Saturday, June 30, 2018

Nine Tonne Has Done For Me

So as expected, my back and shoulders are aching after yesterday's evenings exertions spreading 9 tonne of chippings over the shared driveway area - 9 tonnes wasn't enough so there'll be another 4 tonnes arriving next week - doh. Hopefully my back won't ache quite so much after shifting the next lot.

It was a bit jarring to run and although I was itching for it I knew it wasn't really an option. Instead - yes, you guessed it - I hit the turbo and selected a race. 30k with several climbs and a couple of sprints. I was up against ten other riders and, as I'd be warned, they shot off like a loaded gun at the start. I didn't keep up and was dropped pretty quickly. After a couple of kilometres their pace dropped and I was able to keep even pace with them but wasn't able to get back on terms. I did manage to get one place back by the finish so didn't come last. As a bonus though I took a second place on one of the climbs and won both the sprints!

Later in the day I still had pangs of guilt at not having managed a run and had the idea of a hill session on the treadmill where I could keep the jarring to a minimum. I set the treadmill to 5% elevation for 500m and then 10% for five 250m reps. Not totally happy with missing a proper run but I'm hopeful for tomorrow...

Friday, June 29, 2018

Increased FTP

Still feeling tired. The heat is just too much to feel energised. I didn't manage a double but it was a good Zwift bike session never the less. And I even registered an increase in my FTP, up to 181 from 176. (Although I'm not really sure what it is but it's some kind of measure of cycling so indicative of increasing fitness).

I rode the Richmond UCI full course and put in the efforts on the 3 segments (1 sprint, 2 climbs). I think that's what did for the FTP increase. I'm still finding the whole virtual riding/running really incentivising and don't have any issue being motivated for it. Long may it continue. Definitely a run day tomorrow and maybe a little bit of bike if I'm lucky - that's assuming that spreading 9 tonne of gravel later this evening doesn't do me in...

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mish-mash Of Intervals

My legs are still a bit heavy but there was no way I missing another session. I decided that getting my legs moving a little faster than normal might help get the blood flowing. It was a pretty good session. The faster 400m reps felt about the right speed verses distance. I followed that into a longer rep and then 600/800m slower intervals to warm myself down. The pegs feel a bit better now. Hopefully I'll feel up to a run and bike tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Still Feeling A Bit Heavy Legged

Despite a rest day yesterday my legs still felt leaden. At work, wandering around site (yes, I've had my induction) carrying out my tasks, my legs felt rubbish - and I can't blame it all on wearing heavy boots. So I decided to try out a Zwift group bike training session tonight and give the running a second rest day. It was quite motivating riding in a big virtual group but I'm somehow not sure about it...

The hour passed quickly and the session was over before I knew it but I'm not sure about the total training benefit. The software sets all the targets and resistance based on previous rides/efforts but it just felt a bit odd. Each interval was quite fatiguing and the required effort to complete enough that I was glad to reach the recovery phase each time but somehow the overall training effort just didn't seem quite as good as riding Bkool and a hilly route, having both hard ups and easy downs to recover.

Still I think there's probably a place for it. Mixing all the different types of sessions is going to help keep things fresh and interesting and a mix of different types is probably a good philosophy. Not every ride or run can be all out can it? - but I certainly want to make sure I do plenty of hard work work and don't just go through the motions.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Bit Random Today...

Started with a short Zwift as my legs felt a bit sore. After that the soreness seemed to have gone so I decided to try out the bike version of Zwift and over ambitiously jumped straight in with a race (after a very short warm up). That was a bit much. It was a two lap race of 30km total but I had to abort after one lap as I was absolutely dying. I had really good power output but it was just too much.

Twenty minutes after that I couldn't face that I'd not completed the session so hopped back on for another twenty minutes of effort. That finished me off. Then later in the day I got a second wind and went for a real run. Just the local 5k loop but it exorcised the guilt of this mornings rubbish run.

I've burnt some calories today and after six days straight, eleven training sessions I think I've earned myself a rest day tomorrow...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

That Was More Like It

No delivery distractions today although I did have a longer lie in than I'd intended. It was meant to be up and at it early but ended up being at it mid morning. Still, I was at it, so that was the important bit.

I decided to run the full Flaxley loop, 9k. It was far from my fastest but the stats show I'm covering the various section of the route faster, little by little. I'm glad I had the cover of the trees for most of the run though because I was roasting by the end.

After the run I was onto the the turbo for a 30 minute blast with a good solid category 4 climb to finish - me off completely. My quads burnt as pedalled with everything I had left. I was only twice as slow as the record time!

I feel the training regime of run and bike is working though. I feel stronger. Nowhere near what I used to be but I'm inching there and I really do think I'm beginning to get the old addiction back. Being a geek and erstwhile anorak I think the computery virtual stuff is really helping fuel the addiction. It's like being a geek and runner/rider all at the same time!

More of the same tomorrow...

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Not Quite What I Had Planned

but it felt like a pretty good training session despite that...

So I was intending to venture into the Forest - but then I remember I had a delivery coming. So I waited in (and did a bit of gardening to fill the gap) but as time edged ever onwards I couldn't face the thought of waiting too long and slipping back into my old ways, namely losing the will to train!

So having waited as long as I dared I hopped on the treadmill - and wouldn't you know it, 2km in and the damn delivery arrived - doh! By then I was committed to the mill and carried on to complete a lap of Zwift's  London “Classique”, 5.7km. Tomorrow it will be a real run as I've definitely not got any deliveries booked...

After that I was straight on the turbo for ten laps and 10k around Canary Wharf and despite feeling knackered I pushed my legs into action to crank out a few "fast" laps.

And by way of a change, here is a chart of my 'fitness' progress. It's heading in the right direction....

Friday, June 22, 2018

Killed It Today...

I went for another crack at the Bkool Tour de Suisse 2018 stage one TT training route. Last time 31:04, this time 27:48 and it was fair to say I was gunning for it. I set up some of the 'ghost riders' from other Bkoolers who'd been a little quicker than my first attempt but I very quickly left them in my wake - I should have been more ambitious and selected some even faster ones.

I really pushed it. My quads burnt on the two main climbs. I just kept grinding it. Legs are fair wobbly now but recovering quickly. It's a run day tomorrow...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Solid Day

So I decided not to wait till after work and mustered for another midday session. A 5k Zwift. More of a steady recovery than a hard session but even so I felt quite a buzz afterwards. I think that helped me really break the back of the software I'm working on as the way forward suddenly came into view with crystal clarity... (no I don't know what I'm babbling on about either!)

So after work I was to the turbo for a solid session of just under the hour. A 25k ride from Cross Ash to Crickhowell - virtually at least. I put it a decent amount of effort, focusing on keeping the power average up. It was a really good session.

Really beginning to feel like I've re-found that which was lost...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reunited At Last...

Yes, after several years away my colleague and I finally managed to get back out for what was once a weekly appointment - the lunchtime run. We ran the same route I reccied last week. It was good to be back and we're hoping we can resume some level of regularity. Maybe won't happen every week but hopefully a couple of times a month,

As to the run. It was a pretty tired affair despite taking a rest day yesterday. I still felt pretty empty and my legs didn't feel like playing ball. I was about as quick as last week but somehow it didn't feel as strong a run and I really struggled in the last kilometre. To make matters worse I left my watch at home so had to resort to carrying my phone in hand to record the run - can't be not recording the data for later analysis on Strava, Smashrun and Runalyze....

In light of today's tired run I decided to forgo the bike session tonight in the hope I'll be feeling more recharged tomorrow. I'm aiming for a double tomorrow however I feel.

Monday, June 18, 2018

It's Better With A Fan...

Although it should have been a rest day as I very quickly found out. Training was really laboured today. I knew I was struggling within the first few minutes. It didn't get any better from there. Add to that I was on the local loop with a decent climb - suffice to say I didn't climb it decently. Pitiful would be an appropriate adjective.

After eventually making it back to base 6.7k later I thought I might as well finish myself off completely with a 20 minute lap of Central Park - and, of course, I wanted to test how the new fan would improve things on the turbo. And it really did. There was almost no dripping! Okay, so I wasn't gunning for it as my legs were shot and I was generally pretty much pedaling on empty but even so the evaporatitive effect was brilliant.

Absolutely a rest day tomorrow. Despite not wanting to miss a day I need to as today's run really was a bit of a waste of effort and I'd have benefited more from a rest day.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Done And Dusted By 10am

So I was up and at it early - early for a Sunday, not early as in early. Giving the running a miss yesterday had done the trick and my calf was no longer feeling sore or tight. Off I headed into Flaxley wood.

I wasn't feeling as sprightly as I thought I would but then I probably haven't been resting as much as I should either. Even with the enforced non-run, I still hit the bike pretty hard yesterday. Anyway, although I wasn't feeling fast I was feeling like I had a decent level of torque and managed to crank out the run steadily without stopping - apart from the stiles, road crossing and the big steep hill at the start - which is going to take quite a while before I have the power to conquer.

After the run I hopped on the bike for a quick 10 laps around Canary Wharf. That takes my tally to 27 training sessions in 24 days.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Think I Over Did It...

Woke up this morning with a sore and tight left calf muscle. I took a few strides outside to see if I could run but it wasn't good and I decided I'd do more damage than good. It's a bit of a spanner in the works. I was planning a 9-10k run which I'm pushing back to tomorrow - fingers crossed.

Being sensible I should probably have taken a rest day but I couldn't help myself and did a thirty minute session on the turbo as my calf muscle didn't seem to be a problem riding. And then I got carried away and pushed hard to beat my previous power average best.

Hopefully the more fitness I get the more robust I'll become - like back in the old days when I was practically indestructible. When nothing could stop me. But then I guess I am a little older now, no bloody wiser, mind, so perhaps I need to put some structure to training to avoid getting any niggles...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Another Double

I managed to keep my internal promise and got my arse out of bed before work again for another quick 5k Zwift on the treadmill. I've been gradually inching up the speeds as the session go by and this was my quickest to date.

So after work I hit the bike for a session in the virtual Black Mountains, up the virtual A4067, past the virtual Cray Reservoir and down to the finish in the virtual village of Defynnog. A virtual 22k with 340m of virtual ascent. After all that I'm virtually knackered.

Beginning to feel the training buzz...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Zwift One After Work...

I probably should have gone into the real world but I didn't. I did train on the treadmill though. A swift 30 minute Zwift interval session. I think I'm getting back in the groove. Sixteen runs in twenty one days and a total of twenty two high effort sessions, bike and run combined stats, over the same period. Tomorrow I'm looking to run before work and then bike afterwards...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Quick Ride In Spain Before Tea

Yes, of course a session on the turbo and Bkool. A slightly easier 20k route tonight as I'm still feeling a bit tired. My sleeping patterns are a bit disturbed due to the humid heat. So I tried one of the video routes tonight and it was pretty entertaining. I'm not sure I'll use the video routes too often but certainly be good to mix things up every once in a while. My wattage was a little down on my best sessions but not terrible. And it weighed in at 35 minutes.

Aiming for a run tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lunch As Promised...

Well almost as promised. My colleague got called away so it was left to me to carry the torch - and there was not one doubt in my mind that I'd head on out into the wild blue yonder.

I was trying a new route of about 5.5k on account that the old route would probably kill me - I am not ready to take on Dundry just yet. Anyway, it was an okay run. I set off well but faded. Garmin reports I've gained another point VO2max and it is, never the less, another run in the bag.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Fought Myself Tonight...

not to train! It's not a feeling I've had for a very long time. Tonight I've been itching to get on the exercise but I do feel tired and I know I need a rest so I am resisting. It's been difficult though - which I guess is a good thing, to feel like this. By way of recompense I do have a lunch run lined up for tomorrow with a colleague. We've not run a lunch run together for something like five years so it'll be a momentous occasion if - I mean, when - it happens...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Back In The Real World...

I headed over to Brierley to test myself on the 7.6k route I've run before a few times. I was pretty sure I'd cover the ground a little better this time and so I did. My heart rate wasn't knocking quite so hard on Mr Maximum's door and my pace was increased. I'm still nowhere near where I aim to be but this isn't a quick process. There will need to be much blood, sweat and tears along the way - although to be fair I'm not planning for there to be much blood nor, in fact, many tears but there's sure to be copious amounts of sweat. As borne out by another session on the turbo once I got home.

So my run was just shy of four minutes quicker than last time with a pace increase of over twenty seconds per kilometre. I'm pretty pleased with that improvement in just under a month of training. Onto the bike and my average power was down 10 watts on yesterday's session of a similar 30-35 minutes duration and climb. My legs were heavy and it was damn hard work.

The stats are telling me I'm hitting high fatigue so I think I'm going to take a rest day tomorrow. Overall my fitness stats are improving though. My resting hear rate is back under 60bpm having been much higher this last year or two. My blood pressure is sitting pretty at 110/65 and my VO2max is on the up.

I have been hitting it pretty hard these last two weeks so a day off won't undo all the good work but I'm definitely not going to lose the momentum now. Especially when it's becoming so addictive in my virtual world of digital pixels....

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Gonna Need A Mop

Put in another good training session today. 5k running and then straight onto the turbo for a 30 minute blast. I am very nearly almost back into the habit - and I'm not talking nuns clothing. Thirteen runs in sixteen days.

I have picked up a slight injury though. I think I have gear shifters elbow from leaning too hard on the handle bars changing up and down the gears.

Training continues tomorrow...

Friday, June 08, 2018

And An Even Better One After Work...

Really enjoyed that session in my virtual bike world. So after getting myself out of bed early for a run before work and a productive days work done I finished the set with a really energising session on the bike. I decided to go for it.

Not a hugely long one, 18.4k, but a good one. I targeted improving my average power and managed to achieve it. About a 20W increase on the last session, 162W. Pleased with that. I even managed to drop Ada and Minnie on the final climb as I put the hammer down - my hammer being one of those fisher-price ones. Ada and Minnie, by the way, were a couple of the 'bot' riders and they'd been passing me, falling back, passing again throughout the ride but I kicked their ass at the finish. Really felt like I was in a race. Good, focused fun and not to mention good training.

A Better One

Well that was a bit improved on yesterday's tired run. A little faster with lower heart rate and it takes my recent activity to twelve runs in fifteen days.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Another Tired One After Work

but at least I'm keeping at it. I think I need to look at fuelling mid-afternoon as I felt energy lacking. After the treadmill I tried the bike but just had to call it a fail. I'll be recharged and back to it tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

In The End, A Rest Day

So I was intending to put in a bike session but after not really sleeping much last night I'm feeling knackered. I decided that, after nigh on two weeks of good training, in fact, probably the best training I've strung together for a year or two or three, I'm due a rest day and that's just exactly what I did - apart from a day in the office.

Tomorrow I will be back on it and it might be a run or it might be a test of the final virtual cycling app I'm going to try - after having received my invitation to the beta trial. Virtu-Go. I will see how I feel tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

A Tired One After Work

Didn't want to slow the momentum but I felt a bit weary by the time I got home this evening. Probably hadn't really fuelled enough through the day but I'm determined not to let this slip. So I got straight on the treadmill for a twenty minute run, 4k. My heart rate was up towards max to indicate a bit of fatigue. Ten in twelve. Thinking bike session tomorrow.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Eight By Four

I decided to test out an interval session on Zwift today. Wasn't quite sure how it would work out. I thought it would likely be mind numbingly boring but it was actually pretty good. There aren't a huge number of sessions available but on the plus side it forces you to man up, knuckle down and just do it.

So to the session. I thought the 400m recovery off a 400m rep would be too generous - until I was half way through, that is. By then I was beginning to think it almost wasn't enough. Using Zwift for the reps on the treadmill definitely made the reps much less boring than running against the clock or the digital count like I have been doing. Not having to keep count and just speed things up and down when told made it much easier to focus on the running.

Seeing the virtual me close down towards the rep start/stop markers on the screen really helped keep the focus. Really made it feel much more like the focus you get running on a real track where there's physical point to run to. Before I started I honestly thought I'd falter and cut it short but once I was underway all I could think about was getting to the next marker point...

So that brings my recent training to nine runs in eleven days and I'm not feeling too knackered. My VO2max has even increased another point.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Bit Of A Bulls Up!

So I thought I'd gauge how things are going by re-running the short Flaxley loop I ran about a month ago. A loop just over 5k with a gentle 150m of ascent. To begin with, things were going okay. I was still puffing like a bastard, mind, but pretty sure I was going quicker. As I came to exit the forest, into the field, on the fast downward section I came to a full stop, blocked by a bull, cows and a couple of calves - why do they always decide corralling by the footpath stile is a fun thing to do?

Anyway, I took stock of my options, headed back up, carried on further along the main track and then cut through the undergrowth, over the fence and across the field back to the route. Those shenanigans had, however, totally f*(%ed my test but even with that interruption I was still a tiny bit quicker. I shall try again on another day.

So once I got home, I gave myself no rest and got straight on the turbo for a ride in the virtual forest. A 12k loop out of Parkend, past Cannop, up to Broadwell and Coalway and back round to Parkend - except it wasn't as I was sat on my bike in the gym room. At one point a rider from Norway joined me on route but he caught and overtook like I was going in reverse. Obviously no challenge, he completed the climb section of the route and then vanished back into the ether from whence he came...

I've managed a good couple of weeks of training all told. Eight runs in tens days and two significantly more challenging 'rides' than has been afforded by my old exercise bike. My legs are aching a little and my arse is aching a lot - no smutty comments please. Why do they make saddles so damn uncomfortable?

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Virtually Knackered

So after a short tester yesterday I tried a more complete test of my new Kickr 'toy'. I signed up for the Bkool premium trial so I could ride 'a real world route'. I then searched for something in the Brecon Beacons area and found what I thought would be a nice introductory 25k starting just beyond Crickhowell, going through Cwmdu, over the top to Llangorse and finishing in Bwlch. It was rated easy so I thought it would be perfect. I configured a few virtual adversaries to make things more interesting. There are loads of other options like setting real world weather simulation including wind resistance but I left that off for this first attempt and then started

The ride itself felt very realistic in a 'sat on a static bike, in the gym' kind of way. As the route unfolded the resistance of the Kickr responded in kind and I was up and down the gears like violist - I don't even know what that means.

The virtual adversaries added an extra dimension. I started off in last place before hauling myself up to second place before finally being knocked back to third. The virtual riders seemed to adapt to my level and are there to keep you pushing - they certainly pushed me on the final climb. I couldn't hold second but I had a nice lead back to fourth but they were closing in fast. My legs had had it but seeing their 'blip' on the radar narrowing the gap forced me to push through it. There were literally pools of sweat all around me when I finished. I was dripping almost at a constant flow, like someone was pouring water over me - they weren't, I checked! (Definitely going to need to get a mat).

I am an awful long way from fit but I think this kit could really help. At the steepest section the resistance switched to 14% and I was practically stopped. It was so hard work against the resistance of the Kickr that my off the saddle full body weight could hardly move the pedals round. Had I been on a real ride I would have fallen over as I wouldn't have had enough forward momentum - and then I'd have never got restarted.

I think the Bkool software could be pretty addictive. There looks to be plenty of local routes available to ride. My time in the saddle today was and hour and ten but the time just flew by. Didn't feel anything like that long. I've a month to try out all the features before making a decision on signing up but just from the initial foray I think it's likely. Eventually I might even have the fitness to ride in the real world without the risk of falling off! And I'm going to do just that and set myself the target of getting myself fit enough to ride in the real world the routes I'll be riding in the virtual one.

Friday, June 01, 2018

And A Quick Test Of My Real Bike And A Kickr

So after this mornings early run I thought I'd give my new toy a test. And boy what a chasm there is between it and my normal exercise bike. Different universe would be a good way to sum it up. It, as you will have figured from the title, is the Kickr smart trainer and from just a short effort - and by god it was an effort.

I've been pondering a smart trainer for a while after reading about the new breed of simulation software. (It would be more accurate to say I saw it on YouTube which piqued my interest and led to some research). So after finally trying the Zwift software for running last week and liking it, I decided to bite the bullet.

I've so far looked into the simulations Zwift, Bkool and Road Grand Tours. RGT is currently in free beta and is, well, free to use at the moment. It doesn't have a huge number of routes but from my first little foray feels pretty realistic - and suffice to say hard going on the hills. I've obviously yet to try the other two but will definitely be taking the free trials after I've got to grips with the nuances of virtual bike riding...

Another One Before Work

What the heck is going on? I again managed to set the alarm early and follow through - stop it - with the threat. Another 5k on the treadmill. Another one just a little faster than the one before. That's seven runs in eight days - a possible PB but definitely a season's best by a long margin.