Our Coaching Editor, Phil Mosley, spent the winter training in the company of pro athletes like Tim Don, Will Clarke and Jodie Swallow. Did it work? He explains all…

This blog was originally published on www.myprocoach.net

Time flies. This time five months ago I was boarding a plane to South Africa, leaving behind the life I’d always known, to go and work and train in the sun. Now it’s time to come back home to Britain and in this blog I want to reflect on the outcome of my big triathlon adventure.

First up, I haven’t gone bankrupt, which was one of my major worries at the start. I’ve continued to enjoy my role as Triathlon Plus Coaching Editor, as well as successfully coaching several of my own athletes remotely via myprocoach.net. It’s not always been plain sailing though, especially as South African internet speeds leave a lot to be desired. But it all worked out OK in the end.

As for my training, well that worked out quite well too. I lived in Stellenbosch, which is a mini Mecca for pro triathletes especially in January and February. Being in such an environment initially taught me a couple of important lessons, namely:

1. I’m not very good at triathlon
2. I hardly do any training

I was getting my ass handed to me on a plate every time I trained in company. Not only that, but after each workout I’d go home to work on my laptop whilst the other athletes did one or two more gruelling sessions throughout the day.

I couldn’t believe how hard they trained. For example, GB pro triathlete Will Clarke would do 34-hours training in six days, before taking a rest day. Similarly, a couple of other pro athletes here are coached by Brett Sutton and sometimes they train four or five separate times in one day. Holy cow!

I knew that I could never match that, let alone whilst working for a living. So I figured I’d need to be very efficient with my time and maximize each session. So I stuck to training twice per day (lunchtime and early evening) but made sure each workout had a clearly defined purpose based around my target races. So that meant no junk miles or “easy recovery runs”. I figured my body would only adapt to key workouts anyway, and that I needed to progress these every few weeks to keep improving. Then I factored in a recovery and adaptation week every third week to recharge my batteries and catch up on work. It meant I was ready and raring to go again afterwards.

The upshot is that my swimming is still relatively crap by “pro” standards, although pleasingly I managed to do 400 meters in five minutes and 15 seconds during one pool swim. However, this is mainly because I was panicking that Tim Don and Jodie Swallow were about to lap me.

My cycling has improved (according to my SRM power meter anyway) and my running is about the same as last season. However, the biggest improvements across all three disciplines are to my stamina and strength, which were always my weak points. I can now ride my bike quite hard for 5-hours without needing a week in bed to recover. And I can run at a good pace for well over 2-hours and still walk properly the next day. Seeing as my next two races are Ironman UK 70.3 and Ironman Austria, it’s promising news.

So once I’m back I’m Britain and I’ve recovered fully from my travels, I’ll start putting the finishing touches to my training. I’m in good shape after the last five months, so the biggest challenge is not to overcook it at this stage. There’s a fine line between peaking for a race and doing so much that you get constant niggling injuries. And then the ultimate acid test will come on race day – I’m already feeling excited. I’ll write another blog nearer the time and let you know how I get on.