Swim, Turbo, Walk, Pro athlete?
Written for trainingtilt: The only all-in-one solution for triathlon and endurance coaches.
A monthly update from Amelia Rose Watkinson on aspects of pro triathlete life - March 2018
July was a quiet month, a good sort of quiet, not boring, healthy, consistent and drizzled with anticipation. I’ve started to slip back into a comfortable routine, kept busy with work, satisfyingly tired from hard training sessions and there's plenty of admin type jobs on my iPhone notepad ’todo’ list. The excitement of both starting running and moving house has been the coffee of getting me through the month. They say in life all you need is “something to love, something to do and something to look forward to”.
My down spiraling mental state has stabilised, I now almost feel silly for working myself up so much. But realise it's an important part of any athletes process, even though it feels like the world is ending at the time. My previous blog details how I managed not to turn into a zombie during my own apocalypse.
New appreciation for the turbo.
I’ve been riding 12-16hrs per week, and even though I live on the sunny, Sunshine Coast, a fair few of those hours have been grinding away on the turbo trainer. I quite like doing the warm-up and main set on my TT bike and turbo trainer, followed by 1-2hrs outside on the road bike. I actually used to despise the turbo, the only word I had to describe it was, ‘boring’. Since having to start back on it with my foot injury it seems to be my new found love. Maybe I’ve developed a less generous concept of time thanks to all the swimming or getting slightly older. Sessions with hard intervals and a good Spotify playlist are of course crucial. ’Melbourne Bangers’ is pretty decent for a hard set. I’ve been doing 1-2 vo2 sessions per week eg 12x2min very hard zone 5+/3min easy. And 1-2 threshold sessions eg 10x5min hard zone 3-4 /2min easy. Not everyone likes the vo2 work but given I have limited natural speed, lifting my top end brings my threshold (half ironman pace) up with it.
Swim and walk routine <3
Swimming gains feel slow going. But I am becoming very appreciative of the fact that swimming deals with milliseconds. So shaving 10sec of your 400 PB in your average main set is something to be happy with. Also, my arms are always sore, so I’m counting on taper week, when it eventually comes, to freshen me up enough to feel awesome. Squad is doing lots of sprint work at the moment so yet another perfect opportunity to work my top end and arm speed. I can lead one of the junior lanes in 800s but I’m pretty sure they’ve all got me on the 50s. A good Wednesday arvo main set: warm up, then, 30x50m on 1min with every second dive start best pace you can average for them all. (I felt sorry for the butterflyers in the squad). 5x400 pull bouy pads on 5.30, then cool down.
I started my walk program increasing by 10min every second day a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, my foot swelled up almost as bad as the week post-surgery days, even turned a tinge of purple which is apparently a reaction to the metal. Turned out to only be a minor hiccup. After another week off, plenty of anti-inflammatory practices and a positive looking Xray I started again. I’m up to the final stage in a couple of days - a 90min power walk which means the walk-run (enthuses on the run) program is just around the corner.
Simone is staying with us at the moment for a bit of a training camp. She’s adding enough conversation for the whole household, also some inspiration on wholesome eating. I made this epic slice (combine all ingredients and cook 20min ish): Flaxseed meal, ground oats, chopped almonds and walnuts, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, cinnamon, baking powder, peanut butter, coconut oil, soaked dates blended to a paste, honey, dark choc drops.
She also taught me a nice German proverb “Nur die Harten Kommen in den Garten” meaning ‘only the strongest will survive’, though it sounds much cooler in German.
I’m listening to an audiobook ‘Grain Brain by David Perlmutter’. (I discovered a nice app called Libby. If you have a library card you can download anything free of charge and it automatically returns itself in 21days, no more overdue library fines, and perfect for my power walks or easy solo rides). The book is an interesting reiteration of what most of us probably have a fair idea about already yet struggle to do. Written by a neurologist it has a good take on how much sugar and gluten run rife in our bodies, and their significant link to mental disorders, depression, anxiety, even Alzheimers. Our swim coach always says “you can’t take out if you don’t put in” in the context of if you don’t train hard, you can’t race hard. Our diet is exactly the same. You put in shit processed food, full of binding agents and preservatives and you’re going to feel heavy, lethargic, bloated, heartburn. I’m only 20% through but he also talks about why our brain craves certain things and how to eat in relation to our genetics and our specific lifestyles.
More than a 'Pro Athlete"?
On a picnic lunch, we also discussed working as an athlete. It’s interesting how peoples judgments change of you as a professional athlete if you do or don’t work an additional job. Whether it's for the extra income, the satisfaction of giving back or simply doing more with your time. Across all sports, some of us work full-time jobs in our chosen industry, sideline athlete life with coaching and guest speaking, or maximise non-training time for family and recovery. Since high school I’ve worked in hospitality, nannying, cleaning, coaching, reception and short-term contract jobs, and still do. I don’t mind it, its rewarding and its ease and flexibility is very ideal. Triathlon would be high on the list with the most demanding physical training hours, so it's not great recovery between sessions. I’ve spent a bit on my education and hold a degree in Architecture. But it's nice to make the most of the travel bound lifestyle and this coupled with a willing employer is a rare card. Does working a dead end secondary job make you less of an athlete or discredit your sport? There's also the topic of being successful after sport.
We move into the new house this week, very excited! It's a small 3 bedroom brick veneer, with an exposed timber beam ceiling and a middle mezzanine across the living area, terracotta tiles throughout, a giant brick garage, a garden spot for both our morning coffees and evening BBQs, and offers some renovation opportunity down the track. It’s only 6.4km from where we are currently renting, but still glad we don’t have much more than the bare necessities (picture the jungle book song here). We’ve hired a budget rental truck and have strong boys like Alex around to make it a smooth flowing process. Jakob got out of this one by conveniently racing 70.3 Cebu ;) and Terez will save the day by packing the kitchen stuff so we still have whole plates on the other side.
Next month will involve some running of sorts! Some supporting at Sunny Coast 70.3 where Alex will be donning his race suit for the first time in a while, and some slightly new roads to ride.