Andy: The upheaval of moving country (Qatar, on a project, timing not great, but couldn’t turn it down) can be notably seen in this weeks poor training stats. I’m trying to keep the nuts and bolts I forged over the winter months together through mini sessions when I can. The 45 degree heat outside adds to the challenge. I’m hopeful for a better week now I’ve found a 50m pool, a spot to run and acquainted myself with the gym’s only bike. Must keep motivation up!
Editor [Do we see a pattern of excuses, sorry “reasons” emerging?]
Andy: With the six nations starting it was going to be hard to stay away from the party atmosphere so I allowed myself the first weekend to succumb and get amongst it. I travelled to Cardiff for a real blow out of a weekend, and what a weekend. Much needed ‘rest days’ under my belt…
Feeling fresh from my weekend away I set my goals for February: to concentrate on my running, clocking up the necessary miles and improving my long distance times. With the weather still bad I knew I would find it difficult to get out on the bike as much.
Consistency is key it would seem, I ran two to three times per week and racked up an average of 30km’s per week. This paid dividends when it came to the Hampton court half marathon towards the end of the month. This effort didn’t come unpunished however, I managed to pick up a niggling hamstring injury which is still persisting.
Cycle training was confined mostly to the turbo trainer for February. An uninspiring, lonely, sweaty place, made worse by the fact that it’s done in the front room to the annoyance of everyone present. I downloaded some punishing ‘sufferfest’ dvds which really put you through your paces. These cycle sessions indoors could not be further from where my cycle adventure through rural France took me last summer. I long for a sunny afternoon jaunt through the Cotswolds. Bring on Spring!
Lastly, the swim…Pool, what pool? I’ve truly neglected the swim…I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt me. Must try harder.
In summary I clocked 4km in water, 292km in the saddle and 120km on foot.
So now to set the aims for March:
- First of all get in the bloody pool and swim! Consistency is key you idiot. You know that already.
- Take to the great outdoors on the bicycle, increase time in the saddle to harden the haunches.
- Introduce brick sessions, eeek, these are painful.
Create a specific conditioning routine to rid myself from this hamstring injury
I’d picked up a hamstring injury in the weeks preceding the Hampton court half so I was feeling a little apprehensive about running and making things worse.
Come game day though I was up early and determined to make it round. A solid warm up loosened the limbs and gave me a bit of confidence it would hold up.
I’d read an article about half marathon strategy a few days before and it seemed to all make sense to me, the basic principle being regulate your energy expenditure evenly throughout the whole race i.e. don’t deplete you glycogen stores at the start then struggle in the latter stages. From previous half marathons I’d been guilty of going off too fast and crashing.
So with this in mind I took inspiration from good old Winston Churchill’s famous quote ‘He who fails to plan is planning to fail’ and decided to use this event as a practice for executing a plan.
- 0-3 miles: run roughly 10 seconds slower than target pace. This was hard to adhere to given the adrenaline at the start but I really held back the urge with the knowledge that I’d reap the rewards later on. Tortoise not the hare!
- 3-10 miles: run at goal pace. Increasing my pace gradually I caught up with and held onto the 1hr 30min pace maker, relaxed and let my mind wonder away from the pain of run
- 10-13 miles: attack. This was the hardest but most rewarding part. Having run 7 miles at a fairly constant pace it was hard to pick it up. I managed to do so gradually and started passing all those people who had gone off too early. I had something left in the tank and was grinning inside at my resistance to go off to hard.
The plan had worked! I clocked 1hr 25mins, a personal best of over 5mins.
Thanks Winston, lesson learnt: Planning is key.
Now to turn my attention to fixing the hamstring and getting back to full fitness.
The plan for January was to trim back down to my pre-Christmas cruiser weight and ease my body into swimming, cycling and running for extended periods of time – something I knew I’d have to get used to.
With my blood stream and arteries tainted with the delights of the festive period the almighty task of an Ironman was somewhat daunting. This, coupled with a few too many (overly confident) digs at the Russell team meant I needed to get my training started pronto. So, to accelerate my post‑Christmas rehab I decided to attack my Achilles heel head on – I vowed not touch a drop of alcohol for an entire month…
In fear of sounding like a recovering addict, weaning myself off was a challenge. The first few days were a piece of cake, I didn’t want another drop after an extravagant NYE, but when the weekends rolled by and the birthdays cropped up, the lure of a pint was more and more enticing. I am pleased to say that I stayed strong and today is the final furlong. The ordeal has helped a great deal and is best shown by comparing my December to January training achievements:
Now I’ve dusted the cob webs away, I can plan my goals for February.
Two out of the four weekends I’m away from home so this means the remaining two weekends need to be dedicated to some serious training. For the first of which I’ve enlisted a training partner, Josh ‘the bomber’ Harris, my tough mudder comrade and fellow endurance enthusiast. The plan is to fit a mini triathlon in over the course of a weekend, details of which TBC but I hope to fit in a ride out to Box hill, a run around Richmond park and a dip in one of London’s Olympic size pools.
The second free weekend involves running in the Hampton court half marathon where I aim to beat my PB, but more importantly win a bet placed upon me by Owen Sharkie. This man has ventured outside of bookies for this one and put a £20 wager, winner takes all. And when I say winner, I mean the looser donates £20 to the Headcase charity.
For future reference, betting in this way is encouraged. I will take endurance based bets of most kinds to win Headcase more money. Bets can be placed via email or twitter (firstname.lastname@example.org / @Brown_AndyBrown).
In the words of Chis Akabusi:
I’ve teamed up with the Russell family to continue the great work they started last year in raising money for the Headcase charity (all details explained on the homepage). They managed to raise a staggering amount in a previous endeavour, so now it is my turn to help the cause and get the donations flooding in.
Those that know me will know that I’ve taken a liking to the sport of triathlon over the last few years. To date however I’ve limited myself to distances I’ve known are manageable. When the Russell team proposed a longer (much longer) challenge it took me a few courage inducing beers to sign up.
While each discipline on their own may seem possible, it’s the combination of all three, one after the other, that will be the biggest test. If you’ve ever tried to walk, let a lone run, after you’ve been sat on a bike for a few hours then imagine trying to bash out a half marathon in that state.
To make the months of pain I’ve committed myself to a little easier I’m going to be keeping everyone up to date with all the trials and tribulations training will bring through this website.
So spread the word and get donating!
Remember:- The more donations we receive the harder we will train.