Amateur Age Group Triathlete
Amateur Age Group Triathlete

Tri Camp Mallorca and Seville DX2 Middle Distance Triathlon Report

roborobby roborobApr 7th 2014
Quick update on training and racing in March, covering the following:
- Training for City to Summit Ironman;
- Training and Racing with a Bike Power Meter;
- Diet (Paleo/Primal/Keto/HFLC);
- Spring Training Camp.

So I'm back from a massive 2.5 weeks at Tri Camp in Mallorca and 3 days in Seville for a middle distance race. Picked this race by going on with the sole criteria of it needing to be a European middle around this time of year as prep for City to Summit. Before heading out, I had a second lactate threshold profiling session with Simon Clark from to get my latest bike power levels and also to check that the numbers were going in the right direction. To my absolute delight, they had improved more than expected, thanks in no small part to my Coach Nick Dunn's focused training plan, taking into consideration the data from my first test with Simon, with a new lactate threshold (MLSS) of 311W (4.26W/kg), up 23W from the 288W 3 months before. Based on the rest of the data, an iron-distance bike pace right now of 240W would on the cards, which should hopefully rise 10W by end of May. Having this data was a real game changer for both the training camp and the race (i'll cover that in a very brief race report in this post).
Ironman Training

Nick has a very holistic and modern approach to training, including short hard interval sessions, technique work and heavy triathlon-focused weight training alongside the usual staple of long swims, bikes and runs. I was worried that transitioning from sprint to long would result in me turning into an emaciated, slow, stick insect, but instead I have more energy than ever before, with improved run and swim pacing even over the shorter distances, and a pleasant side effect of an improvement in physique through an increase in functional muscle. I hadn't realised this before, but quite often iron distance triathletes have more muscle than their short-course compatriots given the need to haul their bike over 112 miles and then hold themselves up for a marathon without the need for as high a top end pace, which explains why pure marathon runners, who don't have to haul any mass other than their own body, tend to be so much smaller. If I was focussing on my physique, I'd want to reduce my body fat percentage a little (and stack on more upper body muscle), but my current weight of 74kg feels a lot stronger and healthier than the 69kg I was at for the sprint world champs last year, and in any I reckon I'll be happy for as much fat as possible when I hit the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth!
Tri Camp Mallorca and Seville DX2 Middle Distance Triathlon Report

Along with the training, I'm still focusing on a clean high fat low carb diet. I'm going to say i'm no longer Paleo, as people get bogged down with the semantics and debates around what is and isn't Paleo, and what it even means. I still think Paleo is the best place to start from, but finding out what works for you as an individual is more important than dogmatically following rules just so that you can fit in a definition that someone else has come up with. So I'm following the "me" diet now, which is all natural and organic/traceable/local where possible, good fats from animal, raw dairy, avocados, nuts and chocolate (yep - chocolate EVERY day, but only the 99% stuff), moderate amounts of animal protein (and a preference for organ meat over muscle meat - sweet breads, bone broths and liver mainly), and low carb levels, mainly from vegetables, with sweet potato and fruit from time to time and usually timed around higher intensity training. Sugar, processed foods, bad fats, grains and the like are now only eaten very occasionally and right before an immediate bout of regret, gut distress and tiredness/irritability! Amazing how badly your body reacts to the wrong foods after it gets used to the right ones. I'm not calling this a ketogenic diet, and I'm not testing my ketone levels to confirm whether I'm in ketosis or not, but from what I understand on this subject I'm going to have periods of producing ketones when I train fasted on MCT oil, and periods of more fat-adapted energy. Either way, it feels good and is easy and intuitive to follow, so I'll stick with it for now.
Tri Camp:

This was my third time with the Tri Camp crew, and it had to be 2.5 weeks this time as 1 just isn't enough! (it is really but I'm greedy). The great thing about extending the holiday is that you get a bonus day's training on the changeover days, and you get a second chance to tackle the various climbs on the routes in the itinerary the team have crafted. It also meant I got to spend time with three different groups of guests - inspirational guys and girls from all different walks of life who all share a passion for swim, bike and running.

If you haven't heard of Tri Camp, you can find them at Run by my coach Nick Dunn, they have a massive luxury house at the foot of the mountains, and cover every base for you to make sure you can focus on doing as little or as much training as you like, meaning that transfers, luxury accomodation, group training sessions (led by Nick and Heather, and this year supported by Medic/Massage Mike) and more food than you could ever eat are provided for you. Lou, the resident chef, specialises in dietary requirements, so all I needed to do is say that i'm paleo (the 'me' diet is harder to explain!) and she does the rest. My Wife Emily and i have actually come back with some great new recipes from Lou, where she takes standard western foods like pizza and makes them paleo friendly (all the taste with none of the stomach-somersaults!). The food was a lot higher in carbs than I had been used to, and my sugar monster was re-awakened with all the amazing paleo-friendly cakes that Lou created, but throwing in a couple of fasts around endurance sessions kept the fat-adaption in check. I also trialed an exciting new product called Superstarch, which drip feeds carbs into your bloodstream without switching off fat burning or causing an insulin response, and worked well for me.

The Island of Mallorca is tailor-made for triathlon, with the roads that are like Scalextric for cyclists. Favourite of course is the never-ending descent into Sa Calobra, which turns into a fierce time-trial climb back to the top. I got to tackle it twice this year, but couldn't climb any quicker than just under 31mins (taken from brown sign to brown sign). This was a minute slower than last year, but nothing to panic about given the focus on long distance over sprint this year. The real thrill comes from the descent of course. If you have 15mins, check out my GoPro footage of my first attempt. Not the fastest at 47.7kph average and a max of 65.5kph, but a bit of fun experimenting with the Go Pro and a couple of squeaky bum moments! Not really triathlon training, but lots of fun.
Tri Camp Mallorca and Seville DX2 Middle Distance Triathlon Report
Tri Camp Mallorca and Seville DX2 Middle Distance Triathlon Report
DX2 Middle Distance Triathlon Seville

So after a big training block in Mallorca, I headed straight to Seville for my first middle distance since Swtizerland 70.3 in 2010, and a chance to test my IM pacing. I planned to attack the event by focussing on my technique in the swim, holding 240W for the 85k bike, and then settling into a 4min/k run with an increase in pace in the last 6-7k if I could. The event was incredibly Spanish, to the extent that I think I was the only non Spanish speaker there. This made registration and recceing quite difficult, and little things like establishing whether the water would be handed out in proper bike bottles for example. The race was on the Saturday and I flew in on the Thursday night, but as the Airline had not loaded my bike, I spent the Friday bike-less and unable to recce the course, or go too far from the isolated sports campus I was stuck on with nothing but vending machines full of rubbish and the most disgusting school dinners-style canteen food on site. There was an English rowing team staying there too, and I overheard their briefing where their coach told them to just eat as much crap as they could, that it didn't matter what they ate as long as they got calories in, and if they didn't like the food to just cover it in ketchup! It's amazing how this notion has endured that athletes can eat whatever they like because they just 'burn it up'.

So onto the race. Extra early start to rack up and rock out to the Balearic beats that were pumping out of the speakers. When I saw the other competitors, I thought I'd accidentally entered an elite race, as everyone was so lean, tanned, shaved and dripping in tri bling with names on kit etc. Turns out that the Spanish just like to look good when they race, and they love their triathlon! With 10 minutes to go, I got in the river and positioned myself somewhere in the middle to the side as usual. Fog horn was sounded, and the calm river turned into a washing machine. All the guys around me had been pushing and shoving hard for position, but when we got going I realised that I has underestimated my newly improved swimming, and had to quickly start maneuvering around people. At one point I found myself getting boxed in, so employed a slightly cheeky technique i learnt while on camp where you grab the ankle of the guy in front of you with one arm, and then pull yourself over them and grab their shoulder with your other arm and effectively leap-frog over them! They are too busy trying not to drown to fight back, but it all happens so quick that you are gone before they are in any danger or even know what's happened! As the crowds cleared, I could focus on my technique and look for feet to draft, but gave up on that when I struggled to find anyone swimming in a straight line! Exited the water in 30m15s and onto the bike.

This was the first time I have raced with a power meter, and given the amount of testing I had done with it, I was able to relax into 240W and see how my body would react to this consistent output. Occasionally a tightness would develop in one of my glutes, or my neck would start to play up from the tuck, but after a while the pains would always subside and I would feel 100% again. I held the wattage on the climbs which resulted in a very low perceived effort, and have since learned that you can safely increase wattage on climbs for reasons of physics that are beyond me. I did actually try and answer the call of nature on each climb (or 'piss myself' in other words) as I have never tried this before and wanted to see where it would go and if would cause any problems (like skin irritations etc), but as much as I tried I just couldn't override the off-switch, and soon gave up on that idea. As I was fuelling this race on nothing but superstarch, I didn't need to worry about anything other than ensuring I picked up water from the stations rather than energy drinks. One very interesting observation from being so evenly paced on the bike was how erratic others can be. On quite a few occasions I'd have someone surge past me, only for me to breeze past them 10mins later, and have them stand up to surge past again! Funny how people's egos can get in the way of their race plans. I entered into T2 after a 2h14m06s bike split, and the confidence that I had found a power that I would be able to hold for double the distance.

Onto the run and straight into my planned 4min/k pace, I was surprised at how comfortable it felt, and how I had to hold back to stay on pace. As we entered a wooded area, I decided to stop and relieve my bladder properly rather than let it trickle down my leg, and decided to up the pace after the break to get the average back up to 4. I again had a few guys desperate to stay in front of me rather than race their own races, which kept me entertained as I watched them struggle! The atmosphere on the run route was incredible as it was lined with cheering spectators and drummers, and there were a couple of aid stations along the 4 lap course offering all sorts of bars, gels and drinks. I decided to stick to water for the first 13k, and then took a caffeine gel as an insurance policy (on the basis that sugar at that intensity will not touch the insulin response mechanism). Over the last 7k I gradually built up the pace, until I was heading to the finish as hard as I could with 3m45/k registering on my Garmin. As I rounded the corner and saw 4h08 on the clock, I couldn't help but punch the air and holler as I ran down the finished chute. I had pushed pretty hard, but still felt I had more to give which was a huge confidence boost as prep for my upcoming ironman.
Tri Camp Mallorca and Seville DX2 Middle Distance Triathlon Report
The organisers released a pretty slick video of the event - I make some brief cameos at the 00:29; 01:40 and 04:27 minute marks
Job done and back to the UK for a busy period of sprint racing in the London League and Crystal Palace Club Champs, before the big one in Scotland. I really enjoyed the race in Seville, and straight away entered some more middle distances back in the UK later in the year. Can't wait to give this distance another crack and properly race it, but in the meantime it's all about the Firth of Forth, the Glens of the Highlands, and The Ben!
by guest: , Sep 9th 2014 20:39
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