Training Plans – one week in the life….

So what does my Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam training schedule look like, some eight weeks before my leg of the event starts? Well, partly so that I can think about what I need to change and focus on moving forwards, here is what the past seven days has involved.

Reading this, you need to be aware that my training is based around my sport of triathlon, and that I thrive on variety:

  • Monday – two hours of cross-training (6.15pm-8.20pm) – a one hour BodyPump class followed by a one hour Body Attack class.
  • Tuesday – rest day
  • Wednesday – staying away so an early morning training hour at the hotel – in the gym at 6.45am for 30 mins, followed by a 30 mins swim set.
  • Thursday – I usually do a circuits class, but domestic arrangements meant that at 6pm I did another one hour Body Attack class, with a 10 mins cycle to/from the leisure centre
  • Friday – late home from a London meeting, so just a 30 mins run at 7pm, followed by a celebratory dinner (just won a new contract at work!)
  • Saturday – slightly fuzzy head soon cleared by 45 mile hill focused cycle training session with my Thames Valley Triathletes cycle group. Left home at 8.30am, returned at 12 noon, which equated to just over 4 hours of training (excluding the stops at meet points etc.)
  • Sunday – Marlow Duathlon – 9am start for 2 hours 10 mins of competitive (high intensity) exercise involving a 7km run; 25km cycle and then a second lap of the 7km run course.

Overall, the past seven days has included 12 hours of training. Happy with both the volume and intensity of that training activity, although moving forwards, the balance needs to change as only 40% of the past week’s training has been cycling based.

The good news is that the start of British Summer Time next weekend means that we will have light until 7.30pm which opens up the opportunity for midweek evening cycle training. I also need to keep the intensity up, so the local Thursday evening Maidenhead CC Time Trial will start to feature in the coming weeks. Also April has a great choice of sportives, for a longer organised ride on Sundays.

More on my cycle sportive plans to follow in a subsequent post, for those interested in joining me for a ride.

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We all have untapped athletic potential – my story

My interest in running, cycling, swimming and participating in sport in general, was sparked back in 2000 by a New Year’s resolution to mark the new millennium. It all started with me signing up for my first Half Marathon. But as a child, no-one would have imagined how my more recent sporting glories would have come about.

At school, I was hampered by poor eyesight that meant that any contact based team games were a nightmare, as I couldn’t wear my glasses. A childhood operation to correct an eye squint meant that I could never use contact lenses. So with limited hand-eye co-ordination, I am afraid that I was always the last one to be picked for team games. As a teenager I did get into hiking through the Venture Scouts and participating in things the Duke of Edinburgh’s challenge, so there was some untapped potential to build upon in later life.

Fast forward to January 2000, and my sporting career was launched. Within three short months, I had progressed from 10k races up to 13 miles, completing the Reading Half Marathon in a very respectable 1h 45 minutes.

Over a celebratory dinner that night with the family, my wife Louise asked me what was next? Well the ideas soon flowed. Within two years I had completed my first full marathon at a local event in Abingdon – proving to myself that I was fitter at 40 than I was aged 30 – and repeated that distance again in my first European race in Paris in the spring of 2004.

By this stage I was using the local gym for cross-training – and was really getting into group based exercise with weekly Body Pump and Circuits classes. Ten years on and these classes still form part of my weekly training routine – the instructors and camaraderie with my gym buddies help keep me motivated!

However, I needed a new challenge – and the sport that I found was triathlon. The first thing I liked was the variety in training; and secondly was learning new skills. When I started triathlon my swimming was a serene breaststroke; so I basically had to relearn how to swim front crawl and overcome a childhood fear of putting my head in the water. So as you can imagine, open water swimming (in a cold and murky lake) was quite an obstacle for me!

Given that I train much more effectively when part of a group, I soon joined Thames Valley Triathletes (TVT) which has given my sporting career a whole new lease of life. I am a Level 1 coach, and helped setup the junior section a few years back when my kids were interested in participating in the sport. I now lead a weekly cycle group, which is great discipline to get me out whatever the weather and has been very motivational to help like-minded people realise their own sporting dreams.

So with all this support network in place, it is really no surprise that I have progressed from sprint distance to Olympic distance, and then in 2010 (a few months after the Dallaglio cycle slam) to complete my first Half Ironman. For those not familiar with the triathlon disciplines, that is a 1.2 mile swim; followed by a 56 mile cycle ride; and then a Half Marathon. So in ten years, I had progressed gradually and steadily to realise my full sporting potential.

The point of my story, and one of the reasons for starting my blog, is that I believe that we all have it in us to be active – and therefore keep fit and healthy – it is just a question of finding the right opportunity. And don’t ever let age put you off. Last year, at 49, TVT awarded me the most improved male triathlete in the club for my performance at the Antwerp Half Ironman event.

Most improved TVT male triathlete - December 2011

So do I think I can rise to the challenge of cycling nearly 600km over 4 days of the Dallaglio Flintoff cycle challenge – absolutely!