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Rob’s Training Diary: The one about the dog


Ok so for those of you who maybe haven’t been around here from the start or have maybe missed some weeks lets recap where we are with things. We got ourselves a dog. It turns out that I’m allergic to dogs, or at least I’m allergic to this dog. It makes me very tired and it becomes rather difficult to train when I can’t get off the couch. 
Lets go back to the start. It all kicked off a couple of months ago when Cooper came home. Actually, no, it started quite a while before that. Lets go back about two years.

2014: Ais excitedly waves her phone at me squealing isn’t he goooorgeous!! Can we get a dog?? Can we get a dog? 

Me: Yes he’s lovely and no.

Ais; but why? he’s so gorgeous and cute and I’d look after him.

Me because dogs poo everywhere, pee everywhere and eat all the stuff and I know who will end up cleaning up the poo. And who will look after it when we’re away? It’s probably also important to point out that you are terrified of dogs. 

Ais: Aw but I’d love him! 

This conversation went on for months. Another cute pug picture or video on Facebook would elicit another round of doggy love and another round of the poo, dogsitter and terror answer.

After about 18 months of fairly regular dog conversations I started to weaken and lose some resolve. I started to think that maybe  Ais was serious, the dog thing had been going on for a long time and showed no sign of wearing off. In fact she liked so many dog pictures and videos on facebook that her feed was now over 50% cute dog stuff. Pugs in dresses, pugs in costumes, pugs in prams and all sorts of other nonsense.

I considered bringing home a puppy. If it was that important to Ais then maybe I should give in. But what if she was was only loving the cute pictures and didn’t really want the pooing, peeing reality any more than I did. If I went with the surprise route then we would be stuck with it needlessly. Maybe if I bought her flowers, or a dress, or some cake she might forget the dog. But it was all to no avail, showering her with gifts made not a whit of difference to the dog obsession. 

Then one day it happened. I caved a little and Ais wasted no time going for the jugular. She went straight for the kill. She showed me a picture of a 2 year old Boxer in the animal shelter. I think she had come up with the cunning plan that if she was going to get me onboard with the dog idea it wasn’t any use showing me some rediculous looking fluffy thing in some girls handbag. It would have to be some cool sporty, butch, manly looking dog that could run with us and I would be likely to get excited over. 

I always liked Boxers I said. 

Should we go and look? Ais asked. 

I knew at this suggestion that she had moved past the cute Facebook pictures stage and was heading towards the physical animal living in our house stage. I agreed to go check him out and headed to the pound before Ais came home from work. I knew we were taking him home within about 30 seconds of seeing him and sure enough 3 days later we had him in the van and headed home. 

So that’s the first part of the story. The second part is the one that relates to the training diary. I know, I know sometimes I take a while to get to the point. I started to get really tired. To the extent that I actually couldn’t train and even missed some days from work before we realised that I might be allergic to the dog. I had had a similar although much less severe reaction to some of the chemicals used in our swimmimg pool (being allergic to a swimming pool is a sort of ridiculous problem for a triathlete) 

After a visit to the local GP I was told the best solution was to get rid of the dog. When I said I didn’t really think that would fly with Ais he said to try some over the counter anti-histamines. So I did and I started to get some relief. At least I could train again.

Jump forward 5 months of up and down weeks, first feeling good then feeling like I’d been driven over by a bus It looked like I wasn’t getting anymore used to the dog and the body wasn’t adapting to it. 

We decided to see a doctor again and a friend of mine put me in touch with an allergy specialist. So I did and now the blood tests have been done and I’m booked for some skin patch test stuff in a week or so which will hopefully not only identify the cause but maybe offer a solution. 

In the meantime Ais has come up with her own answer to the problem in the shape of a home office style shed. She has said we can even get a heater and a bed into it and couldn’t I get my turbo trainer and treadmill in there too. Sure I’d be made. I could drop back into the house whenever I’m hungry or felt like visiting with the dog who seems to really like chilling out on my favourite armchair in the window in the kitchen. 

Ais visiting me in the shed/gym/emergency dogfree accomodation

Project Kona: Robs Training Diary. Week 29


This week will likely see a reduction in training hours due to work which as it happens is well timed. I’m starting to feel the effects of the last big block. Ironman visits Dublin for the 70.3 this week on its European Tour and we are the bike partner so it will mean a very busy weekend in work. It’s one of the races I would rather work at than race as I’m able to enjoy the buzz of a huge event without having to worry about racing it. Anyway click on through for this weeks update.

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Ironman training motivation 


I started this blog I guess as a way to document our attempt to get me back into Kona qualifying shape. I had been following Alan Ryan’s blog tracking his attempt to not only qualify for Kona but to go on and try to win his age group there. I thought it was a great insight into how he trained and how his training differed from mine. I found it so interesting I decided to have a go myself and record how myself and Ais tackled it.
There’s a huge amount of nervousness stating a big goal publicly (crapping myself might be a better way to describe it) there’s always the possibility of failing and falling flat on my face and I’ve invited an audience along to watch. The first time I attempted to qualify for Kona in 2011 I wrote about it in the Outsider magazine and I found it provided me with a great sense of motivation, mostly from the fear of screwing up publicly.

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The Kona Project: Robs Training Diary. Week 28


At the moment it feels like I’m getting stronger almost every time I train and that the body is really starting to handle and absorb the training load. I’ve hit almost 40 hours training in the last 10 days including some hard sessions and even with the increased training load I’m still feeling good. There has been a marked improvement over the last 2 weeks. I’ve gotten a new antihistamine which seems to have made a big difference. I’ve also had some time off work which is helping hugely with recovery between sessions.

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Strength and Conditioning for Ironman Triathlon


As age group triathletes we have a lot to work on. Three sports to train for, usually a job and possibly a family too. Often the first thing to go while trying to fit everything in is strength and conditioning. I’m regularly asked if an athlete should do gym work, yoga or Pilates as part of Ironman training program and I usually advise to train the main sports first and only if there is time or more importantly a specific need for strength sessions should they do them. But there are a couple of important exceptions to this.
I incorporate strength and conditioning into my training for a couple of reasons.

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The Kona Project: Robs Training Diary. Week 27


I have a few days off work this week so the plan is to get a fairly big block of training in. We want to build up the volume without too much intensity first and see how I handle that. If it goes well Ais has some tougher sessions planned for later in the week. The picture is my birthday cake. I came home from work to find Ais up to her elbows in coloured icing and this work of art waiting for me. Beneath the swim, bike, run decoration is Ais’s chocolate biscuit cake.

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Don’t wait until you know what to do to start. 


Back in 2011 I asked Aisling if she thought I could possibly qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Somewhat surprisingly she immediately said yes. Surprising because I had already done two Ironmans in France in 2008 and Switzerland in ’09. In both instances I placed in the bottom quarter of the field, somewhere like 1200 and 900th. To qualify would mean jumping from finishing just inside the top 1000 right up to inside the top 40-50 overall and in the top 7 in my age group. It would also mean going over an hour faster than I’d gone before and doing it on a much harder and slower course. We hadn’t a clue how to go about it. Neither of us had the faintest idea of what training was required. Naievity can sometimes be a blessing as well as a curse. Despite all of the logic that indicated that I couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t attempt it we did and just over four months later I lined up at the start of Ironman UK in Bolton, England still with no idea if I had any chance of doing it. By the end of the day I was 8th in my age group and 24th overall (excluding pros) and within 2 minutes and 1 place of getting my first Kona slot.

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The Kona Project: Robs Training Diary: Week 26


This was a “testing the body/build week” after the last few weeks of not feeling great and I’m pretty happy with how it went. I managed close to 18 hours training again and I got a decent long ride as well as a couple of medium runs done. The only swim of the week was short but reasonably good quality and the splits weren’t bad. I’m hoping that the consistent 7 months of training has given me enough of a base that when we get what we think is the dog allergy problem that all of the built up fitness will just pop out.

Like magic.

At least that’s the hope.
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Learning how to race Ironman 


It’s got to be one of the hardest things to do. To learn how to race an event that’s at least twice as long as any you have ever done before and even if you have done it before you often only get to do it once or maybe twice a year if you’re lucky. I have been fortunate enough to work with a number of excellent coaches since I started racing Ironman and what I’ve learned in that time is that the best of them not only gave me a program to do but they also taught me how to train and more importantly how to race Ironman. Sometimes they’d tell me something, sometimes they’d show me. My favourite lessons were the ones that taught me a skill that I could use on race day. Peter Kern my first Ironman coach regularly got into the open water with me and showed me how to draft both on his feet and on his hip, he taught me to swim in close proximity with another swimmer and not freak out. Another time he ran my long intervals with me telling me to speed up or slow down based on my breathing, telling me to be aware of it at the correct effort. He was big on training and racing on percieved effort. He was the first coach I worked with and through specific sessions and one on one coaching he taught me my first lessons in racing Ironman.

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The Kona Project: Robs Training diary. Week 25


I’ve been debating what to say in this weeks blog. 3 sessions in a week does not a Kona qualifier make. Admitting I’m having problems feels like admitting to failure but something’s not right and hasn’t been for a quite some time. The training hasn’t been having the usual effect and I don’t seem to be getting the resulting gains in speed and fitness I normally do with the level of training I’ve been doing. It’s been gnawing away at the back of my head that something’s wrong but I kept on telling myself it would come good in time. I also kept on telling myself that it was just the training volume and load that had me constantly tired but I think there’s something more than that. I’m seeing a doctor next week and we will hopefully get some answers. Anyway Let’s get on with this weeks fairly short update.

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