Wednesday 23 June 2010

11 days to Ironman Germany
39 days to Ironman UK


Struggled a little with recovery following the VO2 Triathlon, and following a 3hr sleep last Sat night I’ve been a little run-down. Thankfully the immune system has just about held out and I managed 2 x 3hrs this Mon and Tues, just under 2 weeks from the Ironman. On Monday I really wanted to get a 4km pull-buoy swim in the pool under my belt (see below) and do a couple of 2hr rides on the Ceepo bike in Richmond Park.  Unfortunately they are currently resurfacing the park so I may not get a lot of Ceepo-time in before travelling to Germany. Speaking of which, I will be heading to the ferry port on Thurs 1st July. The race is On Sunday 4th, and I will return on Tuesday 6th. So Mon/Tue next week will be devoted to packing and coaching.

A few issues have been resolved in the last week. The choice of Ironman trainer – I will be taking both the Newton Gravity and the Asics DS Trainer. I have managed to loosen up the DS Trainer a little and its now my number one choice being the one with the greatest cushioning. I received a pair of compression calf guards (compressport) the other day, so I will have the Newtons in my RUN BAG on race day should I feel confident enough to take the risk with the Newtons. The thing is, the Newtons are light, and with the midfoot lugg will encourage a decent form and pace….to a point. Once I start to tire and sit back a little more, I will have limited heel cushioning. That’s where I need something more cushioned like the DS trainer. Anyway I will leave that decision to the day.

The bar pad/narrow set-up – I’m heading back to B2P (Beginner2Pro) in Windsor tomorrow to swap back to my original wide pads. Decided I’d rather go for a little more comfort over aerodynamics (I could run in the Newtons to balance this decision out!). I’ve also found that the current pads are difficult to grip on seated/uphill cycling, whereas I could get a hold of the originals.

I’m also picking up a Tufo tubular tire (more in a CYCLING blog) from a friend that is both lightweight and wraps up very small. I intend to use it as a spare in the Ironman should I puncture, tucking it under the seat (to hold it in place) and the rest rolled up behind the top of the seat-post (pic later). I’ll have a CO2 cannister inside the middle of the tire, and a cannister-head and small allen key attached to it. With the Speedfil as my only bottle on the bike downtube, I only need to attach a small bentox in front of the seat post, and the rest of the frame is prety clear.

As I said, I’m feeling a bit ‘used’ this week. Yve and I are having a day in Wimdledon on Friday (Rest Day) and will be busy working tomorrow, so may train today and give the body a 2-day break before the weekend. I’ll then revert back to my lead-in programme to Roth 2009 which seemed to work very well (despite back pains at the time). I have found that I race Ironmans well on a very light lead-in programme with a few rest days and very short/light sessions.


The swim is the worst of my three disciplines/sports. I spend every triathlon moving through the field on the bike and run (the run-off being my forte), but I quite like this as overtaking competitors, particularly in Ironman, provides a boost in confidence. The only negative starting a little further back on the bike is you are generally around triathletes who bike and run at a slower pace. You very much have to focus on your own effort. I wear a Garmin GPS watch from transition 1 (between swim-bike) which tells me my speed on the bike and run, which is enough (with a little bike research) to pace through.

I only do around 5-10km pool swimming a week. I cannot (will not) tumble-turn and I have an awful (non-existent) leg-kick. In previous years I’ve tried to work on it, but for the last two seasons I have decided to work around it rather than fight it. To do this, I put a Pull-Buoy between between my legs, which lifts the hips and legs in the water and reduces drag. The effect of this of course is to speed up my swimming pace at less effort. The drawback is I’ll never be any good at pool swimming (you can’t do a pool-based triathlon race with a Pull-Buoy), BUT I predominantly race open-water events and all Ironman-distance events are open-water based (mainly lake or sea) so it’s not such an issue. I’ve found in the last two years my open-water times have dropped nicely and perhaps even saved my legs more from a very limited leg-kick.

The two pre-IM races this year at Merchant Taylors and VO2 Cerney Lake were both 22mins and 21mins-dead (coming out of the water) which I was pleased with. It suggests, based on the fact I have good muscular endurance, that I can handle a 55min Ironman swim.

At Roth last year I exited on 58mins, but I lost a few mins at the start having hyperventilated/panic-attack. This is a big risk for me. It’s important to get into a good position at the start of the swim and find some feet to draft at a 55min pace. The larger the field/wave, the more congested it can get. At Roth I went hard for 1min but still found I wasn’t clear of the main pack, and then couldn’t get into my rhythm as I was fighting other swimmers. At the two olympic races this year I was able to go hard, then settle in behind someone and adopt a steady glide while I got my breath back.

I have to take the risk again at Ironman Germany, but I may try to go wide. It means a few more metres swimming, particularly around any early buoy turns, but It’ll mean I can get into my rhythm and hopefully exit on the magic 55min mark. If I can start the bike leg in <60mins then that’s job done for me.

My wetsuit is decent enough for my swim but its mid-range and has a slightly greater thickness than the standard. It’s therefore requires a little more effort to remove and as you could see from my transition1 times in the two triathlons this year I lost a massive (~)30secs having to sit on the floor and remove from the legs. That’s a huge amount of time in an olympic race (almost cost me a potential 2nd place at VO2) and could even mean losing an age-group position in Ironman. I usually apply sports-spec lube to my neck and shoulders and baby oil liberally. But I apply both all-over for the Ironman and ensure I take the suit off as soon as I exit the water.

My swimming training has been few and far between in recent weeks which was a worry. Last year I did a 5km swim inc a 4km effort with Pull-Buoy (also as a lead-in to the double-ironman). So on Monday this week I did a 4.3km swim inc 3.8km with Pull-buoy and managed 1hr2mins @ 80-90% effort. That’s a few mins quicker than last year so I’m now more confident of the 55min wetsuit swim in Germany. Lets see…..

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3 thoughts on “SWIMMING

  1. hear you about the panic at start of OW swim, thats why I start at the back, but no choice for you. Often on the day it just goes to plan, and Im sure there are things you tell as a coach that you could think about for you???
    hope it goes to plan n you enjoy as well

    • I’d already trimmed them a little and I’ll probably need to sell the suit at the end of the season, so will need to keep on as much as possible. The last two races I didn’t get the chance to fill the wetsuit on exit and take off straight away. Hopefully it’ll come good this time around.

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