Category: Training

Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 15 weeks to go

For those of you who do occasionally look at a calendar and are familiar with when Ironman Florida is on will have noticed that my weekly blogs are quite a bit off in terms of timing. At the time of publishing this weeks post it’s actually closer to 6 weeks to go to race day than 15.

This was done mostly on purpose so that I had a “buffer” of a couple of weeks posts as a back up in case I didn’t get to writing one week. I knew that when I got into the really big training weeks I was likely to be so tired between training and work that there would be days or even weeks where I just couldn’t write. I think whatever “writing muscle” I use is somehow also being used when I’m training because there are some days when the training load is big and I’m so tired that when I sit down to write that I just dont have any words.

There was also an element of me slotting into the Lava structure and it took me a couple of weeks to get that right. Writing to my own deadline on my own blog is all well and good but doing it for a professional outfit like Lava took a little bit of adjustment. So with that being said I have Enough of a buffer that I will now endeavour to catch up over the next few weeks so that by the time I get to Florida it should all join up correctly.

So this post is from the tail end of July. Work is fairly crazy and I’m trying to balance a 7 day work week with close to 20 hours of training. It’s a bit like learning how to juggle. So with that said lets get caught up… Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 17 weeks to go

I was reminded yet again on the bike in a race this week that I’m not at the place where chasing marginal gains will benefit me. I’m still very much at the stage where I just need to do a lot more of the basics and get the training done. All of the icing can be put on top of the cake in a couple of months if I can first address the weakness of my bike leg.

It’s very frustrating as the bike was always the area where I was strongest, now it’s my weakest discipline. I guess I just haven’t put in enough work so far. Ais also reminded me that we haven’t actually done anything yet in training that would give me a strong bike leg, in fact we have stayed away from the big volume and very hard bikes on purpose during the busy season in work because I struggled with doing these and recovering last year.

Related: Lanesboro triathlon: Two Provinces race report

The logical part of me knows this is true but the emotional side of me finds it very hard not to panic. My urge is to go out and ride every day this week for hours. “Massive volume will sort it out” I think.

Then I stop myself. I have to trust Ais. She is the coach and has a plan. I can’t take the parts of her plan that I like and then tack on my own ideas. That just won’t work. I can give my feedback and tell her how I feel things are going but I can’t constantly question what she’s doing and not expect to get a whack of a dog toy or something. Ais doesn’t have a lot of time for stupidity or doubt. She’s very black and white about things. Do the work and the results will come and don’t constantly analyse every detail.

And especially don’t question the coach if you want your plan for next week to land in front of you on Sunday afternoon.

Ineed to remember that Ironman is much more about the big picture than how one session goes or how I feel on a given day in isolation. I tell this to athletes all the time, don’t sweat the small stuff. For the most part the exact details of what you get done on a 5 hour bike ride or a 3 hour run matter less than the fact that you got the five hour ride or a 3 hour run done.

Still, knowing all of that doesn’t stop the growing ball of fear in my belly that I’m not doing enough. I think the fear is good sometimes, it’s what gets me out of bed at 5am to go to the pool or onto the bike for a long ride in the rain and cold. The fear of failure is a big part of what drives me and makes me keep on pushing. The fear of failing in public on my blog or here while putting all of this out for the world to read in Lava magazine is an even bigger driver.

The reason I trust Ash’s guidance is that she isn’t governed by that fear. Her coaching decisions are based on her instinct and experience and what she thinks is best for me. They aren’t based on an irrational fear of failing to perform in a race that’s still nearly four months away. And while she tailors my plan almost daily if needed to how I’m physically reacting to the training load she doesn’t tailor it to how I’m handling it emotionally.

She just tells me to get my shit together, get the work done and stop thinking and worrying about it afterwards. Trust the plan. Trust the work. I’ve said it to our athletes hundreds of times reassuring them when they are struggling to see the big picture.

I know she’s right. But it’s hard to not worry when I’m on the bike and the legs no longer do what they’ve always done in the past. It’s hard to ignore a rider going by me on a road bike while I’m on the tri bike (that must have been very satisfying for him) even as I look at him riding hard and I’m on a long easy day. It doesn’t matter. It knocks my confidence. And athletes are all about confidence.

When things are going well I feel like I could run straight through a wall or ride anyone off my wheel. When they’re not going well I feel like shite.

But I need to just continue to get the work done and trust the plan. It will come around I tell myself.

So with all of that inward naval gazing done lets see how the week went…


Monday 10th 1:55 (1)

Run 1:55 23k

Progression run

10 easy 45 IMRP (Ironman race pace) 45 HIMRP (Half Ironman race pace)  15 cd

Target: First 45 at just under 5 min/k. Second 45 at 4:30-4:35

Splits for those interested in the numbers.

  • First 45: 4:58, 4:58, 4:58, 4:55, 4:58, 4:58, 4:55, 4:53
  • Second 45: 4:46, 4:33, 4:32, 4:35, 4:36, 4:30, 4:32, 4:33, 4:33, 4:33


  • Energy: Legs were heavy from yesterday’s climbing but effort/energy was good.
  • Motivation 10/10
  • Work off
  • Sleep 6.5 hours

Tuesday 11th —


  • Energy 8
  • Motivation 8
  • Work 14 hours
  • Sleep 7 hours good

    Wednesday 12th 2:25 (2)

Swim 1:25 4300m

Bike pm 1:00 25k

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 10/10
  • Work 10 hours
  • Sleep 7 hours

    Thursday 13th 2:15 (1)

AM bike 2:15 67k

Inc 6×2 mins hard

Friday 14th :50 (1)

Swim :50 2500m

  • Energy 5/10
  • Motivation 7/10
  • Work 12 hours
  • Sleep 7.5 hours. Good

    Saturday 15th 1:25 (1)

Run :15 3k easy warm up. Race Lanesboro Two Provinces race. Report available here

  • Swim :15 800m (12:44)
  • Bike :35 20k (34:15)
  • Run :20 5k (20:43)


  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 2 hours
  • Sleep 7.5 hours. Good

    Sunday 16 3:20 (1)

Bike 3:20 100k

Tri bike steady/Ironman pace

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 6 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours, good

  • Total hours / sessions 12:10 (7)
  • Swim 2:30 7600m (3)
  • Bike 7:10 212k (4)
  • Run 2:15 28k (2)
  • S&C —

    Monthly accumulated hours / sessions

  • Total 28:30 (15)
  • Swim 6:45 19650m (5)
  • Bike 15:50 414.5k (8)
  • Run 5:40 71.5k
  • S&C —



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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 18 weeks to go

I was chatting to Patrick my swimmer mate (the one who takes great pleasure in knocking lumps out of me in the pool) a while ago and had told him that I was finally going to have a go at the 100 x 100’s swim session I’ve been talking about for so long. I told him I was going to do it on my birthday, the 21st of July. Doing the 100 x 100 swim is a sort of triathletes birthday tradition, at least it is for the pros who are coached by Brett Sutton and who am I to second guess Sutto.

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 19 weeks to go

I finished last week tired and it was with a lot of relief that I saw Monday down as a day off. Ash will often change my plan on a daily basis if she feels that I’m either handling the training load and the opportunity is there to do more or on the opposite side if I’m not able to she will back it off. It’s just one of the benefits of living with my coach. I get a level of attention and a tailored plan that I really couldn’t get from any one else.

The other side of the whole living with my coach is that she knows if I decide that a 3 hour bike ride should turn into a 5 hour one just because the sun is shining. If I do she will kick my arse. It also means that I no longer get to indulge the idea that I’m the boss…

Click on through for the weeks update… Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 20 Weeks to go

When looking from the outside at someone training for Ironman you could be forgiven for thinking that it is an individual, solo sport. When I’m writing my blog posts about how well a training session has gone or about getting kicked up and down the pool by Patrick it’s not at all obvious that there’s a number of people without whom I just wouldn’t be able to do this.

The first and most important is Aisling. It’s not just that she tolerates me training 15-20 hours a week. Rather as my coach she’s the one who’s pushing me when I’m tired or feeling lazy. Another almost invisible aspect of what she does is all of the small things that allow me fit in training when the business requires a lot of hours. Ash cooks meals, brings in food to work and takes care of so many of the other things that go into running the house and family so that I don’t have to.

Our team in the shop allow me come in a little late and leave early to get in sessions. Patrick my swimmer mate has taken me on as his own personal fixer upper. I think he’s made me his pet project. He’s going to improve my swimming even if it kills him (or more likely me)

Training partners like Cillian, Fergal, Big Dave, John, John, John, Eoin, Eoin and Eoin (yes we know and train with a lot of John’s and Eoin’s….) Paul Moran’s Sunday morning run gang and more all help me get through hard or long sessions.

All of these people make a little or large contribution to my training and all do it for no other reason than they are good peeps.

My folks have been to almost every Ironman we’ve done (Mam has been asking about me am I chasing a Kona slot again, I think she fancies the idea of another Hawaiian holiday)

There are lots of people who contribute to making all of this happen and they are rarely acknowledged. I’m certain I’ve forgotten to mention someone so I’m sorry in advance. Then there are all of you guys who read and follow the blog and leave comments or ask about my progress when I meet you at the pool or in the shop. I’ve had a bunch of new American friend requests on Facebook and followers on Twitter and messages of support. These are most likely down to writing for Lava magazine online.

I’m always grateful for all of the support, help and encouragement.

Anyway that’s my thought for this week, lets get on with the training. Read More

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 21 weeks to go

I sat down with Ash to write my plan for the week on Sunday evening. We were also looking at the the big picture (mapping out the weeks and putting a rough overall plan in place for Ironman Florida in November)

(If you missed last weeks post you can catch up here)

So after we sketched out the long term plan we worked on the upcoming week. Ash first started with the key sessions. Then she moved onto any that I’ve planned to do with someone else, like Patrick’s swims or the long ride on Sunday.
Ash called out the sessions and I filled them into the calendar and after each one I ask “is that long enough” or “will I add another run after that swim?”

Ash patiently answers “no that’s enough” the first couple of times.

After the fourth time she turns to me and asks “Do you want to coach yourself? I don’t mind if you do”

I realise that I’m now walking on that thin and treacherously dangerous ice that husbands occasionally encounter when they say something stupid to their wives. Especially if that something is questioning their wife’s ability to do something.

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Robs Blog: Clontarf Half Marathon 2017 Race Report

This is a half marathon that I’ve done before and despite the fact that it’s advertised as the flattest half marathon in Ireland there is about 6km of it that is run on sand and exactly half of it is always into a headwind so it’s far from the fastest half marathon course.
I was hoping to break 1:30 today. I figured a 1:29 would be a good day, anything faster would be brilliant and slower would be a bit disappointing. Ais had given me instructions to run the first 3k easy and then I could race however I felt. I made the mistake of not getting myself onto the start line and instead jumped in with the 1 hour 30 group. This had the desired effect of controlling my speed at the start as I worked my way through the crowds but it also had a down side… Read More

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Robs Blog: 100 x 100 swim: Race report

So I did a 10k swim the other day.

I know! A 10k swim! In a pool! 100×100’s!

In case you’re trying to work it out that’s 400 lengths of a 25m pool. I’d been talking about doing this swim for probably a year or more and Patrick my swimmer mate had been keeping the pressure on me.

Click on through to read how it went…

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Robs Blog: Chasing Kona 2017: 22 Weeks to go

So we’ve entered a race and set a target for the year. Last year the blog was a very public way to keep me honest about my training and to show people what we believe is required to qualify for Kona. As it happened I didn’t actually qualify so that part didn’t go so well.

It’s not much fun to fail in public but I keep on telling myself that I’ve only failed when I quit trying. I thought that maybe I’d try for a Kona slot again this year, but I also thought that if I didn’t tell anyone what I was trying for I wouldn’t have to suffer the shame of a public failure again.

But that felt a bit like like cheating, it felt dishonest. After setting out to do something and do it in public I felt that I should continue to do it publicly or I wasn’t really being very straight about it. It felt like I was skulking off into a corner to try and do it secretly and if I was successful then I’d pop out all “TA-DA!! Look what I did! See I told you I could!” Happy to celebrate in public but if I failed that would be better done in private.  Read More

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How to not walk the Ironman marathon

My first Ironman marathon started out quite well. I ran the first 10k in about 50 minutes or 5 minute kilometres. The second 10k however started to hurt and I slowed down to about 6 minute kilometers. By the time I was on my third lap I was walking each aid station and taking on an energy gel at every one. Considering they were only about 1-2km apart meant I was taking on a gel, coke, water and whatever else I could stomach every 10-15 minutes. Needless to say it didn’t go well.
My third and fourth 10k’s each took about 75 minutes and like I said involved walking every aid station and towards the end I was stretching that walk a little further every time. I was also very ill by the end and finished in almost 4.5 hours despite the fact that my first 10k was run at 3.5 hour marathon pace.

Three months later I watched Ais do her first Ironman in Sherborne in the UK and she not only posted the third fastest women’s marathon of the day, beating all bar two pro women in the process, but she did it with a big smile on her face. It was the most impressive thing I’d ever seen. Click on through to read what I learned from Ais and how I managed to get my Ironman marathon time down to just over 3 hours.

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