Back in Christchurch now. We had a great drive back in the van yesterday morning – great scenery and a pretty quick journey back. Gave us enough time to get a gentle spin on the bikes out towards Sumner where I put my wetsuit in for repair before getting a coffee and returning. Mike did a great BBQ for us here at Bottle Lodge. Toby was in town for one night and joined us for the barbie !
Today I’ve managed to do a gentle 60km on the bike split up with a breakie and then a coffee and lunch with Jo. It’s nice to be taking it easy for a few days. I’ve thought alot on the bike. This Epic Camp certainly raised my confidence and I even found myself daydreaming (sorry visualising) about a sub 9 hour Ironman at Taupo ! now that would be something. Running strong on the final race of Epic camp has made me think – perhaps I could push at that level for the whole marathon in an Ironman.
I feel like the whole Epic Camp environment is just perfect for me. I have loved both the camps I’ve done and would love to do more. This years camp ended with just the best end of camp dinner. The banter was great and having spent a week sharing a pretty tough experience with this group made for a wonderfully enjoyable evening. Several of us went across to the Honest Lawyer to continue the drinking … surprisingly Scott didn’t make it over !
Riding along today I felt very excited about the year ahead. I’ve not felt this motivated to train for a long long time. I feel things could go very well as long as I can suss out how to do the final few weeks prep for a race well. I feel I manage to train well and, in general, I manage to execute a race well. What I’m not so good at is those weeks between all out training and racing. Thats what I have to suss.
I thought alot about how much I train. I remembered back to my pre epic days. I used to train tonnes but in effect it was in blissful isolation. OK, friends and acquaintances would give me the impression I was doing loads but I just assumed that couldn’t be the case. Whats the chances that what you’re doing is so out of the ordinary. I just assumed that anyone performing well was doing this sort of volume. Having done two Epic Camps now I am starting to wonder. Perhaps I do an unusual amount of training. perhaps my ability to recover and my ability to just keep going is unusual. At both camps even though these are camps that will attract people that are not worried by volume the majority of the campers seem to have looked on what I do as rather out of the ordinary even though I think nothing of it. Perhaps it is the case.
This got me wondering about how I ended up being able to do so much. When I look back with this in mind it makes me realise that for much of my life I have done exercise to extremes though at the time often I didn’t think of it as training. Back at school and university when I swam I did most sessions that were available. I was brought up to believe that hard work paid off. In sport I always felt I was willing to train hard so events that paid off hard work more than natural talent appealed to me. After University when I played badminton it wasn’t half arsed. I was in two clubs, at times playing for 3 teams, getting coached. Alot of the time I was playing 6 days a week. (no wonder I screwed up my knee). The first cycle tour I did when I was a student there was no messing about. I did 6 weeks in Northern Norway – very remote, cycling 100km a day, carrying everything I needed. Then I thought about the fell walking I did. Most summers 3 weeks hostel to hostel in the Lakes, generally picking long demanding routes. Same thing in the Pyrenees – 3 weeks, full packs, big ambitious days every day. Walking holidays regularly involved walking 12 -14 hours a day, day after day. Then I found fell running and mountain marathoning. Alan and I did some bonkers routes just for kicks and I must say to this day I’ve never managed to feel as exhausted as the day we ran in and out of Fisherfield the day after we’d spent 15+ hours running over all the Fisherfield fells. The picture above is of me at that precise moment. Those sort of runs were so committing – we didn’t see anyone all day. We’d run in for say 4 or 5 hours and then turned around. No matter how exhausted I felt I had to keep running. At the time I thought nothing of it but now perhaps it taught me alot about what you are able to do even when very tired.
If anyone came to me for advice on Ironman Training I would never suggest they do what I do. It’s not aimed at maximizing my Ironman performance it’s aimed at maximizing my enjoyment. Now I think I would even go further – if someone wanted to mimic what I do I would propose caution. Looking back I think that my ability to train this long and hard has been built up over say 20 years (possibly more) of doing lots of every long but very low intensity aerobic work.