At the start of September I took part in a 100mile Time Trial. This wasn’t the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done, but it was well worth doing. Here are some thoughts about how it went down.

I’d had to defer my 2018 Ironman due to an ongoing keen injury so a 100 mile Time Trial seemed like a really good goal to keep me focussed for the season and moving towards an Ironman for 2019. I like to keep in mind things I can do in 2018 to help my fitness, experiences, skills and confidence for 2019 and this seemed to fit the bill.

I’ve been working on strength, power and torque all year so felt really strong early in the season. I had an amazing July completing the Marmotte sportive and getting Pbs at all distances, so when I entered the race I felt like I was invincible!

However, it didn’t quite pan out like that. I spent more of August away working and traveling than I did at home so did hardly any training at all and missed a lot of bike rides. In August the longest ride I did was 55miles.

I injured my good knee at the start of August, and had a stomach bug at the start of race week which meant I didn’t eat for 2 days

All in all, I felt very de-trained and totally lacking in confidence to even complete 100miles, never mind do one as a Time Trial. I knew there was no chance of a fast time or a pb, so I did spend some time wondering why it was even worth bothering. I could quite easily have had a day in front of the TV with a CSI box set instead.

I know it’s not always possible to be fit enough for a pb and if I limit myself to only racing when I’m on top form I’ll be missing out on lots of good learning experiences, which might also be fun and would also help me with my Ironman goal for 2019.

I decided to use the race as an opportunity to practice racing (which often has me in a total flap), nutrition, using my kit, pacing and riding to a plan.  But also as chance to see what was possible with the fitness that I had.

Time Trialling is also a good opportunity to practice mental toughness strategies and focus all things I am working on for the Ironman. I also went with the expectation that it could be a serious suffer fest and acknowledging this in advance helped me to deal with it on the day.  My first goal was to take part. Goal 2 was to finish. And Goal 3 was 5 hours.

In the end it was painful! The first 50 was amazing…..but the second 50 included a lot of cramp, sore feet, back, neck, hands, eyelids, little toe…..you name it….it hurt!

But it was a great learning experience in terms of preparation and planning. I learned a lot about nutrition and fluids for a 100 mile TT as well as my ability to focus. I practiced some new mental toughness strategies when it was so hard I wanted to cry.  I learned what I can do with how much training I’d done and  I also learned  what I would be capable of on that course if I was as fit as I’d been in July –which is super motivating for next year.

I also had some fun! Thanks to being there with 2 friends. One who raced and the other who helped with our feed station, and this made all the difference to the day.

On this occasion I used a lot of mental strategies and preparation to get to the race, take part, get through it and find some fun and learning amongst the suffering.  Have you had any similar experiences? And what strategies do you use to race when training hasn’t gone according to plan? Get in touch to let us know you’re thoughts, or let me know if you need any help preparing for your next race.