Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Tri-ing to catch a break

Its been a while since I last blogged, and the last you heard I was having a moan about my foot not being in good condition. Well I'm glad to say that cleared up and I was able to train on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That's not to say that the training went particularly well.

Friday was a bit of a shock to the system ... I got into the pool and wasn't comfortable at all. A 300m warm-up followed by a 750metre 'go' at the race distance. The time? A disappointing 19 minutes. Not good, considering that in open water that'll be slower. I followed that up with another 350m warm-down but I wasn't happy, not happy in the least.

Saturday added to the woe. I had little time on the spinner, and as it turned out little energy (I did my workout on Friday in the late evening and did my spinner workout early Saturday morning - early by my standards i.e. 8am - which is when the gym opens - but considering that we went to pick up my sister in law from the airport on Friday night and got to bed at 2:30am, it was early). I managed 35 minutes, at a struggle ... granted it was on a high gear and all that but still ... I once again wasn't happy. The race was then 10 weeks away and that just wasn't good enough.

There were however two things that cheered me up on Saturday - I finally picked up my wetsuit (at long last) and we spent the afternoon watching 7s rugby at Twickenham, which was a blast.

Sunday arrived and the splendid weather meant I was in a good mood going into my first session with my swim coach. The session didn't start off in the best of ways ... we got mixed up with the timing of the session so instead of starting at 10:30 (which I had arrived 10 minutes late for anyways - shame on me) the session actually started at 11:30. In the meantime, once I was suited, I did a 4oom warm-up, followed by 2 2oom sets. Only then did the coach turn up for our session. He critiqued my technique (I never knew there was such a nice way of saying "your swim technique is rubbish") and put me through some paces. After which he brought out the paddles and we ended up doing about another 1km or so (possibly a bit more) together with technique and breathing being the focus. I enjoyed the session thoroughly and could literally feel the improvement. By the end of it I had a slight tan, very tired arms and an almighty rash on my neck from the wetsuit (occupational hazards).

I got home and washed it down to find that the seam on the neck had split!!! I'd barely owned the damn thing for 24 hours!!!!! (I'm now posting it back to the retailer I got it from who were very nice (and quite shocked) when I told them what happened). And that was the sugnal that the 'fun' of my long weekend was to end.

We went for dinner to Clare's sister, spent a wonderful relaxed afternoon there and on the way back (and this had nothing to do with the food, the food was great) my stomach decided it hadn't played up in a while and that therefore it would. I spent the whole night tossing and turning in pain, unable to take deep breaths, unable to find a comfortable position and above all unable to sleep. At 4am I managed to doze off (after 5 hours of tossing and turning). Monday was a Bank holiday and to my mind an excellent chance to put in a training session ... but my stomach thought differently, the pain continued (and continues still, though much less). I think its a case of IBS ... yes I know, I seem to have an injury/illness log from hell, I'm perfectly aware of that. Basically no training yesterday, no training today (I would tonight but we have tickets to the theatre) and another week's training scheduled buggered royally. AND THE RACE IS ONLY 9.5 WEEKS AWAY!! I'm starting to panic. I'm hoping and praying I'll be in a position to train properly tomorrow morning. Pretty please with a cherry on top!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Recovery (the Second)

As I told you all last week I didn't much enjoy the driving on Saturday, and my foot enjoyed it even less. Add brick sessions on a Sunday and footy on Monday and we were back to square one with the pain. It was frustrating, annoying and many other words I'd rather not grace this blog with. Once again Monday nigt went by, no workout, though the kittens are absolutely fantabulous. For more info visit my wife's blog (go to www.accidentallykle.com - apologies for it not being a link but my wife ain't around to remind me how to do it). Tuesday morning was excruciatingly painful, every step felt like someone was stabbing me in the foot, so lots of 'Deep Heat' equivalent, some care and attention and another day of rest meant that I woke up feeling better this morning. There is still niggling pain but it is much much less than it was. So after what can only be described as a mind-numbingly boring day at work (I wasn't busy so time tends to drag) I headed home early (5:30 is really as close to a half day as you can jokingly get and officially the earliest I've been out of the office for no reason apart from the fact that I just wasn't busy in over a year), spent some time with the kittens and then got on me bike. I'm a bit more confident and a bit more adventurous. There's a small road close by to our development that leads to a small carpark so I've included that road and the carpark in my little circuits. I'm even trying to signal when I turn (in preparation for having to actually do it on the road) - its wobbly but its happening. Its a bit frustrating being so c$*p on a bike because I really want to be out on the road racking up the miles, doing the hills etc., but if I do do that at the moment the risk of me killing myself and causing a serious car accident injuring others is quite high. So for my safety and that of the motorists/pedestrians in my area, I'll gain a bit more confidence and skill before I do venture out on the road. I plan to head to a running track surrounding the lake where I swim with the bike over the weekend and getting a few miles under my belt without cars around.

The pent up frustration was excellent motivation to head to the gym and that I did. Back on the spinning bike to get the bike feel for 50 minutes in total. 5 minute warm-up, 4 10 minute sets comprising a 5 minute 'flat' on a fairly hard gear and then a 3 minute 'uphill' (for those of you who read this regularly its my equivalent of being out of the saddle pushing fairly hard at high(ish) resistance - since I haven't been out on a bike I don't really know what a hill will feel like) and 2 minute recovery. All this was followed by a 5 minute cool-down and a nice long stretch.

For the first time I tried one of the SIS Go Gels during the cycle. I can't say that I felt much of a difference though it probably did help. The most important thing is for me to get more comfortable with consuming these things ... they're not easy to feed on one-handed, and the fact that they didn't (or at least haven't yet) upset my stomach or give me a stitch etc.

On further news ... I today received my UNICEF fundraising package which also contains the T-Shirt I'll be wearing over my Tri-Suit during the race. I know it'll take time to put on in transition and all that but I am going to be participating for a cause and I want that to be very clear, so come race day, I WILL be wearin my UNICEF t-shirt for the bike ride and the run - the cause and the children more than deserve the extra few seconds its going to take to put that T-shirt on.

I hope and pray that my foot doesn't react badly to the training this evening and that I wake up better. I've strayed from my programme long enough, its time to get back on track and I need my foot to co-operate!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A wibble and a wobble

I really can't help it ... every time I look at the bike it brings a smile to my face. My riding s another matter however. There is no way I am going out on busy roads at present, so my riding today has been limited to short spins in the private roads of our development, so its a short ride and i'm trying to do figures of 8 so that I can get used to cornering as well. I'm getting better at it slowly and the confidence is returning but I'm still pretty rigid on the bike. I've contacted a 'coach' to inspire enough confidence in my riding to get me out on the road. We'll see how that develops.

In the meantime I went back to the gym and did some brick sets. I'm finally able to get back to running on the treadmill so I took advantage of that. I did 3 brick sets in total, 10 minutes of bike followed by 7 minutes of treadmill. I was quite happy with the runs 7 minutes at 9.5kmph for the first set, 10.5kmph for the second set and 11kmph for the third set.

I'll be getting back on the treadmill tomorrow and getting back to my standard routine. I'm looking forward to the structure again and hope to remain injury free. The run was fairly pain free though the foot is a bit sore now. It should be ok tomorrow morning (if its not, I'll switch to a cycle instead).

In other news, we get kittens tomorrow :) looking forward to the 2 little ones :) should be fun :) we went on a kitty shopping spree this afternoon (litter, kitty bed, scratching post, toys, kitty food ... the works). Everyone at the pet shop was looking at us like we were nuts. Clare goes to pick them up tomorrow afternoon so I need to work out in the morning coz I doubt I'll be able to get away in the evening :) oh well :).

Saturday, 16 May 2009

There it is ... haven't decided whether its a 'he' or a 'she'. On the basis of riding a 'he' or a 'she' my personal preference is that the bike be a 'she'. Will come up with a suitable name when I've had more time to think about it.

Its been an interesting day which kicked off with a haircut and continued with my first ever open water swim in a lake. I frikkin froze to death in that bloomin lake. The wetsuit I borrowed was a bit big so water kept coming in with every stroke ... it literally took my breath away and I found it much more difficult to breathe deeply and to find any sort of rhythm. Anyways, that'll have to improve (and it will) ... I'm back in the lake next Sunday.

After lunch I headed off to Halfords (those of you outside the UK will have no idea) to buy my bike rack. With the bike rack installed I headed to pick up my bike and the wetsuit. The bike was ready ... sadly, the wetsuit not (I'm not too pleased but there's nothing I can do about it ... I've already paid for it). I had a bit of a go on the bike and managed to keep my balance somewhat ... it was fairly funny actually ... I need some serious practice (all in good time).

Just to add a wonderful twist to the tale once I had had my go on the bike and went to rack it on my new bike rack hanging off the back of my car I realised that the bike didn't fit on the blooming rack. The frame of my bike is too narrow for the rack so I had to remove the front wheel and stow it in the back seat. So i drove back to return the rack and headed off to pick up Clare from the airport.

As if that wasn't enough, all the driving has brought back the pain in my foot ... lovely ... that's enough driving for me for a while and its back to a bit more rehab for me.

Really looking forward to taking the bike out for a spin ... at present in a fairly empty car park so that I can gain more confidence before going out on the road. That'll be an extra 'chore' every week to make sure that come race day I'm ready and confident to ride.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Rest and Recovery

My last workout was Wednesday, which is not really the plan but my foot was hurting and some rest was due in order to help me recover. And recovering I have been, the pain has gone down loads. I can still feel the foot fairly sore but the time had come to get back on the saddle and start biking again. So I've done by 47 mins of spinning today.

And because its been a while since I worked out and te foot felt fairly ok, I decided to beast it a bit.
After a 2 minute spin tester it was 9 sets of 5 minutes which included 3 minutes out of the saddle (uphill is the way I picture it in my head) and 2 minutes back in the saddle recovering but not spinning (so still some resistance). It was a hard one but it felt very satisfying once I'd finished.

On to some exciting news ...

1. I'm picking up my bike and my wetsuit tomorrow!!! Its exciting and nerve wracking at the same time ... I haven't been on a bike in over a decade so its going to be interesting.

2. I'm meeting up with a swimming coach tomorrow morning at a lake close by my house ... I need to have an induction first to be allowed to swim in the lake after which hopefully I'll be getting some 1 on 1 swim coaching.

I'll update you on how that goes.

Thanks for the help and advice on the injury ... much appreciated!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

If my body is a temple ...

... then I'm an atheist.

I thought this up yesterday as I limped home from the gym after what I can still describe as a work-out but with a small, but nevertheless present, side order of pain.

Heading home, pressing gingerly on the gas pedal because it hurt to do so I just started thinking about the crap I make myself put up with.

These are a couple of cases in point ...

1. As you know from my previous blog I managed to injure myself in the most bizarre, inane and frustrating way possible last Sunday. It hurts to step off my right foot (which doesn't help considering I have to walk to the station and then walk to the office once I get off the train, though I am taking the bus at the moment). So in all the wisdom bestowed upon my increasingly balding head (it doesn't show that much but it is happening) on Monday I rocked up to work and still played the 5-a-side football game. I have no idea whether I did myself any further damage but I'm guessing I probably did. The adrenaline got me through the game without major incidents, but again, not the brightest idea. Similarly, yesterday's 45 minute spinning ride may not have been the result of divine inspiration. Granted it hurt a hell of a lot less than walking, but it still hurt (though I must admit this morning it did feel a bit better). So the jury's still out on the cycling (knowing me I'll be doing more of it until I can get back to running), but footy was definitely not my brightest moment.

2. I met my wife and a friend of ours for lunch yesterday. Now as a budding athlete and with a workout planned for the evening you would have thought that common sense dictated I would fuel up appropriately and NOT eat the burger and chips that I did end up eating (in fairness it was top notch meat at gourmet burger kitchen - but that's not the point). I complain about not losing enough weight from the training and I go and have a burger for lunch ... wth is that? (Compare that to today where I had a grilled chicken wholemeal baguette for lunch and you can easily see the difference). I don't feel sluggish now, yet I was bloated and tired and generally narked when I hit the gym yesterday evening.

A football coach here in the UK (when commenting about the stupidity of professional football players getting drunk the nights after games) was quoted saying "You don't stick diesel in a ferrari". While I don't profess to be a ferrari a similar analogy could and should apply. If you want your engine to run smoothly and get as many miles to the gallon as possible you don't chuck junky, cheap and dirty fuel at your car (metaphorically of course ... for those who are novel to the car refuelling process, this is NOT the correct procedure).

So things have to change ... I'm not going to turn over a new leaf and start afresh eating completely healthy, that would be an unrealistic goal for me (the caveman in me still screams loud and clear "YOU MAN, YOU MUST EAT MEAT" ... and I do enjoy listening to him) ... but at least I'm going to watch what I eat (and by that I don't mean look at the ice cream and cakes while scoffing them down) and try and be sensible about things. A burger and chips is just not a good idea except maybe as a very occasional treat.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Sod's law

Just when things were going well ... and yes, notwithstanding my moans about my swimming, they were going well ... an injury occurs, in the most bizarre of circumstances.

As I posted yesterday we drove to Reading for Clare's horseriding day. About one hour and fifteen minutes into the drive I got a sharp pain around the joint between the leg and the foot. It feels like muscular pain and it hurt to press the gas.

I didn't think much of it. It hurt and I got on with it. But it didn't hurt majorly. I went for my swim and went about my training. This morning the picture was somewhat different. Every step of my right foot hurts ... I (possibly stupidly) played the football game anyways ... adrenaline kicked in and I didn't feel much. It only hurts with specific movements but when it does it hurts like a b*&$h. This evening I've rubbed in muscle gel into the lower leg and decided to give my run a miss. I'll make up the workout on the rest day or double a workout on another day.

I'm really really miffed. Properly miffed, because I don't want to have to stop.

I've lined up a swim coach meet on Saturday to start working on technique properly and all I want is to stick to my schedule. I know I don't need to follow the schedule to the letter but I still want to as much as possible.

Bugger, bugger, bugger.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

1 of 72

The first workout of my 12 week plan has come and gone, though not necessarily in the manner I intended it.

For Valentine's day I bought Clare a day out horse riding, which Clare duly booked and which we headed to this morning. It was a 2 hour drive away. We got up at 7 (an unholy hour on a Sunday) and headed to the outskirts of Reading. Clare had a fantastic time. The experience ended at 4pm and we started to head home. The gym closes at 8 so considering the fact that there was a hell of a lot of traffic I was worried I wouldn't have made it in time for my swim. As a matter of fact I did make it time, if a bit flustered.

The workout was focused on technique this time and I was only due a 1000m swim. My primary priority was stroke length and the number of strokes per length. By lengthening my stroke (reaching forward at the beginning of each stroke and letting myself 'flow') I brought the number of strokes per length down to 29-31. It wasn't easy and it wasn't comfortable, therefore it was disappointing. Lengthening each stroke felt a lot harder work than my usual 'less efficient' strokes. After a 250m warm-up the main body of my workout consisted of 7 sets of 100m. The first length of each set was unfailingly 28-29 strokes long. By the fourth length my arms were feeling heavy (which was surprising, disappointing ... and many further adjectives to that effect) and the stroke number degenerated to 31-32.

700m done and a 150 metre warm-up punctuated by alternate breathing exercises ... again, uncomfortable and punctuated by a certain amount of water swallowing and spluttering.

in summary, 1.1k in total, but a bit of demoralisation. This session has absolutely convinced me that I need some swimming coaching. I pick up my wetsuit next saturday and I've found some open water technique coaching sessions about 45 mins drive away. They're on Saturday morning at an ungodly 7am so I'll need to be up and out of the house by 6am but a couple of sessions should well be worth the sacrifice. In the meantime, I'll stick at my swimming sessions and try to keep lengthening my stroke, developing more power, and breathing on both sides. It'll make the swim sessions more arduous, but noone said this was supposed to be easy.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Building Bricks

The original title for this post was actually supposed to be 'Laying Bricks' but the alternative connotation of the phrase is not exactly what I was looking for, so Building Bricks it is ... and today, 3 bricks were built. I have read that a 'Brick' session is basically a training session including two or more sports, most typically (and because it is the easiest transition to make) between the Bike and the Run legs of a triathlon.

So rather than take it easy, as I said I might do on my previous post and because it had been a while since my last run, I decided to do some 'Brick' sessions.

The format was the following

10 mins spinner (yes, I know I mention it often) - done in sets of 2 mins flat with a cadence of 90-95 rpm and then 1 minute out of the saddle with a cadence of 60-70 rpm (which means 3 sets and then one minute of 'recovery' in the saddle. Once that was done I quickly hopped off the spinner, hopped on to a treadmill and legged it for 1km at 10.5 kmph. Brick 1 done.

Once the 1km was done I hopped off the treadmill, jogged back to the spinning room got on the bike again and did another 10 minutes. Once again, back onto the treadmill for 1.1km at 10.4 kmph.

The third 'brick' was somewhat longer ... again, 10 minutes bike, doing the same sets but I went for 2.1kms on the treadmill thereafter (at 10.5 kmph).

30 minutes of bike and 4.2 km on the treadmill in total. Its instilled a bit more confidence in my ability to complete the Sprint Tri and do it fairly well. I've been panicking recently because I haven't yet started actually riding a bike. That's now my primary concern (actually getting on a bike and keeping my balance and riding well i.e. not killing myself on the roads and not breaking the bike itself). If I don't develop confidence in my riding my time goals/estimates will be completely useless.

When I got home my wife Clare was planning to go for her walk (usually a brisk 4.5km walk around our area), so I decided to join her and add another couple of miles on the legs.

Its been a good week of intense training, bring on many many more.

A touch sore

The end of the working week approached and I looked to end it on a 'workout high'. I got up early (though not as early as I was supposed to) and got myself to the gym for another spinning session. Mission completed as I did 11 sets of 'flat terrain' for 2 minutes followed by a 1-1.5 minute 'climb'. I can feel my legs getting stronger for it and it feels like a much more balanced workout than the normal exercise bikes. The only down side is that I have no idea of distance really. But bearing in mind that I pick up my bike a week from today I reckon I need to get used to the more bikey feel.

IN addition to the morning workout we had a 5-a-side football game scheduled yesterday at lunchtime. The game was good, I scheduled a friendly for our team against members of the firm's 11-a-side team so that we could better prepare for the league game next monday. I must admit, my back side hurts like crazy. I'm bruised and sore, my knees aren't too happy and I'm fairly tired ... but it feels frikkin fantastic. Playing goalkeeper in a 5-a-side game requires a lot of spring a lot of bouncing around, alot of bounding on your side so the bruises are present and have reported for duty. The fitness aspect is very different ... not hugely present because there isn't much running, its a lot more anaerobic and all about reflex actions and springy muscle action. Some of those muscles I don't use that often and it shows, but that's not going to stop me from getting to the gym later today.

It'll be an easy session today - tomorrow we start the 12 week programme - the race is 12 weeks away!!!!!!!!!!!

So for your delectation here is the workout plan for next week (Sunday to Saturday):

Sunday - swim (30-40 minutes) - 200m warm-up, 100m sets (6 or 7 of them) and then a 150m cool-down - technique will be the focus - I need to get the stroke rate down and will give the breathing on each side a go.

Monday - run (30 minutes) - nothing too intense because there'll be a football game at lunchtime so its an extra bit of exercise thrown into the mix

Tuesday - bike (45 minutes) - again, just making sure that we get the rhythm right and do some intervals with hilly section

Wednesday - swim (30-45 minutes) - after a good warm-up this time I'll be going for a bit of distance but again, technique not speed.

Thursday - rest day - what should be the only break of the week.

Friday - brick session - a 30-45 minute bike ride followed by a 10 minute run.

Saturday - long run - 45 minute run taking it nice and easy

Bear in mind it is week 1 of a 12 week session so its not as intense as it may need to be but we'll be upping the intensity in further weeks.

feel free to comment on the training etc.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Need for speed

Apparently, one of the fundamentals that I need to be concentrating on is shorter distances and higher speeds so that I can up the ante and reduce the time of my run, which up untl today stood at a woeful 34 minutes for the 5k. With that in mind I trotted over to the gym this evening (I did try to wake up on time this morning but my legs simply refused to co-operate ... so I pressed the snooze button and hit the sack again for another hour) intending to run a 5k at a 'decent' pace allowing me to run a 30 minute 5k. I set the treadmill at 10kmph and headed off, 6 minutes and 1km into the run I decided to up the ante just a tad and upped the speed by 0.1, at the second kilometre the speed went up to 10.2 and so on and so forth, so that by the 5th and last kilometre I was running at 10.4kmph. I just about made it, the last 800metre were hard but I persevered and stuck it out. The result? 5k in 29.36 - I'm happy with the time but realistically speaking I won't (at this stage) manage that pace in the race after all the previous efforts, so I'm going to have to work much harder on my running. By race day a 5k at a 10.5kmph pace should feel like a walk in the park.

After the 5k (and since there was still about 15 minutes of the Chelsea vs Barcelona game left and I don't have Sky Sports at home) I decided to stay on at the gym, jump on a spinning bike and do 10 minutes of spinning (4 of which were up off the bike seat and doing the spinning equivalent of an incline). Just as got off the spinning bike Andres Iniesta scored and with that goal, entertaining football got through to the Champions league final. I hung around just enough to watch Michael Ballack make a complete fool of himself in what can be generously described as an emotional protest or alternatively a prolonged, very public, spoilt brat strop.

The two best teams in Europe will now meet in the final in what will hopefully be a spectacle of football ... talking of football spectacles, FIGO (not the player, but rather my work 5-a-side team) have a friendly on Friday, should be fun. No workout tomorrow (no time) early b'fast meeting and drinks in the evening means I can't fit a workout tomorrow morning or evening. After today the break will do me good (or that's what I tell myself).

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tri-ing for UNICEF

I've always known that I'm not doing this just for myself. Though there are selfish goals behind chosing to do the Triathlon, namely getting healthier, I've always wanted to do this for charity as well. I've never done this sort of thing before (i.e. doing an endurance event for charity) and what I've been agonising over is what charity to 'swim/bike/run' for. There are obviously, and I think this applies to everyone, events and issues that have affected me and loved ones throughout my life but there hasn't been one thing that has stood out and that has driven me to 'represent' it during the race.

Having thought about it long and hard I came to the following conclusions. One of the constants in my life, through the grace of God at times, has been my parents. They have dedicated their lives to me and throughout my life there has been nothing they haven't (within reason) tried to 'give' or ensure I had access to. They have supported me in the vast majority of my goals and dreams and have set the foundations for me to hopefully build a long, happy and successful life.

With that as a background and many happy memories of my childhood with my parents (we moved countries when I was young and I am an only child) I find it very hard to imagine living a life without that support mechanism, without a loving family and my heart goes out to all those who haven't had it and huge respect to those who have had these difficulties and have had the strength to move on and succeed (in whatever shape or form that takes).

UNICEF is therefore a charity that hit home and the work they do with orphans and children struggling with HIV/AIDS is something truly inspiring. The odds stacked against these children are enormous and any tiny (and potentially, in the whole scheme of things, insignificant) contribution I can make, and through your support of my efforts, you can make, will be a huge step forward in their lives. What may be something that would barely bring a smile to my face (or a child in a 'developed' country) could be something that would make one of these children's day, month or year. If I can make one child somewhere smile just once, all the training, all the sweat, the achey legs ... they will all be worth it.

That thought is going to be one of the things that'll keep me going come race day ... it just has to.

If you want to support UNICEF through my efforts please go to www.justgiving.com/davidgalea

Monday, 4 May 2009

Ending the Bank Holiday Weekend with a splash

Its been a good weekend with a mix of activity, rest and relaxation. After meeting up with good friends on Saturday in Canterbury we spent Sunday and Monday shopping (for the house and for sports equipment). Today was a fairly lazy day for the most part.

After a late wake-up, a good vegetarian English breakfast - i.e. an English Breakfast with no bacon or sausage (i.e. mushrooms, baked beans, toast, cottage cheese and poached eggs) and an extended lie in we headed to Bluewater and Clare bought her new running shoes (to find out more check out www.accidentallykle.com ). On our return I graced my sofa for a further extended lie in and then mustered the energy to drag myself to the gym. I was aiming for a drill session of 72 lengths (1.8km). Well, the training session didn't go exactly as planned ... the drills got very boring very quickly, and actually tired me out more than the actual swim (I tried doing the 'Touch catch-up drill' - slow, boring and a tiny bit painful was the best assessment of that). So after 4 lengths worth of drills I just gave up the drills and continued with the normal swim. With the target at 72 lengths, I reached 70 and still felt fairly good. Sighting the clock I saw I was 10 minutes away from the full hour so since there were 'only' 10 lengths left to hit 80 (and the 2km) I went for it.

I really need to improve my technique though. The problems I've noticed (or at least the ones I reckon I've noticed) are the following:

(a) stroke rate - I counted the strokes, 38-40 strokes per length is quite heavy and I need to improve my stroke efficiency;

(b) breathing - I breathe once in every four strokes, so I always breathe on the same side. I feel like it may be giving me a crick in my neck so I need to get comfortable with one breath every three strokes ... which at present is very uncomfortable (breathing over my left shoulder comes naturally but breathing over my right shoulder really doesn't).

I'm sure there's plenty more that's wrong, but notwithstanding these issues, I'm very happy with the effort today.

Unless I start getting serious withdrawal symptoms throughout the day it'll be a rest day tomorrow. The fitness base is building well and as of Saturday I start with the actual structured 12 week programme leading up to race day. Bring it on!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

In a spin

I woke up this morning with very heavy legs. My body seems to be in quite a bit of shock recently ... I don't quite think it's caught up with the fact that the race is only three months away and that there's no more messing about with training. My mind has switched into serious mode, its now up to me to make sure that my body actually follows.

With that mindset, rather than taking the day off, I went to the gym anyways. Details to follow. We headed to Essex today for some shopping (Lakeside to be more precise) and one of our regular stops there (apart from IKEA) is a sport shop, Decathlon. We took the opportunity there to stock up on some further equipment. I bought a few workout gels ... nutrition will be essential in helping me finish the race, let alone allow me to reach a decent time target so I figured I may as well start getting into the seing of things. I'm going to start trying various products over the course of the next few months and if any of you actually have any suggestions I'd be more than happy to hear them and try them out. At this stage I've decided to stay with water for hydration purposes during the workout rather than purchase a 'workout mix' ... it may not be the wisest of ideas (if you think its wrong, feel free to drop me a line and tell me so) but I figure as weightloss is also part of the general idea for training then water on its own should be enough to do the trick.

I headed to the gym this evening (while my wife was painting the wall - somewhat of a role reversal I know, but she loves it and I don't) and rather than doing the normal routine I headed to the spinning 'room', got on a spinning bike and spent 45 minutes doing 7, 6 minute sets followed by a 3 minute cooldown. 5 minutes of flat ground followed by a minute 'uphill' i.e. off the saddle and on my feet pushing hard. It felt good and a hell of a lot more like, i imagine, a bike will feel in a couple of weeks' time. A nice stretch after and my legs didn't feel like jelly as I expected them to. It'll be interesting to see how I wake up tomorrow but the plan is to get to the pool. Its a Bank holiday tomorrow so I don't need to fit the swim in the early morning or the late evening.

The plan is to fuel up properly for the swim and ensure I do a good one (with a positive attitude) and a target of 1.8km. I aim to be doing some technique drills also so it won't be a 'fast' time, but as long as I get the distance done, and the technique improves, it still counts as a decent deposit in the training bank.

Will let you know how it went tomorrow.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Back Down to Earth (but with equipment ;))

After what was a fantastic Thursday in terms of training I was less sore than expected on Friday. Friday was my rest day so I enjoyed it, though as usual I did do my walks to and from work (20 mins fast walk each way - 2.4 miles in total).

I therefore woke up today expecting to feel fresh and aiming to do 8km on the treadmill. It may be because I was feeling slightly fluey overnight (nothing swine/pork/avian/bird or any other animal related just in case you were wondering) or because it really does take more than 24 hours for the soreness to kick in but my legs felt like lead from the moment I stepped on the treadmill. I didn't feel good at all but I trudged on and I completed 5km at 9.4km/ph before I took a walking break. The walking break did help and after a 2 minute walk I got back to running for another kilometre. I alternated the running with the walking, ending in a 'sprint' at 10.5km/ph for the last 500 metres.

I did finish the distance but not exactly with the flourish I expected. It was disappointing but I think it has and will continue to ensure that no over-confidence seeps into my training.

On a positive not i headed to Tri & Run today to pick up my triathlon equipment. So they didn't have the wetsuits in stock and I couldn't pick up the bike because its being measured specifically for me and built accordingly, but it was nonetheless an interesting experience. I did try on the one piece tri-suit ... and went for the two piece instead (its just a question of taste I guess), got my bike helmet, another set of goggles, my number belt, a water bottle and a bag to put it all in. It is quite exciting to see that I now have the majority of the equipment I need to complete this. I'll be back there in 2 weeks to pick up the bike and to try on and pick up the wetsuit :) ... It has been about 15 years since i've been on a bike so it'll be interesting to see how I get on. I'll keep you updated of course.