Mileage for the month – 189 miles Biggest week – 50 miles Longest run – 14 Miles
I beat my target of 175 miles for the month and I’ve been striking a decent balance between my easy and hard runs. My swimming is good (for me) and I think I’ve now got all my kit in place for Breca Swimrun in July. I’ll go through all my kit in another post soon.
The only thing I’m concerned about is my trainers.
I’ve got my Inov8 X-Talon 212’s which are great in tough conditions, but painful as hell when the ground is hard. I’ve seen a lot of competitors in these and also in the 190’s which have the same grip/lugs on the bottom. The other thing that concerns me is I think the 212’s might get a bit heavy when waterlogged.
I’d love to have a reserve pair of shoes to take up with me so I can decide once I’ve seen the terrain. Something like the Merrell Trail Gloves or maybe the Inov8 190’s as they look like a lighter build.
Light and grippy is what I’m looking for.
The Must Do Betters
A few more miles to go yet before I taper. I’d like to do a tough 16-18 miler with some of the steepest hills I can find locally.
I also need to test my kit, run in my wetsuit, swim in my shoes, get in the sea, and practice with my team-mate Tom. He’s much quicker than me in the water so we need to dial into our perfect team swim speed.
Finally, I need to work on my shoulders/back/triceps. Lots of press-ups, pull ups and hangs. 6k swimming in cold water dragging along wet shoes on my feet is going to be tough on my upper body.
Any Other Business
I’m running a Beach 5 mile race on the 8th of June, not an important race at all, but a nice one to get out and be involved in. My team-mate has just smashed his 10k PB in Lisbon, at the end of a Triathlon no less, so I need to get some good race efforts in.
I’ve also got a club Aquathlon on the 10th of June. 400m swim/5k run I think. I probably won’t go all out on it, but I’d like to run hard off the swim for at least half of it.
Aside from all that, I’m starting to pick up clients requiring maintenance Sports Massage too which is brilliant. I’m looking forward to working with these people over the next few months in an attempt to keep them on the right side of injury.
June Goals: Mileage: 175 miles Long Run: 18 miles off road Swim: Once a week pool, once a week Open Water Yoga: Every Damn Day Strength: A daily upper body workout Kit: test, test and test again.
Total Miles: 50 Miles
Average Pace: 8:27 min/mile Longest Run:12 miles – 24% of total Speedwork: 4 miles – 8% of total
I’m back. My legs have returned. It took until Saturdays run but I’m feeling like I can get back into consistent miles again.
I don’t think I’ve quite got the balance back, the tail end of my week was pretty loaded but that’s just the way it went. I will try and split and scatter some shorter runs in my schedule going forwards.
“Something that comes in sixes?” – “EGGS!” shouts my wife in a fraction of a second. I tell you what, if Family Fortunes ever come knocking, she’s got it down.
That’s how the name of the workout came about and whilst it kind of makes sense here, written down, I’m pretty sure people at the track were scratching their heads and wondering when they were getting their sandwich rewards.
To make it tougher, I split each Threshold Effort into two 5 minute sections, with the 2nd half being faster.
The idea of the session was to run the final 10 minutes of the session at the same pace as you’d run the first 10 minutes. The 6×200’s in the middle are thrown in the middle to produce a bit of lactic acid making the final threshold a bit tougher. This final effort trains the body to clear the Lactic acid, returning it into the energy system, whilst running at a strong effort.
This is a particularly good training session for triathletes as the last effort mimics the feeling of running straight off the bike.
Thursday came along and I was in good mental shape to tackle the run/swim/run session again. I find I’ve got to be really psyched up to do this one otherwise none of it happens at all. I also have to really control my pace on the run to the pool knowing that its a good 3 hour training session. I took a slightly shorter route this week which meant 7 miles each way and just under a 1min negative split.
The swim was tough as always, Sprint intervals interspersed with recovery pull. I cramped up in my right foot in the final 25m all-outs and missed the final 100m or so. But overall, another good session.
Favourite Session of the Week
I got out on Saturday evening to do my long run. This week I’d targeted 12 miles @ 7:30min/mile but as it was a really sunny evening I thought I’d take it off road. I ran up and round Cissbury Ring and then off up Titch Hill to the farmers grave. I felt like all the tiredness disappeared from my legs during this run, I was able to let fly on the downhills and to really put some power down going up.
I knew I was on for a decent average pace which turned out to be 7:26min/mile with an elevation of 1366ft. Pleased as punch with that, and really pleased to have got out in the hills.
Team profile time – 7 weeks to go until Breca Buttermere. Here’s a couple of guys who look like they’re going to be pretty comfortable in the mountains. Experienced triathletes, wandering adventurers, and a cause for celebration. Lets get to know them.
Team Name:ODSODR (One Doesn’t Swim, One Doesn’t Run) Team Members:Glenn Tait & Tony Rafferty Team Motto:“We should start training properly soon…”
Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
Tony/Glenn: We are Tony Rafferty, a 32-year-old from Edinburgh and Glenn Tait, a 32-year-old Geordie exiled in Edinburgh. We first met when studying at Heriot Watt University, which seems like ages ago now. Anyway, 10+ years on and we now live in the same area on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which is proving handy now we’re both into doing these silly events. It’s good as we can motivate each other to get out and train, then head to the local to plan the next training session or come up with crazy ideas like signing up for SwimRuns. Was beer to blame for this one? Who knows…
What do you do outside of daft adventures?
Tony: By day I’m a Test Automation Engineer for a software company. By night and at the weekends I’m a keen swimmer, reader of books, watcher of F1 and consumer of coffee. Glenn: I work for a Hospitality Solutions Provider on the IT side, and spend a lot of time in pubs and restaurants – both when working and not working. My main interest is running. I prefer to run silly long distances but I’m normally up for any type of adventure and usually make videos of them, which I share on my blog. (which is a link well worth clicking on by the way!)
What’s going to give you the edge over everyone else at Breca Swimrun?
Tony: As you can tell by the team name we each have our individual strengths. If we could do this as a relay we’d possibly do pretty well. We have a distinct ability to compete with each other without either of us realising it. You should see us walk home from the pub together – it’s quite the footrace.
Glenn loves to buy shiny bits of kit so I’m really hoping this may give us an edge… wishful thinking perhaps? Glenn: Tony is right, we have individual strengths. I’m always running away from him and he always swims away from me! We’re really going to have to get a tether. We’ve done a lot of work on the hills, spending most time running in the Pentlands, but I’d say we’re still amateur compared to some of the fell runners. I think my shiny new wetsuit will give me the edge – if only to keep up with Tony!
Are you happy with your teammate or are they the only other idiot you could find? Any amusing stories about them you can share?
Tony: It’s a bit late in the day to say no to being happy with my choice in teammate, isn’t it? In the water, yes Glenn may slow me down, but I’ll do the same on foot so fair is fair. If anything each of us can encourage the other one to keep going in their weaker sport.
I know plenty of idiots but none that share the same appetite for wrapping themselves in neoprene and lycra as I do. Glenn: No, but he’ll do….. *jokes*. Tony moans too much on the run. To be fair I did recently drag him out on a 32km run when it was only supposed to be 25kms, so I think I might have lost his trust and it certainly didn’t help with the whingeing. I’m just glad Tony can’t hear me moan when we’re swimming as sound waves don’t travel that well in swimming pools. Any amusing stories about them you can share? Glenn: Tony once thought a lamb was a white rabbit just merrily sitting next to a sheep.
What attracted you to this race?
Tony: In 2014 I did a middle distance triathlon, which was great fun. Then, in 2015 I did the Edinburgh Marathon, which I found plain old boring. I was looking for something to do in 2016 without doing a full distance triathlon and SwimRun ticked the boxes. I’m hoping the scenery makes up for some of the suffering. Glenn: I’ve done an Ironman, and the cycling is just too long. I wanted something different – some other challenge – and I like the simplicity of this type race. I was glad to finally persuade Tony to do this after sowing the seed quite a while ago! Plus, the Lakes is an awesome area so it’s going to be stunning and epic no matter what the weather!
Is there anything making you nervous? Tony: Definitely the elevation profile and the overall pace we’ll be expected to go at. I have heard that getting the body to transition from swim to run and vice versa multiple times can be a killer too. Glenn: Yes, Tony’s wife is due to give birth three weeks after this race and I think I know where his priorities will stand when the day gets nearer. It isn’t wearing Lycra with me… Tony, shouldn’t this make you nervous too?
Whats your racing experience like? Tony: A couple of sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. A middle distance triathlon, lots of open water swimming and last year the Edinburgh marathon. Glenn: Was Fat. Got not so fat through running in 2010. Went on to do some marathons. Got forced into a sprint triathlon and then forced that person into doing an Ironman with me. I then decided cycling for 8 hours was too much so did Aberfeldy Middle Distance with Tony in 2014, did my first Ultra around Tiree in 2015 and now just keep on running further. My biggest achievement was Ironman in 2013 but I’m especially proud of my 3hr 30 marathon time!
How’s the build up going?
Tony: I was planning on doing a couple of fell races but I’ve not found anything that tickles my fancy yet. Suggestions on races in central/southern Scotland on a postcard please…
The training has been in fits and starts to be honest. We’ve been in the pool twice a week and running three times a week. We’re planning on doing some SwimRun specific sessions in the run up to Breca to work out the logistics of transitioning from OW to running up hills. We’re super lucky to have the Pentland Hills only 10 minutes from our door step. Glenn: I’ve been building up my running to run the John Muir Way Ultramarathon, but I’ve nothing after that until Breca. I agree – we do need to find some local fell races. Training is haphazard really. I swim once/twice a week when I can be bothered to get out of bed early, and run 3 times a week as Tony says. More recently I’ve been trying to complete the 255km John Muir Way trail coast to coast since 1st April and I’ve just done that so been putting some decent running miles in! I think when the reservoirs in the Pentland hills reach a warmer temp we’ll be up there getting some SwimRun practice in!
Will you be making a weekend of it?
Tony/Glenn: Yes, we’re coming down on the Friday, staying Friday and Saturday (beer!) night then back home on the Sunday. We’re staying in Keswick because we didn’t get ourselves organised in time to get anything in Buttermere booked. It’s also Glenn’s birthday on race day so there’ll be some birthday celebrations once we finish. Please cheer us on and feel free to bring us cake!
Are there any questions you’d like to put to other teams/organisers/experienced SwimRunners? Tony: To the other teams: please don’t make us look too bad. To experienced SwimRunners: for fuelling, should we carry a couple clif bars in a pocket and eat going up hill or, struggle on without fuelling? Also, socks or no socks? Glenn: I hadn’t thought about socks – that’s a good question! Tony: I will let you store some cliff bars in my shiny new wetsuit (it even has a pocket – how fancy) if you drag me through the water, thanks! To the experienced SwimRunners: does a tether get in the way?
You can follow Tony & Glenn’s exploits on Twitter, just click on their names for profiles.
Want to read about some of the other teams involved on July 2nd? Here’s a list of profiles so far…
As I mentioned in my previous post, my Swimrun training block has now begun. And its off to a flying start.
56.1 Miles. That’s the highest mileage week I’ve ever done. Even in the build up to previous marathons. What that tells me straight away is that I’m coming into this training block fitter than I’ve ever been.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the figures I’m most interested in.
Average Pace: 8:12min/mile – reflects lots of easy paced running Longest Run:10.5 miles (Sunday) = 19% of weekly total Speedwork: 5.1 Miles = 9% of weekly total
Analysis: Good session, strong wind on the back straight made it difficult and a too fast 2nd rep which was lots of fun made the last half tough.
Best Session of the Week
Thursday: My first attempt at a Swimrun specific session.
So this was almost a 3 hour session – and as tough, if not tougher, than any 20 miler marathon training run I’ve ever done. It wasn’t exactly how Breca Swimrun will go down in July, I wasn’t wearing a wetsuit and the swim was in a pool, however, the swim also included work at much higher intensities than I’ll experience in the race (4x50m all out sprints for example).
I reigned my pace in on the run to the pool as I didn’t know what to expect, I was terrified of bonking at some point during the evening. I was pleased to hit a quicker pace on my run back home whilst still feeling comfortable.
I took a gel after 10 minutes in the pool as my toes were cramping and I had no electrolytes in my drink. I took another one as I started the run home. I walked the last 800m to try and ease my legs off a bit before stopping which is why the run home was shorter.
When I woke up on Friday morning, EVERY muscle in my body ached. I’m not exaggerating here. I must be mental because I can’t wait to do one of these sessions again!
I didn’t get any off-road work in, and I could do with getting some more hills in too. On the swim I’d like to try and get an endurance session with a pull buoy in as well as the club swim.
Other than that, I probably broke one of the cardinal rules in training. The one about increasing training load by 10% at a time.
My previous week was almost a complete rest though so I can live with that!
N.B: Will endeavour to utilise my Heart Rate Monitor as I’d like to see the trends over the training block.
So how did February look for you? For me it went quite well. Despite not racing at all I’ve managed to get in some quality training.
Mileage for the month – 123.5 miles Biggest week – 48 miles Longest run – 14 miles
That’s starting to pick up nicely, with my biggest week coming in the final week of Feb. And in fact, that’s my biggest week since the same time last year.
My little boy is also training for his first race, the Sport Relief Mile and its been great fun encouraging him to start running. He’s managed a 16:13 mile so far which involved a lot of jumping over drains, walking to cross roads and stopping to point at his school.
I’m hoping to carry through some consistency into March, keeping my mileage at a minimum of 40 per week and adding a 90-120min long run in each week. My track sessions are strong at the moment, sub-6:00min/mile pace in big sessions. We’ve just moved into 1200 reps (5 of them this week) and I’d like to see my splits closer to 5:45min/mile if I can manage it. Although I’m not going to break myself trying.
My limiting training factor is time. My other half works several evenings a week, often not getting home until 9:30 and that’s not a good time to go out running. So I’m trying to squeeze runs in where I can. For instance, my trip to the launderette gave me £2’s worth of time – which I’ve now learnt translates to a fast 4 miles. I’m running on my lunchbreaks too. In fact, my biggest training week in 12 months came without running further than 8.5 miles in a single session.
My swimming is improving, I’ve managed to get to one session a week which at the moment is focussed on strength. That means lots of climbing in and out the pool to do press-ups, squats, tricep dips and planks, and swimming in T-shirts with pull-buoy and paddles. This is a great session for me as it really addresses my weaknesses. I’m hoping to start doing a weekly distance/endurance session soon, to really work on my pull. I want to be able to use paddles comfortably by the time Breca Swimrun comes around in July as it will make a huge difference in the swim times.
Other training, I’ve been doing a press-up challenge since the beginning of Feb, starting at one and adding one each day. So today it will be 30 press-ups. A month ago I couldn’t have done 10 without stopping so I’m pleased with my progress here. I don’t think its been an increase in strength, but more a neurological thing. Engaging the right muscles to achieve the goal. Whichever it is, it should help my swimming, and I might even develop a chest that comes out further than my abs.
I think the biggest plus I can take from February is that I’ve come out of it without any niggles. I’ve increased my mileage and I’m injury free. I have to thank Gococo Sportswear for helping me out here, my compression socks are awesome.
Here’s a little snapshot as to how my own training is going. I’m managing to run in my lunchbreak at the moment which means although my mileage is fairly low compared to lots of runners, the quality is high.
Monday: I ran what I call a “Super-Tempo” effort, this is a mile warm-up followed by 12 minutes at what I would like my current 5k pace to be. Then a mile cool down. Each week, I’ll add a minute on to the length of the effort until I’m either happy to race it or step back to a shorter quicker effort and start again. Splits in the effort were 5:57, 5:58.
Tuesday: 10k (not so) easy. I thought this was going to be a really tough run as the wind had really picked up. The first 5k was straight into it and I put in a good effort, the 5k return along the seafront was much easier and I was able to coast it all the way. I was still able to chat with a guy on a bike during the last 800m so I knew it was still a fairly relaxed effort. I was quite surprised to see my splits as: 6:22, 7:02, 6:55, 6:37, 6:32, 6:27 and finishing up at 6:34. Thats more like a solid threshold pace for me.
Wednesday: Bit of a cold & felt stiff from the previous day so decided to get to the track 10 minutes early for an extra warm-up mile. So 2 miles warm up for me, followed by 15 minutes of drills and dynamic stretches. The main set was 9x800m on 4mins. The warm up did its magic and I felt really good throughout. Pleased to be able to pick it up in the second half of the set too. 6.8 miles in total, annoying that I couldn’t round it up to 7 but I had no time for a cool-down.
Thursday: That’s today…I’m struggling a bit with a cold and I had a terrible nights sleep but the weather is glorious so I’ll be doing an easy 5 miles along the seafront at lunchtime, that should blow the cobwebs away. Then it’s Tuff Fitty Swim night and I’ll be heading over with my Breca Team-mate Tom.
Hoping to clock 35 miles this week which I haven’t done since mid Dec and then maintain for a few weeks before targeting some more specific plans. (whatever they might be!)
Its now December and I don’t know about you, but my thoughts are starting to turn towards building up a bit of base fitness ready to start racing in the Spring. At least, that’s what I know my thoughts should be thinking, instead, they’re running wild, concerned with all sorts from Christmas to current political events (which we will NOT be going into on here!)
So its time to regain a bit of SwimRun focus – and what better way than to talk to a team who raced Breca in 2015. I wondered what specific advice they might have for those of us racing it in 2016, a bit of insider knowledge perhaps? Shortcuts maybe? Lets get straight into it and find out.
There must be something in the water up in Edinburgh as following hot on the heels of our last post, we’ve got an all-female team from the same Tri Club! This time its the winners from LochGuLoch 2015 sharing their SwimRun story so far. They’ve got masses of endurance event experience between them and unfinished business at oTillo it seems.
If you’re hoping to learn anything from these interviews – THIS is essential reading!
So between mouthfulls of noodles at a post-swim Wagamama’s here’s what they had to say….
How do you know each other? We met in 2012 a week before the Celtman triathlon at a reservoir in the hills above Edinburgh. We’re in the same club, and someone introduced us. Then we got to know each other in intervals of 10 seconds as we passed and re-passed during the race. But we didn’t meet up regularly or get to know each other really well until this year. This was our first year doing swimrun together, and our first race was in June.
What do you do when you’re not jumping into cold water with your shoes on? IJ: Lie on the sofa / get warm! Cycle and run, but there’s not been much cycling going on this year. Sit with my cat. RB: In fact, we do both have respectable jobs as well. But they keep getting in the way of training! I like to call myself a high tech crime fighter. I’m also learning Italian, so I keep looking out for teams from Italy, though I haven’t managed to talk to any yet.
You were 1st female team at lochguloch, and finishers at the Ötillö world champs, what else do you have on your cv? RB: We came 3rd at our first swimrun race in Borås in June. IJ: We both did well at the first Celtman event. I’m an Ironman addict and my best result was 5th in age group at Ironman France. RB: I love adventure racing and have done everything from 5 hour to 5 day non-stop events in all weathers. I’ve managed to get on the podium in a few triathlons as well. Izzy’s finished an ultra run, which I’m a bit jealous about!
And how’s your calendar looking for 2016? IJ: There are lots of things on the ‘want to do list’, but the calendars empty! RB: It’s because we want to try and get into Ötillö again. What we do depends on the outcome of our application. We’re definitely going to do some more swimrun though. IJ: I want to do another Ironman if I can, in the middle of it all! RB: If we don’t qualify for Ötillö, we’ll be spoilt for choice with all the new races here. I’d like to do some more longer running events as well.
How do the swimrun races you’ve done rank against other endurance events you’ve done? IJ: Hard! It’s quite tough and relentless because of the number of changes between swimming and running. It’s harder to break it down mentally. RB: I asked Izzy on the finish line of Ötillö how it compared to an ironman, and she said definitely harder! There was something about the emotion that went into it, and the stress we had at times racing the cut offs. In some ways I found it more physically draining even than multi-day events, because of the intensity (speed). IJ: I don’t think anything can quite compare to the first Ironman I finished, which was also my first endurance event. But swimrun is very different, it’s more wild, and the swims aren’t as sanitised and safe. There are fewer rules and you’re not going to bump into a referee on a motorbike! The fields are also smaller which makes it feel more intense. RB: I like doing triathlon, but I prefer the way you feel as if you’re going on a journey from one place to another in a swimrun.
How does it feel being at the front of a race, rather than chasing someone else down? IJ: I don’t like it! It’s stressful! RB: In triathlon, if I start the run in the lead I feel under a lot of pressure as it’s my weakest link. But in swimrun, the disciplines are more balanced throughout, so I felt more confident. I agree it can be stressful though. IJ: If you all have the same colour swim hats it is harder to identify who you’re racing against. I mistook one poor guy without a hat and with long hair for a girl at Loch gu Loch. I thought a female team was about to overtake us! RB: She did apologise to him though!
Endurance races are about mental strength as much as physical strength, how do you help each other through the lows? RB: I tried singing to cheer Izzy up a few times, but I might have made it worse! IJ: When Rosemary’s having a low, I like to check she’s OK and chat to her. RB: Yeah, that helps, I like some chat! The right food proffered at the right time can also work wonders. IJ: In a long hard run at Ötillö, Rosemary broke the run into smaller chunks by checking how fast we were running every 8 minutes. RB: I love thinking about numbers and statistics. I think Izzy might have switched off to my ramblings after a while though!
Which one of you breaks first? IJ: Neither of us breaks, we might just have a little paddy and then move on! RB: I agree, it’s a team event so you’re always working together and helping each other. It’s so long that you’ll both have ups and downs. I only chose to race with Izzy because I knew she was tough enough.
Before we go any further, I’d just like to point everyone towards these 2 articles you wrote for LochGuLoch. If you’re new to SwimRun and have any questions on kit or tactics or pretty much anything else – these articles have it covered.
The tips articles you did for lochguloch are brilliant and I’m finding them really helpful for creating my own kit list and training schedule. Did you get much feedback from other swimrunners on those? RB: it was funny as we kept bumping into people when we were out training who had read our tips and knew us! IJ: At the start of Loch gu Loch we got loads of comments from other racers around us. RB: I was surprised how many people had read them. It was great to get such positive feedback. IJ: When we got off the boat that takes you to the start at Ötillö, one of the race directors told us he liked our transition video: ‘very British humour’, he said!
What did you have to learn the hard way? IJ: To put superglue on the back of my neck! I was getting bad wetsuit rash. We worked out it was better if I did my suit up a certain way, but it had got so bad it never really healed. You should also be careful which tri shorts to use if you want to avoid chaffage! RB: I stuck with running shorts. I don’t think we made any major mistakes because we did a lot of research into kit and spoke to people who had raced swimrun before. IJ: It wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating! RB: One thing we did learn is that if you’re going to race on rocks, you should train on rocks. We had a very tough time at Ötillö on some of the unfamiliar terrain. I’d also mention it’s a good idea to bring running shoes with you to a swim run training session …
Most racers at UK events next year are going to be first-timers. What are your 3 top tips for success? IJ: Practice doing swim and run together, practice transitions, practice in your kit! RB: Learn how to wee whilst swimming, make sure your food wrappers are waterproof, never give up.
You’re in a wetsuit for a long time during the race so you must be faced with 2 choices: do you wee on the run or the swim?! IJ: On the swim – much easier! RB: I tried to master that skill but I still need to practice some more 😀 . I mostly went for the in-between moments.
Does everyone around you think you’re mad? IJ: Yes! RB: It depends who’s around, but yes! We’re in good company though 🙂
If you want to read more about Rosemary’s adventures, you can follow her exploits at www.planetbyde.co.uk – it really is an inspiring diary of an endurance athlete.
Once again, if you made it this far then you must be keen! Give me a shout if you’d like your team featured in an article. Experienced or first-timers, we want to hear from you. We’ve had no-one who did the BrecaSwimrun race in 2015 yet, where are you? Get in touch!
If you liked this, you might like our other SwimRun Team Profiles
I’ve been thinking about my biggest concerns about Breca SwimRun.
At the moment, its wetsuit choice (and affordability!) and getting in some specific training sessions. Some others I’ve spoken to are worried about which shoes to choose? Paddles or no-paddles? And I’d imagine there are people reading this who want to enter who don’t even have a partner yet!
So I thought this would be a good time to hear from a team who have been through all this, who probably had the same concerns in the build up as we will. Hopefully it will reassure us that we’re on the right track so far, or give us things to think about that we hadn’t before, maybe give us a chance to learn from their mistakes.
Their experience might even help to persuade others to enter their own team.
So whilst “The Grande Rouge” won’t be at Breca next year, this interview should help us all with our own preparations….
Team Name: The Grande Rouge Team Members: Richard Frickleton & Erin Beveridge
Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other? We are Boyfriend & Girlfriend and live in Edinburgh – We met through the triathlon club we are both members of. (you can read more about Richards adventures over at his blog)
What do you do when you’re not jumping into lakes with your shoes on or running round in wetsuits? Over the past couple of years we have both been trying to get to grips with triathlon! So you’ll usually find us swim/bike/running about Edinburgh and the surrounding areas. As we come into winter we abandon the roads for the hills and do lots of mountain biking & cross country.
What had you done in the past?
RF – I was a xc-mountain biker for a long time but ended up getting roped into doing a few adventure races. Loads of these guys were triathletes and they planted the seed for getting involved in triathlon and since then I’ve been hooked. I’ve only done a handful of short course races each year mostly because of injury & work but I love splitting my time across all the disciplines, I say I love it what I mean is I tolerate the swimming but love the rest. EB – I was a sprint hurdler at school but unfortunately my legs didn’t grow as quickly as the height of the hurdles did (plus I was competing against Eilidh Child). Played hockey while at university in Glasgow gaining a coaching qualification before leaving to work in France & New Zealand. Once I was back I was talked into cycling 1000 miles round Scotland for charity, some of the guys doing it were triathletes and since then I have done a handful of short course races each year before I decided it would be a good idea to try and swim 8k in a SwimRun race.
Which SwimRun race did you take part in? Loch Lomond Inch by Inch – its a good one for spectators!
And how did you get on? What can you tell us about your experience? We finished 10th out of the 40 teams and 2nd mixed pair so its safe to say our first experience of swim run was very good. Because this is still a relatively new format a lot of the other competitors were also doing it for the first time so the atmosphere pre-race was different, there is a lot more chat mostly about how you have been training for it and how you made your kit. (ahh, we’ll get onto that in a minute)
How competitive was it?
It appeared to attract 2 particular types of people, none of which we fitted into. #1: Good/confident swimmers (obviously) & #2: Multiple Ironman finishers. We did find however that fitting into either of these categories didn’t guarantee success because none of these involve swimming and running multiple times in one day while wearing a wetsuit and carrying all your gear. We were amazed that people we had talked to the days/weeks/months before who were looking forward to an event which focused on their strengths (swimmers), finished after we did. A lot of them underestimated how much the running would affect their swimming and how much the wetsuit would affect their running and generally how preparation for a triathlon is different for preparing for a swim run.
How does the saying go, “fail to prepare…?”
We also found that no matter what race strategy people had decided on, in the heat of competition you’ll always do what’s quickest. For example quite a few people had decided to take their shoes off for the swims but that quickly changed when they were sitting trying to get their shoes off & on while others just ploughed in and out of the water without stopping. I guess what I am getting at is that because this is still a new concept in the UK it is possible to do well even if you are not the fittest or fastest (it helps) but as long as you have put some thought into your preparation you can do quite well.
Why Swimrun? Why not a normal race/triathlon? It all came about because Richard was looking to raise money for charity and thought this would be ideal. We needed something different, something which wasn’t a hobby and something people could clearly see was out of our comfort zone – Had it not been for that I don’t know if I would have ever attempted to try this, never mind wanting to do it again!
Talking of which, are you going to put yourselves through it all again? We do want to do it again but next year it all depends on having enough time & holidays to do it. Annoyingly all my friends are getting married and the stag doos & weddings at the same time as a lot of the events. If we are going to do one it will be the Snowdonia swim run event in August.
Team Dynamics: What do you each bring to the team? In the build up Richard dealt with the coaching, planning all the swim sets and swim run sessions and Erin did a lot of the research into kit (I.e cut up an old wetsuit or buy a specific sim/run wetsuit). On race day we were all about trying to enjoy ourselves & making sure we both made it to the end in one piece.
Did teamwork make the dreamwork? Or had you fallen out with each other by the end? We maybe weren’t the quickest but as a team we worked well and managed not to fall out and just generally had a good laugh as we went round – we’re quite good at telling when one another is struggling.
Have you got any equipment tricks/tips or hacks you can share with others? The one tip we were given which I wish I had done was putting some kind of floatation down the front of my compression socks. As I tired I found even with my pull buoy my legs were sinking and a little bit more floatation would have been helpful.
What are your 3 biggest tips for a successful race?
#1: Train for the specific demands of the race – it’s not a triathlon get used to getting in and out of the water and get to know what effect running has on your swimming and vice versa. Plunging back into cold water after a long run is something you need to prepare your body for!
#2: Plan when you will fuel yourself – It’s going to be a long day and the only time you can eat and drink is on the run (which isn’t easy). Look for sections of the run where it may be just as fast to walk rather than run and take on some nutrition at that point, it’s better than attempting to wolf something down as you fly through a feed station, you’ll be grateful later in the day if you do.
#3: Trial and error – Experiment with kit & tactics don’t just do what everyone else does. E.g paddles – these were not for us, we found the extra effort we had to put in did not make us any quicker & killed our shoulders but then again loads of the teams found it made them swim more efficiently
What would you say to someone thinking of signing up? Go for it, be one of the first to say you tried swimrun – but don’t underestimate the physical challenge its completely different to a triathlon.
And there we have it, some great tips to take away there. Big thanks to Richard & Erin for taking the time out to answer these questions. If you made it this far, thanks for reading too! If you liked this, you might like the team profiles we’ve done so far for Breca 2016, Tuff Fitty & Tri Energy Mums. Finally, If you’ve got experience you’d like to share, or if you’d like your Breca SwimRun team profiled then get in touch.
No. 2 in the Breca SwimRun team profiles – this week we have our first female team. We got in touch via twitter last week which gave us the chance to fire a few questions over.
Team Name: Tri Energy Mums Team Members: Sam Anderson & Lenka Moore Team Motto: UNITED WE SWIMRUN!
3 word foreword:THIS IS EPIC!
Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other? Hi – we’re Sam & Lenka from Stourport on Severn near Worcester. We met through our Tri Club and in turn set up a Kids Tri Team (Tri Energy Kids) where we coach together every Monday night. Lenka’s 2 children come to the kids tri club too. We’ve known each other for 3 years and always have a good laugh!
What do you do when you’re not jumping into lakes with your shoes on or running round in wetsuits?
SA – I’m on maternity leave at the moment! So I can be found shaking maracas, drinking tea and talking to other Mums about feeding, sleeping and nappy changes! I’ve also started local buggyfit classes for Mums in the area which we do three times a week. LM – I am an accountant running a business with my husband. This allows me to work from home a lot so I can be there for the kids. And I like running round in shoes and swimming in my wetsuit, I have just never done it all mixed together so it should be fun.
What attracted you to Breca SwimRun?
SA – I’ve raced close to 100 multisport events and was looking for something different. I had my son Bobby in June of this year and knew time would be limited in terms of being able to train on the bike etc so I wanted an event that had a bit more running in as I can get out running with Bobby in the buggy anytime I like. We live near Wyre Forest which has some lovely hilly routes – not quite the Honister Pass though!!! LM – I have done triathlons for about 4 years and fancied something different so when Sam asked me to be her partner I jumped at the opportunity.
Team Dynamics: Whats going to give you the edge over everyone else? SA – The bike is my strength, which is a bit of a problem! Ooops! Other than that my strength is doing things for other people. I love helping and supporting and encouraging others and even if I was on my last legs I’d tell Lenka I was enjoying it to keep her spirits high! I’d hate to let her down and so I think that loyalty to each other will really boost us and keep us going.
LM – I am quite chilled and level headed so I am hoping to feed off Sam’s enthusiasm and keep us on the right track. We will definitely be there for each other when the going gets tough.
We are both mums and I think that gives you mental strength you never knew you had.
Are you happy with your teammate? LM – Sam’s original choice of a partner changed her mind (I wonder why??) so I was really chuffed when Sam asked me! She is a better swimmer than me so I am hoping for a tow and I will definitely be in charge of the map!
SA – We are very similar swimmers actually, so that’s an advantage. We live really close to each other too so hoping that being local means we can drag each other out to train! I’m hoping Lenka’s sense of navigation is much better than mine – I ended up waddling through the River Severn at 38 weeks pregnant trying to get home as I’d taken a wrong turn!
“Waddling through the River Severn?”
SA – I’d walked for 2 hours at 38 weeks pregnant to get to a group called ‘Bumps and Babes’. I had totally underestimated how long it would take me. On the way home I was convinced I could find a quicker route but got totally lost and when I saw the river I knew I should be the other side of it! I started wading through it but then came to my senses! When I eventually got a signal (I was in the middle of nowhere) I had to call a friend to come and rescue me!
Have you looked at the course map yet? Is there anything making you nervous? SA – errr…not really looked at that yet – ignorance is bliss! LM – I am with Sam on this one. Lake district is beautiful so I am looking forward to the views.
What have you done in the past? Give us a bit of background. SA – I’ve raced triathlon since 2009. I won British and European Age Group Gold in 2013 and then 2 more European medals in Duathlon and Aquathlon in 2014. My claim to fame was spotting myself on TV after doing a few of the British Elite Super Series races (I was being lapped!) This year I’ve done absolutely nothing and struggle to run 5km at the moment! I’ve not swum since April and my bike is still in the bikebox from the 2014 Canada World Champs! I’m hoping this epic race will scare me into training sooner rather than later! LM – Sam is my claim to fame. I am racing with a European champion!! I started doing triathlons to keep fit and I wanted a challenge. My children were quite young so finding time to train has always been a problem for me. I have won a few local races and got to represent GB in 2013 in my age group. But now the kids are growing up, they started joining in with Sam’s tri club so I feel ready to take on something epic and this is where Breca swim/run comes in.
Proving to the kids that Mum’s still got it eh? Or just setting an example/Showing them what can be achieved?
LM: A bit of both!
Are you planning on any particular races in the build up?
SA – we’ve seen some random orienteering races that are close to home. I’ve also entered some off road trail runs through the winter; and we’ll keep chipping away at our local park run – that killer hill at the end with a buggy has got to count for something? LM – Our local park run has a few hills in it and the whole family can join in. Cross country races are always good training, the Gloucestershire league is fab. And I am sure we will find some longer off road races in new year.
Will you be making a weekend of it or is it a splash,dash & grab? SA – I’d go for a week if we could!!! We’ve persuaded friends Sophie and Caroline (Team Mad Chicks) to race too – we’ll be competing with them to avoid the wooden spoon! So the plan is for us all to go and stay in a big house together and drink wine and talk about how good we could have been if it wasn’t for x, y and z! LM – Funny we have organised the weekend and the party, invited friends, planned the food and wine and haven’t even looked at the race details! We must sort out our priorities!
A bit of friendly rivalry? Lets just set it out now in writing, lay down the challenge, so everyone can see it – Are you going to beat them? Well let’s just say the beauty of an endurance event means anything can happen! We’re secretly hoping that Caroline spots a pub on the route and gets sidetracked to go and have a glass of red vino; and that just the one will turn into her retiring from the race!!
Are there any questions you’d like to put to other teams/organisers/experienced swimrunners? Anything you’re curious about? SA – would anyone like to donate us some kit???
LM – I have loads of questions! I would like to know what kind of food will be provided at the feed stations. And what kind of shoes are the best to swim in? How to prevent chaffing and blisters? Socks or no socks? Are the lakes quite cold? What if I need a loo?…..
Good questions, I’ll be putting some of these questions to experienced swimrunners and to the race director in the near future. Brill, thank you!
If you’d like to have your team featured, or maybe you’ve done a SwimRun event before and want to share valuable experience with others. Get in touch and we can fire some questions at you.