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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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winter running

How to survive the winter running

Keeping yourself motivated when the weather turns cold and dark is the hardest part about being a runner. Running can start to feel like a chore. A mental barrier appears with numerous excuses stopping you from lacing up and getting out the front door. If this is you, then you aren’t the only one! We all have these mental battles, however it’s how you deal with them that matters. Plan your day accordingly: plan what time you are going to run and stick to it! Write it down, meet a friend, tell your partner when you’re heading out. Being this disciplined will keep you training and motivated.

2Staying warm is key! Make sure you don’t have the “it’s too cold to run” excuse lined up. Base layers, thermal tights and a jacket will keep you warm and dry. Make sure you are seen when out running in the dark, so a head torch is a must as well as highly visible kit. Not only does it keep you safe but also saves you from unseen potholes and puddles of water that you’re likely to run through.

Having enough energy to run can be the difference between a ‘good run’ and a ‘bad run’. You don’t want to come home from work, having to then force yourself to get out of the door lacking energy, feeling hungry and tired. Snacking between main meals is crucial to maintaining blood sugar levels throughout the day. A HIGH5 Protein Hit (Peanut & Caramel, Cacao & Orange, Coconut, Lemon & Raspberry) mid-afternoon is a perfect pre-training snack. It provides a good balance of carbs to protein to ensure you have enough energy for your evening run. The flavours are delicious, removes the ‘hangry’ [hungry & angry!] feeling on your commute home and fills you up without feeling full.

Keeping yourself hydrated in the winter is just as important as it is in the summer. Dehydration can increase your risk of getting ill, catching colds and resulting in time off training. HIGH5 ZERO tablets are a great source of electrolytes. One tablet added to 500 or 750ml of water (try warm or boiling water in the winter!) reduces tiredness and fatigue allowing you to train better for longer.

Get a race in the diary! This will give you a purpose to your training during the winter. Have a countdown, choose one of our online training plans and set yourself a goal. Planning, preparation, keeping warm and energised are the main factors to surviving training throughout the winter. Running is hobby, make time for it and remember to enjoy it!

Tips to take awaywarmzero
  • Stay warm and dryn’t ofrlet people know about your running plans, they will help to motivate you
  • Keep your energy levels up
  • Stay hydrated

Don’t forget to enter our latest competition for your chance to win a pair of Saucony Guide 10’s and a HIGH5 nutrition pack. Click Here to enter.

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Improve your swim performance

For most athletes, the swim can often be the least trained and most disliked discpline of a triathlon. With this in mind we recently spoke to #HIGH5fuelled Matt Trautman to get his advice on how to improve the swim section of your next triathlon.

hever_2016-4As a triathlete, squeezing in three different disciplines whilst juggling work and family commitments means you have to be very smart in how you allocate your training time. While the swim may be the shortest discipline and most people’s least enjoyable part of a triathlon, it is critical that you have enough swim fitness so that the rest of your race isn’t ruined before it really begins. Ensuring you aren’t overly fatigued when you leave the water will make a massive difference in being able to ride and run to your full potential.

For age group triathletes, the water temperature needs to be above 24°C before it becomes a wetsuit illegal swim. It means there is a pretty high chance you are going to be donning your neoprene come race day, and im_2in the tropical climates with warm water temperatures the swim is more often than in the sea. The wonderful thing about a wetsuit or swimming in salt water is that you are more buoyant, meaning you don’t have to kick as much so you can preserve your legs for the all important bike and run sections.

So how do we enhance our swimming? Quite simply you need to spend as much time as possible practicing and swimming your race stroke. This may seem obvious, but you still see numerous age group triathletes who are only able to swim 2-3 times a week spending half of their session doing kick sets or working on drills trying to get a ‘feel’ for the water.

A strong leg kick is not a top priority in a wetsuit legal swim. It gives you minimal propulsion and also fatigues those valuable leg muscles before the bike/run has started. Swimming as fast as possible with as little use of the legs should be a priority as a triathlete, especially over the longer distances.  Besides there being a very small chance of getting a good ‘feel’ for water, triathlons are not raced in a pool. Open water swims will be choppy if not from wind and waves then definitely from the hundreds of other competitors around you. Any chance of feeling the water and swimming smooth goes straight out the window.

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Building upper body strength and resilience to complete a long distance swim comfortably, takes time and consistency in the pool. In order to put in the necessary mileage in the pool without getting overly fatigued, there are numerous swim aids you can use. The most important for a triathlete being the pull buoy followed by hand paddles. A pull buoy helps you focus on your stoke without the added stress of trying to stay afloat. It also mimics the body position you’ll have when wearing a wetsuit or even in a salt water swim and minimizes the propulsion you get from your leg kick.castle_series_howard-87

If you are new to swimming or even if you are a very experienced triathlete, doing the majority of your swim workouts with a pull buoy in place is not a problem. If it makes your swimming more enjoyable and means you’re spending more time in the pool, then even better!

There are numerous beneficial swim workouts you can do. If you don’t have a coach, then check out some of the hundreds of sessions that can be found online. The main thing is finding consistency and a swim rhythm that is going to propel you to a comfortable and hopefully fast swim time.

Mixing up aerobic swim sets with anaerobic (sprints) and strength (paddles) work during the week, or even within a session, will be beneficial and stop you from plateauing.

Here is a simple aerobic swim set that will help develop your pace awareness.

Warm Up: im_1-cropped
  • 8 x 25m (3 easy / 1 fast, 3 easy / 1 fast)
  • 6 x 25m (2 easy / 1 fast, 2 easy / 1 fast)
  • 4 x 25m (1 easy / 1 fast)
  • 2 x 25m (both fast)

10 second rest between each 25m, Pull Buoy optional

Main Set:
  • 2 x 400m paddles/pullbuoy. 70% effort
  • 4 x 200m pullbuoy only. 80% effort
  • 8 x 100 pullbuoy or swim only. All out effort but maintainable for all 8 reps

20 seconds rest for each set

Cool Down:
  • 1 x 200 easy

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winter nutrition

Winter Training Blog – Part 1

Winter offers a great opportunity to spice up your training and to try new sessions. We asked our friends at Andy Cook Cycling how to keep yourself riding through those cold winter months.

  1. Try riding your usual routes the other way round for a change and to add variety.
  2. Devise some small road circuits for use in the winter months, around 6-8 miles long. This means you are never too far from home should the weather turn or you run out of energy. Time yourself and try to beat it on the following lap!
  3. Commuting to work on a bike is a great way to utilise your travelling time and will keep your fitness ticking over.
  4. Keep motivated by looking back on your season and evaluate what you have achieved. Then look ahead to next season. Identify your goals and plan accordingly. Think about the events you want to enter.
  5. Join a club or go out with a group of like-minded friends. You’re more likely to get out of bed if you’ve arranged a meeting time and point. Riding in a group with the inevitable banter and competitive edge will make the miles more enjoyable and the hours pass far quicker. Other benefits include the fact that you’ll always have someone with you should you run into trouble to give a helping hand with mechanical issues. Sprint up the hills and then regroup at the top. Joining a club is also a great way to learn from experienced cyclists. You will learn the etiquette and skills of group riding. This will help at your next events.
  6. If you like to use events to keep you focused and motivated, try some winter sportives, reliability trials or Audax events.

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If you don’t get the chance to ride during daylight, it can be daunting to ride in the dark but there are still options to stay on the bike:

  1. Try some of your local industrial estates. They are usually well-lit and traffic-free in the evenings: great for an hour’s tempo ride or intervals. It’s also a good opportunity to perfect cornering/gearing technique. Sprinting out of corners on a short 1 km circuit is great interval training.
  2. Try the Velodrome (if you live near a velodrome – there are more and more popping up around the country), they often have winter track leagues or sessions on during the evenings. It’s a great way of completing a good session in the warm and dry.
  3. Outdoor velodromes or cycling circuits often put on training sessions during the winter months. A great way to get some riding in on traffic free roads!
  4. Hit the turbo. High intensity interval sessions are very effective for maintaining and improving your fitness without needing to spend hours on the bike.

There are a lot of tips and tricks to keep you riding throughout the winter. It is after all the best opportunity to improve on areas of weakness and test out that new bike you want for Christmas.

In part 2 of the winter training series of blogs we will delve into some great turbo sessions for those days that you just to want to stay indoors.

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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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Training Gym Winter Motivation

Winter Gym Training

It can sometimes be hard to find the time to get to the gym. At this time of year when the nights start drawing in, it can feel like you have even less time to get your important training sessions in. We recently caught up with Rasmus Kostner of SAP Extreme Sailing to discuss the importance of finding the time for the gym in the winter months.

sap-extreme_tristan-stedman_ts22766In an outdoor sport like sailing, the frigid temperatures and limited sunlight of the Nordic winter naturally restricts our on-water training. After a long season with an extremely busy racing schedule, it feels great to get back into a structured gym regime. Getting back in to the gym helps to gain back some of the lost muscle mass that is so hard to maintain while racing every second or third week. Time spent in the gym also plays an important role in the avoidance of common injuries to shoulder and lower back when the next season starts.

For me, daily training consists of weight training, crossfit workouts, as well as core and mobility sessions. The weight training targets the muscle mass increase; with heavy deadlift, squat, clean, push press and pull ups. I always start my training with a plan, but often mix it up by including a one repetition max, or as many repetitions as possible with a fixed weight.

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The benefits of constant variation in my physical training have become more and more obvious for me. For general fitness, it’s hard to beat crossfit training in terms of variation and for challenging weak areas. Training for the diverse physical demands of high-performance sailing, such as fast, unbalanced movements, heavy pulls and cardio-intensive grinding on the winch, crossfit is a near perfect fit. We find that by doing these workouts as a team, we really are able to push and motivate each other, which is a key to high intensity and quality in the workouts. Since everybody has a favourite workout, whether you are tall, heavy or lean there is always someone pushing you. At the same time you know if you do well one day, you might get beaten the next.

At Crossfit Kvadraturensap-extreme_tristan-stedman_ts18621 we use a web-based performance platform called “Beyond the Whiteboard”, there you can analyse and compare your own performance to thousands of athletes from around the world. It’s great how technology can not only help to keep track of the progress you make, but to help you to stay motivated and push harder.

For mobility training I do the daily routine from the streaming service, ROMWOD. To get through the uncomfortable 20 minutes of stretching I need instructions and motivating words. After intense physical training and to get rid of muscle soreness I use a foam roller and a dimple ball, which works wonders. Besides that I just make sure I get enough sleep and eat healthily.

In the winter season I stay hydrated with the HIGH5 ZERO tabs because I believe it is important to consume electrolytes without boosting the insulin levels with sugar. After my training sessions, and in the morning I use Protein Recovery to make sure I have the energy for my next work out and help with the growth of lean muscle.

Tips to take away1603-sap-extreme-high5-24313_1

  • Mix up repetitions and weight
  • Challenge your week areas
  • Workout with someone and keep pushing each other
  • Get enough sleep and eat healthy

For a chance to win a winter training nutrition bundle worth over £300, check out our latest competition here.

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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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Riding in the Mountains

Have the long mountain stages in the Tour de France inspired you to ride up some of the iconic climbs? After his incredible 2nd place on the iconic Mount Ventoux stage, we caught up with Team Dimension Data’s Serge Pauwels to get his top tips on how to survive long climbs and get to the summit ahead of the pack. 

Do you have a particular technique when riding up a long climb? What is your pacing strategy?
Generally, I aim to pace the climbs steadily throughout, while keeping a good tempo. Repeating this over a number of climbs on consecutive days is a very good strategy to improve your climbing technique. It may 81B_5229seem very obvious but the best way to improve is the keep doing it.

What cadence (gearing) do you ride in the mountains?
For me it works best to keep a brisk cadence of 80-90 rpm. It’s very important to make sure to keep your legs spinning. On the steeper climbs gear selection is very important. This will allow you to maintain that desired high cadence. If you’re riding in a bigger gear, it will require a lot more effort and wear you down much more quickly. It’s also important to maintain a good position on the bike throughout the climb. This will allow you to be more efficient a save a bit of energy on the climb.

Is it a good idea to know the climb beforehand? What else can I do to prepare for the climb?
Sometimes yes. It can allow you to know where the steeper sections are which can allow you to plan an attack. At the same time knowing a shallow section is just around the next bend can be equally useful. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have been up the climb before. The road book for races generally gives a good representation. Knowing the wind direction can be useful to know in advance. A strong cross-wind can change the way you need to approach the the climb.

81A_2660 CroppedIf you are riding in a group am I best riding at the front or the back on the climb?
This dependson how the group have been climbing earlier in the race. If it is a fast climb, being hidden from the wind a little bit towards the back can be helpful,  but you don’t want to get stuck behind riders you think could be dropped on a narrow road. Being further back also makes it harder to respond to moves. So on the steeper climbs and in larger groups it’s better to be positioned nearer the front.

Is nutrition important? What do you eat and drink on a long climb?
You should concentrate on eating and drinking before the climb. Once you are on the climb the harder you are working the more difficult it is to take on food. So it’s best to make sure you’re fully hydrated and take on enough food before the climb. It’s also a good idea to take on an EnergyGel around 15 minutes before the climb. That way the gel will take effect just as you get to the start of the climb. Of course, pouring a bottle of cold water over your head can be a nice relief on a hot day too.

What is your top tip to get better at riding in the mountains?
It’s quite simple, ride more in the mountains.

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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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