I’ve never been afraid of the highest heights, or afraid of flying, I’ve never been afraid of the wildest fights, not afraid of dying……

The return to tri!

It’s been a long time coming, it’s been started and restarted a 100 times a few weeks of training and trying to get back to consistency and the ankles would go again, I’ve taken a new approach to training this year, a lot less in terms of hours. Intensity is nonexistent for the majority of sessions but when it’s hard it’s hard and when it’s aerobic it’s aerobic.

I’ve not raced very much this year, so far but the results have been ok. I had basically fully retired, I was selling all my gear, id sold my bike, and tt bike was up for sale, wheels I was giving away and  the old collection of tri t-shirts where given to charity.

That old quote, you know the one … you don’t know what you have till it’s gone, appreciation of the healthy body was something I never took on board, I used to batter myself into a pulp week in week out, appreciating the mind, well that is something I’m learning to do slowly. As a person and athlete I’ll be the first to admit I wear it all on my sleeve.

Tri3 Cahir Sprint distance Triathlon

Reflection of coach v reflections of an athlete

These are really two very different things, while reflecting as a coach, I will look at things like previous performances, training sessions – speeds v heart rates and race speeds v heart rates. Reflecting as an athlete is all about feeling, I felt this and I felt that there combining these two things can be difficult but well worth the time. Always remember though, hindsight is great foresight, and brain should not always rule heart.

The banter, one of the reasons why Cahir was important was that a lot of the guys and gals I coach would be at the race, the hounds and kittens as l like to call them. Around the transition area: the spirits where high, even with the rain and overcast weather. All the Ennis tri support crew for the tri 3 race were there giving me lots of abuse, the same I dish out on the Wednesday evening track sessions.

I  set my spot beside senor de synergy and my old bike, which he has pimped out and by the time my warm up was done, I was glad to have positioned myself beside Liam, as I was starving, I had to beg an energy gel.  A big thank you sir (and congrats on the great performance!!)

The swim

The long walk to the swim entrance, I’d have paid 50 euro for a cup of coffee on that walk, my shivering body was not looking forward to the swim start, a melee of flying arms and limbs, a round with mike Tyson or preferably Katie Taylor would have been warmer and in my head all I was thinking was how much time I was going to lose to young hound Rory Sexton of the Irish Junior Squad. The old dog inside me knew where to line up, new to hold back on entering the cold waters too soon, wanted to get the in just at the right time and new to stretch before entering, clattering teeth greeted me on barge to the front of the swim group and I arrived on Rory’s blue toes just as the count hit 5,4,3…. I was gone, picturing Katie Taylor while fighting Tyson, but I wondered would she actually share her lucozade sport….hmmmm
The swim in Cahir is slightly ? aided by a slight pushing flow of mass in the direction of the swim exit….

I exited the water in 3rd spot, I was swimming in that zone after the red zone trying to hold Rory’s feet, I think I managed too until the 450/500 mark before I had to let go. I came out 30 secs down, not too bad,  Mr. T avoid the pooper scoopers on the run to transition, pray that the baby oil takes me out of my batman suit quick and say a prayer to the gods of Athena that the body will be supported during the rest of the race.

A quick point to all of you reading this… always let your heart rate come down after the swim. Re-set the clock and go again

The bike leg

I was not prepared for what we athletes went through on that course. The fear was evident on the outbound leg. The rain and wind took its toll, victims or sadists I’m not sure which we were.

I had two deep section wheels on the bike, the wind was playing with me, and I knew it was not going to be kind on the return leg to freedom, and the run. I caught Rory at the 10km mark, greeted with a bloody smile and a gaunt look of determination. It was nice to be in first place but it was not a feeling of enjoying where I was, rather a feeling of …Phew, I’m getting closer to getting off this machine. I made a big mistake putting on the 1080 front wheel for the race. I couldn’t use the tri position and I rode from white line to white sideways….

The run

Coming off the bike in first place I had a feeling could I repeat the win for the hounds and kittens and defend last year’s winner com turner’s victory. Eric Wolfe was breathing down my neck coming out of T1 the enjoyment of leading the race soon lead to the fear of losing a podium place.

I’ve never been afraid of the highest heights, or afraid of flying, I’ve never been afraid of the wildest fights, not afraid of dying……

We never stop to think about the lows, the lows of injury, and the causes that it can cause, the little things….. The wants, I’ve know for a long time what I have wanted. 2.5 years of wanted to get back to running well and chasing results.

When racing I try to focus on one aspect of what I’m doing and try to that well, during the race in Cahir that one thing for me was to relax my shoulders, and feeling my arms move instead of me forcing them to do so.

While chasing the fear of losing second I would meet the dream maker and see the dream breaker. Gravity it’s a killer, God created gravity on the 8th day…. he may have made the world in 7 but got bored and wanted some fun so he created gravity to play with our minds and souls. I go by the rule if you attack in, you must attack out and down. So up and over while cursing the dream breaker and down while chatting to the dream maker.

A quick point to all, downhill running… just let yourself go, it’s a great training aid and a way of introducing speed into training sessions without a great cost to the body.

During the out and back section on the river bank, I could see I had some time over Rory and third place, I was able to relax and focus on my arms and their rhythm during the run. What goes through the mind of an athlete when racing? What should I be thinking about? To answer this you must ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. For any athlete of any level you must be thinking about what you are doing, people often say to me I was trying to take my mind off the pain, don’t, embrace it, put it in a box and control its output over the course of the run or bike or swim legs, race just below the point of “this is too much I need to stop” while pacing yourself to the distance. This point is arguable, but it will serve you well if you train right.

Turning the corner into the home straight and hearing the dj belting out the “Tunes” and being greeted by Eric on the finish line was a great welcome back to the world of racing triathlon, But seeing Rory hold on for 3rd place and the rest of the hounds and kittens have great races was the crowning glory of a great weekend of racing.

Appreciation of the body appreciation of the mind, the body was cared for by the therapists at the race, a big thank you. The mind was cleansed during the cool down, a solitary run with a smile, an acceptance of injury, acceptance of the body and an appreciation of function.

A big chapeau to all involved in the race, Greet to see so many marshals out and the support was even better.

Train Smart: Train Happy
Stephan Teeling Lynch

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Coach STL’s Tri Return: Cahir Report

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