Our coaching editor is currently battling piles of dirty washing, a haircut that’s getting out of control and is eating like a racehorse. Welcome to the world of preseason training.
Since Christmas I’ve been training really hard. I love training, but it’s not easy trying to fit it all in around work and a home life. I’d like to say it’s making me super fit, but the only changes I’ve noticed are that I permanently smell of chlorine, my dirty washing pile is six foot high, and my house needs cleaning.
In fact it’s taking up so much time that at one stage I couldn’t even find the time for a haircut. For several weeks I had what can only be described as a giant ginger afro. How is it that people like Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves can grow their hair long and still look cool? Whereas mine doesn’t grow long, it grows big. At one stage it got so big that I was worried a low-flying seagull might get stuck in it while I was out running. Thankfully I’ve had it cut now, and my bird entanglement worries are a thing of the past.
Another by-product of doing lots of training has been my food intake. My colleagues at Triathlon Plus joke that whenever they see me I’m always eating. And they’re right. I have a selection of cereals and fruit in my desk drawer, and I make so many trips to the staff canteen that I now know all the staff on first name terms. I’ve even been waking up hungry in the middle of the night. I’ve taken to leaving a selection of snacks by my bed, so I don’t have to walk all the way to the kitchen.
My constant hunger hasn’t been great for Triathlon Plus magazine. We get sent energy bars to review, but I can’t help eating them before we take them to the photo studio. It’s getting to the stage where I’m going to have to start stuffing empty energy bar packets with tissue, just for photography purposes.
My super-sized appetite has been partly thanks to my new winter training regime, which I’ve based on the philosophy of triathlon legend Mark Allen. It’s an old school approach based on heart rate, but essentially it’s about training at a low intensity all winter. The idea is that it teaches your body to get more and more efficient at using fat as a fuel. This is good news because the average person has enough fat to last them for weeks, whereas our carbohydrate stores run out after about 90 minutes. So if we can tap into those fat stores, it means we don’t use our turbo charged carbohydrate fuel so quickly.
I’ve taken to this “not going very fast” approach like a duck to water. My running speed at an easy heart rate of 125 bpm has improved by over a minute per mile in four months. I’m hoping that when I start increasing the intensity in spring I’ll have a fantastic base of fitness to work from. That’s the idea anyway. For all I know I might not make it to the spring at all. I could end up spending the next three months lost in my own washing pile, or explode from eating too many energy bars. If you don’t see my ugly mug in Triathlon Plus magazine for a few months, at least you’ll know what happened to me.