Looking Back

It’s been a good year. I started from a low point, but with help from family and friends, I’ve managed to follow the plan that I made at the beginning of 2012. Recently I have been thinking back over the last twelve months, trying to be honest with myself about what worked, and what didn’t: my tri ‘year in review’.

Here are the four targets I set myself on 1 January this year. The main one wasn’t about results, but about approach.

1. Train every week

My previous 5 years or more is characterized by a complete lack of consistency. I would try to do too much and get sick, or work would get in the way, or something else disrupted the routine. And suddenly I would find I’d done no exercise at all for months at a time.

For 2012, I made it my primary target to do something every week, no matter what. And that’s what I’ve done. A few times, it’s been a single session squeezed in at the end of a week of travelling or sickness, just to tick the box. But that seems to have been enough to keep me in the running, so to speak!

Result: 52 out of 52 weeks I’ve logged at least one session
Next year: Same again!

The secondary part of this was to average 3-4 hours per week for the whole year. I know this seems to be extraordinarily little by comparison to competitive triathletes, and even Chris Carmichael’s Time-Crunched Triathlete programmes want a 5-8 hour commitment per week, but when I set this goal I wanted to be entirely realistic about what would fit into my life. Since I have just managed to ‘beat’ my upper target, this means I’ve done more exercise in 2012 than in any of the previous ten years. I know some triathletes will have done this much before the end of February, but it was a tough goal as far as I was concerned and I’m really happy to have maintained this for a whole 12 months.

I’d love to up the average for next year, but on reflection the few weeks when I squeezed in 5½-6 hours this year definitely knocked the tri/life balance.

Result: 211 hours, an average of just over 4 hours/week, every week
Next year: 4-5 hours/week

2. Get lighter

I lost 12 kg in the first half of the year, through exercise and better diet. (It’s like rocket science!) I got a bit lighter still while I was racing in the summer, though I haven’t kept all of it off into the winter, and my eating habits have gone backwards, so I need to give myself a kick in the new year.

Next year: Get less fat, 3-4 kg from where I am now

3. Get fitter and stronger

Back in January I also set myself the goal of achieving a PB over 5k on the Concept 2 rowing machine. It sounds like an odd choice for a wannabe triathlete, but I had some reasons. Indoor rowing seems to generate transferable fitness and few injuries. As a metric, the erg can’t be cheated, you can’t just have a good day. And I had numerous scores in my training log from when I was rowing pretty seriously, so it’d be easy to evaluate progress.

I reached my goal (17:47.1, 1:46.7 /500m) during March, and added a half marathon distance PB too (80:50.7, 1:55.0 /500m). I didn’t quite get back to my best 2k mark from 1998. That’d probably need more rowing focus, and more raw power. I’m no longer interested in the former, but the latter is definitely something for this off-season. This spring was the first time since uni I’ve invested any time in the gym and it definitely helped, but on reflection I still didn’t spend enough time on building power. Nic and Filipe have both politely told me to work on my core so there’s definitely more gym work on the horizon! PT sessions with Nic and her continued coaching support have been hugely beneficial so I’ll be doing more of those in the new year for sure.

Result: I’m definitely fitter, but my raw power is still woeful
Next year:
Develop more power and more core strength via sport-specific gym work

4. Go faster

Finally, obviously, I wanted some results! 🙂 I’ve written up my race reports through the year, so no point rehashing all of them, but looking at my best results of 2012 should give me some ideas of where to focus for next year.

Best swim: 11:02 for 750m (including exiting the lake at Reading); 5:53 for 400m (including exiting the pool at Salisbury Fast Twitch)
Best bike: a lowly 34 km/h (at almost every event)
Best run: 18:45 for 5 km (Norwich parkrun), though I think I ran a bit quicker over the distance at Thruxton and at the TRI Challenge; 39:09 for 10 km (Yateley 10k)
Best overall: 3rd/219 (at Concorde sprint); 21st/298 (at Marlow not-quite-Olympic)

Racing lots this year has certainly improved my pacing and my transitions. My T2 has improved to ‘acceptable’, but my T1 is still pretty poor, especially when a wetsuit is involved. I’ll have to work on that too.

Looking back, it’s also clear that tri/life balance suffered when races were too frequent but I got a bit listless when they were too far apart. I’m going to aim for one a month in 2013.

Right. That should be enough that I can lay out my plan for the new year!! Next post coming shortly!

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  1. Pingback: Wrapping Up 2013 | trialog | a triathlon blog