CELTMAN TRAINING CAMP, TORRIDON
As I write this blog, we are just under 8 weeks out from the Celtman, the first main race of the season. The way I structure my training means I am currently deep into the build phase of my program. Race specific challenging workouts are the key during this phase, the previous months of training have all been keyed to get to this point ready for some serious work. I believe it is the next 3/4 weeks training, will ultimately make the difference on race day. It means a little more rest between sessions/blocks but we need this to get stronger. Luckily race specific for me means more time in the mountains, hills and lakes. Time for a trip to Torridon to test the fitness on the Celtman course, cant get more specific than that!
The forecast for the 4 day trip was not great but after the amazing weather of the last 2 weeks I decided it would be a good test and toughen me up a bit. During the 4 days we had everything from sunshine, snow, wind and rain. Very different to last year, it was back to full winter in the hills but at no point did the weather or conditions interfere with the quality of training. The weather gods played ball but still threw a few tests our way to keep us on our toes.
I find its important to have a plan and some goals for trips like this, so I had key sections and some splits from last year that I planned race pace efforts on. For running, the climb out of t2, the main climb from T2a and most importantly the final descent to the road from the Loch under the triple buttress. I lost time here last year, its the only part of the race I felt I under performed so it has been a key focus in training so far. More running hard downhill, which I avoided last year. On the bike the plan was to ride 95% of the course and make a few efforts along the way. Swimming in Loch Shieldaig was also on the cards, just to get used to the temperature and remind myself that its not that bad ;).
We based ourselves at the amazing SMC Ling hut, the perfect base, everything you need and sitting under Ben Eighe looking up at the trig point, no shortage of inspiration.
Day 1- Bike- 191km- 2400M ascent
We started in Glen Torridon, a few miles from the finish line, road the whole course to Achnasheen, then headed back over to Torridon via Kinlochewe. Steve dusted off his bike and joined me for the whole trip, having barely ridden this bike for ages this is some feat of endurance, from the couch to 195km is a pretty big ask! The day was perfect for it. The big learning point and a reminder for me was its a long way from Garve to Achnasheen (espcially if you are low on calories!) and even further to T2. I hit an effort from Braemore Junction to the end of Loch Glascarnoch and down to into Garve. Its really fast here, but would be really easy to burn too much and suffer on the drag from Garve to T2. It needs a bit of attention to pacing for sure. A lack of attention to nutrition lead too a tough climb back over and down to Kinlochewe. Another lesson learnt/reminded.
Day 2- Swim- 1.3km and Run 19km, Ben Eighe mountain section
First swim, tide was a bit low and the windy conditions made for a choppy sea, not ideal for quality training but it could be like this on race day so good to get in and get it done. Its also good to see the hard work in the pool has payed off (Blair Davies). Temp was about 8.5 degrees, think its gonna be a cool one this year! Tried out the Zone3 Neoprene Warmer Vest with my VictoryD suit, no problem with the cold, core nice and warm,
The run was interesting with full winter conditions on the tops and large patches of neve guarding the exit to the ridge below the trig point. No problem, we found an alternative way round the back, all part of the fun. Still got the important split, 3mins up on last year to just below the ridge, felt comfortable too. The ridge had plenty of snow which made for difficult running and the traverse into the col at the top of the gully was guarded by more neve. The next key section was the downhill from the Lochan overflow below triple buttress. Rough but very runable if your comfortable on fell type terrain. This is where I struggled last year, on what should be my specialty. 4 mins quicker and again more comfortable. Another successful day.
Day 3- Brick- Torridon to T2 bike- 43km- Coulin Pass run- 15km- Swim- 900m
The aim of today’s session was to ride the bike hard enough to have a bit of it in the legs when starting the run, the key section being the climb from T2 to the top of the Coulin pass. Same split time, but lower average HR and peak HR. Good signs. We were met with a blizzard at the top, like I said conditions were different to last years sunshine but its all very good training.
The weather miraculously cleared in the afternoon, so finished the day off with another choppy, low tide, fresh swim. Sure this is great for recovery. So was the refueling Pizza and chips from Shieldaig Bar, awesome does not do it justice! Perfect end to the day.
Day 4- Run- 15km, Final road finish and back.
Legs well and truly toasted by now, bit like they will be at the end of the race so the perfect chance to run the final road section. The sessions goal was keep a steady pace for the first half, then lift the effort level a bit on the way back. I could certainly feel the last 3 days in my legs but kept the cadence up, time for a bit of visualization of the finish of Celtman, on tired legs.
So another 4 tough days in the bank, The total hours for this six day block added up to 27hrs, a big week for sure. I also managed a good weeks training last week, so recovery has been great. Another solid week to go before an easy week leading into the first triathlon of the season, The Slateman in North Wales. Cannot wait!
Massive thanks to Steve from MovieIT and his Peter for the photos, film, company and laughs along the way.