Friday, 23 March 2012

What's going on, body?

Much as I'd like to be at my race weight of 62kg by the start of the race calendar, I've not actually been trying to lose any weight over the last 4 weeks.  I'd set a goal of 62kg for later on and not actually been attempting to be in calorie deficit.

Having been through a period of significant change in the past, I know that there are adaptation periods where stuff lags a bit then thunders through in terms of weight/fat loss. However, I've not experienced anything quite like the last few weeks.  With a caloric excess in intake of approximately 200-300kcals per day over almost 14 days, I've -lost- exactly 3kg.  Now, this tells me exactly nothing.  There are so many factors at play that I have no idea why it's happened.  My training routine has changed from lots of medium to long slow training with some strength sprinkled in, to some of those low grind sessions replaced by power and/or speed work.  In addition, I've had a 3 day period with no training at all, so I ended up eating less overall and thus have less food mass in transit.  I've had a cold thing which headed into my guts yesterday morning and is almost completely gone today.  Also, as the weight has been dropping, I've not been updating the settings on my Polar heart rate monitor so that's over-estimating how many calories I'm spending on exercise which means I'm actually taking in even more than 200-300kcals extra a day over what I need.

So, it's handy that I've had a head start on getting to my target race weight, but... I'll keep an eye on things for another couple of weeks and hopefully things will settle down again, otherwise I've got to work out what's going wrong with my thinking.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sun, hail, rain, cold and A Hill

Sunday's ride was very mixed indeed.  I started off late as I needed to swing past Evans for a new pair of overshoes.  A tiny bit chilly, but not cold as such and really quite sunny, I put on my compression tights, bib-shorts, a cycling top (stuffed full of gels and bars in one pocket, phone, spare cash, Oyster and a long-sleeved top in the second pocket, leaving the third pocket free for empty gel wrappers), and a pair of skiing socks, I thought I might even be a tiny bit warm with overshoes on top as well.

A new route uploaded into my new Garmin I headed off for a totally different route than the ones I've been doing recently.  Out through Carshalton, Wallington, Coulsdon, Whyteleafe, Warlingham and Westerham and on to Sevenoaks in the end.  Somewhere around Whyteleafe, I got a nasty shock of a climb in my face... Succomb's Hill.  Seriously, what the hell?  Out of nowhere, there's a 25% climb which is narrow, twisty and really busy with cars who don't take kindly to there being a bike on the road, travelling at around walking pace.  I stopped in a private road, (Southview Road, according to Garmin) thinking I was pretty much at the top, to let some cars past and have a drink before carrying on, but I was wrong and there was more hill to go.  I was actually worried I wouldn't be able to clip back in properly when starting at such an incline so instead of pratting about any more, I walked up the rest of the way and even that was tricky.

See the width restriction and gradient signs on the left?
The route was supposed to take me out to Sevenoaksish, round and back again, but... somewhere around Warlingham, the sunny intervals (which were more sunny than interval) suddenly stopped, the skies darkened, the wind picked up and hail came lashing down from the sky as I was on a long fast descent.  With short-sleeves on, the hail really hurt my arms as well as bounced off my helmet.  I got colder and colder and decided to try to make it to Sevenoaks and stop at the pub I'd seen on the route map earlier.

Route I was supposed to take
In Brasted (note, pronounced "bray-stead", not "brass-stead", as I was corrected by a local), I passed the ninety-six degrees cafe (which seems to be rather well known in the cycling fraternity) and for some reason (probably the thought of there seemingly being nowhere safe to leave my bike) decided not to stop there and carried on down the road to The White Horse.  Wheeling my bike into the entrance porch, I saw some other cyclists inside - who, in turn, spotted me and waved me 'round the back to put my bike under the umbrellas in the secluded beer garden in the back with theirs.

Route I ended up with (minus the bit from the pub to the station)
Heaven!  A warm pub, somewhere safe for my bike, a hot chocolate on the way and Phil from the group of cyclists chatting away about triathlon, Ironman and cycling in general.  I don't know how long I spent in the pub with the 4 guys, trying to warm up properly, eating burger and chips and having a great natter, but it didn't matter.  I was freezing cold and soaked through, even with my mostly dry long-sleeved top on as well, and really needed to get out of the wind and rain.  The nice company was a real bonus.  And as I pushed my plate away at the end of eating, with a bit of burger and more than half the chips left (and really there weren't that many of them to start with, though they were really good triple-fried ones), the eyes were all fixed on the remaining chips until one of the guys pointed it out and I told them to tuck in.

When they headed off, I did too, not sure whether I'd cycle on home again or have to find the station and get a train.  As soon as I got outside, the answer was clear - it was still very cold and windy, though the rain had stopped.  I carried on in to Sevenoaks and found the station by chance very quickly.  Home again home again jiggety-jig on the train, to a warm Mr TOTKat, tea and cake.

See the silly bit about 22km in?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Taking it easy before the decline

I've been getting more and more tired over the last couple of weeks. Two factors: not getting enough sleep; and intense work days.  And it's been having a detrimental effect on my ability to recover from training.  So on Friday morning I woke up with a really sore throat, sore inside my ears and a stuffy feeling in my head.

I thought it'd wear off over the first couple of hours, as those things often do, so I went in to work.  But by 10am it was getting worse and I was getting more and more tired, so I decided to get the important meetings out of the way and head home.  Sacking off my T1 brick training session and crashing out to bed I slept through until 5am, when Mr TOTKat got up for his trek to a far away parkrun.  Within seconds, I was back asleep again until 7am when the daylight lamp and radio woke me again.  I turned off the lamp and fell back asleep one more time until about 8.30am.  And ohboy did I need it.  I really think I needed to take that little break and have a good ol' sleep to avoid the beginnings of sliding towards over training.  Better to pull away from the brink way before I get anywhere near it than not.  I've still got a sore throat this morning, but it's not so bad so I'll train today and try out my spanky new tri suit (2011 Speedo LZR Triathlon Pro suit - don't forget the "UK15" voucher code if you're buying from Wiggle between 13/03/2012 14:00 GMT and 22/03/2012 14:00 GMT).

I tried it on and it's really very tight, and looks good apart from a bit of back fat around the arm holes, but really very light and sounds like a canvas shopping bag!  Can't wait to feel what it's like in the water.
I did also get the 2XU compression tri suit which is fantastically soft and comfortable.  It'd be good to do a couple of time trials with those two on to see if there's a material difference in how I feel when racing in them, in terms of comfort and speed.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Another mixed bag

I had a time trial scheduled in for last night's training session with coachJez.  The plan was for a partly indoor sprint tri but by the time I got to the session, I didn't really see the point of doing it.  I have 4x identical sprint races this year, the first of which is really very soon, so why do a time trial now?

After a bit of a chat, we decided to go ahead with -something- anyway.  So I plopped into the pool in my 2XU tri separates and hit a 400m swim.  Which was rubbish.  07:18 and every time I turned, my shorts felt like they were filling up and causing drag.  This was very confusing at the time as last year all I remember of those shorts is how fabulously comfy they are.  I'd never felt that drag in the water before. Current suspicion is that I've not worn them for a swim without a wetsuit over the top... I'll verify that from my race spreadsheet later, but it makes sense.  Anyhoo, not the fastest swim I've done by a long shot and a demoralising start.

A quick dry off (people get snippy if you drip all over the gym floor)and on to the spin bike for 30 minutes hard work.

I started off at a heart rate of (caveatted) 85% HRmax for 10 minutes, then 88% for 10 minutes, then 90-91% for the last 10 minutes.  This was absolutely great.  Never mind that 30 minutes is way faster than I can probably do 20km, learning that I can push my cardio system that hard for that long is a really good thing.  OK, so the real % will get moderated once I've done a proper max heart rate test (hopefully this weekend), but understanding how it feels to push that hard for that long and not keel over, or even vomit, is a very useful experience.

And straight on to a run around the track of 10 laps (and extrapolate a 5km time from that).

Lap 1 and coachJez yelled at me to wind it back a bit.  The next 8 laps came in at 51s per lap (90% HRmax) like clockwork so I put in a bit of a spurt for the final lap, coming in at 41s (94% HRmax) for that one and the calculation came in at 24 minutes for 5km.  That would have been a PB for 5km for me even without a swim and bloody hard bike beforehand.  Very very pleased with that.  Very pleased indeed.  I know I can hold a higher heart rate over 5km as I've more than once held over 180 bpm (84% HRmax) for an entire 5km, so there we go.

The swim I'll put down to bits of biology and the fact that I just hate that particular pool; it's dark and busy and I nearly smacked straight into someone's face at the end of one length.  I can do better, by around 10s per 100m or so, so it was just a bad day.  The heart rate trace shows there's loads of effort for little forward motion compared with previous swims.  The bike and run were really good.  Overall, despite not really getting the point, I got a massive psychological boost and a couple of learning points.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

First speedwork session

 I took a wrong turn again!  GAH!  I keep doing that at Wimbledon Park station and go almost straight on instead of jinking right then left to up Melrose Avenue and end up in the right place (I stopped the Garmin when I had realised I was definitely on the wrong side of the Park, so that's why it looks like I stopped at the golf club - I did carry on and went into the track from the West instead of the East).  I really need to stop doing that.  So I ended up with 5.5km warm up instead of 3km (well, it was supposed to be 1km, but it's 3km to the track, so.) and up and down Wimbledon Hill a couple of times.  Must remember to go past the station, not to the side of it!

Anyway, I got to the athletics track eventually and it was deserted, nobody there to take any money from me or even anyone else to share the track with.  No open toilets either, which was annoying as I needed a wee.  The track was deserted for almost all of my session apart from the second half where a lady and her small son ran around a few times too on the inner lane.  The surface was quite nice, very grippy and slightly less harsh than pavement/road running, but I think there's not been a lot of running been going on there over the last few weeks as there was a lot of debris on the track - twigs, leaves, moss etc.

So my first ever running speed session.  I don't know what to expect.  I think I didn't go hard enough.  I'm not sure if I could have... just nothing to go on really other than feeling a bit rough in the 400m sets.  8x400m with 200m recovery jogs in between.  And as I don't ever do this session again in my schedule, I'm not sure I'll ever know.

I'm pleased with the consistency of the 400m sets though, if not the overall average speed, but then that wasn't going to be high with the recovery jogging in there.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

High cardio - high carb

's how it works.  Shame it also seems to mean sodall fruit & veg.

That's 566kcals under maintenance for today (I'm set to 0.5kg loss per week which means WLR gives me 500kcals less than maintenance value each day - I've got 2-3kg to lose to race weight).  Makes up for the lardass meal on Thursday.  Or not.  Still, no harm in being under on some days as long as it's not -all- the time.  But just look at the carbs!

Monday, 5 March 2012

100km and a cheeky tea and bacon buttie

This was a good weekend.  Very pleased with it.

Almost 100km covered under my own power; 74km hillyish cycling on Saturday and 24km running on Sunday - the furthest I've run to date in one session.

Having concentrated on cycling in the South, I turned and looked North on Saturday.  Mr TOTKat and I cycled to my parents' house last year one weekend.  It took a Bloody Long Time, was Hard and Horrible and we stopped lots because I was pretty unfit.  This Saturday, I decided to drop in for a cup of tea, un-announced and just get the train back straight away if my folks weren't in.  74km and 3ish hours after leaving the house I arrived, without a drop of sweat, feeling great, and to the surprise of my parents.

Sunday, Mr TOTKat and I went out for a long, slow run up to Richmond Park, round once and back again. 24km, the furthest I've run in a single run.  It wasn't my most favourite running experience, I felt a bit horrible at times probably because Saturday's ride wasn't all in heart rate zone 1 (the goal was bike handling skills, not Z1 ride, so I did put some effort in up and down the hills).  You really do tend to feel it the couple of days afterwards if you put in some higher effort in a session, and Sunday proved that to me.  There was also an unpleasant moment running down a hill where my right knee twinged all the way down, but then no problems afterwards.  It was a bit of a shock, having had no pains at all for months now, but I think I'll put it down to bad form racing down the hill and see how it goes.  After our run it was home again for some food and a bit of shopping before heading out to the TCR Show.

There were a few show discounts to be hand and some fun watching people swimming (well, splashing about like loons, mostly) in the infinite pools in the Zoggs swimming zone.  We found the Ironman stand and our little moment of fame on their promotional piece about "The Ultimate" and had a good long chat with Dan James and Kevin Stewart of Ironman UK.  Rather over-excited by all of that and a nearly sensible amount of money spent on a few bits of kit, we toddled home in the driving rain.