Project Ironman – easier said than done.

The new year begun for me in much the same way as I suspect is the case for most of us – a severe case of post festive blues. It has been a case of getting back to the grindstone regarding training, nutrition and exam revision. I have certainly acquired a few bad habits of late; eating far too much sugar, forgetting to fill in my training diary and devoting a less than optimal amount of time to academic study. Just to name a few.

In order to motivate myself to get off the sofa and say no to those leftover festive treats, I decided to register for my first Half Ironman. Fortunately there is such an event taking place in September, a mere 45 minute drive from my front door. No excuses now.┬áIt was then that I realised the extent of the challenge that now lies ahead. I haven’t swum seriously for at least a decade and if previous experience is anything to go by I’ll have to be very careful with running volume so as not to injure myself. Time to hit the books.

I came across a very interesting volume called Born to Run. For anyone interested in running or simply endurance sport in general it is well worth a read. I was very intrigued by the argument it makes in favour of barefoot / minimal running. In short it mentions recent research that suggests humans have evolved to run and that modern, heavily padded running shoes serve as a hindrance and increase the risk of injury rather than reduce it. With a history of niggling running injuries I have decided to give it a go, ditching the unnecessary tech and going for a more minimal setup – once funds allow for the purchase of new shoes that is.

My go-to reference has been Going Long, written by Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn. Having gotten along very well with the training bible series and found the advice within to be helpful and reliable, it seemed like a sound choice. I’m still in the process of slowly digesting the information contained within, a proper training plan has yet to be drawn up. If only I could take in that which I am supposed to be revising for new year exams at a similar rate.

Yesterday I headed out for my first run in months. Two miles at a gentle pace, surely nothing could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately I failed to take into account my own general ineptitude, at the 1.5 mile mark I noticed a slight twinge in my left ankle. Thinking nothing of it I simply carried on, 24 hours later I am walking like C-3PO (i.e. hobbling) – my ankle is throbbing and my calves are seized. At this point, I’ll be lucky to get to the startline without having to resort to crutches.

To add insult to injury I have somehow managed to pick up a virus, after my disastrous run I attempted to head out for a ride. After all of of one kilometre I was forced to call it a day, sometimes the legs just say no – in this case my stomach was in agreement. I have had a headache ever since, as you might imagine this is not making the exam revision any easier.

Anyway, time to stop complaining and remember the positives. Hopefully my injury isn’t a long term thing and will clear up with some rest, the same going for whatever illness with which I am afflicted. From past experience I know that my legs will never be quite as painful as after that first run – things can (hopefully) only get better. An Ironman training plan will soon be formulated and it will be time to start for real, a most exciting if slightly scary prospect.

Until late April Cycling will still be my main focus, a race organised by my club will be a nice way to round off that particular chapter of my athletic career. Realistically Triathlon training will result in an decrease in prowess on the bike and as such I can’t expect to be as competitive in bike races. Time then for a last hurrah, nothing like a home race to really drive the motivation to the the highest level.

For now, I’ll leave it. A happy new year to all readers.

2 thoughts on “Project Ironman – easier said than done.

  1. Born to Run will work for some people but you have to completely start running all over again. That style of running fires muscles that simply aren’t used to being fired (the plantatis muscles, behind the calf muscles as an example). Also, that crap about running shoes is hoohah, but it sure sells a lot of books.

    The notion is just like your modern “carbon fiber bikes are no better that steel” silliness. Of course CF is better, but it makes for interesting discussion.

    Good luck, brother.

    1. Thanks – I will surely need it judging by this week! It’s something I’m willing to try simply because nothing else has ever worked, I’ve had the gait analysis, bought the expensive shoes, done the stretching etc and still managed to injure myself in much the same way as before. I do agree to a large extent, the Scientist in me is very skeptical, some of the stuff in the book is certainly out there. I’m planning on doing it as an experiment just to see if any of it holds true, might make for an interesting post somewhere down the line.

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