Jess used to swim with us in London and was an active Committee Member, relay record holder, as well as a distance and ice swimmer.
Where are you based and what isolation approach are you following/have you followed?
I am based in Midlothian, overlooking Whitehill Woods golf course, and about 6 miles from Edinburgh city centre. My initial approach to isolation was long cycles, baking brownies and drinking any available alcohol in copious quantities. However, near alcohol poisoning and a fast growing fat tyre, made me rethink. Now I focus more on long bike rides around bonny Scotland and restrict alcohol to Fridays or Saturdays.
How have you coped with the break from training?
I learned to swim all four strokes aged 12, when I joined Kingston Swim Club, based in Glasgow, and swam 2 by half hour sessions every week. Drew Gordon, City of Glasgow swim coach (more recently known for his work as Eurosport TV’s swim commentator}, in 1983 invited me to join his swim squad. I did, and so began training 5 or 6 days per week, until 1985 when chronic ear infections prevented me from training for 6 months. I returned for a short while, and Drew tried to convince me to target distance swimming – not a fashionable choice in the 70s and 80s. I quit swimming in 1986 and had an almost total break, rarely entering water other than to wash, until 26 years later, in 2012, when I joined Spencer. This is a long-winded way of saying I’ve had long experience of a break from training!
That said, I miss the camaraderie club training provides as well as the sense of shared endeavour. But a combination of jogging and cycling (I also took up cycling in 2012) 6 days a week has helped.
I set myself little goals whilst cycling, and recently did the equivalent of a T60 on a static bike, using the zwift app, which recorded me cycling 36.2 km in one hour – better than I have ever cycled, and a big improvement on last year. I am closing on my main goal, which is to cycle 40km in one hour.
Have you managed to get back into the water yet? If so, how was it? Any recommendations?
Yes, I did a socially distanced swim with an Edinburgh Triathletes team mate in Threipmuir Reservoir in the Pentland Hills. We crossed the reservoir and back, taking 20 minutes, and have resolved to meet at least once a week until club training resumes.
Do you have a daily fitness routine?
Yes, if I feel okay, I either cycle and / or run morning or evening, followed by 30 to 60 minutes of stretch and conditioning exercises.
How are you getting on with Steve’s gutbusters?
I incorporate aspects in my post-cycle stretch and conditioning, which I in turn tailor around niggles in my shoulder, knee, wrist and right hamstring, depending on which niggle causes most pain that day!
How did you get on with the Virtual summer Challenge?
I turned the individual summer challenge into one daily workout, doing 4 disciplines consecutively, so adding welcome variation to my fitness routine. Also, it was nice to contribute a 20km cycle to a relay with team mates that hopefully one day I’ll meet poolside.
Any recommendations for team mates?
Life is precious, fragile and finite; focus on now, and future and what’s good in life, and think less on failure or what’s missed or lost.
Which competitions have you missed/will you miss and how will that affect you?
I set myself a challenge to complete my first ever triathlon in 2020, and am still aiming for that, if some late season triathlon events are held. I’m targeting Olympic distance, which is 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run. Other people have suffered terribly due to COVID19. So me missing competition is disappointing but no tragedy and I’m happy to look at this year as training and preparation for a busy swimming and triathlon season in 2021.
How is your partner/family/housemate coping with you missing your regular training sessions?
Mark, my husband has been entirely supportive. He’s helped me adjust to cycling sessions whilst coping with the fact his mother is in a care home and my mother, a cancer survivor, is shielding and living alone for the first time in her life. We lost my beloved father 14 months ago, which was by far the worst day of my life and caused emotional devastation I continue to struggle to manage. This is why I try, not always successfully, to focus on what’s good.
What are you most looking forward to when you can get back to training?
The journey to improvement. I’ll saviour and appreciate every moment, and when it’s tough I’ll think about my amazing Dad and remind myself to love life, have fun and try my very best with all my energy, just the way he always wanted me to.
Any plans for Open Water training or racing over the summer?
No. Only as part of a multi-sport event. Maybe I’ll do some pure swim races in 2021, but only if I’m swim fit and healthy. Mark and I plan, COVID regulations permitting, to do a 13 day cycle along the length of Spain, from Santander to Cape Trafalgar, in September. We’ll be on hybrid bikes, and carrying our own luggage on the bikes – our idea of a near perfect summer holiday! (For cycle geeks, in 13 days we’ll cover 17000 metres elevation gain, over a distance of 1485 kilometres, and with the highest elevation on Day 1 of the cycle, at 3248 metres in 79 miles.)