Category Archives: Ironman Training

The Countdown begins…

The recent silence on the blogging front is probably due to one thing – training…Well the combination of work, training and complete lack of time generally. So with 8 weeks to go would I recommend this whole process again? What are the benefits of bascially dedicating one part of your life to a fairly solitary existence? After all all of the disciplines are individual. Yes you can train with others but…well lets just say there is more banter in a goldfish bowl…

On reflection, this has been double edged, solitary, a bit selfish yes, but it does show what you can achieve if you focus and are disciplined. There have been sacrifices, the odd trip to the pub and the weekend lie in are luxuries that I dream of.  Indeed, when I am out on  parole after August, maybe these small luxuries will be returned, or maybe I will become addicted to training, lose all of my marbles, relationships and end up an Ironman bore…(some might say this happened), although fortunately the relationship is still going strong.

What have I learnt? Well,  on a serious note, its pretty amazing what you can do when have focus, a clear goal and a bit of determination. I am probably as fit or fitter than when I was professional tennis coach, 20 odd years ago. It has been an exhilarating, exhausting but ultimately satisfying experience. Sleep is now my friend. No night awake worrying about work, kids money – too exhausted. Sleep overcomes all, as soon as your head hits that pillow.

On a lighter note, the ironman is a financial drain like no other. The marketing machine is slick, like a drug dealer selling heroin. The more you have the more you crave. Equipment, merchandise, anything. I am sure that if branded hair bands were marketed as something that makes female athletes go faster, they would sell like hotcakes, at exorbitant margins. Us athletes are willing prey…. In fact I think becoming a heroin addict might be cheaper 😉 This is a joke for any one worried about my mental state.

As the autumn beckons, I dream of the weekend lie in. No more 6am bike rides (well there might be some) but maybe not 6am. The question is what will take the place of this relentless schedule of training. Well, I do hope that I will continue some focus towards training, as I do feel better than ever. However, this is a fairly solitary and selfish discipline. Some attention will go back to those who have supported this endeavour.

A little more social interaction will be welcome. Whilst cycling with others or running is ok. The banter isn’t exactly mustard. There is only so much interest I can take in your resting heart rate or what your cadence is (yawn). I even bore myself sometimes.

In all would I recommend this to someone else. Of course, but given that I am not an elite or professional athlete, don’t take it too seriously or it could absorb your life… And by the way your friends and family aren’t necessarily as interested in split times, VO2 max or in fact anything else to do with your training. Treat these people well….

While you are here. I am doing to raise money for this fantastic charity.. Thanks for reading.


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Feeling weirdly relaxed – (Still scared though)

We have made it through the long winter, the sun has shone, early weekends have meant long bike rides in solitude and loving the tranquility and beauty of our great countryside….Life affirming and exciting, if a little chilly. Apparently, not as chilly as the lake.

In previous missives I have shared my fears about the bike, having only recently graduated from a Raleigh Grifter with various decorations on the wheels that really don’t help triathletes in anyway and the general fears about such an event. However, bizarrely, maybe after reassuring words from my coach and perhaps gaining a greater perspective a feeling of calm has descended. Perhaps ancient buddhism is right. Learn to accept the challenges, focus on the now and probably more realistically, learn to breathe properly. This is clearly a clear way of prevention of panic attacks and hyperventilating.

There is a serious point in here – the training and concentration do induce a sense of well being and calm. Of course, there are worries and fears, but I am not sure this is specific to attempting an Ironman. I could easily trot out cliches about ‘controlling what you can control’ and other such meaningless mantras, but in essence having a focus and enjoying what you do is far better than worrying about what you cant do or what might not be right.

This is not an attempt to stop striving for improvement, far from it, but it is an attempt to stop trying to achieve perfection. As specialists in Continuous Improvement will tell you, the clue is in the title…. The journey will not be linear. Some weeks, some days will feel better or worse than others because that’s life. However, it is important to acknowledge, and even celebrate getting out for that run swim or ride, or even a walk. The tough ones are probably the most valuable for so many reasons. In addition, listen to your coach, not every session has to be hard. There is a method and purpose to easy sessions. Maybe this is something to dwell upon in life. Beating ourselves up for the smallest error or taking it easy, is no way to live. Enjoy the fact we have down time. This is perhaps when we get better at things.

Spectating at the London Marathon this weekend was just the tonic – watching different folk with all sorts of different goals, and reasons for running puts everything in perspective and does remind me that the human spirit is fundamentally, strong, good hearted and resilient. That is something to aim for…And helps keep the training in perspective.

I am sure the fears and the panic, will rear their heads again. I will be open to that and enjoy the process. After all being scared can be helpful some of the time…Right?

If you can please give to this amazing charity

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Spring does make a difference….

The dark days of winter are behind us, no longer indoor drudgery of indoor bike sessions and rising early in the dark for that early morning swim.

With 5 months to go until Copenhagen, there is light. My mood has changed with the ability to get outside. Long bike rides….. Now I say this, so far I’ve managed a few and of course this has been great with some pitfalls.

The obligatory tumble because I forgot to unclip in time, middle of the road with two other cyclists. Of course, they were gracious enough not to laugh but cartoon time was clearly with us. Everything in slow motion, my legs moving to get free in mid air, well they weren’t because they were stuck to the bike. Luckily only ego and pride bruised, a standard lesson for all cyclists.

Then the glories of early morning bike rides. Early spring sunshine illuminating the countryside, just the noise of the wheels whirring and  tyres collecting the miles. However, no one told me, it’s bloody cold on the bike. Within, 40 mins hands and toes solid blocks of ice, with still 30 miles left. Eskimos would be better suited to this training.

However, there is still the exhilaration of being on the open road until you discover the real state of Britains roads. I think I know what it was like to ride a Penny Farthing. Bones shaken and rattled, like I have in a good blender. The pot holes are deeper than craters and your body anticipates tbe judders with Pavlovian ryhthm.

The fresh air and exhilaration does counterbalance this and being in the sunshine and fresh air stiffens the sinews. Those early swims are getting easier and it seems the indoor training of the winter does pay off. I could go into the detail of Heart Rates and my speeds but that seems pointless, nerdy and overblown. After all, I’m not going to win tbe Ironman, I’m there to enjoy and for once in my years of running and competing, stay in the moment and savour this endeavour. After all, I could beat myself up about a minute or two here but what will that achieve. I’m healthy and have some great people around me… and tbe cause I’m raising money for does make a difference to families with greater challenges than I’m facing…..

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It’s not all toil and drudgery

The 6 month countdown begins to Copehagen. The days are getting a bit warmer and lighter and real training begins. All so far so normal. My previous blogs have explored my fears, worries and overall anxiety about the size of the challenge ahead…So a change of tack this week. Nearly all of this is one of the most positive experiences for many reasons (selfishly) and very funny.

Thankfully, I have supportive partner, why? Because if I was single there would’ve no hope of ever attracting a partner. The sheer monotony of my conversation, obsession with Heart Rates, distances my bike, my body etc….Donald Trump’s narcissism is amateur by comparison. Our need to sleep at least 8 hours a day does tend to quash romantic life….I was sharing a pizza recently with a fellow IronMan wannabe, whilst we were discussing the minutiae of transitions, interval training and average speeds on the bike, his girlfriend had finished Tolstoy’s War and Peace, in the original language. She is no linguist but the ennui drover her to fluency.

Joking aside, even if I could not compete in August for any reason,there are so many lessons to reflect on.Firstly, this is a good lesson in changing mindset.If you had asked me6 months if I couldfind5 or 6 hours a week to train (I am not including weekends here),I would have looked at you like you had arrived from Mars and told me that we have a reality TV star for President and that the most popular politician in England is female and Scottish;). In reality,  the shift isn’t radica a little focus, some forward planning and sticking to a plan – hardly rocket science but who said I was?

I am now fitter and healthier  than I have been for many a year.That includes running several marathons in the last 10 years. Cross training is really much better for you and I do just respect my body that little bit more – despite chocolate biscuits. I sleep well and generally eat the right things because I feel like it. Not some new age faddish diets, or ridiculous supplements or even inhalers, but freshly prepared home cooked food with plenty of fruit and veg.

I sleep better – no longer is a glass of wine the natural anaesthetic. I am properly tired, not exhausted just tired.

Would I evangelise about the experience and become all west coast evangelical about the experience? Of course not I am English first of all and this would be impolite. Secondly, I think we’ve had enough of Americans telling us how we need to live our lives. Not keen on that thanks. But all I will say is that change does not have to be radical.Small changes can make a real difference to fitness, health or anything. Overall, it is personal – therefore not something to be imposed on others

No wonder us English never make great evangelicals – far too self deprecating! Thanks for reading….

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Rest Days and the fear that this could become addictive

Sir Steve Redgrave was famously quoted after his record breaking Olympic triumph “I’ve had it.If anyone sees me near a boat, they can shoot me”. There is many a turbo session or long swim where I am dreading the thought of 12 hours plus slogging away. And we are 6 months away from the event.

When I saw that my plan last week contained 2 straight days of rest (Pilates doesn’t count), I was practically doing cartwheels. Well I would have done had I not been so damn knackered after 6 straight days of training. Endless laps in the pool boring turbo sessions, no more box sets just normal telly….But…

On waking, (after a considerable lie in, something I’ve not been able to do for years since the kids were born), the was the sudden craving, slight guilt and what can only be described as edginess. Cold Turkey had begun. Then the thought of no training for 48 hours. I was like recovering drug addict..How could a short swim hurt? 30 mins on the bike you know you want to..My alter ego was playing tricks. In the past this voice may have been encouraging the extra glass of wine (not at 10am I hasten to add) the dopamine receptors were demanding a very different fix.

I stayed strong, but the edginess remained – for day 1.By day 2 I had clearly gout used to the relaxation but ever so slight boredom. What did in a lunch hour before training began in earnest. Well, sadly social media and sports websites and sitting on my backside. Time just frittered.Now it seems I am looking for any spare opportunity to get a training session in.  Whilst this maybe understandable in the midst of training for a crazy event. The question occurs to me – what happens when it’s all over? Will going for a 10k run or 1 hour bike ride feel like liberation or will something else fill the void?

I can never be compared to to Sir Steve,his achievements are incredible, but I can kind of understand why he kept on going…the fear of what might replace it…

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Sleep is now my new best friend…The journey continues..

My new appetite for chocolate biscuits or, in fact, anything vaguely edible was well document last week. The hunger and grumpiness with lack of food is a common problem/challenge for endurance athletes the world over…. What I guess you can never factor in is tiredness..

I am not talking here about ‘ I am so tired, I have had a busy week at work’. This has a part to play but I am tired because of a busy work week, child care duties and I ve fitted in 2 runs 3 swims and 4 turbo sessions. This fatigue really creeps up on you. It has stealth, like a cat. It takes you by surprise. The focus of an Ironman has changed my behaviour. I now look for any opportunity to squeeze in a training session whether it be first thing in the morning, lunchbreak or after work. What I didn’t realise is this same behaviour is focussed upon any opportunity to fit in sleep.

Sure the training does ensure you, generally, sleep well at night, but I can now find justification for a nap at anytime and in any place. Commuting is my favourite (clearly by train not car). Warm trains, albeit not hugely comfortable are perfect for 30-45 mins of shut eye. I am your worst nightmare, quite possibly dribbling on your shoulder, but oblivious because twenty winks is pure heaven. Weekends….Oh my having to get up early for the Run/Bike  or swim sucks but come 2pm on saturday afternoon…Cup of Tea (chocolate biscuit clearly) and away we go…What could be better…

Some click bait article last week suggested that there we merits to dating a triathlete…all mainly focusing on physical attributes and sexual prowess (surprise surprise). However, the downside is that your partner may think you have turned into a cat. When not training, sleeping for any amount of time necessary. The one upside, as a triathlete, you would never know your partner is cheating on you – you are either asleep or training!!!!

Happy days!

Please give if you can…




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Chocolate Biscuits, The Pool and other Ironman Hazards

Last week you may have heard me perhaps complaining about my committment issues (not romantically) although my partners’ maybe be sorely tested when it comes to cravings regarding chocolate. More of which later…

February has brought a couple of challenges, earlier in the month, the stabilisers came off the bike but another stabiliser, the turbo trainer has become a mild obsession. For those not familiar a static bike stand so that you can ride indoors in the winter. Advantages are that you can avoid dangerous icy roads, avoiding crazy drivers. Disadvantages, anyone living in the house or visiting while you are training, leave the room convinced that this middle aged man in Lycra has completely lost his marbles.

I have no idea what my children think, but thank god they haven’t yet told me. As for my girlfriend, very supportive yet probably pondering the merits of going out with someone obsessed with staring at the wall on a stationary bike quoting motivational mantras. I feel a bit like Gareth Cheeseman for any of those familiar with Steve Coogan.

This weeks major challenge has been the diet. I have been relatively good since Xmas. Alcohol intake reduced hugely, being very good wit a nutritional diet (clearly obsessed I have made a food diary and had it analysed) and hydration. I have managed to avoid the nuttier end of the spectrum, I have no truck with crazy foods or fads or supplements. I am a realist and whilst the merits of a healthy  lifestyle are obvious, I m not going to suffer the opprobrium of friends and family who are desiring a burger and chips whilst I munch on quinoa or alfalfa hoots.

So the challenge….Chocolate biscuits… It seems I am a crazed man when faced with this temptation. Trainspotting  lime addiction is being sorely tested. Like a junkie I am driven to nearly any means to procure them.  Bingeing is not even adequate. Boredom ennui..  And starvation may well be a normal response to this increased level of training.However, as mentioned earlier I am testing my partner’s love and resolve because being the purchaser of said biscuits, she isn’t really getting a fair share. For this I am truly sorry. However, she can be consoled there is no way I could ever be cheating on her. I am too obsessed with Heart Rate zones and wondering what my VO2 max can be ….With Valentine’s Day looming she is in for a treat….

So the title suggests I have something to say about the pool….. I don’t …..125 lengths this week and not even half way through the week…Next week I might be able to get the damned armbands off. Is the sense of mania, boredom and fear coming through ? I hope so…
Until next time.

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