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!

Training Review 2018

Last Christmas (I gave you my heart…)… sorry, couldn’t resist, especially after the year I’ve had!

Let me start again.

Last Christmas, I got a free glittery notebook from Cath Kidston with an order. Being a
former teacher, I love a good notebook and unhealthy amounts of stationary. I had itchy feet to write in it – but what? I left it to the side until one day, I decided that I was going to keep a physical, rather than just digital record, of my training year.

img_0178
The cover of my new compendium definitely reflects my love of swimming!

Inside it was entitled; ‘Rach’s Compendium 2018’.

In it contains a review of 2017 in terms of distance and time for swim, bike, run and yoga, as well as a record of races, body statistics (yes – weight and measurements of all sorts body related – big drop in the summer), books read, goals (I achieved none of them!) and a monthly overview. In the monthly overview, I noted anything in particular the stuck out training wise, note on injuries, who I rode with, sportives – anything that took my fancy. I managed to keep it up – although at the back end of the year this has trailed off a little bit. Its a bit like a training diary but looking backwards rather than looking at what I have planned.

I want to carry this on, so I have a new compendium for this year – it is still glittery but slightly bigger. I will be using this alongside trainxhale.com and Endomondo (as well as Strava – but I don’t use Strava quite as religiously).

So what are the final results for 2018? Has it been a good year training wise?

2018

It has certainly been an interesting one.

img_0303
My swimming this year, screen shot from just before I hit the 160km mark on New Years Eve.

When I look at my stats – overall, 2018 has been a good year training wise. The stats are also a good representation of what has gone on in my life. In particular, my swimming stats. I have struggled over the last 18 months to get to the bottom of my swimming injury and resulting tightness. Swimming has also helped me meditate/switch off and help me recover from a horrible break up, my endurance is just about back, I just need to work on my speed). Cycling too – being dragged out to Time Trials in the aftermath of the break up brought on my cycling no end – in fact, if anything, the break up has massively contributed to me becoming more focused on me, my training, and doing what I want to do.

So distance wise – what have I done?

Cycling – (including turbo kms too) 2468.25km

Swimming – 160km

Running – (including treadmill) – 438.85km (considerably less than last year)

Total time across ALL activities – 14 days, 20 hours and 18 minutes – give or take.

When I reflect back on this, I am very conscious that a lot of this has lacked focus, so yes I have put the hours in and I have made a lot improvements (especially in terms of cycling), but I think I can do better.

I have done so much in the last six months because it has been all about me and doing what I love. I’ve probably pushed myself harder too. Reflecting on the year is rather good, as I know that with a focused training plan and getting in some decent base training, I stand a good chance of making some good improvements next year. I need/want to mix up my training, as doing the same thing won’t help me get better. I need more sessions where I push myself out of my comfort zone, but equally I need more sessions at lower intensity.  Put basically – I need to keep mixing it up.

I am not sure what my biggest achievement sporting wise has been this year – but the two things I am most proud of I think involve my swimming come back and my new love of Time Trials and desire to improve and get better.

Targets and Goals for 2019

I do this every year and rarely meet any of them – or give up the ghost a bit but… if I write them here, in 12 months time, hopefully I will be able to tick them off!

  • Swim more than 160km
  • Get my CSS down to 1:55/100m or less.
  • Sub 30 minute 10 mile TT (I was VERY close this year)
  • Improve my average speed on the bike.
  • Cycle at least 2000 miles, if not more.
  • Run 1000km.
  • Run a sub 28 min 5km
  • Run a sub hour 10km
  • Learn to look after my bikes better!
  • Enter a CX race

 

2018 has been a rollercoaster year – roll on 2019 and the start of something truly epic!

Looking forward to 2019

I have to say, I am rather excited about 2019, and looking forward to waving 2018 goodbye. I cant say I have had the best year ever but I have definitely had an interesting and emotional year.

2019 will be something epic I think.

I’ve started to get some routine back with my training – this is definitely contributing to my current happiness and wellbeing. I’ve done two big weeks of swimming without any major back issues, even nudging 20k running this week over three runs and managed to go out three nights on the trot. My base training is starting to show results and I am feeling positive and motivated (long may this last – however, like all things, I know there will be highs and lows). I read a quote about every action being a small step towards that elusive looking goal. Holkham is my A race, and Coniston End to End swim in penciled in. These are my two main goals – with the aim of getting a reasonable decent time and enjoying them.

I love chatting about training and future plans with friends and comparing notes, pencilling events and debating what to do to help support my training. Coniston 14 is one such event, at the end of March. A friend is trying to talk me into doing some crazy 24 mile run/walk thing in February and another friend has talked me into doing a bed race in June. Edinburgh running festival has been mentioned as well as a few Epic Swims up in the Lakes (excellent training again…). I am so excited about what is to come and figuring out what I am going to do – maybe boys will have to take a back seat for a while!

 

Velodrome Fun

I’ve been on a mission to do and try new things and so when the Velodrome at The National Cycling Centre was mentioned – there was no chance I was going to miss that!

I had debated staying in Manchester last night and having a mooch around but decided a 6am alarm and picking up friends for a road trip was a better idea. The car was backed – cycling kit, helmet, bottle of water, baking (obviously!) and said friends picked up – the velodrome awaited.

It was eerily quiet there actually. We were early but not quite the first there – hiring shoes and waiting for everyone to turn up, chat turned to nerves. We got changed and headed to get our bikes and as we walked up in to the middle of the velodrome nerves really hit as I saw how steep the banking was. The same nerves as I get before a race. We all got track bikes, put our shoes on and headed up on the the side of the track, lined up along the grab rail and were given an introduction to track cycling.

I was starting to wonder if I would remember everything. We set off, one by one. Pushing ourselves off with our left hand and turning the pedals. Its the first time I’ve been on a track bike but also the first time on a single, fixed speed bike with no brakes. Bit of a shock to the system. Two laps on the concrete later and we stopped again – next bit of knowledge before being allowed on to the boards.

I did a couple of laps on the light blue boards at the bottom and slowly ventured up, moving up on the straights. Oh my! You are convinced when you look at the banking that you will never be able to get round or that you’ll have enough grip, but the more you go round, the braver you get. It actually didn’t take long for me to start sneaking up the banking – I even made it to the top – it was so much fun. Hard work but fun.

The nerves went and I spent the whole session wishing I was as fit as I was at the end of TT season. Flying round the track knowing I was no where near as fast as the pros has given me a new found respect for the professional track cyclists. The space of the velodrome and what we were doing just seemed so special – especially when doing it with a bunch of mates. One friend, who was so nervous, spent quite a lot of time on the light blue boards at the bottom but eventually braved moving above the black line and towards the red and blue – I was so proud!

‘I’m off to the gym’

‘I’m off to the gym’ are words, that once upon a time, I’d never dreamt of saying. Even when I first started running/swimming/cycling regularly. I didn’t see the point. I could cycle at home or outside for free, and run outside for free. I caved eventually and tried out one of the local small gym’s on a three month membership, and in all honesty, started off fairly consistently but then I came down with cold/ongoing illness that I couldn’t shift and didn’t go enough to warrant it so never renewed it. It also lacked a pool. Lesson learnt.

After this I was still a bit reluctant and put it off again for a bit. Until summer, when I started to debate that actually, it might be wise to join. I was spending £50 a month give or take just to swim – that’s a gym membership without the benefits of classes! Still I put it off, remembering my last experience but knowing full well I would need a gym with a pool if I did go back.

Then he left me.

I didn’t want to risk bumping into him while I was swimming (even though I knew he’d likely swim at the same pool as his new girlfriend) and I debated long and hard about what I wanted to do for me. There were three realistic options for me:

  • Local county leisure centre – some advantages and very reasonable price, but wrong direction and too many public/open sessions in the pool.  (£30ish/month)
  • The local university sports village – again, reasonable price, especially with corperate membership through the club, but too much public sessions in pool – which is often closed as well. And equally, too many students. It’s also the closest to home and work but wasn’t really a place I wanted to spend time. Too clinical. (£42/month)
  • The most expensive option – the private club/gym, further up the road. Dearest by far (£77/month!). I had more close friends here, it’s got two pools, including an outside pool – no issues with it being closed for gala’s or any club sessions. A lot of choice in terms of classes, a good cafe/restaurant and places to work if I’ve time to kill and work to do. And a place I actually want to be.

I chose the most expensive option. Naturally. Initially I signed up for the three month trial which was more expensive but meant I could drop out without being tied into a 12 month contract. I wasn’t sure how consistent I would be in going and how well it would work with work and like but I’ve been so much better at going and making the most of the stretch classes (See my post on swimming for why!)

When I joined, I will be honest and say I wasn’t sure how it was going to go but it’s gone so much better that I thought it would that I’ve signed a 12 month contract. Why? There are various reasons I think why joining the gym now, and this particular gym have worked for me now.

  • I’ve mates that are members – so often we go together, especially as we are both entered for the same races next year!
  • There are some really good classes! At times that fit in with work/life.
  • Its a place I actually like to be, from the lounge and business hub – which I have used several times, to the restaurant/ lounge area.
  • The staff are good – welcoming and friendly.
  • It’s clean and rarely so busy that you can’t get in/feel packed in.
  • It’s still close to work and has decent opening times. #6amclub anyone?

So yes I forked out, yes I do generally feel I get my money’s worth out of it, and yes I did it for me and love it!

Next season I shall be coming back to racing stronger, fitter and a lot happier.