Last year I tried to cram in as much racing as I could. Although I managed to string together some good results it actually left me pretty tiered and burnt out by the end of the summer. With my main race at the end of the year I decided to cut back on the racing and focus on sticking to a solid plan over the following weeks. Although I’d like to say it is going well the truth is that over the last few weeks I’ve missed more sessions then I’d like to admit. It has become a regular occurrence to see home time come and go as I deal with another sick patient on the ward, or handed more paper work. Add to that my newfound passion for DIY (I’m currently on first name terms with the staff at B&Q) I am often left reassessing that evenings training plans. That’s not to say its all dome and gloom though. Living in Lancaster has put me in close proximity to some rather large hills which effectively turns every session into an interval session.
With Hawaii only a few weeks away now I’d like to say I m in the best shape of my life, knocking off PB after PB but I’m not going to lie – I’m not. However having said that last year I went to Switzerland the fittest I have ever been, so focused on a good time. Everything had been perfect in the run up and the ideal taper – all to amount to the worse race of my life. By the end of the season when I was tiered, having raced a few IM and a half the week before, trying to fit sessions in around my studies and only arriving at the race the day before I had the best race of the year at Wales. It made me realize that sometimes we are our own worse enemies. Before Switzerland all I could think about was the race and everything I was going to do in. I got myself so wound up that I was struggling to sleep the days before and during the race I kept thinking about the little things rather then the overall picture only to blow up spectacularly. In Wales I thought of it as just a long training session – I’ve done plenty of 5hr rides with runs off it so why should a race be any different to these. I went there to have fun and really that made the difference. Even when Steve ran past me I was happy to take it at my own pace where as before I would have tried to keep up or run past only to potentially ruin my own race.
So what does this mean for Kona, that I’m not even bothering to prepare? Well not quite, I’m still cramming in the sessions; It’s amazing how we can mistake mental tiredness for physical. Some of my best run sessions have been at 11pm following a 13hr shift. Also after flicking through the pre race instructions and realizing that “athlete’s from cooler climates should arrive in Kona 3 weeks before the race to acclimatize” I’ve reluctantly swapped my fan for a heater on the turbo and donned a bin bag to really ramp up the sweat rate. I’ve even made a few trips back to the pool to try to remember what swimming feels like. I’ve purposely not trained too hard on the swimming front. I don’t want to be spread out at the front of the pack; I want to be sat right in the middle of the field where my chances of being eaten by a shark are significantly less.
Through my few IM races I’ve also come to the conclusion that appearances are everything during the race. The number of times I’ve looked at athletes stood next to me knowing they are going to be faster because they have shiner kit or brighter shoes. Well this year I have nothing to worry about. My bike will have its annual clean. My Offthecouchfitness kit has been laundered and my Scott racing trainers are back in their box after their outing at the Relay’s letting my other Scott trainers take the brunt of the Lancaster mud and rain. Nothing makes you run faster then a new pair of trainers (well maybe a whole season of focused training, VO2 max sessions and perfect nutrition. I’ll take the trainers).
Reading what other people are doing in their run up to Kona it almost sounds like I’ve given up in comparison. Well as I said before I’m going there to have fun – what could be more fun then beating Luke and Steve, and when I’ve run past them the enjoyment comes from every other person I pass. So boys I fully intend to ride and run myself into the ground on that course – It’s fun to see how much you’ve got.