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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

2nd Race of the season - A bit less faffing!

So my 2nd race of the season was at Dorney Lake and was an F3 Events Supersprint. In the 10 years I have been doing triathlon I have never done this distance! 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run.

This was also be my first open water race of the season. With my next race in two weeks time at the same venue it felt like perfect preparation to go to the race site and feel comfortable as well as having a bit of a hit out in the same water and on the same tarmac!

This is a mass start swim at 8.30am. I arrived at 7am because I do like to faff a bit! Got myself all set up in transition and then started to warm up.

Wow 13 degrees is pretty cold! I was glad when the gun went and I could get going, or not! I found it quite difficult getting my arms moving as fast as I wanted and took a while to get going. Once I felt like I was moving better I then had to fight off a couple of guys who had clearly taken the completely wrong line and were now trying to swim into me as I headed for the exit! I don't surrender my position in the swim just cos you are a guy :)
Less faffing, yay! But a reminder that I need to focus whilst trying to get my wetsuit off! All in all much better
It's pancake flat at Dorney so it's Vollgas all the way! There was a pretty strong head wind for part of it but a nice tail wind too. It took me until the 2nd lap to really find my mojo but it was good to find it and have a faster 2nd lap
Lesson learned from the last race and this time I got my shoes on much easier, yay!
I'm still giving myself too much of a hard time for not being able to run at the pace I want to (despite only running properly now for 5 weeks) BUT I did manage to change that in this race, yay! I had to have stern words with myself about the pace and just focus on working hard and giving it 100% effort. I'm happy to say it feels much better to not beat yourself up and focus on doing the absolute best you can and try to relax and enjoy it.

Another pain free race = happy days, still things to improve on as always but I'm faffing less and making fewer mistakes so it's all going in the right direction :)

I finished 1st in my Age Group and 7th Overall.

Next race is back to Dorney Lake on 21st May for a Sprint Distance World Championship Qualifier

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Consistency Is Key

It can seem very daunting to make the right changes to live a healthier life. I think we are all to a certain extent impatient and looking for the outcome quicker than is healthy.

Most of the people I see have tried to change too many things in their life at one time. It usually leads to despondency and believing you can't actually achieve that healthier life.

My top tip is to be consistent with one thing. If you currently aren't moving at all, start there. Find one way to be active every day. Walk to work, walk at lunch time, set up a walking or 0-5k running group with friends or work colleagues. It's a great way to fit in that activity and make it a lot more sociable and usually a lot more fun!

I'm often asked "what's the best type of exercise for me to do?" The simple answer is anything that you actually ENJOY :) If you were a great swimmer as a kid, get back in the pool for 20 mins. If running was your thing, then get your trainers on and go and walk and run for 20 mins! If you have no idea what you enjoy, then find out what classes are on locally and try a different class every week, yoga, body combat, circuit training, Pilates anything that sounds appealing! You won't know what floats your boat until you try! Ask friends and colleagues what they enjoy and give that a go!

Or if you know that you are not eating nearly enough vegetables or too much of the sweet stuff then start there. Make one change until that change has become a habit, then move onto the next thing. Cutting back is much easier than cutting out when it comes to food or drinks. So have less chocolate per week but don't go into monk mode and try to survive off lentils and kale (unless you find that idea really exciting!)

So, now you have found something that is enjoyable and (a little challenging maybe!) then it's time to sow the seed of consistency.

Building consistency is about making it happen every day (even when you feel tired or grumpy!) In fact, especially when you feel like that! You don't have to workout for an hour a day and it's probably too much anyway if it's been a while since you last exercised regularly.
I don't know where the magic hour number came from but it's perfectly achievable to work out for less time and be healthier.

Adding variety to the forms of activity you choose is great if you are someone who hasn't quite found a type of exercise you adore (but I hope you do in this process!) Being with others, sharing in the fun and the challenges is a great way to keep you coming back for more! It makes us feel we are part of a team. I love swimming with my squad or I would spend a huge amount of time training on my own each week.

It's much easier to make exercise consistent in your life if you can achieve 20-30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week for the long term. The government guideline is for 2.5 hours of exercise a week and it's okay to build up to that if you aren't already exercising.

The key is to make it completely achievable so that you can be consistent for months and years not for just 6 weeks! Do less, more often and you will be surprised how quickly it becomes easier to do. Don't think about things too much, focus on what you want to achieve, make it happen and fully believe it will be a consistent part of your life.

These days everyone's lives are full and being consistent is easier when it's small manageable chunks of time. So make one change to your exercise or eating, be proud you have taken action and enjoy the process of feeling healthier.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Injury Update & 1st Race of the Year Done!

I can hardly believe that it's been 7 months since I last did a triathlon but yesterday it totally showed!

I usually race Duston Triathlon in April because it's only about 40 mins from home and the faster you swim, the later you start! So I get a bit of a lie in compared to previous years! It's also really good to get all the jitters and mistakes out of the way before races that really matter to me :)

I first did this race in 2009 and I've done it 4 times since then. It's so nice to turn up to a race where you know the venue and the course like the back of your hand, it should (!) stop all the jitters right!?

This winter I have worked extremely hard swim, bike and serious amounts of physio! Not so much the run :(

After an MRI in January 2017 I finally discovered I had a trigonum on my left heel (causing my Achilles pain) and I just needed intensive physio to strengthen the ankles. I thought my injury worries were over, but sadly not. The same day my consultant did a scan on my right leg to discover that after the Parkrun on 1st January I now had a 0.8cm tear in the Soleus. No running for two and a half months ensued!

Thankfully during this time my coach Michelle Dillon helped me keep my head in the game! I used every mental strength strategy I knew and found a lot more via the internet and Michelle! At least we knew my swimming and biking would improve :)

Leading into the race I had started a walk/run protocol from my physio on 22nd March and did my first continuous 20 minute run on 30th March! Cutting it really fine to do the race yesterday!!!

Onto the race....

I rocked up feeling not too nervous (very good and something I have really worked on)

I did all my usual prep, including a really good warm up and I feel good and only a little nervous, just enough, not over the line :)

I can only describe the swim as feeling like someone was pushing against my chest, making it really difficult to breathe properly and that started to make me worry a little. I had to fight hard not to panic and just keep swimming strong. Having to stop as the faster swimmers got in behind me is a bit of a pain but I guess the norm for a pool swim!
Normally I don't have anything to say about this but I think I did more faffing in this T1 than EVER before!!! Hey ho, this is why we have some practice races!
My contact lenses were almost coming out, which is not good when the first part of the course is downhill and you have to negotiate roundabouts!!! Thankfully within a minute or two I could see properly! I will ensure next time NO water get's into my goggles! After 5k we were unlucky and had to stop at a set of temporary traffic lights (thankfully our times were adjusted accordingly) then I struggled to clip in and get going again, I was now getting annoyed at myself! I struggled with my breathing again on the bike and it took me probably to the half way point to feel like I was riding the way I wanted to at the start, better late than never that my legs arrived!
I couldn't get my shoes on, I think it took me 3 attempts to throw my feet in! No wonder I had a blister at the end (!)
Thankfully my run legs felt great at the start (sound familiar!?) I was enjoying being able to push myself as hard as I could with no niggles holding me back. It's been 18 months since I have been able to push this hard on the run and I am just so grateful that I could even get this run done! The back end of the run I started to struggle but I stayed positive and reminded myself it was just a lack of hard running and to keep pushing. I am so proud of my commitment to my physio exercises, my legs feel stronger than ever and I am hopeful that at some point in the near future I will be able to run closer to the times I think I am capable of.

I was 3rd in my age group and 13th overall.

Next up is a Parkrun on 29th April to start to put some much needed speed into my little leggies! :)

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

On Track October

The relaxation is over and I am now back on it!

One of my main goals for this winter is to stay healthy and I am extremely happy to have hit the target in the first month! I learned a lot in the early part of this year battling constant chest infections and taking antiobiotics for weeks and weeks. I am keeping my promise to stick to the things that worked to keep me healthy from June to this point.

They are in brief:

  • Taking Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Yakult, Omega 3 (2,000mg) daily (yes it's a pain but it's all keeping me topped up)
  • Taking my Super Greens daily. It tastes like dirt (not selling it I know!) but it's a good boost of antioxidants, especially on days when I don't quite manage to eat enough greens! Synergy
  • Limiting alcohol! By that I mean one or two at the weekend. When I had 6 weeks with no alcohol in the summer, miraculously my chest infections stopped! 
  • Ensuring my diet has as much quality to it as I can manage, consistently
  • Keeping on top of my prehab so that my Achilles and I remain on speaking terms (we are currently on a break!)
My Achilles started giving me a few issues when I returned to running from Cozumel, which was pretty upsetting and a bit of a downer. Thankfully I know exactly who to go and see. I trotted off to London to see my Sports Medicine Consultant and he diagnosed that the Achilles was a bit inflamed and said that sometimes if you take a total break the Achilles does get grumpy! So basically I can never have time off from the prehab exercises!

I have not run for 2 weeks and I'm taking anti-inflammatory tablets, wearing an anti-inflammatory patch at night and taking antibiotics! I have also resumed the heavy calf loading that my Achilles needs and have been doing that daily to get it super strong!

The two weeks is up tomorrow and I have no discomfort these days so hopefully I will be back to running next week with no problems :)

Training has been going brilliantly. Since I came back from Cozumel I have been more motivated that I have ever known! I have only missed 2 sessions this month, mainly because taking antibiotics for my Achilles sent my stomach into serious overdrive, I won't elaborate further!!!

I am back to swimming and loving it as much as ever :) I had a video analysis done in September with Ali at Tri Swim Coaching so I know where I need to focus my attention until the next video session. I love swimming with the squad and let's be honest now it's dark and cold we all need a little help to jump in the pool! 

I have been on the turbo a lot more than I would have liked but hey it's keeping me fit and thank goodness for You Tube and Netflix, helping to while away the hours. I am starting to build up my weekend ride and look forward to getting stronger with company on some group rides over winter :)

My weekly chats with my coach Michelle Dillon are helping me to keep striving to improve. She keeps my mind and training on the straight and narrow! It's not an easy job I can tell you!!! She does it with a huge smile, care and compassion. 

Next up.... In November, hopefully some 10k run races to start to really build my run strength. So much missed training this year means I need a strong, consistent winter :)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Racing In Paradise

So my main goal for the year was to qualify for the World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico. The season didn't start anywhere near where I wanted it to and I wrote about it here for my coach Michelle Dillon at Team Dillon Coaching World Champs Preview
Let's just say illness and injury meant it was a less than ideal winter prep!

I achieved my goal, box ticked and then I was on a serious mission to stay healthy and get injury free, again both boxes ticked!!!

The journey to Cozumel went without a single hitch, British Airways were on time and my bike arrived in 1 piece! We arrived in the evening to some serious heat AND humidity, yikes!
Nirvana were ready and waiting at the airport ready to take us to the ferry port for the 30 min trip over to Cozumel.

We were staying in the team Hotel, Cozumel Palace which was beautiful and I had to stay focused that I wasn't on holiday just yet!

Prior to the race I had been told to stay out of the sun unless I was training or attending official registration/briefings. I have to say this was super sensible advice as standing for 2 hours waiting to register in the morning heat and humidity was exhausting!

I also made sure I stayed hydrated and had some electrolyte drinks in the days leading up to the race. Made a lot easier by the hotel staff always wanting to top up your drink with ice cold water or lemonade (the benefit of an all inclusive hotel).

I felt pretty calm and relaxed in the days leading up to the race (probably helped by the calming influence of my husband!) All the hard work really has been done and I just had to get my sessions done and listen to my coach's advice and not race anyone when I was doing them !! :)

The day of the race I still felt fairly calm, just a little bit of pre-race nerves but definitely not over the line. I was ready to see what the training blocks I had managed to do would bring and all I had to do was focus on having the best swim, bike and run I could.

I really wanted to have a good swim. I had a woman next to me kicking me when we were at the pontoon and I think that actually helped build my aggression at the start of the swim! I went off and she did not go past me! I knew to focus on my technique cues, get on the feet in front of me and swim like a woman possessed. I did all this and I felt great in the water. When I realised I was at the last buoy I was pretty shocked it had come around so soon. I was really enjoying the swim, it's the first time I have felt I didn't want it to end! Unfortunately a woman decided to swim underneath me at this point (!?) I had to push her to one side to swim to the exit, not what I needed!
15:06 A PB in a sea swim without a wetsuit. Job Done!

Simply stunning water to swim in
I got in to transition with only a couple of girls around me so I knew I couldn't hang around to make sure I was with them, hoping we could all work together. Sprint Distance racing at World Championships is now draft legal and so it's important not to end up doing an individual TT! Sadly the girls were slower than me and I found myself doing exactly what I didn't want to do but that's just how it goes. I got my head down and started over taking other individual riders. When a pack came past me, thankfully my friend Ali was in it and told me to get on the wheel, which I duly did, thank you, top chick :)

At the turn around my brain was clearly not working properly as I completely forgot that I would need to be in a different gear at the dead turn. Uh oh, I was in a massive gear and came almost to a standstill! I can now see the pack going away from me as I remember what I had completely forgotten to do! I worked my butt off to get back to them but a hard riding pack is a tough ask to get back to! Despite having practised this exact thing with Michelle only a couple of weeks before the race I still forgot but hey I guess race brain does mean these things happen! BUT it won't happen again!!!

I had to work super hard to stay focused and not get mad with myself for having messed up and get back to transition as quickly as I could.
The bike course had some pretty stunning views

My legs felt awful off the bike. I have done more brick sessions this year than ever before and I had actually been finding my run legs pretty quickly. Not today! It took about 2km before my legs were moving properly and by then the heat and humidity was hitting me like a brick wall! I have never run in heat and humidity like that ever and it was pure survival instinct keeping me going. The sooner I cross that line the sooner I can cool down! People around me were walking and it made me think maybe I need to stop and take a few deep breaths and I 'll feel better. Sadly not, I just felt hotter. Then I just focused on my technique cues and keeping moving as well as I could. I took ice cold water at every aid station (and there were a lot of them) and I still felt like my body was on fire and running against a brick wall. Coming into the finish shute I was elated and couldn't be prouder that I got to the end when everything in my body was saying stop!
I finally got a finish photo where I am smiling!

After some time in the ice baths with my friends I felt very proud and happy that I gave it my all on the day. The result is not where I would want to come but I certainly couldn't have done more.

I had a quick spin back to the hotel and straight on the champagne, as you do! I was ready to make the most of the all inclusive aspects of the hotel! The camaraderie after the race was just brilliant and a wonderful reminder of how many fantastic people there are in this crazy sport of ours. Every time I race at an age group event I meet more lovely new friends and it's one of the best things about qualifying :)

Lisa who I first met at Llandudno when we both qualified for the Worlds!
Some of the wonderful friends I have made through Triathlon, big love x

My friend Jacqui Phillips won our age group and I am super happy that she had the day she wanted and has worked for.

After a few days relaxing in Cozumel, watching my husband go diving, swimming with Dolphins and Sting Rays we headed to Cancun to relax for a week. It was nice to be able to just relax but I was already itching to discuss with Michelle how I come back stronger in 2017!

The plan was to enjoy my holiday and then start to build my fitness when I returned. So that's where I am now. Working on the faster swim time I know I can achieve with my coaches at Tri Swim Coaching, improving my biking skills and fitness with my friends over winter and getting some strong run miles and sessions in my legs. I will also be doing my prehab to stay in my happy place! Bringing harmony to all of this is Michelle Dillon, coach extraordinaire.

I have learnt a huge amount this year both about the physical and mental aspects of racing. What it means to me, how to train hard, how to believe in myself more, how to have fun with racing, how to focus on the process and not the outcome. None of this has come easy but it has meant that I am mentally less stressed when I race and I enjoy training and racing more. I am starting to learn how to get the best out of myself.

All smiles post Brick session in Richmond Park with Michelle Dillon
The lessons have been very personal and I really need to pay huge respect to Michelle who helped me to find a way to allow all these important changes happen.

I always knew Michelle could help me to physically get the best out of myself. What I hadn't really appreciated was how she would change my mental attitude towards so many different aspects of triathlon and myself. From one disastrous race at Dorney Lake to a huge improvement at Nottingham just one week later. I'm not sure how she does it but it's pretty special when she changes your mindset in one telephone call! The list is very long of the things she has taught me so maybe that's a separate blog!

Thank you coach, bring it on! :)

Stay healthy and happy this winter and hope to see you at the races in 2017!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Kale, Avocado & Pineapple Salad
It's a salad and a half!

Serves 4 - Maybe!
100g Kale
1/2 cucumber, sliced into bite size chunks
1 red pepper, cut into bite size chunks
1 small pineapple, cut into chunks
2 small avocados, cut into chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced
50g pine nuts.

Dress with 50ml sweet chilli sauce, 1 tbspn soy sauce, 1 tbspn fish sauce, a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt smile emoticon

I served mine with a slice of Crustless Quiche Lorraine.

Scrumalicious x

Thursday, 21 January 2016

My 5 Favourite Things For January

I hope that January has been a great month for you so far. I hope you are well on your way to achieving your goals of 2016.

I thought I would introduce you to some things that I am really enjoying right now and that you might like to try.

I’m such a huge fan of Anna’s recipes. They are vegetarian and make it a super easy and very tasty way to get your 5 a day! The book is also beautiful and the pictures are just stunning.
This book is filled with recipes that take from 10-40 minutes and are labelled to make it easy for you to decide how long you want to spend. She also has a section where you can choose the ingredients to build your own meal. From Quesadillas to Buddha Bowls there are just so many tasty meals to try. 

I am a huge fan of Neom, a UK company that produces the most amazing organic products. Candles that smell so lovely with different scents for different moods. My current favourites are Tranquility Bath Foam and Happiness Room Mist. I like to light candles to help me relax and also to create a calming environment when I am working from home.

I swim a lot and it’s just tricky to exfoliate your own back and keep the skin healthy. I have found the chlorine is making my back itchy and I needed to find an easy way to keep my back healthy. I first saw this brush in Champneys and thought with its long handle it would be easy to reach my back and I was right! It’s quite rough so be gentle to start! I have found the itching has subsided and I now have the perfect way to keep the skin on my back healthy.

I don’t know about you but I love Coconut! Another day I will write a post about my favourite coconut products! For now, you just need to know that this yogurt tastes amazing. From plain coconut to raw chocolate and some with added fruits they are all so tasty. I like to add my favourite nuts (macadamia, pistachio or cashews) and maybe some extra fruit to make a super filling breakfast or snack! If you find yourself looking for a chocolatey snack in the afternoon I guarantee the raw chocolate with a few nuts will more than hit the spot!

When I have time I like to experiment a bit in the kitchen. I wanted a dish that hit all the spots but was still a one pot wonder. I really try to eat as healthy as possible mid-week but trying to do it quickly can prove tricky. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best and this one has become a firm favourite in our house. I hope you enjoy it too.