(Lack of) Winter Training

There’s no two ways about it. This winter I am really struggling to keep up with any regular training. Work has been so busy and just life in general getting in the way. Dark evenings don’t really help matters either as the motivation to get going and moving just aren’t there. Days are shorter in term of light but do actually feel shorter too.

I know I’m not the only one.

I’m hoping that once Christmas is out of the way – my mojo will come back a bit more. I am already planning next year and really want to do better than I have been and aim to be more consistent. Improving across everything would be good!

More sleep. Better training. More consistency. That’s the basic plan.

Mission 2020 is on!

Today saw me bite the bullet and go to see a PT.

A Personal. Trainer!

I told one of my mates last weekend – and feel a bit mean I haven’t asked her to be my PT (she’s nearly fully qualified) but my main two reasons for this are due to fact she lives quite a way off – which in itself isn’t a massive issue but time on both parts would make it harder and secondly, she’s too close to me – she’s one of my best mates and I just think it would either be brilliant or a disaster. I am going to speak to her about my running though!

Anyway. Back to why a PT. Its partly been triggered by fact I was speaking to one of my longest mates about it and how rubbish I am at keeping on top of my S&C and I need someone to keep me accountable, show me what I should be doing and challenging me to get better. I really do want to get better and stronger – I would also like some mojo back too to be quite honest! I’ve not touched my bike in weeks, my swimming isn’t as regular and let’s not talk about running. I’ve noticed a really negative effect on my mood though as a result of not training so I need a plan.

The PT is part of that plan. Build my S&C – which will underpin everything else. Sort my diet out – eating better, maybe less meat and more veggie. Try to get an exercise routine and sit and give proper consideration to what I should be doing and keep it focused. Oh and try and sleep more!

At some point I want to sit down and draw up a loose plan for the year – I’ve the second weekend of my L2 triathlon coaching course this weekend where periodisation is going to be discussed – thinking about winter I’m hoping I’ll come away with a bit better idea of how I can help myself. Alongside quizzing my mates – who are more experienced and pretty knowledgable!

I want to try and keep a better record of my training too as that’s fallen by the wayside. No waiting for January for New Years Resolutions!

Mission ‘smash Outlaw X’/generally get better is nearly all systems go!*

*until something screws up the plan!

Stronger and stronger….

I have been quite quiet on here recently. I did start writing a post last week – after an awful month in October which lead to a mini-break down with my mates who, as usual, were pretty fabulous at putting up with my full on rant about very little at 7.30 in the morning. Three weeks on and off antibiotics, working full time hours at the day job coupled with the start of a coaching course and my tutoring work after work – it is no wonder that I was in such a state.

So finally had a few days off and started to come round a bit. I caught up with some friends, slept, did little, watched some Netflix and switched off a bit. Normality is slowly returning.

So what’s next?

The conversation with my friend was rather inspiring and enlightening. Long story short, she was like me at school and never sporty, still isn’t but has a PT in a local town and is on a mission of her own. She was singing his praises – which is saying something! This got me mentioning my ongoing knee injury and fact that I am rubbish at keeping on top of my S&C work and could do with someone to keep me accountable. I also actually want to be a better swimmer/cyclist/triathlete next year.

SO what is next?

Ha well, next week I have an appointment with my mate’s PT. I am going to find my mojo, get back on it and come back next year stronger.

What have I let myself in for?

 

I Spy

Most of my generation and older will be familiar with the I Spy books by Michelin (or rather now by Collins in association with Michelin) and if you are not familiar with the books, you should certainly be familiar with the game.

I have spent a LOT of time at triathlons and other various races, at which, hanging around can just be simply quite boring. There have been a few occasions when I have been with mates where I have mentioned that I should write my own I Spy book for others in a similar position but equally as an athlete racing – playing I Spy is pretty fun!

So, here it is. It is, as it stands, a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ and as much as I would LOVE to publish this as an actual book, I am not sure Collins would be too game for it. I may just email them any way to ask.

I Spy…..

Pre Race

  • Registration Tent – filled with hardy volunteers, mostly lovely and supportive – especially at Tri Club organised races. They understand!
  • Lost race licences and stressed athletes looking for said race licence (pre-race nerves).
  • Sleepy looking spouses and families who have been dragged along for the day.
  • Someone eating a banana/gel/breakfast.
  • The über-keen triathlete, rocking up with a full TT bike set up, with matching disc wheel for a super-sprint.
  • Lost safety pins. You can never have enough. Really!
  • The panic-strikened athlete who has forgotten *inserts important piece of kit* = panic-strikened athlete.
  • Discussion of race tactics – this is just a scare tactic…
  • Technical officials telling people to move their kit! Don’t try to mark your spot people! It’s just not on…. although that bright pink bar tape….
  • Race briefing – nod and turn up – usually a wise idea (like reading the race pack).
  • Maps of the race – because sign posting may be hazardous or you may want to just scare yourself about the elevation…. that you didn’t check before you raced.
  • LONG queues for the toilets – and possibly even someone sharing wet wipes – this happened at my last big race. He was a hero.
  • The athlete asking someone to help them into their wetsuit/zip it up. Common occurrence!
  • The athlete who has forgotten their body glide and asking if anyone has any lube to help them out!

Swim

  • Forgotten or lost googles. Take two pairs. This is sage advice.
  • The swimmers doing breast stroke – and feeling smug that your front crawl is OH SO GRACEFUL.
  • People swimming. Obviously.
  • Lost swim caps!!
  • Pontoons/deep water starts.
  • The swimmer who put a swim time down that was a bit too ambitious. We all know someone who will do this, claiming adrenaline will kick in on the day….
  • The swimmer who does extra laps in a pool based tri or swims a lot further than needed in OW. I know several who have done this!
  • A swimmer getting kicked. Inevitable, especially in open water. Rude people. Just rude – although some people see this as a sport in itself.
  • The swim being cancelled due to blue green algae or some other reason. Come on people – we are supposed to be hardy triathletes. Who wants to do a duathlon?
  • Swim cut short due to weather/other reason unfathomable to mankind – although at the inaugural (and only) Edinburgh 70.3 – I saw the sea and, well, yeah… wise move!
  • Swim buoys that cannot be seen. Without my glasses, I am NOT going to see that buoy around that far distant corner….
  • Kayakers – wise people. Usually lovely too. Major kudos to those supporting LONG swims.
  • A swimmer going the wrong way! (Bonus points if more than 3 swimmers are following) – watch the buoys people – I’ve seen this happen.
  • Flipflops littering the start line. Honestly do NOT understand why getting from T1 to the start isn’t given more thought in some races.

Transition  (T1)

  • Lost athletes. Walking transition before a race is a GOOD IDEA for a reason.
  • Athletes fiddling over watches – common in T2 as well. I’ve only just got the hang of mine.
  • Athletes who sit down to put on cycling shoes – again this is me. I am a very lazy triathlete.
  • The triathletes who have managed to master the art of keeping their shoes on their bike and put them on as they mount.
  • The technical official reminding people to put their helmets on before touching their bikes.
  • The athlete getting told off for mounting too soon.

Bike

  • A hybrid/mountain bike – especially in super/sprint triathlons – sometimes the sign of a novice/doing it for the sheer hell of it. It goes to prove that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the swankiest bike – I love seeing people getting involved.
  • An aero bike/TT bike – love the variety actually and the ‘oooooo that’s nice’ – I don’t get bike envy much any more but can appreciate a nice bike. It’s more amusing though in small local races when it might not be so serious that some people take it so seriously… if that makes sense.
  • Clip on TT bars – I’ve given mine away to a mate now I have a TT bike. I never really got on with them in terms of my position on the bike, but definitely useful and not to be sniffed at.
  • Trainers! Not every triathlete is there with cleats etc – does make for SPEEDY transitions though.
  • Drafting in a non-drafting race – just don’t. It isn’t a group ride.
  • Pointy helmets – you know what I mean! Aero/marginal gains! I will admit that I have been looking at new helmets…
  • Full kit w*nkers – I have nothing against this – I am just too tight to buy full club race kit. In all honesty though, in triathlon, it could just be a club trisuit… always good from a support point of view though as it makes athletes in your own club easier to spot and often volunteers and general supporter are far more likely to support in terms of ‘Go York!’ etc.
  • Lost water bottles. Easy done.
  • Gel wrappers strewn on the road side – actually against the rule – and littering is bad anyway – you managed to carrying this far, you can take it home!

Transition (T2)

  • A technical official or volunteer reminding someone to take their helmet off
  • Stretchy/Elastic laces – time saver in T2 if you are that keen.
  • Wetsuits strewn all over – it tends to still be reasonably tidy after T1…
  • Bikes racked wrong way.
  • Someone scoffing a gel or food before heading out to run.

Run

  • Run/walkers (this was me at my last race!) – nothing wrong with this at all.
  • Runners flinging themselves down the descents. This happens all the time anyway – free speed!
  • Walking runners until they see support or get near the finish line.
  • High-fiving support especially from small children.
  • Awesome support banners – way more common on the run – love them! The more insulting the better!
  • Someone handing out haribo/jelly sweets – yes we love you.
  • Amazing marshals who are dancing and enjoying it as much as you aren’t – there was one couple at Outlaw X this year on the back section of the run who were just incredible – I do not know how they kept it up.
  • ‘Only a parkrun left to go’ – yes I know – knowing doesn’t help!
  • Stretchy/elastic laces – mentioned again as they are just cool.

The end!

  • Hands up in the air in celebration of surviving – you all know what pose I mean!
  • The joyous support crew who finally think that they can go home – we all know that this is a big lie and that there is about to be lots of faffing and reviewing of said race.
  • Post race queue for a massage – thankfully I was so late/slow, the queue was minimal – I quite often skip them though.
  • Athletes who put on their race t-shirt on as soon as humanly possible, along side medal – yes you!.
  • Comparing results with friends/clubmates/rivals/enemies, and comparing to the nth degree.
  • Someone making excuses for times – everyone is usually guilty of this at some point. My run time at my last race was due to injury – but I was expecting a DNF.
  • Someone doubled up about to be sick – obviously raced hard and given it their all (me post XC or a CX race).

 

Other random things to look out for:

  • Bored spouses/children who have been brought along under duress with the promise/lure of food.
  • Varying degrees of race t-shirt bragging. Martyn Brunt wrote an article for Triathlon 220 on the subject of race t-shirt hierarchy.
  • Limping.
  • Athletes wondering around in Dryrobes or similar – they really are nice bits of kit post race!
  • A mass of VW Transporters in various colours. Definitely a popular mode of transport – I keep jokingly saying that if I had £5 for every one I saw/spotted on the road, I would be a well off woman. I stand by this, as my trip to the gym alone would have made me £20 tonight.
  • People consuming random looking concoctions post race.
  • Random things in post race goodie bags/pre-race goodie bags.
  • Random post-race prizes instead of a medal eg. A paperweight…..
  • Race branding on the most random of items (Ironman I am thinking of you!)

 

I am sure I have missed some bits off here to be quite honest, so I may add to it. This list has been in my head all summer – I jokingly said about adding bike brands are some are more rare than others (Ridleys are pretty thin on the ground in triathlon but in CX, common as muck!!) but then this would be a VERY long list.

Taking the Farm Girl out of the Country

And plonking her into a city is always going to be interesting.

Last weekend I headed off to London on some rather cheap tickets. It was a bit of a whim booking really but one that turned out to be rather good! Having a rail card is pretty useful! Less than £30 return (ok I used my nectar points but so what?!) and first class on the way back? Winning!

I’ve re-written this post a couple of times, as I don’t think anyone really wants a detailed blog of the ins and outs of my trip but decided to note down some of my observations instead.

Going out of your comfort zone – I am, at heart, a country girl and a northerner. I am usually happier travelling north rather than south. Equally, for some reason, I found myself nervous about this trip – it was a bit more of the unknown. Edinburgh I have done a few times and it is smaller than London! But like someone on my Facebook said, it does do you good to reach out of your comfort zone and they are right.

Traveling by train – I love it, when it works and people are interesting. The woman sat next to me was using the time to work. Fair enough. The couple sat opposite me – matching hoodies, did NOT say a word to each other the whole journey. The chap to my right slept much of the way and the carriage in general was reasonably quiet. First class on the way home – amazing. No surprises there as I love traveling first. This time though, I made full use of having a first class lounge with complimentary food and drink! Same with food on the train. Its even better when you don’t feel robbed in terms of the cost of your ticket. £35 isn’t bad and its even better when you use nectar points and only pay £15!

London museums – I love that so many of them are free! I still have a few museums on my list that I would like to go and see and there are plenty of sights I would like to go see but I feel far more confident about going and seeing them and getting around London now I have done it on my own. I will be going back. Even if it’s just for the buildings. Which are amazing in themselves. The British Museum was a bit underwhelming but the Natural History Museum is brilliant!

The West End – just the area itself is pretty cool and I loved wandering around (this applies to Covent Garden too) – I made a last minute decision to go see Matilda the Musical – it really was amazing! The set was magic and the children just amazing. It was really well told, incorporating two intertwining tales of Miss Honey’s past and Matilda’s present – but in a different way to the book and the film. It really was special and unlike seeing productions in my home town.

The people – so I did meet someone down in London who I’ve been speaking to over Twitter for months. He was as lovely as expected and just fab/awesome company – went swimming, went for a wonder, coffee, cake etc. Was actually gutted to have to part ways. He definitely didn’t fit in with the general. I get that native Londoners are just trying to get about their day in a city that attracts a lot of tourist but wow! Rude, uncommunicative, miserable – especially compared to home! We have new neighbours who have commented that one of the things they noticed about moving north was how much more friendly people are and open! Kind of confirms that north/south stereotype really. One guy though in the local Tesco Express – NEVER SPOKE A WORD to me throughout the whole transaction. His days must really drag!

The noise and the traffic – is intense all the time compared to home. Even through the night. Who would want to drive in London? Or cycle actually? Although apparently the cycling isn’t as bad as I am making it out, but still! Don’t get me wrong, I like the Underground (even if it bites) and the ease of getting around but coupled with the height of the buildings – it is still quite a claustrophobic place to be when you are used to open fields and space.

On the plus side – I will be heading back again. The National Portrait Gallery is one of my favourite galleries and there is still a lot I want to see. I know my sister would like to go, so after my first solo trip – it won’t seem so daunting next time!

I was glad though, to be home on Saturday night, for the peace and the darkness. Looking out on the field behind my house – drilled and ready for the next crop, the hedges marking boundaries and the trees standing tall is home.

Off Season!

I have done very little in the last two weeks in the form of training – and despite a bike ride yesterday, with a bit of UCI World Championships inspiration in the form of cycling through floods…. I have only been to stretch and yoga. I have, however, spent quite a bit of time catching up on some bits and pieces and reminding myself that there is time, or rather life, outside of training too.

I would like to say my mojo is back, but that’s a bit of a lie. Today I really am just tired and I’ve no real idea why. My bike needs cleaning, my accounts need sorting out, I have some marking to do but still, motivation is not quite there for anything. It’ll come back I am sure but at the moment I am just procrastinating. I suppose I need to get back into a routine as everything seems a bit up in the air.

I also think I am just feeling a bit ‘blurgh’ and unmotivated due to the time of year and recent poor diet. Autumn is definitely here. I was supposed to go to a gig on Thursday but couldn’t be bothered and at the moment I am not feeling particularly excited about going to London on Friday. There is nothing big planned on the near horizon and things at work are a bit up in the air. I suppose I am just in a bit of a lull/dip of general tiredness and fed-up-ness that I know will pass.

I suspect I just need a bit of a plan of action and to figure out a new autumn/winter routine!

It’ll all come good!

In the meantime, I’m off to hibernate for a while!

 

Rest, Reflection and Reading

Time flies doesn’t it? It’s a week since Outlaw X – the buzz has just about worn off. The race pictures are out and I have had time to sit and think about things and reflect – like all good athletes should do. I’ve even had the week off the day job to recover. It has been strangely blissful. I also received my email about my Level 2 Triathlon Coaching course this week and after last time, I’ve decided to crack on.

So a week of reflecting, resting and reading – what has come of it.

Well on the resting front – I really haven’t done much. Went to yoga (that was painful!), two stretch classes, coached swim, slept a bit, read a bit, mooched a bit and tutored. I also sat and reflected on my race. It has been quite blissful really.

My thoughts still stand from the last blog about the race (see here) – I have decided that I am going to have another go next year and I am just waiting for entries to open, which should be in the next week or so. I have also found my love for triathlon again. I have only done two triathlons this year, swimming and cycling took over really. Unsurprising as they are my favourite disciplines, but… after sitting down and working out how to cut some time off next year, I feel like going sub 7 and knocking off 35 minutes is more than achievable – as long as I remain run fit!

How am I going to get better? The wandering reflections….

Swim – I need to sort my back/shoulder out. I am hoping it is just tightness but 8 months ago, and my last sprint triathlon, I was managing a really good pace and my CSS was down to 1:51 – at the moment it is back up to about 2:00 – partly due to a sore/tight back. Starts to whinge at about 1500m. I also need to do more OW swimming – more consistently – at least once a week from May onwards I think. As I am slower in OW. If I managed to replicate 1:50/100m in OW, and in a race, it would knock off about 4 minutes. Swimming is also my favourite disciple as we know so hopefully

Bike – If I can average 17mph on the bike, I will knock off at least 15 minutes off my bike time – which is not impossible, so long as my training over winter is consistent. I actually need to keep it up and probably get in some speed sessions. I am also keen to improve my skills on the TT bike and possibly ride Outlaw X on the TT. Better structured training would be wise too!

Running – This is the biggest issue for me. It is my least favourite part. My knee injury is now, hopefully, on the mend – I need desperately to keep on top of strength and conditioning work going forward (this is part of my winter plan – dial back on actual swim, bike, run – and do a bit more gym work). Come back stronger and reduce risk of injury! I am going to speak to one of my mates who is a running coach and try and avoid junk mileage and find some way to measure improvement. I am planning on doing a bit of cross country this year so hopefully see some improvements over winter. My next running race, excluding XC, is CTS Northumberland. I also have a half marathon booked in too at Edinburgh. My half marathon PB is 2:30, so even if I ran/walk Outlaw X in better condition than this year, I should easy knock 15 minutes off (2:45 half marathon) and if I can keep injury at bay, improve my running and technique and come off the bike as strong as I did last week – I would like to aim for a 2:30 half marathon. 2:45 would do….

Transition – well, so long as it isn’t raining, I shall be better next year – I probably should practice transition, and do some brick sessions along the way…

I have further been reflecting on how I am going to map out my training as the plan I started on this year clearly didn’t work or fit my life/work commitments. I need to probably say no to a few things as well! I am about to start my L2 Coaching course and I have started reading up ahead of time – there is a lot to get through and it is really making me think about my own training and phasing it out.

Putting all this together – I am actually feeling excited about next season and training, but equally at the moment, I am enjoying not feeling an pressure to swim/bike/run and have relished having a full week off. The next few weeks are about keeping up the exercises from the physio, sorting out plan at the gym (need to make an appointment), and slowly getting back into swimming and cycling for the sheer enjoyment, without a particular goal.

I can see a plan slowly starting to form…