Ironman Training 2.0

The initial jubilation at securing my entry for IM Australia 2012 was short lived. It was replaced by a sense of trepidation for the challenge that lies ahead. I’m not looking to break any records, in fact I often joke that my best chance of qualifying for Hawaii will be to keep racing into my 90’s so I can be in an age group of 1! Jokes aside I want to get myself to the start line in the best possible shape. Time is against me in that I work a minimum of 50 hours a week and rarely have the option to train at lunch. Last season was a bit of a disappointment as I felt my race times were well below my potential so I know something needs to change.

I often see parallels between leadership within the corporate and sporting world and as a leader in my corporate life I participate in a range of leadership development activities and events. It was at one of these events, hosted by the incredible Vaughan Felton http://www.vf.com.au/, where the concept of Thinking, Behaviours, Outcomes was introduced. Essentially we all have goals in life be it weight loss, job satisfaction, relationship satisfaction or completing an Ironman. For the most part we know what behaviours are required to achieve these outcomes but we don’t change our thinking e.g I know I need to eat healthy food to lose weight but I still buy junk when I’m at the supermarket. The point is it’s hard to change routines and to think differently, as human beings we are reluctant to change. This applied to my training approach over the past 12 months and it made me realise if I want a different outcome I need to think and behave differently.

I’m now one month into a new look training plan and the results so far have been encouraging. This plan has been compiled mostly from information freely available on the internet and I wanted to share this in case any other athletes are looking for some encouragement to change their approach. Firstly I want to pay tribute to the folks at http://www.active.com, their site is an absolute goldmine of information and a great place to start if you are looking for some fresh ideas.

My training strategy is based on four key themes 1) quality over quantity – race pace and high intensity sessions are king 2) join the gym – weights and core strength to maximise power and technique 3) Get the most from the day – early morning sessions to maximise training 4) invest in recovery – extended rest periods, lots of stretching and massage

Here are some resources that form part of my new look plan –

Strength training
http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/Mark_Allen_s_12_Best_Strength_Exercises.htm

Core strength
http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/Stability-Ball_Exercises_to_Build_Strength_and_Flexibility.htm 

Shoulder strength
http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/4-Exercises-to-Improve-Your-Aero-Position.htm

Cycling stretches
http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles/Improve_your_aero_positioning_with_these_five_stretches.htm

My biggest weakness has been my run so I invested in some training sessions with Mark Howard, check out his website at http://www.runningcoachmelbourne.com/. Mark helped improve my run technique and designed a track session to build endurance and speed. In case you’re not aware Melbourne Olympic park is in the process of being knocked down and can be used for free until the diggers move in towards the end of the year. It’s a great track and a beautiful venue for an early morning session.

One thing completely new that I’m trying is a rest and recovery period every fourth week. This is a total ‘down tools’ week with maybe one swim or a run but no weights and no biking. My logic here is recovery is vital and I have plenty of time before the season starts. Time will tell if this adds value, I’m in my first rest week now so will see how I bounce back next week.

I’ll continue to post any other useful resources I come across and, as always, welcome feedback.

Ironman Australia 2012, locked and loaded

In one of my previous blog posts I mentioned that full distance ironman and me have unfinished business. Well in less than 12 months I’ll be having another crack at the toughest sporting challenge as I take on Ironman Australia at Port Macquarie in New South Wales. Just entering the race was a challenge as the demand for Ironman places in Australia has reached new levels. The initial 1,450 race places sold out in 30 mins and 100 additional places sold out in under 10 minutes. You may recall from a previous blog post that I’m a strong supporter of a third Ironman race in Australia and the speed with which Port Mac sold out demonstrates the huge demand for Ironman down under.

There seems to be a sense of frustration growing within the Australian triathlon community with the way the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is treating Australia. I don’t think I could put this into words as eloquently as Luke McKenzie who wrote a fantastic article on the state of Ironman in Australia. He raises a number of concerns such as insufficient races to satisfy demand despite the introduction of  new races in other parts of the world. The double whammy is that Australian races are being downgraded in terms of prize money and Hawaii qualifying slots which explains the lack of big global names competing down under. To put this into perspective Pete Jacobs picked up $4,500 for winning IM Australia earlier this month and the winner of Challenge Cairns (a non WTC event) will take home close to $75,000. Australia has an illustrious Ironman heritage, an Australian male has won the world championships in Hawaii four out of the past five years and both the current male and female world champions are Australian. Despite this we are seeing more investment (and hawaii places) going into races like Ironman China – which ended up being cancelled. It feels like the WTC sees the future of the sport outside of Australia and assume they are guaranteed income whatever the race. It’s tough to argue with this given the speed with which Port Mac sold out and the fact that there are still entries available for challenge cairns next month. However I would like to think that the Australian IM community will not stand for this long term. Speaking for myself if the current trend continues I’ll certainly be shifting my hard earned $ to races like challenge cairns rather than WTC events.

realestate.com.au to sponsor DevOps down under

I’m delighted to announce that realestate.com.au will be sponsoring the DevOps down under event to be held in Melbourne on July 22 & 23. As part of our commitment to the event we will support bringing a globally recognised DevOps guru to provide the key note speech. Keep your eye on http://devopsdownunder.org/ for VERY exciting announcements 🙂

Hope to see you there!

If you’re new to DevOps this blog posting courtesy of @damonedwards is a great place to start http://dev2ops.org/blog/2010/2/22/what-is-devops.html

Got feedback? Try the toilet

We launched something a little different at realestate.com.au today. Like many dot coms we are growing at a rapid rate and, as an IT management team, we want to ensure we maintain a fantastic culture as we grow. The best way to gauge our culture is to engage our people and foster an environment where they feel comfortable sharing feedback – good and bad. The challenge is that as the team grows the introverts, like me, feel less comfortable sharing their thoughts in public forums and we run the risk of missing out on valuable feedback.

We discussed this with our extremely resourceful communications manager and she shared her experience from a previous company who was struggling with a similar challenge. They decided to put a toilet in the office (not plumbed) and if staff think something is shit write it on a card and leave it in the toilet. Every month or so empty the toilet, read the feedback and take action where appropriate.

We thought this was an awesome idea so following our last management team meeting I (to the delight of our delivery manager) had a minuted action to purchase a toilet!  Last weekend I headed down to Bunnings, now this in it’s own right was an experience as I have never actually bought anything from Bunnings. I have absolutely zero DIY / handyman experience, in fact it’s lucky I was born in the digital era otherwise I would be unemployed and homeless.  Anyway after much deliberation an appropriate toilet (porcelain not plastic, I’m not a cheapskate) was purchased and unveiled in the office today (see above) complete with some blank cards and a marker.

Time will tell how effective the ‘feedback toilet’ is as a culture barometer, it was well received by the team today with plenty of laughs and looks very much at home in the middle of the office! I’ll blog again soon when the toilet is unblocked for the first time 🙂

Splunk Live Australia – My presentation

I’ve been at the Splunk live events in Melbourne and Sydney this week talking about how Splunk adds value to realestate.com.au. The sessions have been well received and it’s been great to here what innovation Splunk have coming down the pipeline and how innovative IT shops are applying Splunk to a wide range of business and IT issues. Here are my slides from the session

splunk live april 2011

Splunk Live and re-entering the blogosphere

Back in January I set myself a goal of blogging at least once a week and did a pretty good job until late Feb. Like many of us I’ve been flat out in the day job and not finding time, or energy, for reflection and discussion. Earlier this week over coffee I was discussing the importance of making time to stay abreast of the industry and networking with fellow professionals. My coffee date referenced a cartoon set in medieval times where a king is standing at the gates of his castle fighting off an invading horde, swinging his sword at a never ending army. Behind him is a man holding a gattling gun saying “do you have a minute to talk?” and the king, not looking behind him, responds “I don’t have time for a meeting”. I’ve spent the last few months fighting a few battles and it’s left me wondering how many gattling gun bearing meeting requestors I’ve declined.

Today I gave a presentation at Splunk live in Melbourne (I’ll also be at the Sydney event later this week) covering three use cases for Splunk at realestate.com.au. The presentation reminded me of the importance of active community involvement, networking, and staying abreast of the market. Over the course of my presentation today I think I may have provided a few people with their own gattling guns and I certainly saw some powerful weapons coming down the Splunk production line. But most importantly it was awesome talking to fellow IT professionals, sharing war stories, hearing what they are working on, problems they are facing, and innovative solutions they have come up with. So tonight I’m inspired to get back into the blogosphere 🙂 I can’t promise I’ll stick to my weekly blogging aspirations but I will do my best.

I’ll post my slides from Splunk live later this week

Funky training gadgets for tri dorks

On the flight back to Melbourne tonight I picked up the Qantas magazine and saw a feature on a really cool training gadget, the swimsense performance monitor. It looks like a normal watch but has some tech smarts enabling it to capture distance, stroke count, distance per stroke and all of this can be uploaded and analysed via a reporting tool. How cool is that?! Yeah yeah I know it’s dorky and I could probably work all that out with my $20 digital watch but us tri dorks like gadgets and data. This got me thinking about some of the other funky training gadgets and innovative products I’ve seen, unfortunately most of which I don’t own.

I was asked the question today how you avoid your glasses fogging up when cycling. This is not something I worry about since I purchased of a pair of Oakley Jawbone glasses. The clever dudes at Oakley add small ventilation holes around the edge of the lenses which enable air flow and prevent fogging. I can honestly say they work a treat and, as you expect with Oakley, the quality of the lenses are outstanding. Don’t stress when you see the price tag, I picked up a pair on ebay brand new with tags for AU$160 so shop around.

When I entered my first Ironman I decided to purchase a timex ironman GPS trainer. This was back in ’05 and the watch came with a heart rate strap and a GPS unit you wear on your arm. It was excellent for pace training as you could set an audible alarm to beep when you went too fast or too slow. It was a little unpredictable in that it struggled to get a signal in cloudy weather (bit of an issue in the UK) and lugging around the GPS unit was a hassle. The good people at Timex must have heard my thoughts as the new Ironman Global Trainer now has the GPS capability built into the watch and has improved GPS signal strength. This is definitely on my wish list this year especially if I’m going to give the Melbourne marathon a go.

Keen to hear what other funky, cool, clever, innovative and maybe even useful training gadgets you tri dorks are using.