I have a theory. When the ointment that a doctor gave me a few weeks ago finally does it’s job and gets rid of this stye that has plagued me since the start of the year, I will finally hit a training week as planned. No ifs, no buts, no whinging, no quitting – I’ll be a new, styeless & stylish man, and everything will get done as it is supposed to. This is my theory.
Monday: Rest day. This one was planned.
Tuesday: Rest day. This one was not.
Wednesday: 45 mins swimming
Thursday: 50 mins running
Friday: 50 mins swimming, 30 mins running, 45 mins FTP test, 45 mins pilates
Saturday: 40 mins swimming, 35 mins running
Sunday: 1 hr 15 mins turbo
It’s certainly not happening right now. This week everything in life has been more up and down than Jesus’ heart rate circa 33AD (approx, whatever). Boom, that’s the obligatory Easter reference done for the week. My mood has been something like a hormonal teenager’s in it’s consistency, and training has generally gone completely arse over tit.
I’ve mentioned before how I get some pretty severe pre-race nerves. Well, with the Thames Turbo sprint coming up tomorrow, my usual 15-30 minutes of pre-race nerves have decided that they’d like to stretch out, just chill for a bit, y’know? All week. All goddamn week I have felt fidgety, ill at ease, clammy, and vaguely like I want to throw up. I’m pretty sure I haven’t eaten anything dodgy, so race nerves it is.
Yes, it is the first race of what will be a very significant, emotional season of racing. Yes, it is the first race I have to do Captain-y things for – which, at the moment, largely consists of panicking at the weather conditions. Not because they will be unpleasant (which they most certainly will), but because I’m worried some of my A-listers might pull out. Need those league points, dammit. Yes, I have also set myself a lofty goal time of 1:05:00, down from last year’s 1:16:46. I can drop three minutes on the swim and a minute on the run, sure. That still leaves me needing to make up eight minutes on the bike, which means I need to be dropping about forty seconds on each mile. I’m trying hard to convince myself that this is possible.
The concern for me right now is this: if I am getting this pent up about one sprint, how the hell am I going to cope with the pressures of an Ironman? I haven’t felt anxiety like this in a long while. If I get this restless before every race I do between now and then, I’m going to be a frayed bundles of nerves come August. If I hadn’t shaved my hair off last week I’d probably have pulled most of it out anyway.
Going back full circle to the start of this post: I think a lot of the ill feeling this week comes from my flaky training. I’ve had another injury scare, with my right knee suffering this time in the wake of last week’s impromptu race, which has left me hesitant to push the pace in any running I’ve done for the week. I’ve cut short and missed swim sets which has meant rearranging my sessions, and missing out on another hour of turbo I should have got in. I completely forgot to do my S&C work, which is a regular occurrence, except this week I managed to keep forgetting about it until I didn’t have any time left to fit it in.
Looking back since I started my proper training plan, I’ve not actually completed one week according to the rota set out to me by Coach Dan. I generally have not worried about this so far, as it’s been stressed to me how I need to be careful not to push myself too hard and burn out, physically or mentally, too soon. Also there was that achilles tendon debacle, which didn’t help. I’d be lying if I said this inconsistency wasn’t weighing on me a bit right now, though.
Today concludes week twelve of the training plan. One third of the way through. I kind of feel like we’re getting to the stage at which I should be worrying about things like this. I’m hoping that maybe tomorrow’s race will give me a kick up the arse discipline wise, but we’ll have to wait and see. It’s no use getting the sudden motivation to hit a week or two and then watching it unravel again. Well, it’s some use, I guess. Two week’s use. Better than nothing, but not ideal.
I’ve been working working this weekend to try and beat the jangly nerves through enacting rule 32 (these rules, not those rules). Despite the flaky commitment I’ve been haranguing myself for, I’ve tried to work on appreciating the small measurables that show improvement. That’s how you beat overthinking, right?
When I eventually got around to doing an FTP test, it showed that in the eleven weeks since the first one I did at the start of the year, my power output on the bike has increased by about 7%. This ain’t to be sniffed at. I also had a really good swim yesterday morning where I felt the smoothest I’ve been in a long while, so that was reassuring. Can’t be doing to bad on the training front, I guess.
After the FTP test I took some time to just go for a walk. I used to walk a fair bit, because when you’re unemployed and on benefits in London you have to genuinely weigh up the cost of each and every bus journey. It was nice to be doing something outdoors with no fixed objective, plan, or intensity. Plus the Crystal Palace dinosaurs are always good value.
I weigh myself on a regular basis. Having gone through some dramatic depression-related weight loss in the past, I remain slightly paranoid that all this exercise will cause my ribs to start popping out again. Schindler’s List-chic is not in this season. I’m happy to report that I’m maintaining a steady 67kg, and a large part of that is probably eating portions of food that my housemates this week have described as ‘ridiculous’, ‘obscene’ and ‘Jesus Christ you fat bastard’. I’m also looking much more athletically built with every day. Getting that ridiculous bulging calf/skinny knee look that usually I only see on the cyclist that’s just overtaken me.
Then today this happened. Look like a pro, act like a pro. They’re so smooth, I can’t stop touching them. It’s a problem. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep.
Verdict: I like this change of mental strategy. It’s made me much more relaxed. Make sure to keep an eye on Twitter/Instagram tomorrow, where I will probably post updates on just how my season opener has gone, how cold it was, and how drunk I’m subsequently going to get. I’m the Captain, and I intend to lead by example.
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!