rpm. It nearly killed me adapting to that as I was doing around 70 rpm. My sustainable power is around 200 watts. Today the Sufferfest monsters had me trying to maintain 260 watts at 130 rpm!  Then 320 watts at 110. That’ll be why I couldn’t keep up.

After that I went for a short (4 miles) run to shake my legs off (and to try to get used to the nastiness of transition). I do like the running, your worries and tensions drop off as you settle into your rhythm. While I was at it I had moment of clarity. I’ve been thinking that to get serious about my training I’ll have to incorporate rest days, but I’ve been reluctant to do it because of the fantastic results I’m getting running every day. It suddenly struck me, it’s one rest day. I can run the other 6. And let my body heal and improve. Eejit.

Well, that’s where I am. Training, getting my focus, really pushing to improve.

Tomorrow I’ll do more swimming, biking and running, draw up a proper training plan, with goals, and do the next mental toughness module.

I will do this.

Bit of a run.

That chesty feeling and loads of swallowing I said about on my last blog? It was the onset of an awful, enervating bug. I kept my training up but it knocked spots off me. Wendy had it worse, she’s been off work for four days. Not a cough and cold thing, just a hideous weakness. Nasty. I managed to maintain my running streak, but speed runs have been out of the question. It’s been coming and going so I managed to get some bike training in as well.

I thought I was fully over it yesterday then felt lousy on a 5 mile run.

Today I had a day off booked, it was toasty warm (15C! In February!), the sun was shining, so I decided to run a marathon. Like you do.

I had to take my warm top off after 2 miles and ran the rest in just my sleeveless compression vest. I’m not sure I’m fully right after the bug. I wanted to keep to 7.30 m/m but even in the first few miles I was struggling to keep it at 8. After 16 miles I was really battling to keep going. It took everything I had to finish the 26.2 miles. The last few miles it was a huge achievement to stay under 9 m/m. I was stumbling and had nothing left.

I did it in 3.41:34.

I’m trying not to be negative and therefore belittle people who are slower, but that was so hard and not the time I was expecting.

To be fair, I was basing my expectation on short, fast runs. And I’ve not actually done any long run training this year. A few 10 mile runs and one 18. And I’m possibly not well. But that was long, slow, painful and so, so hard.

Good for mental toughness if nothing else.

While I’m getting my excuses in, can’t forget to mention I only had an energy bar and a banana before I set out. The rest was energy gels on the hoof. Amazing that an 89 calories sugar/ sludge gel can keep you going. 2 of them an hour and you can just keep on keeping on. My watch said I burned 3000 calories on the run. So how do the gels keep you going?

The rest of my day has been a write off. I’ve just moped around in a world of pain, inhaling calories.

I was looking to do a 100+ miles bike ride tomorrow, but that can wait. I’ll do some other jobs on my list, like stripping and fixing my motorbike, then do the ride when I’m rested.

Well, I set out to run a marathon. I ran a marathon. And learned a valuable lesson on the way. It turns out a basic level of fitness and a monumental amount of bloody-minded stubbornness are no substitute for long run training. Who knew?

Right, bed. I’ve so had enough of today.



PS: quick addendum.

My pushbiking:

I took my fancy pants bike out for a spin. Only a 20 mile ride to Frodsham, (some good, testing hills). It’s the first time I’ve really ridden it. I rode it to the top of the street when I first got it, since then I’ve been riding it on the turbo trainer. It is amazing. It’s so small and light it feels like a toy. Loads of the ride I was 20+mph, downhill I clocked 35+. It just feels fast.

I’ve got the setup sorted on The Sufferfest (the training app for the turbo trainer). I was complaining, after me nearly killing myself to set up my personal bests (4DP, they call the test) the app was giving me too easy rides. I’m good for 200 watts for 5 minutes at a time, it was saying to ride at 100. I was thinking it was all pointless. Then I realised I hadn’t turned the 4DP setting on.

Wow. My legs are screaming, I’m lay over the handlebars gasping for breath and it’s telling me to go faster and stronger.

I can’t keep up with some of the power it’s telling me to put out. Which is perfect. If I can do it already I’m not going to improve.

In retrospect I could kick myself. It’s obvious. 3 triathlons, 3 years, 3 roughly the same times. I was trawling 20 miles a day back and to to work and doing stupid long rides, where is the 3 years improvement?

If you’re riding on your own, especially 100+ mile rides, you push on a bit, but you also pace yourself. You know you have to finish. On the Sufferfest there is no pacing. It’s set to your specs,and designed by Olympic winning team coaches, to push you faster and harder than you think you can bear. I can’t wait for my next (3 monthly) 4DP trial, I reckon I’m going to have massively improved.

Of course, the actual doing of the rides is a sweatfest, lungbusting, nightmare. But as they say in Sufferlandria, “Kicking Your Ass Today So You Can Kick Theirs Tomorrow.”


To complete my good news, the swim:

I had to take a test for the mental toughness training course on Sufferfest, it said to honestly review where you are now, and to decide upon your ultimate goal (your Mount Sufferlandria). I had to admit that my biggest weakness is the swimming,and I avoid it because I’m so bad at it.

I’ve been binge watching youtube triathlete and swimming videos. I actually think I have a plan. As usual I’ve been doing everything exactly wrong. No training drills, long sessions, thrashing up and down the pool, holding my breath, then gasping huge lungfuls of air. All wrong. Sip small amounts of air, start to blow out immediately your face is submerged. Apparently having a lung full of air increases carbon dioxide build up which causes you (me) to panic, desperate for more air. Do short sessions, regularly. Long ones just make you tired and you slip into bad form which you then reinforce by repetition. And do drills. They look and seem stupid, but they are breaking down good form into it’s basic elements to get everything right.

I think I’ve found some foolproof basic training drills. They get you floating right in the water so you don’t sink and cause drag, and get you breathing properly. That’s 90% of the battle won, right there.

Once I’ve mastered those, it’s all about getting my stroke right and that’s it. Just work at it until I’m strong.

To refer once more to The Sufferfest, they were saying that you have to be totally focused on scaling Mt Sufferlandria and set quantifiable weekly and monthly goals.

I’m going to spend March doing 3 or 4 swims a week, for 30 to 45 minutes a session, and crack the floating and breathing drills. Then in April I’m going to join that long distance swimming club.

With my running daily, the Sufferfest on the bike, and a swimming club I am going to hit my goal of an hour off my personal best at this year’s Outlaw triathlon. Which is keeping me well on target for my sub 10 hour Ironman in 2021.

Then I’m going to take up competitive eating or extreme ironing.




Just a quick update on my tri training as my watch is not logging my achievements in a fit of techno-spite.

I really think I’m on to a winner here. At last. The motorbiking into work, doing a run every day and separate bike/ run sessions is really working for me.

I’m trying not to be bitter about all the time I wasn’t doing it. I had different goals last year. And the month or so I was pushbiking then running every day was good general fitness building. But this is where it’s at.

This week I did an average of 11 hours a day at work for the first 3 days. So 12 or so hours with commuting. When you get home you just want to crash out. Because I’m committed to the run every day I got out and did it. Even if it was only a mile it was keeping the training going.

I did that trial-by-ordeal thing for Sufferfest.

They kept giving me target power and revs and I was smashing it. Saying put in 100 watts, I was doing over 200. For the five second sprint I did 400+ watts. An hour of tests and recovery. 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 20 minutes, and 1 minute. I went all out. I finished it, proud as Punch, then got my results.

Look at the scale. The outside line is “exceptional”, right the way down to “modest”, I nearly killed myself and scraped into Modest in one test! Ooh, 1½ tests, I just noticed. Big whoop!

Anyway, that is the baseline for my training. Knowing those figures they can beast me to greatness.

The big one remains the running though.

It was two weeks ago I couldn’t maintain an 8.30m/m pace. Since I’ve stopped pushbiking I am battering it.

I did that 4 mile run and surprised myself by only being 20 seconds off my best ever time for the distance.

I did a three mile run the other day. I’d had a long day and couldn’t be bothered, but like I said, once you are actually forced to do it you start getting into it. I thought I’d make the last mile count so I went for it. My previous PB for a mile, when I was doing speed training, was 6.44 (I think), I ran it in 6.27!

Wow. That’s without speed training, just using the fitness or running everyday and the stamina and breathing from the turbo pushbiking. I was/ am delighted.

I did a 55 minute session on Sufferfest, the went out for the bare minimum mile. I was expecting dead legs so wasn’t going for a time. a quarter mile in I realised I was on the pace so went for it. I did that in 6.54.

Today was a run day (actually a swim day, but the pool wasn’t doing lane swims tonight) I went out to do a 10 mile run, trying to maintain a sub 7.30, I think I may be coming down with something chesty though. I was swallowing a lot which made breathing a bit tricky. I settled for a 7 mile run, so I could at least have a 10k (6.21 miles) time. Another PB. I think my previous 10K PB was 52 minutes, I did it in 44.42 (averaging 7.09 for the 7 miles).

My legs a starting to feel a bit tender now. A bunch of PB’s one after the other. I’ll do the minimum mile tomorrow and hopefully get a swim. Low impact, let them heal.

Anyway, that was it. Just a bunch of boring stats. But to me it’s awesome. I really think I’ve cracked it this time. If I can get the swim sorted, I am on for my 3 year sub 10 Ironman goal. And a sub 3 marathon later this year.

Real, tangible, immediate improvement, session upon session. Brilliant.

I forgot to say, Sufferfest do a holistic approach to being your best, which includes mental toughness and yoga for flexibility and strength. I didn’t think there was much they could teach me, in all modesty, about gritting your teeth and getting on with it, but it’s not like that. They focus on 4 things, goal setting, focus, review and positive thinking.  I’m going to give it a go. All the pro’s do it. Anything that helps.