Alderford Lake & Open Water Swimming

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A lot of what I do is overcoming the mental barrier to do it. This year a big goal is to gain confidence open water swimming. I’ve got confident in the pool now, so why not swimming outside too?

With the weather we’re having I knew it would be a good time to get my wetsuit back out. My last and first trip out in it wasn’t very successful at Manley Mere.

I messaged some friends I use to work with about Alderford Lake and I suddenly had plans to go open water swimming. With friends and not on my own this time.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

For newbies to open water swimming I’d definitely say Alderford Lake is better than Manley Mere. Alderford has an island in the middle and jetty’s you can swim too. Once you start swimming at Manley you’re committed to the 250m loop.

Squeezing into my wetsuit, we ventured into the lake. The expanse of water between me and the island was daunting. I knew I could do it if I managed to stay calm, but it was that weird situation of stressing about being able to stay calm.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A few breaststroke’s in I was off. Slowly, but I was moving. I tried not to think about not being able to put my feet down and to just concentrate on my stroke instead.

I wasn’t quite ready to do front crawl, so I just carried on smoothly and calmly with breaststroke.

I must admit I was making my shoulders works that’s for certain!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

Getting to the island was a massive hurdle for me. How far I swam probably wasn’t even that far, but I’d managed to keep my Chimp in its cage for once.

It was a big hurdle that also came as a massive relief. Like a massive weight off my shoulders had lifted. Open water triathlons have always been something I’ve wanted to do, but the swimming has stopped me doing it.

I’d love to have stayed in the water longer, but knew my body had dealt with quite a lot for the hour we were in there. It was better to get out when I felt good in the water, than let myself get too tired.

From the island we went to the other side of the lake, I had another break, then took the same route back. Swimming with other people definitely makes difference and I can’t thank Natalie and Emma for being so patient!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

I’ve overcome the first big hurdle…onto front crawl in open water next!

Swimming in Alderford LakeAlderford Lake

#InternationalWomensDay

International Womens Day

8th March marks International Women’s Day and rather than a long rambling post about equality amongst other things, I thought I would keep things positive by sharing a few women that inspire me to lead the life I do.

#1 Leena Gade

Since I ventured into the world of engineering, Leena’s achievements have definitely helped encourage me along the way. In the ‘man’s world’ of engineering, a career in the industry can sometimes be a little daunting.

#2 Lucy Charles

Whilst the thought of doing some of her training sessions makes me shudder, I love following Lucy’s training for Triathlon and Ironman competitions. If she’s not swimming she’s cycling, and if neither of those she’s probably running. Then there’s her gym work too. It makes me tired just typing it all!

#3 Jazz Carlin

I met the GB Swimmer when she came to my local gym for an event with Speedo and she is one of the most down to earth people I have met. Keen to help people with their swimming! I am always jealous however when she posts about training camps from somewhere much hotter than the UK.

#4 Joanna Rowsell Shand

I’ve been lucky enough to meet this incredible athlete at a Time Trial her and her husband organised in the West Pennines. I certainly didn’t expect to see her marshalling on the side of the road in the pouring rain warning us about a rather big pothole! With a big involvement in British Cycling’s Breeze programme, she’s doing more work than ever encouraging people to get active by riding bikes.

#5 Claire Rose

I met Claire at the Isle of Man in 2017 in the hours before she won her National TT Championship title. Her relaxed personality was a breath of fresh air from the ‘serious athlete’ personalities that were in abundance on the day of the big race. With a big team change this year, I’m looking forward to seeing how her season turns out!

Happy #InternationalWomensDay !

Who are your inspiring role models when it comes to being a #girlboss ? Leave them in the comments below!

Swimming with Fishes

Swimming outside in the likes of lakes and meres has always been something I’ve wanted to do. After my failed attempt around this time last year, I’ve been working on my swimming ever since to try and conquer it. That and getting my body accustomed to being a bit cold!

Towards the end of this week I decided I wanted to try out my new Hubb wetsuit, which I bought a few weeks ago. Although this meant an early start to get to Manley Mere, I was curious to see how I’d get on.

Once kitted up it was a bit warmer than I’d expected. My hesitant first toe dip into the water, I didn’t feel the chill through my body I was expecting. It was actually quite pleasant. It was a little different when water started going through the zip of my wetsuit however! 


Since my last attempt, I’ve been working on my swimming quite a lot. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, but that’s something I want to change. Especially after getting the Triathlon bug and now wanting to try an outdoors one. 

So I’m a much stronger swimmer now, surely I’ll be ok?

Yea…swimming in open water is so much different to swimming in a pool! You’ve not got a wall to kick off every 25m…

But I gave it my best shot. My goal of trying to get at least the first buoy tarnished my weeds getting stuck around my ankle. And my body deciding it didn’t like the constant swimming. 

After my little dilemma and standing at the edge of the lake with every part of me wanting to get back in. A lady who’d already been around the lake once offered to show me the ropes of outdoor swimming. Up until this point I’d only managed breast stroke, which is quite ironic as it has always been my weakest stroke. She pointed out front crawl was much easier to do than breast stroke in a wetsuit. 

I just struggled breathing out under water when I was swimming outside for some reason. So she got me doing breast stroke, but this time put my head under a few times to get used to it. 

And it worked! 

All of a sudden I was doing front crawl. Granted, not very far, but still, we had progress. I’d not come away from there a complete failure.

On first arriving, I couldn’t have felt more of a newbie with the amount of Iron Man tattoos around. But thanks to the lady who showed me the ropes, I couldn’t wait to go back. 

I wanted to swim for longer, but thought it was best to end on a high and go back again soon. Especially now I have more of an idea what I’m doing. The morning’s antics had completely tired me out, so I was glad Ryan was there to get me home! 

Review: Speedo Tri-Suit

 

Speedo Tri-Suit Review, courtesy of Simply Swim

Going into my first Triathlon was a bit like going into the unknown. I had no clue how my body would react to it or if there was any special kit I needed. It was a sprint distance Tri in a swimming pool, so thankfully I didn’t need to splurge out on a wetsuit! However, I did need a Tri-Suit.

I was looking around on the Internet and trying to figure out what size and brand I should go for, then the opportunity arose to review one for swim shop, Simply Swim. Looking through their website it felt like I’d struck gold. A reasonably priced Tri-Suit by Speedo. It looked great online and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to the pink stripes on it! I knew I wanted a predominantly black suit, but I like to keep things a bit colourful too!


When it arrived I was surprised how well it fitted my athletic body shape. I’m forever struggling with sizing due to my broad shoulders and chunky cyclist quads. The only query I did have was how I would deal with the thin padding on the bike. The padding can’t obviously be as bulky as normal cycling shorts, or it would just fill with water!

On the morning of the Tri, I was eager to get into my Tri-Suit and race. Luckily I was one of the first off so I was soon in the pool. I’d only trained in the pool in a normal swimming costume, so I was surprised how comfy and non-restricting swimming in the Tri-Suit was. Due to the wide panel that goes between the shoulders, I thought this may restrict my shoulders. However, the more you look at it, the outer parts of that panel are mesh, meaning the main section sit right in between my shoulder. Hence, little restriction whilst swimming.


There is also another mesh section a bit further down the back and in the centre. I felt this also aided the swim, allowed me to get into my normal position on the bike, as well as accommodating the slight twisting of the upper body on the run.

Riding through the Glyn Ceiriog Valley and out on the run, I was expecting the legs of the Tri-Suit to rise a fair bit. I have this dilemma with my cycling shorts quite a bit! But I can genuinely say I had no issues with the Tri-Suit legs rising up, which is most likely thanks to the grips on the inside of the legs. With some women complaining about discomfort in their suits, I’d obviously chosen my Tri-Suit well!


All of the seaming is overlocked meant I had no issue with discomfort from the suit rubbing on my skin as I put all my effort into getting round. The thin padding I mentioned previously did its job particularly well too. Granted it was only around 14 miles on the bike, but the majority of that was sitting down.

For the £80 it was being sold for, you are definitely getting a lot for your money. It’s clearly designed around the task in hand as well as comfort for the athlete using it. I’m even considering getting a swim suit to train in, as I was much more comfortable swimming in my Tri-Suit than my normal swim suit.


For a newbie to Sprint Triathlon’s like me, this suit was perfect to get me round my first Triathlon, and most importantly make me want to do another one!

Find out how I got on during the Triathlon through the link below, as well as my first thoughts on the Tri-Suit when it arrived and its detailing…

Chirk Tri

First Thoughts on a Speedo Tri-Suit

#WorkoutWednesday: 5th April 2017


Swiping to the right on my phone to see the countdown to my first triathlon ticking away, it hit me. We’re now in the month of April and it’s less than 20 days until it all kicks off. 

Yikes!

I’ve had plenty of training to do and thankfully got the 400m mark in the pool, which is what I need to do come race day. It was an odd session really, definitely mind over matter. 

Getting into the pool I was tense and unsure of if I could hit the 400m mark. With obviously not long left to get there, I was naturally a bit worried! Worrying played havoc with my breathing, but all of a sudden I found my self just going back and to in the pool. Racking those all important lengths up. 

Granted, once those 400m were done I had to sit in the jacuzzi pool for a bit to get my breath back…but I still reached my 400m milestone!

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in getting a personal trainer or following a strict diet, but sometimes setting yourself some realistic goals each month can make a huge difference! I’ve built up my ability in the 100m at a time.

What do you find helps with training? Do you prefer to train alone, or get someone to sort all your sessions out for you? Leave it in the comments below, whether you’re a training champion or just do it to keep healthy/enjoy it. 

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 – January Stats

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY JAN STATS.jpg

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!)

#WorkoutWednesday 25th January

workout-2-peach

It’s time for another #WorkoutWednesday, which gives you an insight into what I get up to in training each week!

Although I’ve already shared some swimming sessions I’ve been trying this month, I just couldn’t not share this one with you! Found in an old 220 Triathlon magazine it helped me push that little bit further than I have been doing in other sessions this month.

Wind back to last October when I decided I wanted to work on my swimming (after a failed attempt at outdoor swimming!), I would find myself panicking a bit when I was swimming. Every time I pushed off the side of the pool it would be a miracle if I got to the other side.

Yet, following a Speedo Fit swimming session with double Olympic Silver Medalist, Jazz Carlin, it was perfectly timed to nip any of my bad habits in the bud before they became to set in my brain! I was basically swimming all different kinds of wrong when I started, but we’ve all got to start somewhere right?

So what training session did I get up to this week in the pool?

Warm Up

10 x 25m lengths (I stuck to front crawl but the 220 Triathlon session said any stroke would do the job!)

Main Set

5 x 100m freestyle, 20s rest per interval (I’m guessing freestyle is front crawl right? Well that’s what I did anyway!)

Cool Down

4 x 50m choice of stroke (I continued with front crawl)

So what’s making me so excited about this week’s #WorkoutWednesday ? The fact that I’ve achieved this months goal of being able to swim 100m! One quarter of the way to being able to swim the swim distance in my Triathlon of 100m!

I genuinely can’t believe the luck I had in noticing the Speedo Fit advert when it popped up in my newsfeed. Jazz Carlin and the Speedo Fit crew were so lovely and helpful. It’s starting to make my big ambition for 2017 of completing a Triathlon more realistic, as swimming was always going to be the biggest wall to climb.

I just hope there’s more Speedo Fit sessions in the future because if there is…sign me up!

#WorkoutWednesday 11th Jan 2017

I seem to be getting on well with training at the minute. There’s no ‘I’ll give it a miss’ even when I’ve had a really long day and would much rather be in bed. 
As they say, the training isn’t the hardest bit, it’s the getting started that is.

As soon as I’m in the pool or all set up for a strength session at the gym, I’m focused and ready to go. 

One really positive thing from this week (yes it is only Wednesday!) is I managed to tackle a more structured swim. As opposed to the 2 lengths front crawl and 4 backstroke I’d got into the habit of doing.

A few years back I read the autobiography of the Brownlee Brothers. I think it’s around the time the thought of doing Triathlons popped into my head really. The desire has always been there, it’s just taken till now for me to take the plunge and have a go.

In the book are examples of training sesssions that can be useful for triathletes, but with me being a beginner I had to adapt it a little bit!

So here’s what I ended up doing:

A warm-up which was a mixture of using my float, front crawl and backstroke.

8x50m drills of front-crawl.

4x50m drills of back-stroke.

Attempt at swimming 75m

Cool down.

You’ll notice I said attempt at swimming 75m. For my Triathlon in April I need to swim 400m, so each month I’ve got a target distance to swim. And January’s is 100m, so I’m gradually building up to that.

To my surprise I did actually manage to swim the 75m, so I’m looking forward to my next swim session!

A Training Plan I Can Stick To…

Training for me has always been a bit random. At the start of every year I’ll be like ‘right, let’s do this’, but I just end up falling back into old habits of doing what I feel like. Any form of structure goes out the window. 

I think the ‘structure’ might be the issue for me. I’m not a full-time professional athlete; I train and compete because I enjoy pushing myself. Therefore, life can sometimes get in the way of an idyllic training ‘structure’.

So I’ve decided to try something a bit different. People may already do similar, or it may seem completely random, but I’m going to give it a go. 

I’m going to plan as I go along. 

See what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s a few pointers I’m following:

1. Have a training calendar.

It seems obvious but it’s not something I’ve ever had. I’ve got a comical calendar too. You’ll need something enticing to look at when you’re a few weeks in…..mine happens to have photographs of dogs who have been up to no good.



2. Look at any big events you have and decide what progress you want to make by then. Make note of these goals on each month.

I’ve got a sprint triathlon coming up in April, which involves:

– 400m swim

– 23km cycle

-5km run

For January I’ve decided to work up to be able to swim 100 metres in the pool at a time. I also plan to cycle 100 miles (over the month that is!) and aim to run at a pace of 8 minutes and 30 seconds consistently. 

I’m not a strong swimmer so I’m building that up slowly. After seeing how little I’d cycled in 2016, I want to boost those numbers for 2017. For the runnning…during a handful of timed events I managed to get a 7 minutes 30 seconds pace, so it’s in there somewhere! I just need to make it more consistent.


3. Baby steps.

Following on from what I’ve just said, I’m taking baby steps to achieve my goals. This has always been a pitfall of mine. I’ve wanted to try and do everything at once. Trying to do that doesn’t help anyone.

4. As you go through the month, record what you’ve done. 

So if you’ve cycled so far at a certain pace, record it on that day of the month. I know things like Strava can help this, but I just like writing things down…


5. Keep that Garmin charged!

I am the worst for this. I use my Garmin watch everyday so it’s a common occurrence for me to let it go flat. I need to stop this for 2017. 

6. At the end of each month assess what you’ve done and what to do next month.

In the past I’ve planned out my whole year…flunked in month one and gone back to old habits. So this is a major change for me this year. It helps keep things manageable and keep those motivation levels high!


7. Keep the calendar somewhere you’re going to look at it a lot! 

Not somewhere you’re going to forget about it…


8. Have a mood board to give those motivation levels an extra boost when things get tough.

Sometimes you wonder what are you actually doing, but a missed training session is no competition for the feeling of achieving your goals.


9. Rest!

Rest days are my worst enemy. I just get restless, but your body needs to recover to get better. This said, it’s also important to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard and make yourself ill. Any race isn’t more important than your health.

10. Keep it simple. 

The last point on my list is one I MUST stick to. ….