Swim Love and Soul Food

It’s no secret that my biggest sporting love is swimming. It’s something I’m reasonably good at and have no qualms about going training – in fact, its one of the few things that can get me out of bed at 5.30 to go train. Lockdown was a bit rubbish in terms of 3 months of no swimming and what with swim events pencilled in, I was like a child at Christmas when I got back in a pool – despite OW swimming for several weeks in the run up to it!

Anyway, last few weeks I’ve been a bit, well, not so much in love with swim as normal. Don’t get me wrong, I have been loving training and being back but there has been a sense of something not being quite there – missing the challenge/goal – not sure, but that changed this morning.

Background first though because it has been an epic weekend overall… Three or four weeks ago, one of my also-keen-swimmer/triathlete mates asked if I was doing Coniston Epic Swim again. Five minutes later, ‘Yes!’. This then resulted in me texting another mate to see if he was in too. ‘Yep, count me in!’. This is what happens. Like a snowball. Accommodation was sorted. Work was sorted. All systems go.

Arrived in the Lakes, in Coniston to be precise, sometimes on Friday evening. Alcoholic beverages were consumed (much to my mates amusement and my lack of a proper tea….), cake was eaten and many laughs were had. Saturday arrived and with it the most glorious, sunny, hot day. I sat nursing a hangover while the others planned. Which then resulted in a walk up a very large hill in the sweltering heat but equalling in some good quality soul food and some stunning views!  ‘Pasta party’ tea and a wander down to the lakeside to check just how still the water water and how warm before nightcaps and finally bed – for which I was more than ready! Shattered but happy!

I slept right through to my alarm after yesterday’s efforts, not waking at 5 as per usual. Snooze. Reset alarm. Made myself get up and eat. I am not really a fan of porridge but it was quick and easy. I sat, very quietly and tried to eat. Coupled with some pre-race/event nerves… while the others milled about quite happily. The weather wasn’t a great (rain!) but considering we would be wet anyway, it didn’t really matter!

On to the swim though – Epic Events Coniston Swim – 3.8k of glorious OW Lake swimming. My swim time was at 8.30, a bit later than the others. We had decided best bet was to actually drive across to the start rather than walk – which turned out to be a very wise one. It was still mild despite spots of rain and slowly we got changed and headed to the start. We had separate waves, based on swim times so I was the last to wander down. ‘Covid-secure’ is now the buzz word for events and kudos where it’s due, Epic Events had done a good job with the organisation. Wandering over at the set time meant that we could stay spaced out easily and the briefing had been on Facebook, which we had actually watched, the night before. Swim cap and timing chip collected, flip-flops deposited – time to swim and nerves disappearing and the lake looking ever so inviting.

OMG – the water! For the Lakes – it was truly topical – 19 degrees. No need to acclimatise – and as still as a mill pond. It was better than expected and unlike anything I’d swam in up there before.

This is where the love came flowing back!

Lap 1 – First few buoys/straight seemed to take forever, the first lap even. Obviously turned out to be the fastest but still. I spent the first lap thinking, ‘well, this really is lovely but…’ and thoughts that went through my head included, ‘argh, I’m not going to find my mojo and I’ll get bored’/’I am so hungry (normal swim response)’/’how am I going to do three laps?’/’This is going to take forever’/’OWWWWW MY SUNBURN’ – Yep, epic sunburn on my shoulders.

Lap 2/3 – Mojo well and truly back. My longest swim recently had been 2.7km, the distance didn’t worry me so much this morning, I knew I could do it and was stubborn enough but by lap 2 and 3 I was on a roll. Still having the thoughts about wanting food, but my pace and stroke seemed to just flow and work. Thoughts now changed to food and what I was going to eat later and ‘oooo might actually beat last years time’ as well as ‘oooo the S&C work with Ben is really paying off!’

The warm water and stillness of the lake really was joyous. I was heading for the last corner of the swim course and I could feel that I was actually quite sad that it was finishing – but as I neared the finish line, a quick glance of my watch told me that I wasn’t far off beating my time from last year. I still felt quite strong as I neared the finish – and that felt the wave of disappointment wash over me… but then as I finished, got out, and wandered back to meet my mates, I was grinning from ear to ear. Nothing beats a good OW swim like that. Swim mojo and OW Swim mojo back firmly in place.

And confirmation that I can still swim a reasonable distance in a decent time.

Just as important though – plan was in place for bacon sandwiches for second breakfast.

In my eyes – everything this morning was just a winner.

Roll on Ullswater 3 mile!

Swim Shock!

It’s back!

Swimming is back!

The joys of COVID-19 has meant three months of no swimming. The last time I had a break from swimming was after a shoulder injury a few years ago – some time around back end of 2017 looking back of my statistics.

ANYWAY – last Sunday I donned my wetsuit and went for my first OW swim since September 2019 and my first swim since March 20th.

Now I will admit – I hate the first OW swim of the year, I hate the faff, putting on a wetsuit, the lack of wall to push off – though its just the shock of cooler water usually. Each year it usually gets a bit easier but after 3 months off I was a bit unsure about how poor my swim fitness would be.

Coupled with a good group of mates, we met up to swim at a lake a bit of a way off from home, at North Yorkshire Water Park. It wasn’t as bad as expected but driving in I could feel the usual first swim nerves – but actually this is no bad thing and a good reminder of some of the nerves/anxiety that new swimmers feel about OW.

1400m later, a chat and food – it felt good to be back.

I haven’t forgotten how to swim – and after today’s swim, I still have a bit of speed when I put the effort in.

Today’s swim was shorter – chopper (wind!) and done with no watch or tracking – which, in itself, was quite liberating. I swam alongside a mate who hasn’t swam regularly for a while, chatted with some mates and was reminded why I love swimming – and why its better with mates.

So I’m off back on Tuesday!

 

Lockdown Cycle Commuting

Lockdown has had an impact on everyone. Racing on hold, training sessions with friends on hold, life in general, somewhat on hold…. nothing new there really!

It has been a bit of a strange time – my own hectic life has slowed down massively, with some positive side effects!

I’ve turned back to some of my old hobbies – in particular sewing, and I’ve been indulging my love of history researching women cyclists from the mid-20th Century.

More impressively though (no I haven’t started running), I have been cycling to work as opposed to driving. I will admit that it has partly because the weather has been so good but even on the not so great days I’ve cycled in. I have barely driven my car in the last few months compared to normal. I am hoping that it will be a habit that sticks actually – although will change when I start tutoring face to face again.  Advantage is that it’s only an extra 10 minutes travel time as there are road works – one that I can cut through on a bike but have a 5/6 mile detour in the car and I get in some miles on the much neglected winter bike. Admittedly though, it does mean a bit more faff getting changed and risking rain but so far so good. My routine is even getting quicker in terms of having what I need for work packed and layering up on the bike – I’m managed to get it about right recently. A skill in itself. It has made me more paranoid about checking weather forecasts – which comes in handy when discussing the weather at work…. (customers – it happens a lot!).

The biggest benefit though I’ve found is how much more awake I am at the end of the day. This week is a prime example. Cycled in Monday (and came home the long way) and Tuesday and Tuesday was a really busy day at work – got home, full of energy. Wednesday drove, as I had to bring home quite a bit of stuff that I would never have got on the bike, got home, really tired! Rode in Friday – tailwind home, which was awesome, and not shattered. Some correlation I think, but I have always been more awake when I’ve got to work when I have done an early morning swim, so shouldn’t be surprising. Although I have found that it takes longer to get to work usually than to get home – it takes me ages for my legs to get going on a morning!

I completely get the attraction to commuting to work by bike at the moment – not so sure id be as keen in winter, with a lot less light. Even with quieter roads, there is some awful driving going on and I am seriously debating investing in a camera for the bike.

Anyway, my love of data and statistics is happy – when I upload rides – I can see my miles clocking up – by the end of this week, I will have cycled more in the last 6 months than I did in the whole of last year! Which makes up to an extent, the depressing sight of my swim stats!

Hopefully soon I shall be back in the water….

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.

…. hello Bike!

After waving swim temporally goodbye I have turned to my bike to fill the gaping hole where swim was.

I am missing swim a lot – to the point that I have, like many other swimmers if Facebook and Twitter are anything to go by, started looking at pools. I have resisted so far from parting with any money though!

With everything being in lockdown – I am home more which has some advantages. I am cycling more (it’s replaced swimming – lets not touch on running though) and travelling less – life in itself is less hectic.

Cycling more and quickly getting back some of that fitness means I am slowly starting to gain some definition in my quads again – sort off. After doing little over winter and not feeling motivated, I have managed to get back on it – I’m even enjoying turbo sessions and making the most of my Zwift subscription. When I’ve actually been out on the bike though, it’s made me miss riding with my mates, despite the fact that most of my riding is solo anyway. I enjoy cycling with mates more. More surprisingly is the fact that I am actually doing spin sessions at home – and enjoying them! Though I have no intentions of letting on how much to my mates. I think part of this is just routine. I’ve put off going and refused point blank all winter but this is partly due to the fact that Monday and Tuesday are my busiest days work wise. Although after all this, this may change and I may have to reassess my workload. The other bonus is, that a combination of following a plan, my mate’s spin sessions and cycling out, I have improved my FTP by 10 watts in three weeks. Apparently. I am a little skeptical about this but I think it just means that I am getting back some of my fitness – my FTP was considerably higher at the end of 2019!

I’ve also had time to read more and self study.  I’ve read and debated starting sewing again, however, I still need to keep things ticking along with the business and looking into that. Theres a few things I want to try but its making me a bit nervous and I’ll admit I’ve been putting it off – but a few Zoom catch ups (via quizzes and murder mystery games – seeing my face on video isnt quite so bad!).

Day to day though, I am still working the day job but being home more is actually quite nice and I am eating better/more regularly – just need to keep healthy and as fit as possible – I may even come out of lockdown bike fit at this rate.

I am very much looking forward to lockdown ending as the more I am at home, the more things I am adding to my bucket list and researching in to random trips…

Well, might as well live life to the full!

 

So Long Swim

A week ago as Friday, as suspected, was my last swim of the year for the foreseeable future. Anyone who reads my ramblings or happens to actually know me and STILL reads my ramblings, know that this is one of the hardest things I think I have had to give up – and clearly not through choice. I am missing it.

The closing of gyms and the temporary halt on training as we know it – was, I suppose, inevitable in light of recent events. I’m just going to have to suck it up and wait it out. It is what it is and in the greater scheme of things – it’s not the worst thing ever (although I am mighty glad I swam – I’m currently on 70km swam for the year). My bigger concern with the swimming is more that it really helps manage my stress levels and keeps me happy. I’ll just have to find some alternatives – although before anyone suggests it – running wont be the alternative to swim in terms of making me happy.

So what to instead? Well, I was debating getting some TRX but I’ve some resistance bands and some bits and pieces to keep me occupied, but I have noticed that I am paying more attention to the bike.

I swapped bikes on my turbo (no mean feat – it means messing with cassettes and wheels and shifting one bike from my bedroom to the garage and taking one back with me). My comfier summer bike is now on the turbo as opposed to my TT (and it’s not so great saddle). I can honestly say that the investment I made in a direct drive turbo several years ago is one I am now grateful for. At the time I wondered if I had done the right thing. Along with a subscription to Zwift – I should, I suppose, cycle more.

I could, and should, run – but with all my races cancelled or at least postponed until September at the earliest, I’m going to leave it a bit longer, focus on what S&C I can do at home and turbo it. Which reminds me, I need to speak to my PT about that.

So while we are on a lockdown of sorts, the bike will, no doubt, win out. I am already planning a trip north with a mate to take in the sights when we can. I would love to say that now have time to catch up on all the books I want to read and research I want to do but truth is, trying to sort out business and working 6 days a week, while trying to avoid catching this nasty virus is just tiring in itself.

So I am calling it quits for today – looking at screens for work, I’m off to ride my bike, read a bit and sleep.

For the working week to start again tomorrow.

 

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!

 

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!