Sunday, 13 March 2016

Foot and Insole Whalley Review (@footandinsole).


I recently posted a blog on Linkedin about an on-going niggle that I've been having with my tendons.  With an increase in volume and load in my training since last August last year, it's led to tight hamstrings and - at times - some discomfort.

Investigating - at first - cleat position and overall position on the bike with Peter 'Spike' Taylor at The Fell Bike and Tri store in Clitheroe, everything seemed fine in terms of the overall pedal stroke, saddle position etc.  Spike then asked me to take off my shoes and socks and had his 'aha' moment.

He spotted straight away that I had over supination in my feet (effectively that they were not in an neutral position). He saw tell tales clues in bursars on my back heel and other signposts.  From his persepctive, the increased training load was exaserbating the condition leading to the outcome in the tendon.

His recommendation was to go and see Graham at the Foot and Insole clinic in Whalley.  I'm glad I did.


Review of Foot and Insole

Organising an appointment over the internet for a consultation and to have a pair of insoles made was easy.  A couple of clicks and I was in. 

Arriving at the clinic - which sits within the Whalley Warm and Dry store (clothing and walking boots retailer) - I was directed upstairs to be warmly greeted by Graham who owns the clinic.  

What initially struck me was how much Graham knew.  An engineer by trade who then began to study bio-mechanics, podiatry etc, he is a real subject matter expert who makes insoles for professional sportspeople of all disciplines, walkers, cyclists, footballers, golfers, rugby players, triathletes - you name it, he has made it and makes it.

After an introduction and initial chat about the reason why I had ended up with him, he quickly got to work on some physical inspection and then detailed analysis.  In the clinic he has software tools which allow him to look at all aspects of your foot movement and where pressure is applied within your feet upon movement or standing still.  It's really clever, identifying key hotspots of concern and alignment issues.

Made to Measure

From the physical inspection, Graham quickly identified that I had one leg around 4mm than the other (in the pelvis neutral position) and also confirmed the supination issue.  It seems my right foot particularly was bearing the brunt of it.

With the combination of physical examination and data analysis, a set of customer inserts was then made in-house, whilst you wait.  Using a combination of cushion and carbon for my road shoes and various layered materials for my daytime shoes, each set was hand crafted to fit with Graham taking time and care to ensure that each element of the insert would do the job, such as not making them too deep to ensure they went in my work shoes OK. 

Foot and Insole Preparing Custom Inserts

How much does it all cost?

The overall consultation was £120 including one set of in-soles, I was with Graham for around 90 minutes in total.  Given the amount that I invest in cycling kit, training and other related items, this was money well spent.  As well as diagnosing the root cause of my tendon pain, I walked away with a solution in terms of the insoles which I'll now wear all the time.  

Graham is highly knowledgable, with multi-disciplinary knowledge of various aspects of health then firmly focused on what role the feet plan in terms of your overall stance, stride and physical performance. 

I'll be recommending to lots of people that I know to go and see him.  He's like one of those best kept secrets.  Those that know, know and I wish I'd got to meet him years ago.  

Now you know, I suggest you go get checked out in order to ensure that your overall standing position is as it should be to ensure injury prevention and problems later in life, particularly if you run a lot, ride a lot or are on your feet a lot.

Following Up

If you would like to contact Sole and Insole, their website is here and you can follow them on Twitter here.  Please domention that you saw them via the blog.  More pics below.


Foot Mould
Cycling Inserts with Carbon Base
Stride and Stance Pressure Scanning Pad
 

Thursday, 31 December 2015

December 2015 and Year End Mileage


So today was the last training session of 2015, wrapping up a record year in terms of miles covered.  

Squeezing a quick post internal session recovery ride in for coffee today, it was a good time to reflect and how much more progress I was able to make whilst working with a coach.  It also came to mind just how wet and windy it's been this winter and how many of the miles (1,934) had been indoors. 

2016 brings new opportunity as always and the plan is to maintain my new lower weight, build core strength and muscle where required and continue to use cycling as a way of staying healthy, both physically and mentally.  Simple.

I hope it's been a great year for you and wish you safe miles in 2016.  Thanks for continuing to visit the blog and I hope to see you on the road sometime.

Month to Date

Mileage- 760 miles/1,216km (+344% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 37hrs 03mins 
Ascent - 4,960ft
Avg. Speed - 20.5mph/32.8km/h
Avg. HR - 129bpm 

Wattbike Miles- 557
Road Miles - 175

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 24 (Flat) 

Year to Date

Mileage- 5,789 miles/9,262km (+58% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 320rs 02mins 
Ascent - 119,347ft (-17% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 18.1mph (+9.6% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 134bpm

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Losing Weight Through Cycling - How I Lost 10kg in 10 Weeks


 
If you've ever read any books by Tony Robbins you'll understand the concept of the 'syntax of success', in other words what sequence did someone else who has successfully already achieved what you want to achieve, then replicate it.  Another way of looking at is is what I call 'winning patterns' - what patterns of success can you install to get you more quickly to your goals.

For those that follow me on social media, they'll know that I reduced my weight by 10kg in 10 weeks in preparation to cycle up Mount Teide in Tenerife by focusing on a kg a week as my weight loss target.  No crash or fad diets, just discipline and work combined with good diet and lots of targeted exercise.  Lots of people have asked how I achieved it, so today I'm sharing some of my 'syntax of success' with you.

I achieved this under the guidance of a professional coach (@propulse on twitter) - who developed a personal training plan, individualised to my ergometrics and designed around my work schedule. 
He monitored my progress daily, including assisting me through a period of food poisoning and a cold.  We did this virtually using Whatsapp and through monitoring and evaluating each day's training session using Garmin connect (power, HR data etc) aswell as other data from my Fitbit (resting Heart Rate). Before we start on some details, let me just say this:-

Disclaimer
  • Always consult a health professional before attempting any strenuous activity.
  • Get a good quality coach/professional who can advise you and monitor your progress.
  • If ever in discomfort, stop and seek medical assistance.
Setting the Goal

At the basics of motivation are having a goal to achieve, something you want. It's why many fall off the weight loss wagon, particular at New Year.  I've always liked this graphic which gives it some clear perspective, you need to be able to fill in all the boxes and it makes it easy to ensure you have all the boxes ticked.

Questions to ask yourself?
  • How badly do I want this?
  • What am I prepared to give up/sacrifice?
  • What am I prepared to invest?
I also shared my goal with my wife. Her understanding and support was key as the evening training commitment meant disruption to our usual routines.

Technology/Applications 
  • I have used a Fitbit Surge watch for a while now which monitors your movement and resting heart rate.  I also own the Fitbit wireless scales which automatically update your weight and body fat into the application.  This gave me a good baseline for my daily movements and added motivation to keep moving, such as having a short walk at lunchtime aswell as good progress tracking.
  • I use Garmin Connect for logging rides and use MyFitness Pal for food logging.  With API's, these are all linked and it means my Fitbit dashboard shows me the consolidated view of all of my activity. Calories in, all exercise, the calorie deficit and my sleeping patterns plus resting heart rates - pretty much everything you need to understand how your body works.
  • I'm into data, so monitoring has been a big part of having a 360 degree view of the pathway and sharing that with the coach.  All training sessions were conducted with a heart rate monitor on and we also kept a close eye on my resting heart rate to ensure the load was well calibrated and within my capacity.  Taking each step with certainty.
Food Logging
  • By logging what you eat you can quickly get to grips with what you're eating and how to take corrective action to re- configure what you eat. Barcode scanning the things you eat (or looking them up) you can better get an angle on portion size and make more more positive choices about what goes in.  It leads to a lot of trading off, trust me.  MyFitnessPal has been superb for this.
  • At the simplest level, a pound of fat is around 3,500 calories, give or take, so if you want to lose two pounds you have to create around 7,000 calories of deficit without your body thinking you're on a desert island and hungry.  This was a key piece of info for me when starting out as it gave me a number to focus on.
  • By fuelling your body with what it needs you create the platform for the cardio work you need to do complete to create the weekly deficit you need.  I got a lot of advice from the coach on this, including supplements and specific eating strategies for periods of load.
  • We identified I needed more protein in my daily diet, so reviewing my daily calories, it was about prioritising more intake.  This was provided via supplements, the rest through protein rich food.
A Typical Eating Day

Crash diets rarely work as your body thinks it's starving and holds on to the fat you're trying to lose or eats into your muscle for the fuel it needs.  Eating close to your daily metabolic rate is key, particularly with a training load.  Mine is around 2250 calories, I chose to ensure I eat at least 1950 calories per day (7 x 300 = 2,100 calories a week saved or around a pound).  

I can genuinely say I rarely felt hungry with this food pattern and - more importantly - avoided the sugar crashes that have you reaching for chocolate, biscuits or crisps, a previous regular feature around 5pm and 9pm in my life.
  • Breakfast - Sugar free Alpen muesli with blueberries, skimmed milk or natural yoghurt. Pint of water. Range of supplements C, D, E, Fish Oil. Double espresso (a treat).
  • Mid morning - 750 ML whey protein shake (50g protein).
  • Lunch - Couple of slices of ham, couple of boiled eggs, small portion of pasta, plenty of salad.
  • Mid afternoon - piece of fruit.
  • Evening - Chicken or Fish and salad/small portion of carbohydrate.
  • Around 9pm - 750 ML whey protein shake (50g protein).
  • Water - around 3L per day.
  • No caffeine after 2pm.
Exercise
  • Around 75 minutes per weekday cardio on a Wattbike with intervals. The intervals were designed around specific heart rate zones to achieve specific outcomes with varying load.
  • Saturday ride around 3 hours with some intervals and sprints of increase increasing intensity as time elapsed.
  • Sunday ride around 4 hours with some intervals and sprints of increase increasing intensity as time elapsed.
  • Total around 13-14 hours per week with specificity in the design.
Outcomes

Just doing the math. If you think an hour of decent cardio should give you around 550 burned calories, 13 x 550 = 7,150 calories plus the daily deficit of 2,100 from diet (see point above) = 9,250 deficit per week.

With long rides at the weekend, they need fuelling, plus there are times in the week when you may go over your daily rate or need extra fuel for a training session, knock off 2,250 calories and you're left with about 7,000 calorie deficit (which give or take give you around a kg).

That at its simplest level is the basic formula I worked to in my head when looking at what I eat vs. the exercise and how to generate this gap whilst still giving the body all the essentials it needs to cope with the load.

Starting weight/body fat  = 205 pounds or 93 KG /25% body fat
Current weight/body fat = 182 pounds or 82.5 KG/21% body fat

Looking at my overall performance, my previous average speed on the bike I can produce with around -7% less heart rate effort, meaning greater efficiency. My resting heart rate is now 46 and my VO2 max around 53.  
I've broken just about every Strava record I've ever set in the previous five years in the last four weeks showing the impact of reduced weight, whilst building resiliency and threshold based tempo.

Quick Wins I Implemented to assist with weight loss
  • Switched from flat white coffee to Espresso (130 calories per day in a Flat White to Double Espresso around 6 calories per day).  7 x 124 = 868 calories.
  • Passed on bread. No sandwiches, toast or wraps.
  • Skipped deserts when out at business dinners.
  • If on a night out, alternated between alcohol and soda water every other drink (cuts out 50% whilst not living like a monk).
  • Cut down on overall alcohol intake (generally around 180 calories plus in a pint of anything so if you have a ceiling of 1,850 you can quickly burst through it).  My 12 week period included a heavy three day session in Palma for a friends 50th birthday, however I offset a lot of it by walking for 10 miles a day and drinking a lot of water in between beers (all about offsetting if you're going to go for it).
  • Always have some positive food on hand in your fridge if you get the munchies. It's better for you and long lasting in terms of effect.  For me, this was mostly chicken.
  • If going away on business, I booked at hotels with gyms to train, also took food with me if necessary to avoid the easy burger and fries choice.
  • Drove more to evening business functions rather than take taxis, meant alcohol was off the choice list.
Commentary from Niko (The Coach)

"Successful business people have similar characteristics to pro-cyclists. Dedication, targets, discipline are already there. The coach has to have the ability to transfer these into an effective combination of training plan and correct food intake while monitoring the training load, heart rates and recovery times. This is not easy. The very busy schedule of a CEO doesn't leave any time to waste - every moment is precious. Phil managed and continues to manage everything in a unique way.
Nobody should crack under pressure if a plan is well calculated, keeping the energy stores always recharged and the training load well balanced. The discipline of following a rigourous training plan should pay dividends for successful business people in their work lives, by enabling even greater energy, clear thinking and focus - but it still takes strong dedication to stick to the plan and achieve the results. "

Summary

So that's it.  After the 10 weeks you develop the winning mindset of eating better, finding time to train and better understanding the relationship between what you eat and what you burn.  On the bike, you get faster, more efficiently and climb better too.  You're body shape changes, leading to new clothes and increased confidence.  It's well worth the investments you make to get the returns.  
As with all things, this is what worked for me.  It may or may not work for you, always seek advice from a professional before embarking on any big training loads and good luck if you fancy doing something like this yourself.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

November 2015 Mileage


November was the big one with my trip to Tenerife to take on some of the lumps of the Island aligned with some winter sun and a week at a Northern Soul event.

Having been putting in a big shift in training for the previous twelve weeks and got my weight goal in the bag, it was time to crack on with some climbing.

Day one of having the bike I did a warm up ride of around 15 miles.  The thing is about Tenerife is that you don't ride far without encountering a climb.  On this short haul, there was 1,742ft of ascent with a ride ascent ratio of 116ft per mile, which would qualify for hilly back here in the UK.

Day two was the day that I wanted to climb Teide.  Setting off at 8am with a route that the Garmin said was a round trip of 61 miles, by the time I got to the base of the climb I'd already covered 47 miles and 4,964ft of climbing (RAR 105).  It soon dawned on me that the route mileage was wrong.  It was a hot day, 29 degrees and I was already feeling pretty tired by this point, time to man up and go up.  

Teide is a relentless climb of 6-9% and long, in fact it's the longest single climb in Europe. After 11 miles of further climbing, I'd covered another 3,930 feet (RAR 357 which was really hard), by this time it was 3.15pm in the afternoon and I saw a sign that said 'Summit 27km'.   
Nightmare of nightmares.  I'm now 58 miles from the hotel, with no lights on the bike and the sun due to set at 6.15pm and riding at an average of around 10mph given the heat and the ascent.  I knew I wouldn't make it back before dark.

Management decision time.  I put on my arm and leg warmers, spun the bike round and flew down the 11 mile climb taking full use of the disc brakes on the BMC bike I'd hired.  The thing about Tenerife though is that there are only two routes to get back to the hotel, the motorway or exactly the way I'd just come, yes the same 47 miles and 4.9K of climbing (if you've done the math, I'd already covered 69 miles and 8,894 feet of climbing) so after seven hours in the saddle, in the heat, I had those miles to cover again. 

Thank god I'd trained so hard.  All those intervals paid a handsome dividendMy engine was good, strength was good and I covered a further 20 miles all in all after the descent, including a stop at a bakery to tip another bottle of water over my head, have an espresso and eat as many cakes as I could eat!  

Taxi!
 
It was too dark and treachorous to carry on, so I pushed on until I came to a village, found a taxi rank and cabbed it back to the hotel.  All in it was a 90 mile day with around 12,000ft of climbing (RAR 133).  Am amazing day and probably the hardest I've ever done on a bike given the heat and the overall ascent relevant to the distance.

After a couple of days rest, I rode up to Adeje for a leg loosener (18.6 miles with 2.1K ascent - RAR 117).

Day after that I went up to San Miguel which is a peach of a climb, around 10km long at 6%. It had an amazing four mile descent, so I went down, climbed back up again and did it again.  The loop from the hotel was 43 miles with 3,911ft of ascent (RAR 90).

Over the four days that I rode, I managed to cover 167 miles (268km) and climb 18,900ft (5760M) with an overall RAR of 113ft per mile.  It was glorious riding in the warm, the roads were quiet, the climbs long and steady and a perfect way to segway some cycling in with a holiday.  

Although I didn't climb Teide in its entirety in the end, the overall distance and ascent given the route planning boo boo, still gave me the virtual climb I guess.  Think I have some unfinished business with that Volcano, bring on 2016.
 
Month  to Date

Mileage- 727miles/1,170km (+70% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 19hrs 57mins 
Ascent - 24,045ft
Avg. Speed - 16.2mph/26km/h
Avg. HR - 126bpm 

Wattbike Miles-428
Road Miles -299

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Road Miles) - 80 (Hilly

Year to Date

Mileage- 5,028 miles/8,091km (+44% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 282rs 58mins 
Ascent - 114,386ft (-21% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 18.1mph (+6.6% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 135bpm