A Bit Of Cycling, Swimming And Inevitable Grumpiness

It has now been 4 weeks since I last ran.

The first week I welcomed due to a cold so accepted I needed the rest. The second week I was proper grumpy and psychologically I was in limbo – with just a few weeks until Manchester marathon on 19th April and realistically not enough time to train for it, do I fret over it and do it half heartedly or pull out.

My plan for Manchester was really just to repeat the run/walk session I did 4 weeks ago to further cement that this was a good principle to use physically and nutrition wise for the ultra. After that session I felt the best I’ve felt after a run since Bournemouth in October last year so something was obviously right but I need to test it again.

However, despite how incredibly insane it sounds to say, Manchester was ‘just’ going to be a training run to assess my fitness and practice my nutrition…something I have proved I can do in actual training and therefore not needing a race to do it…I am not willing to risk jeopardising my main goal for the year for what is effectively a training run.

So I have had to accept that I am going to have to pull out of Manchester.

Thank goodness for HERC Triathlon! I was becoming very envious of other members of the triathlon club I have recently joined who have been out on their new bikes and reporting back on the great swim sessions they were given after the last coached swim session, which I didn’t do because I was doing that stupid 5 hour session (It wasn’t a stupid session, it was one of my favourite sessions ever, but this kind of poisonous thinking was not helping)

So having accepted that I can’t yet run, the last couple of weeks have been full of swim and bike sessions which I must say I have loved. I do miss being able to run but I am enjoying the training I am doing and it is keeping my general fitness up, even if my run fitness it fading fast.

However, a  good bit of retail therapy in the form of a shiny new bike (well, technically second-hand but may as well be brand new given how well it was looked after) has taken my mind off not being able to run for a bit. The first proper session on the bike was an hour on the  turbo and I was delighted to discover that my shiny new bike made me go faster. Cue the first selfie of the week!

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I also did my first swimming set session in which I was quite surprised to cover 1.7km. It was good fun breaking the session up into different elements although swimming with the pull buoy does make me feel that I look like Phoebe in Friends when she runs – I am sure (hope) I don’t but I certainly don’t feel very graceful! However, I do love how strong I feel after doing that drill.

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Looking terrified (and completely un-colour-coordinated) before we set off

The most exciting part of the last two weeks was my first long ride on my new bike, which was actually only my fourth ever ride on the road and to say I was terrified beforehand was an understatement. Thankfully I was in safe hands with two very experienced members of the club who not only didn’t leave me behind but gave me lots of encouragement and even helped me sort my puncture (although by helped I mean fixed it all for me…)

Only three months ago I struggled with a 12 mile loop but this ride was just under double that from Havant to home including Portsdown Hill (and other places but I have no idea where we were until we came into Wickham) and feeling less battered than on the 12 miler…I am sure the new bike played a small part in this but seeing as today was my first ride in 3 months yet in that time I have done turbo sessions every week I think that was a much bigger factor and I was delighted with my efforts and relieved that I stayed on my bike….falling OVER the bike doesn’t count…

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View from the top of Portsdown Hill – stunning and well worth the climb.

These said turbo sessions have to be one of my favourite sessions, even over and above some of the running sessions I do and that is saying something (although some run sessions are really horrid!). I have done these alongside my running since November and it not only builds strength on the bike but really compliments my running and has been something I look forward to each week.

I was therefore unimpressed that, for some reason, yesterday’s session was a real struggle, finding my hip/quads almost cramping up. I had to drop down the effort and eventually had to pull out of the session altogether. There have been a few tears over the last few weeks because of the running not going to plan but I’ve manged to hold it together in front of people but the frustration just got the better of me yesterday. I know my reactions to things like this is mostly because I want it so much (combined with a touch of impatience), which is a good trait in some ways, but it is really horrid to try to drag myself out of it.

I was also supposed to be stepping up in the group bike ride today but had to accept advice that this wasn’t a good idea based on the turbo session which, of course, just added to my grumpiness. However, I prepped my bike anyway with the view to cycle to the early swim session and then do a shorter ride afterwards. I was very proud of myself in fact. I cleaned my bike, repaired five holes in the inner tube from last week’s puncture to use as a spare, transferred the pump holder from old bike to the new one and pumped up my tyres. At 9.30pm I was all set for an early night until a sudden loud hissing noise was heard from the hallway….tyre was flat as a pancake.

By 9.45pm I had several comments from the guys on the triathlon Facebook group offering advice on how they could help me in the morning – all very much appreciated but my stubbornness took over and I was adamant that I was going to cycle to the pool and not admit defeat (for the second time that day) so within 25 minutes I had the tyre off, inner tube replaced and pumped up (enough to ride a couple of miles) and back on the bike! Super proud of myself I went to bed happy.

This morning brought the discovery of the tyre flat again and the guys came to my rescue. The rest of the day improved with a great coached swim session and a really enjoyable 12 mile bike ride. I am slowly getting more confident on the bike but do much prefer climbing hills than coming down them (the complete opposite to running) and today was my first ride with the club where I didn’t fall off (or over) my bike!

I am now heading into a week off work which is long overdue. Looking back, the last time I had a proper break was October 2013 so it’s no surprise I’m shattered given everything that has happened since then. Hopefully some rest will recharge my batteries and be the start of my return to running…