Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Opportunities & Excuses

A quick post from the last few days spent on the road. Work, as ever, trying its best to get in the way of the more important things....
Fresh out of a warm bed on Tuesday I find myself stood in front of the shower, my body rejecting the will to step under the noticeably colder than normally cold water. It's clearly been a chilly night out, and I have spied the first frost of the year on the car roof from the bedroom window. The water running through the pipe has soaked up the cold before entering the home. Sarah pushes me in the back and under the water I go. 

I stand and shower for 3 minutes. It is what it is. Aside from distracting myself with shouts of my childhood hero, He-Man..... 'BY THE POWER OF GREY SKULL' & holding my toothbrush like a sword as I bellow "I HAVVEEEE THE POWERRRRRRR" (and imagining Titch the Dog turning into Battle-Cat) to distract my mind from the iciness I am quiet. It is hard to keep my mouth closed and breath only through my nose. I've found a new sub challenge within the shower called silence. Game on.

Then it's into the car and a series of appointments through-out the day. As I drive between meetings I touch base with 4 athletes under my care, and go through various aspects of their current training. I'm particularly impressed with 2 of them who are new to The Program, and have managed to drag themselves out in the frost and the fog before dawn for pre work runs. They are committed and dedicated and I am proud of them. They show motivation and desire to succeed. In turn this motivates me because I cannot ask anything of others I will not do myself. 

11hrs later my working day is finished & I'm sat in a funny little B&B with Alfredo and Liz, owners of The Summerfields guest house, Hastings. Alfredo makes me a drink while he prepares their tea and quizzes me politely over my travels that bring me into their home. They are a warm and friendly couple, married 38 years. Here is where the 'excuses' start to play in my mind.

I'm on my last day now of 3 weeks building volume. My body is tired. The day has been long. I'm away from home, and it would be so easy to start my rest week a day early. Who would know? I don't have my turbo, my usual run routes are out of the question, it's cold, dark and raining. I haven't eaten.... These excuses play in my mind telling me to let any form of training slide. 

Then I remember my fellow Working Class Triathletes who turned out this morning because my plan suggested they do so. I consider the thought I just had 'who will know?' and realise this is stupid thinking. It's not who will know, it's who will care? Of course -  Nobody is the answer, nobody except me that is, come bed time when I regret being lazy. 

With that the excuse of not being at home in my regular routine turns into an opportunity. I have the night to myself, no food to prepare, no jobs to do. I have a pair of trainers, I have my running gear. All I need to do is get my backside into gear. This should be easier than ever to fit in.  I petition my host for a map and plan my route to the beach front.

A quick change into my run gear, and FaceTime later to the family, and I am waved out the front door to the shaking head and amusement of Alfredo as I push into the rain and begin belting down a hill from the B&B towards the sea. It's dark, it's lashing down and it's cold, but after about a mile of steep downward strides and the realisation I'll have to push myself back up there before I'm finished I find myself in the shingle of Hastings promenade. I quickly decide I'm running the full length of it. As far as I can there and back in a circuit. I'm here, I've bothered, best do it justice and cover some ground. I'll focus on technique and enjoy it. Approximately every half mile I swap between the promenade and the sand and shingle. It is incredibly difficult going down on the beach proper, and this gives my legs a thorough work over. Then back to the concrete and concentrate on technique. Repeat.

 There are plenty of other runners out in-spite of the weather, and I enjoy the silent solidarity we share. Joining in with the locals makes it fun, experiencing their every day training ground. I notice some faded spray lines on the floor in places marked 'Start' 'Fun Run', '1/2' and realise they must run a marathon here in the summer. I try to visualise the sunny day, the buzz and the fuss. The cheering crowds. It is easy to see it would be a popular event.
After the promenade it's back up that hill. This burns, but is a great opportunity to study position. I don't often get the chance to run up a hill so steep, looking at the stats after I see it was an elevation gain of 137ft in 0.51miles. Running up hill forces me to lean forward, work off the ball of my foot, increase cadence and really maximise the push off with each full extension of the leg, fully exerting myself with every stride behind me. A great way to end the run. My heart is pounding in my chest, its not exactly scientific and not what is needed at this time of year, but hey, sometimes you have to go with what feels right. I've bagged 8.28 Miles on a 6:35 min mile average, I'm well pleased with that.

Run stats breakdown.
After that attention turns back to the shower - again an excuse raises its head, nobody will know if I skip one. The thing is again, nobody will care. This is the perfect opportunity to test my resolve. I steel myself not to make a sound, submerge myself under its ample flow - and enjoy it. I do actually enjoy it. I am warm from the run, and it cools me beautifully. More than that I have managed it when there is no danger of being caught out if I had cheated. I am glad to have not let myself down.

That kind of behaviour deserves a reward. I head out to find food.

Finding a little fish restaurant in the Old Town, and a waiter prepared to set a table for one, taking pity on the lonely and starving traveller, I devour a mussel chowder starter and then enjoy my sirloin blue, with tiger prawn surf. Back to the B&B for a straight 8hrs sleep.
6am. Up and at them, the shower is ticked off first thing. It feels almost illicit that my hosts have no clue that I am showering so brutally. Like I am abusing their facilities and they are non the wiser. I enjoy leaving the dial at 0. Will they question it after I have gone?
Meandering back via appointments I intersperse my journey between professional conversation and a few quick hello's with friends. A colleague calls, and after a cursory work chat he side swipes me with the query 'What's this about Cold showers then, I hear you're obsessed?' I enthusiastically explain the logic and motive and try to recruit him. He sounds unconvinced, but I am chuffed that there is ground swell, and people are intrigued. As ever I find talking to friends incredibly motivating to hear the different training and experiences they have to relay. I am also convinced by a mate to join him at a male only Pilates class tomorrow. I know I have lost my suppleness these last few years so it will be a humbling experience, something new to challenge myself with, and hopefully improve my fitness further.
Several friends have also reported back that they have quietly been trying the showering to see what the fuss is about. They all confirm it is harder than they expected. This makes me smile because I also have my eldest now attempting it with her morning shower. She is down to number 2 and then 1 for the full 2 minutes. She is doing well. Often children are so much more accepting and resilient than adults.
Lunch these last few days has been a feta and a medley of beans affair. It reminds me of Sarah.

Lunch : A super bean feast.

This sets me up nicely for arriving home and catching up with the family. We sit around the table and enjoy tea together. Everyone jibbering and jabbering about the last few days. Its good to be home.
A busy few days that further prove to myself that it is all about how much you want something, not making excuses, but finding time to fit things in and make what you have work to your benefit.
After tea, there's time for half an hour catch up and a cup of tea on the sofa with Sarah, and it's back out of the door for swim training. As a rule I swim 7 -8pm alone. I can control the set and do what I need. Tonight is about paced endurance, with the following set:
  • 1000m a best even pace.
  • 1000m negative splitting each 250m, but trying to hold an even pace for each 250m. It is surprisingly difficult to gauge the extra sustainable effort required on an even basis over the distance.
  • 400m swam as 25 Max effort, 25 easy.
  • 200m easy.
Straight off the back of that set it is 8 - 9pm swimming with the club. While you never know what the set will comprise it is a good opportunity to swim with others, enjoy the club, and mix things up. Ella also swims with the club, and it has been a joy to see her get stuck in and improve over the months, making friends with people of all ages and abilities. The club has been nothing but a positive experience for her, giving her confidence both in herself, her abilities as an athlete and her social skills. I am particularly grateful to the club for that, and the way they have taken her into their ranks. 
Tonight the club set - usually a balanced and pleasant affair, can best be summarised as just over 1 mile of kicking hell. By the end of the 200m dolphin kick on back with arms extended out of the water towards the end, I can only describe my abs and thighs as destroyed.
After the punishment was over it was straight to the now obligatory cold shower. This time we were joined by 4 other team members. This cold shower lark is catching on.
And so I'm in bed. Tired but satisfied, and secretly pleased that tomorrow does not require a pre work brick.