Local Adventure Spots- New Forest Part 2: Godshill

Byollydrew

Local Adventure Spots- New Forest Part 2: Godshill

Welcome to our next installment into local adventure spots. This blog focuses on an area on The Training Adventure’s doorstep- the New Forest, more specifically the trails in the valleys of Godshill, east of Fordingbridge. The valley is just south of the B0378, and there are numerous car parks to pull of the road and hit the trails-of which there are a multitude! The trails are perfect for running, hiking and off road biking. As well as this, there is plenty of open space (and timber) for some great outdoor workouts. As well as this, it’s a great place for hill training, whether running or rucking, a rarity in this part of the world.

Dave and his dog Blue, who was having a grump after having run so far!

Suggested Adventure:

Parking at the ‘Ashley Walk’ Car Park, jump straight on the trail running down into the valley, across the bridge at the bottom, and up the other side onto the ridge line on the far side. From there follow the trail down and to the right into the Pitts Wood Inclosure. Follow the paths through here and out the other side of the block, heading up onto the path onto Hampton Ridge. From here follow  the path along the ridge line until this path converges with 3 others, at the Trig-point (seen below).

Looking across the valley from one of the ridge lines

From there take the trail leading back into the valley, toward Ditchend, and the brook. Once you reach the brook and the ford, you can either follow the brook back to the bridge you crossed at the start of the run/hike, or you can turn left, up the side of the valley, and follow the path at the top back along to the car park. All in all this is about an 8 km route, with plenty of undulation, good views and fun running!

Crossroads Trig-point.

Byollydrew

Event Review- AEE’s Fan Dance Race Series

The Fan Dance. A test that is the cornerstone of British Special Forces selection. Since 2013 thanks to the fine folks at Avalanche Endurance Events it has been possible for civilians to attempt this course, under conditions as close as possible as to what those attempting selection for real go through.

“The Fan Dance is a grueling 24km non-navigational race over two sides of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. This infamous route has long been a part of SAS (Special Air Service) and SBS (Special Boat Service) Selection and is considered the yardstick of a candidate’s potential to perform well on Test Week and ultimately pass the Special Forces Selection programme.” AEE Briefing Information

The course itself is 24km on an out and back route over Pen-Y-Fan, in the Brecon Beacons. Unlike the latter parts of SF selection, there is little in the way of navigational requirements. However it’s still recommended to have a map of the route and compass to hand, and not just follow the people in front! Several members of The Training Adventure have undertaken this challenge on multiple occasions, including myself (Olly 5 attempts and 4 finishes), Dave (3 finishes), Naomi, Lisa, Scott (2 finishes), Craig (4 finishes) and numerous others dragged along and ‘encouraged’ into taking on the challenge. As several of us have undertaken this on numerous occasions, this review will be more of an overview of the event in general, as opposed to a review of a specific iteration of the event.

Olly and Craig Tabbing along the ridge toward RV1 at the Fan summit Winter 2015 Fan Dance

The anticipation and build up for the Fan is the same every time I book onto it. Soon after you are signed up, a series of emails arrive into your inbox, covering the important aspects of preparing for the event. Kit requirements, fitness and training advice, and as equally important, an email outlining the event, and it’s history and pedigree.

Start point at the Storey Arms, where everyone gathers nervously awaiting the start!

When the day of the event comes around, it’s an early start. Arriving at the race HQ, the Storey Arms Activity Centre in the dark, you head up to find the check-in tent by torch light, and nervously hanging your Bergen on the weighing scales with a UKSF veteran member of the Directing Staff (DS) checking to make sure you make weight (35lb plus food and water). Everything is well organised and thought out with the expected military precision.

Then it’s a case of ‘hurry up and wait’ until everyone is checked in, and everyone is then herded past the iconic old red phone box for the safety briefing, usually framed by dark skies and falling rain or snow (summer or winter it’s the same!). Usually at this point, surrounded by a few hundred fit and determined looking people, it either goes 1 of 2 ways. Either the excitement creeps in, and the adrenaline starts flowing, or doubt seeps through you, and you wonder whether you’re prepared enough!

Before you know it, the safety brief is over, everyone is lining up on the cobbled path, staring straight up at the side of Corn Du, with the Fan summit hidden away behind. Then you are off. Climbing straight up pretty much toward the fan on the path leading from the Storey Arms. The climb to Corn Du is broken only twice, once to drop down from a false summit about half way up, only to climb up an even steeper path, up to the first Mountain Safety Team (MST) station, and a second time just before the ridgeline, where you track right and then left under and up to the ridgeline between Corn Du and the Fan summit. Once you reach Corn Du the going is easier up to RV1 on the summit of Pen-Y-Fan. This is one of my favourite views, as you can see down into the valley towards the reservoirs, all the way to RV2. This can be seen in the photos above and below.

Looking south from near the Fan summit down toward the turn around point at RV2. The Roman road can just be seen off to the left of the photo.

At RV1 you wait to give your race number to the DS manning the RV, usually accompanied by the Doc from the DS team, who keeps an eagle eye on participants to make sure all are safe to continue.

After checking in, you drop off the Fan summit, down the steep steps of Jacobs ladder. The brave run down this, others take their time, especially in the winter snow and ice! From here you can get your TAB on around the base of Cribyn to the Windy Gap, past the MST member always stationed here, and the long slog down the Roman Road to RV2. If you’re going for it, the Roman Road is the place you can make up time. Slightly downhill on the way to RV2, you can TAB/run this all of the way in, past the forestry blocks and onto the track into the checkpoint by the old railway.

Craig getting on it during the Winter 2018 Fan Dance

At RV2 the check in process is the same, race number is given, followed by some check up questions by the DS. Those looking for a good time are straight back out again, usually ‘encouraged on’ by some choice words from the DS! You can stop here though and get some food on-board, as well as topping up water from provided Jerry-cans if needed. From there it’s about face, and reverse the route!

The Roman Road now feels 10 times longer, and the decline you didn’t notice coming into RV2 is now a small but steady incline that encourages you to slow down all the way back to Jacob’s ladder. However if you’re going for it, you push just as hard going back toward windy gap as you do on the way down. I always hope that the weather is shit during this bit, as if the clag is in, it means you can’t see what is coming, and can just crack on without the mind playing games with you! Chucking a left back around the base of Cribyn toward the base of Jacob’s Ladder is always fun, and if the weather has been it’s usual (rain/snow and wind) this ‘path’ is usually just a stream with rocks sticking out by this point.

Reaching the base of Jacobs Ladder, the fun begins. This is a steep climb up uneven stone steps all the way back to the RV on the summit. Completely exposed, any wind (which there always is!) tugs at your clothes and the lump of bergen on your back, trying to blow you off your feet! Reaching the top of Jacobs ladder is a great feeling though, and after a quick check in at the RV, for me it’s always get your head down and get the last leg into the red phone box done! The final descent down is always tough on tired legs, especially as the finish comes into sight on the final downhill.

The finish is the way it should be. A handshake and a patch from Ken, followed by the best hog roast and beer you will ever taste!

Olly receiving his finishers patch from AEE founder Ken Jones, Winter 2017 Fan Dance. Note the famous red phone box of the Storey Arms in the background

The Fan Dance is an experience that no-one I’ve met who has done it has ever regretted. It teaches you lessons about mental fortitude, perseverance and how far you can push yourself. Furthermore the organisers at AEE are top notch, and although this is designed as it should be-a physical and mental challenge, the backstop work that goes on around the event to make sure that all participants are kept safe is nothing short of incredible. On the hills are not only the RV’s themselves, but stragically positioned members of the company’s Mountain Safety Team. These are backed up by a military grade radio communications network, a rescue and medical team, and even Commandos from the Royal Marines Reserve on at least one winter Fan that I have taken part in.

If you ever want something to test your physical and mental fortitude and endurance, the Fan Dance is the place to do just that.

Dave proudly displaying his well earned finishers patch Winter 2015 Fan Dance (first of 3!)

Byollydrew

The Training Adventure Sessions- Outdoor Workouts

Today’s blog is looking at the next in our training sessions series-Outdoor Workouts.

So these sessions are very much focused on what we can carry, what we can utilise in the landscape around us. They are a great alternative, or supplementary to training indoors in a gym or class environment. They are team based workouts designed to build functional core strength, strength endurance and power, to help stay healthy, and support both day to day life, and the other fun stuff we like to do in the outdoors!

TTA Original Dave (and Katja in the background!) putting some time in on the log!

Who are the sessions for?

These sessions are for anyone who wants to give them a go! At this point in time (December 2018) we are only just starting these sessions off, so it’s a little bit of trial and error, but all workouts will be adapted to the abilities of the individuals who come along! We will be using sandbags and kettlebells that we carry with us, but also stuff we find along the way, such as logs, rocks, rivers and lakes, hills and trees! This is what we aim for at The Training Adventure. Getting a good group of people together to have adventures in wonderful places, near and far. Carrying some weight whilst you’re doing it is going to help build leg and core strength, so you’re getting in some fitness at the same time. Great huh?

How do I get involved?

Simple- drop us a message via our Facebook page, instagram or email us. As long as you’ve got that will to give it a try, we’ll help and support pretty much anyone!

Byollydrew

The Art of Breath

Today’s post is the next in our series on workshops and certifications attended by TTA members. Myself (Olly) and Dave attended the Art of Breath 1 day clinic back in April, by PowerSpeedEndurance. The clinic was hosted by CrossFit Perpetua in Battersea, London.

I have been following Brian Mackenzie, the co founder of PowerSpeedEndurance (PSE) for a fair few years, ever since he ran CrossFit Endurance, and took the CrossFit Endurance (CFE) trainers course back in 2013. Indeed I was starting the process of interning to become a trainer for CFE in 2015 when it ceased to exist, and PSE was born shortly after.

Seeing the evolution of Brian’s thoughts from training for endurance athletes, to his work with XPT, then through the experiments with the Training Mask and into breath and heat/cold was fascinating, and along with Dave I started playing with these concepts over the last year or so, gleaning what we could from the information being posted online.

When the Art of Breath was released as a clinic, I knew it was something I wanted to attend.

But what is the clinic, and what was it all about?

In their own words, the purpose of the clinic was:

In less than a day you can learn the exact tools to perform better, manage stress & improve health.

Imagine being able to mix it with the big dogs in a workout and not get gassed.

Imagine being able to reduce your stress in less than 10 minutes in the comfort of your own home or at your work desk.

 Imagine being able to maximise your Oxygen usage to become a fatigue resistant machine.
 You can do all this. But you need the tools. That is where the Art of Breath comes in.

Watching videos on the early clinics, reading about them on social media, and on the PSE website, I was excited!

The London clinic was announced for April 2018, and thanks to a cheeky holiday discount, I signed up pretty much straight away, then convinced Dave to.

The clinic participants (photo courtesy of PowerSpeedEndurance)

The London clinic was being run by AoB co founder Rob Wilson, and he was assisted by Charles Oxley, one of PSE’s coaches. It was looking to be a full day, starting at 0800 and finishing around 1730, once questions and answers had finished.

So how was it?

In short-bloody brilliant!

The passion for the subject by Rob was clear, and his delivery was excellent. It was well thought out, concise, and easy to understand in my view. He regularly stopped to ask questions as required, and taught the theoretical parts in a very interactive style. This combined a slide presentation with Q&A and illustrating points with diagrams and illustrations as needed.

Without giving too much away, the day was broken down as follows:

Introduction and up-regulation breathing (we were doing breathing drills from about minute 5!)

The theory and physiology related to breath-What breath is linked to and what it can control.

The importance of the diaphragm

How to improve your breathing mechanics, and overall performance.

Practical tests and workouts for improving breath mechanics.

I felt I left having learnt a huge amount, but also had a clear path as to how to start implementing what I had learned on myself, and also with those I train with and coach. This was not only in the sense of improving performance, but also lifestyle, mental wellbeing and health also.

Both Rob and Charles were awesome, and the course well thought out and presented. I would recommend it 100%.

Byollydrew

Gear Review: GORUCK Rucker 1.0

Today’s post is the first in a series of posts looking at the gear that gets used and abused on different adventures by members of The Training Adventure.

The focus of this post is looking at GORUCK’s ‘Rucker‘ day sack. This bag has been my everyday bag, and training/event ruck for the last 2 years.

From GORUCK’s website: ‘The Rucker® is an active day ruck. Perfect for rucking and the GORUCK Challenge. It integrates with Expert Ruck Plates, which, unlike laptops, don’t break. And if any other company had built the Rucker®, they’d call it a laptop bag, and probably the best ever.’

So basically its a 21L bag designed to carry weight, but at the same time isn’t the size of a house and can be used everyday. The ruck is the same design as GORUCK’s flagship bag, the GR1, but whereas the GR1 is designed as a proper EDC back with a laptop compartment, the Rucker is designed purely as a training bag.

(Note, the Rucker 1.0 is no longer produced, with the Rucker 2.0 being released this year. However the bags are very similar, with a few modifications on the 2.0 that I will list at the end of the article)

Breaking it down, the rucker is made from 1000 denier Cordura, which is ultra strong ‘military grade material’, and is listed as ‘rain resistant’. I personally can attest to this being the case, having used this on many occasions in some pretty miserable weather! The Rucker also features robust YKK zippers that can take a hell of a lot more force than anything the average person will be able to put on them!

The bag is designed in a clam-shell design, so it folds completely open. This makes it very easy to pack kit into the bag, but also to access the stuff at the bottom! On the outside of the bag there is an external integrated pocket, with a slanted zip closure. This is big enough for things like keys, wallet and snacks. Above the slanted pocket is a central 3×2″ Velcro rectangle for application of your favorite patch. It also has 3 rows of MOLLE webbing around the outside of the bag, which does allow for the attachment of pouches to the exterior to enable you to add extra load carriage if needed (see pic below). You can also use the side MOLLE to attached a hip belt, an optional extra that you can buy separately from GORUCK. The top of the Rucker features a heavy duty grab handle, and a Velcro covered port for a hydration bladder tube. The shoulder straps are fairly wide, well padded for comfort, and slightly curved to fit the body.

Outside front of the Rucker 1.0

Inside against the back of the ruck, there are 2 elasticated rectangular pouches which are designed to hold 1 or 2 of GORUCK’s rucking plates. It can comfortably hold 20 or 30lb plates, and has a Velcro strap over the top of the pockets to secure the plates down. If you’re using the bag in an everyday capacity, these pockets also securely hold A4 sizes notebooks securely, and stops them getting crumpled in the main compartment. They can also hold a mid sized laptop, but there is no padding or protection for this, so this is not necessarily recommended. Built in behind the plate holders is an integrated frame sheet, to give some support and rigidity to the Rucker when wearing it. Above the ruck plate pouches is a poppered fabric loop, which you can hang a hydration bladder from.

Inside plate pockets with velcro closure

Finally on the inside of the front flap, there are 2 zip-closure gear pockets. The top one is smaller and is good for things like a head torch, multi-tool, or pens etc. The bottom is mesh and larger, and I personally keep a small individual First Aid Kit in there.

Inside front flap storage pockets

From my own experiences (I’ve had my Rucker for about 2 years now) it is an awesome ruck for adventures. Whether that is rucking/hiking, biking, climbing, or as a day bag on holiday or a day trip, it holds all you need, and nothing you don’t. On a ruck I can comfortably get ruck plates, a 2-3l hydration bladder, snacks, waterproofs and an extra layer or 2 in the main compartment with no issues. I will be using this ruck for the GORUCK Normandy STAR Course next June, a 75km point to point event to be completed in under 20 hours. My team mates will all be using Rucker 2.0’s.

It works well as a gym bag. My usual gym contents are a pair of weightlifting shoes, protein shaker, water bottle, wraps and grips, towel and wash kit and clean clothes. All which fit in no dramas. It’s my everyday work back, and as a PTI it fits food for the day, a couple of changes of kit, wash kit, towel and trainers.

So there you have it, the GORUCK Rucker 1.0 great ruck for training and events, without carrying a house on your back.

See the video below on the Rucker 2.0 and the differences between this and the Rucker 1.0

Rucker 1.0 vs Rucker 2.0

Byollydrew

Avalanche Endurance Events Navigation Training Days

This article is the first in a series devoted to courses, certifications and workshops that members of The Training Adventure have attended, mainly by myself (Olly), at least to start!

One of the things I am big on both personally and as a coach is continued learning. As someone who is passionate about the outdoors and hiking, there are 3 things I consider to be important for regular and extended trips into the landscape.

  • Navigation Skills- Knowing where you are and where you are going, plus how to get there.
  • First Aid- Basic life saving skills suitable for the environment you are in. CPR, bleed treatment, choking procedures, dealing with broken bones and sprains.
  • Basic bushcraft and survival knowledge- If you get stuck somewhere, how do you keep warm, dry, hydrated and fed

This article covers developing my knowledge of the first point, navigation. I had accumulated some basic knowledge of navigation just by reading and teaching myself, however getting some quality instruction and some practical instruction was needed to really understand the skill of navigation.

Enter the guys at Avalanche Endurance Events. I first heard of AEE back in 2014, when a friend asked if I would do their Fan Dance event in July with him. I’d heard of the Fan Dance before whilst reading about special forces selection, but didn’t realise there was a way for civilians to have a go. I said yes, and 5 attempts and 4 completions later, the guys at AEE had solidified in my mind that they were a group of serious and committed professionals running a great series of events and training. I’ll give my verdict (tough but awesome) in a future blog.

My first Fan Dance finishers patch, earned July 2014

In 2016 I was considering taking the next step and attempting one of AEE’s test week marches (more on this in another blog!) The test week marches are all self navigated affairs in the Brecon Beacons and Elan Valley, so this was the final kick needed to learn some nav skills. AEE offer navigation and hill fitness training days to help people prepare, and so far I have completed 2 such days.

Getting to grips with the lay of the land and relating it to the map. Photograph courtesy of AEE

Both days undertaken have been with one of the company’s ex-special forces Directing Staff- DS Nick. The first was held in the Surrey Hills, and the second at Queen Elizabeth country park. Both locations were great for the courses, with a range of different terrains and features to aid with learning. The course started at 0930 and finished around 1630. A kit list and basic breakdown of the day were sent out via email beforehand, and the pre-course information was thorough and to the point.

The courses started with the basics of reading a map, orientation to the ground, the basics of the compass, and using the two together. DS Nick then introduced the concept of pacing, using a the number of steps taken over a set distance over varying terrains to be able to calculate the distance traveled, and combined with the time taken, speed over the ground. This then followed with the participants taking it in turns to plan and lead a navigational leg from point to point, with each leg putting into practice more skills, such as handrailing, and efficient route selection being hammered home.

The session also involved a good amount of hill fitness as well, especially in Queen Elizabeth Country Park, where I was first introduced to Butser Hill, and the lovely re-entrant hidden on the north side!

The importance if good route selection being hammered home by DS Nick! Photo courtesy of AEE

Both times attending these courses I have been thoroughly impressed, and it lead me to go on and attend their Test March qualification training day, and complete (just about!) the Iron Man test march. More to come on the Test March Q- course.

In short, if you are looking to improve your navigational skills, are looking for a practical hands on course, taught by blokes who have relied on these skills on operations, look no further than these training days. For more information regarding AEE’s training and events, check out their Facebook page, which can be found here.

Byollydrew

Local Adventure Spots- Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Butser Hill

OS Map courtesy of ordinancesurvey.co.uk

Next on our list of local adventure spots is Queen Elizabeth Country Park, and the adjacent Butser Hill. Queen Elizabeth Country Park is a great spot in the South Downs, located off the A3 between Portsmouth and Petersfield.

The park is ideal for a number of activities, with dedicated trails for MTB and for hiking/running. There are several car parks, a cafe and visitors centre, children’s play area and BBQ spots for hire. Training aside it’s a great place for a family day out. The South Downs way also runs through the park.

When it comes to hiking and running, there are plenty of trails over some great undulating terrain, perfect for getting some speed and hill training in, and that’s before you even look at Butser Hill across the road! TTA members including myself have used the park many a time for training for events such as the Fan Dance, with a rucker or Bergen, barreling up and down trails past bewildered looking families. Indeed the park is one of the sites that Avalanche Endurance Events run their navigation and fitness training days, led by their excellent lead navigation instructor, Nick. Look out for a future blog post for details and a review of these brilliant courses.

Coach Olly (kneeling right) taking part in an AEE Navigation Training Day in Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Photo courtesy of Avalanche Endurance Events.

Butser Hill

Butser Hill is a place that is certain to cause shivers running through the members of TTA who have been foolish enough to join me on a training session there. The main trail to the top is a nice 400m of path perfect for hill repeats, preferably with push ups, burpees and jump squats thrown into the mix as well. It is also great for weighted hill repeats with a ruck or weight vest.

Hill Repeats!

Once on top, there are plenty of trails running around the edge, and plenty of flat space for some brutal outdoor circuits. There is also a great re-entrant on the north side of the hill which is great for some nice steep hill repeats, with or without a bergen on! Truly some serious fitness gains can be made on this hill, limited only by your (or more likely my!) imagination.

Weighted Hill Repeats on Butser Hill Re-entrant. Photo courtesy of Avalanche Endurance Events

Byollydrew

The Training Adventure Sessions- Rucking and Hiking

Today’s blog is looking at the next in our training sessions series- rucking and hiking. Along with running, rucking (walking in urban areas, and/or with load) and hiking (walking in the countryside) are another core activity that we focus on at The Training Adventure. With all of the amazing places hidden away from civilization all around the UK, who wouldn’t want to get out and explore them?

TTA original Scott rucking in the New Forest

Rucking is a great way to get out and about to see the world around us, whilst getting in some fitness. I love GORUCK’s description of it:

RUCK•ING [VERB] Carrying a weighted pack on your back. It implies action, energy, and purpose.

Rucking is good fun on your own, enjoying the landscape around you, or with a group of great people. This is what we aim for at The Training Adventure. Getting a good group of people together to have adventures in wonderful places, near and far. Carrying some weight whilst you’re doing it is going to help build leg and core strength, so you’re getting in some fitness at the same time. Great huh?

TTA Originals Lisa and Naomi out on a ruck in Southampton Common with Olly

Who are the sessions for?

At The Training Adventure, we generally try and get out together for rucks twice a month, either on a Thursday after work time, or at the weekend. Rucks are posted in advance on our Facebook page, so if you’re interested in joining us, click going on the event you want to join, then drop us a message to introduce yourself, and ask any questions. Then it’s just a case of showing up and having some fun! These sessions are for anyone who wants to get involved, so don’t be afraid to get in touch!

When joining us we suggest you do your first few rucks unloaded, just bringing water, snacks and an extra layer or two. Once you get comfortable with hiking without weight, then you can start adding some weight. We recommend starting by adding 2-5kg of weight in the first instance, and building slowly. Most of the more experienced ruckers at TTA ruck with 10-12kg, depending on time and distance. You’ll also want a comfy pair of trainers or trail shoes to walk in, that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy and wet. The same goes for clothing. Something comfortable and easy to move in, that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty!

Craig D and Stevie G taking break to enjoy the view near Chapman’s Pool

How do I get involved?

Simple- drop us a message via our Facebook page, instagram or email us. As long as you’ve got that will to give it a try, we’ll help and support pretty much anyone!

Byollydrew

Event Review- Swim Serpentine 2018

Last weekend (22/09/2018) Hannah (my wife) and I took part in an open water swimming event in London’s Hyde Park. The event was called Swim Serpentine, and it is organised by the same people who organise the London Marathon. As per the name, the event is run in one half of the Serpentine, and offers 800m, 1 mile and 2 mile options for competitors to take part in.

The swim is one of the events in the London Classics series, the London Marathon and the Ride London-Surrey 100 mile cycle. Complete all 3 and you get a extra bumper medal!

My wife has completed the London Marathon, and is after the London Classics medal, so being an ex-swimmer this was the next step! Hannah entered the 2 mile event, whereas I entered the 1 mile.

 

The London Classics finishers medal (photo courtesy of London Classics)

On the day I have to say the weather was miserable! It was raining fairly heavily all day, and the air temperature was the same if not lower than the water temp (17.2 when we were swimming). The event itself however I have to say was pretty well organised. The signage through the park to the event was plentiful, starting from the park edge. Once at the event village, there were big screens on both sides displaying the different waves, safety brief and start times. Changing, bag drop and entry was done via a 1-way system, leading to the start. There was quite a bit of congestion here, and all agreed that both the changing rooms and the bag drop areas need to be larger, as they were very crowded, and there was a substantial queue of people at bag drop just in costumes or wet suits. I felt sorry for those swimming in just costumes, it must have been very cold for them standing around!

The course as seen from the shore

However once past this point personally from then on the event was run well. In the start pens the briefing was easy to hear and see, even at the back in the areas marked for slower swimmers. The different areas depending on speed were well marked, with plenty of room. There was also a lifeguard manned plunge area for those who wished to acclimatise before starting. Post brief there was little delay in starting, which was via a sloped ramp into the lake. People were being released in blocks of 15-20 to give plenty of space at the start, which was great. There were plenty of volunteers and lifeguards at the start ramp as well, helping people enter the water safely.  Being a chip timed event, it didn’t matter, as your time is recorded individually at the start and finish ramps by walking over a mat.

Once in the water on the swim, I found the route was well marked out with large yellow buoys regularly spaced marking the inside of the course, and red buoys on the outer edge. The turns at either end were marked by purple buoys. There were also lots of safety boats and kayakers out, which was good to see, and I expect re-assuring for the less experience swimmer. The marked lanes were nice a wide as well, giving plenty of room for civilised overtaking of other participants as needed. The course was a 1 mile loop, so for me it was just one lap before heading in to the exit ramp. There was a clearly marked exit ramp, again with lots of lifeguards on hand to haul you out of the water if your legs were a bit shaky!

Those doing the 2 mile had a second lap, which was well marked by an orange channel marker, with a kayaker manning the end to stop anyone doing the 1 mile accidentally doing a second lap!

Once out of the water everyone was checked out via timing chip for safety purposes, chips were removed, then it was hot tub time if you wanted, before collecting medals and getting changed. Hannah and I both found this part fairly relaxed, but my understanding was that those in the middle of waves coming out in larger groups had to queue for some time to collect medals and belongings.

Han and I with our respective medals post swim!

For those that are interested in race photos this was very well organised from what I have seen also. My wife paid for a photo package pre-race, which was £15 for all of the photos taken of her. All swimmers were supplied with a set of temporary tattoos to apply to hands and wetsuits as well if desired, and as a result Hannah got about a dozen good quality photos of both her swimming and at the start and finish.

Overall I would say it was a well run event, one we will be doing again next year! My only suggestion would be for hot showers in the changing rooms if it was possible, as on a colder day these would have been a welcome addition to the hot tubs.

Byollydrew

The Training Adventure Sessions: The Recovery Runners

This blog is the first in a series discussing the sorts of sessions we typically do here at The Training Adventure- Running.

Most Sunday mornings a few of us get out for a run in the New Forest as a group. These runs can vary from 5-10kms, but the purpose of these sessions is active recovery. They started when myself and Dave (Claps or more recently TDC- The Dave Clapham!) along with a couple of others from CrossFit Solent, were looking for something to do on one of our rest days. Dave got into his fitness journey via trail running, and suggested we went out for a steady run. ‘Lets get out of the gym and out of the city.’ So we did, and have been for most Saturdays or Sundays for the past couple of years.

Claps, Julie, Mike and Dolly out and about!

These runs take place pretty much regardless of the weather, though numbers are definitely lower in the winter months! If we’re out on a Sunday we generally start early (7am), so that we’re done by 8-8.30, and people then have the rest of the day to chill out or see family. It also means in the winter, we get to see the sun rise over the forest, which is always a special sight to see.

Running in the snow at the start of the year!

Who are the sessions for?

The short answer is pretty much anyone! For the regulars it is a recovery session, so we are taking our time, going steady, having a chat and helping each other out. We have people running with us who have never done any kind of training before and are looking start their fitness journey. We have people come along who are recovering from illnesses or injuries, and people who getting out into the forest and away from the hustle and bustle is therapy. I know it’s certainly part of mine. We run at the pace of the group, and help those that need help out, whether that’s with getting your breathing right, running with efficient mechanics or just making you laugh and enjoy the fact that whilst you’re out on a run with us, all that matters is enjoying the view, the company, and the journey.

Sometimes once the run is done we head to the pool at Applemore Leisure Centre and get in a swim and sauna, or we head back to Dave’s and jump in his ice bath. Recovery is a massively important part of training, and its one that we take seriously. This includes heat and cold work, as well as understanding the importance of your breath and how breathing affects everything we do. However more on these topics in a later blog or 3!

Post Run Ice!

How do I get involved?

Simple- drop us a message via our Facebook page, instagram or email us. As long as you’ve got that will to give it a try, we’ll help and support pretty much anyone!