Moving on from world champs

More than 30 Nelson triathletes competed in the world championships in either aquathlon or triathlon events in Auckland a few weeks ago.

It required a fair amount of dedication over winter and after the big event it's inevitable that many will feel a bit flat, but summer's here and most will have to pick themselves up and get ready for the next big thing.

I did both Auckland events and felt happy that it went as well as could be expected.

Doing well wasn't my big goal though. I wanted to go to the world champs because it's a good experience and a good motivator, but my real goal is to capitalise on the passing of the years by doing as well as I can in the next 12 months in my new age group.

I'll be turning 65 next year, so my new age group will include some fairly old geezers. You can slow down a lot as the years start to pile on, so the first year in a new age group is a chance to get some decent results.

I find that although I finally have more time to train, arthritic hips and a dodgy back can make exercise much harder and less enjoyable. But I'm privileged to have a wonderful group of people helping me to overcome those disadvantages.

Candace Donovan, of Sports Therapy, is the physiotherapist for the Tasman Makos, so she's used to heaving around great big specimens of manhood.

She also looks after a few geriatric athletes, including me and Ben Van Dyke. Ben won the 60-64 gold medal at the aquathlon world champs in Auckland, so whatever Candace does, it seems to work.

My next goal is the national championship over the half-ironman triathlon distance in Tauranga on January 5. It's only eight weeks away, so there's no time to waste.

To capitalise on the pre-Auckland training and get in the longer distances needed for Tauranga, I rely on my coach, Lionel Padial.

I'm in touch with Lionel several times a week, feeding him information on how I'm doing. We work on a four-week cycle, where the training gets progressively more intense over three weeks, then eases off for a week.

The programme on my desk lets me know what to do every day, but if things don't work out, a quick consultation with Lionel helps me decide what changes are necessary.

Four mornings a week I'm at the pool with a group of sea swimmers and triathletes. On three weekdays, our group works with a programme supplied by triathlete Jon Linyard. This is mainly speed and endurance, with a few drills.

On Saturdays, Lionel takes a group of 20 to 30 mature swimmers for a session of about 90 minutes. This one has more drills and instruction on technique but we still manage to get through 4 to 5 kilometres of swimming.

You can see that getting the best result depends on the help of other people and involves some investment of time and money.

Nevertheless, it can shape your life, giving you health, fitness, satisfaction and the company of some great people.

These benefits aren't just the prerogative of young elite athletes competing at the highest level. We can all achieve amazing results if we go about it the right way and have realistic goals.

In my spare time as an event organiser, I've been putting together a training package for beginner triathletes aiming at the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon in March and that will be the subject of my column next week.

I've pulled together some of Nelson's best coaches to prepare a package that will introduce you and two friends to the wonderful world of triathlon, including two sessions of 60 to 90 minutes in the pool with Lionel and three sessions learning about the other disciplines with personal trainer Nige Burgess.

When you line up in the team event on March 2, you'll be the best you can possibly be.