This is a guest blog by coached athlete Ryan Gavin. It's a great story of dedication to training leading to massive performance gains in an eight month period. Ryan never misses training, never makes excuses, and his results this year show what you can achieve if you set your mind to it. Working in Iraq for eight weeks out of every twelve, he has no access to a pool at all, does ALL his bike training on an old spin bike with power pedals, and all his running on a one mile loop inside a compound in searing heat. Read on for a story of determination and dedication!
I needed a distraction from going out and spending all my money on drink and partying, Oh boy, did I find a distraction - there certainly isn't much money left for partying after what you can spend in the world of triathlon!
I'm currently working in Iraq doing private security and have been for the past five years, where my schedule is eight weeks work, four weeks off. My day to day routine consists of a 3:30/4am starts so I can get my training boxed off before work. Rob Wilby (my coach) will have me down for a 1:30/2hours of training most mornings, which is usually a turbo session and a run or a long bike and long run. Well, I say turbo session but I can't really call it a turbo session as I train on a old school squeaky rickety old spin bike with some Garmin Power meter pedals , I like to get my training out of the way in the morning because I am usually working all day or on call until 6:30 PM, so once I get finished on a evening I usually have around a hour and a half/2 hours to get some food speak to the family then in bed for around 8, I always try and get in bed in and around 8 o'clock so I can get my recommended eight hours before my alarm goes off at 4.
My colleagues at work think I'm a bit mad because usually around 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning I have a puddle of sweat around me and my heart rate is up at 170 BPM doing Z4 or Sweet Spot intervals, when I'm not on the bike I'll be running laps of the camp, sometimes I feel like I could run a lap with my eyes closed as it is only a mile round, I know every lump and dump and inch of it. I'm up to around 600 miles at the moment since I started getting coached by Rob in September last year, and I can tell you that it doesn't get any more exciting the more times you run round :) So for all you people out there that gets bored of running the same roads at home and riding the same routes, I can promise you that you aren't even getting close to being bored, try spending eight months of the year on a spin bike and a 1 mile loop to run on!
My recent races in May were Mallorca 70.3 and Southport standard distance qualifying event for team GB age group World Championships in Mexico, The races were two weeks apart, with the first being Mallorca. When you tell everybody that you are racing in Mallorca they immediately think that it will be beautiful perfect weather sunshine clear blue skies.... Haha! That wasn't the case at all - the weather was like racing in the highlands of Scotland - windy and extremely wet, I'm sure I felt wetter out on the bike then I did in the sea. And as for the sea swim I will be quite happy if I never do a sea swim again, I've never experienced a jelly fish sting before Mallorca but I can tell you they don't just disappear after a day - they hang around for a good few weeks after.
Although it was horrible conditions I still managed to have a half decent race, finishing 101st overall with a field of 50+ pros out of 3000+ athletes and 12th in my age group. I went down to the role down awards not expecting to get a slot for the world Championships in Australia but luck must have been on my side that day as I survived a crash on the descent of the bike course (thinking that I had broken my arm as I could barely get back down onto the aero bars!)
Within 20 minutes of sitting watching people go up and collect their awards I hear my name get called out - "Ryan Gavin" I couldn't have been happier. I jumped up out of my seat shouting "YES" and I'm sure I was louder than everybody else :)
I managed to hobble up onto the stage because my legs started to seize up, and I received my 70.3 world Championships qualifier medal, and may I add I definitely had the biggest smile of the day as it got handed to me.
A unexpected win at Southport two weeks following the 70.3 awards ceremony made the month of May a very good one for me. I went into the race a lot more relaxed and chilled than I was going in to Mallorca, knowing that it was a qualifier for the world Championships, I automatically presumed that there would be some top athletes from around the UK coming to qualify, but yet again at the prize giving I heard "the winner of the age group 30 to 34 Ryan Gavin!"
I was not expecting it at all - I had a cup of coffee in my hand which I almost threw at Daniella (my partner) when I heard my name! I went up to collect my prize knowing that I had just qualified for two different Wold Championships at two different distances within the space of two weeks,
A few hours after I was sitting there thinking how has this happened? Where has all this come from? How have I managed to go from my first sprint triathlon running 7:40 pace off the bike to running 5:59 off the bike in a standard distance race? How have I managed to go from 230w up to 304w at FTP? And the answer is quite simple having a top class coach behind you and putting in the hard work equals results. The main thing has to be finding the time (3:30 AM lol) and doing the work and not making excuses, you can have the best coach in the world writing you the best plan in the world but if you aren't going to stick to it it is useless,
My experiences of being coached are all good - it has taken so much hassle out of deciding what to do and when to do it. Before I met Rob I basically woke up and decided what I was going to do five minutes before I did it which looking back definitely wasn't the best option. It has made life so much easier for me knowing that everything has been written down in detail for me, so all I need to do is wake up, look at the plan and get the job done! At first I kept on asking for more sessions and harder sessions because all I had really been used to was going out and going as hard as I could for the whole session - once again, looking back, that definitely wasn't the best idea. Having a coach there to tell you when to back it off and when to step it up is invaluable, as long as you listen to what you have been told. I have been listening to every word reading every text and every email and executing it exactly, and now I am beginning to see the results in my racing. I can't recommend Rob's coaching enough.
I have to say thank you to Danielle for putting up with all my nonsense as well, and listening to all my data talk: watts, W/kg, power, NP, intensity factor, BPM, RPM, FTP and whatever else falls out of my mouth concerning training/racing. She doesn't know what half of it means but I tell her on a daily basis anyway! :)
I've had a look at my upcoming training plan on TrainingPeaks and really like the look of the plan - day on, day off hard sessions - sounds good to me. Looks like the sort of plan that is going to raise my FTP even more as I build up the World Champs in Australia in September!
If you're ready to take your triathlon performance to the next level like Ryan has this season, sign up for Team Oxygenaddict coaching. An event specific training plan tailored to how much time you have available, coaching advice and team support in our private facebook group, and inside our private members area you have access to educational podcasts, webinars, video clips and coaching articles.