Time trials hurt. 100 mile trials hurt a lot! They’re mentally tough. They’re physically tough. They’re lonely. And they take a while. But in my book they’re one of the best training sessions you can do in the build up to an Ironman. No matter how hard you try it’s impossible to mimic 100 miles of hard riding with no breaks on your own.
Last weekend I dragged myself up to Derbyshire for the BDCA 100. Honestly I was dreading it. Joe Skipper and I had been chatting the day before and both of us knew we were tired. I’d struggled to hold 130 watts in my ‘hot watt’ acclimatization session that morning and he couldn’t hold his target power for 5 mins. So putting yourself through a 100 mile time trial when you’re tired anyway, your heart isn’t really in it and your head isn’t either is a big ask. Knowing Joe would be out there suffering as much as me was a good motivator for me. If he could do it I could do it – and we’d both survived one together before when we were smashed at the end of a training camp.
So how did I get through it? I guess sessions like these are the ones that make or break you as an athlete, particularly an ironman athlete. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it. In my book too many people are scared to race when they don’t have their A game. What’s the worst that can happen? Other people might think you’re rubbish but you know when you’re ‘racing’ a race or using it for training.
It turns out I surprised myself and somehow pulled out a pretty decent ride. OK – the time suggests it was more than decent (3hr48, apparently the second fastest 100 on record) but it’s a blooming quick course so the time is meaningless. But regardless I had a good ride and achieved what I wanted to from the session. I play little games with myself on rides like this. Lap your gamin every ten miles and set yourself a speed/power/time goal for each bit. Have a ‘treat’ lined up for certain points – in my case half a mars bar at 33.3 and 66.6 miles. Sometimes count pedal strokes to break down the miles. And perhaps the best trick I’ve found as a triathlete is set yourself ‘brick run rules’. If I didn’t ride hard I had to run 8 miles. If I rode 3.55-4 I had to run 4 miles. If I rode 3.50 to 3.55 I had to run 2 miles. And if I rode sub 3.50 I didn’t have to run and got some battered fish. It’s amazing what a motivator simple treats can be….