9 weeks to go: Turbo, long run, and a proper sea swim

I’ve adapted my plan and with the help of the Turbo and Zwift, I’m still keeping the Ironman goal in mind.

I’m trying to focus on what I am doing – and not what I’m not doing/or haven’t done. The positives are plenty this week.  I’m really glad to be back swimming properly, albeit slowly.  I’ve also managed some running sling-free but had to keep the sling on for a long off-road run, and I’m covering some ground on the Turbo, ticking off eight sweaty spin hours this week.

The week has gone very quickly and today’s post is a shorter one. I last blogged midway through this week, having already completed Monday and Tuesday’s turbo sessions using Zwift and I’d got back in the pool and sort of swum for 750M.

On Wednesday morning I got straight on the bike and did Marianne’s session, switching between the heavier gear and 65RPM and easier gear and 85RPM. This was followed by the prescribed brick run, which was 10K easy, moderate, harder in 10 minute blocks (roughly). I finished the last block with a sub 7.30 mile, which felt like progress with my sling (I was in and out of the sling). Thursday was a day off, but Ciara and I went for a late session at the pool, and I did fit in an easy swim and managed 600M full crawl stroke and another 600 or so of drills.

Getting Turbo Tough

By Friday I was ready to go again and did my planned long bike ride (I’d swapped from long run to long bike due to the weather), followed by an hour brick run. The ride was on the turbo and was broken up as one  hour continous, then 10 minutes on a Zwift route which I abandoned as I found it very dull, followed finally by an uninterrupted 2’10 sweet spot training session with long bouts in the tuck position on my TT bike.

Innsbruck, a tiny corner of my living room… who cares it’s a workout!

On Saturday, I was back on the bike again! See below… Trying to convince myself it was fun. After the ride I went for a sea swim, and it was blissful to be able to swim continuously for 1500M. I didn’t have a wetsuit because the logistics of getting it on and off, well, I didn’t want to go there, so I was in my Zone 3 two-piece. After 35 minutes I was feeling cold, but, it was a double celebration as I had wanted to see what I could do without (well almost without) a wetsuit. After Saturday’s training I had a lovely lunch at the Hospital Club with my very old friend, Sarah (i.e. we’ve been friends a long time, she’s not a pensioner). My shoulder ached a lot as I made my way though the crowds of Covent Garden, and I was happy to have an early night on Saturday.

Sunday was long run day! And it was a slow start. The good thing is I had my sister and niece coming to visit, so I had a deadline. But I did manage a good hour of procrastination.

Procrastination… Guilty, but reading Eat that Frog (check it out)

The Long Run

The run was hard work. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone long, or off-road, and it’s true with running, if you do’t use it, you lose it! My shoulder was achy so sling-free wasn’t really an option. I’d decided to go off-road, and hadn’t really thought about the one-armed affect when negotiating flint paths, and hills. In the woods, I was looking down at branches and potential trip hazards and as I hadn’t seen where I was going, I got properly lost. The map looked like one you’d see on Bear Grill’s The Island, when the contestants take completely the wrong route in search of the sea!

 

We’re going on a bear hunt!

I also did a cow-avoidance diversion (regular for me on long runs). They were assembled in the middle of a path in the field to Ditchling. Some mountain bikers ahead had gone right through them, so I braced myself. I stopped running as I got close and I even said hello! But one of them was ‘staring me out’ and I decided to say goodbye and then take the longer, steeper route in the field. I need to deal with my cow phobia. The run continued on the South Downs Way, the lovely bit between Ditchling Beacon and Devil’s Dyke. However, on reaching the A23 path, and the hills to take me the Dyke, I decided to take the flatter path to home as my shoulder was fed up wit the hills. So the last five miles of my run were alongside a motorway – I genuinely wouldn’t have been surprised if someone reported mad woman seen alongside motorway with sling on the news. However, I reminded myself that the mentally challenging sessions (turob, motorway runs) are all good mind-training for the day long IM coming up in eight weeks time!

Losing my marbles (and Tri accessories)

I’m writing this at the start of Week eight. Virtually every day I have to spend 20 minutes searching for some missing piece of equipment (goggles, floats, cossie, heart rate monitor, watch etc.). Today, the missing piece is the long bit that attaches the Chill Swim bag to me! And so another week starts….

 

12 week countdown – The week that ended with another broken collarbone

The week: A long trip back from Ireland; working and interviewing; my son’s graduation from Newcastle university; hills on the TT; easy running; some great swim sets; and then falling off my bike at the Sussex CU 100-mile Time Trial and ending up with a broken collarbone. The twists and turns of my Ironman Journey!

A week is a long time in triathlon training! I finished last week’s blog on Monday as the boat pulled into Fishguard. We’d got up at 630am and were by home by 630pm, and I was determined to start the week with training and have no more days off so we headed out for a three and a half mile run, which I described on Strava as ‘sore legs, grumpy, tired’ – but I was glad I had done it.

On Tuesday I was up at 630am for a bike ride with Rachael and Catherine, I was still post-half IM weary and a bit behind the girls, and somehow managed to not attach my Garmin Edge properly so it flew off onto the grass verge! Another first on the TT, I managed to climb the hill to Devil’s Dyke – a demon dealt with but more bike demons to come!

On Wednesday I met Tori for a run. A fellow endurance woman, she had got up at 430am to go for a pre-run sea swim, I’d been tempted, but I knew I was too tired. We had a fantastic seafront easy 11.3 mile run and injected some pace from just beyond the pier, keeping around about 7.40 pace for just short of two miles. In the afternoon I went to the pool and was pleased to tick off my 3150M swim set, 5 x 400 varying paces, with 150 using paddles, and 200 warm up and cool down. After this I was tired!

Early starts and Spa

On Thursday I had 530am start and very slow 10K jog, then a trip to Newcastle for my son’s graduation (2.1 in History and Politics from Newcastle University – proud mother moment!). Again, I was tried but managed to keep going til 1230am. I had decided to let myself lie in at the hotel but did think I might run, but as it was I took the planned day off, other than swimming two lengths under water and racing Ciara my 17 year old daughter in the  10M ‘spa’ pool (she won)…. it’s a thing we like to do at a relaxing spa!

On Saturday, back in Brighton, it was the perfect day for a pre-race long swim. I met with Tori and two new friends and after much faffing with parking on my part we got in. One with a hangover, one sans wetsuit, me faffed… and off we went, once in the water we were flowing brilliantly, and we were all a similar pace – synchronised swimmers. It was a beautiful swim that covered the entire IM distance, including going quite far out and joining a group of stand up paddle boarders, around the West Pier. Thanks to Nicki for the fantastic pictures!

TIME TRIAL COURSE – G100/61: the next demon

I signed up for the  Southern Counties CU 100-mile Time Trial and had a sense trepidation and gut feeling that maybe it wasn’t right for me – or was that fear? I knew this was going to be way out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to try out the TT bike on a long ride, and to do the distance in race conditions without chats and stops for coffee. I did lots of research* but couldn’t get the course to download onto Garmin Edge (note if you’re doing it and find this I have a the course on Strava). Having spoken to the organiser I thought I could just make the cut off of six hours and decided that if I had to be pulled out /timing stop at 80 miles I could just add on the extra 20 myself. But having the time pressure was the thing that made me feel nervous about the whole event which had just 40 fast riders on the start sheet. I’d checked out results and knew I’d be last.

Another worry was that I’d be knackered, but I was really pleased when I woke up at 430am to feel fine. Chris and Tori decided to join me and do some laps, as well as manning the ‘fuel’ stop.

I had that feeling of being part of a different tribe at the start: lots of pointy helmets, and disc wheels, aero shoes and long socks! As I said I was out of my comfort zone and although I was vocalising how nervous I felt, I also had a knowing that as always I was actually fine, and I believed I would complete it and reminded myself how good that would feel. I followed the example of a woman ahead of me and chose not bother with the push off start. I didn’t think it would make much difference to me.

As expected the aero-dynamically dressed riders behind me soon overtook, but I was happy with the ride, and relaxed and the course which I’d been told was ‘horrific’ wasn’t at all bad, undulating and an A road, but with great weather and relatively empty roads, all was good. After two hours I had settled in to the pace of 17.5mph. I reckoned I was now last on the lap but didn’t mind and as I started the second lap I was confident I’d keep the pace for the whole distance which would get me comfortably under six hours. I felt good in the tuck position and started to relax thinking how good this was for Barcelona, and for practising nutrition etc… I managed to eat a cliff bar and drink. I was needing the loo and try as I might I have yet to master going on the bike! But I decided to wait until I had done three hours at 17.5mph before stopping.

Chris had leant me his aero helmet and it kept sliding to the front. It was large and I have a big head – but not hat big! I hadn’t put the visor down because I wanted to see where I was going on the first lap, but when I fly hit my eyeball I knew when the loo stop happened the visor would go down. I did decide adjusting the back dial to stop it sliding to the front was important and managed to get it fitting properly on the move. Thanks goodness I did!


Being new on the TT bike I was making sure I concentrated and didn’t get lost in working out sums about pace. I took care over potholes, and focussed ahead, but for what must have been seconds, I lost my concentration. As I headed down the A283 towards the  left turn I realised I’d over-reached. I saw the two yellow jackets of the  time-keepers who were pointing left and in a split second decided to try to take the corner, in the next split I knew I wasn’t going to make it and was now out of control, and fearful of what I might hit if I went too wide, in what was left of the second I made a decision to head for the grass (and the two timekeepers). I hadn’t see the gravel on the road, or the kerb, and of course it was all too late! Over the handlebars I went landing on my left side. The pain didn’t kick in at first but I instantly knew this wasn’t ‘a get back on my bike’ situation. I lay head down lamenting the fact that I was out of Barcelona, that I’ve spent so much money on it: race entry, travel, flights, reccey trip, new bike, coaching, new gym new clothes! On top of that there’s all the training and progress made. As I lay there one of the time-keepers asked if my collarbone was okay and I said, yes fine.  A few seconds later I moved and the pain kicked in. Ah, no it wasn’t okay! I knew it was broken having broken the right side back in December. I asked the guys to call an ambulance. I had some confusion at first wondering when I had broken my other collarbone – I couldn’t remember. But soon after I felt (relatively) normal. The paramedics could see straight way it was broken.

So, that’s it. I’m off for the operation tomorrow for another plate, completing the full Metal jacket! My ironman journey isn’t going to be as smooth as I hoped, but as someone on social media and my very wise 17 year old daughter simply said, everything happens for a reason.

Next steps

The positives are, that Chris is going to lend me his turbo, and I think I might get bike strong using that. I will get to run again, last time I ran after three days. My swimming had improved but that is obviously the biggest worry with just 11 weeks to go to Barcelona it’s going to be hard to get that back.

Patience is not one of my virtues, so it may be that I have to learn to have some, hold back and not push so hard? I’m inspired by Tim Don who came back to victory six months after breaking his neck, and Chrissie Wellington who was back on her turbo a day after breaking her collar bone but as a friend reminded me, we have very different lives and priorities. Setbacks will bring interesting lessons. I look forward to seeing what unravels.

 

*Check out this report: https://ridewriterepeat.com/2015/07/26/100-mile-time-trial-doing-things-i-thought-i-couldnt/

The end of week 20: Swashbuckler Middle Distance Ironman

The last post in my training log was written in the middle of week 20 – in the run up to the Swashbuckler, my first half Ironman of 2018 –  and only my second middle distance race (here’s my first one). Here’s my race report.

In that post I said;

“I don’t have great expectations timewise on Sunday. I’m guessing the swim could be anywhere between 2.00 and 2.15 per 100m, I’m expecting to the bike to be between 13 and 15 mph and the run between 8.00 and 8.45 min mile pace. Transition is not a strong point. On that basis I’ll be aiming for around 6.5 hours plus.”

The swim which turned out be 350M short of Middle distance was in fact slower than my prediction at 2.20 per 100M (36.29). The bike was a bit faster, at 16.4 mph for 53 miles (3.14)  but a much easier course than I’d expected and relative to the rest of the field, slow! The run thankfully was at my optimistic end at exactly 8.00 min mile pace for 13.85 miles in a time of 1.50.53. Transitions were slow! The finish time was 5.50.

How early?

Overall, I was very happy with the result as it put me where I thought I was and I was very pleased to get a middle distance race done 20 weeks out. Racing, particularly in triathlon, not only gives you an injection of fitness, but it also is a learning arena. In triathlon there are more variables to consider than in the single sport and therefore always lessons to learn.

Swim

The positives for me were the 330am alarm and 515am start wasn’t as bad as I feared. Swimming at 515am may have accounted for my slower swim, but also I have to admit I’ve done very little swimming in the last six months (even before breaking my collar-bone). I was in the wrong position at the start – too near the front so had to endure lots of kicks in the face and large bodies trying to swim over mine! I looked up at one point and it seemed to be a frenzy of arms and splashing water in the mist and it reminded me of a brilliant photograph from a tri magazine – but I wasn’t sure it was that brilliant being in it! However, I managed to avoid panicking – unusual for me in this sort of chaotic swim.

Transition

I was very slow in transition one – a total of 6’13. I hadn’t mentally rehearsed transition or allowed myself to think about what I should do. And for transition two I hadn’t managed to sort out laces in my new running shoes. I had decided for this middle distance race doing it was more important than the fine-tuning, but I will pay attention in my next race (The Tribesman in Galway in July).

Bike

On the bike I realised that my cold hands were going to get colder. I had a thin bike jacket, but hadn’t put in arm warmers or gloves – a mistake, particularly with such an early start. I couldn’t change into the bigger gear and was only able to move through the easier gears. I couldn’t grab my bottle for fuel but I reasoned to myself that it would probably be an hour of coldness and I could cope with that. After an hour I attempted my bottle. I had to slow down almost to a stop and managed to a few good gulps of TailWind. I also ate  half a Clifbar. The second time I tried, the bottle felt out of my hands and I decided I needed fuel so got off the bike and ran back to where it had rolled off the side of the road. The next time I dropped it, I let it go! But I finished the bar. I felt I had enough fuel for today.

So far so good. I was enjoying the ride through the insanely scenic New Forest, where cows and donkeys roam freely on the quiet roads and a heathery backdrop made for a peaceful early morning setting. Cycling into the finish I became aware how much work on the bike I’ll need to do as I saw more and more runners streaming past and guessed I was in the bottom third. I knew even with a good run I wouldn’t be making it up though the ranks of the women, but I decided the run was my chance to feel a bit better about my peformance.

Run

The run started well and as I comfortably passed people, most of whom were on their second lap, I did let them know I was on my first. I didn’t want them to feel despondent. Passing through people is a great psychological boost and the 7.45 wish pace felt easy, feeling I was holding back I thought I’d go faster on the second lap and pick it up to 7.30. This was not to be! With hardly anyone left on the course my pace dropped off on round two, not shockingly so and I didn’t physically feel bad. I knew I was on for my goal of 8 min mile pace and sub six hours, so felt happy. I also felt relieved not to have bonked at all and reassured that I’m fit, even if I’m not super fast.

A good day

After the race I spoke to my coach about my slight disappointment with being so far down the field after the swim and the bike. Not surprisingly he reminded me that I need to do more of both. I’m also hoping that a time trial bike will help me to race faster, but I’m very aware that all the gear… well it won’t get me far if I haven’t put the miles in. Roll on the summer….

Week 18 and 19 of 40: Pacing myself and managing fatigue

The last two weeks have been about pacing myself and managing fatigue, so I can adapt to training for an Ironman, managing workloads as a self-employed business owner, a volunteer, a mum – and it’s about appreciating life’s pace isn’t always predictable.

In the last two weeks there’s been more work, which I’m always grateful for, a few committee meetings for my voluntary comms roles –and a big loss in my extended family, which puts time, and stress, and work and training in perspective. A trip to Ireland this week reminded me how lucky I am, being part of this connected group of people, but sadly it included saying goodbye to two very special people.

But there has always been a determination to stick to the routine of training. I love training. It gives me energy, as well as taking it away, it gets me outside (I  love being outside) and it keeps me on health straight and narrow (most of the time).

In week one there was a  conscious decision to ease back a little after the events of the pervious week. I was feeling tired. Work was demanding so I had to find that sweet spot between doing it and being consistent – and not being exhausted (managing tiredness is a key part of IM training) . The easiest way to do this was to take out intensity, so most of the sessions were done at an easy /steady intensity.

 

Week one

To keep running interesting but not exhausting I added in some strides to an easy run on Tuesday, including  7 x 30 secs and 3 x 1 min. An easy 2K swim and 35 mile evening bike ride on Wednesday were tiring, but again not flat out. But I did feel tired the following day, and even though it should be expected I did have a feeling of ‘oh dear will I ever run fast again?’ as I ran an easy paced hour. But experience reminded me that this is endurance training and on occasion that can mean feeling tired, and slow! On Friday energy levels were restored so that I managed an interval session on the bike in the Bri Tri Club My Ride session (2 x 10 x 40 secs) and I followed this up with a slow explore-jog. On Saturday I only had enough energy for an easy run to and from our club committee meeting and then on Sunday I really enjoyed a 3-hour off road, very easy, very hot – and very lost long run. It was hard at times but I have now worked out a great new route, and covered some more miles in preparation for South Downs Relay, coming in June.

Discovering bluebells on my long run

Week two

As the heatwave continued and tiredness kicked in, there was nothing for it but to hit the beach. I’m fortunate to own a thermal wetsuit and really enjoyed a 1100M swimming at a reasonable pace on Hove seafront. On Tuesday I ran. I used to run a session when marathon training (based on no sports science, just my own benchmark aerobic run) which was to keep 130 heart rate for 10 miles.  I decided to see where I was at 130 HR. It took ages to get my HR up. I didn’t quite manage the 8.00 min mile I used to run at this heart rate (moderate intensity), and had to settle for 8.20 and I’m guessing this is my top end of aerobic pace.  Wednesday demanded an early start as the trip to Ireland was planned or the afternoon, so I met Rachael for a 7am sea swim – it was cold! I was much slower than Monday partly due to the time of day, and partly due to a few extra waves. I made myself get out and run after the swim, feeling chilly in my Tri suit, but as always once I got going I felt good and enjoyed a 10K run. I decided to pack my running gear for my short visit to Ireland and got up reasonably early, and feeling very, very tired I managed an easy jog/explore around my mum’s home town.  On Friday I had no time to train – and was desk-bound for the day, so I was well-rested for Saturday’s half IM distance bike ride, followed by 40-minute run with the girls from Fitbitch – reminding me how great it is to train with like-minded athletes. And finally, a 33 mile bike ride has finished off the week. Next week it’s countdown to my second half Ironman – my first was Braveheart Ben Nevis – which was very different – so it kind of feels like a first! I have no idea what to expect time-wise – but I don’t think it’ll be fast.

Dream Team

 

Week 17 of 40: Getting out of my comfort zone

Monday April 22nd to Sunday April 29th: out of comfort zone

A few weeks ago I read on an inspirational business-type thing, about the value of getting out of your comfort zone every day. I wrote it down on a post-it and put in my purse – it’s stayed with me!

Yesterday (Sunday) I started to write this post with: 

‘I’m tired! This week’s training has added up to 14 hours… the most I’ve done in some time. But I’m also satisfied. This weekend was all about coming out of my comfort zone. One, to do the Swimathon on Friday night when I was feeling really tired and two to do the Puncher Sportive today, when I still feel under-confident on the bike.’

The Week

Monday: It’s my day off and I’m catching up where I left off yesterday. This is my fourth Monday off in a row. It’s become my routine.  I knew I’d pushed it last week with a FTP bike ride test, a Swimathon and a bike race within three days. In my notes to my coach I said, ‘At the end of the Puncher, I had the sort of tired feeling you have when you feel like going to sleep’, not what I expect when moving! My eyelids were heavy and I think if someone had produced a bed by the side of the road I would have conked out! So, yes, time for a rest. Rest is the time your body recuperates, muscle fibres rejoin (I know that’s not a technical explanation, but they do something), adaptations take place, that help get you fitter. And, as you get older, rest is even more important.

Tuesday:

A mid morning easy run exploring a ‘sort of’ off-road route in the mist (going around in circles on the golf course). I was out of my comfort zone taking turns into the mist and making myself run onto an unknown course.

Wednesday:

I joined Rachael from Girls Run the World for a really nice 630am 20-mile bike ride followed by an easy jog round Preston Park. Cycling still gets me out of my comfort zone. I always feel slightly uneasy about it. I also am not great getting up early and tend to not sleep the night before an early start where I’ve arranged to meet someone.

Doing a Brick session shoes and bike ready

Bricking It

Thursday:

I procrastinated and ended up not running until the end of the day. After been sat at my home office desk (the dinning room) doing accounts all day, the longer I left it, the harder it got to get out the door. Luckily, I had told two people what I had planned to do – I was accountable. So at 6pm, I got myself out the door and, once again, out of my comfort zone. I made a conscious decision to get out of my comfort zone further by going off-road. At that time of day it would be so much easier to head to the seafront. But I ran the 2 miles to the Downs, crossing the busy roundabouts by the A27, running into a field and a dead-end and climbing over a barbed wire fence to get back on track! I forced myself onto an unknown footpath that ran behind some houses and felt slightly uncomfortable about being on my own on unknown territory. And finally, I made myself get to nine miles, running an extra lap in the park at the finish.

Friday:

I was very tired. I struggled to get out of bed for the Bri Tri Club My Ride (Watt bike session) which I knew was the dreaded FTP test. I knew I had to go as places in the session are premium! I told myself the FTP test was probably not a bad option as I would work hard for 4 minutes as opposed to doing repetition intervals. I was delighted to improve my score from 159 to 170, which  divided by my body weight of 56Kg gives me a watts/kg power ratio of 3.06, putting me at the bottom of Cat 3 or Good! By Friday afternoon I was struggling to keep awake at my desk and the idea of swimming 5K in a pool seemed ridiculous. But after taking my daughter who’s learning to drive for an hour long drive I woke up – and when I got home I had no time to think so it was straight to the pool for the Swimathon. I was in a packed lane with slower swimmers at the start. I reasoned this was a good thing as it stopped me going too fast for the first 2K (I was even standing up half way at one point!). Once the pool cleared I got into a rhythm and found I was really enjoying the feeling of flow from just going up and down, length after length. After 4K my lack of swimming showed, with a little bit of cramp, but a drink a stretch and a few lengths not kicking saw it off. I was delighted to swim 1.47 for 5K (it’s on Strava. I did start my watch after the first 25M and I did 5K – although Swimathon gave me 1.54!).

Saturday:

Park run was considered but a lie-in and laze about seemed a far better option, and a recovery jog of just getting out there and moving for 5K was needed.

Sunday:

Today was my biggest step away from comfort. I have a niggling uncomfortable fear of cycling. It was sportive day and the ride (including getting there and back) added up to 5.5 hours long, and 75 miles with some hills, and an average pace of 13.7 mph, including 62.5 miles of the Puncher Sportive. I knew I had to not think too much and just do it. I decided I didn’t want too early a start, and that I’d go it alone. I headed off at 730am with tyres pumped, Garmin Edge charged, Garmin watch on, fuel and drinks on board and in the right clothing on what turned out to be a cold morning.

I was fortunate to find a group from Crawley Wheelers to tag onto for the first half and met some fellow Bri Tri club mates on the second half, but for most of the second half I was alone. I decided to stop thinking (about punctures, rain, etc…) and broke the distance down into sections. With around 10 miles to go I felt, as I said above, very tired. But I got on and got up Ditchling Beacon (for a brief moment I panicked that I may have to go down the Beacon to finish as lots of cyclists who had finished were heading back down. I knew I couldn’t do two Climbs), but as it was, the finish was at the top. I chose not to brick run, 75 miles is my longest run to date and I felt very happy with myself and ready to rest. And ready to go again this week!

 

 

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 12 of 52: Training at Xmas

Training at Xmas is challenging, and if you’re like me it’s the weeks building up with parties, shopping, and routines out the window which make it harder to stick to plans. So, for me, the best thing is not to plan too much and ‘just do it’ when I have the time.

Last week the plan for training at Xmas was to ‘get out most days, train by feel and keep things ticking over… and I added, ‘I want to also include a long run, a park run, a swim and a bike.’ I didn’t swim or park run, but I did get out on the bike after a long break and I managed a medium long run with some speedy bits.

Here’s the detail of my training at Xmas week: On Monday I finally got back to the club for a track session, but a frozen track stopped play and we set off for an easy 30-minute jog. On Tuesday I got bogged down in pre-Christmas work and then a long Xmas shop. On Wednesday I got out for a 12 mile run. I decided to run the seafront as a tempo run, but my stomach got involved and that ground to a halt. However, it eased so I then managed to run 10 x 30 second strides with 2 minute recoveries for the last third of the run (this is a regular marathon training session). On Thursday, I managed a pre-party interval session, of 6 x 1K. The intervals were slow, and felt more like tempo pace, than intervals, but it was what I could do on the day. On Friday  post-party sluggishness meant I missed my early morning slot and then got caught up in Xmas shopping and – preparations. On Saturday I chose to go for a bike ride with club mate Rachel instead of doing a parkrun. The roads were clear as it was the Saturday before Xmas Eve and the weather was just right. We had coffee and breakfast after the ride. And on Xmas Eve I was up at 6am but still didn’t have time to run with packing and tidying to organise, before heading off to visit friends and relations.

 

Week 11 of 52

The week started frustratingly as I missed my early morning run and then a closed road at night, left me driving around in circles and missing the FTP Cycle test.  It seems a very long time ago. Like the rest of the world I’m whirling around, working, shopping and partying.

With routine out the window, trips to London, shopping and decorating my house, it was easier to not think too much or worry about what I did, or didn’t do, and rather just try to get out consistently. So this week was an easy week, a just do it, but not just do so much week, a week of getting fresh air and fuelling my spirit not rigidly sticking to my schedule and I was happy to run almost 26 miles spread out over five runs.

Not every week can be like this if I want to achieve my Ironman goals, but partying and Xmas and friends visiting from far and wide has a place and can still be part of the plan.

The plan for week 12, the last before Xmas, will be similar – get out most days, train by feel and keep things ticking over. But this week I want to also include a long run, a park run, a swim and a bike… come back next week to see if I did it!

 

Week nine of 52

It’s my birthday week! And it’s going to be a busy one. I’m having my house decorated and playing catch up on work. I’ve been prescribed one more week of antibiotics, but feel almost normal. It’s all about baby steps but I need to start think ‘Marathon’  – with just over 19 weeks to go to Brighton Marathon. So here’s my rough plan for the week:

Monday pm: Turbo set with the Tri Club

Tuesday am: Birthday easy run

Weds: Long run/long swim

Thursday: Run DIY Intervals/threshold

Friday: Long run/long swim

Saturday: Velodrome and park run

Sunday: Long bike

Monday 11th December

And here’s the update, and what I did.

I was still feeling as if I was in recovery mode, with an extra week of antibiotics required, but I was definitely well enough to train. And, it was my birthday week, and… I had my whole house painted, so routine was a little bit thrown (not that I’m a big routine person with the demands of ever changing work projects and clients).

On Monday I went to the Bri Tri Watt Bike Session. It was great fun. As always in spinning, sweat is guaranteed. We were in a studio with a screen so we could see where we were in comparison to the rest of the group. I do know that my power on the bike needs a lot of work, so I’m hoping this will help.

On Tuesday, my birthday, I did exactly as planned, an easy seafront run. I was very, very slow. I do train slowly a lot of the time, but I couldn’t have gone quicker if I’d wanted to. On Wednesday I didn’t train, so no swimming or long running. I was very tired after a lovely birthday lunch with Julia (post and video coming soon) and dinner with my daughter, Ciara. On Thursday I was busy in the morning and went for intervals at 10am, keeping them at ‘comfortably hard’ rather than flat out, I stuck with an old marathon training favourite of 6 x 1K.

On Friday I stayed in my happy zone of running and did an easy 11 miler on the seafront. Saturday was busy and as I was meeting a friend for lunch I went for the 6 x 1K session again. I have to confess to feeling very unfit, and unfit for running, so I had made the decision to focus on my first love this week.

Yesterday was all about the bad weather! It snowed, it seemed, across the entire country, except here in Brighton where the wind was ferocious and the rain relentless. I managed just short of 12 miles and finished the week with five runs, 40 miles and one spin session completed, but no swimming.