Category Archives: Cycling

A Training Hiatus

I talked about a big day of triathlon training in May, however I have realised that over the next few weeks I will have to take a bit of a break in my training.

I do this swimming (and running and cycling) for ‘fun’. As a way to relax and unwind after work, but also as a way to push myself and get the best out of my [now noticeably aging] body. I do it because I enjoy all the aspects of it – the training, the events and the camaraderie. I do it for me.

However, I have other priorities in life – in particular family and work.

Family stuff is fairly settled at the moment and my son and I have got into some great routines and we [at least I do] enjoy the time we have together. It’s work though that’s going to need my attention over the next few weeks.

I run my own business and I’m lucky that I enjoy it – but it is mentally all-consuming. Recently we’ve won some new and exciting clients and on top of that there’s a big industry event coming up at the end of Feb. Over the next few weeks I need to ensure that I have 100% of my focus available for work every day. So until the end of Feb I’m going to rein in the training a bit.

I still plan to do as much as I can, but to make sure that’s out of fun and enjoyment and not forced or pressured. I’ll be using any exercise and activity as stress relief and enjoyment, rather than as training.

I need to prioritise things in life and for now work HAS to be my priority. I also need to understand how I tick and although I’ve talked about exercise as a stress relief I also know that I just need ‘time off’ to relax and perform at my optimum. I’m not someone that can whizz through life at a hundreds miles an hour, and rush from job to gym every day. I need some down time too. I need to be able to spend time on my own and with my own thoughts to recharge the batteries.

So that it what I need to focus on for the next few weeks – work and then myself to allow me to perform for work at my best level. Exercise will play a part in that, but putting myself under pressure to hit training goals certainly won’t.

Hopefully once this period is out of the way and March rolls around I’ll be able to get back into it

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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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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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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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Review of the Year

There are lots of these posts going around, so to prove my lack of originality here is mine.

#TieForHelena

Screenshot 2015-12-15 22.02.08

A subject that took over my blog for a few days in December was the #TieForHelena. An online friend of mine (we’ve never actually met in person) and fellow swimmer was attacked near her house because she was wearing a tie. As a community we wanted to support her and hopefully give her the confidence to wear a tie again. Here’s the original post outlining this: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/tieforhelena/

What actually happened was that it seemed to strike a chord with people and it turned out to be quite big. Here’s the summary post I did: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/that-went-well/

2Swim4Life

About to start mile 20 - not happy!

About to start mile 20 – not happy!

There were two main events that were the focus of 2015 for me. The first was back in May and was the 2swim4life event. A simple premise of swimming a mile on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. I trained hard for it and had great support on the day, here’s the write-up I did: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/2swim4life-summary/. That said, it took me a while to get my focus back again: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/if-found-please-return-to/

Swimming the Channel

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43One thing that did help me to regain my focus was swimming the channel on behalf of the charity Aspire. This was a channel crossing with a difference as it was to be done in the pool over the course of 12 weeks. I decided to add another element to the challenge and do it in 22 days: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/swimming-the-channel/. I completed it successfully and as you can see I was effusive in my final write-up: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/ive-done-it/.

It’s not too late to sponsor me if you have any spare money lying around after Xmas: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

I didn’t do a channel relay this year (although there may be one on the cards for 2016), but I did write some of my thoughts on them for aspiring relay swimmers: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/channel-relay-thoughts/

Bala Disaster

2015 wasn’t all good though. I had my first ever DNF at Bala this year – and to make it worse I wasn’t swimming, but kayaking and had to pull my swimmer out of the water (sorry again Rach): https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/shit-shit-shit-shit-shit/. Fortunately we did get a swim in the following day: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/sunday-was-better/.

Cricket

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

I also tried to play cricket again in 2015, for the first time in over 25 years. As you can see from these posts, it wasn’t a complete success: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/crickets-hard-work/; https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/cricket-hmmm/

Crete

But at the end of the summer, I did treat myself to a swimming trip to Crete. It was a trip organised by the wonderful Swimtrek and I met some great new swimming friends: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/more-on-crete/. I’d definitely recommend one if you’re thinking about it.

Not a bad 2015 all in all. And I still think that 2016 will be even better.

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I’ve done it

My plan for 2015 was to complete 1,600kms – and after this morning’s swim I have crossed that threshold.

The distance isn’t the actual distance travelled during my training and events in 2015 as I use an algorithm to try and equal out the three main activities I partake in – swimming, running and cycling. As I’m mainly a swimmer, it didn’t seem fair on me to compare distances with runners for example. Yet nor did it seem fair to just do lots of cycling to boost the numbers. So the 1,600kms distance is a ‘normalised’ running distance for the year as I multiply any swimming distances by three, and divide any cycling distance by four.

So my totals for the year so far (I plan to do another session tomorrow):

Swimming: actual – 408.66kms; adjusted – 1,225.98kms
Running: actual – 270.17kms
Cycling: actual – 447.27kms; adjusted – 111.82kms
Total: actual – 1,126.10kms; adjusted – 1,607.96kms

I’m pretty pleased with that. Well over 1,000 kilometres in actual distance covered and a whole day to spare in hitting the target. But all of this is with a complete lack of motivation in June and July (after the big swim in May), which meant that to complete the target my top three months (in order) were October, December, November.

Update 31/12/15

After today’s session my final totals are: 1,145.8kms actual and 1,620.56kms adjusted.

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LetJog Update – Nearly There

As I’ve posted about before there is an online support group that has set its members the challenge of completing the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats in 2015 through their training and events. According to Wikipedia that is a distance of 874 miles (or 1,407kms).

I’m a member of this group and have signed up to this challenge, although I have decided to extend it slightly to 1,600kms – or 1,000 miles. Initially this blog was about me completing 1,000kms of exercise in a year (a target I didn’t hit), but you can see how much fitter I’ve got as my target for 2015 was 60% greater.

There’s actually a fair chance that I’ll hit this target too. I’m currently about 50kms away from John O’Groats, so I should get there before the end of November. Then that gives me December to complete the additional 180kms or so.

There are no rules to the challenge – other than the distance covered – and most of the people in the group are primarily runners, so will have run just about every mile.

I’m primarily a swimmer, but I run and cycle [a bit] too. I didn’t think that I’d manage to swim 1,600kms in a year, but equally I didn’t want to ‘cheat’ and cycle the bulk of the distance, so I follow a simple algorithm:

  • All swimming distance is multiplied by 3
  • All running distance is counted as is
  • All cycling distance is divided by 4

My totals (with adjusted figures) so far are:

  • Swimming – 357.46kms (1,072.38)
  • Running – 195.07kms (195.07)
  • Cycling – 358.77kms (89.69)
  • Total – 911.30kms (1,357.14)

As you can see I’ve travelled almost exactly as far in water as I have on a bike – although the adjusted figures are then somewhat different. It’s also a pretty good total given that once I’d completed the big 24 hour swim in May I did almost nothing in June and July (a combined, adjusted total of 107.99kms). Fortunately I caught up a lot of my missed distance with a big October – an adjusted total of 220.43kms.

I’ll need to be dedicated through December, including into the Xmas period, but I expect to hit the 1,600kms target.

 

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Half a man

Sorry, that should actually be half an ironman. At least that’s what I hope I’ll be next year.

Team Bear LogoOnline I mix with a right group of nutters and some of them did the Outlaw half ironman this year – as it’s local to me I went to watch it. And although the swim bit is way too short and there’s far too much cycling and running involved it seemed like a fun event and a challenge that I’d like to take on. But you know… one day… not now.

My priorities are and always will be my swimming goals, but I realise that they are actually quite a long way away and the lack of a more immediate ‘big’ goal has seen me drift since the 2swim4life swim.

It’s not just the recent heat that has made me become a bit listless. I had a bit of a reality check the other day and realised that I needed to have a challenge, to start training again (for my mental wellbeing as much as physical), and lose that bit of weight that has started creeping back on. So I pre-registered for next year’s Outlaw half ironman.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve committed to it, but after more conversations with the aforementioned nutters, it my own mind I have committed.

Of course I have some worries:

– That I am as rubbish at cycling and running as I fear
– That it’ll break me for future swimming
– That I’m just doing this to distract me from my current single status, but it will actually restrict me from ever being not single – you know: “That was a lovely date, when can we do it again?” “Well, I have a gap in my training schedule in 12 weeks time.”
– That real life and work reasons will get in the way and I’ll be undercooked by event time – I’m not sure I have enough time to do all the swim training I want to do
– That it’ll get addictively expensive – have you seen some of those tri bikes?
– That I’ll just be the rubbish fat bloke at the back of the field

I’m pretty sure the nutters will help me with some of these fears. I think a bit more training will help me to overcome some of the others and well, who knows.

So, when the email comes through for registration it looks like I’ll be signing up.

*Gulp*

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A Change of Pace

I’m a big fan of the Team Bear ethos of “Suffer, but never surrender”. In fact I like nothing more than being the first into the lake and the last out, or pushing myself so that I can hardly breathe at the end of a sprint session in the pool, or using the weights and feeling an ache the next day in places that you didn’t realise you had, or doing a cardio session and almost literally having to wring your t-shirt dry afterwards. I love all that.

But I’m not sure I can do that anymore. Or at least not right now.

Let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger (none of us are, sorry to break that to you) and how I have adopted the suffer but never surrender mentality up until this point is to think that unless I’m suffering, then it’s not worth it. So, if I can’t run 10k, then why run? Or if I can’t swim at least a 3k pyramid session, is there any point going to the pool at all?

It’s that attitude [of mine] that has to change. Because it leads to one of two things: 1) not doing anything – “I’ll only manage a short swim, so why bother” or “the pool will be full and I won’t be able to do a proper set, so I just won’t go”; or 2) breaking myself. And the two are usually linked, as I break myself when I push too hard after not doing anything for a while: “I can do this, I’ve done it before, so what that I’ve not done it for three months… OUCH!”

Instead of suffering, for the next few months I want to just enjoy moving around. I’ve not got any big events planned this year, so no reason to suffer, and my previous mentality might have seen me become a bit of a couch potato. Instead I just want to be more active. It doesn’t have to be big and macho, but a gentle bit of exercise to counter balance all the sitting around I do for work.

Last night’s run was the perfect example. A nice 20 minute jog around a lovely village (I’m lucky to live somewhere beautiful) on a lovely evening – and all while my tea was cooking.

So from now on my plan is to take the chance to be active as much as possible and to ignore [some of the] goals and targets and just enjoy it. So more walking, more running, more gentle weights sessions at home and more quick dips in the pool and lake.

Of course it won’t last forever and at the back of my mind is the thought that I’m probably not all that fit at the moment. Instead of being fit I have trained my body to be able to perform one particular task – and even then I’ve broken it slightly as I’ve had a shoulder injury for the past week that will keep me away from swimming until at least the weekend. So a slightly more wholistic approach might improve my general fitness and put me in a much better position to be able to suffer in the future.

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Well done Bradley #MyHour

He did it. 54.526km in an hour on a push bike.

I didn’t realise I could watch it, assuming it would only be on one of the subscription channels that I don’t subscribe to. But it wasn’t, and I could, so I did. And I loved it. And so did my son. We both got hypnotised as the lap counter grew and the average speed dropped (only very slightly) and we imagined just how much the grimace was growing.

But now it’s over and he’s done, so what’s next?

Then I was reading Twitter and came across this tweet by a journalist who had attempted the same hour challenge (Bradley passed his distance after 47 minutes). So of course it made me realise that I wanted to have a go at it.

I wonder how many leisure centres or cycling clubs or even personal trainers are taking this opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and offer people the chance to see how well they could take up the challenge? How far could I go? How quickly would Wiggins has passed my distance? Could I have even managed what he did in 30 minutes?

In face if my local leisure centre arranged for me to book an hour on one of the bike machines, then a couple of dedicated coaching sessions (maybe one on technique, one on general fitness) then another hour a month later – well, I’d jump at it and pay them actual money.

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