7 Tips To An Ironman Taper: 2 weeks to go

Here’s 7 tips to taper for an Ironman (and a bit about my taper for Barcelona):

  1. Two weeks to go: Reduce the volume. Keep intensity

  2. Stick to your training routine

  3. Expect to feel flat, tired, unfit and negative!

  4. Remind yourself why

  5. Feel the fear – and let it go

  6. Give yourself time

  7. Fail to plan, prepare to fail

Continue reading

Killing five hours on the Turbo: three-week coundown

Last week was the three-week countdown, with promises of storms, wind, rain etc. I opted for a long turbo session on Saturday. Here’s how that five hours went (and the rest of the week).

Saturday was set up as my last long big brick training day before starting the two-week taper for Ironman Barcelona. After a slow 4K in the pool (setting goals like 1K continuous, 100s but no break etc), I came home and with my nutrition bottles full, snacks in the bento box, and race gear on, I got myself ready for a day on the turbo.

The Tacx turbo is currently on loan to me by Chris. He gave it to me to help get me going again after breaking my collar bone at the end of July. Do you remember? The heatwave! Last August I relocated to Brighton and downsized, so the turbo is squashed into a dark little section of what I laughingly call my ‘dining room’.  I’ve become accustomed to sweating it out in this small space, following fantastical, virtual routes on Zwift.

For someone who hates the treadmill, I’ve been surprised how I’ve come to quite enjoy training on the turbo. It could be connected to my general dislike of cycling, cars and all things mechanical. However, I think there’s also something in the masochism. In her book A Life Without Limits, Chrissie Welington talked about Brett Sutton’s unique approach to training, including putting his athletes into the training equivalent of a torture chamber, a treadmill in a room with no TV, no music, no windows.

Hungry after the swim I’d had a cafetière of coffee, and some marmite on toast, but I tried not to extend the already long transition (which had included a 20-minute drive along the A27 from pool to home). For the first 90 minutes I chose to listen to Graham Norton on Radio 2, a good interview with Lily Allen, and some banter, kept me ticking over.  I like the Watopia course as it makes it seem like I’ve covered a reasonable distance.

Inspirational Video

After one hour I got off the bike and searched Amazon Prime for some inspirational video. I’d watched Iron Cowboy on Friday night, about James Lawrence’s crazy 50 Ironman Races in 50 days! Yes 50! So, under the triathlon film section, the next choice was The Ultimate Triathlon, a documentary about Luke Tyburski’s  journey from Morocco To Monaco as a swim, bike, run, covering 2000km in 12 days. This was a handy 97 minutes, fitting in nicely with my planned break on the bike. After Luke’s epic journey, next on the list was the hugely inspirational Heart: Flatline to Finish, a story of six cardiac patients, followed over a year, as they take on Ironman. In between these films I’d treated myself to a cup of tea. Next up, I chose an inspiring endurance woman (who also happened to have a film that lasted one hour, just enough for my last section), Nikki Kimball’s 237-mile run across an impossibly hard trail, in Finding Traction: The Ultra Marathon Documentary.

And on I went…

 

With masochism on my mind, I kept going. Watching these individuals push the limits kept me pedalling. Luke repeatedly going unconscious after 15 hours of running, Nikki’s meltdown running 50 plus miles on no sleep, and the heart patients appreciating every second they had and the chance to follow their dreams.

The Why?

Of course these films, these stories, raise questions about the sanity and purpose of doing these things, including Ironman, and the reasons why? Watching as I rode, I was inspired by the heart patients who chose living over a death sentence and appreciated the social element and the support and camaraderie of doing triathlon (ironic as I spent all day on my own, but that will return). I won’t tell you the story, but one of the most inspirational of the group, who chose to coach as well as train, talked passionately about the chance to give something back. Similarly, Nikki a depression sufferer pre-ultra running, who questioned what the hell she was doing, and considered giving up, in that meltdown scene, was reminded of her inspiration. The next day she met a woman form the online community, Girls on the Run, a non-profit empowerment programme, inspiring girls aged eight to 13 through running. And to think I nearly gave up she said tearfully. And Luke, he simply said: If it doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t change you.’

For me ‘the why’ is a whole other blog post – which I may come back to at the end of this training block.  I was brought up a Catholic and so of course 40 days in the desert, fasting, stations of the cross etc… have left a lasting impression! Somewhere, deeply embedded in my subconscious there was a belief that suffering and endurance will lead to some kind of spiritual enlightenment. But I feel for me that’s an old idea and I’m currently reviewing my policies. I can’t help thinking that the masochism and suffering is a bit unnecessary… However, I do also feel the experience of pushing your limits, of being consistent, of training, is transformational. And for me I  have a feeling of having come full circle with my challenging and changing.  I know it’s a good thing. But as I say, I’ll come back to that.

And back to the Training…

Five hours on the turbo was followed by a slow run in the park in the rain. I’d started training at 830am and finished up by about 7pm (yes, there were breaks!). On Sunday the planned long run started well, I felt physically good, but mentally a little weary. By mile 14 I hit the wall I was reminded of the films I’d watched.  I was feeling very spaced out, going pale, and slowing down to a shuffle, but as a nod to Luke and Nikki I remembered I wasn’t remotely close to a limit. I’d just got my nutrition wrong!

A summary of the week

Two days in London, half a day tidying up my very messy house, the launch of DrivenWoman and a lovely treatment with the brilliant Greg Funnell* at Optimum Muscle Care meant I only managed five days training, but 14 hours was satisfactory – and what I could manage.

*Thank you Greg – I swam pain free on Saturday for the first time since the CB break.

And that is that really. I’m now in the two-week countdown. This week I do have three rides, three runs and three swims planned, but all of less volume and intensity. There’s breathing space. The training now shifts to stretching, relaxing, preparing and getting ready to enjoy the big day!

7 Life Lessons from Endurance Women

Endurance training and racing is a great metaphor for a successful and happy work and home life and applying the principles of endurance can teach us many key life lessons.

Endurance Women are…

1. Consistent

We do the same thing week in week out. Training can be boring, it can be hard, it’s not rocket science and one of the key things is just doing it. Once you’ve made a commitment to it, it’s a case of doing it day after day, week in, week out. Any elite athlete will tell you consistency is one of the key components of success. The same can be said of going to work and repeating daily tasks, doing the housework, the food shopping, getting the kids to school. The buzz, the excitement, of gold medals, promotion and great exam results, won’t happen without the doing!

2. Focussed

Endurance women set a goal, whether it be a race, or training session goal and they stick to it. Taking part in events for running, triathlon, open water swimming, cycling gives you a linear path to follow. The goal is crossing the finish line, whether it’s 5K or a 500-mile trek across Asia. Big or small, goals are simply the end point, and help set you on the path of doing. Goal-setting works in life, as the famous Harvard business school study showed when students who wrote down their goals were found to be the achievers 35 years on.

3. Patient

In 2002 before setting up my own residential running courses and doing my first marathon, I joined a training group run by Keith Anderson. He taught me the importance of patience when it comes to marathon running. As they say it’s a marathon not a sprint. Longer events take longer to prepare for. There are no quick fixes. Similarly, if you’re starting your own business, working on a marriage, raising children, you have to take the rough with the smooth, work at it, be patient, keep doing, be consistent, persistent and positive.

4. Positive

A positive mindset means you look at what we’ve achieved not what you haven’t. Endurance Women celebrate success, and yes, we have learnt the right to brag on social media; if you want to wear your meal after a race, go ahead! The very action of doing endurance sport, makes a person more positive, as the blood flows and you’re body moves, getting outside in the fresh air, being sociable makes it easier to look on the bright side. Saying yes to life, being positive is one of the keys to a successful and happy life.

5. Boundary-free

Endurance Women live life to the full. They never say never. They have what Carol Dweck calls a ‘ growth mindset’, open to challenges, open to ideas, open to opportunities. This doesn’t mean pushing too hard in SAS style, it does mean not giving up. This is about stretching yourself and seeing where you can go in a relaxed and meaningful way. We live in a world of opportunity with more doors open than ever before, see where you can go, but remember there’s no pressure.

6. In the Moment

Endurance Women learn to stay in the moment. Ultra runners like Jo Kilkenny, recent winner of Deadwater, a 235 mile run over six days, who I interviewed for EW Stories, tells me that  you have to take each step as it comes, and break the distance down. Looking at the bigger picture is overwhelming. Whatever your goal, or dream is, break it down into manageable chunks, and enjoy where you are. It’s the core message of time-management books, of mindfulness, of self-improvement tomes and as the saying goes, ‘every journey starts with a single step’. Just thinking about the step you’re in is a good way to live.

7. Resilient/Persistent

Two qualities of Endurance Women that feed into one. Endurance training and racing teaches you to be resilient. A puncture on a bike ride, a cramp on a long run, a panic in a swim, to endure all of this requires you stay in the moment, to not panic and as you do this, you build your resilience. Being resilient allows you to persist with your dreams and goals. The more times you don’t let a knock-back set you back, the better you become at learning to handle failure, the further you will go.

Book one-to-one Performance For Life Coaching with Fiona.

Join Fiona at Driven Woman Introduction Workshop in Brighton and start to dream big and make things happen for you – today!

READ MORE….

A Freelancer? Business owner? Part of the gig economy?

Check out my article, 7 Ways Endurance Sport Can you Help you Survive the ‘Non 9-5’.

 

Fab Four Take on Ironman Nice

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

I was truly inspired by these four ordinary women being extraordinary.

Fran, 47 (she said 48), works full-time running a team of personal trainers at a busy Brighton gym; Sally, 45, is part-time personal trainer and mother of four children; Sara, 46, works for a cycling brand and is mum of two girls, one of whom is doing her GCSEs and the other making her debut on a West End stage; and Sheena, 56, a children’s nurse, was a self-declared couch potato and a size 20 just eight years ago, before taking up marathon running. All four were doing Ironman and all four finished with smiles on their faces.

In this video they share how working in a group helped them, how important it is to have the support of your family, the all consuming joy and passion of training for a big event, and how having a coach helped them. They also exude why endurance sport can change you for the better, from the inside out, combatting anxiety, old habits, fears and learning new skills.

Watch and be inspired!

 

Week nine of 40 (part two): My 3rd Half Marathon for 2018

The week started slowly with three days of no training. And finished with a four-day cram and my 3rd Half Marathon of 2018.

In my last post, which I wrote half way through week nine on Wednesday night, I talked about the lack of training, due to work and family and life. Writing it down helped get me motivated – and I’m accountable – so with just four days left I had a renewed sense of purpose on Thursday morning kicking off the week then with a treadmill run and finishing on Sunday with a half marathon.

Week 9: cram training

The Dreadmill

The crazy session was 17-miles on the treadmill. I’d been inspired by fellow Endurance Woman Wendy Oates, who had shared her 18 mile treadmill run with the Facebook Group. Energised, I realised there was really no excuse, and the Beast from the East wasn’t getting through the doors of Withdean Stadium gym. I’m not a treadmill fan. The longest I’ve run in the past is around 10 to 15 miles. But, I found the experience really useful at this stage in training. For one, as my meditation course was drawing to a close on Thursday night, it gave me an opportunity to consolidate what I’ve learnt, and to practise mindful running. I find my biggest issue on the treadmill is a wandering (bored) mind. I get obsessed with numbers, time drags and my RPE is much higher relative to running outside. But, once I started to run in the moment I realised I felt fine, it wasn’t difficult, the pace was right for a long run, and I’m only where my mind is whether I’m up on the Downs or staring at the gym car park and listening to Absolute Radio. I believe all of this is good training for an endurance athlete, so with accountability in mind, I commit to the following:

I will do a long treadmill run once a month in the run up to IM (that’s six more sessions from April).

There was snow stopping Wendy – and she inspired me!

FTP Test

Ignoring all sensible advice and what I know about training and performance, I decided to follow Thursday with a hard FTP /Ramp test on the bike with the Bri Tri Club on Friday morning at 645am. Ideally, any test of V02 Max (which essentially is what the test measures)  should be performed when an athlete is well-rested. But at the moment I think it doesn’t really matter. I wanted a rough idea, and I think the test was fairly accurate. The problem with doing back to back hard sessions isn’t so much the short-term, it’s the longer term impact on recovery. But in my mind the psychological damage of not doing what I  had planned would have been worse. As it goes as I’m a fairly average cyclist so the test didn’t go on for very long,  but I do have a benchmark from which I can measure my bike fitness – and an incentive to get on my bike. For anyone who’s an expert in FTP and Ramp tests (I know that there is a difference) and the sports scientists among you, I’m still learning about the variables, so don’t want to give any incorrect information. I did the Ramp Test on a My Ride bike at the gym, and from this I can train in colour zones/intensity relative to me: https://www.teamicg.com/is/bikes/ic7/wattrate. My score was 159 which if I divide by 55.5Kg (my weight) gives me this score, 2.86 which is my watts/kg.

Tri Training: Trying to fit it all in

I had hoped to fit in another bike session, but tiredness did kick in, so on Saturday I ran an easy five miles and swam 2.5K at a steady pace. Then on Sunday, on a mission to race myself fit I took on the Eastbourne Half Marathon, revisiting the town I left in August last year.

Eastbourne Half

The treadmill session, FTP test and the 2.5K swim did catch up with me. The half marathon was perfectly manageable, but there was nothing in me that would let me race. I crawled up the infamous hill (9.27)  and decided to try to get it back by picking up the pace to a nice 6.44 on the down. When I reached the seafront I decided to race and try to catch the women ahead, which I did… but not for long. In the past (or when I’m rested) I can inject some speed in a race and then go back to the pace the other runner was at and stay ahead, in this case 7.22 to overtake, and then back to just under 7.30. But it didn’t go to plan. Yes, I was quite happy at 7.22 for one mile, but rather than settle back to 7.30 for the rest of the race, I only managed one mile at 7.30.  Once I realised I was slowing down, I consciously decided to stop racing and just run the race at a tempo pace, which turned out to be an average of 7.54 for the remaining six miles and a race average of 7.47, which for where I’m at now was just fine. I followed the race with a 1K swim and sauna (surprisingly I had achy arms when swimming not legs) – and had a satisfying Sunday lunch and complete crash, rounding off another week’s training.