Nothing gets done when your comfortable…

The whole idea all along was to use this as a way to motivate me to get through my first triathlon. Ironically, it was the writing I lost motivation with and the training that was the enjoyable part, maybe too enjoyable.

I completed my first sprint triathlon (750m swim, 24km bike and 5.5km run)non the 24th of September, and it was one of most rewarding things I thing I’ve ever done. The swim went a bit pear shaped due to foul smelling water and muck churning up with every stroke, I exited the water feeling dizzy and sick. The bike seemed to be by far the easiest part, and even the short sharp climb at the end of every lap was strangely enjoyable. The run was where things seemed to get hardest, the first half was hell, I had jelly legs and my feet felt like lead, then halfway through the run it suddenly became enjoyable again. Things didn’t seem as hard anymore and my feet were finally moving. As I crossed the line I instantly knew why people get addicted to triathlons. I loved every minute of it, even the painful jelly legged hills!

However the time taken to complete was longer then I would’ve hoped, which got me thinking about how I’d approached training. In hindsight, I think I was almost going through the motions, go swimming and swim one lap of the dam, ride the bike the same route and stop halfway round for food etc. I was getting slowly fitter and finding the training easier, but instead of increasing the distances or intensity, I think I was just taking that as being enough.

My theory was proved the week after the triathlon when I went to swim at the dam as usual, but this time one of the lads said “come on let’s do two laps”. No one drowned, no one collapsed through exhaustion, we just got on with it and did it. Lesson learnt, don’t stick in your comfort zone, nothing gets done when your comfortable!

so my attitude to training has now changed. Running is back in favour in a big way, but again, instead of going through the motions, it’s a heart rate zone based training plan designed to build endurance over the winter. It seemed ridiculous that you should slow down to get faster, until I got my first ever Srava CR/KOM on a horrendous hill (yes I am a segment chasing loser now) and now I’m sold on the idea.

My targets for next year are more triathlons, longer triathlons and a swimrun event.

No more going through the motions.

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Just keep at it…

Tuesday was running and swimming night, and as I stepped into the water I knew I was not going to be swimming at all that evening.

This water was not ideal for swimming, mainly because the water I was standing in was the flooded corridor of the business centre we work from occasionally. Some delightful individual had emptied their hot tub directly through the decking backing on to the offices, and a tidal wave of  hot tub water/scum poured through the upper corridor fire escape and into the offices below. The clean up operation included the knocking back of a few cans of ice cold Coors light, at least it did for the guys not planning a back up run as soon as they got home! It was short, it was tough, but at least the day was not wasted.

The swim was made up on the next night with the usual 720m lap of the lake, with a couple of hundred meters added on the end to try to build stamina. As we bobbed in the water after completing our loop, we got talking to another swimmer, who asked how many loops we had done, erm one mate, and I’m happy to be alive! He then went on to tell us he’d done six loops, well over 4000 meters. I spent the next few minutes explaining how I’m always knackered after 100 meters in the hope he would give me a pearl of wisdom to miraculously solve my swimming dilemma. His advice, the same (sound) advice every other swimmer gives me, just keep at it.

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The next session was of a different variety, a rare night out with the lads, resulting in a pounding head the next day and an unsympathetic training partner dragging me out for a swim/run session. I sat on the bank staring out at the water, grabbing any extra minute I could before having to wrestle my wetsuit on. I put on a brave “I’m enjoying this, honest” face on for the walkers as they stopped to watch what the two rubber  clad loonies were doing and headed after my mate. I’m sure he could sense weakness as he upped the pace and it took everything to keep with him. A snap decision was made……he’s getting it on the run.

wetsuits off, trainers on, we packed our gear up into our rucksacks and off we went. Two laps of the lake  and then off in the opposite direction of  the car to do a long loop down the decent to the car park at the bottom of the path. A comment along the lines of “rather you than me” by the afore mentioned walkers as we passed them for the final time and off we went. I was picking up the pace a bit now and as we got to the path marker to turn down the hill, the panting and groaning was getting louder and louder, but he never  slowed up! We descended down the hill to some of the most amazing views, including the food serving pub getting closer and closer. Swim done, run done, hangover done!

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An early start Sunday for the ride, as six of us headed out on a 36 miler. I’d been waiting for this all week after missing last weeks, but now it was here I had full on jelly legs, typical. We set of out on the regular route at what felt like a good pace and were at the halfway point in no time. A brew and a bite to eat while an old boy admired one of the lads full carbon Planet X and we were off again.

The pace notched up on the return leg and I struggled to keep up with the fast lads, using the downhills to catch up the huge gaps they opened on the climbs, and by the time I reached the top of the final climb to home I was finished. I felt disappointed that I must have been so much slower then usual, until I opened strava and saw id hit 43 PB’s (I’m not normally a strava obsessive but I needed the mental boost). Pushing to keep up with more experienced riders had driven me to be faster even when I felt like I had nothing in the tank.

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I’m now becoming confident the run and bike legs will be absolutely fine, I will make sure I train enough so it’s not in question. But with 8 weeks to go the swimming needs to gel soon, or it’s going to be the longest 750 meter swim time in history.

All I can do is just keep at it….

 

There is no I in team………literally!

As the messages pinged backwards and forwards between the group, arranging the regular Sunday morning ride, I turned my phone on silent and moped off to bed. Typically, on the only Sunday i couldn’t make it, there was about seven people heading out and it was looking like it was going to be a good long ride. I now believe in Karma, for all the grief I give people for missing rides, I was now the team let down!

I had promised my partner i would stay home with the kids while she and her mum went to a local car boot sale, and in turn my 3 year old daughter had asked if we could go to the park so she could practice riding her bike. My frustration at missing my ride soon disappeared as we set of on the bike and after only ever riding it once before, she was quickly peddling off with me in pursuit. Looks like i was going to get a workout after all!

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The little terror

When we returned from the park, and with only an evening swim left to do that day, i decided to fill out my training diary for the week. This is something i have been using to monitor distance and time during my training to allow me to steadily increase my sessions as i progress. Looking back over the last two weeks i noticed that for various reasons i had only run once, a total distance of 4.5 miles! As running has always been my primary activity of the three disciplines, i believe i have now been neglecting it in favour of more time in the pool, lake or saddle.

I think it can be easy to obsess over a certain aspect of your training if you are seeing more improvement than the others, however i need to be careful not to be complacent with the rest of my training. I seem to be becoming obsessed with spending as much time as possible swimming in open water and not enough putting one foot in front of the other racking up the miles.

My running buddy mark was luckily on hand and we set off out on a new route from my house, climbing steeply for the first mile before a gradual decent into the valley. The sun was out and it was a warm day, which suited me fine as we neared the point where we turned back on ourselves and onto the shaded canal. We pushed on along the flat canal before coming to the final mile, another lung busting climb all the way home to finish off the six miles. My daughter was in the window waiting and rushed out to give me a hug, until she saw the sweat dripping off me and ran away shouting “errrr”. A good, enjoyable run was just the kick up the arse i needed to pull my finger out and get my running back on track.

Last training of the week was open water swimming with the lads. The weather was miserable and foggy as we headed into the lake for a 700m loop but the water was still warm from the recent sunshine. We stuck together for the first 300m until it comes to a point where you have to go straight across the middle for around 240m, at this point one of the lads headed back, while me and Sean swam across before looping back to finish. As we got back to the bank and stripped off our wetsuits, an old boy was returning from a spot of skinny dipping (not uncommon in the dam) which signaled time for us to leave!

The swimming is still tough going, with pauses for breath still between 100-150 meters, but its definitely getting easier and I no longer feel daunted by open water!

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Poor visibility for the swim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a new week begins I am determined to stick to my planned schedule and balance out the the training between swimming, cycling and running. Family life will always throw the schedule out, but i can deal with that and just make sure i complete the miles before the end of the week. The support im getting from the family during this new adventure is amazing, even walking up huge hills to watch me swim on a friday night and not laughing (too much) when im squeezing into lycra, so the least i can do is make sure im around when im needed!

Not sure what I’m letting myself in for……..

As a runner, average mountain biker and massively below average swimmer, I’m not sure signing up for my first triathlon was my cleverest idea to date.

Triathlon has always been something I admired from a distance, maintaining the usual “I could never do that” attitude. However, the niggling feeling of wanting to get involved just wouldn’t go away. In April 2016 I signed up for my first sprint distance triathlon. I had six months to train for a 750m open water swim,  a 26 kilometre bike ride and a  5.5 kilometre run. Now I’m fully aware that this kind of distance is easy to a lot of people, but at the point of entering I hadn’t swum a length in 18 years and had never ridden a road bike in my life. So I enlisted back up. I signed up two guys from work that had expressed an interest. If I’m going to look like a tit, at least we will all look like tits together!

The running was already in hand, running two nights a week with my running  buddy Mark (who due to my nagging has also just signed up to run his first half marathon at the Great North Run). I’ve always run on and off for as long as I can remember, but having a  running buddy has seen me enter more and more events such as 10k runs, half marathons and even obstacle course racing. As  the Great North Run is two weeks before my first triathlon,  there is a good chance this will be mentioned multiple times again!

This is where the unfamiliar territory starts, road cycling. I’ve always mocked Lycra wearing “roadies” and preferred riding my beloved Lapierre Zesty mountain bike round the trails of gisburn and lee quarry. However if I was going to give it a go I needed a road bike. I looked at new bikes in halfords and all terrain cycles but they were either crap or far too much money, so after looking and bidding for a while I bought a 2013 Cube Peleton for £380! Thrown into the bargain was pretty much everything I would need, including a turbo trainer!!

The first  session out on the bike was supposed to be a steady ride through the valley to get used to the thing, but ended up being a slog up Cragg Vale, a notorious climb used in the Tour de France when it passed through Yorkshire. I was quite pleased with how quickly I got up considering it was my first ride ever (35 mins). The “group” ride is now every Wednesday (25m of hills) and Sunday (40m) including three of us  that are doing the triathlon and one piss taking southerner, who loves to push his bike uphill and crash his bike downhill, thrown in for good measure.

Ok, now we are getting into deep water, literally. I’ve always assumed that I was a strong swimmer, confident enough to  stupidly sign up for a half mile swim anyway.  However,  when I started my swim training  I realised how far off I really was. I started swimming with a friend  twice a week but couldn’t manage any more then a length without stopping. I couldn’t breath, how could it be so hard!? I started looking into lessons at the local pools but didn’t like the idea of people I know seeing me learning how to swim, especially when I had a misguided opinion that I could already  swim!!

I signed up to a term of lessons at a private swim school an hours drive from my house. Every Sunday I would do a two hour round trip to swim for 30 minutes in a cold pool,  where 15 minutes in all the parents of the kids attending the next lesson would join and watch me splashing about trying to learn to swim. In the first six weeks of my lessons  I felt little improvement,  often coming away feeling down and pessimistic  about what lay ahead. On week seven everything  seemed to click, the countless lengths of stopping and starting,  practicing bilateral breathing, all seemed to fall into place. By the time I finished my final lesson with the  swim school  I was swimming six sets of 100m at a time without stopping for any long pauses, and my technique felt ten times stronger. I would recommend getting swim coaching to anyone worried about their swimming.

Two weeks after my final swim lesson, and only one week prior to this post, I attempted my first open water swim. Holy shit. It was foggy, cold and scary. I pretty much breast stroked the whole way round, attempting to do from crawl when I could, but whenever my face entered the water it felt like ice cubes on my face and halted my breathing. We struggled, but we got round the 700m loop, and three days later returned as temperatures soared to 30 degrees for a second attempt, then a third two days after that. I’m glad to say it’s getting easier each visit and I’m actually enjoying it  the most at the minute, although I’m still pausing every 100-150 meters to catch my breath.

And that’s where I’m at right now, still no where near but loving the training. After reading Can’t Swim, Can’t Run, Can’t Ride by Andy Holgate (great book) I remembered the suggestion that blogging will keep you training as it feels like people  are watching, so here goes…..