Tag Archives: running

No more swimming

So that’s it then. My local pool has been shut down due to the Coronavirus. Obviously it means no more swimming for me (especially as it’s not warm enough for me outside just yet) – but it also means that there are people who now have an uncertain future about their job, while for others the centre provided important physical and social benefits to help them that they may not be able to get elsewhere.

I hope all of those people are ok.

What they’ve said is that it will be closed for a month and then they’ll reassess at that point.

There are numerous articles flying around online, especially in the swimming communities, that chlorine in pools at least inhibits the virus and possibly kills it. So that the pool itself is one of the safest places to be – but of course it’s different for the changing rooms, while our pool is based in a centre with lots of other activities [formerly] taking place.

For me it means that I need to change my exercise habits. I’m not going to stop exercising, but I can’t include swimming or the gym as part of that.

I had started social distancing anyway. While not in full social isolation I was limiting the things I was doing and the potential for being with other people. However, swimming, for me at least, was always going to be one of the last activities to survive the changes.

What I will do from now on is replace it with running. I’ve been trying to do more running anyway and this will force my hand. Some stretching and body weight exercises followed by a 5k run (or mainly walk to start with I’m sure) is how I’ll be keeping fit. Hopefully the added benefit of being out in the fresh air will outweigh the fact that I’ll miss swimming and I’m rubbish at running.

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Weight Loss

I went to the gym this morning and after my workout I used the clever machine they have to tell you your weight and fat percentage etc.

What it told me was that I’ve lost 4.5kgs since the beginning of January. I’m pleased with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s a start – in fact it’s a great start.

Of the 4.5kgs loss, 3.5kgs is fat loss (and my fat percentage has come down over 2%) with a 1kg muscle loss. I don’t feel as if I’ve lost any muscle mass – in fact I’m hoping to gain a little bit, but I suspect that it is a) part of the process of general weight loss, b) that the machine can’t be 100% accurate.

Part of me is a little bit disappointed that the loss isn’t greater, but at the same time I’m pleased that I’m not crashing now to only put it back on later. How I’ve achieved this is by subtly changing my lifestyle in two key areas – I eat better and I move more.

Image from unsplash.com

The eating better involves nothing before 10am, having dinner no later than 7pm and no snacks outside of meal times (including no cups of tea – which is probably the hardest thing for me). On top of that I’ve become more aware of my portion sizes, I’ve reduced the amount of carbs I eat and I’ve also tried to eat less meat. The last one isn’t so much to do with weight loss, but more an attempted change to help the environment.

The moving more is quite simply about moving more. As I’ve mentioned before I’m part of the Million Metre Challenge group on Facebook and that is providing me with the motivation to swim more. I’m also trying to get back to running and I’m enjoying playing more tennis.

I’m not perfect with all of this – there are many times that I eat my dinner later than 7pm for example, and even more times that I snack between meals! But the point is that it is a lifestyle change. It isn’t a diet. It isn’t a temporary fix. And I’m enjoying it, so it’s easy to keep going. And part of the reason that I’m enjoying it is that I don’t berate myself if I fall off the wagon because there is no wagon to fall off. In fact an occasional pint (or two), with the associated bag of crisps, is probably helping as much as anything else – because it means that I can relax and enjoy life and not get hung up on the exercise or weight loss.

That said, I’d love to lose another 10kgs or so – but at this rate I won’t be far off that in another four months.

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Parkrun Tourist

I love Parkrun.

I love the concept of it. I love watching the runners arrive and the numbers grow as it gets closer to 9am. I love the kids and their enthusiasm. I love the feeling at 10am on a Saturday of having done a 5km run and already being back home and ready to start my day.

To be fair, I don’t always love the actual run!

I do think that open water swimming could try and do something to help get people involved and into the water – but maybe more about that some other time.

Last night my son and I were visiting friends in Huddersfield, so I decided that his morning I’d be a parkrun tourist.

The course in Greenhead Park in Huddersfield consists of one short lap, followed by two longer laps of the park – and to be honest, it’s a bit of a pig! Huddersfield is of course situated in an undulating West Yorkshire and the parkrun course is a microcosm of that. You are constantly going up and down and turning tight corners, so it can hard to get into any sort of rhythm. I can imagine once you know the course it becomes a bit easier, but I found it tough.

It didn’t help that it was a very windy day (and because the course took so many different turns the wind was coming from every different direction) and that the recent rain had left a MASSIVE puddle in the middle of the course (just behind the cafe if you know the park).

Many people tried to run around the edge of the puddle, but it was very muddy and slippery around the edges, so the best thing to do was just run straight through it. In fact that was probably the best of the whole run – although the next few paces without soaking wet feet wasn’t great!

Anyway, a windy day, a massive puddle, a new course and all after a very active week. So although it felt like a tough run, I’m pleased I did it.

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Time and timing

Recently Outdoor Swimmer asked on Facebook what are our barriers to training – what can get in the way and stop us achieving our goals.

I didn’t answer on Facebook, but it did get me thinking and quite simply there are two things that restrict me – Time and Timing.

Time
I’m not the world’s quickest swimmer. I’m quicker than some, but for many people that are challenging themselves to big swims / big numbers then I’m at the slower end of the scale. It takes me roughly 20 minutes to swim a kilometre. So if I want to complete the million metre challenge by swimming alone it would take me over 333 hours – or nearly 14 days (13.89).

It’s one of the reasons that I’ve added in running to the mix. While I’m still a slow runner, even at my almost pedestrian 7 minutes per km pace it would only (only?) take me 4.86 days to reach a million metres.

Timing
Linked to the time it takes me to swim, is the issue of timing – when I’m able to swim. Although in the summer I prefer to swim outdoors, even then my swims are still mainly in recognised ‘sessions’. So whether it’s the pool or the lake I need someone to open it up for me and let me in. And of course when they can do that doesn’t always co-ordinate perfectly with when I want to or can swim.

Another reason that I want to do more running this year is that I like the freedom of it in terms of timing. Certainly once the lighter nights start to arrive the only thing from stopping you run is your desire.

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Million metre challenge

In January I started a challenge inspired by Outdoor Swimmer Magazine – and that was the million metre challenge.

For most the challenge will involve a million metres (or whatever the personal target is) of swimming in 2020. However, I’ve decided that I don’t want to do that much swimming this year, so I’ve modified the challenge.

Even before I heard about the challenge I had decided that this year I wanted to get back into running and also wanted to play more tennis. So my personal million metre challenge will count up all metres swum, all metres run and will count 1km for every set (or 10 games if we’re not playing a set) of tennis.

After a slow start in January – due to a little bit of illness – I completed 55,510m in the month. That’s over 27,000 metres down on the monthly target, so I’m behind schedule already, but I’m enjoying the process. I’ve just got to keep it up and see if I can reach the target.

And of course this challenge is perfect for me and for this blog as one of my original goals and reasons for starting this blog was to hit 1,000kms – otherwise known as 1 million metres!

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Running is hard…

… especially straight after swimming.

But that’s what I did last night as I took part in the first of the One Hundred Percent Swimming Aquathon series.

It was an 800m swim, followed by a 3km run and most entrants seemed to be triathletes who were using it as a gentle training exercise. Not fat blokes who barely run.

Actually that’s not true about the barely running thing, as I’ve been going to as many Parkruns as I can this year and finding myself both enjoying them and getting a bit faster. But running after a hard swim is new to me.

I was the only non-wetsuit swimmer and I started at the back of the pack to let all the triathletes fight it out at the front. Once the water settled though I started to move through the field and probably came out of the water about halfway in the field (of 67 entries). I could have held back a bit on the swim, but decided that I’d go as hard as I could for two reasons: 1) it would be the only chance I had of getting ahead of a few people; 2) it was a good ‘sprint’ training session for me.

After the swim I needed to sit down and dry my feet before I put my trainers on and set off running, so I don’t think my transition was the quickest! But then it was the run and bloody hell I struggled.

In the end I finished in 37:22, which I suspect could be broken down roughly as follows: 16min swim; 2min transition; 6:30min per 1km lap of the run. Of course what I realised is that for most of those entering the swim was a slog, but the run was just a sprint; for me it was very much the other way around.

Anyway, that’s my current PB and I’ll try to beat it next time (although I can’t make the second event in the series).

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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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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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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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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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