The quest for Rio, an update – blog

Age-grouper Phil Renna shares his latest progress in an audacious bid to make the Olympics

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Dear readers, I apologise for my prolonged absence – I’ve been celebrating! 2014 was an unforgettable year for me and marked an important moment on my triathlon journey; I’m referring, of course, to the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, where – as a sponsored athlete for the first time – I managed to come 25th over the sprint distance course.

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So here we are, well and truly settled into winter. Memories of last season are beginning to fade, the nights are long, and the view from the window that used to entice us outside has become the perfect excuse to stay indoors. To that I say take a page from Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ book: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

For me, this is the perfect time of year to start training – next season is both close enough to get excited about and far enough away to set big targets (and stand a chance of achieving them).

One of the best opportunities that the off season presents to triathletes is, strangely enough, the chance to stop training like one. It’s easy to forget that triathlon is made up of three distinct sports, and that to stand a chance of being competitive, especially at the top level, you need to be able to hold your own against the best swimmers, bikers and runners out there.

The World Triathlon Series is packed full of athletes who are world class in the individual disciplines – swimmers like Richard Varga (who at one point held the Slovakian 1500m freestyle record), cyclists like Ryan Sissons and, of course the inimitable runners Alistair Brownlee and Gwen Jorgensen.

This winter, I’m targeting the run. Not only is it my weakest discipline, it’s also undoubtedly the most influential in determining the result of Olympic distance triathlons. Winter for runners means cross-country and trail running, and getting off the tarmac is a fantastic way to develop the all-round strength required to turn yourself from an average runner into a great one.

Last winter I made the mistake of telling myself that these were low intensity “base miles” and that the real work would start in spring. Not so this year, and to make sure of it I have set myself some tough running challenges:

1. Human Race Events IceMan 7th Feb – WIN

2. Brighton Half Marathon 22nd Feb – Top 20

3. Human Race Events MudMan 7th March – WIN

If any of you UK-based runners want to come and take me on, especially at the IceMan and MudMan, I would relish the challenge. If not, then I look forward to hearing about your own off-road experiences. Happy training, and remember, don’t leave it too late!

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Don’t forget, you can join me at the sure to be magnificent 25th anniversary celebration of the Windsor Triathlon, where I’ll be competing next year.