Road To Becoming A Team GB Athlete

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Little did I know that when I took up running nearly 5 years ago and could only swim 6 lengths of a 33 metre swimming pool in an hour this journey would lead me up competing for GB for my Age Group. Since then I have achieved one Silver medal and two Bronze medals. I am nearly 34 years old and work full time as a Performance Analyst for the NHS. I am no spring chicken; I only started running in 2012. I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics to do something, which encouraged me to join my local running club, the Canterbury Harriers.

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I didn’t train that regularly until the following year so progress wasn’t quick. I knew if I practised I could be a lot better and ended up focusing on that. I knew I was never going to be the fastest in my area or club but I could get close. In 2013, I competed in local triathlons but ended up injuring my calf where I struggled for 7 months on and off so I became a coach for my club. The following year I was competing again in triathlons but injured my achilles and thought I wouldn’t be able to run again. I first started running in 2012 and after watching the Olympics, I was inspired to try a triathlon, after running was no longer challenging enough.

In 2015 I was in the process of getting married but didn’t have the time to train for the triathlons so I decided to go into aquathlons, as I am an ok swimmer and runner. This road led me to qualifying for the GB Aquathlon Team in 2016 for my Age group, I was so excited and didn’t know what to expect. I raced the National Aquathlon championships in Leeds a few weeks before and I came 3rd in my Age group. I was over the moon taking the bronze medal and this was my first big race, next up was the European Championships in France where I was shocked and had a great performance coming 3rd in my age group. As a result I ended up going to Mexico for the World Championships – a whole new experience.

This season came round fast and sadly got injured at the wrong time, I competed at the European Championships in Bratislava and was 9th in my age group. I aimed for a top 10 position but because of my injury problems. Two weeks after this race was the Nationals again in Leeds, an old injury flared up and with limited run time that month and I didn’t know if I could make the start line a few days prior, I didn’t expect to do well. Well I had a great race and came 2nd in my Age group, so never give up! Next stop for me is the World Championships in Penticton in August.

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Belief

I believe no matter your ability if you work hard at anything in life you will be rewarded. My result at the European Championships 2017 was the target before my injury. I had to change my target and aims and I see this as a success as it got me to the start line race fit and I was able to be very competitive to never give up.


I like to help and inspire others. I contacted both IAMRUNBOX & EVOSSI last year regarding sponsorship because I like their concept and hope they will grow. IAMRUNBOX is a backpack that is used to commute to work where you are able to carry your work stuff while running to work. You are probably thinking do I commute? Well although I drive to work and work full time my workplace is too far to run. However what is great about this backpack is that I run from my home to the gym which is roughly 2 miles away. I liked the concept of IAMRUNBOX and I felt it is something that can be very popular in England with runners.

Similarly, when I approached EVOSSI I liked what I saw and thought it is a new company that is also going places. After speaking to Ed Flood the founder we agreed a partnership and felt privileged to be part of this very new company. EVOSSI is a stylish running brand with a focus on performance & functionality.

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IAMRUNBOX helped me not being lazy and driving two miles to the swimming pool. I was able to put my stuff in the box (Backpack) and jog to the gym. This has helped me hugely as I am able to get extra mileage and easy run time in my legs. With EVOSSI I found the Discover Gilet was perfect for my training. I always over heat with long sleeved tops and for me it is all about keeping my core warm. The Discover Gilet did the trick, not only was it stylish but it is waterproof.

EVOSSI products allow you to carry items like your keys, phone etc and with the useful additional pockets. I am very impressed with the overall design and quality however I think a second colour option would give more variety.

In regards to the IAMRUNBOX backpack I like the concept and some of the features along with the design. The logo colours all fit well. This is a good as it makes the product more appealing. The fact the backpack has plenty of room is a plus, for me it’s about carrying my gym and swimming stuff to the gym. For the commuters this is even more appealing as you can pack your work stuff all inside the box and when you take them out they are fine. Personally although this is perfect for me I do believe that maybe making the backpack a bit bigger will help carry more stuff in it but it depends really how much stuff you need to carry. However on the other hand I think making it smaller can also benefit others so maybe these will be products for the future? I have the lite backpack.

These products have been very useful for my training preparation for the World Aquathlon Championships. I think both brands are still very new and will continue to grow the more they get known. If you’d like to buy either product use ‘Yiannis15’ & receive 15% Off!

Thank you for your support!
http://www.evossi.com/
https://iamrunbox.com/en/

Hever Castle Aquathlon Challenge

 

thumbnail_IMG_8620With the World Championships now only six weeks away and struggling with form since my calf injury a few months back I was ready for my next Aquathlon. I decided to enter the Hever Castle Aquathlon challenge last year as I wanted to try a middle distance race and see how it went. This was my first longer distance race and I knew it was going to be tough. The race consisted of a 1.9k swim in the lake around the Castle (which was once the home of Anne Boleyn) and a 10.5k run on a tough hilly course and was part of the Castle tri series under the name of Festival of Endurance.  Not the normal 750m to 1k swim and 5k run I normally do but I have worked hard in the gym with Craig Coggle (strength coach) since my setbacks to improve my strength and reduce injury risk.

I arrived at the race and it was already very warm that morning and looked like it was going to make it tough going during the race. The venue looked stunning and I was very excited as it was around the castle grounds with a finish near the castle. I had no targets but to enjoy it and see how it goes and use it as training.

The swim started and I went off at the same time as the long distance Aquathlon and the swim races, so it was a real mass start race. Because of the extra distance I had to swim I didn’t push the first half and just eased into it and started pushing a bit faster when I hit the river part near the end of the swim. I wore a wetsuit but was overheating as I think the lake was too warm for it. The swim was amazing and I enjoyed sighting and actually taking all the natural beauty in. It was by far one of the nicest lakes I have ever swam in. I came out of the water and proceeded into the transition which was quite far from the lake. I hit the swim in 31 minutes; I was hoping for a quicker time but I didn’t push myself so that I wouldn’t hit a wall in the run. The swim is something I will be working on after the season when I start with my new swimming coach.

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I started the run slower then I would normally, as I wanted to build into it and as soon as I started I noticed it was going to be tough with the heat and the hills. I started pushing in the run and attacking the hills; the race was in beautiful countryside and cornfields. To be honest it was pretty amazing and I was really enjoying it, however I hit a huge problem on the 7k mark. I was misdirected by a marshal who was standing by a junction who told me to go straight ahead which I did. I continued up the hill where after a few minutes I got to a point where I noticed another marshal at an area I went past 2 miles into my run. I asked the marshal where I was meant to go and I was told I had been sent the wrong way and therefore had to go back down the hill. I was panicking and by the time I got back down the hill I had lost a lot of time.

I told the marshal why didn’t you call me back and send me the wrong way, where she just pointed to go right. I was very frustrated at this point, as I knew I lost a lot of time. I warned runners I passed again in the run and marshals hoping the mistake wouldn’t happen to others. This should never happen in a big race like this, the marshal was standing in front of the sign that said go right not straight. I was therefore overtaking people I had overtaken earlier. I had realised by the time I had overtaken the first lady who I went past not long after transition how much time I had actually lost.  I crossed the line and was frustrated and spoke to the race director straight away; I crossed the line in 3rd place so I was happy with that. After speaking with the timing chip guys and the race director, they worked out I had lost at least 7 minutes of time and could have been more as I dropped off the timing matt times and therefore was bumped up to 2nd place.

I am happy with the outcome and I hope they learn from their mistakes and it doesn’t happen again. The race was a nice race and maybe next year I will go back and give it another crack, hoping this mistake does not happen again. I learnt a new experience here and to try and keep calm in order not to get frustrated and panic. Looking back at this now there was no need to stress myself even more when it was out of my control and if it happens again to wait until the end of the race. I only have a few more practice races until the World Championships and I would like to thank you for reading my blogs and my journey.

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How not to be hard on yourself

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How not to be hard on yourself

Well I came across this photo the other week when Gobinder, my psychology coach, posted it on Twitter. I found it very interesting and decided as it received a lot of attention on my Social media account I decided to write a blog about my experience – this was a great insight of peoples minds by Anna Vital.

 

Your mistakes are part of learning

Everyone makes mistakes but it depends if you learn from them. I certainly have, I now know my limits in training and it is a fine line between injuries.  When I took up running nearly 5 years ago, my mistake was that I kept coming back too soon and getting injured. Looking back now I think what on earth was I thinking but it’s all learning. I would go out as fast as I could in every session; well that road lead me to injuries all the time. When I got injured I would rest until it didn’t hurt and then come back and do the same. This was a huge learning curve for me and once I learnt and my knowledge was much better I was able to go years with just minor niggles and was able to improve as a result.  It’s ok to have a bad race or training session, look at it as a positive and set targets to improve next time.

 

 

Don’t compare yourself to others because you are not them

A lot of people make the mistake of comparing others with themselves. Well don’t because that’s not a good idea, just because someone runs 100 miles a week and improves hugely it doesn’t mean you will. Everyone has different bodies and your body may not cope. For me if I do that kind of mileage that will break my body. So my advice is just stick to your own training and plans and work out what works best for you.

 

 

There is no right way to do anything

With running technique it is very important and even more important with swimming. However people have different techniques that work for them. In regards to training we all follow plans and sometimes they do make you improve, again its important to find out what works best for you. If a coach tells you to do something and you find it is not working, don’t be afraid to say it doesn’t work and want to do what you think is best.

 

Stand up for what you believe. Even if it’s unpopular

It’s important you stand up for what you believe in and what works for you. I am at the stage of life that if someone finds something I do unpopular let them get on with it. I found since I got the two bronze medals in the Nationals and the European Aquathlon championships last year, some people started changing towards me. It has been a huge learning experience how people can change and yes at the time it hurt. But I now allow it to go over the top of my head and let them get on with talking about me and being jealous. Training hard and working hard pays off and it inspires others so don’t let this ever get to you.  Let them talk and prove them wrong in your races.

 

Learn from people who criticise you

I like this one, I am no pro I am just a full time working guy who trains after work and not elite. I love it when people criticise me and I love it even more when they criticise me behind my back. When people talk about you, you always find out in the end. I use this as fuel to make me more determined and motivated to push harder in training and races in order to succeed. This season has been successful so far for me and it is mainly down to working hard and getting on with it.

 

Accept your weakness as your features

I know I am not the quickest runner or swimmer but I give it all my best and train to the best I can be. When I got injured a lot in the past I decided to do strength training to help keep injuries away. I accept my weaknesses but work hard to improve them without being t0o hard on myself.

 

Look at your past as an adventurous biography

Use you past races/training etc to help you improve and be successful in reaching your targets and goals. I always look back to day one of running and how far I have come. This motivates me to improve and reach my targets; most people I compete against have been racing all their life so knowing that I am still going to improve helps. When I go into a race I always look back on how I had to sprint the last 400m at the European Championships in 2016 to claim a Bronze medal in my Age group. So this makes me think I can sprint the last bit of a race.

 

Don’t underestimate your talent until you apply it 100 times

As mentioned before I didn’t know I could sprint the last 400m of a race and every race is different you get to learn something new. The mind is hugely important and if you have the right frame of mind you can achieve something you didn’t expect.

 

Every single problem is not unique

Don’t get hooked on a problem, try to just blank it or forget about it. Injuries are a part of training and sport and it’s the way you deal with it. I struggled with injuries this year leading up to the European Championships and I was very worried I couldn’t compete. However I bounced back at the Nationals while dealing with another injury as well.

 

Intelligence is relative self-esteem is not

Be intelligent with your training and races. Don’t change things up if changes do not work for you. Keep positive in order to be motivated. Most people change things up on race day like taking a different gel in a marathon but not using it in training and wonder why they struggle in that race.

 

Express your anger in a creative way

I think being creative is a great way, if you struggle in a race take it out on your training session and don’t dwell on it.

 

 

Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.

For me I don’t want to be around people who are negative against me.  You don’t need to train with them etc. I like to surround myself with people who have similar interests and where we are able to train together and push each other. I like to train with people who are much better so that I can push myself that much harder. Having people around you who are positive will bring the best out of you and them.

 

My conclusion is enjoy what you do as there is no point in doing your hobby if you are not enjoying it. Sometimes the pain and other factors can be tough on you but there is no point in being hard on yourself. Don’t worry about what others think, just let them get on with it, it’s not worth stressing about something so silly. I like to use every negative and flip it around to a positive and use as fuel to improve and keep me motivated.

 

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Review of Asics Gel-Hyper Tri 3

thumbnail_IMG_8432As part of the UK Asics Front Runner team I get to try out and use some really nice products. When I joined the Front Runner team I changed my running shoes to Asics. I have only just started to use the Hyper Tri’s which are a neutral shoe and I have been really impressed.

At first when receiving the shoes I thought the plain black colour was basic, however the yellow/light green on the bottom of the shoe and tongue makes it hugely appealing. I feel that they have been made even better by changing to the spare laces which are yellow/green – makes them look very flash.

But it’s not the design colour that appeals to me, as this can be improved. I like the hole in the middle of the tongue that a normal shoe does not have. For Aquathlons and Triathlons, transition is really important and a few seconds can be the difference of a podium place. My old race shoes were a huge struggle to get on and what I notice with the Hyper Tris is that they are so easy to get on, even with wet feet because of the tongue. So far in races, this has knocked off seconds from my transition time and has given me a speed advantage.

However are they any good to race/run with? They give you a speed advantage in transition and they feel so comfy without socks on, which make them perfect for Aquathlons and Triathlons. Furthermore, the front of the shoe does not have hard material which cuts your toes up. If that wasn’t enough the 6mm heel-drop and at a weight of only 190g make this a speed demon shoe. I am impressed how light these are, I compared them to my old running and race shoes which I thought were light and the Asics were lighter.

I have been using them in my speed training and in my last Aquathlon. I will be wearing these at the World Aquathlon Championships in August. My conclusion is if you want a fast, light weight shoe for your Aquathlons or Triathlons then The Asics Gel-Hyper Tri 3 are the ideal shoe.

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Highs and Lows (Euros and Nationals)

IMG_8303After a hugely successful year last year and something that I didn’t think I would be able to top again…. So as you are aware I am competing again for Great Britain at the European and World Aquathlon Championships at age group level. I am very honoured and proud of my achievements and I am very much excited and looking forward to it again this year (well, what’s left of the season). Anyway, so where am I competing this year and what are my targets?

First stop was the European Championships in Bratislava on the 27th May. I had changed my target of pushing for a podium place to just getting round the course and enjoying the experience. Training went so well over the winter but a month ago I picked up a minor calf strain that did not seem to want to go away – this was my first injury in years where I have had to rest(You can read dealing with the setbacks in my last blog.)

I flew to Vienna on Thursday 24th of May for the European Aquathlon Championships. The race was on Saturday in Bratislava so I drove across from Vienna to Bratislava, it took around 40 minutes, so not far at all.

The week before I had raced in the Ocean Tri Aquathlon where I came 3rd overall, however the last bit of the race my calf played up and had to rest up again as the Europeans was only 9 days away. I didn’t really have any targets for the race due to my injury problems and lack of run time. I was going to enjoy the experience and my target was no longer a podium place but to try for a top 10 placing in my Age Group. I was pleasantly surprised about Bratislava – lots of history and beautiful buildings in the old town.

I popped down to the lake where the event was on the Thursday to check the course out and register.  When I arrived I thought I had turned up to the wrong place as nothing was set up. I decided to get in the lake for a swim just to check it out and then walk the run part of the course. The race was a 1k swim which was 2x 500m laps and a 5k run but 5x 1k loops. The run course sounded pretty boring but had a small incline which would make it interesting. I went back the following day to meet up with friends and fellow athletes and there was a lot more set-up. This time it looked more like an event was going on.

Saturday came round fast and it was race day, It was very hot and humid. I had to arrive in transition by 8.30am but my race was not until 11.30am so it was going to be hot. I watched the other Age Groups go off and I soon realised I was over heating and needed to get out of the sun. I decided to get my body temperature cool and use a wet towel and put it over me to a point I made myself freezing.

We were then called over to the athletes tent and one by one our names were shouted out by the commentator and we had to jog to the start line. I had to wait for everyone to come to the start line and it took a bit of time. The next thing I heard the race starter say steady and then he blew the horn and I was off.

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I was a bit overwhelmed to start off and had a slow get away in the lake. The first 500m of the swim I realised I had not pushed myself and on the second lap I was trying to make up time. I came into transition fresh so I realised I did not push the swim but it was still a personal best for me in just over 16 minutes. While in transition I put my trainers on and snapped my shoe lace lock and therefore had to run with a very loose trainer, oh well.

 

I started the run and started over taking people in my wave/race. I was running well and it was only the last 1k where my calf started to play up. I pushed on and managed an 18:34 5k – I was happy with the way it went and managed 9th place, so achieved my target.

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I had time after the race to reflect on my race and I was happy with the way it went. However fully fit I am sure I could of placed higher, but on race day it was my swim that let me down a bit. I didn’t push myself as much as I should of in the swimming but you learn these things and it comes down to experience and lack of race practice this year. My running time was good considering the lack of running time I have had. I was very pleased with the outcome and it has given me more experience. I even got to spend a few days in Vienna with my wife after the race and I was amazed how nice Vienna was. Anyway it was a privilege to be selected and picked for GB again in my Age Group and I am very happy and proud of the performance I gave and hopefully I will be back next year.

 I then had two weeks left until the Nationals and I was hoping if my injury held off I could do well. However the week before the event my Achilles flared up and was getting rather painful walking around. The following day I ran my long run but it got worse and I started worrying about it.

On the Monday I was in a lot of pain and considered dropping out of the race and other races due to the pain I was in, my mind was not in a right place. I have been dealing with my Achilles problem since September but this time it was getting more painful.  I saw Laura from Team Buckley on Tuesday as Andrew Buckley was away who is my normal physio and she said carry on as normal and you should get through. Its amazing how much confidence you can get from that and the pain eased off. I turned up to the National Championships In Leeds on the 10th of June where again I had to change my targets and just enjoy it. I was in a bit of pain with my Achilles even with resting it a few days, however made the most of using my Wellbrix blocks during my rest period to try and speed up recovery.

It was a gloomy day in Leeds and it was wet and not very warm, the course was the same as last year and the run was super hilly. Got to the start of the race and decided to attack the swim and see how I felt on the run. The lake wasn’t warm – 16.1 degrees but it felt colder; the race started and I started off fast. I kept pushing and when the turnaround point came I started to struggle as I am not used to pushing hard on the swim. I tucked in behind some athletes in the swim and managed to get pushed along. I came out of the lake and heard the commentator say these athletes are coming out just shy of 11 minutes, so I knew this was quick for me. Transition was long and I made the most of being a strong runner taking the long transition and trying to run fast up the slope leading into it.

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I got into transition and realised I was with athletes that are normally quite a bit in front after the swim.  I started the run which is super tough and hilly but I like hills. I started off fast and felt very tired; I was catching big groups of athletes and kept targeting each athlete and then pushing past them. I started to struggle towards the end as I was really tired and I knew this would happen because of my swim. When I finished I was 12th overall some 10 places better than last year. I was also a minute and 11 seconds faster than last year. I then found out I was second in my age group and was over the moon as I did not expect a podium place and to go one better. The first thing I did when I got home from Leeds was jump into a bath full of Doms Ease oil, my body needed it.

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I learnt a lot from this race and the week leading up to it, even if your not fully fit and get setbacks – NEVER GIVE UP. This makes me stronger and I am now targeting my next big race the Heaver Castle Aquathlon Challenge followed by the World Championships. Thank you everyone and my sponsors for their support so far this season and a big thank you to Andrew Buckley and his team for getting me to both start lines.

The broken road to Bratislava (Dealing with Setbacks)

After a great winter base of training and no setbacks apart from the minor Achilles niggles which I have had for a while but have not hampered my training, on the 25th of April I was struck down with the dreaded word “injury”. So I decided to write about the set back to help others stay positive as the European Aquathlon championships is on the 27th of May and I am to get there fully fit.

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So on Sunday the 23rd of April I went out for a long run, was happy as I managed to get 16.4 miles at an easy pace at my heart rate. However the last few miles of the run I noticed my left calf wasn’t right but carried on. After the run I done the normal stretch etc and it felt fine. The next few days I was walking around with a slight squeeze in my calf.  I didn’t think much of it as I get loads of weird aches etc. On the Tuesday evening I proceeded into doing my session which was 1 mile warm up, followed by 5x mile reps and a warm down. In the warm up my leg was fine but as soon as I ran the mile reps the leg was sore but then disappeared. So I got through the session alright until the last mile rep on the last 100m I felt a sharp squeeze in the calf. So I eased off and stopped, tried to jog part of the warm down but I stopped as I didn’t want to make it worse.

I didn’t think too much about it and wanted to stay positive – the following day I knew something wasn’t right. I got hold of my physio and sponsor Andy from Team Buckley. He got me in to see Alex at the clinic straight away that evening. Although I am able to walk fine but in discomfort I heard the dreaded word from Alex that I have a minor calf “Strain” the first thing that went through my mind was its the calf that gave me so much trouble 5 years ago when I first got in to running has come back and its going to be recurring like before. Then I decided to snap out of it as I am more positive now and this can be a positive then a negative.

I was advised to not race in the Total Motion Aquathlon on the Saturday as I had a risk of making it worse and putting the European Champs at risk and the rest of the season. I was gutted as I really wanted to do this race but was not worth the risk. So I was advised no running until Monday so at least 5-7 days rest and hopefully I will be back training again then. I left the practice not feeling down but more determined to be positive. Even when I get reassessed next week if I get bad news I have many options.

A week off from running will not do anything to my current fitness levels. So I have decided to blog about this set back and how I deal with it until I am running again.

Thursday 27th

After having a massage today the calf is very sore, to be honest hurts more than the other day. Today is going to be my rest day as it was going to be hard getting a session in today with the cross country awards for the Canterbury Harriers later that evening. My positives today is it’s a complete rest day, so nothing lost but more gains for recovery and I wont lose any of my running fitness for the first 7 days.  Tomorrow no running but I have changed my training plan around and will crack on with my normal swim session that was planned for Sunday. I will also start some pool running at the weekend.

Friday 28th

 Waking up in the morning and the first thing I was thinking is whether my leg is better. Last night it started getting painful towards the end of the day. I attended my running club Canterbury Harriers cross country awards for the 2016/17 season. I was lucky enough to receive a certificate for completing 5 races and coming 7th overall in the league. A great achievement for me for that season, it was only 3 years ago I was running in the 140s places.

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So feeling positive my leg wasn’t really much better, perhaps maybe slightly but nothing  really of notice. Feeling positive today because looking back on how much I improved over the winter. I am not too worried about another day off from running. Time is a healer and no matter what happens I will be at that start line of the Europeans whether its fully fit or whether I have to walk it. So what is the plan for today? Very simple just one normal swim session that was scheduled for Sunday. Today would have been a rest day but I just swapped it round with yesterday. Tomorrow I will start my first pool running session.

Saturday 29th 

Leg slightly better but today I started pool running. Apart from people asking me what I was doing running up and down in the swimming pool. I enjoyed it, I done one hour of pool running, where I ran as fast as I could for a certain time and then took a recovery and repeated this. I found it weird I was running but not touching the ground as I was in the deep end. The faster I went the harder it got with the resistance.  Feeling still upbeat that I will be running next week and plus got a great work out as it sent my heart rate quite high. Four weeks time I will be at the European’s and it is coming round very fast and getting slightly worried because I want to be at my best.

Sunday 30th 

My leg was starting to feel much better and I am feeling more positive. I felt very fresh from the pool running the previous day. I decided to do my scheduled 40 minute swim session followed by 1 hour of pool running. Normally Sunday’s are when I do my long runs but my pool running session was the same session I done yesterday. Feeling very positive about running next week now.

Monday 1st May 

I had to get up early to help my running club (Canterbury Harriers) with their race the Whitstable 10k. Some 750 runners were expected to compete in it. Leg was feeling much better but still very tight when walking. Once the race started my sponsor and physio Any Buckley was there with his team providing massages after the race. He gave me a quick check over and said give it a few more days. I felt relaxed with his advice and will be trying to run on Thursday easy. That’s a huge positive and if all goes well I can quickly get back up to speed. The race went well for my club and I decided to take this as a rest day and change my training up. So pretty much ready/waiting to go again.

Tuesday 2nd

With no running today, my training will be a pool running session, followed by a gym session. Leg feeling miles better today so a few more days more from running and then I am able to crack on with training. However this doesn’t give me a lot of time to get to full fitness for the Europeans.

I hit the pool for an hour pool running and headed off to Team Buckley to use the Normtec boot machine which I use regularly. I managed to speak to Andy (my physio) and had some really positive news. It is a big “if” but if my running goes well on Thursday I may be able to get back straight into my training level. I hit the gym after and had no problems with my leg. So I am keeping positive.

Wednesday 3rd

Feeling very positive today with no pain in my leg at all. Today I have a swim session which will be a tough one as its sprints. I followed that by having a massage on my leg. Feeling ready and fingers crossed for tomorrow’s run.

Thursday 4th 

Today is the day to check my leg out in an easy run on grass. I went for a 40 minute run to see how it went. Could feel it being tight and a twinge but managed to get through it fine. Tomorrow will be a test to see how it went and how I should proceed. So far looking positive.

Friday 5th

Woke up and the first thing I wanted to do is walk around the house to test it. It feels tight and achy but I am guessing that’s a good sign as its the first time I have run. Going to speak to my physio later to see how to proceed and things do feel like its going to be a positive answer now. After speaking to Andy he said to carry on running tomorrow for an hour easy and if all goes well then I can start putting the speed work in. Fingers crossed as I don’t really want to have any setbacks. I am thinking of going to Canterbury Park run and taking easy tomorrow, that’s if I get up early! I carried on with my normal training plan of going swimming and the gym.

Saturday 6th 

Calf was achy and didn’t feel right but I was thinking it was all in my head. I headed off to my local Park Run to take it easy and then run after that for up to an hour. I took it easy at 60% heart rate and enjoyed cheering people on that I knew and managed to get the whole hour of running done. I then headed to the swimming pool for a swimming session. Leg felt fine until I got home it ached like hell but did not hurt. I had a slight concern but decided to try a speed session the following morning and go from there.

Sunday 7th

Felt very positive about today and was ready to test the leg out a nearly full speed. I had my training partner join me on the track to push me round. I decided to try mile reps and mentally this was important as this is how my calf got injured. I started the reps and finished the session and was completely fine. I was over the moon with how the session went in fact buzzing as  I hadn’t lost too much speed and was only 12 days since my last speed session.

So feeling very positive that I can get back to full fitness, my advice to anyone dealing with setbacks is don’t rush back and ease into it. It is ok to rest and you will be back in no time. Cross training like pool running has definitely helped me.

Monday 8th

Leg felt really good after yesterday’s run and although I felt I could do more reps I didn’t want to push it.  Felling quite good and positive about this swimming and gym on the agenda today.

Tuesday 9th 

You are wondering now why I carried on my log…. well today leg felt great and nothing wrong with it. Over two weeks since I had hurt the calf and I was very happy and upbeat the way training was going. However that following night I went and done hill reps, now looking back that was not a great idea. I thought my leg was alright and it was only a few days ago I was telling people don’t rush back. I didn’t think it would be a problem and I started my reps slower than normal. After the 5 rep I notice a weird feeling while running and had to slow down. However it eased off, I pushed on for a few more reps and also managed to run a few miles slow after. Although it didn’t feel right I got through the session.

Wednesday 10th 

I woke up and quickly realised that my leg was not right, there was no pain but just an ache and tightness. Today was a rest day from running and I was quite worried about this. I didn’t feel positive now and with the Europeans fast approaching I was already deciding whether to pull out of the race but me and my wife were using it as our holiday too.  This was my biggest fear and became real. I was no longer positive or upbeat as this time it was against me. However there is not much I can do until I test it out Thursday. But this time it is more of a weird feeling not a pain. My wife cheered me up a bit so tomorrow will be the day.

Thursday 11th

Still getting this weird feeling in my leg and my gut feeling is today is the day it goes. After stressing about it yesterday I was trying not to think about it. My wife said to me “think positive as you are always giving people inspirational quotes and now it’s time for yours. Believe in yourself, panic makes a situation worse and steals your joy and passion. You are a fighter” and also sent me a quote from Rocky.

She is right I am a fighter and the time has come for me to fight this setback and get through this. If today on my easy run the calf goes, I will be disappointed and there wont be any chance I will be fully fit for the Europeans and all the gains over the winter would be lost. However if that is the case I will get back on to cross training and get there one way or another and running. My target for this race will change and the same will go for the nationals and sometimes these things happen and its the way I am aiming to bounce back that will count. You learn from your mistakes, however we will see later what happens.

So after that positive motivation from my wife I went running in the evening. With my leg not feeling right I was slightly worried. I ran on the track at heart rate and it was a very hot day. I was planning for around 1 hour 30 but stopped after an hour as my leg wasn’t  right. Maybe a mental thing but best to be safe. I then cracked on with my swimming session.

 Friday 12th

Wasn’t feeling great today and convinced it was all a mental issue. I planned to do 400m/200m session, I was aiming for 6 reps of each. I needed to test it out, I went out slower then normal and the leg started playing up on the 4th rep so I eased off and carried on running easy for 30 minutes. It felt fine and I was convinced this is all in my mind and now I was ready to race at the Stelling Minnis 10k  Sunday to see how it reacts.

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Saturday 13th

Today was a rest day and decided not to think about it and be positive.

Sunday 14th

Kept positive and I know that this particular race was probably not the best of ideas as it is a hilly race but I needed to test my leg and fitness. I started off slower and eased into it. I had no problems throughout the race which is a huge positive. I came 6th in 38:20 I was hoping to go a bit quicker but I know the course was slow. I was happy as so many Harriers did well and I helped pick up the team prize.

Wednesday 17th

Today my legs felt fresh and I was very much looking forward to my first Aquathlon race for a while and seeing whether my fitness levels were ready for the Europeans next week.

I got to the race not feeling up for it as it was awful weather conditions with it pouring down, making it quite muddy and a water logged track. With it raining it didn’t bother me too much as I was going to get wet anyway!

So the Ocean Tri Aquathlon started and it was a course I know very well. I started the swim part and started off fast, however I did struggle a bit in the swim as this was my first time in the open water this year and also using my wet-suit. I came in to transition in 6th place with a swim time of 11:55 minutes. Not my best time but due to the conditions I was happy with how it went.

I started the run and didn’t push too hard due to my injury problems. I stuck to two 6 minute miles and the last past a few seconds faster as the gravel on the track was so wet I was sliding everywhere. However during the final mile of the race I felt my calf but I thought I am not far so kept going. I was delighted to finish 3rd overall and happy with my run time. I was hoping for quicker but I didn’t want to over do it. Straight after the race when I stopped I could feel my calf, it was not right so I proceeded to a mile cool down and my calf started hurting when jogging round. I tried not to think about it but by the time I got home I was struggling walking without a limp.

 The following day my leg wasn’t great again so quite concerned and trying to keep positive. I am seeing the physio tonight and will go from there.

Friday 19th

So the physio has told me to take two days rest and see how it goes on a gentle run Sunday and go from there as we don’t have a lot of time to work on it.So I am keeping positive and determined to get to the start line race fit. This is my final blog as I am keeping positive and I hope this helps you when you are dealing with an injury. I have learnt a lot and although my running improvement and gains over the winter have been lost I still have high fitness levels. Its ok to take a rest and sometimes it’s the way it goes and you have to change your goals and targets. My target now is to get through the race and just enjoy the experience, I know before my target was to push for a podium place but with my difficult age group this year I will try and target a top 10 finish if I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clock is ticking to Bratislava

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I am now in full training mode for the European Aquathlon championships. I have been quiet over the past month in blogging but wanted to knuckle down and concentrate on training.

My major race in running this year was the Reading Half Marathon, back in March. Training has been a huge success over the winter months and I have improved hugely. For the first time I didn’t know how to pace myself as my target time was 1:23:00 but with my training I was sure I would go under the 1:20:00 mark. A week before the race I came down with a cold and was forced to rest but all the training was done.

Race day came and I was feeling good and it was a very windy day. I started off a bit slower than my previous 10 mile races and aimed to get quicker throughout the race. I felt really good after 3 miles and started to cut my time down and I was getting quicker. However on mile 8, when I got to the top of the hill, I tried to push on but for some reason my body switched off and didn’t want to move. This was an odd feeling and I started losing a lot of time and I wasn’t able to react to it. All of a sudden I knew something was wrong and I knew at this rate I would be lucky to get to the finish with a PB. The last 2 miles I was struggling which is unlike me as I get quicker towards the end of a race. I wanted to stop and walk but managed to carry on and get to the finish.

I somehow managed a PB by 20 seconds of 1:23:20, not what I wanted but had to be happy to come home with a PB. On the plus side it was nice seeing my wife get a huge PB of about 6 minutes. The following day I came down with another cold and had to rest up a few days as it was worse than the last one. It was probably still in my system during the race.

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After Reading my confidence was a bit knocked and I struggled a bit, however I decided to get over it and move on. I decided that I needed to get some race practice in for 5k’s ready for the Aquathlons. I had a few weeks of good quality training and entered The Tri Spirits Hole Park 5k trail race. Not my normal race but wanted to give it a try; plus my wife wanted to do it. The race went well and I was leading from the start and didn’t need to push as I had no one to chase down, but the course was mega hilly. I finished 1st and broke the course record by over 2 minutes. I waited for my wife to finish and she finished as the 2nd lady. I was very proud of her and we were both over the moon with the outcome.

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The following weekend it was all go for me as the Aquathlon season kicked off. It was my first race this year and since the World Championships. The race was the Basildon Aquathlon – an event that has been going for 25 years. This was a good test to see if I had improved and to get some practice. The race had quite a large field for an aquathlon and lots of upcoming young stars. It was a super hot day which made it tough as I was starting in the afternoon. The race consisted of a 400m pool swim and a 5k off road run.

I am not keen on pool swims as I don’t tumble turn as I don’t need to do them in open water races. The swimming pool was really hot and I started my 400m swim as we had to start in swim ability at 30 seconds gaps from each competitor.

I started off fast and then eased off a bit on the swim part. I didn’t go off too fast and I wish I did now as it was a short race. I got into transition and put my trainers on and off I went for the run. I had forgotten how hard multi-sports are but went for it on the run. I suddenly realised how tough the course was when I was told there were three hills and the first one was the easiest. By the time I got up the last hill my legs wanted to explode.

I overtook quite a few people as some were walking. The problem when you don’t all start a race together is that you don’t know who you are racing. I kept digging hard and ran as fast as I could downhill. I was 400m away from the finish on the running track, the flattest part of the course, when I started to push to the finish. I didn’t think I had placed as I didn’t swim to my best, however I was over the moon to find out I was 3rd overall and 2nd Senior.

 

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With a solid base of miles and swimming over the winter, I am feeling good and ready for the European Championships which is now a few weeks away.  Training the past few weeks has been a struggle where fatigue and long training session are taking it toll. However this was expected. My target for Bratislava is to try and get on the podium for my Age Group (30-34) if I can and to just enjoy and try my best.

Since writing this blog unfortunately I have received a minor set back with a calf strain. I will be writing a blog about my injury and recovery soon. I will try my best as my Age Group is very tough this year with a mixture of elites and professionals.

 

 

 

You never know who you are inspiring

I decided to write a blog about how I got into running, swimming and competing in Auqathlons. I am not talented; I just think hard work pays off. Some of you may know my background and some won’t know my background. This blog is to inspire others to achieve their goals and dreams.

I set up my website and social media accounts to inspire others and this is also why I have joined the Red Squirrel Blogging team. Anybody that posts stuff on social media keep going as you never know who you are inspiring.

 Photo by Jason Dodd Photography.

 

March 2010

At the age of 25 and not doing much exercise, I only played five a side football once a week with some friends and some gym sessions just doing weights. I decided to run the Sport Relief 5k at the University of Kent for charity. I hadn’t run since I was back at school when I was 15. So only trained for it a few weeks before and when I started the run I found that I would struggle and after a mile I had to walk for a bit; throughout the run I kept walking and running. I was happy to finish it but didn’t really enjoy it because of the pain and the struggle I had to go through, but hey it was for charity.

Fast forward to 2011, I realised I was very unfit and pretty much just playing football once a week. I decided to go swimming in my local pool which is a 33m pool. I only managed 6 lengths in an hour and found it tough. This was the start of something, I decided I wanted to get better and would start swimming once a week but I still struggled with the lengths.

In 2012 I was pretty much going to the gym twice a week, not that I had a clue what I was doing, football once a week and swimming once a week. I was doing more lengths at this time around 20-30 and it was still tough. Sport Relief was back because it is every two years. So I started running and training for this in January on a treadmill only about 20 minute runs twice a week. The run came and I managed to not stop and somehow managed to be the first person back. I really enjoyed myself, however running stopped after that.

I then watched the Olympics in 2012 on the television and watched the men’s Triathlon. I was wowed by the Brownlee’s and really enjoyed watching it. I texted a friend who recently ran a 10k and convinced him about joining a running club. I was inspired by the Olympics and decided to get fit. I joined my local running club Canterbury Harriers and soon got the bug of really enjoying running. I soon realised that if I trained and worked hard I could be alright at this. Unfortunately this didn’t last long as I was doing speed training and my calf went. This then set off problems and setbacks for around 7 months on and off. By this time it was spring time in 2013. I turned up to my local swimming pool that had a triathlon class on and I gave it ago. 

The first thing the instructor asked was why I was wearing goggles if I didn’t put my head in the water. I listened and learned the stroke she had told me to practice and my swimming was getting easier and better. I decided to train for a triathlon and my leg was healing. However it did not take long for it to go again and this time I had to do a triathlon. I turned up to the race with a bit of a limp and was fine on the swim and bike but a mile into the run my calf felt like someone had stabbed it with a knife, I had to carry on as I was raising money for charity and after I limped back I was unable to run for nearly two months. Unfortunately healing was a problem; I would come back to running and get stuck in a cycle that every time I ran every 6 weeks it would go again. I had to stop playing football but it still went and it was at this point that I considered to just give up running.

My friend who joined the running club with me was making huge progress and I just felt down about my body being injured all the time. I decided to see a private physio who I still see now. He filled me with huge confidence and from there-on I managed to go 6 months injury free, making progress.

The summer of 2014 saw me compete in triathlons and I was getting better however it wasn’t long until I got injured again and this time I was out for a full 3 months with an Achilles injury. I stayed positive and managed to bounce back after a long lay-off. This time I had a goal of staying injury free for longer and it worked. I ended up getting around 15 PB’s in races in 2015, which is due to the fact of keeping injury free.

After going a while injury free for a bit, I was in the process of buying a house and planning my wedding with my future wife. I didn’t have the time to go out and train for all disciplines so therefore didn’t have time to train on the bike. Two days after we were back from our honeymoon, I entered a local Aquathlon. I was very jet lagged and was advised by a friend who is a sports scientist not to do it but I still did. I ended up coming back in 5th place and was happy with that. I took many positives out of it and then decided to set my sites on qualifying for the Great Britain Aquathlon squad.

By the time September came I had already taken well over 2 minutes off my Aquathlon race time and it was time to submit my time for the GB aquathlon team. After being accepted in the GB team I was very nervous and excited at the same time. I thought I best get some swimming training to improve my swim, although my swimming wasn’t bad I still needed to improve it. During the winter months of 2016 I was training for Manchester Marathon and my target was to go for the elite marathon time or the sub 3:05 GFA time for London. I didn’t really want to do it, I just wanted to try and get into London as it’s an amazing experience. I hated the training and didn’t really enjoy it, I struggled with stomach bugs and this hampered my training so I decided to try and just get around the 02:50ish time. Cut a long story short on the day so many things went wrong such as not drinking enough water and just getting to the start line as it started. Up until mile 21 I was on for my target time but I started to get really tight calves so I saw others stretching and I thought this would be good and then my hamstring cramped up and I was limping back. I learnt a lot in that race and if I ever do a marathon again I have the experience. I finished in 3:14:44; I know it wasn’t the time I aimed for but I did it.

After the marathon I kept training and working hard just not to be last in the Nationals and Europeans. I turned up to the National Aquathlon Championships in Leeds and didn’t really have any goals but to just enjoy it. I came out the water in 45th place and as soon as I came out, I started pushing the run as it’s my strong point. The course was very hilly but I kept targeting people 1 by 1. So when I crossed the line, I had no idea I was in 3rd place. When I found out I was third I was very proud and shocked.

 

The European came round quickly and I knew I was in a lot better shape because training had gone well. Although I had a nasty cold a few days before the Europeans I was relaxed and just didn’t want to come last. The time came to start the race and we were told prior no wetsuits allowed as the lake was 26 degrees. The swim was 1000 metres so a bit further than my normal races. We started with a large crowd watching and at the 500m point we had to get out and run back in; I noticed I had a large group in front of me so I pushed hard to get close to them. 

 

Once I came out of transition I then started my run and just went for it. I was picking people off throughout the run and I then saw two guys in my Age Group in front of me at the last 400 metres. I somehow found something extra and sprinted passed them to take 3rd on the line. Another Bronze medal and another achievement I never thought would happen. I was over the moon and something to tell my children in the future; my wife shed some tears and she was very proud of me. She comes to every race with me and has been there from the start since I took up Aquathlons and has been very supportive. Words can’t describe how happy I was and it was an amazing day for me.

 

Finally, last year was a great year for me and because of my National championships success I was able to compete at the World Aquathlon Championships in Mexico, where I came 28th in my age group. I do believe no matter your ability or setbacks, if you train smart and train to the best you can be, your goals will be achieved and exceeded. It was never a goal for me to compete at this level, I didn’t even think I would ever be in this position. I Hope this inspires others and please continue to read my blogs. 

Keeping your body in top shape

I get asked many times how do I keep injury free and maintain fitness. Well there is a lot of factors which all go in piece by piece in staying injury free. Many people get intimidated by the gym, feel like it won’t benefit them and will bulk up. If you do it right  you will have huge benefits and you wont bulk up unless you want to.

Many runners neglect this area and as a result have too many injuries and become injury prone to their frustration. When I took up running just over four years ago I was always getting injuries and found I was not doing the right stuff in the gym. It is a myth when people say my legs are strong from just running.

Strength training

Firstly strength training, no matter what time of the year, on a weekly basis I hit the gym and work my muscles in my body. I neglected my core and glutes in the early days of running which resulted in many injuries and at one point nearly gave up. Hitting the gym at least once a week, has kept the injuries at bay and kept me in shape. When I see my physio (Andy Buckley from Team Buckley)for a routine check up and massage he always tells me that I am one of the few people that still does the exercises for injuries regardless if I am fully fit. Many runners go back injured as a result of not doing the exercises when they are better.

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Making the core strong is a must, not only does it give you better posture and better technique it also prevents many potential injures. By neglecting your core it can effect you in a number of ways such as back pain, muscle imbalance, poor posture etc. The power from most body movements comes from your core so really effects nearly everything you do. Improving your core will not only reduce the risk of injury but improve your fitness and strength. So I recommend looking up core excises. Weak glutes can also be a huge problem and again causes injuries. Part of the problem with weak glutes is that they are not very active as other running muscles. So squats can help.

Doing too much too soon or overdoing it is something people do a lot, It is  vital to get enough rest days in your plan and to back off if your body is telling you not to do it. I have learnt the hard way and now listen to my body. I suppose its all down to experience.

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Regular massage

Having a regular massage or physio appointment is an important part of my schedule. You may think why? Well because whilst your training you can get all sorts of muscle imbalances and it’s best to correct this or loosen you off before injuries start to appear. I also use massage products to keep me loose such as the WellBrix blocks.

Stretching

I stretch twice a day, EVERYDAY. Even if I am not training and it’s a rest day, I will stretch in the morning and in the evening. If its on a training day it will be more as I stretch after training as well. Sometimes I can spend a while stretching, I know this takes time up but it keeps me injury free.

Getting my feet looked at

A couple of time a year I go and see a Podiatrist. My feet get sore throughout a course of a year and doing this has helped. I get the hard skin taken away and any other problems sorted. My feet feel refreshed after it.

 

Using oils

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As you may be aware I use Dom’s Ease Oil and they are one of my sponsors. Since using these products I have found that because they are all natural, I have recovered at a faster rate and allows me to push to my limits in training and races. I use both products the sports ease blend and muscle ease oil blend and even when I am having a sports massage I use these products.

The Muscle Ease Oils & Sports Ease Oils are used by a number of personal trainers, gym users, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, boxers, dancers, cyclists, footballers, golfers, bodybuilders, physiotherapists and anyone who regularly exercises. These products are used to prevent DOMS. (Delayed onset muscle soreness) DOMS,  most people will experience this.  It results in pain and stiffness which is felt in muscles hours after strenuous exercise.  It is mostly felt at its strongest 24 to 72 hours after the exercise.

I use the Sports Ease Blend for warming up my muscles before a session; it also smells nice. I have found that I am able to get ready for my reps at a quicker rate then before as the muscles are already warm. Of course you still need a warm up. The other product, the Muscle Ease Oil and Blend I use on rest days in the bath or after a hard work out so I am not sore the next day. I also use this one in my massages. I do highly recommend these products as it keeps DOMS to a minimal for me.

All of the above help me stay injury free and are in my weekly plan.

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Off Season Races

Races have been very quiet due to the winter season; however on the 8th of January I took part in the Kent Fitness League at Minnis Bay. It is one of my favourite cross country races and one that I very much look forward to. It is quite well known down in Kent for being challenging and the water dykes that you have to go in. I was targeting a position in the 20’s with the basis of pushing for a top 20 position towards the end of the season. Last season I achieved 21st position which was my best result and in races this year I have been placing higher than last year – in the 20’s. This was my easy week, where all my running mileage goes down and I slowly pick it back up in the coming weeks. So I was really fresh.

It was quite mild, so shorts and vest did the job, I got to the race and decided to sit somewhere and listen to music, something I do all the time now as Gobinder recommended it.  I normally go somewhere quiet and reflect on the race ahead, how I am feeling and what I am going to try and do.  I then proceeded to the Canterbury Harriers tent and met up with club runners.  I decided to make the first mile the slowest and then ease into the race from there.

The race director started us all off and I had a slow start, just what I wanted.  I eased into the race and realised that the grass was not very muddy. After about  a mile I decided to do negative splits, I had lots of runners in front of me and I started over taking runners and using them as targets. Then came to the dreaded dykes I had a pack behind me, I jumped in to the first dyke and there was no water in there, I then ran to the second and again no water. When I got to the third one, I misjudged it, like I do every year and fell right into the water. I then proceeded all muddy and wet to the next two and I started to struggle as the dykes took a lot out of me. A runner went past and said come on keep going. I suddenly was back into the zone and chasing people down. I knew I was doing well but didn’t know what position I was. I pushed on at the last mile and was sprinting at the end. I then was told I was 7th and I was over the moon. Didn’t expect to be in the top 10 so this now gives me something to build on now as I have back to back races coming up. Everything is starting to look very bright with training at the moment.

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Next stop was the Parker Tools Canterbury 10 mile race. This was my target race and I had targeted a PB. The course is undulating with two hard hills to tackle on mile 5 and 7, however the race has potential as it has some good downhill sections.

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I had two days rest before the race to see how fresh I could be. I jumped in the car with my wife as she was running it too and it was freezing, the car said the temperature was -5 outside and it was really misty.

Got to the start line with some top runners competing in the race and was hoping to place slightly higher than 48th compared to last year and hopefully take a new PB home with me. As it was freezing I decided to wear a base layer under my vest and gloves. I made sure I had a good warm up and decided to stick to my plan of negative splits, so go off the first couple of miles slower than my other miles and to attack the hills as I knew that last year I lost a lot of time going up them. The race started and lots of runners sprinted passed me, I didn’t get carried away and stuck to the plan, the mist was so bad I couldn’t see more than a few metres in front and therefore found it tough to see who was in front of you and the course.

Whilst going off slowly I was slowly overtaking some runners that went off too fast and I felt very comfortable, while others were struggling after a few miles. After keeping to my plan, I soon came to the first hill and attacked it, I had one runner shout out “he is going for it up there” I got to the top and my heart rate was to the max, I struggled for a few metres to keep my legs turning over, but my heart rate soon dropped and I was going downhill. I only lost around 20 seconds up that hill, compared to the 1 minute last year. I then was ready to push the last five miles going past more runners. I started to get quicker and quicker each mile, something that I having being trying to master over the off season. I then came up to the next big hill and again I attacked it fast passing a few more runners, it felt good. I got to the top and this time kept my legs going at speed, again I only lost another 20 seconds on that mile.

The remaining miles were all downhill and I kept getting faster and soon came to the finish line with my last mile over 30 seconds faster than my first mile.  I was well chuffed as I placed 28th and managed a new PB by 30 seconds at a time of 01:01:11, so defiantly aiming towards my target. I do think I could of gone faster and still have more in me for next time. The course is hard to judge because of the hills and therefore makes pacing slightly harder. However I think I got it right on the day and this gives me confidence to now target my next race Reading Half Marathon.

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Next race was on Sunday the 29th of January in the Kent Fitness League in  Meopham. Still feeling tired from the Canterbury 10 and my Achilles playing up I was debating whether to do this. I also had to cut my long easy run short on the Friday due to having really sore heels. Anyway I decided to take the 40 minute trip to the race and I do like this race as its in grounds that are not normally open to the public. The race is quite hilly with lots of downhill sections.

The race started and as soon as I started I felt I might struggle, I decided to try and focus on mini groups as targets. Again my target was top 20, but any higher would be amazing, I stayed with a big pack on the first lap and then decided to pull away. At this point another runner had dropped the group with me and we were pushing each other along. I got to the last stretch and tried to catch the people in front but they were just a little in front. I finished and again was very pleased as I was 8th and it was another top 10 finish.

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Whats next? well one more Cross Country race to go on the 5th February and that’s it for me on the cross country season. All my goals have been achieved for the cross country season and all focus now towards Reading Half Marathon.