Thursday, January 23, 2020

Closing one chapter and opening the next

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As I sit here typing, I am growing increasingly frustrated with the knock-on effects of my bout of pneumonia at the start of December. While I no longer feel short of breath when sedentary, the moment I so much as look at a bike or pair of trainers my heart rate seems to skyrocket straight into an anaerobic state. Add to that almost constant neck and shoulder pain (I’m told a symptom of the damage/repair process going on in my lungs) and you can see why this Christmas hasn’t been quite so jolly.  To be honest, I feel fat and unfit. Basically, like I was four years ago before I got into this triathlon malarkey.

On the plus side, I think I am on the mend, so I’m just trying to find that fine balance between ‘stopping the rot’ in terms of losing any more fitness and doing enough without risking either prolonging the illness or indeed making it worse again.
Thankfully, I had not entered any early-season races, so if needs be I have a full five months until my first ‘real’ race of the season.  God willing, that will be long enough to get into decent enough shape to do myself justice at the Mallorca 70.3 in May.

Barring any last-minute mileage I squeeze in over the next few days, my training stats for 2012 stand at:

Swim:  279km, 93h 50m

Cycling: 7609km, 299h 55m

Run: 1972km, 160h 43m

Total: 9,877km, 595h 02m (inc gym etc)

Compared to my 2011 figures, that represents a 38% increase in swim time, a 14% increase in bike time, but a 6% reduction in run time.  I think the reduction in run time was due in part to the various knee injuries I’ve had and also the pneumonia in early December (my total training time for December 2012 looks likely to be around 25 hours, compared to 56 hours in 2011).

Looking forward
Before I talk about 2013, I want to say a big thank you to my 2011/12 sponsor, The Big Adventure Store in Swindon. Thoroughly nice guys and really supportive, I consider myself very lucky to have had them as a sponsor for the last two years, and I hope I played my part as an ambassador for them.

Moving forward into 2013, I knew a few months back that I wanted to shake things up.  That meant looking for a new challenge in terms of moving up to 70.3 distance racing and also being part of a new team.  To that extent, I am very pleased to announce that I have joined The Triathlon Shop race team for 2013.  The Triathlon Shop is a Bristol-based retailer of all things tri – swimming, cycling and running.  Coming off a successful first year in 2012 (with a number of team members joining me in Auckland for the world champs and one of our girls competing at Kona), I am sure the team will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013!

And of course it wouldn’t be a new year without new kit to play with.  To that end, I recently said a fond farewell to my 2011/12 Argon 18 E112 race bike frame.  It really was a fantastic bit of kit and you can now pick up the frame for a bargain price from TBAS in Swindon.

My 2013 steed will be another Argon 18 (perhaps you can tell I really like them…), this time a 2013 E116 time trial bike.  A short test has already confirmed it has tons of potential and I’m confident that by the time the race season comes we’ll have it dialed-in and it will be a PB-smashing machine (well, if the engine ever starts firing on all cylinders again!).

It’s all about the run
Another person I need to thank is Mark Shepherd.  Mark has been my coach for two years now and in that time I’ve made some significant improvements on both the bike and run.  Looking at the bike specifically, it was Mark that got me under the hour for a 25-mile Time Trial.  With my knee issues, we’ve had a frustrating time in terms of running in 2012 and, after posting a PB at both 5km and half-marathon distances early in 2012, I’ve struggled to repeat these performances since.  Something that I’m sure has frustrated us both.

I’m hoping to continue working with Mark in 2013 for bike work. I am confident that, with his guidance, I can improve my TT times even further and this in turn will provide the basis for good results over any triathlon distance.

However, in line with shaking things up for 2013, I will be working with a new run coach.  As coach to some serious athletes, it’s a real privilege for me to be taken under the wing of Dave Newport.  If Dave can get me anywhere near his average athlete over 5km, 10km and half-marathon, I will be seriously impressed. Even more impressed when you consider Dave trains all his athletes for free. It’s quite daunting joining a squad (squad being a very loose term, unfortunately distance means I will still be training alone a lot) where pretty much everyone else is faster than you. And some of them are a LOT faster!  Still, they say the best way to improve is to train with faster people.  Time to see if that holds true.
It’s a real bugger that just as we began working, I got my pneumonia, so the running has taken a massive hit in the last month.  I’m just hoping that we can get back to it ASAP, my motivation has never been higher, I just need my body to play ball. Pretty please…

So it’s a mix of frustration and excitement at the moment. Frustrated that the pneumonia hit just when I was feeling great about what lay ahead in 2013, but nonetheless still excited that 2013 really should be a good year.

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Matt Fisher runs - 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 two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs