Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing. You may disagree, but I for one think the past few months have been crammed with the latter, and hopefully in this blog, those experiences will be worth reading!
When I last blogged in June, I was two races into my season. Since then its been in and out of Europe, learning curves, average results and some surprise ones. One race to go, and I am beside myself with excitement to be spending my end of season break at our new family home in the Devon countryside. That will be a blog filled with adventures no doubt, but for now its a round up of the 2016 race season as it stands.
The big trip of 2016 however, was Italy. A three-week altitude camp put on by British Triathlon in Livigno, 1800m up - and although those photos make the trip look like one big holiday, it was actually pretty hard...! The primary purpose of the camp was for athletes heading to the Cozumel World Champs next month, and the Olympic team were across from us in St. Moritz. There are numerous changes that take place both during and after a stint at altitude. Your heart rate rockets (as did my ability to sleep and eat) meaning you can’t train by power or pace as you predominantly do at sea level, and everything is done by heart rate. We were capped to a BPM on all sessions, different segments and aspects of a session would be capped accordingly to ensure we didn’t dig ourselves to the earth’s core before the end of camp.
I felt like I took just over a week to adjust to the altitude, and as running and cycling came to me easier in time, I struggled monumentally with the swimming to the point I dropped to four swims a week and had to halve the rep distance of everyone else but keep the same turnarounds to allow my HR to come back down. It was really bizarre and painfully frustrating, to feel like I was swimming full pelt, only to have a time called out that was sometimes up to 8seconds slower than you would expect normally…over 50metres. I wasn’t alone though, some athletes felt like that running, some cycling. Altitude is massively individual due to such vast and varied physiological responses, so you just have to adapt the sessions and structure accordingly.
We flew back down just over 48hrs before Liverpool National Sprint Champs, as the general response to altitude is that you ‘peak’ for 3 days, then deteriorate for anything between 7 and 10 days before you begin to feel ‘normal’ again and start seeing the benefits. We all raced Liverpool with uncertainty as to how we would respond. I felt strong but very physically tired and a 19th place reflected it. Relieved to have a week pootling along before full training commenced, I took five days out the pool more for my own mental sanity than anything else. The week was well spent watching the Olympics and catching up with friends, family and life - it's always amazing to see new countries and race in Europe but there's no better feeling that getting home.
I've just one triathlon left in 2016, the second to last was Bala the weekend just gone. With my swim in a bit of a sorry state, I decided to do a domestic non-drafting standard distance instead of the original early plan of going to Alanya European Cup. It was nice to 'race my own race', and have a decent outcome still be possible even after Id taken my goggles off. I was delighted to hold my lead on the bike (big up the roadie!) until around 35km before I was passed, then regained my lead in the first km of the run. I was joined by old Loughborough friend Emily Whitmore around 6km and we ran together until I shuffled off soon after 9km...utterly panicked at the prospect of a sprint finish...I wouldn't put my money on me in one!
At the start of the year, I set no specific race goals or results, the aim was to get 'up and running' again post crash. Although forever and always my own biggest critic, I think I have picked up where I left off and a bit more. I sure am looking forward to 2017, where i'll have a little bit more to work with in terms of fitness and form. More than anything, its just been awesome to be back in Loughborough and back in the hype. Enjoy the rest of your seasons, days seem long yet the year flies! Enjoy every moment ❤︎
Big THANK YOU's must go to Pedal Potential, Skechers Performance Division and my team Jackpot Racing for valuable support throughout the year.