Saturday, July 6, 2013

Disaster Racing; Mentalities of the wrong training

This is not really a conventional ‘what I’ve been up to’ post, it is more about just what a disaster race did to me mentally. It has only been in the last few months that I’ve been able to see the light and start to rebuild that damage. I have basically had to wipe the slate clean and rebuild. The post also somewhat follows up on a blog post my coach has posted on his training beliefs/methods. If you have not seen it you can check it out here, trust me it’s worth the read.

I’ll take you back to 6 weeks before Powerman Zofingen (PMZ) last year. I was on a high, I’d just run my first ever 1/2 marathon and managed to pull of a 1:24:29 on the back of 8 months running. This race was a big factor in me not going to race PMZ in the form I would have liked to. My run training was generally light on volume, around 40km a week absolute MAX!!, with ‘easy’ runs done off HR, then tempo and higher end stuff done off a mix of both HR and pace. Now this is where the issues with my training start to really show. Coming from a high level single discipline sport, cycling, I was already very aerobically fit. But through the years of training, my muscles become very efficient at doing one thing. What this pretty much meant is that I could run faster than my body could handle, or to put it in car terms: the engine was to powerful for the chassis. Neglecting this caused one big issue, that 1/2 marathon took me 2 weeks to recover from, and took so much out of me that my running never got back to that level before PMZ.    

One big factor to falling into this training trap was the training methodology in cycling at the higher levels, and just how much it differs to triathlon. Well over 50% of cyclist these days use power meters for training, for good reasons. They make your road bike a rolling lab and you can train exactly at the levels that you need to be. For example, it takes X watts to ride in the peloton, or it takes Y watts/kg to make it over the climb in contact with the contenders. If you can’t produce those numbers then you may as well not turn up to race, it’s that simple. Now in Triathlon/Duathlon, it doesn't really matter as an age grouper if you can stay with the pack or not. You’re still potentially in the race, as long as you play your cards right. It’s dangerous getting caught up in these power numbers. Now with the time I’ve been training with and thinking about them, probably the best way most age groupers can use on is either when doing wind trainer sessions, or where the athlete doesn't see the numbers while riding, and the coach is the only one paying attention to them.

Now skip forward to race day. It was a complete F up on my part. You name a thing an age grouper does wrong on race day and I could most likely put a tick next to it. One of the biggest hits to me mentally, was that these were mistakes that I had enough experience not to make. I can sum up race day pretty simple:
  • ate wrong breakfast
  • went out to hard in the first run
  • tried to take on a gel at an intensity that was untried
  • spew
  • spend the next 4hrs not being able to eat
  • still go out at goal pace on the bike even through I couldn’t eat.
  • bonk
  • walk a large part of the final run mentally shattered
Now below are my files from race day, open for everyone to see my total melt down and just how bad I was on that second run compared to my first.

First run
Second run

Then came another 2 disappointing races at Geelong and Melbourne for one reason or another. I was lucky I saw the light so to speak, about 4-5 weeks out from Melbourne and kinda got my shit together in those last few weeks, mainly through having the opportunity to train with Xavier and his athletes. That’s when I made the choice that he would be the man able to rebuild me, and help me get closer to my potential. Since then, we have been able to start undoing all the wrongs of the past, get rid of the bad habits and replace them with the right ones for me. And when I say me, I mean me. Just because they are the right ones for me doesn’t mean there exactly the right ones for you. Theres still a few little, and one big habit that we are just trying to bash out of me, but the changes are night and day for me.

Until next time


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let The Fun Begin!!!!!!

Been a bit since Ive updated here. Theres been a few things happen since the last post. My run focus block of training has ended finishing off with a hilly 12km TT, a half marathon and a 4km TT over 3 weekends. Was happy with all performances in these, especially in the half marathon where I managed fairly even Km splits. I have also gained my first official sponsor, L.J. Hopper Photography. You can cheek him out at New training and race kit is on the way.

We are siting now just over 9 weeks out from Powerman Zofingen which means things have become serious. Trainings been ramping up now these last few weeks. Sessions are done less at  easy or hard, and more done in heart rate zones or at a particular pace, especially on the bike. This is something that I’m able to be very controlled with and defiantly have allowed me to make gains quickly. I have trained this way most of my athlete life which has positives and negatives. Some of the big negatives is that it becomes mentally draining and you can lose touch with what your body is doing, thats why this time I have reserved this method for my main build phase only. Its all part of bringing more balance to my training and life, something my coach is big on! I feel that is is working exactly as I had hoped it would work. the brains fresh and focused which means staying with these numbers mentally easier plus means I don't have to think about hitting the numbers I just go out and make it happen. I like to call it entering Peter Reid mode. For people that don’t know Peter was well known for being extremely focused and dedicated to his training, except he was this way for most of the year which ultimately lead to him being hurt mentally from the sport, thats another reason why I have done things the way I have.

Sticking to the numbers was one thing I identified as something I didn't do last year, especially on the bike. Instead of working on staying in my current zones and allowing power to increase, I rode at a power I wanted to ride at race day hoping that the duration I could hold that power would increase. Big mistake and resulted in me spending way to much time in the gray area, not getting the volume required in on the bike and impacted my ability to get in the run training needed.

I’m currently happy where most of numbers are sitting at this stage. Running wise I’m about 5% quicker for a given zone than what I was before last years race with still the really work to be done. On the bike I'm about the same if not a little lower then where I was last year, which is actually where I want to be. Last year around this time I was coming off a cycling racing block, which I think may have effected my final build for the race. This year we are building the bike and run up together which is the key and I’m confidant that we are going to get it right. Last year I peaked my run around 6 weeks out and never really reached a peak on the bike. This was a big learning experience for me, which more information was gained through my IM Melbourne build.

Last weekend was the first big weekend of training that I’ve gone through this build. 158km hilly ride on Saturday ended with me not in a great way. Poor prep with nutrition left me around 100cal an hour short, partly due to not reading labels. Amateur mistake but a wake up call that has come early enough in my build. These nutrition issues and bad habits are something I want to get nailed down asap and replace with the right ones. Was able to turn things around a little bit Sunday with a good hilly 17km run. Legs pulled up good and felt fairly comfortable on the climbs which is key.

I’ll be updating here a bit more regularly now that the fun has began,

Until next time