Saturday 27 June 2015

Stanage edge

I wanted a change for today's long run but nothing so new that I'd need to bother with map.  This led me to do a loop with Porter Clough, Stanage Edge and Burbage bridge before returning via Houndkirk Road.

It was a glorious summer morning, a real change from the last few months and very welcome. The 28km run was hard going. I determined to keep my heart rate below 140bpm and to take walking breaks every 5 minutes to so, certainly therefore walking any key descents. Of course, on Stanage care is needed between and over the stones to avoid falling. I did succeed to avoid falling and the heart rate was fairly well controlled.

I was quite surprised that the pace came in well below 7min/km as I was really just aiming for 'time on my legs'. In terms of niggles there were the usual suspects; calf cramp developing after 22km, an awareness of my left patellar tendon from 10km or so and an irritating feeling from the ligaments of my right ankle. The latter is quite sore now I'm home and other areas of my foot are developing stiffness. I wonder if there was some effect on my gait that has made things worse?

I am wondering if the slightly lower drop of the new RocLite295 (6mm) versus the RaceUltra 290 (8mm) and RocLite 315 (9mm) has had a tiring effect on my calves? The RocLites have been well worn so I'd have thought that they would have lost a few mm on the heel anyway.

Composite image compiled from Inov-8's website

I'd not intended to wear the new shoes in with a 28km run but somehow the opportunity for a shorter trip never presented itself!

Friday 26 June 2015

Tough swim!

Today's swim session included some fin-based short sets in which I managed lengths in under 50 seconds without really trying. That shows why fins can be seen as a 'cheat'. However by providing drive I could focus on the front quadrant arms and even feel a little glide with the leading arm on a breath. Also the broad, floating fins lifted my legs and gave me a better feel for how my head should lie in the water.

After that I had to complete 3 sets of 400m. The splits on these were 12.3, 12.4 and 12.8 minutes; far more than the 10.4 minutes I achieved with Julian. I think I must have been really pushing it then! Anyway, even adding back in the 3 minutes of rest between these sets I managed an average of 3:22min/100m for over 1800m which is pretty good going as far as I'm concerned.

I did try to commit to the stroke and rhythm as much as I could and redoubled my efforts as I felt myself tire through a set. On the first set I did get delayed in the lane a little so feel I could have made 12minutes, but then again it wasn't a time trial!

Thursday 25 June 2015


Today has become a 'rest day'. It had to happen as I found the run to circuits yesterday rather hard going and I was generally lacking in energy. I suspect that the cause is basically 2 long swims; Sunday and Tuesday, both longer than I've ever swum before. These followed on from a reasonably long run on Saturday so altogether I'm feeling the strain.

My morning heart rate has become elevated at a fairly consistent 47bpm which is a 15% increase. I've just measured by HRV and at a resting of 51bpm it was 40 which is rather low too. These parameters both support the idea that I'm tired!

It seems to be impossible to do 3x runs, 3x swim, 1x cross training and at least 1x rest day per week.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Night light

On my way home from work I went via Decathlon to get some new running socks. I've been very happy with theirs, so much so that I've started to wear through the toes and heels.

Whilst browsing (a very bad habit when shopping) I spotted the Clic light. The basic lamp was reduced to £6.99 and will attach to a rucsac strap. This seemed like an excellent addition to a head lamp to be a back-up or to give light from a different angle. It can also do white and red light so can be used as a back marker too.
Image from the store's website
The basic specification is quite good, 850Ah lithium battery and 3 white light levels. It's not clear if the LED is well regulated but the predicted burn times of 5 to 12 hours are respectable. 

It'll have to wait a few months for serious use as the nights are pleasantly short at present and I'm not usually out and about at 2am.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Paddling for Session 6-ish

Today I wanted to use the Cofield's new policy permitting fins, paddles and snorkels but as I only had the paddles in my bag I had to base my session around those. That fitted pretty well with the third session in my programme.
TYR paddles recommended by Julian Nagi
I'd struggled to use these effectively during my assessment session a few weeks ago but I think I was getting tired. Today they seemed far easier to use effectively and gave good feedback on the catch phase. I was surprised that I needed to go in the fast lane so as not to catch up with other swimmers but I think the 'mediums' were being slow today! It does make sense that I'd be faster with these on but it also makes sense that each length was more tiring. Indeed I couldn't do the programmed 100m sets and made do with 66m length pairs. The paddles clearly gave me feedback on clean entry and a well angled catch but I found the recovery rather awkward.

I suspect that I may have tired shoulders tomorrow...

Saturday 20 June 2015

Carl Wark

Considering that tomorrow is the Summer Solstice the weather this morning was exceptionally damp and misty. Indeed ascending to Carl Wark and then Higger Tor I was basically in mist.

Capping stones on the ramparts of Carl Wark
Without a compass bearing I descended from Higger Tor to the road but went a little westerly of my goal. Fortunately there is a path alongside the road so I could run to Burbage Bridge away from traffic.

The total run was just under 24km and done in under 3 hours. In view of my heart rate restriction on 'long runs' and the near-scramble up to the uppermost sections of Carl Wark and Higger Tor a reasonable percentage of the route was walked.

Overall my legs were OK, a bit of soreness in my left hip flexor as last week and a return of irritation from the right peroneus ligaments. The latter does seem to be associated with some local tenderness and not just referred pain from triggers in the muscle body.

Friday 19 June 2015

Training aids for swimming

Over the last week I have exchanged a number of emails with senior staff at the Goodwin centre about the use of training aids in the pool. It seemed that I was pushing at an open door as they quite readily agreed that it would be reasonable to allow fins, paddles and snorkels in some lanes for some of the time.

I was told that new signage would appear once team briefings has taken place. Well, when I went for today's swim gold stars had been placed on the Medium and Fast lane boards stating that aids were allowed. Since I wasn't sure when this permission would occur I'd not taken anything along but now I can do next time. Perhaps the faster 2 lanes are not ideal for me as certainly initially I know I'll be slow with the hand paddles as they are quite distracting to use. Fins do speed me up however.

During the students' vacation period the pool isn't too busy so perhaps this will be a test period for the  pool and a time for me to get my act together in the effective use of the aids.

Swim session 4

I missed swim session 3 two weeks ago due to a lack of days in the week and sessions 4 and 5 didn't happen early this week due to me having a cold and feeling a great need for rest and recovery. So feeling ready for action I decided to skip the integration of session 3 and return to kicks.

Overall I don't think that I can say that the drill went very well nor have I shown any signs of speeding up. However the total distance was over 1600m which is probably the most I've ever swum in a single session (I don't think I did a 2000m badge or such when I was a child).

Saturday 13 June 2015

Wet but not too cold

After a week of lovely weather the weekend started, as forecast, with wet and cool weather. The change has been dramatic over the kit 7 days from signs of real summer to something more akin to November, although in all honesty it isn't cold.

Strangely I've not run all that often in the rain despite keeping to a routine and I suppose that shows that it doesn't rain quite as often as one might think. Anyway, at 6am this morning the rain was heavy and I didn't think I'd be going out. By 7:30 it was noticeably lighter and I committed to go out. After all, I might sign up to an event and it rain on the day.

I decided that dress code would be shorts and cagoule in an attempt to not be too hot nor suffer from cold core. I think it worked out well as when I felt too hot really it was also an indication to low down and on slight descents I needed to keep up speed. The only unpleasant bit was eastbound along Houndkirk Road when the wind and rain were in my face and my legs were cooling.

One advantage of being out a little earlier than usual on a slighter wetter  than usual day is that the wildlife hasn't been disturbed. In Blackamoor woods I spotted a heron and a stoat in quick succession; for obvious reasons I haven't included photos here.

For the first time I had a little hip flexor tightness on ascents. I wonder if this is secondary to more swimming this week than I'm used to? It seemed OK for walking later in the day so hopefully nothing much to worry about.

Friday 12 June 2015

Swim session 2

Today's session focussed on trying to keep a high leading arm whilst breathing. For many of the lengths I felt very asymmetric and it was only towards the end of the session I started to understand what was happening.

In my effort to focus on keeping a high leading arm, mostly the left, I was almost stopping, certainly breaking the rhythm of the stroke. I also noted that my body roll was also one-sided. Once this had struck home I did some final lengths trying to incorporate a high leading arm into a regular stroke with even roll. It did feel easier.

On land, just standing, I can't get my upper arm adjacent to my head so that isn't going to happen in the pool. I juts need the arm not to drop! Additionally when doing the short pause with  my leading arm I noticed a habit of lifting my hand and then splashing it down. This must be acting as a break.

Breathing to the left feel less natural and doesn't seem to allow as much breathing. However I feel my arms are better positioned.

From my timings today I was doing 3minutes/100m on the 200m sets. This is much slower than my 'time trial' last week but might be due to a combination of trying to reconstruct my stroke and being tired after work.


What a contentious issue. I've looked online and the prohibition of training aids is widespread and often ridiculed. It seems there are genuine concerns about injury but also many coaches advising their use!

I have contacted the manager of the Goodwin centre at Sheffield and he is willing to discuss the matter with his colleagues. That might be a step forwards. I have found that Birmingham University are far more reasonable.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

You can't bring those in here!

Today was the first session of my 8 week programme from Julian and I managed to fit an hour in between two work commitments. I had a problem in that the Cofield pool at the University doesn't allow either fins or hard paddles.

Soft, glove-style paddles are allowed. Julian had told me that council-operated pools usually didn't permit stroke training aids due to 'Health and Safety' concerns but we'd both hoped the University would be more up-to-date in its thinking.

I also enquired at King Edward's pool that is run by a private Trust and they don't allow anything except floats. I'm still waiting to hear from Hathersage, supposedly a triathlon club trains there...

By the way, I did ask before attempting to use the things so I was spared of the embarrassment suggested in the title!

It is widespread panic!
The crazy thing is that such training aids are sold widely often with 'professional' endorsements.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Swim coaching

After a long plateau and unsuccessful previous attempts to find a swimming teacher I decided to go for the rather costly Swimsmooth approach. The most convenient coach with space was Julian Nagi in Acton and I went and spent two hours with him on Saturday morning. I've looked at their free online resources and I'd previously suspected I was a 'Bambino' style although that turned out to be incorrect.

Within a few lengths Julian had spotted a number of issues and through the video recording he was able to show these to me.

I think that this single frame shows my 3 major technique problems all at once!

  1. Low legs with too extensive and floppy-knee kick
  2. Leading arm far too low in the water at the time I'm inhaling
  3. Straight leading arm with weak catch
Seeing my video footage it was evident to me and it is surprising that at previous classes the tutors couldn't have made these common issues known to me. Of course spotting issues is one thing, the important thing is working to improve them. Before going to there though it is worth mentioning that after only a couple of lengths it was clear that bilateral breathing wasn't working for me. I've written often about a 'shortness of breath' and this was solved instantly by breathing to my dominant right side. We discussed balance, neck pain and power issues and I was advised to try to learn to breath to the left for a proportion of lengths to give balance. 

I did a 400m 'time trial' in 10:40 which is 2:40min per 100m which illustrated how big a difference just changing breathing had made (normally I'd be well over 3 minutes). I was also able to work harder and exhaled more deeply naturally without having to think about it! After that we went through a set of drills to improve my kick, mainly to reduce drag. Oddly I thought that I kicked with a neat flutter kick until seeing the video!

Secondly there was some work to allow me to focus on a high reach during the inhale phase to keep a leading hand and again maintain a sleeker profile. Finally we looked at a high elbow catch to help provide forward drive earlier in the catch and reduce shoulder load. By this time I was tiring and this didn't go all that well. This was simply a combination of being in the water for most of a two hour session and having tried two new actions. That is probably plenty for me to have learnt.

Another issue, that isn't related to technique is simply a lack of swimming fitness. I can understand that I need to do at least 3 sessions a week to make progress. I'll have to see how well I can fit this in around running but it would be a shame not to build on the weekend's investment. One thing that should help is that Julian has already sent me an eight week programme with a plan for each session. There is quite steep progression in the programme so I'll need to keep an eye on diet and recovery. I think such a programme will be a great help as previously I haven't had goals and have drifted between classes, the only progression being my rather restricted ideas where to go next.

Overall I was pleased that Julian had shown me key areas to improve and given me the tools to address them. I wish I'd visited him a year or so ago!

Monday marks the beginning of week 1.