“It isn’t always like this.” I tried to sound reassuring and authoritative, but I wasn’t sure if it was unusually windy or I’d already forgotten how windy Lanzarote is. It had only been two months since my last visit, it hadn’t felt as difficult then, and the year before, I didn’t recall many days being quite so tough. One day into our two week trip to Lanzarote, Gill’s first time on the island, and the weather was playing contrary to my pre-trip claims about the lack of rain, the warmth and the extent of the wind. At least if we could both cope with thirty mile per hour gales, anything else the island offered would seem comparatively tame; fortunately it isn’t always like that – yesterday’s cool, overcast battle into a gale turns into today’s warm, sunny fight with strong gusts.
The wind has been one of the constant features of my many trips to Lanzarote and while it remains ever present this time round there are changes. The days still start with a swim, after a large breakfast a bike and finish with a pre-dinner run, but beyond this my spartan approach to training camps has been abandoned. Two of us in an apartment that has previously held three, now I’m upgraded to a real bed, the sofa a place to sit, reading or working with a glass of red wine on the table in front of me. The larder is well stocked – ample food to tide us over between training sessions and of course the aforementioned wine. I’m attempting – unsuccessfully – to keep our lounge uncluttered, a place to relax after the day’s efforts, but already discarded kit (my own) is making its presence known. After dinner we stroll along the beach front browsing tourist shops, we seem to have created a strange union of training camp and holiday.
Beyond these superficial changes, I am abandoning the ethos that ‘more is better’, and instead hoping to do ‘just enough’. I want to return from this camp fit and healthy, I don’t want the post-camp slump that has often followed. To that end rather than attempting to simply accumulate training until I crack I aim to complete a manageable volume every day with two easier days to help absorb the load. Perhaps I can stretch myself enough without breaking.
Some things remain the same. Rules. Over breakfast Gill and I discuss how we will eat in a bid to shed a little unneeded weight. Plans are formulated to allow treats, effectively access to desserts or alcohol on the basis of daily performance, a certain amount of work needs to be done to contemplate these items. And further rules define our days – we will get up each morning and swim, at least thirty minutes, but preferably sixty; we will bike on all, but one easy day and three to four hours should be the minimum; I of course will be running at least thirty minutes a day as part of my thirty days of running, unfortunately Gill strained her ankle the day before we left so we wait to see what she can manage. Differences in speed necessitate a system for riding together – waiting at major turns, hill climbs become reps for me, I accept a certain slowing of pace knowing I will work that much harder elsewhere.
But I remain struck by how things change. A few principles remain, but the practice is very different. It feels positive, I am striking a better balance between training and enjoying that training. I am relaxed in my approach. It is a pleasure to not stress about how many hours I’ve achieved or how hard I’ve gone (though I remain acutely aware of the potential Strava records). I could get used to this training camp-holiday hybrid, should I avoid that post-camp slump I will be sold.
From nutrition to pacing - a collection of CoachCox blog posts focused specifically on Ironman training and racing.