It's pleasing to write that I have achieved what was a main focus of my 2011 season and competed in my debut Triathlon World Cup.
No expectations were placed on performance but simply to experience and enjoy the process. By no means did I have a mind blowing performance against a stellar field, but it was a race that went smoothly and placed me in the best position for a win. I placed 25th.
The line up included to renowned swimmers including Richard Varga, Polyansky, James Elvery and Ivan Vasiliev and was always going to be a hot swim. Having made second bunch but outnumbered, our group worked well with a solid display of team work from Belgium to bridge the gap with 1 lap to go. It definitely a rush to be in the main pack coming into T2. The runners quickly ranked themselves and it was a race to discover who negotiated the undulating bike best. My running performance was something to be happy with although fading in the last 2km is an area to work on for next season.
I also had the opportunity to race in front of my parents and knowing it will wrap the season up for me, was great motivation to compete for every position.
Prior to Tongyeong World Cup, I found myself in Aix Les Bain (France) as a 'training partner' with the Australian ITU team. I got the opportunity to train with a lot of quality athletes and learn from them all. After spending 4 weeks in camp, you can understand how these guys and girls perform so well having great facilities and great athletes around them. Definitely not to be taken for granted.
From Aix Les Bain, I returned to England for a short time to fine tune some areas of training before Tongyeong. Also known as 'cramming'! I must have done something right as it was a major relief to have a solid race among some very experienced triathletes.
It's now time to reflect and begin building again for next season. As exciting as it all is, it will be a long time before the first major domestic race but I may manage to sneak in some other races in the mean time.
Tweet The focus of my training over the past few months has revolved around clocking as many kilometres on the bike as possible. This plan was put into action for three reasons. Firstly I’ve been unable to run due to a few stress fractures, secondly the time of year meant I was free from uni and finally, cycling fitted in nicely as a base building period leading up to world champs in November. Normally my time would go into the swim and bike equally but during this period I have been floundering in the water with my times going backwards. Thankfully I’m getting back on track with that after finally discovering the technical glitch that developed during a period of experimentation a while back. Having felt increasingly strong on the bike during this period I was surprised when a time trial just this week gave me a clear indication of how fatigued I now was and dare I say it, overtrained. This really did surprise as I have actually dropped the bike volume in the past two weeks as running has been re-introduced. Whenever this happens it is very important to take a step back, look at your circumstances as a whole and work out why this is. So this brings me to my two topics, understanding total stresses and the importance of sleep. Both sections are my thoughts and deductions from previous experiences mixed in with the theories and research that I’ve done.
Everything we do and encounter is a form of stress... even if it feels like getting out for that run is de-stressing you it is quite simply not true, it’s just a different form of stress. I’d broadly class stress into three categories: physical, emotional and day to day. The only stress that a lot of us take notice of is the physical stress that is directly associated with training. Emotional stress comes from our social relationships and day to day from the daily grind, be it at work, university or school. In my case I neglected to recognise the day to day stresses that were building up.
After pushing hard on the bike during the time I was unable to run, I was seeing real gains being made, which of course just fuels the desire to do more. However I cut back on my biking to re-introduce some running, the trade off was about 100k less a week on the bike for a handful of 20 min runs. I believed that trade off actually decreased total physical stress. So a shocking TT effort and a general flatness this week caught me off guard. The reason for my overtraining in this case I believe was not a result of physical stress but a build up of day to day stresses (busier at work getting busier and returning to uni). It took barely two weeks from the re-introduction of these day to day stresses to upset the delicate balance between stress and rest. As for the solution, I allowed myself two easier days of training and then reassessed my programme. I sat down and worked out a more holistic training schedule that has significantly less volume but will be more manageable with my current commitments.
Figure 1: I like to use regular time trials as indicators of accumulating fatigue
I think it’s also very important to assess how much time you really have to train. I used to operate on the basis that a set amount of training had to be done no matter how many other commitments were on that day. I think this is the theory that most triathletes subscribe too and the cost usually ends up being less sleep. But who cares we can sleep when we’re dead right? Though an amusing notion I don’t believe that accumulating sleep debt is the way to a successful athletic career. I’ve personally strung together months of training that demanded a 5:30am wake up to swim before work and then I’d leave from to work to get through a solid running session or a ride. In the case of riding I’d be lucky to arrive back home before 10pm. By the time I’d hit the sack it was usually midnight and then I’d be ready to do it all over again the next day.
While descending Galston Gorge in darkness and pouring rain (The front light malfunctioned in the wet) it occurred to me that perhaps this isn’t the most effective way to train. Furthermore the training all felt like work and the fun was completely absent from the equation. Following this period of ongoing sleep deprivation I resolved to base my training around sleep rather than vise versa. This brought back my energy and with that the joy of training. The longevity of an endurance training career has been described as being limited by the amount of days one can get up tired and go to sleep even more tired. I say if your getting up tired your doing something wrong, so shift the alarm back or simply turn it off. After all, rest is a training principle. Cutting short the morning session in order to get proper sleep certainly won’t hurt your ability to produce a personal best come race day and it makes the whole lifestyle more pleasant. Sometimes less really is more.
I hope that I’ve provided some food for thought when it comes to managing the delicate balance of stress and rest. Happy training!
Having now reached Zurich with another nice training block completed, it is time toaddress some of the smaller issues that i have discovered from the last few weeks of racing.
The European season kicked off for me in Brasschaat, Belgium against a solid line up of international athletes. A strong French contingent split the field from the swim and turning an already technical course into a 40km chase.
With a group of 12 athletes up the road heading into T2, Belgium experienced one of my more 'ugly' days as i rounded out the top 30. It was a run that never found its rhythm. Reflecting on the race, I should be satisfied as it was my first major European ITU event. Congrats to fellow Australians, Pete Kerr and Jamie Huggett who placed 8th and 10th respectively with impressive run splits.
With only a quick turn around to Cremona ITU European Cup 14 days later, Italy played host to a fast and spectator friendly event which saw the ride, run and finish chute all based in central Cremona. This was not a key event for me and meant racing off a very steep taper with fingers crossed i would be fresh for the race.
Crucial urgency in T1 meant i had to settle for 2nd pack and survive a 40 man fight through the narrow, old town streets of Cremona before finding legs for what would be a sharp 5km run leg. My run split didn't quite reach the potential that i was hoping for which meant any chance of reeling in front group of athletes difficult.
Both races revealed key areas that my coach and i can work towards in the coming months. With the inclusion of racing, the enjoyment of travel and the opportunity to meet people is something that i look forward to doing more of in the near future with hopefully more success in races!
Next race is Holten, Netherlands on 9th July 11.
A quick thanks to Mizuno, SiS and The Bike Shed for the support!
Race season is in full swing for Australia and this weekend will see most Australian ITU athletes head to Wellington for the highly anticipated Oceania Championships.
It couldn't have come at a quicker time for me after an overdose of early sprint races since January. My early season training was showing more improvements with 2 tidy results at Devonport ITU Triathlon and Kinloch ITU Triathlon with a 5th and 7th.
The highlight for 2011 so far has to be Australian Sprint Champs in Geelong. Although it was not a great result for me (15th), it was such a buzz racing some of the best guys in the sport and coming into T2 with the main group. It was great to see some hard working athletes get some deserving results and should be interesting to watch (and race!) them this season.
I am also excited to announce that I am now working with Daniel Green who has put a huge emphasis on my running. Daniel has had quite some success himself as a runner and Duathlete and has a great understanding for my training demands!
Possibly the best news to date is my new Triathlon Tribe sponsorship! Mizuno and SiS have kindly offered to help with triathlon and nutrition supplies which will give me an advantage when I head to Europe to compete in April!
Race 4 of the Gatorade Series, the Portarlington Triathlon, celebrates its’ 25thanniversary on Sunday 6th February, 2011 at Portarlington Pier, Portarlington.
The Portarlington Triathlon is Victoria’s favourite and longest running triathlon. Event Director, David Hansen said, “Portarlington has been rated as one of the best courses in Australia”.
The coastal town has been know to attract World and National Champions with past winners including, Stephen Foster, Chris Legh (1996), Emma Carney (4 times), Craig McKenzie (4 times) and Tim Bentley (6 times).
Bentley won the 2nd-ever Portarlington event, and is still racing today, currently winning the Series for the 45-49 age group.
A strong contingent in the men’s elite division will front the 25thanniversary event, with one of the largest fields to date. Notable participants include:
· Kristian McCartney (3-time Series winner; and 2007 Portarlington winner)
· Tim Clarke (ex-AFL Hawthorn footballer; 2ndat Race 2 of the Gatorade Triathlon Series; it is Tim’s first year in the sport of triathlon)
· NOTE: Paul Attard (2010 Portarlington Winner) is injured, so unfortunately will not be racing.
Sunday’s race will also see the 2010 Portarlington Female Winner, Madeleine Oldfield, set to make it a clean sweep of the Gatorade Triathlon Series, having held on to victory at the past three races. Oldfield will be up against the 2009 NSW Olympic Distance title holder Melissa Vandewater.
The prestigious event reached capacity for the first time in the events’ 25 year history, with1000competitors to take on the 800m swim, 26km cycle, and 8km run course. Each competitor will receive a commemorative 2XU triathlon race singlet to mark the occasion.
The Active Feet Fun Tri (300m/10km/3km) will also be held in conjunction with the main race on Sunday.
Celebrations will include a band and entertainment for the kids (face painters).
Into my forth week in Spain and the weather is starting to heat up making training easier everyday. The last two weeks have been very busy with training and racing on both weekends.
The first race being the Lekietio Triathlon which also doubled as the Basque Sprint Distance Championships. Lekeitio put on a fantastic race with the finish in the medieval town square. The race was won by Australia's Brendon Sexton while the undulating bike course proved too tough for me taking 9th overall. Slightly disappointed with my result.
The second race featured the San Sebastian International Triathlon which again doubled as the Basue Olympic Distance Championships. Transition was set on the San Sebastian Boulevard with the swim start on one of the city's most popular beaches.
The race was dominated from the start by French International, Sylvain Sudrie, who was never seen after the T1. A chase group containing 4 Australians including myself and 2 strong Basque athletes attempted to close the gap but entering T2 it seemed as though it would be a foot race for 2nd.
Josh McHugh from Australia claimed 2nd place while i had one of my better races of the season to claimed 3rd. To add to the excitement of a podium, the Australian guys took 1,2,3 in the sub23 division. Very good result.
My focus now turns to spainish classes tonight and then a sprint race in Tudela on saturday. Tudela will act more as a training session than a key race.
This season started with two back to back Asian ITU races. The first being Amakusa ITU Cup in Japan then a short flight over to Hangzhou,China.
I was lucky enough to be provided with home stay accommodation for my week in Japan and living with 3 Japanese triathletes. The week was great training with 'Wings Triathlon Club' then heading to the race as a team. I finished a respectable 6th place but just out of the prize money. It was all good fun.
Hangzhou ITU Premium Cup was held in Qiandahou with the race organisers looking after all the athletes very well which made racing in a different country that much easier. Hangzhou proved to be a hotly contested field with many international athletes making the journey. I was slightly disappointed finish 18th as I had high expectation from the week before.
I am now based in Vitoria, Spain for the next two months training and racing with other Australian athletes. This weekend, we will be travelling to Lekeitio to race the Basque Sprint Distance Championships on Saturday. It will be my first sprint distance race for a long time.