Thank you… erm, Anonymous! I mean, I know who you are, but your secret is safe with me. Apologies for the 9pm turbo spinning and stuff.
As Anonymous has actually just seen, this weekend I spent about four hours completely re-organising my room so I can fit more of my training gear in there. I now have my own little studio-flat style pain cave, and Agro now lives in the same room as me, like it should be. True love, innit. Let’s not get onto all the sexy accessories that I’ve also bought you, the carbon bottle cages, the bento box, the aerodynamic pedals… oh God, what happened to me? I swear I used to be fun.
Of course, the first thing I did upon completing said pain cave was something I’d been dying to try for a while: see how hard it is to ride a TT bike on rollers. I can just about – just about – manage the stupid blue things on my road bike, but a TT bike? I swear, it’s impossible. It’s like trying to ride rodeo atop a herd of stampeding cats. Regular rules of physics, balance, dexterity; they no longer apply. Forget what you thought you knew, Abandon hope.
Anyway, so what else have I been up to this week? Well, shameless plug: I’ve been transforming into a social media floozy. Half-Rust now has Twitter and Instagram accounts – both @halfrust, both linked at the top of the page if you hover over the Social Media button. Shameless. Utterly shameless.
I’m writing this now looking back on the first week of my official Ironman training, and I thought it might be vaguely interesting (i.e. you’re going to like it or shut up) for the non-triathletes of you to see roughly what this training plan entails. So, here’s a delicately formatted table. I feel like a schoolkid doing maths again.
Actually, sod the table, WordPress ain’t playing ball. Here’s a list instead:
Monday: 40mins turbo
Tuesday: 6.5 mile run
Wednesday: 45 min swim session, plus 15 mins each way cycling there and back
Thursday: 4.5 mile run, plus 30 mins each way cycling there and back
Friday: 50mins wattbike (including 20min FTP test)
Saturday: 53.5 mile cycle into 7 mile brick run
Sunday: 15 mile run, 31 mile cycle
Before I start verbally digesting this, I’m just going to note that this is not entirely accurate to the plan I was given for the week. I will explain.
The week started off with the bloody stye of doom, so I couldn’t go swimming on monday as planned, hence the short emergency turbo session. Yes, I dressed up in full regalia – tri suit, tri shoes with no socks, aero helmet that definitely came off about halfway through before my brain melted into some sort of undefinable goop and dribbled out of my ears. Suffice to say, I looked like a right nonce.
Tuesday’s run was the first run of the year. Naturally, I picked a route that probably on an elevation map looked like San Fransisco but without the poncy flat bits. It was tough, and it hurt. Wednesday was a coached swim session, where I celebrated being back in the pool and being able to see again by still being the slowest person at the session. Balls. I’d been very excited at the start of the session, partly because of this arriving.
Picture kindly taken by my wonderful assistant Anonymous, who also helped with the zip and found the whole thing bizarre and hilarious. I am assuming she found being asked to take photos of me in a wetsuit in the living room hilarious, and not just the sight of me in a wetsuit. Even if that’s also probably pretty hilarious.
The new suit had me very excited for swimming, so getting there and feeling a bit useless was pretty irritating. I’d also been introduced to a couple of new club members as a club captain, and I feel it puts a bit of a poor show on if I’m not feeling at least reasonably competent. You make your bed and lie in it, I suppose; I hadn’t swum all Christmas, and it showed.
Thursday’s tempo run was horribly miscued and mistimed, and the less said about that the better. On Friday, I did my first ever FTP test, where you hammer it on a stationary bike for twenty minutes and it tells you how many watts per kg you’re producing on average and other useful stuff. Naturally I started out way too fast, as is my style, and flagged horribly towards the end of the test. In an empty wattbike studio, no-one can hear you scream.
By now, the frustration is really setting in. Four days in, at the point where I’m supposed to be at my most motivated, most irritatingly naive, ‘New Year New Me’ bollocks; I’ve not yet managed to hit one session in a way that’s made me feel satisfied.
This was always going to be the kicker: with depression, as with any sport where you’re competing on an individual basis, you are always going to be the biggest single obstacle you have to overcome. As soon as those thoughts start coming in, the I’m not strong enough, I’m not tough enough, I’m not fast enough – all these things, at the end of the day, are yours and yours alone to conquer. Suitable rivals can drive you, and coaches and training partners can help you along the way, but there comes a point where outside influences only go so far and you have to focus all that by yourself.
There was definitely a point on Friday afternoon – around the time I was stuffing half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter flavoured miracle down my gullet – where I had to have a serious word with myself. One bad training week does not a bad athlete make. The interminable appetite for ice cream, now that is more likely to be the end of me. I’m very aware of my propensity to throw a strop as soon as things that mean something to me even start to look like they might not go 100% perfectly. I guess when you’re trying to reconstruct yourself in your mid twenties, each small setback feels magnified; because having seen where small setbacks can escalate to, every mis-step could be the beginning of another downward spiral. I’m on a roll here, I’m not being derailed now.
Forcing myself back into a better headspace – it’s only a few days, stop being pathetic you whiny whiner – the weekend went a hell of a lot better. Saturday started with a very cold, windy, wet ride up some of the worst bastarding hills that bastarding Kent has to offer (on the plus side I now know there’s a much easier route up Toys Hill). Despite the somewhat unpleasant conditions, it was a pretty enjoyable session; I managed to pace myself on a long bike ride, both in terms of effort and nutrition, which for me is a bloody miracle on the level of Leo winning an Oscar. I thought he was cursed, but it finally looks like he might manage it with Revenant. I’m so happy for him. Sniff.
So enthused by this sudden up turn in events, I managed to slightly misconstrue my brick run instructions. See, what was meant to be up to seven miles actually got translated in my head as at least seven miles… Which led to me, covered in mud splatter and looking like I’d crawled out of a swamp, sweating and panting my way around Brockwell park for what seemed like an eternity. Key lesson: always bloody read the notes your coach gives you.
Another afternoon of ice cream (and my own brand of Feng Shui) later, and my first long run of the year rolled around. This time I was ready: I had scribbled distances, times, and paces all over my arm in green marker. I promptly got lost in central London after worrying too much about pacing and not enough about following a goddamn map and never made it to Hyde park, instead tottering around Battersea for a bit to make up the mileage.
Next week I will probably join the Chasers’ Sunday long run, but I had to be a bit prompt this week as I had then scheduled myself to perform Captain’s duties for the rest of the day. Having learnt the ropes in the Chasers’ beginner triathlon program last year, I’ve been keen to give a bit back this year. One dislocated shoulder and one weekend in Rome later (neither mine, thank god/unfortunately), and I had scheduled myself in to help lead a beginner cycling session around Richmond park at midday. It was incredibly busy, but no one died. I think. None of our group died, anyway. That was a bloody good result, I thought.
I also noticed at this junction that I clearly have a default ‘excited’ face and need to change that. Time to get my Gatsby on and stare at myself in a mirror for hours (I don’t already do that – cheeky sods).
No rest for the wicked; get home, have shower, have dinner, where did all these hours go? Hash up ironing a shirt, and out the door I was to an evening social. Definitely, absolutely Captain’s duties, lead by example and all that. As with all Sunday socials, it got rapidly out of hand and long story short I’ve had three hours sleep. What a bloody week. I’m going to bed now. Ciao.
If you have been entertained or enlightened by the above, please consider contributing some money towards my fundraising for The Maytree Respite Centre, a small charity in North London that provides support for people going through a suicidal crisis.
Shameless. Utterly shameless.
Also, part of the reason I’m doing this is to raise funds and awareness for The Maytree Respite Centre, a small charity in North London that provides support for people going through a suicidal crisis – so if you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, please click here. Thanks so much!