A SOLDIER in the Irish army, 39-year-old Conor Fenlon, is training for Ironman Youghal while serving with the United Nations in Lebanon.
Being stationed in South Lebanon has its problems, one being no nearby swimming facilities, meaning Conor has not swam properly since November.
“I haven’t spent any decent time in the pool since November, its kind of hard to find a pool here in South Lebanon!”
To make up for the lack of swimming, Conor has been training for the swim through a range of other exercises.
“I’ve been substituting swimming with a mixture of rowing machines, skipping and stretch cords three times a week.”
Conor said swimming is definitely his weakest of the three disciplines at the moment but said he has a few weeks before the Ironman on June 23 to bolster his ability.
‘I have a few weeks between my rotation home and race day to get my swimming up to speed.”
Despite this glaring deficit in his training, Conor said the hardest part of his Ironman regime is training while working for the Irish Defence Forces.
“Fitting in all that training is a bit of a challenge as I’m out here to do a job. I’ve patrols to do of the Blue Line and our area of operations as well as camp guard duties and quick reaction team duties.
“I also have work to complete in the company operations office.
“Doing my everyday duties along with my training means that I have to train before breakfast, during lunch, and after dinner.
“The hardest time I find to train is when I come back in from a night patrol or a 24- hour duty, I’ll get a few hours sleep and then I’ll have to drag myself out training.”
Conor said it can be a trial getting out of bed after a late night patrol or 24-hour duty with about four hours sleep.
“The training probably isn’t the best on those days, but it’s better than not doing anything.”
Conor said he sometimes has to miss training because of work.
“It’s happened a few times that I’ve missed training sessions due to operations and I’ve become grumpy because of it. Missing that endorphin high!”
The programme Conor is following began last November and has been increasing steadily over the past six/seven months.
“I’m doing two bike sessions of about an hour length during the week and a session of over 2 hours at the weekend.
“All my bike work has been done on a turbo trainer here in the camp. I run three times a week, two sessions of an hour during the week, and then a long session over 90 minutes at the weekend.
“My running is here in the camp just on the inside of the perimeter fence.
“The programme, over time, slowly increases the long bike and run sessions by 5-10 minutes each week.
“The sessions during the week don’t vary that much but each month they increase slightly.
“A slight increase in power output on the bike and an increase of about five minutes on the runs.”
Conor said there is also three gym sessions and two yoga sessions on the programme as well.
“I find that yoga is a massive help as I’m not the most flexible of people!”
On the day, Conor said his wife Maria will be there to cheer him on along with some many of the Myrtleville Swimmers who are helping out along the run route and his Cork Triathlon Club friends.
Looking ahead to the rest of the summer, Conor said he will take a few weeks off before preparing for a few sprints and the Olympic triathlon in Cobh, Jailbreak.
Offering advice to anyone who might be dreaming of one day completing an Ironman, Conor said it is achievable and all you need is a plan.
“I’ve often heard people say that they couldn’t do a half or full marathon, that they couldn’t do a triathlon of any distance, that they couldn’t run a 10k.
“I always say to them that they can, they just have to believe in themselves.”