Saturday, 27 September 2008


I haven't really done many training sessions this week, but I have been pretty active. I have ridden to work and home every day, so that gives me 6 hours on the bike (120 miles). I trained in the gym on Monday putting in a steady free weights session (all upper body parts). On Wednesday I decided that the 1st XV needed a tough running fitness session. Out on the field I set up the Multi Stage Shuttle Run Test (Bleep Test). This is a running test where you run 20m, turn, run 20m, turn, and keep repeating. Roughly every 12 repetitions the pace increases. Level 1 is very, very slow, and level 21 is at an impossible speed. Apparently the higher levels are achievable by elite athlete's, however I have my doubts. At level 21 it is hard enough to cover the distance, let alone turn and accelerate back up to top speed. The progressive nature of the test and the turning and accelerating makes this a tough test. It gives a good indication of aerobic fitness, and gives a bench mark on which to assess fitness gains after a period of training. When I was in my early 20's (seems like years ago) and still playing a high level of football, I have 'maxed' out at level 13.8. I have seen very fast 800m runners get to level 15. Wanting to increase the motivation amongst the players I decided to take part in the test. I felt very comfortable through level 7, 8 and 9, and ok through 10, it is then that lactic acid flow resembles a river in spate, flooding every working muscle. I dug in, said good bye to a couple more players, and resisted the urge to stop. I went through level 11 with 2 very fit back row forwards, one of them a GB Judo player in with a chance of Olympic Representation in 2012. All three of us went past level 12 and we managed a couple more repetitions before succumbing to the pace. I then announced to the team that we would all repeat the test aiming to get to within 2 levels of our previous attempt. This was going to put me quite deep in the hurt box. Repeating the test was mentally tough, but this is what achieving in sport is all about. We pushed through level 10 and fought off the urge to stop until we could fight no more. Test 2, level 11. I was really pleased with my performance, my overall fitness is high, and my running fitness pretty solid, plus more importantly whilst I didn't win I wasn't beaten by any of them!!!!

On Friday the staff played 6 a'side football against the 6th form. In my footballing days, short sharp sprints, and explosive bursts of pace used to be second nature to me, I could do more midfield running than anybody I ever played with. However years of triathlon and cycling have changed my fitness dynamics, I'm now efficient at a steady pace for hours, but 20 minutes of high intensity football leaves me out of breath and looking like a couch potato!!! Despite making it incredibly hard for ourselves we won 4 -0, and after a string of horrible shots on goal, I did eventually get one in. 2 wins from 2, top of the league.

It's been a tough week just "starting and finishing each day", thanks to Evie. Once again she has had both me and Sarah up on more than one occasion each night. It's really not Evie's fault, she is just hungry, and cutting some more teeth! Each day ends for her just after 6pm, she is usually beside herself, and after a quick bath and a bottle of milk she very quickly falls asleep. The trouble is she is going through a growth spurt, and needs more food, but it is impossible to top her up with solid food before bed time. The worst night included a 2.30am bottle of milk, a 4.30am shot of medicine, a cuddle and a walk around the lounge, and a 6am bottle of milk!!!! Disrupted nights sleep are not great. This week I have woken up each morning at 6.30am tired. The day I had planned to run into work coincided with the worst night of disruption. A 6am wake up, running by 6.20am had as much appeal as eating the white of a boiled egg (never, ever, ever liked that part of the egg, "yuk") so I canned that idea, swapping it for a leisurely cycle in. The other end of the day has been just as tough. I had planned to run my interval session on Monday night, and complete a weights session on Wednesday, I achieved neither. Come 7.30pm when the girls are in bed, I've sorted some food out, and started to relax, waiting for Sarah to finish work I am beat and ready to hit the sack. This week I've been awful in the evenings, falling asleep during our midweek film, and falling asleep on the sofa on Friday, retiring to bed early. So what can I do?

1) Accept the disrupted sleep patterns, and push on with training sessions and planned activities.

2) Search out a natural stimulant to take at 7.30pm each night.

3) Resist the urge to sit down and crash out in the early evening.

4) Try to condition my body to need only 6 hours of sleep, thus creating more time in the evening.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I do know that it's the time of year when the darkness is setting in. Dark morning's and dark evening's, its tough to resist the urge to SLEEP or slip into a state of LETHARGY. I quite like the idea of 4), is it actually possible to do that? Let's see how this week goes.

Ellie is coming out with some fabulous quotes, and saying some funny stuff at the moment, yesterday whilst playing in the garden she said;

"Shall I show you how to be a really fast horsey"

She's great. I love my girls, Evie has learnt how to kiss. So this week she's been walking around kissing everybody and everything, beautiful, all she needs to do now is SLEEP!!!!

Sleep tight

Friday, 19 September 2008


What a week, I'm shattered! 7 day's have gone by in a flash, but it's been a flash with substance! Let me summarise some of the moments; A particularly busy week at work. Apart from my usual teaching duties, I have picked up the piece's on Monday, following a nasty Rugby injury last Saturday, where one of our U15 players suffered a break to his Ulna and Radius...Ouch!!!! On Tuesday I refereed an U14 match where within 10 minutes we were 12 - 0 up, we then crumbled, playing like softies, losing focus, getting caught out of position, dropping our head's and generally showing very little personal commitment or commitment to the team. Final score Read (my team) 17 - Hymers (school from Hull) 62, what a wasted opportunity, we under-performed, and let ourselves down. Post match I was very angry and ready to put the boy's through a tough interval session, however I quickly calmed down and decided strong words would suffice. Had a great fitness and technical session with the 1st XV on Wednesday. Spent what seemed like hour's trying to finalise Saturday's 4 fixtures vs Pocklington School, then spent even longer liaising with our coaches as we tried to get enough players for the fixture. Why the problem? A CCF (Combined Cadet Force, 'Playing Soldiers') Weekend where boy's who should have been playing Rugby decided they wanted to take part, and were allowed by staff who should know better. An U13 boy's parent who organised a Birthday Party (party sounded great, wake boarding, water-skiing and banana boat riding) which then took 7 key players from the U13 team, and various other excuses from boy's and parents who do not understand what the word 'commitment' mean's. Chuck in a couple of lunch time meetings with various colleagues, just for fun..NOT.

Wrestling with 7 nights of boken sleep, that Evie (our 1 year old) daughter is subjecting us to, 12.30 am, 4.30am, 4.55am, 5.50am etc, etc must be going through a growth spurt, downing 200ml of milk then falling back to sleep, cheers!!! Planning and executing Ellie's 4th Birthday, that was a great morning. As well as the obligatory 'Doll' that comes along on every Birthday we also brought her a gold fish tank and a gold fish. Ellie was really excited. Sarah asked Ellie what she would call it? Ellie responed very matter of factly "Helen" We did chuckle, but what an original name!! Birthday's are great fun, but usually last a day, for Ellie it's been a brithday week really. A party with her friends at a Play Center on Wednesday, her actual Birthday on Thursday, then more celebrations with family on Saturday and Sunday.

Trying to squeeze in some quality time with Sarah in the evening's after she finishes work. Wednesday we decided to watch our weekly DVD (from Lovefilms, you create a DVD list, they send you one, you watch it and send it back, then get another one) 'The Golden Compass' came this week. Was a bit slow for me, fell asleep on the sofa after an hour, then retired to bed.

The usual 'race' to get home, collect the girl's from Nursery or take over from Sarah, sort out tea, and early evening bath and bed time duties, whilst Sarah works.

It was great to see my brother Max and his wife Rachael on Saturday, who as usual spoilt Ellie and Evie with presents and fun play time. Well done Max a solid 19.35 for the Liverpool Corporate 5km on Sunday. Also great to spend the weekend with my Mum and Dad , who also spoilt Ellie and Evie with presents, but more importantly with their time and attention. That takes me nicely to the title of this post, 59.08, my time for the 25 mile tt I rode today. Last week I said I'd like to be around the hour mark, so to go nearly a minute under I was really pleased. It was a 'lumpy' course on the A19 from 'Crathorne' south to 'Knayton' and then back. I was very happy the way I performed given that I have done just this time trial and the Club 10 mile Championships in early August, hardly an extensive time trial season. Time trialling is definitely a cycling discipline that requires regular races to maintain the top end power, learn how to race certain courses and to educate the body how to respond to above threshold heart rates (today I averaged 175bpm, crossing the finishing line at 182bpm) I am feeling good that without any specific preparation I can jump on the bike and knock out a sub 60 min 25 tt. I am also now entering the autumn and winter knowing I'm in good cycling shape, with some firm plans to get more out of my winter cycling as I begin my preparation for Lanzarote IM. Dad also raced. 1.10.43 great stuff, not his quickest '25' of the season but a solid ride, and only 3 weeks after his 12 hour tt achievement (207 miles), he inevitably still has this ride in his legs. It is great competing with my Dad, it makes me very proud that I can line up on the same start line as him, I know plenty more occasions will arise next year (he's more fired up than me to train through the winter, and race next season)

I have also managed to fit in some training. Monday I rode to work 1/2 hour, Weights session at work, rode home 1/2 hour, and at 7.45pm completed my 3/4 mile interval session, clocking 6.12 min/mile, 6.22, 6.12 and 6.25. Tuesday 1 hour bike (to and from work) ref Rugby match. Wednesday run to work 63mins, afternoon weights and sprint session with 1st XV, (decided not to run home) Thursday 1 hour bike in the afternoon. Friday Bike to work 1 hour. Saturday REST DAY. Sunday 25 mile time trial. Total: 9 hours a pretty solid training week.

I have yet to eat any cakes at the 3.40 break at work, so I'm pleased with my will power, however I have gone a bit crazy at home. BISCUITS, they do my head in, and I've had no will power this week when faced with an open packet. I would be quite happy not to have any in the house, but Sarah enjoys the occasional one (some how she can have one or two then not touch the packet for day's if not week's, HOW????) I am disappointed that during the witching hours of early evening I've destroyed a good packet of Malted Milk Cow Biscuits, a few Chocolate Penguin Bars plus enough toast, butter and honey to feed a small army. When I'm hungry in the evening next week, I'll be trying to eat fruit and yogurt or nuts, seeds and yogurt. However, I have to ask the question, am I really hungry, or is it just a habit at that particular time in the day? In the past I have found that drinking a large glass of water works, so that might be the answer.

So a really busy week comes to a close. Life is there to be lived, and it's been a good one. I'll leave you with a quote from Ellie. She put a hole in her new tights after falling over, I said that "Mummy could fix them", she said "or Daddy", so I said "or Grandma" (My Mum is a genius with a needle and thread) her response "Grandma doesn't know how to do it, she's just an old lady"
Oh, to be 4 years old again!!!!!

Saturday, 13 September 2008


England 4, Croatia 1!!!! Theo Walcott scores his first hatrick for England, fantastic stuff. Walcott is clearly a very talented footballer, however correct me if I am wrong but as a winger/ striker/ attacking midfield player is it not his role to be penetrating defences and scoring goals?? I guess it's the madness that we call the British media, but come on the young lad has simply done what he is on the pitch to do. Of course the media wagon will gain momentum, investigating his private life and making all sorts of comparisons, Gary Lineker scored 6 hatricks for England, so young Walcott you've a long way to go. There were more Walcott media pages post the Croatia game than for all our successful Para-Olympians, they are the real sporting hero's this week.

Unfortunately I haven't managed to watch as much of the Para-Olympics as I'd have liked but what I have seen is awesome. Ultimately these guy's are doing exactly the same as the athlete's a few weeks ago, devoting hours of their live's in the pursuit of sporting excellence, training, competing and living the life of a top level sports performer. I took a great deal of inspiration from the athletes a few weeks ago, but there is even more inspiration to be taken from the athletes achievements at the Para-Olympics, absolutely fantastic!!!!

Big new's this week was that Lance Armstrong will come out of retirement to compete in the 'Tour de France 2009' I am a huge, huge fan of Armstrong, and can't wait to see if he will be competitive on a bike again. One things for sure he's got some suffering to go through on his bike in the coming months!! If anyone can endure suffering then I guess it's Lance!!

'Augcember' was a new month that Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse invented as they presented to the Dragon's in the Dragon's Den on their new comedy show. I really enjoyed Harry Enfield in the late 80's early 90's as he played various character's on 'Friday Night Live' and 'Harry Enfield and Chums', Stavross the kebab owner and Loadsamoney, however they both looked very dated on Friday night. It feels a little like 'Augcember' at the moment. My race season is all but over, a 25 mile tt next Sunday, possibly a 10 mile tt a week later and posssibly a Relay Triathlon in early October. I am looking forward to these races but all are quite low key. Given that I haven't done much in the way of time trialling this season it will be less about absolute time trialling performance and more about giving me an idea of where I am as I enter the winter. For some athletes this time of year allows for a month of rest and recuperation. I feel quite refreshed, and given that I haven't done that much since Ironman Switzerland I don't really need a rest. IM Lanzarote seems a long, long way off, and it doesn't quite feel like it's time to start building the base miles. Where does that leave me? During the next few weeks of 'Augcember' I am trying to establish some training routines that I will stick with throughout the winter.

One of those routines aims to inject some quality into my running. On monday evening I did my first run interval session (for a long, long time). Just out of my village there is a very quiet, dead end road measuring 3/4 mile, on a very steady incline. I ran each interval hard, covering the first downhill interval at 6.09min/mile pace, up at 6.28 pace, down at 6.16, and up at 6.38 min/mile pace, all on 2 minute recoveries. I was pleased with this session and aim to do something similar each week.

My second aim of the week was to run to work and run home again. Wednesday morning was bright and warm and I covered the 8 miles in 64 minutes 30 seconds. It is a mixed terrain route 3 miles of road, 3.5 miles of grassy river bank, and 1.5 miles of road to finish, so it's an 8 miler with a little variety. After a pretty active day at work, a game a badminton, and a couple of rugby training sesisons I set off for home. I arrived 64 minutes later, feeling good. I was pleased to have done this session, and aim to complete it weekly throughout the winter. I think the key to completing this session is to spring out of bed, change and go, leaving no time to change my mind or investigate the weather. At the other end of the day I just need to avoid the temptation to seek a lift home.

In addition to my run's I have cycled into work on 3 days. Overall it's been a very steady training week, but I have hit both of my run aims. During the month of 'Augcember' I'm not going to be beating myself up if I don't manage a long ride, or I decide to take an additional rest day. I will be looking to build a weekly training platform, which includes much more running to complement the cycling volume that will accumulate quite naturally.

Next Sunday's I will race a 25 mile time trial. It has been a long time since I've raced in a '25' and I'm looking forward to it. My Dad will also be racing, so that will be great. I am confident that I can push myself for 25 miles and will hope to see a heart rate into the high 170's, what I am a little unsure of is how fast I will go. I'd hope to be around the 60 minute mark. If the weather is kind and my legs deliver I think I can dip under the hour, however I am being realistic. One things certain when the starter say's '5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO' it will be game on and 60 minutes deep inside the hurt box, bring it on!!! I will let you know how I get on next week.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Routinely Raining

Well I can hardly believe what has just happened this week. The first week of term in a new year brings renewed enthusiasm and excitment towards the schools sports teams, this term it's Rubgy. We managed a couple of training sessions and the boys from the U13's, U15's and 1st XV were looking forward to Saturday's fixture against Hymers College (from Hull) To cut what could be a long story short I had a call from the Hymers coach cancelling all 3 matches because of water logged pitches!!! Usually on the first weekend of September we are worried that the pitches will be too hard, its usually warm, and sunny and as sports teachers the conversation turns to the possibility of extending the cricket season for 4 weeks and making the most of the fine September weather!! Absolutely NO chance this year....... in the end we managed to find a section of grass between the standing water that had also formed on our pitches and had a training session, good but it's not the same when you are fired up for a match. The first weekend and disruption already to the routine.

This week has been about starting to establish my weekly training routine. Having much more time and training opportunities during the last 8 weeks of holiday and post IM Switzerland mean't I haven't had much of a routine. With 3 year old and 1 year old girl's company to enjoy, to bath and get to bed, and a musical wife who teaches saxophone, flute and clarinet 4 nights a week the usual post work, evening training opportunities are limited, training is therefore done around and during my working day.
The dictonary say's of 'routine';

'a customary or regular course of procedure' and also;
'regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure'

Training will yeild results if it is regular. Those of us who train and enjoy sport will no doubt have a close connection with the word habitual. Sport, training ,competition and raised heart rate levels are a life habit that makes me who I am.

So my weekly routine; My mode of transport is my bike, my journey to work is 10 miles, so that gives me a nice 20 miles in my legs 6 days a week if I choose it (Saturday sports fixtures accounts for my 6 day week). On a Thursday I get a 1/2 day so this will be an important bike session, my long weekly ride. This week I did 90 minutes with a couple of hard efforts in preparation for some end of season time trials. This year I want to add a run to work into my routine. I have managed consecutive days cycle in, run home, and run in, cycle home before, but this year I am looking to do a double run day with 2 x 8 mile run's, I failed to initiate this session this week but aim to give it a go this week.

At the end of the school day 3.40pm we have a 20 minute break before starting activities at 4pm (rugby training, hockey training, chess club etc, etc) Tea, Coffee and CAKES. Now throughout the summer I have not had a break at 3.40pm for scones, chocolate cake, flap jack or cheese cake so I have decided that I don't really need it. This is a routine I will be eliminating from my week in my quest to reduce my simple sugar intake. I have been successful this week, No cakes have been consumed at 3.40pm!!

Weights sessions are a regular part of my week whether they occur in my garage gym (membership available, please enquire) or at school where we have a comprehensive array of free weights. I enjoy weight training and generally lean towards upper body exercises, however given that the cylcling and running are leg powered I MUST establish a weights routine that includes leg exercises. I managed 1 introductory session this week including squats and leg curls. My 'A' Level group include 2 lad's who are both into weight training. One of them is also on the GB Judo Squad so he knows how to train and takes his sport very seriously, therefore once a week during the day I will train with them in the school gym.

In the past I have found establishing a running routine quite difficult, however this year WILL be different. In addition to my double run day, every 3 weeks I intend to replace my Thursday weekly long bike ride with a long run, building up to 3hrs. The word 'unimaginative' can be found in the definition for routine, however unimaginative routines can lead to boredom. Whether it relates to relationships, time with your children, diet or training, a lack of imagination is usually not much fun. Whilst my run routes are quite imaginative, the pace I run at is very unimaginative, stick it in 4th gear and cruise along at between 7.30 and 8.30min/mile pace. I have fallen into the Ironman training trap of making every run slow and steady whatever the training distance. So this year I'm going to spice it up. This week I intend to test out my 1 mile reps route, I have an off road hills session in my mind, some head torch night time running and the imminent purchase of a Garmin Forerunner 405 will get me really excited about running.

Sarah settled into her Saturday early evening routine of watching X Factor, given that I would rather chop my hands off than watch X Factor I have decided that this is the perfect opportunity for a weekly run or weights session. I did a 60 minute run in the rain, running across the disused airfield through ankle high puddles, loved it!

Sunday is going to be my rest day, and will allow me to esablish a routine spending time with my girl's, time which will be imaginative and fun, will it be restful? I guess not but I won't be going near a bike or putting on a pair of trainers, so my legs might find it so.

RAIN, does it have to disrupt your routine? I guess that depends on the activity you have planned, but more importantly it depends on your mind set. I am usually pretty good on the wet day's, I enjoy running in the rain, and whilst I don't relish riding in the rain 'you only get wet once'. If your activity halts every time the heavens open, or your mind becomes negative then maintaining a training routine (or living an exciting outdoor life) will be somewhat difficult living in England. One thing to remember is, skin is pretty water proof!!! However I think a Wiggle order for mudguards and some new wet weather, winter tyres is necessary.

Dodging the rain yesterday my good friend's Tom Williams and Helen 'soon to be Williams' Turton (not long now Helen) nailed the opposition at the National Long Distance Triathlon Championships. Racing to a strong PB Tom finished 5th in his age group, and it all came together for Helen, who is now the National Champion in her age group!!! Well done guys what a way to finish the season, thoroughly deserved.

With my weekly routine starting to become established, come sun or rain I will catch you next week.