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Standing Poolside thinking...what have I done!

Blog Post by Craig Law

I have been involved with Triathlon for just over a year now and after meeting some very inspiring people and reading blogs from other triathletes and runners I fancied giving it a go. Before we get started I’m not going to pretend I’m a prolific writer and I have no doubts this blog will be filled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes but please bare with me!

I’ve always been an active person and had a general interest in fitness whether it be going to the gym, walking the dog, playing golf or my true passion which was playing football. For about 20 years I lived and breathed football, my entire week revolved around making training on a Wednesday and the game on a Saturday. During my football career I was lucky enough to play for some very successful amateur teams despite not actually being that good myself. I was the type of player who always worked hard in training to make up for the lack of ability and I loved always giving 110%. I’m sure my brother would even argue I managed 111% if we were matched against each other for sprint drills which seemed to happen more often than not.

However as the years ticked by and people moved on from the club, I found myself not really looking forward to the games anymore and my efforts in training were no longer being rewarded with a place in the starting line up. Injuries were becoming more frequent and harder to get rid of so when my daughter was born in October 2010 it seemed like a good time to take a break….which ended up lasting nearly 5 years.

After this 5 year ‘off-season’, too much beer and unhealthy food (you know all the stuff that tastes good) I had began to go a little soft round the edges and felt like I needed something to aim for so I decided to get back into running. It turns out running is HARD when you haven’t done it for a few years. I have a new-found respect for anyone who takes up running as an adult and take my hat off to any newbie runners. If I could pass on any advice from my early days returning to running it would be:

1) Keep at it! Trust me it does get better.

2) Don’t worry about what you look like running nobody else actually notices.

3) Get good socks and shoes (go to a shop that knows what they are doing).

The training begins…

Anyway, the plan was get a bit fitter, possibly trim a few pounds and run the Baker Hughes 10K in May 2016. I started training in September 2015 and took it easy working on 5km runs to build my base fitness which was going well, when my friend Pete asked if I fancied going out for a cycle. “Whats the worst that could happen???” I thought to myself. Well turns out I was borrowing his road bike! Having never been on a road bike, or any bike at all for that matter for about 15 years, the first few corners and generally cycling in a straight line were proving rather tricky. Once I got the hang of it I picked up the pace and started to enjoy myself, that was until I tried getting off the bike to drive home. My bum must have become numb on the bike because when the feeling did return to that area it was not thanking me for the previous hour spent in the saddle (Bike shorts would become known to me later on). Despite this painful drawback I was looking forward to going out again on the bike. When Pete asked if I wanted to borrow his bike for the next fortnight while he was on holiday I jumped at the chance. I think I had the bike out about 4-5 times over that fortnight and at the end of it my mind was made up; I was getting a road bike!

So running was going well and a road bike was on order…….I wondered what events I could enter that had bike and run? (this is how little I knew about the sport) When I finally realised the sport I was looking for was called duathlon I started researching duathlon clubs/races in Aberdeen only to stumble across a local triathlon club called Fleet-Feet Triathletes; the secretary of which was a work colleague. Perfect! He should be able to point me in the right direction. To this day I still have no idea how I went from phoning Kevin Watson on the Wednesday to discuss duathlon training to standing poolside with the FFT guys on the Thurs night thinking……Oh shit ! I mean, I didn’t even own a pair of goggles so had to rush out and buy a pair for the session.

I turned up on the Thursday at poolside and instantly started assuming everyone looked like really good swimmers and I was about to be found out big time (found out for what I’m not exactly sure but the mind games were beginning to take over). To my surprise I spied a friend at the club, Rowena, which helped put me at ease however before I could pick her brain on what to expect I was asked by one of the coaches if I could swim and I stupidly answered “Yeah, I can manage a good few lengths”(Note: This is a complete lie and I have no idea why I said it but I couldn’t take it back now). “Ok you are probably in lane 2” was the reply then came possibly the worst moment of my sporting life so far…everyone jumped in and started swimming FREESTYLE!!!! Holy shit I meant I can do a “few” lengths breast stroke how the hell do you even begin to swim freestyle.

The coach for my lane must have considered diving in to get me on more than one occasion. To his credit he was trying really hard to give me feedback but I wasn’t even sure what my arms and legs were doing, never mind him trying to pinpoint where it was going wrong. I somehow made it to the end of the session albeit a considerable number of lengths behind the rest of the lane. After the session Kevin suggested I would probably benefit from a couple of sessions in lane 1. I felt this was probably the correct decision, also I would be easier to rescue from lane 1! Despite this near death experience I was right back at poolside the next week ready to learn, and despite still being a slow swimmer I really enjoy it. Also, being rubbish at something means you have lots of room for improvement.

I no longer feel like a newbie at the club but my memories of these early days are still very vivid.