Training Day – 937

Reset Day – 37

The past month has seen much progress in my ‘recovery’ – a word I still find hard to come to terms with. I struggle to see the broken part of myself but know it has been evident in my life for a while.

The help & advice I was give by the ‘Experts’ has been followed and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – but it has taken what seems like forever to get to where I am now. New School year will hopefully bring a new start and a refreshed me into what I love doing and feel I still have much to offer. Changes have occurred and things will be very different now – both for myself & my workplace.

So what has gone on to continue my progress and make these changes in my wellbeing – a rest from the pressures, the constant conflict situations and sadness. Instead I have literally thrown myself into my fitness training and set myself even more challenging targets – challenging but in a focused approach.

I have continued my weekly running to a regular level of distance and time but included the use of my Road Bike to develop my speed & endurance in my training. This led me to taking a ‘Challenge’ from a training buddy – I have called the #Therapist previously. The challenge being to complete in a TRIATHLON – that was agreed 9 weeks ago.

NB: The #Therapist is just a nickname not a qualification – someone that makes me smile and is easy to talk to and has made such an impact in helping me – without even knowing..

The #Therapist knows I am competitive and always willing to take up a good challenge – so I accepted, though I had not acknowledged my absence from work. (Nor have I to date … that will come in the near future.) Life had just got the refocus I was sadly missing – the piece of the jigsaw/kick up the bottom that was so needed. Without knowing what had occurred, the #Therapist has had an impact on my life – far more than they realise and I will always be forever grateful.

Now the training – this has included a number of different sports disciplines to be mastered or be proficient at – Swimming – Cycling – Running .   I have always been confident to try new sports and no matter what, I would give my all. But with only 9 weeks to train for the event, plus learn the rules and get new equipment – maybe I had bitten off too much and was going to put myself under unnecessary pressures, which was the last thing I would need during this time.

Running was not going to be a problem in the slightest – especially if I was fit/injury free, as I enjoy doing that and can easily run a Half marathon.

The Bike Ride would be a minor issue that I just needed experience at doing – I can ride a bike but had difficulty using the gears for efficiency – basically spent long rides using only one gear. To help over come this I joined a local TRI group for their riding sessions and found their help and advice was fantastic. I began to ride much faster and was given the nick name of #MrOneSpeed (by the #Therapist) because I just did everything at full pace.

Swimming was my weakest discipline, having not swam for over 30years. I can swim but didn’t enjoy it so I just avoided doing it. Several times a week I would do the early morning swimming sessions at the local pool – breast stroke was going to be my training so I could build up my confidence and stamina in the pool. It worked pretty well until the pool got too busy and I struggled to get my speed up at times.

Over the past 5 weeks my training had improved significantly for me to do a few ‘Assessment’ events leading up to the TRIATHLON. I have done a couple of ‘DUATHLONS’ in order to learn the skills & apply the rules required – Transitions, equipment and protocols that I have never experienced. I was a fast learner and started to find that each different discipline in my training was improving better than I had expected. Plus as an added bonus I was now a ‘DUATHLETE’ what-is-duathlon_02_grey_02

Last week was my ‘Tapering Off’ time – shorter & easier runs/rides & swims …. Yeah Right!!! But I had been given my orders by the #Therapist – AGAIN!!!  So I was being sensible-ish to take it a bit easier and train smarter. As the week went on I took more rest/recovery time and planned in almost 2 rest days before doing the TRIATHLON. (A Rest Day feels so wrong when you just don’t do anything.) I was constantly reminded by the #Therapist of the benefits gained from rest days and the improved performance I would get.

Yesterday was the TRIATHLON event and I had prepared myself the best I could – it was going to be a complete failure or an amazing experience – I was hoping for the later obviously. The 5.45am start of the journey meant an early and nervous night’s sleep was on the cards – plus the constant checking in my head of the ‘Kit List’ needed and packed in the car boot. I had received lots of support from family & friends and best wishes etc … from my training buddies. (The #Therapist took time to chat and wished me luck too.)

Then that was it – the long weeks of training had paid off, the event flashed by so quickly that I was so amazed at my own performances and unbelievably had completed it far more easily that I had thought ….   I was now a TRIATHLETE ….

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Now on reflection of what I had achieved under difficult circumstances over the months, I saw a newer & stronger me emerging from the experiences … I had taken the time and advice from the experts to benefit my recovery – be it in an unusual way for some. I believe that a fit body will also help a fit mind – in my case the body was fine and it was the mind that needed the support – refocused and stronger I believe I am ready to return to my normal life a much better person. (The #Therapist has given me the confidence to be me again and hold my head up high ….    even if it isn’t always what I want to do.)

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Good Girl – the final straw

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No apology is offered for the cryptic way in which this blog entry has been written – the contents or hopefully the thought provoking manner in which you should look at yourself & others in the future.

Training Days 806 through to Training Day 900 have been absent in their contents over the past period of time – with out any explanation requested or offered. A strange scenario considering it was a daily occurrence without fail; recording the physical experiences of an individual trying to rehabilitate after surgery.

The image of the ‘Machine’ constantly working, training and challenging the boundaries of personal fitness levels – motivating others with tales of achievement & progress … of small targets being met and new targets set. A Champion of Health & Wellbeing, of physical prowess and macho activities – promoting the image of being ‘Super-Human’ in strength and support for others.

But there was a secret being hidden – the infallible mask of success could no longer be covered with plasters, cracks had become crevasses deep and wide. No longer would the smile & laughter be seen. Instead just pain & isolation slowly overwhelming the facade of perfection and happiness.

Then the last straw, a simple yet dramatic comment that would have far reaching consequences for the future;        ‘Good Girl’…    a praising comment for achieving something, a positive view of a pleasing outcome … turned into a negative and demeaning criticism  – after the last 18months it was going to be the last straw!!!  Yet in reality, Life was going to make a significant turning point –  professionally; an absence of mind & focus ….  and Personally; of simple everyday being.

Living a ‘LIE’ was going to be the new default mode, the public front to family, friends and colleagues. Talking the talk, sounding like a normal day, week, month and term – offering advice to others without hesitation – seeming like the ‘professional’ everyone thought and the strong & reliable Dad as always. But then a subtle change in approach or a point view was noted – a slip of the public persona, resulting in one person starting a private conversation about their concerns. How could the ‘Machine’ still be functioning at the levels being promoted on a daily basis or was it just bravado and bluster?

Questions where asked, opinions shared and the truth came out – a weakness in the armour had opened up to spill the evidence. Yes the extreme levels of physical exercise are all true, the barriers of exhaustion have been pushed to new heights – no longer was the ‘Machine’ well oiled and efficient at life. Something had been going badly wrong and was being cleverly hidden from family & friends for months. Isolation had turned into frustration, frustration into anger, anger into adrenaline – fight or flight to be exact, and adrenaline into excessive physical challenges (EG: 250km+ bike riding, 70km+ Running & 4miles swimming a week was becoming the Norm.) Praise and adulation rang out loudly, with many in awe of these achievements – constantly being bettered on a daily reporting.

When night time came and physical exhaustion was at its peak – the mind would kick into overdrive and relive the past months of so called failure  – later medically identified as anxiety & depression. But how could this be …  the tower of strength for the family, the motivator of many and the physical demigod of training challenges. No one would believe such an individual could be so weak – so fragile and so ‘Human’ …   let alone a guilt ridden failure that had been hiding away and living a lie. (Writing a 10,000+ words document of my experiences initially didn’t help – it just made me relive & become angry again – Training Angry produced new heights of exhaustion though. But that ghost has been buried now.)

It is true ….  I was fallible and no longer able to rule my own World without the support of my family & friends …  I could cry and not be weak, I could ask for help without fear of being a failure, I could be seen as ‘only human’ without being judged. All these changes came as a result of someone noticing ‘ME’ … not my persona or my alter-ego but the real ‘ME’ stumbling through life at a great rate of knots.

I truly thank this person for taking time with me, persuading me to talk to family & friends (My Sons & closest family/friend at first) and to re-evaluate my mindset. Talking was the hardest thing for me – I’m a good listener and can usually offer sound advice to others – but don’t take the time to listen to what I knew I had to do when I had long conversations with myself in the early hours of the morning. The ‘gut’ feeling was right for this person and they acted on it.

So, as many of my colleagues are embarking on a well earned rest over the next few weeks, I ask you to consider just one thing in the future – your own & colleagues’ Health & Wellbeing. Notice any subtle changes and don’t just think they are having a bad day – go with your gut feeling and talk to them about anything and nothing of significance .. it is a key for them or you to open up.

Finally, to my circle of friends that will no doubt be feeling a little annoyed with me and I understand why, please remember it was hard to open up and ask for help. That step has been taken now and a pathway plotted to my recovery – for which I know I will have your love and support. I don’t do sympathy  …  I just ask for your patience.

 Reset – Default Day 1

 

 

 

Training Diary – Day 805

What a lovely hot evening it was tonight – plenty of sunshine and blue sky to make the training session more enjoyable. The decision was about where to train – inside the gym or another trip around the local roads… It was down to my training buddy #Derek – as our #HIITs Class was cancelled and we would be left to our own devices today.

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It was a short 5km run tonight – not feeling the positivity that I usually have. A #BadDay that wasn’t going to get any better with my training – I have been feeling quite annoyed all day so the frustration was really pent up.

Next it was an hour of weights circuit training – using a range of the different machines to focus on upper body & ABS muscle groups. It was more about heavy weights (for me) rather than high reps. I thought that I had done enough when I finished until I got into my car to drive home again. But for some reason I just felt that I needed to go and do some more training.

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I had this mad impulsive idea of going for a bike ride – maybe about 20km to finish off any frustrations I still had. After sorting out my change of clothes and getting my energy drink ready, I then set off – in that direction …..   basically a #RideForestRide mode.

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I just rode and rode until I realised I was at the half way point of my middle distance route – a lot further than I had thought about doing – 17.20km. I was full of energy and feeling the need to improve my time for the return journey – and I was going to do it.

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This is the route, plus a little extra around the local road to complete the 35km distance. But more importantly I was impressed with my time – 81mins02secs for the distance, knocking off over 4mins+ from my previous fastest time.

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Apart from the feeling of being shattered again, the smile in this photo is a genuine one – one of being pleased with my efforts. I will now refocus on setting newer target times to beat over the next few weeks.

 

Training Diary – Day 804

A bit of a rough/disturbed night last night, legs felt sore & achy more than usual – that is another side effect of a ‘rest Day’ that I don’t like. Some stretching and bending before leaping out of bed made the transition to getting up a little easier.

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Tonight it was a road run with a training buddy #Derek, which is a fairly comfortable pace for me, as he isn’t a lover of running – more of a ‘got to do it so I will’ type of runner.

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We did the above route, plus an extra lap around the gym (an extra 750m) to be just short of 6km tonight – in #sub40mins. This isn’t a bad pace for #Derek and he was trying out a proper pair of running trainers he had bought, (I used it as a recovery/easy run to ease out the stiffness in my quad/calf muscle groups.)

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Afterwards, I felt it only fair that I do a little extra than #Derek and went out on my bike to do a short 14km (ish) mainly flat ride, around the cycle paths ways and back. The time wasn’t special (about 27mins) – just a blow the cobwebs off from today. Tomorrow will be back to some proper training and increased challenges.

Training Diary – Day 803

A double entry for today as I was too shattered yesterday to update the blog.

Monday – Part One

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Monday was a Bank holiday and I had agreed to help yet another New Training Buddy #VickyF with her long run. (I wasn’t running with her, as I’d run the day before, so I was going to use my bike and ride her route with her.) Due to it being her long run from her Marathon training plan, we arranged to meet up at a local railway station – at 05.00am for a really early start. The picture makes it look light already but I can assure you it was still dark.

After a few miles, the sunrise was clearly visible over the farmer’s fields – it make you think you where in the middle of nowhere; the sound of the birds breaking the silence and the empty roads made it very pleasant to run/ride along.

We passed several of the local beauty sites and places of culture during the first 10miles or so – too many to mention but these photos are just a small taste. The ‘Lighthouse’ was really visible along the coastline and we followed it to the ‘Car’ – being puzzled how it had managed to get to its resting place, nowhere near a road or suitable route to drive to…

The return journey back along the coastal path was more of a challenge for both of us, Vicky with her running and now heavy legs kicking in, and my riding along the trail that wasn’t really suitable for my road bike. But all credit to Vicky, she fought her demons, she battled her aches & pains and she even moaned ‘politely’ when I insisted doing a slight additional distance to her route.

I knew she was working hard for the last 2-3miles of her route, she kept on talking about how heavy her legs were feeling – especially going up small inclines that she had smashed at the beginning of the run. The final mile or so, even though flat (ish) was the biggest battle for her – she was definitely fighting any demons to complete the distance and a big #Welldone to her for doing it. (I know it was hard for Vicky because I also found it hard just riding her route – heavy legs and energy levels are barriers that I also had to overcome.)

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The route & distance completed and the compulsory ‘Selfie’ photo had to be taken. But don’t be fooled by our smiles … they are just as much a struggle as it was for the last mile. The endurance of running/riding for around 3.5hrs was definitely a challenge.

I was so impressed with #VickyF and all I did was to be her #Official Photographer, Bodyguard, Psychologist, Venting board, Cheerleader, Map reader, Route planner, extra mileage adder, joker, entertainer and maybe a few others that I have forgot – oh even shouted encouragement/ motivation for the last few miles …

Monday – Part Two

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After the run/ride – #VickyF went home to her family and I went straight to Liverpool to do the #DragonBoatChallenge – a charity event involving a number of teams in long boats. This was going to be my 2nd year at doing the event and loveld every minute of it last year.

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Our gym had registered 2 teams this year and we also renewed our rivalry with a group of local builders we knew. (Last year the builders beat us in the final.) As expected, the banter, the slating, the competitiveness came out again – all in good fun and we did actually support each other’s teams/boats when racing again the other crews in the event.

At the end of our races, which we all worked so hard to do our best – our boat came 4th in the Final, which was no easy achievement considering we hadn’t been in a boat together before this event. The builders came 2nd over all and they did brilliant too.

The day for me had been a very long & tiring one – with lots of energy being used up for me to complete the 2 activities. I was officially shattered and needed to get home for a much deserved rest.

Tuesday

Today, was the complete opposite for me. I had heeded to the ‘Train Smarter’ advice given to me by the #Physio – deciding to have a complete rest day from all exercise and relaxing my aching muscles/body.

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I booked an appointment for some treatment on my quad/knee muscles after yesterday’s effort. Luckily for me I was able to get an hour appointment with #Marcus and he sorted out some swelling of my quad/knee and then a massage of my legs to help get rid of the stiffness and heavy feeling in them. I was also reminded of my ‘Train Smarter’ advice he gave me a few weeks ago – which I have been following too. All being well and if I follow the advice given, he thinks I should be fine to continue my training for the Liverpool R&R HM in 3 weeks time – this was all I wanted to hear.

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On a different note – the Public Ballot opened for next year’s London Marathon – so everyone I know was applying to do it ….  just had to be done – so I applied but am not expecting to get a place …..   but at least I applied.

 

Training Diary – Day 801

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We set up a FB group of like-minded sports enthusiasts and today we have designed our own training top – with the above picture across the back. The front will have our own name and one of the symbols to which we are enthused about doing. Only a small group of about 40+ members at the moment but it is growing too.  (That was just some exciting news to do with our training.)

Today’s session was a 10miles+ run with a few hill climbs added in – the longest being about 3km right at the start. My training/running buddy was #PaulB and we did the same route as last week and were looking for an improvement in our times. (To be truthful, I knew I was going to struggle today because of the heavy sessions I have done all week. But that was not going to be my excuse.)

#PaulB has come on really well over the past 12months, increasing both his speed & distances to get New PBs quite regularly. For me again, it was just about getting some miles in my legs – longer runs in preparation for the #LiverpoolR&R HM in 4 weeks.

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As usual we checked the conditions and made our plans – the sun was shining and it was going to be a warm one. The forecast was to get a bit windy in the afternoon, making it harder to do this route, the wind tunnel effect comes to mind.

Sadly the forecast was a little wrong regarding the wind. As soon as we hit the main road the wind was significantly blowing straight at us, running into a head wind is difficult at the best of times but this was 2 steps forward, one step backwards. Without realising, we had increased our pace from 9mins30sec pace per mile to sub9mins mile and that was hurting. By the time we had reached the 3miles mark I was struggling with the pace, the wind and had heavy legs – my quad was starting to tighten up too. Luckily for me we met up with 3 other runners from the Running Club – #JohnP, #MarinaM & #JanS, they had gone out much earlier for their long run today. After a quick chat and the problems with the wind, we set off again on our different runs.

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Because the ‘Dream Monument’ is on top of the hill, great view of the countryside though, #PaulB was able to go ahead of me along a slightly longer path, whilst I took the shorter but steeper route to the top. This was the halfway point and I needed to do a few stretches whilst sat having my energy drink – and of course the compulsory ‘Selfie’ to prove we reached the top. The distance for me today was 8.1km and my time was 46mins34secs – #Paul obviously did slightly long in a similar time.

The return route is pretty much easier for the majority of it – mainly down hill and some stretches of flat to recover on. Or so you would have thought!! Yeah right … the wind had now changed direction and was a head wind again – straight into our faces with what seemed like more force. The temperature had risen too and we had the swirling dust/bits getting into our eyes and causing another problem for us. It wasn’t as pleasurable as we had expected.

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This photo doesn’t actually demonstrate how hot it was at the end of this run – and our ‘Smiles’ in the selfie are more forced than you think. I have to admit I struggled today and was so relieved when it was over – as was #PaulB I assume too. The total distance for the run – according to my Garmine was 16.21km in a time of 92mins52secs – a pace of #Sub9mins30secs per mile. (#PaulB’s distance would have been slightly longer because of his mustering.) This time puts us on track for #sub2hrs2mins for the HM – slightly faster than last week’s pace so not too bad a run as we thought.

Training Diary – Day 800

#ParkRunSaturday

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#LazyGitSleptIn – missed parkrun this morning because I didn’t hear the alarm going off. Oh well – no official time but didn’t stop me doing my local 5km road route in 26.18secs.

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Pleased with that as my speed is starting to improve again – due to the bike work, and I am getting back to my pre-injury 5km times again.

Trouble for me today was getting called a ‘Lazy Git’ because I missed the parkrun. That was like a major challenge being thrown down to me – which I duly accepted and posted a shout out to anyone wanting to do a long bike ride with me.

A training buddy from a while back took up my challenge – #TonyRange, we used to do a fair bit of running/training together until he got injured and then I got injured – messed our training opportunities up big time.

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Anyway #Tony is a big bike fan and has done it for many years – he’s quite good at it really but pretends he is just ‘alright.’  After getting my hair cut yesterday and then going for the bike ride, I had a very sore head because of the helmet rubbing – left a red mark on my forehead. (That wasn’t going to happen today because I bought myself a red buff to wear.)

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Despite being tired from this mornings run, I was hoping #Tony was going to push the pace a bit for me – making my challenge just that little bit harder. We did really well on the hill climb sections for the first half of the route – finding our comfort zone/pace whilst still having a bit of a chat about the route.

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The return journey wasn’t as windy as we anticipated and we cruised along the ‘wind tunnel’ without too much of a problem. We didn’t have much luck with the traffic lights though, probably got caught by most of them – which slowed us down or stopped us. The final distance was 34.86km for the route and we completed it in a time of 84mins12secs – a fair time and one that showed we both worked hard to do it.

For the rest of tonight it will be chill time and preparing for tomorrow’s long run with another training buddy #Paul. We are aiming for 10miles+ tomorrow as a build up to the Liverpool R&R HM in 4 weeks time. (Just aiming to get as close to the #2Hour mark for the HM over then next few weeks.