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 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 me more likely)

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’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.

Monday 19th 1:50 (1)

AM Run 1:50 21.5k

Session plan: 30 minutes easy then straight into 60 minutes at Ironman effort with 20 mins easy to finish.

The legs were heavy and tired right from the start today and I was having the usual mental arguments with myself during the early part of the run.

“Maybe I’ll just do a long easy run”

Followed by

“Don’t be soft Robbo. Just do the session”
“But maybe I’d be better just getting the time in today. A semi hard run might leave me tired for tomorrow…”
“Cop yourself on and just do the session, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t do it just because you’re feeling lazy”

So as I got close to the 30 minute mark I forced myself to pick up the pace and see how the legs and body felt. I’ve found that sometimes as you pick up the effort the body actually feels better than when I’m slogging through an easy slow run.

The next kilometre felt difficult, lumpy, uncoordinated. But then all of a sudden something clicked and I was cruising. Not quite effortlessly, but comfortably. I had been listening to the Legends of Triathlon podcast for distraction but as I looked around at the trail I was running on I realised that I should enjoy just being in the moment, in nature and running.

I was doing the hour at Ironman pace on a straight out and back section of grassy trail along the canal and during that hour I didn’t pass a single person.

With the exception of a couple of road crossings there was also no traffic. All I had for company was rabbits, birds and squirrels.

The sun was shining and unusually for Ireland at 8am it was already hot. I was really aware of how fortunate I was to be able to run a half marathon as my commute to work and to do most of it on a trail like this. I unplugged the ear phones and just listened to my breathing and enjoyed the isolation and being out in nature.

The pace felt comfortable for the first 45 minutes or so but for the last 15 the legs started to feel tired and sore and it became more difficult to hold onto the effort. I managed to stick with it for the full hour and ion the end held it fairly consistently.

There’s a real sense of satisfaction later in the day in work after doing a long or hard session. Every time I’m walking up the stairs I feel that nice, tired, trophy soreness in the legs which reminds me that the day’s training is already done and that it was a good session.

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 9 hours
  • Sleep 4-5 hours. Very poor. It was very hot last night so sleep was very disturbed. This of course is all relative. If you live in Malaysia then it would probably be regarded as being a cool night but in Ireland for the temperature to be in the mid teens at night is positively tropical.

    Tuesday 20th 3:20 (2)

AM Bike 2:20 56k hills. 800 meters ascent

PM Swim 1:00 3000m open water.

The sun was shining and I could have stayed out on the bike all day. I’d been warned by Ash to keep things steady and not do my usual job of frying myself in the first few weeks of proper training and then fall apart before the real work has even started. This mornings session was focused on building strength so I was just to ride hills seated and steady in a big gear. There’s been a few decent runs and rides over the last four days, I could still feel yesterday’s run in particular, so I was a little tired at the start but I gradually felt better the longer I went.
The evening swim was at the 40 foot, a popular swim spot in Dublin and I got in with the Dublin distance dippers. They are a long distance, open water swim group. I was the only triathlete in attendance. Or at least I was the only swimmer in a wetsuit. I have no idea how the hell they swim in togs in water that cold.

I was struggling at the 2k point and considering getting out until Patrick pointed out that himself and the two women I was swimming with were in togs and all three of them were going to do the full hour. Not wanting to appear completely soft I shut up and got stuck in for the last 20 minute lap.

There was a growing swell, especially in the last 20 minutes or so. Those conditions don’t bother me too much, in fact I sort of enjoy them but I reckon I tend to lose out a bit more than the experienced open water swimmers when it’s like that. In the end I really enjoyed the session and was glad I stuck out the full hour.

As I was getting dressed afterwards and was shivering uncontrollably despite having been in the wetsuit and a couple of the sea swimmers laughed and told me I needed to fatten up a bit.

So with that in mind I got stuck into Patrick’s post swim chocolate biscuits.

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 10/10
  • Work off
  • Sleep 8 hours. Good

Wednesday 21st —

Off training.

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 5/10
  • Work 8 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Broken

Thursday 22nd 2:30 (2)

Swim 1:25 3600

PM Run 1:05 14k. Build/progression run.

Patrick session: M/S LC 4×300 off 5:15 6×100 mixed pace off 2:00. 100 full sprint

Splits for the 300’s for those interested in the numbers. LC: 5:10, 5:08, 5:09, 5:10

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 9 hours
  • Sleep 7 hours

Friday 23rd 3:50 (2)

Swim 1:35 5000m

Bike 2:15 54k

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

Saturday 24th 1:05 (1)

Run 1:05 14.5k

Parkrun 19:50

  • Energy 6.5/10 tired when running
  • Motivation 7/10
  • Work 7 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Good

Sunday 25th 1:40 (1)

Bike 1:40 41k

Easy, very tired
I’ve found that often one of the warning signs that I’m reaching a training limit is when I’m starting to feel really good. Of course this sounds very counterintuitive and can be a very difficult sign to identify. If you’re feeling really good then you don’t usually assume that you’re about to fry yourself.

As I start to reach a peak I’ll be feeling really good and often push a bit harder than I should and as a result knock out some excellent workouts. This feeds into the growing feeling of invincibility and I push again and again not realising I’m skirting along the edge of what I can handle and then I’ll suffer a bit of a crash. Energy and motivation levels drop through the floor and I struggle to even get around an easy ride.

When I reach the point that I’m feeling very strong I often make the mistake of pushing harder because I feel so good. This is one of those mistakes that can really adversely affect training as it runs the risk of tipping me over the edge and can mean having to back right off to recover. Aisling is always warning me against pushing hard at al,l at this stage, I’m just not fit enough yet.

This week started out very strongly but by the time I got to Sunday’s ride it felt like maybe I’ve gone a step too far so I cut it short in the hope that a couple of easier days will mean I recover quickly.

  • Energy 3/10
  • Motivation 3/10
  • Work 7 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Good

Total hours/sessions 14:15 (9)

  • Swim 4:00 11600m (3)
  • Bike 6:15 151k (3)
  • Run 4:00 50k (3)
  • S&C —

Monthly accumulated hours/sessions 46:40 (27)

  • Swim 13:40 38,400m (10)
  • Bike 22:20 618.5k (8)
  • Run 10:40 128.5k (9)
  • S&C —