Tag Archives: training

Friday Five – Five ways to deal with illness when you’re training for an event

4 Mar

No-one wants to be ill or injured, but it can be especially frustrating to spend several months training hard for an event and then find that you fall ill. Injuries happen and how you return to training after an injury will depend on its severity and how close to your event you are.

A week before we were due to do Ironman Dublin 70.3, my husband and I each went out for a gentle training ride. I went out with two friends and he went out alone as he’s much faster than me. After 25 miles of cycling, one of my friends had to go home. We stopped and posed for some photos and then my husband arrived. At first I was pleased to see him… until I realised that he was covered in blood. He had swerved to avoid a pothole, hit some gravel and crashed, tearing his calf muscle. His race was over 😦

With a scenario like that, there isn’t much that can be done, but what if you have a cold or other illness? What steps can you take to get back on track?


1. Get well

It’s really important that you don’t try to push on with your training through illness. When training for my last marathon, I thought I was fatigued because of my volume of training and had no idea that I had glandular fever (mono). I felt exhausted all of the time and struggled to do all of my training runs. On the day I also suffered and it put me off from doing any more marathons.

Many people argue that it’s fine to train with a head cold, but that if your symptoms are below the neck (throat infections, chesty coughs) then you should rest. Also if you have to take antibiotics, then you should take things easy.

Treat yourself kindly – drink plenty of fluids, eat well and sleep as much as you need to.


2. Don’t try to make up for lost time

Many people try to ‘catch up’ what they have missed, but fitting in extra long runs or rides, which can lead to injuries or severe fatigue.

Consider the sessions that you have missed. Anything that is relatively easy was probably on your schedule to keep you ‘ticking over’ and to help contribute to your overall mileage/training hours for the week, so don’t worry about those sessions. The hard sessions are usually progressive, so it will depend on how far you are into your build up as to how essential these were.

If you are an experienced athlete (training consistently for six months or more) then your VO2max (fitness) will not change significantly with a week (or slightly more) of inactivity, so you may be able to pick up where you were before you were ill.


3. Ease yourself back into training

When you are ready to go back to training, you may feel that you are able to function at your previous level, but you need to consider the frequency, duration and intensity of your workouts, otherwise you may get ill again. No-one likes a yo-yo illness!

It’s a good idea to leave your Garmin at home and just run by feel, so that you don’t push yourself too hard. If you can’t bear the thought of running naked, try training on heart-rate rather than pace.


4. Review your remaining schedule

This links on from point 3. If you fall ill during the base building section of your training plan (rather than the competitive) section then you may be able to pick up where you left off. However, if you are ill during the competitive second half of your schedule then you may need to drop back a little and then re-plan the final few weeks of your plan.

Remember not to increase your training by more than 10% a week.


5. Adjust your goals

If you are ill early in your training schedule, then it may not have an impact on your race, but if you are ill for an extended period or very close to your event then you may need to readjust your goals.

Can you safely make it to the start line? If so, consider what a realistic goal is. It may be completion rather than a personal best.

Remember that finishing a race with a smile on your face, feeling inspired to set yourself a new goal is much better than giving everything, missing your goal and making yourself so fatigued that you can’t get back out and train.

Finally, you may want to minimise your chances of getting ill in the first place – ‘Don’t let colds and flu stop you training‘ (from 220 Triathlon) gives some tips on strengthening your immune system.

Have you had to deal with illness in the run up to an event? How did you deal with it?

#SwoleMates: Why working out with your partner is the best thing ever

21 Feb

I recently answered some questions for the fantastic Laura Farman-Williams, founder of Girls Gone Sporty, and was really excited to end up in her finished article about the benefits of training with your partner.


I’d strongly recommend that you check out the article: #SwoleMates: Why working out with your partner is the best thing ever

Do you train with your partner? Why/why not?

Can you change your triathlon performance in 8 hours?

15 Dec

Chances are you’ve carefully planned your training schedule to help you reach peak performance for your A race, whenever it comes in the season. You may also be working on a nutrition plan, so that you are at your optimum weight… and all whilst working and juggling family commitments (and possibly study).

For many people this means compromises.

For me, it often results in less sleep.

… and this can have a detrimental effect on my triathlon performance.

So, is it worth training hard and eating right if I neglect my recovery time and don’t sleep enough?

A recent scare story (loosely based on a report using Australia’s well-known 45 and Up public health data) suggested that sleeping more than 9 hours a night could be detrimental to health

Sleeping more than nine hours a night – combined with sitting too much during the day and a lack of exercise – can be just as bad for you as smoking and drinking alcohol.

However, what wasn’t made clear was that this just referred to people who do under 2.5 hours of exercise a week – something that is unlikely to apply to triathletes.

Are you a superstar snoozer?

Sleep & Sports (final)(1)

Infographic from: http://www.mattressnextday.co.uk/

If you want more information about sleep, you might enjoy this BBC site: Which five things ruin a good night’s sleep?

How many hours sleep do you get? How many hours do you think you need? What are your top tips for a good night’s sleep?

Tiring training weekend

2 Aug

On Thursday evening, I was excited about trying out my new wetsuit at Lakeside. However, a series of minor disasters (including leaving my phone at work and finding that the building code wouldn’t let me in) meant that I almost didn’t make it. By the time I arrived at the lake at 7pm, it was already getting cooler. It has rained quite a lot in the last week and I was surprised by how much colder the lake felt. I spent a little while acclimatising and then decided to head off for a speedy first lap.

The first time that Stuart wore his new wetsuit (a 19 Rogue), he found that he swam significantly faster than in his 2XU T:2, so I was hoping for a similarly magical result. Sadly, it was not to be. I did my first lap in 7:30, which isn’t any faster than I normally swim. I decided that perhaps it was because I hadn’t warmed up, so I swam a second lap. It was slower. I decided to really go for it on my third lap and felt like I was doing well, until an incredibly competitive man decided to try to swim over me. I really don’t understand why someone would do this in training. I felt the man’s hands on my feet, then my ankles, my knees and my lower back… at which point I started kicking like hell. The swimmer did not miss a stroke and just carried on. Given that there were only a few people in the lake, there was absolutely no need for this to happen, but I saw the same swimmer do it again to another fairly weak swimmer. I don’t know what kind of kick he was getting from it, but it wasn’t training that I wanted.

I’m not sure whether it was the cold water, the new wetsuit being less warm or my general tiredness, but in the end, I decided that four laps was enough.

I had Friday off work, so I did a lot of housework/garden work, which involved getting soaked with the pressure washer. I had forgotten how much of a workout it is to use one of those!

On Saturday morning, Stu and I went to Southampton parkrun. I haven’t seen Teri for weeks, so it was lovely to see her there. I asked whether she was going for a social run or a fast run, and she suggested that it might be possible to do both. Yet again, I had failed to bring my inhaler, so I wanted to be careful. I struggled as I got towards the top of the hill, but Teri encouraged me to keep up. I recovered a bit on the downhill and managed to maintain my pace. Clare caught up with us, so I had a chat with her and Teri picked up the pace a bit. Towards the end, Clare asked whether I wanted to pick up the pace. I said I would when I got onto the gravel. Clare soon sprinted past me, and I just did the best I could, but it was a mistake. After crossing the line there is a slow walk to get your token – I started feeling dizzy, so I stepped out of the line and lay on the grass, breathing heavily. I felt really rough and realised that I shouldn’t have pushed as hard. The good news was that I had managed a reasonable time and my Garmin showed an average pace of 4:59/km, which made me smile.

Southampton parkrun 1st Aug 2015

Unfortunately, the consequence of my hard run was that I felt ill all day and kept feeling really dizzy. I had such a headache, even though I kept drinking lots of water 😦

This morning, I felt much better, so I cycled up to the Common to meet Teri and Roelie for a 90km ride. On the way out of Southampton, we had to stopped as the traffic meant that Roelie was unable to cross the road. Unfortunately, I failed to unclip and had an unplanned dismount 😦 Luckily, I wasn’t injured – just a tiny bruise on my hand, a big bruise on my left leg and a dent in my pride. It was also a bit of a nutrition fail as I had packed a small bottle of protein shake in my jersey pocket and managed to squash it – oops!

We headed out towards Beaulieu and then towards Buckler’s Hard. It’s a route that I particularly like as it’s relatively traffic free, so it means it’s easy to ride as a group and have a conversation. It’s also quiet and beautiful. Partway round, we saw Stu coming in the opposite direction, which was nice. We stopped for a very brief break, where I opened my packet of salt and pepper nuts – yummy. I also dropped my mobile phone, but luckily Teri spied it before we cycled off.

Teri only had enough time for one loop, so we stopped for a quick selfie at Beaulieu:

Selfie with Teri and Roelie

Selfie with Teri and Roelie

As we were on the grass verge, Stu pulled over. Sadly, he had also had an accident and had some bad cuts and bruises on his arm and leg. This evening he is limping badly, which is really sad – I hope he recovers in time for Dublin.

Stu and Teri headed for home whilst Roelie and I cycled around for another loop. I was pleased that I wasn’t feeling tired, although I definitely wasn’t cycling at race pace. on the way back, Jonathan cycled past at quite a speed and then as we neared Eling, I saw Jules and another DHC cyclist… I think Jules must have been on his way to one of his favourite haunts – The Old Bakehouse tearoom!

When I got back to Southampton, I cycled back up to The Common with Roelie to ensure that by the time I got home I had done 90k πŸ™‚



2 Nov

I recently read about TriHabitat online. It describes itself as “the world’s first and only self-contained endurance sports racing and training venue.”

Plans for TriHabitat

Plans for TriHabitat

According to the blurb:

TriHabitat will contain a specially designed 25 acre spring-fed lake for swimming, a 14 mile paved bike loop, a 6.5 mile paved run loop, and a state-of-the-art permanent transition area featuring individual stations. The venue will include five stadiums, constructed from natural earth mounding, providing spectators with the ultimate viewing experience. Permanent lifeguard stations, a centralized bike course pit area, and permanent run course aid stations elevate the race experience. A vendor and expo village provides tent space and power hookups for event sponsors and merchants and a large covered pavilion is an ideal post-race gathering place.

Lodging options at TriHabitat will include a 20 room lodge and conference center, a collection of rustic cabins, and a 50 site motorhome park with full hook-ups.

TriHabitat will host a multitude of endurance events, including triathlons of various distances during a typical calendar year. The facility will also be open daily on a year-round basis for training, camps, clinics and other activities. In addition to triathlons, TriHabitat also expects to produce a variety of other events such as kayak races, open water swims, bike time trials, and obstacle course races.

It sounds fantastic, although I’m surprised that the lodge is so small, as I would imagine that far more people would want to stay at the venue. Each of the twenty rooms will have two queensize beds in it (marginally larger than UK kingsize); it would seem more sensible to have more rooms each with a large bed in it, rather than pairs of beds, but this seems to be a common US convention.

It would be great to stay at a venue like this for a training holiday – especially if your planned event were to take place here.

Would you want to stay at a venue like this?

Tracking and track-ing

10 Jun

Today has been a really beautiful sunny day, so I’ve made the most of it. This morning, I had to cycle down to the Oceanography Centre for work (which was exciting as I got to see some really cool stuff linked with a work project), but the real bonus was that I then had to cycle all of the way across the city at about 11:30am, so I got to enjoy some of the sunshine.

I’ve also been #TWIETing today:


Chocolate brownie porridge

Chocolate brownie porridge

Oats, raisins, cocoa powder and almonds (there were no walnuts in the cupboard!)


Salad with carrots, spring onions (scallions), spinach, lettuce, radish, tomatoes and hummus.

Salad with carrots, spring onions (scallions), spinach, lettuce, radish, tomatoes and hummus.

An apple (with my brand new apple!)

An apple (with my brand new apple!)


No photos, but a sharon fruit/persimmon and some toast.


Vegetable stirfry with tofu and a peanut sauce

Vegetable stir fry with tofu and a peanut sauce

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for an entire week now and am into the final couple of weeks of my WW membership, so I went along tonight for my Weigh In. The tracking has obviously helped me as I’ve lost 2.5lbs πŸ™‚ I hope I can maintain my momentum as I’m back under 11 stone again – I’m 10st 12lbs (152lbs)… only 26lbs to lose, how hard can that be? πŸ˜‰

So, from tracking to track-ing… This evening, I went along to the first Tri Club track session. I quite enjoy running at the track, and it doesn’t cost me anything, which is great. I also thought that it would help to mix up my training and I might meet some new people. Finally, I’ve grumbled a bit before that my Tri Club mainly functions as a swimming club, with a few rides organised (at times, locations and paces that don’t suit me) and absolutely no running, so I felt that I should support this endeavour.

A mix of people from Tri Club turned up, but I recognised most of them which was good. I was definitely at the back of the pack, but I hadn’t really expected anything else. Also, an advantage of track running is that you’re never far from the other runners and after a while it’s hard to know what lap anyone is on!

The track was very busy when we arrived, so we went for a 1 mile warm up outside of the track. Then, on our return, we did some drills, including high knees, butt flicks and fast feet. Then it was on to the main set 6x600m. We were meant to be doing them at 5k pace, but I went out at what Steve Prefontaine would refer to as ‘suicide pace’, which wasn’t wise and I paid for it later. How on earth did I think I could maintain 3:19/km?!! I averaged 5:12/km for the entire set, which is faster than my current 5k pace, but I know the last couple were very slow… and I want to see all of them start with a 4! Overall, I really enjoyed being at the track, but I think I need to push myself harder.

Do you like track running? Is it something that is readily available for you to do? (It costs Β£3+ per session here).


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?

Day 3 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports

3 May

There was a slight change to the original schedule as we had already visited the sports shop, so the core class was moved to Saturday.

Saturday's plan

Saturday’s plan

After eating some porridge, some of the group decided to cycle to the lake. I was still injured, so I made the sensible decision to go to the lake in the minibus and I didn’t swim as I knew I would be unable to put my wetsuit on. I was bitterly disappointed as I really wanted to be able to show how much my swimming had improved since November.

The lake looked beautiful: calm and clear. About 200m out were some rocks, which made a convenient turning point.

The lake

The lake

I watched everyone get into the water and do some laps. I had been told that the lake was quite shallow, but was surprised when I was able to see Graeme standing near to the rocks.

Alan and Stu at the lake

Alan and Stu at the lake


Jonno, Neill and Bernadette


Helen and Louise

I went for a walk around the lake and was amused by the signs prohibiting swimming. The coaches had already mentioned that we would see these and that as part of an organised group, we would be perfectly safe and that there was no reason why we shouldn’t swim.

No swimming!

No swimming!

Kat, Graeme and Neil

Kat, Graeme and Neil

Some people said they thought the lake was very cold, but when I dipped my hand in, I thought it felt significantly warmer than Lakeside.

When we got back, some people used the hot tub. It was suggested that it might help my arm, but I couldn’t face trying to get changed again as it was painful.

hot tub party

Helen, Poppy, Alex, Kat, Jonno and Elena

After lunch, Neil went through some basic bike maintenance with us. I’ve watched people demonstrate how to replace an inner tube on many occasions now, but I’ve never had to do it myself (and hope that I never have to!) Neil also explained about how to ensure that your brakes are set up correctly.

Bike maintenance 101 with Neil

Bike maintenance 101 with Neil

In the afternoon, everyone went out for a 35km bike ride to visit the larger lake in the vicinity. Unfortunately, my arm was too painful for me to join them, so I just stayed at the farmhouse. After everyone had gone, I realised that I should have asked for my bike to be put on the turbo trainer. Instead, I took the opportunity to organise some of my possessions and laundry as well as reading some emails.

Trip to the lake without me

Trip to the lake without me

I felt quite sad that I was missing out on the fun, but hoped that some rest would mean that I could join in with everything the next day.

I changed into my running clothes, so that I would be able to join in with the brick run, but it wasn’t easy as my arm throbbed with every step. It was a 50 minute session:

  • 15 minute warm up
  • 10×1 minute hard with equal recovery
  • 15 minute warm down

We then had a core session with Kat. I was unable to do a plank, as I couldn’t put weight on my arm, but I was able to join in with most of the class, which helped to make me feel like I was part of the group again.

Core Pyrenees

In the evening we went out for dinner in a French restaurant. As expected, there wasn’t really a choice for vegetarians – fortunately, I now eat omelettes, so I was OK. I was also good and resisted dessert as I didn’t feel that I had earned it.

French restaurant

French restaurant 2

I enjoyed getting to know Elena and Alex, the Russian couple, a bit more. It was really interesting to learn that they are Event Directors of Moscow parkrun and that parkrun has changed their lives in the same way that it has changed mine!

Nearly 35

15 Feb

In 9 days time I will be 35 and I’m dissatisfied with my life. Despite losing weight before my 30th birthday, I’ve put nearly all of it back on and I’m not as fit as I’d like to be, so I’ve decided to set myself a five-year challenge:


This is going to be a massive challenge for me. I will have 17 hours to:

  • swim 2.4 miles
  • cycle 112 miles
  • run 26.2 miles

I’m already a runner, so the marathon seems like the easy bit at the moment. I run most days and have completed two marathons. I’m currently training for Paris Marathon in April 2013. However, I am not a good runner; I’m just enthusiastic. My RunBritain ranking is on the slide from a high of 16.9 in April 2012 to today’s low of 17.9 – exactly where it was a year ago 😦

I cycle to work every day… BUT that’s only about 5k/3 miles. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really cycled further than 10 miles before. I have entered Winchester Duathlon on 17/03/13, so I’d better get on my bike!!!

I try to swim before work at least three days a week… BUT until December, I had never put my face in the water and I can only do breaststroke and backstroke. I had a swimming assessment this week and am going to start swimming lessons on my 35th birthday. I was told to go into the intermediate group, but it’s full, so I’m plunging into the advanced group – eek!

Another facet of this challenge is that in order to swim/cycle/run well, I need to eat more healthily and lose weight. I currently weigh 10st 13lb (69.4kg). I want to get back to weighing 9st (57kg).

I was motivated to attempt this challenge by going on an amazing running holiday in The Algarve led by Embrace Sports. I am hoping that I may be able to go on a triathlon holiday in October/November, but I need to work on my swimming ability and confidence by then.

I may enter a triathlon this summer, but it will depend on whether I can improve my swimming to a good enough standard. I will also need to learn to swim in open water. I hope that I can enter Ferndown try-a-tri. This triathlon would be convenient as it is where my in-laws live and the short distance means that I think my husband may be persuaded to enter with me. It’s a 400m pool swim, 11.5 mile bike ride and 5k run. My nieces and nephews may evne be interested in enter the children’s events.

I currently record all of my running on my Garmin 405cx. Occasionally, I use it on my bike. I upload all of my data to Garmin Connect – I’m listed as Tamsyn Smith.

I’m hoping that along the way I will run a sub 25 minute 5k and also complete an ultramarathon. I’m tempted by the Classic Quarter as it is an ultra that is close to where I’m from.

I’ve taken out a trial subscription to 220 Triathlon in the hope that it will keep me inspired.

I’m ladies captain of Lordshill Road Runners (Southampton’s friendliest running club) and I receive running coaching from Ant Gritton a triathlete who runs Run Camp.