Thursday, 31 December 2009

the year that was 2009

a slow start to 2010, so whilst steven is taking the chance to sleep off a few beers, i thought i'd take a look through my training diary from 2009.
the changing of the decade is usually not that significant in terms of my training year, which starts and ends in the autumn - usually October if Kona is on the calendar - but it just happens that janurary 2009 is when i became 'full time' and we began our 'journey' around the globe in pursuit of warm weather, cheap digs and inspiring training environments.

2009 kicked off with tickets to NZ bought out of the redundancy pay, bags packed full of excitement and expectations for a year of total age group dominance as a full time Ironman triathlete. 3-4 weeks in janurary exploring the wonderful training opportunities in Christchurch followed, logging +40hrs /week prior to Epic Camp New Zealand in feburary and i'd certainly logged more volume than ever before. Of course its not a linear relationship and the inevitable fizzling out was only just around the corner. Its tempting to pinpoint the moment as somewhere around 25km into the run course at Ironman New Zealand in march, but for sure it'd been happening since Epic. steven's tendon injury, hasty surgery and ordeal of transporting a distressed invalid back across half the world certainly impacted both my psychological and physical state post race and this was certainly the low point of the year for both of us. however, on the positive side, the time i spent in somerset was great for establishing a very good network for training with local gyms, triathlon and swimming clubs. I had also enlisted the help of scott molina to coach me through the season to Kona. i dragged myself through a couple of unimpressive marathons in april, recovered poorly and it was not until we arrived in lanzarote for for a month of pre race preparation in may, and steven was really on the road to recovery, that i was able to focus on getting into shape. scott managed to pull me through and the race came good, just about.
A decent bit of recovery and DIY followed this race and from here on things started looking a lot better. A summer spent in the UK, june was a time for riding in somerset, july we relocated to Rutland for a house-sit and some solid cycling around a new area of the country in a large country house there were few distractions except for the milton keynes olympic distance race. not a bad day out with a third place finish there though my transition skills had seriously gone to the dogs with all this long distance stuff! august brought the ETU long distance championships in prague, a chance to race in GB kit again and try a new distance - not really to my advantage with a 4k swim and only 30k run, but with a solid couple of months training behind me, i raced well there and returned with a gold medal, a couple of new acquaintances and bit of a confidence boost. in september a favourite pre kona prep/test race the vitruvian brought us back once again to our friends on Rutland. though I had not been showing great strength in training, i felt sure that i must be in good shape - but the result was a disappointing performance and third place finish. 15 minutes slower than i'd covered the course in previous years and probably attributable to a careless attitude toward a race which i'd assumed to be as good as won. that and the hot competition! the following day was my birthday and we rode the 110 miles back to london with a few teas stops along the way before getting back to the business of preparing for the world ironman championships. first class flights for us thanks to a very generous mate of steven's made the long journey to Hawaii pretty exciting. october started with about a week of jet lag and acclimatization - a good move to head to the big island early, and by race day we had pretty decent tans and fully restored sleeping patterns and a fair share of nerves. i did feel that the pressure was on for this race - my stated year's goal was to win my age group. but i knew i really was not in the shape i needed to be to achieve that. my revised goal was to get my head in the right state and race as hard as i could - for a 'not worse than 5th' place finish. i came in 6th, having given it 100% effort, with perhaps only 80-90% judgement letting me down. i was satisfied that i had succeeded in my first objective, at least. november is always a bit of down time for me, a bit of r&r and a few cross country races, and then before i knew it we were getting back on a plane headed for western australia for december's race in busselton. i would not be racing this, but tagging along as supporter and taking advantage of a more pleasant environment to get back on my training bike!

it was easy to assume that with no work to get in the way of training and recovery my performances would just sky rocket automatically. i've learned this year that its not as simple as that. when i think back to 2007, 2008 and the amount of effort that went into my training, simply because it was necessary to never let up in order to get the training fitted in around a working week and domestic life. had i translated the same effort into the training /traveling this year, then perhaps i would be stella triathlete and world age group champion now. more likely i would be a worn out heap, or have packed it in entirely. I think that i was lucky to have 'got away with it' for the last few years, but that level of focus and work are not sustainable/healthy. 2009 has been a period of readjustment: to a new approach to training, ensuring continued enjoyment of the sport which used to be just a hobby and has now become the main focus of my life and adjusting to a new set of 'domestic' stresses and concerns that come with having no fixed abode. of learning that the grass is not always greener and that there is definitely 'no easy way'.

however, despite a fairly disappointing year of racing, i've logged a great year of training which i will build on in 2010 and hopefully been through a deal of the teething problems that inevitably come with such a career and lifestyle change.

Some figures for those curious about what 'full -timing' means in terms of training:

my average training hours per week was 27 - this figure is scewed by the very light training weeks that precede and follow racing so a better representation is to say that a typical training week is in the range 28-36 hrs.
average (mean) daily training hours was 3.9, with 3-5hrs/day being the most common daily volume and equal number of 1-3 and 5-7hr days. this represents a typical week which includes a lighter day and a long day.

In terms of swim bike run numbers:
mean distance swum /week = 14km - modal range of 12-16km
mean distance cycled/week = 231miles - modal range 200-250mi
mean distance run/week = 37 miles - modal range 30-36 (this is the most typical weekly volume - there are a few much bigger run volume weeks which have nudged up the athithmetic average)

this is not atsronomically greater than the amount of training that i logged the previous year, however there has been greater focus of pace, quality and recovery and it has had a far lesser stress impact on myself. it has also been a lot more pleasant!! bring on 2010 :o)

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