19th February 2016

So we’re in mid-February and CELTMAN really doesn’t seem that far away now. When I was training for Wales in 2014, at this point, training was pretty relaxed and I didn’t feel like I needed to ramp up. CELTMAN is a TOTALLY different ballgame! Instead of September, this time round, I’ve only got until June to be race ready. Not forgetting, CELTMAN is more extreme terrain and longer.

Even my outdoor swimming has had to start early this year. I regard myself as a fair weather outdoor swimmer but having heard about how cold the loch is and the CELTMAN organisers having to nearly always cut short the swim because of the risk of hypothermia, I knew I needed to start the acclimatisation as early as possible. Regular cold showers for most people would be sufficient, however I tracked down one of those rare lakes that opens in the Winter and yes, swimming in 7 degree water really does feel like someone is repeatedly stabbing you in the head. I’ll be seeing plenty more of the guys at Cliff Lakes over the next few months and I can confirm that the post-swim hot chocolate is superb!

Handy tip for those swimming outdoors in January….wear some earplugs to keep your core temperature up

Having bored you on previous posts, by now you’ll know all about my Achilles injury. My regret is that I didn’t get on top of this properly in 2015. Having said that, since getting a place for CELTMAN, I’ve thrown everything I can at it (both financially and effort-wise) and I slowly feel like I might be getting on top of this stubborn injury. I have two key strength and rehab sessions which I do religiously every week and my ethos has been that I will drop another session such as a swim, before I abandon a rehab session. I’m also having to foam roll, stretch and then ice after each run. I’m also going to wear K Tape for at least the next month to take some load off the Achilles.

Need to get a bit more meat on the bone before race day

I feel like I’ve got a great team of experts around me and these guys really are the unsung heroes who allow very average amateur athletes such as me to achieve extraordinary goals. Coral Wint, who I’ve been seeing for about a year, is an incredible person and she’s an amazing sports therapist. Coral will regularly send me a text message just to touch base and see how I’m progressing. She’s not getting paid for this, it’s because she genuinely cares. She is 100% focused on a person’s fitness and if she doesn’t think she can help (which is rarely the case) she tells you.

I’ve been a member of a local running club called Spa Striders for about 2 years and I have always felt like it’s a club which adds value beyond what most clubs offer. This could be in the form of circuits sessions, TRX sessions or one of the regular tempo and hill sessions. One particular person who has been key to most of these sessions is a guy called Stuart Lee. Stuart is exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate about running. What makes Stuart unique is the amount of personal time he dedicates to helping other club members. Stuart will soon be moving away and he will only be with the running club until the Summer and I think everyone at the club will feel his absence. For the past few months, Stuart has been regularly coming to my house in his personal time and giving me a sports massage as well as recommending stretches that will help with recovery.

I’d also like to mention Becky at Peak Performance who’s got me on a really solid footing with my rehab and I now fully buy into strength being a fourth discipline if you want to stay fit and injury free at IRONMAN distance. The other person who I’ve only recently met is Andrew at Tudor Physiotherapy Warwickshire. Within 2 minutes of meeting Andrew, I knew he was going to be the person to help me. In the first session, I had a small dose of Electric Shock Wave Treatment (ESWT) and by the time I came to see him on the second occasion, he felt the Achilles was feeling that much better, that it wasn’t necessary to do another course of ESWT.

Lots of deadlifts at the Crossfit FABER Box

Training on the whole for the past month has gone pretty well. Two changes I’ve made since I trained for IRONMAN Wales are:

  1. Train in the morning. This is essential on days where I’ve got to fit two sessions in. Where I’ve only got one session, I will still aim to do it in the morning as it clears the evening for family time. Psychologically, this really helps me as the training regime doesn’t feel so relentless, and hopefully from Meg’s perspective, she feels like she gets to see a bit more of me. (You’ll have to ask Meg whether in reality this is actually a good thing)
  2. Be willing to adapt training plans. It’s important to have a plan and you can’t afford to be taking long periods of time off training. However, most of us have responsibilities outside of training and being able to adapt is crucial. Yesterday is a case in point. I knew I was supposed to do a 2.5k swim and a 12k run at some point. The problem was I was getting a 10am train to London and I wasn’t going to get back home until 11pm. I got up early and managed a 1.5k swim and a 6k run and I felt pleased that I fitted in a condensed session.

I’m on Strava so for anyone who’s interested, you can follow my swim, bike and run sessions —

It’s always motivating when someone gives you kudos for a training session, particularly as I’m finding a lot of my training is done on my own. With the swim and the run, it doesn’t feel too bad, but I do need to have an occasional quiet word with myself when it comes to doing the weekly Sufferfest sessions in the garage or the long weekend rides when the weather is awful.

Another lonely and sweaty Sufferfest session in the dungeon

At the beginning of March, I’m racing the Dambuster Duathlon which will give me an early assessment of my fitness. My coach Jason has asked me to go out at 85% and I’m going to do my best not to lose my head to my competitive nature and remember that this is all preparation for my ‘A’ race. Next week I’m riding the Rawlinson Bracket which is a very hilly local ride which I do every year in memory of Nick Rawlinson who was a very keen and accomplished cyclist who sadly died in his sleep. I was lucky enough to meet Nick and I think it’s brilliant that a number of his mates have set up a sportive in his memory with all profits going to the SADS UK Charity.

A final cautionary tale….

I’ve learnt that with both training and recovery, there isn’t necessarily a silver bullet but just hard graft which when accumulated over time will pay dividends.

When I was getting very frustrated with my injury, Meg told me that someone had suggested spreading Ibuprofen cream liberally around the Achilles and then wrapping my leg in my cling film. I thought brilliant, this is it, I have the miracle cure. No. Instead I just looked like a complete knob and woke up with a burning sensation. A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions —

Expect to see models rocking this look at London Fashion Week
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