A Slow Start with a Strong Finish

Day 19 – Saturday 18th February 2012.

I find that Saturday sessions can be the hardest ones to commit to getting done, largely because my routine on a Saturday is different to every other day. Throughout the week I need to be up at 5:30am and have my bag packed the night before to ensure that come 6:00am I am at the gym ready to do my session. Saturdays is a bit trickier because, for starters, the gym doesn’t open until 7:00am and then there’s the fact that I actually don’t need to rush as much as my first commitment for the day after the gym is a private clarinet student at my studio at 9:00am. The change in routine always ends up throwing me out, I would much prefer and find it easier if I could keep to the same time to be at the gym everyday.

I struggled out of bed by 7:00am today, my alarm went off at 6:30 but I didn’t manage to answer the call straight away as I knew I had some time up my sleeve. I deliberated doing a different session where I could just do some light abs work and tried to tell myself that I wouldn’t have enough time to get a session in as i hadn’t gotten up at 6:30am. After I’d finished being stupid I managed to get myself ready and in the car by 7:15 heading towards the gym.

I arrived in Subiaco and was on the treadmill for my 20 minute run by 7:30am. As with my runs over the last week I wasn’t going to push myself too hard with this due to me not wanting to injure myself as I continue to come back from my sore right knee. I set the treadmill on 7.5km/h and ran for 5 minutes before increasing the speed to 10km/h for the 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but think of my mate Mike Haydon as I was doing my run because he is doing a lot of running exercise at the moment, it always motivated and inspires me when people I know are determined to do better and improve their lives. By the end of the 20 minutes I had run 3.1km, I know it’s not an incredibly far distance but for a first week back into running I am happy with it, next week I will change it up and put some more intensity into it.

After the run I headed onto the bike for a 15 minute ride. On Thursday for my 15 minute ride I managed to get out 8.2km which then motivated me to set a new PB yesterday over the 30 minute distance. I wanted to put everything in today to see if I could beat my previous best over this distance so quickly brought up my work rate to being around the 110rpm. I managed to hold this rate throughout the majority of the ride with my lowest rpm being 106 in the first five minute bracket. By the 5 minute mark I had ridden 2.8km, whilst this was good and was on track to be over the 8km mark by the end of 15 minutes I felt that I could go even harder still. I raised my work rate to 115rpm which I managed to hold for the next 5 minutes and got the result of having ridden over 5 km by 8 minutes and 13 seconds and over 6 km by the 10 minute mark. I knew that I was in with a chance to beat my PB distance at this point with me only needing another 2.2km inside of 5 minutes, I started wondering if I could break the 8.5 or even 9km mark inside the 15 minutes. I brought up the 8km mark with the time just over 13 minutes and 30 seconds, the question is was wondering is how far could I ride in 90 seconds? I raised the intensity with the rpm fluctuating between 120 and 130rpm, by the 14.5 minutes I had passed the 8.2km mark I really wanted the 8.5km mark by the turn of the 15th minute. As the clock ticked over to 15 minutes my distance was 8.46km, I had just missed the 8.5km!

Whilst there is some disappointment in not having made the 8.5km mark I am really happy with the distance I managed to travel, it is a new PB and I am sure that there is much more room for improvement still to come.

Today’s session has again proved to me the importance of discipline and committing fully to something regardless of feeling. I had a slow start and real didn’t feel like doing today’s session, trying everything I could to get out of it. By the end of the session I was feeling very satisfied, I had set a new PB over 15 minutes on the cycle. It made for a strong finish to a day that started with such a slow start.

A New Personal Best

Day 18 – Friday the 17th of February 2012.

Today I managed what I have been trying to do all week, I set a new personal best distance on the cycle in my 30 minute ride! My previous best distance had been 16.28km in 30 minutes, today’s morning session resulted in my riding 16.49km inside the same time. I must admit I am a little disappointed that I didn’t make the 16.5km (that just sounds like a much more even number) but I can’t really complain when the goal today was to set a new P.B.

I got up at 5:30am and really struggled to wake up, for some reason it was just more difficult. It might be related to the fact that I have been waking up at 4:50am the past few mornings (I think my body is starting to remember the routine of 5 hours sleep a night and the extra 40 minutes is throwing it a little). After some fighting with myself I managed to get up and get ready to leave for my session. I wasn’t feeling very energetic this morning, I felt it was going to be a forced effort on my behalf to get anything out of the session but I was determined to give it my best efforts and see whether I could shake off this tiredness and get a good result.

I got to the gym just after 6:00am and was on the bike starting my session by 6:05am. I got my speed up to over the 100 rpm and managed to get myself into a good rhythm very quickly. By the 5 minute mark I was sitting just above the required rate to make 15km with me having travelled 2.6km, whilst this was a good start I knew that it would take more effort. I kept the rpm at around the 110 mark for the next 5 minutes and found that by the 10 minute mark I had travelled 5.4km, I was starting to set a better pace and was feeling confident.

Yesterday’s 15 minute ride resulted in me getting over 8km in 7.5 minutes, I decided that this should be my next target which I managed to hit having travelled 8km exactly by the time the 15minutes came up. This meant that I was on track for a 16km minimum distance….it still put me short of the PB of 16.28km. I raised the intensity for the next 10 minutes to 115rpm and managed to gain more distance and get even closer to setting a new PB having travelled 13.6km by the 25 minute mark.

The final five minutes a raised the intensity to be sitting at between 120 and 125rpm, I could see the goal in sight and didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I passed the 16km mark at the 19 minute and 15 second mark, 45 seconds to beat the distance. At the 29 minute and 15 second I passed the 16km, I knew that I was going to pass the 16.28km now, it was a matter of how far past it I could get. I lifted my rate to over 130rpm for this last minute and gave it everything I got trying to break the 16.5km, unfortunately I missed it by a mere 100m.

Not Making the Distance

Day 16 – Wednesday the 15th of February 2012.

Today I had planned to try and beat my previous best distance over 30 minutes on the cycle of 16.28km, unfortunately this didn’t happen with me only managing a distance of 15.98km inside the set 30 minute time limit. Whilst there is a part of me disappointed about not being able to set a new PB during today’s session I am feeling really happy about the progress that I am making, my fitness levels seem to be improving and my overall intensity of effort seems to be consistently higher. I am also very grateful that, at the moment, my body seems to be holding up to training six days a week and not feeling like some muscle is going to go…the only hindering factor at the moment seems to be my right knee.

I rose at 5:30am, this was a bit difficult as I got to bed slightly later, I was very tempted to stay in bed not for a sleep reason but more because I haven’t seen much of my beautiful wife Melissa over the past couple of days and the thought of lying in bed and just being present for a bit longer (nothing dodgy) was quite appealing to me. I wrestled myself back to reality and the task that needed to be done and got ready and headed into the gym for the session.

I was determined today to make this one count and started on the cycle, I was setting a pretty good pace at between 90 to 100 rpm for the first five minutes, this however wasn’t proving good enough to make the target of over 2.5km to ensure the minimum 15km – I was already behind! I tried to pickup the pace to make up the difference and by the 10 minute mark was only just behind the marker having done 4.8km instead of the minimal 5km.

I knew that the rate wold need to be lifted more to surpass my 16.28km with the 5m in 10 minutes being the minimal amount needed to do 15km. I upped the rate to sitting at 106rpm and did my best to hold this speed, I found it difficult as for some reason today I just couldn’t get into a good rhythm at this speed which meant it kept fluctuating between 98 and 106rpm. By the 15 minute mark I had managed to push ahead of the required distance to ride 15km in the time slot but the goal of setting a new PB was getting harder with me only having ridden around the 7.8km mark in the first half. At this rate I was going to struggle to make the 16km mark!

I kept trying to raise the intensity over the next 5 minutes but kept coming up against the same problem of not being able to hold a constant rhythm. By the 20 minute mark I had managed to push further ahead and had ridden 13km, this was still short of what I needed to ride to break my best distance. I was going to need to go all out for the last 10 minutes to have any chance.

I finally managed to lift my rate and keep it around the 110rpm, by the 25 minute mark I had ridden 13.32km, I needed to ride over 2.5km in the last 5 minutes just to break the 16 km mark. I tried lifting the rate again and had some success managing to hold the speed of 116rpm for some time. By the 28 minutes and 30 seconds I had passed the 15km mark, it was a matter of how close I could at least get to 16km in 90 seconds. As the clock kept ticking I pushed really hard and managed to reach the distance of 15.98km in the time limit.

The 16km mark was missed, I guess it means that I have something more to aim for in the coming days!

Heavy Legs to Start the Week

Day 14 – Monday 13th of February 2012.

I have found over my time of committing to these exercise sessions, both last years “Get in shape Challenge” and this year’s “Fitness Training 2012”, that the first session of the week is such a vital one in setting the atmosphere of what the week to come will be. I got up this morning at 5:30am looking forward to really trying to set the bar high for the week which will have 6 cardio sessions, 3 x cycles and 3 x cross training. I didn’t expect to find it as hard a session as I did.

I got to the gym just after 6:00am, today’s session was going to be my half an hour on the bike. I managed a new PB on the bike at the end of last week by riding 16.28 km in 30 minutes and I wanted to see if I could come close to beating that one today, unfortunately this didn’t happen. From the moment I got on the bike my legs felt tired and heavy, seriously as if I was carrying lead weights tied to both of my legs. Today was going to be one of those painful and mentally tough sessions that you just have to grit your teeth and push through.

I set my self the first target of riding 2.5km in the first 5 minutes, this would give me the base target of hitting the 15km mark that I was aiming for on Friday. I figured that by breaking the target into smaller ones that maybe I would be able to overcome the feeling of lethargy in my legs. I missed this first target only managing 2.2km in the first five minutes, it would have to be uphill from here. I knew that the distance could be made up but by the time I got to 10 minutes I was still behind, it wasn’t until the 10 minute and 30 second mark that I passed the 5 km mark, I was 30 seconds behind the mark I needed to be.

Knowing that this was going to be an uphill battle I decided to see if I could start to slowly eat into this time, I needed to pull back some of this time before the halfway distance of 7.5km to really have any chance. This was a huge effort to try and lift my rpm, I struggled to get it up above the 100 but managed to keep it at the 105rpm for the next 5 minutes. I passed the 7.5km mark at 15 minutes and 25 seconds, I had pulled back 5 seconds from my time.

My success gave me some hope and I kept pushing, maybe I could try and get back to being even by the 20 minute mark, I pushed to keep the rpm up at the same rate and slowly I could see myself gaining time. By the 20 minute mark I hadn’t quite gotten back onto par but had gained another 10 seconds to be only 15 seconds behind the minimum required rate. I continued to push and by the 26 minute mark I was up at 13.8km. I had a chuckle to myself at this point as on Friday I was passing the 15km mark at this time – I was 2 km slower than Friday’s time but this didn’t bother me as I could see it would be possible to make the 15km. I continued to push hard and crossed the 15km mark by 29.5 minutes, by the end of the 30 minutes I had ridden 15.15km.

Whilst this is not as good a distance as Friday’s I am happy that I managed to rise and push through the heaviness to get this result. Tomorrow’s session is supposed to be a cross training one, I am hoping it all goes well!

Enjoying a Day of Rest

Day 13 – Sunday the 12th of February.

Today saw me enjoy the second rest day since starting my fitness training for 2012. I woke up to find myself feeling rather sore from yesterday’s soccer game, my muscles were tight, my right knee feeling quite stiff and on top of all that sunburn that was really stinging quite badly. I know it doesn’t sound like it was the best start to the day but it really did get much better, you see today Melissa and I celebrate being married for three months and that is totally awesome.

After I had gotten up and dressed for the day I headed off to watch my wife play in a soccer scratch match which was a part of her preseason work for the coming season. I always enjoy going down and watching her play, just having the opportunity to sit down in the outdoors for a couple of hours and relax is a real blessing to me with the busy life that I live. After the game finished we headed back to our place and got ready for the weekly family lunch at Melissa’s parents house.

After lunch finished Melissa and I still needed to head off to Mass, we didn’t get a chance in the morning due to the soccer games and as our faith is so important to us we headed off to Holy Spirit in City Beach for their 5:30pm mass. At the conclusion of this we had the pleasure of heading down to the beach for a nice walk. We got to walk along the boardwalk between Floreat and City Beach and chat about many different things. The walk today was really nice, this is the place where I proposed to Melissa back in June 2011 and the setting sun with the cloud formations made for some stunning scenery. We had set an alarm for 6:50pm as we wanted to get back to Holy Spirit Parish by 7:00pm for the weekly Pro-life Holy hour which we try to get to as often as we can.

Our day finished by celebrating dinner at a local restaurant and just enjoying each other’s company which is one of my most favourite things to do.

This week’s training I am keen to start increasing the intensity a little more with bringing in some cross training sessions. I am thinking that Monday, Wednesday and Friday will remain  as cycle sessions with the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday being cross training between running, rowing and cycling. I am hoping that I can get another six days under my belt and continue to get no injuries.

Bring on Monday!


Birthday Soccer in the Heat

Day Twelve – Saturday the 11th of February 2012.

My session today was totally different from the one that I had done yesterday. My Brother in Law, John, had decided to celebrate his 17th birthday with a game of soccer with his family and friends down at the local park, Butler’s Reserve in Wembley Downes, WA. The game was to start at 10:00am and then after playing for a few hours we were to head down to City Beach for a swim and some lunch.

I ended up thinking I would be a few minutes late due to my teaching at my music studio, I managed however to arrive right on 10:00am to find that only a handful had managed to get there by the set time. I was feeling a little stiff and sore from yesterday’s bike session still so i went for a decent run and did a series of stretches as the numbers continued to increase.

We finally got started around the 10:30am with teams picked and everyone feeling fairly pumped for a big day, it had turned out we had probably close to a full sided game of 11 on each team which was a great turnout. Normally when we play we don’t worry about centre kickoffs but for john’s birthday we decided we were going to have kickoffs as well as keep score (normally we just play golden goal).

The game was a fantastic workout, the amount of short sprint work I ended up doing really got my heart rate up. The temperature also continued to climb making it really important to keep up the intake of water to prevent dehydration. After about an hour we stopped for half time, I drank another 2 litres of water during this break and ate another banana before the second half. The score at half time was 4-5 with the other team in front.

The start of the second half saw my team go on a quick burst and score to level up the scores at 5-5. The second half ended up being fought at as a higher intensity as the first half with both teams throwing everything at their opposition trying to score a goal and get on top. When the game looked like it was drawing to a close we called last goal to finish off the game. The other team scored this very quickly and John decided we needed to keep playing, we extended the play only to have our team score almost straight away as well, this levelled up scores at 7-7.

Knowing we couldn’t settle for a draw we continued on for one more goal, this came about five minutes later when the team I was on put the ball past the goal keeper to claim victory in John’s birthday soccer match.

This workout today was a great change for me, I haven’t been doing any sprint training at all since starting back in to the routine. I have been trying to build up a base fitness first before hitting sprinting. Whilst I am going to continue with my current plan of a good three to four weeks of endurance work before mixing things up I am happy to have had a change for one session. Tomorrow is my rest day…I can’t wait for a day off!

Dedication Leads to Results

Day Eleven – Friday the 10th of February 2012

This morning I hit a potential hurdle to my training, I slept in through my alarm. I woke at 6:05am and tried to get ready to get to the gym, my lack of preparation the night before lead to me not leaving the house until 6:25am. I realised whilst driving to the gym that I wasn’t going to get there in time to do the full 30 minute ride, do a good a stretch and have a enough time to wash and be out at Mater Dei College in Edgewater to start teaching by 7:50am. I was really disappointed with myself for not cutting the grade for my morning session, I knew that come the afternoon I wouldn’t feel like doing a session but that to keep to the regime I really did need to push through and be dedicated to the tasks. My hope from yesterday’s session was to see if I could reach the 15km in 30 minutes and I was determined not to miss the opportunity to give that a go.

Come the afternoon i didn’t feel like going to the gym however after a swim at the beach and Melissa heading off to her Eucharistic Adoration hour I left for the gym to complete my daily training.

I got to the gym by 6:55pm and was on the bikes just after 7:00pm. I had a good feeling as I started that today was going to be the night I broke the 15km mark, I had no idea at this point in time what I was going to have achieved by the end of the 30 minute mark. The first five minutes started well, my intensity was good with me having the rpm sitting comfortably over 100 and an average power output of 168W. I was happy with the distance I had covered, at 2.6km I was on track to make the 15km mark with me moving at the same sort of speed that I was doing my 10 minute ride for. I was wondering at this point in time as to whether I cold keep this intensity up for a full half an hour or if my body would die.

At 10 minutes into my ride I had managed to keep the intensity just over 100rpm and a similar power output to at the 5 minute mark. I had ridden 5.4km n the time meaning my average speed would have been 32.4km/h. I was now heading into new territory and I knew that it would take a serious effort to keep the work rate up as the tiredness started to set in, to counter the fatigue that I was starting to feel I lifted my work rate to being between 103 and 105 rpm. I started trying to concentrate more on my breathing, the movement of my legs both pushing and pulling as well as racing against the clock. By the 15 minute mark I found myself in position of having ridden closer to 8.5km than the required 7.5km to make the 15km mark, my thoughts turned to maybe it being possible to not only make the magic 15km but pass the 16km mark…if only I could push on.

One of the tactics I always do when training is continuously reassess my progress as I am training, I believe that this helps me get more out of the sessions and stretches me to achieve more than I have before. At this point in the ride I set myself the target to have passed the 10 km mark by the 18 minute mark, I figured that if I could reach this then maybe the 16km would be in my grasp. By the 18 minute mark I was just short of the 10 km mark having ridden 9.8km, it was time to increase the intensity again to really go for it. My rpm reached sitting at 110 for the next 7 minutes (until the 25 minute mark), during this time my pulse was up at 180bpm but I was feeling really good. I passed some milestones in this 7 minute period passing my previous best PB for the 30 minute ride of 13.8km in the 23rd minute. I did miss riding the 15 km in 25 minutes but the 15km mark came up at 26 minutes and 17 seconds.

Now the real challenge started – I had a taste of success and I wanted more!

I raised the work rate again to 122rpm on the bike which I kept up for the remainder of the ride. The 16km mark was passed just before  hit 29 minutes, now it was a matter of far could I get in the last minute? I kept pushing, desperately hoping to get the 16.5km as this would mean travelling at 33km/h on average which I would be very happy with. As the clock passed over the 30 minute mark and I pushed stop on the timer I had ridder a total of 16.28km. My average rpm was 109rpm and my average speed was 32.56km/h. My average heart rate was 162bpm.

During my cool down over the next minute and a half minutes I kept a track on on  my pulse and it had returned down to rest inside this time.

My legs felt very tight when I got off the bike so I did my 20 minute stretch through all the muscles holding each stretch for a good 30 seconds.

Today’s session yet again has proven to me the importance in not only setting goals and reassessing and resetting as I train but more importantly the rewards that come from being dedicated to the tasks that you set yourself. Basically for me it seems that the more dedicated I am to anything the greater the results I end up seeing and I continue to surprise myself with how far they get surpassed by.

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