Category Archives: resting

September (the road to Kona)

Another month, another 100 mile time trial, this one in polar opposite conditions to the one in June. The weather was cold, wet and windy, as opposed to one of the hottest days of the year! Not ideal for Kona preparation, but one hundred miles all the same. My result was good. I held 10 watts more power and knocked around 9 minutes off my PB, for the course. I also felt lot better mentally and was able to break the ride down, and focus on each part a bit better. On the last stretch I managed to pick my pace up a bit and was only 1 second off the winning female for the last section. Final results are here, as you can see the result sheet was full of DNS/DNF!!

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After the TT I had a horrible run to do, which I managed OK but spoke to Mark on the Tuesday, he gave me a bit more recovery before the next push.

The weekend after, I got to watch Ironman Wales, as I had THE WHOLE WEEKEND OFF! Unfortunately the weather was appalling, rain, and wind most of the day. I cycled up to Templeton and was soaked through within 10 mins, so I stayed for one lap of the bike before going home to dry out so that we could catch the train from Kilgetty to Tenby to watch some running. It seemed quite quiet compared to previous years, (probably because of the weather) and we managed to get some spectating in before dinner and the train home. I must admit I was happy to be spectating and not participating this year!

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I only had a couple more big weekends to go until the big day, the first of which seemed to kick start my period a week early. I have been tracking this like a hawk, as it has IMG_0887physiological effects on your body. What this meant, if my period started early, was that I would be around 1-2 days from my next period on race day, which is the worst time, especially in the heat, as blood plasma volume is lower which means you are at extra risk of dehydration, my core temperature will also be naturally higher, which makes things harder in the heat; however after a couple of days it decided to go away and reappear for Dale Half Marathon, its still not ideal as I will be in the second half of my cycle for Kona, and have the same problems as above, but nothing I can do except prepare for it to be tough, stay hydrated, and on top of my nutrition. If you want to read more about hormones and how they affect your training then there is a link here.

The day before Dale I had a longish ride so lots of fatigue in my legs. It was a tough weekend, but should be worth it! I was happy with my time at Dale, only a few minutes off my PB for a half so everything is still looking good.

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The following week I had to go back to some heat prep, which sounds OK (40mins in a hot bath) but really isn’t very pleasant, as its 40 minutes in a 40 degree bath after a training session. The first time I did it, I managed 25 minutes before feeling dizzy and sick and had to get out, the next time was 35, then I finally managed 40mins.

We had a final appointment in Cardiff for Patrick to have his bladder scanned and a consultation with Professor Kyneston. Everything was positive, and he recommended having an MRI to check on prostate cancer in a years time, then probably another 5 years after, so we can go away knowing that everything is OK, for now. We were both happy and relieved to get home, after that! The next stage is getting to Kona, which will be a mission in itself, but I’m feeling positive and excited about being there.

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The road to Kona, February.

Well its around 9 months until the Ironman World Championships in Kona, about the same length as a pregnancy, and since training for Ironman is a bit like having a baby, I thought I would start a month by month account of how training is going!

Ups and downs

Its been a tough few months since November. My husband was meant to be having an operation around December time, this changed to January, which then turned into February. This has been hard on us as a family as we haven’t been able to plan too much in advance, and emotionally it has been draining. I also got ill before and after Christmas, which meant missing quite a bit of training but nothing too significant, as there is still a long way to go.

In January I also had news that my grand-dad had been put into a nursing home and was declining rapidly, so I flew over to Belfast to visit him for the day. It was good to see him, as I haven’t seen him for a long while but also I found it hard afterwards emotionally and hearing other bad news about him has been difficult, although he seems to be a bit better now.

When Patrick did finally get the date for his op they told him that they would actually be doing a different operation on him (this was on the morning of the op) so all my plans for dropping him off, going swimming, then visiting and getting my run session done went out the window, I ended up sitting in the hospital waiting room, supporting him emotionally for 7 hours instead. Then went back in the evening to visit with Milo. The  next day was spent driving to and from Carmarthen to visit him, and fitting in training around that. Not an ideal situation but I managed to do most of what I needed to do, although I was feeling tired from the driving.

The day I picked Patrick up from hospital I cut my sessions short and then got home to a sneezing child, I also started sneezing in the night and the beginnings of another cold started. The next day I was meant to do a long ride but I started up the hill from my house and wasn’t feeling great so headed back home after 10 minutes. Obviously I was feeling pretty frustrated and upset.

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A mixed bag of training 😦

On the plus side I have been putting out my best power numbers and  my swimming is better than ever before, but I always find it hard to miss sessions. I haven’t managed to finish a block of training without getting ill since November. I know it won’t impact too much in the long term as long as it isn’t too regular an occurrence, but all the same its hard to let those sessions go. We also don’t know what the future outcome of the op is. It may mean more trips to the hospital and more stress, but it could also go the other way and make things a lot better too, heres hoping for the best outcome! Patrick has been so supportive of my training and is such a huge part of me qualifying for Kona that we need to work as a team on this too.

Mapping out the season

Recovery and reflection

Last year I wrote a post about the end of the season, and how it is an important time for reflection and enjoying break from structured training. You can read it here. This is a great time of year for putting things in place that will help you to achieve your goals. But before you sign up for things, have a think about what your goals are, and make sure that whatever you are doing will lead towards that goal.

This is also a time when you can assess what is going on in your life, if you have a bit more time due to reduced training. All too often we take on extra responsibilites thinking we will cope with them and that we can cram more into an already busy life, but being honest with yourself and looking at things rationally you may find that there are just not enough hours in the day to do it all. Simplifying your life is hard, as in our culture we are expected to be busy all of the time, but taking time to reflect actually helps you to become more efficient and to do a better job of things.

The seasons naturally help us, with less daylight hours there is less time to be outdoors and we can give our bodies and minds a break from the pressures of race season, and to decide what it is we truly want. When you know that then you are one step on your way to achieving it.

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Spending time with family

 

Goal setting

Deciding  on a goal and committing to it is a scary prospect, so make sure it fits in with your values and beliefs then you will have a greater chance of achieving it. Have a good think about your goal or goals and also reflect on what is important to you as an individual. It may be that your goal is incompatible with your life at the moment so you have to wait and give it time, or you may be able to commit, but with a flexible approach.

I will give you an example. Next year I am racing in Kona, this is only one of my priorities. My other priorities are; investing time into my coaching business, spending quality time with my family, supporting Patrick after he has his operation, getting The Training Barn up and running, and visiting other family members. These are some of the most important ones, and they all need to be balanced. There will be times when things are not balanced, as life does not run on a straight trajectory from A-B, but having something in mind and checking in with it every now and then, can help to focus our minds on what is important to us. At the moment Patrick doesn’t have a date for his operation, and he doesn’t know how it will affect him afterwards, so he can’t plan too much into the future. I don’t know how it will affect me either, so we need to keep communicating about this. There may be times when my priorities have to shift and I am prepared for that.

So to apply this to yourself have a good look at what you have going on in your life and anticipate any problems, times when you may need to adjust, or to let go of things in order to achieve your goals. In training we prepare for an event by adapting our bodies to the challenges of race day and we can apply this to prepare our minds in the same way.

 

December creativity

The last 2 posts have been about staying consistent with your training and eating habits over Christmas. To be consistent sometimes you have to be a little bit creative with how you plan things. Its easy to have a plan and follow it when you are in your usual routine, but over Christmas your usual  routine goes out of the window for a while, so we have to let go of what we expect to do. It’s totally fine to do this, remember your family are your team, and if you work together then everyone can be happy and do what they need to do. If you need to prioritise time with your family that is a valuable thing, as they will support you when you need it. In this post I will give you some ideas for getting creative with your training. They are not new ideas and I’m sure that you have done similar things in the past. These are some of the things I have done so that I can train and still keep everyone happy!

Taking the boys to rugby while Patrick surfed, then cycling home. We both got our fix that day.

Getting up early and running, sometimes in the dark with a head torch.

Cycling to a friends house for a barbecue.

Getting dropped off and running to meet my family/friends.

Taking the kids to the pool and having a bit of a swim myself.

Doing turbo while the kids and I watch a DVD together.

 

There are many other ways to be creative with your training, I’d love to hear what you do, and remember you can shorten sessions if you need to. Its better to do little and often than to try catching up. Remember your reasons for training  and keep those priorities in mind. Wishing you all Merry Christmas and a great New Year.

December 1st

It is now officially December, the countdown to Christmas has begun, and as we all know it can be a stressful time of year. There are many expectations of us from family, friends and the media. Some of these expectations are unhelpful, and it is your job to recognise when you are starting to harm yourself by taking on other peoples expectations of you.

We are bombarded with images of how Christmas “should” be, but many people do not fit in to this model, and this can make us feel isolated, or just a bit strange! It is ok to want different things at this time of year, and its up to you to decide how you want to spend your holiday time.

I would encourage you to think about your priorities . What is important to you? and what are you willing to compromise? This will allow you to make choices about the festive period that keep you and those around you happy. Throughout December I will be posting some tips on how to keep yourself content and hopefully stress free this Christmas, they will be related to nutrition, training, and family (your team!) Hope you enjoy reading, and happy 1st December.

Pre-race nerves

The jitters

I wrote a post about tapering a few months ago, which addresses some of the things that may come up in the weeks leading up an event. If you want to take a look then it is here.

Its nearly Ironman Wales race day, and I know how a lot of you will be feeling… nervous, excited, and scared, to name a few emotions, and on top of that you need rest before the big day. The main thing you need to do is let go of these negative emotions. By this I mean acknowledge that you feel a certain way, try to work out why, and then let go.

Have a plan

I encourage my athletes to make a race plan, so that if any worry crops up before race day they know that they have planned for it and are prepared. A plan needs to be adaptable, as unexpected things happen. You can plan for these events to a certain extent but bear in mind that on race day something may happen that you haven’t planned for. Dealing with these events is what racing is all about as you learn about yourself and can develop as a person. So even if it goes wrong you will learn something!

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Uncontrollable’s

If its a fear about the weather, or conditions then there is nothing you can do about it. Everyone is facing the same thing, you will get through whatever the race throws at you, if you have prepared properly. There is little point in worrying about things that are beyond your control just let go and accept.

Never mind about the weather!

Never mind about the weather!

Use the force!

If you are excited, then channel that energy into positive thoughts about the race. Any time you feel a surge of adrenaline then think of a key phrase or song that motivates you. One of my favourites is “I am the best that I can be”, as it doesn’t rely on a result or time to be achieved. You will be the best that you can be on race day whatever happens.

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Relax

Before the race you may be very nervous and stressed, you may find a relaxation CD, or some relaxing stretching could help you in the days before, if you can’t sleep . On the day I found deep breathing was useful. Last year as I was standing in a group of nervous athletes I told a couple of my friends to try to breathe in slowly then breathe out longer that the breath in (similar to birthing and yoga breathing) A few people turned around when we did it together, but I found it really helped to calm my nerves before I got in the water.

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Smile

Enjoy the race. Remember how lucky you are to be able to race today, smiling relaxes your body and makes you feel good so I’m hoping to see some happy faces on Sunday!

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The best laid plans

Stick to the plan? I am a great believer in plans, but sometimes unexpected things crop up that are not part of the plan. I have had a few of these this year, and how you react to these unexpected “challenges” are what makes you you. We can learn a lot about ourselves by observing how we react in these situations. If the way we react is harming us in some way then hopefully we can change in order to develop and grow.

My year I have not had the best year this year. The plan was to have an easier year doing 2 half Ironman distance races with a view to doing Ironman Wales again in 2016. I planned my season around my A race The Wales Triathlon. I was feeling pretty good, I had accepted my DNF at The Titan, (you can read about that here) and improved my FTP by 10 watts this year, a goal I had set myself last year. Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.14.37 A week ago I was in the sea with my boys and I jumped over a wave and landed on a stone that impacted in to the arch of my foot, it hurt quite a bit at the time but I thought it was ok, and stayed in the water. When I got out I could hardly walk up the beach. My mum drove me home, and I tried to convince myself that it was fine and it would be ok in a few days. I iced it and rested. The next day I went out on the bike, tried to run and couldn’t so rested again. On Sunday I did a brick session. I ran for 20 mins and felt fine, On Tuesday I tried to run again, no chance, and exactly a week later, my ankle was still swollen and foot hurting. Throughout the week I have had many different thoughts in my head. First feeling I needed to stick to my plan and watching my fitness on the decline as my taper did not go as planned. Screenshot 2015-07-30 16.28.48 Then realising that I couldn’t run, so maybe I could just do the swim and cycle, and then feeling like not doing any of the race, but entering a race at the end of September, as I didn’t know if I could face starting a race knowing I wouldn’t be able to finish. I decided it was time to get my foot looked at!

Foot diagnosis

I went in to A&E, the nurse examined it and confirmed my initial thoughts that it was just a bruise on the bottom of my foot that had caused soft tissue damage. This had been aggravated by me continuing to try and train. I told her I had a race the next day and had been training all year for it, and she said that if I did do it then to expect it to swell up again after. So I went away still in 2 minds.

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Decisions, decisions…

After a lot of thought I decided that I wouldn’t race, my heart just wasn’t in it, I couldn’t run on my foot anyway, (too painful and would cause too much damage) so I would have been going in for just the swim and cycle. My husband has also had health issues the past few weeks and we are dealing with the stress and anxiety associated with that too, so I feel that the stress of not finishing another race may have been too much for me.

How I got my head round it

It is so hard to make decisions like this, especially when your whole season has been geared towards something that you had expectations of. I was really hoping to do well in this race, and my fitness is at a peak, so I have had to let go of that fitness, and my expectations from the race. I have had to accept the decision that I have made, and believe that it was the right one to make, there is always next year, and I have goals for that too.

I have entered The Snowman which is at the end of September so that at least I complete a triathlon this year, my fitness won’t be what it is now because I had planned to have the summer off training, so we have a few camping trips booked, and I won’t be able to train as much, but I’m looking forward to the race and I’ll be going up with Patrick for the weekend without the kids so we get to spend some time together too.

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Takeaway lessons

It is important to be adaptable and able to change your expectations.

Remember the positives from the season, if you are in Triathlon for the long term then you have still benefitted from any things that didn’t go exactly as planned, endurance builds up over years so the training that you have done in one year adds to the next years training.

Accept any obstacles that come your way, the sooner you do this the less energy you will waste fighting against an uncontrollable, accept what has happened, you can’t change it, and make a decision that you feel happy with, then stick to it.

Enjoy it, there is always another goal out there for you, and sometimes things are sent as a wake up call to check how much you really want your goal.

Don’t underestimate other factors in your life, you may feel that your stress at work or in your family has nothing to do with triathlon, but any stress impacts on your life and affects your ability to train and race.