Marathon des Sables 2013

Marathon des Sables 2013

Sunday, 26 March 2017

82 seconds

My blog over the last 8 years has not only covered my adventures but occasionally takes time out to reflect on life, without being judgemental.  This weeks events in London sent a shiver through the country as it made us realise just how precious life is.  In 82 seconds many families have been affected and I hope they realise that millions of people are holding them in their thoughts today.
I was thinking this over as I was cycling today in probably the best day (weather wise) of the year so far.  Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be out in beautiful countryside, the sun shining, the birds singing and breathing in fresh air.  It doesn't get much better than that.
It also made me think about the point of these adventures, the training and the blog.  At the end of the day it doesn't make that much difference in the bigger picture.  But then I realised that if we all thought like that then "they", the ones who commit despicable acts, would have won - they would have changed our lives.
So I am going to carry on as normal and write about how I've got my weight almost back to normal and my fitness is now starting to come through.  I've had a great weeks training with three fantastic runs where I wasn't breathing out my arse, and a bike ride where I wasn't struggling to hang onto the handlebars through fatigue.  The last three weeks of structured training have given me a base to build on and I want to thank my coach for her expertise in getting me there.  Sure there is a hell of a long way to go but the last three weeks have proved what is possible.  Live life to the full and take time out to smell the roses - I actually stopped to take a picture of a new born lamb with her mother!  After all it's Mothers Day so let's celebrate.  Have a fantastic week and if it's a tough one just focus on your breath and appreciate how lucky you are.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A tailwind

After last weeks post someone mentioned to me that they were surprised by the last blog - it wasn't as "uplifting" as normal.  I explained the blog is meant to be realistic, it's a journal for me to reflect on in the future, and training has it's ups and downs.  You just have to pick yourself up and get on with it.  The Chinese saying that success is falling down seven times and getting up eight.  I like that approach.
This week was my 3rd week of structured training under the supervision of my coach.  I definitely work harder when I am held accountable for the results and having an expert lay out the weekly plan means all I have to do is follow it.  Some people like to analyse the results.  I don't bother.  I report back how I'm feeling and she makes the necessary amendments.  This definitely works for me.
Over and above the running and cycling I tried my first real swimming session since Ironman.  It was painful.  My shoulder obviously has a long way to go.  The slowest 1,000m ever, hurt.  I'm seeing the Physio on Tuesday so here's hoping we can make some progress.
I'm starting to feel the benefit of the structured training; I'm getting fitter but I've a long way to go.  The turbo session on Friday was tough and a sweat fest.  My Chatelherault run on Saturday with "yogi Mark" was bang on the target set but I did need to push myself.
Today I went out cycling on my own and headed out when there was a break in the weather.  The first half of the ride was easy despite the hills but that's because there was a tailwind.  It's the funny thing about cycling that you don't hear the wind when it's behind you, assisting you.  It's like a friend supporting you.  But turning for home the full force of the wind hit me.  As a solo cyclist I had nobody to share the wind with me.  If I'd had a partner out with me we'd have taken turns at the front while the other takes a breather.  But that wasn't an option.  The rain then started to fall.  That's when you have to "shut out" the elements, go into your bubble and focus on each revolution of the pedals.  There is nobody going to help, you just need to keep going.  It's a bit like life when you turn into a headwind.  Know what direction your are heading and why.  Then focus on what needs to be done and get on with it.
In 3 weeks time my mileage will begin to build but at the moment I'm working on getting fitter with each training session, repairing my shoulder and making sure I don't aggravate any other injuries.  Have a great week, appreciate the tailwind and if you meet a headwind - plough on through.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Another week closer to the "A Race" - 195 days to go.  My structured planning is going well.  What a difference it makes having a schedule to follow and be held accountable too - both very important points if you want to achieve a stretching goal.
I'm still just finding my way back to fitness but every training session has an objective and one I'll be measured against.  It works for me.  Like everyone else I'm busy and carving out time isn't always easy.  So as I sit here tonight looking at my diary for next week and then looking at my training schedule I fell like I'm spinning plates.  My coach always tries to take account of my work schedule but you've still got to do the session.  Where ever possible I do the session in the morning as when I finish a days work I'm passed my best.  But having the plan makes all the difference.
My shoulder is still injured and my Physio is working hard to get it sorted but I will attempt a swim this week to see how it feels.  My half ironman is 2 months away but I need to be patient and stick to the plan.  Nothing exciting to report but when you've got a plan that goes over 6 months, a boring week is a good week.  Many miles to crunch so buckle up for the journey.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Doubles all round

Last week I reported that my structured training plan started on Monday, which it did.  It wasn't hectic but involved 4 runs.  I had to combine this with a week where I was away 3 days on business but managed to get the mid-week run in.  It felt good to complete the plan and all targets set were hit.
I did back to back runs at the weekend which is something that is now the norm as I build up my fitness and distance.  I returned to Chatelherault on Saturday and it wasn't long before I was off the back of the group, but I had my plan and was sticking to it.  46 minutes was the target for the lap and the previous week I'd have been over 50, but it was achievable.  A fast start led to a slower section as I regained my breath so I knew I had to press on in the second half which I did.  I dug deep and completed the run with 31 seconds to spare - tick!  What a difference from the previous week even though I was tired from having been away.
Today it was just me and my coach for a 10 k with a target set for the pace.  She pushed me really hard knowing I was running on tired legs.  In order to get better results you have to push through that point where you'd like to take a seat and recover.  It doesn't feel nice but I've been there before and know it's got to be done.  Target pace achieved over the 10 k - tick!
When I was resting this afternoon I was lucky enough to see Laura Muir win her 2nd gold medal of the weekend - the 3,000m.  A stunning performance leaving the competition for dead despite having won the 1,500m the day before - a double.  Congratulations Laura.  Her approach to training and competing is so disciplined and she pushes herself so hard.  It's inspirational.  A reminder to me as I start to build the training.  So doubles all round this weekend although we're in a different universe, but have one thing in common - we love running.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

168 hours

Four training sessions completed this week as I fight my way back to fitness.  The turbo sessions were uneventful, just a sweat fest!  The runs on the other hand were on muddy trails with puddles and sometimes pools of water to wade through - that was the fun part.
Chatelherault on Saturday saw me dropped by the group as they shot off at a pace I wasn't capable of staying with.  But fortunately I was accompanied by Matt who is training from some extreme ultras this season and this was his easy slow week.  I struggled most of the way round and eventually told him to run ahead as I wanted to walk more to get my breath back and heart rate down.  Over coffee afterwards everyone was complaining that they felt they weren't at full fitness but these were the same people who dropped me at the beginning.  Action was required.
Today I headed out with my coach Genevieve for a 10k trail run at a different and difficult trail with plenty of sharp inclines.  It wasn't fast but my breathing eventually got more under control and we agreed now was the time to implement the structured training plan because my training has been haphazard at best.  So tomorrow I will be back on  the Training Peaks app where she will set the sessions and monitor them online - just the kick up the arse I needed.
There are 168 hours in a week and if I work 60 hours (which I don't know) and sleep 56 then I have 52 spare hours in the week.  Even at the max training I was doing for Ironman last year that was 14 hours a week so I will be able to fit this in.  Built up properly I will come out of "hibernation" and feel the benefit of regular structured training.  It's good to have a plan and to be held accountable.  Normal business is being restored!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

I get by with a little help with my friends

When you are training for an endurance event you start by building a base level of training and this takes several months.  With my training having been twice a week recently I've felt like getting to base training would be a good start!  So I'm pleased to report that this week involved two runs, one turbo session, one walk (I'll come back to that) and my second bike ride this year.
The runs have gone to plan and it will be a while before I am able to get my heart rate down.  I'm now up to 10k and if I can get 2-3 runs in a week for the next couple of weeks then this should allow me to build my distance. It's strange to think that in 216 days time I will be running with a rucksack carrying over 12 kilos in weight and doing 6 consecutive days running; 49.6k, 43.4k, 84.7k, 41.9k, 41.9k,12.3k.  The course starts at 5,334ft and the total ascent in the race will be 18,041 ft with total descent of 14,688 ft.  It's hard to imagine the distances while I am running 10k at the moment but with proper planning by my coach Genevieve, I'll get there.
On Friday I completed a 7k walk. This is an important part of my training a I will be walking for large sections of the event due to terrain and heat. Walking causes different pressures on the foot from running and is usually where the blisters come from so there will be much more of this planned, although it's more likely to be hill walking.
Having ran 10k yesterday I headed out with Genevieve and Colin for a "social" bike ride.  I set the route but had failed to realise that this was a regular route, when I was cycling and fit.  It involved a lot of hills and I misjudged the distance (49km) so only have myself to blame for that.  At one point I was really struggling to make one of the many hills and my heart was racing and I was feeling sick.  My pals were already over the hill and I knew I was in trouble.  A quick gel gave me a boost but towards the end Genevieve was upfront with me trying to hold on and Colin was pushing me to help me stay on Genevieve's wheel.  My triceps were so tired I was struggling to hold onto the handlebars.  The rain had started and all I wanted to do was stop and call a taxi - that wasn't going to happen.  I'm putting this detail in so that you can see where I am starting from and it's not a place of fitness, but I am determined.  It will also be a reminder to me when I look back at some of the black moments you have to go through on the journey.  But as the title says, I got by with a little help from my friends which was much appreciated.  It's much harder on your own.
The healthier diet starts tonight and there will be a lot less socialising and partying!  I want to get back to the shape I was in pre-ironman but this will take a lot of hard work.  216 days and counting!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Life gets in the way

Following my run a week ago I had the best of intentions to have 2 more runs during the week to help build up my base fitness.  Sadly this didn't materialise as "life got in the way".. you know what I mean.  The important things such as work, I had a week full of very early starts and 2 days in London.  Many demands on the domestic front but you've got to make sure that everything is kept on a even balance at home.
My first training session of the week was yesterday!  8.30am at the gym with my Athelite Tri club pal Graeme who made sure I don't put too much weight on the machine, highly unlikely, and that I keep the correct form. Then I headed out for a 10km run.  The forecast hadn't predicted snow but this accompanied me in the first half of the run.  It was very cold and it brought back memories of training for the Marathon des Sables in when it was -5 degrees and the expected temperature in the desert was 45 degrees.  An experienced runner said it didn't matter if it was hot or cold what we were doing was preparing for extremes.  I kept reminding myself of this message as I pulled the sleeves of my jacket down to cover my fingers which had lost all sensation.  It was a slower run that my last one which is fine, especially as my heart rate had dropped to a more acceptable level.  Apparently the way to get faster is to train slower and I'm happy with that concept!
In the afternoon I went for a sports massage to ease the muscles in my legs and to loosen off my back.  This is never a pleasant experience but I know it's necessary.  I'm sure Grant secretly enjoys seeing me suffer but without his expert hands I'd don't think I'd make it through the season.
I'd been invited out for a social ride this morning.  Slow pace was guaranteed and the target was for  30 kms followed by cake and coffee!  I be lucky if I'd been on my bike more that 4 times since Ironman - I'm a fair weather cyclist.  So when I heard the wind battering against the window I wasn't for going outside.  However the group were determined so I made the effort.  Climbing up the hill to the meeting point left me out of breath and I was dreading what coming especially when I found out the route - over one of the largest climbs in the area (after a few months it won't seem like a climb)! And of course the wind howled making the conditions tricky especially when it was a cross wind, and the snow which felt like hail smacked us in the face.  Fortunately I had dressed for the occasion and it protected me from the elements.  This is the start of my cycling and afterwards as I sipped my hot chocolate and ate my bakewell tart I began to feel human again.  That was only dampened by the very short downhill cycle home followed by washing my bike which left me frozen again before I  headed for the shower.  This weekend has been bitterly cold but the training must go on.