Swim, bike, run, write.

The Training Diaries: A change of plan



Well, balls. Who’d have thought we’d still be dealing with Covid-19 over a year since this entire shit show - no, sorry, explosive diarrhoea extravaganza - all kicked off. It’s ironic really - just over a year ago I wrote this blog post for Stolen Goat talking about finding ordinary in extraordinary times. And it feels like we’ve come full circle. These days it’s more about finding extraordinary - working out ways to break up this weird, groundhog day-like existence we’ve found ourselves in. 2021 has certainly, at times, felt like 2020: the half-arsed, made-for-Netflix sequel. But what’s key is that there’s hope on the horizon. Vaccines are being rolled out, the pools in England re-open in a matter of days and we’ve even had some awesome Super League Triathlon to watch in the form of the Arena Games. Better times are coming. And if not, at least we have our bikes.


For me, triathlon training really has been a lifeline throughout this entire thing. 2020 might have been the year of no races, but it was also the year of the most consistent training I’ve ever done - and a year that confirmed to me just how much I love this sport. Races or no races, getting up each and every day, putting in the work and ticking off every session has become second nature to me. And it definitely seems to be paying off. My coach has had me go out and do solo run time trials over 5km, 10km and the half marathon distances over the last couple months and I’ve hit huge personal bests across all three - without puking or pooping myself, a sign of a successful morning out.

Taking part in the Super League tri club Zwift races in the lead up to the London Arena Games saw me hit my highest ever threshold power on the bike during the final TT format race - definitely motivated by the super strong GreenlightPT ladies I was racing (virtually) alongside, as we found our way to the top of the podium.


I’m finding myself actually looking forward to the hard sessions that would have once freaked me out - relishing the challenge instead of being afraid of it. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be swimming like a drunk, drowning octopus when I get back in the pool on Monday thanks to four months of no swimming - but shocking swim form aside, body and mind are feeling stronger than ever and I’m chomping at the bit to get on a start line. 


Speaking of start lines…

A change of plan: bringing the ‘A’ race closer to home


Back in 2019, I crossed the finish line at Ironman Zurich and immediately had my sights set on the next race. I had big goals, even bigger dreams and the improvements I’d been able to make out on those Swiss roads only made me hungry for more. Fending off the post-race blues, out came the credit card and Ironman Vitoria-Gasteiz 2020 was firmly in the diary. Another adventure awaited, and nothing was going to stop me. And then Covid happened. It’s made me realise how privileged I am, and how much I took being able to just hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world for granted. Inevitably, the cancellation email from Ironman eventually came through and I swiftly deferred my entry to 2021. Surely things would be back to normal by then, right? 


I started this year feeling cautiously hopeful that racing abroad might be feasible. But as things in Europe have taken a turn, and after EasyJet cancelled my flights out to Bilbao (again!) things started to look uncertain, to put it lightly. I’m about as self-motivated as they come (hi, hello, type A personality who just loves any excuse to spend her time in Lycra) but the “will I won’t I” question mark hanging over my head as to whether A) The race would go ahead and B) if it did, whether I’ll even be allowed out of the country to travel there, was starting to get to me. It takes a lot to train for a full-distance Ironman, especially when you’re trying to go faster and harder than you’ve ever raced the distance before. It’s a huge ask both of my own body and capacity to juggle training with full-time work - and of my husband and two hooligan sausage dogs who have to put up with me being tired, grumpy and groaning like an old man every time I go up the stairs because my quads are wrecked from whatever madness I’ve been inflicting on them. I love it, but putting yourself through the 5am starts and the long cold sessions when you can’t really picture crossing the finish line starts to wear. Fighting hard for a goal, with having the chance to be able to actually go and achieve it so out of my own control started to get tough. I realised I had two choices - keep agonising over whether I would or would not get to race at Vitoria-Gasteiz, hoping that Ironman might make a decision sooner or later and obsessively monitoring the news for a shred of hope that I might be able to travel. Or take back control, get proactive and make my own damn choices.

I went for the latter. Choice is far more empowering than suspending yourself in uncertainty. And so I set about looking for a UK-based Iron distance race. All of my “big” races have been abroad, but it’s time to bring the adventure closer to home. Of course, pretty much everything was sold out - but I’m beyond excited that I’ve just managed to secure myself a place to race the Outlaw full distance race in Nottingham on 25 July for Alzheimer’s Research UK! Like so many others, I’ve seen the impact of Alzheimer’s firsthand and, after such a tough year for the charity sector, funding research is more important than ever. It’s amazing to have this extra layer of meaning to my training. I get to don a race suit (finally!) and see how my huge amount of consistency and hard work leaves me stacking up against my fellow triathlon-obsessed weirdos. And I get to raise money for a cause that means a lot to me in the process. It’s not the Spanish adventure I’d imagined, but it’s a different kind of adventure - and one that I’m so excited to continue working towards. My JustGiving page is here - any donation, big or small, will be so appreciated and it will help drive me to Not Be Shit on race day.


As ever, I’ll be sharing the journey to the start line over on Instagram. It mainly involves lots of coffee, lots of peanut butter and being bossed around by my two sausage dogs. (Life update: we got another sausage dog because why not just add extra chaos to the household?) If you’re racing at Outlaw, or you’ve got another race in the diary that you’re excited about - I’d love to hear about it! Following other people’s training journeys is such a great source of motivation and the wider tri community is one of the many things that’s great about this sport.


For now - stay safe, stay caffeinated and for whoever needs to hear it: yes, you should absolutely buy that new jersey/bike/pair of running shoes you’ve been eyeing up. 



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