It’s been a while since my last post and there’s a lot to write about. I’m starting to wonder how I’m ever going to fit in writing about all the training after actually doing the training, working full time and studying.
So far, I’ve mostly been running, but there are two other whole sports to drag myself through before I even get to the run! So, it’s about time I write about my experiences of all of three over the last few weeks.
Running. Or who thought this was a good idea?!
Being the thing I’ve started with, I have a lot more to say about running than I have about swimming or cycling.
That doesn’t mean I’m any good at it. I tend to stay at the back and I don’t mind coming last. Still, I give it a good go and am finding myself out at least two or three times a week.
My main training days are Tuesdays and Thursdays after work with the running club. Tuesday is a fairly standard session where we go on a fairly steady training run, perhaps trying to increase the distance each time. Thursday is hills.
The club I run with is very good at hills. Thursday training isn’t just about running up a few more hills than usual. Thursdays are for hill sprints.
Hill sprints consist of about 7 or 8 hills (plus optional ones if you really want to go for it) of varying lengths and gradients over roughly 5 miles. The group of questionably sane athletes take a slow jog to the first hill (this is the warm up) then proceed, often without warning, to sprint to the top. They then wait for any remaining stragglers (me) to crawl to the top, we all jog on to the next hill and repeat. My mother takes this training very seriously. She is often racing the fastest men to the top and is very proud to be able to overtake almost anyone up a hill. Hill training, for me, is more about making it to the top of the hill.
A couple of weeks ago, after running up one of the hardest hills in the area (commonly known as ‘Morrison’s Hill’) very slowly, we started to head back. With tired legs and warn out lungs, it was nice to know it was nearly over.
Of course that doesn’t mean there are no more hills. But the next one was at least short. And we had a bit of a rest at traffic lights before running up it. And so the lights changed and off they went again, my mother and one of the fastest men leading the way. I followed, thinking I might as well make a token effort.
As I moved my legs as fast as I possibly could, I started to see the gap closing. They were moving away, but still getting closer and I knew that I could overtake them both before the top! I refuse to accept that they were perhaps not going as fast as they could have and were probably very warn out from all the other hills they’d sprinted before. I still won in the race to the top.
In addition to the Tuesday and Thursday sessions, I have started going on Friday mornings before work.
There is nothing quite like going out at 6:15 in the morning when it is dark and raining to make you feel hard core. Especially with tired, post-hill legs.
All of this running makes for quite a tiring week. That’s without adding anything else in.
Swimming. Or learning to breathe underwater without gills.
My next challenge has been learning to swim. For once, this is something I’m actually not that bad at. I think.
As a child I was taught to swim by my aunt and her then husband, who does triathlons. This has meant I’ve never been a super slow swimmer, but I’ve also tried my best to avoid swimming if at all possible over the years, so I’ve never really progressed much.
My main issue with swimming is that I really don’t like getting wet. Especially getting my hair wet. Turns out this makes a dynamic swim quite tricky.
On the few occasions that I have been swimming recently I have put my head under water. My Mum’s husband has kindly given me a few pointers, the key one being that I need to keep my head down and just turn to breathe. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
The first length (25m) is never too bad, but then I start to get tired. Several times I have found myself swallowing a considerable amount of water. I also seem to have a habit of breathing in through my nose when I get to the end. I don’t recommend trying this.
But, I have decided to give it a good go and remember that I have a fairly good starting point. You never know, it may well end up being my best stage.
Cycling. Or a lesson in how not to go about buying a bike.
The final element to tackle is cycling. This is the activity I have done the least.
My first hurdle here is buying a bike.
Considering my Mum and her husband are both triathletes and my stepdad used to cycle for the Welsh national team, you’d think buying the bike would be the easy part.
It was not.
My first trip to a bike shop was in Stratford a few weeks ago. I was measured for the frame size (51) and spent some time looking through the various types available. It was a fairly uneventful trip.
Looking around the shop we decided that the Cannondale Synapse Ladies Ultegra would be quite a good fit, a very pretty white with sparkly silver details. It was the 2015 model, so discounted by quite some way too. However, not wanting to rush into things, we decided to go away and think about it, especially as I can use the cycle scheme to help out a bit.
A couple of weeks ago, we then went to another shop, closer to home, to get a few more details and order the bike.
Sadly, the bike I had hoped for is no longer available. I was prepared for this though. It is the all model now, after all. What is more unfortunate is the colour of the 2016 model. It had a no from me.
After talking to the owner of the shop, we eventually came to the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Women’s Ultegra. It is a mid to dark grey with an icy blue stripe and white handlebars and seat.
With the bike chosen, the next half an hour was spent going through lists of what else I would need to get me started on a bike. I already have a hat, but everything else is very much needed, including clippy pedals, clippy shoes, a stand pump, a bike pump, bike lights, a bottle cage, and so many clothes. In the end we decided the easiest thing to do would be to put down a value and decide on the final list later.
Excitingly, the bike is now on order and I’ve been able to save a lot more than I expected on the cycle scheme. All I will need to do is collect it when it comes in. One thing I will remember is to write a list of accessories, not just go in blind. I have learnt that that is how to buy a bike.
So, that is what I’ve been doing recently.
I have also done my first cross country, but that is for another post.