A month of personal bests!

So it’s been 2 weeks since my last training update, and things are going great! Its been a couple of weeks of setting goals and absolutely smashing them. I’ve learnt to allow myself a rest day without feeling guilty about it and this has definitely been helping with my training sessions. I’m feeling strong and positive…there’s no stopping me!

I’ve been focusing a lot on my running and swimming recently. The dark nights still mean its a struggle to get on the bike and go for a ride. I’ve have had a very strong and successful couple of weeks at running club, albeit rather challenging. I suppose you could say I’ve been taking things easy on myself, only running around 4 miles max. Although that all changed earlier in the month when we set off on what I thought was a 4 miler, which turned into a 6.5 miler! I won’t lie, the last mile was tough and my legs were starting to feel it but I refused to give in. I pushed myself and I’m so glad I did, I haven’t ran that distance in a long time. I would never have ran that far if I went out on my own, there is no way I thought I would have been able to run it all without stopping…but I did πŸ™‚

After running 6.5 miles at a steady pace I moved up to the next speed group last week and headed out with the faster guys to see how I could cope with the pace and if I could keep up. It was tough going, I didn’t think I was going to be able to keep up at first, but, me being my usual stubborn self refused to fall behind and ran like my life depended on it, another 6.5 miles in the bag at a pace of 9.32. I felt it the next day and my knee was playing up a little, but that could be a combination of new trainers, more miles and a faster pace. Anyway, all my hard work paid off at this weeks Parkrun when I got another new PB of 26.38!! I literally could not believe it! To think that at the start of the year it was taking me more than 30 minutes to run 5k, I honestly couldn’t be happier. It is still a way to go to even get close to 22.32 again (my pace about 7 years ago), but I am much older now and my body has changed, I may not get back to that but I’m gonna give it a good go, after all, your own self doubt is your biggest enemy, and once you learn you can actually do this…anything is possible!

So in my previous blog post I explained how I hate swimming and that I faced one of my biggest fears and finally put my head in the water! I invested in some decent goggles and just did it. I was terrified, but I stuck with it and by the end of the week it wasn’t actually that scary. Well since then I have reached another milestone in my training journey….I finally attempted front crawl, yes, it was awful! I have struggled with my breathing and kept feeling really breathless. I noticed that I have had to take so many more rests than I usually do. I started off breathing every second stroke so that I wouldn’t feel as out of breath. After a couple of days doing this I found that I kept drifting and wasn’t swimming very straight. I slowed my pace right down and took my time with it, breathing every 3 strokes. I am only swimming 800 meters at the moment and by the end of the week I could manage just about half of that front crawl. It is a lot more tiring than breast stroke. I’m really proud that I have come so far with my swimming, I know I still have a way to go yet before I’m strong enough and ready for my open water swim in June, but every week I get stronger and manage to achieve another thing that I didn’t think I could do.

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too” – Paulo Coelho

Just keep swimming

Hey everyone, can you believe its February already! The weeks are just flying.

So this week I have been concentrating on lots of swimming and trying to spend more time in the pool as this is one of my weak areas. I finally invested in a decent pair of goggles and a nose clip. I really struggle putting my head in the water because no matter how hard I try, I still get water up my nose, hence the nose clip. I’m not going to lie, I was so nervous about putting my head in but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do my first triathlon swimming the way I currently am. So I did it, I braved the water and hoped for the best. It was as traumatic as I expected it to be. I managed 2 lengths of the 25m pool. I just couldn’t get my breathing right, so I had a little tantrum at the side of the pool, took my goggles and nose clip off and swam without. I was looking around at all the ‘pro’s’ thinking, how do they make it look so easy, why do I find it so hard. I can swim, my mum put me in swimming lessons as a kid, I even hated it back then, but why am I finding this so hard?! After a few lengths of ‘holiday swimming’ as I like to call it and after having a firm word with myself I decided to try again. I felt like everyone was watching me, thinking ‘what is that girl doing, goggles on off on off’. I made myself a promise that I was going to do at least more than 2 lengths with my goggles on. Off I went with the biggest push off from the side that I could manage. I took my time instead of trying to swim my usual pace and tried to concentrate on what my body was doing and my breathing. I managed 6 lengths this time before I had to take a break, I was really happy with that and decided it wasn’t as bad as I first thought.

I went swimming another 4 times that week wearing my googles and I feel like I’ve found my rhythm and finally feel comfortable putting my head in the water which is a massive achievement for me. My next challenge will be to try and make the change from breast stroke to front crawl. The swim part of my triathlon is open water so if I did swim breast stroke this will really slow me down and I will probably use more energy than I need to. I want to try and save my energy for the bike and run and use the swim as a warm up to loosen myself up. I am currently thinking about maybe booking some swimming lessons to help me with my stroke and make me a stronger swimmer but I will see how the next couple of weeks go. This week I have learnt to not compare myself to other swimmers in the pool. I don’t know anything about them or there training, I have no idea how long they have been swimming or if they are training for anything in particular. I felt paranoid on that first swim with the goggles and felt like everyone was watching and laughing at me, but as the week progressed and I built up my confidence I realized, everyone is going about their everyday swim as they usually do, they’re not interested in what I’m doing. So, here is to becoming a fitter, stronger, more confident swimmer as the weeks go by.

I’ve spent more time swimming this week than anything else. I have done a couple of runs, including park run and some HIIT sessions but no cycling! I’m finding it difficult to get out on the bike during the week as its dark by the time I finish work, and weekends have been busy. However, I am not all about the excuses, there is a cycle track close to where I live so I will try and get there this week and starting increasing my cycling and start racking up the miles.

I also finally gave in and allowed myself a couple of rest days. It was just what I needed and my training sessions have been much better and feeling stronger and more energized. Although after 1 day off I was itching to put on my trainers and start training again! Again this is something that I am going to have to learn to allow myself to enjoy without feeling guilty, these things take time after all!

‘Of all the judgement we pass in life, non is as important as the one we pass on ourselves’- Nathaniel Branden

Rest day guilt

So here we are, week 2 completed and still going strong. I haven’t felt this determined and motivated in a very long time. I can honestly say I am loving my training right now.

I have spent the week doing more research online about training programs, and so far  haven’t really come across a plan that I want to adapt or make my own just yet. So I am happy to continue doing my own thing, listening to my own body, working on my weaknesses, and doing whats right for me. After all, what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.

This week my main focus has been to work on my cardiovascular fitness and overall body strength. Running club on Tuesday was a great success. I have only been running 3 miles so far and have been trying to increase my speed. I was running with a different group than normal and we ran 4 miles at a slightly faster pace than normal. After pushing myself with the guys to hit the 4 mile mark I decided to push for the 4 miles on my solo run on Thursday which was a struggle, being on my own and without the distraction of my fellow runners but managed to do it somehow. To anyone that wants to start running I highly recommend seeing if there is a local running club that you can join. You will push yourself further and run harder than what you would do on your own. Its not just about you being a better runner, but its being part of a team, encouraging each other to dig deep, congratulating each other when you’ve had a good run and making new friends with the same interests, but the best part is, being able to move up to the next speed group πŸ™‚                                                                                                    Increasing my running distance to the 4 mile mark has had a positive affect on this weeks park run results. I have been struggling for a while to beat my most recent PB of 29.30 that I got back in May last year. I was not looking forward to the morning run, it was -3 Celsius and icy underfoot but somehow I managed to hit a new PB of 28.19 with an average pace of 9.06 min/mi. Its safe to say Saturday was a great day!

I have done a couple of body-weight HIIT sessions this week. I personally think HIIT training is the best way to quickly improve your overall cardiovascular fitness levels and is great for improving body strength. I am planning on starting to include some weight circuits to my training in a few weeks time but these HIIT sessions will help ease me into it. No matter what you’re training for, be it a marathon or triathlon, weight training is essential, I think, to make you more efficient, stronger and less likely to get an injury.

So I have been fighting a cold since the new year, it keeps coming and going but I can’t seem to completely shift it. I have a good nutritious diet, drink lots of water and take vitamins. I have now decided that it could be down to lack of rest days. In the past 14 days I have only had 1 rest day and most days, as well as my main training session, I will attend my local yoga class. Don’t get me wrong, apart from having a constant cold, I feel great, so strong and healthy, but I can’t help but feel really guilty when I have a rest day. When I do try and rest all I can think about is my next training session….I’m addicted. Hi, my name is Christina and I am addicted to training. Surely I cannot be the only person that feels this way? I never felt like this when I was training for the London marathon, I had to force myself to train for that, but this is so much different and it must be down to the variation of training sessions. I have my next rest day planned for 30th January, I know it must sound ridiculous, 2 rest days in 22 days, but what is the minimum amount of rest days we should take anyway? Surely it can’t be the same for everyone, everyone’s body’s are different and recover differently, just like some people can function on less than 8 hours sleep, different bodies run and survive on different things, we are not all the same. Saying this I have noticed that I now need on average 9 hours sleep which is around an extra hour and half that I was having before training, and at the weekends I can easily sleep for 10 hours. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing? I go to yoga class 5 times per week and each class is 90 minutes long. I really do think this is having a positive effect on my body and training. I haven’t had any aches or pains from training (touch wood) and I haven’t felt this strong in a long time. But, I am aware that I can’t continue training so hard the way I am at the moment without burning myself out. I have decided that from February (because January is almost over) I will start taking more rest days so that I am allowing my body the time to rest and recuperate.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily” – Zig Ziglar

The Beginning

So, I have successfully completed my first week of triathlon training, if that’s what you can call it. Sometime before Christmas I had a spontaneous moment and entered myself into my first ever triathlon. Now here I am, after my first week of training wondering what the hell am I doing!

The only things I know about triathlons is that you have to swim, cycle and run with a few distances to chose from. I have entered into the sprint distance, I could have entered the Olympic which is the standard distance, but I am a massive fan of living. You have to start with baby steps after all. For those of you who are not familiar with triathlons a sprint distance consists of a 750m swim, 20km cycle finished with a 5km run….sounds like a walk in the park!

So to help kick start my training I have decided to join my local road running club to help keep me motivated. At the moment I am just winging it, trying to make it through each training session, still trying to find my feet. There are so many training plans out there which can be so daunting and confusing, where do you even start. I don’t start and finish work at the same time everyday so this is something I have to consider. I tend to find training plans difficult to stick to, life gets in the way so sometimes that swim that you’re supposed to be doing on a Wednesday morning might not be possible, just like the weekend cycle that, according to your plan, you have to do to make sure you will be fit enough come race day. Why do online training plans have to be regimented? Am I the only human that feels like this, surely not?

I have spent my first week making sure that I do a workout each day ensuring I am covering one of the triathlon disciplines. So far I have been alternating between swimming and running each day. The days that I swim, I cycle to the gym and back. I am aware that I do need to be doing more cycling but for someone who is new to cycling on the road it has been a bit of a challenge, the first being my confidence on the roads. The only cycling you would catch me doing before now would be on a stationary bike in the spinning studio, cycling on the road is a whole other ball game! The past week I have managed to build my confidence slowly on the road which resulted in a 6.4km ride on Sunday, this was a bit of an achievement for me.

My first week of training has helped me establish where my fitness levels are at and how much work I need to do. I can run 5k comfortably but would like to work on my time, although running 5k after swimming and cycling will be interesting! I need to spend quite a bit of time on my bike building strength in my legs, cycling is much tougher for me than running is….strange. I can currently swim 800m non-stop but really need to work on my stoke. I don’t have a particular time that I want to do the triathlon in, I just want to finish it and still feel strong at the end of it. This next week I will focus on getting on my bike more and attempting to write my own training plan because why the hell not…