Monthly Archives: May 2016

Beginning to Tri – So the journey finally begins!

Coming back from injury

It’s finally here! I have had the nod to get back on a bike and put my trainers on but I do it with trepidation!  I’m still not feeling fully healed but I know that I need to get started.   I still have pain in my calf during and after activity but it’s nowhere near what I have had previously though.  I think the main issue now is in my head!  It ended up being 10 weeks without running and riding and the return to it hasn’t been what I thought or expected!

My head is causing me problems in 2 ways:

  1. I don’t feel 100% injury free so doubt myself.  Since starting back I have noticed my fitness on the treadmill and bike are nowhere near what it was.  I do expect this but my head still gets disappointed when performances are slower and shorter.  I know I need to get real and expect only small gains at first.
  2. On the same lines as above, I’m also still scared to try my legs out in on the road just encase I have a relapse and need to be called to be collected or walk home. I’m more scared of having to deal with the frustration of pulling up than realising I’ve gone too hard too fast.  I’m not sure how to overcome this but i guess time will tell.

When you hear of the top athletes coming back from injury I don’t know how they can start and expect slower paces and performances.  As with a great quote from a good film “My minds writing cheques my body can’t cash!” I’m currently working on no credit and desperately need to build an overdraft!

Silver lining to dark clouds

So it’s been 10 tough weeks of no running but this has actually help in the long run I think!  As I’m embracing the new challenge of Tri, I always though the swim would be my weakest part, followed by the Bike and then the run being the slightly better one of the 3!  I have asked so many triathletes on their mindset – Train harder on your weaknesses to reduce the difference or train your strengths to smash them.  Lots of different opinions but my feeling is to work harder on your weaknesses but to be fair after 10 weeks out I have 3 of them!!

So having 10 weeks where I could only swim has helped to build on one of them.  I have made full use of tips from friends, websites and a coach’s I know and built speed and strength drills into my training.  I have also used all manor of training aids to help improve my strength and speed in the pool, I hope this will pay off!

The real proof in this training has been in the 2 sea swims I have done in the past 2 weeks.  Swim 1 was in poor conditions with Exeter Tri Club.  It was a real drop into the unknown.  I have done very few sea swims without a surfboard and never with a group of swimmers so I was interested to see how I fared.  I have no concept of how fast I am and if I could hold my own as this i a truly new experience.  I was really pleased with how I did.  I need to work on sighting and swimming in a straight line but I was able to keep up with the more experienced, faster group.  The conditions were not the best and I was very happy for my Zone3 Parka when I got out!

Swim 2 was a different experience altogether!  On a family day trip to Exmouth beach I decided to get in some sea swim training.  Keeping myself safe I used the Lomo Tow Float and swam parallel to the beach just out of the shallows.  Once again the conditions were tough.  With an onshore wind and a swell I really had to learn to time my breathing on the crest of the waves.  I think this is a work in progress as I spent a fair bit of time swallowing sea water!  The conditions didn’t change but the swim got tougher on the turn around.  I now know why people avoid Exmouth for sea swim training!  The tide was on the way out so I felt like I was in an endless pool!  I have done a fair bit of swimming in white water when i kayaked but this was tough!  I found the return leg really hard, both with breathing, sighting and most of all effort!  Positives in negative though, it was great strength training!

So my first test event is looming quickly ad I’m still not out on the road! So I have a few targets for this week:

  • Get 2 runs outside this week (Not worried how far or fast but they need to be not on the DREADMILL!!)
  • Get a road ride in to see how I fair
  • Keep the swimming up and get a third sea swim in!

I know that the Dart Duo is only a 500m swim and 5km run but I don’t feel anywhere near that at the moment.  My brain needs to be convinced that I’m ready to get back to full training and then I feel I can start to prepare.

I have a week of normality before heading off for a week’s holiday by the Conish coast.  I’m not sure how much I will get to train but I will approach the conversation with my wife later this week!  Hopefully this is not my last blog!

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Product Review – Zone3 Parka

With the British weather like it is and me venturing into Open Water training i was pleased when the guys at Zone3 sent me a parka to test at the same time as the Aspire Wetsuit (Review to follow soon).  There are several companies now selling post swim all weather parka’s to keep you warm but the price point of this one is lower than some other leading brands. (Currently £70)

When it arrived i was impressed with the quality and design.  The length and size was perfect for me (I have a large) and i liked the Black/grey colour split with the red stripe on the hood.

Looks are important but their comfort, durability and warmth is more important!  The wind and water resistant outer has served me well on several windswept trips to my local beach for sea swims and the cozyzone polar fleece is warm and doesn’t stay wet.

The 2 pockets on the inside are perfect for storing hat and goggles (Lower one) and the zipped upper is great for your phone, keys and wallet.  It even has a hole for your headphones to go through.

Parka 2

The open hem on the sleeves allow you to pull your arms in to get changed and i have found it easy to use as a changing tent rather than trying to hide within a towel!

I have to say that i have been using my parka more and more and find it the first thing i grab if heading to the beach, or race as it’s great pre and post event.  My biggest issue now is wearing it as since my wife has found how warm it is she is very reluctant to give it up when i get out of the water or finish a race!

If you are looking at getting a pre/post race jacket i would strongly consider the Zone3 Parka as it’s good value, good quality and a stylish bit of kit.  Just be warned that you may lose it quickly to a loved one, or number 1 supporter!

Product Review – Pearl Izumi Pursuit Triathlon Singlet and Shorts

I have come to terms with the fact that a tri suit is not going to fit so started to look into 2 pieces!  At 168cm with a inside leg of 26cm! and a chest of 106cm my short/stocky rugby player build is hard to fit into the normal Triathlete shape.

The guys at PI UK took my measurements and sent me a 2 piece for me to test on my request which i have been training in for the past 6 weeks.  They sent me the PI Elite Pursuit Singlet and the PI Elite Pursuit Shorts.

First impressions was how smart it looks.  The black/grey combination looks smart and the pockets are of a good shape and size.  I tried it on and the fit is good but the proof would always been in the testing!

For the first 3 weeks of the test i was injured and reduced to pool only training.  I decided to see how it felt in the pool ad used it at least 2 times a week in the pool (Mainly just Shorts).  I have swam in the top a few times without a wetsuit and the top is close fitting and you do not notice it at all, the same can be said for the shorts.  They felt the same as my normal jammers and even with breaststroke you hardly notice the pad.

I have also noticed how quick it dries, i have done some swim to bike brick sessions and noticed that they dry very quickly and there is no soggy nappy feeling.  The pad is substantial enough for longer rides and caused me no chaffing.  The leg grippers are good and stop the shorts moving and a substantial waist tie does the same at the other end.  The Top is long enough not to ride up at the back and the pockets work well.  The 3/4 zip is good and helps with cooling both on the bike and the run.

I have done several runs in this kit and love it.  I have done runs off the bike in these as well as stand alone sessions.  The pad is cut well and i never notice it on my sessions and as with cycling the fit is good and hardly moves.

I have been impressed by the envelope pockets on the top and shorts as they are easy to get into and a good size.  The additional mesh pockets on the shorts are great also for storing a phone or gels and stuffing on the move and i tend to use these the most.

I have worn both the top and bottoms under my wetsuit on several occasions and find they sit well.  There doesn’t seem to be an issue with rolling or gathering. and the chest zip is small enough not to dig in under my suit.

PI Pursuit Shorts

I have been really impressed with both the top and shorts.  The PI prints have not pealed even though they have been through many washes and several sauna sessions.  I love the colours and they look really smart.  I’m yet to race in them but really can’t wait to!  If you prefer 2 pieces or like me, are not in proportion i would have a look at these!

Guest review from @itsbeef – Pearl Izumi Thermal Bib Tights

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Bib Tights

First impressions upon opening the item were that the bib tights were “substantial” in that they felt as if they would be warm and protective. The quality of the material felt extremely good and after being a regular user of “entry” level kit such as Wiggles own brand DHB for many years these felt quality and the detailing looked great.

Unlike some brands who insist on putting zips on the front of their bib tights PI have gone for the simple up and over bibs and it works perfectly well. The leg zips with its clever little hideaway zip is a nice touch and adds a little bit of class to the item.

RIDE 1

I rode them this morning on a chilly 30km commute and the thermal qualities compared favourably to my somewhat ageing pair of Gore Winter Bib Tights and if anything slightly outperformed them in regulating my leg temperature.

As for the chamois/padding I was initially surprised at the size of it as it seemed to overshadow my Gore and DHB, however I cannot fault the level of comfort during the ride.

On the negative side I would always imagine that Thermal Bib Tights would be predominantly worn from late autumn through unto the spring and more often than not in either darkness or poor light. With this in mind I was surprised at how little in the way of reflective qualities the tights have on them which in the day of road safety could be something for PI to address.

RIDE 2

A very different ride wearing the Thermal Bib Tights in that the chilly weather on Ride1 was replaced but a mild but drizzly 30km into a fairly strong headwind but despite being classed as “thermal” these tights actually repelled the rain very well and maintained a very comfortable temperature. With the temperature being considerably higher than Ride1 I was fully expecting to have a “sodden nappy” of a chamois at the end of the ride but it was literally “as dry as a bone” which was a huge bonus.

 

So after a few weeks of wearing the Elite Thermal Tights I can highly recommend both the comfort and quality to the point that more Pearl Izumi products will be appearing in my cycling wardrobe.

PRO’s

  • Great chamois quality
  • Water resilience is very good
  • Good thermal qualities
  • A real feel of quality in the material
  • Generous sizing

CON’s

  • Lacks any real “reflective” markings for night riding

Lomo Swim Tow Float Review

As a newbie to Open Water swimming i was keen to keep myself safe as i know i will have to do some of my swims on my own.  After spending some time out in Spain and seeing lots of OW swimmers using tow floats to store their kit and keep them safe i decided it would be a good thing to look into.

The guys at Lomo Wetsuits offered me a tow float to test and since it’s arrival i have used it in the pool (To check i liked it (yes i did look silly!)) and on a few sea swims and a river swim.

When the Tow Float first arrived i was impressed with the quality and size.  The material looks very heavy duty and the valves look good quality.  This particular float works as a dry bag for your kit too.  It is big enough to put key’s, Phone (I suggest putting your phone in a smaller dry bag for extra security) and Flip flops in.  Once you have rolled the top over you can then use the valves to inflate the 2 separate chambers to give it more buoyancy.  It has 2 handles running along its side to allow for easy carrying as well as holding on to in the water if you need to pause.

Swimming-Tow-Float-Dry-Bag-s

As i said i tried it first in my local outdoor pool, mainly to check that i liked it and it wouldn’t annoy me.  I was concerned i may kick it or feel the drag but i have to say you vary rarely kick it and with the adjust ability both in waist size and length of tether you can make this very personal.  I didn’t notice the drag but was interested on how it would fair in a swell or high winds.

Well i had perfect conditions to test it on my first open water swim of the year.  On a very cold, windy bank holiday Monday i had a chance to test it out on a 600m sea swim with a group of other Triathletes.  On the swim i never noticed it getting pulled or pushed about by the swell or wind and loved it at the turn around as i didn’t have to tread water whilst waiting for the rest of the group.  The yellow is great for visibility.  My wife says she can see me on my swims regardless on how far i travel away from here and i’m sure boats and other water users will be able to too.

I have tried it on several occasions now and find the dry bag to stay dry, the valves stay inflated and i continue to not notice pulling it along.  I love the peace of mind that i have it with me when i’m swimming as being new to OW swimming it allows me to take a breather when i get a mouthful of water when trying sighting drills!

At a price point of £19.99 this is cheaper than many of the other dry bag style tow floats on the market but the quality is great.  The dry bag has always been dry (Must make sure you roll the top enough though) and the ability to inflate separate chambers to stop the contents moving but also for safety is great.

If you swim on your own or lead groups or even do lots of open water swimming and want the safety then i think this is a great investment.  £19.99 investment for that 1 time you get cramp or run into difficulties whilst out training is nothing if can save you life too.

 

Beginning To Tri, Episode 6 – Uphill Struggle

So it happened, I finally got the mod from my physio, Jennie from Quay Kinetics to start running and cycling.  I have to still take it steady and let my back recover and listen to my body BUT I can start to train for races!

So Friday I thought i’d test my legs out and do a easy dreadmill session.  I had Jennie’s message of don’t try and come back at 100mph and just test it out and work out what you can get away with so that I did.  I set myself a 2km challenge, no time pressure just a 2km run without any injury but I was pleased that I was able to turn my legs over at 11kmph with no pain.  I still have a way to go but it’s a start!

As well as my first run in weeks I was also doing another first… A tri sea swim!  My friends are members of Exeter Triathlon Club and they have planned their first sea swim of the season.  I got invited along and was really keen to try my Zone3 wetsuit that I have on test as well as the Lomo Watersports Tow Float and Zogg Aqua Flex titanium goggles.

You would think you could guarantee the weather in May but waking up to high winds and grey skies were not what I wanted to see! But I still drove to Budleigh Salterton to meet with the Tri Club.  I was really pleased for my Zone3 Parka as it was pretty cold on the beach but I was determined to swim.  So a quick change into my wetsuit and a hobble down the stone beach (Must remember flip flops next time!)   we got in!

With a total of 14 swimmers we set off parallel to the beach, we split into 2 different speed groups and headed along the coast.  I quickly realised I need to work on my sighting! if you tracked my route it would have looked like a saw blade! I kept up and didn’t swallow much sea water! I tried to breathe and sight as much as possible between the swell and soon got into the hang of it.  It was cold, my toes could feel it but it was OK.  We did about 300m  before turning around and swam back. 600m for my first sea swim, i was pretty chuffed to keep up with the faster group too.

Getting out was interesting and getting out of my wetsuit with cold fingers was tough (Must practice T1!).  I had survived my first open water swim though and actually loved it!  Getting my parka back on and having some hot SiS GO Electrolyte Raspberry sorted me out.

So now that i’m back to normal training i hope to make bigger gains in all aspects.  I need to get back out on the bike as well as build my miles and speed back up on my runs.  I have lots of test kit piling up to test now that i’m getting back to normality which also will mean more reviews to write!  So first Aquathon in July, I want to maybe get another race in before too but i need to be sensible and build slowly!