Author Archive for James Eacott

5 sessions to boost time trial fitness

We’re SO happy to be organising Time Trials up at the cracking Castle Combe Race Circuit again. It must be one of the best venues for TT racing in the country. A relatively short circuit – about 2-miles – with smooth tarmac, traffic-free and mostly flat. Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned pro, you’re very welcome to join us this summer and put that training into practice!

To help you on your journey, here’s 5 sessions to boost your time trial fitness:

  1. Aero drills: You don’t have to use a time trial bike for this session (or indeed for our TTs at Castle Combe) but this session is all about practicing your most aerodynamic position on the bike. After a 20-minutes warm up, spend 60 seconds in the most aero position you can hold – think crunched shoulders, low head, strong core etc – before taking 60 seconds to relax in a more comfortable cycling position. Do this 10 times before 10-minutes recovery before another 10 reps of these drills.
  2. Sweetspot power: You don’t need a power meter for this session, but the term Sweetspot (SS) derives from training with power. SS i approximately 90% of your threshold effort – the power / speed / heart rate which you could hold for an hours max effort – so it’s that ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ zone. It’s a great zone in which to develop TT fitness, however, so intervals where you spend an increasing duration in this zone is handy. After a solid warm up with some strides, start with just 5-minutes in SS with 5-minutes off, gradually extending the interval and reducing the rest until you reach 3 x 20-minutes SS on 5-minutes rest. That’ll pinch!
  3. Cadence work: Being able to generate power and speed at a range of cadences is important because you’ll changes in gradient will require you do this anyway. Head downhill and cadence increases. Up and it decreases. Being able to churn out a relatively even effort throughout will take you from A-B in the shortest time. So, for this session, complete a solid warm up and then – in your best TT position – spend 60 seconds at high cadence (90rpm+) before 60 seconds at low cadence (65rpm max). Repeat this 5 times before 10-minutes easy spinnning. Then repeat the set two or three more times.
  4. Strength set: To develop the power and strength of your legs (but also your core) and improve cycling efficiency, time spent cycling at low cadence can work wonders. This session is simple – simple spend an easy ride in as hard a gear as possible. The trick here is not to grunt through the pedals – after all, the effort should remain relatively easy – but focus on a smooth pedal stroke, applying pressure to as much of the circle as possible.
  5. HIIT intervals: While a well-paced time trial shouldn’t involve sprints, this type of training is still useful to boost your threshold power at which races are often completed. This short, intense session requires a good warm up with some leg-openers to get the blood flowing. When you’re ready, start the main set: 10 x 30-seconds sprint, 90-seconds rest. 10 minutes easy and then repeat the set again. Aim for the highest sustainable power for all reps!

So, once you’ve nailed the training, come and put your progress to the test with one of our friendly, professionally organised time trials at Castle Combe Race Circuit. We look forward to seeing you up there!

How to train in the heat

The UK has been blessed with some pretty incredible weather of late (having said  that, typically as I write this it’s chucking it down!) but regardless of this interlude, the weather’s been great. With that, more of us are getting outside to exercise, particularly with the ease in lockdown restrictions. So we thought it a prudent moment to share tips and coping mechanisms for training in the heat.

Choose your timing
If you are able to select the time at which you train, either go for early in the morning or late in the evening.  Training in the mid-day heat can be really hard and will impact your ability to perform and get the best from that session (plus, it’s likely to leave you like a zombie for the rest of the day).

Dress appropriately
It’s a given that when you  exercise you will sweat, especially if temperatures outside are high. Sweating is our bodies cooling mechanism so training in the correct clothing will allow the process to be a lot more efficient. Avoid clothing made from cotton as this will trap the sweat and heat against the body. Instead, opt for synthetics such as nylon – they are breathable, light-weight and sweat-wicking.

Hydration
For the body to function properly hydration is a very important. If you are exercising for a long period of time you should aim to consume around 500ml of fluids every hour (depending on your size, sweat rate and temperature). It’s important to be hydrated prior to the day of training too. So, if you know you have a big training day coming up, start hydrating 24-36 hours prior. Trying to hydrate on the day isn’t enough if you’re waking up in an already slightly dehydrated state. Post-session, make sure you consume to help replace not just energy and water but also electrolytes lost through sweating.

Listen to your body
Typically the fitter you are, the better your body can tolerate the heat (especially if you often train in higher temperatures or live outside the UK ;). However, if you are new to training and perhaps haven’t experienced training in the heat before, this can have a real affect on your performance and ability.

You may find that your training is well below your ‘normal’ levels completed in cooler climes. Don’t worry, this is totally normal and it’s just a case of building slowly and listening to your body. With your first few sessions in the heat, start off slowly and see how you feel and build with each session. It’s said to take around 10-14 days to acclimatise to heat. The human body adapts with each time you will train in it so it’s important to go on feel and monitor as you go.

Top tips to improving your 5k & 10k times when races resume

As we start to see a slight shift in the easing of lockdown and a potential light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t help but get a little excited about what races might be able to take place towards the end of the year. Regardless of the outcome, we want to share some of our top tips to running a faster 5 / 10k race so that when we are given the green light to race again, we can all start to work towards smashing those PB’s.

  1. Keep the easy days easy. This is really important. It’s all too easy to push the pace and try to hit every session as hard as possible thinking it will help you improve faster. It’s also hard to rein it in when you feel good whilst on a supposed ‘easy’ run. However, we must ensure easy days remain easy in order for our bodies to recover. Pushing too hard on these days can have a real impact when it comes to the days where you want or should be training hard because you haven’t given the your body the rest it needs to perform on that day. You’ll thus never reach those peak paces and sessions. Don’t be scared to take the easy days easy, they will pay off massively and allow you to push hard when you really need to.
  2. Include strength and explosive power. Although 5 and 10k are deemed as endurance events, they also requires a lot of top end speed. From the off the pace is fast – especially in a 5k – and its unusual to build up pace in such a short distance, so strength training and elements of power need to be included in your training programmes. This isn’t to say the weights you lift have to be heavy – it’s more about the movement patterns and controls around them such as a single-leg deadlift. Squat jumps are another great exercise to build this. Explosive training helps activate the fast-twitch muscles but also reduce the chances of injuries and niggles occurring too.
  3. Track/ interval sessions. When it comes to building speed over shorter distances, track or interval sessions should be included each week. The aim of these sessions is to reduce the overall run volume but the intensity on each interval. You’ll need to give yourself longer recoveries between the reps to ensure the quality is there and ensure that you warm up and cool down properly before these type of sessions.
  4. Hill sprints. Hill sprints are fundamental and should be included weekly throughout training for a race such as 5/10k. They are a fantastic way to develop overall strength whilst doing real-time running. Sprinting uphill forces you to activate your glutes, which I’m sure any runners who have vistited a physio would have been told they aren’t activating properly! Hill sprints open up the hips and force you to push down on the ground more effectively and bring in the upper body too for stabilisation and force generation. Adding them into your training will improve your running form on the flats greatly.

Competitor Stories: Mark Robson

Mark Robson is an endurance enthusiast, to put it lightly. He’s taken part in a huge number of events but has really cranked things up a notch during lockdown. He’s gone one step further and is currently smashing it out the park, from the comfort of his own home! Here’s Mark:

I have completed 69 Marathons, 87 Halves, Ironman UK back in 2006 and 3 Ironman 70.3 at Wimbleball Lake.

This is my 50th year and the goal this year was to get to 100 Halves and complete the London Duathlon. When the lockdown hit I started running Half Marathons and then saw the DB Max Duathlon and 10K series. Since then I have completed 13 of the Duathlons, 25 of the 10K events and 3 of the 5K.

In total since start of lockdown I have now completed 22 Halves, 52 10K, 14 Duathlons and a monthly cycling 300K Challenge (400K this month). I started doing these events to take my mind off the crazy virus and have become addicted to Virtual Events.

My inspiration is my 6 year old daughter. I want her to be inspired and proud of her old Dad. One of my new dreams is to run the real Chilly/ Longest Day 10K one day“.

What. A. Man.

If one thing’s clear: be more like Mark!

Now is not the time to peak your training

If everything was “normal” right now, a lot of us would be well into our 2020 race season and coming into top form before tapering for our A races.

The hard work and prep for this season would have already started way back in the winter months of 2019, big training blocks would have been banked way before the dreaded COVID-19 reared its ugly face, and all race plans would have been put into place and tapering segments laid out all ready to crush this season.

Sadly, this wasn’t to be and it’s affected us all in different ways. A lot have taken their foot off the pedal and accepted that their time will come one day, but right now the training can be eased and the focus can be shifted elsewhere. Others have gone the opposite way and continued to ramp up the training and race “virtually” and use the extra time they now have to smash out hard training blocks where perhaps they may not of had time to of done so if “normal” was still happening.

Now, neither of these are right nor wrong, everyone has to find their own coping mechanisms. However, we’d advise those that have continued to train hard and “race” hard to remember that this isn’t the finish outcome. Who knows, there’s still a chance some races could still go ahead towards the end of the season so we suggest playing on the side of caution and being sensible with the training. We don’t really want to be breaking PB’s and crushing hard blocks back to back in training. After all, if we were in normal situations right now, we wouldn’t go straight into a hard block after just finishing another one would we? We would always take time to recover after a big race – the same should apply now.

The last thing you want to do now is burnout or risk injury.

Be smart, keep the consistency and training in place each week for sure, but strip it back a little. Save some of that hard work you put in over those winter months, play around with the training and mix it up a little to keep the fire alight. Ultimately, do it because you want to. Don’t feel like you have to push yourself every day because others are. If you don’t feel up for training one day and would rather sit in the sun with a good book, go for it! Right now is not the time to be “winning” at training.

How to maximise time in lockdown

Another 3 weeks of quarantine has been forced upon us. You may have settled into a routine of work, rest and play each day but if you haven’t here are 8 things to help you find some traction in your day.

1. A little goes a long way:
Research shows just some activity will help minimise the loss of fitness. Whilst improvement requires larger doses of training that progress from one week to the next, maintaining fitness doesn’t need nearly as much: just the odd nudge to remind the body that the demand for fitness is still there. Small volumes of regular exercise can reduce or even prevent loses entirely.

2. Find your spark:
Enjoy the lack of training structure and have fun. Join in any one of the plethora of YouTube or live online classes at your disposal. Get creative and set up your own challenge. Or, if you are not sure where to begin, there are any number of core, speed, strength and crazy challenges to get involved with.

3. Get back to basics:
You read a lot about ‘knowing your WHY’ in training and competing. It is useful to keep you motivated day on day. Not everyone has a really clear idea of their ‘why’. But there’s proof that it is a very useful tool. It would be a valuable investment in the metal side of your training to unpick your ‘why’. Use the time to take a step back and unpick why you love it, what is it you love and what is your motivation for hitting your target. Read why you should train through covid-19.

4. Training focus:
Think about your training and, when normal routines resume, how can you optimise your time and do more of what you love.

5. Prioritise your strength:
Do you get a repeated niggle or feel that your core could be stronger? Now is a great time to focus on that valuable and oft neglected area of your training. Here’s 6 top exercises to get you started.

6. Strength from within:
Your immunity needs to be firing on all cylinders at the moment. Relentless bouts of hard training will reduce this and leave you susceptible to illness. The message is work hard which will help you to maintain fitness but not so hard that you are leaving yourself fatigued. Sleep, good food, exercise and a healthy dose of positivity is the balance we are aiming for.

7. Review your wardrobe.
Take a stock check. Piff the old t-shirts that aren’t serving you and the trainers that have done so many miles the soles are worn thin. This is a great website which recycles sports clothing.

8. Read, research, think and learn.
Use this time wisely to develop your understanding of optimal training, recovery and nutrition. Think about you as an athlete, what are you good at, what needs development and then start building ideas of how you are going to optimise your training and yourself.

Kerry Sutton is head coach at Perpetual Motion Coaching

Why you should keep training through COVID-19

With no real time-frame of when this period will end, it’s understandably hard to find the motivation or reason to train right now. However, we have a number of reasons for why we believe a level of consistent training should remain in your weekly schedule…

Get that endorphin high

We’ve all enjoyed the post-session ‘high’ and we’ve all heard the saying of how you never regret the session once its done. So now more than ever is the time to keep those feelings alive. Exercise has been proven to not only boost your mood but also help improve other areas of your life too, such as sleep, stress and that all important feel-good factor about yourself.

Remaining fit

One of the main reasons we’ve heard why motivation may have slipped is due to the fact they can no longer replicate the same level of training volume and intensity as they had done before all of this – and although this is likely to be true because of pools being closed and time restraints on how much we are allowed out etc – it does not mean that you cannot still retain a good level of fitness.

A reduction in volume and intensity will not affect the body too much for a short-period of time and fitness isn’t lost as fast as you may think. Do what you can and maximise what you are able to do – you’ll go further than you think. Time spent stressing is time wasted. Instead, focus on the smaller areas you often neglect or don’t have time for, such as strength and conditioning or stretching.

Think of the bigger picture

We all have to remember that this won’t last forever and we will be back training and racing one day soon. Just keep remembering your ‘why’ and keep your goals fixed in your mind so that you’re ready to let rip once the opportunity presents itself.

Although we have to be realistic, positive thinking goes a long way in situations like this. Reminding yourself that there is still a chance some races will go ahead later in the year and even if they don’t there will be many more seasons to come…

Keep going everyone, remember the bigger picture and why you were training before all of this went down.

Get strong at home

Just because you’re stuck at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t get strong. These five exercises will build strong, powerful and injury-resistant muscles – a perfect foundation upon which to add more aerobic training once we’re allowed out and races are back on.

These exercises require no equipment, so you can do them anywhere:

Squat
Stand as tall as you can with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then drive yourself up and back to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Do two sets of 20 reps.

Watch out for: Make sure your knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Keep your upper body “tall”—don’t bend too much at the hip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunge
Stand with your feet staggered, your right foot forward. Squat down through your hips so that your left knee is lowered toward, but not touching, the floor. Lower down to a count of two, and rise back up to a count of two. Repeat on the other leg. Do two sets of 20 reps on each leg.

Watch out for: Ensure your front knee doesn’t extend past your toes, keep a 90 degree angle between your quadriceps and your shin. Keep your upper body “tall”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge
Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms out, and palms down. Draw your belly button in, and lift your hips up by pressing your feet into the ground. Contract your core, your glutes, and then your hamstrings in this position. Hold for three to five seconds. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Watch out for: Keep your hips level—don’t let one side dip—while raised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plank
Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Contract your abdominals and hold for 45 seconds.

Watch out for: Don’t drop your hips or raise your bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clams
Clams are great for strengthening often-neglected glute muscles. Here’s how to do them:

  1. Lie on your side. Rest your head on your arm or hand as shown. Bend hips to approximately 45 degrees and bend your knees at 90 degrees. Make sure one hip is lying above the other. You should now be well aligned – your feet should be in line with your back.
  2. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale set your core muscles.
  3. Inhale and whilst exhaling float the upper leg upwards while keeping your feet in contact with one another.
  4. Inhale and as you exhale bring the leg down to the starting position.

Repeat 15 times each leg. If done correctly you should feel the muscles around the back of the hip bone (gluteus medius and minimus) working hard.

Focus on not allowing the alignment of the body to be disrupted with leg movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single leg squat
Balancing on one foot squat down, bending at the knee and sitting your hips back as if you are going to sit in a chair behind you ( have a chair behind you when you start and you can sit onto it before coming back up again). Once down to about a 90 to 115 degree angle in your knee, extend your leg back up to standing. If this is too challenging allow the toes of your hovering foot to lightly rest on the ground. Complete eight repetitions then switch to the other leg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Bradford-on-Avon based personal trainer and run coach Kerry Sutton Perpetual Motion for the images and words.

What to do if your event is cancelled

What crazy times we live in. We live to organise and execute events and the satisfaction we get from every single one of you crossing finish lines of our triathlons, running races and time trials is what gets us out of bed.

But, like all of you, we’ve had to adapt to the coronavirus and make changes we wish we didn’t have to make. Our current coronavirus information will answer many questions, so please read before emailing us, but also please note that this information is correct as of 17th March 2020. Things are changing rapidly and we’re rolling with updates as they come as quick as possible.

While you guys are stuck largely indoors, we wanted to share some advice on how best to manage your time, fitness and look ahead to events and races which will happen, hopefully sooner rather than later.


With everything going on in the world right now, we shouldn’t shed too many tears over cancelled races, but of course it’s gutting to adjust to these times, particularly considering you’ve invested time and resources into preparing for your big day.

Get plenty of sleep – it boosts your immune system

But there’s still plenty you can do to keep in good physical and mental shape so you’re ready to hit it once this does all pass. Here’s our tips to help you structure and plan the next steps of this weird period:

1 Rest and recover
With no foreseeable races/events/competitions approaching, now is not the time to be ramping up the training. Not only will hard training weaken your immune system (which none of us need right now), but pushing the body through hard efforts and specific race-pace sessions is pointless without a goal on the horizon.

But that doesn’t mean do nothing. Just focus on the consistent, easy and enjoyable sessions. You don’t need a structure, just do what you feel like and keep it relaxed. Think of what you would do post-race. You’d ease back into some gentle exercise and keep the body moving, right?

Rest now and you’ll be ready to crank things up a notch once races are back in the calendar.

2 Try something new
Now more than ever is a great time to experience new training options. Why not head out in search from some off-road/trails and take some time to notice the beautiful countryside around us.

3 Leave the watch at home
Pacing, clock watching and timed splits / efforts are not needed right now.

Make the most of just enjoying being out running and leave the watch at home. Experience running to feel and go with what the body feels and keep that pace easy. This will do your mind the world of good.

When you can get outside for a (solo) run, go for it and feel the sun on your back

4 Use this time to work on weaknesses
This is the perfect opportunity to work on areas that you often don’t have time for. It’s a great chance to do more mobility and strength sessions at home. A lot of this stuff can be done using minimal equipment and mostly all body-weight. It gives us chance to all work on our core strength and even hitting up some virtual yoga/ stretch sessions which are available online to watch for free right now is a great shout.

All of this will massively benefit you and get you in great condition and injury-free for when those races are back in the calendar.

5 Stay safe and look after each other
Let’s get our priorities right. Look after each other and think of those ‘at risk’. Follow government advice and let’s do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus – the sooner we do, the sooner we can be back racing!

How to become a successful athlete

The off-season gives you the perfect chance to relflect on the previous season. Address things that went well but also those that didn’t go quite to plan. This is necessary to develop as an athlete – capitalise on strength and figuring out why less positive things happened and from there deduce ways to prevent them from happening again.

As the new season is now just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start making plans and laying down the foundations whilst you can. By addressing these and testing them now in the off-season will allow you to create better habits early on in order to become a better athlete.

Below are a few tips to help you to become a more rounded and successful athlete in 2020.

Time management
We already know how time-consuming Triathlon is as it involves 3 different sports in one, so we are aware that it requires and awful lot of time and commitment in order to see results. Being time-efficient is key to becoming a successful athlete. Using the time you have available between work, and family life can be tricky but certainly do-able if you use that time effectively.

There are a number of hacks that you can try. Many with busy work schedules find themselves getting up extra early to cram a session in on the turbo before driving off to work…or they head out for a late-night run once the kids have gone to bed. But an event more time efficient, and super-effective training method is to incorporate training into your commute. If you have to travel a reasonable distance by car everyday, is there a way of switching the car for your bike and banking some solid miles on the bike to get you from point to point and back again?

Or if you are struggling to fit in some longer sessions at the weekends due to a busy social schedule, is there a way of travelling to trips via bike and meeting them there? This is a perfect way to bank that long ride and it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your weekend plans with the family.

Listen to your body not your ego
This is a real error that athletes struggle with (and more often than not try to ignore). One of the keys to being a successful athlete is learning to listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly. If you feel tired and fatigued but your coach or TrainingPeaks is telling you that you have a hard interval session planned for that day, it would be wise to raise how you are feeling with your coach and either alter the session to something easier, or take it off completely.

A reminder that rest plays a vital part in performance and a long successful career. Taking rest days does not make you weak!

Preparation
This falls similarity under the time-management bracket. Being prepared and organised will make anyone’s life a lot easier to manage, but this is crucial for any athlete. For example, making sure you know what your training sessions are for the day and what kit you need to take with you. Or knowing what splits you need to hit in your sessions beforehand and not working them out mid-session. Creating good habits and routines that work for you helps take away any unwanted pressures or stress to your already busy lives.

Mental focus
An athlete who is able to mentally prepare themselves and ‘zone out’ is an effective athlete! Having the ability to maintain focus through sessions when nobody is watching ensures you hit rep after rep. In the cold, wet, dark winter nights throughout off-season is where PBs are made. Focusing on goals, training the mind to endure and face all potential problems that may arise in competition and learning to deal with them is something all athletes should work on.

So when you are preparing for your 2020 season, be sure to look back over these tips beforehand and try to incorporate them into your daily routines. Create good habits now even if they don’t seem necessary just yet. You will be thankful for them on race day.