Athlete Journal: Andrew Read – Triathlon Journal, Entry 4

There have been some changes over the last couple of weeks that have significantly changed my race plans for the next few months, but I’ve come up with a new challenge.

Click here to read other journal entries and articles by Andrew Read, and look for his new journals as he trains for not one but TWO back-to-back Spartan Races – the Spartan Beast and the Spartan Ultra Beast. 

Athlete Journal: Andrew Read – Triathlon Journal, Entry 4

There have been some changes over the last couple of weeks that have significantly changed my race plans for the next few months. For whatever reason the big Beast/Ultra Beast race event scheduled for November in Sydney, Australia had one of the days canceled.

The Sydney event was a two-stage process that I’d been working on. The first step is a week away, held on October 6th in my own city of Melbourne, and involves a Spartan Super – 14km of obstacle course fun. I’m doing that with my clients and the other two trainers who work for me. So that will be a lot of fun and provide a great experience for many of my clients who have probably never done anything like that before. Then, a month later was supposed to be the Beast/Ultra double, but now that has changed.

The event isn’t canceled completely though. There is still the option to do either the Beast or the Ultra on what would have been the first day, but there is no possibility to do both. When I started looking at costs, though, it lost a lot of its luster. For people who don’t know, everything is quite expensive in Australia. So to fly to another city, pay for two night’s accommodation, rent a car, and pay for food, was going to set me back quite a lot. Without the challenge of doing the events back-to-back it didn’t seem like a good way to spend my time or money.

That’s no slight on the event that is still being run, as I’m sure that it will be great, but when I found out that one of the days had been canceled, I felt a bit flat as I was looking for a special kind of challenge. And I found a new one for February – two half-Ironman distance races only six days apart.

I had already been signed up for the first ever Challenge Melbourne event but now have signed up for a 70.3 about an hour away. (Challenge is a rival brand to the Ironman brand, but runs events every bit as professional and demanding.)

The plan in my head went like this:

  • Short 14km obstacle race with clients in October.
  • 21km and 42km events back to back a month later in November.
  • Rebuild bike and swim fitness for half Iron-length races by February.

My rationale had been that getting ready for the Ultra Beast would put me in good shape to run a decent half marathon for the half-Iron races, and that I had more than eight weeks to get some swim and bike fitness back.

But now that has all changed and I am already back to riding and swimming more. I haven’t swum for about two months and I have barely ridden since March, as I was having a few issues with my back and needed to let it settle. Now that the pressure of an event is there I am back in the groove.

It’s depressing to remember how I was swimming and riding only a few months ago and now be struggling for what are really short workouts. My old swims were 4000+m and I’d get out feeling refreshed. I swam 1500m Monday and felt like my arms were going to fall off.

But that’s the thing about training – you always get better as long as you put in the time. Even at the top tier of performance in any sport, you can find veterans and rookies alike still improving, as long as they put in the practice time. And for people in my position, as relative newcomers to an activity, improvements come quite quickly. This time last year I was beset with all kinds of issues in my lower legs. Running was difficult because it seemed that every time I went for a run I hobbled home injured. But just with “going for an easy run” as my only training plan since Ironman, I have dropped my pace by thirty seconds per kilometer in comparison. That’s a pretty good result for training without training.

The last few months have been good, allowing me to rebuild my body after Ironman, which took about three months. I’ve been able to get some strength and movement back that I lost during the process, and keep working on my running too, without the pressure of having to do a marathon soon – meaning my Achilles problems have finally disappeared too.

The plan for training is simple, although hectic. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I do strength and swim. Tuesday and Thursday I ride and run. Saturdays I run a bit more and do some extra strength or an extra swim. Sunday I ride. Simple, not easy, and constantly working on trying to get my swim, ride, and run skills better.