Archive for March, 2012

So today I had a physio appointment booked for after work to see whether I’d be able to race this weekend.I knew that doing the Wicklow Way trail was out of the question but I had some other options depending on how well healed up I was – either the Naas Duathlon (3.5km run, 20km cycle, 3.5km run) or the Lap of Laois charity cycle (60km). Before that though I called into McLoughlins Cycles as I’d spoken to Alison earlier in the week and she told me they’d have some lovely spanky new sponsored kit for me.

I’d seen some of the McLoughlins branded cycling gear in the shop and hoped mine would be the same as it looked great, primarily black (always the best colour) with white and red trim, so needless to say I was delighted when Alison presented me with the very same. She game me the cycling jersey to try on first, and then the matching shorts. Obviously I was delighted with those, but then to make things even better she gave me one of their trisuits as well. Due to the figure hugging, unforgiving nature of trisuits some of them can look a little gimpy at times, however I happen to think these ones look fantastic, all black with just a smattering of red lettering. Before I left the shop Alison sorted me out with some electrolyte drinks and arranged getting my bike in for a service as soon as it suited me. This really is fantastic. I’m being treated like a proper, legitimate athlete and I really can’t thank McLoughlins enough for their support.

After that it was up to the physio for a once over and, hopefully, a pre-race massage. Realtin was the physio looking after me tonight and after a quick chat and examination she was happy enough to let me race this weekend. She said my calf wasn’t an issue at all now, but my right hamstring was a slight cause for concern. As is often the case it appeared that it was actually my lower back that was the seat of the problem, rather than the hamstring itself. We agreed that I should book a session of deep tissue massage for my back for next week, and today’s session would just be a rub down to get me loose and relaxed in preparation for Sunday.

So having got all my fantastic new gear, and the all clear to race this weekend, I thought that today couldn’t get any better, and I was absolutely right. It didn’t. I went for a swim when I got back from Newbridge and as so often happens, I seemed be right back where I was before last Wednesday evening’s session with Mark. No matter what I tried to do I got to roughly the half way point in the pool and then I just stopped – either out of breath or out of momentum or out of pure frustration. After an incredibly irritating hour, filled with setbacks, I eventually gave up and went to sit in the steam room for a while, just to have a think and try to figure out what exactly was going wrong. After some consideration I realised that there were a number of things slowing/stopping my progress:

  1. Over analysing everything I do. In the coached sessions I have I just do whatever I’m told to do whenever I’m told to do it and without thinking. I have a really bad habbit of stopping when I think I’ve done or am doing something wrong but I don’t do that any more with Mark. I do the drill he tells me to, then let him tell me what (if anything) I’m doing wrong at the end of it.
  2. Constantly stopping feeds into the negative mindset I have about my swimming. It becomes a vicious circle where I think I’m doing something wrong, so I stop, get frustrated that I’ve stopped and/or am doing something wrong and and making no progress. This is on my mind when I start my next drill or length and so I become fixated on the things I’m doing wrong, causing me to do more things wrong.
  3. The spectre of a 3km swim constantly looming over me. No matter what I do during a solo session in the pool whenever things start to go awry my thoughts will invariably turn to attempting to swim 3km. That’s 3,000m. Right now I’m struggling to swim 30m. How the hell am I supposed to swim 100 times this distance, or to spell it out a little more starkly, another 2,970m. I’m going absolutely nowhere here so the best thing to do is cut my losses now, come back tomorrow/the next day/the day after that for a good long session and get really into it then. Well I’m sorry but the 2nd of June is really not too far away and here I am still nowhere near ready. In fact to say I’m nowhere near ready for that kind of swim would be to employ levels of understatement and obfuscation that would guarantee me instant election to any political post in this fair isle. The delusion has to stop here.

Now that I’ve actually admitted that to myself it feels as if a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m still going to do TriAthy, just not the Double Olympic. I could do it, or start it at least, but it would be monumentally stupid of me, not to mention ridiculously irresponsible, as someone, somewhere along the way would have to pull me out of the Barrow. It’s not like doing a really long run where you could just gut it out and keep plodding or grinding along. No one ever drowned on tarmac for a start. Anyway, as I said, I’m still going to do TriAthy, and I’m still definitely going to go long before the end of the year. In fact I’ve started making some tentative plans. Before I set anything in stone however, or more importantly before I actually apply for anything, I’m going to have a good long talk with some people far more qualified than I, and I’m going to make a rational, logical assessment of just what is and isn’t possible.


Days 71 – 82

Posted: March 26, 2012 in March
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I’m some way behind in my daily updates, but I finally have something of note to write about so I’m making an executive decision to skip days 71 – 82 and instead just give you a brief summary:

I ran a tiny bit.

I cycled quite a bit more.

I swam quite a few times, some of them looking like a real person swimming, others looking like a human shaped buoy.

I did manage to do at least one of them every day however, and some days more than one.

Day 70 – Bye Bye Fattie

Posted: March 21, 2012 in March
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I definitely can’t run at the moment, and I didn’t want to go out for a particularly long cycle just to be on the safe side, but I still wanted to get some good work done this morning. I decided to use, yet again, my invaluable turbo trainer so at least if I felt anything at all up with my leg I could stop. I ended up having a really good two hour session and completing all of it with no problems. A fantastic way to start the day.

10 minutes (really careful) warmup

20 minutes @ 120-130bpm

15 minutes @ 130-140 bpm

10 minutes @ 140-150 bpm

5 minutes @ 150-160 bpm

5 minutes @ 150-160 bpm

10 minutes @ 140-150 bpm

15 minutes @ 130-140 bpm

20 minutes @ 120-130bpm

10 minutes cool down

Day 69 – Amnesiac

Posted: March 21, 2012 in March
Tags: ,

Why oh why do I forget absolutely everything I’ve learned when I swim by myself? Not good. Not good at all.

Day 68 – Pain (the Good Kind)

Posted: March 21, 2012 in March
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In a rare moment of sensible and clear thinking I’d made an appointment with the physio for tonight but all day long I’d been petrified at the though that she was going to tell me my calf was torn, meaning no running for the best part of two months. I’d actually even considered going to the physio but not telling her the full extent of the injury, which is about as stupid as you can get. What could I possibly hope to achieve from doing that? Trick her into thinking I was less injured than I actually was? Anyway, I showed up for my appointment, dropped my pants and told the physio to do her worst.

The physio (Caroline) was a little bit surprised by my glum demeanour, as, and I quote, “everything had been going so well”. So I explained to her how stupid I’d been, and after some gentle chastising she told me that for being so silly she wasn’t going to have any mercy on me. When I replied that she could be as nasty as she wanted to be, seeing as physio, much like getting a tattoo was good pain, her face absolutely lit up. She went to work on my calf with gusto, and although her initial outburst of “Jesus Christ” on first contact with my afflicted area seemed to confirm my worst fears she soon allayed them as it turned out there was no tear, just an almighty knot. After twenty minutes or so of manual manipulation she cracked out the Guantanamo Bay Electroliser to work on my calf while she attacked my other leg. Forty five minutes later I was walking out of there with a smile a mile wide and some very tingly, but relaxed legs.

I got home soon after and treated myself to a nice, non-torturous session on the turbo trainer (where I was keeping an eye/ear/feel/everything out for any sort twinge or wobble from my leg).


Day 67 – Turkey Shoot

Posted: March 21, 2012 in March

Beginner’s session with the club tonight. Miraculous advances in technique, speed and stamina are yet to materialise.


Not really. Two days later and I’m still hobbling quite badly. In fact my leg is feeling worse than at any stage since I’ve injured it. I’ve made an absolute balls of this haven’t I?

I was down at the pitch this evening training the boys soccer team and I couldn’t even jog five paces on it. By the time I get home it’s too late to go over to the pool though so it’s a gentle, miserable forty minutes on the turbo trainer instead.



Day 65 – Swimming and Sulking

Posted: March 20, 2012 in March

Sulking and swimming.

The club session scheduled for today was a 5km (bike) time trial and seeing as I’d had no negative reaction from my calf all week I decided yesterday that I was going to give it a shot. When I got up this morning and saw what a perfect morning it was I started to get a little excited, and was really looking forward to getting out on my bike for the first time with other people from the club. The more I thought about it really was a perfect morning. In fact almost too perfect….

Too perfect to waste on a 5km cycle when I could go out for a run instead. Nice and crisp and clear, sun shining but nipple bristlingly cold and early enough that there’d be hardly anyone out on the roads. I was going out for a run Godammit. I got my gear on, grabbed my little Sansa Clip, stuck on some Mondo Movie and headed out the door. Because I was being really smart and sensible I decided not to head off on a twenty or thirty kilometre loop, instead I thought I’d just do my four kilometre loop around the town a few times, that way if something did go awry then I wouldn’t be stuck miles from anywhere and hobbling home like a refugee from Dawson’s House of Shame.

Four or so kilometres in and thoughts of hobbling were far from my mind. I was two films into the Mondo Movie Cheapo Italian Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Retrospective and I was feeling good, running further, better and stronger than I had in some time, so I kept going. I started to think then about ten, twelve, fifteen kilometres, maybe taking a turn off the main road and heading towards bandit country. Nothing too hectic mind, nothing off road or at any pace but just keeping run….

Ah shit. It’s alright. It’s alright. It’s just a little tight. It’s still good. Just stretch and slow down, stretch and slow down. But carry on obviously. It was just because we were going up a bit of a slope, that’s all. See now I’ve stretched and slowed down it’s fine again.

So after what was definitely just a minor tightening episode, I carried on. I should probably forget about doing any big distance this morning. I’ll finish off my run, call it a day around the ten kilometre, put my feet up, ice, relax, stretch and ….

Ow, ow, ow, fuck. That’s really tight now. Really, really quiet tight. Thankfully I know exactly what I’m doing so there’s nothing to worry about. Just stretch it out. That’s it, just streeeeeeetch it out. Hmmm. That’s not really working this time. Maybe a little more stretching? Yes, that’s feeling much better now. If by much I mean marginally. And maybe just in my imagination. Actually, that’s what gnarly ultra runner types do isn’t it? Imagine it better. Ignore the pain. No, not ignore the pain, embrace the pain. That’s what I’ll do, embrace the pain and carry on. And so I carry on, arms full of lovely, cuddly pain, visualising myself in a similar scenario in late September with twenty miles still to go to Brighton, stubbornly refusing to give up, steadfastly  carrying on right to the bitter end when my delusions of grandeur, my dreams of embattled glory are rudely interrupted by something in my left calf snapping like a guitar string.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but I really am an almighty moron.


Now this is more like it. I arranged a one to one session with Mark (swim coach) today for just before the club beginners session. It actually ended up being a one to two session as he had another guy scheduled as well but seeing as the other guy was at roughly the same stage I was it was no problem at all.

We just worked on the very basics throughout the session – kick and glide, taking a breath, managing one or two strokes after it. Slow progress but definitely some progress.

The rest of the beginners group came in for the session after that and although I was only approximating what they were doing on their drills it’s still getting some work done, enabling some sort of muscle memory, even if my technique is still pretty terrible/non-existent. All told it was two and a half hours spent in the pool that were probably more constructive than the previous twenty I’d spent. I still haven’t made that breakthrough yet, where this whole swimming thing clicks, but at least I’m not driving home in tears and locking myself in a darkened room just listening to Tindersticks and Tom Waits all night.