I’m writing this at the end of week two, and, for reasons that should become apparent, week one seems a long long time ago. I embarked upon my 19 week training plan with a slight sense of dread, and a real fear that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. My usual week tends to involve a swim and a run or two, and maybe a cycle at the weekend if I can’t find anything better to do (which I usually can). So how was I going to fit in three runs, three swims and three cycles?
I quickly realised that I’m more likely to stick to the training plan if it fits in with what I would have been doing anyway, and if I can minimise the amount of time it eats up. My solution to this was to double-up sessions where possible (e.g., going for a run before my usual Monday swim) and replacing my usual commute (by rugged worn-out mountain bike) with running or road-bike cycling (and adding a few miles as the training plan required). Also I planned to make use of my exceptionally handy place of work – a stone’s throw from the athlete’s playground that is Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park – and my flexible work schedule as an opportunity to get active at lunch.
Even so, as the week went on it felt like my life had been hijacked. I was struggling to get done the other things I needed to do. My cat was grumpy as she understandably felt unloved, and I felt bad about that. I also got really tired by the end of the week, which reminded me that I needed to start slow and build up the distance gradually. It was obviously going to be a shock to the system given the amount of ‘training’ that my body had been used to previously.
The fact that training for an endurance event is not like training for a shorter triathlon has also begun to sink in. I’ve purchased a Polar heart rate monitor to see if my training is in the right zone. (It already amazes me that I’m talking seriously about heart rate zones, and even training – until now these have been alien concepts to me: reserved for the serious single-minded and insanely-driven athlete – the people I look up to in awe, before turning back to my pint and packet of crisps). Apparently I need to be working in the aerobic heart-rate zone – approx 133 to 143 for someone of my age – because this is the most sustainable level to keep up throughout an endurance event. Higher levels of effort will mean burning out. And the primary aim of this training is TO FINISH THE RACE. (My second aim is to not walk during the run, and the third aim is to enjoy the event… but those are minimal considerations for me right now: it’s all about ensuring that I can just cross the finish line).
But I got close to ticking off every separate activity on week one of my plan. (Ticking things off is a great part of training, I’ve found!). On the Saturday – April the 13th, my little sister’s birthday – I woke to find a beautiful Edinburgh morning, considerably warmer than previous weeks, and I headed out on Doreen the bike into East Lothian. Perhaps it was the weather, or the thought of nearly having completed week one, but either way it was a great feeling. The rest of that cycle needs a separate blog post, so I’ll prematurely finish up week one here. Bye for now!