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…

Enduring Inspiration

I am never going to be particularly fast – I know that – not the fastest swimmer, not the fastest cyclist, not the fastest runner. Seeing gains and improvements is always satisfying but the ‘fastest’ at anything isn’t my style. I could go for endurance though – and I suppose this is why I find endurance athletes the most interesting and most fascinating.

I follow quite a few endurance athletes via social media such as Nicky Spinks and Sean Conway. I’ve also met both of them. I’ve also recently been reading Mark Beaumont’s books, so when I saw he was on a book tour – there was no way I wasn’t going to go.

For those of you who might not of have heard of him, Mark Beaumont is a well known adventurer – most famous for his cycling exploits – included racing Africa as well as two around the world cycling trips – most recent one being Around the World in 80 Days – an amazing feat (go read his books!).

I am not a fan of driving into Leeds to be quite honest but this was worth it. Parking up at the Light and walking across the Carriageworks Theatre I arrived in good time. Which always amazes me as I usually cut these things quite fine.

Either way, what followed was broken down in to two parts – the first half gave background to how Mark Beaumont got to the point where cycling the world in 80 days became a possibility. Everything that had gone before leading up to it. Working out what was possible – what the intention was. Not just breaking the previous record but setting a goal and working out what was possible – like he said, good project management. It was genuinely fascinating – I am currently half way through the book but it won’t spoil it I don’t think!

Then the second half focused solely on the 80 days – the difficulties and how it was actually possible – I could have sat and listened for hours – how it seemed actually possible to develop and create your own trip on your own terms was what really stood out to me. Considering how much I love a good road trip made me think about how much I missed having a tent! I’ve been moaning for a month or two about how I left a perfectly good tent at the ex’s! Not amused.

This nicely leads on to the fact that I actually won a tent last night. Vango currently sponsor Mark Beaumont so there was a competition to win a tent – tweet or Instagram a picture from the evening with the hast tag #forwhereveryougo and you stood a chance of winning.

Possibly the best tweet I have ever written – though from my other twitter account!

So come the end of the show I went off to claim it and actually met him. I am rarely shy but I was last night. Ooops.

I also got talking to Ed Pratt who has cycled the world on a unicycle – honestly – that to me is mega crazy – over three years. My biggest question was along the lines of – whats your cadence like on a unicycle?! I am genuinely intrigued – and I would love to go see him talk. That might be my next trip….

Anyway – if you haven’t read Mark Beaumont’s books – I would really recommend you do! I’m off to plan my next adventure!

Edinburgh Marathon Festival Road Trip 2019

What an absolutely epic weekend!

It should be clear by now that I love road trips and that this May has been full of them. It is possible that this weekend has been one of my favourites! All of them have involved eating a lot, drinking a lot and racing, a lot. All good I hear you say! Well you would be right!

There are two main parts to this – the races and the rest of it.

I’ll get to the races but I like chronological order. Possibly due to my inner historian. Anyway…

Background

Why Edinburgh? Why Edinburgh Marathon Festival (EMF) weekend?

Why not? One of my mates is doing Endure 24. He has signed up to run it solo. Edinburgh Marathon Festival formed part of his training plan of sorts (the 5k, the 10k and the marathon). Because our mates and myself are thoughtful, kind and supportive (knowing the likelihood of him reading this – we love you but we think you are a little crazy sometimes), we decided to tag along in support. In my case, with the thoughts of doing Holkham, I decided that it would prompt me to keep running as part of my own training. I decided to sign up for the half-marathon and then cheer on the marathon. I later signed up for the 5k after getting a discount voucher from EMF for my birthday. One of our other mates signed up for the 5k, the 10k and marathon out of support.

This is the result of post-swim/training discussions that result in all sorts of crazy, wonderful plans.

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities so it was never going to take much persuading to get me there. Any excuse!

The actual trip

So the actual plan of action. There was four of us going to race. We travelled up in pairs and made our plans. I managed to persuade my mate to book first class train tickets – making the most of my railcard – both to Edinburgh and back. This was the wisest decision ever, even if we did lower the average age of the travellers in first considerably. More on this later. My mate, in turn, proceeded to book the wrong tickets home – causing me mini-heart palpitations. Thankfully, he realised! He was also responsible for booking the hostel.

Plans in place we met on the station platform at lunch on Friday and took the train to Edinburgh – making the most of the complimentary drinks and food while doing a great deal of people watching and general chatting. I love traveling by train, and its even better first class! What bemused me most though was how little luggage I had compared to my mate – however I was NOT complaining about this later and was soon rather impressed with his travelling skills. All kudos to him!

Arrival in Edinburgh and searching for our hostel reminded me how many steps there were in the city. To be perfectly honest, I followed my mate so he could have lead me on a right merry dance and I’d never have known! I knew where we were staying would be pretty cool but it was better than I thought it would be. We were Hostelling at the Kick Ass Hostel in Grassmarket – it was genuinely the funkiest place I have ever stayed – in these cool pods! Towel rail, hooks, plug sockets, own mini light, AND funky colour changing lights, black out curtain and own locker cupboard. Bar, plenty of toilets and showers, kitchen etc. All for £30 a night! Winning!

So far so awesome. So first night involved eating pizza, finding our feet and drinking Guiness. Our other mates had got to Edinburgh but both were poorly. This turned out to be a complete bummer as it meant neither of them would be racing. At all. The whole reason we were there. These things happen though. An early night was had and the next day saw my mate racing the 10k, and then both of us doing the 5k. Which was a bit surreal to be fair. Doing one race after the other? Well, I say that, but that was my mate. Watching and then both racing – and the number of people/organisation was impressive. More about the races in particular can be found here.

Post race plan was pretty simple really. Back to the hostel, shower, nap, eat. All of which we did. Brunch and Supper, where I went back in February, was literally around a corner or two from where we were staying so we wandered over before heading into the centre for some retail therapy/drooling over kit. Mentally spending a lot of money. This was followed by tea (I did say we ate a lot!) at a place called Mamma’s in Grassmarket – really reasonably priced, really fresh and really good service. No curry this time. Pre race pasta.

Nerves were starting to kick in about Sunday though. I was feeling it – I suspect my mate was too but he wasn’t showing it as much as I was moaning about it! Constant weather forecast checking and me debating kit and whether I should have brought a long sleeved top summed up my evening! Although I warm up a LOT when I’m running.

Sunday morning came, and I crawled out of bed – my mate came to the start line with me – well actually, it would be more truthful to say he lead me to my race – I was just following his lead! Either way – my mate’s forward planning came to the fore – black plastic bin bags! Kept the rain off perfectly. Anyway – this isn’t so much about the races as the weekend. My mates race start time was two hours after mine so after I’d set off – I’ve no idea what he got up to!

I’m going to skip forward now to post race and getting back into Edinburgh as the race day antics can sit in another post (which I’ve linked above).

We got back into Edinburgh and hobbled back to the hostel – first priority was clearly Guiness. Naturally! Then showers and then berating our mate for not racing. Followed by more drinks in the Beehive. Although our poorly mate deserves some credit – we did manage to all meet up and he suggested Zizzi’s and it was lush! So the eating and drinking carried on. Full three courses for me and the tired marathoner and pizza and desert for the poorly one. There was an internal debate about a final drink but tiredness had kicked in and so we all parted ways and headed back to sleep.

And thankful for a 10am train.

Monday morning – the pair of us aching and stiff, and me suffering with some blisters hobbled about getting our stuff together before a morning coffee and checking out of the hostel. The walk to the station was slower than our original walk from the station. It was at this point where I reminded my mate that he would soon be thankful for first class tickets home. The train was packed down in standard and probably a lot noisier too! We definitely made the most of the complimentary food and drinks, the bit extra space and the quietness. Discussing our weekend, the medal haul and me suggesting another road trip (the key is to drip feed these idea!).

It was with mixed feelings that we departed the train in York – parting ways on the station as I headed to Piccadilly to get the bus back to my pick up point. Sad that the weekend was over, that the racing was over and that I had no more planned road trips. I am more impressed that I didn’t lose my mate over the weekend or that it was as laid back as it was.

I haven’t been so chilled in so long.

Clearly in my mind I’m planning my next road trips and how to rope my mates in….

Maybe I am the bad influence?!

Here goes nothing!

‘Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.’ Gail Devers

I’ve had a busy month and neglected writing. I’ve been away on holiday (which was exactly what I needed at the time, surrounded by friends and living the good life!), gained some more work in the form of new one-to-one pupils and completed my Level One Triathlon Coaching – all in all busy and productive. On the same note, it’s brought home some truths about the next few months.

Next week sees the ‘official’ start of my training plan for Holkham.

I am equally excited and terrified by this for several reasons. I have found that trying to eat well at the beginning of the week is incredibly hard. Monday through to Wednesday I am barely home – Monday I leave the house at 7am and get home about 9pm, Tuesday – gym before work means I can leave the house at 6am, go home for 20 minutes after work, then head out again, not to be home until 9.45pm and Wednesday is similar – gym pre work, work, tutoring and then running – so 9pm before home. I am going to have to start properly meal prepping if I am going to eat well enough to be able to train properly – and not eat so much rubbish. I’ve a few ideas on that front.

The other thing I’ve found is on the dating front – I just don’t have the time to date, that process of getting to know someone. I deleted my POF account the other day and felt better for it – it served its purpose at the time. If someone walks into my life that I find I willing want to make time for (mega bonus points if they swim/bike/run) then great, if not, then so be it. I am actually enjoying the single life too much to be too worried.

I am trying to balance saying yes to exciting things and how this is going to fit in with training/life. My major concern is actually cycling. As in May I am away three weekends – lots of running – little cycling. So that will be interesting. Coupled with the fact I am taking on an extra day at the day job – I have a lot going on. I’ve also got members day and renewals coming up in my club (being membership sec – this is the busiest time of year).

These are my main concerns in terms of general life getting in the way of training. Eating properly and fitting it in. I am going to try and keep myself a bit more accountable by blogging once a week purely about my training. A diary of sorts, in a mission to keep on top of training and keep myself motivated. Basically, I think I am just going to have to be a little (read as lot) selfish for the next four months.

Hopefully, come July 7th – I’ll be ready to smash out a great race and come back happy!

Best get cracking!

Back on the Road to Recovery

So far January has been a bit rubbish for me. I’ve not done any training whatsoever due to an extreme bout of tonsillitis, having never had it before, I can honestly say I never want it again. It has been awful! So awful that I couldn’t get excited about new tyres coming for the bike.

Anyway, light at the end of the tunnel, a full week off work and hours spent watching GCN on YouTube, I am starting to feel better. So much better that this morning I decided to actually try doing something useful with my bike.

My winter bike hasn’t been touched since my last ride out months ago – on said ride I got a puncture and I was in such a foul mood that rather than fix it on the side of the road, I decided that ringing home and getting a lift back was a better idea. My bike, and it’s puncture, have been sat in the garage ever since. Over Christmas though I decided to treat my bike to a new set of tyres – hopefully something a bit more puncture resistant and better quality. The front wheel was still on it’s factory fitted and there was a £12 cheap tyre on the rear.

img_0359
New tyres! Continental GP4000 sII

I ordered some Continental GP4000 sII from Wiggle – £60 for a pair. I did try getting them at Evans Cycles and Halfords – I didn’t try my LBS like I should have because in all honesty, I didn’t think they would be able to price check them. When you’re saving for new wheels and you’re a bit skint, it does matter, however torn I was.

The tyres arrived right as I was in the middle of being poorly with no motivation or energy to fit them. This morning though, well on the road to recovery, I thought I’d better give it a go. Cant be that hard…. Now, most of my cycling life, I have been with a bloke who cycles, and I’ve left most of the maintenance stuff to him, so this was new territory.

Turns out wasn’t half as bad as I was expecting. I knew what I needed to do but double checked anyway. Had the new inner for back wheel ready, track pump and tyre leavers to hand and set about changing the wheels. Turns out I’m more capable than I thought at sorting random stuff out and it didn’t take me as long as I thought it would either. So I am feeling quite smug this afternoon about it. Wheels are now back on the bike – correctly – I usually stress about putting the back wheel on – but no issues. Took the bike down the road to check all in order – bosh – job done (can already tell a difference in tyres too – wish id changed them sooner!). Although more randomly, after riding the Ridley inside on the turbo and getting back on the spesh – the spesh felt huge! It was also REALLY cold outside (although to be fair, I went out with bare minimum on just to check it).

Now all I need to to properly get better and start building the training up again!

Why hello 2019!

So I receive a tweet suggesting I change my Twitter name/handle – I think I probably should. I cant believe how far I’ve actually come in the last six or seven months. Anyway, this quick post isn’t about that – but it did make me think about what I should change it to – food for thought and suggestions welcome!

It’s not even about the fact I spend New Year’s Eve tinkering with TT bars on my bike and watching GCN videos on YouTube.

No – it’s about the fact that I spent the first day of the year on my CX bike, with a mate, plodding (read: getting whooped) around the Blue Route at Sherwood Pines. Poor lad had to deal with me coughing my guts up most of the day. I went last Friday and was fine, despite cough, today, on lack of sleep and coughing – it was hard going. I suppose the fact that my mate is far far stronger and skilled than I am put me through my paces didn’t help matters but the sun came out, I ate cake and had a lot of fun. Should 2019 continue in such a manner then bring it on!