3 weeks to go, preview of Etape course

I had an incredibly enjoyable 8 hour bike ride last weekend and felt strong. The training in Portugal set me up well for hill climbing. This week I went to cyclefit and Rapha preview of the Etape course held at the Charlotte Street Hotel in London. They have been out and ridden the course and have come back with tips for all entrants in the race. The evening was filled with mainly first time Etape riders and it was a valuable seminar to attend.

In the evening we learnt that the course is suited to the strongly set rider. It is a long course and is constantly undulating with the section between 90 and 154 kms being relentless up and down climbing. There is another hill at 190km which is 2km long and the first 90km is gradually up hill climbing. We were advised to “bank” sleep, nutrition and hydration the week before and plan for complete rest. On the day it is important to eat and hydrate well as the temperatures could be hot and it is going to be a 9-10 hour riding day. There is valuable information on the cyclefit website for preparation for a race like this. It is sensible advice on riding and nutrition and preparation.

This week I have had a physio course for 4 days and my training plan had to be revised. There were not enough day light hours to do a long ride. I did 2 rides, a 3.5 hour fast ride to boxhill and 10 hill repeats in Richmond Park. I can see this is not ideal but next week I am increasing my training again. I am hitting my biggest weeks of training and now is important to get it right.

My bike is needing maintenance. I am changing my rear cassette to have a 28 or 29 ring and the front small ring to a 34. I noticed the riding in Portugal was much easier than my riding in London so I have decided to  copy the same gearing as the bikes I had ridden in Portugal. I will also get a new chain and new brake pads.

At the moment my bike is making noises when I get out of the saddle and ride. I think the chain is getting longer and now it must be replaced. My plan is to have every thing planned from training kit to bike well before the event to test my gear and have less to think about closer to the race.

I am looking forward to training this week and maintaining my fitness. The cyclefit team said endurance fitness can be maintained for 7 days but strength and power can be lost in 3 days. I know my hill climbing strength is reducing at the moment but there are no long hills for me to climb and simulate the hills of France.  It seems my coach has me on fast training sessions to keep my power going.

Lets see how I feel at the end of this weeks training. The weather is glorious at the moment. I am very grateful.

Back to training, hill climbing from London and jet lag

I got back from New Zealand and Australia after a 3 weeks holiday and knew it was time for me to get back into training. I knew I was jet lagged and did not want to tire myself after a very relaxing holiday.

Last weekend I started with a 5 hour ride to Box Hill. It was a beautiful day and perfect weather for cycling with no wind. I went with another cyclist doing the Etape at the same time. He trains in France and has a hill 7km high near  his house. His hill climbing is stronger than mine and I let  him lead the way up the hills.  We rode two hills and I followed his back tire. I focussed on the tire and avoided looking at the hill itself. This helped me focus on the feelings in my legs without the disempowering sight of the hill I still had to climb.

I noticed with jet lag I felt slightly “out of my body” and tired. My legs felt the strain up the hills and towards the end of the ride I knew I had ridden 5 hours. The last hill in Richmond Park was a killer. I tried following the back tire of my cycle companion up the hill again but fell behind. My legs blew out, I felt they cramped when I exerted force through them and I lacked power. I dropped right behind and it was good reminder I some serious hill training to do.

This first ride was a good test of where I was with my riding after 3 weeks of no training. I wanted to rest well and prepare for the ride this weekend.

This weekend we did exactly the same ride. I noticed I was stronger as soon as I got not he bike. I could feel I more power and was less tired. The “out of body feeling” was significantly less. I set my watch to beep every 20minutes and made sure I ate or drank something at these times. The idea is to maintain a steady energy supply to my muscles and brain.

The tests I used to tell if I was riding stronger this weekend was the feeling I had in my legs and Cardiovascular system when hill climbing. I let my colleague lead the way up the hills as he had better hill climbing strength and then I stayed on his back tire again.

I was considerably stronger up the hills and could stay with him comfortably. When I say comfortably I was at 85-95% of my maximum heart rate but still felt strong at the top with more in reserve if I needed it. My colleague is 10 years than I am but has the advantage of training on the hills in France and he has done  a cycle camp in Portugal. I noticed I had better flat road speed and strength through my Ironman training and he had the hill climbing speed and strength. Today was the first time I noticed I was catching him on the hills and with more training I hope to pull him up the hills.

There are not many hills to climb around London so I am riding to Surrey Hills. I have one course I have memorised but next weekend another cyclist will take us an alternative course to find new hills. In my particular course I have two main hills. I have decided to ride up and down these hills twice in one ride.

There are three main hills in the Etape Du Tour. They are 7.7 -8km long. No hill in England lasts that long so I can only compensate with repeat hill climbs. My colleague tells me box hill is much closer to type of hill we will encounter in France. It is a winding hill with some flatter sections to rest and then repetitive climbs. Maybe climbing box hill 5-10 times will be good. Sounds crazy but I have to do what I have to do.

I will get intouch with my coach again to start a training plan. I feel strong and rested and ready to train hard again. I am wondering if he will continue with gym sessions? Time to eat.

Jenson Buttons meets Lance Armstrong for training and does Olympic distance Triathlon in Hawaii


Jenson Button heads to Hawaii this weekend for his latest triathlon attempt armed with cycling tips from arguably the world’s greatest, Lance Armstrong.

The punishing event that includes swimming, cycling and running is not one for the faint-hearted, least of all in between grands prix.

But that is the exacting schedule Button has chosen to undertake as he competes in the 14th annual Waikoloa Lavaman Olympic distance event on Sunday that includes a 1.5 kilometre swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run.

Button could comfortably have remained in Melbourne after finishing sixth in Sunday’s season-opening race in Australia with McLaren.

Instead, the 31-year-old will jet across the Pacific to take part in the triathlon he feels is perfect preparation for the next race in Malaysia in 11 days’ time, with the levels of humidity similar in Hawaii to what he can expect there.

But it was in Hawaii in January that Button met seven-times Tour de France winner Armstrong by chance prior to the American sending the Briton a message on Twitter asking if he would like to meet.

“We did meet up and went for a couple of rides,” Button told Press Association Sport.

“It was an amazing experience. Anyone who is at the top of their game in a sport, to spend time with them, it’s inspirational.

“It was a great opportunity to learn from someone who has achieved so much.

“It was not only good for my training, but to talk to someone at the top of their game in a sport, to see how much training they put in and their mental attitude.

“A lot of top sports, especially cycling, mentally it’s so tough and sometimes you have to take your brain out, put it to one side and fully focus.

“It was good and hopefully that will come out.”

Button has revealed his cycling exploits especially will continue later this year, although he has refused to divulge details.

“I’ve the opportunity to ride with some of the greats, which is exciting as well,” added Button.

“We do a lot of work with specialist riders, and there are lots of good ones I will get the opportunity to ride with.”

Many would view Button’s triathlon workout this weekend as insane, but he does pride himself on being arguably the fittest driver in F1.

“Physically I am very fit, which in turn helps you mentally knowing you will be 100% on every lap,” said Button.

“It’s something I do particularly work on, but then as a driver you work in every area – nutrition, fitness, mental attitude, engineering, and obviously driving the car.

“But I’m really excited about this weekend. It’s going to be good, and great to do it in the humidity as well.

“It will really put me in the right frame of mind because getting used to the humidity is so important for Malaysia.”

Week 23: learning as I go and fitting in training

This last week has been a test of my endurance. I have just finished a physio course this weekend and managed to get all my training in for the week. When I have a course on all weekend I can not take my time with my training or rest afterwards. I know I have another 3 weekends of courses before the ironman and it does not do my head any good thinking about what those weeks will involve with training and work.

In the last two weeks I have had little things happen as I have been traning and each time I am  learning  how to fix the problems. On a three-hour ride the crank and pedal came loose. I stopped at a bike shop in Putney and it was fixed with an 8mm Alan key so I bought one in case this happens in the future. The  light on my bike fell onto the road as I  rode over bumps and now I  know to check it is on properly before I ride. The levers that secure my wheel to my bike came loose and so I do a bike check before I ride to Richmond Park.

There are many things that happen when training and it continues to change every week. Being adaptable and flexible is a key to making life manageable with training. I tell myself I must stop taking on social events and from now until July my weeks and weekends have been planned. I like my weekends being free of commitments to rest from training, work and recovering for my long bike rides.

I spoke to Fran (Coach) and he has is now worried about my running as I have not run outside since my injuries. This week I did run to Battersea Park and I discovered the track around the Park had flat surfaces. When the surfaces are sloped it irritates my ITB friction syndrome. Good to know I can run on good surface and it is close to work.

My body is adapting to the training. I can ride up the hills in Richmond Park seated on the bike and breathing easily. It was great to run outside and this will be my focus to improve. It freaks me out a little knowing how many weeks I have remaining before the event. Time to put in harder training.

Week 26: Week after snow boarding

The training for the week after snow boarding was the following

Tues 26 Jan: 45mins easy run. You need to start thinking of doing at least one run outdoors.
Wed 27 Jan: turbo session as follows  10mins wu  ms 2x20mins at 70-75%MHR (5mins recovery)  10mins easy cd
strenght session
Thurs 28 Jan: 1h swim as follows: 40mins Emile drills/15mins swim non stop/5mins cd
Fri 29 Jan: 35mins moderate run  1h easy bike ride (outdoor if possible otherwise in the turbo easy at 80-90RPM)
Sat 30 Jan: off
Sun 31: 2h 30min outdoors bike ride

I noticed ITB pain on the left knee as I did outdoor running. I was also tight after the snow boarding so I am stretching more now. It is so cold outside the fascia and muscles are tight at the start of the runs.  I had to buy ear warmers and longer socks to cover my Achilles tendons for the runs (purchased from Wiggle on the internet).

I tried using chaffing cream on the bike ride and I was more comfortable. I had less saddle pain and even after 2.5 hours. I out the cream on the shorts but next time I will apply to the affected areas. I am glad my coach recommended using the cream. I noticed the friction is worse when on the turbo trainer as the bike is held stationary and friction increases.

I swam for 15 minutes non stop this week, it was a big achievement. I want to find a 50 metre pool as the 20 metre pool does not allow me to get into a rhythm and my breathing is still unsettled. I spoke to my swim coach Emile and he said to slow down and get my breathing right. In the past I have swam with a slower arm stroke so I am adjusting to the new speed.

The plan from here is to increase my volume of training. It is a sobering thought having 26 weeks remaining in training.