Monday, 3 August 2015

#TessTris - Weeks 3 & 4 triathlon training

So I'm actually getting better at swimming.

I'm really enjoying saying that, even though I'm still pretty nervous about putting it to the test next month at the Diamond Tri. But, the more I practice, with every breakthrough I make, the more confident I feel that I won't crash and burn on the swim.

I've still got a fair way to go to get to 400m without stopping, and have just under five weeks to do it in - but I do love a deadline, so I know I'll get there, one way or another.

It's funny how last year I made next to no progress in comparison to the gains I've made this past couple of months simply by shutting up and getting on with the things I'd convinced myself I wasn't capable of. Alright, maybe I haven't shut up at all, in fact I've had a right old moan throughout, but had a go anyway and then realised that actually, I can do it:

  1. Swim two lengths without stopping.
  2. Progress to four lengths with minimal breaks. 
  3. Do a whole Swim Fit 16, 20 and 32 length workout in front crawl.
  4. Go out of my depth in the sea.
  5. Swim a length or two WITHOUT my nose clip. 
  6. Have a break from panicked flapping in the sea to try a tiny bit of actual swimming, again, WITHOUT the nose clip (tasted like shit twice as bad as water entered both nostrils and my mouth)
  7. Practice bi-lateral breathing (it's not pretty).

Out of my depth

Until a couple of months ago, I had never, ever gone out of my depth in water without having the side of a pool to hang onto. Going out of my depth in the sea for the first time was utterly terrifying, even though I was with the Swimming for Softies session in my amazing Brighton triathlon training group.

Picture this, as a beginner swimmer: 

Your goggles are steamed up and you can't see a thing from the glare of the sun. You've drank half the channel already, you're knackered and flailing, and every time you stop treading water you sink. You need to de-steam your goggles and you're desperate to get back on dry land but big, salty rolling waves keep thrashing into you, some up your nose, some down your throat, some over your head. 

All you want is something to hold onto, or step on, so you can stop, breathe, and adjust yourself. 

But it doesn't come, and you have to suck it up (not as literally as you have been), and get on with it. 

Needless to say, every time I get in the sea I revert back to terrified little fat Tess in the school pool when the armbands finally got taken away. 

But the fear is slowly starting to slip away. The more I practice, in the sea, in the pool, the more confident I grow. Progress is so addictive!

Tonight, after a brilliant BTRS coaching session at the amazing Pells Pool in Lewes (the UK's oldest outdoor swimming pool and my new favourite place to swim), I made a massive breakthrough with my stroke. I slowed it right down, lifted my elbows and rotated my body, keeping my head down.

I glided on each stroke before taking the next one, and sorted my water entry (ignore my 'tip' in my last post, I didn't know what I was talking about). As the session went on I became less flustered and less out of breath. I was calm and capable.

It wasn't perfect, but it's a start.

Have a nose at tonight's video here:

Compared with a video from my second ever full 25m lengh last year:

No wonder I was so out of breath by the end of the second video! It's amazing how just a few specific tips on technique can really help to slow down, focus and improve.

Just don't ask me to do it without my nose clip for Christ's sake!

A rundown of the last couple of weeks full training:

Colour coded because I'm a fitness wanker and like to see at a glance the balance of activities in the week...

W/C 20/7/15 - TRIATHLON TRAINING WK 3 of 9 (including daily cycle commute)

Tue: Run AM/ Yoga PM  
Wed: Boxing AM / 5k run PM
Thu: Swimming for Softies (Sea swim)
Fri: REST  
Sat: Yoga + meditation at Brighton Yoga Festival
Sun: Gym brick session: 45mins bike + 45mins run

W/C 27/7/15 - TRIATHLON TRAINING WK 4 of 9 (including daily cycle commute)

Mon: Swim - 20 lengths front crawl PM
Tue: Gym/run mini session AM / Yoga PM  
Wed: Boxing AM
Thu: BTRS 6am brick session: 20k bike + 5k run / Swim (34 lengths) PM

What's been your breakthrough in training, whether for a triathlon or otherwise? Any more swim tips for an improving newbie?


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Saturday, 25 July 2015

REVIEW | Brighton Yoga Festival

A little girl and her mum walked past the entrance to 
Brighton Yoga Festival this afternoon as I was leaving.

"We can get sweeties in there mummy"
"No darling," the mum said, "It's all healthy in there..."

She wasn't wrong. 

I left the festival energised, relaxed and full of vitality and health, ready to take on the world. Luckily, I only had to meet my husband (still love saying that) for a lovely sunny lunch in town so no one else had to put up with my dreamy, zenned-out state. 

I have a feeling I wouldn't have been the only one floating around Brighton today after a whole day of free classes and workshops put on by the city's finest yogis. 

Currently in its second year and held at St Georges Church in Kemptown, the festival offered massages and other treatments, delicious vegetarian and vegan food, lines of stalls advertising art, crafts and the cream of Brighton's yoga crop, and a host of indoor and outdoor classes of just about every type of yoga you could ever imagine. 

Brighton Yoga Festival 2015 - St Georges Church Kemptown

Brighton Yoga Festival 2015 - St Georges Church Kemptown

I got there early to book onto my two chosen classes - a blissful yoga and pilates fusion class with Holly and Ellie from MyEscape / Studio iO to wake up my senses, and a 40 minute mindfulness meditation workshop from Sam at The Float Spa to drift into the most beautiful space. I sometimes find it so hard to slow down and quiet my mind but today it just worked, and it was ace. 

Brighton Yoga Festival - Ellie & Holly from MyEscape / Studio iO
Ellie & Holly from MyEscape / Studio iO Brighton

Whenever I wake from Savasanah or any meditation that I've been able to fall right into I come about all giddy and smiley. It's such a rarity for me to be still, to be quiet. To not think about what needs to be done, what training I'm doing later, that deadline at work, the washing up that's waiting in the sink. 

I've always got 101 things whirling around my head and I'm a terrible multi-tasker/half-a-job-finisher. My short attention span flits between whatever's won the momentary fight for attention in my brain, whether that be the work I'm doing, that programme I'm watching, that conversation I'm having, that notification on my phone. (Need a bit of a phone detox actually but we'll talk about that later...) 

Sometimes I feel the only time I'm ever truly focused on one thing and one thing only is when I'm in the zone with writing. So today, it was really nice to take some time, create some space, and just be. After my two classes I bought some fresh pineapple and a cup of tea (mainly because I didn't have enough change on me for tea and cake), before wandering around the rest of the festival, taking photos of the other classes. 

Brighton Yoga Festival 2015 - St Georges Church Kemptown

Brighton Yoga Festival 2015 - St Georges Church Kemptown

I would've stayed all day if I could but lunch (and a hungry husband) were waiting :)

It's no secret that I love my city, and I'm really falling for yoga. Brighton's got such a big heart with so much going on, including a huge yoga community, and this festival is exactly what we need - I just can't believe it wasn't organised sooner! 

Who's coming next year then? 

Have you fallen in love with yoga like I have? 
Do you find it hard to slow down and be mindful in every day life? 


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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lessons learned as a beginner triathlete

Don't sell yourself short

That's the main thing I've realised this past couple of weeks whilst throwing myself into my non-training plan for my first tri this September. Never assume you can't do something if you haven't actually tried. Although I love challenging myself and learning new things, I do sometimes take the 'easier' route to make progress if it means not having to change and re-learn.

Like swimming. I've made so much more ground this past couple of sessions than I ever did last year, and that's because I was 'forced' to step outside of my comfort zone. Yesterday I swam my first ever (flappy / stop-in-the-middle-to-have-a-cough-and-splutter) full length WITHOUT my nose clip. It was completely by accident too - I set off forgetting to put it on and then decided to just go for it and see what happened.

Turns out, no one died.

I did however, make the mistake of going for an evening swim on the day that schools broke up for summer. Which was no fun at all.

Lesson no.2:

Check the pool timetable

I'm really enjoying triathlon training at the moment. Or am I actually enjoying just 
not marathon training? I'm not following a training plan as I couldn't find one that worked for me as a beginner swimmer but strong cyclist and experienced (but not great) runner. (Any ideas, anyone?)

So my non-plan is currently consisting of whatever I feel like putting in, typically involving two or three swims a week (including one sea flap), daily cycle commute with a weekend long ride, strength training, boxing (for fun) and yoga (for the soul), and then poor old running squeezed in whenever I remember.

So herein lies the third lesson learned:

Don't neglect the running

The thing about running is, as soon as you stop doing it regularly, it gets bloody difficult again, and all that rainbows-and-unicorns-sunshine glory you once had bounding like a gazelle around your favourite run-route soon gets replaced with a whole load of arse.

As I discovered this week:

It's OK though, me and running are like that *crosses fingers*. We just need to rekindle our affair and soon we'll be pumping out that ever-elusive sub25 5k.

But hang on - what about running off the bike? I've only done one brick session so far - I ran the inaugural Hove Prom parkrun after cycling to Worthing and back a couple of weeks ago and let me tell you it was far from pretty, and definitely something I have to work on. 

So - at least one brick session per week from now. It might never get pretty, but I'll get better at it. Maybe??

Cycling-wise I'm pretty comfortable to be honest. I cycle every day and feel right at home on the bike. Apart from when I'm half way up a beasty hill and realise I've got nowhere else to go on the gears. When the legs are burning, lungs screaming and that bastard gradient increasing ever-more, it's a dark, dark time when you look down and realise you're already in the lowest gear.

Say hello to lesson no. four:

You always need another gear

The cycle route at Eton Dorney is thankfully nice and flat so maybe I won't have this problem. Just the god-awful run off the bike to contend with then. Still, it's only 2.5km and whatever happens, it's gotta be better than the duathlon I did there last February. Even if I did lap Dame Kelly Holmes.

So yeah, a few lessons learned so far, no doubt there'll be more. Looking at the weekly roundup of last week's training below it's pretty clear I need to add some regular brick training and running in.

Just gimme a couple more days in the week first, yeah?

Tue: AM swim 16 lengths front crawl / Sweaty Betty Yoga PM  
Wed: PT with Amy PM
Thu: AM swim 20 lengths
Fri: REST  
Sat: Hilly ride to Eastbourne & back (45 miles)
Sun: Stanmer Park mtb trails  

What's your biggest lesson learned during your training (triathlon, running, cycling, whatever). Do you sometimes take the 'easy' way out if the option is there?


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