Welcome back! We’re at the end of our first 5-week training block for the Ironman Sunshine Coast 70.3 and we’re under 100 days now. Is someone fiddling with the clock back there? The days seem to be flying by and this thing is getting ever closer. This countdown is a constant battle between “what in the hell did I sign up for” and “we are doing this and LOVING it”. The pendulum between the two is pretty mentally draining to be honest. While chatting to my partner this week about my self-doubts, he said something to me that was pretty profound to me. He has his moments, but I don’t often nearly fall off the chair. He said, “I already know you’re going to be able to do this. You can either be average Elyse, above-average Elyse, or elite Elyse. You just have to choose”. And with it being as simple as that, I made my choice. This last fortnight has been pretty special, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
What we got done in the last fortnight:
5 hours – 11.25km
7hrs – 56km (blend of road and wind trainer)
4hrs 25mins – 31.3km
1hr … so many lunges
2hrs 40 mins
Ironman Cairns also took place in this last block! Shout out to Ironman who makes it possible to track athletes on the course and see live footage of the finish line. Being able to watch my RTT crew throughout the day and cross that finish line was out of this world inspiring. We had crew compete in both the 70.3 and full distance Ironman so the notifications were going off throughout the day as everyone reached different milestones. Even though I wasn’t on course to watch them, knowing where they were and how they were tracking made me feel like I could support them from afar and I must’ve driven my partner mad allllll day. “They’re in the water now!” “We’re halfway!” “Check out this split!” “Be quiet – someone’s about to cross the finish line!”. I often refer to these team members as superheroes, because their resilience and determination to get it done seems out of this world to me sometimes. But to call them superheroes actually detracts from what they really are: everyday people, mum’s & dad’s, juggling work/life/family and putting in tremendous amounts of work to achieve their goals. Doing what they did – completing Ironman whether full distance or half – is achievable. It’s achievable for those who are willing to put in the hard work to get there. I’m trying to be one of those people. And if I can cross the finish line with a big smile on my face like they did, that will be mission success.
For my next few blogs, I’m going to dive into the disciplines.
Let’s talk about RUNNING!!!
This is my favourite discipline, although if you ask my partner he’ll tell you I’m really a budding cyclist waiting to break free based on my adoration of my little Fuji roadie. But running makes my heart happy. If you ask me to get out of bed at 6 degrees and go for a run, I’ll be there with bells on. Ask me to join you for a swim …. it’s going to take some bribery. Running is also where I’ve seen a major improvement since training with Coach Stuart. Everyone has different ideas of what makes someone “fit”. I’ve always had in my mind that if you could run, you were really fit! I definitely wasn’t built like a runner though. I could trip over myself standing still, and being heavy for so long is hell on your joints, so running isn’t something I’ve ever mastered. I’ve run here and there over the years, during many phases where I tried to lose weight and get fit. About 5 years ago I managed to work my way up to a half marathon but I was still 120kg, and it took me 3.5hrs and it just about broke me. It did help me to see what you could be capable of if you put the work in though so I’ve always wanted to get back to that half marathon distance and be able to enjoy the race.
But the effort to get to that distance took a serious toll on my body and I stopped running, put on 40 kilos and ended up the heaviest I’ve ever been at 163.5kgs. I started getting serious about running again in October 2020. I worked my way back up to 5kms, joined the Parkrun circuit, and was looking at 47mins for a 5km. So I wasn’t speedy by any means, more just a cruiser out the back, taking in the scenery. I set my sights on the elusive 5km in 30mins goal. I’ve never been close to it, and how I thought I was going to achieve this was by flogging myself. I’d do 2 runs a week, all out, max heart rate, hell for leather for about 3km. Then I’d do a slower 5km run on the weekend. It was great, till I was finding it really hard to recover from. I did manage to get my time for 5km to around 35mins, but it took days to recover. Enter Coach Stuart and the “run slow to run fast” method and it’s changed everything for me. See some of the links below for more info on this style of training.
Since I’ve been working with Stuart and training in specific heart rate zones, it’s really helped me to improve my endurance. This is what building base level fitness is all about – speed is great but long course triathlon is all about endurance. The majority of my sessions are in lower heart rate zones, to build that foundation. The speed or interval work is there, but it’s a small portion of the overall picture. Every now and again I get to take my legs out for hot laps, and it’s freaking awesome to run fast again when you normally run slow but what’s really surprising to me is that when it’s go time, the speed is there. I don’t know how it works, it seems like a bit of voodoo magic to me, but the run slow to run fast method does work and I’m excited to see where we get to! Do I know what my 5km time is now? Not a clue. Does it matter? Not really! But what’s most important is the recovery. I can do a run and not feel like I’m down and out for the next few days. My body feels good and I can go again when I need to. On my interval runs, I see splits with 5’s and 6’s in front of them. I’ve never been able to run that fast in my life! So I know it’s working. And at the end of the day, I want to enjoy this sport for the long haul … and not be burnt out trying to constantly break running records and be a speedster. The speed will come, but until then, patience, Zone 2 and amazing sunrises and sunsets are my friends!
So where to from here? In the next fortnight’s block, we have Tour de Brisbane where I’ve entered the Medio 75km distance bike. I’ve never done a bike race before – I’m sure this is going to be interesting to say the least. Can I wear L plates while I’m out there?? Or maybe wrap myself in a giant bubble wrap. I told you I was clumsy right? There’s also more hills in my future and some longer training sessions to get those hours under the belt. What’s the countdown look like?
Tour De Brisbane 75km Cycle – 28 days
Jetty 2 Jetty Half Marathon – 35 days
Sunshine Coast Half Marathon – 63 days
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast – 90 days
Bring on the next fortnight of adventures!!
Until then, just keep swimming, biking and running!
Elyse is coached by Stuart Payne
Stuart has competed in triathlons from Sprint to Ironman distance. As a qualified Triathlon Australia, Australian Athletics Run Coach, and a certified Ironman coach, he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complementing other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments, etc.).
Contact Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org
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