Hello, 2019…Goodbye, 2018

Right, where to begin..?

I haven’t posted an update for around 3 months now and suffice it to say, a lot has happened! So first off, a Happy New Year to all!

Theย end of 2018 was very exciting for me, with lots going going onย with my training and in my personal life, too. The biggest news of all… I got engaged! I proposed to my amazing, beautiful, caring and supportive superwoman, Nish ๐Ÿ˜€ and happily, she said, YES!

Nish and I then jetted off for 2 weeks of engagement honey moon in, Bali. It was a truly special trip. Not just because it marked a significant landmark in our lives together, but also because of the memories we made, experiences we shared and sights we viewed together. It really was incredible.

Naturally, since our return we have longed to get back to warmer climes but despite our longings, we had a lovely Christmas and New Year spend with close family and friends. We actually hosted boxing day, which was our first major hosted event since moving into our new home earlier in the year. I am happy to report the day went without hitch and we enjoyed some great food and drink surrounded by many of those we love most. It was a great way to cap off a special year.

So, returning focus to my triathlon journey for a moment, there have been some significant developments on this front, too. I have now booked my first event, which will be the East Leake sprint triathlon, taking place on March 31st! I am super excited to get stuck in and finally be able to call myself a triathlete (if only at fledgling stage).

My swimming has improved at such a rate that I am genuinely a little taken a back. When I got into the pool for my first coaching session back in late September last year, I struggled to complete a single 25m length… I had no idea that only a few months later I would be capable of swimming 2,000m in the pool and would have achieved a 400m personal best of 9:09.

The first time I swam 400m in a single session (pausing after each length to catch my breath!) it took me nearly 20 minutes. I am delighted to have more than halved this time and with March 31st in my sights, I hope to reduce this time further to break the 9 minute mark come race day.

What else is new? Well I have treated myself to some Christmas presents… A new bike (Boardman SLR 8.9) and some new running shoes (On, Cloudflow).

I am actually yet to get out on the new bike, but hope to have some time over the next few weekends to do so. I did test out the new shoes though and felt great running in them. I am looking forward to putting in some hard miles.

My training has stepped up a pace too, I am now doing at least 2 brick sessions a week, along with 3 strength sessions and 2-3 swims. Usually I do the brick sessions in the gym (not least because it is so cold out!), A 10 – 15 mile stint on the Watt bike followed by a pacey 2.5 – 5 km on the treadmill. I am feeling really strong running straight off the bike which gives me real confidence. I am planning to increase the distances over the course of January. See how I get on!

urmm, what else? I think that pretty much brings things up to date.

2018 was a fantastic year for me filled with competitive personal bests, significant personal milestones, and most importantly I suppose, good fortune and good health.

I am really excited for another terrific year in 2019 – As ever supported by my loving, patient and soon to be, wife ๐Ÿ™‚

Wishing all a happy, successful and healthy, 2019.

Insta: @lukes_triing_times
Use the hashtag: #Lukestriingtimes

Winter Is Coming…

I didn’t make it to the Leicestershire 10k at the weekend which is pretty disappointing ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I need to get my car to the garage, so for now I am tied down to local training and events that I can get to without the car. Not the end of the world though, I have been very active the last few months and a more relaxed weekend didn’t do me any harm.

Some friends and I had planned a cycle on Saturday morning but must admit, we woke up to freezing temperatures and icy roads so we decided to knock it on the head… Maybe we should have toughed it out, but I jumped on the indoor bike for an hour instead which served the purpose without giving me frostbite! (and risking a fall).

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Now the winter weather is setting in I think there will be a lot more sessions on the indoor bike but I hope there will still be a few opportunities to get out on the roads before the new year.

To counter-balance the weather, I am heading off to Bali for a couple of weeks with my beautiful lady on Monday – I can’t wait!… although the forecast for Bali is patchy rain and thunderstorms the whole time we are there :/ which isn’t ideal, but better to be rained on in paradise than anywhere else I suppose!

My plan is to get a few runs and swims in whilst I am in Bali, should be a truly beautiful setting to train in, but the main agenda is relaxation and plenty of food ๐Ÿ™‚

I kicked off this week with a gym and swim session with my brother, Ben – sumo deadlifts and regular deadlifts, followed by a 600m swim. My swimming is better every time I get in the pool so still on track with to be in good shape come the start of my first experience ofย  triathlon in April ๐Ÿ˜€ Really looking forward to ramping up the training in the new year with the race series in sight.

Ben is also doing great with his swimming. Like me, Ben has never been a strong swimmer but is improving with every swim, too. Ben’s technique is much better than mine, very smooth hand entry and a smooth stroke rate, but the breathing and swim endurance is still a work in progress – It won’t be long before he has it nailed though, so we are both on track.

I am in London today for work, so got an early run in this morning at 5.30am which set me up for the day! I will probably get another 2 training sessions in this week before our holiday starts on Friday. Nish and I are in London again for the day and an overnight stay, then home to see family over the weekend before heading for, Bali ๐Ÿ˜€

If I don’t check back in before then, I will do so on the other side!

Until then, take care and happy training ๐Ÿ™‚

Insta: lukes_triiing_times

Personal Best…

It’s been a few weeks since I posted an update and I am pleased to report that during that time, my knee pain has subsided and isn’t causing me any more problems (hopefully for good!) and more importantly… I ran the Leicester Half Marathon on Sunday 14th and absolutely smashed my personal best by 7 minutes! Coming in at 1:30:33. I am absolutely delighted, but obviously a little sour I didn’t sneak in sub 1:30, but never-mind, ay – on to the next one ๐Ÿ™‚

The weather was the worst I have ever ran in, too, really miserable conditions. It rained (sometimes very heavily!) from start to finish with a cold wind to add to the misery. Perhaps that’s why I ran so fast! I was desperate to get back for a warm shower and my reward of pancakes from my favorite spot in Leicester, @eat.kai. Seriously, the thought of those pancakes made the hard miles worth while ๐Ÿ˜€

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You can see the pain in my face in this picture on the final sprint, earning every second of that personal best!

Those that have read my previous posts will know I have been working hard on cutting excess weight and body far over the past 14 weeks or so. Thankfully that stage of my trainingย program is finished for the time being and I have started the next 12 weeks plan to add some lean muscle. This means that I can eat a whole lot more, which makes me very happy! ๐Ÿ˜€

I am noticing the affect already in my energy levels, I feel much more energetic and my recovery time after each training session seems to be reduced, no doubt a result of the added calories and increased emphasis on stretching and foam rolling – I have been much more disciplined with this recently, but still room to improve…

The next event in my calendar is the Leicestershire 10k this coming weekend which I am looking forward to, but may have to miss due to car troubles… hopefully I can persuade someone to give me a lift… we will see!

In other news, my swimming is really improving and I look forward to every swim now ๐Ÿ™‚ I am still having my lesson each week on a Tuesday, my instructor comments each week on the speed of my progress – I am hoping with another couple of months of coaching I will be in a great place ahead of the start of the triathlon season in the new year.

Right, I am off for a cuppa and biscuit (or two) now I have the calories! I will update again soon.

Happy training!

Luke.

Insta: lukes_triing_times

12 Week Transformation…

I had planned my next blog in my head which was going to be; ‘Listen To Your Body’, as a result a particularly tough weekend of feeling drained – a topic I am going to return to later in this post – however, following my 12 week check-in with @James_Lambert_PT this morning I had to change things up as it really made me reflect on the past 12 weeks and how far I have come.

As per my usual check-in sessions, James took my measurements and calculated my body fat… (drum roll please)… I came in at, 7.4%. That’s right, 7.4%!

I was over the moon with my last check-in being being under 10% body fat, but getting even lower to sub 8% is incredible, I never thought it would be possible for me – the kicker? Now I get to eat even more food ๐Ÿ˜€ haha and I love food!

I am not planning to get any lower than this now, and I may even increase the body fat slightly as I increase my calories to support my training goals, but as a physical accomplishment I am delighted. Here is what I have achieved over the past 12 weeks:

  • Overall Weight Loss = – 9.9kg
  • Waist = – 10.5cm
  • Hip = – 7cm
  • Body Fat = – 11%
  • Body Fat Mass = – 10.2kg
  • Muscle Massย  = + 0.3kg

Thanks so much to @James_Lambert_PT – He is my best friend so I am bias of course, but the results speak for themselves! Fantastic PT and even better friend, love ya buddy ๐Ÿ˜‰

What a difference 12 weeks can make with proper guidance and some serious discipline…

So there it is, that’s the end of ‘patting myself on the back’!

Now back to my original topic… Listen to your body.

I woke up on Saturday feeling really tired, physically drained and just generally a bit under the weather. However I had a session booked in with James in the morning and we had planned to catch up over lunch after training, so I dragged myself out of bed and over to the gym.

Once I was up and training I felt OK, but when I got home I was completely exhausted and the rest of my day was a write off ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I should have listened to my body! I had over trained that week and my body was telling me.

It’s super important to pay attention to what your body is telling you, a lesson that I am starting to learn. Not least because my girlfriend (Nish) is constantly telling me to slow down, I should listen to her too…

I guess it is easy to get carried away (‘obsessed’ is possibly a better word…) when you have found a passion for training again and can see the results of all your hard work when you look in the mirror… however, rest is just as important as the training! I have promised myself (and my girlfriend) that I will listen to my body and schedule in some rest days, which I am sure will only improve my performance on my training days.

As a result, I didn’t train on Sunday and instead spent the day eating ๐Ÿ˜€ and did some active recovery by going for the first Autumn walk of the year with Nish, My brother, Ben and his girlfriend, Charlotte – Lovely it was too.

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The rest of my week has been great, some really good sessions in the pool, a couple of weight sessions and a stint on the stationary bike. Overall, a great week of training so far and I am feeling lifted following today’s check-in – Looking forward to an enjoyable weekend, which will include some time for rest!

I will check back in again soon, happy training!.. and resting ๐Ÿ˜‰

Luke.

Insta: lukes_triing_times

Hard Work Pays Off…

Today my work has brought me back in to London, so I am writing this post whilst sitting waiting for my train back to Leicester. It’s given me some time to reflect on my training progress so far…

Before heading to London I had my 5th swimming lesson since starting on my triathlon journey. As I have said repeatedly in my updates so far, swimming is the biggest challenge and by far the weakest of the 3 disciplines for me. Over the weekend, I swam on both Saturday and Sunday – I finally felt like I was getting on top of my breathing, so I was really looking forward to my swimming lesson today… I am pleased to report that my excitement was well placed! Everything just ‘clicked’. I was on top of my breathing and felt super comfortable in the water, importantly I was also noticeably much less out of breath at the end of each length. A real step forward!

I took this celebratory selfie in recognition of my small victory ๐Ÿ˜€

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A real contrast from this selfie I took a few weeks back after an earlier swimming session..IMG_3344[1]

If pictures say a thousand words, then combined these two could write Novella of triumph over struggle ๐Ÿ˜€

I have planned another swim in the morning, so will be hoping to keep this momentum going.

I spoke to a friend (friend of a friend really, but he is a great guy!) who competes in triathlon and has recently completed his second Ironman – in a sub 12 hour time too I might add – and he gave me some tips, including investing in a pull buoy which I now have.

I think that one piece of advice alone has been the catalyst to jumping me forward in my swimming progress as it has allowed me to isolate my stroke technique and focus on my breathing – My swim instructor gave me some exercises to practice using the buoy to help make the most of my reach (I am 6.4″ so should have a real advantage in the swim if I make the reach work for me!) which I am going to build into my future swim sessions.

I am delighted with my progress in such a short time. All of a sudden, my goal seems attainable and swimming could actually turn from something I fear to something I genuinely enjoy.

Hard work is really paying off ๐Ÿ˜€

Luke.

insta: lukes_triing_times
#LTT

 

Winning the First Hour…

Today’s update comes all the way from the (not so) sunny, Edinburgh! Beautiful city, but currently bracing for strong winds and a heavy downpour, but compared to the devastating storms effecting other areas of the world right now, I certainly shouldn’t complain. I come to Edinburgh around once a month for work and always enjoy my stay ๐Ÿ™‚ I managed to snap this picture of Edinburgh Castle as a walked between meetings…

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Anyways….back to the training… I attempted a run on last Friday morning, with mixed success – I took it steady but still ran a reasonable pace. I felt confident that my knee pain was something I could put behind me… until I woke up Saturday morning ๐Ÿ˜ฆ the pain was back, and possibly slightly worse… so running is now completely out of my training schedule for the time being. The next time I run will be the Half Marathon, October 14th… here’s hoping the knee recovers in time and holds up for the race.

The rest of the weekends training was great though, I got out and did 20 miles on the bike first thing Saturday which was really enjoyable – just me, my bike and the road. Great head-space time which set me up well for the day. I heard a good quote recently (I can’t remember the source)…

“if you win the first hour of the day, you win the day”

… I think this is a great mantra. If your day starts with discipline, positiveness and a little adversity to overcome in the form of a hard work out, I think that sets in motion all of the momentum you need for a great day. I am a better person when I win that first hour of the day than I am when I don’t. No doubt.

Sunday was also a day that I won. I met up with my brother (Ben) for a swim. Ben is also thinking about setting his sights on triathlon, which is awesome! It would be great to train and accomplish this goal together. We have always trained together throughout our lives in various forms from weight training, to kickboxing & MMA – Ben was even in my corner when I stepped into the cage for an amateur K1 kickboxing bout back in February this year. I love these pictures as you can see Ben walking to the ring with me, and then clinging to the cage between my opponent and I, feeling every blow and throwing every strike. Great to have him there that day, and would be a privilege to compete triathlon with him too!

The rest of this week has been good so far too, lots of training – mostly circuits, rowing machine and mobility work.

I also accomplished a personal milestone in the pool – a 400m swim. I know it doesn’t sound much, but to me it is the first big step on the road to completing my first Triathlon as it is the distance of the swim to start the sprint event. I had to stop between each length to catch my breath, which isn’t ideal. But it is a start ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomorrow I have an active morning planned with my friend Sam (insta – @samevans30). We are meeting at 7am for a swim, then refueling and heading out on the bikes. The weather is set to be very windy and wet, so likely to be my toughest ride yet! Despite that, I am really looking forward to another great weekend of training. But also, some time with the family.

Hope you all have a great weekend too, catch you on the other side ๐Ÿ™‚

Luke.

insta: @lukes_triing_times
#LTT

Head Winds and Hill Climbs…

I had my 8 week check in with @James_Lambert_PT this morning and I am delighted to say I have achieved a personal training milestone. A body fat percentage of 9.6% ๐Ÿ˜€ I was aiming for 10%, so super pleased with 9.6 – I am also super pleased that I can start to take myself out of a calorie deficit now and start upping my daily calories to give me more energy for my increasing triathlon cardio work.

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I am still not running at the moment as my knee pain is still flaring up from time to time, which is really frustrating me, I love running! The Leicester Half is getting closer, and it is looking unlikely that I will be able to get much running in before the race if my knee is going to be OK on the day. I still want a PB on that run, so would rather my knee was 100% which means the running lay off will continue this week ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

James has shifted my training slightly now to focus on strengthening my core and supporting leg muscles which should help in all 3 triathlon disciplines, and hopefully will help take pressure of my knee when I do get back to running. My hip-flexers have always been a weakness, so one of the exercises we did today was seated leg raises – Sit flat on the floor with a straight back (use your arms to lean on for support if you need to, I did!) then raise each leg in turn straight off the floor and hold for a few seconds. If like me, you need to increase strength and stability of the hip-flexers this is a great exercise to build in to your workouts, or tag on to your stretching routine.

Despite not being able to run, I did mange to swim Saturday morning, it felt like I had made more improvements but it was still a bit of a struggle. I have my 4th swimming lesson this afternoon, and feeling like I am making some steady progress with my breathing now, which is really great! Massive improvements from 4 weeks ago.

I also got out on the bike on Sunday morning. I met up with some friends and put in a 33 mile stint through the lovely lanes of Leicestershire. There seemed to be a constant headwind no matter which way we faced and what felt like hill climb after hill climb! But it was a good solid ride with a few nice sprint sections to test the legs. Overall, a solid weekend of training coupled with a nice day out in London with friends and a naughty pancake brunch date with my beautiful lady ๐Ÿ™‚

Apart from my knee, training is good and life is good ๐Ÿ™‚ Long may it continue!

Luke.

Insta: lukes_triing_times

Running Pains…

So my swimming is getting better, but I am still finding it difficult to master the breathing. Any tips you guys have, throw them at me ๐Ÿ˜€ any and all welcome!

My running (which is by far my strongest of the 3 disciplines) has taken a bit of a hit this week, which is super frustrating ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I am desperate to get out for a run, but since my 10k last weekend I have been suffering with knee pain in my right knee :/ so James (james_lambert_pt) has advised me not to run for the time being, and make my cardio up on the rowing machine, swimming, or bike. So, I am being good and taking his advice.

The Leicester Half is coming up in a little over 4 weeks, so resting the knee seems sensible as I know my CV fitness is already where it needs to be – again, anyone out there who suffers from knee pain after running, let me know if you have any hints or tips for avoiding it in the future – I run in Adidas Ultra Boost, maybe a new running trainer would help?

Anyways, I took yesterday as a complete rest day as I was feeling a bit depleted. I got the foam rollers out and had a good stretch. I have never known pain like it! If you know, then you know! haha, and I suspect any runners /ย triathletesย reading this will know that pain for sure!

I have spent years neglecting my stretching and not taking care of my muscles – I am paying the price now, but hopefully nothing getting disciplined with post training care can’t fix… I suspect my years of neglect have contributed to my knee pain. Hopefully keeping up the stretching and rolling will help that too.

I am back in the gym tonight for some weight training and a cardio blast on the rower, then swimming in the morning and out on the bike Sunday – but hopefully I can get to running soon…

Luke.

Insta: lukes_triing_times

The Journey Begins…

Right, where to begin? At the start I suppose!

I have always been ‘sporty’ and functionally athletic, I think that is a good way to describe it. I am not blessed with supernatural athletic ability, nor am I hindered by any distinct lack of ability. Simply put, I am your average active participant and gym goer… well, at least, I was…

Back in 2015 I upped sticks from Leicester where I was born and raised, attracted by the bright lights of the big city, I arrived in London. At that time, I was around 80-85kg, and trained regularly in the gym, kickboxing and casually running and cycling at my leisure. When I got to London, all of that stopped… and what began was a 2 year descent into gluttony and athletic apathy.

Before I knew it, my weight had reached 105kg. I was ‘socially’ smoking, drinking heavily and massively overeating. On top of that, I developed a Lipoma (a benign fatty tumor) on my cheek and jaw. Retrospectively, I think it’s growth was massively expedited by my excessive consumption… let’s just say, physically (and psychologically) I was at an all time low. I asked my girlfriend to take this picture at the time I decided to make a change… Yeah… not my best look.

September 2016

September 2016

My transformation back to health didn’t start immediately, and it didn’t happen without a few speed bumps along the way… but I had reached an important turning point and knew it was time to make a change. I finally got myself to a doctor (something my girlfriend, family and friends had been near constantly encouraging me to do for the 12-18 months preceding). Several scans and appointments later, I was booked in to have the Lipoma removed. Stage 1 complete.

Stage 2 of my transformation began somewhat spontaneously. I had just got back from a week long holiday in Barcelona. I had indulged on that trip, as you might expect, with alcohol, lots of tapas (I am only human) and all of the trappings that go along with a week in a beautiful European city. It’s fair to say, when we got back I was not any lighter or healthier than when I left. None the less, I woke up the next day and decided I was going for a run.

So I ran… and ran… and ran some more – before I knew it I had ran 13 miles. Round and round Clapham Common. I don’t know how many laps I did, I do know that the battery was about to die on my phone which was tracking my run, so I stopped. I had ran a half marathon… in 1 hour 58 mins (I now know this was no mean feat! a good time by mostย  standards). When I woke up the next morning, I realised I had made a mistake… possibly phasing in the miles may have been a smarter move! I limped around for about 2 weeks solid after that.

That day I also decided that for the indefinite future I would not drink alcohol, I would stop smoking and I would sign up to compete in a half marathon. Which I am pleased to say, I did! In October 2017, 6 months later, I completed my first official half marathon (The Leicester Half) in a time of 1 hour 43 mins. A proud, proud day ๐Ÿ™‚

I have since completed my second race, the Berlin Half Marathon in April of this year, achieving a time of 1 hour 37 mins. An equally proud day.

Since then I have been working hard with my best friend (and great personal trainer, James Lambert – insta: @james_lambert_pt – giveย him a follow!) to increase my strength, muscular endurance and to reduce my body fat. This is me now!

update photo August 2018

19th August 2018

Which brings us up to date.

On to my next challenge, which is where I hope you will join me – 4 weeks ago, I decided that I want to become a Triathlete. At least, I want to compete in Triathlon races, and come out the other side in one piece… the ultimate goal; Iron-man… but that can wait. For now I am targeting my first sprint triathlon in April 2019.

In this blog series I am going to share my progress as I attempt to reach my goal – No doubt there will be some serious challenges along the way – which I hope that anyone out there thinking about taking on the same journey towards triathlon can use as inspiration to keep on going! I won’t quit, and I hope that will help you to keep on going too.

I hope this can also become a platform to share your own success stories and challenges. I want to create a community of runners, swimmers, cyclists and triathletes of any level to share ideas, advice and inspiration – so please get involved and share as much as you feel comfortable to.

So welcome, and thanks for joining me ๐Ÿ™‚

The journey begins…

First challenge… learning to swim competitively ๐Ÿ˜ Since setting my sights on triathlon 4 weeks ago I have had 3 swimming lessons, and already I am getting more comfortable in the water. But so far, I am having to pause after each length to catch my breath… lot’s of work needed!

On that note, I am heading to the pool! I will touch back in with you all again soon and let you know how I am progressing… in the meantime, follow me on instagram for daily updates (@lukes_triing_times) and get in touch to let me know you are out there and on this journey too!

Thanks for joining me in these ‘tri-ing times’ – I look forward to sharing this experience with you! ๐Ÿ™‚

Insta: @lukes_triing_times
Use the hashtag: #LTT