Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Six Nations 2018

Saturday, March 17th, 2018 | Sport

Seriously, we’re three of the five teams that compete in the Six Nations, how did Britain not win?

Spin class

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 | Sport

Last week I went to my first spin class. I was a bit nervous about going as I worried I would be the only man in a room full of women, and that everyone else would have done a spin class before. It turns out that some fears are justified.

I didn’t really get what it was about. With a regular exercise class, it makes sense. There is an instructor there that tells you to do different things. But what can you do on a bike? Do they just sit at the front shouting “pedal faster”?

The answer to that question is basically yes.

Sometimes you pedal slowly in a high gear. Sometimes you pedal fast in a low gear. Sometimes you stand up and sometimes you sit down. Occasionally you alternate between the two which turns into some kind of press-ups on a bike. The instructor is also there to be a DJ, synchronising the instructions to the music.

I like it as a workout. It pushes you harder than you can push yourself. And there was another guy there. He turned up late and looked like he had only come to support his girlfriend, but technically he was there.

2018 Winter Olympics

Monday, March 5th, 2018 | Sport

A record haul for Team GB this year, but that is a total of five medals. There is one big question we’re all asking, though: how exactly do you train for the skeleton? I mean, I don’t know anywhere that has a skeleton track.

An ode to Elizabeth Marian Swaney

Sunday, March 4th, 2018 | Sport

The 2018 Winter Olympics featured 2,921 of the world’s best Olympians. And an American skier sporting a Hungarian flag named Elizabeth Marian Swaney.

She competed in the half-pipe for Hungary. There wasn’t much in the way of tricks. She did grab her skies at one point. That was about it. You can watch her run on the BBC website.

The reason she was competing for Hungary is that they have no selection criteria. Unlike the first two nations, she tried to compete for. But, having enough of a varied lineage, is eligible to compete for three.

There is much debate as to whether she was the best, or worst, Olympian.

The answer is “the worst”, of course, but I still like her. Like many others have commented, she gives the rest of us hope. I’ve been running for 25 years. My vo2 max is 45. That’s what an average man of my age would have as standard. Some athletes have double that. I’m never going to be Mo Farah because I don’t have the innate ability.

But I could be Elizabeth Marian Swaney, because she doesn’t have any innate ability, either.

Aero bell

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018 | Sport

If you ask yourself “what is the most ridiculous way you could blow money in order to try and save an insignificant amount of time in your time trial?” you would probably come up with this.

It’s an aero bell. And one review said that it could take 45 seconds off your time trial. So, all I need to do is find 182 other ways to do this and I should be able to beat Chris Froome.

I didn’t really want this on my bike. But, it has been so cold recently, that the bell that came with my bike snapped off. It has a plastic ringer and it just couldn’t handle the cold. So, I tried to find a replacement. And there are lots. If you want a Disney princess bell on your bike.

I didn’t, so I tried to order a small one from Amazon. That didn’t fit. In my desperation to find a search term that would find an adult bell, rather than a child’s, I tried aero bell, thinking it was almost too ridiculous to consider, but having run out of other options. Which is when this turned up.

How much faster does it make me? I’m not sure yet. But hopefully, it will double my average speed.

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.


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.


Next step: try and consistently run under 25 minutes.