Fitness and Lifestyle

The Training Diaries: Countdown to the European AG Standard Distance Championships



It's somehow July already (is it just me or did someone hit fast forward on 2018?) which means I'm officially counting down the days until I fly out to Estonia for the European Age-Group Standard Distance Championships on the 21st. Team kit has been delivered and tried on. A giddy little freak out about my actual name being on actual GB kit has been completed (it involved my finger-pointing, butt shaking dance which I'm pretty sure I'm going to do myself an injury with one of these days) and I'm currently in the midst of a short block of speed-work focused training to get race ready. This has involved a drop in volume and a ramp up of intensity - up and at 'em legs, it's rocket time!

Ironman Copenhagen is the main focus this year which means that a large proportion of my training since December has been centred around building endurance, going long and using my diesel engine. In contrast, these last few weeks have been all about cranking up the speed a little to help me cope with the more fast and furious style of racing required for the standard distance. It's safe to say that my legs weren't quite sure what was going on when I started asking them to run fast again, but it's amazing how quickly the body can adapt and over the last couple of weeks I've started seeing big improvements. I've hit my fastest ever average swim pace in the lake (I honestly think my new Zone 3 Align wetsuit might have magic powers, it's awesome!), my bike pace is moving on up and my running is feeling stronger than ever.

On Sunday, I returned to the scene of my home town sprint triathlon which gave me an opportunity to really see where I'm at under race conditions. I had a great time out on the bike course, taking my new Canyon TT out for his inaugural race. I'd decided to ride at my FTP power so I could see how my legs felt on the run - a new PB for 5km off the bike was a nice little confidence booster that I can maintain that kind of effort during the bike split and still run strong. Taking the age-group win and getting a snazzy new trophy to add to the shelf was the cherry on top of a great morning out. It was so much fun racing in my home town and seeing so many familiar faces out on the course - both racing and marshalling.

As gritty as the higher intensity speed-work has been, I've enjoyed the switch up in my training schedule. The last couple of months have seen me average between 18-20 hours of training a week, tackling several big 6-7 hour swim-bike-run days, along with a 30km run pretty much every Saturday (apologies to any Hitchin/Letchworth dwellers who may have seen me out on one of these long runs - Ironman training seems to take away any sense of decorum, so I've probably been spotted pulling my shorts out of my butt crack and blasting out snot rockets in public a few too many times). Don't get me wrong, I love the big training days. There's something special about looking at your plan, thinking 'oh crap how the hell am I going to do all of that!?' only to get home several hours later knowing you've conquered it. But it does get a bit relentless, so having a few weeks of lower volume, higher intensity training has given me that extra little bit of down time that I needed. Mind and body are feeling good and I'm excited to feel the benefits of all this speed work when I get my teeth into the last big endurance block after Estonia. 

With 11 days to go until the ETU champs, everything seems to be coming together quite nicely so that I can go out and enjoy racing a shorter distance without it being a total shock to the system! The championship will only be my second time racing the standard distance so my main aim for the race is just to get out there, push hard and see what I can do. I'm not expecting to be massively competitive up against all the experienced short distance racers, but as long as I can come away knowing I've given it my all and made the most of the opportunity I'll be happy. Tartu looks beautiful as well and I love that Triathlon is taking me there - the adventure continues!


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