There’s always a way

4 years ago my left knee was operated on – MPFL reconstruction. I couldn’t weight bear for a month and had a hinges splint for 3 months. I couldn’t cycle for a year.

There are still things I can’t do, but plenty I’ve adapted:

I can’t row but I can kayak, I can’t run but I can speed walk. I changed body combat to Zumba gold and now adjust Zumba fitness. It takes time but it’s possible to come back and do even more.

Submitted by S Ahern – visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Getting into cycling at 42

As a child I had a bike and would often be asked to take messages to my father – so I would have to cycle to the other side of the farm, or had to deliver eggs using the basket on the front of my bike. Later in life when working shifts as a nurse in London, I commuted to work by bike, so I was not affected by public transport strikes – it was often quicker and obviously cheaper (I was given the bike!)

I had a rigid mountain bike when I lived in Devon and used it when there was no surf, but it made my neck and shoulders hurt, aggravating an old injury. I then didn’t ride a bike for several years due to change of jobs and location. After this, I bought a hybrid for bike rides with my partner and baby in a baby seat. Then got a tagalong for our second child as I did school run/preschool with them on bikes. I was surprised to have done 50 miles by the end of the week!

I got a part-time job 6 miles from home and commuted by bike even though I had a car. Then got a lighter bike, but still a step-through ladies one with panniers. Then I bought a second-hand Trek entry level ladies race bike. It was probably too small, and gears didn’t work that well so I just didn’t change gear much!

I started to go out with a local cycling club on Sunday rides. Took my teenage daughter to a ladies BC training session and used my drops for the first time since having a road bike for two years! I went back for more training sessions; my daughter didn’t. I now have about six bikes – depending on who is asking! I have raced in BC ladies road and circuit races, LVRC road and circuit races and one not very successful TLI road race. I have done 13 open TT’s this year and was the fastest lady in 5. I manage a ladies and seniors race team for that local cycling club!
I’m probably a bit obsessed with cycling now and average 150 miles per week on a bike as I don’t have a car anymore. My holidays all involve a bike!

I’ve never been fitter or leaner in my life, and I am now 50 🙂

Submitted by Sally, member of Beeston Cycling Club – follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Race across the roof of Europe.

The Trans Alp Bike Race claims to be the toughest amateur Mountain Bike stage race in Europe. Six hundred teams, each made up of two riders, set out from Imst in Austria on a seven-day epic that ended this year in Arco, Italy. Of the six hundred teams 16 were women’s teams.

The race is an ultimate test of mountain bike endurance and skill. My teammate, Michelle and I, spent seven days doing battle up mountain passes, riding along valley floors, passing through tunnels and dropping down breath-taking descents as we crossed from Austria to Italy. We passed through 3 countries and climbed over 17,000mts – that’s the equivalence of climbing Mount Everest twice over – and rode 521km. As a team, we burnt around 70,000 calories, went through 4 sets of brake pads, ate a lot of watermelon at the rest stops, consumed 36 energy gels from High5 and SIS, 12 bananas, drank around 4.5L a day and spent 44 hours in the saddle!

Read my full race report here.

Submitted by Hannah Attenburrow – visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Don’t let having a baby stop you adventuring.

I recently spent 4 weeks trekking with my 3-month-old baby on the GR11 route across the Pyrenees. It was (mostly) an incredible experience seeing the mountains through new eyes and also allowing us to travel even more slowly and mindfully. Getting outside with a baby is fantastic!

Submitted by an anonymous but wonderful woman in adventure.

Mind and body

No matter your shape or size do not ever let this hold you back or prevent you trying an outdoor sport/activity.

Your only limits will be those imposed by your mind. Never let the negative chimp win! After completing a run, ride or route you will feel fantastic. Don’t let fear or perceived weakness/inadequacy stop you.

Finally, remember, no one will be looking at you and judging you anything like as harshly as you judge yourself!!

Submitted by Kath Goodey – follow her on Instagram.

Facing 50 with joy and power

I celebrated my year of turning 50 with a year of training for two massive goals – a 32-mile marathon swim and a 10K swim with a 4-hour time limit. I did both in August 2017.

For my marathon swim, I needed to train for months – I swam 100 miles in July alone. I also needed a support crew, and was able to gather 7 members of Team 32 to guide and support me during what turned into 28 hours and 6 minutes of continuous swimming. I had two boat pilots and five kayakers in a rotation. Nobody had been part of a marathon swim like this before. I’m the oldest woman to swim Lake George – and I plan to use what I learned to do it again.

Since my swim, I have met other fabulous women in open water and marathon swimming. We mainly communicate online, but it is so incredible to be part of the group. Someday, we will inspire everyone to wear diaper cream on special occasions!

Submitted by Bridget – visit her website or follow her on Facebook.

Yoga Enhancement to Sport

How yoga enhancement has helped my quadrathlon training?

I got talked into going to my first Ashtanga Yoga class by my daughter Lucy. She hadn’t passed her driving test, was home from University and she was missing her weekly yoga fix. I am a fit Quadrathlete (swim, kayak, bike run) who trains hard, a keen gym goer, regular to Pilates and Stretch classes, plus a coach in fitness classes, triathlon and kayaking. I thought it would be easy and that I would be quite good at it… How wrong I was!

I was humbled to find myself struggling with the poses and not as flexible as I thought, couldn’t balance and I wasn’t even sure this was going to be enjoyable every week! However my daughter (completely hooked) convinced me, I would improve and it would help my training if I continued. As a veteran athlete, any small gains are worth it, and she did need a lift every week so I decided to persevere!

It was after about 6 weeks I started to notice how yoga had begun to enhance my training. My body felt more flexible, loosening tight muscles after intense training sessions allowing my body to move more smoothly in my four disciplines.

Practicing the postures encourages me to use full range of motion, which again helps with my flexibility. The standing poses are especially good for strengthening and stabilizing the muscles of the lower leg whilst stretching the hip muscles, this combination will hopefully lead to greater power and strength. I still struggle with the single leg standing poses, but I hope to improve my breathing and use my breath to find my inner strength to enable me to balance better.

I have a strong core due to years of training, but since starting yoga I certainly now feel I have a much greater awareness of how important it is, to engage these muscles whilst performing in my various disciplines. I feel my swimming has become much stronger as I’m flatter, smoother and longer enabling my body to glide through the water more efficiently. Whilst kayaking, I hold my core strong and back straight, improving my rotation giving me more power as I pull the paddle through the water. Whilst in an aero position on the bike, drawing my shoulders down my back and engaging the core, enables me to keep strong in a horizontal position. This lets me push more power through the glutes and quad muscles giving me a strong fluid bike ride. The final discipline is the run, where flexibility and strength in the hamstrings and hip flexors are key to a good performance.
Engaging and releasing the hamstring muscles through concentric and eccentric contractions, which we do in many of our poses has certainly helped fire my hamstrings to perform better. I’ve noticed these improvements whilst running up and down hills when they are under much more stress. All these are big positives from my Ashtanga class, which I can feel in my body, posture and performance.

I still have many more steps to improve beyond the physical flexibility and strength. The aspect I still find difficult is the breathing, the letting go, the visualization and the concentration of the mind. Being an endurance athlete you need all these mental strengths, I am hoping to be able to improve these, so it will help me focus more and keep calm in the long challenging events where my body is pushed beyond its limits.

My daughter Lucy has now passed her driving test and doesn’t need a lift, but I feel it has now become an important part of my training regime. I feel the gains are already enhancing my training and with my race season about to start any improvements have got to be a bonus, especially as a veteran athlete!

Submitted by Jean Ashley – GB Quadrathlon Team.

One girl and her kayak

I am an advantaged girl from a working-class background attempting to sea kayak around Ireland! I would love you to read about the challenges I faced and the people I met. It has taught me so much about myself and life.

Submitted by Caoimhe – visit her website or follow her on Instagram.