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Because sport is my life
In 2008 I started cycling after having been a tennis player and ball sports addict all my life. At the end of 2009 I won the national hill climb championships and 3 seasons later I moved to ride for a professional road racing team. I had a year of riding the biggest road races all over Europe - my favourite of all being Fleche Wallone. I also won races - my favourite win was Fleche Wanzoise in Belgium at the start of 2011. Overall I had a great time road racing. In 2012, however, I fell pretty deep. After a decent winter of training I got glandular fever in February and the year of sports activities was over for me. My body just didn't recover for months. I also had a really hard time in my personal life - the hardest I ever had. But one good thing happened, too. I discovered triathlon! I already started running at the end of 2011 and during the summer of 2012 while I was ill with glandular fever I started a bit of swimming. At the end of the season I did a few races, just to try out the competitive side of the sport and because I truly love racing - I won 3 out of my first 4 sprint triathlons. For 2013 I'm targeting Olympic distance racing. Triathlon fits me perfectly, because I can do 3 sports and I love sports! I love the lifestyle of doing sports every day. It keeps me sane, even through tough times.
2013 is going to be my year ;-) So watch this space!

Winter training

Anna83by Anna83Oct 21st 2012
Many athletes are still racing now. The World Championships have just been this weekend. However, my season ended about 2 months ago when I had to stop racing for personal reasons. My life fell apart and there was no time or space for racing any more. I didn't race much at all in 2012, because in February I got glandular fever which totally trashed my body and it took me months to recover. It was clear pretty soon that my season was over before it had even started.
Really, 2012 was a year to forget for me. On all levels in my life!
Now I'm looking ahead. I'm healthy again and actually also reasonably fit. After all, I've never stopped doing sports, even when life was really tough. Sport has always kept me sane. It's my drug to help me live through the dark sides of life.
Over the last 4 weeks I've done a good mix of swimming, running and cycling. Cycling still fills 50% of my weekly training hours when looking purely at volume. But, as I come from road racing and my abilities on the bike are already quite good, this winter I want to mainly focus on the swim and the run. Regarding running I want to work on speed and get my body slowly used to more running volume. I try to run often. Sometimes it's OK to just run for 30 minutes, but I always make sure to run at least every 2nd day. I want to teach my body that running is what it needs to adapt to more than cycling over the winter. Swimming is clearly my weakest discipline. I only started swimming this summer, and previously I've never learnt to swim properly. Not even as a child. At the moment I swim 5-6 times a week which sounds a lot. But sometimes I only swim for 30 minutes. So the volume overall isn't too high in my opinion and I maintain a good "feel" for the water by going regularly. My dad is a really good swimmer actually and used to be a swim coach. He gave me some good tools to work with - paddles, a pool buoy and flippers. Stuff like that makes the time in the pool for me more interesting and especially the paddles have taught me how to best move the water with my hands. Those things have made a huge difference. In November I want to start swimming with the club and maybe also have a coaching session every now and then. Technique is most important for swimming.
In December I will also start doing some CX running races for the club. These will give me some racing toughness which I'm definitely still missing on the run. I always found running races the hardest and therefore I think it's good to do a few races during the winter, so that they feel a bit more "normal" once the summer comes. I will also do regular sessions on the track to work on speed. Sessions like that are more fun for me, too, compared to long runs I do on my own. In December I will also start a training programme on the bike which will be power-focused. I know this type of training already really well, because I've trained hard on the bike already for the last 4 years (and winters especially). However, I think it will be different now because I'm not purely a bike rider anymore now, and probably also my power numbers have dropped quite a bit simply because I don't do that much cycling anymore now. Especially at the beginning of the winter I will have to be patient and build up slowly but consistently. I also want to do major sessions on the TT bike as long as the weather permits that. I quite like my TT bike from a position point-of-view. It fits me really well and it's probably my most comfortable bike - who can say that normally? Not many people I guess. But I haven't done much power-based training and riding on it, so it will be interesting to see what numbers I can achieve while also doing a lot of running and swimming. I kind of have the feeling that every bike session will have to be a quality session in order to achieve my potential. It will be a new, interesting challenge.
So, overall a lot of work has to be done, but I'm looking forward to following a more structured approach to training again from December onwards. It has worked well for me in the past, though it is also important for me to keep it fun at all times. I do believe that recording progress and measuring improvements is one of the most important things in order to succeed in endurance sports where hard work is a key to a good performance. One thing I haven't done yet is to plan my racing schedule for 2013. It is not so important to do that in detail now, I would say. However, I should at least have an idea of when roughly my key races will be, when the season will start and when it will end, and when I could plan with some major breaks during the season.
sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Oct 22nd 2012 12:19
Hi Anna, sounds like you've had tough year :-( sorry to hear that. I too find sport is useful when times are more demanding.

Great to hear about your training plans for next season. I particularly liked your comments about the regularity of your training without a huge volume. This is something I'm aiming to do myself next year. My main aim is to introduce structure and consistency to my training after 2 non starter seasons so glad to hear that this has worked for you.

Anna83by blog author: Anna83, Oct 22nd 2012 12:32
Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment ;-) I like to train regularly mainly because every day it gives me the feeling of "having done something to keep fit" ;-) I work full-time (40hrs+ a week) and so I cannot ramp up volume too much, simply because I wouldn't be able to get enough rest and I need to be (mentally) fit for my job, too. Quite often my job is stressful, too, and even more tiring than training. Things like that are very important to note somehow in your training diary, I find, because a "recovery day" (meaning no sports) can sometimes be just as hard if you work 10 hours instead!
sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Oct 22nd 2012 13:20
I agree with all your points, I've previously tried to 'carry on pushing' which led to me feeling exhausted. Plus I like the fact that the frequent/consistent approach means I'm looking forward to sessions more :-)
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