Are you ready to get some winter miles in?

20 Nov
Cycling in Ainokura, Japan in April 2015 ©Jeremy Hollinshead

Cycling in Ainokura, Japan in April 2015 ©Jeremy Hollinshead

I’ve only got one event left this year (Tailwind 10), so I’m now focussing on base training ready for next season. For many people, base training means focusing on strength and endurance, but I really want to work on some speed in my running as this has been neglected this year. I also want to work on my cycling over winter and I may even fit in some muddy cross country fun.

I did some great cycling in the Algarve, but I think my carbon bike is now going to be resigned to its new indoor home* for several months whilst I spend more time on my aluminium road bike. It has sturdier tyres, so I feel more secure on it in wet and icy conditions. I’ll also be doing some turbo and spin sessions. Which do you prefer? I’ve never been to a turbo training class, but I really enjoy group spinning.

I’m also a little tempted to try out cyclo cross. I’d love to be able to do more off road riding and am uncertain about whether I should save for a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike/ I know that it should depend on what I’m using it for, but I don’t know yet. Any thoughts?

If you’re thinking about cycling throughout winter, please check out these two blogs that are full of great advice:


*my turbo room is currently a work in progress – as soon as it’s done, there will be a post about it. I’m so excited about it – I think it’s going to transform my training :-D



What do you know about the history of sport in Nigeria?

19 Nov

It’s a little-known fact that the first football match that I went to see was a friendly between Japan and Nigeria at the St Mary’s stadium in Southampton. I’m not a huge football fan and the weather was bleak (torrential rain), but the atmosphere was electric. The fans were incredibly friendly and also lived up to national stereotypes: there was the flashing of a thousand cameras every time a Japanese player got the ball, and the sound of the drumming from the Nigerian fans was thunderous. I LOVED IT! However, since then, I’ve not really seen or read much about Nigerian sports (although if you read my blog regularly, you’ll know how much I love Japan!)

A colleague has recently written some great articles that I think may be of interest to many people…

Ola Pic

My name is Olaojo Aiyegbayo and I am a freelance sports’ writer. I have published two sports’ stories so far – one features ‘Pele, Arthur Ashe and the 1976 Nigerian military coup’ while the second one is on ‘Pele and the Nigerian civil war’. I am Nigerian by birth hence my interest in telling stories about Nigeria’s sporting history. My articles are written to appeal to not just Nigerians but non-Nigerians as well. You can reach me via @olaojo15 or


Please do have a read of Ola’s articles – they are well-researched and I found them both to be compelling.

Do you remember my trip to Japan?

18 Nov

In April, my husband (Stu) and I cycled across Japan with our friend, Jez. He has finally finished editing his beautiful photos and blogging about the trip. If you are interested in cycling in Japan, I would strongly recommend that you have a look:

Have you ever been cycle touring? Where’s the most interesting place that you’ve cycled?

OMG! Thank you supporters :-D

17 Nov

It’s been a couple of weeks since I heard this news, but so much has been happening (the little matter of moving house immediately followed by a holiday/training camp) that I’ve not had much time to blog.


2015 UK Blog Awards Sports Blog Winner

I am immensely grateful to everyone who voted for me, and even more so to all of the people who endure my blogging addiction – in particular my partner, Stu, who is neglected whilst I type on our sofa, and my running and cycling friends who have to endure multiple selfies on each excursion ‘for my blog’ (the swimmers are spared that torture!) It really is an honour that so many of you cared enough to vote for me :-D

This news has just been topped off by finding out that I am one of five finalists in another Blogging Award:

Bloggers’ Lounge Blogger of the Year 2015 Awards: Health and Fitness Blogger of the Year

Bloggers' Lounge Finalist - Health and Fitness

Bloggers’ Lounge Finalist – Health and Fitness

I know I’ve spent the last few weeks asking for your support, but I’m hoping that you will support me once again – every click counts!

It feels like so much is falling into place at the moment, and I’ve so many exciting plans for 2016 (which will all be shared on here very soon!) As I believe that good things come in threes, I’ve decided to push my luck just a little bit further…

I've just entered the UK Blog Awards #UKBA16

Don’t worry – if anything comes of it, I won’t be asking for your votes until at least next year ;-)

How to enjoy a race you haven’t trained for

17 Nov

Gosport Half Marathon is a popular race on the south coast that is renowned for being fast and flat. I’ve run it three times before:

However, I’ve always done a reasonable amount of training before taking part in this race. Often it hasn’t been a specific half marathon training plan, but I’ve usually been training for a marathon or regularly doing long runs at the weekend, but this year has been different. I spent much of the year in the water training for the Scilly Swim Challenge and then I went straight onto two wheels for Tour de Y, so running has taken a back seat.

At the start of the year, I persuaded a few of my colleagues to start running with me at lunch time. Attendance was variable, not because of lack of motivation, but because of everyone’s hectic work schedules, but everyone made progress. One colleague, Sarah, decided that she needed to set herself a challenge. Sarah completed the Great South Run 5 years ago in a respectable time, but has not completed any races since, so I persuaded her to enter Gosport Half. Unfortunately, neither of us has managed to get out and do very much running in the last few weeks. I had expected to do a 10-15 mile run on my training holiday, but the extreme weather conditions meant the schedule had to be flexible and the long run was a casualty. Last weekend, Sarah and I went out for an 8 mile run on part of the half marathon course. I think we both found it hard, with both of us being grateful for some walking breaks, which didn’t seem auspicious.

I checked the weekend’s weather forecast during the week. It looked bleak: 40mph winds, temperature around 10-14°C and the possibility of rain :-(

My lack of run training meant that I knew the race would be hard and I was worried that a slow time would make me feel demotivated – especially as many of my club mates have been running really well recently. I also didn’t want to risk injury, so I had to come up with a strategy that would help me to enjoy the race.

Some people would argue that it is unwise to run a half marathon when you haven’t trained for it, but I felt that my swimming and cycling combined with strength and conditioning sessions and previous experience as a runner meant that I would be OK to complete the race as long as I didn’t try to do it in under 2 hours.

I spoke to Sarah and agreed to run with her in a time of just under 2:15. I said that this would equate to around 10 minute miles, which would be a solid pace… however, I generally work with run paces in min/km, so we then agreed 6:00/km.

On the morning of the race, I had to collect my race number. I realised that I hadn’t received an email about my entry, so I logged in online and had a complete panic that I didn’t appear to be registered. I couldn’t let Sarah down, but there are no entries on the day for this popular race. Luckily, I must have entered some details incorrectly, as Stu pointed out that I was on the list of registered entrants.

We drove to Gosport and I collected my race number. It was really lovely to catch up with friends from the running community – especially Flo, Becky and Ruth. I also had plenty of time to chat to friends from Lordshill Road Runners… and, of course, there was time for a group photo!

Pre Gosport Group

Before the start of the race ©Lisa Fhithyan

There was also enough time for a bird to ‘leave a message’ down my arm as I was waiting outside. I know superstition states that’s lucky, but it didn’t feel like it! I washed my arm off, met Sarah and deposited my bag, before heading to the start.

There were a couple of thousand runners, which is a good attendance for a local race. I made sure that Sarah and I didn’t start at the very back as I knew there would be plenty of people who would be slower than us. I also wanted to make sure that we didn’t go too far forward as I’m really bad at going off too quickly.

The new course at Gosport is two loops that are essentially an out and back with the ‘out’ bit being slightly more sheltered and the ‘back’ being entirely exposed along the sea front.

Sarah and I had quite a lot to chat about, so the first loop passed fairly quickly. Sarah’s mum had braved the bad weather and was out cheering on the course, and I was also watching out for many of my friends who were running. The second loop was a little tougher, but Sarah had a goal in mind – she wanted to beat her 10 mile PB.

Gosport 1

Gosport 2

Gosport 3

Thanks to Lisa Fhithyan for this series of photos. I’ve no idea who I was waving to!

As we got towards the 10 mile point, we kept the pace consistent and Sarah looked strong. She smashed her 10 mile PB by around 6 minutes, which is fantastic :-)

It was then only ‘parkrun to go’, but the wind seemed to have got up a bit and there was a bit of drizzle… and one of my knees was starting to ache a bit. I was motivated by trying to keep us as close as possible to our target pace of 6:00/km, which gave me something to focus on.

Gosport Half

I might be grumbling a bit about the race, but the photographic evidence shows that I was still having fun.

Eventually, the finish line was in sight and Sarah and I could see the clock. We both picked up the pace and finished in 2:07:53 – well under our goal time of 2:15 and at exactly 6:00/km. It was a great time for Sarah’s first half marathon and I was pleased that I managed to pace it correctly.

We had our chips removed and then were given our medals as well as receiving the legendary Gosport goodie bags: Capri Sun, a finger of fudge, a cereal bar, a packet of crisps, a banana, a piece of cake and some information about joining Gosport Running Club.

I said goodbye to Sarah and then posed for another photo with fellow LRRs before heading back to the finish to cheer on some friends.Post Gosport Group

Even though I was 15 minutes off my PB, I loved this event and will be back next year.

So, to summarise, if you want to enjoy a race that you haven’t trained for:

  • Decide whether you have done enough training to safely complete the race
  • Modify your goals – don’t expect a PB
  • Run with a friend
  • Consider whether you can help to make someone else’s race by supporting them
  • Use the event to practise pacing

Do you have any tips on how to enjoy a race that you haven’t trained for?

Workout Wednesday – It’ll work out

11 Nov

“Make sure you don’t accidentally impale your butt on the handles!”

I love the way that Zach pokes fun at motivational videos, with their stirring music and slogans.

Ironman Weymouth 70.3 – my A race for 2016

9 Nov

Woo hoo! I’ve now entered my final A race for 2016 (with the other two being Southampton Half Marathon in April and Long Course Weekend in July).

However, this wasn’t because I’d been repeatedly nagged to enter more Ironman events by Ironman:

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.45.37

There are a lot of other events that I’d like to try in 2016, but as usual, I need to try to be at least a bit restrained and not enter everything!!!

I’m really excited about doing Ironman Weymouth 70.3 for several reasons:

  • I loved doing Weymouth Half as my firs half iron distance race in 2014
  • It’s not too far from where I live
  • It has great crowd support
  • I’m hoping it will be good preparation for doing Ironman Weymouth in 2016

Have you planned your A races for next season yet? What do you want to enter and why?

Workout Wednesday – Ups and downs

28 Oct

Have you got your ‘workout old man mall shoes’?

“Remember, if you make it to the top, don’t look down on anyone as you were there once!”

Monday Morning Motivation: Shed the monster

26 Oct

Don’t let your Monday start badly – get on your bike!

Wiltshire (Ups and) Downs Sportive

25 Oct

As the weather was forecast to be nice on Sunday (and the clock change made it feel like I’d had a lie in), I decided to squeeze in a ride at the Wiltshire Downs Sportive. There were 4 distances on offer:

  • ‘Fun’: 15 miles / 24 km
  • Short: 34 miles / 54 km
  • Med: 62 miles / 99 km
  • Long: 80 miles 128 km

I chose long as I wanted to get another long ride in before heading to Portugal for some training.

It was about a 90 minute drive to the start of the ride, but I didn’t mind – my car is too small to transport a bike, so I was riding in style in Stuart’s car. It has my favourite luxury – heated seats :-)

My new SOAS aquarius kit

My new SOAS aquarius kit

Unfortunately, I hadn’t read the detailed weather forecast and had just assumed that it would be as warm as Saturday (13°C/55°F when I got to parkrun)… it turned out to be 3/4°C [37°F] and I was underdressed. Several times recently, I’ve worn full length tights and have been too warm, so I assumed that I would be fine in my lovely new SOAS shorts and jersey. I had put on some plain black knee warmers and arm warmers. I also had the forethought to put on a buff to keep my neck warm. I joined the start queue and realised that I was immediately behind Ian from Southampton Tri Club, who told me that he was doing the medium route.

In the queue, I put on my waterproof jacket in the hope that it would keep the wind chill off. I didn’t want to get hot and sweaty, but I was chilly. We set off and after about 5 minutes I had lost all feeling in my fingers and toes. I was freezing.

In about 30 minutes, I had warmed up a bit and removed my jacket, which was a relief. I had been worried that I’d need to get the latex gloves out of my saddle bag and put them on!

I got to the first feed station and glanced about to see whether Ian was filling up, but he was nowhere to be seen. This didn’t surprise me as Ian is a much faster cyclist than I am. I had the first of my peanut butter sandwiches and headed off again.

Shortly afterwards, I heard someone behind me and realised that it was Ian who had taken a wrong turn somewhere. We cycled along together for a while, which was lovely as I’d not been riding at the same pace as anyone else and hadn’t had any other opportunities to talk. It wasn’t long until we got to the medium and long split and said goodbye.

The next section of the route was ‘gently undulating’, by which I mean it was relentlessly hilly. At one point a couple of men came past and asked me how far we had gone. My new Garmin 810 was misbehaving and had turned itself off, so I’d had to restart it, but my Forerunner was still giving me accurate data. I decided to try to stick with the chaps for a while, as the route was a little lonely. It turned out that one of the men was a strong cyclist, whereas the other was a little more like me – he was finding the hills tougher. For quite a long way, we played a game of cat and mouse where I would gradually catch up with the slower chap on the hills and then he recovered more quickly than me and went past again.

I asked one of the men whether he knew where the next feed station was. It turned out to be at least 12 miles away. Although I’d been doing my best to drink every 15 minutes and eat something every 20 minutes, I was starting to flag. I commented to the man that I was going to stop at the top of the hill and have a sandwich. Just as I was about to pull over, the chap pointed to a sign – the feed station had been relocated to the top of the hill :-) I ate my sandwich, had a couple of jelly beans and refilled my electrolyte bottle with an orange drink.

I heard another cyclist explaining that there was a steep downhill with hairpins coming up, so I decided to take it gently – hairpin bends are not my friends!

After the steep downhill, the countryside was more rolling and I was feeling exhausted. I had a ‘flu injection on Saturday and my left arm was really stiff, which was making it harder. I pulled over for another sandwich and a quick text to Stu.

The last 20 miles felt like a slog, and I just had one aim: get home before it gets dark! I managed it, but it definitely wasn’t a quick time!

Yesterday, I did the first of three sessions with Brightside Cycling. I had no idea what to expect, so I did my best to be early… but I don’t usually ride my road bike in the dark, so I spent about 5 minutes attaching as many lights as possible – I think I ended up with three white lights and three red lights, so no-one could say they didn’t see me coming! Also, after Sunday’s experience, I put on winter gloves and a cosy jacket for the short ride, but I wasn’t too worried about my legs, after all, how cold can legs get in a <5 minute bike ride?

When I arrived at Brightside, I realised that my tyres were a little soft. I intended to inflate them when I got in, but then completely forgot about it – doh! In the car park, Graham was helping a man and a woman with their bikes. I assumed that they were a couple, but when we got inside, I realised this wasn’t correct. I knew where I was going as Vankru bike fitting used to be based at Brightside… and I also knew that the first test would be carrying my bike up a spiral staircase whilst wearing cleats. The studio is in a nice location, but that’s definitely a disadvantage.

After answering a few questions, Graham got the three of us onto our bikes which were rigged up to trainers. I’m not a fan of cycling inside as it’s usually quite warm and unless there’s something to watch, there’s not a lot to distract me, so it gets boring. At least this time, there was a screen to look at. It took me a while to understand exactly what I was meant to be doing, which is why my graph is so wonky. (I’ve also had a good look at the data and see that my weight was incorrectly entered, so maybe this data will change – I’d be devastated if I weighed 77kgs/170lbs after all of my hard work!!!)

Pre FTP cycle

We then did a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test. It was a little off-putting to be sandwiched between two very able cyclists, but at least I’m doing something to try to get better.

FTP test

Finally, as the clocks have now changed and it’s dark in the evenings, I thought it would be timely to share this video:


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