We caught up with Steve Pugh, one of the team at YMCA, who has just completed one of the biggest challenges of his life (and fundraising for YMCA in the process). His goal was to complete the Helvellyn Triathlon on 2nd September 2018 in under 5 hours. He started training in January and 8 months later has clocked up 250 hours of training including 58km of swimming, 530km of running, 2,200km of cycling, in addition to weekly sessions in the gym.
Steve not only completed it, he absolutely smashed his target by finishing in a phenomenal time of 4 hours 27 mins 31 secs.
Q: What advice would you give to others in terms of staying focused on a long term goal?
“First and foremost; choose an appropriate goal. I selected something which was tough for me and that has had the nagging effect of making me think “must keep training, must keep training”. It helps if it’s something that inspires you too. I’ve always done a bit of running, swimming and cycling, but never triathlon and never open water swimming. I really wanted an excuse to try them. I was also inspired by reading up about the event, where it is and how hard it is. It just captured my imagination.”
Q: Have you suffered any injuries or knockbacks?
“Not really. I’ve been adamant that I’m going to listen to my body and enjoy everything I do. When my body has said “no” or my mind has said “really?” I’ve listened. Of course you have to train, but missing the odd session you’ve planned isn’t the end of the world.”
Q: How have you kept it doing for the last 8 months?
“I put in place a series of 6 or 7 mini goals along the way to keep me motivated to train. Once I completed one (roughly every 6 to 9 weeks) I shifted my focus onto the next and, before I knew it, it was August and the big day arrived!”
Q: We know you’re big on using your MYZONE heart rate monitor.
“Yes – that and the Strava app. They have both been amazingly useful tools. Strava lets me share my outside workouts (my rides, runs and swims) with my friends and also analyse my performance in terms of speed and distance. MYZONE gives me all the heart rate data I need and also lets me share it with my gym friends. It’s especially good for my gym sessions, but links to my Garmin watch and Strava app seamlessly.”
Q: So how have you used MYZONE?
“It was the single most important tool in my training. I regularly went out and train at a specific heart rate, working harder when my heart rate dropped, easing off if I went too hard. My plan was to develop fitness based around the amount of time I can spent at different intensities.
The race started about 5 minutes after I engaged the heart rate monitor. You can see (images below) my heart rate jump from 60% (grey) to 80%+ (yellow) as soon as the race began. During the swim I wasn’t able to monitor my heart rate (as I had my head in the water) and it turns out I was going harder than expected. I suspect this was the race day adrenaline kicking in. On the cycle I kept a close eye on my heart rate and only allowed myself in the red for the steepest parts of the climbs. This worked well and I felt good coming into the run. On the run I’d kind of expected to go into the red (90%+) on the way up, but I was really feeling it and decided to just keep my effort steady in yellow and keep it that way to the finish. It wasn’t until an hour later, when I was sat eating chips, that I remembered to take off the Myzone belt; but you can clearly see my recovery… from yellow to green, blue and then grey. All in all, my Myzone heart rate monitor really did help me achieve the best possible result from my training and on the day.”
Steve’s MYZONE Report
Q: What other factors have you had to consider?
“The big one is nutrition. I’ve had to keep on putting fuel in my body regardless of whether I feel like eating it or not. Gels, bars and sports drinks were the main staples, but also plenty of food I actually like as well! The other essential stuff is all about kit. I’ve moved onto tri-bars (these are clip on bars that help you get in a more aero-dynamic position on the bike) which have increased my speed by about 10% without changing my level of effort – I’ve tested them using MYZONE to monitor how hard I’m working!”
Q: How about the open water swimming. What’s that like?
“Amazing and scary. I still have an irrational fear of ‘things’ in the water reaching up to grab me, but I’m getting over that. The experience is absolutely amazing though. I think I’m hooked. A good swimming wetsuit is essential and a nice warm swim hat. Polarised goggles help with the glare and, for training, I drag along an inflatable bag as a piece of safety kit. The thing I’m still not used to is the dizziness when you go from the swim to walking on land – you feel drunk for a good 5 minutes. It’s very weird.”
Q: Tell us about the Myzone MEP’s
“I knew it would be a big day, but wow! 1049 MEPs. That’s astronomical. I used the heart rate monitor on both the swim and run and that really worked for me. I told myself to back off on a couple of occasions and kept my effort sustainable on the big climbs. On the “Struggle” (the big bike climb I overtook around 30 people, just keeping my effort at about 92% and on the run up Helvellyn I overtook about another 20 keeping my effort consistently around 85%.”
Q: How did you do?
“By the end I had just enough left for a 50m flat out sprint. But I couldn’t stand for a good few minutes. I literally left it all out on the mountain. I’m so pleased with what I’ve achieved and the money I’ve raised. I came 46th overall and 15th in the Male Veteran (40 – 49 years old) category, out of around 450 participants. And it looks like I’ll reach my £1000 sponsorship target too. Thanks to everyone for their support.”
Q: Would you do it again?
“[Laughs]… ask me in a few days!…. Actually, I have other challenges in mind, so the training continues. I’m not sure where it’ll all lead, but I’ve had such a good time and feel so fit, I want to continue to challenge myself. But it’ll probably be something a little different next time.”
Steve is hugely grateful to everyone for their generosity; support, encouragement, advice and their donations.
Special thanks to JGS Consulting and Patterdale Hall Estates Holidays for their corporate sponsorship which helped get the ball rolling and set the scene for Steve achieving his £1000 fundraising target. Sponsorship is still coming in via Steve’s Just Giving page.
If you’re interested in setting yourself a challenge and fundraising for YMCA North Tyneside, get in touch with your ideas and we will help in any way we can to support you.
If you would like to find out more information about our MYZONE belts, please contact our reception or ask a member of our gym team. We have some amazing special offers!