Monthly Archives: September 2013

Stats 30/09

Went to the gym tonight, loved it. For the first time in ages it didn’t feel easy, but it felt as if I could push it and I actually enjoyed pushing it. Some quick stats (more for my benefit):

Bike: 11:60kms in 20 minutes on Random setting, level 12 – will move to level 13 next time
Weights: various arms and shoulder exercises
Run: 1.6kms in 9:15
Swim: 1.6kms in 35 minutes (approx, I wasn’t timing)


Filed under Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming

Upcoming activities

This is more to remind me, but I’m really keen to do the following two activities:

Swimtrek – a swim training holiday in Majorca. This one is specifically designed for those wanting to swim the channel (which I’m not training for), but I think it would be a great week to go on. I’m not in a position to book it just yet, but as soon as I can I will.

2swim4life – this is a 24 mile swim over 24 hours, with the added twist that you do a mile at a time and then get out. In many ways that makes it tougher than swimming 24 miles straight. I know (by following their blogs) a couple of people (Mark and Ella) who have done it and when they announce the next event I’d be keen to sign up.

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Filed under Swimming

Supplements – some advice

After I posted the other day about trying supplements for the first time I got some really good advice in the comments. So good in fact, that I’m going to repeat it here as a separate post.

First, from Mike:

Given the length of swim, I’d think you should understand your carbohydrate burn rate and sweat rate. You definitely need to be putting stuff back in, and timing it right, in the right amounts, will make a huge difference to how you feel & finish when doing anything longer than 2hrs. Shorter than 2hrs, your body uses what’s in your bloodstream/muscles anyway, so eating is not really of benefit (although plenty of people eat after even 30 minutes, or are sucking on sweet carbo drinks from the go – more a placebo effect than anything I imagine).

You should weigh yourself dry using some accurate scales before and after a 1hr session at your race pace, deduct any drinks you had (try not to do a wee) and that should give you your sweat rate. I know mine is anywhere up to 800ml an hr in 18deg on the bike. If you drop more than 2% accepted wisdom is you start to suffer. Some people sweat loads more than others, and some have a hard time drinking enough to keep up. You won’t know until you actually run the tests.

What you must do is ensure you keep a balance in your electrolytes, otherwise you risk all sorts of bad stuff – un-coordination, nausea, vomiting etc etc. It’s not critical that your drink be an energy one – I use a non-energy electrolyte-only tablet called NUUN – they work well for me purely as an electrolyte replacement. They also get used in some hospitals for rehydrating people.

Food is far more about personal preference IMHO – and £2-a-go bars or squeezies are not the answer. A banana has as much energy as a gel, has potassium too, and comes in an eco-friendly wrapper :-) . Peanut butter sandwiches, fig rolls, malt loaf, Haribo…the list goes on of food people swear by. What you feel like eating at the 1hr mark is probably going to be very different to nearing the end. After an 8hr adventure race I’m lucky to be able to eat anything – I physically find it hard to consume enough calories to keep going at the same pace. This is something I need to work on – more cake nurse! ;-)

Great advice Mike, thanks. I like the idea of weighing myself to be more scientific about it. In my case the results are likely to be “too much” and then after the session “still too much” but you’re right that it will give me a good benchmark.

As for food, I agree completely about the bars and gels – swimming Windermere last year I had jam sandwiches and flapjack.

I also got some great advice from Sean:

What you’re talking about here is a nutritional strategy. In that sense these aren’t ‘supplements’ they are primary nutritional sources for your endurance event.

As Mike says, it could be a banana or a gel, but if you’re doing something for 7+ hours you’ll need nutrition, lots of nutrition, otherwise you’re going to ‘bonk’.

Also, as Mike points out, you need to understand your burn rate. I’m guessing yours is somewhere in the region of >1,000 calories an hour while swimming. You’ll need to define that more accurately — get yourself a Garmin Swim (

The average person can process about 400 calories an hour while exercising (you might be >500 or <300, you need to work that out too). So you need to calculate your total burn for your event and then see how much additional nutrition you will need per hour to complete while at the same time understanding that you cannot consume too much without risking gastric distress.

This will affect how you train for the event.

However, part of your nutrition strategy will involve you begin feeding within 30 minutes and then at set intervals throughout your event you continue feeding.

You don’t have to ‘just believe’ that supplements will work. There’s a whole body of scientific research that supports the fact that they do. What you have to do is work out how much you burn and how much you can replace.

As for the “just believe” comment, Sean is referring to what I said in the original post and maybe I should have made myself clearer. What I meant was that I couldn’t scientifically prove that they had helped my performance on that occasion as I couldn’t compare it to the same session without the drink. At my level there are so many other factors (how work was, what I did at the weekend, how much I alcohol I drank yesterday, when I last went to the gym etc etc) that I will never have a like for like test of supplements. I do believe that a better nutritional strategy (as Sean calls it) will improve my training, but I’ll never be able to prove it.

Anyway, lots of food for thought on food for training.

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Filed under Motivation, Swimming

Stats 23/09

This is more for my benefit, as a way to remember and compare future workouts, but tonight my stats were:

– Bike – 30mins, “random” programme, level 12 – 16.76kms
– Swimming – 1.2kms – 24.10 mins

Not great, but as I’m really getting back into not bad either.

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Filed under Cycling, Motivation, Swimming


I’ve previously said that I don’t believe in coaches to help with training for the events, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in taking a bit of help – what I don’t want is someone else making my training decisions.

So, as part of the plan towards Windermere 2014 I’m going to seek the right help where I can find it – and I’ve started with supplements.

SIS 3One of the things I didn’t do well last time I swam Windermere was “feed” properly during the swim. I didn’t take on enough fluid and didn’t take on board enough nutrients. The main reason for that was that I hadn’t done it as part of my training, so I didn’t know what to take or how much or how often … or anything. If I can get my nutrition better then I’m sure that I can improve my time.

However, I need to work out which supplements are best for my body and help me the most, so for the next few weeks / months I’m going to do some trial and error.

As you can see I’m starting with SIS GO Energy powders. You mix each sachet with 500ml of water and it then provides extra carbohydrates for you as you’re working out. Or, as they say:

“SIS delivers superior nutrition so you can train harder, race faster and recover quicker.”

Today’s workout was the first time I tried one and I tried the Blackcurrant flavoured powder. With any test like this it’s hard to tell how much it helped (or even if it did at all) as there is no way of comparing to today’s workout without taking any supplements. My view on this is you have to just believe that supplements will help (which I do) then trust in that and work out which ones you feel most comfortable taking.

According to that reasoning today went well. The flavour of the drink is okay – a bit sweeter than I would normally have for a drink, but then it’s not a normal drink – and it seemed to be east enough to digest and didn’t affect my stomach while I was training. So, so far so good.

I’m going to try the orange ones as well and then will assess some other brands and some others types of supplement. As well as the energy ones I want ones which provide a bit more fuel – if I’m going to be in the water for just under 7 hours I’ll need to “eat” as well as “drink”. But for now I’ll call that a success.


Filed under Swimming, Thoughts

The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos

I’ve never come across the Reembody blog before, but I was pointed to this post from Twitter (not sure who by, sorry). And it’s a great post and everybody should read it – The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible “Fitspiration” Photos. According to Reembody the six are:

#1. Your Body is the Enemy
#2. You Should be Ashamed
#3. Fitness as Socially Acceptable Neurosis
#4. Disregarding Your Limits
#5. Strong is the New Buzzword for Manipulating Women’s Body Image
#6. Fitness Assault!

You should go and read it now.

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Good day, bad day

It’s only 9:30am and I’m already able to write a headline like that – perhaps that alone tells you all you need to know. Anyway…

– Good day – I got up and went straight out for a swim this morning and did 1.5 miles. It’s starting to come back and I’m enjoying it all again. I’m still not concerning myself too much with my speed, more about getting the miles back into my shoulders and practising my breathing.

– Bad day – When I got home I “nudged” the garage door with the car! To park my car I need to approach the drive at an angle, take the car as close to the garage door as possible and then straighten up. This morning I got closer to the garage door than was possible. Of course I managed to knock the door rollers out of their track and the door settled into a strange angle. I’ve managed to cobble a fix together and if you all promise not to tell my wife I might just get away with it.

Let’s hope the rest of the day is on the good side, or at least remains uneventful.

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Filed under Swimming, Thoughts

Visual content for social media

I don’t use this blog to write about work stuff very often, but I’m doing something really exciting at the moment that I wanted to share. (Actually I do lots of exciting things – like generate media coverage for this very cool solar powered boat.)

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 16.01.03Anyway, this exciting project is all about visual content for social media – you can see more here. We’re starting out with an event in Nottingham – if you’re East Mids based, you should try to come along – you can see a quick video with more details on YouTube. And after the event there’ll be a lot more stuff to follow.

Watch this space – or preferably this one!

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I went for a haircut the other day and asked for my usual cut: “Just like this, but shorter.” While I was sat there in the chair (noticing just how much grey was falling onto the floor) I realised that I only have three settings for my hair:

– Thug – cut that bit too short and it makes me look as if I want to start a fight in every pub I go into

– Business – just the right length – usually lasts at this length for about a week if I’m lucky

– Hippy – aaargghh, it’s too long – it rests on the collar of my shirt and feels all yucky

The problem of course is that without a personal stylist following me around permanently when I go for a haircut I have to take it right to edge of Thug, hopefully just staying within Business, so that it will last as long as possible before turning into Hippy.

It’s tough being a bloke sometimes!


Filed under Thoughts

Morning, noon and night

… apart from the noon bit.

I got up early this morning and went for a swim before work. After a summer of almost complete inactivity I’m enjoying the feeling of doing something again. On top of that, I’m also enjoying practising my breathing.

So I did my current routine of one mile, broken into little sets to help with the breathing and also to do a bit of breaststroke. Then, as per usual I went to the office.

And then, after a full day in the office, I went back again this evening and did another mile.

It’s not a huge distance over a day, but it’s a nice feeling to be able to do it and it’s a nice feeling to feel that I’m on my way towards the big swim.


Filed under Motivation, Swimming