Written by Ben Price
Last week was a great example of the sort of training variety that keeps me motivated and coming back for more!
Monday: My half term didn’t start with a lie in as planned. Instead, I was involuntarily wide awake at 6.15am. I tried to get back to sleep but the beautiful weather outside was calling me! The sun hadn’t risen but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – there was no way I was going back to sleep. I slid silently out of bed and crept downstairs – waking my wife, Rach and children, Barney and Kiki at this hour when they could be having a Monday morning lie in would have ended in my premature death at the hands of a wild wife! However, I’m well practised at creeping downstairs so having avoided the creaky parts of the stairs I found myself outside in the chilly air and heading off for an easy 3.5miles. I had plenty of stops to enjoy the countryside scene and stretch off yesterday’s half marathon aches and pains. It was so good not having to crowbar a session in under time pressure for a change. Taking it slow and enjoying my surroundings was brilliant. I was also reminded how good stretching is.
In the afternoon I was given an unexpected green light from Rach to head out on the bike for an hour. My coach told me not do any biking today as I needed to recover from the half, but it was a beautiful day and I wasn’t going to turn this opportunity down so headed straight out and enjoyed a relaxed hour in the sunny Cotswold hills. It was so good to feel the wind on the face and get that sensation of speed after plenty of hours on the turbo lately!
Tuesday: Back to the training graft. I couldn’t make it to the Cheltenham Harriers session so I did the session on my own, which was tough! My legs were still not fully recovered from Sunday’s half marathon – despite yesterday’s easy day – so I stuck to the soft grass and kept the mileage down to a minimum. I ended up only running 5 miles but with 10x90secs hard [30secs recovery between efforts]. How well you do in these solo sessions makes a real difference in my opinion. It’s all too easy to bail – no one is there to push you when it’s hurting. It’s such a mental game! I enjoy this part of the sport and with some motivational music and thoughts of upcoming races, I managed to hit the target numbers and quicker. Satisfying! In the afternoon I did 50mins easy spin on the turbo. Not as satisfying but had to be done!
Wednesday: The morning included 80mins on the turbo with 5x90secs max efforts [90secs recovery at L2] and 15mins at the sweet spot. Now, this was a TOUGH session on tired legs that required significant amounts of caffeine and some very choice and very loud tunes! These max efforts are something my coach has introduced more of in recent months and I think they are vital. I dug incredibly deep and hit the target numbers, recording the highest heart rate I’ve managed on the bike for years. That got me questioning whether I have been pushing myself hard enough up to this point. There is always another gear! In the afternoon I went for a very contrasting 6mile easy run in the local fields and hills as the sun went down. It was another stunning evening and very nice to run easy and soak it all up.
Thursday: Another big brick session! These bricks often include a session with the Cheltenham Harriers so it’s mega good training. Hard, but mega good! They’re a combination of mental toughness on the bike when it’s up to you to push yourself and running efforts that are both sociable but also massively inspiring with the group around you. I finished this session pretty wrecked, but also very satisfied!
- 15mins easy running on the track
- Straight to the turbo (set up by the running track) for 50mins with 8x3mins at FTP [2.5mins L2 between efforts]
- Straight to Cheltenham Harriers group session of 6x4mins progressing from tempo pace to 5k pace (sub 5min miles for final 2 efforts)
- 20mins spin on the turbo to cool down
Friday: After last night’s smash-up it was all about an easy 2 hours on the bike in the hills roughly at L2. It was cold but dry and very enjoyable just spinning through the countryside and raising the heart rate a little bit over the hills. Rach was out riding with a friend at the same time and we bumped into each other on a minor road near Hampen which was a bonus! They were very jolly and rather buoyant about their average speed. Little did they know about the horrendous headwind they’d hit for the final 15minutes home. It was a brute! Man, my toes got cold.
Saturday: Another tough session, this time as much a mental battle as a physical one. It was the infamous 3x5k session [4mins jog between] that we Cheltenham Harriers often endure. This was hard as it was cold, windy, sleeting a little and I was doing it solo! I was supposed to use Parkrun for the final 5k effort to help push me on when the session gets really tough, but I couldn’t make it so did it on one of the local playing fields. I was supposed to hit 17mins, 16.30 then 16 dead for the final one but it turned out being: 16.51, 16.28 and 16.24. Whilst this was a little slower than planned, these efforts were better than the prescribed pace as I was on undulating, sodden grass and the heart rate and effort were certainly high enough!
Sunday: Having spent Saturday afternoon and night with friends near Bath, it was obviously the ‘done thing’ to ride home from there on Sunday. I know I’m not the only one to think of the return riding options from family days out and trips to see friends!! Rhys was to join me for the first hour of the ride before turning and heading home. We’d last ridden together in Provence (including Mont Ventoux) in August. On Sunday, we woke up to a bitterly cold northerly breeze – about 30 degrees colder than last time we rode together! – but pluckily donned the cold weather gear and headed off.
3 and a-bit-hours later I’d made it home. I had to do two hard hill climbs mid-route which I did out of Wotton – a 9 and a-bit-minute effort into that awful headwind! The final 90mins was tough after that and made even tougher by a slow puncture on the front which meant I finished the ride with a tyre pressure of less than 20psi! Luckily, I didn’t hit any holes or my front wheel rim would have been destroyed! A 237watt average for the ride was only worth 29.4kmh! It was all good miles in the legs though and the hot shower afterwards was amazing!
So that was the week. A great mixture of social runs and rides with some mentally tough but satisfying solo efforts in between. Each day was totally different and enjoyable in its own way. As they say, variety is the spice of life, but also the key to motivational and sustainable training!
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. You can follow Ben’s training on Instagram through his daily posts.