Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Mindset, motivation and multiple sports, the Tri Me Tapes are the audio journal of an amateur athlete, Abi Dawson.
Seeking a new challenge and an opportunity to improve her mindset Abi made the commitment to try new sports and compete.
Initially, she identified triathlon as a true test of grit, physicality and most importantly mental fortitude.
Join Abi and her partner in crime Matt as they discuss the journey to competition, the highs, the lows and lessons learnt along the way.
In this tape of Tri-MeTapes, we discuss the gear Abi bought for her triathlon training, a lovely old lady telling Abi off in the pool and how to find the right saddle for your tushy.
If you are a new listener to The Tri Me Tapes, we would love to hear from you. Please visit our Facebook Page and share your athletic adventures!
In this episode, we discuss:
00:36 First week in training
04:04 Pool Etiquette
06:22 swim programming, and how to forget it
08:06 life vs training
09:01 Swimming training
12:25 Training Peaks - Session colour coding
13:45 Extra sessions and imaginary friends
15:40 Technology and equipment.
16:30 Bike Kit
19:47 Swimming Kit
20:50 Running kit
22:31 Measuring Sit-bones
25:10 More Bike kit
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Matt: Tape three. Let's talk about weak one, spelt, weak is in feeble,
Abi: intentional homophone.
Matt: What a writer
Abi: love to play on words.
Matt: Welcome to the Tri-Me tapes, an audio journal of an amateur athlete. I'm Matt
Abi: And I'm Abi
Matt: and we're here to discuss Abi's athletic adventures.
Abi: I think it's, um, it's basically describing my first week in training. So what did the actual week look like? But I had no idea how often I was training. Should it be training every day for running?
And then is it going to be like maybe twice a day or do I really need to get myself a bike? And
Matt: if you're going to have a punt at the time, how often did you think you'd need to be doing training
Abi: Every day
Matt: Every day,
Abi: Every day, once a day.
Matt: And you thought you'd just be doing one.
Matt: discipline each day.
Abi: Yeah. Yeah. And I thought my strength training would probably be similar to what I was doing previously or like heavy. Because I've thought I've had a good strength baseline, and I thought he would want to maintain that. So to maintain strength is going to have to be progressive overload of basically just
Matt: doing what you were doing before.
Abi: Yeah. Following a program. Yeah. Yeah. Keeping relatively heavyweights and then using the same things that I would do in the gym. So squat. A hinge, a push, a pull, a single leg. That's what, that's the, uh, that's the main focus of functional fitness.
Matt: So what training did you get?
Abi: Um, started off so light. So let's have a look, Tuesday ...
What did we do?
S&C light work. I said that wasn't used to the low intensity. So he kind of set out some exercises that were either lightweight or body weight, and it was activating all those things that I said over a week, so really wants to engage the glutes. Uh, this would be like high reps, really not looking at kind of barbell work or high intensity that way, more building volume.
Abi: By packing it out and do more.
Matt: My shoulders were on fire though. My lungs were definitely working overtime, but I loved it.
Abi: Loved it. Wednesday running. Um, so this has been off the back of my injury. So it's a big ouch. He knew about the injury, um, which we discussed.
So, um, he wanted to ...
Matt: just programs more running. Injured? Just keep going
Abi: Build it up slowly. No, he didn't. And so he just said, let's, here we go. We're going to do a minute on and then a minute off. But on your minute off, you're not going to be completely resting. You're going to do like a fast-paced walk just to try and get your heart rate up.
Matt: But you couldn't do that.
Abi: It was painful. Yeah.
Matt: So ... that was pretty painful.
Abi: That was pretty painful.
Matt: And then Thursday back to swim. Hold on. Does it mean you did two swims in that week? How many swims were you averaging a week? Three two?
Abi: Two swims, two strengths. Two runs, right. And then a bike on a weekend.
Abi: So every time I did two, so I would do two of the same thing. So if I had a strength session on Tuesday, um, and I would have another one, maybe I think on here Friday, it'd be the same. And then if I did. Uh, run, uh, do that same session again, same as with the swim. And then the weekend was like a casual,
Matt: casual bike,
Abi: casual bike. I only had a mountain bike at his time, which he said was fine.
It was literally just getting out, getting used to sitting on a bike for a long period of time and get used to pedals and all that jazz the balance. Yeah.
Matt: I do enjoy a little story here. However, I did get shunned by an old lady who notified me. I was in the wrong lane. Yeah, you're in the bloody slow lane, getting all up in the grill of the old ladies,
Abi: I didn't know pool etiquette. So, yeah.
Matt: Did she have a floral swimming cap on?
Abi: Uh, I think she did actually.
Matt: Yeah, they do.
Matt: They love it. The old ladies.
Abi: Well, the pool was really busy, which always was at lunchtimes. And so I didn't know. pool etiquette. So I got into the lane that had the least amount of people in, and then I was kinda overtaking these little old ladies who were there for their midday swim. And so I, at the end, she kind of went you're in the wrong lane. I said, Oh, I don't know. Here's what you need to go in the medium or fast lane. I was like, thank you very much
Matt: complemented. Oh yeah.
So that was week one. Do you remember the end of that week? We had a casual 30km bike ride. Was that us?
Abi: Yeah, we did that together on the old train track on the train track.
Matt: But do you remember how you felt about that whole week training? Including your knee.
Abi: I'm pretty sure I felt okay with it. Like I was okay with the volume of it. Didn't feel too overwhelmed. The only thing I did think was my knee was still pretty bad. So we're going to have to think about, maybe I was going to overcome the injury and you know, if I had to see a doctor or get a scan, just to see if there's any real damage.
Matt: But otherwise you were positive that what you were doing.
Abi: Yeah. I, I think that the big thing for me was to kind of go and train. So.
Matt: So that was the mindset hurdle that you were handling then was going and training. Yeah. That was what you were focusing on.
Abi: Yeah, because it's all well and good. You saying you got to do something, but. If I was going to go and do a swim in the afternoon like I would have gone to work maybe in the morning.
So I started at 05:30, 6:00 AM finished at 10:30 to then go and swim at 12 for an hour trying to remember the programs or the program that I was told to do, which did not go well. Because Jimmy told me that basically when you go to the pool, you can bring yourself, like I bottle of water and then he said to put my program on like a piece of paper and then put it into a slippery fish.
I don't want to be that geek who brought in like loads of stuff and just put all my ...
Matt: too embarrassed to write down your programming. So this is another mindset thing.
Abi: And also I just thought, Oh, like, How stupid can you be, just to not remember like what you were told to do, but it's pretty broken up. So for example, my swimming session might have been like, do a 100 meters of just easy swim, all front crawl, and then it might be 15 meters of torpedo drill, and then you gotta swim and you could do that, for I dunno, like 400 meters.
Matt: Is anyone else lost yet?
Abi: Yeah. Exactly.
Matt: I'm lost
Abi: Lots of drills that weren't like, Ooh, just do a freestyle. It was drills, drills. Yeah. Specific movements and things that you want to meet to do in the water.
Matt: How, how, were you trying to remember this? I, you were making songs up.
Abi: Not, songs just remembering the numbers.
So being like, if it was like a hundred and then five, lots of 500 it'd be like 100, five, five hundreds four four hundreds.
Matt: So other sounds like a madwoman in the fast lane, just like regurgitating telephone numbers, or it sounds like you're trying to remember your times' tables.
Matt: Yeah. You're special sometimes.
Abi: Worked for me, and it was good brain training.
Matt: Wow. That's a winner, isn't it? So that was week one. Tell me about week two, in a nutshell week two was an increase in intensity, life got in the way, family duties, work, commitment and injury.
Abi: I think this was a comparison of how training didn't go so smoothly.
So when Jimmy asked me like how often I could train, I kind of said five days a week. And he was like, okay, cool. So sent me out the programs to be five days a week. And then with just things getting juggled around, um, I might not have been able to make sessions and then off the back of that as well I might not have been so determined to get there because the novelty might have worn off a little bit and it might've been ...
Well not, but like harder to get out and go and do it.
Matt: Showing the signs of cracks are showing him already.
Abi: Like, almost like, what the hell have I done?
Matt: Right. I enjoyed your comments too, about swimming. What did I say? Stripping back, a skill that you've learned 20 plus years ago can arguably be harder than starting from scratch.
How many swimming sessions had you had when you started feeling like. Uh, I've got to learn how to swim again.
Abi: I think because you obviously have your own way of doing something. If you've been doing it for a long period of time, that kind of works for you. But again, it might not be so efficient. So by breaking something down and looking at the basics is going to make you better overall.
So actually when you break something down, it can become really difficult with the swimming. It was all about balance in the water, I think as well when you do that, and it's a pool full of just people because it's a public pool, it's quite embarrassing that I'm in the medium or fast lane and I'm doing almost like hands in front of your head and kicking, right? Instead of swimming,
Matt: Hold your float out in front of you, push and glide.
Abi: Yeah. But then when you get over that, so it doesn't really matter what I'm doing.
Matt: Is that quite good for body awareness as well because you weren't a regular swimmer. It's not like you're going to the pool every day prior to this, but you, you were good when you were younger, but yeah.
Getting back into the water, did you have to,
Abi: Yeah, I think it's really good for cardio is like food for your respiratory system as well because I just remember being like, when do I breathe?
Abi: It's bloody hard.
Matt: Not when your face is in the water is my top tip.
Abi: So came out kind of blowing and you know, that like insatiable hunger that you get when you're out of the water.
Matt: Well, that's kind of like dizzy, dizziness when he comes out the heat at the pool and you're outside and you're like, Oh, I need a Mars bar. Or at least that's my excuse.
Abi: And then, when I was talking about the torpedo drill and certain drills, that would get me balancing in the water, it's bloody hard, but then you see how valuable it is when you're actually swimming to be able to do that first.
Matt: Again, practice what you preach kind of thing. Like when you're personal training, you break down everything into, it's like really core fundamentals, like, okay, you're not squatting today. You're sitting on that bench and you're standing up, you're sitting, you're standing up. It's basically swallowing your pride. And a bucket load of pool or to and learning to swim again.
Abi: So yeah, I talk about the sweet spot in the water, which is being the most streamlined you can be. So you don't want to any resistance with your body basically. So hand in front of your head interlinked your fingers. Try and get by like almost like biceps to ears. So you're stretched out as a bit. And then you kind of want to suck your tummy in and get your legs. I definitely felt like I needed to increase my mobility a little bit in terms of being able to hold my hands in that position for that period of time.
Abi: It's quite uncomfortable.
Matt: Not something you do outside of the water.
Abi: What? Just hold my hands up in front.
Matt: Well no but it is not, it's not, there's not. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. Another ride, the same route again.
I think I wasn't very confident on the bike. Right. So it was just nice to go somewhere familiar and also see if there were any improvements of how I felt during the ride.
It was flat as well so that I could just focus on just the bike without having to be like, Oh my God, it's a fucking hill.
Training peaks still had a running session pending up to my disorganized week. When you have an activity pending on training peaks, how did that make you feel?
Abi: Hated it.
Matt: How do you feel about it now?
Abi: Still hate it
yes, um, there's colour-coded. So you get green for completed the way it was supposed to be completed. You get a yellow if it was kind of completed. Right. So even if you went over the time, it would go yellow because you didn't complete it the way it was supposed to. Yeah. And then red if it's missed,
Matt: do you think that the colour-coding system actually had a positive effect on you or.
Abi: I think I'll always think like that.
Matt: Yeah. But that's what I mean, you always think like that anyway, but that colour-coding on that app did that agitate you more.
Abi: Made me more determined and accountable? Um, because I could, I could also, you can go out for a session and do it half-assed then you did it. Yeah, all my heart rate and everything's recorded on my watch. It's gotta be some in, but then if I like reading that now, I think I've even covered it up myself of being like, oh, I've missed a running session because of other commitments. No, you missed a running session because you were injured and you didn't want to do it.
The knee kept to a manageable pain.
I was determined to get it done ...
What an idiot!
And out she went, she went for a little run.
Abi: That was when that little boy joined me on the track. Aw, that was such a good moment.
Tell me at this moment.
We'd been at, we went out for a ride didn't race for the bike ride and because the, um, because I'd already missed a session, I was like, I've got to bloody get a running session done.
So I said, drop me off at the track so I can just get it done quickly. I think it was only, it was only a short run anyway. And, um, Went around the track and this little boy just started like running next to me, but I had my music in my ears. I took it out and he just didn't say anything. He just was running next to me, like a little boy, like a toddler, not a toddler
Matt: I wasn't with you on this. So it's possible that none of this happened and she was that tired that she was seeing small boys running alongside her. We'll never know. And that's the beauty of it. We will never know if you're completely do-lally-tat.
Abi: And then, because I'd managed to do the bike and the run, and I didn't feel absolutely dead.
It gave me a little bit of confidence that I might actually be able to do a triathlon.
Matt: Your clients. Now, if your clients turn to you and said, Oh, I knew I had to get like three sessions this week. So I just smashed out two in a day. What would you say?
Abi: I would say, is that wise?
Matt: Okay. No, I'm just, I'm just saying like, What you thought?
Abi: I think it depends on the reasoning behind it. Like, if you're doing it just to get it done and you don't do it well, do it well, and it's advised not to. Yeah. What's the point. Like, it's going to be more detrimental than you are like exhausting yourself,
Matt: the red, the red on the app, like just do it. Half-assed it's better to get an orange.
Abi: Right? Next, next,
Matt: all the gear. Uh, one of the things, one of the things we haven't discussed really is all the tech we've mentioned your Garmin watch, but let's be honest and say, triathlon requires a fair amount of equipment. Oh, what a great opening gambit. I have an extremely obsessive personality, especially when it comes to research and purchasing.
I will compare and contrast every detail to find myself the best deal possible. At least, I think I do.
Abi: Sounds like an advert.
Matt: Crippling self-doubt at the end coming back in.
Abi: Someone wants to give me a job for an assistant buyer?
Matt: Abi's an assistant buyer. I will get you the best bargains. So your opening statement is about how you research obsessively research things to buy them.
How much time did you spend / waste researching things for a triathlon?
Abi: Couldn't tell you exact, but I think maybe that was a good month. Maybe. No, it wasn't a month, maybe a good few weeks where you would come home and I'd own which links to eBay. Basically, it had to set a budget. I'm not going to go, I'm not going to go above 200 pounds on a bike that I was just a beginner. I didn't know if I was going to pursue the sport. So I didn't want to spend loads and loads of money on something, but I also didn't want something crap that was going to either caused me injury or fall apart. It was so different. Like you're perched a little bit higher. You're obviously leant over the handlebars a little bit more. Uh, the brakes are quite hard to reach. And then the pedals that came with the bike that I purchased didn't have, they weren't flat. So they needed the shoes, the clip-ins.
Matt: Yep. Another expense. Another 11 days of research.
Matt: So what you bought, you bought a bike, you got a nice white Cannondale Synapse. Yeah. From a chap in London. Yeah. Some pretty good Nicole, 200 q.
But yeah, I changed a couple of things on that bike. So I had a shorter stem so that the handlebars were a little bit closer to me. That was a little bit later down the line.
I just said I got some clip-in shoes. They're more efficient for pedalling. Put them away though, because I was too scared to use them.
Matt: Yeah, they got tried a couple of times. She had a fall in the garden.
Abi: Oh my God. When I first got this bike, I, I thought, Oh, I'll just test it out on a small bit of patio just to test my balance basically and wanted to see how quickly I could get my foot out, because I didn't want that traffic light moment to be like, Oh my god as soon as I stop ...
How do I get my foot out? So just kind of clip my foot in. Had did little roll quickly clicked my foot back out. And then, uh, and then plant it, but I stopped.
Matt: I didn't go like that though did it?
Abi: I didn't get my foot out in time
Matt: You just flopped.
Abi: Yeah. Flop, but not even going, I wouldn't even say I was going like two miles per hour.
Matt: I'm just going to lay down here for a minute with my bike attached to me.
Abi: I did use them a couple of times, but. I was just a bit too scared, especially if like you were on a hill and you starting, I didn't have the confidence or balance to kind of get started and then clip my foot back in.
Matt: But you went into this wanting a challenge. Did you not see learning to ride clipless pedals? As a challenge that you would just overcome. It just needed time and patience.
Abi: I think I did, but at this time I hadn't ridden a bike for a long time, so I wanted to get that skill before I kind of forced to stay in the bike.
Matt: Just so we ended up putting flats on, we bought some mountain bike flats and put them and they worked.
Abi: Massive red mountain bite ones.
Matt: Yeah. They've had numerous like weird pedals. Cause we've got, do you remember when we bought those toe clip ones like old school ones from Halfords? It's sort of thought it'd be a little bit better if you could sort of just poke your toe in them.
But they were horrible.
Abi: It reminds me of is, um, Happy Gilmore's hockey golf bat. That's what it looked like.
Matt: It did that. Yeah.
So that was the bike. Uh, what are the gear? Did we need to purchase?
Abi: Swimming stuff did I buy?
Matt: Quite a lot of for the pool. I was quite surprised. I thought a lot of it ....
Abi: Yeah. from the get, go as well.
Abi: Like a swimming bouy, which is basically a float, fins for your feet, hand puddles.
Matt: Mini flippers aren't they fins?
Matt: Swimming cap.? You can't swim in the school pool unless you've got a swimming cap.
Abi: No you can.
Abi: I, I want you to be more like streamline. Yes. I didn't want anyone to notice me. No, I am joking. Um, luggage.
Matt: What luggage did you buy. Oh, you bought that like North face.
Abi: Big bag and also a bag to put all that shit in so that I didn't drop anything.
Imagine if I carried all those things to the pool, I was like dropping them on the way I'll been so embarrassed.
Matt: Yeah. And you would have dropped them as well, you would have a brain fart, cos you'd have to look at the lanes and look at where you're going. Yeah. So every swimming session you were using a bouy, fin and hand paddles.
Abi: Not every session.
Matt: But you were taking them.
Matt: Did you buy running trainers as well? At the same this time last year?
Abi: No. I'd already had them and they were hardly used. I think there is an option and training peaks, which was apparently really good that Jimmy said that you can write down when you bought them. So what year you bought them? And then every time you go running, it will tell you how many miles or kilometres that you've done an issue.
And then you need to replace them.
Matt: My app asks what shoes I've been using. Um, so that was all the gear. Any other gear that you needed to buy? I, you got so many Amazon packages. It was unreal.
Abi: Oh, Christ. Um, Sitting on a bike my poor downstairs area Jesus front tush. Like not only that, it's like the blood flow that goes from like waist down to your legs, like do your toes, my toes numb every single time I ride a bike. So. I investigated on the best saddle and then looked for the best deal, for the best deal, the best saddle. Got the saddle, which was an ISM saddle. It basically has a channel down the middle, and it splits. So it looks almost like a snake tongue, I'd explain it. And it's supposed to obviously allow blood flow. Got on it. And jeez, Louise, I don't think I've ever been in so much pain in my entire life.
Matt: Yeah, it made things a lot worse didn't it. The saddle that on it was hard, but.
Abi: It was so bad. So I sent that back straight away when I send it back. Cause it was from an eBay.
So I sold that and then I went into a shop and asked, just, who've got some advice in yeah. Got different saddle, which made it made a lot of difference.
Matt: Specialized in it?
Abi: Yeah. How do we measure, how do we measure it?
Matt: Oh, measuring for sit bones is great fun. So you can use cardboard. If you've got like ribbed corrugated, cardboard, you make sure that the corrugated section of the cardboard is facing you. And then you put that on the chair and then when you sit on it and where it depresses the lines of cardboard, you can see where the middle of your sit bones are. However, there is another method and it involves getting a damp paper towel, put that on a table. Then you put a clean, dry piece of white paper on the damp towel, but very gently.
And then you get Abi to sit on the table with their feet on a chair and pretend to be on the bike on that paper, on that towel. And where the water comes through the dry paper, it leaves two little watermarks. And then you measure that and then you go sit bone distance. We did seven measurements because
Abi: we having fun.
Matt: There was a couple where Abi just sounded too long and it just gave us an oblong. Um, so that was fun.
Matt: But you, like your saddle, don't you?
Abi: Yeah, but if you cant'. If you don't want to do that and you want to get maybe a bit more of accurate measurement, you can go to a shop and get a measured from there, but you do, you need to measure it so that you don't get the right size because that is half the problem with that ISM one was, it was way too wide. So as I was like peddling down, I was almost like trying to like shift from side to side to get a more comfortable position.
Matt: Cowboy legs.
Abi: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Too wide man.
Matt: Too wide. Uh, so that's really important for anyone looking at purchasing a bicycle. Think about your saddle, especially like you weren't doing long crazy rides.
Abi: This was just weekends at the moment.
Matt: Yeah. Just casual.
Abi: But I was quite nervous about this because that was the first time I was on the road bike and we went to a trail. So there was kind of like stops and starts. So I was a bit nervous with the old clip-ins.
Matt: Oh, we did have a ride with the clip-ins. Didn't we, yeah.
Abi: That's why I didn't fall off. And I had that little video of me being so proud of myself
Matt: You swore at me quite a lot. Every time we got to some sort of uphill chicane part.
Abi: Ooh yeah, paddies.
Matt: Plenty of paddies. So the mindset thing hadn't been resolved just yet. Is there anything else?
Abi: Yeah, Wahoo,
Matt: A Wahoo. What's the Wahoo?
Abi: A Wahoo computer that you got me um, so if you wanted to go on like an indoor, well, you can use it wherever, but I got lent a turbo trainer, so I could do some training inside if the weather was crappy. So this would measure cadence and also speed, distance as well. And the time that you'd been cycling, as well as like incline, um, and it also has like GPS on it as well. So you can map a route that you can follow, which was really helpful. Yeah. I was a little bit nervous about getting on my bike and just going out for a ride, um, because I don't like making decisions and I don't like making decisions when I'm uncomfortable. So if I'd already made that decision, then I'd get told which way to go.
I don't get lost, then that kind of eliminates that. Yeah.
Matt: Good habit forming, bad habit-forming. You want to reduce excuses? Don't you, you want to make good habits easy to do so. Having this little computer did it all for you and the turbo. It wasn't anything special. Was it? That was just like a bolt-on, the bicycle.
Abi: Some of them are Unreal. They like smart ones that kind of do all that for you and make an also increased resistance and also change the incline as well. And stuff like that.
Matt: Any more gear?
Matt: End tape?
Matt: Tape three ... done!
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Abi: You can always cut bits out if it was really long on crap, can't we?