The Confidence to Trust

Posted on February 27, 2014. Filed under: Austria, computrainer, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman nutrition, ironman regensburg, marathon, regensburg, strava |

Ironman is a long, long journey.  And it hurts.  Both physically and socially.  There really isn’t any more sugar coated way to put it.

The biggest challenge, though, is overcoming The Doubt.  How do I know I am going in the right direction?  How do I know that this run in the pishing, sideways rain is taking me one step closer to the finish line?

It’s been interesting to pause and reflect.  With Ironman 1, forward momentum was fuelled by blind optimism; I knew I could do it.  Ironman 2, however, is a very different beast – I have absolute trust that The Plan will get me there in the best shape.  And the trust is not blind trust, it is informed and it is conscious.  As I waddled around the Regensburg marathon course talking to myself like a gibbering loon I had time to contemplate the cut corners, the missed sessions and the bad eating decisions made under the intoxicating spell of blind optimism.  Sure I made it but if only I had just stuck with The Plan………

Although I was hard coded as a numbers guy, I’m pretty relaxed to nonchalant about numbers these days.  Hell, I am even a guest speaker on the behavioural impact of numbers in performance management.  But I do like to have a few numbers to give me the confidence to trust The Plan.

In the past I relied on the trend in my average pace on the bike or running but, now, I train more “in the moment” so averages make little sense.  For example, if I am doing hill repeats there are intense efforts with rest periods – the averages are nonsense. And also I warm up and cool down properly these days (forceably on account of the oldness) so averages paces are genuinely all over the place depending on how I do it.  So, if I am not relying or stressing about my average minutes per mile, what on earth do I use? Well, there are three things that give me confidence that I am on track.


I don’t really like Strava but it serves a purpose.  Let me explain for the uninitiated.  Strava is a website that stores routes and times that people complete and can share.  Ultimately it is a useful training log, but it has evolved into an internet based platform for digital willy waving.  Middle aged chaps (mainly) find an obscure part of their local neighbourhood, welly round it in a balls to the wall effort, and declare that they are the King of that little piece of road.  They then defend it to the death as if it were the Alamo.  And like Lance Armstrong on Mont Ventoux, Eric from Accounts can also dope digitally in a desperate attempt to remain the King of his Mountain (although it may even be flat).  It is a pure silverback, alpha male pastime for book-keepers and chaps that work in personnel.

So why do I use it?  Well, it’s simple – I use one run climb and one bike climb that I have done for years now as a measure for where my fitness is.  Whenever, I upload my activity to Strava it tells me how I have done on those climbs compared to previous efforts.  And the great news is that in the last month I am now doing those climbs at the same pace I did straight after Ironman 1 and I have 17 weeks still to go.  So far, so woo hoo.


I am lucky enough to have an indoor trainer that measures effort.  So every 6 weeks I do a test known as a critical power test, to assess progress and to re-base my training efforts.  The braw news, as they say in these parts, is that my last test was an improvement on the previous one.  It wasn’t a dramatic improvement, but neither would I expect it to be.  After a 6 week training block I increased my critical power wattage by 5%, albeit off a really weak ass base.

This is important to me for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I want to survive the bike intact and be able to RUN an Ironman marathon and secondly, it is confirmation that the bike work and the power work that I have been doing in the gym are paying off.   Put simply, I did the bike wrong in Ironman 1, but now it is my focus.  I NEED to do it right this time around.


As a big laddy I will never be a very fast runner or cyclist over long distances.  Being a former swimmer and rugby player means that I have a lot of muscleage above the waist so, in effect, I carry weight that is of little use in Ironman apart from the first hour in the water.  Therefore, being as lean as possible when I race will just make everything easier on my legs.  More good news!  Since the middle of January I have dropped 8% of my bodyweight.

The biggest concern when losing weight is that you lose power and I have had to adapt my diet specifically to retain muscle (and therefore power) while obliterating hard-earned lard.  As my critical power test went up the science stuff is working.  The most commonly used number in cycling is power per kg of bodyweight because that really is the crunch point.  In 6 weeks I have improved mine by 14% and I still have a lot of ass to lose.

So, with 17 weeks to go I have absolutely no idea what my average pace is.  A couple of years ago that would have had me in a fluster.  But deep down my confidence to trust The Plan is stronger and my resolve to see The Plan right through to the beach in Klagenfurt at 7am on the 29th June is galvanised.


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3 Responses to “The Confidence to Trust”

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Good job buddy! Keep up the good work. Back to SF this year. Will be thinking of you.


Brilliant Are you doing the Escape again?


[…] SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, so when real life inevitably gets in the way don’t melt down, don’t panic, just trust the plan and roll on.  The plan […]


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