European Champion!! a shock for me..

As many of you know this was my last GB race for the aquathlon team before I take some time out from this team. I competed in the 2019 Târgu Mures ETU Aquathlon European Championships on Friday 5th  of July for GB in Romania. The race consisted of a 1k swim in a lake and 5k run, with the run being four laps of 1.25km.

A few days prior to the race I developed a foot problem after one of my sessions and I was limping with pain afterwards. I was very worried about it being a big problem and that it would keep me out of the race. I tried not to think about it and rested up over the weekend prior to the race. I had a physio appointment booked in anyway the day before I went out. On the Monday I turned up to the physio expecting to be pulled out of the race, however he couldn’t find anything wrong and told me to go for my normal planned run that evening and then come back later for a scan to check no fractures to be 100% sure. So I went for a run and it was painful but didn’t get worse, I then went for a scan and it was all clear. This gave me huge confidence knowing whatever it is will not keep me out of the race. I always tend to get werid pains before big events.

Race day arrived and for some reason I was a nervous wreck before the start of the race in the morning, no idea why, maybe because of my foot pain. I got to the start line in very warm conditions and the horn went off and I started.

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I thought I struggled in the swim because the lake was warm and my arms and legs felt dead after 100 metres. I came into transition in 4th place in my age group which is very high for me and I went down the wrong row in transition and panicked as I couldn’t see my trainers, they were two rows away, I have never made this mistake before and I was thinking this was not going to be a good day but tried to keep positive. I then got on the run and ran well but was struggling towards the end, I took the lead on the 3rd lap and had the fastest run in my race and one of the fastest on the day. When the commentator announced me as the champion in my age group when I crossed the line, I was shocked and didn’t really believe it but my wife kept saying they said you won and we were so happy, I couldn’t of done it without her support over the years.

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I then had to wait pretty much the whole day until the medal ceremony which was in the evening. I lined up for the podium and when my name was called out as the Champion in my age group I was blown away but over the moon, it was a great feeling and a special moment for sure.

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A nice end for me for the team as I am moving to other challenges. When I started this journey I didn’t expect to achieve so much. I couldn’t swim in 2012 and only started running then, I hope this inspires others that if they train hard they can achieve their goals. Very shocked but over the moon about it, still can’t quite believe it. But I have to thank all my family, friends, coaches and sponsors that have supported me throughout the years as they certainly played a part in this and it was a team effort for sure.

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Thank you for all your support over the years.

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.

 

 

XK Swimzi review

 

IMG_6768I was able to try and review this product; first impressions is this looked similar to other products on the market but how wrong was I.

Firstly here is a background on how the product was developed from their site. “Back in May 2015, a team of five British swimmers plunged into 9°C shark-infested waters in an attempt to complete the treacherous 30-mile stretch from the Farallon Islands to the Bay of San Francisco, with only a swimming costume, pair of goggles and silicon hat to keep them warm. In a relay-style challenge, the swimmers were to spend a total of 30 hours on board the support craft, where their main concern was to remain warm, dry and protected from the harsh elements. Here at swimzi, it was our job to develop a high-quality product that would not only act as an impenetrable shield against the elements, but also enable the athletes to perform with maximum blood flow when it was their turn to take the plunge. By working closely with the Farallon Swimmers, and adapting key features used in sailing and mountaineering gear, swimzi have developed a piece of weatherproof kit like no other. The XK jacket has been carefully designed to protect against wind penetration whilst keeping essential body heat locked in: allowing you to perform at your best… whatever your sport, wherever you are in the world.”

On to the review, firstly the material on the outside is waterproof, therefor keeping you dry which is a no brainer. The inner lining is made from super soft-warm handle Sherpa fleece. Now this is an important feature, unlike its rivals this product is designed to keep you warm after your warm up and retain your body heat so that you are able to start your race still warm. I was able to compare it with others on the market and this did what the others didn’t do. So I put this to the test, I did my normal warm up before one of my aquathlon races and put the XK on straight after my warm up. I had to wait a bit and it kept me warm before the race. I found I was able to hit the swim better than not using the Swimzi.

The product comes with a 2 way zip system which is very useful which allows you to zip up the hood to stop wind chill. What I liked about the Swimzi was that it felt much lighter than its rivals and it was thinner so therefore not as bulky and easy to carry round.

Another feature is that you can easily get changed inside it, you might think that its too loose but the cords allow you to tighten the jacket.

My conclusion is that this is a great product and in my opinion the best on the market. It is designed for swimmers by swimmers purely to keep you warm after your warm up, unlike others. Its light and gives you the ease of movement. So I highly recommend this product. The photo is me using it at the National Championships and is now an essential part of my kit.

Check out more info on the XK Swimzi Here

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Naked Runner Sol Invictus Range Review

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I got to try out the new Naked Runner sunglasses the Sol Invictus range, where Naked have kindly allowed me to test and try out, so here is my review.

They come in a nice box and with a glass pouch. However I was a little disappointing the glasses didn’t come with a hard case. I am a big fan of hard cases but its not a problem and of course I am reviewing the glasses not a case.

First impressions that they were a little bulky but I like that, where they only weigh 5 grams. So this makes them feel really light. The next thing I notice were the nose pads. I have problems with sunglasses as I find that a lot of sunglasses do not fit me right or they just look wonky on me. The nose pads are adjustable, which allows them to move and adjust so they become a perfect fit on your nose. This makes them a perfect fit for me.

With the glasses being bulky I felt they made them very robust and not only did they feel great, they felt great on. I tested these on my speed sessions and my long runs which was to a max of 14 miles and I had no problems at all. In the past I had glasses start to hurt my head and dig in but I didn’t have this problem with these. I do believe these glasses will last a long time.

Next looking at the overall design and the design does make them look pretty cool while wearing them. You can also put your own prescription lenses on them too as this is a new feature that allows you to do this. Which I think is a very important feature and I am sure there is a high demand for this.

Another feature I notice when looking at their website is that the frames come in 5 different colours and there is 9 different lens shades which Is good if you like to make your own choice and not stick to a standard pair.

My only suggestion would be if you do use these for very long runs it might be better to have a rubber option around the ears. Overall I am pretty happy with these sunglasses and I think they are worth the investment.

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Very proud to competing for GB again this year!

Quite a few people in recent weeks have been asking me if I am competing for GB again this year so I thought its time to write a blog about this as it has been a while since my last. Firstly thank you for the support over the recent years and I am proud to announce that after a fantastic season last year and finishing 6th at the World Championships in my age group last summer in Penticton (Canada), I therefore have gained qualification to the World and European Aquathlon Championships and I will be competing in those races this year. Just in case you don’t know what an Aquathlon is, it is like a Triathlon but without the bike part. Normally consists of a 1000 metre swim, followed by a 5k run.

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I am honoured and very privileged to be able to represent GB the past few years and again this year. I am very proud of my achievements in just a few years which as seen a European medal and two National medals. I am very much excited and looking forward to competing again. Working for NHS has allowed me to train well due to the flexi time, where I am able to train after work something I am very grateful of.

I started increasing my training since start of the year, it is hard work balancing training around work and trying to make sure I get some time to enjoy other things etc. A few of you have asked what kind of training I do, so here is a bit of an insight into my training. Straight after work I start my training around 4.45pm and I am normally home around 7.30pm most evenings, I prefer to have Saturday off training normally so I can do things with my wife and family. So my training for a typical week consists of the following 2 Strength training sessions in the gym, 4 runs a week, with around 30-40 miles per week. 4 swim sessions a week and a normal session consists of around 3500 metres and a bike session with at least one full days rest per week, sometimes two. Its pretty hard to maintain it and keep it up, cant wait for October as I will take a full month off.

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I do believe that you don’t have to be talented but working hard and being determined will pay off. Listening to your body is vital so if you get any niggles I then I back off. I always like reading peoples backgrounds and how they have got into running etc. I know a few in the Trust have taken running up in recent months which is inspiring as we all have to start somewhere. I only started running in 2012 as I was inspired by the London Olympics with no real background to sport and took up swimming just over 6 years ago and looking back now I couldn’t swim so if you are taking up sport, keep at it as you will get the benefits in years to come. I took up running to keep fit but nowadays I think its more because I like food too much. If anyone is looking for advice with their training, just drop me an email. I am always happy to help.

Anyway the countdown begins and first stop is the World Championships.  The World Championships this year is in Denmark in a place called Middlefart in July. So my training prep is all tailored for this event at the moment. I am hoping to target the top 10 this year and if I can place higher even better, but most importantly I just do it as I enjoy it and love the experience. I then will be competing at the National Championships in Peterborough which is only 10 days later. This does not give me much time to recover and training wont be ideal as I will only be back in the country for a few days before. In regards on targets for this race, 2016 was a Bronze medal, 2017 was a Silver medal so maybe there is a trend….I will try and target the podium again. If I did get another medal I would be over the moon. After the Nationals I have the European Aquathlon Championships in Ibiza which is at the end of October. Which is quite late and means it’s a long season ahead, but I have decided after this to take some time off all exercise for a few weeks to a month and decide if I want to continue this journey.  Anyway my target for this race will be to try and get into the top 10 in this race.

What I have learnt over the years is that experience in any race/training session is so important. I do get very nervous when these races come up and I get phantom pains/niggles, but I have learnt to keep a positive mind and try to relax. I do get very excited when these races come up and I like meeting athletes and sharing stories from different places around the world. But remind myself that this is just a hobby.

 

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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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World Championships 2017

 

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I headed off to the World Championships in Penticton (Canada) on the 22nd of August. This would be my 2nd World Championships and I was very excited, I was in great form as the previous weekend I won the London Aquathlon whilst taking it easy. A race that I always wanted to do because it was in the 2012 Olympic Pool. I started the race as well as racing in the race. This season has had its up and downs, but has been a great one.

 

So I got to Vancouver on the 22nd and the following morning I headed off to Penticton which is a four hour drive with my wife and two friends. When I arrived there I only had time to check in the hotel and head off to the registration tent, where I was meeting some more GB athletes for a run and swim reccie. This is something I set up for the team as I was selected as the Aquathlon Team Captain for GB for the World Championships. This is a huge honour and I was very privileged. This role included getting the team together for runs and swims, meeting up, meals and activities and helping with queries so that the Team Managers didn’t have much work to do as they were busy going to meetings etc. I really enjoyed it and it was fun, plus I got to meet other athletes.

When I was doing the swim reccie I soon realised that about 150 metres worth of the swim in the lake was not deep. I saw people practising Dolphin starts, so I practiced a few but I had never done them before. That night I struggled to sleep and jet lag got to me big time, I hardly slept and was so tired and felt ill. I was worried about it as the race was the next morning. I contacted Gobinder and he said control the controllable which I did and I stayed relaxed. I relaxed in the hotel until lunch time until I went and met my wife and friends before the Team Meeting.  I just watched TV and talked to some Australian and New Zealand athletes that were staying in our hotel.

 

Race day came and I was very calm, I had a target of top 15 but decided to go for top 10 as I was in great form. I had a good night sleep and felt better, although still tired I couldn’t wait to get started. Before the race I listened to music before I entered transition and put my kit down in my box. It was a wetsuit swim and was a little chilly in the morning as it was 6am and the race started at 7.20am.

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The swim started on the beach and as soon as the horn started everyone was running into the water. I tried to swim normally but because it was shallow, most athletes where doing Dolphin starts and I was getting hit everywhere. I tried to do a Dolphin start, as I couldn’t run as the water was a bit deep for that. I panicked and found myself near the back before I could start swimming properly. I was out of breath and struggling as I was not used to this. I soon got into my rhythm and started to go past athletes. I felt like I was getting quicker and stronger towards the end of the swim.

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I then got into transition and realised I was with athletes that I am normally ahead of. I started the run and went off hard but I  soon realised I was well down the pack. I had to stay focussed and I started pushing and after the first lap (2.5km) I overtook athletes and ones that I am normally in front of.

I then got a stitch which was painful and I couldn’t shift it but carried on pushing. I came across the finish line and grabbed the GB flag from my wife as I didn’t have anyone to chase or behind me and I walked across the line holding the GB flag. I finished in 36:48 and 6th in my Age Group in the world. An amazing achievement for me and beating my target. The run was slightly longer then 5k but enjoyed every second of it. I was 3rd Brit home in my Age Category. Fellow team mates Shaun Challis and Andy Cockerell were 3rd and 4th. Amazing efforts from them and the whole team, well done.

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I was over the moon and buzzing from this result and as a result I have re-qualified for the World Championships in Denmark next year. Every race is a learning curve and I have learnt a lot here. I need to improve my swim and learn Dolphin starts, which my new swimming Coaches will help me to do. I am very happy about the result because I am 6th in the World in my Age Group, hard work pays off.

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I would like to thank my amazing wife Melanie Christodoulou, who puts up with my training and supports me at every race, without her support even with hard times, injuries and setbacks it would not be possible and to all my family and friends.

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Thank you to all my sponsors, because without them it would be hard to get to races like this and my team for getting me into the best shape I can be.

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Your support this season has been great and thank you very much as I could not of done this with out you and your support. Which has included 7 podiums out of 9 races in Aquathlons. One of which was a win but I also had wins in swimming races, 5k’s and being selected by British Triathlon as the GB Age Group team captain for the world championships. I am still learning in this sport and next season will be even better. Looking forward to new challenges next season and taking up a new sport.