Week 11 of 40: Swim Smooth Stroke Analysis and pre-camp training

Monday 12th March to Sunday 18th March

This week was a pre-training camp week, so not too much work before arriving on Sunday, when the bulk of my week’s training was carried out, with the week’s IM training tally being three runs, three bikes, and one swim, which included some fantastic Swim Smooth stroke analysis.

The week started with a ‘just do it’ nine-mile easy run after the weekend. I decided to run for an hour to an hour and a half and not look at my watch and thoroughly enjoyed it. On Tuesday I returned to an old favourite of 6 x 1K with a 60-secs instead of 90-secs recovery. I went as hard as I could which on current form was my current half marathon pace (4.40).

On Wednesday I settled for a 30-minute My Ride spin session. I missed the slot on Thursday morning for a run, then it was back to the club My Ride session on Friday AM, with a killer 3 x 3 minutes at 120% FTP.

An unexpected turn of events on Friday meant no sleep at all before travelling on Saturday, so I was pleased with Sunday’s four-hour block on Day one of the Got To Tri Camp.

Swim Smooth Video Analysis: Work on the Catch

We were videoed to see how we swam and coaches Graeme and Rachel gave us excellent and detailed feedback using Swim Smooth Stroke Analysis.  My weakness is  in the catch and therefore I need to train myself to ‘reach over the barrel’. I lack power due to not engaging the big muscles in my back (latissimus dorsi). Our coaches base their analysis on Swim Smooth Training. In 2016 I had my style analysed by Fiona Ford, a leading Swim Smooth Coach who analysed me as a  Kicktastic swimmer, with a stroke characterised ‘by a very dominant and propulsive leg kick’ but one that ‘lacks catch and feel for the water with their arm stroke. As kicking is a relatively inefficient method of propulsion, and uses very large muscle groups, this swimmer is often short of breath.’ At the time I was probably running more frequently and more miles. A year on and my upper body and position in the water has improved, as has my cadence and rhythm, but the kick is similar, if not as robust. This time the coaches classified me as Bambino where, ‘Co-ordination in the water is a key concern and learning to improve their rhythm, timing and catch will really aid this’.  As someone who swam competitively as a child (6am in the morning for three or more years)  and loves open water swimming I think there were some limitations in the description from Swim Smooth, however, having not trained for three months I can see how this label fits. The focus for me in the run up to Barcelona is, says coach Rachel, about improving the catch and feel for the water by sculling/doggy paddle and trying a slightly increased stroke rate.

Check out the video of me in action!

Week 10 of 40: Fitness tests in the pool and on the bike

Monday 5th March to Sunday 11th March

This week was low in volume but I was pleased to fit in some fitness tests on the bike and in the pool. I also decided that I may swap the marathon for a half marathon as I focus my energy on the six month countdown to Ironman.

I had given myself a pass on hard training this week, as after three half marathons in five or six weeks and the start of the triathlon season, just around the corner, I thought I deserved a bit of recovery. But the recovery was a bit more than planned due to another turn of events, called life.

On Wednesday on what was hers and my dad’s birthday (he died last January), my aunty in Ireland died.  Being Ireland, funeral arrangements were quickly organised and we flew out on Saturday morning and back Saturday night.

Fitness Tests

Earlier in the week I’d managed a couple of swims and three My Ride (spinning) sessions, including another unexpected FTP test (see last week’s post). This time I scored a little higher, 164 (it was 159 the week before), but I’m not sure it was totally correct as I didn’t hit stop after I’d finished in time to record the result accurately, so I’ve given myself a FTP  of 162 (or 2.89 watt/kg) and am using that for sessions going forward.

I also attempted a Critical Swim Speed (CSS) test for swimming, which includes a warm up, then 400M at pace, with five to 10 minutes of easy swimming/drills, followed by 200M at pace. The times are recorded and from this you can estimate your goal time for 1500M and race pace in general. It tells you what your lactate threshold is, and, just like in running and cycling, training at this threshold pace once a week, can help you get fitter – and faster. You can read more about CSS testing here. I completed it at a busy public pool in a session time popular with senior citizens, so there were a few stops and diagonal lengths and for a more accurate result I will do the test again!

Maintenance now. Hard core very soon!

I have to confess to some bailing out and procrastination this week. For example, opting for a cup of tea with Bri Tri Club mates on Friday instead of going straight out to run (saying that the spinning session had been tough!). I did have the tea break and chat justified as I’m not in the six months red training zone!  However, I think this is the last month I can get away with this. After Easter it’s six months to go, and then I have to get my head down and get training, consistently – and up the volume of training. And from Easter onwards I have to say no to tea breaks and yes to running off the bike.

I’ll have a half!

However, when it comes to running the Marathon, I think it’s looking less likely. I had decided last week I’d need to do four 20 mile long runs to get me in shape. I’m now a long run – and a whole week of running – down. I think even my planned ‘tempo’ marathon maybe counter-productive when it comes to the longer term goal of the Ironman. And I’ve done enough marathons to know what training I need to do to enjoy it and run it well – and that box has not been ticked. So I’m going to stick with the half marathon, and soon after the 2018 triathlon season will be in full-swing.

To keep base building and for my peace of mind, I’ll try to fit in three more long runs before tri season starts. I love long runs (here’s what I think about long runs). And I haven’t forgotten that this summer, I also need to fit in long bike rides.





Week nine of 40 (part two): My 3rd Half Marathon for 2018

The week started slowly with three days of no training. And finished with a four-day cram and my 3rd Half Marathon of 2018.

In my last post, which I wrote half way through week nine on Wednesday night, I talked about the lack of training, due to work and family and life. Writing it down helped get me motivated – and I’m accountable – so with just four days left I had a renewed sense of purpose on Thursday morning kicking off the week then with a treadmill run and finishing on Sunday with a half marathon.

Week 9: cram training

The Dreadmill

The crazy session was 17-miles on the treadmill. I’d been inspired by fellow Endurance Woman Wendy Oates, who had shared her 18 mile treadmill run with the Facebook Group. Energised, I realised there was really no excuse, and the Beast from the East wasn’t getting through the doors of Withdean Stadium gym. I’m not a treadmill fan. The longest I’ve run in the past is around 10 to 15 miles. But, I found the experience really useful at this stage in training. For one, as my meditation course was drawing to a close on Thursday night, it gave me an opportunity to consolidate what I’ve learnt, and to practise mindful running. I find my biggest issue on the treadmill is a wandering (bored) mind. I get obsessed with numbers, time drags and my RPE is much higher relative to running outside. But, once I started to run in the moment I realised I felt fine, it wasn’t difficult, the pace was right for a long run, and I’m only where my mind is whether I’m up on the Downs or staring at the gym car park and listening to Absolute Radio. I believe all of this is good training for an endurance athlete, so with accountability in mind, I commit to the following:

I will do a long treadmill run once a month in the run up to IM (that’s six more sessions from April).

There was snow stopping Wendy – and she inspired me!

FTP Test

Ignoring all sensible advice and what I know about training and performance, I decided to follow Thursday with a hard FTP /Ramp test on the bike with the Bri Tri Club on Friday morning at 645am. Ideally, any test of V02 Max (which essentially is what the test measures)  should be performed when an athlete is well-rested. But at the moment I think it doesn’t really matter. I wanted a rough idea, and I think the test was fairly accurate. The problem with doing back to back hard sessions isn’t so much the short-term, it’s the longer term impact on recovery. But in my mind the psychological damage of not doing what I  had planned would have been worse. As it goes as I’m a fairly average cyclist so the test didn’t go on for very long,  but I do have a benchmark from which I can measure my bike fitness – and an incentive to get on my bike. For anyone who’s an expert in FTP and Ramp tests (I know that there is a difference) and the sports scientists among you, I’m still learning about the variables, so don’t want to give any incorrect information. I did the Ramp Test on a My Ride bike at the gym, and from this I can train in colour zones/intensity relative to me: https://www.teamicg.com/is/bikes/ic7/wattrate. My score was 159 which if I divide by 55.5Kg (my weight) gives me this score, 2.86 which is my watts/kg.

Tri Training: Trying to fit it all in

I had hoped to fit in another bike session, but tiredness did kick in, so on Saturday I ran an easy five miles and swam 2.5K at a steady pace. Then on Sunday, on a mission to race myself fit I took on the Eastbourne Half Marathon, revisiting the town I left in August last year.

Eastbourne Half

The treadmill session, FTP test and the 2.5K swim did catch up with me. The half marathon was perfectly manageable, but there was nothing in me that would let me race. I crawled up the infamous hill (9.27)  and decided to try to get it back by picking up the pace to a nice 6.44 on the down. When I reached the seafront I decided to race and try to catch the women ahead, which I did… but not for long. In the past (or when I’m rested) I can inject some speed in a race and then go back to the pace the other runner was at and stay ahead, in this case 7.22 to overtake, and then back to just under 7.30. But it didn’t go to plan. Yes, I was quite happy at 7.22 for one mile, but rather than settle back to 7.30 for the rest of the race, I only managed one mile at 7.30.  Once I realised I was slowing down, I consciously decided to stop racing and just run the race at a tempo pace, which turned out to be an average of 7.54 for the remaining six miles and a race average of 7.47, which for where I’m at now was just fine. I followed the race with a 1K swim and sauna (surprisingly I had achy arms when swimming not legs) – and had a satisfying Sunday lunch and complete crash, rounding off another week’s training.

Week eight and half of nine of 40: Start, stop, snow, go…

Monday 19th February to Wednesday 28th February

Winter Triathlon Training

Week eight’s training was good. I had a busy work week with two London work days, but I was feeling enthusiastic to get going again after skiing. I went back to My Ride and the track at running club on Monday, I swam for the first time in 13 weeks on Tuesday, and I got back on the bike on the road (well the flat prom) for the first time since my accident in bitterly cold wind, but sunshine. Finally, after a busy few days in London including visiting the Tri Show in London I ran the Brighton Half Marathon on Sunday at the goal pace of sub 7.30 (on my Garmin). There are 168 hours in a week and I trained for six hours and 47 minutes and I felt satisfied with a good solid week of training and focus on my goals.

Thanks to Ant Bliss from sussexsportphotography.com for sharing this pic with me on Facebook.
A great race photographer and friend.

Snow Go

The first half of week nine however has not been so good. We’ve had the dreaded Beast From The East, the snow and the freezing cold. I don’t usually let weather stop me, and have always chosen to run in the snow, but this time I thought I’d be a bit more cautious, as I didn’t want to risk falling on black, or any other kind of ice. So I gave myself a day off on Monday. However, yesterday, Tuesday was one of those training days that just went wrong from the off, largely due to indecision and procrastination.

I put on my kit first thing intending on running outside, then I saw the snow and decided to do an interval session at the gym later in the day. Then I started work. I had to go to town in the afternoon and decided I’d run after that, but a variety of hold ups and becoming extremely cold (I’d gone out in my running gear and lightweight jacket) meant I simply ran out of time and motivation, and if I’m really honest I gave myself an excuse not to train.

False Start

This morning, I got up early to go to My Ride spin class at the gym, with a plan to follow this with a treadmill run. I arrived at 635am and could see that the gym was closed. A sign on the door said, it was opening at 8am.  As it turned out this was a blessing in disguise as when I got home I got a call from family about a close relative who’d been rushed to hospital, and all training and other plans were put on hold.

I know that running and training makes me feel good and not running and training makes me feel bad – and I also know that consistency is vital for success. I could have run when I got back from London this evening, but I chose not to. Family is more important than Strava logs and sometimes stopping, reflecting and resting is what’s needed.

If you can…Start again

If we’re lucky, every day is a chance to start again and presents us with a blank canvas. Every day my alarm call is Feeling Good  by Nina Simone,  ‘It’s a new dawnIt’s a new dayIt’s a new life. For me. And I’m feeling good.’  So, let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Last week:


This week so far:

Week six and seven of 40: End of five-week spin block and this week being ‘ski fit’

Monday 5th February to Sunday 18th February: Ski Fit

Week six started the day after my first half marathon for two years. The good news is that I felt no fatigue at all from the race, no aches, no tiredness. The week started with an early morning My Ride Spin session and I was pleased to complete another week of three sessions, bringing to close a consistent block of five weeks of three times a week spinning classes since the accident.  Running was made up of three runs, two long slow runs and one treadmill session with steady intervals.


Getting Ski Fit

On Saturday 10th February I travelled and on Sunday I went skiing. I wore my Garmin but didn’t really give an exact record of what I did as I was too cold to run it on when we started! I did however record 25 miles worth of skiing and found my heart rate averaged 81 and maxed at 116pm – so for me it seemed it’s not an aerobic activity. (It’s worth noting it was day one and I  was skiing cautiously because of my recent collar-bone break), However, exercising at altitude, being outside all day, working out in the cold leaves me feeling, well, knackered. And according to Harvard Medical School, a  person who weighs 155 pounds burns 223 calories in half an hour of downhill skiing.  And three days in I’m feeling ski fit! I’ve noticed  the burn in the quads after a long day, and the satisfying tiredness from being cold and active at altitude. I did wonder if five weeks of spinning had helped me ski better, but I’ve read that quads are not worked eccentrically on a bike, as they are when you ski.

Strength, balance, agility

However, from my experience over the last few says I feel my body being challenged to be strong, to be flexible and to balance and be agile. I’ve focused on using my core muscles and am aware as I twist and turn downhill I’m working my legs as if I were doing repetitive squats at the gym. And once again I’ve been reminded that I must stay flexible as I get older (I want to be able to get up when I fall on or off the ski slopes!).

I’ve also hit very, very cold points (including getting so cold today I was reduced to tears)  and I’ve had some serious shivering episodes. However, I’m reassured that my shivering means I can scoff more tonight. As Outside Magazine reports, ‘A 2010 review of studies on shivering, published in Frontiers in Bioscience, found that 75-to-80 percent of the calories consumed by shivering came from muscle glycogen stores. So if you find your teeth chattering, you’ll want to increase your carb load’.  And as I know from experience of preparing to swim in cold temperatures for the Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon, brown fat activation happens when you’re cold for an added calorie burn boost.




Bigging up the bag lady look

Week five of 40: My first half marathon for two years!

Monday 29th January to Sunday 4th Feburary

Back to racing is a joy – especially when there’s no pressure…

I’m so pleased that I’ve managed to get back out there and run a half marathon again. Last year was the first year in at least 10 that I hadn’t completed a half marathon. My dad died in January and when I lost him, I lost my running way, fracturing my ankle 45 seconds after the start of my only half marathon attempt at Paddock Wood.

Two years ago I was very disappointed to run 1.37 for the half marathon at Watford (I went on to run 1.35 at Worthing a few weeks later), but yesterday I felt delighted to finish the race in 1.39. Having no expectations and feeling totally relaxed helped. And with no pressure to run a time, I loved the experience: being on the start line; hearing the pounding feet as we headed off on the first fast mile (something I also noticed the first time I ran Watford, which was also my first half marathon ever, in February 2002) and enjoying the miles ticking by, the hills and the camaraderie of running.

It was a perfect running day, cold weather, but sun shining. As I ran along with the group I realised I’m lucky. I can run a  half marathon on a Sunday morning because I have the time, the resources, the fitness. I also noticed that being at the slightly slower end of my average half marathon time, there were more people around me.

I think, not thinking, is on my mind (I know the irony of that), as I’ve just completed my second meditation and mindfulness session and have started to fit in meditation. Running is the perfect partner to meditation and mindfulness what my friend Julia Chi Taylor calls Meditation on the Move.

Relaxed & Mindful Running

So as I raced a half marathon yesterday without focussing on numbers and a time, the experience felt more mindful. I did look at my watch to get a rough guide to where I was, but I wasn’t trying to stick to an end time. I  was guiding myself by what I felt in the here and now, not where I wanted to be at the end of the race. I left looking at the watch until I was three miles in as I knew that I’d kick off fast and would take a few miles to settle into a pace. So I played around with sub 7.30 as a guide, then as the hills arrived aimed not to go over 8. I didn’t go over 8 and I ran an average pace of 7.38.

I didn’t think about what overall time I was aiming for until around seven miles when the sub 1.40 pacer appeared, then I thought, okay, put your foot down, and don’t go over 1.40.

The Week’s Training

As for the week’s training. I once again managed to do three spin classes and ran more miles than I had for a several weeks, a total of 46.4. To get these miles ran, I had to fit in a 16 mile run on Wednesday. I looked back and discovered that it was my first long run in 11 weeks, but I ran at an easy 9.25 minute mile pace, and took myself off on a magical mystery tour, running up the hills to the Downs and back down again heading towards  the sea! The rest of the week’s running was easy apart from a treadmill session on Monday when I had a go at intervals because I can’t do anything else on a treadmill, managing 2 x 800 at 6.50 pace; 1 x 800 at 6.59; 1 x 1 Mile at 7.15 off 90 second recoveries.

Week four of 40: A week’s training in four days

Monday 22nd January to Sunday 28th

My training blog for last week is brief! The training was crammed into four days, from Tuesday to Friday, due to a busy work week and family commitments.  I ran  33 miles over three slow runs with the longest being 12.5 miles, and I did three My Ride Spin Classes.

I feel very mileage-depleted and am a little worried about the lack of long runs for my ‘tempo’ marathon. But I am pleased with what I managed to fit in this week, as commitments on the off days just got in the way of training. It’s all about adaptability.

Friday’s brick session was challenging, a tough My Ride, followed by 12.5 miles of running – but very satisfying.

I also saw my physio at Studio 57, who gave me some great exercises to do for the recovery of my broken collar-bone*. She also taped me up as I may give a race a go and I want to avoid too much vibration and irritation to my broken bone.

I’ve done a little video of my exercises which I will share if the guys at Studio 57 are happy for me to so. You can see the ‘still’. And also how I was wrapped up should I choose to race.

*Note I am a little ahead and this might not be right for everyone at this stage.

Week three of 40: Getting back in the groove

Monday 15th January to Sunday 21st

Training last week got me feeling back in the groove. I’m taking baby steps back to Ironman training. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I feel fitter and I even managed to go for a run sling-free on Sunday!

So here’s the week of Ironman training… On Monday evening I headed off to My Ride (spin class). The instructor saw my sling and spent ages getting me set up and in place, but two minutes into the class I started to get the familiar flashing lights that show a migraine is on its way. For me my migraines are more about vision than the super intense headaches, starting with a few flecks, and flashes, then full-blown kaleidoscope after about 10 minutes. I tried sticking it out for two tracks, but the Toronto river walk on the screen was making me feel sick and I could barely see, so off I went!

Tuesday started much better, although the migraine had lingered on all night on Monday, so I still kept the pace easy and enjoyed a 10 mile sling-run along the seafront. On Wednesday I had a busy day in London so it was an early start at My Ride, then off! On Thursday I met Rachael Woolston for an FTP test. I’m not quite sure I mastered it, but the score was, as I expected very low,  but it was good to get a benchmark. After this session I ran and felt okay so decided to throw in some tempo running around 8 min mile pace and managed five miles at this pace, nearly nine in total (I’m conscious that marathons need mileage so it’s good to add in extra when I can). On Friday I joined Bri Tri Club for our early morning spin class. Using My Ride, we were training in colour zones (blue easy, red, hard – that’s very simplified) which was motivating and good fun. I followed this with a freezing cold sling-run, including one mile sling-free. I headed off to The National Running Show on the 7.09am train on Saturday morning and didn’t train, but on Sunday I met Rachael near the NEC and we had a chatty run around a small lake. I had intended to continue round the lake, but when I found myself jogging in the Hilton car park, I felt it was time for the treadmill.  headed inside and hopped on for a 10K run (I say hopped on, it takes all my mental strength to do a treadmill session). I managed the entire 11.5 miles without my sling. I was four miles short of a target of 41, but pleased to be back to basics.

Fiona Bugler's collar bone break X-ray showing six screws and plate

Clever surgeons have nailed it!

So-long sling

Week two of 40: New Goals

Monday 8th January to Sunday 14th

Week two of 40 weeks of Ironman Training with the focus still on recovery and building fitness for the first shorter term goal of getting fit enough to run the Brighton Marathon.

Week two was about getting started again, and getting some goals in place.  My collar-bone feels very stiff and I’m guessing it’s how should feel when the bone starts fusing back, but it’s making me feel a bit more cautious about  doing longer or faster running.

I didn’t quite manage the 10 hours plan! I did train for 5.5 hours. I think 10 is probably too lofty a goal at this stage.  The good things were the weight gain, dropped off and I’m not fast, but I’m not too unfit as I was able to get out and about and join My Ride classes and do some easy ‘sling-running’.

Sling Runner

Week two included getting my tooth fixed, and losing the top-dressing on my clavicle and I’m moving about and mostly normal! I went to the physio at Studio 57 too early (typical me –inpatient) but have booked another appointment for week three.

So what did I do? I ran four times, and got on the stationary bike three times. As always adjustments have been made. Midweek, I thought I might get a long run done at the weekend, but after seeing the physio and feeling more tired than I expected, I procrastinated my way out of it and just ran 10K easy on Sunday.

I was told that even though I feel fine, I have to wear the sling still to protect the healing I cannot see and avoid too much vibration. I was told by a friend who’s also a radiologist that when you break a bone and it’s in plaster you have to stop, but a collar-bone, with a plate that feels fine, still needs to be treated with care. I did listen.

It’s not brilliant going ‘sling-running’, but it’s not awful either. It’s annoying but I feel more confident on my feet now and I don’t think I’m compromising my running gait too much. To make myself feel I’m still moving forward I did however, set myself a goal. You can read about my Marathon Goal here.


Volunteering at park run was a real positive and something I would like to do more of, injured or not. Such a great event. All life unfolding in front of me as I stood at the boulders, watching the two per cent of the population who can be bothered to get up and get out on a Saturday morning – fastest and the slowest putting in the same amount effort, feeling the same pain – it was truly inspiring.

This is a quickly composed post (possibly riddled with typos)as work has suddenly got very busy – and as a self-employed content consultant I’m going with it and planning to run around 40 miles and do some My Ride Bike training sessions. I  will update next week.









Marathon Goal

 & What it took me to run sub 3.30 and sub 3.15 for the marathon…

The drama of the broken bone is done. I need to get fixed and get fit. I feel like I’m starting all over again and have a blank sheet for 2018. For me the thing to do is to set some goals (realistic goals) – and given the time of the year, it’s time to set my marathon goal, which this year, is a stepping stone to the Ironman in October and I’m calling it my ‘tempo’ marathon.

My collar-bone has another four weeks to fully heal, and although I’m sling running and cycling this is pre-training, training. I have set the marathon goal and written it down (to be revealed later) but whether I do the marathon or not is still to be confirmed and full marathon commitment is on hold for five weeks. In five weeks I’ll know whether my collar-bone has healed properly and I’ll have either got the running started, or not! I’m certain that I do not want to put short-term gains ahead of the long-term and be left with an arthritic, achy shoulder.

I keep good records of training and know what results I can expect from the mileage I do. Based on the previous evidence, and my current fitness and time available, I know that the best mileage I can expect to accumulate for the Brighton Marathon in 14 weeks is a maximum of around 650, which is really only over 12 weeks as I have a week’s skiing and a week Tri training in this block. I’ve added to that 100 miles ran for the previous six weeks (when I had 2.5 weeks out due to injury and illness and ran less anyway!) and that’s a total of 750 for 20 weeks. This is roughly 75 per cent of past marathon mileage for 20 week blocks. However, I will also be re-introducing cycling on the road, and swimming from mid Feb onwards.

Come April it’ll be three and a half years since I last ran a marathon (although I did take part in the Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon in September 2016). 2017 was my rest year. I didn’t do any distance racing, I had a few injuries that meant I took more than a month off. This wasn’t planned, but I do think I’ve benefited from having a rest year, a year where I ticked over with some triathlon and 5Ks.

I have set myself my Tempo marathon goal. It’s considerably slower than the past but it gives me a starting point to take me into the V50 category and beyond. I’ve written it down today and photographed it to be shared when/if I cross the finish line in April.

And as far as what I did to run sub 3.30 and sub 3.15 marathon, here’s the mileage I ran:

1190/ 2009 Nice


1114.4/ 2010 London


1095.5/ 2011 Brighton

3.16: hot day should have been quicker – ran a 320 off road in Richmond a few weeks later after a night out!

1023.5/ 2012 Berlin


899.3/ 2013 London



973.5/ 2014 London (had also done Himalayan 100 in 2013 so good for endurance)


926.3/ 2014 Amsterdam


909.4/ 2015 New York