Sprint Triathlon Nutrition for Boundary Breeze Tri 2014

Out towards the quaint little town of Knutsford is the Boundary water park which marked the venue of the Boundary Breeze Triathlon. Hosted by Manchester Triathlon Club, Sunday 13th July started off rather wet from the early morning rain.

My drive over was roughly 50 minutes and having prepared my bits and pieces the night before, I was all set for an early dart. This particular race fell at a nice time in the grand scheme of things, as I have been targeting the British National Standard Triathlon Championships in Liverpool this August. As this particular week was a heavy, high intensity training week, the boundary breeze has helped with my preparations for Liverpool. This meant, no carbohydrate loading, no tapering, and no easy saturday resting my legs.

The day started at 7am where I attacked a large bowl of Dorsets fruit muesli. With my wave starting at 11:10am, eating this high carb breakfast 4 hours before the race helps provide carbohydrates of two kinds; fast and slow releasing. This begins the task of filling my muscles with the required amount of glycogen for the race. I also took my regular supplements of vitamin B, C and D, folic acid, beta alanine, l-glutamine and omega 3 oil in a glass of beet-it beetroot juice (I will do the whats and whys of these supplements another time).

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A keen eye for organisation – The president of Triathlon England

I filled up my water bottle with 50g of SIS GO energy and 500ml of water and made sure I sipped it regularly on the drive over leading up to the race. Having arrived and parked up at the local village hall, I collected my race numbers (245) and timing chip, and then set my bike up before I went to equip my transition areas (there were two at this triathlon, T1 and T2). Before leaving the car park I ate half a High5 caramel energy bar at around 8:30am to kept the glycogen topped up. It did feel odd just leaving my running shoes in T2 because it gave me the sense that I had forgotten something. The walk over to T1 was about 1km and this was also next to the Boundary lake where the swim was to take place.Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 19.48.43

Nice and warm at 21 degrees.

I kept sipping my energy drink and placed my bike, helmet and sunglasses on the bike racks. At around 10:30 I downed a beet-it shot and took some more beta alanine and a caffeine tablet. Only 40 minutes to go and a few waves had set off already and it appeared as the though it was optional to wear a wetsuit as some people swam in just a trisuit. Having heard about the density of the reeds in the water I opted to go with the wetsuit and practice taking it off for the the British Champs. With 10 mins to go I necked an SIS gel (more glycogen and muscle fuel) and headed to the waters edge. I spotted plenty of Team GB age groupers and figured I could be in for a tough swim.

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Im top right of the picture

My plan was to go at 90% and just relax into it, which I did, but the reeds were exceptionally tough to fight through, and the water had kicked up the sludge from the previous waves of triathletes. Around the 3 bouys we go to complete 750m of swimming and the worst of the reeds were at the end before we ran out of the water. Instead of pulling the water, I had to grab the reeds to propel myself forward (some could call this cheating!!!).

I came out of the water in 13th place (just under 12 minutes) and my first transition went great. The wetsuit slipped off and I hit the bike in no time. I relaxed pretty quickly but soon spotted a few people to chase down and started to push myself. I held myself as best I could at about 40km/hr, but the wind and the odd rolling hills wavered my speed. I was happy that I was overtaking people and even threw out some encouragement as I passed a team mate from Tri Preston.Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 19.49.01

Wetsuit off and sprint out of T1 – I practiced folding my sunglasses in the wires of the bike in order to put them on once I was into a rhythm on the bike…it worked ok and probably shaved a second or two.

I got my feet out of my shoes in time to dismount my bike and ran over some pretty stoney road to rack the bike and get my trainers on. I finished the bike leg in little over 37 minutes The run was a simple 2 laps of an out and back dirt track on private land. Another little aim of mine to try and not get overtaken on the run, and today was the first time I managed to go without being overtaken :-). I had aimed to stay at 4min/km on the run but in fact went a touch faster overall to finish the run in 19:19.

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50 metres to go!!!

I managed 3rd in my age group, but the 2 lads above me were well oiled triathletes with plenty more laps, miles and experience in the bag than me. Nevertheless, I have 1 year until the European Sprint Triathlon Champs in Geneva where I can get in a solid winter of training before I go and put on my GB kit.

A huge thanks to Royles for the goodie bag, and also to Manchester Triathlon Club for the organisation. Thanks to Wallis cycles for cycling equipment and also a big thanks to the volunteer marshals and Triathlon England officials. Oh and don’t forget the wife for taking the pictures ūüôā



10 things about Greek yogurt

Many athletes train a¬†significant¬†amount of time during¬†the¬†week. But I have a hunch that the last 20 minutes of a work out, or even the entire duration of a workout, is spent thinking about what to eat once your done training. The thought process for me starts healthy. A lovely piece of turkey and salad that you left in the fridge is quickly turned into a¬†flavour¬†exploding¬†stir fry or curry. My brain tends to start this way also, but turkey and salad tends to be seen as protein and carbs. Then without knowing where the time has gone, I’m making fish and chips :-/

Ever since the moment my auntie gave me a chocolate button at 2 months old, I have had a sweet tooth. And I thank my auntie for that. Yet, when in training staying away from sugar at dessert time is a tough thing to do. Hello Greek Yogurt…

1. Greek yogurt was originally made in Greece, clearly…Made from milk, it goes through a process that reduces the excess fluid which gives Greek yogurt its stiff texture.

2. Due the processes used, Greek yogurt tends to be lower in lactose and carbohydrates, but manages to hold on to a good level of protein.

3. Greek yogurt is not only good to use as a dessert with berries and nuts, it is able to hold its texture in hot dishes without curdling and ruining your food.

4. In terms of vitamins Greek yogurt offers a good level of vitamin D. For those of us like to train, vitamin D has a positive effect on the structure and function of skeletal muscle, especially in older athletes as they are more susceptible to muscle degeneration. (Hamilton, 2011: Asian Journal of Sports Medicine)

5. The most common use of this think yogurt is in the making or tzatziki, which is a greek dip or sauce used in many Greek dishes. It is easy to make yourself.

6. Unfortunately the supermarkets will store a range of Greek yogurt varieties. Steer clear of the not as healthy Greek ‘style’ yogurts. These may not use the same processes or milk types that produce the high vitamin D and protein, and the low lactose carbohydrate, yogurt we love so much.

7. You can get yourself 10.3g of protein and only 4g of carbs in a 100g serving of Greek yogurt

8. Greek yogurt is highly recommended for those who are pregnant, simply because of the nutrition one can get from it.

9. Many curry’s or moroccan dishes require the use of natural yogurt, even a number of¬†Italian¬†dishes like to add a bit of ricotta or creamed cheese. STOP! There is nothing wrong with a bit of experimenting in the kitchen using Greek yogurt.

10. Dessert recipe…get yourself your desired dollop of Greek yogurt in a bowl (don’t¬†be too greedy), and add a teaspoon of Nutella. Miss this in well and then add some chopped nuts and sliced banana. Nutella is nutritionally sound and is packed with the good fats that we require. Plus with its powerful hazelnutty flavour, you don’t need too much of it in this dessert dish. Which means the jar of Nutella can last a bit longer. Everyones a winner!!!

There are a few different types of good greek yogurt brands out there. Supermarkets may well do their own version. For me however, I prefer the ‘Fage Total 0%’ Greek yogurt.

If you try one thing in the off-season, it should be Greek yogurt


Beetroot will help you Beet your opponents

Not something we buy often.

When walking through the supermarket, most people will go for the usual fruit and vegetables; bananas and potatoes etc. This may be because of the ease of consumption and cooking recipes available. Plus the kids like chips and anything that is sweet. People may have heard about these ‘superfoods’ but not really read too much about them. In most cases superfoods such as blueberries and salmon are usually expensive. However, there is one vegetable that deserves its place as a superfood and is not expensive to buy. I’m talking about beetroots.

Despite the fact that, from fresh, they look like round¬†podgy purple carrots, you can treat them just like you would a potato. Yes, I know that once you have started to peel a beetroot it looks like you have blood all over your hands. Yet, with a little bit of peeling, chopping and imagination you can make some really nice meals with beetroot. I would personally go for the fresh stuff and not the pre-peeled packet¬†that you can often find in the supermarket. Most supermarkets will pump any vegetables that are in a packet with extra additives or preservatives to give it a better colour, taste and to make it last longer on the shelf. These¬†unnecessary additives etc do not work that well inside your stomach. An old nutritionist of mine once said to me ‘stay fresh and eat fresh’. The fresher the products, the more vitamins and minerals you will get from that particular food source. Even professional football clubs realise the importance of fresh nutrition. For example, Chelsea Football Club invested in local farms in order to grow their own fruit and veg, in order to put it on the players plates within 24 hours.

But why buy it?

Beetroot holds something called nitrate. This nitrate helps your body in a number of ways. In¬†the¬†nutrition journal, Coles and Clifton (2012) found that taking in beetroot juice lowers blood pressure as part of a normal diet. In another journal, the consumption of whole beetroot vegetable was investigated against running performance (Murphy et al, 2012). They found that eating a nitrate rich vegetable like beetroot can improve running performance. If you are like me, then you will want to know why this happens. When you eat your beetroot, the nitrate within it is converted into nitric oxide. This new form of nitrate is what the body uses to open your veins up in order to help your blood flow through your body. If the veins and capillaries are wider, the blood has more space to travel through, and so lowers the blood pressure, and hence, helps a person perform harder for longer. If you are unsure whether to buy the juice or the veg, either because you are on a low carbohydrate diet or you are counting your calories, a cup of whole beetroot is under 40 calories and under 10g of carbs, whereas a serving size of 250ml of beetroot juice is 98 calories and closer to 22g carbs (due to natural sugars etc). I must admit though, drinking beetroot juice takes some time to adjust to. So, they include a bit of apple juice to make it¬†palatable. Plus, having a bottle off beetroot juice in¬†the¬†fridge gives you fast access to those all important nitrates, but don’t be alarmed when your urine turns pink, its normal. So my advice is to buy both. Beetroot juice is in pretty much all of the supermarkets for ¬£2.99.

What can I do with a whole beetroot?

So yesterday I tweeted that I would provide a cheeky beetroot recipe. This recipe makes about 6/7 little burger shaped patties, and you can mix it up and add extra bits and pieces to get it to taste however you like.

You need:

  • 3 beetroots (peeled and grated)
  • 1/4 onion (peeled and grade)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 table spoons of flour or pure fine oats

The process:

  1. After grating everything, we want to get all the extra juice out of it, so place the beetroot in the the middle of a clean cotton kitchen towel and bring the corners together and start twisting. You can drain the fluid into a cup and use this later to drink yourself.
  2. Once most of the fluid is drained, place into a large bowl and add the grated onion and the beaten egg. Give this a good mix and add seasoning and anything extra you wish. I had a little bit of chorizo or bacon to go with this.
  3. At the 2 tablespoons of flour and mix through the grated beetroot.
  4. Next, go and wet your hands (so¬†the¬†mixture¬†doesn’t¬†stick to your hands) and then shape a small amount of the beetroot mixture into a ball and then flatten it like a burger.
  5. After you have completed this with all of the mixture, put a pan on medium to high heat and at some olive oil or rapeseed oil. Then you place the beetroots patties into the pan and cook on each side for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Once cooked, put a nice poached egg on top and you have a stunning meal for lunch.
Enjoy with a poached egg on top

Enjoy with a poached egg on top

Electrolyte Replacement

Some people use them, others assume its something an electrician uses to fix a fuse box in dark a place. So before you go asking your electrician how many batteries his electrolyte needs, here is a quick lesson on what they actually are.

The majority of endurance athletes will take part in sporting events that will last anything from 30 minutes to 6 hours and above. Many of the Ironman races are around the 10 hour mark depending on fitness and terrain. But exercising for that length of time is not something that can be done without providing the body with the right fuel. To be able to go harder for longer an athlete requires to take in something known as electrolytes. Electrolytes mainly consist of words that you will probably forgotten since you were in chemistry class at high school. Nevertheless they are vital aspects to an athletes performance.

The five most important electrolytes are sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. And if anyone can remember the chemistry lesson where you set fire to magnesium, you will recall that it went bright white with indescribable heat. And, guess what, this stuff is needed in your body. Possibly one of the most important electrolytes is sodium, as explained by Rehrer (2001) as it helps to maintain plasma volume and hydration in the body. The majority of these electrolytes escape the body through our sweat, and sodium as we know is what gives sweat that salty taste. If an athlete was unable to take in sodium as part of their nutrition fluid intake strategy, it will lead problematic consequences. Sodium has an important role to play in terms of the brain. Low-sodium in the bloodstream can lead to an athlete experiencing confusion and lethargy during an event. Something of which is definitely not needed in the closing kilometers of a triathlon.


In an endurance event it is suggested by Shirreffs et al (2007) that 176 to 552 mg of sodium should be consumed per fluid liter. This can then be increased to 920 mg for ultraendurance events such as the Ironman (Rehrer, 2001). In a field study Noakes (1993) discovered that athletes consumed 0.5 liters/hour. However, these athletes held a sweat rate of 1.0-1.5 liters/per hour, which therefore highlights the importance that sodium can in help the fight fatigue when included in a sports drink. The America College of Sports Medicine recommended that an athlete should consume 0.5 to 0.7 grams of sodium per litre of fluid per hour (cited in Campbell & Spano, 2011), although some studies have suggested taking anything up to 2.9 g (Maughan, 1991). It is important to note however, that in an event that has a duration of under an hour, the importance of fluid and electrolyte replacement is possibly not as great.

So, if at this moment in time you are waiting on the delivery of an energy powder or electrolyte powder then I can offer a substitute for the time being. It is as simple as filling up your water bottle with water and a fruit cordial of your choice and adding a pinch or two of salt. And this becomes increasingly more important with the weather been so warm at this time of year.

Hmmmmm Smoothies

I can remember the day went smoothies were all the rage and everybody wanted one on tap. New smoothie stores started opening, local shops sold them in little cartons. I am confident to say that everybody has probably tried one.

Why should I make one?
To be fair, the best time to make a smoothie¬†is only when you have time to make a smoothie. Most people in the morning are rushing and running around, desperate to get into the car and head off to work. If people want to have a better start to the day then they need to make time in the morning to have a proper breakfast. The majority of good nutrition books will explain that eating breakfast in the morning helps to regulate blood sugar levels and energy. Moreover, an individual having breakfast will begin their metabolism earlier in the day and therefore you can burn more fat and calories. If you are the person that skipped breakfast and doesn’t eat until lunch, it is fair to say that your metabolism is not as effective and therefore you increase the risk of storing the carbs and fats that you eat at lunchtime.

Whats in a smoothie?
The morning is one of the best times to get in your daily needs of vitamins and minerals. Most cereals do include a lot of these however these are normally processed into each grain/flake. Take Iron for example, a packet of cornflakes does show a good level of iron to be present. In reality this Iron is a powdered version of actual Iron as used in industrial equipment for example. The Iron in these mass produced cereals is not natural. In fact you could technically pick it up with a magnet,¬†a very powerful magnet. A smoothie¬†is a very good source of carbohydrate and protein. Protein is now becoming more common requirement to take in in the morning. You’ll be in taking a good source of healthy carbohydrates such as fructose. This comes from fruit and is later converted into glycogen to help the body create energy.

Always keep the fruit bowl full

Always keep the fruit bowl full

Ok, give me a recipe
For all those of us that follow TeamSky pro cycling, I follow the team sky chef on twitter (@teamskychef). In all of the Team sky replica jerseys Soren Kristiansen has managed to get one of his smoothie recipes stitched on the inside of the jerseys. Therefore, if it’s good enough for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome then it’s good enough for me. The world is a recipe that I use as and when I have time to make a smoothie:

1 banana
1 apple peeled and cored
a handful of frozen forrest fruits
150ml of semi skimmed milk
150ml of low fat yogurt (greek or natural)
juice from 1/2 lemon
dash of honey

There is no messing about with this, you just place all of this into the blender and give it a good blast for about two minutes. A good tip is also at an ice cube or 2 to get it really cold. You can if required, include a scoop of your favourite protein or other sports supplements you may take. This way you can even have breakfast on the go and you won’t be late for that all important meeting in the morning. So my advice, get up five minutes earlier and make yourself a smoothie and enjoy the rest of your day full of energy.

Recommended reading

NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition (Campbell and Spano)