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All Coming Up Roses.

My last blog was all poorliness and bikes.

I hit my nadir on Sunday morning when I had to admit defeat and not do the Manchester marathon. I hadn’t done any training at all for 3 weeks and I was still feeling weak. It started to clear on Sunday afternoon. Obviously.

I went for a test run and managed to do 10 miles at a modest but forced pace. Even though I was still a bit ill, and it was so, so hard, it was a joy to be out doing a bit. I’d been going stir crazy doing nothing for 3 weeks.

I got back on the pushbike torture training thing (The Sufferfest) the next day and didn’t die.

So, I’m back in the game. Yay!

 

I took my bike to the garage as I said. I trust the mechanic as he’s always got too much work on so he doesn’t make up jobs to boost his money. A few times he’s told me what to do and sent me away to do it myself. Anyway, he took the bike for a test ride and said the engine was “sweet” and agreed it was a steal for the price. I got him to do the full service, down to the valve clearances. On another bike I’d probably have a go, but these have gear driven cams, so you have to get a series of cogs all meshed exactly right. Put one back slightly out of position and you’ve got a dead bike.

Actually, I may have been fed a scare story, looking at it, I reckon that’s do-able.

1986-Honda-VFR750F-Engine

I might get a cheap engine and have a mooch.

While I was looking for an example picture I came across a gear driven Ducati. That is art.

Duke

Would not want to drop a cog and have to reset that!

That’s all beside the point. I took it to the mechanic and got a proper job done.

I picked it up today. He’s sorted out the front brake, changed the brake and clutch fluids, replaced 4 valve shims and done the valve clearances, apart from annual changing of oil and such, that’s me for 15,000 miles.

On the ride home from buying it I was worried that my other bike was quicker to rev up and sprint off than this new one. On the ride home from the garage I nipped past some slow cars and hit the power band. Off like a scalded cat! That was a hoot.

I’ve been waiting all week for some crash bungs to arrive so the mechanic could fit them.

(These are crash bungs, by the way. Just to protect your fairings and engine from getting smashed to bits when you come off.) (Just rereading this before posting it. Other people might say “if” you come off, lol.)

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It’s not a big job, take your fairing off, mark them, drill a big hole in them, put them back and fit your crash bungs. It’s just I didn’t want to ruin my lovely fairings by getting it wrong. The whole point of this new bike is that it does everything the other one does, but looks pretty at the same time.

I picked my bike up this morning and, as usual,  the crash bungs arrived at dinner time. Typical. I decided to have a go. It was a nerve-racking affair but I’ve done it! The bungs are fitted and their is no visible damage to my fairings! Huzzah!

Also today I was telling the mechanic about my plans to pull the wheels off, strip them right down, then get them powder coated (an alternative to painting where some voodoo stuff is sprayed on then baked into tough loveliness) he said they weren’t that bad and suggested a touch up pot of paint to blend the chips into the same colour as the rest of the wheel. OK. £6 and an hour or so of messing about has got to be worth a shot. If I’m still not happy the first step of powder coating is blasting all the old paint off, so I’ve only lost £6.

I’ll see what it looks like tomorrow, when it’s properly dried.

Well, that’s it. We are both recovering. I did 4 days training on the trot (been busy with my bikes today) and my new bike is peach. Happy days!

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Now that is a picture!

VFR750s are like shoes. A boy can never have too many. (Try telling that to Wendy!)

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(Red ones are faster. Scientific fact.)

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Right. I’m off to bed. Redeem myself with a marathon in the morning. Give it a go, at least.

Later,

Buck.

Bikes and poorliness.

That’s about all that’s going on right now.

Luke was dying with a beastly cold that laid him up for weeks. He was bored of being ill at home so came around and gave it to Wendy and me. Which is nice.

Wendy’s been off work for nearly two weeks with it. She’s gone back now but she’s still as rough as rats.

I’ve not been so bad, just weak and feeling lousy. I did a 20 mile run 18 days ago, not done a hand’s turn of training since. I’ve got the Manchester marathon on Sunday. I’m doubtful I’ll even be starting.

 

The rest has all been about the bikes.

I put my FireBlade up for sale on eBay.

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*sigh*

It’s the most amazing bike I’ve ever ridden, but it’s just too, too much. 90mph in second gear (of 6.)

You spend all your time struggling to stay out of automatic ban territory (100mph+), it takes all the fun out of it. In an amazing turn of events, I put the bike up for sale, 2 hours later it had sold! No hassle, no insulting offers! Unheard of.

Also I’ve sold my saxes as part of my triathlon training. Cut out all distractions from your focus on your goal. While they were there I was always tempted to go back and waste more time on something I’m never going to be able to do.

I’ve finally got on top of the crash damage on my winter bike. I had to strip and clean the carbs in my latest ordeal. But now it seems to be running OK, finally.

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Nothing but trouble, but I’ve got it sorted. Now I want shut.

I was on the verge of buying an Suzuki SV650, a slow (123mph) naked (to slow me down some more) and cheap V twin, that also handles well and is great fun. So, a Harley.  But better in every way. And way cheaper.

Sv650

As I say I was on the verge of getting a really low mileage one for under £2K when I read a long term review of them. It seems they are all I thought, but built to a budget. The reason it’s all so shiny and pretty is because it’s not been ridden in winter. They are rustbuckets in waiting.

No good for me. I want one bike, that’ll do everything, that I can ride all year.

So I’ve bought another VFR750. Exactly the same as my winter bike, but not rusty and horrible.

 

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It’s in the bike shop now having a once over to see that the engine is fine. If so I’m getting it a total service (big job, setting the valve clearances and shims, but once it’s done it’s good for 15,000 miles.)

Then I’m getting the paint on the wheels re-done and redoing the forks myself. Then maybe a respray. That’s it then. One bike, all shiny and lovely, one set of bills, all year round useable and I have to work at it a bit to get banned. I can use my winter bike while I get all that sorted, then sell it. It’s just passed it’s MOT, so it’s saleable.

Sorry to drone on about bikes, but that’s all I can do or get excited about at the moment.

I’m just waiting for this beastliness to be over so I can get back to training.

Oh, nearly forgot. I went to the doctor over my shoulder. It’s still sore if I lie on it or rotate it. Not terrible, but the other one doesn’t hurt, so there’s something not right. It’s been months since the crash.

The doctor did some tests on me, said nothing was broken, then sent me for an ultra sound. The woman doing it said there was no damage. I thought it was just like my mam said, it takes longer to heal when you’re older. I went back to the doctors for the test results, feeling like a fraud, but he poked me in the shoulder, asking if it hurt. Yes, YES! It seems something (a sack, I think he said) is inflamed and rubbing a nerve or something. He’s put me on anti-inflammatory pills and put me down for a steroid injection. That’s service, for a bit of a sore shoulder. 

Right, I’m off to feel sorry for myself.

Later,

Buck.

Fail. So much fail.

I did that 20 mile run last weekend. That was quite good. In the teeth of the gales that were battering us I went out and tried to run 20 miles at a good pace. I wanted 7.30, but the wind was atrocious, so I settled for keeping it under 8 m/m.

So that was a good effort. Then nothing. Work are still battering me with hours, then Luke, Wendy’s son, had a really evil bug, he was bored with being ill on his own so came around and gave it to me and Wendy. Super. Wendy’s been off work, rough as a rat’s arse, since Tuesday, I’ve just been feeling week and horrible. I had a patch, lay in bed last night, where I thought that I was actually OK, and could probably manage a run. I got up this morning grotty again. I’m missing valuable training and I’ve got the Manc marathon in a fortnight. I don’t have the time to be ill.

However, I thought I’d make the most of my down time by finally selling my kit. I put it off, not because I want to keep the kit, but because of all the hassle trying to sell stuff.

I decided to put my FireBlade up for sale as it’s ridiculously fast and it’s only a matter of time before I get caught and banned. Losing my license costs me my job. I can’t risk it.

I put it on Gumtree for £2,800, a fair price, I got it cheap at £3,000 (or was it £3,100? I forget.) I said “This is the price I want for it. If you want to haggle imagine I put it up for £3K and you’ve beaten me down.”

I put it on eBay at the same time, for £2,500 opening bid on the auction, or £2,800 “buy it now”. Amazingly, before I’d had chance to be bombarded by questions and scams, someone bought it.  Within 2 hours!

I took the advert down off Gumtree prompting one of the Gumtree denizens to text me, “I’ve got £1,800 for the FireBlade now”

That is more the calibre of abuse I was expecting.

I’ve checked the buyer’s feedback, he’s been on eBay for 9 years, 100% positive feedback, lots of “Paid full amount. No hassle. Great eBayer.”

I think it’s a done deal. That was easy.

Also I’ve decided to sell my saxes. The thing is, truth be told, I’m crap. I just can’t do it. While I have saxes about the place I’m always tempted to go back and try again. I really want to be able to play, but I just can’t. I can’t get the hang of counting time. Without that it’s all meaningless. Even typing that has made me think I should give it one more go. NO! Focus on triathlon!

I listed them yesterday. Within hours I got an email about the soprano. The guy came around tonight, played it like I would never be able, and paid me the full amount. I was happy to get shut, and his playing convinced me I was right to quit, but so gutted. It sounded like a different instrument. It sounded tuneful and lovely. It sounded like a duck being poked with an electric cattle prod when I was blowing.

Positives. Sold it hassle free. It was the right thing to do.

Also, I’ve been struggling with my other bike, the ratty old VFR750 I use for winter. Since I crashed it I’ve had nothing but problems. The fairing was smashed, I got an aftermarket replacement.

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Then I had to spray it up. Then fit all the clocks and lights and such. Put it back on only to discover the frame that holds that bit of the fairing was badly bent and the clock mounts were all snapped.

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I got a second hand subframe and a cheap set of clocks, stripped the clocks and assembled one good set out of the two. Then I realised it was only running on 3 cylinders. I changed the plugs, air filter and sprayed carb cleaner into the carbs. Still not having it. Yesterday I had to take the tank, air filter housing, and the whole of the carbs off to get at the jets.

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One was blocked. I cleaned it, reassembled the bike, and balanced the carbs. It works! Finally, I’m getting there!

Also I had to reattach the hugger and take up the tension in the chain.

Lucky I had set my mind to doing it, as I realised afterwards the MOT is due in two weeks. The last three obvious faults are the exhaust is blowing badly. That’s just a joint that come undone. It’s just a matter of tightening three bolts, but they are inaccessible to a normal spanner or socket set. I’ve ordered some long reach sockets. That should be an easy fix. The rev counter works intermittently. I don’t think it’s an MOT fail and I’m not that bothered. I’ll wait until I have to take the fairing off for some other job, then do it. The third job is minor again. The holes in the top of the replacement fairing don’t line up with the screw holes in the frame. I need to drill two holes in the fairing and screw it on properly.

I’ll book it in for an MOT for next Friday and see how it goes. If it passes, or it’s quite cheap/ easy to fix, I’ll keep it. I took it for a spin to test it after I’d done the carbs, it’s quite lively when you open it up. It seem it likes running on 4 cylinders. Who knew?

If it’s going to be expensive or major hassle I’ll sell it. It’s been irritating me ever since I crashed. If only there were some sort of lesson to be learned.

I was talking to a New Zealand biker on Twitter who’s just bought a Harley Davidson and I started really hankering for a HD.

On the one hand they are ideal: Slow, cool, sound great, and are fun. On the other they are massively expensive for what they are, thief magnets, and would lose all their prettiness and a lot of their value after one winter of English salted roads.

I was searching eBay and Gumtree for one anyway. Stupid money. £4k upwards. £5K for something half desirable.

No then.

But then I was thinking along those lines. A naked (no fairing to protect you from the wind and weather), slow, nice, fun bike. That would tick all my boxes. I could use it all year round, I wouldn’t need to insure and tax two bikes, and it would protect my license. (Wendy, and lots of others, say ‘it’s up to you how fast you go’, but when you nip a few hundred yards, between a roundabout and a bridge, overtaking 3 cars, look down and you are doing 104, without even trying, that’s too damn fast to retain a license.)

I was looking at “best cheap, used bikes” when I came across something I’ve read about before. The Suzuki SV650, naked.

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OK, I’ll own it’s not best pretty. And the V twin engine leaves the front pot right in the way of road grit and abrasion. But it ticks every box. Nippy, fun, handles really well (they’ve set up a category of racing around this bike) has a slow top end (123 mph) that is supposed to be a bit buzzy and unpleasant, and is naked.

In other words you could ride it as a practical workhorse or for distance, have fun chucking it into corners and have to really work to lose your license. You would have to thrash it a bit to go over the ton (automatic ban). On the Fireblade that’s barely out of second gear (of 6).

That exact bike in the picture is currently for sale in Warrington for £2,100. 10K miles. Immaculate, fully original condition.

If the VFR750 doesn’t start working sharpish, that’s what I’m looking at.

Super. Just realised, it’s 22.43 hours and I’ve just started feeling OK again. Marvellous.

Right. That can only mean it’s bedtime.

Sigh.

Later,

Buck.

Anus Horrible-plus

I know. I know.

My week has been a nightmare for my training and just in general. 

Sunday was an 11 hour shift, I weakened and called it a rest day. Didn’t train.

Monday I had nightmare. Supposed to be a 7 hour shift, at the last minute they changed my second drop to Didcot, (just past Oxford in deepest Darn Sarf). That bumped it up to an 11 hour shift. Then they shut the M40 on the way back up. I was going to run out of driving hours so I took another break to clear my clock on the A50. I went to start my truck back up, nothing. Had to call the repair guy out. By the time he’d got to me and repaired it I had enough time to get back to base with a spare half hour before I ran out of my legal maximum of 15 hours worked. If you run out you have to pull over and spend 9 hours on break. I set off, because it had gotten so late they’d put night roadworks closures in place. A50 shut. I had to divert. I made it to the M6 by luck, I didn’t know the diversion route, and started to relax. Then the signs came up “M6 J17- 18 long delays”. What? OK, I know that diversion. No probs, come back on at 18. Then next sign, “M6 J18- 19 closed”. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I had to come off at J16 and work my way around. I got into the yard with 8 minutes to spare of my 15 hours. I just pulled over and dumped my truck. Didn’t train.

That put me on a reduced rest for Tuesday, so 9 hours later I was back in, minus the hour for commuting, the hour wind down/ eat/ shower etc. Knackered. Didn’t train.

Wednesday I had an easy run, then when I got back they stitched me up with a bad second run. The second drop takes ages to load you. I was there 4 hours 15 last time I went so I was fuming before I started. 3 hours 30 this time. a 13 hours 15 shift. Didn’t train.

On Thursday I had a day off as I had a hospital appointment. By this time I’d built up a mental resistance. I was fighting against training. Everything seemed too hard. I didn’t train.

Friday, today, I was struggling. Really struggling. I prevaricated for about 2 hours or so before I finally forced myself on to the bike. I TRAINED! Huzzah!

So glad I did. I decided to redo the 4DP fitness assessment. It’s an hour of beastly tests. I’ve only been on Sufferfest a month, you’re supposed to do it every three months, but I wanted to know if I had improved. Here’s the proof.

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FTP is how much power you can maintain for 20 minutes (up 10 Watts) MAP is the 5 minute test (+17W) AC is the one minute (+43W) and NM is the 5 second burst (+348W!)

That’s what I call progress! For a month!

It looks more striking side by side.

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Look at that! I’m well chuffed with that.

I had talked of doing the hour long test and then doing another Sufferfest workout. Not even. I got back on the bike and just couldn’t spin my legs up.

I went for a 10 mile run instead. Sub 8m/m on the way out, a negative split of sub 7.30 on the way back.

If I could maintain a 7.45 for this year’s Outlaw (big “if”) I’d be able to knock nearly an hour off last year’s time. Just for the run. I’m hoping for at least an hour on the bike. Really, really got to get over my swim aversion and batter it.

Tomorrow I’m going for a 20 mile pace run, try and keep it at 7.30. Then a Sufferfest. That’ll be fun.

Next week I start back fresh, un-phased, and determined to batter it.

Later,

Buck.

Review

Sufferfest’s mental toughness programme says you need to set quantifiable weekly and monthly goals. Then review how your training went that week so you can reward yourself for success and try to learn from failure.

So here goes.

I split my goals down into the disciplines.

Swim: (For the week: ) Arrange 3+ swims per week.

(Month: Learn not to sink. Learn to breathe.)

Bike: 3 sessions per week (2 Sufferfest, 1 long ride.)

Run: Increase fast (sub 3 marathon, 5.48 m/m) by half a mile a week.

 

It was my first week, I worked 6 days at work, doing a 12 and a 13 hour shift (with an hour’s commute, so two rest days).

That having been said I did 2 swim sessions and am making great progress towards my monthly goal. I have floaty pretty much sorted, and my breathing is really coming on. It’s harder than it should be because I have to overcome the way I have been doing it. If I don’t concentrate for a second I slip back into it. 

 

I didn’t manage the outdoor long ride because I’ve only had the one day off and it’s cold and blowing a gale, but I did 3 tough sessions on Sufferfest. I increased my max power burst on The Shovel (a 1 hour 6 minutes intervals beasting) from 580 watts to 897. That was a good job.

 

The running was another mixed bag. Now I’ve decided to get serious and have rest days, then work battering me with hours, I’ve only done two runs this week. That’s after 2 months of running every day. Which is what I feared.

However, I did achieve greatness. I set out to do a 5½ mile fast run. Instead of a mile warm up, a sprint, catch my breath, then do the fast run, I tried to go at pace from the off. It was a mistake, frankly. It was so hard. At the end of 2 miles I thought my pace had dropped off so much I was going to have to jog and do it again. I looked at my watch, still 6.50’s, so I put my back into it. Then it was just a matter of not letting it slip. Horrible, horrible. I decided to make it 6 miles as I haven’t set my watch for half mile intervals. The last mile has a short but steep hillock. I looked at my watch at the top of it, wearing my lungs externally, and I was on 7.40 pace. So, on my last mile, totally shot, I had to claw back 50 seconds! And I did.

I should look into a proper speed plan. But I’ve gone from 4 miles, joint best ever distance at race pace, to 6 miles, in 2 weeks.

 

Some good achievements: broke my duck with the swimming, have worked out best times to swim, and started to make progress on a proper technique. I’m really digging in on Sufferfest and I think I’m getting a lot better. And I’ve increased my maximum effort on the run by 50% in a fortnight.

What can I learn from this week? There’s nothing more I can do about work stitching me up with long shifts, so best not to fret about that. To take a positive from it, I won’t schedule rest days, I’ll take the ones work forces on me.

I have to focus on swimming, make sure I get at least 3 sessions a week.

I need a big ride to see how Sufferfest translates to the road. (Just looked at BBC weather forecast: rain and wind. Forever.)

I need more runs.

 

My goals for next week: 3 swims, master floaty, get 90% on breathing.

3 rides, and redo my 4DP test (to see if I’ve improved).

4 runs. One long, one fast. Set a 7.45 brick pace.

Kicking My Arse Today So I Can Kick Theirs Tomorrow.

Same ol’

Sufferfest say I should concentrate solely on my goal, so sorry if there’s anyone reading this, it’s all going to be tri.

Except to say I rebuilt my VFR750 motorbike fairing (again) with a new subframe and the cannibalised best of two sets of clocks and all it all went back together properly this time. Now the bloody thing is running on 3 cylinders instead of 4, and being a V4 engine the carbs are a total pain to access. I’ve ordered some tools, when they arrive I’ll sort it.

Anywho, that’s not focusing on my goal.

I had a moment a few days ago. The Tour de France guy who did my bike fitting last year heard I was after a sub 10 Ironman and said I’d be looking to maintain a 25mph average on the bike. I was surprised he nailed it, but agreed readily. My plan was to get up to 20mph average for this year, 22.5 for next, 25 for the sub 10.

Since I’ve been beasting myself on the Sufferfest I really think I’m in with a shout. I won’t be happy with less than a 20mph average this year. The last 3 attempts have been 16mph. I looked back on an old blog and my 3 year plan was to get to an hour for the swim (too ambitious, say 1.10), a 5.25 bike and a 3.26 marathon (about right.)

Then I did the maths again. (I am thick as brick at maths, so I generally avoid it.) If I can average 20 mph this year, that’s 5.36!  In one year. If I could get to 25mph that would be 4.30! That doesn’t seem possible.

Just looking at 2017 results (2018 was blowing a gale) the guy who won the race, in the male, 20-25 year old category, did the ride in 4.33. Hmmm, I may have to lower my expectations. Or just win the race outright. That would be a hoot. Time’s to beat are 49 minute swim (never going to happen), 2.15 transition (T1), 4.33 bike, 2.23 transition (T2), and a 3.12 marathon (8 hours 39 overall!)

 

Well, that was a short-lived goal.

 

The winner of my age group did a 9.44 tri. That’s about the very limit of my ballpark hopes/ expectations.

She did a 1.05 swim, 3.00 T1, 5.10 bike, 2.42 T2, and a 3.22 run. Those are my targets now.

I’ve just written them down and propped them under my monitor.

Right.

*Game Face*

Actually, she was the winner of the 50-54 age group, by the 2021 race I’ll be 55, the winner of that age group was a 10 hours 39 time. That’s obviously outside my sub 10 hour goal. Interestingly, he was only 5 minutes slower on the swim, 2 on T1, 12 on the bike, 1 on T2, but then blew it massively on the run, 36 minutes slower. Or to put it another way, still 20 minutes faster than my PB last year.

 

All this talk of supreme efforts and the glory I’m going to achieve in 2½ years time kind of takes the shine off today’s huge achievement. Should have lead with that. Ho hum.

When I was trying to do a serious plan to run faster I eventually got up to 4 miles at sub 7 m/m pace. Supposed to be 6.48, but oft edged into 6.52 /53 territory.

After my run every day thing I managed last week to go out and run 5 miles at that pace. Extraordinary for me. I go long because I have lots more grit than speed. I ran a warm up mile, two miles fast then burned out when I got stopped by traffic, so ran another two miles slowly to recover, then did the 5 miles on recovered legs. Today I thought I’d try for 5½ miles. I was in a rush as I wanted to get a swim as well (didn’t happen) so I set off at race pace. It was so, so hard. I thought my pace has slipped back so far that I was going to slow down and try again by 2 miles, I checked my watch, amazingly still 6.50+ m/m, so I picked up the pace and carried on. In the end I ran 6 miles (Garmin said 5.99 miles afterwards, I’m having it, I don’t care) 6 miles at a 6.52 m/m average. It was hellish. I wanted to slow down or stop the whole time. Mental toughness. Just hanging in there for one more second, one more minute, one more mile. Thanks, Sufferfest.

I’ve broken my run every day thing in my pursuit of my tri goal. I had my first day off from training this year yesterday. 

Tomorrow it’s a bike day. Sufferfest to the max.

I’m going to have to start doing long rides on the road to see what power and speed I can maintain. I’ll do that on my day  off.

Right, another pointless blog. It’s just something for me to reference later. That was the day I set a new speed/ distance record. And thought I could ride a 4.30, lol.

Later,

Buck.

Sufferfest.

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.

Amazing.

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.

Later,

Buck.

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.

Later,

Buck.

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.

Later.

Buck.

Finally!

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.

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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.

Later,

Buck.

Catch up

What’s been happening?

Well, Wendy pranged the car around Manchester. I was taking her on a dry run to see if she could find her way on her own the next day (going to some church bash).

She put way too much pressure on herself, she’d made the motorway bit into a big deal in her head, then when we got around Manchester she was rushing, scared to hold anyone up. Anyway, she was flapping a bit, trying to follow the satnav, pulled out from a stop at a junction, straight into the side of a passing car.

No-one was hurt, so I just showed her how to exchange details and take pictures, then got her to drive home. The woman she hit was trying to have a fag as she ‘phoned in the details, the fag was all over the place she was shaking so bad. Wendy totally held it together (it was only a bump), drove home. All good.

The next day she got up and was shaking, couldn’t face driving the 2 miles to church, never mind Manchester. I thought that was it, her driving was over, but she woman-ed up and drove herself to work on the Monday.

I was thinking about it, I don’t know if I am just used to it, or it’s an aspect of my condition (reckless driving is a big indicator) but I just bounce down the road, pick myself and my bike up, and carry on. I don’t get shock. The last time I went into shock was when I got my tooth nutted out and a bit of a kicking whilst I was down. I was only a kid.

That was a moment. On the bright side, I was in a crash that was in absolutely no way my fault. That’s novel. And I didn’t lose my no-claims (I’m a named driver on Wendy’s policy) so that’s good.

I’m still recovering from my (motorbike) crash. I gave up and went to the doctor this morning about my shoulder. It’s nothing much, but it’s been nearly 2 months and it’s still not right. He’s arranged for me to go for a scan, see what’s up. Wendy has said in the past the reason I don’t get treated properly by the doctors is that I don’t lay it on thick. I was all ‘nah’. Heard myself telling the doctor "It’s probably nothing", today. She may have a point.

My poor bike is still not right, either. I got a replacement headlight cowl/ fairing thing.

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I sprayed it up and fitted it (huge pain in the arse!) but the sub-frame around the headlight is all bent and the  things that hold my clocks on have all snapped off.

It’s rideable, but I’m going to have to strip it down again and fit new clocks and subframe. *sigh*

At least I found some going cheap on eBay. They should be here tomorrow.

I am on the motorbike from now on in. I was riding the 19 odd mile commute (round trip) then going running every day. I looked at a proper training plan and it was ride one day, run the next, swim, rest. OK. Then I went to the gym, did a quick bike session then a run. I did a bit of a hilly run, then decided to go quick. I was dying trying to maintain 8.30 m/m. Before that bout of depression I was running 6.46 m/m. Something had to change. And quick.

I’ve done a week of riding in to work on my motorbike. I went out with no particular training and ran 4 miles at sub 7m/m. I’ve been working out on my pushbike on the turbo trainer (looks like this: )

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I went from 176 watts (power output) to 186, to 199.

It wasn’t pretty. 45 minutes training in an unheated shed in the middle of winter.

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That’s a puddle of sweat under my foot. And the camera on my ‘phone was working fine, the misty effect was the steam I was sweating fogging the shed up.

That’s one week of not cycling to work. Massive improvements. That is definitely the future.

Also someone on Twitter was saying to swap from my Zwift cycling app (a game that lets you race against other people in real time) for a dedicated cycling/ triathlon app, Sufferfest.

As the name implies, it’s all about muscle screaming effort. I’ve got a week’s free trial. To get it set up right they put you through a trial-by-ordeal baseline setting exercise. I’m doing that tomorrow. Then, once they’ve got the measure of me, they’ll demand specific goals for my training to make me improve. Wendy can’t get her head around the mentality of marketing anything by the name of Sufferfest.

Now I just have to start doing a regular 3 or 4 swim sessions a week. It’s do-able. Unfortunately, the tendons on top of my foot still haven’t healed and swimming is a lot of foot flapping about, so it causes them to flare up. Also the shoulder thing is less than ideal. I’m going to have to do it anyway.

If I can make those kind of gains in running and cycling by consistent training, in a week, I’m applying the same approach to swimming.

This new training approach also works for mental toughness. You get in from an 11 hour shift, sit down, and all you want to do it eat and crash out. It takes huge willpower to get yourself back out the door. So far (39 days) I’ve kept to my ‘run every day of 2019’ resolution. Which also helps. Once you are out of the door you might as well do a bit. 

Right, back to watching videos on how to swim and such.

Later,

Buck.