Ironman UK 2014


August 26, 2014 | Posted in General | By

Below I will try and succinctly outline my experiences during the run up to and during the IMUK 2014 in which I beat my Personal Best!!!

Friday consisted of going to the Ironman UK Registration Tent at the Reebok (sorry Macron) Stadium in Bolton and registering which basically involves picking up my ‘free’ backpack with my numbers etc. in there. At this point I also broke the cardinal rule of purchasing some new Goggles and Socks to wear on the Sunday. I also brought some race nutrition in the form and Guu Roctane Gels and Salt Stick Tablets. Oh and some new Chamois cream which is a must.

I then went back to Pennington Flash for a quick dip and swam around the much reduced course that they set up to test out the new goggles and to remind myself of the key places to sight during the swim so that I can run through this visually throughout the remainder of the weekend. I also made an effort to simulate making my way from the water to T1; again to help visual the process and to make sure there are no surprises for me in store on the day. I then made may way back to the Macron Stadium to attend the Race Brief which doesn’t really give you too much in the way of information that your shouldn’t already know but, for me anyway, it helps to set the stall for the remainder of the weekend and is a good source of motivation.

This is the lightest day for me in many senses of the word. After eating all of the food that I want to on the Friday, trying to stick to healthier type Carbs, I try to eat light snacks throughout the day so that my stomach never feels too full during the day.

The day consisted of packing my Transitions Bags, which I find can be one of the most stressful things to do as you are constantly second guessing yourself and pack and un-packing your bags to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything or you have enough nutrition and ‘aides’ in the bag that you may or may not need on the day.

Once this is done it was a matter of making my way to T1 in Pennington Flash and T1 at the Macron Stadium and racking my bike and leaving my T1 and T2 bags behind. I then made my way home and chilled out enjoying my traditional glass of red wine the night before.

I woke up early feeling engerised and fine in myself that I had done all the preparation I could to make it to the start line feeling confident. I made sure to get to the Transition in plenty of time and took my time making sure to leave it as late as possible before going into the water as experience told me that you don’t want to be in the water too long, but you don’t want to leave it too late as there are always people streaming into the water as the hooter sounds! So far so good…

I decided that I would start at the front of the group as I am confident of being in the hustle and bustle of the ‘mosh pit’ that is the mass start of the swim. The hooter sounded and I decided to go for it in the first hundred metres or so to give myself a bit of space. That was until someone knocked my goggles off during the first 25 metres forcing me to swallow what felt like half of the Flash and started me off on what felt like a panic attack.

I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t put my head under the water, I was wading in a sort of breaststroke type fashion with a mass of 2,000 people swimming right over the top of me. I thought that I was done! I mean really done, I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe. I must admit that for a split second I did think of quitting, I very small split second!

Then I started to think about all of the effort I had put in during my training and the effort my family and friends who where there watching me had made and I decided that I could carry on regardless. I had to start front crawling very slowly breathing every stroke on the same side for a couple of minutes and then every other stroke until I could resume my normal stroke. I did this halfway down the first straight before getting into my usual rhythm. Once I got into my rhythm I took my time for the rest of the two laps, drafting wherever I could and generally going with the flow. Upon finishing my second lap I was happy with my 1hr21 swim time, especially after the start that I had.

As a learn from this I would not recommend getting into the thick of the action at the start of the swim unless you are confident that you are going to record a fast time (sub-1hr). Also, if you do find yourself in trouble the worst thing that you can do is panic, just take you time, change up to breaststroke if you need to and slowly put yourself back into your rhythm. You have put too much effort in to quit at this point!!!!

T1 was completely as expected, I knew where my Bag was, where the chairs were for getting changed and putting my shoes on and ultimately where my Bike was. I think that this was from reshersing this on the Friday after the Swim and on the Saturday after racking my Bike. Make effort to reherse this and continue to run through it mentally over the weekend. These are the simple things that make your day so much smoother and let you get off to a relaxed start on the bike.

I set off nice and easy on the bike, and continued to do so for the first out and half a lap (about 40miles) feeling really strong and overall I felt good. My nutrition was spot on to plan and I aimed to drink 1.5 litre of liquid per hour which is a bit over the top but it was extremely hot on the day (for the North of England anyway) and somebody as big as me needs to drink, drink and drink some more when conditions are like that. I did start to tire and flag on the back end of the second lap but this was due to the heat and the hilly undulating course (one of the Pro’s said that this was a 30 mins slower course than last year due to the hills) but kept my heart rate down and maintained a steady cadence whenever I could and made it to the end of the bike pretty much intact and looking forward to getting off the bike and starting the run.

My aim before the event was to try start the run with 9 hours or less on the clock. I did so in 09:01:16 which I’ve got to be pretty happy with on a tough Bike Course in tough conditions. The aim from there was to beat my PB of just under 14 hours which I knew would be pretty difficult considering the heat. The marathon course is a tough drag and is by no mean flat! One good and bad thing is the repeated three 6 mile(ish) laps at the end. They are good in the fact that there is a massive concentration of the spectators watching the event who make a hell of a lot of noise. The they are bad in the sense that you can see the athletes infront of you with 3 of the arms bands that you collect on the completion of each lap before you have even started your second lap!! There are also plenty of aid stations on the Run which provide a good array of the nutrition that you need.

Overall I beat my PB which was all I really ever wanted to do and am really proud of my achievements. Also, I raised over £1,000 for my chosen charity Scope which I am immensely proud of!!!


Cotswold 113


June 16, 2014 | Posted in General | By

Hi there

It’s been quite a while since my last post about the purchase of my new bike. I’ll keep this short but since my last post have been continuing my training towards the IMUK 2014 whilst fitting in a very very busy schedule at work. Even though I have not be posting on here I have been continuing to read quite a lot around the topic of triathlon and will post a further update on a great book I have read by Chris McCormack called I’m Here to Win. Anyway I’ll move on…


So yesterday I completed the Middle Distance Triathlon the Cotswold 113. It is called a middle distance as it is basically a half ironman with slightly shorter bike section (51 miles I think). I would highly recommend this triathlon which is really well organised with a massively relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Plus the course is pretty much pancake flat!!

So how did it go? You ask. Well… It’s wasn’t the best day at the office to put it mildly. I ate something that didn’t agree with me the night before and had an upset stomach in the morning and felt drained most of the day. Also, to top it off I fell on the run and landed in a load of nettles. Other than that I finished in 5:58 which is pretty respectable all told.

Right so what can I take away from the day?

Firstly, the night before I are far too much food and in an unfamiliar place. Previously I have ‘pigged out’ two nights before and ate pretty light the night before. Although I don’t think the volume of food was the issue I still took an unfamiliar step in my prep for an event which I had not attempted in training beforehand (massive schoolboy error).

Secondly, the first game of the England World Cup game in Brazil kicked off at 11pm the night before and I made the decision to stay up, watch the game and finally went to bed at 12:45 getting up only 2:15 later at 3am. Again this could not be helpful and I was naive that I could deal with and perform on only 2 hours sleep!!

Thirdly, I left my heart rate monitor chest strap at home by accident and didn’t have a heart rate monitor for the day. I have lost my Garmin 910xt and have yet to replace it so was planning on using my old Polar FT5 to solely monitor my HR and ensure I maintain a rate lower than my LT (152 in my case). Again I naively thought that I had done enough training to pace by ‘feel’ as I have done many hours training in my HR zone so it should be no problem. Wrong! I have know way if truly knowing this but I pushed too hard on the bike. Even though I felt drained and tried to pace myself my legs started to feel the pace during the last 10 or so miles and I really struggled off the bike which is usually one of my stronger points.

Lastly, I have previously mentioned that I massively struggle with cramp. I used to suffer as a child growing up and used to have to take quinine tablets to help. I have previously taken cramp tablets with varying success during marathons and ironman events. After reading the I’m Hear to Win book mentioned above I decide to hydrate my muscles by pre-loading them with salt tablets in the weeks running up to the event. Again this is something that I handed practiced in training but I still ended up struggling with cramp and really feel that this is mainly due to poor pacing and pushing too hard too early.

OK, are there any positives I can take from the weekend?

The Swim: I finished there swim in about 34 minutes which I am pleased with. I have not been putting as much effort in the swim as previous years as the time gains will be little in comparison to any I can make on the bike or run. However, I do think the indoor rowing sessions I have been doing have helped out with my swim. This being said I think I posted a decent time as I maximised he use of drafting as much as possible and not by staying on someone’s toes but by getting in the shoulder and riding their wake. There was a stretch when I was I between two swimmers slightly behind them and I’m sure that they were pulling me along at one point.

Bike: as mentioned previously I feel that I pushed too hard on the bike and will be investing in a new replacement for my 910xt this week as I do not want to leave pacing to chance as I obviously do not have the experience to pace on feel alone. However, my new bike is great and I even though I’ve yet to put my tri-bars on yet I was really comfortable and could have stayed on the bike all the way. I am still struggling with my speed on the bike but am now conscience that pacing is of paramount importance and being fresh off the bike is what matters.

Run: I felt drained and really struggled on the run all the way through. However, I did show some metal by keeping going all the way and found that coke, water and the odd gel are all I need on the run. I did carry and take salt tablets but I still cramped and think this was due to not enough liquid rather than salts as I soon recovered after an extra drink at the aid station. I have been for a recovery run since and my pace was pretty strong (for me that’s sub 9 min/miles) without too much effort so feel I’m fit enough I just need to dig deep and grit my teeth and push through it as long I have I am happy with my hydration and nutrition. I do have a longer 18 mile run scheduled for tomorrow so I’ll see how I get on and update with my thoughts.

In summary Cotswold 113 2014 was a bad day at the office for me but I have learned a lot from the experience and feel I can push on and through IMUK in the back of it.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and good luck with your training.


Remember you can sponsor me for ironman uk for the great charity scope at Ironcrab’s Scope Sponsorship Page.


Tri-Ripped Recovery


April 7, 2014 | Posted in General, Injury Prevention, Nutrition | By

Benefits of Recovery

Before you say that recovery methods have been covered time and time again and you know everything there is to know about having your recovery shake right after a tough session you will read some stuff here that is ‘street smart advice’ that you have never heard before. We will be going over every trick you can pull out the bag to aid recovery and tools to monitor your recovery.

There are multiple reasons why recovery is important:

  • The main reason is that your adrenal glands are asked by your body during tough sessions to pump out adrenalins and make adrenal steroids which stress out your body in the ‘fight or flight’ state. You can’t ask your body to tear them out 24/7 and you need to refill your stores and give those glands a break. If you don’t recover you are going to deplete you body’s testosterone levels and produce a massive amount of cortisol which is inhibits your body in recovery and producing growth hormone decreasing the ability to recovery as quickly as you would like to.
  • During intense training when muscle fibres tear you get calcium leakage and produce prostaglandins which makes your body send white blood cells and fluid to the damaged area to start the healing process. You can’t throw in another workout until the inflammatory process has taken place and gone away. A chronic injury is this process never going away (i.e. a lack of recovery). There may be underlying biomechanical issues that cause the issue but a lack of recovery makes it chronic.
  • Your body has a finite storage of fuel (carbs for example) and you need to give it the opportunity to refill these or you are will be sub-par in training due to this lack of recovery. Also, there is a mental motivational component to consider. You need a break to allow yourself to come back and perform to the best of your ability in your sessions.

There are so many things that recovery gives you that a lot of people miss out on. Mark Allen said that “you are better to be 10% undertrained than 1% over trained”. It is discipline in itself.

Markers for Recovery

Use one, some or all of the below markers which provide you with indicators which will allow you to make an informed assessment of your state of recovery before undertaking your days training:

  1. Resting HRelevated morning pulse is from an overworked nervous system which is a good indication that you are over trained. But, if your heart rate is over low you will have other symptoms if it is due to overtraining and it is probably being a result of becoming fitter. Many people find this difficult (especially after being woken up by an alarm clock), You can iPhone apps for tracking your heart rate or something like a fitbit.
  2. Body Mass – If you are losing weight (2% in one day) is usually a sign that you have a loss of hydration combined with a loss of body mass is a warning sign that you could not be recovered.
  3. Quality of sleep – when you are not recovered properly you testosterone is down and you’re not recovered. Waking up but not needing a big wee is a sign that you are not recovered. Waking up early or not falling to sleep early can be signs of not being recovered. You could be just hungry so have a banana dipped in peanut butter and if you are still struggling to sleep it will be probably due to lack of recovery
  4. Performance – Having dead legs often, noticing that you are not getting faster (if already doing interval training), performance in your sessions is down on the previous days performance (pace, speed, watts) are sure fire ways of your body telling you to take a rest and recover.
  5. Oxygen Saturation – 96-99% is the banding you are looking for. A Finger Pulse Oximeter & Heart Rate Monitor will allow you to determine this to assess your recovery.
  6. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) – this is a normal reaction to training (especially following interval training) but if persistent it is a good indicator that you are not recovering properly.
  7. Hydration – the colour of your pee is a great and easy way of reviewing your hydration. If you are peeing yellow you are dehydrated and hydration is key to recovery
  8. Appetite – your appetite goes down if you are not fully recovered or not recovering properly.
  9. PAMS (Profile Of Mood States) – score you mood, when this is low and you are anxious etc. it can be indicative of lack of recovery or overreaching in training. Well-being and happiness is a good sign of decent job of recovering.


You want to give the body more of the tools it needs to naturally speed up the recovery process. When you take Ibuprofen, or the like, that can stop the body sending white blood cells to the area and shuts down the recovery process. If you treat the area with ice and little bit of heat to get better blood flow to the area gives the body what it needs to speed up the recovery rather than covering the issue up with drugs.

Supplements, Diet and Recovery Aids.


An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods that naturally contain flavonoids and polyphenols. Foods that have those compounds are dark fruits (e.g. pomegranate), dark leafy green (e.g. bok choy, kale) and cumin, turmeric’s and other Indian type spices. Thai and Indian food with curries in your diet help your body shut down inflammation naturally.

Night Shades; potatoes, tomatoes and peppers are high in alkaloids which can inhibit recovery. If you eat a ton of these they will hinder your recovery. However, the Night Shades pale into insignificance compared to sugars and starches (high carbs, fruit juice, scones, crackers, pizza, pasta, biscuits, and bagels based diets) is are one of the worse things you can do to stop your body being set up to repair and recover as it poses natural anti-inflammatory potential.

Sugar and Starchy foods should be replaced with less starchy foods and a high fat food diet (e.g. avocado, oily fish). Don’t be concerned about your energy levels as although pasta is energy, you could take the white pasta and replace with quinoa or rice pasta or substitute with squash, cauliflower, beans lentils, sweet potato etc. which will still give you fuel and energy and glycogen to burn but are not as inflammatory as wheat based starches.

Recovery Shake; It seems to be a general consensus that after training you need to have a protein and carb rich meal with 30 minutes! However, most of the studies that have been done to underpin this claim were done on athletes in a fasted state with low blood sugar levels. If you are training in this state (i.e. before breakfast) it is applicable to use the “30 minutes window”. Otherwise what you are eating during the day is enough to keep your body fuelled. You need to ask yourself whether you fuelled before your session, if so, there is no need to rush to find a banana and protein powder. If you are eating when you are hungry and eating healthily your body will restore its glycogen stores within 8 hours so if you plan on working out again within this time frame fill up your body stores within the 30 minutes window, if not just eat your normal diet.

Eating before you go to sleep; if you are trying to lose weight, you may be better served by going to bed hungry without pumped up insulin levels which will store the energy as fat. If weight loss is not an issue you will get a bit of a release of growth hormone to aide recovery if you eat before bed. If you do not want to eat but still want the increase growth hormone you can try gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) before bed. Deep sleep also aides repair and recovery during sleep which can be aided by using magnesium.


Free radicals are produced during exercise which hold back the recovery process and your body needs help after training with anti-oxidants. You need different anti-oxidants to do this. You want to combine eating a healthy diet with taking anti-oxidant that is as full a spectrum of anti-oxidants you can find meal replacement from Living Fuel (Super Berry or Super Greens) assuming you are eating plenty of nuts and seeds and fruits and veg in your diet. Mt. Capra Solar Synergy Sports Drink or Synergy Natural Organic Super Greens Powder are also good alternatives.

Calcium leakage occurs during exercise. Magnesium displaces calcium which rapidly alleviates post workout soreness. Oral use of magnesium is good for sleep but spray on magnesium is far superior for post race / workouts. You can find a number of option at amazon but my favourite is Better You Magnesium Oil Original Spray.

Protolithic enzymes, which are a blend of extract from meat, pineapple and papayle, such as Quest Enzyme and Health Plus Digest Plus Digestive Enzyme Supplement. Also, taking amino acids before your workout can stave off the use of amino acids from your muscles during exercise. Eat steamed chicken, yoghurt or take an amino acid powder .

Protein – Protein powder should be considered as a real food which can be mixed with coconut milk, oatmeal or quinoa in the morning for example. Protein powders are very very good at giving your body what it needs for repair and recovery but it’s importance seems to have been blown out of proportion which is maybe crossover from body building to the world of endurance and triathlon. Most people eat more protein than they actually need which can cause problems for the liver and kidneys with the production of additional ammonia and toxic bi-products. Best way is to take on a bunch of protein is right after your workout as this is good way to send a big recovery message to your body. Eat just enough protein to give your body what it needs to repair and recover (about 0.8-1.0 grams/lb per day or 1.8-2.2 grams/kg per day) but no more … meat or protein powders during the day, amino acids before a workout and most of the rest of what you eat should come from high amounts of fat and a smart amount of carbs injected when appropriate. Total percentage of your daily calorie intake should be 25-30% protein.

During training sessions it is also a good option to choose gels / liquids that offer Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) in them (Gu Roctane). BCAA can decrease levels of post workout soreness, help you to recovery faster and go harder in the session.

Compression Gear – allows your body to milk fluid and inflammatory bi-products up out of an area much easier as it pulls blood from the area you have inflammation and shovels it up towards your heart. With 110 Compression Wear you can put ice packs in which compresses the blood vessels a little bit which dilates and increase blood flow and secretes post workout soreness and recovery. Good for increasing recovery but don’t get too excited as they won’t increase performance. However, if you wear them during an Ironman (for example) it will help with your muscles being constantly jarred especially towards the end of a marathon. You won’t go any faster but you’ll be less sore during and the next day.

Electro stimulation – a component you attach to the muscle with a pad that simulates massage and forces the muscles to contract and get the blood flowing and increase recovery and reduce soreness, especially if you are going to be sitting down pretty quickly after finishing.

Massage or foam roller or muscle stick – can be used to reduce muscular adhesion after exercising. This allows the muscle to move more freely and to increase blood flow. Compression wear and a foam roller are massive for recovery. If you are getting a massage don’t time it right before or right after a tough session or race.

A Bath – A cold bath after exercise can be used it no compression/ice is not available. Magnesium / Salt baths the day after exercise (but not right after) can really help absorb some of the calcium and soreness.

Ice baths – they can help with soreness after a long run or bike. Fill the bath with ice before you set off and jump in for 20 minutes (grit your teeth and stick with it). Most professional sports teams now use ice baths so that alone speaks for itself.

Swimming for recovery – is good the day after hard workout days and races and is really good as it is non weight bearing and increases blood flow (Just don’t over do it!). Active recovery is good if it isn’t weight bearing and increases blood flow; walking, riding bike, swimming etc.

How do you track your Recovery?

Of the markers for recovery above the favoured ones are morning resting heart rate / oxygen saturation, a comparison of how your legs feel against the previous days session and your pee colour. Also, make sure to pay close attention to sleep (8 hours a night optimal like a log). Pay attention to appetite (if not hungry you are not recovered). Additionally, pay attention to sex drive; if it is down in the hole you are probably be down on your recovery.

Restwise – is an online software programme were you answer questions online which will assess your recovery.

You do not want to be tracking recovery intensely so much so that you are not enjoying training. Just pick a couple of parameters above and monitor how you progress. It can’t be stressed enough how important recovery is and 90% of athletes are not recovered on the start line of any race and they are pretty much screwed before the race has begun.

You invest so much time on your training you also need to spend a huge amount of time on your recovery.







April 2, 2014 | Posted in General, Training Plans | By

If you have read previous posts you will know that I am using the site as a memory jogger and dumping ground for articles, pics, advice etc and my own feedback as I progress to IMUK p2014. This post is exactly that…

You must read this here about on the Ironman UK 2014 new bike course.

Also here about incorporating your build into your training.

And finally here for some great ironman training progress and tips


Ironman Triathlon Book Review


February 14, 2014 | Posted in General | By

I have set out to provide an Ironman Triathlon Book Review and have found books that cover endurance, long distance type amazing athletes that I find of interest and I hope will be helpful and motivating. I will continue to grow this list and if anyone has an recommendations let me know.

Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story

The name Brownlee is now the most recognisable in the world of triathlon and the two brothers have probably had the greatest impact in bringing the sport of triathlon to the masses in this country. This detailed account of the two Olympian brothers is related from the perspectives of the two brothers, Alistair and Jonathan (Jonny) themselves and is an honest and remarkable story of their drive for success, describing their development from schoolboys to standing on the Olympic podium.
Both brothers are very humble on their fantastic achievements in the world of Triathlon telling many stories of their adventures as kids. The book is well written and easy to read. It is not intended as a biography of the brothers, more a story telling the reader how these two brothers came to the pinnacle of their chosen sport in the first instance. It relates their attitudes – to each other, to other sportsmen and to their training (which they clearly enjoy).

A triathlon to most seems like an exercise in torture. To complete, in Alistair and Jonny’s case, a 1500 metre swim, a 40 km. bike ride and a 10 km. run, at the highest level is epic. Swimming and running in competition as early as 9 with cycling vast distances a hobby, their competitive instincts and sibling rivalry were established. Their competitiveness with each other is clearly part of what motivates them to progress, but in a positive way. They inevitably raced as a team versus the rest.

Encouraged by their parents (both doctors with ‘sporting genes’) to try everything, the brothers soon realised they had a talent for being capable of ‘far more than we thought’. The book takes the reader through each of their stages of childhood development in each of the three disciplines and then onto how they attained success, initially at a local level, then nationally and finally internationally.
They managed their sport with academic pursuits. Alistair balanced his physics A-level notes on his handle bars whilst cycling, later to be accepted at Cambridge University. The sacrifices, hard work, intrusions on personal life are all here. Jonny writes the advantages of training with the world champion, Alistair, and that living with him takes it to a new level. Jonny is organised and obsessive with a flair for other sports, Alistair laid back and annoyingly, to Jonny, relaxed. Fiercely competitive, the younger Jonny knew he could only beat his brother if a freak incident occurred. Both were, however, world champions.

Passages alternate between Alastair and Jonny and it almost becomes a kind of dialogue between the two of them. The book finishes off with Olympic glory for Alastair and World Championship glory for Jonny. What a year for them 2012 was.

I’m sure this won’t be the only book the boys pen – lots more to come – and a lot more medals and wins too – I hope!!

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

I’ve read a number of “self-development” books and made tweaks along the way that have made a small difference here and there. Finding Ultra should be taken for what it is which is, a truly inspirational and enjoyable read.

I have already embarked on a new eating regime. Why? I constantly felt lethargic due to the way I was eating and I also haven’t been able to shift the last stone (or two) of extra weight I have been carrying and as a result have never achieved the results I knew I was capable of. Finding Ultra addresses a lot of questions about reaching the next level, how to improve performance and everyday well-being.

Rich’s story from college swimming success through alcoholism to ultra-marathon champion is amazing. The book is packed full of great training, food and nutrition tips which can be constantly referred back to. The storytelling style of the book retelling tales of his ultra-triathlons and his adventures doing the EPIC5 challenge allowing for easy reading and as a fat bloke myself who is trying to discover fitness I can really identify with the guy.

This is a must read for anyone looking for inspiration to get fit and healthy. It’s never too late, age or weight don’t matter this will give you the will to succeed. The guy has consistently completed feats that the vast majority on the planet consider impossible. It just goes to show how amazing the body and mind are. For that I can excuse the constant promoting of a vegan diet. As far as the author is concerned these are things that are the corner stone of his metamorphosis and therefore he has every right to be evangelical about it. Will I give up meat? I think not!

One thing to take from the book is that when the time comes, you just have to dig deep, let the shutters come down and focus on the next 10m. This book is a must for endurance athletes.

A Life Without Limits

Chrissie Wellington’s book is a fascinating read. It isn’t the most finely crafted book but is much better than many sports stars’ autobiographies covering topics such as psychology, coaching, charity and people – all of which are really, really interesting. Chrissie Wellington is well-known to most with achievements at the highest level, recognition (MBE), sports awards, articles etc. and, as such, having knowledge and interest in triathlon is not required as A Life Without Limits is fast paced, a little like the apparent whirlwind of her life, but laced through with humour and self-deprecation.

The attention to detail in the book clearly reflects her attitude to many other aspects of her life – some may find the sections on triathlon training tedious, although to a triathlete her training sessions are there to be marvelled over, emulated and discussed endlessly. Of course, her triathlon story is amazing and achievements unparalleled, this has meant total dedication and pummelling the body and mind to regimes that are beyond all but the elite. An Ironman is a gruelling non-stop 2.4 miles Swim, 112 miles Cycle and a Marathon Run and I’m proud just to say I have completed two; Chrissie has won all 13 ironman competitions entered including 4 World Titles!

The book contains the obsessive-compulsive nature of Chrissie Wellington. Nothing second best accepted. She is at her most assured when laying out her academic credentials and achievements with three A’s at A-level, a 1st class degree at Birmingham and a Masters and starting a career in law before she became a professional in 2007 (aged 30) with the considerable help of Australian coach Brett Sutton.
There is no doubt that Chrissie Wellington is a supreme, dedicated, successful athlete right at the top of her sport but she also has emotional fragility and is rather accident-prone in nature (her “muppet” nickname appears to be well deserved). The contrasts between the “healthy” aspects of being a physically fit athlete, and the mentally unstable, tangled and decidedly murky, motivating forces and athlete-coach relationships are striking. She is clearly more fortunate than many athletes, as her life, family relationships and friendships formed before her career as a professional sportsperson have kept her feet well and truly on the ground.

Eating disorders (bulaemia and anorexia) are put into her overall life story. Vegetarianism followed by meat-eating, questions on her sexual orientation, broken limbs, muscle strains are challenges she has faced. Her parents and brother were of great help and, as such, are acknowledged in the book.
In her own words, A Life Without Limits, is one of a self- confessed obsessive- compulsive and ‘self-control freak’. She quotes Martin Luther King, “If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl”.

This book is inspirational and compelling and Chrissie Wellington is one amazing lady and she is testament to what you can extract from life with positivity and determination driving to achieve the best her body and mind can in ways us mere mortals may not begin to comprehend.

Thanks again and happy reading

I am doing the Ironman UK 2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at


Minimum Ironman Training Hours

FAQ featured

February 11, 2014 | Posted in Equipment, General, Training Plans | By

In case you don’t get to the bottom the page I am doing the Ironman UK 2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at

Work is really getting in the way of my training this week and I have been reminded of a post that a read a couple of years back from a guy call Coady. I cannot find the site anymore but have a word version on my PC. Anyway here is the post below which I think is a very useful method of maintaining the ‘minimum‘ training volume that we need to do. If you read some books and websites you hear quite frequently that you need to be hitting the 12+ hours per week as a minimum ironman training hours. However, I know first hand that I have completed previous Ironman events on around 8 hours per week training. You can read more about my previous training in my Ironman UK FAQ.

I will be completing the below session tonight. I do not have swim cords so will have to innovate probably using some press-ups and dips. I will be ordering the Powerstroke Bungee Cord from amazon as shown below and will be incorporating this exercise into my training.

“When All Hell Breaks Loose” Workout Plan

It’s all well and good to have a training program that tells you to do a 3 hour ride on Wednesday, to drive 20 minutes to the pool on Thursday, swim for an hour and drive 20 minutes home (and shower and dress), UNTIL all hell breaks loose! Your boss wants you to arrive at work early and leave late to finish a project, your spouse’s car is broken down and you have to drop him or her off to the mechanic and pick her up and you need to take on the chauffeur duties for the children, and your in laws are visiting and you need to mow the lawn, take care of the yard, and clean the house in order to avoid making your mother in law cry because her child is living in filth (i.e. a house that has some dust and a yard with 3 weeds).

What do you do when all hell breaks loose?  Some would suggest “trying your best” to stick to your schedule.  I suggest throwing your schedule out and becoming determined to do the following:

Put your bike on your bike trainer and leave it there until life settles down.  Leave your bike shoes on there as well.

Commit to doing a minimum workout schedule NO MATTER WHAT.

Do the “When Hell Breaks Loose Workout” at least 3 times during the week. If you can find the time, also aim for one good swim at the pool and one brisk 1 hour run.

The “When HELL Breaks Loose Workout”

1.  SWIM. Do swim cords exercises.  (5-10 minutes) Instead of doing the swim cords exercises as a warm up before swimming, you’ll be doing them as your swim workout.  Do 2 sets of “full pulls” (simulating a full swim stroke) until failure (you can’t do any more reps).  If you are really pressed for time just do 1 set.

2. BIKE. Then jump on your bike, which is already on the trainer.  Ride easy for a few minutes- only as long as it takes to warm up.  Then for an hour (or 45 minutes, or 30 minutes if you are really time crunched), do either an intervals or a brisk aerobic maintenance ride.

Maintenance Ride. Steady intensity, nonstop.  Mix 3-4 * 5 minute tempo reps  and a handful of 1 minute threshold reps.  No easy recovery after your reps- immediately resume your steady riding.

Bike Intervals. Early to middle base focus on tempo intervals with a smattering of threshold.  In the late base focus on threshold reps while maintaining tempo.  During the specific prep focus on tempo work while maintaining your threshold power.   (To maintain you only need to do some short reps.)

3. RUN. Quickly strap on your running shoes and go out for a 15-30 minute brisk run, start at steady and gradually raise your intensity to tempo.  If you can stretch one of these runs to an hour or so, you might be able to skip the hour run workout that you will try to do during the week.

Note that this workout can be as short as 5 minutes of swim cords exercises, 30 minutes of biking, and 15 minutes of running (50 minute). Commit to doing this at least 3 times per week, no matter how stressed out, helpless, or exhausted you might feel.   Also note that this program can be done when you travel.  Just bring your own stretch cords and find a gym with a bike and a treadmill.

We all need to draw a line in the sand– a minimum of training that we MUST do, no matter what happens in life (not counting injury or illness, of course).  And I suggest that this program should be that line.  If you’ve been training well and consistently, you can stay on this program for a week or two without losing fitness and you should be able to jump right back into your training plan as soon as your in-laws leave town.  And you can feel confident that even if all hell breaks loose, you will still have heavenly race results.

Thanks for reading


I am doing the Ironman UK 2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at


Tri-Ripped Ironman UK Training Programme Week 5


February 10, 2014 | Posted in General, Injury Prevention, Swimming, Training Plans | By

In case you don’t get to the bottom the page I am doing the Ironman UK 2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at

Well the fifth week of my following of the Ben Greenfield Tri-Ripped programme is complete. I had actually gained weight during the previous week which I’m hoping is due to a little muscle gain on my legs due to the intensity I am training at. I am continuing to adopt the low-carb diet as described in my previous post Paleo / Low Carb diet for Ironman UK Training and genuinely am feeling the benefit. I will not be tracking nutrition this week as I want to see if I can maintain smart food choices without being ‘aided’ by the myfitnesspal tracker on my iPhone.

I maintained the one session per day rule for 6 days out of 7 (I had to travel from my hills session to the gym and stopped at home for some lunch in-between sessions) whilst maintain a ‘recovery strategy’ as described in my article by a guy called Sami Inkinen (I will update this post this week!) Again, I feel that I am continuing to progress and as strange as it sounds I feel fitter now than I was at the start of the Ironman UK last year. However, my knee started to feel uncomfortable during hill running and has been swollen ever since (I will need to keep and my on this and will choose recovery wherever required).

Weight: 15st 3lb / 213lb / 97kg
Hours Sleep: 7:54
Planned Training: Tri-Ripped Workout : “Stability”
Actual Training:
– Tri-Ripped “Stability” – 4 circuits of 10 reps of Stability Ball Pushups, Stability Ball Squats,  Stability Ball Dumbbell Rows, Stability Ball Single Leg Squats, Stability Ball Knee-Ups, Stability Ball Leg Curls each with 100 Jumping Jacks.
– Run – 5.09 miles, Z3 HR, 9:14 min/miles.
I have not tracked my nutrition for the week as I want to see if I can make smart food choices throughout the week and will gauge my weight at the beginning of next week.

Today was good day following the principles of the Low-Carb Diet.

A good night’s sleep started the week off in the right fashion. I also managed to complete my first Stability Tri-Ripped session which I found a lot my difficult than I expected. The Stability Ball (or Swiss as I know it) really puts the focus on balance and puts the onus on your core. Flexibility also comes into play here and I find that I cannot get all of way down on the squat exercises which I think is due to tight hip flexors? If anyone has a comment or advise here it would be much appreciated. Run was a bit of catch-up from the weekend and I felt good the whole route. I’m happy with the average pace which is not going to get me to Kona but is steady away for me.

Anyway a good start to the week regards rest, training and perceived nutritional choices. One purchase I have made over the weekend and will be implementing is the habit of Drinking Casein Proteing Powder before bed, this aide’s fat loss and promotes muscle growth (or muscle recovery in my case). I have opted for the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard variety.

Hours Sleep: 8:16
Planned Training: Swim Workout: “Balance Two”, Bike Workout: “Muscular Endurance”
Actual Training:
– Indoor Rowing
2532m in 10 minutes.
Bike Workout: “Muscular Endurance”
Long muscular endurance intervals. Warm-up 10 minutes (with rower above), then perform 4 x 20 minute Zone 3 efforts, with short 4 minute Zone 2 recoveries between each.
Today was good day following the principles of the Low-Carb Diet .

Good nights sleep again and I can definitely feel the benefit. All being told it has been another good day of training incorporating my two session into one using the rower session as a warm up and utilizing the Wattbike to undertake the Muscular Endurance sets. The weeks training going well so far.

Hours Sleep: 7:57
Planned Training: Run – A-B-C’s
Warm-up for 10 minutes, 2-5 rounds of the following; 20 yards ‘A’s’ Marching, 20 yards ‘B’s’ Skipping, 20 yards ’C’s’ butt-kicks, 100 yards running at 85% with relaxed cadence.
Actual Training: Run – A-B-C’s
Training undertaken as planned.
Today was good day following the principles of the Low-Carb Diet .

Sleep time is good again, hopefully I can keep this up! For consecutive weeks now I continue to feel quicker when running. This was also shown in the previous days run as I usually average around the 10 min/mile mark for Z3.

Hours Sleep: 8:06
Planned Training: Bike workout: “Hill Strength”, Swim Workout: “Force Play”
Actual Training:
– Bike Workout 2: “Hill Strength”
Warm-up well, then climb 8 x 4 minute hills at a steady but slow pace, with a slow cadence of 55-70, focusing on strength and force application. This is like a strength training workout, not a sprint. Full, easy recovery spin “downhill” after each hill repeat, done on the WattBike.
– Swimming Coach Drill Sessions
1 hour coached sessions with warm up, drills (leg kick, swordfish, paddles) and 300m repeats with 20 secs rest completed totaling 2,350m in total
Today was good day following the principles of the Low-Carb Diet .

Sleep was were it should be again by going to bed earlier than usual. As last week I didn’t complete my training to programme I undertook the training that I had planned to undertake and I am still trying to work out an alternative to TrainingPeaks without having to pay out the extortionate (in my opinion) price of the TP premium package.

I have been asked what equipment I use at the Swimming Drills sessions. I use Kick Board, Pull Buoy, Fins, Ankle Strap and Hand Paddles that call all the found here.

Hours Sleep: 7:16
Planned Training: Day Off
Actual Training:
Day Off
Today was a day of two halves. I had a good “day” following the principles of the Low-Carb Diet but during the night a went out for a couple of pints to watch the Rugby League (Huddersfield beating Wigan L) and ate a subway (footlong Steak and Cheese with all the trimmings before getting a taxi home.

First day of the week that I have not been at or around the 8 hour mark. However, I am still quite pleased with this as I made myself go home early from a night out and made myself get up early to go hill running in the morning. All in all I think that this is a decent compromise.

Hours Sleep: 7:10
Planned Training: Run Workout: “Lydiard Hills”, Tri-Ripped Workout: “Fighting Cables 2”
Actual Training:
– Run Workout: “Hills”
Running up a local hill in wigan (Plantation Gates if you know the area). 2 x bottom to top (circa 1min each), 4 x part way up (circa 25secs each), 6 x sprints (circa 10 secs each). I have done these now for the last 4 or 5 weeks and have improved every week. The only downside to this week is that my left knee gave out on the sprints and immediately swollen up afterwards.
– Tri-Ripped Workout : “Fighting Cables 2”
Completed the following exercises circuits 4 times through for 12 reps; Cable Lat Pulldowns, Cable Flies, Med Ball Woodchopper per side, Cable Single Arm Row per side and 500m max effort Row

Again during the “day” my diet was really good. I did however to go another 30th Birthday Party in the evening (driving and not drinking again I might add!) which involved a ‘carbathon’ of a buffet with pies, pasties, sandwiches, sausage rolls, pasta etc in abundance. Again, I am pretty please that I didn’t drink so will call it a win.

I have done the hills now for the last 4 or 5 weeks and have improved every week. The only downside to this week is that my left knee gave out on the sprints and immediately swollen up afterwards. I was still able to complete my Tri-Ripped session but decided that I would take Sunday, and maybe Monday off to let my knee settle down as even the usually effective Voltarol Gel didn’t seem to get the swelling down.

Hours Sleep: 7:30
Planned Training: Tri-Ripped Machine Muscle
Actual Training: Day Off
Today was my official “Cheat Day” as prescribed in the Low-Carb Diet and I ate and drank whatever I wanted during the day.

Not really too much to say again on Sunday. As the weeks progress I expect this day to be one of the busiest but I really like the structure of the Tri-Ripped Training Programme as I am feeling feel of energy and actually faster and feel that I am on track for a PB at the Ironman UK 2014.

All told I am happy with another good week of training, again volume is lower than you would expect when training for an Ironman; I trained for a total of 6 hours again this with the continued increased intensity.

Summarising the week, I have followed the training from the above Ben Greenfield training plan (only missing the Sunday session) whilst maintaining the ‘one-session’ per day rule by combining the Tri-Ripped weight sessions with running and biking where possible. [One thing of note that I have just picked up on is that that TrainingPeak plan as dropped one of the Bike sessions that is actually within the Training Manual; I will need to keep an eye on this and forces this issue that I need to sort an alternative method of planning my sessions].

As ever, I will continue to provide these updates as they really help me to focus in on my training, nutrition and recovery. If some of the info in here is a waste of time or there is something that you really want to see let me know and I’ll incorporate the changes.

All the best

I am doing the Ironman UK 2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at



Tri-Ripped Ironman UK Training Programme Week 1


January 13, 2014 | Posted in General, Training Plans | By

Below is a summary of the first week of my Ironman UK Training following the Ben Greenfield Tri-Ripped training programme:

Weight: 15st 6lb / 216lb / 98kg
Hours Sleep: 7:37
Planned Training: Gym “Tri-Ripped – Warrior Body”
Actual Training: Gym “Tri-Ripped – Warrior Body”
4 sets of 10 reps of Pushups, Body Weight Squats, Narrow Grip Pushups, Standing Cable Rows, Reverse Lunges, ‘Little Bigs’, 100m indoor row
Can be found here
Even though I’m still a good 2 stones overweight I am happy as I am under the 16st 2lb that I was this time last year. I am aiming to get over 8 hours of sleep each night which I will try and force myself to go to bed earlier.  The gym session was a lot more difficult than I expected but maybe that is because I have not used the gym for the last couple of years. Nutrition was better than usual but a 40/31/29 of carbs, fat and protein is still a little too high on the carbs. Overall good first day.

Hours Sleep: 7:56
Planned Training: Swim T-test, Bike T20
Actual Training: Day Off
Can be found here
Better total hours sleep but this is due to being tired and having a lie-in rather than going to bed earlier. This cause me to miss my planned morning session and due to a panic at work I had to miss my evening session too. Nightmare! And it’s only day to. This prompted me to write my post on what to do whenthe shit hits the fan! Nutrition was a lot better with a 24/32/44 spilt of carb, fat and protein.

Hours Sleep: 8:12
Planned Training: Run T Test, Bike T Test (following yesterdays failed day)
Warm-up for 10 minutes, then maximum sustainable pace for 30 minutes. Record your average heart rate or power for the final 20 minutes of the 30 minute effort. This will be your “Lactate Threshold”, also known as your “Anaerobic Threshold”.
Actual Training: Bike T Test
Recorded the last 10 mins of effort (got it wrong) on the Wattbike. Avg Power 209W, Pk Power 276W, L%/R% 51/49, Cad 89 rpm, Cad pk 94rpm, Dist 6267 m, Avg HR 184
Can be found here
I forced myself to go to bed earlier which allowed me to get my 8 hours in and still fit in a Bike T Test before work. I messed up on the session and am not sure if I need to redo it as I have recorded the last 10 minutes instead of the last 20. I’ll post it on the Tri-Ripped forum and get an opinion or two. Nothing to base my results on but nice to have a benchmark to work to. Nutrition again a little high on the carb with a 30/35/35 carbs, fat and protein split. Really need to concentrate on my fat and protein intake.

Hours Sleep: 7:47
Planned Training: Gym “Tri-Ripped Fighting Cables”
Actual Training: Gym “Tri-Ripped Fighting Cables”
3 circuits x 12 Reps of Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns, Cable Chest Press, Cable Torso Twists per side, Cable Waterski Row, 500m max effort Row with 1:42, 1:45 & 1:43 500m times. Only 3 Circuit as Run T-test later in the day.
Run T Test
Warm-up run aerobically for 10 minutes, then accelerate to your maximum sustainable pace you can maintain with good form for 20 minutes. Record your average heart rate or speed for the final 10 minutes of the 20 minute effort. This will be your “Lactate Threshold”, also known as your “Anaerobic Threshold”.
Avg Pace 9:36 min/miles, Avg HR 165
Can be found here
Decent night sleep getting almost 8 hours in and a gym session in the morning too. This I cut short as I had a Run T-Test planned in the evening. I found the Run at night massively difficult. This is probably down to a number of reasons; I trained in the morning, didn’t fuel up beforehand and hadn’t run for 3 weeks prior. This is reflected in my results and I am seriously thinking that I need to re-test this next week when I am fresh as my HR is so much lower than it is on the bike and usually Z3 HR is less for the bike than it is for the run and in this instance it is not following the testing. Nutrition OK but due to the 2 session in the day I feel that I should have upped my carbs intake. The ratio was 28/38/34 carb, fats and protein.

Hours Sleep: 7:27
Planned Training: Day Off
Actual Training: Swim T Test
Warm-up swim for 200 meters, then completed 6x 100 meters at maximum sustainable pace that you can maintain with good form. Record your time for each 100 meter repeat in your logs. The average pace for each repeat is your “T-Pace”.
T-Pace = 2:00.2
Can be found here
Again decent amount of sleep even if slightly under the 8 hour mark this is much better than the 6 hours I am used to getting over the last couple of years when training. Today was supposed to be a rest day which I needed after struggling on the run. However, I decided to do the Swim T Test which I did keeping the reps to 6 rather than the recommended 10. My laps stayed pretty level and actually started speeding up as I went on so hopefully I will not have distorted the results too much. My result of 2mins/100m seem pretty reasonable (however, I now am amazed at the 1:10 split on the front of the trainingpeaks login page!). Carbs intake went through the roof as I felt tired from the previous days with a 52/27/20 split of carbs, fats and protein.

Hours Sleep: 8:15
Planned Training: Swim Recovery, Bike Recovery
Actual Training: Run Hill Sprints
Local Hill: 2x bottom to top (500m), 4 x halfway and 6 x 80m sprint
Can be found here

Nice and early to bed on a Friday night allowed me to get a good nights sleep over 8 hours. Recovery was planned for today but I had organised with a couple of friends to do some hill sprints on Saturday mornings and I am going to continue this for at least 4-6 weeks. I really enjoyed the hills even though it was cold and raining I enjoyed the banter and competiveness of the morning. I also got the CR on Strava which I am pretty happy with! Back on track with the nutrition again 14/43/43 carb, fats, protein.

I am conscience that I am not updating with calories, if this is something you want to see just let me know.

Hours Sleep: 8:03
Planned Training: Run Recovery, Tri-Ripped Machine Muscle
Actual Training: Gym: “Tri-Ripped” Machine Muscle
4 circuits of 12 reps of Machine Chest Press, Machine Seated Row, Machine Shoulder Press, Assisted Pull-Up Narrow Grip, Machine Leg Press, Machine Leg Extension, Machine Leg Curls, Hanging Bent Leg Raises, 60 seconds max effort Bicycle
Can be found here
Last day of the training week. I get a good nights sleep in, feel great (very stiff and sore but in that good way that lets you know that you are improving!) and undertaken my final gym session of the week. I forwent the Run Recovery to meet a friend in Sheffield who is ready to have a baby. I am not too concerned about missing the session but maybe I have been as sore this (Monday) morning!!! Maintained 24/29/27 split of carbs, fat and protein and made really smart food choice even when eating out.

Although low in volume due to the testing element, this is the best first weeks training that I have had in preparing for an Ironman. I feel a great sense of motivation to train and feel confident about what I am doing as the Tri-Ripped programme really does take all of the guesswork out of it (you can find out more about it here). I will continue to provide these updates as they really help me to focus in on my training, nutrition and recovery. If some of the info in here is a waste of time or there is something that you really want to see let me know and I’ll incorporate the changes.

Hope you training is moving on nicely


I am doing the IMUK2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at


Ironman Training: Is it OK to skip training sessions?


January 10, 2014 | Posted in General, Injury Prevention, Nutrition, Training Plans | By

Well I started training on Monday, overslept on Tuesday so tried to move my morning planned morning run session to the evening then had to work late and skipped the session altogether. The second session of my masterplan to knock at least an hour off my IMUK time and I skipped it! This made me ask the question “Is it OK to skip training sessions?”.

This has had me playing catch-up for the rest of the week having to skip my Friday day off to fit in a Swim Threshold Test. This has got me to thinking how common of a scenario is this and what is the best thing to do in this situation? Double up? Continue on ignoring the past?

This led me to doing some investigation on Google in which I found a couple of articles with, not quite conflicting, but slightly differing views on how to react in this situation, especially around higher intensity sessions. There is a lot of great info here for you to make an informed choice in this situation.

Ironman Training Plan

Ironman Training Plan

First article that I came across is an article by Chris Carmichael titled Missing in Action  in which he described how there is no one size fits all it answer to this issue it depends on your situation. I have summarised the key points from the article below:

Missed Endurance Workout – with endurance rarely being the limiting factor that prevents athletes from achieving their goals, missing the occasional endurance workout has only a minor impact on your progress. Let it be and move on with your training schedule

Missed Interval Workout – if you’re in a phase of training where you are working on intervals at aerobic or lactate threshold intensities, shifting the interval workout forward will usually result in a two-day block (Tuesday/Thursday becomes Wednesday/Thursday). Since you’re getting more rest by not training on Tuesday, the two-day block can be quite beneficial. Just monitor your fatigue levels afterward in case you need a little more rest following the block. Don’t try and squeeze in consecutive VO2max sessions as this will have a lingering negative effect on your next week of training.

Missed key interval session in training block – As training gets more focused, you start using more two- and three-day blocks to increase overall training stimulus. If you need to miss a session remember that in the long run, recovery trumps intensity and each block is dependent on the previous one and impacts the next one.

Recovery Times – you can’t achieve two days’ worth in just one day. It’s better to preserve your scheduled recovery periods than it is to sacrifice recovery for additional intensity.

The article gives a real-life example: An athlete had a schedule of hard interval workouts on Wednesday and Thursday (two-day block), easy recovery sessions on Friday/Saturday, and another block on Sunday/Monday. On Friday he learned he had a meeting on Monday that nixed his workout plans, so he moved the interval session to Saturday, making the two-day block Saturday/Sunday.

It didn’t work. By prioritising intensity over recovery and eliminating one of the two recovery days between his training blocks, he was too fatigued to complete a high-quality workout on Sunday (now the fourth day of intervals in five days). He would have been better off keeping Saturday a relatively easy day and moderately in- creasing the workload in Sunday’s workout.

When you’ve missed 3+ consecutive days – If you are more than two months out from your event repeat the week and adjust your plan accordingly.

If you are less than two months out from your event you need to have the confidence in the training that you have done to write off a less than perfect week and continue with you peak and taper programme.

Ankle Injury

Don’t over do it in your ironman training. Have a recovery strategy in place

Secondly, I stumbled across an article from the site Coach Gordo titled Golden Rules For Your First Ironman which, although aimed at first timers, is a good reminder to all abilities alike of what you need to consider when training for an Ironman Triathlon. I have summarised the main points below:

Rule One: You don’t have to kill yourself in training.

You’ve signed yourself up for an Ironman. You know it’s a grueling race, so you better toughen yourself up by signing up for two marathons, half a dozen Century rides and a three-mile rough water swim. Not recommended!

Endurance training is exactly like turning a Styrofoam cup inside out. So long as you take it slowly you’ll be able to do it. Try to rush things and – rip – you’ll tear the cup. You are the cup. [Interesting analysis but I think it gets the point across pretty well]

Rule Two: Build technique and endurance in your first year.

Laying out a sketch of the year is essential. The core of your week is your long slow distance session in each sport. Plan to build your swim up to 4K, your ride up to five hours and your run up to two and a half hours. Build up very slowly (no more than 5-10% in terms of duration in any week )three weeks forward, one week back, repeat.

A classic “Ironman Weekend” is a six-hour ride on Saturday followed by a three hour run on Sunday. These sessions are typically billed as “confidence builders”. However, these sessions are counterproductive leaving you destroyed until at least Wednesday. Spread your key sessions for best results.

Rule Three: Focus on your key sessions and make your key sessions focused.

With your key sessions laid out, the rest of the week is easy to plan. Add your other workouts so you get three sessions of each sport. You have one goal each week-hit your key sessions fresh and injury free. Everything else is filler. If you are whipped, take a rest day. The most important predictor of success is the quality of your key sessions rather than the overall volume of your sessions. So, if you are recovering well from your long sessions, don’t sweat the volume.

A word on your key sessions: If you are following these guidelines, make sure your long workouts are quality. Avoid long breaks and make sure that they are true endurance sessions that build your base. Know your HR training zones for endurance and stick with them. Long slow distance always starts at an easy pace, but after three hours on the bike, you are working no matter what the pace.

Rule Four: Sleep is more valuable than training.

Better to have a lie-in miss a short workout on Thursday, than a whole weekend with an unexpected illness. (Of course, going to bed an extra hour early every night is a better option than missing training). Weekend naps are also great for the working athlete. Keep them under an hour for best results.

Rule Five: Forget about speedwork.

Be honest with yourself. Are you expecting to run sub-four hours? Are you expecting to run the whole marathon? If the answer to either of these questions is “no”, then running speedwork is a complete waste of time. Some people disagree on this point but it is firmly believed. A track session can leave you worn-out for 12-36 hours. If you are going to beast yourself, then do it in a manner that most benefits your race (i.e. a four to five hour ride).

I am actually training in contrary to this when following the Tri-Ripped Training Programme in which some elements of speed work is done and a shedload of hills are incorporated. I suppose these are not speed sessions as such but are definitely high intensity. This personally for me in the preparation for my third Ironman season is imperative as speed / leg strength is something that I am seriously lacking in.

Rule Six: Recovery is your friend.

Make sure that you drop the volume WAY down every four weeks.  Your recovery strategy is the most important part of your plan. Recovery is when you will make all your fitness gains.

You should end every recovery week feeling fresh and dying to get back on it. If you don’t feel like this after a week, then your total volume is likely too high. Note that it is called a recovery week rather than a rest week. Stay active in your recovery. Maintain frequency, but drop the volume and intensity way down.

Rule Seven: Check your ego at the door.

Any time you are in a group situation, there will always be someone who wants to go faster than you, in these situations, swallow your pride and get dropped. It is tough, but eventually you get used to it, kind of.

Know your session goals before you start and do everything you can to stick to your goals. Group rides are the most dangerous; the pace slowly creeps up and before you know it… hammer time! For that reason, either ride alone or with friends that accept your pace in advance.

Rule Eight: Keep your eyes on the prize.

Remember your goals when you decided to start this journey and keep the training fun. There is no point in putting all this time into the sport unless you are having a good time. When it all becomes a bit much (and it will eventually), back off and re-assess. The right answers will come to you.

Race Day Fuel

IMUK Race Day Fuel. Make sure you practice your fuelling.

The last article I am going to discuss in this post is entitled How To Sabotage Your Ironman By Coach Wendy on website runs through ways in which you can set yourself up for a world of pain on race day (assuming you make it to the start line). The article is pretty in-depth so check it out but I have a gain summarised this main points in the article.

Sabotage No 1: Finish Line Fever Decision Making – Jump in Boots and All

Based on the fact that people have been to, or seen on TV the excitement at the finish line of an Ironman event and decide to start training the day after and blindly sign up for the following years Ironman. I was even worse than this, I signed up because I thought a mate was also signing up, he wasn’t!!!

Objectively sitting back & planning whether the Ironman is a race for you. Ask yourself if you know what is really required? Are you healthy enough to begin to train to do an Ironman? How much of your time will this event take to train for? What is the best gear to buy? How do I know what I need to do for training? How do I train? Should I take one or two years to do this event?

Sabotage No 2: Show Some Respect

Many people have this view that it’s only a triathlon! It’s just a swim a ride and a run. Remember you start off with a 2.4 mile (3.8km) open water swim, then warm those legs up with a 112 miles (180km) cycle and then you need to run a marathon all 26.2 miles (42k) of it.

Remember this is an Ironman, and you’ve got be prepared to answer some big questions as it WILL hurt. If it was easy every man and his dog would be doing them every weekend. Respect this event, and be prepared to fight it. Be prepared to dig deep, really deep and then reap the rewards that last a lifetime.

Sabotage No 3: Tell EVERYONE your goal

Listen to all, but talk to one. Talk it through with your family first and then talk it through with someone who knows the demands required for the event. Find someone who can provide you with objective advice as to the best way to approach the event. An experienced Ironman coach or training program is the best place to start. Read how I plan on conquering IMUK 2014 in My Route to IMUK 2014 and My Ironman UK FAQ.

Sabotage No 4: No Plan! Just Training!

Consider that the Ironman is a swim, bike and run combination and it is this combination that creates an entirely new event. Add to this the distance of the Ironman and the consequences of this combination demand a different approach. A skilled coach will combine these requirements into a progressive personalized training program that is tailored to both your skills and those demanded by the Ironman. Join your local Tri-Club where there is a wealth of information. I use my Tri-Club for swimming sessions and group rides (when the weather is warmer) and have followed a training program each year (year  1 (2012) , year 2 (2013) and this year 3 (2014).

Sabotage No 5: Over Train, just do a bit more!

Many pass on the fresh fruit and veggies, eat minimal meat and go to bed really late, but still get up early for your 5am swims. Just get used to being tired and grumpy. If they get injured they just keep training, what doesn’t kill them will make them strong and after all the Ironman is about being tough!

Remember recovery, getting enough sleep, eating well and keeping a good eye on how your body is dealing with the progressive training load. Over training is poor training.

Sabotage No 6: Training Intensity: 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year

You have one year and the clock is ticking so make the most of everyday by training everyday, rest days are for softies. Remember to train really hard every session, if you miss a session then double it up on the next session.

Periodization is important. The progressive planning of training that enables your body to adapt to a training load. One day a week off training will probably be the least you need to keep your life a little more balanced and also consider having a week off at least every three months. Use your rest day to do some core conditioning work or go and get a massage. Should you miss a session, forget it and plan for a more effective use of your time so as to enable you to minimize those missed sessions. As for the bricks, like everything there is a time and a place, ask someone at your local tri-club for advice if not following a training plan.

Sabotage No 7: Pacing and Racing

Pace and train smart so you develop a solid aerobic base to which you then add some strength – that will provide a great foundation for your Ironman. Combining endurance and strength is one of the key components to the Ironman. Discovering an effective race pace takes time and practice so be patient. When deciding which races to do, go to your goal and ask yourself which races are going to provide you with the necessary skills needed to do the Ironman. Don’t jeopardize your Ironman for the sake of another race. The Ironman is to be your number one race so therefore turn up at the start line ready to race not having already raced and tired.

Sabotage No 8: Making Time the Main Measure of a Successful Ironman

In making time the measure of your Ironman success, three things normally occur. Firstly, the time you set is often quicker than is realistic so you end up going slower and getting frustrated. Secondly, you put huge pressure on yourself. Thirdly, the Ironman has so many more measurable criteria for success, so why limit it to time.

Sabotage No 9: Give the swimming the biff

The Swim may only be 10% but it takes up 90% of your emotion the morning of the ironman so give it the respect it deserves. A swim squad with a good coach will enable you to swim efficiently and bilaterally breathing is very important not only for your stroke, and your body posture but it will enable you to breath regardless of the wind condition on race day. Open water swimming will get you familiar with sighting and drafting others. Resist buying a wetsuit while you have your winter coat on! As you get closer to the ironman you will lean down and this is the fit that you want the suit to recognize as your suit needs to fit you like a glove not like a rain coat! Position yourself in the pace so as to allow yourself to get a smart swim, not one where you are likely to get a serious smacking!

Sabotage No 10: Bike Fits, Big Bike & ride off the back!

Your height will determine what size wheels you should be riding. Given that the bike is a time trial you really should be riding a triathlon specific designed bike. Try to convert a standard cycling bike into a tri bike and be very wary of the change in the bike handing and stability. Spin the bike course and enjoy the marathon with fresh legs. Helmets and shoes wear out so get these checked before assuming they are okay. Ironman bike fitting is a science, so make sure the person fitting you to your bike is experienced with the Ironman distance and has proven results with their techniques of bike fitting.

Sabotage No 11: Run Hard, Big Miles & Fast

Many run a couple of marathons before the Ironman, just to make sure they can do it. But consider doing long slow miles on off road terrain, keeping your pace slow enough to build up a huge aerobic capacity is the key to Ironman base training. Training pace and race pace are two separate levels of intensity and as such, have a time and a place in all effective programs.

Sabotage No 12: Eat What You Like

Nutrition is one of the four golden aspects of Ironman – other than Pacing, Heart Rate and Cadence, getting your Nutrition right will help to ensure a good race. Ensuring a good balance between the carbs and protein, along with sufficient electrolyte intake, is the constant nutrition juggle that will have a major impact on both your ability to train and more importantly your ability to recover and train again and again. “Practice, practice, practice” is the nutrition catch phrase.

Sabotage No 13: Race Day Aid Stations

Learn what fuel is going to be available on the race day aid stations and plan your use of this accordingly. Practice riding through aid stations, grabbing food and bottles whilst keeping your head up and holding a straight line. Stick to your race nutrition plan regardless!

Sabotage No 14: Race Everyone

Ironman is about you getting through 2.4m (3.8km) of swimming, riding 112m (180km) and running a marathon. It is about you and no one else. The ability to hold that mental focus for the entire day is a huge skill and often one of the most neglected. Focus on the smartest way to swim the next 10 strokes, the most efficient piece of road to ride on for the next 200 meters and the best posture for the next 20 steps on the run. You won’t have time to focus on anyone else and if you find your mind wandering – bring it back and zone it on YOU. It’s you out there, so let other competitors do what they like, your race isn’t over until you cross that finish line and the sooner you can get there the better.

There is some good advice here hopefully it will help you like it has helped me. Please comment and let me know how you find the article.

All the best


I am doing IMUK 2014 for Scope you can sponsor me here at uk.virginmoneygiving./ironcrab



January 3, 2014 | Posted in General, Nutrition | By

I am constantly hungry. I wake up, I’m hungry, have a large breakfast and drive to work and when I get there, I’m hungry, I have to force myself to wait until 12pm for my lunch every day because I’m hungry; you get the picture.

Is being hungry all the time like this bad and mean that there is something wrong with me? Is it OK to be hungry?

Time for my usual google search to see what I can find on the subject and try to pull all the information, plus my thoughts on the subject, together in one place. I found a couple of interested articles on the topic but one in particular titled how to track calories in which at the bottom on the article the question was raised around hunger. I have summarised below:

Why do you get hungry in the first place?

When you eat, the fat cells in your body release a hormone called leptin. Increased levels of leptin reduce your desire and motivation to continue eating or eat more. Once you’ve finished eating your leptin levels are high which suppresses hunger. Within a few hours after you’ve finished eating, your leptin levels drop, and this drop in leptin causes a release of a different hormone, ghrelin, which is released by your stomach and pancreas and makes you feel hungry.

One reason why many people have a harder time controlling their appetite or stopping after they’ve eaten enough: they’re leptin resistant.

In addition to spending much of your life eating too much, other lifestyle choices that can cause a leptin-ghrelin imbalance include lack of sleep, stress, and – even if you’re not over-eating – eating “hyper-palatable foods”, such as processed or packaged foods that were designed to be addictive (Dorito’s, anyone?).

So is hunger a bad thing?

First, it’s important to understand that in a normal situation, the leptin/ghrelin interaction and the hunger it produces is completely necessary for our survival. However, if you have ample energy stores from food or own fat stores, then there’s probably something wrong if you’re constantly hungry, and here’s what is recommended you do:

1) Re-sensitize yourself to leptin. Try 4-8 weeks of completely changing your lifestyle and eating patterns that may be contributing to leptin resistance. Here are the top ways to do that:

-Avoid fructose sugars – they tend to be a real trigger for leptin resistance… These can be found in most tree fruits, vegetables, sauces, beverages and processed foods. For a full list check out this site.

-Exercise in moderation, avoiding chronic cardio and stressful marathon-esque workouts, and instead using short HIIT sessions with full recovery….

-Control stress and cortisol – more info here

-Try cold thermogenesis – cold exposure may help with leptin sensitivity, these can now be found at a lot of gyms usually called ‘plunge pools’.

2) Avoid hunger triggers. Certain eating patterns and foods have been proven to be correlated with higher amounts of hunger. Here are some tips for controlling those triggers:

-Keep sweets and snacks out of the house or hidden in opaque containers…

-When you’re eating, put any extra food away (i.e. into the fridge) before you begin your meal…

-Avoid higher carbohydrate or high glycemic index foods which cause a hunger response very soon after a meal…

-Limit your options by having small amounts of food around your house – no big bulk Costco food purchases or easy to grab cans and bags.

3) Know What You Ate. Use online or mobile calorie counting tools to create some amount of awareness, even if just for a short period of time. Two additional strategies you can use to know what you ate are:

-Not snacking too frequently. It’s almost impossible to keep track of food and calories if you’re snacking 5-10 times a day (as many nutritionists sadly suggest). Instead, just eat 2-3 square meals, and then, if you have a workout, only eat either before or after the workout.

-Making your own food. The less you eat out at restaurants, have other people prepare your food, or eat out of packages and containers, the easier it will be to keep track of and know what you ate.

Finally, if you want one more reason not to fret about eating when you’re hungry, then you should know that in active people, energy restriction and cutting calories actually makes you fat.

That’s right.

Chronic calorie reduction in active athletes like gymnasts and runners has been proven to increase body fat percentage. This is because the combination of exercise stress and calorie restriction puts your body into starvation mode, where it becomes more necessary to store fat than to build or maintain muscle. Don’t believe that restricting calories can make you fat? Just read this study, in which energy deficits of as little as 300 calories per day below what was required for meeting activity requirements actually decrease metabolism and increased body fat percentage in both runners and gymnasts (8).

In summary, being hungry is not a bad thing if it is because you have a biological need for more calories or nutrients. In this case, simply pay attention to your body and eat more if necessary.

For the full transcript of the above article you can read more here at how to track calories.

Good luck with the post Xmas detox and weightloss.