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.





Get strong legs for a Marathon

Strong Legs

February 25, 2014 | Posted in Cross Training, Injury Prevention | By

As mentioned in my previous post I completed a 13 mile ‘half-marathon’ on Sunday and I really struggled to get around the route much to my shock and dismay after all of the good training that I have been putting in. I have been following the Tri-Ripped Training programme and am currently within the second months of Phase 1 which has been based on shorter, sharper sessions with hill running sessions and drills so I can understand that my lungs would fatigue during the run as this is the longest and farthest I’ve run for a while. But what did, and continues to, surprise me is that my legs, although feeling good early on in the run, especially on the uphill sections, massive fatigued to a point of not being able to lift or bend them and my pace massively dropped as did my heart rate as I couldn’t seem to get my body to work hard enough to raise it.

Whilst I have spent a lot of time studying and picking a training programme and I am happy with the Tri-Ripped Programme thus far I wanted to do some research myself which in the main has reiterated my confidence in the training plan that I am following and I now believe that I went too far and too long too early. It is not until Phase 2 of the plan (in a couple of weeks’ time) that the mileage is set to grow gradually at weeks end. At this point it is probably worth mentioning that even though I am training for an Ironman Triathlon; I have been looking at the Marathon and running in general in isolation here.

So, how do you get strong legs for a marathon???

My Research (Well, Google Search…)

Time for my usual solution to most problems (research based anyway) and a quick google for “improve leg strength for marathon” led me straight to a number of good informative sites and articles which actually give pretty similar advice around improving your leg strength specifically for a marathon.

The 10 Marathon Foundations – Follow these long-time marathon principles and success will be yours!

This article is aimed at training for a marathon in general based around 10 ‘foundations’ which are good to read but for the basis of this post I have concentrated on the parts which are specifically related to improving leg strength to maximise marathon results and stripped back the content of the other rules.

“The following 10 rules underpin all our marathon programmes, some will be reinforced again as you follow a programme; others you need to think about now. And if you want to develop your own programme or tailor one of ours to your needs, these rules should help to focus your training.”

Rule 1: Start your training from a reasonable base

Based on having a base fitness before embarking on a 12-16 week marathon training programme. Depending on your target time there are guidelines given for what you base fitness should be.

Target Marathon Time Base Fitness
Sub-3:00 Regularly running 40 miles a week
Sub-3:30 Weekly mileage should be 30-35
Sub-4:00 Run 4 consecutive weeks of 20-25 miles a week
Sub-4:30 Able to run comfortably 3-4 times a week


Rule 2: Set a specific but realistic goal

Methods for calculating your marathon time goal are given here but I’ll assume you already know this part… however if not:

Multiplying your 5K time by 9.7 or your 10K time by 4.7 will give you a rough rule-of-thumb of what you are capable of. If you divide the figure by 26.2 you will obtain your perfect marathon pace in minutes per mile 09:09 per mile for my good self and a 4 hour marathon.

NB- I would add 20% to this for the Ironman Marathon time.

Rule 3: Gradually build your specific endurance

The article states that this is the ability to run longer and longer distances at marathon pace which will help you develop a sense of pace, improve your running efficiency, stop you running out of steam in the last few miles, and above all give you the confidence that you can actually run the marathon at your hoped-for pace. The effort of a marathon pace sessions should be hard but achievable, since it should be about 40-60 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace.

It is suggested that you should try to build from a six-mile marathon pace run in the first weeks of your programme up to about a 12-mile maximum declaring that anything longer than 12 miles are like races, which is not the point of the session. I think to base this rule on distance I fallible due to the difference in pace that people are running at. For example, myself; an aspiring sub-4 hour marathoner would complete 12 miles in about 1hr50 whereas a sub-3 hour marathoner would complete 12 miles in around 1hr20 therefore I would recommend sticking to the 80 minute marker regardless of speed. Support for this recommendation can be found here at incurable data geek.

Rule 4: Improve your lactate threshold pace (LTP)

LTP is one of the leading predictors of marathon success. If you can improve it, your marathon time will get better. You can use two special sessions to increase your LTP:

–          Run 10 minute intervals at your current 10K pace (do two or three intervals with five-minute recoveries) or

–          Do a continuous 25-minute tempo run at a pace that’s 12-15 seconds per mile slower than your usual 10K race pace.

Rule 5: Increase your leg muscle strength and power

This is one area that is often overlooked by marathon runners, who mistakenly think that leg-muscle strength is more important for short distances than for the marathon. They are wrong.

If you run a marathon in 3:30, and use a common stride rate of 180 steps a minute, you are taking 37,800 steps in the entire race. If you had better leg-muscle power you would achieve two things: you’d spend less time on the ground with each footstrike, and you’d increase your stride length.

It’s easy to see how this could help your time. If improved power helps you reduce your time on the ground per footstrike by just 0.02 of a second, an almost infinitesimal change, your marathon time will be 12:36 faster (0.02 x 37,800 strides). And if the same improvement in leg-muscle power helps to improve your stride length by just half an inch, you’ll gain almost 500 metres, which could be another two minutes off your time.

The best way to build leg strength and power is to do strengthening exercises twice a week. The best exercises are squats, leg extensions, thigh curls (for the hamstrings and buttocks), leg presses, toe raises and heel raises. These exercises will lower your risk of injury by fortifying your joints and protecting your legs from the pounding of marathon training.

You can also develop power and improve efficiency in the major running muscles of the legs by doing hill intervals. Find a hill that is 75-100 metres from bottom to top and run intervals at an intensity that feels slightly harder than 5K race pace. Start with seven or eight intervals, each followed by an easy jog back to the bottom of the hill.

I have found a couple of further article more on the specifics on this. One has a generic all-year-round approach the strength training and the other has a tailored approach depending upon the phase of training that you are in:

“When you get tired, your strength will pull you through,” Mark Plaatjes, the 1993 world championships marathon winner

Multiple studies show that regular strength training can improve how efficiently the body uses oxygen by as much as eight percent, translating into greater speed and more muscle endurance. Since many runners have a hard enough time squeezing workouts into their busy lives, Plaatjes was asked by Runners World to pick the most essential moves to develop strength where runners need it most (in the core and legs) and correct the natural muscular imbalances caused by running, which can lead to injury and loss of speed. And the exercises can be done at home in about 15 minutes.

A Strength Plan

For the full article and exercise description see faster in five.

  1. Single-leg Squat
  2. Balance Run
  3. Heel Raises
  4. Hamstring Push-up
  5. Plank + Lift

Strength Training for Marathon Runners

With the start of marathon training or distance running events, many guys ditch the weights in favour of additional miles on the road. While the added mileage might be beneficial for increasing endurance, it might actually lead to extra injuries. The pounding from running puts an immense strain on the body. If the muscles aren’t prepared to handle the load, stress gets absorbed elsewhere including bones and connective tissue. Maintaining a strength training program is critical for improving running efficiency particularly for those going the full 26.2.

The article from Mens Fitness goes down a more tailored route depending upon the phase of you training that you are in based upon a typical 16 weeks marathon training plan with the aim of pairingstrength works and running programme to find the ‘perfect duo’:

Phase 1 (Weeks 1-4)

Marathon focus: Base

Training focus: Stability

Although the mileage and intensity may be lower, this phase is crucial to ease runners into a harder training schedule. Similarly, the Stability Phase is meant to ease the body into strength training.

During the Stability Phase, the focus isn’t on the weight but rather on form and execution. The priorities should be practicing and mastering body-weight movements including single-leg exercises like the single-leg deadlift and single-leg squat. Both exercises will strengthen the hips and prepare the muscles to handle the increased pounding on the roads. Runners should focus on high-repetition sets (12-15 reps) with little rest time (30-45 seconds) in between exercises.

Phase 2 (Weeks 5-8)

Marathon focus: Aerobic Endurance

Training focus: Strength

The overall mileage begins to slowly increase, and runners may choose to focus one or two days a week on faster runs. The purpose of this training phase is to slowly push the cardiovascular system and begin to prepare for harder and longer runs. In the Strength Phase runners can start to add weight to exercises and work harder throughout the set. The increased intensity in the weight room helps to improve a runner’s relative strength—that is their strength relative to their body weight.

During the Strength Phase, runners should focus on bilateral exercises like the barbell squat and barbell deadlift. Whereas unilateral exercises may be the focus in the Stability Phase, it’s important to choose exercises during the Strength Phase that can be loaded up to a challenging intensity. Instead of opting for higher repetitions, runners should choose a load that is challenging for five to eight repetitions. The increase in intensity also requires a longer rest period (1-2 minutes).

Phase 3 (Weeks 9-12)

Marathon focus: Peak

Training Focus: Power

During the Peak Phase, the volume and intensity of the marathon training plan should be at its highest. The entire focus now is to get the body prepared to bust through the wall at 20 miles and get to the finish line feeling strong. Since the running volume is increased during the Peak Phase, the Power Phase in the weight room features a decrease in volume focusing primarily on form and technique instead. The intensity is high since the lifts will be performed in an explosive fashion, but sets and reps are down to give runners a chance to recover.

During the Power Phase, runners should stick to total-body movements and perform them quickly and explosively. Exercises like jump squats, box jumps, and plyometric pushups are perfect since they still activate muscle fibers and help you maintain strength while not putting wear and tear on the muscular system. These body-weight plyometrics can also serve another function of improving running form. “This type of training (body-weight plyometrics) will improve muscle and tendon stiffness, which has been shown in the research to improve running economy,” Kawamoto says. Since the focus is on form and intensity and not volume, sets and reps should be relatively low (think 2-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions) and rest times should be fairly long (2-3 minutes) between exercises.

Phase 4 (Weeks 13-16)

Marathon focus: Taper

Training focus: Maintenance and Recovery

With the hard work in the bank, the Taper Phase of marathon training is meant to give the body some time to recover from the intense training while still maintaining a high level of fitness. Long runs are cut shorter. The entire focus is on getting runners to the line feeling strong and healthy. To complement the Taper Phase, the Maintenance and Recovery Phase reduces the strength-training intensity as well. Runners should simply look to maintain strength and spend the rest of the time on stretching and foam rolling to promote recovery.

To promote recovery while not overstressing the muscular system, runners should shift away from heavily weighted exercises and focus more on body-weight movements like pushups, pullups, squats, and lunges. For those who still want to use additional weight, it’s important to keep the load light and avoid hitting failure. During this phase, runners should go back to a higher-repetition scheme (10-15 reps) while keeping sets moderate (2-3 sets) and rest times short (45-90 seconds). Workouts during this phase should also be short to avoid overtaxing the body. The extra time can be spent with massage, ice baths, and other recovery methods designed to reduce muscle soreness and damage.

Rule 6: Make your long runs count

Most runners training for a marathon believe that long runs of 18-20 miles prepare them to handle the full 26.2-mile distance. But these runs only prepare you to run part of the marathon at a slower-than-marathon pace. To make your long runs more specific to the upcoming race, you should run the early miles at 45 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace but then run the last three miles at marathon pace. This will teach your leg muscles to function at your goal pace even when they’re already tired, which is exactly what you will need them to do on marathon day.

Rule 7: Build your aerobic capacity

Having a high aerobic capacity (VO2max) will increase the blood-flow to your leg muscles, ensuring that they get all the oxygen that they need during the marathon. This will help you combat fatigue. Long runs improve VO2max, but you can also boost it by running 800m intervals at your best two-mile pace, 1200m intervals at 5K pace and one-mile intervals at 10K pace. Start with two or three intervals and build up to five or six; between each effort, jog for the same amount of time as it took to complete the interval.

Rule 8: Carbo-load daily during marathon training

This article was written in 2002 and does not align with recent thinking but I have left this section untouched and you can use it, abuse it or ignore as you see fit.

You need to consume 3-4g of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day (if you weigh 11 stone that’s 460-615g of carbohydrate, the exact figure depending on how many miles you are actually running).

If you don’t consume this much carbohydrate, your leg muscles will gradually become glycogen-depleted, leading to poorer-quality sessions and an increased risk of overtraining. Ensure that your consumption plan includes about 300 carbohydrate calories immediately after running. Studies show that this is the time when your muscles will most easily assimilate the carbohydrate.

Don’t worry if you gain a pound or two when you begin this high-carbohydrate diet. It is probably just essential additional water that your body stores with the glycogen. These additional pounds will disappear as your better-fuelled leg muscles take you through higher-quality sessions.

Rule 9: Taper

This is the golden rule of marathon training, which forms one of the main cornerstones of all our schedules. If you don’t taper (ease off) sufficiently for the race, you may find that you’ve wasted all those hard sessions. You will find that our schedules reduce your training for three weeks before the race, falling from 85 per cent of mileage with three weeks to go, to 75 per cent in the penultimate week and 50 per cent in the final week.

A contradictory opinion on this can be found again at incurable geek.

Rule 10: Run a smart marathon

For a perfect marathon, you should start out at precisely the average pace that you’ll need to hit your target, or even a few seconds per mile slower to achieve a negative split. The key is not to go out too fast. The article claims that studies have shown that runners who exceed their marathon pace by as little as two per cent during the first few miles of the marathon (which is very easy to do, and could be only 10 seconds per mile) are the ones who have the greatest drop-off in pace in the last six miles.

Also, be sure to carbo-load during the marathon. No matter how well you’ve followed this practice beforehand, your leg muscles are eventually going to run low on glycogen during the race. To avoid this, try to drink five or six mouthfuls of a carbohydrate drink 15 minutes before the start of the marathon and every 15 minutes during the run. This is something you should practise regularly throughout training.

Squats For Those Who Can’t Squat

This is a little aside for myself really as I use this site as a reference point when I can’t quite remember where I have seen an interesting article somewhere. However, if you, like me, struggle in anyway with you knees I found the Squats For Those Who Can’t Squat article on the t-nation bodybuilders website.

The article starts off ”squats are one of my absolute favorite exercises. Unfortunately, as much as I love squats, my knees and back don’t. If I’m not careful they can really do a number on me. I could nix squats altogether in favour of more single-leg work, but squats are too valuable to ditch entirely, plus I just enjoy doing them.

If you have a similar love-hate relationship with squats, here are some ways to make the lift more user-friendly.”

1-      Switch to Front Squats

For starters, it’s easier to squat to an appropriate depth with front squats than back squats, so more people can do it well and front squats are a lot easier on the body as you’re forced to keep a more upright posture. Front squats also do a better job of targeting the quads.

2-      Shoot for About Parallel

Aim to squat to parallel or maybe slightly below. For most lifters this means you need to squat deeper because most people squat abysmally high. Quarter squats are just an ego exercise; they allow you to handle more weight than you deserve to be lifting. Full squats are better than partial squats for leg development but there is such a thing as “too low,” especially for those with lower back and knee issues.  Squat just below parallel and your joints will feel much better for it.

3-      Control the Eccentric

It is recommended that controlling the eccentric portion of the squat rather than dive bombing to prevent bouncing and reducing for on the knee. You don’t necessarily have to pause in the bottom position, but it is suggested. This will also ensure that you’re relying on the muscles to lift the weight rather than using momentum.

4-      Get Wider

Take a moderate stance just outside shoulder-width and breaking from both the hips and knees at the same time. This will allow for a good torso position and still smoke the quads without putting quite so much stress on the knees. Try just moving your stance out a few inches and it will make a world of difference to your knees.

5-      Squat to a Box or Pins

The primary reason for squatting to a box or the pins in a safety rack is to serve as a depth gauge. For high squatters, it forces you to go all the way down. For ass-to-grass squatters, it stops you from going too low. Squatting to a box or pins also encourages you to control the eccentric so you aren’t bouncing off the box or bouncing the bar off the pins.

6-      Use Chains

Chains are not something that I have available at my local gym but they’re a great way to take some stress off the lower back and knees in the bottom position while still allowing you to move bigger weights.

7-      Stick to Moderate Reps

Those with joint issues will do best spending the majority of their training time in the 6-12 rep range. Going much below that is flirting with danger, and doing super high reps can often lead to some gnarly form breakdown.

8-      Squat at the End of the Workout

Squatting at the end of the workout ensures you’re sufficiently warmed up, and it also means you’ll have to lighten the load, which takes stress off the joints and makes it easier to maintain good form.

Thanks again for reading and good luck with your training.



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



Training when Injured – What to do to keep Your Training Plan on Track.

injured featured

January 16, 2014 | Posted in Injury Prevention | By

As cold weather approaches (it’s not happened yet but it’s coming), joint injuries become more frequent. The lower temperatures decrease elasticity of tendons and ligaments, resulting in an increased susceptibility to injury. My reason for writing this article which is a follow up and has been partly covered by my previous post Ironman Winter Training is the number of people who have been hobbling around the office lately and complained about “not being able to exercise” due to one or a number of shoulder, knee, back, or ankle injuries.

While you want to follow your doctor or physio’s recommendation for reducing movement around your injury, there’s no reason that you can’t continue training when injured. It’s just going to take a modification of your training program – the key being to keep stress off the affected area. Try the following workout programs with these 4 common injuries:

1. Ankle & Foot Injuries

  • Perform the following workout 3 times per week, allowing 48 hours rest in-between.
  • Complete 15 repetitions for each exercise.
  • Complete the two exercises back to back with minimal rest, then move on and complete 60 seconds of the cardio.
  • Complete each circuit (exercise 1 + exercise 2 + cardio) 3-4 times then move on to the next triple set.
    • Machine Leg Extensions, Machine Leg Curls, Stationary Bike
    • Incline Dumbbell Chest Press, Lat Pulldowns, Rowing Machine or Elliptical Machine
    • Stability Ball Push-ups, Single Arm Dumbbell Rows, Stationary Bike
    • Weighted Crunches, Hanging Leg Raises, Rowing Machine or Elliptical Machine
  •  Perform 30-60 minutes non-weight bearing cardio, like swimming or cycling, on the non-weight lifting days.


2. Knee Injuries

  • Complete 10 repetitions of the following series of exercises as a circuit 3-4 times.
  • Move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. Do Circuit 1 and Circuit 2 on alternating days:
    • Circuit 1
      • Seated Overhead Shoulder Press
      • Pull-up or Assisted Pull-up
      • Lying Dumbbell Chest Press
      • Seated Row
      • Incline Bumbbell Chest Press
      • Lat Pulldown
    • Circuit 2
      • Seated Med Ball Torso Twist
      • Med Ball Crunch
      • Side Plank Raises
      • Med Ball Push-Ups
      • 5 Second Front Plank Hold
      • Corkscrew Rotations in Push-Up Position


3. Shoulder Injuries

  • Complete the five rounds of the following mini-circuits every day for three days. Do Mini-Circuit 1 on Day 1, Mini-Circuit 2 on Day 2 and Mini-Circuit 3 on Day 3. Then take a days rest, and repeat.
    • Mini-Circuit 1:
      • 2 minute bicycle at 100%
      • 20 Barbell Squats
      • 20 Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts
    • Mini-Circuit 2:
      • 2 minute elliptical at 100%
      • 20 Incline Crunches
      • 20 Low Back Extensions
    • Mini-Circuit 3:
      • 2 minute treadmill at 100%
      • 20 Lunge Jumps
      • 20 Horizontal Jumps


4. Low Back Injuries

  • Complete the following circuit 3 times during the week performing 30 seconds for each exercise, and then resting 15 seconds before moving on. Complete the entire circuit 4-6 times.
    • Machine Chest Press
    • Lat Pulldowns
    • Machine Shoulder Press
    • Seated Rows
    • Stability Ball Squats
    • Machine Leg Extensions
    • Machine Leg Curls
  •  Complete 30-60 minutes of non-weight bearing cardio on the non-weightlifting days.


On the topic of lower back injuries, I have recent read a short ebook entitled “Run With No Pain” that gives advice on how to reduce and treat lower back pain in runners, cyclists, and swimmers. The ebook is very short but it has links to videos of the exercises and the demonstration and exercises are well worth looking at if you think that you have a posterior or anterior tilt of your pelvis. The exercises are well put together and work each side in a different way.

Hope you are progressing in the way you have planned

All the best

I am doing the IMUK 2014 for the charity Scope. An donations would be much appreciated.


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


Ironman Winter Training

December 13, 2013 | Posted in Cross Training, General, Indoor Training, Injury Prevention, Training Plans | By

Winter is fast approaching and especially here over in the UK we have been promised one of the coldest winters in recent times. I have been pondering of the best way of dealing with this weather as I really want to pick up my ironman winter training during the months of January and February which have been the coldest the last few years.

Time for my usual google search in which I found quite a few interesting sites and articles around what training to do over the winter months and what to consider when planning your types of training to undertake. The initial site that I found A Simple Winter Training Plan from coach cox who has built a general plan with the aim of keeping consistency in all three sports putting a bias towards running to improve your running and at least maintaining bike fitness. I recommend checking out the article as a plan can be tailored to work indoors if the weather is as bad as promised it will be over the winter months.

Winter Roads

Winter Roads

Another article titled Winter Training for Ironman on starts by saying that “If you try to rush it and do too much too soon then chances are you’ll be injured, burned out, or past your best by the time you get to Ironman. So relax for now, keep training, but don’t over do it now.

5-10 hours total per week is plenty of training for now”. Working on technique for your Swim, plenty of hills on the Bike and making sure you don’t overdo the running and risk injury.’s 5 Ways to Maximize Your Winter Training says “it’s essential to include an offseason to reestablish a strong aerobic base” whilst ensuring that you devote time to rest and recovery. The five ways are listed as:

1. Assess the past season: Was it successful? If yes, it would appear you already have a great routine in place. Otherwise, things may need changing. This could include bike setup, training shoes and race nutrition, eating habits and overall training philosophy. Take time to honestly evaluate all factors.
2. Address any injuries: Barring a bike crash or other accident, knee pain, fatigue and depression are examples of physical, chemical and mental injuries. The causes of these problems should be found and corrected, which may require help from a professional.
3. Develop an endurance-based training plan: About 98 percent of the energy needs for triathlons come from the aerobic system, so re-establishing an aerobic base once (or twice) each year is vital. An important training “partner” and valuable asset for developing an aerobic base is a heart rate monitor.
4. Perform an endurance evaluation: You can ensure your endurance development is really taking place by performing ongoing, objective evaluations of your improvement. For example, if you established that your max aerobic training heart rate is 146, and you can run 8:00 minutes per mile at this rate, developing a better aerobic base should result in running at 7:30 pace at the same heart rate. Learn more about MAF Testing from Phil Maffetone here.
5. Strength train right: Triathletes can improve both bone and muscle strength with simple, short and non-stressful workouts. Correctly done, using higher weight and lower (5-7 reps) these should not impair endurance. Instead of isolating muscles, use whole body actions such as dead lifts and squats for more extensive strength gains.

The article finishes by stating that “Effective implementation and measurable results should be expected by midwinter and planning a spring-summer training and racing season will then be more tangible. With significant endurance and a balanced body, expect a great performance in your first race.”

One thing that has been a recurring theme during my research on winter training is the association of cold weather and joint injuries. Something that I am very interested in as I have previously had an ACL replacement and continue to struggle with my knees and back. Personally I think that a lot of my issues are due to gaining weight in the winter and losing flexibility. I found a pdf from LEMAK sports medicine & orthopaedics which althought is aimed at snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, or sledding the tips still apply.

Ankle Injury

Ankle Injury

Below is a exert from a titled Run With No Pain that I found online giving some good advice on different exercises you could be undertaking if you suffer from one of the four common injuries listed below:

1. Ankle & Foot Injuries
• Perform the following workout 3x/week, with 48 hours rest between each workout.
• Complete 15 repetitions for each exercise.
• Complete the two exercises back to back with minimal rest, then move on to the cardio booster.
• Complete 60 seconds for each cardio booster.
• Move 3-4x through these 3 stations (exercise 1 + exercise 2 + cardio booster)
• Then move on to the next triple set!
• Perform 30-60 minutes non-weight bearing cardio, like swimming or cycling, on the non-weight lifting days.
◦ Machine Leg Extensions + Machine Leg Curls + Bicycle Cardio Booster
◦ Incline Dumbbell Chest Press + Lat Pulldown + Rowing Machine or Elliptical Cardio Booster
◦ Stability Ball Push-Up + Single Arm Dumbbell Row + Bicycle Cardio Booster
◦ Weighted Crunches + Hanging Leg Raise + Bicycle Cardio Booster

2. Knee Injuries
• Complete the following series of exercises as a circuit, moving from one exercise to the next with minimal rest.
• Do the entire circuit 3-4x.
• Complete 10 repetitions for each exercise.
• Do Circuit 1 and Circuit 2 on alternating days
◦ Circuit 1:
▪ Seated Overhead Shoulder Press
▪ Pull-Up or Assisted Pull-Up
▪ Lying Dumbbell Chest Press
▪ Seated Row
▪ Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
▪ Lat Pulldown

◦ Circuit 2
▪ Seated Med Ball Torso Twist
▪ Med Ball Crunch
▪ Side Plank Raises
▪ Med Ball Push-Ups
▪ 5 Second Front Plank Hold
▪ Corkscrew Rotations in Push-Up Position

3. Shoulder Injuries
• Complete the following mini-circuits 5x through every day for three days. do #1 on Day 1, #2 on Day 2, #3 on Day 3. Take one day rest, then repeat.
◦ Mini-Circuit 1:
▪ 2 minute bicycle at 100%
▪ 20 Barbell Squats
▪ 20 Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

◦ Mini-Circuit 2:
▪ 2 minute elliptical at 100%
▪ 20 Incline Crunches
▪ 20 Low Back Extensions

◦ Mini-Circuit 3:
▪ 2 minute treadmill at 100%
▪ 20 Lunge Jumps
▪ 20 Horizontal Jumps

4. Low Back Injuries

• Complete the following circuit 3x during the week.
• Perform 30 seconds for each exercise, then rest 15 seconds and move on.
• Do the entire circuit 4-6x.
• Complete 30-60 minutes of non-weight bearing cardio on the non-weightlifting days.
◦ Machine Chest Press
◦ Lat Pulldown
◦ Machine Shoulder Press
◦ Seated Rows
◦ Stability Ball Squats
◦ Machine Leg Extensions
◦ Machine Leg Curls

Good luck running up to Xmas