Sunday 26 May 2013

Turned a corner

Taking one day at a time is proving to be very successful.  I'd been getting really wound up looking at things even on a weekly level, never mind monthly or zooming right out to seasonal level.  Stress levels rising, happiness levels plummeting, generally an unpleasant state to be in.

Breaking things up into manageable chunks works.  I looked at my week and moved training sessions about to fit with my work travels in a sensible way and then just focussed on each day as they came.  On a Tuesday, if I was in Bury Saint Edmunds, I'd get a run session in in the morning before work.  On a Thursday, if I was tired from the day before and needed to get in to work for an 8am start, I'd just do that and if I ended up in the office for almost 12 hours, then that's what happened and that was enough stress on my body for the day without trying to wedge in a sports training session or getting wound up about not having trained.  Move on.  Live with it.  Tomorrow is another day.

And I've got out on my bike and started to feel the movement and synergy with it more.  Been cornering and handling better, sitting on the brakes downhill less, getting down on the drops (unheard of), taking a drink while pedalling (also unheard of) and today I went for a speculative spin on my TT bike and it was OK.  I was able to get down on the bars right out of the traps.  And this was right after a good swim session where I got through the whole session without wussing out and missing part of the main set, and did it in less time than coach estimated for the session.

5x100s x 3 - endurance session

Things are looking up.

I'm going to race on the TT bike tomorrow.

I'm also going to mash the run like I did at the 15km race at Clapham 2 weeks ago.

And if I don't place well in the field, I don't mind all that much.  It's been a tough 9 months since I crashed, lots has happened and that's OK.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Getting a grip - one day at a time

I'm getting a grip.  Slowly.  One day at a time.  And I did a good run because of it.

Thanks to Marvellous Mimi for the daily inspirations
Sunday, I ran a 15km race on a whim.  A friend mentioned it on Facebook a week ago, so I signed up so I could meet up for a bit of a social.  And for the first time in 7 days, I exercised on Sunday and I ran.  I ran pretty darned hard, for me.  Having had no idea whether I'd try for a decent time or just run steady and have a chat around the course, I decided on the start line when everyone else I was with disappeared.  And I decided to bang it out somewhat.
1st/2nd lap - lookin' good, feelin' good

05:45/km was the goal.  And for the first couple of km I glanced down at the km beep, at my watch and saw quicker than that despite having done my now usual prancing, high cadence start.  05:17 then 05:14, up a little rise and 05:26, then 05:05 down a little gradient, 05:19 and the first lap done.  I thought it felt a bit tough, but do-able and I kept the pressure on.

Second lap and started with 05:19 then 05:08 and decided I wanted a drink.  It wasn't that warm, but my mouth was dry so I slowed to a walk at the water station and took a swig or two before trotting off again.  That gave me an 05:34 km which was annoying, but still well under my 05:45 average target.  Long story short; I carried on at the same lick of a pace, pushed through the inevitable brain:body conversation that goes "oh you don't really need to be going this quickly. you could slow down and take it easy. what's the point of this, you're not going to get a quick time anyway, take it easy." etc. responded to by my over-ride of "oh shush, this doesn't hurt. it'll be fun. you'll be happy with a quicker time if you just keep the pace up. stop whining and keep up the effort." etc.  My will won out in the end :o)

And I averaged 05:16/km.  Almost 30s per km quicker than I'd hoped.  My long (anything over an hour) runs have been all at well over 06:40/km these last months and I was worried I couldn't actually hurt enough to run quickly now.  And the route is so twisty that it slows you down...

3 laps and windy as all hell

3 laps of this is a lot of hair-pins and a good few dead-turns.  Seeing the times staying well under my target was... more than spirit-raising.  Overtaking lots of people doing the 10km route on my second lap was spirit-raising - they started a few minutes before the 15km race wave.  Starting the third lap was interesting as the quite reasonable number of other runners pretty much disappeared.  And the rest of the third lap was a battle in my own head of "who am I racing?" "I don't see any women any more"  "I could ease off a bit as long as I don't lose a place, 'cause I'm not going to catch any women".  And then I saw a woman ahead of me.  Thing was, it could be a woman on her 2nd lap of the 10km race, rather than a woman on the 3rd lap of the 15km race.  And she was running only a little bit slower than me, so she could have been on the 15km race and not paced well, so ran out of steam, or on the 10km race and surging through the course slowly/quickly/slowly/quickly etc.  I decided that as I was gaining on her, that I may as well make the effort to overtake, just in case.  If I'd been able to see her race bib, I would have known the answer; navy blue bib = 10km, orange bib = 15km.  But you can't see that from behind and I was too far away, then behind trees whenever I might have seen due to a twist or turn in the course.  So I overtook her in the last 2km.  And spent that last 2km making sure she didn't take the place back.
2nd lap - starting to feel the pain a bit
Over the line in just over 01:20 and having passed the 10km mark in fastest race 10km time to date I got my goodie bag, medal and quick photo with the girls.  Then off to a coffee shop for coffee and cake.

And there we see some of the problem.

Since the beginning of the month, I've managed only two days where I haven't eaten cake, drunk wine or had both.  Life is pretty intense at the moment.  Lots of new job, lots of travel, lots of MrTOTKat away on business, worry about family, trying to slowly sort out house renovations and worry about training/not training.  And it means something has to crack.

Nutrition choices have been the victim.   Given that the world isn't set up for easy choices that work with my nutritional preferences, at least once a day it's just less stressful to make the choice that doesn't follow my preference or I just really feel the need to have things that are specifically "bad" - cake, wine, cake and wine... so instead of getting even more wound up, I've just been relaxing into it.  Having cake.  Having wine.  Quite a lot of both really.  But it's OK.  No, really, it's OK.  I know it's the opposite of what I've been trying to do the last 6 months, but I'm OK with it.
3rd lap, sucking it up and pushing through - full gurning in force
I'm taking things one day at a time.  I'm OK with the thought that maybe I'll need to re-think my nutrition strategy for UK 70.3, but the thing is that I'll get a steady state test done 2 weeks out and use the data from that to calculate what I need in-race.  It actually doesn't matter too much whether I've regressed a bit on the fat vs carbohydrate burning ratio as long as I know what the numbers are so I can be conservative about how much I take on during the race.  Obviously, I'd like for things to be optimised, but life happens and that's not where I am at the moment.

So I'm taking training day by day and I'm taking nutrition day by day and although I'm really quite soft and squashy (which I think is more related to the fact that my strength training tailed off a lot of months ago and I've not done any for quite a while, rather than the nutritional choices, so I've lost muscle mass) my weight is going down a little bit and I've lost 1/2kg of the 4 I gained in the last couple of months.
And I thought I'd busted my 10K PB.  During a 15km race.  52:57 for 10km, where previous were around 54 minutes, but I found a 52:27 back in 2011, so.  Bah!

But anyway.  Given where I am, how I feel, what's going on and all, I'm pretty pleased.  And I'm taking things one day at a time.

Sunday 5 May 2013


Not a day goes by where I read notes and stories on Twitter and Facebook, of friends and strangers both getting out there, enjoying a very active day or race or event and all I can do is feel bad about not doing it myself.  I'm in a weird place.

I've lost the desire to get out on my bike (which is tricky as I can really only do it at weekends).  I've lost the impetus to get in a pool and swim.  I'm just about hanging in there with food and nutrition, but more often giving in to what's easy than what's right for me.  I've not done any resistance training in months.

And I'm getting softer, squashier, tighter clothes, slower,  and down about it all.

Work exists and is different enough than where I was before, so it's taking up a lot of hours in the week in actual work, commuting, travel to other offices and generally emotional energy.  I did quite well in the first couple of weeks of the new job, gym/swim before work and then a full day in the office worked well, but then that didn't fit around being in the rural office (though I could run before or after work when there, but not if I was travelling).

I've not been talking to my coach at all for various reasons and I've had no training programme for two weeks, so tried to make it up and didn't do too badly in the second week until some socialising happened (which I really enjoyed) and it all fell apart.

At the bottom of it all I'm thinking about my "get faster at 70.3" goal for this year and see it becoming less and less a possibility.  6 weeks out from the first one and I've gained 4kg in 2 months, done almost no swimming (twice in 2 months), very little outdoor (road handling) cycling and not a lot of structured running.  My running form has dropped off and I can't ride my TT bike for toffee.

So.  Monday's race isn't happening.  There's no point.  I do the Thames Turbo sprints because they're fun and I enjoy them and where I am now it would be a miserable experience of being 90s slower over 8 minutes in the pool (how demoralising?) fighting a bike I can't ride at the moment (slow and frustrating at best) and carrying an extra 4kg on the run which will slow me down appreciably.  Not fun.  Not enjoyable.  So I'm not doing it.   I'll go out for a 4 hour ride instead.  And today I'll try to get out to the pool and maybe a run.  But the thought of doing some things just fills me with anxiety when I'm thinking about getting ready to do them and that's not good.  I need to work out how to chill the hell out about doing things.  I need to work out what I really want to be doing.  I need to figure out what's going on with food and how to make it sustainable (well, actually it's more about drink as the food has been fine, almost exemplary, until I drink).  Above all, I need to work out how to stop getting wound up about any of it.  That's the problem.  And that's what needs fixing.

Anyone else feeling a little overwhelmed by how well everyone else seems to be doing compared with themselves?