Next year is nearly here!
It’s time I had some race plans for 2013!
About this time last year I had some vague ideas for 2012. It was then that I decided to enter the Celtman and get myself a coach to make sure I did myself justice.
2012 was a massive year, with the Celtman and the Terrex Sting in Stirling 5-day event. I found it really hard to recover from the Sting. After feeling better, racing and then feeling worse again a couple of times, I had to take a good 6-8 weeks “off”. This meant no hard training.
I started thinking … so what did I learn? And what next?
I put my down-time to good use planning for next year. I decided the Celtman was a bit too logistically complex, expensive and time consuming to do two years in a row. One of the biggest adventure races in the UK next year is the Coast to Coast. However, it involves a lot of kayaking and I’m not sure I could dedicate enough training time to do it competitively.
First question: What did I enjoy about this year? I really thrived on having a target which I had to work towards. When I entered the Celtman I couldn’t have done the race within the time limits. I also found that I was good at ‘normal’ triathlons. Coming 2nd at the Slateman was a revelation – I really enjoyed the head-to-head racing and the satisfaction of doing well in a competitive field. And having Scott as my coach worked really well, so he’s still on board for 2013 :D.
I believe that it’s important to make the most of your strengths. I love mountain biking and always will – but my technical skills will never be the best. From this year’s events I realised that I have the strength and endurance needed to be good on a road bike. I also swim well, especially outdoors. Back in 1999 I stopped running because I got so frustrated with injuries. Running is still hard due to recurrent niggles. But it seems I can produce a half-decent run on not a lot of training!
Lastly, I like variety and need to do keep ‘doing different things’ or ‘doing things differently’!
Thinking about all this helped me to narrow down my choices.
I decided on my target: a middle distance triathlon. This is 1900m swim, 90km road bike and 21km run. It should take about 5 hours. Why did I choose this?
- I excel at this race duration.
- I will use my swimming and road biking strengths.
- I can still do fun mountain biking and adventure racing as training. This is especially true over the winter.
- I can recover much more easily from this distance. Weeks rather than months!
But .. I could finish a middle distance triathlon next week if I wanted to. So where’s the challenge?
I’m going to enter the Scottish Middle Distance championships in Aberfeldy. I’ll set myself stretching target times that I couldn’t achieve now.
The next question was – how do I structure my year to achieve that? This was an iterative process. I started with a full list of all the races I fancied doing. There were 47 of them in 12 months!! I talked to Andy about how things fitted together. He is an experienced triathlete and fully qualified cycling coach, so knows a thing or two, even if we don’t always agree ;-).
Of course, I also asked my coach, Scott. My list went back and forth a couple of times. I listened to their advice and reluctantly removed a few races and switched others from off-road to on-road. I also deleted events which looked a bit dull – I still want interesting courses and scenery!
I will need to be quicker. My endurance and pacing are already very good. So my lead up races are mostly shorter on-road triathlons with open water swims. They have similar physiological demands to a middle distance tri, but will help me get faster. I should also recover from them quickly. I need to watch how much travelling I have to do, and think about how I can combine races with family visits!
Before then I will keep doing the Open 5s. The plan is to do them with Lucy in the female pairs category. This will keep things interesting (I did them solo last year). A target once a month through the winter also helps keep me training hard when it’s cold, dark and wet outside.
After Aberfeldy I will just do what I feel like – which may include the Craggy off-road tri and a 24h MTB race – I haven’t done one for so many years!
So here’s the plan … no doubt I will have to change and adjust it as the year unfolds, but at least I have something to start with :-).