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….

 

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10 Weeks To Go: Triathlon Training After Surgery

Sunday 29th July to Tuesday August 7th: the 10 and some of nine week countdown: Triathlon Training After Surgery starts on the Turbo

I left off the last blog post on Saturday – it feels like a long nine days, but lots of progress has been made.  I was still wearing the horrible post-op dressing, and only sleeping on one side, propped up by pillows. Now I’m dressing-free (well I’m wearing a plaster because the scar is ugly!) and able to sleep on whatever side I like.

 

A week is a long time in recovery

I kicked off triathlon training after surgery with a turbo bike on Sunday and a turbo, brick session on the treadmill (with sling) on Monday.  On Tuesday I endured a painful (and slow) 11-mile seafront run with my sling. It’s amazing how much work the other arm was doing! On Wednesday I combined picking up my son from work with another sling-run. It was hot, I was not.  But it was a few more miles ticked off. On Wednesday night Chris brought the Tacx Turbo trainer over  – a new way to train.

On Thursday morning I spent at least an hour reviving my old Apple Mac with its big screen, downloading Zwift and turning the wheels on the bike to get set up for Turbo training at home.  A full day in London with lots of walking and hot tube travel put paid to training and I had a day off.

On Friday I felt deflated and down! I trained on the turbo for 1 hour 37 minutes, leaning on my sweaty pillow, but faffed about trying to get connections for a lot longer. With the help of Facebook Friends (thank you to The Tri Store’s all-round guru, Simon Underwood) I realised I had over-used my Bluetooth connections – and I needed to calibrate my bike with Zwift and Tacx. Zwift will not connect to my Garmin Heart Rate monitor, my Garmin Edge and the Tacx. Someone else suggested I bin Barcelona and start again next year – and on Friday that’s what I felt like doing.

Tech Trouble (not good for an inpatient woman)

I’m not patient! Saturday morning was also frustrating in terms of connections and set up, but I stuck with it and  did two hours on the turbo broken up as a 45-minute FTP test, two other stop/start blocks and in the evening a 30-minute spin.

With Pride on in Brighton I wanted to watch the parade so decided to combine a walk/sling run with watching the parade (amazing). I weaved my way through the crowds, stopping and starting, and got very hot. And on a whim decided to try the sea. The lifeguard looked after my phone and I got into the sea in my running gear, not sure what to expect. It was blissful, I felt the healing qualities immediately and decided to have a go at one-armed swimming, then breast-stroke, then a few full strokes. I ran home and did my final spin and felt happy to have got three hours training ticked off for the day. It was disjointed, it wasn’t partially high quality, but it felt like progress.

On Sunday, best-laid plans went out the window again in the morning and Chris and I lazed in the garden drinking coffee. We finally got out in the afternoon and managed a 10K at around 9.15 pace, which felt better than my slog of earlier in the week. I ran some of this sling-free, but when the aching started I put it back on. After this, we had another sea swim, a little further this time, and a few more full strokes. And after this we saw Chic playing at the final Pride event in my local park! Brilliant!

To Race or not to Race?

The decision as to whether I race or not won’t be made until August 23rd. At the moment almost normal services have resumed, but this is an Ironman and my bike training is lacking. I’m trying to ignore looking at what others are doing or have done on Strava and the like. I don’t need reminding that volume is low, but at the same time, I’m still enjoying doing what I can do, and the small conquests along the way.  The timing of my accident was bad. August and September were/are set to be the peak training for Barcelona. This is when I expected to be doing 20-hour weeks, but with the turbo for bike training, that’s a little harder (but not impossible) to achieve.

Zwift – We Have Contact (& a custom top)

I’m now halfway through the nine-week countdown. The week has started better. Chris set up Zwift with Ant so now bluetooth picks up my heart rate monitor. I’ve also calibrated my bike to Zwift. And I’ve managed two good sessions over the last two days and another swim, this time in the pool with my pull-bouy and float. I messed about for 28 minutes and covered around 750M.

I’ve unlocked the Zwift vest… I’m a bumble bee

My brilliant cousin, Patricia, from Sligo Kinesiology, in Ireland sent me some Kinesiology exercises to do, and I’ve got some resistance work (squats, lunges, core work) prescribed by Marianne – and in the day I’m mainly sling-free. I’m on the turbo without my sweaty pillow and think I’ll be back on the road again soon, in the tuck position on my time trial bike.

So for now I’m blocking out and not listening to the naysayers and being inspired by those who are just doing it.

Well done Joanne

The brilliant Joanne Smith, completed her first Ironman this weekend, with a number of health issues in the background, far more complicated than a broken bone.  Well done Joanne, inspirational – and I hope to share her story soon.

The journey continues…

Bad bandaging!

 

 

 

11 Weeks To Go: Post Broken Collar-bone

The week is a blur of sleepiness, quite a bit of pain around my broken collar-bone, working in my living room, eating junk food and marking little victories on the road to recovery.

As I recover from my second broken collar-bone, and write this blog I’ve discovered my life without training could be very different. For one my routine is gone and not training makes me lethargic. I’m an hour into procrastinating about going for a run. It’s not the injury that’s stopping me. It’s lack of routine, and a bit of tiredness. But I’m making plans and from next week will kick-off with an adapted training plant that will be mind-numbingly boring* and based at the gym.

Pain Threshold Almost Reached

The week started painfully! I couldn’t remember the pain being so intense last time I broke my collar-bone. But if I got in the wrong position it was taking my breath away.  I was on nil by mouth, on stand-by, ready to hot-foot to the hospital for the operation to fix the break. The call came around 845am and I was told the op would be on Tuesday. I was delighted. I hadn’t expected it to be so quick. And I was able to enjoy my morning tea!

The rest of Monday morning was spent drinking coffee in the garden with Chris and trying to get myself into a position where I could type and reply to emails. Ironically, it was easier when I broke my right collar-bone. I only really managed a few emails and wrote the story up for this blog.

 

Ready for the op – clad in green compression to match my top!

After the op – coffee and chocolate before leaving the hospital!

On Tuesday Chris dropped me at the hospital for 730am. I was very glad that I didn’t have to wait another night for the plate. It was all straightforward, and as I posted on Facebook, after the morphine and general anaesthetic, my manic post op babbling in the Recovery Room was all about triathlon. In between laughing a lot I felt 100 per cent sure I was in transition and had the marathon to run, and told the staff what was happening! The woman attending to me found it very funny.

Once I was ‘back in the room’ I drank lots of tea, water, ate half a sandwich and enjoyed the biccies and a Costa Coffee choc-thing on the way out. I tried to concentrate to work, when I got home but was mainly out of it.

Slowly does it!

Wednesday started slowly. I managed a couple of work emails, but the morphine had worn off so I pumped myself full of codeine. Feeling stir-crazy, I had to get out of the house by lunchtime, so decided to go for a walk (with sling). A mile into the walk and I suddenly remembered I had a Tesco shop arriving, so ended up running and even measured the last half a mile for Strava! (11 min mile pace!). A blurry sort of working afternoon followed once I’d put the shopping away.

Energy Levels Up (& Down)

On Thursday I woke up early and managed to get a good four hours work done, then got ready to go to London for a meeting. It seemed energy levels were restored. I managed London and the tube (thankfully off-peak) on the hottest day of the year with my sling and spaced out on codeine/paracetamol and nurofen, and had a great meeting.

In the evening, family came to visit and we had pizza and even a beer and went to bed around 1230am! I decided not to run/walk or do anything as I had walked a fair bit around London.-Friday was a planned day off from work with my cousin Eamonn, his wife Mary and their son Kaiden visiting. Coach Marianne and I met to discuss plans and rehab exercises I’m going to do. I ruled out the next 100-mile TT Race on August 12th! I also had to pull out of a standard and sprint event.

Knowing if I was not self-employed I would have been given a sick-note I enjoyed mooching around the kids splash park, and the amusements – even having a go on the fruit machine – my alter ego, living on the edge in a different way!

Pikey me! What life might be like if I didn’t do triathlon

By Friday night I hit a zombie-like exhaustion. I’d had a whole day of just nurofen and the pain was much better, I had also realised that it helped to ice my sore neck (muscles aching either from the fall or from being in the tuck position on the TT bike!). I had thought I might run in the evening, but not a chance!

Procrastinating before running

So here I am today. Without my usual significant two to three-hour block of training to do, after dropping the kids to work (oh, yes another landmark, driving), I was able to crack on with work and managed to do four hours before picking up my son. And now, after procrastinating on social media, and then choosing to write this to stop procrastinating, I’m putting on my sling and heading out for a run. There really is no excuse and part of my recovery is getting back in the groove.

Mind over matter

Just back from my first proper ‘sling’ run. This is all psychological. I was feeling heavy, lethargic etc. And I was a bit cautious – and that’s how I ran, plodding along at 10.15 pace. But could I have done more today? I The general anaesthetic was on Tuesday and I haven’t had a painkiller today, so I think there’s no accident-related reason for lethargy. I was cautious as I didn’t want to lose my balance (wearing a sling to stop vibrations around the still repairing collar-bone) and fall again, but then I reasoned that I only broke my collar-bone because I flew off my bike, out of my cleats at around 20 mph, I was jogging along today at over 10-minute mile pace. The mind plays a big part in training – but overall I was really pleased to get out today.

Time on my hands!

And so, here I am having finished my weekly update, early. I have found 10 hours this week that would normally be spent training. But the plan tomorrow is to train as normal, starting with a run and I hope to get to the gym for some turbo, too. As I’ve written before I think it’s a good idea to stick to the routine and keep hours to dedicated training when injured, but just do something a little different.

*Boring is good for training the mind in Ironman and I said to Marianne I see turbo training as an opportunity to get some bike strength.

 

 

 

20 week countdown: week three, 17 weeks to go –– Best Laid Plans

Themes for week: Best Laid Plans (& Finding Your Tribe)

Another week done as I write this there’s 16 weeks to go, but now looking back to week three of 20.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. The best laid plans of Fiona always change. But the key goals I set myself did stay intact – just some of the details went off course. I had written down last week that I had to hit double figures – that happened. I also had coach Dave remind me that I needed to get on my bike, and that happened, not quite for 10 hours, but I was happy with what I managed.

I was once again reminded of the importance of Finding My Tribe, i.e. of not giving myself any excuses to not train, this week I had a good week of training because I met Tori, Gill and Rachael and joined in sessions with Arena 80 AC and Bri Tri Club – and at the local gym for My Ride. In fact, I didn’t do any sessions by myself.

On Monday I swam in the sea with Tori – it was quite choppy.  Tori swam with no goggles or hat – she’s seriously hard! On Tuesday I ran with Gill (she was running to work)  who showed me a great new route over the Downs. I finally found my Downs loop (something I’ve been looking for since I moved to Brighton) and I felt great running 15 miles with relative ease (on a run that took in 1,673 ft elevation) but then immediately after, a 48-hour illness kicked in and I was on Lemsip for the rest of the day, and following two days!

On Wednesday I had planned to ride, but wasn’t sure about getting up early after feeling ill on Tuesday. So instead I met Tori for a lunchtime choppy swim (with lots of drinking of sea water and goggle fun!) and then persuaded by Rachael I made an impromptu decision to join in a club off-road run with Arena 80 AC (the run where a man asked the group of runners at Ditching if anyone had a light?).

My throat was red roar when I got home (not from smoking I might add). On Thursday I thought I’d need to take the day off but decided to try to do something as I hadn’t cycled yet and went to the gym’s My ride class. I thought a short sharp session might help me sweat out the lurgy. I managed to work hard but I don’t think flat out. I let myself just do that for Thursday.  On Friday I had planned to go to the Bri Tri My Ride and run after, but, another change of plan happened as I wasn’t up for the early morning start and felt I needed to shift the cold. But feeling better in the afternoon I arranged to meet Rachael and we ran off road on another great route, through the poppy fields. On Saturday, I finally felt ill-free.  Again I met Rachael and joined Arena 80 AC’s super series age-graded league at Worthing (we cycled there and back). It was great to be back at park run, especially as it was an anniversary run and Dame Kelly Holmes made an appearance.

On Sunday there had been a plan to do the London to Brighton Bike ride with my sister Clare, but we couldn’t quite sort the number situation, so I cycled with Bri Tri on the route without the hill and somehow got funnelled into the finish of the London to Brighton when I went to meet my sister. I promise I didn’t raise my hands as I crossed the finish line, or take a medal or even bottle of water! Well done to my sister, Clare, who conquered Ditchling and the race on very little sleep and long working hours.

I’m still off the booze. Not sure I’m feeling the benefits as I’ve had cold sores, sore throat, and migraines, but as I write this, I’m optimistic that I’ll stick with the no boozing and that I will start to see the benefits.

This week I was reminded by Coach Dave, that ‘It’s time to get back to basics with some consistent training over the coming weeks,’ as he reminded me ‘you’re still very much in the base building phase of your Ironman training.’

The scary base plan

Consistent training is scary! Here’s the rough plan which I’ll work with week by week. It’s hard core and if I manage to do it all, I’ll be clocking between 15 and 20 hours a week (like another job!).

Swimming – use the SwimSmooth Ironman plan which includes one technique session, one fresh and fruity and one longer swim. (three hours)

Cycling – as much as possible totalling around 10 hours per week. The longer this is delayed the harder it is going to be to do well in Barcelona.

Running – four or five runs a week including one long run, one medium run with some target pace and two or three recovery runs. (up to 6 hours)

I’ve got three full weeks, and one half a week before I head to Galway to the Tribesman Middle Distance Race. Can I do this sort of training? Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

Endurance Women Stories: Fiona

This week I’ve been in contact with lots of brilliant women who’ve responded to my call out for Endurance Women stories. And their stories will be coming over the next few weeks.

Here’s my Endurance Woman Story

For me being an endurance women is in my DNA (literally), but it’s not just about sport, it’s about how I live my life. And that’s about getting the balance right: balancing doing what I love with the mundane stuff; working hard, and knowing when to rest; successful highs, boring plateaus – and thudding lows; PBs and PWs.

Yesterday morning I woke up to yet another headline about Britain being out of balance. Once again we’re called the ‘fat man’ of Europe. The Times report that ‘obesity rates have doubled in two decades, meaning that Britain is the sixth heaviest developed country, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), up from tenth two years ago.’

The health pendulum is swinging to less healthy and how we live our lives is making us fatter. Binge drinking from teenage years, sugary snacks in hospitals, children being kept in at playtime because it’s raining, huge portion sizes everywhere, and exercising only to solve a problem (i.e. get slim), not to enjoy for the sake of it.

As a child I loved sport, especially swimming. I was always outside, climbing trees, running about, fighting with my brothers, playing football (yes I was a Tomboy). I kept active and did sport because it was part of my DNA. As puberty hit, and puppy fat settled, I started to focus negative feelings about myself and insecurities on my body and, particularly on my weight. A sensitive kid, one comment about me being a ‘hefty’ girl when trying on my secondary school uniform sowed a seed. As hormones kicked in, and sensitivity became more like depression, I became obsessed with my weight and from the age of 15 to around 25 I battled with disordered eating, too much smoking and quite a lot of drinking.

Ironically, I stopped exercising in the difficult times (I think I did a Swimathon and a bit of aerobics in that time) and I turned my back on the thing I loved, not using exercise to control my weight, as many do. But as I recovered, being active was my refuge. Initially, it did start as solution to a problem (i.e. an easier way to control my big appetite), but if weight control had been my only motivation I wouldn’t have got very far. The more I moved, the more I started to remember and feel the joy of just doing it, of the freedom of exercise, and soon I remembered the real joy of racing (first experienced at Watford Swimming Club). Moving, motivating myself to get up and get out, setting new goals (other than weight) meant any feelings of depression were managed and neutralised. Activity is the best anti-depressant.

By the time my children arrived, I was exercising because I loved it. I cannot deny that I was also motivated to lose the baby fat, but exercise (back then aerobics) became part of our family routine, an hour at the creche whilst I did my aerobics, followed by the park and toddler groups. I did loads of walking and loved loved getting my babies out in the fresh air (and now they’re 17 and 21, I still do). With young children, I found running the most flexible way to train (no need to drive to a gym and get changed). In 1998, I decided I wanted to use my valuable time to inspire others, and earn money, and began the process of education needed to be a personal trainer. For the next 10 years I combined teaching fitness with journalism – all part of my ‘portfolio’ career.

As a mum and a gig economist, training (no longer exercise) became a key part to helping keep me focused and to continue to send out pitches and ideas, and work on new businesses. I’m very fortunate as I do have amazing stamina, which you need to juggle, kids, work, looking for work, doing lots of different projects at the same time, all with the ups and downs of day to day living and no job security.

Running and now triathlon have always been my way to stay positive, motivated, work hard, play hard – and I hope I’m inspiring others when I teach or write. I was born with endurance, but it’s very trainable and training can help anyone feel energised, keep going and, ironically, achieve a balance in life.

As well as physically being all out about endurance, I’m quite an extreme person, which in the past attracted me to the energy of start ups and long working hours – and like a magnet draws me to the challenge of an Ironman. I definitely don’t think that this is something everyone should do. In some ways I have to work harder to achieve balance as I’m prone to go one way or the other. And we live in a culture of extremes, with growing obesity at one end, obsessive exercisers and endurance junkies at the other.

But the balance, the equilibrium, is much easier to maintain when you’ve been out in the fresh air, swam in the sea, or being exploring on your bike with good, supportive friends who share your positive ‘can do’ attitude. Just getting outside helps me to stay in the moment and not over think – a burden of the sensitive soul. And training helps to add structure and discipline to a very untraditional working life – and I sleep very well.

I still have to keep a check on my inner barometer and not let training become something I don’t enjoy, either pushing too hard, or giving myself excuses to not do it. But my life has that balance now, and I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by loving, like-minded, and supportive close friends and family. I’m now surrounded by cheerleaders, not critics and importantly I’ve learnt to support myself. As an endurance woman, the process of getting up every day and getting out in the fresh air, ticking off one more session on the way to the next race or goal, having a routine and discipline make for a happy, healthy life.

#endurancewomenstories #realwomen #justdoit

Read More: Why I started Endurance Women

Please comment below and join in the discussion and share your Endurance Women Story with me. Contact me and we’ll set up a call.

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