Gosh it’s been a wee while since I’ve posted anything. I think the general rule at work is about a month of punishment for each week you take off. What with wading through the post holiday admin mountain, some on call, a work trip to London and the ongoing training, I’ve had little time to get to the blog.
But the training continues unabated, and whilst I find myself in a constant state of half exhaustion, half starvation (I literally can’t find enough food), and at times (many times) question my sanity for doing this, I am beginning to see small signs of improvement. This is happening just on time, in the same way that a few weeks after having a baby you are just about ready to give them away, and then they give you their first smile, and you decide to persevere and keep them after all (except Jamie – he gave his first smile to my mother, little b*****d. It’s a miracle we’ve still got him). But these small glimmers of hope do keep you going when you’re ready for packing it all in.
The first concrete evidence of improvement was on the strength and conditioning side of things. Fiona had done a few tests with me as baseline measurements, and we repeated them a couple of weeks ago. Before I started with Fiona I couldn’t do a single press-up. We needed to count how many I could do, so I had to do the cheaty embarrassing ones on my knees. I managed 7. I seriously think my mother could do more than that. Although I can now do actual press-ups, for the sake of continuity we did the kneely ones again for my repeat test and I managed 29. And then 13 full press-ups shortly afterwards. I also significantly increased my wall sit time (one of the meanest exercises known to man), and improved my flexibility. Interestingly my plank time was exactly the same but I think my arms were so tired from the press-ups that they’d given up. I cannot underestimate the difference Fiona has made to my underlying core strength, and how it has helped the rest of my training. Very sadly we are nearing the end of the strength and conditioning project we have been doing together – but more of that later.
I mentioned briefly in my last post that the whole family had gone to Parkrun just before setting off for half term, with PBs all round. I’ve actually only ever done 4 Parkruns and they show an interesting story…..
The first two, in 2016, were before and after our first ever holiday to La Santa, where we ran every day, and within a month I’d taken more than a minute and a half off my time. By 2018 (again this run was just after a return from La Santa) I ran faster than I had ever done before – we had also been in GTC for a couple of years by then which was certainly showing dividends. I had never managed to top that time though, but then after a winter of strength and conditioning, increased all round training, but interestingly not a great deal of running due to my achilles injury, I ran a time I never thought was achievable (for me obviously – most runners I know go considerably faster than this!). It will be interesting to see what happens in the months to come.
On the cycling front I can see my progress by tracking all my activities on Strava (see Training Apps). I don’t manage outside as much as I’d like still due to the weather and number of daylight hours. However, when I do, I have a couple of favourite routes that I follow and it’s really useful to chart your progress on the results of various segments that are getting quicker. I still have huge anxieties about the length of the cycle leg in the Ironman, but hopefully I’m going in the right direction.
And finally swimming. This is slightly more difficult to assess as most of my swim sessions, be they in a club group setting or on my own, are a mixture of drills and sets, rather than a long, continuous swim that I can time, and hence charting improvement is a little more tricky. However, I do think my technique is improving, and my impression is that I am faster than I was. Also, I think my swimming endurance is also improving, but the true test of this will be when race season starts (it’s not long now).