Great Britain and HUUB triathlete Tom Bishop has been a consistent performer on the World Triathlon Series for several years. In his second instalment from Australia's Gold Coast, the 28-year-old takes us inside the training camp as Team GB prepares for the season's first race and an uncertain summer ahead.
Just like the rest of the world, triathlon has been rocked by Coronavirus. It's been the unavoidable topic of conversation for all of us out here, especially with the World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi being just one among many cancellations.
We are racing Mooloolaba World Cup tomorrow as our opener, but it will only just happen in time. As of March 16, the Australian government are cancelling any event with more than 500 people in attendance. I'm hoping that the New Plymouth World Cup in a couple of weeks will still go ahead. It's a big deal for me as I'm trying to collect Olympic ranking points to qualify Great Britain's third spot. It's complicated, but basically, I need to race!
So, that's the context, but really it hasn't changed anything about our preparations on the Gold Coast. Our weeks have been fairly consistent up until taper week, and here's mine as a rough breakdown...
As you can see, there's a lot of volume. This is all very individual, and I'm one of the higher volume athletes on the British team. Others who favour volume are the Brownlees, Alex Yee, Non Stanford and Jess Learmonth, though the programme's philosophies and tradition are based on high volume, so most get plenty of work done.
High volume means you can't spend loads of time at high intensity, and so it is termed a polarised training program, which is between 80-90% easy aerobic training and 10-20% high intensity. My favourite part of training is the long steady miles, and that's simply all it is: 5min/km pace for running (roughly), around 180 watts for easy riding, and 1.20min/100m for swimming.
But here I'm going to focus on a couple of the high-intensity sessions. We have roughly five-to-six high-intensity sessions a week, comprising two swims, two runs and one-to-two rides.
Tuesday morning 'heart rate' session. The idea of this session is to raise the average heart rate throughout the set, so you end up spending 30mins on or above threshold. This is done through using short rest intervals (keeping the heart rate high) and also hard reps (to spike the heart rate). After around 2,000m of warming up, including drills and some sprints to prep the body, we swim around 2000m of the main set, with a range of reps from 50m-300m.
2x (300m as 100m f/c, 50m back x2, 200m drill-swim)
50m, 100m, 150m, 200m, pull & band
6x50m as 25m sprint/25m easy
Three times through:
300m @ 30 beats below max (off 4mins)
200m @ 20 beats below max (off 2:40)
100m @ 10 beats below max (off 1:20)
Choice aerobic cool down
Thursday afternoon. We used to ride the chain gang back in Leeds which is an excellent workout, however it only runs during the summer months and doesn't target all of the specific bike physiology zones.
60mins easy aerobic riding (150-200w), last 10mins slowly build to zone 3 (280-300w for me).
5x10sec max! 50sec recovery. Smash through the gears, maximal torque and cadence.
3mins hard/zone 5 (375w+) to simulate out of T1 chase.
15mins zone 3/through and off with group (280-300w).
(All twice through).
Saturday morning. This is our tempo session for the week, and we mix up the surfaces, sometimes grass, road or trail, and it often depends on the season. I prefer road. Although it can be damaging to the body if we spend too much time on the hardest surface, modern shoe technology seems to be offsetting the opinion of 'avoid the road at all costs'. We do a track session on a Tuesday for speed and VO2 max work which is important for ITU racing.
25mins easy run @5min/km
15mins tempo (3:10-3:20min/km or 20-30 beats below max hr)
2x3mins harder (3:00-3:05min/km or 20 beats below)
4x1min (2:50-2:55min/km or 10 beats below)
All with 90secs recovery
We tend to monitor our training thoroughly with GPS, heart rate and power devices. However, mine was damaged while swimming in the sea here, so I've done most of my training off feel which has been a nice change and something I might try and adopt in the future every now and again. Sometimes the body is the best judge of effort.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of our training. Let's hope it proves worthwhile and prepares us for the upcoming season... If we get one!
[Tom finished 14th in Mooloolaba, with fellow Brits and HUUB triathletes Ben Dijkstra, Alex Yee and Sam Dickinson placing fourth, 37th and 38th respectively. In the women's race, Britain's Olympic bronze medallist Vicky Holland took victory ahead of HUUB's Georgia Taylor-Brown, with GB's Sian Rainsley and Olivia Mathias in 18th and 19th. The ITU has subsequently announced that it is suspending all races and activities until April 30 due to the global spread of COVD-19.]