Alex Thompson Blog: Getting Things Started

  • By Alex Thompson
  • Published October 30, 2012

Hi, Welcome to the first edition of my triathlon Europe blog. In this blog I will be sharing with you guys the highs and lows of my training, showing not only my meticulous planning and attention to detail but some pretty funky graphs detailing how much I’ve done, and how well I’m doing. I also promise to share with you what I do when inevitably reality gets in the way. Not that I don’t like reality, James brown, Rimbaud and Bukowski are from reality, so lets not be too harsh on her. I’ll be like water moving around the rock in the stream, carrying on with my desired path without delay, rather than become stubborn and with it stuck in the stream.

So what’s my training going to look like and what am I doing now? Well I have a list of goals which I will move through over the course of the next nine or so months. Rather than be a rebel I will be following the guidelines of Tudor Bomba the father of periodisation. The first set of goals pertain to general athleticism, being a general all round balanced athlete, in the days of the soviet programme, all their would be athletes would have to pass a general fitness exam before going to their best suited sport. The test would include, sprints, strength exercises, jumps, throws, and endurance tests. Developing general athleticism will help prevent injury, and limit the likelihood of a platue in performance. You are only as strong as your weakest link and this time of year is when to address it.

For me the first goal in general development is acquiring adequate muscle mass for the coming season. Hardcore endurance training generally leads to some loss of muscle mass, so gaining a small buffer of excess muscle will come in handy so I have the right amount for me come race day. I’m going for a rough goal of around 76-77KG, at 6-7% bodyfat, giving me a BMI of around 22. Because weight lifting has been a staple of my off season, being generally strong enough is not going to be a limiter)

Because of my muscle gaining goal I’ll be taking my gym sessions seriously, even if it means compromising overall volume. In addition to the general strength I will be supplementing it with specific strength for biking and running (for my swimming strength is not something I need to worry about). Sessions include Big gear hill work on the bike with intervals based on around 80% peak torque, and hilly bounds for running. Because all this is still exercise I’ll still be hitting solid training stress over this block.

To track everything in a way I understand I have developed my own excel programme. When tracking training, it is easy to get carried away chasing numbers which ultimately lead to below ideal training (i.e. tracking miles cycled, total hours, even fitness) because of this I built in some check in points to make sure I’m not getting carried away. For example while I log my wattage for my long ride of the week, I mostly look at my watts per BPM. If it was just wattage I’d be tempted to just go harder and harder every week, but because of the heart rate, it encourages me to keep in my steady zone and then watch my watts creep up and my heart rate stay roughly the same.

All this couldn’t be done without spending three seasons under the watchful microscope of triathlons mad professor, Alan Couzens. This is a short list of things Alan can put objective and reliable numbers for, let it be noted that it takes a year’s worth of carefully logged data to be able to see how an athlete responds to training.

1) How quickly someone gets fit
2) How quickly someone sheds fatigue
3) How tired someone can get without becoming over-trained
4) How fit someone needs to be to achieve a certain goal
5) What is the best average weekly intensity which elicits the best training response.

All these things can be quantified, and as they are fairly constant, with an expert eye, lead to predictions. Alan’s microscope gave me the rules, so now planning and executing my training is like playing the blues. By this I mean, sticking to the rules, and you will make beautiful music without having to try too hard, providing you know can play your instrument.

Enjoy your training,


You can get more information about Alex on his Facebook page or on Twitter: XIronmanAlexX

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