It’s been a while since my last blog back in October where I reflected upon my 3rd Ironman distance race. I said that I would take a break from Ironman for at least 12 months and those closest to me didn’t think I could tear myself away from the obsessive compulsive drudgery of training and competing in long distance triathlons. And, no I’m not missing the volume of training, the long bike rides and the monotony of swimming 3 hours a week. Boy it feels good.
Instead, I have committed myself to two marathons and, so far signed up to a further 3 half marathons before the end of May. For some time I’ve wanted to focus solely on running for at least one season just to see how well I can do as a runner, and 2019 is the year I will carry out this ambition.
Just before Xmas I approached my new run coach Mark Perry who came out and visited me to discuss the practicalities of how he was going to coach a blind runner. I explained what was best for me and Mark tested out all the on-line tools he uses with his athletes. He tested out Training Peaks, for example, to see how this would work with voice over technology. I was suitably impressed with his attention to detail and willingness to work with my needs. I do need someone who is hands on and not some anonymous individual at the end of an email. So, this was a great start. He set up my Garmin 235 watch and synchronised it with various on-line apps such as the one above. I was initially very excited as I have never really paid much attention to the data side of things as technically it has always been a challenge for me. The technology isn’t really geared up for those who are blind or severe sight impaired. So, for example, my Garmin 235 doesn’t have any speech enabled software on it and I am reliant upon my wife and others around me to set my watch to the correct setting for the sport I want to record. Even then sometimes my sessions don’t get recorded as I may have accidently hit the wrong sequence of buttons or stopped my watch from recording by mistake.
However, to date I have managed to record the majority of my sessions. The Garmin 235 has a wrist based heart rate monitor which isn’t the most accurate of devices but nonetheless does provide a proxy indicator of the effort I am putting in. In addition I have bought a foot pod which attaches to my shoe which helps with a more accurate recording of my indoor runs.
Armed with my new coach, Garmin watch and my new PT Martin Hulbert I felt ready to push on with the base training over the cold, wet and dark winter months. Despite my optimism I still needed to get the word out that I needed more guides. So, for the umpteenth time I posted in the Leicester Runners Facebook page that I needed guide runners and could people please help. Most of the time I normally get the spate of “I’d like to help but I’m not fast enough” type of response which is very sweet but doesn’t help with my challenge. On this occasion I got an overwhelmingly positive response. I contacted a number of guides and have started running with them. The people who run at slower paces I have recruited for my easier runs and this has worked out really well. As I increase the number of runs I do I want to avoid spending all my time on the tred mill. So, the fact that I have more guides is such a positive and welcome development. A special mention and thanks go to Toni Briggs, Sarah Thi, Matt Langtree, Paul Featherstone, Lucy Neamz, Andy Salmon and Gaz Chivers who I have either gone out for runs with or will be racing with in 2019. And, subject to any injury issues, should be a phenomenal year. Also thanks to all others who have volunteered their services but haven’t had a chance to hook up with as yet. Our time will come.
So, which races have I entered? So far these are the races I plan to do where I have guides:
- 12th January 2019 Wollaton Park Cross Country 10k (North midlands Series)
- 16th February 2019 Eaton Dorney Winter Half Marathon
- 24th March Ashby 20
- 14th April Rutland Half marathon
- 12th May Bosworth Half Marathon
- 26th May Liverpool Marathon
- 29th September Berlin marathon
Feel free to add a comment below and let me know what your plans are for 2019!