Protecting your wetsuit is the key to expanding its life

 

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As you are all aware I have been using The Dry Bag to protect my wetsuit whilst it’s stored away this winter, protecting it from dust, dirt and creepy crawlies. The ventilated bag means it won’t festure or grow a spider colony, phew. I’ve found it so handy that I decided to write another blog about the importance of protecting your wetsuit and prolonging its life s you guys can hop on The Dry Bag band wagon with me.

Wetsuits degrade quickly. Fact. Which is annoying, not only because they’re expensive but once you’ve moulded to your wetsuit it becomes a second skin, important for race day right? After a race or an outdoor training session I would leave my wetsuit in a bag soaked, scrunched up and covered with sand and dirt – no wonder they didn’t last more than one season, doh! Sometimes, and (only sometimes!) I would wash it and let it dry in the bathroom over the shower door, resulting in a grumbling wife and a puddle on the floor! I can safely say she who is to be obeyed is in love with my Dry Bag!

If you’re prone to hanging your wetsuit outside to dry, The Dry Bag offers 3x more protection from the sun’s UV rays than without. If your wetsuit will degrade 30% quicker when exposed to sunlight it’s a no brainer to put in a Dry Bag when drying outside to keep it protected. This of course will help you get a couple more years from your wetsuit.

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The best feature is that it doesn’t take up a lot of room and it is easy to put into your wardrobe with the wetsuit hanging and still drying. This therefore saves time and means it’s easy to grab the wetsuit. Also bonus – The Dry Bag separates your wetsuit from your clothes and towels so you don’t get the lovely neoprene pong rubbing off on them.

My conclusion is that protecting your wetsuit (and therefore wallet) is key. Let’s be honest who wants to be paying hundreds for a new wetsuit every, single year? I’m excited to know that my wetsuit is ready to grab from my wardrobe come the spring safe in the knowledge that it will be dust, dirt and spider (!) free. With the season just around the corner my advice would be spend £60 on a product that you’ll be thankful for come those early morning training sessions. For further information, please use website link below.

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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

 

 

 

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.

 

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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The broken road to Bratislava (Dealing with Setbacks)

After a great winter base of training and no setbacks apart from the minor Achilles niggles which I have had for a while but have not hampered my training, on the 25th of April I was struck down with the dreaded word “injury”. So I decided to write about the set back to help others stay positive as the European Aquathlon championships is on the 27th of May and I am to get there fully fit.

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So on Sunday the 23rd of April I went out for a long run, was happy as I managed to get 16.4 miles at an easy pace at my heart rate. However the last few miles of the run I noticed my left calf wasn’t right but carried on. After the run I done the normal stretch etc and it felt fine. The next few days I was walking around with a slight squeeze in my calf.  I didn’t think much of it as I get loads of weird aches etc. On the Tuesday evening I proceeded into doing my session which was 1 mile warm up, followed by 5x mile reps and a warm down. In the warm up my leg was fine but as soon as I ran the mile reps the leg was sore but then disappeared. So I got through the session alright until the last mile rep on the last 100m I felt a sharp squeeze in the calf. So I eased off and stopped, tried to jog part of the warm down but I stopped as I didn’t want to make it worse.

I didn’t think too much about it and wanted to stay positive – the following day I knew something wasn’t right. I got hold of my physio and sponsor Andy from Team Buckley. He got me in to see Alex at the clinic straight away that evening. Although I am able to walk fine but in discomfort I heard the dreaded word from Alex that I have a minor calf “Strain” the first thing that went through my mind was its the calf that gave me so much trouble 5 years ago when I first got in to running has come back and its going to be recurring like before. Then I decided to snap out of it as I am more positive now and this can be a positive then a negative.

I was advised to not race in the Total Motion Aquathlon on the Saturday as I had a risk of making it worse and putting the European Champs at risk and the rest of the season. I was gutted as I really wanted to do this race but was not worth the risk. So I was advised no running until Monday so at least 5-7 days rest and hopefully I will be back training again then. I left the practice not feeling down but more determined to be positive. Even when I get reassessed next week if I get bad news I have many options.

A week off from running will not do anything to my current fitness levels. So I have decided to blog about this set back and how I deal with it until I am running again.

Thursday 27th

After having a massage today the calf is very sore, to be honest hurts more than the other day. Today is going to be my rest day as it was going to be hard getting a session in today with the cross country awards for the Canterbury Harriers later that evening. My positives today is it’s a complete rest day, so nothing lost but more gains for recovery and I wont lose any of my running fitness for the first 7 days.  Tomorrow no running but I have changed my training plan around and will crack on with my normal swim session that was planned for Sunday. I will also start some pool running at the weekend.

Friday 28th

 Waking up in the morning and the first thing I was thinking is whether my leg is better. Last night it started getting painful towards the end of the day. I attended my running club Canterbury Harriers cross country awards for the 2016/17 season. I was lucky enough to receive a certificate for completing 5 races and coming 7th overall in the league. A great achievement for me for that season, it was only 3 years ago I was running in the 140s places.

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So feeling positive my leg wasn’t really much better, perhaps maybe slightly but nothing  really of notice. Feeling positive today because looking back on how much I improved over the winter. I am not too worried about another day off from running. Time is a healer and no matter what happens I will be at that start line of the Europeans whether its fully fit or whether I have to walk it. So what is the plan for today? Very simple just one normal swim session that was scheduled for Sunday. Today would have been a rest day but I just swapped it round with yesterday. Tomorrow I will start my first pool running session.

Saturday 29th 

Leg slightly better but today I started pool running. Apart from people asking me what I was doing running up and down in the swimming pool. I enjoyed it, I done one hour of pool running, where I ran as fast as I could for a certain time and then took a recovery and repeated this. I found it weird I was running but not touching the ground as I was in the deep end. The faster I went the harder it got with the resistance.  Feeling still upbeat that I will be running next week and plus got a great work out as it sent my heart rate quite high. Four weeks time I will be at the European’s and it is coming round very fast and getting slightly worried because I want to be at my best.

Sunday 30th 

My leg was starting to feel much better and I am feeling more positive. I felt very fresh from the pool running the previous day. I decided to do my scheduled 40 minute swim session followed by 1 hour of pool running. Normally Sunday’s are when I do my long runs but my pool running session was the same session I done yesterday. Feeling very positive about running next week now.

Monday 1st May 

I had to get up early to help my running club (Canterbury Harriers) with their race the Whitstable 10k. Some 750 runners were expected to compete in it. Leg was feeling much better but still very tight when walking. Once the race started my sponsor and physio Any Buckley was there with his team providing massages after the race. He gave me a quick check over and said give it a few more days. I felt relaxed with his advice and will be trying to run on Thursday easy. That’s a huge positive and if all goes well I can quickly get back up to speed. The race went well for my club and I decided to take this as a rest day and change my training up. So pretty much ready/waiting to go again.

Tuesday 2nd

With no running today, my training will be a pool running session, followed by a gym session. Leg feeling miles better today so a few more days more from running and then I am able to crack on with training. However this doesn’t give me a lot of time to get to full fitness for the Europeans.

I hit the pool for an hour pool running and headed off to Team Buckley to use the Normtec boot machine which I use regularly. I managed to speak to Andy (my physio) and had some really positive news. It is a big “if” but if my running goes well on Thursday I may be able to get back straight into my training level. I hit the gym after and had no problems with my leg. So I am keeping positive.

Wednesday 3rd

Feeling very positive today with no pain in my leg at all. Today I have a swim session which will be a tough one as its sprints. I followed that by having a massage on my leg. Feeling ready and fingers crossed for tomorrow’s run.

Thursday 4th 

Today is the day to check my leg out in an easy run on grass. I went for a 40 minute run to see how it went. Could feel it being tight and a twinge but managed to get through it fine. Tomorrow will be a test to see how it went and how I should proceed. So far looking positive.

Friday 5th

Woke up and the first thing I wanted to do is walk around the house to test it. It feels tight and achy but I am guessing that’s a good sign as its the first time I have run. Going to speak to my physio later to see how to proceed and things do feel like its going to be a positive answer now. After speaking to Andy he said to carry on running tomorrow for an hour easy and if all goes well then I can start putting the speed work in. Fingers crossed as I don’t really want to have any setbacks. I am thinking of going to Canterbury Park run and taking easy tomorrow, that’s if I get up early! I carried on with my normal training plan of going swimming and the gym.

Saturday 6th 

Calf was achy and didn’t feel right but I was thinking it was all in my head. I headed off to my local Park Run to take it easy and then run after that for up to an hour. I took it easy at 60% heart rate and enjoyed cheering people on that I knew and managed to get the whole hour of running done. I then headed to the swimming pool for a swimming session. Leg felt fine until I got home it ached like hell but did not hurt. I had a slight concern but decided to try a speed session the following morning and go from there.

Sunday 7th

Felt very positive about today and was ready to test the leg out a nearly full speed. I had my training partner join me on the track to push me round. I decided to try mile reps and mentally this was important as this is how my calf got injured. I started the reps and finished the session and was completely fine. I was over the moon with how the session went in fact buzzing as  I hadn’t lost too much speed and was only 12 days since my last speed session.

So feeling very positive that I can get back to full fitness, my advice to anyone dealing with setbacks is don’t rush back and ease into it. It is ok to rest and you will be back in no time. Cross training like pool running has definitely helped me.

Monday 8th

Leg felt really good after yesterday’s run and although I felt I could do more reps I didn’t want to push it.  Felling quite good and positive about this swimming and gym on the agenda today.

Tuesday 9th 

You are wondering now why I carried on my log…. well today leg felt great and nothing wrong with it. Over two weeks since I had hurt the calf and I was very happy and upbeat the way training was going. However that following night I went and done hill reps, now looking back that was not a great idea. I thought my leg was alright and it was only a few days ago I was telling people don’t rush back. I didn’t think it would be a problem and I started my reps slower than normal. After the 5 rep I notice a weird feeling while running and had to slow down. However it eased off, I pushed on for a few more reps and also managed to run a few miles slow after. Although it didn’t feel right I got through the session.

Wednesday 10th 

I woke up and quickly realised that my leg was not right, there was no pain but just an ache and tightness. Today was a rest day from running and I was quite worried about this. I didn’t feel positive now and with the Europeans fast approaching I was already deciding whether to pull out of the race but me and my wife were using it as our holiday too.  This was my biggest fear and became real. I was no longer positive or upbeat as this time it was against me. However there is not much I can do until I test it out Thursday. But this time it is more of a weird feeling not a pain. My wife cheered me up a bit so tomorrow will be the day.

Thursday 11th

Still getting this weird feeling in my leg and my gut feeling is today is the day it goes. After stressing about it yesterday I was trying not to think about it. My wife said to me “think positive as you are always giving people inspirational quotes and now it’s time for yours. Believe in yourself, panic makes a situation worse and steals your joy and passion. You are a fighter” and also sent me a quote from Rocky.

She is right I am a fighter and the time has come for me to fight this setback and get through this. If today on my easy run the calf goes, I will be disappointed and there wont be any chance I will be fully fit for the Europeans and all the gains over the winter would be lost. However if that is the case I will get back on to cross training and get there one way or another and running. My target for this race will change and the same will go for the nationals and sometimes these things happen and its the way I am aiming to bounce back that will count. You learn from your mistakes, however we will see later what happens.

So after that positive motivation from my wife I went running in the evening. With my leg not feeling right I was slightly worried. I ran on the track at heart rate and it was a very hot day. I was planning for around 1 hour 30 but stopped after an hour as my leg wasn’t  right. Maybe a mental thing but best to be safe. I then cracked on with my swimming session.

 Friday 12th

Wasn’t feeling great today and convinced it was all a mental issue. I planned to do 400m/200m session, I was aiming for 6 reps of each. I needed to test it out, I went out slower then normal and the leg started playing up on the 4th rep so I eased off and carried on running easy for 30 minutes. It felt fine and I was convinced this is all in my mind and now I was ready to race at the Stelling Minnis 10k  Sunday to see how it reacts.

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Saturday 13th

Today was a rest day and decided not to think about it and be positive.

Sunday 14th

Kept positive and I know that this particular race was probably not the best of ideas as it is a hilly race but I needed to test my leg and fitness. I started off slower and eased into it. I had no problems throughout the race which is a huge positive. I came 6th in 38:20 I was hoping to go a bit quicker but I know the course was slow. I was happy as so many Harriers did well and I helped pick up the team prize.

Wednesday 17th

Today my legs felt fresh and I was very much looking forward to my first Aquathlon race for a while and seeing whether my fitness levels were ready for the Europeans next week.

I got to the race not feeling up for it as it was awful weather conditions with it pouring down, making it quite muddy and a water logged track. With it raining it didn’t bother me too much as I was going to get wet anyway!

So the Ocean Tri Aquathlon started and it was a course I know very well. I started the swim part and started off fast, however I did struggle a bit in the swim as this was my first time in the open water this year and also using my wet-suit. I came in to transition in 6th place with a swim time of 11:55 minutes. Not my best time but due to the conditions I was happy with how it went.

I started the run and didn’t push too hard due to my injury problems. I stuck to two 6 minute miles and the last past a few seconds faster as the gravel on the track was so wet I was sliding everywhere. However during the final mile of the race I felt my calf but I thought I am not far so kept going. I was delighted to finish 3rd overall and happy with my run time. I was hoping for quicker but I didn’t want to over do it. Straight after the race when I stopped I could feel my calf, it was not right so I proceeded to a mile cool down and my calf started hurting when jogging round. I tried not to think about it but by the time I got home I was struggling walking without a limp.

 The following day my leg wasn’t great again so quite concerned and trying to keep positive. I am seeing the physio tonight and will go from there.

Friday 19th

So the physio has told me to take two days rest and see how it goes on a gentle run Sunday and go from there as we don’t have a lot of time to work on it.So I am keeping positive and determined to get to the start line race fit. This is my final blog as I am keeping positive and I hope this helps you when you are dealing with an injury. I have learnt a lot and although my running improvement and gains over the winter have been lost I still have high fitness levels. Its ok to take a rest and sometimes it’s the way it goes and you have to change your goals and targets. My target now is to get through the race and just enjoy the experience, I know before my target was to push for a podium place but with my difficult age group this year I will try and target a top 10 finish if I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clock is ticking to Bratislava

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I am now in full training mode for the European Aquathlon championships. I have been quiet over the past month in blogging but wanted to knuckle down and concentrate on training.

My major race in running this year was the Reading Half Marathon, back in March. Training has been a huge success over the winter months and I have improved hugely. For the first time I didn’t know how to pace myself as my target time was 1:23:00 but with my training I was sure I would go under the 1:20:00 mark. A week before the race I came down with a cold and was forced to rest but all the training was done.

Race day came and I was feeling good and it was a very windy day. I started off a bit slower than my previous 10 mile races and aimed to get quicker throughout the race. I felt really good after 3 miles and started to cut my time down and I was getting quicker. However on mile 8, when I got to the top of the hill, I tried to push on but for some reason my body switched off and didn’t want to move. This was an odd feeling and I started losing a lot of time and I wasn’t able to react to it. All of a sudden I knew something was wrong and I knew at this rate I would be lucky to get to the finish with a PB. The last 2 miles I was struggling which is unlike me as I get quicker towards the end of a race. I wanted to stop and walk but managed to carry on and get to the finish.

I somehow managed a PB by 20 seconds of 1:23:20, not what I wanted but had to be happy to come home with a PB. On the plus side it was nice seeing my wife get a huge PB of about 6 minutes. The following day I came down with another cold and had to rest up a few days as it was worse than the last one. It was probably still in my system during the race.

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After Reading my confidence was a bit knocked and I struggled a bit, however I decided to get over it and move on. I decided that I needed to get some race practice in for 5k’s ready for the Aquathlons. I had a few weeks of good quality training and entered The Tri Spirits Hole Park 5k trail race. Not my normal race but wanted to give it a try; plus my wife wanted to do it. The race went well and I was leading from the start and didn’t need to push as I had no one to chase down, but the course was mega hilly. I finished 1st and broke the course record by over 2 minutes. I waited for my wife to finish and she finished as the 2nd lady. I was very proud of her and we were both over the moon with the outcome.

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The following weekend it was all go for me as the Aquathlon season kicked off. It was my first race this year and since the World Championships. The race was the Basildon Aquathlon – an event that has been going for 25 years. This was a good test to see if I had improved and to get some practice. The race had quite a large field for an aquathlon and lots of upcoming young stars. It was a super hot day which made it tough as I was starting in the afternoon. The race consisted of a 400m pool swim and a 5k off road run.

I am not keen on pool swims as I don’t tumble turn as I don’t need to do them in open water races. The swimming pool was really hot and I started my 400m swim as we had to start in swim ability at 30 seconds gaps from each competitor.

I started off fast and then eased off a bit on the swim part. I didn’t go off too fast and I wish I did now as it was a short race. I got into transition and put my trainers on and off I went for the run. I had forgotten how hard multi-sports are but went for it on the run. I suddenly realised how tough the course was when I was told there were three hills and the first one was the easiest. By the time I got up the last hill my legs wanted to explode.

I overtook quite a few people as some were walking. The problem when you don’t all start a race together is that you don’t know who you are racing. I kept digging hard and ran as fast as I could downhill. I was 400m away from the finish on the running track, the flattest part of the course, when I started to push to the finish. I didn’t think I had placed as I didn’t swim to my best, however I was over the moon to find out I was 3rd overall and 2nd Senior.

 

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With a solid base of miles and swimming over the winter, I am feeling good and ready for the European Championships which is now a few weeks away.  Training the past few weeks has been a struggle where fatigue and long training session are taking it toll. However this was expected. My target for Bratislava is to try and get on the podium for my Age Group (30-34) if I can and to just enjoy and try my best.

Since writing this blog unfortunately I have received a minor set back with a calf strain. I will be writing a blog about my injury and recovery soon. I will try my best as my Age Group is very tough this year with a mixture of elites and professionals.

 

 

 

You never know who you are inspiring

I decided to write a blog about how I got into running, swimming and competing in Auqathlons. I am not talented; I just think hard work pays off. Some of you may know my background and some won’t know my background. This blog is to inspire others to achieve their goals and dreams.

I set up my website and social media accounts to inspire others and this is also why I have joined the Red Squirrel Blogging team. Anybody that posts stuff on social media keep going as you never know who you are inspiring.

 Photo by Jason Dodd Photography.

 

March 2010

At the age of 25 and not doing much exercise, I only played five a side football once a week with some friends and some gym sessions just doing weights. I decided to run the Sport Relief 5k at the University of Kent for charity. I hadn’t run since I was back at school when I was 15. So only trained for it a few weeks before and when I started the run I found that I would struggle and after a mile I had to walk for a bit; throughout the run I kept walking and running. I was happy to finish it but didn’t really enjoy it because of the pain and the struggle I had to go through, but hey it was for charity.

Fast forward to 2011, I realised I was very unfit and pretty much just playing football once a week. I decided to go swimming in my local pool which is a 33m pool. I only managed 6 lengths in an hour and found it tough. This was the start of something, I decided I wanted to get better and would start swimming once a week but I still struggled with the lengths.

In 2012 I was pretty much going to the gym twice a week, not that I had a clue what I was doing, football once a week and swimming once a week. I was doing more lengths at this time around 20-30 and it was still tough. Sport Relief was back because it is every two years. So I started running and training for this in January on a treadmill only about 20 minute runs twice a week. The run came and I managed to not stop and somehow managed to be the first person back. I really enjoyed myself, however running stopped after that.

I then watched the Olympics in 2012 on the television and watched the men’s Triathlon. I was wowed by the Brownlee’s and really enjoyed watching it. I texted a friend who recently ran a 10k and convinced him about joining a running club. I was inspired by the Olympics and decided to get fit. I joined my local running club Canterbury Harriers and soon got the bug of really enjoying running. I soon realised that if I trained and worked hard I could be alright at this. Unfortunately this didn’t last long as I was doing speed training and my calf went. This then set off problems and setbacks for around 7 months on and off. By this time it was spring time in 2013. I turned up to my local swimming pool that had a triathlon class on and I gave it ago. 

The first thing the instructor asked was why I was wearing goggles if I didn’t put my head in the water. I listened and learned the stroke she had told me to practice and my swimming was getting easier and better. I decided to train for a triathlon and my leg was healing. However it did not take long for it to go again and this time I had to do a triathlon. I turned up to the race with a bit of a limp and was fine on the swim and bike but a mile into the run my calf felt like someone had stabbed it with a knife, I had to carry on as I was raising money for charity and after I limped back I was unable to run for nearly two months. Unfortunately healing was a problem; I would come back to running and get stuck in a cycle that every time I ran every 6 weeks it would go again. I had to stop playing football but it still went and it was at this point that I considered to just give up running.

My friend who joined the running club with me was making huge progress and I just felt down about my body being injured all the time. I decided to see a private physio who I still see now. He filled me with huge confidence and from there-on I managed to go 6 months injury free, making progress.

The summer of 2014 saw me compete in triathlons and I was getting better however it wasn’t long until I got injured again and this time I was out for a full 3 months with an Achilles injury. I stayed positive and managed to bounce back after a long lay-off. This time I had a goal of staying injury free for longer and it worked. I ended up getting around 15 PB’s in races in 2015, which is due to the fact of keeping injury free.

After going a while injury free for a bit, I was in the process of buying a house and planning my wedding with my future wife. I didn’t have the time to go out and train for all disciplines so therefore didn’t have time to train on the bike. Two days after we were back from our honeymoon, I entered a local Aquathlon. I was very jet lagged and was advised by a friend who is a sports scientist not to do it but I still did. I ended up coming back in 5th place and was happy with that. I took many positives out of it and then decided to set my sites on qualifying for the Great Britain Aquathlon squad.

By the time September came I had already taken well over 2 minutes off my Aquathlon race time and it was time to submit my time for the GB aquathlon team. After being accepted in the GB team I was very nervous and excited at the same time. I thought I best get some swimming training to improve my swim, although my swimming wasn’t bad I still needed to improve it. During the winter months of 2016 I was training for Manchester Marathon and my target was to go for the elite marathon time or the sub 3:05 GFA time for London. I didn’t really want to do it, I just wanted to try and get into London as it’s an amazing experience. I hated the training and didn’t really enjoy it, I struggled with stomach bugs and this hampered my training so I decided to try and just get around the 02:50ish time. Cut a long story short on the day so many things went wrong such as not drinking enough water and just getting to the start line as it started. Up until mile 21 I was on for my target time but I started to get really tight calves so I saw others stretching and I thought this would be good and then my hamstring cramped up and I was limping back. I learnt a lot in that race and if I ever do a marathon again I have the experience. I finished in 3:14:44; I know it wasn’t the time I aimed for but I did it.

After the marathon I kept training and working hard just not to be last in the Nationals and Europeans. I turned up to the National Aquathlon Championships in Leeds and didn’t really have any goals but to just enjoy it. I came out the water in 45th place and as soon as I came out, I started pushing the run as it’s my strong point. The course was very hilly but I kept targeting people 1 by 1. So when I crossed the line, I had no idea I was in 3rd place. When I found out I was third I was very proud and shocked.

 

The European came round quickly and I knew I was in a lot better shape because training had gone well. Although I had a nasty cold a few days before the Europeans I was relaxed and just didn’t want to come last. The time came to start the race and we were told prior no wetsuits allowed as the lake was 26 degrees. The swim was 1000 metres so a bit further than my normal races. We started with a large crowd watching and at the 500m point we had to get out and run back in; I noticed I had a large group in front of me so I pushed hard to get close to them. 

 

Once I came out of transition I then started my run and just went for it. I was picking people off throughout the run and I then saw two guys in my Age Group in front of me at the last 400 metres. I somehow found something extra and sprinted passed them to take 3rd on the line. Another Bronze medal and another achievement I never thought would happen. I was over the moon and something to tell my children in the future; my wife shed some tears and she was very proud of me. She comes to every race with me and has been there from the start since I took up Aquathlons and has been very supportive. Words can’t describe how happy I was and it was an amazing day for me.

 

Finally, last year was a great year for me and because of my National championships success I was able to compete at the World Aquathlon Championships in Mexico, where I came 28th in my age group. I do believe no matter your ability or setbacks, if you train smart and train to the best you can be, your goals will be achieved and exceeded. It was never a goal for me to compete at this level, I didn’t even think I would ever be in this position. I Hope this inspires others and please continue to read my blogs. 

All roads lead to Penticton 2017

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

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

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

 

Improve my swimming technique and to get faster

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

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Improving my strength 

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

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Improve my running as a whole

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

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

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

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

Improve Aquathlon race times

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

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Target podiums or near at the Nationals and European’s

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

Work towards a Top 20 World Aqauthlon finish

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

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

 

 

Interview with Yiannis – GB Athlete featured on Marathon Marcus website

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

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

YC: I only started running in 2012, I was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics to get out there, which ended up me joining my local running club, Canterbury Harriers. I didn’t train that regularly until the following year so progress wasn’t quick. I knew if I practised I could be a lot better and ended up doing just that. I knew I was never going to be the fastest in my area or club but I could get close. I continue to train as I want to improve myself and achieve great things. You would be surprised what you can achieve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MM: How do you avoid burnout whilst competing? 

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

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

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

Marathon Marcus website HERE

Winter Training Update and Thanet 10 Miler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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