The Try Athlete

There is only Do……There is no try

Archive for the category “running”

What type of runner/cyclist are you? Mr Happy, Mr Grumpy or Mr Nosey?

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I’ve been running and road cycling now for 10 months and love it, as I write my legs are aching from yesterday’s ride and that’s my way of knowing I’ve done my bit.

What I’ve found though is that there tend to be three main types of runner or cyclist you meet on the roads:

Mr Happy – will smile, nod and will probably speak to you if overtaking on a bike or being overtaken.

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Mr Grumpy – will often be blasting through a set training plan and will be too busy to nod and appear to be quite miserable.

Mr Nosey – the runner or cyclist who seems intent on glaring at you, looking at your gear etc but with no intention of engaging you in any way!

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Now I am not saying that either of the above three is right or indeed wrong. Being honest I’ve been a blend of all three when in out there depending on how focused a session I’m having and whether things are gong well or not so well. I do tend to class myself as Mr Happy though generally 🙂

I think its important to make the effort though, sometimes, and to realize if your glaring or being grumpy; when a simple nod could return the effort the person your passing may be making; and if not then you can glare 😉

Whatever you do though just enjoy it and if you get your enjoyment from lung shattering total focus sessions then good on you at least your out there doing something positive. At the end of the day were all trying to be better versions of ourselves out there, but don’t forget, try to smile once in a while!

Thanks for reading.

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Training – Where Next

I am in a slightly unusual place of having to decide which direction to take next on the training front. I am normally a bit of a planner but realise I have come to a bit of a crossroads with my training plan and will need to have a refresh. The problem is that I hav completed a swimming event, then a cycling sportive and more recently a sprint triathlon. Its the latter which will form the next 6 weeks of my focus as I prepare for another two sprint triathlons, one at the end of May (same distance as Sunday) and then another at the middle of June (longer distance and open swim). My head is telling me to get the distance and fitness for the longer event and the shorter one will take care of itself.

I have recently been working on (back to back) swimming, cycling and running sessions to get my body used to the demands of the sport; replicating the distance of the upcoming event. However, I also want to join the local Triathlon club and go cycling with them and swimming. They meet on weekends and fitting the time in for that and the family is going to be a challenge, as is rolling out a balanced training plan with appropriate rest included.

I have a 20 mile ride planned home from work today and will start to plan out the rest of the training routine today. My hearts in the right place in terms of I want to do it the right way, but I’m just unsure as to what the right way actually is.

Thanks for reading!motivation-main_0

My First Ever Triathlon

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It’s four minutes until I report poolside to start my first ever triathlon, as I write I am sat in the changing rooms just waiting for this adventure to begin!

The butterflies in my stomach won’t rest until I make a start and remembering the training plan it’s going to have to be a smooth and relaxed start and wait until the bike to let go and attack it; then see what’s left in the legs and smooth out a decently paced run.

Arriving at the event its clear that this is a taster for many dipping their toes into the world of triathlon, the transition area is full of gear and athletes of all ages and abilities. Its clear that many will be using this as a season starting event, building up to longer events like me and others for half and full ironman(s); some may never do it again, but hopefully they will. Unpacking for me at transition is a big learning curve, I chatted to a couple of fellow athletes as the excitement and nerves within me kept building and made a mental note of where my bike was ready for later.

Standing at the poolside having the safety briefing with the rest of my heat it dawned on me what a mad event a triathlon actually is, I had a pair of tri shorts on and some goggles and was a bout to travel 14 miles with water, wheels and my feet; powered only by my heart and lungs – gulp!

I forgot what I planned as a strategy and went about hitting the swim as fast and as hard as I could, big mistake, I blew my breathing and had to breathe every two strokes instead of three and gradually brought myself back finishing in my usual slow and steady style.

Always Test Your Gear

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The bike ride was another learning curve, the day before the triathlon I bought a new pump that would clip on to my frame, as I would have no pockets. Problem was the pump fell off and I had to stop, get off, and hold it in my hand for 8 miles. Won’t make that mistake again. The ride was all up and down, some good climbing and down hills with very little flat making it a good leveler and a lot of fun too.

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Then came the run, a little bit of unexpected cross country adding to a mix of scenery, I felt good on my feet and still haven’t experienced the strange sensation I’ve read about when going from the bike to the run – maybe it will happen on longer events but hopefully I’m immune or something, but I doubt it.

Into the last mile I upped the pace a little and was able to finish with a little flourish, which I suppose, is a strong sign that my training has gone really well. Covering the last few metres in the beautiful sunshine to a rousing applause was a moment I wont forget; after months of training in the dark, the rain and the wind I had visualized crossing the line but never imagined how great it would feel, ‘I am a Triathlete’ I thought to myself, I’ve done it, I couldn’t stop smiling.

From the moment I started to the moment I finished the encouragement from the stewards and event supporters was superb and made me and the other athletes feel like a million dollars. The event was so well organized, signposted and supported; the Cardiff Tri club has left a high bar for the other events I will be participating in as part of the 260-mile series.

For those out there that want a fresh challenge, a great event with some amazing atmosphere I couldn’t recommend triathlon highly enough. It will make you fit, sociable and even (for me at least) do the unthinkable and buy a vest. Through the training I’ve lost over a stone in weight and am probably the fittest I have ever been.

I now have a PB of 1hr 31 minutes to aim for at the next triathlon, which is in Brecon at the end of the month; I have three weeks to improve and work on the three events one of which will be on holidays in Majorca. Much to look forward to and reflect upon after an absolutely amazing weekend.

Thanks for reading guys!

Trial Run – First Triathlon Mock Up

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It’s four days until my first triathlon and training now shifts from cycling endurance back to a balance of the three events.

I didn’t have the best recovery from the sportive (Link to Previous Blog) and should have managed that better in all honesty. It’s taken me two days to get all of the aches out of the legs and arms and be ready for what was an intense session including a swim after work, then a 10 mile full throttle ride followed by a 3 mile run; all to mimic the distance for Sundays Try a Tri in Cardiff.

I managed to also try out my new triathlon shorts and running shoes and even my first ever running vest; felt like I looked the part, but would I perform the part of someone who could be considered, in any way, an athlete?

I have not been in the water as much as I had hoped, largely due to building distance on the bike, and I wanted to blast out the 20 lengths in a decent time. I covered the 400 metres in just over 8 minutes which for me is good. Part of me was dreading the distance taking 10 minutes so that’s a little bonus and one to build on.

Then came the slowest transition in the history of the sport. A traffic jam followed by a 30 minute drive home, then a little tinkering with my GPS watch before setting off. What followed was an exhilarating change from the slow and steady training of the past weeks. A chance to flex those cycling muscles the punishing hundreds of miles training had brutally developed. I embarked on an aggressive 10 mile ride for which I posted PB’s all over Strava and my highest average speed of 16.5mph – 1.5 miles faster than anything I have topped before which for me was great; even if it was painful but no pain no gain speed.

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And finally the run, the part where my legs throw their hands up
I’m the air and shout ‘what the hell are you doing NOW’. After the first mile they realised I was on the last leg of my triathlon mock up. Like an old locomotive the pistons ground their way into form and I eased up through the gears into the 2nd and tried to attack the 3rd and final mile. My big fear was being really really slow but I posted a sub 30 mins time of 26:05 and I know I can do better.

I wanted to compare my times to last years Try a Tri (2013) and all things being equal would have classed well in the top half. If I can speed up my run I could even have threatened the top 10 but that, I guess is the triathlete conundrum: ‘if I could have shaved 30 seconds here I would have finished there’. Suppose it’s not hard to see where lightweight and aerodynamic focused approaches come to the fore in consideration of the more seasoned and competitive among us.

One more training mock up on Friday then a rest on Saturday for the maiden triathlon event with core sessions on the rest days!

Really excited and already have the bug even before I’ve started the first race.

On a separate note I’ve also lost a little weight and have moved further into the £300 mark in terms of the 260 Miles for Kenzie endurance series – Brilliant.

Now wheres my idiots guide to aerodynamics?
Maybe not just yet!

Thanks for reading peeps!

Swimathon (5k) First Ever Endurance Event

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The other week saw the completion of my very first endurance event a three mile swim-athon, the thought of swimming even a mile would have been inconceivable not so long ago – but with a little focus and some hard work, misconceptions, doubts and inability can be crushed and torn like a piece of paper. This is all part of a 260 mile series which is my baptism of fire from a couch potato to an amateur endurance triathlete; outlined in my recent blog 260 miles for Kenzie.

I am far from a fast swimmer (or fast anything for that matter) and as 5 people were to share a lane (reserved for those of us swimming 2.5 or 5k) I hoped that I wouldn’t be the only slowie in the water. Sadly I was the slowest, by a margin, but in truth, given the differing levels of ability everyone was overtaking (except me) but that’s life ey!

‘Enjoy The Test’

The first 5/10 laps were hard as I tried to start with a strong pace that meant little as the other swimmers had already started to pass me. I felt bad for holding them up and just decided to swim at my pace and get the job done. This comes back to something my dad always said about exams or anything you need to prepare for ‘enjoy the test’. This simply means, prepare yourself well, get the hard work done beforehand and then when the test (whatever form it takes) comes around you can enjoy it more; safe in the knowledge that your ready for it. That notion served me well, and realizing that I could cover the distance non stop, freestyle, I got my head down so to speak taking it lap by lap, nice and smooth, nice and easy. I soldiered on through 200 lengths being the only swimmer not to stop until the distance was covered, until the solid tortoise crossed the line.

The biggest lesson learned was the mental approach and how important a clear and focused mindset is when you’re in a long haul endurance situation.

I know I need to be able to go a lot faster to be a good swimmer and all round triathlete, but for now at least, I’ve completed my first event. Finishing and leaving the pool to applause was a great feeling and, being honest, I am extremely proud of my first medal, its only a small token but symbolises the work that went into the preparation and the hours of training getting myself ‘ready’.

I can’t wait for the next event – 65-mile bike ride in Hay on Wye – tomorrow morning – bring it!

1 event down 9 to go – 3 miles down 257 to go!!!!!!!

260 Miles To Help Change A Little Boys Life

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I am an ordinary guy trying to do something special in 2014, call it a noble mid life crisis. That special deed will be whipping myself into shape to complete 260 miles worth of endurance events (10 in total) to raise money for Kenzie, an amazing little boy. The programme will involve distance running, road cycling, swimming and Triathlons to raise money in support of Kenzie’s Wish Fund.

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Kenzies Wish
Kenzie is a wonderful little boy who has a range of medical issues. From just 6 weeks old he had to be refered to a range of specialist doctors for issues with his sight, spine, digestion and communication. I was overwhelmed by the opportunity to raise money for him, knowing that 100% of the funds would go directly to making his world a better place. I have set up a fundraising page where the total target for which is £500.

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The Challenge
Considering I have never participated in an endurance event before, this is going to be an enormous challenge. Scheduling the training, nutrition and recovery around the variety and differing demands of the events will be as great a challenge as completing each of the 10 I have signed up for. I feel a lot better after a really solid winter training programme and am probably fitter now than I have ever been in my life. But this is just the start of the process and now I have scheduled a season full of events for the cause, its time to do what I’m best at, getting my teeth stuck in. After all how does the saying go: ‘its not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog’.

Steep Learning Curve
What I have found in the 6 months since I started training is how much there is to learn, from equipment to feeding while on a long ride, brick training, cadence, tri-gear to name but a few terms that would have meant nothing to me a little while ago.

I read a blog on here that questioned (then agreed with the fact that) triathlon is a way of life, yes it’s a demanding, far from boring and extremely rewarding one – especially when crossing the finish line or nailing a PB.

I know that I still have a long way to go and supporting Kenzie has given me the added drive to get out there and make this happen – big time!

If you wish to see how I get along then just follow this blog; if you wish to support then please do so, either with funding or just by following the cause on facebook or here – little by little the very smallest gesture can change the world!

Thanks for reading guys!

Better than Sex?

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Its been a long winter and as the clocks have gone forward, that means one thing, evening rides. The sun was shining and I decided to take on the Rhigos Mountain, I’ve gone up one side before which is a long steady climb followed by a sharp winding decent to get back down. I drive over the mountain and back most work days and have never attempted what I call the steep side. That was until today. Climbing up to the summit (from the easier end) I would normally give myself a little nod of achievement,but today was different, I decided to drop down the other side, take in the nerve jangling downhill then turn right round and take on the steep side. After exactly 60 mins of riding it took a mighty effort to climb back up (for me at least), but the feeling of conquering the Rhigos on both sides was amazing, better than sex? depends who with I suppose.

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It was made all the better by the setting sun and some great tunes in what is a truly beautiful part of the world with top class cycling landscape. Living here sometimes is tough with the weather we get but tonight I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be!

Great feeling, great achievement! Now on to the next challenge!

Tom Tom Multi Sports Watch Review (Feb 2014)

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As a beginner in the world of amateur competition, more specifically triathlons, I am definitely going to need a training device to measure progress.

As a huge fan of gadgets I did a bit of an internet trawl for something triathlon specific, something that would allow me to be more focused in my training, and also help me out in races.

After reading some reviews and recommendations I came across the Tom Tom Multi Sports Watch. The watch uses GPS to track speed, distance, and elevation. The bundle I purchased came with a cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor (HRM).

To add another dimension into the mix the equipment also has a swim function and indoor (treadmill) running based feature which ensures every facet of training, aside from core, flexibility and weights, can be recorded and analysed.

Here’s a blow-by-blow honest account of each aspect of the Tom Tom Multi Sports watch complete the Cadence Sensor and HRM.

Outdoor Running – this is clearly the core concept (with the alternative watch being the TomTom Runner) adorned with a brilliant range of functions including: pace, heart rate (HRM) with distance travelled, calories burned and time elapsed; all in a neat little bundle. This provides everything you will need to measure your training progress and pacing during a race.

Treadmill Function – this feature is an excellent addition enabling measurement of every aspect of your aerobic training. With the HRM again you get a pace and a calories function to mock up a road running approach inclusive of pace etc. Following a number of tests this feature works really well, at the end of the run the watch asked me to calibrate the distance I had covered, and then it saved my workout – simple.

Cycling Function – again this feature provides a huge range of facilities to measure your on bike performance and vary your training. Features include: altitude climbed, cadence, real time speed, average speed, distance, calories burned. This element of the watch is outstanding and will support all manner of training methods and race strategies.

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The bundle comes with a cycle mount so you can easily detach you watch from the strap and clip to your bike.

Swimming Function – while reading up on the performance of the watch the Swimming function came out as the weak link. In the main the criticism was targeted at a lack of accuracy in terms of lengths covered and no existing outdoor/open water facility. Following a lot of swim sessions I am really impressed. Maybe the software has been vastly updated or perhaps between me, the watch and the water the lengths came out about right. I will let you decide if ever you get one, but its consistent and a brilliant in water tool. On the open water swimming feature TomTom are currently working on this which would complete the package!

The Watch Itself – the watch looks good and is well designed and easy to navigate using the buttons provided. You get the feel that this will be the first of many (the Nike plus collaboration with Tom Tom aside) as the market will undoubtedly react and come through with differing versions and styles. One initial limitation from the perspective of myself and many others is the units reliance on docking with a computer. I am pleased to confirm that a firmware update has remedied this issue supporting wireless syncing with smartphones and wireless software updates!

The watch has a battery life of 10 hours so this will definitely be an issue for longer events and could be a drawback for athletes in this category on race day or during longer training sessions.

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Training Features – there are a boat load of additional features with the Multi Sports Watch training such as a race yourself function, course plotting, goal setting (time, calories, distance etc) which has been a huge help from a structure perspective – especially in the pool. There are lots more training features I am yet to try e.g. laps.

I would recommend the following sites for additional info on these:

Tom Tom Official Site

You Tube Video

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In addition the watch has built in memory so you don’t have to sync each time but in all honesty, in your anything like me info is gathered as soon as possible so I can see how I have performed. Charging however requires the use of a computer, solely on a USB basis.

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You also have access to MySports(TomTom) and Map My Fitness, they both provide useful platforms which also make for great smartphone apps too. The platforms allow you to review workouts, enable you map routes, and pretty much do everything you would expect. The latter also has an upgrade facility (MVP) to number crunch, and go further with more analysis tools, not sure whether I will use this (pay per month) but time will tell.

Another general criticism of earlier reviews was patch in time, for the watch to find your location before you can start; with outdoor training. I bought the watch in January and this aspect has improved immensely, mainly through the regular downloadable updates. Now its seconds, rather than minutes before the watch tells me to ‘GO’.

Verdict

I think this is an outstanding piece of kit, it offers such a wide range if features for a Triathlete to use, both while training, planning and racing.

The look, functionality and sheer build quality (washed the HRM by mistake and it was completely unaffected) of the watch and accessories is top class – would very highly recommend.

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