Reflecting in the postseason.

We are rapidly moving deeper into Winter; the days are getting shorter, and the appeal of being out on long rides or runs has started to lose its appeal.

With no endurance events planned for the rest of the year, I feel lost, trying to piece together the last ten months.

It’s time for reflection.

Time to be honest and admit I am disappointed 

As I look back on a particularly challenging season, I pinpoint the start of my problems being in February/March due to a recurrence of an ankle injury. I always felt I was behind the eight ball and playing catch up, which played on my mind throughout the spring and summer. A hectic and challenging work schedule also meant my training plan felt less fluid and achievable than in previous years.

As I reflect, the year certainly didn’t go as planned, and I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to. It’s time to be honest and face my disappointments head-on!

My top disappoints from 2023:


1) Re-accurance of an ankle injury
2) Slowest ever time at the Wales Sportive
3) Starting the season late
4) Disrupted training plan
5) Consistent fatigue

A quote I heard this summer stuck with me, and I repeatedly go back to it when thinking about training and work.

“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get from the work you didn’t do.

Was my disappointing outcome down to a need for more quality and consistent input?

So, what did go right and wrong?


My ankle injury was a constant cause of concern and anxiety. The original injury happened way back in 2021 when I fell into a rabbit hole. No, I didn’t meet the mad hatter! The result was a very bad torn ligament on my right ankle and almost a year off running. The injury and pain repeatedly came back when trying to up the distance and pace, so much so my original Ironman Wales registration for 2022 needed to be deferred.

Everything started to look good, and I was heading towards a good rhythm and pace until a run around Delamere Forest in February 2023, where I rolled on both my ankles on the uneven ground! The right ankle had a flare-up, which was a massive physiological setback. I have not run on anything other than a solid road or pavement since this incident.

The brilliant Paul Berry from Gilmour Piper, provided excellent physiotherapy, advice and guidance and was keen for me to unleash a lot quicker than I did. At the start of a run, I was waiting for pain, almost wanting an excuse to stop and rest my feet. My runs in April and May were all around the 5-10k distance, and I didn’t reach my first half marathon distance until the second week of July, then jumped straight to a full marathon two weeks later. Once I overcame the fear, I started to break the physiologic barrier.

As I got to the later stages of training towards Ironman Wales, all my big runs were directly off the back of long cycles, often in the heat of a surprisingly hot summer. I was running over 25k each time off a min of 100 miles on the bike. The transitions initially felt tough, but I managed to find a natural pace and hold it.

Towards the end of the summer, I started to feel good about my running; I wished I had more time. My last training run was a 1hr 38min half marathon while on holiday in France. I would have taken that if you offered me that at the start of the year!


My focus for the Ironman training was cycling for two reasons. Firstly, cycling is my weakest of the three disciplines, and secondly, I know all too well how challenging and relentless the Ironman Wales cycle course is.

Like the run, I was behind schedule on bike training. The ankle injury wasn’t causing me too many problems when cycling, so on reflection, I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t build up to longer riders sooner.

My first 100-mile ride of the year was a very disappointing performance at Long Course Weekend in July, where I took on the same route and distance as Ironman Wales. Yes, you read that right; my first 100-mile ride was in July. It was my slowest-ever time and pace on that stunning route across Pembrokeshire. I wanted to get off the bike and throw it into the sea!

I was very disappointed and knew I had to change my work rate quickly. I shifted even more focus to the bike, aiming for a minimum 100-mile ride every weekend, backed up by 3-4 50k+ rides during the week, including specific hill training.

The post-Long Course Weekend cycle training was my shining light of the year. In the short time I had left, I put in the work to catch up. Yes, I could have still done more, but I stepped up.

I enjoyed dozens of rides in Suffolk, along the coast and took the cycling on holiday in Yorkshire, taking on the Velofest 100k, which has an incredible 5,000 feet of climbing.

My last big ride of the year was a very unique one for me. I created a route that took in the hill loops I was doing during the week. I built a route that combined multiple hill loops with a fast out and back, then repeated this three times. I was worried I would get bored, but it flew by, completing the 112 miles while listening to the women’s World Cup Final.

Look at the data and how you feel

Post a run, ride or event, it can be easy to be overly critical as you spend time scrutinising your performance and analysing the data. Reflection has its positives; remember, what you can measure, you can improve. Data can also be a massive weight on your shoulders. It’s important to remember you are more than the data, and you can break away.

A good coaching principle for training is to add 10% to each week in either speed, power, distance or time. As a qualified coach, I follow this rule closely, as it’s a significant factor in avoiding injury, burnout and peaking too early. However, as I have touched upon, I was playing catch up and trying to achieve goals that needed to be more sustainable, especially in my running. To be honest, from late June to August, I felt permanently fatigued.

Positive thinking

Despite all the negatives and challenges I have touched upon above, my average cycling and running metrics all improved, and I was able to see improvements on comparable routes and times. I tracked every one of my hill loops and could see an upward trend, although my best times suggest I peaked a few weeks early.

I do look back at 2023 with very mixed emotions. In many ways, it feels like a lost year and opportunity. However, I keep telling myself I need to focus on the positives.

So here we go. I’ve done five negatives but will try and do ten positives from 2023

1) Completing my 4th Ironman Wales
2) My fastest half marathon in 3 years
3) Completing the 2.4m Wales Swim
4) Completing 112m Wales Sportive at Long Course Weekend
5) Running a marathon with Matt as part of his 7 in 7 challenge
6) 7 100m + cycle rides
7) 10+ over half marathon distance runs
8) Over 60hrs of training in August
9) Recovering from my ankle injury
10) Great training season with OnVenture co-founder Sam, including our first-ever Triathlon Roulette!

Looking ahead to 2024

Reflection over and time to start thinking about 2024. I have lots of ideas of what I want to achieve. I can go into the year in a much better place, especially for running. I will focus on going to the gym in the winter and working on my functional strength, stability and agility. I will also spend time on the road running with freedom and no pressure.

My current goals for 2024……… These will probably change by next week!

1) Run 100 miles in under 24hrs
2) Run 10k under 40mins
3) Get back to 5k under 20mins
5) Cycle from Lowestoft in Suffolk to Lands End in Penzeance (furest Easterly poijnt to Westerly point in England)
6) Spend more time running with my good friend Matt and OnVenture co-founder Sam

Finally, embrace reflection on your disappointments but stay focused on the positives and what you have achieved.

Thank you for reading

Daniel Coughlan 


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