Freedom from my mental shackles


It's been a long road getting the fitness back up whilst surrounded in hip injury, but I'm finally back on the road to peak fitness... but some way to go yet.


A bit of history...

2019 was a tough year. A house move, a new job, another child, a massive commute and a lot of weight gain. It was a year that can be summarised with words like 'pressure', 'trapped' and 'fatigue'.


My daily routine started with an alarm at 0515 followed by a 90min commute from Henley on Thames across London to Canary Wharf. A day without a fully stacked diary of meetings, workshops & presentations was very rare. And my return journey started religiously at 1700 sharp, because to miss the 1748 train from Paddington would mean missing the only 30mins time slot with my two girls (aged 1 & 3) every day - and i always do the bedtime story. Training was reserved for the late evening, after dinner with my wife, and my excuses were frequently stronger than my will to get on the bike or out for a run in the dark.


So with my fitness at an all-time low, the weight was quickly adding on too. Moving to Henley from central London had been a dream for many years, and we had now, in 2019, finally achieved it. Henley being surrounded by open fields, a chance to live next to the river and loads of good running & cycling routes in the area was an enormous draw. But it's amazing, and disappointing, to look back on last year and see how little I took advantage of the natural opportunities around me.


2020 has seen a new outlook though, and a freedom from the mental shackles that were so constraining last year. Easing back into the running was step one, building through to half marathon distance in February. I made some significant commitments to myself and my family. No matter what, i would work from home at least 1 day per week, aiming for 2 days a week ideally. Getting those 3 commuting hours back on just a single day made a big difference to my mid week time with my girls and my opportunities for training. So here started the virtuous circle that has continued now to the day that was supposed to by my first Triathlon of the season...


It has been an amazing release getting out on some 5k, then 10k, then 15k and 20k runs in the hills around Henley. Building the distance back into the legs took time, and speed was nowhere to be seen while i tried to shed the weight. There's nothing quite like carrying an extra 10kgs for 20km to do your joints some damage. And that's just what happened... my right hip couldn't quite handle the weight coupled with my poor running form. On the plus side, no issues with my hip on the turbo trainer... so i changed tack and immersed myself fully into training on the bike.


Two months of recovery style training on the turbo and building back up the running, with help from the physio, seems to have done the trick. Hip issues solved through fixing my weakened joints, core and running form. I'm ramping up the training, getting into some Zwift races, working more interval sprints into the runs and this weekend I'll be out in the river commencing work on the swim.


Here are a couple of my training highlights, that i've mentally banked to keep the positive mental attitude:

  1. Entered a Zwift race (42km) and won my category in an epic sprint finish. Putting out >800w in the sprint and winning by a super tiny margin - 0.195s.

  2. Last week I set up on Zwift to pump out 30 or 40km, but the legs felt so good that i just went on and on to a comfortable 100km. Note to self... more water bottles required next time

  3. Went for a 5km jog, but the weather was perfect and i felt fast, so i thought i'd weave in some intervals. Then in the end i did a 10km at a pace not far off my peak 10km times of 2016 (a period of peak performance)


Lockdown has been fantastic for my training time. No commuting at all, and i've ramped up the training even more. But on the downside, Lockdown has also meant no racing... So my plans to do an Ironman this year may have to be on hold. Instead I'm going to start out with an Olympic distance triathlon at Dorney lake and aim for an Ironman 70.3 ASAP after that... but time will depend on the success of my summer training plan.


Watch this space... :-)