It’s Not a Marathon, it’s an Ironman Run

This week I took another small step in the learning process of Ironman training. As if I needed reminding, I learned that when it comes to Ironman, normal rules don’t apply – but more about that later.

First I had a mojo problem to get on top of. The week started well with a Club swim session – a gathering that I always enjoy. Lots of chat and banter amongst good friends mixed in with an hour of hard work helped to cheer me up. But by the time I got to the track for our Club’s weekly coached running session on Monday, I had slipped back into my rut. My legs were heavy and I moaned my way through a session of 8 x 600m at about 800m pace.

The turnaround started on Tuesday when someone posted in the fantastic “Ironman Journey” group on Facebook that they had hit a huge motivational brick wall. Their words could have been mine exactly. What followed was like a “Spartacus” moment as literally dozens of people, all training for Ironman, posted their confessions. Everyone was suffering from the same thing. But as important to me was some of the Ironman veterans in the group reassuring everyone that it was perfectly normal to experience a low at some point in training.

I don’t know if it was the reassurance that I wasn’t alone or the rest day I took on Tuesday, but when I woke up on Wednesday morning the world was a different place.

I did a great high intensity 90-minute bike ride in the evening looking for hills and working hard and I followed that with my long run on Thursday. It was a shorter run this week of 8.5 miles to give my legs a bit of a break, but it was such Lakea nice day and I was enjoying the run so much that I ran straight past the road home and tacked an extra loop on to make it a round ten miles. It seems my mojo had returned. To prove it I tagged along on a trip to the lake that evening which I had planned to skip. It was a beautiful evening and I had a great time swimming 2.3km with a group of friends from the Club.

Friday was the big one – the 80-mile cycle that I had bounced from the previous week blaming the weather. This week I was really up for it and was out of the house at 8.30am on a beautiful sunny morning carrying my bodyweight in energy bars and gels and a pair of legs which were slightly heavy from the previous day’s run.

After a tour of lots of pretty villages south of Andover, I stopped at about halfway in the small market town of Stockbridge to buy some water and top up the nutrition with a chocolate twist from the Co-op’s pastry counter – as you do! The only other interruption to my ride were two puncture stops during the second half. The roads around us are terrible at the moment.

I got home in just over five hours of riding time (excluding puncture stops and lunch) having covered 83 miles (132km) with 3,500 feet of ascent. A moving average speed of 16.5mph (26.4kph). For a training ride with ten weeks left, that will do nicely. Then came an important Ironman lesson.

What I wanted to do when I got home was to lie on the lawn in the sun with a large bottle of ice-cold water. What I knew I should really do was to pull on my running shoes and run for a mile straight off the bike and so I did.

It should have been no surprise to me that, as 83 miles is the furthest I have ever cycled, that one-mile run was going to be a challenge. It was a small taste of what starting the run in an Ironman might be like. Let’s not quibble about the fact that the ride was 30 miles short of the Ironman distance or that my run was only one of the required twenty-six miles, it was a struggle.

When I think of running a Marathon, I think about things like pacing strategy, splits and other important stuff. Forget all of that! From now on I am working on a “get round strategy” which starts with ignoring the pace on my watch. Whatever the strategy, run, shuffle or walk, it will have one aim which is to get me to the finish line, come what may.

Tim Lebbon, a member of the “Ironman Journey” Facebook group put it perfectly in a post last week:

“One of the best bits of advice I had was: It’s not a marathon, it’s an Ironman run.”

When I read the post, I thought I knew what he meant. Having done my 83 mile bike and 1 mile run, I now know exactly what he means. It may be one of the best bits of advice I get too.

In other news, endurance racing madness reaches an all-time high at Andover Triathlon Club over the next two weeks as my friend and club mate Jason Briley takes on Enduroman, a double iron distance race (4.8 mile swim, 232 mile bike and 52 mile run).

Because part of the race is through the night, the course is designed to keep everyone close by for safety reasons. So the run course is 50 times round a loop of just over a mile – psychological as well as physical torture!

10356588_10152393645121745_1601295816_nTo keep himself motivated, Jase has had all of his mantras and motivational catchphrases printed on card and laminated and plans to collect one at the start of each loop of the run to see him round the next mile. A brilliant idea!

I’d wish him luck, but he doesn’t need luck. His cheery chirpy exterior belies a core of steel. Enduroman doesn’t stand a chance!

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11 responses to “It’s Not a Marathon, it’s an Ironman Run

  1. Definitely the best blog post ever. Cheers for your support mate. It’s brilliant being part of your journey too.

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    • Thanks Jase, but I think you are biased. Can’t wait to hear about your race at the Enduroman…….now that may be the best blog post ever 🙂

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  2. Well Peter , I was going to give you a little pep talk on how it’s not called iron man for nothing, it’s a big challenge, no one expects it to be easy or we’d all be doing it blah de blah and it is! But then I read about your mate Jason. What can I say? It just sounds so unbelievably crazy to me, but good luck to him!
    I hope that your mojo has enjoyed his little holiday and is back for the duration. Tell him he can’t have any more time off until the job is done, you’re the boss and what you say goes. Having said that the mojo does seem to be rejuvenated, going for that 1 mile run after the bike sounded like a stroke of genius and it sounds like you made a big psychological breakthrough there! Maybe the mojo’s break did him some good! I probably sound a bit loopy, (sorry) just got in from a late night run and I think it’s gone to my head!! Anyway keep up the good work- I really admire the sustained effort that you have put into training for this. BW julie

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    • Thanks Julie. Maybe my mojo lost its mojo!! Anyway, I think we are all back with the program now. Well done on the late night run – sounds like fun.

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  3. Hi Peter – Great blog as ever and good to see that the mojo is alive and kicking again

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  4. I went through the same mojo thing too training for Ironman Zurich last year, I even had it about 2 weeks back training for the Outlaw Half 🙂 , so it’s perfectly normal. Re the “marathon”, again went through the same last year , did a 135k sportive then ran for 10 mins and thought how the hell am I going to run a marathon? – weird thing is on the day you kind of forget you are doing a marathon and just run ( or run walk run like I did 🙂 , adrenalin and the fact loads of other people are doing it with you just seems to spur you on and it doesn’t seem as long as you think – well it did for me anyway 🙂 I am sure you will find others that tell you different lol 😉
    Hopefully I will catch up with you next weekend, would be good to meet you after speaking on twitter etc..

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    • Thanks for the tips Russ, all good advice. I have heard that the race briefing, race numbers and swim waves are now all available on the Outlaw Half Web site. When I find out my number and swim wave I will let you know. Hopefully see you there…..just ten days now 🙂

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  5. We all loose our mojo at times, and it sucks. You wonder if you will ever get that drive back again. I’m kinda there now, but I have a half marathon Sunday. Mojo or no mojo, I gotta run.

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    • I think a half marathon in company would be a great remedy for a missing mojo. Good luck with the race and here’s hoping you feel better afterwards.

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  6. I am so glad your Mojo is back and you are just enjoying it again, that’s what it’s all about! Tilda x

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