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Tag Archives: triathlon

Swimming paddles… whats the point?!

A bugbear of mine whilst swimming at my pool is people who use hand or finger paddles! Personally I just don’t see the point of them, and the use of them by swimmers on a Sunday morning lane swimming session really annoys me…!

I understand what they are used for, swimmers can increase their (stroke) strength by using them. However I strongly feel that they are counter productive (especially for a Sunday morning swimmer, who judging by their body-type does not undertake any other form of strength or conditioning training!).

  • Firstly, you will never be able to use them during any event or race
  • The sudden added resistance could potentially cause an injury in the very complex shoulder joint
  • Your technique changes when wearing/using them, but will that really benefit your stroke when you don’t have them on? (I can see people just slipping back to their usual technique when not using them!)
  • It could mask (and even promote) a poor technique because your times are good due to the extra force they create…

Personally I feel that casual swimmers simply use them as an ego boost at the pool, and it really bugs me when lane swimming in a busy pools’ fast lane that those users don’t space themselves, insisting on banging into my feet for the few lengths (at a time) they wear these things for. It doesn’t prove anything, and for the rest of the swim I simply adjust my stroke or starting space accordingly so as not to impact on their swim (as generally I am faster than them over a sustained swimming distance).

For me it is far more important and sensible to work on several stroke techniques, one for powerful strokes to sprint or create extra lift when you need to, and one for endurance and efficiency, keeping energy in the arms whilst maintaining a decent pace over distance. To enable me to develop my power I have been supplementing my swimming with a varied strength and flexibility training program, which is seeing real positive gains in the pool/lake/sea whilst greatly restricting any injury issues…

I’m no expert, but I’m starting to dread my pool sessions because of these people… I hope they aren’t out in force tomorrow morning!

Rant over… 😉

Paul.

P.S. I would love to hear what swimmers reading this think, please leave a comment… do you use paddles? 🙂

 
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Posted by on 31 August, 2013 in Injury, Swimming, Triathlon

 

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Triathlon BRICK training, and more learning to ride a road bike

On the weekend I decided to get some more miles under me on the bike, deciding just before setting off it should be a ‘BRICK’ training session. The term is used for training two consecutive disciplines into one session for Triathlon training, namely ‘B’ike, ‘R’un, ‘ICK’ (feeling sick!). It is quite tough, but I also find it quite an interesting experience! I am yet to try proper Bricks, where you do several sets of each in turn, I think I’ll build up to that… 😉

The legs feel very heavy when starting the run, however even though I feel like I’m going slower than what I call my ‘race pace’ for running, all three times I have tried this I have been surprised to find afterwards that I am faster than my race pace! It’s an odd phenomenon!

This time I decided to run a quarter of the distance I cycle, which is roughly the distances that most triathlon split into. As I have a nice regular running loop from home of 3 miles, I chose to cycle away (along the cycle path to the Bristol-Bath cycle path) for 6 miles, turn back and then attempt a quick transition in the garage and get straight out onto the run.

As I am very much still a beginner on the road bike, I am still sticking mostly to the cycle pathways, of which I am lucky to live very near some long ones. However this does come with several obstacles such as large road crossings which I sometimes have to stop for and various pedestrians, dog walkers, children, cyclists, runners, etc etc to dodge! So overall I find it a useful exercise in becoming more accustomed to the bike, its controls, my control of it and my speed of thought/coordination at ‘speed’. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 17 July, 2013 in Cycling, Recovery, Running, Triathlon

 

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First bike ride since my crash – Learning to ride a road bike!

Since my ill-fated first ride attempt a while back, I have not been back out on my nice shiny (and now slightly scratched up in places) Giant Defy 2 Compact road bike for various reasons (injury, illness and then running prep for the Bristol 10k).

Two days after the 10k run, on a nice midweek day-off, the sun was shining and I mounted up for my second lesson in how to ride a road bike!

As an adult, I have only ever been a ‘leisure’ cyclist, riding occasionally (and sometimes a short hop to and from work) and never very far, on mountain bikes or more recently a hybrid bike. I actually thought I was a pretty proficient cyclist! That was, until my first couple of test rides on this road bike, and my first proper ride which resulted in a crash after only a few minutes on the road!

So, I thought I might as well put my embarrassment to one side, and blog about my adventures in learning to ride this thing, it is not as straight forward as I thought it would be, and I have a new found respect for those who compete in road races!

The whole reason for buying one is because I have a thing about Triathlons, and I would love to complete an Olympic distance one some day. The hybrid bike is all well and good for a beginners distance, but to put more serious mileage down, I need a quicker and more efficient bike, hence making the purchase. Being a decent runner now and a fairly strong swimmer, the cycling part is definitely my weakness in Triathlon, and it is one I really need to get in order if I am to grow in this sport!

There is so much that is different about a proper road bike than with a hybrid bike, and this had made my learning curve pretty steep, and very urgent!

  • Thin road tyres versus fat hybrid (or mountain bike) knobbly tyres, meaning the balance is completely altered, as is hitting any obstacles!
  • More aggressive seating position versus relaxing upright and enjoying the view, adding to a change in balance and speed.
  • Drop handlebars versus straight and wide grip handle bars, giving three different ways to (learn to) position your hands and they’re more narrow overall which dramatically affects balance, especially in an emergency!
  • Brake levers on the front of the drop handlebars versus brake levers being always accessible from the straight bars. On occasion I have failed to brake efficiently due to having to think about moving to the levers! 😕
  • Gear levers incorporated into the brake levers versus a nice twisty gear change, or little thumb levers where you never need to change your hand position! Not only a different position to what I’m conditioned to, but a different movement to get used to.
  • Clip-in pedals and shoes versus big wide pedals and trainers. OMG! For me, the steepest (and fasted) learning curve of them all, and even though it pained me, I was relieved to see another unfortunate cyclist falling recently in a similar fashion to my own fall (albeit more stationary), so clearly it happens quite a lot!
  • Lighter frame and wheels versus big heavy and chunky setup, adding to the balancing act!
  • Much much faster gearing especially when combined with the thin tyres and light weight, means the thing positively flies along, the world goes by quicker (and everything in it!), which produces a lot of exhilaration and excitement!!!
  • …and maybe more yet to discover??

Most important for me on today’s ride was learning to clip-out in time to glide to a graceful and controlled stop! Happily I have become used to it now, and actually started to struggle more with clipping back in after successfully clipping out so many times, Lol! I guess that will get easier with time and practice.

Other things I noticed as a novice on this ride, making sudden turns becomes a bit scarier (and more wobbly) with such a finely balanced bike (and being used to a wide gripped straight handlebar), flies hit you much harder (I took a bee right on the adams-apple at full speed downhill, which made me jump!), and I now understand why everyone advised me to get padded shorts, as those rougher parts of the surface really ‘go through you’ in the contact zone! In fact my seat post slowly sank over this ride because of that, so another lesson is to make sure all the bolts are secure before heading out for a long ride! On the way home I required shorter legs… 😉

Still much learning to do, and this was only a 10 mile session of varying speeds, but I’m getting much more used to the bike now. And because of the speed of the thing and the excellent gearing, it really encourages you to attack those uphills, so my legs were satisfyingly wobbly afterwards too (although some of that is down to my 10k run 2 days before I hope!).

All in all, a successful session on the bike, if I am to judge success as ‘not falling off’ in these early attempts… 😀

Looking forward to the next one more now!

Paul.

 
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Posted by on 9 May, 2013 in Cycling, Kit, Triathlon

 

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Brand new road bike, clip-in pedals & falling off!

Brand new road bike, clip-in pedals & falling off!

A few days ago I took my brand new Giant Defy 2 out for its first long ride. I had been waiting a couple of weeks since buying it as I had the Bath Half Marathon to complete and then needed a little time to recover with a sore knee before attempting to ride my first ever proper road bike for the first time.

I was extremely excited, and also a little nervous! This was new to me in many ways having only ever ridden on mountain bikes or hybrid bikes. I had never used:

  • Clip-in pedals and shoes
  • Drop handle bars
  • Tri-bars (which I had bought as part of the package for future Triathlons, and had fitted just so I could try them out once I’m used to the bike)
  • Road bike saddle(!)
  • Road bike combined brake & gear levers
  • Super thin road bike tyres!

I had taken a 5 minute cycle on it when I first got it home, and everything felt good. The main thing I was worried about was getting used to clipping in and (more importantly) out of the pedals!

So to my ride… I’ve got all the kit on and the bike ready to go… less than 5 minutes into my ride and I hit my first major problem! In fact, this is the first time in all my years of cycling that a car has suddenly swerved unexpectedly towards me when cycling. It was a bad time for that to happen! On my new bike, with such a steep learning curve!

I swerved, successfully avoiding clipping the car. But I have a bad acute angle going at the kerb next to me… I wobble, I try to unclip, I fail, I go down in spectacular fashion! It was all over so fast. I hit the concrete and gravelled ground hard and still fully clipped in to my pedals! Luckily I scrubbed most of the speed off before the fall, but it still hurt. I landed straight onto my elbow, hip and knee, which are now heavily bruised and covered in itchy sore scabs!

Bike fall!

At the time I was in shock for a few minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 22 March, 2013 in Cycling, Injury, Triathlon

 

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New road bike! Giant Defy 2 Compact

Giant Defy 2 Compact

Last year I completed my first ever triathlon, and it seemed to hit the spot. I used my hybrid bike to take part, which does a job, but if I am to take part in more triathlon (and maybe some duathlon), plus up my training mileage, I need a better bike. Specifically, a road bike.

My employer is part of the Cycle Scheme, so I have taken advantage of that and am now the proud owner of a Giant Defy 2 Compact! This will be the first time I have ever had to ride with clip-in pedals, and so I had to purchase pedals, shoes, cleats etc as well… I’m pretty nervous about starting out! Hopefully I can avoid any falls!

An update will follow after I get a chance to ride it for the first time, which will be in daylight and in the dry! 😉

Excited much…!! 🙂

Paul. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14 February, 2013 in Cycling, Kit, Triathlon

 

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Keeping track of our Runs

Until July this year we added each of our runs (estimated) distances & times to our calendar on the kitchen wall. In July we started using the RunKeeper iPhone App to track routes, distances & times, and having kept at it, it now provides us with long-term stats… very cool if you’re a bit of a geek (like Paul), and very useful if you’re interested in seriously improving your running fitness, especially for a specific event or race.

The App itself can map your runs using GPS, or follow a saved route. It will also play any playlist you select, or can give training prompts if you choose to use that feature (we haven’t yet). It’s nice when running a distance to get some feedback regarding distance and pace. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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