Sunday, 27 February 2011

Weekend Eight

I finally got my bike on the road Saturday.  Every session I've done so far has been indoors, either the gym or turbo trainer at home.  The tri gods want me on the road, so they pit my computer against my turbo trainer and the two are no longer speaking.  This forced something I've known needs to be done, more time on the road.

It was a brilliantly wet and chilly morning that reminded me of the differences between reality and virtual reality riding.  One moment in particular was when I hit the concrete.  

No, don't worry, I wasn't going fast, in fact I was not moving at all.  I pulled up to a red light, tried to unclip my left foot, nothing doing, leaning left, panic sets in, one last attempt and finally too late, boom!  "Hey, mate, you alright?" a fellow biker was kind enough to ask as I dusted myself off, "Yeah, I'm ok, thanks." 'Just a shot to the ego.'  A few pedals later, a big grin came across my face, a bit of laughter and finally I went from idiot laying on the rode to guy laughing hysterically as he rides through Highbury (hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, you're not enjoying life).

Sunday was a one hour run through a sun-filled North London.  Nothing major to report, left hip a bit stiff from the fall, but all-in-all a good run.

I've now caught up on some much needed sleep (but just in case, I'm off for a nap soon!) and ready for the week ahead.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Food Warning 2

Avoid Holland & Barrett's Banana flavored whey protein.  The taste is ok upfront but a funky after taste leaves you wishing you made a different choice.

I recommend Natrual, it mixes much better with food (soups, yogurt, etc. NOT cottage cheese).

Unfortunately, I went for the value 2.5kg tub of Banana which will probably last long enough for me to get used to and possibly addicted to the funk.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

It's been a long one

As expected, work has gone mad.  Between training and work I've been getting 6hrs of sleep a night and last night was less than that.  But, good news is that I didn't miss any sessions and was feeling slightly invincible this morning knowing I had overcome a long week, 5hrs of sleep and still increased the swim.

Great way to roll into Friday.

Monday, 21 February 2011

What a Run

Saturday was a long-run with Alan, an 1:45 which is the farthest I've run in a while (maybe the last marathon in October is the last time I ran over 90mins).

Through half way I was feeling great, my steps even felt easier as we turned for home.  Twenty minutes later was not great, not even good.  As we continued stride-by-stride, I was doing my best to stay mentally focused, 'one step at a time, each step brings me one closer to finishing.'  That is how I spent the last 30mins or so, aching to see the steps that would lead us off the canal and back to where this all began.

We made it back, and I plopped down in the first chair I found.  Thoughts were running wild as I tried to re-gain my composure.  After a few minutes, I was finally tuned in again and I remembered back to some advice on DST, "it's not easy, in fact, difficult only begins to describe it."  After a few DST sessions, I finally grasped that difficulty.  An hour or so was not bad, but this 1:45 was a new experience.

A protein shake, salmon salad and quick shower later, and I was back to normal, though exhausted.

This brings us to the second DST session of the weekend, 2:30 on the bike.  Not nearly as difficult as the run on Saturday, but my speed and power began to wane around 1:45.  I was struggling to meet the target 90rpm while maintaining a relatively low heart rate.  I accepted the situation and was ready to sink to the state of the previous day's run when something happened.  Yeah, leg's picking up, heart rate solid, feeling strong!

The last 15mins were almost as good as the first!  It was a brilliant way to end week 7.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Nutrition Plan

How do you maintain energy through 30wks of training and then through the final 140miles of swim, bike, run?

I've read conflicting points of view on dietary habits.  Some say a diet of 70% carbs/ 20% protein/ 10% fat vs. others that recommend 40/ 40/ 20.  Given that a love of carbohydrates runs in my DNA, I opted to follow the first recommendation.

Below are the general guidelines I followed for the first few weeks:
- 2500 to 3000 calories a day (depending on amount of training)
- 5 to 6 meals per day with about even calorie intake from each
- carbs from a mix of foods: oats, cous-cous, bulgar wheat,  rice, quinoa, lentils
- minimum 10 veg and 3 fruits per day
- the more color a meal has, the better
- limit all sweets (2 to 3 per month, I can only avoid brownies and all things peanut butter for so long!)

After a few weeks, my body said this isn't working, but I couldn't pinpoint what needed to change.

Just then, a friend introduced me to his rowing-mate, a sports nutritionist (perfect).  I popped by his office in central London for a consultation, and sure enough, we've made changes
- closer to 40/ 40/ 20 calorie intake
- work to optimize body comp (64kgs, 12.2% body fat, weight is fine but target below 10%)
- added supplements to improve overall health, efficiency at burning fat for fuel, recovery and aid body comp goals
-  introduction of Depleted State Training (DST)

I've been following the plan for about two weeks and while not 100% implemented yet, still have to get some of the supplements, I can feel and see improvements already.

     The base of endurance training/ racing is aerobic work, lower heart rate work where the body uses carbs/ fat and oxygen for energy.  Typically the body uses carbs and oxygen, more efficient, and fat and oxygen, less efficient and lower energy output.
     DST was developed to tap into the body's fat stores which are far more abundant relative to the amount of carbs packed away (certainly not enough carbs to last a race of 10hrs or more).  Depleted state  adaptation calls for training with decreased glycogen stores in the body (i.e. low level of carbs) forcing the body produce more energy from fat.  In the end, the body is able to produce a relatively higher amount of energy from fat in a more efficient manner which spares the use of carbs, and should help body comp goals.
     This is not something I follow everyday, only on the weekends when I have longer, lower heart rate sessions.  So no carbs on Fri and Sat nights, but high fat.  Avocados and full fat cheese!
DISCLAIMER: I and the nutritionist with whom I work are not promoting DST for anyone else.  DST should first be discussed with a qualified nutritionist/ coach before pursuing.

Next consult is on Mon, Feb 21st.  Will keep you updated on the results and any new ideas that come out of it.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Week Six is History

Week six was another good one.  9hrs SBR, 1hr core and weights, 1hr yoga and a few hours of stretching.

Some work-stress led to lack of focus in a few sessions, but finished them all and feeling good about it.

Looking forward to this week, breaking in to double digits, 10hrs of SBR.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


I enjoy my job, credit risk for an investment bank.  I don't live for Friday nor dread Monday.  It's mentally stimulating and provides a descent mix of stress and excitement to keep me on my toes (yeah, I get excited over working in excel, a rare quality!).  An average day is 10hrs, before 9 to 6.30ish, including an hour for lunch and shorter breaks to chat with those around me.

Having said this, no, it's not perfect, but it allows me to have a healthy personal life (which now happens to be filled with training).

However, the job is deal flow based, so when there are a lot of deals or urgent ones, hours-per-day easily exceed 12 and sometimes include weekends.  While this amount of work and my training can co-habitate over short periods (maybe a week?) it's not sustainable.

So far this year, I've stuck to ten hour days max but business is picking up and quickly.

I've discussed Ironman training with my managers and they are understanding/ supportive.  My direct manager is actually a marathon enthusiast which further helps my cause (we actually have the same marathon PB at 3.19).

No major conflicts so far, but as the training picks up in the Build and Peak phases the juggling act will really test my time management skills.  More to come on this as both training and work-loads increase.

Friday, 11 February 2011

On my way to work this morning

Visual display of why I love running to work.

setting out on the canal

love the underpasses, just watch out for cyclists coming the other way

Towpath Cafe, one of our favorites, Regent's Canal and Kingsland Road

some of the better art work

cool with reflection in the water

early bird

quick pass through Victoria Park

Canary Wharf in the distance

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Food Warning 1

Never, let me repeat, NEVER mix cottage cheese and whey protein.

I was focused on work, just grabbed what was at my desk and what I had left in the fridge, threw it together, et voila, a most revolting afternoon snack.

Yes, I ate it all.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Just Get Going

Today was difficult.  Monday was stressful at work (which is a good lead in to the next blog on my daily office adventures) which carried over to Tuesday morning.

At the pool by 6.30, I was not 100% focused which led to more struggling with the water than swimming through it.  My mind wandered between work and technique, but I completed the set, 2500m, on to the next session.

As I changed into run gear, my thoughts drifted to the most dangerous of places, 'maybe I'll take the train to work instead of running and that will allow my mind to settle.'  As soon as I realized that some part of my brain was trying to deviate from schedule, the response was, 'get the running shoes on and get out on the road, everything will sort itself out as long as you get going.'

How right I was.  After 20mins of heel stomping my way along Regent's Canal, my mind relieved itself of thoughts of work and 40mins of smooth running later I was at the office and simply feeling to proud of the morning's accomplishment to be stressed about anything.

A quick shower, shirt and tie and I was feeling great, ready to take on the day.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Not a Normal Saturday Morning

Twelve noon, still no workout.  Brain and body aching for some exercise, feels like my day can't begin without it.

Alan and I agreed to run together at 4.30 this afternoon, so no morning exercise.  But given my schedule over the last five weeks, it's a funny feeling to wake-up and not train.  Any change from the scheduled routine causes a bit of anxiety (oh no, how do I adjust the eating schedule, how will late afternoon training today affect morning cycle tomorrow, etc.).

In the end, a slight change in plans is normally a good thing. This time: I get to catch up with a friend, don't have to train alone, a change of pace or time of day keeps the body and muscles more fresh, where we are meeting is hilly so more hill training and I seem to have gotten a lot done this morning.

A few deep breaths, think through the changes to the schedule (which are actually quite minor in the grand scheme) and looking forward to a good session this afternoon.

Friday, 4 February 2011


It's Friday evening and the party... uh, no, actually no party, just rest and relax.  After a triple session Thursday (swim, bike, yoga) and a double today (bike to run, core and leg workout) it's a chill night with Natsuko and early to bed (early to rise, of course).

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Running Breeds Positivity

Running led me to triathlon, which got me back in the pool, out on the bike and on the path to Ironman.

It has also contributed elsewhere in life: overall health, work and beyond.

Thinking back through training for my first marathon (building from the "Run" blog), as the weeks breezed by, I felt both mentally and physically stronger and began to think, 'well, if I'm doing all of this to improve my running, what else could aid the program (other than more training)?'  Aha, diet!

So, the bad eating habits started to go: Tesco's oven pizza was limited to monthly rather than weekly, the idea of a post-training baguette (not a small single, but the big family-size baguette!) had to go, packaged lunch meat now a thing of the past, free hot chocolate from the vending machine at work was no more, excessive amounts of peanut butter on toast at breakfast was reduced, etc.

This process has led to a diet of mostly fresh foods and a microwave-less life as refreshing as a plateful of straight-from-the-market veggies with a side of cous-cous.

The training also improved skills at work.  The long-term program broken down into monthly, weekly, daily goals helped me focus each day on an individual session without losing sight of the end goal.  As simple or common sense as it sounds, that project management mentality never clicked in my brain before this.  So, I applied the concept to some projects at work with smashing success!

Let's also not forget the time management skills necessary to train, work and maintain a healthy social life which I put into action on a daily basis.

While it may appear indirect to some, I clearly link the following: surrounding myself with those who have achieved what I want to achieve TO taking action to finally chase my goals TO positive reenforcement as I work toward my goals TO taking new skills from the experience and applying to other aspects of life TO starting the cycle over targeting new achievements.

It's a never-ending circle of positive energy.