Our Ambassador Claire Doherty gives us an insight into keeping the balance in training

Claire D” To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence” Sun Tzu

So the season begins. With only a couple of weeks to go until my first ‘warm up race’ of the triathlon season I have been looking back at 2013.
This time last year I had just left a very different period, one where I was distinctly non-plussed about triathlon and my approaching Ironman. I was totally focused on my running and the London Marathon, which like this year, I had entered purely as a training run to prepare me for my Ironman. I wanted to race it and I knew I could do well, but as both my coach and Kim reminded me, there was a danger if I did this, that my long term goal could suffer.

I knew they were both right. The key with any season is to prioritize races so that the most important are the ones you work towards, maybe using some less important ones as stepping stones or measures of progress along the way. So, I knew they were right, but I thought I could race London and address the ironman afterwards, get around it and never do another one. I was regretting having entered one again. I talked of selling my TT bike. This was a pretty big change of attitude compared to 2012. Quite simply I had fallen out of love with triathlon and running my fastest marathon was all I cared about. A harsh winter had meant I hadn’t been cycling outside for months and I was becoming increasingly disheartened cycling indoors.

Luckily for me Kim spotted this within 2 minutes of seeing me last April. After working her ninja magic on me I came away and did a lot of thinking. I had already sacrificed a lot and so had my family, so that I could enter another Ironman. Would I be happy with just rocking up and going through the motions? Would I regret giving everything I had to London, risking fatigue and the knock on effect that it would have on my ironman training? How would I feel during and after the ironman if I hadn’t prepared properly and couldn’t be my best?

It took me about a day to admit to myself that I had made a long term goal and that I owed it to not only myself but to other people to commit to it. I was going to find the triathlon love again. And so I did. After months of snow covered roads and turboing, the spring arrived and I got outside and realized that I had missed the freedom of cycling, the burning quads and lying on the kitchen floor with legs so sore that I couldn’t get up. Yes really.

A few weeks later I decided to buy some race wheels for my Felt and came home from my beloved bike store with a whole new bike! The bike love was back! And so was the triathlon love. I was excited and thankful that I had given myself a good talking to back in April and was firmly in the right road to crossing that Ironman line again.

This year I am focused on 3 races – Mallorca 70.3 and IMUK and then the European long course championships at the end of the season. I am running London Marathon again as a training run, which I’m looking forward to but its definitely not my A race!
I am asking more of myself this year then ever before and with that comes a certain degree of uncertainty about how my body will react and cope, but also a knowledge and belief that whatever happens I will have given my best, and that whatever lessons I learn will make me stronger.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louise May Alcott