Category Archives: Cycling

An Idiots Guide to Race Fuelling (By a running idiot!!)

Now getting everything right for a race is tough.  For runs it’s about getting your kit sorted, packing bags getting the obligatory kit photo before the race onto Twitter.  For Triathlon it’s all about trying to fit all the kit you think you need for the race into the car and then double checking you have the essentials!

The one thing I have never been very good at until I started to work with Science in Sport  asa brand ambassador was my Pre, During and Post Race Hydration and Fuelling. (This is obvious with my Blog on Hyponatremia) Luckily now that I’m a SiS Ambassador I have access to their team of nutritionists and Scientists.  This blog will refer to SiS products and will include a cheeky discount code at the end.  If you don’t like SiS then I’m sure it can be replaced by other brands but beware of things like osmosis! (More later)

So here is what I have gleamed from Ted Munson and the rest of the team…….

Pre racing –

To Carbo Load or not

Carbo loading was massive years ago but with current fuelling techniques and science, cramming pasta the night before a Marathon may not have such an effect as you hope.  Carbo loading needs to be done over time, one meal won’t make you a super hero.

Pre Hydrate

Losing just 3% of your fluid can make a huge performance dip.  With this in mind you need to pre hydrate.  Sports drinks are good but are full of sugar and water will not be absorbed by the body and just pass through.  I find the Go Hydro range is great for this.  With salts and virtually 0 calories it will keep your fluid and salt levels topped up ready for the start line.

Go Hydro

During the Race

If it is a short race (Less than an hour) you may not need fuel but caffeine could have an effect on you performance in a positive way.  I’ll talk about caffeine later.

Longer running Races – I as along with others used to fuel up too late.  We cannot absorb enough carbohydrate per hour to our usage so we will be in debt and this will cause issues later in the race.  With this in mind the guys at SiS say start fuelling early.  Don’t go on mileage but time.  If you like gels (My favourite is the Orange flavour) suggestion is 1 every 20 mins with 22grams of carbohydrate per gel the recommendation is between 60g to 90g per hour depending on your size.  I personally swap in a caffeine gel after an hour too and the 1 every further hour.

If you are a heavy sweater…. I am I look like a race horse after 10 miles! You need to think about salt replacement too! I love the Electrolyte Gels and they are perfect for this too!

Longer Cycling Races – People like to mix it up on the bike… Solid food, liquid and gels.  I love this approach but tend to lean towards liquids rather than solids.  On the bike I mix Gels and Go Energy Bars (25g of Carbs and low in fats) but also rely on Go Electrolyte Drinks too.  Lots of people don’t realise that as well as fluid and salts these drinks have 36g of carbs per 500ml this makes them ideal for simple fuelling on the bike.

SiS Energy

Post Race

My old idea of a glass of water or beer (depending on how bad the race went) the banana given to me at the end and a coffee if I could get one has topped.

I have found the delights of SiS Rego a protein shake that has all you need to refuel, replenish and repair after a race.  It has a mix of Carbs, Salts and Protein and when mixed with water it contains the fluid needed too.  Since using it on a regular basis I have noticed I don’t get DOMs as much after sessions and races.

If a shake is not possible (I always have a few in sachet form if away from home) the new Whey 20 protein gels are a good stop gap with some Go Hydro.  With 20g of Protein, some BCAs to help absorption and low calories it’s a great way of boosting your protein intake too!

If you have a heavy race/training schedule I would strongly suggest using the Overnight Protein too.  With a mix of Casein and Whey you get slow release throughout the night helping muscles to repair and prepare for the next day!

SiS Rego

Caffeine!

A lot has been written about the use of caffeine to help in sport.  Some love it and some don’t.  The theory is that it lowers your perception of effort.  This means you can work harder.

It’s defiantly something that’s worth playing with.  For long races, using a caffeine Gel 1 hour into an event can help, or 15mins before that killer hill!  If it is a short race with no need for extra energy  the new Caffeine Shots are great or the Go Hydro Caffeine are perfect as they can be taken pre-race.  Word of warning don’t leave trying caffeine to race day!

SiS Caffiene

Words of Wisdom (Not from Me!)

I had always been an athlete that saved my nutrition for best! However if you only use gels and other nutritional aids in races you will find you cannot push as hard as you could and not get the gains you want.  Train Smart = Fuel Smart this means up your carbohydrates and protein intake on training days.  To stay injury free and push yourself your body needs the fuel and protein, So Fuel to Train and Fuel to race!

Now as an ambassador I have a 10% discount code that I can share with people.  This will give you a further 10% off your basket regardless of any deals you have used on the SiS website.  This code can be used over and over again so feel free to use it!

AMBD1G0MUN                       #FulledByScience

2 Races and a Funeral

It has been a long time since I wrote on my blog, I have missed it but time and life have caused the major lack of activity!

Life has not been great over the past 3 months.  Training was going well pre Christmas, I actually enjoy the cold runs more than the summer (I know I’m weird!) and getting the pool, run and bike time juggle seemed to be working with all the balls in the air including work and family.  But then it happened!

My dad was taken into hospital on the 3rd January with an expected appendicitis.  No real biggy people have them all the time so life continues for us and planning to visit when he was home seemed the best option. A week later dad had to have a second operation and then a further week later on the 20th January he died in intensive care from Sepsis and pneumonia!

I had made the trip up to visit him in hospital after the second op and with a call from mum while I was at work when he had the 3rd my bag was packed and I was on my way to the hospital in Swindon.  Even at that point when mum had said that we needed to come it all seemed a little surreal.  He had been complaining the weekend before about the food, beds and noise and the question of how did it get to here is still one I cannot grasp.

Seeing you dad in ICU wired to every machine possible and being told that he would not make the night was an odd experience.  Trying to process it all, support mum and my sister seemed to take me into auto pilot.  So we sat, talked and stayed with him until at 5am when he died.  Sat in my mum’s kitchen at 7am nothing seemed right, we all felt numb and just spent the day crying and drinking tea shut off from the world.

I had heard that running was some peoples medicine from lots of different sources, I have always used it as a stress buster and great thinking time but it now became my time to think, prepare and step out of what was going on.  In the first 5 days post dad dying I turned to running to get out of the house.  People don’t stop to say they are sorry when you are running, or ask questions.  It was my time where I didn’t need to worry about others, well not for most of the run!

Dad had a dog, poor Bessie didn’t know what hit her! Her daily walks with dad around the town had suddenly changed to 5, 8, 10k runs!  She took it in her stride and I have to say was a perfect running companion, I didn’t need to make small talk, was happy to go whenever and happy to do what I wanted to do.

I found running my solstice with lots to organise and sort for mum.  Running gave me clarity and time to think.  I would like to say it was great training but time, distance and pace became irrelevant.  I ran for as long as I needed at the speed I wanted. No plans, no music, no goals.

So it’s now the End of March.  Dad was buried on the 10th February with snow falling in the Cemetery.   Life is slowly returning to normal.  The visits to see mum have reduced from a weekly to fortnightly, I worked pretty much though it all but it’s now back at full speed!  And as many of the poems I have read lately to find one for the funeral.  Life outside continues.  Life outside does continue and I still feel at times it’s happening around me and to me rather than with me but normality is beginning to return.

Life must be returning to normality, I have begun to look at races, I have even raced one! But I find myself continually thinking and being reminded of things.  I’m sure this will be the same always from now one but this seems to happen more when I’m running.  I think of my friends and wife who live and work in stressful lives and I tell them of my prescription, it costs very little, doesn’t involve waiting lists, drugs or fancy machines just a pair of trainers and some space.

So where do you go on your runs? I’m on about in your mind…… The journey is better than the end in that race but sadly there is no medal or strava segment for the solutions and clarity gained while running but it helps me remove the fog and return clarity in my mind.

I’m not a GP but I have an idea that will help save the NHS millions! #PrescriptionRuns

Garmin 735xt Review

When I was asked to test the new Garmin Forerunner 735XT for a couple of months I jumped at the chance.  It fell perfectly with the beginning of my journey into triathlon and as I own a VivoActive HR and a forerunner 610 personally neither of these were up to the new challenge completely.

The Garmin team sent me the 735XT Triathlon bundle to test which alongside the watch it came with a Swim and Triathlon heart rate monitor bands.  I had tried using HRM bands in the pool before and found them not to work very well so I was intrigued to see how it faired.  I have to say that the team at Garmin have got the box perfect, it’s sleek and looks desirable and not a huge deal of packaging witch is a great thing too.   With this aside it was the watch I was more interested in!

I like that Garmin’s come with some charge so if you are like me you can put it straight on the moment you get it out the package, it was easy to sync to Garmin Connect and within minutes I had switched to this as my activity tracker too and all my data had been shared with the watch.  I did charge the unit at bed time to make sure I began the next day with a full charge.

My first impressions were how sleek it was.  Looking more like the other round faced forerunners rather than the Fenix I felt this was a great design point as it would be a better size to wear daily and more importantly it had less bulk when it came to removing a wetsuit.  They have removed the touch screen facility which I think is a good idea in a sports watch as I regularity ‘turn off’ 610 when out running.

They seem to have redesigned the strap since the 610 model to a much simpler, more robust strap so this will last much better.  I have used the watch for 3 months everyday wearing 24/7 unless charging it.  I have had no discomfort, irritation or issues.  I’m a little clumsy and heavy handed and the watch still looks like new!

Quickly scrolling through the options the main new features not seen on other Garmin’s I have had to date were VO2 max predictions, Recovery Time feedback, Stride height, length and count as well as many other measurements that i don’t understand!  It also had all the usual feedback fields that you expect from Garmin.  The main plus point for this watch was the Triathlon setting in the activity list.  The list of activities that you can track are endless, with activities like Paddle Boarding and golf to mention 2.  You can download more via the IQ website too.

tri-route-pic

Connecting to GPS is super quick.  I have lost the need to do the connecting to GPS dance when starting a session, the connection happens within seconds which is great off to how it used to be with the old GPS watch’s.  I also notice the speed it took for it to sync with Garmin Connect.  Now I have sent t back and I have returned to using my VivoActive HR I have realised how much quicker it was to sync!  Battery life o the 735XT is good with it needing a charge roughly every 5 days with me wearing it constantly taking writs HRM data and training at least for 4 sessions a week.  The charging clip has been changed once more but is easy to use and secure, gone of the days of it being knocked and not charging!

The Triathlon setting is a great idea and I found to work well.  In a nutshell when it is in Triathlon mode when you hit go it will track an open water swim, when you push the back button it goes into ‘transition mode’ then hit it again it begins cycle tracking, then transition on the next press before moving to run mode on the last.  This was great for my first race as I could see using the Tri HRM strap how much effort I was putting in and get good feedback on each part of the race.  The results were almost spot on with the race timing too!

Now to the HRM Straps!  As mentioned earlier they sent the Tri bundle with 2 straps a blue swim strap and a black tri strap (blue unit on front of the strap).  The watch naturally finds each band without asking it to and downloads data at the end of a session quickly and easily.  I have never had much luck with a swim HRM before as I have a dip in my chest from an ice-hockey injury, bands have previously gapped as I have pushed off the wall.  The swim band is less stretchy with only a small area that stretches and made from a plastic material which grips the skin better when wet.  You need to wear it fairly tight but I found it worked perfectly.  Wearing the band also gives you further information as stroke rate, max stroke rate and stroke length.

The reason they send 2 straps is that the normal Tri strap will work for Swim, Bike and Run but needs to be worn under a wetsuit/Trisuit within a swim.  Stupidly I never tried the band in the pool under a tri suit to see how effective it was as I think ladies may get away with using this one all of the time under a swimming costume.  The days of the standard HRM bands that just reported your heart rate are now dead! The data you can get from these bands is incredible and if you are a serious athlete the information you and you coach can gain will be very helpful.

The inbuilt wrist HRM I have found to be the most accurate to date I have used.  It doesn’t need to be worn super tight and will track well even during activity (Not in swimming).  I feel Garmin are at the forefront of wrist HRM technology and I have never had an issue.

Just a word of warning I asked the team at Garmin if the bands work with other models, they will but you need to double check there compatibility.  It won’t work with the older forerunner watches or the VivoActive HR to my disappointment!

As I got this watch when I was returning from injury I have been doing a lot of indoor sessions I was impressed at how easy it was to sync the watch to record data from doth the Watt Bikes and Stages indoor bikes in my local gym.  You can choose what data is recorded also.  The indoor pool setting was very accurate too and easy to switch between pool lengths as regularly switch between a 20m outdoor and 25m indoor pool.

Now the 735XT is not cheap, but if you are looking for a watch for triathlon that you can use as a daily watch.  I don’t think you can get anything better.  The functionality and data you can get from it will suit everyone from those starting out looking to improve right up to the seasoned athlete doing some Swim Bike and Run.  If the Tri bundle is too expensive in 1 hit you can buy the straps separately, this will end up being more expensive in the long run but it would spread the cost.  I was really gutted to have to end it back to them and ended up having it for 3 months rather than the 1 that had been agreed and still felt gutted when I took it to the post office!  I’m going to have to start saving up to buy one!

garmin-735xt

Beginning to Tri – So i’m now a Triathlete

So i can now honestly say i’m a triathlete, well maybe only a open water sprint distance one but with 2 sprint tri’s under my belt i can still be classed as a novice but i did it.  So what have i learnt?

  • It’s a great event to get involved in! i have loved trying something new, even coming form injury and having poor fitness a sprint tri is achievable and still good fun.
  • You don’t need to buy the gear – lots of people doing sprints buy loads of expensive kit but you wont look out of place on a mountain bike and a surf wetsuit if you want to see how you go.
  • You wont be the only newbie! Both events had lots of new to tri racers.
  • It will help you stay Injury Free! Having to mix your training up across 3 events has stopped me over training and get back to fitness!
  • Each race is different, you cannot compare BUT you will want to do more!

So now my first tri season is over, whats next? Do i have a winter of running? I fancy trying some Cyclo Cross and Duathlons too!  I need to build my base back up both in speed and mileage across Swim, Bike and Run.  I have 2 more pounds of weight to lose and i have decided i want to build on this year and try a few Olympic distance races next year.  Speaking to others it sounds like quiet a step up so here is my winter plan!

  1. Regain focus and build a good training base over all areas
  2. Do some of the Wild Night Trail races to help build strength and running stamina
  3. Stay injury free by stretching and working on my core
  4. Build my speed back up both on swim, bike and run!
  5. have a go at a CX and Duathlon if i can find some locally.
  6. Take my nutrition more seriously, especially around recovery and repair

So i guess now it’s here the only thing to do is get going! Starting as i mean to go on! pool session planned for Monday morning.  Oh and also the fun bit……….

What races do i enter next season? More to Follow! 😉

 

Cotswold Sprint Triathlon Review

I entered this sprint Tri for 2 reasons, it was very close to my parents (free accommodation) and i spent many a great day swimming in the lake so really wanted to race there.

Pre-race information was good and the pack given out at the sign in the day before had further information to put even the most unorganised or newbie at ease.  Signage to the event car parks was good and easy to follow.

Race day parking was well marshalled and organised and quickly i was in, parked and starting to get my kit ready.  I was able to find my racking point the day before and go through exits and entries in a calmer and less stressed surroundings.

My initial observation was that the transition area felt very small.  With racking for 500 the gangways between the racking was very tight.  With this in mind i kept kit to a minimum and on a small towel.  More on this later.

The 750m swim was across the lake from the near bank before taking a left turn and then a further left to return to the original bank but nearer the transition point.  The lake was clear and fairly warm.  This was my first lake race this year and it was a nice change from salty, choppy water.

Race briefing was clear and done to each group as we entered the water.  The waves were of about 50 people but as we cuold spread along the bank the start was not as frantic as i have had in previous races.  The depth of the lake was undulating and i never encountered problems but i did hear of some that ‘drifted’ of he route getting grounded.

Swim exit was via a rubber mat covered ramp.  The ramp just touched the water.  I didn’t realise this and on exit went to put my foot down and there was nothing there!  To exit i had to get my fingers into the matting and crawl out.

The route from the swim to transition was not too long (I was near the run/swim end, furthest from the bike exit/entry)  Quick change, making sure to tuck my kit under the racking and i headed off for the bike leg.  My earlier concerns about the size of transition soon proved correct.  I got stuck behind a athlete who was getting his kit on then walking out of transition.  I also found myself walking over/running my bike over others wetsuits as they had not tucked them away.

Once out on the bike course it was well marshalled and easy to follow as like the swim course it was basically a large rectangle.  The roads were fairly flat with only one major junction to cross which was manned by the local police.  There was a technical section involving a few left and right turns in quick succession but once again this was well marshalled.

As a Non drafting race, the straight flat roads made this much easier to comply.  The trickiest part of the cycle was the dismount and transition.  The dismount line was on the road with a sharp left turn off the road into the transition.  This was a little hairy as some left it a little too late to stop!

Transition was once again cramped, i got stuck behind a cyclist walking in and then by a group of relay runners stood in the way waiting for their team mates.

So i headed out on the run, i was looking forward to this as it was a trail run around the lake.  I was worried that i had brought the wrong shoes as it had rained the night before and i had brought my road trainers.  It was a little greasy at times and i may have been a little quicker but it wasn’t a major issue!

The 2 laps of the lake was a refreshing change from road or path based runs and was very picturesque.  After the second lap you had to double back on yourself to run up the finish funnel.  I heard some had fallen as the corner was wet from the nights rain.  I just slowed, turned and began again and had no issues.

I crossed the line, got my medal and headed to get my timing sheet.  Not only had i done a fast run i was happy with my swim too!  Packing up and getting going was simple.  The carpark was easy to get out of and not that hectic.

Would i do it again? Yes, when does the entries open? i have a time to beat!

Pros:

  • Well organised
  • Clear, warm lake swim
  • Easy to navigate
  • Good Marshalling

Cons:

  • Transition was too small
  • Pontoon water Exit would have been better than short ramp

Bideford Triathlon

The Bideford Tri is a Local club and Rotary Club run event where all profit goes to charity.  It’s a great sprint tri that is very friendly but still challenging.  Facilities are good with a large long stay car park and toilets within 100m of the finish line.  Race start time depends on tide times so can vary.

The Swim is a straight 600m river swim with the tide from downstream back to transition, The water is not very clear and the tidal race can catch you out on the swim out to the first bouy from the shore.

Transition was easy to navigate and there was lots of support.The bike leg is well marshalled and easy to follow (i never did a pre drive and had no issues) Be warned though this is by no means a flat course! The 24km bike course weaves it’s way around the little villages around Bideford and has 1 enforced foot down junction,  But with tough uphills there are some super fast downhills too.  There is a good flat/downhillish last 500m to spin the legs out before transition too.Bid Profile

The run was perfect after the hills, The route takes you over the old bridge and out and back on the flat Tarka trail.  Thre was a well place water station at the turn point too.  The run was well supported in the final stages across the bridge and into the finish funnel.

This is a small race (Max 250) with a real friendly feel.  This would be perfect fr both newbie triathletes to try there first Open Water race as well as the die hard racers to test yourself with a hilly bike course.

As with the title, this race would be a great race to do whilst down in sunny Devon on your hols due to being in August.

The organsers were super helpful and friendly and it had a great atmosphere!

Hope to see you all next year!

Garmin VivoActive HR Review

So through the @FitnessRewards ½ price Garmin Scheme I upgraded from my much loved VivoSmartHR to the new VivoActiveHR.  The unit has not been available that long in the UK and I had been waiting for some time to be able to buy one with desperate hopes that it would not disappoint me.

As always, the time from order to delivery was swift and I was very excited to unwrap my new toy.  I love the new box designs from Garmin with the clear window luring you into getting the new bit of kit out of the box and onto your wrist.  This had a negative fact for me as I didn’t sync my VivoSmartHR fully before setting the new one up which meant I lost 8000 steps but it was a small price to pay to get the new watch on my wrist.

The new VivoActiveHR does all the smart things that the VivoSmartHR does but with the added bonus of a much larger screen and GPS to make it a great basic training watch.  Personally I feel this may become the watch of choice as a multi-sport watch over the forerunners as the price point (£209) puts it in the run watch market.  You can track daily steps and activity, activity minutes, receive Smart notifications from your phone and control your music to mention just a few.

I noticed the colour screen was clear and crisp straight away and I know some like the square design of the old version but I love the sleeker wrap round design much nicer and more of a daily watch than a training watch.

I have worn the watch every day and night since its purchase and find it very comfortable and easy to use.  I found the syncing with my iphone very easy and navigating through the menus child’s play.  I am a big Garmin fan and I know some prefer other platforms for their feedback but I find the Garmin Connect app simple, smart and versatile.

I guess the real test came with training, as I have moved into triathlon I wanted to get a watch that could record all 3 training disciplines so I was keen to try all three.  The display is nice and big and easy to see both on day and night runs and using a rubber bike mount I could see the read out with ease when on the bike.  It has settings to track every activity you can think of and also you can download more in the IQ app.

I find that the GPS connects super quick and I no longer have to do the ‘standing for a signal’ dance pre runs as I have with Garmin’s of the past.  Garmin have really worked on this over the models.  The same can be said for the optical HR.  I haven’t done a direct comparison with a HR Strap but I’m happy that the range is very close to that of my strapped GPS.  (Optical HR does not work on swim mode)

I was more intrigued to see how it would fair with the swim.  The VivoActiveHR is not set up to log Open water swimming but can record pool swims, however I have now downloaded an app from Garmin IQ Store which supports the watch for this but at point of writing this I have not tested it out.  So the pool length can be set for different pools which is ideal as I train in both a 25m and 20m pool.  I was really impressed with accuracy and feedback you get on swim sessions and this has really helped me to improve.

The IQ app is great, simple to use and gives you lots of options to personalise your watch.  As Garmin develop more watch’s the watch faces and apps become even more varied, all that I have found so far were free too.

I have found the battery live to be good.  I tend to stick it on charge every 5 days while I sleep as I have become less transfixed by my sleep patter as of late.

So was it worth the wait? I absolutely love it!  It is simple to use ideal for day to day use and is great to indoor swims, runs (Indoor and out) and Rides.  If you are looking for a stylish day to day watch that can track steps and intensity as well as then switch into training more without the bulk of a training watch I would look no further.