I think we all have an internal image of ourselves, of what we think defines us. Whether it’s related to being parents, athletes, our job or business its can be a source of pleasure or pain, it can drive us or leave us satisfied with who we are.

Usually how we internally visualise ourselves is quite different to how the world perceives us. I remember doing a swim coaching weekend a couple of years ago and after showing each athlete their video they were asked what stood out about it. I answered that I was surprised that I didn’t look just like Michael Phelps in the water (that probably explained why I was so much slower than him too) Most people made a comment that they were actually doing the complete opposite of what they thought they were doing. When it came to Aisling’s turn she answered in a small, upset and somewhat disillusioned voice that she always thought that she was taller.

Like I said our internal perception of ourselves is often quite different to the actual reality or how other people see us. In my case I wasn’t actually Michael Phelps, in Aisling’s she was a foot shorter than she perceived herself to be. We were both a bit gutted.

Anyway what’s with the name of this weeks blog? What the hell is an experimental donkey? I’m the experimental donkey. Read on to find out why…

Monday 29

Run 2:45 28k slow hilly run.

Tuesday 30 
Off

Wednesday 31

Off

Thursday 1

Off

Friday 2

Off

Saturday 3

Off

Sunday 4

Off

I thought I felt a bit of a sore throat coming on on Tuesday and sure enough it was there when I woke Wednesday. I had a little bit of that feverish sort of flu feeling but it’s still pretty mild. I’ll take a couple of days off to allow the body sort itself out.

I sort of think that a big training block can often tip me over the edge. Between the depletion caused by the volume and in this case the lack of proper nutrition over the weekend (cakes, scones and cream and chocolate do not count as good recovery foods) and the heavy training load I think the body’s systems are fairly stressed and susceptible to picking up an infection or cold or flu. This of course is my unscientific observation but if I’m right then the gains coming from a big block of training need to be looked at in relation to any potential setback from missed days if I’m sick. Over a season if I get sick half a dozen times and lose 4-8 days training each time am I getting bigger gains from the super compensation effect that comes from pushing past my limits with the big blocks of training than I’m losing to sickness?

I think it’s a risk that we run when you’re trying to turn a very ordinary engine into one big enough to compete with the best athletes in one of the biggest Ironman races in Europe. I remember listening to an interview with Brett Sutton a couple of years ago (Brett claims to be the most successful triathlon coach in the history of the sport) anyway his story was something along the lines that he would only experiment with a donkey not a thoroughbred. His thinking if I remember correctly was that if an athlete didn’t have the natural talent required to compete at a certain level then it was ok to experiment with them to see if he could get gains by pushing boundaries or trying unorthodox methods but that he didn’t think doing that was necessarily a good idea if the athlete already had a world class engine. Anyway I think what got me to Kona both previous times was a lot of hard work in training and racing and pushing up to and often past my limits. I think if I hadn’t been lucky enough to find and work with the coaches I have since the start of this from Peter Kern, Bill Black, Stephen Delaney and right through to Ais then I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have or progressed as far as I did.

In some cases I think it was only their willingness to take risks and push me way past the point that most coaches would be comfortable at to try that got me to being physically able to compete at that level.

In Sutton terms I guess I always thought that I was the experimental donkey. Coach, take me and to what you will.

Weekly Totals Hours/Sessions

Total 2:45 (1)

Swim —

Bike —

Run 2:45 28k (1)

S&C —

Monthly Accumulated Hours/Sessions

Total 81:25 (38)

Swim 10:50 30,400m (8)

Bike 42:15 1367k (13)

Run 21:45 240.5k (17)

S&C :25 (1)

If you are interested in contacting us about coaching you can do that here

I’ve written a mini book on how the most successful Irish athletes have gotten so fast. You can learn from them by downloading it free here

You can catch up on my weekly training log here if you fancy seeing some of my own training sessions