Saturday, May 14, 2016

RACE REPORT: Billingeracet 2016 -- "Gilla läget"

Wow! Quiet on the blog for awhile despite that we've already competed together in Rock the Trail (which we cycled in the wrong direction!) and David has even squeezed in Lindingöloppet MTB (which he killed this year, according to my commentary on Instagram). Today was Billingeracet which David reported on in 2015 concluding that the prospects for a 2016 entry could be summarized as: "If you asked me directly after the race it was a definite NO WAY". Ha ha, and there we were this morning (both of us this year!) shivering in the 3ºC foggy and slightly rainy conditions,

11:00 was the start and off we were in group 6 (David) and group 7 (Jon). The start of the race is a long uphill asphalt road with a huge pack of cyclists. I settled in behind a Magnus Johansson (bib 811) who had a good pace and provided a little break from the wind. Then we abruptly turned into the woods on the left and a huge bottleneck ensued as the course turned to a single track with hundreds of people trying to climb a pretty technical hill (many were walking) all at different paces and with different skill levels. The early part of the race was basically like the start of a Blodomloppet....there was no chance to choose your own pace so you just had to "gilla läget" as Swedes say and rest assured in the fact that you weren't about to burn out early.

Slowly but steadily the field broke up and we alternated between sections of single track and transport sections which consisted of gravel roads and even bits of asphalt here and there. I kept to my strategy of picking up pelotons that were moving slightly above my natural speed in order to push a little extra on those stretches. At least four or five times during the race I managed to catch onto groups that were moving upwards of 30 kph and it felt great to stretch the legs and take advantage of the nice air pockets created by guys like Emil Aggefors (bib 1001). (I also tried to return the favor. At one point around the 40 km I was out on a long stretch with just one other cyclist. I had been drafting him for awhile on a gravel road, and I felt great. As we turned onto an asphalt stretch, I pulled around him assuming that he wouldn't mind a break himself. But he never settled in behind me and as we approached a right turn onto a gravel road, he just cut the corner and pulled in front of me again, so once again I found myself enjoying the wake created by someone else who apparently didn't want to save a little energy for later!)

Four times I stopped during the course--once around 20 km to stretch and eat a bit, once at each of the depots at 40 km and 50 km and finally around 65 km when I felt that my legs needed a stretch unless I wanted to risk a debilitating cramp. Stopping can seem like a bad decision in a timed race, but actually a couple of minutes off the saddle make a real difference in keeping the legs feeling fresh and my theory is that the breaks waste less time than trying to massage out a cramp on the side of the course.

I must say that despite the weather I really enjoyed the day. The course passes through very beautiful forests and at one point I spent about 30 minutes completely alone on a single track listening to birds chirp and the sounds of water bubbling through creeks. At the 60 km mark I got a huge boost as David's son Ollie and both of his uncles (Ollie's uncles that is) were standing by the side of the course cheering me on. What a lift to see them there smiling and shouting words of encouragement!

By the 70th km David and I were riding side by side and I was having delusional visions of us crossing the finish line together as we've previously done in Åre. But alas my visions were indeed delusional as we made a sharp turn onto the final hill and I got caught off guard by the steep grade. I shifted too late and my gears ground against the strain of my pedaling. SNAP! went my chain leaving me to walk, coast and skate the last 1 km. What to do? What can you do? "Gilla läget" the Swedes say. So I stopped and took this selfie next to the 1 km sign, chain in hand and a smile on my face. As I pumped my bike towards the finish line (like a skateboard), a guardian angel named Carl-Johan Appelberg (bib 713) rode up beside me, told me to get up on my saddle and then proceeded to grab the handle on the top of my Camelbak, towing me across the finish line.  

David says he won't go back next year, but we'll see about that. :-) 
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Monday, January 25, 2016

Early thoughts on a 2016 race calendar

It may only be January and we've been living under a blanket of snow for the past 4 weeks with temps down to -22C at times, but Spring is just around the corner (ever the optimist!!) and April will be here in just 8-9 weeks time. We will return to some of our favourite events from the past couple of years and try and get to some new ones too, time & family commitments permitting.

Below is our first attempt at some thoughts we have (we may not manage all of these), but there are one or two others which take our fancy too which we'll add to the list if we can make things happen. The green marked ones are definites :) Maybe we can motivate and inspire some others to join us for these events too..that would be a blast!

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Keeping momentum

As I wrote in my earlier post, I began the year how I ended the last, with a lot of energy and focus...and I'm pleased to say I've carried that momentum forward throughout the month with a wide and varied training plan. 

My goal of Q1 is to spend more time in the gym building strength in key muscle groups whilst mixing that up with slow outdoor running & speed work on the treadmill. I've had the added bonus to throw in a few classes which I enjoyed from the #TFMADVENT activity in December, returning to Patrik's Box, Gunnar's Muskel, Nadia's Soma Move & Erik's Spin

However, Looking back on the month so far and planning out February, I've noticed I need to re-focus a little more on the strength side and get an increased momentum back towards the "Styrketräning för cyklister" program which served me so well in 2015. 
It's been a really fun month trying out some new exercises in the CORE sessions as well as mixing them up with some old ones too...I could certainly feel those the next couple of days after! 

As ever, keeping fit and healthy is based around finding time between family & work life and piecing bits together where you can. Whether it's a 05:45 alarm clock whilst everyone is sleeping, a session after everyone has gone to bed, a lunchtime run or a snatched quick lunchtime walk, they all count. Planning out the week ahead is always a puzzle and this coming week will be no different than any other. Hopefully will fit in at least one early morning session, a lunchtime run, a quick lunch walk, some time in the pool whilst waiting for my son at swimming lesson and finally a couple of days with my boys skiing to round off the week.

To finish off for now, yesterday I managed to complete something I'd been wanting to do for many years but never found the opportunity. I ran on the lake! With my Icebug Anima2 shoes, this enabled me to run with total security of not slipping on the ice. What a lot of fun, I'll probably do it again before the winter is out...just because I can :)   Train FUN !!

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

A varied training regime over Christmas & New Year

After a fun and varied December with our #TFMADVENT activity, I've kept that healthy momentum rolling throughout the Christmas period and into the New Year.
With what is now becoming a tradition for me on the 25th, I donned the running shoes and headed out to the forest for a "mince pie" run before handling the preparations for the family Christmas Dinner later in the day. It had been a while since I'd been outdoors running, December's activity had taken up all my training time which was all spent indoors. With the weather being +5C, the sun peeking through the clouds and a slight breeze, it was like the Christmas days of my youth spent on the north west coast of England.
I also managed to get out on the mountain bike around the eljusspår for a good frosty and crispy technical ride at the weekend before the snow came later that evening.
More running, trekking & alpine skiing continued between the holidays and it was fun to be back outside again in the crispy, snowy environment. I wanted to carry forward all that energy I was feeling and in FW1 continued to really vary the training with a Muskel class, swimming, some interval & tabata's on the treadmill, an awesome and thoroughly enjoyable BOX class again (was a BONUS class in TFMADVENT), and rounded off the week with a great Fredags Klubben SPIN with Erik. 
I'm continuing to look forward to the weeks ahead and carrying that momentum onward. My goal for Q1 is to spend more time in the gym building strength in the key muscle groups which will be used throughout the year ahead, get outdoors for some long slow runs whilst mixing that up with some speed work (more likely that'll be on the treadmill) AND as I enjoyed many of the classes in December, as time allows I'll be trying to puzzle in some of them alongside family commitments. If I can fit in some time on the bike, whether that be on the indoor trainer, a SPIN class or best of all on the mountain bike then that'll be the icing on the cake :)

It's also worthwhile, taking a look back at some of the fun activities of 2015 with every picture holding a fun story or a great memory. There'll be many more of those during 2016!!
Train fun!
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

The benefits of walking

Walking is one of the simplest ways to get out and exercise. It can be done anywhere, costs nothing and strengthens your heart, lowers your blood pressure and increases your bone mass. In fact, some evidence exists that walking is in fact better for your health than running. Recently, the UK's National Health Service started the 10,000 steps challenge in an effort to get people out and moving.

Personally, I've never been much of a walker, but this year we added a puppy to the family and this means that walking has become a regular (albeit unintentional) part of my exercise routine. My wife told me today that I've taken up walking because walking now has a purpose, whereas before our dog I found walking to be somewhat aimless. (After a bit of reflection, I realize that this is probably true.) My wife hypothesizes as well that this view of walking is typical for most men. (Also probably true.)

I compared my walking habits in 2014 to 2015 recently by looking back over my Movescount history. In 2014, I walked (as a form of exercise, not as as a part of my daily motion) a total of 52 km. This year, in December alone, I've walked about the same distance (56 km) and in doing so burned about 4,500 calories. Not bad for an activity that I have to do anyway! And again, that doesn't include my daily walking around at work, or even the little walks I take with our dog before bedtime or after breakfast.

Perhaps one of the best parts about walking is its versatility. Done alone, walking offers a chance to gather thoughts, reflect on the day and plan for the future. Done with a friend or in a group, it is an opportunity for conversation and relationship-building. Walking can be done at any age, from young to old, and as such it is a sustainable form of exercise that you can continue with late into life. And walking can be done in the forest, around town, or even indoors.

Output of the Apple Health app
If you're interested in tracking your walking, there are lots of options available. David and I are both owners of Suunto watches but these are a bit of overkill if walking is your first choice for exercise. David also recently started wearing a FitBit Charge HR--a little less expensive and designed to be worn all the time. But for most people, the Apple Health app which is built into your iPhone is plenty and you already have it for free. As long as you have your iPhone on your person, the Health app is tracking your steps. I've tested the accuracy of the distance calculation (which is doing some sort of step x estimated step length calculation), and I think it generally overestimates my distance walked, but it's the trend not the absolute number that's most important anyway.

Thinking about a New Year's resolution? Consider adding a daily walk to your routine. 
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

God Jul - 24th December (David & Jon)

We've had a great time following all the various classes throughout advent, but we mustn't forget to thank Elisabeth who helped arrange all the bookings for us and kept us updated on any changes and extra activities which may occur. THANKS Elisabeth :)

We must also say a big THANKS to Niki & Anna for supporting us not only this past month but the past few years. You guys ROCK! you just need to decide on Åre :)

Finally a big THANKS to all the AWESOME Form personnel whom have taken the classes or stopped and chatted to us about what we were up to. It was fun to have met new faces and we really felt welcomed by you all.

We hope you've all enjoyed reading our thoughts this past month and will continue to pop-back and follow what we are up to throughout 2016. We're very much hoping to arrange some "Train with Team Form Multisport" days in the Spring where you can come and test out multisport. We'll have sessions for trail running and mountain biking and maybe some kayaking thrown in (when the water in Valloxen is a little warmer!). Keep your eyes out for details of those early in 2016.

In the meantime why not check out our Facebook page...

Or check us out on Instagram:

Here's a quick recap of all we have been up to this month....Train Fun!!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Korrektiv Funktionell Styrka - 23rd December (David)

Korrektiv Funktionell Styrka - Ellinor

Day 23 of #TFMADVENT and today it was not "Jedi Training", it was Korrektiv Funktionell Styrka or KFS for short. "Why would you think it was Jedi training?" you're maybe thinking.

I actually had no idea of what KFS was to entail this morning. I was however hoping it wasn't another round of circuit training as getting out of bed at 05:55am I was starting to feel the effects of 2 tough classes in a row, Niki's cirkel and Kasper's cirkelpuls. It's the day before Christmas Eve and at this early hour, just the four of us were signed up for the morning class, but it would be four who would not leave disappointed. We began by taking a wooden pole and my coffee deprived mind, admittedly not in it's fully functional state, just kept screaming "JEDI training, it's JEDI training!!". It turned out however not to be so. The pole was not to be used on the other participants and we were not to fly around the room using "The Force". It was to be used for the more 'normal' purpose of some warm-up twists! The music also told me this was not going to be a cardio pass, it was calm and of a medium volume, not a loud rendition of AC/DC Thunderstruck like yesterday!

Ellinor took us through some twists to loosen up the mid-section, then into some static lunges with the pole held tight vertically against your spine to ensure the optimal posture through the exercise.
If you haven't tried that, I'd advise you to give it a go...take a broom handle (or a lightsaber if you have one!) and try it out at home, it really makes you focus through the motion and engages the CORE.
We then laid on the yoga mat and focused on our breathing, deep into the belly then when breathing out tensing the part under the navel with a "Tssssssssssss" sound (that was a feature sound of the day). 

Lifting and holding our feet just 1 cm off the ground hit the spot after a while and it was that 'spot' that would be hit time after time in the remaining minutes. The pilates ball came into play rolling out to a near plank several times whilst focusing on posture before some 'spiderman', pike push-ups & finally some ball passing. These last ones are my favourite and make up a section of my "styrketräning för cyklister" program from Anna & Niki. They really make your CORE work hard and you certainly "feel the burn" after a couple of sets.

During the class Ellinor motivated you, walking around to make sure we all had the correct posture and pepping us with a "Heja Ho". This was the perfect class to have this morning and a great way to start the day. Knivsta folk...make your way down to Form for this early morning class, you will not leave disappointed.
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