184 days – Coach


Yesterday (technically 185 days before I attempt the Ironman) I had my first conversation with my Coach – Simon Ward. A 45 minute chat over Skype for him to get a sense of how my training will fit in my life, and to begin to answers some of the questions I have about training.

I took him through what I’ve done so far, current injuries, and what my life is like in terms of fitting in training.

This is what I told him:

I’ve been doing triathlon for 3 years now, last summer I did the Cotswold 113 middle distance event, and finished in a time of 05:36:45 (Swim 30:55.5 Transition 1 04:52 Ride 02:58:08 Transition 2 03:57 Run 01:58:51)

I’m a swimmer from a county level from ages 8-13 and am pretty competent still. I picked up riding proper distances on a road bike much more recently – I’ve been riding above a commute distance for the past year and half now. I’m no great shakes at running but I can keep going at a steady pace for a really long time. I’ve done a trail marathon in the Lake District, and regularly train a 5000m swim distance. The furthest I’ve cycled was 134km from London to Whitstable as part of the Rapha Womens 100. I train between 10-15km runs, 50-100km rides and 3.5-5km swims and do one of those every day. I don’t take rest days. I work from home a lot although work erratic hours and am sometimes away from home for work so some days it’s really hard for me to fit in anything but a run.

I’ll be doing the Nottingham Outlaw ironman in July 2015.


  • Left Plantar Fascia strain – from stress/overwork, currently only minor but it’s been both feet before, and it takes about a month to be ok again. I’m not running where possible right now to try and let it recover.
  • Right shoulder ligament strain – aggravated by front crawl. This was sustained coming off my bike on a 14% descent at a surprise hairpin bend. My shoulder took the brunt of the impact. I was unscathed otherwise.

Simon laughed at the idea of a ‘surprise’ hairpin bend “was it not signposted?”

I suggested that I might have learnt the hard way about useful ways of braking on a descent that day.

  • A hamstring injury – right leg. Mostly healed. Injured almost 9 months ago now, sustained trying to beat my ex’s time on Strava over a hill in South London between Richmond Park and Lewisham. I equalled the time. I injured my leg. I’ve seen a physio about the shoulder and hamstring, and I have a general assessment with the physio booked in

Simon said that was a good idea. And then he replied to some of my concerns. I said I don’t like rest days, he asked why, “because they make me feel rubbish, like the feeling of your tongue when you’ve just woken up, they make my mind feel like that.” He replied “believe me, when I’ve structured your training, you’ll be thanking me for the rest days”

He said that the thing was not to aim for a time for the Outlaw event, but just to finish, he said it won’t just feel like two middle distances, I can’t take my time from the Cotswold 113, double it, and add 10%, “it’s a different beast” he said. He said ‘just finishing, that’s the success”

And then he tackled my final concern – how to structure training around a freelance workload that is a constant moveable feast – sees me working from home, but also (this month, for example) Hull, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Lincoln, plus my personal life taking me to Nottingham and the North York Moors. For a lifestyle that sometimes includes no days off, and rarely weekends.

He said “Did you know that this week, statistically speaking, is the week that New Year’s Resolutions fail? You know why that is? Life. It gets in the way. It’s human, we’re human. You can play make believe, but it’s messy, complicated and unpredictable, you have to train in that context. Fine, you’ve planned a 5 hour ride but if it’s snowing, too dangerous, then you’ll just have to get on your turbo and put in 3 hours. What if you’re stuck in an airport with a delayed flight? Run up and down the corridors. You’re not a professional athlete, you’re not the Brownlees, you’ve got a handicap, everyone has them, it might be your family, your work life, your erratic hours, a physical handicap. We all have obstacles and challenges, and that’s what makes crossing the finish line that bit more impressive. My job as a coach is to be your GPS, while you have your head down, my job is to help you negotiate a smooth path.”

And then we laughed about how it will be weird for me to be accountable to someone, I’ve been self-employed/working from home for nearly 6 years now. “It’ll be weird for you to have to answer to someone.”

Normally that would make me feel uncomfortable – having a boss, but it doesn’t feel like that. So far, it feels like having Alex in the room with me, as a director. The big picture, working together.

I’m looking forward to it.



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