Tag Archives: training

That’s the way things have always been done around here!

Monkey and Banana

A colleague shared this with me.  I bet that you can relate to it in some way, either at work, home or even when training.

A group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage, and in the middle they placed a ladder with bananas on top.

Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the remainder with ice cold water.

After a while, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the others beat that monkey up for going up the ladder.

After time, no monkey dare go up the ladder, regardless of the temptation of more bananas.

Scientists decided to substitute one of the monkeys and the first thing the new monkey did was go up the ladder. Immediately, the remaining monkeys beat him up.

After several more beatings, the new monkey learned not to climb the ladder, even though he never knew why.

A second monkey was substituted in and the same thing occurred. The first new monkey even participated in the beating of the second new monkey. A third new monkey was changed and the same process was repeated. The fourth was substituted in and the beating was repeated. Finally, the fifth and last remaining member of the original group of monkeys was replaced.

What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that even though they never received an ice cold shower, they continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they would beat up all those who attempted to go up the ladder, their answer would probably be…..

I don’t know, that’s the way things have always been done round here….



Strava – Don’t you just love it?

Strava advert

Strava, you have to hand it to them. They recently sent me an email that went as follows:
Studies have shown that Strava athletes with lots of followers live longer, happier and far more glamorous lives. Can you imagine being a spry 140 year old, taking KOMs (King of Mountains) by accident and finishing every day in a hot tub filled with champagne and gold coins?

We know everyone is different, so here’s a menu of pre-written emails to get the ball rolling. Fair warming: some are almost as absurd as this email. Thanks for spreading the word.

Then I was able to click on any of the five options and send them out to friends.

Title – I’m so much faster than you! Prove me wrong on Strava.
Text – Hey, When you’re ready to ride with the big dogs, you should sign up for Strava. It’s a great way to spice up training and get fit. If you join and train hard, maybe in 10 – 15 years you can keep up with me. Give it a shot…. it’s free.

Title – I need you on Strava! It’s just not right without you.
Text – Hey partner, You should really try Strava. It’s made my riding a lot more fun, and I’ve met great people (just like you) and discovered lots of new routes. Plus it’s free… c’mon, just download it! You’ll fit right in.

Option 3. NASTY.
Title – I’m sick of you not being on Strava. Get with it!
Text – Hey, You ride a lot. You talk about riding a lot. “Epic adventure here, hard training day there, blah blah blah…” but none of it is on Strava. Get with the times and sign up already. I’d rather check out your activity in the Strava feed than hear another “you should have been there!” story.

Option 4. NICE.
Title – Please join me on Strava. It’ll be fun!
Text – Hey Friend, I really think you’ll enjoy Strava. It’s the best way to track your rides and connect with other athletes… sort of a tracking app and social network all in one. Give it a try (it’s free) and we can follow each other!

Title – If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen. Time to legitimize your overconfidence.
Text – Hey, There are two kinds of rides: those recorded on Strava, and those where you thought you were faster than me. Join Strava and show me what you got. It’s fun and free.

Strava logostrava screen shot

So there you have.  And they create really cool little animations of your year.  Here is mine:  My 2015 Strava Adventure

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

Oh, and if you would like me to live a longer, happier and far more glamourous live, please remember to follow me on Strava by clicking on the button below!

Follow me on

My Rules for 2016

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

Mountain summit


Take rest and recovery seriously

The 3rd Pillar of Health


Eat as healthy as possible, most of the time

Nutrition - the first pillar of health


Always spend less than I earn

Spend less than I earn.

Easy, how simple was that!

Have a great 2016.

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you.


My 2015 Strava Adventure


Strava have created really cool little animations of your year.  Here is mine:  My 2015 Strava Adventure

Thank you Strava.  See you out there in 2016.

Bike friends

In Paris!
In Paris!
Burning some matches on Alpe d'Huez in July 2015.
Burning some matches on Alpe d’Huez in July 2015.

Oxfordshire countryside in December

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) – part of my daily ritual

So for the last few years I have been using a pretty neat App, called Ithlete. Each morning I strap on my Heart Rate strap, connect it to my phone via Bluetooth and do about a minute of breathing in an out in time with the directions from the app. At the end of the monitoring, it gives me a Heart Rate Variability reading and more importantly a colour. I will be totally honest with you here, I run my training schedule based on these colours:

Green = Go to go. Can do hard session, intervals, smashfest etc.
Amber = Lower intensity, aerobic exercise, maybe a recovery ride, or some endurance miles, but nothing too taxing.
Red = Recovery day, very light intensity or rest, so maybe a gentle session on the rollers, or some stretching.

What I love about it is the simplicity. I am lucky that I can be fairly flexible in my approach to training. But if you accept that each week you are probably going to want to do a hard session or two, and a couple of easy rides, then I just do the hard stuff when I have a Green morning reading and save the easier stuff for Amber days.

Heart Rate Variability is a great way of determining your level of fatigue. It basically measures how much time there is between each of your heat beats. If you are fatigued, you will have a low HRV and the length of time between heartbeats is consistent (and will give a Red reading). When you are less fatigued, you will have a variation in time between heartbeats because the body is able to rapidly adjust to requirements for oxygen (high number and a Green reading). So by monitoring my HRV each morning, I am able to train accordingly.

My 12 Peak Challenge

As you probably know already, I am currently training to ride the whole of the Tour de France route this summer. If you haven’t seen the details, then this link will take you to the full details.

Well, my training is going well and I am feeling strong and confident.  But I always like to challenge myself, so this week, one of my sessions is going to be the 12 Peak Challenge, which involves climbing the Ridgeway twelve times.  The ride is going to be about 100km, and will involve about 2000m of vertical ascent, so not bad for an afternoon of riding around Oxfordshire.  It’s not exactly the Alps, but it will do.

Wish me luck.

My Training Weekend in Sheffield

Just a record of my two days of Tour de Force training in Sheffield at the end of March 2015 and a couple of photos. Day 1 was a windy day, Day 2 was a wet day – it’s good up North!

Hello team car
Hello Team Car

Team Castelli

Grey day in Sheffield

Day 1 – 2400 metres of climbing in the Peak District.

Day 2 – Only 1200 metres of climbing in the Peak District, but a shorter route.

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.

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.