Triathlon Training Day

I’ve mentioned it before, but this July I’m doing the Isoman half and so I need to train for it. I’m doing the running and the cycling and the swimming (a bit), but one of the most important things will be putting all that together – learning how just to keep going all day and through the different elements.

So for that reason I want to do a couple of ‘triathlon-lite’ training days. All the elements together, but without the distance or intensity, but just to get the body and mind used to process of it all.

The first of those will be on May 22nd and I’m inviting any that wants to join me for any of the four (yes four) vital elements of a triathlon.

1. Swim

The swim will be the BLDSA Colwick Park event – it’s a 5km event near Nottingham. As it’s a lap course (5 x 1km lap) you don’t need a kayaker to support you – just turn up and swim.Most BLDSA events are skins only, but this one does have a wetsuit category, so you can enter that one if you like.

If you want to do the swim, then you’ll need to be a member of the BLDSA, so sign up via Entry Central here.

2. Cycle

We won’t rush the transition, but once everyone is ready (and warm and dry) we’ll cycle from Colwick back to Southwell. We’ll take a slightly longer route and try and do about 30km. Nottinghamshire is fairly flat, so it shouldn’t be too tough a ride – although there is one big hill we could go up depending how we’re feeling.

3. Run

Once back in Southwell we’ll do a c. 10-15km route around the village. For me this isn’t about pure distance, but about getting a decent run in on the back of the other two elements to see how it feels and how I cope. So I don’t want to kill anyone (me especially), but just get a ‘good’ run done.

4. Refuelling

The most important element of any triathlon surely? Depending how many people there are we will either find a local pub that will fill us up with good pub grub and a pint (or two), or we will come back to my flat and I’ll feed us all with copious amounts of bacon sandwiches and cups of tea.

I’m particularly targeting this at my Team Bear friends. Do any of you fancy coming along and joining in any of the four elements of the day?

But of course, it’s not restricted to Team Bear members. If you fancy any of this let me know and it will be great to see you – please get in touch so that I can estimate numbers and plan it a bit more, but do come along.

 

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THE BLDSA SWIM SERIES EXPLAINED

This post has been blatantly stolen copied from a post on the BLDSA’s Facebook page and was written by Mark Sheridan, the author of the excellent Reminiscences of a Long Distance Swimmer blog – worth a read.

Anyway, Mark has swum every event on the BLDSA calendar, plus sever other marathon swims (including the Channel (x2), the Catalina Channel and SCAR amongst others).

If you’re interested in any of the BLDSA swims, this summary is well worth a read.

– – –

THE BLDSA SWIM SERIES EXPLAINED

With my publicity hat on, I have been intending to write a post about the BLDSA Swim Series to inform new and existing members roughly what each swim is like. I hope at least someone finds this of use out of the ca. 1000 Facebook followers we have on this page.

Not only can I talk with an element of experience (after having done them all) but, more importantly, each swim is cleverly designed to help you on your way from open water novice to serious marathon swimmer or whatever you want to be in between (of course with the wonderful BLDSA safety cover by your side)!

I think the calendar is perfect for both those who just enjoy the open water for what it is, up to potentially more determined Channel aspirants who can ensure that that they keep intensity up competing with others. You will see in the yearbook that there is a Grand Prix with points awarded for each mile swum & bonus points for those placing in the top 10. Some people travel around and do most of the circuit each year to get their fix!

The spirit of the events is unique where swimmers are treated with a name rather than trying to fill the course with huge numbers! I also like the fact that it is YOU swimming against YOURSELF and no-one ever beats anyone up over time taken (although there are generally sensible time limits at events for safety purposes) and you’ll get a certificate after each successful event (which I have found great bonus for motivation).

If you are around more and more events you will learn from other friendly people cutting your teeth on differing conditions & distances. You will also meet more potential kayakers who can help on your journey!

When I started out it was the blogs of Mark Robson and Karen Throsby that joined the dots for me and were SO vitally instructive discussing so many subjects such as feeds, stroke, training etc. They had also done some serious mileage that I was particularly envious of – be it 21 mile 2WW or the English Channel. I have also written a blog which makes a poor attempt to be anywhere near the Throsby/Robson league but at least writes up what it is like to do the odd bit of swimming: (http://reminiscencesofalongdistanceswimmer.blogspot.co.uk)
There are many other good bloggers who publicise the BLDSA swims – please add them below or let me know them so we can add them to the BLDSA homepage!!

Anyway, let me talk you through things in order of date first if you have THIS SEASON in mind….

(Observe below that wetsuits ARE PERMITTED at Wykeham 1km, Bala 3 miles, 3km and 1km, St Mary’s Loch 1km & 3 miler and Lynn Regis 1km)

1. COLWICK PARK 22/5/16 – This is an excellent 5km swim set up in a pleasant lake in Nottingham. It’s very early in the season (MAY!) and great to know where you are with your acclimatisation (have you eaten enough pies?) plus it is far enough in terms of distance to challenge all entrants and to be more than just a sprint. If you are a complete novice but can swim 2 miles in a pool environment, you might want to cut your teeth on this one for a starter BLDSA swim. I personally find the open water arena much easier than slogging up and down the pool – you see nature instead of a plaster floating by! Bring yourself – no kayaker required. Centre of the country so accessible for most.

2. WYKEHAM LAKE SWIMS 5/6/16 – Similar to Colwick in Nottingham but different swims and this time the BLDSA takes you to a seriously stunning area in God’s own county of Yorkshire. On the Sunday, the BLDSA offers 3 swims: A 2-miler, a 5km and a 1km. Bring your family and friends for the 1km as they can pay on the day as non-members. This year we are running a 5km night swim on the late evening of the 4th June to give those training for Loch Lomond, 2WW or the EC a chance to know what it is like to swim in the dark. Bring a kayaker along and get stuck in under a moonlit sky. I usually bring my elder daughter for a weekend away and we either stay in a tent or a pod in the campsite opposite. You will ONLY need your own kayaker for the night swim.

3. CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS 18/6/16 – Race Directed by yours truly. This is a 5, 3, then 1 mile swum one after the other in Dover Harbour. Still early in the season when temperatures have been 14.3 degrees on average over the last decade. The proper Champion of Champions are the man and woman with the fastest aggregated times over the 3 events – I usually give better prizes for those coming last having endured the conditions longer than everyone else (as long as they are within the time limits!). It’s legendary for dishing out relentless gut-wrenching misery, cold water & mind-shock, shaking of hands, much spillage of tea and realising how much of marathon swimming is down to your mental side. Upon overcoming yourself, the conditions and what the harbour has to throw at you, a successful completion will earn you the right to the famous red swim cap plus you will go home happy that you have achieved something seriously impressive – sure swim coach and my mentor Giovanna Richards would agree. We usually have people from all over the world completing so bring your autograph book. After opening entries early Jan, the 60 places filled up in 39 hours. If you didn’t get in this year, then volunteer & watch Facebook like a hawk in Jan! Bring yourself and perhaps a helper to sort you out between swims (Simon Griffiths I’m not taking your trunks down this year after the 5-miler!). BTW you won’t need a kayaker either.

4. TORBAY 2/7/16 – This is set up as a Torbay to Brixham and back 8-miler for seniors and 4-mile just Torbay to Brixham for the veterans. For an extra £50 we will introduce you to a local sea kayak expert. I’m sure Adrian Rotchell, Philip Yorke and André Roberts will agree with me that this is THE BEST training event for an English Channel attempt!! This is swum in the proper open sea with jellyfish, swell and tides to contend with. I love the challenging finish that never comes closer! Either bring your kayaker or request one when entering for a small extra fee. Urge you to enter early as possible! Helen Beveridge might agree with some of above as she travelled all the way from Inverness to swim this in 2014 training for a successful Catalina!
The current swim secretary is one of my heroes who swum Lomond, the EC and Windermere 50x. Ledge.

5. BALA WEEKEND 9/7/16 and 10/7/16 – This is a brilliant weekend of swimming which will send you home feeling fitter & better than when you arrived. I usually take the Friday off work each year to make the trek from Sevenoaks. The Saturday am offers a 1km novice and 3km circuit events. The Saturday afternoon then presents the formidable 6-mile 2-Way Bala to the more serious people wanting a challenge which last year presented a tough (force 6!) outward leg but a swift surf-like return amongst the stunning Snowdonia national Park. For those not worse-the-wear for the delights that Bala town on a Saturday night has to offer, the Sunday offers a 1-Way Bala swim which ends up as quite a sprint back to the top of the lake which finishes around lunchtime presenting enough time for a leisurely contented return home. Water temperatures have surprisingly varied each time I have done it from 13 degrees to 24 degrees celsius depending on the state of global warming or recent rainfall. I usually enlist the skills of local kayak legend Chris Jackson & team who charge a fee but means I don’t have the extra layer of complexity to badger a reluctant kayaker from Kent. The 1km and 3km events don’t require a kayaker. The 6 miler and 3-milers DO.

6. CONISTON WEEKEND 23/7/16 and 24/7/16 – The Veterans 3mile swim takes place on the Saturday with the Senior & Junior 5.25mile full length on the Sunday. It’s a magical swim under the watchful eye of the Old Man of Coniston mountain & sharing the same body of water where Campbell broke so many waterspeed records. You will need a kayaker.

[Patrick note – I’m organising the Senior & Junior event on Sunday 24th July]

7. ULLSWATER & DERWENTWATER WEEKEND 13/8/16 and 14/8/16 – This is a brilliant weekend similar to Bala where the serious marathon swimmers can cut their teeth on a combined weekend of 12 miles of swimming (going home glowing!) or you can elect for the 7-mile Ullswater on the Saturday on its own and/or 5miles or 2miles in Derwentwater on the Sunday. You can’t fail to see some of the most impressive sights of mountains – Helvellyn, Great End, Scafell range (not to mention some of the purest water) that England has to offer. You will need a kayaker for all of these ones but every yard will be worth it.

8. LOCH LOMOND 20/8/16 – BLDSA’S EVEREST of SWIMMING. There’s a 21.6 mile for the serious/delusional plus a 1km beforehand for crew & those up there for the weekend! We are only aware of 51 people now having swum this Loch and it is the largest body of water by surface area in the British Isles. It’s entirely stunning with mountain Ben Lomond watching over you from start to finish..The weather can be pretty unpredictable (crews had to content with max of 3 degree air at one stage overnight in 2014!) and cold water tolerance is recommended if you are going to endure to emerge proud as punch in Balloch. Theres a group of truly exceptional swimmers like Liane Llewellyn Hickling and Madfish Inwater who have done this swim more than once! You will need to locate a BOAT and CREW – but not for the 1km. Reserve a boat early as they can be hard to locate! When I did it I towed one all the way from Kent! Out of the initial ca. 9 entrants in 2014, 2 emerged as successful. Janet Wilson is swim secretary and inspired me, Jo Blackburn and Alister Stocks (& many others) to follow in her footsteps to have a go in 2012 where we got lucky with a reasonably calm night. Those conditions are rare.
Entry form stipulates that an 8mile swim must be done as qualifier but you’ll certainly do more in training won’t you!? See more on the entry form on the website..
Note – alternates in the calendar with 2-Way Windermere > next 2WW 2017.

9. 1 WAY WINDERMERE 27/8/16 – the full 10.5 mile length of it. I have heard others mention that they felt like proper marathon swimmer the day they completed a full length of Windermere! I think I agree. The entry requirement is 5.5 miles in 3.5 hours. I wished I had actually swum the 6-mile 2-Way BALA swim before attempting the length of this. That experience would have been vital. The views are picturesque and the swim takes you from Fell Foot country park through the islands finishing in Waterhead past the tallest grand fir in England on the one side with breathtaking views of the Langdale Pikes on the other. A successful completion of this will usually qualify you for a 2-Way Windermere – how cool is that?! There’s also a pub right by the finish so you can celebrate immediately with your crew because you/they will be thirsty! This could also be your English Channel 6-hour qualifier provided the water is under 16 degrees? The great Pete Larrad (swim sec. for Torbay) has swum this 50 times so what are u waiting for? – get cracking!! The great James Leitch also swam the length of this in 2014 without a single feed! LOL.
You will need to enlist a kayaker or get 2-3 crew for the rowing boat provided.

10. ST MARY’S LOCH 10/9/16 – One of the most undisturbed, undiscovered and magical parts of the British Isles but near the borders so accessible for most. Those from London like me might consider a cheeky flight to Edinburgh then it’s 1 hour in a hire car! There is a 1km swim for novices or a 1-Way or 2-Way events. The water can be quite bracing so worth observing that wetsuits ARE ALLOWED on the 1km and 3-mile events or just ‘man-up’ and endure. There’s camping offered on sight or at the local Inn if you reserve early. You might have a fighter plane or eagle fly over you whilst doing this swim.

11. LYNN REGIS – 24/9/16 – This is in north Norfolk so super accessible for most. A real buzz of a day with most people celebrating the last swim of the BLDSA calendar with a 4.5km course, 1.5km junior swim plus a 1km for non-member novices. In the past, there has been camping available so bring your tent and sleeping bag. In 2015 the water was around 16 but being late September there has been some variation. Plenty of chance to swap swim stories, see Jane Melita Langrick Bell fry up onions and talk plans for the year ahead. Also vital training for those completing events that take place in the USA for example which offers some swims in October. I treat my younger daughter to this one as our weekend away and it works fabulously well.

Disclaimer! Most/all sentiments & observations above are my own and would urge you to double check the individual swim itinerary with the website, entry central or the swim secretary. Also take time over choosing your own kayaker. Happy swimming and get in touch if you need more. Cheers, Shezza.

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Parkrun is just poo pants

I did my first ever Parkrun the other week and was pretty happy with the time I did.

I went again this week and intentionally ran without a watch to just get a feel for things without constantly looking at my pace. I wanted to run strong, but comfortably; to push as hard as I could without killing myself. And of course I wanted to beat my PB.

I set off well, the course was muddy, but generally ok. I recognised a couple of faces from the last run and used them as pace makers. I was running well and it felt like a good time.

So I waited for the results email to come through. And I waited.

And then it came through and I was 10 seconds slower that last time.

I blame the woman in the green top – she beat me by about 200m last time and I got in front of her this time. But she must have run slower.

*Storms off, slams bedroom door, shouts “IT’S NOT FAIR!”*

*Sulks*

*Comes out of bedroom and slumps on the chair, “I don’t care anyway.”*

– – –

On reflection I’m pretty pleased that my ‘natural’ pace is within 10 seconds of my watch-focussed pace. And in all honesty, a dry course would see a quicker time. Plus it still gives me plenty to work on.

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A new sport…?

Last night I turned up at the gym planning to do about an hour on the bike before I went for a swim. 

However just as I was signing in a woman asked st reception, “is there anyone spare that could play badminton?” It turns out that they only had three players and needed a fourth. 

I’ve played badminton in the past, they were desperate so might not mind if I was rubbish, so I thought, “What the hell.”

  
In the end I was a bit rubbish, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m tempted to get my own stick and try and play a bit more. 

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My legs are stiff as hell today though. They’re clearly not used to all that lunging!

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Parkrun PB

Yay me! I got a PB at parkrun today.

Although I’m actually being a little bit cheeky by saying that – it was actually my first ever parkrun event, so I was bound to get a PB no matter what.

Screenshot 2016-01-16 15.46.11

I’ve admired the concept of parkrun for ages, but not being a runner I didn’t think it was for me. Not only that, but it’s 9am on a Saturday morning and Friday night is my darts night, so…

However, a couple of things have changed this year. Firstly, although I’ll never be a runner I need to run a bit more to train up for the Isoman event. Secondly, my darts nights is now alternate Fridays as my son stays with me on the other weekends and he’s now old enough that I can ask him to wait around for me for 30 minutes while I do parkrun.

So this morning we both set off to Newark (Notts, not New Jersey) and met up with the parkrun volunteers and runners. I was a little bit nervous and flustered setting off – I forgot my running jacket and so had to run round in my base layer only – but as people gathered at the start my nerves soon left me. There was a pre-run briefing and then we were off. The course was a straight line for about 1/4 a mile, then three laps of the circuit and then back down the straight to finish where we started.

I set off a bit too quickly, soon settled into a pace, realised that was a bit too slow, pushed myself on a bit and then ran the final section a bit harder still – to finish with a highly respectable time (for me) of 28:48.

Then it was time for a tea for me, a bacon roll for my son (as thanks for being so wonderful) and to collect my thoughts.

As anyone that has ever done a parkrun knows, the volunteers are great, the course is well marked, the group you run with friendly and welcoming and it is a great start to the weekend. It will now be a regular (fortnightly) part of my training plan and will be the time for me to run a ‘fast’ 5k. The goal now will be to dip under 28 minutes.

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Bike Advice Needed

As I mentioned, I’ve got the IsoMan half coming up later this year. And to be honest, I think I need a new bike to help me complete it.

I do have a bike, but it’s at least 12 years old and only cost me about £200 at the time – so really not anywhere near top of the range, in fact it isn’t even on the range. To my eyes it looks like a decent road bike, but while doing a sprint tri at the back end of 2014 a proper cyclist slowed down as he passed me to say, ‘you’re brave doing it on that.”

The problem is, I know nothing about bikes – other than they can get very expensive.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one and as the bike section I’m doing is only 31 miles it doesn’t seem worth it. If I fall in love with cycling I’ll splash out then. For now though I just want something that is better than I have now.

My plan was to spend about £300-£500 on something second hand (so expecting to get something that was probably £800-£1,000 brand new), but I’ve no idea how to get a bargain, or even a bike that actually fits me and will be suitable for what I need. I’m not sure what size I am, or even how to measure myself. And do I need to get those special clippy shoes, or should I make do with the old-fashioned straps you put your toes in?

Some many questions.

So, cyclerist people, your help would be gratefully appreciated.

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Perceptions

I’ve just put on a *very* tight new base layer top that was delivered today. It’s very tight and I instantly felt fat and lumpy.

I risked a quick look in the mirror to see just how bad it was and I was surprised to find a sculpted-guy-who-is-carrying-a-bit-too-much-timber-but-actually-looks-ok staring back at me.

I’m not sure who he is, but I hope he doesn’t rob me, he looks much stronger and fitter than I am.

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401 marathons

I’m mainly a swimmer nowadays, but I’ve done a couple of marathons back in the day. For a while my ambition was to do five marathons, I thought that that would put me in a fairly select club. Lots of people have done one or two, not many are dedicated enough to have done five. But that’s absolutely nothing compared to someone I’ve just been made aware of:

Screenshot 2016-01-07 19.41.20

Ben is running 401 marathons on 401 consecutive days.

Stop a minute and think about that – that is a marathon day for OVER A YEAR!

He’s doing to raise money for charity and would love your support in any way you can manage. I don’t know how much more I can write about it here – just go to his site and see more and cheer him on: http://www.the401challenge.co.uk/

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£20 to spend…

I’m still trying to recover from the outpouring of love and care that was clearly evident in this Xmas present I received.

Yay! The spirit of Xmas is alive.

Yay! The spirit of Xmas is alive.

It’s from people that should know better, but never mind. What it has done is put me in a bit of a quandry… what do I do with the £20?

I could just take it to the pub and spend it on drinks, but I do that with most of my other money, I’d like to do ‘something’ with this. However, I’d like to do something that isn’t really for me, call me perverse, but I don’t want to benefit from this £20. And the final stipulation is that it must be this very note that is used (so an online donation is out).

Thinking caps on please… what do you suggest?

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This year’s targets

After completing my distance goal for 2015, I’m going to set some new targets for this year.

Events

Firstly, it has to be around events. The main reason I train is to be able to take part in the events I enjoy and to not only take part, but enjoy them too. The year has two main goals as far as events are concerned:

IsoMan Half

The IsoMan events are designed to equalise the normal triathlon distances, so that you should spend roughly the same time completing each discipline. As a swimmer, this is music to my ears as most triathlons are very heavily geared towards the cycling and running.

The IsoMan event is on July 2nd and I am doing the half distance, which comprises of a 3.5 mile swim, a 30.6 mile bike ride, and then a half marathon (13.1 mile run).

I really enjoyed watching friends complete the Outlaw Half last year in Nottingham, so I fancied another crack at triathlons. My goal is to complete the whole thing in under 6 1/2 hours, but we’ll see.

Windermere

For some reason I only swim Windermere in even numbered years (2012 and 2014 were my previous swims), so it seems only right that I have another go at it this year. It will be a real test of my new stroke and the work I’ve put into that to see if it can keep me going down the length of the lake and to a decent finish. Any time within 30 minutes of the IsoMan finish time and I’d be delighted with that.

Training

My year long goal is hit 2,000kms (doubling the original premise of this blog). I hit my target of 1,600kms last year, so I’m going to stretch it a bit further. However, I’m also going to change the algorithm slightly. At the moment I treble any swimming distance and divide by four any cycling distance. My plan for this year is to roughly follow the IsoMan ‘equalising’ algorithm.

What that means for this year is that the swimming will be multiplied by 3.5, while the cycling will only be divided by 2.5.

While it does mean that my swimming is counted more, I suspect the biggest difference will be in the cycling, as not only will it now count for much more, but with the IsoMan coming up I’ll also be doing a lot more of it.

Other Events

All the other events I’m doing are really (in my mind) classified as training for my two main goal events. I don’t always have as much time for training as I’d like, especially the long training swims, so I’ve entered a number of events that will hopefully help me to build up to my target events.

For the IsoMan I have:

  • Southwell sprint tri – this event is in my local village and is great fun. They run it twice a year and I did the autumn version in 2014, so I have a target time to try and beat.
  • Leeds half marathon – I’ve never done this before, but I know a few people who have entered, so I thought it sounded like a great training event, as well as chance to catch up with friends.

For Windermere I have:

  • Bala weekend – I’m hoping to do both the 3km and 6mile swims on the Saturday and then the 3mile swim on the Sunday.
  • Ullswater / Derwentwater – another weekend of swimming with the BLDSA, with the 7mile Ullswater on the Saturday and the 5.25mile Derwentwater on the Sunday.

I’ll let you know how I get on…

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