2014 Goals and progress

So I was thinking about whether or not to keep this blog going, post Celtman 2013 partial success (glass half-full)…I never quite got round to a full rundown of the event itself, that might still come. Sufficed to say I decided that this year I need to concentrate on business, so I’m not going to be doing anywhere near the same amount of training. However, I do fancy focusing in on technique, speed, strength and skill stuff, so that when I come back next year (2015) to attempt Celtman again I’ll be a better athlete to start with. Well that’s the plan and as a result I decided to keep the blog going.

I’m going to use it slightly differently this time (less pictures). Each Sunday I’m going to plan out what I’m doing swim, bike, run wise so that it’s down in black and white and I’m committed to it. The second reason for doing this is it means I don’t have to think about it again. Efficiency is very important this year as I’m setting up a new portraiture studio and I don’t want to spend time humming and ha-ing over training, so it’s all going to be sorted out on Sunday and then just go on with…again that’s the plan.

I’m going to keep track of all my progress on a spreadsheet on Google Drive. If you want to join me follow the link and I’ll add a page for you and we can all do it together.

This week’s training plan is pretty simples…swim session on Monday morning is going to be all about setting times, 25m, 100m, 1000m, and Wednesday will be lots of drills with 10x100m thrown in for fun. Bike is going to be an hour on the rollers (first time for 9 months so wish me luck) and then out and back to Abington (I’ve forgot how far it is) on Saturday. Run is going to be similar to swim. Tuesday is going to be setting 1km and 5km times in the meadows in Edinburgh and then finding a 10km loop for Sunday and putting down times. If anyone wants to join me just send me a message on FB. I’ll add the link to the bottom of the page.

The final thing I’m going to add to the blog is food! Last year I totally came off the rails, diet wise, and now I have to sort my shit out…for lack of a better expression. My lovely sister sent me ‘The Feed Zone Cookbook‘ for Christmas so each week I’m going to experiment with two recipes, one breakfast, one dinner. This week it’s going to be Quinoa and Berries for breakfast. Quinoa is my nemesis…I never get it right, it always ends up like soup (I also have a slight issue with quinoa looking like giant sperm. Weird? I know!). However, I love the idea of it, so I am going to persevere! The second recipe is going to be Pork Green Chilli, for purely practical reasons. My father raised three pigs over the summer and as a result we currently have over 150kg of pork in our freezer, might as well use it 😉

I’ll let you know how it goes. If anyone has any great programmes/blogs/people they are following (in a non stalker-y way) let me know on the FB. I’d also love to hear any tips on training and cooking that you have, so give me shout!

Useful links:

The Greater the Obstacle Facebook page.

The Feed Zone Cookbook

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Week 20 Celtman Training

It’s getting so close now that writing this is making me feel a little ill, but I’m getting used to it as I feel sick every time someone asks me about how long do I have to go. Aaarrghh!!!

I think there are a few of us out there, so at least I’m not alone. I haven’t had any Celtman nightmares this week so that is good. So far I’ve had one of those really realistic dreams where you think it is real, I dreamt that I’d finished the race, until you wake up and realise that it can’t have been true as my body isn’t broken. Then I had one where I was on the bus on the way to the start of the swim and I was certain that I didn’t have my bike helmet or my kit to go up the hill…woke up with the seat pouring off me. Seriously this isn’t good for me!

Training is going fairly well. I have one slight concern this week, which has been my hip and lower back. It has been a bit achy all week and really quite sore on Thursday night’s spin class. I jumped in my dads giant paddling pool (some people should not be allowed to go to Costco) for some recovery when I got home and then had a rest day yesterday to try and give it a chance, so we will see how it goes for today’s run. Oh! And I made it out to the pole for the first time ever at Portobello, so thanks goes out to my Uncle Paul for leading me astray LOL!

Hope everyone’s training is going well and if you’re having doubts about what your going to do. It’s completely natural, but don’t let it stop you. Lots of love and luck and keep up the good work!

Time for a mid-way review…

Where to start…

Pictures/Data

progress pictures, training, Celtman

Week 12, half-way there, 3 month progress pictures

So after 3 months here is a quick review of the numbers: I’m still the same height…training hasn’t made me shorter; weight, lost 3.1kg, all that muscle is heavy; bust, lost 3cm, no comment; waist, lost 4cm, which combined with, hips, lost 6cm, means none of my jeans fit. No point in buying new ones at the moment, so belts are becoming quite important.

Fundraising

Nothing to report. I will get a Virgin Giving page up ASAP, but I’m currently waiting for them to register the Rock Trust.This is so I can split the money down the middle between SAMH and the Rock Trust. I decided to go with Virgin Giving because of this option and on SAMH‘s recommendation as they felt it was the best option for them. So watch this space I will be asking for money soon, just not yet! 

Sponsorship

I haven’t taken any action on this front as the day job has got in the way and I wanted to have the fundraising bit taken care of first before I set out to look for kit. As I’m sure you are all aware triathlon can be pretty expensive. I have so far got by on kindness of friends and family…lots of borrowed kit. Not because I’m cheap (well okay maybe a bit cheap), but because I set up my business last year and, a year and 3 months in, I just can’t justify spending hundreds (to thousands) of pounds on fancy gear. But don’t worry even if I don’t find anyone to give me lovely kit to promote, I will be fully clad in stuff borrowed from the great and the good. On the other hand if you know any lovely kit suppliers who might want to be connected to me and Celtman send them my way.

Training swim/bike/run

Swim: On target starting to hit 1:40 for my 100s, which I’m happy with. Now I’m twitching to get out in the open water…it’s just too cold at the moment and I would like a wetsuit upgrade as my current one is so loose around the shoulders I end up carrying an extra 5kg in water. Streamlined I ain’t!

Bike: A bit behind. And a bit slow. Thanks to the weather I have only managed to get out in the last couple of weeks. The rollers in the house just aren’t the same. But now the weather is picking up…at least fewer blizzards…it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and get out more. Show me the hills!

Run: Struggling a bit with tight calves, now that I’m back on the bike for longer periods, so the last two weeks have been a bit of a struggle to get up the hills. Getting enough to eat is also a bit of an issue, but I’ll get there. The focus over the next few weeks is going to be on getting faster, so hill sprints and 1km timed reps are on the cards. Such fun!

Strength: Coming along nicely. My core still isn’t strong enough but the difference in my hips, knees and ankles in the bike and run is fantastic. Issues that I had with the longer distance at the end of last year because of strength imbalances seem to be a thing of the past. Now to concentrate on getting faster!

Mental state

My initial connection to SAMH was because I know lots of people associated with triathlon who have suffered from mental health problems, most commonly depression, but when I sat down and thought about it I started to think about my own mental health. I’m going to talk more about this in more detail in a future post, but sufficed to say I think at the beginning of the year I was struggling a bit. Whether it was the time of year, weather, business or just life in general, not really sure. What I do know is that I feel 100x better 3 months into my training. I’ve fixed my diet. I’m getting out in the fresh air regularly. And I’m back to getting high on those wonderful endorphins…drug of choice. If you haven’t discovered them come and join me. You’ll love it (eventually)! I swear!

Pictures of the story so far…

The usual disclaimer applies I know everything and nothing, so take nothing as truth…well apart from the maps. They’re awesome!

2 months…8 weeks in…time flies when you’re having fun!

I should have taken these pictures in the morning, before I spent all day stuffing my face LOL…and guess what nae difference (well almost) so for all those out there who are struggling with their goals, stay strong!

Here we are again. Week 8 progress pictures.

Here we are again. Week 8 progress pictures.

Just as well my goal is not to look svelte or after 8 weeks of slogging my guts out I might feel a bit hard done by. Fortunately, everything else is going well. Swims are starting to hit 1.40 for my 100s which is my goal. Runs are coming along…loving my hills, thought I need to do some more speed work. The bike is my one sticking point as the lovely Scottish weather keeps chucking snow at us every bloody weekend. So most of my distance has been done on the rollers in front of the 6 Nations Rugby…with the rugby finishing the weather better improve because if I have to do another 4 hours inside I might lose my mind. I’m going to try and add in a spin session to increase my speed work without the possibility of serious injury…rollers always have an element of danger 😉

What I need to do next is sort out my donations page. I’m waiting for the Rock Trust to get on board with Virgin Giving, so watch this space. I will be looking for money for all these pictures of me in my pants…you know it’s only fair people LOL

And incase you were doubting me about the snow here’s a few pictures.

Snow on Monday morning too…still made it to the pool!

Snow on Monday morning too…still made it to the pool!

Now I'm here do I have to get out of the car?

Now I’m here do I have to get out of the car?

Half-way up the hill from Red Moss car park.

Half-way up the hill from Red Moss car park.

Looking down the hill from the West Kip…visibility?

Looking down the hill from the West Kip…visibility?

It was quite windy at the top of the East Kip.

It was quite windy at the top of the East Kip.

Great fun running off the hill giggling it like an idiot.

Great fun running off the hill giggling it like an idiot.

Valley between the hills. Peace from the wind.

Valley between the hills. Peace from the wind.

Coming down off the hills…so much fun!!!

Coming down off the hills…so much fun!!!

All finished.

All finished.

Tread was everything...

Tread was everything…

The right footwear choice this time.

The right footwear choice this time.

 

 

Be Brave. Accept the Challenge.

…when in doubt pretend!

…when in doubt pretend!

I love this quote. Mostly because it reminds me of how far I’ve come from being a painfully shy child. People who know me now often struggle to believe it, but for years at school I probably barely spoke to anyone. Then I decided that it wasn’t how I wanted to be so I changed it. Not overnight, but years of pretending to be confident and constantly challenging myself to do things that frightened me, and eventually it got easier. I am now completely intolerant of shy adults…what is it they say about converts?

Anyway, how does this relate to training I hear you ask! We’ll it’s kind of how I’ve been feeling about training for the first couple of weeks. I could use lots of excuses like the weather, it being January…the list is long and boring, but what it comes down to is it hasn’t felt right and I haven’t enjoyed it. We all know the feeling of that first run, horrible, the second, worse, the third, the worst, but then it is meant to get better. It hasn’t. I was up to run number 6 and each one was more awful than the last, so I’ve been pretending.

I knew that eventually it had to get better…experience has taught me that with patience and hard work most things do. I’ve just never had any patience, so I’ve found this slow progress pretty frustrating. But finally, yesterday I had a eureka moment. Last session of the week, my first brick (run straight off the bike) session, and finally a good run…not fast or pretty, but something that felt like I might eventually make it to a marathon…well at least a half-marathon and then a fast hike up a mountain.

The plan had worked. After a bit of a trudge through most of the week, only Tuesday night’s run club with JCI offered any banter, no Marcus and Combat Ready this week, I got all my training in (10 hours in total, with a few press ups thrown in for fun) and eventually the pretending paid off too. Training became fun again. Then as if to confirm what I have been telling myself about just getting on with it, or the “Suck it up, Princess!” philosophy, I got it reconfirmed by Combat Ready’s Sunday blog. Great minds 😉

Bravery isn’t the lack of fear. It is doing things despite the fear. We should never avoid things because we might fail. The only failure is never trying in the first place. Challenges make us better, challenges make us stronger, challenges get us closer to who and where we want to be. Bravery in my opinion is just the ability to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it. So in essence it is all pretending.

And just incase you were wondering I still have to pretend sometimes when I’m feeling shy, and there is a voice in the back of my mind that says I might fail at Celtman, but I accept the challenge, because I wouldn’t like myself very much if I didn’t face the things that frighten me.

So that leaves this week’s plan…in glorious Technicolor. Very excited about finally getting back into the Pentlands on Sunday. Fingers crossed hypothermia can be avoided.

Week 3's Training Plan

Week 3’s Training Plan

Disclaimer: As usual everything I say is purely my ill-informed opinions and should not be treated as any sort of expert testimony.

Added extra: If you want a laugh check out YouTube to see me singing along to Flower of Scotland while on my rollers on Saturday. Inside is the only place you will ever see the white bib-shorts…fashion, and decency, disaster!

When testimonials get out of hand…Combat Ready.

I came to Combat Ready because I needed to work on strengthening mostly my core and joints, but really everything. I have fairly lax ligaments around my knees that result in joint instability. They are most likely the result of old rugby injuries and now what I find is that they are aggravated by my current pursuit, triathlon.

My goal this year is to complete Celtman, which is an Ironman distance adventure triathlon… July 6th 2013 5am, 3.8K Swim, 202K Bike, 42K run over two Munros near Torridon and Achnasheen in the Highlands…so I need my knees and the rest of me working.

I’m a big believer in cross training. In the past I’ve used both rowing and squash to work on different aspects of my game (rugby reference). I find that triathlon is much better for me than rugby in a lot of respects. However, I don’t feel just swim, bike, run training helps me develop the muscular control needed to compensate for the laxity of my knee ligaments. In fact I often feel that when I up my distances I compensate, over relying on the more developed muscles, and as a result make my knees worse.

This is where Marcus at Combat Ready steps in. His approach is to use functional weights to develop strength and power (1). For me, and I would argue everyone, strength is really important and I don’t mean massive muscles. I’m talking about basic health (for women in particular in the case of osteoporosis, fractures, arthritis), good posture, being able to lift shopping into the car or pick up your kids without hurting yourself. If you don’t believe me check out the following article (2). Being stronger helps me avoid injuries, improves my balance and coordination (well up to a point…I’ve never quite out grown my gangly-ness), gives me more confidence and best of all makes me faster (both mentally and physically).

Initially I was a little apprehensive about training with Marcus at Combat Ready as all my previous gym experience has been being left by myself to get on with it and I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be with someone watching me and telling me what to do. I also had reservations about the whole concept of a personal trainer…my previous opinion was that PTs were only for people who weren’t motivated enough to train by themselves and that PTs themselves were gym bunnies that only took qualifications so that they could spend more time working out and looking at themselves in mirrors. The mirrors also leads me to my dislike of ‘gyms’ in general with their colour coordinated corporate images and rows of pointless fixed-weight machines. Haha rant over and now for the remedy…Combat Ready.

This is not the case at Combat Ready. It is described as a bare bones gym and that is exactly what it is. No TVs and tasteful art work here. It is for people who want to work hard and get results, not those who want to have a chat with a friend while walking on a running machine and then go for a smoothie. I love it!

My other reservations proved equally unfounded as Marcus immediately inspired confidence. His knowledgeable and intelligent style gave me complete faith in his judgment and as the session progressed his mixture of chat and encouragement really motivated me to see what I was capable of, as well as helping me get over my initial self-consciousness.

Marcus has a great approach that sets high expectations and pushes you to achieve, tempered by an awareness (probably from his martial arts background) of what your limits are, so you are never pushed too far. You never feel that you are just doing repetitions for the sake of it but as part of a greater scheme. There is no redundant, obligatory number of reps just because that was what the original plan was. It is all tailored to you, whether you want to lose weight or recover from an injury (3).

In short, I cannot recommend Marcus and Combat Ready highly enough…this blog actually started off as a standard testimonial… “I really enjoy doing functional weight training with Marcus at Combat Ready…” but it has morphed into a bit of a monster. The standard phrases just didn’t seem to convey what I wanted to say. So the take away points of my rant are as follows:

  • Strength training is important for girls (you wont get big muscles but you might avoid broken bones).
  • Not all PTs are muscle bound muppets (to paraphrase).
  • I am not always right (most of the time I am though).
  • Combat Ready is unlike almost any gym you have been to and if you want to work hard and get results it is likely the place for you.
  • Marcus is a knowledgeable and motivating trainer that will help you reach your goals, if you listen and do what you’re told (I’m still working on that last one).

The usual disclaimer applies: I have an opinion on everything but am an expert in nothing so don’t take my word on it. Look into it for yourselves.

  1. http://syattfitness.com/athletic-performance/developing-explosive-strength-and-power-for-athletic-performance/
  2. http://style.uk.msn.com/health/are-women-becoming-weedy
  3. http://kravmagaedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/training-injuries.html

Failing to prepare…

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to  fail” – Benjamin Franklin

So at the end of week 1 I’m a little disappointed. I started strong. I had a fixed plan for the beginning of the week, 2 swims, strength session at Combat Ready, a run with JCI, a spin session at Lifescycle and then I thought the rest of the week would take care of itself…not true as it turns out. I should have known better. By the end of the week lots of work had piled up, added to that were family commitments and some more work, so this is what happened…

Celtman Training Week 1

Celtman Training Week 1

I did manage to rescue the weekend a bit on Sunday but, still Friday and Saturday were completely wasted. This week requires a more proactive approach, so here we are…

Plan for Celtman Training Week 2

Plan for Celtman Training Week 2

I’m good with a plan. I think a lot of us are. You have the structure and then you fit everything around that…or you fit it around your other commitments. It just helps me to use the time I have so much better, as well as allowing me to relax. I have a tendency to get a bit wound up (understatement) when I feel I don’t have enough time…there is never enough time as far as I’m concerned, but if I have a plan the exercise becomes a relaxing escape rather then just yet another thing I have to do.

The other thing I’ve decided is that I have to put my bike on the rollers every time I want to watch anything on my iPad…so either lots more cycling or a lot less crap on TV. A win, win! And I’m sure you are also admiring my high tech laminated coloured paper with written notes…it’s very exciting. I’ve got 5 colours. Why? Well it turns out that while I love technology, I don’t find it relaxing. Especially after a week spent in front of various devices. Training has to be an escape. A place of calm and for some reason coloured paper and actually writing stuff down makes me happy. And that is what’s important 😀