From Prop to Wannabe Ironman Update

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Since last time I wrote this things have been going really well with training – completed a 1/2 marathon which was supposed to be a training run but I got carried away with the event and pushed a bit to hard, but still great experience! Yesterday I entered the Mumbles Duathlon, which I really enjoyed; I didn’t go all out and took my time and just enjoyed it and used it as experience with transition etc! I felt really strong on the bike averaging around 15.5 miles per hour so I was quite happy with that.

We’ve been upping the running lately for the marathon next month, which I am doing the 20 miler in Llanelli next weekend so will be good experience as the furthest I’ve ran so far is 14.5 miles.

I’ve been really enjoying my training lately, the one thing again which I am struggling is I am always hungry and I feel I can’t stop eating or thinking about eating! I am eating good natural foods, vegetables, lots of fruit etc. but I am letting it down by eating cake and snacking on rubbish. My aim for April is really get to grips with this!

More to come soon!

Martin’

Is It Wheelie Worth It?

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A wheel upgrade is a great addition to a bike. Gain speed, reduce weight and don’t forget aesthetics.   You can regularly get up to 30-40% off online and if you keep your eyes peeled you can find the odd 50-55% deal.

We do understand price is important to our customers and we will price match where we see it to be fair, but below is a few things to keep in mind when buying wheels online.

  • Demo wheels.

Being a Mavic Premier Dealer we regularly let customers try out different wheels so they can learn how a climbing wheel feels different from an aero wheel, and decide what they really want. Just going by reviews and online forums is a risky business.

  • Fake and counterfit wheels.

At an Ironman event last year, we came across a fake pair of Zipp 808 wheels. The athlete had purchased them from an online company in Asia and was not aware they were fake. We decided to order a pair to test what the difference was. During the order process we were even asked what logo stickers we would like on the wheel! There are a lot of fake wheels currently circulating auction sites in the UK and we do have a set in store for people to come and see the difference.

  • Warranty and returns

A horror story we witnessed last year was from a customer who had bought his wheels from a European web shop. Unfortunately the customer needed a Shimano hub and it arrived with a Campagnolo one fitted. After noticing this, the customer tried to call the web shop. No answer and no contact back what so ever. He then spent the money he saved on a new hub and fitting labour. Buying wheels online from a big cycle superstore doesn’t necessarily mean they have the manufactures warranty. Every wheel we sell has a warranty scheme and we make sure your bike leaves with the wheels fitted and working correctly as part of every sale. Both Enve and Mavic have excellent crash replacement schemes too.

  • Convenience

Having the wheels delivered to your front door free of charge from a single click of the button is certainly simple. Then realising you need to fit tyres, tubes new brake blocks and a cassette is not. The simpler way could be to buy from your local bike shop and while your brand new wheels are getting fitted, sit back and enjoy a coffee and welsh cake while chatting to your favourite staff member.

 

 

Check out the great selection of wheels on offer at Pembrokeshire Bikes. You can even order online and have them fitted in store!

wheels

Foundations: Part 2

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Foundations Part 2

Foundations are a key to building, not just in the construction world, but also in business, relationships, stories and in this blog posts case, the fitness world. As any ‘good’ builder will tell you, trying to build without foundations is a risky business, and as a self-proclaimed ‘good’ coach, I am going to tell you the same is said for building fitness.

So let’s get to the point, what are foundations of the fitness world? Well for the next couple of weeks I’m going to write about a few key ones and help to make the foundation of it a little bit deeper…

Number 2

Confidence is key.

One foundation that I believe is built in to most athletes is an inner stubbornness that has been channelled into determination. For endurance athletes, taking that determination and sprinkling it over your training phases is what gets you up on those dark cold mornings or late evenings to log those training miles and time.

 

Going into an event two types of nervousness can occur

 

Going into an event two types of nervousness can occur, the nervousness because of that little voice in your head asking yourself ‘have you trained enough for this?’ or the excited voice that feels the same as nervousness  but is saying ‘let’s see what we can do today..’ Both can occur, usually the nervousness of not training enough comes a few days before the race when you finally realise there is no more time to train.. And the latter usually on the morning or before the start gun goes..

Confidence is key here because if you have trained enough, you can read back through your training logs and gain confidence in knowing you have done everything you could have and you have put the work in. If you haven’t, well you can still take confidence in your inner stubbornness and the training you have done, you are now confident that today, your event day, you are going to give it everything and do the best you can. If you are getting the excited voice saying ‘let’s see what we can do today’ you are showing a scary confidence that means you are willing to push to your limits. Learning this confidence comes down to experience, usually from events you have gone into not fully fit or trained.. You learn what you can do even if the training plan hasn’t gone exactly as it should have. This doesn’t have to have come from race experience, it could be job interviews or other meetings you’ve not been prepared for but got through..

 

Confidence is key here because if you have trained enough, you can read back through your training logs and gain confidence in knowing you have done everything you could have

 

In both cases confidence has a massive role to play. Confidently smile on the inside and it will show through on the outside. If you go in with a negative nervousness it will show and doubtful critical comments will enter your head.

Remember there is no worse critic than yourself.

Foundations

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Foundations are a key to building, not just in the construction world, but also in business, relationships, stories and in this blog posts case, the fitness world. As any ‘good’ builder will tell you, trying to build without foundations is a risky business, and as a self-proclaimed ‘good’ coach, I am going to tell you the same is said for building fitness.

So let’s get to the point, what are foundations of the fitness world? Well for the next couple of weeks I’m going to write about a few key ones and help to make the foundation of it a little bit deeper…

Number 1

Biomechanics of the body.

Run, bike, swim, choose your poison. Each one has a huge biomechanical demand on the body and each one will easily get you injured if you’re not biomechanically sound.

Biomechanics is defined as the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms.

A huge part of biomechanics is your everyday posture..

Posture is defined as the attitude or position of the body and, according to the book Functional Movement Development, should fulfil three functions:

It must maintain the alignment of the body’s segments in any position: prone (swimming), quadruped (cycling), standing (running), supine (sleeping) and sitting (working/driving).

It must anticipate change to allow engagement in voluntary, goal-directed movements such as reaching and stepping.

It must react to unexpected perturbations or disturbances in balance.

In short ,  your POSTURE is very, very important! The most common postural deviations are:

Flat back (Lumbar region of the spine is under curved).

Hollow back (Lumbar region of the spine is over curved).

Sway back (the pelvis is positioned forward of the trunk).

Each one is different and not always so easy to see but they have a few things in common. In all of these deviations the head sits forward to the centre line of the body, the cervical part of the spine becomes extended and there is an increase in the thoracic spine curvature. They also all cause back pain! Add in the stress of fatigue when training in these positions day in and day out and the problem increases tenfold.

Why are we developing poor posture?

Physical trauma is one of the most common causes. Any injury that affects the body’s movement patterns forces a compromise to the body’s posture in some way. An acquired musculoskeletal deformity, whether it be from birth or a progressive disease, will usually cause posture problems and needs addressing early on in the condition to minimise any long term effects. Lastly, a faulty loading pattern is also a common causative factor as this can occur frequently during daily activities. Sitting or standing in a poor position at work, driving, on public transport, at home or even walking in the wrong shoes means poor posture is being repeatedly enforced. Now add in exercises and the loading pattern becomes up to 7 times greater meaning a rapid increase in injuries.

 

What are the implications?

Impaired movement, usually due to poor posture, can easily lead to injuries. To the untrained eye, not knowing where to look or what to look at, it is difficult to pin point what has caused the impairment. As an example, for those following a training programme, resistance training is wholly based on repetitions. If you are not performing the exercise with the correct posture, movement patterns will be affected and can cause injury. Sports that involve uni-lateral repetition or static positions over long periods of time such as golf, cycling and race car driving, often see their professionals committing a lot of time reinforcing and strengthening posture.

It is not always during the impaired movement phase that injury occurs. A sudden movement or over-extension during an exercise session or just participating in normal daily activities can catch your body off guard and unprepared. Consistent poor posture will almost certainly in some type of injury which will cause pain and discomfort.

Muscular pain in everyday life occurs when muscles are over activated and stop working within their correct movement patterns. When muscles contract, blood flow lessens. If a muscle is overactive, blood flow becomes restricted, lactic acid and other metabolites build up. This leads to tension and discomfort which in turn leads to reflex contraction. Postural position is then over adjusted and leads back to more overactive muscles. This is known as the pain spasm cycle.

 

Ways to avoid poor posture.

Prevention is always better than cure.

We use the latest technology, The Performance Matrix screen. It allows us to recognise and assess the site, direction and threshold of uncontrolled movements that lead to poor posture and injuries. From this screening we then put together a rehab program with instructional videos and diagrams so you can then rehab and pre-hab any issues picked up by The Performance Matrix screening.

 

If already in the pain spasm cycle, it is highly recommended to seek professional help to alleviate tension and discomfort. Once the acute pain is under control, an assessment to find the root cause of the problem is essential and should then be followed up by a corrective exercise plan.

 

Thoughts On The Year Ahead

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I’m really looking forward to this year; Mallorca in February, The Tour of Pembrokeshire in April, The Santini Stelvio Gran Fondo in June, The Everest Challenge on Mid-Summer’s Day, Off The Beaten Track Pembrokeshire in October and The L’Eroica in Tuscanny, also in October.

Tom Walker’s set me a really enjoyable training plan, it’s achievable and it’s keeping me focused.  My cycle, if you’ll pardon the pun, begins with a 20 minute warm up followed by X3 10 minute efforts at FTP (functional threshold power) abbreviated by 5 minute recovery spins.  The Watt Bike in our Performance Suite is a boon if it’s chucking it down or I have a tight time schedule.

After a recovery day I have a 2.5 hour road ride.  If it’s dry I’ll take my Colnago Master-X Lite, otherwise it’s the Storck T.I.X. which has a reassuring feel, whatever the weather.

With another recovery day under my belt I have to perform three hill sessions climbing a 1 in 4 for 3/4 mile reducing my time by 10 seconds on each occasion.  It would be a lot easier and better for my cadence with a 12-29 cassette rather than the 11-25 I’m using.

I find my final session to be the hardest: X8 seriously tough (for me) 20 second reps on the rowing machine followed by X8, 20 second sprints running.  I do the latter on a stretch of road which has a very slight gradient and I cannot understand why I’m faster on the incline than the decline?

So, as I said, it’s an enjoyable programme, varied, tough and achievable.  I’m looking forward to the one young Tom will set next month which I know will get me even closer to achieving my personal targets.

If you’re interested in knowing about my diet, I just stick to one that I understand: the Palaeolithic or Caveman, it’s so easy to follow, if an item of food was here 40,000 years ago you ca eat it, and if it wasn’t you can’t!

 

From Prop to Wannabe Ironman

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I am Martin Nicholas a 33 year old local lad from Tavernspite. I have had a hard sporting back ground of rugby, rugby and more rugby playing for Whitland up until last Christmas where through a hip injury from years of scrummaging as a loose head prop, i was advised to give it up and since then i haven’t looked back!

I have climbed Kilimanjaro for the Help for Heroes charity, i climbed in the alps last September summiting Gran Paradiso the highest mountain in Italy and also a summit attempt on Mont Blanc which we had to turn back 500M from the summit due to poor conditions – devastating but at 100KM winds totally the right decision! On returning on Saturday 13th Sept’14 from Chamonix, i was already thinking what was next?

I awoke the next morning to watch and support my good friend Dafydd Lewis take part in his second Ironman in Tenby. My feet bandaged from a bad pair of boots and my body sore and aching from a weeks climbing, my wife, two children and i arrived in Tenby and i could instantly feel the atmosphere of the crowd as the cyclists were flying through the town and the roars of support gave me goose bumps. Could i do something like this? No i am a bloody prop, or could i? As we spoke as a family as we watched, i said ’i might do this next year’ where my son shot me straight down ‘ you couldn’t do this dad, no way’ charming i thought! All that night, as i watched those very soon to be Ironmen and women run over that finish line and hear there names being called over the microphone – i could do that, i want to do that!

The next morning i woke early inspired by yesterdays amazing events, i am going to swim this morning i thought – ‘can i be an ironman’, it was still in my head? That Monday evening, when i saw on the internet that Ironman Wales 2015 application was now open, i booked it and told no one. I needed to see first if it is achievable, can a man of my size, no experience, my work load, wife (and she is a demanding wife), two kids, rugby coach for Whitland under 11’s, a new job in Cardiff there were so many factors to consider so i didn’t tell a dicky bird until i was ready and i believed that it was feasible for me to achieve this goal.

I needed help to get this going, i couldn’t really ask any of friends as living in Whitland news seems to travel fast and the wife wouldn’t be pleased. So i managed to stumble across Tom Walker, my saviour! After explaining the situation to him, he agreed to help and the journey started. I am now about 3 1/2 months into working on my swimming, cycling and running, concentrating on technique and building up my core strength and base fitness level as i follow his training programmes and nutrition guidance, and we slowly increase the training. And if i am honest i feel great for it! Once we got to Xmas my training was going well i was managing to balance life with training, it was time to let everyone know and i spoke to my friends and family informing them that i had signed up and that my son will soon eat his words when i get over that finish line.

I’ve signed up for a few events over the year which i will keep you all updated twice a month. To start a duathlon in March and then the Llanelli half marathon and 20 miler leading onto the London Marathon the end of April (This is for a local mental health charity which i will provide more details on shortly). In May and June, i plan to enter the Fishguard and Broad Haven triathlons and as we get closer to the main event the long course weekend and the Ocean Lava Wales Triathlon and then in 33 weeks time (not that i am counting) Ironman Wales 2015!

Cheers

Martin,

Café stop, helping or hurting?

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New Year’s Eve has come and gone, the fitness industry is waiting, poised, rubbing its hands together at all the new but unfortunately short term business walking through its doors and there is only one thing that seems to be on people’s minds.

Loose the festive weight!

The gym is not for some people, some would rather get out on the bike and make up for the rides they missed over the festive two weeks. Being a business aimed at cyclists and triathletes these tips are going to be aimed at you lot!

1. This one is simple but could get you into trouble. There are always Christmas left overs, I don’t mean turkey sandwiches as I’m sure they are long gone! I mean chocolate and alcohol. They sit there, waiting for you to walk past and just pick them up without thinking or drink it because you’ve told yourself you need the space in the fridge. For the lone wolf who doesn’t share their space the answer is simple, either give it away, hide it or throw it out! For the family man/woman it becomes a little more complicated. Tell your family you are not allowed them, make yourself accountable and use a little discipline! This is also good psychological training for later in the season when you just want a lie in or fancy skipping the last hill interval!

2. Portion size has been a growing concern ever since rations stopped post war, and with plates now getting too big for dishwashers you can’t stick to the plate divide rule either. Research has shown people will ignore their brain telling them they are full and go by what is left in front of them, and old habits die hard especially the one that says you don’t get desert until you have finished all your dinner. A portion size guide to use is: -

Protein = the size of your hand palm

Carbohydrate = a handful size (that’s one hand not two)

Fats = a handful size (oils should be a table spoon size.)

If your plate still looks empty then fill it with salad! Using the chefs trick of placing it all in the middle of the plate and not around the edges will help make you look fancy too.

 

3. Building muscle has long been known to help with fat loss. I say fat loss because it doesn’t necessarily mean weight loss. However fat loss should be the goal at this point in the year. Having a greater muscle mass in the body means a greater metabolic demand and so more kcals used up by the body. Cyclists tend to have good leg muscles but as a bike fitter and coach I tend to see a lack of important upper body muscles especially in the posterior chain (muscles used to help support posture). Below are my top 5 muscle building, fat shredding, and posterior chain supporting exercises for cyclists.

Pull ups – Whether done with or without support a correctly done pull up has stood the test of time in the body weight exercise world. It hits all of the big back muscles and gets the core working overtime too!

Bent Over Row – Technique over weight with this body building classic move. If unsure of your form seek out some professional help. The key is to stick your bum out and keep the legs in a sqaut stance while maintaining a neutral spine.

Deadlift – The Daddy of moves. Whether done with a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell or whatever else you can lift with good form this will get those posterior muscles working. This lift comes from the legs and not the back! Again seek professional help if unsure.

Pencil-Y-T’s - This gets the upper back muscles and posterior core muscles too. Lie face down try to keep your bum and leg muscles relaxed. Then lift your chest away from the floor and  straighten your arms into a pencil shape squeezing your ears. Hold for 5 seconds before moving your arms to a Y shape then after another 5 seconds out to a T shape before repeating the movement. If you feel you need to use weights for this move then keep it light and up the reps.

Burpees – Mr burpee is just an all-round great guy. Not only will he help with muscle building he will also get your whole body shedding fat in just a matter of minutes! Done quickly and intensely he will also increase your V02. And it is as simple as throwing yourself face down onto the floor then jumping back up to your feet as quickly as you can. I like to add in a jump and a clap at the end as small celebration too.

4. High intensity interval training. Nothing new about this and every fitness magazine in the past 4 years will tell you the benefits. My favourite HIIT cycling workout is simple. After a good warm up with some high effort bursts. Perform 10 rounds of 60 seconds maximum effort 60 seconds full rest. Cool down with 10mins smooth pedalling. If the 60 seconds feels too difficult to maintain, drop to 30 seconds and add on 10 each week.

5. Congratulations, you cycled to a café. You don’t need to eat cake!

Coffee and cake, the age old stereotype in the cycling world. Steady state cardiovascular efforts in a fasted state have been shown to help with fat loss and helping the body become better at utilising fat as fuel. A pre ride black coffee has also been shown to accelerate the fat burning effects but unfortunately a mid-ride piece of cake has not. If your effort is staying in the easy zones and you’re staying under the 2hour mark just fuelling with H20 is sufficient. If it is going to be longer than 2hours and you get hungry taking a bag of un-roasted nuts or seeds with you will help keep the body using fat as fuel. Add a sprinkle of sea salt to help with electrolyte levels.