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!

Cough cough splutter

I am rubbish at being ill.

I suspect most people are but when you have races coming up and your training, pre illness, was going well, it is infuriating having to rest – creating a slightly grumpy triathlete! I started with a cough about two or three weeks ago. It got really bad this week and in the last week I have barely done any training – enforced rest. I can’t say that I have taken it too well. It has been glorious today and all I have wanted to do is go ride my bike.

So I am nearly on two weeks off.

My cough has improved and I now have symptoms more akin to having a cold. I am debating slowly easing back into training in a hope that I have cracked the back of it now – so my plan of action is some yoga at the start of the week and into an easy run/swim on Tuesday and see how it goes.

I am also going to re-jig my training plan. I am only 7 weeks off my first race (a 10k) and less than three months of a half marathon.

In the meantime – I have been swotting up, watching lots of GCN videos on YouTube and booked another race/ordered some new tyres…. It has kept my motivation in place and helped prevent me from going loopy!

There are some advantages to enforced rest I suppose. Fingers crossed that this week I can get back into training and get some structure and routine back this week! I know I haven’t been alone.

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!

Mirror Mirror

‘Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.’ Winston Churchill

Wise words from Churchill himself.

I have actually done some reflecting, not quite intentionally, as a result of a random dream and random recent events that I won’t go into too much detail about. This year has been one of many ups and downs.

Well, I say many ups and downs, it started up, then went down majorly, then improved – more than I thought it would. In all honesty, I am in a far better place than I thought I would be and I am really excited about 2019 (my credit card isn’t so happy). I genuinely cant believe I’m sat here, six months post break up, in such a better place.

It is the first time I have been single for twelve years. Written down, that looks more tragic than I feel it is. I am starting to enjoy being single and as cliche as it sounds, finding out what makes me tick and makes me me again. A friend said to me the other day that she thought it was a good thing that I was still single and finding my feet. Clearly my ex wasn’t actually good enough for me (or good enough for any woman? or just not right for me? Not sure). I’m at the point where his new girlfriend is most welcome to him as when I sat and thought about it, I think I was too laid back and actually, I’ve realised quite a few things that again, for various reasons, were just not normal/right in a relationship that lasted that long. I suppose after the former boyfriend, things seemed more normal. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I do believe things happen and people come into your life (and out) for a reason – even if it isn’t clear at the time. The fog and confusion of a major break up is just about clear (some things still hurt occasionally but for the most part, the voodoo doll is away).

Anyway, on a more positive note…

As daft as it sounds, I feel like I’m reverting back to the teenage me, or rather, the 17 year old me – and I quite like her! Although I hope I am somewhat wiser than the 17 year old me. The flirting, having fun, no commitment, no considering other people’s plans – another mate asked me how I seem to be attracting blokes, but in all honesty, I like blokes, and even though the last one eventually showed his true colours, I know not all men are the same. In the same breath, I am also more aware that not all men are knights in shinning armour/have honest intentions – but so long as the intentions are clear – I am rather enjoying being single.

I am really looking forward to 2019 – I’ve so many things I want to do and develop – I’ve a new business that I want to build up and expand on, exciting races planned, training penciled in, a holiday booked and so many other things I want to do – I feel the world is at my feet. It’s just up to me to embrace it and see what happens.

So while I have been reflective – I am also rejoicing – the love of family and friends has got me through so much and I am eternally grateful for that. I am rejoicing that I am stronger than I thought and emotionally in such a better place.

2018/19, I think, may prove to be the making of me.

 

I am just a little bit excited!

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!

 

Testing Testing….

As I am actually beginning to take my winter training a bit more serious, I thought I might as well do a couple of baseline tests. This was also triggered by a conversation with one of the coaches in the club as we were discussing doing a CSS (Critical Swim Speed) test set at the next swim session. I also decided I might as well do an FTP test on the bike too!

Swim Test….

CSS stands for Critical Swim Speed – it’s essentially the pace you can maintain for a continuous 1500m (or hour), but rather than do a full 1500m continuous swim or an hour time trial – you can work it out from a 400m TT and a 200TT (go check out Swim Smooth here). Most of my plans and races next year are longer than the 400m swim in sprint triathlons so for me, working on my CSS pace is a good aim – I’m not too worried about my shorter distance speed (although I won’t be ignoring speed sets). I cant even remember the last time I did a CSS set so Friday morning I set out on a mission to work mine out.

I had an idea before hand that my CSS pace should be somewhere around the 2min/100m mark. I used one of the club sets – braving the longer set. I did my warm up, including a bit of speed as well as a bit of pull. My 400m time was 7:46:06 – respectable considering my swimming has been hit or miss in the last year due to injury. My 200m time was 3:49:06. I was genuinely over the moon with this as my last sprint triathlon swim time was 7:32:00 and that was at my near peak swim fitness. When I got out of the pool and plugged the numbers into the CSS calculator on the Swim Smooth website – CSS pace – 1:59m/100m – BOOM! Sub 2 minutes! Not as great as it used to be but I am still happy with this as a starting point – I’m planning on swimming four times a week!

Cycling…

FTP – if you cycle regularly or have a turbo trainer, chances are you have heard of an FTP test – Functional Threshold Power – the power you can maintain/produce – over an hour. Quite similar in some respects to the CSS really in my eyes. I had a debate about this with my mate and how accurate my turbo would be in comparison to the Wattbikes at the gym. But considering I’m using my turbo for my training, I decided that I would just keep it to the turbo so it was all consistent. I signed back up to Zwift and this morning decided to have a go at the FTP shorter test. It’s a while since I’ve done that too!

Forty-five minutes of sweat and hurt. I followed the FTP shorter test on Zwift – the 20 minute section from which they take the average for your FTP averaged at 164 watts – Zwift take this and work out your average watts at 95% of that (which is similar to how the CSS worked out with me). 157 Watts was declared as my FTP score – with my weight this works out at 2.5W/Kg – which, according to Zwift is Fair to Moderate fitness (see here for details from Zwift on this – its quite interesting!).

So what does all this mean?

It means that my Zwift sessions will reflect my FTP – helping make my turbo training more efficient and hopefully less dull – as I’ll be focused on following a plan. It might not be particularly accurate or my real actual power output but its a starting point. In swimming, it means that when I’m working on my threshold and endurance, I’ve times to go off – such as 100s off 2.10.

it also gives me a nice data point to refer back to in a couple of months to check on my progress.

Fingers crossed the training will kick in and I’ll see some results!