Posts Tagged ‘Training


jack of two trades

Longer evenings and a more temperate climate of late has meant that I could ramp up the training a little bit. The purchase of a new bike a few months back has also made me split my time between running and cycling.

Which means it would be sensible to split my planned events throughout the year into a combination of separate cycling and running events… So I have.

Last year, a cyclist friend and I found out too late about the Ellis 50 Miler so decided to schedule a long ride on the same day and aim to get to the Ellis 50 finish line as the main chunk of the field should begin to finish. Embarrassingly, a few bystanders mistook us for entrants and “clapped us home” as we were cycling towards the finish to cheer the real competitors home. There will be no such mistake this year as we got our entries in early and we can hopefully accept the spectators applause without guilt.

There is also the Dunwich Dynamo – one of my most favourite events – and Hauling My Carcass and I will once again tackle this overnight monster of a ride. Unusually, this year will be the first that either of us has had the luxury of a geared bike as all previous attempts have been on our single speeds. It will be interesting to see how the addition of gears alters the experience.

Running wise, I was disappointed to see that this year, my home race, the Hertford 10k isn’t being run. I love this race and was sniffing around for something else to do. My boss suggested that the next best thing to a home town race is a race local to your place of work so I have signed up for the Ealing Half Marathon at the end of September. I am hoping that the combination of a summer of running coupled with my cycling training will mean that I will get super skinny and super fast in time for this…?!?!

There is also the annual ridiculous European Adventure that HMC & I do every year. Regular readers will know that last year was a cycle trip to the Maas Half Marathon – this year is a little less ambitious although I suspect just as much fun as HMC, his wife and I head to Jersey to run a 5k on the Friday, a 10k Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday before flying home Sunday night.

And if that lot doesn’t get me motivated, I don’t know what will! It’s nice coming out of Winter and into Spring with a bunch of different events to aim for. To get me started, HMC have planned a 75km cycling jaunt across the South Downs next week which I am very much looking forward to. So it’s all go once again – exciting and a little daunting: just how I like it.



no internet no problem…


For the last 2 weeks, I have been unable to access the internet from work. Most people would immediately think that must be a bit of an inconvenience – not being able to catch up on the news at lunchtime or browse stuff on Amazon when things get quiet but it actually meant that it was almost impossible to get any work done at all. No emails. No access to online job systems means not being able to log jobs, raise Purchase Orders, close jobs down or raise invoices. I felt like I was suddenly being given work but with no means of getting it accomplished. What would normally be reasonable deadlines suddenly become very tight once you take away the luxury and speed of almost instantaneous electronic communication and the ability to send large files at the click of a mouse. The only way around it was to take to working one day at work and the next from home – ensuring that if I was at home, I could catch up on the previous days emails and jobs without too many distractions and hopefully get myself a little ahead so that the following day spent back in the technological dark ages did not inconvenience me too much.

The upside of this was the time that was normally taken up with my morning commute was instead used for a 10 – 11km run first thing. I would arrive home from my run, fire up the laptop, shower and be “at my desk” for 9am. Safe in the knowledge that the days run was complete and I was feeling focused and ready for the day . And, after almost 2 weeks of this, to go back to an hour’s commute each morning and the struggle to squeeze in a run was beginning to slowly gnaw away at me.

So on Sunday morning, I was up and out and determined to get a decent run in. It was fairly quiet out and I decided to forgo my usual route and instead head out on a route that I was using this time last year whilst training for the Berlin Marathon. An 18km mix of woodland trails and pavement that takes me out to the town I grew up in, around and back. It was the furthest that I had run in a few months and by the time I had finished I felt suitably weary but happy. So much so that I have just entered the Ware 10 Mile run which takes place in just under a month. The race is local to me and I have wanted to tackle it for a few years now but have always had to give priority to other things. This year, there was space in the diary and I am very much looking forward to it. Part of the course is very familiar to me although approximately 50% seems to be through areas that I do not know. It will be nice to discover some new routes to run whilst enjoying the fun of an organised race. I’ve the feeling I may need a few more long Sunday runs between now and then…


moving target


I was feeling a little paranoid last week. I can go for months and months without incident on the pushbike and then…


Last Saturday, I was up early for a brisk 12km run. There is something quite satisfying about arriving back home knowing that your run for the day is complete before most people have had breakfast. Sunday morning was similar except that, with the Dunwich Dynamo in just a few weeks, I decided to head out early on the bike, get about 50km done and be home in time for a cappuccino and some toast when the rest of the family decided to surface. About 20km in, I narrowly avoid being mown down by a bronze coloured 4×4 that came hurtling onto the roundabout that I was already on. A split second decision on my behalf, on whether to try and stop or just keep going as fast as I could, meant that the fast moving hunk of metal missed my back wheel by a few centimetres. About a minute later, the rush of adrenaline kicked in and I trembled my way through the next few kms. A few lovely, sweeping countryside kilometres later and I am back in town where another car narrowly misses me – this time by overtaking me and then turning immediately left in front of me.


I arrived home feeling a little shaken and incredibly lucky. After recounting the incidents to Mrs Eatingtrees and being told to “be careful”, I smugly enjoyed the rest of the day knowing that my exercise for the weekend was in the bag. Incredibly, the next day on the way to work, a car decided to slowly drift across the road and into the side of me whilst I was on the motorbike. Luckily, I managed to manouvre myself out of the way but not before his hubcap had worn a hole in my overtrousers. Another near miss and another upping of the paranoia quota.


Playing it safe, I decided that this week I would just concentrate on running – a quick 10k one evening after work and then 12km first thing Saturday before it got too hot. I was out by 8am but even then it was beginning to warm up. By the time I was nearing the end I was choosing which side of the path to run on based solely on which would offer the most shade. It seems that the weather has gone from Early Spring to High Summer in the space of a week and I find the transition from around 10 degrees to nearly 30 degrees saps my energy and turns runs into slogs. I am sure in another few weeks I will be used to running in these sorts of temperatures just as an Early Autumn sets in…



headwind / headache


As part of the planned training for the Dunwich Dynamo, Hauling My Carcass and I always undertake at least one long(ish) training ride. Looking back at the training rides that we have done, every single one has caused us some problems – the first year, HMC was struggling. Last year we got a little, ahem, mis-routed and ended up not only cycling further than we had planned (144kms) but also called it a day at one point and caught the train back. This year, we had planned a round trip to Cambridge – 120kms in total that had been whittled down from a 140km+ route that I had devised. Hauling My Carcass had been eyeing the weather forecast and there was a headwind that we would be riding into for the whole of the return leg so we erred on the side of caution.


And it all started so well… HMC arriving at mine just before 8am, a quick espresso and we were off – up the first hill and out of my home town. The first 10kms or so were on fairly busy roads and the world was beginning to wake up so we rode single file. As we got further off the main roads we could ride side by side and chat. A constant side wind from the left made the route tougher than expected but before long, we were arriving in Cambridge. We stopped in a park for lunch and got chatting to an old guy on a hybrid / mountain bike who stopped to ask us for directions before launching into long tales of his years of riding bikes across the UK and abroad.


Once we had finished lunch, we were off again and on our way back out of Cambridge. Before very long it was evident that HMC’s prediction of a strong headwind all the way home was horribly accurate. A nasty constant headwind with quite violent gusts saw us slow to a crawl and all the banter and chat of the mornings ride soon dissipated. We realised what we were up against when we found ourselves having to pedal downhill…


Meanwhile, what was making things worse (for me) was a creeping headache and feeling of nausea that was slowly getting worse. I began to drop behind. I felt awful and thought I was going to be sick. Another 30km and it began to rain – we discussed cutting the ride short. I was still riding slowly, taking deep breaths and trying not to throw up. It was all I could do to keep the pedals turning. HMC would ride ahead and then have to wait for me to catch up. With about 20kms still to go, the headache and nausea began to retreat just as the heavens opened and it absolutely bucketed down. Thunder was rumbling around and we were both covered in mud that was being thrown up from the track that we were cycling on. A final check of the route and we were back at mine just as the rain began to ease. Without the inclement weather and me feeling unwell it would have been a great route to cycle but the combination of headwind and sickness took all of the fun out of it.


And then a run on Sunday morning instigated a full blown Migraine and I suspect it was the early stages of this that had caused me to feel so wretched on the ride the day before. I resigned myself to it and went to bed.


So a big thank you to HMC who, even in the pissing rain, waited for me as I dragged my sorry self 60 odd kilometres back from Cambridge. And, now at least I have experienced the truly unpleasant whilst on a training ride – which hopefully is good preparation should it happen again.



enter the luddite


Friday evening, and after a horrific week at work, I decided that the only thing that would lift my spirits was to get out for a run after work. A weary 12kms was duly completed and although it was a plod, it did serve to at least forget about the week and prepare myself for the weekend.

I had hoped that the weather this weekend would resemble that of the previous weekend – bright clear morning and warm, sunny afternoons. Unfortunately, grey cloud was in evidence so when I woke up on Sunday and looked out of the window, all enthusiasm for a long bike ride evaporated.

So I decided to tackle Mrs Eatingtrees’ bike instead. Inspired by what I had seen in Holland and Belgium, I was going to fit a rack to the back of the wife’s bike, adjust the brakes, cut down the handlebars and turn it from a mountain bike into something that more suited what it was actually used for – nipping to the shops or going on a picnic. All was well until I attempted to adjust the derailleur – it had long been neglected and shifted to some of the gears although not always reliably. I had adjusted gears on my mountain bikes before… what could possibly go wrong?

3 hours later and I am stood in the back garden, a face like thunder, trying to Google information on derailleur adjustment with hands covered in a thick layer of stick and slightly gritty chain grease. Nothing I could do seemed to improve the situation and I became increasingly frustrated… how could something so seemingly simple refuse to work so stubbornly.

Eventually, I put the bike angrily back in the garage and gently seethed for the rest of the day at my inability to fix it.

After last weeks bout of gear envy, I am firmly back in the singlespeed camp as no amount of slowly grinding my way up hills can compare with the frustration of being beaten into submission by a few twisty bits of metal, some cogs and some cabling!


Seasons Greetings

Without wishing to jinx anything, it appears Spring might have just about arrived in the UK. Waking up, squinting out of the window again this year. We have a 150km training ride planned for 2 weeks time and breaking into a grin is a sure sign that things are looking up weather wise. Saturday and Sunday were both just about perfect for a run and a cycle and I was able, as I got up and out of the house early enough, to squeeze in both this weekend.

Saturday’s morning of sunny spells was perfect for a run and I completed 16.6km – certainly not at a pace that would set the world alight, but steady. I had had an odd “injury” after a few of my previous runs – the day after a run, my foot would “creak” when I flexed my toes. It wasn’t especially painful but it is quite worrying when your foot feels like a rusty hinge. A quick bit of Googling informed me that the cause was usually mild tendon inflammation – so wanted to see if slowing down and concentrating on my form would help. Which it appeared to do. Sunday came around and there was no pain and no creaking. Hurrah!

So, creak free on Sunday morning, I jumped on the singlespeed and just headed off. I planned to cycle for 2 hours – basically one hour in one direction chosen at random and then turn round and head back. I set off through the Hertfordshire countryside and managed to pick out and unusually hilly route to Barnet along country roads. I love my singlespeed and have never suffered “gear envy” before but on Sunday I found myself up out of the saddle and grinding my way up hills only to be passed by roadies in lycra calmly overtaking me, legs spinning and looking relaxed. One even informed me as he passed that he “wouldn’t want to be riding a singlespeed up this hill”. Thanks.

Still, it is all good training for when Hauling My Carcass once again tackle the Dunwich Dynamo but for now, this ride would blow some of the cobwebs away.

Almost precisely 2 hours later, I was back home, just shy of 50km in the bank. It was not even 11a.m. Which left me with that fabulous smug feeling that you get when you know you have done what you needed to do and have the rest of the day to relax in the sun.


listing season


The final stages of preparation for The Trip are underway. In addition to last weekend’s Big Training Binge (35km bike Friday evening, 20km run Saturday morning, 50km bike Sunday morning), I have been making lists. A list of what will be needed for a 6 day trip across Holland and Belgium by train or car is very different from what we’ll need to take for a cycling trip. Less is more. Or more precisely, multi-faceted is more. So a jacket needs to be waterproof, to pack down small and be windproof enough to act as shield from the cold should it turn breezy. Wet wipes will serve all manner of purposes – cleaning hands before meals, freshening up in the absence of a shower and also cleaning grease / grime off bike components and hands should we need to attempt any running repairs. There is also lists for:

  1. Race wear – running shoes, shorts, t-shirt, pins for race number etc.

  2. Travel Documents – tickets, email confirmations of reservations at B&B’s

  3. Essentials – clothing, wash bag, first aid kits, toolkits

  4. Tech – phones, iPods, chargers

See, I am doing it again – I can’t stop myself. Often, HMC and I would be taking the same things so we have had to rationalise in what must, to an outsider, seem like some bizarre bargaining game… “OK, I’ll take the suntan cream and the Wet Wipes if you take the first aid kit and the iPod charger…”

I have tweaked and lubed the bike and am confident that I can complete the Half Marathon. The 2 unknown quantities are:

  1. What will the cumulative effect of the trip do to me and how will that effect the Half Marathon at the end of the trip?

  2. HMC and I do not have the best track record on long cycle rides. True, we have done some training rides in the past that have gone off without incident but during the 2 Dunwich Dynamo’s we have done, in the first HMC clipped the kerb in the middle of the night and suffered a pinch flat that we had to repair in the pitch black in the middle of nowhere. In the second, I took a spectacular tumble into a drainage ditch at the side of a field –damaging both our bikes and meaning we had to cobble together 1 good bike from the 2 damaged ones so that HMC could complete the route and collect the car to come and pick me up

So a pessimist might say that, given our history, we are bound to have some sort of incident on our trip. An optimist would say that even if something does happen, we have dealt with problems in the past so are well equipped to deal with any technical hitches. Time will tell. And this time next week we’ll be waiting to board the ferry to the Hook Of Holland.

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