2020 has been… well interesting. It’s not been great and we all had such great hopes for it at the end of 2019. All plans soon came crashing down when it became apparent that we all needed to really take this strange virus serious. Covid-19 came into our world in March 2020 and like a guest you don’t want to stay with you it just doesn’t seem to want to go! Like Brexit, it’s been the news article we have all really wanted to avoid listening to. A lot of people have been so badly affected by the pandemic and tragically a lot of people have lost their lives. Mental health has been a subject that we all recognise as a consequence of the pandemic but the true cost of the pandemic will be the affect it has had on people’s mental health. I have experienced it in my own family and in the future it will have wrecked lives of my friends. I just hope we are on our way out of this, it doesn’t feel like it but we can all hope!
So, what did I achieve in 2020 despite of it all. Here is my summary:
Having lost the use of a gym and swimming pool, I did home out workouts (a lot) and swam in a lake twice a week. I found not being able to swim affected me more than I thought it would.
I worked from home all the time, spending 20+ hours a week in conference / video calls on average. I don’t think that working from home and being on conference calls all the time is very healthy and the recent lock down really has impacted my ability to sleep properly. I only went to the office once or twice a week but I realise that small amount of time out of the house is so so important.
I trained hard, got a new triathlon coach who is brilliant and I have progressed (I think so anyway) so much under her coaching.
I started a Masters in Applied Exercise Physiology in September, I passed my first module in November. The Masters has answered so many questions for me about my training and how to get the best out of myself and others physiologically. This is a good grounding for a future in coaching. I look forward to the rest of the course.
Not being able to take part in any races during 2020 was tough, nothing really in comparison to what some people have had to endure but it was hard. I did take part in some virtual events but they weren’t the same as actually being in transition waiting to put on the wetsuit.
Some things we will all no doubt remember about 2020:
Video calls, so many video calls!
Shaking hands became odd (I was never a fan anyway);
Face coverings became a routine (for most);
Queueing for the supermarket became a thing, shortage of toilet rolls and pasta was a thing too;
U-turns by HM Government become a weekly event;
Staying at home, eating out to help out/ then not!
Tiers became a defining factor of regions;
Home work outs;
Video call quizzes.
So what are my goals for 2021:
Above all, I hope we get through this pandemic and the vaccine gets rolled out quickly to avoid any more serious hospitalisations or worse. I hope we can return to normality and be able to see friends and family in person. I miss people!
Finish my first year on a two year masters course.
5km outside run PB;
Brighton Half Marathon;
2 x Standard Triathlons (1.5km swim, 40/45km bike, 10km run);
Ironman 70.3 (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21km run;
Aquabike (1.9km swim and 60km bike).
Starting my Youtube channel linking my studies to the training I do for triathlon.
I wish you all the very best for 2021 and let’s put 2020 firmly behind us. I very much am very grateful to everyone that has joined in my experiences during 2020 and before and the community and help I have received from those I have met through my social media. I hope we can share our experiences further in the future.
Let’s talk about swimming pool etiquette or the distinct lack of it. I swim on average three to four times a week and average about 7 – 9km of swimming a week. I enjoy my swimming, its something I look forward to, although that is changing.
Over the years I have experienced a distinct lack of respect in the pool from swimmers who frankly don’t care about other swimmers or those around them trying to swim.
There are those that choose to swim in the fast lane when (and this is said with respect) they have no intention to swim fast. They idle along with a backstroke or a breast stroke at a pace that makes it very difficult for those wanting to swim fast to actually do anything more than 2 lengths before having to stop and wait for the person to get far enough away to do a couple more lengths. It’s actually dangerous especially when you are joined by another swimmer and you take the risk to pass the slow swimmer only to find that you have to stop or crash into the oncoming traffic.
I have taken the approach in recent times to tell the person that they need to be in the other lane but often there is either the shrug of the shoulders or I am told to get lost or that they have as much right to be in the lane as I have. Not true – the rules are on the wall and they are designed not to disenfranchise someone from the far lane but for health and safety of those swimming. I have collided with swimmers a few times over the recent months and I always get the look as if I am in the wrong. Not true, I don’t collide with other faster swimmers, it’s those taking care of their log impressions.
It is also not ok to walk in a swimming pool fast lane when others are swimming. Yes, I have experienced this too recently, the person that decides to stop. swimming and walk out the rest of his lengths. Good apparently for those recovering from injury, great in fact but do it in the slow lane when others aren’t trying to swim!
I have also recently experienced those that have decided it is a great place to piggy back the girlfriend whilst walking up the middle of the fast lane. This makes no sense to me, it can only be something that the person feels will upset the swimmers in the pool and done deliberately!
I’ve had to put up with this for years of swimming and complaints do no good. I even told the person on a recent swim she was disrupting people swimming and suggested politely to move to another lane. She shrugged her shoulders and continued to swim on her back slowly! It’s frustrating and tarnishing the sport I love. Shorter sets are OK but the longer sets don’t work with these people in the pool!
July was a big month in terms of training. Most significantly I changed my approach to running by not paying a lot of attention to pace and concentrating on feel. I ramped up my running during July and then for the total distance for two years. Running felt good but it has been difficult to change mindset but I can see the benefit.
More recently I am now concentrating on heart rate training and one week in I’m finding it beneficial. Having concentrated on open water swimming queue to the lockdown, it has been good this month to be able to get back into the pool. Really enjoying the swimming and getting back into some of the more aerobic interval session. I recorded a new FTP from cycling during last month, the interval sessions really paying off. Really looking forward to training during August and hopefully doing a few events at the end of the season in September. Exciting times!
It would’ve been easy to have not run this morning given the rain and high winds at 7.30am. I ran 7km without looking at my Garmin and just running to feel. This is my second time of doing this and its helping me cope with getting back into running outside where I have had issues with run confidence having spent most of my time in lockdown running on a treadmill.
First half of the first 5K was horrible, wet and a terrible headwind and was slow. Following the turn it felt like my legs were released from shackles and I was able to step up the pace a little bit despite the rain. Then we turned again to finish off the last 2km back into the headwind and up the hill for what would be my slowest kilometre of the run. I finished the run, the kilometres are in the bag and I’m glad I got it done outside and not just retreated to the treadmill again.
I spent most of lockdown running on the treadmill and rebuilding my run confident outside and I have been convincing myself that the pace is not important to me. I’m starting from the beginning again and hopefully will get back to where I was a year ago by getting consistent runs outside in all weathers.
I’m guilty of overthinking my runs, thinking about what people think of my running on Strava but I’m learning to ignore and just put in the miles and the performance will increase. I felt strong in the last two runs and I will get better and my endurance is there, I just need to build my running legs and pace from scratch.
I finished the run today with a hill rep up a steep hill to prove to myself I had more in the legs.
April was a good month for training. 500km of cycling and 78km of running. Obviously due to the pandemic there was no swimming training which I miss immensely. I have however been able to train the muscles that are used in swimming with swimming cords which has been good but not the same!
There have been some notable improvements in my running with my pace and fitness building. I have introduced interval training and that speed work seems to be working. It has also enabled me to understand the relationship between cadence, pace and fitness. This month I ran my fastest 10km at 55 minutes and my fastest 5km at 26 minutes. There are not official race times but it is a good indicator of where I am at.
In cycling I was able to build on the leg strength work that has been done during the months before with some strong performances in turbos which has transferred to my sessions out on the road. My average speed outside has increased mainly from being more confident on the roads helped by less traffic. I did some hard interval sessions on the turbo this month and there has been a notable increase in the number of watts I can push over a longer duration.
I took part in the castle virtual series duathlon this month and was pleased with the performance.
I would’ve taken part in two events by now in the season and I would be now preparing for a half Ironman in Denmark for June. However, I am just happy to be training and being able to train more regularly without injury or pressure that these events can bring. Once this is all over and the world is back to normal again I can focus setting some goals. This isn’t important in comparison to what is going on in the world but staying fit and healthy is the goal during these testing times.
May will be more of the same in terms of training, hopefully I’ll be able to do a few sea swims if some of the restrictions are lifted. I will continue to run interval sessions and hard turbos.
This season hasn’t entirely gone to plan. I missed Challenge Lisbon with a recurring injury meaning I wasn’t quite ready for the Standard Distance, then Vichy 70.3 was amended to Weymouth 70.3 as a result of an ITB problem and I missed Bournemouth Triathlon as confidence was low due to the recurring ITB problem.⠀
I did however achieve my first Standard Distance Triathlon at Leeds Castle Triathlon – that was a non wetsuit swim on a very hot day, a very hot and hilly run. My cycle was the best I have done too with a PB for 5km, 20km and 40km on that day.⠀
I completed the Hever Aquabike (1.9km bike and 60km swim) on a very wet morning in Hever and completed Ashburnham Triathlon at the start of the season.⠀
I build from here and will definitely complete my first Ironman 70.3 next season along with many more standard distance triathlons. I have a new plan and working with the physio and coach we have worked out what has been causing the injuries. Winter is coming and training will support the process of being in a better place for next season. Good to be part of a triathlon community that is so supportive and encouraging. 3 years ago I was a lot heavier and unfit, I feel fit and on my way to where I want to be with swimming, bike and running.
August was a tough month for me. Everything was going well with training when I picked up my hip injury at the end of July. July was supposed to be about going to Vichy and completing my first half Ironman but the impact of a slight hip injury and the recurrence of referral pains in ITB and then hamstring meant I decided to pull Vichy and focus on Weymouth. It was a big decision and I think it was the right one. The niggles continue to plague me but I managed to maintain a consistent month of training. I’m hoping that the next three weeks are focused and strong leading into Bournemouth Triathlon next weekend and Weymouth two weeks later! Nervous for Weymouth but looking forward to Bournemouth!
I completed the Aquabike at Hever Castle Festival of Endurance this morning. It was tough but I learnt a lot from it. I had a good experience overall.
I knew the cycle was going to be hard but it took a lot to overcome my fear of descending in rain with some sharp corners thrown in. I decided to just get through it and not to worry about times or take big risks. The rain was annoying given it’s been sunny all week (the sun came out after the race was over – even more frustrating) but I got through it. There is a point on the route where you see cyclist coming back on the loop to start their return, that was tough seeing them huffing up the hill as you are descending it quickly, you know you have to do the same in 15 minutes time! Mentally and physically challenging with a technical issue thrown in (my cleat bolt came off and I repaired it as best I could in the aid station). It rained a lot over night and this morning making conditions poor and dangerous. I was pleased to finish it. The time wasn’t great but who cares, it was good preparation for the future and I am still on a long journey that has already gone quite far. I enjoyed the swim albeit the river segment was very cold and narrow but my time was ok.
Great to have the family with me this week to provide support – loved seeing them as I left the water and on my return on the bike, it gave me a real boost. Onwards to the next. 3 events in 4 weeks and all completed.