Sunday, 22 December 2013

My gear of the year - 2013

I've been debating long and hard about whether to do this blogpost but decided to do it in the vain hope that some of my favourite products from the last twelve months could help you in your swimbikerun ambitions.

I would like to begin by stating that these reviews / recommendations are my true and honest opinion and I have not received any financial reimbursement or any products for these opinions. I am not sponsored or endorsed by any of the companies mentioned in this blogpost (despite sending out some sponsorship enquiries).

Compressport Triathlon Kit

I bought this kit on the day before Outlaw. I wanted a two piece to make visiting the toilet during my potential 17 hour day easier. I know in my heart that it was stupid to but new kit before my A race but in my head I knew it was the right thing to do in case I suffered gastrointestinal problems. Only having to remove my bottoms would make this more bearable.

As it turned out my nutrition strategy led to no GI issues but thankfully my kit choice proved fruitful in that the longer sleeved top prevented me suffering sunburn in the 34 degree heat. The compression on my quads was also a lifesaver in the latter stages of the run as it really did prevent muscle oscillation.

I also used this kit at The London Triathlon and again it didn't disappoint. Will this be in my arsenal in 2014. You bet it will.

Smoker2Ironman score - 89%

HUUB Archimedes

After completing my two triathlons in 2012 in my hired (but eventually purchased) Foor Classic, I knew a wetsuit upgrade was needed. I decided to #ChooseHUUB as the science behind their products appealed to my analytical brain and I knew there was potential to decrease my swim times while also being more efficient in the water. I knew the 3:5 wetsuits would help eliminate any sinky legs and enable a feeling of swimming downhill.

In my first competitive wear of a 3:5 wetsuit I only just missed out on completing my half iron swim in 30 minutes. Wow.

I followed this up with a 70 minute swim at Outlaw which pleased me as I didn't really settle in to my groove at all that morning.

In London I PB'd the swim by 4 minutes and 27 seconds over my effort in 2012 and I am convinced the swim in 2013 was longer as well.

But the highlights of my season in my HUUB Archimedes was being first out the water in a local aquathlon and then the following day being 5th out the water in an olympic distance triathlon where I completed the swim in 23:46.

Has the Archimedes helped my improve my swimming, you bet it has I am less tired and quicker to boot. It is all to do with the elevated legs that the 3:5 wetsuit gives me. This suit will be in my arsenal until I have to put it in the wetsuit grave and I am thrilled I bought this suit.

S2I score - 92%

Skechers Go Run 2

Given all the problems I have had with trainers this year, I was pleased when the podiatrist told me my running form was a lot better in my Skechers Go Run Ride. I knew I felt more comfortable.

When I went to the expo at London I had some birthday money from my Grandma so decided to visit the Skechers stand. I knew I wanted to try on some Skechers Go Run 2 due to their stripped down lightweight construction. As soon as I tried them on I knew they were the shoe for me. They were so lightweight but so cushioned and responsive. After a quick sprint up and down Excel I was sold and knew I had found my racing flat.

I saved these trainers for my next short distance triathlon which was Brigg Sprint in September and for once I actually felt fast in these shoes. I managed to maintain a pace of 08:45 for miles 1 and 2 which is quick by my standards. I also went sock less for the first time ever. I just felt at home in these trainers.

I also wore these trainers for my recent 5k PB and wore them when I got photographed for Triathlon Plus.

I really am amazed that something so light can provide ample cushioning for me to be able to run given my 15 stone weight.

Who knows what I would feel like running in their new Go Run Ultra trainers which I think would be ideal for next years foray into iron distance?

It should be noted that these trainers are more suited to mid to forefoot strikers rather than heel strikers. They are a neutral trainer and really suit my running style. I start off forefoot striking but when I tire I switch to mid foot striking.

S2I score - 90%

For Goodness Shakes

A friend gave me a bottle of For Goodness Shake earlier in the year for after a long run. Wow. It tastes amazing and is satisfyingly thick. After a long run or ride it is the first thing I consume. Its 3:1 carb to protein ratio really helps replenish those carb levels. Since trying the bottles I bought a tub of powder and now mix it when needed.

It really does taste like chocolate milkshake and is really tasty. When I consume it, I also find I am less likely to crash later in the day which is something I used to do before I started taking this after long rides or runs.

Another thing I like about this product os that fact you can buy it pre made in bottles, as powder in sachets (to take to races) and powder in a big tub to mix as and when you need it.

I do find this product helps my recovery and will continue to use it in my training towards Ironman Austria.

S2I score - 86%

Nectar Hydro

This is made by the same company who make For Goodness Shakes and is their electrolyte tablet. For about £7 you get 20 servings of a really tasty electrolyte drink, I find it does not have that same chemically taste of other electrolyte tablets that are available.

For those not in the know electrolyte drinks contain little or zero calories but do contain essential salts which help stave off cramps during exercise. I use electrolyte in combination with energy drinks to rehydrate my body during longer training rides or runs and use them on their own to rehydrate during swimming sessions (which is when I tend to cramp).

They really are tasty and refreshing. Some people swear by SIS, other by High5 but for me it is Nectar Hydro. Surely they've got to be worth a £7 gamble.

S2I score - 75%

Karrimor Running Socks

As I have blogged about a lot this year I have had a lot of issues with blisters. It turns out that despite me trying 4 different brands of socks, part of my solution lied in these superb socks from Karrimor. These socks can be purchased form Sports Direct and are anatomically fitted to your feet. They come in numerous sizes and are available for men and women.

And the best bit they are available for £5.00 for two pairs. I have paid up to £15 a pair for socks to try and cure my blister problem but the solution lied in a pair of £2.50 socks from Sports Direct. Who knew?

S2I score - 91%

Asics Convertible Jacket - Similar to

During a trip to Ashford to see friends, we called into MacArthur Glen and I visited the Asics shop where I purchased a convertible jacket for running. This has revolutionised my autumn and winter running in the fact it is convertible.

I set off running with the sleeves on and then when I warm up I remove the sleeves which leaves me running in a gilet. I would be unable to set off in a gilet as I would be too cold but when I am up to temperature I love being able to remove my sleeves. It saves me overheating. I also love the fact that I can take the sleeves off on the fly. It opens up so many options for running in autumn and winter.

S2I score - 80%

Hoka One One Tarmac Stinson

Following my 7 hour marathon at Outlaw where very step after 13 miles hurt my feet, I decided the problem was to do with lack of cushioning. 15 stone bouncing from one foot to the other repeatedly is bound to have an effect.

I did some research and came across Hoka One One who are company who have developed a neutral low drop running trainer with extra cushioning for people who run ultra marathons. Hang on extra cushioning. Could this be the answer to my marathon problems? I thought so.

I even made a special trip to Kendal to Pete Bland Sports to try some trainers on. They fit like a glove and I hope to use these in my iron distance marathons next year unless I fall in love with some Skechers Go Run Ultra in the meantime. The only downside to these trainers is the fact they are quite weighty when compared to trainers with normal cushioning. And yes I am aware the trainers look like something from an early Spice Girls video.

S2I score - 83%

Planet X 60mm carbon clinchers

I bought these wheels because they were a bargain. At under £500, when I bought them they were a steal. The 60mm section is amazingly aerodynamic and they are really lightweight. Have they contributed to my 6mph increase in average bike speed. You bet they have as they slice through the air.

Was weight a consideration when buying the wheels. Not really. I'm 15 stone. If I wanted something extremely lightweight, it would be cheaper to lose weight but their aerodynamic properties appealed to my scientific brain. they spin up really quickly and seem to hold speed more than my standard wheels. I save these predominantly for racing and am relived by the 11-28 cassette I had fitted to them as it helps with my climbing.

S2I score - 87%

X Lab Super Wing and 2 number Gorilla Cages

I purchased a rear hydration system for my road bike to enable me to keep myself hydrated on longer rides. Quite simply it works, it allows me easy access to numerous bottles when on the bike. It means I can go for longer rides without having to worry about running out of liquid. My bike can hold 4 bottles which is 3l. This was essential for Outlaw where the heat was ridiculous.

S2I score - 84%

ISM Adamo Prologue

I bought this product after suffering with saddle chafage to my undercarriage during some longer training rides. After a period of adjustment (in which there is mild discomfort) I didn't look back. The dual noses are much more comfortable on longer rides and there is now no discomfort on rides of over 50 miles. This was a godsend on my longer training rides. I can't recommend this saddle enough if you are in any discomfort on your longer rides. It changed my outlook on comfort. Plus how can the current IM world champion be wrong?

S2I score - 88%

TigerTail Muscle Massager -

Following my trip to Mallorca with RG Active where one of the coaches had one of these. I was dumbfounded that something so simple could be so effective. Have you ever wondered how you can get the benefits of a foam roller when on your travels? If so this is the product for you. It is a wonderful product and can help eliminate those aches and pains. Mine lives by my bed in case I wake up with any niggles on the next day. A quick roll on the area and the knots or aches tend to disappear.  The ends of the massager can be used to work any persistent knots.

S2I score - 85%
Product of the Year

Its a bit controversial but my product of the year is……….

DRUMROLL please……………..

Paceline Products Chamois Buttr

Hang on I hear you cry. Where is #Rinnie? (my Planet X Exocet). Well I haven't actually ridden Rinnie outside so she hasn't been used properly and is therefore not valid for the 2013 award.

But how can you pick a chamois butter as you product of the year?

Simple it is my award and this product has allowed me to reach all my goals this year. It has allowed me to run blister free since I came up with the idea of putting it on my feet in an act of pure desperation with the Outlaw looming 13 days away. Now for 90% of my runs I put this on my feet and apart form the very occasional rub I have mostly been blister free since the start of July.

My blister problem had reduced me to tears so to be able to run blister free is an amazing feeling.

I also use this product to moisten my chamois' on longer rides as well and can confirm it has resulted in no chafing there either.

S2I score - 95%

There is also no mention for Jack Oat Bar despite recently becoming an ambassador of theirs and subsequently haven't really used their products before or during racing and as such have been unable to comment on their effectiveness.

If you have any comments, please get in touch.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Ironman Austria training week 2 - Taking the positives

So another week has passed. Only 28 weeks to go until my date with Klagenfurt.

Has it been a good week with regards training. It's been a bit up and down to be honest but I'll get to that in a minute.

I started the week thinking I would have an enforced two weeks of no running as when I got up on Monday I couldn't walk. I has a severe stabbing pain on the outside of my foot and thought my old friend perineal tendinitis had decided to pay me a visit again. I couldn't bare this pain so booked an appointment with a physio at my new favourite place, Blizard Physio.

After some diagnosis of where the pain was (it was alternating between the outside of my foot and my arch), the physio said it was a problem with a nerve in my back. Hang on the pain is in my foot, how can it be a problem in my back?

This made no sense to me but after it had been explained, it started to. I had a problem with my sciatic nerve which links to my sural and my tibial nerves so the root of the pain was my sciatic nerve. After half an hour of massage and some nerve mobilisation stretches I could walk again. I was blown away.

According to "bible", I should have completed the following training this week 

Monday - Rest day
Tuesday - Track session and swim set number 3
Wednesday - 30 minute bike followed by a 15 minute run
Thursday - GI Tri swim set and 30 minute high cadence spin on the bike
Friday - 45 minute zone 2 run
Saturday - 90 minute bike ride
Sunday - 1 hour zone 1 - 2 run

When I got up on Monday I did think running would be out of the question so any training I managed would be good. I really was in that much pain.

On Monday I had the prescribed rest day apart from the physio appointment.

On Tuesday I went along to the track session with a slight sense of trepidation as I didn't know if I was able to run following my issue from Monday. The set was 1 lot of 1600m followed by 10 lots of 600m. I set off on the 1600m but after 700m my shoe lace came undone. I stopped to tie it and was annoyed that I hadn't managed to complete the first part of the set. I set off again but only complete 3 of the 4 laps. I then started the 600's and was holding a good pace through the first two reps but my back felt really tight. I missed the third rep as a result. I completed another two reps before my back troubled me again. After another two reps, the quicker runners had completed their prescribed set so it was time for a cool down.

I was a little disheartened with my performance at track but taking the positives form it, I didn't think I'd be running at all so that fact I ran over 10km including the warm up and cool down is a massive result.

On Wednesday I went to the GI Tri swim set as exercising on Thursday was out of the question as it was my 3rd wedding anniversary. This was the first time I had swum since my rotator cuff injury so another positive was I could swim again. I even attempted one armed swimming and managed two lengths of right arm swimming without incident. In total I swam over 1.2 miles and felt really relaxed. It really is good to be back swimming.

Thursday was a rest day.

On Friday I had the day off work and after completing some necessary "life admin" I managed to have 40 minutes on the turbo followed by a 30 minute zone 2 run. During the 40 turbo session, I was tinkering with my saddle position on #Rinnie and think I have finally cracked this. After moving the saddle back about 40mm and making sure the saddle is nearly level I am almost comfortable. This is another huge relief as I could not get comfy before. I can't wait for some good weather so I can take #Rinnie out for her maiden ride.

On Saturday I went to a timed 5km run with the aim of setting a new PB, I blogged about this here. I successfully set a new PB for 5km which I was over the moon with.

Today I went for the prescribed 1 hour zone 1-2 run but my HR seemed fixed in zone 1 today. I completed 5.7 miles in the one hour but my HR rarely left zone 1 which was a novelty as it usually spikes. I felt really strong but there was some pain in my legs from yesterdays efforts. I could have gone further but decided to stick to my plan. No point risking injury on week 2.
My HR graph from todays run
Like I said it's been a bit up and down but taking the positives. I didn't think I would manage any running so to have completed 21 miles in a week was a real confidence boost. And I set a new PB for 5km so despite the setbacks it has been a really good week.

So far December is proving to be a good month for mileage completed on my feet and is already my third best total mileage in 2013 and I still have another 16 days to go. In fact this weeks mileage of 21 miles is my 4th best total weekly run milage of 2013 and it is only week 2 of my training plan. Who knows maybe I am a runner. In fact AM A RUNNER.

Also this week I finally got my hands on some Jack Oatbars after seeing a lot about them on Twitter and I can confirm they are really tasty. They are a really nice consistency as well and quite filling. In fact I had one for my breakfast on Saturday before my PB run. I don't know if the two are connected but I'm sure the folks at jackoatbar would claim they are.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Nearly a serious runner

In 2012 there was an article in Runner's World which said and I quote.

"Busting the 25 minute (5k) barrier marks you as a serious runner. It requires a commitment to more mileage and focused workouts, and can take years to achieve."

Now I know a lot of you out there will look at this statement and view it with some disdain as you will have been able to run sub 25 for what seems like forever.

But for someone like me who is not a runner and up until this January was chasing the elusive sub 30, it was a carrot. A carrot which I have half been half chasing in my quest for my body to "be the best it can be"

Following my lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio, we set a target of going sub 24 for 5km as my body should be able to complete this given the results that were achieved. It won't be easy but with the right training should be achievable.

A sub 25 minute 5km equates to an average speed of 8:02 / mile.

So today as I had a rare spare Saturday morning I tootled over to Bircotes for the Blizard Physio breakfast run. Their breakfast run is a free timed 5km run which is held on roads near their clinic with a free breakfast afterwards.

I had made a conscious decision yesterday to go on the hunt of a new PB for 5km. My PB currently stands at 26:48 and I set this during the Doncaster 5km race in July this year.

So I should have prepared correctly and had an early night last night, right?

Well erm yes I should but it was my Wife's Christmas party in Leeds so I went to Leeds and had 7 beers and then the train home was delayed and I didn't get in until 00:30.

As you can understand this isn't ideal preparation and when my alarm went off at 06:45 I nearly had second thoughts about going along.

So lets get this right.

I had 6 hours sleep, 7 beers and I was going to attempt to run 5km quicker than I ever thad previously.

Yup. Not my wisest decision.

My tweet from before the run
I drove over to Bricotes for the 08:30 start and got chatting to a few of the regulars. We then set off on a 1.2 mile run to the start line. This was completed at an easy pace and was a superb warm up.

During the plod over, Jay (who I know from track) asked one of the other runners what time they were going for today. After they said 8 minute miles, it was decided that Dave would pace me round the 5km and as long as I stuck with him I would get close to the elusive 25:00.

The course is a three lap course near Bircotes and each lap is just under one mile in length. There is a hill on the first part of each lap but then it gently rolls back down over the remaining 2/3 of the lap.

So we set off, me on Dave's heels. The first hill really elevated my HR quickly and I was quickly in zone 3. I had had a discussion with David Tune over which zone to attempt the PB at and he said zone 3 which meant my HR needed to be between 169 - 186 bpm for the entire run. I have never tried to stay in my tempo zone for this amount of time and knew I would struggle to maintain this amount of effort.

I had made a decision to not chase the PB and had deleted all data field from my watches view except HR and HR zone so that I couldn't get either too excited or depressed with my time or speed.

The first lap flew by and after we passed the starter she read out our time which was 7:57. Wow we were only just off the pace and I felt fine. On the second lap I pushed too hard up the hill and suffered for the rest of this lap with a higher HR (178 instead of 171). Wow those 7bpm made a real difference to the sustainability of my effort.

I shortened my stride on the third ascent of the hill and my HR didn't spike too much. I was really struggling to maintain my effort and nearly gave up but then I though MTFU there is only 1 mile to go. You've done the hard work, now finish this.

I didn't enjoy that hill. I was really struggling on ascent 3.
After my moment of MTFU, I felt fine for the rest of the third lap (apart from being exhausted) and after we turned the final corner I decided to kick on as I knew I wold be on for a PB. So kick on I did. I pushed up the final ascent of the hill and everyone who had already finished was cheering me on.

It is so encouraging being told to push on and that you can do it. With the encouragement I really kicked on and sprinted for the finish line. My HR rocketed up to 190 BPM during my sprint for the line which is the highest I have seen it when running.

No one can deny that I worked for this PB.
I think this would win at the World Gurning Championships
But both feet are off the floor and blades hands make an appearance.
My time for the run was 26 minutes but the distance was 3.14miles which is 5.05km. So what was my 5km time?

Well according to Endomondo it was 25:44 which is a 64 seconds improvement over my previous PB of 26:48.

WOW! A new PB and with poor preparation. I wonder what I could achieve with proper preparation?

Well I was aiming for a zone 3 run, I think I succeeded.
Now all I need to do is find 45 seconds improvement and I will be a "serious runner".

Thanks to David (the coach), Dave (the pacer) and the rest of the team at Blizard Physio who have helped me improve as a runner. I'll definitely be back at the Breakfast Run aiming for more PB's but after I have put in some more training.  Also thanks for the photos.

Thanks for reading,

Michael (AKA the Blogger by those at Blizard)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Ironman Austria training week 1 - T-30 weeks

Where to begin?

Week one has officially arrived. That means it less than 210 days until my date with the water and roads surrounding Klagenfurt.

Week one called for the following training according to "Be Iron Fit by Don Fink" or as I will be referring to it for the next 30 weeks "The Bible".

The Bible
  • Monday - Rest
  • Tuesday - Swim set #1 and a 30 min Z2 run
  • Wednesday - 30min Z2 bike and 15 min Z2 run
  • Thursday - Swim set #2 and a 30 min Z1 bike
  • Friday - 30 min Z2 run
  • Saturday - 1 hour Z2 bike
  • Sunday - 45min Z2 run

Not too bad for the first week, in fact easily manageable apart from a few issues.

Those being working on Saturday and my injured shoulder.

I have amended my training plan to include the Blizard Physio track session on a Tuesday night and the GI Tri swim on a Thursday.

This week I managed to complete the following training

  • Monday - Rest. Phew that was hard work.
  • Tuesday - Track session with Blizard Physio consisting of 1 x 1600m with a 2 min rest followed by 11 x 400 with a 45 second rest between each rep. This was preceded by a 1.2 mile warm up run and followed by a 2 mile cool down run at Z1
  • Wednesday - 30 min bike ride followed by a 15 min Z2 run. Wow were my legs tired on the run after the track session.
  • Thursday - Due to being unable to swim I had an extra rest day.
  • Friday - I had to drop my Dad back off at his hime after work as he has been staying with us recuperating from his broken arm.
  • Saturday - I worked all day so didn't manage to train.
  • Sunday - I managed a 9 mile run with 90% of my running time being in the right zone (156 - 168bpm)

Given the injury to my shoulder I am pleased with the first weeks training. I am over the moon with the fact that I completed a 9 mile run which is the my 6th longest run EVER and it is only week one of 30.

It took me until week 5 of my Outlaw training before I managed to amass this sort of mileage. This is week one. The last time I managed a 9 mile run it took me 1:46. Today it took me 1:36 which is a 10 minute improvement and I wasn't even trying for time. I was running to my prescribed HR zones.

I really am starting to enjoy running. It was also nice that my wife came along on her bike to keep me company.

In other news. I hope to be back swimming this week as my shoulder is starting to feel better.

Oh yeah and I am now a qualified triathlon coach. Me the former sedentary smoker, now a bonafide triathlon coach.

I have already put this qualification to use by coaching some GI Tri swimming sessions and I really enjoy passing on my swimming knowledge. The feedback I have received from my athletes has been positive as well.

Thanks triathlon you really have turned my life around.

That's all from me for now.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Running to HR

After my lactate test at Blizard Physio (, I was given a training plan which was loosely based aorund the Don Fink 30 week plan. I was to follow this plan for the next 6 weeks.

Given my 30 week plan is due to commence on Monday 2nd December I have taken a bit of a rest since my lactate test.

I have still been completing the track sessions on a Tuesday as these will be most beneficial to my "need for speed" and I have been completing the swim sessions with GI Tri (when I could, but that another story involving an aggravated rotator cuff in my right shoulder) but other than that I have been doing very little. But I will be starting in earnest for the first 6 weeks of Don Fink's plan.

Thus imagine my surprise when I ran Parkrun on the 23rd Novemebr and set a new PB by over a minute. I ran to the HR zones as prescribed in my lactate test and completed the 3 miles (not 5km as it should be) in 27:28 which I was thrilled with as I genuinely didn't feel like I had worked that hard for the duration of the race. Below is a screen grab of the time spent in each HR zone.

Today as I had a bit more time than I thought I would have. I decided to go on a little leg stretching run and see how I coped on a longer run when running to HR.

In total I managed to complete 6.6 miles in 1:08 but more importantly I managed to complete 10km in 1:04:34  without struggling at all.  This is my third quickest 10km EVER! and I found it really easy. In previous runs I have been chasing speed and exhausting myself.

Today I had to restrain myself to stay in Zone 2 (156 - 168 BPM) for most of the run but this is one of the challenges when training to HR. I can't wait for the time when Dave of Blizard Physio allows me to open my body up to a threshold (zone 3) run and see what I can do over 5 and 10km.

But building my base is key at the moment as I have been training all over the place with regards to HR. I will remain patient and trust in Dave's vast knowledge.

Below is a screen grab from todays run and as you can see I nailed staying in zone 2.

If you are struggling with running I can not recommend a lactate threshold test enough and thats only off the back of two runs. One PB and one longer run which I found easy.

And I never thought I would ever say that I found running easy.

Thanks Dave and Blizard Physio. You may make a runner out of me yet.

Cheers for reading,


Monday, 18 November 2013

Lactate threshold test

Earlier in the year I blogged about how confused I was about HR zones. This can be read here. 

Since I wrote that blog. I've had a nagging in the back of my head about my HR zones when running.

However given the impending target that were Outlaw I put this to the back of my mind and was determined to finish. Which I did.

Now we are in the off season the nagging in my head started again.

As we know I have recently started running with Blizard Physiotherapy on a Tuesday night at Doncaster track. One of the services that Blizard offer is lactate threshold testing. Lactate threshold testing allows you to know your personalised heart rate zones using science. How could this not appeal to my analytical brain?

Another reason I was keen to undertake a lactate threshold test was that the Ironman training plan (Be Iron Fit by Don Fink) I am shortly to be commencing involves training in certain HR zones to get the most benefit from your training.

So I contacted Blizard about attending their clinic to complete a lactate threshold test.

My date with destiny was scheduled for today (18th November) at 10am and with a slight sense of trepidation I drove over to the clinic.

My fears were put to bed within 30 seconds of sitting down with Dave Tune. Dave used to be an international runner and his consummate professionalism had an incredibly calming effect on me.

I know Dave since he leads and coaches the run sessions I attend on a Tuesday at Doncatser track.

He explained how the test would be undertaken. Fisrtly we would go through my questionnaire so that Dave could get to understand me more, then we would perform the test which would involve me running on a treadmill for periods of 3 minutes before I would give a tiny sample of blood which he would then analyse to work out the lactate content of my blood. The treadmill speed would then be increased for another three minute period and this process would be repeated until all the required data had been obtained or I couldn't continue.

At each minute interval my HR was taken down and I was asked for my RPE (rate of percieved effort) from a scale of 6-20.

The infamous RPE scale
Dave would then prepare a report detailing the findings and go through these with me and give me a training plan to adhere to.

So with this explained we started with stage 1. In summation stage 1 basically involved me going through my diet, training plan and a little bit more about me. Dave was alarmed at how little (read none) plain water I drink on a daily basis. Dave thinks this lack of water cold be why my weight loss has stalled of late. Well that and the fact I was probably training at the wrong HR zones.

Also as part of stage one we did a body composition test where my height and weight were taken, my flexibility was tested and my body fat was analysed.

I knew my height (5' 11.5") and thought I knew my weight (15st 5.5lbs that morning), cue first surprise when I tipped the scales at 15st 0lbs. Ooh I do love a good surprise.  I knew I had poor flexibility but did not quite realise how bad it was. For this test we did a sit and reach test. This test involved you sitting down with your feet against a box and you had to reach and push forward a marker which was sat on a table witha ruler above the box your feet are sat against. See the picture below.

I managed to push the marker forward a paltry 3.5cm. Wow that is awful. Dave said if there was a leaderboard on poor flexibility I would be like Jimmy Carr on the Top Gear Star in a Reasonably Priced Car leaderboard (very near the top)

I then had my body fat estimated. Dave used callipers to take four fat measurements (bicep, tricep, back and tummy) and averaged these out to work out my body fat percentage. The result was 30.2%. For the first time in god knows how long I am not in the obese category. Ooh I do like these surprises. This getting fitter lark is amazing.

That was the easy part over with. Now for stage 2.

Dave started the treadmill at 7.4km/h and let me warm up for about 5 minutes. He then upped the pace to 8.4km/h and the test commenced.

After 3 minutes he took my blood and told me my lactate was barely elevated.

He then upped the treadmill to 11 minute mile pace (my Outlaw training pace) (8.7km/h) and after three minutes took some more blood. My lactate was 2.9 mmol.

He then upped the speed to 10km/h (9:32 min mile) and took some more blood after a 3 minute period had elapsed. My lactate content was 4.2mmol.

He then upped the speed to 8:40 min mile pace (11.2km/h) and took anther reading after 3 minutes. Lactate content was 4.7mmol.

Running during the test
He then upped the speed to 7:45 min mile pace (which equates to a sub 24 min 5k) 12.5km/h and took a lactate reading after another 3 minutes which came out at 8.4mmol.

Finally he upped the speed to 12.9 km/h (a pace of 7:30 min/mile) and after three minutes took my final blood sample. I am not going to lie, I was dying by this point. My lactate content of 10mmol agreed with my general feeling.

Struggling on the last bit of the test.
The test then concluded. After I had been for a shower, Dave then explained the results to me.

Dave was shocked at how fit I was as he didn't think the test would go as well as it did.

Now for the one bit of bad news. It appears my body is more suited to running shorter distance races at higher intensity than longer ones at lower instensity. So more sprint / olympic than iron.

It also transpires that I have been training too slowly (I may as well have been "walking to the shop to pick up a copy of the Sun) and I haven't been running enough distance every week.

Jenny Blizard also explained why I have been struggling so much at track. I have been doing most of my training below my recovery run speed and then going to track where I have been attempting to train above my lactate threshold. Ah so that explains why I have been half dead after every track session.

With this Dave explained that I need to not do tempo runs for the near future but to instead build my base endurance by completing threshold runs but for thise threshold runs to be completed at a higher intensity.


The important bit is my HR zone results and these are as follows.

As you can see there are some vast differences between the estimates from Don Fink and my actual zones. I knew something wasn't right with my HR all those months ago when I wrote my blog post.

I will be using these zones to tailor my training over the coming months which according to Dave will result in greater weight loss as another benefit.

If you can afford one I would really recommend a lactate threshold test as although the formulae from Don Fink may work for some people, I am proof that it doesn't work for everyone.

Dave then explained that my sub 24 minute 5km target is very achievable within the next 8 weeks and gave me a sample training plan for the next 6 weeks.

I found this test from Blizard Physio to be invaluable and am really looking forward to using these zones in the future.

Dave summed up the past 18 months as training my body to be fit instead of sedentary and said that this  lactate test was a line in the sand and now it is time to train to be a runner.

Dave then gave me some stretched to improve my flexibility which will also help with increased running speed. Now I need to use my Garmin to set these zones and I won't be training outside these. Cue a lot of "BEEDLEBEE" noises from my Garmin again.

I now have a renewed vigour and enthusiasm for running. Thanks to Dave and all the team at Blizard Physio.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, 1 November 2013

1 year anniverssary

Wow it's been a year already.

One year of being nicotine free, one year of feeling more healthy and alive than I had for the previous 15/16 years with nicotine clogging up my lungs and poisoning my body because nicotine is a poison after all.

365 days of being free of the evil nicotine monster. Thanks to Allen Carr for the terminology. I have to thank his rewiring of my brain via his book supplemented by Champix for the success I have acheieved and will continue to achieve.

Do I feel better?

You bet I do!

Until you have given up smoking, you have no idea how much better you can feel. It is remarkable how much your outlook on life improves now you don't have to worry about feeding that little monster or scratching that little itch.

Yes I know I had my problems last year but I am thankful for them rather than suffering regret because of them.

If you want to read about my fall from grace, please follow the link.

I've recently bought the Macklemore album "The Heist" and one song in particular struck a chord with me and reminded me of myself and smoking. To hear the song please follow the link.

In the song Macklemore talks about his fall from grace with drugs and says the following which is what struck a chord with me.

"The irony, everyone will think that he lied to me
Made my sobriety so public, there’s no f*ckin’ privacy"

I have openly blogged about my journey from a smoker but for several weeks hid the fact I was smoking again from everyone including my family.

"When they put me in some box as a saint
That I never was, it’s the false prophet that never came
And will they think that everything that I written has all been fake"

I thought that if and when I came clean I would lose all integrity and a lot of followers because I had let everyone but mostly myself down.

"But I’d rather live telling the truth than be judged for my mistakes
Than falsely held up, given props, loved and praised"

Enough was enough I had to come clean in real life and on here.

"I thought you’d go
But you were with me all along"

The unwavering suport I have received from my family, friends (both real life and off Twitter) and commments on my blog has been a real help in my journey to a 1 year non smoker so thank you.

"I’m just a flawed man, man I f*cked up"

I made a mistake and mistakes happen.

"If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over"

These two lines sum everything about my journey from a smoker to a triathlete, I had been called inspirational but I made a mistake but since the mistake I have come back stronger and have now completed 1 year nicotine free.

This song really struck a chord with me.

The last year has a success for me with regards to all things triathlon.

I've set myself some tough goals but have managed to achieve every one. I have completed at least one triathlon at each distance from Supersprint to Iron distance. I am within touching distance of completing 2013 miles in 2013 but most importantly I am a year long non smoker.

If you haven't seen I have also been included in Triathlon Plus this month (November 2013). This was all a bit hush hush but I couldn't tell anyone until it had been confirmed. The photographer Sean Allard took some amazing photos of me for the article. I normally hate photos of myself but was really impressed with the photos Sean captured.

Me in the lake at Cusworth

Me and my bike

Looking fast

Running with "blade hands"

Just me
The article reads exceptionally well and if I wasn't afraid of copyright law, would post it here. But unfortunately if you want to read it you will have to go and buy a copy like everyone else.

That's all form me for now.

Thanks for reading,

A proud 1 year ex smoker.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Running - Aiming for improvement

As we all know and as I have blogged about previously. Running is the element of triathlon I struggle with most. Well that and transition.

I am normally in the top 10-20% after the swim based on split times. Not that I am a data geek and analyse everything.

And now that I have fixed my bike position I am averaging speeds of over 21 mph which is now putting me in the top half of the bike splits.

But as soon as I get off the bike and onto the run, my race falls apart. Yes I have always made it to the finish line but I feel slower than a slow thing one slow day as people overtake me.

I realise I am not a runner. Well I am a runner as I run but I am not a quick runner.

It has been said that there are two types of people in triathlon.

  1. People who are swim bikers (aka me)
  2. People who are bike runners
My PB's to date have improved massively so it proves that hard work is paying off.

A year ago I had only just run my first constant 5km and the time was 35 something. Now my 5km PB stands at 26:48 but I want to be quicker. In an ideal World I would like to shave 4 minutes off this. Now I know this is a huge task but I would love to go sub 23.

To do that would mean running at just over 13 km/h or just over 8mph and teaching my body how to run 7 minute miles consistently for 3.11 miles.

At Brigg Spring I was consistently running 8:45 miles which was comfortable but not over stretching myself. I think I found this so comfortable as I really nailed my nutrition at Brigg. If you asked me what I had I couldn't tell you but I just felt strong running and this hasn't happened before.

In an effort to improve my running I have started going to the track sessions run by Blizard Physio at the home of Doncaster Athletics Club.

In a word they HURT. A LOT!

The coach is an ex international runner and is really encouraging despite the fact that I am easily the slowest runner there.

In the first week we did some warm up laps of the track and some strides before the main set.

The main set was meant to be 12 lots of 400m at whatever pace you could maintain with 1 minute rest between each interval. I went off to hard and really struggled. I think my first 400 was 1:30 which is the same as a 6 minute mile. My next 400 was 1:41 which is the same as a 6:40 mile.

OMG by this point I was blowing out of my arse. Jesus I was in pain, the coach saw that I was struggling and told me to drop to 200's instead of the 400's.

He told me to run 200m then wait for the group to finish and start their next rep and then get on the end of that group. this meant I got a long rest after each alternating rep. My 200's were still hard work but were all in the region of 0:45 which again equates to 6 minutes miles.

The warm down was 3 laps of the track at a very relaxed pace.

When I got up the next morning my calves were in agony. After two days I could walk normally again.

Week 2 had me filled with dread especially when I saw the set announced on Facebook.

The set was 4 lots of 5 lots of 200 with a 30 second rest between each rep and after every full set a jog around the track.

All reps were to be run as consistently. I was literally bricking it.

The warm up was 3 relaxed laps of the track and 4 lots of strides.

This was it, time to go. I set off and deliberately was at the back of my group. My first 5 reps were 45 seconds but I was in no fit state to do the jogged lap of the track. I had gone off to hard. 6 minute miles aren't for me. YET!

I spoke to the coach and he said I had done the hard part by coming back for the second week as it is amazing how many people don't. There was no way I wasn't coming back. I enjoyed last week even though it broke me physically. There it is my determination to succeed again at the fore. 

He also said I should try and complete the next rep of 5 at 50 seconds as I was struggling again but then backed this up with the fact that he would have me running 6 minute miles within 3 months.

I managed to run the next 5 reps at 50 seconds and had completed half the workout. Again I was struggling at the end of the 5th rep and didn't complete the jogged lap.

I didn't fare so well in the 3rd set or reps and missed two. And I missed the last rep of the fourth set but my times were all nearly 50 seconds. I had completed 17 of the prescribed 20 reps which was a huge improvement on last week.

I was over the moon and the coach even said how much I had improved in a week.

We then went for a warm down jog of 2.5km. A 2.5km warm down, that was longer than some of my runs last year. This isn't going to be easy. But if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

I was in bits after we had finished. My calves and quads were screaming with every step. This was a new feeling. I decided to attempt to counteract this by having an ice bath when I got home. After the initial shock, the water made my muscles feel normal and there was no pain. Result. I then slept in my compression tights and could nearly walk normally the next morning. By Thursday I was back to normal. It appears ice baths and compression are the answer after track nights. Even if they make me scream like a girl when I first get in the water.

At this point I would like to personally thank Dave Tune and Jenny Blizard for the encouragement they have given me to date. Without there constant encouragement I don't think I would fare so well at track. To be told at the end of each rep how well you are doing gives you such a lift. This is exactly what I need as to be beasted would have the opposite effect on me. I would lose heart and withdraw into myself but having Dave and Jenny offering there wealth of knowledge, experience and encouragement has helped no end. So thank you.

That it from me for now.

Bring on the pain next week.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Best triathlon ever

 On Sunday 29th September I lined up on the start line for the Brigg Sprint Triathlon.

The course was flat and suited my inability to climb on the bike.

I was slightly apprehensive before the event. Because of my estimated swim time of 06:20 I was placed later on in the field with the really quick triathletes. Great, as soon as the swim was over I would be left for dead. I was due to start at 10:02 and the final wave was scheduled for 10:04. I knew in my heart that I would be the last finisher after being overtaken on the bike or run by the potential 9 other athletes who would leave the pool after me.

On race day I arrived at the Ancholme Sports Centre at 07:25 to register for the event with my Dad who had come along to spectate. The goodie bag was immense for the £42 entry fee. You got a Tshirt, bike bottle, flapjack, Haribo and bananas.
Confused before the start
After registration I made my way down to transition which was on an all weather pitch to rack my bike. In transition I bumped into my coach from GI Tri. He was one of the aforementioned quick triathletes who would be starting the race before me. Since raising my saddle by 40mm I have found that racking my bike is more difficult because of the low A-frames and this again proved to be the case at Brigg. After racking my bike and laying out my towel and bike shoes I went to chill out in the car as I wasn’t racing for another 2 hours. I read 220 Triathlon to kill the time.
Transition all set up
Before my wave was scheduled to be poolside I re-entered transition to drop off my trainers (I had forgotten to bring a second pair). Everything was still as it should be in transition. I had decided to complete this event sockless. Given the trouble I have had with blisters this was a real gamble. Not one that would result in a DNF but one that could result in pain. It was only when I removed my trainers that I noticed the all weather pitch was covered in sand. This had me stressing out because as we all know I have sensitive feet and the sand may exacerbate any potential blisters. I would just have to be careful.


After taking off my joggers and hoodie I made my way poolside. We were then given our timing chips and it really hit me hard at this point how out of my depth I was. Here I was surrounded by all these lithe athletes weighing a maximum of 12 stones in their GB trisuits and I felt like a fraud. Yes I can swim and bike a bit but this was ridiculous. The aim was now not to embarrass myself. We entered the pool where there were already people swimming and waited for the 3, 2, 1 GO!

We were off and I was doing my best not to embarrass myself. In the wave before me was Dean Kirkham (@triathlondeano) who finished 9th at Outlaw and he was a good target for me to aim for. He was at the end of his fifth length when we started swimming, which meant he was at the other end of the pool. My target was to get as close to him as I could before he finished. I had 11 lengths to try and reel him in and claw back the length deficit. I ignored the other swimmers in my wave and concentrated on Dean. I am glad I chose to do this as the other swimmers in my wave were rapid. By the end of the 10th length I reckon I had pulled back the 25m lead to around 4m which when you consider the calibre of athlete that Dean is, is a massive achievement. Dean left the pool then and I was back to concentrating on the other swimmers in my wave. They were all significantly ahead of me. Ignore the demons. I will freely admit to being a little disheartened at being last out of the pool. This was the first time this has happened. In my last pool triathlon I exited the pool first and had lapped the swimmer behind me. I had also been fifth out the water at Leeds Triathlon and first out the water at my last aquathlon so this was a shock to the system. I left the pool after 6:25 which is a respectable time and I posted the 28th quickest swim time of the day out of a possible 231 athletes. My official swim time was 7:36 but this includes the walk / run into transition.


In T1 I briefly saw someone from my wave as they were leaving transition so I wasn’t that far behind. I dried my feet as best as I could to remove as much sand as possible before putting on my bike shoes. I then put on my number belt, sunglasses and helmet before removing my bike exiting T1 1:11 after entering it. Lauren York the GB age grouper overtook me as I was leaving T1.


I have ridden the course before on a reconnaissance before the Lincsquad TT so knew what to expect. I knew the time we did the ride in as a group so my main aim was to beat it. As a group myself and two colleagues had ridden the course in 38:10 so this was my aim. I had also ridden the TT route in 27:17. I knew the course was mostly flat with the occasional incline and that I could work hard as there were no real climbs. With this in mind I set off pedalling. The plan was to keep my HR around 160. I think I managed this but as my watch was on my wrist I have no idea if this was the case. According to the data this looks to be the case.

After about 4km the last of the three competitors who started behind me had passed me. I tried to put the hammer down but there was no way I was catching these people. I saw my coach on the return leg on his bike and he was chasing down Dean. About ninety seconds before I reached the turn point I noticed another rider who I had not seen before and painted a target on her back. I like to have something to try and chase down as it brings out my competitive side. Just after this I noticed Lauren York again so she had put about a minute into me on the outward leg. At the turn point I joked to the marshals that they could go home for Sunday roast as I was last.

Making progress in last

As I turned the roundabout the wind hit me, I had been expecting it as I had felt a sidewind on the way out but still the force of it surprised me. This was going to be a long trip back. My first 10km was completed in 18:38. I was pleased with this. I now had a five mile slog until the next turn point. Time to crack on. As we turned into Brigg the sidewind became a headwind and this hurt. I didn’t lose faith but did lose about 6mph. Just before the second turn point I saw the rider who I had targeted before. I hadn’t managed to catch her but I had pulled back the 3 minute lead to less than one. I turned the final roundabout and made my way back to the Sports Centre. I took my feet out of the bike shoes before the dismount line and ran with my bike into transition completing the bike leg in 37:30 and finishing 102nd out of 231 athletes. Top 50%. I really am making progress.


I racked my bike with a little help from the official as the racks were bedlam, removed my helmet, wiped the sand off my feet and slipped on my Skechers Go Run 2 trainers complete with Xtenex laces and was frantically looking for something. What a disaster my stuff was strewn everywhere in T2. I could not find my Huub visor anywhere. I like to race in a visor as it helps block out my surroundings. After about 20 seconds I found my visor picked up my free plastic Iconiq container of water for the run as I hadn’t hydrated very well on the bike leg and set off.


I much prefer running off the bike to running normally and find I can maintain a more consistent pace off the bike. After about 100m I tripped up did a ninja roll and managed to squash the container of water and splash it all over myself. There were a few gasps from spectators until they realised I was fine as I was back running. I imagine it looked like one fluid movement but it was more likely that I resembled Dumbo on ice.

The run route took you round the sports centre and up a short but steep hill before you joined the pavements and then consisted of an out and back for 1.5 miles each way . I knew I was last and I was fine with this. I just needed to do my best on the run. After about half a mile I saw my coach from GI Tri who was again just behind Dean and he mumbled something at me. I am sure it was encouragement but it was unintelligible as he was in another place. I passed through Brigg and was really enjoying the crowds and marshals who were very encouraging. I glanced down at my watch after it beeped marking one mile and was pleased with the pace. The time said 08:45 for the first mile. I normally overcook the first mile but this pace was pleasing. I am sure this was because I had no one to race. With about 400m to go until the turn I saw two competitors and noted that one was limping. The other was the competitor from earlier on in the bike who I had targeted. I tried to cheer up the limper but he looked in a lot of pain. I reached the turn point and told the marshals to go home as their job was done. By this point I was joined by a bike marshal who was riding with the last placed person. After a bit of banter he commented on how relaxed I looked on the run. I was feeling anything but relaxed. I was maintaining a pace quicker than usual after thrashing myself on the swim and bike and was starting to struggle because of poor hydration but my run was its usual “pretty” self.

How my run can be described as looking relaxed or pretty baffles me. It really does.

I powered through my second mile in 08:46. How is that for consistency? After a distance of 2.22 miles I caught up with the limping competitor. The lad was about 20 and looked to be in severe pain. I stopped to talk to him. He said he didn’t think he could finish. Now I know I have a bit of a history when it comes to helping competitors having helped people at London in 2012 and Outlaw in 2013 but how could I not attempt to help someone else.

I started a conversation and he said his pain was at about 80% and he couldn’t bend his knee properly. I said I would run with him if he wanted. I really dropped the pace and together we slowly made progress to the finishing line. I knew that with each passing step we were closer to the finish. I tried to keep the banter level high so he would ignore the pain.

As we made our way through the town centre I made sure I thanked each and every marshal. My limping friend stuck on my shoulder and we made our way back to the sports centre. I asked him if he had a sprint finish in him and he said he thought so. About 15m away from the line he sprinted away and dropped me when I wasn’t paying attention. I was a little annoyed with this as I had sacrificed my own PB aims to help him back and he dropped me on the line as he “didn’t want to finish last”. I could have been like everyone else and run past him and I do doubt whether he would have finished as he was not in a good place when I caught him but I haven’t been raised to do things like that.
Crossing the line
My final run time was 30:25, which I believe was 3:30 longer than it needed to be as I was consistently running at 08:45 pace. In total my finish time was 1:17:54 and this put my 125th but if I hadn’t sacrificed my time it would have been 1:14:24 and I would have finished 102nd.
Times from the day
Data analysis

After I finished I hung around for the awards ceremony, as I wanted to see how my coach and Dean had done. My coach finished 2nd overall and Dean finished 3rd.

Unbeknown to me there was an award for Spirit of the Race. My selfless act had been unanimously voted to win Spirit of the Race. The race director said some very kind words about this act and recommended that everyone read my blog. I was absolutely amazed by this and struggled to hold myself together. I went to collect my trophy and afterwards rang my wife and the tears, which I had just managed to hold in finally escaped. I was overwhelmed.
Receiving may trophy
My Dad even said he shed a tear when my name was announced. Now for anyone that knows my Dad they will know how much this meant to me as I have never ever known my Dad cry in the 32 years of my life. This touched me more than anything else.

After I got my trophy I felt bad for being annoyed about the lad sprinting away from me. I’ll blame it on the exuberance of youth but still think it lacked some etiquette.
My spirit of the race award
The Brigg Sprint Triathlon is without doubt the best triathlon I have ever competed in. Everything from the route to the marshals was superb. The goodie bag was useful and the best bit is the photos were free and on the Internet that night.

I would recommend this triathlon to everyone. My Dad is even aiming to do it next year.

Will I be back? Definitely. I can’t wait.

The morale of this tale is that helping others can be nice and be unexpectedly rewarded. It’s kind of like the film Pay it Forward. I just hope my action is remembered by the receiver and he “pays it forward” one day.

Thanks for reading,