Tag Archives: Coach Ant

Catching up, CrossFit, Ironman Dublin 70.3, Marafun, stir-fry and Santahampton.

7 Dec

I’ve been so busy recently that I’ve not had enough time to blog. I hope that I can find more time in 2015 – I think that perhaps I need to be more productive in my lunch breaks. As I’m struggling to find enough time, I’m trying to add more frequent social media updates:

One of my aims for 2015 is to focus a little more on my diet and nutrition. I’m good at sticking to a training plan, so I think I need to be as rigid about what I eat to try to stop me from making unhealthy choices. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve… more will be revealed later.

I’ve been busy for several reasons – one of which is work, but the main one is that I’m trying to get back into regular training, so that it’s not too difficult for me to pick up my half marathon training in January. I’m also desperate to get a 5km PB before the end of the year as I feel like I’m making some progress with my running. I’m also back to Run Leading/coaching with Lordshill Road Runners. I now regularly help Ben on a Wednesday, which is great. It means that I get a rest day in the middle of the week whilst helping other people to achieve their goals.

A month ago, I blogged that I had achieved my best ever race pace. Later I looked at my run on Strava and was surprised to see how well it ranked against my other runs:

Strava results

I know that I’ve run 1 mile faster than 7:32 (my PB is 7:27), but I’ve never run 5k in under 25 minutes! πŸ™‚ This is great as it means that I’ve a little hope that I might get a 5k PB before the end of the year.

I’ve also been doing a lot more training with SUTRI. I’ve regularly been attending Tuesday night spinning classes. They’re quite different from what I was used to at Bournemouth University. I used to do 30 minute classes and these are an hour, but I don’t find them as challenging – I think this is because I’m fitter and now ride a bike every day. The music is also very different from what I’m used to.

I’ve also been going to SUTRI strength and conditioning classes which are led by Ollie at the local CrossFit box. CrossFit seems to be a Marmite activity, as it divides people into those who love it and those who hate it. The lovers enjoy the group mentality and camaraderie about working with others to push yourselves to the limit; the haters point out the extreme risks that are taken in some gyms where the instructors have received minimal training and rhabdo is common. What we’re doing is a modified version of CrossFit that is tailored to triathlon. Also, I’m confident that the coach knows what he’s doing and isn’t going to get anyone doing multiple reps of an exercise that they don’t understand with a weight that’s too heavy for them.

So far, I’ve been to three strength and conditioning classes. The first one was the day after Gosport Half Marathon, so my legs were a little bit tired. We did a whole range of things that I’ve not done for many years including some pull ups using rings and some squats… lots of squats. There were squats with a medicine ball, squats throwing a medicine ball and just plain squats. I’ve no idea how many squats I did, but the next day my legs hurt and by Wednesday I wondered whether I would ever be able to stand without groaning again!

In my second class, the focus was on inversions. This was much safer territory for me. I stopped doing gymnastics in 2008, but muscle memory means that I still know how to do a handstand. We did a variety of handstands in groups of three and also had to walk up the wall into a handstand position for me. It felt good as I knew that I could do it. We also had to balance in crow position (from yoga). I used to spend a lot of time doing various balance on the beam and have practised this position in yoga, so it was something that I knew I could do. I felt great when the class finished and was pleased that I did not ache afterwards.

Last week, my friend Roelie came along to the class with me. I’m significantly older than the other participants, so it was great to have a friend who’s not in her early twenties to train with. The focus of the session was using kettlebells. A few years back, I did a kettlebell workout with my karate instructor, Sean, but I’ve not used them since then. We spent quite a bit of time working on doing a Russian/Turkish get up (as demonstrated in this video). We also had to do knee-lifts, which involved working the lower abs by raising our knees to our chests whilst hanging from a bar. We had to do this in sets of 10. My biggest concern was whether I’d be able to reach the bar. Some of the taller blokes could reach up and touch it with their hands, whilst I was hoping that I would be able to jump high enough to reach it! Fortunately, I managed it, but it’s a long time since I’ve done anything like that, so my hands didn’t like it!

The only frustration that I’ve had so far is that each class seems to have some burpees in it. Unfortunately, my low blood pressure means that I’m not allowed to do burpees as I always end up fainting. I’ve been told to do the burpees slowly, but I’m not convinced that it has any benefit for me and just makes me look like I can’t do them 😦

Ironman Dublin logo

On 24th November, entry to Ironman Dublin 70.3 opened for people who had pre-registered. Stuart and I were fortunate enough to get places, along with three of our friends from Southampton Tri Club: Suzanne, Huw and Steve. Unlike Weymouth, I won’t be able to train on the course in advance, but I’m more confident now and I’m hoping that I’ll head into HIM training on the back of some successful half marathon training. My aim is to finish in under 7 hours, which will require me to improve on all disciplines. I think I wasted a lot of time in T1 at Weymouth and my run was poor, so they should be easy places to lose some time.

On 29th November, Rob and Stuart agreed to pace me at parkrun. I had several aims:

  • Beat my fastest time at parkrun this year (25:45)
  • Beat my Southampton parkrun PB (25:12)
  • Beat my 5k PB (25:08)
  • Finish in 24:59 or faster

I’ve blogged about how it went – I didn’t achieve all of my goals, but it was my 3rd fastest ever parkrun and I’m confident that with some consistent training and a healthy diet I’ll get there.

I’m now running again with Lordshill on a Monday evening. The pace of the groups is a little inconsistent at the moment, so it’s not always easy to work out which group to run with. I was dithering about joining Stu’s group (Group F) for some sprints when I was asked to help out with Group D on Monday. I agreed to tail run, which was probably a good decision. Before we started running, Teri got me to pose for a quick photo with James who won the Best New Male Athlete award by Southampton Tri Club. Teri humorously referred to us as the ‘king and queen of tri’ – I’m not sure I’m at that level yet, but I’m still proud enough to keep polishing my trophy!

Celebrating my tri club win with Jmes, who was awarded best new male

Celebrating my tri club win with James, who was awarded best new male

After running, I headed down to swimming. It had been cold outside, which meant that the pool felt warm for a change… the pool at The Quays is always really cold! It was a tiring session, but it’s always hard to swim for an hour when you’ve already done an hour of strength and conditioning, an hour of running and have spent nearly an hour commuting by bike!

On Thursday evenings, I’ve been running at the track with Huw from STC. He’s a great coach – I find him very supportive and motivational and I love running on the track as it has such a lovely bouncy surface. This week’s session was 600ms. We had to jog/walk/recover for 200m before running 400m at 5k pace followed by 200m at faster than 5k pace. I managed to do six reps before calling it a day. It was a tough session, but I know that it’s what will make the difference when it comes to getting a 5k PB.

On Friday evening, I did a 750m swimming time trial that I’ve blogged about. It was tough!

Yesterday, I didn’t go to parkrun. I’ve been considering having laser eye surgery for a while, so I booked a consultation for Saturday afternoon. I was not allowed to wear my contact lenses for 24 hour beforehand, which meant that I couldn’t do parkrun as I cannot run with my glasses on. As an alternative, I went swimming with STC. I knew it would be tough as it was only 12 hours after I finished swimming with SUTRI.

I hardly ever swim with STC on a Saturday morning, so I had no idea who would be in my lane or what I could expect. Fortunately, it wasn’t too busy and the other people in my lane were not significantly faster than me. I was quite proud of myself for managing 4 lengths of butterfly (my previous best was 1/4 length). It wasn’t great – I’m quite surprised none of the lifeguards tried to save me – but I didn’t drown. Sadly, Garmin thinks I was doing freestyle… but at least it recognised that it was a swimming stroke! I should probably admit that I had fins on… But I also had to do another 4 lengths single arm without fins, at which point I nearly died! Afterwards, we went for a hot drink with some of the others swimmers. It was so difficult to recognise people without their swimming hats and goggles on!

On Saturday evening, I made a lovely dinner: sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry.

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

Sesame, honey, ginger and tofu stir-fry

It’s based on an old recipe that I had for cabbage stir-fry.Β  Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped clove of garlic
  • Small piece of chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Some sesame seeds (I used a mixture of black and white seeds)
  • Any stir-fry veg (I used mangetout, red pepper [capsicum], baby corn, spring onions [scallions], broccoli spears and a red chilli
  • Tofu

It worked out really well πŸ™‚

Today has been a busy day. This morning, Stuart and I ran up to The Common for another training run with the Marafun crew. I dithered a bit, but went into the 9 minute mile group again. If I’m going to get a PB then I’ll need to manage faster than that pace on race day!

After we finished the group run, Stuart and I ran home, where I made some spirulina smoothies.

This afternoon, we joined Coach Ant’s fun run: Santahampton.

We arrived a little late, but it was easy to see where we needed to go as there were plenty of people out with costumes on:

Arriving at Santahampton

Arriving at Santahampton

The local newspaper had sent a photographer and also a journalist (who turned out to be one of my former students. I love it when I hear about my people I’ve taught doing well).

Coach Ant briefed everyone about the route, and then we were off.

Ant starting the run

Ant starting the run

I jogged with some people that I know – we were at the back, but that was fine as it was a fun sociable event. I really enjoyed having a chance to say hello to people that I know.

Afterwards, we were all rewarded with a mince pie.

Any with Sandra and her huskies

Ant with Sandra and her huskies

My favourite Christmas elf

My favourite Christmas elf – Liz and her medal.

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Secret Santa (aka Rikki)

Papping the photographer - a quick snap of Jules

Papping the photographer – a quick snap of Jules

How’s your week been? Have you got any festive runs scheduled?

Some extra recovery followed by two days of intervals

25 Jun

After my long swim on Sunday, I was meant to go swimming with the Tri Club on Monday night… however, I had a fun night out planned with some former work colleagues. I tried to find a way to fit a swim in, but I would have had to get up very early to do it before work, and my lunch break was sandwiched between meetings on different campuses, so in the end it just wasn’t feasible. I know that people will say that if you want to find a way, it’s always possible to make things work, but I was feeling absolutely exhausted and thought that a little bit of extra time in bed and a chance for my arms to recover wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Yesterday, I had to spend the day in London for a work event. Luckily, the meeting didn’t finish too late, so I was able to get home in time to be able to do some of my training. I was meant to do a 45 minute bike ride, but I only had time to fit in 25 minutes before my track session. If I’d been better organised, I might have found a bit more time, but I’m not too worried about it (I cycle to and from work every day, so missing out on 20 minutes on my bike isn’t as bad as it might seem).

After cycling, it was time for my weekly track session with the local tri club. Huw was away, so the session was led by Steve, who’s also a really good coach. We were told to do the usual warm up (a one mile lap of the sports centre), but I still had to change from my bike shoes into trainers and lock my bike up, so I took a short cut. I’d assumed that I wouldn’t be able to catch the group, but I think that with a bit of effort, I would have made it.

After the warm up, we were told to do a deceptively simple pyramid session:

  • 1 minute run; 1 minute recovery
  • 2 minute run; 2 minute recovery
  • 3 minute run; 3 minute recovery
  • 4 minute run; 4 minute recovery
  • 4 minute run; 4 minute recovery
  • 3 minute run; 3 minute recovery
  • 2 minute run; 2 minute recovery
  • 1 minute run; 1 minute recovery

We were told the runs should be done at ‘steady’ pace, which was then modified to 5k pace. My best parkrun (5k) time in 2014 is 27:40, but I’m still aspiring to get a PB, so I tend to think of 5k pace as being 5:00/km. I managed an average of 4:53/km (moving pace), which means that I managed to achieved what I wanted to.

This evening, I had a choice between doing an RR10 (local off-road race) or doing a specific run as set by my coach. I didn’t finish work until after 6pm, so I decided that it would be best just to do the work out set by Coach Ant. However, I also combined it with a run with my friend, Teri. I ran to her house, and then we did a 10 minute warm up before alternating between 90 seconds at ‘race pace’ (5:00-6:00/km) with 2 minutes of jog recovery after each one. It was hard to run quickly as I’m very tired, but I managed all of the intervals at the appropriate pace.

I think I would have found it a difficult run, if I hadn’t had Teri for company. We would start discussing a topic, and then my Garmin would beep to warn me that it was almost time to run hard again, so we’d agree to pick up the narrative in our next jog break. Teri’s a much faster runner than me, so she went ahead on the intervals, but we regrouped for the jogs.

Tomorrow, I’ve got an aquathlon. Last time, I was still struggling with my arm, so I did the novice distance. This time, I think I need to tackle the sprint distance, but I’ll try to hold back a little as I’ve a triathlon on Sunday. On Friday, I’m cycling and swimming and then I’ll finally have a rest day on Saturday.

This evening, I watched an interesting video from CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club). It’s part of a campaign to make cycling safer in the UK. I fully support it, but I’m not sure that all of the proposals will be practical:

If you’re in the UK and could like to support this campaign, please visit the website.

Rest and reading

18 Jun

It’s been a very hot day and I’ve been working hard, so I’m grateful that it’s also a scheduled rest day.

Some of the great things that I’ve been reading today include Darlene’s blog My first 5k and more. In her latest blog post, she explains about the Mizuno Baton, which is a completely amazing charity running scheme. It’s such a simple concept: you download an app, log all of your miles for the week and then $1 is donated to a charity for homeless people for every mile you run in that week. It’s only available to residents of USA… if you fit into that category, please consider using this app for a week!

Another great read has been The Oatmeal’s DOs and DO NOTs of running your first marathon. I love The Oatmeal and will definitely be buying the book when it’s out.

My coach has been recommending the VDOT calculator to work out training paces. Coach Ant works out my training paces for me, so I don’t have to worry about it, but I can definitely say that training at a low heart rate for my easy runs is making me a better runner.

I also read about an amazing Japanese solution to bicycle storage issues. This video tells you all about it:

I’m thinking about going on a cycling holiday in Japan next year, so I will definitely be watching out for these.

Staying on the cycling theme, I read an interview with Olympian Joanna Rowsell.

What are your thoughts on the ‘cyclist stay back’ stickers that have appeared in London and are now spreading across the country?

Continuing this week’s theme of celebrating good food, did you know that it’s International Sushi Day today?

What have you been reading/watching this week?

Why do I keep entering crazy events?

15 Jun

I’ve had such a busy weekend that I’ve not had enough time to even take photos!

I asked Coach Ant whether I could swap my planned sessions for this weekend, as I’ve not been able to catch up with many friends recently. He agreed, so I was able to do my ‘long’ run on Saturday morning. I call it ‘long’ as it’s significantly shorter than I’m used to. I was meant to do 60-70 minutes at 6:12-7:08/km, which feels incredibly slow, but I’m sure it must be doing me some good. I got up a bit late, so had to drive to parkrun, and didn’t really fit in as much running as I had planned to beforehand as I was so busy chatting to people who I hadn’t seen for a while. I was hoping to run with Kim, but she had volunteered to be a tail runner. I then saw Teri and Kate, so I had a bit of a catch up with them. I assumed that they would be whizzing off, but they agreed to run at my pace. We started out quite well, but I ended up averaging 6:06/km for parkrun, which was faster than I was meant to do, so I guess I’ll get a slapped wrist from Coach. I then went off for a lazy jog after the run, but I haven’t really got my pacing figured out and ended up going really slowly and having to keep reminding myself that I needed to move faster than elderly people walking!

Today’s training was a 3 hour bike ride ‘however feels comfortable’. I agreed to meet with Roelie at 5pm, and also received a message from Pete asking whether he could come along. He’s a lovely guy and I haven’t seen him much recently (he’s a butcher who had a horrible accident with a mincing machine, meaning that he’s not been allowed to train for a couple of months!), so it was nice to have him along. We managed to cycle just over 61km in 3:04, so the route that Roelie had planned was perfect. I’m also regaining some of my confidence when it comes to hills – my best pace today was 48.1km/h, which would have been unheard of a couple of weeks ago, although I think it will take me a long time to get back to my best ever pace of over 70km/h.

I’ve also started to think about what’s coming up next weekend. I’ve entered Big Cove Swim, which is on Sunday morning. It’s a 1.5 mile sea swim. I’m terrified. I have swum in the sea before, but I’m not very experienced. I swam in Portugal, in a very safe cove and did a harbour swim in Cornwall, but that’s my only experience of sea swimming. I’ve also realised that 2000m is the furthest I’ve swum (1.24 miles), so I’ve perhaps been a bit foolish in entering an event that is further than I’ve ever swum before in conditions that I’m not used to. Does anyone have any tips for me?!

What did you do this weekend? How flexible is your training schedule? Do you analyse your stats after training? Do you have any tips for sea swimming?

“Have some electrolytes and eat a piece of kale…”

13 Jun

I just love the latest video from IFHT:

I’ve had a busy week. Wednesday started with a pool session. I wasn’t given session specifics, so I decided to do a pyramid. As my shoulder still isn’t quite right, I didn’t want to push it too much, so I just did 2000m (I LOVE that I can now say ‘just’ when it wasn’t long ago that this would have been a major achievement!!!) I did 100m; 200m; 300m; 400m; 400m; 300m; 200m; 100m. My intention was to have a minute’s rest after each one, but a slight oversight meant that didn’t happen. After I arrived at the pool, I realised that my prescription goggles and my favourite swimming hat were in my swim kit bag with my pull buoy, fins and hand paddles… and that bag was at home. I’m partial to my shark hat as it is comfortable and stops water from going in my ears, and without contact lenses, glasses or prescription goggles, my eyesight is very limited, which makes doing basic activities somewhat hazardous. I almost gave up on swimming, but I realised that I had a tri club swimming hat tucked in my rucksack. I rarely wear it as it’s not as comfortable as my other hat and it feels a bit pretentious to wear it when swimming in a public pool – I’d rather not draw attention to the fact that I’m desperately trying to be a triathlete, as I feel that other people have preconceived ideas about how good a swimmer I should be. (That’s probably in my head, but I don’t like attracting attention). I also realised that I have the cheap pair of goggles that I bought in Cyprus in my rucksack, so I put them on and went into the pool. I was able to read my watch, but even with squinting, I couldn’t make out any of the numbers on the giant wall clock.

My husband was just finishing his swim set as I arrived. I had seen him when I walked into the building (there’s a glass wall in the reception that shows off the pool), but with restricted vision, I had to wait until he was just a metre or so away to be sure that it was him. He had another 100m to do and agreed that when he had done that, I could borrow his goggles. They aren’t prescription ones, but they are quite expensive and more comfortable than what I had. I was really appreciative of them, although I’m not convinced that orange lenses are helpful. A plus side of not being able to see was that I think it helped my stroke. I know that I pick my head up far too high out of the water when I breathe and have narrowed this down to three problems:

1. I have a fear of inhaling water and don’t believe that I create a bow wave

2. I like to know what’s going on around me, so I try to have a look when my head is out of the water (when I couldn’t see anything, there was no point in trying this)

3. When I breathe, I relax and don’t kick, so my legs sink. I can’t believe that I’ve only just noticed this!

Tri club swim hat montage

In the evening, a lot of my friends did a cross-country race, but I went to see the sports masseur who had a look at my injured right leg. I don’t know what she did to it, but it hurt then and it’s still painful now 😦 Hopefully, tomorrow it will feel amazing!

Arriving at the Sports Centre

Arriving at the Sports Centre

Yesterday’s training started at the track at 6:30am.It was a session about cadence and pace, so we had to do multiple laps of the track at different paces (easy, 5k, 3k, 1k, all out, 1k, 3k, 5k, easy), which doesn’t sound too bad, but we had to count the number of steps each lap took. That requires tremendous concentration for before 7am!!! For me it was between 300 and 400 each lap. I’m intrigued by what my coach is going to do with the info.

Athletics track

Athletics track

We then moved on to a variety of exercises and the famous hurdles came out again. They were put in a square and we had to hop over them. Hopping forwards and sideways isn’t too bad, but hopping backwards over an obstacle that you can’t really see is challenging!

Ant demonstrating his new form of torture 2

Ant demonstrating his new form of torture

Ant hopping 1

Ant hopping

Yesterday evening, I had to do an hour on my bike, including 4 reps of a steep hill. It was meant to be a 2 minute hill climbing effort, but once again, I judged it incorrectly, so I found a hill that took about 1:45. I’m hoping that’s close enough!

Today was an optional 30 minute swim, but as I had quite a busy day at work and am feeling exhausted, I decided to take it as a rest day, so that I’m ready for tomorrow’s 70 minute run.

Does your coach get you to do any unusual drills? Who do you think wins the rap battle?


Oooh – pretty pictures

12 May

As I mentioned at the weekend, I’ve decided not to rely on my own slightly crazy planning to get me through Challenge Weymouth, so I’ve engaged Ant Gritton as my coach. One of the first tasks that he set for me was to import my data from Garmin Connect to Training Peaks. I’m usually pretty good with computers, but this was a bit of a battle, which resulted in me reverting to Garmin Training Center to be able to export my data before importing it via Training Peaks Device Agent. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t import my swim data, so I had to add that manually. This was the result:

My training peaks data

My training peaks data

I think the data is likely to be flawed as it doesn’t include everything that I’ve done since January, and it also includes some gentle jogs that I’ve done with friends. However, beautiful as the image may be, I needed some info from Coach Ant to be able to interpret it:

Basically the pink line shows the results of any short-term effects your training has had, basically how much fatigue you are likely to be experiencing. The blue is an estimate of your current level of fitness, the result of long-term training and more importantly consistent training. The yellow is a balance of the two – your form.

It’s a pretty complicated thing, but shows the power of training consistently and being able to monitor and adapt as we need to.
The graph shows that training for you has been a bit inconsistent (possibly as some of the data from your swim isn’t included).
The pink shows fatigue increasing from the start of March and consistently rising without too much recovery time, which is why the yellow line is a bit all over the place.
So, based on this and my current injuries, I am resting until Thursday. Today, I am going to see a doctor about my arm injury, as it is still incredibly painful, and I will also ask her about my asthma as I am using my inhaler quite frequently. Thursday’s work out is going to be an hour on the turbo trainer. I’ve only done 40 minutes on the turbo trainer before, so I’m going to have to dig out some music to listen to whilst I’m there. Apparently ‘Appetite for Reduction’ is a good album for spinning – I love it, but think I’m more likely to be successful with Avicii.
Are there any albums that you like for spinning/turbo training?

I’m back, but not quite where I wanted to be.

10 May

I’m back, but I’m broken 😦 I picked up a few injuries on last week’s holiday, so training has been put on hold for a week, in the hope that I recover quickly. I’ve also suffered a real crisis of confidence about whether I’ll be able to complete the events that I’ve entered, which meant that I’ve had to rethink my strategy.

At the moment, my arm is still in so much pain that I’m unable to swim and running is awkward; I’m also unwilling to get on my bike. My diet has failed, so I’ve decided that after 6 years, it’s time to bid farewell to Weight Watchers. I’m not saying that WW doesn’t work, but right now it’s not a good fit for me and my aspirations.

This means that I’m a bit stuck, so I decided that the sensible thing would be to send an emergency plea to my coach, Ant, asking whether we could meet up to discuss my goals.

Coach Ant from RunCamp came around and had a chat with me about my goals. I’ve added my training data for 2014 so far to TrainingPeaks and Ant has already started to create a training schedule for me. It incorporates some of the swimming that I do with Southampton Tri Club, some of my running with Lordshill Road Runners, some RunCamp sessions, some open water swimming and some individual training that I’ll be able to do on my own. He’s also fitted in some of the races that I’ve entered. I’ve also had to be rational and have decided to drop some of the races that I had planned to do. I’m not going to run Alton 10 mile tomorrow. It’s not one of my favourite races and I think that it would be a painful slog at the moment. I’m also unlikely to do Netley 10k, which means that I won’t have completed enough races to get my name on an HRRL mug, but I don’t mind as that’s not one of my priorities at the moment. This has a plus side as it means that I no longer feel obliged to do D-Day 10k in Portsmouth, so Stu and I can go along to the Romsey 5 mile beer race, which is an event that Stu would really like to do.

The biggest challenge for me now is going to be the overcome my fear of cycling downhill. My first cycling session is on my turbo trainer, so that won’t be a problem, and I have to cycle to work every day, so hopefully, so easy cycling on my hybrid will help me to feel a bit better.

Have you ever experienced a major set back in your training? How did you overcome it?