For most of the Challenge this year I have been focusing on endurance and distance; after all the whole reason it started was for me to be able to build up enough fitness to be able to finish the Avenger earlier this year. But since completing my final race of the season earlier this month I have been adding some variation to my training, with things like Spin and Pump classes.
Now I have to say something here: I never minded doing gym classes, but always saw them as something for people who could not manage to train on their own, whether due to lack of motivation or needing to have other around them to keep going. But after the last few weeks I am willing to put my hands up faster than an Apprentice contestant trying to shift the blame for a failed task onto a teammate, and admit I may have been wrong.
Whilst the classes I have been doing have been limited to 45 minutes or an hour max, the amount they manage to cram into such a short time really makes it worth it. Rather than long steady paced rides, I have been doing interval and hill based training that I can honestly say I would never have been bothered about doing to the same extent on my own. Yes, you won’t get the same endurance benefits as say a 3 or 4 hour bike ride, but the improvements in my sprinting and speed have been great, and what is great is how quickly I have been able to see the results.
As well as the normal tracking I have been doing on each individual session and distances completed year to date, I also built in a PB tracker to my Chile Challenge spreadsheet (just to clarify, some people might call this a PR or Personal Record, but over here we tend to use Personal Best). This focused on the three main triathlon events and my most regular training sessions: a 1 km swim, a 30 km bike ride, and a 10 km run. Of course I am not suggesting I will be entering Record Breakers or anything, but any semi-serious triathlete should to have an idea what sort of times they are pulling off during the season.
Now looking at the first of these, I don’t really track my swims in that much detail. This is mainly because I rarely go for an all out swim session, but tend to do it after another training session to warm down or stretch out. I also can’t compare it to my races which are either 1500m or 750m, and finally I never remember to wear my watch or check the clock beforehand. If I had to hazard a guess I would say my 1 km time would be in the region of 18 or 19 minutes (based on my 1500m time), but perhaps at some point I will get around to measuring it.
The two I have bothered recording (mainly as they are much easier to track using my various gadgets) are my bike and run times, both of which started the year just on the hour mark. Fortunately these have come down a bit over the year – by a bit but good for me – with my run times hitting 59 minutes in February, and 58 in May. I am currently on 57.52, but the aim is to try and get it down towards 55 mins by the next race season.
Today however was bike day. Now on the face of it, this would not have been a great time to try breaking records, having knackered myself with yesterday’s Combat / Pump combo – particularly my glutes from all those squats, which are a major part of bike riding. So this was supposed to be a recovery ride. Except this was my first pure (i.e. non-class based) ride in some time, and I found I was really getting into it. So much so that I hit the 15 km mark in 29 minutes, and realised I still had plenty in the tank – which I could only put down to those crazy interval sprints I have been moaning about over the last few weeks. So rather than slow down in the second half, which I would usually do, I pulled off a great negative split (doing the second half faster than the first) and managed to beat my all time PB by a minute – up from 57.42 in July to 56.47!
So having spent this year building up my endurance, here’s to hoping that a winter of interval training will see my speed picking up over the next six months, in time to smash my race PBs next race season. All together now “R-R-R Record Breakers”!