Sunday, 21 February 2016

Not so marginal gains

Triathlon is a sport made up of 3 disciplines. So what should you concentrate your training on?

Ideally you'll be like Messrs Brownlee, Frodeno or Gomez and be awesome at all three. But for us mere mortals what should you concentrate on?

In my opinion you should concentrate most on the discipline you are weakest at. 

So if you're a swimmer concentrate on bike and run. 

If you're a run biker concentrate on swimming.

You can see where this is going.....

Ultimately it's all about concentrating on the discipline where you can make the most time gains. 

I see little point in me chasing the swim and spending 5 hours a week chasing an improvement that would at best get me 45s off my 400m time when the swim is such a small percentage duration in a triathlon and I have bigger gains to make across bike and run. 

If we look at an average triathlon duration for a sprint. The swim for me makes up about 10-15% of overall duration, the bike between 45-50% and the run the remaining 35-40% so it makes no sense chasing an improvement on the swim given the small percentage of duration it takes up. 

If we look back on my triathlon "career".

In 2013 I was okay at swimming but not great on the bike or run so concentrated on bike and run. 

In 2014 my bike was getting better so I spent a lot of time working on my run but still working on my bike. 

In 2015 I needed to make gains on bike and run so concentrated on those again. Finding my race distance helped me refocus my goals. 

And in 2016 I believe my biggest gain can be made on the bike. So guess what I'm spending a lot of my time on the bike. I still need to improve my run but I believe there will be a crossover improvement from the bike and also that the percentage improvement for me is greater on the bike.  

Is it fun concentrating on your weakest discipline. No it's bloody hard work but it's necessary hard work. 

Would I rather go for a swim than go for a run. You bet your ass I would but I know I am chasing the "not so marginal" gains by doing the hard work that is required.  

By all means still spend some time each week training across all 3 disciplines including the often forgotten "strength and conditioning" but make sure the split is right for you, your goals and your work:life balance. After all triathlon is three sports so you have three things to master.

In summary concentrate on doing the hard work on your weakest discipline instead of doing the fun work on the thing you find easiest as this is where you can make the biggest improvements. 

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, 18 February 2016

My 2016 season

Things are shaping up well regarding populating my 2016 race calendar.

I've made no secret of my desire to represent GB as an age grouper even writing about it back in September 2013 in this post I have a dream

The main goal for this season is qualifying at sprint distance to either go to the World Champs in Mexico this September or to the Euros in 2017.

To that end I am entering several (well most) of the qualification races. I am also racing some of the early season races to enable me to get some race practice in. After all there really is no substitute to racing.

My 2016 is broken down as follows.


20th - Gainsborough 10k. I'm undecided is I'm racing this to chase a new PB or pacing a friend to her sub 50. It all depend on how my running goes in the next few weeks.

27th - East Leake Triathlon. I fancied racing this early season tri to see how I am feeling after the winter.


24th - City of York Triathlon. After watching a lot of the athletes I coach race this last year, I decided to give it a bash.


8th - Pendle Triathlon. My Dad has invited me to compete in his club's triathlon. As it's a 750m pool swim it seems rude not to have a blast.

22nd - Eton Dorney - My first qualifier for Mexico. I thought it a good idea to race as many draft legal races as I could to try and qualify.

28th - Nottingham Triathlon - My first qualifier for ETU in 2017. Hoping I can peak in this race to secure qualification for next year's race in Kitzbuhel.


5th - Strathclyde Triathlon. I am hoping I can carry my peak for another week and race well on the same course used for the Commonwealth Games. If memory serves it was quite hilly. The second Mexico qualification race. GULP.

19th - Llandudno Sea Sprint -  I am hoping to not need to attend this race but if I do then it is my final chance to qualify for Mexico


3rd - Peak District Triathlon. My last chance to qualify for Kitzbuhel.

10th -  Lincolnshire Edge Triathlon. A local race that is flat and another chance to race in open water.

17th - Jenson Button Trust Triathlon. I had a blast racing here last year so decided to give it another go. The race format is unique and I really enjoyed it. This year I'll be sure to use my road bike.

20th - Doncaster 5k. This will be my third race in a row in Doncaster. I've set PB's the last two years.


7th - Bassetlaw Triathlon. Another local race. Remember it's good to support your local events.

20th - Relays. How can I not race Relays. It's the best race in the calendar. SO MUCH FUN.

21st - Relays take 2. Me and some other members from DTC are entering the mixed relays. I can't wait.


25th - Brigg Sprint. I love this local race and can't wait to race again.


2nd - Drax Goole Tri - Another local race I really enjoy.

9th - Epworth Triathlon. Finishing off the season as late as I can.

Yes it's a lot of races but I am quite good at recovering from sprints within a week.

Hope to see some of you at these races.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, 14 February 2016

My first trip to hell aka Sufferlandria

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from Wattbike asking for people to be members of #TeamWattbike for the upcoming Tour of Sufferlandria. I decided to apply to be a member. Thankfully I was accepted.

Now for a little information for those not aware of Sufferfest.

The Tour of Sufferlandria is the "Greatest Grand Tour of a Mythical Nation", which is run by Sufferfest to raise money for the Davis Phinney Foundation (if you feel like donating to this you can do at this link). Here is the Official Tour announcement. for this years tour.

Sufferlandria is the mythical nation which is featured in the Sufferfest videos.

I have contemplated training with Sufferfest videos for some time as the concept intrigued me. You can download from a selection of 25 cycling training videos by visiting, they also do running and triathlon videos but I haven't used these as I don't have access to a treadmill. Recently they have released an app which means you can have access to all video for a small monthly fee. With the current exchange rate it works out at £6.91 a month which is a bargain in my eyes.

Before being accepted onto #TeamWattbike I had completed exactly zero videos as they were never in my plan but after being accepted I thought it prudent to try one out. I picked Blender as this was one of the three videos I bought over the Christmas period.

I decided* to complete Blender with a hangover to increase the suffering.
*decided is a stretch, I overindulged on a night out and this was a stupid idea but you have to live life

After completing Blender I believe I got lulled into a false sense of security. I enjoyed the video and found it no harder than my current training. I genuinely couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

I then got ill so didn't get to practice any other videos.

I finally recovered from my cold with two days to go before the start of the tour. Hardly the ideal prep but it is what it is.

I analysed the tour and thought I knew what I would find hard.

My initial thoughts were that I would find stage 2 really hard and stage 9 would be my favourite stage. None of the other stages particularly worried me after completing Blender.

The tour started on the 6th February and there were highs and lows for me. This blog is a day by day breakdown of my first trip to hell (aka Sufferlandria).

Stage 1 - It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time (ISLAGIATT)

Unfortunately this was one of the lows of my Tour. I tried using the app on my 5 year old iPad but unfortunately it crashed. I then did not have enough time to replay the video due to plans with friends. I was confined to the Grupetto (the name given to the group of cyclists in a road cycling race who form a large group behind the leading peloton) overnight but knew if I didn't get too drunk with friends I would be fine after Stage 2

Stats - Distance 18.8 mi, time - 50 mins, speed - 22.6mph, power - 198W

Stage 2 - The end of ISLAGIATT and Double Revolver

It turns out I did overindulge on my night out and with the extra 70 minutes of ISLAGIATT, my date with Double Revolver filled me with more dread. 32 times 60 second all out efforts did not appeal. After about 20 I wanted to throw something at my telly but I got the job done and rejoined the main group. My legs were ruined when I removed myself from my Wattbike.

Stats - Distance 58.9 mi, time - 163 mins, speed - 21.6mph, power - 194W

Stage 3 - The Best Thing In The World

This was the absolute low point for me. I could not comprehend how hard this 48 minute session was. I mean seriously, its 48 minutes. My pre tour date with Blender had lulled me into a false sense of security. This video made me realise what true suffering is about. I hated all 2800 painful seconds of the atrocious video. I am sure this was in part due to having heavy legs from yesterdays near three hour session. This painful 48 minutes taught me to respect the videos. I even tried spinning my legs out for another 8 minutes to try and heal them.

Stats - Distance 20.4 mi, time - 54 mins, speed - 22.4mph, power - 209W

Stage 4 - To Get To The Other Side

Not my best moment. I got onto the Wattbike hungry after a tough day at work for this "recovery" ride and had to peel myself off it after a massive bonk. Combined with my Garmin dying after 72 mins meant I did not enjoy this "recovery" ride at all.

Stats - Distance 24.8 mi, time - 72 mins (Garmin died), speed - 20.5mph, power - 168W

Stage 5 - The Wretched

Given I had had two bad days in the tour I was dreading this stage all day at work. I was so relieved when I enjoyed it. It wasn't enjoyable but I felt strong, I'm guessing that was thanks to the "recovery" ride yesterday. It was such a relief to enjoy a session after 3 tough days. One of the few high points of the tour.

Stats - Distance 19.9 mi, time - 49 mins, speed - 24.2mph, power - 237W

Stage 6 - The Rookie

A chance to try out for Team Giant Shimano. 55 minutes including 3 10 minute race efforts. Time to get some hard work done. It was a tough session but by no means the toughest. I remember burying myself on the last sprint and my vision blurring but I felt strong. I am definitely getting used to this suffering.

Stats - Distance 20.9 mi, time - 54 mins, speed - 22.9mph, power - 215W

Stage 7 - Do As You're Told

Wow. What a toughie. It doesn't sound too hard but boy was it. You do 22 intervals all above 7.5/10 effort of different lengths with different rest intervals. At a mere 44 minutes, it was the shortest  stage of this years tour but boy does it pack in the suffering.

Stats - Distance 16.3 mi, time - 44 mins, speed - 22mph, power - 200W

Stage 8 - A Very Dark Place & 9 Hammers

I could not muster the mojo or motivation to get on the bike for this session. At just under 2 hours with 14 efforts, it had me a little worried after spending nearly 8 hours pedalling so far in the tour. I can't quite describe the horror of this session. The first 5 efforts in A Very Dark Place were fine but absolutely sapped the energy in my legs. The 9 efforts of 9 Hammers were disgusting, I wanted to quit in fact I nearly did. My legs had nothing for some of the efforts, I was suffering horribly. It was so hard. Whoever decided to pair these workouts is not on my Christams Card list. It wasn't pretty but I got the job done (just) thankfully.

Stats - Distance 37.1 mi, time - 107 mins, speed - 20.8mph, power - 201W

Stage 9 - Power Station & Violator

Before the tour began, this was the one session I was looking forward to. A double session combining low cadence/high power intervals with sprints. My two favourite things to do on my Wattbike. I loved Power Station. It was just enjoyable. Violator however hurt me. 64 sprints of either 5, 10 or 15 seconds with differing rests was beautifully horrible. I was so relieved after the last sprint.

Stats - Distance 39.9 mi, time - 120 mins, speed - 19.9mph, power - 201W

So there is is my first Tour of Sufferlandria completed. Like I said before it had some highs and some lows. I am pleased I decided to do it.

In total my stats for the 9 days are as follows

Distance - 257 miles
Time - 11:56
Speed (average) - 21.5mph
Power (average) - 202W

I fully intend on integrating these videos into my training going forward, I really can't believe it works out at £6.91/month for using the app. 

Will I be back next year? You bet I will. I think the last 9 days has made me stronger (both physically and mentally). I just need to test that out by doing an FTP test when I am fully recovered as my legs are trashed tonight.

I did the tour to boost my cycling ahead of going to Mallorca and the 12 hours in the saddle will have done me no harm whatsoever.

Thanks to Wattbike for the opportunity to take place.

Thanks to Sufferfest for the awesome videos and organisation involved in creating the Tour.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, 5 February 2016

Catch up

Wow can’t believe its been two months since I last blogged.

Between the frivolities of the festive period and training as much as I can, I have no idea where the time has gone. Nearly 10% of 2016 has already passed.

What’s been happening? Sleep, work, eat, train repeat pretty much sums things up.

I had two weeks off work for Christmas and had a blast. It involved a lot of alcohol and time spent enjoying myself with friends and family. Happy times.

Unfortunately the weight loss stagnated (well to be honest it went backwards). That is one of the downsides of me consuming alcohol but as Vinnie Tortorich says “It doesn’t matter what happens between Christmas and New Year, it’s what happens between New Year and Christmas that counts” Amen to that. So now we are out of January (which included a divorce party, a wedding and more nights out with friends) it’s time to go back to basics with my diet.

I have 16 weeks to go until the qualification races and the most important part of my season. If I manage to shift 1 lb of weight every 2 weeks, I will be a minimum of 4kg lighter come my important races. I’d have to spend £8k on a bike to get one that is 4kg lighter than my race bikes. I may as well save that money and instead invest in myself and my future health. Plus weighing less will have benefits across all three disiplines and not just a lighter bike.

The other week I got struck down with my yearly bout of lurgy. I thought I’d avoided it but the germs finally tracked me down. As usual I immediately stopped training until I was better. I really don’t understand people who train and don’t let their bodies recover. Your body needs to use its energy to get better in my eyes.

Have the 10 days hurt off my training. Probably not but it was only 10 days as opposed to the 3 weeks I know some people have been ill for. I know I am swimming as quick as I was pre illness going from last nights threshold set.

I also had a niggle in my knee over Christmas which I finally managed to ascertain was caused by my cleat on my new bike shoes being slightly off. After correcting this, my niggle disappeared.
I have also found a new love in my training. Kettlebells. I came across the Strength Matters podcast in early December and after binge-listening to all 66 episodes on my commute to work, I decided to see what benefits they could have for my training.

I have dabbled with kettlebells as part of my Functional Movement Training with Blizard Physiotherapy.

Now having never been interested in the gym in all my life, the fact I am enjoying lifting (increasingly) heavy things is a nice change for me.

I have started working with Susie (a PT friend who coaches us at Doncaster Triathlon Club) on a one to one basis to ensure that I am using correct technique as I don’t want to end up injured but I love the fact I can swing my kettlebell round while watching telly with the wife and have started to notice the benefits.

My glutes are starting to fire from all the kettlebell swings I have been doing; I also believe they are having a benefit with my swimming. Before my bout of lurgy, I found holding my threshold pace easy which is a first. The only thing that has changed is the introduction of kettlebell work on top of my existing training schedule. Another benefit of swinging iron is that it helps me deal with work stress and I can fit this in no matter how time crunched I am.

Since Christmas my commute with work has increased so my sense of being time crunched has also increased.

The next 16 weeks will all be about quality of training, I will be limiting my junk training and concentrating on getting the most from each session.

Last week I was also mentioned on the Strength Matters podcast which is a really bizzare thing to happen when you are just driving around listening to it. It was completely unexpected but I was really thankful for the mention. One of the things they mentioned was starting a blog. Woohoo I am ahead of the curve with that one.

This past week also saw my #blogbirthday, I can’t believe my blog is now 4 years old. I don’t even want to know the total word count of it. I bet there are smaller books.

On the subject of books, one of my friends (initially from social media but now in real life) has just released her book. Hollie Cradduck first contacted me in October 2013 to promote her blog detailing her awful likfe changing trip to Tenby to complete Ironman Wales. Her book charts her journey from their to Kona and she very kindly mentiones me in her book with some very kind words. If you want to read her book it can be found here.

I was pleased to be mentioned in her book including a hyperlink to my Twitter profile in the ebook. Thanks Hollie. Hope I’ll see you on a start line soon.

The next 9 days will consist of me taking part in the #TourOfSufferlandria. The tour is a stage race taking place in the fictional land of Sufferlandria. Sufferlandria is the place where the Sufferfest videos are set.

Sufferfest videos are cycling training videos which use real race footage and link them to intervals and you have to suffer at differing intensities according to what the suffer level is meant to be.
I have been selected to be part of #TeamWattbike for the tour.

The tours main aim is to raise money for an American Charity called the Davis Phinney Foundation which is for people with Parkinson’ disease. Davis was a professional cyclist who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Each entrant to the tour pays $10 to compete in the tour and for each entry they are put in a raffle for some AWESOME prizes.

As part of #TeamWattbike I have to complete the tour on my Wattbike.

I am using the 9 days riding totalling 12 hours in the saddle as a way to build my endurance ahead of my training camp in Mallorca in April.

Having only completed one Sufferfest video I am slightly worried by some of the stages. There is one which incorporates 32 one minute all-out efforts into a 90 minute workout which I am dreading. This takes place this Sunday and joy of joys I will probably be hungover after a night out with friends.

Here is the profile for the suffering I will have to endure.
The redder the profile, the harder it is.
The 9 days should really pay dividends in Mallorca.

Since my last blogpost I've also been officially announced as a brand ambassador with Generation UCAN in the UK.

This will be my fuel of choice (along with cheese) for the training camp in Mallorca.

With retrospect, I know I said at the start of this post that I haven't been up to much but reading through all this, it appears I have.

Thanks for reading,

I'll try not to leave it so long next time.