I gave up Triathlon in 2012 because I had an evil running injury (technically I never did one in 2012, so I gave up in 2011…), races were really expensive, and actually I was better at cycling than swimming and running – anyway.
I set about just cycling, and it went ok, but I soon found myself a bit bored. That usually happens when you stop getting faster. When it comes down to it, all amateurs race for fun, and the shine had gone from my training and racing. The challenge wasn’t too obvious and the ‘end goal’ (once qualifying for GB Age Groups) wasn’t all that clear. ‘Get Faster’ isn’t really that obtainable.
I held off a return to Tri for quite some time. With about 2 years off, I figured it would just be too frustrating relearning to swim and run.
It was just going to be embarrassing, right?
Then I thought I’d quietly have a little go.. It took me about 6 weeks of squinting at the clock over 100m reps to dare to try a 400m swim TT. The result? 6.54. I can’t remember exactly what I’d been doing before but it wasn’t quicker than 6.45.
Running is a bit more scary. I’ve been doing 3-5min reps, 8min reps, some long runs, and I’ve tested a 5k. If I’m honest I’m a bit scared to go hard in case by “glass legs” shatter, but I’m getting there.
And you know what’s most interesting about all this? My cycling got better.
I’d been stagnating for a while, stuck in a loop between tired legs, repetitive training, disappointing results and negativity. I’d had one power PB and one time PB over the summer of 2014. Nothing was going badly, but it also wasn’t going all that well.
After returning to swim and running, I cut off 43 seconds from my club 10 mile TT time, 20 seconds off my H10/8 time, 22 seconds of my Horne 9 mile TT time, and then (well, only) 7 seconds off my H25/8 time, but it was a windy day and most people were substantially down on PBs, so any improvement was good. And I was 1-2mins ahead of people who have been frustratingly kicking my bum all year.
I’m still undecided if I’m going to plunge back into tri for proper (I’m dipping my toe in), but even if I simply train 3 sports, and only race one, it seems my cycling alone is improved by the variety.
What’s going on?
I’m no sports scientist, but I’d say it’s all a heady mix of:
- Rediscovered motivation
- A new goal
- An increase in short, high intensity training, and chucking out ‘junk miles’
- Running = losing weight (though you can do this through diet! Do not read this that running is the best way to lose weight – it’s not, it’s the best way to get injured)
- Altering my bike fit by putting the bars UP (yes..) – thanks Lizzy!
- Cutting out the negative ‘I’m not good enough and am not improving’ thinking.
The first three items on that list have had the most impact upon my attitude over the last few weeks – I’m suddenly more awake to training and feeling more alive in what I’m doing.
Cycling alone means you can’t do a high intensity training session on daily basis, you need to mix it up with easier rides just to keep your legs spinning. As a triathlete I could be waking up 6 out of 7 mornings, jumping out of bed and be drowning myself in sweat or hyperventilating myself in the pool before the day had begun for proper. Masochistic as it might be, that sort of training keeps me entertained.
Of course you can’t survive longer races on short sessions alone, but if the goal distances are around 2-2.5hours long, these are fine if supplemented by weekend long rides and runs. And yes, short sessions hurt – but in a fun “I am invincible” sort of way.
If your goal is to run a marathon or race an Ironman, this approach will by no means work – but with my current short course persuasions, this is just right.