One small step at a time……
So it appears that most blogs I have read in the past few days are either about the last year or the coming year – thoughts, achievements, aspirations etc. All very thought inspiring stuff and very interesting to read but as way of doing something a little different myself, I thought I would reflect back on the little steps that I’ve taken over the last couple years to get me to where I am today in terms of my triathlon achievements and ambitions.
These are the 10 most important steps that have got me to where I am today (in triathlon terms not all my life) – many, many more small steps are still to be taken, but life is an on ongoing project and you have to the enjoy it one day at a time without trying to jump to complete your goals too quickly
Step 1 – Move 300 miles away from home to start a new life ‘Down South’
Back in 2011 I decided to change jobs and move down south to have a new life away from the NE and to be with my then partner, who was from the London area. With this move I joined a new gym and I decided it would be a good idea to mix up my usual gym based routine with attempting to swim. A couple of months of doggy paddle and weird ‘head above the water’ breast stroke later I decided this wasn’t going anywhere fast.
Step 2 – Sink or swim
By way of giving myself a reason to learn to swim, I booked onto a woman’s only triathlon with my good mate Lisa. I booked 3 swim lesson at my local gym, which gave me enough confidence to put my head underwater and start to do something resembling front crawl. I managed to get around the 400m swim on the triathlon half as FC and half as doggy paddle/ breast stroke. This was a massive achievement for me, and both Lisa and I were over the moon at completing our first triathlon together. A day I will never forget, the emotion of crossing the crossing the fish line with our hands held together up high, a personal and joint Triumph for us both.
Step 3 – Join a Tri club
Immediately after crossing the finish line with my friend – I knew | had to do more of this Triathlon thing! I got home and started looking up triathlon clubs. That’s when I found out about Shires Triers and joined them for help and advice (http://www.shirestriers.co.uk). Through this club I have met some amazing people and the majority of my friends down in the South of the country I have met through the club – some of which I now class as my closest circle of friends.
Step 4 – Lose weight, get Healthy
Some of my new friends from the triathlon club had been commenting on getting leaner and losing weight by using a nutritionist’s advice. I wanted to know more about who this ‘Sally’ was and what the plan involved, so I asked about the plan and emailed Sally myself to register. Sally runs a business called Fitnaturally, the whole ethos of Fitnaturally is built on the foundations of eating delicious, natural foods and using the natural environment for training and exercise (http://www.fitnaturally.co.uk)
Through using Sal’s plans and advice I managed to lose a whopping 2 stone and shave off 9% body fat, I truly believe this weight loss is responsible for a lot of the extra speed I gained in running and cycling over the last 2 years.
The Before and After results from FitNaturally
Step 5 – First ‘Races’
In Spring of 2012 I entered the local RAF Halton Sprint triathlon. This was a pool based swim with an open road cycle and mainly off road/trail but flat run around the base of RAF Halton. This was to be the first triathlon I had ‘raced’ because during my first ladies only tri, me and my friend waited for each other after the swim and then cycled and ran together as a pair, back then we we wanted to simply survive a triathlon regardless of time. Admittedly the Halton event was a very small local event and not a ‘high calibre athlete’ event, but I was over the moon with winning a £50 voucher as 3rd female and being 1st in my AG. In 2012 I also competed in my first Olympic distance races and a road marathon – in all of which I was very proud of my achievements and times.
My first (and only so far) triathlon prize – £50!
Step 6 – Go Long…..
Most of the people in my Tri Club have done, or plan to do Ironman distance races, so it was only a matter of time before this rubbed off on me, so having completed 2 Sprints and 2 Olympic distances in 2012 I decided 2013 would be the year to go long! I entered Wimbleball Ironman70.3 with a promise to myself that if I got around it relatively unscathed, I would go full distance and book Ironman Austria for 2014. A few weeks before doing Wimbleball, I won a competition by Sport Pursuit (http://www.sportpursuit.com), where the prize was a place at IMUK! This kind of threw a spanner in the works as it meant I couldn’t ‘race’ Wimbleball full out, as It wouldn’t give me time to taper enough for IMUK. So at this point I enlisted the help of a coach and he recommended using Wimbleball as a long training day and practice for IMUK. I successfully got around Wimbleball – although it hurt and I’ve promised to go back another year as I can say for sure that Wimbleball got the better of me that day; so I owe that race an ass kicking when I’m faster! None the less, I came 12th in AG and was 56th female, which I was quite pleased with for my first long race. A few weeks later came IMUK; I was really looking forward to this as it gave me a practice at full IM distance before doing Austria next year in 2014. Again, I got around the race, learnt many, many valuable lessons that day and am still very proud of myself when i think about crossing the finish line.
IM UK finish line picture
I am fortunate enough to have this memory filmed by Sport pursuit so I never forget that crossing the finish line feeling. I again came 12th in my AG and was 44th female so was very pleased with my performance that day.
Step 7 – Get a coach
So as mentioned in step 6, I decided that if I didn’t have someone structuring my training and looking over me and guiding me, I was en-route to blowing up! My training ethos had previously just been the more hours, the better! No structure, some hill reps but limited interval work and definitely not enough rest; one of the more experienced guys at my club is a qualified coach and has done many Ironmans himself. He had previously given me some advice for my first marathon so he was an obvious choice and kindly agreed to be my coach. I trusted him 100% and he helped me get PBs and massive technical improvements in all 3 disciplines. I am very appreciative of the help and support and he gives me and respect him for the knowledge imparts on me.
Step 8 – Race, Rest and Recover
An important part of what my coach (Musty) has taught me is that recovery and rest are crucially important to endurance training. I now have a rest day almost every week and having had some injuries coming out of the 2013 race season, I now know that sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pull out of races if you don’t feel in perfect health. Aiding my rest and recovery now is also a great sports masseuse and physiotherapist – Claire Doherty, MD of back on track physio. She sponsors me by providing regular spots massage and advice. (http://backontrack-physio.co.uk)
A much needed treatment from Claire
Step 9 – Enjoy the off-season
Like everything in life – ‘all work and no play, makes Allie a very dull girl’.
YES, to get faster you have to work hard, and YES this involves a lot of hours of training, but NO – you don’t have to beast yourself for 12 months of the year, and NO – you don’t have brag about how many hours training you’ve done a week, how hard you ‘smashed yourself today’ and how many miles you ‘thrashed’ out on the turbo….. there is a balance to life and there is enough time to brag about your mileage and how much you can punish yourself once into pre-race season. Why not get some base training in and enjoy the lies in, spending more time with friends and family (or in my case Will and the dogs). There seem to be too many people afraid to have a drink or a mince pie (or 6) over the festive period because it might affect their performance in 6 months time. It might, but its very unlikely to, and each to their own, but I actually want to have a life outside of work and triathlon too – at least for a few months of the year ;o)
We all know a ‘Jack’
Step 10 – Be thankful
Finally and perhaps most importantly, be thankful; not just for what you have within your triathlon life, but also outside of it. Within Triathlon, I’ve ben very fortunate to pick up sponsorship this year from the following companies;
Advanced TRI Fuel http://advancedtrifuel.com
Azione carbon cycles http://www.azione.cc/
Back on Track Physio http://backontrack-physio.co.uk
Sports Pursuit http://www.sportpursuit.com
One more to be announced later in January…
Aside from these companies who are kindly helping me through 2014, I am truly thankful for the friends and family that support me and put up with my moods and tiredness when training and general anti-social nature during race season. It is your friends and family that are most important in life – if I were to decide to stop Tri tomorrow, they would be still be there for me tomorrow and fill the huge void that would be left if I didn’t train and race.
So here’s to a Happy New Year to one and all – put the negatives behind you, take the positives with you and aim to have the best year that YOU can. It’s your year and your life, aim to be the best person you can be in whatever way is important to you.
Here comes 2014 – its all about being faster than 2013……..