Cake club

At Athletematters we’ve started a ‘cake club’ for the team once a week. This week it was my turn and I produced a batch of my ‘fruit, nut and honey bars’ which are a great natural option for sustained energy as opposed to the processed products on the market. 


125g unsalted butter

100g light soft brown sugar

100g honey

100ml orange juice

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

200g porridge oats

100g dried dates, chopped

100g dried cranberries / apricots or other fruit, chopped

50g chopped hazelnuts, walnuts and cashew nuts

50g chia seeds, ground. 

100g of linseed, sunflower and pumpkin seed mix, ground


18x25cm shallow baking tin, lightly greased and lined with baking parchment. 


Preheat the oven to 180c/gas4. Put the butter, sugar, honey, fruit juice and zest into a saucepan over a low heat and stir gently until the butter has melted and the ingredients have blended together. Remove from the heat and add the oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Stir well. 

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle some extra seeds on the top and bake in the oven for 25-30minutes until golden brown on top. 

Leave in the tin until cool before turning out and cutting into squares or fingers with a sharp knife. 

They will keep for up to 10days in an airtight tin. 

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Chris gets selected to represent England

Congratulations to Chris Singleton who has been selected to represent England at the Anglo-Celtic plate and now has the pleasure of racing 100k on 2.7k loops.

In his own words….

When I started back running a few years ago the goals were simple, lose weight and get fit again. That soon changed to time oriented goals over 10k and marathon, county selection is always a goal and then I looked at ultras and decided to really challenge myself. Today I got the news that all runners hope for – I’ve been selected to represent England at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k international in March. 😬😬

Thanks to everyone who has helped and supported me along the way, my biggest fan Christina whose support is unparalleled……, friends and club mates. It’s just got so very real, time to hand myself over to coach and physio Tim Pigott and hope he can get me fit in time! 😳 ps, I feel sick!!!

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Helen wins the Tour of Helvellyn




Congratulations to Helen Leigh for another convincing win at the Tour of Helvellyn who finished first lady in 7.21 and 8th overall



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Plyometrics to improve running economy

If you don’t include plyometrics in your training, you should. The guys and girls I coach regularly have drills and skills in their program which include exercises such as this.
Below is the abstract of an article which has come up again following citation from this paper which is due for publication now – PELLEGRINO, J., B. C. RUBY, and C. L. DUMKE. Effect of Plyometrics on the Energy Cost of Running and MHC and Titin Isoforms.Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 49–56, 2016
I’ve copied the training protocol as a png file if you can’t get access to the original paper. Give the routine a go and see how your performances improve over 6 weeks.
if you’ve never done plyometrics before then extend the rest time and build up more gradually (so spend 3-4weeks doing the first 2 weeks sessions for example). You should have a work:rest ration of 1:3 at least while doing the exercise session. Make sure you focus on your form – do them in front of a mirror to check your body / hip / knee / foot alignment.
Eur J Appl Physiol (2003) 89: 1–7 The effect of plyometric training on distance running performance.
Previous research has reported that plyometric training improves running economy (RE) and ultimately distance-running performance, although the exact mechanism by which this occurs remains unclear. This study examined whether changes in running performance resulting from plyometric training were related to alterations in lower leg musculotendinous stiffness (MTS). Seventeen male runners were pre- and post-tested for lower leg MTS, maximum isometric force, rate of force development, 5-bound distance test (5BT), counter movement jump (CMJ) height , RE, V˙O2max, lactate threshold (Thla), and 3-km time. Subjects were randomly split into an experimental (E) group which completed 6 weeks of plyometric training in conjunction with their normal running training, and a control (C) group which trained as normal. Following the training period, the E group significantly improved 3-km performance (2.7%) and RE at each of the tested velocities, while no changes in V˙O2max or Thla were recorded. CMJ height, 5BT, and MTS also increased significantly. No significant changes were observed in any measures for the C group. The results clearly demonstrated that a 6-week plyometric programme led to improvements in 3-km running performance. It is postulated that the increase in MTS resulted in improved RE. We speculate that the improved RE led to changes in 3-km running performance, as there were no corresponding alterations in V˙O2max or Thla.
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Training tips for the busy athlete

Training tips for the busy athlete


Keep the home life happy

Ensure you block time out for family and friends, you will need their support so get this right from the outset. Plan ahead and put family day’s on the calendar when you do no training (make this your rest day!). Make sure the family are aware of your training schedule – have it printed out and pinned on the fridge door for example so they know where you are going to be and for how long to avoid being suddenly given a load of chores to do.


Short is OK


Adaptations to short, frequent sessions of endurance or strength training are similar to longer, less frequent exercises sessions when the total volume is the same. So if you don’t have the availability to do longer training sessions in your day, but can fit in a couple of shorter sessions such as 30mins before work and 30mins after, or even multiple blocks of 15mins, this has the similar effects to a single 1hr session. Often it is easier to make time for a 30min workout than it is to do a full hour, so rather than not training because you only have 45mins spare, fit in more frequent 30min sessions throughout the week as they all add up.


Have a written plan


By knowing in advance what you intend to do, you will maximise the training time available. This is where a coach can be invaluable, helping you focus your efforts accordingly. Have written goals and benchmarks for the month, and aim to complete these at some stage over the course of each month. That way you are not necessarily locked into performing on a certain day or even week, you can fit these benchmark sets in as time/work allows. Then review your written goals at the end of each month, and adjust for the next month.


Get enough sleep

Consistency is even more important on a lower volume program, if you get run down, tired or ill and start missing sessions then the consistency will suffer.



Get it done early

Rise and Shine


Often a major time stressor is becoming overwhelmed at work; meetings running over, deadlines approaching, unexpected jobs crop up. These all cut into the available training time in the evening and if the stress levels have been high during the day leaving you fatigued and worn out, too often the training session gets binned. To avoid this happening aim to get your training session done early, before work, that way you spend the rest of the day content that your training is done and if work runs over then it’s not going to impact on your training time (it may however affect family time – another issue). If you have difficulty getting up early, then get to bed earlier. Sleep is crucial, so don’t try and cut the sleep time by setting the alarm clock an hour earlier but still going to bed late! This principle also applies to family time, by getting up and out training while the family are still asleep you don’t impact on the all important quality time with the family.   To make it easier in the morning have all your kit laid out by your bed, bags packed, food prepared, etc. so there is no wasted time when you wake up.


Be inclusive


Include your family in the workout.

With small children you can put then in a running buggy, a great strength workout and ideal for the long steady runs when you’re not aiming to do intervals at set pace or heart-rates.

Use a bike trailer to pull the kids around between playgrounds to make it an interval session.

For long rides you can ride to a specific location and meet the family for lunch, or cycle home after a trip out with the family.

Include the kids on your long runs by getting them to cycle alongside. They can carry your water and chat to you for some great bonding time.

running buggy

Be prepared


Be prepared ahead of time by always having your kit ready the day before. You can keep a set of run kit, gym and swim kit in the car for any impromptu training opportunities that arise (cancelled meeting /client for example). If you suddenly find you have 30mins spare you can get a 20min run / gym session in quite easily and still get changed and back into work again. Every session counts, even the short ones. Using your lunch break to get an extra core session or mobility session helps break your day up, reset the body, and build the training stimulus required to make improvements to your overall fitness.

Keep a list of gyms and pool opening times / lane swimming times handy so if you find a time slot availability during the day you know instantly if you can get a session done.

Triathlon_kit bags

Be successful

If necessary, set your training targets slightly below what you think is feasible, you will feel better consistently hitting modest targets than always falling short. It is better to cut things back and be consistent than try and plan to do too much and miss sessions. If you manage to consistently hit your training targets you can add in ‘optional extras’ for when time does allow you to do a little more, provided these do not fatigue you and result in subsequent missed or sub standard sessions. As a rule, don’t add more than 5-10% of the overall weekly volume onto a particular day.


Be flexible


Sometimes despite all the planning and preparation, things go wrong. This is when you need to be flexible and be prepared to adapt or compensate a session. If necessary you may simply have to miss a session. When this happens and you can honestly say you couldn’t have done anything, simply move on and focus on the next day and how you will achieve that goal. Don’t waste time and energy worrying about a missed session that you can’t get back – and don’t try and squeeze it in elsewhere, if it’s missed it’s missed.

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Cut unnecessary activities from your life.


Can you do online shopping and have your food delivered rather than going to the supermarket? Do you have to watch that TV program. Can you batch cook at the weekend to make it easier to re-heat frozen pre-prepared meals when you get in from work / training.


Hand with credit card and a small shopping cart coming from laptop screen isolated in white

Incorporate training into everyday activities


The key one here is commuting. Can you run or cycle to work, or drive part way and run/cycle the rest of the way into work.  Incorporate strength, mobility and proprioception/balance exercises into everyday life, eg. Brush your teeth stood on one leg, stretch and foam roll or hold a plank pose while watching TV.

Bike Commuter Workout

Understand and reflect on your motivation


Spend some time reflecting on your true motivation for training and racing. Are you process orientated or results orientated? Keep training in perspective to your overall life, for most of us it is simply about being healthy and having fun.




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Helen Leigh wins Lakes in a Day

Congratulations to coached athlete Helen Leigh who broke the course record on her way to win Lakes in a Day – 48mile race from the top of the Lake District to the bottom.  Proof that the longer distances really are her strength coming off the back of her win at the coast to coast multisport race.

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Chris wins Frostbite 30

Congratulations to coached athlete Chris Singleton on a sporting joint 1st place at the frostbite 30 (34miles).  In very challenging conditions the two leaders had to take it in turns to pull each other out of fast flowing rivers and deep bogs, so a sprint finish wasn’t in the spirit of the game.  This performance is a great confidence boost going forward into 2016 and our goal of getting Chris a GB vest for the ultramarathon team. 

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Training with Power – beyond CP20

On Thursday night I presented to the Triathlon England North West Coaches meeting on the topic of power training on the bike for triathletes.  The sub heading was ‘beyond CP2o’ to get the coaches thinking beyond threshold testing to address athletes limiters ahead of the change back to draft legal racing for age group athletes.  Please see the link for a copy of the slides.

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Power training presentation NW Tri coaches 12thNov2015

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Test saddles in stock for you to try

At Worsley Physio Clinic we have a large selection of test saddles from SMP, ISM and Fizik for you to try. As part of the fitting process we can help find the right saddle for you and resolve any pain or discomfort you may have.  Contact us for details of trial loans for any of the saddles. 


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Retül demo for Preston Cycling Club

On Wednesday night I demo’d the retül bike fitting system to 10 guys from Preston Cycling club. A number of the riders highlighted that they had discomfort on longer races and we identified a few key positional faults which  would improve their comfort and performance.
If you would like a demonstration for your club please get in touch.

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