Coaching Story - Mollie Pearse


My predictions were correct; Bruno was not going to be one to mess around. I am now entering week three of my new training programme and what a ride it has been in such a short time frame. I spent week one in slow motion and in a permanent state of exercised induced nausea. Week two was largely dominated by Joel’s birthday celebrations, but culminated with an amazing adventure race in the Brecon Beacons and far less slow motion. As far as week three is going… the return of the cold water swim and general active recovery after an amazing weekend in Wales.

Week 1

My first swim under the scientific eye of Bruno was not for the faint hearted; with a main set of 4x400m at race pace, I was required to wake up with my A-Game ready to rock (if in doubt, I can be sure to find it at the bottom of a double espresso, especially at 5am). The set was somewhere between savage and brutal, I was definitely pleased to have the structure; I just didn’t really feel like I was going anywhere, especially for the unusually high heart rates that I was creating. The post swim data dump indicated that I probably hadn’t been pushing myself for the last few months.

I have cycled fairly consistently over the last few months, granted it has probably been at a rather leisurely pace in comparison to what is needed. That said I was happy with my cycling form…until I got back on a watt bike. You really cannot hide when faced with a screen of data. Although I was moments away from vomiting and my legs were screaming, I was having a wonderful time! It was a sweat fuelled epiphany; I knew exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it. I am totally connected to my purpose.

There was a common trend in week one. I knew I just had to get my head down and suck it up. Yep, run 1, also brutal. A run route that I had previously galloped around as a recovery run took all my mental and physical strength. Yet once again, through the sweat, I could see and feel where and what I was aiming for. I saw perspective, no time to slack now. Every session counts.

After a bashing of all major muscle groups, I figured a gentle cycle to work was a good way to ensure some active recovery. Little did I know that the morning in question was to bring with it monsoon rains. As I approached the lights at Stockwell tube, I glanced at a fellow cyclist and cracked a smile through a watery outlook. In a quintessentially British way, I said “nice day for it”. The lights changed and with an enthusiastic burst of forward motion he threw me a smile; “I’ve always wanted to swim to work”. He had a point!

I was a little disheartened with the way I felt through week one, I had fallen into a complacent trap and hadn’t given any credit to the speed at which I would lose fitness…or indeed the level of fitness I had achieved earlier in the year. I knew I had more in the locker so I decided to look through some old blogs and training sessions to see if I was actually progressing at all…Swimming alone, I have shaved 12 seconds off of my 100m time in the last 2 years. That was enough to tell myself to get a grip and crack on!

Weekend 1 was jam packed, of course, and nothing like an 80km bike ride to get me back in the game. I had a superb time flying down the hills in Kent and a moderately enjoyable time battling up said hills. It was great to be back on Bertie for longer than a commute. Fortunately for me I had planned a chilled evening with my bestie, which turned out to be extremely fortunate as I was barely able to walk to the car…yep, I drove the mile to hers….and then proceeded to download Deliveroo so we didn’t have to walk the 500m around the corner to collect our evening meal. Sofa, red wine, best friend, dinner to the door. Exceptional.

The fact I had to use Deliveroo didn’t bode well for my scheduled 75 min run I had the following day… 

Week 2

I started week 2 with a total of 120 recovery hours for me to get back to a ‘rested’ state…there was more chance of me winning the lottery. I was definitely back in the game.

Although I felt physically OK, it was likely the adrenaline carrying me through as my cognitive function was definitely wavering. As I read the weeks training plan on Sunday night, I was fixated on the 19x100m main set for Tuesday mornings swim…what a strange number. Why not 20? Perplexed at the oddity of the number 19 I charged on and it wasn’t until I was in the pool, on the 16th 100m that I realised the method in Bruno’s madness. Obviously it was 19. 1900 m is the distance of the swim section in the race. Perhaps I should have taken some of that recovery! The total set was 2.7km, smashed it in 50mins. Happy with that.

The remainder of the week was non eventful. All sessions felt tremendous in comparison to the previous week, so I just got through them and I was grateful that I wasn’t sick! I cracked on with some yoga and respected the fact I was now requiring the same volume of sleep as a small baby. Lucky Joel!  

The real highlight of week two was The Dell Management Challenge. 70km of canoeing, running, hiking, mountain biking, bog running, laughing and general adventures around the Brecon Beacons. I was entered into one of two teams from work…given my infancy within the company I was a little apprehensive as to how the weekend would be, but from start to finish it was superb. I was utterly impressed with the physical and mental resolve of the folks from LinkedIn. I absolutely love a weekend of exercise, as you can tell and I am sure some of the other guys and gals do too, but fair to say the experience was not as familiar to all. The weekend not only required a solid physical effort, but a mental one too – we were given a case study to answer regarding the National Autistic Society, which we were to discuss and document whilst battling the elements of the Brecon Beacons. Our team worked through most of the thinking whilst trudging uphill through bog on our way to the summit of Pen Y Fan and we documented our thoughts and recommendations once showered back at the house, with a glass of wine in hand. I just hope the recommendations were of use to such an incredible charity.

I would struggle to pick an exercise highlight of the weekend, I was truly grateful to be out adventuring for two solid days. Gallivanting uphill and down dale and skidding sideways on a mountain bike like an energetic teenager. There were several moments on the mountain bike when I was charging past a number of competitors and each time shouting “on your right”, just to try and lessen the chance of calamity…each time I was greeted with “yeah, great. Alright?”…they didn’t get the directional nature of my comment, instead thought I was asking for their welfare. This was about a team adventure and not just individual achievement.

The weekend made me realise the importance of a good team. The theme of the weekend was ‘resilience’, in which I can see great value for all aspects of life. Whether you are totally physically exhausted and on a mountain side or you are mentally exhausted and trudging through challenges at work…a sprinkle of resilience and a strong team of awesome humans will certainly get you through. The weekend was a source of great inspiration for me, so thank you folks. Both teams, you are all champions.

Week 3

It is early days for week three, but after a sports massage last night I am feeling refreshed and with the return of the cold water swim today, I am now mentally and physically refreshed!

Thanks for listening


You can read more of Mollie's stories here:

Mollie Pearse is a member at Cadence and has been coached by Ciaran O'Grady previously but is now coached by Bruno Mahsoudi for triathlon-specific preparation; receiving training, testing, and coaching as well as most other services at Cadence!