James Bray - An Update of my season so far...

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My quest for European Success in Alanya, Turkey (ETU Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships). An update of my season so far by James Bray Team GB Age-Group Triathlete. My training is fueled by Meridian nut butters. Follow me on twitter @jameswbray

It's now just four weeks away until the ETU European Sprint Championships in Alanya, Turkey and I'm beginning to feel both confident (with some serious improvements on last season) as well as slightly nervous, although I'm sure the nerves will increase as I get ever closer to race day and the biggest high profile event I've ever raced in!!

Since qualifying to represent Team GB in my Age-Group (25-29 Male) back in September 2012 at Rother Valley I knew that this season (2013) was going to be huge for me and I definitely needed to up my game and continue to develop as an athlete. During the 'off-season' I sat down and over several cups of coffee in various coffee shops in East Yorkshire I planned my training and race schedule building up to and planning to peak on Saturday 15th June 2013 for the European Championships in Alanya, Turkey.

I am fortunate enough to work at the University of Hull in the Sport Science department, therefore being able to get regular time in the lab to get tested (Lactate Threshold) and seek guidance from Phil my unofficial Strength and Conditioning coach I knew I was coming into the season in 'the best condition of my life' (sorry to blow my own trumpet). I had 5 months of solid conditioning work, following a traditional periodised model providing me with all aspects of fitness, mainly aerobic/anaerobic conditioning as well as strength, flexibility and prehab work in the gym. With all of the aforementioned in the bag I will now give you an update of my season so far............

This winter I was keen to keep some hard efforts and competition in my training so I entered my local Cross Country League (East Yorkshire Cross Country League). My training plan meant that I would race these fatigued from the training I have been putting in throughout the week. That being said I still wanted to well and be able to compete again some of the best club cross country runners. Throughout this 6 race series I was able to meet my goals and more some, regularly placing in the top 20 out of a field off over 120 runners and was always the highest placed triathlete.

After a good winter of training my next step is to achieve race fitness and get rid of those dreaded cobwebs before heading out to Turkey. I have done this by targeting 3 pool based sprint distance triathlons prior to flying out in June. The three triathlons I selected were, Lincoln (21st April), Southwell (5th May) and Driffield (19th May), respectively. Unfortunately I had to pull out of racing Driffield for compassionate reasons.

Lincoln was my first race of the season and I was really excited to kick the season off in style. Having total faith in my winters training and my performances in the cross country league I was going into the race full of confidence although, a little anxious to see how all the training would pay off when I put all disciplines together. Having done this race for the last couple of seasons I knew exactly what to expect on the course so that helped calm some of the pre-race nerves. After having a really good swim I was quickly in and out of transition and onto the bike. It's safe to say that mounting the bike was a little bit sketchy, but hey that's what these warm-up races are for. I was really happy once onto the bike and felt strong, so was able to really put the power down. This strength carried over onto the run and I was able to finish well (1:07:35 & 3rd in my age-group).

My next race in the quest to get some tri specific race fitness was Southwell. Just like at Lincoln I had raced this event before so I knew what to expect of this short fast course. Just like at Lincoln I had a really strong swim and was aging quickly out onto the bike. This time there was no sign of a sketchy transition so was quickly out and smashing it on the bike. After a swift our and back loop on the bike I was on to the run section. The run was a 2-lap affair including a fairly steady run up a hill. Thanks to the cross county league in the winter this hill wasn't a problem for me as I had some great strength and flew up and down the hill and finished really well (0:56:21 & 5th in my age-group).

After comparing all my performances over the same courses from the previous years races I averaged 3-5 minute improvements and more importantly improved on every disciple. Needless to say I was SUPER happy with this. So there you have it some serious positives to be taken away from the season so far and fingers crossed that it all transfers positively in Alanya, Turkey less than 2 weeks away.

I must say a HUGE THANK YOU to Meridian for their continued support and their ongoing attempt to keep me fuelled and in some cases the occasional overdose on their various nut butters, which are all AMAZING!!