2018 in review – change, cycling and finding my mojo

The year started with so much promise, a trail race booked for mid January in an attempt to finally get over the post Ironman blues and rediscover my love for training. Almost a whole year later I’ve finished the year with my 2nd race of the year doing the Llandeilo New Years Eve 10 mile (race review to come). In between those 2 races there has been a lot of false starts with training, a protracted move to Wales where I found myself living a single persons life Monday to Friday in AirBnB’s and a rekindled love for cycling.

After the Naunton Nearly 19 in January I started making race plans for the year as you do in the post race endorphin high. Pencilling in revisiting the half ironman distance again for a crack at a PB, some longer trail races and maybe even a marathon PB attempt in the Autumn. A job offer in February that triggered our move to Wales and a realisation that stress at work and a house move weren’t a good combination meant all those plans were quickly shelved.

Instead the year has been about just enjoying being active again without the pressure of preparing for races. Learning to take a step out the front door in the mornings and simply move. Plus trying to get some adventures fitted in (although in June I got a bit more adventure than I planned!). What I hadn’t planned for was developing a real love for cycling (both road and more recently mountain biking).

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Cotswold Classic race review

It’s official, I’m a triathlete! Cotswold Classic middle distance triathlon – done. Another bucket list race ticked off, although as ever when you complete a challenge you’ve been building towards for a while it feels a little anti climatic. I probably spent more time getting my kit prepped for the race than actually doing the race, not to mention the many many hours of training. However (and I’ll whisper this quietly) despite saying after the race I’m not doing another one again I think I might add this race to my calendar for next year also.

I thought just doing the race would scratch the triathlon itch, but having done it I think I have a real chance to go quicker by making a few simple changes. I generally come away from races happy that I’ve done the best I can but this time it’s really nagging at me to have another crack. My plan was to try to improve my marathon time next year so we’ll have to see how it fits in.

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Who needs a race?

Completing any endurance challenge is as much about being strong in the mind as strong in the body. You have to go into the race with the mind set that you can do it, you can complete the challenge. Even if that requires you to lie to yourself a little about the reality of how prepared you are or even how capable you are. All through training for this triathlon I’ve been telling myself that it’s ok that my first triathlon will be a half ironman, that I’ve done plenty of big challenges now so my body knows how to get through it.

But I’ll be honest Mr ‘I’ve done 2 ultra marathons so a triathlon will be easy’ freaked out and panicked. Often happens as you approach the end of a training plan but still not something to ignore a month out from race day. Which is how I ended up standing next to the lake last week with my brother and 2 of his mates ready to do our own Olympic distance triathlon.

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When it starts to get real

I’m at that point in my training where race day is looming and the doubts are setting in, 6 weeks to go until my first ever triathlon and all I can think is I haven’t done enough cycling. Or running. Or swimming. Although I am probably more worried about the cycling, I can do the distance but not sure on speed, whereas my run target time is way below my PB so should hopefully be reasonably comfortable. But is that going to matter if I slowly grind to a halt on the ride? Argghhhhh!

Turbo trainer in the garden to fit it all in

I try to remind myself that I’ve done as much as my training budget will allow, sure I probably could have pushed harder in some sessions but by and large I’ve ticked off every session I planned and have made a huge change to my swimming and cycling fitness. But still, reality bites sometimes doesn’t it? That’s ok as long as I get a grip before race day arrives, you can’t go into these kind of endurance events with doubts can you? You have to be confident (and realistic of course) in your abilities.

Do I sound like I believe myself?

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Maximising your training budget

Chrissie Wellington wrote a great blog post a few months ago called Juggling Balls all about how to fit training for a triathlon around your work and personal lives. We all know that we have to manage around the other priorities in our lives and as much as we’d like to train whenever we want few of us have that luxury, but hearing a former pro triathlete talk through the decisions she’d had to make really resonated with me (incidentally it’s rare to find someone who is both a top athlete and a good writer so do recommend you have a read of her blog).

Being mentally committed to your training is so important and reading her blog made me face up to the realities of my training and what realistic goals I should be setting myself for my half Ironman in August. When a challenge feels too big it’s easy to avoid facing up to the reality of the training you need to do and not set good goals.

Chinese philosophers came up with Yin and Yang to symbolise the 2 opposite forces in our lives but when it comes to training there are (quite aptly) 3 competing forces you have to balance; work, family and training. All 3 pull you in different directions and you need to find a way to balance them if you are to be successful and I generally find it’s hard to achieve what you want in one area without also achieving in the others.

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