Going long distance
Thanks to Jenny for allowing club members to get a bit of an insight into her decision to Go Long (read below). Well done Jenny for a great achievement of completing Ironman Austria and what I'm sure will be the first of many Ironman or similar long distance events.
This last couple of years, I’ve been known to quote “I could never do an Ironman”, especially since completing a couple of middle distance races. It just wasn't on the radar as something I could actually do. That is, until I saw this picture
& thought ‘I have to swim in there’! I entered Ironman Austria & had almost a year to train.
By October I was thinking about the training. Like most folk I’ve a busy job and family & along with 1.5 hours a day driving to work I was worried about how I was going to fit it all in. I decided to find a coach to help me, for two reasons. I needed to get the best possible training in the time available, and secondly, this would help overcome the self-doubt which plagues me when training for races, and means I need to get to start lines well prepared, self confident & not worrying if I’m going to be able to get round.
Cue Ewan Stirling who I spoke to at club swimming one night and asked if he would coach me! After a chat about the event & how much time I had available each week we started the training in November. I find training in winter best & tend to enter early season races. I also need routine to fit the training in around work, so Mondays were always a Wattbike session followed by club swimming, Tuesday running, Wednesday back on bike. That’s really how it went from November to the race on 01 July. If I missed a session then I couldn't really pick it up somewhere else in the week, so I just let it go. I don’t think I missed very many. I did 3 of each swim, bike and run sessions and 2 gym sessions each week. Training commitment ranged from 9 hours a week up to 17 towards the event, the gradual increases in duration meant that the training didn't feel too onerous. I was prepared for some long Saturdays out on the bike and tried not to commit to anything extra which would have made this difficult.
If you’re wondering about taking on the longer distance, here’s how it worked for me:
* Having a coach made a world of difference. It takes away the worry about collating your own training plan, saves valuable time in your already busy week and gives you a supportive person to chat about your training with (instead of driving your family nuts! :))
* On the subject of family, having a supportive one is top of the list & John was amazing as my support every week even joining me for some of those hard interval sessions :)
* Club sessions were invaluable & if it wasn’t for the support, coaching & friendships I’ve made in the club I wouldn’t have been doing the event. This also means you have friends to train with & Susan and Julie altered their own plans to fit in with my long bike rides every week and join me for well earned coffee, buns & chat at the end.
* I’m lucky enough to have a great job where I could have a longer lunch break of an hour, meaning I could do one session during the day and one in the evenings. Having a gym at work was also a major bonus.
* I worked hard on my mental game as well as my physical training, I kept a journal & did daily meditation using the Headspace app, the day before the event I felt remarkably calm, having reached the start line confident that I could complete the distance and ready to enjoy the day.
Was it hard? Yes, but I really enjoyed training for longer distance & I felt fit & well prepared.
If you're thinking about moving up to longer distance, consider your strengths, they will carry you through to the finish line. Then think about all the things you could get some support with, whether they are within each discipline of swim, bike or run, managing time commitments or finding people to train with. As for me, I’m off to sign up for my next long distance :)
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