Featured Image-My brother in-law David Martin enduring his cycle from Cairo to Capetown.
There are four months to go until race day-Cairns 70.3 Ironman, 2017
Triathlon is something I just fell into accidentally about 16 years ago. Several staff within the intensive care unit in the Royal Melbourne Hospital all pledged to enter a ‘Just Tri-it Series’ over the Victorian summer.
Back then at 27, I was riding a mountain bike and racing 300m/10km/2.5km distances. This was challenging for me, as I’d never done anything like it before. I’d spent my formative years playing Basketball and Netball and competing predominantly in school sports such as athletics and cross country events-a direct result of living on a farm in central Victoria and being unable to physically get to anything else.
Over the years, I have entered various triathlon events, mainly sprints, a standard, many, many, fun runs, the 2010 and 2013 Great Pyramid Race, and I began competition swimming for a couple of seasons in the Australian Masters Swimming Comp when we moved up to Cairns to live.
In 2016, I did the swim and the cycle in a 70.3 team, and I have completed the 1.9 km swim in a team for 6 consecutive years in Cairns. However this year I bit the bullet and entered the whole 70.3 event, together with my husband.
It’s interesting because a triathlon of this distance has never really been a goal of mine. In fact, I haven’t really ever had any sporting goals, despite my active involvement and consistent training in one form or another. I usually just go for a run, or a swim, or climb a big hill at pace to alleviate the nervous energy I have always had. My preference is by far training over racing. Why? Good question. Racing gives me a degree of anxiety, when training is simply a lifestyle that suits me.
Training for an event however, seems to add a bit of the old “I have to train” rather than “ok, I feel like I want to train” element that I don’t like. So I have made a decision.
I do not have a Tri coach.
A coach is a massive advantage and is the answer to getting you across the line if you require an external voice to drive you to success. I would definitely benefit from one, however at this stage, I can’t justify the cost. So I am doing it by myself. I have opted for higher intensity and less training hours. This is because there are days, mostly during the working week, I simply don’t feel like going. I have two boys who have there own activities which demand my attention, I have a few hobbies that I love so much they literally keep me breathing, and I work in the hospital as a nurse 4 days a week.
For me, less is more and more is less. Confused?
For me to sustain the training to get me across the line in the 70.3 in four months time, I have to have the freedom of not training when I can’t, for whatever reason that may be. If I need a sleep in, I’ll have it, and I’ll train later that day instead. If I have to miss a session, I won’t panic, I’ll simply train at a higher intensity next time. I realise that to many super triathletes and those in training for Ironman this is rather an unorthodox approach. Surely, to finish one of these gruelling events, it requires unwavering discipline? Indeed, however there is room for a little creativity.
What do I mean?
I mean that everyone is different. Some train their butts off for 12-18 months prior and smash it, and some, train to cross the line. To say they’ve done it. To convince themselves they are still capable of physical greatness. Thousands of athletes push themselves to compete in these endurance events, but you won’t find two people that have had the exact same training experience.
I know, that if I burn out, I won’t even get to the starting line, and I won’t get to hang with all the awesome people in wetsuits, in the dark, wide eyed with excitement and anticipation. Race day is a great, great day. One feels a real sense of achievement even before the gun goes off and a huge sense of camaraderie, when racing next to fellow athletes battling the elements and withstanding the painful demands on their bodies. It’s when the reward for the 50 million flat tyres, the wake up calls before the birds chirp stun you into disbelief, and the terrible sessions that make you curse and question what the hell you are doing is forthcoming.
So for me, my training mantra is very much like this:
Train as efficiently as you can, when you can-because that’s how it works for you.
Be happy with whatever happens-there will always be, many things out of your control.
Enjoy the process- you are so, so lucky to be in a position to grow and to unravel ones strengths and ones weaknesses.
If it happens you are lucky enough at the end of the process to cross the line, smile, and enjoy the connection you now have with those who have trained with you, who have supported you and who are racing alongside you.
I pushed hard this weekend, and I felt the pain of having to meet a target distance as a result of an upcoming working week, but it’s done, and I’ve gained, and at the end of the day, I know, I’ve done the best I can, and that has to be good enough.
We’ll see what happens next week.