Tag Archives: training

July (The road to Kona)

Before, and after a storm, comes calm. I have been preparing myself for the next storm at the end of the month, when Patrick is booked in for his operation. We have been here before though, and have support to get through, so we are feeling pretty positive about this next chapter.

The beginning of July saw us driving up to the Lake district for Patricks dads 70’th birthday. On the way we were passing the spot where I had left my water bottles from the 100mile TT, I asked Patrick if he thought they’d still be there. He thought they would be but I had my doubts, happily I was wrong! I was really excited about reclaiming my bottles. (its the little things)

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In the Lakes I just took my running kit, and was up at 7am to run both mornings. Its always great to run somewhere new, and do a bit of route finding, however on the second day I found myself quite high up, with just shorts and a running vest, thinking that I probably should have had some extra layers. Its easy to forget how exposed you can be in the mountains.

When we got back I continued with quite a heavy training block, still putting out some good numbers. Towards the middle of the month, I travelled up to Loughborough to visit my coach, and get a bit of swim input. We went out on the bike on the day I arrived, and Mark recorded and went through my swim stroke, correcting a few faults in the afternoon/evening, and then continued in to the next day. It was good to have some time away and focus on myself for a few days. I saw some definite improvements in my swim stroke after spending a couple of days swimming and revising drills.

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When I got back to Pembrokeshire, I needed to start a bit of heat prep to find out how I coped. This involved making the bathroom hot and steamy, then setting up the turbo in there, to do some bike sessions. The first session was on a beautiful sunny day, which made me wonder what the hell I was doing! The 2nd session was horrible, 5 lots of 8 minute efforts at FTP building each set, which needless to say, DID NOT HAPPEN!! The 3rd session felt a little easier, probably because it was, and I ended up faffing around with my garmin for half an hour, as it decided to crash, just as I got on the turbo to do the session, which meant that the bathroom lost a bit of heat! This was all done in-between ferrying children to various birthday parties.

The last Saturday in July was The Wales Triathlon (race report here), a good test of where I was physically before Patricks operation on the Monday.

May and June (The road to Kona)

I have combined May and June, because such lot has happened, in these last 2 months at home. At times it has been very stressful and sad, but I’m hoping that we are through the worst of it now.

The month started with an easy week leading in to Llanelli Half marathon. I was planning on doing a local 10km race, but the date was changed to the week after, so I checked to find another local-(ish) race and found Llanelli. I checked with Patrick to see if I could go, and with my coach, they both said yes, so early on Sunday morning I found myself driving to Llanelli. I was feeling pretty fresh,¬†so hoping to go under 1:30, which was a goal last year at the Cardiff half. I didn’t manage it, I’ll blame the weather! The field was quite small and as I set off there was only one woman in front of me, so I stayed ¬†within around 10 meters behind. When I got to around 10 miles I thought I would have to make a move now or not at all, so I started to speed up to catch her. I remembered to put some pace in, as I passed, and hold on to the pace, so that I could open up a good gap, ¬†I managed to get a fairly good lead. The last few miles were painful (I kept reminding myself it was only 5k!) but I held on to 1st place and went under 1:30 which I was very happy about.

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The week after, it was back to it, after a couple of easier days. Patrick had a hospital appointment on the Wednesday so I rode out to meet him at Glangwili. When we finally got in we asked our prepared list of questions, and then the consultant dropped the bombshell, that they had found cancer cells in one of the samples that had been sent off, after Patricks prostate operation in February.

We were pretty shocked and didn’t really ask the questions that we wanted to ask, and were sent away with a leaflet and a phone number. Patrick was put on the list for an MRI scan, and given another appointment with the consultant. Since then we have done a lot of reading, and are hoping for the best (that the cancer is localised and has not spread anywhere else.) Obviously there has been a lot of stress and upset associated with the information that we were given. Until Patrick has had the results of the scan we don’t really know what the future holds. I went in to some training sessions wondering what the hell I was doing, but training has also been a way to forget everything, and focus on something else for a while.

As far as training has been going, I have continued improving and breaking PB’s, but it all feels a bit empty at the moment, until we have some more information I suppose it will be like that, and I’m just going through the motions. It didn’t help that we all got ill at the end of the month, and Patrick came down with a kidney infection. Hopefully next month things should become a bit clearer.

June

June started, with a race. The Deva Middle distance Triathlon. You can read the race report here. It was touch and go as to whether I would race or not, as the week leading in was so stressful. Patrick had a kidney infection on Tuesday and was very ill with a high temperature in bed for 2 days. This was during half term, so the kids were off school and everything was a bit harder. Thankfully my mum lives down the road, and has been very supportive, so I could carry on with my planned training, which was a bit lighter anyway. I spent quite a bit of time crying and feeling pretty low during the week.

The week after Deva, Patrick had an MRI scan, followed by an appointment with the urology consultant in Glangwili. We were told that the cancer was T2, and his PSA scores are low which means that it is a low risk prostate cancer. This was a big relief for us. The week after, we had an appointment with a consultant in Cardiff, to discuss this, and a possible operation on Patricks bladder, which may mean that he can stop having to self catheterise. The consultant confirmed our thoughts about the prostate cancer, which is that the cancer cells were found by chance, and that they are no immediate risk, so Patrick has opted for¬†active surveillance.¬†However he will be having abdominal surgery for his bladder problems at the end of July which means that he can’t drive for 4 weeks during the school holidays! Its good to have some positive things happening though and I hope that the operation improves his quality of life. Its been pretty hard for the past few years.

After a couple of easy weeks I travelled up to Llanwrda for the West Wales Cyclists league 100 mile TT. It was looking to be a hot day, so the night before I made up 5 bottles of Skratch labs hydration and put them in the fridge. In the morning I dropped them off in a lay-by near Llandovery for pick up later. After about 10 miles I was already in pain from saddle pressure, which wasn’t a good sign, and for the rest of the ride I was shifting about trying to find a comfortable spot (there wasn’t one!) I pushed fairly hard up to Brecon, then there was a bit more ascending before some great downhill into Llandovery, where I tried to keep up power, but not too much! From Llandovery I know the course, and this was the bit I was dreading, the road surface is horrible in places, and I kept having to lift myself off my saddle to relieve the pain, my head was in bits really, not giving myself very positive self talk! And I just rode it out as best I could to the finish. I came in in a pretty decent time of 4:48:59 and picked up 2nd female. My ¬£20 cash prize was quickly spent on new water bottles, as I left my spares in the lay-by, oops!

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The week after was an easier week, and we had another appointment with another consultant in Swansea, cue, waiting for 2 hours in hospital to be told what we already knew. It was good to go though, as we have more confirmation that we are making the right descision for Patrick.

So next month is the last month before the school holidays, with only 15 weeks until Kona, I’m looking forward to getting a good block of training in.

 

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.

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!

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.

 

Never try, never fail…

Training for a big event is a journey, and along the way we learn¬†a lot¬†about ourselves. This year I have got myself a coach,¬†having¬†coached myself for the past few years I felt I needed a bit of a push¬†so that I had the best chance of achieving¬†my goals. It has been interesting, and I have definitely been pushed harder than¬†ever¬†before, it has also made me aware that I don’t like to fail. I like to see progress and do sessions right. However although its great when we do those “hero workouts” and we feel like we have hit all the targets, that is only part of the story.

When training for a big event you will get tired and there will be days when you don’t hit the times, or goals that you want from that session, it doesn’t mean it was wasted. There are times when you need to recover, and times when you need to accept that you are tired and you didn’t do such a great job on that session, its ok. Part of training for something big is finding out where your limits are and pushing the boundaries, and if we do it in training it gets easier in races.

There is a¬†great article by Siri Lindley about pushing her boundaries¬†here.¬†I’m not advocating no recovery or digging yourself into an overtrained hole, but being aware of the fact that you are not going to smash it every day, we are human and have stuff going on in our lives that affects our training, and as a coach I always make sure I look at the whole picture, to ensure that athletes feel¬†positive¬†about their training.

So sometimes we will fail in training and in races, its inevitable. There are many ways that we protect ourselves from failure, some examples are shown in this article. You may identify with some of these examples, and if you do, well done for recognising it. Recognising that you have a fear is the most important step, once you know about a fear you can do something about it. Another article here deals with strategies for coping with fear of failure, and gives advice for dealing with fears. If you can implement some of these ideas in to your life and training then you will reap the rewards!