Category Archives: running

Post Sabbatical Challenges

So I’m coming to the end of my 3 month Sabbatical. It has been fantastic but with one day to go time to think about the Post Sabbatical Challenges.

First, a summary of the Sabbatical

  • Three special sites visited:
  • Plenty of Cycling
  • Time with the family
    • Visiting family in Cornwall
    • A 21st Birthday with the family in Bristol
    • A weekend with family including our grandson in Cardiff
    • Time with my nephew and fiancee planning their wedding
    • A couple of weeks touring Scotland and Northumberland with Jane and youngest Son using our caravan (Skye, Loch Ness, Blair Atholl and then Lindisfarne
  • Plenty of reading (my Kindle now has 145 books on it)
  • Plenty of reflection and lots of personal change as a result, more still to come.
  • A significant health impact.
    • I am the lightest I have been for more than 5 years (probably a lot more than that).
    • I have lost over 7 kg during the sabbatical which is 10kg since the heaviest this year.
    • I have reduced my body fat % by 4%.
    • I can now run 3.8 miles without any problems and have run my fastest 5k
    • I am using the last hole on my belt

So what next?

It seems obvious that I want to continue with this progress towards a healthier me as I am really enjoying the changes that result in energy and self-perception. So

  • I have entered the BB200 which is a 200km off road ride through the Cambrian Mountains in October. The challenge is to complete it within 36 hours. That is going to be a really significant challenge for me in many ways.
  • We are starting the 5:2 Fast Diet in the coming week. As my cycling miles plummet I don’t want to pile the weight back on and both the science around this diet and the practicalities appeal. If I could lose another 5% body fat that would put me in the middle of the healthy range for my age. It would also significantly help both my running and cycling.
  • I’m doing my first running event on Tuesday which is 3 miles (Watermead Challenge)
  • I want to build up the running so that I can do a 10k run by September (that should really help with the BB200 which will include lots of sections where I need to push or even carry my bike)
  • I want to get back in the swimming pool. My target is to swim 20 lengths front crawl without stopping.
  • I’ll enter the Leicester Triathlon next year. Unlike last year I’ll do so with proven capability of doing the swimming and running.
  • Within the next 12 months I’d like to build up to being able to complete a one day 200 mile bike ride.

That should keep me going 🙂


I am learning to cope with hills

Today was quite a hilly ride from Launde Abbey to Oakham and back (1,472 feet climbing in 12.1 miles) on my Bullitt Cargobike. It was also very windy with a headwind all the way back. I have done the ride many times before in the 8 years I have been coming to Launde Abbey for our District Retreat, but only once before on my cargobike (and that was before I had the cargobox).

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:18:47 01:23:34 12.06 8.66 45.63 1,473.10
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

While I am still not very fast:-) I think I have made a lot of progress since I wrote Getting defeatist me up hills for years ago. I’m not sure I’m a lot fitter and the weight I was hoping to lose at the time didn’t stay off, so I am a similar weight now.

However, mentally I think I have made progress when it comes to climbing hills. I don’t panic that I won’t get to the top. I am able to relax into plodding up for however long it takes and if I get off to walk it is no longer the end of the world (although I didn’t have to walk at all today). I can now look ahead and see the top in the distance without that frightening me.

My limited amount of running (my first 5k since May yesterday) does seem to help, especially when it comes to standing on the pedals when you can no longer spin in 1st gear.

All this has been without specialised, dedicated and committed training. Events like the Ford Fiesta help, but generally I think it is the combination of just riding for transport and adding longer rides into the mix. Learning to relax and not get so stressed also helps and part of that is knowing that I and the bike are reliable and so it does not matter if things take a bit longer.

Oh and two other points about today’s ride.

a) I wasn’t wearing any cycling specific clothing. T-shirt, light fleece and Acclimatise Fleece, normal casual trousers, trainers.

b) I’m not too tired after. Ready for an evening session on the retreat.

Neither of these would have been true 4 years ago.


What’s been up Doc?

So I have been pretty quiet here for a while. The main reason is a combination of Triathlon recovery and a busy time at work.

Earlier I wrote about my preparations for the Leicester Triathlon, in the end I did 2 training runs, both 5k. The 2nd was on Tuesday 29th April with the race on Monday 5th May. In hindsight this was a mistake – although not as big a mistake as leaving running training so late 🙂

The first two parts of the race went well but when I came to start the run my knees were hopeless and I had to walk/hobble nearly the whole 5k. My overall result was still better than I expected at 1hour 38minutes 51seconds but the breakdown shows how biased the speed was against the run.

The problem is that my knees have still not recovered. A couple of things have taken me backwards. First a weekend after the race I had to do a fair bit of driving (3hrs on both Saturday and Sunday). Both the position and the weight of the clutch made my left knee considerably work. Then last week I had to do more walking and step climbing than normal while delivering and collecting Christian Aid envelopes (on one road every house has about 6 steps).

I have been able to get around by bike but have avoided long rides and have been slower than normal. Even when almost unable to walk it is quite possible to ride slowly without pain.

In the last day or so they do seem to have improved quite a bit. That is good news because this weekend is a big ride, the Methodist Pilgrimage to Epworth. We have 5 riders doing 165 miles over 3 days and 2 riders doing a slightly shorter ride of about 100 miles. The Pilgrimage includes a fundraising element 50% for Epworth Old Rectory (the family home of John and Charles Wesley) and the other 50% to Syston Methodist Church towards our project to create a Youth Cafe and Community Hub (sadly Syston has nowhere for young people to go in the evening and our current 1960’s facilities need a new separate entrance, refurbished toilets etc).

Please sponsor me at cos these are both excellent causes.

Because of the knee problems I have changed my plans for the ride a little. A friend is driving our car as a support vehicle so I have decided that instead of using my Shand Stoater bike for life I am going to carry far fewer tools etc and ride my Whyte Suffolk hoping that a lighter faster bike will allow me to ride in a much more knee friendly way.

While my Whyte Suffolk does not have a rack (there are mounting points but the whole point is to keep it a lightweight road bike – albeit one with excellent disk brakes and comfortable 28mm tyres) I can carry quite a lot of stuff now. I can have three bags on the bike (all British made):

So with the smaller bag on the handlebars I should still have 20 litres capacity with the frame bag ideally suited to relatively heavy tools while the others are going to be great for people’s immediate clothing and food needs.

I am looking forward to the ride which is with good friends. Jane is coming and it will include her longest day ride (twice) and more long days in a row that she has done before.

Anyway your sponsorship will be much appreciated at NB if you give on a Wednesday between 5pm and 6pm (UK time) then Paypal should match your donation (but it is likely to be used up very quickly each Wednesday so it looks liek you need to get in at 5:01pm


Triathlon Preparation

So a week today I have my first ever triathlon. I’m doing the “Sprint” distance of the Leicester Triathlon ie 400m swim, 20k cycle and 5k run.

Since going public about this on 31st December my “training” has not been what I would like. I’m going to take the easy way out and blame the 8 weeks that it took me to get over a horrible virus that left me with a bad cough.

I know I can swim 400m (16 lengths), I did it last week (and yes that was the first time this year). However, I can’t do it very fast (aiming for just under 12 minutes) and I can’t do much of it front crawl. My “best” strokes are side-stroke and breast-stroke and the big risk is making my knees hurt for the cycle and swim that follow.

Clearly the cycling is my best part of the course. In order to gain as much time as possible over others at the back of the field I have fitted tri-bars. On a test ride today I managed the first 8.5 miles at 19.5mph (then I ran out of fast roads as I was on the way to visit Jane’s building site).

Obviously I need to set a balance so I am able to still crawl around the run. But I’m going to aim for 18mph which “should” be possible with the tri-bars. Last year I did the cycling only element of the Blenheim Relay Triathlon in just under 43 minutes. I’d like to beat that as I am a bit fitter this year and the tri-bars do make quite a difference but I don’t know if that is more than the tiredness from the swim?

The run is just about survival to help this I’ll be slipping on knee bandages during the transition from cycling. My first and only 5k run in the last 35 years which I did last week took me 35 minutes 26 seconds. I guess after the swim and cycle I will be delighted with anything under 40 minutes (well to be honest I’ll be delighted if I am still alive by Tuesday next week).

One of the reasons that Triathlon appeals is the toys you can buy. I haven’t gone all the way with a triathlon specific watch. But the tri-bars are just for this as the easiest possible way to save time pover the course.

I have treated myself to some of the cheapest triathlon specific shorts. They look just like slightly long cycling shorts but the pad is much thinner, supposedly suitable for swimming and running. I used them today and the reduced padding is very noticeable when riding (particularly when on the tri-bars), they are still bearable though.

I also got a triathlon race belt cos you have to do something with your race number (on the back when cycling and front when running).

I have some proper running shoes (and yes I bought them from somewhere that tests your gait). I’ll be using my normal cycling shoes with my normal speedplay frog pedals.

I’m not going to try anything fancy for the transition to bike such as having my shoes clipped onto the pedals and putting them on after you start cycling. For a start I can run reasonable ok in and out of transition with my mountain bike style cycling shoes with the frog pedal clips (in fact last year I was running in and pout of transition at about twice the speed I intend to use for the whole run this year).

My biggest fear is knee pain. It is what generally puts me off running. I’ve been reading about it and I think the biggest thing to try in the next week is cold to reduce inflammation. With that to try I think I may try one more practice run tomorrow –  surely 2 runs does not mean I run the risk of overtraining 😉


Breaking in my knees for running

So I have entered the Leicester Sprint Triathlon on May 5th and this involves running 5k. I can’t currently run anything like 5k and the last time I tried the NHS Couch to 5k programme I had to give up after about a month because my knees were so bad that I could barely climb the stairs. So this year I am trying to more carefully handle breaking in my knees for running.

Today I started with a 5k walk (for pedants it was 3.3 miles or 5.3k). The weather is disgusting, heavy rain and strong winds so I was dressed up in hike boots and waterproofs. Here are the details from Strava (recorded using the Android Phone App).

As I don’t normally do much walking and almost never any running my theory is that doing a week or two of regular walks should be gentler thus breaking in my knees for running without breaking my knees.

What do you think?


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