Sunday 27 May 2012

This rest day is a training day

I have been almost relentlessly positive about my training progress. This is in part because progress has been rapid - I had (and still have) weight to lose and strength to gain, therefore any structured plan would show an improvement. It's also in part because I try to take a positive approach to everything I do - I find that if I can remain positive and focused about training that transfers directly to other areas of my life. I've found it's important to have a mental strategy to deal with alterations to the training plan as it can become a problem if that level of positivity hinges on each session being completed succesfully.

This week the weather has been very warm in the UK. I'm a big fan of summer, I love the sun and being outside on my bike or (now I'm a bit lighter) even running. It does take a few days to adapt to the overnight temperature though - as a result this last week I've had three consecutive nights from Wednesday to Friday night of very broken and unrewarding sleep. This peaked on Friday when I'll wager that I got no more than 30 minutes uninterrupted sleep at a time. Not only nowhere near enough sleep, but definitely not enough to sustain a heavy training load.

Saturday was due to ba a long and hard day, challenging at the best of times. Up at 4am, pick up Danny Norman (go and download The parkrun Show now) and drive to Marple in Cheshire for their inaugural parkrun, drive home. Sleep for 3 or 4 hours. Get up again, cycle up to Clapham and meet some work colleagues at 11pm for the London to Brighton Night Ride - and, in order to make it a real Ironman-worthy training session - cycle back home afterwards.

Marple parkrun was gorgeous. A challenging undulating course on a beautiful hot early-summer morning. I met some great people including Tom Williams and his wife Helen and daughter Rosie, Tom is a presenter on Marathon Talk (grab it from iTunes) and UK Manager for parkrun. David and Sharon Rowe who have been involved in the parkrun community for many years; and James, Marple parkrun event director, and his crew. I even got to say hi to Tony Audenshaw, who I know as the voice of Tony's Trials in Marathon Talk, but is apparently better known as Bob from Emmerdale. We had a lovely coffee afterwards at sleepy coffee shop and bakery Libby's in Marple Bridge - I'm not sure they knew what had hit them!

Marple people and parkrun people in the sun (check out how sharp the shadows were at 8:30am)

As I was driving back yesterday early afternoon I knew something had to give. I was absolutely shattered, only a Grande Filter from Starbucks and Danny's chirpy chatter kept me focussed enough to get home. I collapsed onto the sofa and was micro-sleeping almost immediately. Regrettably, I had to call the night's 180km mega-ride off.

I have a real problem with people who promise to do things, and then don't show up - it's a behavioural trait that winds me up, particularly when others have gone out of their way or might be looking forward to your presence. I try very hard not to be that person so missing the ride was not a decision taken lightly.

Would I enjoy cycling 180km (if indeed I made the distance) in a catatonic haze? Would it make me a better Ironman? No on both counts, and it would have a negative impact on my adaptation of the week's productive load.

I ate well yesterday afternoon, made an effort not to nap, and turned in at about 11pm in the end. I slept solidly until 9.30am today - a sleep that gave me far more training benefit than the ride would have done.

So I'm sorry I missed the ride, I hope the guys that did it had an awesome time, but for me - my night's training was spent dreaming and recovering. It was a positive decision, it was the right thing to do.

Rest is training too.


  1. I was wondering whether you'd got to Marple!

    1. Yup - we got there! It was a seriously long way. I can't parkrun for the next three weeks now (race/training stuff), so it had to be a good one to keep me going.