Sunday, 9 March 2008


When your end goal is a test of endurance so extreme that it is deemed an 'ultra' endurance event it makes sense that you develop your ability to endure. The last 16 weeks have been all about this and with a bit of luck I seem to have survived :) At the moment people are regularly asking me how my training's going and the honest answer is 'great'... BUT... it's easy to be in awesome shape in March, the key is building on that for another 16 weeks in order to peak in July... and crucial to that is surviving the journey.

Today was, I think, my fourth century ride of this training block and the final one where completion was the name of the game. Over the winter months the weather tends to be harsh enough that in order to make these rides possible so many extra layers are required (especially with my rubbish circulation) that access to food is largely restricted to 'pit-stops' and you're so weighed down that any form of speed is severely limited. I use them therefore as lessons in endurance, in the truest sense of the word...

"The act of bearing or suffering; a continuing under pain or distress without resistance, or without being overcome; sufferance; patience."

It's easy really, just pick some hardcore winter weather (although seasonable this tends to be in plentiful supply in Yorkshire from December-March) and combine with a suitably challenging bike route over suitably baron and harsh landscapes (available all year round in the Dales). Get from A to B in one piece and then kick back with a well earned Honey Stinger natural protein bar and a piping hot mug of decaf coffee ;) The more you can endure and suffer now, the stronger you will be come race day... both mentally and physically. You may have heard the saying 'pain is weakness leaving the body'... I prefer the more positive stance of 'pain is strength entering the body'. This can be mental and/or physical and today's 105 miles through sleet, rain and driving wind provided seven hours of both... tomorrow I will wake up significantly 'stronger'.

The one downside to all this however is fatigue and I am beginning to loose the ability to raise my heart rate to 'race-pace'... a potential problem with the first big race of the season, the infamous and aptly named Ballbuster duathlon, coming up in six days... this week therefore will see a serious drop in volume and a slight increase in intensity with the aim of sharpening up enough to see just how strong I am. The Ballbuster was my first ever multisport event and has seen me progress from 3.29 in November '05 to 3.09 in November '06 and then to 2.58 (and 3rd overall) in March '07... Saturday's target?? If (and it could be a big 'if') the weather is favourable I would hope for something around 2.52-2.53 as proof that I have 'endured' just the right amount over the last four months ;) Watch this space...

I am still keeping my training diary on paper but the way I was uploading it on to here proved way too time consuming, as soon as I work out a more efficient method I'll backdate it... for those interested in the stats this week saw 12k of swimming, 168 miles of riding (including turbo work) and 66 miles of running (my biggest ever I think) which took a grand total of 24 hours. With the run being my key focus this year, the Ballbuster being a 'runners' race and the London marathon only five weeks away, coupled with some crazy-bad weather up this way I decided to run run run this week :)

See you next week,


p.s. Nearly forgot... today's photo is Ernest Shackleton's ship 'The Endurance', to cut a long story short Shackleton's ill-fated trip to the South Pole inadvertently became the greatest most 'ultra' feat of endurance ever... click here.


Jevon said...

Great work, Tom. Awesome at 24 hours and, knowing you, every minute of every hour will have been made to count. Ease off a little and let the quality come rushing back for the Ballbuster. Good luck. J.

Brian said...

What always strikes me about Shackleton is that first, he never gave up, and second he didn't lose a single man. Something to truly admire. Meanwhile, ease off a little; fingers and toes crossed for the Ball buster! Love, Pops.

Tom said...

Jevon... thanks mate, they were a pretty good 24 hours actually :) I'm really looking forward to hitting the redline on Saturday ;)

Dad... When the going gets tough I'll be thinking of that long treadmill session that you helped me get through in Whistler ;)