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.

All roads lead to Penticton 2017

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So 2017 arrived and I am now in full training mode for the European Aquathlon Championships in Bratislava and the long road towards the Penticton World Championships in August.  It is a long way away but both will come around fast and before you know, it will be the end of the season.

So I have worked out my plan leading up to the European Championships and the National Championships and decided to put some New Year goals and targets into place. Below are my targets and goals for this season/year.

  • Improve my swimming technique and get faster
  • Improve my strength 
  • Improve my running as a whole
  • PB in running races in 5K, 10K, 5 miler, 10 miler and Half Marathon
  • Improve aquathlon race times
  • Target podiums or near at the Nationals and Europeans
  • Top 20 World Aqauthlon finish

 

Improve my swimming technique and to get faster

My first goal is to get my swimming stronger and have recently started getting coached again by Matt Tithecott for this. We have already notice technique flaws and are looking to correct this. I need to get faster and stronger with a better technique so I have started working early with him this year to correct this has it will take a while.

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Improving my strength 

This is a must for me, by improving my strength I will be stronger in races and therefore will be able to push more. I started working with my Strength and Conditioning coach Craig in October and we have been working on my core and power ready for this season. I have already seen some progress and I am looking to further progress. I will write a blog about this soon.

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Improve my running as a whole

In the off season and winter months one of my goals is to make my body more efficient and stronger in order to improve my running. As a running coach I have been able to work on my technique and looking at my arm drive and my stride length. I concentrate on these areas while on my easy long runs which at the moment are a must for me to improve my running economy by long easy HR runs. Please read my previous blog about HR running HERE. Training has changed and I will continue to change it in order to keep improving and getting better such as longer reps in the winter months and shorter reps in the summer.

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To PB in running races in 5K, 10K, 5 miler, 10 miler and Half Marathon

Over the winter season and towards my major races I have some races that I want to improve my times in all race disciplines (5k, 10k, 5miles, 10miles and Half marathon). I didn’t get many PB’s last year so I want to correct this. First of all is to record a 5k time of less than 18 minutes officially, as I have managed this in some Aquathlons and longer races last year. My race plan has changed and finding the right pace is hard at the moment and I am working on it. This is why recently at Parkrun I went and had a test run but struggled to get the pace right. This resulted in me going to slow the first mile and struggling to make up the time in the other miles. A big lesson learnt.

I raced in the Parker Tools Canterbury 10 miler recently and that was a target race for a PB. I hoped to go better then the Thanet 10 mile race in December and work towards a sub 1 hour 10 miler this year.  Next target race for me will be the Vitality Reading half marathon in March, this is where I really want to PB and hope to go well under the 1:23 mark. These two are my next target races up until March. Once April is in full swing I have Aqauthlons and 10ks to keep me busy. I am aiming for a sub 36 minute 10k this season and also PB in my 5 miler time.

Improve Aquathlon race times

This is a huge target and goal for me, I am looking to improve my Aquathlon times as a whole. This is a must if I want to achieve my next two targets. I will be doing this by what I mentioned in the previous section and getting plenty more races in to practice.

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Target podiums or near at the Nationals and European’s

This is simple, I need to put the training and effort in to try and go better than last year. I will give it my all and try my best. I will aim for the podiums but if I don’t achieve this at least I have tried. I will be looking at improved performances for these races.

Work towards a Top 20 World Aqauthlon finish

I will target a top 20 finish and higher this year. I hope to go better as the heat won’t be an issue and have the experience behind me. With a future goal of being in the top 10.

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So what is happening at the moment? My swimming training has now begun and I am looking forward to working hard and improving this. Gym sessions are tough but they seem to be working and I find them fun and different.

 

 

Interview with Yiannis – GB Athlete featured on Marathon Marcus website

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As part of my blog I (MM) believe it’s important to learn from more experienced runners than myself to see how I can improve. I am really inspired by fellow DOMS Ease Oil Sport Ambassador Yiannis (YC) who only started running after being inspired by the London 2012 Olympics he ended up joining his local running club, the Canterbury Harriers. Fast forward several years coupled with talent and hard work, he is now an International athlete for the Great Britain Aquathlon Team where he won a Bronze on his debut in France. He competed in the World Championships in Mexico racing against the Browlee brothers. He is representing Great Britain in the 2017 European and World Aquathlon Championships.

MM: How did you get into running and why do you do continue to do it? 

YC: I only started running in 2012, I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics to get out there, which ended up me joining my local running club, Canterbury Harriers. 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 doing just that. I knew I was never going to be the fastest in my area or club but I could get close. I continue to train as I want to improve myself and achieve great things. You would be surprised what you can achieve.

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MM: Injuries are apart of running, but not always easy to deal with, what advice would you give to runners for coping with injuries?

YC: In the first couple of years of running I was plagued with injuries and found it very hard and tough. I have learnt now what the difference between an injury and a niggle. You must listen to your body and recovery/rest is important. Taking a few weeks off here and now is important. Don’t rush back too soon and if you have an injury try swimming pool jogging.

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MM: Bar running what other training do you train to improve your running performance? 

YC: Strength training and swimming, its important to do strength training, well for me it’s a must and keeps the injuries away. Many people neglect this, swimming is good to loosen you off after a run.

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MM: My goal is to work towards a sub 3:05 marathon, with my PB 30mins of this, what advice would you give to someone like myself looking to improve their time? 

YC: Don’t do too many marathons in a year, two max if you want a PB. You must take rest and recovery after the marathons and I would do plenty of easy long runs. Why struggle getting your time down over a year when you could do it in one race? Make sure you change your training up regularly.

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YC: My favourite training session is mile reps flat out, my least favourite is Hill reps but they are beneficial.

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MM: You have a great social media presence, especially on Instagram. If you could accomplish anything via social media what would it be? 

YC: Just to inspire others and hope they can achieve their targets. If it helps one person I am happy.

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MM: For those who are unfamiliar, can you explain what an Aquathlon is? 

YC: Is a swim followed by a run, sometimes it can be a run, swim then run again. A normal distance is 1000k swim followed by a 5k run.

MM: Whilst competing what was your greatest lesson and what was your accomplishment in Aquathlons? 

YC: Swimming in a mass start, at the nationals I didn’t put my goggles on right and they got knocked off by another swimmer, luckily I grabbed them before they were lost in the water.

In regards to my accomplishment in Aquathlons this is a tough one so I cant really decide between these two. The National Championships I didn’t expect to come anywhere and to come away with a National Bronze medal made me feel so happy. The European Championships is another one but has to just get the edge, the reason is I got a Bronze Medal again. However this race is so clear for me as I left it to the last 400m to sprint to take 3rd place, this is something that still does not feel real.

MM: You’ve competed in National, European, and World Aquathlon Championships what strategies do you use to help you focus and concentrate, to excel in these competitions? 

YC: Well this year has been a huge learning curve and was the first time I competed in these events. In the Nationals it was a huge unknown well all the races were this year. In the Nationals I aimed to just go as hard as I could from the start and try my best. I didn’t expect to come 3rd after exiting the swim in the twenties (position). At the Europeans I was ill that week and I just wanted to enjoy it and not come last, I came out the water right near the back but something clicked in my head and I thought this could be my only chance, so I ran an amazing run for me and came third again. The World Championships I had a few niggles but being there was amazing. All though it didn’t go to plan my main focus was just to go round and enjoy it. Next year will be harder but I aim to improve.

MM: How do you avoid burnout whilst competing? 

YC: By having plenty of rest and recovery throughout the season and set mini goals.

MM: From your experiences running, what do you believe to be true? 

YC: Training at a slower pace does not make you slower, it can make you faster and running flat out all the time wont make you faster.

Marathon Marcus website HERE

2016 Season review

I thought it was best to write a blog about my season review as my journey this year has been an amazing one for me, with highs and lows.  Firstly I set up this blog and my social media outlets to inspire others to achieve their goals and great things. My hard work in training has improved me year on year. I only took up running in 2012 and swimming 6 years ago. It always amazes people when I say around 6 years ago I got into a pool and could only swim 6 lengths in an hour, now it is at least 120 lengths (3000 metres) in an hour. I really hope my journey inspires others to do the same. I have always been dedicated in what I do and I will continue this through the 2017 season.  I hope 2017 is a successful season again for me but either way I will enjoy the ride and keep inspiring others.

So the 2016 season started with an 18 week marathon program, which being a running coach I designed myself. So January involved high mileage and a lot more mileage than I have ever been used to.  I was training for the Manchester Marathon and normally I don’t go for longer distances. So I aimed high for the elite time of 2:45 if not go sub 3 hour so I could get into London Marathon for 2017. To be honest I was not that fussed about marathons and this would be my first, all I really wanted to do was London Marathon so I tried to get in this way as the ballot is so hard to get a place. So training incorporated Cross country races and I was placing higher and times were better than previous years. First stop was Canterbury 10 miler, towards the end of January, I managed a PB on an undulating course and my time was 1:02:46, where I was happy with the time, considering it was off a high mileage week for me. Doing high mileage was a huge unknown for me and was already up to around 60 miles a week. At this point my body seem to be coping well.

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February came around and I had another target race to focus on towards my marathon, this was the Deal Half Marathon in mid-February. While trying to push hard for higher mileage and getting up early most mornings before work  for easy runs, I was struggling. I kept getting ill and colds and I ended up stopping after half a mile of a local cross country and had to rest. The week after came Deal Half Marathon and I was still unwell; I done the race and started off very well, however after 10 miles my body was struggling and ended up with 1:27:04 as a time. I was disappointed as I was hoping for a PB and was quite a bit off it; however we won the team prize and a free boat trip to France so I was happy with that.

March came along and my training was becoming a struggle, all speed reps were slowing down and I wasn’t enjoying the marathon training, it felt like I was stuck in a tunnel and wasn’t getting out. I was still swimming and going to the gym throughout my training. First stop this month was the Lydd 20 miler, I was looking to marathon pace in this race and at this point it was my highest mileage week going up to 70 miles with this race. I wasn’t sure I could do it but was going to give it a go. I ended up finishing it 2:14:12 and managed to keep to marathon pace until the last two miles. So I was getting ready for Manchester. Two weeks later the next race was the Vitality North London Half Marathon. By this point mileage was coming down and Manchester was only a few weeks away.  I felt great on the race and with it being undulating was quite hard, I went for it and managed to keep a good pace and ended up with 1:23:56. I was over the moon about the time as I just got 30 seconds outside my PB.

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April came fast and I started struggling with all sorts of weird pains and niggles while tapering, Manchester was nearly here and I wasn’t looking forward to it. So it was time for the race and the night before I was told we couldn’t stay in Manchester and had to change our hotel to Bolton. That made me a little stressed. The morning of the race we left early to then find out that the road we were trying to get down, had only just closed and we had to do a huge detour which ended up me getting my wife to drive and myself running to the start line for the start. I found my training partner but I hadn’t drunk a lot of water as I was stuck in the car which was a bad idea. After training had not gone too well I decided 2:50ish would be a more realistic time.  After the mad rush to the start Steve (training buddy) and  I started the marathon; for twenty miles I felt fine and my mile splits were all consistent and spot on. However 22 miles in my calf was getting very tight and I thought it would be best to stretch it, which was not a good idea. I then proceeded and a mile later had a pain in my hamstring and I stopped, I then struggled back and managed to jog back. The last few miles were such a struggle but I managed to get 03:14:44. Looking back at it I should have drunken much more water, I shouldn’t of stopped and I would completely change my marathon training up. I was glad it was over to be honest as I wasn’t really enjoying the training and learnt a lot. After the race I took a week off and contacted my swimming coach for training.

May came along and I was in full training for my European Aquathlon. I was starting to get worried as I knew my swimming was not very strong, so I trained hard in that area. I had two races this month the Ocean Tri Aquathlon mid-May and the Vitality 10,000 at the end. I had an easy week of training at the beginning of May as I was in Cyprus and swam in the sea while I was  out there. With the marathon still in my legs I turned up to the Ocean Tri Auqathlon mid-May and finished 3rd, I was over the moon as I also had improved my swim by a minute and my running was coming along. So this was looking good as the National Aquathlon Championships were only a month away. So the Vitality 10,000 approached and my wife and I headed to the race. When I got to the race I then noticed I forgot my shorts, I was paying too much attention on wearing my GB tracksuit when leaving that I left my shorts back home. I then was trying to work out what to do and asked loads of people for a pair of shorts. A nice guy kindly gave me his spare shorts. I wasn’t expecting a PB but decided to run hard to start off with. I felt good all the way and managed a huge 1 minute 10k PB time of 36:50 I was over the moon.

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June came along and I had been training well, four runs a week, four swim sessions with 2 gym sessions as well. I done another local Auqathlon and came 2nd and was over 2 minutes quicker which was great. At this point I didn’t really have any ambitions for the European Championships but jut to go and enjoy it.

However first stop was the National Auqathlon Championships in Leeds two weeks before my trip to France for the European Championships. It was a long journey to Leeds and once I was there I helped out at the Zone 3 tent for a few hours and everyone was nice and friendly. The following day was race day and although I had won a local Auqathlon a few days earlier I was very much very tired and suffering from the races I had been doing the previous weeks. I was very nervous but got to the start line. As soon as the race started I got my googles knocked off and had to grab them and put them back on. By that time I was near the back and therefore had to swim hard, I made up ground but then got boxed in with other swimmers. I knew I had to push the run and with the course being hilly at Rounday park it was going to be tough. I came out 45th in the swim and not where I wanted to be but I pushed on to come 23rd overall by pushing it on the run, I was very happy with how I performed on the second part of the race, but when I found out I was 3rd in my Age Group and automatic entry to the World Championships in Mexico, I was over the moon.

After gaining this massive achievement and bronze medal, I had a few weeks left for the European’s. I decided to just try my best and enjoy the whole experience. The week leading up to France I came down with a bad cold and was unable to train for the whole week. I was advised to rest although feeling ill I packed my stuff and arrived in France the day before the race. It was very warm and we had a long journey from Paris to Chateauroux which made me feel quite ill again. Once there I had this buzz and felt much better. The next day was the race day and although I was feeling slightly better I was very relaxed about the race. The time came to start the race and we were told prior no wetsuits allowed as the lake was 26 degrees. The swim was 1,000 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. Read full report HERE

Early July I had a local 10k (Les Golding 10k) and was struggling to find form and struggled and was over 2 minutes slower than my PB, I had struggled since the Europeans. I entered the Mid Kent 5 Miler and finished 9th.  I was disappointed with my time which was slower than it was last year in the same race. With Mexcio just under 6 weeks away I turned to my target race of Whitstable Surf N Turf on the 31st of July. Training has been tough in recent weeks, perhaps not enough rest in between the Euro’s and too much racing. With a minor leg problem in training recently it has been a struggle to be able to push it in the run and I have felt like my running form has dipped.

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Due to the race being a local race for me and just down the road, I was really looking forward to it and was very excited. Before I even got to the queue to register, someone came up to me and congratulated me for my European result which was nice. I then registered and took my bits to transition with quite a few people coming over and congratulating me and speaking to me about the Euro’s.  I always like a good chat and helping others; I felt like a local celebrity. I went into transition and met some locals. The sea was choppy and I got into the sea pumped up and ready to go. For some reason I was very excited about this. The swim started and it was very choppy after a few minutes; it appeared to me that I was swimming on my own. Towards the end of my swim I pushed on and came out the sea to find out that I was 1st out, not the normal routine for me, so I was happy about that and off I went onto the run part. I started to struggle but raced up the final hill, had a look around and no one was there. So I eased off to the finish line to come home comfortable in first place, nearly two minutes in front of the next competitor. This is my 2nd win overall and 2nd win of the year! I was over the moon because I love my local events and grew up in the area. It was nice to see so many people supporting the event and supporting me and cheering, I really appreciate this. I will be back next year to compete! Read full report HERE

August came around and I decided to concentrate on training and I was asked if I would kindly turn up to the Whitstable Parkrun for their 309th run for the I AM TEAM GB day. This was a day nationally celebrated for the Olympians on 27th of August. I really enjoyed myself and it wasn’t long until the World Aquathlon Championships in Mexico. Read full report HERE

The 14th of September came round very quickly and it felt not so long ago when it was June and I took home 2 Bronze Medals. I was in tapering mode, however preparations didn’t go to plan. After the Whitstable Surf N Turf I decided to rest my leg as I was getting a problem when racing and doing speed work which was making it worse. For some reason jogging was fine so I decided to take 9 days rest from running and I still had 6 weeks left until the World Championships. So I decided to do more swimming sessions and realised my running fitness wasn’t going to be affected too much. After the 9 days of not running I was back to normal and running fine.

Just before I headed off to Mexico I had five days in Greece for my cousin’s wedding, where I ran on a treadmill those days in the hotel. But I decided to shut the windows and air-con in the gym there so I could acclimatise for Mexico. It was tough and very hot but good training.

So I raced at the Ocean Tri Aquathlon on Wednesday a week before the World Championships and finished 3rd. I tried a few things different on the day like listening to music as Gobinder my confidence coach recommended. I found it helped and got me ready for the race. At the race itself, I didn’t push too hard and found my 5k time was where I wanted it to be; my swim time was around 1 minute slower but I knew that would happen as I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit. I finished 3rd and only 50 seconds off the winner, so I was happy as I took it easy and was the only non-wetsuit swimmer. I didn’t use a wetsuit as I wanted to get used to swimming without one for the World Championships.

The time came and I was off to Mexico, I was raring to go but I had a slight concern at the back of my mind as I had an Achilles niggle. I arrived in Mexico safely and the first thing I done was check the beach out for training. It was amazing, I have never seen such clear water and white sand; this was paradise. It was even better when swimming in the sea as I could see loads of fish. I had one easy one hour run a few days before the race and it was hot and tough because of the heat.

The day before the race we headed down to the ferry port to Cozumel and found out that there were no early ferries for Wednesday that would get me to the race on time. This sent me into panic mode and I was stressing about it, which didn’t help. I then went back to our hotel in Playacar and grabbed my stuff in a rush – my mind was all over the place. I headed to Cozumel and went to the Expo first to register, then I went walking round with my wife looking for a hotel for the night. We managed to find a hotel. The hotel wasn’t great but it would do for a night. After we checked into the hotel, I was more relaxed and then it was time to go to the team GB race briefing, have dinner and then sleep.

I woke up on the race day at 5am with the race at 8:50am, I wanted to be wide awake and ready to go. I always race better and train better in the evenings so it was important to be up early. I started to hydrate as it was very hot, roughly 32 degrees.  By the time I got to the race I had drunk over 5 litres of water which I found out later was probably not enough.

The race then started and I started off hard because of the different format of a 2.5k run followed by a 1,000 metre swim and 2.5k run again. I was going strong and in 5th place after a mile, however all of a sudden my pace dropped and I started to struggle. I got into transition and felt dazed. My wife usually tells me where I am in transition and I chat back but something wasn’t right as I was feeling awful. I proceeded into the sea and found it a struggle to swim the first 500 metres with my shoulders feeling dead. Afterwards I started to feel fine and started to push the swim. I came out into transition and sprinted out onto the run; I then started to find I was struggling and my pace started to slow down. I saw a person collapse near me but the last part of the race was a bit of a blur. I remember the last 100m sprinting and taking a while to move away from the finish.

Overall I finished 28th; I am happy with my performance and the heat did affect me and therefore was not able to perform to my best. This has now given me a new experience and learning curve that I can use to build on next year at the Europeans and World Championships. My Aquathlon season was over for the year. Read full report HERE

After the World Championships I had a few weeks off; by now it was October and I was running the Givaudan Ashford 10k on Sunday 9th October as it was my running club (Canterbury Harriers) Club Championships and I was sorting this out for the club. Due to my achilles problem I was advised by my phsyio not to race Sunday and run round with my wife. At first I was a bit disappointed but I knew that was best for me as I have only been doing easy training. My wife liked the idea of me running with her and pace her to a PB.  We never run together so I thought it would be nice. The day came for the race and I was very tempted to race because I had a chance to place highly in the club championships. Despite the wet conditions there was a record turnout of 48 Harriers – the biggest number of Harriers in any race since the club`s formation in 1993. That felt good as I really tried to get a lot of Harriers to do it. I helped my wife to a new PB and it was great running with her. Read full report HERE

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Next stop was the Chilham Castle 5k, one of my first running races was 5 years ago coming 3rd. So due to my injury problems and off season I didn’t target this race but as it’s only a few miles down the road I decided to do it again this year.  Having won the race twice in four years and winning it last year I wanted to retain my title. I knew I wasn’t in great shape but I have improved a lot this year and recorded some much quicker times then my current official PB’s in my Aquathlon races this year. I started the race at the same time as the Dual athletes so I had to be careful not to race the wrong person. I quickly found myself on my own in the lead, so I stuck to the plan and didn’t push too hard. The race went by so quick and I didn’t look at my watch that much. I came up the last hill and eased off. By this time I had crossed the line in 1st place and was happy to win this local event. I had kept to the plan and had negative splits; this is something I do need to work on.

I was then told by the race director that I broke the course record again by 40 seconds; I was over the moon with that. At the end of October I entered the Cross Country league in Kent (Kent fitness league) and managed 29th. Although I was very happy with the placing and had beaten guys that I don’t normally beat, I was hoping to place higher for future races.  Read full report HERE

November I raced in the second Cross Country race and finished 26th, so I was slowly improving and hope for a top twenty finish in the future.  Winter is well and truly here now and makes training hard in the freezing cold, training was becoming tough in the cold weather, I know I am a wimp. My first target now was to improve on my PB or get near my 10k PB time for the Brighton 10k.  With very little speed work leading up to it I wasn’t sure how it would go because my last race was a cross country race and it is very difficult to judge where you are with your fitness levels.  Although I got sent the awesome number 1 for the Brighton 10k race, it was unfortunately cancelled due to very bad weather in Brighton.

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So after Brighton I decided to enter the Alan Green Thanet 10 Miler on the 4th of December. A race I have raced in the previous two years. 10 miles isn’t a distance I race in regularly so I didn’t taper for this and decided to use it as one of my normal runs. Training runs had been going great at this point and I am very pleased the way they are going, I decided to try something different and start the race off slower than normal and see how it goes. I normally start out too fast and try to hang on the last few miles. The wind was against me for the first 5 miles and I think I was around 24th position after the first mile. I don’t normally count positions but I wanted to see if what I was trying to do would work. I was aiming for any time under 01:03:46 to be quicker than last year and 01:02:46 was my PB so anything around that time would be great. So I finished in 01:01:40 and I was over the moon with my time and beating one of my winter targets and nearly two minutes quicker than last year in the same race. As a result of the other Harriers doing well, we picked up the team prize and I was 4th overall and 3rd senior back.  Read full report HERE

So that is it for the year for me, I would like to thank everyone for their support over the past year on social media.  It has been truly a great year for me and I hope I can be better this year and inspire others to success. Thank you for following my journey and please  continue to follow my journey in 2017.

Winter Training Update and Thanet 10 Miler

img_5911Winter is well and truly here now and makes training hard in the freezing cold, the last few weeks I have had to put a lot of layers on for the first time in a long time.

My first target was to improve on my PB or get near my 10k PB time for the Brighton 10k.  with very little speed work leading up to it I wasn’t sure how it would go because my last race was a cross country race and it is very difficult to judge where you are with your fitness levels.  Although I got sent the awesome number 1 for the Brighton 10k race, it was unfortunately cancelled due to very bad weather in Brighton.

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So still suffering with this Achilles niggle I have to be careful with training so that I do not make it worse. Most of my runs are easy at the moment and therefore making me more efficient – you can read up about HR training from my last blog HERE.  No point training too hard and too much speed work when my main races don’t start until May.

I have been working with my strength and conditioning coach Craig Coggle for the past two months and he has completely changed up my training in the gym and it appears to be making me stronger but it is a tough session in the gym. I am looking forward to seeing the future results and will keep you updated.

Swimming wise I am still getting in the pool on a regular weekly basis but again I am just ticking over until next year. No speed work at present just technique work as no point pounding away yet. However I am meeting up with my swim coach in a few weeks and I am pretty sure the training will be starting soon.

So after Brighton I decided to enter the Alan Green Thanet 10 miler on the 4th of December. A race I have raced in the previous two years. 10 miles isn’t a distance I race in regularly so I didn’t taper for this and decided to use it as one of my normal runs.

Training runs had been going great and I am very pleased the way they are going, I decided to try something different and start the race off slower than normal and see how it goes. I normally start out too fast and try to hang on the last few miles. The wind was against me for the first 5 miles and I think I was around 24th position after the first mile. I don’t normally count positions but I wanted to see if what I was trying to do would work. I was aiming for any time under 01:03:46 to be quicker than last year and 01:02:46 was my PB so anything around that time would be great.

I proceeded with the plan and did not get carried away with people I normally run near being further away at this point. So I started off slower and by mile 4 and 5 because of the wind I found keeping to my current pace a struggle and was a lot slower at that point from the first 3 miles. I then turned back at the half way point and found that there was no wind and started to push and overtake people. I kept going and each mile I was getting faster; by the time I hit mile 8 I was in 4th place and catching 3rd. I kept going quicker and the last mile I went for it, I just couldn’t get close enough to 3rd place but I finished in 01:01:40 and over the moon with my time and beating one of my winter targets and nearly two minutes quicker than last year in the same race.

As a result of the other Harriers doing well, we picked up the team prize and I was 4th overall and 3rd senior back. When analysing my data I realised I had been 3 minutes quicker the second part of the race and managed a 5 mile and 5k PB.  I also looked at my Heart Rate max and it appears I was not near the max, so sounds like I didn’t try harder enough or paced slightly wrong.

So what next? My next 10 mile race is in January the Parker Tools Canterbury 10 miler and my target is still the same to try and improve my time and work towards a sub 1 hour time. I am going to keep my training in 6 week blogs and reevaluate at a later date. January is a busy month with the Cross Country races starting up again.

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