Is it an Addiction?
So this time next week I will have completed my biggest race of the year. I started training with my coach Ben Hammond at the beginning of February and right from day 1 this was the race we were working towards. I realised last week when I was talking with a friend that in 2014 I have completed 5 triathlons (3x70.3, 1xOD & 1xSprint) as well as a 10km run and a half marathon. At every race this year I have set a new PB. I literally have PB'd every single race in 2014 and the final big race for the year is the one I want to PB. So needless to say, I am really really nervous. Not nervous because there is anyone in particular that I want to beat, except for you Robert Woolley! I am calling you out buddy! I am nervous because I have put this amount of pressure on myself and because I have such high expectations of myself. I have been on break from uni for a week now and I am finding it very hard to relax. I assume this has to do with the race. But I guess you will all find out when I am writing my race report next Sunday after the big day.
What I thought I would write about this week is something that probably isn't very popular amongst endurance athletes, especially people like myself who have gone through a significant physical change. I sometimes wonder, am I addicted to exercise? I have always been very open with saying to people that I know I have some mental issues to work through was a result of my huge lifestyle change. Nothing too serious but I know I can be critical of my body even though people tell me I am skinny or I get a bit depressed if I eat something I know I shouldn't. But nothing puts me in a worse mood than not working out. If you are a triathlete or endurance athlete and you are reading this you will probably agree with me that the worst part of the process is the evil word that begins with 'T'.
Immediately prior to a race it is normal to back off the work and rest your body. This is called tapering and I hate it. I feel fat, tired, lazy and useless. It is psychologically just as hard to get through as any hard session and can make you very difficult to live with. So what does this have to do with addiction? Well, even when I am not tapering if I cannot manage to fit in a workout for whatever reason, it puts me in a bad mood. Even on days when I declare to the world "Today I am doing no exercise" I am usually told by my wife to get out and go for a run. I see this with some of my fellow endurance athlete friends too. As a group of people we tend to do things to the extreme. We are of a particular mindset. We push the limits.
But working out is good for you right? If we have to talk about addictions I would think that an addiction to exercise is much better than an addiction to drugs or food or alcohol but it can be just as dangerous. I am not going to hop on my pedestal and start telling you all that I know all about it. But I do know that sometimes I do push myself to a point that I am not entirely comfortable with. Like anything too much exercise can be bad for you. One suggestion I would make to help regulate this is to hire a coach. I know that before I had a coach I was constantly increasing the volume of work I was doing. I thought more training means bigger improvements and once I started with Ben I remember thinking "He doesn't know what I can handle, this is too easy". I decided that if I was going to pay a coach I was going to have faith in him. I religiously follow his training plans (I honestly think I complete well over 95% of what he sets me) and as I said, I have literally PB'd every race I have done since I started with him.
So what to look for in a coach. For some of us, paying for a coach is a significant investment and you need to make sure you get the right match. Some people will want a coach who will watch them train, some will be happy with someone who tells them what to do. Everyone is different. What I think is the most important thing with a coach is that you have to trust them. If you are questioning everything they set you it will not work. If you are someone who needs a lot of attention then an online coach might not work. But once you find that match you will train smarter, reduce the risk of addiction and overtraining and hopefully see some amazing progress.
Only because I am a proud member I wanted to throw in a plug for my global tri team MaccaX. They now have a range of online training programs and coaches which could be exactly what you need to take your training to the next level. I have included a link to it here
If you have any questions about this feel free to leave them in the comments or send me a question on the contact section.
As always, good luck with your training! To all of you bastards in Thailand on the MaccaX camp, I hate you all and I am super jealous. Have a blast and everyone remember to TRI!
Performance Vs Weight-Loss Training
So a week after my last race and I find myself 2 weeks out from my biggest race of the year but I figure that last weeks post was very triathlon so this week I would talk a bit more about weight-loss training. Again my apologise about the delay with the blog but I was in rural Victoria on the weekend for an amazing wedding where I regret to admit I drank a little (or a lot) too much. It was great fun and I got to see the legendary town of Morwell which I have heard so much about and I even got to see the Hazlewood Pondage where there is a great local race held every year.
Being a bit stiff and sore last week I thought it could be the perfect opportunity for me to try and drop a few kgs to get me down to race weight before Western Sydney. It has been a long time since I have done any weight loss specific training and I was surprised at how different I found it compared to my normal weekly training. Now I feel the need to say here that I am not saying that triathlon training is not going to make you loose weight or anything like that. I simply mean that I started to do the same sort of sessions I did back when I first started loosing weight in 2011.
So what sort of sessions are we talking about? I understand that there are many different opinions about what is the best way to loose weight and I am sure that some of you who are reading this who are better educated and qualified than me will have different opinions as well. But for me, I spend lots of time doing low intensity cardio work. Normally 60 - 75 minutes on a X-Trainer with a pretty high intensity but a moderate speed followed by another 40-60 minutes on a bike. I used to do some good resistance training at the start of my sessions but being this close to a race I didn't want to risk too much muscle pain or do anything to different to what I normally do.
So what are the differences I noticed? When I am in a decent bloke of tri training, especially over the last few weeks, the intensity is a lot higher. It is the sort of training I am quite happy to do by myself because I either want to scream or vomit most of the time. Well in comparison this low intensity stuff I did last week was kinda nice. I downloaded a great audiobook version of "Im Here to Win" by Chris McCormack and just listened to it while I trained. I find that the time flew by and I wanted to extend my workouts a little longer to keep listening to the book. I find that a good strategy to maintain workouts. You listen to a really good audiobook and only listen when you are training. If it is a good book you will be hanging to get back to the gym just so you can find out what happens. But I have gone off topic.
In a nutshell, I am often shocking my body by doing a variation of a set or adding something to make it longer or harder. To shock my body by making the session easier was a really nice change. I felt like I managed to recover from Forster a lot better and have been able to loose a bit of weight in the process. Anyway this weeks blog is looking long enough. As I said its two weeks until Western Sydney and I am keen to get to the start line. It was great to see some of my friends achieving some great results over the weekend including Craig, Andrew and Shannon at Challenge Shepparton and the kiwi legend Mike 'Robo' Robinson at a tri New Zealand.
To anyone else racing Western Sydney good luck with your last two weeks. Don't get sick or do anything silly. Just get to the start in one piece.
Have a great week and remember to TRI!
My First Race Report for the Site
Happy Sunday everyone! What did you get up to? Me? I did my 9th yes that's right my 9th 70.3 distance race! How'd it go I imagine you all asking through my powers of ESP. Well considering it was more of a training day pretty well. I did a new PB with 4:31!!! To make it even better I beat my mate, the same guy who got me into triathlon in the first place for the first time by the huge margin of 11 seconds (and he ran the 2nd fastest run split of the day out of EVERYONE). The race was Challenge Forster which is run by Elite Energy and Forster is the original site of IronMan Australia before it relocated to Port Macquarie. Firstly, this event was pretty poorly organised with issues with gear bags and different transitions but to give the perfect example, the pro's had to swim through the age groupers swimming out to their start to get to the swim exit (not to mention the fact that the first group of pro's could not even tell where the swim exit was). But look it is a great race so I will break down my race.
I really did not expect much from this race. This has been another big week of training for me. On Thursday I did my main speed set which is 800's and this week it was 16 of them averaging about 2:55 for the 800 metres. Throw in the big Administrative Law exam I had on Friday and the two exams I have next week. My mind has been on other things. Still I rocked up today not expecting anything.
Wetsuit swim - Water was salty and warm and because it was an inlet there were no waves or currents. I was in the last age group to start and it was a 2 lap swim course (for what reason I can only imagine) and I went out real hard. Throughout the swim I was really overtaking a lot of people and only had one prick try to get a bit physical. But with Macca's words of wisdom in my ears "Don't be a victim" a solid kick to his body seemed to get rid of him. The sun made sighting almost impossible but I was feeling strong. I came out of the water. 22:56 ( I am going to check my Garmin to see how long the swim actually was because that is super fast)
Transition was one of those things that was more complicated than it had to be and was located on a field covered in bindis (little things that hurt when you step on them and can give you a flat tyre). We had to put all our swim stuff in a bag. Got it done and carried my bike out of transition to avoid any nasty little passengers. 1:56
The bike, god the bike... I love the bike. It is my strongest leg and I normally fly. Not today. The road surfaces in Forster were horrible. I felt like I was sitting on a jackhammer the whole time and my forearms have got marks on the from where they rested on my aero bars. It was also quite windy and it always felt like a headwind but never a tailwind and no, I am not being a melodramatic cyclist. There was also some serious packs riding well within the 12m draft zone. I yelled at some technical officials after I got passed by one who then proceeded to slow down after passing me. There were so many officials out there but they didn't seem interested in the packs. I am sorry but it is cheating. It is a non-drafting race and if you can't do it solo find another sport. Sorry, I ranted a little. Anyway the bike was a hard slog and I came in with a 2:29:28 and that is well below what I am capable of.
T2 was surprisingly well organised and I flew in. Again, there were bindis on the field but my feet were numb. 1:11
The run. I knew straight away it would be hard. My legs felt heavy and tight straight away (those 800's caught up with me). I battled through and was happy to see I did my best ever run split. The run course is AMAZING. It really made finishing the race more enjoyable and the support was amazing. I really found the run course easy to deal with mentally, it never felt like to far to run for each lap and you got to run past the finish line 6 times which was a real boost. 1:35:52
Overall I am stoked with my result. It has given me a lot of confidence going into Western Sydney 70.3 that I can finally crack the 4:30 barrier. The organisation and road surfaces definitely let it down but I have done many other Elite Energy races and they are usually stellar. The pro field was strong and there were some seriously impressive results out there. Anyway I am tired and this is long enough so have a good week everyone. Next week's entry will come to you on Monday because I am in Victoria for a wedding.
As always a massive shout out to my Super-Coach Ben Hammond and all the MaccaX guys who keep me motivated and support me!
Happy training, have fun and remember to TRI!
Apologies for being a day late this week but I have been up on the Gold Coast for one of my mates bucks party weekends.
Now that I have started to write this blog I am spending a lot of my time about things to write about. I usually want to focus these blogs on the questions that I most often get asked or things that I see that I think could be done differently. This week I wrote an article for Triathlon 220 Magazine about my weight-loss journey and my triathlon etc. When I was writing it I realised that a lot of people ask me "what is the secret?" the secret to weight loss, the secret to getting faster all that sort of stuff. So the question is, is there a secret to go from fat to fast?
In my opinion there is no "secret". I get really annoyed when I see how people prey on the vulnerability of people. Promoting a blender as a weight loss secret or some new tablet that will help you lose weight (with fine print saying “with a combination of exercise and healthy eating”). The point is that there really is no secret to losing weight and then getting faster. There are no short cuts either there is hard work.
So what would I say are things that make it easier to lose weight? Well me being the brilliant linguist that I am have come up with another S that can maintain my brilliant FAT>FAST little thing I have going one here. That S is support. One of the reasons I was able to lose weight so effectively and am now becoming a faster athlete is because the people around me support me. My amazing wife has been through this incredible journey the whole way and in a blatant attempt to earn brownie points (as I know she is one of the only people reading this) she is part of the reason why my ordinary life is extraordinary.
Every time I came up with a new complex healthy recipe or had a mechanical issue (like a snapped chain 50kms from home) she would help without complaint. These days as I spend more and more time training, she supports the time I put into my training and is even starting to do some training with me. I understand that not everyone has a spouse or someone who can perform this role, but it doesn't have to be a partner or wife. Why not a friend, colleague or someone else trying to make some serious changes to their lifestyle? Now I promise this isn't a blatant plug for my training but I think as a trainer of people trying to lose weight, support is the most important function. If it means checking everyday whether they have been active or tell them to take a day off because they are fatigued. By letting them know that I believe they can do it I hope it makes it easier. At the end of the day, it helped me and I think it worked out pretty well.
Next weekend I am racing Challenge Forster (a 70.3 race). It will most likely be a hard training day with only 4 weeks to Western Sydney 70.3. I am looking forward to seeing how I run off the bike and also want to tray and maintain a sub 30min swim. So stay tuned for my action packed race report next week.
Until then, happy training 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.