September 2012 summary. Recovery, powermeters and the 5:2 diet

Run 64km/6
Cycle 678km/11
Swim 10400m/4
Erg 56km/6
Weights 1:00/1

Hours 35:56 (8:23 per week)
Rest days 5

After an excellent ride in the Port Talbot Wheelers 25, a PB, hanging on to the tail of what fitness I had left over at the end of the season, it’s been time to relax a bit. I went to give blood soon after, but, as has happened in the past, found I was too anaemic to do so. My haematocrit is probably below 37%. I must be trying very hard in my racing to go as quickly as I can, and if I was ever to take EPO, I’d be a great responder! I’ve taken some big rests in my running and have finally managed to shake off that creaky feeling in my right achilles tendon. Just in time – I’ve got the Oxford half-marathon in mid-October, and the Luton marathon in mid-November. Despite a reduction in training volume, I managed to get around the Henley Hilly 100 audax at the end of the month OK, although unusually it took me a couple of days to recover.

We took a bit of a break in the New Forest for a long weekend, in between Jules’ shifts. Although it was pretty wet on the last day or two it was nice to get away from home, chill out with a good book. I definitely feel the need for some downtime from racing and so on (although we’re already starting to plan next season’s club TT programme – it never stops…)

Power meter
I’ve got the Oxford City RC club PowerTap wheel on loan at the moment (along with an Edge 705 to record the data). I’ve been toying with going down the power route of measuring my cycling for the last year or two (although I’ve collected over 5 years of it I’m finding heart rate data not as useful as I’d hoped in cycling – it’s slightly better for running though), and was hoping that the Garmin Vector would be it – a pedal-based system would’ve suited me, with the various types of bikes/trike I own. However, its launch has been delayed until February 2013 at least, and some other players (e.g. StagesOne) have come on the market, as well as an upgrade to the Power2Max crank to cure temperature drift.

Anyway, I’ve been having fun playing with this system, and have done a 10-mile TT test in training to see how it works in operation. There’s a lot of data to consume and analyse, and I’ve bought myself a copy of Training and Racing with a Power Meter so I can understand it further. I think I’ll have more to say about it once I’ve done some more riding/testing with it.

The 5:2 diet
There was a very interesting programme on the BBC’s Horizon series in August: “Eat, Fast and Live Longer“. There was a guy on another Horizon programme about calorie restriction that was aired about 20 years ago, doing much the same thing (although in that one, this chap was only interviewed in passing – he used a sort of alternate day fasting plan to keep himself lean for running without having to do mega-miles). It struck a bit of a chord with me – much of my training seems  to be just there to keep my weight off, although whatever I do, I always gain and lose the same 5 kg every autumn/spring. It’s almost temperature-dependent with me. For instance, this summer wasn’t so hot, so I didn’t get quite as lean as I have done in previous years.

I liked the idea that the alternate-day fasting regime stops your metabolism from being “always-on” (“go-go-go” Michael Mosley refers to it), and forces it into a period of self-recovery. It seems to have health benefits beyond just reducing your calorie intake and lowering your body fat percentage – there is a reduced risk to cancer, diabetes and possibly alzheimer’s. All the diseases of old age that we’re keen to avoid. I’ve been trying the 5:2 version (2 fasting days a week – I’m mostly doing Monday and Thursday) now for a month, and so far it’s not been too bad at all. Despite cutting my training volume down by half to 7 hours a week or less, I’ve managed to stave off my usual autumnal weight increase. This is good – I’d like to have a life beyond racing and training all the time, long-term – it’s wearing me down! I’m noticing a definite improvement in my well being and sleep too. Time will tell how I can cope with it over a longer period.