Marathon des Sables 2013

Marathon des Sables 2013

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Hairy or shaved legs?

I'll get back to the title of the blog in a minute but I'm happy with how this week has gone having returned from two week holiday.  I'm so pleased I kept up some training on holiday or it might have been an even tougher week.  A combination of the time difference meant most mornings I was awake by 5am, and when building in five full days of work plus 6 days training, it's fair to say it was a tough week.
My physio taped back my shoulder again after another painful massage session but my two swim sessions went well and getting my weight under control means I should be able to squeeze into my wetsuit in May!
On Wednesday I did my first double run session.  10km in the morning and 6 km in the evening - this means less strain on my foot which I am trying to protect.  I was tired when I did the 10km and my heart rate was higher than the target which gave an indication of my fitness/fatigue level.  So when I got home from work I had to drag myself out the door for another run.  And as happens on these occasions, I had my best run this year!  Work that one out.  I was flying and my heart rate was under the target until the last 0.5km when I was really pushing it.  But I felt great.
On Saturday I went out with my pals in ATHelite Tri Club.  I haven't cycled with them since before Ironman last summer.  With changeable weather the big decision was what to wear as you don't want to be too hot or too cold.  I chose 3/4 length cycling tights and as soon as turned up the focus was on my hairy legs.  "Get those shaved" I was instructed.  "They're disgusting" said another.  Cyclists really are a funny bunch.  The guys get their legs waxed or shaved believing it either makes them faster or helps if you come off your bike and get a gravel rash.  I agree with the latter point but I think it's more about vanity.  I've shaved my legs twice before and the only advantage is that it makes a sports massage more pleasant.  But my wife then refers to me as "chicken legs" - you can't win.  I did 65km on a hilly course and know I need many more of these rides before my 70.3 ironman.  It was good to be with the guys as they are supportive during the ride and wait for anyone who drops off in the climbs.  I'll get fitter and there will be less waiting for me in the future but there's a lot of hard miles before then.  So another week closer to the main event and lets see what this week brings.  I don't think it will be shaved legs though!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

42 days and counting

The holiday is over.  After a week in the Maldives in paradice we then flew onto Dubai to meet the children for another 6 days of fun in the sun.  We had a fantastic time enjoying the best Dubai had to offer.  I was really looking forward to my first ever free fall skydive with my two boys but the wind was too strong and it was cancelled.  This was a big thing for me as I was scared of going out the plane - but I wanted to face my fear. Having flown hang gliders and paragliders years ago I was comfortable once out the door, but that intial exit was going to test my mental strength.  I spent the holiday preparing mentally for it and was really up for the challenge when the news came through.
Another of my challenges with being on holiday was to keep the training ticking over, while enjoying a family holiday, and not putting on any weight.  I'm glad to report that I was the same weight this morning as when I left despite all the good food and wine I consumed.
I ran three 11 km early morning runs which were tough in the heat and the humidity.  But it was a great start to the day.  The heat built during the run and the sweat stung my eyes as I ran along the boardwalk on the Palm.  I needed to carry water with me as I recon I'd have been in trouble if I'd gone out without water.  It was good practice for the Grand Caynon although the canyon will be warmer and 11 km isn't even a warm up!
My first event of the year is rapidly approaching - 42 days to be exact.  The Swashbuckler 70.3 in the New Forrest.  I entered the event last year and it was my fastest 70.3 to date.  This years there are 7 of us going down so it will be good to be there with club mates competing.  For me it's just a training day.  The purpose of this event, and another 70.3 6 weeks later, is just to give me something to cross train for (swim/bike/run).  The cross training keeps me fit without putting too much strain on my running.  My foot's been a bit niggly so I need to be careful and not overload it before the canyon.  My shoulder is getting better so I'll be returning to swimming this week - I did a bit on holiday.
This morning I went out for a couple of hours on the bike.  The weather was good for Scotland but a lot cooler than I've been used to recently.  It was good to be back on my summer bike.  I'll get my training schedule through from my coach later today.  I know it's about to get tougher and I'm looking forward to it.  I'm feeling rested from my holiday and now my focus will sharpen with an event around the corner.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Every day is a learning day

I certainly believe that with an open mindset you will achieve more as every day is a learning day.  I've been on holiday for the last week in the most beautiful place I've ever stayed - Gulhi island, The Maldives.  Everyday you wake up in paradise and feel alive.  But I still have to keep the training ticking over as I can't let that slip.  The island itself is so small, perhaps 1km between the farthest points so my running was restricted to the treadmill.  Even in an air conditioned gym your bottle of water is warm by the end so it was a bit of a sweat fest.  3 x 11km and 1 x 5.5 km have worked off the calories from the amazing food on offer.  In between that I have rested a lot, read books, caught up with the "boss (it is our 25th wedding anniversary celebration after all) and enjoyed having no schedule for a change.
While away I decided to try surfing for the first time in my life and as someone who's never stayed on a skateboard for more than a few seconds before taking a tumble, I thought this was a good challenge.  Fortunately there is a lovely couple who run the surf school, Fiona and Josh, and between them I was given a theory lesson before heading out for my first go.  The hour flew by as I demonstrated my disco legs before falling off and the tune in my head was more "Timber" than "Hawaii 50".  But by the end I was managing to get up on the board and stay there so I was hungry to learn more.
The following day we went out into bigger waves and had a three hour session.  What I hadn't realise was the better you get, the farther you travel on the board therefore the further back you have to paddle back on the board.  I must have paddled over 2k which was an unexpected bonus because I'm putting that down as a training session!  In the end I was more Hawaii 50 than Timber and could easily see me going on a surfing holiday (outside of the UK) in the future.  So thank you to Fiona and Josh for their expertise and encouragement.
Learning a news skill or going back to the basics in anything in life is refreshing because it makes you think.  Surfing made me think about my body, my balance and movement which relates to everything we do.  It's just that on a board in the sea, it exadurates the impact of being in the wrong stance/position.  If you haven't tried something new in the last few years, go on.  Get out there and have fun being a beginner again.  I remember well when I did karate why the club was called Shoshin.  It stood for "beginners mind".  "In the mind of the beginner there are many possibilities.  In the mind of the expert there are few".  I hope you're all having a fantastic learning day.  Let's see what I can learn tomorrow when I return from paradise.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

82 seconds

My blog over the last 8 years has not only covered my adventures but occasionally takes time out to reflect on life, without being judgemental.  This weeks events in London sent a shiver through the country as it made us realise just how precious life is.  In 82 seconds many families have been affected and I hope they realise that millions of people are holding them in their thoughts today.
I was thinking this over as I was cycling today in probably the best day (weather wise) of the year so far.  Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be out in beautiful countryside, the sun shining, the birds singing and breathing in fresh air.  It doesn't get much better than that.
It also made me think about the point of these adventures, the training and the blog.  At the end of the day it doesn't make that much difference in the bigger picture.  But then I realised that if we all thought like that then "they", the ones who commit despicable acts, would have won - they would have changed our lives.
So I am going to carry on as normal and write about how I've got my weight almost back to normal and my fitness is now starting to come through.  I've had a great weeks training with three fantastic runs where I wasn't breathing out my arse, and a bike ride where I wasn't struggling to hang onto the handlebars through fatigue.  The last three weeks of structured training have given me a base to build on and I want to thank my coach for her expertise in getting me there.  Sure there is a hell of a long way to go but the last three weeks have proved what is possible.  Live life to the full and take time out to smell the roses - I actually stopped to take a picture of a new born lamb with her mother!  After all it's Mothers Day so let's celebrate.  Have a fantastic week and if it's a tough one just focus on your breath and appreciate how lucky you are.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A tailwind

After last weeks post someone mentioned to me that they were surprised by the last blog - it wasn't as "uplifting" as normal.  I explained the blog is meant to be realistic, it's a journal for me to reflect on in the future, and training has it's ups and downs.  You just have to pick yourself up and get on with it.  The Chinese saying that success is falling down seven times and getting up eight.  I like that approach.
This week was my 3rd week of structured training under the supervision of my coach.  I definitely work harder when I am held accountable for the results and having an expert lay out the weekly plan means all I have to do is follow it.  Some people like to analyse the results.  I don't bother.  I report back how I'm feeling and she makes the necessary amendments.  This definitely works for me.
Over and above the running and cycling I tried my first real swimming session since Ironman.  It was painful.  My shoulder obviously has a long way to go.  The slowest 1,000m ever, hurt.  I'm seeing the Physio on Tuesday so here's hoping we can make some progress.
I'm starting to feel the benefit of the structured training; I'm getting fitter but I've a long way to go.  The turbo session on Friday was tough and a sweat fest.  My Chatelherault run on Saturday with "yogi Mark" was bang on the target set but I did need to push myself.
Today I went out cycling on my own and headed out when there was a break in the weather.  The first half of the ride was easy despite the hills but that's because there was a tailwind.  It's the funny thing about cycling that you don't hear the wind when it's behind you, assisting you.  It's like a friend supporting you.  But turning for home the full force of the wind hit me.  As a solo cyclist I had nobody to share the wind with me.  If I'd had a partner out with me we'd have taken turns at the front while the other takes a breather.  But that wasn't an option.  The rain then started to fall.  That's when you have to "shut out" the elements, go into your bubble and focus on each revolution of the pedals.  There is nobody going to help, you just need to keep going.  It's a bit like life when you turn into a headwind.  Know what direction your are heading and why.  Then focus on what needs to be done and get on with it.
In 3 weeks time my mileage will begin to build but at the moment I'm working on getting fitter with each training session, repairing my shoulder and making sure I don't aggravate any other injuries.  Have a great week, appreciate the tailwind and if you meet a headwind - plough on through.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Another week closer to the "A Race" - 195 days to go.  My structured planning is going well.  What a difference it makes having a schedule to follow and be held accountable too - both very important points if you want to achieve a stretching goal.
I'm still just finding my way back to fitness but every training session has an objective and one I'll be measured against.  It works for me.  Like everyone else I'm busy and carving out time isn't always easy.  So as I sit here tonight looking at my diary for next week and then looking at my training schedule I fell like I'm spinning plates.  My coach always tries to take account of my work schedule but you've still got to do the session.  Where ever possible I do the session in the morning as when I finish a days work I'm passed my best.  But having the plan makes all the difference.
My shoulder is still injured and my Physio is working hard to get it sorted but I will attempt a swim this week to see how it feels.  My half ironman is 2 months away but I need to be patient and stick to the plan.  Nothing exciting to report but when you've got a plan that goes over 6 months, a boring week is a good week.  Many miles to crunch so buckle up for the journey.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Doubles all round

Last week I reported that my structured training plan started on Monday, which it did.  It wasn't hectic but involved 4 runs.  I had to combine this with a week where I was away 3 days on business but managed to get the mid-week run in.  It felt good to complete the plan and all targets set were hit.
I did back to back runs at the weekend which is something that is now the norm as I build up my fitness and distance.  I returned to Chatelherault on Saturday and it wasn't long before I was off the back of the group, but I had my plan and was sticking to it.  46 minutes was the target for the lap and the previous week I'd have been over 50, but it was achievable.  A fast start led to a slower section as I regained my breath so I knew I had to press on in the second half which I did.  I dug deep and completed the run with 31 seconds to spare - tick!  What a difference from the previous week even though I was tired from having been away.
Today it was just me and my coach for a 10 k with a target set for the pace.  She pushed me really hard knowing I was running on tired legs.  In order to get better results you have to push through that point where you'd like to take a seat and recover.  It doesn't feel nice but I've been there before and know it's got to be done.  Target pace achieved over the 10 k - tick!
When I was resting this afternoon I was lucky enough to see Laura Muir win her 2nd gold medal of the weekend - the 3,000m.  A stunning performance leaving the competition for dead despite having won the 1,500m the day before - a double.  Congratulations Laura.  Her approach to training and competing is so disciplined and she pushes herself so hard.  It's inspirational.  A reminder to me as I start to build the training.  So doubles all round this weekend although we're in a different universe, but have one thing in common - we love running.