Ch. 16 – Training, and the build to Tri Camp. Mallorca 2019 – January

For the sixteenth chapter in my blog “Fatman to Ironman” I will describe how I had now begun to train and build towards my first ever triathlon training camp “Mallorca 2019” For this chapter I describe the ups and downs of January.

As you have read in Ch. 15 – Shaping my 2019 training and race season off the back of a “Santa Swim” I had sorted out my race season and now had a really big target to train for. I was fully committed to Mallorca and couldn’t wait to get back into training.

New Years Eve

2019 was fast approaching as the clock ticked away. I wasn’t interested in waiting up to see the fireworks, or Big Ben chime. I was looking beyond that moment, I was looking forward to my journey evolving in 2019 and how I would feel standing on the side of Chasewater reservoir in Staffordshire, for my first ever Ironman event!

New years day for most people is all about a hangover or a lie in, perhaps followed by a full-English breakfast and a day in front of the TV, watching westerns. I used to fit into that category and would cheerfully sit on the sofa moaning and groaning. Not this year! This year was going to be different. I was determined to get myself in the best possible shape for Mallorca. I would be training from day 1 of 2019, I was excited.

I have never been a fan of staying up past midnight on New Years eve, so that side of things wasn’t a problem. I was in bed at 2130 hrs and had a great nights sleep. I knew the following days training was going to be tough, and I needed to be ready.

New Years Blast

It’s the afternoon of January the 1st 2019 and I am heading off to my “Pain Cave” Formerly known as my “Man cave”. Its a cold winters day and I am turning the heating on ready for the session, in an hours time. The afternoon light is dwindling as I wander back in doors to change into my cycling gear – It’s Turbo Time!

Turbo Time

I have become very fond of the Turbo. For most, it is a love hate relationship. I have quickly begun to realise that a turbo session is one session you can always fit in. Regardless of the weather.

Todays session was described as aerobic with efforts. The efforts would be just shy of max, 9/10 on the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale. So after a Z2 (Zone 2/Heart rate) warm up for ten minutes I was off! 5x 10 seconds hard/50 seconds easy. I got through this interval relatively easy and enjoyed 2 minutes back in Z2. My Garmin watch has been an absolute game changer for this type of training.

Then suddenly boom 10x 30 seconds 9/10 with 30 seconds easy. Wow that was a toughie… I was sweating like a Royal Marine in a maths test, as I recovered in Z2 for 5 minutes. I would repeat the cycle and cool down for 5 minutes at the end.

The term cool down would usually have been quite easy. My heater barely takes the edge off a cold winters day, but I was hot, really hot and really sweaty. I laughed as I saw steam rising off my head in the second phase of this training.

Sweating in the “Pain cave”

The whir of the Turbo and the rising steam, whilst listening to a podcast in my pain cave. Thats how I do New Years Day now. BOOM

I would set 6 peak performances for that session, my Training peaks account was going to look good! Not a bad way to start off the year.

Tri Club

I would be back in the pool on Thursday 3rd January 2019 having enjoyed a rest day. My Tri club (STAR) were also delivering aerobic sessions, as we all built our aerobic base for the upcoming race season. I swam a mile that night in around 40 minutes, and thought nothing of it. It was an easy swim compared with the Santa swims in the two weeks previous.

As I sat in my car at the end of that session, I reflected on how far I had come. Amused by how ridiculous I had been in my early days of swimming.


The gym was going to be key going forward into 2019. My coach Billy (TriForce) and I had chatted at great length about this prior to Christmas. You will have read about this in Ch. 14 – The gym, with a purpose. However, I was now beginning to feel like I knew what I was doing and was beginning to notice some gains.

Cross trainer & Heart rate

I would do a ten minute warm up on the Cross Trainer (Something I had hated in the past) and would feel good as I got off. I went at a fair lick and really got a sweat on. I might have looked like I had been In the gym for an hour as I entered the room put aside for potentiation. I really was hitting 2019, and I was feeling great.

By the time I got to the circuits, after about 45 minutes on the weights and presses etc. I was spent. I now had 15 minutes of heel drops in which I could people watch all the different personalities that populate a gym.

For the first time in my life I actually felt like I belonged in the gym, as opposed to being some kind of imposter. It was Friday 4th January 2019 and I was 41. I had bagged another 5 peak performances for my training peaks account, and I was excited about the weekends training.

The weekends training

IMG_0268Saturday would see my second 90 minutes session on the turbo. It was an aerobic session where I had to fit in 10 x 30 seconds hard at any point. I had chosen to do this every 10 minutes to break up the ride. I would fit in a few closer efforts toward the end and have a fifteen minute cool down. I had done a similar session the week previous and knew what was in store.

I went through the ritual of turning on the heater, changing into my cycling gear and preparing my hydration. In went the headphones, as I tuned into my current podcast of choice.

I would be in a different zone for the next 90 minutes. Miles away from the pressures of life. I loved the feeling of exercising, and how you completely exorcize your demons. The reward of a good training session is immeasurable. In that moment you are untouchable.

At the end of a good session there is an instant high as you know you have smashed it. I received 6 peak performances in my Training Peaks account, and knew it was going to be a great weekend.

Sunday saw me back in the pool and swimming just shy of 2k in 47 minutes. I had the option of going for a 30 minute run/walk but canned that and opted for a swim. I was pretty chuffed with my week of training. I didn’t want to balls anything up by running too soon. My Achilles injury was settled but only very recently, and I was paranoid. The running could wait.

The Santa swim challenge had done wonders for me. I was becoming very confident with my swim and found I could relax into the rhythm quite quickly. I knew I needed to be swimming 2k consistently and knew having recently swam 3k that I would be fine with the goals being set for me, by my coach.

There would be no peak performances for training peaks that night, but I didn’t care about that. This time last year I was barely able to swim a length.

Week two – January 2019

I would take a well earned rest day on Monday, and researched the world of “Calories in and calories out” I wasn’t on a diet, but I needed to be smart with what I was eating. I was burning a lot of calories. I would download “MyFitnessPal” from Under Armourer and link it to my Training Peaks account. Now everyone knew what I was up to.

Tuesday 8th January was Gym day. I was so excited to be going straight from work and into the gym. I was in and out of the changing room and quickly smashing out a twenty minute Cross Training session to warm up. Now I was sweating more than ever, the “Royal Marine in a maths test” was back! 8 Peak performances for that, and off I went dripping, into the potentiation room.

I would breeze from one machine to the next in the gym that night, pleased with the weekly gains, and increased weights I was pressing or lifting. I didn’t need the help of diagrams I had downloaded, and I was becoming familiar with the varied sessions. The circuits at then end left me near broken, as I expended every last drop of energy before my drive home.

I was now training smart, eating smart, and hydrating well. I felt on top of the world as the fears of hitting “Enter” were well in the past. I was full of confidence about my A race. I was loving training, and loving life.

The rise and fall of an athlete

Wednesday 9th January saw the rise and fall of an athlete. I had recently began to brick a swim and bike session into my Wednesdays. A “beasting”, and one which I loved.

I approached the session like all the others for the new year. Full of positivity and good preparation and planning. I had an awesome swim and felt strong throughout. The swim was aerobic with some strong efforts, and finishing just shy of 2k I was content with my effort. I got to the Wattbike and set about tuning in to my podcast. I felt really good as I got into my shoes and laid out my towel. By now I was very familiar with the ideal height setting for the bike, before long I was into a rhythm. This session was focussed around cadence and I was determined to finish on a high.

The Wattbike would see me in HR Z2 and 3 throughout the session and the cadence was maintained at 90+/100+ it wasn’t a particularly difficult session but nonetheless I was sweating buckets. This is the norm for me on these machines and I was prepared for it. Drinking electrolyte based fluids regularly.

The end of the session came at 58 minutes (10 minutes short of the planned time) up to this point everything had gone very well. I had to stop because I was beginning to feel the very early signs of cramping in my calf muscles. I knew I needed to get off the bike quickly before my legs locked up completely. The indignity of cramp whilst clipped in on a bike is not something I planned to suffer that day.

The problem occurred when i tried to get out of the cleats. Unbeknown to me, someone had tightened the release up so much it was impossible to remove your foot. I didn’t know it at the time, but the process of trying to unclip my feet, whilst having fatigued muscles would introduce me to my latest injury, and pretty much write off the remainder of January 2019.

The following morning I would wake up in the early hours in agony, as the damage caused to knee ligaments and tendons earlier in the day, had slowly swollen to the point I had lost the ability to straighten my leg. Eventually the pain would be so unbearable that a trip to A & E was inevitable. I thought I had broken something.

The whole of the following week I would be in crutches, the hospital scans had confirmed that it was tissue damage, and not anything that the old fashioned remedy of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) could not sort out.

I am not a big fan of daytime television and quickly searched for a positive in this latest “set back”. I would eventually decide to write Chapters 12-15 of my blog that week, which by now you would of had the pleasure of reading.

Writing my blog whilst injured

In the past, being in pain, injured, or off work, would be a depressing time for me. Housebound and dependant. This time my experience was different. Recalling my journey for those chapters was very good therapy, and reminded me of the “Absolutely” response of Billy Harriss and Simon De Burgh, when responding to my question “Should I do an Ironman event”

All of my coaches STAR and TriForce absolutely believe in me, and continue to impress me with their positivity and belief. That week in crutches could have been the end of my journey if I didn’t write those chapters. I absolutely believe I can do it, and hope my experience of January is just a “Set back” and that February is a much better month for me.

The Moral guidance here is “Be careful when riding someone elses bike”

Awards and accolades

During this period of injury I was given the biggest of boosts, and a massive pat on the back from both Tri Force Endurance, and my Triathlon Club STAR. As you have read in Ch. 15 – Shaping my 2019 training and race season off the back of a “Santa Swim” TriForce had already awarded me the title of “most improved swimmer” for my efforts in their Santa swim challenge. I wasn’t expecting the bottle of wine and the Wiggle voucher that came through the door though. Thanks guys!

An even bigger surprise was to come the morning after my Tri clubs (STAR) AGM/Awards night, Friday 11th January 2019. It was completely unexpected, especially as I was unable to attend due to being injured by the Wattbike the Wednesday before. I was desperately disappointed to have to offer my apologies, I was more upset about that, than the fact I was injured. My triathlon club is full of very inspirational people and I am fortunate to be able to call them friends. I felt like I had let them down by not attending. The following morning my coach Katie “Narna” McBain would inform me of the following;

I had been nominated for three awards on the night by the membership, “The most improved swimmer”, “Most improved athlete award”, “The athletes, athlete of the year award” and my favourite… “The – You cannot be serious award” Katie advised me that I had indeed been missed.

I was voted by the membership, and awarded two out of the four awards for my efforts in 2018 – “The most improved Swimmer award” and the “Athletes -Athlete of the year Award” I was particularly chuffed to receive the latter. Especially given some of the epic challenges my fellow club members had completed through the year.

What to do?

It turns out that Triathlon is ideal for some one as injury prone as me. After an initial moody week on crutches, and easy week at work. Billy and I sat down and chatted about the way forward. I would swim my arse off for the remainder of January! Something that this time a year ago, simply wasn’t possible. Swimming was now my strength, and I would use it to my full potential.

Thank you for reading the latest chapter in my blog.

Please take the time to read the previous chapters in my journey. Chapters 1-16 have been a lot of fun to write, and I welcome your comments and opinions.

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt

For the next chapter in my blog I will describe February’s training in the build up to my triathlon training camp “Mallorca 2019”


Previous chapters in my Journey “Fatman – Ironman”

Ch. 14 – The gym, with a purpose

Ch. 15 – Shaping my 2019 training and race season off the back of a “Santa Swim”


2 thoughts on “Ch. 16 – Training, and the build to Tri Camp. Mallorca 2019 – January

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