15 June 2021
Do triathletes change clothes during the race?
If you are new to triathlon, you may wonder whether athletes change their clothes between the swim, bike and run. In this video, I will answer that for both elite athletes and for age group (amateur) triathletes wondering what they should do in their first race. First, the elite athletes: they do not change their clothes during the race. There simply isn't time. In ITU World Triathlon, transitions take a handful of seconds. At World Triathlon Leeds this year, Taylor Spivey went through T2 (second transition) in 14 seconds: bike racked, helmet off, run shoes on and out. Anything else takes too long. Even in long format racing (IRONMAN) athletes want to get through as quickly as possible. For us normal people, it may depend on what format you are racing. In short format racing (sprint, standard) such as Olympic distance, it will be difficult to change your clothes. There are unlikely to be changing tents and nudity is not permitted in transition so most people wear the same clothes, throughout. For women, this usually means a trisuit. Men have slightly more flexibility in that they can make do with tri shorts, swim topless and throw a t-shirt or cycling jersey on in T1. In long format racing (middle, full) such as IRONMAN distance, there are usually (but not always!) changing tents where you can go and do a complete costume change before starting the cycle or the run. This takes additional time so many athletes do not, but you can take advantage of the facilities if you wish.
9 June 2021
My fuelling strategy for World Triathlon Leeds 2021
In this video, I will talk you through my nutrition strategy for World Triathlon Leeds 2021. It is a standard (Olympic distance) triathlon so takes most athletes around 2.5-3 hours. That is long enough that you need some food but not long enough that you need to constantly eat. After a carb-based breakfast, I did a Mountain Fuel gel before the start. On the bike leg I used an OTE bar in my new Restrap top tube bag as well as 500ml of Lucozade. Finally, I did a second Mountain Fuel gel, this time with caffeine, for the run. It is around 110 grams of carbohydrate over the 2:43 it took me. This is a little less than I would normally have but I wanted to experiment with reducing my intake a little and it worked fine.
4 June 2021
Should triathletes lift weights?
If you're a triathlete, runner or cyclist, you may be wondering whether you should lift weights or not, and if so, whether you should avoid heavy weights. In this video, I will break down the question. TL;DR Yes, you should lift weights! Building strength is important because it allows us to reduce the chance of injury (stronger muscles are less likely to damage), improves performance (you have more strength to push off) and allows correct technique (you cannot run properly without strong muscles). Some athletes worry they will build "too much" muscle and this will slow them down. But body builders get big because they spend hours a day in the gym, eat a HUGE amount of calories, and often use steroids as well. Elite athletes like Vicky Holland also lift heavy weights but because they are focused on endurance, not bodybuilding, they build strength rather than bulk. You do not get bulky by accident. In terms of light weights vs heavy weights, the key is progressive overload. It has to be hard. You want to work close to your maximum reps. This may be 100 reps using body weight, or 60 reps using light dumbbells, or 10 reps using a heavy barbell. These all produce the same result. However, using the heavier weights will allow you to do your workout quicker: 100 reps takes ages!
1 June 2021
Cold water triathlon swimming: techniques & equipment
Triathletes can sometimes struggle in cold water because we typically don't have much body fat to keep us warm. In this video, I will look at what techniques we can use to prepare ourselves for cold water swims, and what equipment we might need. 00:00 Introduction 00:43 What temperature is cold? 03:54 Techniques 06:25 Equipment Both British Triathlon and Triathlon Australia require a wetsuit below 14 degrees Celcius, with that increasing to 16 degrees for full distance (3.8 km swims). World Triathlon requiring one under 16 degrees Celcius. Below these temperatures, the swim distance is also capped. The best way to get the body used to cold waters is through long-term acclimatisation: getting in a cold lake or the sea and getting the body used to it. We can do the same thing at home by taking cold showers. Acclimatisation is also important on the day: take your time getting into the water and used to the cold to avoid cold water shock. If you are unable to get into the water in advance, you can do a dry-land warm-up, splash some cold water on your face or use a bottle of water to run some down the back of your neck. Equipment starts with a well-fitting wetsuit. If you are in cold water a lot, you may wish to get a thermal version. You can also add layers underneath, whether this is your tri suit or specialist items like neoprene vests. Just be aware that your neoprene can only be 5mm thick combined (vest and wetsuit) to be race legal. Gloves are not race legal but useful in training. Socks are only race legal when wetsuits are mandatory so you can wear them in training and on days when the water is less than 14 degrees. Multiple swim caps are always allowed so you may want to double up or get a neoprene cap to go under your race cap.
28 May 2021
Should runners do yoga?
If you are a runner, you may be wondering whether you should cross-train with yoga. In this video, I will break down the pros and cons of yoga and how it can help (or not help) running. I'm a yoga teacher, as well as a running coach, but I'm keeping this video as unbiased as possible. Many people simply don't like yoga and for them, it doesn't make any sense to do it. Yoga provides flexibility, strength and mindfulness. Flexibility is not as important for running as you may think: many runners come to running because they are stiff and find that running is a sport that works well for them. The downside is that a lack of flexibility can lead to injury, so if you find you get injured a lot, increasing your flexibility will probably help. Strength is important because it also reduces injury, allows us to run with correct techniques, and can help us run faster. And mindfulness allows us to keep running for longer periods as we get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yoga provides all of this, so if you enjoy yoga, then do it. It will help your running. However, if you don't like yoga, do something else. Do weights in the gym (or at home), stretch and practise mindfulness in other ways. There is nothing magic about yoga that improves these areas, so do whatever you enjoy. If you do decide you want to give yoga a go, I have a series of yoga classes on my channel that are designed for runners and triathletes.
18 May 2021
I did a year of daily stretching and this is what happened
When the COVID lockdown came in, I decided to use the opportunity to spend 15-20 minutes per day stretching to see if I could become more flexible. In this video, I will discuss what I did and what happened. TL;DR I became a little more flexible, but not too much. I tried a different programme every month or so, working my way through Alo Moves, Lucas Rockwood's Gravity Yoga, yoga teacher training, YouTube, Down Dog, Stretching Anatomy, Stretching Scientifically, Hyperbolic Stretching and GOWOD. Flexibility has many lifestyle factors including how active you are, what exercise you do, whether you work at a desk and even how you sleep. Genetics also play a factor. So, some people are going to find it more difficult than others. Overall, my favourite app was GOWOD because it was able to demonstrate progress. However, I also enjoyed yoga teacher training for personal development and fun. Chapters: 00:00 Introduction 01:40 Alo Moves 03:33 Gravity Yoga 08:34 Yoga teacher training 12:19 Down Dog app 13:00 Stretching Anatomy 14:05 Stretching Scientifically 15:50 Hyperbolic Stretching 18:24 GOWOD app 21:52 Conclusion
12 May 2021
Recovery (7 triathlons in 7 days)
When I completed my 7 triathlons in 7 days challenge, the question I was asked most often (after "how are you feeling"!) was "what did your recovery look like?" In this video, I will take you on a brief guided tour. Number one was eating. I munched through 4,700 kcals per day and even gained a little weight over the week. You cannot eat this amount in one go so it was a case of regular meals and, to be honest, it was delicious. I ate a mixture of real food (fruit, chicken, yoghurt) and sport-specific products like protein bars and shakes. I also ate a lot of chocolate! Next up was sleep. I managed to get 8-9 hours per night most days thanks to getting to bed on time. One of the keys to this was organising my kit ahead of time where I could so that I could just pick up the next bag and go without having to worry. I use compression clothing after workouts as there is some evidence they work and they are comfortable, so it's low effort. Finally, getting a sports massage when I can and foam rolling when I feel the need to.
3 May 2021
7in7: 7 Triathlons in 7 Days
I set out to complete 7 self-supported standard distance triathlons in 7 days to raise money for the charity Unseen to help them combat modern slavery and human trafficking. That's 10.5 kilometres of swimming, 280 kilometres of cycling (it ended up being over 300!) and 70 kilometres of running during the week. Most swims were done at the local pool but it also included two dips in the lake where the water temperature had fallen to 11.8 degrees Celcius 🥶. I documented the triathlons with a daily video diary as well as photos and videos taken from the activities. Get involved and donate here: https://www.resilient.to/blog/7in7-challenge MUSIC CREDITS Blank by Disfigure
23 April 2021
How do I stop comparing my run times to others?
If you're new to running, don't have a "running body" or are just slower than other people and get frustrated at that, this video is for you. People are different abilities: genetic fitness levels and trainability play a big part, but also time to train (family, work commitments), access to gyms, diet and time to cook, sitting at a desk vs active jobs, means there is a huge amount of variation between ability levels and not that you are doing something "wrong". So, it really doesn't matter if someone can run faster than you. But the running world is not set up this way. We get times, age gradings, Strava segments, parkrun results and many other lists where we are compared against everyone else. Recognising that the world is set up to compare us but that it does not matter and that someone who can run faster than us is not somehow a better person is a good first step. Bringing awareness to this can help extinguish those implicit negative thoughts. Second, ask yourself why you started running. If you are an Olympian it may well have been to run faster than everyone else. But, for most of us, it was to get fit, improve our mental health, role-model healthy living to our children, and to have fun. We're achieving those goals regardless of the pace at which we run.
20 April 2021
Aftershokz Aeropex running headphones review
The Aftershokz Aeropex are running headphones that use open-ear bone conduction, which means you can still hear what is going on around you while the headphones are in your eyes (because technically they are not "in" your ears). I find them very comfortable and soon forget I am wearing them. And they work so well that I am confident enough to wear them on the bike as well as the run because I can still hear the cars and traffic. They work well with sunglasses and a helmet, but if you are wearing a buff, it does tend to press them into your eyes. This is true of standard in-ear headphones as well, though. I believe the battery life is quoted at about 10 hours and this seems a reasonable estimate. You have to monitor the battery life yourself, though, and they run out pretty shortly after the "low battery" audio warnings start. Not much good if you are in the middle of a Zwift race. The controls on the headphones allow you to start, stop, skip track and change the volume. It connects to your phone using Bluetooth and has a multi pairing mode but it was too complicated for me to bother.
16 April 2021
Should runners shave their legs?
Ask A Coach: Should I shave my legs for running? The short answer is no, there is no need, but you can if you want. When cycling, there is a measurable aerodynamic gain from shaving your arms and legs. However, running is much less about aerodynamics and therefore there is no significant benefit. However, if you regularly get a sports massage, it is easier with shaved legs. It also makes it easier to rub sun cream in. So there are some advantages. It just won't make you any faster.
13 April 2021
Salomon S/LAB Sense 2 running vest pack review
The Salomon S/LAB Sense 2 is a lightweight vest pack designed for running. S/LAB is Salomon's premium range and comes with a higher price tag but also top quality. The Sense 2 is the lightest version they make with no hydration bladder. This makes it lighter and more comfortable but also means that you cannot carry as much water. However, it does come with two 500 ml soft flasks that slot into the front of the pack. It has a kangaroo pouch at the back that fits a rain jacket and probably more, and several pockets at the front that you can fill a marathon's worth of food with. There is also a zip pocket and an integrated whistle that annoying bounces on the other bits of plastic as you run.
9 April 2021
Fabric Scoop Pro Radius saddle review
The Fabric Scoop Pro Radius is a bike saddle from Fabric. In this video, I will tell you why this is my saddle of choice. Fabric makes their saddles in three profiles: flat, shallow and radius, depending on how much support you want and how aggressive your riding position is. Flat is designed for pro cyclists while the radius is a more comfortable option. You can then choose between various models: sport, elite, race and pro, that come with different rails: steel, chrome, titanium and carbon. Hence, this saddle uses the radius profile and, being the pro version, the carbon rails. I won't pretend I am 100% comfortable on this saddle all of the time. After a few hours on the turbo, or a long ride outside, my behind is fed up. But I have tried a bunch of other saddles including the ISM PR, Specialized Power and Specialized Power Arc, and none of them is as comfortable, even when I am riding in the aero / TT position. So, having tried all of those I have come back to the Fabric. It is the best I can find and has seen me through plenty of 100-mile rides and endless hours of slogging it out on TrainerRoad and Zwift through the winter.
6 April 2021
Should runners cycle?
A common question from runners is "should I do some cycling to improve my running?" Essentially, this is cross-training: using a different sport to support your main discipline. Whether you should cycle or not depends on your aim and your training load. If you are focused on running then the thing that will make you a faster, stronger, better runner is running. So, if you are training a couple of times a week, doing more running is the best thing you can do. However, once you get up to three runs per week, you get diminishing returns and increase your risk of injury: running is a load-bearing sport so if you are running 4+ times per week this becomes a big injury risk. At this point, you may want to supplement your running with another cardio activity such as cycling or swimming because you can continue to work on your cardiovascular fitness without putting the same strain on your legs. Cycling has some other advantages, too: it's a lot of fun as you get to go much further, can be done in groups (spin class, Zwift), provides you with something to do if the worst does happen and you get injured, and opens up the possibilities of doing duathlons.
2 April 2021
What should I eat before a run?
Many new runners wonder whether they should be eating before going for a run. The short answer is no: your body and muscles have 90 minutes of glycogen stored up, which is the energy we use to power our muscles, so you can run for around two hours on your stores of glucose and fat. As digesting food competes for energy and blood flow with the muscles we are using for running, running on a full stomach can lead to unpleasant feelings and stomach cramps. If you are running further than this, or are feeling particularly fatigued before you even start your run, you may want to eat something. in this case, it is best to minimise the amount of digestion required by eating simple sugars like glucose and fructose. These can be found in energy gels and sports drinks, but fruit such as apples and bananas is also a great source. Where possible, allow 30 minutes between eating these snacks and starting your run. if you are eating a bigger meal with fats and proteins, the body needs time to digest these as they are harder to break down than simple carbohydrates. Therefore, where possible, allow an hour between eating a meal and starting your run.