Thursday, 29 December 2016

Threshold Part 3 - Mathematical Thresholds

So far I've looked at the biochemistry behind thresholds, and evidence for whether thresholds exist (it appears they do, but not the one we all call 'threshold'!). For this post I'm going to look at some of the ways that we have tried to describe our thresholds and limits.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Combining Zwift with Sufferfest/PerfPro (or TrainerRoad)

Zwift is new and exciting, but I still reckon the last two reps of Sufferfest Revolver are as close as I'll get to a religious experience, and I'm a big fan of Perfpro's easy customisation and ability to display live graphs of geeky accessories like my Moxy SmO2 monitor. Is it possible to get the best of all worlds?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Zwift on a Budget

In the last month or so I've found myself getting into Zwift, the online cycling game. Last night I attended one of their events, where I ended up demonstrating racing in front of a large crowd (who were mostly looking the other way), and showed conclusively that turning up late to the race start with no wifi isn't a brilliant idea! (Much respect to the colleague who managed to build his computer for me in the 4 minutes before the race started and managed to get me starting only 15 seconds behind the main pack!)
A few people have been concerned about how much it might cost to run Zwift, particularly if you're going to end up leaving the computer in the garage for ease of access. So I thought I'd document my setup to show you can run it on fairly old kit.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Zoot Makai Shoes

I've been racing and training in Zoot Makai shoes since joining Team Zoot Tri Europe this season; having accumulated a fair few miles on various terrain, and races from 10K to marathon, I felt it was worth jotting down some thoughts.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Cheap solution to prevent bottle launching

I'm a big fan of XLabs and their behind-the-saddle bottle mounts; but I'm sure most people who have mounted bottles there have at some point experienced 'bottle launching'. This is at best annoying, and at worst could totally derail a long distance nutrition plan. I'm aware XLabs sell a 'Gorilla' cage which they state will prevent launching, but they're very expensive and British road surfaces are pretty ingenious in that regard.

I've always used the cheap 'Elite' cages which are available in all sorts of colours, and have a rubber tab which holds on to bottles fairly well. However, after a recent launching episode I thought I'd try something new.

Step up, 80mm nitrile rubber o-ring. (I bought them from Amazon but I'm sure you can find them elsewhere). Wrapped as per the photo, they add a bit of friction to the cage and seem to work very well - certainly no issues in a recent race where I saw quite a few cages (Gorillas included) shedding their load.

Feel free to share any other top tips in the comments!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Outlaw Triathlon 2016

After kicking off my triathlon career at IM Wales in 2011 I decided to find out what distance I suited best in 2012, by racing all of them. The Outlaw was my chosen iron-distance so I returned to it this year to see whether I've improved.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Illness and HRV

Stress is a vital part of athletic training. But too much means you don't have time to recover before the next session and spiral yourself into exhaustion, whilst not enough means you're never working hard enough to improve. Many are touting Heart Rate Variability (HRV) as a potential solution.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Xiaomi Mi Band 1S

I wasn't a great believer in fitness trackers for athletes, but this little device has changed my mind. For $18 (and a bit of waiting for it to make it from China) you get something that's as good as any of the basic fitness trackers, and even has heart rate monitoring built in.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Threshold Part 2 - What is a threshold?

In this post I will look at some of the common 'thresholds' and empirical evidence for their existence. I'll be using evidence from the world of running - as a sport it is perfect for the purpose; we are well-adapted to it as a species over a wide range of distances (read 'Born to Run'), and we have kept records of the limits of our achievements. Whilst they were not all run by one person, they form a lovely natural experiment into the limits of human physiology.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Threshold Part 1 - Introduction & Energy Systems

'Threshold' is a word you can't avoid in endurance sport. But what does it mean? And how do newer views of exercise physiology improve our understanding of where our barriers lie?

Most serious endurance athletes will have an idea of where their 'threshold' lies - whether FTP for cyclists, HM pace for runners, CSS for swimmers. The usual understanding is that above 'threshold', exercise is associated with a gradual rise in the evil lactic acid, which eventually causes the athlete to have to stop. Below threshold, lactate stays steady. Some models appear to allow the athlete to go on forever, but others suggest (and the real world demonstrates) that exhaustion still occurs, and the athlete must stop for what is presumably an entirely different reason.

I had this planned as one post, then two, then more - I'm not sure now, but I think breaking it up into bits is going to help avoid head-spinning.

I'll start with a quick review of energy systems:

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Interval types

PPO, Pmax, FTP, VO2max: Reading the literature, and even blogs, on interval training can prove a nightmare as authors demonstrate that their chosen training method produces wonderful results - but leave you with the nightmare of working out how to carry out out in your garage.

I'm hoping in this post to go through a few terms I've seen and how they relate to each other so it's possible to use studies in your own training. This will assume you have a power meter (or software allowing you to use your turbo as a virtual power meter, eg PerfPro or Trainerroad).

I'll be describing intensities in terms of FTP; not because I agree with FTP as a concept, but because it's the main metric used by power-geeks and their software.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Four By Four

I'm often asked for turbo sessions so I thought I'd detail one of my favourites - the Four By Four. If I had to choose just one session it'd be this one. It's a total of 25 minutes plus warmup, but it can be so hard I have to get a friend in for moral support.

Simply put:
  • Warm up (I usually take about 15 minutes, with some bursts)
  • 4 minutes on
  • 3 minutes off (some people take 4 but I find it's too much)
  • Repeat for a total of 4

Thursday, 7 January 2016


As a former Boatie I have learned that the best part of being part of a team is the inevitable kit stash.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

LePirate Belay Glasses

Seems a strange item to be reviewing on here, but I've finally solved a problem that's been plaguing me since the start of my heavy turbo use over the last few months.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Another attempt

Attempts at perfection are the enemy of progress. I had a clear idea what I wanted to do with this blog, but frankly trying to make it perfect meant I rarely ended up publishing anything!

As part of some research work I've read about the CRAPL - an attempt to justify releasing half-baked code and ideas on the basis that it's far more useful for people to read something badly-written than to read nothing at all!

So I've binned off a fair bit of the blog, and will try to make a better effort to put stuff up here - on the basis that it'll not be quite what I intended, but more like a series of post-it notes with bits of information that hopefully you might find useful. I'm planning kit and race reviews, training ideas, and I have a keen interest in physiology so there'll probably be some geeked-out posts too.

I've become a member of Team Zoot Europe so there will probably be a fair bit of Zoot kit - I'm hopefully getting a pair of the new Makai shoes before too long to try out, amongst others. See you out there!