Friday, November 29, 2013


I am incredibly honoured to announce a new partnership for 2014 - none other than the amazing Vanderkitten!

I applied on a whim to their Vanderkitten VIP program because they're a company I can totally get behind - I actually already own a couple of pieces of their kit! I bought them back in August partly because 10% of sales from their store go to support Vanderkitten Athletics - which sponsors a full pro women's cycling team plus some female motorsports drivers and a few other kickass female athletes - but also because I absolutely love their mascot! Her name is Ophelia, and this is one kitten with some teeth!

This mission statement for the VIP program is everything that women in sport really need:

"Vanderkitten is committed to sharing stories of everyday women achieving extraordinary things. In 2013 we created the Vanderkitten VIP program to highlight the stories of inspirational women from around the globe who embodied the Vanderkitten spirit. 

Vanderkitten VIP's act as ambassadors & role models in their chosen sport, creating an athletic community among members in their region and worldwide, and sharing stories of success- from podiums to simply overcoming obstacles in life through fitness & outdoor pursuits. Vanderkitten VIP's receive VIP pricing on Vanderkitten items, access to sponsor "Pro Deals" & an events calendar where Vanderkittens can get together and achieve.

In turn we share your experiences & stories with a worldwide audience, encouraging and inspiring more people to lead active, healthy lifestyles."

Their motto says it all: "Clothing for Women Who Kick Ass!"

I'm so proud to have been chosen to join such an incredible crew of kickass athletes from around the globe, and will do my best to do them proud by encouraging women (and men!) of all shapes, sizes and abilities to find their joy in active living and the rewards of sport. In the meantime, while the temperatures have dropped and the snow has begun to fall, the work has begun to ensure that 2014 will be a season of speed, strength and great adventures!

Leading by example is always the best way, and after all - you can't kick ass without strong legs!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Seems Like Science: Remove your excuses

In almost every race, we're forced to bargain with ourselves. If you're racing at an intensity that's appropriate for the distance, you'll eventually hit a point where you'll have to argue with your body about slowing down while it's presenting some pretty solid reasons for doing so. One of the biggest keys to racing success will be your ability to remove the excuses your body will try to give you, so let's review a few of the ways you can prepare yourself to keep on pushing.

We've all been there.


This seems stupidly obvious, but it's worth mentioning. Every single workout you do is one more drop in the bucket of water you can throw on your body's lame-ass demands to slow down, stop and just curl up for a nap in the middle of the race course. The harder the workout, the closer you get to blowing yourself up to squeeze out one last interval, the stronger your voice will be able to shout LALALALALALANOTLISTENING when your legs are screaming at you that they've had enough and it's Miller time.

I don't think it'll be a big seller.

Tailoring your training to your chosen races will produce the best results. If you're going to be racing in Hawaii, doing all of your training in mild temperatures is going to leave you gasping. Similarly, if your race is a cross-country course with hills akimbo, running exclusively on the local highschool's track is probably not your best tactic. The more specific the preparation, the easier it will be to pull a Jens Voigt - because you've already done the work before, you know you're capable, which is a huge mental boost.


Not surprisingly, your body doesn't perform at its peak when you're hungry or hypoglycemic (that's low on blood sugar, kids). In endurance events that last longer than 90-120mins, there are proven benefits to consuming a carbohydrate solution to supplement muscle glycogen stores, which will generally deplete within that timeframe. There have also been demonstrable benefits to rinsing with a carbohydrate solution for shorter events, even if no calories are actually consumed. If your body is telling you that it's completely spent, you may be able to quiet that voice with some sugar.

I won't judge how you go about it.


Similarly to the above, there is a proven decline in cardiovascular function as a direct result of dehydration. A thirsty body will slow down and begin to shut down no matter how strong your will to power through may be, so take a moment and hit that aid station for a cup of water or sport drink. There's evidence that the latter may be preferable, as the carbohydrate and electrolyte content may increase fluid absorption, keeping you better hydrated and able to maintain intensity. There's a pretty exhaustive hydration guide here.

'Cause noone wants to be this guy.


One of the easiest ways to ensure that you'll end up blown and unable to maintain pace in a race is to go out too fast. You only have so many "matches" to burn, and once they're gone, you're going to be left limping to the finish line...assuming you can make it there at all. To avoid a performance explosion, you can either buy some fancy gadgetry (GPS device showing pace for runners or a power meter for cyclists), or you can pace by feel. If you intend to do the latter, you'll have to train at your intended race pace until you know it absolutely intuitively - so well as to be able to overcome the adrenaline and zippy, easy feeling from being tapered and rested at the starting line of an event. This is one of the toughest things to really nail down, but when you manage it, the first third of the race will tend to feel too easy, the second third will start to feel like work, and the final kilometers will have you ready to barf your lungs all over the finish line as your legs simultaneously fall off.

If you can coordinate all of the above, you can generally mitigate the effects of fatigue, using your mental strength to carry you through those last agonizing minutes. The suffering only lasts a little while - you can always collapse later!

Me after every single race.

How do you shut down your body's excuses? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments!

Friday, November 15, 2013

What's in your race bag?

Most of us have enough stress on race day without having to worry about dealing with unforseen inconveniences. While we all know we need to pack shoes for a running race plus bike & swim gear for a tri, the contents of your race bag can really help to make your whole race day experience more pleasurable with the inclusion of a few items that may have hitherto escaped your notice.

1) A towel for post-race. If it rains, or even if you're just a heavy sweater, it's nice to be able to dry off. You can also use it as a privacy shield if you choose not to participate in the seldom-discussed 5th discipline of triathlon known as "inappropriate parking lot nudity".

2) Space blanket for post-race. Not all races provide them, but there is always the potential for getting chilled after a hard effort. Can also be used as privacy shield as in #1.

3) Wet wipes for post-race, or even a bar of soap/bottle of bodywash. Some race venues offer showers, and if you've got the gear (including the towel from #1) you can have a much less fragrant ride home!

4) Warm, dry clothing  for post-race. I am always cold. I will happily crawl into a giant hoodie and pants in 25c/77f weather after a race.

I'd be cold on the surface of the sun after a half iron tri.

5) A rag for wiping your hands. Between chamois cream, chain grease, sunblock and pre/post-race food, I almost always end up a mess at some point. It's nice to be able to clean up.

6) Plastic shopping or garbage bags for sweaty, smelly gear post-race. Nobody really wants that mus, sweat, grease and general gank lingering in their favourite race bag, so keep it safely contained. Tanker and I call this the "Haz-Mat Bag".

7) Safety pins. Sometimes they've run out, sometimes the pins they're giving out suck, and sometimes you just need an extra. Didn't use the ones from your last race? Great - dump them in your race bag.

8) Pre/post race snack. I have a metric buttload of food allergies, and can't rely on being able to eat whatever is provided by the race directors. Rather than go hungry (and get angry), I make sure I have my own stash of happy snacks.

9) Nail clippers. I always seem to break or tear up a nail on the way to races, or realise I've forgotten to clip them. Rather than risk snagging expensive race kit, tearing up my wetsuit or just ratching my feet from an overlong toenail, I keep multiple sets of clippers stashed around.

10) A stool, for putting on shoes or a wetsuit. It's way easier when you can sit down! I have a little 3-legged folding camp stool that fits in my transition bag, and Tanker always appreciates having a place to sit while he waits for me to finish.

Just make sure you clear it out of transition before the race.
Officials will remove it if you don't.
They may try to remove it even if you plan to do so.

11) A big, fat permanent marker. I often either can't be stuffed to wait in line for bodymarking, or have forgotten to put sunblock on first, which melts the numbers right off my skin. If I have my own marker, I can touch up or apply at my own convenience.

12) Extra goggles. If you keep one smoked and one clear-lensed pair on hand at all times, you'll have a spare in case something happens to one, or can choose the best lenses for sighting in that day's weather conditions.

13) Recovery apparel. If you're changing out of wet and smelly things, you might as well put on some stuff that will speed your recovery - I have compression quad sleeves, compression full socks, and recovery footwear. As comfortable as my running shoes are, I seldom want to remain in the same kicks I wore for racing once I'm off the course - my feet are always delighted to slip into something that cradles them just right and lets them breathe.

The full dork - quad sleeves, compression socks and recovery shoes.
Wearing full pants post-race can reduce the impact on your dignity, if you still have any.

14) Contingency stuff. I keep a big ziploc bag packed with a tube of aloe, a pot of petroleum jelly, a little bottle of minty foot balm, a sterile gauze bandage, medical tape and a sling. You just never know.

15) A plastic shopping bag or cooking oil spray. Some people like to use these things as aids to putting on a wetsuit, though as a caveat the latter is contra-indicated by pretty much every wetsuit manufacturer out there. There are more suggestions here if you want to try something like that.

16) Anti-chafe and chamois creme. For the love of gawd, don't be conservative about this stuff. I'd rather look like I was attacked by some manner of huge, creamy monster than deal with chafing during a long race. Embarrassment only lasts a few hours at most - the pain from skin that's been rubbed raw can go on for days.

17) Extra warm things. You can never be sure exactly what race morning will hold, and racing cold can be miserable or downright dangerous. While I don't suggest trying to pull full garments on in transition (it's an exercise in futility when you're wet - noone wants to be stuck halfway through a long-sleeve jersey), a pair of rolled-up arm warmers and/or knee warmers can be put on fairly quickly, as can a wind vest. You can leave toe covers on most cycling shoes and still be able to get them on or off. These small things can make a bigger difference than you might think in trapping body heat and keeping your blood circulating to the working muscles while racing, as can a pair of little dollar-store stretch gloves in a running race. See this post for some other cheap & efficient ideas for cold weather triathlons.

18) Sense of humour - mandatory for a great race experience!


Got any other suggestions for race bag essentials? Let us in on your ancient Chinese secrets in the comments!

Friday, November 8, 2013


Race season is over, the Great North is becoming white once again, and thus it's time for a little tongue-in-cheek post.

The Top 25 Ways Running is Like Sex:

1) You can do it fast, slow, or vary your speed throughout the workout.

2) It's way more fun when you're strong and fit!

3) You can do it as many or as few times a day/week as you want.

4) You can hurt yourself if you over-estimate your abilities or do too much too soon.

5) You can do it all by yourself, or with as many people as you like (as long as everyone's respected and enjoying themselves).

6) You may need to lube up to prevent uncomfortable chafing.

7) With training, you can go for hours on end.

8) If you're putting in a good effort, you'll be panting and sweaty when you finish.

9) It can leave you feeling either triumphant and energized or completely broken down and exhausted.

10) Everyone does it just a little differently - there isn't really a wrong way, just whatever makes you happy & comfortable.

11) It can be enhanced by rocking out to some great music, but doesn't really need any.

12) It's even more fun outdoors!

13) You miss it when you're injured and unable to do it - you can't wait to get back at it!

14) A good workout will leave you with a smile that lasts the rest of the day.

15) Awkward and embarrassing moments will happen, but shouldn't take away from the fun of it.

16) It's always best to listen to what your body is telling you.

17) Anyone can do it without training, but everyone improves with practice.

18) You'll have some amazing workouts and some not-so-great workouts. Both are still good for you, and fun in their own way.

19) It'll always be there for you to come back to.

20) It doesn't always go the way you planned.

21) You can buy all kinds of gadgets and accessories, but none of that is really necessary.

22) It's always better if you warm up a bit before going all-out.

23) If you go too long without you may forget how much you enjoy it, but the more you get the more you want!

24) You can learn a lot about yourself by stepping (safely) outside your comfort zone.


25) People can tell you about it in every way they can think of, but you'll never really know what it's like until you experience it for yourself!

So get out there and have fun people, but remember that it's always better to be safe than sorry!

Friday, November 1, 2013


I like to run around our neighbourhood every Hallowe'en, because there's nothing more satisfying than the horrified screams of the innocent. I started back in 2009, on the very first Hallowe'en that occurred after I began running (in November 2008). Yep, I had to train for almost an entire year before being able to inflict coronaries on others while strengthening my own cardiovascular system.


I actually ran in the same mask every year until this one - apart from hating the way it covers my nose (you never realize how much oxygen it contributes while running until it's blocked off), the elastic had gone so I figured it was time for a change. We happened to be near the most deliciously fun place in the world to go around Hallowe'en, so I had a look around and came up with something that would be absolutely perfect and was only $3.

Because the only thing that beats scaring the pants off people is making them groan and writhe in pain at a terrible pun, I give you:


Of course, with having a schwack of errands to run (that's a metric unit; approximately 2 bushels shy of a buttload, but I digress) we didn't get home until 8:30pm, and the ridiculously wet and windy weather ensured that all but the hardiest not-quite-old-enough-to-realize-they're-too-old trick or treaters had already given up and gone home. I also desperately needed to get to the pool, so decided I'd just run afterward. After splashing about in my clever costume - I dressed up as someone who can swim 1:00 per 100m, but destroyed the illusion by actually putting in some yardage - I got home and had some packing to do, since we're leaving directly from work today to drive 5 hours to a Hallowe'en party that isn't happening until tomorrow. 

These things don't have to make sense when they happen in another country.

With it being my first run since Horror Hill, I wasn't sure what to expect. The brutally painful right knee had only lasted a day, but the sore ankle had proved a bit more enduring an impairment; it had finally acquiesced to let me walk pain-free the day before, just in time for a Wednesday cycle down to my Mum's place. Riding a bike and going for a run on a somewhat dicky ankle are two different things, though, so I'd be taking things easy. I tend to feel like I'm starting from scratch again when I take 3 or more days off running anyway, so I didn't expect a quick pace or long-duration workout.

By the time I finally got 'round to lacing up my shoes it was nearly midnight, the rain was still pounding down, and the wind had increased to 33kph (20.5mph) with gusts up to 60kph (37mph), but it was still an unseasonably mild 15c / 59f. I managed to get myself together, set up my watch and persuade Endomondo to lock onto a satellite, and finally began my run at...11:58pm.

Apparently Endomondo became possessed by evil spirits or something.
It was, after all, the witching hour.

I only saw one other person out on the streets as the wind whipped the rain in my face, by turns pushing me along and occasionally nearly bringing me to a halt - some teenage kid just on his way from A to B, not caring a lick about some idiot running around in a silly hat. My ankle cooperated, though, so I ran through the rain-soaked darkness for half an hour as Hallowe'en became All Hallows Day.

Noone caught the running bug!

Sometimes it's not about being noticed - it's just about being.