I picked up the phone and called the race director to sort out our issues like the adults I assumed we both were. What I was greeted with was “F*** off you f***ing amateur.” The call continued with a barrage of vulgar language with me unable to get any word in before being given one final “f*** off” and being hung up on.Read More
Ask most athletes when they think they are getting faster and they'll probably tell you it's during the interval session they ran on the track or the long run they did on Sunday. In actual fact, the training you do in these sessions breaks your body down so you can get faster while you sleep and recover. Recovery is one of the most important aspects of your training and racing but is often neglected. My masters' degree in exercise physiology focussed on recovery during endurance sports and led me to some interesting findings. Use these tips to ensure your body is fully recovered so you can perform at your best day in, day out.
1. Active recovery. By promoting blood flow in order to aid in the removal of toxins, active recovery is consistently shown to be the most effective recovery tool. Ensure you always warm down well and try to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time after a hard session to reap the rewards of active recovery.
2. Nutrition. After breaking your body down during a hard session, nutrition is required to start building it back up. The best time to take in nutrition is within 60 minutes post exercise when your body is depleted of glycogen and readily able to uptake the nutrition you take a board. Good post exercise nutrition should have a carbohydrate to protein ratio of around 3:1. Some good post exercise foods include low fat chocolate milk, a peanut butter sandwich or a yogurt parfait.
3. Stretch. After working hard your muscles shorten. Use stretching to reduce muscle tension, enhance flexibility and promote the repair of your muscles. Be wary of stretching immediately following an extremely hard session or race, however as your muscle fibres are often so damaged stretching immediately can do more harm than good.
4. Massage/Roll. Self massage and rolling is also an important tool for ensuring a decrease in muscle tension and an increase in flexibility. On top of this, massage and rolling promotes muscle fibre regeneration and aids in the removal of toxins. Ensure you keep well hydrated while massaging to help this process.
5. Ice bath. Ice baths have been shown to aid in the recovery process by decreasing swelling and slowing down metabolic activity as well as constricting blood vessels to help flush waste products out of your system. Ice baths should be taken between 12C and 15C for roughly 10minutes.
6. Compression. The popularity of compression gear continues to grow. While there has been some mixed findings on compression gear in the literature, graduated compression gear has been found to give the most benefit to athletes. Graduated compression refers to garments that are tighter towards your ankles and apply gradually less pressure as they move up the leg. These garments aid in recovery by helping the muscle pump system in returning blood to the heart to promote circulation. Wear calf sleeves or tights post exercise to get the most benefit out of your compression gear.
If you have questions on how to get the most out of post exercise recovery or have some of your own tips please share them! For now, it's off to do some stretching!
Last weekend was a huge milestone for me. It was the first time I competed in a race since September last year. As I lined up with the A grade riders in the final round of the Battle of the Bridge Criterium, my usually calm nerves were off the charts. Although I was confident in my fitness, competing in my first race in over 10 months on a new bike, with a new team on an unfamiliar course was a recipe for anxiety.
As the race began I shifted my attention to the preparation I had done and my anxiety began to vanish like so many of the riders behind me. As I reflect on my race it is clear that the great result I had can't be contributed to one thing, but rather a multitude of things that my coach and I had done to make sure I was ready to go. With the Bay Run coming up this weekend followed by the City 2 Surf I want to share my experience in lending my top tips to ensure you're race ready. Here they are!
- Know what you're getting yourself into - make sure you are aware of what you are signing up for. Not sure how long a marathon is? Make sure you know before you sign up!
- Respect your body - Your body is the tool that is going to allow you to get to the finish line, treat it that way! Stretching and self massage go a long way to ensuring you arrive to the start line healthy.
- Familiarise yourself with your equipment - Whether you're swimming, riding, running or doing a triathlon make sure you are familiar with your equipment. No new gear on race day!
- Know the course - Hold yourself accountable for knowing the course. Most course errors are caused by the old saying 'I'll follow someone else!'
- Have a race plan - Use your training to gauge what you want to do on race day!
- Visualise your race - Take your race plan and visualise how you will be successful.
- Practice your nutrition - Research the nutrition that is going to be on course and train with it. If you are going to be self sufficient make sure you have used it on some longer training days.
- Know your race day schedule and transport - Getting stuck in traffic on the way to your race can cause a lot of headaches, make sure you are prepared!
- Trust your training - By the time race week rolls around, the work has been done. Trust your training and put your feet up a little to make sure you are ready to rock!
- Satisfy any superstitions - If you race better with your lucky water bottle, don't forget to pack it for race day!
There you have it! If you have any tips of your own, be sure to post and let us know!
The last few months have been filled with some of the most frustrating days in my sporting life.Read More
For me, racing in Murakami, Japan perfectly symbolised what it is like trying to break through in ITU racing. It is not uncommon to scout the list of continental cup races only to pull out a map to check which races are viable options. This weekend there were two- Murakami, Japan and Papeete, Tahiti. Tahiti, one of the most beautiful places in the world or a small town in Northern Japan... why pick Murakami I hear you ask..? As our train rolled into town on a rainy Wednesday evening, I turned to Grace and asked her the same question.
With the goal of getting a start in World Cup races, a good result in a field of 79 against a few of the other top Australian guys is a far better outcome than racing Tahiti in a field of 10. When considering these things, the quality of the beaches takes a back seat.
The challenges of racing in a town where almost no one speaks English became evident on our first night in Murakami. Heading out to dinner without Internet and no way of translating the menu in front of us, we blindly picked our meals, making a game of guessing what was going to end up on our plate. Thankfully, unlike my last trip to Asia, I was able to avoid food poisoning in the lead up to the race and all 5 of the Aussies were ready to rock come race morning.
The Japanese fun continued as they announced us down to the start. With my ranking giving me number 5 on the pontoon, I was announced to the crowd before running down to the beach high-fiving all the age groupers, supporters and officials that lined the fences cheering. Such a small thing, but definitely a highlight of my race.
As I entered the jellyfish infested water, I reeled in my focus and got ready. Or so I thought. I don't think I ever could have prepared myself for the dog fight I was about to encounter in the 2 lap 1500m swim. Thankfully I am a far more confident open water swimmer than I once was and despite being pulled under, having my legs pulled multiple times, swallowing water, and exiting the first lap way back from where I wanted to be, I remained calm and fought back to group ahead of me and was able to position myself well enough into T1.
In typical James fashion, I missed the front pack of 7 and went to work chasing in my group of 8. Despite averaging 318W with a normalised power of 368W over 40km in a group that was working well, we some how managed to lose time to the group up the road. Entering T2 way back from that group meant we were running for the minor positions.
The opening couple of kilometres of the run were met with a certain level of caution. Our group blew apart immediately out of T2 and I was wary of how hard our bike was in the 30C heat. I was cautious but confident. By kilometre 3 I was running in 8/9th with a Japanese guy and had settled in nicely. We passed a straggler from the front group and took turns running on each other's shoulder until 8km. When I signalled for him to go through and he apologised I dropped the hammer and snapped the elastic. The next 1km was solid and I managed to put a big gap into him before I felt a pull on my calf. To say I was concerned was an understatement. I began to worry I wouldn't make the finish and went into severe damage control. I figured I had 1km to go and being in 7th at the time, I'd get there and assess the damage at the end.
In what was a severe shock to me, turning into the finish area I picked up another spot. Making a poor tactical decision I started the sprint as I made the pass and gave him too much time to get back and just pip me at the line.
Finishing 7th is not entirely the result I was searching for in Murakami but as always, I know I have high expectations of myself.
Full results HERE
With 3 top 7 finishes in my last 5 races, my results and ranking are headed in the right direction. This result should hopefully ensure a top 150 finish for the year. For someone who started the year with next to no points, I can be really proud of the year I have put together.
For now, it's time to shift my focus a little and dust off the TT bike for a birthday race at Nepean before building some kms for next year with a crack at my first pro 70.3 in Western Sydney at the end of November.
Lots of love from Japan.