Tag Archives: triathlon training

How do you define success?

Success conjures up many images, and is not defined in the same way for everyone. When racing, success, in its most basic terms is measured by your result. But is that really success? Some of the times that I feel the most accomplished is not necessarily when I have done well in a race. If the competition was not there, and it was an easy win, then it is not as satisfying as when I have overcome mental blocks, or pulled myself back from negative thoughts or a dark place.

We all have different circumstances and lives, measuring yourself against other people is at best futile, and at worst damaging to your mental health. So how do you measure your own success? or find ways of celebrating the small things? First you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. It may be, a PB, it may be, just finishing a race in brutal conditions (I’m thinking Ironman Wales this year!), it may be, managing to balance your life, so you have time to do the things that you really want to, or overcoming a fear.

All of these things are valid ways of celebrating what you have achieved, and if things don’t go well in a race there are always things to take away from it, there will have been some success somewhere, you just may need to look for it. Find a way of being proud of yourself, and you will be successful.

If you did race Ironman Wales at the weekend, then here are some stats about the race and the amount of DNF and time differences to other years that you may find interesting. I’m sure when looking at them you will find something to be proud of!

http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2017/09/11/ironman-wales-2017-age-group-results-kona-qualification/

Advertisements

August (The road to Kona)

I spent most of the first day of August in Patricks hospital room in Cardiff while he recovered from surgery, with a brief excursion to the pool and Waitrose, which handily is next door to the hospital. (So glad we don’t have one near us, it would be so dangerous. I seem to have spent a lot of time this month in Waitrose one way or another!) Patricks parents came to stay for a few nights after the op, so that we could have some help with the kids. They took them out for the day on the Friday that we came home, which was really helpful as I could get things organised at home and fit in my training.

The week after, we were given another appointment for Patrick, in Cardiff, that day was the only day of training that I missed, which is testament to the support that I am getting. The day after the appointment Patrick seemed pretty low, he was uncomfortable and I really wanted to make him feel better, but there was really nothing I could do. I was feeling guilty about racing at the weekend but Patrick assured me that he wanted me to race, so he had lined up a beach BBQ with a friend, and my mum was on hand to drive, I felt like I was leaving him in safe hands.

Race report is here. I was really happy with my overall race, and its looking promising for my endurance fitness. When I got home I felt a bit rough for a couple of days but had a lot of recovery in my diary so managed to bounce back fairly fast. I packed my bike in the bike bag, that Jan has kindly lent me, to check if it would fit in the car (it did), and caught up on a few jobs that needed doing.

Now that Kona is so close, I’m beginning to think about afterwards, Patrick and I had to drive to Cardiff again for another appointment, so we had a chance to chat about next year and what our plans are. I know we both need a break from me competing at a high level. But I also need something to get excited about!

The remainder of August seemed to fly by. My training started to build again towards the end of the month, and I started dreaming about Kona! There are still some final things I need to sort out before going, and I’m planning on tackling these when the boys go back to school.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 13.39.39

I had a great recovery day at the end of August with the family, unfortunately Milo was ill so it didn’t quite go as planned but we managed to catch the worlds most expensive mackerel on a fishing trip in Tenby! The good news is that Patrick seems to be on the mend. He still has an appointment at the end of September to check that things have gone Ok, so we’re hoping that will go well, and another appointment to discuss any cancer treatment at the beginning of September.

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.

change-management-300x200
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.

78106_dra15_wjc_007777

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.

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!

Pembrokeshire Coast Path December

Day 14  Porthgain to Pwll Deri

11 miles. Elevation gain 1634ft.

Strava data

I had no lift today, as my mum was away, so Patrick came up with the idea of leaving my bike at the end of the run and then cycling back to the car. Having checked the forecast I thought I would give it a go, only 20mph winds for today rather than the 40-50 gusts that we have been used to.

2015-11-29 20.06.09

It was actually dry on the north coast when I got there, and I left my bike attached to some wooden railings at a viewpoint. The road was a single track dead end, so I figured it would be safe; however there is always a little bit of worry when leaving your bike chained up! I then drove to Porthgain and started the run. This is another unfamiliar part of the path, I spotted geese, and a sheep with its head stuck in the fence, which I tried unsuccessfully to free. I spoke to a couple of local dog walkers further down the track to let them know and if they knew the farmer to let him know. I really enjoyed the last bit of path from Abermawr to Pwll Deri, a bit like moorland, very rugged and lots of rocks. I arrived back at my bike, and bag which had drink and snack in and then cycled back to Porthgain into the headwind, feeling a bit tired after that one!

 

Day 15 Pwll Deri to Fishguard viewpoint

11.2 miles. Elevation gain 1444ft.

Strava data

This was a long one, the path is quite twisty with lots of little ups and downs. There was nowhere really that you could stride out and get into a rhythm, and I managed quite a spectacular fall, landing superman style in the mud, but no damage done, I stopped quite a few times for photos, and saw a load of seals relaxing on the beach.

I decided to meet my mum at the viewpoint outside Fishguard so I wouldn’t have to run up it at the start of the next section, however I wished I had asked her to meet me in Goodwick when I arrived there. Often seem to have that feeling! When I arrived back we stopped off for coffee in Fishguard and we discussed the next few sections. (There are only 3 more runs left and I was hoping to get it finished before the end of the year,) but after a few calculations realised that my mum would be away on the last run. She has done most of the driving to drop me off and pick me up at various points so she was quite keen to have a little celebration at the end of the challenge! So it looks like my last run will have to be after New Year, so we can celebrate together.

Day 16 Fishguard viewpoint to Newport.

11 miles. Elevation gain 1601ft.

Strava data

I mapped this run on Map my ride the night before and it came up as 9.8 miles so I was expecting a shorter run than last week, my mistake! It was 11 miles of slippery path with a couple of ankle deep bogs thrown in. Luckily it was pretty dry and not too windy, but by the end I was longing for a path with some friction. I finished running on the welcome gravel path from the Parrog up to Newport so I got my wish eventually. After meeting my mum in the car park we went for a coffee and toast at the newly opened VicNorth cafe, which was lovely.

Screenshot 2015-12-27 08.30.22

Day 17 Newport to Moylgrove

8 miles. Elevation gain 1375ft.

Strava data

2015-12-24 09.34.04

I ran this section on Christmas eve, the weather was windy and it was quite hard going. There were some really boggy sections again, and I caught the culprits trying to look cute around a gateway. There were about 8 ponies who had been churning up the path and making it difficult to run on!  When I mapped this run I had mapped it at 7 miles so when I got to 7 miles I was at an inlet and not sure if it was Moylgrove or not. I dithered a bit then carried on as I had thought the road would be more visible, luckily my senses were correct as I found Patrick and the boys at the next inlet a mile away. Next run is the last section which I have planned for January so we can all enjoy the occasion! Looking forward to it but also will be sad to have finished.

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 Nutrition

At this time of year, every time you walk into a shop, you come face to face with large boxes of sugary treats. It is expected that you will at some point over Christmas “need” to have these products. We don’t! Its ok to treat yourself over the holidays, and its normal to put on a bit of weight as you will probably be exercising less and maybe eating more comfort foods, but think carefully about what you buy. If you buy it then you will eat it. Studies have shown that people who do not have these products (sugary drinks, biscuits etc) in their house eat a lot more healthily than those that do. (Sounds obvious, right?

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 13.29.56

 

Keep things in perspective, Christmas is only one day, make sure you don’t carry on that festive indulgence for a month, you can do this by being mindful of what you are eating. By being mindful I mean asking yourself some questions.

Do I want to eat this?

Sometimes you eat things just because they are there, and you want to be polite, you don’t have to do this. You can politely say “no thanks, maybe later” or just not help yourself to things that you don’t really want.

Am I hungry?

A lot of the time we eat when we are not hungry. There are lots of reasons for eating (emotional, social, etc) but we only need to eat when we are hungry. If you are not hungry then don’t eat, simples!

Am I enjoying this food?

This is a bit like the first question, sometimes you will eat something and realise that you aren’t actually enjoying it, food should be enjoyable and a pleasant experience, but at times we can find ourselves eating things mindlessly without pleasure. Try and avoid this by being aware.

Have I eaten enough?

You don’t have to eat the whole bar of chocolate/cake/ jumbo bag of crisps, to satisfy a craving. You can have a small bit of something and feel satisfied with that, especially if you are not that hungry, and you just want to taste something that you enjoy.

How are you going to feel after eating/drinking this?

Choose treats wisely. If you are treating yourself, make sure that it is a treat. Is it really treating yourself to feel horrible after your binge? Is there another way you can treat yourself?

More tips next week on how to stay happy during the festive period.