A few questions answered: What exactly am I up to?

Recently, I have been asked the same few questions by several of you who (surprisingly) read my blog. Although obvious questions, I realised I have never addressed them. So here they are, and some answers to go with them.

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The Z-Coaching “Z” for Zack? (Photo Credits: Ben Crookenden)

What does your typical week look like?

This one is pretty easy to answer. My weekly pattern and general outline is pretty consistent with over 25 hours of training (discluding changing room time), but what does change from one week to another is the intensity and duration of workouts.

Swimming: In general, I do 5 swims a week. Two of these are open water swims in the Andaman sea, and three are pool swims. The purpose of the pool swims is speed work, pacing, and technique. In the pool, the only people you can clearly see are the feet in front of you, anyone immediately on your side, and a brief glimpse at those behind you on the tumble turn. And also coach on pool side shouting at you to go faster.

So doing sprint sets in the pool is ideal, being pushed by those around you by trying to stay level with them, knowing that once you get dropped, it’s only going to get harder to catch up. The sea swims tend to be more aerobic swims, although this does vary depending on who shows up…

Running: this varies quite a bit, depending on what my main race focus is. At the moment, Subic Bay 70.3 in early March is my main goal. This has meant that since arriving in Phuket, my running mileage has slowly (but noticeably) crept up. In general, there’s a steady run, a brick run (run off the bike, high intensity), a long run which varies in distance depending on the week ahead, and of course any endurance athlete’s favourite: a speed session.

Cycling: cycling training for triathletes is not the same for cyclists, as mentioned in my previous post. Although the basic motions are the same, the strengths and priorities are different. As triathletes, we are training to be able to ride at a consistent pace for long periods of time. Theoretically, our long rides tend to be “smoother” with fewer sprints and surges than pure cyclists. Each week, we do one steady ride, one strength training ride, one time trial practice and a long ride of around 150km.

 

What do you mean by training group?

One of my favourite aspects of my training at the moment is that I am part of the Z-Coaching training group. There is a core group of athletes with whom I train day in, day out. We all come from different backgrounds, religions, nationalities, and are of different ages: 20 to 66 years old! But we all have a lot of fun in and out of training, sharing the same passion. We attend the same sessions, although sometimes people get variations of the session depending on their strengths and weaknesses. We’re there to push each other where appropriate, and reign one another in (or at least try to) when necessary.

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Crocodiles: #swimmingbuddy Jaray Jearanai pushing me on a kick set (Photo Credit: Mr. Orangedog Photography)

As a training group, we also have visiting athletes who drop in for a day, weekend or even months of training. It’s healthy to have fresh faces and meet new people, and certainly keeps it entertaining!

Psychologically, it’s easier to suffer when you are not alone. Some of you may work in a library for a similar reason, unless you really love revising.

After all, we’re human, not solitary animals. We enjoy human contact. There is more pleasure derived from a 5 hour ride with a mate or in a group, than the same one solo, even if you are remain focused for the entire ride.

You can’t make excuses in your mind of “no one else in their right mind would be able to go that fast”. Well you can but you will be judged. Like when you break too frequently or for too long in the library – I’m really not missing it that much!

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Training partners certainly make breaks more entertaining.

Do you feel stronger?

Ah, what a question! Honestly, how I feel with respect to my strength is not a steady state- and I believe it’s the same for most athletes. Ask me in the morning and I’ll be on top of the moon, ask me in the evening and I may not be quite so enthusiastic. Ask me before and after a slice of banana cake on the Sunday ride, and you’ll get two different answers.

But overall, I would like to think so. As I mentioned, the next few races will be interesting markers if all goes according to plan. Fingers crossed.

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Required downtime with old friends: exploring Phuket Town market after a long ride, eating at almost every stall!

Thank you for reading, and I hope this post answers the questions some of you may be having on what it’s like to live and train full-time. Somedays it’s easy, and others a bit more of a struggle.

If there is anything else you would like to know, please feel free to contact me or comment!

Imo xx

I leave you with the uplifting quote that can be applied to most aspects of life:

“If it is important to you, you will find a way.

If not, you will find an excuse.”

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