Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014


First sign of spring and a big block a month out from Transvulcania for me. 102km over 4 days, culminating in a dash along the shoreline trail at Minnewanka. Stellar day, shorts and vest weather.

Friday, April 4, 2014

March 2014 stats

A decent month. March stats 9000m climbing, a couple of hundred miles on the feet, which isn't too bad considering the weather has kept the trails in difficult shape.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Monthly Stats - February 2014

February 2014 stats. Will be ramping up a bit in March in preparation for the Transvulcania 83km ultra May 10.

Monthly Stats - January 2014

Decided I'll post monthly data for the year at the end of each month.

All my data is recorded on the Suunto Ambit 2, an indispensable piece of kit for ultra runners. There's a great review of this watch here - http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/04/suunto-ambit2-review.html

And of course www.suunto.com has all the specs etc. and some neat videos highlighting the watch technology.

Here's January 2014. Not a huge month, but the weather was not cooperating for quite a bit of the month.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 Race Schedule

Well, here goes!

May - Transvulcania - 83km on the Island of La Palma, Canary Islands


May - Blackfoot Ultra 100km, Edmonton (I hope! I'm on the wait list right now)


June - Transrockies - Rundle's Revenge, 50km, Canmore


July - Trailstoke 60km, Revelstoke, BC


August - Cascade Crest 100 miler, Washington, USA


After this, who knows!

Recovery Tactics

The best athletes in the world all know how to train like champions. They also know how to recover like champions. They are experts at working hard, pushing themselves to the limit in hard training sessions, but they also have their recovery down to a fine art. I think this is something we can all learn from, and I think it's something often neglected by the weekend warrior. The amateur athlete may be pushing himself hard in his ski or run intervals, or maxing out during his hill workouts, but is he optimising his training by paying attention to recovery with such focus and effort? And really that’s what it comes down to. Don’t dilute your training with mediocre recovery strategies. Our workouts break down our tissues, our recovery rebuilds us, and rebuilds us stronger.

Here are three simple things you can do to optimise your recovery, and obtain the maximum benefit from your workouts.

The recovery drink. We talk about the 20 minute window. This is the immediate post-workout period when our muscles are primed to replenish their glycogen stores. The effect diminishes with time. Studies show that consumption of a carbohydrate containing beverage in the first 20 minutes after a hard session ends is ideal. The addition of protein to that recovery drink seems to improve muscle glycogen uptake. 1-1.2g of carbs per kg body weight, plus 15-25g protein seems the ideal mix for adults.

Sleep. Sleep has been shown to be an absolute predictor of human performance. The more sleep we get, the better our performance. A night of bad sleep isn't a big deal, but chronic poor sleep habits and patterns will ruin our recovery. What about pre race jitters - well fortunately poor sleep due to nerves the night before an important race doesn’t seem to matter much, but in general we need to maximise our rest. What do elite kenyan runners do every afternoon? They take to their beds and nap. During sleep our muscles rebuild and our nervous sytem recuperates. If you can take a nap, I highly recommend it!

Nutrition. Of course nutrition plays a huge part in our ability to be the best athlete we can be. We need to really question what we put into our bodies. The average American consumes over 44 gallons of soda per year! We should ensure we consume large amounts of fresh nutrient dense produce, and we should drink water primarily during the day. Stay as close to the source as possible. The more processed a food is, the more you should avoid it; and stay away from alcohol to maximise your recovery. Getting drunk may negate as much as 2 weeks of training effect according to John Underwood at http://www.lifeofanathlete.us

There are a lot of other strategies utilized by elite athletes, some proven, some not; strategies such as compression-wear, ice baths and regular massage may help in recovery. I use compression products from Compressport and find them the best on the market  - http://compressport.ca

These things may make a small difference to the high end athlete - the difference between first and second place, but for the average amateur, perfecting the sleep routine, optimising daily and post workout nutrition are the simple and most important things that will ensure you get the most from your workouts.

(this article is modified from a piece I wrote for SkiTrax magazine)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trail shoes - Altra Zero Drop Lone Peak

An awesome looking new show I picked up at Gord's. The Altra Zero Drop Lone Peak. 

Super comfy zero drop shoe on first impressions. And it has some neat features. I'll post a review in a few weeks. 

New tools - the ithlete app and the Viiiiva HRM

I always like to dabble with gadgets! Those who know me know how I love my Suunto Ambit 2, to monitor my mileage, ascent, average HR etc.

 My new favourite tool, however, is a great little app called iThlete. Its a monitoring tool that measures a physiological variable called HRV or heart rate variability. You need an iPhone or Android phone, the $10 app, and a compatible HRM (of which there are a few). Fortunately I have a great little blue tooth HRM called the ViiiiVa from 4iiii. It allows my iPhone to connect directly to the strap on my chest. It interacts efficiently with the phone - and will work with such apps as Strava, MapMyRun etc.

Heart rate variability is a measure of the small variations in time between heart beats.

You may have noticed that your heart rate subtly increases with a deep breath in, and slows when breathing out. If there is a large change, the HRV is high, and if there is very little change, you have a low HRV. Simple!

 Physiologists have shown that the HRV is a pretty good indicator of how rested, how fatigued, or even over-trained an athlete is. The tool is being used by coaches and athletes to assess readiness for hard workouts, and to assess when a rest day is a better idea.

 The iThlete app takes 1 minute each morning to assess my HRV. A numerical value is presented along with a green light (good to go), amber light (train easy) or red light (time to take a day off) indicator.


I'm finding it to be a great little tool, with sometimes surprising results. A couple of weeks back I got the green light to go, despite waking up feeling pretty sore and fatigued. Once I got out there, in fact, I ended up having a great training session, and feeling good. Without the HRV, I'd likely have taken a rest day.

2 days ago my HRV reading was down, with amber values, despite feeling pretty good. Sure enough, 24 hrs later I had a sore throat, and was feeling pretty crappy. I had taken a rest day due to the HRV, which turns out to have been a great plan, given the mild sickness. I will wait until I see my HRV bounce back, before resuming training.

So there we go - a nice little app available on the app store if you're in the Apple eco-system; and the Viiiiva HR strap is a great addition if you own a bluetooth compatible phone.

Check out these products at:


More info on HRV here: