Monday, 3 December 2012

Preparing for the Mud Man trail run

Technically, it's expected to be 'sodding freezing' this Saturday and for some reason I had a knee jerk reaction and I've signed myself up for a Mud Man 12km trail run. They have duathlons on at the same time too, but for now, a jog in the woods is all I need.

Pirbright, hell on an ice cube

Having spent some time in the Army I've familiarised myself with the ups and downs of the Army Training Centre at Pirbright. And I can certify, when the weather is cold and wet and you are too, it's a horrible place to be. But it's also a place that can be conquered!

Here's the course. Looks pretty easy, but every few hundred metres there's a 50 metre hill to get over. The hard part though is that it's slippery and there's puddles everywhere and then there's the sand that gets in your boots and kit. Not to mention the wind which funnels along the trail roads. All in all it's a drill sargeants idea of heaven.

At least this time I won't be running it with a pack and rifle!

Preparing for the trail run

It's only 12km, but I'm paying for this and I want to enjoy it at least. So kit choices are crucial.

It's just so happened that I've just bought myself some new running gear. Sports Direct clobber, which is cheap and cheerful, but whilst I don't expect it to last, I will expect it to keep me warm(er).

Kit list

This is what my kit list will look like for the day.
  • Long sleeve t-shirt
  • Vest
  • Thermal running tights (3/4 length)
  • Over-shorts
  • Long socks (compression)
  • Trail trainers
  • Gloves and hat (optional)
  • Talc (for putting in socks)
  • Vaseline for lips, hands and nipple
  • First aid kit
  • Compeed blister plasters
  • Water-proof jacket

Preperation - don't forget about your feet

Apart from trying to keep warm before the off, my feet will be the items I'll be trying to look after the most. I may even apply vaseline to my toes before I go and then tape up my heels and soles too. This is what I've done many a time whilst running this course in boots and although trainers have more give, you're still just as likely to get blisters and sprains etc.

After the event; eat, drink and be merry!

It's important to ensure you can get warm quickly and that you can get some food down your neck. I'll be bringing lots of water, a few flapjacks and a chicken sandwich (on brown bread like a good boy).

Monday, 26 November 2012

Running with a Dalmatian: first thoughts

I've always wanted to run with a dog. Letting them off the leash to run together through field and forest. Best buds going hell for leather, playing along the way.

I never expected it to be a reality if I'm honest. But, when my wife finally agreed to get a get a dog (a life long dream of mine), she set my expectations that it would likely be a collie-cross or a unique looking mongrel with as much oompfh as, as well something with very little oompfh. Little did either of us expect to find ourselves with a delightful 10 month old Dalmatian.

Running with Chewie, our dalmatian

Is tiring. On a walkies on a leash, I ran about 100 metres at about 14kmph; I was heaving. The dog on the other hand was disgruntled that I had brought her up to a 'trot', but quickly settled back into a sniff around once I'd stopped.
That's 1-0 to the dog.

But it has got me thinking about what the possibilities are. I would love to go camping with the dog, run snowdon or perhaps even do a 'Cani-cross', like the ones I found on But I think it's going to take some time before I can even run around the local farm or field with her.

Caution and planning are unexpectedly important

Being new to a dog and the responsibility of ownership I do feel like it's something that will have to wait. I need to trust the dog and vice versa. And also a lot like my training, I need to know what food and water does to her. I need to know whether she even likes running, the cold, the rain and whether she'll return if I call her.

I don't suppose a lot of these things will fall into place all that quickly, and having read a blog post from That Mutt about running with dogs, I've found out age is another concern. It's not something I thought about to be honest, but she's only 10 months old and probably hasn't fully developed yet. So I need to do my research and plan ahead. But I can't deny it's an exciting possibility that one day her and I might be off somewhere running wild or mad, or perhaps even competing in a Cani-cross event.

But for now, she's content with looking sweet and licking everything that moves.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

2013 Cannondale Trail 29ER review

After an accident with a car exhaust which wasted most of my morning, I managed to get out for an hour on my new 2013 Cannondale Trail 29er.

Riding conditions were fair. It had recently rained and the ground was wet, but there was no standing water. The ride took me over roads, farm fields and fire-roads. No single-track and nothing particularly taxing.

The only highlights were a particularly enjoyable descent half way round and then also avoiding the curses and walking stick of an old man enraged that I was riding along his pathway. Here's the Garmin data.

First ride impressions

I'll keep this simple and just fire out what came to mind.
  • Front end is massively stiff!
  • Bigger wheels really do help you roll along better and keep your speed
  • Mountain King 2 tires clog up with mud way too quickly (a poor upgrade choice?) ...
  • ... 2.2 tires are also slightly too wide for general XC work
  • The gear is pretty easy for most flat work, but proved pretty good for the hills
  • Going downhill on this thing is a hoot
  • Like all bikes, it should be set-up for it's rider before you ride
  • Saddle is alright, but there's a lot better out there
  • Brakes work and rarely squeak, but they're not as powerful as hydraulics (obviously)
  • My wrists hurt a little bit after going over some rough ground ...
  • ... but that could be to do with 50psi tire pressures
  • Looking forward to getting out on it again
More feedback to come as I ride her more, but so far it looks promising, although I can't help but wait for summer hardpack - this thing will fly!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

If transporting a bike by car, watch out for the exhaust

What a car exhaust will do to an inner tube
I found out the hard way, but whenever you're transporting a bike on the back of a car, make sure the wheel, or in fact any part of the bike, is not directly over the exhaust. It's common sense really, but something I missed today.

What happened in my case is that I secured the wheel so that it wouldn't rotate and the very bottom of the wheel was directly over the exhaust. The tire pressure was quite high, about 50psi and with the tire not able to move, the above picture is what greeted when after a 20 minute car journey.

It's never happened to me before, but because this was the first time I was moving a 29er bike with much larger wheels and on my small MINI, it just wasn't to be.

Next time I'll be taking the wheel off and putting it in back of the car. Worth thinking about if you're putting a new bike on the back of your car too.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The obsession of Park Tools

I love using Park Tools. It's the trust in the quality of their bike tools that makes servicing a bike enjoyable. And in my own experience I've proven to myself and others that if you don't have the right bike tool, whether that's fit or quality, you're going to have trouble.

That's the pragmatic and objective view.

The other view, which is the driver that makes me spend money with them, is that I love the blue. I love collecting them and I like having workshop quality tools to hand. I like being able to take something apart knowing I've got all the right tools. And I actually hate that I have some sub-par non-Park Tools in my tool-kit.

How childish and silly really. But then, I have 4 bikes in my garage and I can't possibly ride all of them at once. In fact, I haven't ridden one in nearly a year and I've spent more than £3,000 on it. And I have two road bikes, one of which I'll probably never need to ride again. I keep it because it looks beautiful in red with white highlights.

Waste of money or part of the hobby experience?

I'd no doubt agree with my wife that buying a branded bike tool when a local DIY stores version is of at least the same quality, if not better, is a waste of money. Although another part of me says no, the value and enjoyment of owning a set of tools is at least worthy of a premium over other tools.

I'm not so resourceful that I can't ignore my tools whilst getting on with the job and I'm not so focused on making repairs so that I can ride the bike again as quickly as possible. I enjoy repairing bikes, changing and upgrading parts and I love tinkering to see how things work.

In the end, this is me explaining and justifying why I buy Park Tools and perhaps it's simply because I'm a brand loyal elitist, but I enjoy it and that's what counts.

Of course that doesn't explain why I have an inexplicable view that Pedro's tools are scum. Odd that.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 SS photos and first impressions

She's a bute
It's finally mine and she's beautiful.

I've only had a 15 minute ride on her, but I'm already a pleased owner.

When I buy a bike I'm always on the look out for odd angled photos so I can work out what upgrades I can make or what to expect etc. So here's a whole host of random photos taken with my iPhone. Look out for the huge clearance and the rear wheel configuration.

I'll be posting a review soon after my first ride this coming weekend, but for now, here are my first impressions.

Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 first impressions

  • The colour is lovely and it's not something I've seen on many bikes before. It's sure to be unique on the trails
  • It's not too light, but not too hefty either. I can't weigh it, but having owned many single speeds before, this is a 'good' weight, albeit subjective
  • The fork is outstanding, solid yet comfortable and with stacks of mud clearance
  • The 1.5 inch headtube (not tapered) means the front end is rock stable and with just a 15 minute ride under my belt I felt no deflection whatsoever. Really pleased with this
  • The brakes aren't as bad as I thought they'd be. I haven't owned cable disc brakes for nearly 10 years, but they stop me, they don't squeak and I think for the speeds I can expect from this bike they'll do a fine job
  • Levers are Pro-max for Cannondale and feel cheap, but they're solid and offer a good enough level feel
  • Handlebar is quite nice too, although I'm swapping mine out for a new carbon Thomson handlebars (they're currently on back-order)
  • Saddle was nicer than I was expecting and neatly co-ordinates with the bikes colours. So does the seat collar, but I've replaced that with a Thomson model
  • Tires were cheap and nasty and they've been replaced already. They were wire models, relatively heavy and looked like they had no puncture resistance whatsoever. They would however be good on the roads from a rolling resistance perspective
  • The stem that comes with the medium is about 80mm. My new Thomson stem is 75mm and it almost feels too small. The inline post from Thomson as well (yes, I love Thomson stuff :) means the cockpit is quite short
  • The pedals that came with it are tat, dangerous in the wet, but decent enough spares for emergencies or mates bikes
  • The cranks are square taper!? Hoping they last, but I presume the bottom bracket is a cheap Tange model
  • The eccentric bottom bracket was well greased, but I haven't taken it apart yet
  • Grips were nice, with single bolts to keep them on the bars. I've swapped mine for ODI Rogues, but if you like ODI Ruffians, then the originals would be ideal - the bar clamp is also in matching colours to the bike
  • There are no gear tabs for cables or mechs
  • The brakes have full outer cables on them, front and rear - in white, which is 'fetching'
  • It sure is purty
I'll get out on it at the weekend and will share my thoughts again.

Note the huge clearance

I'm 5'11" with a 31" inside leg and a medium is perfect
The frame looks tiny, but it's just the massive wheels

No mech guides. Massively stiff bottom bracket shell

Rear wheel is solid. Dishless too I think. 20t cog

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Breakfast of champions

80% of potential weight loss is your diet

The rest is the production of muscle to increase your metabolic rate and burn whatever it is that you eat. Pretty simple I guess.

I read in an Outdoor Fitness article recently about a good breakfast. They couldn't find one off the shelf, but they did have a suggestion of making your own breakfasts. Here's the meal that they suggested.

It's light enough for before a workout, but flexible enough that you can add more for a post-workout meal.


  • Oats 56g
  • Whey protein 15g
  • Chia seeds 3g
  • Flax seeds 3g
  • Almonds 3g
  • Cocoa nibs 2g
  • Dried blueberries 8g
  • Honey 8g
  • Cinnamon 1g
The above equates to (for 100g):
  • 20g of protein
  • 50g of carbs
  • 11g of fat

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

New training programme: achieving the awesome

The horse stance (not me)
My personal trainer and good friend in no uncertain words said that if I continue along my current training path I will achieve more, but I will never reach my potential.

Strong words, but readily understood and now accepted.

I've spent so much time abusing my body by not stretching that it's affected my posture and my ability to complete even the most basic of moves. For example, I always thought I was good at squats, but even a simple front squat is near impossible for me to complete in perfect form because my hip flexors are so tight. When I tried the same technique with the use of a swiss ball against a wall I felt like I was going to fall forward.

Clearly things need to change and that thing is me.

This does mean that my 5k goal might not happen or I may not complete my ultra marathon this year, but if I change now for the better it means next years goal will be easier to attain.

Here's some of the exercises I need to be performing over the next month:

  • Cable rotations
  • Planks
  • Side planks with rotations
  • Horse stacnce oppostive palm and knee raises

Hip flexors

  • Raised reverse lunge (front foot is high)
  • Stretch hip flexors, lots


  • Lat pull downs
  • Side shoulder raises

  • Take 15 minutes every day to stretch
There's still more exercises to come, but for once I'm not ready to attempt them. Feels odd.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 SS photos

I popped into my local bike shop expecting to only be ordering some new tyres, when lo and behold my new bike catches my eye. It wasn't meant to be in for another week, but there it was.

Boy I was excited! Most of the Thomson equipment had turned up too, except the new Thomson handlebars. They're arriving in the UK next week - there's not stock in the UK, so I might even get one of the first pairs (let's hope they did their quality control!).

So here's a few pics to share. I know when I go to buy a new bike and specifically a single speed, I want to know the exact specs and to check out wheel configurations etc. Whilst these pics aren't great, they do show the bike off in different angles from the usual PR shots.

Also a note on weight and balance. It's light, but not road bike light. I wasn't that impressed. But the balance of the weight across the bike was good. Little heavier at the back, but it did feel a lot more balanced than, well most, front suspension bikes. I liked that. Not sure what benefits it will bring to the ride, but I'll find that out soon.

And it does come with a pair of Cannondale branded flat pedals.

Looking down on the rear wheel. Clearly for those hoping it was a standard wheel so they could easily modify it will be disappointed. This is a single speed specific wheel. Horrible cable brakes, but they do work.Side view of the bike. Note that this is a medium. It looks tiny. The seat post will need to be raised quite a bit to get it just right. I also went for a 75mm stem and I'm wondering whether that might be a little too short for the medium. I'll find out soon enough. An initial ride for literally no more than a minute felt pretty good though.
Straight on the bike looks weird. I wasn't expecting such a gap at the top of the fork, but it does mean in muddy conditions you won't have to worry about clearance. It's a lovely fork too and the headtube looks great as well. My expectations of an 'ugly' and over-sized meeting of the frame and work was completely unfounded. I rather liked it.

Can't wait to use it in anger.

Continental Mountain King 2 29 Protection Black Chili tyres

I ordered a 2013 Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 SS the other day (say that quickly!) and even when I ordered it I took the chance to get some early upgrades in. Mainly Thomson parts. In fact, all Thomson parts.

But, before I've even got the bike I'm looking at other potential upgrades.

Continental Mountain King 2 29 Protection Black Chili

I'll admit up front that I'm a bit of a brand nut. I know what I like and I know what I trust. Continental tyres are used on all my bikes and whilst there may be better out there, they are great for what I do. But I don't skimp, cheap tyres are cheap for a reason.

If you're getting Continental tyres and there's at least some chance you'll be riding in the rain with roots or rocks in your path, then pay the extra and get not only the Black Chili compound, but if you're not worried about weight, get the Protection versions too.

Of course the folding versions will still do a good job, but if you have the cash, tyres are a very important part to how a bike feels on the trail so spend what you can.

But I digress. For my new bike I'm going for the Continental Mountain King 2 29 Protection Black Chili model (in 2.2). I'm asking whether they will get them in stock any time soon, but otherwise a quick Google product search reveals there are other retailers around. But again, I stick with what I know and trust.

And as per my guidance below, I'll also be replacing the tyres and rim tape with continental items, replacing the grips with some ODI's and picking up a set of frankly brilliant Shimano XT SPD pedals. I bet I hate riding a 29er!

What do you need to change on a new bike?

I used to work in a bike shop for a good few years. I grew up loving them and having the opportunity to spend my whole day selling, fixing and talking about them was a boys dream. It taught me a lot about bikes, how to ride and what tricks of the trade are employed to get bikes to a certain price point. It's the same with cars really - do you think they are after market Pirelli's on your new car?

Here's a few things I always like to change on a bike

  • Tyres, tubes and rim tape - they will be the worst tyres you ever buy. I like matching tyres, tubes and tapes (so geeky)
  • Grips - I have my favs (ODI Rogue for rough stuff, ODI Ruffian for XC)
  • Saddle - I have made mine like a sofa, it's coming with me
  • Bottom bracket - they're always crap. Get a good one in there
  • Headset - Again, like the bottom bracket, whatever you can't see is generally not worth seeing
  • Pedals - Get a pair of XT SPDs and you're done (or your own fav brands equivalent)

When you buy a new bike, or at least when I buy a new bike

I have to make a new bike personalised to me as soon as I take delivery, even above and beyond the parts above. Before I even ride it the bike parts are coming off and new shiny bits are being bolted on.

I did this when I bought my Giant Anthem X3 a few years back. Within weeks the only parts that were left the same was the rear wheel and the brakes. And when I talk about replacing everything, I mean everything. When did anyone replace the rim tapes on a brand new £2k machine before really riding it? Barmy!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

2013 Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 SS

I've been lucky enough to order a new bike under my company's benefit scheme. I had £1,000 to spend and this is the beauty I've gone for.

Now I haven't even swung my leg over her yet and it's not even being dispatched until the 15th of this month, but she's a beauty.

I've always loved single speeds, it's the simplicity and the beautiful lines. I also rather like the colour and I've been a big fan of Cannondale bikes for years.

But of course it wouldn't be a Seanie bike if it wasn't upgraded. The bike was a mere £599.99, which gave me £400.01 to spend on upgrades.

In my non-bike life I take ages to decide on something. I'm not rich and I'm known to have pre, during and post shopping dissonance. I simply can't make up my mind if the stakes are high.

However, I breezily spent £361.95 on Thomson components in probably less than 30 seconds. I know my bikes and I love my Thomson gear.

Thomson gear

  • Stem (1.5" diameter x 75mm length)
  • Handlebar (730mm x 12mm rise x 31.8mm diameter)
  • Stem cap (1.5" diameter)
  • Masterpiece seat post (31.6mm diameter x 330mm length)
  • Seat collar (34.9mm diameter)

Thomson really know their stuff. I'm not going to lie that I'm a little disappointed that the carbon handlebar I've ordered is made in Taiwan rather than the rest of their US manufactured aluminium components, but if the colour matches, yes I'm that fickle, then I'm happy.

Once I've got everything I'll give it a full review.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

I'm a half Ironman

It’s been a while since I last posted. A little remiss of me really. In the time I’ve been gone, I’ve done a load of other half marathons, lots of swim training and completed a half Ironman in the US.

I was also lucky enough to be able to buy a new bike, a friend bought me an awesome new watch and he was even awesome enough to a) let me borrow most of his gear and b) act as a race team support crew for when I completed the Ironman.

It’s been a good time. But I still have goals for the rest of the year and I’m still not happy with how I feel and my performance in running, cycling or swimming.

I have two goals for the rest of the year, which glancing down I realise is a reduced number from three as below and the goals are easier too.

If I can do both of those, then I'll be happy.
  • Reliably run 5km in under 20 minutes on or off road
  • Run a 50km ultra marathon
I also fully intend to build on my great swim training I've had over the past 6 months and continue working on my bike form and fitness.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Times are a changing

I completed the Rome marathon nearly two weeks ago and I feel great. I was always told that I would feel completely shattered afterwards, but that's simply not the case.

I had a really good stretching session on the Tuesday I came back and since then I've had no troubles at all.

In fact, one evening I even decided to go for a half marathon run to Windsor. And it was the fastest half marathon I've ever done. It was also the fastest 5k and 10k too.

I was happy with that. I'll be focusing on speed in the coming months which hopefully will help me achieve my goals for the Summer.

Speed goals for Summer 2012

  • 5km in 18 minutes
  • 10km in 40 minutes
  • 21.1km in 90 minutes

Monday, 19 March 2012

Maratona di Roma

I did it, I ran a marathon. 26.2 miles or 42, 195 metres and I did it in a respectable time of 3 hours 35 minutes and 14 seconds.

I couldn't be happier really. I had wanted to put the training in to work for a sub 3 hour marathon, but other commitments led me to not being able to put in the hours. And I'm fine with that too.

Simply completing the marathon was cool enough and what better place to do a marathon than in Rome?

This was the Rome 2012 marathon course and it looked like it had been put together by the tourist board. Every single opportunity to get in a tourist spot was done and it made the run interesting and utterly unique.

I'll post up some Garmin information in a few days and more thoughts on the run.

Rome 2012 marathon results (I was bib number 14462)

Rome 2012 marathon course

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

March 4 is ages away, surely

For some reason I decided to book myself into a 60 mile sportive for March 4. Of course I thought March 4 was ages away. Apparently my calendar tells me it's this weekend.

The longest I've ever ridden was 38 miles and I was pretty shattered after that. I guess I'm going to have to make sure I keep my energy levels up on this one. Keep hydrated too.

I'm liking the idea of it though. 60 miles. 4 miles more than the half Ironman I'm hoping to complete.

I'm also keen to capitalise on my interest in cycling again and making sure that I take whatever opportunities that come my way and saying 'yes' more.

I even sent an enquiry email to a local triathlon club. Things could be changing for me quite a bit in the near future. Either I'll sink or I'll swim. Can't wait to find out either way.

More info on the Triathlon Show Sportive (TCR) 3rd & 4th March 2012 ride.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Review of my recent running

I haven't been running anywhere near as much as I should be, or think I should be. It's mainly been because of a lack of time and instead of running I've been putting a lot of focus into swimming. I think that's probably been the wrong decision.

I'm happy with the distances, I think I just need to fit more shorter and faster runs in to my schedule and stop the swimming for a while. I always remember my Paratrooper corporals 'get out there and pound the streets'.

Here are my recent runs

Action plan for Rome 2012

Feb 27 - Mar 4

  • 5 mile run
  • 8 mile run
  • 20 mile run

Mar 5 - 11

  • 5 mile run
  • 8 mile run
  • 20 mile run

Mar 12 - 18

  • 5 mile run
  • Rest
  • Marathon
It's not ideal because I should be 'tapering', but I don't see that I have much else in the way of choice here. Perhaps I should read up a little more online for effective short term techniques, but right now this works in my head and I just need to make it happen.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run

Would recommend anyone who is interested in triathlon or Ironman to have a read of 'Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run' by Andy Holgate. An honest book that's encouraging and inspiring in spades.

Anyone can be an Ironman if they want to be and this book is perfect example of how even the most unassuming people can make achieve the seemingly impossible.

38 miles on the bike

I've been having a great week so far and for each of my current sports: running, cycling and swimming, I've beat my longest distances. In some cases by twice as much.

Yesterday was a great day on the bike. It's the first time I've been out on it since a few weeks back where I damaged my ankle in a particularly stupid commuting ride home. It was freezing, pouring with rain and I was wearing summer based gear and no waterproof. All my own fault.

But yesterday was different. I had the right fear, waterproof 'booties', which incidentally I absolutely love that name, and I wasn't wearing a rucksack filled with work stuff.

I managed 38 miles and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Much like my recent run, I'm starting to find my limit of endurance without additional energy supplies. So in the next few weeks I'll be seeing what it's like to take on energy whilst running or riding.

So I'm happy with the ride and although I'll be away in the US for the next 2 weekends, I'm confident that I'll be able to keep up the fitness so that I can look forward to having another great week beating my longest distances.

Friday, 27 January 2012

This weeks training; 17.15 miles and a 1500 metre swim

It's been the first a great week for my training. I've recently signed up to the Timberman Ironman 70.3 triathlon and have been mentally committing and pushing myself to ensure I'm fit enough and tough enough to complete the challenge.

So this week I ran 17.15 miles in 140 minutes (2 hours and 20 minutes). It was a training run and I managed to keep an average of near 5 minute kilometres, although at times I did want to run much faster (and at times a slower pace would have been nice too). I've never ran as far before and I was actually a little elated when I got home.

But not as elated as I was when I swam 1500 metres. The furthest I've ever swum before today had been 750 metres at a triathlon. I was shattered by the end of it, recorded a terrible time of over 20 minutes and I was so exhausted and dizzy from the experience that I sat in transition for 3 or 4 minutes dazed and only just managing to put my helmet and shoes on to exit onto the bike leg.

So much to my amazement I was pretty chuffed when I swam 1500 metres in under 35 minutes. Still not a great pace, but it's a start. I'm happy with how my swim training in the last few months has gone, where I've been self-teaching myself the basics of breathing, catching and other techniques. I also have to confess that not wearing massive board shorts has probably helped considerably too!

And as a reward of sorts, I ordered myself a new set of Nike Pegasus trainers. I have a 27 already and they've been great. I hope the 28s are just as good. New socks too. Nothing beats the feeling of a new pair of socks!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I'm going to the 2012 70.3 Timberman triathlon

The flights and hotel are booked and now I just need to actually enter the competition. I do wonder whether I should have done that in reverse however.

Regardless, for 2012 I'm going to complete a 70.3 triathlon and become half an Ironman at the Timberman Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

It's a life goal to become a 'full' Ironman and this 70.3 is a major step towards achieving that goal. I can already run half marathons without trouble and I think I can get the cycle mileage in too. I'm coming on leaps and bounds on the swim too.

I also have an Olypmic triathlon to complete in June too, so that's another step in the training ladder towards my goals too.

Quite excited about it all really. More training updates and thoughts to come soon no doubt; for example, what the hell do I do next?

The importance of support

I was asked today to be part of a morning 5k. Nothing much, it was actually for a colleague who has just got into running and we wanted to support him. Personally I would have wanted to do a longer run and faster too, but I think it's important to support others and create sporting bonds with other athletes.

It would have meant a lot to him for us all to be there running and supporting him.

However, that didn't happen. The organiser of the event somehow managed to leave me behind. Maybe it was a mistake and maybe it was childish behaviour. I'll find that out and I'll have words either way. I guess the important part is that support comes in all shapes and sizes and being left out is one of the worst ways to not express it.

It means I'll be more hesitant the next time an offer comes around, which is pretty sad. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

4km extra a week

Maidenhead to Windsor and back half marathon
Here it is, the first half marathon of 2012 for me. After the ankle trouble I was a little hesitant, but thought it important to try and get back into the 'grind' of training as quickly as I could. Apart from the usual muscle aches and trying to manage my pace, it went very well.

I now need to start running an extra 4km a week to ramp up towards marathon distance. I've got 6 weeks left, so to go from 21km to 25 to 29 to 33 to 37 and then with a week to rest and to build energy reserves, to then hit the marathon a week later.

So long as I have no other injuries or troubles, I should be set for a 3:30 - 4:00 time. I did want to head towards 03:00, but it's clear I haven't the time to get that sort of training in. I'll be happy to finish it and set myself another challenge to beat it another day.

Other training thoughts (mainly shopping):

  • Need a new pair of trainers (same as current pair)
  • Test out drinking and eating on the run (find out what energy drinks and bars are being offered in Rome)
  • Buy a new set of elastic laces
  • Decide on what I'm going to where
  • New sunglasses or new nose piece
  • New running cap

Friday, 20 January 2012

My Fitness Pal

I've never been one for dieting as I've always done, or thought I've done, enough training to ensure that my sometimes excessive calorie intake has in some way been balanced out.

Training for the Rome marathon has changed my approach and has made me think a lot more about the foods I put in and the app, My Fitness Pal, has helped me to look at the calorie count too.

Although I haven't measured it, I think my calorie count on some weekends may well have been well over 4,000 a day. I could easily devour a family pack of sweets whilst watching a movie, 3 or 4 cans of coke and dinners big enough to satisfy a king.

But this app has changed that. I'm now looking at packets in shops for calorie information, I'm having one treat, not six and of course the best part is that I'm feeling good about it.

It's a little too early to see results, but I'll be weighing myself in once a week to chart my progress. Although I don't think I need to lose weight, I'm quite comfortable as I am, by my reckoning if I could shift some excess weight that will be less weight to shift around a 26.2 mile course.

The ankle held!

It's such a relief coming out of an injury that the affected part holds well. I didn't feel a single pain, it wasn't awkward and what's more my fitness doesn't appear to have been impacted that much either.

I'm now looking to get in a longer run within the next few days and hopefully put myself back on track for my marathon training within a week.

Fingers crossed I stay injury free until March 18!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Injury and illness

I've a marathon to run in around 60 days and for December I moved house and then went straight on holiday.

I came back from holiday, managed a single 10k run and then hurt my ankle on a silly 3 hour bike commute.

It's now been 3 weeks and the ankle is better, but not perfect and I'm itching to get back into running. However, I've now picked up a cold and by head and neck feel sore. And the rule is, if you have a bunged up nose or a cough, run gently, but any aches and pains, stop running. In this case I can't even start.

I may just push through it and use the weekend to recover ... if I wasn't going to a friends child's first birthday party thing.

I just want to run.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Those who do sports

There's something quite different about those who partake in sports. Well maybe there is.

There's a bond that can transcend gender, ability and sport; it's knowing that someone else is going through the same feelings or experiences that you have. For most people ins ports at some point you will have shared a bond with someone else. Maybe on a jog around the block, a marathon or whilst our on your bike on a Sunday afternoon.

I love this bond and I automatically associate myself with someone else trying to better themselves in their chosen sport. I will them to succeed.

And this in turn encourages me. My competitive edge makes me want to better myself to try and beat them and for them to challenge me, my loyal side wants to support them and offer advice to see them better themselves and my fun side wants new play mates, because after all sports are fun.

Others have probably written books on this feeling and shared bond, and I'm sure I have nothing to add, other than to say that I've felt this bond, I know and embrace it and it betters me in my training and personal outlook too.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

67 days until the Rome marathon

It's not a life goal, but it's certainly something I'd really like to do. Run a marathon. I'll be honest, it might be because everyone I know has run a marathon. A lot of my colleagues have and it seems almost normal. So if they can do it, surely I can too? Actually no, it probably is a life goal.

Rome looks to be a perfect venue for a first marathon. Flat, suitable temperature and the roads are quite good too (I've read). I'll also be going with my friend Mark too, which is a bonus.

I've just come back from holiday and within days managed to pick up an ankle injury too. I did a manage to get in a 10k before the ankle incident and it appears I haven't completely lost my fitness whilst I've been away. I was away for 17 days as well, which did make me wonder how bad it would be.

The ankle too has added to the annoyance of not being able to train and ensure I've still got some fitness in me. Although it has led me to go swimming more, which is a pleasant, if not effective fitness alternative to swimming.

My goals for this week are to run 5k on the ankle with no trouble and plan the next 1:45 minute run.

Monday, 9 January 2012

To say 'I can swim'

I can swim in fact and I can ensure I do not drown either, even in the open sea or a lake. I've swam a triathlon in a lake and I've snorkelled and swam around in seas around the world. Neither were much of a problem.

I have no trouble swimming and I can paddle around without looking like an idiot more than most of the time.

But what I really want is to be able to tell others with truth in my words that 'I can swim'. I want to feel sure that I'm a good swimmer. How can I judge that I am a good swimmer? Perhaps when someone else tells me I am or perhaps when a ticker goes off in my head and says, yeah you're good enough.

I swam early this morning and loved every second. The bi-lateral breathing is coming along nicely and I longer have the slight of fear, no, awkwardness that happens when I put my face in the water and gargle or snort the local municipals finest.

So that's another life goal, to say to myself and others that I can swim and really mean it.