Motivation to Train

MotivationToTrainHere’s the first part of the year hours.
Black – total hours
White – last year
Purple – plan
Red – bike
Green – run
Blue – swim
red dots – BRICKS

This is a topic that has come up a lot recently in various contexts. Firstly I’ve been thinking a lot about it since my motivation has really dipped following Ironman New Zealand. This is completely usual in recent years and I can’t really work out why. Perhaps it’s really quite simple … I’m drained. The other context has been various discussions / questions about my approach. This is what I’ll deal with first.

Many friends and I’m guessing some people reading this blog will question whether the volume I do is optimum for Ironman Training and whether I should be doing something different. Totally valid and it’s got me questioning it myself.

Training Hours
Currently I am training full time and as such I keep saying to myself “Think Like a Pro”. What hours do they do ? Really we have no idea and I think there’s a tendency for Ironman athletes (pro’s, top AGers through to your average punter) to downplay their training. I remember in Kona 2005 having two guys who both went fast than me by 10 – 15 minutes claim training about 10 hours a week. I just find this very difficult to believe. I can’t disprove it but if it’s true there’s some secret they have that I’m not aware of. I read a while back something about a couple of pros (pretty sure it was Bella Comerford and Stephen Bayliss) saying they train between 30 and 60 hours a week. In that context my volume doesn’t seem that bad. Last year my weekly average was just over 30 hours. BIG weeks were 50 – 60 hours, standard weeks about 40, easy 20 and then there’d be periods of complete rest.

What about intensity ? I do loads and loads of aerobic work and always have, I just love it. So without realising it I’ve built up a very good aerobic base. Recently reading about Mark Allens approach I’ve found that unbeknownst (is that a word?) to me I’d been doing pretty much what he suggests. BUT, I rarely do speed work. This is something I’m pondering now. Heard an interview with Peter Reid and he said when he was at the height of his training for Kona he’d do a 6.5 hour ride and during the last hour he’d do intervals …. Now theres one to try.

Why Do The Hours
The volume of training I do is really not solely to maximise my Ironman performance. To be strictly accurate, the amount of cycling isn’t. I just love it and it really is the gravy that it helps my Ironman. In general I just love being out on the bike… I find after the first few hours I just lose time and before I know it 100 miles is clocked up. Strictly for Ironman I agree a more focussed approach may be required and perhaps to get sub 9 hours I will need to adjust what I do. I regularly find that if I’m out I’m so enjoying it I ride longer and don’t run off the bike. Since Kona last year I’ve changed this and did more BRICK sessions in the 5 weeks before Ironman New Zealand than I’d done in the whole of my Triathlon training prior. Putting this in the context of my volume … now I’m not working I can do 4 x 100+ miles on the bike (Sat, Sun, Tues, Wed) … totally enjoyable and I’d do it even if I wasn’t competing… that’s more or less 30 hours straight off the bat ! Add in coached swim sessions (4.5 hours), Thursday morning bikes (3.5 hours of fun with friend) a handful of runs and u already have over 40 hours.

Towards the end of my 20s I got a chronic knee injury (from Badminton) and I started to find a release in pushing distances in fell walking. Ever longer walks. I remember doing a walk in the Cairngorms on my own, only with a bum bag but with a Heart Rate Monitor (I was interested why on walking holidays I was always so hungry) … I walked for 14 hours and per my HRM burnt something like 6,000 calories. The endurance bug had bitten. I discovered a deep love of testing my endurance limits. As my knee  recovered this lead to Fell running: mountain marathons attempts at fell running challenges (Welsh 3,000s, Trantor Round, The Fisherfield Fells) … we’re talking 15,16, 17 hours of running. I tried triathlon and soon discovered Ironman – finally an event that suited my mentality. Still however, there’s this desire to test my limits. I like the fell running approach – no pomp and ceremony you just go and test it yourself, u head out and do it. So I don’t feel like doing big organised bike rides, for instance, instead I just head out and have a go. Thus for the past couple of years I’ve headed out to attempt a 250 mile ride. The first time I was 35 miles in at about 6am when I broke a spoke. I rode home and changed onto my fixed and rode 100 miles on that – I had to get a first that day and I’d not done a 100 miler on the fixed. Last year I just didn’t have it in me … managed 209 miles. This year I want to make another attempt… waiting for the motivation to train.

It’s been long but hopefully that’s given an insight into my motivations

Why then am I demotivated now. So far had 3 false starts to getting back in to training …hoping this latest one sticks.

Some random things I’ve read about recently:

Do your hard efforts when you are tired. The idea being that you push hard and get the training benefit but because you are tired you can’t stress your muscles too much. This sounds logical to me: imagine running 5km hard after a taper and running 5km hard after 10 hours of training. Ok the first will be fastest but it is also the one that’s likely to make you walk funny the next day !

Overtraining is mental not physical. There are lots of people that have very physical jobs week in week out. In that context averaging 30-40 hours training a week should be doable without overtraining (physically). Sometimes I feel this is correct but gonna mull it over and monitor how I feel.

If you bonk on the bike, stick it in your highest gear and churn out low cadence for 10 minutes and that should get you over the bonk. Heard a few people say this works. Gonna try it next time I bonk (could be a while ;o))

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