It might be 6 months away but my coach (Dave Newport) and I are already talking about my main target next year – the European Elite Middle Distance Duathlon Champs in May.
Whilst I’ll be racing for the Cheltenham Harriers over the winter and focusing on certain duathlon events along the way, ultimately, it is all geared towards the race in May. The winter is where you need to get the work done.
The week just gone was the first week with more focus on brick training (multiple disciplines in one session) and some hard intervals on the bike. In recent weeks the running had been the main priority in preparation for the defence of my Cheltenham Half Marathon, which I am really happy to say I managed to do!! You can read about the race here.
So after the Chelt Half, I had a much needed day off on Monday before getting back into it on Tuesday with more of a duathlon focus. Here’s how the training panned out:
AM – an easy 3 mile run to work (legs still sore and a little bit hobbly!!)
PM – 95mins easy spin on the turbo (high cadence and staying in aero as much as possible – all sessions need a purpose!). I normally do the Cheltenham Harriers group running session on a Tuesday but my legs were too battered from the half!
AM – 7 miles of running including 4x4mins at sub 10K pace [2mins jog recovery between efforts]. This was pretty hard as my legs weren’t fully over Sunday’s half and fast efforts on your own are always tough. I was pleased to bash out 4.56, 4.51, 4.58 and 4.50 min/mile for the 4 efforts (the slight difference in pace was due to the net up/downhill for the reps).
PM – 45mins easy spin on turbo (bonus session post kids bed when Rach was out at netball!)
The first proper brick session of the off season.
- 15mins easy run
- 30mins turbo building from L2 to sweet spot (SS. A little below FTP)
- 15mins including 2miles at tempo pace in the middle (5.22min/mile on the grass)
- 30mins turbo at SS (sweet spot is the worst term in the world. It really isn’t sweet in any way, shape or form. Painful Spot would be more apt!)
- 10mins easy building to 2mins at tempo
- Pack away the turbo then 3 miles run home easy
AM – Easy 3 mile run to work
PM – 60mins turbo with 22x30secs Z6 (400+ watts in aero) [90secs L2 (200+ watts) between efforts]
AM – 6 miles running to work with 10x90secs at 5k pace [90secs jog recoveries].
70mins easy running and 30mins easy bike
Now what’s interesting about all this is that these sessions might not look too hard when you read them. You might well be thinking, ‘That’s not much’ or ‘that’s not very intense!’. I always think that when my coach sends the sessions through to me. But when you actually do them, they always creep up on you and hurt way more than you think! I mentioned resilience at the start of this blog and that’s something that I needed this week. If I had done the Wednesday to Friday sessions last year or the year before, I would have been broken by the Saturday and would not have been able to hit the target pace set. It has taken me years to develop the ability to recover quicker (usually on not enough sleep) and hit solid sessions day after day. In the old days I wouldn’t be able to train the day after a hard interval run session unless it was a very easy spin on the bike because my quads would have been so sore! I definitely wouldn’t be able to go a week without a substandard session.
The brick session on Thursday was really solid – although it was only sweet spot (just below FTP) and tempo (slower than 10k pace to 10 mile pace), because you’re doing it all as a brick it hurts the legs and takes it out of you. My heart rate was far low but the pain in the legs was high!
The Z6 efforts (way above FTP) on Friday on tired legs were nasty and targeted a totally different energy system – it was amazing how much higher my heart rate was in the warm down compared to the warm up despite being at exactly the same power. My body must have been doing some crazy lactate buffering or something. I’m sure a physiologist could tell me exactly what was going on.
Then waking up on Saturday morning to heavy rain and a cold wind, the thought of 10x90secs at 5k pace on the way to work was seriously uninspiring. Thank goodness for coffee! I drank a lot! And managed to get the session done and did it properly – hitting the target pace of 3min/km and quicker at times. That was really satisfying.
The guys I race against at the elite Powerman races are often full time athletes or at the very least have part time jobs or time allocated to them for training. Stalking them on Strava is always quite crushing because they are putting in some serious hours. That’s where the resilience comes in. My coach knows I can’t hit the mileage that my rivals are so the sessions I do need to be quality and quite often of a high intensity. It’s taken me 6 or 7 years to develop the resilience to train as I do now. The thing is, my coach reckons I’ve got more to give so the plan is to test that resilience and move the bar even higher.
So the winter training is certainly underway and it’s only going to get tougher. Bring it on!
- Sunday 21st October – Stroud Half
- Saturday 3rd November – Ballbuster Duathlon
- Saturday 10th November – Birmingham League XC (Cheltenham)
- Sunday 18th November – DB Max Chilly Duathlon at Castle Combe (maybe)
- Sunday 9th December – Telford 10k
- Sat 5th Jan – County XC Champs – decent training run
- Sat 12th Jan – Birmingham XC League, Northampton
- Sun 20th Jan – Linda Franks (maybe)
- Sat 26th Jan – National Duathlon Champs (Ashridge) – Standard distance (maybe)
- Sat 9th Feb – Birmingham XC League, Telford
- Saturday 23rd February – Powerman Spain (Majorca)
- Bath/Reading Half 17th March – (maybe too close to Midlands 12 stage which is priority)
- Sat 23rd March – Midland 12 Stage
- Sunday 12th May – Powerman Denmark (Elite European MD Champs)
Ben Price is a duathlete who has represented GB at elite level over the past two years. He came to the sport in his late 20s and since then has progressed through the age group ranks until he was selected for the elite team in 2017.
In stark contrast to the pros that we often read about, Ben is maintaining his status as elite athlete whilst juggling a work/life/training balance that many of us can certainly empathise with i.e. he is very busy! He is a 37 year old Geography teacher (and Head of House) and married to Rachael. Together they have two young children (Barney 8 and Kiki 7).
Ben’s main target is the Elite European Middle Distance championships in May 2019. The race – hosted by Powerman Denmark – is 10k run/60k bike/10k run.
In this blog, he will be describing his winter training and racing as he builds towards the big race in May. He will provide a unique insight into the trials and tribulations of an elite athlete as he faces the day to day challenges that life throws at him!
You can also follow Ben’s training on Instagram through his daily posts – if time allows!