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Nutrition – Sport Drink Test


20 years ago I was asked by the Magazine Café to do energy drink test. I forced myself to drink 8 different kinds of sports drinks during training. Some of them where really difficult to get down and even more challanging to KEEP down without an explosive ”return”.

It’s good for mankind that some of those energy drinks are gone…. 

After the test I stayed away from sports drinks for quite a few years. Just the thought of the sticky, acid fluid made me nauseous. I don’t know how many races I have had stomach problems in, if it’s due to acid sports drinks or not, I don’t know, but one thing is sure – when you are racing at 85-90% of your max, it’s more difficult to keep energy and electrolyte levels in balance and you need something more than water.     

As I have committed to try new things to improve performance (at my senior age) I have decided to give energy drinks another chance. In races in Belgium and Germany they used Isostar when I was racing in the nineties and I remember that it worked ok, so I contacted them and got my hands on some samples to try out in training and racing.

For the past months I have been experimenting with the product range and have found what works and noticed following benefits: 

  1. Increased ability to maintain high heart-rate at the end of long sessions (> 3-4hrs)
  2. Reduced recovery time – less fatigue and better ability to reload for afternoon/evening session.
  3. Ability to train and race without solid foods (bars).

The Isostar product range is very large but for my specific purpose and need, I have narrowed my consumption and this article down to what I find useful.

Bellow is a short overview of what and why:

Powertabs:

Energy tabs that dissolves in water. A lot of electrolytes but not so much carbohydrates – good for up to 90min high intensity workouts or before a race to top up the electrolytes in your system.

 

Hydrate & Perform:

Powder that you mix with water. Provides electrolytes and carbohydrates – good for the 60-120 min sessions. They have a version for sensitive stomachs with neutral taste, I have been using the normal lemon or orange and even if I have a sensitive stomach I have had no problems with that.

 

Long Distance Energy:

Powder that you mix with water. Provides mainly carbohydrates – good for the over 90 min sessions. Can be mixed really strong without sticky taste, which is really strange as this contains the most carbohydrates it should be the one that is the most sticky – but it’s rather the other way around – this one tastes like water even when mixed strong! (up to 79g of carbohydrates per 500 ml water). 

 

High Energy Actifood (energy gel):

90g of gel with essential vitamins. Tastes like baby food fruit, which is really quite all right compared to the traditional gels (read GLUE) that you get on most races.

Larger container that is easier to open and close than the GLUE version you bite off (and find that you either bit off too much – you get the content on your body rather than in your mouth or too little – end up trying again and end up with the content in your face, hand or on your chest…..    

 

High Energy Fruit Boost:

Small sweets (like gummy bears) but with vitamins and caffeine – easy to eat on the bike leg as long as you have unwrapped them before the race.

Energy Shot:

Perfect to have in the transition area after the bike and take when you start the run. 6cl of vitamins carbohydrates, caffeine, ginseng and guarana.   

Reload – After Sport:

Good recovery drink direct after hard sessions. Contains carbohydrates as well as protein (20%). I use this if I have done a hard morning session and also have an afternoon session that I need to get ready for.

High Protein 90:

Protein powder with slower absorption for the night after a long hard day….

Another positive aspect is that you can now get Isostar at Apotea at really good prices and don’t have to run around looking for it.

I am sure that there are many other good products on the market that have also evolved since my 1996 horror experience but I am surprised that some of the brands still manufacture energy drinks that can strip paint off your bike, bars that can’t be opened with one hand (or eaten with a heart-rate over 135bpm) and work like fast drying cement between your teeth.

Hope that this can article can help you to create your own training and racing nutrition plan so you can reach your best performance and have great racing experiance.    

Safe training!


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Trapaniman 113 – Urban Adventure Racing


First race of the season is completed and it was a fantastic experience – quite different to what you would consider a well-organized race, rather a magical experience to survive and tell stories about.

Trapaniman113 half ironman was arranged for the 5th year. Since the start it has been moved from Trapani to the north west peninsula of Sicily and the town San Vito Lo Capo. A dream beach resort with cristal clear water and a beautiful beach. 

Pietro – the organizer – looking out over the race start beach.

Training leading up to the race:

I had signed up for the race already in January as a few of my friends at SPIF had heard about it and had booked travel and accommodation. My training had kind of stagnated after Christmas even if I was putting in between 15-20 hours per week.

My good friend and former coach Jean Moureau has retired from coaching and as our club SPIF have signed a partnership agreement with Uperfrom I thought – ”It’s time to try something new!” and did what every coach hates, told them that I was racing in a few weeks and that they need to get me in shape and get me fast – in a hurry.

The program I received from Teresa was quite low in volume compared to my normal weeks but when I started to read the intervals (and they were many) I realized that this is either going to kill me or make me fast.

Basically I only had one week of testing and a couple of training weeks leading up to the race and I was very unsure how it would turn out given the fact that I was still doing really hard intervals just 3 days before the race.

Pre-race meeting:

As you would expect the pre-race was all in Italian. When they realized that there were a few international athletes in the audience, they quickly made an adjustment to the program, found someone in the restaurant where the pre-race meeting was held that could speak English and carried on. Unfortunately the Pizza Chef that spoke English had no experience of triathlons – but did his best and translated the most important information.

Fortunately there was a really nice Dutch guy who helped us get the main points, I later realized that it was Chris Brands a professional triathlete who later finished third overall in the race.   

Race day:

The wind was really hard and half the transition area almost flew off the beach.

Gun went off 30-40min later than scheduled and we were all happy for that as most of us where freezing really bad after the long wait. I kept to myself on the left in the field for the full lap and did not have too much problems and got out of the water in top 10.

Great to swim in cristal clear water

Bike was quite hilly course with heavy wind and many parts of bad asphalt and the occasional dogs running out and chasing you to make sure that you did not go slow…. 

Total chaos with cars everywhere as the roads where open and slow bikers doing the sprint at the same time as the half. Not too bad as it were not so many participants (200-300).

Run was through town, along the beach walk that was not closed and full of people walking their dogs, kids and eating ice-cream – completely surprised every time one of those crazy people in superman suite ran passed and jumped over their dog. After the first 1,5 km on the run we got out of town and had a turning point at the lighthouse.

Wind basically blew out the transition area 

The water, gels, and bars that we were supposed to get twice on the bike loop and run loop – well, logistics is not really the thing in Italy. At least we got water every loop.

I was really happy that I had decided to carry my own energy and didn’t have problem with dehydration. During the past 3 months I have been trying out Isostar products as I often have stomach problems in races and this was the first time that I could race only on liquids (sports drink and gels) and no bars and feel 100% the whole way.

 

”Small esspresso to go please” 

No drop in energy or heart rate and no pain in stomach. I used their Powertabs the day before the race to load up on electrolytes and the Long Distance Energy drink in the strongest mix – which gives you 79g of carbohydrates in 500ml.

This race was more of a test race and I didn’t pay attention to my overall place or time so I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I won my age group (50-55 this year) and that I placed 13th overall with a time of around 4:32. With some more training and a proper taper the goal to get down to a low 9 hr Ironman might be achievable.   

Really surprised that there were so many current and former professional triathletes in start field even if there was no pro-class or price money.  In many ways the relaxed atmosphere is the beauty of this event and this is what brought many of the international athletes and pros to the race. Everyone I spoke to said that they loved the event for it’s family feeling, crazy organization and complete absence of corporate greed and profit focus. 

Pietro arranges this race because he loves triathlons, I say – Bellisimo, Bravo!

 


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It’s All About The Bike!


When I was racing in the nineties our bikes were quite different from today. Carbon was just starting to come around, but everyone was suspicious and we thought that it was more fragile than the rigid aluminium and iron frames we were riding.

Our bikes back then where stiff as nails in every direction – and as comfortable as sitting on a percussion drill going full throttle. In Speedos… Fortunately, a lot has happened since the nineties with design and materials.

At the time, I was proud to ride a comparatively cheap, heavy ass rig in Hawaii, coming out of the water in 250th place and finishing the bike in 50th place and cheering everyone on (who had nice bikes) with a “nice bike, man!” as I past them. My back often hurt so bad after the bike leg that my run was a disaster.

A few years before I decided to take my “extensive break”, a multiple Canadian Road Champion and Olympian by the name of Gervais Rioux retired from cycling and purchased a small bike shop on St-Laurent street in Montreal, Canada.

Gervais Rioux in action

Like many former cyclists Gervais wanted to stay in the sport he loved and the story could have ended there – in the bike shop. But Gervais had bigger ambitions and by recruiting and developing a great team around himself he freed up time to take on the real challenge – to design and develop the optimal bike – a bike that would have the perfect balance between stiffness, light weight but still be comfortable.

He founded ARGON18. That was a few years back and since then ARGON18 has become one of the fastest growing brands in cycling. ARGON18 now has a team in Tour the France as well as Ironman legends like Craig “Crowie” Alexander as ambassadors in triathlon.

Even with this phenomenal success ARGON18 keeps the small shop feeling with excellent service, customer contact and avoids the anonymity and bureaucracy that typically thrive in large multi-national companies. 

I came in contact with ARGON18 last year when I rode the E-118NEXT. The top time trial/triathlon UCI approved model. It amazed me from the first ride – it was comfort without compromise in stiffness and an extreme responsiveness from the frame. 

Ironman Mallorca 2015 

In 2016 ARGON18 brought out a new series of pure triathlon bikes (non UCI approved).

At first I didn’t really see any reason to upgrade as I was extremely happy with my E-118NEXT that was barely broken in (and still have not gone fast in a race) but there was a couple of things on the new range of bikes that really caught my interest:

  • Simplified adjustment of brakes and easier to use wider rims and tires.
  • Integrated hydration system (I have launched enough bottles into orbit in my career using different bolt on hydration systems to appreciate that a manufacturer takes this seriously….).
  • Triathlon adapted geometry 78°.

How could anyone resist the e-119tri+ ? 

Last week the E-119Tri+ was delivered to Cykloteket and I went in to get it set up by Jonte, who also made the fitting on the E-118Next last year. Every measurement was copied from the previous fitting except an additional centimeter that was reduced in drop to save the lower back a little. 

The bike felt very much like the E-118 on the fitting trainer, as I was not really pushing any gears at the fitting. I did not really get any feeling of power distribution and responsiveness of the frame at this point in time.

Getting set up at Cykloteket by Jonte

The first ride on a home trainer (20” @w-up, 20” @L4, 20” @L3, 20” @c-down) is where the first real positive surprises occurred:

  • I preferred/felt more comfortable in the aero position than the upright position.
  • Power was significant higher at every level without higher heart rate.        

This weekend I took it out for the first time. I headed out for an easy 30km adjustment ride (in +4°, light rain and gravel still on the roads – it’s as much as you want to do on your new triathlon bike outdoors this time of the year). 

I ended up riding 80km and unwillingly returned home with a big smile on my face

Happy as a 10 year old.

I have no clue how this bike can be so different given that it’s from the same manufacturer, with the same measurements, but it’s an amazing difference:

  • Aero position feels like the more comfortable position – which makes no sense and has never happened to me before.
  • My hips feels more open and less restrained so I can produce more power.
  • The seat post angle makes me more “compact” without crunching and reduces the stretch I used to experience to reach aero bars – I have more of a 90° angle between torso and upper arms in the aero position. 
  • Adjustments and fine-tuning was exceptionally easy to make (even for a “all thumbs guy” like me). 

Maybe it’s the one-centimeter reduction in drop – but I doubt that that small change would make such a big difference.  

So far I have only found one disadvantage and that is that you have to remove 3 screws to get to the connection box to charge the Di2 battery – but I can live with that given that you only need to charge the battery once or twice every season.

Now I don’t have time to write more about this amazing bike – have to get on it and train harder than every before. I don’t want to be the guy on the nicest bike getting passed by people in the races yelling “nice bike, man”….

Stay safe on the roads!


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Chuck Norris of Triathlon – Jean Moureau


There is a Swedish saying ”många är kallade men få är utvalda” – roughly it means, ”many hear a calling but few are chosen”. I have had the privilege to meet many of the Legendary Ironman Triathletes over the years who are extremely hard training, talented and dedicated and whom selflessly share their experience and knowledge. Among these top triathletes there is one that is exceptional for so many reasons, one that I see as “a chosen one” – I like to tell you about one of my best friends Jean Moureau, the original “Muscles from Brussels” – the Chuck Norris of Triathlon

Jean defies the stereotype view of the triathlon sport and triathlete in so many aspects and is an inspiration for any athlete – in many ways.  

Body composition:

If we start with the physical aspects – he really doesn’t have a triathlete’s skinny body composition, he doesn’t act as a triathlete measuring everything he does, eats and he has no real background in endurance sports but rather sprint sports (and windsurfing) – but through shear decisiveness, power and passion he managed to raise to the top and to place 8:th over all in Ironman Hawaii twice in his career (1994 & 1996).

Jean was the guy who was always tested for doping as he was built more like Tarzan than a long distance runner. When I asked him if he never tried to loose muscle/weight to get faster on the run leg he said – “why should I, I can still run a 2;57 Marathon in Hawaii – it’s not too bad”.

Before triathlon Jean did some track & field for a few years and had a severe accident on the hurdles, so severe that the whole hamstring was ripped into two pieces. This injury has created a scar in the muscle that is bulging out and shortening the hamstring. This compromises Jean’s running (gate) severely and puts an uneven load on the knees. Once I asked Jean how many Ironman he has done with that injury and he said, “I have no clue how many Ironman races I have done – I know I have done Hawaii eight times, but I never kept count of the total number of Ironman Races I have done”.

Training ethics:

While all other pros worked very little or not at all, Jean always had a full time job as an accountant and managed to work 40hr/week and train close to 40hr/week. Starting to train together with Jean was a hard awakening for me who had trained decent with 10-12hrs per week only to find that my weekly program previous to getting to know Jean was now what I was supposed to do every weekend. I could withstand that for 3 years – Jean had this weekly routine for more than 15 years.

The standard program for every weekend was:

Saturday:

Swim 4,000m

Bike 140-160km

Run 6-10km

Sunday:

Bike 100km Intervals

Run 24-30km (good pace)

Classic Jean Moureau Expressions:

  • “53 -11,12,13 are the gears you use – the rest is for decoration.”

At the Lanzarote Ironman 1997, Jean had some problems with his gears and rode the whole 180km on the big ring and ended up fourth overall. In the TV clips from the race you see Jean standing pushing the big plate in every image he is present in.

  • “The day before a race I only drink one beer, or two”.

Coming from Sweden with a complete different culture with regards to having a beer after training was a positive experience. After most swim sessions we would meet up in the cafeteria and have a few beers before going home or going for a run.   

  • “When I sleep I sleep”.

One year when a whole group of athletes from Europe shared an apartment in Hawaii there was a sick child that cried all night in the apartment just underneath us. We didn’t get any sleep the night before the race – but Jean did.

  • “Stress doesn’t exist, it’s an emotion that we create”.

Jean chose not to get stressed up about anything, anywhere at anytime. He has arrived to race starts without running shoes, water bottles, cycling shoes, etc, etc, just to laugh when he realizes it and solve the issue in one way or the other without loosing his temper or race focus.   

  • “I don’t really train anymore, I only swim 3-4 times per week, run 3 times 15km and ride twice per week with the pro-cycling team at Bouval”.

Retiring from the sport means different things to different people. Jean still trains more than most “elite age-groupers” and I am sure that he would easily do 8:30 again now at the age of 53 – if he would race again. 

  • “I’m the most tested triathlete in Ironman – it doesn’t matter if I am 8th or 15th – they always test me”.

Jean trained and raced clean but has the genetics of a race horse. In the Ironman races they typically always test #1-2 and then pick a random person among the pro’s – and it was always Jean that had to take the random test. 

Jean is an amazing person for the sport in Belgium and is now coaching kids and adults in NATO triathlon club in the evenings and still working full time during daytime as an accountant.

Hopefully, he will come back and race Hawaii one more time in 2023 when he turns 60 and I look forward to, once again, race together and to run in Speedos down Alli Drive speaking German in the week leading up to the race. We need to make sure that the Americans continue to think that it’s the Germans that visually pollute their vacation in Kona – it’s a tradition!

Hang Loose!


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Caught Red Handed – ARGON18 Gallium Pro


After a very positive experiance with the Argon18 E-118 last year I decided not only to upgrade to the new triathlon bike E-119+ this year but also get the Krypton XRoad to be able to put on some fat tires on and ride the rough winter roads.

All this was well planned and the bikes are on their way. Then something not planned happened – I was offereed to buy a Gallium Pro from last year – used only one season by the Scandinavian ARGON18 Team. 

What could I do? – how could I resist? The Gallium Pro arrived today and while unpacking my wife comes home for lunch (which I did not expect) and finds me in the bedroom unpacking.

Oopss…. How do I explain that there are two more on the way and that you really need to have three bikes (at least). 

Anyone needs a Pinarello Dogma 60.1 only 5 years old? It’s a great bike – don’t get me wrong, but after trying out ARGON18 I really don’t need other bikes. Or perhaps I should keep it as a spare…at the country house….just in case…. 

Some keep their bikes in the basement, some on the street – I like to keep them close and safe (thank you AnnCatrine for being a understanding wife 😉

Happy riding and remember that there is always room for one more Argon18!

// The bike collector


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Road Rage


I actually enjoy many aspects of getting older. One is that I don’t get so upset anymore.

There is a cyclists saying; “there are only two types of cyclists, those who have crashed and those who will crash”. As I have spent between 2,500 – 15,000km/year on a road bike for the past+30years and have had more crashes than I can remember.

Over the years I have broken my arm, ribs and face – not to mention the numerous hip and elbow trophies I have received over the years. I have experienced a nurse waking me up on the operation table by brushing my face clean from asphalt with a steel brush.

I have flown over a car, throw myself on the street under a car to avoid a direct hit, flown into a car after breaking the window and neck-rest and landed in the back seat with my face (by this time helmets where fortunately invented and probably saved my life). I have slided over the hood of a car in Florida, like in a commercial, without a scratch and had the driver come out to offer me a check as compensation for cutting me off – driving into his golf course.

Due to my waste experience in accidents Im now quite good at avoid them. I use bike paths whenever possible (if they are at all possible to ride on which often is not the case this time of year), I never ride in big packs that take up the whole road. I ride as close to the curb as possible. 

But still – I frequently get di** heads that pass by with a 5-10cm distance between their BMW and my bike at 90km/hr. I hardly react anymore. As long as they don’t slow me down or hit me I typically just give them the usual “birdy” and if I catch up with them at an intersection further on ask them if they noticed that they failed to knock me of the road. Often they then claim that they did not see me…. Most of my rides are out on the countryside with very little traffic so I guess they are napping at the wheel.

Every now and then I get one of those Senior Citizens that thinks his responsibility (it’s always a he) in the world to enforce the law (the law that he believes in) in a way he see fitting (often by using his car as a tool for law enforcement). 

Yesterday it happened again. I was riding out on the countryside on Ekerö, along Stemhamravägen. The section I was riding is restricted to 30km/hr as it passes by a school. With very little traffic and no vehicles oncoming this Jaguar passes me, breaking the speed limit as I was going 30, only to immediately slow down and turn to the right in front of me – only there is no road – the idiot is just cutting me off so I have to stop or ride into the side of the car. I stop and he drives off again. But the guy is obviously not that bright. There is a long stretch of 30 coming up so I bike up beside his window and ask what the hell he is doing. He informs me that cyclists should use the bike path (the one that is covered in gravel as they are re-building it….). He tries to speed off again. 

I follow him into a parking lot in Stenhamra. When the old fart finally steps out of the car I feel so sorry for him, what a shitty life this old man must have. Running around and trying to push people of their bikes in the middle of the day. 

I ask him what he thinks gives him the right to use his car as a weapon to hurt people who he thinks are not allowed on the road. He responds that he didn’t and that “he didn’t see me”. I ask him how he could miss me – dressed in bright yellow – driving in the middle of the day, passing a school at 30km/hr.

He walks away saying – ”go bike on the 30km/hr road and make sure not to fall down”.

I tell him that there is a high likelihood that one of us will end up in hospital if a similar scenario where to present itself again. 

Once I got home I call the police and reported the guy. It’s unlikely that anything will happen but hopefully they will at least contact him and he might think twice before trying to run someone of the road again. I am so used to being disrespected in traffic that I am always ready – but there are many that are just starting to ride bikes.

So what can we do to get a better harmony in the traffic between cyclists and cars, I don’t think it’s violence (even if it is tempting to give a guy like this ”a good uppercut to the crouch”). 

Here are the things that I try to do in my day to day ”trying to avoud another bike crash”:

– Don’t race and try to set “Strava KOM” in the city and on cyclepaths that are busy with kids, crossings, runners etc. It just pisses people off and it’s like asking for hate and accidents.

– Obey traffic rules (at least when there are people around).

– Show gratitude when someone stops for you at a crossing – spread some love 😉

– Ride like every car will most likely try to run you down/off the road at any second – be ready to jump into what ever is on the side of the road.

– Never assume that the driver of the car that is standing still at a stop sign (while you are coming down the main road) sees you, even if you are staring the person right into the eyes it is very possible that those eyes have no real connectivity to the brain or that the brain has no capacity to process the image of a cyclist. Many drivers assumes that cyclists only travel at a speed of 12km/hr not 35-40km/hr and they think they have plenty of time to drive straight out in front of you and creating a perfect launchpad for you. 

– In packs – ride single file if there is traffic.

The driver of the Jaguar is more of a fundamentaist I guess…

If you witnessed the incident or know someone that did please drop me a line with your contact details so the police can get in contact.

Stay safe and ride carefully!

PS. Share this article with as many as you can and wish!!

 

 


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Comparatively thinking or YOLO


This time of the year I’m sure that I’m not alone when I feel just a little bit of jealousy looking at the images Swedish pro athletes are posting on social media.

Training camps from around the world. Sara Sjöström and National Swim team in Florida. Patrik Nilsson, Åsa Lundström, David Näsvik @ Playitas, Lisa Nordén in South Africa and, not to be forgotten, Fredric Croneborg – who manages to have fun in the sun all year round.

And here we are, the age groupers, working 9-5, getting home to the mental and physical darkness of winter and our indoor trainers. We know that we are most likely 3 month away from frequent quality outdoor cycling.

On social medias everyone who’s stuck in the icebox (Sweden this time of the year) are posting pictures of their self-inflicted misery. I don’t know how many hundred photos of people on trainers I have seen over the past 2 months – my eyes hurt.

Running is not much better as we use uncomfortable spike shoes that feel like ski-boots or run on the indoor treadmill like a hamster in a wheel.

But to all of you who think it can’t get any worse – I bring words of hope, words of comfort! It’s all comparatively! Depending on what you compare with you can decide that you are either miserable or really fortunate.

If you compare with the pros, you will most likely feel the kind of envy that only the Grinch who stole Christmas can feel – you will stand on your mountain of pain and look at them pros riding in the sun, swim in outdoor pools and run on perfect trails in Stellenbosch. Week after week they can train and not have to worry about a thing (except the fact that they one day will be a grumpy 50 year old grinch as well). But they don’t worry about that – yet!

But if you compare yourself with the average sedentary Joe Schmoe, you are a hero. To even get on a trainer after work takes determination. To get out on your +25km run in <10° bellow zero takes guts. Not to mention the glory you feel when you bring out the good old chainsaw and cut up your 50m lane in the icy lake to get your 4,000 meters swim done as the pool was closed (or is that something only I do?).           

You can also compare yourself to the less fortunate athletes who are injured and can’t train, the ones who have lost their motivation and can’t find it among the mountains of excuses. Or the athletes that are trying to train, while being forced to live like our great grandparents did 100 years ago – yes, that would be me – they are still not finished with the re-plumbing of our apartment building.

Enjoy what you have – even if the hours available to train are too few and you have to do them on the indoor torture station. Once spring is here you will realize that the indoor trainer is actually a really effective tool to get fast and strong.

PS: When I wrote this a few weeks ago and read it, I got so fed up with the re-plumbing and lack of biking outdoors that I flew to Gran Canaria and got 10 days in the hills together with the TriMaster. As my son says “YOLO”.

Start of the beautiful climb to Soria  

I have to say that having the discipline to spend close to 10 hours/week on the trainer in January really paid off and I felt stronger in the hills than I have ever done before, guess that discipline is not something you loose with age but rather the opposite. Don’t give up!

Cazadores @ 1,300meters – a good 100km 2,500m elevation ride to start the camp with.

Gran Canaria is spectacular with regards to biking and I found that it has much more interesting cycling than the other Canary islands like Lanzarote and Fuerteventura – perhaps that is why Thomas Hellriegel likes to train in GC. In a few years it will be as popular as Mallorca, I am sure, at least for those of us who love climbing.

Road up to Soria @ 650meters – continues to Bartolome @ 1,100meters

Close to Agaete on the North west side of the island.

Climb to St. Lucia 

Hope that you appreciate the beautiful nature on the pictures as much as I do – I find that we have all seen enough selfies and ”ass on bike/trainer shots” for a lifetime so I am not sharing those here 😉

Happy Training!


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When the going get tough – get your training done.


February and we are months away from training in decent weather.

For me February is typically the month when motivation can be hard to find some days.

For the past months, motivation and peace of (training) mind has been challenged to a whole new level as our apartment building is in the midst of a never ending re-plumbing. 

Shower? Perhaps this summer….

Things we triathletes have rather frequent use of, and take for granted, like indoor running water, toilet, shower. All those facilities have been moved to a trailer on the street 3 floors down since October 2015. The builder was contracted to be done in 6-8 weeks and it has now reached 16 weeks – without anything being close to finished or usable. They kept the timeplan with regard to demolition – they wrecked the appartment according to plan. They just never got around to rebuilding it.   

So what can you do when things feel difficult and all you want to do is something else than trying to find your training gear in the middle of a construction site – that shows no sign of being completed anytime before the summer?

 Nice set-up…Get up on it!

I guess simply; quiet my thoughts, try to find my gear, do my session according to plan.

15-20min into the training the frustration has evaporated, heart rate is back at a comfortable pace and I remember what I always used to say, “life starts at 140bpm”. 

”Patience – the breakfast of champions” (as nothing can be cooked in this mess!)


Ohh Well – Happy camping!



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Doping


Everyone who read the story of how the Danish Lawaetz Brothers managed to not only qualify for Kona, but how three of them even broke 9 hours on the Ironman distance in their first attempt – training only 9-10hours per week could suspect there was some fishy going on. Later we would find out that one of the brothers (Thomas) was caught in a doping test and banned for four years.

It’s easy to get upset about this, I know as I got extremely upset! I am not alone thinking that anyone cheating and using EPO should be banned for life, not only four years!!!

Doping is a real problem and no matter how much testing increases – it will always be people who decides that results and vanity is more important that honesty and values.

In an interview with Slow Twitch, Alex Taubers (German former Pro-triathlete) talks about the problem: ”Whoever thinks that doping is only part of the elite world likely also believes in Santa Clause. A study conducted at Ironman Frankfurt and 70.3 Wiesbaden a few years ago showed that 1/3 of those age group athletes questioned admitted (anonymously) to have doped. But one has to think that it was and currently is likely more”. 

But who are the biggest losers? Is it us – who are clean, who prioritize training, who makes the necessary “sacrifices” to be able to train three or four times more than the likes of the now infamous cheater Thomas Lawaetz, CEO at Åreknudeklinikkerne.

From a pure mathematical standpoint we are the loosers. We spend more time training and typically don’t get the result that dope heads get.

From an ethical/legal standpoint dopers are losers, as it’s wrong and forbidden to cheat and from a philosophical standpoint I would argue that it’s much worse than breaking laws – cheating requires you to compromising values and standards and often comes back and bites you in the ass.

 

Cheating or not cheating is a choice that every individual has. It’s up to each and every one to set the standards we whish to aspire to in life. The choice defines us and we will live with it for the rest of our lives.

We all have a choice to take the high road and avoid any kind of cheating – even if it compromises our results, for example doing intervals in races to get away from packs and carefully examining what we put in our bodies.

Or we can take the low road and claim, “it’s impossible to avoid packs, everyone else does it”, ”I didn’t know that what I took was on the doping list” or ”my doctor injected EPO, gave me growth hormones and topped me up with a few pints of my best shape blood – how could I know – I was asleep”. 

Bottom line is that if we decide to apply the highest requirements on our self – to always practice good sportsmanship and be honest – we will have the benefit of looking ourselves in the mirror, every day for the rest of our life, knowing that we have made our self the best we could be.  

Once we realize that our ambitions to test our limits in triathlons are not about projecting an image of ourselves to the outside world and refuse to get absorbed in vanity, ”likes” addiction and external approvals – and rather see racing and training as a step in our personal development journey, to further build our characters. Then there will be no need for drug-testing or even draft Marshalls.

 

I realize that this sounds like Utopia and moral preaching – but it’s really that simple – it’s up to each of us to make the choice. The desire to qualify for Hawaii or win will bring out the best and worst in people – we will always have temptations and we will always have the opportunity to chose right from wrong.

Personally, doping was a big reason I retired from racing Ironman triathlons in 1998.

After racing Hawaii quite well in 1997, finishing 74;th overall, several people that was ahead of me got caught for doping and I realized that to get to top 50 or 20 would be impossible if I would not go down the path of cheating and doping.

I had trained with a few of those who got caught. They were extremely good athletes with high training discipline and lots of talent but what really set us apart was their phenomenal recovery. After the really hard days I would need an easier recovery day to absorb and rebuild while they did another hard day, and another. Apparently, the kind of recovery you get when you take growth hormones. 

Before I knew that they were using – It made me think I was weak and I started training even harder. It did not work – I trained so hard that I became anemic. Even if I was eating perfectly, my body could not handle the training load and I ended up in hospital.

I was put on in a room with cancer patients who also had their arms connected to a plastic bag above their head. The doctor gave me iron-infusion (IV) and B12 injections – which is the way they treat someone with close to no red bloodcells left in the blood stream.

Fortunately I responded well to the iron-infusion and slowly recovered. Meanwhile I learned about the unfair advantages that my oppnents had taken, it threw me off, I lost my motivation and I decided to take a long break from racing. I realized that I was already training harder than my body could handle and could only get to top 100 in the world – clean. Getting on drugs to boost performance was always out of the question for me – I had reached my top level as a clean athlete. 

The break lasted 18 years and when I now re-start – I do it purely for pleasure and to enrich life – the way the sport was intended. Now I focus on appreciating the motion, the mental challenge and finally – the test and proof of character in racing. It’s sad to know that many people in the races will be faster by doping and cheating but I chose to not let it affect me, knowing that I can look myself in the mirror every day and say, “I’m clean”.  

Stay clean and happy!


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The optimal challenge – Inspire your kids to train with you!


Both my wife and I are dedicated endurance athletes. She used to run marathons but has recently started to focus on half marathons instead as she can do more of them per year.

With both parents running (and one of us swimming and biking as well) you would think that our kids would be interested in participating in at least one of the sports  – but that is not the case (yet!).

Growing up I tried a lot of different sports before I finally got hooked on triathlon at the age of 26. We are trying to provide the same opportunity to find a sport for our kids and encourage them to try as many sports as they like to hopefully one day find a sport they love and stay active in all their life. 

It would be great if they found a liking for triathlon but it seems that it’s currently not progressing in that direction. Every once in a while I ask my daughter if she doesn’t want to become fast like Lisa Nordén, but she points out that she is only 9 and would like to think further about such important decisions before committing.

Anyway – I have actually managed to get my son to run with me and it’s really a great way to spend time together with your children. 

First try at the age of three:

We had a blazing start down the hill towards Rålambshovsparken in Stockholm and probably did the first 500 meters in 4 minutes. Once we got to the water and he saw the swans and ducks swimming, he lost focus and rather wanted to feed them than run. What kind of behavior is that for a future Ironman World Champion? – I must say that I got deeply concerned! 

Second attempt at the age of eleven:

Version 2

I was doing a easy 15km recovery and my son came along for 7km. Amazed at how easy it was for him to run a 7km I remembered when I was a kid and had to run with my dad. I thought I was going to die and didn’t run again until I had to in the army. It was different back then.

During the Christmas holidays I managed to get my daughter to come for a swim and as it went really well – she is a natural talent – I suggested that she starts practicing with SPIF. She was not too eager to try that….

My son now comes along for a 7-8km run every week and enjoys it but if given a choice of playing Star Wars Battlefront and running with dad, well I will not even try answering that question.

I can really recommend taking your kids with you on some easy sessions and perhaps they will be inspired and become the next Lisa Nordén or Patrik Nilsson – either way – if they keep it up they will eventually beat you severly at your game and I really look forward to that day.

Enjoy spending quality time with your kids!

    


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WonderWool


”On the 8th day God made the Merino sheep”. Seriously – I have no idea how the hell I was able to spend any time what so ever in weather conditions under 0° without this material.

It finally got cold in Stockholm and when the mercury is showing -14° at least I have parked the bike on a trainer. It was a fantastic November and December and most weeks I was able to get around 200km of the weekly 300km outdoors, which is very unusual for Sweden this time of the year. I know, it’s far from the 500km/week that any serious triathlete should aim for – but hey, I’m old – give me a break – I might catch pneumonia…

Yesterday I went out for a nice crispy 16km trail run in -14° on the trails of Rindö. It’s always interesting to run trails in the snow as you have no idea what you will land on. I find that this makes you ”responsive and light on the feet” – even after all the fatty Christmas food when you feel like the reason you did not see Santa is probably because you ate him – in your sleep – as you where so used to chewing….

We spent Christmas at our cottage on Rindö and it so happens that this is the place which was the home to the Swedish special forces group called ”Coast Rangers” and my home for a year back in the day of 1985-1986.

When I was out there running I remember how we suffered and used to freeze our butts off during the winter and how we even bought our own high tech synthetic underwear to replace the army standard cotton and try to keep a little warmer.

I hated the cold so much after those years that I made it a life goal not to live anywhere near snow for the rest of my life. That worked well for 15 years, during which I met my wife, had kids and then had to decide where to bring them up. Like so many other Swedish ex-pats, we chose to come home and in 2009 we moved back from Sydney, Australia.

Feeling like Rocky Balboa in Russia, I had to adapt and put on long tights again, freeze my bony ass off and suffer, but then I found God – sorry, MERINO WOOL.

Man (and woman), it really changed my attitude towards winter training! If you have not tried it and are still using synthetic stuff – you have to try, it’s unbelievable.

Here are the main benefits:

1. It adjusts to your body temperature – possible to use in warm as well as cold weather.

2. Dries up in no time.

3. Keeps you warm even when wet (just like high tech synthetics – but without the side effect, see 4.

4. As wool is a natural material that has evolved over millions of years rather than invented in a lab 25 years ago, it doesn’t have all the side effects that lab experiments have – like the smell you get (and can’t remove) on synthetics. If you’re like me and train 2-3 sessions a day and don’t have the luxury of a Personal Butler who makes you protein drink and washes your training cloths – you need wool. I can easily do 10-15 sessions in the same shirt without washing and there is no smell. The only reason I wash it is because it’s getting too salty and instead of folding it I can just lean it against the wall… which is getting boarder line creepy…. even for me.

5. Merino Wool doesn’t itch at all – not even after 10 sessions without wash… I have tried…. – It’s noting like the crap we used in the army (the ”1948” uniform that that smelled ass – WITHOUT EVEN USING IT!)

Don’t care about the weather – just get the right gear and enjoy!


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Improve or ignore swimming?


A few weeks back I went to a swim camp with my club SPIF Triathlon. It was really a great set up with two extremely knowledgeable swim coaches and a great program with lots of technic as well as some really hard sets. I really learned a lot!

 

”Who wants to be fast in the water?” 

Some triathletes think that I have a past as a swimmer – but any real swimmer would see in 5 seconds that I am just a triathlete trying to stay alive in the water.

My background is not in swimming it’s rather in skiing, skateboarding, martial arts, rock climbing and windsurfing. When I decided to start with triathlon at the age of 26 I joined a local swim group to learn to swim freestyle and was lucky to meet a coach that got me to learn the right technic first – even if I could only swim 25 meters at the time. To this day I never do a swim session without working on technic and I think the importance of always further developing and marinating technic is the main difference with biking and running. Sure, you need good technic in those sports too – but I think everyone knows what I mean and we have all seen people with a pretty dodgy running technic pull off a <35min 10k but I am sure that no-one has seen a swimmer with poor water position and bad efficiency do a <18min 1500m.  

My experience is that if you have a decent technic you can very easily do the 3,860m in 50-55min without to much effort. If you don’t have it – you can work your little heart out and finish the swim in >70min.

Swimming requires much more thinking and focus than running and biking and many triathletes I have seen who have a tendency to “just go hard” have real difficulties getting under an hour in the ironman distance swim. As a consequence they lose patience and start going around justifying that “the swim is so small part of the race and it would take so much time to get faster that I rather spend the time on bike and run training”. It’s easy to favor the sports that are more fun (the ones that you are better at).

Here are a few reasons I think it’s important to get the swimming right:

  1. If you are effective in the water you will not only gain 10-15 minutes – you will also get out of the water without to much fatigue.
  2. If you are fast in the swim you will get out with faster people and not having to pass so many as if you have a big difference in bike speed compared to your swimming – you will not have to do hundreds of intervals to follow the drafting regulations.
  3. You can practice and improve your oxygen uptake when you practice 3-5-7-9 breathing – something that you will have advantage of in all three sports. (can also be practiced running or biking but I find that using duct tape over your month is less practical than simply reducing your alternate breathing rhythm in the pool…) 
  4. It’s more fun to be decent at all the tree sports that comprice a triathlon than to really dread (suck at) one of them.

Some advice:

  1. Get a swim coach to work with you – there are many really good ones nowadays and just a few sessions can have big impact if you listen and continue with the drills to improve your technic.
  2. Join a club who has a swim coach and ask for advice on your technic – focus on one improvement at the time, get it right and move to next improvement.
  3. Add a few extra sessions of swimming per week as recovery training. Those sessions are purely pleasure and you should only work on drills and the other strokes than freestyle – to get more comfortable in the water. I find that swimming, as a recovery session, is much better than complete rest.
  4. Get working on your ankle flexibility – most of us who run and bike a lot have ankles that don’t extend much more than 90°…. Get them to 180° and you will reduce substantial amount of drag.

Good luck and swim smooth!