Back On Track

It’s been almost four months since I last updated this blog, and quite a lot has happened in that time. Some good things have happened and some bad things have happened. We’ll start with the bad things and get those out of the way.

Although I ran the Broadland Half Marathon before my last blog post, I have to mention how awful it was. It was my worst running performance in a race to date, my second slowest half marathon (2:01:57) and the least enjoyable event I’ve taken part in. Moving on.

About a month later, I raced the Trowse 10k for the third time. The race itself wasn’t so bad, it was the aftermath of the race which was the bad thing. Most of the race was okay and I was running faster than I had done in months. In hindsight, running on last years fitness wasn’t the best idea. I finished the race in 46:13, which isn’t close to my PB but I was pleased with my sudden increase in pace. Immediately after the race I felt great, picked up my medal, hopped on my bike and rode home. A few hours later after resting, I tried walking up the stairs, got halfway up found myself in agony with a stabbing pain in my knee. My knee pain was back again.

Trowse 10k 2014

Trowse 10k 2014

In the proceeding weeks, I had regular physio sessions with Anna at Physio Kinetic (link), who was set with the task of fixing my knee. I was given further strengthening exercises along with a mix of acupuncture and sports massages. I’m not the best with needles, the acupuncture sessions were not enjoyable, even though they were (almost) painless.

In the middle of May I had my first triathlon of the year, the Quarter-Master triathlon. After a few weeks of physio, my knee felt strong enough to race in the event. Well, that’s what I was telling myself after finding out I couldn’t get a refund on my race entry. I went into the race with no open water swimming training since 2013, and not even biking 30 miles in one go in 2014. I probably shouldn’t have raced, but I thought it could help my confidence with training. I finished in 3:14:50, with less confidence than I started.

Finishing Quarter-Master Triathlon

Finishing Quarter-Master Triathlon

Two weeks later I raced the Outlaw Half for the second time. I knew this wouldn’t go well, but for some reason decided to still race regardless. My training level was no where near the level it should’ve been to enjoy or do relatively okay. To make matters worse, I came down with a cold 24 hours before, so I was up most of the night with a throat that felt like sandpaper and a temperature so high it was impossible to get a good rest. Considering the lack of swim training (pool based and in open water), the swim went surprisingly well, coming out of the water only 6 minutes slower than last year. The bike was another story. Having done a pitiful amount of bike training, I knew (again) that it wasn’t going to go well. In fact I knew it was going to go bad. Everything felt okay up until the 25 mile mark when my energy levels completely dropped. From 30 miles onwards I felt sick, I hated cycling, I hated triathlon and I hated myself for putting me in this position. I kept telling myself that I was going to pull out of the race as soon as I reached T2 and that there was no way I could manage another 13 miles on my feet. However, when I racked my bike, I thought “what the hell? I’ve spent a lot of money on this event, my family are here and why would you even think about giving up?” I decided to carry on, using a tactic I used in The Anglian last year; I broke the run into small sections by only looking forward to the next aid station. The aid stations had Jaffa cakes too, so how could I pull out of the race and miss out on free Jaffa cakes? I ended up walking the majority of the run. My fitness just wasn’t there. I didn’t deserve to be racing, I gave it no respect whatsoever. The vast majority of the field would have trained so hard to get to that point, and I was just plodding round after putting next to no effort into training and expecting to finish it easily. I eventually finished in 7:25:17 after a fellow Tri-Anglian caught up with me about 0.5 miles from the end. Thanks to her I managed to run the last little section.

Finish chute of The Outlaw Half

Finish chute of The Outlaw Half

After giving it some thought and going over my performance in the past two events, I decided to withdraw from Ironman Sweden. After the massive struggle The Outlaw Half was, I knew I could never increase my fitness enough in 2.5 months to finish a full Ironman. It was a hard decision, but I knew it was the right decision.

Moving onto the positive things…

Now that Ironman Sweden was off my schedule, the focus was now completely on the Berlin Marathon. I found the longest (and simplest) marathon training plan I could find and began that. I chose a basic plan that incorporates a run/walk system on the long runs so that I could build up slowly to marathon level and reduce the chance of injury. I am currently at the end of week 7 and have been disciplined enough to stick to stated workouts. My legs and fitness are beginning to feel strong again. Tomorrow I have a 3 hour run, and I am looking forward to it without a hint of worry about getting injured. So far, so good.

For the build up to the marathon, I have entered the Worcester City Half Marathon on the 17th August. I will be using this race to work out my predicted marathon time and to practice staying disciplined and not shooting off too fast.

So, there we have it. The negatives seem to outweigh the positives, but I feel I’m getting back on track.

For now, my legs need all the rest they can get… They haven’t travelled 16/17 miles for a while!

And, above all, don’t forget to follow your destiny through to its conclusion.

Down And Out… For Now.

After speaking with other runners, triathletes and physios, I have decided to pull out of this years London Marathon.

I was reminded several times that this was just my first event this year, and not my top priority. Even though I was tempted to just run/walk the London Marathon, I eventually decided against it. I need to be fit and healthy for my other events this year, preferably with no knee pain at all.

Some good news is that I was able to defer my entry to 2015. I’ll enjoy it much more being fit and injury free, hopefully achieving the target I set for myself this year.

I know this knee pain is my fault. I have no one to blame but myself. If I had kept up the knee strengthening from last year, I may not have been in this situation. Never mind. Onwards and upwards.

I’ve now had a week off training (physio’s orders), doing the strength programme  I was given, and foam rolling. I feel as fresh as a daisy, ready to take on training again. If anyone is interested in the strength programme the physio gave me, just leave me a message and I’ll get back to you. Tomorrow I will hop on my bike  for a short ride, and Saturday I will go for a short run to see what I can manage. If all is good, then I will start to build up my training again.

For now, my foam roller is calling.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

DNS or Walk/Run?

I’ve always said I’d rather DNF than DNS, but this time it’s different. The old knee pain has returned. After last Sundays extremely disappointing half marathon, which consisted of lots of hobbling and feeling very uncomfortable (not to mention my 2nd worst ever half marathon time), I know I’d never be able to get round 26.2 miles in that pain.

Fresh from coming back from seeing a physio, she did not say no to doing it, she did not say yes to doing it. I have a tough decision to make:

Pull out of the London Marathon?

or

Walk/run the London Marathon?

Walk/running a race due to an injury is painful in more than one way, but pulling out before even giving it a go can be just as agonising.

The London marathon was never my top priority for the year, I was just doing it to experience and enjoy it, so it shouldn’t bother me too much about getting a time slower than I was initially aiming for.

Will I regret not even starting it? Yes.
Will it hurt my pride to walk/run it? Yes.
Will it effect the rest of my year? Maybe.
Will it be worth it in the end? I’m not sure.

I faced a similar problem in 2013, starting the Outlaw Half knowing full well that my knee wouldn’t hold out for the race. 56 miles of that bike course was painful. 13.1 miles of that run was excruciating. Was it worth it when I crossed the finish line? 100%.

For now, I need to do my physio homework and think about my options.

Any opinions would be gratefully received

 

“Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”

 

 

11 Things I Wish I Knew Before Ironman Training

While I was thinking back on my first triathlon season and first season of a proper structured training schedule, I thought of 11 things that I wished I knew before I started.

1. Don’t Train Through A Little Injury
It doesn’t matter if you miss a couple of days training. If you have a little niggle, it could be best to leave training that day. If you train on a niggle, there’s a chance you could make it worse. I found this out the hard way.

2. Spend Time Building A Good Base
Long rides are important. Getting your base training in is also important. Early 2013 I was stuck in the gym using a stationary bike, it was so boring. I thought “what does it matter to do 30 minutes less this session?” But that kept happening, and I soon paid the price. When I got onto long rides, I was way behind where I should have been.

3. Practice With Race Nutrition
I remember thinking: “Not training with nutrition I’ll probably be using in the race can’t be that bad, can it?” How wrong I was. During the Anglian, I decided to rely on High5 Energy Bars for my energy on the bike, due to not liking gels (I really should have tried harder to tolerate them). I have tried them a few times in training before and I actually enjoyed eating them. What I didn’t try, was eating them every hour for seven hours. By my fourth bar, swallowing them was so hard. I couldn’t take on so much solid food when I was on the bike. Had I tested this in training, I would have found this out. Don’t find out the hard way, plan what you’ll eat on race day and test it out in training.

4. Get Swimming Lessons
I  underestimated the swimming before I began my training plan. I thought I’d be able to get in the water and just swim the required amount lengths. I should have known better really, since the only swimming lessons I’d had were in early high school. I was basically starting from scratch in January 2012, which meant learning how to swim again. It took me until the end of February/start of March to be able to swim a few lengths comfortably without my lungs wanting to explode. Teaching yourself can have bad implications later on, especially if your technique isn’t good. The longer you swim with bad technique, the harder it will be to change it. Swimming 2.4 miles isn’t so hard, but swimming it well is. Getting a coach/swimming lessons early on will set you on the right track.

5. Stick To The Training Plan
You really need to stick to the training plan, but only if that means not training through an injury (#1). I found this hard at the start of my training. I loved running, but I hated running so slow and such small distances. I ignored the training plan and ran as fast as I wanted and usually a bit more than was stated. I ended up injured and missed the last 8 weeks of my run training in the build up to the Anglian. Stick to the distance, HR zones, speed etc. that your training plan states. You’ll be thankful for a bit of an easier run when the training gets a lot more intense.

6. Get A Bike Fit
Training for an Ironman requires you to be on your bike a lot. If you’re going to be on the bike for 7 hours in one sitting, you need to be comfortable. Get a bike fit from somebody who knows what they are doing. A good bike fit can reduce the likelihood of injuries, and you’ll enjoy the time on the bike much more.

7. Don’t Use Your Wetsuit For The First Time In A Race
Self explanatory really. What a stupid thing to do. Who on Earth would do this?… Have at least a few sessions in your wetsuit before your first race. You’ll be thankful for it.

8. Practice Transitions
In some of the smaller races I took part in I found myself rushing around transition, fumbling and dropping things, because I hadn’t practised them at all. One time I got on my bike without fastening my race belt around me; I left it hanging around my bike frame! Practising them before race day can mean a much less stressful T1 or T2.

9. Join A Club
This was the best thing I did in the build up to the Anglian, but I wish I had done it earlier. I joined Tri-Anglia with a view to just make use of the open water swimming sessions, but came away with so much more. The members are so encouraging and helpful, they will always offer advice and will generally always be happy to answer questions. Joining a club will mean you find people to train with too. Personally, training with others helps me a lot. On long runs (15+ miles) or bike rides (5+ hours), having some company can help keep you sane when things start to get tough.

10. Rest!
Rest is important. With the amount and intensity of training required for an Ironman, your body needs to recover properly. Not enough recovery time can mean getting injuries and getting ill. Both of which will hamper your training, and then you will have to rest for even longer than you initially had to.

11. Don’t Go Into Ironman Training With Little Knowledge
Because you will end up with a list like this too.

 

 

Getting Into The Swing Of Things

I’m now getting back into a regular, consistent training routine and I love it!

Believe it or not, (and if you know me well, this will surprise you) it is actually getting back in the pool has made me really enjoy my training again. Okay, I wouldn’t say I’ve been thrilled to bits about swimming again, but it certainly has made me enjoy just moving more, and getting into a routine.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past week is that my running speed has drastically decreased, and you know what? I’m not even that bothered. It’s so nice to be able to run without knee pain. From the beginning of 2013 until the start of October (with the exception of a few awful races) I was barely running any slower than 7:45 /mi pace. My runs so far this year have been hovering around the 9:00 /mi pace. I know this will eventually start to get to me, but at the moment I’m wary about picking up another knee injury.

Back to the swimming… I tried to tackle bilateral breathing once more, but couldn’t get the hang of it. I need to spend a lot more time on that. I also need to invest in a pair of clear lens goggles. Swimming in a pool with mirrored goggles is not good, especially if you end up swimming into people (maybe that’s me and I should stop blaming the goggles?). Oops.

The next thing to tackle is my nutrition. It’s currently far from being good enough for training. I haven’t looked in depth into this yet, but I will research this during the week and update you in the next blog.

Training for the rest of this week is:

Thursday – Swim; Bike 30mins

Friday – Run 45mins

Saturday – Bike 1:30

Sunday – Run 13 miles

The next, and future blog updates, will be posted on Mondays again.

Happy training.

“Enjoy your sweat because hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but without it you don’t have a chance.”

Just Keep Swimming

First I’d like to apologise for the lack of updates, life has been really busy recently.

Secondly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to anybody who has sponsored me so far. For those who have missed it, I am raising money for Nelson’s Journey, a charity that is dedicated to supporting bereaved children and young people throughout Norfolk. If you would like to donate, you can find the link to my sponsorship page below. I really appreciate all of your support and thank you for any donations.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LewisAblett

Since my last blog update I have started to train regularly without too many niggles.  Apart from occasionally feeling a little pain on the outside of my knee, similar pain to what I felt when I had ITBS, I have been back to normal. With only 11.5 weeks until the my first major event of the year, the London Marathon, I’m very pleased about this.

I recently joined the local leisure centre, where I will be swimming for most of my training. When I went for the first time yesterday I was told that it never gets too busy. Bonus. There was a good point and a bad point about my swim. Good point: I can still swim. Just. Bad point? I still can’t swim very well. But what was I expecting? I haven’t been for a swim since my last triathlon way back in September. I had good intentions to swim consistently over the winter to improve my technique and speed, but they were only intentions and nothing else.

I recently bought the Swim Smooth book after searching their website and hearing good things about it, with hope that it will help my all round swimming ability. They have a cool little program you can download that shows you the ‘perfect’ swimming style from lots of angles. You can find it here.

Mr. Smooth

Mr. Smooth

I hope to be like Mr. Smooth someday! I’ll be reading that from cover to cover, trying to remember the drills, techniques and other handy hints and tips to improve myself. A part of my swimming I’d like to improve is my breathing. I remember when I learned to swim last January, it took me until about March to swim 50m without my lungs wanting to explode out of my body. I can swim for as long as I like now and breathing doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem, apart from the fact that I can only breathe on my left side. I keep trying bilateral breathing, but just can’t get the hang of it. That’s goal #1. I figure doing 4, good quality swim sessions each week will help no end. I know it’s going to be hard to improve significantly, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Since I last updated, I have entered a few more races to fill in gaps in my calendar. They are:

  • 16th March – Broadland Half Marathon
  • 30th April – Trowse 10k
  • 18th May – Quarter-Master Triathlon (Olympic distance)

I realise the Trowse 10k is just one week after the London Marathon, but it’s my ‘anniversary’ race (and my favourite race too), and I’d still like to complete it. There won’t be a PB, I know. There probably won’t even be a good time, but I can take that. It can be my recovery ‘race’.

The next blog update should be at the weekend, being a Race Recap on my first ever triathlon – The Big East Triathlon.
 

“Don’t dream about winning. Train for it.”

17 Weeks To Go… And Injuries. Again.

17 weeks to go until my first big race of 2014. April 13th may seem a long time away, but I know it’ll be here before I know it. But at the moment, I wish it would stay as far away as possible.

I’m still struggling with an injury to my knee. Through several months of my Ironman training in 2013, I had Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). It was the most pain I’d ever been in, I thought I was going to have to pull out of The Anglian, but in the end I decided otherwise and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Anyway, right now, I have another problem with the same knee. The pain usually comes after running rather than during the run, although towards the end of a run I can certainly feel it getting stiffer. After googling the problems, I think it’s Pes Anserine Tendinopathy / Bursitis, but I have no idea if that’s the right diagnosis. Physiotherapists are so expensive, I can’t afford to get it checked over properly, so I am currently trying to fix my knee by doing exercises the website says to do. On top of the ones stated by  that website, I’ve found some other knee strengthening exercise. I’ll do anything to prevent another injury plagued season.

I haven’t ran since the Norwich half marathon a little over three weeks ago now, so I hope that rest period has helped to make my knee better too.

During the past week I’ve been looking for strength training programs so I can try to prevent injuries further, and to get stronger. Obviously. After looking around and finding books, I found that ‘Strength Training For Triathletes‘ looked the best for me. It dumbed things down enough for me to understand, and it’s specifically for triathletes. That’s good enough for me. So this week I’ll be putting together a strength training plan and starting that training plan.

I have also discovered the past week I have nearly no upper body strength. No wonder I’m such a poor swimmer. Something to focus on in the strength training plan.

The plan for the next week is to get outside for a short easy run, and if that’s successful, do a few more runs.

I really need to get started with my training.

 “Pain is weakness leaving the body”