Role Model? Me?

Posted: March 18, 2014 in triathlon

Role Model – Me??

Sitting at 6:30 in the morning on saturday playing with my nephew Harry and Chilli the dog it suddenly dawned on me what an impact adults have on young children as to what they do, what they see as fun, and what they aspire to do in life!

I have my mum and her partner visiting for the weekend with my step nephew (5yr old) and they always joke and about how Harry and his big sister (Emma 16year old) look up to me, its actually dawned on me today just how much that is true.

Sitting having breakfast, little Harry said ‘this toast is different to what I have at home’ – I explained that the wholemeal bread with real butter and fresh raspberries are good for you and need lots of different food if you want to be strong to do lots of sports – on this note, he gulped down his full bowl of raspberries because he declared he has ‘lots of exercise to do today’.

Instead of sitting watching cartoons (i was hoping for a chilled out coffee) we then had a morning of playing on a swiss ball, playing with my dumbbells (only the little ones), indoor swim practice with my swim bands and more planking, then to finish it of a bit of plyometrics using the reebok step!  Little Harry then declared ‘I didn’t think your house was going to be this much fun because you don’t have any toys’.

Just goes to show, what we do in life has a huge impact on others around us. It is no wonder we are a nation with a growing population (quite literally) of overweight and unhealthy children as they watch what we do and this ultimately becomes the norm.  I’m just glad the people I am having an impact on see me in my more recent healthy and active life and not what i was in my 20’s, overweight, a heavy binge drinker and smoker!  How times have changed for the better…..

I went, I had a plan, I stuck to the plan – it hurt!

It had been a very up and down week for me post La Santa and wasn’t at all sure how I would do at this race – I really wanted to improve on my 1:45 from Bedford but being as I had thrashed myself for a week in Lanzarote I wasn’t sure how fresh I would feel, but to be fair, my legs were feeling good again by mid week so I was hopeful of a PB. This was a bit of a last minute race as I was gutted that Wokingham half got cancelled due to flooding last month. I definitely wasn’t feeling as ‘race ready’ as I did pre-Wokingham, I was genuinely gutted that race was canceled as I have never felt fitter and stronger than the couple of days leading up to Wokingham, but hey ho!

I stuck to my race plan 100% and I gave it all I had on the day – straight after the race I thought I had given it 100%, now, i’m doing that umming and ahhing thing, what if I could have pushed a little more here and there… well thats human nature isn’t it? I’m very self critical so i’ll never have a ‘perfect race’… theres always something to learn;

Lesson 1 – a sports bra makes a great place to place to stash your shot blocks even if you do look a bit uneven ;o)

Lesson 2 – when its bottles of water at aid station rather than cups, don’t go over the top – I nearly puked twice because I was guzzling it to greedily

Lesson 3 – prepare for the worst when removing socks after a hard run – I had blood blisters the size of 10pence pieces in several places on both feet!

Other than that – amazing day to be running, great race, fairly flat with a couple of hills and a damn evil long hill at the end that I wasn’t expecting, everyone groaned when saw that one looming around a corner!

Got my PB – 1:42:08, a PB by 3+ minutes. Not bad for 2 months work since Bedford!

Happy? Yes, very! And thank you to Musty who coaches me and helps me on a daily basis! I couldn’t make improvements like this on my own, Musty’s advice and training plans are helping me – a lot!

8 of 145 in category

50 of 860 female, that’s top 5% :o)

photo

So now we are about to start the new race season I would like to thank Carvalho custom for agreeing to sponsor me for custom race kit for the 2014.

Carvalho Custom is based in Portugal and is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of custom cycling and triathlon clothing and other team sports kit.  Having raced in Carvalho kit last year I am very happy that are they are supporting me in the 2014 race season as I am already comfortable with the quality and performance of their kit and I’m very excited to have been working with them on the design of my new kit in the last few months.

I would like to thank Sport Pursuit for supporting me with most of my kit requirements last year and having helped me out with trainers, wetsuits, bike equipment and kit etc for the coming year… however, as Sports pursuit are taking a different direction with sponsorship for the new season I was grateful of the offer from Carvalho to work with them for the 2014 season.

That now completes my sponsorship for 2014, Azione for a great race bike and cycling support, Advanced Tri Fuel for my nutritional requirements. Back on track physio continues to support me by providing regular sports massage and lots of useful physio and injury prevention advice and now to complete that package I have my kit coming from Carvalho.

So excited for the coming season……..

carvalho logo

http://www.carvalhocustom.com/

La Santa

Having spent a week cycling in Majorca last spring I was well aware of the endurance gains a full week of training away from work and home commitments can make to your early pre season fitness. This year I was very lucky to be treated to a week away to Club La Santa which Is superbly situated on the north west coast of Lanzarote.  The terrain of Lanzarote is best described as undulating. There aren’t so many of the never ending 10% gradient switch back climbs that I experienced in Majorca last year but I have to admit to having never known a place like Lanzarote for its ability to have only up and down – no flat seems to exist there at all!

The scenery out there is amazing.  I’m a huge fan of the lush green mountains you find in Scotland and the French Alps so for me to be completely breath taken by the stunning volcanic, but very baron landscapes of Lanzarote was actually quite a surprise.

Coastal road below Tamanfaya

Coastal road below Tamanfaya

I spent a large amount of the week training alone and this was great training for both the physical and mental aspects of going out on 3hr runs or 6+hr cycles back home as we get into pre season.    One of the rides I really enjoyed and repeated more than once was a ride deep into the Tamanfaya national park and down to seaside village of el Golfo. The route I took, takes in a lot of typical Lanzarote farmland before hitting the vast lava fields of the national park and finally onto some amazing coastal roads around the South West of the Island. I would say of the Ironman man bike leg this has to be the most fascinating scenery.

Tamafaya national park - lava fields were impressive

Tamafaya national park – lava fields were impressive

As for running – I have to admit, la Santa has totally trumped Majorca as far as my preference for off road running is concerned. Around half a mile from club la Santa is a dirt track that takes you up to Cuchillo up a nice steady hill which gradually changes from dirt track to sand.  A small almost hidden fork in this dirt track then heads you out to a road crossing between Soo and Munique. Once you cross the road (I called it the temple of doom road, as it reminded me from a scene from Indiana jones where the sands where blowing over the road from the desert) your into the El Jable desert.

Temple of doom Road!

Temple of doom Road!

Small tracks in the sand fork off in all directions and you can easily run for 2-3hr without seeing another soul (apart from goats and a single goat herder). The desert running here was amazing – I really loved it and will miss that more than the cycling once back home.

Amazing scenery in El Jable desert

Amazing scenery in El Jable desert

The pool at La Santa is 50m which means your average 1hr swim set zooms by. Most of  my swims were before breakfast but I had one mid afternoon and was very Impressed with the facilities and the lack of crowding in lanes. Just had to get used to the fact that everywhere apart from the UK swims anticlockwise in all lanes – unlike our preference for alternating directions in lanes. There is a huge sea lagoon too but this seems to attract more wind surfers and kayakers that open water swimmers so my wetsuit never got unpacked.

Mid afternoon at the 50m pool

Mid afternoon at the 50m pool

If you are new to road cycling or not very confident I would opt for Majorca over Lanzarote for cycling simply as the wind here literally has you swerving all over the road on the windier days. I’m not the most technically proficient cyclist on skinny wheels (as an ex downhill MTB’er I’m more used to jumps and drops than high speed) and riding a Tri bike with very deep section frame meant on 2 days I’m actually not afraid to say I was really scared! One ride in particular the wind seemed to whip up over lunchtime and hit over 12m/sec which doesn’t sound that fast, but when you take into account descending at around 35-40mph between mountains and the funnelling effect of the wind as it’s gusts between mountain peaks and then lulls again this lead to me literally being blown into the wrong side of the road at one point which was very scary but even that didn’t my get my heart racing as much as when a passing bus driving very fast In the opposite direction created a kind of vortex about 20m afterwards and sent me flying into the barrier, luckily it was a glancing touch of the barrier but made me realise, another half inch and i would have been over the barrier and into the ditch which was quite a way down. Even climbing at low speed, there was a section of road with a deep drop over the side and the number of times I was blown to within a inch or so of the barriers there was scary. Needless to say I was very pleased to get home that day in one piece and celebrated with a beer!

The lagoon

The lagoon

Now I’m sat typing this blog on the plane home I feel very sad.  I think getting away from the stresses of home and work and training to that intensity for a week can have quite an emotional effect on you and I’m sad to be leaving Lanzarote but very happy to be heading home to see my little hairy companion Chilli and her friend and my current ‘dog lodger’ Ellie.  I guess I’m very fortunate though, not everyone has the ability to drop everything and jet off for a week training and for that I am truly thankful. I also have to thank Will for inviting me on this holiday and giving me the opportunity to thrash myself for a week. Hopefully this will have given me an extra bit of endurance ready for my ‘warm up’ race in Majorca before the big one of 2014, Ironman Austria.

Roll on May for the next ‘boot camp’ in the like district with my Tri club friends!

Triathlon Bloggers open day @Total Fitness Nottingham

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Martin at TFN inviting me to an open day at the shop and to have a complimentary bike fit from SpeedHub.  Having had a Retul bike fit transform my riding on my training bike last year, I jumped at the chance to accept this offer as I’ve recently had some changes made to my race bike including a new Adamo attack saddle and wanted to ensure I was going to be racing in a fully aero but sustainable position.

My new race bike - not seen the light of day yet with such a bad winter!

My new race bike – not seen the light of day yet with such a bad winter!

I got to the shop just before noon on saturday and had a nice chat with Martin and he introduced me to the owner of the shop Mark Redwood.  Mark told me a little about the history of TFN, which as a relative newbie to triathlon still I found it very interesting.

TFN opened its doors for the first time in April of 1996, started by 4 like minded friends who had struggled to find anywhere to buy their triathlon kit all in one place. The original premises in Nottingham were small but as the years went on TFN steadily grew and what had started as more of a hobby became a serious business. In 1999 TFN were one of the first shops to get a dedicated e-commerce website. In 2001 they moved to the current Beeston location.

The TFN race team has been influential in local and national races for years, TFN have previously supported up and coming triathletes and over the years such huge names as Jodie Swallow, Andy Tarry and Tom & David Bishop have started their careers with TFN. They have won numerous national titles over the years and intend to keep us this standard.

The whole team and TFN were very friendly and helpful during the day and mid way through the afternoon it was my turn for a full Retul bike fit with Tim from Speedhub.  The retul bike fits takes many measurements using little LED style tags on your body and a camera type gadget to pick up the signals, this paired with Tims experienced eye and knowledge of both road / TT and triathlon riding can give you the best fit for both aerodynamics but also, and more importantly for me, something that is sustainable for the ironman distances I will be covering.

camera 009

I about to set off to La Santa for a training week on my race bike, and Tim has kindly offered for me to have a follow up fit after I’ve put some serious miles in to get a feel for the new more aggressive position will be in on my race bike.

Tim setting me up - this was before my position was brought forward

Tim setting me up – this was before my position was brought forward

If you have haven’t already checked out the website for TFN i can highly recommend you do so, and if you live locally, its well worth a visit, they have a huge amount of stock in store to browse and its much as ordering on online is convenient, when it comes to things like wetsuits you cant beat going into a store and trying a load on.  Check out the website for brands and models….

http://www.tfn.uk.com/

http://www.speedhub.co.uk

Thanks to Mark and his team for a great day!

So this weekend was my second 24hr MTB event. The first one of these I did several years ago was based in the midlands during the peak of summer – very different to what I experienced this weekend!

The event history from their website 

The Strathpuffer started in 2005 – it was meant to be a one off local event but somehow nine years later we have a national event with a legendary status.

Over the years we have had every possible type of weather conditions – gales that blew away our marquee, iced roads, 2ft of snow the week before the event, temperatures down to minus 10 degrees, rain, hail and even sunshine . . . . you get the picture but then if we insist on staging a 24 hour event in the Highlands of Scotland in the middle of winter what do we expect?

We now attract competitors from all over the world – probably because we were included in the US Bike magazines top 10 toughest Mountain Bike events on the planet – and we are widely recognised as the event every decent mountain biker needs on his palmares.

The Race 

My brother lives only a few miles from the race venue so he knows the forest and the trails really well, I’ve ridden part of the puffer trail a couple of times over the last few years but I’ve ran it more often than I’ve ridden it.  My brother and his friends went to pitch the tent and park the transit van (my personal changing room!) on Friday afternoon and then we all went along at 8am on Saturday morning to set up and get ready to race. We had a tent with a stove and a gazebo with bike maintenance stand etc for repairs and brake pad changes etc.

Base camp!

Base camp!

Burt was to take the first lap, then myself, Leigh then finally my brother and the plan was to keep this order for the 24hr period.  The weather was great – for the highlands, first couple of laps were still quite icy but the trails thawed during the day, but the rain started so it got very muddy.  The format of the race means there is 17hrs of darkness – and i haven’t done much night riding at all so I knew my dark laps would be a lot slower.

First lap done - the smiles say it all!

First lap done – the smiles say it all!

My first lap was a 47min, followed by 50mins, 56mins (first one with lights), 57mins, 59mins and a 63mins for my final lap at 4:30am by which point i think i was seeing double and imagining all sorts in the dark….during my 6th lap it was obvious that time wise we would have time for 3 of the members to do a 7th lap – as the only female member, i kindly offered my 7th lap to my brother as he would missed a final lap if i had gone out for my 7th – i pretended i was doing this as i knew he would never hear the end of it if he was the only lad not to do a 7th but in truth i was worried i would have a bad crash if i did another one as i was having all kinds of silly mistakes on my last lap, and my self preservation kicked in!

Returning from second lap on the long fast last descent

Returning from second lap on the long fast last descent

Our teams fastest lap was a 40mins put in my brother, a very respectable lap time.

Me and my brother - thanks  for asking me to join your team Michael.

Me and my brother – thanks for asking me to join your team Michael.

Overall we placed 40th mixed quad team out of 85 – not bad for a mixed ability team doing it for fun.

Congratulations due to my sister in law who took part in an all female team, they placed 2nd out of 4 female teams so came home with some goodies too! Well done Kate and team.

Lady and the Saddle Tramps - placed 40th!

Lady and the Saddle Tramps – placed 40th!

The whole weekend was amazing and i can highly recommend these 24h events – great fun if you can survive 24hrs of no sleep whilst doing a fairly technical MTB 7miler at regular intervals – certainly redefined ‘interval’ training for me!

Been there, done that!

Been there, done that!

The Fourth Discipline of Triathlon

I have heard many times as recovery being termed the fourth discipline of triathlon.  Many people talk about recovery runs, swims, rides, stretching, consumption of protein shakes etc. as recovery but what i’m going to discuss here is just plain recovery – i.e., rest and things we can do to speed up the recovery process (although obviously low intensity recovery training does that also).

I decided to write this blog whilst sitting in my cold bath cooling my legs after my long run on Saturday morning. I haven’t partaken in ice baths for about a year, but did so a lot during training for my first marathon and for some reason stopped it during the peak of my ironman training last year and i cant fathom why?  So anyway, after a couple of very hard run sessions in the last week and a couple of very poor sessions on the bike due to unrecovered leg muscles, I decided on Friday night I was going to give ice baths a try again for a couple months and see how it helps my recovery.

What Happens to your Body During Recovery?

Most coaches would say that building recovery time into a training program is crucial because it is in this time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery can also allow the body to replenish energy stores and thus repair some tissue damage. Any form of exercise can causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores in the muscle as well as fluid loss. For these stores to be replenished sufficiently and to allow tissue repair to occur, the body must be allowed to recover. Problems from overtraining can often occur from a lack of recovery time. Signs of overtraining which most of us will have experiences at some point can also include an increased risk of injury, among others.  For me personally, reducing this risk of injury is or prime importance – hence my new found interest in speeding up recovery in any way possible.

So the question / focus of this blog;

Does a post-exercise ice bath help recovery?

I'm sure this is good for us!!

I’m sure this is good for us!!

 

My latest ‘google’ research shows that;

Taking an after exercise plunge in an ice water bath (12 to 15 degrees ice water) is a common practice among many elite athletes as a way to recover faster, and reduce muscle pain and soreness after intense training sessions or competitions. From elite runners like Paula Radcliff to nearly all professional rugby players, the ice bath is a standard routine. In addition to the ice bath, some athletes use and contrast water therapy (alternating between cold water and warmer water) to get the same effect.

So, what’s behind the ice bath and does it really work?

The Science Bit! 

The theory behind ice baths is related the fact that intense exercise actually causes microtrauma, or tiny tears in muscle fibres. This muscle damage not only stimulates muscle cell activity and helps repair the damage and strengthen the muscles but it is also linked with DOMS (delayed onset muscle pain and soreness) which occurs between 24 and 72 hours after exercise.

The ice bath is thought to:

• Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid out of the muscles

• Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes

• Reduce swelling/inflammation and tissue breakdown

Although there is no current protocol regarding the ideal time and temperature for cold immersion routines, most athletes or trainers who use them recommend a water temperature between 12 to 15 degrees Celsius and immersion times of 5 to 10 and sometimes up to 20 minutes.  Again – my personal preference is cold water – not iced water (although I did try using old 2 litre milk bottles of frozen water to chill the bath prior to getting in, I found this was so cold I could barely stay in 2 mins, so my own protocol involves water closer to 8-12degrees (depending on time of year, its pretty chilly at the mo!), and i stay in for 10 minutes (after having a hot shower first to wash)

The Scientific Research

There are loads of peer reviewed studies out there that have tried and tested the hypotheses, a few are listed below in references but I’m not going to bog this blog down in the details – for me, it seems to work, and the evidence shows it does work for a lot of people, some it doesn’t.  The evidence un-equivocally shows there is certainly no negative effects from using cold water therapy, so even if there is only a placebo effect – it it works for me, it works!

Cold Water Therapy – How to Do It

Cold Water Immersion

If you are going to try cool or cold water immersion after exercise, don’t overdo it. Ten minutes immersed in 15 degree Celsius water should be enough time to get the benefit and avoid the risks. I find that getting showered first then wrapping your upper body in a very arm fleece you can sit in a cold bath covering your legs quite comfortably for 10mins. I usually take a hot coffee in with me and my iPhone and before you’ve even finished a couple of emails and looking at twitter, bingo, 10 mins is up!

Whether the science supports the ice bath theory or not, many athletes swear that an ice bath after intense training helps them recover faster, prevent injury and just feel better – and I’m one of them (if you can cal me an athlete) so I’m going to give it the the next few months and see how I get on!

cold-therapy_main

 

References

Vaile, J.; Halson, S.; Gill, N.; Dawson, B., Effect of Hydrotherapy on Recovery from Fatigue. Int’l J. Sports Medicine, July 2008.

Kylie Louise Sellwood, et al. Ice-water immersion and delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomized controlled trial Br. J. Sports Med., Jun 2007.

Vaile JM, Gill ND, Blazevich AJ. The effect of contrast water therapy on symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Aug;21(3):697-702.

I am pleased to announce I will be partnered with Race Force for the coming race season.

“We are active triathletes with a passion for bikes providing a tried & tested bike transport service, race wheels rental & race beds at event locations for all budgets. We’re here to make getting to the start line easier”

http://www.raceforce.co.uk/

 

Raceforce - Logo

One small step at a time……

So it appears that most blogs I have read in the past few days are either about the last year or the coming year – thoughts, achievements, aspirations etc. All very thought inspiring stuff and very interesting to read but as way of doing something a little different myself, I thought I would reflect back on the little steps that I’ve taken over the last couple years to get me to where I am today in terms of my triathlon achievements and ambitions.

These are the 10 most important steps that have got me to where I am today (in triathlon terms not all my life) – many, many more small steps are still to be taken, but life is an on ongoing project and you have to the enjoy it one day at a time without trying to jump to complete your goals too quickly

Step 1 – Move 300 miles away from home to start a new life ‘Down South’

Back in 2011 I decided to change jobs and move down south to have a new life away from the NE and to be with my then partner, who was from the London area.  With this move I joined a new gym and I decided it would be a good idea to mix up my usual gym based routine with attempting to swim.  A couple of months of doggy paddle and weird ‘head above the water’ breast stroke later I decided this wasn’t going anywhere fast.

Step 2 – Sink or swim

By way of giving myself a reason to learn to swim, I booked onto a woman’s only triathlon with my good mate Lisa. I booked 3 swim lesson at my local gym, which gave me enough confidence to put my head underwater and start to do something resembling front crawl.  I managed to get around the 400m swim on the triathlon half as FC and half as doggy paddle/ breast stroke.  This was a massive achievement for me, and both Lisa and I were over the moon at completing our first triathlon together.  A day I will never forget, the emotion of crossing the crossing the fish line with our hands held together up high, a personal and joint Triumph for us both.

shockabs 12

Step 3 – Join a Tri club

Immediately after crossing the finish line with my friend – I knew | had to do more of this Triathlon thing!  I got home and started looking up triathlon clubs. That’s when I found out about Shires Triers and joined them for help and advice (http://www.shirestriers.co.uk). Through this club I have met some amazing people and the majority of my friends down in the South of the country I have met through the club – some of which I now class as my closest circle of friends.

Step 4 – Lose weight, get Healthy

Some of my new friends from the triathlon club had been commenting on getting leaner and losing weight by using a nutritionist’s advice.  I wanted to know more about who this ‘Sally’ was and what the plan involved, so I asked about the plan and emailed Sally myself to register.  Sally runs a business called Fitnaturally, the whole ethos of Fitnaturally is built on the foundations of eating delicious, natural foods and using the natural environment for training and exercise (http://www.fitnaturally.co.uk)

Through using Sal’s plans and advice I managed to lose a whopping 2 stone and shave off 9% body fat, I truly believe this weight loss is responsible for a lot of the extra speed I gained in running and cycling over the last 2 years.

The Before and After results from FitNaturally

The Before and After results from FitNaturally

Step 5 – First ‘Races’

In Spring of 2012 I entered the local RAF Halton Sprint triathlon. This was a pool based swim with an open road cycle and mainly off road/trail but flat run around the base of RAF Halton. This was to be the first triathlon I had ‘raced’ because during my first ladies only tri, me and my friend waited for each other after the swim and then cycled and ran together as a pair, back then we we wanted to simply survive a triathlon regardless of time.  Admittedly the Halton event was a very small local event and not a ‘high calibre athlete’ event, but I was over the moon with winning a £50 voucher as 3rd female and being 1st in my AG. In 2012 I also competed in my first Olympic distance races and a road marathon – in all of which I was very proud of my achievements and times.

My first (and only so far) triathlon prize - £50!

My first (and only so far) triathlon prize – £50!

Step 6 – Go Long…..

Most of the people in my Tri Club have done, or plan to do Ironman distance races, so it was only a matter of time before this rubbed off on me, so having completed 2 Sprints and 2 Olympic distances in 2012 I decided 2013 would be the year to go long!  I entered Wimbleball Ironman70.3 with a promise to myself that if I got around it relatively unscathed, I would go full distance and book Ironman Austria for 2014.  A few weeks before doing Wimbleball, I won a competition by Sport Pursuit (http://www.sportpursuit.com), where the prize was a place at IMUK!  This kind of threw a spanner in the works as it meant I couldn’t ‘race’ Wimbleball full out, as It wouldn’t give me time to taper enough for IMUK.  So at this point I enlisted the help of a coach and he recommended using Wimbleball as a long training day and practice for IMUK.  I successfully got around Wimbleball – although it hurt and I’ve promised to go back another year as I can say for sure that Wimbleball got the better of me that day; so I owe that race an ass kicking when I’m faster! None the less, I came 12th in AG and was 56th female, which I was quite pleased with for my first long race.  A few weeks later came IMUK; I was really looking forward to this as it gave me a practice at full IM distance before doing Austria next year in 2014. Again, I got around the race, learnt many, many valuable lessons that day and am still very proud of myself when i think about crossing the finish line.

IM UK finish line picture

IM UK finish line picture

I am fortunate enough to have this memory filmed by Sport pursuit so I never forget that crossing the finish line feeling. I again came 12th in my AG and was 44th female so was very pleased with my performance that day.

(http://www.sportpursuit.com/blog/tag/team-sportpursuit-ironman)

Step 7 – Get a coach

So as mentioned in step 6, I decided that if I didn’t have someone structuring my training and looking over me and guiding me, I was en-route to blowing up!  My training ethos had previously just been the more hours, the better! No structure, some hill reps but limited interval work and definitely not enough rest; one of the more experienced guys at my club is a qualified coach and has done many Ironmans himself.  He had previously given me some advice for my first marathon so he was an obvious choice and kindly agreed to be my coach. I trusted him 100% and he helped me get PBs and massive technical improvements in all 3 disciplines. I am very appreciative of the help and support and he gives me and respect him for the knowledge imparts on me.

Step 8 – Race, Rest and Recover

An important part of what my coach (Musty) has taught me is that recovery and rest are crucially important to endurance training. I now have a rest day almost every week and having had some injuries coming out of the 2013 race season, I now know that sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pull out of races if you don’t feel in perfect health. Aiding my rest and recovery now is also a great sports masseuse and physiotherapist – Claire Doherty, MD of back on track physio.  She sponsors me by providing regular spots massage and advice. (http://backontrack-physio.co.uk)

A much needed treatment from Claire

A much needed treatment from Claire

Step 9 – Enjoy the off-season

Like everything in life – ‘all work and no play, makes Allie a very dull girl’.

YES, to get faster you have to work hard, and YES this involves a lot of hours of training, but NO – you don’t have to beast yourself for 12 months of the year, and NO – you don’t have brag about how many hours training you’ve done a week, how hard you ‘smashed yourself today’ and how many miles you ‘thrashed’ out on the turbo….. there is a balance to life and there is enough time to brag about your mileage and how much you can punish yourself once into pre-race season. Why not get some base training in and enjoy the lies in, spending more time with friends and family (or in my case Will and the dogs).  There seem to be too many people afraid to have a drink or a mince pie (or 6) over the festive period because it might affect their performance in 6 months time.  It might, but its very unlikely to, and each to their own, but I actually want to have a life outside of work and triathlon too – at least for a few months of the year ;o)

We all know a 'Jack'

We all know a ‘Jack’

Step 10 – Be thankful

Finally and perhaps most importantly, be thankful; not just for what you have within your triathlon life, but also outside of it.  Within Triathlon, I’ve ben very fortunate to pick up sponsorship this year from the following companies;

Advanced TRI Fuel   http://advancedtrifuel.com

Azione carbon cycles   http://www.azione.cc/

Back on Track Physio   http://backontrack-physio.co.uk

Sports Pursuit   http://www.sportpursuit.com

One more to be announced later in January…

Aside from these companies who are kindly helping me through 2014, I am truly thankful for the friends and family that support me and put up with my moods and tiredness when training and general anti-social nature during race season.  It is your friends and family that are most important in life – if I were to decide to stop Tri tomorrow, they would be still be there for me tomorrow and fill the huge void that would be left if I didn’t train and race.

So here’s to a Happy New Year to one and all – put the negatives behind you, take the positives with you and aim to have the best year that YOU can. It’s your year and your life, aim to be the best person you can be in whatever way is important to you.

Here comes 2014 – its all about being faster than 2013……..

Link  —  Posted: December 31, 2013 in ironman, training, triathlon
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My ‘first’ half marathon experience was back in 2000 (had to find my GNR medal to work out when it was) when I was 23, unfit, fat and didn’t think you had to train for such events! Having taken me a ridiculous time to complete – around 3 hours i’ve decided to erase it from my race results section of my brain and treat this weekend as my first half!

So having looked for something to do after my pelvis locked up and shoulder impingement injuries of late summer were sorted, I saw a member from my Triathlon club (Shires Triers) post this race and thought it would be a good idea to give myself a base half marathon time to work with heading into next season.  Nice and local and the bonus of a cheap entry so seemed perfect.

My primary race goal was simply to get a PB, if I failed that one I would have gone and have hidden in a very dark corner…… my secondary race goal was to go sub 1:50. On Saturday I felt quite ill – sneezing and feeling full of cold, wasn’t sure if it was a cold or dust allergies from doing DiY all day so by 7pm sat night I was thinking this might end up being a training run only and not a race at all, however,  went to bed super early with a lemsip and olbas oil and thankfully woke up on race morning feeling fine.

My race partner for the day was a friend from the Tri club, Robin, for the second time this year, we were both flying the ‘shires triers’ flag at a running event!  We got there nice and early so had ages to put the world to rights and critique the weird and wonderful stretches and poses some people seem to do for warm ups – I even spotted one guy with his foam roller out on the floor of the registration area!

POWERING UP ON ADVANCED TRI FUEL

POWERING UP ON ADVANCED TRI FUEL

My race morning prep simply involved my usual bowl of porridge 3 hours before race and a bottle of Advanced TRI Fuel, slowly sipped during the lead up to the race. As I experienced stomach issues last year I have a new strategy for this coming race season which involves using nothing wheat based as I have a slight intolerance to wheat and discovered that nearly all sports energy sources use wheat based ingredients. For solid energy products this year I am using a combination of Clif products as they use rice and tapioca based sugar syrup rather than wheat derived. They are also much less sweet than the gels and bars I used last year.  For pre-race and during the bike leg of ironman I also needed to find an easily absorbed liquid energy source that was gentle on my stomach and different from I what I have used previously. This is where Advanced TRI Fuel comes into the equation. My friend Tom has been raving about this fuel since we trained together for ironman bolton in the summer but I had already been using certain products over the spring training sessions I didn’t want to swap mid season and try something new, with hindsight I wish I had…….Advanced Tri Fuel delivers a slow release of energy and contains no sugar; instead the HDA starch complex is slowly digested to release a steady stream of energy into the blood giving no stomach distress.

Anyway, back to the race – we both set off nice and easy but I drifted back from Robin almost straight away as knew I had to pace slow and crank up over the event so get a good strong negative split and work out my pacing without crashing and burning early on.

READY TO RACE!

READY TO RACE!

First hour was really comfortable, perhaps a little too comfortable, it felt no different to being out for a normal weekday run, then after 60mins I cranked the pace up, and after 1:30 went all out full steam! I passed the halfway point where they have a big clock and it said 56mins at that point so I knew I had to do a good negative split or I would be over 1:50 and disappointed with myself.  The last 45 mins I was really pushing and that felt great as I do so much low heart rate training its great to get an excuse to go full power!  Finished in 1:45:13 – yes, gutted it was 14secs shy of a sub 1:45 but also happy that I achieved my two race goals of PB’ing and going sub 1:50.  Don’t think ill ever be happy with a race result – I always know there is more I could have done or a few second/minutes faster if I have had done this……

THE FINAL SPRINT TO THE FINISH

THE FINAL SPRINT TO THE FINISH

I came 460 out of 1232 and was 63rd female.  Not bad I guess for me first crack at a half marathon!