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Laura Clements - Competition - Blog Post, 4 weeks in!

It is 9pm on a Sunday evening and I am already in my PJs and sat in bed writing this! Its been another active weekend and I'm looking forward to sleep, having washed several loads of sweaty kit and inhaled the contents of my fridge for supper! I have now done 4 weeks following the training programme from Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching. It is time for me to report on progress thus far!! Triathlon Coach Chris Hine has been working closely with me as part of the 6 month training plan. But I cannot think much beyond September 10th; Ironman Wales!! It is now only 6 weeks away; it hardly seems enough time, especially as time has seemed to be fast forwarded as each training session is religiously ticked off, day by day, week by week....

Week #1 Total swim time: 3:20 Total run time: 3:30 Total bike time: 5:00

The focus this week was using a heart rate monitor to establish training zones and getting to grips with the technical principles of swimming. The run and bike sessions were based around strength and introducing more of a pace range.

It was a tough week for someone more used to longer steady distance training for marathon running! I'd heard the word 'FTP Test' bandied about the cycling fraternity, but so far I had never had the need or desire to actually do one. I thought that not having a power meter or access to a watt bike, I could get away with not doing one.... But alas, Chris had a simple workaround in that first week, with a 60 minute warm up followed immediately by a 20 minute 'FTP effort'. Anything with a 60 minute warm up was bound to hurt, and sure as hell it did! It was however a real opportunity to get in the new aero position and test out the new positioning. When I looked down at the speed, I was amazed to be hitting numbers I had previously thought unattainable. It turns out a bike fit really is worth getting sorted! I did adapt the programme in that first week, as I had neglected to tell Chris that I was entered into the full swim and half marathon event at Long Course Wales. I will admit that most things went out of the window during the swim, which was my first OW experience and the furthest distance swum to date. I exited the water in 1:20, which I was pretty chuffed with. I did manage to sneak in 70-odd miles on the bike the next day, but saved a bit ready for the notoriously tough half marathon from Pembroke to Tenby on the Sunday. The programme specified a 1:30 steady run. I did finish the run in 1:30:14, but I wouldnt call it 'steady'! I did however come in as first female, so it was a successful weekend overall.

Week #2 Total swim time: 4:20 Total run time: 2:00 Total bike time: 5:50

Calculation of heart rate zones. Plan was to get a good balance of sessions, with the 'big' bike session on Saturday specifically focussing on pacing and position.

Monday was straight back into the pool with a 3.2km swim. Since the video analysis I can now feel when I kick my feet out to the side and have a 'banana body'. Stopping it however is a different matter; it is like my lower body has a mind of its own!! Chris has given me lots of technical drills focussing on body sync and rotation to try and address this. The weekend riding was character building stuff! I rode out to the coast in horrendous weather whilst it hammered it down for about 2 of the 3 hours. I may have disregarded the race pace sets in the plan and put my head down to get home as fast as I could! On the plus side, when I got back, the run off the bike felt really good!

Week #3 Total swim time: 2:20 Total run time: 2:10 Total bike time: 7:20

Tougher week this, starting to hit where it hurts with the aim of making me faster!!

Part of this week involved a rather hard run session incorporating 3 x 1 mins @ zone 5 followed by 3 x 5 mins @ zone 4. I took myself down to Llandaff Fields and was really pleased with the session, managing to hold the 5 minute efforts at around 6:05mins/mile.

Thursday was prescribed as a rest day, but i'm afraid I succumbed to the all too frequent mentality that rest days are optional and I went along to my normal Thursday club swim anyway. But everything rather fell apart and after flailing around in the water for 40 minutes my wonderfully frank and honest coach suggested that I get out as it had all gone to pot! Important note to self: QUALITY over quantity. Embrace rest days and treat them as sacrosanct!

Friday was a welcome break from chasing zones: a simple 2 hour Z2 recovery ride. It was a shame about the weather which consisted of all 4 seasons despite being July! It mainly consisted of rain, rain, and some wind and then some more rain! But then what if its like that on race day??

Week #4 Total swim time: 3:10 (+ extra sneaky sea swim!) Total run time: None (managing a niggle) Total bike time: 8:40

Last hard week before a bit of recovery!

I woke up with a pain in my knee. One of those pains that suggested running would be off limits for the week and which triggered minor panic in my mind. Chris agreed that I should be careful and not risk making it worse so the programme was adjusted with additional swimming to replace the run sessions. Cycling seemed to be OK though, thank heavens!

A quick trip back to Pembrokeshire at the weekend to catch up with family saw me take the opportunity to throw in an extra swim off Tenby North Beach followed by a ride around the small IMW loop twice. Not strictly according to programme, but fun nonetheless, and a good opportunity to start practising hydration and nutrition.

So, 4 weeks down and with the weekly programme set out in Training Peaks, I have already got a bit obsessed with uploading my sessions that everything turns green. Its like training bingo, with the aim of getting a full house at the end of each week! I am enjoying the focus and specificity of each session and I am starting to feel stronger on the bike. I now know what I am doing wrong in the pool, although improving my stroke is turning out to be a long slow process indeed! It is frustrating but something that requires patience! And the run; fingers crossed the niggle is only a niggle and disappears with rest.

This week is a 'recovery' week allowing my body to adapt to the load over the past 4 weeks. Then I enter the last build phase into IM Wales!!! eek! My next update will incorporate the pre-race thoughts, and may make for some interesting reading!!

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