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.

If you missed last weeks blog you can check it out here or if this is your first time here you can settle in with a coffee, some cake and can go all the way back to the start of the Kona project here

Week 19

Monday 30 1:35 (2) Work off

Run :45 7k easy

S&C :50 John Belton

Sleep very disturbed
We’ve progressed most of the exercises again this week with John and it was a tough session. I can feel the core getting stronger every week and the back is in the best shape it’s be in for a long time.

I’m still very tired though and we’ve adjusted this weeks plan to allow me recover. I think that a couple of things all happened together to sort of floor me, work got very busy and that meant I wasn’t switching off at night and didn’t sleep well. At the same time as I got to the end of a hard, big volume training block and due to the accumulated tiredness from training and work the lack of recovery because of the sleep thing I just got more and more tired despite an easy training week.

Tuesday 31 – Work off

Off training

Wednesday 1 1:30 (1)

Run 1:30 16k WNR loop easy

Sleep 10 hours good

Still tired & work very busy

Thursday 2 1:05 (1)

Swim 1:05 3000m 1k with paddles.

Still tired & swimming slow but glad to feel like I’m back doing something that feels like training.

Sleep 7.5 broken

Friday 3 2:10 (1) Work 11 hours 

Bike 2:10 45k 920m elevation gain

Seated hill repeats stayed in the big ring for the first time this year on this climb. Moving slow but happy to see some progress.

Saturday 4 – Work 11 hours


Sunday 5 4:30 (2)

Bike 4:10 110k

3 hours of intervals. Ran out of food & drink at the end, need to allow for the warmer weather and bring more food and drinks.

S&C :20

Weekly total hours/sessions 10:50/(7)

Swim 1:05 3000 (1) 

Bike 6:20 155k (2)

Run 2:15 23k (2)

S&C 1:10 (2) 

Monthly accumulated hours sessions 9:15/(5)

Swim 1:05 3000 (1) 

Bike 6:20 155k (2)

Run 1:30 (16k (1) 

S&C :50 (1)

I’ve been really disciplined since the middle of the week about food, sugar, caffeine and sleep and it’s starting to have the desired effect. I haven’t had sugar of any kind except fruit. I have my last coffee of the day at about 2-3pm and I’m limiting my intake to 3-4 a day. We’ve been really good about getting to bed early too and I’m starting to track sleep quality on the Garmin.

It’s when I start to get to the limit of the amount of training I can absorb that I really need to be disciplined with the rest of the details. Especially at the end of a training block I will often be reaching a state of over reaching, pushing past previous limits and it’s in this stage where I think you can get quite a bit of training adaptation. Forcing the body to deal with a new level of stress in order to push it into a state of super compensation during recovery. The difficulty is walking the fine line between overreaching and overtraining without tipping over the edge. I think I got very close to my limit this time. One of the problems is that the body doesn’t differentiate between different stresses, training, work, family, lack of sleep or any other stress. They all have a similar toll on the body and if we are dealing with lots of other life stresses at the hardest part of a training block it can quickly start to have a detrimental effect. I we aren’t recovering we aren’t getting stronger as we only get the benefit from training afterwards during the recovery phase.

Related: Overreaching & overtraining

Trying to recover from a big training block while dealing with other problems is very difficult. Instead of the body rebuilding and getting stronger after training the other stress causes the body to become more and more fatigued. Super compensation doesn’t occur and we slip further towards overtraining.

The temptation to push to do just one more session before backing off to recover is often too much and the macho alpha side of the Ironman personality means I sometimes talk down the level of tiredness when telling Ais how a session went so she cant react and tailor the training correctly.

Related: Ironman training volume

Anyway I’m feeling a lot better at the end of the week and will be more careful during the next month as I need to allow more time for recovery and work.

I have written a report examining how 5 of the most successful Irish Ironman triathletes have qualified for Kona an incredible 29 times. You can access it free here.

You can read a little about us how we got into Ironman and how I went from smoker to Kona here

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