From Layman to Ironman

From Layman to Ironman

First apologies for the late arrival to our ironman blog, I have struggled to think of some interesting training commentary beyond the quotation of speed, distance and time figures. So whilst I could go into the physical details of training for 100mile bike rides, long swims and marathons, my esteemed colleagues are far more diligent when recording such details, and can provide far more description and quantitative analysis of what is entailed. So why read on through this post? What I hope offer is some personal insight on the training process and reflection on some common gripes that I have experienced to date.

First, introduction to the concept that there are not enough hours in the day... whilst a common complaint of weekends, this really rings true when scheduling a multi-disciplinary training diary. My plan in these early months has been to get as fit as possible, by doing as much as possible that does not implicate my normal life. For example, being lucky enough to work opposite a gym, lunchtimes are spent working out for 40 minutes Monday to Friday. Whilst the sun shone (or at least lit) the early mornings and after-work evenings, I cycled to and from our office in Bath, which each way is about 13 miles from my home. With a few typical Bath hills in the mix, this would take about 45 minutes each leg. Now that the sun no longer presides over the evenings, the bike is back in the shed, and each morning starts with a short run to the local swimming pool followed by 80 lengths (or 2km). But factor in a long run at the weekends and the luxury of one day off each week, when else am I supposed to train, to realise the goal of getting fit? I read of all sorts of intelligent training plans that I'm sure will be far more effective and will lead to less injury, but doesn't anybody who follows these have a job?! And if the days seem short, the weeks are positively flying by, how long now 'til Christmas??

Second, whilst a degree of enthusiasm can carry a man so far through this regime, my body at least requires regular fuelling to keep going. Two breakfasts, two lunches, a big stodgy dinner and calorie filled pud are the norm, with a couple of protein shakes and other miscellaneous snacks between meals to keep hunger at bay. If that sounds a little excessive, before embarking on such a gluttonous diet I was losing a couple of pounds a week...

This leads me to my third point, which is the impact of training on one's social agenda. Beyond coming across as a greedy fat bloke with a reputation for consuming anything calorific in his sight (and trying to convince the other half that the trolley really does need that many malt loaves...), living a life around said regime is proving difficult. I got past the constant and niggling pains that come with frequent exercise a while ago, so I can deal with hobbling up and down stairs, but having to take it easy of nights out because you know that you need to be on form the following morning is rather tedious. On a personal level (and these reasons will differ among we three), the renovation project that was my house has firmly been placed on hold, and I fear that I am not exactly pulling my weight in helping to plan my wedding due to take place shortly after the Ironman next year. The most draining sensation however is living in a constant state of fatigue. Again, feeling physically tired is strangely addictive (the sole purpose of training in fact), but the early mornings mean living in a constant haze of tiredness that is ostensibly unshakeable.

Finally my fourth point concerns the monotony of relentless training. There are only so many safe routes to run, cycleable routes to work and lengths in the pool that I can do without getting just a little bored. I have been lucky enough to enjoy the company of my fiancée on some of my longer runs of late (whilst she cycles alongside offering words of encouragement and regular drinks), but I’ve learnt that staying interested will be a key determinant in successful training.

So there are some initial thoughts of a Layman attempting to become an Ironman. Principal learning point so far: it would appear that being mentally strong is as important – if not more so – than being physically so. Forgive me if the above sounds a little glum at the outset, signing up to this triathlon has change my life: when setting new PBs, breaking into new distance barriers, or receiving a donation into the charity pot, every minute of it feels absolutely worth it.

Current training is focussed towards completion of my first marathon in mid-December, on a blustery coastal path that hugs the Portsmouth coastline. We will keep you posted with the highs, lows and everything in between. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to visit!

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