Amelia Rose Watkinson  

Triathlon like Rice

Triathlon like Rice

Thai new year (Songkran; celebrated with a nation wide water flight) has come and gone so I figured it perfect timing for a reflection - new season blog post

In a chat re the cultural significance of Songkran, I learnt the basics of rice farming. Thailand is the worlds second largest rice exporter. In May the rainy season starts, paddies are ploughed and rice is transplanted. Through winter, irrigated and rainfed. Harvested in summer. Then soil fertility is replenished with nutrients or a rotation crop. Droughts, flooding, salt, pests can cause setbacks. Other countries have hybrid cultivating methods. Most producers want the highest yield of rice grain per acre, a short grain rice variety. Thailands specialty is Jasmine rice, a traditional cultivation method that has a lower yield and germination ratio but higher quality that fetches a much higher price. 

Relavence to triathlon: An environmentalist Janine Benyus believes we can implement biomimicry to all aspects of the material world. Im probably out on a limb but I like the correlation.

Seasonally relates to the importance of various types of periodisation, climatic extremes as sickness or injury, export relations are our racing competitors and grades of rice reflect our A races and longevity in the sport. 


Last season was a successful and fulfilling year. One thing it lacked was seasonality. I raced non stop for 13months throughout Asia Pacific and was far too ready for a break by the time I got to my last race of the season. I only got minor bouts of sickness and maintained injury free. But it was a learning curve watching my run splits and bike power numbers slowly plateau throughout the year. 

This year will involve slightly less racing but a more strategic approach. Starting the year with a tentative race calendar and itinerary, yet with room for trial and error and adaptability along the way. The macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycles of training periodisation will play a part, but I'll leave the real science of that up to my coach


So far:

Break started as soon as I crossed the finish line a Port of Tauranga Half. I flew out to Lanzarote for team training camp the next day. I felt ever so guilty being at camp and on break. But as a rookie to this element of season I was given good advice

  • 1st week I would feel lethargic and agitated
  • 2nd week do something other than swim bike run - I popped across to Morocco for a few days of camel trekking in the desert and a tour of Marrakech architecture.
  • 3rd and 4th weeks I’d think nothing of having a day of no exercising. I kept busy with a 4WD, camping, trekking, surfing trip around Australia south coast and a bit of hip culture in Melbourne.
  • I got very accustomed to my break, got unfit, put on weight and my first 30min jog back has never felt so hard. Importantly I was but importantly mentally and physical replenished and amped to get back into it. 

I like a regular change in scenery so we decided to get some vitamin D from another part of the world and set up camp in Bright, part of Australias Alpine region for some big miles. Despite most of our races are flat courses I’m a big believer in hilly training. It’s an ultra runners haven with 10,000kms of dirt trails and fire roads. The mountains are 30km+ long, 2000m+ high and with such little traffic I could share my music with the bunch riding with a speaker in my drink bottle cage. 

I was starting to miss my rice, egg and tomato for breakfast, so headed back to Phuket, via China to have a hit out at 70.3 Liuzhou. The first step of speed work was a shock to the system, but I find the benefits of training in the heat are huge, my heart rate at last weeks midday track session hit 198bpm. My swimming also needed a block and the Fina squad keeps me honest. 

I am now in Europe. As Abraham Lincoln once said “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. I also wanted a few more challenging races this season. I start off with 2 weeks of team training camp in Mallorca finishing off with Ironman 70.3 Mallorca 13 May and Barcelona 70.3 the following weekend. Hopefully a few grains of rice will be ready for early cropping, my Jasmin will be ready a little later in the season.


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70.3 Philippines

70.3 Philippines

70.3 Liuzhou: China

70.3 Liuzhou: China