No such thing as ‘Marginal Gains’

Nope, now way, sorry to say that line is a big fat LIE!

If you haven’t realised by now, the Team Sky marketing moniker is just that, a way to convince joe public and those big cheque signing sponsors that, yes, we really are different, we really can deliver with our ultra specific, super pedantic, no stone left unturned approach. The reality, an utterly shambolic paper trail when asked quite simply ‘what was in the Jiffy bag Dave?’.

Anyway enough silly Sky bashing, my point is this, have you got a cup of tea ready?

Racing, and racing at the top level certainly does require pedantic precision and endless pursuit for perfection. Its just that Sky never invented this theory, this is simply part and parcel of improvement and as far as fundamental strategies go it fails to show one very important aspect, ‘constant progression’.

‘What the hell is she going on about?’ I hear you cry, well think about it like this, when you have assessed all there is to assess, your eating, your sleeping, your position your state of mind. You have nit picked your way through literally years of training data and typically surmised your best performances are quite possibly behind you, then what? Where do you find the edge? With ‘marginal gains’ you hit a wall, you have the best kit, clothes, research, processes (*cough*) but still you feel you can’t see improvement then what?

Is all hope lost?
No, it never is, you have ‘plateau complex’ my own non-scientific way of explaining you are not trying to see improvement in all aspects of your life. ‘Incremental gains’ is an alternative strategy that produces significant results.

For us, the ‘normal’ majority, lets break it down.

Shut it all down sometimes and just zen the hell out.

Shut it all down sometimes and just zen the hell out.

Take stock
Declutter and destress, this is very important, a pillar if you will. Take five minutes to look around you and assess your situation. Is your school run a nightmare? Do your work deadlines ruin your routine? Are you a habitual snack grabber? Just take stock for a moment, all these aspects are manageable. Tweak them in your favour, I can’t change them for you, I want you to know what are the blockers and bumps in your day, because truth number one, nothing will change unless you commit your focus to changing it and improving it.

Find time to hit the office gym, try something new, breaking old habits with new routines is always a win!

Find time to hit the office gym, try something new, breaking old habits with new routines is always a win!

Routines break, them make them
I’m not expecting the CEO of a bank to clear her schedule just for her training program, I’m expecting her to incrementally change small aspects of her day to seamlessly integrate her goals. Elevate the feet under the desk, drink water, check posture, take an eye ball break, get out the building, hold back on the coffee, reward yourself with healthy treats, have cheeky stretch somewhere secluded better still sign up to the lunchtime yoga session…that type of incremental change can only serve to produce bigger results.

Get organised! Cut the faff, halve the excuses and get cracking!

Get organised! Cut the faff, halve the excuses and get cracking!

Home is where the heart is
But home is also where at least 60% of your challenges lie, you are trying to be a mother, a father a partner, a friend, a chef, a teacher, a scholar an EVERYTHING to everyone. Just be you, but understand you chose all of this, so again, make the small adjustments that accommodate change. Be organised, nothing wastes time like trying to find a heart rate monitor strap before a precious session. Ruthless repetition in all the small stuff, finish session, towel off, HR strap back in its little spot, grab shake, hit shower, stretch, drink, skins on, job done….now was that so difficult?

It never gets easier, you just get stronger!

It never gets easier, you just get stronger!

When it all falls apart
Its ok, really, it happens. But what is great about making a myriad of incremental tweaks to your day is that you get better and better at crisis management. Previous gains you made are never totally lost. You slip, but you’re not falling off the mountain, you are closer to your goal than you were a week ago, so dust off and get going again.

Incremental change and therefore incremental improvement sets you on an upward trajectory. This is not a flat plain we are on, this is an ever increasing full and total change to bad habits a refining of good habits. You need to make adjustments everywhere but you need routines that can help you quickly look back and ask yourself ‘well last week I did this, how can I do it better?’

So think differently, always. The same results come from the same inputs. Change the inputs you change the results….seriously you don’t need me to tell you this….er…..wait a minute 🙂

Go get em guys



January Flu’s…. Colds Suck

It doesn’t matter how much we try to hide away from the cough’s and colds of January, eventually they will find a way to get into your body, and beat you up good and proper!

You know it is bad when you can’t even stomach looking at your mates strava files to see what crazy miles they did that day, let alone open up your own training peaks plan to see what sessions you are missing out and fitness you think you are losing.

Yep, being ill really does suck! You hate the world, you feel like crap, your throat feels like its been slashed with a razor blade, your nose feels like its about to explode, you can’t hear anything, and not even the ultra soft balm tissues can make your swollen nose feel any more normal..

Sigh, it really doesn’t get much worse than this, does it…

So as a seasoned athlete, racer, rider, coach, current cold holder, what is the best way to manage a common cold, and get back to training pronto?
Well, as I am in my late 40’s and have pretty much raced nearly every year from the age of 16 year’s onwards, the common cold still manages to get me down every January.

The good news though, I have been lucky enough over the years to have some great coaches, who have helped me get rid of a cold sooner rather than later, by tracking my wake up heart rate.

Firstly though, thank god for a step up in technology! No really, taking your heart manually in the 1980’s after you had a nightmare was, literally a bloody nightmare!! Especially when you were trying to get an accurate reading!
The 1990’s brought out polar, but you still had to sleep with the darn thing on to get an accurate wake up reading. It was like sleeping with a brick on your chest! Not ideal…

Today however, we are lucky to have such technology as the fitbit and other types of wonderful products to test our wake up heart rates. Now all you have to do is wear it like a watch and it tracks your sleep and your resting wake up heart rate. It also tracks your steps if your trying to get more active and lose weight.

You can buy a Fitbit Charge from amazon for about £100 – there are so many different versions of the trackers, but you want the one that records your sleep and heart rate.
Then just down load the Fitbit app on your phone.

Every day you are training, track your wake up daily heart rate.
If your waking RHR (resting heart rate) is the following:

Monday 50 RHR
Tuesday 51 RHR
Wednesday 55 RHR
Thursday 58 RHR

Then DO NOT TRAIN from Wednesday onwards until you see your heart rate resumed normality of your average wake up RHR drop back down.

Fit athletes can have a low wake up RHR between 40 and 50 depending on age and how active they are. I was always fascinated by how low Matthew Pinsents the Olympic rower RHR was of 30!
Now that is really low!

Anyway back to managing the cold…
Fact is, you will get a cold in the winter, but the question is though, for how long?
This is where the above heart rate information can really help you – if you listen to your body and stop training on the day your heart rate has spiked up to above 5 to 10 beats over its normal, then don’t fight it, just don’t train until it resumes normality again.

Let your body fight whatever it needs to fight to get you healthy again. If you look after a cold well, then you should only be looking up to around 4 days off training, as opposed to 10 days if you don’t look after or manage it.

By stopping training won’t prevent you getting a cold, but it can however help you to get back to training sooner.

So here is TC’s advice to look after it, and come back stronger!

DAY 1 of heart rate spiking over 5 to 10 beats its usual –


DAY 2 – Ahhhhhhh the cold is coming, you think your dying!!!!!!!

Do be careful on what you can and can’t take medication wise – if in doubt, always ask your doctor.

I used night nurse this time and slept for 14 hours! I didn’t even think that was possible! Anyway, that was day 2..

DAY 3 – Same as DAY 2
DAY 4 – Same as Day 3

Day 5 – Same as Day 4 But… Your nose stops running, your eyes feel brighter, you can kind of stomach opening strava to see what your mates have been doing, rather than hating them! You can begin to get excited as you know you getting over the worst of it, and can vizulize riding your bike again, and actually hold a conversation on social media! Yesssss! I am alive!!!!!

Day 6 – This is today, and it is so good to know I might actually be able to get out on the bike tomorrow.

My wake up heart rate has finally gone down from 58 to 52 – this is a good sign and shows my body was amazing, and kicked the cold senseless!

Whoooohoooooo!!!! I can train, I am well, I’ve survived another January!

The most important thing to remember now, is your body is on the mend, but you still need to look after it, so only do a hour a day at a low heart rate, so you can build up your immune system again, and let your body and legs adjust to outside again.

Do take it easy though, as if like me, we have a very long season ahead of us!

Take care peeps, and see you on the road soon!



Goals and Gains

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to Welshewe Coaching this past year,
without your commitment to training and determination to suceed, the results of this season would not have been possible.

As we know goals are the one thing that drives success, they get us out of bed on cold mornings, they help keep our fitness on track when it would be so easy to make excuses and sack off the session. They are there to ensure we never take our eye off the ball and continually hit our targets.

Whatever the end goal may be, I believe if you focus on the strengths and weaknesses, provide a solid training platform unique to the individual, then you have a pretty much fail-safe training system.

People who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them. I know I did when I was training for the Commonwealth Games, and without my little black book of training notes and thoughts, I don’t think I would have made it to the start line! A study conducted by Gail Matthews, the professor of psychology at Dominican University, California revealed that people who had written goals on paper had been 42% more likely to reach them – It really helped me, and I always encourage my clients to do the same.

To make continually gains it is essential to measure performance on and off the bike. By this I mean power, strength, speed, agility and most of all heart rate! Heart rate tells us what our bodies are doing, so if recorded daily, this will ensure that overtraining does not occur and sickness is kept well and truly at bay. Always listen to your body, and only train to the distance you race.

When it comes to testing, I like to test with a power meter as the information can be easily downloaded and managed in TrainingPeaks. Also never forget the fun of Strava, as lets be honest, its all about beating your mates and getting KOM’s or QOM’s! You can also spy on what your competition are up to too! Therefore understanding the above data helps you improve training and enables you to become a smarter athlete and have more ownership of your overall performance.


Weak or Injured hamstrings? Why not try the Nordic hamstring curl

A pulled or strained hamstring can be very common among athletes. It can be a strain or tear in the muscle tendons that run along the back part of your upper thighs.  Thank goodness I have never suffered a hamstring injury, but I have treated many people who have, and this can be a very frustrating healing process.

So, how can we go about ways to strengthen them and avoid injury?  Well, I came across the Norwegian Hamstring Curl, which has been proven to be one of the best strengthen exercises for Hamstrings.

A little background on hamstrings…..They are a collection of three muscles located in the back of the thigh that are responsible for bending or flexing the knee. The semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris begin as a tendon that inserts in the ischium, one of the pelvic bones and run the length of the femur, crossing the back of the knee to attach to the tibia and fibulas.

The hamstring muscle is balanced by the quad muscles which are located on the front of the thigh and cause the knee to extend. Together the hamstrings and the quads help control power and stability of the knee joint, to perform actions like jumping, squatting, running and walking.

While searching out strengthening exercises, I stumbled across a really good article posted on the British Sports Journal by Dr Peter Brukner from Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia published Online First 23 June 2015 on Hamstring Injuries, Prevention and Strengthen :

“Despite increased knowledge of hamstring muscle injuries, the incidence has not diminished. We now know that not all hamstring injuries are the same and that certain types of injuries require prolonged rehabilitation and return to play.

The slow stretch type of injury and injuries involving the central tendon both require longer times to return to play. A number of factors have been proposed as being indicators of time taken to return to play, but the evidence for these is conflicting. Recurrence rates remain high and it is now thought that strength deficits may be an important factor. Strengthening exercise should be performed with the hamstrings in a lengthened position.

There is conflicting evidence regarding the efficacy of platelet-rich plasma injection in the treatment of hamstring injuries so at this stage, we cannot advise their use. Various tests have been proposed as predictors of hamstring injury and the use of the Nordboard is an interesting addition to the testing process. Prevention of these injuries is the ultimate aim and there is increasing evidence that Nordic hamstring exercises are effective in reducing the incidence

If you haven’t heard of the Nordic Hamstring Curl before, then here’s a video link to one I prepared earlier for you – I would advise starting at 1 sets of 10 reps daily and building up to 3 sets of 10 reps.


Top 10 Hazards for a cyclist

Riding a bike this autumn? Well here are a few of TC’s top 10 tips on how to stay safe on the roads….

Potholes – If you spot a pothole, please report it to
They really are trying to make roads a safer place to be for cyclists. So the more eyes on spotting them, then the quicker the holes can be fixed. TC’s advice is: Always keep your head up, so you can see what is coming up

Leaves – Nothing worse than wet leaves on the road…. If you ride over them, there is a chance your wheel can slide out, and therefore lose control of your bike! TC’s advice: ride thick tyres eg: 25mm width and upwards, which will give you more traction on the road… Most road bikes come with 23mm width tyres, but if you are not sure, then pop into your local bike shop and ask for wider tyres.

Oil– If there has been a spill on the road, then TC’s advice would be to slow right down, and be especially careful when going over it. Or, just jump off and walk on the pavement to miss it.

Water – If there has been a big downfall, then roads can be treacherous – Drains can overflow, therefore leaving the water with no place to go! TC’s advice would be to get off the bike, and walk on the pavement until you pass the residing water.

Pedestrians – On busy streets, especially where shops are concerned, you can guarantee there will always be one shopper crossing the road looking the other way! It happens quite a lot, and in fact happened to me! Luckily we were both fine, albeit a tad shocked! TC’s advice would be to ride slowly and pay attention!!

Drain holes – Sheesh, wet drains can be lethal, as not only can it feel like a skating ring going over one, but the open drain holes can also catch your front wheel, and result in your front wheel being wedged in! TC’s advice would be to avoid going over on at all cost!

Cyclists – With cycling so popular these days, it is not uncommon to get overtaken by a cyclist or for you to overtake a cyclist. Too often you see a cyclist bump another cyclist off because no warning was given as they were being passed. TC’s advice would be, If you are the person overtaking the cyclist, then always give a little warning to the person you are overtaking. This in turn will make the cyclist aware that someone is overtaking them. It will also ensure the cyclist does not change his or her line.

Lorries – Sadly I still see so many cyclists who under take a lorry EVEN WITH ALL THE WARNINGS!!!! TC’s advice would be: use your head and never do it… You are out of the drivers vision, and therefore the drive can’t see you…

Animals – Squirrels, badgers, cats, dogs etc….They are all up there and have their own agenda! TC’s advice would be to always expect the unexpected!

You – TC’s advice would be: Always keep your eyes on the road and ears to the ground… Wear appropriate gear, don’t ride with headphones, never look or chat on your mobile phone while riding. Always look out for fellow riders and just be nice to people….

Safe riding kids!



Cool down with mint tea…

Mint TeaNow, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a cup of coffee in the morning, and to be honest, not so sure I could actually function or do my job without it!  But like many things in life, moderation and common sense  are key.  So what better way to try something different and give your body a little R&R with some fresh herb mint tea in the afternoon and evening.

Studies have shown that a component in peppermint oil has been shown to stop the growth of pancreatic, mammary and liver tumors. Animal studies have shown this component to protect against cancer cell formation in the colon, skin and lungs. Peppermint also eases inflammation. Compounds in peppermint are beneficial to asthma, and have also been shown to inhibit fungus and stop the growth of many kinds of bacteria. Peppermint relieves bloating, calms stomach muscles, and improves bile flow and as a result food passes through the intestines more quickly.

Well, the above maybe true, but all I know  it tastes mighty fine, and just nice to add a little change into one’s day every once in a while…

TC’s tip of the day: Either grow your own mint or buy a fresh bunch in the shop. Once home, pop it in a plastic bag with water in the bottom, put it in the fridge and it will last for well over a week!  Amazballs! 


GB Colours for Ruth and Dom!

In my eyes, everyone is a superstar – It doesn’t matter whether they are fast or slow, just as long as they are willing to give it their best.

When I met Dom last year, he had just bought a new road bike, and I am sure he won’t mind me saying but “all the gear, no idea” was Dom’s knowledge of cycling.

It wasn’t long before I convinced Dom that he needed me in his life, even if it was just to show him the basic skills of road riding and the importance of shaving his legs to look PRO!

Well, it didn’t take long for me to realise just how hungry Dom was to succeed, and take his riding to the next level…

In January this year (2015) Dom introduced me to Ruth, and I could instantly see she had the same gold % path as Dom and eager to win races. We chatted, and mapped out goals, races, training time, nutrition and most of all the talk of a new steed.

Ruth and Dom had purchased their new TT bikes and race preparation was under way. While the world slept over the winter months, Ruth and Dom were up at the crack of sparrows preparing for future GB qualifying races.

Over the winter we worked constantly on technique, shaving off transition times, bike positioning, power outputs, gym work, nutrition…. After a few monhs preparation, I had the call from both Dom and Ruth saying they had both qualified for Spain Duathlon in May 2015. We were over the moon, as all the hard work was paying off.

Race day came, and the weather forecast was horrific with strong winds and heavy rain! The course was super tech with over 30 round-abouts, so I knew it was going to be a challenging day for them on the bike. My words of wisdom to both Ruth and Dom was to race hard, enjoy it and be proud you have come this far…

Below is Dom’s post from Facebook after the race…. I am so proud of them both, and feel very lucky to be working with them.

“Boom and we are done ‪#‎16th‬ for me but the big result was the amazing Ruth Purbrook who came ‪#‎3rd‬ and Hannah Priest who was ‪#‎2nd‬. Massive thanks to Ruth’s husband Barney who came to support and basically beasted me around the Surrey hills. However the biggest thanks from Ruth and I go to our amazing coach TC who kicked us into shape! Oh and Ruth and I want to say thanks to all our team mates at Ful on Tri for being simply awesome and giving us loads of support. From Ruth and Dom xxxx — with Hannah Priest and 3 others.


John Gibbons Rockstar

In my line of work I tend to need to devour various publications. Techniques, treatments, opinions and skills it barely leaves any time for some good old E.L James!

As you can imagine a lot of what gets published is dry, medical and makes for pretty challenging reading but there is one author who has shown me our profession needn’t be a sea of complex illustrations and mind boggling Latin terminology.

He’s passionate, straight forward and probably most importantly Welsh! Kidding, well he is Welsh but the important part is he is now releasing technique videos which are proving truly informative and inspiring, diolch yn fawr iawn John! (thanks mate)