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!).

#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!

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.

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!

Lockdown Cycle Commuting

Lockdown has had an impact on everyone. Racing on hold, training sessions with friends on hold, life in general, somewhat on hold…. nothing new there really!

It has been a bit of a strange time – my own hectic life has slowed down massively, with some positive side effects!

I’ve turned back to some of my old hobbies – in particular sewing, and I’ve been indulging my love of history researching women cyclists from the mid-20th Century.

More impressively though (no I haven’t started running), I have been cycling to work as opposed to driving. I will admit that it has partly because the weather has been so good but even on the not so great days I’ve cycled in. I have barely driven my car in the last few months compared to normal. I am hoping that it will be a habit that sticks actually – although will change when I start tutoring face to face again.  Advantage is that it’s only an extra 10 minutes travel time as there are road works – one that I can cut through on a bike but have a 5/6 mile detour in the car and I get in some miles on the much neglected winter bike. Admittedly though, it does mean a bit more faff getting changed and risking rain but so far so good. My routine is even getting quicker in terms of having what I need for work packed and layering up on the bike – I’m managed to get it about right recently. A skill in itself. It has made me more paranoid about checking weather forecasts – which comes in handy when discussing the weather at work…. (customers – it happens a lot!).

The biggest benefit though I’ve found is how much more awake I am at the end of the day. This week is a prime example. Cycled in Monday (and came home the long way) and Tuesday and Tuesday was a really busy day at work – got home, full of energy. Wednesday drove, as I had to bring home quite a bit of stuff that I would never have got on the bike, got home, really tired! Rode in Friday – tailwind home, which was awesome, and not shattered. Some correlation I think, but I have always been more awake when I’ve got to work when I have done an early morning swim, so shouldn’t be surprising. Although I have found that it takes longer to get to work usually than to get home – it takes me ages for my legs to get going on a morning!

I completely get the attraction to commuting to work by bike at the moment – not so sure id be as keen in winter, with a lot less light. Even with quieter roads, there is some awful driving going on and I am seriously debating investing in a camera for the bike.

Anyway, my love of data and statistics is happy – when I upload rides – I can see my miles clocking up – by the end of this week, I will have cycled more in the last 6 months than I did in the whole of last year! Which makes up to an extent, the depressing sight of my swim stats!

Hopefully soon I shall be back in the water….

Whose idea was this anyway?

Mine unfortunately!

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This chainring was even more caked up that this originally!

A couple of years ago, if not longer, my dad was having a bit of a sort out under the sheds at the farm and had put his old Raleigh Traveller on the junk heap with the intention of getting rid. He’d been given it by a neighbour years ago when I was a little girl – maybe 7 or 8? I remember it simply as I’ve quite a good memory and remember bike rides around local parts and him buying new whitewall tyres and a new saddle for it from the local bike shop – not that he was much of a cyclist himself. At all. Anyway, it got to the point where, even for quite a short lass, I used to take it and potter around on it as it was a lot easier to ride than my old hybrid. For sentimental reasons and also for the fact that I cannot bare seeing bikes go to waste – well, classics like this, being scrapped, I vowed to save it.

So it sat, back under the sheds. Then it moved. To outside of the shed. Where it has stood for the last year or two, within sight of the kitchen at home. Looking sorry for itself – it has spend the past decade neglected, unloved and gradually gathering more and more dust and muck. Until today.

With covid-19 still doing the rounds and showing no signs of abating, today has been the day where I have started to pull the bike apart with not really much idea of what I am doing. I will reiterate now that my mechanical knowledge of bicycles is little and that when it comes to actually pulling a bike to pieces – well. Virgin territory right there. On my regular bikes that I actually use, I’ve only just, in the last year, got comfortable with taking off and changing cassettes – through necessity with turbo trainer and new wheels.

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With the chain guard off so I can clean it and see what I’m dealing with – and surprised at how little wear there is!

First things first though, washing the bike seemed like a good idea – just to see what I’m dealing with (apart from a lot of rust). The sheer amount of muck though on that bike was (and to an extent still is) pretty epic – but the grease and oil had done a pretty good job of preserving some of the chrome work on the hub and chainring – so far, not too bad. Washing it down and scrapping what mud and crud I could first without taking anything off the bike was useful and I was able to start looking properly at how things fit together. From a starting point of taking things off – I was actually starting to enjoy figuring out what to do first that was within my capabilities – although with a little elbow grease/brut force from my Dad managed to make a start.

What have I done this afternoon then? Well, managed to convince myself that this might actually be an achievable project despite my lack of knowledge – and that I might actually be able to rope a few people I know in who are happy browsing/searching the internet for parts etc (I haven’t asked him – I know he’ll probably read this and realise who I’m talking about!). I have also taken off the chain guard so I could get to the front chainring to check it over and clean it. I have, with the help of my dad, taken the kickstand off and the back wheel – unhooking the dynamo (which still works if the light at the front is anything to go by!) and taken off the back light, as well as give it a proper wash. I’ve kept relevant bits together and taken photos to help in the putting it back together stage but I think I need to make a mini to do list for jobs that need doing and research needed in terms of fixing and getting things re-chromed etc!

If nothing else, it will give me something to tinker with rather than looking at screens or bemoaning lack of training/days out! No doubt this will cost me more than the bike is actually worth but seeing as I’m emotionally attached to this bike – I think it’ll be worth it!

…. hello Bike!

After waving swim temporally goodbye I have turned to my bike to fill the gaping hole where swim was.

I am missing swim a lot – to the point that I have, like many other swimmers if Facebook and Twitter are anything to go by, started looking at pools. I have resisted so far from parting with any money though!

With everything being in lockdown – I am home more which has some advantages. I am cycling more (it’s replaced swimming – lets not touch on running though) and travelling less – life in itself is less hectic.

Cycling more and quickly getting back some of that fitness means I am slowly starting to gain some definition in my quads again – sort off. After doing little over winter and not feeling motivated, I have managed to get back on it – I’m even enjoying turbo sessions and making the most of my Zwift subscription. When I’ve actually been out on the bike though, it’s made me miss riding with my mates, despite the fact that most of my riding is solo anyway. I enjoy cycling with mates more. More surprisingly is the fact that I am actually doing spin sessions at home – and enjoying them! Though I have no intentions of letting on how much to my mates. I think part of this is just routine. I’ve put off going and refused point blank all winter but this is partly due to the fact that Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days work wise. Although after all this, this may change and I may have to reassess my workload. The other bonus is, that a combination of following a plan, my mate’s spin sessions and cycling out, I have improved my FTP by 10 watts in three weeks. Apparently. I am a little skeptical about this but I think it just means that I am getting back some of my fitness – my FTP was considerably higher at the end of 2019!

I’ve also had time to read more and self study.  I’ve read and debated starting sewing again, however, I still need to keep things ticking along with the business and looking into that. Theres a few things I want to try but its making me a bit nervous and I’ll admit I’ve been putting it off – but a few Zoom catch ups (via quizzes and murder mystery games – seeing my face on video isnt quite so bad!).

Day to day though, I am still working the day job but being home more is actually quite nice and I am eating better/more regularly – just need to keep healthy and as fit as possible – I may even come out of lockdown bike fit at this rate.

I am very much looking forward to lockdown ending as the more I am at home, the more things I am adding to my bucket list and researching in to random trips…

Well, might as well live life to the full!

 

So Long Swim

A week ago as Friday, as suspected, was my last swim of the year for the foreseeable future. Anyone who reads my ramblings or happens to actually know me and STILL reads my ramblings, know that this is one of the hardest things I think I have had to give up – and clearly not through choice. I am missing it.

The closing of gyms and the temporary halt on training as we know it – was, I suppose, inevitable in light of recent events. I’m just going to have to suck it up and wait it out. It is what it is and in the greater scheme of things – it’s not the worst thing ever (although I am mighty glad I swam – I’m currently on 70km swam for the year). My bigger concern with the swimming is more that it really helps manage my stress levels and keeps me happy. I’ll just have to find some alternatives – although before anyone suggests it – running wont be the alternative to swim in terms of making me happy.

So what to instead? Well, I was debating getting some TRX but I’ve some resistance bands and some bits and pieces to keep me occupied, but I have noticed that I am paying more attention to the bike.

I swapped bikes on my turbo (no mean feat – it means messing with cassettes and wheels and shifting one bike from my bedroom to the garage and taking one back with me). My comfier summer bike is now on the turbo as opposed to my TT (and it’s not so great saddle). I can honestly say that the investment I made in a direct drive turbo several years ago is one I am now grateful for. At the time I wondered if I had done the right thing. Along with a subscription to Zwift – I should, I suppose, cycle more.

I could, and should, run – but with all my races cancelled or at least postponed until September at the earliest, I’m going to leave it a bit longer, focus on what S&C I can do at home and turbo it. Which reminds me, I need to speak to my PT about that.

So while we are on a lockdown of sorts, the bike will, no doubt, win out. I am already planning a trip north with a mate to take in the sights when we can. I would love to say that now have time to catch up on all the books I want to read and research I want to do but truth is, trying to sort out business and working 6 days a week, while trying to avoid catching this nasty virus is just tiring in itself.

So I am calling it quits for today – looking at screens for work, I’m off to ride my bike, read a bit and sleep.

For the working week to start again tomorrow.

 

Gently easing into 2020…

January always feels like the longest month but equally it feels like it has gone pretty fast too. I have to admit that I have eased myself back in and all I’ve done in January in reality is swim a lot and work a lot!

Training wise…

28km of swimming done and in the bag. I also did an impromptu CSS test which resulted in my CSS pace coming down a bit to 1:56/100m – but easily knocking out 1:45/1:50 on 100m sets. My CSS though must be pretty spot on – I did a continuous 1000m in bang smack on 19 minutes so it isn’t far out. I am training really consistently , which is greatly aided by swimming with a mate who is training for an Ironman. My swimming is also aided by my PT sessions.

I am still going to my PT sessions – I really need to add in another gym session on my own but I don’t think I could ever quite push myself as much as I do when I go see my PT. I end up with DOMS the day after but I do feel some what stronger!

On the slightly less than great side – I have barely (not) touched my bike – I did 11km the other day just to check I could still ride a bit but it was harder than it should have been so really need to get back on it! I haven’t run at all either however I have changed physio.

Changing physio has been a good move I think. I feel more assured that she has a good idea of what the issue actually is. Her questioning and assessment was far more thorough than the previous one and her exercises more precise for what seems to be the issue. She is also very good at explaining how things work in the body and links. It makes sense so hopefully I shall be back running soon. I am not the biggest fan of running but I am starting to just miss it. However hard I find it. My run fitness is just rubbish!

Love life wise…

Well, after feeling a bit down about the whole dating scene after dating the loveliest guy ever over Christmas and New Year – there has been no change. I have mixed feelings about starting dating again. There is a group of us going up to Northumberland at the end of February – maybe I need to try up there!

Into February, the plan is to start increasing my cycling and try running again. I have already given up my place for Coniston 14 but I am, I think, slowly getting back my mojo.

January has felt like a nice gentle introduction to 2020…. time to get on it (and get my coaching course finished!).

 

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!