Monday was hanging out there in front of me with a combination of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because for the last few weeks my fitness has been on an upward trajectory and Ais had me down to do a very big day which I always love the challenge of.
Trepidation because the last couple of weeks have been hard and I was tired and it could end up being a 7-8 hour slog instead of an enjoyable long day of training.
Kona Secrets book available
Kona Secrets: Lessons learned from over 50 Kona Qualifications.
Knowledge doesn’t produce results, action does. Just knowing how to do something doesn’t guarantee success, especially something as difficult as qualifying for Kona; you have to put in the hours. In this book I share some of the lessons I learnt between being a back-of-the-pack beginner to qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
It was to be a 4000m swim, 5+ hours on the bike and to run off it. Back in 2013 that became a fairly regular way to spend a Monday and I always think that those long days had probably the biggest impact on fitness of any session, of course first I needed to be fit enough to cope with 6, 7 and 8 hour training day or it would have the opposite effect and leave me flattened.
I’ve done a couple of them this year but at a much easier pace than Monday was to be at.
One of the funny things about these training days is just how long they take. My normal long days consist of a bike and run and I’d often have 6+ hours done by 1:30 on Sunday and then go into work for a few hours. Because I was including a swim it meant that I wouldn’t get onto the bike until after 10am. So I leave the house at about 6:50 am and usually dont finish at about 5pm.
The whole day is gone, just like that. There’s usually only time for a shower before dinner when I’m done, then we walk the dogs, have a coffee and then it’s time for bed. I’d forgotten that and I somehow am always surprised that it’s tea time when I’m done. Anyway lets get on with it…
Monday 9 7:10 (3)
- Swim 1:10 4000m
- Bike 5:15 169k avg speed 32.4k ascent 700m. Windy. Long IM pace ride.
- Run :45 8.5k
- Energy 9/10
- Motivation 9/10
- Work —
- Sleep 8:30 good
Tuesday 10 3:05 (1)
Run 3:05 33k
- Energy 7/10
- Motivation 7/10
- Work 4 hours
- Sleep 8.5 hours. Good.
Wednesday 11 —
- Work 4 hours
- Sleep 8.5 broken.
Thursday 12 2:40 (2)
- Swim 1:15 3600m easy
- Run 1:25 17k including a bunch of 800’s
- Energy 6/10
- Motivation 4/10
- Work —
- Sleep 8 hours. Poor
There are things that are within our control and things that aren’t.
There are things that affect our training and things that don’t.
Actually pretty much everything effects our training.
Some of the things that are within our control are as follows.
- What we eat.
Doing a 23 hour training week does not give me license to eat anything I want. Well maybe it sort of does, but only if I don’t care what the impact of eating shite has on my sleep, recovery and next training session.
I might be lucky enough that eating cake 3 times in a day might not add any inches to my waist if I’ve just done a 5 hour bike ride. But if the sugar affects my sleep (which it does) then my ability to recover from that session and train again the following day is compromised.
Deciding to eat properly more often than not isn’t good enough if the guys I’m racing for that Kona slot decide to eat correctly all the time. Especially if we have the same level of “talent” and the same size engine and have done the same work and have equipment that’s just as fast and are as well prepared as each other.
I’ve seen both sides of the coin. I’ve missed a Kona slot by one place and two minutes and I’ve also taken the last straight qualifying slot by less than 30 seconds in another race.
If all that separates me from a Kona slot after 9 or 10 hours of racing is 30 seconds and if I miss a slot by 30 seconds then I will have to ask myself if I’d been a little more disciplined would I be on the other side of that of that 30 seconds
- Just starting and doing the work.
I was tired today in the swim so I backed off, focused on correcting a problem with my stroke that Patrick has been on at me to sort. I finished up with a 75 minute 3600m swim in the end. On the way out of the pool I said to Ais that I was tired (hoping she’d say “chill out lovely bob, you’ve worked hard this week”) instead she turned to me and said
“Suck it up buttercup, you’re meant to be tired. You’re in the last few weeks of hard training. There won’t be any second chances. You just need to get the work done”
I said I agreed and also said I would.
She then softened and said that instead of doing the session of 800’s she’d scheduled that I should do shorter intervals. I got home and changed and headed straight out for the run and decided that I was only being soft. I didn’t need to shorten the session. I felt bad for even complaining to Ais. It felt like I was looking for the easy option (which I was) and it felt shite when I admitted to myself that that was what I was doing.
I programmed the session of 800’s into the watch and decided to just go and get it done.
Ais had said to ignore pace and the watch and just go on effort. She didn’t want me to react to being slower because I was tired, she just wanted me to get the work done at the right effort regardless of what the actual speed was.
The Garmin beeped at the start and to signal the end of each interval and that was as much attention as I paid to the watch. Unsurprisingly I did manage to do the session. I didn’t melt or collapse or die and I felt a damn sight better having done it fully instead of wimping out with a shorter set.
It’s probably also worth saying that in doing the set I wasn’t pushing past a crazy limit, I wasn’t really in danger of frying myself. I was just tired and at this stage with less than four weeks to go in the middle of my biggest training block it’s perfectly normal to be tired.
- Getting to bed early. Ok so this isn’t always within our control but when it is it’s one of the most important aspects.
Things that are not within our control
1. Qualifying for Kona
I can’t control who shows up on race day. I can only hope for the race I’ve trained for and to swim, bike and run to the best of my ability.
2. How fast we swim, bike or run on any given day.
We are very often tired with the sheer volume involved with Ironman training and it’s important to know that what times or splits we do any given interval session in less important than the fact that we just get the work done.
3. What the weather decides to do.
We can’t control what the weather decides to do but we can try to be in control of our reaction and response to it. Being set up to train on the turbo or run on a treadmill when the weather is bad is key to just getting the work done with the minimum of messing around.
4. Getting to bed early.
In certain circumstances, babies and work can obviously have an impact here.
In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that…
Friday 13 2:30 (2)
- Swim 1:25 4000 easy
- Bike 1:05 27k 4x slade valley hill reps in tri bars (7:05-7:20)
- Energy 6/10
- Motivation 5/10
- Work 8 hours
- Sleep 8 hours. Good
Saturday 14 :30 (1)
Run :30 5k easy with dogs
- Energy 5/10
- Motivation 4/10
- Work 9 hours
- Sleep 8 hours. Good
Sunday 15 5:55 (2) ppm.
- Bike 5:10 152k easy, tired
- Run :45 8k off bike
- Energy 6.5/10
- Motivation 6/10
- Work 3 hours
- Sleep 4.5 hours. Broken
- Total 21:50 (11)
- Swim 3:50 11,600m (3)
- Bike 11:30 348k (3)
- Run 6:30 71.5k (5)
- S&C —
Chasing Kona eBook available
From smoker to back of the pack triathlete to the Ironman World Championships.
Read about how I overcame all of the odds and discovered what it would take to get to the Ironman World Championships – my eBook is now available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes
It is also available as a paperback at Wheelworx.