April (The road to Kona)

April started with an FTP test, and a park run in the first week, double fun! and then the Easter holidays started.

My FTP on test day was lower than I thought it should be, but I was feeling a little down on that morning. I redeemed myself, with a  20 minute best power, the week after, at the Redberth 10 mile TT, organised by Milford Tritons. At the weekend I did Colby park run and had a PB, so everything seemed to be going pretty well.

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On the first Sunday of the holidays we travelled over to Northern Ireland to visit my grandad again. We stayed in Coleraine, and luckily there was a pool near the hotel so I was up early both days for a swim. I enjoy visiting different pools as they all have different atmosphere’s! I emailed before we went, to check if I could use fins etc, but they said no. I arrived the first morning for the hour long lane swimming session, and there was a queue of people waiting and only 2 lanes. The rest of the pool was open with people swimming lengths. I decided to go in the lane that looked faster, but it had 4 people in it already, and I was catching one of them up every 50m, so I decided to move into the open part of the pool, and managed to finish my set next to the wall.

The next day I was politely asked if I wanted to join in with the tri club who were using the lane. I finished the set against the wall again! I was too tired and ran out of time to run in the afternoon, as we were spending time with my grandad, which was lovely, and Northern Ireland was a great place to visit with the kids.

When we got back to Pembrokeshire I still had quite heavy training weeks, we managed to plan things to fit in with family time, and what I needed to do. Holidays are difficult because I want to spend time with everyone, but also want to do my training. I don’t get the balance right, but I know that this is a temporary state to be in, so everyone pulls together and I had a great block of training where I felt like I was making really good progress. Patrick took the boys away camping for 1 night so I could do a long ride and so that he could see his brother.

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My last session before going away, and a recovery week.

At the end of the month, (bank holiday weekend) Patrick and I went away for a much needed break to Liverpool, which I had booked as a Christmas present. It was good to get away for a couple of days and we did a lot of talking which we don’t get the opportunity to do with kids around! On the way up we drove past Chester which is where my first race of the season will be. We drove over the river Dee which I will be swimming in, in a few weeks time! We came back refreshed and ready for the next training block.

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Eating to train.

If you are an endurance athlete then the chances are, you have found yourself losing weight through training. Is this a good thing? Well, as with most questions, the answer is “it depends”.

There is an optimal weight for everyone, and finding it can take a bit of trial and error. When I first started endurance sports I was happy to be losing weight and lost several kilos. I went in to my first Ironman not really having fuelled myself properly after workouts, and not eating enough during long sessions. I did fairly well, but when I started fuelling properly I gained a kilo, or 2, felt stronger, had more energy to train, and recovered a lot better. Ensuring that you fuel properly can have a big impact on how you perform and it is worth taking seriously if you want to take your training to the next level.

There have been some studies done on how people lose weight, recently, and whether it is sustainable. This article in particular is interesting as it looked at people who had lost a large amount of weight in a short amount of time.

You may not want to lose weight but you can still tweak your diet to ensure that you gain the optimal benefit from training. I have outlined some general advice below for anyone participating in endurance sports. I hope you find it useful, and if you are looking for specific advice then I offer a range of nutrition packages to suit your needs.

Losing weight

If you were overweight when you started to train then one of the benefits of training and being more active is weight loss. But it needs to be a controlled weight loss. If you lose too much weight, too quickly, then it becomes unsustainable. Everyone has a RMR (resting metabolic rate) which is the amount of calories required for your body and brain to go about its day normally. If you add extreme exercise into the equation and you don’t put the right amount of calories and balance of nutrients back in, then you will feel unable to continue training, and you may even start to store more fat as your body goes in to starvation mode. It is better to try and lose any excess weight at the beginning of the season when you are not doing a high volume of training so that you are not restricting calories during peak training time.

Maintaining weight

If your BMI (body mass index) is in the healthy range then you would want to maintain your current weight. but possibly to lose fat to gain muscle. This is done by eating the correct balance of nutrients and ensuring that post workout you consume protein and an amount of carbohydrate. Good choices include;

  • Yogurt and Fresh Berries/banana
  • Peanut Butter on rice cakes.
  • Hummus and Pita.
  • Protein Shake or smoothie with peanut butter.
  • Cottage cheese with fruit.
  • Egg on toast

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There are many more options, the key is to make sure that you have something in the 30 minutes after you finish an intense workout, or session that is longer than 90 minutes. At this time your body is primed to repair muscle, and needs protein and carbohydrate to do this. If you don’t supply these 2 nutrients then the body will start to use its own stores to do the job, which can lead to poor recovery or even injury.

Gaining weight

If your BMI is low then you may need to gain weight in order to be healthy. To do this you will need to increase your food intake. You can follow the above guidelines and also ensure that you don’t go in to sessions hungry, so have a pre-workout snack. Make sure that you follow a balanced diet and do not cut any nutrients out of your diet. You may also want to snack more often to increase calorie intake, and remember, as with losing weight, it is healthier to gain weight slowly and sustainably.

If you follow these guidelines most of the time then you will definitely see a difference. It is hard, sometimes, to get it right, but as with many things, something, is better than nothing, and making small changes, can add up to big changes in the long run. If you want any specific advice about any of the information provided, then please contact me here

 

March (The road to Kona)

After I had written my last blog I had started back up with some easy training, but after 3 days I started sneezing again so had to rest again, I found this very hard and felt like all the fitness that I had was going out the window, even though I know it is not the case.

The last 2 weeks of February were very stressful at home, and on top of any training stress must have pushed my immune system over the edge. If you want to read more about stress and how it affects you then there is a useful article about it here. At least I have still been able to get to my weekly yoga class, which is invaluable, and on 1st March I felt ready to start training again with just under 4 weeks until the Mumbles Duathlon

I entered the Daffodil ride that week and was planning on riding, but issues at home again stopped me from riding. It was a tiring and emotional day, however I tried to look on the positive side and thought that there must be a reason that I didn’t do the ride!! (Not easy)

Going in to the Duathlon things settled down a lot and I managed to get a decent months training under my belt. My swim and bike are still generally tracking higher than this time last year so I’m still making improvements which is great!

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At Mumbles I had a pretty good race, coming in 2nd overall and 1st FV, race report is here. Then it was an easier week and back to it, in time for the Easter holidays which will be interesting!

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.

Change, nobody said it was easy

I was in the pool today and I overheard 2 people having a conversation about somebody who they had been out on a ride with. I didn’t catch the whole of the conversation but I got the gist of it, which was as follows; The person they were riding with was trying to follow a set session and the person that they were riding with wasn’t happy about it. They just wanted to ride as they always did. As I was leaving, I started to think about why this person was unhappy or berating the other person, and it comes down to one thing, change, or fear of change.
When you hire a coach or follow a training plan you are taking the first step towards making a change. You are committing to becoming faster, and fitter, and this can scare people as it can make them look at themselves and start asking questions.

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One of the hardest things about making a change is making your environment fit that change. For example you will find it hard to eat more healthily if your cupboard is full of unhealthy food, and you will find it hard to cut back on drinking if you have a routine of going to the pub every night and drinking with your friends. You either need to replace the habit with another (better habit) or ditch the habit altogether.
The same goes for your training. If you really want to get faster and fitter then you need to follow a plan. You can’t expect to improve, by doing the same as you have always done, which brings me back to the group ride being discussed at the pool.
Group training sessions have their place, and can be incorporated into your training, especially if they are progressive and aimed at the event that you are training for. But often they are not and this is when you may need to do something different.

As far as group rides go, if you were a pure cyclist they would be a lot more useful, as you would need to ride in a group, but as a triathlete you should be aiming to sustain power without drafting, which is difficult to do in a group setting. You can try to follow a planned session but in my experience you don’t get the quality that you do when you are on your own or with someone who is a similar ability to you.

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As I said earlier to make a change you need to change your environment and this may mean ditching some of your group sessions, especially if the group is not supportive of your training goals. Its not easy, and thats why not everyone is willing to do it. You can carry on “just getting it done” as my friend at the pool advocated or you can focus on being the best that you can be, at the end of the day its your choice.

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.

 

Summer seasons round up

Its been a busy few months with racing, we’re coming up to the end of the season but there is still one big race to go! With this in mind my coached athletes have been out racing and training, working really hard to get themselves race ready for Ironman Wales. Ellie and Justin both took part in the Ocean Lava Wales triathlon, where Ellie picked up 2nd female and Justin had a good race, he came through strong on the run in a total time of 5:44 (results are here)

Justin also competed in the Cotswold Classic last month and improved his times in all 3 disciplines, using a better nutrition strategy has helped him this year to get off the bike strong. (results are here), also in August, Ellie completed a 5km swim around Skokholm Island which should stand her in good stead for  the Ironman swim!

So all that is left is Ironman Wales, I wish everyone luck and hope that they enjoy the day, you have done the work, now its time to enjoy race day, and show us what you can do…

Have you got a big goal for next year?

Are you looking to improve your performance?

Do you want to train effectively and efficiently?

then get in touch, I’m now taking on athletes for next season.

LTR coaching will help you to get to the start line feeling prepared and ready.

Contact me today to find out how I can help you to achieve your goals.

www.ltrcoaching.co.uk

info@ltrcoaching.co.uk