Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why am I so damned fragile....?!

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On the back of my win (see previous blog post) at the Abbeyfield Time Trial on Sunday 15th April, I had my first taste of a proper 10-mile road Time Trial the following Tuesday. Running on roads adjacent to the Severn Estuary, howling winds and driving rain should have perhaps been expected.

Still, with the tri season looming ever closer I was conscious I wanted to get a few 10 and 25 milers in for the practice.  Without really giving it too much thought I ‘loaded’ up with my usual 80mm front and disc rear wheels, took the pressure down a notch to compensate for the damp roads and then took my place as number 9 in the starting order.

The first 2km or so of the TT course was all downhill with a strong crosswind coming in from the estuary on the right.  With speeds touching 65km/h and the front wheel literally getting blown all over the road, it was not for the faint-hearted and I for one definitely wimped-out of staying down in the tuck on the tri bars.

Down to the bottom of the descent and the next couple of miles were straight into a headwind, sometimes struggling to keep the speed above 33km/h.   After a short and painful little climb it was great to turn the corner (literally!) and then blast towards the finish line with the wind at my back.  The last couple of miles were dispatched at 44-47km/h and I crossed the line in 24:14.  Not quite what I had hoped for (23:xx was the goal), but looking at times from the previous week almost everyone that had done both runs had been 60-90 seconds faster the week before, so it was definitely a ‘slow’ day all-round.  Here's a link to the Garmin trace:

What was less good was the coughing fit that followed the conclusion of the TT.  Not all that unusual, so I didn’t pay it too much attention and continued my normal training for the rest of the week.  This seemed okay until the Friday night, when I started feeling distinctly shaky and my chest started to feel really tight.  This got progressively worse over the weekend (took a total rest day on the Saturday, tried a run on Sunday but it didn’t go well) and I ended up in the doctors’ surgery on Monday morning.

I tried to explain my concerns over chest pain – as I’ve never felt I fully recovered from the chest problems I had following the world champs in China last year – but the doctor seemed pretty unconcerned and just prescribed me a Ventolin inhaler to open up my airway (we did a max flow test and whereas I’m usually off the chart, my test came out about 70% of normal).

The next few days were spent working in London, so more enforced rest ensued.  Unfortunately, so did a full-on bout of man flu, complete with blocked nose, ears, sore throat etc etc.  Towards the back end of the week I felt well enough to try a little workout on the elliptical trainer at the gym and then did a couple of easy turbo sessions.  My HR was stupidly high for the perceived exertion, but since I wasn’t quite dying there was hope.  Desperate to try to recover in time for the Swashbuckler middle distance triathlon on 13th May, I also took a punt and ordered some colostrum from Neovite.  I was hoping that a good two weeks’ of dosage would help get me ready for race day.  Unfortunately, as I write it’s still to arrive, however (and I’m now away from home all week, so it was a bit of a wasted purchase, really).

This weekend I headed down to the New Forest to ride the Swashbuckler course in advance of the race.  But with my Garmin seeming to get confused about trying to follow the route every five minutes and absolutely awful weather (the New Forest tri was first changed to a duathlon, then cancelled completely this weekend) things did not exactly go smoothly.  After three hours at what would have normally just been steady cycling, I felt completely and utterly drained.  That night I suffered the worse shivers and cold sweats I’ve had in some time, running a reasonable fever.

Since then I have felt progressively better but still far away from 100%.  My worst fear right now is that I won’t be in any fit shape to toe the line at Swash’ in less than two weeks.  Between my coach and I, we’re going to have to make some tough calls in the next week to balance the need for recovery against the desire to do myself justice in the season-opener.

For me, this illness has been really frustrating.  I’m not sure how others are faring, but I just seem to be so damned fragile at the moment.  I eat reasonably well, I take the right vitamins etc but it seems to be that whenever I do three or more weeks at more than 14 hours training per week, I get ill.  Obviously I need to get my head around this, and maybe (just maybe!) I need to back off the volume a little in order to give my immune system a chance to grow stronger?  The difficulty, obviously, is that I want to do well in my target ‘A’ races and so it seems counter-intuitive to reduce training volume.

So here’s hoping I can get through the next couple of weeks without further illness or injury and get to the Swashbuckler start line in some kind of reasonable shape!  If anyone has any magic recovery remedies or supplements they recommend, I’m all ears!

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs