Swimming Comeback and Undeserved Medals

A couple of days ago, I entered my first swimming gala in eight years. I quit the sport when I was 17 due to some club politics, an unsupportive coach and also because most of my friends had quit at that time too.

I decided to come back to swimming in December last year, after working at home, besides my once a week volunteer swim session, all my exercise was done at home too. It was an unhealthy cycle and I wanted to get out and meet new people. I joined a local swimming team in January and have never looked back. I only wish I had joined back in September when I first came back to Nottingham. The coaches are nice, the pools are clean, my teammates are friendly and I’ve been swimming five times a week.

So this weekend it was my first chance to get back in the pool as a competitive swimmer. The meet was especially for Masters (swimmers aged 18 and above) and involved a series of 50m, 100m and 200m events (both individual and relays) – I entered them all. There was a special challenge set by the organisers, to enter and complete all ten races, and by doing so, I won a bottle of whisky. Nice gesture, but as not a hard-drinker, it will probably sit in the cupboard for a long time yet.

The other prizes up for grabs at the event included 1) the Overall Age Group Winner, for the swimmer in each age group who accumulated the most points during the day (points are given for the time you swam for each event – the faster you swim, the more points you get) 2) Nottinghamshire County Champion Medals for the fastest eligible swimmer in each event per age group and 3) Spot Prizes for whoever the announcer deemed worthy, like the person in this race who comes 3rd, has the jazziest trunks on, etc.

In addition to the all 10 races whisky prize, I also won the overall age group prize (a new pair of racing goggles) and all 10 county champion medals. I didn’t win any of the spot prizes, which were bottles of shampoo and other toiletries, haha I’ve written about that before

I won the County Champion medals even though I wasn’t the fastest age group swimmer in all of my races. I was only the outright fastest in my age group for three of the ten races. Only swimmers who swam for teams within Nottinghamshire were eligible for the medals, so even though I was 4th in the 50m breaststroke, I still won the medal for that race, since the other three faster swimmers swam for teams outside of Nottinghamshire, and were therefore not able to win these medals. In theory, my wins were fair wins, in the same way if I went to Shropshire and was the fastest swimmer in the Shropshire County Championships, since I’m not affiliated with Shropshire, I wouldn’t be able to win any of their medals. But still, I feel a bit like most of the medals were undeserved. I swam as fast as I could, but my times were not as fast as they were nine years ago and other people swam faster than me. I’m certain that there are other females aged 25-29 in Nottinghamshire who are faster than me at all of the events I swam at the weekend, so it’s still quite embarrassing for me to call myself ‘County Champion’.

Me and my 10 golds
Me and my 10 golds

More to come on what I will do with the medals…

You can’t swim with me.

What is it with guys that want to go swimming when girls do? I don’t mean in general, I mean I’m sure most men go swimming because they want to keep fit and enjoy being in the pool, but within the last week, whenever I’ve told a male friend that I’m going swimming, they have almost exploded with a huge desire to suddenly come swimming with me. If it was running, or yoga, or boxing that I told them I was going to, they would not say anything about it, but as soon as it’s swimming, they get animated. But no, you can’t swim with me.

Maybe I am being selfish or rude or just awkward, but there are several reasons behind my refusal in letting them join me swimming.

1. You don’t swim like I do

After years of swimming competitively, I get in a pool and swim at least 750m for a warm up. How many lengths is that? That’s another reason why you can’t swim with me…swimmers like myself not only swim longer and more structured sets than your average public swimmer, but we count differently too. My standard warm up looks like this

3 x (150 S/K/P per 50 +10s)

which to you would be 2 lengths normal swim, 2 lengths using the kickboard (legs only), 2 lengths using a pull buoy (arms only), then rest for ten seconds after doing those 6 lengths. Repeat three times.

I also use the clock a lot, so will be thinking in terms of ‘red top, black bottom’ (which are the same thing) instead of looking at the actual time, seconds count a lot in my swimming session. There is a huge difference between a 10 second rest and a 15 second rest.

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My swimming style

2. It’s not sociable

Swimming with me is not sociable. I get in, I swim and I rarely stop for chats. If you came swimming with me, what would you be doing besides trying to race me or watch me?

3. You can’t teach me

I’m a very good swimmer, I know the weaknesses of my strokes and I have plenty of sets and workouts for myself. Unless you’re a swimming coach with years of experience, there’s really nothing you can teach me that I don’t already know.

4. I won’t teach you

If I pay for a public swimming session (average price seems to be about £3.90 these days) I want to make the most out of my time and session. Teaching a beginner how to swim is hard and it takes months, even years for a beginner to learn how to swim, it’s not possible to learn in an hour.

So, sorry guys, but actually I’m not sorry. You can’t swim with me unless you are a dedicated lane swimmer who agrees with me about these nuances , until then – you can’t swim with me!

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Boy bye

First White Belt Battle

I’ve been studying taekwondo ever since I came to China last September. Unfortunately, at Christmas time I missed the grading exam, so I’m still a white belt along with a lot of the other students who got tired towards the end of term and opted to spend their weekends in the library.

This term though, instead of just kicking a bag or pad held up by a partner, we had three classes where we all got the chance to do some practice fights. I got them on video and below is the video of my second ever taekwondo fight (somebody moved the video recorder for the first one, so half the time we’re fighting off screen).

I’m wearing blue, and my opponent Rosa, is actually the coach’s girlfriend, so she knows not to be nervous about kicking out as some of the other girls are. Some of the others apologise in the ‘ring’ and are too nervous about hurting their opponent to try putting what we’ve learnt into practice.

I really enjoyed the practice fights, it was good to watch others too, although the lads got a bit aggressive and scary. I realised mid-fight that we’d only studied how to attack, not how to defend, which is why I didn’t know what to do when Rosa had me backed against the wall!

I hope you enjoy the video, let me know what you think.

Also, we were told to take off our taekwondo shoes, so as not to hurt each other as much, but kicking with bare feet hurt quite a bit, which is why Rosa stops to rub her feet.

The Local Paper

Imagine this: you’re living in a different country, you sign up for a race and during one of your training sessions, an unknown number keeps calling you. You answer the phone, and it turns out to be a reporter from the local paper, she wants to interview you because she found out you’re a foreigner taking part in the local marathon. Cool! Right?

Well…

I agreed to the interview, and talked to her on the phone for about 10 minutes about why I was in China, what training I do, why I like running and how I found out about the marathon (I continued running whilst talking to her). Then the day before the marathon, which was in a smaller city a 30min bus away, she met me and my friend and took us for dinner. She wanted to get to know me better and would publish an exclusive interview with me in the paper on Monday. It sounded great, I’d get a bit of fame, could practice my Chinese and it was a free meal.

We talked about lots of things, it didn’t seem like an interview at all, she wasn’t writing much down and the conversation ran quite smoothly, as we talked about all the different sports I’ve played since I was younger, my reasons for coming to China etc.

I finished the race and didn’t manage to see her after to tell her how the race went. A few days later, I didn’t receive any post (she said she would post me a couple of copies of the paper), so I assumed she’d found another foreigner to take my place, one of the Ethiopians or Kenyans who won the race. But last week, I thought I would look on Baidu (Chinese version of Google) and sure enough, searching my Chinese name (李欧娜), I found the article.

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I was pretty shocked at first, without even having read a character of Chinese. She had copied my Wechat profile photo without permission. Even so, why wouldn’t she send me the article? Did it get lost in the post? Why didn’t she send me the link to the online page, like she did when I appeared in a paragraph of a previous article?

I read the first couple of sentences, and felt like she was exaggerating a bit (I’m definitely not a 中国通!) and then I saw some things that just weren’t right. She’d quoted me as saying things that I simply hadn’t said, had exaggerated a lot of things, and written some things that were just downright lies.

I wasn’t sure how to react: I found it funny at first, but then I realised that all of the locals who read this and didn’t know me, wouldn’t know what was true and what wasn’t. I think even some of my friends would believe a lot of what she wrote, like how I “fell in love with China at 16 when I first tasted 辣子鸡丁 (a spicy chicken dish)”, how I compared Lanxi to New York central park or how when I left her the day before the marathon I told her to ‘remember my name’. This made me a bit angry, and I wanted to do something about it.

A few days ago I published an open letter to her on my Chinese blog and as soon as I pressed ‘发布’, she sent me a private message on Wechat. She was sincerely sorry for the exaggerations she wrote, and didn’t mean to cause any harm. She was rushed for time when completing the article and instead of asking me for the information she was missing, she decided to just invent some things. She now realises that wasn’t right, and thanked me a lot for pointing this out to her, as she is still new to this job. She criticised Chinese media, saying that in general, people do exaggerate and misquote, it’s common place. She also said that she was very embarrassed when she saw the final article, so didn’t send it to me. Her editor had changed a lot of the details, from things I’d actually said to things that Chinese people would relate to more. She knew she’d done wrong, and thought I would never see the article, but she is glad I wrote the letter to her, and she will keep it as a reminder for the future.

All this fuss over just a local paper, you might think, but I think it’s really important for me to stand my ground in cases like this. One newspaper says X, the next says Y and then before I know it, there’s rumours spreading across the whole of China about which dish made me fall in love with China, when actually, I’m not sure if I’ve ever fallen in love with China, let alone after biting into a fortune cookie from the takeaway back at home.

Running around the world

Doing a sport in a different country will always be a little different from doing it at home, with different facilities, weather and people, you probably won’t get the same experience. Running is no different.

When I started running, back in the Canary Islands in 2013, the conditions were just perfect for me. The club I ran with organised running routes to the next village and back, as well as some core strength exercises before we set off. The weather was quite humid and warm most of the time, even though we ran in the evening. The run to the next village was along the coast, and there was also a part with about 400 steps if I remember correctly, and we ran up and down those steps at least once each training session, which was essential as most of the races were mountainous.

When I went back to the UK and joined the triathlon team, to be honest, I didn’t really get into the running part of it until quite late. Sure, I did some interval sessions and a couple of runs around campus, but I didn’t join Strava until about June, so I wasn’t really invested in my running.

Strava definitely changed that, I loved finding segments when I went out running and was surprised to break a few course records. What was even better, was going to a different city or country and topping the leader board in another place. I currently own CRs in three countries!

In the UK, I would go running on a route around my house, near a lake, near the canal, through housing estates, but always quite close to greenery and along a nature footpath. The mornings would be cold, so I often ran in the evenings before dinner time and the running community in the UK is so friendly. When runners come across each other, we smile and wave (before going home later and seeing the flyby and checking out their run!*)

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Before my 800m race

Anyway, running in China is definitely the most difficult of all the places I’ve ran. Firstly, the air quality. When I first arrived, after every run, I had a sore throat and a bad cough and I knew it was because of the air pollution. My friends told me that after two weeks, my body would adjust and it kind of did, but of course there are days that are more polluted than others, and if I exert myself too much, I might get a cough.

Some Chinese cities are great to run in, there are parks, hills, lakes and rivers. But often, that’s not the case and I find myself running on the road. Chinese cities love big leafy avenues, but sometimes the tree takes up the whole of the pavement, so I have to run on the road instead. China is always constructing and reconstructing, so you have to watch out for open manholes, tools left on the ground and construction vehicles. This is probably why most people run on the athletics track on campus.

But the good thing about all the construction is how much my run has changed. I used to run until the pavement stopped, but then they added more pavement, so I run further now. They also added tactile slabs on the ground and have filled in some of the big holes that were in the floor. Running in China is always an experience, especially in the morning when you come across people doing tai chi or other strange exercises.

*Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this

Gender Inequality, the shoe’s on the other foot

If you’ve been reading the newspaper columns this year, you’ve bound to have heard how women pay 37% more than men on the high street or are even overcharged everyday on products that are packaged differently but are actually no different from mens – pink razors, pens and deodorant are the most cited examples.

So when I went to treat myself for Chinese New Year, I went straight to the men’s section of my semi-local Decathlon store. I wanted to buy some new running trainers as my current ones are tattered, torn and a bit of old after years of running across, up and down four countries.

I looked at some reviews online and decided to try a pair of Kalenji’s, specially designed for long distances. The colour was a nice dark blue, the 40 fitted fine and I was happy to pay the 399块 (about £40). Until I walked past the ladies section, just to see if they had any purple ones. I found the same shoe, in a bright pink, ‘ladies’ version (I measured, the shoes were exactly the same). Besides the colours and the fact that the men’s laces were longer, something else was different…the price.

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Pink or blue?

After all I’ve been reading recently, I assumed there would be no difference in China, and the ladies shoe would be more expensive than the men’s. But to my surprise, the ladies shoe was 29% cheaper, at 299块  (about £30).

I was shocked, outraged and very confused. How could quite clearly the exact same shoe differ so much in price, only due to the colour and it being in the mens/womens section?

663695312069214461In my outrage, I took both sets of shoes to the till to ask if they really were different prices, maybe they’d made a mistake? Maybe my laowai charm would make them scan the pink ones but give me the blue ones? The 服务员 told me that yes, they were different prices. I asked her why, she said ‘different colour, different price’. I pleaded with her “but the blue ones are so nice, why are they 100块 more expensive?”, but she didn’t budge and told me (nicely, not aggressively) “if you want the blue ones, spend another 100”. I sighed, said no, I’m on a student budget.

She told me if I sign up to be a Decathlon member, not only will I get some points, but she would give me a free frisbee. Sold. I spent 10 mins filling in details to become a Decathlon 会员 and walked away with my pink trainers.

But I’m still considering changing them to the blue. What should I do? I really liked the blue ones, but the difference in price just made me so upset and angry, I should probably stick to the pink ones out of principal, and my Dad said they’ll lose their pink shine soon enough anyway.

Getting out and running

 

The cold, dark mornings arrived in China which really disrupted my running habit. I used to set my first alarm at 6.13am to get up and run at 6.30am when my dormitory’s door was unlocked and go for a morning run in one of the three stadiums on campus. But now, even if I set that 6.13am alarm, it’s really hard to get out of bed and go running. I don’t usually mind running in the rain, and it’s been raining a lot lately, but more and more people have told me that the rain in China has lots of chemicals that can damage my skin and hair, which puts me off. And I don’t have a base layer, amongst all my other excuses.

On Sunday, I wasn’t planning on going for a run, I had a tough HIIT taekwondo class on Saturday [lots of jumping] and had another one on Sunday afternoon, but when I woke up at 10.30am and saw the sun shining, I just couldn’t resist going for a run. Especially as the day before I deleted a lot of slow songs off my mp3 player, so it was full of uplifting, upbeat songs.

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A rare sunny morning in Jinhua

My legs were a bit stuff, but it was so bright and clear outside, I didn’t mind. I knew taekwondo class would be hard that afternoon, especially if the instructor made us do all that jumping again, but I told myself I’m training for a marathon, I need to keep running.

After my 8.7km run, I treated myself to lunch in the canteen. I’d seen the deep fried chicken wings several times, but never tried them until Sunday. They were a little spicy, and I am really glad I tried them, 35p for two is a bargain too.

I didn’t bother to get changed out of my favourite running top, as I have to wear something underneath my itchy taekwondo clothes. In taekwondo that afternoon, after 3 weeks of practice, I finally managed to master a kick that the instructor had been teaching us. After class I went back to the canteen in my gym clothes, (the second time in one day!) and was pleased with all the sport I’d done that weekend. It was tiring, and I think I almost cried in taekwondo on Saturday because it was too difficult, but I made it through and am now stronger for it.

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My favourite running top
Sometimes, you just need that little push to get you out running, then all is good. On Sunday it was the sunshine, I wonder what it will be today, or tomorrow.

First Athletics Meet [1500m]

Ok, so technically this wasn’t my first athletics competition I’ve taken part in. In year 7, I was in the Coventry schools athletics tournament, I raced in the 110m hurdles and came last. I came last because we’d been using training hurdles at school, but when we got to the competition, they were raised a few cms higher. I cleared the first one, but fell over at the second, and the third and ended the race crying, with bloody knees. I still have a scar from that day. It was one of those days where wasn’t about taking part, it was more about finishing the race and not giving up at the first hurdle [pun intended].

Anyway, Zhejiang Normal uni, like most Chinese universities, holds an annual athletics meet or 运动会, it’s like a sports day that Chinese people do throughout their school life, so actually by the time they get to university, most students are a bit bored of it all and choose not to watch or take part – which isn’t the spirit!!

As I love sports and am preparing for the upcoming Jinhua marathon in April, I decided to enter the longest distance races available – 800m and 1500m. I was a bit disappointed there wasn’t a 5km* race, but I couldn’t complain/didn’t know who to complain to.

I was the only girl from my department to enter the 1500m, but there would be other girls competing from other departments (engineering, nursery, maths, literature etc). There were 42 female competitors in the end, and I was quite nervous about all of us running at the same time, but then my 负责人 Evelyn (another Chinese student from my department who was appointed to be almost like a PA – taking me to get my race number, telling me the rules, etc) told me how we’d be split into 3 heats. There wouldn’t be a final, so I’d have to run faster than the girls in the other heats to get up on the leaderboard.

I lined up on the starting line and looked at my competitors, some were in sports clothes, one was wearing denim shorts, not all of them had proper trainers. But I dressed the part, even if I lost my race, I wanted to look like a professional athlete from overseas, so wore my matching purple Puma top and shorts, along with my trademark blue headband, blue sunglasses and worn out trainers which probably need replacing.

Before the race
Before the race

The race started and although my coach told me to stay in the middle, with 5 girls ahead of me, I decided to stick with the first three girls. The four of us broke away at the beginning and we dropped down to three after the first 200m as the girl in grey got tired. I was running alongside the girl in black for a while, keeping a steady pace for a lap. Then her coach shouted at her and she overtook me for a little while, but I could tell that she wouldn’t be able to keep that pace for a long time, so I just stayed with her, stamping my feet so she knew I was coming for her. We’d lost the girl in yellow by this time. I wasn’t really thinking about the other heats, I just wanted to win this race as I had a whole stand full of fans shouting for me. My friends from Sudan, Cameroon, South Korea, China, Ghana and Ethiopia all turned out for me and whistled, shouted and went crazy each time I passed them.

Setting the pace
Before the race

I soon overtook her and she kept behind for a while, until when I got to the final 250m I accelerated, and made my move to see if she would respond. A few seconds later, I couldn’t hear her footsteps, only the whistles from the crowd and people shouting my name. I glanced back at the end of the final corner and saw she hadn’t upped the pace like me. That was it, I’d won! Glory was mine as I crossed the finish line.

The crowd went wild and I was suddenly surrounded by people, my 负责人 Evelyn, gave me some water, and the other people were school journalists, all wanting to interview me. I felt like a pro sportswoman as I told them how this was the first time I’d ran a 1500m race and my usual race is triathlon.

When the results came out later, I saw I’d ran in it 5.59:42mins, so my pace was just under 4mins/km, which was what I was aiming for. But what surprised me more was my standing! I came third overall, which meant I’d go on the podium to receive a medal and some flowers from one of the school’s deputies. It was the first time I’d been on a podium like this, with flower girls, my name being read out on a microphone and a group of paparazzi standing below.

Very happy to be on the podium
Before the race

*it turns out there was a 5km race, but it was only open to students in the sports department, meaning there were only 4 girls competing, I should have been able to race in that!

GeoPark Adventure Standard Triathlon – Race Report

This Sunday was the GeoPark Adventure triathlons, there was a sprint and a standard distance and I knew this would be my last race for the time being. Looking at the maps of the course, I also knew it would be the hardest event I’d done so far, as it consisted of a 1500m sea swim, 42km of rolling hills and a 12km undulating run across the coast near Paignton, in Devon.

After struggling to find a space to rack my bike (there were no number assigned places) I got ready, with my trisuit, swim caps, goggles and wetsuit. I went over to the race briefing with the 70 other participants and listened to details of the course. The marshall said it was one of the toughest triathlons in the UK, which made me feel quite nervous. But I was determined to enjoy this last race and not kill, or overexert myself in the process.

The moment I stepped down into the steps into the water and a big wave of cool sea water came over me, it was high tide and there was no time for hesitation. I got in and the two minutes acclimatisation time passed really quickly as before I knew it, the klaxon sounded and we were off. The first lap was quite difficult as I couldn’t get into a good rhythm with my stroke and trying to spot the green buoys when everyone is wearing green swim caps was tricky! On my second lap, I felt better and overtook a few people but swimming back towards the exit was the hardest part.

Swimming in the sea
Swimming in the sea

After the swim, it was T1 and I couldn’t undo my wetsuit, I was struggling and pulling and tugging but the zip wouldn’t come down. Luckily, a kind lady helped me unzip and soon we were both out on the bike course. In the triathlons I’ve done with lake swims, I’ve had a horrible lake water taste in my mouth, but the sea water wasn’t too bad.

Getting out of my wetsuit
Getting out of my wetsuit

The bike course was going to be challenging, but one thing I feel was a bit unfair was that getting out of the town to the country roads, there were several sets of traffic lights. When competitors stopped at the lights, we lost a couple of minutes and there was no time taken off for abiding the highway code and stopping at the lights. It was frustrating too, as I lost the groups of people who were in front of me.

Anyway, the course was hilly, there were descents that were so fast and curvy they scared me, as I had no idea what would be waiting at the end – a T-junction, an uphill climb, a parked car, reversing car, another cyclist – I even heard there were horses on some parts of the course. Not knowing the roads made it hard and also the sheer intensity of the hills. Some athletes got off their bikes and walked up the hills, they were so steep. I spent many minutes crunching away in my lowest gear trying to make it up the steep hills.

The narrow country roads were great for glimpsing spectacular views, but they required attention, careful riding and decision making. At one point, two big cars were trying to pass each other but there was no passing place, the cars were at a stand-off and me and another lady were waiting for the motorists to figure something out. It was frustrating, not being able to advance but I imagine things like this must have happened to everyone at some point of the race. In total, I was cycling for over 2 hours.

Back to transition (T2), I rolled my bike onto my rack, undid my helmet, picked up my cap and off I went. My T2s are always pretty speedy as I don’t need to change shoes, so my T2 was the fastest out of all the competitors, at 00.00.35. The run was absolutely spectacular. It was my favourite part of the race and probably the nicest scenery I’ve run along in the UK. I first ran down the promenade, with sunbathing families on the beach to my left and old couples in deckchairs outside their beach huts to my right. Then I went up and down coastal steps before going across some hidden stony beaches towards the woods and had a lovely trail run through the woodlands. It reminded me of running in the Canary Islands and I was just having a great time taking in the scenery that I didn’t want to run any faster. I was jogging at a slower pace but I was so happy, my face was beaming and I’d never felt better.

On the way back, we ran across a golf course, through some more woods, past some trainspotters, more kids on the beach and on the home stretch, I had enough energy left to run past 5 others for a sprint finish. The sunbathing crowds were great sports, clapping us all along and moving out of our way. They smiled and were really encouraging. I already said it was going to be the hardest event I’ve done so far and with a finishing time of 4 hours and 3 minutes, it deserves the tagline “Beautiful yet Brutal” that some people have used on their Facebook. I was the 9th female to cross the line and 7th in the senior category, which I’m pleased with.

Sprint finish
Sprint finish

Overall, I highly rate the GeoPark Adventure triathlon, the scenery was immense and the course was challenging. It was also quite a small scale event, so all the photos have been published on Facebook and you don’t have to pay ridiculous amounts for a copy. Instead of a medal or a tshirt, I got a mug for participating, which I had a nice cup of tea in when I got back. It would have been nice to have numbers on the bike racks, swim caps that are different colours to the buoys and some minutes deducted for waiting at junctions, but these are minor details.

They also do other events, such as runs, swims, sportives as well as the triathlons, so check them out if you’re in the South West and want to try out or volunteer at an endurance event. I hope to be back next year to improve on my times and take on the challenge again.

All photos are taken from the GeoPark Adventure Facebook page.

Training Solo

I’ve finished at uni (for good!) and am now back at home for the summer. The move back to Coventry has also meant that I can’t train with the amazing guys and girls at UoN Triathlon Club. I originally planned to join the Coventry Triathlon Club, but their training timetable isn’t as convenient as I thought it would be. Some of the sessions are across the other side of the city and with my summer jobs, I can’t always make these. So I’ve resorted to training solo.

I’ve posted before about the benefits of practicing an individual sport as part of a team and it is difficult coming out of that environment. It’s easy to fall into the trap of not going to training sessions and believing that with one cycle and one run a week, you’re doing enough. It’s one I started to fall into, as I started some part time summer jobs and lost motivation to train.

Until I got Strava.

Strava is an app which tracks your movements (cycling and running), you can follow your friends/team mates and see the efforts of other athletes. There are also segments of road where you can race against other users to be King (or Queen) of the Mountain. Since getting more involved with Strava, I’ve been more motivated to get out and train, even if I don’t have much time on my hands.

I’ve got two triathlons coming up, City of Birmingham and Paignton, so I still need to keep in shape and work on my mileage on the bike and out running – especially as they’re both Olympic distance! I’m not sure how I’ll perform at these next two triathlons, but I’m keen to enjoy myself and races are a lot easier when you’ve put in lots of training effort beforehand.

Last week, I did two runs, a small 5k one and a longer 12.5k one too. I also did a quick cycle to the betting shop, where I won the prize of Queen of the Mountain on The Drive (a steep hill where my primary school is) as well as a long 60km cycle this morning. Next week I’ve got more free time, and I’m hoping for a couple of mid-distance rides and aiming to run every other day.

Training on your own can be hard, but I think when you put your mind to it and see what other people are up to, through apps like Strava (which also help you to track your pace, distance and elevation) training without a team isn’t a barrier.