After qualifying for the Standard Distance Duathlon European Championships in 2017 following my race at Anglian Waters Duathlon in February this year, I was introduced to Steve Mott to put together a programme to support a possible second qualification for 2016 via Windsor Duathlon.
I've run consistently for over 13 years (12 marathons, 1 ultra and a number of races half marathon distance and below) but I only took up the bike a few years ago and three bikes later and a few successful Duathlons, and I'm hooked.
I needed Steve's expertise to carefully combine the two disciplines. This is something I struggled with alone and often felt exhausted trying to combine sessions. I found a training plan beneficial and easy to fit around a full time job. The variety of sessions (a combination of turbo sessions, 5/10k race pace runs, speed work, longer rides and weekend brick work) prevented any boredom setting in. The revelation to me was the multiple brick varieties; run-bike-run-bike-run or bike-run-bike and the weekly heavier emphasis of one discipline over another (bike or run focus, not both). All of this ensured fitness was built without excessive exhaustion and where required, tapering allowed me to feel refreshed for race day.
The training had gone really well but as we all know, on race day, performance is as much psychological as it is physical. I kept Chrissie Wellington's quote on my Duathlon Pintrest Board to remind me,
"It's when the discomfort strikes that one realises a strong mind is the most powerful weapon of all."
In many ways my mind let me down and my race did not match training performance.
My usual 6:35/40 paced runs were now 6:55-7:15 despite the fact, the pressure of qualification was not as great and Windsor Park has been my training ground for 13 years with Runnymede Runners. The 10k was a hilly mixture of road/off road running.
I have to add, this was just the running and something to improve upon for my next race. I always feel confident on the bike, particularly a route I'm familiar with. I felt the hill work and progression turbo sessions in training had really supported the extremely hilly nature of these four 10k laps. Despite the feet of climbing being 1/3 more than Anglian Waters, I was actually faster (18.3mph in Anglian Waters and 18.5mph at Windsor).
The final 5k is always a mental challenge, despite this one being relatively flat, two out and back loops of a section of Long Walk.
2:37 was my final time. 10th lady in my age group and 6th GB qualifier (so awaiting news of a potential drop down places this year).
For Windsor, this is their first attempt at a Duathlon, the run and bike courses were brilliant but the transition requires a rethink as it was excessively muddy and the bike/run in/out very long. Let's hope the necessary changes are made because it has real potential as a GB qualifier.
Only a few days after the event, I feel lost without the discipline of coaching and will certainly get back (after a little time out, I've been training consistently since last November so I feel it's somewhat overdue!) to for my future events, particularly the European Qualification and dipping my toe into the triathlon world in 2017 too with some swim lessons.
I don't think anyone prepares you for what a coached period gives you. Despite my own experience of concocting training for myself, it does not compare to the knowledge you walk away with regarding combining sessions, nutrition, testing capabilities, injury prevention (6 months ago, I never used to warm-up!) and understanding what works for you.