Posted by: fitartist | April 24, 2014

To the Spitfire

School holidays are always tricky for someone who likes a bit of consistency in their training, but I seem to have managed to keep up my training over Easter (although the swimming took a bit of a back seat). I was starting to get a bit anxious about the lack of cycling going on, as the triathlon gets ever closer ( just over three weeks to go now!), so Edward suggested getting out on my bike on Easter Monday. I was a bit excited about this prospect and lay awake, twitching at the thought of whizzing along the roads on my lovely bike. My main worry has been getting lost…I know, I know, so Edward suggested using Google Maps, which can be set to give directions, so I got that going and, after way too much faffing, I set off on my merry way.

My solo ride gave me the opportunity to try out my new cycling shirt from Tribesports. I have found it hard to find a cycle top that is long enough, doesn’t ride up around my middle but is nice and close around the arms and shoulders, but this one does the trick and also looks rather lovely too.

Selfie with cheeky imposter

Selfie with cheeky imposter

The stay-in-place ability of the top is helped by these neat little rubber grippy nobbles on the seam around the bottom. Another nice detail is the little zip pocket in addition to some larger pockets, allowing you to secure a bit of money, or your phone (though I found the bigger pockets more easily accessible and deep enough to keep a phone safe).

2014-04-24 14.26.18

So, bedecked in lycra, I took to the roads of South East London, and was soon heading into unknown territory on a quiet Bank Holiday morning. In my state of general nervousness, I had to stop every time I came to a new junction and check my map…numerous cyclists passed me by, doing the nod and probably muttering ‘Amateur’ under their breath. Whenever I reached a quieter stretch of road, I went for it, picking up speed and noticing just how smiley cycling makes me…I can’t be the only person (adult person that is) who goes ‘Weeeeeeee’ as they cycle down hill.

Magnificent

Magnificent

In what seemed like no time at all, I was seeing signs for Biggin Hill and was soon speeding along the road that takes you to the Spitfire. Of course, I had to pull over and take a photo, I was pretty chuffed to have reached this point. As I looked at my map, I could see that I could keep on going towards Westerham, but decided I should turn here and head for home. The return leg was less consumed with map-studying – it always seems much easier to navigate home. My competitive streak kicked in as I tailed some fancy-schmancy riders and I felt fresh, with enough fuel in my limbs to go further. Next time.

So that’s 40k of solo riding.

Posted by: fitartist | April 11, 2014

Core!

(Read that in a Cockney accent)

There’s so much to remember, so much to fit in. In amongst the running, the swimming and the cycling, I also need to think about my core. Sheesh! It’s worth it though, I love the feeling of everything lifting when I pull in my abs and the propulsion I get when I swing my arms strongly on a hill. I guess it’s all about finding a spot in the day where you can fit in a neat little routine to cover all the wobbly bits bases, something to smooth out your…

Humps, Welsh style

Humps, Welsh style

I’ve been trying to get down every day and have a go at the Tribesports Core Workout. It’s great to have a really simple guide to work through in about ten minutes (though I must admit to only managing part of it so far…I promise to try harder). You might like to join Tribesports and log your core-busting efforts and check out other challenges that might help give you some focus.

I’ve been slightly distracted this week with a trip to Wales to see my family. I did get out and run on three out of the four days though, so not too bad. And it’s hilly! I was constantly reminded of where my desire to get my head down and tackle a hill comes from…it’s worth it for the views. I did manage a pool visit too, I won’t call it a swim because I was mostly stepping back and admiring Hector’s nerve in the water as he attempted to teach me how to tumble (yes, I am taking lessons from a fearless six-year-old). Round and round he went, six tumbles without taking a breath. As I hesitated he looked at me, concerned: ‘Are you scared?!’ Busted! Not wishing to disappoint him, I moved aside and practised, over and over and over until I managed a somersault. It felt good. I am yet to put this into action with a swim stroke, wall-push and butterfly legs…unless watching You Tube videos over and over counts…So, to add to my already triathlon-dense training schedule there’s good, hard core work and a spinning attempt at tumble-turns. I might find time to sleep.

Posted by: fitartist | April 3, 2014

You wait for a PB and four come along at once!

Yup, four. It went something like this…

On March 1st (St David’s Day) I ran HillyFields parkrun in 26.16, knocking almost a minute off my previous time. The next week I amazed myself by dipping under the 26 minute mark with a run of 25.42. Not satisfied with that, I pushed myself further and faster the following week and clocked 25.33 then, the following week saw my fourth PB in a row, with a breathtakingly close time of 25.01. On my Garmin it said 25.00 and I’m very happy with that :) How long have I been working towards a 25 minute 5k? I hadn’t imagined it would be up at Hilly Fields though!

This all bodes well for my triathlon training. I am training hard, running four times a week, getting to the Tuesday night club run when I can. I’m swimming hard, aiming to fit in at least three pool sessions a week, but I still need to get out on the bike more…I need a bike buddy :( Talking of swimming, I decided it might be good to have a couple of lessons, to see how I’m getting on and see if I can improve on my technique. A couple of times this week I have taken a deep breath and ducked into the ‘fast lane’. Now I normally weave up and down the ‘medium lane’, overtaking here and there and feeling quite fast. The fast lane is a whole new world. I found myself in there on Monday just because it was empty and I was confidently carving through the water until a graceful water baby got in and, with a flick of her feet, overtook me and glided off without causing the slightest ripple. As I swam after her, I watched in awe as she executed the most perfect tumble turn, complete with dolphin-like body-ripple and effortlessly took the lane.

Sigh.

So, back to my lesson. I swam a length front-crawl and my teacher asked if I had been coached (a-ha-ha-ha!), because the way I moved my arms looked like I had been coached. I don’t know if YouTube videos count. We then went on to look at my one-sided breathing and low legs…but look at my arms, my arms! I did some tricky little drills, swallowing gulps of pool and got confused a lot, forgetting how to count and which is left and which is right. After all that, as a parting shot, he said ‘As your triathlon is in the pool, you’ll be doing tumble-turns, right?’ Errr, yeah, if you say so. This is where I dived right out of my comfort zone. I was asked to do a forward roll in the water, cue attempt at forward roll until I stop myself because I don’t like being upside-down. We moved on to a handstand to ease into the upside-down thing, cue legs akimbo. End of lesson. We all talked about my half-hearted tumbling exploits over dinner and it seems I have a six-year-old tumbling superstar in my midst! Apparently Hector did six somersaults in the water without breathing on their last trip to the pool…so he tried his best to explain to me how it’s done…oh, to have the nerve and exuberance of a small water-loving child! I certainly have a lot to think about next time I’m in the water. There is the worry that I’m actually doing ok and maybe I shouldn’t mess with it, but I really would like to get a bit faster and swim more efficiently…and master that blimmin’ tumble-turn.

I’ll keep you updated!

 

 

 

Posted by: fitartist | March 25, 2014

London Duathlon, Sign up!

*Types really quickly so you can stop reading and get a place*

I’m all signed up to take on the challenge of the London Duathlon in September. I thought I should really go for it, so got myself a ‘Classic’ distance place, that is: 10k run, 44k ride, 5k run. Gulp. Last time I looked there were still places, but they’re going fast. Other distances still available are in the Sprint and Super Sprint (10k, 22k, 5k and 5k, 11k, 5k).

Jenni Falconer, Ambassador

Jenni Falconer, Ambassador

This is what Jenni Falconer, Ambassador for London Duathlon has to say: 

“The beauty of London Duathlon is that there is a race for everyone. Whether you are starting out on your first run-bike-run experience with the Super Sprint or are a seasoned pro ready to take on the Ultra – there is a challenge to suit all.

The event combines two of my favourite pastimes with running one of my favourite ways to unwind after a stressful day, while at the weekends I love cycling with my family as a way to keep fit. London Duathlon combines the two with a fantastic event village to keep the family entertained while you race. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy an unforgettable Sunday.’

London Duathlon offers four individual and one team challenge:

  • Super Sprint – the ideal distance for those new to multi-sports and aiming to set themselves a fresh personal challenge. Broken down into a 5K run, 11K cycle and 5K run, providing an achievable race for all abilities. Entry from £68.00

  • Sprint - suited to those short-distance specialists wanting to give themselves a new challenge over a 10K run, 22K cycle and 5K run. Entry from £70.00

  • Classic – the most popular distance at the world’s best duathlon testing duathletes over a 10K run, 44K cycle and 5K run distance. Entry from £80

  • Ultra – for the very toughest out there! The biggest challenge in multi-sports with participants taking on a 20K run, 77K cycle and finishing with a 10K run. Watch out for those jelly-legs after the cycle! Entry from £120.00 – SOLD OUT!

  • Classic Relay – get the team together and split the challenge between two or three friends each taking on one discipline over a 10K run, 44K cycle and 5K run. Entry from £125.00 – SOLD OUT

So quick, get yourself booked up and in training! I will be sharing my training on here, so join in and share yours too, advice and tips are always welcome, this is whole new world for me!

Posted by: fitartist | March 23, 2014

New Aldi Running Range Put to the Test

As I am in the depths of training for my first triathlon, I was delighted to be invited along to Crystal Palace Stadium to meet triathlete Daniel Bingham and to try out the new range of running apparel being released on April 3rd at Aldi stores around the country. Poor Daniel probably didn’t know what had hit him when I walked in and started grilling him on all things tri. He was very obliging though, and answered all my questions, giving me some top tips on how to structure my training and how to deal with the baffling issue of transition, something I already frown with anxiousness over. Some solid points I came away with were trying to fit in two sessions in each discipline each week: I currently run four times, swim at least three and try to get out for one longer ride, so I think I’ve got it covered quite well. He did say you can then allow for an extra session in your weaker area if need be, I’d say I need to build my confidence in my cycling, so will try and get out a bit more. With regards to that whole-new-world-of-transition, he suggested some ‘brick sessions’ nearer the time, this is where you do a shorter session of, say, cycling then get straight out and run to get used to the jelly-legged feeling. When I asked him about swimming, wondering if I should work my legs less to save them for the bike, he said to just swim normally and not worry too much about that, but to engage my legs more in the final couple of lengths to gear them up for running to transition, then riding. With regards to the transition area itself, apparently you have time to ‘rehearse’ this beforehand, so it’s good to really familiarise yourself with the position of your bike, walk through how you will approach from the swim and also how you will exit to the ride. My idea of flags and balloons to help you spot your gear isn’t allowed it seems.

We were then shown the new range of clothing and invited to try things on so we could go out to the track and really put them to the test. This brightly coloured top really caught my eye – I am pretty much exclusively a black-head-to-toe runner and have been admiring fellow parkrunners’ jolly attire of late, so I grabbed one of these, which I debuted yesterday. Oh, how my friends laughed as I gave the course a glow: ‘Adele, I need my sunglasses!’, ‘You’re a bit conspicuous!’ and so on…I did feel a bit obvious, but I think it will look great with a tan rather than freezing cold, goosebumpy March arms.

Lovely colourful gear

Lovely colourful gear

As you can see, the women’s range is mostly purple and *bright* pink and the men’s is green and blue. The quality and feel of the clothing is great, with nice details such as zip-pockets on leggings and a deep inside pocket on the jacket. For the session, I put on some black capri tights and a compression t-shirt and, as it was pretty blustery, I also opted to wear a jacket. We then went out to the track where Daniel set us off to warm up (cue little moment of joy as I ran on the track that super athletic stars such as Mo Farah have strode around during championship games). We did an interval session with some interesting drills to try and replicate the various transition sections of a tri. To get that heavy-legged post-ride feel, we were asked to do a set of squat-thrusts then run hard for 200m, and repeated this a few times, until we were really feeling the lactic acid building up. We then got all serious and tried to get a sense of the disorientation felt when you climb out of the pool, when your blood finds its way back around your body. This involved squat thrusts then, er, spinning around five times before attempting to run in a straight line. Told you it was serious stuff. Considering I had put the clothes on straight from the packet and really put them through their paces, they felt good. I did find the leggings were bunching up around my knees, but this is something I am used to since running tights are seemingly designed for tall people (I checked out the knees of a fellow runner with longer legs and there was no wrinkling going on there). There’s nothing can be done about my short legs, so maybe sports-wear companies can have a think about us little-uns…

I would definitely recommend the Aldi Specialbuy Running Range, the quality is good, the colours are lovely and they are so cheap! Prices range from £2.99 for running socks, with tops and trousers at £9.99 and some shorts for £5.99 (think yourself lucky I didn’t go ahead with the knee-exposing selfies I attempted to take to share the shorts!). I would say the jackets are an excellent bargain at just £15.99 and you can even get yourself some bluetooth earphones for £29.99. Also coming up in May and June are some cycling bits and bobs, which I will tell you all about nearer the time. In the meantime I will be brightening up my little corner of South East London ;)

Posted by: fitartist | March 13, 2014

Decathlon Squared

Do you fancy a new challenge? I’m feeling pretty fit at the moment, but I’m not entirely sure I’d manage some of these challenges…

Decathlon have come up with a series of tests of grit, determination and all-round fit-bod prowess. Just sign up, check out the various challenges, such as Plank Push-Ups, Russian Twists and Skip Squats, make a little video of yourself in action and share this online. Of course, it’s not all about prizes, but there are some great sporty spot prizes up for grabs and a top prize of £500 to spend at Decathlon. Not bad for something that also gets you that little bit fitter along the way.

This chap makes it all look so easy.

Erm, I might give it a try, but I think I’ll have to do some training first and choose the right camera angle ;)

Posted by: fitartist | March 11, 2014

parkrun pb

(please note the small ‘p’, I have been reprimanded on my incorrect use of the capital ‘P’ when writing ‘parkrun’. I promise to stick to the small ‘p’ from now on, and please ignore any previous references to ‘Parkrun’. Tsk.)

;)

Something is happening. Maybe it’s the running club. Maybe it’s the swimming. Maybe it’s sticking to four runs a week. Maybe it’s the push of running in company. Maybe it’s losing a bit of weight. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I have been bagging myself some PBs up at Hilly Fields parkrun. Saturday was a particularly happy run for me, as I pushed just under the 26 minute mark, with a run of 25.42. My goal for a long time has been a 25 minute 5k, but I never imagined that would be at Hilly Fields (the clue is in the name), but I might, just might, make that happen. One of the most interesting, amusing and fun aspects of this for me is running with different people. For a long time I have been following the same muddy legs around the course, but I now have new runners to pull me up the hills with their encouragement and find myself crossing the line with some people who might previously have gone home by the time I stop my watch. Some of these are people I would watch heading for the finish as I tackled the hill, but now I seem to be catching up… As we wait around to get our barcodes scanned, I find myself being congratulated by people who finish ‘up there’ at the front, all saying how well my running is going. This is what I love about parkrun, people notice how you’re doing, they recognise when you’ve worked hard and when you’ve managed a good run and are not shy about coming forward to say ‘well done’, whether you are a front-runner or a new-comer trying a run-walk approach.

The tricky side of getting a bit faster is keeping it up. I think we will be reverting to our original course this Saturday, now it’s dried out a little, and I wonder if this will make a difference to my time. All I can do is take another dose of performance enhancing training and just go for it.

Posted by: fitartist | February 25, 2014

Oh yes, I’m training to be a triathlete!

A friend asked me last week how my training is going. I had to have a think because I couldn’t remember what I was training for. Yes, I run four times a week, I swim three times a week and I sometimes get on my bike and tentatively weave along, imagining I am super smooth in my padded lycra pants. This is all good stuff right, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it training?! This set me thinking that I should get a bit more serious about it all and get myself a plan. Well, triathlon plans are a whole other world of geekery. I know running plans intimately, I know where I am with a tempo run and a LSR, but getting my head round a pool schedule and cycle routes is proving a bit of a challenge for me.

Last week was half-term, so all routines went out of the window as I attempted to keep a small boy amused while also trying to stay sane. It didn’t help that I also came down with a stinking cold and felt achy, tired and generally fed-up…I had to resort to running on a treadmill while Hector was in his gymnastics class on one occasion, just to feel like I was doing something. So, this week I am getting back in action. I bought myself a triathlon magazine and found myself drooling over such delights as cycling shoes and wetsuits and feeling inspired by pictures of muscley people climbing out of the sea. It worked anyway, and I had a super run in the sunshine yesterday and this morning I went for a swim and even got myself a new swimsuit. Now I have been trying to find a new, sporty, swim-suit for a while, thinking that my polka-dot halter-neck really isn’t triathlon enough. The horror of swim-suit shopping struck me as I stood, semi-naked in a dusty cubicle staring at myself looking decidedly sausage-like in a very tight bit of lycra. It’s taken me about four attempts to get to the till and actually buy anything, but this one seemed ok when I swam this morning, in fact I didn’t notice it, which must be a good sign. I have also been out for a little lunch-time spin on my lovely bike and tonight I am off to the running club.

So, that’s a triathlon isn’t it? Swim, ride, run. Da-dah! Maybe I need to work on getting them happening consecutively, but it’s a start.

Posted by: fitartist | January 29, 2014

Go Faster Stripes

>checks sides of body for signs of go-faster stripes< Well, I smashed my Hilly Fields Parkrun PB on Saturday! The previous week we had made the decision to change the course slightly, to avoid sending runners along a dangerously slippery stretch of grass mud. This meant a more speed-inducing stretch of concrete path, but we did have to increase the time spent on our most challenging hill (which is met three times around the 5k route). That week I had marshalled, directing people down to the bottom of the hill and watching them grimace as they had to grit their teeth and get themselves to the top. The feedback was good: regulars enjoyed the change and there was buzz in the air at the finish line. On Saturday I thought I’d give it a go too. It’s amazing the difference a little extra hill can make, oh it was tough! But somehow this pushed me on (I do seem to have something in me that allows me to overtake on hills and I find I can gain ground here…hmmmm) and I found myself half-way up the last hill, looking at a possible PB on my watch. This is where I started to feel sick, like really sick, like ‘Oh no, I really am going to chuck!’. A quick pep-talk with myself about not showing myself up and not getting a PB soon got me breathing hard and pushing to the finish: 26.21, just under a minute faster than my previous PB! Yesssss!

One of my favourite/most used running routes has taken an interesting turn recently. The Waterlink Way, along the section between Lower Sydenham and Catford, has been brought to life by Close and Remote. Starting at the southern end of the walk, you can listen on your phone as you hear a drama unfolding alongside the ambient sounds of the river and nearby railway line (I would recommend headphones as I lost some of the words to a passing train). As you reach the bridge where the River Pool and the River Ravensbourne meet, you can scan some QR codes and enjoy the results of various workshops that took place over the summer – you might spot the little paper boats that Hector and I made, floating along the river. It’s interesting when somewhere familiar, somewhere you feel a sense of ownership over is given a new role, when the things you pass all the time take on new meaning and are given a new depth that will come back to you every time you pass by.

QR codes at the rivers' meet

QR codes at the rivers’ meet

Posted by: fitartist | January 16, 2014

British 10k London Run 2014

I’m running, are you? Maybe this little video will inspire you to sign up:

After my recent picking up of the pace, I’m wondering how fast I can go on a scenic, flat course…plenty of time to work towards it too :)

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