My next race is fast approaching and after the huge amount of training I have done in the lead up to the event I have been feeling a bit tired. I think for that reason my coach has opted to go for a slightly longer taper in the lead up to the event then usual. I am certainly not in full taper mode at the moment but there are no more 25km runs with efforts or 600km weeks on the bike. I am quite grateful for this because I was starting to find the training not only physically exhausting but also very mentally draining.
That is why we taper, to allow all of the adaptations our body has made through the training to settle in and be delivered on race day. In essence we recover before a race so we are able to go out and give 100%. In theory this makes perfect sense and many people who do not train as much as I do would think going from 20-30 hours a week of training down to maybe 10-15 would be a relief or even easy. They would be wrong. Your body gets used to the load, the routine and the release of endorphins that many people find tapering incredibly difficult. I am not an exception to this rule. But this time I am noticing another problem.
Along with the desire to train when you taper it is incredibly normal to start to become paranoid. I am getting fat because I am not training, I wont be able to go as fast because I haven’t done any speed work. It is these sorts of thoughts and doubts that can really have a negative impact on your taper. The stress and worry means you don’t rest properly and are not able to recover properly. In Melbourne I am racing for a time at my next race but it isn’t really a race where there is that much pressure on me to perform. So these usual thoughts are not impacting me. So what is going on?
Since the start of this week instead of worrying or stressing or panicking about things I am the complete opposite. I am struggling to feel anything. I feel completely drained of all emotion. I am lethargic and if anything I feel like my taper is making me even more tired than I already was. It is incredibly frustrating. I wake up in the mornings and struggle to get out of bed. In my university lectures I struggled to pay attention. I felt fuzzy and not really present. This in turn has started to make me feel anxious. I really believe anxiety is the most useless emotion we can experience. I mean it literally does nothing and lately I have no idea what I am anxious about.
So I am going through this weird phase of feeling not much except for random anxiety about god knows what at a time when I need to be trying to recharge and recover. This is when it becomes time to tell myself to shut up, or maybe more specifically to cut it out.
I am lining up next weekend for my 22nd 70.3. I have been through this process enough times to know what is going on but I am still faced with different experiences. I assume the way I am feeling is a combination of changes in hormonal levels as a result of the change in my training and is a bi-product of my body recovering. Rationally I know and kind of believe that it is part of the process. What I need to keep telling myself or forcing myself to do is to not let my period of flatness and anxiety get in my way. If I spend too much time and energy on these things I will not be properly recharged mentally on race day and that could be the difference between a PB and just missing out.
So how do I try to do this? The best piece of advice I can give anyone who starts to feel any sort of difficult emotion in the lead up to a race is to just focus on you. Not in an egomaniacal way but focus on those things that you CAN control. Think about the training you have done. Analyse the state of your equipment to make sure it is in prime working order and less likely to cause you any problems on race day. Scan your body for any problems and take comfort when you realise there aren’t any or do what you can to get on top of any little niggles. Control all of those things that you have control over and leave less to chance.
I cannot guarantee that this will make you completely at ease and not anxious or worried. But when the voices in your head start to make you question things you are able to tell them to shut up because you know you have everything under control. I do not know what is making me anxious at the moment. Maybe it is the fact that my new bike arrives next week and I am trying to get a fit assorted and all the equipment right. Maybe it is because I am racing on a course I am not familiar with. Maybe it is because I feel so terrible before my race. What I do know though is that it is not a lack of preparation or uncertainty about those things that are within my control. Because anytime those thoughts enter my mind I am quick to tell them to shut up!
I am working on some exciting new things over the next few weeks and am looking forward to partnering up with Mike ‘Robo’ Robinson to deliver something that I think will be great. We will keep you updated with more information in the coming weeks but that is a nice little bit of sizzle for you.
Don’t waste energy worrying, focus on what you can control and remember to TRI!
The weather sucks and I wanted to sit down and write about another of those little old life lessons I have come across through my training and weight loss journey.
Let me take you back, many many moons ago. I was a younger man back then and life was much simpler. I ate and drank what I wanted, when I wanted and didn't think too much of it. As a result of this, I developed a super power! I could party! I loved nothing more than heading to the pub/club/party/anywhere serving booze and spending the evening sinking as much alcohol as I could get my hands on! I remember one of my most impressive performances was a 20 schooner (what people in NSW call a 425ml glass of beer) afternoon for a friends birthday. My standard drink of choice was a bottle of Bundaberg Rum which I drank straight from the bottle with no mixer or anything. I prided myself on my ability to skull a beer (I am still pretty good at it) and how many shots I could do (I cannot still do this!) Even once I finished uni and moved down to Sydney to start being a grown up my drinking did not stop. It certainly eased up, but I was still going through probably 2 cases a week and having a huge Friday and Saturday night. Life was good! Or at least I thought it was until I went through my 'little change.'
One of the methods I used to drop my weight was I cut right back on alcohol and in fact basically went dry for 6 months. I didn't set myself a goal or anything but it just sort of happened that way. In that 6 months I lost around 30kgs and had started to train, A LOT! It was around 6 months later that I went out for my first proper night out in a while. I don't remember feeling any anxiety or issues about having some drinks. When we got out it was amazing how quickly I slipped back into my old habits. Shots, beers, wine. I may have been smaller, but I could still party like I used to... Or could I? I realised I had passed the point of no return too late. I was much drunker than I should have been so early in the night and I could not understand what was going on. Needless to say that night ended up with me asleep in the bathroom. Reflecting on that night out I assumed I had just drunk more than I was used to and didn't think too much of it.
The problem was, this kept happening. On the rare, and I mean rare occasions I would settle in for a big night with friends I would get horribly drunk and end up cuddling the toilet bowl all night. I kid you not, this happened a good 10 times over maybe 2 years before I really started to work out what was going on. I had become the thing I had worked so hard to avoid (and at the same time become ironically). I was a lightweight. It is a little bit ridiculous to think that after all the changes I went through and how I was able to turn my life around, I was actually upset that I was now a lightweight. Maybe it is something about being Australian and what we consider 'manly' but I was and to this day am now a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. I cannot do shots, I cannot sink 20 beers in an afternoon and while I can still skull a drink very quickly, I will pay the price for it.
When I was bigger was when I got married and obviously celebrated my bucks party. The story of my bucks is an absolute ripper. The short version is all the guys were putting shots of vodka in all my beers, my brother tried to warn me, I didn't listen and was asleep with my face in the kitty litter by 10pm. I famously rose from the ashes like a glorious phoenix and the night continued until about 6am the next day. Now for those playing at home, my brother got married a few weeks ago. I'm not saying we had a bucks party, but it is customary. Im also not saying that I helped organise and attended that bucks party but if I did I would have been determined to have an amazing night out with a top group of blokes and try and ensure the night was as good as my own.
Ok, lets drop the pretence, on my brothers bucks party, knowing full well that I am a lightweight I did everything I could to prepare. I am dead serious that I treated this like a race. I was upping my electrolytes, carbo loading and making sure I stayed well hydrated. But alas, old Tim made a reappearance and just like on my own bucks I was asleep (this time minus the kitty litter) by 10pm. I did manage to get myself together and continue on for the night but there was no 6 am effort. By 2am as hard as I tried, I was just too physically tired to continue and had to call it a night. I think it was the final straw.
It has taken me a long time to learn this lesson because quite frankly, I really do enjoy having a drink. But what I have learned is that I do not like to get drunk anymore. Being fit means I spend most of the time with a headache and the next day is never fun. Instead, I much rather enjoy just having a few drinks with dinner and that being the end of it. The problem I have is that because of how I used to be, I drink very quickly. So I have been working on ways to slow myself down. I train very hard and when I do have a big night I feel like I have taken a huge step backwards. This also isn't me making a cliche statement that I am never going to get drunk again. I inevitably will. But when I do know I have learned the hard way that I need to pace myself and not think I am a 125kg drinking machine. It is not something I ever expected to be an issue from my weight loss but when you think about it, it isn't that surprising.
I am a lightweight and I am not embarrassed about this anymore. I am much happier and content then before. While alcohol has never been an issue for me, I am very well aware of the role it played in turning me into what some people call "Fun Tim." Now I am working to show people I am still just as fun, just a hell of a lot more healthy! It goes back to one of the things I really believe in. If you want to change your lifestyle it means permanent, long lasting change. For me that has meant I rarely go to the pub anymore, I meet my friends for dinner or breakfast and I am a happier, healthier version of myself for doing so.
So I think I have finally learned a lesson, it only took me 7 years!
Hopefully it isn't raining too much where you are, everything is good in moderation and remember to TRI!
Straight away I need to say this is the hardest post I have ever written. I didn't even realise the direction this would go or how honest I was going to get until it happened. I hope you all get something out of it.
I’m back from an amazing 3 weeks of training, family and love in Thailand. I celebrated the marriage of my baby brother to the love of his life in what is without doubt, the most amazing wedding I have ever been to. We swung by Singapore for a sneaky trip to ensure an incredible time was had. The training in Phuket was the most and hardest I have ever experienced and I was so excited to see the way that my body reacted to it. On the last day I rode 150kms and with about 5km to go I was shocked by just how amazing I was feeling. I honestly have never felt so strong on a bike at the start of a ride so to feel that way at the end was an incredibly encouraging experience.
The trip was not without incident though. On my 3rd last day in Phuket about 80km into a 105km ride I was distracted on the bike and rode over a reflector. As a result I lost control of my bike and crashed into the middle of the major motorway that runs through the island of Phuket. I want to talk about my experience.
I think after riding for 8 days straight and averaging over 100km a day it is fair to say that my confidence was high. I had ridden many of the same roads multiple times and this particular stretch of road was one of the smoothest, widest and least concerning I had encountered. I was just passed by some of my friends and decided I would be social and turn off my iPod. I had been riding with my iPod on, listening to podcasts. I know this can be risky so to ensure I was still alert I always have my right earphone out of my ear and the volume reasonably low. This is to ensure I am able to hear traffic coming past me on the right. I had one hand off the handlebars while I hit the pause button and that is when I hit the reflector. My handlebars turned and if I had my hand on the handlebars properly I would have been able to regain control. Unfortunately I didn’t.
There was a moment I remember when I knew I was about to crash. I guess I accepted it but it is hard to know exactly what I did actually think at that moment versus what I think I thunk at that moment in time. I do not remember hitting the road, I do not remember sliding. I do remember sitting up (I landed on my back). This is when I felt the first truck go past. That is right. I did not hear it. I felt it. It was so close to me that I felt the vibrations run through my body. I then looked up and saw another truck coming straight at me. It noticed me and swerved. The trailer attached at the back began to jacknife (come out sideways) and was heading right for me. It skidded around me literally at the last second. I think it missed me by no more than 15cm. If nothing else this shocked me into action. I jumped up, grabbed my bike and ran off the road. Amazingly my bike was ok. The right shifter had been moved a bit but there wasn’t a single scratch on the bike. I sat down and tried to gather my thoughts.
The noises of the trucks braking and skidding made me scared I had caused a HUGE accident. A car had pulled over that I don’t remember seeing and the two trucks had slowed right down. I was relieved to see that they hadn’t crashed and in fact continued to drive. I saw my iPod ran over by a car (miraculously it still works.) I gave my body a check over and saw I had taken some skin of my elbow and my right knee was swollen already. I did what I could to get the shifter back into a decent position then insisted on getting back on my bike to make the last 20km home. Over the next few hours I realised that I had hurt my hip quite badly as it had swollen up quite badly and the road rash on my elbow was more significant than I had expected. But to be honest I could not believe just how lucky I was. It is literally the closest to death I have ever come.
Here’s the thing. I checked my heart rate when the accident happened the next day and when I crashed my bike my heart rate didn’t spike. Instead it dropped. When I sat in the middle of the motorway and looked up at that huge truck coming straight at me I didn’t panic. I was calm. Completely calm and the only thing I can think is that I accepted what was coming. I thought I was about to die and there was nothing I could do about it. That crushing realisation and helplessness is probably what scared me the most. You always hear about the fight or flight but this was the sit there and take it. The funny part is that this is a feeling I have felt before. Just in a completely different way.
As I am sure by now most of you are familiar with my weight loss. I lost a whole heap of weight after I completed my first ever triathlon. One of the most common questions I get asked about it is ‘was there a moment when I decided to make a change?’ The truth is there were many. But there was another moment that I do remember. The moment that I gave up.
Becoming overweight doesn’t happen quickly. I didn’t look in the mirror one day and not recognise myself. It creeps up on you. I’m not sure about other people but I convinced myself it wasn’t true. “It’s all good as long as you are under 85kg” “You are a big guy who lifts weights, it doesn’t matter as long as you are under 100kgs.” “So you need to buy bigger jeans, they were old anyway.” Your brain goes into self-defence and you don’t face what is happening to you. But there was a moment where I knew I was big and decided I wasn’t getting any smaller. I went though all of the clothes I had kept that “I was going to fit into one day” and threw them all out. I really think that was my rock bottom. I did it while Dez was out and to be honest I was in tears while I did it due to the overwhelming weight of hopelessness I felt. I gave up. I decided this is it, this is how I am and to be honest, this is what’s going to kill me. Even writing this here makes me physically upset. But I always try and be honest and this is me being honest.
So perhaps it isn’t just the fact that I literally came inches away from death on the road in Phuket (coincidentally it was the exact same spot I double punctured during the Thailand 70.3.) I think that half the reason I keep revisiting those moments when I close my eyes is because it reminded me of how I felt that day, sitting in my room by myself feeling completely helpless crying while I accepted my fate. Man there are literally tears in my eyes writing this. What is wrong with me!
But this is a happy story. I didn’t get hit by that truck just like I didn’t keep putting on weight and let it rule my life. I guess the main point I want to make is that no matter how helpless you feel, whether it is because of weight, or alchohol or any other thing which you think controls you, DO NOT GIVE UP. There is always hope and there is ALWAYS a way to overcome your struggles.
I could have vowed to stay off the bike but I am proud to say that I rode 150km the day after the crash and while going over bumps hurt, I finished that ride feeling stronger than I ever had on the bike before.
Keep two hands on the handlebars, never give up hope and remember to TRI!
I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.