Not one that was completely planned and meant to be on the race calender this year was Tewskbury Sprint. I only got told about it in the week and got a phone call on the saturday to say if I wanted to race they had a slot for me! I of course said "yes please". Having got into such a regular pattern of racing every weekend its been weird not racing! 

What was most pleasing for me, that my dad who is a big inspiration to me was putting himself on the race line after not racing for three years due to injury. The man was back. Without him I wouldn't of even give the sport a go, so was great to have him as a competitor. 

Another strong swim for me and a great T1, probably one of the best of the year put me out second on the bike and chasing hard. I knew the man who was out in 3rd, would probably go on to win the race so i knuckled down and started to work hard. He come up alongside me and past me and I was then dteermined after dropping back 7 metres to go no further. This tactic worked really well for me and we caught up with first. However they knew each other very well and sadly started to work together (naughty boys!) and left me behind. The bike itself ended up being 3.5 miles longer than the 12 miles stated, however I really enjoyed the longer ride and felt strong throughout. I come into transition 3rd and despite my number falling off and running back for it, still had a great T2. Out on to the run I just wanted to keep things smooth. I know I'm starting to get some more consistent running in and I just said to myself keep it smooth and don't loose third; and that is what I did. Across the 3 laps I didn't really settle down but I kept hold my my 3rd place overall and 1st in Junior along with a morale victory out on the bike. It was a good day after a long hard week of training. 

Very importantly also, my dad finsihed and felt great. So hopefully he has the bug back again, was great to see him out there. Also alongside him two of my sponsors Kev (swindon injury clinic) and Liam (Run swindon) had a good battle against each other, Liam taking the victory and looking very good in pink. 

The race was really great and it's filled me with more confidence that things are heading in the right direction. 

Ciaran 
 
 
A very wet, windy and not brilliant evening was what I was viewing for my small warm up races at the lake this wenesday evening. 

I left early and had a good long warm up, due to starting a new strength and conditioning session the day before I was feeling every muscle in my legs and lower back. I went straight to the front for the swim once again and went hard, the water was choppy and the course longer than normal, so a slower time but a good swim. I felt good through T1 and felt immediatly good on the run (something that I havent felt in a long time). The times don't suggest that I ran any better but i felt smooth and strong and got pipped at the end for 1st place as I just couldn't pick up my cadence towards the end. 

A good result however alongside some very hard training.

Ciaran 
 
 
Compression Garments are something that is starting to become a must have in and around triathlon.  Compression garments have become increasingly popular amongst athletes with suppliers claiming enhancements in recovery and performance. Some people are convinced of the benefits, others very precarious, and some completely against how they could help enhance performance. However I am now simply going to talk about the claimed benefits of compression garments, their popularity, some science and studies and then leave it up to you to decide in the poll at the bottom.

With many manufactures now offering compression garments for all of the body, with ranging costs up to around £100 depending on how much of the body you buy for and the brand. It is therefore important to understand what they are meant to do. 

Suggested benefits of compression garments based on current research findings, listed below are potential areas where an advantage may be gained through the use of compression garments:
  • enhancing blood circulation to peripheral limbs
  • reducing blood lactate concentration during maximal exercise
  • enhancing warm-up via increases in skin temperature
  • improving repetitive jump power
  • reducing muscle oscillation upon ground contact
  • increasing torque generated about joints, improving performance and reducing the risk of injury, e.g. assisting the eccentric action of the hamstring at the end of the swing phase in running
  • enhancing recovery following strenuous exercise by aiding in the removal of blood lactate and improving subsequent exercise performance
  • reducing the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness in the days following strenuous exercise
  • increasing feelings of positive leg sensations both during and following strenuous exercise.


A 2009 study in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found compression stockings improved running performance at sub maximal intensities in moderately trained male runners. And a 2008 study on lower-body compression garments on cyclists in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance reported increased power output and enhanced muscle oxygenation efficiency during shorter-duration cycling tests in well-trained male cyclists, but the same study found no performance gains in a one-hour time trial. In two studies of 10K time trial runs and 40-minute submax runs, the researchers in the 2007 Journal of Sports Science study measured many variables but showed only recovery benefits—no gains in performance. The evidence therefore is inconclusive, due to the nature of the product being fairly new to the market of sport; despite being used medically for around 60 years to help with venous return. 

Many however suggest it is more down to a placebo effect on the mind and therefore this is why we see this heavy trend in people wondering around in compressions garments. Not even all pro triathletes are convinced, however once again due to the nature of compression garments in sport being a fairly new phenomenon the evidence is not concrete either way and we will have to wait for more research to be done to make more significant claims either way. 

In conclusion, according to the literature, compression garments may offer several ergogenic benefits for athletes across many sporting backgrounds. In particular, some studies have reported that compression garments can improve muscular power, strength, enhance recovery following intense exercise and improve proprioception. However, caution should be taken when choosing the correct compression garment for your sport and ensuring the garment provides enough pressure to promote venous return. There currently is no right or wrong answer to whether to where compression garments or not. Some athletes now will not compete without them. It is once again down to personal opinion and giving it a go! 

Ciaran

Please leave you opinion using the poll or/

Further reading and citing:
http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2011/07/01/does-compression-clothing-really-work
 
 
It was a race in many ways that summed up my season. A constant learning experience at that higher end of competition, but me giving nothing but 100%. Iv'e always felt strong when competing in aquathlons; against anyone. I knew like the whole of my season I haven't been in the best run shape, due to niggles with my calf. But lately I have felt as though iv'e made improvements with my gate, and also been able to up my running sessions so things are starting to head in the right direction. 

The swim I felt strong but still lacking some experience where to place myself, within such a good field. I feel I should always be a front pack swimmer but getting caught within the mass makes it a hard job to swim properly. However I come out of the swim reasonably well and with a good group. The run was a lightning pace, I progressed and felt massively better on my second lap and defiantly starting to feel I can run again. However against the winner i'm about two minutes down on the run which has been a big problem and defiantly shows how much iv'e struggled with my running sessions and the subsequent problems that has had on my race performances. Losing most places and time on the run shows how I need to focus next year on making improvements on my gate so that I stay injury free and can really focus on getting the milage in on the run sessions. 

But antoher great experience and 20th in Britain I have to be happy with. Its minimal margains and this year has shown me, even though it may be my first year with hard work and consistency through the winter and in to next season I beleive I can get some big performances and good results next year. 

The year is near it's end, one serious race to go with two small aqauthlons to keep me fresh in between. Looking forward to a rest after a few hard weeks into Bala. 

Ciaran
 
 
Wow.. What a shoe. 

The Saucony Kinvara 4 is the latest version of the honourable minimalist trainer. It provides a few tweaks to the model which many attribute to the boom of late in this Saucony range. The newest version of the Kinvara is more evolution than revolution, it carries the same design aspect and looks very similar however the shoe itself has been tweeked. 

All told, the Kinvara 4 provides an excellent running experience simply by joining the best parts of the previous models together. The Kinvara 4 provides a well-received and focused minimalist shoe for both newcomers and initiated alike. It is aimed at fast runners and It looks more of a race day shoe, however due to great work done with the stability of the shoe and cushioning it is the perfect training and race day. There has been work done on the heel area, so people who heel strike and are looking for a lighter weight shoe this could be for you. The latest version looks like an amalgamation of the previous models, showing a certain maturity with subtle changes rather than flashy alterations.

I will start firstly with it's colour because that's what really makes it stand out from the start. It is available in 7 colour ranges per gender (14 in total). All are great, some are more subtle than others so just depends how much you want to stand out from the crowd! This design aspect really allows people to enjoy what they are running in!

Getting down into the more technical stuff.. this shoe is really impressive. Saucony as a brand I really rate. I nearly went off them, but that was my fault due to picking the wrong shoe for me, this is why it is so important to get yourself gait analysed and really talk to an expert (If your local, Go to Run Swindon!). 

It is a very lightweight shoe 6.7 oz./ 190gm (size 8). This continues the lightweight performance of the shoe from the previous models but remains very responsive and stable. The drop from heel to forefoot is 4mm. This is great for the lighter/faster runner who impacts the ground less and doesn't need the added cushioning. The lightweight feel of the shoe makes it feel like you don't have them even on.

The upgrade from ProGrid to PowerGrid in the heel landing zone for even smoother transitions is great for heel strikers looking for a light weight shoe, it also adds to an improved overall ride (PowerGrid is a lighter yet more durable compound than ProGrid). In addition they have redesigned the upper continuing to utilize FlexFilm for a lightweight, natural feel in the forefoot and toebox area which allows for some great breathing space for your feet, but at the same time increases the stability in the fore foot area. This for me is what makes it a fantastic shoe, the cushioning from the gel pads in the front of the shoe provides great cushioning and bounce for forefoot runners. The outsole features the triangular lug design which adds the the great stability and durability of the shoe. A frequent complaint with the Kinvara 3 was achilles irritation, the lower heel will now hopefully stop the irritation found from the Kinvara 3. 

Saucony have done a perfect job with this shoe.. They really applied the "What isn't broke don't fix it" to most of the shoe and were able to alter some things to enhance the performance of the shoe.  This is a perfect high-milage low weight shoe for efficient runners which will respond really well under foot during training or racing.

Thank you Run Swindon for letting me run in this shoe!
 
 
Really pleased to be able to announce my link with Run Swindon for the up and coming season. 
After first being introduced to Liam at run Swindon, I was amazed at the knowledge and detail he went too. I'm really happy to have him on board for the next year. He will provide great support with my running. 

For specialist gait analysis and running information this is the place to go! 
Www.runswindon.co.uk

Ciaran 
 
 
After the London race it was always my intention to then sit down and plan the end of the season. I deemed it would be a good opportunity to see how far I had come, and then also decide how I would like to challenge myself in the last month or so of the season before going on a small break before winter training. Having already race 13 or so times this year it has been an action packed year and a tough balancing act to go into races in good shape, but also not have to much time off tapering and recovering. I would be the first to say that I hadn't got the hang of recovering well at the start of the year and I would hit good blocks of training, but then become ill. 

After my London result however me and Andy decided that the year had been a success and we got out of it so far what we wanted which was experience. Having already booked the British aqauthlon champs in two weeks I had that in my calendar. There are also two more smaller aqauthlon events at the lake that have served as great practice so far so I am in them. 

The decision was then made that to finish the year by getting an Olympic distance race under my belt, as this would be a great end of season. Bala standard distance was chosen for the 8th September. It will be sure to be a great race, I'm looking forward to doing something slightly longer as I believe it will suit me more. Hopefully as well despite it being my first one I will hit a good time, as I have set my sights on some tough target times (fingers crossed). 

Once that is complete the plan will be to rest up for a while (undecided on how long). Before then hitting my winter training programme,


 
 
After a few years do running predominantly in Adidas trainers (never a problem) I opted for a bit of a change. Not sure change is always the best thing to advise.. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rings a bell. However sometimes change can be good and the only way to see whats best is to experiment. 

I opted to try zoot tempo 5.0 running shoes. 
"This shoe was designed for the athlete who needs a stability running shoe and wants a triathlon specific race day shoe" (Zoot). That is the aim of the shoe and I really think it meets those points to perfection. 

The Zoot ULTRA Tempo+ uses Zoot's unique Barefoot technology which incorporates a seam-free liner withint the shoe. There is no seam from a tongue or any stitching. The shoe is specifically designed for triathlon race day without socks. This allows for super fast transitions which I have found are so important over the shorter distances. An innovative sole system used in military boots for amphibious operations (OTB Boots- Google it) also features a series of drainage holes in the insole and sole of the shoe. These holes prevent the shoe from getting water logged when athlete pour cups over their head in a hot race while running through aid stations. When in a triathlon its important your feet can get dry without you having to waste time doing it, these shoes allow for that brilliantly. What's also great is whether your racing on the road or trails the shoe can easily adapt in any weather.

Additionally, the Zoot ULTRA Tempo+ uses an integrated stretch lace closure system to facilitate quick donning of the shoes in transition. This system you wont see on any other running shoe and it really allows this shoe to be a market leader in this field. Its best selling point is probably its ability to be a fast race shoe in transition whilst providing great comfort on the run. Stability is accomplished partially through the use of a "roll cage" carbon fiber insert in the mid sole call the "Carbon Span" along with a conventional dual density, multi durometer midsole that uses varying hardness of shock-absorptive materials to provide a balance of cushioning and roll and lateral stability. The geometry of the shoe (sole thickness and wedge) are designed with what Zoot calls the "Tri-O-Mechanics" that are said to promote a more forward-than-heel foot interaction with the ground. 

These shoes are great for 5k all the way up to a marathon for a quick runner. It is suggested that anyone doing sub 1:30 for a half marathon or 2:45 for a full marathon then these trainers would be suitable. The lightweight nature of the shoe (275g) allows for a fast and light pair of shoes to be on your feet, however they provide great support and cushioning in the right areas for the forefoot athlete. It would be okay for someone to heel strike in these however, I don'k think they would last very long nor is the shoe aimed to support that. 

Aesthetically the shoes looks brilliant, the bright colours are great and the rest of the shoe looks brilliant. Just be looking at the shoe as a triathlete you can see, the time spent on designing the shoe to meet the demands of transition in the fastest possibly manner. 

The only negative point is when the shoe first come out it retailed over £100 however some good looking around you can probably get the shoe for about £60 now. 

Verdict:
Zoot's whole aim was to create a running shoe that was specific for racing whilst providing stability. There really have done that in abundance here! There a perfect race day shoe and also great for training in too. I wouldn't recommend doing all of your training in them however they will last a good 300-500 miles for a light framed athlete. The shoe is great for the neutral runner.