Ailbhe Carroll: Where my winter went

Aiblbhe Carroll is one of Polaris’ supported athletes for 2018. An elite Irish triathlete, Ailbhe has big ambitions for the next couple of years, hopefully culminating in a Tokyo 2020 appearance. We caught up with her to see how her winter break and training went

Winter training for me started back in Autumn 2017 (seems so long ago now). I kicked things off at the end of October which gave me six weeks of movement before my first winter camp of the season.

December and January were looking good for me as I had a 2 week camp pre Christmas and the same again after Christmas nicely planned out with Triathlon Ireland. We headed out to Aguilas, Spain, and the weather was a welcome relief.

The way the two camps fell also meant that because Christmas was smack bang in the middle I would have a full 6 week block with no work. Stress free. Time to focus solely on just training. It was an absolute pleasure.

The first 2 week camp was a very interesting experience for me. I learned a massive amount about myself and what I could and couldn’t push, where I should and shouldn’t push, and just a general awakening that having confidence isn’t such a bad thing at all.

I held back a lot on this first camp, never really knowing what my body could do or handle. I didn’t want to be that person that went home in a box, absolutely shattered. I didn’t want to be that person who could finish the camp because she had spent herself way too early. So maybe I was overly cautious, maybe I should have given it more, but it turned out that what I did actually gave me the perfect platform to work from for the two week interim between the two camps, and for the final camp itself.

I went back to Spain, and the minute I set off on the first ride, I felt like a completely different human. My numbers were up from the first day. I thought it might have just been a bit of fresh legs but the next 2 weeks were to tell me something different.

My swimming had become so consistent and so solid that I couldn’t quite believe it as I haven’t seen swim form like it in quite some years. Chuffed. My biking was showing power figures I didn’t know I was strong enough to produce, repeatedly. Elated. My running was stronger than I could have imagined considering it was my first time introducing run session of any notable mileage and added in with the hourly load from the camp, I was one happy Ailbhe.

My December and January were very successful on a personal level. I came back home and had real fear over what the following week might bring. Back to work and starting a second job role that was going to take time to get used to. I knew there was going to be a lot of balancing that I needed to get used to and I was really quite scared to get going but I am now back at it for three weeks, and I think I am starting to find a bit of balance. It could always be better, and I might have to drop a few things in the coming weeks depending on how I feel, but it is good for now.

I am currently about 4 weeks out from my 2018 season opener which I will fly to Gran Canaria for. We are going out a few days early and staying a few days later after the race to take advantage of the vitamin D on offer and bank a nice few sunny miles where we can so that I am super looking forward to.

My weekly training hours are low compared to most people I race against so it is really a matter of finding what works for me and tapping into that as best I can. I know I don’t get any more than around 8-12 hours a week which seems like nothing when you compare it to the norm of 20+ for most. Some weeks I get less time, some weeks I have more time – but it’s how I utilise that time wisely that is key.

It’s been a really good, consistent winter for me, and I am seeing numbers that I haven’t seen before, but where does that put me in the pack/race? Time will tell. All I know is that I am super excited to get out there and get moving for the race in 2018. I have set some big goals for myself this year and I am working very hard to make them happen, so fingers crossed all goes to plan!