After spending a winter doing squats, lunges and other highly suggestive strength & conditioning exercise moves its time for me to finally get back out onto a triathlon course and finish the damn thing.
I’ve struggled with running injuries since completing my first Ironman back in 2011. I’m just not naturally built for long distance running and I need to strengthen & stabilize my hips before upping the miles otherwise I break so this year I decided I had to make the time, make it more of a priority and get it done.
A few years off the horse changes you as an athlete so I’ve got a lot to learn about myself again. Software, Technologies & performance indicators have advanced too and there are so many ways to measure so many things. Its also fair to say that I’ve learnt so much more as a coach over the last few years and there are a few new tricks I’d like to test out on myself before inflicting them on any of my athletes so I’m calling this year “The Experiment”
There is a competitive athlete lying dormant in there somewhere. I represented Wales in Netball as well as track & field athletics up until I went to Uni however these days I like to think of myself as a "just above average athlete”. I do enough training that allows me to spend as much time as I can outdoors and offset my Chocolate Digestive addiction and that’s good for now however lets see what these season brings and what I learn about me. My only real goal for the season is to finish every race STRONG & SMILEY.
The last few months…….
During the off season I manage to spend the majority of my time in the UK so I can actually get some consistent training in. I coach myself but regularly catch up with the fab coaches at Total Tri Training to pick their brains a little on specifics which has been a great help. This has also given me a lot of first hand experience with these guys which means I can help match our athletes to the right coaches, almost like the Cilla of the coaching world. J
My swimming focus has purely been consistency. I’m about 90% there on my technique, there is always more that can be done, however just getting in the pool twice a week has helped me take time off my CSS time which just shows how consistency really is key!!!
I’m a cyclist through & through. Being 5ft 11 and limby, I’ve got the levers, which helps but living on North Wales also helps make me a strong rider and how can you not spend hours on your bike with such an amazing playground to do it in. My focus for the winter has been building my endurance so I can come of the bike fresh & ready for the run. Also holding my FTP for longer up climbs and I have been getting accustomed to some shorter, sweatier rides on my Turbo or Rollers. These time saving sessions are going to be invaluable to me when I hit the road again!
A lot of my run training has actually involved a gym mat, weights & rolling the muscles. I’ve been working on hip & glute strength mainly and progressing through the suggestive exercise routines my physio seems to enjoy giving me. I’ve been running more shorter runs and one longer run only progressing distance when my physio tells me its safe to do so and I’m really pleased to say I’m now back up to Half marathon distance at a very steady steady pace. Its been a difficult ride getting here though including a drop out of London Marathon at 15km but so far the hips are looking good although not in the all clear yet!
So this was the race that broke me last time. I had unfinished business!! This is one of our busiest events of the year for Race Force. We had 46 athletes racing out there and a lot of first timers so the weeks & days leading up to the event are crazy busy getting everyone else to the start line in the best possible shape both physically, mentally & emotionally. It wasn’t until 4pm on Friday evening that I even considered getting my bike checked in. I checked in quickly with empty transition bags and figured I’d just deal with it in the morning, which I was kind of glad I did as the heavens opened and it rained consistently all through the night and for the rest of race day.
Race morning was pretty cold and I threw in some arm warmers last minute which I was thankful of on the descents. It took us about 50 minutes to get through on the rolling start which wasn’t ideal given the temperatures but I have to say it was one of the most pleasant swims I’ve had in a race, ignoring the jelly fish. I was stung a few times on my wrists but it sounds like I got off lightly compared to some. I felt fresh coming out of the swim and after a really smooth & quick transition I was out on the extremely damp bike loop.
It was just like any other training day back home. Wet, wet, wet & wet! It was marginally warmer than winter but it just wasn’t fun!!! Every part of the bike split was a chore…the flats, the climbs, the descents, no nice views just a bit soul destroying really. I just got my head down and took everything that was thrown at me. The last 20km is flat & windy on the best of days so this was a fine kick in the teeth on the way back into transition and I was so looking forward to getting on that run.
The run was a game of mental toughness pretty much from the moment I ran out of transition. It was great to see so many spectators still out regardless of the terrible conditions and although I could think of nothing more than stopping I managed to hold a pace I’d not even held in training for a few years so I was mega chuffed with that! I also had A LOT of fun seeing all our athletes out there and handing out the high fives where I could.
Crossing that line was divine and overall I was really pleased. I had achieved my goals of being strong & smiley and had performed better than I had expected and in those conditions.
Mental strength can be more important than physical – 800 athletes DNF’d in Mallorca. 200 didn’t even start! Their head wasn’t in it! I lined up on that start line with athletes much more physically capable than me across all disciplines but I am headstrong. Its my strongest discipline and is hopefully what will help me develop my performances across the season. Rain, shine, wind & even stingers!!
My fuelling plan worked – I had been training on gels and it really showed as my stomach was absolutely fine. I executed to my plan and felt good as a result however it would have been interesting to see how that would have gone had the sun been out and the temperatures up to 30 degress. That changes everything!
I need my Tri Bike asap!! I have an awesome custom Starley bike on order so hoping to take delivery of that in the next few weeks. I really noticed the difference in the last 30km of the Mallorca course. The roadie just doesn’t cut through the wind like a TT bike and I gained a few but lost of few places on that section alone .
Strength & Conditioning does work – No matter how subtle and insignificant the movements may seem, over time, with progression, they work! I’m back and fingers crossed I can contemplate an IRONdistance course possibly in the shape of IM Barcelona at the end of the season. I’m excited to take this to the next level and start looking at how Strength & Conditioning can actually improve my performance and not just keep me free from injury
Next up: Barcelona 70.3 Relay & transition to SwimRunUK training
My training is already starting to shift towards SwimRunUK training which I’ll talk about a little more in another blog but I do have Barcelona 70.3 relays this weekend which could be quite interesting as I have a pretty rapid runner to bring it home. Lets see how that plays out J
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