Daily Log 29 April 2011



Aim low. Train small.

Aim High. Train big.

Which one gives a better result?

There are 83 days left to the Port Dickson International Triathlon which makes it 12 weeks from today. I will start my 12 weeks Sprint Triathlon training come this monday. I believe the brain is a powerful thing, more powerful than we can ever imagine. If you give it a problem or a challenge it will work on it until it finds a solution. Of course you have to make sure you ask the right question otherwise the answer will just not make sense or even worse, the answer is completely contrary to what you want.

So today I gave it a problem to solve and I’m giving my brain 12 weeks to find the solution. In exactly 12 weeks from tonight it will be the eve of my first sprint triathlon event and in approximately 10 hours time I will begin the race. So today, I simulated the sprint triathlon by doing a brick workout. Though I’ve done brick workouts before, this is the first time I did all three disciplines in a single (well singlish anyway) workout. I went to the pool and swam 1.3km, rushed back home and did a 20km bike ride followed immediately by a 5km run. Though the racing conditions won’t be the same (I think there was a gap of about 40 minutes between my swim and bike workout), it’s close enough. In week 12 I intend to do the same workout and hopefully I will do it at Port Dickson itself (but that’s another story).

Having done the workout, all I have to do is just ask myself (and my brain) what is the solution to me completing the sprint triathlon with the following time:

Swim – 12 minutes
T1 – 3 minutes
Bike – 25 minutes
T2 – 3 minutes
Run – 30 minutes

Total Time – 73 minutes

That looks, sounds and feels like an awfully ambitious target and it is. In last years race, the winner, Simon Cross, did it in 59 minutes 17 secs and if I were to have competed in the Sprint last year, I would have come 7th.

Will I be able to do it? Is it possible?

I haven’t got a clue but I’d like to make a go at it and train for it. To achieve the time, I have to improve the following:

Swim- Cut my current 50m time from 90 secs to 48 secs. Can I do it? My swim Coach Saiful seems to think so. I won’t be able to tell until I have my first official triathlon swim workout next week.

Bike- This is the most unknown factor of all. I still do most (nearly all) of my bike workout on the trainer at home as I haven’t gotten over this fear of open road on the bike and I’m still dodging the issue. I can achieve a 30 minute time on the bike over 20km but there’s no wind and I’m not sure if the resistance is accurate.

Run- I have to cut 10 minutes from 39 mins 15 secs (my personal best at 5km at the moment) if I wanted to achieve my target. I think this is possible especially if I keep on losing weight. If I get to 80kg by the time I get to the event, I think 30 minutes if possible.

Transition- I have to start developing my transition strategy for both T1 and T2. Again, I;m not sure if the target is reasonable. I just have to figure it out.

I will revisit this in 6 weeks time and I’ll revise the time (up or down I’m not so sure). By that time I would have gone open water in my swimming, be on the road regularly with the bike and also start running on the road instead of in the park.

In the meantime, I’ll visualise the race as much as I can. Read up as much as I can. Learn as much as I can so that my brain can provide me with the solution as well as the will to do it.

So there you go. Aim big and train for it. Wouldn’t it just be fantastically brilliant if I do achieve it?


Today brick workout was HARD. Probably the hardest workout I’ve had for a long time. Despite being hard, it was also FUN and SATISFYING. There’s nothing like going all out for something and today I did go all out. Sure, the transition between swimming and biking was about 40 minutes (had to drive home from the pool) but it didn’t make the bike and run any easier for me. As I said above, this is all part of the mental strategy I’ve decided to go through.


I swam 24 laps today still averaging about 90 secs per lap. I did take a lot of breaks in between laps which is why the swim time was about 63 minutes.

The main focus today was just to swim and I wanted to feel how my swimming technique is like.  I know that my stroke count is lower (less than 50 now). It’ll be interesting to see how my first triathlon swimming session goes next week.

My POLAR data as follows:

Time 63 minutes
Average heart rate 67% MHR
Calories 699 kcal


40 minutes later it’s time to get on the bike trainer. I didn’t do my usual 15 minutes warm up as I wanted to send my heart rate high from the get go. This was supposed to be a hard one and it was.


In the last few weeks, I had to go through this ‘want to quit’ phase on my bike workouts and it usually takes about 10 minutes before I am able to quite down those thoughts. I didn’t really have those thoughts today. Utmost on my mind is to complete the 20km as soon as possible and I was pedaling quite rigorously for the first 10 minutes. After that I began to settle down to a rhythm. The ast 10 minutes was painful for me as fatigue set in and I was getting worried about my run. I had some clip on aero bars installed on my bike but never really used it as it was awkward. My legs always bows out whenever I tried to get aero. Today was very different and my legs weren’t bowing out so much and I was able to pedal faster. I couldn’t sustain the aero position very long though as my back started to complain. But it’s a great start. I just have to spend some time working on my core to make it strong enough to withstand the aero position.

My POLAR data are as follows:

Average Heart Rate 75 % MHR
Average pace 1.31 min per km
Average Cadence 77
Distance covered 20 km
Calories 420 kcal
Time 30 min

As I said earlier, I don’t know if I’d get the same performance in actual road riding conditions so riding on the road is now the most important priority.

When my POLAR indicated 20km I stopped and got into the transition. My initial feeling was of worry and fear. My legs felt like jelly and I started to get scared of the run. At that time I was really contemplating giving this all up, shutting down this blog and crawl into a hole somewhere.


I had put on my riding helmet as well as gloves for the bike workout so that I can see how efficient I am in getting out of the and into my running gear. I had earlier swapped my pedals and cycling shoes for some clip ons and trainers. I was all over the place in preparing for the run. I wasn’t sure whether I should take my gloves off first or take my helmet off and when to do that.

Despite that I did get changed into my running shoes eventually. My legs still felt like jelly on the way to the park.


I got to my usual starting line at the park and began my 14 laps. My legs felt heavy and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this’. I was exhausted and more thoughts of quitting came to my mind. The only thing I could do was to talk to myself and I started to mumble,

‘You’ve done this before. There’s nothing different about it’,

‘Tell me how to do this’,

‘It’ll get better soon’,

‘You’ve trained hard for this. You can do it’.

I think people must have thought I was nuts mumbling to myself like that. There was another guy walking in the opposite direction. He must be really amused every time I passed him.

The first 5 laps was painful. All I could think about was reaching lap 7 which would signal that I’m halfway there. My POLAR keep indicating that my heart rate was getting higher and higher with each lap.

By the time I got to lap 7 it was indicating 85% MHR. Strangely I felt my legs getting stronger with each lap and though the mental stress was still there, things became easier.

I was relieved when lap 7 came. Halfway there.

One thing I realised though was that even though my heart rate was getting higher with each lap, my pace was also getting faster. These were the lap times:

Lap 1 3:12
Lap 2 3:09
Lap 3 3:04
Lap 4 3:02
Lap 5 2:56
Lap 6 2:52
Lap 7 2:54
Lap 8 2:56
Lap 9 2:50
LAp 10 2:54
Lap 11 2:54
Lap 12 2:54
Lap 13 2:52
Lap 14 2:50

I started to do a mental countdown after lap 7.

7 laps to go.

6 laps to go.

5 laps to go.

4 laps to go.

3 laps to go.

2 laps to go.

1 lap to go.

When I reached the end line, there was a mixture of complete relief as well as a twinge of sadness that it did finish.

My POLAR data as follows:

Time 40 mins 39 secs
Average cadence 76
Average stride length 62cm
Average Heart Rate 86% MHR
Running distance 5 km
Calories burnt 698 kcal

I can’t seem to find the average stride length at the moment. I’ve downloaded all the data to the computer and have erased all data on the watch. 62 cm is an approximation.

Not a bad time at all. It’s just 84 secs off my personal best and that’s after the swim and the bike and all the mental and physical torture I put myself through. In fact it’s the 3rd fastest I’ve ever run the 5km in.

The most suprising thing for me was my average heart rate. To sustain an average of 86% MHR for 40 minutes is quite phenomenal and it’s the first time I did it. In fact during the last 3 laps I was hitting 88% -90% MHR. I never thought I could do that.

I think part of the reason was that I let myself go during the run. I wasn’t really paying attention to my POLAR watch other than making sure I get the lap time as well as the occasional glance to see my heart rate.


Well, there you go. Tonight I’m going to do some visualisation for the actual event. Now all I must do is stick the plan. Follow my instincts and allow my brain to face the challenge of my 73 minute Sprint Triathlon.

Aim low. Train small.
Aim High. Train big.
Which one gives a better result?

Let’s see what happens in 6 weeks time when I do this again.

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