Training pains.

So it’s been a couple of days since I’ve posted and that’s mainly due to increased workout levels leaving me to tired to think of anything to write about.

I’ve been training every day and this has led to two problems I have suffered from in the past reoccurring.

The first of these problems is shin splints.

The term shin splints is a common name often given to any shin pain at the front of the lower leg. However, true shin splints symptoms occur at the front inside of the shin bone and can arise from a number of causes.

These include over-pronation of the foot (I am a mild heel striking over-pronator), increases in training (check), running on hard surfaces (check), and inadequate footwear (not sure about this one as I bought special insoles tailored to my needs and new running shoes and these really helped)

Now, I developed shin splints a couple of years ago when I was training to get ready for my Royal Navy Leadership course.

It was a problem I managed and it went away after the course as I reduced my exercise levels back down to my usual none….

Well, I have started to feel a slight niggle in my left shin so I am looking at a few options to help counter this.

They say prevention is better than a cure so I am getting proactive.

The first thing I am going to try (mainly because they will arrive quicker) are compression socks.

People have mixed views on the benefits of these socks and many claims are made by the manufacturers as to what they actually do.

One claimed benefit (that pertains to my problem) is that they supposedly reduce vibration in the muscles and tendons of the lower leg as each foot hits the ground. This can therefore help reduce the severity of, and in some cases prevent shin splints.

I’m willing to give this a try, and even if it doesn’t help dramatically with the shin splints, it may be worth it for the other reported benefits.

Apparently these socks help the blood flow back to the heart more efficiently, which in turn helps remove metabolic waste thus reducing muscle fatigue. That coupled with reduced vibration and shock absorption helps the legs recover faster which can only be a good thing.

I’m going to give them ago, what’s the worst that can happen.
The other course of action that I am going to try is barefoot running.

Well, running in shoes that mimic barefoot running but protect the feet.

I’m going to attempt to adopt a more natural running gait.

By this I mean I will try to avoid heel striking which causes shock to the lower leg, knee and ankle.

This will hopefully stop the shin splints. Only time will tell, but if it doesn’t work I intent to use those shoes for when I’m open water swimming so I won’t be wasting money either way.

 

Now my second problem is one that I have solved already but I feel is worth mentioning.
Sore nipples.

I take all the precautions, I put Vaseline on them, I wear specially designed running t-shirts and still my nipples rub and get sore to the point of distraction.

I have changed to non biological washing powder, I have lubricated them and still the problem persists, so I have resorted back to the old tried and tested method of taping.

In the last few days I have tried zinc oxide tape which works well until I sweat and then comes off.

I have tried Duct tape. which tends to bunch up at the sides and annoyingly sticks to my t-shirts.

And now I have settled on Strappal super sticky thick dressing tape.

It works a treat and has solved the problem completely. I put a little bit of tissue paper over the tip of the nipple and then tape straight over the top. No more nipple pain.

There’s only one problem. I have a hairy chest and have had to shave two circles around the nipples to avoid pulling hairs every time I remove the tape.

And as you can imagine, I look ridiculous………They look like to nipple mountains rising above a chest hair forest !

When I get rid of my moobs I may consider shaving it all off.

Still, I’ll take no sore nipples over vanity anytime so taping and shaving it is.

 

 

 

The power of blog.

This morning was a Sunday in every way.

I had a lovely lie in, and had nothing planned other than a session at the gym that I’d definitely be ready for by 10 am

Well, 10 am came and went, and so did my motivation.

I felt sleepy, unmotivated, and if anything, the extra time in bed had made me feel lethargic. Not energized as I  thought it would.

So I made my excuses to myself.

I had done an 8km run at 10 o clock the night before, and maybe that had left me too tired this morning.

And well, it is Sunday after all.

And maybe my body is just better suited to working out at night.

That must be it.

So I sat down to write a blog entry and promised myself that I’d work out tonight.

I had a quick read of some of my last entries, and felt………………stupid.

The whole point of this “training for a triathlon” is so I can get away from my lazy attitude.

And here I was sacking it off just because I didn’t quite feel like it.

Well, 10 minutes later I was in my sports rig and out that door and off to the gym.

The blog had served it’s purpose and helped to motivate me, and that’s the whole point of writing this I guess.

It gives me nowhere to hide from myself.

So off to the gym I go.

I was intending to do another 8km run and see if I could beat my time from yesterday but I ended up walking past the squash courts on the way to fill my water bottle up at the fountain.

Now, I’ve played squash in the past and so I walked past the courts, staring in at the players with some interest.

Until I came to the last court, which was filled with bikes. Spinning bikes. And 5 Lycra clad ladies.

Well, desperate not to look like I was checking out said women, I looked up  a little too quickly and caught the eye of one of the ladies.

She smiled at me in a friendly manner (Oh God, she must think I was perving!) and very sweetly said

“Hi, would you like to join us”

I was about to make my excuses and get the hell out of dodge when another Lycra clad lady of advancing years came up behind me and said “Yeah go on, get in there” as she ushered me in.

Trapped.

Oh well, how hard can it be I thought, the woman who had arrived after me must have been at least 55 and possibly older.

I’ll be alright………….

5 minutes later and I was blowing out of my hoop. I was drenched from head to foot and looked like I’d sprung a leak.

I looked around and everyone else looked as fresh as they had when they arrived.

And then the evil instructor made us turn the resistance up.

Wow, This is a lot harder than it looks.

I kept checking that the women either side of me were putting full turns on their dials to increase resistance in line with the lady instructing, and to my dismay they were.

My pride wouldn’t let me do any less than they were doing so I matched them for the full half hour.

It was by far the best workout I have had so far, and at times I felt like my lungs would explode.

At the end of the session they all leapt off their bikes, toweled them down, said their goodbyes and off they went.

I stayed a few minutes longer as I had to, you know, sort my headphones out and collect my jumper and I.D from the other side of the squash court where I’d left them

And in no way to catch my breath and wait for my legs to stop wobbling………….

Those women were fit, and although we all looked knackered come the end of the ride I’m sure I looked the worst by far.

Still, onwards and upwards. Perhaps I’ll do spinning again, it can only help.

Outdoor swimming locations.

With the wetsuit ordered and on it’s way that leaves me with something of a quandary.

Where to test it out. And where should I go for my first outdoor swim

I definitely don’t want to try it at an indoor swimming pool, or any swimming pool for that matter.

I can just imagine the scene.

“Mummy, what’s that fat man doing dressed like that?”

“Come away dear, don’t look at him”

So that leaves me with trying to find somewhere to swim.

I asked around, and in the Devon area a few recommendations kept coming up.

Bovisand is a beach where I have taken the kids in the past. And although it’s a recommended swimming spot I don’t really want to try out my wetsuit in front of a crowd.

The same can be said for another oft mentioned swimming spot in Wembury.

So I had to look for somewhere a little quieter, where only my own children could laugh and point at me ridiculously thrashing around in the water.

I decided to search the web and came across a few sites for outdoor swimmers.

The best of the sites I found was http://wildswim.com

It uses Google maps and markers and covers the the entire globe, but mainly focuses on the UK.

You can find spots by type of activity they are good for: Dip, Swim, Journey/crossing, Distance/Endurance, Jumping, Exploring, Skinny Dipping, family friendly.

It was using this site that I have found a reservoir up on Dartmoor.

Apparently it  has lovely clear waters.

I’m not sure if that’s a bonus or not. Do I really want to see all the sharks and murderous jelly fish that will inevitably be drawn to wherever I am swimming when they sense an easy meal.

The swim itself is 400m there and back and to say I can’t wait to try it out is an understatement.

And well, if I don’t get on with the wetsuit, wildswim.com says the reservoir is suitable for skinny dipping…………

A pint of truth…..

So today was a day of traveling and not much else.

It was good to be back home.

The first thing I did was fire up my Nespresso machine for an espresso and then make myself a pint of Berocca.

I normally take a Berocca or some other effervescent vitamin drink every morning without fail but I forgot to pack them when I went away this weekend.

I like to have one every morning because it settles my stomach before I start the day.

Why do I need to settle my stomach every morning?

Well, that’s something I’ve had to take an honest look at and ask myself recently.

And the truth is, I need to settle my stomach because my diet is poor and I drink far to much.

And that has to change. Not only because I want to do triathlon, but also because the long term health implications if I don’t, are becoming more and more apparent.

From being very active and a hardy sort in my youth, with the constitution of an ox, I have become a super lazy layabout, and these days I frequently get man-flu, colds, headaches, Ebola, random aches and pains etc

Someone commented recently that I’m always getting ill and I replied that ” rubbish, I’ve just been run down of late”

Well, I had been run down, but that was mainly down to drinking to much, eating shite and not having a correct sleep pattern.

I was in a viscous circle of being bored because I wasn’t doing anything active or stimulating. So I’d drink because of this boredom, which would lead to me stuffing my face the next day in a bid to rid myself of a hangover. This eating would leave me feeling too lethargic to do anything, so I’d get bored………..and end up drinking.

Something had to change.

I’m not even a week in and already I am feeling the benefits of living better.

Some exercise and a balanced diet has already seen a change in me.

Nothing major. I just wake up feeling a little better, I feel a little more lively and for the last 2 mornings I have woken up and not needed to settle my stomach !

If I keep this up I may not even need any extra vitamins to balance me out.

Saying that, I do still like my morning routine of vitamins, followed by coffee, followed by breakfast.

I adhere to it religiously.

Now if I can just maintain such a disciplined routine for the rest of my day hopefully I will see some real long term  benefits…….

Today

Today I ran 2 miles cross country in 17 minutes.

And I was shagged. Although saying that, I felt great after.

Must be those endorphins I keep hearing about !

 

I’m having a rest day tomorrow, mainly because I am traveling most of the day and spending the evening with the family.

But on Friday work starts for real.

I’ve started down this road.

I have defined targets and I have an idea what I am capable of, and what I need to be able to do.

So on friday I’m going to see just how far I can push myself.

 

 

 

The Bike

When deciding to do a triathlon there is a lot to consider.

Which wetsuit should I buy? (or indeed do they even make wetsuits in my proportions?)
Same again with tri suits. And do I even need one?
Will slipping into shorts and t-shirt after the swim be acceptable?
Will I need to splash out on cycling shorts if I don’t get a tri suit or will it not matter to much over shorter distance triathlons?
What the hell is a tri suit?

Over the next few days I am going to amalgamate some of the information and advice I have recieved on these subjects and more.
And then hopefully once I have completed my first few events I will take a look back and go over that information and highlight that which I found genuinely useful.

I am going to start with where this journey began.

The Bike.

I’ll come out and just tell you which bike I have “settled on” and why.

I am going for a Ribble made carbon fibre framed Sportive Bianco.

“Settled on” is the right expression, Especially if you speak to anyone from any of the LBS (local bike shops) that I have been to.
In nearly every bike shop I have been to I have given them my budget and nearly everytime been advised that I need something slightly pricier, with a different groupset (gears, derauliiers and brakes etc) or this Alu 7005 frame instead of this 6061.
Or again when I raised my price estimations a little, that I infact should settle on nothing less than a carbon frame.

And then looking through the pages of cycling and triathlon magazines you see bikes for anything up to £6000.

I saw a set of wheels for £2000. That’s more than my whole bike budget !

What do they do? Propel you along the cycle part of a triathlon?

Well, I have done my research, and read every article I could, and spoken at length to people at my LBS, but the best advice I have found has come from people on cycling, running and triathlon forums.
There is a wealth of knowledge and if you can weed out the sound advice (that which gets repeated time and again by knowledgable people) and get away from mere opinion then you will find some great deals out there.

I initially decided to set myself a budget of £300 to £400.
Which is alot less than I paid for my old mountain bike 10 years ago and was maybe a little optimistic.
That said, there are some bargains out there to be had second hand but I wanted to have a new bike as a present to myself for getting promoted and for deciding to finally get off my lard ass and do something productive.
Don’t get me wrong. There are new bikes out there well within that budget ( The B’twinn 3 being the best I have found in that price bracket) but I wanted something that would last and that I wouldn’t want to upgrade within a couple of months.

So I settled on a budget of £1300.
It’s an amount I feel comfortable with, but that in no way means that I couldn’t get a good bike for less.
It’s just for that money I can get the bike I want.
I went for the Ribble Sportive Bianco for a few reasons.
Firstly, it has had nothing but steller reviews and everyone seems to agree that you get an awful lot of bike at an amazing price.
Another reason I went for it is because Ribble offer 0% finace over 10 months.
If they didn’t I would have probably gone for the GT GTR series 2 (£750 right now)
The GTR s2 was the bike I initially wanted, and was up to the spec I thought I required but once I read the Ribble reviews and found I could get it on the never never then I haven’t looked back.

The setup I am going for is a Triple 10 speed Shimano 105 groupset. With ITM Wheels and finishing kit.

Deciding which groupset to get has been the biggest headache of them all.
There are so many considerations. Cost, quality, aerodynamics and aesthestics. Not to mention do I need a triple or a double groupset.
I finally decided I needed a triple when someone suggested a compact double.
I’ll explain more about doubles, triples and compacts in a later post as I feel this one is starting to drag.

Here’s a quick rundown of the basic groupsets:

2300

Shimano 2300 is the cheapest of the groupsets and the most basic. It is an 8-speed system, offering eight gear ratios on the rear cassette and two or three chainrings at the front. The STI gear shifters shift up using the brake lever, but shift down using a small button on the inside of the lever, similar to Campagnolo levers.

Sora

The most significant upgrade from 2200 to Sora is the additional sprocket, from eight to nine speed. The Sora STI levers include a built-in gear indicator, so you can see what gear you’re in without looking back at your cassette. Sora also uses an integrated bottom bracket rather than the traditional square taper bottom bracket on 2200 and has a much more sophisticated forged crankset. This arrangement is much stiffer, allowing for a more confident pedalling feel during sprints and hard climbs. Sora is generally much better made and finished than 2200 and is a much more attractive and modern-looking groupset.

Tiagra

This groupset offers a 10 speed system and generally has a better finish and quality. The most significant upgrade is to the STI gear levers. Rather than the thumb button used for downshifts on Sora and 2200, Tiagra features a small paddle behind the gear lever. This allows for much easier shifting from the drops, which is an essential feature for racers and fast group riders.

105

105 uses much of the technology from the Dura-Ace groupset but in a more affordable package. 105 also offers a HollowTech crankset, which is lighter and stiffer than those on lower groupsets. This groupsets also offers internal cable routing – this routes both sets of cables under the handlebar tape, allowing for better aerodynamics and a cleaner look to the front end

Ultegra and Dura-Ace

These groupsets offer essentially the same technology as 105, but with progressively better materials and machining. As the flagship groupset, Dura-Ace features many parts in Carbon
Fiber and exotic parts like fluorine coated bushings. Notably, Dura-Ace does not currently feature a Triple crankset and is available only in Double or Compact configurations.

I went for the 105‘s because it is the same technology as the higher groupsets and I could get it in a triple crankset at the front, which offers me “granny gears” for if I am ever struggling with an accent whilst out riding.

There seems to be a great deal of debate about the shifting performance of different groupsets. The general consensus is that Sora shifts much better than 2200, Tiagra is an improvement over Sora, 105 is an improvement again, and that there is a much smaller difference seen from 105 upwards.  The main improvements from Ultegra and Dura-Ace seem to be weight and aesthetics.

So, the Ribble Sportive Bianco is the bike that I have “settled on”.

Although, I haven’t really settled.

It is the bike that I am extremely excited about receiving. I can’t wait.

All the reviews I have read, all the people I have spoken to who have had dealings with Ribble. And the contact I have had with them myself already indicates that I am going to be getting a great bike at a great price.

It can’t arrive soon enough.

My partner in crime.

Big Phill Gill

Coming along on this adventure is my good friend Phill.
He’s 26. 6 foot 5 and likes all sorts of outdoor pursuits and flying.
He’s a quite an unassuming lad but when he’s driven to do something he does it.
He likes surfing, and mountain biking, running and all kinds of other exciting stuff that doesn’t really appeal to the couch potato in me.

Oh I’d love to have these active hobbies, mainly just to say I do them. But it’s all a bit to much effort isn’t it!

Isn’t it?

So one drunken night, sat in the pub with Phil and Dan, I start bemoaning how fat and lazy I’ve become and start to talk about how I’m going to get fit again when I start riding the new bike I am going to get. Phil says he’ll come along, and even Dan says he’ll come out on rides with us.
Well, talk goes from cycling to running, and how it is the best activity for weight loss and, when I say I get bored of just running, talk turns to triathlons.

Uh-oh…….I’m walking into a trap.

So the drink keeps flowing and the talk of the triathlon gets more and more interesting.
3 disciplines. A swim, followed by a cycle followed by a run.
It sounds challenging. The Brownlee brothers had recently just both medalled at the Olympics in London and what an inspiration they were.
Talk of real men swimming in icy lakes, and cycling mountainous routes and then running vast distances goes around the table when I suddenly suggest that we do one.

Wait………….I SUGGEST THAT WE DO A TRIATHALON !

What did I just say?

Come on Phil, say no, say we haven’t got time as we’re bringing our ship out of refit (Phill’s Navy too) and you’re far to busy as you’re setting up your new house and that you’ve never really fancied doing a triathlon and, and …………….He says Yes.

Damn !

He agrees to be my training partner, and he agrees to do a triathlon with me, and that is where it all begins…..

To be fair, I can think of no one I would rather do this with.
Phil is determined without being pushy. He’ll expect me to train without making it feel like I’m being bullied. And well, he’s practically family (he’s godfather to my son) so it’ll be easier for everyone to hear the news of my inevitable death from hypothermia coming from him.

I’ll let him tell you more about himself here:

 

My name is Phillip Gill, I’m 26 and 6ft 5.
My current physical activity week to week includes: Cycling at the weekend when I have time, running when I feel like it, Badminton.
My main hobby week to week at the moment is : Training as a private pilot.
Hobbies I wish I had more time for include: Snowboarding, Windsurfing, Beach kiting, Sports parachuting.
Physical sports I have taken part in and would like to do again include : kayaking, sailing, skiing, ski touring and mountaineering, off track mountain biking,  hiking and map to ground navigation,  Arctic survival and navigation, abseiling, climbing, military triathlon, royal marines battle circuits and Jujutsu to name a few lol.
About two years ago I was the fittest I have ever been in my life.  My daily routine would usually consist of 8 to 10 mile run in the morning, gym for an hour at lunch and a swim after work resting at the weekend.  Working with the marines at the time I was a very fit lad and could challenge the fittest lad they had when out running.  Both my distance and sprinting speed where up to a high level.  Being the happiest I have ever been physically and mentally,  I made the decision to return to sea for promotional reasons and that was the worst decision I think I have ever made in my life.
After returning to my home port focus went into work and my fitness levels went down.  I got lazy and lost it all over a period of a year, so stupid.  So when my mate who like myself had become utterly depressed about how our drive, focus and complete lack of physical discipline and levels of fitness had gone down the pan, it was time for change.
So one drunken night he suggested our focus be to complete a full competition triathlon by next year whilst using local triathlons in the meantime to judge our fitness.  I was more than up for this as I used to live for this stuff, however I have never taken part in a competition in my life.  I’m actually really excited at the fact and this has given me the drive to get up off my arse and challenge myself again.  Having a partner in crime also helps so Rob my friend, lets get it done!