I feel like I have been glued to my bike recently. Out of 34 hours training in the last three weeks, 23 hours have been spent on my bike.
It sounds like too much (my undercarriage feels like it is too much) but it isn’t – for two reasons. First, if an Ironman triathlon takes 14 hours to complete (that’s about what I think it will take me) then 7 hours are going to be on the bike. It dominates the event and so it makes sense that it is a big part of training.
Second, I would class myself as a “crap but improving” cyclist so there is work to be done if I am to do myself justice on 20 July.
I should be clear about one thing; I am not a cyclist and don’t want to be one! I think of myself as a runner first and a triathlete second. Definitely not a cyclist – cycling is a necessary evil. Rather like Catholics and Protestants, there is a fundamental philosophical difference between triathletes and cyclists. I regard cycling as a means of getting to the next transition so I can start a run. Cyclists believe it is a means of getting to beer and cake. Never the twain shall meet.
But out of a need to improve on the bike, I have found myself “going native” recently and venturing uncomfortably far into the strange world of cycling. I have done a couple of time trials with the local cycling club in the last few weeks and recently I have become the owner of a time-trial bike. You don’t have to be around proper cyclists for long before you discover a strange code which governs cycling – “The Rules”
The Rules are a canon of cycling etiquette authored by a mysterious, self-appointed group of guardians who style themselves “The Keepers of the Cog”. They wouldn’t admit that the rules are tongue-in-cheek, but even if they are not and even if I don’t want to be a cyclist, there are a couple that resonate with me, especially at the moment.
The first is Rule 10 which is simply:
Rule #10 – It never gets easier, you just go faster.
Some truth in that! Cycling never seems to get any more comfortable or less demanding, but somehow my average speed seems to creep up. I reckon I am about 2 mph faster now over 30 miles than I was two years ago. It doesn’t sound much, but over an Ironman bike leg my new self would cover the bike course almost an hour faster than my old self. That’s worth training for!
The second rule that rings bells with me on a regular basis is Rule 5:
Rule #5 – Man the fuck up.
There is almost no situation in my Ironman training where this can’t be applied.
Yesterday I was in the pool doing 2km as 10 x 200m at a tempo pace, I got cramp in my foot in the 8th repeat. 1,600m seemed a good workout and I thought about cutting it there……MTFU!
Last week I went on a mid-week Club bike ride. Lots of testosterone filled youngsters driving the pace. The average for first 5 miles was over 20mph. I didn’t think that was sustainable and began to think about bailout options……MTFU!
On Monday I was at a Club track session running 4k as 10 x 400m “pickups” (gradually picking up the pace during each lap). I had been nursing a tight calf the previous week and thought after 7 laps that I should stop in case I damaged my calf…….MTFU!
You see – it’s a remedy for all eventualities – not just cycling. I would recommend anyone to incorporate MTFU into their training.
In other news, training seems to be going fine. I have cycled 60 miles plus, three times in the last few weeks, which is good news but for the fact that it just ushers in a series of longer bike rides. Swimming is less interesting – there is a limit to the attraction of pounding up and down a pool for an hour and then smelling of chlorine all day. Thank goodness the local swimming lakes are now open and I can add some variety with a weekly open water swim.
But constantly in the back of my mind is the speed at which this event is hurtling towards me. It is now less than three months away and my warm up race at the Outlaw Half is just over a month away. Occasionally I get butterflies thinking about them and then I remind myself…..MTFU!