Life getting in the way!

Not that I am complaining at all!

Twitter reminded me it was my 3 year anniversary for my Twitter account linked to this blog. I’ve been meaning to write for ages and I have really missed it.

The 3 years thing coincides with how this blog originated – dealing with a break up and concentrating on me. The problem now isn’t the heartbreak or even the issue of dating. It has almost gone to another extreme. I am so busy doing ‘stuff’ and working that things I enjoy have, to an extent, fallen by the wayside. With changes in lockdown rules and other bits and pieces, life has really kicked off at full pelt again meaning I am busier than ever and not all of it is fun!

Hopefully the summer holidays will see a temporary pause in the workload and a return to fun! Starting with a trip to Norfolk and the small matter of a 70.3 in relay! (and no – I am not doing the swim leg!).

‘Runner’ – back to basics…

I realised that I had started a blog post ages ago about getting ‘back in to running’ and it had been sat in drafts for ages so I decided to revisit it, only to wonder what I was thinking at the time of writing the two paragraphs that had been sat there. The only thing I’ve kept is the title of the blog post. Deleted the rest thinking ‘what a loada tosh!’

What I really hate about running is that I lose run fitness far quicker than I lose swim or bike fitness. Massively. I can also push myself swimming and cycling to the point of feeling sick, without feeling or thinking it’s beyond stupid. Running is a different entity for me. It also seems to take me a lot longer to gain run fitness again compared to swimming and cycling. Starting again feels like starting from scratch again.

Anyway, I have somehow started to find running marginally better. I started running with a friend on a weekend and it’s kept me somewhat accountable and I have started to feel my run fitness slowly improve and have slowly increased the number of times I run a week too. Small steps.

I have also realised I am my own worst enemy when it comes to running. I can happily swim train on my own, cycling I am somewhat similar but prefer training with people. Running – I really need to run with others to keep me on track and motivated to keep going. So running with one of my friends has really helped and because it is currently low stakes and we are both just heading out to get slowly better – I am enjoying it (and the chat!). It also massively helped my mood after a huge dip in January. I went out with another friend a week or two back post work. It was his slow run day – so we went out – well, his slow easy run was more like speed work for me to an extent but after several months running on trails – running on path felt easier than I expected and I ended up with the fastest 5km time I’ve done in ages. It also made me realise that actually  the slow running is good for me and gave me a bit of a boost in terms of achieving without setting out to do it.

The blog post title refers to going back to basics and I feel like I have – the lighter evenings (which, with the clock changes, will be even better), running with friends, running slow and just heading out really is going back to basics and it’s helping. I have also tried to be more time efficient and I am getting changed to run, at work, and parking up at local woods to go run trail so it’s done before I get home and sit down! Although note to self – carry inhaler!

Maybe I will actually start enjoying running more again. LOVE might be too strong an emotion but small steps – it’s definitely more tolerable than it was three months ago!

#RaphaFestive500

In the run up to Christmas, news and updates about this year’s Rapha Festive 500 started to appear, with the change that this year, virtual miles would be included. My ears pricked up and a thought started to go in my head. I’d pondered it in previous years but actually getting the distance in on the road just seemed unlikely – weather, riding solo, the absolute FAFF that comes with riding outside in winter etc. The inclusion, this year, of virtual miles though, made me wonder if I could actually give it a go.

Que several discussions with friends as I toyed with the idea.

I was working Christmas Eve, but despite early start and a busy morning, somehow managed to get on the turbo and get some miles in. Christmas Day came round and had some time, thought ‘sod it’ – did some more miles. Same thing Boxing Day… well, no I did two turbo sessions – by this time mates had joined in so there were a couple of us putting in some turbo mileage. Next day, I actually went outside on the bike, as well as doing some turbo mileage. Shock to the system to an extent and the company bailed on me. The rest of the week turned into a blur of long turbo sessions, with a bit of swimming and yoga thrown in for good measure but as of this morning, 500km ticked off!

What have I learnt though? Time to be reflective….

  • Group Zwfit rides, with Discord chat app running makes a huge difference to motivation and passing the time. Huge kudos to mates there for that. The ‘bunge’ also helped.
  • Zwift, my online platform of choice for this mission, is just plain strange – how the hell I was managing 45kph on 1.4w/kg is beyond me.
  • Sweat central – not unusual but still – had to make sure I replaced them.
  • Hydration/fluids/fuel – not to be underestimated.
  • 500km of riding in 8 days = increased quad definition – I have some definition that has been missing for the last 18 months.
  • The tiredness is real – but it would have been harder out on the road.
  • With little else to really do (I have made myself chill this week), I have lived the life of a pro – why stand when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down? I have done some reading this week too.
  • Multiple pairs of bib shorts are incredibly useful – in general anyway – but I have found out quickly, which pairs are the best. Altura – is ain’t yours!
  • Two hour turbo sessions hurt your undercarriage MORE than two hours on the road – less changing of position isnt great.
  • My core strength must be good at the moment – I’ve a mirror positioned in such a way I can see my position – back and hips didn’t rock or move – no so sore shoulders either.
  • Low power/pace on the pedals kept me going without hurting myself.
  • I’ve managed not to over eat as a result….
  • I unlocked a few Zwift badges – always nice.
  • Turbo miles are dull.
  • The Mandalorian on Disney+ is awesome.
  • Decent headphones are worth the money.
  • Women are MORE SUPPORTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS THAN men*

*I’m on several cycling Facebook pages – all the female only ones – everyone has been so supportive of each others achievements and there has been no judging on virtual/in real life achievements. LOTS of positivity. On the mixed sex groups – a bloke made the mistake of saying it was no longer a proper challenge now it included virtual miles. He has been very quickly called out on this by a lot of people. I’ve seen other scathing comments in the past on the mixed sex pages but do have to say – there are a lot of supportive blokes on those pages – but there is a distinctively different feel about them.

It has been an interesting challenge in that it has given me something to focus on and I’m glad I’ve finally done it but it pales into insignificance when one of my best friends Everested, on foot, for charity. Now that is a challenge and a half! After the crappy year events wise that has been 2020, it has been a nice way to finish of the year, and something I just did on a bit of a whim. Just need to aim to get out more next year!

Decision Made

Long time coming as I’ve been debating it for a while but when you realised you’ve screwed up, you know it’s time you did something about it so tonight I’ve emailed a local counsellor and going to actually seek some help.

I can’t carry on being a grumpy bitter cow bag. It’s not fair on anyone and the amount of time that’s gone by – I really should be in a better place. Covid certainly hasn’t helped. Normally my year would have been filled with mini adventures – I’d be out doing stuff and planning future mini adventures. Distractions perhaps but equally things that contributed to my happiness and well being. Working daft hours but then having more time at home to dwell on stuff too hasn’t helped and things have come to a head so seek help I must.

We were sat having tea the other night and I said that by looks of things, I was probably going to end up forever single – not unlikely to be honest. And probably childless too. The body clock will run out and even though I’m sat on the fence about having children – my fear is that I will decide one day that that’s what I really want.

The 18 year old me thought that by time she was my age, I’d have settled down, got married, had children – career etc etc. None of which has happened. To be honest – it’s probably not that uncommon that plans/thoughts at 18 don’t happen but still. There’s still a part of me that just wants to settle down and have babies but I don’t know if that in itself is actually what I want.

I do know though that I would like to stop feeling angry and pissed off. I’d also like to lose the fear of being hurt again. Hopefully – just hopefully – counselling/therapy might help. We shall see.

Fluctuating Mojo and Lockdown #2

I’d like to say that I have been as motivated during this ‘lockdown’ as I was the first, but that would be a lie.

I am definitely finding it harder this time, partly because I am working more hours than ever so with extra commitments and diminishing light, I can’t ride to work. I can’t really run safely at home during the week really either unless I am willing to bore myself silly running up and down the length of my village (which isn’t all that far). My mood in general isn’t as great as normal either – definitely not as positive or cheery.

So this week, my mojo has really taken a hit and I have had seven days off completely. No spin, no stretch, no pilates, no S&C work – nothing.

And I am refusing to feel guilty about it, like a Twitter follower said, we’re not pros and we aren’t being paid – it isn’t the end of the world (just frustrating). I have, however, managed to get work planned for next week, new work commitments starting so hopefully some more money coming in to start reflecting the hours I am putting in.

On the major plus side – with sales starting – I have invested in a new wetsuit – and when I say invest, it was a large chunk of money but it was money saved specifically for it, so with 40% off, spending £270 on a wetsuit doesn’t seem so bad – just hoping it fits! Nervous and excited! It’s a top end suit and I am hoping I will see a difference compared to my old entry level Huub – which has served me well and got me through some pretty epic swims.

I am going to aim to get some sessions in this week as I am feeling far more organised with work (working for someone else as well as having own business has it’s advantages but equally…. can be knackering!) and I am planning to start some better sleeping habits too. I am also being dragged out for a run on Thursday morning before work – so…. hopefully the dip in mojo is just that – a dip*

*remembered on my run that I want to go sub 6 and a half hours at a 70.3 next September – helped with the last km run home. The view helped too.

Feeling fitter

I am actually starting to feel genuinely fitter and less bloated than I have done for a while. I am not complaining but I think it’s worth considering why and how I am feeling fitter so that when I am feeling unfit I can go back and check!

My last post, I outlined some of the things I was planning on doing – and they appear to be helping/working.

Planning out my week ahead on a Sunday is helping – using Training Peaks alongside my diary. My focus at the moment is getting my run fitness back and developing my strength. So far so good. I am also trying to maintain my cycling fitness (though my endurance is probably a bit shot at the moment) and in terms of swim – I’m fairly happy with that as I am training with my friend and he’s training for an Ironman, he has also changed coach which has mixed things up so it’s all good.

Not putting the pressure on to do longer sessions but keeping things short and sweet as well as feeling the gains, has helped my feel fitter – and that in turn is motivation for keeping going on. I’m probably thinking more about my run sessions in particular and following a plan to an extent too.

I am also trying to cut down on sugar in my tea – I’m trying not eat two hours before bed and I am attempting to eat more ‘whole’ food/less processed food. Trying to eat better is helping, along with keeping well hydrated and trying to develop better sleep habits. Hopefully a combination of these will become more habit.

All the little things are helping I think – although might not be losing weight as such, I am definitely getting fitter! Even TP says so….

Timeless Monthly Planner

It appears that I may actually be training like the triathlete I occasionally claim to be. Wonders will never cease I suppose!

It’s taken a while but I seem to have some sort of routine in place. A change in focus at my PT sessions has really helped along with a few other things. Most of the PT stuff since end of lockdown to September had been geared towards the swim events I was doing – and I had a lot of fun over September doing said events, but my general consistency with everything else was dire. Roll on October….

For some reason, routine seems to have settled a bit, and a shift in training focus and some new found mojo/energy, I seem to be finding some sort of fitness again and seeing some improvements, with only small tweaks too – this in turn is improving my motivation to train. I wanted to record what has been different over the last three or four weeks so that when I have a wobble – which I will, I can revisit and figure out what I haven’t been doing out of the list and see if I can get back on track!

It’s big and it’s bold!
  1. My (Big) Timeless Monthly Planner – I am a sucker for pen and paper and a decent sized diary. I have a huge wall calendar in my office next to the computer which is also highly useful for mapping out my year! In this diary – which I have personally started from October (timeless – it comes blank with 15 months worth of space!) – is penciled in all my planned and booked races. They are actually in pencil too, in case things change!
  2. I have bitten the bullet and invested in Training Peaks – and because I am a geek when it comes to data and stats – I am loving it. I can ‘see’ my week and move things about, put details in about the session and track lots of pretty things and colours! It’s actually kept me some what motivated in terms of seeing my fitness/form/fatigue numbers alter and I am learning to understand them more. I am keeping details of run/swim/bike sets too so I can go back to them and keeping a note of other stuff too on there. It is partly a replacement in once respect to my usual ‘compendium’.
  3. I downloaded the HRV4Training app and paid for it. It feds directly into Training Peaks and as I have been using it for months – there is lots of data now that is actually useful and interesting – I can see proof almost of my improving fitness and can edit to view data stats relating to sport – it pulls across info from sessions from other apps to get a rounded picture. Like I said – I love data!
  4. Change in focus at PT sessions – and the guy I go see for PT too. So this is a combined thing. I started seeing him on the recommendation of a friend who is the least sporty person I know (long story short). Former PE teacher turned PT and a fellow triathlete – so bonus is, he knows what I need to get better from a triathlon point of view and equally – means lots of useful and interesting conversations about training/coaching etc – and its both ways too so never feel I am being preached at either – its always an interesting two way conversation. He had suggested some more HIIT based stuff but I kinda wanted to keep it to the weights and S&C stuff because I have really been enjoying it and reaping the benefits – not just strength (whoop to sumo squats with a 20kg dumbbell!) but my figure and general well being. This is massively motivating, HOWEVER….
  5. I have been suffering with epic DOMS from these sessions but I THINK, thanks to a mate, that I may have found the solution. He gave me a sample of DrinkAmino. Rather than taking whey protein supplements that didn’t seem to be actually helping, I tried one of these samples of amino acids – and rather than have 3 days of DOMS like the week before, I did my PT session and a spin session (that may have helped!) and woke up day after with hardly any DOMS, and I know I worked hard – I am a heavy sweater!
  6. Better understanding of hydration – and using it to my advantage. I have been using Precision Hydration tabs before heavy-ish workouts or post heavy workout as I sweat so much – less light-headness and quicker recovery seem to be the result. So replacing the salt seems sensible. After an online course and a seminar with PH – and from using their tabs – I seem to be in a better shape and able to handle more. Talking of supplements and other such things – I still sweat by Tailwind for running and cycling however, lack of serious endurance events this year – I haven’t used it so much.
  7. Back to Spin and coaching. One of my mates is back running spin classes virtually over Facebook – which means I’ve some routine and I don’t feel like I am training alone, even though essentially I kinda am. I used to not go in real life as it clashed with yoga and was at the end of an already long day. I am over the moon that they are back! Coupled with conversation with PT – shorter, more focused sessions over winter I think will work better for me, to fit around work and other commitments – as I am back coaching swim again! Yey!
  8. Training with friends – so this is an interesting one. I have been swimming with a mate for the last year or so – as it’s easier to commit to going if you are meeting someone – more accountable. What makes this interesting is that he’s just changed his coach and the style/method of coaching too – so a shake up there has lead to a shake up in swim sets – which has brought back some more swim mojo/focus. Not to diss the other sets – some of them I loved! But a different approach/style has definitely had an impact on me in that I feel a bit more motivated at the moment to swim a full set and put the effort in – post last swim event my effort level has been rubbish. Equally, I appear to have agreed to run a 5k with another mate in November and he is much quicker than me – so do need to work on the run fitness….
  9. Smaller goals – I have set a bit of a goal for my ‘A’ race next year but that is a long way off – part of the reason for the paper diary is to record in a quick to view way, short term goals/planning, make notes of what works. At the moment I am just trying to fit in a certain number of sessions – all fairly short but aiming for constancy – so at the moment, two bike sessions, two run sessions and three swim sessions, and either yoga or stretch. Can I keep up constancy and make it habit – especially the running (it appears/feels to be getting easier – by putting less pressure on myself – and just trusting the plan is helping).
  10. Actually feeling some improvement. This stems back to talking to my PT the other week – I’d had a really good session and had been feeling strong right throughout – even admitted that I was suddenly feeling stronger/fitter, and he had noticed too – a small boost that has had lasting impact. Feeling that you are actually improving after making a few small changes works wonders on outlook, attitude and motivation!
  11. Slowing down. I still have a ridiculous commute to work in terms of detours and due to COVID-19, my business is not quite as busy/running as it should – however, silver lining – I have slowed down a bit – some tutoring is online – saving me a lot of travelling time, and my one to ones in real life are now on the same evening – so depending on how things work out – being home more and saying no to a few things but doing more things that I enjoy – whizzing through paperwork in a more focused way – seems to be working out ok at the moment – basically I have figured out some sort of routine. Meditation is actually helping with this and just being more present. I probably could still do to be a bit more organised though!
  12. Recognising I needed a week off work – bit sorry to be heading back to the day job tomorrow.

Now to see how long this will last!

Retiring From OW Swimming*

*but not yet. Well, for the next six or seven months…

Swim, Sleep, Eat, Repeat.

The actual mantra from this time last weekend. All my own doing of course, and all my fault that I dragged some of my favourite people along for the ride too!

It was a weekend that was put simply. We were supposed to be swimming the End to End at Ullswater – then, due to COVID-19, we all changed to the 3-mile event, to be held on the same day and essentially following the same course but starting half way up. Then I discovered that there was the Ullswater Epic Swim the day after…. So the plan was – Camp, swim, eat, sleep, swim, eat, home.

HA!

Yeah that didn’t quite go to plan. Obviously being the back end of summer/start of autumn, the Lakes wasn’t going to be kind. A very windy forecast resulted in the Chillswim (End to End/3 Mile event) was essentially cancelled and changed to a 1-mile lap at the Pooley Bridge end – of which we could do as many as we liked.

One mate managed three laps. My other mate and myself managed one and then called it quits. Honestly the choppiest water I have ever swam in – and almost enough to have me permanently hanging up my wetsuit. Slow being an understatement – my usual mile swim time in OW is about 36 minutes – 1900m and 59 minutes later…. Sighting just didn’t exist – my starva file for the swim is hilariously wiggly!

Roll on Sunday and the illusion of flatter water – the first 300m were fairly calm – we were at Glenridding end of the lake this time – and slightly more sheltered. Further out into the lake it got a bit choppier but not a patch on Saturday. 1600m in a slightly more respectable 40min.

To be fair – the weekend overall was pretty awesome – I’ve just about recovered enough to have blocked out JUST how grumpy I was about the swim to decide NOT to give up open water swimming but I can happily say, without guilt that’s me done for the year. All pool based from now until probably May!

Depending on COVID of course.

Only issue now is – with no events to focus on – and general lethargy – I have no motivation to train…. if anyone wants to send some my way, please feel free!

Swim Love and Soul Food

It’s no secret that my biggest sporting love is swimming. It’s something I’m reasonably good at and have no qualms about going training – in fact, its one of the few things that can get me out of bed at 5.30 to go train. Lockdown was a bit rubbish in terms of 3 months of no swimming and what with swim events pencilled in, I was like a child at Christmas when I got back in a pool – despite OW swimming for several weeks in the run up to it!

Anyway, last few weeks I’ve been a bit, well, not so much in love with swim as normal. Don’t get me wrong, I have been loving training and being back but there has been a sense of something not being quite there – missing the challenge/goal – not sure, but that changed this morning.

Background first though because it has been an epic weekend overall… Three or four weeks ago, one of my also-keen-swimmer/triathlete mates asked if I was doing Coniston Epic Swim again. Five minutes later, ‘Yes!’. This then resulted in me texting another mate to see if he was in too. ‘Yep, count me in!’. This is what happens. Like a snowball. Accommodation was sorted. Work was sorted. All systems go.

Arrived in the Lakes, in Coniston to be precise, sometimes on Friday evening. Alcoholic beverages were consumed (much to my mates amusement and my lack of a proper tea….), cake was eaten and many laughs were had. Saturday arrived and with it the most glorious, sunny, hot day. I sat nursing a hangover while the others planned. Which then resulted in a walk up a very large hill in the sweltering heat but equalling in some good quality soul food and some stunning views!  ‘Pasta party’ tea and a wander down to the lakeside to check just how still the water water and how warm before nightcaps and finally bed – for which I was more than ready! Shattered but happy!

I slept right through to my alarm after yesterday’s efforts, not waking at 5 as per usual. Snooze. Reset alarm. Made myself get up and eat. I am not really a fan of porridge but it was quick and easy. I sat, very quietly and tried to eat. Coupled with some pre-race/event nerves… while the others milled about quite happily. The weather wasn’t a great (rain!) but considering we would be wet anyway, it didn’t really matter!

On to the swim though – Epic Events Coniston Swim – 3.8k of glorious OW Lake swimming. My swim time was at 8.30, a bit later than the others. We had decided best bet was to actually drive across to the start rather than walk – which turned out to be a very wise one. It was still mild despite spots of rain and slowly we got changed and headed to the start. We had separate waves, based on swim times so I was the last to wander down. ‘Covid-secure’ is now the buzz word for events and kudos where it’s due, Epic Events had done a good job with the organisation. Wandering over at the set time meant that we could stay spaced out easily and the briefing had been on Facebook, which we had actually watched, the night before. Swim cap and timing chip collected, flip-flops deposited – time to swim and nerves disappearing and the lake looking ever so inviting.

OMG – the water! For the Lakes – it was truly topical – 19 degrees. No need to acclimatise – and as still as a mill pond. It was better than expected and unlike anything I’d swam in up there before.

This is where the love came flowing back!

Lap 1 – First few buoys/straight seemed to take forever, the first lap even. Obviously turned out to be the fastest but still. I spent the first lap thinking, ‘well, this really is lovely but…’ and thoughts that went through my head included, ‘argh, I’m not going to find my mojo and I’ll get bored’/’I am so hungry (normal swim response)’/’how am I going to do three laps?’/’This is going to take forever’/’OWWWWW MY SUNBURN’ – Yep, epic sunburn on my shoulders.

Lap 2/3 – Mojo well and truly back. My longest swim recently had been 2.7km, the distance didn’t worry me so much this morning, I knew I could do it and was stubborn enough but by lap 2 and 3 I was on a roll. Still having the thoughts about wanting food, but my pace and stroke seemed to just flow and work. Thoughts now changed to food and what I was going to eat later and ‘oooo might actually beat last years time’ as well as ‘oooo the S&C work with Ben is really paying off!’

The warm water and stillness of the lake really was joyous. I was heading for the last corner of the swim course and I could feel that I was actually quite sad that it was finishing – but as I neared the finish line, a quick glance of my watch told me that I wasn’t far off beating my time from last year. I still felt quite strong as I neared the finish – and that felt the wave of disappointment wash over me… but then as I finished, got out, and wandered back to meet my mates, I was grinning from ear to ear. Nothing beats a good OW swim like that. Swim mojo and OW Swim mojo back firmly in place.

And confirmation that I can still swim a reasonable distance in a decent time.

Just as important though – plan was in place for bacon sandwiches for second breakfast.

In my eyes – everything this morning was just a winner.

Roll on Ullswater 3 mile!

Swim Shock!

It’s back!

Swimming is back!

The joys of COVID-19 has meant three months of no swimming. The last time I had a break from swimming was after a shoulder injury a few years ago – some time around back end of 2017 looking back of my statistics.

ANYWAY – last Sunday I donned my wetsuit and went for my first OW swim since September 2019 and my first swim since March 20th.

Now I will admit – I hate the first OW swim of the year, I hate the faff, putting on a wetsuit, the lack of wall to push off – though its just the shock of cooler water usually. Each year it usually gets a bit easier but after 3 months off I was a bit unsure about how poor my swim fitness would be.

Coupled with a good group of mates, we met up to swim at a lake a bit of a way off from home, at North Yorkshire Water Park. It wasn’t as bad as expected but driving in I could feel the usual first swim nerves – but actually this is no bad thing and a good reminder of some of the nerves/anxiety that new swimmers feel about OW.

1400m later, a chat and food – it felt good to be back.

I haven’t forgotten how to swim – and after today’s swim, I still have a bit of speed when I put the effort in.

Today’s swim was shorter – chopper (wind!) and done with no watch or tracking – which, in itself, was quite liberating. I swam alongside a mate who hasn’t swam regularly for a while, chatted with some mates and was reminded why I love swimming – and why its better with mates.

So I’m off back on Tuesday!