Am I ready for the AG Sprint Distance Triathlon European Championships in Lisbon
With only a few days to go to the European AG Sprint Distance European Champs in Lisbon, Elivar Featured Athlete Garry Walker looks back on his year and wonders if he’s ready.
If you’d asked me a couple of month ago if I was ready, I would have laughed at you.
It doesn’t seem that long ago really that my running was non-existent due to persistent recurring injury pains that I was getting throughout last year. To be quite honest, I really didn’t think that I would be running at all this year, but with a prolonged period of rest and some focused rehabilitation, I managed to find my feet again and begun the long road to recovery.
The beauty about triathlon and training for three different disciplines is just that you can maintain a certain level of fitness throughout injury periods. Training for only one sport would leave you sitting back losing patience and counting the days away. The pain I was feeling was positioned deep inside the Gastrocnemius (calf) of my left leg on a site that seemed unaffected by my pedal stroke on the bike and leg kick In swimming - so being able to continue to train really has been a blessing.
Last season was a struggle. A struggle to get fit, a struggle to race, a struggle through the pain, and a struggle to admit to myself once again that I needed to prolong the rest period, before beginning the cycle once again resulting in the very same outcome as a result of returning to early.
I did however manage to gain some results. Results that saw me qualify for the European Duathlon Championships in Kalkar, Germany, The European Triathlon Championships in Lisbon, Portugal, and the World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico. All setting up a season to enjoy once again if I could manage to get fit and remain pain free.
It was to be an early start to the season in February at the Anglian Water Duathlon held at Grafham Water near Cambridge. I was desperate to race as often as I could to ensure I was acclimatised to competition and the hurt that goes with it.
The event also doubled up as a European championship qualifier for 2017 and to find myself qualifying once again for another season wearing the flag left me over the moon. I was still struggling, struggling mainly on the run and carrying a few to many lbs that I found myself accumulating whilst I’d not been doing any weight bearing exercise.
Running is the only thing for me that truly helps regulate this, short of starving myself which is not really an option when I need to fuel both my training and work travel commitments. Now that I am regularly running and introducing efforts, I am starting to get my strength and speed back again whilst improving my endurance and ultimately seeing a weight reduction that is much needed.
I am still not there, not where I want to be by a long stretch. In fact, finding myself carrying an extra 4/5kgs to what I previously competed at, but as the weight is dropping and the activities are increasing, I am seeing this have a mutually beneficial effect on overall performance. So much as to say that last week, in my 6th race of the season, I found myself stepping back onto the podium again at the Stockton Sprint Duathlon as 2nd Vet. Something that I didn’t expect to see for a little while yet.
Lisbon Warm Up
Ahead of Lisbon I decided to do some additional races. Call them last minute preparations, call them re-acclimatisation - they were the highly charged and competitive races that are the English Standard distance Triathlon Championships at Grafham Water, and the British Sprint Distance Championships at Big Cow.
I am simply calling them FUN. A way of finding my love for the sport all over again a way of finding my love for pain once again, the kind of pain that does not come from injured limbs, but the kind of pain that comes from effort. Effort seeping out of every pore in your body leaving its mark ingrained on your face as you cross the line. I felt that for the first time once again in Germany at the European Duathlon Champs a few weeks back finishing 9th in my age group and 3rd GB athlete.
And I LOVED it.
So Am I Ready?
So back to my opening lines. Am I ready? Not really, but I’ll get there. I am a hell of a lot closer than I have been and I am running once again pain free which means I’m actually enjoying my sport again! That’s a great place to be - bring on Lisbon!