Northern Europe’s very flat, isn’t it? I miss Agro. These roads are too perfect. Sure, I’ve been sat in a car the whole way (currently approaching Copenhagen, which I’ll no doubt have reached by the time I post this because, y’know, Wi-Fi) so I haven’t had a chance to properly experience the coastal winds past three quarters of an hour sat on the ferry from Germany to Denmark. Still, the cabin fever is creeping.
Impatience, I think, has been adopted as my new character flaw, certainly in relation to sports. Over the course of an eight month training plan – even beyond that, going back two years now to when I first chucked some trainers on and went for a two mile run – progression in itself doesn’t quite feel like anything tangible. It’s a blessing and a curse that any single training session is not truly key: improvement hasn’t been from session to session, but as a general character arc. This is great in terms of not kicking oneself too much for missing a session (which I have managed to get the hang of, though it took some time); but less so in other respects.
Maybe it’s the inferiority complex I feel slightly to other, faster triathletes than me – or the mild infuriation that I could have been doing this years ago rather than doing whatever other mildly nefarious things I got up to as a disinterested delinquent teen. Particular in respects to cycling and swimming, which I feel like I really should have had more of a backing in. It feels remarkably like the long depressed spells I went through, where I felt like I was just a step behind the rest of the world in working out how life ticked along.
This impatience drives me now – I constantly feel like I have to be the heard worker to play catch up, even if I don’t always actually fill that role. My minor obsession with marginal gains could probably also tie in with this, trying everything to shave those extra seconds between me and the impossible perfect ideal. I’m spitballing here.
At a more granular level, I wonder if my need for forward motion is a bit easier to figure out. I haven’t made a massive secret of that fact that I hate indoor, confined training. Turbo? Nope, give me a century ride instead. Pool set? Throw me in a lake, temperature unimportant. Let’s no even get started on treadmills. That idea hasn’t been broached. It will not go down well.
The issue, as far as I’m concerned, boils down to me being unable to properly visualise what a set is unless I can see the scenery moving. Swimming three kilometres in open water feels like a lengthy challenge, but swimming three kilometres in a twenty five metre pool just feels like endless repetitions of the same thing. I can’t visualise what I’m gaining from it. The impatience in me just sees the repetition, rather than the singular unit of outdoors training sets.
The thing is, I’m not sure if these types of training are quite as effective from a purist’s point of view; but an effective set is only an effective set if you properly commit to it, which I have trouble with. This’ll have to change post-Kalmar if I want to see the gains on the bike that I feel I need, in many of the same ways that a teenage socialite needs the latest iPhone. Zwift, Zwift is my answer to this. Gamification of training. I can’t see any other way to keep my bum in the turbo over the winter months – not that I want to be training super hard, but a quick half hour blast once or twice a week might not be a bad idea.
If I have any persisting concerns over Saturday’s race, I would have said nutrition was foremost on my mind. That said, a couple of phone calls and conversations last week made me realise that due to nutrition problems I had at the start of my training plan, I’ve spent so long dialling this in that really I’m a lot more prepared than some of my new long distance peers that I draw comparisons with.
My concern has now switched to impatience. My pacing can be a bit flaky at the best of times, and I have never really got the idea of negative splits into my head. I’m concerned that I might either be tempted to go out too fast on the bike, and end up blowing up after a couple of hours; or that I might, for a couple of reasons, do the same but on the run. I’m working a little bit each day on visualising an easy start out of T1 and T2, but the baying crowds of the day might get my blood up a bit (I do love a good bit of crowd-pleasing). If I can keep my impatience in check, and get my head around the discipline a successful long distance race requires, I think I have the capacity to surprise a few people.
The rest of these will be more positive. Just needed to get that out. As you were.
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!