I’m Back!!

So I appreciate it has been a little while since I have written anything to put here. I think its now about 4 weeks. Training wise not much has happened as we’ve had a lot of family stuff going on and I spent two weeks at the Police Rehabilitation Centre, Flint House in Goring to get some work done on my shoulder!

As most of you will know, I am a copper, and August was a bit of a reality check when PC Andrew Harper from Thames Valley Police was killed in the line of duty during a shift. The whole idea of “There but by the grace of god” struck home, and so I entered a couple of virtual runs who decided that they would very kindly donate the proceeds to the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) charity and also the fund that was collecting money for the family of PC Harper. One was a 5km and a ‘run to remember’ of 7.605km as PC Harper shoulder number was 7605.

Following these runs, it was time to spend some time with Vick and the rest of the family up in Wales. This year Vick and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary so we planned to spend some time together with a trip to Alton Towers and to Paris. We also spent some wonderful time with these two loons when we were up in Wales

Both are doing really well, with Christina now in school full time! It’s amazing how fast they are both growing up!

And after that there was a trip down to Tenby to watch the other Podium Addict athletes take part in the fantastic Ironman Wales. Even though i couldn’t take part, its always a fantastic atmosphere from singing the anthem on the North Beach at silly o clock in the morning with thousands of other supporters all the way through to the finish line party for Heroes hour!

After we left Tenby, Vick and I headed to Paris for a couple of days to see a certain mouse and his friends! A lovely few days away from everything before coming back home and packing again to go to Flint House and two weeks of intense physio on my shoulder. My physio worked wonders and I’ve got nearly 100% range back in my shoulder, much more strength in it and a new kick start to the winter training!

So here we go!

Flint House, Goring

Vicky and I on our wedding day bacon 2009 wondering what the heck we had just done!
Visiting The Mouse!

And oh yeah, while I was away I also got a lovely new running top t add to the collection…..

“Some sessions are stars and some are stones, but in the end they are all rocks and we build upon them.”— Chrissie Wellington

So another week done and it was a bit of a mis mash, meh week.

I started back at work going out on the streets on Monday for the first time since before I damaged my shoulder and it was a long day, an early start and a late finish, so come Tuesday when I finished work on time and came home, I fell asleep on the settee, not good, but the body obviously needed it. But it was a missed session.

Wednesdays Swift was done and then training peaks was having a nightmare,and work was a little bit all over the place and before I knew it, it was Saturday with only one green tile in the whole week.

Unhappy TrainingPeaks

And then, Saturday came around, and it was good! I took Vicky out for her park run debut and we did a minute on minute off run around the course, Vick enjoyed it and the plan with our new jobs that mean we have weekends off is for Parkrun to become a regular event for the both of us as Vicky plan is to be fit for florida by training for her first ever Trialthon next year!

But, then work happen again, another long day meant I didn’t get into bed until gone 4am on Sunday morning so it was a few hours sleep, dressed and back into work. (sorry but sometimes work will feature in this Blog but I can’t really say too much about it due to the nature of some of the jobs I deal with!)

But there we go, a poor week of training done, and a catch up with Gemma scheduled for this week. Seeing it on Training Peaks kind of makes me feel like I have been summonsed to the Head Teachers office!

So here’s to another green week coming up as the clock ticks on and the weeks to Ironman tick by….

“Running is real and relatively simple… but it ain’t easy.”

So here we are, the end of another week of training, a Green week on Training Peaks and my first ever Park Run.

Green week of Training

I have never been the biggest fan of running, my preferred parts of the Triathlon was Cycling, Swimming and Running. Every now and then, I’d start to understand running, understand why people are so obsessed with it, and I’d get jealous as I never had that connection with my running shoes.. but, I am hoping to reach that point, and ParkRun seems to have this addictive quality to it. I’m hoping, that along with a new shift pattern, that is pretty much Monday to Friday I can start to make it a regular part of my training.

ParkRun

So this week, consisted of a couple of Zwift rides, another attempt at a FTP that went much better than my last attempt and ParkRun. The shoulder held up well, a little bit of pulling feeling in it, but nothing too drastic and no major chances to pre running.

And thats another week of training done, and as promised, here is Sam, the second coach at Podium Addict, who by all accounts can have a very sadistic side…..

Sam

SAM

I’ve been coaching people informally for a number of years. When Gemma and I got chatting it was the obvious move to make it official, we’ve both got buckets of experience and been on the receiving end of great, good and very bad coaching.

We share the same passion for triathlon but it goes way beyond that, its the passion to help others get better and achieve their potential. It seems daft but the hardest part for us was coming up with a name!


I’m still pushing my own limits in order to find ways to develop our athletes, I am a firm believer of not asking someone to do a session I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself!

I realise that not everyone can dedicate their life to training and my coaching philosophy reflects that, there is after all, more to life than training and triathlon.


I’ve ticked a lot of boxes along the way to here. I’ve represented GB at World and European level, raced over 10 Ironmans (including a sub 10hr and the biggest long course race on the planet), countless 70.3’s, joined the Brotherhood of Ventoux, cycled non-stop from Glasgow to Land’s End and raced 24hr enduro mountain bike events.


I do the odd bit of sailing where my swim training occasionally comes in useful and used to help run a charity for Injured Servicemen, some of whom have gone onto complete an Ironman.

Because the next few months will go by no matter if you work out or not…. Make them count!

Sorry it’s a little later than planned but it was a bit of a mish-mash week last week and the weekend did not go as I planned at all!

It was another set of Zwift for the week getting ready to come back to work at the beginning of this week, couple of mid-week sets with an Endurance set to start me off and a 1 hour Torque session to get the legs going ready for a strict Zone 2 ride on Saturday and a 90 minute Free Ride on the Sunday. 

Training Peaks with the evil Red tiles

Well Saturday Vick and  had arranged a while ago to go and meet some friends for a BBQ, and I was going to get on the Zwift when we came home, but we stayed out a lot later (no alcohol involved!) and got back far too late and I was just knackered! So off went that set, cue Sundays 90 minute ride, and I woke up feeling like absolute pants! Remember, there was no alcohol involved on Saturday, so no it was not self-inflicted! I had a pounding headache all day that I could not get rid of, and just felt generally pants, so that’s why this blog wasn’t written either as I really couldn’t sit or stare at a computer screen!

So that was the week training done, I have come back to work on recuperative duties, and sent off my application to go to Flint House, the Police Rehabilitation Centre, https://flinthouse.co.uk/ so that they can hopefully work their magic on my shoulder, which means back to training properly, and no being tied to a desk at work! Flint House is an amazing facility that I have heard nothing but great things about, apparently the food is pretty decent as well! That will make a nice change to any normal ‘job’ catering!

So there we are, given that it was not a lot stuff going on last week, I thought I’d use this opportunity in the blog to introduce the coaches from Podium Addict https://www.podiumaddict.com/and my actual coach Gemma, (Podium Addict have two coaches, so when one is away there is always someone to look after us! I will introduce Sam in next weeks blog – wouldn’t want him getting jealous, he has some quite brutal ideas in his head apparently!) 

Gemma

GEMMA (@gemsieM on twitter)

I love coaching, every athlete is unique, they encounter new challenges and react to training differently. This is what makes my job so enjoyable.

Coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all umbrella. I’ve been under that umbrella myself and found it frustrating that my training plan wasn’t really designed for me. This inspired me to take my coaching qualifications and learn how to do it properly; how to understand athletes needs and how to create a training plan that meets the athletes short, medium and long term goals.

It’s also really important to have fun and be in a community, triathlon can be a lonely sport which is why it’s important to us to have our Podium Addict Race Team!

My first year of triathlon saw me compete at the GBR (AG) Worlds and Europeans in Aquathlon and Sprint then later the Standard distance. I went on to race in several different countries and started to increase my distance. I won Silver at the Triathlon England Middle Distance Championships and Bronze at the Aquathlon Champs and have finished in the top 10 overall women at the Long Course Weekend in Wales.

I also race track and am a regular at the Velodrome.

Ironman is now my favored discipline, I love the challenges and emotions, the mental game and most of all, the feeling that “Anything Is Possible” as soon as you cross that finish line.

“Strive for progress, not perfection.” – Unknown

So another week on the bike, more Zwift, more miles in the legs and a FTP test yesterday before a Free Ride this morning.

Today, is of course Ride London so my free ride on Zwift this morning was done around the streets of London seeming I’ve had more success in the London Marathon Ballot than I have Ride London! There just was no lap of box hill and no 0630 start time! There was however a 200m sprint down the Mall to which I now have a benchmark at 36 seconds! Ok not great but I am still learning Zwift and I think i started sprinting far too early before I realised the start line was the green dotted line on the 200m mark!

Swift Free Ride around the London Classic Route

It also turns out that I shouldn’t have had the ERG on during the FTP test (FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power, which is commonly defined as the highest average power you can sustain for an hour, measured in watts. FTP is often used to determine training zones when using a power meter and to measure improvement) So after speaking to Gemma I get to do it all again next week!

Garmin Heart Rate graph during the FTP test

So there we are, a shot blog this week as it was another short week of training. We’re hopefully going to start adding in some running this week and see how the shoulder feels as I get ready to go back to work some 5 weeks post Long Course Weekend!

Another Green Week, some more miles in the legs and the weeks until Ironman UK 2020 tick down…..

50 Weeks until IM-UK

So here we are, week one done and 50 weeks until Ironman UK 2020….

I’m still struggling with my shoulder and have been signed off by the GP for another two weeks, so while speaking to Gemma, it has been a week on the turbo, my first weak on Zwift so I can get the legs spinning with no pressure on the shoulder. Running with a sling is a no no, probably because everyone is worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep my balance and I ended up stacking it and buggering up my shoulder even more, it seems that I have somehow got a reputation for being a bit accident prone. I’m not sure where that has come from? It was always Vick who was known as Bambi!

With it being week one, and given the set of up the TT bike, the ability to change gears with just the one hand, and the more options for positioning, I set rogue on the turbo and had my first venture into the world of Swift, and my what a sweaty bucket of fun that is! Using the sets given to me by Gemma on TrainingPeaks that is linked to my Swift account, Gemma can really control what she wants me to get out of the set.

Rogue on the turbo

And that was the gist of week one. Three sets on the turbo and a green week on TrainingPeaks . It was a light training week, but there are some more miles in the legs, some more hours in the saddle and some more weight lost.

So given that this was a light week of training, I thought I might use this part of the blog to explain more about Cystic Fibrosis. It’s a condition that I’ll be honest, I and my family knew very little about it until Christina was born in 2015 and it wasn’t until she was 3 weeks old that she was diagnosed.

Now i can’t begin to explain what those first few days and weeks were like for Vick and I coming to terms with this news, so I daren’t imagine what it must have been like for my sister, Jay! We had a lot to learn, and my sister was well supported by the Health Visitor, and the hospital staff were amazing, and Christina soon had her own little team at the hospital that would be with us all every step of this very steep learning curve. Jay was quickly put in touch with the amazing people at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust (https://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk) who spoke to her on the phone and they were even kind enough to phone me and Vick and talk about the condition.

So what is CF?

Cystic Fibrosis is a life limiting genetic condition that effects over 10,000 people in the UK. With around 1 in 25 people carrying the defective gene. It is also one of the most common life-threatening inherited diseases in the UK. Statistics say that 1 in every 2,500 babies born in the the UK will be born with Cystic Fibrosis and it effects around 100,000 people in th world.

The condition itself effects the internal organs, namely the lungs and digestive system causing them to become clogged with a thick sticky mucus that can lead to chronic infections, inflammation of the lungs and difficulty digesting food.

At the moment there is no cure for CF, it can only be treated and managed. This means daily physio, a cocktail of regular medication, and other medications as and when required such as nebulisers and stronger antibiotics.

Christina, and now Amelia, who was also born with the condition in 2018 have a well established routine of daily physio, meal time routines and a very active lifestyle to help keep the mucus shifting!

And that is only a very brief overview of the condition, please, please, please go and have a look at the CF Trusts website for more detailed information about it! https://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk

And that in a snap shot is why I am really getting my backside into gear to help the CF Trust help Christina and Amelia and every other family around the world living day in day out with this condition and until CF means Cure Found…..

Amelia, Jay & Christina

That triathlon isn’t going to train for itself…

So here we go, again….

The last time I entered Ironman UK, I made it to the start line at Pennington Flash, and I had, by my standards a pretty decent first lap, but it all went wrong on the second. When my race day finished sitting in T1 with concussion after taking a foot to the head during the second lap of the swim my day was over, some 14 hours earlier than I expected it to be. 

That was in 2016, about 12 months after my niece, Christina was born and diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Since then, despite the best of intentions, I’ve never made it to the start line of another Ironman or triathlon. I’ve entered them and deferred or withdrawn because I wasn’t pulling my finger out with the training, there was always an excuse, a cancelled rest day at work, a late off and getting home at 3am from work when I promised myself that I would be in the pool at 0630 when it opened. There was always something else going on.

Then last year, when I entered IronMan Wales, Gemma (@GemsieM on Twitter – sorry not clever enough to know how to link her handle) who I knew from my pervious coach, had just completed her Triathlon Coaching qualifications and had set up her own online coaching team Podium Addict (https://www.podiumaddict.com) and I jumped on board.

I thought I had my mojo back, talking to Gemma was getting me excited about triathlon again, and she was keen to get me back to collecting some bling, so I signed up for my first ‘race’ a two mile swim in the Cotswolds, and it went well. A lovely weekend camping with Vicky (the better half) and a lovely warm 2 mile Open Water (OW) swim, I thought I was back on it! Amazing what the infectious influence Gemma – and the rest of the Podium Addict group can do. But then BANG, something happened at work (and this isn’t the place to talk about it, those who know me, know what happened and that’s as much as I am going to say) and it knocked me. I was advised by many, many people to take some time off work and I thought I’d fill that time with training but I couldn’t. There was too much going on in my head to switch off and commit to the training. I probably went back to work a bit too soon, but hey, that’s another story. Then before I knew it, it was Christmas, I was on an attachment at work that came with a LOT of overtime, and the sort of work where we couldn’t go home until the job was done. Add into that studying for my promotion exam and then we are in March – remember I said about how there was always something else going on? I would go through fits and starts of having a really good couple of weeks training then losing my mojo again

https://thelongroadtoironmansport.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/image1.jpeg

Then came the Long Course Wales Weekend. A weekend of swimming, cycling and running. The first event, and my first since the Cotswolds swim in 2017, was the Sea Swim in the North Bay in Tenby, an absolute stunning place for a swim, and the course that is used by Ironman Wales. My first sea swim, and I was petrified of Jellyfish! Cue seeing all the pictures on social media and all the talk about how the swim would be like the scene from Finding Nemo where Dory bounces off the tops! The swim was a nightmare, to say the least, and that was in a picture perfect calm sea! I was expecting to be done in about 45-50 minutes, it had taken me double the time I told Vick to expect me in, and from my Garmin, not only did it take me twice as long as I did nearly twice the distance of the planned 1.9km!

So, swim done, bling in the bag and Pizza back at the tent, I set up my bag ready for the 70 mile sportive around Pembrokeshire the following morning.

70 miles turned into 20 and ended up with me in a hedge, and it turns out with a bit of a boo-boo on my shoulder. Long story short, after 8 hours sat in a local A&E – nothing broken however I had damaged the ligament between my collar bone and shoulder, so that was the weekend over and a few weeks in a sling to limit it’s movement while the ligament heals. And if it was ever in any doubt after the disastrous sea swim the night before, Ironman Wales was also out of the window.

So that’s where we are now. I am sitting at home, typing up a blog very gingerly and after talking at length with Vick and Gemma, I am going back to Bolton and Ironman UK with its lake swim in Pennington Flash.

That is where this blog comes in. I’m going to use this as a number of things, a training record, a progress report, sharing what goes into Ironman training alongside working full time as a police officer, sharing some of Gemma and Sam’s training sets, and also an extra layer of accountability. I’m also planning on doing some more fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust –https://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk/ – but that’s a long way away yet, but I will try and highlight some of the work that they do and more about what living with Cystic Fibrosis entails, because I’ll be honest, before Christina and her sister Amelia, born in 2018, were diagnosed with the condition I knew nothing about it! 

The plan is to write a new blog each week, to be published on a Sunday with what I have been doing, what training I have done, what has happened and any reasons why I have missed something. I’ll show you what my Training Peaks account looks like and hopefully plenty of green tiles!

So there we are, I suppose if you have stayed with me this far, I should tell you some more about me.

I am Rich, a 34 year old copper in the Metropolitan Police. I am overweight, 17 stone and have been married to Vick for 10 years! And that’s about it I suppose! I am sure you will get to know me better in the coming weeks and months.

So there we go, tomorrow, the 22nd July entries open again for Ironman UK – Bolton and I start training again slowly with Gemma and some Turbo Sessions while I’m still in a sling!

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