Time to get this blog started again, there's a bit to catch up. The easiest way to do this is a timeline of the last 5 or so months
October 2015 - 2x Stress Reactions, Season Over
One week before Port Mac 70.3 mid-October I was diagnosed with two stress reactions in the 3rd & 4th metatarsils of my right foot. This wasn't a total surprise, I'd had a gammy right foot & ankle for most of 2015 up until that point. Nothing in there was moving, it seemed like every joint in the ankle had some sort of adhesion preventing correct biomechanical function of the foot. My running in training and racing had gone from bad to worse most of 2015, and this was the culmination.
I decided to race Port Mac despite the risks of multiple fractures because I still thought I had a chance to win. I was also heading South anyway to race the Nepean Tri the week afterwards to support my sponsor Cellarbrations who sponsors Nepean Tri. Unsurprisingly, I swim and biked to perfection in Port, but ran terribly in Port and finished 6th. A few days after Port I got terribly sick while staying in Bondi before Nepean. It was the logical choice to scratch from that race, my body was simply saying 'no more'.
Despite the illness that week, it was a great chance to catch up with one of my support crew, Clovelly based sports chiropractor Michael Black. We worked every day treating my ankle and getting my pelvis back into alignment, both big issues that were a side effect of adding the heel raise at the begging on 2015. My body was trying to work out it's new position, and was in constant need of realignment. We made some excellent progress that week, my ankle was now moving and I could run normally again. The hallmark of this was that I could actually run around corners to the right instead of tip-toeing. I literally had zero eversion in my calcaneus, which meant that my ankle couldn't ankle move the way it needed to when banking right, no matter how steep or shallow the angle, it was incredibly frustrating. We also did a lot of video analysis experimenting with orthotics and forefoot corrections to prevent the incorrect toe-off that resulted in poor foot mechanics and the stress reactions diagnosed two weeks earlier. For most of my life I'd worn orthotics, though I'd ditched them 4 years earlier for reasons I can't really recall, other than just wanting to try running without them.
Here's a couple a pictures from Port Mac illustrating my gammy ankle. Click on the pics to enlarge and read the notes on the picture to the right.
Below is a video from the week of treatment with Mike. This one in particular is a posterior capsule release of the right femoral head. I've always run with a bowed right leg when tired or under load. This is quite palpable if you've ever seen me half way through a run on a 70.3. But this bow isn't something that was caused entirely because of impact and glute instability, more so, as my leg has been swinging through in the recover stage of the stride it's been pivoted on an angle from the femoral capsule. We did this release on the thompson drop table to break up the adhesions within the capsule and restore it's functional movement to a normal pattern.
The plan after all this tratment was to then take 3 weeks off and heal. Ash finished her season with a 2nd and 1st in Nepean and Noosa Tri's, then we went up North to Fraser Island for a week off. Here's a video of the trip
November to December 2015 - Back Training Fresh
I resumed training feeling fresh and with a the feeling that I had a new body to work with. Once I rediscovered how good it was to be training fresh, it was obvious with hindsight that I should have taken a break much much earlier in 2015, rather than doing it late October with the candle burning at both ends. I'm a fighter and typically try to make the best out of the worst situations. This meant I could always find a way to tell myself that after each disappointment and with a little consistency in training a good race was just around the corner. I would have been better to take a month off in May or June, get the treatment I needed (which is trifle difficult when traveling the world), then been able to reboot fresh to assault the rest of the season. I was half-strength the whole season, fighting niggles and sickness. In 2015 I was one big long wet fart culminating in a very loose bowel movement by October. To go the full metaphor, it was just a shit year. Though really, it was the bad season that I had to have in order to get the most out the changes that I'd committed to make with my heel raise. There was no easy way these changes were going to happen. By body had to straighten up and start working in ways not possible until now, and things were going to get messy on the way. I knew this was going to happen, I'd been told it would happen, but I guess i never accepted it was going to happen.
With the good results I was getting in training, I decided to make a race plan for 2016 begging with Dubai 70.3 late January. I'd never raced this early in the season, opting always to miss big opening races in the past like the now defunct Auckland 70.3 in the effort to build a bigger base. But things were going well and Dubai was a good paying race, so I wanted to put myself in a big one to start things off. It felt like last year, because I missed 70.3 Worlds with injury, that I just never raced any top dogs. I'd trained with Sebastian Kienle but not raced with him, and it annoyed me. I knew Jan Frodeno was doing Dubai so I was pretty happy about the choice to go and race.
January 2016 - Success in Dubai 70.3
I was starting to feel really fit and was doing some good mileage and getting stuck into some decent key sessions. I got back on the Felt IA TT bike early January, and had just enough time do a few longer rides on it in preparation for Dubai. I hadn't had any of the problems of 2015 yet either. No back pain, no psoas pain, the ankle was moving freely and I could run trail and uneven surfaces without issue, and visually my shoulders, spine and upper body was starting to straighten out. My head wasn't sitting 4cm to the right of my pelvis anymore as it was for a long time, and I was focusing more on reducing lateral upper body movement in my running, something which I'd never given much thought to before. Because I was now straight and my joints moving better, I could make some good changes to my running for once other than just tweaking training volume and structure. I could really make some inroads on addressing the biomechanical efficiency issues I had. My foot mechanics had improved tremendously with the orthotics and built in forefoot corrections and I was running easier and toeing off better. Win win.
Race week in Dubai came around and I'd made the 14 hour transit to Dubai in good shape. I ended up leading the swim but getting dropped by Jan on the long 1km soft-sand run to T1. It took me 30km's to ride him down in 40km/h tail winds, and I rode with him to the turnaround. He dropped me pretty quick smart after this and put 3 minutes back into me in the headwind back to T2. He rode like a World Champ should, and I was at capacity with the ride I put in, perhaps burning too much fuel trying to close the gap before the turnaround. What I was really looking forward to in this race was the run, I wanted to test the improvements I'd made in 3 short months. In the end, I lost another 3 minutes to Jan but held off a fast moving Bart Aernouts and Terenzo for 2nd place. I was able to run steady, hold form in the brutal cross winds and just focus on form. In 2015 I spent most of my time leading off the bike but running scared losing form quickly. I was thrilled and totally proud with how I'd managed to turn things around from a woeful 2015. It was also nice to put a 10K USD check back into the account!
February 2016 - Committing to Ironman
In December when things were back on track, I got this idea that if I kept going well and was injury free that I would make my debut Ironman in 2016. I always knew that I wanted to make my debut at Port Macquarie, a place where I've experienced success on a course that plays to my strengths, but the result in Dubai was reassurance I needed to to fully commit myself Ironman Australia on May 1.
So the plan from Dubai was to race Geelong 70.3 the following weekend back in Australia, then this would allow a 8 week block until my pre-Ironman hitout in Putrajaya 70.3 on April 3, then another 4 weeks until Ironman Australia.
I'd never raced a back to back 70.3 before. While some guys eat them up like a bowl of noodles with only one chopstick (looking at Terenzo), I don't really think this is for me. Geelong was a total reversal from Dubai the week earlier. I just never recovered after the travel back home, and was struggling to sleep all week with jetlag. Jake Montgomery was in top form and had me against the ropes for most of the bike ride, and I was fighting momentum the whole run. Just not really a day to remember but I still finished 3rd after getting bettered by a fast finishing and Ironman fit Cyril Viennot. Though I could go home with a smile with another podium and paycheck, two in two weeks, exactly 100% more podiums than all of 2015.
So after the recovery from Geelong, the long training days started. I had a short stint in Queenstown NZ mid February for a 30km trail race, but that just wasn't meant to be. Ideally, it would have been a great long run and strength session with 1,500m or so of elevation over gnarly sheepstation backcountry. The reality was by 3km I had rolled my left ankle numerous times and had to walk for the next two hours to the first extraction point. I'll leave this stuff for another day when i can truly bust myself up and not care about what's just around the corner, it's great fun otherwise. Though that healed quite well and I back into the miles later in the week.
March 2016 - Full Frontal Ironman Prep
In terms of volume, I haven't been doing any more K's than I would do training for a 70.3 There have been a few exceptions to some run weeks however, I topped 110km one week, but most of the weeks have been built around a key long bike/run off and long run. The last key run workout I finished was a 37km run, 5km warm up and then 2x15km at race tempo. I hit 4:04 and 4:00km averages for the two. I've done a handful of runs around 35km also, all with 30km of accumulated intervals. The bike rides have been similar with structure, with the volume and intervals combined. The longest was a 35km warm up, then 5x25km at race pace, 5km easy in between and 20km warm down. I posted my last key ride up on social media last week, which similarly was 180km, with 30km warm up, 4x30km TT at race pace with 15km cool down. Here it is below
The training has certainly been different and challenging, I've done sessions and volumes I never thought I would touch in a single ride or run. I've had some disastrous days, and some freakishly good days. One of which I was about 80km away from home on my bike, I was mid interval but totally spent and pedaling squares., I pulled over to the side of the road and unclipped, contemplating just how I was going to get through the session. Needless to say I'd given on on the intervals, but what else could I do but keep riding? I ended up riding the next 60km really slow, but got a 2nd wind closer to home and did the last 20km TT home to the front door and finished the 60 minute run off really well. That was a 7.5 hour brick session because of how slow I was riding. But with each of these sessions, good or bad, I'm discovering the essence of Ironman. I may hit this wall on race day, I may not. Whatever happens, I've been training to race to my strengths and not have to rely on anyone on course to set the pace. We'll see what comes on race day. Tomorrow I'm racing Putrajaya 70.3 in really hot and humid conditions. I'm excited to race, maybe we'll get a good preview of my fitness for Port.