Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Bramley Baths indoor triathlon

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 | Sport

Last Sunday, Bramley Baths triathlon team ran an indoor triathlon: swim, bike and run using the pool, gym bikes and treadmills. It was a lot of fun, despite what the facial expression in the photograph might suggest.

The course

The race started with a 250-yard swim in the pool. Yep, yards. Bramley Baths was constructed in 1904 and metric wasn’t a big thing back then. This knocked nearly 10% of the distance off from when I calculated my expected swim time in The Edge’s pool.

After that, it was on to the fitness studio where they had static bikes set up. Finally, on to the gym to use the treadmills.

Transitions were untimed for safety reasons: they didn’t want people rushing around the building and running into each other, other gym users and the many sharp corners that feature in Edwardian architecture. This meant it was a fairly stress-free event, especially as there was a short queue for the bikes, giving us time to get our breath back.

The results

My combined time was 30:23, which placed me 7th out of 31 participants. This broke down to 5:19 in the swim, 20:37 on the bike and 4:27 on the run.

30:23

I’m pleased with that. It would have been nice to get my bike under 20 minutes (and thus my time under 30 minutes), as I have ridden faster on the gym bikes at The Edge. However, I’m not sure how comparable they are to each other (or real riding) as I don’t know how accurate the speed and distance calculations are.

My swim was slightly ahead of my predicted time (5:36), but I wasn’t pushing that hard when I set my estimated time, and I knew I had an untimed transition coming up, so I went a little harder than I would have done in a normal triathlon.

Running gait analysis

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 | Sport

Since I hurt my foot in November, it has taken a long time to get running again. So, I decided to invest in some injury prevention. Top of that list was a running gait analysis.

I could go to a running shop where they would put me on a treadmill and analyse what was going on. However, there is a severe risk that what would happen is that it would magically turn out I needed a new, £100+ pair of trainers. In fact, that’s exactly what did happen to me.

So, I was looking for somewhere that might be able to give me some better advice. I found David at West Leeds Practice. They are a physiotherapy clinic based in the city centre and one of the services they offer is a running gait analysis.

It’s certainly thorough. We started off with some strength exercises, testing the differences between my left and my right side. My left was weaker, and this was no surprise to me, but having measured it, David has then been able to give me a strengthening routine tailored to improving it.

Then I hopped on the treadmill and we did a video analysis. I ran for a little bit and then we analysed what was going on with my arms and legs from a range of different angles. There was some stuff here, too, such as my crossing my legs over the centre was I run. I think this was exhibited by the rather small size of the treadmill, but it’s something I’ve been mindful of ever since.

Finally, he gave me a set of foot pods to place on my trainers and monitor my running for a week. I went back a week later to get the analysis (all of which was included in my session) and we reviewed my cadence, ground contact time and oscillation. I’m working on improving my cadence at the moment. It’s too early to say whether it is working or not, though the few test runs I have done made things go from red to green on my Garmin run reports.

All in all, I like what they do. David was very evidence-based and the analysis is certainly in detail: we looked at a lot of different things and reviewed all the ways I could improve my technique and reduce the chance of future injury. If you run a lot, it is worth investing in.

Super Bowl LII

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 | Sport

This is what a Super Bowl party looks like when you grow up and lose all of your friends:

Venla, my sole companion for the evening, fell asleep two hours before kick-off.

Which is a shame, because it was a great game. It felt like the narrative had gone a bit off the rails when the Patriots didn’t win. I’m not used to that happening in Super Bowls. It also means that Brady had now lost three Super Bowls: one more he’ll match the record (I’m not bragging, but I haven’t lost any).

The Eagles finish the season on a high, and while it’s not quite the five straight wins that the 49ers finished the season with, the Eagles can be proud of what they have achieved.

And now Elina can enjoy a blissful six months of no NFL.

Middleton Winter Duathlon

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 | Sport

A few weeks ago I took part in the Middleton Winter Duathlon. It was a run-bike-run affair with 2.5km of running, 5km of biking and a final 2.5km of running.

The picture above is not Middleton woods. But I was too busy racing to take a photo so this stock one will have to do.

The event itself was reasonably well organised. There were plenty of marshalls. It wasn’t always quite clear where we were supposed to go, but on the whole, I got around. And I got a t-shirt, which isn’t bad for £5 registration.

The results haven’t appeared on the website. My phone clocked me in at 42:34. That’s quite slow, primarily because the bike course was entirely on a hill so my pace up the hill was much slower than it would be on the flat. It’s on Map My Run.

EDIT: They’ve seen emailed around a link to a Facebook page with the results displayed in a giant image. Strange, but it works. I came 13th out of a field of 35. My official time was 42:22.

Parkrun 143

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 | Sport

I’m really enjoying being able to run again. I’m still getting a bit of pain in my foot, but not like when it was injured. So, with it being pacer day at Woodhouse Moor I decided to make an attempt at following the 25-minute pacer.

I’ve only managed sub-25 once, and that was when I set my PB (obviously).

Things did not start well. The guy disappeared into the crowd and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find him. It was only as I headed down the hill on the final lap that I saw a crowd of people gathered around a man in blue.

With my heart about to explode (200 bpm) I caught up and passed him on the final corner. Result. But, as it turns out, he must have been slightly ahead of pace as when I got the email, it turned out I had set an all-new PB. By one second.

24:36

Next step: try and consistently run under 25 minutes.

7 reasons The Edge is better than Kirkstall pool

Monday, January 29th, 2018 | Sport

I’ve been training at Kirkstall leisure centure for a few months. However, since January it’s been rammed. 9-10 people per lane, which is just too many to get a proper workout.

So, I decided to give The Edge at Leeds University a go. I’ve only been twice but so far it has been a success. Here’s why.

It’s open all of the time

Kirkstall has specific sessions. For example, I used to go to the 12:00 to 13:30 session. Most of the time the pool is closed, or something else is happening, so you can’t go. You have to wait for the specific sessions.

At The Edge, the pool is open almost all of the time. There are a few sessions such as water polo or canoeing where they close the whole pool. However, for most events, they just close a few lanes and keep the rest of the pool open.

You can swim for ages

At the end of a session at Kirkstall, you get kicked out. At The Edge, you can swim until you get bored.

It’s bigger

They have eight lanes. They’re half the width of Kirstall’s three, but it feels a much better way to do it as it reduces the number of people per lane. They have multiple slow lanes, for example. And a double lane at the end if you would prefer that.

It’s deeper

Kirkstall goes from 0.8 metres to 1.6 metres. 80cm of water is not enough for an adult. It’s a family place so I understand why they do it. But I can stand up, on flat feet, at any point in the pool.

The Edges goes from 1.2 metres to 2.0 metres. Their floor can go up and down so sometimes they bring it to 0.9 metres in the shallow end. But even then the whole thing is deeper, and that is only if you go to the morning sessions. The rest of the time it is much better.

It’s cheaper

Off-peak, The Edge costs £4.50. That’s the price the public play, let alone if you’re a member of the university. At Kirkstall it is £4.90. There is no off-peak price because nobody in Kirstall has a job.

They have hair dryers

They might be rubbish, but The Edge does have hair dryers that do work eventually.

The lockers are bigger

They have these big square lockers that are much wider than most places. This makes it much easier to squeeze your bag into.

How I survived Dry January

Friday, January 26th, 2018 | Sport

This isn’t about alcohol at all, of which I had some, but about sporty things that happened (or did not happen) in January.

In November, I injured my foot during a run. It didn’t seem too bad at the time but when the pain didn’t go away I knew something was up. So, I’ve been resting it since then and trying to build the strength back up in it.

I’m not sure whether it was worked or not. I’m still getting some pain when I run, but I’m not getting the pain first thing in a morning that I was. But maybe this will build up over time. It will be exciting (well, depressing) to find out.

This meant that I had to miss the Sir Titus Trot on 7 January. I was gutted. Less than a week into 2018 I had the chance to tick off one of my big fitness goals for the year: a sub-2 hour half marathon. Foot aside, I’m confident I could have hit that, especially in the chill of January and the flatness of the canal.

In another way, I’m proud of myself, though. It was an agonising two days after my doctor’s appointment, deciding whether “rest it completely” meant “rest it completely after your race on Saturday”. But, in the end, I managed to resist the temptation.

So, this has thrown my whole running plan off. I wanted to go on after the Sir Titus Trot and do more, but that’s all off the table now as well. The first three months of the year were a perfect time to get some running in at ideal temperatures before I move my focus to triathlon for the summer. Alas.

Bramham duathlon

Speaking of which, there was another Braham duathlon scheduled for Sunday 21 January. I was looking forward to using it as adversity training: racing it in the rain and the snow would give me confidence in my bike handling skills. Confidence which I want in case it rains in one of my A races for 2018.

Unfortunately, a survey of the bike course revealed it was too icy to race on, so the event had to be cancelled.

Tomorrow is the Middleton duathlon: let’s hope for better luck there.

Running shoes

Thursday, January 11th, 2018 | Sport

Back in August, I wrote about how I had to finally retire my Nike Air Retaliate 2 running trainers with a pair of Nike Air Zoom Elite 8s.

They have served me in the short term. I went sub-50 in the 2017 Abbey Dash, for example, and have set a bunch of personal bests at Parkrun.

However, they’re also just a bit too small. They cram my toes in a little too much and this, I think, is contributing to blistering on longer runs. So, after five months of being in denial about the size issue, I decided I had to face up to it and start another journey of trying to find some running shoes.

I started at Up & Running, who put me on a treadmill and pronounced my an overpronator. This may well be true, although it’s not really a problem I have noticed. And seemed to miss the problem that I came in with. They sold me a pair of Aiscs GT 2000s.

I did not get on with these. So, I took them back and traded them for a pair of Saucony Guide ISOs.

These were definitely better. But still not perfect. The toe guard cut into the top of my foot. And with a £120 price tag, I felt that something I didn’t like as much as my Nikes probably wasn’t a keeper. So, I went to the old reliable Nike Factory Shop and to see what they had to offer. I came away with a pair of Nike Vomeros.

Unfortunately, at this point, I strained a ligament in my ankle so I couldn’t run for a week or two. My kitchen table looked like a shoe shop for a week until I could test them all out. After much thought, including trying every combination on the treadmill with one shoe on my right foot and one on my left, I decided not of them were right.

The Vomeros are Nike’s heavily cushioned shoe and that was annoying the hell out of me. So, I took them all back.

I had past Up & Running’s two-week return window, but they were kind enough to take them back anyway. So, I now think they are lovely people.

After all of this, I went down to the Nike Outlet Store at Junction 32. An outlet store is different to a factory store. How you may ask? The Factory Store has lots of stock of the latest models. The Outlet Store has a wider but far more random collection of stuff. And all of the shoe box lids are ripped off.

This is the end game of capitalism: do you want to pay £20 more for your trainers to get a shoe box lid? I really like the orange shoe boxes. In the end, the Yorkshireman got the better of me and I decided that no, I didn’t want to pay £20 for the shoe box. I came away with a pair of Nike Air Zoom Spans.

These have some cushioning in, which will be better for the longer runs. But, more importantly, it is pretty stiff as cushioning goes. Therefore, I’m hoping I can tolerate it because you still get a responsive ride.

They also have more support than my Zoom Elites, and Solereview.com said it was comparable to the Saucony Guides, so if I do need a bit more support than I was getting, hopefully, these will provide it.

Festive Fifty

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 | Sport

On New Year’s Eve, I took part in my first sportive. It was a 50km spin around Selby to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fun based at the LGI. Several hundred people turned out for it and the event raised £2,000.

As my first sportive, I didn’t really know what to expect. The race HQ was Squire’s Biker Cafe. It’s basically a pub with food options and seemingly unlimited parking. Both the pub and the organisers, Sportive HQ, did a great job in running everything. It was clear what was going on, there were no big cues and everything ran smoothly.

Plus, the photos they took were available for free. In contrast, you often pay £20-30 at events like Run For All (well, I don’t pay that, obviously, because I’m from Yorkshire).

I made great progress for the first 35km, averaging 24.6kmph. My theories that I was much faster on quiet roads than I was on the canal or the endless traffic lights of inner Leeds was all coming true.

However, for the final 15km, as we headed back to complete the loop, it became clear why I was making such great time: a big headwind, which had presumably been a tailwind on the way out. In the end, my pace clocked in at 22.1kmph, a full .4kmph below where I need to be for triathlon.

It makes you realise just how easy they have it when riding in the peloton in the Tour de France and makes what Thomas De Gendt does even more impossible.

I enjoyed the group riding. My friend Bogdan was riding it, too, and having caught me up at the feed station we rode back together.

I’m looking forward to doing more. Especially once it warms up so that I can take my hat off. I think I lost a few kilometres per hour by having the world’s tallest head.

Parkrun by bike

Sunday, December 24th, 2017 | Sport

I’m still going easy on my ankle so I decided to cycle to Parkrun. It was the first time I have done so, so I thought I would document some of my thoughts.

Padded cycling shorts make a big difference. I went out in my running gear and noticed I felt a little uncomfortable almost as soon as I was on the bike. Then I remembered why: I always wear my cycling shorts on the bike, even for triathlons (no, it doesn’t feel like wearing a nappy, that much). I think investing in some tri shorts for these occasions might be in order.

It’s nice having the bike there because you can carry things like bottled water and a jumper for cold days. Of course, you can’t leave anything valuable on the bike.

My belt makes a better shortage solution than my short pockets, especially for keys. It doesn’t fit my phone in, though, so I need a better solution for that when running off the bike.