Runner, Fiona Bugler, recalls the highs and lows of her 15-week training block taking her from runner to triathlete

The blue blob first appeared in my Strava Training Log week commencing 23rd May. And three weeks later week commencing June 6th it was joined by the mauve blob. The blue blob represents swimming and the mauve one cycling, so I think I can say I have been training for triathlon for 15 weeks (minus one week off for my leg operation) – all that’s left is this week and next, weeks 16 and 17.

Inevitably, there are more green blobs than anything – and they represent running. The path from runner to triathlete is a work in progress. I’ve notched up 100 hours of training in 15 weeks, around 6.5 hours per week, which I know isn’t enough to do the best I can at half ironman triathlon – but I’m hoping that years of endurance training will at the very least get me round Braveheart!

Here’s how my training broke down in hours:

June, 21 hours, 13.43 running, 4.40 cycling, 2.31 swimming

July, 49 hours, 29.18 running, 12.12 cycling, 7.27 swimming

August, 30 hours, 22.40 running, 4.00 cycling (including 2.00 indoor), 3.18 swimming

Racing myself fit

It’s been quite a journey! I’ve completed two sprint triathlons with variable times of 1.26 (Eton flat and fast) and 1.33 (Ashburnham not flat and fast), and almost two olympic triathlons. The first one gave me a confidence boost when I managed 2.36.03, and I felt I could cope with the sub 2.40 place at the AJ Bell London Triathlon. It wasn’t to be! I missed the cut off on the bike and ended up finishing but not getting a result for the London Tri. A second disappointment was getting too cold to complete a biathlon in Santa Barbara, California (16 degrees C wearing a surfer’s short wetsuit) – a reminder that I need to be well insulated for the sea in Scotland, but thankfully I’ll have the fantastic Blue Seventy Helix Thermal wetsuit (more to come on that soon) as well as neoprene hat(s), booties, gloves, and neoprene vest and shorts on the day!

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The trip to the US and the jet lag either side (and the good living) put paid to my 20-hour week goal, and plans for longer bike rides, but I did have fun doing a spin class in Santa Monica, running to Venice beach, and swimming in a pool in Costa Mesa. A proper swim in the sea with surfers and big waves (and stories of recent shark attack on a triathlete) was a no no!

Tri it!

Training for triathlon this summer has literally broadened my horizons. The pain of the DNF in Santa Barbara was eased by the fantastic people I met from the local triathlon community of Goleta Beach (the wonder of the internet and online entries). And I’ve loved joining Tri Tempo for 6am Eastbourne sea swims on Friday mornings and never fail to be inspired and impressed by the brilliant sea swimmers and cyclists I’ve met. Covering miles on the Downs on the bike has meant covering more ground and I’ve loved the novelty of stopping for cake and cappucino in the lovely village of East Dean (not something I’ve ever done running!). I’ve plunged myself in the sea, gone to new places on the bike and met new people – and I’ve learnt to really appreciate where I live on the sunshine coast!

One step backward (and I hope a few forward!)

Taking on triathlon has meant a few steps back in running. The 10K I ran in Santa Barbara was up there as one of my slowest for years, but I’m confident that as I get stronger across the board (and devote more time to training), I’ll see improvements. I had needed a break from marathons and mileage, and 2016 has been that break… but I’m now contemplating how I can triple my weekly training, keep working, and take on an ironman… however, first things first. Braveheart awaits. I have no idea what to expect, and my goal is very simple: finish and don’t get hypothermia.

Fear be my friend

Hunter S Thompson said:

“I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you…”

Braveheart is tough, even for experienced triathletes and I am going into my first 70.3 with eyes wide open, and fear firmly placed in front of me! I have no time expectations, I just hope I can finish. I’ll take it one step at a time. If I get through the swim without being hypothermic I’ll be thankful, through the bike ride without a puncture and to the top of the Ben – and back down again in one piece, I’ll be ecstatic. Braveheart is an unpredictable beast, an unknown, and I just hope I can be in harmony with it on the day!

I’m also very excited, life’s for living and for collecting up stories to tell – and what better way to spend a Saturday in September than experiencing and submerging myself into the beautiful Scottish highlands.

There’s still time to enter. Are you brave enough…?

ENTER NOW