Training aids.

Short of hiring a big man with a stick to motivate me to get out and train, there are two apps I have been using to help keep me focused and working to a plan.

The first of these is MyNetDiary.

The app basically records all the exercise you’ve done, everything  you’ve eaten, and helps you make a plan for weight loss using your targets. You can also record vitamins and supplements taken, water consumption, body measurements etc.

I like that at the end of the day I can see wether I need to go for an extra run to hit my target daily calorie loss, or wether I can have just one more spoon of peanut butter (my new vice) as a reward for putting in the effort that day.

The best part of the app for me is that it gives me an analysis of what I’ve eaten and breaks down the amount of saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol and fiber etc.  Add to that the vast food data you have access to (for example when eating Tesco’s own Greek style yoghurt it actually has the data specific for Tesco’s own yoghurt.) and what you get is a complete little app.

I’d recommend it for anyone trying to lose weight, or for anyone who wants to keep a comprehensive record of their training.

I’d even recommend it for people who are just curious as to how their diet stacks up against the recognized ideal.


The second app I have been finding a great help is MapMyRun.

Now, I used to hate running outdoors, and although this app isn’t solely responsible for my new attitude to outdoor running, it has certainly helped. I initially just used the web based version on my laptop, which let’s you plan out runs in advance and that’s great. I really like to know how far I’m going to run and how long it should take me.

Then I downloaded the GPS enabled app for my phone and that’s when it became fun.

I can just run, with no map, and get feedback on my speed, distance traveled and all other manner of good stuff.

I like to make it a challenge that I do every kilometer a little faster than the last.

Add to that one more important fact, and it has become a very worthwhile app for me.

That important fact is, the GPS map. No more getting lost for me.

And that is a good thing.

I went out for a little jog the other day and got so lost I was looking for moss on trees to try to find which way was north, I even tried to navigate by the sun, but this being the tail end of British summer, the sun was nowhere to be seen behind the thick cover of grey storm clouds…

The app links seamlessly with the web based version so your profiles match up, and it has Facebook integration so you can let everyone know you’ve done some exercise, and returned safely!


So these two apps are my new training buddies. No need for men with big sticks here…..





7 Week Training Camp…..

Well okay.

I’m not at a training camp as such.

What beginner triathlete goes to a training camp ?

I am though, away from home for 7 weeks on a couple of training courses.

And what with being in the Navy I have my pick of gyms, pools and activities I can do to continue to up my fitness and stamina.

Add to that the fact that my shiny new bike should be arriving sometime mid month, and I have my pick of training available.

So even though I am here to learn about the 30mm DS30M Mark 2 Automated Small Calibre Gun  (the mighty Bushmaster II) and the 4.5 inch Mark 8 Naval gun , it is the training time that this affords me that I am looking forward to the most.

So where am I now.

I’m 84.4kg. Which is a drop 0f around 3.5 kg.

I can happily run for 45 minutes covering about 8km

I can happily do 20 min bike, straight into 30 minutes of running and I can manage 30 minutes breaststroke in the pool without to much drama.

Where do I want to be in 7 weeks

I am quite fearful of doing any real high intensity running as my shins splints play up the harder I run.

So, with that in mind I am going to increase distance rather than speed.

By the end of the 7 weeks I want to be running 12 km in around 1 hour 10 minutes.

I want to have my brick sessions (bike followed by run) up to 40 minutes cycle and 40 minutes run.

And as for time in the pool, I’d really like it if I didn’t drown. At all.

In all seriousness though, I want to be swimming full hour sessions and have a target of 14 consecutive lengths front crawl in the 33 meter pool. That’s 462 meters and although it is less than a third of what I need, I feel it is a realistic goal.
I have also been subtly altering my diet as well, and now the excesses of my birthday are over (takeaway, cake and wine) I’m feeling good again about being on the straight and narrow.

I’m having porridge for my breakfast, a carb packed lunch and a full meal in the evenings,minus the desert.

And although I’m never really feeling full to bursting as I used to after almost every meal, I have to say, I’m not feeling hungry at any point either.

Now I just have to incorporate some core exercises into my boot camp routine, and maybe I can deflate this spare tire around my waist a little……..

Disaster strikes……

Despite my best efforts, and despite trying to avoid the inevitable, the inescapable has happened.


I have turned 32.

But in spite of this truly horrific occurrence I am feeling mostly positive.

I say mostly because although my training has been going better than expected (Especially in the run department), my shin splints are back with a vengeance.

And I know why.

I have been so sensible, making sure I stretch correctly before every run, making sure I pace myself and don’t push myself to far to fast.

That is, until my birthday.

Knowing that I would be celebrating with the family that evening (cake, wine and takeaway, oh how I have missed you), thus having no time to train, I decided to have a lunchtime workout.

This left me with a 35 minute window so I decided that I should do as much as I could in that time.

So with minimal warm-up and stretching I set the treadmill so I’d cover 7km in 30mins with a 2% incline.

And within minutes I was in pain. I knew I should stop but I wanted to cover my daily distance so I kept on.

I managed about 6.5km in the end, and was it worth it.


My shins stopped hurting after about 9 minutes so I just kept on.

That is, they stopped hurting until after I had finished my run.

And then they let me know in no uncertain terms what a wally I had just been.

And not just my left shin, they are both painful me know in equal measure.

I now feel I have set myself back a bit due to my own stupidity.


Strangely, this setback may work to my benefit in the long run.

Right from the start I have carefully set my goals and targets, and taken note of what I was capable of and what I should be aiming for week on week (working to the 10% increase rule).

And the one time I went against my careful planning it has ended in the full return of an avoidable problem.

Lesson learned.

From now on I will be sticking to my plan.

It’s a shame as I was really starting to love the running part of my training, but I guess I’ll just have to focus on my swimming (read: thrashing wildly and ineffectively whilst in water) and my cycling for a few days.


Now, it’s off to bed for me. I have my first outdoor swim tomorrow.



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.


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

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, 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…….