National Aquathlon Championships

My last big race was approaching on September the 8th the National Aquathlon Championships. However leading up to this the weekend before I picked up a foot infection after competing at the triathlon sprint relays on the Sunday prior. My foot was hurting and inflamed straight after the race. I have had a problem near my toe with a lump for a while, unfortunately after being told to go to the MIU from the medical team at the race there was no doctor on duty at the MIU to give me antibiotics. The good news is I had a doctor’s appointment booked in for the Monday anyway a week before. I turned up in pain and hobbling at the doctors, the doctor confirmed it was an infection. I explained my health comes first and if he pulls me out of the Nationals that is fine. Well he said there was no reason for not to continue to train etc and gave me antibiotics and stated only train if it doesn’t hurt and keep an eye on it.

So I did, however on the Thursday I started feeling unwell and drained so I took Friday and Saturday off prior to the race. It worked a treat as Saturday morning I felt really good, all though still had pain in my foot; it was healing and didn’t affect my running or swimming. I didn’t know what my fitness was and Saturday night I had another problem with the fire alarm at the hotel went off just after midnight which woke me up and then I struggled with sleep after that and had roughly a few hours max sleep. So race day came and I was shattered and felt awful.

Feeling sorry for myself Sunday morning and not great at all I had to just give it my all and see what I can do. The race was in beautiful Arundel and I highly recommend visiting. The race started and we went off in waves, I tried to pushed hard in the swim however felt sluggish I didn’t give up but at the turn around point I started to feel awful and struggling to get keep pace or go faster. I came out the river and didn’t feel great, I proceeded to transition and realised I must have had a good swim as I was close to the top guys.

I was struggling to get my wetsuit off due to the air temperature and lake being a bit on the cold side. I came out of transition and onto the run and decided to run hard and see how long I could keep this pace up. I managed to catch the lead pack with around 2k to go and took the lead in my AG. 2nd placed stayed on the back of me and I knew he could get past me and at that point I had nothing left. However when on the final stretch of the race, I asked my body to go faster, gritted my teeth and tried to turn my legs over quicker still feeling awful but kept saying to myself in my head come on nearly there and my body reacted an moved.

I came storming to the finish line and started celebrating. It could well be my best race, I didn’t expect to get on the podium at the start of the week but I gave everything and didn’t give up. So very happy to defend and win the National Championships for a second time. I learnt something here today and that is never give up until it’s over. I kept wanting to stop and ease off but mentally I was in the right place. Lots of negative thoughts came into my head but I managed to keep positive and block the negative thoughts out and this is what made the difference. I had to dig very deep to defend this, of course if I was fully fit I know I could of been faster but I did just enough to retain my title.

This season has been amazing and becoming European and National Aquathlon Champion has made me achieve more than anything I could ever imagine. As mentioned before in blogs I won’t be taking up my GB spots for the Aquathlon team next year as I want to focus on triathlons. However I am yet to decide if I will come back to the nationals or not next year for Aquathlons. Since I started this journey in 2015 I have raced in 37 Aquathlons, podium 29 times and had 7 wins. I have won 2 National titles, Runner up and 3rd, European Champion and Bronze medal, represented GB 8 time and captained the team at Age Group. It’s been an amazing journey and I move on to new challenges now.

World Championships and Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon Update

So arrived at the World Championships in good shape, despite getting a cold and a grumpy tendon, which luckily did not affect my training leading up to this although it was painful. Although I was very worried about my leg as it was getting worse, but once I was tapering and doing easy training it started to ease off. These thing tend to happen a lot to me leading up to a big race.

So I was very confident on a good race on race day, we were staying in Vigo so we were around 20 minutes away from Pontevedra where the race was. So on race day I woke up and felt much better as I was also not feeling as tired. I was very tired that week from illness and walking around London watching my wife run the London Marathon. I have to say watching the London marathon is truly special and highly recommend going up to watch it.

I knew I was in great shape and if I could get through the race with my tendon problem I was confident it would be a good performance for my last World Aquathlon Championships. Race day arrived and I headed to the race, nervous but excited as normal. The event looked like it was going to be another one to remember, people so friendly, athletes chatting to you from across the world, made it have a real buzz about it.

So I got to the start line in the 19-39 year old wave, the temperature of the river was around 13 to 14 degrees so not warm but it seemed a lot colder than that. The first half of the race was up stream and against the current so this was going to be tough. I got into the river and was freezing, I headed to the start line and waited for the horn. The horn went off and my plan was sprint for around 100m metres, the swim was tough with loads of people around me. The first 500m was tough and it felt like it was taking a while. Once I hit the turnaround point it was much quicker being pushed with the current, however I could feel the water was cold and my hands and feet were not warm. I came out into transition which was a long one, about 250m long as I walked the length the day before.

My swim was not my fastest in fact it was my slowest by a few minutes, but this was to be expected in the conditions. I came to my box and took my wetsuit off, I was freezing although it was very warm outside of the river. I then left transition for the run and I was feeling faint and wobbly because of the cold water. After a minute I was warmed up and I attacked the run, hunting athletes down and passing them, I felt good on the run. I came home in 7th in my Age Group and first Brit back. I was over the moon and it was my best performance by far. I couldn’t do much more, my swim could have been better but I can’t complain due to the lack of open water swimming in the UK. My run was the 4th fastest in my race.

I have achieved more than I could ever of dreamed of since qualifying in 2016, 1x European Bronze, 3x top ten World Champs finishes and a National Championship title, Team Captain etc in Aquathlons and to represent GB in my AG at 4 world Championships. As many of you may know as I have achieved everything I wanted to in Aquathlons and this was my final World Aquathlon Championships, I am not shutting the door on Aquathlons but I may come back in future years but next year I won’t be competing for the GB aquathlon team, even though I have an automatic place from this year from today’s result. As I will be concentrating on other sporting and life goals I still have the Europeans and the Nationals to go and now targeting these and who knows I might be back in a different sport but this year was all about me focusing on newer goals.

So I got back from the World Championships and went back to work for a few days before I headed off the Greece to a tiny island called Spetses to do the Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon. I was kindly invited by the organisers to compete and I thought why not as I am moving more to triathlons this year.

My wife and I left home at 2am in the morning and finally arrived in Spetse at 5.30pm. It was a long day with flying to Athens and getting a boat across to the island. When we arrived the island looked small with no cars around and horse and carts being used a taxi’s. The whole island seemed to have a buzz because of the event.

We arrived at the Klimis Hotel which was a lovely hotel and we had a sea view. The organisers had left a goody bag and some tops with my name on, which were awesome. At 9pm we were invited to have dinner with the organisers and the athletes. That was an amazing experience talking to Elites, Pros and Olympians. Some athletes had gone to the Olympics and come back with medals.

The following day they had swimming races and I was due to race in the 1k swim. However I was just shattered from travelling and decided not to race, but went down to watch. I should of done it now thinking back to it. Later that evening they had a cycle race and the 5k charity race. I went down to watch and my wife was running in the 5k so I watched her and cheered her on. I then picked up my hire bike which I was using for the race.

The whole island was buzzing from the event and the following morning was at the Triathlon event, 750m sea swim, 25k bike ride and 5k run. Everyone headed to the start, the organisers then started announcing the Olympians etc who was competing. I was then announced and I started getting nervous as I was nowhere near their level. The race started and I managed to get on the back of an Olympic medallist and was able to stay with her for all the swim. I hung on and came out with a huge PB, I raced out of the sea onto my hire bike. Unfortunately it wasn’t my own bike so was a struggle. I lost a lot of time on the bike and the course was brutal, it was so hilly my legs were screaming at me. Having lots of people overtaking me wasn’t doing my confidence any good. So I kept thinking to myself, keep the legs spinning eventually you will start to come downhill. I then got back into transition and headed for the run, surprising the legs felt good and I cracked on targeting people one by one. I was getting quicker and quicker the longer I was running and then I finished 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. I was very happy with that considering the level of athletes here. I also had the 2nd quickest run so I was happy with that.

The spestashon was a great event and I highly recommend this event to anyone. I would love to come back and thank you to the organisers for inviting me.

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

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!

To read the article click here

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.