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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The World Championships experience

14292532_10154332576330225_815161498534774009_nThe 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. Could I do it again?

I was in tapering mode, however preparations didn’t go to plan. After the Whitstable Surf and 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 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.

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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.

I then went and put my stuff in transition and I soon found Alastair Brownlee walk past me; he was racing too. It was a huge honour to be in the same race and transition with him.

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The race then started and I started off hard because of the different format of a 2.5k run followed by a 1000 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. It seems all the European Athletes suffered as the heat was awful, however I enjoyed the experience and hope to come back even stronger next year.

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On the evening of the race it was the parade of nations, which was a great experience  to be part of it.

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I have set new goals and targets and you can read this soon on my blog.

I am Team GB

I was asked a few weeks ago 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.

As it was a local event and only down the road, I was over the moon to be asked and was quite shy about it. So I turned up very early on the day, with my wife who was running the parkrun. Everyone was very friendly and chatting to me. The run director introduced me and said “This is what a real athlete looks like” I liked that however found it slightly embarrassing! This parkrun is special to me as it was where I started running my first 5k’s and won the Whitstable Surf N Turf recently, so it was nice to come and support them. I also used to train down there a lot when I lived nearby.

The Whitstable parkrun had record numbers of 259 runners. Well done to Jacky, the race organiser, for getting this started.

I had a lot of runners coming up to me after the run and families asking for photos with me, that was a nice touch. I really enjoyed the day and was very happy to be asked. Thank you.

I would always recommend a parkrun, because its very good training and you get to meet other people that share the same hobby as you. It was nice to see lots of Canterbury Harriers supporting the run, a few of them are below.

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You can read the full report from their run director here.

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/whitstable/news/

 

 

Having fun with Jason!

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All photos in this Blog are by Jason Dodd Photography

I contacted Jason Dodd from Jason Dodd Photography back in April 2016, stating I had qualified for the European Aquathlon Championships for June and wished to enquire about a photo shoot to show off my new GB kit and for him to become a sponsor. This was to help me out, attract new sponsors for the future and raise my profile.  I am very proud to have Jason as a sponsor and extremely happy with the pictures he has produced for me.

We met early in the year before my race and Jason produced some great pictures for me to use with my GB kit and race kit. You can see two of the first pictures from the original photo shoot above and more on my website.

The first photo shoot was taken at Jason’s office in Canterbury at the University of Kent. These were taken opposite the woodlands which provided a good location for some running photos, and at the back of the Innovation Centre is a tired car park; with me standing on the top set of steps this gave Jason a low down viewpoint in which to cut out the background and just concentrate on the thundered sky.

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Jason was due to come to one of my races and get some action shots but sadly a minor niggle resulted in me pulling out of the race. So we decided to meet up again on the 15th of August at Whitstable Harbour with permission from Canterbury City Council and he came down with the new Land Rover Equipe convertible car. A very nice car and very expensive, I am pretty sure it would pay peoples mortgages off. The car got a lot of attention and Jason took photos with me and the car around the harbour. It was nice for me to show off my Bronze medals too and take photos that we haven’t done before and to get some more photos. The photo shoot was fun with me probably annoying Jason asking him if he wanted a serious or happy pose (I think I need to work on my poses more…).

Below are some photos from the photo shoot, what do you guys think? My favourite below is the photo with the boat in the background.

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I am happy to announce that Jason will continue our partnership for next year, which I am grateful. Please check-out his website out.

http://www.jasondoddphotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 triathlon running drills to improve form

Top 5 triathlon running drills to improve form

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Yiannis Christodoulou, Level 2 running coach & GB athlete

Hi All this is my top 5 drills I give to my athletes when training for triathlon. Any questions feel free to contact me.

90 degrees arm drive

Arm drive is something that is very much neglected in athletes, as they think they have perfect running technique. A better arm drive will make you more efficient and quicker.

Looking at the picture below your arms should be at 90 degrees angle and when you run, your arm should come back next to your hip and the forward part of your elbow should be to your hip as you move your arm forward. You should check your arms when warming up and perform this on the warm up.

 

 

Lift your knees high

The importance of this drill is to improve running form and teaches your body to have a better technique.

You start by having a 90 degrees arm drive like when you are running, but walking with your knees up high.  The high knees will help with the loading phase and the importance of getting this right is that it allows you to focus on driving the foot and springing back off the ground. See picture below.

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I would say that you should do this before some of your runs for around 1 minute. You could put it into reps and repeat 3 times then go on to your session.

Running with Bike

We know you can run but the most difficult problem for triathletes is when they come off the bike into running; their legs don’t move and are like jelly. Your body needs to get used to this and one aspect of training the legs is to practice coming off the bike and into the run.

There are two ways I always recommend even if you are not doing a run session after the bike session. The first one is to get off the bike and to run with the bike for half a mile, just like you would in transition, then leave the bike at your place and jog for half a mile.

The second way is to come off the bike, leave it at home and run at 60% of your race pace for a mile. These two techniques are quite popular with triathletes in getting their legs used to running after the bike.

Running backwards

When running you are always moving forwards, so people think why run backwards. By running backwards you are using different muscles that you wouldn’t normally use and will help improve your stride length by moving quicker and being more efficient and also help in stopping shin splints. This also makes your glutes and hamstrings stronger.

So what should you do before you start your run? Stand tall with your core straight, push off with your forefoot to run backwards. The hamstrings and glutes will be working hard and lead the way. Do this for around 30 seconds, then take a recovery and repeat twice more.

Lunges while walking

Why lunges? Well lunges are important for balancing while running and provides flexibility. This should be done by lunging one leg forward like the picture below. I always recommend that runners do 20 of these before they start their main session.

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