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Be a stronger runner this year

‘New Year, New You’! We’ve heard it loads before but what does it actually mean for you as an individual runner? The new year provides both a chance to start afresh, tackle new challenges and set new goals, review and consolidate the good training you may have implemented in 2016.

W13240603_1088938937846415_1548091568490348331_nhen thinking about 2017, runners can be broadly split into two categories: those who get majorly motivated by the statement and begin to plan this ‘New Self’ versus those who cynically think ‘yeah yeah I’ve tried it all before’.

The main reason many runner’s new years resolutions fail is because the goals are often too extreme and the changes unrealistic. However by choosing the correct targets for YOU and planning exactly how you are going to achieve them. By the end of 2017 you could find yourself smugly looking back over 12 months of new years resolutions having come true.

Here are some suggestions from HIGH5 running coaches Running With Us for different categories of runners who are looking for some new year inspiration or guidance.

The raw recruit

Park Blue 5354 croppedRunning has massively grown in popularity over the last few years and as running coaches we see a big influx of new runners into the sport each January. If you are a complete beginner and your New Years resolution is to take up running from scratch then firstly you need to choose an achievable target. A 5k is a great starting distance. The end goal gives your running focus and the training is manageable and not too daunting. Check out www.parkrun.org which might be a great place to start, plan your campaign to get to 5km to last 6-8 weeks and work with a structured plan if you can.

Work out how many times you can realistically fit running or exercise into your week and use this as a basis when choosing a training schedule. The number of training sessions can always be increased as fitness and motivation progress as the weeks go on, but beginning with an unrealistic number of sessions per week can often lead to demotivation due to this being unachievable. Too many people want to go from zero to hero in the first week!

Consistency is key, so if two or three runs per week fits in with your life balance right now and is an obtainable target then stick to this. Regularity of training over a few weeks beats binge training one week and doing nothing the next. If you can link up with a local running club or group who will help to motivate and inspire you to keep progressing. If you are not sure where to start check out www.runtogether.co.uk – there you will find details of groups in your area.

The seasoned campaigner

Training PlanIf you are a more experienced runner you have a choice. Churn out the same routes, runs and races or are you going to finally break that plateau and achieve some new PBs? If so then some changes certainly need to be made…

Sit down with a calendar; consider your goals, injuries, lifestyle and your current fitness and target a race that will allow you the time to peak at your optimum physical condition. For a marathon or a half this might require 12 months, for a 10km you might try to peak twice in a year but give yourself the time to incorporate some of the advice below. This is your macrocycle.

Within this period you should aim to break your year down into smaller chunks that give you the opportunity to develop different elements of your fitness: your endurance, your strength, your speed, your race pace, your taper. These smaller chunks are your mesocycles which typically last 4-8 weeks. Try some periods and races that will take you out of your comfort zone. For example, if you tend to focus on marathons and ultras look to include a phase in the year focusing on short distances and working on your 5-10km time or maybe even get onto the track in the summer. In the winter the cross country season can provide a great way of challenging your body differently.

Analyse what went right and wrong within last years training. Stick to the positive elements but change the negative. This may mean choosing a new and challenging training schedule, finding a coach who can give you fresh advice and structure or beginning training with other runners by joining a group/club.

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The Spring marathoner
If 2017 is beginning with a spring marathon target for you, then let’s get organised and ensure you are on the road to success.

  • Have you chosen a good trustworthy training schedule that will guide you through the next 12 to 14 weeks and is suited to your ability? We have some great training plans here.
  • Have you scheduled in your pre-marathon races? One or two half marathons along the way will provide short and mid term goals and will give you an indication of how your training is going.
  • Are you wearing the correct trainers that have been fitted properly and suit your running needs?
  • Have you found a good trustworthy physio to help you with sports massage, injury prevention and provide an MOT to check for strengths/weaknesses and advise on what to concentrate on in order to get to that start line in one piece?

Have a look at the points above and aim to have them all ticked in order to begin your marathon journey successfully. It is time to get organised and get motivated. You can’t cram for a marathon and it is a process of putting all of the correct ingredients together in order to achieve your 26.2 miles of success!

Make 2017 the year you take control of your running. For nutrition advice for running check out this section: http://highfive.co.uk/high5-faster-and-further/#running.

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Winter Training Blog – Part 2

Winter Turbo Sessions

When winter draws in and the weather gets less inspiring, spending time outside on the bike seems less appealing and sometimes, not possible owing to floods, ice or snow. Turbo training is a great way to keep your fitness ticking over.

The following sessions offer some variety to keep boredom at bay and make the sessions more appealing. You can achieve a lot in a short time. Try to make a turbo session a regular part of your winter fitness programme. However, always get a check up from your GP before undertaking strenuous turbo training sessions. The reason that turbo sessions are so effective is because they are hard!!

Just like the rides you do outside, you should think about fuelling and hydrating. Before you do a high intensive session you need to be in the right state of mind. For additional focus and extra kick you can take caffeine drink like HIGH5 ZERO X’treme or a caffeine gel like HIGH5 IsoGel Plus Citrus.

With no air resistance (except maybe a fan), you will be sweating a lot on the turbo. If you’re not, then you’re not doing it right! The below sessions are all around 1 hour long. Refuelling with carbohydrates is not essential so a zero calorie electrolyte drink like HIGH5 ZERO will keep you hydrated.

Don’t forget to take a HIGH5 Protein Recovery drink straight after your session. We like to prepare it before we go on the turbo and have it ready in the fridge for immediate refreshment and to kick start your recovery. High quality whey protein isolate contributes to muscle growth and maintenance.

We’ve prepared 4 sessions to get you sweating…

Session 1

This session is designed to raise your lactate threshold and help you perform near it.

Warm-up

5 minutes spinning while increasing gearing/resistance, followed by 5 minutes of 10 seconds sprint and 50 seconds recovery.

Main set: 3-6 x 5min with 3min recovery

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Shift to the big chain ring and work hard for 5 minutes. Aim for a heart rate 15-25 beats below your maximum or, if using power, your FTP. The trick is not to go out too hard at the start so that you can maintain the pace for the full 5 minutes.

At the end of 5 minutes, drop back to the small chain ring, drop the resistance and spin easy for 3 minutes.

Depending on your ability/fitness, repeat this work/recovery cycle for three to six reps.

Cool-down

10 minutes easy spinning.

Session 2

This session is designed for building hill strength, as well as mental toughness!

Warm-up

10 minutes easy spinning, including some 10-20 second seated sprints in the second 5 minutes.

Main set: 3 x 6min of ascending difficulty with 2min recovery

Select the big ring but with a moderate sprocket (for example, 22t) the resistance should be at about a third of your turbo’s maximum. Ride moderately hard. After 3 minutes, shift up two gears and try to maintain the same cadence for a further 2 minutes. Finally, shift up another two gears and ride hard for a minute out of the saddle.

Drop to the small chain ring, drop the resistance and recover with easy spinning for two minutes. Shift back to the big ring but this time perform the ‘3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute sequence with two more clicks of resistance.

Recover for two minutes again and then work through the ‘3, 2,1, again cranking it up by two clicks/gears.

Cool-down

10 minutes easy spinning.

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Session 3

This session is designed to develop climbing strength and pacing.

Warm-up

10 minutes easy spinning.

Main set – Up & down the gear block in 1min intervals

Zero your trip computer and select a fairly heavy resistance on the turbo along with your bottom gear (for example, 39 x 25). Ride sustainably hard, remembering you’ve got a long drag ahead and it’s going to get harder before it gets easier. Every minute shift up one gear all the way through the block. By the time you’re at the 11t or 12t, you should barely be turning the cranks. Keep going until you’ve been up and down the entire block twice.

The workout should take 33, 37 or 41 minutes depending whether you have a 9, 10 or 11 speed groupset. How far did you cover? Try to beat it next time!

Cool-down

10 minutes easy spinning.

Session 4

This session is designed to do a bit of everything! Pedalling technique, leg speed, strength, power and sustained effort.

Warm-up

10 minutes easy spinning.

Main Set

10min spin-ups

With resistance and gear fairly low, stay seated and spin up to maximum cadence. Hold the cadence up to 30 seconds and recover at an easy spin for the rest of the minute.

10min mixed climb

Crank up the resistance to high and find a gear that allows you, when working fairly hard, to maintain a cadence of 80-90rpm. Climb seated for 1 minute and then, having clicked up a couple of gears, climb out of the saddle. Alternative between seated and out of saddle riding every minute.

10min big gear sprints

Recover spinning easily for 1 minute at the end of the climb, and then select a high resistance and a big gear. From a standing start, sprint out of the saddle to get on top of the gear and then sit down and maintain the sprint. It should be a 100% 30 second effort. Rest completely for 90 seconds between efforts.

10min time trial

At medium resistance and gearing that allows you to work hard, but sustainably, at 90-100rpm ride a consistent 10 minutes. Try to make your effort constant without any tailing off.

Cool-down

10 minutes easy spinning.

So there you have it, four super awesome turbo sessions to bring pain and suffering back into your training schedule.

Enjoy!

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10 Reasons to join a RIDE IT event in 2017

If you’re looking for a challenge or just need some extra motivation to get out on your bike in 2017 then here’s 10 reasons why you should check out the Evans Cycles RIDE IT series.

1. Explore new areas
RIDE IT events take place right across the country, so offers a great way for riders to explore some new regions with the knowledge you’ll be riding routes designed to take in the best cycling those areas have to offer. There are some real bucket list riding spots on the schedule that every cyclist should experience at least once; Such as the Yorkshire Moors, Brecon Beacons, Peak District, North Wales and South Downs to name a few.
2. Ride with others
Sometimes things are better together and that’s definitely true for cycling, whether it’s the friendly encouragement to get over that hill, the thrill of riding in a group or the wheel that brings you to the finish when your legs are tired, you’ll usually find some new RIDE IT friends along the way.
3. Try another cycling discipline
RIDE IT events feature a choice of road sportives, off road MTB rides and increasingly popular mixed terrain Sportive Cross rides aimed at those with cyclocross or adventure road bikes. If you only ever ride on the road or you’re a die-hard mountain biker that never ventures on to the tarmac you could be missing out on some of the fun so why not set yourself a goal to try something different in 2017?

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4. A day out with the family
At all the RIDE IT events kids under 16 can ride for free when accompanied by an adult so they’re a great way to get the family out on their bikes and enjoying a ride together. At many of the events there are fun route distances of around 15 miles that are ideal for novice and younger riders.
5. Set yourself a challenge
One question the RIDE IT team often get asked is “Am I good enough to take part”? With this in mind the event series is designed to cater for riders of all abilities. The events feature a range of route options which make it easy to find a challenge that’s suited to your ability whether you’re a novice or experienced rider. There’s everything from 15 mile fun rides and local rides from Evans Cycles stores rides right up to 100 mile plus epic challenges such as the King of The Downs.
6. Ride with an Olympic legend
Riders taking part in the HOY 100 sportive could find themselves riding alongside Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy. The ride is based in Cheshire and features a choice of 100km or 100 mile routes that offer a great mix of flat and fast lanes across the Cheshire Plains as well as some challenging climbs on the edge of the Peak District.
7. Be king for a day
For those looking for a real challenge then the King of The Downs is the flagship event of the RIDE IT series. It’s harder, longer and hillier than the rest, offering cyclists a chance to test their legs against some of the toughest hills in the South East. The 115 mile route has over 9,000 feet of ascent and takes in 10 iconic climbs that will be familiar to many cyclists with them having featured in events such as the 2012 Olympic road race route and the RideLondon-Surrey Classic.
8. Well stocked feed stations
Every cyclist knows a decent bit of cake can make a ride. The cherry loaf and lemon drizzle at the RIDE IT feed stops gets regular compliments from participants. As well as the cake the feed stops are supported by HIGH5 so there’s a selection of their sports nutrition products alongside a range of regular food on offer to fuel you to the end of your ride.
9. Mechanical back up should things go wrong
Hopefully your ride goes smoothly and you never need the services of the support van but it’s great to know that should you have a mechanical or your legs just decide they’ve really had enough then there’s someone to call on to come your aid. Often they’ll be able to fix mechanical issues at the road side so you can continue your ride but if not they’ll bring you and your bike back to the event centre.
10. Enter early for some HIGH5 freebies
The RIDE IT series is supported by HIGH5, not only are the feed stops well stocked with HIGH5 sports nutrition products, all riders who enter an event more than 8 weeks in advance can claim a free HIGH5 Bottle pack at the event.

For more information on any of the RIDE IT events visit – http://www.evanscycles.com/ride-it

To find out how you and a friend can win one of five pairs of free entries to an Evans RIDE IT of your choice, simply click here.

 

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Tips on becoming a better mountain biker

Looking to improve your off road skills? We asked Jurgens Uys of Kargo Pro MTB team for his tips on the best way to quickly develop the techniques you are going to need to light up the trails.

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  •  Ride with people or friends that are faster and more technical than you, this will help you to explore your limits and ride outside your own comfort zone. Push your boundaries.
  • A good technique is to stick on the wheel of someone you know to be faster than you and try to hold on for as long as you possibly can. This technique will really help to make you fast on the single tracks and will increase your skill level quickly. This will also teach you how to take better lines and when to break and when to just let go and ride fast.
  • For those times when you don’t have friends to ride with regularly, use Strava and go ride down a technical single track. Create your own single track segment and repeat it a few times over, each time pushing yourself to beat your previous time. This is one of the best ways to test yourself. Remember to save and record all your data to see if you are improving or not.

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Endurance Tips and strength

  • If it is not base training season don’t waste time doing very long rides, you will find that doing this just tires you out and makes you a bit slower on the explosive side of racing.
  • Make sure you do your intervals properly and give them your all. It’s important to ensure you recover fully after these tough sessions. Drink HIGH5 Protein Recovery as soon as possible after your workout and take a rest day afterwards. You can’t build on your fitness if your body has not recovered completely.
  • Get on your mountain bike every now and then and simulate your race pace. Try doing some time trails, go as fast as possible but sustain effort as you would in a race to make sure you reach the finish line. Your body needs to get use to riding the fast pace for longer durations, while really pushing your limits.
  • Work on your weaknesses! If you are not good up hills then spend more hours on the hills. If your downhill skills need more attention, then you need to head out and ride the downhills and push yourself further each time. Remember to vary your downhill training to include fast cornering, technical sections and smooth fast sections. Speed is your friend and momentum is key.
  • To be a great mountain biker you need to be an all-rounder. Aim to excel in every aspect of mountain biking: up hills, downhills, flats and technical riding are all important facets in the sport and each facet should be trained individually as well as together.14482270_316138165437313_2143478191564521472_n1
General Tips
  • Write down your dreams and goals. Stick them up and remind yourself of them daily.
  • Always stick to your training program, don’t skip due to bad weather. Go out in the cold and wet because it will make your appreciate the good days.
  • Remember it is important to look after your own health and body, but make sure you look after your equipment as well. If you look after your bike it will look after you.

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MTB: 5 tips on how to improve your speed

Going fast off road can be a work of art if you get it right. If you don’t you could be spending a lot of time going into rocks or trees! We spoke with #HIGH5fuelled Kargo Pro MTB Team to get some top tips to help you hit your next trails. So what can you do to go faster off road?

1. Picking a line:01
This is the most important thing when it comes to negotiating that gnarly downhill. Firstly, your line of sight should not be directly looking down at your front wheel, but rather a good few meters ahead of you. You want to be able to plan what you are going to do before you arrive at that first rut or rock.

Secondly, look for the line that’s going to make your life easiest. For example, if you have a choice between a tight squeeze in-between two rocks or a ride-able line over one of them to the side that might require a bit more momentum, opt for that line over instead. It could save you ripping off your derailleur and allow you to keep up your speed rather than slow right down.

If you are constantly looking down the trail, you will almost always be able to anticipate what you need to do. If  you ever get in a situation you did not plan and it has caused you to completely deviate from that plan you had, don’t panic. Just let the bike find its own flow, stay relaxed, control your speed with your rear brake and gently revert back to the first step. Picking good lines comes with experience, so the more you ride, the better you will get at it, until it becomes second nature.

2. Climbing Switchbacks:
When it comes to climbing switchbacks or 180 degree uphill turns, line choice is still very important. The idea with a switch back is to make room for yourself. Switchbacks are normally so tight that you always want to be hugging the outside of the trail when coming into one. For example: if it is a left turn, come into the switch as far to the right of the trail as possible. This will now give you as much space as possible on your left side to play with. You can now point and steer your bike into the turn giving yourself the most space possible to find the most graceful line.

Avoid standing going into the switchback. When you are seated your weight is already nicely centred over the bike. This will make sure you have have grip on the back wheel and weight on the front wheel, reducing the chance of wheel spinning. Once you’ve made the tight turn you can then go as fast as you like up the climb until the next one, where the above applies once again.

033. Build an aerobic base:

Winter is fast approaching and so are the December holidays. Use this time wisely and instead of dropping your riding buddy up every climb, use it to get to know your mate better. Ride together at a constant, steady speed. Give your heart an opportunity to beat regularly and steady for long periods of time. This is sometimes refereed to as ‘TITS’ or  Time In The Saddle.

Let your heart pump like a diesel engine at a steady 2000 rpm. Your body is going to get stronger while operating in this state. Building more capillaries to support this steady flow of blood to your muscles. This can be thought of like giving your car engine more valves. More valves mean more horse power when it’s time to light a fire on your mate in the new year.

4. Hold the Power04
When the new year arrives put those ‘TITS’ into practice and start getting the newly upgraded engine into the power phase. Practice holding the intensity for different durations with time to recover between each interval. Alternate what you do in the week and choose a day to do interval sessions on the flats and a day to do them on a climb.

If you are looking to become more explosive, intervals of 30 seconds to 2 minutes is a good duration. If you are wanting to burn off your competition on a longer climb practice holding the power for 4-8 minutes on repeat. Keep this sort of training session to around 90 minutes. Short and sweet.

5. Get a bike fit by a professional:
The most important step in the whole equation. None of the above is really relevant unless you’re sitting on your bike optimally. Weight distribution and power transfer are some of the most important factors when it comes to riding your bicycle efficiently and with style.

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What do you eat and drink if you swim for 26 hours?

On August 30th at 0727 Scott Dawson jumped into the Solent just off Seaview, touched the red can and set off on an epic swim attempting to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight non-stop. On August the 31st at 0923, he reached the same red can, touched it and became the 5th person ever to swim solo around the Island. A time of 25 hours, 56 mins and 46 seconds was recorded with a distance of 104.7 kilometres.

05HIGH5 kept Scott fuelled and hydrated for his training and the attempt. We caught up with Scott post swim, and asked how important HIGH5 had been, and what he had used before, during and post swim.

How much training did you do in the lead up this monumental effort?
I have been training for about 18 months, and using HIGH5 since the beginning of 2016. My weekly average was about 18 hours a week, juggling training, a full time job and a family. With this in mind, recovery from training is really important, and I found the Protein Recovery vital to my recovery strategy (Banana Vanilla flavour of course!).

What was involved in the training?
I would run on average 50-60 km per week and swim about 6 hours a week as well as going to the gym for strength and conditioning. Whilst running I use a combination of the EnergySource and Isotonic especially if it was hot. If it was endurance work, then I would use the Energy Source 4:1, as this gave me the extra protein my body craved.

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What did you eat/drink in the lead up to the swim?
I did the usual carb loading prior to the main swim, and cut out fibre about 4/5 days before. I was aiming to be in a wetsuit for around 24 hours, and this was going to reduce the chances of any accidents! I ate the banana flavoured EnergyBars, and drank ZERO, to make sure my electrolyte levels were as good as they could be.

So, swimming for over 24 hours means you have to eat and drink in the water. How was that?02
The team said I looked a bit like an otter when I ate! I would take something in every 30 mins and fluid-wise, I alternated between EnergySource and Isotonic. We marked the bottles at 250ml intervals, and I made sure this was the minimum I was taking on. This way, I and the team knew what hydration I was taking on, and we could monitor it really well. As I wasn’t allowed to touch anything or anybody, the kayakers would just throw the sport bottles to me, and I would throw them back. Occasionally I would use the EnergyGels in the HIGH5 gel bottles. Food wise, I would eat the Energy Bars, homemade beetroot brownies, bananas, mini Babybel and jelly sweets. These were delivered on the end of a paddle! My wife Polly also made chicken noodle soup for the ‘mealtimes’. This was the only ‘warm’ food I took on, and it was difficult 18 hours in to the swim as my mouth had swollen up, because of the salt water.

What happened post swim?
When I climbed into the medical boat at the end of the swim,I drank 800ml of the Protein Recovery. This really settled me, before my wetsuit was peeled off me. As soon as my wetsuit was taken off, my blood pressure dropped like a stone, and I passed out. The medical team knew this was going to happen, and I am so glad we had professional people on the team.

Scott is still raising money for Meningitis Now, and The Marine Conservation Society. To donate online go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ScottSwimIW
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 Don’t forget to enter our latest competition for your chance to win a Zone3 wetsuit and a HIGH5 nutrition bundle!

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How to save time in transition

It’s difficult to knock 60 seconds off your 10km run time in a triathlon. We spoke to Mark Buckingham, former British Elite Triathlon Champion and four times British Duathlon Champion, on how you can save time in transition.

The transition is known as an integral part of a triathlon, you can gain valuable time with a little bit of practice and forward planning. There are a few pieces of equipment that you need to have with you on race day in order to have a super fast transition. Believe it or not, the following items are used by some of the best triathletes in the world:

  • sellotape
  • elastic bands
  • elastic laces
  • baby oil
  • talcum powder

Ahead of the race, my general routine would be as follows: place my bike, helmet and shoes in transition, then walk the transition area so I can familiarise myself with where my bike is once I run out of the swim.

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EnergyGel: Next, I place an EnergyGel on my bike (this can be done before you rack too). I’ve seen lots of triathletes place a gel on the floor next to their bike and then transfer it to the pocket of their tri suit once they get out of the water. This is the first place to save time! Instead, a better method is to attach the gel to the top tube of your bike with some sellotape so you can just grab it when required during the bike leg.

Tri Shoes 02croppedTri Shoes: Next step. Place your tri shoes on your bike by clipping them into your pedals, with the velcro unfastened. The tried and tested pro method is to use an elastic band to hold the shoes horizontal, making it easier to place your feet on. You do this by looping an elastic band around the heel of the shoe and around the rear wheel skewer (for the left pair), and the other band around the bottle cage or front mech bracket. Note: Try to use a thin elastic band so that once you start to pedal the band will snap easily.

Running Shoes: For the fastest possible transition use elastic laces run shoes 04 croppedon your run shoes so you don’t waste time tying them up. Practice putting your shoes on a few times before your race to make sure your laces aren’t too tight and that you know how to position the tongue of the shoe so it doesn’t rub. Putting a bit of talcum powder will ease the foot into the shoe.

Now you should have all your equipment set up and it’s time to put your wetsuit on. A big time saver here is to use baby oil to get the wetsuit on quickly. Once you’ve got the wetsuit on, roll the legs and arms up a few inches and rub some baby oil on your skin. This allows the wetsuit to glide off a lot quicker when you come to take it off.

Other notable time saving tips in Transition:
  • Practice fastening and unfastening your helmet. On race day when you’re under pressure, and just completed a swim, it’s an easy thing to get wrong if your haven’t practised it. You can now get helmets with magnetic clasps that make it even easier.
  • Take a note of your racking position. It can be difficult to spot your number and bike in a line of 100’s of other bikes so use nearby reference points i.e trees, banners, sign posts etc.

Good luck and remember, practice makes perfect!

Follow Mark on Twitter

 Don’t forget to enter our latest competition for your chance to win a Zone3 wetsuit and a HIGH5 nutrition bundle!

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Top tips for preparing for an IRONMAN (last 4-6 weeks)

Ahead of a big event like a long distance triathlon, there can be the temptation to over do things in training. You might also start to worry that you’ve not got everything ready that you might need. With so much to think about it can be easy to miss something. We spoke to multiple IRONMAN champion Lucy Gossage recently to find out how she prepares in those last few weeks and what are her top tips to make sure you turn up on the start line fully prepared for your Ironman.

Training

  • Don’t do too much too close to the race. Your biggest run and bike sessions should probably be 3 or 4 weeks out. Unlike exams, cramming in extra training as the race gets close won’t work! You’re much better going into an IRONMAN 10% undertrained and fresh than 10% over trained and injured or tired. Believe me, I’ve tried both!
  • If you have a chance to ride the course that’s always useful, though this is only really possible for local races.
  • Work out a training plan for the final two weeks and stick to it. That way you’re less likely to get carried away and do too much.
  • Expect to feel rubbish as you taper. I always feel as though I’m getting ill in race week and am convinced any niggles I have are getting worse. This is normal. Try not to stress!

Mechanical preparationLucy bike1 cropped

  • Get your bike serviced two weeks out. Make sure gears and brakes are working and if your tyres are worn consider replacing them. The last thing you want is a puncture on race day.

Psychological preparation

  • Spend a bit of time remembering why you’re doing the race. Think about what it will feel like to run down that finish line! It’s normal to be nervous and a little scared; nerves mean that you care.
  • But try to channel the nervous energy into excitement. Perhaps find a YouTube video of last year’s race. Think about all the training you’ve done. Nobody has a perfect run into an IRONMAN. Put all the obstacles behind you and just focus on the positives. Getting to the start line of an IRONMAN is an incredible achievement. Allow yourself to be proud!
  • Think of some mental strategies that will help you going when the going gets tough. Every IRONMAN has dark patches. That’s what makes reaching the finish line such a wonderful achievement! I often think of a song, or some ‘buzz words’ that will help me when I’m hurting physically.

Nutritional preparation
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  • Work out a nutrition plan. Nutrition really is the 4th discipline of an IRONMAN. If you get this wrong, no matter how fit you are, race day will be tough. I go as far as writing down a plan that calculates how many calories I need every hour during the race and how I am going to consume them. Make this plan far enough out from the race so you have a chance to try it in training.
  • Think about how you’re going to carry food on the bike. HIGH5 EnergyBar and EnergyGel are a great source of portable carbohydrate energy. Do you need a bento box to carry these?
  • How much are you going to drink? Have you got enough bottle cages? If you are relying on the race aid stations have you tried the nutrition they’re giving out and checked it works for you? How are you going to get electrolytes? Having an electrolyte drink that also contains some carbohydrate, like EnergySource in your bottle is a great way to ensure you stay hydrated. you can even add an extra ZERO Neutral tablet for extra electrolytes if it’s a hot day.
  • Are you going to race with caffeine? If so, when will you use it and how will you have it?
  • Do you have a back up plan if you drop your nutrition during the race? When it comes to nutrition for an IRONMAN it pays to be a geek!
  • There are a lot of questions when it comes to nutrition. Check out this video I did with HIGH5 where we go through a nutrition plan for a long distance triathlon.
  • In the build up to the race try to ensure you eat well. I would never recommend trying to lose weight just before a race; that will just increase your odds of getting ill. Instead focus on a balanced diet, and particularly focus on fuelling well after training sessions.

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Race week preparation

  • Consider having a couple of sports massages in the run up to the event. I usually get my last one on the Monday of race week.
  • If possible try to avoid hectic long days at work and make sleep a priority. You are unlikely to sleep well the night before the race so make sure you catch up on sleep before then.
  • Check your equipment is working early on in race week. That way, if you have any issues you have time to sort them out.
  • Make sure you’ve had a good look at the race paperwork. Have Tenby_13_2319you looked at the course maps? Do you know the rules, particularly in terms of drafting on the bike.
  • Make a timetable for the race weekend, both the day before and race day. Having the logistics worked out takes away a ton of the stress that can be associated with racing, particularly if there are split transitions. There’s often a lot to do the day before the race with race briefings, bike racking, sorting out equipment etc. Work out how you’ll fit it in.
  • What’s the weather forecast? Do you need waterproofs or extra layers for the bike? What about suncream?
  • Cut your toenails!
  • Plan what you are going to do for food, particularly the night before the race and in the morning. Do you have cooking facilities? If not consider booking a table at a restaurant that serves appropriate food so you ensure you can eat what you want when you want. What will you do for breakfast on race day? A tin of rice pudding with honey is portable and can be eaten anywhere in the world (remember a tin opener!). The day before the race make sure you carry some fluids and snacks with you so that if logistics take longer than expected you don’t get hungry and thirsty.
  • Walk through transition and make a mental note of where your bike and bags are racked. You don’t want to get out of the water and waste time and energy trying to find your bike!
Last but not least, try to enjoy the build up and congratulate yourself on getting to the start!

Don’t forget to enter our latest competition for a chance to win an IRONMAN entry to an event of your choice!

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Picture by Lesley Martin 27/05/12 Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2012. Pictured are runners in the half marathon.

How to train for a Half Marathon Part 2: Peaking

This is the second part of our half marathon special from HIGH5’s Running Experts, RunningWithUs. It covers the second phase of your training in the build up to the big day with top tips on running economically and staying healthy.

If you missed part one of our half marathon special you can find it here: http://highfive.co.uk/half-marathon-part1/

Peaking, specifically
The crucial phase 4-6 weeks from race dayPark Blue 5354 cropped is when you will start to really push your training forward as you see the fitness gains from those early foundation weeks bed in. Consider some of our top tips for these crucial weeks:

The economy matters
‘Running economy’ in simple terms relates to the energy demand and how much oxygen you need to run at your given race pace. Through careful training you can run your desired race-pace whilst minimising energy or oxygen consumption. Include some race pace efforts into your long run. Testing your energy systems by running your planned race pace towards the end of your long runs can be a great way to improve your running economy.

Try these sessions:
A) 1hr 45 minutes with the final 60 minutes run as 3 x 15 minutes at half marathon pace with 5 minutes recovery
B) 21km with the final 10km as a 10km race at half marathon pace
C) 25km run as a progression of 5km easy / 5km half marathon pace / 5km easy / 5km half marathon pace / 2km hard / 3km easy

Use your week
It can get tempting to focus on your long run as the key measure of your fitness before your half. In fact using your midweek runs cleverly in these crucial weeks will have as much of an impact as the long run. Break your routine of just easy and steady mid-week efforts by getting out and trying something with a bit more quality.

Try this: If you are short on time around work, focus on quality. A lot can be achieved in a 45 minute run! 15/15/15 is our favourite for a highly effective, short mid-week session – that’s 15 minutes easy, 15 minutes steady, 15 minutes at 3-4 word answer effort. Or 45 minutes with the final 25 at half marathon pace. You could even try an interval session, such as 8 x 3 minutes: run the odd numbers at a little faster than half marathon pace, the even numbers at 5km pace and take 75 seconds for recovery.Training Plan

Stay healthy
These crucial last few weeks can be a delicate time. You will be fitter and stronger but also carrying some fatigue and soreness from training. It can be tempting to keep pushing, adding more volume, but you may find that you are regularly picking up niggles, or getting sick.

Top tip: Cross trainers, rowing machines and aqua jogging can supplement your running and even replace sessions if you are injured. Maintain the same time and effort levels as your running plan. Use a heart rate monitor to hit the same efforts your would if you were out running. Also ensure you are recovering well immediately after hard sessions. Consider using HIGH5 Protein Recovery in the crucial 10-20 minute window after these harder sessions which will help stimulate and promote the recovery process.

Race
Don’t get daunted by the volume and the goal. 12-16 weeks of training can seem a lot, so try to break down your half marathon goal with intermediate target races. This will also allow you to get used to running around other people and learn the patterns and routines you will want to replicate on your main race day.

Top tip: Enter a 5km race, perhaps a parkrun, 4-6 weeks into your plan. Then try a 10km race, 3-4 weeks before your target half marathon. You might even consider running a 10km race at your planned half marathon heart rate, with 20-30 minutes easy running before, and 20-30 minutes easy after the race to make a tough, but confidence building long run. Racing in training is also a great time to practice your race day nutrition. Using HIGH5 EneryGels at the start and half way through your 10km, will help you feel confident and strong with your strategy on race day itself. Also check out our half marathon nutrition guide.

MR&WR_Running Pairs_Portugal052Sharper, fresher, faster
Tapering simply means cutting back your training in a planned way to ensure you arrive at the start line fit, strong and fresh. We recommend maintaining the pattern of training you have established through the last 10-16 weeks of your training. So if you currently run 3, 4 or 5 times a week, continue to run 3, 4 or 5 times a week in the final two weeks before race day. Combining a familiar pattern of training with a reduced volume and a drop in the intensity on each run, you will find you can build up your energy levels without getting rusty.

Try this: Aim to reduce the volume of your training by about 30% two weeks out from race day, and to about 50% in race week itself. Also check out our article on tapering.

Sleep your way to success
When you sleep, your body moves through different sleep cycles. The magical, deep sleep phase is when growth hormones are released. This will help you recover from your training, build more muscle and help cellular regeneration. However it takes several hours to get to this phase of your sleep so if you are regularly getting less than 8 hours a night you are limiting your body’s ability to adapt to all the hard miles you have put in.

Try this: Aim for 20-30 minutes more sleep a night during your taper. Banish smart phones, tablets, TVs etc from the bedroom. Limit big meals, alcohol and caffeine late at night and aim to get into a good, regular pattern of early nights in the final days before racing.

DSC4728 croppedGet sharp
Whilst you want to arrive at the start line fresh, it can be easy to cut back too much and feel rusty and sluggish when the gun goes off. Aim to maintain some lighter faster sessions in the final two weeks to keep the legs moving!

Try this: On the Saturday 7-8 days before your race, consider having a go at a parkrun. Aim to run hard and get the legs moving. This will build confidence and help you to remind yourself of your pre-race routine.

Fuel
You body needs good stores of carbohydrate to race well over the half marathon distance. Ensure that your not getting hungry at any point in the final 3-4 days before the race and digging an energy hole for yourself.

Try this: Monitor your fuel intake closely and aim to snack every 2-3 hours on high quality carbohydrates. HIGH5 Energy Bars can be a great option if you feel you are struggling to get solid carbohydrates in. HIGH5 Energy Source is another great option in the final two days before the race to top up those energy stores.

Take away tips:
  • Build up your strength
  • Include a threshold run once a week
  • Be patient with your training and increase gradually
  • Increase your running economy
  • Cut back in the last few weeks, but stay sharp

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Surviving a long ride

Are you looking to step up your distance when cycling? Five or six hours on the bike can seem like a huge physical challenge so we caught up with Team Dimension Data’s Daniel Teklehaimanot. The winner of the king of the mountains jersey at this years Criterium du Dauphine has some top tips on how to survive a long ride.

What effort is best to ride at during a long ride?
When I prepare for breakaway days I do long rides with many climbs. Cycling / Radsport / 73. Polen Rundfahrt - 5.Etappe / 16.07.2016On these climbs I focus on trying to ride close to my threshold power or just below depending on the length of the climb.Tackling a high number of climbs in a single long ride is not only going to help you with your climbing but also help to reduce the recovery time you need in-between the hills. An easy way to gauge your effort is the talk test. If you can talk to your fellow riders without issue, your pace should be sustainable. If it starts to become difficult to keep talking, you should ease off a little.

How do you mentally prepare yourself for a tough day in the saddle?
You need to know what you will face during the day and then you plan according to the terrain you will be facing. Knowing the route is very important. This will help you to divide the route into shorter sections. Most riders find it helpful to give themselves a goal to achieve in each section. Remember to enjoy the experience, there are some fantastic views to be taken in, especially at the top of a climb.

What training sessions will help improve my endurance?
Like I mentioned before, training to the demands of the race gets you physically and mentally ready. You will need to gradually increase your distance over time during training. For example, ride 3 times a week for as long as you can, you will soon find that your time in the saddle increases as your body becomes more comfortable with the distance. I also like to do multiple climbing intervals during a day in order to prepare my body.

D5B_6388Is nutrition important? What do you eat and drink on the bike?
Yes. First thing is to make sure that you are already well hydrated before you start your ride. During training I like to keep it simple and have water (with a ZERO tablet) and maybe an EnergyBar. If I’m doing a long hard day I will have EnergySource and a few EnergyBars to keep my energy levels high. It’s important to remember little and often is the key with your nutrition during a ride. You should aim to take a bite of your energy bar every 20 minutes or so. You should also be looking to drink around 500ml every hour. This should be increased in warmer weather.

What should I carry with me on the bike?
You should always plan for the worst. It is advisable to pack tools and kit to fix two punctures. I would also recommend taking a phone with you in case you need to contact someone. Some money for a coffee break is also a good idea.

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What other tips do you have that will help me prepare for a big ride?
Prepare all your equipment before the ride and make sure everything is in place. Make sure you have enough energy drinks, enough energy bars and gels if need be. Keep an eye on the weather especially in winter when there is a good chance of rain. Always be prepared for the worst weather conditions.

 

Images: Stiehl Photography & Gruber Images

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