Week before Middle Distance Race: Alkalising my body, visualisation and carbohydrate loading

I did a 1.5 hour easy ride today in high cadence and high gears. It felt relaxing and the hill climbs were comfortable. I have definitely adapted well over the last few months of training and the speed work and hill climbs have made a difference  to my bike riding.

I know my change in nutrition supplementation has definitely made my legs and body feel stronger on the rides and I can breathe easier. I had a medical examination by a doctor and he explained our bodies have a surplus of alkaline minerals which act as a buffer to counter the acid formed when we exercise, eat acidic foods, breathe pollution, get stressed etc. The buffer aims to keep our bodies at an optimal PH of 7.365.

I had a blood test and my blood Ph was 6.5 which is acidic. I found walking upstairs made me breathless and I was told this is my heart rate increasing due to the acidic environment.

Over the last two weeks I have been adding Mega Greens to my water and adding an ion booster (magnesium and chlorides). I have been eating more green foods and reducing the heavy carbohydrates. I now eat wholegrains for my carbohydrate intake.

I remeasured my Ph this morning and it was between 7.25 and 7.5 which is optimal according to the test strip colour chart. I am noticing the difference in how my legs are feeling during racing and after racing. I get much less tightness in  my right hamstring and, unless I am pushing hard, the left calf feels good.

This week I am starting to carbohydrate load. My coach has given me instructions to eat slightly more carbohydrates than normal. In three days time he will tell me what to do before the race.

My medical examination also showed I had an increase in Creatine Kinase (CK) which is an enzyme which breaks down muscle. This is normal in muscular training and I have was told to take an antioxidant. I started Monavie again and this has a powerful naturally occurring antioxidant called the acai berry. If you want to find out more about this product go to my website or email me at http://www.physical-edge.com.

This week I am starting visualisation. I am creating the pictures, sounds and feelings I will have for the rest of the week, travelling to the event, registration, race day and post race. I have to get my brain out of thinking reality and into dreaming and imaging how I want everything to go. I have used it before and it was very effective for competition.

This week I plan to sleep well and prepare early for travel. I drop my bike off to my friends house in three days as he is driving down to cornwall.

I practiced changing my bike tire yesterday and the gas cylinder with fitting device did not  inflate the tire. I blew two canisters trying to work it out so I went into Putney cycles and they got it working by pushing the tire valve hard into the fitting device. I bought 4 new canisters but will only take two with me on race day.

There is a lot to organise before a race so leave plenty of time incase emergencies occur. I have left it one week so far and having all my jobs written down on paper helps get it clear in my head.

Three days of training before I travel to Cornwall. Still excitingly nervous.

Back to training after jet lag, Speedo goggles, Natural mineral replacement, alkaline diet

This weeks has focussed on getting back to training after flying 26 hours back from New Zealand. The Jet lag has woken me up early in the morning. Exercise is supposed to help readjust to new time zones after traveling.

My coach gave me an easy week to give me time to readjust back to work and life in the UK. Instead of long training sessions he has put in speed sessions and periods of elevated heart rates.

I was asked to maintain an elevated heart rate of 80% when on a 2 hour bike ride. I found I  kept it higher to about 90%. At the moment I am learning how to regulate my speed whilst maintaining a steady low level heart rate. This skill is important to prevent “bonking” or blowing my legs out on the bike and making my run harder and painful.

My legs are adapting to the running. They hurt in my knees, quadriceps and calf muscles after the runs. Overall they are coping with long rides before running.

I am taking a mineral supplement from New Zealand called CMD concentrated mineral drops. It is sold as the most powerful, natural, health giving trace minerals in the world. My cramps have all most gone in the swimming and my calf muscles have reduced tension throughout. I have not drunken as much water since being in New Zealand and will look to return to 4 liters a day.

I have a new pair of speedo triathlon mirror goggles as I did not think the mask kept water out of my face. I put them on and they are far better with fitting my face and being water tight. They are comfortable and feel better on my face. They do not have the same visual field of a mask but I prefer them. You can buy them on the speedo website under triathlon.

Next week I am starting an alkaline diet from Energise for life website. I have purchased Greens the powder and ionising PH drops to alkalize my water. I have PH test strips to test    the PH level  once the products have been put in the water. I am also looking at recipes on the website and use them to boost alkalizing foods in my nutrition. I want to know if alkalizing will help improve my energy levels, sleep and performance. I think I eat too many carbohydrates but I also am aware I need them for energy when I train. I have read about a high fat diet however with 3 months to go I do not want to try anything as drastic as this diet suggests.

A big difference in the ease of my running, cycling and swimming has been the body work I had done in New Zealand. John, a practitioner who combined kinesiology with man other methods of treatment he has learnt over the years, worked twice on my body. He opened my rib cage up so I could breathe easier and he also opened up my Large lntestine and Kidney meridians. I hope to continue this with acupuncture and have my girlfriend release my rib cage. I also have my massage therapist continue releasing my abdominal muscles and back.

Next week is back to normal and the training is now focussed on my first race in Cornwall on the 22 May 2010 and also continue to increase my mileage for the full ironman. I am still motivated and feel energetic as training has been gradually increasing thanks to careful planning of my coach Fran.

Three days of training for the week

This week my coach had to fit training into three days as I have been away on a business course. He put a long run immediately after my long ride and my legs were fatigued. This was good transition training.

I was concerned the niggling pains in my legs would get worse however they made it through the run. My legs are adapting as my coach explained last week. I noticed I am so slow with running but I am happy I can make the time set for me at the moment.

The swim was a struggle in the first 8 lengths and I changed my technique to ease the pain in my elbows, which occurred in the last swim. Again I am concerned I am so slow and my arms are getting this pain so I have booked a session with my coach to assess me next weekend.  I am now swimming in the 33m pool for long swims.

I did a 3.30hr bike with a 15 minute run on Wednesday. I had to spend 1.45 hrs on the turbo trainer as it was too dark to ride at night.  The turbo trainer is the most uncomfortable training for the bike. It creates a lot of saddle pain and I am glad the clocks change this weekend so I can ride outdoors.

I rested the last 4 days and caught up on sleep. Had a friend who eats a high fat diet and minimal carbohydrates. I am tempted to try this but I know eating red meat can be detrimental to the stomach and high fats are not good.  This week I aim to eat smaller more regular meals with no carbohydrates at night.

Back to full training next week.

Week 28: feeling exhausted in the mornings

I have done 5 days of training and I have my 2.5 hour bike tomorrow. I have altered my diary and fitting in the training this week went well. It is different when I have planned my week and I do not take on any more social events during the week.

Week 28 has seen a significant increase in training with swim sessions being tagged on the back of a weight training session and interval bike training session. My calf muscles and left knee did not like the increase squats and lunges this week. The massages I have on a monday are keeping me supple in the legs but I must avoid squatting too low to save my knee-joint.

The bike intervals were horrible. I managed to keep my heart rate at 75% of my max and ride for 2 x 20 minute intervals. My legs were hurting after 5 minutes of each interval and it was a mind game to keep myself going for 20 minutes. I have another bike session tomorrow and looking forward to no intervals.

Been waking up in the morning with my body shattered. I know my body is working harder and it is responding to the training. I know I must monitor my motivation levels, how tired my body feels in the morning, how it responds to training and if my appetite is normal. If these change I know I am overtraining and will tell Fran (coach).

I want to buy winter gloves this week, get my bike box booked on my flights back to NZ and to Zürich and book the Ascot Hotel in Zürich.

The bike box is costing £54 to book for Switzerland. If it exceeds 23 kg I must pay a further £30 each way.

Braces tightened yesterday so teeth painful again. Looks like back to soft foods this week. I have noticed my body is wanting lots of Carbs but I think I am overeating the carbs as my body is storing too much fat and I do not feel great at night. I will switch to more protein and vegetables at night. Get the steamer out and make it easy on myself to cook.

Struggling with training and meeting Mental coach. www.physical-edge.com

Its been two weeks since I injured my calf and I have been working long days as my weeks have dropped to 4 day working weeks to travel for courses and physio sports  training. I have not eaten 6 times a day and I have failed to drink 4 litres of water a day. The braces were so painful I could not eat much and lost weight as my metabolism has increased.  I have been extremely tired as I have been fitting in those must do social events until the late hours of the morning. I have been getting about 6 hours sleep a night and I need 7 to 8 hours.

I have found how easy it is to get in a rut and go through the motions of the day. My training has dropped off with the injury and it is frustrating as I was doing so well. I think the most important aspect of this phase of my training is getting rest and being healthy for the base training. This starts in November and unless I change something it will have a knock on effect through to my phase 1 and 2 training.

I look at my diary and I can see if I get through the next two weeks I will have more time to eat and drink properly. Luckily I do have time on my side as I started training so early. I have been resting my injuries and stretching and this week training has improved.

I personally know I must diarise changes in my life otherwise I fill it up with other things to do very quickly. Knowing this about myself I have gone to my work diary and put a 2.5 hour block in the middle of the day to train and eat and I work until later in the day. I have done this for Monday and Wednesday and I can train in the mornings on Tuesday and Thursday. I found the gym was busy and the best time to train was between the hours of 1pm and 4pm so I have blocked these times off. I will try this schedule for the next 6 weeks and see how I manage. I have one more physio course to do mid-week on two weeks time so that will upset the schedule slightly.

I am not going out late at nights now so as to rest and this gives me more time to relax, recover and do blogging. I can see how useful it would be to have a mental coach to discuss my concerns, thoughts and actions.

I went to a speakers presentation two weeks ago and was introduced to Chris Janzen. He is a life coach with a special interest in Ironman athletes. He is planning to interview the elite athletes and find out what they do differently to the rest of us and then share this knowledge.  He said he would like to work with me in any way he can. This feels like a great way to vent my frustrations and concerns and also to have a psychological plan for getting through the training and then the race. My coach Fran thinks I do not need his help but I think having someone else who is not involved  in my training to talk to can help me get a mental perspective. Fran is the number one motivator and supporter and I know Chris will not step over the boundaries.

I call Chris my Mental Coach and I will keep him updated on my progress. He will work with me more into the new year when he returns from work overseas.

I find I have more time as I have said no to many social events however I find myself contacting people when I am resting and arranging to meet up with more people. I have arranged to meet them during the day and not at night so lets see how I manage this.

Next week my base training starts. Fran has got a new program for me and I will be strength training for the next 4-6 weeks. Last night I did squats in the smith machine with plates under my heals to ease the pressure on my back and calves. This morning I can feel some tightness on the sole of my left foot but otherwise all is good. Bring on the change in training.

Meeting with nutritionist for health phase of training

Fran and I met with nutritionist,  Justin Roberts for dinner who helps endurance athletes with their nutrition.

He kindly agreed to meet with us and talk about ironman training and the key component of a good nutritional regime. The main elements of the discussion have been caught on video and will be posted on the Physical Edge youtube site.

I realised after talking to Justin that it is important to come up with my own strategy. I can get the most important principles from him but then it is a trial and error method of testing to see what suits my body over longer training sessions. The more I practice and test different nutritional options when exercising for 6-8 hours the better I can find out what my body can tolerate on the day of the ironman.

If I avoid testing my bodies ability to digest different food sources I can end up in trouble on race day. On race day I am exercising alot longer than I would in training and it is a slight unknown as to how my body will actually fear over that time.  Ultimately, no matter how much food I eat on the day I will end up depleted of carbohydrates and will be dehydrated.  This is because it is difficult to eat and drink the amount of food and fluid as I race. Justin recalled the two ironman events he has done and in both he has ended on a drip because he was  dehydrated despite drinking regularly.

Justin divided my nutrition into stages. The first is the health stage and it is the time when I am to get into good habits to maximise my health. I am to eat small meals 6-10 times a day and avoid eating carbohydrates after 3pm. I am to eat dense strong coloured vegetables and get in whole foods. When I asked him about protein he recalled how difficult it was for him to eat the correct the amount of protein his body needed and sometimes protein shakes can help. I asked if I needed to measure and be exact with the amount of carbohydrates and protein I was eating. He said I needed to listen to my body and over time work it out.

Justin mentioned supplementation was additional. He recommended I get myself into a good diet with whole foods at the moment. He wanted me to get my sleep patterns correct and make sure I drink up to 3 litres of water day. Apparently my body must get used to consuming more water. I will pee alot at the start but then I will get used to storing water in my body. If I drink more I will have better concentration and energy and my body will perform better.

The health phase is to take the next 2-3 months and then we start looking at nutrition for training. I am to go and try three brands of carbohydrate and electrolyte products before the base training phase. He suggested I drink every 20 minutes at work and see how my stomach handles which the product the best over a whole day.

A strategy he uses on race day is to have a bottle of concentrated carbohydrate and then two bottles of water. He knows how much he wants to drink from the concentrated carbohydrate bottle each 20 minutes and then how much water he must take in to maintain a concentration of 4%. He recommended a lower concentration rather than higher concentration of carbohydrate as the body can have problems digesting higher concentrations in Ironman events. On hot days he advised taking on more water.

I am to take a diary of what I eat in one day over the next month and then we will be meeting again to discuss how I am doing. If I summarise what I am going to do in my health phase it would be; buy a new mattress to help me sleep better, take Monavie for antioxidants (I will get Justins advise on this), take Udos oild for Omega 3,6,9, take multivitamins, eat every 2 hours and avoid carbs after 3pm, get a better sleep pattern, eat whole foods, cut out alcohol and chocolate and unhealthy foods, drink 3 litres of water a day with lemon in it, try nutritional supplements.

Justin did say stick to healthy eating 90% of the time. 10% of the time I can eat what I like. He is realistic about eating and thinks the body can cope with some unhealthy food with no effect on performance. Putting this into practice now takes discipline. I am interested to see how my body likes the change. My objective is to find what I like and what supports me in my training. This will take time out of my day to prepare food but it is the commitment I make in taking on this ironman.

Thanks to Justin for his advice as without good nutrition the Ironman would be much harder. Justin said I would get around the Ironman course it is how well do I want to do it?

Reality check on buying equipment. www.physical-edge.com

Went with Fran to SwimBikeRun (SBR) in Fulham to discuss bikes and equipment. I have been reading the triathlon magazines and looking at bikes and after speaking to a couple of ironman athletes I thought I needed a new bike. I have a £1500  Felt road bike at present. I spoke to Dave the mechanic at SBR and he thought the latest LOOK time trial bike was a beautiful bike and then Cannondale. He said the Cervelo bike range were very technical and did not rate them the top of his list. He said Felt were value for money and mechanically a great bike. He then pointed to the 2009 Felt DA as  one to consider. At £5500 it would be a huge investment.

Fran came in and he brought me back to earth. He siad it is not the bike that is going to make the biggest difference for me. It is my training and getting my nutrition spot on. He wanted me to  avoid mistakes he made when training for his first ironman and avoid overtraining. He wanted me to start strength training in the gym and working on technique in the swim. we planned to bring my bike to SBR next friday and see how I fit on it.

When I first bought my bike I was fitted badly as it had me reaching too far in front  and created pain in my neck and in the web space between my thumb and index finger from pressure on the handle bars. I went to cyclefit and they placed a tube extension onto the handle bars to shorten the distance between  seat and the handle bars. It made the bike look ugly but over time I have started to adjust to the new position and it has been getting more comfortable. Next friday we will check if I will be able to ride 180km on it. If not then we will consider a new bike.

I called Cyclefit and they bespoke make bikes. The cost of the frame set alone will be about £3800 and then I must buy components, handle bars etc. Something to think about if I must buy a new bike.

We looked at wetsuits and Fran suggested I get a thicker wetsuit as my legs tend to drop in the water and  I will be swimming in a lake. My body will not be as bouyant as in ocean swimming. The cost of a wetsuit could be between £150 -£200. He recommended I do not get a one piece tri suit because there are problems going to the toilet. Two piece suits will cost at least £120. Other items we looked at were a belt to put my race number on, puncture repair kits and additional storage bags that can be attached to the bike, Aerobars, waterbottles, and goggles.

He said clincher tyres are better than tubular types because the tubular types can be  harder to put on the wheel. In terms of nutrition, I must try several brands until I find one that works. Once I find one stick with it. I will try electrolyte and carbohydrate mixes, recovery drinks and gels. I already know my body likes power bars to digest as solid food.

We went for a coffee after visiting SBR and Fran stressed the value of having a coach. His first advice to people wanting to start triathlons is to stop looking at bikes and look for a coach first. I am finding his guidance and advice saves me time and I am learning from his experience. I know in other areas of my life having mentors to help my journey is a must.

Fran and I decided I must write down everything I already have at home  and then we will look at the list and buy what extras I need. I will start strength training with supersets in the gym next week. I must strengthen all muscle groups but inparticular the legs, core, chest and Lats.

The hard training will start in January. I have time on my side so I can take a leisurely pace in building up to the event. I am so fortunate to have great friends and some have said they will come to the event to support me. I called home and they are excited for me as well. My father may even come over for the event. I want a big support team to pull me through the event.

I am interested in talking to Dr Justin Roberts next week. I want to get a program from him for my training and nutrition but I am not sure if he does this. I will wait to see what he can do and Fran wants to come with me.

I feel things a slowly building momentum at nice pace. I will be fitting training around work and at the moment I have time to rest. One aspect of my life I must get more of is sleep. When I am tired I can feel my body not performing at its best. I want to be the best I can so the late nights will become fewer the closer I get to full training.

Getting myself prepared. www.physical-edge.com

I went away on holiday and bought the Triatlete’s World magazine to read. There are some great tips in the magazine to use during the event and also for buying equipment and looking after my equipment.

An article by Sean Kelly, GB swm coach and Speedo ambassador described some swim drills to save energy before the bike and run.  Some drills I take away are to practice taking as few strokes as I can and kick as little as possible each length, relax and imagine the forces hitting me from the front. Stretch out with my arms and stay streamlined to make the hole in front of me small. Practice sighting a target in front every 8-10 strokes. Use a buoy between the legs to simulate  the buoancy of a wet suit. To keep fresh legs aim for a two beat kick for every two arm cycles.

Another article highlighted the importance of nutrition. If transition is the fourth discipline then nutrition is the fifth. It seems getting the balance right for the event is key to a good race and this has to be tested for each individual. Finding out what works best for me is important before race day.

Tips for nutrition I will take away are to hydrate days up to the event and only sip water 30 minutes before the race to stop dry mouth. After the swim wait for 10 minutes before eating because the body may struggle with the transition and diverting blood flow to the stomach might cause problems.

Richard McChesney, an ironman veteran, sets his watch every 15 minutes during the race. Every 15 minutes he takes a sip of Gel and water. He eats sandwiches as his stomach does not tolerate commercial food.

On race day only eat and drink what I know. Avoid high concentration drinks so mix Gel and water in bottles. I will definitely use Power bars as I like these as a solid energy source. I will practice drinking on the run.

I am tossing up whether to purchase a new bike. Having lighter wheels and  better aerodynamic bike appears to help. Some ironman athletes I know have a bike for training and another bike for racing. The Zipp wheels get great reviews. Learnt the difference between Clincher and Tubular tyres. Think the Tubulars are the way to go and faster to change. Also learnt to reverse the front and back tyres every few months as they wear differently and also how to adjust the pressure in the types for  less resistance or a smoother ride.

Equipment I must buy are Cyclone Chain Scrubber (£27.99 www.madison.co.uk), Finish Liquid Degreaser (£12.49 www.madison.co.uk), Finish Line Speed Degreaser (£10.99, www.madison.co.uk) to keep my chain in good condition.

There is a lot of information available to read and it can get daunting reading so much and knowing what is best. I am looking forward to seeing Dr Justin Roberts at the end of the month to give me nutritional and physiological training advice. I think I need to get a decent training program first and then as I get more experienced I will know what equipment I want.

First meeting with Ironman coach Fran. www.physical-edge.com

Met with Fran yesterday for the first coaching meeting. He has outlined the equipment I must pruchase for the training. I have a Felt racing bike but if it is uncomfortable on the long runs I am to change it. 180km of pain on the bike does not sound enjoyable. He has a shop in Barnes for me to visit. We will be going next weekend. He wants me to look for winter training gear for the bike, Racing triathlon clothes, Swimming floats and paddles, goggles and wet suit. I have shoes and orthotics coming from New Zealand.

He emphasised the importance in this phase of training is strength and to prepare my body so as to avoid injuries. I get biateral ITB syndrome on both knees when I run on the road therefore  I am working on hip mobility, strengthening my posterior gluteus medius, Massaging the ITB’s over a foam roller and doing  pilates to improve my motor control training and proprioception when I run.

Today I did two sessions in the gym. A running session with stretching of ITB’s and thoracic spine over the foam roller and Figure 4 stretches for the hip joints. My gluteal muscles were more active post session and I felt freer through the hips. I also did a weight session for my chest.

Fran discussed the importance of nutriton and I have arranged to see Dr Justin Roberts a nutritional expert for endurance events and an ironman himself. I am waiting for feedback on a physiologist to see.

I have timetabled my week for training and work. I have 2 hours each day from Monday to Friday and 4 hours on Saturday to train. The goal at the moment is to get back into all disciplines slowly. I went for a run on the treadmill for 15 minutes today and will start swimming this week as well.

The plan is to meet Fran at LA fitness Gym South Kensington next Tuesday and he will look at my swimming technique and get me on a strength- sport specific training program. I will be focussing on technique first in the training program.

I know I will need plenty of rest to recover. I am planning a holiday to South America in December for 2 weeks. This will be added into the program.

I do not usually  research equipment I buy. This time I will start researching so when I go to the shop I know which is the quality equipment I want.