Training before riding in Portugal

Last weekend I went on a 4 hour ride in the hills in Surrey. In the ride we purposely looked for the biggest hills and climbed one after the other. I have to admit I bonked. It was a tough ride home. My coach then set me another 4 hour ride in two days time and then time trials around Richmond Park. All this before heading to Portugal and riding 4 days of hills.

I was worried my body would tighten up with extreme increases in training and after bonking. I rode to box hill for my 4 hour ride and could feel my legs tired at the end. They did not have great energy to push hard and in fact they ached as I was coming home.

Today I attacked Richmond Park and I was determined to beat my best time of 19.53mins for 1 lap.  I did not know if my legs would cope with only two days rest. I accelerated out of my seat and set the stop watch going. I did not look at the watch until I crossed the finish line and just thought about pushing hard. I am learning to pace myself and at times when it was painful I think if I go faster this is when I actually make up time at the end.

I rode anti clockwise and the wind was almost neutral if not slightly a head wind. I stayed low on the handle bars and controlled the gear changes while in this position. I could feel my legs were tiring at the tops of hills but on the flats I recovered fast and my heart rate was easily maintained. On the flats I accelerated and was staying above 40 km/h on them. In the final straight a rider was pushing hard in front of me and I picked him out to catch. In the last 10 meters I passed him. My time 19.10mins. I was definitely stronger today and that was after doing two 4 hour rides in the space of 6 days.

My legs are adapting to the training and in Portugal I hope to get the climbing muscles working and learn how to pace myself for the long accents. My next goal is to get to 18 mins around Richmond Park. I will then officially be faster than my coach.

In the next blog I will talk about my training and what I learnt about hill climbing on the bike.

Latest research findings on cramp in sport/ triathlon

In the July edition of 220 Triathlon there is an article on page 77″The science of cramping” which discusses the research into cramping and how to manage it.

In summary:

The research comparing triathletes and athletes who get cramp with those that don’t identified a common risk factor is exercising at unusually high intensity during a race, family history of cramps and a history of tendon/ ligament injury. Currently there is no exact known reason why cramping occurs.

Studies have found a 6% carbohydrate sports drink can delay the onset of exercise induced muscle cramps in endurance activities, but not prevent them entirely. Low levels of magnesium are linked to increased incidence of muscle cramps. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to help sufferers of “night cramps”

Take away tips:

1. Gradually increase training intensity. Remember unaccustomed fatigue plays a major role in muscle cramps.

2. Stretch regularly, paying particular attention to hamstrings, calves and any other muscle groups that are prone to cramp.

3. Use carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks during longer training sessions/races and/or during recovery, and ensure you consume plenty of calcium and magnesium rich foods.

4. If you’re a long term sufferer of cramps, consider magnesium supplementation.

Personal experience dealing with cramp

I completed the Switzerland Ironman last year and did 1 year of intense training. This year I am doing the Etape De Tour  and increasing my bike mileage from 4 hours to 8 hours on the bike and training 3-4 times per week. I will be going to Portugal to train on my bike in the hills and the heat.

I have suffered from cramp occasionally after exercise but also during exercise. The cramp usually affects my hamstring or calf muscles. I noticed when training for the Ironman muscles were getting tighter in the early stages of training. At this time I was starting to train 6 days a week and running and then cycling in consecutive days. My calves got so tight I had to walk down stairs sideways.

I went to get massage weekly and this helped but I noticed my legs were still very tight with continued training. My experience does fit with the article details above. I usually got the cramps if I pushed hard on time trials or at the end of long hard bike rides. The cramp could occur after training if I had a very hard training session. To get rid of them I stretched and in the end I was massaging my legs immediately after training to loosen them. I also wore compression leggings and this certainly made my legs feel much better.

The most important finding I discovered was the use of Magnesium supplementation. I went to New Zealand and was given a product from the salt Lakes of Utah. I started using it and noticed my legs felt significantly looser. My ITB, calves and hamstrings felt at ease and much better after training. the magnesium was better than the massage in terms of preventing muscle tightness.

I continued to take Magnesium through my training. I added it to my  alkalising drink I took through the day and also to my electrolyte drink in training. In my Ironman I did not suffer cramp during or after the race and my ITB friction syndrome did not occur.

I think I was suffering cramp because of the change in intensity of training and number of days trained and I was sweating out salts in my body and not replacing them in my diet.


I am a physiotherapist and an Ironman and I think the information in the article above is spot on. I would try magnesium supplementation, get massage and look after your nutrition. Stretching and self massage is important as you don’t have the time and resources to get a trainer and massage therapist to work on you everyday. If you do then get them in everyday.

If you would like contacts in the fields of stretching, nutrition, triathlon training do contact us here at Physical Edge and we would like to help in anyway we can. Got to love triathlon.

Reentering the Etape

It has been a great week. At first I thought the Etape wasn’t possible this year but things have evolved and I have been given the opportunity and time to race again. I have snapped it up with eager hands and am back into training again.

I feel I am not in the best condition for the event because I have not entered any other events to prepare me for the hill climbing. I have rested for 2 weeks and my hill climbing in and around London is no comparison to the hills in France.

I spoke to my Coach (Fran) and he has said I must commit 3 x week t training, plus one gym session and train overseas to get to know what real hill climbing is all about. The advice he has given me has stimulated me into action. I am checking I still have an entry into the Etape next week. If it is still available I will be on a flight out of London on Friday to train in Portugal with Sigma sports associated coach, Flash. He will train me 3 full days on hill after hill until I break. I hope this gives my body the experience it needs to learn how to hill climb  in France.

This week I have done a time trial around Richmond Park. I finally cracked 20 minutes with an anticlockwise lap of 19.52. I have told to do 3 laps in 60 minutes. If my coach sets me three laps I will aim to complete this target.

Today I went out for a 4 hour bike ride with my Ironman friend. I decided to ride as many hills as I could find in Surrey and we did long hills ranging in gradient from 3%-13%. We avoided boxhill as there were more challenging hills to climb. On the way home I ran low on energy. My legs were painful climbing  up the hills and I pushed hard t get to Sigma Sports in Kingston. It was a pleasure to get off the bike after such a hard ride. It hit home again how much hill climbing I have to do before the event.

I went to the Sigma Sports sale and picked up half price Specialized bike shoes and a racing top. The shoes were so comfortable to wear and gripped my foot with three straps to help me hill climb. On the way home I took three gel shots as I felt like I needed them. It was a slow ride home and finally getting home I ate a big plate of pasta with cheese. Probably not the best food but I was soooo hungry.

I noticed hill climbing made me eat and drink more than normal and because I did no crab load I ran out of energy. I plan to crab load on future rides and take more food with me.

I am interested in what my coach gives me next week and if I go to Portugal this will be a totally new training experience. This is helping me understand the effect of cycling on the body and what to do best to prepare for rides and recover. Until next week I will sign off  a much happier cyclist.

Training stopped and pulling out of the Etape Du Tour

It has been a tough three weeks. I was training well and my hill climbing had improved significantly. My training heart rate had elevated and I was enjoying the power up the hills in my legs. I had 7 weeks to go to Etape but have had to pull out because of work commitments.

It has been a mental challenge changing my mentality and knowing I was not going to do the Etape after 5 months of hard training and this included training in winter. I had just bought a pair of Zipp wheels and I had not even used them. I think the toughest challenge was knowing I was not completing something I had set out to do. I do not give up and this was a contradictory decision to my belief patterns. I also had been training consistently for over 1.5 years as I had done the Ironman last year. My body was used to training regularly and my mind was used to having a target to aim for and forcing myself to train through tiredness and a busy life. If I did  not have training to do I felt I had lost some purpose in my life. There were many people who knew I was going to do the Etape and now I had to tell them I was going to stop. Was I letting myself down?

I went through several phases of saying yes I will give up and then no I won’t. I loved the rides in the morning in the country side with friends. I enjoyed the challenges of climbing the hills and the sensation after training of completing my goals and having the rest of the day to relax. I temporarily stopped training and in that week it was a revelation to have so much time to spare. I got so much more achieved at work and I was able to meet up with business contacts. I also felt more energy and sharper at work.

I had clients come into me at work who were also training for the Etape and they made me envious. I spoke to a client who had not done anywhere near the same amount of training and I questioned whether I could do it with much less training. I decided to speak to my coach and pose the question of less training. My coach set me straight and said there is no easy way. You either do the training or you do not compete. He explained the need to train properly and it is not a race to take lightly. He immediately asked how many days I was willing to put into training and then told me I would need to train in France to get a proper perspective on hill climbing. The UK hills are nothing like the hills I would climb in the Etape.

I thought about the demands on my body and time and the need for me to be at work. I had completed the Ironman last year and that was my main physical challenge. The Etape was an event I wanted to do but did not have the same intensity to complete. I listened to my body and the experience of not training for a week was enjoyable. I finally decided to give up after changing my mind about twice.

Making the decision to give up has to mean give up. There is no looking back again. The worst part was now seeing my Zipp Wheels and wanting to ride on them. I have decided to continue shorter rides on the weekends to help a colleague train for his Ironman. This would involve about 3-4 hour rides and maybe every 2nd weekend. I did not have to train in the week.

I know my body will lose strength and my leg size will decrease. It is still disappointing when I think about it but I am happy with my decision now. I have committed myself to work and I am enjoying feeling less tiredness and more alert at work.

My coach has said I must set a new target otherwise I will drift into no mans land. I will be thinking about this over weekend. I still want to have a focus for training. I might look at short distance triathlons with less training and work on my speed. I think my legs are built for speed on the flats when riding my bike and I know my swimming can improve. My running is terrible but I can work on this as best as I can. Let see where my decisions take me. I am apologies to all those people reading my blog and wish you a great cycle at the Etape, I am jealous.

Physically beat up

This last week I pushed myself harder in training. I took Chris Carmichael’s DVD on training sessions for hill climbing and completed a 60 minute session on the turbo trainer. It was brilliant because I kept my heart rate the anaerobic zone whilst working legs at a cadence of 50-95. It felt like pushing up hills yet I could keep pedalling for sustained periods of 5- 10 mins. This built up fast twitch muscle fibres and trained my heart at the same time.

I completed my weight session and then did a 4 hour ride on the weekend. My legs in the gym are taking some time to readapt to the 100kg squat. It is happening slowly but feel stronger. The 4 hour ride was averaging above 30km/hour and today I feel beat up. My body is shattered. After the ride I continues to run around doing life things. No rest and today my legs feel like they have had a workout. I know rest is important and that is what I am going to aim for.

This week my coach has increased the midweek ride. I am not sure if I can fit this in. I plan to go to Surrey and ride with the London Dynamos or Kingston wheelers this weekend. I am excited.

Training sessions 28 February 2011

Time to increase time on the saddle. We will keep the weights but lets going to step up the weights to 8-10reps:
1xweight session  1x3h hilly ride (if unable to go to surrey you can do kingsto hill in richmond) 1x4h more flat kind of ride. If you’ve got problems with the time, let me know.

Coach Fran

Etape Du Tour flights booked

I have spent the morning looking at flights to the Etape. According to instructions the pick up times at the airport are 11.00 and 16.00. Any time after this and we have to find out own transport to the start line.

There are limited flights with appropriate times. The best flight I could find has limited seats. Book fast. I booked this morning for myself and one other colleague who is racing. Details below.

We now need to organise the bike transfer and we have completed the logistics. The training is the focus now.

Your travel

Your flight : LondonClermont Ferrand
Friday 15 July 2011

AF5021Voyageur 09:30 London, City Airport (LCY), UNITED KINGDOM –  Terminal
Last check in time : 09:15
12:05 Paris, Orly (ORY), FRANCE

Operated by : CityJet Aircraft : Fokker 50 Meal(s) served on board :
Class : N Duration : 01h35, non-stop Allowance : 1 baggage

Friday 15 July 2011

AF7436Voyageur 14:40 Paris, Orly (ORY), FRANCE –  Terminal W
Last check in time : 14:20
15:35 Clermont Ferrand, Aulnat (CFE), FRANCE

Operated by : Air France Aircraft : Fokker 100 Meal(s) served on board :
Information not available
Class : N Duration : 00h55, non-stop Allowance : 1 baggage

Your flight : Clermont FerrandLondon
Monday 18 July 2011

KL2040Voyageur 14:20 Clermont Ferrand, Aulnat (CFE), FRANCE –  Terminal
Last check in time :
15:50 Amsterdam, Schiphol (AMS), NETHERLANDS

Operated by : Air France Aircraft : EMB 135 Meal(s) served on board :
Information not available
Class : N Duration : 01h30, non-stop Allowance : 1 baggage

Monday 18 July 2011

KL2461Voyageur 17:05 Amsterdam, Schiphol (AMS), NETHERLANDS – Terminal
Last check in time :
17:20 London, City Airport (LCY), UNITED KINGDOM

Operated by : Air France Aircraft : Avro RJ85 Meal(s) served on board :
Information not available
Class : N Duration : 01h15, non-stop Allowance : 1 baggage

If you would like to take baggage which exceeds the specified limit, you must pay a supplementary charge when checking in.
To find out the status of your requests or change your preferences, go on our website at any time and visit the Your Reservations section.


Fare excluding taxes : 188.00 GBP
Taxes and surcharges : 370.22 GBP
Service charge : 0.00 GBP
Total amount paid online : 558.22 GBP

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I looked at the course this morning and it looks like gradients ranging from 6.2 to 8% with three main climbs. The middle climb is the shortest at 4.4 km but the steepest. The longest climb is 8km long. I want to find similar gradients and practice on them. I am interested in a bike camp in June.

I look forward to training tomorrow. My bike mechanic needs to look at my bike as it is having mechanical problems.