The Line – What It Takes To Hill Climb

The Line – What It Takes To Hill Climb

The Line.

It’s a simple line. A line you choose to cross, then a line you must cross, a line that marks the start and the line that marks the finish.The problem with a Line is that it can have so many meanings. It can also be the line attached to the hook that draws you in …. then where do you draw the line ? A line you, yourself, have drawn in the sand….

Hello. They call me Rapid, or Rapid Rich if you want to be formal. I’ve been asked to contribute to this Blog because of my exerts. Not because I am an athlete, or a talent, or physically fit. Or even that competitive in my chosen sport, but because I cross that line.

I cross that line most weekends during September and October because that is when Hill Climbing season starts !

My Story

Before I explain the incredible sense of achievement and amount of effort that contesting a Hill Climb brings, I would just like to explain my story and how I became transfixed (some say obsessed), by this purest of sports.

Photo Courtesy Of: Freddie Grover

Virtually 6 years ago to the day, I was 51 years old and creeping up towards 15 and half stone ( 98 kgs). Being only 5’8”, not only was I NHS ‘obese’ but much, much worse. I had to ‘un-tuck’ my shirt ! The other tell tale sign was that I didn’t recognise myself in photos. Surely that swollen featured human was not the ‘Rapid Rich’ that I had known since he was a skinny kid !

The Bike

Although I did play a little squash and even went Fencing, I had no real fitness. I turned to ‘The Bike’. Initially I spent about £800 with the theory it was enough to keep me at it, but not too cheap that it was poor equipment. I need not have worried. I did a 6 mile Ride and fell off on my cleats as soon as I got home. It mattered not. As I lay, slightly embarrassed with a bleeding knee on the floor, I was hooked. That was the first Line I crossed.

My riding went crazy. From struggling to do 35 miles on my first ‘big run’ within 9 months I rode 200 miles in one day solo from Doncaster to Anglesey. And that was the day after my biggest Club ride of 126 miles! I even started Racing! I was getting fit for the very first time in my life since I lost my natural youthful fitness, and I loved it.

I found myself walking tall, feeling (and looking) good in smaller size clothes. I could even ‘tuck in’ again. Knowing very little about Cycling, the Sport or its history, a friend of mine introduced me to something you probably all know about now – STRAVA!

Progress

This was the next line I crossed. It gave me segments which are only ‘virtual’ start and finish lines, and this gave me quantifiable results and self drawn targets. I just had to improve. I had to go faster, harder. I noticed the best segments where I could excel were hills – especially short sharp ones. I simply loved the feeling of giving everything I had and as soon as I got home I would ‘upload’ my Ride to see my PBs, Cups and KOMs.
( You do however need to also consider this was in 2012 /13 and there were far far less people on Strava than there are today, so it was much easier to get top 10 places).

Competitive Instinct

Now, I’ve raced Motorcross (badly), motorcycles and cars on the track (with some success). I’ve driven a Rally Car including doing the RAC Rally for 5 years. I threw away a brilliant result in 1995 of 27th overall in a 2 wheel drive non works car. Me and my Co-Drivers desire to drive ‘flat out’ resulted in a last stage crash with less than 12 miles to go. This meant we dropped down to 47th (still not bad). – gutted.

 

It is this competitive element to be the best or fastest that has not left me. As I said before, I am no athlete. The years are clocking up, but my brain is still of the 17 year old motorbike Racer that believes I am competitive. I am Rapid Rich!

Is this my problem? My brain will simply not accept that I am not competitive? So when I (almost accidentally) came across Hill Climbing, it was my brain, my competitive spirit that got me up those Hills. My brain, my desire to succeed, was my biggest muscle by far.

2017

I’ve just finished my specialised, bespoke Hill Climb bike. Less than 5kg of pure beauty. A machine made to do nothing but go up hills. Fast. Although I have a fair engineering background, I’ve had great support, help and advice from Cycles In Motion on this project and it continues to develop.

A full season on Hill Climbing in 2017 gave me some fair results for my age. But seeing the efforts by the other talented Riders simply inspired me.

This was a sport that had no prima donnas. Each competitor was equal. Not in time and ability but in effort. That was the attribute I had most of; effort. The determination and an inner drive to make me push my body far, FAR beyond its own real limits.

The beauty of Hill Climbing is that even the top Riders give you total respect for pinning on that number. As long as you give it 100 % .I don’t mean 99%, that just does not cut the mustard.

I ride for 3RT Cycling. On Hill Climb events I’m usually accompanied by a couple of close friends and great competitors, Rick Bailey and Calum Brown. They have simply inspired and driven me to push myself even further. As a trio we are called ‘The Northern Shandy’s’ with the ethos of the name being ‘undiluted effort’. … As a true northern shandy comes without the lemonade!! #nails

So what is Hill Climbing ?

Well it’s a Rider and a Bicycle. Its two Lines. One at the bottom of a Hill, and one at the top. Oh, and a stop watch.

Photo Courtesy Of: John Robert

Its been part of the British Cycling scene for well over 100 years and usually tagged onto the end of the Race Season. But now it is a hugely important discipline in its own right. It’s a Time Trial basically with Riders setting off generally at 1 minute intervals on a Hill (obviously). The nature of the Hills can be very short and steep, 500m up to 5 miles. The longer Climbs are generally less of a gradient.

The short ones can have ramps of up to 30%. Most average anywhere between 10 and 15 %. Regardless, as you are still going ‘balls out’ and Racing they are simply the hardest single effort to do in Cycling. Pacing is more important on the longer ones, but the short ones are just a sprint against gravity.

No Quarter Given

Photo Courtesy Of: Craig Zadoroznyj

You will see from the photos, that Hill Climbs demand maximum effort There can be no quarter given and they aint for the feint hearted. That said, however, there is a fantastic camaraderie between the Riders as we all know we are going to give our best on the day.

So how do you get involved I hear you ask ? Sorry ? SO HOW DO YOU GET INVOLVED ? That’s better!

Getting Involved

Well you need a Bike. You also need to be a member of a CTT (Cycling Time Trials) Club and that’s it. It will help if you are good at hills or sprinting or you are very light but its not prerequisite. Neither is the bike. Nowadays there are many with bespoke Hill Climb machines built specifically for the job. Mine comes in at about 4.9kg with 11 speed and pedals and it was as much fun engineering this machine as it is contesting the event.

Photo Courtesy Of: Cycling Images Cymru

A light bike helps but as I have found out does not turn you into a winning athlete. It does help a few seconds or even a 10th here and there. The general consensus is once you got rid of the easy weight saving modifications like chopping bars, removing bottle cages, bar tape etc it generally costs about £1.00 to save 1 gram ! But this budget can be smashed with the fun of making, converting, buying second hand or borrowing parts. Most beginners simply stick with their Road bike and take off the bottle cages on the day. You make it as cheap as you want and its much more fun.

The other thing is first find a Hill Climb that suits you, there is no point entering a short sharp steep Hill if you are more suited to the longer Time Trial type of ‘sit down’ hill. Personally I love anything up to 1 min 30 seconds and after that I’m so far into the pain cave, I’ve lost my torch and cant get out !

If you are genuinely interested, try the UK Hill Climbing page on FaceBook which is full of friendly, helpful posters and great information.

National Championships

This weekend sees the culmination of the Hill Climb season with the National Hill Climb Championship which is being held at Pea Royd Lane, Stocksbridge on October Sunday 28th at 11.00. 300 Riders will contest to win their various categories and have the honour of wearing the National Stripes for the next year.

The top contenders are simply stunning to watch and if you have ever ridden Pea Royd Lane you will simply not believe the speed and power these lads can hold. If your Strava time matches them, then I suggest you get entered for next year NOW !

I have my thoughts on this weekend’s Winners, but I will leave those personal. What I can tell you is that they will be crossing their own lines, they will be putting it all out and their best effort on the line and just hoping that they have done enough !
Whatever, they will put themselves through a completely different level of pain than you can ever imagine, unless you pin on a number yourself.

As I said before, I’m 57, I’m not an athlete, but I like to push myself.
For you stats people, I’m 5’8, about 78kg and can push about 1450 watts peak, 277watts 20 min FTP and can hold about 600 + watts for a minute. Although those are fairly impressive, I have no lungs or stamina and suffer with heart rate going straight up to 195 bpm + !

Why?

I was asked by a ‘non-cyclist’ the other day “Why do you put yourself through this pain?” I thought about it carefully;
Because it is simply the best feeling in the world !!!

An Event

You enter an event on a Hill that you are more than capable of Riding up but because you’ve entered, you feel sick for a week before with worry and you question your ability. I’ve even questioned myself if I can even get up it !
As the week goes by you’ve talked about it, discussed lines, gearing, weather, wind, tyre pressures and then ensured your bike is simply in tiptop shape. Sometimes you even recce the Hill and usually a sorrowful time puts you further into the depths of despair and self doubt .
Turning up on the day is a joy, maybe after a Road Trip with fellow masochists. It’s great to see the familiar faces of friends. Unlike many sports the Top Riders not only talk to you but give you mutual respect.

You Versus The Hill

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Isherwood

The next minute you are on the start line .. it’s You vs that Hill …vs the Clock vs Yourself . All you want to do is see those number fall, stop the seconds, stop the clock. You want to use every fiber in your body, every muscle every breath, every beat of your heart, use up every ounce of energy that you have.
Once you start, the Hill fights you at every pedal stroke, it rears up in front of you when you think you have nothing left, it litters it’s surface with obstacles like change of surface or gravel, or pot holes that might slow you or puncture your machine. It sometimes teases you with a short respite, but as you attack again it’s riposte will be of another ramp to put you in a place of deeper despair.
There is only you. You and your machine that you have created, engineered and developed to work with you. Like a trusted steed to help you slay the tarmac wall of the monster that will kill you if you show any weakness. You feel at one with your machine, as the pain increases the distance to go always decreases, but the hardest is yet to come.
But you can see and feel progress. You are on top of your game, you will not be beaten and then you suddenly have allies – spectators. They can’t give you any more power or the oxygen that you crave, but the crowd are your friend. The encouragement, the faceless wall of noise, the recognition of your name, knowing your friends and direct opponents are all rooting for you. They give you your final boost, the catalyst that somehow, miraculously, gives you inner strength, the will to go on. The final push to the line, where regardless of time, regardless of the other warriors fighting the same battle and regardless of your position you have Won. You are a Winner. You have achieved and you beat the Hill. You crossed the Line ….

Fight To Breathe

Photo Courtesy Of: Cycling Images – Russ Ellis

It’s over but now another fight starts. The fight to recover, to breathe. The finish line is like a tap, an adrenaline tap that slams shut, and without this incredible, self dealt ‘drug’ you are a simple mess going through a natural ‘cold turkey’. But as the body revives, the feeling of exhilaration kicks in. The euphoria caused by endorphins flooding through your veins giving you another massive natural high. You see your time. You smile….
That’s why !!

Oh, and I’m not really that busy on Sundays !

The Dave Rayner Fund

This year, I have embarked on an idea to raise money for the Dave Rayner Fund, a fund set up to support UK talent to become professional cyclists.

The idea is called the #PBChallenge and I pledged £10 to the Dave Rayner Fund if I beat my previous years’ PB and £20 if I didn’t ! …. The only thing is, this really took off and people started to Pledge for me, so there have been tremendous donations. Out of the 11 contested so far I have PB’d 8 … 2 to go. Send me a pledge if you want!

Great talking to you and I hope I’ve inspired you to pin on a number.

@Rapid_Rich

Rapid Rich

Stoodley

Be TrueSapien.

(Featured Image Courtesy Of Sportpictures Cymru)

Train Your Run Like A Team GB Triathlete

Train Your Run Like A Team GB Triathlete

James Hodgson is a Team GB Triathlete. This week he’s competing in the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Dusseldorf.

He’s kindly shared with us one of his run element training sessions… Challenge yourself and give it a try!

 

Overview

This is a really good speed endurance session for 5K runners, whether you are competing in triathlons or pure running races. You need to be able to run for an hour or slightly more continuously and be physically able to work hard for the eight kilometres. However, if you are starting out or haven’t done a session like this before, don’t go diving into the eight reps. Start at three or four with extended rest periods and then build in the other reps before dropping the recovery time.

 

This is one of my ‘go to’ running sessions that I regularly perform to improve my triathlon running and to see where my running fitness is at. In most cases I perform it on grass to reduce the impact forces from the session and reduce the risk of injuries. It also means you normally end up running even faster when you transition over to tarmac as grass is naturally a slower surface, especially when it is damp (and often is here in the UK!).

 

Warm Up

WU – 10-15 minutes

Easy walking with full arm rotations, three/four reps of high knees, heel flicks, and hip abduction and adduction movements (opening and closing the gate exercises) for few minutes before building into an easy run. Build your effort gradually (through to heart rate zone 2 if you are using heart rate) and towards the end of 10-15 minutes of this easy aerobic running I like to put in 2-4 pickups or strides

Main Section

MS – 8 x 1 kilometre (variable rest period)

Depending on where my fitness is at and where in the season I am my target pace for the one kilometre reps will vary, as will my recovery period. In most cases I am looking to hold at or quicker than my 5K race pace with easy jogging for anywhere between a minute and three minutes. I also aim to keep the pace between reps as similar as possible, with a bit of allowance for a slight upswing in speed once everything is fully functioning and switched on to the work rate (usually rep 3-4 for me) and then aim to hold that for the rest of the workout

 

Cool Down

CD – 5-10 minutes

Gradually slow the pace down to a walk before stretching, using a foam roller if you have one and replenishing the fluids and calories you have used during the session.

Summary

Being physically and mentally fresh as well as having adequate energy stores (i.e. eating 2-3 hours beforehand) is really important, as is a good warm up to reduce the chance of injuries. As mentioned, I like to run this session on grass and run a pretty flat course with only gentle and very short undulations (in most cases it’s only a few meters per kilometre) so that there is less external influence on my pace. However, if your upcoming race is undulating, you can perform this session on terrain that simulates that, as well as getting in specific hill reps.

We hope you find this insight into a training session of a Triathlete useful. As outlined above this is a useful training session either for Sprint Triathlons, pure 5k running speed or could be beneficial for short course OCR events. Give it a go and let us know what you think!

Reject Mediocrity – How To Avoid An Average Life.

Reject Mediocrity – How To Avoid An Average Life.

Why is it that people everywhere are systematically wasting their potential, seemingly happy living their lives completely within their comfort zones, never experiencing what life has to offer outside of them?

Just because modern lifestyles are made physically more comfortable to due technological advances, is it acceptable not attempting to use our remarkable bodies to the limits they are capable of?
Acceptance Of Mediocrity is Like An Epidemic

How many people do you know that settle for mediocrity or even less when it comes to their health, lifestyle or physical functionality? Maybe you can even count yourself in this category or can remember the time you could.

It’s easy to see just by looking around you, whether at work, in the street or whilst out eating or drinking that it is the majority. They have turned their backs on their natural physical traits and lazily resigned themselves to never physically challenging themselves.

Maybe it’s symptomatic of a culture that no longer encourages healthy competition and a society that is conditioned to taking the ‘easy’ option at every opportunity and looks for excuses for underachievement.

Surely many of the negative health and social issues that are prevalent today exist primarily because society on the whole is nowhere near active enough and lacks the inclination to be so.

 

Buck The Trend And Reject Mediocrity

Because it’s how the majority choose to live their lives DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.

It’s can’t be right to allow your body to fester in inactivity or without regular challenge. If this were so the human body would react positively to such environments and it clearly does not. The human body reacts positively to being pushed, to being tested, to being CHALLENGED! Not to mention the numerous positive psychological benefits too.

TrueSapiens reject mediocrity by repeatedly challenging themselves, pushing and striving to be the best version of them self. TrueSapiens respect and celebrate their physical abilities and seek opportunities to challenge it’s boundaries.

This is the TRUE spirit of the SAPIEN. Reject mediocrity, challenge life and BE TRUESAPIEN.

Triathlon Training Update – TrueSapien and Team GB’s James Hodgson

Triathlon Training Update – TrueSapien and Team GB’s James Hodgson

 

Why is it always me? ~ Neville Longbottom

As the title of this update from the one and only Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets says, ‘Why is it always me?‘.
I say this as for the fourth, yes, fourth, off/pre-season in a row I have had my triathlon training hindered by an injury of one kind or another. Since 2013 when I damaged my right rotator cuff that has caused on and off problems with my swimming. Back in 2014/15 I had a suspected stress fracture in my pelvis that stopped me from running. 2015/16 it was sinus tarsi syndrome in my ankle that put a “stopper on death” (just messing with you, that was Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, bonus points if you read that in his/Alan Rickman’s voice!)…. I digress, the sinus tarsi also hindered my triathlon training by stopping me running for a fair bit of time. So you can probably understand my frustration that after managing to be super consistent since my return from Worlds in October through to mid-January my right shoulder started to play up for a few weeks, and as soon as that righted itself, my right knee/ITB has decided that it is time to start complaining! I’m quickly becoming proficient at using RockTape to strap up my knee/ITB and hopefully everything clears up soonish and I can have a good run at March and April!

 

 

Other News

In other news I’ve also got applications in for a couple of PhD projects once I finish my masters (which is currently very hectic!), so fingers crossed I get one of those to keep doing research when the next academic year starts!

That’s it, a really quick one so until next time, a big thank you to TrueSapien (www.truesapien.com/) for their support and kit, Trion:Z (www.trionz.co.uk/) for their DuoLoop bands and new Zen Loop Solo/Duo which are keeping me focused and sleeping soundly (use code ‘JamesHFreePP’ on any order to receive free postage and packaging!), Sunwise (www.sunwise.co.uk/) for their Waterloo sunglasses which keep my eyes protected during training and racing,  Aqua Sphere (www.aquasphereswim.com/uk/) for providing me with swim kit for the 2016 season, Pedal Potential for their support (www.pedalpotential.co.uk/) and Bulk Powders (www.bulkpowders.co.uk/) for their nutritional support! Also a shout out to my coach Jason Battle of PerformanceCoaching (www.performancecoaching.me/) for his training plans and guidance!

How I Began Open Water Marathon Swimming – Alina Warren

How I Began Open Water Marathon Swimming – Alina Warren

Alina Warren – An introduction

Hi, I am Alina, an open water marathon swimmer from West Wales. I started open water swimming in the summer of 2009, when I was 16. I am a PhD student at Aberystwyth University, and I can be found in the water when not in the office.

How I started open water marathon swimming

My journey to starting open water swimming was completely unplanned. I was on holiday with my parents, both keen canoeists. My father had taken me out into the lake to learn the basics and I of course fell out and had to swim to the edge. It was quite unpleasant and certainly not the moment I found a love for the open water.

The next day my dad challenged me to swim the width of the lake, a very short distance, but a challenge all the same. It was very cold and I struggled across, with a mixture of doggy paddle and backstroke. I have always been one for a challenge and my father knew it. The next day he challenged me to the length, a half mile and I succeeded. The subsequent weekends after we had returned from our holiday he continue to drive me to local lakes in Wales. After a few of these weekends I managed to master some basic front crawl and my swimming was quickly improving. My love for the open water was found when I swam my first mile, doing front crawl, without stopping. From then on challenges of greater distance, in less time were constantly being set.

I had never considered myself a swimmer

I try and explain to people that I was never a swimmer, nor did I ever plan to be a swimmer. It happened by accident really. I have always enjoyed sports, but had never realised I had an aptitude for endurance sport, as I had never really been exposed to it as a child.

From beginner to swimming across Scotland!

Three years after I started swimming in the open water we (my dad and I) decided to come up with a challenge. A challenge I could train for as our weekend trips were becoming a little monotonous. I gained a fantastic coach and started training in an endless pool multiple times per week as well as the open water on weekends. The challenge we came up with was to swim across Scotland, using the great Glen Way, a 117km channel from the east coast to the west coast. We gathered a team made up of 1 land support, Ady, a team Dr on the water, Simon, and my Dad and Gary, both experienced canoeists who led the expedition as well as sighted me whist swimming. We succeeded and gained a world record for being the first swimmer to ever complete this waterway. My love for swimming has only ever grown and it’s now a fundamental part of my day. Living on the coast gives me the opportunity to swim in the open water as much as the weather allows, and I also have a coach based here with an endless pool too.

Keep up to date with my swimming, training and trips away by following my Instagram (@alina_warren), and please feel free to get in contact!

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

Discover what makes runner and OCR Competitor Ben a TrueSapien. We’re following Ben’s training diary over the coming months to gain an insight into a TrueSapien’s daily training.

Read the first post in this series for a Background to Ben and the first week of his diary.

What follows is week 2 & 3 with Ben’s account of how he felt before, during and after and a description of the session.

 

15/1/17
Before: Ready
During: Cold and wet
After: Sore ankles
21km/13miles –  2 hours
Went exploring the NDW again. Lots of frozen mud to smash my ankles and ice to catch me out. GREAT fun !! Nice time on my feet with some new shoes

16/1/17
Before: Sore ankles
During: Fast!
After : ankles still sore
Easy miles to recover from sunday. New shoes feel fast even though they are heavier ! Ankles still sore fro the weekend

17/1/17 double
6am
Before: ankles better
During: good
After: ready for the day
6am run just to wake me up. 20minutes out and back. Freezing!!
7pm
Before: Still sore but getting better
During: Fast!!
After: sore ankles but feeling good
Same run as yesterday but 8s/km quicker! At the exact same HR!! Still easy km for the moment. Back to back quality sessions coming soon.

18/1/17
Rest day  + “cheat” meal

19/1/17
Before: Sore ankles
During: Heavy legs
After: Sore
Quick 20minutes in the A.M longer run planned for  P.M but work went side ways

20/1/17
Before: Sore ankles still
During: heavy legs for the first half, settled in after
After: Shocked!
8x 3minutes Hard (5km race pace) with 2minutes reco very jog. Pushing vo2 to the max and reintroduction to the pain cave a vitally important place if you want to be competitive! Felt tough but first Hard session usually is! Estimated vo2 is now 59! Even with sore ankles and heavy legs

21/1/17
Before: Sore ankles still
During: feeling good
After: Happy
1mile threshold with 1minutes rest x 5
Building that lactic threshold while fasted! Hitting 4min/km putting me on target for 80-85minute half marathon !

22/1/17
Before: Sore ankles
During: STRONG!
After: Sore ankles again
Long slow run, 21km exploring the NDW struggled to keep the HR low due to the changes in elevation but averaged 146bpm (74%)

23/1/17
Decided to rest due to the ankle. It’s important not to make injuries worse when your body is telling you something is wrong .

24/1/17
Before: ankle feeling better
During: started to get sore towards the end
After: Sore but not as bad as before

25/1/17
Another rest day to try and get in front of this before it gets worse and i can’t run at all.

26/1/17
Rest.

27/1/17
Before: Tired but ready
During: Strong ! Until i lost my footing on a pothole!
After: Swollen and sore ankle!
1000m Intervals at 3:30 pace, could quite manage to maintain pace as i was feeling tired from work and a nasty head wind on the up hills killed me but hitting around 3:40/km. Everything was great until i lost my foot in a pot hole! NSAID and rest and hope for the best now !

28/1/17
Rest. Swelling gone down but still uncomfortable

We’ll have more from Ben’s diary in the coming weeks to see how he responds to his injury on the build up to his first race of the season!

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

Discover what makes runner and OCR competitor Ben a TrueSapien. We’ll be following his and others training and challenges this year and in the process gain an insight into what drives them and why being a TrueSapien and not just an average Sapien, is so rewarding.

What follows is a brief introduction to Ben and a week in his training….


Ben Comery, 27, has been running since July 2015. Having dabbled with weight lifting and cycling for a few years he discovered a love for running through obstacle course racing (or OCR), completing his first Spartan race in October 2015. He was quickly hooked!

“I race because I love pushing my limits and being outside my comfort zone. If somebody says i can’t do something I have to prove them wrong ! I love being outside and what better way to explore the country than on my own two feet.
My goals for 2017 are to compete at an Elite level at Spartan Race UK and to continue to push my limits in road and trail race”.

So here’s a brief summary of my running training for last week with how I felt before, during and after (always a great idea to note this I think for evaluation of sessions):

Day 1
Before: Tired
During: Sick from eating 40mins before run
After: Sore ankles
Recovery run- Easy 8km kept hr low to allow the body to recover from Sunday. Feeling very tired but got it done!

Day 2
Before: Sore ankles
During: Strong
After: Fast!
12 x 200m repeats with 200m jog recovery
Building speed and strength. Helps with the “kick” and helps your body deal with huge amounts of lactic acid build up.

Day 3
Rest day! The most important day of the week! Helps me recover and keeps me sane.

Day 4
Recovery miles again just to keep the legs loose

Day 5
Took another recovery day after 2 tough cold days at work . 7km in the bank.

Day 6
1 mile Threshold Repeats.  Aim for 86-88% HR with 1 minute rest after each repeat. Takes your body to it’s lactic limit and then holds it there for an uncomfortably long time. Builds mental strength and teaches your body to deal with huge amounts of lactic acid for long periods. The end goal is to take this threshold and use it as your Half marathon race pace so need to be able to maintain it for 90minutes.

 

We’ll regularly  publish exerts from Ben’s running and OCR training and events as and when they arise!

The Gauntlet Pull Up Challenge – Update

UPDATE

Well, it’s June 8th so 1 week to go until the end of my Gauntlet Pull Up challenge. I set a 6 week timescale as I considered this short enough to be challenging yet long enough to make the required progress. However, I think I may have underestimated the challenge…

I have encountered a couple of setbacks. Firstly the pull up bar I ordered was unsuitable so I have been limited to simulating the pull up using my TRX cables. Not great but I don’t think this has hindered me too much. The only limitation it has is that I’m not able to perform the exact form of the pull up with my entire bodyweight. I figured though that it’s muscular endurance that I’m seeking rather than strength with this challenge as I’m already capable of lifting my bodyweight as demonstrated when setting my baseline for the challenge.
The major difficulty I found was fitting in the training without effecting my triathlon and martial arts training. As those were my priority and I viewed the challenge as secondary, if I was in a situation whereby I had to choose between my triathlon swimming training or my pull up training (pull up training would adversely effect my swim performance) I chose the swimming. This is what I must change if I’m going to succeed at this or future challenges. I mentioned in my initial post on this challenge the importance of accepting challenges that align with current objectives and beliefs. I initially believed that this challenge would help my swimming and martial arts with the increased muscular endurance it would bring. I should have stuck to my original belief rather than worried it would have detrimental effects in terms of fatigue. Either that or given myself a longer period to achieve the challenge so I could have fitted training in to my current regime more easily without the worry of fatigue.
Judging on my performance tonight I won’t be a million miles away on June 15th.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything I guess!
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel to view video diary progress of this challenge.

Vegetarian diet. The step to Plant Power!

I’ve always believed that spur of the moment lifestyle decisions are often the ones that are most reliable, in tune with our inner self and less likely influenced by someone else’s agenda or that of the masses (the sheep factor). So when, three weeks before Christmas, I decided to eliminate meat intake from my diet and become vegetarian, I wasn’t at all daunted by the annual turkey and pigs in blankets festive binge period looming large on the horizon.

Why the change?

I didn’t go into it feeling like I was going to be denying myself anything. I had recently watched a short video on global livestock farming practices which had set my mind to work. I won’t divulge any information  from it as I don’t believe I am in a position to preach on the subject (I’ve spent over 40 years eating meat compared to 4 weeks not!) but it brought the subject from the area of my mind filed ‘taken for granted’ into an area more open for debate.

So how has it gone?

Someone asked me yesterday this very question and on reflection I have to say I have only missed eating meat on one occasion. Yes you’ve guessed it, Christmas dinner.
This fact alone suggests that it has been quite plain sailing. I do the majority of my own and my families cooking and have found it relatively straightforward to replace my meat with fish or extra vegetables rather than going down the route of meat substitutes like Quorn. I’m still cooking meat for my family.

How do I feel?

I was warned that I could feel weak or lethargic adopting a vegetarian diet. Far from it. I have stepped my sport training up over the period (swimming, cycling and running) and if anything have found myself more energised than ever. I also feel less bloated after meals.
There is a wealth of information now available to those looking at alternative diets,  for the health benefits or ethical beliefs, whether that includes meat or not. It’s not necessary to go down the full Vegetarian or Vegan route either, as I still eat fish and eggs my diet is currently that termed Pescatarian.
This change to my diet has certainly pushed me to broaden my intake of a wider variety of fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts which can only be a good thing even if I decide to start eating meat again (although I have no intention of this at this point in time!)
My advice is to try alternative nutrition programmes and see if they work for you. Listen to your body and your gut instinct, the only way you’ll know is by trying.

Get Your Bike Set-Up Right!

Professional Bike Fitter Dan, of Midland Bike Bit discusses the importance of setting a bike up correctly, injuries and ailments it can otherwise cause and tell tale signs that your current bike set-up may need adjustment.

“As a bike fitter, I see a slightly ‘skewed’ cross section of cyclists that come to visit the studio – at least 75% of the clients that visit are suffering to some degree when they ride their bikes. We hear about all kinds of aches, pains, niggles and quirks during our pre-fit interviews that are causing you to feel uncomfortable on your bike.”

If you are experiencing serious discomfort on the bike that seems to only occur when you ride, then chances are something is not right with your positioning. When talking about pain it may be acute discomfort in a specific area, or a chronic ache / niggle that builds over time. It is a common misconception that riding a road racing bike means putting up with a sore neck or numb hands – these are signs that that bike position isn’t right. Below are the most common issues we come across;

1. Back Pain
This is the number one bike fit related complaint we hear in the studio, and I would say as many as 1 in 3 riders suffer from it (although we do see a slightly ‘skewed’ cross-section of the cycling population). Anything from a slightly sore lower back after a longer ride, through to acute pains that force the rider off the bike – we have heard it all! The static nature of a road bike position is prone to cause problems if your bike is not set up correctly – being hunched over for long periods of time requires either a reasonable amount of flexibility and functionality to maintain, or some work off the bike in the form of stretching and core strengthening.
One-sided pain is also very common. This is usually the result of rider asymmetry, such as a leg length discrepancy or a difference in flexibility between the left and right sides of the body. If left uncorrected these issues will not usually disappear on their own (unless you do a lot of work off the bike) and must be dealt with so as not to cause problems in the future.

2. Knee Pain
This can be the most debilitating bike fit issue of all. If you have ever suffered from knee pain you will know what I am talking about, and when it does happen there is no getting away from it due to the repetitive nature of the pedal stroke. The causes of knee pain vary so much from one rider to the next, that it can be very hard to find the exact root cause of the problem. Usually the location of the pain in relation to the knee joint can give an indication as to possible solutions – for example a pain down the outside of the knee is often related to the iliotibial band (ITB) being stressed, and common causes for this are incorrect cleat rotation, too much saddle setback, a saddle that is too high etc etc….. But it is not always this simple to diagnose. There are more often lots of layers of compensation resulting from a problem somewhere else which finally result in knee pain. I read about a bike fitter who had a client that was suffering from knee pain, and after months of trial and error they found that the cause of the pain was misalignment of the lower jaw – the tiny compensations resulting from asymmetrical jaw alignment eventually caused the knee to hurt! Fair play to them for spotting that one….!

3. Numb Hands / Tired Arms
Numbness in the hands is usually the result of having too much weight on the front of the bike. Correct weight distribution is key to a good bike fit, and anyone that has been in for a session here will know that one of the things I focus on during the fit is ensuring that the upper body is largely un-weighted, and that there is not too much tension in the arms. Not only will this reduce pressure on the hands, it will also make you more efficient at higher intensities as you are not supporting your torso weight on the handlebars!

4. Saddle Soreness
Some riders will get lucky and find that their perfect saddle is the one that came on their bike. Other riders may not be so fortunate. The best way to find a saddle that is right for you is to try a few, and use the one that feels most comfortable and supportive. Some fit systems measure sitbone width to determine saddle selection – this does provide a good starting point but there is no guarantee that the saddle you then choose based on this will feel right. At our studio we stock a rang of Fizik and Prologo saddles which are available to test out and take away for a few rides to see whether it feels right after a few miles on the road.

5. Neck Ache
I tend to find that most riders suffer from a bit of upper back / neck ache especially on longer rides, however for a number of you this problem is more than just a bit of a pain in the neck (ahem..), it can get to the point where even on shorter rides the pain is causing you to stop riding and stretch out your neck muscles. The most common cause is the handlebar position – too low / too far away will cause you to crane your neck in an effort to look up the road, giving you that ‘chin forward’ posture that results in discomfort.

If you want further information or have specific questions you may need answering please use our forum.