My events for next year are starting to take shape

It is at this time of year that most Triathletes start to look forward to their events for the following Triathlon season.  In my case I already have my “A” race organised in the form of Challenge Weymouth, which takes place in September.  Just in case you need reminding, Challenge Weymouth is an Iron Distance event.  2.4mile swim – 112 mile bike – 26.2 mile marathon.

There are a few key milestones that I would like to tick off before jumping in the sea at Weymouth.  These are both mental and physical.

  1. I want to have completed a full marathon.
  2. I want to have completed at least 5 bike rides over 112 miles.
  3. I want to have logged at least 10 swims over the 2.5 mile mark.

As things stand at the moment I am already capable of number 2 and 3.  I could cycle 112 miles (thought it would likely take me more than 7 hours) and I could swim 2.5 miles (but again this would likely take between 1.5 and 2 hours).  There is no way in hell I could run a full marathon!!!!

In order to finish Challenge Weymouth in a reasonable time I need to be aiming for the following.

  • 2.4 mile swim – 90 minutes or under (ideally closer to 75)
  • 112 mile bike – 6 hours (this is an average speed of just over 18.5mph)
  • 26.2 mile run – 4 hours (average pace of 9 minute mile)
This would give me a total finishing time of around 12 hours, allowing for time in transition etc.  

Now in reality a 12 hour Ironman race is a very good time for a first time competitor and an even better time for somebody like me with only 1 years triathlon experience under my belt.  That being said this is the target I am going to aim for.

So back to the original point.  To help me with my 3 milestones I want to achieve, I have booked up the Brighton Marathon on the 12th April.  I will be running this for the Chestnut Tree House.  These are the guys who cared for Amber whilst she was at the end of her battle with Neuroblastoma.  They are an outstanding charity funded entirely by donations and it is a pleasure to run for them.

I will also make sure to complete my fair share of long rides once the weather improves.  Most likely I will do this on my own; however I may enter a few Sportive events to practice competing with other riders around.

Swimming wise, I will join the Pompey Triathletes for regular sea swims on Saturday mornings once the Spring is here.  I can swim around 3k each Saturday morning with them and on occasion simply go a bit further to get up to the 2.5 mile mark.

All this is well and good, but it all happens in the Spring.  So the winter will be spent trying to get some base level of fitness and slowly increasing my running distances up to Marathon length.  I have a plan (of sorts) and am intending on getting a proper training plan from a Triathlon coach to help me through.  Will probably do this in December.

So that is about it for this update.  Not very interesting (sorry about that) but is worth noting it down here I felt.

Hope you are all well.



Winter is coming

As Ned Stark and those who live in the North like to remind us, Winter is coming.  The clocks have gone back an hour, and soon it will be dark at 4 pm.  Now any sensible person uses this time of year to put on a nice big jumper, get out the red wine and chill on the sofa, waiting out the winter.  Spring arrives and we all emerge from our winter lairs, usually a few pounds heavier.  We start to think about maybe doing some exercise for the upcoming summer.  Triathletes start to panic that they should have done more over the winter!

Well this year this is not going to be me.  My training has taken a real back seat the last couple of weeks because I have had a cold that simply would not shift.  Finally this morning I am feeling OK again and am looking forward to throwing myself back into some exercise.

Over the last 4 weeks I have managed to complete the following.

  • 2 hrs 51 mins of swimming, covering just over 5km
  • 9 hrs 40 mins of cycling, covering 242km
  • 31 minutes of running, covering 5.77km
  • 3 hrs 40 mins of strength training work
Now considering that all of that was essentially done in 2 weeks as I have been unwell for the other two, it is not a total disaster.

There were a few low-lights from the last few weeks which are worth noting.

  • I missed the Wiggle South Downs Sportive (sorry to have let you down Waitey) due to a combination of illness and mega cramping that I am still getting from time to time,
  • I pulled out of the Great South Run, due to concern that pushing myself to do 10 miles would set my shin splints off again.
There were also a few highlights.

  • I have started attending Triathlon specific training sessions which I love.  I will post about these separately, but they are great and am really enjoying it.
  • So far I have managed to lose about half a stone (without really doing anything too major) so am hopeful I will be able to lose some more over the next few months.
One thing I have learned from all of this training I have been trying to do lately, is that patience is a virtue that you simply must have.  Sometimes it is impossible to train due to work or personal commitments.  Sometimes you get ill/injured and cannot train.  These things cannot be legislated for.  There is no point getting frustrated or annoyed at these little setbacks.  All you need to do is make sure that when you are well, not injured and you do get a chance to train you use that session wisely and give it 100%.  

So with that in mind, it’s off to the gym tonight for some strength and mobility work.  Turbo Trainer and then a brick run on Tuesday, Wednesday will be Bike/Mobility/Swim at the gym, Thursday on the Turbo and a swim at the gym on Friday.  Saturday is a trip to Twickenham to watch the Barbarians vs Australia, which will undo all of the good I have done myself.  

Oh well.   🙂

TTFN     James

Barefeet – the way forward

As some of you who read my blog and others of you who have seen me do it will know, I recently converted to running barefoot.

My reasoning was sound.  I have suffered running injuries for years and was searching to understand why.  I read some books, converted to barefoot running and have been injury free ever since.  Granted I haven’t done mega mileage barefoot, but I have done enough to be confident if I continue this way I will strengthen my feet and be a lot less injury prone.

I am intending on doing a big write up on this with links and information in the next few days.  In the interim (and to whet your appetite) here is an article on how to choose children’s shoes that will get you thinking a bit.



It’s a real mixed bag of emotions in the Ironsnook camp

It has now been about 10 days since I signed up for Challenge Weymouth, my first ever Iron Distance race.  By way of a reminder and for those people new to my blog, an Iron Distance race is consists of a  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run raced one after an other.  There is a cut off time of 16hrs and 30 minutes for Challenge Weymouth.  I am predicting a time around 16hours 29 minutes!!!

In the last 10 days I have veered from one emotion to another regarding this incredibly daunting race.  Initially I was terrified.  Can I even get fit enough to complete this?  Is a year long enough to train?  Will I be one of the unfortunate souls whose kidneys shut down during the race and require hospitalisation (yes Mum, this does happen to a few people!)  Will I even make it to the start line?  Will injury prevent me from competing?

Added to this fear is the pressure I feel. The reason I am doing this is far greater than one man wanting to become an Ironman.  There is nothing wrong with taking on this challenge just because it is there. 1000’s of people do just that ever year.  My calling to become an Ironman was nothing to do with a burning desire to train and exercise.  If anything I was quite happy being a couch potato.  The fact that I am racing to raise money for The Chestnut Tree House hospice, who have provided such outstanding support and care to my friends during a horrid time in their lives heaps the pressure onto me.  Nobody is putting this pressure onto me other than me.  It is an internal drive and desire that I have rarely felt before.  With this comes the realisation that if I fail and cannot complete the race I am letting so many people down.  I am not a religious man, but I am tempted to start praying that I am able to make the start line in reasonable condition and haul my arse round the course in less than 16hrs 30 minutes.

I think that pretty much covers the fear element 🙂  

The other emotion I keep feeling is a sense of excitement and joy that I am taking on this challenge with two very good friends, the day itself will most likely be amazing and if all goes to plan I will raise some money for a very good cause and get to call myself an Ironman.  It is bizarre to feel so excited about something that also scares me to death.  The only similar experience I have had is when I became a Dad.  Exciting and terrifying in equal measure.  So far that seems to have gone OK, but to be fair it didn’t require me to train for hours and hours, week after week.  My wife did all the hard work on that one.

Lastly and probably most importantly I finally feel a real and deep desire to train.  I have never, ever felt this before.  I played football as a kid, but treated the training sessions as a bit of a muck around if I am honest.  I have dabbled with weight training at the gym, but never really put any concerted effort into it.  I have occasionally done a bit of running, then given up because I couldn’t be arsed.  Training for this Ironman seems to be entirely different.  If I am being entirely frank with myself, although I have competed in 4 triathlons this year I really didn’t put in enough training.  I was taking part just to complete the races and knew deep inside that I was fit enough to plod round an Olympic distance triathlon.  Because of this, I probably trained a couple of hours a week, with an occasional long bike ride thrown in just because I like riding the bike.  

All of this lackadaisical attitude seems to have melted away as soon as I booked up Weymouth.  I have bought a Turbo Trainer and love it.  For those of you who are not familiar with a Turbo Trainer, they are one of the best torture devices ever invented.  Essentially it allows you to use your normal bike as a static bike at home.  You get as much out of them as you put in.  Cycle hard on the Turbo and when you get back out on the road it all seems a lot easier.  That’s the plan anyway.  I haven’t yet been on the road since getting the Turbo.  Fingers crossed my master plan works.  

Anyway back to the plot.  I have written a training plan and have managed to stick with it quite well so far.  I have joined a gym where they run twice weekly Triathlon specific training sessions which I will be attending from Monday.  I even got up early on a Sunday to go for a swim!  All in all it is fair to say I am enjoying my training.  I do feel fitter and Cat already says she can see that the Turbo sessions are tiring me out less.  Time to put more effort into those I feel!

The only missing link is the running.  I am still in a very slow build up to any sort of reasonable mileage following being diagnosed with shin splints.  The plan is to get to 5k distance by the New Year.  Very slow progression, but this is the way it has to be.  I have also discovered barefoot running.  This is exactly what is says on the tin.  You run with no shoes and socks on.  Since starting running barefoot I have had no shin pain.  Am convinced it is the way forward.  I won’t be competing barefoot (at least I don’t think I will at the moment) but will continue to train this way.  Ken Bob Saxton is the main man for barefooting.  Anybody who has ever suffered a running injury should read his website.  It might just change your life.   Plus who wouldn’t be interested in finding out more about a man with such a superb beard!

So that is about it for the time being.  It is my intention to post twice monthly updates on how my training is progressing.  The first one of these will be in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime wishing you all much love and happiness.  Any of you Portsmouth based people, if you fancy meeting up for a swim, bike ride or a very short run let me know 🙂