Saturday, 25 April 2020

New running shoes and new SwimRun kit on its way

I decided to upgrade my trusty ASICS GT-2000 Series 7 to the new Series 8. I had run about 600km in my old shoes but had started to get some Achilles niggles wearing them, which normally prompts me into a purchase. Fortunately I get a half-price pair from Runners Need via my Vitality life insurance benefits. So these beauties cost me £60 rather than the retail £120:

Anyway, they seem pretty good during my first run so they will be my default training shoes going forward - best to stick to what you know works!

I also ordered the start of my SwimRun gear, which I hope I will get an opportunity to use for my scheduled A-Race in Loch Lomond at the end of August. I am looking forward to receiving some  Saloman trail shoes that are specifically designed for the SwimRun event - light and have water drainage holes.

I have my eye on a Westsuit but unfortunately they do not have my size at the moment.

Talking of my size, this lockdown might be doing good for my fitness levels but I am not doing myself any favours on the weight goal (I definitely need to lose 2-4 kg over the coming months). My weekend drinking (not in excess but enough!) is now more like daily drinking. The snacks that go with the glass of wine or gin & tonic, salted nuts, crisps, cheese etc. add to the problem.

I need to take action and stop talking about it - let's hope I can share some progress on the weight front over the coming weeks.

That is it for now - I plan a fast run today (only 30 mins) and a bike ride with my Fiancee tomorrow. Volume generally down a bit this week.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Progress report

So what have I been up to in the last 12 days...

Despite the lockdown and not knowing what day it really is, I cannot complain. I am happy, healthy, working, being paid, exercising regularly (good bit), drinking/eating more (bad bit), missing my friends/family and going out for adventures further afield. On the whole, I am defintely one of the lucky ones.

So looking at my Strava record since my last post I have completed 4 rides (about 200km in total) and 2 runs, albeit one was a half-marathon challenge.

I chose what I thought was a relatively interesting and flatish course for the half-marathon challenge to try to ensure a decent time, however ended up getting a little lost by opting for an off-road detour rather than run a smallish hill that looked like it could slow me down and reduce my average pace. In the end the off-road section probably slowed me down more and my average pace for the whole run was a little disappointing at 5:01 mins per km and an overral time of 1:46:13.

The next day my legs did feel heavy, although I managed a longish cycle ride so was quite pleased with that. That kind of volume felt a little bit like the old days, however it was only for a couple of days. I used to be able to continue that kind of daily volume for the rest of the week. Anyway, given my overall fitness and current circumstances I cannot moan.

I know that my training needs to become more specific over the summer months with the focus on swimming and running but for now I am quite happy with building some decent base fitness and slightly increasing the volume.

All good.

I am just about to go out for another 10km run, exploring new trails and testing out my Garmin navigation functions.

Stay safe out there.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Garmin status 'Peaking' - ready to race (not)

So my current training status on Garmin is 'Peaking', which is normally an indication that you have a short window when fitness is high, training load has been reduced, so you are in good position to race!

Ha, race... that would be wonderful, however very difficult in current lockdown scenario plus I still don't really feel race ready!

Anyway, at least I am getting out and exercising a bit (generally within government's guidelines).

So more of the same this week, alternating between 30-45km cycle rides and 5-12km runs. I have said it before, and I will say it again.... I need to mix it up a bit and include some higher intensity sessions and a bit of strength work.

Over the coming weeks my attention will turn to getting myself some gear for my forthcoming SwimRun event (if it is not cancelled) and once the lockdown restrictions are relaxed some open swimming in sea/lake.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Initial review of Garmin Fenix 6 plus (titanium)

So... I promised some initial 'words of wisdom' on my new Garmin Fenix 6 and recent upgrade to the previously owned Garmin Forerunner 935.

First question... was it worth the upgrade.

Well, 'yes and no'. The Forerunner 935 was an amazing watch and despite opting for the titanium version of the Fenix 6, the 935 is still considerably lighter.

There is quite a lot of extra tech in the Fenix 6 but it is relative, the 935 was also a high-spec bit of kit.

In this initial review I am not going into all the 'pros and cons' and the complete functionality of the watch, there are hundreds of YouTube reviews that do this much better than I can.

So I am going to focus on my top 3 reasons why personally I do believe the upgrade was worth it, maybe not totally necessary, but certainly makes me smile:

  1. Firstly, it is simply the looks - the 935 wasn't an ugly watch but I think the Fenix 6 is very attractive. I love that I can change the watch strap easily - in addition to the standard orange Garmin rubber strap, the watch came with, I purchased a couple of straps on Amazon: the blue/white rubber strap (shown below) and a brown leather one for evenings out. As it is my main watch I wanted something that looked good, whatever the occasion.
  2. Secondly, I love that I have my favourite running playlist downloaded to the Fenix 6 and once connected to my Jabra Sport bluetooth headphones it means I don't necessarily need my phone when running. OK, so I cannot take calls or take advantage of the incident detection functionality but I can live with that on a short run.
  3. Finally, the interface is that much more user-friendly, especially when scrolling through widgets/apps and the screen much larger with options to display more stats.
I cannot wait to try out a longer trail run and make use of the more detailed maps/navigation. Also I want to try out the Garmin coaching plans. Lots of other functionality to play around with. I will probably post a further review after a few months in and living with my new baby.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Isolation Duathlon

We were schedule to have our first Club race of the year last week, a short duathlon (5km run, 20km cycle and 3km run). Of course the Coronavirus and resulting lockdown put a stop to that. However, being a resourceful, generally highly driven bunch of triathletes we came up with an alternative event.

Over 3 days (respecting government guidelines on daily exercise) I logged the three respective activites trying to achieve decent (race) times, albeit the wind made that very hard. My choice for the first 5km up on the Downs (hills + fierce winds) was really not the best location! Anyway, it was less about the speed and more about the completion.

So my scores on the doors:

5km Run - 24:40 (average pace 4:55 per km)
19.2km Cycle - 38:09 (average speed 30.7 km/h)
3km Run - 13:12 (average pace 4:23 per km)

Total 1:16:01

Obviously there was no transitions to worry about.

I decided to look back at my previous attempts at the Club short duathlon (covering exactly the sames distances but with transitions):

2008: 1:13:05
2009: 1:14:37
2010: 1:12:21
2014: 1:08:48

Oh dear..... that doesn't look too good! I reckon I could have knocked a good couple of minutes off because of the wind but then should have saved on transitions/rest overnight!

Certainly not race fit - a long way to go!

Friday, 27 March 2020

Return to 'Productive' Training

So what day is it.... a quick look at my Garmin Fenix 6 and I see it is Friday, day 4 of lockdown - how is everyone doing?

I must say that despite my reservations about the global shutdown it does have a number of benefits - may be it is simply the better weather and sight of the sun but it does actually feel like the world is healing a bit. When I get out for my daily exercise it feels that much fresher, greener and obviously less busy - nice.

I am going to start off this morning with a Joe Wicks morning workout (something to do with the family). Later today I am going to get in a trail run, now the South Downs is less muddy.

Unfortunately swimming at the pool is likely to be cancelled for another couple of months but that doesn't stop me swimming in the lake/sea (social distancing of course), although at the moment a little bit too cold - on the radar screen for mid to late April.

I have also been able to cycle, just a few local loops but lovely when the sun is out. My training status on the Garmin watch has returned to 'Productive' indicating my fitness is improving and I have got the balance better on fitness and load. I still need to add in some shorter high intensity workouts, especially when the load is high and adding another long run/cycle at 'Pegler' pace has little to no benefits - although to be honest, none of my workouts seem long, 80% are between 30 - 90mins.

So like most people.... I am hanging on in there, trying to adjust to the lockdown and recommended restrictions. For now, I am so pleased that exercise is still allowed, and it hasn't stop my training, in fact it is a really good opportunity to get much more into it - always a silver lining!

Thursday, 19 March 2020

The world has gone bonkers!

I know it is my personal view (well it is my blog!) but I think the world has gone totally bonkers...

I do understand the severity of the Coronavirus and I certainly get the unprecedented domino effect and economic impact, however are we simply going too far? Would this have been better handled by letting everyone get the virus and then putting down the resulting deaths to a new strain of flu, that was worse than normal years - terrible indeed but we build immunity and move on. I am not sure of the numbers but there must be 10x more people dying from cancer and even car accidents and suicide.

Anyway, this is not a political blog so onto the important stuff, training...

Well, last week was as disappointing as other recent weeks. I am maintaining a minimum level of training, even with a specific SwimRun bias, however it simply is not moving the needle and this time my general fitness is not even good enough to get me to the start line, never known the finish!

There was a few little successes - first a decent SwimRun bias swim set, using paddles and pull-buoy, a relatively fast 8km local loop and more than the average cups on Strava (cycling commute). In addition, last evening I managed to get to a Wednesday 90 min swim - first for many years.

So what next, at this time of self-isolation exercise (for as long as we can). Well, the Club swim is off so finding a pool that is open could be a challenge. The sea/lake is a bit cold yet! My office time has been drastically reduced (80% working from home) so my commute time has gone the same way. However, for as long as I can, getting out to exercise will be one of my priorities over the coming weeks. So who knows, my training hours may even increase. Combine that with not going out eating/drinking and possible future rationing (now that would be grim) - I might even lose some weight.

There is always a silver lining!

P.S. Still loving the new Garmin Fenix 6 (review coming soon) although all my last sessions have been 'unproductive' and it says my training load is too much - I cannot believe that!

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Markets collapsing (also my training)

So I work in the financial industry - as a Chartered Wealth Manager. Let me tell you, if you don't already know..... it has not been a good week.

Markets are collapsing, Trump has just banned European flights (ex UK) to the US for 30 days, Tom Hanks has got Coronavirus, Boris could close all the schools in the UK..... not good at all.

Unfortunately, my training seems to have gone the way of the markets. I have been so caught up in this whirlwind of news that I seem to have forgotten about my plan and exercise commitments, and that is despite the arrival of my lovely new Garmin Fenix 6, which I thought would give me a new impetus to get out on those trails.

To be honest, the weather has remained pretty grim, and when I did venture out on my local trails it was a total bog-fest. However, that should not have stopped me running on the roads and getting in that pool, all vital training for my SwimRun event in late August.

As the spread of this Coronavirus continues it might mean I am working from home a little more - you would thought this increases my chance of exercise, however I have got into a bit of a routine of using my commute as a bit of a training session - it also gets me out of the door earlier and provides that morning exercise window, which personally works best for me.

So....more effort needed, if my routine has to change so my exercise program has to adapt to. Let's just hope they don't have to shut the pool!

My eating habits also need to be improved - I tend to have a healthy diet, however snacking and more drinking (alcohol) has an ever increasing part of my day to day living, which isn't going to help, especially when my exercise levels drop. You can see why people get into a 'vicious circle' so quickly.

What am I going to do about it....

Well I certainly need to log a couple of runs/swims over the next few days. I also need to schedule some longer distances runs, book a few events and also add in the speed/strength work - all have been lacking!

I also need to provide a quick review on the Garmin Fenix 6, which I am loving.

Keep safe out there!

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

New kit on its way - new Garmin Fenix 6

I love my tech, especially tech that I get a buzz using everyday and I believe makes me more productive/efficient. Top of my list (even above my smart phone) is my Garmin wearable(s) - over the years I have upgraded whenever I have been able to afford the next model. I normally hold off for 6 months+ and wait for the price to drop a bit.

So I finally got around to ordering the new Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (the lighter titanium model) to replace my Forerunner 935, which has done a stellar job. Even though I have opted for the lighter titanium model it is still heavier than my Forerunner, which I hope is not going to be a problem during my long runs - will I notice it more? I have read countless reviews on the watch and think it should all be good but I will not sell my trusty Forerunner until I am sure the Fenix 6 works for me.

Anyway, I will leave a formal review of the watch until I have it in my person and used it for a couple of weeks.

Otherwise, training is slow and I am yet to fully commit to the increased volume and measures to bring down my weight by the target 0.5kg per week. It is now only 6 months to my 'A race' and I primarily need to build up my strength, swimming and trail running.

As the weather improves I can see this helping in getting me out there and enjoying the sea and the Downs, which are conventially on my doorstep - ideal for SwimRun training.

Until then I need to do what I can to keep up the motivation (hopefully this blog and checking in will help, as will my new Garmin).

For the rest of this week I need to get in  another 1-2 runs and a swim, at the very least.

Tomorrow I am up in London at a conference so my usual Thames run loop (along South bank and over Tower Bridge) is definitely on my 'to do' list.

Monday, 24 February 2020

The week ahead

This weather..... awful!

Anyway, no excuses. So the plan for the week ahead:

Mon - 30mins strength exercises
Tue - 60mins run - nice and easy, checking out Achilles
Wed - 90 mins cycle
Thu + Fri - Run/Swim (subject to how Tue goes)
Sat - strength exercises / Pilates
Sun - cycle

Not sure of total exercise time, ideally 6 hours+ but need to focus on more calorie expenditure than calories in and a reduction of at less 0.5kg in weight

Let's face the facts - I need to lose some weight!

Over the last year (or so) my weight has found a new level. OK, so I am not training for an Ironman and averaging 10-12 hours per week - at the moment I rarely hit 6 hours. However, the lack of higher intensity workouts and time with the weights, combined with a lot more wine, nibbles and sugary snacks has not helped.

So for years I ranged from 72-76kg (keeping below 12 stone). This meant I was probably a bit too thin and this was more my preferred race weight. Then for a good few years I was quite happy between 76-80kg (still in the 12-stone zone) and my 'sweet spot'. Now.... yes, you guessed it 80-84kg (into 13+ stone territory)!

Let's face the facts - I need to lose some weight!

The goal is to get back in the high 70s and stay there. So what is the plan?

Well, I am no monk but I cetainly need to reverse the trend and I think I need to commit to the following Dos / Don'ts

To Do:

  • 2-3 (shorter) intensity sets a week
  • 1-2 weight sessions a week, gain more muscle
  • Eat more protein and healthy fats
  • Drink more water
  • At the end of the day, consume slightly less calories than needed (taking into consideration exercise)

The Don'ts:
  • Keep the alcohol to the weekend and limit general consumption
  • Reduce processed food
  • Less carbs (I love bread),especially on non-workout days
  • Less nibbles (salted peanuts, crisps and cheese)
  • Less sugary foods (why do I need cake or chocolate with coffee?)

To be honest I have a relatively healthy diet and eat a good variety of food. I am not big into fast food. I eat more fish and chicken than red meat. I like salads and healthy fats such as avacado, nuts, olive oil etc. I also like fruit and most vegetables.

So it shouldn't be too hard, should it!!! I am aiming for a healthy 0.5kg reduction a week, so 6-10 weeks of weight loss would allow me to attain my goal.

I will keep you informed of my progress. 

Friday, 21 February 2020

CityWire video interview + update on training

I am just back from a video interview with CityWire - they are normally interested in my outlook on the stockmarkets (well, sometimes!) but on this occasion they were doing a piece on training for endurance events and asked me a few questions about my past challenges, training tips and what I had going on in 2020.

Once it is published I will add a link to my blog. It did make me think that I have actually come a long way over the last 10-15 years and I am far from finished yet!

It is amazing how swim/run/cycle training has become such a big part of my life - I simply need it. It gives me the juice to get through the day. It really is a drug, and very much the right kind.

Anyway, I managed to get in that extra swim yesterday - going in with a plan made it so much easier to complete, albeit in a public pool - quite differing abilities in the (fast) lane I swam in and a long way away from swimming with my Lane 4 Tri Club buddies. However, I got the job done, focusing on pull + paddles, which is key to my training for my Loch Lomond SwimRun challenge at the end of August.

This morning cycle commute was reasonably uneventful. I have the return commute later - lots of hill work (to get over the South Downs).

Tomorrow, if all goes to plan, it is back in the pool. No major progress with my Achilles injury, although my strength exercises have been lacking - note to self.... DO THEM!

To anyone that follows this blog....Have a great weekend

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Swim set for tomorrow - paddles + pull buoy (revised)

So this is the plan for tomorrow (I hope the pool allows me to use such toys in the public swim!):

Warm up + Technique (600m)

  • 200m warm up
  • 200m pull, bilateral breathing
  • 2x 50m single arm up, FC back
  • 2x 50m kick, FC back

Build (400m)
  • 4x 75m building the pace
  • 4x 25m 9/10 hard FC

Main (1,000m)
  • 400m paddles + pull 6/10 FC
  • 100m recovery
  • 400m paddles + pull 7/10 FC
  • 100m recovery

Cool Down (200m)
  • Mixed strokes

N.B. This has been revised from my original post - my swim buddy (Graeme) and partner in the Loch Lomond SwimRun event (also a Level 2 Triathlon coach) has recommended that I dial down the main set and use some 100m sets as recovery swims - the paddles adding enough load and making the set tough enough, at least for this time of the season and given my current swim fitness (not great) - don't want any more injuries!

SwimRun research + revised training schedule

An easy cycle commute this morning - I am very fortunate to live close to the South Downs so have a very scenic, albeit hilly, commute over the top of Devils Dyke. Back later this afternoon, hoping to dodge the rain.

I have had a re-think on my training schedule for the week - I didn't manage to get a swim in yesterday but hope to sort something tomorrow, trying out one of the local pools (probably go for King Alfred on the Brighton seafront) - I am not great swimming on my own but need to train with my pool buoy and paddles (I do like my toys) for my 'A' Race in September so will go in with a plan, which I hope will make sure I get in a decent swim. In 45-60mins I should aim for at least 2K.

It is pretty mad keep running with my Achilles niggles as I really need to rest it, whilst completing my daily strength exercises and stretches. Another week off of running is not going to scupper my training but long-term Achilles issues might!

Yesterday, I did have a Pilates session (thanks to my gorgeous partner who is training to be a Pilates instructor - useful to practice on me). My flexibility is pretty awful as is my strength for anything outside swimming, running and cyling - work needed there!

I am continuing my research of all things SwimRun - training videos, equipment, reviewing classic events etc. I have found a nice wetsuit (SwimRun specific) that looks like 'Batman' - not invested yet, but if I do will provide more details and that all important future equipment review.

So quick change to the training plan for this week:

Mon: 30mins tempo run [Done - probably shouldn't have run with Achilles niggles]
Tue: 60mins Pilates session
Wed: 90mins cycle commute [half-completed]
Thu: 60mins swim (paddles/pull-buoy)
Fri: 90mins cycle commute
Sat: 60mins Club swim
Sun: 90-120mins (optional) cycle

Note to self: not doing very well with the healthy eating + weight loss. My training will suffer if I don't lose 5-6kg over the coming months. Trying to target 0.5kg weight loss a week but keep it off. I am not making it easy for myself (watch out for excess: wine, salted nuts, sugary snacks, processed foods!)

Monday, 17 February 2020

Achilles niggles, SwimRun podcasts and the week ahead

I tried to give the ankles a rest last week and skipped my normal run set(s). This morning I tried a relatively easy out and back (turn on 15 mins) at sub 5mins per km pace. It was a bit of a miserable morning and for 5 mins I was caught in a sleet/rain downpour. Unfortunately, although I managed the run within the target zone, my Achilles were no better than last time I ran.

I have had this before and I generally know what to do - lots of strength exercises and stretching needed - a good 15 mins per day minimum with possible ice treatment. What do they say RICE (Rest - Ice - Compression - Elevation). In addition I might invest in a new pair of trainers (this has helped before) and upgrade my Asics GT-2000 from Series 7 to the new 8's. I normally like to change my trainers every 500-750km. My current Asics are coming up to the lower limit, although I thought I would have had a few more months in them yet. Fortunately I get a half-price pair through my Vitality life insurance scheme (points means prizes!), which means an investment of £60, rather than £120 (ouch!).

Once I sort the Achilles problem I look forward to getting back into some faster interval/tempo sets (to help with my 2020 goal of breaking 5km in under 20 mins) and then some hills/endurance sets to start building my running strength for my SwimRun event in Septemeber - the 'A' race.

I haven't bought any new kit for my SwimRun challenge yet, although hope to start making some investment in April/May (wetsuit, strap-on pull buoy, specialist footwear etc.) at which time I may also start consider some outdoor swimming (sea + lake). For now, I am starting to do some research about the events. I found a couple of interesting podcasts hosted by Dr Chatterjee, who I have a lot of respect for - I have read one of his books and looking forward to reading his other 2. Dr Chatterjee found SwimRun in 2019 and speaks very highly about the sport - not just about the discipline but the connection between the teams and with Mother Nature herself.

If you are into podcasts and want to know more about SwimRun I recommend you check out episode 73 and 96:

So in terms of training what have I got for the week ahead? A word of warning, I always seem to list more than I actually complete!

Mon: 30mins tempo run
Tue: 60mins swim (checking out local pool - solo swimming)
Wed: 90mins cycle
Thu: 30mins interval run
Fri: 90mins cycle
Sat: 60mins Club swim
Sun: 60mins easy run

So, if goes to plan (big 'if') then approx. 7 hours, which I would be more than happy with.

Not sure about the solo swimming, which I have struggled with before - generally little motivation to complete a session. I think my only chance is to go in with a specific set in mind. I do need to build my swimming up to at least 3x per week. The good news is I am likely to use paddles and pull buoy for my 'A' race so will train a lot more with these toys.

I will check back in soon to let you know how I did.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Here we go again! Let's talk about 2020 goals

I really am poor at publishing new posts - it has been 6 months since my last confession!

So quick round up (for anyone still listening) - probably just me. If so, this is my personal diary entry for 11th February 2020.

Let's start with the good news - I have had 2 blood tests since my prostate removal at the end of July and the PSA levels have come back with a reading of <0.01 suggesting the operation was successful and I am cancer free. All good!

So there has been a move back to normality, which of course involves swimming, running and cycling into the mix.

My training week tends to total 3-6 hours rather than the 8-14 hours back in my Ironman days but that is OK - I still love the sport and am finally thinking about some goals for 2020.

So here they are.....

- Improve my speed work and try to complete a 5K parkrun under the magic 20 mins
- Improve my strength (so important for an ageing 50+ year-old triathlete)
- 'A' race: SwimRun in Loch Lomond (end of August)
- 'B' races: considering endurance swim(s), long-distance run(s), 1-2 cycle sportives
- A few triathlon Club events
- Maybe a half-Ironman (let's see)

Like always, I have probably listed too much, and will come up short, however my 'A' race has been paid for and the date is firmly in the diary.

So, if I can get motivated again to continue with my blog I expect I will be coming back with a training plan to get me in shape for my SwimRun in August. It would also be nice to lose 3-4 kgs in the process, which would be good timing for my wedding photos. I get married to Lucy in September 2020.

Could be a very exciting year!

Link to the SwimRun event:

E-Bike adventure

I know, you must be thinking 'E-Bike adventure'.... that's it, he has finally given in to old age, no more 'Tri Hard Dave...