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Dublin: 17 °C Thursday 21 June, 2018
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'There's really no need to think about this too much. Just go out there and enjoy it'

In the third of his triathlon-training diaries, Ryan Bailey admits listening to the professionals shows him how much work there is to do before race day.

Image: Shutterstock/Hamperium Photography

IT’S HARD — ALMOST impossible, in fact — not to visualise those moments. Every painstaking stroke, every kilometre on the bike, and the first sight of the finish line. The euphoria, the sense of fulfillment, of achievement, of empowerment. And the utter exhaustion and unimaginable depletion of every last sinew of strength.

All of that is an intangible end-goal which drives you along this journey. It has been like that for the last few weeks, and will remain that way until race day itself.

You can’t feel or touch or experience it, only listen to those who have tread this well-worn path before, latching onto their every word, carefully processing their every passing piece of advice in the hope it will somehow make a difference on the day.

Hours of watching the course video on loop or studying the map in the hope those reverberating doubts will disappear. The positive thoughts and the counter thoughts of negativity. Bordering on desperation, an endless search for validation that reminds you it’ll be okay on the day. Searching for the one per centers, as professional sportspeople often refer to it as.

Earlier this week, I came across The Triathlon Show podcast, and more specifically episode number 66 of the series which is titled ’7 big mistakes beginner triathletes make.’

Perfect.

Where do we even start? Doing too much too soon? Or what about not enough? Not being consistent? Not learning proper form or technique, or focusing too much on having the best gear? Not having a race plan, or planning the race out too much? Control the controllables, remember.

“Sometimes it’s easy to get too bogged down in the details and not really seeing the big picture,” host Mikael Erkisson says. “Instead, focus on the big picture and not the small details.”

Okay, big picture. Big picture.

Let’s start with the training, or lack of it.

I’ve always run and as of last week, am officially signed up for my second Dublin Marathon, so this part of the training was never going to be a problem, or a chore. I enjoy running and would run at least three times a week, and have already clocked up considerable miles since the start of this Avonmore campaign.

Herein lies the issue.

“It is common to see people coming into triathlon that come from a background in one of the sports,” Erkisson continues.

Competitors at the Pulse Port Beach Triathlon Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Check.

“Let’s use running for example. Since swimming and biking may be a bit foreign and you’re not really good at them, you end up putting off training these disciplines.”

He’s right.

To be fair, I have an excuse for not getting on a bike yet as we’re still waiting for my one to arrive, which hopefully will be next week but, with the weather being as good as it is, there has really been no reason for me not to at least dip my toe in the sea and test the temperature.

The cycling discipline is not one I’m worried about as I have previously cycled with both the An Post Chain Reaction team and the Aqua Blue Sport team during training camps in Spain, so I have experience — as brief as it may have been — on racing bikes with professional cyclists.

I am looking forward to getting out on the road over the next couple of months and pushing myself in a new sport, but also using the fitness levels built up from running, as well as the discipline, application and concentration required, and applying it to another physically-demanding discipline.

And that leaves the swimming.

I have always been a strong swimmer, from my primary school days in the local leisure centre to briefly flirting with a lifesaving course, it was something I always enjoyed, but never really thought much of, or saw it as anything more than something my parents made me do.

The first swim is going to be the hardest, but once I’ve got my hands on a tri-suit next week, there will be no excuses and with Killiney Bay a stone’s throw from my house, many a summer evening will be spent building up my strength and stamina in the water. Or so I hope.

Eriksson finishes this episode with a simple piece of advice, but one I will be reminding myself of in the weeks and months ahead. Don’t think about the cold, don’t think about the seaweed, don’t think about the physical pain, or mental anguish involved in deciding to train or not, just embrace it, enjoy it and go for it .

“If you’re a complete beginner,” he says, “no need to really think about this too much. Just go out there and enjoy it.”

Simple, isn’t it?

You can follow Ryan’s journey over the next 12 weeks right here:

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Ryan Bailey

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