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Running Intervals

Go Faster By Doing Interval Training

Intervals are arguably the most effective way to improve your racing performance over almost any distance in any endurance sport.

There is no doubt that in order to get the most from your training, it’s not enough simply to go out and do long slow distance. Swimmers have recognised this seemingly forever and it would be weird to find a swimming club that simply does a 4km straight swim every day.

Running clubs grasp this too, although a lot of road runners never run an interval, other than the occasional fartlek interval. Cyclists might throw in the odd effort up a hill, work to catch another rider in the distance (which usually takes longer than expected) or occasionally chase an inconsiderate motorist, but structure is often lacking here too.

If we’re going to make intervals a part of our training, we need a bit more information, so here are some thoughts.

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The Most Important Workout of the Week?

So, you’re a triathlete, a cyclist, a runner, an adventure racer. You’ve got “big hairy audacious goals (BHAGS)” and you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve them.

Of course, as someone with a life, a family and a job, you probably have to make some decisions about which workouts you absolutely have to do every week and which ones would be OK to skip if life gets in the way.

So here’s my question for today...

Which is your most important workout of the week?

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Six Tips To Improve Your Group Riding

In an earlier post, I wrote about 4 free ways to go faster on your bike. One of these was to learn effective group riding skills. You'd think this would be easy, but from experience, I've learned that for many riders, it's not as simple as they'd expect it to be.

I do a lot of coaching with groups of young bike riders and it's always noticeable just how much better they are at riding in groups than their adult club counterparts. I suppose that much of the difference is down to the repetition of this skill in coaching sessions, which adults tend not to access. So I thought I'd share a few of my top coaching points for group riding.

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Boost Your Recovery With These Simple Tips

No matter where you read, you’re sure to find that you should make sure you get enough recovery time, "because it’s in your recovery time that you get better". Unfortunately “enough” is seldom defined and when it is, it’s defined either in terms of the author’s personal experience or what they’ve read in some or other literature.

In reality, “enough” recovery time varies from person to person and might well change either as you get older or if you change the emphasis of your sport (e.g. moving from being a middle-distance runner to being a marathoner). I know of one athlete who needs a three-week taper in order to perform at her best. Give her less time and her performances wane. Then again, I know another who needs just 24 hours and performs really badly if he has more than 2 days. Of course, these are outliers and knowing their recovery profiles is the result of a lot of trial and error on my part as their coach, not to mention a little bit of luck with the athlete who needs a long taper.

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Four Ways To Go Faster On Your Bike (None of Which Cost a Penny)

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of buying performance in any of the sports in which I compete or have competed or those in which my coaching clients compete. Instead, when it comes to training, I’m a blue collar kind of guy and I believe in having work ethic over using a credit card.

Don’t get me wrong, I like nice shiny equipment and I have my fair share. So do many of my coaching clients. But I will always believe that what separates the best from the rest is the ability to knuckle down and do the work.

For many people, that means doing huge mileage and loads of very painful interval work. However, despite my work ethic, I believe in training smart over simply training hard. I don’t think of “work” in simply a physical sense, but rather in terms of working on the basics; things that really matter and make a big difference.

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A Short Introduction to Self-Limiting Exercise

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become really interested in the concept of self-limiting exercise as a way to injury-proof athletes.

I first encountered this concept when reading Gray Cook’s excellent book, “Movement” as part of my FMS certification. Coming from a world where we do our best to outwit our weakest links using technology (think stable, cushioned running shoes, wetsuits with extra hip buoyancy, ovalised chainrings etc) and having started to seek ways to get back to the reason I started all this endurance business in the first place, I was intrigued.

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One Simple Word That GUARANTEES Improved Performance

I’ve just returned from a weekend at the Special Olympics Great Britain National Cycling Championships. My reason for attending was to support one of my clients, who has been working with me for the last seven months. The bottom line is that Daniel performed pretty much as I expected, way above the level expected by those who have known him as a racer in these events over the past few years.

Over the course of the weekend, numerous people approached me with comments along the lines of, “Wow, you’ve done a great job. Daniel is a different rider from the one who raced here a year ago.” However, it wasn’t simply the subjective point-of-view expressed by these people that was instructive and thus got me thinking. Rather, it was his performances: Daniel won 3 silver medals, missing out on winning the sprint in his third race by the width of a tyre!

Of course, as I wrote above, I knew that he could do this and that he was more than capable of winning his races. Really, it’s all in the “numbers"...

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To Supplement Or Not To Supplement?

I was on my way to Manchester the other day. Considering I live in North Devon, it’s a long drive and that’s a good thing because I get to do a lot of thinking. Not far past Birmingham, I was passed by a car branded up with Herbalife, which immediately got me thinking about supplements and real food.

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