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In life we all set ourselves challenges, whether that's to avoid those cakes that are just too tempting, leave work on time or just aim to get a little fitter.  So when James (husband) decided as an anniversary present to enter us into the Dixons Carphone Warehouse Race to the Stones, I didn't really fully understand the enormity of what was in front of us.

Am not really a runner, just someone who runs to keep fit, and thankfully I had some bike fitness to start as a base for what was in front of me .  James  took on the challenge to train and motivate me, so I would be fit enough to be able to take part. In fact I even surprised myself that on days I wasn't due to run, I missed it...and that's never happened before!

Training started about 8 weeks out in mid May and took me from 4 miles a week to completing 100km Double Ultra Trail Marathon  (or 64 miles).  My weekly mileage over those weeks was 4m, 11.9m, 19m, 19m, 35m, 35.1m,14.1m , 12m then 64.6 miles event week.  - even as I write this, I don't think it has quite sunk in....probably because I haven't stopped since! 

Training involved a mixture of running and hiking to cope with the mixed terrain we would be faced with during the event, and many hours in the Welsh mountains in the sunshine. During these training sessions learning to eat and hydrate whilst moving was something new to get used too, as well and making sure those all important feet were taken care of, as blisters can be a game changer. Throughout all these sessions we were constantly readjusting our needs and equipment choices, to make us as comfortable as possible.

 A few weeks out from the event James picked up an old calf strain and I struggled to find the right trainers for comfort. Meaning training started to get affected.

Planning for the event was crucial not just for fitness, but also logistically as the start and finish are in different places, and neither of us thought driving home afterwards would be a good idea!

Threshold Sports who run the event, have everything covered  and all you need to do is turn up and be ready to go.  Shuttle buses can be booked to move competitors back to the start  or local train stations. Whilst your bags make it to the base camp for overnighter's, or the finish for those running non-stop. As this was our first Double Ultra Marathon, in fact my first marathon full stop - we opted to stay at base camp overnight.

 

The route for the event took us over a mixture of surfaces and elevations - where you were constantly challenged and running on mixed surfaces, some harder than others. The Field of Dreams (shown above) is one of the iconic parts of the run.

Beforehand we decided that the best way to tackle the course was the run the flats, walk the uphills and do whatever else you fancied in between. Some off those hills were epic on those tired legs!

The first day went by so quickly and the pit stops for stocking up on fluids and foods we well stocked, and varied and medical help was available at them all.

We stayed at base camp where a hot shower, food and and beer were very welcomed before a nights camping to rest those legs. Base camp had a lovely friendly atmosphere and a great way to enjoy the event. Unfortunately I had picked up a nice blister on my heel which required treatment and patching up to be able to take on the next day.

Amazingly we woke feeling fresh, and after breakfast headed out early to try and beat the heat of the day. Legs felt ok, just a slight ache on the right knee which some painkillers all day managed it nicely.

The second day, was harder as we were tired from the day before but also at mile 10 I slipped slightly which moved my blister dressing and meant a temporary redress and a kick up the bum to get going, whilst working though the pain.  It's amazing how something so tiny can cause so much discomfort and pain.  It seemed that not even Vaseline could help. Throughout the day I had 3 sock changes, and checks on the feet  to monitor them and still those blister kept coming. The humidity of the day didn't help.

The last 20km of the event was the hardest and most testing mentally and physically and I don't remember much about the course as it was head down and take each step one at a time, and just keep moving forward.

At pit stop 9 I had no option but to get medical help to be able to get though the last bit and probably where we lost quite a bit of time. Whilst I was getting fixed, the pre-workout caffeine fix was being drunk and food eaten all ready to get started again

 Against all the odds of previous injury, and picking up new ones on route, I achieved something that no-one can ever take away. The journey to reach the stones was epic - just a note I wish I knew before, that the Stones are not at the finish, but at about 98km and a slight detour. I may have looked happy here, but this part of the journey was probably my darkness 1km as every step I took pain seemed to travel from toes to hips and all I wanted to do was get to the end and stop.

Then when we got back on track and were heading towards the finish, a new sense of energy and determination took me to the end. If I could of run this last 1 km I would have, however my mind was writing cheques, my body wasn't willing to cash in so it meant a hobble to the end and a jog to finish off.

So can you go from nothing to 64 miles in one event?  Well it seems that if you have stubborn determination not to give up, and great mental strength, anything is possible and it's not till you challenge yourself you know what you can achieve.

Thanks to James's support and motivation, keeping me in pain killers and plasters, I got round.  We started and finished together and on this amazing journey.

 

Going back to work on Monday was hard, and got harder again on Tuesday until someone pointed out that post race blues are really common and probably what I had.  It was a feeling I had never experienced before, as I had never done anything like this before. The weekend event went by so quickly, and because you are so tired and everything seems to run on autopilot - it's a surreal feeling looking back and thinking 'Did I really just do that?'

So I have been told the best way to beat the blues to to go again, so even though we are broken and walking strange I want this amazing feeling back, and we are already planning our next one. 

Would I do this event again....Hell yes as I want to beat my last time!!!

What will you do next to Challenge yourself?

 

Race to the Stones - YouTube

 

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When I first entered the cycling scene, I was a complete newbie, however now after completing seven triathlons’s I think I have some sort of vague idea of how to act the part. So I thought for my second blog I would pass on some of the knowledge on. Most of these lessons were discovered the hard way.

**Disclaimer**

Now before I get started, I am not an expert on everything cycling and many of the things below are just what I think work best for me!

 

  1. Be comfortable.

Now, how many times have you driven or cycled by someone and thought “God, he can’t be comfortable”. Chances are the rider probably isn’t. It’s so important when you buy a bike that it’s the correct size for you and getting a bike fit is highly recommended before you venture on any ride. This will minimize the chances of picking up a little niggle or injury like lower back pain or knee pain for example. It will also make your rides far more comfortable.

                TOP TIP – Chamois Cream for those longer rides. You’re welcome.

 

  1. A clean bike is a happy bike.

Look after your bike and it will look after you. Keeping the bike maintained is so important. Keeping your drivetrain clean in particular will increase the life of your chain, cogs etc. Now that being said you don’t need to give it a deep clean after every ride. Obviously, the weather conditions and the terrain you’re cycling on will have an influence on that. Sometimes even too much cleaning can be bad for your bike because it can wash away grease and lubricant needed in important components of your bike.  Also, don’t forget to re-lube those important bits.

TOP TIP - You’d be surprised how clean you can get a bike just by using a couple of baby wipes.

 

  1. Coffee and Cake……. #obv

If there’s no café stop on a long ride then frankly what’s the point. Having a café stop is an essential for a long ride. Gives everyone a chance to refuel, top up water bottles and have a loo break. Usually, a café stop will be around the halfway mark or turn point of your ride and I’ll regularly plan a route around a café stop. There are some great café about the place and a lot of which are biker friendly. Some around by me have track pumps and spare inner tubes just in case.

                TOP TIP – Check opening hours of the café.

 

 

  1. To bonk or not to bonk.

Keeping your energy levels up through a ride is so important as well as keeping yourself hydrated. Bonking is horrendous and can be dangerous. Taking plenty of fluids and food is a must. My general rule of thumb is to drink every 15mins and eat every 30. Using a carbohydrate drink for your drinks bottles is great to assist in keeping the energy levels. I also take some hydro tabs with you to put in your bottles once they’ve been topped up in the café stop. I tend to always have a bag of fruit pastilles in my back pocket for fuel on the move.

TOP TIP – Try the brands to find which one suits. Some brands do not agree with my stomach at all where some that I find fine don’t sit well with others.

 

  1. Don’t be a tool.

You may think yeah I’ve got all the tools I need in my saddle bag. But have you actually used them yet? There are some essential maintenance things you’ll have to learn sooner or later. Probably the main one is changing a tyre. There are some great how-to guides on the internet especially one by fellow Primal Ambassador Rachael Davies https://www.primaleurope.com/blogs/news/changing-a-tyre-made-easy-with-rachael-davies

TOP TIP – Chuck a pair of rubber gloves in your saddle bag for DIY jobs when you’re out and about because no one wants black oil on their hands and kit.

 

  1. I don’t care what the weatherman says.

Now weather forecasts get a lot of bad press for being utterly wrong. However, they’re still worth a look. I wouldn’t check the weekend forecast on a Monday but I’d leave it until Friday night which would probably be much more accurate. This will help with route planning, kit options and which bike you’d choose to take.

TOP TIP – I tend to plan my routes so that I’ll get any headwind done at the start rather than at the end when you have a number of miles in the legs.

 

  1. Warmers give you options.

I’m a huge fan of arm and leg warmers rather than bib tights or long sleeve base layers. There are a couple of reasons why but the main reason is that they give you options and flexibility. Even in the early summer mornings can be chilly but you don’t want to have a thick base layer on when the midday sun comes out. Again you can assess when you’re sipping your coffee and eating your wedge of cake in the café. Primal do a good range of these so make sure you check them out: https://www.primaleurope.com/collections/mens-warmers

                TOP TIP – No need to wear a waterproof if it’s not raining. You’ll bake.

 

  1. In da club.

Joining a cycling or triathlon club was one of the best decisions I made for many reasons. They provide excellent opportunities to ride and train and learn from other likeminded enthusiasts. If you have a good club in your area there can sometimes be things going on every day such as club rides, Time Trials, Cycle cross, Mountain Biking to name a few.  People can sometimes be training for the same events or a sportive and it can avoid lonely rides on your own.

TOP TIP – There’ll be a range of abilities within a cycling club. Make sure you ride to your own ability.

 

 

  1. Cadence is King.

Now this is just a personal thing but I prefer a higher cadence. I cycle with some mates who are the opposite and who’ll happy churn out a low cadence all day long. You’ll soon find out which one works for you. Once again, stick to what you’re comfortable with. Even in the pro’s you see varying cadence speeds. Example watch Chris Froome and Tony Martin in a TT, very different speeds.

TOP TIP – Get yourself a cadence meter. Not too expensive but will be handy for you to monitor your cadence.

 

  1. Indoor vs Outdoor.

Now this is a debate that will rage on and on. Once again I am no expert and I’m not saying which one you should do but for me, outdoors wins every time. I don’t want this final tip to turn into a rant, but for me cycling is all about getting outdoors. I spend most of my days in front of a computer screen because of work, why would I want to set up my bike indoors in front of yet another screen? Again just my opinion.

TOP TIP – Even if you’re thinking of getting a turbo trainer ready for winter where you won’t be able to ride as much; well, some mudguards and some good waterproofs could be cheaper. 

 

 

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43 degrees, no shadow and a small road that winds steeply up the mountain from the mighty Mekong river. The tires of the riders stick to the melting asphalt while the sounds of the jungle stimulate the imagination. Further down at the river elephants and children wave to the exotic cyclists.
This is the scene of the third race of the "BikingMan" ultracycling racing series: Laos, the pearl of Southeast Asia.

The race series consists of six races around the globe with distances between 700 and 1,600 km. Cadence has already reported on the races in Oman and Corsica. This time Jonas Deichmann was again at the start for and didn't have a lot of luck. The German world record holder uses the racing series in preparation for a world record attempt from Northern Norway to Cape Town at the end of August. 

 

 

In the dark, the riders start together from the Race Village at the Sanctuary Hotel in Luang Prabang. As a pack, we cycle along the Mekong. After 20 km the sun rises above the river, a spectacular sight with the surrounding mountains. The thermometer is already 30 degrees in extreme humidity, a taste of the heated battle that would follow in the afternoon. After 120 km, I reach the first long climb in the four-man lead group and quickly break loose from my companions. After the pass at 1200 meters, it goes constantly up and down through small villages and dense jungle. At a height, it is a few degrees cooler and just bearable. Unfortunately, I find nothing to eat on the roadside except bananas and was already warned that restaurants need a long time.

 



After a fast descent, I reach a long valley. The road passes rice fields and small villages. The thermometer shows now 43 degrees and the tires stick to the melting tarmac. I drink over two litres in an hour and it's still not enough. After 250 kilometres I stop and order a noodle soup. The food situation has drowned me and I urgently need to refuel. During my break, a few cyclists move by and I pick up the chase. In the evening I reach the jungle and it is an adventurous feeling to be alone on the road. Suddenly a big snake crosses the street right in front of me and I instinctively jump over. I try to interpret the jungle sounds and my imagination becomes very creative. After 15 hours I reach the first checkpoint and decide to spend the night there. The heat and the jet lag made me tired and it does not feel safe to ride through the night. 

 


When I continue cycling at dawn, I am surprised that I am still in the fourth position. The extreme heat has bothered everyone and only two have pushed through the night. We continue along the Mekong with one 15% ramp after another to the border with Thailand. Here the route turns west and there is a 100-kilometre stretch on a small road through the jungle. The road conditions are extremely bad and it goes up and down steeply. The day before I had a 26kmh average speed despite more than 4,000 meters of climbing, today it is not even 18 kmh although I feel strong. When I reach the beginning of the Kasi pass after 220 kilometres, there are already 5,000 vertical meters in the legs. At the top of the pass is Checkpoint 2, and I'm firmly on track for the podium when my bottom bracket loosens right at the beginning of the climb. Repair attempts fail and I find a guesthouse for the night.

 

 

There are still 250 kilometres and 6,000 meters of elevation in front of me but giving up is not an option. On the other side of the pass, there is a car mechanic and I push my bike the 30 kilometres to the pass. Unfortunately, the repair attempts of the mechanic also fail and I now decide to push the bike to the finish and to be there before the finisher party on the evening of the fifth day. I mostly walk barefoot until the asphalt gets too hot at midday but still can roll down the passes.

 

 

 

Although it is not what I had hoped for, I still have fun and now have more time to discover this beautiful country. I just make it to the finisher party in last position but still within the time limit.

In two months I will be riding BikingMan Peru and the Andes will surely be a great adventure as well. More on jonasdeichmann.com

 

 

 

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First of all, we need to rewind back to 27th October 2012 when I had the following e-mail from Wiggle:

“Thank you for placing your order with us: 1x Felt F75 Road Bike 58cm frame White/Black/Blue”

The rest, as they say, is history and many many miles later the felt is still going strong. I was now a cyclist…

Just over 6 years later I filmed a short clip of myself on a cold wintery commute to explain to the social media world why I’d like to be a Primal Ambassador. A few weeks later……. BOOM! I’m in.

 

 

I remember getting tempted by the idea of buying a road bike after watching Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour. I recollect sitting in my front room, laptop open clicking checkout on a road bike where it’s safe to say I had no idea what I was doing.

Following on from my little shopping spree, I soon began browsing for local cycling clubs which introduced me to Bynea Cycling Club. This is where my relationship with Primal first started as Primal was their kit supplier.

A few club runs later and a few chats with others in the peloton I got introduced to the concept of multi-sport events (Duathlons and Triathlons). Again, without much prior knowledge, I found myself getting a place in the Mumbles Duathlon. That event on a cold March morning was an eye opener but it was safe to say I was hooked and thought I could do a swim as well before that no problem. It’s easy right?! Here, a triathlete was born.

The triathlon bug is unlike any other I’ve encountered. It’s contagious, it spreads like wildfire and it’s damn expensive. It’s introduced me to a whole new world of fitness and wellbeing as well as introducing me to a whole new friendship group of like-minded individuals. Until you do an event like a tri’ it’s hard to explain the sense of comradery. When some complete stranger who passes you during the race shouts “Keep going mate, you’ve got this”. Triathlon is truly something special and can inspire people of all ages, shapes and sizes to achieve something they never thought possible.

Now in 2019, I’m entering my 7th year of triathlon with around 20-25 events under my belt including a London to Paris Charity Ride in 2014 and the unforgettable Ironman Wales 2016.

 

 

Primal has been a part of this journey from the start and I use in all of my events, weekend rides, and my commutes all year round. The quality of the Primal kit is unlike any other, and it can endure miles and miles of riding. In my eyes, this is a journey that won’t be stopping anytime soon, and I know Primal will be with me all the way.

 

 

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So it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling this year, I’ve not been well since early December and as a result, have been unable to train, my fitness has obviously suffered and this has been a bit of a tough time for me.

However, for the last week or so I have been feeling a bit better, I feel brighter, my body is responding better and I haven’t been feeling like I have been run over! Therefore I am making the most of the days I feel better and getting out to train when I can.

In 2019 so far I have cycled a grand total of 304 miles, of which 106 of those have been ridden in the Easter week!

On Easter Monday I joined the London Phoenix CC Easter Classic sportive. 70 miles through the Essex countryside. A big ask from my body as I haven’t ridden anywhere near that distance so far this year, but with the Primal Two Ton Tour fast approaching I am determined to make it to the start in my best possible shape. We all have to start somewhere so this weekend proved the perfect opportunity.

For those of you who read my blog post about this event last year, you might remember that there were flooded roads, many punctures, torrential rain and it was a thoroughly miserable affair. This year the weather was glorious! The roads were dry, the sun was out, and I barely recognised the route.

This made the whole experience a lot more pleasant. There were a large number of cyclists from RomfordCC riding the event (my local cycling club) and a couple of the ladies had offered to ride with me and keep me company as I was worried about surviving the distance and being rather slow. This is a great benefit of being in a club, the members become friends, and all help to look out for each other. I was incredibly grateful to Joanne and Nadjie for riding with me.

One thing that has become apparent whilst I work to regain my health and fitness is I need to learn to pace myself. This often means taking things slower and limiting my effort to ensure I manage to complete the sessions. This event was no different, I knew that if I pushed too hard at the beginning I would be broken and stranded by half way around the course. So it was more important to set out steadily and be sure of making it to the finish.

This was easily done on such a pretty course in the sunshine, the views were gorgeous and the miles passed quickly. Although I was really pleased when we made it to the mid-way feed stop and had a chance for a flapjack and a cup of tea! Many of the RomfordCC riders had already made it to the feed stop so it was nice to be able to say hi and get some extra encouragement, a quick hug goes a long way for some additional motivation.

Personally, my motivation for the second half of the course was knowing there was an ice cream van in the car park at the finish line.

So, my tips for getting back to fitness after an illness or injury are these:

 

  1. Pace yourself, it's so frustrating to not automatically be back to where you were before your break, but it's better to build up slowly than to break yourself again, build in rest days and easier days to help recover.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive people, it really makes all the difference having a bit of support, people to encourage you to head out and try to train, the miles pass quicker training together, the pain seems less and for me especially a little chat helps to take your mind off the task in hand, and also people to help you celebrate your achievements however big or small.
  3. Set a variety of goals, short term, mid term, long term.
    Short term might be a short distance running or cycling without stopping or at a specific pace.
    Mid-term might be a longer distance, a ride or run you know you used to enjoy, but a bit tougher than your current capabilities can cope with.
    Long-term might be an event you want to participate in, for me it is the Primal Two Ton Tour.
    For all of these remember to set a realistic time frame, give yourself adequate training and recovery time, don’t set yourself up for failure, nothing is more of a set back than failing to reach an unrealistic goal. For me this goal had been the London-Wales-London Audax, I was trying so hard to aim to be on the start line for this, but I know it would be a step too far, so I have withdrawn from this event and will try again next year.
  4. Be kind to yourself – this for me is the hardest one, I am so frustrated if I get up and my body hurts too much to even get out of bed, I get upset, angry and disheartened. I forget to be kind to me. My body has accomplished wonderful things in the past and I am hoping with some gentle persuasion it will do so again in the future.

 

 

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A week after I completed the London Marathon, I am back on the bike for my clubs annual Ashby 100-mile cycle.  But being back on the bike I always have two worries, One, not being knocked off and ending up in a ditch, and two, hoping I don’t get a puncture because the thought of changing a tyre is daunting especially if  it ever happens on my tubeless tyres which means either putting in an inner tube or taking the wheel to a bike shop to be filled and repaired.  Instead of carrying a saddle bag on my aero bike (for weight purposes) I just wing it hoping Fatboy can do it for me, of course, I jest. If you ride a bike especially solo you need to learn so here’s my beginners guide to changing an inner tube.  Special thanks to my friend Fenboy aka Paul for demonstrating midway through a 60-mile ride recently.

 

The TyreKye - A Godsend!  

 

How to change an inner tube.

THE most important part, pause the ride, take a selfie, post it up on social media and wait for your cycling friends to turn it into banter fest or offers of help.  Meanwhile, make sure you have taken yourself and your bike away from the side of the road into a safe place. Fumble in the saddle bag for an inner tube (finding an old plaster and a mini pack of Haribo you forgot was in there) find your tyre lever, multitool (allen key set) and your pump and make sure your valve is the correct size for your tyre.

  • Open the brake calliper (this widens the brake block to be able to take the wheel off). Loosen the quick release wheel nut, or remove through-axel and remove the wheel from the bike. If it’s the rear wheel, manually pull back the spring of the rear derailleur to loosen the chain.  But you probably know this already.
  • With the wheel free insert the tyre lever under the edge of the tyre wall (that faces you) and lift the lever up so that the tyre loosens from the rim and then run the lever all the way around the tyre wall but don’t take the tyre off the wheel rim, just leave it loose. Check for any splinters, shards or tears, looking inside and running your fingers over the tyre. If so, you will need to patch it up as well as the tube.
  • Pop the valve of the tube out through the wheel hole and pull the tube out and stuff it in the back of your jersey and later recycle it. With the new inner tube check that the valve is untightened so the air can be pumped in. Fill with only a tiny bit of air so the tube isn’t floppy and prepare for the fun part, getting it back on the wheel. Be careful as you insert the inner tube inside the tyre (that is still loosely on the wheel) and start by pushing the valve back inside the hole in the wheel rim and pushing the tube in position, once in place start pummelling the tyre around the rim using your hands. As you get more of the tyre around the wheel the harder it becomes and that’s when the magic of the TyreKey Lever comes in handy.  A new product on the market that guarantees to be a ‘no pinch’ tool. Hooking the lever under the remaining tyre work it back inside the rim, obviously still being careful that your inner tube is not bulging out and just like that, the tube and tyre is back on the wheel.  Using a gas filled or manual pump inflate the tyre to your desired psi. If by this point you have run out of gas or patience then hope by random act of luck that someone has a track pump hiding in a patch of grass nearby (this actually happened on aforementioned ride- true story) and if all fails and you run out of patience, inner tubes and gas canisters call the nearest bike shop and hope they can offer a solution.
  • When your tyre is inflated, place it back on the bike and remember to close the brake callipers.
  • If you are fixing the front tube remember to make sure the wing nut is the same side as the rear wheel wing nut otherwise you will soon discover you have no rotation or grip

If you manage to do all of this on your own then give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the satisfaction of a happy and apprehensive ride home. If you manage to do this for a friend, coffee, cakes and bacon are on them, for how long, depends on the efforts and time taken and hereby includes said treat for all those on the ride suffering the wait (although secretly they don’t mind as checking their notifications and uploading photos takes the mind off getting cold).

 

So, there you have it, how to change a tyre.  I hope this doesn’t happen to me on my next ride but if it does, I will be taking my own advice and referring back to this blog post…

 

Until your next ride, stay inflated.

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February was a peculiar month, not only did it fly by but felt like we were in the middle of summer with the warm spell and then reality hit that it’s not that long until the Virgin Marathon London Marathon on 28th April. This will be my 3rd London marathon having run in 2016 and 2017 for the charities, Meningitis Now and Meningitis Research Foundation and this year I will be taking part through the ballot.I am actually feeling less daunted this time around even if I may not have done enough on the weekly training miles as I normally would and this is mainly due to time (there had been a last-minute wedding, a big birthday family a trip away to plan in a short space of time) but I have tried to maintain my fitness on the bike while training to a slower pace on foot.  I am not worrying about how fast I have to complete the marathon, as long as I get to the finish line, I will get there when I get there, but like in 2017, I am going to make sure I have fun along the way on the day. 

I find that I can appreciate running and enjoy it when I’m running slowly which is perfect as I look to run into double figures on the mileage and try to follow The London Marathon training plan, occasionally taking my dog Roo with me on my short runs. Sometimes I don’t have much choice when she sees me tighten the laces on my trainers and comes bounding over, pinning me to the wall, her tail wagging in excitement.  Being half collie, half springer she has lots of energy and is happy to trot along next to me and I enjoy her company. 

In the past, I have had a real love-hate relationship with pace and thought I couldn’t really be classed as a runner if I wasn’t pushing for a distance in a certain time and because of this I really lost my mojo which took a while to come back.  Thanks to my friends in the Team Power, R.U.N Marathon Training and Support community whom I met when training for London in 2017, really helped me find my enjoyment for it again.  I run for “fun”, I run to challenge myself, I run to encourage others to show if I can do this so can you and of course I run for the medal, so I am looking forward to meeting up with the group again this year at The Excel centre when we collect our race numbers and timing chips then gather at the start line on Sunday, some in fancy dress or in colourful running gear like my Primal Alpine Camo leggings. The buzz and excitement of the event as the helicopters hover above, the tv crews wonder about looking for people to interview, the last-minute dashes to the loo and the fancy-dress costume adjustments made before the big countdown in the coral as the gun goes off.

If you are one of the lucky ones taking part in your first marathon this year, whether through ballot, charity or in the case of one of my colleagues, totally unaware his wife had signed him up until he received the ‘Congratulations You’re in’ magazine, then you will probably be feeling a mix of excitement and nerves, 26.2 miles (or 28 if you end up weaving in and out) is no mean feat.  But just remember on the day to make sure you enjoy it, don’t get carried away at the start and push off too fast then blow out halfway along the course and miss seeing what’s around you. A number of my friends have said they missed seeing the iconic buildings, the World Record attempt runners, the iconic rhinos, and a lot of things that make this event so special and so much fun because they had their heads in the zone to complete the event in their planned time that they trained so hard for. The thing is we all have a perfect scenario in our heads and we try to train for this so you expect the race to go accordingly.  This was me in 2016 until my fate at mile 12 on Tower Bridge with another runner meant I hobbled over 14 miles to the finish line and I hadn’t accounted for this situation in training, I just spent a lot of time leading up to the day trying to avoid people with colds and bugs. When  I collected my medal I told myself I needed to run it again  so it could be like I had planned, flawless and not letting those I was running for down, I was annoyed and angry with myself for not being able to complete the marathon how I had trained and planned for, that I couldn’t accept my achievement for a long time which now sounds a bit ridiculous but after pouring our hearts and soles (pun intended) into getting the preparation right, I couldn’t have it any other way,  but 26.2 miles is the same distance however you manage to get around the course.  In 2017 I made sure I took a memory from each mile, high fiving other runners and spectators, laughed with people along the route and I loved it.  Having gone to support a friend and cheer on a cousin in 2018 which happened to be the hottest VLM on record I told myself there was absolutely no way I would run again….and here I am! I can’t help myself.

You have to be disciplined when training for a marathon and in my own humble opinion, this comes into its own if you can train a few times over 13 miles. On the day If you need to walk, do it and use the crowd to your advantage to help pull you through when you can, you won’t be short of encouragement as the streets are lined 5 deep in places with spectators cheering you all on and the noise is incredible in places. I remember in 2017, one lady yelling ‘go on Rach. You’re nearly there’ I was at mile 3 and she has spotted my name on my running vest, she had me laughing and little things like calling your name can really spur you on.  Don’t forget to put on your best-run face as you run by the TV camera crews along Cutty Sark. 

As you pass by you will run along the residential streets to the sound of reggae and dance music playing from the balconies and pubs before arriving at Tower Bridge, you’ve hit a major landmark, it will feel amazing as you turn off the bridge with the roar of cheers and clap of the crowds as they carry you round into mile 13 which then becomes is a bit of a mind game, that’s when you run alongside the other runners at mile 22 in the opposite direction, just a barrier and a number of stages set up to entertain the crowds to separate the distance. Those runners are 9 miles further than you and closer to the finish line, they look strong.  As you make your way towards mile 15 the road gets sticky as the hundreds of half sucked energy gels from the feed station are strewn along the floor for a least a mile. You begin to notice the handmade signs people are holding up ‘this is a lot of work for a free banana’, “We Thought They Said Rum” or something about toenails.

Mile 18 is when it gets loud, as the crowds gather along the streets around The Quays, the noise of the steel band echoes up the buildings as you pass by but there are still 8 more miles to go. You may wonder how some people manage to still run effortless, you will see other runners looking exhausted and you may even begin to feel a little overwhelmed or spurred on by seeing the determination of the charity runners, military and emergency service all travelling the same distance and route as you push through. Their pace, their run.  You look behind you and see a rhino coming into view and if you have been counting how many you have seen already, by this point it can turn into a game that keeps you going, do you want to be overtaken by a runner in a giant fibreglass suit. The choice is yours and you may even shed an exhaustive tear, go on, it's allowed, even in front of thousands of people cheering you on and it's not daft nor silly.

By the time you reach The Embankment you are on the home run, everything hurts but you get a boost by the crowd and you get a second wind, someone may hand you a banana and right now you don’t care about taking food from stranger,  Your second wind is enough to make to the Mall, you may even hear the Karaoke runner coming into earshot singing 500 miles, he must run an ultra-marathon with the constant back and forth entertaining everyone as he goes singing by.   You see a sign ‘600 meters’ to go, and  there up ahead is Buckingham Palace coming into view, then the 200 yard sign, quick get your game face on, smile for the camera, the world is watching and you find that last little bit of energy and determination to break into a little sprint to get across the line to the smiling faces of the stewards handing you a medal and a goody bag….and that’s it, you’re done, just like that. You stop and look around spotting a few strangers who have for that fleeting time along the route been your running friends and you give each other an exhausted pat on the back and go and find your letter zone to meet your support team, your legs not knowing if they should be walking, still running or resting and even though you have burned off all those calories and run over 56000 steps, all you can think of is..Prosecco…or is that just me and what your official time was before checking the mountain of good luck messages you received on your phone.

 

You are now a marathon runner and with a shuffle and a painful manoeuvre up and down the underground steps through the tube station you wow never to run a marathon again, you will probably tell every other marathon runner on that tube holding their see-through bag and medal the same thing, “I am NEVER EVER doing that again”. But don’t worry, this is only a temporary feeling.  You will be back!

Post marathon you can pop on your recovery gear like the Primal Camo, Alpine or Stone Cropped Leggings, don your Panda Socks, your oversized marathon finishers t-shirt and your Primal Shasta Traceuse hoody and relax a little, you’ve earned it.  Unless you have to go to work then you better be sat at your desk with that medal retelling the story of the run to everyone who walks by.

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy race day, after all, you have trained hard for the event and this is your victory lap, your run, your #happytrail so do it your way.

Until next time.

Rachel

 

 

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January always feels like the longest month in the year, who knows why it feels like this but it is like getting two months for the price of one, deal.  For many people January and February is the start of leaving the old behind and looking to new beginnings, 2019 is a blank page of a novel so make it a good one. For me, I went in to the new year thinking how I would surpass the amazing experiences over last two years as a Primal ambassador.  I have ridden in and been to some great events like Six Day London, completed my 1st triathlon, met some amazing icons in pro-cycling, Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, Rafa Majka, Bradley Wiggins, the name dropping goes on, I became Chatteris Cycling Clubs female Captain for 2019 and received the award for the outstanding female ride leader and it’s been great to share my experiences in my blogs and social media. So, what about this year, what challenges await?

I confess that over the autumn and winter months I have crossed over to the “dark side” and have been enjoying every moment of riding off-road. It’s a “its not you, its me” thing.  I will always love riding on the road, putting on my Aqua Helix range of cycling apparel to match by beloved Liv road bike and challenging myself and my fitness as much as I can, but I have started to really get into appreciating the challenges of riding through muddy, twiggy, grassy terrain and finding obstacles along the way to practice my cyclocross handling skills. The appreciation of being able to ride off-road when it has been raining or snowing or when the roads are still icy at ten o’clock in the morning, knowing that if I fall off, I should have a softer landing than tarmac….in most cases, although there are more chances of me falling into a nettle bush and the pleasure pain of the stinging, tingling itch through my Primal Dawn Women’s Bib tights!!  It’s been great to take my Ribble CGR out and turning the ride into a mystery tour, you don’t even have to go very far to get a good ride in. Road riding takes you on an adventure along the straights, with a hill, or a left and right turn, junctions and cross roads; riding along a grassy field you can go left to right, up or down, across, over and under or zig zag your way along a short route and it can be just as tiring riding 14 miles on grass and mud as it can be riding 40 miles on the road.  One of the things I like about being off road is the quietness of it (apart from the sound of my own wheezing).  Riding away from traffic and seeing more of the hidden landscape around me, the hidden gems and the additional freedom all through the simplicity of my bike. To most of us, the bike is a mode of transport to get us from A to B, to exercise and have fun. Anything is possible on a bike and I am fortunate enough to have more than one bike to create my adventures so I am lucky.

One of the issues that I look upon and appreciate more each time I am riding is that in the UK we are fortunate to take advantage of the bike if we have one purely for fitness and fun and that accessing a bike shop on or offline is pretty easy, although through our own choices, can end up being a very indulgent and expensive trip.  We also have the choice to be wasteful with our bikes, leaving them to rust in the elements and not caring for much them.   Having caught up recently with a friend, Alan, who I hadn’t seen since our ‘Tour De France’ adventures in July, he had not long been back on UK soil having spent some time out in Kibera, Kenya.  As retired police officer he now volunteers his time to a charitable organisation called Red Rubber Ball.  Alan, along with 18 other volunteers had travelled to East Africa and spent the day with the Kibera Cycling Club, providing them with 6 new bicycles and putting them through their cycling proficiency.  The Kibera Cycling Club was set up by the Red Rubber Ball charity, partnered with professional and volunteer cyclists of Safari Simbaz Cycling Club within the grounds of the Raila Education Center in the Kibera Slums of Nairobi. The project supported by non-other than David Kinjah; world class cyclist and coach and who had been the coach and mentor who led Chris Froome to professional cycling with Team Sky. Chris had encouraged Kinjah to continue the legacy and set up The Safari Simbaz whose motto is, “Reducing poverty through the power of the bike”.  Between RedRubber Ball and Safari Simbaz Cycling, their aim is to empower and educate those with limited access to secondary education.  The fact that a simple bicycle can provide so much to those who without their help, would likely to turn to crime, gangs and more.

 

Through Alan I had been put in touch with Kinjah and spent lots of time reading about the work of the cycling clubs and reflecting on how this simple mode of transport, the bicycle, can, like music be a universal language.   I am not getting deep and meaningful here but even for the kids and adults here in the UK, the simple skill and advantage of having a bike and being able to ride leisurely, play with friends, get fitter or learn the basic maintenance skills so that they can look after their bikes and make it more of a hobby are literally priceless, relative to the opportunities it leads to.  Which leads me nicely on to one of the up and coming projects by a local organisation where I live, Active Fenland.  I had been approached in the summer by the organisation with the plan to help get local people active and out on their cycles, not just adults and children who can already ride, but those who are sedentary (meaning not very active…I had to explain that part after some comedic confusion with my friends thinking it meant sedimentary). The project is in its very early stages and one I am very keen to help with, not just myself but for with the involvement of my cycling club along with the guidance and skills of our club coach. Its easy to assume that every adult can ride a bike but not everyone can and not just learning to ride but also to help some of the more deprived areas in our community be more active together.  I get very excited by anything that will encourage people to ride a bike and the same goes for our club coach Matt, who through our recent meeting with Active Fenland was even more enthusiastic than me, so I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, taking a leaf out of my book for a change and I am sure I will be silenced more often than I dare think when I take up the next set of his cyclocross coached sessions which will continue in the next few months.

So, I am sure I have answered my own question, what is my next challenge?  Last year it was the triathlon, which I hated so much thanks to a panic attack in the open water and spitting out reeds that I will need to try it again one day, so not to leave my experience on less than positive.  I have my 3rd London Marathon in April, although the hip/psoas muscle is causing some issues that my osteopath is working on, and I can always walk or Jeff it.  Having watched the final Eastern Region Cyclocross race held locally at Milton Country Park I now know what I wish to challenge myself in, taking part in at least one of the 2019 CX races.  It will be hard, no doubt but having seen all levels and ages of rider taking part, the encouragement from the spectator, the cowbells and the popularity of this event makes me feel that I can do it even if I am last.  I don’t always like to sit in my comfort zone and having spoken to a few friends who have challenged themselves by taking part say they love it.  “Yes, it’s a complete lung buster” said one of my CX buddies who is in his first year of Cyclocross but as he is a GP, I am taking that as ‘I won’t die (of embarrassment) stuck, wheezing in sludge right next to the biggest crowd of spectators’ on the course.   I am sure if he says he and his 12-year-old son can do it and see the improvements each week so can I survive my first one.  By the end of the year I hope to be writing about the experience and wondering why I was even worrying.

So it could be quite another busy year, not just setting my goals for the rest of the 2019, taking part in CX racing, riding on the road in a Velo29 event in which Primal are the kit sponsors for the second year (very good choice) or attending Six Day London but helping the community to experience what I and many of my cycling friends feel every time we get out on our bikes, the freedom to be a big kid on two wheels and encouragement to achieve their goals!

Until next time

Love this kit! Get your's by clicking on the link below:

https://www.primaleurope.com/search?type=product&q=aqua

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Do you find it hard being a female triathlete?

Balancing work, family life and training can be hard enough but as females we also have to balance the effects of our hormones which can be difficult to say the least!  Alongside this being a female involved in sport at any level these days is tough because of the desire to be a certain body shape or physique coupled with the constant barrage of faddy diets on social media. This can put females under incredible pressure to loose weight which for some can lead to disordered eating and long-term health effects.

 

Good Nutrition plays a vital role in making sure we look after our bodies from the inside out regulating our hormones, bone health and fertility and giving us the energy to meet the demands of sport, work and life. Get your nutrition right and you can reap the performance rewards, get it wrong and you can feel tired, moody, lethargic and can run the risk of developing illnesses and injuries – nobody wants that!

 

I’m here to tell you that you can train, look after yourself perform at your best and have time for the things that are important in your life, it’s just sometimes you need a bit of help and sound evidence-based advice to get you there! Read on for some expert Sport Dietitian Nutrition Tips on how to look after yourself as a Female Endurance Triathlete.

 

  1. Be Careful not to over restrict your energy Intake. In my work as A Sports Dietitian I see a lot of female athletes who are undereating and over restricting their energy intake. They all report the same thing ‘I am eating hardly anything, training but not losing weight. I can’t understand it?’ Over-restricting your energy intake can actually cause your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns energy) to drop which can make it harder for you to loose weight. Energy restriction can also compromise your health, performance and immunity. If you are trying to loose weight it’s important to introduce a sensible calorie deficit to achieve a slow, gradual weight loss maximum (1-2lb per week). If you need guidance speak to a Sports Dietitian or performance Nutritionist who can analyse your intake and provide you with a sensible plan and guidance.

 

  1. Eat a healthy balanced diet. When training regularly it’s important not to skip meals. Regular meals keep your blood glucose levels stable throughout the day and your energy levels topped up. Your meals should contain a Balance of Carbohydrate (for energy) Protein (for recovery) and fruit and vegetables (for vitamins and minerals). The athletes Plate gives an useful guide how to balance your meals depending on the intensity of your training. Balancing your meals against your training is important – some days you will need more carbohydrate (Or energy) compared to other days and it’s important to match your intake to your training – this is also called ‘Fuelling for the work required’.

 

  1. Choose Good Quality Food Sources. When choosing Carbohydrate choose wholegrain varieties e.g. wholegrain bread, pasta and rice. Choose good quality protein sources e.g. white fish, lean meat, cheese, yoghurt, cottage cheese, lentils and pulses. Choose healthy fats e.g. Olive oil and rapeseed oil instead of saturated jfats.

 

  1. Don’t neglect fuelling and Recovery. I see many female athletes neglect these key areas. Fuelling during training ensures you perform well and is important for immunity and recovery after training. For training >60-90mins fuelling in the form of carbohydrate becomes important with carbohydrate requirements depending on the length and intensity of training undertaken and varying between 30g /hr up to 90g/hr for some endurance events. Recovery after training sessions lasting >60-90mins should focus on 3 key areas – Rehydration, Replenishing Glycogen or Carbohydrate stores and Promoting muscle protein synthesis. Don’t neglect the recovery window – make it work for you!

 

  1. Get enough Iron! Iron deficiency is common in up to 30% of female athletes. Although not ‘anaemic’ many female athletes have ‘non-anaemic iron deficiency’. This can reduce the amount of oxygen delivered to muscles during exercise reducing the maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) your endurance capacity and performance. The cause can be due to increased blood losses in training or a deficient dietary intake. Symptoms of Iron deficiency include tiredness, chronic fatigue, headaches, breathlessness during exercise, injuries and lack of endurance during exercise. The UK recommended intake of Iron for female athletes 19-50 years is 14.8 mg and 8.7mg for females >50 years. It is important that female athletes include iron rich foods in their diets on a daily basis and consult with their GP, Sports Dietitian or Performance Nutritionist if Iron Deficiency is suspected.

 

  1. Avoid fad diets - If you are concerned regarding your body composition and want to improve your health, well-being or your weight seek specialist advice and avoid faddy and restrictive diets that can compromise your health and well-being. An accredited Sports Dietitian can work with you to fuel performance, maximise training adaptations, improve health and well-being and achieve the body composition that’s right for you while allowing you to enjoy a range of foods!

 

Lastly Be kind to yourself and Have confidence in yourself because YOU ARE AMAZING! VP X

http://www.victoriaprendiville.co.uk/

 

 

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2 weeks ago, before Langkawi 70.3 I was at the start line of the New York Marathon I wasn't sure my legs had a marathon in them... 5 weeks after Ironman Italy I was tired, and I wasn't appropriately trained to run a marathon...

But NYC wasn't the end of my year of events, I had already entered Ironman 70.3 Langkawi, a middle-distance triathlon in a gorgeous location, but it's a tough one! I knew this as I did the full distance here last year...

I was only home for 2 nights after New York before flying to Asia. We flew to Singapore for a few days before heading to Malaysia but my time in Singapore was tough. I had crazy jet lag after 3 continents in 4 days and was waking up at 2am hungry, not getting back to sleep and eventually getting up in the morning feeling incredibly sick! Not great prep!

But still I made the most of my time in Singapore and was super lucky that a guy we met last year (Ken) took us along to the Singapore Newbie Triathletes open water swim session on Saturday morning and then out to join part of the West Coast Riders Sunday group ride! (And took us for yummy breakfast both days!) Thanks Ken!

Slowly I returned to life and on Wednesday we travelled to Langkawi, headed to the Expo to register, then out to our hotel. We stayed in the same place we stayed last year - the Berjaya resort, it's close to the swim start and has lovely restaurants, a great beach and pool and is pretty much the perfect holiday location! Highly recommend it, especially for people doing the Ironman events.

We joined the test swim on Thursday morning, already knowing what to expect as we swam here last year, calm waters with temperatures of around 29 degrees, heaven when you consider the 15-degree waters in the UK at the end of triathlon season!

Friday, we racked bikes and kit bags and then both mine and Adam's families were travelling over to stay with us for a few days. Adam's family arrived at lunchtime and mine at dinner time, perfect, as the best thing to do the day before a race is rest and eat well and I'm good at the whole eating thing!

Saturday morning, we were up at 4.15am, and there was still a storm going on outside with bright flashes of lightening in the distance... Not the best start. But by the time we had had breakfast (the hotel started breakfast at 4am for athletes) the storm was clearing, and we headed to the race start. Usual check of bikes and added nutrition and bottles before heading down to the swim start.

 

The swim is such a nice loop, with literally the best water safety I have ever seen at an event, lots of boats and kayaks, regular rest pontoons, continuous buoys on the right-hand side of the course every 30 mtrs in addition to your usual turn buoys. It's straight forward and easy to follow which is a great start to the event.

Swim felt a little congested this year, but I possibly started a bit too far back in the self-seeded start area, but even with a few extra bodies in the water I was through the swim in 44 mins and off into transition. They have fresh water showers as you head into T1 and it's great to wash your face off a bit before getting on the bike.

 

Helmet, bike shoes on, extra sunscreen applied and out onto the bike, having ridden the course last year I knew what to expect, rolling hills for the first 15 miles, then a few miles of reasonably flat roads before 3 more significant climbs later in the ride. During the first section there were a lot of accidents and I saw many people a bit battered at the side of the road, but the medical team were doing a great job of patching everyone up and luckily, I escaped this section unharmed.

Then Mother Nature decided to add in an extra challenge... A storm, as I cycled along, I could see the dark clouds looking over the mountains, then the wind picked up, massive leaves blew off trees, the wind got stronger, then there was a good few minutes of rather cold aggressive rain! To be expected in a tropical environment, I guess?

I knew I wasn't ready for this bike course, and when we had been talking about anticipated timings, I had thought it would take me 3 hrs 30 mins to complete the ride, rather than my usual time of between 3.05 and 3.15, and I was right. 3 hrs 29 mins later I rolled into transition quite exhausted, my body hated me. It hadn't recovered from my recent events and the tough bike course took everything from me, I’ve no idea how I managed 2 laps of that last year!

 

Into transition a quick change of shoes and I hobbled out onto the run course feeling rather demotivated. I was too tired to run properly and had a very sore toe (I injured it in Italy) so I shuffled along, walking some sections feeling miserable, for a while I adopted a very non-scientific regime of running the distance of 10 marker cones and walking two... no idea why but it gave me mini targets which did help! Then approximately 9km in I saw Adam at a switchback section, he was about 1km in front, having had a better swim and bike than I did, so I decided to try and shuffle a little quicker to catch up with him, so we could finish together.

I caught up with Adam between 10 and 11km and we trotted along together, by now it was about 35 degrees and relentless sunshine which whilst beautiful made the exposed run course very tough and sadly there were several people on stretches at the medical stations...

 

Eventually we were on to the last few km of the run and we saw my mum, sisters and their boyfriends cheering at the side of the road, they spurred us on and the last 2km passed quite quickly, soon we were heading back past them and into the final few 100 metres, along the gorgeous beach and towards the finish line!!! Ironman 70.3 Langkawi was done! And so were we! The end of a great season of races but I'm ready for a rest before starting it all again with some new challenges next year!

 

 

Love this kit! Get your's by clicking on the link below:

https://www.primaleurope.com/search?type=product&q=aqua

 

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