Just a quick update from Sportiedoc world...
January and the first half of February saw me ased in the UK. Actually the longest amount of time I've stayed put in the same country for over a year.
I started the year with a new coach - Tom Bennett of T2coaching and it was good to be seeing him a couple of times a week. Having been with a remote coach for 2 years, I had missed the personal interaction with a coach... I feel that it is invaluable to interact one to one from time to time... as so much can get missed behind email and skype text.
om has got to know me pretty well within a short space of time. I was very open with him.. warts and all. At first I thought he was somewhat overwhelmed with what he was taking on in me... but soon I began to see that he was relishing the challenge.
My time course as a pro has been a fluctuating one. From the baptism of fire with Brett Sutton and Team TBB in 2010 to the positive coaching mantra of Cliff English, some months have been good, some not so good... That is the nature of the sport. Experience seems to suggest that it take years to build the base of strength endurance required to compete at the top level. But dont underestimate the mental game. I believe this is one of the reasons Brett Sutton has so much success with some athletes... he trains mental toughness. You can question the physiological logic behind some of his mammoth sessions.. but it develops a psychological tenacity in those who survive it. Brett and I are on good terms. I introduced a good friend Eimear Mullan to him last year and this year she is on the team, coached currently by Bella Bayliss who has more past ironman titles to her name that I have had haircuts. I am interested to see how Eimear does this year under the new coaching regimen. We are very different and I know she wouldn't mind me saying that she is more submissive in the coach-athlete dynamic that I could ever be. "just shut up and ride" never quite did it for me.
After 6 weeks of indoor cycling due to the London freeze, I packed up and headed over to Lanzarote for 12 days solid training. Just being out on the bike is liberating... something that all cyclists/triathletes can relate to. The frequent wind trainer - turbo - sessions... do help build leg strength and fitness, but they do bugger all for mental stimulation.
Regular outdoor hill reps sessions in Richmond Park with T2 coaching - including Vanessa Raw - saw me working on my strength and technique. Technical excellence Tom calls it... whilst at the same time practising my poker face. Harder than it sounds... especially in 0degrees.
Friends from Blackline London had signed up to Wokingham half marathon and I thought it would be some fun to have a go at a half marathon without the preceding bike and swim. It was a typically horrid British winter day.. cold, wind, rain, but I enjoyed the race... pacing was completely out as I got to 4 miles to go and felt I had left too much in the tank... then with 800m to go someone told me it was a mile, so again held back a bit. All in the memory back to add to that lengthy learning curve. Just missed out on a 1.22 but happy enough with the 1.23 given it is February and i'd only been back training a month. Best thing was, the technical side of things held strong to the end and recovery was quick.
I changed things up a bit this time in Lanza. I have been to the island around 8 times. My first ever training holiday was here with my first coach Richard Hobson back in 2008 so the island holds a special memory for me. Previously I had stayed in Club La Santa or at TriSports Lanzarote, but this time I tried something new and headed to Costa Teguise and Sands Beach where Team TBB have set up their european contingent for the winter. Very impressed thus far.
I am a week through training here and all is going well. A small hiccup at the start, as I rode too long and with too much intensity. Waking heart rate had drifted up and Tom (coach) was on to me. For me if I am on the border of overcooking it, I would get a tickle in my throat at night with a dry cough and note that I sweat more in the night. My waking mood is a good indicator too as is resting heart rate drift over 3 days. I use the metrics section in TrainingPeaks o monitor training blocks. For age-groupers with full time jobs, it can often be easy to tip the edge to over-reaching in training. Remember your body will often let you do it but you aren't sending the right stimulus. You may recover, but you won't recover and adapt which is when you make improvements. Constantly foregoing sleep will come back to bite you. Forego quantity for quality every time.
The age-old mantra in Ironman that more is better is hard to let go of but it is more than often not true. Comparing yourself to others and their training is fruitless and is something which Tom pulls me up on. Some people repsond to long and slow, i know that i need less volume and more intensity to improve and that is what this year will see me do. Training buddies are good, but physiological differences prevail. What works for one body type does not work for another. Accept differences and work out over time what works for you it may be totally different from that of your club mate or training buddy. I feel like I am stating the obvious, but it is all too often that I hear age-groupers questioning themselves because they couldn't do the volume of training that their peers did. Confidence as an athlete takes time, and seeing is definitely believing.
Next weekend has me signed up to The BallBuster renown for its tough course... how many times up Box Hill again? Often accompanied by foul weather, I have signed up for it twice before, but never raced either due to injury or sickness. It will be an interesting test coming off a hard training block here, but hopefully some fun will be had along the way with many friends also toeing the line.
Then Sunday will see me head to the Triathlon Show (TCR) to catch up with sponsors and have a general chin way with all the tri-folk. Do say hi if you are there!