Monthly Archives: June 2015

Triathlon Dreams and Anxiety Sharks.

With the Velothon out of the way I have focused my efforts back on triathlon training. Cycling wise, after riding 140km one day, I think I’m okay with the bike element. Running I feel generally at peace with. What I feel I have neglected is swimming. So in efforts to try and make my weakest discipline a little bit more bearable I have been hitting the pool as often as I can.

I won’t lie, I am a little bit anxious about swimming and with my first novice triathlon coming up this Sunday I find myself getting a bit jittery. So much so that I have had odd dreams. One such dream involved the cycle stint of the 17km course on Sunday. In this dream I finish the out and back course to be told that I need to do it again. And again. And again. Now I know nerves are usually helpful but this dream was a bit unsettling and made me feel unprepared.

It’s weird that my dream was about the cycle section because it’s swimming that I get most worried about. And I think I’ve now made it ‘a thing’. Whenever I start swimming my arms feel like lead weights. It takes me ages to warm up into it. Then I get cross with myself because I find myself needing to stop at the end of the length. The swim at the weekend is 16 lengths and in the pool I’ve been trying to make myself swim for 16 lengths at a time without the need to break occasionally. I haven’t fared so well and so my anxiousness about it gets worse. I am my own anxiety shark.

I’ve been reading a little bit more about anxiety lately and in a weird way I’ve started to understand and accept elements of my personality. On social media you often see these articles ’10 things you didn’t know about ‘insert subject here’ and I happened to come across one about anxiety. As I share the feelings that I’ve had about swimming I recognise them as being irrational and maybe a bit daft but that is an anxiety trait. Many of my anxiety triggers are irrational and right now swimming seems to be one. I think the reason is that I feel out of control with swimming whereas with running, and to some extent cycling now, I feel very much in control. When that control goes I start to panic and the irrational thoughts begin along with a lot of sentences beginning with ‘I can’t’.

But when I beat off those irrational feelings with practical thoughts: ‘it’s okay to break, it’s okay to breath every stroke, it’s okay to not be brilliant at this’, I start to enjoy swimming, my body relaxes into it and I begin to enjoy it again.

The article I link to above does mention many negative aspects about anxiety but it also mentions aspects that may in fact be positive. Could anxiety make me more productive? And is it a survival mechanism that makes me more empathetic, more driven and aware of everything around me? Do my anxiety traits make me more determined to achieve my training goals? And is it my anxiety traits that push me and drive me forward? I have no idea if that could be true but if it puts a positive spin on the hyperventilating, the nausea, tingling hands and the crushing feeling in my chest then I’m all for that. It actually makes me feel better that there could be a positive outcome to those feelings.

After sharing so many largely negative thoughts about swimming I have to say I am looking forward to my first novice triathlon this weekend. I’m curious to see how I get on with transitions and to see how a triathlon event works. I’m also excited to be supporting a local event with the triathlon being held at a local swimming pool by Aim 2 Tri events.

I’m aware that the distances this weekend are way off what I need to achieve for London Triathlon for Team Tricurious but it will give me a small taster of what triathlon is all about. And maybe after this weekend those traits that I mentioned above will give me a little bit more drive to complete my first Olympic Distance triathlon in August.

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Pride, Places and PB’s.

I’ve seen a lot of debate about whether we should train for personal bests or whether we should forget about them and embark on some kind of spiritual journey and the inner reflection that endurance exercise inevitably brings. Personally I think you can do the two and that in fact there is a great deal of cross over between both.

On Sunday I completed the Velothon and as I was well out of my comfort zone I decided that I would focus more on the challenge aspect of it then the length of time it would take me to complete. On Sunday I aimed to finish and that is what I did. I did not complete it in an amazing time and I was right at the back of the field but I was okay with that. But if I do it again of course I would like to be a bit faster and be further away from the back. I think that is for me, and for many others, a natural consequence of sport and exercise. You strive to make yourself better, not just physically but mentally too.

I understand that people get frustrated when other runners/cyclists/triathletes talk about PB’s and rankings but having come from track and field I think it washes over my head a bit. I see it as people wanting to make conversation rather than some kind of ego waving or competitive threat. I am immensely proud of my running PB’s but I think what makes me more proud of them is that I enjoyed the training and the races where I accomplished them. The PB’s were a bonus.

I don’t think you need to be a ‘legit Olympic athlete’ to care about PB’s. And actually if you look at Olympic races it’s rarely about records and PB’s, it’s about medals and winning. Not all Olympic races are won in record times so that argument is already thrown out the window for me. Plus I think it is a bit of a smack in the face for many people who enjoy training for PB’s at club/youth/amateur level. You don’t have to be ‘Olympic’ to care about your times. If that is something that motivates you to get out and exercise, then brilliant. If you enjoy the challenge that comes with aiming for a PB then more power to you. If the PB hunt is part of your journey and in finding more about yourself and what you are capable of as an individual, physically and emotionally then I think that is your right and I have no business to judge you.

I think it mainly all boils down to the saying ‘run your own race’. There is no point getting your knickers in a twist about what someone else is doing or about someone else’s times or even their pride over their times. When did it become offensive for people to be proud of what they’ve done? Instead we should congratulate those people, have a chat with them and then focus on our own goals, whether that is time, a ranking, a podium place or simply finishing. All of these things take time, effort and passion from a person and to pour scorn on people who talk about their PB’s just undermines the work they put in to get there. And that’s really not fair.

I am taking on my first novice triathlon in July and I am enjoying the fact that the pressure is off. I have no idea of how long it will take me and I have no intention of stressing about where I will come. But I am enjoying the current journey I am on and I am finding out lots about myself. I’m sure after the triathlon my journey will change direction and my focus my become a PB or improving aspects of my triathlon race. I reserve the right to alter my journey plan in sport wherever I see fit and I will plot the course to a PB or a finish if I think that is right for me. It is after all my race and I’m running it. You should all focus on your own race, your own journey and be proud.

Velothon Aftermath

On Sunday I was on an incredible high after my epic 87 mile cycle. As a family we went for dinner as soon as I had finished and I didn’t care that I was sat in my sweaty cycling kit among Sunday afternoon diners. Well done messages poured in from friends and family and quite frankly I felt amazing. Once we got home I had a steaming hot bath, stretched out on the sofa for a while and then went to bed, imagining the pain I would probably be in once morning came.

On Monday morning I woke and I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t in as much discomfort as I thought I would be. The main issue I had was that my eye was painful. During the ride a fly decided to hit me straight in the eye ball. My eye was red and puffy but I reasoned that if that was my only issue I was basically okay.

Monday was a total rest day. But then Tuesday also became a rest day. And so did Wednesday. I did a short walk/run with Polly the pup yesterday. Today i could go out for a social ride with the Flyers. But I’m not going to. It’s not because physically I feel awful but mentally I just feel drained. My brain has been on shut down. Head most definitely in the shed. This week I have felt a bit forgetful, distracted and unable to fully focus. My husband would probably say that’s normal but I have felt a difference in my concentration levels.

I’ve never been on the move for the length of time that I was on Sunday. I fueled well and I was sensible throughout the entire ride. But I underestimated the mental toll that it would take on me. I cycled alone for around seven hours, concentrating the entire time on the technical course. I don’t think I ever really put in that amount of mental effort when I’m running. The result being that even though physically I’m unscathed, emotionally I feel hung, drawn and quartered.

I have my first triathlon, a novice event, next month and even though I probably could have made it for a swim or a gentle run/cycle this week I have prioritised rest and recovery. I have resisted the compulsion to train this week, instead enjoying gentle, mindful walks with the boys and our puppy and making sure I am eating well. And I honestly think it has been for the best, not just for my body but for my mind too. This week is now designated a rest week so that next week I’m ready to focus on the next challenge: the London Triathlon in August.

Recovering hard.

Recovering hard.

Velothon Wales 2015

Yesterday I completed what is probably my toughest personal challenge to date: Velothon Wales. This event gave cyclists the chance to take on routes that professional cyclists take on and indeed yesterday there were pro teams competing. It was a 140km course taking in several South Wales counties: Newport, Gwent, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Cardiff.

This is my take on how it went yesterday. It’s a bit long and I wouldn’t say it’s a race report because I certainly didn’t race it. Instead it is a collection of my thoughts and feelings about the day.

A dodgy start

The first part of the route took us through a fairly industrial part of Cardiff and out through some pretty countryside towards Newport. It was flat and not very challenging. But for some reason my legs felt like they were on a permanent incline. I wondered if I had eaten enough breakfast. I wondered if nearly three weeks without a bike had effected me. Were my legs too heavy with running? Teams of incredibly fast cyclists went past me over on the right and my confidence took a nose dive. I started to feel like an imposter. Who did I think I was taking on this challenge? People were flying past me and I started to feel more and more intimidated. I kept telling myself that I was going to be out for hours and hours so there was no point in pushing the pace early on, I needed to save myself for the later stages.

Then as we cycled through Newport and the bland dual carriage ways I started to feel very bored and lonely. Most of the long rides I have been on before have been with groups of people. It’s always been social and friendly. There was nothing social or friendly about this. And everything was grey. My mind was swirling the drain into negativity and was on the verge of falling into the plug hole of ‘drop out’. I have never had negative thoughts strike me so early in anything else I’ve done before.

‘You’re a runner. Why are you even here? You’re not a cyclist. You’r going to come last. You’re going to get pulled over by the marshalls for being too slow. Pull over and wait for the sweeper van’.

The negative thoughts were relentless. The scenery and my mind were murky grey. But then the landscape started to become greener and the route started to undulate. Turns out hills wake my legs up and I started to feel slightly better. Everything became far more interesting and I started to focus on the inclines and the Monmouthshire back drop rather than other cyclists. My mind filled back up with positivity and I started to enjoy myself a little bit.

TACKS!

As we cycled up another steep incline in Monmouthshire I could see that people were walking. It was a narrow road and I assumed there had been an accident. As I unclipped the call rippled back like a wave along the tide of cyclists.

TACKS!

Before the event there had been rumours that a lot of the course would be sabotaged with tacks and drawing pins. I really didn’t believe people would do such a thing until I saw the evidence on the tarmac yesterday. As soon as the call came back through the crowd and echoed back down the hill hundreds of cyclists dismounted, lifted their bikes and walked the rest of the way up the hill. Unfortunately I think some of the cyclists in front had been affected and there were men and women off to the side trying to repair the damage done.

I don’t understand why someone would go to the bother of driving the course and chucking drawing pins out their car windows. And for what? To damage the tyres of cyclists doing something rather amazing. Well, these individuals failed if they were hoping they would hurt the 15,000 cyclists on the course. The solidarity of cyclists shined through and fortunately that hill was the only evidence of sabotage on the course that I experienced.

I didn’t take the short cut

When the competitor information came through it advised cyclists that if any of the competitors on the 140km course were struggling, then they had the option to divert at 67km at a place called Little Mill. There was also a cut off point, that if you weren’t at Little Mill by 12.30 you would automatically be diverted off to take the 67km route. This had weighed heavily on my mind and I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it. In fact I think this effected my sleep quite badly the night before and it was on my mind throughout the first half of my ride.

As I rode through Monmouthshire I started ticking off the distance markers: 40km, 55km, 60km. I was going to make it before the cut off!

When we turned right at Little Mill I noticed a van and a marshall surrounded by cyclists. The marshall was giving directions for the shorter route. I noticed that some of those about to take the shorter route had gone past me many miles before. I let myself have a little cheer. For the first time in the race I actually felt good about things and I had no intention of turning off. I was nearly half way. I wanted to do the 140km. I wanted to get to The Tumble.

The Tumble

Unfortunately my hill training had been virtually non-existent. The loss of my bike for nearly three weeks meant my intended hill cycles didn’t happen. I was in no way ready for anything long and steep. But at the bottom of infamous Tumble I put my stubborn pants on and decided to have a go.

For miles and miles through Monmouthshire I had been wondering to myself ‘Where is this bloody Tumble then?’. I had never seen it but plenty of friends and cyclists had an opinion on it. I even heard cyclists talking about it among themselves as we cycled along. Local cyclists were regaling visiting cyclists with tales about the climb ahead of us.

‘I’ve done it a few times but never when I’ve had nearly 80km of riding in my legs’, I heard one guy say. ‘You’ve never done the Tumble?’ another said with disbelief as he then made a sucking in noise through his teeth followed by a sinister chuckle.

To give you an idea about what I’m fussing about the Tumble in the Brecon Beacons National Park is a 6km climb over a 10% gradient. The Tour of Britain web site even refers to it as one of the UK’s most feared climbs. I did know this before I attempted it yesterday and yet actually doing it is something else all together.

As I said I started it. I was so determined to have a good crack at it. I had come this far and I wanted to give it my best effort. I made the first corner and although my thighs were on fire I didn’t feel too bad. I found myself cycling past people which boosted my confidence. I would come out of the seat for a while, pumping my legs and then sit down to try and get some semblance of recovery (ha!). I turned the next corner and kept going. But then it all started to go wrong. Sweat was pouring into my eyes. My base layer which I had been so glad of earlier felt like it was melting me from the inside out. More and more cyclists were stopping in front of me and dismounting which meant some of my effort meant slowing, changing direction and then moving back in for the more competent cyclists. The narrow road started to feel even narrower and I started to feel dizzy and wobbly. My head felt like it was on fire and my chest felt like it was about to explode. I tried to change down a again and realised there was no where left to go. So rather than fall into the hedge or another cyclist and hold everyone up, I unclipped and got off my bike.

At first I felt ashamed and disappointed. I was cross with myself that I hadn’t got further up. But as I looked up ahead and down below I knew that I wasn’t the only one suffering. I started to push my bike, staying well over to the left, watching in awe as many other riders continued pedalling their legs off up this ‘mountain’. My calves burned as I pushed up the incline and I wondered if it would actually be just as easy to get back on. I pulled over to the side by the gate of a house where a farmer was watching us all with great amusement.

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‘I’ll get the trailer out and give some of you a lift up there’ he shouted and I wondered how many of us would have taken him on. I drank some water, stripped off my base layer and wiped the sweat and salt out of my eyes which were stinging. As I carried on, pushing my bike I took a chance to take in the surroundings. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful views I have ever set eyes on. A small scattering of supporters appeared at the side and I realised they had made the effort to hike up the Tumble to cheer on the cyclists.

When we reached the summit I don’t think I have been as happy to see a feed station in my life. Welsh cakes, bananas and water were all taken on board. I put my base layer back on as it was windy and I was now cold again.

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Many cyclists seemed to be on their phones talking to loved ones or trying to track down team members. Many sat round Keeper’s Pond having a well deserved rest. I popped my husband a quick text ‘think I’ll be done in about three hours or so‘, hopped back on my bike and made my way down the other side of the Tumble. I may have walked most of it but in hindsight it was probably for the best or I would have needed to be scraped off the floor by the sweeper van.

Bored

I never get bored when I’m running. I know lots of people say running bores them but it’s never bored me. I do get bored when I cycle though. And I got especially bored on one section of the course through Torfaen and Gwent yesterday. The boredom seems to happen on long flat roads that are surrounded by lots of concrete. One road on the way to Caerphilly seemed never ending. Was this cycling purgatory?

The numbers of cyclists had thinned out a bit and I started to wish more people were around me. It also didn’t help that support was sparse or non-existent on some parts and that I was on my own. I had no one to banter with. No one to cheer on and equally to boost me when I got low. But after digging in a bit again I knew we were nearing Caerphilly Mountain which was the last tough climb before the end.

Caerphilly Mountain

In my favour can I say that I did attempt this climb in the same way that I tried to attempt the Tumble. I had watched a video of Dani King ascend this climb on a London Boris Bike. The fact that she managed that on a heavy bike with no gears is nothing short of incredible. However in my defence, she didn’t have 70 miles of riding in her legs before doing it.

It is no surprise that I pushed my bike up it. In fact I think most people around me were doing the same. There was some giggling and chatter among the cyclists as we all commiserated with each other and then reassured each other that we were near the end. At the top of the climb there was a feed station. I could have stopped and refuelled but I was roughly 8 miles off finishing. I did some maths in my head about how long it would take, threw my leg over, clipped in and descended the Mountain.

Cow Bells

Coming back through Lisvane and Llanishen in Cardiff was wonderful. Amazingly my legs seemed to zoom over the roads and I felt a much needed second wind. People were out on the pavements with barbeques, drinks, massive banners and signs. Cow bells rang everywhere and cries of ‘you’re nearly there’ came at me from either side. I think the sound of cow bells is now one of my favourite things, especially when you know you’re near the finish of the hardest 80 plus miles of your life.

The last 500m were suddenly upon us. The crowds seemed sparse again along the finish but with the staggered nature of finish times and the road closures it’s not surprising. I could have felt underwhelmed at the lack of fanfare at the finish but I don’t think I cared. I had finished, I had picked up the medal. I just wanted to see my family. It had been a long day.

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Thoughts

I’m not a natural cyclist and I’m still very much a novice. I am I think a natural runner so this challenge took me way out of my comfort zone. To have completed it, to have at least tried the two tough climbs and to have made the whole distance makes me very proud of myself and what I have achieved. It was tougher than any running event I have done and it was mentally very draining. The fact that I didn’t stop other than at feed stations has actually revealed to me how tough I can be if I just believe in myself.

I think I underestimated the ‘take the pro-road’ element. There were some very serious riders out there yesterday. I was concerned that cyclists like me were an annoyance to the teams that were flying through and almost clipping me at speed ALL THE WAY OVER ON THE LEFT. But I was incredibly lucky in that I had no real incidents: no punctures, no chain issues, no falls. I am relatively unscathed other than a pair of stiff hips and a creaky shoulder from sitting hunched over for 7 hours 17 minutes.

I am never in the habit of checking the routes of running races, if there are hills I am confident in my ability to run up them. If I did an event like this again I would scrutinise the route a bit more and do way more hill training.

Finally, I did it. I cycled 140 km of brutal but mostly beautiful roads. It was a mixture of agony and ecstasy the entire time I was out there. 7 hours of nearly every emotion I could muster on what was literally at times a rollercoaster. If you love cycling and you love a huge challenge, physical and mental, then this event could be for you. I have never said never again after a marathon. I did yesterday. But last night an email popped into my message box:

Pre-registration for Velothon Wales 2016 is now live…..

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Thank you to everyone from Velothon Wales for making it a great day.

P.S If you like my cycling jersey it’s from Chapeau!

P.P.S Thank you to the guys at Ride Bike Wales for getting my replacement bike ready in time for yesterday’s antics.

Two Wheeled Tantrum

I have been sat at the computer looking through the Velothon Wales information, having an absolute paddy. It’s bad enough that I haven’t been able to ride for the last two weeks but I’m now concerned that my legs won’t make it to one of the check points in enough time.

I’m starting at 8.40 in Cardiff. Riders have to make it to a place called Little Mill by 12.30. Little Mill is 67km out. If you haven’t made it there by the set time you get turned onto a shorter route. It is assumed that if you haven’t made it, it’s because you haven’t kept up with the 19km/hr minimum required speed.

I have been sat doing some maths. I’ve been checking my Strava rides and what my average speed is. I’ve been doing sums on the calculator, converting kilometers to miles and back again. I had hoped that I would be starting earlier but by putting me at 8.40am I feel like I’m at a massive disadvantage. And so I’ve had a bit of a tantrum. I don’t want to be beaten by the pacer car. I don’t want the marshalls to have to tell me to take the shorter route and I really don’t want to be taken back to Cardiff on the sweeper bus, I want to make it back on my bike. Broken no doubt, but on my bike.

I should also mention the bad dream I had about the Tumble in Abergavenny. In my dream I am cycling up the Tumble but never quite reaching the top of the summit. It was a never ending climb. I woke up in a bit of a sweat.

My preparation over the last two weeks has been awful. I haven’t been on my turbo or my old bike. I’ve been running and swimming. Monday I met a friend and did a new kettlebell class. I would never have tried a new class in the lead up to a marathon and yet the week before my first big sportive I choose to do something that daft. My sore legs are reminding me what an idiot I am.

Right now I am so out of my comfort zone it’s not even funny. I need to woman the f*** up and get in touch with my tougher, stubborn, inner marathoner. I will finish the 140km. I will get up the Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain. I will stay in front of the pacer car. And most of all I will enjoy the ride and the experience. First of all I need to sort the small matter of picking up my bike and then I can look forward to Sunday.

Loving Short Shorts: Things I’ve Tried

I love shorts weather. May was a bit chilly and at times the wind felt quite icy here in Wales so I would often chicken out and where leggings and capris. But finally we have some ‘Sun’s Out, Legs Out’ weather. Once I’m running in shorts I really feel like summer could be on the way.

I have a few pair of shorts, mainly by a brand that I’m not naming and is now on my personal blacklist for purchasing running gear. Which means I need to branch out into other brands. Once you’ve got used to one type of gear it can always be a bit awkward looking at new names. In recent weeks though I have been able to give a couple of new shorts from both ends of the price scale a road test.

Helly Hansen VTR Soft Shorts £35.00

When I was contacted by Beki at Helly Hansen to test some of their running gear I honestly wasn’t sure. I didn’t pitch Helly Hansen as being involved in the design of running gear, picturing the Norweigen brand as being almost exclusively into skiing and sailing. However I was intrigued and keen to have a go.

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I was pleasantly surprised by these shorts. They are indeed very soft. I can often find myself fiddling with the waist band of a lot of shorts but  it wasn’t the case with these. The waist band is really comfortable and while I’m running I’m not ‘aware’ of them at all, which I always think is a good sign.

There is a lining like most other shorts of this style, which is handy because the hem line of the shorts scallop a little bit at the back. To me this made them a bit ‘skort’ like. I’ve never been fussed to try a skort so this is a good compromise for me. There is a small pocket in the back of the waist band for a key and maybe some change or a folded up note but nothing else. Since I started cycling I have an obsession with pockets so if these shorts needed anything I would say another pocket in the waist band.

These shorts are incredibly comfortable to the point that I’m not in a rush to take them off. The waist bands of other shorts can become really sweaty and uncomfortable but not so with these. The lining doesn’t pinch either which is something I’ve found with other lined shorts. I would easily wear them for other sports too. But not cycling, no padding and not enough snack pockets. The X Cool fabric did keep me cool but this feature isn’t unique to Helly Hansen as most brands now use wicking type fabric.

At £35.00 they are at a similar pitch to the ‘brand that shall not be named’ but maybe more reasonable than other brands which offer similar soft shorts at above £50. I would say that they run true to size. If you’re looking for a comfortable, flattering, no frills, functional pair of shorts then these might be up your street. I would definitely consider them as a race day short.

Kalenji Elioplay Tight Shorts £10.99

A few weeks ago I made my first visit to Decathlon. I had intended to buy a wet suit for myself but came away instead with bags full of sports gear and equipment for the boys plus a few bits of running gear for myself. And at the price how could I not: £10.99 people! The Elioplay shorts are part of French brand Kalenji’s Elioplay collection which have been designed to allow runner’s to listen to music with ease.

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I usually go for the baggy type of race shorts, I’m not a tight shorts person, however these were a compromise for me. Not too short to be obscene but not too long to make me look like Mr Motivator (if you’re over 35 you’ll remember). I’m not really into listening to music while I run very often but the pocket on the right leg intended for runner’s to use for their music players was a snug fit for my Samsung. They’ve washed pretty well too which I am surprised at with the price being at the lower end of the scale and they haven’t shown any sign of bobbling. I’m a size 8 and wear the XS which isn’t me showing how ‘small’ I am, rather their sizes seem to come up fairly roomy as opposed to other running brands which are apparently doing a TopShop and are sizing things smaller and smaller.

Overall, these are a pretty nice pair of running shorts for summer and they leave you with a bit of change for a vest and maybe a t-shirt too! The only down side for me is that Kalenji is exclusive to Decathlon in the UK so it’s either online shopping or an excuse to pop to Canada Water when I visit London.

Both pairs of shorts are going to feature for the next few months as long as long as the sun stays out. Roll on Summer, may the sunny days last so the legs can go from porcelain to magnolia!

This is a review post. I purchased the Kalenji Elioplay shorts myself from Decathlon. I was sent the VTR soft shorts to review by Helly Hansen. I have not been paid for this post and all words, views and opinions are my own. 

After Panorama

Last night the BBC aired a Panorama documentary called Catch Me If You Can. In a collaboration between Mark Daly of the BBC and David Epstein of Propublica. You can find the web articles at the following links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32877702

https://www.propublica.org/article/former-team-members-accuse-coach-alberto-salazar-of-breaking-drug-rules

Watching the reactions on social media were quite interesting. There was a mixture of those who were incandescent with rage and those who were shouting ‘I knew it!’ or ‘I’m not surprised’.

I didn’t comment last night while watching. I just felt incredibly sad. Yet again doping allegations tarnish the sport. It’s not just about individuals either, it’s about power houses in the sport who have a huge amount of control and say. It’s not just athletes, it’s coaches and doctors and huge global companies with massive amounts of clout. It made really depressing viewing.

What is did bring home is how inept the current systems of doping detection are. Bodies in individual countries are brought allegations and yet refuse to act. The biological passport seems almost pointless because people are learning how to cheat it. Coaches are allegedly doping very young athletes at low levels, potentially harming them for the long term and nothing is said. Individuals are used as guinea pigs to work out how much is enough to make a clean test making current tests as good as worthless. The doping authorities seem to have an impossible job on their hands but when it is apparently a structured attempt to cheat the system by coaches, labs, doctors and companies then what real chance do they have? It’s almost got the whiff of East Germany about it.

There is a Diamond League event on in Rome tonight. Yesterday I was thinking what is the point of watching but then I remembered I’m one of these optimistic people who has a ridiculous amount of faith in people and their ability to be good. I also remembered that for every doper there are about fifty athletes who despise dopers and are very vocal about the fact. Athletes like Jenny Meadows, Kelly Sotherton, Jo Pavey, Paula Radcliffe and many others will always restore my faith in athletics and the fact that it is an incredible sport full of honest, clean, hard working athletes. I will continue to hold on to this and that is what keeps me watching. In the mean time I hope that the truth will out and that dopers and the organisations and individuals that assist them will be thrown out of sport. Here’s hoping.