Team SportPursuit – Ironman UK – Troy Squires

All the latest from Team SportPursuit Ironman athlete Troy Squires, as he prepares to take on the Ironman Bolton:

 

 

29th July 2013 – 5 Days Remaining

Let the games begin.

Welcome to race week. 6 days and BANG goes the starter’s gun. At this point in the Ironman process, it’s all about the mind and a good performance at this week’s Mind Games can set you up really well for race day.

The training is done. Nothing you physically do now is going to make any difference. It’s for this very reason that I turn to mental preparation in the days leading up to an Ironman.

 

Panic Training

Don’t. If you think you’re under prepared, consider it a positive. You’re far better off going into an Ironman on fresh legs. You have months of training behind you – if you don’t believe that, consult your training diary. Seriously, just take a look at the miles you’ve logged. It can be quite the motivator. This week is about giving your body rest so it’s gagging to go on race day. Think of this week as an arrow. It’s been built, now you just need to keep the tip sharp and out of harm’s way until you fire it on race day.

 

Visualisation

In the sessions you have planned this week, use this time to picture yourself in race situations. Place yourself in the water. Imagine the situation in your head. Remind yourself of what you need to be focusing on in the race (stroke rate/catch/pull/sight/relaxed breathing/swim long). Remind yourself that you’ll be nervous (nerves are good, they keep you alert). Remember nervousness will turn to excitement. Allow yourself to feel excited. It’s one hell of an experience.

Plan things to think about on the bike and run. A mantra; special people; your form. Keep the best bits for when times get toughest. Plan for an emotional rollercoaster. Know there’s going to be times where you’ll have to have stern words with yourself. Plan that speech.

Rehearse in your head what you’ll do in T1, T2 or if you puncture. This prep helps you keep calm should you be faced with a difficult situation.

Dream of the finish. See that red carpet. Allow yourself to feel the wash of emotion you’ll experience when you know you’re going to finish this beast.

 

Phantom Pains

You’ll get them. You’ll be walking a flight of stairs and suddenly think – what’s that ache in my knee? It’s only natural. It’s like when you’re buying a new car, you suddenly see the model you like EVERYWHERE. Your mind is razor sharp at this point and very much in tune with the body. You’ll overthink every sensation. Don’t dwell on these sensations.

 

Taper-nitis

Possibly the hardest mind game to control. Am I getting sick? I feel so sluggish. My legs are so lethargic. Stop worrying – it’s tapering. Keep sensible – wash your hands regularly. Avoid public gatherings if you can. But ultimately, just go about life like normal. You’ll look stupid walking around in bubble-wrap.

 

Race List

Source or create a race checklist. Use this week to get your kit together. Trust me, pulling everything together settles the mind. Don’t leave everything to the last few days. It overloads the brain. Time will run out or get filled by something else. Use the spare time (because you’re NOT training as much) to prepare.

 

You

Focus on yourself this week. Another week of being selfish won’t kill anyone. Eat well (don’t try anything new), get your bike sorted, kit packed, mind ready. Sleep. Get as many hours as you can. Set ‘get to bed’ deadlines. Sleep now becomes THE most valuable commodity. Work will try and stress you out. Don’t let it. Be honest with colleagues. Tell them this is the week you can’t be pulling your hair out.

 

Get Familiar

Read the race manual. (Remember all that spare time you’ll have not training?) Read it a few times if you can. Trying to cram in all the info the night before is useless. Knowing the course in your head will help. Picture milestone points on the map. Do the visualisation bit. How are you going to feel at 30km into the run?

Knowing the course detail is especially important on a course with laps. Know how it works. Do I collect rubber bands? How many, where? Knowing this detail on the day is priceless. There’s nothing worse than doubt/panic during the race. 

Try Relaxing

All of the above seems like you’re going to be busy 24/7. Make time to relax. Read a book, watch a silly movie. Anything to take your mind off the race. When lying in bed, the visualisation stuff really helps. See yourself running relaxed. Biking smooth.

How do you eat an elephant?

Bite by bite.

Don’t think of the race as a whole. Break it into bits. Don’t get overwhelmed. This is more an actual what-to-do-in-the-race, but you’ll start thinking of the race in whole terms before Sunday. Don’t worry about it. Little by little you’re going to get to the finish.

 

Now’s it’s time for me to practice what I’ve preached. I can’t wait to race. Kona or bust. 

 

 

9th July 2013 – 25 Days Remaining

NEW TOYS!
I’ve had the same race bike since my first IM in ’09 (Bolton), so I decided it was time to splash out a little. Not only has it improved my ride, it’s provided me that extra little bit of motivation. Feel fast, ride fast. It’s the very reason I always have a haircut in race week.
I can’t emphasise enough how important a decent bike fit is. A couple years ago I visited Freespeed and haven’t looked back since. I did an Ironman without a bike fit. I did my next having had a bike fit. Chalk and cheese. With new bike in tow, I visited Richard at Freespeed again to make sure the new bike was properly dialled in. Comfy as being sat on the couch.
So this week, not only did a new bike arrive, but the kind people at SportPursuit sent some goodies too. I’ve never owned a video camera, let alone a waterproof, attaches-to-pretty-much-anything, one. I’ve had loads of fun already trying out different things while riding, so hopefully I’ll be able to cobble something together soon to share.
It’s been another consistent week of training with a hard brick session rounding out the week. The 120km/20km brick is a TOUGH session but nobody ever said it’s easy to get to Kona. I’m really grateful to do most of my weekend sessions with friends. It adds a social element to training that’s really important to me.
Anyhoo, must go, I’ve got new toys to play with!

 

3rd July 2013 – 31 Days Remaining

That’s more like it. The next four weeks are crucial and I wanted to kick them off with a really solid week. Make no mistake, I’m a ‘social’ trainer. I despise training solo. Thankfully two good friends and fellow Black Line London teammates are also doing Ironman UK so I joined then whenever possible, ensuring I banked a great week of training.
I like to kick a week off with a solid swim session and I did just that. The Tooting Bec Lido is a stellar facility – 91m long, not heated, and never rammed. I think the cold water has something to do with this. But the cold H2O makes for perfect wetsuit swimming.
An even better training ground comes in the form of Richmond Park. I’ve spent YEARS of my life in this haven. Never an enjoyable session but a crucial one, the TT. 3 laps (32km) against the clock with a LOT of ouch factor. It’s an excellent way to track performance and know ‘where you’re at’. It provides the perfect environment for brick sessions. The car turns into T2, housing nutrition (and a safe place to keep the bike) that can be accessed as often as your plan allows. Plenty of toilets and water stops in tow along the feet friendly Tamsin Trail that runs around the circumference of the park.
Another area of consistency that’s returned is my commute. I always tell people starting out, use your commute to keep fit. It’s dead time. The perfect time to use your feet (running or riding) to get from A to B. Using your commute as a training session means it doesn’t feel like training. Particularly if you use it to get home. Walk in the door and that’s it. Guilt-free couch time for the rest of the evening *smug face*.
The weekend saw me return to Bolton. I did my first ever Ironman here in ’09 and I was back to refresh my memory and recce the bike course. It’s not a crucial exercise for someone doing their first IM, although it’s hugely beneficial, but when it comes to trying to qualify for Kona, in my opinion, compulsory. Aside from the psychological  advantage, knowing what’s coming up, what gear to be in when, etc. saves minutes.
Suffice to say, my body is feeling the load but it’s ‘simply’ a matter of ticking the sessions off until August 4th.
Someone told me the harder I push now, the easier race day becomes. We’ll see…

27th June 2013 – 37 Days Remaining

 
Returning from my stint working at the Deloitte Ride Across meant hopefully a return to some consistent training. Unfortunately an unwelcome guest turned up at the same time – the dreaded lurgy.
Ironman training is a constant balancing act. Not only family, work and friends but the fine line between health and sickness. We push our bodies constantly meaning we’re only one germ infested journey away from the wheels falling off. We can do many things to prevent illness but essentially we’re never immune.
I find the best way to deal with illness is acceptance. Once I’ve done this, I can focus on other areas that’ll help me recover quicker. Anxiety about being ill will only make you worse.
Nutrition – eat well. Load up on nutritious food. Treat your body like a temple.
Sleep – the body repairs most at Club Duvet. Add more hours to your usual amount of sleep. When possible, nap.
Plan – don’t panic. Training will need to be adjusted but do just that, adjust your plans. Don’t try cram the missed training into the next week. Maybe add a few sessions in or increase a session but that’s enough.
Think positive – triathletes are obsessive. If we’re not smashing ourselves we think we’re slacking off. Think of the break as a chance for your engine to absorb the load & prepare for the upcoming onslaught.
Confidence – remain confident in the training you’ve already done. You don’t lose it. It’s been banked. A few days off isn’t the end of the world.
With the above in mind, I focused on getting back into the swing of things back at my regular day job, planned for the next few weeks ahead and got some extra zeds.

 

 

17th June 2013 – 47 Days Remaining

The past week was possibly the most ironic training week since records began. Being surrounded by bicycles 24/7, 10 days in a row, you’d think doing some training on one would come easy. Think again…

Still ‘on tour’ working at the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, the days have been long and tiring. Having to travel light means no bike or bike kit. This all means no bike training. Bike training is quite crucial to an Ironman campaign. What it’s meant is that I’ve had to improvise. Four of the Deloitte RAB overnight stops were at racecourses so I went for a gallop when time allowed. The runs were hard, firm in places…sorry.

In truth, most times after working around 12 hour days, I was simply too knackered to train. On Saturday I finally managed to locate a swimming pool in Launceston so while the rest of my colleagues watched rugby in the pub, I followed the black line. A crap swim is always better than no swim. Well, that’s at least what I told myself.

The huge positive I took from watching 500 odd absolutely knackered, rain-soaked riders cross the finish line at Land’s End yesterday was the inspiration. Witnessing first hand the raw emotion of the participants as they unclipped from their bikes has put the fire in my belly. One of the riders I got to know was using the Deloitte RAB as training for IMUK. As I pointed him in the direction of his well deserved medal, he gestured seven fingers.

7 weeks to go then…

 

 

11th June 2013 – 53 Days Remaining

Since hearing the amazing news that I’d been selected for Team SportPursuit, it’s been all systems go.

I’ve only just returned from a 3 month stay in Mallorca where I’ve been working at a triathlon camp. My season kicked off with a perfect start as I was fortunate to qualify for the World Ironman 70.3 Champs having secured a spot through roll down at the Mallorca Ironman 70.3. The pipeline dream is to qualify a Kona slot at Ironman UK (Bolton) and ‘do the double’.

As we all know, triathlon can become a rather expensive sport so finding work on my return became priority number one. As I write, I’m currently working on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain (RAB), helping set up each of the overnight stops for 650 odd riders. We’re on day 4 of 9, having spent the past few days in stunning Scotland.

RAB day 2 finished in beautiful Fort William at the foot of Scotland’s highest peak – Ben Nevis. Only being able to run while here working, I decided to make my way up Ben Nevis and see how far I’d get in 45 minutes. As this time approached, hands on knees marching up the gravel switchbacks, I asked a group of hikers how far it was to the top. I was at the halfway point. Then and there I knew I wanted to reach the summit. I was extremely lucky as the weather was absolutely perfect. No wind, clear skies and relatively warm.

1 hour 28 minutes later, standing in shin deep snow, I was at the top of Scotland. Breathtaking.

The descent proved loads of fun having to cross a few snow fields. I was still manically excited about what I’d just done which made me bound down with an extra spring in my stride.

I reached the campsite with 2 hours 35 minutes on the Garmin. The smiling still hasn’t stopped.

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