It’s been a big week at Club La Santa. When my friend Roger Canham emailed me inviting me to stay with him out there I jumped at the chance. When he told me there’d also be his teenage daughter and several of her friends I made sure I packed ear plugs!
I’ve been on Lanzarote and in La Santa enough to know how good it is for training. I was even willing to ease up a little before heading out. A concentrated training camp can do wonders for fitness, but you have to be careful not to over do things in the lead in or aftermath. The full benefits come from serious overload followed by recovery.
I’m afraid this post is epic in size you may need to set aside some time!
Day 0 – Thursday – 1.5km Swim, 0km Bike, 11km Run
I’d booked an early flight to give plenty of time for training on arrival. It almost worked, but I failed to factor in how tiring the journey and night spent in Gatwick would be. I had fantasies of logging several hours right then and there, but a short run and swim were all I felt up to.
Day 1 – Friday – 6km Swim, 107km Bike, 22.5km Run
Fortunately I made up for lost sleep on the first night and woke feeling refreshed. A good job as I’d big plans for the day. I had ideas for structuring the week and thought I’d see how they overlapped with Roger’s plans. Having a training partner makes a big difference if you’re both pushing each other and I know Roger and I are well matched in this respect.
With a Gold medal at European Long Distance Champs only a few days in the past Roger’s plans involved less training than I intended. Having just taken on a Torbjorn Sindballe as a coach Roger was unsurprisingly keen to stick to the recovery sessions.
We headed to the pool just after 7am and got stuck in to our respective swim sets. I must admit I wasn’t feeling it and found the swimming frustrating. Once I was out the water it was off for the first run of the day around my favourite trail from La Santa. A little bit hilly to start, but beyond the first 3km it rolls on quiet roads.
Run done and brekkie eaten (scrambled eggs with ham and cheese my daily staple out there) Roger and I headed off for a ride. With recovery his focus Roger needed half the ride I’d planned so we parted ways and I went South for a circuit of El Golfo. To stop me slacking Roger reminded me he didn’t expect to see me before 4 hours of riding was up.
With my run focus when I got back it was out on the roads for the second and longer run of the day. Nothing too fast at this point, just logging the distance. This was my first time discovering the pleasure of the lagoon loops I dread to think of how many times I’ve circled that now!
Clearly well motivated I finished with a second swim racking up some serious hours of training. I wondered how long I could keep that volume up though.
Day 2 – Saturday – 3km Swim, 101km Bike, 31km Run
The plan for day two was effectively repeat day one. Not very imaginative, but it would let me notch up run mileage and keep biking ticking along. Much as it wasn’t a priority when you have the roads of Lanzarote to hand it seems a crime not to use them.
Mostly things did go to plan I just got a bit carried away running and went further than intended in both morning and afternoon sessions. Enough that I didn’t fancy the idea of another double swim day so made do with just the morning set.
Day 3 – Sunday – 6.1km Swim, 0km Bike, 23km Run
I’d planned my long run for today and chosen a nice hilly route from La Santa to Tinajo via side roads. Before I could do that it was back in the pool at 7am when it’s normally nice and quiet. I took the time to have breakfast before hitting the roads. Fatigue was already setting in it wasn’t time to be going short.
I’d run this route in the lead in to the Ironman and forgotten how challenging it is. There’s a lot of climbing to the roundabout in Tinajo and once there it’s a long down hill. Easy on the aerobic system, not so kind on the legs! To make up more time I threw in another lap round the lagoon for good measure. By the end my legs were shattered and pace dropped.
Thoughts of a recovery ride went out the window. I was tired and riding from La Santa means climbing straight from the door. Hard to ride easy when you’re either going up hill or into the wind. I popped into the gym for a bit of core and weight work then took another dip in the pool to ensure I made the most of my time!
Day 4 – Monday – 3km Swim, 108km Bike, 21km Run
Roger’s program was starting to ramp up so I was keen to join him. We were out early for a four hour ride with 45 minutes of intensity to finish. Both nervous about the session and a little uncertainty how it would go. I wasn’t expecting much from my now quite sore legs.
Despite that fear when the interval started things picked up. I surprised myself riding increasingly strongly and by the end I was right where I wanted to be and felt I still had more. A great session that showed how you can push beyond what you think.
The hard work wasn’t over when we returned it was straight out for a short run at a tough pace for fatigued legs. Roger guided by his Polar immediately hit the 4:30 minute/kilometre pace. I took time to warm-up and after he’d gapped me was working hard to hold him at 50m. A bit of determination kicked in and in the final kilometre I put in a spurt surging past him up the short rise to the La Santa roundabout.
Whilst Roger was mostly done for the day I’d more to go. We went for a swim session and then I threw in another run to up the mileage. A much easier pace than the first effort. By this point I’d found I could settle in and sustain around 5 minutes/km indefinitely.
Day 5 – Tuesday – 0km Swim, 0km Bike, 31.1km Run
Throughout the week Club La Santa offers lots of events and it would be a shame not to join in with at least one. I talked myself into running the Tuesday Half-marathon. A hilly course reversing a lot of Sunday’s long run route. It was soon apparent I wasn’t going to be the fastest guy there. Three people put 100m into me in the first kilometre and I had no response.
I toughed it out and even though this was training found the nominal ‘race’ was enough to give me an extra push. That said by halfway I was in pain and glad to meet Roger for the final few kilometres. He helped me focus and maintain a comfortable sub 4:30 minute/km pace. I was surprised to be running this well as I notched up my 100th kilometre since arriving in Lanza.
Race done and I was gone! Again plans for an easy ride vanished and it was another case of a gym trip along with a very easy 10km run. Much as I was tired I needed to notch up miles on route to the weekly goal.
Day 6 – Wednesday – 3.7km Swim, 129km Bike, 9.5km Run
Another big day in Roger’s schedule. Despite being shattered I was willing to play along. We were at the pool for seven prompt to knock out 4km. As usual I started slowly and struggled to keep pace with Roger until about 1km in.
Eventually I got moving and was really getting into a rhythm when the mini-tri started. In fact they didn’t wait for me to finish a set and I suddenly collided with one of the triathletes pounding down the lane. At least given him a taste of what a swim start could really be like! Frustratingly 300m short of the target, but no time to hang around I got out and went for second breakfast.
Today’s bike was a larger version of Monday’s – five hours with a full hour at intensity to finish. Monday had reassured me that the session was manageable, but the way my legs felt was worrying. The next three and a half hours passed painfully, but neither of us vocalised our thoughts of bailing. When we hit the bottom of Timanfaya it was time to go.
It’s funny how fast an hour of pain passes. We pushed as hard as we could despite protestations from our legs. Once again I was surprised with what I achieved. I liked the session a lot and can see it becoming a regular along with the weekly threshold set. Job done it was an easy roll back to La Santa for another transition run.
I made no attempt to hold a good pace my legs were totally shot and the hilly route I’d agreed proved agonising! Roger kindly waited for me at a couple of points and reassured me it was impressive enough after all the running I’d done. I was having far more negative thoughts even annoyed with Roger for ‘making’ me have to try to keep up!
There was no more training that day.
Day 7 – Thursday – 6.3km Swim, 46km Bike, 10km Run
I woke ravenous after yesterday’s efforts. If nothing else this week made big in-roads towards race weight! We rode out extra early to grab breakfast in Teguise and be back with time to pack. It proved too early for the cafes of Teguise and we ended up back in Famara where we breakfasted on what was apparently six portions of tortilla (tiny portions it seems).
All packed for my late flight I still had ten hours to kill, plenty of time to train. The first stop was the gym where I hoped serious effort with the foam roller would loosen off my tight glutes, hamstrings, ITBs etc! I think it worked, certainly when I ran that evening things felt a bit better.
Despite lethargy and low motivation I pushed through a 6.3km swim set without interruptions. Pleased to have that done and starving again I quickly had something to eat before even contemplating the run. Once more a motivational hurdle had to be overcome to get out there for those last few lagoon laps.
I’d promised myself a trip to the Atlantico buffet to finish the week. Things seemed to have been scaled back since my last visit. Disappointing at first then I discovered that a leaner me couldn’t manage half what I’d previously eaten there. I ensured I got my money’s worth in steak and other paleo treats of course. Uncomfortable full it was enough to get me home without the need to snack. A miracle when normally airports are an endless excuse to eat.
So back home in the UK recounting this epic tale! I’ll save any analysis of data for another time it’s long enough already!
From nutrition to pacing - a collection of CoachCox blog posts focused specifically on Ironman training and racing.