Warm-ups – do you do them & why they are important

Lots of people do not do warm ups before their sessions so I wrote a short blog.

A warm up can be defined as a period or act of preparation for a performance or exercise session, involving gentle exercise or practice. This is also known as the pre-match warm up.

With anything in sport if you don’t warm up the muscles you will get injured; you need to get your body loosened up ready to go. Thousands of people every Saturday turn up to parkrun and stand there waiting for it to start and then fun hard with no warm up, this can bring on injuries. I do wonder how many people get injured from this as a result from going from one extreme to another. The younger runners are the worst and think they don’t need to do this. No warm up is just going to end in disaster purely because your body is going from being cold to trying to get it to work at its max.

Warm ups don’t have to be complex and can be easy. Ii warm up for every session and before my races. On speed sessions and race day I do a structured 9 minute warm up.  For example my running warm up is 3 minutes at an easy pace and a certain heart rate zone, I then ramp it up for the next 3 minutes which is my 60-70% heart max and for the final 3 minutes I go 90% heart rate max and this gets me ready to race and works all the energy systems. Since doing this warm up I have gone into sessions and races hitting my target times.

A warm up doesn’t need to be complex it can start off with a brisk walk for something like 3 minutes. This is ideal as it is low intensity and eases you into it and then you can pick the pace up. Adding strides helps the blood flow more and activates your fast-twitch muscle fibres. I would also throw in some dynamic stretches such as squats.

Once you have done a warm up you are ready to go. You have to experiment and see what works best for you. I do hear quite often that runners say it takes them a few miles to get going; but these same people haven’t done a warm up. I think you need to make sure you hit your energy systems so you are ready to perform your best. No point turning up to a race saying it took me two miles to get going and missed out on a PB/medal etc. It’s important you give your body a little taster of what you are going to expect.

Some things I see before races is people stand at the start lines cold and stretching but doing static stretches. This is also a chance for a disaster to pull a muscle. There’s tons of stuff on the internet so see what drills, dynamic stretches and warm up you would like to do and have a go. But remember warm up is key to get you ready and going.

I also took part in a research study on the benefits of a well-structured warm up and if you can improve from this. I did this last year with Hannah from the Kent University sports department and found that it improved me. Now I mentioned earlier about my 9 minute warm up and this is where I got my warm up from. Before I used to just run an easy mile which didn’t do me any benefit at all. So the science behind this study was to get me running my speed sessions and races faster as I was fully warmed up and my body was ready to go race pace.

So this study included me doing this warm up twice a week. I used it on my weekly speed sessions and races throughout a three month period. Each month I had to perform my warm up as planned on a track with Hannah, so 3 minutes easy, 3 minutes long run heart rate and 3 minutes race pace. She then took blood samples every 3 minutes to see how my body was reacting. I then had short breaks where I did other samples and went back out on the track and ran 12 minutes as hard as I could without looking at my watch. So quite hard to pace if you are not used to not using your watch. The first test of the study covered 3,040 metres, which I was a little disappointed with because I thought I would be covering more distance. However, every month after that I had improved by the last test and had run 400m more in total. A huge improvement, so it shows that you can improve with just a structured warm up before your races and training. The point of this was to get you fully warmed up and ready for your session/race therefore in theory able to run faster/harder instead of taking a while to warm up.


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Swim, Bike, Run with Yiannis… Blog which featured on the Dry Website

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We asked Dry Bag ambassador Yiannis Christodoulou to keep us up to date with his movements this winter in preparation for a busy 2018 season. Be sure to follow him on social media to keep up with his interesting antics @yiannis.christodoulou

I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2018 season has in store, winter training is in full swing I am starting to prepare for my first Aquathlon race of the year

It still seems quite a long way away until the 2018 World Aquathlon Championships in July, race specific build up starts in April and the season will come to a close with the ETU Ibiza European Aquathlon Championships in October, my main goals are to get near or on the podium for all my races this season. With a long season ahead, my winter schedule has focused on strength and conditioning as well a lot of technique training. As is inevitable, I was hit by a nasty winter cold and a minor injury which dented my training a little.

So, what have I been doing this winter? Firstly, I got back on my bike for the first time in nearly four years, I set up my indoor turbo trainer and started working a little on the bike in order to train and compete in triathlons this season. I will enjoy these races as part of my training schedule with no pressure and will use them to cover the gap between the World and European Championships – it will be a bit of fun and something new to help keep my training fresh.

Every training session is like a jigsaw puzzle, where you put the different parts together slowly to complete the puzzle. Triathlon specific drills I have been working on in the gym are squats for strength, jumping lunges for fast muscle twitches and pull ups for core / upper body strength. Strength and conditioning work will make you stronger and prevent injuries, it can also make you faster, which a lot of people don’t realise.

I have been dedicating a lot of time to strength and conditioning, working alongside my coach Craig Coggle, we’ve steadily been building up the weights and reps. My main focus is my running, as this was an area I knew I could make gains on over the winter. I focussed on the cross-country season, where I also got a chance to use my Dry Bag putting in my wet and muddy kit from the race (I’m not kidding – swimming was involved in some races!). I am chuffed with my cross-country season, finishing 11th overall in the league which is an improvement of 5 places from last year. Good vibes all round.

Realising the benefits of a strength coach, with the support of The Dry Bag I also started working with swim coach John Wood. I was buzzing to try something new and his coaching style is completely different to anything I have done before. I don’t come from a swimming background so have always struggled to pull together structured training programmes in this discipline. Since working with John I am really enjoying swimming, every session is different and I am starting to see good progress in my times. Swimming is an area I must improve so that I can achieve my goals and get near that podium this year. I swim four times a week and the intensity has increased, being part of a swimming club forms one of my sessions, they’re a great bunch of people and it makes training enjoyable and varied.

I cannot wait to see how the extra swim training and strength sessions improve my performances in 2018. Hard work pays off and keeping your training fresh is important. Follow me on Instagram to follow my progress this year: @yiannis.christodoulou

DryBag website

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What can we learn from our Heart Rate max and V02 max

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I wrote blogs a while ago regarding Heart Rate training and V02 Max since I have had many questions in recent weeks regarding this – I am revisiting these blogs but also adding what I have learnt from the two years since I wrote these blogs.

For most runners they are under the impression that they should run full speed at all times because that will make them go faster and running at a slower pace will slow you down. Well this is not the case; why not try heart rate running. It is very simple and all you need is a running watch and a heart rate monitor and run at a much slower pace and see the benefits.

So what is Heart Rate Running? Well the key is to find out your maximum heart rate while running. This can be done by a VO2 test in a lab or by running for ten minutes as fast as you can with a heart rate monitor and then take the max from there. Most universities do this at a cost but also some do this free as part of student studies. It sounds tough to run as fast as you can for 10 minutes; well it is but the key is to find your heart rate max as you need to determine your personal heart rate zones and not what your watch pre-set zones are. You can also figure this out from the old method which is 220 minus your age. However this is not accurate for some people and this is the case for me. For example when I use that method it says my Heart Rate max is 186 however when I had a V02 Lab test, mine came out as 179. Quite a bit of a difference so be aware of this.

So what’s next once you have your heart rate max?  Heart rate running is very good and if you find your 60% to 70% of your heart rate max you can be improving at a faster rate than just speed training alone. Of course you need to do your speed sessions but you shouldn’t be running as fast as you can every session.

Long runs at 60% to 70% of your heart rate max can make a huge benefit by teaching your body to not burn carbs and burn fat to make you more efficient. This therefore can make you quicker. The past two years I spent most of my training doing these long heart rate runs that have proved to work. At the same time by making you more efficient it will improve your running economy, which I will mention shortly. I was part of a study a few years ago in seeing how people can improve from running at a slower pace and improving your running economy. I was told I was over training; my long runs at the time would be to run 13 miles every Saturday morning at 6.30 pace. My legs used to take a best part of three days to recover. I started my heart rate training and was concerned my pace was over 8 minutes per mile and going up hills I felt like I was walking. I was told to stick at it and just follow my heart rate zones. Well since then I have improved a lot and over longer distances and my pace can be well under 7 minutes in my long runs. I have also managed to take 6 minutes off my 10 miler time.

What is running economy? Running economy (RE) is typically defined as the energy demand for a given velocity of submaximal running, and is determined by measuring the steady-state consumption of oxygen (VO2) and the respiratory exchange ratio. I will talk about V02 Max later.

A lot of marathon runners use this because instead of pounding away for 13 miles on a long run, they can go longer at an easy pace and won’t feel tired the following day. The key is to train at less intensity on a long run which will teach you to burn fat but also make you recover quicker. Many people struggle with the pace because it is a lot slower than they normally run and if you run up hill you need to run slower in order to keep the heart rate down. Of course it is a must to keep the speed sessions up but by just slowing your speed down a little on a long run it can be a huge benefit. As mentioned briefly earlier I used to do a 13 mile run every Saturday at race pace which of course felt good but took me a few days to recover and my Half Marathon time wasn’t any better. Once I had changed my training and ran at 60% I found that if I wanted to do another long run the next day I could because the body felt fine and improved.

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So my advice would be to try it for 6 weeks and see how it goes, if you don’t react to the training then at least you tried something new. But how should you train for HR? Well a simply guide can be by the distance or time in your run to be increased slightly for a three week period, with each week increasing. Then maintain the third week distance/time for a further 3 weeks and see if you have improved in a race. Let me know your thoughts and progress as I am interested to see if you get any improvement.

Let’s look at V02 max now. In March 2015 I was approached by Phil Anthony from Christ Church University sports lab to be part of his research and test subject.  I jumped at the chance as Phil is an amazing runner and ran London in 02:16 and was a national Ultra Champion. I wasn’t sure if it would work and benefit me so I decided to try as there was nothing to lose.

What is V02? Research shows that successful performance in endurance running is closely related to the level of aerobic metabolism that a runner is able to sustain throughout a race. This directly impacts on the runner’s ability to maintain their speed throughout the duration of a race. Aerobic metabolism refers to the body’s ability to convert oxygen, delivered to the working muscles, to usable energy. The maximal point at which each athlete is able to achieve this is referred to as their maximal oxygen uptake or their O2max.

The test consisted of a ramp test where you run on a treadmill in stages of four minutes with each stage going up a level in speed until you need to stop. The second test was a 5k time trial on the treadmill after running at 16kmph for 10 minutes.  The third test was that I had to run my long run on another day which was 1 hour and 30 minutes at 70% heart rate.

After this I was sent away for 6 weeks where I had to increase one long run by 6 minutes for 3 weeks and the other long run by 9 minutes for 3 weeks and then maintain it for a further 6 weeks. This was related to the heart rate training, mentioned earlier.  I then went back into the lab and preformed the 3 tests like before. I was given my results and this showed my V02 max had gone down so I could struggle a bit in my runs but my running economy had improved hugely and something I needed to work on more.

A common method for assessing an athlete’s running economy is to look at the volume of Oxygen (O2) in a lab they are able to consume at a speed of 16kmh-1 on the treadmill. The average O2 in well trained runners at this speed is ~52ml•kg-1•min-1.  However, as an individual athlete’s running economy can differ according to their speed, and 16km•h-1  can be too fast for many athletes, it can be better to assess RE in terms of distance covered ml•kg-1•km-1.  The average RE for well-trained runners, when expressed in this form, would be ~200ml•kg-1•km-1.  Table below provides normative data for well-trained runners.

Running Economy ml•kg-1•km-1
170-180 ml•kg-1•km-1 Excellent
180-190 ml•kg-1•km-1 Very good
190-200 ml•kg-1•km-1 Above average
200-210 ml•kg-1•km-1 Below average
210-220 ml•kg-1•km-1 Needs improvement

 

So mine had improved but was still poor so I was told to work on easy long runs at 70% heart rate through the winter. This was to purely make me more efficient and burn fat instead of carbs. I found I enjoyed the winter months as the training was easy and in a space of a year I had managed 15 PB in all different types of disciplines.

However I was asked to go back in August 2016 while I was preparing for the World Aquathlon Age Group Championships. Since I originally had the first test in 2015 I improved so much and this helped me qualify for the GB Age Group Aquathlon team where in 2016 I won a European and National Age Group Bronze medal, so I was pretty much looking forward to this test.  This time this test was for the difference between running indoors and outdoors. This test consisted of a Ramp test on the treadmill, 5K time trial after running 15kmph for 10 minutes on the treadmill then I had to do this on the track.

So what did I learn this time? That running on a treadmill was quicker as I was 20 seconds quicker on the treadmill. Does that help me? Probably not but the data I got from it does. I was told my V02 max was a lot higher than last year because I was purely training for 5k’s, however my running economy was still poor but much much better than last year. So looking at the data the short running reps help for 5k’s but the longer distances help for the longer races.

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Did I find the data useful and did I improve? Well I did, at first I didn’t think this would work but now I have the science behind me I can move my training forward. The first test last year did work hugely so I took this data into the winter of last year. I changed my training and worked on longer runs and long V02 max sessions such as mile reps and 1k reps. I found it worked wonders and I saw my race pace improve and my training over the past year and this produced me an Age Group Silver medal at the National Aquathlon Championships, 6th at the World Championships and 8 podiums in Aquathlons.

My conclusion is that Heart Rate running worked for me and still works; I am able to run longer and further and I do not feel as tired the next day, in fact I can still run a hard session the following day. It has also helped me keep injuries away and not getting as many injuries as the years before. I am still improving from this and I use different zones for different sessions that have been hugely important in my training and races. I definitely recommend giving it a try. V02 max is also important and I use this to work at it on my sessions as you can improve it slightly from V02 Max sessions. I have taken all this data and changed my training up and it is has improved me hugely and it can for you. I have learnt not to run too fast and how to train in zones, which is key and you can see the benefits. I like the science about running and if you want to improve you need to use the science.

A 10 mile road race in and around Canterbury organised by Invicta East Kent AC and sponsored by Ssangyong

Hever Castle Aquathlon Challenge

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review of Asics Gel-Hyper Tri 3

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 

Givaudan Ashford 10k running with a different experience

img_5255As some of you may be aware I am currently nursing an Achilles injury.  I had signed up a few months ago to 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 minor 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.

It was the 30 year anniversary of this race with record numbers; this is the biggest 10k in Kent and attracts around one thousand runners. I do recommend this race as it is all on closed roads and you get a nice finish inside the Julia Rose Stadium.

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 decided to wear my GB tracksuit to the race and make use of it. I did feel a little uncomfortable when I first got there as quite a few people were staring and pointing at me. I also found it weird turning up to a race at the Julia Rose Stadium because that is where I train on a weekly basis after work.

So I warmed up on with a couple of Harriers and I knew that it would be a different experience running a race at a much slower pace. It was chucking it down, so I stood at the start line with my wife and when it was time to start I let my wife go in front and I tucked in just behind her as I didn’t want to put her off.  Due to where I was running I heard lots of people talking to themselves. For example one lady stressed she had gone out too fast to herself. I suddenly found myself in the way of other runners so I moved to the right to allow people to pass me. I let my wife run the first mile without any advice and after one mile I started to tell her what to do and what pace to stick to.  It was nice to see lots of runners I knew and this time I was able to cheer them on.

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The rain kept coming down and I was freezing; I thanked some of the marshals on the route. I was still tempted to run fast and it was just a weird feeling to be where I was but it was also fun. At certain parts of the course I was helping my wife by encouraging and telling her what to do; when we came up to inclines I would say to her attack the hill you can recover in the down hill section. When we came down to the last 400m I said to her its up to you what you want to do and she sprinted for 200m then eased off then sprinted again the last 100m, overtaking people at the end. I know she likes a sprint!  Well she left me behind in the sprint and she finished in 47:22, taking a huge chunk off her last PB in May 2016. I was very proud and happy for her, I really enjoyed running a race with a different point of view.

As featured on Triradar.com Yiannis Christodoulou Represents Team GB After Olympic Inspiration

Yiannis Christodoulou Represents Team GB After Olympic Inspiration

This year has been an amazing journey; my first year competing at a national and international level in Aquathlons. It all started back in June at the National Aquathlon Championships where I took home a bronze medal and two weeks later at the European Aquathlon Championships I came home with another bronze medal, this time during my debut competing for Great Britain. This led me to compete in the ITU World Aquathlon Championship in Mexico.

What inspired me to do this? Well it started four years ago, just after the 2012 London Olympic Games. I started swimming to keep fit and was a very slow swimmer with poor technique; I hadn’t run since my school days and just wanted to keep fit. Inspired by the Olympic Games, I joined my local running club, the Canterbury Harriers.

y3I slowly improved but started to get a lot of injuries.  The following summer, inspired by the Brownlee brothers, I entered a local Triathlon. Unfortunately this didn’t end well as I sustained a bad calf strain and had to jog back to the finish. I was out of action for 7 months on and off and nearly gave up running. By the time the following summer however, I had regained fitness and competed my 2nd triathlon. Sadly a few weeks later I had an Achilles injury and was out for another 3 months.

I remained positive and watched a lot of triathlon on the TV. Feeling inspired by this, I decided I wouldn’t quit and I kept trying to be the best I could be. The following year I decided to try Aquathlons and I finished 5th in my first race with 3 GB athletes in the top 5. That spurred me on and three months later I had taken minutes off my time which meant I had qualified to represent Great Britain. My greatest memory is the sprint home, 800m from the finish to pass two athletes and take home the bronze medal from the European race.

y2This spurred me on this season and I have achieved success I didn’t think was possible as I approach my mid-thirties. Looking back over the last four years, I am proud of what I have achieved with hard work and dedication. Of course, I wish I had taken up swimming and running much earlier, but it is never too late!

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