As we hurtle towards the end of January, Ironman Florida back in November feels like a long time ago. Having enjoyed a great holiday in Orlando after the race, a hideous bout of what I think was Australian Flu knocked me out over the Christmas and New Year period. Now finally recovered, it’s time to think ahead to the goals for 2018.
Despite having been actively involved in the sport for almost 25 years, I am as keen as ever to keep stepping up the performance. In fact, I am probably more motivated than ever. Why? Well, whilst 2017 was good in places, it also hinted that I am getting that little bit older, taking that little bit longer to recover from training and races, and a couple of injuries along the way suggests that I need to be that little bit smarter in the way that I train. It has also been a stark reminder that nothing is forever – so maximise what you have and fully enjoy it.
So, 2018 is a new year, with new goals and a new coach.
I’ll start with the coach. Yes, I run a triathlon coaching company, but I believe that you need to absorb as much knowledge as you can from as many different influences as possible in order to continuously learn and develop as an athlete, but especially as a coach. I learnt so much from my 3 years with Purplepatch which led to some great race results, but have since decided to get a new view of the world from a Tri Sutto Coach and Rafal Medak. Different approach, different way of doing things but still the hard work required to reach my goals. It’s early days, but so far it feels right and I am looking forward to the season ahead.
At Total Tri Training, we tell our athletes to enjoy some down time of around 2-4 weeks at the end of their season. It is important to get away from the constant juggling of training around work, family and everything else in life. This should be followed by a more relaxed attitude to training over the festive season. If you miss a session or two then fine, but the focus should be on establishing a mind-set change that will prepare you to get ready for the hard work as the programme restarts early in the new year. Take the time to develop technique; get to the gym and in the routine of following our strength programme; ensure you’re eating as healthy as possible to sustain your training; and try and get to bed earlier to ensure your early morning sessions are done enabling you to hit as much as the plan as you can (without sacrificing everything else in your life). Then, by the time you get back on the programme you should be eager to get started!
And that’s where I am right now – getting the training done each day, trying to maintain consistency and very much looking forward to some sunshine with Rafel in Gran Canaria in February and leading the TTT Training Camp at Sands Beach in Lanzarote in March. Following which, I’ll be starting to think about racing.
So, the goals for 2018… After turning down a Kona slot for this year (I want to do another IM or two before giving it a good go out in Hawaii), the World 70.3 Champs in South Africa becomes my number one goal. The target is to be in the best possible shape come September in the hope of a podium finish, but whatever the race brings South Africa has been on the bucket list for the wife and I for a number of years so I am sure we’ll have a great holiday! I first need to earn my slot at a qualification race, which will likely be somewhere in Europe in May (still TBC), followed by the Challenge Championship at Samorin in Slovakia in June. I remember watching the Slovakia race whilst on the turbo last year and it looked fantastic so very much looking forward to giving this one a go.
As I look over these plans I realise how lucky I am to be able to enjoy the travel and experiences that I do training and racing all over the world. Whilst the result is important to me (I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t), ultimately it’s the experiences you remember and the people that you share them with. Being part of the TTT family, and sharing in the success of our athletes, makes it all the more special.
Unfortunately, I think that this has somehow been lost on some Age Groupers over more recent years. In particular with respect to failed drug tests. Sadly, I suspect what we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg and whilst I am sure that over the years I have probably been beaten by people taking performance enhancing drugs, I won’t allow this to be my excuse. Is it really that important to you to win by cheating? Regardless, I’ll continue to do my thing, work hard and chase a World Title the clean way.