To go short or longer, that is the question for my triathlon pals
As some people might know, I have thrown myself into a year of triathlons. Having only ever completed in a handful of sprint triathlons and one standard (Olympic-distance) triathlon in my eight-year career as a sort-of triathlete, I will now bid for an age-group place at the World Triathlon Championships.
The World Champs take place annually at the end of the triathlon season, and this year will be located in London. (Last year, it was New Zealand and tri pal the Ginger Prince competed to come home a very respectable 19th in his 30 to 34 age group.)
Competing in age groups of four-year gaps gives everyone a much more even opportunity. But to gain a place on the Great Britain team in the World Champs you first need to qualify.
This year’s qualification events in the UK take place in June and I have already entered the three Sprint qualifiers and one Standard qualifier. I missed out on entry for another Standard because it filled within hours of opening. The third Standard qualifier event has not yet been confirmed.
I need to gain a good position in a qualifier to win a place in the GB age group team for the World Champs. As the host nation, GB is allowed to enter more athletes than other nations. There are 25 places available per age-group. 17 automatic places are available across the three qualification races and others on a percentage results basis. So there are five to seven places at each sprint event available – and these will go to the fastest racers who have registered an interest to go to the Worlds.
Why go for the World Triathlon Championships?
Ordinarily I tend to avoid races. The make me very nervous and queasy and I end up losing sleep and my breakfast if I’m taking part in an event. But the Worlds will be in Britain this year – and I happen to tip over into the next age group.
Rather than being miserable about becoming 45, I thought I’d celebrate the achievement by joining the 45 to 49 age groupers at the younger end of the category. It has to be better than being the eldest in an age category and the whole thing is giving me something other than “becoming middle aged” to focus on.
Asking a triathlon coach for help
As luck would have it, my good friend Coach Vicky is going through her level 3 triathlon coaching qualifications just now. She needed a case study for the course work – and so I have become that very person. I do pay her for her coaching but I also feel a huge sense of obligation to make sure that her I am the best case study I can be.
I am required not only to follow her training plans as best I can but also offer feedback and progress reports. We have looked at physical ability, previous results, heart-rate, psychology, nutrition etc.
I respect CV’s advice (she won her age group at the World Champs in Canada some years ago!) and I like her coaching style.
Having a training programme is helpful for focusing my exercise regime over the chilly and low-motivation winter months. I have never spent so much time in a swimming pool nor on a turbo trainer and this winter, unlike others, I have managed to cycle outside every week. (I usually give up swimming and cycling for running in the winter).
I am actually enjoying the training far more than I imagined I would. Some days are frustrating but I don’t want to let CV down so I diligently complete training sessions and offer feedback as and when required. I hope I’m being fairly chirpy about it all and that CV is enjoying the process, too.
Outing myself as a World Triathlon Champs hopeful
So now I’ve written this on my blog, and signed up to be CV’s case study, there is no turning back. I hope to avoid major injury and I would really like to do the best I possibly can. I’ll be blogging about the training in the run up to the qualifiers – and anyone who would like to encourage me by joining my sessions please do contact me.
The final question: Do I sprint or go standard?
If I enter the sprint qualifiers I need to become very fast. I’m not sure my old lady legs and back are up for this kind of pain. Sprints might be shorter (750m open water swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run) but they make you puke because they are hard.
So far I only have one entry to a qualifier standard and this puts a lot of pressure on one event. (Standards are double the sprint distance). My best discipline is cycling and with a longer bike ride on the standard this might give me a small advantage in gaining a place on, or somewhere near, the podium (even as I write this I guffaw!).
What are your thoughts? Shorter and painful; longer and but maybe a little less pukey painful?