Vorgee Vortech & Stealth MKII Goggles review


It is important to get the right goggles to use and there are so many factors that you need to consider before purchasing a pair such as: are they suitable for outdoor swimming and races?  Vorgee kindly sent me some pairs to test and review. A little bit of background to the company, Vorgee is an Australian owned company which was established in 2005. By providing products from beginners to competitive swimmers. So being an Australian company and Australia having a track record of outstanding swimmers I was very interested in testing their products. I got to test the Vorgee Vortech and Stealth MkII swimming goggles so onto my review.

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Vorgee Vortech swimming goggles were the first up to test and below are some quick features:

• Soft frame unibody for added comfort and a softer fit
• Soft but firm gasket to hold correct position away from the face
• Ultra vision lens – a curved lens which offers greater clarity and wide high grade silicone dual band to ensure correct strap positioning and fit
• Anti fog injection
• UVA and UVB protection
• Exclusively endorsed by Swim Australia

First impressions were that they looked good but I thought the grey clips on the side looked a bit cheap. I think it was because the colour makes it look slightly cheap plastic. However I am not too worried about that but it could be something to change in the future. They don’t look flashy; I like goggles to have tinted lenses but that is my preference. However this type of goggle is bulky and this is what I like in goggles and are the type I use in races and outdoor swimming. I found it was a perfect fit and the grey levers are easy to do up and tighten up. I am also a big fan of this type of rubber strap and design. It is very light; this is due to the ultralight gasket and frame to provide less pressure around the face and for comfort.

I tested these in the pool and open water; no leaks whilst swimming so that’s a win win, they felt very comfortable and no problems of them feeling too tight or leaving marks on my face. What I was impressed by was that wherever I was swimming the goggles did not fog up. They were clear and did the job.

My conclusion is that although they look like normal swimming goggles, a few minor upgrades to the looks (so that the grey levers don’t look too cheap) and having tinted lenses would make the goggle stand out hugely. I think these are great goggles; they are comfy and do not fog up. They are at a good retail price with some retailers pricing them under £16. I would take “great goggles” anytime over “flashy goggles”.

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So on to Stealth MkII review; first impressions were that they looked very flashy. I liked the colour and design, they stand out and this is what I like. But did they do the job? Vorgee have designed this as ultralight low resistance racing goggles. I don’t race with these types of goggles as I like my race goggles bulky because most of my races are open water. But that is a personal preference. Below are the key features of the Stealth MKII:

• Race goggles
• Curved silver mirror lens for an increased wide angle vision of up to 140°
• 3D seal design
• High grade silicone, dual band strap with Quick Fit Strap Adjustment
• Anti-fog coating for enhanced visual clarity
• 4 interchangeable nose bridges
• UVA and UVB Protection

When using them they felt very comfy and light. However I had a problem with the dual band straps; I struggled to do them up and get them in the right place and Ii was not overly keen on them. I preferred the other type of goggle straps but these types of straps were very robust and a low chance of the straps snapping. They did not fog up and they were very clear. However when swimming open water I sometimes got a little leak but once I did them up they were fine; I don’t think I did them up right.

My conclusion is that they are not goggles for me purely for the strap reason; I can never get that right. Nevertheless they were comfy and looked flash. They are great pool goggles but not so sure about using them outside. I like the colour design and maybe a recommendation is that in the future they do a different strap design. So overall I really like the Vortech the best; they felt great and did the job.

Importance of Wetsuit Storage

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So I have been testing the DRY bag out for the past few months and you can read my previous blog about wetsuit protection HERE. It’s a quiet period of time for me in terms of swimming outside as my season is over for the winter. However I now know this is the important part for my wetsuit life and its storage over my off season period.

Firstly I revisit one of the 3 key areas mentioned in my previous blog (Storage)

Storage: Store your wetsuit in a ventilated environment and avoid using ordinary hangers which put stress on the shoulders of your wetsuit and will lead to it stretching over time. The Dry Bag lets you hang your wetsuit in a wardrobe whilst avoiding getting l’odeur neoprene on all your clothes. The Dry Hanger takes 25kg in drop weight and the arm of the hanger has been specially designed so you can fold your wetsuit in half and easily store it in the recommended way. The design of the hanger means you can also fit up to 2 wetsuit on the hanger – be efficient and store all your wetsuits in one place.

Since my last blog on this matter when I washed my wetsuit and put it in The Dry Bag for drying, I have used the bag not only for my wetsuit but to carry my wet cross-country clothes after my race which has proved very useful. Not only does it allow my soggy clothes to dry on the way home it prevents mess all over the car and bag allows me to transport dirty clothes home without ruining my running bags. Give it a try….

However let’s get back to the sole purpose of this blog – wetsuit storage.  What I have found so useful (and unexpected) is that it is like a suit bag in that I can hang my wetsuit up in my wardrobe like my suits and it is now stored away for safe keeping and protecting.

This is great for protecting as before I would leave it in my car or in a bag squashed up, damp and smelly. So when the season comes along all I need to do is go straight to my wardrobe and my wetsuit is hanging and ready to go which will make it easier to grab when in a rush for the first race day of the season.

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Wetsuit Care

Taking care of your wetsuit is crucial if you want to keep your new expensive wetsuit feeling new for as long as possible. Meticulous maintenance will not only increase the life of your wetsuit, but will also keep it looking and feeling fresh for a whole lot longer!

The following care and maintenance tips are intended to provide general information on how, by taking a few minutes of extra TLC, you can increase the lifespan of your wetsuit.

  1. Slow down when taking your suit off.

When removing your wetsuit, first unzip all the zippers completely. Then remove one section at a time taking care to avoid puncturing any of the skin surface panels with a fingernail. Trying to quicken the process by grabbing at rubber won’t do the neoprene any favours. Take your time!

  1. Rinse in fresh water

Rinse your wetsuit inside and out with clean fresh water each time you use it, even if you’re planning a second session. Salt will destroy your suit faster than everything but direct sunlight. Take the time to do this and thank us later!

  1. Wetsuit shampoo

No matter how thoroughly you rinse your wetsuit, you’re going to miss some spots. Use wetsuit shampoo occasionally to help clean away salt which collects in crevices which will damage the neoprene overtime.

  1. Hang to dry

There are plenty of ways to damage a wetsuit when drying which include draping over balconies and garden fences. One of the best ways to maximize air circulation and complete drying is to hang your wetsuit inside-out, folded at the waist and in a Dry Bag.  The wide armed hanger keeps stress off the neoprene and will protect your wetsuit prolonging its performance. This tip should also be applied to Drysuits too.

  1. Silicone spray lube

If your wetsuit has a gouge, there are liquid fillers available for repair. These fillers are normally called liquid silicon or liquid rubber. Fill up the gouge with the liquid filler and let it dry completely before getting the wetsuit wet again.

Wetsuit Care

Taking proper care of your wetsuit has become more important because to put it simply, a good wetsuit is expensive. By following our care and maintenance tips your expensive new wetsuit should last a couple of seasons longer!

 

Check out DRY HERE

 

 

 

2016 Season review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After gaining this massive achievement and bronze medal, I had a few weeks left for the European’s. I decided to just try my best and enjoy the whole experience. The week leading up to France I came down with a bad cold and was unable to train for the whole week. I was advised to rest although feeling ill I packed my stuff and arrived in France the day before the race. It was very warm and we had a long journey from Paris to Chateauroux which made me feel quite ill again. Once there I had this buzz and felt much better. The next day was the race day and although I was feeling slightly better I was very relaxed about the race. The time came to start the race and we were told prior no wetsuits allowed as the lake was 26 degrees. The swim was 1,000 metres so a bit further than my normal races. We started with a large crowd watching and at the 500m point we had to get out and run back in, I noticed I had a large group in front of me, so I pushed hard to get close to them. Once I came out of transition I then started my run and just went for it. I was picking people off throughout the run and I then saw two guys in my Age Group in front of me at the last 400 metres, I somehow found something extra and sprinted passed them to take 3rd on the line. Another Bronze medal and another achievement I never thought would happen. I was over the moon and something to tell my children in the future; my  wife shed some tears and she was very proud of me. She comes to every race with me and has been there from the start since I took up Aquathlons and has been very supportive. Read full report HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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V02 Testing – Is it worth it and can you benefit from it?

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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 a few years ago and was a national Ultra champion. I wasn’t sure if it would work and benefit me so I decided to try.

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.  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 could struggle a bit in my runs but my running economy had improved hugely and something I needed to work on more. So what is Running Economy?

A common method for assessing an athlete’s running economy is to look at the volume of oxygen ( O2) they are able to consume at a speed of 16km h-1. 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.

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.

So I was asked to go back in August this year for another test but this time a test 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 treadmill then I had to do this on the track.

So what did I learn this time? That running on a treadmill is 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 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. As I have decided not to do a marathon next year I will be focusing on speed in the winter but also targeting my running economy.

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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 and now it’s time to put the August test in practice.

The next journey begins now. Goals for the cold winter months!

After a very successful Aquathlon year and being able to represent GB twice which was a huge honour, I have not been able to PB much in running and improve my running since the winter months. Therefore while the Aquathlon season is over until next spring, I will be focusing on improving my running on a whole ready for next season; of course I will still be swimming and improving so I have included all my targets from now to start building for another successful year.

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Please keep an eye out on my website for my current race schedule as it will be updated regularly and my Twitter account for my results.  My goals are:

  • One area is my 5k time, to officially record a sub 18 minute 5k; I have run aquathlons quicker than my official 5k PB, so I want this to now show in PB times.
  • To improve on my 10k time of 36:50 set in May 2016. I hope to do this by the end of next year. Ideally I would like a sub 36 minute 10k.
  • To improve my 10 mile race time of 1:02:46. I would like to take off a big chunk. I aim to do this in either a race in December 2016 (Alan Green 10 mile race) or January 2017 (Parkers Steel Canterbury 10 miler). With the main aim of running a 10 miler under an hour in the future.
  • For a half marathon, I aim to PB this year to beat my time of 1:23:32 set nearly two years ago. I don’t do many half marathons so next year is a focus to do a couple and improve on my time. With the main goal of dipping under 1:20.
  • Build on my swimming and to improve my swimming times over the winter.
  • To have a successful cross country season with Canterbury Harriers.
  • Work and prepare with Gobinder (My confidence coach) ready for next season.
  • Strength training through the winter.

These are my goals for the quiet winter season which will keep me ticking over until spring. I have in mind my goals for next year in Aquathlons but will set these out in the New Year.

So I have treated myself to a new pair of Adidas cross country spikes and a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost. So what’s next for me? Why have I chosen these targets?

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Well because of all the aquathlons this season I was unable to record PB’s in my road running races, so this is the target for the winter months. The good thing about the winter is that there is not many road running races so I can focus on a good winter of training ready for the spring. Being a running coach I have sorted my plan out for the next 6 weeks, so I will be doing 6 week loading plans with the 7th week easy running and then start again. I will revaluated myself every 6 weeks and target what area is needed in my running from this. I am looking at targeting quicker times in half marathons so will be doing a few of them and building up the endurance for this. I will also be competing in some of the Kent Fitness League cross country races because this is important to strengthen me up ready for the summer.

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I have decided that swimming is an area I need to improve on a lot for next season and I will be working with Matt my swimming coach in December. This is much earlier than the previous season as I only started working with him in April and only had a few months to get stronger and faster.

I am a regular gym user and like to do weights in the gym twice a week depending on training. I figured that I needed help in this area so shortly I will be working with a strength and endurance coach. This is going to be very important to build strength up to make me stronger and faster and keep those injuries at bay. I am looking forward to this and it is going to be a new experience for me. I will keep you posted about this in the future.

Another aspect to improve is my confidence; I have just recently worked with Gobinder who has already helped a lot and we have implemented aspects ready for next season. I look forward to this journey as we have just started and look forward to the end outcome.

So what’s next?  Well keep looking at my current schedule as I will update it regularly. I have had two weeks off from training since the World Championships and to allow my body to fully recover. Unfortunately after the race I picked up an Achilles injury which I am trying to manage. I have slowly got back into running and swimming but only easy sessions and I enjoy the free time I have now.  I have entered the Givaudan Ashford 10k on the 9th of October as I organise the Canterbury Harriers Club Championships there, so wanted to run it. I am not fit for the race due to having a rest and I am yet to decide whether to run with my wife or to just race it and see where my current fitness levels are at the moment. I have also entered the Trispirit Events Chilham Castle 5k the following week which will be the first week of proper training. I have entered this because I won it last year and hold the current course record and it’s only a few minutes away from where I live so I wanted to do it. Ater this the hard training really begins with a target race being the Brooks Brighton 10k on the 20th of November. This is the race I hope to be fully fit for and hopefully knock on the door of a PB.