Running is the answer, who cares what the question is.

 

RUnning is the answer

I ran for the first time in nearly 3 weeks this morning and while I was running my mind wandered…. How do other people cope when they are ill? Especially professional athletes? What happened to Kelly Holmes when she got a cold? Did she ever get something so mundane as a cold? I don’t ever dream I’ll be in her league but I’m sure the same problem can strike us all and it had just recently struck me.

I haven’t been terribly ill, I just had one of those viruses that makes you feel like you are wading through mud all day, no other outward symptoms so no reason for anyone to notice or even believe me (although my wonderful husband did and took great care of me). The week before I had just finished a week long free trial at a local boot camp which was amazing, I’d been open water swimming, life was busy but I was feeling like a superhero. Great things going on, then bam wham, woke up one morning a bit broken.

So back to just watching tv with the kids in the afternoons instead of dragging us all out for a walk, definitely less craft based activities (if any at all *shudder *). And I just could not run, I couldn’t even face the thought of putting my trainers on.

Then every thing slid downhill, my mood, my eating habits, how much I was drinking, then my sleeping. More evidence (if I needed it) that exercise is the key to my mental health.

Fast forward 3 weeks later (and a good few extra pounds), I felt just well enough to put my kit on and my children were being just annoying enough that the thought of 30 minutes of quiet and fresh air on my own was enough to get me out of the door.

And I didn’t die. I didn’t go very fast or very far but I ran. And I got home and I felt 10 million times better than I had in the past 3 weeks. So I was wondering, was I just feeling better generally or did the run make me better? If I had gone out when I really didn’t feel like it last week or the week before would I have felt better then too?

Runners World say no
https://www.runnersworld.com/health/should-you-run-when-youre-sick
Womens Running say it depends
http://womensrunninguk.co.uk/health/should-you-run-when-youre-ill/
Runners Connect actually looked at science
https://runnersconnect.net/does-running-with-a-cold-impair-health-or-performance-the-research-is-examined/

Boringly the answer is straightforward and very obvious, you have to listen to your own body and do what feels right for you. I know, annoying isn’t it.

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Triathlon #2 – The Revenge – Straight Outta The Water

Straight outta the water

So much has happened since my last post 2 months ago. In that time our business Worry Less Design had its first trade exhibition and 2 weeks later we had signed up for our first longer length triathlon at Hever Castle (part of the Castle Triathlon Series).

The trade event went amazingly well but TOTALLY overtook our lives, the weeks prior were spent ordering in all the new products we were going to exhibit along with furniture and literature/price lists, our outfits, somewhere to stay, transport etc etc. And the weeks since then, brilliantly, (unbelievably!) have been spent packing and shipping orders to all the lovely gift shops who ordered our mugs, greetings cards and water bottles (check out our ranges for triathletes, cyclists and runners here. Plus in the same period we were approached by a fairly large online sports retailer who want to stock us – more on that on our website soon (side note – OMG!!!!)

So understandably, although frustratingly, and despite our best intentions (see last post) training in the period up to the Triathlon took a bit of a hit. We managed a couple of rides together, some runs and some garden bootcamps but not many open water swims. And the summer holidays definitely slowed the frequency of training and increased our girths (I’m calling it “school holiday spread”).

We’d signed up for a Sprint – so 400m swim, 20k bike ride and 4k run. Individually not very terrifying but together a whole different story.

We were also a Tri-sista down (knee problems prohibiting running so transferred to the 2.5km open water swim at the same venue instead – a ridiculous distance to swim if you ask me! And she aced it)

And I was full of cold, had been all week, and mentally had totally convinced myself I just wasn’t going to do it. But when the day came, we woke up in our slightly creepy Airbnb room down the road from the castle and just got up and went and did it.

Well I say that. The venue was beautiful, the organisation was fantastic, the marshalls and race briefings amazing.  We (in mandatory wetsuits due to the water temperature), lined up cheerfully and a bit excited:

 

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I jumped in the water, sank knee deep in the mud, the whistle blew and I promptly completely forgot how to swim.

Now, having had a month or so to reflect, there were a number of factors, I hadn’t been swimming outside for a while and certainly not in a wetsuit, there was a degree of faffing before getting in the water so I didn’t give myself chance to acclimate before setting off, it was my first ever open water mass start and then there were just general race nerves. Following a rudimentary web search, it’s apparently very common for triathletes (such as I, ha ha) to lose their sh*t in the swim section, so I at least I am not alone.

I made it through though, it wasn’t pretty, there was some breast stroke in there I am not going to lie. But I got to transition and then the bike and run were relatively incident free (highlights/lowlights were the rock choir half way round the ride – I nearly cycled into a wall – and the final hill of the run where I swear I was actually just running on the spot at one point despite all my best efforts)

But it wasn’t a euphoric finish line moment for me, I actually burst into tears. A little bit of disappointment in myself, a little bit relief, a little bit running a temperature I think. We then had the best doughnuts of my whole life and settled down to watch Tri-sista #1 swim 2.5 km in the same lake (Note: she didn’t forget how to swim, she is a bloody fish).

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Does running out of f**cks count as cardio?

triathalon 8 weeks (1)

Found by one of the Trisistas (original origin tbd, as soon as I know, I will update), this is the training plan we are following in preparation for the Hever Castle Sprint Triathlon which is now in 5 weeks time. (bold and underline = growing fear)

With 5 weeks to go, we decided to start at Week 3 and the results after 1 week is that it’s been less of a plan, more of a advisory guideline….

I managed a Strength session on Monday (Bodypump), then a 1 hour Bike on Tues, a 45 Run/45 Bike on Weds and a 40 minute Swim on Thurs. Definitely resting today then Swim/Run tomorrow morning.  So when I say guideline, really we are ignoring it completely but using it as motivation (read fear) to actually get off our arses and do something every day.

It’s Friday though and I am absolutely shattered, maybe looking at the numbers above, I’ve started off too hard, or I need to build up some more stamina or that doing this around 2 small shouty children is extra hard? *written hopefully*

The best news I have to report is that on the Saturday preceeding the start of the “plan” we swam the lake of the freak-out and I’m pleased to report no repeat occurence. I’ve open watered (a verb no-one is using but really should) a couple of times since the freak-out with varying degrees of trepidation and success. The key thing I’ve realised is getting my face in the water early. There is something about swimming in not-bright-blue-swimming-pool water that mentally causes my brain to shut down and decide it just can’t breathe out under there. So the trick I’ve learnt is to just get my face in early and breathe big long blowy breaths out before even attempting some proper swimming. Annoyingly this was the advice we were given way back at our first open water swim. I guess I’m a slow learner.

 

Blah Blah Blah Go Workout

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Life is busy.
When I found myself doing a mini boot camp (thank you to Pure Circuits for your motivational Facebook post this morning) in my bedroom in my pyjamas (plus sports bra) while the toddler terrorists watched Cbeebies, I got thinking about all the things I have done in order to shoehorn some kind of fitness into my life.
I refuse to believe these celebrities who claim “just running around after their kids” helped the baby weight “just fall off”, in my experience childcaring is exhausting but only in a mental sleep deprived way not in the helping me tone up and work off that last hobnob kind of way.
And it’s just as hard if not harder if you work. I had a friend who used to do 20 squats in the toilets in her office every time she went for a wee because she was so terrified about how little she moved during the day! Others eat their lunch at 11.30, then race to a gym to workout for 45 mins, shower and get back to their desk within their lunch hour (albeit slightly pinker/more glowy in the face department).
This merited a bullet point list (and underlining)
Things i have done to fit fitness in my life:
  • Got up pre-dawn to run or swim before the mini-krackens awake and get back in time for the husband to escape to work
  • Changed into running gear during teatime so the minute husband walks in I can run out of the door to run or ride
  • Gone to bootcamps that welcome children (all well until kracken 2 will not accept being strapped into a pushchair with a biscuit any more and morphs overnight into one of those “looks at you and runs away” type of children)
  • Done a mini boot camp at home/in the garden with children (see photo of 3 year old attempting plank below).
  • Gone to a playground with a big park attached with a similar minded friend and taken turns running laps/ pushing swings.
  • Bribed my mother to babysit (i.e. not telling her until she shows up then just “popping out” for a quick run)
  • Paid babysitters, nieces and next door neighbours – not for alone time with my husband or a pampering session but to get out the door and get a lovely long not rushed exercise session.
  • Driven krackens to preschool/childminder, then left my car there and run 2 miles home,  then reversing at pick up (ok in the spirit of full disclosure, I so wish this was true, I really want to do it and I keep meaning to do it but have not yet managed it)
  • Exercised during work hours, luckily being self employed and with my business partner being a fellow Trisista, this is a regular occurence (except when it is raining – she doesn’t like the rain)
  • Taken considerable advantage of an understanding and amenable husband who doesn’t seem to mind me disappearing at the crack of dawn on weekend mornings to ride or swim
  • Exercised smarter, so interval training, hill training, speed training are the order of the day rather than endurance/long runs.
  • Anyone tried a running buggy? I always wanted to – there is a great lady on insta @runningbuggies who makes it look amazing.
All worth it.
I feel better when I’ve exercised.
I am a more tolerant, patient and strangely more energetic mum when I have done some exercise.
Plus my children (the krackens) are growing up with exercise as part of their lives and hopefully won’t grow up to be large sloths who barely move.
Can’t be bad can it?
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PS Water Bottle available from here.

If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen

If its not on strava

 

It’s one of Worry Less Design’s most popular Greetings Cards and the phrase pops up on Google and Pinterest anytime you are minded to search for Funny and Cycling at the same time. But it was only while I was sitting in my full running kit at the bottom of my stairs waiting for Strava to download onto my new phone before I would even consider leaving the house that I truly understood what it meant and why people are so passionate about it.

Strava, Garmin, Fitbit, whatever your tracker of choice, for some reason it adds a little something to your effort in getting out of the door. Whether it be at the crack of dawn or after a hard day at work or when you have finally managed to barricade the toddler terrorists into their bedrooms and their father has appeared home from work. You feel like someone out there CARES that you are going for a run and not only that but will tell you how far you went, how fast (or slow) you went and sometimes even congratulates you.

And then, in the case of Strava at least (sorry other types of tracker users, maybe they do too but I don’t know), people who follow you on Strava can also congratulate you by giving you a Kudos. I remember saying that to my friends at school a million years ago and we thought we were the coolest (but then I also said Brillsie a lot instead of Brilliant), so yay for Strava being all retro.

Then you get a weekly summary of Km covered, you can monitor your speed per Km, elevations of your route and brilliantly (or brillsiantly as my 13 year old self would have said) you can see where you rank for certain stretches/segments against other Strava users.

I recently discovered one long 1.8km uphill stretch near my house which has been named the Winslade Road Climb on Strava (curiously the road isn’t called Winslade Road but it is definitely a climb). So far this year I have run it 14 times and not thought anything of it other than “bloody hell will this hill never end?” Then last week, Strava tells me I have done it in my fastest time yet (I even got a virtual trophy – love you Strava) and as I read through the stats I saw that I am also the 19th fastest person EVER up this hill. Well, there was the gauntlet, right there.  2 more attempts later, I recruited my sister and we’ve climbed the leader board to 17th and we’ve only got to improve it by another 7 secs to get to 15th.  We’re having another go today. Competitive much?

As our cycling training kicks in and we are doing longer distances and Sportives and whatnot, the Strava record of your ride is a badge of honour, not of the speed (although it is important) but a chest beating record of how far you went this time and a spur to go further next time.

If it’s not on Strava, it definitely didn’t happen. Fact.

Try Tri – First Triathlon

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We did our first Triathlon. We are officially Triathletes!

It was a baking hot Sunday a few weeks ago. We picked the novice baby distances – a Super Sprint- 200m swim, 10k bike ride, 2.5k run.

The venue was a local school with its own indoor swimming pool, then the ride was out and about on local lanes and then a 2.5km route around the school grounds. The fear was very real that morning, packing and repacking my stuff.

I want to describe exactly what happened and how it was set up because the night before I was Googling and Pinteresting trying to find info on how it was all going to work so I could stop worrying about it and I wish I could have found something like this to calm my nerves, or make it worse? Who knows….

We arrived, faffed about a bit and jigged on the spot and chatted. Then ambled off to get changed into our Tri suits and ambled back. All of which meant we left it very late to get set up in Transition so it was a bit of a stress getting a space. There was a steward helping people out but eventually we had to just shift some people’s stuff over from earlier waves so we could get a spot. Let alone worry about Transition area location strategy. Remember for next time: don’t hang about, get set up early.

Then a briefing by the organisers, we were assigned a specific time/wave to start in – because of the pool swim they were restricted to numbers in each wave so no mass start – but this meant the briefings were very personal and you could ask questions which was great. Everyone was very friendly, there were lots of newbies there and we didn’t feel intimidated at all.

Then over to the Swimming Pool to be briefed again and given our timing ankle bands (which you wear for the whole event). We had managed to book in as a Team so there were just the 3 of us in our lane. Any fear about my swimming capability was allayed after watching the wave before us, there were people of all levels of swimming, some even breaststroking. We had decided to wait for each other so we would transition together, my sisters only had to wait for a length and a half for me to catch them up (Go me) and we jogged to Transition together.

I’d researched layout of kit in Transition obsessively but on the day (and for my level of competition) you just need to lay your stuff out logically and neatly. A small towel to dry your feet with and stand on when you are putting your shoes on was my win of the day.

Jogging along with your bike (the iconic mental image of transition) is actually a bit hard, you have to kind of trot – Christie was so worried about it before the event, she was practising (check out our Instagram page for video here). It was a nice ride, a couple of big hills but nothing too bad. The Tri-suit dried out really fast too. Then back into Transition, shed the bike and the helmet, change shoes and put on a cap (my secondary win of the day, not having to faff about with a hair band) to run the 2.5k. Legs felt a bit heavy by this point and the whole body a little bit jelly at first but soon eased into it. Our family supporters were all there hollering and cheering for the last ½k and I ended up running across the line carrying my youngest so it wasn’t exactly a sprint finish!

It was an amazing feeling though and the adrenaline high lasted for a good couple of hours. Then a crash later on in the day and an extended lie down with demands for things to be brought to me was required.

We’ve already signed up for another one, a Sprint (double the distances) and this one has an outdoor swim so wet suits and a mass swim start. Bring it on.

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Ermahgerd Werter

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I have been open water swimming 3 times plus a quick dip in a very chilly Devon sea back in June. Every time it has been very different and not just in terms of location.

The first time was just terrifying and cold! I wrote about it here.

The second time was at an open water swim seminar run by Human Race events which was a structured session with lots of other novices, really interesting and useful (separate post to come).

The third and most recent time was a Tri-sistas trip to Ellingham lakes at the butt-early (a technical term) time of 6am.

The lake is beautiful, surrounded by trees, the sun was shining and the water warm enough that really we could have done without our wetsuits.

So it should have been easy right? All my swimming lessons, all the crack of dawn mornings in the pool.

We all sauntered in (after all we are pro’s now right?) and my sisters immediately started swimming like fishes. I, on the other hand, almost immediately completely forgot how to swim. I couldn’t remember how to breathe, I couldn’t put my face in the water, I doggy paddled and I panicked.

Our plan to swim the entire lake loop of 1200m seemed impossible and I very nearly turned around and got out. Luckily I have the best sisters in the world and they cajoled and coaxed me to at least try to swim to the first buoy, 20 strokes at a time.  It was so hard.  Every time I got into a semi rhythm, some thought or thing, like seeing how far we still had to go, or a duck, or another swimmer powering by, would pop me out of it and I would panic and stop and have to hyperventilate for a bit. Both sisters would then stop as well and we’d have a little chat while I calmed down and then we set off again.

It must have been  torture for them, stopping and starting, but they were incredibly patient. I can’t say I ever completely got my mojo back but I made it all the way around. I only really felt confident in my swimming ability at the very end ( when the pier was in sight and that was possibly because the pier was in sight).

I don’t really know what happened, perhaps I was overconfident,  perhaps too much wine the night before (can you sense a theme of drinking slightly too much in these posts?) perhaps too little sleep. But it’s knocked my confidence a bit.  I just need to get back out there, be better prepared mentally and WORRY less swim more.

Also as an aside, I was physically knackered that whole day and the next and couldn’t work out why until I realised 1200m is the equivalent of 48 lengths, further than I’ve ever swam before. So that’s something.

And another aside, the wetsuit chafing really got me this time, super painful rubbing on the back of my neck. The verdict: I’m not twisting my body enough and I need some lube…

Sportive

It’s been a while since last writing and a lot has happened in that time (part of the reason for not posting, catch 22…..well yes)

We’ve done our first big cycle ride (the Sportive, more below), an open water swim seminar, bought wetsuits and tri suits and individually swum an open water endurance race (totally wasn’t me), freaked out during a lake swim (totally was me), done a cycle/run, and signed up for our first super sprint triathlon (now only than 2 days away, only mediumly terrified ). I’m exhausted just writing about it.

The Sportive was a family affair. A sportive, for those who might not know (i.e. me) is a short, medium or long distance (i.e. you can pick which one you want to do) mass-participation cycling event. The tri-brother and sister in law and tri-brother nephew are super keen cyclists and suggested we might want to form a peloton, basically we could hide behind them and hope no one noticed we weren’t really cyclists.

It wasn’t much different from signing up to a running race, there were different distances to choose from (we were doing the 27 miler but there were options all the way up to 122 miles, which seems ridiculously far but apparently popular and evidently achievable in less than a day), it started stupid early on a Saturday morning somewhere far away and you really shouldn’t drink too much wine or eat a curry the night before (almost universally ignored by the family peloton).

But the differences did begin to become apparent on the morning of the event. There is an awful lot more faffing required to get 6 cyclists and more importantly their bikes on the road. And apparently it’s ok to stop for a big breakfast on the way there, at least according to the tri-brother, something I would never dream of doing before a running race. And then there’s the very relaxed approach to start times, no “synchronise your watches” mass start here. You are given a window of time and you can basically set off whenever you like within that window.

The ride was great fun, we did the Wiggle Sussex Gran Fondo,  lovely views, big hills. It’s tricky keeping track of where everyone in your group is but we managed to stay together for most of it. I found sharing the road with car drivers quite stressful, especially on some of the fast roads. And I was also conscious that not long ago I would have been one of those car drivers and would have been middling to extremely grumpy about being held up by a “stupid” cycling race. A weird dichotomy.  Half way round there was a feed station stocked with bananas and energy drinks and cakes and jelly beans. Everyone stops, eats, chats.  It doesn’t feel like a race. Odd feeling for a runner where usually you are trying to drink a cup of water while actually running (and mostly missing your mouth too).

We finished in around 2 hours (once it didn’t seem like a race I stopped really paying attention). And it was hard! Especially the last half an hour. Having only cycled for maximum an hour before, there were muscles in my legs, torsos and arms that were quite unhappy but thankfully my gel padded shorts did most of the trick in the groin department.
When we got off our bikes, the 3 of us attempted a small jog which was a weird feeling. Very numb rubbery legs. A taste of the brick training we really should have done some of before the Triathlon in a couple of days…..ho hum

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The family peloton post race (check out the Tri-sister in laws cycle jersey!)

Running a new town – San Diego

run this townWe blagged a 5 day expedition to SD a couple of weeks ago. My sister was going already for 3 days for her real work but I tagged along and we extended and got to spend a couple of days on the beach.

Going to the US is expensive at the moment, the exchange rate is shocking and La Jolla where we stayed for the non-work part even more so. I don’t think we managed a meal under £50 include breakfast and don’t get started on the price of a glass of wine. We resorted to storing gin and tonic and snack things in our hotel room fridge and ate a lot of Cheetos – so orange, so fake and so good.

The best bit of the trip away (and I can’t actually believe I’m writing this and the “me of 10 years ago” is face palming and making an eejit face at the “me with 2 kids today” for being such an exercise dork) was being able to exercise every day without having to worry about who was going to look after the toddler terrorists and all the associated guilt that comes with.

So we ran, we swam, we went to the hotel gym, sometimes all on the same day. It was amazing (we also ate a lot of orange crisps and drank a lot of gin, we’re not completely crazy).

Without doubt the absolute best bits were the 2 early morning runs we did at the very beginning of the week, first day heading south and the second heading north following the coast from our beach side hotel in La Jolla.

Neither of us are good jet lag dealers so we were up stupid early both days.

Day 1 was foggy and a bit chilly and we couldn’t get to the coast south bound unless we ran along an enormous Californian highway for the first mile but when we got on the coast path a weird fishy smell and a quick peer over the cliffs rewarded us with Sea lions, then Pelicans and then Seals, we jigged about with happiness for a bit and took terrible photos – see end.

Day 2 took us North to try and get to the more remote surfer beaches, this involved an enormous hill to start along with the obligatory 4 lane highway, then one of those decisions every runner has faced….do or die. Do we run down this unsigned roadway that looks like it might end up at beach? Or do we turn around and run back down the miserable road? We took the risk, it was a very long way down, increasing trepidation that we were going to have to run back up again (and it was a long way) but then were reassured halfway by the sight of one a SD surfers trudging up the enormous hill and importantly still slightly damp. The beach was beautiful, the waves enormous, the surfers awesome. And an only mediumly terrifying scramble across the rocks at high tide gave us a good couple of k back along the beach (how and why is beach running sooo hard?)

It was amazing to see how busy the beaches in La Jolla were even on a slightly chilly day, there were Surfers, Stand-up paddleboarders, open water swimmers, scuba divers, kayakers, people playing Frisbee, joggers, dog walkers, people doing Yoga…..mental

Running in a strange city must be one of the best ways to get off the beaten track and see bits of it mere non-running mortals never get to. Totally recommend it.

Other random things we learnt

  • Sleepy tablets on a night flight are a good thing
  • Californian brunches are a good thing – although everything comes with fruit. Even savoury dishes….
  • Swimming outdoors is ace
  • American running machines work in miles/hour not km/hour. There was one terrifying moment when I thought I’d lost all my running mojo then realised I was trying to run at 10mph rather than 10km an hour.
  • Lavender margaritas are not a good thing

Go in hard, come out wet – Open Water Swimming Part 2

Go in hard

(This isn’t where we swam but it’s pretty though right? Sorry about the rude quote but it made me laugh quite a lot)

The strangest part of Open Water Swimming was getting out. Part of me didn’t want to get out, I wanted to keep practising. But the other (sensible) part of me wanted very badly to be warm and to be able to feel my cheeks again.

I found out if you take your wetsuit off straight away while it is still wet, it is actually fairly easy, but there are tricks to it (roll down then pull over the extremity in one go) and it is definitely going to need practice (i.e. transition, blah blah blah). Once we were out and free of the neoprene though, we all felt weirdly flat and subdued. Not exhilarated like I thought we would. A bit spacy and weird.

After negotiating the tiny changing rooms with about 8 thousand other equally cold women (whose advice was not to shower straight away as it does not help to warm you core it just warms your skin) and rueing my decision to wear skinny jeans (cold damp legs do not an easy-jean-putting-on experience make – note: bring tracksuit bottoms next time), we then all started to feel nauseous, headachy and slightly sea sick.

A big fry up didn’t fix it and it was a good couple of hours and some ginger nut biscuits before I started to feel normal again.

Some research uncovered that this is a pretty normal, something to do with cold water in your inner ear affecting your balance. Suggestions include wearing neoprene swim caps (sometimes 2 if it’s really cold), wearing earplugs, eating ginger (aka ginger nuts) or just plain pharmaceutical support. Nothing about the weird subdued feeling though, perhaps anti-climax?

We’re doing an Open Water Swim Seminar at Eton Dorney this weekend so it will be interesting to find out more.

I’ve now bought a wetsuit and some swim socks (leaving the neoprene cap for now) and also am interested to find out how swimming in a sports bra is going to be…….

The more I’ve thought about the experience, it has felt equivalent to running outside compared to running on a treadmill or cycling outside compared to a stationary bike. Swimming in a normal pool is going to feel just a little bit tame from now on.