Lucky to do the job I do…

Being a PT isn’t just about trying to help someone lose weight or put on muscle, sometimes you are challenged in other ways. I am fortunate to have been asked by a couple of clients who have Parkinson’s if I can help them improve/manage their symptoms. Its a disease that is close to my heart as a family member also has it.

It’s not something I take lightly and anyone who knows me knows that I research everything I can sometimes to the point of being obsessed about it, always to make sure I am offering my clients the most recent and up to date guidance I can , utilising experience and trial and error to find what tools and exercises can benefit a client managing these symptoms.

I have been working with one of these clients for a while now, she is totally inspiring and we have been working lots on , Strength, Co-Ordination, Balance, Motor Skills, Gait, and much more. Everything I have challenged her with she has tried and it’s great when you receive a testimonial like this only I feel it should be me writing the testimonial for her as even on bad days she still gets in the gym and gets it done …

“For over 2 years I have been a participant in a Parkinson’s Disease research project. For the same period I have been following Matt’s personalised training sessions twice a week. I’m thrilled to report that the final computer analysis shows that my walking has improved in almost every aspect into the borderline/normal range. I was also able to participate in the ‘pull test’ category for the first time, which means I now have some ability to recover my balance and avoid a potential fall. I couldn’t have completed the exercise programme without medication, but I am certain that the self help tools provided by Matt are what provided these measurable results. I can’t thank him enough. ”

Too know more about this disease and what we can do to try and raise awareness and funds for research please visit the Parkinson’s UK website https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/ 

Raising money for Parkinson’s in the Prudential Ride 100 

 

Meet The Smash HiiT Spartans !

On a chilly weekend in October, 12 members of my lunchtime Smash HiiT Bootcamp class took on the challenge of a lifetime, ok Im overcooking it a little bit and apart from one sprained ankle we all got through it in one piece but it was a challenge and immense fun at the same time. This particular Obstacle Race consisted of 15km of muddy, boggy running and approximately 25 obstacles of varying difficulty.

Have a look here at the video of the day, the end is worth watching and please note that is a sound effect expertly edited into my toilet exit, defo aint real, I promise !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calories First!

 

When training people and offering nutritional advice they can normally be split into two camps. Those that want to track calories and those that don’t!

For both camps I educate on which foods to eat, which to reduce, portion control, lists of good food options that are nutrient dense to choose from, lifestyle changes to help them perform as optimally as possible as well as structuring the right training programme to compliment all these aspects.

A lot of the time ‘mindful eating’ and not tracking calories fails. This is due to the person not understanding portion control well enough, not prepared to be accountable for what they eat, excuses range from not having the time to add the food to MyFitnessPal (even though there is always time to check social media!) to a genuine dislike of using an App to record data.

A few rules to go by (Via @Cartergood) if not tracking Calories:

  • Its ok to have an ‘unhealthy’ meal just try not to miss a healthy meal twice
  • Limit yourself to one plate of food if you are at a party or buffet
  • When in doubt eat lean protein and veggies
  • Stick to 3-4 bigger meals, and if you do snack, opt for fruit or protein

I totally understand if people do not want to track calories to start off with, but if results are not forthcoming its time to focus in and start tracking, at least for 2-3 weeks to see just how much or little one is consuming.

Those that do track generally use MyFitnessPal , there are others out there that will work out your calories and they will mostly all come back with different figures. Therefore it is only a guide, you need to be the detective, take ownership and find out roughly where your maintenance calories are.

After this it doesn’t need to be difficult, setting a deficit if you want to lose weight and using those calories as your target, after that set your protein, this can be anywhere from 1.5-2g/kg/day. Then you have the remainder of calories from Carbs or Fat, for me personally I ask what the client prefers and set that one higher, it doesn’t really matter as long as Protein is met and you are still in a calorie deficit. I also wouldn’t lose any sleep if you are 10-20g either side of your targets as long as Calories are in check.

Once you get all this in check and understand the fundamentals more then you can stop counting calories, lets be honest nobody wants to be inputting into MyFitnessPal for the rest of their lives, It is just a tool to help with your awareness of energy in/energy out, macronutrients and nutritional info of food.

In a Nutshell

  • Hit Calories first (below maintenance)
  • then Protein
  • with the remainder coming from 80 % whole, nutrient dense foods
  • Lift Weights!

Childhood Obesity – more than just diet and exercise?

Overweight kids: tackling childhood obesity is about more than just diet and exercise

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David Morley, Sheffield Hallam University

A recent World Health Organisation report revealed that the number of obese children and adolescents – aged five to 19 years – worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades.

Worryingly, it also predicts that “obese” is likely to become the new norm. The report stated that:

If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022.

The number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32m globally in 1990 to 41m in 2016. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries.

And in the UK, recent research shows that 9% of four and five year-olds are now classed as obese – with the proportion rising to 20% for 10 to 11-year-olds.

Efforts to reverse this growing trend have mainly focused on two aspects of a child’s life: diet and physical activity. The aim has been to try and regulate a child’s dietary habits by decreasing calorific intake. This is most commonly through the reduction in sugar, while at the same time boosting the amount of exercise children get.

But what is often ignored is a child’s ability to move effectively. It is one thing to say that a child should be more physically active, but quite another for a child to develop the competence and confidence required to engage in physical activity.

Changing lifestyles

Most adults tend to think this is something that will happen naturally as part of child’s development – through play and sports participation. But because of the way the world has changed over recent decades – think less time for running around outside and more time inside looking at screens – opportunities for children to move are in decline.

In this way, a child’s “play radius” – the distance a child travels from their home to play – has shrunk by 90% in a single generation.

A decrease in walking and an increase in transport by car, train or bus also limits children’s opportunities to play. Combine this with the lack of specialist physical education teachers in primary schools and the result is children’s movement development can no longer be left to chance.

The way children play has changed.
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Effective movement for children in the early stages of development, (roughly four to seven years of age) can be assessed by their ability to perform fundamental movement skills. This includes how they run, catch, throw and balance. These skills are often viewed as the building blocks for participation in sport and physical activity. And there is growing evidence that supports the positive relationship between “movement competence” and physical activity in early childhood – showing the importance of appropriate movement skills for children.

Evidence suggests that the “movement competence” of four to seven year-olds, in the UK, is average or below average in relation to their peers in most other countries, which, alongside childhood obesity levels, clearly indicates the UK’s poor standing in children’s health.

Getting children moving

But one glimmer of hope comes from a new movement assessment app called Start to Move. The app is based on an assessment tool that enables primary school teachers – who are well placed to spot these skills – to measure, record and track the fundamental movement skills of children aged four to seven years old. And this data can then be used to help policymakers and practitioners alike recognise what support is needed to ensure all children have appropriate movement skills.

Let’s get kids moving again.
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This is important because although findings from previous research studies are useful in providing a snapshot of children’s “movement competence” only a very small number of children have been measured. So a more widespread understanding of children’s movement is a positive next step – particularly as we stand, globally, on the brink of a situation where “obese” will be more common than “underweight”.

The ConversationIt is crucial then that every solution available is looked into to reverse this worrying trend, because it is clear that current methods are falling short in many places. But ultimately this is about more than just the figures and obesity rates, this is about making sure the next generation of adults are suitably prepared for a sustainable active lifestyle.

David Morley, Professor of Youth Sport and physical activity, Sheffield Hallam University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints: I am an IRONMAN!

What a journey it has been. 3 years ago I set myself a 3 year plan, year 1 was to do as many different challenges as I could, year 2 was to do my first Half Ironman with the final year being to complete my first Ironman and now that journey is over.

 

Rewind 1 week and I seriously thought the final part of the puzzle was not going to happen. On the Wednesday before Ironman UK I was sat in a Orthopaedic Consultants office being told the injury I thought I had (fat pad irritation) was in fact possibly a ‘type’ of Osgood Schlatters which is pain and inflammation possibly micro tears just below the knee on the bony bit at the top of the shin. This went some way in explaining why that morning and the previous week I could only run 2 miles before the pain got too much and I had to walk home.

So, there I was sat in the chair being told rest is the best option and an MRI needed. I explained the reasons behind why I was doing it, the charity Sporting Footprints I had raised so much money for and the 9 months of training I had put into it. I then told him that no matter what he said I was going to attempt the Ironman anyway and deal with the consequences afterwards. We agreed a cortisone shot may help although as he thought the pain may be deeper in the knee joint and I was only having it around the ‘bony bit’ it may not work but it was at the point my last resort. One great thing to come out of the examination was the consultant told me he was waiving his fee for me and to donate it to my charity so instead of coming out of there fed up I was instead blown away by a random act of kindness.

For the next few days my knee was very painful and my head was full of doubt whether the steroid shot would work but I drove up to Bolton on the Friday with my wife and the kids flying up to Manchester on the Saturday morning to meet me.

FRIDAY

With the knee now very sore I drove up with my fellow Ironman wannabee Steve and his family and we arrived at the Macron stadium to register, we also had a look around the merchandise shop. I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything just incase I jinxed it and didn’t complete it plus they didn’t accept returns and refunds!

That afternoon we planned to head to Pennington Flash for a recce of the swim, they allow you to do a short practice swim of about 400m just so you get an idea of what it’s like to swim in there. On this particular day the wind was howling and the Flash looked like the sea, very choppy and with its mud like colour didn’t look very appealing at all.

We sat there looking out at that lake taking in the huge distance we had to swim on the Sunday, I had never swam that far before in open water and by then I had talked myself out of swimming that day also, Steve however still wanted to go in. As I started to meander (sneak off) back to the van to head off I bumped into my coach, talk about imperfect timing, I then felt like a naughty schoolboy as I joked I was heading back to the van to get my wetsuit and do a practice swim only for Steve to drop me in it and tell him I was in fact bailing! Anyway, some encouragement from Chris (Coach) along the lines of ‘just get in and ***ing swim mate’ meant I was now reluctantly putting my wetsuit on much to the howls of laughter from everyone else.

The practice swim was as expected very choppy and you couldn’t see anything but it was done. As I got out Chris asked how it went. I said ‘I actually quite enjoyed it, I’m glad I went in’. ‘You’re welcome’ was his reply.

 

SATURDAY

Today it’s all about logistics and dropping your bags and bike off at transition ready for the following day. Ironman UK has split transitions which can be a bit of a pain logistically. Lots of checking and rechecking you have the right stuff in the right bags, you get given the following:

WHITE BAG: This is where you put clothes and wetsuit in on the morning of the race

BLUE BAG: This is where you put everything you need for the bike leg of the race

RED BAG: This one is where you put all your running stuff in

PERSONAL NEEDS BAG: you request these bags and in these you have one for the bike and one for the run, in mine I had paracetamol, bagels, KT tape and spare inner tube for bike.

I then drove to the lake where I dropped off my bike and bike bag, then drove to the Macron Stadium to drop off my run bag, then met up with my friends for late lunch, yeah cheeky Nandos.

That afternoon I met up with my family for the first time that weekend before heading back to some friends, Cat and Andy (and multiple Ironman finishers) house where I was staying over the night before the event and some last-minute pasta demolishing. Cat was also taking part so it was good being able to ask them what to expect. Off to bed at 9pm where I lay there for a few hours trying to sleep, still wasn’t nervous at this stage, just wanted to lie down and rest.

 

SUNDAY – IRONMAN DAY

 

3 AM ALARM! This is it, this is the day all those months of hard work and sacrifice come to fruition, those missed outings with friends, those sober nights out/in, the 4 hour Wattbike sessions at 6 in the morning on a Sunday back in the winter watching the Rocky films whilst pedalling away sweating over the dog, the injuries, physio and osteo appointments, sports massages, stresses on family life, getting sponsorship and more. Today is the day.

After a breakfast of Porridge, Pitta bread with peanut butter we were ready to go. Andy drove both Cat and I to Pennington Flash where we arrived just before 5 am, here I met up with the Mrs, Steve and another mate Marc and bumped into another friend Darren briefly, some nervous chatter and we all set off to the start .

SWIM 2.4 MILES

This swim was a rolling start so you seed yourself in the line at roughly the time you are expecting to finish. I put myself in 1hr 30 mins as I would be happy to achieve this, just before 6am the national anthem is played and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and you look around at the thousands of other triathletes gathered. I was strangely totally calm, the swim doesn’t bother me like it used to and I now quite look forward to it but I was surprised at how relaxed I felt.

 

 Me and Steve before the swim.

 

The swim is 2 laps, you get out of the water after 1 lap run over a timing mat then jump back in again for lap 2. Lap 1 was pretty uneventful, I stuck out wide so had lots of clear water in front of me and I finished it in 41 minutes, lap 2 was different, me and another guy were swimming quite close to each other and he was zig zagging all over the place, just as I turned my head to get a mouth full of air I was on the receiving end of an elbow to the face, luckily my goggles stayed on. I shook it off and carried on but my second lap was about 4 minutes slower. I headed to transition where I proceeded to take about 15 minutes to get changed, I do like to take my time, if they had a kettle in there I would have probably made myself a cup of tea.

I decided on a full change into bike gear as I was after comfort over speed for the 112 mile bike route, as I jumped on the bike all I kept thinking was would the knee hold, how painful would it get and if it would get that bad that I wouldn’t even get to the run. I set off out of transition with a quick shout out to Sian that I would see her later.

Total Swim time 1:27 – 3 mins quicker than I planned.

BIKE 112 MILES

The bike route of Ironman UK has 2 infamous hills, one is called Sheephouse Lane, the other is called Hunters Hill and you have to do them both twice as the course is 2 loops. As I joined the start of the first loop after riding from transition you head uphill through Babylon Lane (otherwise known as COLT Alley) this later in the day is unreal, it is lined with spectators to a point where you can only cycle one at a time and they really cheer you through here, you feel like you are in the Tour De France.

 

  The crowds on Babylon Lane

 

Before the race I knew I wanted to finish the bike in 7 hours 30 mins roughly as this would mean a steady average on the bike of about 15mph. I settled into a rhythm and I made sure I said thank you to the supporters as I rode past, smiling and waving as much as possible as I knew it was going to be a long day so keeping spirits up was important.

I reached Sheephouse Lane for the first loop and this was pretty easy as I was still fresh, the support up here is great and when you reach the top there are guys dressed as wrestlers with music blaring cheering you on, at the top randomly was some guy with a lucky pink dildo, apparently this makes an appearance on the bike course every year, he shouted out ‘touch my dildo!’ whilst waving it in my face, I don’t know why but I touched it, only afterwards I started to wonder where it had been.

At 40 miles I reached Leyland and I knew my family were all there waiting and I saw them in the distance. I slowed, saw the kids jumping up and down shouted all was ok then carried on, after seeing them I must have got some dust in my eye as my vision become watery for about a mile, then I turned the corner to see a man and woman  triathletes crashed on the road, she could hardly move, he had blood all over his face a couple of us stopped to help but nobody knew the number to call so I rode on to get the attention of a marshall to come back and help, I hope they were ok, she looked in a bad way.

I was told at some point in the race you will reach your ‘dark place’ until 40 miles my knee had been ok, this was due to the fact that I was putting most of the power through my other leg to preserve the dodgy knee, however when I eventually got over Hunters Hill with some spine tingling support I started to notice that all this uneven power displacement was in fact causing some issues with my good knee, it felt like ITB related as it was outside of the knee where the pain was, very sharp and localised, at around 60 miles I then went into my ‘dark place’, my pace slowed right down I went in on myself not making eye contact with supporters, started doubting myself, thinking what’s the point, if my knees hurt I ‘ll never be able to run a marathon it wasn’t fun and every pedal stroke seemed an effort.

This went on for about 20 miles until Cat caught up with me, she asked me how I was and I moaned about my knee (again) and asked her if I would have enough time to walk the run if I hit T2 at about 4pm, she point blank replied ‘probably not, no!’

That was it. She flicked a switch in me. I then said to myself ‘right that’s it, I’m not coming back next year to do this again, I need to get it done now’. My intention then was to get to my Personal Needs bag as quick as I could take 2 paracetamols and get to T2 and have as much time as possible to walk/shuffle/crawl the run.

I got on the drops of my bike, gritted my teeth and repeated to myself ‘You’re not coming back next year!’

** Funnily enough after speaking with Cat at the end she had actually misheard me she thought I had asked if I could walk the rest of the bike course and still finish in time, if she had heard me right she would have probably said yes you have enough time and I would have carried on moping, so thanks Cat. **

I reached the Personal Needs bag and took my paracetamol, from there I had to hit Hunters Hill for the last time at about 96 miles, second time round this was hard work, stood up the whole way slowly grinding my way up, support up here was thinning out now but still fantastic.

At 108 miles I felt spent, one more climb up Babylon Lane where I saw a mate who told me my family were waiting at the top, this gave me extra motivation to get to the summit, once there I stopped rode over to the family for hugs and encouragement, that dam dust again, by this point I was quite emotional so told Sian ‘Whatever happens do not let me quit!’ I kept thinking about all the money I had raised and didn’t want to let people down.

Finally, I reached T2 after 7 hours 29 mins, 1 minute quicker than I had aimed for.

RUN 26.2 MILES

This is where I hadn’t a clue what was going to happen. I had only ever ran 15 miles once in my life before and only ran about 4 half marathon distances, the previous week I managed 2 miles then had to walk home.

I took 10 minutes in transition getting my make up on, I mean, getting changed then headed out after applying a bit of voltarol to the knee, what an uplifting moment to see my mates, Neil, Joelle, Ray & Imo and kids straight away, then the small matter of a hill to run up. I had already made up my mind to walk up any hills and decided to try and shuffle-run on the flats so as not to flex and extend my knee too much to see if it helped.

The run starts with a 7 mile route into Bolton, followed by 3 x 10k loops in Bolton Town Centre. On the 7 mile run I got chatting to a few other runners which passed the time, before I knew it I was in the first loop and I had no knee pain, the pain on the right knee from the bike had stopped and the left knee had held up most of the day so the cortisone shot must have done something. I started to feel confident that even if the pain came I had enough time to finish. It was only at this point did I start to think I might become an Ironman.

After loop 1 I saw the family, more hugs and high 5’s, this time no dust, I became more focused on what I needed to do and decided to enjoy every moment. The miles ticked by, eating at the feed stations, high fiving the crowd, chatting to other runners.

As the course is looped you get to see your mates who are takin part, I managed a call out to Marc who was looking strong and ahead of me and saw Steve at the start of end of Loop 1 again ahead of me.

By mile 15 I started to get a bit lightheaded and knee twingy , 2 more paracetamol, half a banana and a flat coke at the feed station saw me right. What can I say when you are coming towards the end of an Ironman flat coke is the drink of the gods, as someone who never drinks coke I proceeded to have it at every feed station thereafter.

By about mile 16, I caught up with Steve, we have been on this journey together for a couple of years now, both signed up together, train together, so it was great to see him. He was walking as whenever he ran he cramped so we walked together for a mile or 2 just chatting about the day, how amazing the support had been and the fact that we were so close to finally becoming Ironmen.

I carried on shuffling and picked up my last band from the marshall which signified that next time I reached the town centre I would be running down the finishers chute instead of running past it to start another loop.

I started to get excited, I couldn’t believe I had ran this far with the injuries I have had, all those months of training some of it enjoyable some not so much had led to this moment and I wanted to savour it. I saw my coach as I ran past with a big grin on his face then saw the red carpet. I stopped made contact with the lady with the microphone who looked at my run belt with my name on it put her hand on my shoulder looked me in the eye and said those immortal words that I had longed to hear for so long….” MATT, YOU. ARE. AN. IRONMAN!”

I then ran down the chute almost missing my family and friends who had been so pivotal in getting me not just through the day but through the training I am truly so lucky to have such a supportive network of friends and family.

As the medal was placed round my neck, with a beaming smile the pressure I had put on myself these 9 months seemed to disappear and relief took over, I couldn’t wait to see my family and of course get some sleep!

 

TOTAL TIME: 14 hours 32 minutes

 

Although this may seem like an Oscars thank you speech these people deserve a mention as without them I wouldn’t have believed I could do it.

Sian and the kids for putting up with my moods when injured, the early training sessions, the late family events I got to when training overran and the encouragement when I doubted myself (which happened a lot!). 2 hours after the event Sian was so inspired by the day, she could well be on her own path to becoming an Ironman.

Steve for inspiring me to do this when we first discussed this all those years ago, its been an amazing journey brother, well done you are an Ironman! Lyds and the kids thanks for letting us get away with it.

My Mum, Gemma and kids for being there on the day and supporting me through this.

Nene, Juju, Ray, Imo & Toon for travelling up and being there and for the bike rides in the winter months.

Andy & Cat for letting me stay over the night before, Andy for all his sounds words of wisdom over the months and Cat for mishearing me on the bike!

My Coach Chris, for the advice and training even though I didn’t get all of it done, we got there in the end mate.

Marc for the training rides and the crocodile attacks in the lake.

These guys I fully recommend for being so positive, wise words and helping to keep my body moving:

Mark Randall (Physio and all round top bloke)

Ian Harrison (Physical Balance) – KIA KAHA mate

Jenine Nugent (Sports Massage @ Square One)

 

 

And finally thank you to all those that sponsored me, I have raised £1500 for Sporting Footprints, I am humbled by the generosity of people and all that money will do such good to the kids and families that need it.

 

When I crossed the finish line, I said to myself never again, 4 days later here I am thinking…..maybe just one more!

 

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprint 006: 2 Weeks to go!

Its finally almost here, 2 weeks until I take on the biggest challenge of my life so far, IRONMAN UK.

 

I cannot believe 9 months ago my training started unfortunately I am not where I was hoping to be with 2 weeks to go.

I went for what was supposed to be a 2-hour run last week only to be halted by knee pain yet again after only 2 miles, so I ended up having to walk home, since then I have seen a physio and running looks highly unlikely until the big day and even then I don’t know if I will be able to run. The annoying thing is it also hurts when I cycle so I’m in for one fun day!

My plan has now changed from one of going out there and maybe going for a decent (for me) time to one of just finishing and pain management, this has also dampened the excitement somewhat but you can only play with the cards you are dealt with so I am going to give it my best shot and see how far I can get. If I don’t get to the start line then I won’t get to the finish line.

I have put a lot of pressure on myself due to trying to raise money for Sporting Footprints, plus having family and friends coming along to support as well as friends taking part so I am determined to enjoy the day as much as possible, smiling to supporters and thanking the marshals goes a long way to improving spirits as I have found out from previous races so I’ll be doing that.

Also it helps to try and break down the day instead of thinking of it as swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles then run a marathon, I’ll be breaking it down into smaller chunks. The swim is 2 loops, the bike is 2 x 47 miles loops plus a ‘bit’ added on and the run is 3 loops plus a 10k warm up, roughly, that’s how I will be thinking about it.

The challenge on the day is still nothing compared to what some of the parents and children have to go through daily that are supported by Sporting Footprints so if you can spare a little bit and have enjoyed reading these blogs then please sponsor me here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

I’ll be posting the tracker nearer the time so if you want to follow my progress you can.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully next time you hear from me I’ll be an Ironman.

 

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints 005: MAYDAY! MAYDAY!

May has been without a shadow of a doubt my worse month for training, this on going knee problem has been playing havoc with any consistency, however looking back at the month I have still managed to get some good sessions in.

 

Having never swam the Ironman distance before (2.4 miles or 3800metres) I set myself the target of going to the pool and seeing if I could hit this target, more for a mental thing to prove I could do it and give me the confidence going forward. I managed to do it , I did use a pull buoy as this mimics wearing a wetsuit and managed it nonstop in a time of 1:25 so a nice shot in the arm when running and cycling were not going to plan.

 

On the 13th May me and my mate Steve decided to drive up to Bolton to recce the Ironman bike course, the course itself is 2 x 56 mile laps, we were planning on doing about 70-80 miles. On the morning of the ride it was wet and windy so probably similar to what Bolton would be like in the summer anyway!

I could tell that not long after setting off that my knee was not going to play ball so annoyingly we had to abandon after about 56 miles, we still managed to get the 2 big hills in that are infamous for Ironman UK, Sheephouse Lane and Hunters Hill, if I’m honest Sheephouse Lane is not much to get excited about but Hunters Hill is a challenge and I’m sure even more so the second time around.

We headed back that afternoon, the drive back a lot quicker due to traffic behaving itself but still painful due to Steve demanding we played Shania Twain most of the way home.

 

After this the middle of May saw lots of abandoned rides and short runs, I started seeing my Osteopath who believed all my knee problems were hip related, possible prolapsed disc and sciatica and a very tight hip so he set to work on making me better.

 

One of the most important things about Ironman is getting your Nutrition right, in fact they say it is the 4th discipline, I decided I would try a product called Tailwind which is a drink that supplies you with about 50g of Carbohydrates and 200 kcals with no real need to take on food. The plan is to drink one bottle every hour with this in and a cheeky little snack here and there to top up if need be. I have a flat 30 mile loop that I cycle so I thought if I did this 3 times I could come home after each loop and fill up with water and go out again, I managed 91 miles with minimal knee pain so it looked like things were going in the right direction and the Tailwind worked well so I will be using it for Ironman.

 

I started to get a few smaller runs under my belt by the end of May, then signed up for my first swim race at Tri20 swim centre in Reading, this was good fun, an early start on a Sunday morning I finished about mid pack but a decent time for me. The highlight though this day was my wife swimming a distance PB and my son having a swim in the lake for the first time, at 8 years old we may have a mini triathlete in the making, not to be outdone by her big brother my daughter decided she wanted to have a go so we may have enough members now to make our own tri squad!

If one good thing comes out of this experience it’s the fact that the kids may get inspired to keep active, it’s great to see them having a go at new stuff.

 

So that was May, I must admit there were times when I thought that this whole thing is a big ask for me, but I am strong willed and persistent and will keep going and get as much training under my belt as possible.

At the time of writing this Ironman is only 5 weeks away, I can’t believe how quickly it has crept up. Next months blog post will include the Cotswolds 113, which is a half ironman distance which I have as part of my training and build up to Ironman, stay tuned for this to see how I did, I’ll give you a clue, I finished it.

 

I am still someway off my target I set myself for raising money for Sporting Footprints so if you have enjoyed reading this and following me on my journey, please chuck a fiver (or more of course) into my justgiving page for this worthy cause.

 

Thanks again

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

 

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints 004: April, What a SHOWER!

Sometimes things just don’t go to plan.  In the whole of April I managed just 2 miles of running and the cycling wasn’t exactly pain free either. The patellar femoral pain (knee cap) I had been having for a while now finally got so bad I couldn’t run, so more trips to physio and osteopath and sports massage to speed things up, unfortunately the pain is still there I think it is now down to me having to manage it as I do not think it will go away before Ironman in July let alone my half ironman in a few weeks time.

 

At the start of April I met my nemesis in the swimming pool, I named her ‘Olympic Nana’ she was in her sixties at a guess. Now Olympic Nana was swimming 2 lanes on from me and I was coming to the end of my set when she pointed over to me and signalled ‘Four’ with her fingers (unless my goggles were foggy and she was swearing), here’s how it played out:

ON: “You and me four?”

ME: “Sorry Four? Four What?

ON: “Four lengths come on lets go!”

ME: “Erm, ok

ON: “When the clock hits 12 we go ok?”

ME: “ok” (thinking I’ll go easy don’t want to break her spirit)

 

So we set off, me doing front crawl (badly as usual) after 3 lengths I looked across and she was level with me but much to my horror she was doing backstroke and she was level with me yes she was level, this gave me a kick up the speedos that I needed so I went all out on the last length.

She beat me. Doing backstroke.

Talk about a kick in the pull buoy.

 

ME: “Well done that’s impressive, backstroke as well (then in my head I could feel my excuse coming, part of me was saying don’t be an idiot, don’t say it, don’t say it!) I’m injured at the moment, bad knee (Idiot you said it!)”

ON: “ Oh really , well thanks I find Im better if I have someone to challenge myself against I need it”

ME: (who is this lady) “Yeah I do triathlon and have always struggled with the swim” (double idiot!)

ON: “OK lets go again, ready?”

ME: “Again? (im knackered) Ok lets go again (I’ll get you this time nana)

 

She then looked over with a steely look in her eyes, we raced I almost killed myself but I beat the 60-year-old pensioner by less than a second I reckon. I’ll take that, thank you very much Olympic Nana! I now hope I don’t bump into her again incase she wants a rematch, fair play to her, a great example of keeping fit and healthy and someone I would like to be like at her age but made me realise how much I need to work on my swim!

 

During April we had a family trip to Ibiza where I was going to treat this as a little bit of a warm weather training camp because of the injury that didn’t happen although I made sure I did daily mobility and some TRX exercises to tick over, not helped by a bit too much cheesecake during the week, well I was in Ibiza, rock n roll!

 

On the last day I had enough (more to the point my wife had enough of me being in a mood so suggested I go out and ride) so I went out on the bike to test the knee, felt ok, iced as soon as I got back I was just glad to be on a bike again.

Enjoying the Giant Propel in Ibiza

 

There is not much more to say regarding April, my training was not good at all. At the moment it is 2 steps forward 1 step back but as long as im moving forward that’s the main thing. Keeping a positive attitude to it helps but there are days where the enormity of it all and the fact I don’t feel ready start to fester in the mind. I have spoke with my coach who does an excellent job in telling me not to panic (yet) and diplomatically tells me Im “on track but could always be a bit further on track”.

 

My first event is coming up at the beginning of June, this is the Cotswolds 113 which is half ironman distance, so 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run. Last year this distance was my main race, this year it is now ‘merely’ a warm up to Ironman UK, a true indication of the size of the challenge at hand.

 

If you enjoy this blog and and are hoping for a rematch with Olympic Nana then please sponsor me and reading the story behind the charity here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4

 

Thanks for reading, 69 days to go! Arghhhhh!!!!!!!

 

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My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints: Blog Post 003 – Mixed Bag March

March was a funny one and not because I used Veet on my legs for the first time (no laughing at the back!). Apparently it makes you more Aero, or it helps with massages, or stops getting hair in your cut if you come off the bike, lets face it its all a load of rubbish, the only reason triathletes and cyclists do it is because it  MAKES YOU LOOK PRO! Apparently. Either way I am now part of this new found smooth legged club.

 

I hadn’t long taken ownership of my new bike and was signed up to ride the Wiltshire Wildcat Cycle Sportive with my mates, 81 miles and about 5000ft elevation meant it would be a good day out and a gauge of my fitness.

Normally when I look at the forecast and it says windy im not too bothered however as the new bike has deep section rims, and as I am light crosswinds make it a battle to stop myself flying sideways into a hedge or oncoming traffic. The forecast for the Wiltshire Wildcat was one of high winds. The whole day was spent in quite a tense position on the bike plus a slipping seat post meant it didn’t all go to plan, thankfully I had my mate Neil ‘Legs of Steel’ with me to help push on through. We finished the ride in just under 5 hours so all was well in the end, although spare a thought for my brother in law Aaron who suffered a record breaking 6 punctures (If only Norris McWhirter had been on hand with his Guinness book of World Records he’d be famous) so he had to call it a day early on.

A week later I had Surrey Half Marathon where I managed a 7 minute PB, I was really pleased with this and felt strong, it poured down most of the morning but it was a good event and I managed to beat the man with a fridge stuck to his back so I call that a result.

 

You may be reading this this thinking, ‘this guy’s not mentioned injuries yet’ well hold your horses! For the first 2 weeks in March I couldn’t swim due to a shoulder impingement meaning I couldn’t lift my arm past shoulder height. This was probably brought on by holding on for dear life while on the sportive. A trip to the physio and some exercises I was back in the game 2 weeks later.

 

The rest of March has been the usual, swim bike, run as much as possible and trying to be as consistent as I can, unfortunately not as much as I would have liked but still lots of brick sessions have been good and still averaging about 9 hours training a week.

 

The end of March saw me enter my first TT (Time Trial) hosted by Andover Wheelers along with the man that began this Ironman journey with me Steve, now we are completely new to this but we went along with our mate ‘Legs of Steel’ Neil who is an experienced head in the art of going fast, in case you hadn’t surmised from his nickname. This TT was a 8.25 mile Loop and you set off one at a time in 1 minute intervals. Annoyingly I was drawn number 21, Steve 22 and Neil 23, so I knew as I was going first they would be trying there hardest to catch me, if ever I felt like a hare being chased by a couple of dogs now was the time, woof woof.

I started off ok then hit the headwind stayed as aero as possible and just gritted my teeth and pushed as hard as I could, the intention was to go as hard as my legs could go without those 2 dogs catching me.

After about 4 miles nobody had gone past me so I was feeling quietly confident, that was until about mile 5-6 when ‘Legs of Steel’ rode past me as if he was on a Sunday jaunt, in fact he may as well have been reading the paper he looked that casual, yes he has a smart TT bike but it would have possibly been the same if he was on a Penny Farthing.

 

Considering Neil started 2 minutes behind me he must have been giving it some, Steve who started 1 minute behind me hadn’t passed me yet so I still had something to hold onto, that was until 1 mile to go when I turned to see him head down foaming at the mouth dripping in sweat, and screaming ‘’ must catch matty!’ , ok it wasn’t like that at all he just rode past me quite fast, faster than me so of course I let him go, my time would come, perhaps in a race when neither of those 2 were racing.

 

We finished the race knackered but loved it, there is something to be said about going as hard and fast as you can for a short period of time leaving nothing left on the table, giving your absolute all. I realised at the end I had an excuse, my seat post had dropped (again) so I wouldn’t have produced as much power towards the latter part of the race, truth be told I doubt id have been much quicker but I blamed that damn seatpost!

 

At the time of going to press Ironman is only 99 days away and I still have a long way to go, so far the furthest I’ve ever ran is 13.1 miles, I have not swam the distance yet and have only done 2 100 plus mile rides to date so lots of hard training to come so I just hope I can manage these injuries. positive thinking goes a long way.

 

I leave the end of March and the start of April injured (yes I know hard to believe) , an ongoing knee problem which I’ve been maintaining for 6 weeks now has finally got too painful I’ve had to stop running, patellar femoral pain so I won’t bore you with the details as it bores me but it’s just another little obstacle to get through, the good thing about triathlon is there is always another discipline to focus on if you can’t do any of the others.

 

And finally, the reason I am doing this please, If you can sponsor a bit of money for this worthy cause, if you read this blog and enjoyed it or even if you haven’t and you want me to shut up, sponsoring is the way forward.

 

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April sees some warm weather training, Ibiza here we come, injuries permitting of course.

My Ironman Journey for Sporting Footprints: Blog Post No. 002 – Fast but Slow

February was a quick month, where did it go!?

The start of Feb saw me doing a 1000 metre Time Trial test in the pool. Im not a big fan of these tests as they push you to go as hard as you can and as you know by now I struggle with my swim at the best of times, however it seems a minor miracle occurred.

The previous month over 1000m I averaged a time of 2:28/100 epically slow not helped by me looking at other people’s times on Strava. (Note: Focus on yourself and your own target.)

This month I didn’t feel like I was dying/drowning and managed a time of 2:16/100 and knocking a whole 2 minutes off the total 1000mm Time Trial. I’ve now gone from very slow to just slow, happy with that!

During this test week I also had to do a Lactate Heartrate Threshold Test on the bike, again this test isn’t pretty, you have to ride as hard but as sustainable as you can for 20 minutes. I did this on my Wattbike and a small improvement of 5 Watts power increase over the last month, again I’ll take that thank you very much.

Speaking of power, specifically bike power, one of the main measuring factors athletes use to determine your power on the bike is Power/Weight ratio. For example I am a short arse and weigh 60kg, yes this is light and all this training has certainly helped and I have a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) of 177 this is the power I could sustain over 1 hour on a bike (ish). I could probably do more who knows.

Therefore to work out my power/weight ratio you divide my power by my weight giving me a score of just under 3 watts/kg.

However, you would think a heavier rider would have a better ratio, this isn’t entirely true, let’s take a cyclist who weighs 107kg and for the purpose of this blog we’ll call him Steve. Steve has a FTP of 266 watts, massively more power than me but his ratio is 2.4. This doesn’t mean that much really because on a flat bit of road or downhill Steve will be faster because absolute power will come into play however on the uphills I should be quicker. These numbers may mean nothing to you and you may have started nodding off, I’m a bit of a geek with numbers but I’ll leave it there so as to not bore you to death.

February also saw a few brick sessions which involves cycling then running straight off the bike , this is to get your legs used to the jelly legs feeling you can get running straight off the bike leg of a triathlon. Nobody wants to look like Bambi on your big day.

I have also upped the running miles this month starting with a 10 mile trail run. I have been getting a 10 miler in each week now as well as a few shorter runs.

Photo: Muddy shoes and sore knee post trail run

I know what youre thinking, I haven’t mentioned any injuries yet, well wait for it,  I seem to have a bit of patella tendinitis/ patellar femoral pain so am trying to be a s careful as I can with this, still doing lots of strengthening etc. and hoping to keep it under control.

The highlight of Feb other than running with my lad on his first junior Park Run, and even better than pancakes was my new bike arrived, it may not make me go faster but at least it might make me feel faster!

Photo: My new baby on its first ride out, is it weird that I cant stop stroking it every time I walk past it.

 

Coming up In March I have Surrey Half Marathon so stay tuned for that, bet you can’t wait.

 

And of course, the reason I am taking on this Ironman Journey is to raise money for Sporting Footprints please see my Just Giving page and spare anything you can.

Until next time.

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Matt-Hart4