Month: October 2014

Its not you its definitely me


It’s been awhile.

Since the carnage of Tenby things have gone a little wrong in my tiny little world of sporting endeavours. Despite the best intentions of having a ‘small’ period of time off from training and then getting back into it with a vengeance, with renewed vigour and determination to be fitter, stronger and better equipped pretty much the exact opposite has happened.

True, I have acquired a rather nice (bloody gorgeous) new bike (well its on order and just awaiting the paperwork to be signed off) and I have all the physical equipment I need to get going again with the plan (feet, legs, arms etc) for world domination next year to right the wrongs of not ending up in a bath with a certain lyrca glad hillbilly.

However it was taken me a lot longer than I thought it would to get over the mental side of things. I am really struggling to get my head back in the ‘game’ and kick things off after my first proper break from training / exercise for the best part of 3 years.

When I started originally it was just to get fit and that’s still the intention now – but I seem to have spent the last 6 weeks attempting to systematically bugger up whatever the base fitness I had. You see I seem to have rediscovered my love of food and my ability to create the environment where I eat and eat and eat and eat.

Smarties for breakfast (not the small packets either – the jumbo christmas edition bad boys), yogurts before bed, biscuits and cakes have increasingly sneaked into my diet, beer has made a (un)welcome return.

Because, you know, I failed in Tenby and how did the old Rob deal with failure – he ate himself silly, to the point where he woke up with no energy, where he struggled to get up and get out the door and never trained. I seemed to fall stumbled off my bike in Tenby and into this vicious circle again.

I have told myself that its ok at the moment – I am on a break, its not cheating if you’re on a break – especailly with nothing to measure yourself against, no target – although if you targeted me on cake consumption I would smash all expectations and possibly records.

I have immersed myself into decorating and taken my mind off training by fulfilling the promises I made when I was training and to busy – finally finishing off repairing the wall which I broke when I fell out of the loft, putting up pictures and spending an ungodly amount of time glossing door frames and skirting boards by example.

But you know what.

I have finished the house now and what have I got to show for it? – Apart from a nice looking house.

I will tell you what, an increased waistline and sore hands (paintbrushes after 10hrs of painting at a go, bloody hurt) and still little desire to train.

I used to look at my bike lovingly whenever I didn’t have time to train or it went more than a couple of days unused. Now it’s sat attached to the turbo trainer like an unloved old toy gathering dust. Since Tenby I have used it for precisely 45 minutes, within which time I marvelled at how big my stomach seemed to be in my bib shorts  and how uncomfortable it was when I got in the aero position. I sweated a bit but it was gentle stuff and I ticked over listening to the radio and then got off, ate two bowls of cereal and had a yogurt.

Brilliant – nothing like a waste of time and being counter-productive in the extreme.

I have entered events to try and get me motivated again but not even the prospect of a sunrise to sunset challenge in December, a half marathon in January or a marathon in March has gotten me out of the slump, I have keenly looked at triathlons for next year and when entries open, spent an evening with fellow 9bar members who are an inspirational bunch of event winners but alas nothing has sparked me into life.

I have completed a few runs, aiming to stay in a low HR zone and due to the weather and my lack of a GPS running watch I have no idea how far I covered and the subsequent lack of pace. But I wasn’t bothered – in fact it was good as it gave me an excuse for not running hard as at the end of it I knew I wasn’t going to have anything to measure it against.

The triathlon fire which once burnt bright in everything I did now barely flickers in the winter gloom. I feel a million miles away from the person who finished Outlaw in 12:43 and uncomfortably close to the overweight one who finished his first 10k in just under an hr with a camelpak on his back.

Tomorrow is another day and now I have come clean to myself and you lot I can start to rebuild my fitness, shrink my guttage again and move forward – hopefully consistently and decidedly quicker than the pace I am currently at.

I have yet to master the food demons I thought i had banished, I think they might be here to stay


Untold riches

I have a little issue.

It’s a nice issue to have don’t get me wrong – however it definitely is an issue and something which I have been kicking around my empty skull on and off for the best part of 6 months now.

I have been authorised by the boss to upgrade the bike somewhat to aid the continued journey forward to at some point be a world champion (just a matter of time lets be honest) I think she is just bored of me complaining every time I break it / it trys to kill me.

I have bored numerous people of the world of twitter and real life with my questions – probing those more knowledgeable than myself for tips, guides and clues to ensure that I pick the best possible bike for the money and the one which fits me the best to ensure that I don’t have to wait too long till the glory comes around.

In-between the ramblings and responses I received from the masses a couple of nuggets have hit home and something of a nerve.

I am not small, I will never be small however I am no longer morbidly obese and I am chipping away at the weight loss still with improved plans going forward between now and the new year to get down to a stoneage band of something which starts with a 14. I haven’t been 14 stone something probably since I was 10, I’m 32.

At 6 foot 1 with broad shoulders and from someone who started out at 22 stone this will likely be the smallest I get and when I get there I will be over the moon.

So its unrealistic to think that I will get any lighter than that – I will always be a bit of a lump in the world of sport and especially long distance triathlon, where most if not everyone generally looks like a whippet.

Now I started doing this wonderful sport to help the weight loss project and keep fit – now I am thinking I need to drop the weight to ensure that I can do ok at events in the future, especially when it comes to the run leg of an Ironman and the cumulative fatigue kicks in.

A new bike and a new body could potentially go hand in hand, but which is more important?

I can spend £3000 on a fancy new (tri) bike (a bike which until recently was £4500 and includes fancy electronic gears) and go only marginally quicker as I have stayed the same weight, or I could drop a stone and continue to ride my current bike and achieve the same perceived marginal gains.

Or I could spend £2300 on a new (road) bike (albeit not as pretty or top end, but still much better than I have got) and look to employ a proper coach for a period of time to hone my nutrition and training.

As part of the Ironman competition I won I got access to a training plan which was quite frankly rubbish – I ended up ignoring the sessions I couldn’t do as they took an age to actually alter the plan to fit my requirements and that puts me off going down any sort of coaching route. But I know many people make massive leaps in terms of performance when they work to a structured and tailored plan which they buy into from the get to. I have a plan of sessions which in terms of times won’t alter much, but I will change discipline as I go along next year. Generally when I am training for an event I don’t find it difficult to keep to the plan and enjoy the challenge I have set myself.

Nutritionally wise apart from just eating more consistently healthily I am at a loss for a proper fuel strategy to enable sustained weight loss whilst training.

I am a bit of a tight wad at the best of times – hence why I am currently spending every waking hr not at work decorating right now (plus its all good brownie points) – and what puts me off going for the more expensive bike is not knowing if I will actually get the best out of it, because I will not be getting the best out of myself. But the fact that it is an ex display model and a ‘bargain’ at the price means I can’t help thinking I won’t get the opportunity again.

My current bike is ok, it has got me round every triathlon I have entered including outlaw and it didn’t miss a beat at Tenby even when I covered it with my insides. Since last January it has covered over 4000 miles – however it looks tired now, it looks like a work horse compared to the flash bikes you see at events. Maybe this is just bike envy rearing its head, but surely an improved bike, with a proper bike fit, will lead to improved times / enjoyment / less fatigue when I start the run leg, regardless if I drop a pound or 14 between now and then.

Could I make the same gains by getting a proper aero helmet and shaving my legs? Some quote the savings for both of them to be 5% each – if so why doesn’t everyone do it? If I fuelled myself better could I carry better speed into the run leg?

My power to weight ratio needs improving that’s for sure, I have known that since May but despite that my bike times are regularly up amongst the higher end (well not high high, just higher than my other splits) of the competitors taking part (16 mins down over the 56 miles at outlaw half compared to the winner) – how far I could close this gap I don’t know, but I always drop like a stone through the filed when the running starts. Least if I could go 5 minutes quicker on the bike and not be as tired getting off it then I might have a chance to sustain a decent pace on the run.

I have ridden the above two bikes and they are very very different to ride, especially the £3k Fuji – I have never ridden a proper tri bike before and it would take some getting used to, but it felt good, it felt quick and when I first saw it in the flesh my first reaction was, rather sadly, wow – not quite love at first site but my god it was lust. It stood out from everything else in the shop, it drew your attention and people starred at it when we were sorting out the set up before I borrowed it.

Maybe I just like attention? Perhaps that’s why I fell out of the loft and drank too much of the ocean.

I haven’t even touched upon the whole road bike vs tri bike debate……

First world problems eh.