I have been feeling under the weather over the last week. At first I thought it was simply the body ‘crashing’ off the back of an intensive training phase (by my standards anyway). But it’s been a little unusual. RHR, blood pressure and motivation have been fine but I’ve felt drained of energy, generally quite bloated with the occasional head-rush, which made me think it was possibly something I ate. I picked up a slight eye infection for a couple of days but that disappeared by itself. I think back to the Double Ironman and the recent Ultra back2back runs, both of which I recovered from after a few days. Another possibility is that core fatigue from those events has only just started to surface although I’m feeling a little better now having eased back on training.
As I’ve said, motivation is high although at the same time I’m going through a mental (and perhaps now physical..) conflict in interests between Ironman, and Ultra trail running spec training. I realise now that being competitive to a high level at both is unrealistic. I need to focus on one or the other once the London Malvern Hills Ultra are out of the way. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any decent resources on training and racing both Ironman and Ultra trail running to a high level, so it’s all very much personal experience. But something I can pool from in the future when coaching athletes.
I have decided to take a complete week off after the London Marathon to recharge the batteries. I will then start building back the swimming and cycling properly. At the moment I could probably get by with a 1hr Ironman swim and a 5hr15 (flat) bike but it would be a struggle. And if I want another sub9hr time at Challenge Roth then I will need to factor in more midweek interval sessions. When I worked in a full-time office job a few years back I was able to structure my training really well, more so than I can now. The 9-5hrs forced me to get out of bed earlier to get in the workday morning swims (I had the pleasure of sharing my lane with Chrissie Wellington at Queen Vic Pool – what more motivation do you need!), followed by a lunchtime run or gym session, and an evening bike or gym session. A typical level2-3 (intensive week) structured weekly programme might have looked like this:
EVE – Gym resistance/technique/form (30mins-1hr)
AM – Swim (45mins), EVE – Bike or Gym Bike Int (1hr)
PM – Long Run (2-3hrs)
AM – Swim (45mins), EVE – Bike or Gym Bike Brick (1hr)
AM – Track Run Int (45mins), PM – Swim Endurance (1hr)
AM-PM – Long Bike (2-6hrs)
I achieved the sub9 Ironman off the back of this structure. The difference now is that I’m working around my coaching hrs and training by feel. The long run has become an ultra run, with 2-3 other medium distance runs spread throughout the week. Swims and bike rides are very much ad hoc. So despite the increased flexibility of my training and time available, because of the lack of structure and habit I’m finding it hard to keep the rhythm going. My fitness levels are similar to that of 2-3 years ago, and you could say the increased recovery periods are compensating for the lack of structure and balance in training. Once this season is complete I can look back at the season and get a more definitive picture of what went wrong (or right). One thing is for certain, I will have to specialise in one or the other of the sports next year to get the most out of myself. But which will it be – the glamour and speed of triathlon, or the uncomplicated and liberating experience of fell and ultra trail racing?
Sun 27 Mar – Kingston 16mile Run
Wed 30 Mar – Civil Service 10km Champs (Battersea Park)
Sun 17 Apr – London Marathon