Week four of 52

THIS WEEK’S PLAN:

 

Monday: AM: easy run (5.5) PM: OFF

As planned

Tuesday: LUNCH: easy run (5); PM: CLUB SWIM 1

Just Club Swim

Wednesday: AM: Long run (15) (25) (maybe hot yoga pm)

Just Easy Long run 12.5 miles

Thursday: AM: run to and from gym (1) (5) (30); PM: CLUB SWIM 2

Just 5-mile run and gym/circuit class

Friday: 6 x 1K run (7) (maybe hot yoga pm)

2K swim to get to two swims in for the week – but no run or yoga

Saturday: Easy jog, early am (3)

Off – got the 9am train to London and wasn’t back until 7pm – a day off 

Sunday: AM: LONG BIKE RIDE; pm: gym (2)

45 mile bike ride but not gym – or run!

Best-laid plans…. I’ve decided to not write a daily log of training, but I will write the plan on Sunday night and then update the same post a week later with the actual (and I know me, it will be different!).

So this week, I felt very tired! I may have under-estimated the affect of doing a 15 mile run on Saturday, followed by a 42-mile bike ride on Sunday at this stage in training. On Monday I got up and did some work, then headed out the door and just ran easy up to the top of a hill and back down again to retrace my steps from the day before and work out a way to the Downs. On Tuesday I didn’t run, and just went to the club swim set and I felt great!. On Wednesday I got up early and started work, then ran at lunch time, managing 12.5, not quite the 15 planned, but good considering I still felt a bit weary. I found Thursday’s easy run and circuit class/gym set to be quite tiring, so wasn’t too devastated to miss the swim set in favour of an event. And on Friday I just swam – but finished off with a lovely steam and sauna. I thought I might do more at the weekend but settled for just one bike ride.

I find it odd only running 23 miles and only running three times, but this is all part of my move to triathlon! At this building stage, I’ve got to conserve energy and ensure that the three sports are taken care of.

Strava Stats:

Screenshot 2017-11-05 19.35.21

Gym: 40 minutes

 

 

 

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The Group Ride

Week three – Sunday

Today I got back in the saddle. I loved it. I was apprehensive to start, as I said yesterday, it’s been 12 weeks since my last bike ride (as a Catholic girl, since my last confession is always on the tip of my tongue).

It was my first bike ride with my new club, Brighton Triathlon Club. We met at 8am outside Small Batch Coffee Shop in Seven Dials and for the second time this week I was uncharecteristically early/on time for training. A big group gathered and soon we were off.

As set off up the hill, the rain started to fall – and I fell to the back of the group. My quads were hurting. Yesterday’s 15-mile run on the seafront was making its presence felt, and even though I didn’t have any doubts about completing the ride, I was aware that I may need to work quite hard to keep up.

At the top of the hill the rain stopped,  we stopped and we re-grouped.  I found myself in a splinter group with three other hard-working and very welcoming endurance women. As we kicked off I was lagging behind. The muscles needed to add power to riding a bike – my quads and calves – are very out of bike practise.

But, I was there, and even though I was very conscious that my contribution to the group was, well, not much – and that I was proably holding them back – I was relaxed and could also see that Fiona, Sally and Katie, weren’t going to give me a hard time about it. I also vowed to myself to work hard and catch up so that they don’t have to do the work every week.

Group cycling like this is the perfect way to train. It’s not about one-upmanship, it’s not racing, it’s really about working together as a group: keeping in the rhythm, taking it in turns to lead (although I admit I didn’t do any leading today), encouraging each other on the hard bits, calling out ‘car back’ or ‘car front’, and pointing out potholes and obstacles in the road (I’m a bit out of practise here and found myself pointing to drain covers after we’d cycled past them). Unscripted, unplanned, but when the consensus is to be a group and move and train together, it really does flow. As the new girl to this group (I have joined other group rides before) with zero local knowledge and sub zero sense of direction I was very lucky to have the rest of the team plan and map out the route and find the right road when we got lost. And as a first timer on the infamous hill climb to Ditchling Beacon, I also benefited from loads of advice, tips and encouragement.

As the weeks go by and I get stronger, I hope to contribute more to the group, do my bit of leading, and help any future newcomers. For now, that’s another week of training complete. And tomorrow it all starts again.

 

Training update – the start weeks one to three

Time flies. I’m two weeks in, half a month done. It’s very easy to see the goal as some far off thing – but the reality is, it’s very close. A year is a NOT a long time in Ironman training.

So far, so good. Since moving to Brighton in August, I made it my goal from September to focus in on my running which took a bit of a nose dive. With my travelling coach Andy Payne on call, I’ve been doing steady mileage, speed work and some park runs.

Below is a snapshot of the last eight weeks (althought this week’s not finished yet). The big green blobs show my long runs, the yellow speed work and the red is for racing/parkrun, and for eight weeks I’ve averaged 38 miles.

Three weeks ago I started swimming again, and have completed three Brighton Triathlon Club Drill sets and one of my training sessions. Tomorrow I start back on the bike, after a 12-week break!

I’m hoping to keep the running mileage average at 40 miles, but now I have to add in a couple of bike rides and swims, every week.

I’m really enjoying my new clubs, Arena 80 for running and Brighton Tri Club for all things triathlon. Both are friendly and supportive and remind me how much I enjoy socialising and being part of a group with shared goals.

On Thursday the Tri swim set was all about the catch and drills. Swimming technique is something that I think could take a lifetime of practise! Graham, the Bri Tri coach reminded me that we cannot focus on too many things at once. Breaking up the stroke and focussing on one thing at a time is the only way to learn. It was good to spear the sharks and pick up the imaginary suitcase, and point my index finger in front. Like many swimmers I tend to cross my hands over in the front so I’m trying to remember to reach out wide (10 and 2 o clock in my head probably gets my arms to shoulder height).

Back in the summer I did a little bit of work on technique by going to the brilliant Fiona Ford for swim Smooth session. I’ll share what we did on You Tube later in the week.

 

 

A great long run is a series of small steps.

Doing the long session as part of your weekly training is what endurance is all about. I do love the long session. For me that’s generally a long run, but very soon will be a long bike ride, and a long swim too.

When it comes to running, the first step is the thing that makes it a great long run. Getting out of bed, putting on your trainers, and getting out the door.

Setting out on a long run can be a way to discover new places and can be a voyage of exploration on new paths, twists and turns. Yesterday we were checking out the route from Brighton to Eastbourne. The plan had been to run to Eastbourne and get the train home, but Storm Brian had meant the trains weren’t running so well. So instead, the plan was to run 10 miles out and 10 miles back.

I tripped on a very slight rise in the path on the prom just three miles into the 20-mile run. I whacked my shoulder and hip, but got up and was able to carry on. I felt good on the way out as the wind blew us along, along the undercliff path from the Marina in Brighton and then up to the top towards Peacehaven and a little beyond. It was, to coin a pahrase, a breeze. But the ease at which we were striding along the unknown path was an ominous warning of what was to come. And as expected the route back was tough, running 10 miles into a headwind, I have to confess I did get a bit grumpy as the jelly baby sugar rush dropped low, and I shouted out, ‘I’m not enjoying this anymore’.

Sea runThe path on the way back changed, too. The tide had come in and so the undercliff path was flooded and the waves crashed over the wall. At first I was scared. Thoughts of that one freak wave flooded my imagination as I splashed through the watery path. There really would be no way to escape it, if it had come in. But soon I was invigorated again by the huge waves. Getting closer to the wall so I could get splashed like a child on a water coaster.

The bull in the field, or the cow with her heifers, the odd-looking lone man, border line hypothermia in snow and rain, punctures, crazy currents and waves. The endurance athlete’s weekly event of ‘going long’  is like a mini life story with all sorts of emotions, obstacles, and terrains to cross, and very often a range of feelings from exhiliaration to  F**k this! Too much of the latter can lead to the whole thing being a negative experience, the long run being a drag, and in the long term damage gets done to our muscles and joints. It’s how we look at each long run we do that matters.

Yesterday, I pulled myself back together. And towards the end I was in the rhythm of the run, concentrating without thinking, in the flow, feeling tired, but knowing I could keep going. I also knew stopping was going to mean geting going was going to be hard work. Momentum mattered.

Going long is just a series of steps. At a very inspring talk set up by Virgin last week, the founder of the successful Conker Gin, Rupert Holloway said that business is just a series of decisions. There’s no big secret formula you need to discover to succeed. Take that next step or stop. Turn this way or that. Run up the hill or take the flat route today. Go out in the stormy weather, or stay in bed.  Buy or sell, be kind or unkind, happy or unhappy.

We live in an era where many of us will be in it for the long run. As medicine has advanced to keep us alive, it’s important to make a decision to live well now, not just live long. Diana Gould, is a 105 and was featured on this morning’s BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She lives well and it’s clear that her secret to a long and healthy life comes from those minute by minute decisions, and how she looks at her age. “I’ve got a lot of years, but I’m not an old woman,” she says. She says she’s kept moving, she’s kept social, she’s kept her brain active, and she enjoys life and things she loves. She loves chocolate and makes the daily decision to keep it in the fridge, that way she has to walk to go and get it – and that little step, that small bit of daily exercise contributes to making her live well in this long life of hers.

Listen to Diana Gould: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b099v2py#play

 

 

#DoWhatYouLove

Do what you love – and nothing will stop you. If you do what you love you’re swimming upstream. Do what you think you should do, or try to force yourself to do something and push too hard, and you’ll always swim against the current. Do what you love and the current goes with you, plans fall into place, things happen.

I heard a brilliant woman talking on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning. Her name is Nagwa Ghorab, she’s a 74-year-old Masters Swimmer. She was the Egyptian champion in her youth and after a career as a teacher she decided to pick it up again. She told interviewer, Jenny Murray, that ‘the champion was inside her’ since she was 16 years of age – and that she’d been waiting for this.

We all have a thing we love to do. For me it’s endurance events. Over the last 16 years I’ve taken part in 18 marathons, an ultra marathon of 39 miles and a multi-stage relay in Himalayas of 100 miles. Nagwa said, ‘she couldn’t stop it’ and I couldn’t or can’t either.

Many of us worry about the time it will take to train for big events, with work, family and the cost of travel, equipment, clubs and build up races, but if you’re doing what you love, there’s always a way. When Jenny asked Nagwa how she could afford to travel to events, she almost didn’t hear the question, and simply said. ‘I pay with my money. I’m not rich, but I’m happy,’ adding, ‘If somebody wants to do something, they will do it. I do what I want.’ *Listen to the show on iplayer (she’s on at 27 minutes).

 

Picture from The Daily News Egypt: https://dailynewsegypt.com/2016/06/01/73-year-old-swimmer-nagwa-ghorab-defies-odds/

I do have a lot of doubts about what I’m doing – and why I’m doing it. But I’ve learnt to trust that when I’m doing what I love, things fall into myself. Random thoughts become concrete plans, the goal and about what’s ahead shapes what I do day to day.

So this week I’m settling into the Ironman mindset. The decision to do an Ironman was taken a long time ago. I wasn’t sure when, where or how I was going to do it, but I knew I would have a go. I finally decided on Barcelona in the summer of 2016, whilst drinking coffee with elite Ironman Triathlete and coach Charlotte Saunders.

As a child I loved to swim (check out my instagram post today). Over the last 17 years my passion has been all about running and for my own peace of mind I’ve focussed on running more recently. But deep down I love endurance, and so I know I’ll find a way to make room for swimming and cycling.

The thought process and mindset is solidifying and this week random thoughts that will become part of the plan include:

  1. Doing one month off alcohol every three months. I’m half way through ‘stoptober’ (I did have mini break on Saturday and Sunday, but will add on a couple of November days to make up for this). So October, January, May, and September before the race.
  2. Getting some supplements and paying attention to the hormonal changes I may encounter as I hit my landmark birthday in December.
  3. Swapping strava and my gadgets to KM – it seems to be the way they do it in cycling, and might help me out of my must-do marathon mileage mindset.

 

 

 

Ironman Planning and Ironman Doing

Last week I entered the Barcelona Ironman and started this blog. I was all-guns blazing, ready to take on the challenge of training for the event of a lifetime. By the middle of the week, I was grinding to a halt, as a change of season cold got the better of me, by Saturday I felt awful. As reported I did the cross country and ran a very slow race, but I did it, and by Sunday the cold was leaving me and I managed an easy eight-mile run around Ealing, close to my sister’s house.

One of the things I love about running is that you will always learn something new about your surroundings by simply putting on a pair of trainers. On Sunday I ran to Elthorne Park and along the canal near my sister’s house in Ealing, West London. I love the fact that London has pockets of greenery and water everywhere. I ran past Hanwell asylum – a great location, but I can’t imagine it was much fun being locked away behind it’s solid Victorian walls.

A new week kicked off with the Monday evening session at Brighton Arena 80, 7 x 900M with , my kind of session. Having not done a weekend long run (for the first time in five weeks) and not really pushed too hard at the weekend, and finally free of that ill feeling, I felt good. The session was planned so each 300M got progressively faster. As someone who starts every race and speed session like a hare out of a trap, it was good to practice pacing. I did the first couple of reps a little quick (3.45), then for the next three reps I tried to hang on with my group (around 3.50), after five, I held back and joined a runner in the group just behind.

I’ve also put together a 12-week plan for the first quarter of IM training. Doing this reminds me how quickly the time is going to go! It takes me up to the end of the first week of January.

I love writing plans (and have spent most of the last 20 years planning a schedule for me, or for someone else). I’ve still got some plans to do, such as training holidays! But for now the plans are written, the goals have been set and it’s a case of just doing it. All the excitement, the thoughts of travelling to Spain, and getting the ironman tattoo help to give the thing momementum.

Then comes the doing. The doing can be a bit boring at times – and can often I’m left questioning the why? It takes discipline to get out of bed an hour earlier on a winter’s day to run in the rain, to leave a warm cosy house at 730pm for swimming drills, to head up to the Downs on a Sunday morning to run in the wind and cold for three hours, or to try to work out a good course for a long bike ride. This is when I have to stop my over-active mind, don’t question it, and don’t ask myself why and I have to simply just do it!

 

Back to Cross Country

The week I decide to start a blog about entering an Ironman turns out to the be the week where I get ill, do barely any training and run a very slow cross-country.

I’ve been very hit and miss with my cross-country participation but this year I feel determined to see it through to the end!

Lemsip-maxed to the eyeballs I drove the hour journey in a slightly spaced out achy body, ready to give it my best shot. The first mile was fine, a sub 7 – then the wheels fell off! It wasn’t a great performance – but I loved being back on the hills, breathing hard, and getting a very good high intensity workout, even if the pace took a bit of a nose-dive!

My performance has been a little bit up and down in recent years. Between 2007 and 2014, I had a consistent norm of running, around 20 for 5K, around 40 for 10K, around 1.30 for a half and around 3.15 for a marathon. Then the seven-year itch struck! I did my last sub 3.15 marathon in April 2014. This was followed by a sub 3.30 in Amsterdam in the same  year, and 3.28 in New York in 2015, and then a consistent slow down from there on in.

So, last year I decided to shift my focus, and put more energy into triathlon with my big race a grueling, off-road, half Ironman the Braveheart Ben Nevis Triathlon.

2017 has been a year of injury and not focussing on anything in particular, and a subsequent big drop off. But I’ve kept my toe in the water and have have taken part in a hilly 60-mile bike event, did weekly sea swims over the summer, and took part in a sprint and olympic triathlon. From the end of July I re-introduced parkrun and have taken part in eight since then – and improvements are kicking in, from an all time low of 22.42 on the 9 September to 21.07 on the 30th.

I’m not sure where my next seven years will take me, but for the next 12 weeks, the first quarter of my IM training, (taking us up to post New Year’s Eve), it’s about building a solid base with time on my feet, focussing on building miles and boosting my running fitness (with three Saturday X-country races and park runs to compete in), including a long run and long bike once a week; getting my body and mind supple and strong with yoga; and improving swimming technique, with two weekly club sessions.

 

Why Are Runners Hated? — Women’s Running

It all comes down to perspective. Most people do not understand running and runners. For every 26.2 sticker there are three 0.0. How many times have you told someone you love to run only to get a response of “I only run if someone is chasing me,” and you have to feign a smile? Runners…

via Why Are Runners Hated? — Women’s Running

The start of the Ironman Journey

If you find me tonight, this really is the start. I’m staring a blog all about my year’s journey to ironman. I’m going to be hitting 50 December and like lots of others with milestone birthdays, I’ve decided to mark it with a big event, the Barcelona Ironman, taking place on October 8th 2018.

I’ve created an online community, Endurance Women, for women who like to push boundaries, who like to look over the horizon, who have a no limits mentality.

So why an Ironman? Well lots of reasons, I (think) can, I want to die without regrets, I want to feel fit, strong and healthy, I want to live long and live well. I want to inspire my kids and I hope some other women, too.

I’m very aware I’m not the only blogger, vlogger, social media person. I don’t know where it will go but I do know that the time to do something is now. As I approach 50, I don’t want to be disappointed, too busy, too tired, resigned.

I intend to keep a regular blog, ideally daily. This week is week one and it’s been about getting started. Of course, like many best-laid plans, it’s started with a cold and a lot less training than I’d planned. But I did go pool swimming for the first time since June and signed up to Brighton Triathlon club, as well as finally sorting out my membership with Brighton Arena 80. Tomorrow, I’m going to take on my first Saturday Cross Country for quite a few years – fuelled by Lemsip!