Tag Archives: sports

Thinking about 2013

While I was out walking with my partner this morning, I started talking with her about lifestyle issues, including my long-term goals. My long-term goal is to run a 100 miler. But I am realistic and know it’s going to take 2-3 years of solid and sensible preparation to get to a point where I could confidently toe the start line of a 100 miler and be as certain as possible that I’ve adequately prepared for the event (there’s no guarantees with ultra marathons).

So that’s my goal: to run a 100 miler sometime between mid-2014 and late-2015. In the mean time, I have a lot of preparation to complete. And the first step is to get through the next 12 months unscathed and with sufficient patience to build my mileage.

Tonight I’ve worked through the trail running, Audax and adventure racing calendars for 2013 and have identified a cool range of events that I think I’d like to complete during 2013. I have selected the races based on the realistic expectation that I’ll be starting my running training again by January and able to run 5km by March. I have also invited my sister to be my team mate for the adventure races, which are almost all 2-person affairs. My sister and I make a good adventure racing team because neither of us take things too seriously.

So here’s my shortlist of events for 2013:

January

  • 1st – 11 out of Eleven 100km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 12th – Moonlight Wander 200km Audax Australia night road cycle

February

  • 3rd – Brisk Beaudesert 100km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 8th – City Raid night scavenger hunt
  • 16th – Kayak Kapers 4 hour kayakgaine

March

  • 9th – Kathmandu Adventure Race (2-4km kayak, 15-25km MTB, 5-10km trail run)
  • 24th – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)

April

  • 13th – 1 Lump of Two 200km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 27th – Rogue 24 hour Adventuregaine

May

  • 18th – Bicentennial Century 100km Audax Australia MTB
  • 19th – Adventure Race Australia (< 35km MTB, <15km trail run)

June

  • 1st – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)
  • 15th – Berry Good 200km Audax Australia road cycle

July

  • 6th – Gatton Gamble 300km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 14th – Tre-X Off-Road Duathlon (8km trail run, 30km MTB, 4km trail run)
  • 21st – Pomona King of the Mountain trail run

August

  • 11th – Logan’s Run 70km MTB marathon
  • 24th – iAdventure 8 hour adventure race (8-11km kayak, 25-33km MTB, 12-16km trail run)

September

  • 14th – Stampede 5km mud run
  • 29th – Mangrove to Mountains 150km Audax Australia road cycle

October

  • 5th – Downs and Back 600km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 19th – Scenic Rim 1,000km Audax Australia road cycle

November

  • 3rd – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)
  • 15th – 18 hour Dark Side Adventure Race or 12 hour Dawn Attack Adventure Race

So every walk and geocaching session now has a purpose and that makes me feel a lot better. I am goal oriented and have tried to be more process oriented but it’s just not me. Acknowledging this allows me to set goals and work towards them.

I think each event will be achievable and will fit nicely within the training schedule I want to follow for my trail running because I only want to run 3-4 days a week in 2013 while cycle commuting and playing around on my MTB. There are no trail runs on the calendar because we don’t have shorter trail runs in Queensland: we largely have 25 – 100km events. So, to take pressure off, I am going to focus on multisport and adventure race events, which I totally love.

Total: 3.5km walk

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2,000km cycled this year!

Image courtesy of Bigjom / Freedigitalphotos.net

There was a time when I didn’t think I’d even pass the 1,000km mark in my cycling mileage this year but this morning I passed the 2,000km mark.

My cycling has definitely evolved this year. Back in January I was cycling to train for triathlons. I was focused on the Kingscliff Olympic distance triathlon with its 40km cycle leg. Through February and March I started focusing more on speed and increasing my distance so that I could complete the 40km cycle leg at the Byron Bay Olympic distance triathlon in May. While I did get faster and fitter on the bike, it was hard work.

As the weather cooled into April and May I switched my attention to my mountain bike as I trained for the Adventure Race Australia. I had a few fun times and gained a lot of new off-road skills. At first, mountain biking was a bit scary because gravel is more slippery than the road but I got the hang of it by the time Adventure Race Australia came around. Then I kept mountain biking in the lead up to the Tre-X Off-Road Duathlon in July.

In July I made the switch from triathlon / duathlon to trail running. I did a few long rides as endurance training for trail running but almost immediately switched all my training to running. I had a few running successes with the 50km Flinders Tour trail run in July and the Perth City to Surf Marathon in August before injuring myself in early September.

Since September I’ve been clocking up the miles on my bikes. I’ve also done my first ever bicycle mechanical maintenance by replacing the chain and cassette on my road bike. I recently joined Audax Australia, a long distance cycling club with which I hope to complete some endurance cycling events. I have also started cycle commuting again after a few years absence.

I now am falling back in love with cycling in the same way I fell back in love with running in July. It’s becoming a way of life again like it used to be. A happy way of life.

Ironically, it was completing the 50km trail run and marathon in July and August that gave me the confidence to teach myself basic bicycle maintenance. And it’s the ability to maintain and repair my bicycle that is giving me the confidence to tackle long rides and to fully embrace cycling as a form of transport.

It’s going to take me a while to get back to running long mileage again. Hopefully that gives me time to find a way to balance my desire to participate in both sports in a way that allows me to stay injury free.

Total cycle today: 12.9km to work + cycle home.

A tough decision

That’s it! I’m calling it! This Saturday’s 50km trail race is off 😦 .

I was supposed to be running the 50km trail run at the Glasshouse 100. It was going to be my third event in the 12-in-12 Challenge. However, I aggravated my shin splints on Saturday. My leg hurts when I sleep and even hurts when I walk. Even if it did recover by Saturday morning, all I would be doing is risking further injury.

It’s totally gutting but at the same time, the Glasshouse Trail Runs are not that great. The course is not all that scenic and just follows sharp, gravelly fire trails. If I had a choice of events to pull out of, this is the one.

I’m not giving up on the 12-in-12 Challenge. I am still forging ahead. I already have two events scheduled for June so I still have 12 events in my 12 month calendar. And otherwise I can always do the Gold Coast Marathon in the first weekend of July 2013 to still have 12 events in 12 months (my first event was 29 July 2012).

But I need to be realistic. I can’t run this weekend and still be fit for the rest of my races. I need to get stronger. I haven’t done the miles and I was carrying a long-term injury into the challenge. I went in eyes wide open that this would be tough and that there would be set-backs along the way. The real challenge is to overcome those set-backs and make the best decisions for my success in the challenge.

Besides, I have Tough Mudder Sydney on 22 September and I would much rather participate in that than the Glasshouse trail run.

So my next 12-in-12 Challenge event is now the 50km trail run at Washpool on 14 October. I think that’s going to be a magnificent event. It’s a flat course with no cut-offs and beautiful wild flowers.

Rest day ramblings: Physio magic

Magic tools make it possible for me to touch my shin

Like many runners, shin splints and ITB syndrome have been an ongoing battle for me. I first started to get shin splints when I was a junior elite triathlete during the mid-1990s. My ITB became a problem in the late-1990s shortly after I stopped racing triathlon.

The pain from my injuries caused me to stop running from 1998 to 2004; swapping the sport for cycling. But I never really loved cycling like I have always loved running. In 2004 and 2005 I ran again. Every run was excruciatingly painful. But I had a lot of demons to exorcise so I ran in agony until I could no longer run. And then I stopped. Until July 2011.

When I decided to take up triathlon last year, it was because I was too scared to take up running. Scared because I didn’t know how to run without pain. And this time, I wasn’t taking up the sport to exorcise demons; I was taking it up to experience the joy that comes with doing what I love.

Fortunately, I discovered barefoot running, which allowed me to run pain free. But the injuries were still there. I could run without pain but my right shin was still always sensitive to touch and my right ITB would still get tight when I walked with a backpack or ran in shoes. The injuries didn’t get worse but they also weren’t getting better.

Just before the City to Surf Marathon, I went to see a Paul, the physiotherapist at Body Leadership Australia. I’d heard about him through my running club. I didn’t expect much from my first visit, given that I’ve had these injuries for over 15 years. But I was wrong.

Paul assessed my legs and back to identify weaknesses and inflexibility. The short version is that I have very short calves, extremely inflexible ankles and a right leg that doesn’t track straight (I knew that because it whips around so much I can see it when I run). If that all sounds dire, it’s not: I seem to be able to run and there’s no reason for me to stop doing what I love.

I’ve been to see Paul twice and have been doing my homework exercises every day. I press the ball against my ITB trigger points and hook my fingers into the trigger points in each of my calves (I found some in my left leg so decided to work them too to prevent shin splints starting in my ‘good’ leg). I use the foot ease roller on the muscle at the outside of my shins, the three sides of my calves, my gluteals and my ITB. I do my stretches and I am sitting in cold baths after every run that is 10km or farther.

I am excited to announce that for the first time since I was about 17 years old, I can run my hand down my right shin without pain. It’s amazing! I haven’t been able to touch my shin like I am in the photo above in 15 years because it was all swollen and sore (there was a big rock hard lump where the muscle and bone joined). But the swollen lump is already gone and I can feel my legs loosening up.

Here’s to years of pain free running because I’m loving the joy it brings. And I can’t wait until my injuries are fully healed.

Club run

Scenery from the club run

It was almost a perfect morning for running. The air was fresh, the sun was coming up over the water and the company was grand. Sure, there was a stiff cold breeze coming off the bay, but it’s not like we get really cold weather here.

My FiveFingers were still wet this morning from the wash I gave them last night so I decided just to run full barefoot for my club run. My feet enjoyed the freedom of feeling bitumen and grass as I cruised along the 6km waterfront route. I also enjoyed the company of club mates with whom I shared the run. We talked a bit as we ran, sharing stories of our adventures and plans. The more I turn up to our club runs the more I enjoy them. And the more I enjoy the hour or two at the bakery afterwards.

Tomorrow is the Lake Manchester 22km trail run. A group of us from Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers are going there together to run the event. It’s going to be a fun day.

Total: about 6.4km in 38:44.74 (6:03 pace).

Ouch! Is triathlon becoming an elitist sport?

I just received my annual Triathlon Queensland membership renewal notice today. While I thought (from the organisation’s website) that membership would be due after 1 July 2012, I have now learned that if it isn’t paid by 30 June 2012 it will lapse. Membership renewals don’t open until 9am tomorrow, 27 June 2012 so this is a small window of opportunity to renew memberships. Particularly for those of us racing on Sunday, 1 July 2012.

But the nastiest shock came with the increase in membership fees. They are now $200 per year, up from $160 per year. That’s a $40 or 25% increase. The only explanation offered is that Queensland is moving into line with the other Australian states and territories. That money only buys us race insurance; nothing else. We are still paying between $80 and $200 to actually enter races up to Olympic Distance, and much more for long distance and M-dot races.

So is triathlon becoming an elitist sport? Are the costs going to outstrip the ability of the average person to participate? The fee increase and manner in which the renewal notice has been sent has caused me to go back to the drawing board with my season goals to decide whether I want to make my move to ultra trail running a season earlier. I just don’t have $200 lying around to spend; I already thought the $160 last season was painful.

Yes, I get a $40 discount if I continue to be an active technical official. Or at least technical officials did in the 2011/12 season but there is no mention of the discount in the renewal  notice, so I’m not sure whether or not it still applies. But even with the $40 discount, the increase is still steep (from $120 – $160) and probably more than I want to spend.

I am really keen to move into ultra distance trail running. I  think I have what it takes to be a back-of-the-pack 100kmer and to one day complete a 100-miler. To do this I need to enter long-distance trail events, starting with some 20-30km events, building up to a couple of 50km events and then, hopefully, a metric century. Besides, trail running events are cheaper to enter than triathlons, require less gear and have smaller crowds.

After my personal experiences walking the Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane 2011 and watching teams running it in 2012, I know it’s the sport for me. There’s something free about trail running. Maybe, instead of paying my annual triathlon licencing fees I can spend the money on a proper pair of trail running shoes so that I don’t have to keep wearing my old worn out pair of $50 joggers. While I am a barefoot runner, I think that trail shoes would be beneficial for ultra-distance events.

I can still race the odd off-road triathlon because day licences are relatively inexpensive. They are currently $10 for sprint distance races and $20 for Olympic Distance races. It actually is cheaper for me to buy a day licence for the few events I would race.

So tonight I will use my sickness-imposed down time to re-consider my 2012-13 race calendar and to identify which events I most want to participate in. There are some fun-looking MTB enduros and trail runs on offer in South East Queensland and Northern NSW …

Byron Bay Triathlon preparation week 3

This week is the third week of my Byron Bay Triathlon preparation. I’ve been quite disciplined at following the training program that I downloaded from the Triathlete Europe website. The program is split into four 3-week sets, which focus on speed, strength, race-specific preparation and tapering. Each 3-week set is split into two hard weeks followed by a recovery week.

I’m currently in the recovery week for phase 1 (speed). I found the first two weeks incredibly tough because I was stepping up from training 5-6 times a week to training 8-10 times a week at a much higher intensity than I had been used to.

Swim

Before I started the program I was swimming sporadically (I only did 4 swim sessions between December 5 and February 18). When I did swim I was only swimming about 1km, with at least half my sessions being breast stroke. I didn’t do any speed work, kick board or pull buoy training. It’s quite shocking really that I swam 20:45 for my 1,500m at Kingscliff Triathlon.

Under the training program I am swimming three mornings a week. My sessions range from 1.5km to 2km. I am now doing a structured warm up, main set and cool down. Many of my sessions include speed work, kicking, pull buoy or all three. I’m actually using the timing clock at the pool now to limit my rests between repeats and, sometimes, to time my speed. I am feeling strong and confident in the water, and will be starting my last two races of the season at the front of the swim start rather than all the way out at the back.

Bike

Before starting the training program I was cycling once or twice a week. Most sessions were just social rides with either my mum or my running friends. I was riding 25 – 40km at about 22 – 26kph with the odd 27 – 30kph effort thrown in for good measure. My race speed at Kingscliff was 34kph, which is astounding given the training – I think I really brought it on the day.

Under the training program I am cycling 2-3 times a week. My sessions are much more structured, including time trials and hill work. As the training program progresses the time spent cycling at higher intensities will increase. I am enjoying the hard bike work and can feel a significant difference in both my strength and speed. I am finding that my warm ups and cool downs are faster than my training rides used to be (that being said, I never used to do warm ups and cool downs).

Run

Before starting the program I spent most of my training time running. I joined the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers in about August last year and found myself enjoying their company a little too much for a triathlete. But while I was running quite a few miles, they were also relatively slow. The great thing was that I went from struggling to complete a 5km training run to knowing I can run any distance I choose if I pace myself appropriately. But my speed suffered (I ran a 54 minute 10km at Kingscliff).

Under the training program I am running 3-4 sessions a week. The training is structured and focused on increasing my 10km pace, which is what I need for triathlon. For the first few weeks I was still going to parkour training, which I included as my weekly speed running session (we run 5-7km at parkour plus activities). However, in the coming months I might be knuckling down to focus more on triathlon training and leaving parkour until my partner’s days off change again (she’s currently off work on Thursday and Friday, which means I like to be home with her on Thursdays). While I miss my running friends I know the absence is temporary and that I am on the verge of a significant running breakthrough that will probably come in the next two phases of the program, which include more hard training at race pace. I know I’m about to go from running 6min/km pace to 4:30min/km pace over 10km, and that I’m about to crack the point where I can confidently set off on a 30-50km trail run and pace myself to return home safely (even if at 7:00 – 8:00min/km pace).

Adaptations to the training plan

I have made some slight adaptations to the training plan to make it better suit my lifestyle.

  • I do not train on Sundays unless I have an event. I have learned that my body and soul need a day off every week. I need a day for my garden, for my family and friends, and for my body to recuperate from the effort of the week. I am pushing myself quite hard when I do train and I don’t want to injury myself or become ill.
  • I also do some of my running on trails and will be doing some of my cycling on my MTB. Being in the bush is food for my soul and I prefer it to pounding or rolling along the pavement. Also, after the Byron Bay Triathlon on 12 May, all my events (starting from 20 May) will be off-road until at least April 2013. So it’s good fro me to start mixing my preparation to finish this road season strong and have some sort of base for my off-road future.
  • I have been doing basic strength exercises most nights while I’ve been watching television. I just do plank, push ups or crunches during add breaks. I don’t enjoy strength work and hate going to the gym but this is one way that I can manage to squeeze it in without feeling like I’m ‘doing strength’.

 

I’m confident that the new training program will do wonders for me. I’ve already noticed some changes in my body – my arms and chest are more muscular from the swimming and strength work. The last bits of belly I had have disappeared though I am definitely no Ryan Gosling and doubt I’ll ever have a six-pack (I like food too much). I feel more confident about entering different types of events, such as the Adventure Race Australia (20 May), Dawn Attack AR (September) and the 50km Washpool World Heritage Ultra Trail Run (October). And I think I’m going to really have a good crack at breaking 2:15 for the Byron Bay Olympic Distance Triathlon.

I do admit, though, that I’m excited about this week being a recovery week 😉