2018 is going to be a very busy year for me. In one week's time I will be walking down the aisle in a wedding that has been planned in only 5 months, in June I will be turning 30 on the same day as the British Championships (which I feel I should win just because it'll be my birthday), in August I will be travelling to Glasgow for the Age Group Sprint European Championships and then finally, if things go to plan, I shall be jetting off to the Gold Coast in September for both the Sprint and Standard AG World Championships and my honeymoon. Best year ever!
As I write this post I have just clicked “confirm” on my first race of the season. I’ll be practising my skills ahead of the World Qualifiers at the Woking Sprint Tri as I’m feeling out of touch with the world of triathlon! For the past 5 months, I have been in “Wedding Mode” (not that I’ve had any idea how to plan a wedding!) and I suddenly realised that the first races I have planned are the standard distance qualifier in St Neots and sprint distance qualifier at Eton Dorney in May.
Those of you that know me will be well aware that I am the clumsiest triathlete out there – I’ve lost count of the times I have fallen off my bike trying to do a flying mount or even dismount for that matter. Over the years, I have learnt that I NEED a warm up race to really get my head into the game; there’s no way I can go straight into a tough race without having a practice first. Last year I chose the Mallorca Triathlon, which is my absolute favourite race! It was all going well until my flying dismount; I went into transition way too fast, hopped off the bike, hit a pothole and went flying! I even got a round of applause! Then I went into the run having not done my shoes up properly, which led to them ripping my feet open and me finishing the race with blood literally pooling on the top of my shoes. My long suffering other half Chris knows the drill now though – straight to the medical tent to be patched up! Unfortunately, the Mallorca Tri falls on the weekend before St Neots so I won’t be able to go but Woking watch out!
My first goal this year is pretty simple: qualify for both Sprint and Standard distance World Champs. I figured if we’re flying to the other side of the world, I may as well do both. I competed in my first standard distance champs race in Rotterdam last season – I didn’t do very well but I did really enjoy the race. Having always competed over the sprint distance it’s nice to have a new challenge! I’ve decided this year not to enter any of the elite races. I do love elite racing but after a persistent shoulder injury at the end of last season, I know that my swim will be nowhere near strong enough to be involved in any of the bike packs. For me, this year is all about AG racing and deciding which race distance I should be focusing on for the next couple of seasons.
My training plan has changed dramatically this year as I have started working with triathlon coach Will Usher. Prior to this I was making up my own sessions, but by working with Will I have a lot more structure and have targets to work towards rather than just bumbling along. My swimming has been difficult; I popped two of my ribs out in July of last year and being hypermobile has meant that they did not want to go back in and stay back in. I am currently swimming three times a week but must be extremely careful of the volume of training; I’m sitting at about 7k a week right now which is not ideal. However, I am pretty good at doing my rehab exercises and as a Strength and Conditioning Coach myself, I have been able to programme in the correct exercises to make sure that, if nothing else, I will be strong enough to make it through a 1500m swim!
This has meant that the main bulk of my winter training has been focused around becoming more powerful on the bike and increasing my run speed. I have seen huge improvements in my cycling; my recovery pace is now quicker than my race pace was 2 years ago! I do 3-4 cycling sessions a week focusing on a mixture of power, steady state with some climbing thrown in for “fun”, and recovery sessions. Having previously been my weakest discipline, I’m feeling confident that improving my cycling alone with have a huge impact on my race performance.
I’ve always loved the run portion of a race but after a hip injury in 2015 (again due to my hypermobility) I’ve struggled to find my previous race pace form. This year I’ve been concentrating on changing the cadence of my run and am already feeling a lot quicker and smoother. Training for the run involves the usual steady state low heart rate runs which I usually do on the army trails with my dog but also a lot of interval training. The interval training distances vary but are all there to challenge my ability to hold onto my pace – cue lots of disgusting sweaty treadmill sessions which I love! I think this year I will have to re-adjust the way I see myself as a triathlete; I am not going to be the strong swimmer I have always previously been, but I am already so much more confident on the bike and run that I’m excited to see what I can do!
So my 2018 is actually very simple. Get married, qualify for sprint and standard worlds, win British Champs on my 30th birthday (not convinced at all on this one but we’ll give it a go), smash up Europeans, fly to Australia, give it everything in both races and then relax on a long-awaited honeymoon...how hard could that be?