February newsletter

Anne Solley, Double trouble, 23/24th February
Darren’s marathon training schedule had a surprise up its sleeve on 23/24th February: back to back half marathon runs. The aim was to complete both runs – Saturday’s in Brighton and Sunday’s the Tunbridge Wells half marathon – at marathon pace. This is something totally different to anything I’ve done before and, to be honest, I was a little scared at the prospect. I am, however, always keen to try my hardest when following Darren’s plan and saw it as a challenge.

As the weekend approached it became obvious that both runs were going to be really cold so I was really glad to have bought some good quality winter kit. Saturday’s run was mostly along the seafront and the Road To Hell. It was a chilly but pleasant start with a bit of sunshine peeking through. The sun went in just as I turned around to head pier-wards. And to top it off, I was now running into the wind and snowflakes were falling. The closer to the pier I got the more bitter it became, the cold really zapping my energy but I just about managed to keep going.

I knew there were two big hills and some other undulations along the route and really doubted my ability to finish within my target time, especially on my already tired legs. Spring Hill (at mile 7) is a mile long and quite tough. I have to admit that about half way up the steep section I decided that as this was a training run for me I wouldn’t ‘overdo’ it and walked until the hill eased up a bit. Luckily there were some downhill sections where I clawed back some of the time lost by my little walk. The main thing I noticed on Sunday was that those gentle inclines that wouldn’t normally trouble runners felt much harder than normal and it was these sections where I really noticed my tired legs. Although tired, they never felt as if they couldn’t keep going and I was able to push the pace a little bit as I got closer to the finish.

As with Saturday’s run, it was the last few miles that were the coldest and bitterest but luckily there were plenty of spectators and marshals encouraging us crazy runners to keep going. I caught up with, and overtook, the 2:10 pacers with about 4/500 metres to go so knew I had achieved my goals for both runs which spurred me on to speed up for the final section. I was overtaken by one lady with a couple of hundred metres to go but I wasn’t having any of that and sprinted past her just before crossing the line! Job Done!

These back to back sessions were a good challenge for me, gave me a bit of confidence for the next stage of my marathon training and also helped with the mental toughness aspect of marathon training.

I have no idea what Darren has in store for me next, but bring it on!

Darren Connaghan, Retul Bike Fit, The Tri-Store, Eastbourne, 26th February
Having bought a fantastic bike (Focus Izalco Tri 2008) off of eBay at the end of the 2012 season, I set my bike up with similar angles/distances to my trusty Sigma road bike (which I’ve used since early 2005). The fit was comfortable and I was noticeably faster, by a few %, when I did comparable Preston park velodrome rides. However, after reading quite a bit about having a proper bike fit and talking to Will Taylor who used the service of FreeSpeed London and their Retul bike fitting service, I was convinced that the money I would be spending would be a good investment. Will and I had chatted and he was convinced that his Power output was between 10 and 15% higher after the fit, as important for him, was the belief, through sessions, that his running had not been impaired.

FreeSpeed London, as the name suggests, are based in London but have a link to the best Triathlon shop in the region, The Tri-Store in Eastbourne, so I booked a setup for last Tuesday afternoon (it’s cheaper during the week). On arrival, I was met by Richard and we spent quite a while talking about why the bike was setup as it was, my goals, any issues I have with injuries (lower back pain) etc. He then explained the process and we got down to the setup. I was wearing my race kit rather than training kit as this can have a small affect (padding on my winter outfit is about 0.5cm thicker). He proceeded to cover me in sticky pads (which you should be able to see) which he then connected to a series of sensors which be picked up by the 3 cameras in use providing results in all 3 dimensions (left/right; up/down; back/forward). I was then asked to pedal at 70% for 90 secs while the cameras monitored me, I then was rotated and did the same on the opposite side. He then analysed the results and we discussed the results which included knee angles, distance to handle bars, knee wobble (yes, my right knee oscillates in/out more than it should), hip angles etc. On viewing the image on the left, I could see quite clearly that I am quite upright, my knee is too bent and my shoulders are not over my tri bar pads.

Position before fit

- My saddle was raised approx 1cm causing the leg to be slightly straighter on the right image thereby engaging my quads more thereby increasing the power I can generate per pedal stroke
- My cleats were adjusted as they were not symmetrical, this should even out my oscillating pedal stroke

Position after fit

- My stem was rotated which dropped the bars by approx 1cm making my back lower and me more aerodynamic
- My saddle was moved forward by approx 1cm which places me closer to being directly above the crank pushing my shoulders fwd slightly giving me slightly better skeletal support, this also opens up my hips

The question then is ‘Was it worth it’? I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot more about bike comfort and fit than I did previously. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday that I had the opportunity to really test the position and do some comparisons at Preston Park velodrome, my favourite location for TT style or intervals sessions. The sun was out, the track was clear and I had warmed up nicely by cycling from work to there.

The results are in and although they are not as much as I would have liked (the winter has played havoc with training and being on the road), I am optimistic that I am now more than 5% faster than I was before the adjustments. Over the next few weeks as hopefully the weather improves and I am able to get out and more used to the position, this improvement will be confirmed and hopefully increased, watch this space. If anyone is interested and has the money, I would definitely recommend the process.

Lucy Biddlestone, Double trouble, 23/24th February
My apartment looks onto the seafront between the mile 7 and 8 mile marker of the Brighton Half marathon. I had just finished holding my head over a bowl of steam when I saw the first few runners shoot past my window…I’m not proud, but envy was the feeling that overcame me. I was meant to be nudging shoulders with them that morning. Instead I was blowing my nose and making a boatful of lemsip. Darren had told me not to worry as it was only a training run and i wasn’t meant to beast it anyway. But I had been itching for a good beast of a run for ages. It’s OK, at least I could give 100% in for the Tunbridge Wells the following weekend.

Monday was a frustratingly slow 30 min ‘run’ to see how my lungs were holding up; the stuff coming out of my lungs was gross but at least it was moving. Tuesday was similar, but I was up for it again. Darren sent me my training program for the week and i copied it, bleary eyed, into my diary early on Wednesday morning before a client. It was only when it came to Friday night when i looked at my diary for the following day I really took in what Darren had written in for the Saturday. Surely this wasn’t right. I got home and double-checked on line…yep he really had written what I copied into my diary. Although I am starting to get use to Darren’s hard core programs but it still made me question my running ability.

Saturday = 13 miles Sunday = 13 miles at the Tunbridge Wells ½ marathon …and keep them the same times for both days. Aaaaah I was so excited to do this as I knew it was going to be a really fun challenge. Saturday had been cold but a perfect run and I took 4 mins off the time Darren had wanted me to aim for…”let’s see how that affects your run tomorrow” he texted me with his afternoon check-up to see how it had gone.

I met Clumsy Anne by the peace statue bright and early at 7:30 am “you don’t really look like a runner all wrapped up in your ski gear like that” Anne said to me as I climbed into her warm car out of the cold. We chatted and drove and discovered that Darren had planned for both of us to take on the double whammy that weekend. At least I wasn’t the only one who thought he was nuts. We parked up and tried to prepare ourselves to climb back out into the windy cold conditions of Tunbridge. We dumped our bags at the drop off and joined the queue for a last minute toilet stop with the other female runners and swapped notes with the ones who were around us. Once we had sorted ourselves out, Anne got a text from Darren saying he was near us. He was wearing his WeAreTri suite and slipped his leggings down to proudly show us his surname printed across his bum.

We all made our way out to the start line, wished each other good luck with hugs and made our way to find our own pacemaker flags poking above the crowd. I found mine but realised that my tiny bladder needed to be emptied again. There was a bush and a large man next to the crowds; I smiled sweetly and asked the big man to stand in front of me to protect me from being seen by the crowds having a wee. I’m so lady-like.

I got back in line and the gun went off. The start was busy, but as the slight rolling hills started, it started to thin. Soon, the guys I was running near became familiar. I chatted to some of them as we cruised along. I was glad I had ‘overdressed’ as the wind kept picking up, making those in just shorts and t-shirts shiver. At mile 3 a girl cruised past me and my competitive switch went in my head. No! No! I mustn’t! This was just a training run and I had to keep the pace as though i was doing the marathon. It was so difficult, every time a girl went past I wanted to chase her and race her all the way to the finish line. I was disciplined and managed to control myself until the last 3 miles; we had just slogged up the big hill that people had been talking about before and I had some left in the tank so I opened it up and cruised home. I took 5 mins off the time Darren had originally put in the programme and 1 min faster than the day before.

Anne and I got in the car and celebrated with a well-deserved cup of coffee…thank you Anne :)

Coaches note: well done for being controlled when the urge to blast struck you, you’ll be grateful on race day

Posted in Newsletter | Leave a comment

January newsletter

Recent Sessions:
January saw the start of the Pace Awareness run group on Wednesday’s at 6:30pm which has been well attended, especially considering the weather for the month. Also, the arrival of the wearetri logo’d tri-suits have arrived and I will write a little bit in this newsletter. I’ve also carried out a few 1-1 swim sessions on Monday evenings, mainly with athletes who want a recheck of their form since their last session. It’s a short newsletter this month as it’s been quiet but next month I hope to see some articles on the ‘Pace Awareness group’, race reports from Brighton and Tunbridge Wells 1/2 marathon and anything else that may happen. Upcoming activities:
- Planning for sessions for 2013 which will include: ‘Cycle Pace Awareness (poss Feb-Mar)’; ‘Run Pace Awareness (Feb-Mar, but after the Brighton 1/2 marathon)’; ‘Swim Video Analysis (beginning of Mar)’, Cormac will be formualting a series of NLP related seminars/workshops plus anything else you may suggest so please, let me know what you need help with.

Darren Connaghan – arrival of the wearetri tri-suits
As you can see the tri-suits have arrived and in my opinion look fantastic. The weather has been a little problem in distributed these as moving around town and actually getting into town some days from Hollingbury meant that meeting up with everyone has been difficult, plus a few athletes live out of town and another is on holiday. Apart from that, those who have received them (Zeina, Richard, Mona, Ryan and myself) love them. I’m hoping the remaining athletes (Simon, Aaron and Lucy) will also. I decided against posting a full body picture for modesty sake, hopefully when everyone has their suit and can gather together, I’ll post a group shot and appreciate the coolness of seeing your name on some kit. I feel fast just thinking about it. That’s enough from me on the tri-suits, if you are interested, I will be asking if anyone wants to consider getting one of these suits for the season, probably at the end of February once I’ve met with a few more people.
For info, the side panels have 2 sections, the front section is green which can be seen and the back section is red. The back of the suit is black with two pockets, plus your name plastered over your bum. The zip runs from the top to the small of the back and is the same style as seen on the Brownlees so obviously a decent idea. There is another wearetri logo on the leg but within ITU limitations for those hoping to place at major competitions.

Posted in Newsletter | Leave a comment

Heart rate zones – simple explanation

If you hear coaches and athlete’s talk about the HR zone they did a session in and you have no idea how that translates to your training, below is a simple (ish) breakdown of the 6 zones that many major sporting bodies use.

Zone: 1
Sensation: This intensity should feel fairly comfortable and your perceived exertion should be very low. Little or no concentration should be required at this intensity and you should feel that, if necessary, you could run for a long period
Purpose: The purpose of Zone 1 rides are mainly for recovery. When the muscles are tired after racing or hard training, Zone 1 sessions can be used to help promote recovery. During low intensity exercise, toxins will be flushed out of the fatigued muscle cells and nutrients will be drawn into them.
Duration: If used for recovery, these sessions should not be any longer than a n hour. However there are situations where longer sessions are appropriate (technical skills training). How heavily these sessions figure in your training will depend on your own individual goals.

Zone: 2
Sensation: You will need to start concentrating at this intensity. Only a small amount of focus is required, but it is required none the less. If you do not concentrate at this intensity, you could quite easily slip back into Zone 1, so be careful.
Purpose: The purpose of Zone 2 rides is to build an Aerobic foundation and promote the utilisation of fat as a fuel source. This has specific relevance to weight loss and ultra-distance cycling.
Duration: These sessions can vary quite considerably in length. As they are low intensity in nature, they represent the zone prescribed for longer rides. However it is not unusual for them to figure as 1 or 2 hour slots as part of the recovery cycle.

Zone: 3
Sensation: You will need to start concentrating at this intensity. Only a small amount of focus is required, but it is required none the less. If you do not concentrate at this intensity, you could quite easily slip back into Zone 1, so be careful.
Purpose: The purpose of Zone 2 rides is to build an Aerobic foundation and promote the utilisation of fat as a fuel source. This has specific relevance to weight loss and ultra-distance cycling.
Duration: Usually 1 to 3 hours, depending on the individual and circumstances.

Zone: 4
Sensation: This is a highly focused effort, close to the Anaerobic threshold and just below race pace. Conversation with a training partner shouldn’t be possible. In fact these rides are far better performed alone without the distraction of others.
Purpose: Because this intensity closely approximates anaerobic threshold, Zone 4 training offers significant benefits to the Aerobic system as well as enhancing lactate clearance (a bi-product of anaerobic metabolism)
Duration: 45 min to 2 hours max. These efforts can be split into intervals, often interspersed with Zone 2 efforts.

Zone: 5
Sensation: This is the intensity of effort upon which all the others are gauged. Ride slightly off this pace and you will be in Zone 4, ride too hard and you will hit Zone 6. (where you will grind to a halt in minutes). Zone 5 is known in the Sports Science community as Anaerobic Threshold. This is a similar effort to that made in a 10-mile time trial. It is your maximum sustainable pace and it requires a significant amount of concentration & pain tolerance.
Purpose: The purpose of Zone 5 training is to tax both the Aerobic and Anaerobic (lactic) energy systems. The Aerobic system is worked close to its maximum and at the same time, the muscles are forced to produce and remove lactic acid at a consistently high rate. Zone 5 training taps into your Aerobic and Anaerobic power sources for maximum sustainable power…
Duration: Sessions of a continuous nature last between 20 and 40 minutes, If you can last any longer you were not riding hard enough. Often the workload is split up over a number of 10-15 minute intervals to ensure quality is maintained.
How heavily these sessions figure in your training will depend on your own individual goals.

Zone: 6
Sensation: More commonly known as Interval Training. Zone 6 sessions are performed at an intensity, impossible to sustain for a long period of time because they are so demanding.
Purpose: The purpose of Zone 6 training is to overload the Anaerobic energy systems so that they adapt and become stronger and more powerful.
A cyclist with well-trained Anaerobic energy systems will possess high power and speed capabilities over a short distance. This has relevance to fast starting, short hill climbs, breaking away. Bridging a gap, sprinting or any other sudden acceleration of pace.
Duration: The time span of intervals is usually between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. Above 3 minutes and the interval intensity begins to approximate Anaerobic Threshold (Zone 5). A recovery period that is too short will have the same effect. Therefore, the recovery period that is slightly longer than the interval

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December newsletter

Recent Sessions:
November and early December have been reasonable busy for on-going sessions with about a dozen athletes getting involved. The sessions were the Swim Video analysis session at Steyning pool on December 1st, the on-going ‘Pace Awareness’ run group and the NLP/visualisation workshop at Dragonfly clinic followed by a few ‘end of season’ drinks at ‘The Blue Man’ around the corner. Upcoming activities:
- Pace Awareness session to improve your control so you stay within the correct Heart Rate zones: http://www.wearetri.co.uk/blog/?page_id=87, last session on 20th December
- Delivery soon of the wearetri tri-suits, I am Soooo excited about these
- Planning for sessions for 2013 which will include: ‘Cycle Pace Awareness (Jan-Feb)’; ‘Run Pace Awareness (Jan-Mar)’; ‘Swim Video Analysis (Feb?)’ plus anything else you may suggest so please, let me know what you need help with.

Zeina Clare, wearetri NLP/visualisation workshop, 16th December
Last night I was very humbled to be in the company of triathletes and Ironman athletes. All focused and dedicated and displaying alarming levels of endurance, not only in their constant training but also in the competitions they chose to race in. We were brought together for a Wearetri seminar on how to obtain positive thought, assisting us in our training, racing and life journey in general. The aim was to dispel the negative, which causes us not only to doubt our ability but makes us tired and anxious, therefore affecting performance greatly.

Cormac Davey took the group and is a professional NLP practitioner. So what is NLP? Well it is complex and simple at the same time. Also referred to as the ‘science of human excellence’ and used heavily in sports psychology, NLP is broken down into three principles: Neuro – How we interpret information via our senses creating a mental map (our unique reality). Linguistic – language and its use. Programming – allowing us to change our patterns of thinking and behaviour. I’m not going to go into detail about the night because I feel if anyone wants to know more they should attend the next seminar and experience it for themselves.

However, we discussed the principles, vocalised why we were all there and what we hoped to achieve by the end of the night. The session was very interactive, with a fair amount of time spent practising visualisation techniques. I think all of us were quite profoundly moved and affected by the experience. The mood in the room was one of quiet and intense contemplation. I myself felt fairly emotional, in an inspired and positive way.

I felt as though in the short space of time I had learned not only a coping tool, but a tool to take my mind into a more informed and stronger place. Talking afterwards with the others who attended it was clear to see we had all gained something from the night.

Some of us decided to take this air of excitement and positivity, to the pub! There we talked about races past and present and of our hopes for the next season. I for one am not an Ironman nor Half Ironman, so the talk of swimming 150 lengths three times a week, running endless kilometres and cycling for miles and miles, went somewhat over my head! However we were all brought together by a common denominator. The fact we all train hard, and have decided to compete regardless to what level. Something drives us to the start line and sees us across the finish, time and time again. After the seminar it was booze that drove some of us on! I myself came home in the early hours. I blame the others. I did still however make it to swim training the next day, just. There’s going to be another one of these NLP sessions next year I believe. If you can, come. Not only to learn something new, to hang out with like minded people, gallivant about the streets of Brighton afterwards if you wish, but first and foremost, to get the feel good factor that we all took away with us that night.

Simon Wickenden, Swim Video Analysis at Steyning pool, 1st December
Today I received my report from the swim video session organised by WeAreTri at Steyning Leisure Centre. I opened the files with some trepidation as in the same way as your belief in your ability to dance seems inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. I was confident that what in my mind’s eye was a smooth and effective swim technique would prove to be more akin to aquatic daddy dancing. Having attended a number of WeAreTri swim training sessions I was keen to see for myself the numerous flaws in my technique that had been highlighted and that I am still struggling to master, so it was with little persuasion that I found myself on a cold and still winter’s evening in the pools reception waiting for Darren and the other attendees. Steyning Leisure Centre is a relatively small facility but boasts a 25 metre pool and benefits from better than average staff and management for a public swimming pool and as such is always a pleasure to use, although a word of caution it is quite easy to fall foul of the aggressively enforced parking disc system run by Horsham District Council.

Upon arrival a brief conversation with the other victims helped to reassure me that I wasn’t the only one who was feeling slightly nervous at having my technique so closely scrutinised. In spite of this I was keen to get started and having changed, we each chose a lane and swam a few lengths to warm up. The session started with a couple of leg only lengths followed by the main pyramid session and finally a couple of lengths flat out. As we swam Darren videoed each of us in turn from both above and below the water allowing analysis not just when we were fresh but also as we tired. All too soon the hour was over and it was time to leave but before we did Darren gave us a brief preview of some of the video.

The big question is was it worth it? The answer for me and in my opinion for anyone looking to improve their swimming is an emphatic YES. There are several immediate benefits, being able to clearly see what Darren had already highlighted has made it much easier for me to understand why and to focus on those techniques. It has also enabled Darren to identify other areas to work on which he had not been able to clearly see during our previous sessions. Having it in writing always makes it seem more substantive and in the future I am sure it will prove useful as a reference point as my swimming improves. Now I just need to spend the time in the pool to put all the information into practice so that I am better prepared for future training sessions and next season. As to my concerns about how bad my technique is, well, let’s just say that there is definitely room for improvement.

Shawn Timmons, Pace Awareness run group, Nov and Dec
I ran my first Marathon last year 2011 which was Brighton, it was bit more than a mid-life crisis, more I caught myself saying I am going to do that one day as I sat and watched yet another London Marathon. And never doing much more than talking about it!! I could not even run for a bus without getting out of breath. I followed a book I found on the web and trained myself. I was nervous come race day but as I got half way round Preston Park I knew I would be crossing the finishing line. I finished a respectable 4.06, not bad for a beginner. I then followed that with The Downland 30 which I found harder. This year I have got some tough off road marathons under my belt, 5 to date one being London 2 Brighton. I had planned to run 1 marathon only in the beginning. This year’s Brighton I got down to 3.42.51 so my target now is 3.30 for a Road flat.

Running on my own I was told I will only teach myself to run slower! So I tried the pace sessions Darren was starting at the end of November, now let me tell you I am not one to be put off by the weather which was good as these sessions were based down on Hove lawns. The first session I found a little difficult as it was quite windy and not used to running at a consistent pace made me pushed myself that bit harder than I would have not done this if I had been training on my own, Sam another runner was running at the same pace which bought out that bit of competiveness in me and helped me to keep going. By the 3rd week I found the session easier but we ran in horrendous conditions that night driving ice cold rain stung the face as we ran past the peace statue. Wind hit us head on and we could not hear Darren shout out are times as we passed him. Bad weather I believe helps you to train better as your more focused at getting it done. (Well done to Darren for being stood out in that weather) Overall I have found the sessions really helped. Joining the pace sessions I found I am able to push myself that bit more and as a result I know I have more in the tank. I went for a run cross country last Sunday and did a usual 9.5 miles, plenty of hills I kept a faster pace and just pushed through any thoughts of slowing down. What I found with the pace training I have started to build a good foundation of strength to keep a good consistent pace and feel comfortable with keeping this up my body just seemed to adapted to this well. I shall be trying this out this week end when I head off to finish the year with The Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. Let’s hope the rain and wind is not too bad!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swim Video Analysis – review

Today I received my report from the swim video session organised by WeAreTri at Steyning Leisure Centre. I opened the files with some trepidation as in the same way as your belief in your ability to dance seems inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed. I was confident that what in my mind’s eye, I had a smooth and effective swim technique would prove to be more akin to aquatic daddy dancing.

Having attended a number of WeAreTri swim training sessions I was keen to see for myself the numerous flaws in my technique that had been highlighted and that I am still struggling to master, so it was with little persuasion that I found myself on a cold and still winter’s evening in the pools reception waiting for Darren and the other attendees. Steyning Leisure Centre is a relatively small facility but boasts a 25 metre pool and benefits from better than average staff and management for a public swimming pool and as such is always a pleasure to use, although a word of caution it is quite easy to fall foul of the aggressively enforced parking disc system run by Horsham District Council.

Upon arrival a brief conversation with the other victims helped to reassure me that I wasn’t the only one who was feeling slightly nervous at having my technique so closely scrutinised. In spite of this I was keen to get started and having changed, we each chose a lane and swam a few lengths to warm up. The session started with a couple of leg only lengths followed by the main pyramid session and finally a couple of lengths flat out. As we swam Darren videoed each of us in turn from both above and below the water allowing analysis not just when we were fresh but also as we tired. All too soon the hour was over and it was time to leave but before we did Darren gave us a brief preview of some of the video.

The big question is was it worth it? The answer for me and in my opinion for anyone looking to improve their swimming is an emphatic YES. There are several immediate benefits, being able to clearly see what Darren had already highlighted has made it much easier for me understand why and to focus on those techniques. It has also enable Darren to identify other areas to work on which he had not been able to clearly see during our previous sessions. Having it in writing always makes it seem more substantive and in the future I am sure it will prove useful as a reference point as my swimming improves.

Now I just need to spend the time in the pool to put all the information into practice so that I am better prepared for future training sessions and next season. As to my concerns about how bad my technique is, well let’s just say that there is definitely room for improvement.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NLP/visualisation workshop review

Wearetri – Neuro Linguistic Programming seminar, 16th December 2012.

Last night I was very humbled to be in the company of triathletes and Ironman athletes. All focused and dedicated and displaying alarming levels of endurance, not only in their constant training but also in the competitions they chose to race in. We were brought together for a Wearetri seminar on how to obtain positive thought, assisting us in our training, racing and life journey in general. The aim was to dispel the negative, which causes us not only to doubt our ability but makes us tired and anxious, therefore affecting performance greatly.

Cormac Davey took the group and is a professional NLP practitioner. So what is NLP? Well it is complex and simple at the same time. Also referred to as the ‘science of human excellence’ and used heavily in sports psychology, NLP is broken down into three principles: Neuro – How we interpret information via our senses creating a mental map (our unique reality). Linguistic – language and its use. Programming – allowing us to change our patterns of thinking and behaviour. I’m not going to go into detail about the night because I feel if anyone wants to know more they should attend the next seminar and experience it for themselves.

However, we discussed the principles, vocalised why we were all there and what we hoped to achieve by the end of the night. The session was very interactive, with a fair amount of time spent practising visualisation techniques. I think all of us were quite profoundly moved and affected by the experience. The mood in the room was one of quiet and intense contemplation. I myself felt fairly emotional, in an inspired and positive way.

I felt as though in the short space of time I had learnt not only a coping tool, but a tool to take my mind into a more informed and stronger place. Talking afterwards with the others who attended it was clear to see we had all gained something from the night.

Some of us decided to take this air of excitement and positivity, to the pub! There we talked about races past and present and of our hopes for the next season. I for one am not an Ironman nor Half Ironman, so the talk of swimming 150 lengths three times a week, running endless kilometres and cycling for miles and miles, went somewhat over my head! However we were all brought together by a common denominator. The fact we all train hard, and have decided to compete regardless to what level. Something drives us to the start line and sees us across the finish, time and time again.
After the seminar it was booze that drove some of us on! I myself came home in the early hours. I blame the others. I did still however make it to swim training the next day, just.

There’s going to be another one of these NLP sessions next year I believe. If you can, come. Not only to learn something new, to hang out with likeminded people, gallivant about the streets of Brighton afterwards if you wish, but first and foremost, to get the feel good factor that we all took away with us that night.

Posted in Neuro Linguistic Programming | Leave a comment

Magnesium – can it help performance

Before I start, this is not a scientific paper, I have done some research and seems the majority of articles written on the subject have similar conclusion. That conclusion is that for most if not all athletes, making sure you have stable Magnesium levels in your body will greatly enhance your athletic performance. I know what I want for Christmas, it’s not a new bike (although that would be nice), it’s some Magnesium supplements/sports drinks which I will be taking with me when I race.

There is quite of a lot of research that has been carried out concerning Magnesium and whether it can help athletic performance. It is known to be the 2nd most abundant mineral in the body so we obviously need it on a daily basis but what does it do or enable us to do and more importantly, if we are deficient in it, what impact will that have on energy and our performance.

“Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body, being required for more than 325 enzymatic reactions, including those involved in the synthesis of fat, protein and nucleic acids, neurological activity, muscular contraction and relaxation, cardiac activity and bone metabolism. Even more important is magnesium’s pivotal role in both anaerobic and aerobic energy production, particularly in the metabolism of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the ‘energy currency’ of the body. The synthesis of ATP requires magnesium-dependent enzymes called ‘ATPases’. These enzymes have to work extremely hard: the average human can store no more than about 3oz of ATP, yet during strenuous exercise the rate of turnover of ATP is phenomenal, with as much as 15kgs of ATP per hour being broken down and reformed (from adenosine diphosphate and phosphate)!” *1

That’s a bold statement but seems to be backed up by various academics as stated in the article extract below:

“An important consideration for athletes is the rate of magnesium loss that occurs during heavy physical activity. Magnesium as well as zinc, chromium and selenium are excreted in the sweat or as part of the process of metabolic acceleration. Also, the rate of magnesium loss is increased in conditions of high humidity and high temperature.
Dr. Sarah Mayhill states that “Heavy exercise also makes you lose magnesium in the urine and explains why long distance runners may suddenly drop dead with heart arrhythmias.”
Dr. Mark Sircus adds “There is virtually no one that cannot benefit greatly from increasing daily magnesium intake. In terms of health and longevity magnesium is essential. For the professional athlete it means the difference between winning and losing, and in some cases, living and dying.”
*2

* info taken from:
*1 – http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/supplements-magnesium-in-sport-4
*2 – http://www.magnesiumdirect.com/sports.aspx

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swim video analysis – some results

Recently, I ran my 3rd swim video analysis session at Steyning Pool and the response has been pretty positive. What I’d like to do here is show the type of video you will receive along my analysis and suggestions for improvements. Next available session is Dec 1st, great time of year to get stroke analysed, rectify it and then smash the 2013 season with improved strength and speed.

Athlete A
You have a functional stroke which, with more time in the pool will turn into a more efficient and effective one. Watching the video extracts while reading this document and then using the drills for a month should have a positive affect.

PRIORITY
1 – Head position
2 – Widen hand entry
3 – Strengthen your core

GOOD POINTS
Your breathing is bilateral which is beneficial in Open Water due to other athletes and wave conditions. There was little deterioration from the start to the end of the session even though tiredness would be creeping in.

BAD POINTS
1 – Your forehead is breaking the water which affects the rest of the stroke below the neck, this means you are not swimming in a neutral and relaxed position, I imagine after a long swim session you would get neck ache from keeping the head at the 45 degree angle to look forward.
* Relax the head, looking directly at the pool floor. If you are racing in the pool, you don’t need to see where you are going as you can follow the pool lines. If you are open water, by sighting you will adjust the direction if necessary.

2 – Your breathing requires you to rotate almost 90 degrees which will affect the kick (point 3).
* Try for a more neutral head position (point 1) which means your head provide a small bow wave which your breath can be taken in. Your lower eye should not be visible when breathing.

3 – You scissor kick on both left and right sides which results in some fishtailing up the pool (thereby swimming further than you should be.
* Work on core Strength and stability exercises which should hold your pelvis more stable.

4 – Your hands enter the water very close to your head which causes slight rotation further down and a potential for crossing the centre line, fortunately this rotation doesn’t happen but you create a slight brake with the hand as it then pushes forward to the full extent.
* Try visualising entering the water with your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock, this will not occur but you should enter about 11-1 o’clock. Your hands will then glide forward and not across at an angle.

5 – Your hands are low in the water at the front of the stroke and also your arms are almost fully extended (and very deep) during the catch and push phase.
* Your hand should only be a few centimetres below the water surface during the glide. Your elbows should then bend as your start the catch and should be about 90 degrees when they reach the shoulder. This means you are pulling less water above your hand and therefore less effort is required.

DRILLS
Kick drills to make aware of legs, you should have a small movement @ hip, a bit more at knee and then foot is propulsion. Ankles need to be flexible so work on this when at work etc.

Do a wide arm drill for resolution of hand entry. Pretend the hand is entering at 2 and 10 o’clock, the hands will then go forward and not across.

Fists or 0-1-2-3-4-5 fingers to bring into play forearm which is under utilised.

Single side breathing with the lower eye open and upper eye closed, you should not see above the water, if you do, then you are over rotating.

Resolve head position to be more neutral by swimming ‘downhill’, by this I mean, try and push your head into the water, rotating from the neck.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October newsletter

Recent Sessions:
October brought to a close, for a while, the various run and cycle sessions based at Preston Park velodrome, due to the changing weather conditions and the end of the triathlon season, but it has been reasonably busy for other activities such as:
- Swim Video analysis session at Steyning pool on October 6th
- Goal setting seminar at Dragonfly clinic followed by a few ‘end of season’ drinks at ‘The Florist around the corner.

Claire Townsend, Brighton Marina triathlon – wearetri team entries
It was the grimmest of Autumn mornings with an Easterly breeze and very grey skies with cold drizzle. I was one of three taking part as a relay team in the Brighton Marina Triathlon so you can’t let your team mates down even though you know they’re all thinking the same thing about the weather and the very early start.

Teaming up with Zeina Clare and Simon Wickenden we made up one of two We Are Tri relay teams, Simon (AKA “The Shark”) was our swimmer, I was doing the bike leg and Zeina on the 8km run. Having studied the route on agreeing to compete in the race I decided it was time to upgrade my bike knowing full well what those hills were like and having to lap them twice I wanted to achieve a good competitive time so this was the best excuse I had to get a new bike. This would also assist for my biggest race of the season in Cornwall.

The swim started in two waves and the Team swimmers were in the second wave. I waited in transition while the first pack of swimmers came racing through then with a slight pause in the stream Simon came sprinting through almost leading the pack from the second wave! With a swift hi-five transition I headed off on the bike course.

Starting with a sprint along the coast road to Ovingdean before the climbing began, there was a steep up, steep down and up again then we joined the Falmer Road riding through Woodingdean where the hill peaked at the cross road junction of Warren Road and we turned West towards the Race Hill and down Wilsons Avenue which was pretty hairy in the wet conditions. I saw one casualty lying on the grassy verge near the bottom of the hill who was being nursed by the marshals. Now back at the Marina Gate we had to repeat the loop passing Roedean School then one final loop of the coast road with a u-turn at the Ovingdean roundabout sprinting back to the Marina with the wind now behind us.

On return to transition I noticed there were still about half the number of bikes missing, so I felt pleased that I must have ridden a good pace. After racking my bike I ran to tag Zeina to set her off on the run, she shot off like a bullet! We didn’t see sight of Zeina throughout the run as it took an out and back route along the under-cliff walk towards Rottingdean. She had to make up time on the other team racing for We Are Tri as I was over-taken during the bike stage by the other team’s cyclist during the second lap. We waited anxiously on the promenade and eventually saw the bright blue top she was wearing emerge through the murky conditions in the distance. As a team we ran together on the last 200m crossing the finish line 1st out of the relay team entries! It was a great effort all round and we were all pleased with our performances.

Marina Tyndall: My 1st triathlon – Dorney Lake!
After missing the start line for my first mini-triathlon this time last year, I decided, with 3 or 4 weeks’ notice, to take a crack at another. This time, given the equally short pre-race training period, I sought outside help, and was very glad I did. I won’t pass a lie detector test if I say I followed Darren’s personalised training plan to the letter. The major plus to working freelance is flexibility around training times, and the major minus to working freelance…is flexibility around training times. Before beginning work on half a dozen new projects, I’d started the month with plenty of gaps in my diary. I ended that month being lucky if I were able to fit in 3 training sessions a week.

Nonetheless, I particularly enjoyed the training sessions with Darren, both the one-to-one swim coaching at Prince Regent and the group cycle intervals at Preston Park. Working with a small group of individuals with vastly different fitness levels and aims, I marvelled at Darren’s ability to multi-task like a Mexican traffic cop and still co-ordinate task setting and timing feedback for each one of us. The session was essentially cost-effective, shared personal training that showed quick and measurable results all round.

One thing I loved about the transition from run training to tri training was obviously the variety. As my usual schedule stands, I’m inordinately delighted with myself if I fit in the occasional run, so I felt exponentially more badass for doing 3 different sports in the same week. I found that wider variety of activities and more training days than usual also meant greater full-body fatigue, but far fewer localised pains, twangs and niggles.

As is the case for many first-time triathletes, re-learning to swim more efficiently was the biggest challenge in training. That said, from getting tired at around 40m of crawl in Week 1, I could comfortably swim 100m intervals by Week 4, by focusing on better breathing technique and going at a speed I could maintain, as Darren suggested. A trickier task was fitting in open water swimming practice. My preparation for this aspect of the swim amounted to a single abortive attempt at sea swimming on a very choppy evening, and on any future training periods I would make sure to plan open water outings much earlier on in the training cycle.

The Lidl BananaMan Triathlon at Dorney Lake in Eton is one I would highly recommend for a first triathlon event. It was well laid out and run, with great food, and very welcoming for both supporters and participants. We were really lucky with the weather and the beauty of the venue provided an excellent distraction from the task ahead. A week or two before the race, awash in work deadlines, I’d adjusted my planned distance from Half Banana (400m/10k/2.5k) to Banana Split (200m/5.3k/2.5k) and downgraded my race plan from ‘Complete in specific time’ to ‘Cross finish line’. This allowed me to enjoy the last week of training and have a low-stress race on the day.

I don’t recommend heading to the start line with no prior open water practice! Although the Dorney Lake water was a lot calmer than the sea on Brighton beach, there simply aren’t enough swear words in the Roger’s Profanisaurus to describe the water temperature. The shock of the cold made efficient breathing difficult, which had a cyclical effect on swimming technique, and so on. Once out of the water, I was elated. I knew the rest of the race would be much easier, and it was. The swim and the transitions consumed the most minutes. As a runner, I’m still getting used to activities that require kit, and transition is the second thing I’d practice more during race training in future. But I’d felt so under-trained overall, particularly in open water, I was more than satisfied with my first race time of 00:43:03. I’d had a great day and would definitely revisit this race in the future.

Dan Armitage: My 1st ½ Ironman – Carat’s Café!
John Wayne would certainly be pleased with my walk this morning…

Well what a day and what a race. I have to say it was the hardest thing I have ever done but I am so pleased to have finished my first ever tri season with a ½ Ironman. I look back to February 2012, being an overweight Gruffalo, who struggled to get round the Brighton 1/2 marathon course in 2hr 14mins.

Triathlons have honestly changed my life and its one of the most rewarding sports I have ever competed in. Yes rugby is a hard man’s game and amazing for the team aspect and building friendships for life but triathlons offer a completely different dimension to sport. It’s all about you and how mentally strong you are. Endurance sports won’t allow you to rely on anyone else when you are tired. How you perform depends on how deep you dig when the pain is at its worst. Someone asked me this morning how painful does it get and I honestly described it like somebody had stabbed me in the quads and was twisting the knife on every stride. I don’t think I have ever felt pain like it but somehow the mind blocks it out and you keep on going, knowing you cannot quit. Six months ago I would have given up and cried on the curb but now I have belief in what my body can take and I now need to keep pushing that pain threshold higher and higher, so I can actually compete at a much higher level.

Now race preparations weren’t exactly in my favour. I don’t believe in excuses but boy I was tired after only a couple of hours sleep. My amazing son Tom kindly slept in my bed on Saturday night and then decided to cough every couple of minutes. Now I have unconditional love for him but by 3am I was getting a little frustrated. What was even better, my daughter then joined us in bed and then decided to kick me for the next hour or so, whilst she slept like a baby. Now being a parent certainly teaches patience and I certainly swore a few times under my breath but I couldn’t exactly get cross with them when they are both fast asleep.

Anyway onto the race…

So the swim went well (1.2 miles) and I came out in front with a 24 min swim. A month ago I completed 1.2 miles in the sea in 31 minutes but this was just a practice swim and conditions were rough. Gladly the conditions were perfect and the sea was more like a lake yesterday and my adrenaline and competitiveness helped me knock 7 minutes off that practice time. Overall I was very happy with the first leg and I am on target to push for a sub 60 minutes in the Ironman swim.

Transition One went well and I came out just ahead of my mate Alex Abbott. Now Alex is what I call a true athlete. He finished Ironman Austria in 11.01 last year and is looking to break sub 10 hours next year. I knew he would fly past me on the bike and I tried to stay with him for a few miles but he was like a gazelle on his flash “Planet X” bike, whilst I was more like a hippo on two skinny wheels. Anyway we rode from Shoreham to Newhaven twice for a total of 56 miles. Trust me those hills are a killer and I seemed to hit every red light which was rather frustrating. Alex rightly so came in 14 minutes ahead of me and he was well into his run by the time I came into transition Two after 3 hours 20 mins.

Well if you want style and elegance in a transition, you are certainly not going to get it from me. I came in a little too quick, with knives in my quads and I literally collapsed on the floor like a real muppet. Yes not a great look and at this stage I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to run the 1/2 marathon. Gladly after a few minutes and a quick team talk from coach Kurt, I managed to stand up again, re hydrate and eat a few gummy bears . I can’t tell you how demoralizing it is to start running a 1/2 marathon when your legs are totally shot to bits. Every stride was agony and I knew the 3rd place guy was only a couple of miles behind me. He overtook me after mile 5 and now all I wanted to do was hold onto 3rd place.

I struggled on knowing Simon who was in 4th place was a sub 3hr 30min marathon runner. The first lap went ok but was still a lot slower than expected and the second lap was very PAINFUL! I honestly felt I was going to quit but gladly the inner fight kept me going and I somehow managed to get round in just under 1hour 50mins. Simon was hunting me down and only finished 30 seconds behind me, so I am pleased to say I came in third overall, with a time of 5 hours 41 minutes.

Mentally I now know how hard these races are and they deserve 100% respect. I have soooooo much work to do and I need to dedicate the next eight months of my life, to even complete the most gruelling one day race, known as the Ironman. Anyone who completes this race has my respect and I know it will be the making or breaking of me. Kind of scared but kind of excited.

Posted in Newsletter | Leave a comment

September newsletter

Recent Sessions:
August and early September have seen the end of 2 regular sessions plus some further ad-hoc swim sessions at prince Regent:
- As the season draws to a close, I have now decided to run these sessions every fortnight with some repeat clients continuing to improve and complete their first triathlon (well done Marina)
- I will be checking my diary and family commitments and planning a couple more grouped sessions in the lead up to Christmas, these will be cycle and run based and will focus mainly on pace control. Why? We are at the end of the season so now is the time to start to listen to your body and build your base for 2013 (goal setting seminar anyone?)
- I will be working with Nick Rivett Sports to bring out a line of tri-suits for anyone interested in flying the wearetri flag. The tri-suit make/model has not been decided but the printing costs (definitely logo on front and back) will be covered by wearetri.
- I’ve added a new page on the site ‘Roll of Honour’ for those who would like to let people know there recent experiences. A simple list of 1st races, Personal bests etc, find it here and let me know if a) I’ve got things right and b) if I’ve missed anything.

Anne Solley: Great North Run: The One where I gave it some welly!
Darren suggested the coaching programme after I had completed my 3rd Brighton Marathon and I tentatively agreed on the proviso that I’d try it for a couple of months to see if I liked it. Five months later I’m still here and working hard to follow Darren’s workouts.

My run up to the GNR wasn’t the best as my last long run was really tough and I really struggled with the heat which knocked my confidence a bit. Because I knew how tough and busy the GNR route was I didn’t think I’d be able to beat my PB (2:06:26 from Paddock Wood – a very flat course) and travelled up to South Shields thinking I’d be happy just to be quicker than last year’s GNR (2:11:20). Darren sent me a text on the morning to ‘give it some welly at half way’ so I decided to keep this in mind the whole way around.

As I eventually crossed the start line (after 15 minutes ) I was mindful not to start off too fast but despite making a conscious effort I was still going quite a bit faster than I was expecting. Whereas last year I would’ve been slowing down to my ‘expected’ pace, this year I decided to listen to my body more and just keep an occasional eye on my pace and heart rate. I found this really useful, especially when going up the small hills in the first half. My pace constantly surprised me and a couple of times I exclaimed this out loud but decided to keep it up as I was feeling okay. I got to the halfway stage with my watch showing a time that made me realise that maybe I was going to do much better than I was thinking/expecting and that I had given the first half quite a bit of welly. I therefore realised I needed to make sure I gave the second half a bit more welly as I didn’t want to disappoint my coach!! Was a negative split going to possible? I wasn’t sure due to knowing that the road the local/regular runner’s dread was looming ever closer.

The GNR is not really known for being hilly as such, but it’s a fairly tough course overall (and especially compared to Paddock Wood where I got my PB earlier in the year). There are a few small hills and a couple of those long uphill drags that aren’t very steep but can really sap your energy over the course of a half marathon, especially in the second half. Probably the worst of these ‘drags’ is the John Reid Road from miles 8-12, just at the time people are starting to feel tired. This is also a difficult section for overtaking due to the incline with people slowing down and/or walking. By this stage my legs were feeling a bit tired but I was still plugging away and being amazed by the fact I was still managing to go faster than I was expecting and with the exception of about ½ mile I was still running at less than 9.30min/mile and dodging around/ overtaking people by the bucket loads!

After this there’s a short steep bank downhill to the coast road and you’re then on the home straight. The big electronic 12 mile sign is misleading as it is several hundred metres early but I didn’t care. I decided that as my watch was showing such a good time I’d try to step the pace up a gear along the seafront where the crowds were huge and very encouraging. From turning onto the seafront I increased my pace, hoping I’d be able to keep my new-found super speedy pace up. I was surprised by exactly how hard I was pushing myself on this section and kept the ‘give it some welly’ mantra going even as my breathing became ever more laboured and I started to feel really tired. When I reached the finishing strait I realised that I was about to totally smash my PB, which was beyond all my expectations and I crossed the finishing line in 2:03:57 grinning and exclaiming ‘Oh my God’ several times. And from my splits – 1st half: 1:02:20, 2nd half: 1:01:37 – you can tell I succeeded in my quest to give it some welly!

I certainly don’t think this result would have been possible if I hadn’t been following Darren’s plans. Occasionally when reading his schedule for the following week I’d laugh at the sessions in disbelief and think they sounded impossible. I’d then try my hardest to stick to the sessions and most of the time I would. It has helped me become more focussed in my running and also listen to my body, think how I am feeling, and how to push myself hard but in a sustainable way.

Claire Townsend, St Michael’s Mount sprint triathlon
I thought it would be a good idea to do a training beach run at Camber Sands 1 week before the main event, which was a sprint triathlon at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall as part of the Human Race Festival of Sport. The next day I could hardly walk…bad idea! So I spent the rest of the week nursing my legs in hope they would be okay for the weekend.

Arriving in Cornwall we got our bearings ready for the first event on Saturday, which was a 5km beach run starting in front of St Michael’s Mount and heading West along the sandy beach and back again. Feeling very apprehensive about the condition of my legs I took this run gingerly so not to make things worse. It was a fun run through little streams that ran through the sand towards the sea with areas of soft and hard packed sand with lovely scenery and nice still conditions. I was relieved when I made it to the finish still in one piece.

Sunday was race day for the triathlon. It was my first race that involved a sea swim that I had been practicing for in the months leading up. Located in front of St Michael’s Mount on a beautiful still morning the tide was low with a long shallow entry run into the water. Once I was waist-deep I dived in and began to head out on the 750m swim which was a simple out and back course. The buoys were yellow and pretty big but when everyone was wearing a yellow swimming cap, they were tricky to spot!

Out of the swim presented a run up the beach to transition and onto the bike course. With my new bike in hand we headed West along the coast road that was fast and flat. Taking a right-hand turn just before Penzance we headed into the Cornish country-side which started with a long up-hill followed by an undulating, twisting, turning course through the narrow country roads with the odd peacock crossing the road.

A nice decent breeze brought us back into transition and it was time for the 5km run through the village of Marazion which was an out and back course uphill to start and downhill to finish. People cheered from their houses and the atmosphere was great running towards the finish line Amazingly I’d achieved a 5km PB of 23:43 and discovered I’d ridden a quick bike time confirming it was a good investment.

Posted in Newsletter | Leave a comment