Sunday, 22 February 2009

So much to say and so little time...

What can I say.... time's well and truly got the better of me today, I know it's only twenty past six and we've often written well into Sunday night but this year it's a new me and I'm taking rest and recovery more seriously than ever. With around 12 hours of training this weekend making around 25 for the week I'm absolutely cream crackered, today's century (not) was a massive effort made worse by serious mechanicals at mile 66 and having nursed my bike through another 26 it gave up the ghost at mile 92 and I had to call Ben to come and get me in his car :( Thanks mate, it would have been a long cold walk! Thanks also to Alison for stopping to see if I was alright :) :)

Following his interesting question posted as a comment on last week's post I had promised Ove that I'd make my answer the topic for this week's scribble, but having spent most of today's 92.5 miles mulling over what I wanted to say I'm sorry to say that it won't be tonight. What I will try and do is for the first time ever post during the week as I think it's a really interesting topic that I have a few interesting (to me anyway) thoughts on.

So without further ado,



p.s. well done to Dave M for not only winning parkrun Leeds (the new name for our Saturday 5k) for the third time but setting a pb in the process!

p.p.s. also well done to Ben G and Jevonelli for getting back on their respective horses in double quick time ;) eggs...

If I'm perfectly honest I don't really have much of interest to post today.  I know that's unusual for such a mind spiller like myself, but the good thing about not having much to say for once also means that nothing has gone wrong in mind or body this week :)  I've had another great/hard week of training which culminated in todays 100 mile ride out in the very windy Dales.  It was a slog but not un-enjoyable, although it was a little lonely.  Tom left the house 40mins after me and we had hoped that he would catch me on the return and we would finish the ride together. A broken free hub put pay to that however and Tom was stopped in his tracks at mile 92 :(

Yesterday morning we did our 9 mile run interval session which went well this week and I managed to push myself hard, then it was home for brekkie before heading off for a bike interval hill session which is about 50 miles in total and a good leg smasher.  Dinner with my brother and my niece was well earned last eve and I knew my little legs would feel yesterday in them as I took them out for todays hilly 100.  A harsh headwind for the first 50 miles is plenty Lanza training I can tell you, I had to keep telling myself to embrace the wind and get bloody used to it :)  The rewards of the ride are huge, great miles in the legs and the most beautiful scenery for the eyes.  I wasn't selfish enough to stop and take a picture today though, my desperation to get home in under 8 hrs fuelled by Mini Eggs, homemade flapjack and salted peanuts did the job nicely.  I have done that ride so much quicker in fact over an hour quicker but the wind was relentless, still I'm pleased and my choice of nutrition was perfect :)

February's goals are all ticking along nicely.  And I'm still having fun with my one pic a day, Week Three's pics HERE.  I hope you're enjoying them?

Jevon, hope your sausage leg is healing well and your not in the dog house for being naughty and training (although you're dead right, we all know that we Ironman nutters would be doing just the same if it were any of us!)

BenG hope the ear's fixed, the pain has stopped and you're ready to take on the Ironman world again :)

And a huge congrats to Dave McGuire who pb'd (again) at HPTT and won!!  Well done Dave, great run :)

See you next week when we'll be posting from Lanzarote :)

H. x

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Reaping the rewards...

This week has been a great week of training for me.  I've not done huge amounts of volume and I've not done any majorly intense sessions but I'm finishing this week feeling like finally it's all starting to come together.  The ass kicking I got on the bike in Lanzarote has put some good strength into my little legs and I'm enjoying turbo sessions and riding outside (although the latter has been few and far between because of the snow.)  My renewed vigour on the bike came through with my 80 mile ride today (see above pic at the halfway point in Kettlewell) as for the first time I could sustain a higher than normal average heart rate (140) for the whole of the ride (5hrs 23mins in total.)  Something I've never been able to do in the past due to not having the strength in the old legs to raise it.  That training camp sure has helped my overall strength and the constant hours in the garage have helped my cadence and my general bike fitness. 

I've not been swimming as much as normal but am still swimming strong.  I did a pb set of 200's on Thursday, a much faster set than I've done before so I'm not worried about the decrease in volume in that area and am hoping things will continue to improve as the weeks tick by.

And finally the runs that I've been doing (and not enjoying due to feeling sluggish and tired) were all good this week too after a great tempo treadmill session on Tuesday where I felt as strong as Tony Audenshaw's proverbial Ox and then ran a very strong 16 miler on Thursday evening.  

There can't be anything better than that feeling of finally getting somewhere.  I'm just clinging onto the fact that it's here to stay with me :)  Stretching every day and getting practically 8hrs solid kip kip every night are all factors in this I'm sure, those 8.30pm bed times are worth every zzzzz especially when that 5am alarm goes off.

So a very productive and positive training week for me and one which I'd like to continue right up to Lanza on May 23rd :)

Not forgetting of course my year of pictures, here's Week Two's installment, hope you like them.

H. x

Speed wobbles...

I'd like to start by apologising for the briefness of this week's entry... although extremely selfish of me I needed to make myself feel better about the bike so spent far too long fiddling the stats to do just that... whilst I'm on the subject of me me me I'm also going to stop writing this at 7pm sharp (about two minutes from now) so that I can be tucked up in front of Masterchef (bbc iplayer) in time for a minimum of eight hours sleep... sorry ;)

To cut a very long story extremely short (more details next week) I've been really worried that although I'm swimming better than ever (400pb this week 5:33) and running better than ever (half mara pb at last month's Brass Monkey 1:19:35) I just don't feel my bike is getting the attention it so very much needs. A quick look at the stats from the previous two years has upped my mood though...

Lets assume that the key training weeks are the 20 leading up to race week (I've not included race week in this as it doesn't really involve any opportunity for fitness gains). A quick fiddle on Excel shows that in that period up to IMCH 2007 I managed just under 183 hours in the saddle, and in the same period up to IMDE 2008 I managed 141 hours (probably explains quite a bit - more next week) at an average of 9 hours and 7 hours per week respectively. Considering my total weekly training hours even the IMCH bike volume is pretty poor! So far this year I've completed the first seven of those 20 weeks and at 73.5 hours I'm ten ahead of Switzerland at the same point and 25.5 ahead of Germany. Today's picture shows Lanzarote bike hours as the red line, Switzerland as the blue line and Germany as the black line.

I now feel much happier :)



p.s. How's the 28 days going? I'm 15/15 for the water, 14/15 for the stretching and at 23 hours on the bike have 13 days to spend 25 hours in the saddle.

p.p.s. sorry we've not been so good at replying to your comments, normal service will resume this week.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tough Times...

So, here we are on day eight of our 28 day challenge to create three positive habits based on areas of personal weakness. It's great to read people posting their own goals on here... how's it going? on target? I figured that although I'd created a reasonable amount of accountability by posting my aims on here I also need something to measure my success by and to give me something positive each day by way of saying 'well done' to myself. Hence the somewhat basic checklist posted on our office wall where each day I can tick a little box, you can see from the picture (below) that so far I'm 'seven from seven' for the two daily targets of 2 litres of water and 10 minutes of stretching and although I'm a few hours down on the bike schedule all I need is a break in the weather to release me from the turbo and the 4.5 hour deficit should be easy to make up. (Note: I did manage three hours on the turbo this morning to make the current total 10.5 hours in eight days)
The water has actually been the toughest and has on more than one occasion found me seeing off almost a litre just before bed which has then kept me up half the night going back and forth to the loo! Habits do have to be forced at first though and as much as it might seem sensible to sometimes accept the fact that for just one day you've not done what you set out to, it can then become all too easy to miss it again the next time. By sitting there and forcing it down I'm showing myself that whatever happens I will drink two litres of water each day and yes it is a pain to have to do half of that just before going to bed but the only option with regards making it a more pleasant experience is to spread it out through the day.


The title of today's blog is really what I wanted to write about today though... at the moment loads of us seem to be going through a rather difficult period in our lives. Sitting down earlier and chatting with H it was amazing how many of our friends (and us for that matter) have kicked off 2009 on the back foot, be it in terms of their athletic goals, career goals or some other area of their life. I'm not going to go into details or names but if you're reading this and things aren't quite right then have faith in your dreams and ambitions it's during difficult times like these that self-belief becomes all the more important. I remember Hels talking to me about her race at Ironman Germany in 2008 and how at her lowest point in the marathon when there really didn't seem to be light at the end of the tunnel she just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and dealing with the next step again and again and again knowing that as long as she kept moving forward then at some point she would be turning toward the finish line.

To maybe demonstrate my point a little better I thought I'd share a truly amazing video with you, which was sent to me by our great friend Tony Hiley. T is the head strength coach for the Irish Cricket team and is based at the Irish institute of sport, they often use this video to motivate and inspire injured players and athletes. The video is of a guy called Jamie Gillentine who I think broke his neck diving into the sea and follows his rehabilitation over what must be a fairly significant period of time. Now, before you click on the link I want to make sure you look at this in the right context... I'm not saying 'look how bad this guy has it so stop feeling sorry for yourself' because no matter how much worse someone else's problems are it won't stop yours from getting you down. What I am saying however is think about how impossible his situation must have seemed at times, think about how low his lowest point must have been, think about all the so called experts who no doubt tried to break his self belief by casting doubt on his future... use his experience as an amazing example of no matter how tough life may seem if you keep moving forward tiny step by tiny step you WILL get there. Also, before you click on the link, there was some great music on it but unfortunately the copyright cops seem to have blocked it so find your most inspirational tune, the one that really makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and line it up ready to hit play as the video starts.

OK, if you're good to go please click... HERE.

That probably sums up what I'm thinking at the moment better than I could ever get across in words. No matter how rubbish things may seem at the moment don't stop dreaming and most importantly don't stop believing in those dreams.

See you next Sunday,


p.s. why today's photo? I Googled images for 'tough times' and this came up. It made me laugh so I thought it would do the same for you ;)

New goals, new life...

This goal setting business is good, I'm liking it, although these are the things I'm discovering along the way...

Not having goals... HARD
Realise I need my own goals... ENLIGHTENING
Choose first sets of goals...EASY
Sticking to goals for next 20 days left of 28...SCARY

Hopefully though I'm beginning to establish the routine that will force these new goals into new habits and habits that will make life easier or better in some way.

My one photo per day is going well and encouraging me to look at things a bit differently so I can make something out of nothing. It's all still a novelty though and I'm aware that I have to keep it fresh and enjoyable or I will find it like a millstone round my neck and that's definitely not the idea. I've uploaded my week in pictures onto this Flickr site and will post the link on here every week so you can see what has caught my eye (or my life.) Hope you like them. I can't wait to be able to look back on my 35th birthday in 2010 and hopefully see my 34th year in 365 pictures :)

Face picking is still at zero :) :) which to be honest isn't a miracle yet as I have managed to do a week or two before but then slipped. It would be amazing if after 28 days I could say I had done it!

Stretching daily is also happening and I'm sure will make a huge difference long term. Tom and I have established a great routine which doesn't take too long and targets the areas which cause us both trouble.

At first I just thought I was adding yet more tasks to what can sometimes be a hectic day. If I'm training and working I still have to make time to stretch and to take a photo, but so far it's working and I'm enjoying it. Mostly because they're not bad things to have in your life are they? Who wouldn't want to stay injury free by stretching? And I'm loving picking up my camera to take a photo of something I want to take a photo of, not just what a client wants.

Training is going well. Swim sessions are good with some great technique sessions helping my stroke come on. I'm not over the moon with how I'm running at the minute but I'm maintaining my general run fitness. The snow is playing havoc with the bike though, oh and last Thursday's long run which Tom and our mate Dave did on a treadmill :(
22.5km on a treadmill took my mental sanity to places far and beyond human. The voices in my mind were trying to tell me to just get off, mainly because I knew it was going to be tedious and definitely more of a mental challenge than a physical one and that never helps. The thing is I had no physical reason to actually get off which was a bit of a bugger really. With no excuse the only thing you can do is carry on and if it wasn't for the fact that Dave and Tom were right next to me plugging away at their own 22.5km I would have probably ditched the session. I'm glad I didn't but it wasn't an enjoyable experience, still that's a big fat point to me and zero points to the treadmill :) If I can conquer the mental demons the rest is easy surely?!

And bless the bike...all of it done staring at the back of the garage door in minus ridiculous temperatures! I've clocked up 10.5 hrs in the garage this week and done some quality sessions but I can't wait to be able to get outside without the fear of sliding under a bus on the ice!

I'm feeling good I have to say. Things are just ticking along really nicely. I'm back in order I think :)

So, hope you enjoy my week in pictures. See you next week.

H. x

Sunday, 1 February 2009

This months goals :) :) :)

A new month is beginning and with it some new goals that belong solely to me, not Tom, not my mum, not my bank manager or my accountant... just little me :)

Thankfully February won't be seeing me dive head first into freezing Arctic oceans but it will hopefully help me dive into my new goals with gay abandon. So what are these new goals?Oddly enough they don't all involve training but I'm hoping they could all help me feel better about training which has gone really well this week.

1) Take one photograph per day
2) Zero face picking
3) Stretch and do physio exercises every day

As most of you know I set up my own freelance photography business up just over a year ago and I love it. One thing I'm really bad at though is opening my mind to my creative talent. I feel like I shut it away a long time ago and am having difficulty tapping back into it. Recently my friend Graham from The Flash Centre (my local camera shop, who are amazing) emailed me the link to American photographer Chase Jarvis. It started my mind whirring and the dusty nuts and bolts thunking and clunking but I still wasn't sure how I could use his inspirational pictures and general open minded-ness (if such a word exists) to help unlock my very closed mind. So, February's number one goal... to take one photograph per day regardless of whether I'm shooting for a client or not is what I am hoping to be the beginning of cracking open the sealed lid to my once flowing creativity. It starts tomorrow which fits in quite nicely as tomorrow I turn 34yrs old and in taking one photograph per day for the next year will mean that I will have in a very simple way documented my whole 34th year on planet earth. I plan to print them out and stick them in a little book so I can see my progression and I'm really, really looking forward to it :) I guess I could put them on-line too but I'm not sure how many people would be interested in seeing that? Let me know and I'll do it.

The second face picking has been a bug bear of mine for an absolute eternity and those of you that know me will know that I can spend forever at the mirror looking for something to pick on my face, even if there isn't anything there. I regularily get small patches of eczema due to the excessive amount of chlorine that I'm in. Instead of leaving it alone I'll scratch it, make it sore and red and it takes ages and often antibiotics to help get rid of it. If only I could keep my filthy mits away from my face I'm sure my skin would be in much better condition. This goal, and I kid you not is going to be the toughest challenge of all three and if I can do it for the next 28 days I'll be over the moon. Unfortunately like an alcoholic I will have to move it onto my March goal, my April goal and my May goal and keep it going until it's no longer in my thought pattern. It's actually quite scary and liberating at the same time. Here's to 28 days of clear skin, wuhoo!!! Oh and a bloody miracle, but if I say I'm not going to do something then I have to stick to it. If I don't do it now I don't think anything will ever stop me and that's not a nice thought.

My third goal... to stretch and do my daily physio exercises is something I've neglected for way too long. I've got a recurring back problem which I have to have regularily manipulated. I have weak glutes. I get tight through my right IT Band and I should be stretching my psoas thoroughly after every session. Do I do any of the exercises and stretches that my physio tells me??? No. Therefore I'm throwing good money away because I'm too lazy to keep the physio at bay. Not too lazy to swim 5km in the pool, or to ride up to 112 miles or to run up to 26miles, and they're bloody hard things to do. Not doing these tiny little exercises from my physio are making my training painful and possibly pushing me towards getting injured so, as of tomorrow and then Tuesday when I go to get straightened out again, I shall be doing what I'm told, daily, no excuses. Here's to a straighter back and no sore feet :)

'The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.' Flora Whittemore

H. x

Day One...

Well, time truly waits for no man and within what seems like a millisecond of posting my goals for the 28 days of February here we are in number 18 of the first 24 hours and I've yet to ride my bike, stretch or even get close to two litres of water! But then these are all based on areas of my athletic life which I've excelled in neglecting over the last few years so that's hardly surprising...

However, with a little over six hours left of Sunday the 1st of Feb I'm not about to fall at the first hurdle. H and I are off out for dinner tonight to celebrate her impending birthday (34 tomorrow in case you're interested) and the fizzy water will no doubt be flowing, if I can get this written by 5.45 there will still be time for a 10 minute stretch and you'll notice the 'small-print' said 48 hours TOTAL ride time between now and the 28th so today's unplanned day of rest shouldn't cause too many problems.... phew ;)

So why the shaky start...? With regards the stretching and drinking it's just not part of my daily routine (yet) and will take a while to become automatic (28 days hopefully) so as long as I don't forget (which I won't), the worst case scenario is that I'll find myself ending each day by ticking those two things off my list and no doubt be up half the night getting rid of the 2000ml of water I've 'downed in one' (once a student always a student) just before 'lights out'. More concerning is my bike volume as it's not so easy to slot in a 60 mile ride when you've put it off all day/week, it's ten o'clock at night and have to be up for the pool at 5am! Today would have been a great start with 80 miles scheduled but a horrendous weather forecast meant that we pencilled in a double turbo day instead and then with an extremely uncharacteristic lack of commitment to the cause H and I canned both sessions for a day tidying the house and doing the food shopping, what the?... still we did manage a four hour ride yesterday with a serious hour of hill riding in the middle and the fact that it was off the back of a nine mile run with 12 x 1/3 mile reps in the morning, a hard Friday (swim intervals 6am and hour turbo 6pm) and Thursday (Two hour turbo 5.30am and 12 mile run 6pm) goes some way to easing my conscience... and as I said it's 48 hours TOTAL... hopefully though I won't be going for some kind of endurance cycling record with two days to go and zero hours on the clock ;)

I have to say, a large part of my motivation to finish writing this this right here and attempt to touch my toes for the first time in a while (at least, thanks to triathlon, I can still see them) is the fact that you guys have joined in the challenge. Thanks so much for posting your comments it's great to be part of a 'team' and hopefully we can all motivate each other and arrive at the 1st of March minus three weaknesses per person :)

So, with that I'll go and tick off my first two targets...

See you on Sunday,


p.s. a massive well done to all our friends how ran so well at today's Dewsbury 10k... our excuse of not doing it because we 'really had to get out on our bikes' looks rather lame now... sorry!

p.p.s. good luck to Ozzer down under