Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Getting the train back on the tracks - and quitening those negative voices in my head

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So it's been two weeks since the joy of the Swashbuckler middle distance triathlon (see previous post for the full lowdown). The first week after the race was difficult, as I'd manage to somehow do some mischief to my left knee (the right one is usually the problem!) and my calves were knotted solid for a good three or four days after the race.

As such, I managed a grand total of two runs for the week after the race, totalling just 12KMs. Not ideal, but the calves were so sore that there really wasn't any other option.  I think I was basically just so heavy-footed for the full 14 miles at Swash (my legs and feet were so numb with cold for the first few miles, they didn't even feel my own) that I destroyed my legs way before my aerobic endurance.

Still, I managed a few swims and cycles and put a total of just over 13 hours training on the clock.

This week (just ending) has been far more balanced, with a return to running - albeit at far from optimal pace/condition. I did the Swindon parkrun yesterday and recorded what I think was my slowest time of the year, a pitiful 19:36 for the 5KM. That said, I'd done a couple of hard rides and swims in the week, so the legs were definitely tired by Saturday morning.

This weekend I also took advantage of the good weather to get back into the open water - and I'm pleased to say that unlike at Swash', this time there were no signs on hypothermia!

So as I type, I now have just under three weeks to go till the first of two attempts to qualify for the Age Group world champs in Auckland - Dambuster on 16th June (followed by Shropshire the next weekend).

The harsh reality is that I'm not ready. Put simply, 2012 hasn't gone to plan - too much time off with illness (mostly chest issues that date right back to Beijing last September), too much time focusing on aerobic conditioning with injury preventing me from pushing hard.  It's quite depressing to acknowledge that I've not done a single track running session this year.  I can't even remember the last time I did a proper intervals run.  It seems that every time I get myself ready to push hard, I break. 

And that's not just tough physically, it's bloody tough mentally.

I had a real low-point mentally in the parkrun yesterday.  Basically, I got to about 2.5km into the run and just thought 'f*ck this' and gave up.  I didn't give up physically, but I gave up mentally.  And that hurts to admit.

It has been a while since I had some NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) sessions with Kim Ingleby in Bristol, and it seems that whatever lessons I may have learned have escaped me recently.  Perhaps I need to go back for more sessions - or perhaps I need to try something new (I was never 100% convinced the NLP was 'working' for me).  More than anything else, I wish I could learn to quieten the negative thoughts I have when racing - but it's something I've never managed to master.  It's like I know that I have more to give physically, but my mind won't let me.  I'm not articulating this very well, but it's a massive frustration and one I just wish I knew how to address.  If someone could just reach inside my head and flick whatever switch it is that controls positivity, that would be great, thanks!

Back to the job at hand. After some serious chats, it seems that my coach and I have agreed on something of an all-or-nothing strategy for Dambuster and Shropshire.  There is a risk it could go spectacularly wrong, but I think the greater risk is being too cautious and just not being in top form on race day.  I'd rather break in training than turn up at the race and perform at a level that's below what's required to qualify, if that makes any sense...

So I'm expecting a tough few weeks ahead.  But I'm also going to focus on using each and every session to not only condition my body for the rigours of racing, but also my mind.

In the meantime, I really would love to hear from people who have discovered effective ways to combat those negative 'inner voices' that can cause havoc with your head in racing and training. I really am open to all ideas at this stage!

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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


  • Phillip Freeman Sunday, 03 June 2012

    Isn't it clear your suffering from overtraining?
    Low motivation, repeat chest infections, poorer than expected performance.
    Personally as a doctor and triathlete I think you need more emphasis on recovery... I'd love to see your training schedule.
    Good luck mate
    See you in Shropshire, I'll be behind you!


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