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.