Tuesday, October 24, 2017

2016: The year that never was

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Well, under my own definition, I can no longer call myself a triathlete.  It’s quite sobering.  For what it’s worth, my definition of a ‘triathlete’ is someone who has completed a triathlon, of any distance, in the last 12 months.

That’s not me.

 

Having made a deliberate decision this year, due to work and family commitments, to leave my season till a little later than usual, I subsequently got caught up in a crash at the Cotswold 113 middle-distance race in late August.  Despite hitting the ground hard while doing upwards of 40kph, I managed to get back on the bike and still finish the bike leg in a respectable time.  But the moment I dismounted I knew it was game over.

The problem was, Cotswold 113 was meant to be my dress rehearsal for Weymouth 70.3 in September.

I never made it to the start line.  With shoulder and hip injuries that didn’t heal in time, I knew it wouldn’t be worth even toeing the line.

And so there we have it. A full year of training ‘wasted’ and (so far) no Ironman 70.3 world champs slot for me in 2017.

In hindsight, the decision to leave racing so late in the season was probably a mistake.  I should have picked a couple of local short-course races at least to get the body in the habit of racing.  It likely wouldn’t have changed the incident at Cotswold 113, but at least I could say that I’m still a triathlete!

Work, work, work

It’s fair to say work is dominating my life at the moment. While in 2015 I could usually bank a minimum of 10 hours training per week, in 2016 that has dropped to 7-8 (when not injured!), mostly due to constant work trips to Europe, US and even further afield.

It's certainly a challenge to try to adapt your training to less volume and become smarter about how you use the available time and what you have at your disposal wherever in the world you happen to be at any given time.

Spin baby spin

Having been suffering with foot pain for a month or so (I hesitate to call it plantar fasciitis, it hasn’t been officially diagnosed as such), I haven’t run since a work trip to Australia in late October (and I wasn’t letting a sore heel stop me running on the beautiful Australian Gold Coast).  Thankfully, I have discovered the LOVE Cycling studio in Austin and visit there to receive pain and humiliation most days I happen to visit.  Pain in that, as with all spin classes, you make it as difficult as you want to. Humiliation in that I’m normally one of just a small minority of blokes in there at 7am and I emerge a dripping sweaty mess while the 20-something fitness waifs hardly seem to have broken sweat!  I swear my bike is ‘heavier’…

Orchestrated drowning

After my failure to toe the line at Weymouth, I took four weeks or more off swimming, more to do with work and travel than a conscious decision.  But I’ve started to force myself back into the pool and God is it hard work.  Reps that used to be comfortably done in 1:25 now seem to take 1:33 for the same effort.  A good reminder that swim is probably the first sport to ‘go’ when you take a break from training.  Thinking I might need a clinic or 1:1 to remind me what good technique looks and feels like!

Winter miles

Last year, I enjoyed the winter break from triathlon by competing in the Wessex Cyclocross league.  This year, thanks to work, out of six or seven rounds so far I’ve managed to compete in two.  And in one of those I punctured on the last lap and had my first ever DNF.  It’s really not my year!

Getting back on track

The priority has to be to fix my foot.  It’s still painful, despite icing, rolling and stretching.  It’s difficult to know whether the fact the pain came on after the bike crash is coincidence or whether smacking my hip onto the floor at nearly 30mph (the ‘sore foot’ is not the one that hit the floor) has perhaps caused an alignment issue which indirectly is causing the foot issue. Answers on a postcard please!

I’m not ready to turn my back on triathlon yet, but I do need to get smarter about how I approach it – training, resting and eating in particular.

My work travel schedule isn’t likely to change, so those three things need to instead.

As for 2017, I’d still like to have a go at qualifying for the IM 70.3 world champs for the third time, but it’s a big ask given my current fitness level.  But with a positive attitude and the right training, who knows what is possible.  It’s worth a shot.

I do have to say a rather embarrassed but heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone that has supported me in 2016.  I feel crap that I couldn’t deliver the results both you and I hoped for.  And that’s a big part of why I’m determined not to give up and to come back stronger (and wiser) in 2017.

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Matt Fisher runs TriathletesDiary.com - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a 2014 qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs

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