I hate this time of year

I don’t mind the cold. And although I hate long dark nights, they haven’t really begun to bite yet. And the autumn leaves look pretty.

What I hate is the plague of viruses that appears around now. No sooner do I get stuck into my 10% programme than I’m struck down with a cold. I’ve been incapable of doing much for the last week.

Before I really got bad I managed a swim – 20:39 for 800m. I think this is on the slow side for my current fitness, as I had the remains of a backache, which I’d got from trying a Body Combat class the previous week, and, as became apparent over the next few hours, the beginnings of this cold. But it gives me a target of 18:35. I’m hoping to do a bit better than that, though.

I’ve got my new shoes, and went out for a microminijog to try them out. They felt good, but I’ll have to wait till my cough goes to really put them through their paces. I’m slightly anxious about the running, as it’s now two weeks since I’ve been for a proper run.

The only compensation is that I lose my appetite when I get ill, which means that I’ve lost 1kg in the last week without making any effort. So less lard to lumber around, at least.


10% in 10 weeks?

I’m pleased to have got my first race under my belt. What next?

Well, I’m still a bit on the porky side, and I wasn’t exactly speedy. Unsurprising really, since when I signed up 3 weeks before the event, I’d never run the distance. It was also not a very fast course.

My swimming is also a bit lackadaisical. I know I can swim faster, if I get into the habit of going regularly. My cycling is by far my best discipline – lets leave that for the minute.

So: My aim is to improve by 10% in 10 weeks.

I dieted for about 3 months at the beginning of the year,. My weight has rebounded very slightly since then, though I’m still well within the “healthy” BMI range. So on Tuesday 16th September I was 73kg. A 10% loss would take me to 65.7kg, but I’m not too bothered if I don’t quite make that. I’m aiming for an average of 100g loss per day, but have lost a bit faster than that during the first two weeks. I’ve still got about 5kg to go to make the target.

I think I need to do a bit more than pootle up and down the pool. I also need to get into the habit of going at least twice a week. I didn’t swim between February and July, though I’ve gone quite a few times since then. I found a helpful site (swim4fitness) which has 10-session programmes of varying intensity. I aim to do one relaxed swimming session per week, and one session following the part 3 fitness programme from that site.

I haven’t measured my baseline swim speed yet. I will measure it this week over 800m.

I’ve ordered some new running shoes. Well, I think I have – I haven’t actually received a confirmation e-mail. The next couple of weeks, I just intend to keep the distance up, and to go for regular relaxed runs without my Garmin to put pressure on me.

Then I’m going to try the Runner’s World 8 week 3x per week 10K training plan, targeting a race at Worthing on December 6th. The plan includes all sorts of technical stuff such as interval running, tempo runs etc. If I find it’s too much I may switch to a simpler plan.

I’m targeting a 10% improvement on my Alice Holt race – that would be 56:41. The weight loss should help, but I’m also going to have to get fitter. It should be feasible – The Alice Holt race was only the third time I’d covered the distance, and was a pretty technical course.

Alice Holt 10K

My first “running only” race was on 14th September, at Alice Holt Forest, near Farnham.

It was advertised as an “off-road, multi-terrain undulating course”, and was pretty much as I expected – some small areas of mud and puddles, and narrowish paths, but mostly pretty good forest tracks with quite a bit of up-and-down (about 170m ascent and descent according to Bikely) but nothing to stop me in my tracks.

Alice Holt Forest 10K

I cycled there from my sister’s house, and the back route I took was quite hilly, so I was a bit more “warmed up” (=knackered) than I intended.

I was a bit nervous when I saw how many club runners and proper fit people there were, and wondered whether I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I started right at the very back of the starting funnel, rather than in the middle of the crowd.

We were started off by a Town Crier, and the start was very slow and congested, but once the field had spread out a bit we got a bit of a move on.

I was pleased that I managed to run up the hills when others were walking, although my slow steady pace became a bit slower and less steady. I was quite knackered by the end, but did manage a bit of a dash for the line and finished in 1:02:59 (140th out of 188 women in the race). I was quite glad to hear more experienced runners describe it as a tough course.

Then ice cream and beer beckoned, and it would have seemed rude not to answer their calls.

My only major frustration is that my bastard Garmin 405 chose that day of all days to cut out, revert to factory settings and lose all my data, including all my heartrate and pace data from my first ever race.

London Triathlon 2008 – sprint distance

The London Sprint Triathlon was yesterday: 750m swim, 21km bike, 5.2km run. The Excel Centre was quite a big, daunting venue for my first race of any kind, and my race was last on at 17:00.

It was a horrible day for it – persistent rain and  a bit of a wind. I’d managed a couple of swims in my wetsuit, and it was beginning to feel less like an alien lifeform engulfing me. I knew I could do the distance.

In the event, however, it wasn’t the distance, the wetsuit or the open water that bothered me it was complete inability to deal with swimming with so many people (over 300 in my wave).

I just couldn’t get any rhythm, with feet and arms and heads everywhere. So I panicked and hyperventilated. The unfamiliarity of the open water, and of my first race obviously contributed, but the main problem was swimming in a crowd.

Once I was away from other swimmers, I got into some rhythm, but every time I caught up with a group, I’d start to panic again and lose the plot. The kayak marshals were great, but I nearly gave up there and then. In the end, I completed the swim leg in over 28 minutes.

I walked slowly through transition 1, and used it to regroup, but felt much better once I was on my bike and starting to overtake people. I’d always known this would be my best discipline, and was reasonably pleased with my time of 46:29 in persistent rain and wind.

By the time I got to the run, I just decided to treat it as a jog in the park, and make sure I got home in one piece, without walking. It took me 31:37, and I finished in 1:55:23.

I felt pretty good afterwards, and just have slightly tired legs today. I’d do it again, but I’d try to pick an event with fewer competitors, and sort out my open water swimming, so that I have more in reserve to deal with the splashing crowds.

Long overdue update

old and new

I’m crap at blogging, aren’t I? I’ve got a few things I want to say, but I don’t want to make this post too long, so I’ll probably post again later.

I haven’t been as organised in my training as I intended, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of running and cycling. And, as you see, I have new running shoes. Now I must go and get them dirty.

I got out of the habit of swimming when my skin got really sore in the cold weather earlier this year. The chlorine and wetness seemed to make it much worse, and I haven’t got back into the habit since then. I intend to start swimming again this week. 750m is minimal in terms of distance, but I do need to work on my technique.

Likewise, I haven’t been keeping to a diet for a while now. My weight has been stable since I stopped dieting, but I should make a final push to lose this last half a stone – I’m sure it would help my fitness level.

In exciting personal news – I now have a niecelet to add to my collection of 5 nephews. Born at 4:17 this morning. My mother is delerious that she finally has a granddaughter.

Triathlon goals

State of play, end of February.

There have been a few disturbances to my intended schedule:

Firstly, my bike was stolen. This also affected my swimming, as the pool is at least a couple of miles away, with no easy public transport link. Having to walk there and back makes the exercise very time-consuming.

Secondly, I haven’t been very well in the second half of February. I had fairly severe skin soreness in the cold weather, followed by stomach upsets, apparently caused by coffee intolerance, followed by caffeine withdrawal headaches when I tried to sort that out. Ho hum.

Taking this into account, I’m reasonably happy with where I’ve got to so far:

Have run max of 45 minutes continuously. Have run two or three times per week. Can run 5km in 32:48 at comfortable speed (measured a couple of weeks ago before I got poorly).

Have swum < two times per week on average. Have recently suffered a bout of very sore, dry skin, and haven’t wanted to risk the chlorine followed by a walk home in the cold.

Can easily swim 750m in front crawl. Can swim 30s lengths for couple of lengths, but I have to slow down a bit to swim 750m.

SPL (average): 22

SPL (minimum): 17

Was cycling until my bike got stolen. Have just received my new bike, and bought a cycle computer to log progress.

Have averaged 1660 kcal per day since 21st January. Have lost 6.2kg since that date. Am now within “healthy” range, but I need to lose quite a lot more to be race fit.

General health and fitness:
Quite good until the last couple of weeks. No migraines or fainting. No colds or flu.

Done masses of walking (well, with no bike, I have little choice).

My arms and legs are becoming noticeably more toned, but I have no abs to speak of.

Goals for March:

Run 3x per week (2 short, 1 long, or 1 short, 1 medium, 1 long). Increase duration of long run conservatively. Be able to run 60 minutes continuously by 31st March. Try to include some gentle speedwork on some of the shorter runs.

Maybe buy some new running shoes. I’m currently running in *ahem* “Aldi Technical Jogging Shoes”. They don’t seem to have caused me any problem, and I’m not sure whether the whole running shoe industry is largely a con, but since I’ll be increasing my volume of running, it might be better to be safe than sorry.

Swim 3x per week. Make one of these a 1-hour session. Try to get to pool a bit earlier to maximise lane-swimming time. Incorporate drills, rather than just ploughing up and down. Aim to reduce SPL. Visit Command Baths (50m pool) when I go home.

Ride regularly, now that I have a bike again. Try to get at least one long ride in per week. Do a bit of Fartlek. Get gear to build racing wheels onto my MA2s.

Continue on 1600-1700kcal per day if possible. Aim to lose 3kg in the month.

I really should try to do some core exercises and stretching. And limit the coffee.

In at the deep end

Downham swimming pool

Originally uploaded by Cllr Chris Best

I went swimming for the first time today. Downham Leisure Centre and Library was only completed under a year ago, and as a result, is as clean and modern as a public pool is likely to be.

The pool wasn’t busy, and I had a lane entirely to myself. I was happy to find I could swim faster and further than I had thought I’d be able to after such a long lay-off. I swam for slightly over half an hour with rests, and managed 45 lengths of mixed breaststroke and crawl, which aint bad for a first time in over seven years. It felt good, but I’m feeling quite tired and a bit achey now.

My only real problem was that my swimsuit was slightly loose. I dove in and almost dove out. Need to sort that out fairly promptly.

I spoke to a chap at the centre about joining to use the gym. I told him that I was doing the triathlon, and he couldn’t seem to get his head round the fact that I wasn’t interested in treadmills, stationary bikes or spinning classes. I can get all the running and cycling I need outside, without feeling that I’m on a hamster wheel.

What a gym and classes might be useful for is focussed strength training and flexibility exercises, building core stability, adding variety and bringing my training together. I’ve done a very small amount of gym work before. I didn’t exactly find it unpleasant but so-o-o-o-o boring. I’ve never done a class, but I can see how the regular discipline of a class could be helpful.

I might consider joining later in the year, but I’m not sure that I need it yet. Fitting in workouts for all three disciplines is challenging enough for the moment, so I’ll wait until I’m accustomed to that before taking on any more.