So, what comes next?!

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It has been a long time since I wrote that last post.

I was not sure whether to actually put the following onto this blog. I’ve only told a handful of people about it and even that was terrifying. However, re-reading my post following the Triathlon back in September the decision was not a difficult one. The unwavering support I got from every single person who read the blog and the unreal feedback I got too (a lot of people appear to like my ‘chatting shite’ style of writing) was enough to spur me to write again?

So, just what is next then? In short, utter ridiculousness. In long, carry on reading and you shall see.

After the Triathlon, my training didn’t carry on as  it had prior to that weekend. Rest week led to rest weeks, which led to Christmas and New Years, which lead to my 30th birthday which led to eating and drinking all the goodies in New York at the end of January. I had trained sporadically during that time but never got into a routine. Which isn’t too bad, but I had signed up to do Reading Half Marathon on the 19th March. Oooops.

Once back from New York in early February, the running started in earnest. Man alive had those few months taken their toll. First 5km out after coming back was tough. It was a slow slog where I got terrible back ache, which I completely blame on belly having got me (youtube if you’ve no idea) and was putting strain on my lower back.

Carried on with running 2 or 3 times a week and then it came to a week before the race. Did 18km at just a bit slower than I’d need to hit my target time. It felt really great and the pace was not a problem. God bless muscle memory, as otherwise the 5 weeks wouldn’t have been enough to get into a place where I felt comfortable.

Race day arrived. Paul and I said that we would run the entire thing together as our pace was pretty much identical in training and be good to have the company. Where I was meant to be running in the 1:45-1:55 contingent, Paul hadn’t put down a target time so was placed in the 2:10-2:20 group and wasn’t allowed to start up with me. I didn’t want to run this without him, so I went back to his group and we started at the back.

IMG-20170319-WA0000Due to this though, the first half was spent overtaking via weaving in and out of competitors or going long ways around turns. over the first half of the race our pace was much higher than I had planned for to the extent that we did the first half about 3 minutes quicker than I’d planned for. Even after slowing the pace a bit and taking on a gel, I felt the legs starting to get heavy and with 3km to go, I hit the wall and hit it hard. I checked my split times after the race and was averaging just under 5min/km pace. Those final 3 were, 5:19, 5:35 and 5:59. I entered Madejski Stadium and the atmosphere was incredible (which it was every single part of the route I must say). Despite being close to being sick and wanting to pass out I managed to do a sprint finish. Then I collapsed into a heap by the barrier. Paul helped me back up and the finishers bag with mars bar etc in helped bring me back to a less than zombie state.

Strava said I hit my target time of 1:45 but official chip time was 1:46. I am really proud of it and I know if I fuel better and can pace a bit better from the start, a bunch of time can be taken off. I will be back next year.

Now I have told that tale, I will go ahead and reveal the future target. It is…………..going to take 3+ years to get there by my reckoning, but I am now aiming to qualify to become a GBR Age group athlete in Duathlon.

Mad, yes. Tough, hell yes. Achievable, we’ll find out.

You might be wondering at this point why Duathlon and not Triathlon, given this is a blog that focussed on the later. Well, the answer is simple, I am still utterly terrified of deep water.

Following the Reading Half, my training was still geared toward the Triathlons, getting some more strength work into my training as knew my endurance was at a pretty decent level. In mid-April I then went out to do my first open water swim of the season and despite the water only being 10 degrees, I started off feeling strong in the water. This was to be short lived, with me having a full on panic attack about 120m from the shore. Not going to go into more details but it has knocked me for 6. The decision to move away from Triathlon was tough, really tough. Despite never really enjoying swimming and always having to force myself into the pool, I felt really defeated initially. Being the stubborn sod I am, I didn’t want it to not end on my terms.

Then I read the blog post from last year (oooooh, foreshadowing earlier in this post) and realised I had not been defeated. I managed to do things last year I would never have imagined I could. I challenged myself and I came out victorious on the other side. Nothing can ever take that away from me and I will never not be proud of what I achieved. Would I have liked to have gone up the distances and eventually done a full iron distance race? Absolutely. But things change and so I can’t dwell on it. I have set myself a challenge which is totally different from what I have done before. It is not half as terrifying but the work and commitment needed far surpass that of last year. Plus I partook in a Super Sprint Duathlon at Dorney that I’d planned to get some race speed and sharpness and I absolutely loved it, finishing 4th in my race. It was what led me to my decision and immediately felt less burdened somehow.

Where do you guys, those reading this, figure? Quite simple, please just keep those kind words flowing. I read it all and every comment means a great deal.
If you know people who would like to help me on this journey, through advice, expertise, coaching etc.  Any and everything will be massively appreciated (I’m sure my Nike deal will happen any day now).

I shall leave it there for now, thank you all for reading this.

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It’s getting close now

So, it is now a mere 6 weeks until the day this has all been building to, and I can’t believe how quickly it has come around. Seriously though, where the heck has this year disappeared to?
It has been a very long time since I last posted following the Ardingly Duathlon, due to the last couple of months being chaotic and all change as mentioned before.

For a few weeks, following the switch of job and the move back to Reading, the training was not going brilliantly. My swimming definitely suffered the most, but felt like I was just maintaining my fitness rather than improving upon it.

Over the past month though I’ve really felt the progress and even the swimming has come along nicely.

As it is very fresh in my mind, I’ll discuss the swimming first up. I’ve not been able to get into the pool as often as I did back when I was in Bristol due to how busy I am with work. I’ve gotten back into going at least a couple of times a week though and have finally had my first open water swims. The first of those was at the Triathlon Centre in Bristol, which is a man made lake that is as deep as a pool, so perfect place to start for me. I managed 600m in total but it did include a few stops as I was really fatiguing.

A week later and my first real test, a proper open water swim at Bray Lake near Windsor. No touching the bottom during the swim lay ahead of me, and knowing this terrified me. To the extent that I managed to swim only 200m but struggled through every single metre of it. I was panicked so much that my heart rate was just through the roof, even before I started to swim. I came away very disheartened and knowing the Tri was only 7 weeks away, was questioning the whole thing. I don’t like to shy away from a challenge, especially one I’ve been building up to for so long and have been vocal about on here and to everyone I know.

Fast forward another week and it was the day of me doing the London Rat Race. This is an obstacle course run, with a lot of items ending up with you in the water by the Excel. The first obstacle was a pretty high up water slide which had a kicker at the end, then about an 8foot drop into the water. As expected, I was a bit scared when sat up top ready to go but I didn’t hesitate and away I went. Fortunately, because of the mandatory buoyancy vests for each water obstacle, it meant I was only submerged for a second. Once I popped up and realised I had nothing to worry about, I relaxed and actually looked forward to the other ones that ended up in the drink. The final one that involved being in the water was a 20foot jump off a plank into the water below. Before the event, this was, again, terrifying but in the run toward it, I realised I was actually quite excited about it. I did the jump and at no moment did I panic. I loved the whole thing.

You’re probably thinking ‘that’s all well and good, but get to the point idiot’. Fine.

Paul and I went to Bray the day after Rat Race and the fear I had the week prior was all but gone. I had moments of slight panic when I breathed in some water, but each time was only for a second before I calmed myself down and tried to get back into my rhythm. I managed just over 400m in total over 2 stints, with no pauses. It could not have been a bigger contrast to 7 days prior. I genuinely enjoyed it.

I now know, I can do the Tri next month. It’s a great feeling. I just need to become even stronger, and hopefully faster on that swim leg.

Running and cycling are now progressing nicely. I’ve signed up to do Reading Half Marathon next year and last weekend I managed over that distance on a morning run from Sonning to Marlow. Which was a PB in terms of distance by around 10km. Gives me a fairly large amount of confidence. Just need to do more speed work so that 2.5km next month in the Tri will be a swift one.

Now to the cycling. Which, again, has come along quite a lot this year now I look back. The speed at which I think I can maintain without burning out has gone up quite a bit, as has my overall fitness. This is helped by the setup I now have on the trusty old Dolan, but also making sure I am on a bike in some form at least twice a week.

Really excited now for the final 6 weeks of prep and hope I can once again surprise myself on race day and look back on the 9 months prior with pride and look forward to taking on the next challenges.
 

Say it very quietly…….progress

Now, I hope this doesn’t result in a commentators curse type situation, but the past few weeks have been, overall, pretty positive.

The calf strain that has been dogging me since that first track session is still loitering and got very bad last week after going for an exceedingly slow run around Berlin. Since returning, I’ve been icing it most evenings and managed to do a very good track session on Monday. The calf ached afterward, but nothing like the previous week. After that I’ve taken the decision to not do any running on it for 2 weeks, just to give it some proper time to heal up. With the first Duathlon only 4 weeks away, I would rather get it sorted now than have it drag on much longer.

Hold on, how can the title say progress when the above is pretty negative? Well dearest readers, that was the bad news first. What follows is the other side of the coin.

First up is that swimming stuff that I am not so hot at. I had another lesson with Mark@Create on the 19th Feb which was focussing on me relaxing my stroke and getting breathing a bit better. As I suspected, Mark said I was kicking far too much which isn’t uncommon with more nervous swimmers and even more so those with strong legs. After doing a length I was just out of energy because of the work the legs were doing. We used a pull buoy a few times, just to take them out of the equation and although I kept rotating my body too much and flipping over, it did feel much better. The remainder of the lesson was then just trying to slow them down as well as relaxing my arms too. The difference was noticeable immediately. I was only getting 1 length still, but was not wiped out by the end of it. The breathing aspect, turns out turning to my right was not my preferred side as first time trying to breathe to the left it felt much more comfortable. All in all, pretty decent 60minutes. As always Mark, huge thanks.

Following that I didn’t really get much swimming in due to being away for work etc. This week I took the decision to change up the majority of my training schedule. Whereas I was only managing 1 or 2 swims per week around weight training, cycling and running, I can now swim 4 or 5 times a week. Instead of weight training during my lunch breaks each week day, I am now swimming. This has been possible because I’ve re-joined a Crossfit box and am using that 2 or 3 times a week for WODs (workout of the day for those who’ve never done Crossfit) which should keep me covered on the strength and conditioning side. I only started this training on Tuesday but already seeing the benefits of swimming each day because today I swam 2.5 lengths of the pool with a pull buoy. I could have gone beyond that but the traffic jam of oldies in the pool stopped me. I did 2 lengths on a few more occasions today, so left a happy boy. Will continue the majority of my training with the pull buoy but will not totally forget about the legs, but as I’ll be in a wetsuit in September, I feel it is an acceptable focus to have.

Moving away from the wet stuff to finish off, cycling has been going well, been out on the bike with Paul (my brother) and averaged around 35km/h on a pretty flat 10k route and then averaged 25km/h into a head wind on a more challenging 10km return. This week I did 30km on the bike in the gym and did that in 52:08. So think on a flat course like Dorney, I should be ok to average around 30km/h+ which was where I was hoping to be when I started the journey.

Running wise, I did a couple of solid runs before the calf went south. Ran a  horrible 4km with Paul and Lauren (sister) and averaged 4:40mins per km despite having a very tight chest and little warm up. Following day, after the bike ride with Paul, we did a very gentle 4.5km averaging around 5:15mins per km which felt great. The run in Berlin was with others dictating pace and was 4km averaging 6:40mins per km. I did manage to run in the Tiergarten, as seen in picture at the top, so not all bad.

Judging on the runs and the track sessions I’ve been doing, I think I will be able to average around 4:20-4:30 mins per km in the first race, which I would be happy with. Hopefully have that nearer 4:00 by the time September comes round.

Nutrition wise, just finishing off the GSN 30 day challenge but can’t lie, I was not exactly strict on ith, especially in Berlin unsurprisingly. It has opened my eyes a bit to a few things that I was not getting enough of in my diet before, so shall be using those findings going forward.

Right, enough of me waffling on, until next time let’s whisper this even quieter…….even more progress.

Ciao

 

The Official Start

As soon as I have written that title I find myself wondering just how many blogs of this ilk have started this week. And now after typing that sentence I realise I don’t care. This is for me and wouldn’t matter if it started in January or June, I’d be doing it all the same (except maybe less cold if in June).

I set the title as the official start as this whole thing is something I have toyed with but never fully committed to for a couple of years now. I am not new to exercise, I have done Crossfit on and off for a few years now but realised late last year I needed specific goals to really keep motivated. I’ve been tempted by a Duathlon for a while now but never paid the fees to get one lined up. Also, to shift some timber during this would be great. Currently at 83kg after the holiday season, would like to be nearer 70 but not the focus. If I do well in my goals, weight is almost irrelevant.

Now you wonder, why not a Triathlon, even if just a Super Sprint. Well, the biggest challenge of this journey is going to be the Swim. Not being able to swim more than 10 metres at present and not able to breathe whilst doing so is going to be the biggest challenge to me. I’ve had a fear of deep water (read, where feet can’t touch the bottom) since I was a child. I took a swimming lesson last year, realised I can kind of swim but didn’t go beyond that. Now I am starting them again, with my first lesson of this journey booked in for the 14th January. What a lovely birthday that will be.

Now for less background, more plans and first updates

Current plans for 2016 are:

Super Sprint Duathlon – Eton Dorney – April

Sprint Duathlon – TBD – June

Super Sprint Triathlon – TBD – August/September

These timeframes are not crazy in my mind, I could probably do a Super Sprint Duathlon in a couple of weeks, but I know I would suffer a lot and at this early stage would demotivate more than anything else. I would want to be able to feel that each event I do is an achievement and be proud of my performance in each.

Exercise for 04/01/16

Lunch session – gym – Weight training, heavy deadlifts and upper back exercises.

PM session – gym – Constant speed run. 11.2 km/h for 2.5k. 500m walking. 1.5km @ 12km/h, 300m @ 9.6km/h. finished with 200m@ 12.5km/h.

Walked for 5 minutes. Then did 1 minute @15.3km/h, walked for 1 minute, ran for 1 minute @10.5, 30 secs @ 15.5km/h, 30 secs at 16.5km/h. Cool Down

In the main run I wanted to do the final 2k all at 12, but felt awful, so slowed for a bit before finishing it off. I’m not too disappointed as still got some flu left over on my chest, so breathing isn’t 100%.

Anyway, long enough thread for first post. Thanks for reading