I have identified my weakest of weaknesses when it comes to this triathlon lark; the swimming. The last two sessions I’ve taken my Ironman watch so I could use the lap timer to keep track of how many lengths I’ve done.
For the half Ironman distance triathlon the swim is ‘only’ 1.2 miles, but being such a piffling distance they knock twenty minutes off what would be half the time of the full one. So it’s 2.4 miles in 2 hours 20 minutes for full distance, 1.2 miles in 1 hour for the half. Bastards.
The last two or three times I’ve timed it and I’ve been about three or four minutes outside the time. And it is really knackering. I don’t seem to have the strength to go faster or longer.
I suppose I should look at the positives, it’s not long since I was struggling to do 40 metres, and I think I’ve got the breathing sorted now. It used to be the whole of the battle was just trying to avoid drowning every time I took a breath, now I’ve got the the stage where I would say I am actually comfortable with it. Now I am busy trying to get my stroke right, stay flat on top of the water and not twist my body with each stroke. Not really thinking about breathing any more. So things are improving, if not as quickly as I’d like. I just have to practise until I develop muscles and a good technique.
The running is coming along well. It is only eleven weeks until my first full marathon race so I am following a training plan for that. I have been doing my running on the treadmill at the gym. It is a brilliant bit of kit! When you are doing distance running you are a bit cautious. It doesn’t do to run nine miles at a good speed, then be too knackered to continue, nine miles from home. Also, you get into a comfortable (it’s a relative term) rhythm and it’s hard to get faster. On the treadmill you can see what speed you are doing, can commit to it (if you can’t finish you can always step off) and can easily monitor your progress. The good/ bad thing is you overheat really quickly. The sweat pisses off me. This is good training for summer though (when most of my races take place).
In this months ‘Triathletes World’ they had a few top tips on running; putting the treadmill at 1% mimics real road running and running up tight to the front of the machine forces you to take faster, shorter strides putting your foot under your centre of gravity thus making your gait more efficient.
I have had a few notable successes. I said before that after a 56 mile bike ride I still managed to knock a minute off my time for a half marathon. My last big run, an 18 miler, I was feeling good so I set a good early pace. I started to flag at about 9 miles but I kept it up. I finished the half (13.1 miles) in 1:37.47 ! 5 minutes 1 second faster than my Warrington half time! That, let me tell you, is quite an impressive improvement. WIN!
Then I had to grind out another 4.9 miles! EPIC FAIL! That was rough. I did it, but my heart rate monitor kept slipping into the red, so I had to keep knocking tenths of miles per hour off my speed (or risk a heart attack!). I did it in 2 hours 17 minutes in the end. Then I got home, was too ill to eat my tea and ended up throwing up. Overdid the early stages a bit I think.
I am push biking to work a lot, just to try to build muscles drip by drip. It’s only about 5½ miles each way, but it has to be better than nothing. Some muscle build, and at the very least it has hardened my arse so I am not saddle sore anymore.
The next weekend I’m off I think I’ll try to nip the Lake District and back, get in some serious miles.
Anywho, swim, swim, swim. It’s my weakest discipline and if you fail on the swim (first event in the race) that’s it, your race is over.
Before I go, that heart rate monitor is another top bit of kit. I was worried I wasn’t pushing hard enough. Now I know my biking is on the borderline between the middle exercise state (aerobic?) and the last one (performance zone) and my running is all in the performance zone, except for when it strays into the zone labelled ‘ CRASH CART! STAT! ’
So, it’s all good. Except for the bits where I’m crap.