23 Jul 2014

Tri…as you might

All Articles, Nutrition Advice, Training Advice, Triathlon, Triathlon, Triathlon, Triathlon 1 Comment


This year three of us decided to compete in the New Forest Triathlon (Olympic Distance) on the 6th July. This was the second triathlon we had each done… so we were confident we knew what to expect. We had it all planned out… oh yes we had it all planned out.

Wake up call. Well it would have been had I not set my alarm for weekdays and it was a Saturday.


Finally wake up…late. I scramble my gear together, wolf down porridge with the other lads and strap bikes on the back of the car.

Finally we’re ready to go. Lars puts the keys in the ignition and turns. Clickclickclickclick. He’s left the lights on overnight and the battery is dead. Ouch.

The obvious solution is to transfer to AK’s car but his car keys are in the house and we’ve left the only set of house keys inside with the rest of the group so they can lock up when they leave to join us later in the morning. Eventually, after a scour around the house to spot any open doors or windows, we have to wake everyone up. Lars’ will have to deal with the fallout later.


We’ve wheeled the dead car out of the way (the spare car was blocked in), transferred the bike rack, bikes and gear and we’re off on the road. Running late but we should be able to make it…

6:40am (estimate)
We arrive at the race car park thinking we still had enough time.

6:50am (estimate)
Wheeling our bikes and kit into the change-over area, we realise that we are alone. Most of the changeover slots are already taken so we quickly spread out to find available spaces. As I find a spot over on the far side I hear AK shout from something from across the way.

I shout back, ‘What?’

‘They’ve started. Hurry we’ve gotta move!’

AK already had his wetsuit half on and started running down the hill towards the water part of the course. I dumped my bag, grabbed my wetsuit and pulled it on as quickly as I could. Googles: check. Swim cap: check. Race timer strap: check. I started running, pulling the arms of my wetsuit on as I hurled myself down the hill.

AK and Lars were already in the water by the time I reached the start. I recognised the race marshal who had given the safety briefing the day before. He was standing on a raised section of the water break waving me on. ‘Go! Go!’ He obviously found these three stragglers quite amusing as he was laughing with his colleague as I jumped into the water.

6:55am (estimate. We think they had actually started the race early…)
I could see way ahead of me the main triathlon swim group; the leaders were already half way around the course. I took a couple of deep breaths while I adjusted my googles for a snug fit. At this point I knew that the competitive side of the race was clearly over, but I wasn’t overly concerned. While it’s great to have some competition around to keep you motivated, we were really there for the New Forest experience.

I dove into the estuary water. The game now was about catch up. I swam out confidently, at least for say the first 100m. My arms were quickly tiring. Too quickly. I hadn’t actually put my wetsuit on since the last triathlon I did a couple of years back…and although I knew it was a perfect fit, it felt tight in the upper torso and around the arms. Finally I succumbed to exhaustion and stopped to readjust. Not particularly professional. After pulling the wetsuit further up my body I started out again. I was way behind; not only of the whole group but I couldn’t even see Lars and AK up ahead. I swam on. Much more comfortable, I began to find my rhythm.

The rest of the swim went well. Luckily the race marshals were there to guide me in their kayaks though as I had almost no idea where I was going; one disadvantage of being so far behind the group. As I swam I thought about the next stage; the bike ride. More specifically I thought about the interchange. I had almost nothing prepared. Classic how not to do a triathlon…

As I reached the interchange I reminded myself not stress out. We were late – it was what it was. Just enjoy the course. There I bumped into Lars, who had clearly reached the same conclusion; he had a big grin across his face.

‘Don’t worry, just do it! Shall I wait?’
‘No no. Push on – I’ll catch you on the ride.’

I pull off my wetsuit and fumbled through my bag for my race number and safety pins to attach it to my shirt. I chuckled to myself. I should have at least done this in the car… Next up: energy. I grabbed a couple of sachets of Orbana and hastily emptied them into one of my water bottles. Too hastily. Normally when I mix my Orbana I put the powder in first and then add water. Now reversing the process, I realised that I hadn’t allowed enough space to add the powder and be able to shake it all up. It turned into a fairly messy process. What an idiot. Luckily I had my spare water bottle to rinse my hands with.

Finally, after possibly one of the longest changeovers in triathlon history, I set off on the bike. What a beautiful day it was; and to be honest those first few kilometres riding on my own through the New Forest were totally glorious. This was why we had chosen this event.

Every few kilometres, on the flat, I sipped some Orbana. Disclaimer: Before I rant on about how great a product Orbana is, I should declare that I have worked for Orbana.

Rant on.

Not too sweet, not too strong tasting, but packed full of energy and energy supporting ingredients. I often drink Orbana before I play football and sometimes just when I have a busy day and I’m running on empty. But when you have a three hour triathlon on your hands it’s time to up the dose. My 2 sachets in about 650ml of water was perfect. I drank it all during the course of the bike ride and although I admit to perhaps not being in the best condition I’ve ever been in, I didn’t lack for energy during the whole event.
Rant off.

Towards the end of the bike ride I had finally started to catch up with some the stragglers at the back of the race. Ok most of these guys were probably +10 years older than me (good on them they were doing absolutely great) but it helped psychologically to have finally caught up with the group.

At the interchange I bumped into Lars again. He had been taking his time prepping for the run (i.e. toilet break) and he waited a couple of minutes for me so that we could set off on the run together. We started at a steady pace, but relaxed enough to chat…at least for the couple of kilometres. After we had joked about the various antics of the morning I let him take off at a faster pace. I kept him in sight for a while, but eventually lost him in the woods. The end of a triathlon is always hard; the closer you get to the end the more you push yourself. We had walked along the last section of the run the day before, when we had gone for a warm up swim in the estuary, so as I started to recognise the path I picked up the pace. The last section was uphill for about 40metres. Can’t slack now. Not with everyone clapping and cheering you on. Finally I cross the finish mat.

Total course distance: 1km swim, 44km bike, 11km run.
Total Time: 3:05hrs.
Position: 60 out of 79

After factoring in our late start as well as lost time in the first changeover (due to disorganisation) I put my overall course time at about 2:45hrs which makes it a personal best. I’ll allow that. After all it was my birthday.

Moral of the story: Tri as you might, you can never over-prepare.

Nutrition Consumption (did me proud):

Large bowl of porridge, chopped banana and honey for breakfast.
1 x 50g sachet diluted in 250ml water 30 mins before the start
2 x 50g sachets diluted in 450ml of water consumed during the bike ride
1 x 50g sachet diluted in 350ml water after the event for recovery

Team Stats (official and unadulterated):

Total Time Position Time Splits (swim/bike/run)
AK 2:52hrs 38/79 00:25:04, 01:24:13, 01:02:57
Lars 3:02hrs 56/79 00:29:05, 01:31:35, 01:01:33
Xander (me) 3:05hrs 60/79 00:33:41, 01:28:21, 01:02:56




17 Jan 2014

Your Coach – Training Tip #2 – Planning The Year

General, Running, Training Advice, Triathlon, Your Coach No Comments

The athlete who trains the same, stays the same. In order to make progress, or at least avoid slowing down, one should change the direction of one’s training and plan the remainder of the year. Any particular routine loses its effectiveness after a few months, so it is best to have three or perhaps four phases during the year. In December and January, when the weather is at its worst, you will probably go into ‘maintenance mode’, then work on either endurance during February and March, then race-specific training during April and May, which will lead you into competing through May and June. Those who are looking for an autumn event, with a 3-month build-up, will start this in July or August, peaking for an event in October or November.

If you are a serious cross-country runner you may start your racing year in the autumn, have an easy period over Christmas and then get back into cross-country from January to March. If your interests are in track running rather than road or trail events, you will need to start track training as soon as the weather permits – maybe one or two sessions in February, one a week in March and two a week in April.

Maintenance training means doing three or four sessions a week, to avoid losing too much fitness. At least two of these should be steady three or four mile runs, and the other days might be 30-minute gym sessions, involving some all-round weight training and ten or fifteen minutes on the treadmill or the exercise bike.

If you want to make real improvement, I suggest that you try one or more of the following routines:
1. Hill training, running fast up the hill and jogging slowly back. The length of the run can be anything from one to three minutes, and it should be repeated weekly over 8-10 weeks, gradually increasing the number of repetitions. Sometimes one can alternate ‘short hills’ and ‘long hills’.
2. High mileage training. If you are one of those putting in 25 to 30 miles a week, try building up to a half or full marathon, increasing the weekly mileage gradually until you are doing 60 or 70 miles a week and running a long race at the end of it.
3. High quality training. Too many of us just ‘go for a run’, which is probably no faster than marathon race pace and does not take you any further forwards. During my track career I relied largely on interval training, doing three sessions a week plus a race.If you go to the track and do 12 or 15 x 400m, with a 90-second recovery, you will find out exactly how fit you are. The next session would be 6 or 8 x 800m, and the hardest sessions will be reps over 1200 or 1600m (1 mile). Once the number of reps and the recovery time are fixed, you try to get faster week by week
4. Training camps. If you can’t get away for a week in the spring, you can always try a hard training weekend with your club, putting in a good session on Friday night, two sessions on Saturday and either two sessions or a long run on the Sunday. This will give you the boost you need to raise your level of fitness.

Bruce Tulloh – Your Coach

For any of Bruce’s current books: The Teenage Runner, Running is Easy and Running over 40,50,60,70 please visit www.TullohBooks.com -  if you enter ORBANA after your order you will qualify for an additional discount.

17 Jan 2014

How does caffeine affect the body & athletic performance?

All Articles, Nutrition Advice 11 Comments
coffeeThere are a couple of different things to weigh up when considering this question….namely what are the short term performance benefits of caffeine versus the long term health implications of consistently consuming high levels of caffeine on the body.The changes caffeine makes in your physiology can have both positive and negative consequences. Read more

29 Nov 2013

The Inner Chimp Video

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We’ve all been there…we’ve woken up too early in the morning, hit the snooze button on the alarm and thought, I’ll give training a miss this morning. It’s going to rain, it’s too cold and I’ve been training hard all week are all common excuses. Read more

29 Nov 2013

Heart Rate Training Zones

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Mel RydingSomeone recently asked me if I could explain what the benefits of heart rate training was, so I thought I would try and explain, from my own personal viewpoint. Read more

09 Oct 2013

DOMS – What’s the best cure and treatment?

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I went to visit my strength and conditioning coach, David Sutton, this weekend for some treatment. I knew it would be a tough session, and expected to be worked to the limits. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when I had serious aches and pains the following day. I also was trying to figure out my schedule of training for the week, and had planned a hard turbo session on the following evening. Judging by the aches, I decided this was perhaps not wise and opted for a recovery run.

While trotting / hobbling round the run, the topic for this blog suddenly came to me… what IS the best cure for DOMS? So, lets see….

What is DOMS?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness was originally associated with lactic acid build up, but it is now thought to be related to ‘microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. Any movement you aren’t used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contractions (movements that cause muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens) seem to cause the most soreness.’ http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/injuries/a/doms.htm

Your age, athletic conditioning and skeletal muscular system are believed to be the main contributing factors. Young athletes are susceptible due to their conditioning not being fully developed, whereas older athletes are also susceptible due to age, shifting hormonal status and slower recovery response.

It cannot be lactic acid, because research shows the levels of lactic acid in the muscles returns to normal within 30-60 minutes. http://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/archive/1077-muscle-soreness.htm

‘exercise causes muscle damage and then muscle protein breakdown, resulting in cell inflammation and increased local muscle temperature. Pain receptors are activated, causing the sensation of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Further research suggests that muscle damage alone may not be the best explanation for the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Inflammation and swelling should also be considered as they also activate and sensitise pain sensors around the muscle fibres’

What is the best cure?

There is, it seems, no one simple way to treat DOMS. In fact, there has been an ongoing debate about both the cause and treatment of DOMS. There is lots of conflicting advice as to how it is best treated.

Here are the most favoured cures, in order of effectiveness from best to worst:

COMPRESSION GARMENTS:There is a lot of research suggesting these do in fact work. I don’t use mine anywhere near regularly enough to be able to comment though! http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2009/09000/The_Effects_of_Compression_Garments_on_Recovery.23.aspx


SPORTS MASSAGE:deep tissue massage is said to help with DOMS pain, although it may not help with muscle function. There’s a detailed, referenced explanation here: http://anabolicminds.com/forum/exercise-science/6256-doms-treatments-long.html  PERSONALLY I certainly think for me it helps a great deal.I get my sports massage is from Phil Croney: http://www.sprintsportsmassage.co.uk/pages/home.php

GENTLE EXERCISE / ACTIVE RECOVERY: it seems gentle exercise promotes increased blood flow which improves healing. This in turn will help with the pain. This effect could however, be short lived. I would agree with that. After gentle recovery runs, DOMS feel better, but after I have been seated again for a while, the aches do tend to return.

ICE BATHS:the theory here is to constrict blood flow and therefore reduce swelling. This is widely used amongst pro athletes and does seem to have some short term benefits. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/Ice-Bath.htm

REST: Of course, you could just rest. The effects will go away in 3-5 days. Most athletes are not keen to do this however, as inconsistent training interrupted due to waiting each time DOMS takes hold may have an even more damaging effect on performance overall.

YOGA:there is SOME evidence to suggest this may help, but it is hard to isolate the variables. Maybe it is more a case of a variety of movements prepares the muscles better for the workload. This would tie this in closely with the effects of a proper warm up.

ANTI INFLAMMATORY DRUGS:  There is some conflict in opinion, but in generalit seems not! There is little evidence to support this.

GENTLE STRETCHING:It seems that if done wrong, this can cause, rather than prevent DOMS. If you are going to stretch, it should be done immediately following exercise while the muscles are still warm. Research suggests that this does not help at all. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2489863

Melanie Ryding













07 Oct 2013

The different types of sports drinks

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Orbana Healthy EnergyClearly hydration for sports is important – however when considering how to maximise energy whilst staying hydrated there are a few more things to understand.

The two main factors that contribute to fatigue during endurance performance are depletion of body’s carbohydrate stores and dehydration.
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11 Jul 2013

Your Coach Training Tip : Injuries

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There are no serious runners who can say:”I’ve never had an injury”, but you will find that the top-flight, in spite of doing 100 miles a week, are very seldom injured. This is partly because they are an ideal build for running, but also because they are very sensitive to the signs of impending trouble and take action immediately. Read more

11 Jul 2013

Cawes Cycling Team: Elite Squad Testimonials

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The Cawes Cycling Team based in Philadelphia, have been using Orbana on their long rides, read on about the fantastic things that they have to say about using Orbana.
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11 Jun 2013

Your Coach Training Tip: Get Off The Road

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The last couple of years have seen a great increase in trail running, and in the ‘crazy’ events which involve mud, river crossings obstacles and steep hills.  Read more

07 Jun 2013

Blog: Longer Rides

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Longer Rides (13th May – 26th May)

ah_blogAfter my unfortunate collision with a dog, which could have been a lot worse for the both of us, my only injury was a sore wrist. I was going to give the pool a wide berth for the next few days. Given my love-hate relationship with swimming I wasn’t too bothered! Read more

02 Apr 2013

Marathon Nutrition – Your Coach

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Fuelling a marathon

The marathon is a fuel economy run. This is certainly the case for the sub-three-hour brigade, who are running almost entirely on carbohydrate. For those over four hours it is less important, because at a slower pace the body is burning up fat, but even the slower runners will benefit from an energy boost.
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20 Mar 2013

New Blogger – Welcome Alex Houghton!

All Articles, Cycling, Cycling, General, News & Events, Running, Running, Swimming, Swimming, Training Advice, Triathlon, Triathlon No Comments

ah_blogAlex is like many of us – he has a busy life and fits in his training in and around his commitments. Alex is going to be submitting his blog every other week to let you know what training he is doing in preparation of an Ironman in Switzerland later on this year. Read more

11 Mar 2013

Secrets to preventing Cramp

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What Causes Cramp?

Muscle cramp has a number of main causes, the most frequent of these are fatigue, low sodium and potassium, low blood sugar. Loss of electrolytes through sweat is the most common one for athletes.
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07 Oct 2011

Kevin Holt: The benefits of ice baths

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Triathletes often think, “How much training can I do?” What rarely comes to mind is, “How much and how well can I recover after training?” One of the best ways to aid an athlete’s recovery is through ice baths. An ice bath is when one submerges part of his or her body in ice-cold water.

Why are ice baths needed? While exercising, small microtears in tendons, ligaments and muscles are created. To help aid the healing of these microtears the body pumps more blood to these areas so white blood cells can repair the damaged tissue. This creates swelling. These microtears are actually good because the body will repair the damaged muscle to be even stronger and better at handling the training stimulus that is placed on it. However, these small tears can cause delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) along with the swelling described earlier.

Ice baths are a great way to combat the side effects created through triathlon training. Ice baths will help one close the microtear damage. This means swelling is kept to a minimum. The baths also help flush out any excess waste products as more circulation happens due to the cold submersion.

How can one set up and use an ice bath to be beneficial in recovery? Often athletes and coaches use large trash buckets to hold the cold water and ice. This allows the athletes to soak their legs. The water should not be extremely cold, as research has shown an adverse effect on the muscles and their recovery if the temperature is 40F (5 C) or below. Best results are yielded at temperatures in the range of 50 to 60F degrees (10 to 15 C). The length of the submersion should be 5-12 minutes.

Using ice packs to mimic the same environment as an ice bath does not work as well. Ice packs have been shown that they do not keep the muscle temperature low for as long after exposure as does immersion in an ice bath; one’s muscle temperature warms up much more rapidly due to one’s blood flow rushing back quicker. Ice baths are something that I have used and they have made my legs feel great after long workouts. A few studies have also confirmed the beneficial results from using cold-water submersion to lessen recovery time

Check out Kevin’s blog: www.ironholt.blogspot.com