TRIATHLON ENGLAND NATIONAL SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIPS EXPERIENCE

This season has gone so well but where has all the time gone? It seems to have flown by. It’s been a great season for me no matter what happens in the remaining races I have left I have had a great one.

I did the National Sprint Triathlon Championships at Bedford back in August which was also the 2020 ETU Qualifier for the GB Triathlon team in Malmo. This was always the most important race of the year for me and to see how well I would do with experienced and strong athletes. I started training for this back in November when Mark Shepard started putting me through my paces on the bike. I haven’t been cycling long so I knew if I worked hard at it I could make big gains. With a season purely focused on triathlons, I knew it was going to be tough but I like a challenge and therefore focused a lot on this area. I always planned to do this race last year and kept it quiet from social media as I didn’t want any pressure and to keep low key. I only told my coaches, family and close friends.

So I wanted to keep a low key, I turned up to this race knowing I would be strong on the swim and run and hopefully the bike training would pay off, I have seen lots of gains on the bike. I didn’t really know what to expect, I have done big events before but I was entering a race which was the unknown for me.

I did my normal warm up and it was nice and sunny so was looking forward to it. I got ready for the swim and the start went off and I swam hard, I enjoyed the swim and came out with the front pack. I came into transition in 5th place and I then got on to the bike. The bike was going well and managing to keep a good pace. I had a few packs go past me which is annoying as they were drafting in a non-drafting race. It then started raining on the bike leg around 7-8 miles in for me and I suddenly nearly lost control at one of the roundabouts due to the rain and my lack of confidence on the bike. I then came onto a main road where lots of cars were going fast and so close to me. This put me off and I decided to ease off as my safety was more important than crossing the line as fast as I could. A few miles later my bike was making a racket and something sounded like it was grinding and I started to get very cold, but I made it fine to transition apart from forgetting to take my foot off one of my shoes. I got into transition and felt fresh, by this time it was pouring down.

I started the run fast and with it being wet and all on grass the conditions were tough. I had trails with me but left them in the car as the rain was not forecasted. I attacked the run going past a lot of people. I love cross country running, however with the rain coming down it was making the course tough. It was very slippery and I stacked it coming down hill as a result. Anyway I finished the run and was 11th in my Age Group. I had the 4th fastest run in my race and was not far off 5th place time wise.

So I am pleased with it as it was my first Triathlon championships and I will be back next year. This has given me a foundation and target now to work towards. Life is all about challenges and I decided at the end of last year to move into a new challenge. As a result of my placing I have a good chance of qualifying for the GB Triathlon Age Group team for a roll down place but will have to wait and see. What I do know Is that over the winter I will be working hard again on the bike and spending a bit more time on it.

Is a 3D gait analysis important?

My blog here today is about a 3D gait analysis that I had recently at the 8th Element lab in Kent and whether this kind of tool is worth it? I am always keen to combine science with my training. As I have been in many scientific tests in the past that have worked for me and I have shared in recent blogs, I was interested in seeing this. I approached John from 8th Element about coming into his lab for a test. I was very intrigued as my friend Steve had one done and there isn’t many of these types of facilities around.

So what is this exactly? I didn’t really know to be honest what was involved, I knew a little about it apart from it was to do with injury prevention, but once in the lab I was amazed by the data and the set up. You run on a treadmill and there are camera’s positioned around the lab to watch all your body movements. When watching the screen directly in front of you, you can see green dots on your body on the screen and it’s from those dots it takes your running form. So I had to perform a test on the treadmill running at my race pace for 45 seconds and that’s it until you get the results which are instant. Now the interesting thing I found was that the analysis bases its finding on you and not the perfect runner. Which is good because as a coach changing runners’ bio mechanics fully can result in problems. I am interested in the science behind this; you can use science in your running as a powerful tool.

Now what I liked about this was that it gives you results that the a coach cannot necessarily see. My running coach Steve King and myself as I am also a running coach aren’t able to see what a computer can see from its data. I am a data man; I work with data so getting this test done is great as I love the data coming out of it and will always work with data to improve myself.

So with like any gait analysis they are designed to find errors in your technique and the way you run. Some might take it with a pinch of salt some may take it fully on board. For me if there are any errors I need to sort them out or at least have a think about them, just like what I would do with my swimming technique. So what did it find? Well it found a lot, some parts such as different sort of strength training on my off season did play a part. Now the interesting thing for me was ever since I got knocked off my bike last year I have been getting a sore right leg. I didn’t tell John about any of my problems but I wondered if he could pick up on it and he did; he found that my right hip was unstable and had weakness which is causing stresses and forces through my right hip which is causing my lower leg to get stiff because of this. So I was given some hip exercises to do. I won’t go through everything but another thing they found was cadence. The reason I won’t go through everything is some of the findings made me sound like a broken man, however that’s not the case I tend to get low injuries so after talking to my physio and strength coach we only took on board a few points. Let’s face it you can’t work at millions of things at once, only a few at a time. Once we looked at the results we found that my strength work needed stuff that was already implemented in my plan and something I do not need to worry about. Any coach would only recommend to take a few points and work on them. So two key issues I have decided to work on are as follows:

Key Issues:

Structural – Acute right hip instability/weakness: right hip drop causing large stresses and forces through the right hip and compression and limitation/stiffness through the left lower back. This also causes early contact. This early contact forces rapid extension of the knee; from swing to contact and thus stresses through the hamstring due to the rapid eccentric quad movement.

Key Mechanical factors to adjust – Over stride vs heel strike: this is occurring daily due to the inability to create vertical lift without using too much energy. By strengthening the above, the over stride can be adjusted. Thus reducing contact time and lateral forces while also reducing the eccentric forces through the quads – which are the result of over striding (reducing any posterior chain weakness – injury).

This in turn will allow for less energy wastage and more performance gains.

So what will I do about this? So my right hip is a bit tight, I am going to make it looser by doing simple exercises by standing on the edge of a step with one foot off the step and moving my hip up and down while keeping all legs straight. The next thing is cadence. I know I have a long stride, so by shortening this and making sure it is shorter when I run, by bringing feet closer to hips and try to up my cadence to 190 beats per minute, I should see improved performance and the risk of injury lower.

My conclusion is that for the cost of a higher end running shoe you can benefit from this test if you can afford it. Combining science is important but also it is not always the best way. For someone that has low injuries I personally think that the amount of corrections and problems it found with my running form was a bit too much to process at one time. However if you take some of this on board you can minimise the injury risk and improve your running form. I think it’s worth it but be aware you may get a long list of problems which are not necessary problems they may just need small tweaks done to them.

Do you train with a Plan?How to structure your training around your daily life

Scheduling training around your daily life commitments can be hard for a number of reasons such as family commitments, working hours and so on. For me it is very difficult because not only do I have a full time job I have to do all my training after work and around spending time with my wife, family and friends which is very tough. So I decided to right a blog on how to structure your plan. Being a running coach and being coached myself I have lots of knowledge on making a plan.

For me I always start the day with a cup of Green Tea. Then I sit down and look at a six week plan with an easy week on the 7th week that has more rest and stripped down training. My plan is also my diary so before I schedule any training I first write down all my commitments for that 7 week period so I can work around those.

 

With any plan you don’t want to go straight into hard training so all my training starts off at my baseline and gets increased each week for three weeks, the following three weeks I just maintain my training and for the 7th week as mentioned before it’s an easy week with less reps and duration of training etc. In peak season I may change my plan to a three to four week plan, working around my races and getting plenty of recovery. So its important you get the right balance for you.

So if you are like me and you are training for a triathlon you will be putting in 3 disciplines: Running, Cycling and Swimming. I also put 2 strength sessions into a week to prevent injuries and make me stronger. For me I need to fit in the following each week:

3-4 Runs

3-4 Swims

2 Strength sessions

2-3 Bike sessions

If I am struggling to fit in a session as my day hasn’t gone to plan, then I will try and reschedule it. If your struggling to get out and train due to many reasons, if you can get out and it’s only a short session its better than nothing; but remember rest and recovery is key. Numerous research papers show that having a week off from training doesn’t do too much to your fitness but after that your fitness declines quickly.

So I take my key sessions from each area and plot them on my plan. So my key running sessions will be one of my speed sessions and one long run. This is very similar to swimming; I will have an aerobic, a speed session and drill session which will be my key sessions for that discipline. Once I have worked out my key sessions, I make sure that my hard sessions are followed up by easy sessions. I never have hard session together. Once I have done that I move on to the other sessions and plot this into the plan making sure I get one day full rest a week and two for my recovery week.

Sound easy? Well not really because you then need to figure out the session you want to do. For example, no point me putting in four easy runs if I want to get faster. Once you have the basis of the plan you can then work out what sessions you want to do to achieve your goals.

If you are planning for a marathon you will want to do longer speed reps than if you were running a 5k. For example at least two of my runs I run at 60% my heart rate max. The reason I run these is that it has been proven that running at a slower pace on your long runs increases your endurance and improves your efficiently which in time will make you faster. When running at this pace not only does it do that it teaches your body to burn fat more than carbohydrates which is a much better energy source to use. By doing these runs at this pace you also make your body recover and feel fresh the next day so you can go hard on your hard days. On the early days of my running I would go hard on my long runs and be very sore the next day, now with a slower pace my legs feel fresh the next day.

Remember that the plan may always need to change so be prepared to change things up regularly and because it’s in the plan it doesn’t necessary mean you need to do it because life does get in the way.

With any plan make sure its aimed for your ultimate goal, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle with small goals making the parts and once you put it altogether it should reach your ultimate goal. I like to set high targets and sometimes may not be able to achieve them. But having high targets makes you work towards them and train hard to get to them. So for example some of my mini goals for this year included improve swimming, improve running times, PB in certain races etc My main target was getting on the podium of the National Aquathlon Championships. So its very important to think ahead for the year and not just short term. When planning your plan make sure you have small targets, followed by one big target/goal. So if you are planning a marathon for example your training will build up to it followed by races leading up to it. That leads me on to the next part.

Whatever your goal is you need to build the plan for this. Most importantly, if it’s leading to one race you need to find races to build up and plot them in your plan and target them. There can be a number of reasons why you chose races in your plan and these can be things like building up the race distance or purely race practice and so on. Once you have done your races your pretty much ready to go and start training with your new plan.

Every session has a purpose and don’t go wasting time on junk miles etc. Make sure you know what you want to get out of every session. It might be as simple as running a mile and then next week increasing to two miles.

There is one more important aspect when thinking about you plan. Its fine to keep training and making sure you get easy and recovery weeks, but you must remember whatever target race you do, you need to taper for it so that you can peak and be the best you can be on race day.

Tapering plays lots of mind games, phantom pains, am I losing fitness etc ignore these factors and make sure you have a well-placed taper in place. For my races which are short, such as the World Aquathlon Championships, I will start bringing the following down over a course of weeks as it’s a big race for me. So for strength training the amount sets I do gets reduced over a few weeks and on race week I don’t do a strength session. Running distance comes down but the intensity stays high. So for example if I normally do 6x1k reps I might do 4 with different paces etc. Long runs come down too, I do the similar thing for the bike and swimming. I don’t taper for every race but for my important races this is what I normally do. Marathon plans etc will need a longer taper. Again you have to find what works best for you.

Once you have done your plan you need to access it regular and see if its working for you, your plan will change a lot. You also need to assess yourself with tests during your plan. My plan will include a long run at the same heart rate and place towards the end of my programme, so I can assess the data. I will do other assessments throughout to.  Anyway I hope this is helpful and if you need any help, give me a message.

 

 

STRENGTH TRAINING FOR RUNNERS – CRAIG COGGLE (PT)

I started working with Craig in October 2016 to get me in top shape ready for each season and with his help I have had successful seasons. He has written a blog for me about strength training to help others out.

So you are a runner and you want to go faster, you just need to do more running, right? To a certain point you would be correct, but what if you could increase the power that you exert into the floor to propel you along! Surely that would make you faster too?

There are many reasons for you to hit the weight rack with increased strength, increased power, injury prevention etc. etc. but let’s look at the key aspects of what you need to cover to get you moving faster:

  • Leg strength;
  • Gluteal Strength;
  • Core Stability; and
  • Explosiveness.

Using a mix of strength and ballistic/plyometric exercise will get you the results that you need.  Ballistic and plyometric exercises require a great deal of force to rapidly and repeatedly get you off the ground and reduce your foot contact time with the floor.

For a runner, strength training is important in order to increase the amount of force that the body can produce by increasing the stability of the joints, control of movement and importantly the strength of muscles.  This new found strength combined with plyometrics will make you a more powerful runner, force x speed = power.

Plyometrics is a very overused word within the training community, truly plyometric exercises would require a contact time with the floor of less than 0.2 seconds, anything more than this and the exercise would become a ballistic one.  For true speed development plyometrics would be your best route to get the firing mechanisms within the calf and Achilles to work at their full potential.  To put it basically if you pull an elastic band and fire it, it will cover a few feet, but if you pull it fully and fire it, it will travel faster for a much further distance.  This is what we are trying to achieve, so lets get a more powerful and faster you moving forwards…

The Programme –

2 sessions per week as well as your normal running training. These strength sessions will be built up of a combination of supersets and tri-sets to make your training time the most efficient possible (supersets and tri-sets is a fancy way of saying exercise’s put together without a rest)

3 sets of 8-10 reps of each sequence of exercises

Sequence 1 Sequence 2 Sequence 3
Squat Bulgarian split squats Bosu single leg balance
Ballistic Lunges Pogo (plyometric) A-Steps
Press ups (with a jump if possible) Bent over row Plank Rotation

 

Establishing the right weight would benefit you greatly but take it easy and don’t rush too much you should feel like you could perform 1 or 2 more reps at the end of every set if you feel like you could do another 10 its time to put that weight up!

The Squat is one of the most simple and best “compound” exercises for developing leg strength and core stability.  Some key aspects to performing this exercise would be to keep the core engaged, your chest lifted, upper back engaged with the bar pulled into your shoulders, and most importantly you need your hips to drop below the centre of the knee with the knees tracking over your toes. The reason for this is to protect your knees and the best hamstring and glute activation happens when you break parallel.

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With ballistic lunges be stable and be safe, slow them down really concentrating on landing and producing an upward explosive force for you to jump and change your feet.

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Press ups are great for improving upper body strength, but remember to hold that core in tight especially if you are making it ballistic. To make it ballistic you would exert a force to allow your hands to come off the floor and absorb the landing, if you wanted to get fancy you could always add a clap!

 

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The bulgarian split squat is great for single leg development, with your rear foot elevated on a bench you want to sink until your front leg achieves 90% angle at the knee by driving your back knee down towards the floor.

 

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Pogo’s are the easiest plyometric exercise to perform both feet together and flexed ,legs straight and you are looking to produce a jump by striking you forefoot off the floor with no upper leg help. If you feel like an idiot doing this o r struggle skipping would be a good alternative.

Bent over rows are great for the upper body, nice flat back parallel to the floor, soft knees and core engaged start to pull the barbell up your thighs towards your waist concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

 

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Bosu single leg balance, we are trying to increase the stability of your ankles with the bosu dome side up you will stand on top for as long as you can. If you are a balance ninja and find this really easy try moving the other leg around to challenge your balance.

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A-steps are a classic knee drive running drill to encourage an athlete to drive there knees higher whilst running and thus encouraging the cycle movement required for speed.

Plank Rotations are great for upper body strength and core stability. If you feel this in your back there is something wrong with your initial set up. I know people say you need to be straight in a plank which is true but its your skeleton that needs to be straight with a flat pelvis. Remember your bum is attached to the outside of your skeleton.

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And there it is your basic strength plan to get you running stronger and faster. For video guidance of this article please go along and have a look at my you tube channel where you will find Strength training for runners video covering everything we did in this article.

You Tube Craig ‘Coggles Fitness’ Coggle

Safe running guys!

Craig Coggle

Cogglesfitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you are a runner and you want to go faster, you just need to do more running, right? To a certain point you would be correct, but what if you could increase the power that you exert into the floor to propel you along! Surely that would make you faster too?

There are many reasons for you to hit the weight rack with increased strength, increased power, injury prevention etc. etc. but let’s look at the key aspects of what you need to cover to get you moving faster:

  • Leg strength;
  • Gluteal Strength;
  • Core Stability; and

Using a mix of strength and ballistic/plyometric exercise will get you the results that you need.  Ballistic and plyometric exercises require a great deal of force to rapidly and repeatedly get you off the ground and reduce your foot contact time with the floor.

For a runner, strength training is important in order to increase the amount of force that the body can produce by increasing the stability of the joints, control of movement and importantly the strength of muscles.  This new found strength combined with plyometrics will make you a more powerful runner, force x speed = power.

Plyometrics is a very overused word within the training community, truly plyometric exercises would require a contact time with the floor of less than 0.2 seconds, anything more than this and the exercise would become a ballistic one.  For true speed development plyometrics would be your best route to get the firing mechanisms within the calf and Achilles to work at their full potential.  To put it basically if you pull an elastic band and fire it, it will cover a few feet, but if you pull it fully and fire it, it will travel faster for a much further distance.  This is what we are trying to achieve, so lets get a more powerful and faster you moving forwards…

The Programme –

2 sessions per week as well as your normal running training. These strength sessions will be built up of a combination of supersets and tri-sets to make your training time the most efficient possible (supersets and tri-sets is a fancy way of saying exercise’s put together without a rest)

3 sets of 8-10 reps of each sequence of exercises

Sequence 1 Sequence 2 Sequence 3
Squat Bulgarian split squats Bosu single leg balance
Ballistic Lunges Pogo (plyometric) A-Steps
Press ups (with a jump if possible) Bent over row Plank Rotation

 

 

Establishing the right weight would benefit you greatly but take it easy and don’t rush too much you should feel like you could perform 1 or 2 more reps at the end of every set if you feel like you could do another 10 its time to put that weight up!

The Squat is one of the most simple and best “compound” exercises for developing leg strength and core stability.  Some key aspects to performing this exercise would be to keep the core engaged, your chest lifted, upper back engaged with the bar pulled into your shoulders, and most importantly you need your hips to drop below the centre of the knee with the knees tracking over your toes. The reason for this is to protect your knees and the best hamstring and glute activation happens when you break parallel.

 

 

 

 

With ballistic lunges be stable and be safe, slow them down really concentrating on landing and producing an upward explosive force for you to jump and change your feet.

Press ups are great for improving upper body strength, but remember to hold that core in tight especially if you are making it ballistic. To make it ballistic you would exert a force to allow your hands to come off the floor and absorb the landing, if you wanted to get fancy you could always add a clap!

 

 

 

 

 

The bulgarian split squat is great for single leg development, with your rear foot elevated on a bench you want to sink until your front leg achieves 90% angle at the knee by driving your back knee down towards the floor.

 

 

 

 

Pogo’s are the easiest plyometric exercise to perform both feet together and flexed ,legs straight and you are looking to produce a jump by striking you forefoot off the floor with no upper leg help. If you feel like an idiot doing this o r struggle skipping would be a good alternative.

Bent over rows are great for the upper body, nice flat back parallel to the floor, soft knees and core engaged start to pull the barbell up your thighs towards your waist concentrating on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bosu single leg balance, we are trying to increase the stability of your ankles with the bosu dome side up you will stand on top for as long as you can. If you are a balance ninja and find this really easy try moving the other leg around to challenge your balance.

A-steps are a classic knee drive running drill to encourage an athlete to drive there knees higher whilst running and thus encouraging the cycle movement required for speed.

Plank Rotations are great for upper body strength and core stability. If you feel this in your back there is something wrong with your initial set up. I know people say you need to be straight in a plank which is true but its your skeleton that needs to be straight with a flat pelvis. Remember your bum is attached to the outside of your skeleton.

And there it is your basic strength plan to get you running stronger and faster. For video guidance of this article please go along and have a look at my you tube channel where you will find Strength training for runners video covering everything we did in this article.

You Tube Craig ‘Coggles Fitness’ Coggle

Safe running guys!

Craig Coggle

Cogglesfitness@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

European and Season Review

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My season has come to an end and I am now having a rest period. Firstly It has been a great season – I have been on the podium 7 out of 9 Aquathlon races, 2 were race wins and a National Championships. I gained 3rd place in an sea 3k swim, 2nd in my first triathlon for nearly 6 years and in running races I broke a course record in a 5k, which I won. I also came runner up in another 5k. I was the Team Captain for both the European and World Aquathlon Championships for the GB team. I will be back at these races next year. I will be focusing more on multi-sport next year and will be racing in more triathlons too so its going to be exciting.

I want to thank everyone for all the support over the years and I have achieved so much since I started running and swimming in 2012. When I have a bad race I always look how far I have come, things like I couldn’t swim in 2012, being injured a lot, winning National and European medals since competing in Aquathlons in 2015, representing GB for my Age Group and being the team captain makes me very proud and hopefully my blogs and social media updates of my journey inspire others.

So onto the European Championships – a few days before I got the dreaded 5am flight over, so only having a few hours’ sleep and having to leave at 1.30am to get to the airport I was shattered but excited. We arrived in Ibiza at 9am and on the first day we did a lot of walking and looking at the sites with a couple of friends that came over the watch. I had to do a 40 min easy run that day, followed by a swim recce with a lot of the team as I organised it.

The following day I woke up feeling very ache, assuming because of the lack of sleep  from the previous day. However I had two rest days before the race. Race day approached and I was feeling very confident although still a bit sore and achy from a few days prior. The race was in the evening so I chilled out in the hotel room and relaxed and went through my race plan. I knew I was in the best shape I have ever been and couldn’t wait for the race. I met my friends and wife in the afternoon for lunch for 2pm. With a 6pm race start time I thought that was plenty of time. I then headed down to the race where I had to be out of transition at 4.30pm.

It was nice chatting to friends and after that I shut myself off from people and listened to music and prepared myself for the race. At 5.10pm I went for my warm-up which is very early but this was because we had to get onto a boat to the start of the swim. I did my warm-up and then the organisers were running late which meant by the time we got on the boat it was 6pm.

We headed off on the boat to the start line, everyone boarded the board and the boat started playing music very loudly which made it hard to chat to people. I liked the bit when we were getting on the boat and the Eye of the Tiger was playing.  We then jumped into the water one by one and waited for everyone to get in. The horn sounded and off we went. It was a non wet-suit swim and I pushed very hard at the start, I did get kicked in the face but hey that happens all the time in mass swims. I had a lot of space and when I came out of the sea I thought I had an ok swim but not my best as I didn’t feel tired.

I came out of transition and started to push hard on the run. The course was tight and tricky and on the zig zag bit just after transition I fell and slipped over. I felt my ankle go crack and a shooting pain, I then picked myself up quickly and carried on running with discomfort for a few minutes. I tried not to think about it and I carried on running. On lap two I was caught by a GB guy in my race and all of a sudden I picked up the pace and stuck with him until he went passed me at the last few meters. I finished 13th but later the result was changed to 14th – I assume someone had a penalty and appealed it. I didn’t think I had a great race as my time was well off and my run was not where I thought it would be. I wasn’t tired at the end of the race which was weird. But I came home in 35:46.

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So what everyone does is analyse their race and what went right or wrong. I am not going to be tough on myself or complain. It was just a long season where for me I didn’t perform to my best on the day and sometimes this is how it goes. Mentally when I fell I think that had a huge impact on my performance but these things happen. This is a learning curve and for next year I will be working on the mental aspect of my racing and the “what ifs something goes wrong”. A positive is that I finished strongly on the last mile. I will try to make sure a warm up is done closer to the race next time. I am going to maintain my running and swimming, will try to improve a little on those in the winter but the main focus will be on the bike.  I have started looking at my A races and B races so next year and it will be an even better season.

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Don’t be critical about your performances, take the positives and work with them. I will be back next year giving it my all. Now time for rest and easy training.

Believe the impossible is the possible

No matter how talented or how hard you train the key to your success is believing in yourself so you are able to achieve your goals.

Last Sunday I did my fist triathlon in nearly 6 years. I always believed the bike was the root of my injuries when I first took up running. With big injuries that kept me out of action for long periods of times and nearly giving up on running I turned my back on triathlons; but it was triathlons that got me into running.

So looking back at that it was wise of me as I was hugely put off by injuries. I believed I could stay injury free and after staying injury free for a while and gaining lots of PB’s I moved into Aquathlons where I went from strength to strength and have achieved some great things.

I decided last year to get back on the bike and try and do some triathlon’s this year and see if I would enjoy it. As a mental aspect getting back on the bike was very concerning for me because of the history of my injuries. I believed I could get through this and despite being knocked off my bike this year, I forced myself out on the bike and I was enjoying it. Sadly I was meant to do 2 triathlons this year but because of normal life commitments I can only do one triathlon.

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So I did the Channel  Sprint Triathlon on Sunday, very nervous and had no target, I just wanted to enjoy it. It was a sea race in Folkestone and it was also my first triathlon which was not in the pool. It was a very windy day and the swim got cut by 250m. The race started and I knew swimming would be fine but the waves going out were so strong it felt like I was being slammed against the floor. I was struggling to breathe and didn’t enjoy it, but once we turned around with the waves pushing you I was fine and came out of the sea in the lead. We had to run around 1k into transition, so I was able to pull away.

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I then came out of transition on the bike and was quickly overtaken by two competitors. I knew the bike would be tough and the course was super hilly but the miles flew by and I was out on my own for 9 miles until a group of competitors came riding past me drafting each other in a non drafting race. I wasn’t 100% sure about the rules but I knew I need to drop back so I stayed well back.

I came into transition in 8th place but was very happy with my bike performance. I then got onto the run and my legs felt awful. I started overtaking people and by 2.5K my legs felt fresh and I went from running a 6.10 mile to running 5.40s. I soon caught 3rd and went past him, I still didn’t expect to be this high and I managed to take 2nd place near the end.

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I was over the moon and shocked that I had placed, I wasn’t even expecting a top 20 placing. I always believed I could be strong in a triathlon if I worked at it. This has now made me want to do triathlon’s more next year so watch this space.

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Photos by Lee & Jo Robinson Photography

Busy month of races

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The past month has been a busy month race wise.

First up was on the 25th of March which was the Tri Spirits Hole park 5k challenge. I had won the race last year and I wanted to analyse my progress from the previous year and try and beat my time and the course record I set.

It was a gloomy day and I felt so tired as we had been looking after my sister’s dog for the week which took its toll with a lack of sleep. I knew I was going to struggle that morning as my heart rate was quite high. Anyway the course is a challenging off road course and this year it was very muddy; last year it was sunny and dry.

I decided to run the first mile hard and see how it went. I had a few people sticking to me at the start but then they fell back. Being muddy favours me as I love cross country and I am a strong cross country runner.  I had no one near me but I decided to still push hard, falling over in the mud in the process. I finished the race is a comfortable 1st place, and with a new course record of 20:40 and therefore beating my last time of over 40 seconds on a muddier course.  I was really happy with it and it was a huge confidence boost.

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Less than a week later it was the Folkestone 10 mile road race on Good Friday. A race I have never done before, but is flat and a fast course. I was in great shape and with Fleet Half Marathon cancelled a few weeks prior I was sure I could get a PB and push near to the sub 1 hour mark. One target I am working towards.

I started my warm up and it started to rain and it appeared the wind was quite strong against me. Some 700 people had entered this race with many using this as marathon prep.  The race started and I wanted to hold back on pace and not overdo it. I was aiming for negative splits, my first mile was 6.05, but then after that it got slower and tough against the wind. Another 4 miles battling the wind and I was nowhere near a PB. I then turned around on the 5 mile part and headed back. By this point I was over a minute away from getting a PB and the rain had got worse, I was soaked.

I then decided to try going faster the second half and with the wind with me I started at 5:50 per mile and went quicker per mile. The last mile was tough but I kept going and managed to finish in 1:00:13. I was over the moon with the time and I managed to set 5 mile and 5k PB’s on the way back.

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The next race the following week was the Basildon Aquathlon. This was my first aquathlon for the year and my preparation for the world championships was under the way. I came down with a head cold that week and I was very nervous. On race day the weather was awful which made the off road course so muddy, it was also a 400m pool swim which I don’t like as I am slower in the pool as I do not tumble turn. However I have been practising. I entered transition and because it was muddy on the course I had to wear trails. This made me really nervous as I have never worn trails in an aquathlon. The race started and I entered the pool. I felt comfortable in the swim but the last 200 metres I was struggling to breath due to having this cold. I entered transition and it was hard to get my trails, but good job I practiced before the race.

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I got on the run and felt good, although the trails were making me slide around the paths. When I got onto the grass and hills, I made-up a lot of time and was very wise to wear them. The course was muddy and it was such a hard run. I kept pushing, overtaking people.

I raced home in 2nd place; although the time was slightly slower due to the run course being wet and muddy. I was very happy, my swim was a few seconds better and I had the fastest run split. My work towards a successful world championships race has now begun.

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Next up was the Asics Fleet Half Marathon that was postponed and rearrange due to the snow a month later. I didn’t really want to do it because of the timing. My wife was running it too. The weather was a bit cold and overcast. I just wanted to beat my current PB of 1:23:20, so I started off at a slow pace for the first 3 miles. I then built into it working on getting quicker and maintaining the speed. I was running with another guy for most of it and with the tail wind we decided to swap who took the lead along the course to try and keep the wind off us. I managed to get quicker and we raced home in 1:19:29. I was over the moon as this is a target I thought was unrealistic and therefore took just under 4 minutes off my last PB and 22nd place. This was a distance I have struggled in the past. I was also very proud to see my wife finish as she struggled with an ankle and calf problem.

 

Looking back at all these races, I am able now to push harder in training and work towards a great World Championships.

 

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