So, I’ve been banging on for a few months about training for a long triathlon challenge (Half Ironman Distance) and I’ve been learning some pretty interesting stuff along the way so I thought it was worth checking in with an update.
There were lots of reasons to take on a challenge like this: 1) Triathlons are fun and I always say you’re more likely to stay engaged with exercise if you’re having fun 2) I ask a lot of my clients during their sessions – I’m constantly pushing them to find new limits and I want them to see me push my own limits as well 3) I tend to do better at longer, harder events where the challenge is actually getting to the end rather than how fast you get to the end 4) I wanted a challenge that was big enough to really scare me, that I had to look at and really wonder how on earth I was going to finish so that clients would see me go through that process and start thinking about how to approach their own challenges.
One of the things I focus on at a Personal Trainer is this idea that fitness is a long term process not an end goal. It’s a state of mind. That doesn’t mean you have to become some mindless drone bashing out the miles on a dreadmill at the gym, or become a y-shaped gym bro (you know…those bro’s at the gym who stand in front of the mirror endlessly working on their biceps and shoulders but never have a ‘leg-day’ and end up looking like the same shape as the ‘Y’ in the Welcome to Yorkshire sign?). It means building exercise slowly and gradually into your life so that’s it’s a natural part of everyday life, not just another thing you have to find time for in a busy schedule.
Well fitting in all the training with a full time job is tricky – as a personal trainer my job is inherently physical and you’ve got to balance your energy output really carefully so that you can give each client 100%. There are no shortcuts and few easy days with this level of training but for the most part I’m really enjoying it. Having wangled myself a shiny new triathlon coach, Graeame Stone from Sportcoaching (highly recommended) I’ve been slowly building up the running – worst bit for me, while I bank the cycling and swimming miles quite quickly as I’m naturally stronger at those.
Training for something like this is always full of ups and downs. In the last four weeks, I’ve had three brilliant weeks of training and then one absolutely awful one. Truth be told I only narrowly averted a panic about losing a week of training having developed a little niggle in my hip. Learning to control that instinct to panic and think my chances of racing were all over has been the most interesting lesson in this whole process – when things get really really hard – how do I keep on track?
(and when I say the training gets hard, I really mean hard when you have a beastly session on the turbo trainer and you generate enough sweat to viably make you look like you’ve just got out of a swimming pool!)
The answer I actually found in one of my old blogs: the 5 most valuable things I learned on my journey to fitness (http://www.allchangepersonaltraining.co.uk/2016/10/14/the-5-most-valuable-things-i-learned-from-my-journey-to-fitness/).
The two things I took from there were: 1) you don’t need to do it on your own and 2) Just shhhhhh and listen to your body. Thankfully I have active friends who are able to be the best training buddies and make the training really fun, and when I couldn’t train I worked out that I was overtired and sore and my body needed a few days to recover. Having rested properly for a few days, I’m all back on track and into the final 4-week block of training before tapering starts.
Only 6 weeks to go until race day and I’m sure there will be many more ups and downs but as long as I keep the balance of hard work, commitment and fun then I’ll get to race day feeling strong. The most important thing though is being able to keep things in perspective – Training is not fun 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s a real slog. But if I take a moment to remember why I took on the challenge and commit to it completely then the hard bits seem a little less hard. While this is a singular goal, it’s all part of the longer-term process of staying fit and healthy.
(Goodness me I hope I can still smile like this during the long triathlon in six weeks!)