So we are well into May, and the Triathlon season is upon us. Last year I had a lot to aim for, with all of my events building up into the September Ironman. This year it is a bit different.
With no major event looming at the end of the season, my desire to train has been low. That, combined with an ongoing ankle injury, has meant that I have been doing way less training than I should be (by way less, I of course mean none).
Determined to get back into my training, I went for a brief bike ride last week. Just over an hour on the bike and I was hooked again. It is strange how you don't really realise how much you have missed something until you have the chance to do that thing again. Being reunited with my bike and riding through the Hampshire countryside, I couldn't help but think back and remember how I rode this same bike 112 miles, and then ran a marathon. That seems like eons ago. I still can't quite believe it.
Spurred on by this re-kindling of my love of cycling, Bushy and I went out on Sunday for a sociable few hours. We got lost, but managed to eventually find our way to a pub which sold a very nice drop of local ale. Not having the pressure of training for a specific event and just riding the bike for the fun of it was great. We just enjoyed a nice sunny day cycling. What better way to spend a Sunday morning.
Now all of this talk of not having an event to train for is not exactly true, as on the 26th June I am competing at the Arundel Castle Triathlon. This is an Olympic Distance event, which means a 1500m swim, 40k bike and then 10k run. Either I am incredibly arrogant or overly self confident, but I don't see completing this event being an issue. In fact, I reckon I could go outside right now and complete this. That being said, there is a distinct difference between completing and event and competing at it. So with about 5 weeks to go, I have embarked on a proper training plan.
This plan is simple. Train 6 days a week. 2 swims, 3 bike rides and a couple of runs. Easy right? Should be around 10 hours training a week which I can fit in fairly easily without it impacting my home life too much. As usual, most of my training will either be very early in the morning or late at night, but I am used to this and it isn't a problem. My wife is on a exercise campaign too, meaning that we can train at the same time in the evenings and I am not abandoning her to go training all the time. Plus, there is no need for the mega long distance work I was doing for the Ironman, so time is not so much of a factor.
With the plan in place, I set about training this week. Monday was a beautiful evening, so I jumped on the bike when I got home and whizzed up and down the hills which are right outside my house. Only 35 minutes of riding, but 3 decent sustained hill efforts behind me I chucked the bike into the garage and then was straight out for a run. These sessions are known as "brick" sessions, where you cycle and then run afterwards. Designed to mimic the transition between Cycle-Run in a triathlon, they are a vital part of any triathletes training plan.
I am back into my barefoot running, so without further delay it was off with my shoes and onto the pavement. I love barefoot running, but it can be tough on your feet for a while whilst you adapt. As I had done no barefoot running for some time, I took it easy and only did 10 minutes, managing just over a mile. There was some gravel and broken tarmac but I handled this well and have no signs of blisters etc so my form must have been good. Great success!
With Monday training behind me I woke up on Tuesday feeling good. I was planning on going for a 6am sea swim with some friends from the Pompey Triathletes, but I woke up later than planned so this was out. Instead, I swam in the evening at the local pool. This is where the trouble began.
Starting off my swim session I felt (if you pardon the pun) like a fish out of water. I seemingly had forgotten how to swim. Combined with this was the fact that swimming really seemed to aggravate my injured ankle. This left me having to swim without kicking. This is fine in a wetsuit where your legs float, but without the buoyancy a wetsuit provides my legs sink like a stone, acting like a giant brake behind me. As I hauled and battled my way through consecutive lengths I was absolutely exhausted. The chap swimming in the same lane as me must have had a bath in Lynx deodorant, as I could taste this as I was swimming along. Hardly ideal.
After about 1000m of swimming I was done. My calf felt like it might cramp and I was fed up. Swimming used to be my strong point. Now it was apparent this was no longer the case.
Arriving home to cook dinner I discovered that my wife had hurt her knee running, so all in all not a great day of exercising for the Snooks. My ankle was swollen up. I was not happy. Waking this morning my ankle is hurting again. The ongoing saga of an aging triathlete.
Still lessons learnt and on with the plan. I will not be swimming in a pool again unless I absolutely have to. I don't enjoy the chlorine in the water, don't like having to turn around at the end of the length, don't like having to avoid the other people and would much rather swim in open water. So it looks like 6am sea swims are the way forward.
Perhaps see you at the beach?