I am not there. Yet.

It’s the end of the academic year. The idea that things somehow wind-down is laughable. I end the school year in a blur of hot, sleepless nights, several late trips to Manchester for a colleague, an epic pizza, and what seems to be endless curriculum planning. I am exhausted. Somewhere in there, I teach too.

But I also run a little, swim a bit more, and cycle quite a lot. I write about why I want to compete at Ironman 2023 here. This is not enough though. Good intentions don’t really add up to very much. No endurance endeavour cares about your intentions.

You don’t get to mile 130 of an Ironman and wish that your intentions were better.

It is ALL about training, and about the consistency of training that matters.

Nothing beats consistency. Nothing.

Of course, this raises a significant psychological obstacle and a very real practical problem. You can’t train for forty-nine weeks for one event in a linear fashion and expect to progress effectively. A programme of such length is unheard of for good reason: it is simply too long and the risk of injury is probably only eclipsed by the risk of total burn out and exhaustion. And yet, my starting points are low. Very low. The Achilles problem that has blown a hole in the first seven months of this year started last July. If consistency is everything, then I’ve had none of it. I’ve gone backwards. So, in a very tangible sense, I need everyone of those forty-nine weeks ahead of me. I think that each day there is something to fight for, something to focus on, and something that I can do that will build incrementally towards the audacious goal I have set for myself.

Here are my current starting points:

SWIM: I can swim 1 mile in 42 minutes

BIKE: I can ride 50 miles at just over 14 MPH

RUN: My last parkrun was 22:21

As I move forward, my plan is really simple: enjoy doing slightly more each week at a very low intensity. All of this will be Z1, Z2 with the occasional blast at a higher intensity. Ultimately, Ironman is about aerobic endurance. For many people this is a 14+ hour event, and even if the target is 11.5 hours this is still a long day out. Before I start to train at the specific outputs that a 11.5 hour Ironman will require, I need to build a solid base again.

On Saturday, I find myself running round Stratford parkrun. I start easy, and looking at my watch it would appear that I end easy. Although my heart rate and my breathing tell a very different story: I am rinsed for a 22:21. I’m four minutes away from my best times here, and these were all tempo efforts not flat out races. There is so much to do.

Stretford parkrun with Nat. I felt sorry for myself for a second afterwards.

As I walk from the track, I allow myself a fraction of a second to feel sorry for myself before bringing my thoughts back to the present so that they meet me where I am: knackered, sore, breathless, and sweating far more than I should. As I lower myself into the car, I vow to use the next six weeks to get entirely focused and to build that daily consistancy.

I am not there. Yet.

Can I break 30 minutes at Bolton parkrun?

It is my first week back training after a very painful and debilitating bout of Achilles tendonitis. I’ve been walking, doing foot exercises, stretching, massaging, and looking after my injury for months. Now it is time to run. I know that I am unfit. As I walk around to parkrun, I ask myself: can I break 30 minutes?