Having taken a few days off after my Antwerp 1/2 Ironman event, it was good to be able to refocus my efforts in training and reflect on my strengths and weaknesses. I am starting to reach the end of my season and although goal-setting should be visited shortly, it’s always beneficial to look at myself.
To recap, I was extremely pleased with my swim, very happy with my cycle but very disappointed with my run at Antwerp. I could quite easily use the injury I was recovering from as an excuse for a poor run but to be frank, I was not focused on pushing myself during this part of the race. Since racing, I’ve been trying to work out the reasons for this and think I now know why. Firstly, the bike course was quite boring with few spectators to cheer the athletes on and the final 3km being on cobbles. Coming from the UK, this is an uncomfortable surface to ride on and being a little tired after 87km, I eased off physically more than I should have and also eased off mentally. The run section of a triathlon has always been my poorest discipline and a lot of that is mental, I was just not looking forward to it. I also started the run with the thought that I should nurse my calf so that I finished the event. If you analyse this comment, you can see the negativity running through it even if you are short sighted. Add to this the feeling that I had done insufficient run training before the event and already I am setting myself up for a poor run.
Reflections are important but are only really useful if you benefit from what you learn. My focus for my next race turned directly to improving my run in my next event (a sprint distance event in a little town – Carterton – near my Mum’s). How was I, in less than 5 weeks, going to improve my running from a bottom 25% position to a top 50%? Firstly, Ian Leitch’s comments after the race rung in my ears “you don’t look like you enjoy running” which is not exactly true. When I am running well, I enjoy running and enjoy running as fast as I can. In Antwerp I was heavy legged and not landing correctly (I was quite flat footed), so my first change was to refocus and get myself on my toes which automatically forces me to run faster. Ian also suggested I needed to get out and do more fast “tempo” running which are race pace efforts, as well as intervals. In the following weeks I really made an effort to get out and run fast and hard more often. What happened? I started to enjoy my running as I felt stronger, faster and although it was tiring, the sessions were over reasonably quickly so I could relax and recover.
As race day approached, I was fortunate that Cormac (NLP coach at http://www.wearetri.co.uk/coachprofiles.html) came along with me to the race and we spent quite a long time chatting during the journey and he gave me a quick(ish) NLP session before the race. I won’t go into the detail (Cormac will hopefully guest blog shortly on some simple tips) but he got me to focus, in turn, on my worst running and then my best running experiences. The best experience was stored and would be brought forward in my mind when I felt like I was flagging. He also told a story of a race he did years ago when he noticed the leaders going past him (it was out and back) and the effort they were putting in and the sound of the breathing required for them to function at that effort. He then reflected on his own breathing and noticed how quiet he was which reflected the lack of real effort he was putting in. “Breath hard straight away and the pain will go away”. This is exactly what I did during the run whilst simultaneously remembering the feeling of the good run experience I had stored in my mind. The outcome? My best ever 5km triathlon run. I have another sprint in 4 weeks time so I aim to use Cormac’s NLP again for the event and also do some intense cycle sessions to improve my pace in that discipline also.
Thank you Cormac, you made my weekend even better, I felt really positive and played with my boy and niece & nephew in the afternoon and enjoyed the potential hell of Legoland with a smile on my face!