Archive for the ‘February’ Category

Well that was better. I had a one on one session arranged with Mark (our swim coach) for this evening, though it actually turned in to a two on the other guy in the session was of comparable ability to me so it really didn’t matter. We spent an hour going through the very basics before the rest of the beginners from the club came in for that session, so in total I spent over two hours in the pool this evening. Although progress is still excruciatingly slow I at least found something I was half decent at – kick off and glide – and I may have finally found out the reason I’m a rubbish swimmer. According to Mark it’s because I’m too muscular and I’d float better if I was fat.


I may be paraphrasing slightly here but it’s not stopping me from repeating it to all and sundry.



I really need to find a better time to go to the pool as this particular session, 20:30-21:30 seems to always be busy. When it is this busy I struggle to find enough space to practice the drills I want to and I invariably get frustrated. This would be so much easier if I was unemployed again.


The usual Monday night club track session was down as a time trial tonight, 400m and 5k. Considering I was feeling nothing untoward from my calf and they were such nice, short distances I thought I’d head over and give them a shot. I got over to the track and made sure I did a nice long warm up before we got started, 1200m really slowly at first before picking up the pace towards the end and throwing in a couple of burst of 70-80% effort. I followed that with lots of dynamic stretching and still felt nothing negative in the calf region and responded really positively when I was talking to our coach about how my injury was progressing.

For the 400m the plan was to send the fastest guys off first, then split all the rest in to two groups. Two of the guys there are in a different league to the rest of us so they went and toed the line, but looking through the list of who was there and who could join them Denise (our coach) then called my name. I’ve never, ever been a quick runner. In fact I’ve always been notably slow. When I was playing a huge amount of football in my younger years I always stationed myself as close as I possibly could to our own goals to compensate for my lack of speed. Even since I’ve started my new life as ‘a runner’ I’m not exactly what you’d call speedy. I have however, much to my surprise and delight, been able to hold my own in any of the sessions I’ve been at with the club, and even found myself up around the top. I have my suspicions that some of the other guys may be sandbagging but regardless, I’ve now been pegged as a strong runner.

My shock at being called to join our two speedsters was soon replaced by horror as the realisation dawned on me that I was now the donkey in a three horse race. If Denise didn’t call anyone else up this was going to look like one of those drag races in Top Gear where they include one horrendously overmatched car for comedy purposes. Thankfully someone else stepped up to the mark so at least we could run in pairs. Never having done one before I had absolutely no idea how to pace myself for a 400m so when we started I slotted in behind quick guy no.2 as he was going at what seemed a manageable pace. It turned out to be a more than manageable pace (lending more creedence to my theory about guys sandbagging) so with about 100 metres to go my league 2 colleague turned it up a bit. I still had a bit more to give myself too so I went with him and we ended up finishing in 1:18 (quick guy no. 1), 1:21 (league 2 colleague), 1:22 (your’s truly) and 1:24 (quick guy no.2)

After a little break we lined up for the 5k, though about half the group were actually going to do a 3k, with them setting off half a lap ahead. Again, short distances like this really aren’t my forte and I’d no idea what my 400m splits should be like. As it was dark I couldn’t even really read my Garmin, so I tried to maintain a pace that I thought would be sustainable for twelve and a half laps. Laps one and two went fine and were at about 1:45 pace, lap three was also going fine until I felt a familiar tightness start to make it’s way up my calf. I slowed down immediately but my calf was tightening quicker than I could slow. I crawled round the second half of the lap but I knew that this wasn’t going away so rather than doing any more harm I stopped as soon as I got round to the finish line. I had a quick chat with Denise and did some stretching there and then but there was nothing much that could be done, and to be honest I wasn’t even really that disheartened. My calf is still healing, I still need to do a lot more recovery and rehab but I at least managed a half decent 400m and a couple of slow kilometres before it gave up the ghost. Plus I think I managed to catch it before I did any more significant damage.

Seeing as my calf was still giving me some trouble I decided to play it safe and not race the trail half marathon in Kerry I was supposed to this weekend. That meant I was (relatively) free today so I volunteered to act as marshall for my triathlon club’s test duathlon. The duathlon was taking place on The Heath, which is roughly fifteen kilometres away, so by cycling there and back I could even get some training in myself.


What had started out as a miserable morning brightened up considerably as I was cycling over, and by the time I got there it was a beautiful morning. Still a bit windy but bright and nicely crisp, almost perfect conditions for racing. Seventeen people from the club lined up to race, ranging from national level atheletes to people attempting their very first race. The set up was surprisingly professional for a club race, we had plenty of marshalls, bike racks and even a timing transponder with a watch for each competitor paired with it. We even managed to get the whole thing started just about the time it was due to start.


This was my first time meeting a lot of people from the club and seeing them in action some of them were seriously impressive. It’s really encouraging seeing how good some of them are though, as I know that I’m getting a lot of the same coaching that they are. Obviously there’s different ability levels and some of them are it it for some time now, but it shows you that the guys up the top at the various races I’ve been to aren’t super human, they’re just regular guys from clubs like mine that are dedicated enough to put the time and work in.


Naturally as soon as the racing started the sun disappeared completely and meant it was pretty chilly standing around out there. Thankfully though everything moved along quite quickly and we were finished within a couple of hours so I hopped on my bike and set off for home. I was initially pretty disappointed about not racing this weekend, either in the trail half or this duathlon, but you have to take the positives from the situation. I still got to train, I managed to help out the club as well as meeting some more of the members and I got a look at what sort of effort is required to get closer to the guys who’d normally have collected their medals and been halfway home by the time I finished my race.


Still buzzing from yesterday’s phone call from Alison in McLoughlins I set out on my bike this morning to spend some time on the area where I’m probably weakest – climbing. That’s more than a little tricky as I live slap bang in the middle of the part of the country which is famous for just how flat it is. You make do with what you have though so I headed for the one small hill near by to do some repeats on it.

After a couple of kilomteres warm up I got to the hill, which while not very high at least gave me roughly one kilometre of a steady climb. The session consisted of ascending the hill at a steady pace, in the same gear for all of it, before a quick descent on the other side and then going straight back up. I did six climbs before heading for home but seeing as I still had some time before our soccer match I decided to make the most of it and turn it in to a brick session.

Apart from a very gentle four kilometres with my wife I’ve done very, very little running since I pulled my calf so I was very mindful of it and took it really easy. I was pleasantly surprised to feel no ill effects, in fact to feel nothing at all, from my calf but I left it at three kilometres (in sixteen minutes) and called it a day then. Once the match finished three quarters of us went on a family outing to Bray where both Brid and I got analysed and fitted for new runners in Amphibian King (Saucony Powergrid’s for her, Brooks Glycerine for me, top notch service all round as usual).

There was no chance Brid was going to let us get away with being anywhere within the vicinity of the sea without going for a walk on the beach, so the next couple of hours were spent on the cobbles of Bray beach and then taking a walk up Bray head. There was only one way you could really top off a day like that so off we went into the city centre to spend ninety minutes watching a Norwegian film about curling.


I forgot to mention that I’m going to be starting a new job in a couple of weeks, which thankfully will mean a shorter commute. I’ll still be driving 160 kilometres a day but that’s 100 kilometres less than I’m currently doing. As much as the phone call offering me the job delighted me I think the one I got today actually delighted me more.

Some time ago I’d got in touch with McLoughlin’s Cycles in Newbridge asking whether they’d be interested in sponsoring me. Since I bought my first bike in there last April I’ve always had really good dealings with Alison and the rest of the guys in the shop and have always found them to be really helpful. I’ve bought bikes before from a large chain and was never happy with the level of customer service, on a technical level or on a personal level, but right from the outset McLoughlins couldn’t have been more different. They spent time talking to me, figuring out what bike best suited me in terms of my ability and what I intended to use it for, rather than just trying to push whatever was needed to make a monthly target. Similarly if I needed to get the bike serviced or when I had a problem with it at Gaelforce last year they did whatever was needed to get it right. I actually bought another bike late last year and again went back to McLoughlins to buy it and got a fantastic deal on it.

When it was suggested to me that I should try to get some sponsorship for my endeavours this year I was a little reticent as I wasn’t really sure (a)if anyone would sponsor me (b)what that sponsorship would consist of and (c) what I could do for them in return, but after getting a feature in the local paper I decided to at least put the wheels in motion.

I got in touch with Alison in McLoughlins and after an amount of discussion back and forth we came to an agreement that would see McLoughlins looking after my bike for the year and me wearing their colours in the races. It’s a little bit surreal to think that I’ll be in some way doing what actual, real atheltes do, but I’m absolutely over the moon about it. I rang my wife, my brother, my friends, everyone I could think of on the way home to tell them about it, and then as soon as I got hom I hopped on my bike and went out for a cycle. If I’m going to get sponsored to do this, and especially by a bike shop, I really don’t want to be down the back of the field getting passed by old ladies with baskets on their bikes.


I finished my second physio session this evening and all seems to be going well. I still have some general tightness throughout my legs and glutes (I do have some pretty tight buns in fairness) but nothing too major. The physio strapped some strange device to my leg that went from 0 – excruciating but I took it like Wesley in The Princess Bride strapped to the torture machine – stoic, still suave and barely a hint of discomfort. Only with slightly less floppy hair*.

I have to say I was pretty happy leaving the physio. Although I wouldn’t be racing this weekend like I’d intended it wouldn’t be long before I was back in full training. I went home and did a session on the turbo trainer and felt absolutely fine afterwards so it looks like it’s onwards and upwards.


*Actually it’s just less hair in general.

I’d been looking forward to this session all week, though still with a tiny amount of trepidation. At last a chance to properly kick off my swim training and start to make some progress. There were five or six people at the session, including the guy who’d been in the beginner’s lane at last Thursday’s club session (though I think he may be there just to show off as he’s really quite good). Mark got straight into it and had us doing lengths of the pool working on a different aspect of our stroke on each one, even breaking the pull, push and so on into smaller parts.

Even this however was too advanced for me so I spent the session trying to emulate what the rest of the group were doing, all the while holding desperately on to a float, clinging to it like a rejected would be lothario does his last shred of dignity by telling all and sundry that he never fancied her anyway. We finished the session and Mark suggested I come to next week’s an hour or so early to get some one on one time in with him so as to start catching up. Needless to say I couldn’t agree quick enough.



Day 52 – I Can But Try

Posted: February 29, 2012 in February
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I’m playing it safe(ish) with my calf at the moment so no track session for me tonight, and seeing as I’ve biked the last two days I headed to the pool instead. I thought as this was the latest evening session the pool might be pretty quiet but it was actually really busy, mostly with people just messing, lollygagging or chatting. Really hard to get anything done but I did what I could.


Day 51 – Flexitime

Posted: February 28, 2012 in February
Tags: , , , , , ,

Seeing as yesterday’s cycle appeared to do me no harm I had a turbo session today – medium gear, high rpm, nice and steady and hopefully doing my calf no damage.

Speaking of my calf, the physio has me doing a series of stretches that will hopefully loosen me right up. Calf, hamstring, quad, glutes and hip flexors x three, three times a day.

Well I’m trying to do them three times a day anyway.