Archive for January, 2021

Minimalist’s Guide to Running an Ultramarathon

Friday, January 29th, 2021 | Books

I read this book in about 20 minutes. I’m not against shorts books as long as they deliver value, but to me, this read like a rambling monologue with very little structure and I did not learn much about ultra running.

IRONMAN Certified Coach

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 | Sport

I’m now an IRONMAN Certified Coach. I am already a certified coach with British Triathlon, but it is reassuring to know that my coaching skills also extend to looking after long format athletes and that I am not just winging it based on my personal experience completing full distance and 70.3 races.

I might write up a proper review of the IRONMAN U programme later but in the final assessment, your skills get put to the test when you have to design a detailed training plan for a fictional athlete looking to complete their first full distance event. It was tougher than expected but the work apparently paid off as I achieved 98%.

Restorative yoga teacher training

Monday, January 25th, 2021 | Life

Last weekend, I completed my restorative yoga teacher training. If there is one thing I have learnt about my body, it is that I need a lot of props to build the ground up to me 😀 . Luckily, there is no limit to the support you can use if you are creative enough.

Alps to Ocean medal

Sunday, January 24th, 2021 | Sport

Last month, I completed the Alps to Ocean virtual ultra, which is a 290 km run across New Zealand. It is always a pleasure to receive one of the medals because The Conqueror put so much effort into theirs.

Humanist Chaplaincy Level 1

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 | Foundation

The Humanist Chaplaincy network has relaunched its digital platform and, for the first time, has brought its training course into digital as well. The new Humanist Chaplaincy Level 1 provides an introduction to the foundations of philosophy, theory and practice as a non-religious chaplain. Find out more on their website.

Yoga teacher training at OMS

Friday, January 15th, 2021 | News

Online Mindfulness School has launched its first yoga teacher training. It’s an introductory level course rather than a 200-hour course, but would be excellent prep for the latter.

Muscle Myths

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 | Books

Muscle Myths: 50 Health & Fitness Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making is a book by Michael Matthews. I don’t think it’s the cyclist. It’s a pretty good book. There are academic references and most of the stuff agreed with what I have been taught in an academic setting, which is a more legit version of confirmation bias.

Below, I’ll discuss some of my key takeaways. The book’s claims are in quote marks with my commentary next to it.

“Free weights work better than machines.” Machines isolate muscles which can be useful if you need to train specific muscles, but if you just want to generally get stronger, free weights are my goto as well.

“Aim for 1-6 reps with at least 3-minute rest between sets.” If you want to get strong use heavy weights and low reps. If you want to get big muscles you might want to do things differently. Or maybe get over your ego ;).

“You don’t need strong abs, just a body get percentage under 12%.” If I ever get my body fat down to 12% I will be excited to find out if this is true.

“Training in a fasted state (2-3 hours of not eating) will accelerate fat burning but also muscle breakdown.” Yes! Someone finally talked about this. If you don’t have any glycogen left, you break down muscle and not fat. So, you need to pick whether you want to gain both or lose both.

“BCAA supplements will suppress muscle breakdown and green tea extract at 600-900 mg per day can help, too.” Interesting. I would like to burn fat and maintain muscle. But I don’t know enough about these supplements to comment.

“You need phases of bulking and cutting because you cannot do both.” As discussed above.

“Low rep heavy weights increase your metabolic rate, too.” If true, another reason to lift heavy.

“High-intensity cardio can burn fat but we don’t know why. Possibly by raising the metabolic rate.” Yep, it’s a mystery. When you do HIIT, you burn glycogen and the body cannot convert fat into glycogen because they are totally different. So, how does it burn the fat? We don’t know. But it seems to, so HIIT can be an alternative to long slow runs in the fat-burning zone.

“Cardio and strength training should be separate.” Controersial. Matthews recommends strength then cardio, but British Triathlon say it should be cardio then strength.

“Size of meal is not important so you can eat large or small, and eat breakfast or not. Calories are what matters.” Alas, one single 5,000 kcal meal isn’t going to be the secret path to skinny. Nor is a small meal every 30 minutes.

“Not drinking water with meals is nonsense.” Of course it is! Who said this? You should drink water with meals because it will make you feel satiated quicker.

Controlling hunger

I like this list because it is pretty similar to the list I use in my Nudge Nutrition course and it is always comforting to know you haven’t just made stuff up.

  • Eat lots of protein (30-40% of your intake)
  • High carb low-fat to increase your leptin levels
  • Drink water
  • Eat fibre
  • Avoid high GI foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Get enough sleep

Supplements that work

I like this list, too. Caffeine and creatine are widely recognised as effective.

  • Protein powder
  • Creatine
  • Vitamins you are deficient in
  • Fish oil
  • Glutamine
  • Pre workout energy drink

(not the) Sir Titus Trot

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 | Sport

In autumn last year, I noticed my motivation was flagging. I decided to set myself a challenge and didn’t think that anything shorter than a marathon would really do it, so I signed up for the Sir Titus Trot. I was supposed to run the race (half-marathon distance) but picked up an injury before the race. This year was not to be either as the government pulled the race licence 48 hours before.

By that point, I was ready to race, though, so I decided to turn it into a self-supported marathon.

It was bright and sunny when I set off but still cold. The grass was frozen which made for a nice surface. I turned around just after Apperley Bridge and headed back to the car park to pick up more supplies. On the way back, the ground was a little muddier as the sun melted it. And then the snow arrived. It settled on most of the canal making it a bit slippy under foot.

As I got back to Leeds it cleared up and I set off toward Skelton Grange bridge for the final out and back. By this point at the Yorkshire marathon I was dying, but I felt good this time. The final quarter hurt about the same as the third quarter, which is not insignificant, but manageable compared to how the fourth quarter felt! I realised I could set a PB if I put in a fast final few kilometres and finished in:


That is 1:44 seconds faster than my previous PB. And that was in the snow without trying (for example, I stopped to take a selfie). That said, I was wearing my Nike Vaporfly Next%, so what are records now that I should be running 4% faster because of the shoes?

In any case, a great way to begin 2021.

Zoom New Year

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 | Friends

We may be socially distancing in the middle of a pandemic but that was no reason to miss our new year’s eve party. Well done to Zoom for keeping a reliable service over the new year. But maybe the number of business meetings happening on a workday is no greater than the number of new year’s eve parties? In any case, it worked well. See you all next year, hopefully in person!

2020 in review

Friday, January 1st, 2021 | Life

Ironically, January, when the world was relatively normal, was a quiet month. At least Planet Ice finally opened after years or delays.

In February I braved Storm Ciara to complete my British Triathlon strength and conditioning coaching training and the 49ers almost won Super Bowl LIV. I completed my macronutrition course with Wageningen.

Lockdown came into force in March putting an end to spin class, Leeds Dock social run and pilates. Worse, my three-swims-per-week was finally paying off and I was up to 3km continuous front crawl when the pools closed. There were some highlights, though. We had a good time at Michelle’s comedy gig, I spoke at Leeds Front End and I launched my web accessibility course.

I launched my Google Tag Manager course in April and we held a virtual Sunday Assembly Leeds. With lockdown in full flow, Ironman launched their virtual events and I set an unofficial PB of 21:06 at Woodhouse Moor parkrun.

I did a lot of running during May as I started the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, the virtual Hadrian’s Wall ultra and the EveryMayDay 10k challenge. Not bad for a month in which I would have joined the 250 club at parkrun. Unfortunately I also registered my first duathlon DNF when my rear derailleur broke during Ironman VR9. I was busy learning, completing courses on nutrition with Wageningen and Stanford as well as one on sport science and another on physiology. I was busy publishing, too, with courses on CSS Grid, Stripe and Nutrition as well as publishing a book.

It was another month of running in June, completing the virtual Grand Canyon ultra and my first 24-hour race, completing 86.44 km at Endure24. I also launched my Doctrine course.

I finally took a break from running in July when I finished the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. 1,022 km covered in 69 days, averaging 14.81 km per day. It’s a good job because Garmin had a 5-day outage that they never apologised for. I launched courses on Slim, Fear of Driving and Mindfulness for Sleep and started publishing strength and conditioning workouts on YouTube.

I had one thing on my mind during August and that was completing my second full distance triathlon. Which I did with the self-supported Woolenman. Not the week in Copenhagen we were hoping for, but a great race anyway. I also did my first organised event, the Evolve Quarter. I launched three new courses on Symfony, Heroku for Node.js and teaching mindfulness, as well as completing a physiology with Duke. Worfolk Media posted its first profitable year. In my spare time, I started reading Agatha Christie. The Tour de Frace became the first Grand Tour of the year, with the Giro delayed and the Tour de Yorkshire cancelled. Despite the challenges, Kieran & Shweta successfully tied the knot.

In September we headed to the Lake District for a short family holiday and so I could complete EpicMan Windermere. Which was a great race except for my Nike Vaporflys ripping. My family completed their first open water triathlon and I launched the Mindfulness for Anxiety app.

October is birthdays month for myself and Venla who turned 4. I completed my one and only sportive of the year at Daffodils and we finished our family challenge of LEJOG. I expanded my coaching to include the run club side of Hyde Park Harriers and published my course on CBT for Social Anxiety. Elina started a new job and completed her ATT Level 2 accountancy qualification.

I completed my yoga teacher training in November and started teaching a weekly class with the triathlon club. Anxiety Leeds began an online trial and we opened a second branch of the Leeds Anxiety Clinic in Islington. I launched a course on SASS and we reunited with some old friends for some regular Zoom socials. Elina naturalised as a British citizen.

Finally, in December, we got some much welcome news when the UK approved the first COVID vaccine. I reached 1,000 miles of running in 2020 and used my recovery time to watch lots of The Good Place and even expanded my film choices. My Running For Beginners Facebook group reached 3,000 members (having started the year with only 100!) and I completed the Alps to Ocean ultra. Online Mindfulness School opened its doors.