‘Runner’ – back to basics…

I realised that I had started a blog post ages ago about getting ‘back in to running’ and it had been sat in drafts for ages so I decided to revisit it, only to wonder what I was thinking at the time of writing the two paragraphs that had been sat there. The only thing I’ve kept is the title of the blog post. Deleted the rest thinking ‘what a loada tosh!’

What I really hate about running is that I lose run fitness far quicker than I lose swim or bike fitness. Massively. I can also push myself swimming and cycling to the point of feeling sick, without feeling or thinking it’s beyond stupid. Running is a different entity for me. It also seems to take me a lot longer to gain run fitness again compared to swimming and cycling. Starting again feels like starting from scratch again.

Anyway, I have somehow started to find running marginally better. I started running with a friend on a weekend and it’s kept me somewhat accountable and I have started to feel my run fitness slowly improve and have slowly increased the number of times I run a week too. Small steps.

I have also realised I am my own worst enemy when it comes to running. I can happily swim train on my own, cycling I am somewhat similar but prefer training with people. Running – I really need to run with others to keep me on track and motivated to keep going. So running with one of my friends has really helped and because it is currently low stakes and we are both just heading out to get slowly better – I am enjoying it (and the chat!). It also massively helped my mood after a huge dip in January. I went out with another friend a week or two back post work. It was his slow run day – so we went out – well, his slow easy run was more like speed work for me to an extent but after several months running on trails – running on path felt easier than I expected and I ended up with the fastest 5km time I’ve done in ages. It also made me realise that actually  the slow running is good for me and gave me a bit of a boost in terms of achieving without setting out to do it.

The blog post title refers to going back to basics and I feel like I have – the lighter evenings (which, with the clock changes, will be even better), running with friends, running slow and just heading out really is going back to basics and it’s helping. I have also tried to be more time efficient and I am getting changed to run, at work, and parking up at local woods to go run trail so it’s done before I get home and sit down! Although note to self – carry inhaler!

Maybe I will actually start enjoying running more again. LOVE might be too strong an emotion but small steps – it’s definitely more tolerable than it was three months ago!

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.

Run Girl Run!

I know I have said this before but my thinking is that if I write a blog post about it, I might be more inclined to do it and hold myself a bit more accountable.

It’s no secret that running is not my favourite thing. I am on 21.5km this year on the run front.

What with lockdown and not being able to swim, my focus has entirely shifted to cycling – and the odd pilates/yoga/stretch session. So really it’s even more reason to start running again.

Thing is, I don’t completely hate running. I just hate the bit between being not run fit and being run fit. I lose run fitness so fast and it takes so long to get back – and it hurts!

I do need to bite the bullet though and try it again. Surely the pilates and spin sessions will mean it’s not going to be as bad as I expect but even so…

I still keep finding reasons not to start.

In February, after being given the nod to start running (and running with no knee pain) I did run but I will admit I’ve found it hard to keep any motivation… the issue is I really like half distance triathlons……

I’m off to look for my mojo.

Maybe I’m a Triathlete after all…

After a complete loss of mojo coupled with injury (of sorts), horrible weather and work, I appear to be slowly back training again – this has come as a shock.

It started last Sunday. I decided I was actually going to get in a turbo session. It was about time I re-accustomised myself to the bike seeing as at the end of the month I’m off over the the National Cycling Centre in Manchester to play on the velodrome. This was the first shock to the system.

The second shock came when, on Monday, I managed to fit in a second turbo session.

Two turbo sessions, three swims, a PT session, the new Yogalates session at the gym – on a roll!

Major shock no.3 came with a run!

You read that correctly. I actually ran. Not so much willingly, more that my mate made me run. And I managed a continuous 4km – it wasn’t fast. It wasn’t pretty either, but I did it. Small steps back!

I also managed to have a play on my PTs Watt bike – and was quite impressed so my intention is, this weekend at some point – to maybe go and do my FTP test on the Watt bike and see what happens (this may or may not happen!).

I say this but I came home from work at 2pm this afternoon and proceeded to watch three hours of Say Yes to the Dress on Quest and I’ve done very little else so yeah….

Maybe I am actually a triathlete. Of sorts!

 

CTS Northumberland 2020

My worst 10km race ever.

Not really the worse thing ever though. Anyone who knows me or has read my blog know that I haven’t really run at all since September due to an ongoing injury/issues so I wasn’t expecting anything reasonable and nor was I expecting to be able to run all of it. It is still my favourite race and the most beautiful place ever.

So apart from it being a poor time, what was different from previous years?

The weather – well, a headwind ALL the way and everything from snow, sleet, rain, sun and rainbows. Just about every season in a day. I was very seriously contemplating DNS.

The company – this year I managed to talk two mates into coming and doing the race too. It was one of them that stopped me from DNS and is the most calming person to be around. I knew he would love the race and the scenery and felt justified in my ‘persuasion’ tactics from earlier in the year (I have been trying to persuade him up here for the last year). I didn’t run with them but them being there and a group of mates being at the end and staying for the weekend made it worth it.

My fitness – my run fitness is dire but my knee did not hurt – I am taking this as the biggest win ever.

The Coastal Trail Race in Northumberland is my favourite 10km (this year 11.2!km) run ever and the fact that I think I may have converted/persuaded a few more of my mates to come again next year makes it even more special.

 

First run back!

Today was the day I tried running.

I have nothing other to say* than…

NO KNEE PAIN!

*Ok so that quite true.

It wasn’t a continuous run – it was part of some coaching training I’ve been doing. The PT work has massively paid off in terms of pace and body position/technique and my change in physio has paid off as there was no pain today! Nothing. I have held off texting my PT and Physio as its a Sunday but tomorrow I will.

It wasn’t easy on my chest though. Breathing was interesting and I have lost so much fitness!

Fingers cross I can get back on it – I have never been so excited to be able to get back to doing my least favourite sport (of the three triathlon disciplines!).

Given the nod!

It is no secret that I dislike* running, however, not being able to run is starting to bug me slightly as I have triathlons coming up and a half marathon in May.

I changed physio about a six weeks ago. I wish I’d done this sooner.

Turns out my initial suspicions were possibly right and that my knee cap was to blame. We think, or rather, my physio, thinks that my kneecap hasn’t been tracking right. My left side is definitely a lot weaker than my right – which my PT has picked up on too. I’ve been keeping up with my exercises and stretches and tonight I can definitely tell a difference from the first session.

Anyway. Babbling aside. Physio has given me the nod to try going for a run…

So sometime between now and Sunday I am going to attempt a short run and test out the knee. Fingers crossed!

 

*dislike verging on hate.

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!).

 

Fingers crossed – knee recovery!

Those who know me, know that I do not really like running – although I haven’t run since September – this isn’t so much through choice but through injury. Fingers crossed the end is in sight!

Just as a recap… in June 2019 I finally got round to having a fit done on my TT bike (my beautiful Ridley Phaeton T). This proved to be the straw that broke the camels back and a slight adjustment in my cleat position resulted in issues with my knee that had a knock on effect on my running and to an extent, on my cycling. I started going to see a local physio in the summer – but 5/6 months on – still no joy.

So what to do for the best.

My last appointment with this physio was booked for the beginning of January but cancelled due to illness. I had already spoken to a podiatrist and got some supports – which seem to help and I had a decent sports massage last week – I booked an appointment with a different physio, recommended by the lad I was seeing over Christmas.

Roll on tonight and my appointment. Straight away I feel like finally someone might have a bit more of an inclinking about what is going on with my knee. She asked me what my gut reaction was – I said, after some thought, that I think it had something to do with my knee cap not tracking properly and me being too tight.

A thorough interview/assessment – more thorough than the last one in terms of looking at my knees and comparing the good one to the not so good one – she thinks that it has a lot to do with just how tight my quads are! Easy to see why after tonights examination! Tight is an understatement too! I have two exercises to do to try and lengthen my quad muscles out a bit and strengthen my control – fingers crossed this will help.

I feel a bit more confident about this physio and more confident that I might actually get to the end of this ridiculous injury/issue and be able to run again without knee pain. Which, and I cannot believe I am saying this, would be nice.

Especially as I have races planned!

Maybe 2020 will be ok after all. Despite a less than great start!

Fingers crossed that running will be back on the cards, sooner rather than later!

I Spy

Most of my generation and older will be familiar with the I Spy books by Michelin (or rather now by Collins in association with Michelin) and if you are not familiar with the books, you should certainly be familiar with the game.

I have spent a LOT of time at triathlons and other various races, at which, hanging around can just be simply quite boring. There have been a few occasions when I have been with mates where I have mentioned that I should write my own I Spy book for others in a similar position but equally as an athlete racing – playing I Spy is pretty fun!

So, here it is. It is, as it stands, a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ and as much as I would LOVE to publish this as an actual book, I am not sure Collins would be too game for it. I may just email them any way to ask.

I Spy…..

Pre Race

  • Registration Tent – filled with hardy volunteers, mostly lovely and supportive – especially at Tri Club organised races. They understand!
  • Lost race licences and stressed athletes looking for said race licence (pre-race nerves).
  • Sleepy looking spouses and families who have been dragged along for the day.
  • Someone eating a banana/gel/breakfast.
  • The über-keen triathlete, rocking up with a full TT bike set up, with matching disc wheel for a super-sprint.
  • Lost safety pins. You can never have enough. Really!
  • The panic-strikened athlete who has forgotten *inserts important piece of kit* = panic-strikened athlete.
  • Discussion of race tactics – this is just a scare tactic…
  • Technical officials telling people to move their kit! Don’t try to mark your spot people! It’s just not on…. although that bright pink bar tape….
  • Race briefing – nod and turn up – usually a wise idea (like reading the race pack).
  • Maps of the race – because sign posting may be hazardous or you may want to just scare yourself about the elevation…. that you didn’t check before you raced.
  • LONG queues for the toilets – and possibly even someone sharing wet wipes – this happened at my last big race. He was a hero.
  • The athlete asking someone to help them into their wetsuit/zip it up. Common occurrence!
  • The athlete who has forgotten their body glide and asking if anyone has any lube to help them out!

Swim

  • Forgotten or lost googles. Take two pairs. This is sage advice.
  • The swimmers doing breast stroke – and feeling smug that your front crawl is OH SO GRACEFUL.
  • People swimming. Obviously.
  • Lost swim caps!!
  • Pontoons/deep water starts.
  • The swimmer who put a swim time down that was a bit too ambitious. We all know someone who will do this, claiming adrenaline will kick in on the day….
  • The swimmer who does extra laps in a pool based tri or swims a lot further than needed in OW. I know several who have done this!
  • A swimmer getting kicked. Inevitable, especially in open water. Rude people. Just rude – although some people see this as a sport in itself.
  • The swim being cancelled due to blue green algae or some other reason. Come on people – we are supposed to be hardy triathletes. Who wants to do a duathlon?
  • Swim cut short due to weather/other reason unfathomable to mankind – although at the inaugural (and only) Edinburgh 70.3 – I saw the sea and, well, yeah… wise move!
  • Swim buoys that cannot be seen. Without my glasses, I am NOT going to see that buoy around that far distant corner….
  • Kayakers – wise people. Usually lovely too. Major kudos to those supporting LONG swims.
  • A swimmer going the wrong way! (Bonus points if more than 3 swimmers are following) – watch the buoys people – I’ve seen this happen.
  • Flipflops littering the start line. Honestly do NOT understand why getting from T1 to the start isn’t given more thought in some races.

Transition  (T1)

  • Lost athletes. Walking transition before a race is a GOOD IDEA for a reason.
  • Athletes fiddling over watches – common in T2 as well. I’ve only just got the hang of mine.
  • Athletes who sit down to put on cycling shoes – again this is me. I am a very lazy triathlete.
  • The triathletes who have managed to master the art of keeping their shoes on their bike and put them on as they mount.
  • The technical official reminding people to put their helmets on before touching their bikes.
  • The athlete getting told off for mounting too soon.

Bike

  • A hybrid/mountain bike – especially in super/sprint triathlons – sometimes the sign of a novice/doing it for the sheer hell of it. It goes to prove that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the swankiest bike – I love seeing people getting involved.
  • An aero bike/TT bike – love the variety actually and the ‘oooooo that’s nice’ – I don’t get bike envy much any more but can appreciate a nice bike. It’s more amusing though in small local races when it might not be so serious that some people take it so seriously… if that makes sense.
  • Clip on TT bars – I’ve given mine away to a mate now I have a TT bike. I never really got on with them in terms of my position on the bike, but definitely useful and not to be sniffed at.
  • Trainers! Not every triathlete is there with cleats etc – does make for SPEEDY transitions though.
  • Drafting in a non-drafting race – just don’t. It isn’t a group ride.
  • Pointy helmets – you know what I mean! Aero/marginal gains! I will admit that I have been looking at new helmets…
  • Full kit w*nkers – I have nothing against this – I am just too tight to buy full club race kit. In all honesty though, in triathlon, it could just be a club trisuit… always good from a support point of view though as it makes athletes in your own club easier to spot and often volunteers and general supporter are far more likely to support in terms of ‘Go York!’ etc.
  • Lost water bottles. Easy done.
  • Gel wrappers strewn on the road side – actually against the rule – and littering is bad anyway – you managed to carrying this far, you can take it home!

Transition (T2)

  • A technical official or volunteer reminding someone to take their helmet off
  • Stretchy/Elastic laces – time saver in T2 if you are that keen.
  • Wetsuits strewn all over – it tends to still be reasonably tidy after T1…
  • Bikes racked wrong way.
  • Someone scoffing a gel or food before heading out to run.

Run

  • Run/walkers (this was me at my last race!) – nothing wrong with this at all.
  • Runners flinging themselves down the descents. This happens all the time anyway – free speed!
  • Walking runners until they see support or get near the finish line.
  • High-fiving support especially from small children.
  • Awesome support banners – way more common on the run – love them! The more insulting the better!
  • Someone handing out haribo/jelly sweets – yes we love you.
  • Amazing marshals who are dancing and enjoying it as much as you aren’t – there was one couple at Outlaw X this year on the back section of the run who were just incredible – I do not know how they kept it up.
  • ‘Only a parkrun left to go’ – yes I know – knowing doesn’t help!
  • Stretchy/elastic laces – mentioned again as they are just cool.

The end!

  • Hands up in the air in celebration of surviving – you all know what pose I mean!
  • The joyous support crew who finally think that they can go home – we all know that this is a big lie and that there is about to be lots of faffing and reviewing of said race.
  • Post race queue for a massage – thankfully I was so late/slow, the queue was minimal – I quite often skip them though.
  • Athletes who put on their race t-shirt on as soon as humanly possible, along side medal – yes you!.
  • Comparing results with friends/clubmates/rivals/enemies, and comparing to the nth degree.
  • Someone making excuses for times – everyone is usually guilty of this at some point. My run time at my last race was due to injury – but I was expecting a DNF.
  • Someone doubled up about to be sick – obviously raced hard and given it their all (me post XC or a CX race).

 

Other random things to look out for:

  • Bored spouses/children who have been brought along under duress with the promise/lure of food.
  • Varying degrees of race t-shirt bragging. Martyn Brunt wrote an article for Triathlon 220 on the subject of race t-shirt hierarchy.
  • Limping.
  • Athletes wondering around in Dryrobes or similar – they really are nice bits of kit post race!
  • A mass of VW Transporters in various colours. Definitely a popular mode of transport – I keep jokingly saying that if I had £5 for every one I saw/spotted on the road, I would be a well off woman. I stand by this, as my trip to the gym alone would have made me £20 tonight.
  • People consuming random looking concoctions post race.
  • Random things in post race goodie bags/pre-race goodie bags.
  • Random post-race prizes instead of a medal eg. A paperweight…..
  • Race branding on the most random of items (Ironman I am thinking of you!)

 

I am sure I have missed some bits off here to be quite honest, so I may add to it. This list has been in my head all summer – I jokingly said about adding bike brands are some are more rare than others (Ridleys are pretty thin on the ground in triathlon but in CX, common as muck!!) but then this would be a VERY long list.