We can read all the magazines, ask various fellow athletes for advice, which of course are all important, but the key is to know how your body functions - only you truly know.
Last weekend on Saturday I took part in a gruelling triathlon in Lisbon, half Iron man distance, with very low temperature and torrential rain.
It was horrible. I suffered so much from the cold on the run that I just couldn’t function. Normally I’d warm up on the run, but the blistering cold wind just cut through me! I went from 2nd to 5th on the half marathon distance, where normally I would have a strong run. With low body fat I just couldn’t warm up, and around 300 competitors dropped out due to the conditions. I finished in 5 hours, which is a bad time for me.
Neal Marrin from the UK also took part in the Lisbon Triathlon, his first half iron man distance, which he completed in 6 hours in such harsh conditions - it was a major achievement.
Neal came up to Delucci Retreat the day after, on Sunday, as he was keen to do a couple of days cycling and swimming before returning to the UK on Wednesday.
We had two days training, each consisting of easy 3 hour rides with one 40 min swim in the local pool.
I was constantly aware that I had an Olympic Distance duathlon for my team here in Portugal (and it’s a national champs race including Elites) at the weekend, so I did make a few efforts on the bike, but short ones.
My job is training with people and racing has to come second.
How did I recover and how was my performance at the race one week after the half Iron man?
Neal departed on the Wednesday morning, feeling a little bit tired. Now was the time to think about my recovery.
Race on Sunday, early start, so I was up at 6am.
Wednesday: It is very important to keep on the fluids so I made sure to drink lots of water and to eat well in the evening. Legs up, I aimed purely on resting for the most part of the day.
Thursday: I went to the local spa, where they have a sauna and steam room. It's the perfect place to warm up muscles then self-massage and stretch. Make sure you have some water with you, again it’s so important to hydrate! Soaking my legs in the pool between sessions. Then afterwards when I returned home it was time for legs up in front of the telly eating well and hydrating.
Friday: I was feeling better and my legs were not as heavy as previous days, but I still was not quite ready for an easy run. Normally I would have much prefered to have run by now, but because I had been riding with Neal for those two days, leg recovery will take a bit longer. I also had the Half Marathon in my legs. A good night’s sleep is important as it’s normally hard to sleep the night before a race.
A day of getting everything ready for race day. I prepared my bike, kit and nutrition ready for the morning. After days of rest I went for a 3k run with a sprint in the middle, to make sure . Good dinner consisting of pasta and
fruit cake. Try and get a good night’s sleep.
Sunday: Race day up at 05:30am after a good nights sleep, it was time for breakfast and to keep well fueled I had some of last nights pasta along with a coffee so I was then ready to head off. After a 2 hour drive in the team bus we arrived. An hour before the start we rack the bikes, then a warm up to see how those legs are and how tired I am. Did the recovery plan work?
Time to get to the line. The best in Portugal are here today, it’s a drafting race with elites so it will be very fast start!
The gun goes, it’s a twisty hilly course consisting of 4 laps mainly on gravel. The first two laps I try to bed down and get a rhythm, I mustn’t go too mad in the beginning.
3rd lap comes round, legs feel good, time to press on! Catch the guys in my age group and go harder! 4th lap, fellow age groupers are way back. Now I’m coming into transition with another competitor who is in his 20s. With a 40 seconds transition time I’m on the bike and away.
500m climb ahead, attacked it to bridge a bigger gap, no-one behind apart from the young guy. Elites are minutes up the road.
Catch a few others and form a group of 4, all strong, taking turns at the front, all suffering! 6 laps with 3 climbs. With an average speed of 34kph with strong winds it was tough!
We all come into transition together, another 40 second transition time, nice and clean. Final run feeling the bike in my legs a bit, drop dig in two laps, still no-one behind, just the group I was on the bike with, one drops behind and two are just in front. Last lap, final push, must keep going, keep up the speed!
The next competitor in my age group followed over the line 2 minutes later. My finish time was 2 hr 2 mins, first v3. My position overall including the Elites was 18th place. This was my first duathlon since June last year and was my fastest time for a few years. It is all about training and listening to your body and make sure to rest your right, resting is as important as training.
It is important to remember everyone is different, what’s good for one person may be different for another. My recovery is good because I know my body and it's limits, so I plan to suit this.
Although I was advised to miss out the event and rest instead, I made sure with a thoughtout recovery plan that I gave myself the best chance of competiting and I am so glad I did.
The views shared are that of the author and are not necessarily that of Lexham Insurance Consultants Ltd.