Top 10 Tips To Complete A Century – 100 Miles On A Bike

With Spring on the horizon, and the hope of some good weather, many cyclists set their sights on a Century ride to assess levels of fitness prior to the summer months. Whatever your goals and aims, the Century Ride also gives you a bit of cycling confidence and kudos.

So here are my Top 10 Tips to successfully complete a 100 mile bike ride:

1. Prepare well, which should include being suitably rested, hydrated and topped up nutritionally.

2. Do any bike preparation beforehand, including making sure that your bike is working properly, fits you correctly and is comfortable for a day in the saddle. Also make sure you know how to fix a puncture (if you don’t know already).

3. Select a good route. Route planning on something like Garmin Connnect is easy and fun.
4. Take note of weather forecast. Use this to your advantage, and grab a tail wind for the last part when you will be more tired.

5. Ride with a buddy, if available.

6. Eat and drink regularly. I have an alert set every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. Every other one (so every half an hour) I also eat something. 50 grams of carbs per hour seems to work for me. See my article, Nutrition – What To Eat On A Century Bike Ride.

7. Start off easy, it is going to be a long(ish) day and don’t spoil it by going off too fast. If you start off too fast, you will pay for it later.

8. Wear proper cycling clothing and apply some Chamois creme, I use and swear by Assos Chamois Creme.

9. Bring some money, a map and a phone ICE (In Case of Emergency).

10. Relax and enjoy it.

If you are nervous about riding a Century, and live in the south of England, give me a shout and I will help you conquer it.

The Best TED Talk In The World, Ever!

nurtured-by-a-leopard-seal

Last night I watched my all time favourite TED Talk, or as Jeremy Clarkson would say “The Best TED Talk in the world, ever”.

If you have never watched a TED Talk before, do yourself a favour and use this one as an introduction, it really is wonderful. The best TED Talk ever.

Paul Nicklen is so passionate about the subject and some of the photos that he shares with you during his talk are awesome. And from now on, I totally look at leopard seals in a different light!

Go on do it, follow this link, you won’t regret it. And let me know what you thought.

NEAT – Interesting Science

Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is a bit of Interesting Science.  Here’s something that I did not know too much about until recently.  Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise.  It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, gardening and fidgeting.  Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT.  NEAT varies substantially between people by up to a staggering 2000 kcal per day.

There is lots of really interesting science on this subject, but the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) is get off your butt, backside, whatever you want to call it, and get moving, as it appears that sitting is killing us.  If you look at it, obesity was rare a century ago and it is not possible for the human genotype to have changed over that time.  Therefore, the obesity epidemic may reflect the emergence of a chair-enticing environment in which we now live.

In summary, get up and move around as often as you can and increase your daily NEAT.

Top Ten Exercise and Fitness Tips

It doesn’t matter what exercise you are doing, use my following Top 10 Tips to get stronger, faster, leaner and ultimately see improvements in your performance.
1.  Be consistent.  Set a training plan that you can handle and stick to it.  A friend once told me that you cannot make judgement on a training plan until you have completed it.  I recently used the Time Crunched Cyclist Training Plan to prepare for 4 x back to back century rides from London to Edinburgh.  I stuck with it, was consistent in my training, and as a result did pretty well (2nd overall).
2.  Take recovery days seriously.  The body needs time to recovery and get stronger.  Chrissie Wellington, a four time World Ironman Championships, knows a thing or two about training, says “If it’s your rest day, remember your sofa is making you faster, stronger and more resilient.”
3.  Increase your weekly totals gradually.  10% per month seems to be the most quoted number.  Even if you feel really good, still take it gradually.  You are walking a tight rope between improvement and overtraining.
4.  Eat well.  Good nutrition is one of my three pillars of health.  Rubbish in = Rubbish out.  Why waste time training if you are not going to put the right fuel in the tank?
5.  Do Intervals.  Train hard, race easy.  Intervals are a very efficient way of getting fitter.
6.  Strengthen your whole body.  A strong core will always serve you well, whatever sport you do.  Do Burpees as a whole body strengthening exercise.  Why not have a look at my earlier post, Burpees – The Best Exercise In The World And Why I Love Them.
7.  Wear the right equipment.  If you run, make sure you wear the right shoes.  The more you run, the more support your feet need.  The right equipment makes a real difference in whatever sport you take part in.
8.  Perfect your form.  Become more efficient at whatever sport you do, by doing it more.  It is a free marginal gain that you can get on your competition.
9.  Listen to your body, but don’t let the mind trick you.  You know the score, it is raining, you are tired, and that last hill rep just seems a step too far.  Your mind is telling you to go home and get a shower and a cup of coffee.  Ignore it, do that last rep, get stronger and in the process become Bad Ass because you are working out in the rain.  My post on “Pain is good for you” links in nicely to this.  One of my favourite quotes is from Emil Zatopek – the only man to win the Olympic 5,000m, 10,000m and Marathon in the same Games (send me an email if you know which Games that was).  He said in his biography: “When I am feeling bad, I know that the others must be feeling worse, so I know that that is the best time to attack”.  He, in my opinion, had the perfect mental approach to exercise.
10.  Embrace technology.  If you can afford it, buy the best and the latest technology.  My top two fitness gadgets are my Garmin 810 bike computer and my Garmin 620 running watch.  They are both awesome.  If you want to read about them go to dcrainmaker.com – he does excellent reviews of all types of fitness gear.  That said, although they provide me with plenty of data and motivation, don’t become too reliant on them.  It is good to exercise without technology sometimes and there is a lot to be said for basing everything on how you feel.

Use my top 10 tips to get fitter, stronger and improve even more.  Go get it!

 

What is the correct number of bikes to own?

You can never have too many
You can never have too many

So what is the correct number of bikes to own?  If you have read my About Me page, you will know that I believe that it is impossible to own too many bikes.  I also stated that there is one caveat to this rule, which I am going to talk about soon.

So by now you will have probably ascertained that I love bikes.  I own about 7.  I use the phrase “about 7” to keep it intentionally vague, just in case my partner should ever read this post!  And anyway, one bike for each day of the week is not too extreme in my view!

 

According to Rule 12 of the Velominati, and I agree, the correct number of bikes to own is n + 1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.  And like I said before, there is a caveat, or a possibility to rewrite the equation as follows: s – 1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breathing Exercise To Give You A Boost

How about this from a caffeine addict…….when you are feeling sluggish and in need of a caffeine boost, STOP, and do the following instead:

Whilst sitting comfortably, close off your left nostril with you left thumb.  Inhale and exhale through your right nostril for 3 to 5 minutes.  Sounds strange, huh? Research has shown that right nostril breathing can elevate blood pressure, which gives us a natural invigoration boost, similar to that of a shot of caffeine!

On the flip side, doing left nostril breathing lowers blood pressure and can produce a calming effect.

Go on, try it, you might even like it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain is good for you

Cristalp - a hard day in the saddle.
Should have rode harder – pain is good for you!

Is pain good for you?

I’ve just been reading about pain, and whether it is good for you as an endurance athlete.  We are talking about the relentless burn of sustained effort, that lactic acid surging through your muscles rather than the sudden shock of a break or torn ligament.

It turns out that many endurance athletes need the feedback of pain to enable proper pacing, and this was revealed during a study of cyclists.  The scientists used spinal injections (sounds grim) of a powerful painkiller to block lower body pain in a group of cyclists.  And the cyclists got slower!  Initially they felt great, starting out faster than normal (how not to have a good day in the saddle), but then faded.  It appears that without the feedback of pain, they couldn’t pace themselves properly.

So my conclusion is to embrace pain, treat it as a friend (within reason) and bang out that extra repetition, even if the head is telling you to stop.  I certainly got that impression when reading Chrissie Wellington’s book, A Life Without Limits, where pain, at times seems like a central reality of her existence.  What a legend and inspiration she is.  I think that she probably has a greater pain tolerance than the general population. In reality, the brain will tell you to stop way in advance of when your body really has to, and those that can convince the brain to continue longer, reap the benefit of better performance.  And most importantly, you can raise this pain threshold level by training.  Sounds like a good reason to get out there and go hard.

My rules for 2014 – fitandforty.org rules

I like to make up my own rules, so from this day onwards I am going to commit to the new fitandforty.org rules:

– Exercise 5 days a week
– Take rest and recovery seriously
– Eat as healthy as possible, most of the time
– Always spend less than I earn

Easy, how simple was that☺

Holiday running
Holiday running!

My Exercise Bucket List

What I was like to achieve physically
My exercise bucket list

So this is just a list of physical challenges and activities that I would like to achieve in the not too distant future.

  • Participate in another cycling training camp, preferably somewhere warm.
  • Set a Guinness World Record.  Completed – set the Guinness World Record for the most amount of burpees in 12 hours (7 June 2014).   
  • Represent my country in a sporting capacity.
  • Ride a Tour de France climb.  Completed – rode up Mont Ventoux twice in August 2014.  And in 2015, I rode every stage of the Tour de France – all 3427km over a 3 week period!
  • Run a long distance.
  • See Everest from base camp, Everest Marathon maybe?
  • Learn to stand on my hands.

What’s on your Exercise Bucket List?  Tweet me and let me know.

 

Burpees – The Best Exercise In The World And Why I Love Them

The trainer destroying exercise.
The sneaker trashing exercise – that’s just 3 week’s worth of burpees!

Burpees – the best exercise in the world.  Really?

OK, call me strange, but stick with me and I will explain why Burpees are the best exercise in the world.  But first up, what is a Burpee?

To perform the basic Burpee, just do the following:

  • Start in the standing position.
  • Drop down into a squat position with you hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Kick your feet back to form a push up position.
  • Immediately return your feet to the squat position.
  • Leap up as high as possible from the squat position.
  • Repeat……

I know that this sounds pretty much like a “squat thrust”, but the key difference, and that which makes it the ultimate conditioning exercise, is the leap at the end.

Perform them in quick succession and marvel at the Awesomeness of the Burpee.

5 Reasons Why Burpees Are Awesome And Are The Best Exercise In The World

  1. You can do them anywhere.  The Burpee is the ultimate, portable, do anywhere exercise.  Do them in the park, at home, in a hotel room, at the airport, on the beach…..  You name the place, the Burpee can be performed there.
  2. They are free.  Yes, they are totally free.  I did 600 Burpees in my local park recently and it cost me zip, nadda, nothing…
  3. Great for strength.  The Burpee uses the strength in your chest, arms, thighs, hamstrings and abs.  It is almost impossible to find another exercise that does all that at once.
  4. Fat burning.  Done properly, the Burpee can be used as a pretty intense workout.  I will share some of my Burpee Workouts in another post.  Studies have shown that High Intensity Training (HIT), like Burpees, burn up to 50% more fat than conventional strength training exercises.  You get the additional benefit that Burpees can speed up your metabolism, leading to burning more calories throughout the day.
  5. Most people fear Burpees.  Be different from everyone else and Love Burpees.  In return for your love, the Burpee will give you some great, real life fitness, that you can use every day.

So there you have it.  I love Burpees, always have and always will.  Ultimately, they will make you stronger.

 

Fitness in your forties