“Run faster you t**t!” hissed good friend and Tri Training Harder Physio Laura as I passed the half way point during my run test on the track. It was my second day out in Portugal and I was enduring the benchmark tests to begin my two months as a full-time athlete. It is now day seven and I’ve had a week to adapt to the lifestyle changes of this new phase for me.
VDOT testing on the track
There were many things I was looking forwards to about being out in the Algarve but training with friends, other athletes and my coach was what I was most excited about. Back at home, I lived with my parents and did the majority of my training alone at weird hours between my shift work in the hospital. I swam with a swimming club and did a weekly cycle with my local road club but apart from that I was sweating it out on the treadmill, lifting weights in the gym and repeatedly riding up hills alone. This is what worked best for me. I could do my training at hours that suited me, and I was lucky that I didn’t really struggle with motivation so training alone wasn’t a problem.
I didn’t realise what I was missing out on. Now, I am training with other athletes, most of whom are faster than me and coaches watching over every session. Like almost every athlete out there, I am super competitive, so if I see someone ahead of me on the hill, I’ll chase after them in a race to the top. Would I have gone that hard on that hill had I been training alone? Almost certainly not.
Happiness is... Cycling in the sunshine with friends
Chasing up the hills
Races in the pool
At the cross country course last week, I got high-fived after each lap and had a little pep talk before heading out for another interval. I definitely pushed harder in that session than I ever would have on my own. When training alone, I used to think that there was nothing more I could give, but I now realise that you can always give that little bit more if you put your mind to it.
After a rainy XC intervals session
As well as providing motivation, encouragement and someone to race against, by training with friends, there’s always someone to have a giggle with. Like when a huge wave takes you off your feet, drags you backwards on the shore and dumps you onto the beach during an open water swim session. Or when you stack it during bike handling. And when you faceplant using the ab-roller. And when your bike mount resembles more of a scooting weasel than a flying squirrel. When training is so much fun, it really doesn’t feel like hard work.
No modelling agencies have contacted me yet... Still waiting.
Friends and your fellow athletes are also useful for when things don’t quite go your way, or when you’re having a rubbish day. Luckily, I haven’t yet had one of these days since I’ve been out here, but I know that if I were ever struggling, there are so many people who would be there to help.
Finally, living with the friends that I am training with has been a brilliant change for me. Although I no longer get my washing done and lunches made for me (but I am trying to train Laura up for this), I spend my evenings relaxing, watching films and playing practical jokes on one another. There really is such a brilliant atmosphere out here, and I am absolutely loving the experience. I’ve never been so happy, and this good mood is definitely having a positive impact on my training.
Enjoying our training in the beautiful Algarve