UK Norseman winner...the journey to black tshirt begins

This month, Mike Tate our UK Norseman winner started his training with blueseventy coaching partner Andy Bullock. The first session was a video swim analysis at the University of Bristol and enabled Andy to give Mike essential feedback on his technique to help him become more efficient over the 2.4mile swim. In the first of his training blogs, Mike talks us through his thoughts on winning and starting training towards that famous black tshirt.

Over to Mike...

"It seems like a long time since I speculatively sent off my entry to the blueseventy Norseman competition. Little did I think that I would be short listed let alone voted as winner in the competition. Before I go any further I need to say what a humbling experience it was to read all the Facebook comments throughout the competition. A big thank you to all those who voted - not just for me but also to all the others who made it so close right up to the very end. But when the call came from Shaun at blueseventy it took a while to sink in- I'm going to Norseman; the worlds toughest triathlon and one that has been on my bucket list for years.  To say I'm excited is an understatement! 

But any journey must start with small steps. As part of the prize I was to get a full training program from top coach Simon Ward and before this a swim analysis from Andy Bullock of Endurance Sports Coaching. Between them it was their job to get me into top shape to push for the black t- shirt at Norseman- I'm not going there for anything less! 

However, never one to do things the easy way, as well as Norseman I had already entered a number of races. This year was not going to be an easy one- in the space of 11 weeks I would be undertaking 4 iron distance races; Outlaw in July, Norseman and Challenge Copenhagen in August and finally Ironman Wales in September. The coaches were certainly going to have a challenge on their hands- getting a middle aged triathlete through a series of some of the hardest races around. And finally if this wasn't enough of a packed schedule I'm getting married on June 1st to Tara who is the critical final piece in the racing jigsaw- an ironman athlete herself her tireless support of my mad endeavors would be the glue that would be holding the year, and me together.

The journey began with a trip to Bristol university pool on Monday 8th April. I was meeting Andy bullock coach to a number of top triathletes to have my swim analysed so that I could learn from the feedback to ensure my swim was as good as it could be. Norseman famously begins with a jump off the back of a car ferry in a cold Norwegian fjord followed by a 3.8 km cold water swim back to shore with only a bonfire to guide you in so it is essential that my swim was as efficient as possible. The better my swim the better position I would be in at the start of the mountainous 180km bike leg.

In the newly refurbished pool complex Andy filmed me from every conceivable angle- in front, from the side and even directly above. His expert eye fed back small tweaks to make on my stroke. My left arm was slipping through the water and not catching and pulling my body through it enough. From watching the filming back and with Andy's positive comments I worked on pulling over a barrel and pushing back in the water. This small tweak made immediate improvements and I felt like I was moving better. Other feedback included the need to do more core work so that this area could be engaged in the stroke. 

It was clear from the footage that my hips dropped so i will need to spend time outside the pool working on my core strength- sadly an area that i have ignored for far too long. The hour spent in the water was really interesting and Andy's experience and knowledge but especially his friendly manner meant I came away with some key areas to work on. Swimming in the pool is one thing but I can't wait to put on the new blueseventy Helix suit and see how these tweaks impact on my open water swimming. Usefully Andy emailed me files of all the footage he had taken and has written up notes on his observations so that I can remember the work I need to do. 

The day with Andy in Bristol also hit home that I've started the journey to Norseman in earnest. On the journey home I spoke at length with Simon Ward who would be providing the full coaching plan. This plan starts on the 15th April so it's now all systems go. This year looks daunting but I'm sure with the support of blueseventy, top coaches and my family it's going to be an unforgettable ride. 

Thanks again to all who have, and are, supporting me in this adventure and I'll update my progress through this blog on a regular basis. Please feel free to comment and feedback as we go along"

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