Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ironman Training Totals - W/e 31 Jan 2010

My training totals for last week: -

Total Time: - 26:07:54hrs

Swim: - 5:15:23hrs - 13.82km
Bike: - 12:18:51hrs - 424km
Run: - 6:33:40hrs - 80km
Core work & Stretching - 2:00hrs - 180 press-ups, 1500 crunches

Scores on the doors: -
Workouts - 19/23 (only missed extra sessions that I added to the plan - 3 core sessions & 1 extra swim)
Eating - 6.7/10 (Still absolute rubbish, I don't think my goals are too high I just struggle with self control and discipline.)
Sleep - 4.4/10 (What!!!!! Simon, get a grip, get some sleep)

Comments: -
Recovering from chest infection, still on enormous antibiotics until Wednesday, so this week's increased training load was a calculated risk that I seem to have gotten away with.

Yakking greenies every work out but not debilitating and reducing daily, should be clear by Wednesday next week doc says.

Amazingly long bike was just 4mins off my best averaging 35kph over 186k and followed it by a 8.8k interval run where I knocked 1min35 off my previous PB. Next up a new PB for my 32k long/hilly run.

Very good week - now to consolidate with the last 2 weeks before tapering - all quality, no missed sessions, good sleep and healthy eating - come on Simon, you can do it and it'll all be worth it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More on barefoot running

(Courtesy of Mohan the Great)

I have posted a previous article on this subject of barefoot running - click here fore the link. You can also see my conclusions at the end of the post which I found quite entertaining re-reading them.

I've added my conclusions at the end of this post too for what it's worth.



Jury still out on whether barefoot running trend is beneficial
by Mary Beth Faller - Jan. 24, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Running barefoot is as old as humanity. We ran barefoot for thousands of years before shoes were invented.

But barefoot running has become more popular lately, due mainly to Christopher McDougall's best-selling book "Born to Run," which describes the barefoot-running Tarahumara tribe of Mexico and its mystical ultra-marathoning lifestyle.

Though there weren't throngs of barefoot runners at last week's P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon and 1/2 Marathon, more people are interested in barefoot coaching seminars and "barefoot"-like footwear.

The trend can also be tied to a backlash against running-shoe companies that pile on ever-increasing and costly amounts of padding and gel while pulling favorite models off the market to encourage stockpiling.

"One thing that annoyed me about running shoes is that they kept changing," said Andrew Holtum of Phoenix, who runs barefoot. "I'd be disappointed when I'd find a shoe I liked, and by the third iteration it would be something different."

Advocates say that running shoeless produces a more efficient gait, reduced impact and fewer injuries.

Patty Egan, a physical-education teacher and head cross-country coach at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, has her runners go barefoot.

"About twice a week, we have our cross-country kids finish their workout at the football field - the only nice grass to be found - to run 200 to 1,000 meters of barefoot running," she said. "When the foot spends most of the day in a restrictive shoe, the small muscles, tendons and ligaments can weaken from lack of use. Getting out and running barefoot, when introduced in a progressive manner, can give the runner a chance to build the strength back up."

For others, bare feet are more about freeing the spirit.

The guru of the movement, Ted McDonald, known and revered as Barefoot Ted, was featured prominently in "Born to Run," although he has been sharing his passion for au naturel running for years.

"We were not born broken," he said. "So many people have been led to believe that their feet are broken appendages, and (that) if we could have them removed at birth that would be better, but since we can't, we'll cast them up in shoes and await their demise."

Science lacking
Not everyone agrees, including Lewis Maraham, a New York City physician and medical director for the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon. He sees few barefoot runners at the Rock 'n' Roll races.

"You can run barefoot if, from the moment you were born, you never wore shoes," Maraham said. "Running barefoot isn't going to relieve what your parents gave you."

Most people have biomechanical issues to their gait that need to be corrected before they cause overuse injuries, he said. "People need shoes for structure."

American running icon Frank Shorter, who won the 1972 Olympic marathon gold medal, said: "Everyone who's ever looked at my feet has said, 'How do you run?' I was born with very bad feet. I run with shoes."

"Born to Run" author McDougall talked to several experts on biomechanics before concluding that "running shoes may be the most destructive force to ever hit the human foot."

But there's not enough science to prove - or disprove - that. Podiatric groups haven't taken a stand on barefoot running because evidence is lacking, thus there are no definitive conclusions.

David Jenkins, a professor in the podiatric medicine program at Midwestern University in Glendale, recently reviewed dozens of studies.

"Advocates say that barefoot runners have less injuries, but we haven't been able to prove that yet," he said. "My gut feeling is that some of the perceived benefits are real, but I can't say for sure."

Removing shoes would give a runner a shorter, quicker stride, Jenkins said. "There might be less impact but that impact would have to go somewhere, maybe into the muscles and joints instead of the heel."

The most important factor for those who want to try running barefoot is to work up to it gradually, he said.

David Cauthon, one of Jenkins' students at Midwestern, worked on the review of studies and started running barefoot last May, after finishing the Boston Marathon.

"I would go out for a 3- or 4-mile run, and at the end I would take off my shoes and do half a mile," he said. Other than some blisters, he was injury free.

"I had read a lot about how you automatically change your gait to shorten your stride and reduce your impact, and I was still surprised at how quickly that occurred - in the first 50 meters. Your body seems to know what you're trying to do."

A glove for the foot
Jenkins would like to survey runners to see how many run barefoot and why. "That might steer us toward ideas for actual research."

Rather than going barefoot, some runners choose the next closest thing - wearing form-fitted socklike coverings that protect the skin but provide no support. One of the most popular is the Vibram FiveFingers.

Phoenix-based Runner's Den manager Ron French said he has fielded dozens of customer requests for the FiveFingers over the past few months, and the product is so popular that Vibram can't fill orders until March.

"It's created a buzz in the running community, and I think it's a good training tool for people to do foot drills on grass," he said.

As someone who has been in the running business a long time, French has seen the FiveFingers fall prey to the same "cool factor" as other footwear.
"I've already seen people at the mall wearing them."

Barefoot-runner Holtum has taken his footwear into his own hands. He makes running sandals out of utility floor mats from Home Depot, polypropylene rope and duct tape. Each pair, which resembles flip-flops with a heel binding, costs him about $2.

"The design is simple, cheap, consistent and comfortable," said Holtum, 52, an engineer. He can customize the sandals for trails and to compensate for one leg being a bit shorter.

"Running shoes are good at making the foot land exactly the same way each time. It's not about the impact, it's about repetitive motion," he said. "When running with sandals, I'm constantly altering my foot strike to dodge things or compensate for terrain, so every foot strike is a little different than the next."

Holtum said the sandals have helped him to regain the fluid running style of his youth.

"It's quiet. There's no weight on your feet."

Barefoot Ted, whose coaching seminars have exploded in popularity since the release last year of "Born to Run," tells his clients to think about why the bottoms of their feet have so many nerve endings.

"It's to deal with what's happening with grace and form and strength," he said. "It's a joy to run."

Born to Run: Christopher McDougall Says Humans Evolved to Run Like the Tarahumara
By Katherine Hobson
Posted: April 28, 2009

Like many runners, journalist Christopher McDougall got hurt. A lot. And like many of those injured runners, he was told that his aches and pains were a natural consequence of his chosen form of exercise. "Running," one doctor told him, "is your problem." McDougall didn't accept that—especially after reading about the Tarahumara Indians, who live in Mexico's Copper Canyons and run like stink, on shoes McDougall compares to flip-flops. He set out to learn from the Tarahumara. After years of research, he concluded that "persistence hunting"—a combination of tracking and endurance running over many miles at a time—was the human race's original, and best, form of exercise. He chronicles his journey of discovery in Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95). Here's an edited version of our conversation.

How strong is the evidence that we evolved to run long distances?
I'm really leery anytime someone pops up to say we evolved to do X. But [the idea of being evolved to run] is one piece that seems to snap into place and solve a lot of different paradoxes. Several things have been anomalies in sports and science for a lot of years. Why do women get stronger as distances get longer? When you look at a 100-meter dash, a marathon, and a 100-mile race, women go from being out of contention, to in contention, to winning.

Then there was a study done by scientists who tracked the averaging finishing time in marathons. They found if you start running at age 19, you get faster until you peak at 27 and then gradually get slower—but it takes decades for you to slow down until you're where you were when you were 19. Why do old people have the speed of younger ones? Why do women perform so well over long distances? It all tends to congregate on superendurance. These societies needed experienced guys who knew how to track, and young guys to kill the prey. And women with children had to be there, because they need protein the most.

Then there's the architecture of the human body. We are very specialized—we have a ligament in the back of our head [that keeps our head steady when we run]. We have the Achilles tendon [an anatomical spring] and big butts [that keep us from losing our balance when we run]. And when you come up against the Tarahumara, you start to see these weird things—no crime, no violence, no problems with high cholesterol, no depression, almost nonexistent cancer rates.

What makes the rest of us biologically different from the Tarahumara?
They're us, rid of fleshly indolence! They're genetically identical—they have nothing more or less than we have. The only difference is that they're much better practiced at using their stock parts.

A lot of people out there argue against aerobic exercise in favor of short sprints and strength training. Why is it such a heated debate?

People become attached to whatever they believe in. It's almost inarguable that distance running, as a starting point, is good. If you want to add in resistance training—sure! And as far as the way we do endurance sports, I agree [with the critics]. The way we measure how we run is to hit the stopwatch and go hard for two hours. When modern people try to use that technique in a persistence hunt, they collapse. But look at ultra runners. They walk up hills. When you're on a trail, the footing is unsure, you have to leap over trees. The terrain forces you to, on occasion, slow down. I suspect it's much more in line with how our bodies were designed to operate, never going into oxygen depletion or experiencing low sugar. The Tarahumara go very long on very little fuel. They're burning fats, not sugar. And they work as a team. There's this huge schism between running as something natural and this solitary thing you do yourself, as work.

Why were so many doctors eager to tell you that you weren't built to run?
I assumed the people who were giving me advice—running shoe people and doctors—knew what they were talking about. I can pin the tail on the villain and say they absorbed the party line of the sports shoe manufacturers who came up with the logical scenario that impact shock hurts. The disturbing thing is there's no evidence it's true.

So we don't need to go out and buy the most cushioned, expensive shoes?
We're being fleeced. It's a pure marketing and product thing. Modern running shoes let people run with their foot in front of their hips, picking up two feet of stride. You can't do that with the naked foot—it hurts. One of the mysteries out there is that if any shoe in existence really helped prevent injuries, you'd see that in an ad. But you don't. Over and over again, you're told you must go to a specialty running store. They'll say if you're doing something wrong, you need to buy something to fix it.

After I wrote this book I had heel pain. I couldn't shake it for a year and a half. I went to a barefoot running coach, and within 15 minutes the problem was solved. What had happened is that I'd started running with a neutral shoe and had regressed back to my old form—leaning back, landing on my mid-foot. That's what was causing the pain. I've been literally afraid to put on running shoes since then.

Running barefoot may be healthier, say scientists
Runners without shoes land more gently on the ground, avoiding impact injuries
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Thursday, 28 January 2010

During her colourful career as a track and field athlete, Zola Budd was as famous for her eccentric habit of running barefoot as she was for turning her back on apartheid South Africa.

Now, scientists have found that running without any footwear could in fact be better for your legs than jogging in trainers, because it encourages the use of a different set of muscles as well as a different gait that avoids repeated heavy impacts between the feet and the ground.

Wearing modern trainers encourages heavy "heel-striking" between the back of the foot and the ground, whereas barefoot running makes people more "springy" and less likely to hit the ground hard with their feet, it is believed.

The researchers found that running in bare feet – which was until relatively recently in human evolution, the natural way to run – may give better protection against the sort of repetitive-impact injuries caused by striking the ground with a force equivalent to several times a person's body weight.

A study which compared barefoot runners with those who ran in modern trainers found that heel strike was less likely in those who did not wear running shoes. Barefoot runners were more likely to land on the front part or ball of the foot, and they adjusted their leg and foot movements so that they landed more gently on the ground, the scientists found.

"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike. By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shoe runners generate when they heel strike," said Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

"Most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts, but actually you can run barefoot on the world's hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain. All you need is a few calluses to avoid roughing up the skin of the foot. Furthermore, it might be less injurious than the way some people run in shoes," Professor Lieberman said.

The study in the science journal Nature compared runners in the United States and Kenya, where many people have run barefoot since childhood. They found that barefoot runners tend to point their toes toward the ground, giving a spring in their step, compared with those who run in trainers.

Modern running shoes have cushioned heels that encourage landing on the back of the foot, which for a barefoot runner can be painful. However, cushioned heels mean that a typical runner is pounding the ground heavily at a rate of about 1,000 collisions per mile, said Madhusudhan Venkadesan, also of Harvard University.

"Heel striking is painful when barefoot or in minimal shoes because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground. Barefoot runners point their toes more at landing, avoiding this collision by decreasing the effective mass of the foot that comes to a sudden stop when you land, and by having a more compliant, or springy leg," Dr Venkadesan said.

Professor Lieberman said the pronounced arch of the human foot shows that human beings are built for long-distance running. "Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s," he said.

However, he cautions: "Running barefoot or in minimal shoes is fun but uses different muscles. If you've been a heel-striker all your life you have to transition slowly to build strength in your calf and foot muscles."

Simon says: -
So there you have it (assuming you managed to read this far). The conclusions are clear for me: -
1. Stop running on your heels - not only is it damaging it's slow!
2. Run on your mid foot/forefoot but with shoes that offer some protection
3. Short strides, high cadence helps promote this style of running and although may feel strange to start with is definitely more efficient and MUCH faster the longer the distance you run i.e. anything over 5k.
4. I use Asics DS Trainers for racing and have done for years - I run Ironmans and marathons in them and they are brilliant - lightweight and responsive with more than enough cushioning provided that you're not heel striking.
5. Newtons are one of the latest shoes promoting forefoot running - I have tested them and I'm well impressed but you need to be fresh when using them efficiently and to their maximum potential - I wouldn't dream of running more than a half marathon in them (but then I know they'd help me gain a PB in that half marathon so don't dismiss them).
6. Barefoot running (oh yeah, that's what this was about) - not for me thanks, I do believe the shoe companies have been having us over for years and have promoted an unhealthy running style (heel striking) BUT a good lightweight shoe and the correct mid foot/forefoot running gait (which can be learned - I'm living proof) seems to be the best melding of human evolution and modern science.

A post Ironman China beer

I have promised myself just one beer after Ironman China and to make sure everyone is clear and there are no mistakes I have ordered it in advance.

I have also taken the liberty of ordering one for Bryan Payne too - but only one mind you!

Crocodiles in Miri Marina

Not sure if anyone took me seriously when I said I was nervous about the reported crocodiles in the Marina when I did a loan training swim before Miri Triathlon (Click HERE for link). Well check this out - here they are!!!!!

My Heart Rate is at about 200 as I write this - now I'm scared.

Mmm! I'm not saying anything

(Courtesy of Ian [so don't blame me])

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Belated Xmas Day Photos

When you know your dog's a scouser too!

(Courtesy of Steve Dennison)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


(Courtesy of Elaine - very cool)

A one in a million shot...or photoshop - either way I don't care, it brought a smile to my face - thanks Elaine.

Sid & Seb - Birthday morning cutting their cake

I am a bit late getting these posted but couldn't just not show them, I'm too proud of my little angels.

That was a Ben 10 cake by the way, before the boys set about "cutting" it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

South West Airlines Rap - Very Cool

(Courtesy of Sam)

Energizer bunny - Whit Raymond

(Courtesy of

Simon says: - If you've ever had the pleasure of racing when Whit is MCing then you know you're in for a treat. He literally never stops, never seems to miss anyone EVER and puts a huge smile on my face at every Ironman, literally from 5am until the finish. He speaks fluent Japanese, the Japanese contingent must get a huge buzz when he's cheering them on.

At Ironman Malaysia last year, I ran across the finish line with my twins boys and he announced "Now that's how to finish an Ironman" - he said it with passion and sounded like he really meant it. Cool guy - big respect.

At Ironman Hawaii, XTERRA Maui and various other events around the globe people quickly notice the dancing, screaming, jumping and entertaining announcer Whit Raymond. He checked in with slowtwitch.

Slowtwitch: Whit, are you sitting down as we are talking?

Whit: Ha! Yes I am…

ST: Where do you actually reside?

Whit: Napa, CA.

ST: Whenever we see you at races, you seem to be super-hyper. What are you like when you are not working?

Whit: LOL…I tend to have a lot of energy, but I think it is because I am pretty passionate about life and enjoy being alive.

ST: Between triathlons and marathons, how many events do you usually cover a year?

Whit: 26 to 30

ST: If you cover that many events, why do you even need a place in Napa?

Whit: Gotta have a crib to call home somewhere in the world. Napa is not a bad place to have a house.

ST: So where are the best spectators?

Whit: Well Kona ROCKS cause it is the World Championships and so many people from so many countries are there cheering for their loved ones, so there is a ton of incredible energy. XTERRA Worlds in Maui is also an incredible atmosphere with great energy from the crowds. And I think we all know that some of the Euro races really “go off”, but I haven’t had a chance to work those ones yet.

ST: So what do you think it’ll take for you to announce one of these Euro races?

Whit: Maybe if I spoke German. Ha. I don't really know as I haven't pursued those events. I do announce IM UK however.

ST: During an Ironman, how many hours do you actually talk, dance, scream, and jump?

Whit: Once it all starts I can’t stop jumping! Ha! I mean it is all so exciting! I like to tell people we talk for 19 hours. An Ironman is 17 hours. We start talking usually at 5 am if the start is at 7 and then go to midnight. Depending on the event, there may or may not be a bit of down time to chill and eat or pee or something. But usually we are on from the get go until midnight.

ST: How long does your voice need to recover from each event?

Whit: My voice recovers quicker than my body these days. If it’s an Ironman it takes a couple days to recover the voice, but a week or more for the body to recoup from the energy outlet.

ST: Mike Reilly is “The Voice of Ironman”. What title along those lines describes you best?

Whit: First of all, Mike is the man! Secondly, “Title? I no need no stinkin’ title”! Some people have referred to me as “The Voice of XTERRA or “The Voice of Asia”… but again, I don’t need a title. My name is Whit Raymond. That should suffice.

ST: You mostly cover races in Asia, and got your start at Ironman Japan. Is that correct?

Whit: Well No. Actually, the very first announcing gig I ever did was Hawaii Ironman back in 1993. I do announce Ironman Japan and a ton of other events in Asia. I think it is kind of unique that my very first announcing gig was the Grandaddy of them all, Hawaii Ironman.

ST: I have heard you speak Japanese before, so how many languages do you speak?

Whit: I don’t even speak English fluently, but I try. I studied Japanese in school and lived there for 3 years studying and working…so I can handle Japanese and some Spanish. Would love to do more. So how many is that? 2? I would love to speak some Australian. That is a really cool language! I can fake it a bit you know mate!

ST: Many people don’t know that you actually are a pretty accomplished triathlete yourself, including winning the Keauhou Kona Half Ironman twice.

Whit: How do YOU know that? Well those days are over. Back in the day I had my share of athletic accomplishments. Winning Keauhou is up there with some of the things I am most proud of…there were a few other cool things.

ST: Talk about other cool things then if you don’t mind.

Whit: Well I've done Kona 5 times but was never a good Ironman
Distance athlete. Hhmm? 1st amateur at XTERRA Half Moon Bay when I was 40. Won a few races over the years in Japan and The States that I am pretty proud of. That was a pretty long time ago tho. Once my daughter was born in '92 I stopped racing as much and focused on raising her.

ST: You are still looking pretty fit. Do you still compete?

Whit: Really? I Look pretty fit? WOW COOL! Thanks! I still “participate”. I love to swim, bike, and run passionately whenever I can. The travel takes its toll on my body however… I think I discovered the benefits of exercise when I was in college and just have to have it as part of my life. I also love to tele ski, in-line skate, mountain bike, etc…

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Whit: Like what? What else is there? Adventure racing is really cool. I have worked a bunch of Adventure Races over the years and really admire what these athletes can do.
And of course, I always love July because it is Tour de France season!

ST: Talk about your food likes and dislikes?

Whit: Really? Does anybody really care about what Whit eats? Ha! I love most foods. Thai is one of my favs and Japanese of course. I won’t eat chicken.
Just something about it scares me. Tofu is awesome!

ST: What was the last book you read?

Whit: Oh GEEZ…”The Pact” by Jody Picoult. I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho and think I have read all his books.

ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Whit: You know I really don’t like this question. I see myself loving the life I am in everyday, today, next year, 5 years from now, and on down the road. As for work, I trust my body will keep up and I can continue to throw my passion for sport into triathlon and other races around the globe. I also enjoy doing television voice work which I have done a fare bit of with XTERRA. Definitely would love to be doing more of that sort of thing.

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Whit: Nope. Not really. Well, my daughter, Maleana, is graduating high school this June! WOW! Way to go sweetie! I LOVE YOU!

Thanks for thinking of me for this article. I appreciate it.

Swim, Bike, Run, HAVE FUN!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Angela Burkart "freezes" out the opposition

Simon says: - My sister must be a nutter - how cold??!!!! She's a winner though so got to give her that - well done sis.

Angela writes: -

"Hi folks,

just to tell you I won my age group in a cross country race yesterday!! It was one of a series of four races. the last one is next Saturday and since I won two and came second in one it means I have won the series in my age group even before completing the fourth.

The girl in front of me is my friend Claudia who came third in her age group (but came in just before me). As you can see it was pretty chilly :-)



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ironman Training Totals - W/e 24 Jan 2010

My training totals for last week: -

Total Time: - 10:42:45hrs

Swim: - 0:00:00hrs - 00:00km
Bike: - 7:02:42hrs - 236km
Run: - 3:40:03hrs - 35.65km
Core work & Stretching - 0:00hrs - 0 press-ups, 0 crunches

Scores on the doors: -
Workouts - 4/23 (missed most work outs due to lung infection, antibiotics and doctors orders)
Eating - ?/10 (Absolute rubbish, didn't bother scoring - it all went to pot with being ill - no matter, back to it next week - merely a small hiccup.)
Sleep - ?/10 (Didn't score but had lots and lots of sleep - possible too much as it made me very lethargic especially combined with the medication - back to it next week)

Pacesetters 30k (a.k.a. 30Hills)

(Photos courtesy of Jason Lee)

I felt the chest infection coming on early Friday morning during the swim. Tried to take everything easy as soon as I felt it. Friday night turbo - easy. PD long ride on Saturday (relatively) easy (actually I was buggered anyway), brick run after long ride was supposed to be an interval run so to take the edge of that I just did a brisk run rather then the intervals.

Sunday morning came around and it was the annual New Balance Pacesetters 30k. I normally run 32k Sunday mornings so nothing of any great consequence except it was a "race" and as usual it was an insanely hilly course.

With the chest infection I decided to be conservative and literally started at the back at an easy pace with Sam. I had hoped to use this run as a time trial to measure my level of fitness & training against the same point in time last year in readiness for IMMY. Anyway it seemed to make sense to me but was clearly off the cards under the circumstances of contracting the lung infection.

Sam and I were running at a descent pace but still able to chat which made the run extremely pleasant. That was until he had to peel off for a loo break. I picked up the pace fractionally until I got to the 13k mark at which point I notched it up to the next level. The lungs had opened up and I wasn't taxing my chesty cough in any way nor struggling for breath.

I was pretty focused although running with Sam was definitely more fun as the k's had passed by without notice, now I was counting them off one by one. However, having started at a conservative pace I was now passing people at a pretty rapid rate of knots which is always good for the motivation.

With 12k to go I notched it up one final time and was steaming along at probably 4:30mins per k pace. This was still well within my limits and still not causing any undue discomfort to my lungs. The last 3k of this race are "funny", you run right past the finish line and then back to one of the early series of hills and do them again! Nice! Actually I'd anticipated this so it wasn't a problem and the finish soon came.

2hrs26 and some lose change was my time. I was pretty stoked with that as I could have gone much faster had I not been ill and it was only 1 minute slower than last year so a good result after all.

The downside is that the chest infection is still with me, I have taken Monday and Tuesday off work, not because I don't feel well but because I want to avoid air-conditioning like the plague as that will really make things worse. I tried swimming on Monday morning but stopped half way through the warm up and I have done no training since - again not because I can't or don't want to but because....(you won't hear me say this often)...because I'm being sensible!!!! Shock, Horror...did I just say that?

Having had pneumonia twice and both times I tried to train through it (prior to knowing what it was I hasten to add) I know that the sensible path is also the one that will lead me to the least amount of lost training time and also will minimise the amount of repair my lungs will need to go through before they get back to 100%.

I have an appointment at the hospital tomorrow so they'll take some tests and no doubt ply me with antibionics and then we'll see.

Postscript - Yes I know that if I'd been really sensible I'd have stopped exercising on Friday morning as soon as I had the first hint of a problem, but hey, this is me you're talking about...stopping now is a huge leap forward in the sensible stakes.

Post Postscript (1 week later) - I ended up having the phlegm tested in the lab, chest X-rayed and a course of hefty antibiotics prescribed. No going to work for the week, no aircon and no exercise. The doc reluctantly agreed that I could start exercising again on Saturday but nothing too taxing - I read that as an easyish 186k ride to PD and no brick run afterwards. I survived that and then a 32k run Sunday morning but boy, the antibiotics don't half drain you - I felt like a beginner again. I'll swim Monday morning and see how the land lies and take it all from there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ironman Training Totals - W/e 17 Jan 2010

My training totals for last week: -

Total Time: - 28:00:08hrs

Swim: - 6:45:39hrs - 18.26km
Bike: - 12:15:35hrs - 424km
Run: - 6:28:54hrs - 78.1km
Core work & Stretching - 2:30hrs - 225 press-ups, 1875 crunches

Scores on the doors: -
Workouts - 21/23 (missed 2 core work sessions - all of these are additional to my actual plan)
Eating - 8.4/10 (better than last week but still room for improvement)
Sleep - 6.6/10 (again better than last week but massive improvement necessary)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Naked Scientist - New Series on BBC

Check out Dr Chris Wayman PhD, scientist, triathlete, physco-billy, sailor, windsurfer, father, rubber fetish addict, husband and all round Lycra wearing nutter. I happen to know that under his labcoat he was wearing a pink Lycra trisuit. See how he single handedly (with a little help from his friends) discovered Viagra and shared his findings with the world - Click HERE.

All mudslinging, p*sstaking and general abuse aside, I can't begin to express how impressed and proud of Chris I am. He's worked really hard and gotten to a point where he is highly respected in his field of expertise - reinforced by the fact that a mega-company like Pfiser would have him out there doing demos on the Beeb. Huge repect Chris.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dr Chris Wayman PhD

Many of you may tune into Chris' name as he gets quite a few mentions in this blog. He and I met at college and formed a sailing team together called "The Mercenaries". Chris had big hair in those days (he was a physco-billy whatever one of those was). Chris was a wacky "way out there" kind of a guy. But then I left England and his life totally fell apart in the process - he knuckled down to his studies, got his degree and then a PhD. He got married, had kids, bought a house and became the youngest director ever for the drug giant Pfizer. What a disaster, if only I'd been there to guide him.

Chris also took up triathlon shortly after I did and has since kicked my butt in every race we've done together. His way of paying me back for abandoning him I guess!

Anyway, the point of this blog is that Chris seems to becoming a TV star too. I'm not sure if this will lead to the pharmaceutical industry's equivalent of the Naked Chef or Hell's Kitchen but Chris has appeared in the Radio Times (UK's TV Guide) in full colour splendor and will be appearing on TV to demonstrate his "Viagra apparatus" - I do hope it won't be disappointing for everyone (I have seen Chris' apparatus and as I recall it ain't that special. Clearly someone at the BBC thinks otherwise.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Know where you're going in life...

(Courtesy of Ian)

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long." they answered in unison.

"Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

"But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends,
have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs.

We have a full life."

The tourist interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?"

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!

From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?"

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years." replied the tourist.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting,"
answered the tourist, laughing. "When your business gets really big,
you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the fishermen.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast,
sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

And the moral of this story is:

....... Know where you're going in life...You may already be there!!

NFL Fantasy American Football Picks

(Courtesy of Ian)

Cool ad.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chaos at Heathrow

(Courtesy of Disco Dave)

The new security measures at Heathrow have left the airport in complete havoc and left more than once passenger a little rosy cheeked and embarrassed. The decision not to invest in the new all body x-ray machines due to the exorbitant cost and to go with more traditional methods have left some passengers fuming while others have said it's put the fun back into flying.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Overreaching on Purpose: When Too Much Is Just Enough

(Courtesy of, Triathlete Magazine and written by Matt Fitzgerald)

Simon says: - A very interesting article for those of you who think I've gone bonkers and am heading into the realms of overtraining and injury. You might be right but this explains the logic of it. I've added my thoughts at the bottom.

You've heard of overtraining. Overtraining can be defined as a decline in athletic performance caused by subjecting the body to more training stress than it can properly adapt to in a given period of time.

In extreme cases, overtraining becomes overtraining syndrome, a severe disorder of the nervous, endocrine and immune systems that requires many weeks of rest to fully recover from.

Even moderate cases of overtraining can seriously disrupt the training process and thus must be scrupulously avoided. There is, however, a sort of gray zone between training progressively, well within one's adaptive limits, and overtraining—a middle zone that is well worth visiting on rare occasions in the training process.

I'm talking about overreaching, which is a short period of training stress that slightly exceeds the body's adaptive limits but is terminated before it causes the performance decline associated with overtraining.

There is no universally agreed-upon definition of overreaching in endurance sports training. Some coaches actually use the word "overreaching" as a synonym for "overtraining." Others say that you are overreaching anytime you are training hard enough to generate fatigue and a need for recovery.

My definition of overreaching splits the difference. I say you are overreaching when you are training hard enough so that, after seven to 10 days, your performance begins to decline due to accumulating fatigue. But the art of overreaching lies in cutting back your training as soon as you reach that threshold of performance decline in order to give your body a chance to adapt to all of that hard work.

Why Overreach?
What is the rationale for overreaching? It certainly is not a necessary feature of triathlon training. You can get fit enough to race well by merely training progressively—that is, by increasing your training load very slightly from week to week for many weeks, with the occasional reduced-training recovery period thrown in. But effective use of overreaching will raise your fitness to even higher levels.

The greater the amount of specific training you do without exceeding your body's limits, the fitter you will become. Overreaching is simply a way to pack a little extra training into your program through controlled risk-taking. That's why it is widely practiced by elite endurance athletes.

To gain a better understanding of the rationale for overreaching, it is helpful to consider the difference between acute and chronic training stimuli. An acute training stimulus is a single workout that is challenging enough to stimulate improved fitness. A chronic training stimulus is a sequence of workouts in which perhaps no single workout tests your limits, but the sum of them does because your burden of fatigue increases as you go.

Endurance training always relies more on chronic than acute training stimuli because it's the total volume of training that has the greatest effect on fitness. Volume is necessarily limited when individual workouts are extremely challenging.

Strength athletes are often heard bellowing about the need to give 100 percent in every workout and to leave the gym crawling and trailing vomit. Endurance athletes can't do that. Rather, they need to train in a way that gradually reduces them to crawling at the end of each week or training block.

Overreaching is simply a training strategy that puts even more emphasis than normal on chronic versus acute training stimuli. There are hard individual workouts, to be sure, but the real challenge comes from the sheer volume of training that an athlete takes on.

Not for Beginners
Because of their genetic gifts and experience, elite athletes are able to make more liberal use of overreaching than you or I could without risking serious injury. A pro might overreach for three straight weeks on two separate occasions during focused training for a major competition.

Everyday athletes like us should begin with just one week of overreaching in the final weeks of preparation for an upcoming race. If that goes well, you may advance to two and eventually three or four non-consecutive weeks of overreaching when training for future events.

Beginners should not even attempt to overreach. A novice triathlete's body simply isn't resilient enough to positively adapt to a full week of training without any recovery opportunities. If you have less than two years of consistent endurance training experience behind you, it is best that you never go more than three our four days without training lightly enough to fully recover from your most recent batch of hard workouts. Wait another season or two before you try to overreach.

Planning to Overreach
To plan a week of overreaching, simply sketch out a week of workouts that represents the most total training you think you can absorb in seven days without becoming injured or experiencing a severe decline in performance before the week is through. I find that the safest and most effective way to plan an overreaching week is to retain all of the hard training sessions you normally do in a week and replace any and all light sessions with moderate ones.

In other words, when overreaching you need not make your hard sessions any harder than normal—although one or two of them should be a bit more challenging than the previous week's key sessions. What transforms the week from a normal progressive training week into an overreaching week—in a manner that limits risk—is reducing the amount of recovery you are able to enjoy between hard sessions by replacing light days and rest days with moderate workout days.

Overreaching periods should only be done in the latter weeks of training for a peak race, when you are already fairly fit.

Overreaching Aids
Supporting the post-workout recovery process with every available means is always important, but it's never more important than during periods of overreaching, when the most effective recovery method—rest—is taken away. The most effective methods that remain are sleep, massage, stress management and good nutrition with some supplementation if necessary.

Sleep is critical to the recovery process. The more you sleep, the more training you can handle. Runner Constantina Dita-Tomescu of Romania reportedly slept 13 hours a night while training for the 2008 Women's Olympic Marathon, which she won.

In an interview with the Boulder Daily Camera, her coach and husband, Valeriu Tomescu, said, "You want my advice, for the athlete and the coach? Don't care as much about your training as you care about your recovery. Why is that? Because if your recovery is good, then your training will be good. Always."

It is very unlikely that you need 13 hours of sleep a night or could even allot that much time to sleeping if you did. But you should at least make sure you're getting enough sleep during overreaching periods to be well-rested for your workouts.

A new review of scientific research on the effects of sports massage on muscle recovery and subsequent muscle performance, authored by researchers at The Ohio State University, was published recently in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. They analyzed the results of 27 past studies. While as a group they provided little support for the proposed benefits of massage, the authors of the review found that the 10 studies using the preferred randomized controlled design yielded evidence of "moderate" benefits.

Sports massage is one of those things that is very difficult to study properly. To really do the job you need to collect data from a large number of athletes in heavy training over a long period of time, and that just hasn't happened yet.

My hunch is that the effects of massage therapy are numerous but subtle, in some cases almost intangible, and as such they are very difficult for the scientist to recognize even though these effects may well hold the potential to make a worth-the-money difference in helping athletes recover faster, train harder and avoid injury.

One thing is certain: Athletes who get regular massage treatments swear by their benefits. Indeed, Tim DeBoom recently stated that his long-time massage therapist made a significant contribution to his two Ironman World Championship wins.

Stress Management
There are many different types of stressors, ranging from exercise to deadline pressure at work, that affect the body in similar ways. Thus, the more stress you experience outside of exercise, the less exercise your body can handle without breaking down.

Managing your general life stress is an effective way to increase the amount of training your body can absorb. Proven ways to manage stress include spending time with friends, laughter, meditation, avoiding conflict with others (by practicing good communication skills), minimizing commuting time, sex, spending time on a favorite hobby, avoiding overworking and enjoying one or two alcoholic drinks in the evening.

Nutrition and Supplementation
Nutrition provides all of the raw materials that the body uses in recovery processes. Protein from animal foods rebuilds damaged muscle fibers, antioxidants from fruits and vegetables limit post-exercise muscle damage caused by free radicals, omega-3 fats from fish control inflammation, and so forth.

To maximize recovery, maintain a well-balanced diet, be sure you're getting enough total calories each day, and never fail to consume carbs, protein and fluids within the first hour after exercise.

Certain supplements may also promote recovery. For example, Olympian Laura Bennett uses Optygen, a recovery drink rich in the amino acid glutamine, which overtrained athletes lack. Terenzo Bozzone, the 2008 Ironman 70.3 world champion, uses a mixture or herbal and fungal extracts called ARX.

"I started using it eight weeks before Clearwater and it helped tremendously," he says. "I was waking up in the morning and thinking, 'Gee, maybe I didn't go hard enough yesterday, because my legs aren't that sore!'"

Listen to Your Body
In a well-planned and executed period of overreaching, you should experience a gradually increasing level of fatigue from day to day. On the last day of the designated period, you should feel sluggish from the very beginning of the planned workout but still strong enough to complete it without undue suffering.

Olympic marathon runner Brian Sell summed it up in a recent interview in which he described his own experience with overreaching as "a kind of calloused, dull feeling...where I never feel great but I never feel like just stopping and walking either."

If you find yourself in the middle of an overreaching period and feeling that you do need to stop and walk, or that an injury is developing, abandon the plan and take it easy for a few days. Chalk it up to experience and apply the lesson learned to your next overreaching period by making it a little shorter and/or lighter, beginning it in a more rested state or waiting until you are fitter before attempting it.

Simon says: - This certainly all makes sense however I seem to be on a training plan that ignores the need for a recovery period but rather allows the body to decline in terms of performance only for it to bounce back on its own to a new level. The fascinating thing about the prolonged overreaching plan I'm on is never knowing when a session is going to be surprisingly strong and relatively "easy" or a complete struggle and miseryfest - honestly you never know once the deep fatigue has set in.

Burnout and injury are two worrying factors but provided you have a strong enough goal, a strong enough mind and buy into the plan's demand that you never miss a workout for any reason other than injury or serious family issues then burnout is not an issue. (So far the only sessions I've missed are extra ones that I've added to the actual plan).

Injury is another matter and I reiterate what this article says about having many years of training under your belt before you contemplate this type of "risky" training strategy. I have the years and the fitness I think but most importantly I have the experience to sense an injury or potential injury coming on and adapt accordingly.

Regarding the overreaching aids - I never get the time for massage and stress is something I try to shy away from.

Sleep and nutrition are without doubt the two things that I consider super important.

I am a vegetarian and I reckon I eat just about the healthiest and most balanced diet of anyone I know (mainly thanks to Shilpa's amazing skills as a chef). This is especially true from January through March where I give up drinking and this year I've given up pizzas, cakes, cookies, chips, sweets, ice-cream (amazing but true), french fries and come February I'll be giving up all types of caffeine until race morning. I really focus heavily on drinking water nonstop throughout the day too, that is often a missed discipline by many people.

I score myself with marks out of 10 each day for all of the above issues plus overeating, eating too late etc... and record an average score at the end of each week.

As for sleep, this is probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing and the one I'm failing to achieve at the moment. I also score myself out of 10 each day for this and the results are not encouraging but they are there and there's no place to hide so hopefully by doing this scoring exercise I will shame myself into getting more sleep.

Let's be honest, as I've taken the overreaching philosophy to the next level with extended periods of many weeks at a time so the only real opportunity to "catch up" on recovery is during sleep where the body adapts more rapidly than during rest time when awake.

The final little piece to the puzzle I reckon is the scheduling of the workouts. On the whole most similar sessions are kept 24-36hrs apart i.e. running sessions will never be closer together than 24hrs.

All good so far; and yes I am permanently tired but hey I can rest on March 15th.

A big test this weekend - the usual 186k/9k ride/run brick on Saturday followed by Pacesetters 30k "hillathon" run on Sunday. I did an identical weekend this time last year so it will be interesting to see what happens to me this year in terms of physically, mentally and time-wise - should be interesting - stay tuned.

Monday, January 11, 2010

NYC 1/2 Marathon - lottery closed - Need a slot?

Simon says: - Here's an email from our friends at the "Fresh Air Fund" an organisation that helps underprivileged city kids. If you're planning on running the New York Half Marathon and didn't get a spot automatically then check out FAF and look at getting an entry while doing some good for the kids too.

"Hi Simon

Happy 2010! Hope all is well.

I have updated information on the NYC 1/2 Marathon. The NYC lottery closed last night and winners were announced today. The FAF team still has spots available and think interested runners will start researching teams to join if they didn't win a coveted lottery spot. We would be appreciated if you could mention this in an upcoming post or tweet if there is an interest.

Readers can sign up/research further at the Registration Page.

Please let me know if there is any interest.


Ironman Training Totals - W/e 10 Jan 2010

My training totals for last week: -

Total Time: - 26:31:53hrs

Swim: - 5:15:19hrs - 13.72km
Bike: - 12:07:12hrs - 419km
Run: - 7:09:22hrs - 70.9km
Core work & Stretching - 2hrs - 144 press-ups, 1500 crunches

Scores on the doors: -
Workouts - 19/23 (missed one swim and 3 core work sessions - all of these are additional to my actual plan)
Eating - 8.1/10 (mainly due to eating late and not drinking enough water - must do better)
Sleep - 6.4/10 (really really bad, must do much much better, got to get to bed earlier consistently)