I think there are a couple of things that differentiate not only successful athletes but successful people in all walks of life. I’m a big fan of both business and sports personality interviews and with the growth in podcasting it’s possible to binge listen to and accelerate learning from very succesful athletes and business people. My favourite type of story is the one of the person who starts off in a very ordinary situation and figures a way to either master a sport and gradually rise up to become world class or they build a business from nothing to success. As inspirational and fascinating as the stories of the Steve Jobs or Usain Bolts of this world are it’s almost impossible for me to relate to them. They are just so far from my or for that matter most of our realities as to be fantasy. Listening to someone tell the story of how they have gone from nothing to starting a business to building it to a level of success that, while aspirational is within the scope of most peoples reality I think is a great way to learn. And to be honest it makes a pleasant change to learning from my own mistakes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.