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. Continue reading The Lakesman race review
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!
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.
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. Continue reading The real triathlon
I got a shiny new Garmin Virb Ultra 30 action camera for Christmas which apparently can shoot some awesome action shots of me running, riding and swimming. But what it’s not so good at is magically making the pitch black conditions that most of January’s exercise featured into lovely light videos. So while I wait for some daylight and also how to actually use the thing properly I thought I’d start shooting a vlog of my training each week. Because obviously what you all really need in your lives is not just my words of wisdom here but also being able to actually see me sharing those words.
Training for an Ironman is not easy for anyone and it most definitely isn’t easy when you have to manage training around work and family life. I thought these short vlogs might give some insight into how I’m trying to make it work and also give me some nice footage to look back on and see what I went through to (hopefully) get to that start line.
Talking on camera like this feels very weird so please, go easy on me and stick with me as I learn about shooting and editing these things. The first 2 episodes are now live though, for the first one I thought it would be interesting to show you a week in the life of my training and the second is really just an opportunity to moan and get you to feel sorry for me. Continue reading The Running Dad vlog is live!
I’ve just begun week 8 of my ironman training and despite having done a triathlon before this is the first time I’ve really, properly trained for one rather than just doing it as a bit of fun. Training for a multisport race is so different to just running, not least because of all the extra equipment needed, you can barely see the poolside at the triathlon club swim sessions for all the many paddles, floats, snorkels and fins. I thought therefore I’d share the top 3 things that triathlon training has taught me so far.
1 – You can’t run in bib shorts
Well you can but it isn’t very comfortable and as I found out can make for some interesting chaffing. One of my weekly sessions is a 45 minute steady turbo ride and then a quick transition to a 15 minute run. At this time of year that means sitting in your house (in the glamorous surroundings of the utility room if you’re anything like me) on the turbo with sweat dripping off your nose. You then jump off, heart racing, mop up some of the sweat, throw on a few layers plus a hat and a head torch and then head out into the freezing black night. If you do this wearing bib shorts as I did the first time it means you are at high risk of your nipples turning into bullets and the perfectly positioned bib short straps rubbing on them. Lesson very quickly and painfully learned!
Continue reading What triathlon training has taught me
Water is not my natural habitat, I’m confident enough in the water, happy to be there, but I’m distinctly lacking in any real skill or grace. I lack the coordination needed to move 4 limbs at the same time in a way that is conducive to efficient forward movement. I’m so right side orientated that my left arm just flops over in an awkward ark before splashing into the water and attempting to perform a good pull.
There is so much to think about when you’re swimming, which is probably why I enjoy running so much. With running you can switch your brain off and just enjoy your surroundings while your body moves your legs and arms perfectly in motion. In fact you run better when you do this rather than trying to think about what you’re doing. Which is the complete opposite of swimming where you have to focus almost 100% of the time on your stroke to stop it falling apart. Or at least I do, maybe one day it’ll become second nature but for now the conversation going on in my brain while swimming goes something like this:
Continue reading Like a pig to water