What Goes Through My Head During Training?

Undoubtedly, the first question people ask when they find out I’m a triathlete is whether or not I’ve done an ironman. After I chuckle and kill the conversation with a ‘no’ and a brief automated response the conversation usually makes it way to the next question ‘what do you think about while you’re training for all that time?’ To me this is a far more interesting question and one I have to think about. Given I have a few weeks of solid training it is also quite relevant. Although every athlete is different and I consider myself a little nuts, spending more time training in a group environment has shown me that a lot of us have similar thoughts during our sessions. Let me share some of the most common with you.

While swimming…

‘Hm what can I eat when I finish this session?’

’40×100… Well I’ve done 3 so if I do one more I’ll be 10% done. Then only 9 more times of that and I’m finished.’

‘Why won’t my cap stay on my head properly? There’s gotta be a trick to it’

‘What can I have for dinner tonight?’

‘5 down, 7 to go. What percentage is that?’

‘There’s gotta be a way to stop goggle fog once and for all’

‘I can’t wait to go to bed tonight’

‘Am I even going to be able to make that send off?’

‘Do they really need so many lanes for that?’

‘That doesn’t seem like much rest’

‘Do I have time for a nap today?’

‘I should’ve eaten something else before we started’

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While riding…

‘Man it’s cold, I should’ve worn more’

‘Where is the turn? I swear I should’ve passed it already’

‘Why is there always a head wind?’

‘What is that sound my bike is making?’

‘I wonder what’s down this road’

‘Where am I?’

‘Do I have time for a nap today?’

‘My power meter must be reading low today’

‘Is my garmin battery going to make it home?’

‘What can I eat when I finish this session?’

‘Man it’s hot, why’d I wear so much?’

‘Don’t you dare lose that wheel!’

‘Oh crap, that gap is opening’

‘Only a couple of times over the horizon and I’m home.’

‘How the heck is he riding so fast? He doesn’t even shave his legs’

(On being passed by cars) ‘Please don’t hit me, please don’t hit me!’

‘I think I need a new bike. I definitely need a new bike’

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While running..

‘I shouldn’t have eaten so much before I started’

‘An hour run.. well I’ve done 5 minutes. Only 11 times that to go.’

‘This GPS pace can’t be right’

‘If I ran that way will there be a bathroom there?’

‘What am I doing running up a mountain at 5:30am?’

‘Don’t you dare drop off this guy!’

‘What is that niggling in my calf? What the heck is that? Have I felt this before?’

‘I had better turn around and stay close to home just in case’

‘Why’d I eat that for dinner last night?’

‘What can I eat when I get home?’

 

So there you have it. Some of the most common thoughts from my workouts. I like to joke that I spend my time solving world peace. Although these thoughts are the most common, there are also times when I do delve into a world of my own. Some of my best ideas and thoughts have come while I’ve been out training. I feel I have grown a lot as a person since beginning triathlon and no doubt this is part of the reason.

If you have any other common thoughts during your training I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Gisborne Oceania Championships Race Report

I like to think I am one of the most well prepared athletes on the start line of every race I start. Gisborne Oceania Champs were a different story. With a wildcard Olympic spot on the line for the winner’s country the Gisborne boardwalk was surrounded by groups of triathletes from every big squad in Australia. These guys were all given a brief on what was to happen out there to ensure an Aussie won the race and claimed the coveted spot. Thankfully I was slightly aware of what was going on beforehand and made a conscious effort to try and avoid a mob lynching by doing anything the least bit silly.

The build up to this race was an interesting one for me. Checking out the swim course the day before the race was a bit of a shock. Despite visiting Gisborne 10years previous, the size of the swell had escaped my memory and my lack of surf skills became exceedingly evident. I’m very thankful to have had my coach Corey and a few teammates in Gisborne. After a couple of sessions working with them on my entry and exit I felt 100 times more prepared than I was on first attempt. The only problem was I was still 100 times less prepared than the guys that had grown up surf lifesaving. Nonetheless, after watching a few surf swim videos the night before and a quick swim practice early morning before the race I’d convinced myself I was an expert and it was time to go!

The start practice I had done earlier in the week had obviously paid off because for what might be the first time in my triathlon career I was one of the first athletes in the water. From there it was on. Exiting the first lap I could see I was just off the back of a decent sized pack. The second lap was spent screaming at myself to latch on or it’s game over. After a quick run up the sand to T1 I could see the pack just up the road.

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Photo Liam Sproule

Following coach’s orders I didn’t worry about my shoes and set out chasing. After punching 400W at 52kmph out of T1 I was able to latch on pretty quickly and was in my shoes before the first turnaround of the 8 lap bike. Looking around at who was in the group I knew I was in the right place. From there things got a little boring. With three Aussie guys off the front and only 5 kiwi guys, a Ukrainian and a large number of Aussies in my group, the kiwis were forced to go the front to try and bridge the gap. Any time an Aussie got anywhere near the front, the shouting started. Infighting was the theme of the race and despite the best efforts of some colourful language from their compatriots, a couple of the NZ boys refused to work. With only 2 of the 5 kiwis contributing to the pace, the effort was futile and the gap to the front kept extending.

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Photo James Blackburne

Heading out of T2 I felt good. Given I hadn’t run 10kms in a race in forever I decided to build the run with the goal of negative splitting and reeling in a couple of guys that had gone out hard. Evidently my body had other ideas. As I started winding things up at 4km I felt the pull of cramps. Then they hit me hard. Stopping to punch my leg cost me two spots and 20secs on the guy I was running with. I was worried, but not deterred. I’d been here before and I knew I could figure it out if I was smart. The next two kms were spent dialling it in and trying to run as straight and smooth as possible. My body responded and at 6kms with Corey’s encouragement I decided it was time to go. I am super proud of my last two laps. Reeling in two spots after cramps had forced me to a walk is not easy but it does show what your body is capable of if your mind is strong enough.

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Photo James Blackburne

Finishing 14th is by no means where I think I am capable of being but it is a step in the right direction and there are so many positives to take away from my progress over the last few weeks. With a strong field in Gisborne just picking up some more ITU points was the goal. You can’t complain when you accomplish what you set out to do.

Full results HERE.

I must say a massive thank you to my host family James and Lynda. They went above and beyond. I know it’s not an easy task for patriotic New Zealanders to cheer for Aussies but they were some of the loudest out there! After some rushed travel consisting of a 6hr drive to Auckland immediately post race, I’m back home and getting stuck into a good block of training before a couple of races at the end of April. Until then!

Australian Capital Triathlon Draft Legal Sprint Race Report

Throughout the week there had been a lot of chat among the PTC athletes about what was going to happen in the men’s race. Just about every scenario was thrown out there but all of them involved our teammate Liam S leading us out of the water. Sure enough as the gun went off Liam hopped to the front followed by Jed Boxall. I  jumped on the train with Nuru on my feet and this is how we stayed around the buoys. As we went around the second buoy Liam was still only a couple of body lengths off the front and I thought if things went to plan I might be able to bridge up. That’s not what happened and after Jed decided he wanted to swim extra and veered off to the right, the gap opened up so I let him go and followed Liam on the way back to the swim exit.

I have been told, and I firmly believe the swim exit through the first few minutes of the bike are going to be the hardest in a draft legal race. This was the case for some of the athletes in the race and after knocking over each other’s bikes in T1, struggling with helmets, forgetting race belts and mounting the curb as they mounted their bike, there were three of us off the front. We worked well together and got a good look at the group of two that were chasing hard. At the 10km mark we came together but not without hurting the legs of the boys that had chased for half the bike. From there it was 4 PTC boys plus one other. I will just say I am thankful I wasn’t the lone athlete in the pack. We came in together and for the second week in a row I was in a foot race.

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The boys seemed to have learnt from T1 and after Burto and Nuru tore through T2 I was out in third. I have a lot of respect for those guys’ ability to run and still being a little unsure of my own run I hopped in behind Nuru and decided to let them dictate the pace for a while. As we came round the first lap Burto had popped off the back and it was Nuru and I going toe to toe. With every step I grew more and more surprised at how things were going. After going down in a sprint finish last week I decided not to try my hand at another and made a move with 2km to go. Thankfully it stuck and I was able to put a gap on Nuru as we turned to come back towards the finish.

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In that last kilometer everything was put into perspective. Seven months ago I was given the all clear to hop on the trainer and ride for 15 minutes. The excruciating pain I was in was countered only by the image of me holding the tape over my head having won a race.. That thought of being back racing and racing well was what had been keeping me motivated to turn the pedals over and this was it. All the hours of hard work had finally led me to the finish chute being surrounded by my family, friends and teammates. I didn’t care what the race was, I was pumped.

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Massive thank you to everyone that came out to watch us race and to my Dad for the great photography work to catch us in action. I am pretty happy with where things are right now and am excited to have a couple of less strenuous days before I head over to NZ on Wednesday to test myself over the Olympic Distance next weekend in Gisborne.

Until then!

Wollongong OTU Race Report

It’s hard for me to admit, but the last few weeks have seen me seriously evaluate my place within the sport of triathlon.It had taken me a long time but I was finally getting close to breaking point.. The injuries, watching other people race the races I wanted to be competing in, losing money on flights and accommodation when I couldn’t race and setting what I believe to be the world record for most races withdrawn from in an 18 month period.. Why was I doing it??

Walking down to the beach for the start at Wollongong on Saturday afternoon, the answers I’d been searching for all came to me. I love the competition. I love knowing that when it really comes down to it I can believe in myself because I have done everything possible to give myself the best chance of success.

Standing on the beach prior to the race, everything hit me. I had done next to no running in the six weeks leading up to the race.. the pressure was off. If ever I had a ready-made triexcuse, it was now. From there all sense of nervousness left me. It was go time and I was the most relaxed for a triathlon start I had ever been.

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Adam, Jack, Myself, Coach Corey and Robbie. PTC ready to rock

Being ranked number 30 in the race gave me little choice in where I started. After Aaron Royle went towards the left, everyone followed suit until we virtually lined up in order from left to right. The choppy conditions out in the Wollongong Harbour meant the sprint distance swim had the potential to be a little dicey. After getting off to a horribly slow start and being one of the last in the water, I was able to find some space. Expecting a full on brawl, I was surprised to round the first buoy relatively unscathed and had moved up considerably. The second buoy was a bit more challenging. I copped a nice elbow to the head before settling in with the water moving back to shore. Exiting the swim surrounded by a massive group of guys I felt pretty confident I’d be able to latch onto the pack. With a nice long run up to transition, I moved up a few spots and got out of T1 quickly. That’s when the fun started.

There were so many guys within seconds of each other that there was definitely going to be a big pack. The only problem was making it. At this point, I’d usually panic and hammer a ridiculous amount of watts trying to latch on, but I didn’t. I sat on the wheel of an athlete from Taipei and let him give me a little pull while I assessed my options. Thankfully option A included my teammate Adam who was working solo to make the group. I jumped across to his wheel and we worked together nicely to close the gap on a yo-yoing group that was still trying to sort itself out. From there, the 6 lap bike was rather uneventful. I positioned myself poorly as we came towards transition and was at the back of the 23 man pack  as we set out for a 5km foot race.

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After a decent T2 I was right where I needed to be.. but boy I was hurting. Running right behind Rudge was great for the first 500m but I didn’t believe I could do it for 5km so I let him go. Thankfully things started to click somewhere during the first lap and I found some run legs. I tucked in behind another Aussie athlete and that is where we stayed until the top of the last hill. Unsurprisingly, my sprint finish legs weren’t quite there and I had to settle for 14th. I entered the race trying to convince myself I’d be happy running a 17:30 5km so to run 16:22 gives me a lot of confidence moving forward.

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That hurt! First sprint finish loss in a while!

For full results click HERE

I honestly believe I had the best support crew out there so I owe a massive thanks to everyone that was cheering me on. You guys all know who you are. From here it’s time to start running and racing. If anyone is in Canberra this weekend I will be toeing the line in another sprint distance draft legal race on Saturday morning. The swim begins at Rond Terrace. I’d love to see as many faces as possible out there supporting all the PTC athletes and the sport of triathlon.

Until then… ONWARDS AND UPWARDS.