Speedo Tri Suit : First Look

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If you’re not familiar with my blog, it involves a lot of talking (well writing I guess!) about bikes and other things going on in my life…one of those things being training for my first Triathlon. And my hunt for a Tri Suit was made surprisingly easier thanks to Simply Swim!

I’ll be letting my lovely readers know how I get on with it after using it for my Tri in April, but I wanted to write a few first thoughts down first.

On the initial try on of the suit I’m not going to lie…I wasn’t sure where to start! The built in sports bra that zips up the front under the main body of the tri-suit meant there was an ‘order’ that made it much easier to get on than any other way! There was a lot of squeezing and twisting involved…but eventually I was in and it fits surprisingly well! I’m always a bit hesitant to get clothing/kit off the internet because I’m always worried it won’t fit. But the Speedo Tri Suit didn’t disappoint.

Despite it being mainly black I love the pink and high-vis detailing. There’s a bit of colour, but not over the top and maybe the high-vis detailing will make me more visible when out on the ride and run. It even has two handy pockets on the rear to hold gels!

When it comes to leg width of lycra shorts I often have issues, but I was happy to find out this Tri-Suit could accommodate my cyclist quads…despite being a Small! They even have a men’s equivalent with green detailing…have a look at it here.

For £80, to me it seems the perfect suit for someone wanting to have a go at a Triathlon. From experience, I know it’s easy to get carried away looking at all of the kit you think you need, but for your first Tri? Does it really need to be more complicated than it needs to be?

Looking through Simply Swim’s vibrant range of products for all ages, I might even pop an order in myself to get some brighter swim suits to use in the Summer!

 

#WorkoutWednesday : Taking Time Out


I wanted to do something a little different for this week’s #WorkoutWednesday post. I enjoy posting about what I’ve been doing in training, but sometimes other things pop up that stop you from doing so.

If you weren’t already aware, I spent my weekend in London/Milton Keynes with Ryan. He’s always travelling back at the weekend and sometimes I feel a little guilty I can’t go down to see me as much. I’ve not ventured onto Motorways when driving yet, so doing it alone scares me!

So last weekend I went to see him, and coincidentally the London Bike Show was on too, so that’s where we went. But I’m going to talk about our wander round a park and some woods the day after. 

A short walk from the hotel we were staying in we ended up at a cafe called the ‘Pavillion’ somewhere in Bedford. It seemed a different way of life round there. Somewhere where the rhythmic hustle and bustle of London is so accessible, yet still so far away.

The Park was full of families spending valuable time with each other. Friends meeting up for coffee. This little cafe seemed a hub for socialising. 
I was so glad Ryan found this little cafe because it was so nice to sit somewhere relaxed with great food! I had an interview I wanted to write, but this turned out being something we both worked on. I loved writing it. We could just bounce ideas off each other and was much more productive than if it was just me writing it. I can’t wait to post the interview, but more information on that soon!

So what’s the whole point of this post? It is a #WorkoutWednesday after all! My point is that sometimes time out can do you good. 

Following the cafe we went for a wander round a park and then a quiet nature reserve nearby. Muddy tracks that we had no real idea about where they were heading. We just walked. I could not get over how quiet it was and thinking about how beautiful it must be there in the Spring & Summer.


An arrangement of trees that made up an orchard. Collections of snowdrops dotted around and occasionally a view over open fields. We talked about everything and everything. It was good to focus my mind on something and somewhere completely different. To explore.

I train to escape daily life like anyone else, but it is so so easy to get to engrossed in that training mindset. You’ll soon find time is running away from you and all you’ll have been doing is training. Yes, it’s important, but it’s just a good be able to go back to it with a clear head and new motivation.

Getting To Know Drops Cycling


A team of women, from seasoned pros to up and coming juniors, Drops Cycling are heading into their second year of road racing 15 riders strong. With two men at the head of the team, you wouldn’t think they’re any different from other female cycling teams. If this is the case you’re view on the team is very…very wrong. 

In the words of Laura Winter, “they’re doing it a different way, but the right way.”

Team Director, Bob Varney, pointed out they’re getting praised for treating the cyclists on their team the right way, which in a perfect world wouldn’t be done because it would be the norm. With recent media stories, we know this isn’t always the case.

“We’re getting praised for treating women the right way” – Bob Varmey

All the girls get paid, yet there isn’t the stressful and pressurised environment you’d expect from a professional cycling team. When some of the girls crashed or dropped off the pace at the Tour of California in 2016, there was no pressure on them to continue. Drops Cycling acknowledge the fact their younger girls are still learning. Some races are planned for them to race, others can be for certain members of the team to learn and gain experience from. 

‘Drops Cycling acknowledge the fact their younger riders are still learning.’

With the likes of Martina Ritter now on the team very much willing to share their experiences of the peloton with the younger team members, who knows where these girls will end up.

They can turn up to the race to compete (obviously), but to also still enjoy it and have incredible support from each other. When asked what makes a Drops Cyclist, the first thing that was said was to be a team player. As they head into their 2017 race season, I’ll be keeping up to date with their progress through their team magazine, The Drop, which is essentially their monthly team newsletter.

“…be a team player.”

Head to www.dropscycling.com to find out more or search @dropscycling on social media. 

#WorkoutWednesday 15th February 2017

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Lighter evenings are slowly reappearing meaning training outside after work is becoming more doable. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a great fan of being outside, alone and in the dark!

Following a long day stuck inside, the temptation to go for a run outside was too much! I wasn’t sure how far I’d go, but I knew I needed to run!

I’d not done sprints or intervals for a while, so I decided to try a workout that was on my Garmin.

Warm-Up

– 10 minutes of light running.

Workout

– 3 minute sprint

– 1 minute jog

– Repeat 3 times.

Cool Down

– 10 minutes of light running.

I’m not even sure where this session came from. I just came across it on Garmin Connect a few weeks back. I’ll admit it’s not the easiest of things to get through, but 32 minutes of pain can’t hurt nobody right????

Things You Learn from Cycling with Your Other Half: From Ryan’s Point of View

Since meeting Lucy, we’ve been on loads of bike rides. From the Cheshire plains to the hills of North Wales, as well as some off road stuff too. Our first ride together was one of the early dates and now it’s almost a weekly event.

Through our numerous rides, I’ve learnt a fair few things…

1. We’re both out of our comfort zones.

When you first start riding together, it’s likely to be a new experience for the pair of you, and we were no different. The pressure of navigating; trying not to get lost or make the ride longer than planned. Trying to set a pace that she can cope with and not run out of energy miles from home. It all adds up to a decent bit of pressure.

“Trying to set a pace that she can cope with…”

Conversely she’s going to be thinking the same sort of things; how far are we going, will I be able to keep up. The key thing is to communicate (which sounds simple I know) but if you talk and plan things out it can be a much more enjoyable ride.

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2. It’s not the same as riding with my normal riding buddies (but that’s not a bad thing)

Riding buddies tend to all be of similar abilities and you can all ride at a pace that requires effort, but everyone still manages to stay together (sometimes only just!). This isn’t the case when riding with your partner. There is going to be a difference in your abilities plain and simple, but this isn’t a bad thing.

“There is going to be a difference in your abilities…”

From my point of view it allows more time to chat and take in the views, which is what cycling is supposed to be about right? I can’t believe the number of nice views I’ve noticed on roads that I’ve ridden hundreds of times before, but always been too focused on the road ahead to notice them.

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3. It still counts as training.

As a competitive cyclist I attempt to follow a training plan. While riding with your partner might not be a hard interval session or a mega long endurance ride, it gives you something that is often massively overlooked by cyclists. Recovery. And more specifically active recovery. You might not be pounding the pedals, but going for an easy ride with your partner is a great way to allow your legs to recover from all the hard training and help you reap the benefits later.

“You should’t set off with the expectation of riding at a certain speed, riding with your partner is a time to forget about numbers and just enjoy the ride.”

4. Wear more clothes.

This is one that I’ve got wrong on several occasions and is more pertinent to the colder months. Through years of experience I’ve got to a place where I can open the back door in the morning and almost immediately gauge the amount of kit I need to wear to keep warm, but also not overheat. But when you’re riding with the other half at a lower intensity (getting that all important recovery) your body generates less heat and all that wisdom goes out the window. I now understand to put on more kit than I initially think I’ll need, otherwise I’m going to be in for a cold couple of hours.

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5. Always have sweets on standby.

This one comes from one ride in particular. We’d decided to go on an off road adventure through the Denbighshire moors, which was one of my favourite rides of 2016. The ride took much longer than we’d both expected and after running out of food at the halfway point, the last few miles were a right battle, both of us running on empty.

“I had a bag of emergency sweets stowed away in the car.”

Fortunately I had a bag of emergency sweets stowed away in the car. These were a godsend and perked us both up. Since then I’ve always kept some on standby just in case…

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6. There’s always more to talk about.

I’ve never been the most talkative person in the world, but there’s something about being on a bike that makes me turn into Mr Chatterbox. Even if I’ve been with Lucy solidly for the previous week I can always think of something else to talk about. And that’s great, chatting away makes the miles fly by, there’s nothing worse than riding along in silence.  At the end of the day your partner is someone you enjoy spending time with and going for a ride is just an extension of that.

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Women Working in STEM: Georgia Shiels

Coming out of the bubble that is education and into the real world can be a daunting thing.

What on earth do you do next?

When that was me a few years ago so many questions went through my head…

Do I find a job? Should I do a BTEC at college? Am I clever enough to study A-Levels?

It is a minefield if you ask me, but what always stuck out for me was engineering. I enjoyed maths and fixing my bikes; both things that could help me follow an engineering career path. I was always fascinated in how things work, which kind of helps too!

Now engineering isn’t for everyone, but I think the only reason it took me time to take the plunge and give it a shot was not knowing much about working in the industry when I was leaving school.

Enter my series of posts finding out about the women who are either working, or studying the STEM industries (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mechanics).

First in the series is Georgia Shiels, who at 21 years old is studying Automotive Engineering at Bolton University. When Georgia isn’t studying she spends her time rallying.

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So, take people back to the beginning. When did your interest in engineering start? Was it at a young age or later on? Do you think it matters if people grow to be interested later on?

To be totally honest… I don’t think I ever had an interest in engineering. My dad is a systems engineer but I never understood what that was. I always dreamed of being a teacher, then a pilot and finally a lawyer. My career ambition changed daily, as you can tell!

However, I was a total adrenaline junkie and loved anything that went fast; cars, bikes and aircraft. I learned to ride a bike without stabilisers at 3 years old and to drive a car at 15, so I suppose an aspect of engineering was always in my interests.

Engineering makes the world go round. Almost everything we see has been designed, built, and used through engineering processes. This is what makes engineering so interesting and so freeing. You don’t have to be interested in cars to be an engineer, you just have to have an interest in how things work, problem-solving and development.

“You just have to have an interest in how things work, problem-solving and development.”

I vowed that I would never attend university. A-levels put me off education for life! That was until I stumbled across Bolton University’s Automotive Performance Engineering degree and their course focusing on hands-on experience in motorsport! Despite still not knowing what engineering was; it was the best of both worlds for me, cars and engineering.

I absolutely love university and more importantly, I love the engineering degree. It is so diverse; applying maths, physics, project management and more to real-life “things”. The amazing thing is that you don’t have to be an engineer after graduation… the world is your oyster.

What interests you about it? Is it due to the driving side of things, or is there more that interests you about it? When did it occur to you that you could turn your interest into a career?

I passed my driving test at 17 and entered into the world of senior rallying. Forest rallying enhanced my passion for motorsport. I fell in love with rallying and this is when I decided I wanted to be the first ever female World Rally Champion. What better way to improve my chances than with an engineering degree from an up-and-coming university?!

All the pieces of the puzzle came together when I turned twenty. Following two gap years, during which so decided university was the right place for me, I now want to be there everyday. At 18, I don’t think I would have approached university in the same way. Everybody’s path in life is different.

“Everybody’s path in life is different.”


There’s plenty of ways to go into engineering now, such as apprenticeships and universities. What made you choose the university path?

I chose the university path for engineering as it offered me the time off I would need to go rallying. Apprenticeships are amazing and offer so much hands-on experience, but they couldn’t offer me the time to go rallying I needed.

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You’re studying at Bolton University. What’s it like to study there?

Studying at Bolton University is so much fun! The lecturers know their stuff and their individual expertise combines to create a huge wealth of knowledge. We have recently set up a motorsport society to bring everyone together through their love of motorsport. It’s a really exciting time and I can’t wait for the new engineering building to be open in September! It looks beautiful!


You’ve obviously got to strike a balance between studying and your rallying. How does a typical week pan out for you? Is the course more theory based or is a lot of time spent in the workshop?

It can be difficult. I won’t lie. I don’t watch TV, I don’t go out drinking very often and I use my time wisely. Gosh I make my life sound so boring! Ha! However, I get to go rallying. I have so much fun and still socialise. I spend time with family and friends and follow my dreams.

To strike a balance, you have to make sacrifices and be organised! Organisation is key! I’m very fortunate that my motorsport career adds value to my engineering degree and fits in with all the hands-on work experience we get at Bolton Uni.

“To strike a balance, you have to make sacrifices and be organised!”


What could you potentially do when you complete your degree? Is there a particular job role you’re aiming for?

I wanted to do an engineering degree to be a valuable asset to any motorsport team or manufacturer. It is such a competitive world that every little bit of knowledge and experience helps. I think it’s so important to be able to work with your engineers in a motorsport team and understand how your car works.

There’s still an essence of engineering being a male-dominated industry. What’s the ratio like of male to female students on your course? How do you find being in the industry?

There are very few girls on my engineering course, which Bolton University and I are actively taking steps to change. We have set up a motorsport society with girls on the board and I am a STEM ambassador to inspire young girls to get involved in engineering and/or motorsport. It’s so much fun and certainly won’t be a male-dominated environment one day!

“I am a STEM ambassador to inspire young girls to get involved in engineering.”

Dare to be Different are trying to help more females get involved in Motorsport, whether they’re driving or not. Do you find your involvement with them is helping you progress?

Inspiring more girls to get involved in motorsport starts from a very young age, usually primary school, and therefore it’s important to show these young impressionable girls that they can get involved and it can be a career path. A common problem I have seen is parents of teenage girls saying “I would never let my daughter drive rally cars.” And this is an issue. We need to work together to defy the stereotype of a male driver as this just isn’t the case anymore. Both girls and boys drive cars and both are involved in motorsport.

Want to be kept up to date with Georgia Shiels and her 2017 endeavours? Head to her website or social media profiles here:

Website: http://www.georgiashiels.co.uk

Twitter: @Georgia_Shiels

Instagram: @georgiashiels

Facebook: Georgia Shiels Rallying

All photos taken from Georgia’s website & Facebook page. 

#WorkoutWednesday 8th January 2017


I’m holding my hands up. I’ve completely fallen away from my training routine this week. I felt awful coming home from work on Monday and with a maths exam coming up, my head wasn’t fully in it either.

But excuses aside I have tried to do some training this week, even if that’s meant just doing what I can squeeze in.

Running and a gym session really, so what did I get up to in the gym?

I decided I wanted to make use of a medicine ball and exercise ball for training this week. Just to mix my gym sessions up a bit really and work different muscles.

Warm-Up

10 minutes on the bike. (Which is probably not enough for a good warm-up I’ll admit!)

Workout

1. Mountain Climbers to Frog

2. Plank to Pike on Exercise Ball

3. Commando Row
1. Plank Jacks

2. Press Ups with feet on exercise ball

3. Lunges with dumbells


1. Alternating Press Ups with medicine ball.

2. Ab Roll Outs on exercise ball

3. Russian Twists holding medicine ball.

Cool Down

Steady Run on the Treadmill 

Cobbles and Country Lanes

This weeks ride was thankfully less of a mission than last week. Not that I didn’t enjoy our ride in the Welsh hills last week, I just wasn’t sure if my legs could cope with hills two weeks on the bounce!

Following one of Ryan’s creative routes, of which I could not repeat on my own if I tried, we headed out  Cheshire way rather than deeper into Wales.


It was the type of ride that passed through quaint little villages that seem a whole world away from daily life. Cobbled bridges over slow moving rivers, where you end up surrounded by tiny cottages and narrow streets.


It was a social loop too. The best conversations happen whilst riding bikes.And being apart in the week, me and Ryan normally have a lot to catch up on!

Following some more twisty roads and country lane riding we find ourselves on a fairly narrow lane. One where even bikes and cars can’t really pass each other. With a BMW coming towards us we pulled into the end of a driveway to let him pass. Just as we’re about to head off again, two waggy tails appear at the gate begging for attention…being a dog-lover like I am…I can’t really resist!


After stopping to look at the view over the Cheshire plains we soon found ourselves home to warm ourselves up with a cup of tea.

Because I apparently now drink tea…despite years of saying I don’t like it.


Come Sunday morning Ryan was off out on a much longer ride than we’d done the day before, where I was more content with going for a run with Jenson alongside me. Although I’m not sure if he enjoyed it that much…he seemed to get a bit tired towards the end of it…

#TimeToTalk

Yes mental health is now all over the media, but is it really talked about?


Do we really take enough time to talk to others if they need to?

Or are we so wrapped up in the rat-race of daily life to notice those around us are struggling?

I still find there’s that slight awkward silence if it’s brought up. Some might see it as attention-seeking, where others just don’t appreciate what others are going or have been through.

So,

Don’t take offence if someone’s having an off day.

Everyone has bad things to deal with, so be a little more considerate…

Sometimes just a conversation with someone can boost their mood, so put your phone away and listen.

Start with a clean slate this February with how you treat others.

#WorkoutWednesday – January Stats

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First month of 2017 done, so how did it go?

| 79.4 miles cycled | 33.5 miles ran | 1 Personal Best | 100m in the pool accomplished |

I’ll be honest, I didn’t hit all of my targets. Those targets were:

  • 8.30 minute mile pace when running.
  • Ride 100 miles on my bike.
  • Swim 100m (in one go)

The swim 100m was a definite success! I’ve gone from just being able to do the odd 50m in a session (with mainly backstroke in-between) to a 5x100m drill set…in one month! I genuinely shocked myself! the 100m isn’t easy, but I’ll slowly work my way up to 200m for February.

I actually got a PB this month, which I didn’t actually realise until a week later…

I was looking through my stats to see how I was doing compared to last Summer’s attempts at running. And there it was. A new PB. During a track session with my local Triathlon club I had managed to set a new PB for 5k at 24:54 minutes. I have no idea how good this is in general, but for me I’m happy to be improving. My pace was also 8:15 minutes per mile, but I do need to work on this being a consistent pace when I’m running.

I didn’t manage ti ride the 100 miles I’d had planned either, which I am gutted about! I just felt a bit uneasy on the rides I missed to go out when it was threatening to snow…especially if I was going out on my own. Or maybe I just found it too hard to resist the temptation of staying warm and dry…

So what do I plan to do going into February?

  • Continue to work on the 8.30 minute per miles pace to make it consistent
  • Ride 100 miles on my bike (and actually achieve it this month!)
  • Swim 200m (in one go)

How did your January go? Let me know!

Want to catch up on this months blog posts?

(Gosh…I didn’t realise I’d been writing so much this month!)