Quick update about part 1 of becoming a CiRF

It’s getting late and I’ve a busy day ahead tomorrow but I want to start a post about the Coach in Running Fitness Course (CiRF) that I started a week or so ago.

I’ve been a Leader in Running Fitness for over a year now and really enjoy the role. Shortly after doing the LiRF course, I decided I wanted to become a CiRF (although how I’d find the time with everything else I do, I’m not sure as summarised in this rather outdated post) but other priorities and commitments meant that I couldn’t do it last year and expected to have to wait until June/July to be able to start the course this year. However, there was a lot of interest in having an earlier course and several local clubs ‘hounded’ England Athletics to lay on a course locally earlier than they’d planned.

The outcome was a course held in March 2016 attended by about 15 of us of whom 5 were Lordshill Road Runners.

The course is held over 4 days but split as follows:

  • weekend 1 – day 1 and day 2 in March
  • weekend 2 – day 3 held in April (approx 5 weeks after weekend 1)
  • weekend 3 – day 4 held in September

The course was run by 2 very experienced coaches who’d clearly worked together a lot, Simon and Barry. They were entertaining and informative in equal measure. As with the LiRF course, although there were lots of ‘class’ based sessions, there were also lots of practical sessions where we were given experience in coaching and being coached.

Weekend 1 included lots of information and I left both days with a headache! There was simply a lot to take in. The information included:

  • athlete-centered coaching
  • preparing and delivering sessions
  • energy systems
  • health and safety
  • injury prevention
  • technical running drills and how to observe, analyse and feedback to athletes
  • physical preparation including use of medicine balls and strength and conditioning using body weight

After day 2, each attendees had a number of pieces of homework including preparing an athlete profile, preparing a session plan and building a training session plan for several weeks (a mesocycle).

Much of the focus of the course is on building the ‘soft’ coaching skills and how to:

  • observe
  • analyse
  • feedback

how a runner could use running skills for endurance, speed, uphill/downhill and obstacles to improve their running. It’s all very well being taught these skills but they only really sink in if you get the chance to use them ‘in anger’!

I decided that I wanted to get as much opportunity to coach runners as possible so decided to hold several coached sessions. Part of the course requires these to be ‘reviewed’ by a ‘Support Coach’ who provides feedback on how to improve them and their delivery. At Lordshill Road Runners, we have several coaches. However, for one reason and another, not all are currently active. Our head coach, Carol, very kindly accepted my request for her to be my Support Coach and we had a meeting prior to the first weekend of the course to clarify a few things that I wasn’t sure about after having read the Pre-Course Workbook.

Having spoken to Carol, I decided that I wanted to deliver several weekly coached sessions to other members of the club and proposed this to members of the group I regularly lead as a Run Leader on a Monday evening. I was very pleased that 10-12 of the group ‘signed up’ for the sessions and started to work out what I wanted to deliver.

This involved quite a lot of work… in fact, far more than most would realise. I had to consider what the structure of each session would be, what I wanted each session to focus on, how I could progress things week by week, what areas I could use to enhance the sessions and make them safe and once I had all that in my head, I started to work out a session plan for the first session.

I went into quite a lot of detail about the session with the thought that if it was detailed, I was more likely to stick to it and, also, if I wasn’t able to make the session, someone could deliver it for me (although in all likelihood this wouldn’t happen).

Having completed a draft session plan, I sent it to Carol for review and feedback. Carol was very positive and gave some great advice on how to tweak the session and the plan. Thanks Carol!

Choosing the timing of the session was a challenge. Not only did I need Carol to be available but I also had to be there. That meant that I couldn’t hold it on a weekday evening as I already commit one evening to Run Leading and didn’t want to lose out on more family time. I also didn’t want to have the sessions clash with junior parkrun especially as the period the sessions would run would require volunteers as for the foreseeable future, the regular volunteers would be participating in local races (I was due to race at the Eastleigh 10K and Southampton Half Marathon but recovery from my injury – Plantar Fasciitis – has taken a lot longer than I’d hoped and I am far from fit at the moment. I’m also carrying a stone and a half more than I’d like to be at anything like my goal race weight). That meant that the only reasonable day to hold the coached sessions was a Saturday but at a time that didn’t clash with parkrun! I therefore decided to choose to hold the sessions from 7:30am for an hour. That would mean that the Common (where both the sessions and Southampton parkrun take place) would be quiet and there’d be adequate time for participants to rest before parkrunning if they chose to.

As well as the session plan, I prepared laminated sheets for part of the session and created a checklist to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

Having defined a plan, I was ready to deliver it and it wasn’t long until Saturday morning arrived. I didn’t sleep very well the night before worrying about how it would go and whether those taking part would enjoy the sessions and return for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th!

I needn’t have worried. The preparation for the session meant that it went (almost) to plan and the structure of the session was quite a change from our usual training sessions. I’d broken the session down into:

  • warmup (10 mins)
  • physical preparation circuit (15 mins)
  • technical skills – for this session – running for endurance (15 – 20 mins)
  • cooldown (10 mins)

I’d also made sure that I’d factored in time between each element of the session to describe what we’d be doing.

I really wasn’t sure whether the group would like the circuit aspect of the session but it proved to be the most popular bit. I had 5 ‘stations’ each with a different ‘exercise’ and split the group into pairs. Each pair did 45 mins on a station and then had 15 minutes to proceed to the next one before completing that. For those that have done RunCamp, Ant often uses these kind of circuits for S&C. I can remember when I first did one that I felt a little ‘cheated’ that we were ‘wasting time’ doing something other than running. However, physical preparation and all-body fitness is really important to improving running technique and endurance hence it being a good part of the overall session.

As I’ve said, the session went really well. I elicited feedback from everyone that took part and will use that to improve future sessions. I know I wasn’t perfect in my delivery of the session and completed my own ‘evaluation’ of the session as well as getting a ‘feedback form’ from my Support Coach, Carol.

It’s now Monday evening and I’ve already spent a fair amount of time thinking about the next session. It looks like it’ll be well attended and I’m really looking forward to it.

Many thanks to Carol, Claire, Lucy, Amy, Luana, Alison, Jonathon, Aaron and Rachel for their support for the first session.

I’m really looking forward to improving as a coach. There’s a long way to go until I qualify and I’ve still got 2 days of the course, a technical exam and several months of experience in delivering coaching before my final assessment in September.


‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ Course – my experience

As an active member of Lordshill Road Runners, I’ve been participating in training sessions for several months now and have really enjoyed them. On some weeks, they are the highlight of my training week. It’s great to train with others and it’s also been a great way of making new running friends.

At training, we’re indebted to those that deliver these sessions; the coaches and Run Leaders (also known as a LiRF or Leader in Running Fitness) who often put their training on hold for an evening to help others. They do so voluntarily out of the goodness of their hearts!

For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of training as a Run Leader but never quite committed. However, late last year I decided that I’d stop procrastinating and sign up for the next Leadership in Running Fitness course which was being held at my local sports/leisure centre – Fleming Park in Eastleigh.

As my intention was to help out at club training sessions, I was fortunate enough to have the course paid for by the club. I had offered to self-fund but was grateful that the club’s coffers were bursting at the seams!

As a club with well over 300 members, we’re fortunate to have 2 coaches and several Run Leaders. However, this isn’t really enough as it means that for many sessions a group of 15 or more runners only has one Run Leader. Although this isn’t often an issue, the bigger issue is that it’s difficult to cover sessions when those Run Leaders want to take a holiday or need a break (and believe me, they deserve one). We do have several trained Run Leaders who are currently inactive for a variety of reasons (work, family, injury etc) as well as some that have taken the training course but never led a session. I’m not too sure why that would be the case…

From a club-perspective, I’m sure that the ideal would be to have so many coaches and Run Leaders that they can lead sessions for so many weeks and then take a few weeks off to concentrate on their own training or take some time off and chill out and I hope that this post will help encourage some club members to consider taking a LiRF course to allow this to happen. It would also be great if a few of the more experienced Run Leaders would consider taking the extra steps to become a Coach in Running Fitness.

Of course, there may be lots of great reasons for not wanting to become a Run Leader:

  • I’m too busy training – just because you’re a Run Leader doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a session. You could lead the pack during a tempo run or long run
  • I need to focus on slower paced runs – drop down a group and help with that group or act as tail runner for your group
  • I’m not confident leading a group – you can simply act as tail runner and offer support to the others in the group
  • I can’t commit to leading every week – the more Run Leaders the club has, the more time Run Leaders can take time off.
  • I don’t have enough technical knowledge to feel confident in the role – next to no technical knowledge is required to be a Run Leader. Most of it is common sense!
  • I’m injured and can’t run – Run Leaders can lead a group from a bike or, in many sessions, from a stationary position!

Anyway, back to the day of the course…

The course started at 9am and when I arrived at the Park Suite at Fleming Park, I was quite surprised to see about 30 chairs set up. I was expecting about 15 to be on the course but this was a big underestimate.

I recognised several faces from various places. There were a handful of club members there from LRR, as well as Henry from WADAC. I also recognised a couple of local parkrunners and parents of children that take part in Southampton junior parkrun.

The course was a mix of theory and practical and was delivered by two experienced coaches; Suzy and Beth. There was also another lady, Peggy, whose primary role appeared to be making sure that the course was delivered correctly and to appraise Suzy and Beth.

The first task we had to do was to call out what we wanted to achieve from the course and these were then written on a board. After that, we had to each write down why we wanted to be a Run Leader on a post-it and affix it to a board. We then had to take someone else’s post-it and then try and find that person. This was a great way of introducing ourselves to each other.

Although the LiRF role was probably introduced as a way of getting Running Groups set up in communities (as part of Run England), many clubs have chosen to get enthusiastic members trained up to help deliver their training sessions in a safe way. I’d say that a majority of those present were going to be providing the latter.

After we’d done our introductions, we discussed the roles of a leader and what being ‘individual centred’ might mean. After that we heard about the ‘Athlete Development Model’ which comprises of 3 stages:

  • fundamentals
  • foundation
  • event group

Next up, we discussed the various stages of planning a training session and the importance of ongoing risk assessments and safety for participants.

Next, We moved out of the conference room for our first practical which was related to the safety and organisation of the warm up for a session.

Initially, the trainers gave us a warm up session and then described the approach they’d taken to make sure that we as participants understood what we had to do, that we did so safely and that the person leading the warm up was positioned well to keep an eye on those taking part in the session.

As part of the warm up, we were introduced to the Endurance Technical Template which provides a few simple pointers for a good running form (imagine having a helium balloon attached to your head and that will lead to a good running form).

In the warm up, we were reminded that dynamic stretching and flexibility exercises were important and that static stretches prior to activity were not considered best practice. We were also reminded that the warm up should be progressive and build up gradually to ensure that the participants were ready mentally and physically for the main part of the session.

With a fair amount to take in, it was then our turn to split into small groups to deliver a warm up session to the other participants.

In each group, we were given a target group demographic so that we could tailor the warm up to them. These included:

  • a group of children
  • a group of ex-sportsmen and women
  • a group of over 60s
  • a group of beginners

Each time we lead such an exercise, we could add one to our tally of leader activities.

The practical sessions were a great way to make use of what we’d learned and to bond with the other people on the course (they were also a way of keeping warm on a very chilly day!)

After a coffee break, we covered cool down and stretches in the studio. There were about 6 different stretches covered and the method of delivering the demonstrations was interesting. It basically consisted of a brief intro to what the stretch was for, a couple of pointers for what to look out for in the stretch, a silent demo and then some open questions back to the group to make sure they understood the stretch and its benefits.

Our next practical exercise was to then each deliver a stretch demo. After each, we were given feedback from the group and the trainers.

Before long it was lunch-time, a chance to speak with the other participants and to look forward to the rest of the day.

Our next session was a theory session on:

  • performance factors
  • components of fitness
  • FIT factors
  • and Energy Systems

This may sound overwhelming but the reality was that none of the theory was very challenging and, as will the rest of the course, was delivered really well in a fun, engaging and easy-to-understand manner.

The biggest practical session then took us outside. Before we did that though, we were introduced to several example session plans. These included sessions such as:

  • Out and back
  • Fartlek
  • Indian File
  • Raid the Goal
  • Fixed point repetitions
  • Meet and retreat
  • Loop back
  • Relays or pairs running

We were then split into groups of 3 or 4 and each group was given a session to delivery. This meant that in each group, we had to:

  • perform a risk assessment
  • decide on equipment needs (cones, whistle, etc)
  • provide a suitable warmup
  • provide the main session (ours was ‘out and back’)
  • provide cooldown and stretches

As we weren’t quite sure of where we’d be delivering the session, we had to work out the main session once we got to the location where we were delivering it.

Fellow LRR, Ashley, was in my group and we decided to do the main session part with an ERC member, James handling the warm up and Matt providing the cool down and stretches.

Before we could do that though, we had to participate in a couple of the other group’s sessions. These were fun and gave a good opportunity to steal some good ideas and also avoid any mistakes they’d made.

After each session, the groups provided feedback along with the trainer.

When it was our turn to deliver the session, Ash and I quickly organised how we’d do the main set. We decided on a pyramid set of timed runs with the out being at a steady pace with the back being faster. The pyramid was:

  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 10 seconds

We had 2 minutes to deliver the warm up, 4 minutes for the main session and then 2 minutes for the cool down and stretches. Clearly, a very condensed session but more than long enough to get the idea of what worked and what didn’t.

After James had delivered the warm up, it was time for Ash and I to take centre-stage! Eek!

It was amazing how long the 4 minutes took. The group participating in the session were trying really hard. So hard in fact, that I think a couple of the runners almost broke themselves! Result! 😉

Once Matt had delivered the cool down, it was time for some feedback.

Overall, it was very good. I’d forgotten to ask some open questions to allow the participants the chance to demonstrate that they understood what they’d be doing in the main set. However, we got praised highly for running alongside the runners to give them feedback and encouragement (and for us to keep warm!)

That was the last practical of the day and after the last group had delivered their session, we returned to the ‘class room’ to go through a paper exercise of delivering a 6 week programme for participants working towards a 5km run. Ash and I worked together on this and worked out a detailed plan including locations, paces and session types.

The last couple of sessions were related to the role of the leader in injury prevention and management and the personal development of Run Leaders. Again, these weren’t that detailed or technical and as with the rest of the course, there was a lot of audience participation and discussion.

Before long, the day of training was over. We’d learned a fair amount, put lots of it into practice and had a good amount of fun along the way. The course was really well delivered throughout and a great mix of theory and practical sessions. The theory was never dull or too detailed and there were plenty of opportunities to talk about each subject and for people to share their experiences. Also, there wasn’t any individual assessment so really no pressure at all to perform.

So… Now I’m a Leader In Running Fitness! I’ve already put some of what I learned on the course into practice! This evening, I attended a LRR training session and assisted experienced LiRF, Dave, by tail running in the group and by delivering the post-cool down stretches. I had anticipated that Dave would ask me if I wanted to do those and had been practicing during the day so that I didn’t look like a complete wazzock! I’m not too sure whether I managed that but would like to think that I got away with it.

Overall, the training was excellent. I’d recommend it to any club member who wants to do a little extra for the club. For our club, the more members we can get to help with Run Leading, even if it’s only helping with part of the session, (e.g. the introduction, warm up, main session, cooldown or stretches), the easier it becomes for the rest of the Run Leaders. As Run Leaders become more experienced, they could start to lead the sessions and then provide an opportunity for a couple of Run Leaders per group and/or the ability for RLs to have time off to concentrate on their training. If you’re a LRR member and want to give a little more to the club, why not consider becoming a LiRF! You don’t need to be super-fit (I’m not!), be one of the faster runners (I’m most certainly not!), know all about running technique and optimising perfomance (I don’t!), be the most popular member (I’m not!) or do more than help out in a group. Try it, you might just love it! Take a look at what the course entails and then contact the coach in your club (or any committee member). If you’re a LRR member, it’d be best to contact Ben Pitman. Please let them know that this blog post helped you decide to go that extra mile (if it did!)

I have come away from the course and this evening’s training session feeling really positive. I’m even considering taking the next step and taking the course to become a Coach in Running Fitness! You know me, I love a challenge!! 😉

Lordshill Road Runners Monday night training

After Sunday’s half marathon, I was not sure that I wanted to run any time soon and my Garmin backed me up by suggesting I take up backgammon or gardening or, at the very least, take 72 hours off before training hard again.

Although the garden needs some attention, I really enjoy Lordshill Road Runners’ Monday night training sessions and didn’t want to miss it as I knew I’d not be able to train with the club later in the week due to needing to ferry the boys around for their weekly activities.

With the decision made to go and train, I wasn’t sure whether to join my normal group, E, in one of my favorite sessions,’City Loop’, or drop down to group D and do a session called ‘Catch Me If You Can’. My head said go for the latter. My heart said stick with group E. In all likelihood, I’d regret either decision later.

I decided to follow my heart and chose ‘City Loop’.

Having battled the traffic across town, I got to Hill Lane at about 6:10 pm and then headed over the road to Tauntons College for registration.

There were a lot of members out for training (attendance seems to grow weekly regardless of weather) although notably quite a few regular faces appeared to be missing. Could it be the earlier rain, the chilly breeze, or something exciting on TV? The reality appeared to be that many who’d run the half marathon had wisely chosen to have a rest day. Had I made a mistake?

As group E set off up Hill Lane, I was pleased that my legs were working ok and not screaming at me. I was looking forward to the descent along Winchester Road to the western end of Shirley High Street though.

Within the first 10 minutes my Garmin advised that my Recovery Check was ‘fair’. Far better feedback than I’d expected.

I shalln’t bore you with the details of the session other than to say that we did some Fartleks along Shirley High Street which I enjoyed immensely.

In fact, I loved the whole session. There’s no way I’d have gone out and run 5 miles the day after a half marathon without having the club session to motivate me so my decision was the right one. It felt great to complete the session and that restored my confidence in my running.

Lordshill Road Runners Track session #1

It’s been several weeks since I last trained on the track. I love these sessions and was going weekly as part of Thursday morning Run Camp sessions. However, attempting to focus on training for the half distance triathlon meant that I decided to stop doing Run Camp until late September.

However, Lordshill Road Runners’ Club Coach, Ben, had organised a monthly Wednesday night session at Southampton Track and I decided to give that a go. Although less frequently, it has the benefit of being free as the club pay for the exclusive use of the track for an hour.

As I was still recovering from Sunday’s Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Triathlon event, I did briefly contemplate an evening at home but as the DOMS had subsided and my blisters on both insteps were both starting to heal and less sore, I went against better judgement and headed for the track leaving home at 6:20pm to battle the traffic across town.

I arrived at 6:50pm, parked and walked down to the track chatting with Lou along the way.

After a quick toilet break, I was joined by Teri as she jogged by. As she caught up with me, she suggested I might like to jog too to warm up. I did and immediately felt the blisters being rubbed by my shoes. It could be a painful evening.

As we got to the track, Ben was resting after a session he’d just completed so we chatted with him. Before long, other LRR started to join us until there was a group of almost 40 of us. It was going to be a busy and popular session.

As it got to 7pm, Ben described the evening. We’d start with a warmup lap of the track, do some dynamic stretches and then do the intervals.

Once the warmup and stretches were over, we prepared for the first of two identical sets comprising of:

90 seconds fast (e.g. at 5 or 10km pace)
90 seconds recovery
90 seconds fast
75 seconds recovery
90 seconds fast
60 seconds recovery
90 seconds fast
45 seconds recovery
90 seconds fast
30 seconds recovery
90 seconds fast
15 seconds recovery
90 seconds fast

We’d then get 3-4 minutes recovery before repeating this set. The intent was to cover the same distance in each fast interval with less recovery time.

With a range of pacing abilities and 40 of us on the track, it was quite crowded on the track but we coped. We alternated running the fast intervals between anti-clockwise and clockwise with the intent to finish where we’d started.

In the first interval, I covered about 325m which I was very pleased with. In the second, I overdid it a bit and got to 400m! After that I tried to consistently hit 325m each time which I managed.

The sessions definitely got tougher with the shorter recovery intervals. I was really looking forward to the long rest between the sets.

I love the track. STC do a weekly track session on a Tuesday evening as well which I may consider. With the evenings getting darker, the floodlit track offers a safe running surface which also mean that the coach can keep a watchful eye over participants.

I completed the session having run every interval at a good pace. I did overdo the first 200m of the last interval and almost fall apart over the last 100m or so. D’oh!

It was great to see lots of running friends and chat. Running alone really is nowhere near as fun as with a group.

Overall, a great session. Will it replace Run Camp for me? No! The two are quite different.

Run Camp track sessions have a max of 6-8 on the track and are weekly. You pay for that exclusivity and it’s worth it. However, the LRR sessions provide a great opportunity to get on the track in a coached session for free. I do fear the sessions will get busier and busier though.

LRR Training again – Long and Winding Hill

Although I’ll post more later in the week, my bad back, some man flu and other poor excuses have resulted in my training being affected for the last month. However, I’m getting back on schedule this week as I now have 5 weeks to go until the Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Tri.

Last week, I managed the LRR training session on Monday and the STC swim on Wednesday morning which was poor. This week will be different though.

I started the week with my 2nd LRR Monday training session and will cycle today, swim tomorrow and then run on Thursday and cycle again on Friday. With luck I’ll lake swim and parkrun on Saturday and hopefully cycle on Sunday time permitting.

Anyway, back to last night. I had a decision to make, swim or run. Although the weather had been abysmal for most of the day with heavy rainfall, the forecast showed an improvement with a dry sunny evening. The decision wouldn’t be made due to weather. It was made due to the fact that in less than 5 weeks, I need to run a half marathon and therefore need to make sure I’m run fit.

The evening’s session was called ‘Long and Winding Hill’ and consisted of that and another 7km. We met at Tauntons College and the group included a couple of new faces as well as a couple of the runners from last week’s session. Alison and Becky weren’t there though so other than Run Leader, Dave, I only knew Alice in the group. I know that Alice is much quicker than me. Gulp!

We headed across the Common up the incline we’d used in many Run Camp sessions and then cut through onto Burgess Road, past all the fast food outlets and down the hill to McDonalds. From there, it was the steady climb back to the Chilworth roundabout at the top of the Avenue. It’s a section which is certainly challenging and is about 1.5 miles long. I’ve run it once or twice and cycled it several more times and wasn’t really looking forward to it but by not looking up too much, I made it in one piece without stopping. As we stopped at the top to wait for the tail runners, I caught my breath before we headed down the gradual descent down the Avenue.

The weather was lovely. Sunny and not too warm.

As we entered the Common, I knew it was all downhill and made my way into 2nd place within the group. There were certainly quicker runners in the group and it was good to push myself.

A majority of my run training over the last 5 years or so has been solo and it’s been great to run in company as part of the training sessions.

With less than a km to go, the heavens opened and we got soaked to the skin. Completely drenched. It was really refreshing though and it was welcome although I’m really glad it happened at the end of the run.

Another great session and invaluable!

Sprint triathlon training – week 6 – the rest of the week

This week seems to be a very long week. I looked back at my last blog post and can’t believe the things I’ve done were this week.

So, where was I?

Thursday – Run Camp

I really thought I’d blogged about Run Camp but can’t find the post. Must be my advancing years!

I had planned to cycle to Run Camp but a few things transpired against me so I ended up driving.

It was another great session consisting of the usual warmup and stretches and then 3 lots of the following:

  • 4 minute effort
  • 2 minute rest
  • 2 minute effort
  • 1 minute rest

I had a target of 850m for the 4 minute efforts and 450m for the 2 minute efforts. I exceeded the targets each time. Very happy about that.

On Thursday evening, I had a sports massage with Tiff who again found more painful muscles to inflict more pain on. I’m sure it did me good though!! My right Achilles was really sore and Tiff advised RICE to help alleviate the pain. It’s an issue I’ve had after most runs for over a year and I’ve now vowed to try and look after it by stretching and icing after runs.

Friday – lunchtime swim

As I’d only managed to swim once this week, I decided to do a lunchtime swim at Fleming Park. I had no real plan in mind and made it up as I went along.

The session turned into:

500m warmup
500m swim
50m cool down

The 500m swim but was due to be a 400m effort to see what I could do it in without race day adrenaline. I miscounted my laps and ended up doing an extra 100m. D’oh!

Saturday – 5km tempo run

On Saturday morning, Denise and Daniel headed to London for the weekend so Connor and I had a boys weekend. We started with a visit to Winchester parkrun for their 1st anniversary and also Neil Garton’s 100th parkrun.

It was great to see many parkrun friends and chat with many of them. I was volunteering at the event (barcode scanning) whilst Connor was being a cheeky clown. A role he excels at!! He did help collect the position tokens too!

After the run, we went up to the cafe at River Park Leisure Centre for a coffee before heading off to Paultons Park for a couple of windy hours on the rides. The park was filled with screeching girls (groups from Rainbows, Brownies and Guides) and that meant that the rides were a little longer than possible.

After Paultons, we headed to Romsey Rapids for a ‘swim’ which was fun but involved not a single stroke of swimming. As parents, trips to the pool inevitably involve bobbing about rather than swimming.

When I got home, I tallied up my consumed calories and decided that if I wanted to treat myself to a couple of edible treats that I’d have to burn some calories so had go decide whether to get on the turbo trainer/rollers or on the treadmill. Against Tiff’s advice of rest, I went on that treadmill with the aim of a 5km tempo run. I wanted to see just how fast I could go without killing myself.

I ramped up the pace to 10kmph and then 11kmph before easing up to 12kmph. A 23 minute 5km looked like I had it in my sights. Unfortunately, I had to stop twice very briefly to help Connor who was struggling with Netflix on AppleTV but got straight back on and carried on at 12kmph.

I finished the 5km in 23:06 which is a big 5km PB but clearly not the same as running 5km outside on a normal 5km course. However, it did prove a couple of things:

– when I push myself, I can run fast
– a 23 minute (or faster) 5km is achievable if I keep working at it and I push myself all the way and don’t run within my comfort zone.

Having watched Neil achieve his 100th parkrun, I’ve set a target of reaching my 100th parkrun this year. It has been also 4 years since I ran my first parkrun and about time I got to 100. I’m anticipating reaching the goal in late October or early November.

Sunday – Junior parkrun

Today’s forecast was not great. Rain, rain, rain! We’ve been pretty lucky at the Juniors event to date and managed to avoid much of the wet stuff in the 23 weeks the event’s been held.

I managed to get Connor out of bed and down to Riverside Park for 8:20am and helped with set up before taking my position as marshal/photographer Connor joined me and high-5d a few of the juniors.

We got pretty wet as we packed up and one of the first jobs to do once we got home was to try and dry out all the equipment, signs and high-viz bibs.

Connor had a birthday party to go to which started at 10:45am so it was a bit of a rush to do that, unload all the equipment, upload the photos and process the results before heading out to Eastleigh we made it though with time to spare before having to endure 2 hours of kids screaming and crying.

This afternoon is filled with chores so no more training this week. Next up, STC swim tomorrow evening.

Weekly summary

Another good week apart from a lack of cycling! Must make up for that next week.

I started the week at 12 stone 7lbs and weighed 12 stone 5.6lbs today. This is almost my goal weight (goal is 12st 5lbs) so happy about that.

Sprint triathlon training week 4 day 5 – Long run (it’s all relative)

A short one today…

This morning, I headed into Southampton for a quick meeting at Southampton City Council with Head of Events, Craig Lintott.

Craig and I have been in regular contact over the last couple of years by email discussing Southampton parkrun, Southampton Juniors parkrun, Lordshill Mile series and the two main Lordshill Road Runners road races so it was good to meet him in person. Craig has been instrumental in helping get these events approved so really can’t thank him enough for his support.

As a fellow parkrunner with 58 parkruns completed, I’m sure we’ll see each other fairly regularly in the future.

As the meeting finished earlier than expected, I drove home and decided to head out for a run and covered 11.82km (7.33 miles) at a LSR pace of a little over 6 mins per km. Scarily, I believe this is one of my longest runs for a while!

Once home, my right Achilles was quite tender so, for once, I stretched it and it made a big difference.

With only the weekend remaining, I’m heading for the STC swim tomorrow morning (as I’m volunteering at Southampton parkrun next Saturday) and then enjoying a rest day on Sunday.

Will summarise my training week in a post at some point over the weekend.

Sprint triathlon training week 4 day 4 – Run Camp and cycling

This morning was the third Run Camp in the set and I’d set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual for one main reason; I planned to cycle to and from Southampton Sports Centre. The reasons for this were simple:

  • Cycling there and back would allow me to incorporate an additional fitness activity in to my day
  • It would most likely be quicker getting home in the rush hour traffic by bike than driving

Yesterday evening, I’d checked the route and distance (approximately 7.5km each way) and made sure my lights were working. My route both ways would take me along the Avenue, the thought of which was a little daunting at first.

After breakfast, I got dressed (I decided to wear a tri suit to give me some saddle padding and a cycling jacket) and headed out to get my bike. Once all set, I hit the road. It was pretty quiet at 6am as expected and I made it to the track in about 24 minutes. It was quite an uphill journey until I reached the Avenue where it was nice and flat. As it’s dual carriageway on the Avenue, drivers were able to give me ample room. As I got to the roundabout where I needed to turn right, I made sure I was well positioned in the road to make it clear exactly where I was going. Easy!!

As I arrived, I could hear a car behind me. It had to be a fellow Run Camper and it was, Steve Le Bas. I cycled down the hill to the track and met up with Jules who’d arrived early.

Once off the bike, I prepared to run. As I did so, the other Run Campers turned up and we set off for a warmup.

The plan for the session was a pyramid. However, as Ant explained it, it was clear that it was an inverse pyramid or, as it became known, a ‘valley’! It consisted of:

  • 4 minute run with 2 minute rest
  • 3 minute run with 90 seconds rest
  • 2 minute run with 1 minute rest
  • 1 minute run with 30 seconds rest
  • 2 minute run with 1 minute rest
  • 3 minute run with 90 seconds rest
  • 4 minute run with 2 minutes rest

My effort paces were:

4 minutes: 910m (4:25 mins/km)

3 minutes: 710m (4:17 mins/km)

2 minutes: 480m (4:15 mins/km)

1 minute: 270m (3:43 mins/km)

2 minutes: 430m (4:41 mins/km)

3 minutes: ???

4 minutes: ???

As you’ll see, things were going well until the 2nd 2 minute interval. You might ask what happened there…. Well, I went off like a rocket on the 1 minute interval and for the first 30 seconds was actually just behind Steve and ahead of Jules. However, after 30 seconds at the pace I was running, it wasn’t long until my body decided I’d tried to hard and I slowed down considerably. Having said that, I still managed a decent pace…

But…. the overcooking of my 1 minute effort meant that I struggled in the 2 minute interval and got about 1 minute into it and then both legs cramped up. I felt in a lot of pain and it reminded me of the Valley Leisure Tri in 2013. I really didn’t want to be hobbling off of the track so slowed down and once the interval was over, I stretched by quads as much as I could. There wasn’t time for me to get back to the start line so I started my 3 minute effort at about the 100m line. I didn’t push that effort at all and just cruised around.

Once I finished, I asked Ant what stretch would ease the pain and took his advice. The pain eased again and we moved onto a very short S&C set. Part of the set was plank with side rotation which caused my quads to spasm again. Ouch!

With Run Camp over for another week, it was time to get back on the bike and head home. The first challenge was getting up the hill. This would have been easier had my legs not gone into spasm again leading me to almost fall off infront of a dog walker and her canine friend. Street cred lost in a second! Having decided to get off (fall off), I walked up the hill and then got onto the bike once I reached the top.

The ride home was largely uneventful apart from losing my back light as I hit one of the many potholes. I only realised as I heard it smash into a zillion pieces behind and to the side of me! Another Amazon order placed shortly after I got home for replacements.


Sprint triathlon training – week 3 day 5 – road cycling

That’s right! Road cycling. Cycling on the road. Not on a turbo trainer or rollers. Actually out on a road! I’m 99% sure that I’ve not taken the road bike out on the road since last year’s Wiggle Sportive.

Anyway, I decided that today was the day to change that and, having checked the bike was road-fit, I donned by very sexy DHB lycra-cycle shorts and jacket and headed out. I’d set myself out a course which took in the delights of Allington Lane, Fair Oak and Eastleigh before heading back through Mansbridge to do the loop again. Each loop was about 14km long so the plan was to do 28km.

Other than one right hand turn at the start and end, all other turns would be left turns. Always a favourite direction for me as a cyclist!

Not much more to say about the ride really other than I had a few silent one-way discussions with other road users who either cut into the gutter and, therefore, didn’t give me room to roll on by, a lady that insisted on stopping and then reversing into her driveway without letting me by and numerous mumbled comments about the poor state of the road. In places, the road quality was shocking and I’m glad that I don’t mind road vibration, ‘cos there was lots of it.

Garmin tells me that I burned 890 calories for my efforts. I’m not going to argue as I need as many banked as out for a birthday meal for Daniel’s 8th birthday!

Sprint triathlon training week 2

I really wish I’d started this post earlier in the week before I’d forgotten most of what I’ve done (yes, it must be my age Teri!)

So, digging deep…

Monday – the usual Monday evening STC swim session. It was a pacing week and we did a lot of 100m sets. I didn’t pace perfectly and was a little fatigued after the Eastleigh 10k but was pleased with my efforts. Some of my SWOLF scores were under 40 (note that the SWOLF is based on Garmin calculation). In recent swims, I’ve ditched the nose clip which I hoped would help with my streaming nose as I was struggling to breath particularly bilaterally. I’d rather feel comfortable while in the pool than be snot free after. Having said that, I’m going to try a different anti-allergy remedy, Pirinase Spray, to see if that helps (thanks for the suggestion Tamsyn).

Tuesday – the last Run Camp session of the 12 week block. It wasn’t a full group as Steve, Max and Andy weren’t there. This left me with Gareth to try and beat in the intervals. Not a friggin’ hope!! Gareth is quick and normally covers about twice the distance I can manage. Katherine was struggling with an injury and wasn’t running her fastest. We were doing 3 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries. We all ran together and it was clear that Gareth was going to lead us. I was pleased to be 2nd on each of the 4 sets. In fact, there was less than 100m between us on each of the sets as I covered 0.72km (720m on average) and Gareth was completing about 800m. Had Steve been there and Gareth not still suffering from a birthday weekend of excesses, I’m sure the gap would have been much larger!

On the last two intervals Tamsyn lead us out and went at one helluva pace. Had she been able to sustain it, Gareth would have struggled to keep up. Fortunately for Gareth (and myself), Tamsyn began to flag at around 250m so we could creep by.

The pacing of each of my intervals was pretty good. I was able to complete roughly 720m each time which was great.

Wednesday – 2nd STC swim of the week. An early start of 4:40am to get in the pool for 5:30am. I really struggled to get up and, in reality, it was closer to 4:50am before I got out of bed. I did though. Triathlon training is tough. Fitting 6 or 7 sessions in per week is a struggle at times.

There were 4 of us in the lane and I didn’t disgrace myself with my performance. These sessions are 80 minutes and we covered 3.2km again. Good session. More miles in the pool.

Thursday – given that Mother’s Day is massive for online florists, I knew this week was going to be busy. That meant that I had to do a treadmill run. I decided that a 5km pyramid run would be something fun to do so did!!

Not much to say about the session. I did it and felt good.


Friday – workload meant that I couldn’t get on the bike, swim or run so I did some S&C. Chest presses, planks, wall sits, tricep dips, tricep curl, etc.

Saturday – yet more work and no opportunity to parkrun or so the STC swim session. I did, however, get the bike on the rollers between firefighting issues. I managed about 35 minutes over 3 sets. Nothing earth-shattering other than not falling off which I guess is a positive.

In other news, I’ve decided to tackle my 40-inch waistline. Given all the training I do, you’d expect me to look skinny. However, I’m packing a spare tyre that would be more appropriate on a truck. It’s slowing me down and acting like an anchor when I swim. In fact, I’m sure it sometimes skims along the tiles at the bottom of the pool. Anyway, you get the picture, or maybe it’s best that you don’t! Ant Gritton of Run Camp made a suggestion in a recent Facebook post to use MyFitnessPal. I’m fairly sure I’ve tried it briefly in the past but am glad that Ant mentioned it again as it is an incredibly great app! Their website stinks though so avoid that.

Using the app is so easy particularly given its incredible database of foods and the fact it remembers that you eat regularly and what combinations of foods you have together. I really can’t fault the app at all. The only thing I change is the calories burned through exercise where I use my Garmin-calculated calories rather than those suggested by MyFitnessPal.

I really don’t have a clue of the composition of my diet with regards to fat, carbohydrates and protein so it’s really helpful that the provides a pie-chart (seems appropriate!) of these:


I’ve set myself a weight-loss goal which is reasonable and am tracking everything I eat and so far, it’s going well.