The end of the road
Like any challenge in life, if your heart is not in it, the task becomes hugely more difficult. I wanted to start moving away from my extreme approach. I wanted to get back some time in my schedule, I could keep doing it forever, but I wanted to try some other things with Sarah, and there are many things to aim for in life, in and out of sport. I was also starting to suffer from recovery issues. It may have been related to nutrition/stomach issues, but I was working very hard, and not seeing improvements. Ironman Roth in July 2016 was when I decided Kona would be my last Ironman. My CTL was 175 (#if you don’t use Training peaks – this just means I was extremely fit – usually only pros get above the 170 mark) but I felt ordinary in that race. There may have been some illness going on, but regardless, I didn’t enjoy the race. In Kona in October, I crashed heavily and that became a really miserable day as well. Kona itself is a great event, but it was becoming a bit repetitive for me. The hardship was becoming less rewarding.Ironman is a great sport, a great activity for body and mind, and it’s a good way to spend money. The Ironman brand are extremely capitalist, but I guess no different from many other industries, so if you’re going to spend money on something it might as well be something that at least improves your wellbeing. Now on that subject of wellbeing, I think it’s obvious that triathlon is good for you, especially if done in moderation. My problem was (and is) just that, moderation… Going to extreme measures, it’s why I had some decent results, but I’m sure it’s also the reason I got injured, and sick along the way. Alan always erred on the safe side, I was always pushing the crazy end, and we usually met in the middle J
For me now doing 12hrs/week exercise feels easy, but as I’m always fresh (low ATL, high TSB) I feel good. To be fair it took me a good few months to deal with not being an athlete anymore, which was part of the identity that I left behind in the sport. I’m glad, and lucky that I have a challenging job to fall back on. I don’t want to get too carried away and turn it in to another Ironman, but taken in moderation, there is enough learning and development out there to satisfy some elements of the Ironman mind-set that I am leaving behind.
Apart from getting a decent fitness and health boost, this is partly a reminder for me of some of the things I went through. I started the sport to help myself through some dark times, and I enjoyed it, but it is good to look back and remind yourself that you achieved some things along the way.· 14 * Ironmans (plus Challenge Roth)
· 7 * Kona (best time 9:19, best run 2:58, best position 7th)
· 3 * sub-9 finishes (Austria, Copenhagen, Roth)
· Best time 8:49, this was the first Irish sub-9, and was the national record 2011-2013.
· Best run split 2:49
Endurance Corner and Alan Couzens
I started following Gordo Byrn and Endurance corner after hearing about them through a friend around 12years ago. The culture they project is that of long term health and fitness, not just shorter term performance. They have a huge resource of knowledge and methodology that helps people from all backgrounds and abilities, from beginners to top professionals. They have a non-aggressive, no-ego approach that was refreshing. Gordo writes in a selfless manner, tackling subjects inside and outside sport, including family and mental health issues which can affect athletes. He was an elite athlete himself, transitioned like many of us from overweight oblivion to fitness and wellbeing. His writing helped me as an athlete, and helped me deal with the transition from obsessed athlete to moderate person (work in progress :-).While reading many of their articles I was always very impressed and motivated by the writings of their chief Scientist, a tall Aussie named Alan Couzens. A modest guy with the ability to break down complicated physiological and performance theory and make them accessible. I’m from a scientific background so I especially enjoyed his blog. His ability to write about complex subjects in a clear manner was very impressive.
Eventually I started becoming more serious about my own performance. The selfishness and single minded focus was kicking in, and after briefly working with a few other coaches, I contacted Alan and was delighted when he said he could take me on. He was no disappointment. If his blogs were good, his coaching was like an enhanced version, getting detailed analysis and accurate predictions for training and race performance. A true genius, he has this ability to analyse large amounts of output data and help you appreciate how/why they could be applied to your training input. Many times I was frustrated about a training session output or performance, and he would always have the answer, without fail. He takes his work seriously and is one of the best in the world at his craft.
To Alan, Gordo, Justin and all at Endurance corner, I’ll always be thankful, and you have a life follower here.Sponsors/Family
I had many kind sponsors over the years, some longer term and some for single seasons. I’m thankful to all, but for those that were with for the longer ride, I want to say a special thanks. Champion System kept me in the best up to date race and training gear, staying with me when I was injured and going through rough patches. My friend and sports therapist Kinga (Bornemisza) has done more to keep me injury free over the years than I can thank her for. Brilliant at what she does, and modest, I will miss working with her too!I want to thank my family and especially Sarah for her patience as I followed my little selfish dream for a few years. I’m glad it was a self-improvement program or the guilt may have overcome me sooner J
Hopefully nothing extreme. I’ll always be a fan of the sport. I could watch an Ironman from start to finish, especially if I know someone racing, and I know a lot of people racing! I always loved watching IM, but since having suffered through a few of them, it is a lot more interesting knowing what those folks are going through. After 7 years racing Kona, I am looking forward to watching it again this year.
I have never ran a marathon, I’d like to experience that, and see how it feels to start one on fresh legs. I’ll keep my blog open, so that if I find myself on an adventure worth writing about, I have somewhere to put it down. Thanks to all my competitors over the years, and I hope to see you out there at some kind of event in the future!