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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

How long till May?

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanJan 29th 2014
With the first month of training nearly out of the way, and my first race (more on that later), it’s a good time to stop, reflect and have a mini check on whether things are going to plan. But what exactly is the plan was how I begun the year and I left this right to the end of December before asking myself 3 questions;

1) With no A race, no Ironman, no qualifiers to aim for how will I keep myself motivated to train
2) How will I combine short course Triathlon training, which run wise will focus on 5k/10k speed with marathon training
3) How will I stay injury free

2) and 3) are most definitely linked. Every time I do a Spring Marathon I get injured. Never anything major but always enough to interrupt training. Last year ended up with a DNF at Wokingham, which I am doing again this year, and ultimately cost me getting at sub 3.15 in Rome and a GFA for London this year.

I began by asking myself what is more important, the Marathon or my Triathlon season? Most definitely the Triathlon season. Whilst I want to get back to London I have done it 7 times, it wouldn’t be a major disappointment not to. And whilst it’s unlikely I will make major improvements in my Triathlon running I have to keep working on that speed to maintain my current level and maybe improve by a few seconds, which at my level of running it is seconds rather than minutes that I seek to realistically improve by. For my marathon training, to preserve my 5k/10k speed and reduce injury risk I will keep my long runs to the bare minimum length and rely on my ingrained stamina built up over years of marathon running. I am confident this can get me a sub 3.15 and if I feel fast enough I won’t be afraid to go for a sub 3.

In terms of staying generally injury free do I need to do anything majorly different from last year? Not really, I did after all race a lot by anybody’s standards without a single DNS and only the one afore mentioned DNF, it was a success. But, if you stand still you go backwards and this has to be an ever evolving subject. So, I have made three changes;

Firstly, running every day. Well, nearly every day. About every 10 days or so, I take a break, just to stop me getting obsessive about continuing the consecutive days streak. I started this in December doing nothing but slow running, with the odd Parkrun, to build up strength. Since Jan the 6th I have added in speedwork and long runs, but only up to 16k. Most of my interval work has been done at the Thames Turbo track sessions and I have concentrated on leaving the ego at home and whilst running in a group making sure I run at my pace and looking at the bigger picture of the whole season and holding a little back. This has resulted in real consistency. In the last 3 sessions I have averaged 3.36, 3.37 and 3.36 per k for an 8.5 k session. I will up the intensity a little in the next month and aim to get this comfortably south of 3.30 before my first Triathlon in May.

Secondly, I have added some Yoga. This has been done using an App on my phone. Some people have scoffed at this as no substitute for attending a class, and in many ways I agree. But as Triathletes we are often faced with 2 ways of doing things, Right or Practical. If Right is not available, and when you add in work, family and social engagements plus addressing my swim weakness I can’t get to a Yoga class, then Practical it is. Using the App, I do no more than 30 minutes at a time but normally manage 3 or 4 sessions a week by squeezing spells in whilst cooking or between training. Adding this to the S&C and stretching work I did last season it has most definitely helped. I feel more flexible in certain areas that need it like ankles, hamstrings, calves and very strong all round.

Thirdly, I have split my training in to 4 week blocks. 3 hard, 1 easier. This is to prevent physical and mental burnout. I won’t really know if this is working till I get a couple of months in as I am only now in the first easier week but all I will be doing is including 1 day of complete rest (the hard weeks only have the odd swim only day) and reducing the amount of sessions and dropping of the intensity a little. These weeks will probably be the most challenging. I must have the confidence to actually take my foot of the gas and not fear any loss in fitness.

So, how is it all going?

That first race went well. It was a 10k in Hyde Park and I went in to it with the attitude of not worrying about time and to concentrate on running form. This lasted about 3k at which point it became an ugly, teeth gritting affair. In a field of 713 I came 29th and 2nd in the 40 â€" 49 AG in 38.42. I will undoubtedly run quicker than that of the bike in Olympic Tri’s in the summer but long ago conceded there is now little if any difference from my Tri and Standalone run times and for January was happy with the result. Last year, around the same time on a slightly flatter course I ran 38.27 so that is comparable.

And lastly I come to the first of my 3 beginning of season questions; with no A race how is my motivation to train? The answer to this is probably by now abundantly clear but if I had to pick one word to describe how I feel right now it would be…..


This was by no means the intention at the beginning but without that specific target and especially without Long Course races to train for I feel far less pressurized to train and far more flexible in what I can do. All of which is combining to allow me to do more sessions than ever before. Last week I amassed 7 runs, 5 swims and 4 bikes. This is unheard of for me. And I am not tired at all and feel very fresh. Most pleasing has been the progress with my swim. Still not doing anything greatly different than simply swimming more but have been reactive to what I do in the club swims so if in those we do a lot of short threshold swimming in my next swim by myself I will do longer, steadier intervals. Last week I moved up from lane 3 to lane 4 (lane 6 is the fastest) and 2 sessions in seem to be coping just fine. Already looking forward to testing this now found speed.

How long till May?
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