Probably one of those things that nobody thinks of too much in a training plan, but its entered my head more and more over the past couple of months.


Without going into too many details, I’ve been really suffering with my sleep, particularly the past few months. We have a bed that is so uncomfortable that I feel like I’ve done a triathlon when I wake up. Everywhere is achy and it takes me a while to get moving. Its a horrible feeling, and one that started making me not want to go to bed. I’d put it off as long as I could, go to bed when I was almost asleep stood up and just literally flop onto the bed. The problem then was if one of my youngest woke up in the night, then there was no way I was getting back off, and I’d end up coming downstairs, maybe grabbing another couple of hours on the settee but it wasn’t great. Most of these months I was getting by on between 3 and 6 hours a night, and I didn’t feel great for it. I’d still do my bits in the day, bit of training as well but I just didn’t feel great.


Why didn’t I change the bed? Or why did I buy it in the first place??!! The second one is easier, it felt comfy in the shop, we needed a bed so that was the one we got. Looking back, it was on a different base than the one we eventually put the new mattress on so this will have had an effect on it, but it feels like sleeping on a bag of rocks.


The problem is, you need sleep. Forget the idiot who bellows out he can get by on 3 hours a night. When you sleep your heart rate drops, your blood pressure drops and the body repairs and recovers from the previous day. This is the important thing for anyone involved in any sort of athletic pursuit. You have to have a sufficient amount of sleep to recover from your racing or training otherwise your performance will suffer. That is why in all the training plans that are about, there is a rest day included each week, and it should be taken. But sleep should be included as part of your training program.


So how am I doing now? I have a new mattress on the way so I’m still on the old sack of spuds. However, the shop we bought this from went through all sorts with us, from bases to pillows and spent a long time letting us try different beds out. It was actually an enjoyable experience, which for shopping, is saying something. In the end, while I’m waiting on the new mattress to turn up, they suggested I change pillows, and what a difference. Just by changing something that simple and relatively inexpensive, it has made a huge difference. The bed still ain’t great, and its going soon, but I now sleep better, and for longer and feel so much better for it.






I’ve been asked a few times about diets so thought I’d put a few words down as to my experiences.

I’ve always enjoyed food, and usually the bad stuff. Take aways with a couple of pints, nice bottle or two of wine in a nice restaurant, but it all takes a toll. Pretty much if you don’t burn off more than you put in, you’re going to put weight on, hardly rocket science. Over the years, I’ve done a couple of diets, Weight Watchers, Atkins and they’d all had a reasonable short term effect but I’d always pile it back on, with holidays being my worst time.

I got back from a holiday in Dubai in October 2011 and was looking at the pictures, that was my wake up call. I needed to do something about my weight. I sort of mentioned it to my wife and she’d been at one of these “ladies who lunch” type of do’s the day before and she’d been talking to one of my Mum’s friends about a diet that had really worked for her, so a couple of phone calls later I’d got the name of it, Lighter Life. A quick google and I found there was a Lighter Life rep and meeting point about 5 minutes drive away so after a couple of days thinking about it, I rang her up.

Turned out there was a weekly meet at 9 every Thursday. She explained a few bits to me over the phone but it would be best if I came down. Guess that was the first hurdle, the next one was actually going, not really into all this sort of group meeting shit but thought I’d give it a go. The Thursday I went, I trotted up the stairs, burst into the room and found I was getting glared at by about 2 dozen women. I didn’t know there was a separate male/female class so I got asked to wait outside. In the naughty corner and not even started yet.

They all soon trooped out and it was my turn. The rep, Lorna took me into the back room and explained how it worked. It was a strict diet but if you followed the rules you would get success. You bought their food packs which were a range of shakes, soups and meals, with bars allowed at a later date, and this is what you ate. They were designed to give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needed but in a controlled portion. It was just a case of adding water to the shakes or boiling water to the soups and meals. Sounds strange and it was almost like army ration food but Lorna talked a good game and I was in. Lots of measurements were taken, I was over 16 1/2 stone, not good and that was me in. Have to say I didn’t fancy the group meetings bit, all a little like alcoholics anonymous. Just had this vision of sitting round a table with a load of big blokes and when it was my turn to introduce myself, I’d say

“Hello, my name is Malcolm, and I’m a fat bastard”

To be fair, it wasn’t like that at all. In my time there, there was only ever 4 blokes turned up and 2 of them faded away after a week or 2 so it was just the hardcore 2 or 3 of us, and we used to try and gee each other up, giving encouragement if we needed it. The meetings were mainly Lorna explaining each step of the diet and to be honest, I genuinely found them quite interesting and looking back, they probably did actually help me more than I thought at the time. I used to joke it was a kind of brainwashing into what we should and shouldn’t be eating, but it was more a case of educating us and a lot of what we went through has stayed with me now.

The first week was a bit of a struggle, but I did it. The foods weren’t too bad, not something I would choose to eat but I needed to do this and I was of the mindset that I at least needed to stick it out. When I went back for my first weigh in, I’d lost over 10 lbs in that week!! That gave me a right buzz and really focussed my mind to think this was going to work. That night, there was also a new chap there and I still laugh at this. It was a cold November night, and he turned up in a t shirt and tracksuit, sweating like mad from walking up the stairs. Lorna took him into the back room, and started going through the bits. Generally, you could never hear what was going on in the back, but tonight, I could hear the chap as he had quite a loud voice.

“Thanks for that Lorna, can I have milk and sugar in my coffee?”

“No, just what is on the diet”

“In my tea?”

“No, just what is on the diet”

“Right, so its just these food packs here, right?”


“Can I…..”


“Could I….”


“Okay, right, I know I have to do something, I’m in. I’ll take the packs and get off”

“Actually, we don’t do that, you have to stay for the meeting.”

“But, but, I cant. My wife has cooked me a big tea and it’ll be ready in 10 minute.”

Never saw that chap again!!

The second week, another 5 lbs and that was over a stone in total, in only 2 weeks!! The third week was always going to be difficult. We were going to a big black tie do in aid of Children in Need. Now I’ve been to some charity events, but this was on another level. MC was Gary Barlow and there were all sorts of celebs there, even had a Bentley in the auction!! And the food and wine was fantastic, or so I was told!! I just sat there and watched everyone else eat and drink. Even had a few on our table wafting drinks under my nose, tempting me but it just made me more determined. Was really chuffed with myself when I came out of there and hadn’t fallen off the wagon.

After a few weeks, you start to introduce “proper” food into your diet, dropping one of their food packs. Its all very gradual and you’ve still got the back up of the weekly group meeting. Again, a few weeks further on once you’ve stabilized on one proper meal, you introduce another, dropping one more food pack. There are a couple of cookbooks for Lighter Life and these were a big help. In fact, I still use a number of their recipes even now. Even if you’d had a bad week, there was no name and shame. Any increases in weight were kept between me and Lorna. The “transition” stage was when the weight loss started to slow down but the big thing was it wasn’t going up. After a while, then you’re off their food packs and released into the wild. Not as daunting as it might be with other weight management courses, as you can still visit the group for any help and advise.

In the end, I lost over 4 1/2 stone on Lighter Life and it has pretty much all stayed off still. I possibly went a little too low at one point as even I thought I looked a little gaunt but with exercise and the things I learnt at the meetings, its stayed off. I ended up having my last meeting in August 2012, so I’d been going about 9 months to loose what I did. It wasn’t easy and the diet is very strict, particularly at the start but if you have the right mindset, then you should be able to do it.

Good Week

I’ve not actually started my training plan yet for IMUK, but have had some good sessions this week.


Did my hour on Monday morning with my PT. All the work for this is mainly aimed at core and endurance so that set me up fine. Got a call from him to say he wouldn’t be in Wednesday for my session so thought I’d do myself a mini tri in the gym. I was planning on spending all morning in there anyway, as my little girl was in nursery and my wife was in a gym class so it wasn’t worth going home.


As I was getting changed, I got chatting to one of the other PT’s in there who has done a few Iron Man distance tri’s and he suggested rather than do the interval session on the bike I was going to do, do a pyramid interval. Had to have it explained, but he thought it’d do me some good so who am I to argue. On the exercise bike, I started at level 7 for 4 minutes, then rest at 4 for 4 minutes, level 8 for 3 minutes, rest at 5 for 3 minutes, level 9 for 2 minutes, rest at 6 for 2 minutes then level 10 for 1 minute, coming back down the scale the other way, always trying to keep the cadence at around 85. Shit, that was hard!! Sweated buckets, fortunately the wife was there to go and fill my water bottle as I was running on empty when she turned up.


Did this and straight onto the treadmill for a brick. Actually felt pretty good and ended up doing just over 4 km. Might have been helped by some good gym tunes from While She Sleeps and Bring me the Horizon but felt good and could have gone on, but I knew I wanted to get a decent swim in.


Into the changing rooms and out with the Zone 3 Buoyancy shorts. These are a great aid for swimming training, but they’re not a great look, sort of cross between cycling shorts and incontinency pants, and the noises that they make when you’re putting them on aren’t great either!! Another point on these is I now have to remember to take the lube to ease into them, not great.


Anyway, waddled off into the pool for a quick warm up and ended up doing 11 100 metre sprints. Might not be sprints for some, but they were for me!! Kept all the times under 1 minute 30 seconds except one, when some big, bouncing old girl came wading across my path, hope she’s not like that on the road!! Was really happy with that session, and felt really good after them all.


Today, Friday, I’ve done my hour with the PT and again, had time to do some more. As the pool was being used for a class, I thought I’d do the pyramid interval session again with a small run tagged on the end. Same numbers as Wednesday except this time, I managed to keep the cadence up at 85 pretty much all the time, and it felt ok doing this. Was a little stiff getting on the run but only had time for about 10 minutes so only did a midge’s over a mile but the stiffness wore off quite quickly. Think the running after the cycle session is a good idea, no matter how small the run is so I’m always trying to fit it in.


Having left the gym to pick up my daughter, we were back there for her swimming lesson an hour later. Hadn’t been home to dump the stuff, so I let the wife sort her out and I did a swim. This time, I thought it would be better just to wear my normal swimming shorts. God knows what would have happened if I’d turned up poolside in what looks like from a distance very tight leather shorts while there is a kiddy swimming lesson going on. Guess I could have made the front page of the Daily Mail!! Ended up doing just over a mile, but at a nice easy pace, probably the swimming version of a gentle jog.


So a good week. Nothing was too hard, the swimming I’m happy with, just need to get some bike miles sorted properly now.

Rubber and Lube at the gym

Had a good week. Back at the gym now, doing my sessions with a PT. Mainly aimed at core and endurance but this week been trying to get some strength back so done some weights and a little sparring.


Thought I’d test out my Zone 3 Buoyancy shorts for the first time. They’re designed to help core stability whilst you swim, and are pretty much a cut off wetsuit. Have to say, they’re not a great look when you’re in the changing rooms or out of the pool. Sort of a cross between some tight kinky leather shorts and incontinence pants. And the sorts of noises you make when you’re squeezing them on in the changing rooms probably would take some explaining, as well as the tube of lube that accompanied them. Still, I managed to get them on and waddle out into the pool without getting arrested.


Once I got in the pool, they felt fine. I’ve never used a pull buoy before, but these are aimed at replacing that, with the added advantage of being able to kick as well. As soon as I started swimming, the first feel was my middle was closer to the surface and I wasn’t dangling my legs too deep. In addition, I felt much more able to move through the water and breathing on both sides was much easier as I was able to rotate from side to side so easily. All presumably down to the extra buoyancy they were giving, so they pretty much did what they said they would.


Felt very comfortable, and as I had the time, I just kept on and ended up doing the full IM 3.8 km. Just doing that gives me some confidence, it wasn’t particularly quick, a little over 75 minutes but knowing that the distance is not a problem 6 months before the event is a good thing. I’ve always been a decent swimmer, but over the past 12 months or so since I got into tri, I’ve stepped up the distance more. To be honest, I could have gone on past the 3.8 km but I called it quits at that and had a chill in the steam room.


So if anyone is particularly interested, would certainly recommend the buoyancy shorts, as long as you can live with the look!!


Have also done a couple of runs, nothing major, a couple of 5 km’s just to get back into the swing. I’ve managed to get a flat on the turbo so have to replace that which is a job for tonight. I really ought to concentrate on the bike now as that’s the weakest point by far. I know I can do the swim, I’ll get round the run its just that bike bit is the bit that I know I’m going to struggle with. Good job its only 112 miles and the biggest part then!!

Mojo Back

Not really had a lot to report in December. Did a little bit of running, little bit of gym work, little bit of turbo and a little bit of swimming.


Had an enforced break in mid December as went off to EuroDisney with my two little girls for a few days. By the time we got back, it was pretty much Christmas and coupled with the crappy weather, I’ve not got out at all. I’ve been up early a few mornings but once I got downstairs with my gear to get changed into, I just couldn’t get the enthusiasm to force myself out. Guess the darkness, gale force winds and horizontal rain weren’t helping me but I just couldn’t do it, which is unusual for me.


Managed to get back into it by going out for a mess about on my off road bike at the start of the week. As soon as I got out I was enjoying it, even though it was pretty cold. Just did a couple of hours but did manage a mix of off road mud and on road hills. Nothing too severe but got me back into the swing of it. Only downer was I found the only bit of black ice in the area and binned it at the bottom of a hill. Fortunately, saw it at the last minute but not a lot I could do as I was stopping for the junction. All happened in slow motion, first the rear wheel was ahead of the front wheel, then tried to balance myself by putting my foot down, straight onto the ice which then took me down completely. Pretty much bounced straight back up so no great injury, my right hand hurt a little but the gloves did their job.


Back in the gym in the morning, looking forward to that so looks like the training mojo is back.