Category Archives: Recovery

Triathlon BRICK training, and more learning to ride a road bike

On the weekend I decided to get some more miles under me on the bike, deciding just before setting off it should be a ‘BRICK’ training session. The term is used for training two consecutive disciplines into one session for Triathlon training, namely ‘B’ike, ‘R’un, ‘ICK’ (feeling sick!). It is quite tough, but I also find it quite an interesting experience! I am yet to try proper Bricks, where you do several sets of each in turn, I think I’ll build up to that… 😉

The legs feel very heavy when starting the run, however even though I feel like I’m going slower than what I call my ‘race pace’ for running, all three times I have tried this I have been surprised to find afterwards that I am faster than my race pace! It’s an odd phenomenon!

This time I decided to run a quarter of the distance I cycle, which is roughly the distances that most triathlon split into. As I have a nice regular running loop from home of 3 miles, I chose to cycle away (along the cycle path to the Bristol-Bath cycle path) for 6 miles, turn back and then attempt a quick transition in the garage and get straight out onto the run.

As I am very much still a beginner on the road bike, I am still sticking mostly to the cycle pathways, of which I am lucky to live very near some long ones. However this does come with several obstacles such as large road crossings which I sometimes have to stop for and various pedestrians, dog walkers, children, cyclists, runners, etc etc to dodge! So overall I find it a useful exercise in becoming more accustomed to the bike, its controls, my control of it and my speed of thought/coordination at ‘speed’. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on 17 July, 2013 in Cycling, Recovery, Running, Triathlon


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Energy versus temperature and running performance

Something we have been reading about this year, and are now keenly observing in our own performance is the relationship between the body’s temperature and its performance in running.

As we all know, the human body is a marvelous piece of [nature’s] engineering, and it is very good at maintaining a fairly constant temperature through a range of environmental conditions. The body has to gain or lose heat in order to do this (controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain). Our core temperature remains quite constant through this regulation, but the skin and underlying tissues are subject more to environmental changes.

As we exercise, we produce heat and a surprising fact we found is that a huge amount of the energy we use during exercise is actually in regulating (or losing) that heat! The body simply can’t keep up with the rate of heat creation in its effort to stabilise the temperature, be that heat created from our increased metabolism, muscle movements or external factors such as hot weather.

It is quite a complex subject so I won’t attempt to explain it in full here… Anyone interested in learning more would do well to read this article on though as it goes into great detail about this subject!

Through our own experimentation we have found the following tips to be very helpful and have shown us a markedly noticeable difference in energy levels when training and competing. Some of this is pretty obvious stuff of course, but we are surprised at the number of runners we see out there in the hot weather still slogging away wearing their long sleeves and tights!

  • Plan your runs at the cooler times of day (early morning or in the evening)
  • Wear as little as is decent!
  • Hydrate hydrate hydrate
  • Replace lost salts after your run (and hydrate some more!)
  • Acclimatize the body to the temperature if you must run in the heat, start slowly and build up to pace
  • For really long runs take some good quality energy gels/sweets which will help replace salts and carbs on the go. (Needless to say you should have water with you as well!)
  • Weigh yourself before and after your runs to understand how much water you lose. Then replace it before your next workout!

Some times it is hard to get the balance of clothing correct. I always tend to over-dress as it feels windy or chilly, but then halfway through my run I wish I was in just a vest and shorts! It takes a bit of getting used to your own body, especially as you improve and get fitter, but its worth keeping in mind that your body will perform better (and recover quicker) if it can more easily regulate heat loss…

Enjoy the summer! 🙂


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Posted by on 4 July, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Recovery, Running


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April Mileage

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blogging this past month from Team Pi, it’s been a weird month!! We’ll get back on it in May…

It’s been an odd month with a few niggling injuries each and Paul had a weird heart scare at the start of the month after a viral chest infection! In fact the start of the year hasn’t gone to plan at all… but we’re positive and pushing on to get things back on track, with lots of plans this year.

Irina jumped on the bike this month (cycling to the pool for her weekly Aqua Running session) and enjoyed it, so is planning some more cycling this summer. (She had the nice surprise of newbie saddle-bum! 😉 )

Paul’s April Running: 19.9 Miles
Paul’s April Cycling: 12 Miles
Paul’s April Swimming: 0.8 Miles

Irina’s April Running: 45.5 Miles
Irina’s April Cycling: 7.7 Miles
Irina’s April Aqua-Running / Pool workouts: 1.5 Hours Approx.

Bristol 10k to look forward to this Sunday, and we’re both raring to go. Sadly I don’t think Paul will be hitting the time he wanted due to the preparation being hit, but should still be comfortably under the hour mark. Our blog on the event will follow Monday or Tuesday. 🙂



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March Mileage

Irina’s recovery has gone well and she is well and truly back on the road! Paul’s Bath Half Marathon hangover severely limited the mileage this month, plus the bike fall half a mile into my first bike ride of the month!

April sees us take part in the Frenchay 10k, so we need to get up to speed for that, and then kick on from there for the Bristol 10k in May…

Paul’s March Running: 21.7 Miles
Paul’s March Cycling: 0.5 Miles
Paul’s March Swimming: 0 Miles

Irina’s March Running: 19.5 Miles
Irina’s January-through-March Aqua-Running / Pool workouts: 22 Hours Approx.

Looking forward to our local event next weekend, we can literally walk from home to the start line! 🙂



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Improving Running Cadence & Mechanics

Since I’ve been more interested in Triathlons in recent months, and plan on taking part in some more this year, I have been looking at ways of making my runs more efficient for that crucial final stage (along with improving my swimming & cycling technique of course!).

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across recently was written by Andy Bullock in a small Q&A section of the 220 Triathlon magazine. In it he was talking about the foot striking close to, or beneath your ‘centre of mass’ (COM) and also about measuring and developing your ‘cadence’.

Cadence seems to be the buzzword in running at the moment, and there is a LOT of talk about it. Most opinions seem to suggest that the ideal cadence is 180 (foot strikes per minute), however I also found some research which suggests that this number should be a minimum cadence to aim for.

Why care about this? Well, the number of times your foot hits the floor, and conversely, the amount of time you spend in the air between strides, all has an impact (literally) on your body. The slower your cadence, the more you are in the air and the harder you land on the foot. This slower turn over means there is a higher impact, which in turn could cause more injury and is a far less efficient way of running.

How to measure cadence? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 18 March, 2013 in Injury, Recovery, Running, Triathlon


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Aqua running

Through my injury and time-off running I had to re-think my plan, focus, training, and nutrition. And in that time I discovered a new passion which I haven’t even considered.

I am not a big fan of swimming so I wasn’t particularly excited (and perhaps a little bit sceptical) when my physio told me to do aqua running. I learned to swim very late in my life and was (still am) scared of water. But maybe I just respect it too much? …

Aqua running – what is this new fancy exercise? Apparently some of the elite athletes train in the pool only for their big races such as marathon or ultras. I wasn’t quite sold on that but thought I’d give it a go. Aqua running (Water running) as the name suggest is running/jogging in the water. You pretty much run as you would run on the road/treadmill the only difference is that you have more resistance (water) and you have to push harder but without putting much pressure on your joints, bones. This is particularly excellent for rehabilitation after injury but I also found some other benefits (see below).

First phase I started running in the pool at about 1.20m which means I was still running but with less weight which meant not too much pressure on my injury. It was going quite well but still I felt I was putting too much strain on my hip. I did swimming the first 2 weeks (2-3 times a week for about 1 hour) which help with my cardio. But I wanted to run!

Second phase: after few weeks I still very much enjoyed being in the pool so I decided to buy a aqua running belt – investment! I bought one of the simplest and most inexpensive aqua running belts (, £20). It does the job for me. It is comfortable to wear and good quality. I am sure it will last me for years. With the belt I am now able to do all the exercises and running in deep water which means I don’t touch the bottom of the pool at all = less pressure, strain, and weight on the hip area. But this also allows me to push more intensive and faster. It does look a little bit silly as all I do is floating with only my head sticking out of water (you do get occasional odd looks but who cares…)

The benefits of aqua running I discovered:

1. You develop an incredible strong core. Oh yes, there is no doubt about it, my core is stronger than ever. So strong that I am unable to eat big portions as I will feel very uncomfortable. See blog.

2. You boost your cardio. As you have to push harder to run (water resistance) you do get very out of breath.

3. Good for developing breathing. As you are in the water which somehow restricts the normal breathing, when you are wearing the belt (which you have to wear it tight abound your waist) it restricts normal breathing even more. This results in body getting very efficient in using every little oxygen it gets. I found that during runs (on the road) my breathing is much more shallow and relaxed and my body doesn’t scream for more oxygen when I run up the hill.

4. Incredible strength in the thighs/buttocks. (Nice one ladies!)

5. Body toning

6. Develop good posture which benefits during running

7. Improve biomechanics for running.You can run in slow motion and pay attention to your arms, posture, how you move your legs. This helps you to develop better biomechanics for running. Once you are on the road you will feel the difference and the benefits.

8. Strengthen calf muscles – I have to wear calf compression after every session for recovery.

9. You burn more calories (well I find it). I have small breakfast (50grams natural probiotoc yogurt with one medium banana and few berries plus fruit tea) 1.5 hours before exercise which gives me enough energy for a 1 hour session in the pool. But I do feel very shaky and hungry afterwards and in desperate need for 2nd breakfast (which usually contains eggs and grapefruit). I do refuel as soon as possible for quick recovery. That way I am able to do long(ish) run in the afternoon.

10. This is something I found absolutely helps me too, flexibility in my hips before log runs. As I am also doing dynamic moves in the pool, this helps my hips to become flexible. I do aqua running/swim early morning and long run in the early afternoon and I find the run much more relaxed, freer and almost easy. (but maybe is just me who cannot wait to be on the road fully again)

11. It is pure fun! Trust me on this one. You going to love it. Especially when you start seeing/feeling the results. It might take you few weeks to get the right technique, timing etc., but you get there. Stay strong and focused!

In addition to aqua running I included few exercises which I do while in the water like:

– Sprints which “thrust” my heart rate up and muscles scream for oxygen (but just keep pushing).
– Scissors exercise.
– Dynamic moves for improving hip mobility and flexibility: donkey kicks, donkey whips, fire hydrant etc.
– Lunges. (Without a belt, starting at about 1m and walk to shallow end) do as you would do lunges in the dry.

You can see something that doesn’t sound very hard is actually an amazing workout for all-round-body with so many benefits. And you do all this in one hour! Result! All you need to do now is to find a local swimming pool. Check out if they offer a free-swimming area. Our local leisure centre offers lane swim 1/2 pool and the other half is for “swim for all”.


Aqua Belt

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Posted by on 15 March, 2013 in Health & Wellbeing, Recovery, Swimming


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