Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 39 – The End of the Road

C’mon body, just two weeks to go. One more big dance and I promise I won’t do anything too stupid to you for the rest of the year.

Click here to read other journal entries and articles by Andrew Read, and look for his new journal every Monday as he trains for Ironman Melbourne.

Athlete Journal Entry 39: The End of the Road

The work is done. At this point I am not going to get any fitter. That’s kind of annoying because I feel like I’m actually in decent base shape now and ready to start working for real towards an Ironman in a year’s time. That or be competing in a Half Ironman in two weeks instead of a full Ironman.

That may be my perfectionist nature, though. I’m not very good at being bad at things. So much so that I won’t even play sports I don’t think I’m any good at. Game of tennis during a picnic? Nope. Kick an Aussie Rules football? No chance. So the last twelve months has been really difficult. Let’s face it – having to tell the world about how much you suck every week sure hasn’t helped either.

But now the game has changed. My long sessions are done. The goal now is to rest up and do just enough to keep the system ticking over smoothly. One of the biggest problems tapering for an endurance event is that aerobic fitness starts detraining very quickly – like within 24 hours. Compared to strength, which can take up to three weeks to begin that decline, if you want to perform your best on race day you need to keep moving.

But the sessions are shorter to allow for recovery now. That’s great as it allows you to actually begin feeling your fitness. Under normal training the fog of fatigue is often so dense you may feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Only once you’ve recovered and rested will you start to see the benefits of all that training.

The down side to tapering, for me at least, is that I’ve become very used to eating anything I want. But taking the advice I got when I had my body fat and VO2 tested, I cut out a lot of the junk I was enjoying and my weight has dropped to 81kg – the lowest it’s been in fifteen years.

Here’s some simple math for you based on my marathon. I dropped 3kg. At 1200 steps per kilometer and three times body weight per step that means that my body will have to endure 453,600kg less force. With all the issues I’ve had with my lower legs over the last twelve months that seems like a pretty good thing to me.

My body has adapted well over the last few weeks. My biggest ride has been six hours. On the weekend I rode five and felt like the whole thing was easy, and even got off the bike feeling fresh. It wasn’t easy at the time but my body wasn’t destroyed like it had been the week before – that’s a good training plan in action.

But now as the hours of training come down I need to be fussier with my eating. Fewer hours training, but my metabolism is still racing along and that means I have many opportunities to overeat. That’s the funny thing about tapering – you can’t make yourself perform any better at this point, but you can sure mess it up. I could overeat and gain a stack of weight. Or I could panic about my fitness and go out and do one last big run or ride leaving me fatigued. Tapering is kind of like religion, in a way – you need to have faith.

There’s not too much else to report at this stage. One thing I do need to do is thank the team. For an individual sport there have been a lot of people who have helped out along the way:

  • 2XU
  • Pro-Motion Bicycles in Ormond (and Giant Bicycles)
  • Ian Nathan
  • Anne Davies
  • Matt Hopkinson
  • Mary Kinch
  • Andrew Lock
  • And everyone else who has put up with me being generally useless over the least few weeks.

C’mon body. It’s two weeks to go. You can do this. One more big dance and I promise I won’t do anything too stupid to you for the rest of the year.