Thinking fit world qualifier

“Forget gym membership, get a coach” is the view of 36 year-old, Dr Rachael Addicott who has just qualified for the 2013 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships (4km swim, 120km bike, 30km run), 1-2 June Belfort, France.

Rachael, originally from Melbourne, Australia has dual citizenship and has been living in the UK for eleven years. She was keen to race on an international stage, but qualifying for the Australian national team meant competing in her home country, something that Great Britain doesn’t insist on for the long distance team.

She said: “I just want to see how far I can take this. It’s a shame I can’t wear the green and gold of Australia. With the success of the Olympics and the popularity of triathlon in England at the moment, getting in to the GB team is a real achievement.”

Like many city workers, Rachael used to suffer running to try to shed the pounds and was very image conscious.

“Now I’m more interested in how my body works rather than how it looks to others. I still feel like my legs are quite big, but I am more concerned about whether they can get me up hills rather than into a pair of jeans”.

Rachael qualifies for the GB Long Distance Triathlon Team - Big Kahuna, California 2012

Rachael qualifies for the GB Long Distance Triathlon Team – Big Kahuna, California 2012

“When you work with a coach and have a plan then you are training with purpose not just jogging around a park at the same speed, frustrated at not getting any faster”.

“I used to enter events like ‘Run to the Beat’ and the ‘Nike 10k’, which are great, don’t get me wrong. But now I have a plan I’m more race focused rather than just turning up and surviving it along with thousands of others”.

Like many age-group triathletes, Rachael fits her triathlon training around a busy working life as Senior Research Fellow at The Kings Fund, a health policy think tank.

“I used to dream about being able to do a triathlon but the swimming held me back. So, when someone pointed me in the direction of city-based swim coach, Stephanie Ellis from Stroke Works, I decided to learn to swim (properly!). That was three years ago and now I’m competing on a world stage. No-one’s more surprised than me”.

“These days I’m 10 kilos lighter just from following my weekly training plan not by counting calories like I used to. I now look at the skinny girls in the city who I used to compare myself to, and just smile. As a woman, I feel very liberated by sport and as a bonus…I know that I’d kick their arse..!”

aaaarrrrggghhhhh – 2 days to go

Two days to go…

As always you have a long time to prepare and everything is in control but then nerves creep in and it feels like a rush.

During the event:

– you can follow me via a live tracking system.

– if you’re coming down to watch contact Rachael on: 07789860937

– if you’re driving down the sat nav postcode is: BH23 8EE. There is a car park for visitors. You won’t be able to use the main driveway as that will be part of the bike course. Any problems call Rachael and she’ll guide you in. BRING PIZZA..!!!

UK Deca Ironman: 4 days to go…

Use it…or, you lose it..!

As a coach, I’m all too aware of an athlete’s conditioning and I spent a lot of careful time training for this event.

I’ve been tapering for about a month now. I built my training up to a final block of eight back-to-back days that included minimum half ironman distances in each discipline.

My concern has been how long to taper without losing the accumulated fitness. In coaching terms – Reversibility.

I decided to take about a month, with shorter more power focused sessions to keep me sharp. I did the TriGrandPrix two weeks out to have one last big full throttle effort. Since then I’ve been doing more open water swimming, 10-13km runs and joining the Paragon club for low intensity aerobic rides e.g. today’s 80km.

80km club ride to turn the legs over

80km club ride to turn the legs over

UK Deca Ironman: 5 days to go…

Taking it easy today, visiting family that can’t make it down to the New Forest for the event.

Picked up a gas bottle, camping stove and fold out chairs to take down with us.

The event does provide meals but travelling to events in the past has taught me to have your own contingency plan. Managing your own food and eating at times you’re used to helps to reduce the stress the body goes through.

For this event, I’m taking all the things I normally eat but choosing the full fat, full salt versions as I’ll need to keep these stores topped up throughout the event e.g. normal crisps as opposed to reduced salt, etc.

Here’s an example of the things I was eating these weekend…

Increased fat diet...

Increased fat diet…

During ultra endurance events it becomes vitally important to maintain your fat and salt stores. Through the training I’ve been doing over the winter, I have been conditioning my body to efficiently burn fat as my primary fuel source. This is why I have become so lean.

I’ve been tracking my weight in the morning and evening (most days). My intention is to aim to be calorie neutral every day i.e. what I burn during each Ironman, I put back in by the time my head hits the camp bed each night.

During the event, as always, my focus will be to maintain a balanced diet and I intend to take additional supplements (Vitamin C, Zinc, a multi-vitamin with iron and cod liver oil) to keep my immune system in order. I don’t normally supplement as I get everything I need from managing my diet but this is no ordinary event and this is intended to be an insurance policy/safety net.

I raced the TriGrandPrix at around 66kg. Because I’m not doing the same amount of training I normally do prior to the start of the deca, my weight has increased to 68.7kg this morning 9this will rise to over 70kg by the end of the day. So, I’ll probably go in to the deca at around 70kg. It’ll be interesting to see what I come out of it weighing…

UK Deca Ironman: 10 days to go…

The countdown begins…all my big blocks of training are complete and I am tapering before the start next Friday.

The nerves are starting to grow and I am busying myself making the final arrangements (buying tyres, inner tubes, chamois cream, etc.), adding content to the blog (please ask any questions below about the event, preparation, etc.). I even tried to fix the dishwasher to take my mind off things…bad idea..!!!

Now, we wash up by hand...oops!

Now, we wash up by hand…oops!

Because the event is so long I am going to burn a lot of calories. I did a lot of base training on the bike at low intensities throughout the Winter which has conditioned my body to burn fat more efficiently. In ultra endurance events of this kind it is not carbohydrate you need to worry about but eating enough fat. Takeaway pizza is my food of choice. So if you are coming to visit me at the event bring a large pizza, bbq wings, garlic bread and a tub of Haagen-Dazs all I ask is that you do not expect me to share it.

Before big events or key races I get nervous about becoming injured. As well as the money aspect, I have been training over six months for this event and the thought of tripping on a curb, getting stepped on by a large stiletto or being hit in the achilles with a shopping trolley in the supermarket frightens me – all of these have happened in the past. I do not wrap myself in cotton wool but it is on my mind. I do not really get ill so that does not bother me as much. I put that down to a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Deca: Body Management

I am hoping to go in to the deca relatively injury free, how I come out of it is another matter.

I’ve been very careful in my build up to never push my body too far. Progressive overloading is a valuable coaching practice but knowing when to back off is equally important if you’re going to make it to the start line.

Like most people, I get pains in various places but unlike most, I never train on an injury. I’ve learned over the years that ‘running it off’ doesn’t work and can cost you severely in the long term.

My experience helps me to decide how I should manage an injury e.g. I had an inside left knee issue, which was solved by getting a bike fit (Freespeed), calve pain meant having orthotics made (The Gait Lab), an ITB issue – foam roller and more stretching.

Swimming

I used to suffer with shoulder discomfort but I’ve since out that down to a bad catch. I’ve been doing a lot of technique work throughout the Winter an attempt to improve my catch and use my back muscles more than my shoulder muscles. My shoulders haven’t been as bad as previous years so either my technique is improving or I’m not swimming enough.

Cycling

During the big blocks of training a couple of months ago, I did a lot of back-to-back bike rides of varying distances and intensities. The main issue I discovered was saddle sores. Apart from being amusing, it’s a real concern. In recent rides I’ve tried all kinds of creams, clothing and saddles. The best saddle I’ve used is a Cobb V-Flow Max, which was fantastic at the TriGrandPrix. I’m also going to use two pairs of cycling shorts and Assos Cream, which is great.

As you may know, there are a number of considerations to take in to account when setting up your bike. For short races, like sprint and standard distance triathlons, I want the most power possible and I’ll suffer some discomfort to get it. In Ironman races and for the deca, comfort and the ability to run off the bike are my main concerns. I will have a road bike as backup (in case of mechanicals or a crash) but I will start the event on my TT bike, which I got Retul fitted by Richard at Freespeed. I raced the TriGrandPrix (92km) in the new position and had one of my best rides to date considering the the amount of wind. Running off the bike was also good. And, I was also happy to find that my shoulders, back and neck felt great the next day.

Running

An obvious concern due to the impact, I always get some issues in a year. What has been niggling me recently is my right hip. Current thinking is that it’s down to changing my running shoes between a long distance pair (Saucony Pro Grid Guide) I use for the majority of my training and my preferred racing pair (Newton Distancia S) that I use in events (Paris Marathon and the TriGrandPrix).

To tackle this, I’ve been doing more focused stretching and some yoga aimed specifically at athletes. I also use a foam roller (for my back, ITB, Quads, hamstrings and calves), tennis ball (for my glutes, ITB and back) and a massage stick (for my quads and calves). All of these will be coming with me to the New Forest.

Deca Run Course

The Deca run course is picturesque but 26 laps per day (260 laps for the 10 day duration of the event) may just make this an interesting mental challenge as well.

The run course

The run course
From the run course...nice spot.

From the run course…nice spot.
Run Course

Run Course
Run course

Run course
Run Course

Run Course

Given the size of the grounds in which the event is taking place, I’m a bit surprised that a one mile lap was used. However, with it being a small event (in participant and spectator numbers) it will keep the event tight and support close.

My initial thoughts having just run around the one mile loop:

The course is not without its dangers too, which should make things interesting…

Canadian geese on the run course...they get really annoyed if you try to overtake..!

Canadian geese on the run course…they get really annoyed if you try to overtake..!

As well as the wildlife, there are other obstacles…not quite so large…

Beauty is only fern deep...below this...Enduro marbles..!

Beauty is only fern deep…below this…Enduro marbles..!
Enduro marbles...pack a sweeping brush..!

Enduro marbles…pack a sweeping brush..!
Enduro marbles...close up.

Enduro marbles…close up.

And last, but by no means least…

Oh yeah...and some roots for good measure :-)

Oh yeah…and some roots for good measure :-)