Having reached the end of the first block of training, it was time to push on. Having achieved a basic level of fitness, I wanted to get fitter and stronger. Normally I’d be starting to build race fitness (when do you not), but with an 18-day trip to the US planned for August (and not much time for training) it seemed like a good goal to train hard up to the departure date and then have a break before returning to begin the final push. My new goals were as follows:
- Weight down to 78kg
- No injuries or illness
- Complete La Marmotte Gran Fondo Alps sportive (175km + 5000m of climbing)
- Complete 2 x 5k Open Water swim races in close to my best times
- Run for 2 hours non-stop
In May, I had a breakthrough. For the first time since January, I actually felt like a runner. Months of plodding at MAF pace, doing running drills, and the various rehab exercises finally seemed to be having an impact. Of course, it didn’t last long and on the next run I was back to the awkward shuffling. My first 90-minute run was at a pace of 6:35/km and that was all I could manage. 2 weeks later it was down to 6:20/km and by the end of June 6:10/km. All the while I ran by feel, just wearing my Suunto to gather data. It’s so satisfying to run easily and yet know you are getting faster. Coming into this block with slight Achilles problems meant a lot more pre-hab work, but I can feel that it has paid off. My biking progressed. We did a training camp in Mallorca and clocked up 500km in the week yet never exceeding 120k in a ride. Would this be enough for the Alps?
It was. The Marmotte is one of the toughest 1 day sports in Europe (maybe the world). It takes in the Clos de Glandon, Telegrafe, Galibier (2600m), and finally the famous Alpe d’Huez.
I had a rubbish day, finishing but not feeling my best. Maybe it was the heat, altitude, or the wine we drank on the Friday night. Maybe a combination of all 3. Whatever it was I struggled. But I finished and I’d ticked another box. Swimming is my favourite sport and maybe I’d backed off a little too much thinking that all I needed was the consistency and I’d be OK. I missed quite a few “survival Saturdays” for one reason and another and these are the sessions that really push me forward. The Great North swim in June is always a good test. I’ve competed it for the least 5 years and it’s always the same course (with different conditions). Last year I was coming back from the bike crash so I was 5% off my best times. This year I hit a 1:22 for 5k and more importantly I was 4th in the 50-54 category. 4 weeks later it was the Blue Seventy BIG swim at Holme Pierpont, Nottingham the day before the Outlaw. This time I clocked a 1:19, faster than GNS but still 4 minutes down on my best. This was reality dawning: I’d been coasting in the pool.
There wasn’t really much time to do any significant pool work before leaving for the US so I just laid down the plans for my return. So, another good block with several positive steps forward for Kona. At this stage I feel like I’m ready for the swim, can probably post a 6-hour bike split without too much trouble, but I’m still not sure about the run. Goal wise I’d ticked everything off again.
The day we left for the airport my weight was 78.7kg and I was still healthy an uninjured.
Total training volume
Average weekly hours