Monthly Archives: July 2016

MP Hand Paddles Review

When i was sent these from the team at Aquasphere to test as part of their new Micheal Phelps range i was surprised on the size.  I have a pair of aquashere ones already which i have found a great help in developing my strength in training but i was worried about these would be too big.  But proof is in the training.

I have used these on many pool sessions now and can feel the benefits to both my speed and strength in the pool.  My first session was a speed pyramid pull session, i wanted to start with a tough session!  I was impressed with the ease of fitting and lightness of them out of the water.  I was worried that you would loose feel with such a big paddle but the added grooves/holes allows you still to get a real feel of the water as you use them.

MP Hand paddles

The straps fit nicely and are easy to get on and off.  They are quick to adjust and it is possible to use the paddles just on the finger grip to help work on technique too.  The main thing i noticed was the ‘bone’ structure makes them feel comfortable and the raised ridges on the palm places the palm in comfortable cupped position.

I have continued to use these on a regular basis and really like them.  I have given my old Aquasphere ones away now as these are the ones i will choose for a session.  For those who do not have a pair of hand paddles, i would look at getting some as they help a huge deal with speed and strength.

Happy Training.

Burgh Island Swim Report

So in my quest to become a triathlete i found out that Ashfords Law were organising a charity swim around Burgh Island.  Now i had a vague idea where it was but i had never been there.  Burgh Island is a small island off the south Devon coast just outside Bantham near Kingsbridge, south Devon.

The Swim seemed a great solution to a few of my fears.

  1. Can i swim a mile in Open Water?
  2. How long will it take me?
  3. How will it feel racing in Open Water with other people?
  4. Ho will my Zone 3 Aspire suit fare in a longer swim?

I have my first Sprint Triathlon on the 7th August so i was really keen to try swimming n a group in open water.  Finally the opportunity to raise money for 3 great charities, Parkinsons, Exeter City Football in the Community and The Surf Lifesaving Society.  Another great reason to do it was to swim in what looks like a great venue, so it  was hard to turn down so i signed up 2 weeks ago.

Preparation was not as i wanted as with my last blog and my chest cold was still hanging on so i was still not feeling 100%.  To add to this i had rushed about all day as it was the first day of the school holidays.  Finally i got the kit in the van and headed off for the hour journey to the swim.

As you come over the headland and start to be able to see Burgh Island i realised how great this swim was going to be.  Conditions were great, a few clouds but very little wind and the sea was lovely and calm.

Zone 3 suit and BI

I had heard that Ashfords Law firm put on good events and this was no different.  Huge car park, friendly staff and organised.  Within minutes i had my swim cap and race pack and was heading back to the van to get kitted up.   Cassie Patten Bejing 10km Bronze Medalist was also there and gave us all some advice and was joining us for the swim.  So with my Zone3 Aspire suit on i made my way down to the beach to get wet and ready for the swim.

As this was a more social event than a race the organisers set the more leisurely swimmers off first and then 5 minutes later the rest of us headed off.  I noticed 2 things right from the start of the swim. 1. How clear the sea was. 2. How flexible the Aspire suit is.   I was quite worried about sighting and swimming into the setting sun made this even harder and i ended up getting a little too close to the island which made the swim a little longer and harder.

The swim felt tough but as i got further into the swim the buoyancy in the legs and body of the Aspire really helped.  It’s flexibility is amazing and you hardly notice you are wearing it as you swim.  I got better at sighting and controlling my breathing.  This was a great way of learning how to swim in race conditions in Open Water.

We were heading around the island in an anti-clockwise direction to get a bit of a push from the tide on the back leg.  As you headed around the back of the island the viability was still great and sighting was easier now the sun was behind me.  I suddenly realised i had a swimmer beside me so i tried to stick on their feet but they were quicker than me but i kept with them as we rounded the island and started the home leg back to the beach.

So i started my final push to the beach, i was completely unaware of how i had done, how long it had taken but as i reached the shallows i was happy to stop my Garmin 755XT (Review to follow soon) and lay back in the sea, happy that i had done it.

Swim detail BI

A few moments later i heard a shout telling me to get moving as the finish was up the beach! so i got off my backside and jogged up the beach to the finish line.  The atmosphere at the finish was great, i was given some water before clapping in the remaining swimmers.  i had done the swim in about 38 minutes, i was a little disappointed but i’m happy to write this off due illness and lack of experience.

Heading back to the car park i threw my Zone 3 Parka on and went to enjoy a beer and a Pasty that was laid on for the swimmers by Ashfords.  I have o say the organisation and atmosphere was great.  The swim was fantastic and you even got a great goodie bag and pasty at the end.

Will i be doing it again? Of course not only was it a great swim i need to beat that time!

Zone 3 Cloak BI

 

 

When do you write the season off?

So i’m sat here on the sofa 2 days before my first Open Water race thinking my season is over before it has begun!  After a rubbish start to the year after injuring my back at Bath Half training never really started and I haven’t really started beck to running!  Training was slow to begin with but my swimming and Bike sessions got longer and i grew faster, fitter and stronger.

Then it happened!  OK i’m a teacher and i know the reality of that and what happens but i never expected to get wiped out with a summer cold 2 weeks before the end of term and just before my first Open Water swimming race and also my first Triathlon.

People joke about teachers and their long holidays but between training and a majorly hectic work schedule we get to the end of term literally on our knees, which in turn wipes your immune system and you get ill.  Visiting the many schools i do as a Primary PE Specialists i was prone to more germs than most but i have never been wiped out like this.

So first it was a sore throat but i carried on with my training, treating it with the usual Paracetamol and Ibuprofen but rather than getting better it has gone to my chest.  Continual tiredness a hacking cough and a tight chest has stopped all training for the past 2 1/2 weeks.

I sit here with 1 day of term left feeling slightly better.  I tested my lungs out last night with a 1 km pool swim and came out OK.  So to swim or not to swim in 2 days time?  The 1 mile swim i am doing is around Burgh Island, Devon for charity, I may not race it but it wont hurt to do it?  Right?

So training for this first year of Tri is not going well, with my first Sprint Triathlon on the 7th August at a local race in North Devon.  I’m definitely not going to be at my prime but i don’t want to write the season off just yet, however going into a new venture no where near prepared as i want to be does fill me with fear.

But i’m not quite ready to throw the towel in just yet, i guess i need to except i’m not at my best but use it as a learning experience ready for a full season next year!

Garmin VivoActive HR Review

So through the @FitnessRewards ½ price Garmin Scheme I upgraded from my much loved VivoSmartHR to the new VivoActiveHR.  The unit has not been available that long in the UK and I had been waiting for some time to be able to buy one with desperate hopes that it would not disappoint me.

As always, the time from order to delivery was swift and I was very excited to unwrap my new toy.  I love the new box designs from Garmin with the clear window luring you into getting the new bit of kit out of the box and onto your wrist.  This had a negative fact for me as I didn’t sync my VivoSmartHR fully before setting the new one up which meant I lost 8000 steps but it was a small price to pay to get the new watch on my wrist.

The new VivoActiveHR does all the smart things that the VivoSmartHR does but with the added bonus of a much larger screen and GPS to make it a great basic training watch.  Personally I feel this may become the watch of choice as a multi-sport watch over the forerunners as the price point (£209) puts it in the run watch market.  You can track daily steps and activity, activity minutes, receive Smart notifications from your phone and control your music to mention just a few.

I noticed the colour screen was clear and crisp straight away and I know some like the square design of the old version but I love the sleeker wrap round design much nicer and more of a daily watch than a training watch.

I have worn the watch every day and night since its purchase and find it very comfortable and easy to use.  I found the syncing with my iphone very easy and navigating through the menus child’s play.  I am a big Garmin fan and I know some prefer other platforms for their feedback but I find the Garmin Connect app simple, smart and versatile.

I guess the real test came with training, as I have moved into triathlon I wanted to get a watch that could record all 3 training disciplines so I was keen to try all three.  The display is nice and big and easy to see both on day and night runs and using a rubber bike mount I could see the read out with ease when on the bike.  It has settings to track every activity you can think of and also you can download more in the IQ app.

I find that the GPS connects super quick and I no longer have to do the ‘standing for a signal’ dance pre runs as I have with Garmin’s of the past.  Garmin have really worked on this over the models.  The same can be said for the optical HR.  I haven’t done a direct comparison with a HR Strap but I’m happy that the range is very close to that of my strapped GPS.  (Optical HR does not work on swim mode)

I was more intrigued to see how it would fair with the swim.  The VivoActiveHR is not set up to log Open water swimming but can record pool swims, however I have now downloaded an app from Garmin IQ Store which supports the watch for this but at point of writing this I have not tested it out.  So the pool length can be set for different pools which is ideal as I train in both a 25m and 20m pool.  I was really impressed with accuracy and feedback you get on swim sessions and this has really helped me to improve.

The IQ app is great, simple to use and gives you lots of options to personalise your watch.  As Garmin develop more watch’s the watch faces and apps become even more varied, all that I have found so far were free too.

I have found the battery live to be good.  I tend to stick it on charge every 5 days while I sleep as I have become less transfixed by my sleep patter as of late.

So was it worth the wait? I absolutely love it!  It is simple to use ideal for day to day use and is great to indoor swims, runs (Indoor and out) and Rides.  If you are looking for a stylish day to day watch that can track steps and intensity as well as then switch into training more without the bulk of a training watch I would look no further.