I missed last month’s blog so I’m going to break the blog down into a section on each of the three Triathlon disciplines and what I feel I’ve achieved in each since February!
Having not swam properly all winter because the pools have been shut it’s back in the open water for skills, drills and technique practice. I know I can swim 1.2 miles but improvement in my technique is going to make me more efficient and save energy for bike and run. A friend of mine who is a very competent open water swimmer and coach has been chumming and guiding me. The water is still very cold so safety is paramount. Ear plugs are a must because cold water on the ear drums can cause dizziness and nausea as well as wetsuit, gloves, boots, hat, goggles and a float. Calming my breathing and controlling the adrenaline response has been a focus and this was put to the test during a pretty choppy swim recently. You can never underestimate the power of nature but I felt exhilarated afterwards driving home and remembering the swell of the water and the frigid bite of the natural spray in my face. The water should hopefully be warmer and calmer at the triathlon destination in June!
Cycling endurance and getting rid of negative thought patterns during a cycle have been a big focus of my training recently and I’ve had some success with this. Setting out on longer rides with more positive thoughts has not only helped me achieve those longer rides but I’ve enjoyed them more too. My average speed hasn’t gone up but that’s more due to the bitter cold headwinds and riding solo; I can tell I’m stronger and I’m more confident descending, cornering and gear changing.
Roots Cycles have given me some good nutrition tips. They recommended trying proper food on the bike rather than gels which can make me nauseous. I bought a great top tube bag from them and stuffed it with banana, malt loaf and bagel. Nibbling these every 20-30 minutes seemed to keep the bonk away on a recent 50 mile ride, and they are more enjoyable than gels I find. Being preemptive with hunger is the key, once I start feeling hangry it’s a long, hard road for sure! I have muscles and they need fed!
Also thanks to Roots for a very useful bike puncture repair lesson. My tyres are not the easiest to deal with but at least I’ll have a better chance to sort it should the dreaded puncture happen during the race. I also got a demo of tubeless tyres and I’m very tempted. Do you use tubeless tyres? How do you find them?
I’ve been less focused on running in my training because it’s my strongest discipline and without endless time to train due to family and work commitments I feel there are more gains to be made by improving my cycling which is the biggest portion of the race. Having said that, as I write this I’m heading out for a 10 mile easy run. Long, easy runs are not to be underestimated in your training. Even switch your watch off and forget about pace. I use them to relax, breath and focus my mind. I’m still doing hill repetitions for anaerobic fitness and injury prevention and it was great to be back with the Stirling Triathlon Club for a hilly, 10k run recently. I’ve also done a couple of brick sessions – running straight off the bike to test those jelly legs and teach my body to adapt from one discipline to the other.
The 4th,5th,6th disciplines…
As the race approaches it’s now time to consider the other factors in a successful race. It’s not just swim, bike and run. What to wear for comfort and efficiency? How to get there? Have I got a race belt? Non-tie laces? How efficient am I at getting my wetsuit off? What to eat the night before?
Coming back to the title of this blog, when I read this back it’s clear I have made gains in my training over the last 6 weeks. It’s very easy to focus on what you haven’t done or what you feel you should be doing. If you’re a busy mum like me then you need rest and time with your family too. Whatever your goals are do take a moment to look back on your journey and remind yourself of your gains no matter how small you feel they are. It all counts. Of course I want to be an Ironman 70.3 but I feel the gains I’ve made along the way, the adventures I’ve had and the people I’ve bonded with will mean just as much as the race itself if not more.