Not quitting…

…just been taking a really long break!

After that amazing summer break, writing anything publishable has been the furthest thing from my mind – well, that’s not true – I actually thought about it a lot (as is my way), but couldn’t bring myself to the keyboard! Totally defeating a primary purpose of writing this weekly blog i.e. developing a daily writing habit.

I fully admit that from late July, until midnight on the 31st August, I was off the reservation. My consumption of sugar, alcohol and social media made any progress in terms of fitness or writing non-existent. As my mileage and word count plummeted, I managed to shrug off the initial guilt I felt with the following affirmations: “Everyone needs a break,” and “all work and no play…bla bla…” and finally, “you can start again in September.”

And despite the staggered start to my September training due to a heavy work schedule, I do feel renewed, revitalised and focused entirely on my big goal: to run a sub 3 hour marathon in the Berlin 2020 marathon.

Sunday 1st September marked the beginning of this new chapter, with my first (hungover) mile run in my recently purchased Mizuno Wave Riders. They are as light as a feather, comfortable, and smell great…for now! I am particularly attached to these trainers already, as I had to go all the way to London to buy them due my local Runners Need shop closing down. As I’m taking my running seriously, I even purchased two pairs at once (road shoes, no longer trail), which I intend to alternate, so I am properly equipped for Berlin.

Running will take a temporary back seat to hiking (15% incline on the treadmill) in the run up to my next 24 hour three peaks challenge…but after that, it’s all about getting up to 40 miles a week of Maffetone-style (141 bpm) training until Christmas.

Triathlon: not for me…yet?

The relief I felt upon deferring my Dorney Lake Season Finale place to next year’s Windsor Triathlon instead, was huge. The event had hung over me like a cloud all summer (when I actually remembered that I was doing it). Even at my current weight and fitness level, I had no concerns about being able to complete it, but I most definitely would have been slower than my previous Olympic triathlon.

Although I enjoy a triathlon event itself, the training is an absolute ball-ache!

Open water swimming, I only have the opportunity to do twice a week – those days and times are determined by the organisers – so this is uber-inconvenient. I talk myself out of going to the far more flexible swimming pool, on account of them being essentially different sports! I shit you not, put me in a pool and although I’ll be bored, I can get into a rhythm and get my laps done. Shoe horn me into a wet suit though, and dunk me in a lake, and I’m thinking about getting out half a lap into the session.

Cycling, not to mention the attire, is not really for me. I can do it, like swimming, but I alternate between being extremely bored and petrified of the passing cars. “Am I there yet?” is the thought that most occupies my mind.

Running, I have not lost my love for – but I managed to start skipping even that, in order to work on the other two disciplines (which I also ended up skipping).

Ultimately, triathlon is something I will come back to, as I have enjoyed it…but I need more time, money and flexibility in terms of my work schedule. The first two I can wrangle, at a cost…the third isn’t currently possible.

Next Summer

I am going to have to be a lot stricter with myself next summer, as the Berlin marathon is held at the end of September. I can’t afford to be 6.2 kg over my racing weight for my first true sub-3 hour marathon attempt.

Of the many temptations that summer brings, alcohol is the easiest to resist. Sugar, the hardest. Late nights, somewhere in between. Training is easy, as long as it’s running and I get it done early. Any sort of late night, even without alcohol, results in a later start and the possibility of missing my window for running. I can run in the afternoon or evening, but it’s just far less likely to happen (statistically speaking).

I love getting up early, before any traffic has built up and polluted the air, before Laura and the kids are awake and wondering where I am. I don’t need a lifeguard, or lights, or to worry about drunk drivers or algae. Running, is my thing. It’s simple, primal, basic…but pure and productive.

I have at least one triathlon booked in for next year (as a result of deferring this year’s Dorney Lake Finale), and I would like to improve my performance in the swim and on the bike. This comes down to technique with the swimming, and plenty of Turbo training throughout the winter which I will need help setting up.

POST-BERLIN

I have something completely different planned for after Berlin. My marathon days will be over…but I may well do a half-marathon every now and then. I will be pursuing other fitness goals, more in alignment with my health goals.

I think the mental side of endurance training is incredibly important and transferable, but the health benefits from chronic cardio have diminishing returns after an hour or so, and HIIT is looking like the more economical route to health and fitness.

It comes down to specificity. Ultimately, my main endurance event is “life”. Marathons, Iron Man or Cross-Fit won’t necessarily prepare me for “life”. They’re fun, and if I can train for them without incurring an injury, I’ll take part. But I am totally aware of how much more difficult that is going to be post-40.

Lots to look forward to and get excited about…and lots to write about, every day…and back to one article published each week.

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