When it comes to race performance I think we all either secretly or otherwise believe we can or should be faster. I think it’s what keeps a lot of us coming back for more, the belief that we can still compete (often just with ourselves). I’m no different, here I am coming back for another crack at Kona. I’ve no illusions just yet of getting into the best shape of my life in just the 8 months I’ve allowed for it but, going on previous years results at Ironman Mallorca I will need to go about 20 minutes faster than I’ve ever done before to qualify for Kona. So I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I believe I can. Get faster that is. I think I have the potential. But having the potential and delivering are two very different things.
This week sees a couple of breakthrough bike sessions. I’m finally starting to feel good on the bike which is a bit of a relief as a part of me was getting worried. I don’t know why because it always takes me 3-4 months of base and strength training before I start to feel like I’m going well. The run is also progressing nicely but swimming has sorta fallen off me and I feel like I’ve got all the grace and style of a wind up swimming frog toy. Ironman is so hard to balance all three sports. I rarely feel good in all three sports at the same time (although as long as I do on race day that’s all that matters) anyway click on through for this weeks update.
I approached improving my bike split in much the same way as I had when I wanted to improve my swim. The main difference being that I came from a cycling background so I had probably already picked a lot of the obvious “low hanging fruit” Regardless, I listed all of the things I could think of doing to improve my biking and bike split and then started picking them off one at a time focusing on where I thought the big gains would be first. The list looked something like this.
Training time this week was tight to fit but despite that the quality of the sessions was good. It turned into a very run focused week as a reaction to the time constraints. I should really incorporate some more turbo work in a week like this as the bike is my biggest weakness at the moment so therefore the area with the biggest potential for improvement. The weekend took us to Leeds and the ITU World Triathlon Series and it was the most fun I’ve had at a race in a long time. We got to meet loads of the big stars of the ITU and the Olympics including Gomez and Jorgensen. There was also an incident with the flight home so read on for the full story.
I was listening to an interview with a guy who had turned his life around after being massively obese, sick and unhealthy. He was talking about how the start and the end of the process were the hardest. It really struck a chord with me, I thought it was very like the start and end of Ironman training. He said that getting going in the begining, building habits and making changes were very difficult initially but after a month or so it became normal, routine and much easier. We coach people how to do this in a sustainable way because we recognised that the first 4-6 weeks are critical for getting an Ironman training program going successfully.
I think I tipped myself over the edge a little with the combination of work, training and lack of sleep. I have also been slacking on some of the basics like nutrition and caffeine intake and timing. I start off telling myself it’s ok to eat cake a couple of times a week, which turns into daily then adding in the occasional ice cream and the next thing I know I’m having sugar 2-3 times a day. The reality is that after years of eating almost no sugar I know I’m very sensitive to it and that it disturbs my sleep if I have either too much or have it too late in the day. I kept on making the excuse that I’d get away with it because of the training load. The irony is that that’s exactly why I need to be more disciplined with the food. I can’t afford to miss or have poor quality sleep with such a big training volume and increasingly busy workload.
While talking to athletes and during my own training over the last few weeks one golden rule has come up again and again. In my mind it’s probably the most important rule to make all training decisions by. It’s certainly one Ais has driven home again and again.
Work has gone a bit nuts in the last couple of weeks as we enter the busiest time of our year and I think that’s what’s been affecting the sleep. I’m taking it home with me at night and not switching the head off. I then spend the whole night unable to sleep, I’m tossing and turning getting increasingly wound up at the lack sleep, the fact that I’m supposed to be up early to train, that I’m not resting and in a vicious circle I get more and more wound up. I’d probably be better just getting up and reading a book for an hour then going back to sleep when I’m less distracted and more relaxed.
“The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts”
T.E. Lawrence: Lawrence Of Arabia
I was listening to an interview recently with a triathlon coach. He was ex army or marines or something like that and he said something that really changed the way I thought about pain or hurting.
This week see’s the return of the first of what I call a “big day” of training since 2013 when I was last getting ready to qualify for Kona. I did it on Thursday and was out with a couple of the guys we coach. The day consisted of a 3800m swim and straight out onto a 5 hour bike and we got straight off for an hours run. I was glad that I wasn’t too fried after it to go in to work, I was on the last few hours of the late shift. I really enjoyed the day and was even able to do a 2.5 hour run the next morning. Overall it’s a good weeks training. Read on for this weeks update…