Looking Ahead – 2020!

The title of this blog post and the nature of how this blog came about suggests that it should be about relationships and life and looking forward rather than back. Well, I COULD have written a post like that – and maybe I will as I have temporarily  given up on dating and have currently resigned myself to being single a bit longer (no bad thing) – although… no – this isn’t about that.

I like paper to do lists, I like paper diaries and I like paper wall planners. Although I have taken to using my phone diary a lot as it syncs to my laptop diary and I can print that off all colour coordinated and blocked out. Saves me a job! This has got me thinking – how to other people plan out their year?

I find that a huge wall planner, next to my desk in my office works best. Academic of course…

Its even got a basic code – races that I am interested in go on – regardless. As soon as they are ‘booked’ or confirmed – I put a cloud round them. Holidays have a line through them. It works! It really does! When I am sat working in my office (which, when it is tidy, is more frequent that it is at the moment) and I am wondering what my plans are/training needs are, I can quick glance at what is coming up – I can visually see the space/time between events – which makes planning so much easier. It also means that if I get my way then May next year will be bust and I need to save some serious money to do what I want!

I am VERY excited though – which probably means actually, dating would not be wise…

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Chillswim Coniston End to End 5.25 miles

The 31st of August 2019 may go down as a day that I decided never to swim again.

Temporarily anyway. I’m waiting for sleep and time to dull the painful memories.

It’s already fading as it is and I am beginning to think that I actually might have enjoyed it – in a type 2 kinda way!

So the decision to do the End to End was made nearly a year ago. A year ago when I went to watch and support friends. I walked up a hill to watch from afar – little spots in the water in the far distance swimming beautiful calm water in a beautiful calm part of the world. I was wishing I was in the water – not watching!

I decided that I would have to give it ago, and low and behold, Saturday morning came round and I found myself stood next to a lake wondering what I had let myself in for.

This weekends adventure started as we left York – I say we, as there was one of my mates, his gorgeous pooch and myself, all packed and loaded into the car and on our way – and already planning/researching an epic trip for next year! We stopped en-route at a fish and chip shop in Kirby Stephen that has not seen any modernisation in about 30 years (except maybe the till). They weren’t bad for all I mock. The second stop was Kendal before arriving quite late into Coniston. By this time we had already learnt that the swim had been put back five hours due to the weather forecast which meant we had time for a drink and chance of a lie in. Winning!

Morning came round and breakfast consumed – we wandered down to register and investigate the water (walk the dog and attempt some geocaching – we even bumped into Sean Conway!) and waste some time. Milling about waiting is actually harder than it looks. Our complacency though backfired as we realised the time – quickly scoffing some lunch before getting changed (I have NEVER put a wetsuit on as fast in my life) and heading to get the bus to the start line.

For once I didn’t feel nervous. I knew I could do the distance but that it might be uncomfortable – my kit was all ok, ear plugs in, hats on – even booties – which was a good call! Checked in, scoffed a snickers, stuffed one up my sleeve and finally got in to the water and off. And a water temp of 17 – I knew I could swim in that happily!

So far so good. Managed to keep up with one of my mates to the second food station. Was struggling a bit with sighting and a bit off initially but the first half was quite uneventful – I cant say easy – it wasn’t and some of the food stations meant getting so close to shore you had to walk out of the water. The real fun came between miles 3 and 4 – the sun had been out for the first half and considering the rain and wind of the morning – the afternoon was looking promising. Then the wind got up and the rain started. One the plus side I saw a rainbow and didnt notice the rain so much! Mile 4 or rather at the 6km mark, my shoulder started to give me issues and I debated getting out and DNF-ing. I am a bit stubborn though and I could not have worn the hoodie if I had so I carried on and the last mile was the worst!

After the fourth feed station pain, boredom and negative self talk started. My shoulder was making me miserable, I was struggling to see the five mile buoy and I misjudged the finish – like a few others. I also needed the loo – anyone who knows me, knows how hard I find it!

It seemed to take forever. All hopes of coming in in under three and a half hours were shot and I just wanted to finish. I have never been so happy to see a finish line!

The photos of me exiting the water say it all!

My mate was waiting for me as I wandered out of the water, down the finishing shoot and to the exit – first two things to sort were my need to go to the loo and food. Both satisfied – we got the buses back to the registration point. Lots of people around me mentioned that they had found it harder than last year and the conversations since suggest that a lot of people were about 20 minutes slower than they expected – which makes me feel somewhat better about the the 3:50 when I know I can do it in under 3:30!

Achy and sore, both my friend and I wandered back to our cottage and got showered before heading out for a drink and then eating tea. Wetsuits in the drying room, fed and watered, bed called. I have never been more happy to go to bed!

Still woke up tired though, but less painful memories of the swim!

As for the event itself – considering the delays – communication was excellent, organisation was excellent, the volunteers and safety crew were excellent and the whole set up fab. It really was worth doing and is worth doing – just because!

And yes, I was glad I wore booties and had snickers up my sleeve!

Will I do it again?

Ask me in a week or two!

Getting Back On It

It is twelve weeks today until Outlaw X in September – which, alongside Coniston end to end swim, are my two big goals now. After spending most of May socialising and June recovering from said socialising, its time to get back on it.

Timing, hopefully, should improve in terms of how much time I have to train. Work is the same in terms of the day job – although I have a week off soon, but the tutoring work will probably ease up over summer – or rather my one to ones will.

I am slowly starting to up my swimming and the Time Trials will finish in three weeks time – although it has to be said I’ll miss them! I am slowly starting to put together a plan for the next few weeks with what I’ve got planned but I need to start prioritising running as a running total of 15km in June is pretty poor – and not going to get me around the half marathon at the end of a 70.2!

At least I feel like I am starting from a reasonable decent place with most things. Just need to get the mojo back!

Pressing Reset – Holkham

This has come as a bit of a surprise to even me but after seeing a Facebook post about changing my A race, a month of being far too sociable and thinking I can manage to balance everything, as well as a rubbish race last night and cold….. I’ve decided to quit Holkham and change to Outlaw X in September.

After speaking to mates last night and some equally awesome people on Twitter, this will come as no real surprise – there are multiple reasons for this and I am quite happy to share them – I don’t feel at all bad about changing my race or my priorities – in fact if anything, going to see Graeme Obree speak last week has just reaffirmed my own outlook to not really care what others think, to not worry too much about life’s purpose and to enjoy the moment. I’m not a pro and life happens and no-one will die as a result of me changing my mind!

So why the change?

  • I don’t think I will be race fit in 6 weeks. That is completely my own doing. I had a plan. I was, at the start, doing well to keep to The Plan. Then I booked too many social things and took on extra work with my own business and an extra day at work in the day job, that I’ve struggled to fit it in – slowly heading towards burn out.
  • I was too ambitious with my initial training plan – I think this may have contributed to my loss of running mojo. It had all started so well too! I know too well though that this does ebb and flow anyway.
  • My friend withdrawing meant that I was racing far from home on my own. Ok this is a bit of a no-goer as an excuse and her decision, like mine, has been the right one (so no feeling bad!!). Changing my race means I can probably actually get out on the bike more with her, which was part of the original plan when we discussed Holkham anyway so win win! We will be back! And I’d still like to do Holkham.
  • Delaying/changing my A race means I can take on board what I’ve learnt in the last three months and get it right or rather improve it. How many people honestly get to reset their training during a race season? We are still only just in to triathlon racing season and I’ve a reasonably ok base on which to restart – so taking this as a mini win.
  • I need to reset – building on from the last point. I’ve come down with cold/chesty cough and noticed last night how much it effects my riding. As well as getting a good kick in the backside about doing more hills and actually going and doing some S&C – as one of my mates keeps nagging me to do. I need to mix up my training again. I also need to swim more as I have signed up for Coniston End to End and that now lands BEFORE my half-iron distance race.
  • Outlaw X is quite a bit closer to home. I hadn’t sorted out my accommodation for Holkham but Nottinghamshire is closer – which has some obvious travelling advantages. I also think I know a few people who might be doing it so that’s a bit of a winner for me too.
  • The weather will, hopefully, stand a chance of being cooler. Equally, there is a higher chance of it being a lot wetter – but I don’t really do well in heat – to be fair, this is just an advantage of having a later race – it could end up being an Indian summer and hot!
  • It gives me chance to go do some sportive that I’d like to do which will help with training – after last years events and thinking about my cycle fitness by September last year – I was in a good place – hopefully I will be in an even better place by this September!
  • Hopefully I have learnt to not book in too many social events – or rather, balance them a bit better. I feel like, after 8 years of being in a relationship with someone who actually wasn’t that spontaneous and that up for mini-adventures, I’ve been making up for lost time. I don’t want to lose that but I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Alnwick Sprint a couple of weeks ago – why not incorporate my mini-adventures/road trips with training? So going forward, I want to incorporate them.
  • Triathlon/training has taken over a bit too much and I need to step back as well I think. Hopefully in changing races, I can actually take a step back. I am heeding the warnings of my friends about burnout before I do actually properly burn out.

Genuinely think this is a good call on my part. A middle distance triathlon was the goal for this year and changing it has all sorts of advantages. It also means that I stand a better chance of getting a time I am actually happy with compared to racing in 6 weeks and possibly breaking myself!

Roll on a summer of training and enjoying life!

 

Holkham Training – Week One

So first week of my half-iron training done. I’ve included an introduction – so will be a longer blog than maybe normal but seeing as I’ve few readers and this is mostly for my benefit – meh!

Training plan background and general introduction

I am following the plan from IronFit Triathlon Training for Women by Melanie and Don Fink. Why? Because it was the Be Iron Fit plan that the ex had followed for his IM training and it had worked for him and after a year and a half of it, I had a good feel for it. The Half Iron plan from the book follows a similar layout to the Be IronFit one to be fair so the routine is one I am used to. I am also using TrainXhale to map my training and record it (as well as Strava and Endomondo – I like stats). My base in terms of run fitness and swim fitness have been pretty good. My cycling has fallen by the wayside a little – but it’ll come back. I always worry more about my running but the cycling is creeping in a little. Regardless – going back to the ‘plan’ – The IronFit book has three levels of plan – complete/intermediate/competitive – I’ve looked at the intermediate and the competitive – and used a combination of both to make my training plan – the main differences between the intermediate and competitive were longer brick sessions, an extra bike session and longer swims. I know where I can tweak according to other plans. I have also taken on an extra day at work.

General issues

Beyond training – I struggle to eat properly at the start of the week due to work commitments. Last Sunday after a long run, I tried to be mega organised – I came home and cooked enough food to feed an army. Well, ok maybe a little bit of an exaggeration but certainly enough to get me through the start of the week. This has proved to be an absolute godsend and worked really well. I ate well and felt better for it. Until I scoffed my face at work with too much cake and sweet stuff – I need to be careful NOT to over eat on the premise that I am training more and need fuel. It doesn’t work like that!

I also need to find time to actually chill out, rest and do other things beyond triathlon – hard when I am in the middle of renewals, had Members’ Day to organise and a business to run (which I really need to get on top off and advertise more!). I managed to find some time this week and despite being tired, binge watched some ‘Nailed It!’ on Netflix.  I also managed to be sociable and went out for tea with a friend I haven’t seen in years.

Anyway – on to…

Training!

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Recovery! Chocolate milk is just the best after a long slow run!

Swim – 3 swims, 5.65km. Well, I still have the same niggles I’ve had for ages, didn’t quite get the distance I wanted either but think I may need to reassess my swimming and when I swim as quite often my pace is all over the place. I’m not worried though. Swim is swim. Nothing else to report!

Bike – 2 x Turbo sessions – 48.52km – One session was the 4wk FTP Booster Wk1 Day 6 Tempo with Accelerations and the other was literally 75 minutes of spinning/endurance. Nothing to report – I really need to get out on the bike. The second session nearly was – it was after being at Members’ Day all day and the faff of getting lights and kit out just did not appeal despite the weather.

Run – 2 x Treadmill, 2 x Runs – 35.9km total.  Did my first long slow run (lsr) in a LONG time on Sunday (before I actually started my plan on Monday) and it was actually really enjoyable. I can’t believe I’m saying that about running, although I always did prefer a LSR to sprint and tempo sessions. Sore feet (blisters by the end) but all in all – good. It was also my first solo lsr too. 14km. I’ve managed to keep the running up through the week – I’ve been aiming for Zone 2 runs on the treadmill and considering Wednesday night’s club session – it appears to be kicking in. Friday’s treadmill session was same pace as always but my heart rate average was 142 – so I know it’s definitely kicking in! My LSR today was 10 miles/16km – which was against the plan but I have a 14 mile race (Coniston 14) next weekend so thought I better get some miles in! Again, sore feet about 12km mark but slightly faster average. By end of March I will be on my longest ever running month. My mojo is slowly coming back.

Overall

I managed to keep to the plan this week – I even got in a stretch session at the gym and my normal yoga session on my rest day. Today’s LSR though did remind me that I definitely NEED to get in my strength and conditioning work as my glutes were complaining a bit today. I know there will be weeks and days were my motivation is dire and I may need to catch up on rest/be sociable but looking ahead, beyond this (and acknowledging it – Long slow work will be most important) my bigger concern is May as I am away a lot and will really have to think/consider how I am going to get long rides in. I’ve some time to think about that, but for now, I am happy that for the first time ever – I have ACTUALLY stuck to a training plan! Heres to the next fifteen weeks!

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!

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.

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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.

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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!