Tag Archives: spinning

Some turbo trainer basics

13 Jul

My most popular ever blog post is: My first ever turbo trainer session. I wasn’t sure why it has become so popular, so I decided to analyse the search terms that people have entered that have led them to this post. The top results could be categorised as follows:

  • Turbo training/cycling/Duathlon for weightloss
    • turbo trainer workouts weight loss
    • cycle turbo training for weight loss
    • turbo training for weight loss
    • can i lose weight on a turbo trainer
    • duathlon weight loss
    • turbo training weight loss
    • turbo trainer weight loss
    • cycling shed fat
    • weekly training schedule for aquathlon and weight loss
  • Workouts for turbo trainer
    • turbo trainer dvd
  • Music for turbo trainer
    • turbo training sessions music
  • Clothing for cycling
    • long bike ride training underwear
  • Cycling for the first time in a long time or after injury
    • getting back on the bike
    • getting my bike back on the road
  • Choosing a bike
    • girls ironman bike
    • best bicycle for girls
    • how much is a dassi road bike
  • Specific cycling events
    • There were too many posts to list about the Challenge Weymouth bike course.
    • wiggle new forest sportive
  • Curveballs
    • cycling and food festival
    • who won vankru winchester bike guess
    • fat chick bike blog
    • girl cycling
    • hybrid or road bike with asthma
    • fat bike journeys
    • cutshall weightloss

I’m guessing that many people arrive at that blog post as WordPress uses it as the first link when someone gets notified that I have liked or commented on a post on their blog, but some people also search for something and end up there… apologies to those people who are probably disappointed by what they find! Anyway, in this post, I’m hoping to address some of the things that people are searching for.

handlebars

 

Turbo training/cycling/Duathlon for weight loss

OK, first up, I’m going to tackle the easy part of this request: ‘Duathlon for weight loss’. I’m not convinced that a single race will make any difference to a person’s weight loss, although with a strict training plan before the event and continued effort afterwards then it may help as a motivational factor. I also believe that combining sports means that you give some muscles more recovery time and challenge your fitness more than spending all of your time on a single sport.

I think that being on a turbo trainer can certainly make you work harder than just going out for a ride… but it does depend on how you use your turbo trainer. As I live in a city, then if I want to go out for a bike ride, I spent at least 15-20 minutes in stop start traffic trying to get out of the city, which isn’t terribly effective training, whereas every minute on my turbo trainer counts. However, if I were to do some leisurely pedalling on my turbo trainer whilst watching a TV programme or movie then it may not be an effective workout.I try to make sure that I have a clear idea of the workout that I want to do before getting on my turbo trainer.

Another factor that can make cycling on a turbo trainer feel like hard work (and may cause temporary weight loss) is the temperature. When cycling outdoors, there is always a breeze (or at least the feeling of breeze as you cut through the air). As you are static (and usually indoors) on a turbo trainer then there is no cooling breeze, which may cause your body temperature to rise more quickly… and many people end up a hot sweaty mess on a turbo trainer in a relatively short period of time. It is therefore important that you have access to plenty of water/suitable drinks whilst on a turbo trainer and that if possible there is some air movement, whether it’s from open windows/doors or a fan.

Turbo trainer workouts

I tend to do a variety of interval sets on my turbo trainer, so that I have to put in hard efforts followed by short recoveries. If you’ve ever been to a spinning class then you may be able to adapt what you have done there. I don’t feel that I’m qualified to give advice on turbo trainer sessions, so here are some of the best that I’ve found online:

I also like the Train with GCN videos that are available on YouTube. Here’s an example of one:

What’s your favourite turbo trainer workout?

Music for cycling on the turbo trainer

I’m not someone who ever runs with music and I wouldn’t think of cycling with headphones, but I love listening to motivational music when I’m on my turbo trainer. I tend to prefer tracks that I used to listen to in spinning class… and these have the advantage that they are usually about the right rpm for me to maintain good cadence. These are the tracks that can usually be found somewhere on my turbo trainer playlist:

  • Titanium – David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Wake Me Up – Avicii
  • Break Your heart – Taio Cruz
  • Bounce – Calvin Harris (featuring Kelis)
  • Wild One – David Guetta
  • Don’t Wanna Go Home – Jason Derulo
  • Give Me Everything – Pitbull
  • Turn Me On – David Guetta
  • You Make Me – Avicii
  • We Found Love – Calvin Harris (featuring Rihanna)
  • Where Them Girls At – David Guetta (featuring Nicki Minaj)
  • Dynamite – Taio Cruz
  • Sweat – Snoop Dogg Vs. David Guetta
  • Little Bad Girl – David Guetta
  • Hey Brother – Avicii
  • Higher – Taio Cruz (featuring Kylie Minogue and Travie McCoy)
  • She Wolf (Falling to Pieces) – David Guetta featuring Sia
  • Duck Sauce – Big Bad Wolf

Erin at Sweet Sweat Life often recommends All Day by Girl Talk for trainer sessions. If you’ve not listened to it before then I’d strongly recommend it – it’s a free download 🙂 If you use Spotify, you can also find some great turbo trainer playlists there.

What do you listen to when you’re on your turbo trainer?

Clothing for cycling

The question that gets asked a lot is ‘what underwear should I wear when cycling?’ The sensible answer is not to wear any – cycling shorts are designed to be worn without! I have quite a few different pairs of cycling shorts, tri shorts, bib shorts and tights. In very cold weather, I prefer to wear my fleecy bib tights, but for most of the year I wear SOAS Racing tri shorts either with or without knee warmers. I find tri shorts with minimal padding are significantly more comfortable than padded cycling shorts, but it’s definitely down to personal preference, so you may need to try a few pairs before finding out what is best for you.

Whenever cycling outside, I always wear at least mitts (and windproof/waterproof gloves in winter). It may waste time in a triathlon, but I’m nervous that I may have an accident and damage my hands. I also always wear a helmet and glasses (clear or tinted)… but my helmet, mitts and glasses are the first items of clothing that I ditch when cycling on my turbo trainer as they are not needed.

I usually wear a cycling jersey when outside as the pockets are useful for carrying kit/snacks, and it’s good to be able to unzip the neck a bit when it gets hot. When I’m on my turbo trainer I usually find that a wicking t-shirt is fine – I don’t need to carry a repair kit or snacks and I don’t worry about wearing something close-fitting as wind resistance is not an issue!

One advantage of using a turbo trainer for novice cyclists is that it gives you a chance to get used to wearing cycling shoes and clipping in and out. I’ve never ridden my road bike with flat pedals, but I know that it’s something people worry about, so this can be a way of getting used to it without the fear.

Have you got any tips about cycling clothing?

Cycling for the first time in a long time or after injury

If you’ve not ridden your bike for a long time then it’s important that you make sure that it’s in good working order, whether you’re going to ride it outside or on a trainer. If you’ve had an injury then starting off on a trainer means that you can stop immediately if you feel any niggles, rather than having to make it back home.

I’m not qualified to give medical advice, so I can only recommend that you start gently and make sure that you have a good warm up. Make sure that you build up over a period of time, rather than trying to start back exactly where you were before you were injured.

Choosing a bike

The bike you choose will depend on a number of factors, including what you want to use it for. I’m fortunate enough to own a hybrid that I commute to work on, a relatively cheap road bike that I use for touring and a carbon fibre road bike for racing (and most of my long rides). I’d also love to own a cyclo cross bike. I don’t have a tri bike or aero bars because I don’t think I’ve got good enough bike handling skills and most of the courses that I am interested in racing tend to be undulating and hills are not friends with tri bars!

There is a lot of debate about the merits of women specific design. My main road bike is unisex and my other road bike is a man’s bike (Giant Defy). The women’s version of the Giant Defy is a Liv Avail. I compared the dimensions and the only difference I could find was 5mm on the top tube. As someone who used to be a gymnast, I am quite flexible, so I’m fine with the slightly longer top tube. The most important thing to do is to visit a bike fitter and get them to confirm whether or not the bike you are interested in will be suitable for you – obviously you need to do this before you but the bike!

I hope that answers some of the questions that people want answered!

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Are you ready to get some winter miles in?

20 Nov
Cycling in Ainokura, Japan in April 2015 ©Jeremy Hollinshead

Cycling in Ainokura, Japan in April 2015 ©Jeremy Hollinshead

I’ve only got one event left this year (Tailwind 10), so I’m now focussing on base training ready for next season. For many people, base training means focusing on strength and endurance, but I really want to work on some speed in my running as this has been neglected this year. I also want to work on my cycling over winter and I may even fit in some muddy cross country fun.

I did some great cycling in the Algarve, but I think my carbon bike is now going to be resigned to its new indoor home* for several months whilst I spend more time on my aluminium road bike. It has sturdier tyres, so I feel more secure on it in wet and icy conditions. I’ll also be doing some turbo and spin sessions. Which do you prefer? I’ve never been to a turbo training class, but I really enjoy group spinning.

I’m also a little tempted to try out cyclo cross. I’d love to be able to do more off road riding and am uncertain about whether I should save for a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike/ I know that it should depend on what I’m using it for, but I don’t know yet. Any thoughts?

If you’re thinking about cycling throughout winter, please check out these two blogs that are full of great advice:


 

*my turbo room is currently a work in progress – as soon as it’s done, there will be a post about it. I’m so excited about it – I think it’s going to transform my training 😀

 

 

Busy weekend

10 May

Saturday morning started with a swim followed by parkrun:

parkrun 09/05/15

I also received an email confirming my free entry to Lisbon Rock’n’Roll Marathon. I’m sure it will be an amazing event, but I don’t want to do a marathon that I haven’t trained for and I don’t have enough time to train for it this year.

Lisbon Marathon free entry

I’ve also received all of the information about the Grand Shaftesbury Running and Triathlon Festival, which is taking place next weekend. I’m doing an Olympic Distance Triathlon on Saturday and a 10km run on Sunday, so we’re camping there for the weekend. It should be great fun.

Finally, I had a review of ‘Spinning’ published on Luffit – please check it out!

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! 🙂 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.  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 🙂

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?

What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…

13 Nov

We’ve had torrential rain here for the last few days, but things are starting to look positive. There’s even some sunshine on the weather map for tomorrow 🙂

Monday

The day didn’t start well as car problems meant that I missed out on the strength and conditioning session that I had been looking forward to. I was so gutted about it – I hope I manage to book a place for next Monday’s session, although I imagine that I’ll be tired after Gosport Half Marathon. I didn’t have to rush straight to work as I was booked in for a ‘flu jab. I’ve never had one before as I’ve never counted as an ‘at risk’ category, but my asthma means that I’m now someone who may be more seriously affected. I really hate needles and have fainted quite a few times when I’ve had to give blood, so I was a bit concerned about it. Fortunately, the nurse at my doctor’s surgery is lovely and it didn’t take too long, although I had to sit still for a few minutes afterwards to ensure that I didn’t keel over!

On Monday evening, I agreed to take Ben’s group at my running club… however, this group consists of the fastest runners in the club. They are seriously fast. Their warm up jog pace is my flat-out on the track PB pace. Of course this meant that I wouldn’t be able to run along with them and shout encouragement, and it’s a bit cool to stand around for an hour, so I got on my trust hybrid bike and cycled  around with them. Their main set was 6×1 mile reps at HM pace, which was a comfortable slow cycle for me. It was quite nice to be able to encourage them and I also got to see lots of the other runners who were out training.

After finishing off the LRR session, I cycled to the Quays for tri club swimming. There were only three of us in the lane, but I was by far the slowest one. My left arm (where I’d had the injection) was feeling stiff and tired and it was another impossible set – 12 x 25m off 30s. I decided to ignore what we’d been told to do and just did my best for each length before having 5s rest. We also had to tread water for 2 minutes with our hands behind our heads. I’m not sure whether I was doing it wrong, but it felt quite easy. Bizarrely, I received more praise from the coach than I’ve ever had before, even though I didn’t really do much!

 

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I went to the SUTri spin class. It was the first time that I had gone to a spinning class for two years and my first ever hour-long class.When I worked at Bournemouth University, I used to love going to lunchtime spin classes, but for reasons of time and cost, I’ve not been to any classes since I left BU. I remember that when I started going to classes, I found them completely exhausting, so I was a little concerned about how I would find an hour-long class. Fortunately, all of the time that I’ve spent on a real bike, whether commuting for work or triathlon training, has paid off and I did not struggle with the class. I liked some of the tracks that the instructor played, but I didn’t find the class as motivational as ones that I’ve been to in the past with lots of recognisable recent dance tracks with lyrics. There was also less variety than I’m used to, but I still think it was good and want to go again.

Last week, I went to the SUTri swimming session on Tuesday evening and I am planning to go again, but I had another commitment on Tuesday evening. Recently, Stu and I had a photoshoot with the lovely Sue and Jules from http://www.julianporter.com/ On Tuesday, we went to have a look at the photos that Jules had taken and decide which one we wanted to have printed and framed. Jules has written a blog post about it… it includes lots of the images that he took: http://julesandsue.co.uk/2014/11/lordshill-road-runners-shoot/ If you are in the south of England and need a photographer, I’d recommend getting in touch with Jules and Sue.

 

Wednesday

I really love running on the track, so I was looking forward to the Lordshill track session on Wednesday evening. The weather was pretty miserable, but I think it’s important to train in all weathers as you never know what race day will be like. Ben did quite a long warm up and technique session before the main set started. We were tasked with running 200m at 5K pace +10 seconds, followed by 200m at 5k pace. Ben had worked out how fast we should do each rep according to our PBs – I think I was meant to do 200m in 1:10 followed by 200m in 1:00… but I thought it was 200m at 5:10/km followed by 2oom at 5:00/km, which less of a variance. In the end, I did 200m slow followed by 200m fast, which wasn’t really what we were meant to do. I’m not very good at identifying my pace and I couldn’t read my watch. I think I should have probably relied on my lap button more. I’m not sure whether I did 12 or 13 laps, but it took me just under 26 minutes, which wasn’t too bad.

Garth and Graham at Vankru Cycling shared this fantastic video from Ritte cycles:  http://rittecycles.com/ritte-bicycles/the-rider-diaries-a-chance-encounter

The Rider Diaries: A Chance Encounter from Ritte Bicycles on Vimeo.

Make sure that you watch it to the end!

My next project…

1 Nov

This week has been so hectic. On Monday, I was hoping to be able to go running, but I ended up having to get my phone fixed, which took a lot longer than I had hoped. Fortunately, I was able to make the 8pm swimming session.

There were just two of us in the slow lane, which was nice. Unfortunately, the main set was 12x25m off 30s. This is the kind of set that I hate, as it’s something that is simply unachievable. I can swim 25m in 25s… but that’s a single length swum to the best of my ability. I can just about manage 29s lengths consistently… but I need more than 1s of recovery between them. Although I am willing to be challenged, I find it incredibly demotivating to be given an impossible set to swim. It took a lot of strength not to get out of the pool and leave the session.

At the end of the session, we were asked to swim 400m. I started behind the guy in my lane, which was beneficial as with a bit of effort I was able to draft him, however, after four lengths, he pulled over, so I had to continue swimming on my own. I picked up the pace a little bit and realised that I felt OK. I was also starting to pull ahead of my lane-mate. I decided to continue picking up the pace to see how far ahead I could get of the chap in my lane, but didn’t feel that I was pushing too hard. I was really surprised when I checked my watch at the end to see that I’d finished the 400m in 8:56. It’s the first time that I’ve timed myself over the distance since April, when I did it in 9:30, so I was pleased that I have improved. I’d really like to time myself for an all-out effort as I reckon that I could do it in 8:30 now.

On Tuesday, I booked to go to a SUTRI spinning class and was really looking forward to it. I love spinning, but the last time I went to a spin class was over two years ago when I worked at Bournemouth University. Unfortunately, the evening did not go as planned as my car refused to cooperate and I arrived at the Jubilee Sports Centre 5 minutes late. I walked past the room where the class was taking place, but I couldn’t see a spare bike and I couldn’t face the embarrassment of walking into a full room. After a few minutes of crises and debating just going straight home, I decided to wait in the reception and then join the 8pm SUTRI swimming session.

At about 7:55pm, I went into the pool where I could see a few people gathering at the deep end. One guy was wearing shorts and t-shirt, so I figured that he might be a coach – at last, I got something right. I explained that I had no idea of the format, so I was told that the first lane was mainly mixed drill sets, whereas the other lanes were focused on endurance swimming, with people doing 2-3k per session. I know I’m capable of swimming more than 2k in a session… but then I saw people starting to dive in. I can dive, but only just, so I decided to go into the drills lane.

I did a 50m warm up, by which time more people had got in – there were 12 of us in the lane, which is more people than I’m used to. We did various drills that I’m used to, such as ‘fingertip drag’ drill and ‘catch up’ drill. It was tricky swimming in such a packed lane, mainly because I couldn’t swim slowly enough. Overall, I thought that it was a good start for me as it gave me confidence.

On Wednesday, I led a hill training session with Lordshill. I would really liked to have joined in, but it’s not really possible when coaching – especially as there’s such a wide ability range in the group.

My mum, aunt and cousin came to visit from Cornwall on Thursday. My mum brought my latest project with her – my dad’s bike. It’s a Raleigh Olympus that dates back to about 1977, so it’s older than I am. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do it up and cycle it in Japan. If that plan doesn’t work out then at least it should help me to develop my bike maintenance skills.

Raleigh Olympus bicycle

Raleigh Olympus bicycle

At the moment, the bike isn’t fit to be ridden. My dad passed away on 23/06/02, so the bike definitely hasn’t been ridden for over 12 years and I would imagine it may have been a few years before then that my dad actually last rode it. I have lots of memories of my dad taking me to playschool on this bike – I had to sit on the crossbar! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get the bike out on a stand in the garden tomorrow and give it a basic clean. Then I’m going to start with the wheels. I need to buy more tyres and innertubes and need to remove the rust from the wheels.

In the evening, all of us went to see Wicked, which is on at the local theatre. I really enjoyed it, although I probably needed an earlier night.

Yesterday, we went up to London to view the poppies at the Tower of London. It is a really clever idea that has clearly captured the public’s imagination. However, many people seem to be under the illusion that the poppies will magically disappear on 11th November and it was also half term, so there were huge crowds at the Tower.

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My mum and two of her four sisters

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This morning, I was Run Director at Southampton parkrun. I think a lot of the local students may have been out at Halloween parties so the event wasn’t as busy as it can sometimes be – there were about 515 runners. None of the very fastest runners seemed to be there. I’m wondering whether they are saving their legs for the Lordshill 10 mile race tomorrow!