Indoor Cycling

I’ve finally started doing more cycling. From the comfort of my own lounge room. In summary, it’s an online “game” called Zwift which uses the data from your own bike trainer and sensors to move an animated you around an island called Watopia. People from all over the world log in whenever. Or you can prearrange a time to meet friends for a group ride. It costs $10 USD per month but if it means I’m riding my bike, then it’s worth it.



Let’s face it – where else will I ever get to wear a green sprinter’s jersey??? (Either I’m Lightning McQueen over a 400m distance, or there aren’t many females using Zwift yet at the times that I’ve been online.)

These are some of the reasons I enjoy using Zwift.

  • It’s easy to get caught up in the “race” to not let the person behind catch you (and you don’t have to look over your shoulder to see them), or to catch the person in front of you, or see how long you can draft off someone.
  • I work harder in this game than I do on the road. I think it’s because I don’t have to worry about traffic, potholes, magpies etc. Or being stranded too far from home if I absolutely run out of puff. I can give it all I’ve got.
  • I also work harder in Zwift than I do just cycling on my trainer because if I stop pedalling or slow down, the animated character on screen unclips or sips her drink. It’s a visual reminder that I’ve lost focus whereas on the trainer I find I just drift off and then realise I’ve stopped pedalling and have no idea how long I’ve been off with the fairies.
  • King/Queen of the mountain, green jerseys, yellow jerseys, this game has it all – instant updates and comparisons of PBs on some segments (don’t have to wait for strava upload 🙂 )
  • Group rides are great – it’s not often I get to feel like I can keep up with everyone else. It does wonders for the self esteem. I don’t have to know whether they’re slacking off, I can imagine that they’re sweating and panting as much as I am!
  • The graphics are great, the concept is even better. Seeing where the many different riders online are from (country) and seeing messages flying in French or Spanish makes you feel like  you’re part of something so much bigger than just my lounge room.
  • No cars
  • No helmets
  • No crashes (and even if someone cuts you off you just go through them like a hologram)
  • Fast looking bikes and snazzy cycling clothing
  • Cycling with dolphins, sting rays, whales – where else can you cycle under the ocean?
  • Estimated calories burned are counted as a number of pizza slices!
  • It’s the best excuse for playing computer games and not feeling guilty.
  • It makes me feel like a real cyclist.




In an hour online it’ll go from day to night with beautiful sunrises, long shadows and spectacular scenery.

My coach told me that getting my cycling done will also help my running. She might be onto something there.

In my previous post (late February), I wrote that “I haven’t run a 30min 5km yet and don’t seem to be getting any closer but my training has been rather erratic.”

I realised today that I haven’t skipped a session on my training program since 3rd March! That’s a whole month with all planned training completed. If only I was that dedicated to my food intake.

Recently, 1km intervals were added to my program – to be done weekly. 6 x 1km run at effort (preferably sub 6:00 pace) with a 2 minute complete rest/stop between each one.

The first time I attempted this, I managed sub 6:00 for one of the six only (5:51 – a new PB). The second time, I had two under 6 minutes. Last weekend had a huge training load due to the public holidays and being able to get some longer sets in. I managed a 10km run/walk (planned 8 minute run/1 minute walk repeated for the whole distance) and averaged 7:10 pace even with the walks. I was over the moon with this. I had another 1km interval set two and FOUR of them were under 6 minutes! A 5:59, 5:47 (new 1km PB), 5:57 and 5:58. The other two were 6:34 and 6:19 – not too shabby either. Considering the first two were done in the dark with a headlamp on unfamiliar paths near my parents’ house, I was thrilled.


I’m so glad daylight saving has finally ended…IMG_20160325_100231

10km with beautiful coastal scenery



That’s me in the light blue being overtaken by a huge pack of cyclists on Zwift. Would completely freak me out in real life but was strangely pretty cool at the time.

On Easter Saturday I was up at 4.30am to drive 1.5 hours to the nearest parkrun which had a 7.00am start! I was also catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered.


Yesterday was another big day – 45 minutes on the bike (which I did on Zwift) then a 10km run. My plan for this was to run the 5km from home to parkrun, then have a few minutes rest during the briefings and continue with the second 5km. The second 5km was much slower than the first because THIS happened quite unexpectedly!


So, I STILL haven’t run 5km in under 30 minutes but it’s getting closer! This was almost two minutes faster than my previous 5km PB of 32:28 which I ran in December 2014. I hadn’t even gone out with the intention of going hard or getting a PB, I was just running. The last 500m was tough but I’d seen how close I was to a PB so pushed on. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left in the tank for the second 5km so I walked a lot, chatted with other parkrunners and did a leisurely 38 minutes. It doesn’t seem that long ago that 38 minutes would have been a fast 5km for me. It’s odd how our perspective changes over time.

More zwift screenshots – because I can.


Stopped pedalling for a selfie1459539642874

Cycling related architecture


Spot the whale?


And the dolphins?

The creators have an incredible imagination. Wonder if they could develop Zwimt for swimming from the comfort of home?

I’m enjoying being on my bike again. (And swimming and running, so that’s got to be good for my triathlon pursuits!)

What’s next? A three-hour intensive swim training session with Effortless Swimming at the end of April, a triathlon in May, a holiday to Broome in June, Sutherland to Surf (11km) in July, Dubbo Stampede in August and the Sydney Running Festival Half Marathon in September (we run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge – I’m reasonably certain I’ll be stopping for a selfie!). So much for my year of spending more time at home. And in amongst all of this, I am determined to shed my excess weight. Imagine how fast I could run if my legs had 5-10 fewer kilograms to cart around!

Is there a gadget or training technique/tool that has reignited your enthusiasm?


A testing day

Today was a day for a few mini-tests to bolster my confidence prior to the triathlon this weekend (3 days to go).

Since my last triathlon in March, I have spent less than 5 hours on my bike – total and until today, none of those were outside. They were all on the trainer. There are many benefits of training on a windtrainer. You can do it when it’s windy, rainy or dark.

There are two main disadvantages for the inexperienced/cautious cyclist with minimal confidence. The first is that it doesn’t allow you to practise your balance because the bike is locked into the trainer and the second is that you (I anyway) clip into and out of the pedals with the opposite foot first.

I was getting a bit concerned about it. It’s been too dark or wet in the mornings for me to ride outside and it’s dark again by the time I get home from work. I need to buy a new light for my bike but simply haven’t got around to it and have had higher priority items to spend money on (like thermal clothing for my little trip to Hobart in a few weeks).

I was worried that I will try to clip out with the wrong foot during the race like I did at one of our local club tris this season. I also hadn’t run off the bike for quite some time. Maybe once since March. Today was the day for the “can I still ride a bike” test.

On my one hour lunch break from work, I came home, changed, hopped on my bike, rode 2.6km, came home, changed shoes then took off again for a short run. Very short. Less than 750m actually. Back home, drank water, made lunch, rolled on a bit of BO basher, back into work clothes and almost made it back to work on time. Well, I was about 15 minutes late. I underestimated how much sweat I could work up in 15 minutes of exercise since I so rarely exercise after 8am.

It was worth it though. I am satisfied that as long as I concentrate on Saturday, I will manage the ride without any (un)clipping mishaps.

This also gave me a chance to try out the multisport setting on my new (second hand) garmin. Now I’ll be able to track my individual leg and transition times at club tris where we only get an overall time.


The second test for today was the “can I fit into the wetsuit” test. Fortunately, I can. At least, I can get it on. I can’t do the zip up myself so I’m assuming it will do up. I know that’s a mighty big assumption. I got a PB today though. I managed to get into it in less than 8 minutes! It would have been interesting to wear a heart rate monitor during this process…


Tomorrow morning I’m off to the pool for my first swim since the end of March. Since the triathlon on 8th March, I have been to the pool twice and each time I only swam 1km for a total swim time of 1 hour. There will be two tests: “can I still breathe on both sides” and “can I still swim 750m without stopping”.

In other news:

  • I completed my marathon-in-a-week challenge. 42.2km running over 8 days. The second last session I did in sub-zero temperatures. The last 7.2km were done in the middle of the day (approx 20°C). Talk about extremes. The midday run was an attempt to prepare for the race which starts at 11.30am. I’ll be hitting the run somewhere around 1pm I think.


This was the day before Tamworth recorded the lowest
overnight temperature in the country!


I’ve heard that you really feel that last 0.2km of a marathon.
I certainly did in my cumulative-marathon-in-a-week, but I finished!

  • I upgraded my garmin 410 and garmin swim to a 910xt which I managed to pick up second hand on ebay when the previous owner upgraded to the latest model. I’m still getting used to it, but at least I can wear the same watch swimming as I do when cycling and running. It can also track open water swimming instead of only lap swimming.


I don’t generally get to see the river sparkling like this.
There are benefits to running later in the day after all.  🙂

I ran a marathon

I have started this post too many times to count.

But first, a clarification. When I selected the title for my previous post “Life“, I had intended taking an entirely different approach. It was to be a rather melancholy essay on the number of half-completed books, projects and plans I have and how demoralising it is.

It was over a month ago that I wrote that post and it was nothing like what I’d planned in my head. It’s hard to believe we have been back home again for four and a half weeks. I’m back into my training plans (recover week this week – yippee) and have registered for a couple of fun runs.

When did I have time to run a marathon? Never. But I did run 48.52 km while away on our trip! It’s amazing how quickly I can notch up the kilometres when I’m not trying to swim or ride as well. And when the busyness of life’s commitments isn’t stealing my exercise time. I’m not sure I’ve EVER run that many kilometres in a month. I am staggered when people say they’ve run over 200km in a month.


I just looked at the totals history on my garmin watch for the first time, and I have recorded over 1,000km of running and cycling since I bought it, and have used it for over 100 hours!

I haven’t given an update on my virtual training journey from Melbourne to Port Augusta for a while either. I have just 145km to go. It took me two years to complete the 600km or so virtual trek from Sydney to Melbourne and now I have almost completed this 1051km leg of my virtual journey in 9 months! I must be fitting in more training than I realised, and I guess I’m a little bit faster too now so I can cover more km in the same time.garmin

Life has been pretty crazy again recently (how many times have I said I’m trying to get it under control?) and parkrun launched in my hometown last Saturday. I have been part of the main organising team so it was a huge relief when everything went smoothly for the 131 participants. 121 of them were first-timers who had never done a parkrun before. Most of the volunteers had never done a parkrun before either. Looking forward to this Saturday – and every Saturday after that. Tamworth parkrun is here to stay!

Tamworth parkrun

I don’t have any major triathlon races planned. I had considered the sprint distance at Forster next month but can’t justify the expense of getting there (or the entry) after our little trip to the other side of the world…

However, I have registered for the 5km event at the Armidale Fun Run (I did this last year too). My not-so-secret goal is to go under 33 minutes for the first time ever. 6:30 pace kilometres would give me a 32min 30second result. I am currently running 7 minute kilometres over that distance. I am running at around 6:30 pace over shorter distances – I have 32 days to work up to it over 5km.



I love this photo of our parkrun volunteers preparing for the “volunteers of the week” photo.


I have also registered for a 5.5km Variety fundraising Santa fun run which should be a lot of fun! A santa suit is included in the entry fee!

I managed to come home from our trip the exact same weight I left. It’s a shame I can’t say I’m still at that weight. However, I am determined to get serious about it. Again. My 40th birthday is creeping up on me and I’d like to be mostly on my way to fit and healthy before then. To that end, I have also registered for an eight-week bootcamp which starts next Tuesday.

So yes, I still have those half-read books, half-completed projects and half-cleaned house but I’m dealing with it and moving on. Life’s too short but the days are getting longer so it’s time to enjoy them. And strangely, I do enjoy my new exercise regime. *Words I never thought I’d utter.

Happy running, cycling, swimming, whatever-it-is-you-do-ing!

Until next time, Heather.