National Aquathlon Championships

My last big race was approaching on September the 8th the National Aquathlon Championships. However leading up to this the weekend before I picked up a foot infection after competing at the triathlon sprint relays on the Sunday prior. My foot was hurting and inflamed straight after the race. I have had a problem near my toe with a lump for a while, unfortunately after being told to go to the MIU from the medical team at the race there was no doctor on duty at the MIU to give me antibiotics. The good news is I had a doctor’s appointment booked in for the Monday anyway a week before. I turned up in pain and hobbling at the doctors, the doctor confirmed it was an infection. I explained my health comes first and if he pulls me out of the Nationals that is fine. Well he said there was no reason for not to continue to train etc and gave me antibiotics and stated only train if it doesn’t hurt and keep an eye on it.

So I did, however on the Thursday I started feeling unwell and drained so I took Friday and Saturday off prior to the race. It worked a treat as Saturday morning I felt really good, all though still had pain in my foot; it was healing and didn’t affect my running or swimming. I didn’t know what my fitness was and Saturday night I had another problem with the fire alarm at the hotel went off just after midnight which woke me up and then I struggled with sleep after that and had roughly a few hours max sleep. So race day came and I was shattered and felt awful.

Feeling sorry for myself Sunday morning and not great at all I had to just give it my all and see what I can do. The race was in beautiful Arundel and I highly recommend visiting. The race started and we went off in waves, I tried to pushed hard in the swim however felt sluggish I didn’t give up but at the turn around point I started to feel awful and struggling to get keep pace or go faster. I came out the river and didn’t feel great, I proceeded to transition and realised I must have had a good swim as I was close to the top guys.

I was struggling to get my wetsuit off due to the air temperature and lake being a bit on the cold side. I came out of transition and onto the run and decided to run hard and see how long I could keep this pace up. I managed to catch the lead pack with around 2k to go and took the lead in my AG. 2nd placed stayed on the back of me and I knew he could get past me and at that point I had nothing left. However when on the final stretch of the race, I asked my body to go faster, gritted my teeth and tried to turn my legs over quicker still feeling awful but kept saying to myself in my head come on nearly there and my body reacted an moved.

I came storming to the finish line and started celebrating. It could well be my best race, I didn’t expect to get on the podium at the start of the week but I gave everything and didn’t give up. So very happy to defend and win the National Championships for a second time. I learnt something here today and that is never give up until it’s over. I kept wanting to stop and ease off but mentally I was in the right place. Lots of negative thoughts came into my head but I managed to keep positive and block the negative thoughts out and this is what made the difference. I had to dig very deep to defend this, of course if I was fully fit I know I could of been faster but I did just enough to retain my title.

This season has been amazing and becoming European and National Aquathlon Champion has made me achieve more than anything I could ever imagine. As mentioned before in blogs I won’t be taking up my GB spots for the Aquathlon team next year as I want to focus on triathlons. However I am yet to decide if I will come back to the nationals or not next year for Aquathlons. Since I started this journey in 2015 I have raced in 37 Aquathlons, podium 29 times and had 7 wins. I have won 2 National titles, Runner up and 3rd, European Champion and Bronze medal, represented GB 8 time and captained the team at Age Group. It’s been an amazing journey and I move on to new challenges now.

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ASICS Glideride

ASICS kindly sent me a pair of their new Glideride shoes to test out and review.

What is the Glideride? The team at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science (ISS) come up with the idea that optimal sole curvature so that runners feel a smooth and comfortable rolling as they run. The Glideride has a curved forefoot design, which, combined with a stiff­ forefoot, provides an easy, forward rolling motion on the run and a bouncy feeling. Asics claim this shoe is designed to make long running easier.

Some of the key features include:

  • Designed to help runners save energy over the long run.
  • Technology that provides a shock-absorbing landing zone, which lessens fatigue
  • A lower degree of ankle flexion means other muscles in the kinetic chain, such as the calf, work less, expending less energy for increased efficiency.

When they arrived my first impressions where that I love the funky colour its defiantly my short of colour and I don’t like plain running shoes. However when looking at them I wondered if this is the type of running shoe I would like? So first impression nice colour but bulky so wasn’t sure. However once I took them out the box I was very impressed how light they are despite looking bulky and the Glideride has a 5mm heel drop.

So I put the Glideride to its paces. When I put them on they felt very comfortable and seemed a bit more comfortable then one of my favourite models the Dynaflyte. The noticeable difference was how high up I felt from the ground with the Glideride. It felt strange and I wasn’t sure if I like this as most of the shoes I have had before and flat and nearer the ground but then again I have never used a shoe like this before so it was all new for me. So I first tried them on my warm up on my speed session as I wanted to wear them in and the first thing I realised how much I was bouncing along with like minimal effort. Felt like I was going faster then I normally do in my warm up. In fact I seemed to cover slightly more distance then normal but that doesn’t mean a thing as a lot of things can affect that such as terrain etc.

So I took them for a few long runs and found that they still felt weird being higher up, but the bounce was noticeable. I tried these a lot on a long run and had no problems at all, I think this type of trainer is suited for longer distances and races. When using them in my speed sessions I wasn’t sure if I would like them for running shorter distances. They certainly felt light and quick and that bounce was felt more and more. Another noticeable thing was I felt I was running more on my front of the foot and not heel striking which is a good thing.

Conclusion nice and very comfortable running shoe and good fit which allows your feet to breath. However can it last for high mileage runners? I don’t know time will tell. The colour is perfect for me and funky, the design is good and don’t get put off about this being bulky because the Glideride is very light. Can it make you run faster? Not sure but does feel like you are bouncing along and running faster. I recommend this shoe as one of your running kit products for longer run/races such as marathons. I certainly would use these for my long runs but not sure about shorter races yet as I prefer the more traditional shoe being closer to the ground. However I can see these types of shoes being the next generation of running shoes as it does seem like this type of shoe and technology will become a game changer.

TRIATHLON ENGLAND NATIONAL SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIPS EXPERIENCE

This season has gone so well but where has all the time gone? It seems to have flown by. It’s been a great season for me no matter what happens in the remaining races I have left I have had a great one.

I did the National Sprint Triathlon Championships at Bedford back in August which was also the 2020 ETU Qualifier for the GB Triathlon team in Malmo. This was always the most important race of the year for me and to see how well I would do with experienced and strong athletes. I started training for this back in November when Mark Shepard started putting me through my paces on the bike. I haven’t been cycling long so I knew if I worked hard at it I could make big gains. With a season purely focused on triathlons, I knew it was going to be tough but I like a challenge and therefore focused a lot on this area. I always planned to do this race last year and kept it quiet from social media as I didn’t want any pressure and to keep low key. I only told my coaches, family and close friends.

So I wanted to keep a low key, I turned up to this race knowing I would be strong on the swim and run and hopefully the bike training would pay off, I have seen lots of gains on the bike. I didn’t really know what to expect, I have done big events before but I was entering a race which was the unknown for me.

I did my normal warm up and it was nice and sunny so was looking forward to it. I got ready for the swim and the start went off and I swam hard, I enjoyed the swim and came out with the front pack. I came into transition in 5th place and I then got on to the bike. The bike was going well and managing to keep a good pace. I had a few packs go past me which is annoying as they were drafting in a non-drafting race. It then started raining on the bike leg around 7-8 miles in for me and I suddenly nearly lost control at one of the roundabouts due to the rain and my lack of confidence on the bike. I then came onto a main road where lots of cars were going fast and so close to me. This put me off and I decided to ease off as my safety was more important than crossing the line as fast as I could. A few miles later my bike was making a racket and something sounded like it was grinding and I started to get very cold, but I made it fine to transition apart from forgetting to take my foot off one of my shoes. I got into transition and felt fresh, by this time it was pouring down.

I started the run fast and with it being wet and all on grass the conditions were tough. I had trails with me but left them in the car as the rain was not forecasted. I attacked the run going past a lot of people. I love cross country running, however with the rain coming down it was making the course tough. It was very slippery and I stacked it coming down hill as a result. Anyway I finished the run and was 11th in my Age Group. I had the 4th fastest run in my race and was not far off 5th place time wise.

So I am pleased with it as it was my first Triathlon championships and I will be back next year. This has given me a foundation and target now to work towards. Life is all about challenges and I decided at the end of last year to move into a new challenge. As a result of my placing I have a good chance of qualifying for the GB Triathlon Age Group team for a roll down place but will have to wait and see. What I do know Is that over the winter I will be working hard again on the bike and spending a bit more time on it.

European Champion!! a shock for me..

As many of you know this was my last GB race for the aquathlon team before I take some time out from this team. I competed in the 2019 Târgu Mures ETU Aquathlon European Championships on Friday 5th  of July for GB in Romania. The race consisted of a 1k swim in a lake and 5k run, with the run being four laps of 1.25km.

A few days prior to the race I developed a foot problem after one of my sessions and I was limping with pain afterwards. I was very worried about it being a big problem and that it would keep me out of the race. I tried not to think about it and rested up over the weekend prior to the race. I had a physio appointment booked in anyway the day before I went out. On the Monday I turned up to the physio expecting to be pulled out of the race, however he couldn’t find anything wrong and told me to go for my normal planned run that evening and then come back later for a scan to check no fractures to be 100% sure. So I went for a run and it was painful but didn’t get worse, I then went for a scan and it was all clear. This gave me huge confidence knowing whatever it is will not keep me out of the race. I always tend to get werid pains before big events.

Race day arrived and for some reason I was a nervous wreck before the start of the race in the morning, no idea why, maybe because of my foot pain. I got to the start line in very warm conditions and the horn went off and I started.

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I thought I struggled in the swim because the lake was warm and my arms and legs felt dead after 100 metres. I came into transition in 4th place in my age group which is very high for me and I went down the wrong row in transition and panicked as I couldn’t see my trainers, they were two rows away, I have never made this mistake before and I was thinking this was not going to be a good day but tried to keep positive. I then got on the run and ran well but was struggling towards the end, I took the lead on the 3rd lap and had the fastest run in my race and one of the fastest on the day. When the commentator announced me as the champion in my age group when I crossed the line, I was shocked and didn’t really believe it but my wife kept saying they said you won and we were so happy, I couldn’t of done it without her support over the years.

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I then had to wait pretty much the whole day until the medal ceremony which was in the evening. I lined up for the podium and when my name was called out as the Champion in my age group I was blown away but over the moon, it was a great feeling and a special moment for sure.

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A nice end for me for the team as I am moving to other challenges. When I started this journey I didn’t expect to achieve so much. I couldn’t swim in 2012 and only started running then, I hope this inspires others that if they train hard they can achieve their goals. Very shocked but over the moon about it, still can’t quite believe it. But I have to thank all my family, friends, coaches and sponsors that have supported me throughout the years as they certainly played a part in this and it was a team effort for sure.

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Thank you for all your support over the years.

AfterShokz Aeropex Headphone Review

My sponsors have gifted me the new AfterShokz Aeropex Headphones to review so I have put it through its paces and here is my review.

What is the Aeropex? A Bluetooth headset and wireless, they target the sports markets and especially runners, however it is very good for the bike too. AfterShokz are leading the way in bone conduction technology, however with £149.95 they come at a cost just like other top gadgets.

What is bone conduction technology? Well there are two types of audio conduction: air conduction and bone conduction. Air conduction is the most common for headphones, however while we enjoy our music this way, we can’t hear the noises that surrounds us and can become uncomfortable after a while in our ears. With bone conduction on the other hand, you don’t have either of these issues. AfterShokz headphones generate miniature vibrations which travel through your cheekbones. The vibrations go directly to your inner ears (cochlea), bypassing your eardrums. Because of this, you are free to enjoy music without blocking your ears. This leaves you with awareness of your surroundings. For example if you’re running you can hear everything around you. In England this is the only approved bone conduction headphones for England Athletics races.

Below is a table of the specifications, if you’re like me you’re want to have a look.

Part number AS800 Wireless range 33 ft(10m)
Speaker type Bone conduction transducer Battery Li-Polymer battery
Frequency response 20Hz~20KHz Continuous play Up to 8 hours
Sensitivity 105 ± 3dB Standby time Up to 10 days
Microphone -38dB ± 3dB Charge time 2 hours
Bluetooth® version Bluetooth®v5.0 Weight 26 g
Compatible profiles A2DP,AVRCP,HSP,HFP Warranty 2 years
Charge Voltage 5V±5% Sweat resistance IP67
Speaker impedance 8.5ohm±20% Battery capacity 145 mAh
Frequency band 2402MHz~2480MHz Maximum RF output power 4dBm

So what new features and improvements has AfterShokz come up with for their new model?

The Aeropex seems to have much better sound quality than the Air. I think this is due to the vibration is tilted against the face at 30 degrees, allowing a more dynamic range of base and fewer vibrations. This therefore allows the vibrations in the range of the human voice a little higher which are purer, with a smooth frequency response curve. This means that the Aeropex offers much better quality than previous models.

The Aeropex is also waterproof and can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for as long as half an hour. Which is a plus when out running and cycling and its pouring hard with rain. It feels lighter and it is. It is 30% smaller and 13% lighter than the Air headphones and weighing 26g. This is also due to the battery being smaller. However did this affect the battery life? Well no I found that I didn’t need to charge this as much and due to the battery being more powerful AfterShokz claim it can last 2 hours more than their air models putting this up to 8 hours of battery and music life now.

They still feel comfy when on and stay in place when running, this is an important for me as you don’t want to keep stopping midway through a run to sort them out.

So my conclusion is that AfterShokz have improved with their latest model the Aeropex. The new features make the headphones even better. If I am rating this out of 100 I am giving this 90%. I think the price maybe a little steep however if you want a good quality gadget then you’re always going to pay price. They feel fine on and comfy and have an even better sound quality than normal. It is waterproof and was perfect for me to keep motivation up in my long runs and bike rides. Most of all what I like after AfterShokz products is safety, my safety like others is so important and being able to hear your surroundings while out and being safer is a win win for me.

I have a discount code towards AfterShokz Aeropex headphones on Amazon by here, please drop a comment below if you are interested.

Website:https://aftershokz.co.uk/

World Championships and Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon Update

So arrived at the World Championships in good shape, despite getting a cold and a grumpy tendon, which luckily did not affect my training leading up to this although it was painful. Although I was very worried about my leg as it was getting worse, but once I was tapering and doing easy training it started to ease off. These thing tend to happen a lot to me leading up to a big race.

So I was very confident on a good race on race day, we were staying in Vigo so we were around 20 minutes away from Pontevedra where the race was. So on race day I woke up and felt much better as I was also not feeling as tired. I was very tired that week from illness and walking around London watching my wife run the London Marathon. I have to say watching the London marathon is truly special and highly recommend going up to watch it.

I knew I was in great shape and if I could get through the race with my tendon problem I was confident it would be a good performance for my last World Aquathlon Championships. Race day arrived and I headed to the race, nervous but excited as normal. The event looked like it was going to be another one to remember, people so friendly, athletes chatting to you from across the world, made it have a real buzz about it.

So I got to the start line in the 19-39 year old wave, the temperature of the river was around 13 to 14 degrees so not warm but it seemed a lot colder than that. The first half of the race was up stream and against the current so this was going to be tough. I got into the river and was freezing, I headed to the start line and waited for the horn. The horn went off and my plan was sprint for around 100m metres, the swim was tough with loads of people around me. The first 500m was tough and it felt like it was taking a while. Once I hit the turnaround point it was much quicker being pushed with the current, however I could feel the water was cold and my hands and feet were not warm. I came out into transition which was a long one, about 250m long as I walked the length the day before.

My swim was not my fastest in fact it was my slowest by a few minutes, but this was to be expected in the conditions. I came to my box and took my wetsuit off, I was freezing although it was very warm outside of the river. I then left transition for the run and I was feeling faint and wobbly because of the cold water. After a minute I was warmed up and I attacked the run, hunting athletes down and passing them, I felt good on the run. I came home in 7th in my Age Group and first Brit back. I was over the moon and it was my best performance by far. I couldn’t do much more, my swim could have been better but I can’t complain due to the lack of open water swimming in the UK. My run was the 4th fastest in my race.

I have achieved more than I could ever of dreamed of since qualifying in 2016, 1x European Bronze, 3x top ten World Champs finishes and a National Championship title, Team Captain etc in Aquathlons and to represent GB in my AG at 4 world Championships. As many of you may know as I have achieved everything I wanted to in Aquathlons and this was my final World Aquathlon Championships, I am not shutting the door on Aquathlons but I may come back in future years but next year I won’t be competing for the GB aquathlon team, even though I have an automatic place from this year from today’s result. As I will be concentrating on other sporting and life goals I still have the Europeans and the Nationals to go and now targeting these and who knows I might be back in a different sport but this year was all about me focusing on newer goals.

So I got back from the World Championships and went back to work for a few days before I headed off the Greece to a tiny island called Spetses to do the Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon. I was kindly invited by the organisers to compete and I thought why not as I am moving more to triathlons this year.

My wife and I left home at 2am in the morning and finally arrived in Spetse at 5.30pm. It was a long day with flying to Athens and getting a boat across to the island. When we arrived the island looked small with no cars around and horse and carts being used a taxi’s. The whole island seemed to have a buzz because of the event.

We arrived at the Klimis Hotel which was a lovely hotel and we had a sea view. The organisers had left a goody bag and some tops with my name on, which were awesome. At 9pm we were invited to have dinner with the organisers and the athletes. That was an amazing experience talking to Elites, Pros and Olympians. Some athletes had gone to the Olympics and come back with medals.

The following day they had swimming races and I was due to race in the 1k swim. However I was just shattered from travelling and decided not to race, but went down to watch. I should of done it now thinking back to it. Later that evening they had a cycle race and the 5k charity race. I went down to watch and my wife was running in the 5k so I watched her and cheered her on. I then picked up my hire bike which I was using for the race.

The whole island was buzzing from the event and the following morning was at the Triathlon event, 750m sea swim, 25k bike ride and 5k run. Everyone headed to the start, the organisers then started announcing the Olympians etc who was competing. I was then announced and I started getting nervous as I was nowhere near their level. The race started and I managed to get on the back of an Olympic medallist and was able to stay with her for all the swim. I hung on and came out with a huge PB, I raced out of the sea onto my hire bike. Unfortunately it wasn’t my own bike so was a struggle. I lost a lot of time on the bike and the course was brutal, it was so hilly my legs were screaming at me. Having lots of people overtaking me wasn’t doing my confidence any good. So I kept thinking to myself, keep the legs spinning eventually you will start to come downhill. I then got back into transition and headed for the run, surprising the legs felt good and I cracked on targeting people one by one. I was getting quicker and quicker the longer I was running and then I finished 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. I was very happy with that considering the level of athletes here. I also had the 2nd quickest run so I was happy with that.

The spestashon was a great event and I highly recommend this event to anyone. I would love to come back and thank you to the organisers for inviting me.

Is a 3D gait analysis important?

My blog here today is about a 3D gait analysis that I had recently at the 8th Element lab in Kent and whether this kind of tool is worth it? I am always keen to combine science with my training. As I have been in many scientific tests in the past that have worked for me and I have shared in recent blogs, I was interested in seeing this. I approached John from 8th Element about coming into his lab for a test. I was very intrigued as my friend Steve had one done and there isn’t many of these types of facilities around.

So what is this exactly? I didn’t really know to be honest what was involved, I knew a little about it apart from it was to do with injury prevention, but once in the lab I was amazed by the data and the set up. You run on a treadmill and there are camera’s positioned around the lab to watch all your body movements. When watching the screen directly in front of you, you can see green dots on your body on the screen and it’s from those dots it takes your running form. So I had to perform a test on the treadmill running at my race pace for 45 seconds and that’s it until you get the results which are instant. Now the interesting thing I found was that the analysis bases its finding on you and not the perfect runner. Which is good because as a coach changing runners’ bio mechanics fully can result in problems. I am interested in the science behind this; you can use science in your running as a powerful tool.

Now what I liked about this was that it gives you results that the a coach cannot necessarily see. My running coach Steve King and myself as I am also a running coach aren’t able to see what a computer can see from its data. I am a data man; I work with data so getting this test done is great as I love the data coming out of it and will always work with data to improve myself.

So with like any gait analysis they are designed to find errors in your technique and the way you run. Some might take it with a pinch of salt some may take it fully on board. For me if there are any errors I need to sort them out or at least have a think about them, just like what I would do with my swimming technique. So what did it find? Well it found a lot, some parts such as different sort of strength training on my off season did play a part. Now the interesting thing for me was ever since I got knocked off my bike last year I have been getting a sore right leg. I didn’t tell John about any of my problems but I wondered if he could pick up on it and he did; he found that my right hip was unstable and had weakness which is causing stresses and forces through my right hip which is causing my lower leg to get stiff because of this. So I was given some hip exercises to do. I won’t go through everything but another thing they found was cadence. The reason I won’t go through everything is some of the findings made me sound like a broken man, however that’s not the case I tend to get low injuries so after talking to my physio and strength coach we only took on board a few points. Let’s face it you can’t work at millions of things at once, only a few at a time. Once we looked at the results we found that my strength work needed stuff that was already implemented in my plan and something I do not need to worry about. Any coach would only recommend to take a few points and work on them. So two key issues I have decided to work on are as follows:

Key Issues:

Structural – Acute right hip instability/weakness: right hip drop causing large stresses and forces through the right hip and compression and limitation/stiffness through the left lower back. This also causes early contact. This early contact forces rapid extension of the knee; from swing to contact and thus stresses through the hamstring due to the rapid eccentric quad movement.

Key Mechanical factors to adjust – Over stride vs heel strike: this is occurring daily due to the inability to create vertical lift without using too much energy. By strengthening the above, the over stride can be adjusted. Thus reducing contact time and lateral forces while also reducing the eccentric forces through the quads – which are the result of over striding (reducing any posterior chain weakness – injury).

This in turn will allow for less energy wastage and more performance gains.

So what will I do about this? So my right hip is a bit tight, I am going to make it looser by doing simple exercises by standing on the edge of a step with one foot off the step and moving my hip up and down while keeping all legs straight. The next thing is cadence. I know I have a long stride, so by shortening this and making sure it is shorter when I run, by bringing feet closer to hips and try to up my cadence to 190 beats per minute, I should see improved performance and the risk of injury lower.

My conclusion is that for the cost of a higher end running shoe you can benefit from this test if you can afford it. Combining science is important but also it is not always the best way. For someone that has low injuries I personally think that the amount of corrections and problems it found with my running form was a bit too much to process at one time. However if you take some of this on board you can minimise the injury risk and improve your running form. I think it’s worth it but be aware you may get a long list of problems which are not necessary problems they may just need small tweaks done to them.

Warm-ups – do you do them & why they are important

Lots of people do not do warm ups before their sessions so I wrote a short blog.

A warm up can be defined as a period or act of preparation for a performance or exercise session, involving gentle exercise or practice. This is also known as the pre-match warm up.

With anything in sport if you don’t warm up the muscles you will get injured; you need to get your body loosened up ready to go. Thousands of people every Saturday turn up to parkrun and stand there waiting for it to start and then fun hard with no warm up, this can bring on injuries. I do wonder how many people get injured from this as a result from going from one extreme to another. The younger runners are the worst and think they don’t need to do this. No warm up is just going to end in disaster purely because your body is going from being cold to trying to get it to work at its max.

Warm ups don’t have to be complex and can be easy. Ii warm up for every session and before my races. On speed sessions and race day I do a structured 9 minute warm up.  For example my running warm up is 3 minutes at an easy pace and a certain heart rate zone, I then ramp it up for the next 3 minutes which is my 60-70% heart max and for the final 3 minutes I go 90% heart rate max and this gets me ready to race and works all the energy systems. Since doing this warm up I have gone into sessions and races hitting my target times.

A warm up doesn’t need to be complex it can start off with a brisk walk for something like 3 minutes. This is ideal as it is low intensity and eases you into it and then you can pick the pace up. Adding strides helps the blood flow more and activates your fast-twitch muscle fibres. I would also throw in some dynamic stretches such as squats.

Once you have done a warm up you are ready to go. You have to experiment and see what works best for you. I do hear quite often that runners say it takes them a few miles to get going; but these same people haven’t done a warm up. I think you need to make sure you hit your energy systems so you are ready to perform your best. No point turning up to a race saying it took me two miles to get going and missed out on a PB/medal etc. It’s important you give your body a little taster of what you are going to expect.

Some things I see before races is people stand at the start lines cold and stretching but doing static stretches. This is also a chance for a disaster to pull a muscle. There’s tons of stuff on the internet so see what drills, dynamic stretches and warm up you would like to do and have a go. But remember warm up is key to get you ready and going.

I also took part in a research study on the benefits of a well-structured warm up and if you can improve from this. I did this last year with Hannah from the Kent University sports department and found that it improved me. Now I mentioned earlier about my 9 minute warm up and this is where I got my warm up from. Before I used to just run an easy mile which didn’t do me any benefit at all. So the science behind this study was to get me running my speed sessions and races faster as I was fully warmed up and my body was ready to go race pace.

So this study included me doing this warm up twice a week. I used it on my weekly speed sessions and races throughout a three month period. Each month I had to perform my warm up as planned on a track with Hannah, so 3 minutes easy, 3 minutes long run heart rate and 3 minutes race pace. She then took blood samples every 3 minutes to see how my body was reacting. I then had short breaks where I did other samples and went back out on the track and ran 12 minutes as hard as I could without looking at my watch. So quite hard to pace if you are not used to not using your watch. The first test of the study covered 3,040 metres, which I was a little disappointed with because I thought I would be covering more distance. However, every month after that I had improved by the last test and had run 400m more in total. A huge improvement, so it shows that you can improve with just a structured warm up before your races and training. The point of this was to get you fully warmed up and ready for your session/race therefore in theory able to run faster/harder instead of taking a while to warm up.


Vorgee Vortech & Stealth MKII Goggles review


It is important to get the right goggles to use and there are so many factors that you need to consider before purchasing a pair such as: are they suitable for outdoor swimming and races?  Vorgee kindly sent me some pairs to test and review. A little bit of background to the company, Vorgee is an Australian owned company which was established in 2005. By providing products from beginners to competitive swimmers. So being an Australian company and Australia having a track record of outstanding swimmers I was very interested in testing their products. I got to test the Vorgee Vortech and Stealth MkII swimming goggles so onto my review.

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Vorgee Vortech swimming goggles were the first up to test and below are some quick features:

• Soft frame unibody for added comfort and a softer fit
• Soft but firm gasket to hold correct position away from the face
• Ultra vision lens – a curved lens which offers greater clarity and wide high grade silicone dual band to ensure correct strap positioning and fit
• Anti fog injection
• UVA and UVB protection
• Exclusively endorsed by Swim Australia

First impressions were that they looked good but I thought the grey clips on the side looked a bit cheap. I think it was because the colour makes it look slightly cheap plastic. However I am not too worried about that but it could be something to change in the future. They don’t look flashy; I like goggles to have tinted lenses but that is my preference. However this type of goggle is bulky and this is what I like in goggles and are the type I use in races and outdoor swimming. I found it was a perfect fit and the grey levers are easy to do up and tighten up. I am also a big fan of this type of rubber strap and design. It is very light; this is due to the ultralight gasket and frame to provide less pressure around the face and for comfort.

I tested these in the pool and open water; no leaks whilst swimming so that’s a win win, they felt very comfortable and no problems of them feeling too tight or leaving marks on my face. What I was impressed by was that wherever I was swimming the goggles did not fog up. They were clear and did the job.

My conclusion is that although they look like normal swimming goggles, a few minor upgrades to the looks (so that the grey levers don’t look too cheap) and having tinted lenses would make the goggle stand out hugely. I think these are great goggles; they are comfy and do not fog up. They are at a good retail price with some retailers pricing them under £16. I would take “great goggles” anytime over “flashy goggles”.

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So on to Stealth MkII review; first impressions were that they looked very flashy. I liked the colour and design, they stand out and this is what I like. But did they do the job? Vorgee have designed this as ultralight low resistance racing goggles. I don’t race with these types of goggles as I like my race goggles bulky because most of my races are open water. But that is a personal preference. Below are the key features of the Stealth MKII:

• Race goggles
• Curved silver mirror lens for an increased wide angle vision of up to 140°
• 3D seal design
• High grade silicone, dual band strap with Quick Fit Strap Adjustment
• Anti-fog coating for enhanced visual clarity
• 4 interchangeable nose bridges
• UVA and UVB Protection

When using them they felt very comfy and light. However I had a problem with the dual band straps; I struggled to do them up and get them in the right place and Ii was not overly keen on them. I preferred the other type of goggle straps but these types of straps were very robust and a low chance of the straps snapping. They did not fog up and they were very clear. However when swimming open water I sometimes got a little leak but once I did them up they were fine; I don’t think I did them up right.

My conclusion is that they are not goggles for me purely for the strap reason; I can never get that right. Nevertheless they were comfy and looked flash. They are great pool goggles but not so sure about using them outside. I like the colour design and maybe a recommendation is that in the future they do a different strap design. So overall I really like the Vortech the best; they felt great and did the job.

Do you train with a Plan?How to structure your training around your daily life

Scheduling training around your daily life commitments can be hard for a number of reasons such as family commitments, working hours and so on. For me it is very difficult because not only do I have a full time job I have to do all my training after work and around spending time with my wife, family and friends which is very tough. So I decided to right a blog on how to structure your plan. Being a running coach and being coached myself I have lots of knowledge on making a plan.

For me I always start the day with a cup of Green Tea. Then I sit down and look at a six week plan with an easy week on the 7th week that has more rest and stripped down training. My plan is also my diary so before I schedule any training I first write down all my commitments for that 7 week period so I can work around those.

 

With any plan you don’t want to go straight into hard training so all my training starts off at my baseline and gets increased each week for three weeks, the following three weeks I just maintain my training and for the 7th week as mentioned before it’s an easy week with less reps and duration of training etc. In peak season I may change my plan to a three to four week plan, working around my races and getting plenty of recovery. So its important you get the right balance for you.

So if you are like me and you are training for a triathlon you will be putting in 3 disciplines: Running, Cycling and Swimming. I also put 2 strength sessions into a week to prevent injuries and make me stronger. For me I need to fit in the following each week:

3-4 Runs

3-4 Swims

2 Strength sessions

2-3 Bike sessions

If I am struggling to fit in a session as my day hasn’t gone to plan, then I will try and reschedule it. If your struggling to get out and train due to many reasons, if you can get out and it’s only a short session its better than nothing; but remember rest and recovery is key. Numerous research papers show that having a week off from training doesn’t do too much to your fitness but after that your fitness declines quickly.

So I take my key sessions from each area and plot them on my plan. So my key running sessions will be one of my speed sessions and one long run. This is very similar to swimming; I will have an aerobic, a speed session and drill session which will be my key sessions for that discipline. Once I have worked out my key sessions, I make sure that my hard sessions are followed up by easy sessions. I never have hard session together. Once I have done that I move on to the other sessions and plot this into the plan making sure I get one day full rest a week and two for my recovery week.

Sound easy? Well not really because you then need to figure out the session you want to do. For example, no point me putting in four easy runs if I want to get faster. Once you have the basis of the plan you can then work out what sessions you want to do to achieve your goals.

If you are planning for a marathon you will want to do longer speed reps than if you were running a 5k. For example at least two of my runs I run at 60% my heart rate max. The reason I run these is that it has been proven that running at a slower pace on your long runs increases your endurance and improves your efficiently which in time will make you faster. When running at this pace not only does it do that it teaches your body to burn fat more than carbohydrates which is a much better energy source to use. By doing these runs at this pace you also make your body recover and feel fresh the next day so you can go hard on your hard days. On the early days of my running I would go hard on my long runs and be very sore the next day, now with a slower pace my legs feel fresh the next day.

Remember that the plan may always need to change so be prepared to change things up regularly and because it’s in the plan it doesn’t necessary mean you need to do it because life does get in the way.

With any plan make sure its aimed for your ultimate goal, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle with small goals making the parts and once you put it altogether it should reach your ultimate goal. I like to set high targets and sometimes may not be able to achieve them. But having high targets makes you work towards them and train hard to get to them. So for example some of my mini goals for this year included improve swimming, improve running times, PB in certain races etc My main target was getting on the podium of the National Aquathlon Championships. So its very important to think ahead for the year and not just short term. When planning your plan make sure you have small targets, followed by one big target/goal. So if you are planning a marathon for example your training will build up to it followed by races leading up to it. That leads me on to the next part.

Whatever your goal is you need to build the plan for this. Most importantly, if it’s leading to one race you need to find races to build up and plot them in your plan and target them. There can be a number of reasons why you chose races in your plan and these can be things like building up the race distance or purely race practice and so on. Once you have done your races your pretty much ready to go and start training with your new plan.

Every session has a purpose and don’t go wasting time on junk miles etc. Make sure you know what you want to get out of every session. It might be as simple as running a mile and then next week increasing to two miles.

There is one more important aspect when thinking about you plan. Its fine to keep training and making sure you get easy and recovery weeks, but you must remember whatever target race you do, you need to taper for it so that you can peak and be the best you can be on race day.

Tapering plays lots of mind games, phantom pains, am I losing fitness etc ignore these factors and make sure you have a well-placed taper in place. For my races which are short, such as the World Aquathlon Championships, I will start bringing the following down over a course of weeks as it’s a big race for me. So for strength training the amount sets I do gets reduced over a few weeks and on race week I don’t do a strength session. Running distance comes down but the intensity stays high. So for example if I normally do 6x1k reps I might do 4 with different paces etc. Long runs come down too, I do the similar thing for the bike and swimming. I don’t taper for every race but for my important races this is what I normally do. Marathon plans etc will need a longer taper. Again you have to find what works best for you.

Once you have done your plan you need to access it regular and see if its working for you, your plan will change a lot. You also need to assess yourself with tests during your plan. My plan will include a long run at the same heart rate and place towards the end of my programme, so I can assess the data. I will do other assessments throughout to.  Anyway I hope this is helpful and if you need any help, give me a message.