Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coachly guidance

Here are Coach Paul's suggestions for why I had a bad day yesterday (paraphrased by me):

  • Bad day: most likely cause since I've been doing my MAF pace training on the same course
  • Reaction to my anaerobic training (see "Hill Sprints" below). It's no secret that anaerobic work interferes with aerobic base building which is why Maffetone et al have the 155 cap rule when developing the aerobic system. It's also obvious that I struggled with the super-anaerobic training over the weekend (though I do think this was out of the ordinary- I coped MUCH better with horrible hill sprints on bootcamp in 08) However, the strategy this time 'round is to develop my strength, power, pain tolerance etc and now is the best time to do it., not nearer the race season.
His short point is not to stress- my winter programme focuses on strength, power and breaking that CG down- and to remind myself that the MAF tests are there to learn about myself as an athlete as much as they are about testing and seeing my improvement, and that REAL and PERMANENT improvement only occurs over a number of years.

Anyway, even if the test wasn't great, I still had a fairly solid 11km run last night, and I've had some pretty good trainer sessions, showing that my strength is improving. We're getting closer to the pre-season race-season, and I'm looking forward to Okoroire, Taupo Half and The Legend. Awesome.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Tonight was our second MAF test. The goal is (obvs) to improve, but since my HR crept up a little too much last time, I expected my overall pace to be a leeeettle slower than last time.

However, I was NOT expecting my overall pace to be nearly TWENTY SECONDS per k slower than last time. Surely I haven't gotten quite THAT much less fit? And surely my MAF pace isn't now what my "steady" pace has been recently? Did inhaling second hand smoke really improve my performance THAT much?

I feel fine, and felt fine during the workout. My MAF interval workouts have been going well, as has training in general (apart from cycling,which has been inside and a bit lacklustre). So what is going on??

Time to eat my jaffle, watch some Glee, email Coach and wallow in my MAFailure grump.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hill Sprints

Coach Paul has been displaying some seriously sadistic tendencies recently. Case in point? Hill Sprints. 15 minute warm up, followed by 8 x 15 seconds of heinous all out pain broken up with 1 minute recoveries, and topped off with a cool down.

Nah, who am I kidding, I love it!

Anyway, the first time we did hill sprints I really struggled. I was feeling a bit dead-legged when we started, and I just couldn't push myself on the sprints. So Phil would get to the top, puffing and heaving, and I'd TRY and TRY to push hard, but I'd end up at the end of 15 seconds feeling pretty much normal. I talked to the Coach, and he told me that women often have bigger problems silencing their "central governor" (the officious bystander of endurance racing) than men, because we're smarter and have better self preservation instincts (I'm paraphrasing... just a little.. Coach may not have said smarter....)

Since I have issues shutting up the man on my Clapham omnibus (big points to anyone who gets my loser references in this post!) , I'm trying to take this workout really seriously. Last year, I really felt like my performance at Tinman suffered because I couldn't go all out, so I'm trying to learn to push a bit harder- something I was definitely better at when I was younger.

Anyway, we picked a slightly better hill this time (the steep bit coming into Cambridge from the South) and set off. I was pretty stoked with my first couple of reps- hitting average paces of under 4:00/km (which is actually pretty good- even though it's only 15s, it takes a bit to accelerate). After 4 reps though, I lost it. My heart rate wouldn't go as high as it had been, and I was feeling dizzy and a bit ill. I'm actually attributing this to being a woman as well- it was not just a case of working too hard, and similar things have happened to me when I do weight training and other anaerobic activity at certain times of the month.

I completed sprints 6, 7 and 8 feeling pretty awful, and walked for a few minutes before sending Phil on his way and jogging slowly home. Although the session looked like a fail, it felt like a win to me- I managed to knock out some great sprints, and although I felt like poo, I jogged home without walking again. Another session to look back on when I'm coming around the Mount on the second loop in 6 months!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Some time between 2004 and today, I developed a little set of mental benchmarks for triathlon achievement. Basically, somewhere deep inside, my little head decided that in order to be a *respectable* triathlete, I had to be able to:
  • Swim faster than 2:00/100m
  • Bike faster than 30km/h and
  • Run faster than 5:00/km
What's interesting about these benchmarks is that they haven't changed with time. They don't really depend on distance. They just ARE. They're the same from sprint to ironman (if I ever do one). In fact, they're quite inconsistent with the race goals I set- if I could do all of these things at once, Id be a damn sight faster than I am!

I don't get (too) disappointed if I don't meet them- I've never run a 10k in an Olympic tri at 5:00/km, and I think my best bike split is STILL, frustratingly, 29.9km/h! Actually- if anything, they make me feel better (apart from the bike...) 39:50 for a half IM swim?? Nevermind, still below the benchmark. A 24:50 in a sprint tri? At least it's still under 5:00/km!

Anyway, I'm interested. Do these benchmarks make sense to you? Is a 30 minute Olympic distance swim equivalent to a 1:20 ride? A 50 minute run? Do you have your own benchmarks? How do they compare with these?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sold Out.

... but not before we got in! 7 months to go!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Training in Cambridge: Pros and Cons

A couple of weeks ago I had a bit of a moan about training in Cambridge. I missed the harbour. I missed the hills. I missed Wellington's bright mornings and glorious sunrises. I even missed Auckland's dastardly red fence. Then Phil gave me a metaphorical slap, and things are better, so it's time to write a balanced report on our new training home.

But I'm still doing Cons first...

The DARK. The all pervading constant mother-freakin dark. If we want to run around our perfectly ordinary suburb after about 5:30pm or before 7:00am, we don't just need hi-vis gear, we need rear lights and HEADLAMPS. HEADLAMPS people- for footpath running! (Auckland and Welly are both so delightfully light polluted that running in the early morning or late evening just wasn't even an issue)

...which brings me to FOOTPATHS. Or lack thereof. Most of Leamington isn't too bad, and I'm not expecting there to be footpaths in the proper country or anything, but the problem is that the footpaths MOVE, and more to the point, that it's so dark you can't see them, and they're all totally shielded from the few streetlights there are.

The FOG. The other night I was running, in the dark, with my headlamp, and all of a sudden, I couldn't see a thing, only my headlamp reflecting back at me. It was eerie and creepy and weird.

The humidity. In summer, when it was bright enough to run before and after work, it was painfully humid. But now that I'm a mature grown up who can accept running mazillion minute ks without throwing an I'm so fat and unfit tantrum, I know that humidity, like wind and heat, is just something that will make me more awesome one day.

The non-hills. Wellington and Auckland are predominantly hilly. Duh. But they both have 10+ ks of pretty much perfectly flat coast for those times when you care about measuring pace. Cambridge and Hamilton are pretty much flat. But pretty much flat is still annoying when a couple of wee hills or a false flat messes with your pace for the whole run. And it's next to impossible to map a decent and safe flat run, so the track with the teenage stoners it is!

In the weekend (and when it's light) we can drive to the country (see previous post) for some sweet, sweet running.

The cycling is pretty fantastic, apart from the dark and fog. 15 minutes of riding in pretty much whichever direction we choose and we're out in the middle of nowhere, with some fantastic climbs, roller coaster rides and some gorgeous countryside.

There are no traffic lights. When we go out for a 3 hour ride, it takes 3 hours, not 3:30! This is definitely making me fitter and stronger- my steady runs are steady runs, rather that moderate semi intervals!

So there you go.

Our strategy for making our workouts funner and more effective is to:
  • do our workouts in the morning where possible- since I'm working fewer hours we've lost this habit a little
  • do some of our run workouts in Hamilton, where it's not quite as dark!
  • celebrate the weekends, by making our weekend runs a real treat- going offroad, driving out to ride somewhere nicerm etc.
What about you? What are the best and worst bits about your training home?