Steve Ridley - ETU Middle Distance Championship

Part 1 of Steve's write up of his Age Group Bronze at the ETU Middle Distance Championships in Herning

Taken from Steve's Blog

The time has come... - 8th June 2017

So, the time has finally come. As I write this, I am sat on flight BA0804 from London Heathrow to Billund, ready to take on the best of Europe at the ETU Middle Distance Championships at Challenge Herning. I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect back over the journey that’s got me here, and lay out what I’m expecting from the day itself…hopefully that extra accountability of it being out in the public domain will spur me on that extra couple of percent during the race!

Ever since posting my best ever time over the 70.3 distance at Ironman 70.3 Vichy in August 2016, this has been in my sights, with my training becoming increasingly focussed towards it from the moment that I found out that I had made the team in November. Without doubt, this is my A race for the year.

At work, our CEO often recites the phrase (which I’m pretty sure he’s borrowed from a leader of a tech firm) that ‘what got us here won’t get us there’, and that’s very much the approach I took with my training over winter. Through the whole of my triathlon ‘career’ so far, I have been self-coached; making sure that I managed to fit in a few sessions of each discipline each week, and trying to make sure I mixed it up between low and high intensity, but with no real plan or structure to it. 

Having qualified for the European Championships, I didn’t want to just be there to make up the numbers. I wanted to be in a position to be toeing the line knowing that I was in with a chance of competing at the sharp end. I knew that carrying on in the same routine wasn’t going to cut the mustard, so I decided that this was the time to take on a coach.

I did a bit of research around different coaches, their styles,  and the formats in which they deliver their coaching, and had a few Skype calls to try and suss out the personal interaction side of things. I ultimately opted for Streamline Coaching, and Steve Mott. Whilst Steve’s is a fledgling coaching career, this was one of the attractions for me; I wasn’t just going to be another number, and as he is based local to me, the face to face interaction I felt would be valuable to me.

Very quickly, I enjoyed the specificity of the sessions, particularly on the bike. It was a lot of time spent on the turbo over winter (which I grew to tolerate), but rather than just doing intervals of ‘hard’ or ‘moderate’ effort, I was working to specific numbers, and was getting used to interpreting both my heart rate and power numbers. As a result, I found my bike strength coming on a lot more than in previous years, where I’ve always been an average cyclist.

I also tried to make sure that I was focussing a lot more on my swimming, trying to make sure that I was getting at least two sessions a week in, but three or four where at all possible. Steve is from a swimming background, and it was particularly helpful to get a few sessions with him poolside in early on. That and my regular coached sessions with Tri2O have really helped with my technique, and I’m now swimming in much faster lanes at the sessions that 12 months ago.

I managed to take myself away for a training week to Mallorca towards the end of March, which I was able to focus on nothing but eating, sleeping, and training. Cycling over there is obviously fantastic, and the hotel that I stayed at had a lovely 25m outdoor pool, and is right on the bay in between Alcudia and Port de Pollensa, so there’s a nice, flat (if windy) loop to run. That week continued to build my bike strength in the ‘real world’ especially.

A slight set back came my way immediately after Mallorca, though. I’m still not entirely sure how, but I managed to tweak something in my ankle whilst travelling back, and over the first couple of days back in the UK, it was really sore walking, let alone running. I backed off a bit, but was worried that I’d lose all of the progress that I’d made. To start with, even cycling was sore, but soon that came back, and it was just running that was off the cards. Another couple of weeks of no running seemed to sort the worst of it. It’s still not 100%, but it is pretty much there, and definitely manageable.

The final 5 or 6 weeks leading to now have been about testing where I am, and making sure that I’m as set as I can be, and that has gone really well. It started off with the Beale Beastie on 7th May, where I came 2nd (and possibly/probably should have won - see my last post!) and continued with some key brick sessions and race simulations. The brick sessions especially have given me a huge amount of confidence; I have been able to hold good power on the bike (typically 250-270W for 90 minutes) followed by running at solid pace - able to hold my standalone half marathon pace (5:40/mile) for up to 6 miles pretty comfortably, despite not fuelling/hydrating quite to the same level I will on race day.

So, I’m heading to Herning feeling pretty confident. I’m aiming to shave a considerable chunk off my time from Vichy (which was 4:35), and would love to be hitting 4:15, which I think is achievable if I can hold 250-260W on the bike, and run a 1:20 HM. Vichy was incredibly hot, which is something that I won’t have to contend with here, and I’m also in much better shape, especially on the swim and bike. I’m really gunning for a top 5 in my AG, and possibly a podium position. I’ll be laying everything on the line to get it.