Training Tuesday: Focusing on Rest and Recovery. photo: always shooting

Many athletes still feel guilty when they take a day off but taking rest days are just as important as the other 3 disciplines (Swim, Bike & Run) for performing at your highest level.

The body needs to repair & strengthen itself in between workouts & continuous training with no rest days can weaken the athlete & lead to injury, overtraining, illness & lack of motivation mentally as well.

Building recovery time into training is critical, this is the time the body adapts to the stress of training & the real training effects take place.  Energy stores are replaced & muscles repair, rebuild & strengthen.  Insufficient rest & recovery the body will continue to breakdown.

A coach will incorporate rest & recovery within your training program & these will be in the form of Active Recovery (low intensity exercise the day after a hard workout), Rest Day (a whole day off from exercise), Recovery Week (Reduced volume week after a block of progressive training) These forms of recovery help our bodies adapt & become more efficient, we then add additional stress to continue to make progress – these are the things a coach will make sure your training program covers.

Another very important part of rest & recovery is SLEEP & we need to be getting a minimum of 8 hours sleep a night.  Consistently getting less than 8 hours sleep a night can result in changes to hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery & mood.  So we get an increased level of cortisol which is the stress hormone & a decrease in growth hormone which we need for muscle recovery & a decrease in glycogen synthesis which is needed for energy therefore your aerobic endurance will decrease and perceived exertion rating will be increased making the workout feel harder.  So paying more attention to how much sleep your are getting is very important, try getting yourself off to bed earlier to get the 8 hours your body & mind need & see the difference in your training & daily life.

menopause

I recently posted a podcast on menopause for the athlete on my facebook page facebook.com/tribirdsport it was very interesting listening to what other women are going through & what steps they have taken to still be able to participate in sport even at higher levels.  I am in the early peri-menopause stage myself & I do think knowledge is power to getting to grips & finding alternative ways to lighten the symptoms.  Also talking about it with other women really helps, one with my sanity that I’m not going crazy and offering up what’s working for them plus we do have a good chuckle about it.

Some of the symptoms of Peri/Menopause are:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair and dry skin
  • Foggy brain
  • Loss of labido

But what was also mentioned in this podcast that I never knew were itchy skin (I have this), bowel issues (for example runners trots that they never had before), cramps but debilitating, generally not feeling like yourself and this can go on for up to 10 years.

It was the loss of sleep that seemed to be the biggest issue with athletes whether due from night sweats, anxious brain or just constantly waking up & then this crosses over into the day time of having no energy, motivation & just feeling drained.

THE AGEING PROCESS

As we age our VO2 Max gradually reduces therefore slower race times (thank goodness for age categories), so more recovery between training sessions is needed.  Another part of the ageing process is lean muscle starts to decrease so Strength & Conditioning should be an important part or addition to your training to help maintain muscle & prevent loss of bone density which is due to the loss of oestrogen.  An area in the podcast regarding bone density was that running alone was not enough even though it is a weight bearing sport as stress of running isn’t enough to support the bone stress to bone development turn over.  Adding plyometric power based exercises was advised for example body weight or weighted squats, lunges, pushups, Squat Jumps, Star Jumps, Box Jumps, skipping etc to keep the muscles stimulated therefore keeping the lean muscle mass development & increase the bone mineral density development, so adding these into your strength workout or pre run warm up workout is a good idea.  Another area coaches, PT’s & athletes can get wrong is thinking that as the athlete is older they need to slow down but that is a misconception as what they really need to be doing is ramping up the intensity with adequate recovery.

NUTRITION

Nutrition was another area they talked about on the podcast is that pre/menopausal women become more carbohydrate sensitive so need to reduce total intake of carbohydrate & getting most of this from vegetables & grains (think ones that come packed with micronutrients) – Quinoa, Spelt) rather than the simple carbohydrates we tend to use for racing. Increasing protein intake due to the fact that we are losing the stimulus for lean mass development.  Eating real food, a quote from the podcast I liked “we are not as smart as nature,” because we get a lot of co factors from real food for example, eating an orange: we tend to pee out a lot of the vitamin c from a tablet form compared to an orange because the orange has enzymes & co factors that allow us to absorb the vitamin c.  Think about what real food you could eat during a race, this would also help with reducing GI distress that is common from these high sugar processed gels/bars etc.  How do you fuel the fact that pre/menopausal women need a reduction in carbohydrate intake, how much should we be eating?  A general rule of thumb is 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Good Plant Based Fats (help increase good gut bacteria) but this is not for everyone so play around & find what works for you.  During post exercise the protein needs to go up to 30-40g when in menopause to help promote protein synthesis to stimulate muscle protein development and relatively quickly afterwards too.  Here is a post exercise smoothie you could try, (i tried it & it was yum)

  • Banana (can be a frozen banana)
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Cup of Non Fat Greek Yoghurt (non fat after training as want it to get into your system quickly)
  • Cinnamon
  • Protien Power scoop or Nut Butter
  • Almond Milk, Oat Milk, Soya Milk
  • an Expresso (I didn’t add this to mine as didn’t have any at the time) but it will make it like a latte smoothie.

NATURAL REMEDIES

Here are some natural remedies I have heard about & tried.  Fennel tablets helped with mood swings to start with but I now take Black Cohosh that help with hot flushes & moods.  But I have heard Soy is also good.

  • Black Cohosh
  • Sage
  • Soy Isoflavones
  • Red Clover
  • Fennel

HRT

If you need to be on HRT get on it & get off it as soon as you can due to some of the risks but if the symptoms of menopause are unbearable then speak to your GP about it as there are different doses available now.

FINAL THOUGHT

Not every woman has a bad time through menopause, some just sale through it but lets talk about it more for the women that are having a tough time because talking to other women who are dealing with menopause as well can make you realise that your are not going crazy & not alone & this feeling that you are not yourself is part of it & as I said at the start you may even all have a laugh together about the crazy things you have said or done due to it.  For the coaches & PT’s out there that work with women athletes of this age think about maybe adding a section to your profiling questionnaire asking them if they are going through the menopause & what, if any, actions they are taking to help with it.  Getting it out into the open at the start will make it easier to talk about it when training is going ahead, so if there is a really bad week & you can’t workout why, this could be the reason & will make it easier to have this discussion.

Before the end of last year I decided to set myself a challenge of completing the Fred Whitton Sportive in the Lake District, I wasn’t intending on doing it at the time of the event but cycling the route in July time with my other half.  It has some brutal 30% hills in it, one being Hardknott Pass.

For a while now I have been having problems with my left quad aching really badly when going up long inclines on the bike & I haven’t worked out if this is due to my right leg (with the osteoarthritis in hip) not working fully & the left having to do most the work or my left leg is just weak.  I see an osteopath regularly & together we think it could be weak in Strength Endurance so we are trying to train this.  Now along with the fact I teach 6 spin classes Monday to Friday by the time I come to do my training at the weekend my legs are knackered, I’m knackered & struggle to fit rest days in to help.  This has all been stressing me out & then the stress of thinking can I even train properly to get up a 30% hill as failure is not an option for me.

It was at the start of the new year when I was talking to a fellow coach discussing this stress I had put on myself & she said to me, ‘what is your goal?’  Well as I thought about this, my goal is just to climb a 30% hill, I’m not bothered about riding a 100 plus miles as done this loads of times, I just want to climb a 30% hill (I think).  How stupid I’ve been causing myself all this stress when I can just go up to the Lake District do a warm up & ride Hardknott Pass , take the stress away of the full sportive as this particular hill comes near to the end of the sportive, making it even more stressful.  It’s funny, as I am a triathlon coach & these are the things I ask my athletes right from the start, what is your goal? And yes this can change & often does throughout training & I guide them through this but when it came to myself, I fell to pieces.  So if you take anything from my little story remember to ask yourself ‘What is my goal?’ when you feel training is causing you stress, remember that goal can change, you are in charge of your goals, whether it starts off as a time goal but ends up as just finishing for fun, remember we are doing this for fun as a hobby, it shouldn’t be stressful!

I might even end up doing the whole sportive at some point after I’ve climbed this hill & I might not but what I’m not going to do, is stress about it!!

A follow up from my last post regarding Rest & Recovery. I have a good example using myself: 

I am also a Spinning/Indoor Cycling Instructor & I teach 6 classes Monday to Friday, add on top of this my training of 2 x Swims, 2 x Wall Climbing & Kettlebell Strength Training during the week, at the weekends I like to do a mountain bike ride or road bike ride (or both) so recovery is very hard to factor in but I have been taking one of the weekend days off.  This weekend I had to ride Saturday (which is my preferred day off) due to the weather being better. OMG! I noticed a huge difference today from not having a rest day before it.  My legs struggled, I’d start off the trail section full of power & then my legs would just give up half way & it would be like cycling through sticky mud.  Even the hill sections were a slog.  It was hard going! Whereas the weekends when I have took Saturday off & rode Sunday I have had so much more power & energy, I fly round the trails. 

So I re-inforce the importance of rest & recovery if you want to perform to your full potential.  For me it’s not the end of the world as I am not training for a race, it’s just for fun but for you athletes training for your races it is vital.

The importance of a good quality diet for endurance athletes makes the difference between functioning at your best or breaking down.

  • Have a plate full of varied vegetables, lean protein & good fats.
  • Avoid junk foods, processed foods including too many energy bars & gels.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol & limit your intake of caffeine to the mornings.

Another thing to think about, are you eating enough? Tiredness can be a symptom of not eating enough calories, if you are sleeping 8hrs & not overtraining & feel tired look at your diet.  Many endurance athletes fuel their workouts okay but then end up in a deficit in their total days calories & this can be down to a fear of putting weight on or just not knowing how many calories they should be eating a day & this deficit will affect your ability to train to your full potential.

Start the day with a good quality breakfast approximately a third or more of your daily calories, this will set you up for the day & avoid getting tired in the evenings & eating poorly or too much. 

These symptoms could be a sign of not eating enough calories:

  • You are not enjoying your workouts, feel difficult & lack quality
  • You get more hungry in the evenings
  • You are constantly thinking about food & crave sweet food
  • Feel tired even though getting enough sleep
  • Not recovering well

The timing of eating is important too, especially for athletes, as you don’t want to be running straight after you have eaten a big meal even if it was high quality.  Make sure you are having your nutrition approximately 1 to 3 hours before a training session & if you are prone to GI stress then limit the amount of fibre before a workout.  Then refuelling from 30 to 60 minutes after a workout of good quality carbohydrates & protein when your muscles are primed to accept nutrients.

Monitoring your macronutrients will help your performance better as well & this might need some trial & error to see what percentage of each macronutrient works best for you.  As a triathlete you might need more carbohydrate (the body’s primary energy source) but do play around as some triathlete’s find they perform better with a higher fat diet.  I would suggest starting with 40-65% of carbohydrates, 20-30% protein & 20-35% of good fats, play around until you find what ratio’s works best.

Things to look out for are:

  • Feeling low in energy before, during & after workouts
  • Frequently feeling fatigued
  • Not recovering well

An important nutrient we forget is enough hydration. Getting enough will help with digestion, absorption of nutrients, healthy skin & optimal brain power.  Getting enough hydration plus electrolytes is also important during training & racing. How much you should drink can vary between individuals so pay attention to your thirst & drink at first signs. 

Signs to look out for are:

  • Feeling fatigued
  • Dry lips & throat
  • Headaches & not being able to concentrate

Finally try to keep a healthy relationship with food as it can become obsessive & cause feelings of guilt.  Remember that eating should also be pleasurable & all foods have some nutritional benefits just some eaten less frequently than others, but mainly to not beat yourself up when you do eat that guilty pleasure.  Just as long as you prepare meals at home more than you eat out & limit to a minimum pre-packaged convenience foods, you will be on the right track.

hip-arthritis (2)

As you all know by now I have Osteoarthritis in my right hip, which I was actually diagnosed with when I was 39 (I am now 47).  I have had bad times with it but I have carried on doing all the things I enjoy regardless & have had amazing help from Bodyology & my Osteopath Julian Thorogood.

At the moment I am having a bad time!!  I have a flare up & the chronic pain is wearing me down mentally!  I can swim painfree, bike painfee & even climb painfree!  It’s walking & general day to day movement that is causing me the most pain & frustrations.  I am a self employed Triathlon Coach, Fitness Instructor/PT (teaching six spin classes a week) & a Beauty Therapist too so I can’t afford to take time out, I have to work to pay the bills, even though I feel like just curling up in a ball & not moving (but that would probably be just as painful).  I’ve just got to get through this flare up & things will get back to normal & I’ll be able to breathe again.

It’s hard for people who haven’t suffered with a chronic illness to understand, as we go about day to day dealing with it!  For me it’s not excrutiating pain, it’s like a constant toothache down my right leg & this is what wears me down mentally & the fact that it gives way on me when I’m walking about & makes it difficult if I need to rush about, carry heavy stuff & stops me sleeping at night, my sleep is bad as it is.

But I can Swim painfree, Bike painfree & Climb painfree, it could be worse! So even though I get upset when I have a flare up & wish I didn’t have this arthritic hip, it could be so much worse or have something much worse, so I do thank my lucky stars that I can still do all the things I love doing!

So If you see me hobbling around with a crease in the middle of my forehead, it is because I have a flare up at the moment, I’ll be back to  normal soon.  Thank you for reading.

In 2010 I decided to use my boyfriend at the time’s private health insurance, to find out what was going on with my hip as it had been collapsing every so often and painful sometimes, for some years.  I’m sitting in the waiting room & there is one other older man (approx 70’s) sitting there too.  I see the specialist come out & say to the old man ‘don’t worry we can sort you out’, which I thought that sounds positive.  When it was my turn to go in, the specialist looked at me, frowned, looked at the computer screen, looked at me again, and said ‘Jennie Jones’, ‘Yes’ I said, he looked at me again frowning.  Then the bad news came……….. ‘You have arthritis & have the hip of a 60 plus year old (I was 39).  He basically said there was nothing he could do for me and to just retire from the sport I loved so much (Triathlon) which I had already entered Ironman Austria for the following July 2011.  He said that it was either caused from torn cartilage which over time had developed into arthritis and the fact that there was not a lot of room within my hip joint either didn’t help. So the old guy can get sorted but nothing they can do for a 39 year old!

I was devastated!!!! I’m not one to cry but the tears came flooding out!  Triathlon was my world, I didn’t want to give it up!!!  The emotions I went through might resignate with anyone who has gone through injury but denial – anger – depression – acceptance – positiviness!!!  I went through all these emotions and it was a dark time for me but I finally did get to the positiviness stage and I did go on to do Ironman Austria in 14hrs 35, I did have to power walk most the run but I did it through shear determination, I wanted that tattoo and as soon as I was off the bike I knew it was now purely down to me to get to the finish line!  Nothing went right from the start of it though, I swam off course as couldn’t see the blue buoys in the blue lake, I took painkillers on the bike and they made me drowsy for the first half & that was hard going fighting that & the run was always going to be tough but I did it and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!! That finishing shoot was the best feeling!

Now afterwards, when everyone was talking about their times, I got a bit depressed as mine was a lot longer than theirs & I did lose my euphoria for a little while. I did have to have a word with myself that I have an arthritic hip, I can’t run or train properly to run.

Anyway I decided I was going to do another one, I wanted to see if I could get a better time, so I booked Challenge Roth for July 2012.  I did train run walk for this one – 3hrs being my longest run walk training down the canal which was tough going.  I did manage to knock an hour off my time at Roth but again things did go wrong, I had a swimmer clamp themselves round my waist on the swim, again I went tired on the bike everytime I went on the tri-bars & the run was just hell on earth!!!  I had runners trotts & didn’t find a portaloo for 20k!!!  And my right leg (bad side) just felt heavier & heavier! When I got to the point when I only had 5k to go and if I could of done it in my usual 5k time I’d of got my target time but I just couldn’t get my legs to go any faster, the impact when I tried to run was just so painful, & I’d dug so deep I thought I was going to end up in Australia!!!  But I made it to the finish & as I said earlier I did knock an hour off my last time to give me 13hrs 35 (I just wanted a time in the 12’s).  I didn’t get the same euphoric feeling as I got with my first but I don’t think you ever get that feeling again!

Not long after this race I started seeing a physio to see if they could help with my hip & this guy referred me to a Movement Specialist called Bodyology based at the time in Bracknell.  They took me on as a case study to get me painfree & it was the turning point for me.  They got me moving correctly, using the right muscles & they did get me 80-85% painfree (I don’t take any painkillers), it has taken a few years & I do have to keep up with an Osteopath who was part of the team, to put me straight again when I destroy myself but between them they have kept me cycling, swimming & I took up climbing & mountain biking after I retired from Ironman.   This was the reason I trained to become a Triathlon Coach, to enable me to still be apart of the sport I love so much, training other Triathletes to achieve their goals.

 

More blogs to come……. My Lands End to John O Groats Plus Climbing 3 Peaks Challenge

 

 

TIMEX WOMEN ONLY RACE – 400m Swim, 20k Bike, 5k Run

Before I knew it my first race was upon me at Dorney Lake. So the night before I made sure I had a good carbohydrate dinner and nothing that would upset my stomach, then another good carbohydrate breakfast in the morning, as this was all stuff I’d read. (Now I’d be doing an all round dinner & breakfast of good slow absorbing carbohydrates, protein and good fats). I’d also done myself a list of all the things I needed to take so as not to forget anything.

Off I went to Dorney Lake absolutely crapping myself!!! 😬

When I arrived, parking was quite a way from the transition and I hadn’t learnt how to push your bike with one hand by the seat and steer!! So with all my bags on my shoulders and trying to push my bike I nervously made my way to registration. Once registered I racked my bike and started setting up transition, working out where the stickers of race number went on helmet and bike, setting up order I wanted my bike & run shoes in – this is how it went – run shoes at the back (I had elastic laces put in them so I could get them on easy), bike shoes at the front (not told you the story of first time using clipless pedals, will add it in at the end**) with my socks in each shoe, race belt on top, helmet on bike with sunglasses. My plan was wetsuit off, race belt on, socks on, shoes on, helmet on, sunglasses then grab bike. Happy with my transition I went off to look at the course…..

OMG! How far did 400m look 😱 now I am really nervous! A few trips to the portaloos and it was time to put my wetsuit on. Got it on over my Trisuit and it was time to race. Well……. the swim was horrendous!!!! OMG it was just one mass fight, like being in a washing machine, thought I was going to drown!! But I managed to survive and actually came out middle of pack when I thought I was going to be last! I clambered out & started to get my wetsuit down to my waist while running to transition…….how dizzy did I feel, I was wobbling all over the place! Getting my wetsuit off was interesting but eventually got it off without falling over & followed my T1 race plan grabbed my bike & off I went.

The bike was great fun, laps round the lake that I really enjoyed & overtook a fair few atheletes also saw my mate Jo cheering me on. It was over to quick as now run time!

What’s happened to my legs?? They felt like they were taking off and leaving my body behind, weird feeling but they did eventually settle down. I got into a rhythm, then about 3/4 of the way I got bad stomach cramps, I couldn’t stop though I just had to control my breathing with big breaths and run through it, was hard but I did it and crossed the finish line!! I was absolutely knackered but elated! I survived my first triathlon! Whoop whoop.

THE BANANAMAN TRIATHLON – 800m Swim, 30k Bike, 7.5k Run

My first triathlon done and dusted I was now onto my second, slightly longer distance and a 2 lap swim (so you have to get out half way and dive back in). I got myself registered and transition all set up. I was loving the free t-shirts you got with these races 😀

So I had been using a nose clip when I swim as I found it really helped with the breathing and stopped water going up my nose. When we were getting into the lake for the swim I realised I’d forgotten mine, OMG panic set it, will I have enough time to run back to transition and get it, I can’t swim without it!!! I spoke to a marshal and he told me to go and get it. So I’m back in the water, nose clip on dreading another bum fight swim, also I’d used de-fogging spray on my goggles this time instead of spit, big mistake. The race started and off we went, well guess what? Yes my goggles steamed up really bad, I couldn’t see a thing, had to follow the woman in front and just hoped she was swimming straight, luckily she was. It was time to get out, run round and dive back in! Dive pah I had to jump back in as was worried I’d lose my nose clip! Another lap of not seeing a thing and it was time for the bike again, yay my favourite part.

Bike went well, into transition, bike racked, helmet off, bike shoes off and trainers on grabbed my hat and off on the run! Again I had the stomach cramps, was doubled over at one point but managed to keep going. Another race in the bag!

THE OLYMPIC DISTANCE RACE – 1.5k Swim, 40k Bike, 10k Run

My final race for the year was the Olympic distance race, the guy that gave me the incentive to have a go at triathlon was doing it as well. We are all bunched up in the queue to get into the lake, as he & I looked down, all around me guys feet, and there were my lovely painted toes in bright red, it was the standing joke around us 😆. This race was all men & women starting together, the Jaws music came on to get us in the mood, REALLY? and in the lake we all piled! A scary big mass start – off we went with the fear of the Great White Shark behind us!

1.5k looks a long way, almost all the way down the lake and back but I survived and was relieved to get onto the bike.

It was quite a windy bike ride this time and at some parts it nearly blew me off the bike and it was a lot of laps round the lake I thought I was going to forget how many I’d done, but my supporters kept me going and I was onto the run in no time.

It was hard going this time though, the longer distance run and the cramps again, I did struggle but I’m not one to ever give up and I made it to the finish line. Was so relieved and was lovely to be greeted by my friends at the end too.

With all my triathlon goals completed this year was I going to continue with this triathlon hobby? Next blog year 2

** So I decided to go clipless on my bike, I knew I needed to practise this so I had a go in-between a door frame clipping in and out and that seemed ok. So I got the bike outside and went to get on it and I just went sideways into my neighbours fence 😂 luckily no-one was around to see me! Phew! I practised riding around the close and thinking I’ve just got to remember to unclip well in advance of junctions and traffic lights and I should be ok 🤞🏻🙏🏻

So with the help of my friend and getting myself down to the pool 4 times a week I did get myself to swimming more than the distance of my first Triathlon before the dreaded go at Open Water Swimming!!!

The TRI2O Lake hadn’t been launched back then so I had to go to Liquid Leisure in Datchet which opening hours were really early 6.30am to 8.30am. So my friend Jo took me there and it was packed with wetsuit clad swimmers. Now I had my new wetsuit, an entry level Orca one. So using plastic bags on my feet (as read that it helped get the wetsuit on easier) I got into it and was ready to go……….

Weeeeeeeeeds!!!!!! No-one warned me about these pesky lake inhabitants!!!! Freaked out is an understatement but I waded through the horrible stuff and once past the start the water was clear for the whole of the 250m loop. I can’t remember now how many times I did that loop but I did enjoy it and became a regular from then on.

The next step was the big loop 750m, which went long ways up the lake and had more of the dreaded weeds!! I’d got use to the 250m loop and new it was safe but this 750m loop was freaking me out, so a friend of Jo’s worked down there and so I booked her to take me round the 750m loop and I am so glad I did as it really helped me and I achieved more than I thought I would!

THE BIKE

Meanwhile, I had this bike that a client had left me when she emigrated to Australia, so now I had to ride it! Now some of you might be too young to remember the old racing bikes and the fact that the gears were 2 little levers on the down tube – gears had moved to the brake area at this time but the bike she left me was an old one and hey beggers can’t be choosers and I just wanted to try this Triathlon thing out! I might end up back in the gym after it.

In my trainers as this bike had the pedals with the cages on and off I went, over towards Bradfield and yes I went up the 12% hill by Bradfield College and made it! But the disasters were about to come on this ride as I came back via Grovelands Road towards the Oxford Road (if you know Reading) and coming round the corner nearly crashed into a women pushing a pram, I hugged the lamp post instead! 😅 Phew! Then straight after I went smashing into the (Icream looking) bollards in centre of side road to where you turn into for B&M Stores and Kentucky now are on the Oxford Road, falling in a heap on the floor by this drivers door who was waiting to turn left😳. Couldn’t get my feet out the cages quick enough Ooooops! But I did learn a lot from this first ride! 🤪

So with my Open Water Swimming progressing and regulary getting out on the bike and building my running up to 5K, my first Triathlon was soon upon me………….

Next blog: The Races

So 3 triathlons were entered for 2006, I am 35 years of age and didn’t really have much idea what it was all about but new firstly I had to get myself to the pool!!!!

Off I went to my local pool (Central), I had goggles and a swim hat & I hadn’t been to a swimming pool since I was 21. I got to pool side and there was a couple of guys chatting at the end of one of the lanes. I got in the empty lane next to them & off I went………

What I thought was Freestyle was coughing and spluttering my way to the other end. When I got to the end, absolutely puffing, panting and feeling like I’d drowned, I noticed these boards at the end for the speed of the lane…..😱

OMG I was in the Olympic Lane -Central pool’s lanes went slow lane, medium lane, fast lane, Olympic lane for the super fast and then hard shoulder which was for those not fast enough for the slow lane. Realising my mistake I quickly ducked under the rope into the hard shoulder!!! 😬

Now I don’t have much memory of what I did in the hard shoulder as it is all a traumatic blur but afterwards one of the guys that had been standing at the end of the fast lane caught me outside and started chatting. I explained what I was up to and this is what he said “yeah we saw you coming in and we both said, oh she’s fit, we saw you getting into the Olympic Lane and we said oh she must be good, then when we saw you swim we both said oh maybe not!” How mortifying!!!! 😩

So anyone who knows me well, know I am very determined and never give up! So I went home and the first thing I did was Google (yes the internet had been invented by then) Freestyle Stroke and the first thing that grabbed my attention and made me think ahhhhh interesting! Was breathe out into the water!!! Well I never knew this, I was trying to breathe out and in when my head came out the water. Back when I was a kid learning to swim, technique was not taught to me, we just had to get across the distance and you got your badge for that distance which you proudly sewed onto our swimming costumes, which eventually got filled up with these badges awards!

Anyway another thing happened, that evening a friend of mine was coming round for a take away curry (something we did every so often to catch up) so I told him my mortifying swimming story & he came back with “Jennie, I can help you, I use to be a lifeguard.” Well what a stroke of luck! Maybe I will master this freestyle malarkey with my friends help after all…………🏊🏼‍♀️👍🏼

Next episode The Bike drama & my first Open Water Swim