They say a picture paints a thousand words. I came across this picture on Twitter yesterday via @tommygeorge93, and - if you want to know how February has been for me in terms of training - this puts it perfectly. Here’s what happened …
Back in January, race training was going swimmingly. Running was well on track: my fiancé Ryan and I headed down to Kendal for our first long run of the year, LDWA’s 24-mile ‘That’s Lyth’ challenge, and - despite a nasty cold - I got round in one piece and had a whale of a time. (It was as much a feast as a run - best fuel-stations I’ve ever seen; fresh doughnuts, hotdogs, quiche, tea and biscuits, soup and cake, and all for a £6 entry fee - bargain!). Off-road bike training was looking promising: we were all set to move house from the city to the Trossachs at the end of the month, and miles and miles of trails would soon be on the doorstep. Even swimming seemed to be in hand: we had our first lesson in the diary for the start of February with a kind triathlete friend; babysitters were lined up for the day, and we were all ready to launch into a new programme on the back of that. I’d even got hold of a super-cheap tri-suit in the January sales - triathlon training seemed to be off to a very good start indeed.
Too good to be true, in fact. First thing to go wrong was the cycling plan, when the move to the Trossachs fell through. I know, I know, you probably shouldn’t base a training programme around anything that depends on conveyancing(!), but I’m an optimist and I thought it’d all work out. But the move was off, and suddenly, with no bike-carrier and the bicycles already buried under a pile of boxes, the off-road bike-training programme didn’t look so good after all. Then the swim: a couple of days before the lesson was due to take place, I started to feel a bit off-colour. I was determined to push on, but by the time the lesson came round, I was in bed with full-blown flu and tonsillitis. That’s where I stayed for the next two weeks. No running, no cycling, no swimming - not even enough energy to walk the dog. Grr!
That was all at the beginning of February, and it’s only now at the start of March that I’m getting back on track. Taking time out from training is difficult, especially when you’ve got big goals to work towards. This year I’ve definitely got some of those: a 35-mile ultra in May; my first triathlon at KMF not long afterwards; and Mont Blanc Marathon in June - but sometimes resting is the better part of valour. When your head and heart are willing, it’s tough to listen to your body and give it the time it needs to recover - but I really believe that can make the difference between success and failure in the long run. With hindsight, I see I should never have run the 24-miler on the back of a nasty cold. Had I listened to my body then, I might well have stayed stronger and more resilient and got away without the bout of flu that knocked me for six last month.
So, what next? Well, it wasn’t the February I hoped for, but looking ahead to March I’m feeling positive. I’m out running again at last, and it feels good - in fact, Strava tells me I’m running faster now than I was in January; perhaps my legs enjoyed the rest! I’ve discovered a fantastic series of open water swimming lessons, every Sunday at a loch just a couple of miles from my house, so I’m looking forward to my first open water swim very soon (just as soon as I get hold of some neoprene gloves and socks, in fact - it’s C-O-L-D out there!). As for the cycling, well, that’s still tricky. But meanwhile, a couple of spin classes a week are going to be better than nothing to get my legs into the habit of pedalling. And - fingers crossed - we’ve got a new move to the country lined up for the end of March, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel for my off-road cycling programme. All in all, things are looking up. I’m even blogging again! So, fingers crossed for a happy, healthy, active March - for all of us!