The numbers never lie.

Posted by James Greenwood | 10:02 AM | View Comments

Innovative Fitness, the company for which I work, is about to wrap up its second Nutrition Challenge.

This challenge was put out to all of our customers to challenge them to make lifestyle changes and not only commit to these changes, but be held accountable to the commitment.

In short: cut out the bad stuff and replace it with the good stuff, exercise more consistently and and basically move outside of their comfort zone, and hopefully set the wheels in motion for the laying down of new and healthier behaviors that will last beyond the 30 day challenge.

Points are awarded for weight loss, submission of daily food logs, taking part in events both in and outside of the facility.

The challenge started on 1 October with a weigh in, assessment of body composition, Basal Metabolic Rate and Metabolic Age. It ends on November 1 with the big weigh in and the determination of who is the champion.

It is a great challenge no doubt, and so simple. Yet it all hinges on numbers. The numbers do not lie. There is no hiding from what the numbers say!

Without an initial weigh in, there is nothing to compare your improvement against. If there is no calculation of BMR, how do you know what your daily caloric requirements are, how many calories you need to remove to illicit a weight loss response.

This challenge provides us with an excellent example of how anyone who is serious about improving their performance, overall fitness or body composition, should approach the task.

What I mean is that without some sort of baseline value to measure improvement against, the hours and hours spent working toward the goal would be pointless.

So why is that so many participants in physical activity train from day to day, with no real idea of where they started and where they are going.

I call this type of activity Random Acts of Training (RAT).

All to often, there is a definite end point to which are committing a large chunk of time and resources, but we have no baseline or starting point against which we can compare our intervention (running program, weight loss plan, strength training plan).

It can be so simple to set up a little self assessment for yourself. It certainly does not require a high tech lab and a PhD in Sports Science.

For example, if you are a runner, a 1.5 mile on a treadmill at 1% gradient, with the goal being to cover the distance in as short a time as possible. A Cyclist might do a 40km time trial, a rower a 2000 indoor Erg session.

Weight loss would require a weigh in and perhaps a body composition assessment and muscle endurance might be how many push ups you can do till muscle failure.



In fact as long as you can repeat the "test" in exactly the same way, every 6 to 8 weeks, anything will go - it is up to you.

Of course there are a couple things you must remember to record to be able to compare you second tests results against:
  • The time of day, day and date you complete the test
  • The time taken to cover the distance, your weight or whatever parameter you are measuring.
  • If you have a heart rate monitor, record your average heart, maximum heart rate and calories expended as a result of the effort.
The next step is apply your intervention. This might be your training program or an eating plan or stretching program. If you are consistent and stick to the plan diligently, when you re-assess yourself after 6 - 8 weeks, you will notice an improvement.

This might be a faster time, a drop in percentage body fat or increase in the number of push ups completed. There might not an improvement in time, but perhaps your average heart rate is 10 beats per minute lower for the effort.



You now know for certain that the time and effort you have been committing to the program is paying dividends and that you are on the correct road to realizing your ultimate goal.

Always remember: the numbers never lie!

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete. He has is a level 1 Triathlon Coach, holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA.

James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and Training Coach at Innovative Fitness in Vancouver. He has also starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

The Fall and Winter months are, for many endurance athletes, a time to give their bodies and minds a well deserved break from the routine and the intensity of training and racing.

In terms of recovery, it is an important part of the training cycle, because it allows the bodies anatomical structures and physiological systems time to recover and regenerate. It also provides our minds an opportunity to unwind the tightly wound spring that has developed as a result of months and training and racing.

With the approach of Thanksgiving, Halloween and New Years eve, all of which fall into a short 2-3 month period, our nutrition can fall to the wayside, with disasterus results.

Please keep in mind that maintaining racing weight and body composition year round, is not a realistic goal for this period either - even for the Elite level athlete.

So while you are planning your Off season, remember to spend some time adjusting your nutrition plan, to reflect the adjusted training volumes and intensities.

The formula for maintain a healthy body weight is an extremely simple one:

Weight maintenance: Calories in = Calories out
Weight gain: Calories in > Calories out

It is an extremely fine line between weight maintenance and weight gain. Even a few hundred additional calories consumed each day, over the course of a month can easily equate to the gain of a couple of additional pounds.

So how does one go about determining your daily caloric needs?

The equations below, will assist you to determine the number of calories you require per day. Exceed this number, gain weight, balance this number, or as close to it as possible, and you will stand a better chance of maintaining your weight.

Women:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) - (4.7 X age in years)

Men:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds + (12.7 X height in inches) - (6.8 X age in years)

BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories you require to keep your body functioning optimally over a 24 hour period.

It is important to remember that there is no "good" or "bad" BMR. It is a highly individual, and can be affected by factors such as age, gender, level of conditioning and body composition.

After calculating your BMR, you will need to add a few additional calories to the BMR value to account for you activity level:

  • You do not exercise regularly: BMR X 1.2
  • Exercise lightly 1 - 3 times per week: BMR X 1.375
  • Exercise moderately 3 - 5 times per week: BMR X 1.55
  • Exercise hard 6 - 7 times per week: BMR X 1.725
  • You have a physically demanding job and exercise every day or are training for a sports event or big event (e.g. marathon): BMR X 1.9
You have now predicted the number of calories you require on a daily basis.

So now you can balance the Calories In VS Calories Out equation.

Calories out can be estimated using a heart rate monitor, while calories in can be estimated by looking at food labels' calorie content for a single serving.

The number you get from the watch at the end of a workout provides you with a ball park figure, so do not take it as gospel!

You can also use resources such as those found on the Livestrong site, and using the Daily Plate app, which provides you with a search engine for almost all food types caloric content.

Taking these simple steps during the Off season, will set you up for an excellent Pre-season, without the worry of having to drop those unwanted pounds gained through the Off-season.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

You might not win the race in the swim, but you certainly can lose it.

In a few of my most recent posts I have written about pacing strategy and the danger of outracing your training.

I would like to expand on these themes by briefly discussing the impact the swim leg of a triathlon can have on the bike, run and overall race day performance.

The saying goes, "you might not win the race in the swim, but you certainly can lose it". I agree with this statement 100%.


(Triathlon of Paris - USA Today)

The effort put out in the swim should be a controlled one, and be used to lay the foundation for the remainder of the race. Too much output to early, can have dire consequences later in the race, on your bike and your run performance.

An interesting study performed at the University of Western Australia found that in the Sprint distance event, "a swimming intensity below that of a time trial effort significantly improves subsequent cycling and overall triathlon performance".

This study found that racing at 20% below time trial swim velocity, gave the fastest overall time in the group tested.

I know there is a massive difference between the race strategies, and swim strategy, of the different racing distances e.g. sprint VS Ironman, but I believe we can learn a lot from this study.

By keeping our swimming intensity under control, and slightly below what we know we can swim for that distance on its own, we can be confident that we are setting ourselves up for a better bike leg and overall race performance.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.



Our brain is alive with conversations with itself for almost all of our waking hours.

This self-talk is comprised of both the purposeful and random thoughts that run through our minds, and include all the things we say in our heads and out loud.

Self talk is comprised of both positive and negative thoughts. Positive self talk impact our ability to focus on a goal, motivation and enthusiasm. Negative self talk, on the other hand, is the "trash talk" we heap upon ourselves: self-critical and pessimistic thoughts that saps our energy and drive.

How many times before a big event have you thought, "there is no way I have done sufficient training for this event," even though you have followed your program to the "T".

Perhaps you are checking into the start of your first Ironman or a marathon, and you find your your thoughts awash in negative self talk like "I have no business being at this race" or "I'm probably going to come in last, if I finish at all" or all-consuming "Look at these great athletes - there's no way I'm as good as them."

Let me assure you that, from first time racers to Olympians, negative self talk invades the minds of every athlete, in every sport, from every country, at some point in their racing career. By pointing out how common negative self talk is, I am by no means downplaying its affect on performance. Negative self talk can significantly and negatively impact your race training and event performance.

So where does such negativity come from? There are any number of sources, depending on the individual, but these five seem to be very common amongst athletes:
  1. Reliving the past
    Reliving a poor performance or experience at a particular race is a common problem especially if it led to severe consequences such as not finishing the race or perhaps coming off your bike. These experiences are reinforced with their negative re-telling: "I can't wipe out like that again" or "Like an idiot, I went too hard on the hills and blew my race."

  2. Trying to control the future:
    On the other side of the coin is trying to control the future. Perhaps you find comfort in narrowly focusing on one or few parts of the race. By zeroing in on one aspect of the race, a strong marathon leg for example, what we gain in control, we lose in the big picture and for example, leave our swim and bike to chance.

    Along the same lines is another favorite of mine: the "What if..." [insert undesirable race condition here]. "What if it's too windy", "What if it's raining"... you get the picture.

  3. Focusing on weaknesses during competition:
    We all have a weakness or two that we continually fight to improve in training. For some athletes, this weakness can become a serious performance limiter, from a mental not physical perspective.

    Perhaps you really struggle with the start of the swim at a triathlon. In the days leading up to the race you end up spending so much energy playing all the scenarios through in your mind that come race day, you are riddled with anxiety and emotionally exhausted.

  4. Focusing only on outcome:
    There are two ways we can look at most things in life: outcome focused or systems focused.

    When we give all of our energy to the outcome, we lose track of the steps or the plan we need to follow to reach the final outcome successfully. We might neglect to rehydrate or perhaps fail to execute our racing strategy. Whatever the consequence, remaining in the present at all times is very important.

  5. Demanding perfection:
    Most endurance athletes are driven and highly motivated individuals, showing many, if not all, of the Type A personality traits. This is a good thing when it comes to being disciplined, focused, dedicated and committed to fitness and their sport.

    However, it's a bad thing if your personal bar is set unrealistically high. In my experience, performance perfection for even truly great athletes is completely unrealistic. And ultimately the pursuit of this perfection creates stress and feelings of failure, and misplaced pressure leading to doubt and negative talk.
So now we have a few ideas of where these negative conversations might arise from, and why they might occur, let's have a look at a few strategies that might help to overcome the negative thoughts , and build some positive energy.


  1. Work on increasing your awareness of self-talk, both positive and negative.
    Increasing awareness of these negative thoughts is the logical starting point for getting the upper hand over them. Remember, negative talk can occur in practice and during racing. Try to identify when thoughts begin to turn toward the negative, and be aware of when they are positive too.

    Perhaps thoughts lose their positivity in the days leading up to your competition. Is it when you are swimming at your Masters group and doing a tough set of intervals you become critical of yourself? Whatever the situation, being aware allows you to begin developing a strategy to deal with it.

  2. Stop the negative (easier said than done)
    Once you have learned to recognize what negative self-talk "sounds like", you begin working on ways to stop it before it before it escalates. A mental cue / key word such as "STOP" or "NO", will bring you back to reality and allow you implement your negative talk ending strategy.

  3. Start the positive (easier said than done)
    Positive thoughts and images are what you are striving to have in your head during training and racing. As soon as you recognize the onset of the negative, flip the mental switch that turns on the positive thoughts and messages in your head, and switches off the negative. Also, start looking for the style and content of positive self talk that works for you.

  4. Practice, practice, practice!
    Having identified the positive talking points above, it will progressively become a easier to replace negative with positive. But, and I can't stress this enough, positive self talk in athletes takes practice and has a training trajectory just like any part of a race.

    Start in the off-season. If you're in the midst of a long training and race season, you'll need to keep those thoughts as positive as possible.

    Do them at every opportunity, in training, through the course of your day and in racing. The increase in your self confidence and reduction in levels of anxiety and stress, will become clearly evident as your performance improves.
The psychology of sport has been gaining a lot more attention over the past few years as a component of athletic performance. And there are any number of other strategies out there that can be used to assist you improve your mental resilience and enable you to boost your physical performance.

Do you have a mental strategy which you have had success with? We would love to hear what it is and how you use it.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

A common error made by triathletes while racing is attempting to race at a level that exceeds their level of fitness. You might have heard this referred to as "outracing your training" and it is intricately tied to your race pacing strategy.

An error that is very easy to make, and can be extremely difficult to recover from. Let's use a fictitious athlete "Mike", an avid and fairly experienced endurance athlete.

Mike has done much of his training for his Ironman race with the goal of maintaining a 220 - 230 watt output for the bike leg, which for him, translates into a predicted time of roughly 5h30.

His training has developed his fitness on the bike to the point that he is confident he will be able to achieve this goal without to much distress, and he has developed a solid race strategy to follow during the bike leg that will take him to the run leg feeling confident and not overly fatigued.

In theory, and during his build up events, his numbers were spot on. He was diligent about following his pacing strategy, and his lead up went according to plan. Unfortunately the day of Ironman proved to be a different story.

Mike got caught up in the post swim adrenalin rush, and spent the first 3 hours of the 180km bike leg working about 4% above his planned output, which might not seem like much, but over 180 minutes, the added effort takes its toll on the each and every muscles fiber. It depletes the body's energy reserves a more rapidly than anticipated, and fatigue begins to set in, not only on the body but on the psyche too.

Fortunately Mike is a seasoned campaigner and he was able to reign things in before the wheels came off completely.



He backed off the elevated output enough to allow the muscles to recover thanks to the more reasonable level of intensity. He took on board additional calories to re-supply his body's energy reserves. He also took a few minutes to regroup mentally, allowing time to re-focus and redirect his efforts back onto working to his original bike strategy.

Lucky guy! For the less experienced participant, getting caught up drama and excitement of the big day can often lead to athletes "outracing their training" and before they know it, the wheels of their race have come off completely.

We sometimes forget that we have only conditioned our body to a certain level and yet often when we enter the racing environment, our expectations of what our bodies are capable of delivering become inflated.

In Mike's case, he believed that he could increase and sustain his power output by 9 watts. At the time, the increased demand he placed on his body seemed completely acceptable. But, for novice and veteran racers alike, out-racing your training is a sure way to throw your race completely. Fortunately he was able to make the necessary adjustments before it was to late, and he still managed to reach his time goal.

I can't stress it enough -- stick with your racing pace strategy. You did not invest in all that training to try to "out-race" yourself... it's one race you are guaranteed to lose.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Cut the corners

I remember high school rugby practices and being shouted at by our coach for cutting corners when running the fields for training or punishment. He often made us re-run the lap, punishment for the infraction.

Thankfully, as adults training for Ironman, there are no negative consequences to "cut the corners" or, in more technical terms, run the tangents.

We all know that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line, and after long day of swimming and cycling, how nice would it be to be able to cut the marathon a little bit shorter - legally?

This can be achieved by cutting through the running course's corners, even if you have only half the road to work with. If you have the entire road, all the better.

Remember to always pay close attention to what is taking place around you. Ensure your strategy does not impact on other athletes, or, most importantly, break any race rules. You can better your odds of this by knowing your race route ahead of time.

Using a simple strategy such as this one will not only save you a bunch of energy, but shorten your run time too. Our former high school coaches may not approve, but then they've likely never run an Ironman.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Having a well planned and well rehearsed pacing strategy in any race can mean the difference between success and failure, especially if you are on the race course for the better part of a day.

A few weeks ago, I completed the Oliver Half Ironman. I somewhat overdid things on the bike and paid the toll on the run leg.

Through months and months of training, I have become very in tune with my body. I know, almost to the beat, where my thresholds are, and when I am exceeding my level of conditioning. I know exactly when I am "under-doing" and "over-doing" things.

During my training, I practiced my cycling and running pacing strategies and knew exactly what I had to do. I knew at exactly what heart rate I needed to work at to achieve my 3 hour bike split, and I knew that this would not do to much harm to my body ahead of the run.

I started the bike leg at my rehearsed pace and felt really good, never feeling like I was exceeding my training and fitness. As I progressed through the course I let my discipline and attention to my race plan slide, just a little at first, and as the finish line approached, I picked things up.

I ended up riding a 2:45 bike split, my heart rate was, on average, about 8 beats above the upper limit I had set for myself in training.

All that attention to pacing strategy during cycling practice had gone out the window. And boy did I ever feel it in the middle of the half marathon.

The first 5km of the run also saw a slide in my self discipline. I allowed the adrenaline of finishing the bike leg and the energy and excitement of the crowds to push me through the first 4km at a completely unrealistic half marathon pace.

The price: a 1:55 half marathon, filled with pain and suffering. The middle 7km was spent running from aid station to aid station.


Mind vs. Body (Fightticker.com)

I felt like a UFC referee in the middle of a battle between two heavy weights -- except the fighters were my body and my mind. Body wanted to walk or stop, but my mind was saying "No way! Go hard!"

I ended up only walking through aid stations while I took on fluids and nutrition, and crossed the finish line at 5 hours and 15 minutes, 15 minutes faster than my previous best time. I rank my time a 10 out of 10, but my pace execution gets a big fat 0 out of 10!

If my time was so great, why am I sweating my pacing strategy so much? For me, a Half Iron allowed me to see the strengths and weakness in my training. I now feel very confident that I have physical conditioning to push through a full Iron. However, it's clear that I need to develop better psychological control in order the execute my pace strategy and meet my race goals.

The Oliver Half was forgiving enough and I was in good enough shape to blow my pacing and still come out on top. However, a full Iron will not be so forgiving. One error in judgment could cost me my race, not just a decent finish time. A solid pacing strategy is both comfort and contingency: the comfort to know you're on track and the contingency when something goes sideways.

Over the final few weeks before the big day, I will be investing time to improve my psychological powers of patience and concentration, so I do not have another day like I had in Oliver. It's no wonder that tri coaches like Troy Jacobson and others have training resources dedicated to mental toughness. Ironman is as much a mental test as it is a physical test.

Trust me when I say I will be practicing to perform! And so should you.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

The toughest part of training for a triathlon is finding the time to master each discipline.

With swimming, biking and running each requiring a fairly sizable time commitment every week, especially when training for the longer distance events, there is not a whole lot of time left over for anything else.

Even if there was additional time at your disposal, having already set aside anywhere from 8 to 24 hours of training for the week to your training, the question is whether you would actually want to add another hour of activity in your program.

When it comes to resistance training, the benefits are certainly clear, and for a pretty small time investment, you stand to receive a number of benefits.



I accept that to be able to complete and Iron distance race (or any endurance event for that matter), the primary focus of your training has got to be swimming, biking and running. No amount of core work and joint stabilization exercises will provide the fitness required to successfully complete the event.

However, a small amount of resistance training, an hour or 2 each week, has the potential to have a significant impact on your bodies resilience to injury, increasing your ability to perform thousands of swim strokes, pedal strokes and leg turn overs, efficiently and economically, and provide the mind with a change of pace and scenery.

So as we move deeper into race season, and the body begins to feel the effects of the hours and hours of S-B-R training, our first impulse is to cut the "non-essential activities" from the program.

And so the resistance training falls by the way side. Forgotten, perhaps until the fall or winter, when the weather begins to turn.

Sure we can all get away without performing resistance training, and most of us do. But as soon as we feel that niggle creep into the knee or shoulder, perhaps a full blown injury develops, or our body just does not cope with the rigors of the racing as well as we might have liked, the first words we utter are,"I need to get stronger".

Becoming stronger, becoming more resilient does not necessarily require more running, cycling or swim training. On the contrary, it might actually require a little less!

It does however require you to look at what elements are missing from your training program, and with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps you will not be so quick to drop the resistance training next time around.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Easy does it up the hills.


Photo by: Bernhard Thompson

Hills are a part of of every endurance athletes life and you tend to either love them or hate them.

Personally, I enjoy riding and running up hills, and find that the more I train on them and focus on keeping a positive mental attitude toward them, the better I am able to conquer them.

Developing your own hill strategy during your training goes a long way to preparing you mentally and physically for what you will face on race day.

Over the years, I have noticed there are two general approaches amateur athletes take when riding up hills:

Strategy 1: Attack the hill with all your might. Hammer down on the pedals and see the heart rate go through the roof. Burn through a bunch of energy in no time at all. Set the quads on fire and get over the hill as quickly as possible. Hope to recover on the way down the other side.

Strategy 2: Easy does it. Keep your gears light and cadence up. Focus on keeping your heart rate under control and any extreme tension off the quads. No need to really recover on the way
down.


Photo by: Runners World

The differences between the 2 approaches are pretty obvious, and if you are looking to break a course record or place in your age group, then you will have to condition yourself to tolerate these increases in output and suffering described in Strategy 1.

If you are middle of the pack to back of the back athlete, it is about keeping the number of hard efforts you do through the course of the race to a minimum. In fact, if you look at it from a Return on Investment (ROI) perspective, you will realize that:

Climbing using Strategy 1 requires a fairly sizable investment of energy, power and mental strength, giving back a fairly small ROI - perhaps a few kilometers per hour.

Climbing using Strategy 2 requires a noticeably smaller investment, delivering a smaller ROI - you do slow down, however...

The energy you save with a steady pace up the hill will provide you with a greater ROI while on the downhills and the flat sections. On these sections you are easily able to gain a noticeable increase in your speed, while expending much less energy than when you were climbing.

In other words, the physiological and psychological distress you place on the muscular system and the cardio-vascular systems, thanks to riding hills hard, is definitely not worth the momentary handful of kilometers per hour you gain over those around you.

So in my view, if you want to invest your energy wisely on race day -- save your energy and power for the flats and downhills. And always remember... easy does it up the hills!

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.



Very few sporting events come close to Ironman for the sheer duration of continuous activity.

With the winners finishing the race in around eight and a half to nine hours, and the tail end of the race coming in about 10 hours later, it is truly a long day at the office.

Speaking of a long day at the office, I just returned from a training camp in Penticton, British Columbia in preparation of Ironman Canada. My wife, Caroline, and I trained for a total of 13 hours over 3 days. During this time, something she said three weeks ago kept popping into my head. With the average competitor taking roughly 13 hours to cross the finish line, she observed, "Ironman is more of a long, slow distance training day, than an all out race."

Obviously some urgency is required if cut off times are a concern, but for the majority of us, it is a long day of steady and sustained output.

Pushing to hard at any time will certainly have dire consequences at a later stage of the event. I believe that the primary goal for the average, middle of the pack participant should be energy conservation and avoiding putting undue stress on the muscles to early on in the day.

I have created a few challenges that I am going to keep in mind over the next 2 months to ensure I am able to optimally conserve as much energy as possible, and avoid burning my muscles out early on:
  1. I am going to let faster athletes pass, without reacting and trying to hold their pace.
  2. I am going to focus solely on my own race strategy and try to ignore what others are doing. I will not get drawn into racing someone elses race
  3. If I feel like I am in trouble, I am going to back off the intensity for a few minutes, reassess the situation, and then make as calm a decision as possible.
  4. I am going to try to smile as much as possible throughout the day!
The bottom line is that any Iron distance triathlon runs its course over an entire day, so what is the rush?

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

As we move into July, the race season is in high gear (pun intended). After the last few months of training, I am sure your bodies are strong and ready for action.

I am 8 weeks out from Ironman Canada and my weekly training volume is huge when compared to my historical 'big weeks" for other endurance races like marathons, bike rides and Half Irons.

At the start of my journey to Ironman Canada, I decided to pay really close attention to the small things:

  • Getting sufficient and quality rest / sleep: I purchased a new mattress and started getting to bed 1 hour earlier.
  • Nutrition and hydration: I planned to eat very small meals every 2 to 3 hours and to focus on balanced meals and correct portion sizes.
  • Remaining flexible and mobile to remain injury free: I committed to stretching, rolling and icing after every training session.
Sleeping and eating have never been to much of a problem for me. Flexibility training, on the other hand, has always been one component of fitness I have pretty much always breezed past - until the start of this journey.

I committed to stretching and rolling for a minimum of 10 minutes after each and every training session, and after a few sessions, my mental aversion to stretching began to dissolve.



I began to actually feel the difference in my joints and muscles and realized that stretching has as much to do with our mental and emotional training as it does with our physical training.

I realized that to get the most from my stretching, I would have to accept that stretching was an integral part of the training session. Without it the session was not done to perfection. I even adjusted my program so that a 90 minute run became a 100 minute session (allowing for my 10 minutes of stretching).

This little bit of "psychology" pushed me passed the mental state of not really wanting to stretch -- a state I'm sure many of you can relate to.

I also laid my hands as many resources to help me get the most from every minute of stretching. I incorporate rubber bands and tubing, foam rollers, massage balls and rollers, and a rolling wand into my stretching sessions.

Each day I try to use a different piece of equipment which helps me to avoid the boredom that inevitably creeps in when the same stretches are done from one day to the next.

I also like to use trainer led stretching sessions. These seem to make the time pass by a little bit faster.



We all know the benefits of stretching and maintaining our flexibility, yet the majority of athletes do not spend nearly enough time working on flexibility and range of motion training.

I believe that the decision not to incorporate a comprehensive flexibility plan into our training on a regular basis is due to the belief that we will not suffer if we don't stretch. I've hear a lot of "I have never had an injury before and have never stretched. Why should I start now?"

Like you, I devoted most of my training hours to improving my swim, bike and run performance. So there was never a whole bunch left over for other modes of training i.e. resistance training, yoga and flexibility training.

After a decade and a half of training this way, I've notice the difference the last six months of stretching has made in my training.

It is clear to me how even a short 10 minute stretch can speed up recovery, reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and joint tenderness, increase energy levels from both physical and mental stand point, and help me to remain niggle-free through more than 20 hours of swimming, running and cycling per week.

Starting tomorrow, I challenge you to spend just 10 minutes stretching after every single workout. Do it for 14 days, religiously, and I have no doubt you will feel the difference for yourself.



James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Remain in the aerodynamic position for as much of the bike leg as possible.

As the name 'aero bar' implies, this piece of equipment is specifically designed for cutting through the air on the bike with the least effort and output as possible.

In order to get the maximum benefit from your aero bar, it makes sense to attempt to remain in the aerodynamic position for as much time as possible.

Naturally, there will be situations where you will be required to sit up, like climbing a hill. But for the most part the greatest gains in time and performance will be seen while in the aero position.



From a bioenergetics (energy expenditure) point of view, reducing your frontal surface area can assist you to work at a desired level of output but at a lower energy cost. A result of the reduced resistance from the air as you move through it.

Furthermore, reduced muscular activity of the upper body's musculature, again a result of being in the supported aero position, will play a part in reducing overall energy expenditure over the duration of the entire ride.

Less energy expended on the bike means more energy for the run.

From a Biomechanical point of view, being in the aero position allows the glute max muscle group to do the lions share of the work, ensuring the hamstring musscles are not doing trying to do the job of the glute max and becoming unduly fatigued.

Less energy output, less fatigued hamstrings... sounds like the recipe to a more comfortable and efficient run off the bike to me.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

There are two types of surprises that may present themselves on race day: the 'never saw that coming' surprise and the 'I should have seen it coming' surprise.

Flat tires, a super strong head wind or another athlete doing something careless to cause an accident all fall under the 'never saw it coming' category. These occurrences are all completely out of our control. As we race more, we learn to deal with them but we can't predict them, so there is no point shifting any of our focus away from our training to deal with them.

On the other hand, part of our training focus should be to review the course before race day to avoid a long list of 'I should have seen it coming' surprises. Hill gradients far steeper than you ever expected, wildly inadequate aid stations along the route, and don't forget about those hidden gems like cattle grates railway tracks, potholes and uneven surface -- all hidden danger zones. These "surprises" can throw you off your race day pacing, energy and hydration strategy very easily, and quickly deplete your reserves of positive mental attitude.

Basically they can make or break your race.

So ask yourself this... If you have not prepared mentally and physically for the race course, how can you expect to exert dominance over the course?

Know your race course.

Ideally, we'd all love to train on the race course itself -- swim in the waters of the race venue, ride the bike leg and run on the course. It is an excellent opportunity to get to know the race course profile including location and duration of the climbs, the flats, the danger zones including tight turns or obstructed sight lines.



If you are able to spend some time on the course pre-race day, be sure to pay close attention to aspects such as:
  1. Where you will enter and exit the water, the general layout of the swim course and what you might be able to use for sighting during the swim.

  2. Where you can make up time, on the bike and the run, without putting to much out, and where you should 'hold back' to conserve energy.

  3. Where the aid stations will be placed along the course. This impacts your race hydration and nutrition strategy.

  4. On the bike and the run course, develop a good understanding of the terrain and the course profile. This knowledge will help you develop the best race day strategy possible.

  5. Being on the race course, at the same time of day as the race, you will hopefully get to experience the environmental conditions first hand. For example: perhaps the race is run in a hot and dry climate and your training is done mostly in cooler, wetter conditions. How will the different environmental conditions impact your performance? Will you need to adjust your pacing strategy? What will the impact be on your hydration and nutrition strategy? Will it affect your race result goals?

For me, knowledge of the race course increases my confidence and allows me to focus on other aspects of my preparation.

I also find it helps to discuss it with a training partner or listen to others talk about the course... "At kilometer 93 it just kicks up, and keeps going up. It was the steepest hill I have ever climbed - brutal." Yes, that climb is steep. But it's just another part of the course, and it won't break my race because I have experienced it, and have prepared myself accordingly.

Start online and have a better finish on the ground.

With life's other commitments, training on the course, arriving at the race venue 5 - 7 days before race day or getting to the venue for training camps, may be a luxury. Fortunately, there are other ways to 're-con' the course without even being on the course itself.

Start with the official event website. Here you should be able to acquire course maps and course descriptions, and if you are very fortunate, a profile of the race course. I like to know if I am in for a 12km, 9% climb at kilometer 130. At least my training can take this into consideration and I prepare mentally and physically for it.

If the official event site has limited information, many organizers will give you a profile, but no gradient details, go to MapMyRun.com and MapMyRide.com to get a better idea of the course profile.



Look at what you will be riding and running on, and use this to further refine your training program accordingly.

If the bike course is a very hilly one, with long climbs and short steep rollers, make sure you are doing hill work, and focusing on power intervals to keep your output consistent through and over each ascent. Being able at accelerate the crest and then accelerate down the other side.

On the run, if the course is fairly flat and fast, you would want to put time into developing your lactate tolerance, with sub-threshold tempo work and threshold increasing training.

The old adage 'if you fail to plan, plan to fail' fits in perfectly here. So take my advice and spend an extra day or even just a couple of hours researching the race course. This will minimize the 'I should have seen it coming' surprises during your event and help you have the best possible race result.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

What do you do if you live in a part of the world that is super flat? Roly Poly rides for you are getting over the neighborhood speed bumps, and seriously long hill climb is nothing more involves riding from the street up to your front door.

Well, as an athlete this poses a pretty serious problem.

Firstly, because finding a race outside of your area that too is super flat is going to be pretty challenging, and secondly, hill work is recognized as one of the best ways to improve cycling and running specific strength, and ultimately your overall performance.

So let's look at a couple of options available to you.

Option 1: Ignore the hill training component of your training program, and hope that you can somehow muscle your way around the hilly race course.

Option 2: Pack all your training gear into your car, drive to the nearest hill, wherever that might, and do your training session. Repeat every week for the next 16 weeks!

Option 3: Rent or purchase a Spinervals indoor training session from Mypypeline.com that will give you a solid indoor, hill training session, essential in overcoming any hill that lies between you and the finish line.

Personally, I like Option 3 the best for the following reasons:

1: Spinervals are simple to use
- check out The Uphill Grind and you can rent or buy the session. It is delivered to you as a streaming video or as a download into your I-tunes. Use the coupon code below to give this tough session go - for free!



2: Spinervals are simple to do - All you need is about 60 minutes, your bike and an indoor spinner, a heart rate montior (ideally), and a sweat towel - of course

3: Spinervals do not require an actual hill

Spinervals are indoor cycling sessions led by internationally known Triathlon coach Troy Jacobson. Coach Troy has developed a number of Indoor sessions specifically designed and tailored to improve cycling performance, and in this case, your climbing skills and climbing fitness.

This session rates 9.5/10 on the difficulty rating scale, giving you just what you want, but more importantly, what you need -the climbing ability of a mountain goat!


James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

I have researched whether concurrent Strength training and Endurance training improves endurance performance in cyclists. I have have read any number of articles (journal and magazine) and have heard the opinion of "experts", athletes and coaches from Cape Town to Vancouver, and still the jury seems to be undecided.

In fact, over the years, the "endurance sports jury" has seldom been able to reach consensus as to whether endurance athletes do in fact need to incorporate strength training into their program.

The endurance community, athletes and coaches, seems unable to commit to a definitive answer as to whether or not athletes should be incorporating strength training into their programs.

My belief is that Strength training encompasses any activities that overload the bodies structures and physiological systems (muscular, skeletal, neural etc). It does not need to be pushing heavy weights in the gym, in fact, I believe that some of the best gains in sport specific strength and power can be gained from body weight and non-equipment based activities.



I would perhaps even go so far as to say that Strength training could include activities such as running hill repeats, Big gear training on the bike or Swimming with paddles or fins.



Personally, I feel every athlete should have some form of strength training as part of their training routine, and it is this belief that got me thinking about the reasons why.

So here are 10 reasons, in no particular order of importance, why I believe all triathletes (endurance athlete) should be doing at least one strength training session each week:

Reason 1: Injury prevention
Strength training overloads the bodies connective tissue structures, forcing them to adapt to the greater loads and forces they experience. The stronger the structure, the more resilient it becomes to the training volume and intensity we apply to it during swimming, cycling and running.

Reason 2: Performance enhancement
A muscle that is more resistant to fatigue and is better able to generate greater force and power, all with less energy output is what every athlete is searching for. Progressively overloading the muscle will develop its ability to generate forces, all at a lower cost of energy expenditure.

Reason 3: Balancing muscle imbalances
Endurance sports are highly repetitive in nature and with this repetition, certain muscle groups get used far more than others, resulting in imbalances between opposing muscle groups. Using strength training to bring these "underused" muscles up to par with the stronger groups can alleviate the many risks associated with muscle imbalances. A good example is the Quads and the Hammies. The Quads deliver 66.6% of the power while the Hammies deliver 33.3% (the ratio is 3:1). Triathlon is very Quad dominant, and weak hamstrings result in deterioration of performance, so incorporating Hamstring strengthening will be of enormous benefit to you.

Reason 4: Reduce mental staleness
Mental staleness and boredom come into every athletes life at one time or another and by having a variety of modes of improving fitness and performance, we can minimize the risk of becoming bored. Strength training offers a completely different paced workout than traditionally highly structured S-B-R sessions. It also provides us with new challenges and allows room for a a little more creativity creativity.



Reason 5: Improved physiological parameters
Strength training has a direct impact on the composition of the body: increasing lean body mass (muscle mass), and this in turn plays a part in the reduction of the bodies fat mass. We all know that many physiological performance markers such as: movement economy, power to weight ratio and even VO2max, are influenced by body composition, so instead of spending $2000 on a new set of rims for your bike to make your rig lighter, why not work on increasing your muscle mass and thus increase your power to weight ratio?

Reason 6: Strength training is Interval training
After all the Long, Slow Distance training we do in our quest for improved endurance, a change in pace and intensity can be just what the doctor ordered. Strength training is a form of Interval training, with each exercise completed elevating the heart rate and exertion level, followed by a short break / recovery to move to or set up the next exercise. The ultimate form of Interval Strength training is best done in the Circuit Style of training.

Reason 7: Improves overall athleticism
I have often heard non-endurance athletes say that Triathletes are the fittest athletes around and if we are talking in a straight swim, bike or run, they might be correct. But when it comes to aspects such as agility, balance, reaction time, and general, functional strength and fitness, I do not believe we stack up that well. Strength training and functional training, not only gives us advantage in our sport, but develops us as all round sportsmen and women.

Reason 8: Helps to maintain postural alignment
We have all seen the impact our lifestyle and our training has on our body. We see our shoulders rounding forward from all the swimming and TT we do. We see our pelvic alignment changing thanks to tight Hip Flexors and weak Glutes. And this is just the tip of the ice berg. By Identifying Strong and Tight muscle groups (Pectorals, Hip Flexors, Calves, Abdominal muscles), and Weak and Long muscle groups ( Rhomboids, Glutes, Tibialis Anterior, Lumbar muscles), we can keep the body balanced and functioning efficiently and effectively.



Reason 9: Increased resilience
Improved tolerance of the body, i.e. its anatomical and physiological systems, to the stresses and loads we place on it can be enhanced by overlaoding the structures and systems using external loads (weights, bands, body mass etc), and this in turn will allow the body to better tolarate and even dissipate these forces, make it a more reslient organism.

And finally - some geeky stuff.

Reason 10: At the muscular level

  • Increases the force production capacity of the muscle.
  • Increases the strength of the Contractile Proteins: Actin and Myosin
  • Improves the ability of the muscle to apply forces as a result of Nervous system adaptations.
  • Possible hypertrophic response of the Slow Twitch Fibers to the Medium resistance - High volume training paradigm.
  • Improves co-ordination and synchronization of muscle groups during activity.
  • Increases Mitochondrial and Capillary density at the muscular level.
  • Increase the overall time to exhaustion of the muscle fiber.
  • A transformation of the overall percentage of FT-A fibers compared with FT-B fibers
There are many, many more reasons why strength training should (must), be considered an essential part of any endurance athletes training and I would even venture so far as to say that by cutting a swim, a bike and run session by 20 - 30 each, and adding 1 or 2 30 - 45 strength training sessions into the mix, you will be amazed and surprised by the outcomes.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Practice open water swimming.



This rule applies to any and all triathletes taking part in a race where the swim leg takes place in open water.

Practicing open water swimming allows you to prepare mentally and physically for swimming in a large body of water with currents and even small waves.

Furthermore, it is an important exercise because you now have to swim without a lane line beneath you, a wall to push off of and the ability to put your feet down when you need a little recovery.

Here are a few things to focus on while you practice your open water swim:
  1. Remaining relaxed will help you to build your open water swimming confidence. That is what it is all about.
  2. Be sure to practice sighting and developing a strategy for sighting. Terry Laughlin from Total Immersion recommends you do not completely raise your head out of the water (to limit fatigue), but rather "surf your goggles" just above the water surface and take a mental snap shot of target. Look up every 4 - 6 strokes.
  3. Swimming with other swimmers around you can lead to increased stress and anxiety, so if at all possible, practice your open water swim with others.
  4. Drafting behind other swimmers can reduce your energy expenditure, but requires practice. So when practicing in open water, try to do it in a small group!
  5. Just because you are no longer in the pool, it does not mean you should forget everything you have learned while swimming indoors. Maintaining good form and pacing strategy are are even more important in the open water.


Do not leave it till race day before you get into the open water. Start practicing in open water now. Just like any other racing skill, it requires continuous practice and attention before you can become competent and confident.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.


With Ironman Canada roughly 10 weeks away, and with training and racing taking up almost all of my time, I have had many hours in the water, on the bike and on the feet, to contemplate a number of topics and issues.

One question I have found myself asking a few times in the last 2 months is, "Why are you actually doing this race?"

At first glance, it seems to be a pretty simple question to answer, and at first attempt I seemed to come up with an answer that seemed to be completely acceptable and satisfactory.

Except, as I mulled over the answer I had come up with, I realized I was not being 100% honest with myself.

My initial answer was that I wanted to take part in an IM becuase it was one of the most challenging single day sporting events 'round. I had done all of the other "run of the mill" endurance events, Marathons, 200 mile bike ride, Half Ironmans and Adventure races etc.

Of course there is some truth in this answer, but it was not the full truth!

With a little more introspection, I soon realized that the part of the answer which I was leaving out was that I wanted to do something that almost none my friends, collegues and peers had done (or even considered doing).

I wanted to be that guy training for the Ironman, while everyone else was training for the Half Ironman. I wanted to be that guy who was always out training, or sleeping to recover from the training. I wanted to be that guy who spoke of epic training sessions that left the hair on any non-Ironmans neck standing up straight.

The question is now where this motivation came from and exactly what does it mean?

Perhaps it is a way of getting attention, or being the centre of it. Perhaps I just want to be "ahead of the bunch" in terms of extreme races done - how many people do you know have done an Ironman? Perhaps I am more competitive than I like to admit, and just want to out do everyone else. Perhaps I like being the exception to rule! I do not know!

The second part of this story began when I started my journey to IMC and made the decision that once IM was completed I was going to take a hiatus from training for the longer distance races, and go back to the shorter stuff - 5km and 10km running races, Olympic and Sprint distanc tri's etc.

Ironman would be my final push toward the pinnacle of triathlon racing. In a way, this was to be my farewell to the long stuff!

What scared me though was that I was actually excited about this change! I was really looking forward to it.

I was excited about not having to spend 20 hours a week training. I was excited about not having to wake up at 4:30am to run for 2 hours. I was excited about being able to watch a movie in the evening - and not have to record the final hour on our PVR because it went on past 9pm (our bedtime).

So as you can see, I have these 2 conflicting emotions inside me, one glad to be the guy training and doing Ironman while those around me are not, and on the other hand, looking forward to not having to be the guy who is always in training for a big race.

Mixed emotions for sure!

And then it hit me - Ironman is such a huge challenge, such a long and difficult journey, from a physical, mental, spiritual, emotional (and financial) point of view, that it can only bring out mixed emotions.

It is virtually impossible to definitively answer the question "Why are you actually doing this race?", in a single sentence or paragraph.

There are just to many emotions and feelings connected to the journey. And they can change at the drop of a hat. So the best I can do is to persevere with the journey, and perhaps upon completing it, things will become a little clearer for me, and few of my questions will be answered.

Rest assured, you will hear the answers when I discover them.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

The last 2 laws of the 10 laws of running injuries brings together the past few postings focused on Tim Noakes' philosophies and thoughts on running injuries.

The 8 laws covered up to know are:

  1. Running injuries are not an act of God
  2. Each injury progresses through 4 grades
  3. Injury means the athlete has reached the point of breakdown
  4. Almost all true running injuries are curable
  5. X-rays and other sophisticated investigative tools are seldom necessary to diagnose injuries
  6. Treat the cause of the injury and not the effect
  7. Rest is seldom the best treatment
  8. Never accept as final the advice of a non-runner
Today will conclude the series by looking at the final 2 laws of the 10.

Law 9: Avoid the knife

Dr Noakes believes that the only injuries where surgery should be considered from the start are:
  • Compartment Syndromes
  • Interdigital Neuromas
  • Chronic Achilles Tendonitis that has lasted for 6 or more months.
  • Back pain from Prolapsed disc
  • Ilio Tibial Band Syndrome (but only when all other traetment options have been attempted and have been unsuccessful).

It is also important that the injury fall into the Grade III or Grade IV category.

The primary concern with having surgery is that it is irreversible, once done, it is final!

Law 10: There is no definitive evidence that running causes osteoarthritis in runners knees whose knees were normal when they started running.

If you started your running career with healthy and normally functioning knees, it is very unlikely you will go on to develop osteoarthritis as a result of running.



Individuals who develop osteoarthritis are typicaly those who have had knee surgery or have suffered some other trauma or injury to knee (footbal players, Soccer players etc) or those who have abnormal knee function or anatomy.

There have been numerous studies performed on long distance runners of all levels, and the findings have seldom proven running causes oastearthirtis of the knee.

The best method to steer clear of injury is to always pay close attention to your body and the messages and signals it is sending you. To ignore them, will surely lead to breakdown.

Here's to you remaining injury free running.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Tip 1 is something that I really have to work hard on in every race I do, and it is not as easy as it sounds.

Progressively build your racing intensity as you move through the each discipline and the race course.

For Ironman this applies to the swim, the bike and the run, and this strategy will ensure you do not blow yourself up early, and live to regret it later.

We can even take this strategy one step further and say that throughout the course of the entire race, work to start out slowly from the start of the and build momentum as you near the finish line on the run leg.



This strategy will help you not only reach the finish line, but more importantly be able to savor the feeling of achieving your goal of finishing an Ironman.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Learn from the experienced.

Posted by James Greenwood | 9:28 AM | , , , | View Comments



Endurance sports have been a part of my life for about 13 years now, and I have committed vast amounts of time and money to the pursuit of greater knowledge and improved physical performance - for both me and the athletes I work with.

In my early twenties I thought I had a pretty good handle on the "ins and outs" of training for endurance events, whether it be a half marathon or a century bike ride, I believed my knowledge was sufficient to be able to prescribe training to athletes of all levels, at a level that would see them reach their ultimate goals.

And I was right - for the most part.

Academic knowledge will get you pretty far to your achieving success and it is pretty easy to obtain: read a book or a magazine, go online to a forum or a website, or listen to a podcast.

The one source of knowledge and information I did not utilize as much as I should have, was the experience of other athletes, both Elite and non-Elite.




I am talking about those individuals who have completed several Ironmans and are still able to push their bodies to greater limits.

These athletes have so much knowledge, and more importantly experience, that I would have been a fool to continue to overlook them as a great (and free) source of information.

My belief that information and advice is not necessarily good or bad, but rather how you use it, that makes it of use or useless.

Let us say for example that you are training for your first Iron distance event (I am). You have been through the triathlon progression of sprints, OD and Half IM distance races (I have). Your training is solid and consistent (mine is ).

The jump from Half Iron race distance to the full meal deal (Iron distance) is a pretty big one. There are so many uncertainties to be faced and dealt with, both in the training and the racing, that it can, at times, becomes a little overwhelming and daunting - even the most steely of competitors.

Enter the experienced athlete.

We all know the guy or girl described above. Believe it or not, they are also only human, and I guarantee you that most of the fear, stress and anxiety you are experiencing, they have experienced, and still experience!

Do not be afraid to ask questions - as many as you can, about anything and everything you have concerns and worries about.

Understand that what they say is not necessarily law, and might go against other information you have acquired over the years. The information you obtain will give you a better idea of whether you are on the right path to reaching your goals.

They are also a fantastic source of motivation and inspiration, both of which are an essential part of getting through the hard months of training required to finish your chosen event, but also to get you through the event itself and to the finish line, alive and in one piece.

So what questions could be asked?

Well it is totally dependent on what areas of your training, race preparation and racing you are concerned about.

You might ask about pacing strategies on the bike leg of the triathlon, or perhaps the best strategy for remaining mentally focused in the last couple of hours of the run leg of the race, or what their taper week looks like.

Ask them about any "mistakes" they have made in training, in the lead up to the race and during the race itself. This will allow you to see that mistakes are actually a positive occurrence and something that should embraced and learned from. Mistakes also allow us to see that these "hard core" individuals are only human - just like us.

Perhaps your questions are equipment related or just if they know of a good place to get Sushi after the race.

If we can avoid making a few mistakes ourselves, and not having to learn a few lessons the hard way, that would be brilliant!

No matter what the event you are working toward, become an expert on all things relevant to that event.Do not pass up any opportunity to learn, whether it is from a book or another athlete.

Remember, knowledge is power, and as triathletes we all know that power is what it is all about.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

Noakes' 10 Laws of Running Injuries: Law 7 and 8

Posted by James Greenwood | 9:00 AM | View Comments

Even when when running injury free, it is essential you remain sensitive to the feedback our bodies send us on an ongoing basis.

This will ensure you are constantly aware of any changes that might be occurring in the body and its various structures and systems, and make the necessary adjustments to facilitate them.

If you are injured, the seventh law of running injuries states that rest is seldom the most appropriate treatment.

Rest treats the symptoms of the injury for example reducing the inflammation, but does not address the underlying cause of the problem.

When you start running again, be prepared to have the same injury re-appear again.

We all know you love to run, and often runners, and athletes in general, ignore the advice and continue with the activity.

Without recommendations on how to work within the limits of the injury, the injury is often made worse.

Noakes recommends continuing running, but only to the point where discomfort is experienced, and then running should be halted. Obviously at this time, the treatment you are receiving, if effective, will be making it possible for you to run progressively further.



If the injury persists throughout the course of the treatment, there is a good chance the diagnosis is incorrect. If after 5 weeks of treatment, there is still no improvement, then more in depth investigation should be carried out as the running injury may well be the result of a less obvious injury, unrelated to running.

So whose advice should you listen to when you have an injury? There are a million arm chair experts, all well meaning with their advise, but in no way qualified to disseminate it.

Noakes' eighth law of running injuries is never accept as a final opinion the advice of a non-runner (doctor or otherwise).

Dr. Noakes offers us 4 simple guidelines with respect to this law:
  1. Always ensure your adviser is a runner. Only a runner has the insight and understanding of the world of running. This does not mean the advice is correct, but it will be more than likely more relevant.
  2. Your adviser must be able to discuss the follwoing factors, in detail the following factors that might have led to your injury:

    • Genetic factors
    • Environmental factors
    • Training factors

  3. If your adviser is unable to cure the injury, there must be a feeling of distress not only about the injury, but also regarding your inability to run. This shows an understanding of the emotional and psychological side of injury.
  4. You should not have to pay a fortune to get treatment in order to return to running.
Consider all the information you have gathered from all sources and take time to assess and analyze it for yourself, before taking action.

Next week we will finish the series by looking at why you should avoid getting operated on at all costs, and clear the misconception that running causes Osteoarthritis in previously uninjured runners.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.

It was at registration for Ironman Canada last August that I was first introduced to compression socks.

I had seen a few athletes training on the days leading up to the race wearing these knee high stockings, and they always reminded me of Javier Sotomayor (see below), from Cuba, Olympic silver medal winner in the Sydney games, and numerous other medals from World and Olympic competitions.



And yes I did think that I would never be caught dead in a pair of those knee high socks!

How wrong was I !

A Pedorthist friend of mine gave my wife and I a pair to try out, and they sat in my drawer for a few months, until we started our training for Ironman Canada 2009.

I decided to give them a try - because I had heard from a few people how great they were and because I could wear them under my winter running tights.

So 6 months later, with Summer here and race season in full swing, I am a convert to the compression sock, wearing them with shorts, in public, with out so much as ounce of self consciousness.

During runs, they do seem to reduce the sensation of fatigue in the legs (especially the muscles of the lower limbs), and my tendons do feel as inflamed after long runs as they have previously .

Whether these effects are the result of the compression of the muscles of the lower limbs, or perhaps they assist you maintain good running mechanics for longer, or perhaps there is an element of the Placebo effect, I do not know.

Whatever the reason, what I do know is that I will be racing my first Ironman in a pair.



So from a more scientific perspective, what could the benefits of these compression socks be and what does the research have to say about performance and compressions socks?

There is not a vast amount of research on the subject, but I was able to get my hands on two papers that investigated compression socks.

The first paper was by Kemmler et al. from the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg in Germany.

The study was developed to, "determine the effect of below the knee compression stockings on running performance in men runners"

The protocol had 21 male runners, without injury and of moderate levels of training, perform 2 step wise tests to maximum with and without compression socks.

The results of the research were very interesting :



The bottom line from the findings was that there appeared to be a correlation between the compression stockings and the improved performances by the participants.

The mechanisms for these improved performances: not fully understood.

The second paper was published by a couple of researchers from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, and this study set out to determine whether "athletes improved their maximal capacity and recovery when running with graded compression socks."

They took 10 healthy male studdents, who all completed 2 identical, maximal exercise protocols with in 7 days of one another. One test was completed with compression socks and the other was completed without the socks.

The subjects concentrations of Lactic Acid was measured at rest and post-run, at 2, 10 and 30 minutes, to dtermine clearance rate of accumulated Lactic Acid.

During the test, various physilogical parameters were measured including: Maximal Oxygen Uptake, Heart Rate and Minute ventilation.

It was found that there was no significant difference in Vo2max, heart rates and minute venitlation between the compression and non-compression runs.

There was however a noticeable difference in the rate at which lactic acid was cleared post run, when wearing the compression socks.

The conclusions drawn by the researchers was that although the compression socks did not have any impact on the participants short term, maximal running performance results, there certainly was a clear improvement in their recovery post activity.

They felt that more investigation was required into how compression socks impact recovery.

So these investigations showed that there was some improvement in performance and recovery as a result of wearing compression socks.

Possible reasons for these improvements might include:
  1. Compression socks might improve venous return to the heart by increasing the efficiency of the calf muscle pump mechanism.
  2. Muscles are kep more compact resulting in a decrease in muscle damage and subsequently a reduction in muscle fatigue.
Only research can provide empirical proof of the benefits and performance enhancing capabilities of compression socks.

I suggest you give a pair a try - see what they do for you. If there is a 1% improvement in your performance or recovery time, it is well worth the effort of rolling on a pair of socks for.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.