At about 19 miles into my last marathon, the point at which you know the rest of the run is going to be hard work, I asked myself if I was really enjoying it and the answer was ‘not really’! Somehow that marathon magic that I’d always felt before had faded. After a few weeks rest and reflection I decided to put marathons on the shelf and to look for a new challenge that would hopefully bring along a new magic for me.
I’d often tinkered with the idea of triathlon but had always dismissed it a) because I couldn’t swim front crawl, b) the potential expense and c) I didn’t have a clue how to get started let alone train for one.
I asked a triathlete friend who might be able to teach me to swim front crawl and he suggested that Mike would be just the person.
And so my journey into triathlon started this time last year with a handful of 1:1 swim sessions with Mike. We went right back to basics, forgetting anything I did know about front crawl (which was very little) and started afresh. I loved it immediately – I was terrible at it but I’d found my new challenge. Mike sent me off to practise on my own in between our 1:1 coaching sessions. I hadn’t realised how much technique was involved, how hard it was going to be for me and how I was going to need to build up my swim endurance which is so very different from my run endurance experience.
I kept practicing and it wasn’t long until I was asking Mike if he’d help me move into the world of triathlon. Mike built me a training plan around my work and home life which got me out on my old hybrid bike (no fancy bikes just yet!) into the pool regularly and back into the more familiar territory for me of running.
Not once did I feel under any pressure to perform, this was all about learning, progressing and having fun in the process. I had a weekly call with Mike when we could chat about how I’d felt during the previous week’s training sessions, what had gone well and what hadn’t and decide what I should focus on the following week. One of the many skills Mike has as a coach is his quiet ability to keep me calm and measured about my training – especially the bits that haven’t gone so well – whilst keeping me focussed, on track and most of all enjoying it.
As I write, I am three weeks into a month of rest after what has been an amazingly enjoyable novice triathlon season of for me. I joined a fantastically supportive and friendly tri club with whom I have done many of my training sessions, I have bought a fancier bike (that made my husband cry but it has given me tons of pleasure!) and I can now not only front crawl but have completed four sprint distance triathlons and come first in my age category in two of them.
I’m now sitting here pondering about which events I’d like to take part in next year and genuinely looking forward to getting back to training. There are lots of areas I feel I could improve on; I’d like to improve my swimming speed and endurance, become more powerful on the bike, knock a few more seconds off my 5k time and oh, how I’d love to master the art of transitioning – I’m a bit of snail compared to others!
I suspect I have found my new ‘magic’. Those marathons may just need to stay on the shelf and collect dust.