Saturday, 4 June 2011


Despite the empty beer to my right, I'm in an interesting place, fitness wise. By many measurements I'm the fittest I've ever been. I remember trying to get my resting heart rate consistently below 55 when I was 17. At the moment it's around 48. I used to struggle with maintaining running speed for more than 10kms. Now I keep a consistent and relatively fast pace over a half marathon. I am enjoying the results of training consistently over winter. I'd like to say I trained hard- and I did for some of it- but it's the consistency rather than the intensity that has brought me to this position.

I've always loved getting on a bike and being able to hammer out a ride reeeaaallllyyy fast. But only now, for the first time since I was 16, do I remember that running is also so much more fun when it's done fast! Running through some trees this week, on a little dirt track, reminded me that running for fun is one thing but being able to run fast is a whole different enjoyment. The downside, however, is that I'm at the more painful end of the fast running enjoyment and I want more! I can't remember which triathlete a few years ago made the point, but when discussing Ironman he said "it doesn't get easier, you just go faster". Now that I've crossed back into that fun side I think that- while the pain is still there- the fun diminishes some of the hurt. Not all of it though...

So with this in mind it was quite easy to plan out the rest of my season and the whole of next year's. Aside from one long ride (~140kms) and one long run (~25kms) each week I will be focussing solely on speed work. In real life one of the long sessions will be sacrificed for social activities and it will probably be the bike. I only have one race booked in for the rest of this year and that's the Outlaw Ironman on July 24th in Nottingham. I do, however, foresee a dilemma on July 25th; my new-found speed will be left to fade away and next summer I'll have to go through the painful process of re-building fitness but I am going to enjoy my last 4 months in London.

I have a plan. Last winter was the first time I've ever done leg weights and this summer I've got up to fitness quicker, been recovering faster, had fewer injuries and been able to hold my speed for a lot longer. I can't believe I'd never done that before. Best thing I've done. So after a few weeks off after the Outlaw I am going to start a long 'winter' phase to strengthen my whole body. I want to be all-round strong before I begin to get all-round fit. And after getting all-round fit I will get sport-specific fit and try to qualify for the Hawaiian Ironman; probably the only thing that has consistently been on my 'must-do-before-I-die list since I was 15. Except maybe learn to play 'Know Your Enemy' by Rage Against the Machine.

So here's where it all ties in perfectly. As much as I love going fast, I'm bored of going in a straight line. I need flow. Despite not having a creative bone in my body (come to think of it, I can play the recorder through my nose) I enjoy the mix of speed and artistry, whether it be on a bike or a board. So I'm looking forward to being all-round strong so I can put that into surfing, paddleboarding, mountain biking, skating, etc. when I'm back in Aus and feel the fun of just 'going'. Getting out to do something regardless of whether it's fast or not. That's what it's all about. Anything that's fun can be dissected and tuned into a pursuit for some form of excellence but if the fun is taken out then there's no point. So I'm looking forward to building functional strength and going out to play. That's what puts a smile on my face. My competitive/ over-active mind wants to go fast and both put a smile on my face but I'm really looking forward to riding the Dandenongs/ skating the city/ paddling Port Philip Bay and surfing anywhere on the southern Victorian coast just for the fun of it.

Here's a video that puts a bigger smile on my face than reducing my times. You've got to have flow in your life.

Gee Atherton - Steve Smith from Gustavo Catalan on Vimeo.

Step outside and just go. Any way you like, just move.


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