Sunday, 30 December 2012

Heart Rates and Headwinds

The broken Suunto
I haven't trained to heart rate for ages, for the sole reason that the rubber strap on my Suunto T3d snapped and I couldn't wear it. I scoured the internet for a replacement and after no success, rang Suunto who told me that my watch colour was apparently the only single one that was discontinued and no longer available anywhere. I had chosen awesome green specifically, I didn't want berry red or boring black or the silly "women's" version that's exactly the same but in light grey with a baby pink stripe. After considering my options, I decided I couldn't cope with putting a different strap on my watch and being uncoordinated. The only option was to buy a new watch. The new watch was a Garmin 405cx and the HR strap that's supplied is definitely not designed for anyone who a) has a small frame, b) has to wear a sports bra and c) cares about any sort of comfort. So there is a slightly longer than intended story for you about why I gave up on heart rate. Now, back to the matter in hand...

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

What To Do When You Don't Finish

It was mental torment. From mile 4 my knee was niggling with the odd sharp twinge. My throat was still sore from a dirty virus that's been sitting in it and I just wasn't feeling my normal energetic self. Despite doing my best to ignore all of that, my mind was playing games; I couldn't decide if I was being a total wuss and needed to give myself a good talking to or if I should just stop before I make any of it any worse.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Advice for Marathons

I've received many words of advice this week for the upcoming marathon. The vast majority of them have been along the lines of "don't do anything, anything at all", with some just a little less extreme "if you really want to, you can go for a teeny, tiny run the day before, but other than that, don't do anything". Doing nothing has come easy this week as taper flu has been hitting me from every angle. My movements have pretty much not deviated from being either laid in bed, sat on the recliner, sat at my desk, sat in the car or wandering with zero haste between any of the above.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Attack of the Taper Flu

Norovirus is rife at the moment and winter colds are floating about infecting the general public as everybody huddles inside away from the sub-zero temperatures. Air conditioning systems blasting out hot air are sharing the germs generously around and wine flu is also particularly virulent as the Christmas Party season is in full swing.

There is however, something much worse lurking in the background. A sneaky, unpleasant disease that lays dormant until your taper for your next big event begins. Taper Flu is tricky to diagnose as it can take so many different forms; it can get into your respiratory system and mimic a chest or throat infection; it can affect your brain so you start doubting your ability to complete your upcoming challenge and it can even get into your muscles, playing havoc with old injuries or throwing up new ones. This list is not exhaustive. In bad cases it can take over your whole body and you can be affected by all of the ailments above.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Running on Rubbish

I think there must be something about marathon training that gives you a bigger than normal appetite. Anything over a two hour run - in my mind - is pretty massive in running terms and on every long run day I've felt the need to "ensure adequate nutrition" (read: eat a lot) both before, during and after the session. For recovery, of course.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Icy Isle of Wight

A cool, fresh, clear blue sky awaited us as we headed towards the Isle of Wight on the early morning ferry for a 60 mile sportive. Ruth and I had found somebody else we knew who had done it before and she had freaked us out a bit by telling us how big and steep the hills were. I was riding the cyclocross as the roadie is out of action at the moment, and as the gears on the CX are much less forgiving, I had visions of humiliating walks up hills whilst Ruth pootled away in front on her triple. Nonetheless, we started out comfortably and had no intention of riding the 60 miles very hard, so if walking was necessary, so be it.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Not Quite 20 Mile Run

Today's long run was more like a comedy of errors than a training session. I'd plotted a route following mystery tracks and by-ways and had uploaded it onto the garmin so I could go out without getting lost. A few snacks went into my little bag and I was gloved, hatted and ready to battle the cold.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Downton Half + 5

When I think back to the Downton Half last year, I only remember happy feelings about my first half marathon experience. However, I did reread the blog post and recalled going through a bit of emotional turmoil when hunger set in at 5 miles as I ran having forgotten to bring anything carbilicious with me. I was surprised the same didn't happen today. I hadn't really built the race up in my head at all; it was simply an easy way of getting my long run in. Sort of easy anyway, my plan was to run the half at a very leisurely pace and then try to run a faster 5 mile loop afterwards. Whilst feeling very relaxed about the whole affair is a good thing, forgetting to bring (for the second year running) any gels/bars/food of any type for an 18 mile run was definitely an error.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Quest for the Negative Split

I can't pace myself. No matter how good my intentions, or how in depth my mental preparation is, as soon as I hear the word "go", natural instincts override everything, massive exercise excitement sets in and I go off like a rocket.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Marathon Motivation

Despite always saying that I didn't want to “go long” – I signed up for my first marathon. It was a combination of wanting a winter goal and a good excuse to get lots of miles loaded up into the legs for next year. I was even very, very sensible about my approach; I took a few weeks off running completely to rest and refresh the muscles (and the mind), then intricately formulated a 16 week training plan leading me up to race day, with rest weeks and everything!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Garmin Swim Review

The box had arrived when I got home from work. I did a tiny squeal of excitement and frantically went about pulling the package apart. Then I sat there for what was probably a good ten minutes, ogling my brand new swimming watch. Whilst I had been scouting out the swim watch market for a little while, I had bought this on somewhat of a whim and I admit, it was a purchase made in the heat of the moment without too much consideration. Nonetheless, it looked like instinct had prevailed.. based on the fact that it was pretty and it fitted my (very small) wrist.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Stoptober

The Stoptober campaign begins today, “a new, exciting 28 day challenge to stop smoking”. When I first read about it, I immediately had a couple of issues. First and foremost, presuming that it is in fact playing on the name of the month “October” and that isn’t just a very strange coincidence, it appears to be missing three days. Furthermore, surely if it was that easy to just stop, everyone would do it, wouldn’t they?

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Revival

In all honesty, I have not been going healthy recently. At all. I used the build up to my big swim as an excuse to overeat enormously and my packet-a-day cookie habit has come back with a chocolatey vengeance. A knee injury threw a spanner in the works as my fully planned out 16 week marathon training plan ceased to commence at the start of September and since then I haven't really reassessed the goals or gotten myself back in the zone. In general, motivation has just been seriously lacking, except motivation for exhausting all of Salisbury's supermarkets of their sweet baked good supplies.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Dart 10k.. an ACTUAL 10k swim

Signing up to a 10k swim was a wine-induced idea inspired almost solely by the novelty that it would be a swim with food included. As the event drew closer though, I became less and less convinced that it was actually an achievable goal. I had completely mentally prepared myself to not be hugely disappointed if I didn't manage to get through it.

Plenty of tips were offered to me: just keep moving to stay warm, eat as much as you can, wear as many thick swim caps as you can get away with, silicone ear plugs save you a perceived few degrees.. all very sound advice. My favourite snippet though, the wisdom I took with me through the event, was from my slightly alternative thinking Canadian buddy Hillary: "You'll be alright, just pretend you're a mermaid". Genius.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Daring to do the Dart 10k

I have written many a time of my convoluted love/hate relationship with swimming. It seems that if I am not training for anything in particular then I really rather enjoy it and get on just fine, but as soon as a goal is up ahead, all swim systems crash and the hatred begins. It's not that I hate swimming itself, I just hate not being very good at it.

Monday, 27 August 2012

National Club Relay Championships 2012

Two years ago, Salisbury Tri Club made their first venture into the havoc-filled world of the National Relays with two intrepid and courageous teams. Only three of those triathlete warriors were brave enough to return to Holme Pierrepont, face the carnage and represent once again along with five newbies. We were wiser this time around, we knew sheer guts, determination and epic fitness just wouldn't be enough; what we needed was vast quantities of wine, comfortable chairs, a fine selection of cake and enough meat to feed a small army.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Juice Detox Day 6: Have Juice, Will Travel

Today I was faced with a logistical juice challenge. The plan for the morning was to head off to Swanage for a coastal run followed by a dip in the sea, so I was up at early o'clock juicin' and blendin'. One flask was filled with pear and parsnip soup whilst another flask was filled with a mid-morning juice full of ginger, yellow pepper, apples and other goodies.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Juice Detox Days 4 & 5: Feeling AWESOME

After a little slump and some temptations in the early part of the detox, I wasn't sure if I'd make it the whole way through without some blips. The truth is, every day I feel better and better.

Those of you who have known me for a while, or anybody that works in my office, or quite frankly anyone I've sat near on a long journey of any kind, will know that I have a long history of digestive woes. Not woes like if I can easily access chocolate digestives to go with my tea, but serious digestive problems that have lingered after a little posse of parasites took refuge in my stomach in 2006. Whilst it has only been a few days, this cleanse of the system has left my guts feeling better than ever and that in turn, has made me very happy indeed.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Juice Detox Day 3: Tesco Temptation

Clearly I spoke too soon yesterday, and clearly I have some things to learn about the digestive system. Let's just say it appears the solids have all left the system.

In other news, I attempted a double gym class session today to test out the energy levels and continued to be surprised by just how much energy I actually had. Juice is obviously fuelled the engine quite efficiently. After refuelling, a quick dash to town was required as I'd run out of a few of the "essentials", not bread and milk but spinach, apples and cucumber. It is quite astonishing how much fruit and veg you get through.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Juice Detox Day 2: Swimming on Juice

The avocado drama continued this morning, I carefully unwrapped my newspaper package of bananas and avocados to discover they were still rock solid. A quick dash to Sainsbury for some ripe & ready ones solved the problem and I could get on with my day without the saga continuing.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Juice Detox Day 1: Some Valuable Lessons

The juice detox didn't get off to the best start as I went to attempt to peel an avocado for my breakfast smoothie only to realise it was rock solid and I didn't stand a chance. A lot of the recipes call for avocado so I currently have all mine wrapped in newspaper with bananas to hasten them along. I consulted the bible from the Juicemaster himself, Jason Vale, and just switched some things around to avoid all avocado today.

Philips Avance Collection HR1871/00 800 Watt Juicer in Brushed Stainless Steel

Getting Back on the Healthy

I haven't been healthy at all recently, not in any way, shape or form. "Carb-loading" was a vague excuse for packing in the food pre-Wimbleball and then "recovery week" was another excuse for just piling enormous amounts of rubbish foodstuffs into my belly. The recovery week quickly became "recovery fortnight" and to be honest, it hasn't event ended. No matter how much I eat, eating bad food is - unsurprisingly - not speeding up my recovery.. and the recovery doesn't seem to be happening any time soon.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wobbling Through Wimbleball

I wasn't sure I'd make it to the start line of Wimbleball. A recent series of setbacks and unfortunate events has had me feeling a bit deflated and lacking the usual Egg enthusiasm. My 'warm-up' race at Swanage three weeks before was - without going into too much detail - something of a gastric catastrophe and my confidence started to wane considerably.

The extended taper was a bit of an enforced one, which may or may not have been a good thing; pretty much all planned activity was replaced with sleeping and/or eating cake. Perhaps slightly less cake and slightly more of any other foods would have been better pre-race nutrition, but I think my body is fairly well accustomed to converting cake into energy.

Friday, 25 May 2012

These Aero Bar Thingys

I've been unconvinced by the "aero" thing for ages. Somewhere at the back of my mind is an old school mentality that firmly believes if you want to go faster on the bike, you should work on the engine. Either train more, train harder or train better, don't just buy a silly hat that looks like a sperm and expect a few extra miles per hour on your next ride.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hard Way Round the Rock

 After scouting the internet for an off road race of about 10-13 miles, I came across a little event run by the Royal Manor of Portland Athletics Club: Hard Way Round the Rock. The name of the event gave me some indication of the severity but having never run around Portland or any of the surrounding coastal areas I didn't really know what to expect.

The race had a 5, 11 or 20 mile option, so I managed to convince - without too much difficulty - my sister, and my running buddy Ruth to come along, who were up for 5 and 20 miles respectively.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

One Month 'til Wimbleball

I woke up in a panic this morning having just accidentally snoozed for half an hour. It didn’t really matter as I had promised myself that today would be a restful one; I wasn’t getting up at 5 to fit in a long ride before work or drive somewhere half an hour away to swim in a (still really cold, it’s May!!) lake. I wasn’t ensuring I was at the gym bang on 6 to fit in a quick swim and decent strength session before dashing off to be in work for 8. I didn’t have a complex bag packing system to organise; involving three different sets of kit and ensuring that my trainers and a carb gel are right at the top ready for a super fast brick transition (non triathlete translation: jumping off the bike and – as quickly as possible – going out for a run). In fact, all I needed to do was get up, eat breakfast and get to work. Easy!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Comfort Eating

People say all sorts of things about calories. I've heard people say that they are tiny monsters that sneak into your wardrobe at night and sew your clothes a little bit tighter, I've also heard that anything consumed from someone else's plate has no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person; that's why I have zero shame when it comes to consuming everybody else's leftovers.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Eastleigh: The Place to be on a Saturday Morning

This morning was a little (and very necessary) reminder for me that it doesn't always have to be about pace, effort, distance, "miles in the legs", average heart-rate or getting in the top ten.

I managed to gather a car-full of friends to go and check out the newly opened swimming spot at Lakeside Country Park, in Eastleigh. I used to swim there regularly in 2010 but sadly it wasn't opened up last year so I was very pleased to hear that it was back open for business. If anybody wasn't entirely sure (and some weren't), the idea of following it up with a recce of the new Eastleigh Parkrun course had them convinced.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Training Lull

I am always very amused when I sit down after a big race or event to write a blog. When I’m relaxing on the sofa in my slippers with a cup of something (chocolatey and) warm and a (large) plate of something (chocolatey and very) naughty I struggle to even remember the myriad of emotions I’ve been through.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Inaugral Exmoor Beauty

Whilst 38,000 runners headed into the Big Smoke and readied themselves for a very long, crowded marathon around London, about 800 cyclists headed to deepest Exmoor for a new event on the cyclosportive calendar. In fact, possibly the most poorly named sportive ever: The Exmoor Beauty. Deep down I knew it would be hilly; there isn't a flat way through any part of Exmoor, but I thought, and hoped that this contrasting event to the very aptly named Exmoor Beast might just be a little easier. How wrong I was.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Early Season Swim

Wetsuit: Check

Five swimming caps: Check

Neoprene socks and gloves: Check

Large, steaming flask of hot chocolate: Check

Quick questioning to self: Do you definitely want to do this? Check

Monday, 2 April 2012

Lazy or Normal?

Busted having another afternoon nap in
the Chair of Recovery
It's been a funny few weeks. The training weekend in Exmoor a few weeks ago was tough going but, whilst we trained very hard, we also rested hard too.

A seriously comfortable, oversized armchair became "the chair of recovery" and I subscribed to daily post-training power naps where I'd usually be sneaking to the gym for an extra strength session.

A lovely, long weekend away in a very sunny Dartmoor followed and was a welcome break from the usual routine. Whilst it was an active holiday with a spot of cycling and a lot of walking up hills, I felt enormously relaxed and physically recharged.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A Balanced Diet

Hypothetically, if you have one day that is a super, super healthy day where you fill up on vegetables and good, nutritious food and don't eat as much as a sesame seed over what you need, then the next day you have a bacon breakfast, four bits of cake, a packet of cookies and a curry with all the trimmings (and all the stuff everybody else can't finish) for dinner.. does that good/bad actually create balance in the grand scheme of things?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wimbleball on a 12/25

Firstly, I would like to apologise to all of my non-cycling friends and colleagues who I have bored to death of recent weeks with endless chat regarding bike gearing. In fact I apologise to everybody – cyclist or not – because I’ve been a woman obsessed.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Bath Half 2012

I didn't sign up to the Bath Half; a flat (ish), mass participation road running event isn't the kind of thing that usually gets me excited. Sarah Brown however, decided last week that she wasn't going to partake, so her place was going begging. I told myself it would be a "training run" and that I wouldn't really race it. I kept telling myself that right up until the moment we crossed the start line.

Friday, 2 March 2012

A Foggy March Commute

I peeked out of the kitchen window tentatively this morning as another thick morning fog had settled, forcing my “look at how light it is in the mornings, yay!” feeling of late to turn into a second round of coffee and a slightly more sedate mood.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Heartbreak Half 2012

The moment we began running in the 200 strong crowd at the start line of the Heartbreak Half, I started having some doubts. Run training in the last couple of months has not exactly been top of my list and whilst I’ve done a couple of steady 9 or 10 milers, I suddenly had a sinking feeling that I hadn’t adequately prepared for the hilly 14 mile off-road epic that was about to ensue. Nonetheless, I had a running buddy, Ruth, so I knew there would be plenty of chat to keep me going.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Dairy Free Oat & Raisin Cookies

I have been trying for weeks to create a brilliant dairy-free cookie. I’ve had tiny ones that didn’t grow and became crunchy biscuits, I have cookie-shaped cakes and had mass-spreading chocolatey disasters (which actually, are only disastrous in terms of being cookies and not at all disastrous in terms of being tasty food in my belly).

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Last Six Weeks

Before I came away to work in Hertfordshire for six weeks, I had a fantastic vision that it would be an opportunity to utterly embrace being healthy. Without the usual distractions I thought I could focus wholly on getting into training and make myself nothing but lovely, wholesome food.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Easy One Pot Microwave Jambalaya

This microwave cooking business is finally starting to come together, which is sort of a shame as in a weeks time I shall return to normal life (i.e. life with a an oven, hob and grill). I may still use this recipe in normal life though as it's super quick and easy and contains stuff that I usually have knocking around anyway!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Stonehenge Stomp

The Stonehenge Stomp is an event run by Amesbury Walkers. At a tiny cost of £2 to enter, a whole array of walkers and runners turn up to have a bash at 10, 20, 30 or 40 kilometres. I’d heard rumours from previous participants that it’s a very worthwhile event if you enjoy a bit of off road running and that there would be food stops a-plenty.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Microwave Mayhem

Working away in a new place for a shortish period: I don’t really mind. Not having any access to WiFi: I can live with it for the time being. Using kettlebells to feed my weightlifting addition: Actually rather enjoyable. Feeling my way around the local 33m pool with nice wide lanes and no silly rules on using fins or paddles (take heed Five Rivers!): I could get used to this! In fact now that I’ve also found somewhere decent (read: has both a pavement and working streetlamps) to run and come to terms with using the turbo, I’m settling in to my temporary location fairly well.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Entrepreneur Egg: Sports Bra with Insulating Nipple Pads

I don't generally feel the cold. Even if my hands are starting to lose sensation and my nose is frost-nipped and running uncontrollably, I still have a general feel of warmness about me, so long as I'm engaging in some sort of exercise.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Rocket Fuel

In my opinion, there is nothing that gets you going better than the first hot, caffeinated beverage of the day. I however, do truly hate waiting for anything, so when I first wake up and want my caffeine fix I can’t be doing with the faff of a tea bag or the long wait for a coffee filter to do its thing. Coffee connoisseurs may curse me, but I’m an instant girl and I don’t care who knows it!

There are so many good instant coffees available now that actually some can be just as tasty as ‘proper coffee’ anyway. This one caught my eye though, because I did not find it in the tea/coffee aisle in the supermarket (although apparently it is now being stocked in Tesco and Sainsbury) but in the sports nutrition section of my local health food shop, nestled in amongst carb gels and electrolyte tablets. Any coffee that doubles up as sports nutrition gets my vote.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Dark of Winter

At 07:10 this morning I spied a fairly good chunk of the horizon transforming into a brilliant, light blue. As my bowl of porridge steamed up the window, I made a tiny squeal of delight as the days are finally getting noticeably longer and sooner than we know, we’ll be out before and after work in broad daylight doing as much riding/running/dancing in the street as our hearts desire.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Gymless

It only recently occured to me that I really haven't done a lot of varied exercise in the last couple of months. I have been avoiding my lovely bikes like the plague and have replaced many of my runs with sweaty but very comfortable cross training sessions in the gym. In fact, I've just been mostly doing enormous amounts of weight training and then using "having sore muscles" as my latest and greatest excuse to avoid the pool (or to sneak out of sessions early!). Basically for the whole of December I ate vast amounts of not-very-healthy food, drank plenty of dancing juice and stayed snuggly warm in the gym instead of getting out in the fresh air.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Afan, I'm afraid

Sarah Brown is one of my favourite people to go on cycling adventures with. I’ve enjoyed her ever entertaining company on many a muddy, off road trail. We’ve cycled halfway up the country, joyously overtaken lycra-clad men to their dismay and our amusement, found some super tea shops and generally covered a lot of miles on two wheels. So, when she invited me to Wales for a 40th birthday/New Year mountain biking extravaganza, I jumped at the chance. I’ll tell you one thing I learnt about Sarah last weekend though: she’s either completely disillusioned or a massive liar! “You’ll be able to do this Egglet, it’s easy”.