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To train or not to train? To train, obviously

Submitted by Paul Clare, Flaman Fitness, Victoria

To train or not to train? To train, obviously


When I started my journey into the triathlon world a year ago, I was already a seasoned full/half marathon runner one of the main lessons drummed into my head was the importance of consistency in training.

So, this off-season, I've decided to really make an attempt to run with this idea (pun intended) and up the regularity of training, regardless of whether the mileage increases as a result.

Like most amateur triathletes, this means fitting sessions in around work and particularly training before getting to the office. In his book, Be Iron Fit, tri coaching guru Don Fink asks that athletes commit to training everymorning for three weeks before assessing whether this regime is right for them or not.

In the main, he says, most continue, having got used to the early mornings. I can't say I ever really believed this would work, but after a month I'm starting to get antsy about the very notion of sacking off a session. Where in previous years the lure of remaining in a warm bed overcame all half-hearted training plans, now I can't bear the thought of breaking my good run of training.

In fact, the startling training conclusion forming is not one of improved performance – though swimming couching has certainly help me lay a foundation for a better season in 2016 – but in the emergence of an addiction to training.

Despite the questionable mental healthiness of such a pattern, there are loads of pros to early morning training every day. Somewhat counter intuitively to the uninitiated, it's definitely a boost to overall energy levels. There's also a fantastic sense of satisfaction that the day's training is done and that less motivated colleagues were still in bed while you were out pounding the pavement.

Perhaps the biggest benefit though is scheduled rest days: those wonderfully guilt free lie-ins; being able to eat what you want and having whole hours normally spent training to become reacquainted with the Xbox or iPlayer, and all because of consistent training.

It must be said that there are downsides associated with such an addiction to training though. Early nights become a must, and you can also expect food expenditure to increase exponentially as you add second breakfast, brunch and afternoon tea to your eating schedule to satisfy your fuel cravings.

Speaking to other athletes who have taken the plunge into being paid up members of tri training addicts anonymous, I have to say that I'm also quite glad to not yet be at the stage where a weekend away means absolutely having to take the bike to get a quick hour in before breakfast. But I'm not that far off.

The strange thing about my sport is that it rewards such obsessive behaviour. To the point of overtraining, the more you put in with triathlon, the more you get out. During races there are no team tactics and aside from those vying for the top spots, most are only competing against themselves, looking to go one better than last time.

This sense of self-improvement is therefore pervasive in triathlon, hence the sight of the regular addicts at the pool who seemingly live in the water, unwavering in their commitment to triathlon and the attainment of the slightest gains. For me, it's the feeling of knowing I've put in the hours and raced as hard as possible, regardless of the actual result.

So the real question is, is it worth committing to training and dragging myself out of bed every morning just to move up a couple of places in the middle of the results spreadsheet? Absolutely.