Same ol’

Sufferfest say I should concentrate solely on my goal, so sorry if there’s anyone reading this, it’s all going to be tri.

Except to say I rebuilt my VFR750 motorbike fairing (again) with a new subframe and the cannibalised best of two sets of clocks and all it all went back together properly this time. Now the bloody thing is running on 3 cylinders instead of 4, and being a V4 engine the carbs are a total pain to access. I’ve ordered some tools, when they arrive I’ll sort it.

Anywho, that’s not focusing on my goal.

I had a moment a few days ago. The Tour de France guy who did my bike fitting last year heard I was after a sub 10 Ironman and said I’d be looking to maintain a 25mph average on the bike. I was surprised he nailed it, but agreed readily. My plan was to get up to 20mph average for this year, 22.5 for next, 25 for the sub 10.

Since I’ve been beasting myself on the Sufferfest I really think I’m in with a shout. I won’t be happy with less than a 20mph average this year. The last 3 attempts have been 16mph. I looked back on an old blog and my 3 year plan was to get to an hour for the swim (too ambitious, say 1.10), a 5.25 bike and a 3.26 marathon (about right.)

Then I did the maths again. (I am thick as brick at maths, so I generally avoid it.) If I can average 20 mph this year, that’s 5.36!  In one year. If I could get to 25mph that would be 4.30! That doesn’t seem possible.

Just looking at 2017 results (2018 was blowing a gale) the guy who won the race, in the male, 20-25 year old category, did the ride in 4.33. Hmmm, I may have to lower my expectations. Or just win the race outright. That would be a hoot. Time’s to beat are 49 minute swim (never going to happen), 2.15 transition (T1), 4.33 bike, 2.23 transition (T2), and a 3.12 marathon (8 hours 39 overall!)

 

Well, that was a short-lived goal.

 

The winner of my age group did a 9.44 tri. That’s about the very limit of my ballpark hopes/ expectations.

She did a 1.05 swim, 3.00 T1, 5.10 bike, 2.42 T2, and a 3.22 run. Those are my targets now.

I’ve just written them down and propped them under my monitor.

Right.

*Game Face*

Actually, she was the winner of the 50-54 age group, by the 2021 race I’ll be 55, the winner of that age group was a 10 hours 39 time. That’s obviously outside my sub 10 hour goal. Interestingly, he was only 5 minutes slower on the swim, 2 on T1, 12 on the bike, 1 on T2, but then blew it massively on the run, 36 minutes slower. Or to put it another way, still 20 minutes faster than my PB last year.

 

All this talk of supreme efforts and the glory I’m going to achieve in 2½ years time kind of takes the shine off today’s huge achievement. Should have lead with that. Ho hum.

When I was trying to do a serious plan to run faster I eventually got up to 4 miles at sub 7 m/m pace. Supposed to be 6.48, but oft edged into 6.52 /53 territory.

After my run every day thing I managed last week to go out and run 5 miles at that pace. Extraordinary for me. I go long because I have lots more grit than speed. I ran a warm up mile, two miles fast then burned out when I got stopped by traffic, so ran another two miles slowly to recover, then did the 5 miles on recovered legs. Today I thought I’d try for 5½ miles. I was in a rush as I wanted to get a swim as well (didn’t happen) so I set off at race pace. It was so, so hard. I thought my pace has slipped back so far that I was going to slow down and try again by 2 miles, I checked my watch, amazingly still 6.50+ m/m, so I picked up the pace and carried on. In the end I ran 6 miles (Garmin said 5.99 miles afterwards, I’m having it, I don’t care) 6 miles at a 6.52 m/m average. It was hellish. I wanted to slow down or stop the whole time. Mental toughness. Just hanging in there for one more second, one more minute, one more mile. Thanks, Sufferfest.

I’ve broken my run every day thing in my pursuit of my tri goal. I had my first day off from training this year yesterday. 

Tomorrow it’s a bike day. Sufferfest to the max.

I’m going to have to start doing long rides on the road to see what power and speed I can maintain. I’ll do that on my day  off.

Right, another pointless blog. It’s just something for me to reference later. That was the day I set a new speed/ distance record. And thought I could ride a 4.30, lol.

Later,

Buck.

Sufferfest.

Another boring training entry. Well, boring for anyone else, exciting times for me.

Sufferfest is proving to be a revelation. I thought it was going to be an app for peddling away on your turbo trainer without getting bored. Like watching a film or something. Zwift pretty much was. People were streaming past me, and I’d chase some of them, but mostly it was just watching the scenery as I pedalled.

Sufferfest has videos to accompany the workouts, but it is a workout. It’s not pointlessly pedalling for an hour. It’s workouts so hard I didn’t think I could complete them.

I had a go at a virtual spin class at the gym, it’s a bunch of people on bikes, while a video screen tells you what to do. The thing I didn’t like is there are no gears, or power meters, or speedo. The riders on the screen tell you to increase the resistance (twist knob on the bike) and decrease it, but there are no settings. How much should I increase or decrease? There are no metrics or feedback.

Sufferfest on the other hand, monitors your power (watts),  speed, heart race and RPM. After you’ve done the fitness assessment (4DP) it sets everything to your ability. The workouts are designed by Olympic winning coaches so it’s brutal but scientific. A proper warm up then a bunch of intervals at different intensity, duration and amount of recovery time. And, unlike when I was doing Zwift, it will say to hit 230 watts at 110 RPM for 55 seconds. There is only one gear that will let you spin at that speed and put out that amount of watts. Again, on Zwift, if it got hard you could just shift down a gear and keep at your desired watts. In Sufferlandria it will say 265 watts at 60 RPM, STAND UP, so you have to put it in a really high gear, stand on the pedals and grunt like a pig having a heart attack.

So, so brutal.

I really think it’s going to work wonders for me.

Then there’s the other stuff. It has a mental toughness programme that’s a freebie thrown in. I was, in all modesty, sceptical that they could teach me much about mental toughness, grit is all I’ve got, but I started the course anyway.

Amazing.

It’s not just stamina, it’s focusing your entire will to an end. And setting quantifiable goals to reach that end.

It’s made me address my weaknesses and make plans to overcome them.

Set a definite goal per month, and per week to get you there. Then have the mental strength to achieve them.

One of the things I may have to be ruthless about is my run every day thing. It’s making me do stuff when I’m knackered and it’s done wonders for my run fitness, but every training plan agrees that you *have* to factor in rest days. They are when your body heals and rebuilds itself stronger. They are to be treated as of equal importance to your best training day. By trying to do two things at once I’m risking further injury and wrecking both. If I’m to focus on my sub 10 Ironman in 2021 (initial goal an hour off my PB at this year’s Outlaw triathlon) I need to exclude anything that’s not helping.

Which is where it gets tricky. I’m achieving marvels through the running thing. Even though I’ve only done a few 10 mile runs and one 18 mile run this year, (all the rest being biddy little ones) on a whim last Thursday I set off and ran a marathon. It wasn’t a spectacular time, and it was way too hard at the end, but I did it.

Yesterday I was so knackered I didn’t want to go out. I was so tired I was considering having a nap before going out. Because I have to run every day I forced myself to do it. Having done a marathon the week before I thought I’d try to raise the bar of my fast pace distance. I’ve managed to maintain a sub 7m/m (supposed to be 6.48) for 4 miles twice before, so I thought I’d try for 5. As I was being lazy I was going to do a mile to warm up, then 2 miles out, 3 back, at sub 3 hour marathon race pace (6.48 m/m). I was really struggling to maintain the pace, then I got stopped after 2 fast miles. I decided to make a 10 miler of it instead and carried on a slower pace to get my breath back. At 5 miles I turned around and went for it. It was incredibly hard, I kept slipping into 7.10 pace, realising, having to sprint even faster to make it up, then try to catch my breath at my maximum pace.

Amazingly, I did it. Even with the warm up mile and the 2 miles catching my breath, I set a new PB for 10 miles (1.11:38). And held the pace for 5 miles on the way back. (6.49, 6.48, 6.52, 6.48, 6.51) so 34:06.

Two PBs in one run.

I’m setting records and achieving like never before. But I’m not had a rest day this year, and it’s March tomorrow. 

I think I’m going to have to sit down and work out the best possible training plan then force myself, with the same will I’ve applied to the run every day thing, to commit to it. And factor in a rest day a week. If it doesn’t improve things I can always start again.

Tomorrow I get over my reluctance and get back to the swim. Or rather, get to the pool and practise drills that will make me a swimmer.  My goal for next week is to set in place a 3 or 4 swims a week schedule, my swim goal for March is to master the floating level in the pool, (not letting your feet and bum sink) and learn to breath properly. I’ve seen drills that break it down to small, achievable, steps so I’m hoping I can get it this time. Once you are floating and breathing that’s most of the battle won. Then it’s perfect my stroke and join that long distance swim club to build my swim muscles.

Right, so tired now.

Later,

Buck.

PS Day after.

I finally got back to the swimming. I was trying to do some breathing drills and not getting the hang of it, as usual, when one of the staff took pity on me and gave me a few pointers. I’ve cracked the floaty thing. I gave myself all of this month and did it first time out of the bag. Which gives me hope I can find the right drills to master my breathing. I reckon I’m really near. I think it as much un-learning how I’ve been doing it as it is implementing the proper form. I noticed today that because I tilt my head up to gasp air, if I then try to do the correct drill, which is to keep one goggle in the water, then my mouth is underwater. If I just turn my head I can keep one goggle in and get my mouth out of the water. On paper, at least. The other good thing was one of the tutorial video said to leave your feet loose to flap about, which I did. I don’t seem to have inflamed the tendons on the top of my foot this time. That would be a huge help if I’m not making that worse.

 

I got home and did a short, (48 minute) massively intense, bike session on Sufferfest. I did the same workout a week a ago and just couldn’t keep up. As I say, they not only tell you how much power to put out, but at how many rpm. This means you might be stood on the pedals in a really high gear, doing 60 rpm, or whirring your legs around in a low gear to get the same power.

I went for my bike fit in October last year and the bike guy said I should be aiming for 90 rpm. It nearly killed me adapting to that as I was doing around 70 rpm. My sustainable power is around 200 watts. Today the Sufferfest monsters had me trying to maintain 260 watts at 130 rpm!  Then 320 watts at 110. That’ll be why I couldn’t keep up.

After that I went for a short (4 miles) run to shake my legs off (and to try to get used to the nastiness of transition). I do like the running, your worries and tensions drop off as you settle into your rhythm. While I was at it I had moment of clarity. I’ve been thinking that to get serious about my training I’ll have to incorporate rest days, but I’ve been reluctant to do it because of the fantastic results I’m getting running every day. It suddenly struck me, it’s one rest day. I can run the other 6. And let my body heal and improve. Eejit.

Well, that’s where I am. Training, getting my focus, really pushing to improve.

Tomorrow I’ll do more swimming, biking and running, draw up a proper training plan, with goals, and do the next mental toughness module.

I will do this.

Bit of a run.

That chesty feeling and loads of swallowing I said about on my last blog? It was the onset of an awful, enervating bug. I kept my training up but it knocked spots off me. Wendy had it worse, she’s been off work for four days. Not a cough and cold thing, just a hideous weakness. Nasty. I managed to maintain my running streak, but speed runs have been out of the question. It’s been coming and going so I managed to get some bike training in as well.

I thought I was fully over it yesterday then felt lousy on a 5 mile run.

Today I had a day off booked, it was toasty warm (15C! In February!), the sun was shining, so I decided to run a marathon. Like you do.

I had to take my warm top off after 2 miles and ran the rest in just my sleeveless compression vest. I’m not sure I’m fully right after the bug. I wanted to keep to 7.30 m/m but even in the first few miles I was struggling to keep it at 8. After 16 miles I was really battling to keep going. It took everything I had to finish the 26.2 miles. The last few miles it was a huge achievement to stay under 9 m/m. I was stumbling and had nothing left.

I did it in 3.41:34.

I’m trying not to be negative and therefore belittle people who are slower, but that was so hard and not the time I was expecting.

To be fair, I was basing my expectation on short, fast runs. And I’ve not actually done any long run training this year. A few 10 mile runs and one 18. And I’m possibly not well. But that was long, slow, painful and so, so hard.

Good for mental toughness if nothing else.

While I’m getting my excuses in, can’t forget to mention I only had an energy bar and a banana before I set out. The rest was energy gels on the hoof. Amazing that an 89 calories sugar/ sludge gel can keep you going. 2 of them an hour and you can just keep on keeping on. My watch said I burned 3000 calories on the run. So how do the gels keep you going?

The rest of my day has been a write off. I’ve just moped around in a world of pain, inhaling calories.

I was looking to do a 100+ miles bike ride tomorrow, but that can wait. I’ll do some other jobs on my list, like stripping and fixing my motorbike, then do the ride when I’m rested.

Well, I set out to run a marathon. I ran a marathon. And learned a valuable lesson on the way. It turns out a basic level of fitness and a monumental amount of bloody-minded stubbornness are no substitute for long run training. Who knew?

Right, bed. I’ve so had enough of today.

Later,

Buck.

PS: quick addendum.

My pushbiking:

I took my fancy pants bike out for a spin. Only a 20 mile ride to Frodsham, (some good, testing hills). It’s the first time I’ve really ridden it. I rode it to the top of the street when I first got it, since then I’ve been riding it on the turbo trainer. It is amazing. It’s so small and light it feels like a toy. Loads of the ride I was 20+mph, downhill I clocked 35+. It just feels fast.

I’ve got the setup sorted on The Sufferfest (the training app for the turbo trainer). I was complaining, after me nearly killing myself to set up my personal bests (4DP, they call the test) the app was giving me too easy rides. I’m good for 200 watts for 5 minutes at a time, it was saying to ride at 100. I was thinking it was all pointless. Then I realised I hadn’t turned the 4DP setting on.

Wow. My legs are screaming, I’m lay over the handlebars gasping for breath and it’s telling me to go faster and stronger.

I can’t keep up with some of the power it’s telling me to put out. Which is perfect. If I can do it already I’m not going to improve.

In retrospect I could kick myself. It’s obvious. 3 triathlons, 3 years, 3 roughly the same times. I was trawling 20 miles a day back and to to work and doing stupid long rides, where is the 3 years improvement?

If you’re riding on your own, especially 100+ mile rides, you push on a bit, but you also pace yourself. You know you have to finish. On the Sufferfest there is no pacing. It’s set to your specs,and designed by Olympic winning team coaches, to push you faster and harder than you think you can bear. I can’t wait for my next (3 monthly) 4DP trial, I reckon I’m going to have massively improved.

Of course, the actual doing of the rides is a sweatfest, lungbusting, nightmare. But as they say in Sufferlandria, “Kicking Your Ass Today So You Can Kick Theirs Tomorrow.”

 

To complete my good news, the swim:

I had to take a test for the mental toughness training course on Sufferfest, it said to honestly review where you are now, and to decide upon your ultimate goal (your Mount Sufferlandria). I had to admit that my biggest weakness is the swimming,and I avoid it because I’m so bad at it.

I’ve been binge watching youtube triathlete and swimming videos. I actually think I have a plan. As usual I’ve been doing everything exactly wrong. No training drills, long sessions, thrashing up and down the pool, holding my breath, then gasping huge lungfuls of air. All wrong. Sip small amounts of air, start to blow out immediately your face is submerged. Apparently having a lung full of air increases carbon dioxide build up which causes you (me) to panic, desperate for more air. Do short sessions, regularly. Long ones just make you tired and you slip into bad form which you then reinforce by repetition. And do drills. They look and seem stupid, but they are breaking down good form into it’s basic elements to get everything right.

I think I’ve found some foolproof basic training drills. They get you floating right in the water so you don’t sink and cause drag, and get you breathing properly. That’s 90% of the battle won, right there.

Once I’ve mastered those, it’s all about getting my stroke right and that’s it. Just work at it until I’m strong.

To refer once more to The Sufferfest, they were saying that you have to be totally focused on scaling Mt Sufferlandria and set quantifiable weekly and monthly goals.

I’m going to spend March doing 3 or 4 swims a week, for 30 to 45 minutes a session, and crack the floating and breathing drills. Then in April I’m going to join that long distance swimming club.

With my running daily, the Sufferfest on the bike, and a swimming club I am going to hit my goal of an hour off my personal best at this year’s Outlaw triathlon. Which is keeping me well on target for my sub 10 hour Ironman in 2021.

Then I’m going to take up competitive eating or extreme ironing.

Later.

Buck.

Finally!

Just a quick update on my tri training as my watch is not logging my achievements in a fit of techno-spite.

I really think I’m on to a winner here. At last. The motorbiking into work, doing a run every day and separate bike/ run sessions is really working for me.

I’m trying not to be bitter about all the time I wasn’t doing it. I had different goals last year. And the month or so I was pushbiking then running every day was good general fitness building. But this is where it’s at.

This week I did an average of 11 hours a day at work for the first 3 days. So 12 or so hours with commuting. When you get home you just want to crash out. Because I’m committed to the run every day I got out and did it. Even if it was only a mile it was keeping the training going.

I did that trial-by-ordeal thing for Sufferfest.

They kept giving me target power and revs and I was smashing it. Saying put in 100 watts, I was doing over 200. For the five second sprint I did 400+ watts. An hour of tests and recovery. 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 20 minutes, and 1 minute. I went all out. I finished it, proud as Punch, then got my results.

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Look at the scale. The outside line is “exceptional”, right the way down to “modest”, I nearly killed myself and scraped into Modest in one test! Ooh, 1½ tests, I just noticed. Big whoop!

Anyway, that is the baseline for my training. Knowing those figures they can beast me to greatness.

The big one remains the running though.

It was two weeks ago I couldn’t maintain an 8.30m/m pace. Since I’ve stopped pushbiking I am battering it.

I did that 4 mile run and surprised myself by only being 20 seconds off my best ever time for the distance.

I did a three mile run the other day. I’d had a long day and couldn’t be bothered, but like I said, once you are actually forced to do it you start getting into it. I thought I’d make the last mile count so I went for it. My previous PB for a mile, when I was doing speed training, was 6.44 (I think), I ran it in 6.27!

Wow. That’s without speed training, just using the fitness or running everyday and the stamina and breathing from the turbo pushbiking. I was/ am delighted.

I did a 55 minute session on Sufferfest, the went out for the bare minimum mile. I was expecting dead legs so wasn’t going for a time. a quarter mile in I realised I was on the pace so went for it. I did that in 6.54.

Today was a run day (actually a swim day, but the pool wasn’t doing lane swims tonight) I went out to do a 10 mile run, trying to maintain a sub 7.30, I think I may be coming down with something chesty though. I was swallowing a lot which made breathing a bit tricky. I settled for a 7 mile run, so I could at least have a 10k (6.21 miles) time. Another PB. I think my previous 10K PB was 52 minutes, I did it in 44.42 (averaging 7.09 for the 7 miles).

My legs a starting to feel a bit tender now. A bunch of PB’s one after the other. I’ll do the minimum mile tomorrow and hopefully get a swim. Low impact, let them heal.

Anyway, that was it. Just a bunch of boring stats. But to me it’s awesome. I really think I’ve cracked it this time. If I can get the swim sorted, I am on for my 3 year sub 10 Ironman goal. And a sub 3 marathon later this year.

Real, tangible, immediate improvement, session upon session. Brilliant.

I forgot to say, Sufferfest do a holistic approach to being your best, which includes mental toughness and yoga for flexibility and strength. I didn’t think there was much they could teach me, in all modesty, about gritting your teeth and getting on with it, but it’s not like that. They focus on 4 things, goal setting, focus, review and positive thinking.  I’m going to give it a go. All the pro’s do it. Anything that helps.

Later,

Buck.

Catch up

What’s been happening?

Well, Wendy pranged the car around Manchester. I was taking her on a dry run to see if she could find her way on her own the next day (going to some church bash).

She put way too much pressure on herself, she’d made the motorway bit into a big deal in her head, then when we got around Manchester she was rushing, scared to hold anyone up. Anyway, she was flapping a bit, trying to follow the satnav, pulled out from a stop at a junction, straight into the side of a passing car.

No-one was hurt, so I just showed her how to exchange details and take pictures, then got her to drive home. The woman she hit was trying to have a fag as she ‘phoned in the details, the fag was all over the place she was shaking so bad. Wendy totally held it together (it was only a bump), drove home. All good.

The next day she got up and was shaking, couldn’t face driving the 2 miles to church, never mind Manchester. I thought that was it, her driving was over, but she woman-ed up and drove herself to work on the Monday.

I was thinking about it, I don’t know if I am just used to it, or it’s an aspect of my condition (reckless driving is a big indicator) but I just bounce down the road, pick myself and my bike up, and carry on. I don’t get shock. The last time I went into shock was when I got my tooth nutted out and a bit of a kicking whilst I was down. I was only a kid.

That was a moment. On the bright side, I was in a crash that was in absolutely no way my fault. That’s novel. And I didn’t lose my no-claims (I’m a named driver on Wendy’s policy) so that’s good.

I’m still recovering from my (motorbike) crash. I gave up and went to the doctor this morning about my shoulder. It’s nothing much, but it’s been nearly 2 months and it’s still not right. He’s arranged for me to go for a scan, see what’s up. Wendy has said in the past the reason I don’t get treated properly by the doctors is that I don’t lay it on thick. I was all ‘nah’. Heard myself telling the doctor "It’s probably nothing", today. She may have a point.

My poor bike is still not right, either. I got a replacement headlight cowl/ fairing thing.

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I sprayed it up and fitted it (huge pain in the arse!) but the sub-frame around the headlight is all bent and the  things that hold my clocks on have all snapped off.

It’s rideable, but I’m going to have to strip it down again and fit new clocks and subframe. *sigh*

At least I found some going cheap on eBay. They should be here tomorrow.

I am on the motorbike from now on in. I was riding the 19 odd mile commute (round trip) then going running every day. I looked at a proper training plan and it was ride one day, run the next, swim, rest. OK. Then I went to the gym, did a quick bike session then a run. I did a bit of a hilly run, then decided to go quick. I was dying trying to maintain 8.30 m/m. Before that bout of depression I was running 6.46 m/m. Something had to change. And quick.

I’ve done a week of riding in to work on my motorbike. I went out with no particular training and ran 4 miles at sub 7m/m. I’ve been working out on my pushbike on the turbo trainer (looks like this: )

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I went from 176 watts (power output) to 186, to 199.

It wasn’t pretty. 45 minutes training in an unheated shed in the middle of winter.

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That’s a puddle of sweat under my foot. And the camera on my ‘phone was working fine, the misty effect was the steam I was sweating fogging the shed up.

That’s one week of not cycling to work. Massive improvements. That is definitely the future.

Also someone on Twitter was saying to swap from my Zwift cycling app (a game that lets you race against other people in real time) for a dedicated cycling/ triathlon app, Sufferfest.

As the name implies, it’s all about muscle screaming effort. I’ve got a week’s free trial. To get it set up right they put you through a trial-by-ordeal baseline setting exercise. I’m doing that tomorrow. Then, once they’ve got the measure of me, they’ll demand specific goals for my training to make me improve. Wendy can’t get her head around the mentality of marketing anything by the name of Sufferfest.

Now I just have to start doing a regular 3 or 4 swim sessions a week. It’s do-able. Unfortunately, the tendons on top of my foot still haven’t healed and swimming is a lot of foot flapping about, so it causes them to flare up. Also the shoulder thing is less than ideal. I’m going to have to do it anyway.

If I can make those kind of gains in running and cycling by consistent training, in a week, I’m applying the same approach to swimming.

This new training approach also works for mental toughness. You get in from an 11 hour shift, sit down, and all you want to do it eat and crash out. It takes huge willpower to get yourself back out the door. So far (39 days) I’ve kept to my ‘run every day of 2019’ resolution. Which also helps. Once you are out of the door you might as well do a bit. 

Right, back to watching videos on how to swim and such.

Later,

Buck.

January done.

I’ve just about got back on the triathlon horse.

I’ve completed the first month of my ‘run every day of 2019’ challenge. It’s not been easy as I have been nursing injuries. Happily I’m mostly over them. The tendons on the top of my foot keep flaring up, but nothing debilitating. The pains up my shins, in my knees, and my shoulder are all but gone. Because I’m doing most of my runs straight off the pushbike after riding 9 and a bit miles back from work (and I’ve been tentative due to injuries) I’ve not done that many miles, but they all add up. 186 miles for January.

I did a trial run (a literal run) to work last weekend, to see how long it would take me. It was cold and it had been threatening rain all day. I set off in a new, long sleeve, running top. As I was about to leave the house it started spitting. I ignored it, thinking it would pass. All the way to work it rained. I was soaked, freezing and in a very dark place as I was dreading the run back. After I turned around it stopped raining for a few miles which allowed me to warm and dry a little bit. Then I was well on my way so it didn’t get me down when it started raining again. With me getting lost and such, it was a 17.5 mile run in the end. 2 hours 35. Not a great time, but the challenge was just to keep going it was so beastly. Or rather, I was stupidly unprepared. A waterproof (and windproof, it was biting) jacket would have made all the difference. Again, the fact is I did it.

As I say I’ve been commuting to work, that’s about 18.5 miles round trip (by road, the run was down the canal and such). I had a day slipping about on some ice, the back end slid out three times on one ride in. Which is scary when your feet are clipped to the pedals and you are being narrowly passed by cars. I asked for some advice and bought a set of new, fatter (28mm instead of 23mm) puncture resistant, sports tyres. They are very nice.

The product photo’ made me laugh. Everyone else who wants to advertise their product calls the modelling agency for a bunch of beautiful 20 somethings and a wise old man.

Not the Germans. Their photo’ says “Yes. These are the best tyres in the world. And if you disagree we’ll come and punch your lights out.”

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I bought them then realised I’d had the other set for nearly a year and they were as smooth as glass. Not ideal for winter. I ordered the new ones. The next day, as I was riding home, and the front tyre made a big hissing sound and went flat in a few seconds. I carry a spare tube so I checked for puncture inducing foreign objects, all clear, then replaced the dead one. A mile later the same thing happened again. I carry some kung fu slippers so I’m not clip-clopping around work with my bikes shoes on. I had to change into them then run the last two miles, in full bike kit, with my works kit in my rucksack, pushing my bike by the saddle. I saw a local running club as I was running. They had no bikes or bags or anything. Lightweights. When I got in I checked the tyre and wheel in the light. Then double checked. Nothing. So I replaced the tube. As I was pumping it up it exploded! WHAT?!

I lined the hole in the tube up with the tyre when I took it out, there was a split in the tyre sidewall, so the tube stuck out, pinched, then exploded. Ah. Nicely timed, ordering the new tyres then.

It snowed again the other day. I thought the roads would be cleared by the cars, but the edges of the road where I was riding were still deep in snow and ice. I really regretted pushbiking in that day. Still, I made it.

That the bike and the run going to plan, more or less.

Yesterday I broke my duck and finally got back to the swimming.

I watched some YouTube tutorials beforehand. They were loads more informative than my improver swim lessons. I cancelled my lessons and for the same price got anytime gym membership. I’ll learn it off YouTube and get better by doing loads of swim sessions.

I was really up for it once I’d been. I hadn’t been for a month, since I hurt my shoulder in the bike crash. As usual I’d built up a resistance to getting back to it. Building it up in my mind as being awful. It was bad, but that was just lack of fitness and technique. I was all set to watch loads of videos and try to stick in 4 swim sessions a week.

But (there’s always a “but”) when I got out of the pool my foot was bad again. Swimming is all about stress on your top of foot tendons, apparently. Lots of foot pivoting and pressure. Super.

Ho hum. I’ve just got to rest it, keep up with the ibuprofen and compression bandages. Not easy when you have to run every day.

 

In other news, the depression seems to have passed and I’ve not had another psychotic episode, which is fantastic. My thoughts started getting abstract and tangential on another run (might have been nothing, but you can’t help but flap) but this time I just centred and remained calm until it passed.  Thinking about it, if I am reporting one good thing in my training, and indeed my life, that is it.

Also I’ve been involved in a crash that was in no way my fault. That’s novel. Wendy was on a dummy run to some place she was going in Manchester, I was just there to help her with motorways and when she got lost. Because it was Manchester she put extra pressure on herself not to hold anyone up. She was trying to work out what the satnav was telling her on the hoof, pulled out and smacked another car. No biggie. I had a moment afterwards when I thought, as a named driver on her policy, I would lose my no claims bonus, but that’s safe. I got Wendy to drive it home, through Manchester then on the motorways. She was fine.

The next morning she woke up and lost it. Shaking and such. She couldn’t face driving the 2 miles to her church.

Bless.

She woman-ed up on the Monday and drove in to work.

I don’t know if it’s part of my condition or I genuinely am just used to it, but I don’t go into shock. I bounce down the road, pick myself up, then check on my bike. The only time I remember being in shock was when I got my front tooth headbutted out and took a kicking while I was on the ground. I was only a kid.

 

The other thing is my bike. I’ve got the replacement fairing, but it was unpainted. I’ve sprayed it myself. Surprisingly it’s not too terrible. It’s only for my winter hack, it’s a cheap, rusty, bike, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I finished applying the lacquer today, so tomorrow I can start trying to reassemble it. It would be a relatively simple job except the bars to which it attaches got bent in the crash. It’s going to be trial and error bending them back into shape. I’ve got two days. I’ve just got to be patient and not snap anything, or beat it into tiny pieces with a hammer, if it doesn’t fit immediately.

Well, that was all boring stuff.

I say that now, but it’s surprising how often I have to review this for dates of things. Last year I re-read the blogs about my last triathlons. I’d forgotten loads of the mistakes I made the first two races.

Right, off.

Later,

Buck.

There is no try!

I did a review of last year in my last blog, so, with mind numbing inevitability, I’m looking ahead now.

I’m trying to make it my New Year’s Resolution to run every day this year. At least a mile.  The mile is just for rest days and when they stitch me up with 15 hour shifts.

I say ‘trying’, risking the wrath of Master Yoda, because I’m starting off with some injuries that really should be rested.

 https://anshuchristajacobson.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/try-not.jpg

It’s nothing serious. My shoulder is still a bit rum from the crash.  I managed to slide the back end right round and hit the van sideways, slamming my shoulder into the van. Good job I was wearing an armoured leather jacket. I’m almost completely recovered I think, except for if I try to lie on it, put pressure on it, or try to rotate my arm. Good as new. I’ve still not tried it on a swim, though.

Then there’s my foot. I’ve managed to pull some tendons on the top of it, which is new for me. Doctor Google says the usual (RICE: Rest, Ice/ Ibuprofen, Compression, Elevation) but I don’t seem to be making it worse, so I’ll stick with it for now. It does make sleeping a bit of a challenge though. If my left foot isn’t perfectly flat it hurts (not bad, but enough to be uncomfortable and a worry about further damage) the only way I can reliably do that is to roll on my right side, which hurts because I’ve smacked my shoulder. It’s like a bone moves up when I lie on it. Gotta larf.

And I’ve got a pain up the inside of my shin. Again, that doesn’t seem to be getting worse. Possibly better, in fact.

Anyway, if I can get through these injuries and heal while still training, that’s my goal for this year. Some guy (Ron Hill, better to name him, he deserves the credit) ran at least a mile every day for 52 years and 39 days! He had to stop in 2017 because of heart worries, but huge respect. I don’t think I’m going to beat that somehow.  

The gargantuan pachyderm in the room though is my mental health.

As I’ve mentioned before, it turns out the ‘borderline’ in Borderline Personality Disorder refers not to it being borderline as a condition (ie, negligible) but refers to the fact the condition is on the borderline between neurosis and psychosis. Sufferers can cross back and forth.

I’ve had some bad times with it, but I’ve never been psychotic.

Until now.

Quote:

“Let us begin with the short explanation about neurosis. It is an emotional illness in which a person experiences strong feelings of fear or worry. It involves distress but not delusions or hallucinations. Its symptoms are similar to stress but not a radical loss of touch with reality.

Unlike neurosis, psychosis is rather a severe mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. The symptoms of this mental illness are typically characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality. The person suffering from this disease may then encounter hallucinations or delusions.”

 

I was having a splendid day, first day back on the bike trainer, 26 miles of slog and graft, then out for a 7 mile run (roughly quarter race distance and it was only January the 5th.)

I started the run and and kept having confused thoughts. It felt like it wasn’t me thinking them. Then I started having confusing memories of things that hadn’t happened and half remembered things like a memory of a dream. Suddenly my head was filled with all these thoughts and I couldn’t tell what was real then I started seeing graphs and charts. It was like a waking dream. I can’t really describe it or even remember it that well, but it terrified me. I stopped my run and had to turn around from the way I’d been going to try to stop looking at it.

I’ve tripped out before now. I’ve had panic attacks and gone loony focused to the point of obsession on trivia. This was nothing like that. I can’t remember it or make sense of what I can remember, but I know I was stopped, terrified, chanting “it’s not real, it’s not real” as it was stubbornly being very, very real. 

Anyway, I don’t want any more of that, thank you very much. But it gives you insight. Poor old Lettie was psychotic for months. It’s so much worse than I’d ever imagined. It’s not just the (in her case, voices and visions) it’s the absolute loss of self. I’ve seen ornaments get up and wave at me and took it in my stride, but when that came on I couldn’t deal with it. I was overwhelmed. Panicked. Nothing made sense. It’s pretty much the worse thing that has ever happened to me. That was a few minutes, and like I say, I’ve had lots of practice in tripping. That turned into poor ol’ Lettie’s life.

It was a one-off blip. I’ve never had it before, no reason to assume I’m going to get it again. And if I do, perhaps I’ll learn to deal with it. A bit overwhelming first time out. That would be enough to get me to go to the doctors, I can tell you that for damn sure.

Right, stand down, nothing to see here. It was a strange and horrible thing that has happened and happily gone now. No need to worry. I needed to record it though.

Later,

Buck.

Clearly Now The Past Expects…

(…the giant steps we had to take. Sisters of Mercy song lyrics.)

I’ve just read through my blogs for the year, (so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.) and it was an eye-opener. You, (perhaps just I) take for granted where you are and what you’ve done. Then I read back and bloody hell! I’d totally forgotten.

This time last year I hadn’t ridden a pushbike or swam for 3 or so years, hadn’t run for 5 months, had no life, was low, and all I did was work and sleep.

I did my first run of 5 miles last January, then a few days later just about made a 10 mile pushbike ride to work. I remember how bad that was. A year on I’m spinning it up and going for better times, back then it was all I could do to finish the 10 miles.

The swimming remains my Achilles heel.

Then I committed to the Outlaw triathlon. From my worst fitness in years to an Outlaw in 7 months. It feels a bit like it happened to someone else, so I don’t mind saying that was quite impressive.

Work was a pain. I couldn’t train around the stupid-long shifts they were giving me every day. I got myself into a flap thinking about how I was going to have to quit either my job or the Outlaw, I thought there was no way they’d let me have short shifts, logistics just isn’t that kind of job. I asked, and they changed my start time and gave me shorter shifts! Thanks work, that was really great of you.

I went from no running for 5 months to 3 marathons over 3 weeks in 3 months.

I’ve had a few setbacks, sports injuries from ‘too much, too soon’ (Every. Time!) and doing stupid things like running without socks, wrong size cycling shoes, etc, but I did the Outlaw and got a personal best. The sports injuries have killed my hope for a sub 3 hour marathon in April. *sigh*

There have been a few fails over the year. I didn’t keep going to the tri club, I was over-committed so had to quit my Russian language school and there was that (mercifully brief) period of really nasty depression that killed my training stone dead for a month.

Over the last year I’ve sold one motorbike, bought the awesome FireBlade and recently crashed another motorbike.

I bought my road pushbike, fitted it for triathlon, bought a turbo trainer, a bike computer and my triathlon specific pushbike.

Wendy got her pushbike (and has ridden it nearly 10 miles in total, lol), passed her car test first time and got her Mini.

Also I’ve recently returned to the saxophone and bought a cheap straight soprano sax for use at work. Also I’ve gone back to being a vegetarian. And have found a wonderful site (and bought the cookbook) called minimalistbaker.com . It’s all vegan recipes with 10 ingredients or fewer. I wasn’t actually after vegan. It’s only a few weeks ago I was telling someone on twitter that (from my past experience) the only good thing about being vegan is that it takes the sting out of the fear of death. I was just looking for a good recipe for fried rice, hers popped up and it was delicious. I tried some others and they were all great. Better than the meat food I’d been eating. If it’s delicious and easy to make why wouldn’t you eat vegan? I’ve not gone all in. I still have dairy on other things, and I’m not giving up my leathers. But like I say, why wouldn’t you?

So, that’s where I am.

I was feeling a little miffed that I’m out of the running for a sub 3 marathon in April, and my swimming isn’t what I want, but reviewing the last year I am now really happy to be where I am.

I seem to be over the nasty bout of loony, I’m not too badly injured, have the right shifts to train and have regained my training mojo. I’m going to draw up a revised training plan, get back to swimming, and batter it.

2019 is here and I’m ready for it!

Buck.

Barking.

I’ve been having patches of anxiety and such for a while. Then out of the blue I’ve been slammed by a really nasty bout of loony-ness. Depression.

I’ve had several attacks of random loony in the past, I was expecting that again. Where I fixate on one trigger event or concept (the local kid’s ball, – I still get uneasy at the sound of a ball bouncing –, or prior to that, Death and Time) which is horrible and scary.

But no, just depression. In our family that’s at best passé.

It’s been a few weeks now. On the bright side, it’s not constant, I keep having good days. They other day I was having an episode of sane and I convinced myself I was just imagining it, that it was just feeling blue with a large dose of self pity. I was driving along, concentrating on the road and my Russian ‘tapes’, when suddenly it hit me full force. Utterly crushed me. More than I thought I could endure.

I’m not imagining it. And the self pity is hard earned.

As I say, in my family my little bout of nuttiness is embarrassingly minor. I’m the guy with the plaster on his blister telling someone in a full body cast how much it hurts. But when it washes over me it takes everything away. I can’t get excited, or make plans, or do anything. The bad bits feel literally unbearable.

The weird thing is; whilst I know consciously that bouts usually last three months and that it will probably go again in a day or so, when it hits I can’t believe I will ever be right again.

I’ve had a good day today, hence being able to blog.

I’ve not done any training for about a fortnight, totally not been able to face going out to my swim lessons.

On the bright side, I’ve been constructive in my avoidance. I’ve built a really spiffy and sturdy back gate to replace the shoddy fence-panel-on-hinges thing I put up originally. For some reason the wind funnels across our house. At the front we’ve had to bungee cord the bins to stop them from flying away, I have to park my motorbike on the pavement because it’s been blown over twice out front, and the back gate gets blown off it’s hinges. I’m totally on top of that now.

Also, I’ve returned to the saxophone.  And I’m flying through some really good books. Also I’ve found a brilliant vegan cookery site https://minimalistbaker.com/ and I’ve been cooking loads. I was after veggie fare, to be honest, but that came up on a search for fried rice. Some gorgeous food. Best damn veggie burger I’ve ever tasted. The stir fry rice is delicious. And, amazingly, vegan.

It was only a few weeks ago I was telling someone on Twitter that the only good thing (in my experience) about vegan food was it took the sting out of the fear of death. It must have been pre-internet days (for me) when I was doing it. Honestly, the food I’m eating now is so good I’m sorry I didn’t go back to veggie years ago. Saying that, Wendy has reminded me that my tastebuds and sense of smell are pretty much fried. But with these tastebuds the only things I was eating were (proper Asian) biryani, stew and corn dog butties for work. I endured spag bol (though it tasted offensively watery) and sometimes didn’t mind lasagne. Chestnut and quorn lasagne is bloody lovely and the spag bol is amazing.

The other thing is the depression makes my other condition harder to bear. Super. It lead me to read a bit more about it. It seems the ‘borderline’ in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is not to denote ‘negligible’, it’s because BPD occurs at the borderline between neurosis and psychosis. Some people move back and forth over the line.

Here’s some of the highlights (NHS)

  • Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, such as rapidly initiating intimate (physical or emotional) relationships or cutting off communication with someone in anticipation of being abandoned
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviours, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. 
  • Self-harming behaviour, such as cutting
  • Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviours or threats
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Difficulty trusting, which is sometimes accompanied by irrational fear of other people’s intentions
  • Feelings of dissociation, such as feeling cut off from oneself, seeing oneself from outside one’s body, or feelings of unreality

And cited quotes from Wikipedia:

“People with BPD are often exceptionally enthusiastic, idealistic, joyful, and loving. However, they may feel overwhelmed by negative emotions ("anxiety, depression, guilt/shame, worry, anger, etc."), experiencing intense grief instead of sadness, shame and humiliation instead of mild embarrassment, rage instead of annoyance, and panic instead of nervousness.”

“People with BPD may feel emotional relief after cutting themselves.”

“Reasons for self-harm include expressing anger, self-punishment, generating normal feelings (often in response to dissociation), and distracting oneself from emotional pain or difficult circumstances.” 

 

It’s all there. Which makes me sad on another level. They say BPD makes you feel empty with no fixed image of self. The thing is, take away the goddamn BPD and there is no me.

Even the bits I like about myself (selflessness and bravery) are actually symptoms (no sense of self and recklessness).

Ho hum, whaddayagonna do?

On the bright side, I’ve not got that last one from the NHS list. And since I quit drinking I’ve managed to stop the self harm thing. And, in retrospect, that whole embarrassing messy scene wasn’t actually me being a drama-queen, it was a symptom and a coping mechanism. So, there’s that.

 

I may take it to the doctor. I’m not bothered about most of it, but if I could find a way to deal with the unending series of bad memories that constantly torture me, that would be nice.

 

If I’m sane in the morning I’m going to try and get some training done. I need to get back to it.

Right,

Sorry for all that, had to get it off my chest.

Later,

Buck.

Swings And Roundabouts.

My training is taking all sorts of turns. Because I was dropping off my plan for the sub 3 hour marathon in April I was upping the mileage more than the rule of 10% per week. Also, because I was pushed for time, it was basically every run I was doing was trying to raise the bar. Every run. Not a pace run, a long, easy run, sets, rest, then batter it. Go out and run 3 miles at stupid pace. Next run try and run 3½ miles faster, next run try and run 4.

It was a stupid thing to do. I’ve gone and knackered my calf. As soon as I try to go fast it sets and starts hurting. And gets worse the more I push it. I was scared it was a tendon thing, but Dr Google says it’s just a weak muscle or muscle overuse. Too much, too soon. I need that printed on every pair of trainers I buy. The remedy is rest, then slowly build up again. With some strengthening exercises.

I did about 2 runs in 2 weeks. The first it had eased off so I warmed up for 2 miles, as soon as I went fast my calf seized. I managed to shuffle home. The second I started slow but it was hurting so much that I turned around at a mile, but then it eased off so I turned around and managed a 6 mile run.

That was when I hit Dr Google.

Armed with the knowledge and the experience that I could, slowly, push through it, I tried a long, slow run today. I managed a half marathon with no real problems. I’m hoping to build some stamina and maintain some fitness so I can build my speed again. I’m thinking April is out for next year, though. Downer. I’ll try for a flat course later in the year, if I can’t do it for April.

 

On the bike front I’ve got my fancy pants bike set up on the turbo trainer and I’ve got a monitor and a laptop so I can run Zwift. It’s a computer game that, with all the techno bells and whistles I’ve got fitted, monitors your power (in watts), your pedalling rpm and such, and converts it into your speed and performance in the virtual cycling world of Wattopia.  Which all sounds a bit pointless, but the thing is you are on a resistance trainer so it’s all good, hard training.  You can see the power and rpm you are pushing out, you get to race against other people from all around the world in real time and there are challenge sections where is suddenly says you’re on a timed section, the best has just finished it in 3 minutes 49, your ETA is 5.45, so you have to go flat out for the length of the challenge to try to beat it. And if, like today, someone comes past you with “such-and-such Tri Club” in their profile you have to thrash them.

Compare that to staring at a wall for an hour and just grinding the pedals.

screen-grab-za-launch-3 

That’s a generic picture from the game.

I still pour sweat and can’t wait for it to be over, but I reckon I’m getting the absolute maximum from my hour or so on the trainer. I’ve put my Fireblade away for the winter (going to service it and try to sell it. It’s too much fun for my job. I can get an automatic ban in second gear.) so I’ve started cycling my commute again.

I reckon I should really see some gains on the bike in next year’s Outlaw tri.

The other thing is the the swim. I’m not so sure about that coach. He’s determined to get me breathing, which I’ll accept is a prerequisite for anything else, but he keeps saying everything else is fine. It really isn’t.  I was looking to see what else I could find and by a stroke of uncommonly good luck, we have a long distance swimming club in Warrington. Channel swimmers and the like. They should know the ropes. They seem keen. They have an hour and a half swim on Friday evenings, and open water swims during the summer. They could sort me right out. Got to keep trying.

Anyway, nothing exciting to report. Just plotting where I am for future reference.

Later,

Buck.