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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The no plan training plan

Sometimes you need to push yourself to stick to a training plan and get through a tough period. Sometimes, however, you need to listen to your body and mind and back off. This is one of those times. I’ve never been a prolific racer but the whole idea of taking part in a race at the moment doesn’t motivate me at all. The discipline of training and then the hassle of race day just to get a medal doesn’t appeal nor does religiously following a training plan.

Maybe I’m a bit jaded from such an intense 6 months last year building up to my Ironman? Whatever it is I’m currently using the no plan training plan. I don’t have a colourful table on my fridge telling me what I’m doing each day, instead I’m just doing what I feel like (or don’t feel like for that matter). I’m still trying to train as a triathlete and do all 3 sports each week I’m just doing so without feeling I HAVE to get the sessions done. It’s really quite refreshing.

Enjoying the view rather than worrying about the pace

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mid ride cake stop

The danger of rest

Have I mentioned that I did an Ironman? I’ve certainly managed to shoehorn the subject into most social conversations over the past 2 weeks and of course used my race backpack for tri club swim practise. It does feel like it happened in a different life time though and I’m sure if I tried to run a marathon today I’d fail miserably. Can your fitness evaporate in 2 weeks of rest?!

Post race rest

I’ve consciously given myself lots of rest since race day, I’ve focused on refuelling (and yes cake and beer counts as refuelling) and generally giving my body and mind a well deserved break. But as I pass the 2 weeks post race mark I can feel that I’m hitting the danger zone, the one where you start to feel tired and lethargic all the time and can’t quite comprehend that 2 weeks ago you were at peak fitness. If you’re not careful you become a grumpy, irritable and low on motivation. I think my wife would confirm that I’m definitely in that zone!

I can feel myself getting twitchy, inevitable when you complete a goal you’ve worked towards for so long. The post race blues would be another way to describe it, good to give yourself a break but at some point you need a new focus ,whatever that is, rather than going cold turkey. I will always be a runner and love just heading out with no pace or distance goal, but I also know that having some sort of goal is a good thing for me.

Spaniel sleeping

Pretty much how I feel!

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The Lakesman race review

This time last week I had just finished The Lakesman iron distance triathlon. Writing that feels a little surreal, did it actually happen? Did I actually finish an Ironman? Well this large piece of slate says I did so it must be true!

 

It’s always a weird feeling when you complete a big race or challenge, something you’ve been working towards and dreaming of for a long time. I’ve spent every Sunday night for the past 30 weeks planning how to fit my training in around family and work life, every time we made weekend plans my first thought was always ‘does it stop me doing my long ride?’. Commitment and obsession are definitely the required values of a wannabe ironman.

Why The Lakesman?

The logic went something like this; an Ironman is going to involve pain and suffering so if I’m going to do one I might as well do it in a location that inspires me. I’m a trail runner at heart and there are few towns as closely intertwined in trail running history as Keswick. Having a course that went past most of those famous peaks seemed just perfect. How could you ever choose Bolton instead?

Add to that a reasonable entry fee (£275 – still a lot of money to do a race of course, but given what’s required to put on a race like this I’m sure justified), incredibly positive feedback from the inaugural race last year and a race ethos that focused on the athletes and not the brand and I think you have a winning package. […]

The real triathlon

My ironman training hit a bit of a bump at the end of March, a couple of weeks where I didn’t hit my training sessions and to be honest lost the motivation to much training at all. Training for something like this requires such commitment and personal investment from both a time and mental perspective that if you don’t get everything right in your week from a non training perspective then it makes it very hard to get the training piece right.

There is another triathlon, even more important than swim/bike/run, that must be in balance if you want to be able to hit the paces and distances that your plan dictates. That triathlon is family/work/training and as I’ve discovered you can only do the last one well if the first two disciplines leave you with the mental and physical energy you need. I’m trying to do 11-12 hours of training a week at the moment and I’ve learnt that as Monday evening ticks around again and I head for my swim session that this triathlon has to line up well if I’m going to get my 3 runs, 3 bikes and 2 swims completed. There is some leeway in the week for moving sessions around but not much and only 1 rest day to play with. Not easy but then neither is an Ironman!

Work

I don’t have a physically demanding job but I do manage people and that can be very mentally draining at times, which is ok if you just want to go for a nice run after work to clear your head but not so much when you need to do a 1 hour turbo session and then get up at 5.20am then next day for a 1 hour run.

Family life

I have 3 small children (2, 4 and 6) so the family aspect of this triathlon can definitely be physically and mentally draining. As any parent knows you can feel utterly exhausted as you collapse into the sofa in the evening once all your children are finally asleep and the house is tidy. My wife and I have a great partnership and know that we both need our time to train (she’s training for a sprint triathlon currently) so we find a way to fit it in but that doesn’t of course mean the quality is there. […]