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Lizzy Brama

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I love racing. After all, this is why I do this sport. But if you race lots it tends to disrupt your training somewhat. So after two Olympic distance triathlons on consecutive weekends, I felt very ready to tackle my next big block of training towards Kona. 3 weeks of uninterrupted swimming, biking, and running until my arms and legs were ready to fall off. Then recover, and race again to test the state of affairs. I can’t even begin to explain how much I was looking forward to this.

And it’s exactly what I did. Ticking off the sessions on the plan, and ready to push my body and mind further in every session.

Roughly every 4th week of my training plan is a test and recovery week. The training volume drops, but I have a series of benchmark session to do so the coach and me can see whether things are moving in the right direction.

So there I was one Wednesday evening in my basement on my trusted turbo trainer churning out my monthly 80k time trial. By now I have a fairly high boredom threshold when it comes to turbo sessions. When I first started I would barely last 20 minutes! But for sessions like that I load up my mp3 player with podcasts, and tune out the world with those beautiful Sennheiser headphones that drown out most outside noise. That particular evening it was IMTalk I was listening to, and they were talking about the mental tricks you can engage to get through those tough sessions. That in turn made me think of what I do (which admittedly is fairly similar).

So here are my top 5 in no particular order:

  • Counting and numbers, and by that I mean anything. Just keep your mind busy. During hard interval run sessions I find myself counting my foot strikes, forcing myself to get to 100 before I will look at my watch again. During swim sessions I often work out the percentages of the total I’ve already swum. I count pedal revelutions too. It all helps.

  • Breaking things up: 2000 m swim test sounds tough? You lose count easily. How about thinking of it as 5×400

The British universities and colleges sport (BUCS) cycling time trial championships were held over two weekends, with the 10 mile event first, and the 25 mile even the weekend after. As usual Oxford and Cambridge university’s cycling clubs organised one event each.

For me the 10 mile event fell on the end of a week 3 of my training cycle (4 is the recovery & test week), so my legs had 3 weeks of accumulated fatigue in them.

Unfortunately you cannot peak for every single race, and Ironman France, scarily enough only a mere 7 weeks away now, definitely takes priority. Said Saturday was however a beautiful sunny day, and I was quite happy about being there. I didn’t ride badly, but the legs didn’t quite respond, and my time reflects that. I was only beaten by Corrine Hall, who is a pretty decent cyclist, so I was pleased that she was only 40 seconds ahead of me. So one silver medal for Sussex uni!

Today I did my last triathlon of 2010, finishing the season on a high with a good second place at Hever castle.

I don’t know about you but I can feel with every part of my body that the end of the season is here. I noticed the first signs the day after the Bala standard distance triathlon. I was tired. The idea of putting my running shoes on for my usual Monday session made me think twice, and I took a rain check. I wasn’t even looking forward to the next race, just looking forward to getting it over with. But despite the tiredness there’s something deeply satisfying about this feeling. This year I have raced, raced, and raced until I truly had enough. And now I will have a break, because I want to, because I deserve it, but mostly because I need to. Everyone needs a time to recharge their batteries.

Let’s start this post with two quotes:

“You are at the end of season so let’s enjoy ourselves eh !”

“I can’t do it if it makes me feel like that.”

The first quote is the answer I received from my coach in response to asking to enter yet more races for the remainder of the season. The second is from a friend during a discussion of a race that went very wrong after a terrible swim.

My reply to my friend was this: “There’s no point in doing it if it makes you feel bad.”

This sentence summarised what I only very recently had to remind myself of as well. When I started triathlon it was all shiny and new to me.

SmoothieI’m probably preaching to the converted here, but a few weeks ago when I tidied up my room I discovered a box smoothie maker.

We should all eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and I certainly never had a problem with this, but how much fun are smoothies! I’m having almost as much fun making them as consuming the product. Not only are they good for you, they also taste great. I’ve almost gone off the chocolate in favour of smoothies.

Love-The-HillsHaving grown up in the flat terrain of Northern Germany, I used to absolutely despise hills. If there’s one thing I really don’t like it’s slowness, and that applies to everything in life. I’m terribly impatient.

Cycling up hills doesn’t give you the excitement of going fast on a bike and quite frankly cycling up hills is hard work. I was also put off by the fact that as one of the bigger athletes ‘im always on the losing end against some of the slender running girls, as soon as we are faced with an incline.

Planning a block of training can really determine your goals. But to be of much use they have got to be SMART. Some of you may already be bored now – yeah, yeah, we all know this, S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant, and T for time-bound. But do you actually do it? I was most recently reminded of this concept when flicking through my notes from the BTF level 2 coaching course.

So in practise, does this actually work? At the beginning of the year I wrote on a piece of paper – amongst other things – by the end of July I want to have improved my 10 mile time trial PB to sub 23 minutes. Why is this a much better goal than ‘I want to get faster on the bike’?

I just love, love, love being a triathlete and living in Brighton. This morning I was woken up bright and early by the sun shining through the gap in my curtains. I had a short coffee, then quickly shoved my wetsuit, hat, goggles, and a towel in my bag, put my swimming costume and some clothes on, grabbed my helmet, and jumped on my bike to ride down the hill into town. The seafront promenade was already buzzing with life before 9am.

There’s barely an athlete out there who has never had injury worries. Some more, some less. And while I used to look down on athletes who are ‘always injured’, I have changed my view over the years, mainly for my own benefit. I still think that injury should not be accepted as unavoidable. However, unless you are injured because you are making a crucial mistake in your training, like ramping up volume or intensity so your body reaches breaking point, thinking less of yourself because you have an injury is not going to help the situation.

A great start to the season. Trigirl ambassador Lizzy Brama won the ladies sprint East Grinstead triathlon today in a fantastic 1:14:15. This result is even more amazing considering Lizzy has not been in top form recently.

She has been suffering from a pinched nerve which seriously affecting her run training. However, this would not stop her from racing today.