Best of the Internet for Endurance Athletes: 06 March 2016

Each Sunday I’ll post my ‘best of’ list in a number of categories from the inter-webs. Other weeks can be found here.

Technology/Equipment Blogs

Do you have an Apple watch? Here is how best to use it for sport and fitness.

Training/Racing Blogs

Here are some great variations of a common exercise to enhance your core strength.

How to enjoy long runs. I don’t fully agree all the tips here.

An unknown Mountain Biking paradise.

Athlete Blogs

Dylan raced New Zealand Ironman in Taupo yesterday.  Here is his update from Challenge Wanaka.

Nutrition Blogs

Learn all about beetroot and its benefits for athletes.


Get the dope on mechanical doping.

Qwik-View: Chris Sanson

Ironman Training NZQK: Congrats on your sixth place finish at Challenge Wanaka. That is a great result on a tough course in tough conditions. Talk us through your race, the highs and the lows?

CS: Thanks. It was a very tough day with the wind out there. The swim was good for me. There was quite a bit of chop so it meant that the main group didn’t start so fast which is something I have struggled with. I came out of the water about 20 sec off the main group (unlucky to get some cramp 400m from the finish).

Onto the bike and like a lot of other pros road the first 100kms a little too fast. The plan was to hold 270 watts, but I think after 100ks I had averaged 290 (getting caught up in the race hype). The last 80km was really tough and having to deal with the wind made things tougher.

Lucky for me I wasn’t the only one in that boat. I came into T2 In 6th place and headed out on the run. I was about 10mins down on 5th so that was going to take a big effort to catch. I started well, running at 3.50 pace and just trying to keep things controlled. I had made up some time but at 10km the hard bike caught up on me and I started to cramp. I spent the next 10km stopping at aid stations and eating everything I could.

The 2nd lap wasn’t as bad and I only had some amounts of cramps that I could deal with on the go. In the end I made up about 5min on 5th. So 6th it was!


QK: What were your race tactics during the event?

CS: I wanted to have a good ride and start the run in a good position as I have been working hard on my cycling in the last 6 months. However I was my own undoing as I rode outside of my planned watts and paid for it later.


QK: You’ve now got to double up with Ironman NZ only two weeks after Challenge. What does your training look like between the two events? [Readers Note: Chris is a full time athlete in the best shape of his life so don’t try and replicate this.]

CS: Last year I didn’t do a lot as I was a little worried that I wouldn’t recover right. Knowing it was ok last year, this time round I have added in some training in the middle weekend. I had the first 3 days off (mostly due to travelling back home. Then 2 days of steady swims, rides of about 2 hours and a run. Over the weekend I did a hard ride on the Saturday with a 20km time trail and I actually hit a 20m power pb (personal best).  Then Sunday was a hard swim followed by a long run of 60mins.

Race week is then back to my standard pre-race week taper. That way it’s all the same and I know the routine. A few 2 hour bike rides, 3 swims added to 8km and a few short runs.

QK: What do you do to enhance your recovery over this two week period?

CS: I keep it really simple. I try and eat as much good food as I can and lots of it. I also try and add in a few more hours of sleep each night. Sleep is the best form of recovery you can get.


Tri Training NZQK: How do your race goals differ from Challenge and Ironman?

CS: Ironman has a really big field this year so for me it will be about not worrying about who is around me and sticking to my numbers for the first 2/3 of the race. I know with Wanaka under my belt I will be able to run fast like I did last year. I want to improve on that so keeping a lid on things the first half of the race with be key, then firing the gun on the run and seeing what I can do.


QK: Thanks for taking the time to answer these Qwik-Questions.

Helen Majorhazi’s Testimonial for Coach Ray

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at, and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

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Qwik-View: Dr Joe Piggin

Marathon Training NZQK: Not too many of my readers will be familiar with you and what you have achieved. As educated readers I’m sure they are potentially going to Google your name and will discover that you are an academic in the world of Sports Management & Policy. Can you give us a brief intro into what you research and how that impacts the world.

JP: I have been working at Loughborough University in the UK for 6 years now. It’s a great university for many reasons. The students come from all over the UK and all over the world. I am part of the Sport Policy and Management area. My research involves trying to inform ethical policy about sport and physical activity. I think this is particularly relevant because of issues about “unhealthy” sponsors, the threat of privatisation of public spaces, the over-medicalization of physical activity, and so on.

QK: Those that will dig a little deeper down the Google page will discover that you are also a talented athlete in your own right having won some significant events and also have some pretty sharp times to your name. Which race result do you consider your greatest athletic achievement?

JP: The first would be the winning the New Zealand Marathon Championship in 2008. It was a wonderful day from start to finish. My parents, friends and family were there at the finish line.

QK: Whilst preparing for the Rotorua marathon in 2008 I understand you teamed up with and did a lot of training with Scott Winton. What did a typical week look like for you as part of that build up?

JP: Now I look back I was lucky to train with such a great group of people. Scott was an incredible runner and very nearly qualified for the 2008 Olympics, so it was a privilege to train with him. One of the “meatiest” weeks would look something like:

Monday – easy day, 2 X 40 minute runs

Tuesday – easy morning run, and evening “X Games” 16K course from the Auckland domain over to the harbour bridge and back. The course was called the X Games because we would run through the middle of Auckland traffic in the dark. If you got X’ed, it meant you got into trouble on the course!

Wednesday – easy day, 2 X 40 minute runs

Thursday – morning 20K – 30 K tempo run along the Auckland waterfront.

Friday – easy day, 2 X 40 minute runs

Saturday – Tempo run in the Auckland Domain. Anything from 5 X 2 Miles to 3 X 5 miles. This was difficult (and not only because I had been used to thinking in kilometres all my life).

Sunday – Long run between 2 and 3 hours in Woodhill forest on the West Coast. We would park the car at the Murawai car park and run in the forest for a couple of hours. These runs were at medium pace and would get quicker toward the end. We would “ice” our legs in the surf after the run. Good times.

QK: You have been privileged to run all around the world. What is your favourite location in the world to run?

JP: Dunedin in New Zealand has so much beautiful countryside to run in. Everything from the Botanic Gardens to the mountains is amazing. Dunedin is also home to “Rib Cage”, a course written into folklore. It involves ascending and descending every street on both sides of North East Valley in Dunedin (including the worlds steepest street). As well as Dunedin I would say Switzerland. It’s an incredible place. I have a theory, which is not very well thought-out yet, but I think places which have some form of natural elevation contributes to well-being. Being able to look out over a landscape after running or hiking up it is good for the soul. I think it’s got something to do with perspective (of course) and a feeling of awe. Built up, flat urban areas can never evoke the same feeling.

Note: These are some of Coach Ray’s favourite place’s too. Check out this article about my favourite run in Dunedin here. And a Strava profile for myself running the Rib Cage here.

QK: What was the secret to your success whilst you were at the sharp end of elite marathon running in New Zealand?

JP: Without wanting to be too cliché, I think it was all the great friends I had as training partners along the way. Oh, and lots of running in the hills, which helps so much with leg strength.

QK: What have you learned over the last 12 months that more people should know?

JP: Ahhh, eat less sugar. Food companies and supermarkets try to sell as much sugar-laden food as possible … (this is not exactly a conspiracy theory). So I think we all need to eat less sugar.

QK: What are the two biggest training mistakes you have made and how did you come back from them?

JP: I should have had a lot more rest days. Rest, of course, is when you recover. When you are racing, you end up feeling obliged to do something every day, but I think it does more harm than good. So I would recommend people have more rest days and more rest week, where you forget about training altogether!

Another mistake I made was not doing enough stretching. I just always found it was a bit boring. I still don’t have a solution to that one.

QK: What does your athletic future hold?

JP: Marathon running can become quite constraining, whereby you avoid activities because of the risk of injury. But now I have backed off the heavy training loads, it would be great to have a diverse portfolio of activities.

Race Day: Ironman Race Week

What can you do better to prepare for Ironman? Here are some tips and techniques to get through race week ready for the big day.

With Ironman New Zealand fast approaching in Taupo, the nerves of athletes are starting to get frayed. I’ve been there as an athlete six times and many more as a coach supporting his athletes.

A number of things go through the heads of athletes this week, especially when they arrive in Taupo and the ‘banter’ starts. Now Ironman banter isn’t like the banter of the Aussie cricket team. Ironman banter is more exaggerating the training that other athletes have done – “Yeah, I’ve been riding 180km every weekend since Christmas.”  This banter or exaggerating starts the demons in the head that start asking: have I done enough?

Now the situation of each athlete will be different. Strengths, weaknesses, injuries, time available for training, family commitments, work commitments, study commitments all combine to make a unique situation. You have put your faith and trust in your coach to develop your training plan based on your situation and need to continue to keep that faith and trust.

Ironman is a scary time, especially if it is your first time. Trust me you HAVE done the work and what other people have done isn’t going to impact YOUR event. You have your own goals and that is what your programme has been prepared towards.

The taper is the important part of your training to get right. It is easy to get caught up in the hype. If your programme calls for a 45min easy ride, don’t be tempted to go on a smash fest with some mates out to Reporoa and back. These sort of adventures will leave you tired and inhibit your performance on race day.

It is important to stay well rested, well hydrated, well nourished and smiling.  Make sure you have plenty of spending money in Taupo with you to pre-order your race photos.  Don’t spend up large in the merchandise store, because the day after the race they have similar items with Ironman Finisher on them (you will need your finishers medal to prove your are worthy enough to purchase them). Do have a look through the merchandise store.  They have some good gear and presents for your support team.

Aim to drink at least 3L of water (or sports drink) every day from now until race day to build up and ensure you are fully hydrated. I mix up an empty 3L juice container with my sports drink each night and top up a drink bottle from it through the day to ensure I get through the full 3L.  Try and focus on food high in carbohydrates but low on the Glycaemic Index (GI), avoiding high fat foods.  Meals that are based around rice, pasta, potatoes or kumura make good choices, especially if they use a vegetable based sauce (instead of a cheese based sauce).  Breads also are a good source of carbs. I usually have a loaf of fruit-bread to snack on, especially whilst driving to Taupo (it is almost a pre-race ritual for me now).

Make sure you leave plenty of time to register and rack your bike, as these often both have queues along with the race briefing. Take the time to pack your race bags. Lay your equipment out and follow a check list to make sure you don’t miss anything out.  When packing to travel here is a list you might want to consider using:

Some advice I give my athletes I have stolen from Jon Ackland (coach and author of a few books about training and racing) is the ‘Fifty Metre Rule’. The concept behind the 50m rule is to swim, bike or run as best as you can for the next 50m. If you do this 4520 times in a row, you will have the perfect race. The reality is that you are unlikely to remember on every one of the 4520 fifty metre segments of the race, but if you get the majority of them you will have a pretty damn good race. The other thing is not to interpret the ‘best as you can’ for as fast as you can. The idea is that you take steps or do things that will mean that you can be as effective or efficient as you can to ensure you set yourself up for later in the race. Some 50m segments you may be focusing on consuming food/fluid, some you might be focusing on hiding from the wind by being as aerodynamic as possible, some you may be focusing on a long and flowing swim stroke. Regardless of what you are focusing on, you need to be doing something to ensure it is your best effort.

The best piece of advice for first timers I believe is to soak up that atmosphere in the finishing chute as you will never run down the chute as a first timer again. The first time is the most thrilling, so make the most of it.  Who cares if a couple of people pass you. High five everyone, stop and give your loved ones a hug, do ‘the aeroplane’ and enjoy the experience and the crowd, this IS your 2 minutes in the lime light, soak it up.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at, and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.