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.

Feeling fitter

I am actually starting to feel genuinely fitter and less bloated than I have done for a while. I am not complaining but I think it’s worth considering why and how I am feeling fitter so that when I am feeling unfit I can go back and check!

My last post, I outlined some of the things I was planning on doing – and they appear to be helping/working.

Planning out my week ahead on a Sunday is helping – using Training Peaks alongside my diary. My focus at the moment is getting my run fitness back and developing my strength. So far so good. I am also trying to maintain my cycling fitness (though my endurance is probably a bit shot at the moment) and in terms of swim – I’m fairly happy with that as I am training with my friend and he’s training for an Ironman, he has also changed coach which has mixed things up so it’s all good.

Not putting the pressure on to do longer sessions but keeping things short and sweet as well as feeling the gains, has helped my feel fitter – and that in turn is motivation for keeping going on. I’m probably thinking more about my run sessions in particular and following a plan to an extent too.

I am also trying to cut down on sugar in my tea – I’m trying not eat two hours before bed and I am attempting to eat more ‘whole’ food/less processed food. Trying to eat better is helping, along with keeping well hydrated and trying to develop better sleep habits. Hopefully a combination of these will become more habit.

All the little things are helping I think – although might not be losing weight as such, I am definitely getting fitter! Even TP says so….

Timeless Monthly Planner

It appears that I may actually be training like the triathlete I occasionally claim to be. Wonders will never cease I suppose!

It’s taken a while but I seem to have some sort of routine in place. A change in focus at my PT sessions has really helped along with a few other things. Most of the PT stuff since end of lockdown to September had been geared towards the swim events I was doing – and I had a lot of fun over September doing said events, but my general consistency with everything else was dire. Roll on October….

For some reason, routine seems to have settled a bit, and a shift in training focus and some new found mojo/energy, I seem to be finding some sort of fitness again and seeing some improvements, with only small tweaks too – this in turn is improving my motivation to train. I wanted to record what has been different over the last three or four weeks so that when I have a wobble – which I will, I can revisit and figure out what I haven’t been doing out of the list and see if I can get back on track!

It’s big and it’s bold!
  1. My (Big) Timeless Monthly Planner – I am a sucker for pen and paper and a decent sized diary. I have a huge wall calendar in my office next to the computer which is also highly useful for mapping out my year! In this diary – which I have personally started from October (timeless – it comes blank with 15 months worth of space!) – is penciled in all my planned and booked races. They are actually in pencil too, in case things change!
  2. I have bitten the bullet and invested in Training Peaks – and because I am a geek when it comes to data and stats – I am loving it. I can ‘see’ my week and move things about, put details in about the session and track lots of pretty things and colours! It’s actually kept me some what motivated in terms of seeing my fitness/form/fatigue numbers alter and I am learning to understand them more. I am keeping details of run/swim/bike sets too so I can go back to them and keeping a note of other stuff too on there. It is partly a replacement in once respect to my usual ‘compendium’.
  3. I downloaded the HRV4Training app and paid for it. It feds directly into Training Peaks and as I have been using it for months – there is lots of data now that is actually useful and interesting – I can see proof almost of my improving fitness and can edit to view data stats relating to sport – it pulls across info from sessions from other apps to get a rounded picture. Like I said – I love data!
  4. Change in focus at PT sessions – and the guy I go see for PT too. So this is a combined thing. I started seeing him on the recommendation of a friend who is the least sporty person I know (long story short). Former PE teacher turned PT and a fellow triathlete – so bonus is, he knows what I need to get better from a triathlon point of view and equally – means lots of useful and interesting conversations about training/coaching etc – and its both ways too so never feel I am being preached at either – its always an interesting two way conversation. He had suggested some more HIIT based stuff but I kinda wanted to keep it to the weights and S&C stuff because I have really been enjoying it and reaping the benefits – not just strength (whoop to sumo squats with a 20kg dumbbell!) but my figure and general well being. This is massively motivating, HOWEVER….
  5. I have been suffering with epic DOMS from these sessions but I THINK, thanks to a mate, that I may have found the solution. He gave me a sample of DrinkAmino. Rather than taking whey protein supplements that didn’t seem to be actually helping, I tried one of these samples of amino acids – and rather than have 3 days of DOMS like the week before, I did my PT session and a spin session (that may have helped!) and woke up day after with hardly any DOMS, and I know I worked hard – I am a heavy sweater!
  6. Better understanding of hydration – and using it to my advantage. I have been using Precision Hydration tabs before heavy-ish workouts or post heavy workout as I sweat so much – less light-headness and quicker recovery seem to be the result. So replacing the salt seems sensible. After an online course and a seminar with PH – and from using their tabs – I seem to be in a better shape and able to handle more. Talking of supplements and other such things – I still sweat by Tailwind for running and cycling however, lack of serious endurance events this year – I haven’t used it so much.
  7. Back to Spin and coaching. One of my mates is back running spin classes virtually over Facebook – which means I’ve some routine and I don’t feel like I am training alone, even though essentially I kinda am. I used to not go in real life as it clashed with yoga and was at the end of an already long day. I am over the moon that they are back! Coupled with conversation with PT – shorter, more focused sessions over winter I think will work better for me, to fit around work and other commitments – as I am back coaching swim again! Yey!
  8. Training with friends – so this is an interesting one. I have been swimming with a mate for the last year or so – as it’s easier to commit to going if you are meeting someone – more accountable. What makes this interesting is that he’s just changed his coach and the style/method of coaching too – so a shake up there has lead to a shake up in swim sets – which has brought back some more swim mojo/focus. Not to diss the other sets – some of them I loved! But a different approach/style has definitely had an impact on me in that I feel a bit more motivated at the moment to swim a full set and put the effort in – post last swim event my effort level has been rubbish. Equally, I appear to have agreed to run a 5k with another mate in November and he is much quicker than me – so do need to work on the run fitness….
  9. Smaller goals – I have set a bit of a goal for my ‘A’ race next year but that is a long way off – part of the reason for the paper diary is to record in a quick to view way, short term goals/planning, make notes of what works. At the moment I am just trying to fit in a certain number of sessions – all fairly short but aiming for constancy – so at the moment, two bike sessions, two run sessions and three swim sessions, and either yoga or stretch. Can I keep up constancy and make it habit – especially the running (it appears/feels to be getting easier – by putting less pressure on myself – and just trusting the plan is helping).
  10. Actually feeling some improvement. This stems back to talking to my PT the other week – I’d had a really good session and had been feeling strong right throughout – even admitted that I was suddenly feeling stronger/fitter, and he had noticed too – a small boost that has had lasting impact. Feeling that you are actually improving after making a few small changes works wonders on outlook, attitude and motivation!
  11. Slowing down. I still have a ridiculous commute to work in terms of detours and due to COVID-19, my business is not quite as busy/running as it should – however, silver lining – I have slowed down a bit – some tutoring is online – saving me a lot of travelling time, and my one to ones in real life are now on the same evening – so depending on how things work out – being home more and saying no to a few things but doing more things that I enjoy – whizzing through paperwork in a more focused way – seems to be working out ok at the moment – basically I have figured out some sort of routine. Meditation is actually helping with this and just being more present. I probably could still do to be a bit more organised though!
  12. Recognising I needed a week off work – bit sorry to be heading back to the day job tomorrow.

Now to see how long this will last!

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!