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Race Report: Oulton Park Duathlon

Oulton Park Duathlon was a great day out. I did the sprint distance at this event a couple of years ago when I first started out in triathlon and multisport and didn’t have a great day. I look back and see how far I’ve come since then.

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This time I did the standard distance. Run 2 laps of Oulton Park motor racing circuit, then 9 laps on the bike and finishing off with a single lap run.
Nice smooth, closed roads which was steadily undulating but manageable for a chap who rides in the Peak District!
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My fiancé Lynsey came along with me to the race. It was nice to have her there. I’m admittedly unsociable around these events, I struggle to talk to folks in general before a race. Lynsey was fun to have around, she is very sporty and competitive herself (I was over at Wakefield watching her play hockey the day before so she owed me a cold day on the sidelines!).
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Everyone bombed off at the start of the race. Seriously, went off out of a cannon. It’s laughable at how poorly paced and excited some folks can be when the gun goes. I stuck to a pace that my training was indicating I was capable of and by the end of lap 1 I was reeling people back in and by lap 2 everyone had come back to me and they were breathing rather heavily.
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I was fairly conservative on that first run, knowing I would unleash on the bike. I made up 15 places alone on the bike leg. Felt great, holding a solid effort, consistent lap times all within a second of each other averaging 23mph. Bike felt great and I was unsure how my cycling was at the minute. There is only so much you can tell from a turbo trainer, especially as I turbo train to heart rate so I’m always working hard on the bike. Long rides have been pretty inconsistent with the variable weather so I was happy to see a really competitive bike split. I did add a few bolt-on parts to the bike over winter which I’ll come on to in another post.
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Transitions were on point, even topping the charts on T2. I only add this footnote because I hadn’t practised them at all!
Run 2 I felt fairly beat. It was the longest lap of the day. I went toe to toe with another chap who broke me on the final incline. I had a comfortable lead from the next guy so I consolidated my position and despite how slow it felt, it was on par with most of the other guys.
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14th overall and 3rd in my age group. Not a bad return and a huge confidence booster to see that riding my bike in anger is still roughly where it was. Speedwise anyway, I will be wanting to hold a similar average speed for IMUK so I will need to look at some endurance to hold that.
A good race, well ran event at a venue that lends itself to a simple and well executed race. On to the next one.
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Pre Season Bike Fit

It’s been good to finally get outside and even throw in the odd spring event recently. It’s been difficult to chase those cycling miles over the winter, so I’ve taken the opportunity to mix up the riding and also get the all important bike fit done before the race season rolls around.

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I’ve had the mountain bike out quite a lot over winter and used this as a good alternative to the turbo trainer. The Mountain bike works you hard and has transferable skills for bike handling and is much more accessible in all weathers. Now it’s a bit more bearable to get out on the road bike and clock up some miles in the Peak District hills, it means I’ve not had to sacrifice too many weekends to the indoor turbo sessions. It’s great having North Wales and The Peak District on the relative doorstep of South Manchester.

Bike Fitting at Paul's

Bike Fitting at Paul’s

The time spent not racing was a good chance to get the TT bike dialed in and set up for the season ahead. I had a great bike fit session at Paul Savage’s (www.Physio-Coach.co.uk), tweaking my position to get the best possible fit. With my main races being the British Middle Distance Championship at Bala and the European Long Distance Championship in Weymouth we reached a set up that isn’t too aggressive and means I can comfortably stay on the aero bars for long periods. It’s a thorough process and an important one to get right.

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Getting the bike fit done before the season kicks in means I have plenty of time to get used to it and familiar with the set up as each Mountain bike, road bike and TT bike are all slightly different. I won’t have to touch this again now so everything is on point and ready to go racing.

Spesh

My road bike is an old Specialized Allez Sport that I don’t mind running into the ground and is heavy. Once I switch to the TT bike (Cannondale Slice) it feels so slick and light and easy to go quick on. The training effect of the old tank-like Spesh is actually a great benefit when I swing a leg over the Slice. I don’t think I’d be allowed another bike even if I did want to upgrade, as when she reads this, I’ll have to admit that I never did actually sell the mountain bike!

Race Report: PruHealth London Triathlon

Race Date: 01/06/14

Race Type: Olympic Distance Triathlon

Result: 2:13:05 / 28th AG / 110th OA

Performance: Great Day 10/10

My first Olympic distance Triathlon and I loved it. Great course, perfect conditions and a race where pretty much everything went to plan. For Breakfast I had 2 slices of jam on toast, a strong coffee and then a banana an hour before my start. I had to ride 6 miles from where I was staying in East London so I was up just before 5am.

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Swim: 26:40

My wave set off at 7:30 on the dot so the sun was just rising which made one length of the Hyde Park Serpentine a bit tricky to spot the buoys. I had to pop up a couple of times just to check I was still on track. I did pack both clear lens goggles and my mirrored lenses and glad I went with the mirrors. Calm water, just got my head down and swam at a constant pace which felt fine and was pleasantly surprised by the time I heard the commentator call.

I never really know what to say about the swim! It’s dark murky water, all I can hear is my breathing and I just concentrate on technique.

T1: 04:02

My helmet, race belt and Garmin were off the bike and laid across the floor. I’m not sure who or why my equipment had been moved about. It was a long 500m run up from the swim exit to T1. I found my bike easily enough and followed the steps in a video (above) I helped produce with Paul Savage recently on transition technique. Elastic bands on the shoes, running holding the seat, leaping mount at the line. Worked fantastically well!

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Bike: 58:45

I’m delighted with my recent bike performance, backing up my Newby Hall Duathlon and Wilmslow Triathlon outings on the Cannondale with the Cole wheels. Averaging 23mph around Hyde Park and feeling really strong. It was the 47th fastest bike time of the entire day, which is something to build great confidence from. I took a Powerbar gel 5 minutes into the ride and also 5 minutes from the end. I had 1 x 500ml water bottle on my torpedo aero bar mount. A nice 5 lap course, with a touch of traffic, but nothing significant. Flat with a few speed humps and two tight turns. Fully closed roads so just get the legs pumping and work hard for as long as possible.

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T2: 02:01

Again, a textbook dismount and entry into transition. It was tight on the racks and someone had racked their bike in my place, so I had to shift a few things around to get near my shoes. No problem. I was on the with shoes and out on the run and feeling really fit. I had my run legs from the off and felt my bike had set me up for a good day if I didn’t blow up on the run.

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Run: 41:40 (PB)

This 10k time is my out and out PB, which is fantastic to achieve in a triathlon. I had been feeling good about my running recently, seeing some vast improvements. I got a couple of fast miles in and then began to tail off, but all in good time. It was a 4 lap run around the Serpentine with a long-ish drag but by no means a hilly course. It was beginning to get hot in the day now, I just held on and tried not to let up although my calves were screaming at me. I paced it perfectly, crossed the line in a time I am delighted with and rounded off a great performance in terms of sticking to and over-delivering a race plan.

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Finish: 2:13:05

Really happy with the result. I finished high up in my Age Group and also did well in the overall classification. My bike time being the stand out performance on paper, although it has to be my run that I personally take most gratification from. This was my final race outing until I head to the European Championship in September. It’s all sneaking up quickly but London was a great event to see where I am currently at. I didn’t mention this, but I was at a midweek wedding in Ireland which involved a few Guinness’ and a couple of servings of cake only a few days before!

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Selfie with The Brownlees

Happy days. It was good to make a weekend of it too. I went down on Saturday morning from Manchester and got registered and also watched the Elite Men Sprint Race, which Mola took out in fine fashion. It was cool to see these guys close up and burying themselves for the win.

Take a look at all my pics from the ITU World Series Weekend below:

Race Report: Wilmslow Triathlon 2014

Race Date: 11/05/14

Race Type: Sprint Triathlon

Result: 6th AG / 20th Overall

Performance: Mixed day 7/10

My swim time meant I started in a wave later in the day at 13:20, so it was a late start for a race. A couple of benefits meant it gave me chance to chill in the morning and have a big breakfast without rushing. I could watch the weather slowly brighten up. And thirdly I had my steak & Guinness pie in the slow cooker for when I got back.

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Swim – 400m – 7:33

The time is inclusive of the run out of the pool up to T1, as I was surprised at my time and thought I’d had a decent go. I set off at the front of my wave, everyone with predicted times of 7:10. I overtook 3 people in the 16 lengths, which meant there may have been a few ego times in there, which were far from accurate. I had to sit my final length behind a much slower swimmer, but overall I was happy with how I swam and kept up a good pace without tiring, which has been apparent in my threshold training sets.

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Bike – 24.2k – 40::59

It never felt the wind was behind us on the bike! I had another solid ride, backing up my performance from Newby Hall Duathlon. I feel really good on the bike at the minute. This time I held an average pace of 22mph in not ideal conditions this was a good effort for me. I learned one lesson – not to have Lucozade in my Torpedo Mount cage between the aero bars. The first sip I took resulted in spillage and sticky levers, handlebars and hands.

I came into T1 at the same time as my racked neighbour, who in turn knocked my helmet off my bars and sent all my neatly set race belt, watch and sunglasses sprawling across the floor. I lost a few seconds in T1, but I had been practising my mount which worked well, using the elastic bands with the shoes ready clipped in. Something I am gaining a lot of confidence in now is my approach to transition and being far less daunted by the list of things to do in such a short space of time.

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Run – 6.3k – 27:33

Mud! The course had been fairly chewed up across the day and I went down a couple of times while negotiating the slippery field out of transition and into the tree covered paths out and back. The run course is actually quite tricky, a few hills and two foot bridges to cross. Very slippery and not very welcome on a tri run route, but you have to play whats in front of you. I felt I was in a race for the first time in a while. I had been overtaken and then kept in touch with a guy on the bike and began to reel him on the run. I was setting up for a late spurt until I slipped up for the second time and the final footbridge broke me.

Overall – 1:17:44 – 6th in Age Group / 20th Overall

I was originally a bit disheartened at the end of the race. There could be a list of excuses – slower swim traffic, shocking drivers out on the bike course on very busy roads, and a few slip ups on the run. A poor T1 didn’t help, but in hindsight when I looked back at the result it was the best I could have hoped for. I was 37 seconds off 5th which may have been attainable on a perfect day, but much further back from the lead group which no added training could have bridged. So overall, I can take away a decent day out and some confidence going into London Pru Health Triathlon on June 1st, my first Olympic Distance Tri.

Strava Bike

Strava Run

Full Results

Race Photography

Race Organiser – Xtra Mile Events

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Note Worthy improvement from when I did this event back in 2011 (the run was 5.6k in 2011). This was my first ever Triathlon and ironically my now coach Paul Savage features on the podium!

Swim – 9:12 / Bike – 48:48 / Run – 26:26.

AG position – 16th / Overall position – 161st

 

Race Report: Newby Hall Duathlon 2014

Race Date: 13/04/14

Race Type: Standard Distance Duathlon

Result: 11th AG

Performance: Satisfied 7/10

My first standard distance duathlon – Run 10k / Bike 40k / Run 5k – and as art of the England National Championship, organised by Function Fitness Events. This was telling with a very strong field and some big performances across the age groups.

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A flat and fast course around the beautiful Newby Hall near Ripon in North Yorkshire, with the run route taking on a small stint on the trails and gravel path around the grounds. A tight, narrow but nearly fully closed bike route was windy and exposed but made for a fast pace.

Run 1 – 43:17

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I set off with the pace of around 7:10 minute miles in mind. I held this and stuck to the plan to bring home a solid 10k, actually my second best ever time over the distance in all competitions. I was warm and had thought I’d over-dressed slightly, but this was to be levelled out come the bike leg!

I felt I still had something in the tank at the end of the run, and had watched the field run ahead, ending the leg in 111th.

Bike – 1:13:47

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I used elastic bands on my clipped in bike shoes for the first time, something I practised on the park the day before. this worked a treat and I was out on the bike in a good time. I just got my head down and worked my ass off on the bike, not holding back at all. My recent riding and hard turbo sessions had got me psychologically ready to be riding hard for 25 miles. I made up a lot of places on the bike and posted the 42nd best time of the day, holding around 20.5mph average.

It was the first time I’d used my Cole T50 wheels and also my Giro Air Attack in competition. I was very happy with these and they certainly made a step up in performance.

Run 2 – 22:19

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Again, I went through transition in a good time and was out on the final lap of the run. I just tried to hang on and see what I had left. It was beginning to hurt and I just had to bring it home. It was good to give myself a good beasting and get some sharpness back  that you can only really achieve in a race situation. You will work harder under race conditions regardless. I pushed to the end, and took 72nd overall and 11th in my Age Group.

Finish time: 2:20:38

Overall not a bad result considering the strength and depth of the national Age Group field and also pleasing to see my tempo runs paying off alongside a very solid bike leg, which I take most pleasure from.

A nice course, well ran event and perhaps a good early start to my 2014 season.

Triathlon England Race Report – REPORT

Free Photography – PHOTOS

Full Results – RESULTS

Controversial Referee’s Report – REPORT

 

Cost of Ironman

An Ironman takes a lot dedication and motivation to go training and maintain that discipline for months leading up to the event. However, it also take a lot of personal time and also ca$h.
Everyone’s budget is different. You could complete an Ironman on a £500 aluminium road bike or you could splash £5, 000+ on a carbon TT machine, but radio producing doesn’t pay that well!
Here’s is an overlook of roughly what it cost me. Kicking off with the £420 entry fee…

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Swim:
I got my wetsuit in the January Sales from Wiggle and it cost me £90. A Blueseventy Sprint. A decent deal for a quality wetsuit so January seems like a good time to buy this gear. I wasn’t to actually wear the suit in the open water until May. Speedo Aqua Socket goggles set me back £12 and I swam in my old running shorts. The running shorts created a bit of drag and as I was keeping a close eye on my progression in the pool, I kept using the running shorts to keep the consistency for my time comparisons.
A silver membership at uSwim Salford Quays will set you back £59. I swam at the Aquatics Centre in Manchester which is a venue of Manchester Sport and Leisure scheme, so I was able to get a membership card making my pool trips £1.90 rather than the full price of £3.10. You need to live within a certain postcode to qualify for the Manchester Sport and Leisure pass.
46 pool sessions at £1.90 = £157

Total Swim Cost: £318

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Bike:
I began my training and had the original intention of doing Ironman on my 2010 Specialized Allez Sport road bike. It was great to train on, being reasonably heavy and robust, but I eventually made the decision to buy a Carbon Fibre TT bike. I was only looking at entry level, which was reasonably future proof and above all – was a good fit.
I went with the Cannondale Slice 105, from Royles in Wilmslow for £1800. I could not be happier with this bike and it was arguably the biggest factor in my race time. If you can literally buy time, spend it on a TT bike.
I already had shoes, pedals and a helmet but I did add some pieces of riding kit for comfort on those long days in the saddle, roughly £80. I toyed with the idea of spending extra on the bike – e.g a Fizik Arione Saddle (£90) – but I kept the bike standard in the end.
There was general maintenance of the bike to keep up including inner tubes (Continental Race 28’s) and CO2, plus the cost of running the bike would amount to around £50. There’s a guide here on CO2 and the top inflators to help you choose.

Total Bike Cost: £1930

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Run:
It’s just a pair of trainers? Yeah I suppose, but these can creep up in price. I stuck with what I knew from my injury free running, so wore Nike Lunar – £70. You need a decent set of socks, but these can be found in Sports Direct for half the price of a running shop.
I already had elastic laces and a race belt for my number.
The streets and canal paths of Manchester are free so just go for it.

Total Run Cost: £75

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Nutrition:
Massively important for race day and this means you need to train with what you plan on taking on race day. IMUK was sponsored by Powerbar so they had bars and gels being handed out on the course. I had trained with my SiS bars & didn’t want to try something new on race day just because it was free! 25 SiS Go Bars bars will set you back £25 and I bought two boxes of these. The SiS website has some good advice for Ironman nutrition here. When running, I did train with Powerbar gels, the same ones they would have in the race. I would take the gels every 3 miles on my training runs, trying to mirror the times they would appear on the run course. Holland and Barrett had an offer on these so I filled my boots. Still got some left actually – £12
Eating healthy and buying fresh is great but can get expensive, but you save all that money from not drinking(!) so its fine.

Total Nutrition Cost: £62

Misc:
Training on the course was handy, but I would get the train up to Buckshaw Village where I could start the loop of the route. This was £10 each time. Coaching and physio is important, to stay on top of niggles and keep a plan in place – £500.

Total Ironman Cost: £3, 526

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You can go nuts on spending. I was local to the event so my travel were costs were minimal. I benefited massively from having a coach and found this a good use of money. If you pay for it, you’re more likely to stick the plan! I also saw this as my equivalent of a club membership. My working hours are great for triathlon training – 5am to 1pm – so joining a club would not have been beneficial for me. Waiting around all day for the session when I could have complete my training that afternoon, plus I got to bed at 9pm!
I didn’t work with a power meter or heart rate monitor as I’m just not that passionate about stats and I found riding on feeling was a better judge for my race pace. This tech can get expensive & works very well for some people. I had an £80 Timex sports watch that was perfect for what I needed.

Bike Shopping

My retirement from motocross racing has meant that with a heavy heart, I have put the bike up for sale. It’s an expensive hobby that was asking a lot from myself and my dear old Dad who works on prepping the bike ready to race each week. The toll MX was taking on my ageing body was also a factor. It was taking me 3 days to be able to put my own socks on. This is a sport full of demands and a time has come where I needed to fess up Pop and decide our time in the sun was coming to an end and ready to hang up the bike boots.
However! With the potential bike money burning a hole in my tri suit pocket, I am looking at investing in a Triathlon bike. My road bike is great, don’t me wrong, she has done me proud in the 3 years I’ve had her. We’ve done plenty of miles and she still never misses a gear, handles like a dream and has been worth every penny. Ideally, I’d love to hold on to it should I do a Sportive or coax the misses into coming out with me one day. Although I can only ride one bike at a time so I’d be looking at getting rid of the Spesh to help put towards the new stead.

I’ve narrowed it down to the following:

Cannondale Slice 105 – £1799

Cannondale Slice 105

Cannondale Slice 105

Boardman Air Elite 9.0. – £1999

Boardman Air TT 9.0

Boardman Air TT 9.0

I’ve read ample reviews and weighed up the options of what would suit me best.
– Full carbon frame
– Future Proof (last me another 3 years with minimum investment)
– Makes me go faster
– Comfortable over long distances
– Value for money

The other thing to consider is the timing. IMUK is 16 weeks away and I have done 8 months training on my road bike. Hopefully this fitness will be transferable but I do need as much bike time on the tri bike as possible before I go racing it over 112 miles. It’s a big commitment, but I also don’t want to be regretting my bike split because I got the bike after IMUK!

Both bikes are very stylish, well made and read very well in reviews. The Boardman has the Fizik Arione seat and the hidden brakes. Both have internal cable routing, full carbon frame, fork and seat post. Both are suitable entry level tri bikes and both look like they only need a set of wheels bolting on. I currently have the Kinetic 2’s on the Spesh which I can transfer easily enough. A mid-range upgrade, although not carbon, are lighter and stronger than the standard wheel set.

If you have either of these bikes please do let know what you like/dislike with each. I’, looking forward to getting stuck in.

Book Review – ‘Bad Blood’ by Jeremy Whittle

I read ‘Bad Blood’ off the back of of reading Tyler Hamilton’s ‘The Secret Race‘. It was in the references and I thought it would fill some gaps on my knowledge of the sport.

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It’s written by journalist Jeremy Whittle and it is a great piece of journalism by a fan. All journalists are fans of the sports they work in and reading books like this has helped me enjoy the recent Tour of Oman and Paris-Nice coverage because I now know a lot more about the sport. It’s good. It’s interesting and did exactly what I wanted it to do, just fill my down time from training with some training related literature. It’s not going to give me inspiration to go training or teach me anything technical about the sport I do, but its short and digestible – a good piece of journalism. Worth having on your shelf.
I had a brief spell as a radio sports journalist, covering football, rugby and cricket across Yorkshire. It was a good stepping stone for my career but it took away a lot of the love I had for sport. I am a fan through and through and having to turn watching into a job rather than doing into a hobby actually made a dent in my passion for sport rather than the dream job I anticipated it to be.

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When I got to cover a Nottingham Forest match it was made for me. My boyhood club, access to the players, my questions direct to my heroes and I could even sneak my Dad in as my ‘assistant’. Alas, I’d officially mixed work with pleasure and it wasn’t cool. Whittle talks about his fork in the road where he knew what was going on in the doping world, but almost didn’t want to accept it and was forced to choose. The heartbreak of being so deep inside the sport, he knew the darker side which, when you dedicate your life to that sport, must be tough to accept even as a seasoned journalist.

Training Is Changing

I’m back training after a week of feeling pretty run down and coldy. Last weeks big ride may have been a little too much and I paid the price for being out in the cold for so long. I was back visiting my folks and had a bit of rest up instead of keeping the training going and making myself worse.

Starting back this week fresh was worth it. Being back running has been a great introduction as I’ve progressively added miles. I don’t think I’ll ever be full of confidence with my ITB history so reaching 4 miles in my running rehab has almost been as rewarding as when I first nailed that 3k swim.

The turbo sessions now have more intervals in there, varied and now on back to back days. I spread the intervals over a 75min session and usually with a bit of India v England test cricket on the box. It’s all getting a bit chilly out there so the turbo is becoming my best friend. If I only I could make use of that wattage the thing produces it could power the Christmas lights. Or even be used as a record player like this!

My swimming continues to be strong and consistent. I’ve introduced some more basic drills to my sessions, now my base fitness is reaching a decent level. Working off time and distance is all new to me and my lack of swimming experience. I’ve done 20 x 100m off 2min 30 & also 10 x 200m off 4min 30. Both are pretty exhausting by the end. My second day of swimming is combination of swim and pull buoy for a bit of fitness and technique.

As well as my Training Log on here, I also update my activity on a wall planner that I see first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed. A good reminder!

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Swim – Orange, Bike – Green, Run – Yellow, Race – Star

Work, Rest & Train

My usual work hours are 4:30am to 1pm so I am somewhat of an early bird naturally, but this last week I have been doing normal office hours while the boss is on annual leave and I’ve had to cover his unenviably tasks.

It’s not only interesting to see how little the gaffa does, but also how I’ve had to juggle my usual training times around my working life for the first time. Normally when I get back in an afternoon, I have an hour nap and then do my days training. This has endless benefits – swimming is quieter, I can turbo train before my housemate gets back and I can run in the light and then still have something of an evening if the missus is making time demands*.

Turbo sessions take over the flat

Doing 9 to 5 has thrown me out of kilter. On Monday I did my run before work which felt great and set me up for the day. Tuesday I battled through a busy evening swim session from 8:30pm which was more frustrating than productive. Wednesday I had to hop on the turbo as soon as I walked in to beat my housemate getting home. The last thing he wants to see after a day of work is a sweaty man in lycra in his living room. And because I have plans for Thursday evening, I had to swim before work, which was a 5:30am wake up to be at the pool for 6:30.
Friday and I’m on the turbo again before I have to quickly sort myself out for the Christmas Lights switch on that starts at 7pm. Popular boy band The Wanted don’t wait for anyone!

*Missus Demands

The days drag at work and knowing I have to train as soon as I get in has become quite demoralising. But when I get it out of the way in the morning, it’s nice to know I have an evening off.
Add a spouse, a couple of kids, an extra hour staying late at work and the training will take a hit in a lot of peoples lives. I’m lucky to have the hours I do and it’s easy to make them work for me and my training.

Boss loves a nutroast

And by manning the boss’ phone all week I also found out he is going to a posh dinner next week that he kept on the quiet. They called me to check if he had any dietary requirements, so by keeping us out of the loop on this one, he’ll be enjoying his vegetable soup and nut roast on a table that can’t have anyone eating shellfish on it. Just spread the love dude!