Week 1 – (W/C 6/5/2019)
A few weeks back, late on a Monday night, I (Andy) received a Facebook message from Tim. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Tim is a friend from many years back. He took me on as a summer worker in his sound / lighting company for the festival season. I got the opportunity to be on stage with some huge names and travelled all over south England getting paid to watch / provide live music to paying festival-goers. Tim is known for getting stuff done, whatever it takes. With this mentality he has created festival sites from fields in no time at all, but also completed some endurance events. Tim now lives in Portugal with access to some incredible trails to run and ride. Oh, and some fantastic rivers and lakes to swim in. The perfect training ground for say, a triathlon.
His message said:
“Hi mate…all good? Hope its good in your world! So, to put it bluntly, me brother is wavering/seems to be bottling the iron man we had said we’d do in Sept..so, i’m looking for a partner! And, as, well tbh your’e about the only person i could think of! So, yes, bit random i know but have a think and let me know if you fancy doing an iron man with me!”
After confirming it was the 70.3, and not diving straight into a full Ironman, I began to seriously consider the possibility. Would it be possible to fit in training for 3 disciplines with my commute? What if circumstances changed? Would my knee injury come back? When was the last time I swam? With all these questions spinning around my head without answers, I said YES. #SayYesMore. Infact, I didn’t just say yes, I signed up and received the email…
A goal set in stone
The goal was now set in stone. 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi ride and 13.1 mi run on 22nd September 2019. My confidence levels weren’t low, nor where they high. I used to be a fairly strong swimmer, for a 10 year old. I remember swimming a mile on one Saturday morning so figured, having grown up, I could probably do it again with a bit of practice. The ride, Only a couple of years back i’d competed in some of the hardest one day events in the UK and the world, not to mention racing in the amateur world championships and ridden up to 200 miles in a day. The ride would no doubt be the foundation of my Ironman experience. The run. Well, I’d started running before Christmas and incurred a knee injury that I [stupidly] didn’t do anything about. I knew I’d need to see someone about not to aggravate the injury so I did a bit of research on running styles, gait analysis, shoes etc. I still need to see someone and get some shoes for my running style, or lack of.
And so the following Thursday, it got real. I put my running shoes on and ran. I only ran 1km, but I ran. The aim would be to build this up 1km every week until the event, perfect given I had 21 weeks until the event. I also ran at the weekend, and cyclo-support my sister racing on the Sunday. But on Monday it went from real to serious. The first full week of training started and I was a little excited / nervous / questioning why I’d just paid nearly £300 for 8hr30 (hopefully less) of pain.
So here goes, here is my plan for training over the next 20 weeks until the event.
- Monday – Swim (7-8am), Run (6pm)
- Tuesday – Ride (2hrs)
- Wednesday – Ride (1.5hrs), Swim (9-10pm)
- Thursday – Run / REST
- Friday – Swim (7-8am)
- Saturday – Ride (2hrs) into Run.
- Sunday – REST.
The plan is really based around the swimming pool session availability. Then around that, future commutes by bike on a Tuesday evening / Wednesday morning could be possible, with runs fitted in where possible. I’d purposely left it to be quite flexible over the weekend, with the intention of mixing rides into runs, open water swims, or just longer of any of the 3 disciplines as our plans allowed.
I rocked up at the pool on Monday morning at 6.58. Swim shorts, googles and cap in hand. I’d only once before done an adult morning swimming session. I climbed down the ladder at the far side of the pool, and dropped into the deep end. I missed all the signs for the shallow end, where it’d have been sensible to start. But I was in and started swimming. It became evident very quickly that I needed to build my confidence in breathing under water, but at least I remembered the breathing patterns. I managed 45 minutes of 50m stints before getting out, showering and driving to work. Once back home from work, I also started running, just a 2km to begin. Day 1 – GOOD START!
Tuesday, as the schedule said, was a ride day. I’d laid out this plan with the future in mind, opening up to a 30mi commute home on Tuesday night followed by a 30mi commute back on Wednesday morning, but I wasn’t feeling that on my first week. I ended up working late, and then we’d agreed to watch Avengers Endgame that evening so I didn’t manage to ride, but did however on Wednesday. Just a short one, getting the legs in and adjusting to the volume of training. We ate, and then at 8.45pm headed out to the pool. Gee decided to join me for the evening sessions, and was able to help me get my breathing on track. I felt far more awake and managed over double the distance in the same time, improving my breathing as I went.
I then swam again on Friday morning, though the pool was a lot busier. It felt more like 26m lengths with the amount of turning to avoid other swimmers, but I guess its good practice for the real thing!.
Finally, on Saturday morning I headed out for a ride. I’d half hoped to combine the ride with a bike-pack, but it was chucking it down on Friday night and the thought of cycling for a couple of hours into the peak, in the rain didn’t win me over. Instead, I got up early and left by 6.30am on Saturday morning.
From turning out of our drive, I felt a strong, cold headwind and I knew it was going to be with me for at least the first half of my ride. I planned to go north, into the Peak District and loop back round climbing some of the passes on my way. However, this didn’t happen. The wind was so brutally cold that I decided to pack it in just as I reached Carsington Water. I turned around to face the Sun and catch a tail wind back south. My average speed sky-rocketed, as did my morale. At the point of turning around, I thought I’d probably return with 35mi under my belt, but I found small country lanes, winding through the countryside that I decided to take. My miles soon clocked up, so much so that I reached race distance – 56mi. Not bad for week 1!
Week 1 – done!
Pretty pleased with my effort, I didn’t attempt a run and took Sunday off ready to start again on Monday. Week 2.
On reflection of week 1 of training for three disciplines, I’m pretty pleased. I’m certainly glad that its week 1 and there’s still 20 weeks until the event though! Fitting it all in around work is going to be a challenge but I’m not going to beat myself up for missing a session every now and then because I’ve got something else on. It’ll be what it’ll be and I just hope I make the cut offs to be in with a chance of starting the run and actually finishing it!.