So, Ironman Switzerland it is then. After almost a 12 month lay-off, Ironman is back in focus. Switzerland. My very first. 2009. Where the addiction and fascination with the sport really took off. “No more” I cried during the last lap of the run. “Never again” and “stupid sport” were also heard during the long run in to the finish. “What’s the point of this sport?” was repeated in darker moments.
This will be Ironman number 12.
Entering Switzerland has me fired up again. Training. Focused training, oh how I’ve missed you. Reading. Listening. Watching. Can’t get enough Ironman and triathlon talk at the moment.
Plotting, oh the plotting. Making a schedule where I can fit training in, where it fits in with the family, where I can still spend time with Lynn, where I do not neglect everything else. That’s the challenge, right there. It’s easy to become obsessed and let it take over everything. The hard part is to recognise this, and adjust accordingly. The family are on board, positively encouraging. Not turning their encouragement sour by over-doing it is the key.
Filtering. Deciding on the approach to training, particularly during the winter. Train slow in the attempt to build solid endurance, an aerobic engine? Include more intense sessions with a focus on improving power and pace? Researching different scholars of the sport. Different viewpoints, different approaches. That’s the fun, right? Coming up with an approach, a method, that works for me, that fits with my lifestyle.
Goals. Where to begin? How high do you aim? How big should the goal be? What will fire me up? What will get me out of bed in the early mornings or keep me training when all others have gone to sleep? On the other hand, do I really want a big performance goal? Is part of the joy just the fact I can do this sport, whilst also living a normal life – with a wife, three children, a business. Do I need to reach for a sub-10 hour goal? Do I aim at getting closer to the top age groupers? Do I use 2017 as a progression year, to have a crack at the big one in 2018? Or am I happy participating and seeing what I can do with what I’ve got? That’s a tough one to wrestle with. When the reality kicks in, and there are other priorities to deal with, will these fit with my race goals. How do I adjust?
The answer, in part, is smaller goals perhaps. Not necessarily race related, more progression and training related. A goal of four runs per week. That’s a small, achievable goal isn’t it? Done for the next 40 weeks though, and that frequency and consistency transforms me into a much better, more robust Ironman runner than I’ve previously thought I was capable of. Power on the bike is pretty low in comparison to good age-groupers. Increasing power on the bike by 5 watts per month. Sounds straightforward, achievable. Easy to digest. That’s 50 watts of extra power available on race day. Build speed on the swim. Fast 50m and 100m efforts. A 1.05 all-out effort translates into comfortable 1.20 cruising pace. A sub 60 second swim in a gala is still in focus. That’s 50m training efforts at 30 seconds. Can these goals be done? Can they be achieved at the same time? Will achieving bike power goals impact on the swim intensity? Don’t know. Set them, aim for them, recalibrate them as we go along.
Lots of thinking to do. Lots of information to digest. Lots of dreams to have. Lots of training to do. Ironman Switzerland 2017. Exciting times ahead.