Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 40 – The Last Week

Just one week until Ironman. After months of training twice daily it’s a bit of a shock to find yourself sitting around, but I’ve actually had some promising training sessions this week.

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 40: The Last Week

One week to find out exactly how much fitness I’ve stored in my body. One week until I have a crack at what is supposed to be the hardest one-day fitness challenge on the planet. It better be a good week this week then.

Tapering is always funny. To start with, you’re glad to reduce the workload. But then your body starts to feel the effects of all the training you’ve accumulated. During this time you kind of wind down and don’t have the same adrenal output you do under normal training so you start to feel sluggish. Maybe, because of the reduced workload, you start to stiffen up a bit. After months of training twice daily it’s a bit of a shock to find yourself sitting around not training.

To add to the feelings of fatigue I’ve gone off my secret addiction – energy drinks. It’s not like I have ten a day as I always stick to the recommended amount of two per day as a maximum (and I don’t drink any other caffeinated products so have no other stimulants in my diet). So right now I’m really sluggish. Today I took two naps and that’s pretty much my plan for most of the week. I get up early – about 4:30am – and eat and move around a bit, train the 6:00am session then head back to bed for a little bit. Then do more work and nap again about lunchtime before training in the afternoon.

Everything is starting to show signs of being there. I had a good run on Saturday which was a small personal record over 10km – even though I was breathing nasally only for the entire time. It still wasn’t “fast” but it was fast for me. My last decent ride was hampered by bad weather so I did a three-hour trainer ride. While I felt good it’s hard to gauge anything from it.

My plans for the week include napping, staying off my feet, drinking a lot of water, and eating clean. I’m not avoiding adding carbohydrates, but with a smaller training load I just don’t need them. Muscles can only store so much fuel anyway and my diet is full of enough carbs that I shouldn’t need to add any.

The carb loading thing can be a massive payoff if you get it right, but the reality for me is that it could also be a massive disaster. Carbohydrate is stored in water in the body so it could cause me to add unnecessary water weight or even just to feel full and bloated, which makes running uncomfortable. My biggest fear, and one which any runner will have had at some point, is having to run while in gastrointestinal distress. The marathon alone is daunting enough let alone trying not to suffer some kind of catastrophic code brown.

So that’s it. Next time you hear from me hopefully I’ll be an Ironman and I can finally have a week off.

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