Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nice Recovery Walk

The nature is stunning with many flowers coming out at the end of August -





Consequence not the Cause

In one month my time for the Beaufort workout has improved from 5hrs 05mins to 4hrs 32mins. More important though is that there has been an even bigger improvement in enjoyment. This last workout took me to the 3000km mark for this year and it seems that this amount of mileage is where things start to become interesting. The body just functions much better and even when pushing the limits it’s enjoyable. I still can’t sleep properly after a very hard session – the body just throbs all night – but that’s not an issue. The main thing is the great feeling of power in the legs and connection with muscles right up through the body – all the way to the end of the workout. It’s not the scenery that’s important – though that certainly helps – it’s the feelings that are inside the body. When it was all going wrong for me earlier in the season – trying to race without a proper base level of fitness – even the best scenery in the world didn’t stop me from feeling miserable. On top of all this I’ve found out how to keep up running while still building cycling stamina. The key is to only run 5km instead of 10km. Running 5km yesterday evening had no impact on the legs today – whereas a 10km run would have left the legs tired. Regular 5km runs have a strong impact on running fitness and allow different muscles to be used from cycling, calories to be burned, cardiovascular work to be augmented – but without leaving the legs empty for a proper cycling workout.

In both running and cycling I’m now really feeling the core working differently. Many years ago I realised in skiing that even correct instructions were just a crude template to get all the body parts in approximately the right place at the right time – but actual skiing wasn’t about that at all. When you get all the parts firing in the right order then suddenly and unexpectedly you find skiing “happening to you” – the moves become involuntary, some triggered by reflex and some by mechanics. This sensation of “happening to you” instead you you making it happen is a true key to knowing that you are on the right path. The body simply can’t do this if the movements are not organised in a way that comes to life on it’s own. Until recently the use of the core in running and cycling was a bit like my early skiing – done by numbers and by making it happen. Get the spine rotating – the stride reaching backwards, the foot strike correct etc. On the bile it meant pulling back the hip when pushing down on the pedal – and pulling up on the other pedal. All the time it was me making it happen and any loss of concentration would cause it to stop. Now that has all changed – but it happened suddenly  just like in skiing. I now feel the motion ORIGINATING in the core and driving everything else. When it’s happening I don’t want it to stop. If it does stop it all feels wrong and weak. If you are climbing and pushing hard on the pedals with the legs then that is going to be tiring and weak. The moment that the core drives the action it connects the push to the pull on the other side and gets the big core of the body completely involved in initiating the movement – and suddenly not only do the legs feel light but there is a big acceleration. You simply don’t try to push with your legs – that’s a consequence not a cause – just like all those parts in skiing – they should be the consequences not the cause.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Speed Returns

Following a good workout a couple of days ago I went for a short one today. Despite not having worked on speed all year it turned out to be my fastest ever ride around my usual 30k circuit (one climb). This is interesting because I wasn’t even trying to go fast but was just feeling good. It’s the pure stamina built up from repeated long hard rides that has made the difference. Not ultra long rides – but 116k and about 7000ft climbing. I’m surprised how the speed just pops up automatically without having to be worked on. All summer there has been no good feeling about the cycling and this was a bit troubling because it becomes a chore and you wonder if you will end up abandoning it. Suddenly all that has changed. No idea why really. My body was feeling irredeemably old a short while ago (all spring and summer) but now it feels great. There is still a lot about endurance training that baffles me – but I guess that persistence is the one thing that gets you through.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Surreal Cycling

Just watched the last 2km of stage 6 of the Vuelta  - amazing performance from  Sky and Froome. They wanted to put some time into Contador and did it exactly where it counts.

The worst of the heatwave appears to be over here so I went out for a proper workout today – the 116km Beaufort loop – but in the opposite direction over the Cormet de Roselend to start with. The decision to go in reverse was because there had been massive thunder storms yesterday evening and I didn’t want to leave the 2000m Cormet until the end in case the storms built up again today – and there were heavy clouds building already by midday just before setting off.

Improved control of “doms”

Yesterday I’d been caught in the start of the downpour when out running – but it was refreshing. I only ran another short 5km because it’s still a transitional period to get the legs back into running. I had an interesting thought about the “doms” though. The delayed onset of muscular soreness is caused by the “eccentric contraction” of the muscle having to extend when it is taking up the load or shock of landing. This takes place in the calves and Achilles more than anywhere else. For some time now I’ve noticed that foot pain when standing on small sharp stones can be eliminated by making sure the foot doesn’t land ahead of the body – so that there is no deceleration force adding to the body weight on the foot. It struck me that perhaps the “doms” was a symptom of inefficiency in this same area – causing an increased eccentric contraction due to added decelerations. When running I really focused on keeping the knees low and stopping the foot from going ahead of the body and making sure all effort was towards extending behind instead. Running for a lifetime in padded shoes means that there are movement patterns ingrained that are totally unconscious and although you might think that your feet are not coming ahead the mere fact of feeling “normal” probably means that they still are ahead. The 5km was covered in 26 mins which is a normal running speed and what is interesting is that today (the day after) there is no “doms” and no sign of the muscle tiredness that accompanies “doms”. It could be just the body adapting to returning to running – but I do think the change helped. I had also noticed that a tendency to blister in the VFF shoes was caused by still reaching ahead slightly and totally unconsciously – due to not altering the stride enough even when trying – because it doesn’t feel familiar. The entire run yesterday was done comfortably with nasal breathing.

Oceanic clouds, waves and squalls.

The legs felt good on the bike and I connected with the sensation of working from the core and the abdomen immediately – and it stayed all day. This is the first time that’s ever happened. I don’t know if that made the climbing easier or if finally starting to get fit this summer is making it possible to have better coordination and feelings in general. At no point today was I struggling, feeling tired or plodding. The races a the start of the summer would have been very different with this conditioning – and it’s probably just the start of the good feelings this year. Regular repetitions of the 116km loop is sorting things out properly.

The start of the loop from Aime to Beaufort was uneventful, the sun being veiled partly by clouds so not too hot. I noticed the initial climb to Macot was easy so that is always a good sign. Starting the 19km climb from Bourg St Maurice up to the 2000m Cormet de Roselend there were already some ominously dark clouds appearing and doubts over getting to the top were surfacing already. There didn’t seem to be anyone else climbing and spots of rain were soon being felt on the skin, plus it was threateningly dark and with gusts of wind that could instantly cut your speed in half even on the flats. Half way up the climb at Chapieux the first squall hit. It was a bit like the squalls you frequently encounter when at sea – but at least there weren’t waves to contend with – that would come later. I almost stopped to put on a wind jacket but realised that it was still warm and I’d get just as wet from sweat – but be even less comfortable – so left it off. That was a good move because despite looking quite menacing the squall passed over quickly and the sun re-appeared to warm things up again. Exactly 5km from the top the road steepens and it’s usually a tough moment to deal with both physically and mentally – but I focussed on the action of push/pull coming from  the core and eased up that section and onwards. Right at the summit the rain started again and looking over towards Beaufort it really was like being at sea when the weather closes in. Frustration at being side-lined all week due to the heatwave meant that I was not going to give in to the elements this time and so pressed on – but stopped to put on the thin jacket before getting into the wet descent. It’s about 23km to Beaufort all descending and quite steep, but I wasn’t going to see much because the heavens opened and it bucketed down. The car drivers were afraid of descending in this amount of liquid so surprisingly I found myself overtaking them on the bike. Yes – there were waves of water flowing down the road as the run-off came onto the road from the slopes all around. Needless to say I was completely soaked and beyond caring about that – at least it wasn’t cold. My fingers went numb from constant braking to prevent any serious speed build up and the rear brake felt like it was an ABS system with juddering when being squeezed very hard. When rims are extremely wet you do need to squeeze very hard on steep descents to get any braking effect. I passed quite a few other cyclists hiding beneath anything they could find that was overhanging – but I didn’t see much point in stopping as it would be warmer lower down eventually and the clouds looked like they had a sizeable portion of the Atlantic ocean inside them – and could go on dumping forever. Just before Beaufort the rain eased off and stopped as the town sign went past. I pushed a wrong button on my telephone and ended my workout logging – but was coming to a stop by then anyway. The Sony Ericson Xperia Arc phone had survived with no protection and I even had to blow the water out of the button cracks – amazing! I pulled over to the terrace of the café and boulangerie were I usually stop and there was a seat available – just catching the first rays of sunshine as the clouds were breaking.

The next thing to happen was slightly surreal. I ordered a hot Beaufort cheese pie and a coffee (my lunch) and by the time they were eaten there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. It felt like I’d missed something – perhaps gone to sleep for an hour and just woken up. I struggled to get my head around such an extreme change in such a short space of time – and it was now boiling hot again. I’d removed my headband, gloves and socks to wring them out and place them in the sun to dry – also the inner soles of my shoes. Given the need to dry things there was time for some more sweetened munchies and another coffee.

Setting off again it was so warm that any dampness just felt like sweat and it was as if the apocalyptical flood had never happened. It took only 30 minutes to cover the 20 km to Albertville – with most of it being a gentle downhill gradient. Then the long slog back to Moutiers and eventually Aime was tempered with excellent shading from the sun by the mountains. All in all it was a good workout, celebrated with a hearty Pizza and Almond Magnum later on. (OK I need to work on the nutrition!)

Once again I’d used nasal breathing for at least the first couple of hours. There is a massive increase in the thirst you experience when you stop nasal breathing but today I couldn’t keep it up the whole way. The real achievement was in keeping constant form with the core muscles.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

No Legs

It was boiling hot today, around 38°C, dry air with not a cloud in the sky and a gale force gusts of hot dry wind. I’m not sure if my legs were fine to start with and the dry wind got to me, or if the legs were having an off day. Perhaps the feeling that I didn’t want to do the workout indicates an off day from the start. 116km is a long way to go in the heat with uncooperative legs. Once again I went through Beaufort and stopped for a hot Beaufort cheese pie (late lunch) and coke with ice.

The two images are a the top of the climb – the ridge separating Beaufort from Tarantaise


Lac de Roselend (hydro electric dam)


Typical colour of water carrying sediment from ice melt.


The map shows the winter ski area – you can just see the “..ort” of Beaufort on the lower left hand edge – and Lac de Roselend above it. Mont Blanc looks close but it’s quite far although the trail circumnavigating Mont Blanc passes just the other side of the Cormet de Roselend (The 2000m col)

Not much to report really – constant thirst with the dry air. Last time I was watching the seconds being shaved off each kilometre in amazement and this time I was watching them adding on in amazement. I was very tired reaching home just before dark (started near 3pm and finished near 9pm) but not completely wrecked as when going a bit faster. There was however no option to go faster. Lots of pins and needles in the left hand and a sore bum – strange how there are days like this. Hadn’t slept much or eaten much – so those things might be factors.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Running - only barefoot style


Following a break from running for two months In 10 days I’ve reduced the time for a 5km run by 10 minutes and appear to be relatively “doms” free already. The doms seems to be more related to distance than to speed. Once I’m sure there are no doms in the days following a run I’ll start to increase the distance incrementally and try to maintain or increase the speed. The Etape du Tour over a month ago now had left my lower back a bit fragile and aching – due to being forced to switch from chi-cycling mechanics to the opposite (follow through with the hips) to switch muscle groups and avoid crippling cramps. Running seems to help the back to recover more quickly and I feel noticeably better after each run. I’d entered the Etape race with only 1000 miles (1600 km) of cycling in my legs this year – which I now believe was the core reason for my struggles. You really want about 2500 miles (4000 km) to be well adapted for such an event. I’ll ask them to move the event until September so that more people can have the opportunity to be properly ready. The Tour of Spain will be on in September – perhaps they do an “Etape du Vulelta”?


Working on technique to avoid calf muscle doms meant focussing on a midfoot landing but without the foot coming ahead. I’ve noticed that with Vibram Five Fingers the foot only gets hurt on a stone chip if it’s allowed to get slightly ahead of the body. The pain in the foot is not caused by standing on the stone chip but because of the deceleration of the body cause by the foot landing too far ahead. This deceleration multiplies the impact load of the body on the ground and drives the stone into the foot. Once you realise this it becomes great feedback for correcting the stride. When you are attentive to the stride – working to avoid the foot going ahead – there is never any pain under the foot – even running on gravel chips.

Along with stride form I remembered to get the cadence up to around 90 strides per minute. This might seem to rapid a stride, but at slow speeds you just take shorter strides and this then helps any work on avoiding over-reaching. Eventually the pace was increased by lengthening the stride behind the body and using a strong core (psoas) to recover the leg from behind. When the core is used correctly and strongly you feel a rotation in the spine but more than that you feel the muscles of the lower abdomen and midsection becoming the centre of the whole action. You need to relax the hips and use gravity to fall forwards – avoiding any unconscious tensing up – then just use the core to recover the legs and with the upper-body and arms countering the rotation and contributing to the internal action. It’s a combination of harnessing gravity and removing internal resistance. Most energy is wasted due to fighting both against gravity and against yourself.

Christiane has just re-started running after a two month break and seems to have forgotten everything she had learned about technique. That surprised her but not me. Our default “mindless” approach to activities such as running comes from a delusional assumption that such things are so natural that we just do them instinctively and don’t need to  learn. In contrast you wouldn’t expect to play a guitar very well if you hadn’t touched it for two months because there is no way to play well without an obvious amount of learned skill being involved. The interesting thing about running for me now is not “performance”, but skill and awareness plus the fact that this involves an endless process of development and personal discovery. I see people out with the local running club and all manners of running are apparent. What’s clear is that there is no awareness or even any attempt to work in this direction – each person just running however it happens to come to them – all different. Their focus is on distance, speed, intervals, power, acceleration – but issues that involve skill, perception and awareness don’t get a look in.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beaufort Training Loop

Having failed miserably to get my mileage up high enough to give a decent performance in early July it now seems that things are coming together. Beaufort has always been a tough workout due to the distance, headwinds and 2000+ metres of climbing, but fitting it in twice a week is a sure way to build stamina. Part of the problem is that routes like this are not open until late May or early June due to their altitude. Even when they do open it’s not until July and August that the weather is likely to be ideal. I find that with very little cycling over the winter and a late start to the season it’s not possible to get properly conditioned by early July when the main competitions are. They should save the races for September and October.


Beaufort – café stop

In the space of 10 days I’ve managed to reduce the time from 5hrs 6min to 4hrs 44min – but although the body is allowing this to happen it was tough afterwards. It’s like the body gives you permission to hurt it even more than previously so you feel wrecked. Sleeping afterwards at night is not easy because there is a deep aching in the legs and restlessness in the body. What surprised me the most was that the day before I'd done a 90 minute circuit with a good climb and still had sore calves from the three runs also done during the week – so I’d expected to be very slow and low on energy but that wasn’t the case. I felt stronger than on any previous ride this year. That’s something I find hard to understand – unless it’s just a question of mileage.


Looking back down from the climb – Beaufort is at the bottom of the V

I was late starting as usual – being a naturally “morning averse” person. The afternoons are warmer and I like the heat but not the accompanying strong valley winds that build up in the afternoons on hot days with the air rising. Arriving at the 1.6km Saix tunnel I was 15 seconds ahead of schedule and because the wind wasn’t quite as strong as the previously time that wasn’t a surprise, but on exiting the tunnel I was 30 seconds down on the time! Where did that come from? Through Moutiers and la Léchere time continued to slip until by Cevins and the exposed flats leading to Albertville I was now down by 1min 27seconds. There are two things that can happen here when the feedback is like this – you either give up and let it go – or you fight back. Surprisingly my body decided to fight back. I didn’t decide – my body did. Going into a low position, elbows bent to 90° and ankles bending at the top of the pedal stroke to prevent the knees from hitting the ribs – I increased the feeling of pressure on the pedals – the streamlining giving a sporting chance against the headwind. Each kilometer where there was sustained pressure on the pedals there would be a 20 second reduction in time so in only 4km all the previously lost time had been recovered and the attack of the first climb out of Albertville to Beaufort was made with at least a minute ahead on the clock. Again, to my surprise, this climb was made using one sprocket larger than the previous times and so the time advantage slowly accumulated. It’s about an hour from Albertville to Beaufort with various ups and downs along the way, but on arriving at the Beaufort café stop I was 4 minutes up on time – after 2hrs 15mins work. The constant audio feedback every kilometre keeps you aware of your performance – otherwise you start to dream and follow your imagination instead of focusing. It makes a good substitute for group training or racing where the other participants provide that motivation.


The Cormet de Roselend comes down from the top left into Bourg (Mont Blanc in the distance)

The big climb starts immediately after Beaufort village. If you have been battling winds and working hard up to this point then there is a strong question mark over whether or not your legs will function properly for the upcoming climb. Once again to my surprise there was a small improvement on most of the kilometers of the 19km climb – reaching 6 minutes advantage by the summit. I’d fully expected to lose all of the gains on the climb so this was a surprise. Taking more time on the descent wasn’t easy because it’s a very technical and fast descent – probably my favourite descent in the Alps due to the tight hairpin bends and the good condition of the roads (no gravel). It was only on the flatter section near the bottom after Bonneval that I could attack and gained about 30 seconds, maintaining that until Bourg St Maurice.


Final watering hole at Laundry – used 4 bottles today – in 4hrs 44mins

There is a small amount of traffic dodging at the busy roundabouts in Bourg and the great thing about a bike that beats cars every time is that there is no female passenger telling you to slow down and infecting you with her neurosis. Over the next 18km back to Aime about another 2 minutes advantage was gained – losing a little on the final climb to Macot due to tired legs. All in all an improvement of over 8 minutes – and that required concentration for almost 5 hours!


Macot La Plagne is the final short climb before home. Always a welcome sign.



In the morning before getting out of bed I’d been unable to breathe through the nose – which is unusual. Unfortunately that was also the case on the bike. this happens from time to time and is inexplicable. Breathing through the mouth caused a noticeable increase in dehydration – but there was also more sweating than on previous efforts due to simply pushing harder on the pedals. I tried “spinning” with a higher cadence and maintaining pressure on the pedals but found that it lost time – so I reverted to the cadence/power band that seems to work best for me. All of the way I used chi-cycling mechanics and avoided any back pain in spite of the increased workload. The lower and flatter upperbody  position causes more flexing at the hips but this, as well as giving more power, creates more relaxation and lets you absorb speed bumps more easily without coming off the saddle. Perhaps this is revealing unnecessary tension in the lower back and core area that leads to back trouble on other occasions. At times, when fighting to maintain speed in a bigger gear I’d use the full  range of the midsection – rotating at the spine and “reverse pedalling” at the hip joints. This maintains the chi-cycling mechanics and alignment but accesses the core power directly – letting you keep up speed but taking some of the strain off the leg muscles. It requires concentration to do it – not being an instinctive habit.

At night I was wrecked and useless. The 22 minute improvement (over 10 days) doesn’t come without a price to pay! Using technology I can place myself in the UK as an internet user and so watch BBC TV live – and the whole evening was spent watching the Olympic closing ceremony. I can’t abide ritual (and likewise utterly despise any form of religion) so a lot of the formalities were a bit tough to get through – but the show itself was first rate. The Olympics have been phenomenal this year. It was pure poetry that Bradley Wiggins opened the games by ringing the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world and his “Mod” idols “The Who” closed the games. It has been the greatest month in history  – since early July – for British sport. It’s stunning the difference made through financial investment through lottery funding. 16 years ago Britain won only 1 gold medal – now it’s 29 and ahead of Russia! Long may it continue!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quality Training

Recently I decided to stop racing for a while because it was not leading to a coherent training program. Pressure to perform meant that there was little focus on quality. You can’t race and develop better breathing technique and control at the same time – you just revert to whatever unconscious habits are already in place. Pressure to do well in cycling makes it hard to fit in a routine for running – but for overall form it’s definitely better to practice both – especially with a focus on quality and awareness of movement.

Beaufort Training Loop. There is a great bar/cafe/boulangerie in Beaufort where you can stop for a break after about 2hrs 15 mins and have some refreshments before tackling the climb up to 2000m over the Cormet de Roselend. This has become my favourite training route in the summer. 116km and usually a strong headwind all the way to Albertville. A couple of years ago this circuit felt like murder and the legs would be too painful to climb properly – turning the ascent into an interminable crawl. We always want to go faster and better, but it’s useful to remember what it was like a few years back just to keep things in perspective. Even when stamina develops there can then be problems of back pain or other mechanical issues. Last year there was both back pain and severe foot pain to deal with. The cure for both was the same thing at root, however the foot pain was really caused by the shoes – although it was so progressive in the build up that this was not obvious at all. It could be controlled by improved mechanics so in a way it turned out to be a very useful problem. Now the aim is to get around a circuit like this with good stamina, good mechanics and no chronic pains other than healthy ones from  effort. The focus is on breathing (nasal and abdominal), alignment (mechanical), pedalling technique (elliptical), core oriented coordination (working from and with the spine – not against it). There’s also a need to focus on positive internal dialogue – to avoid negative mental chatter. It’s hard to do any of this when racing – the mind tends to go blank and your focus becomes external. If something is not completely automatic then it doesn’t happen. Perhaps that’s why racing should just be occasional – not all the time.

Getting back into running – with barefoot running technique – is surprisingly difficult after a break. I’d taken my runs up to 30km distance just before stopping to focus on cycling in preparation for the Etape du Tour. Those adaptations – from struggling at only 1km with calf problems – are only temporary at this stage and that’s quite frustrating. Starting off again with a 5km slow run is enough to cause several days of doms. (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness). This is clearly a legacy of a lifetime of running in stupid Nike padded running shoes. I’m hoping that although the doms have returned again that progress will be more rapid this time round – both for building up speed and distance. The big problem with this issue is that the legs are depressingly sore for days on end while adapting – sometimes putting you out of action for four complete days – which makes adaptation a very long drawn out process. Cycling is also affected because even though you don’t feel the doms too much on the bike the legs are traumatised and tired. (That’s why running had to be stopped while trying to ramp up the level quickly for bike racing). It’s the eccentric contraction of the muscles when running that causes the doms and with using the calves as the primary shock absorber they have to deal with this a lot more than with padded shoes which permit you to heel strike. The problem with the heel strike is that it transmits shock though all of your joints and this leads to degenerative illnesses and chronic injury for most runners. Long, painful and slow adaptation is much preferable to long, slow and painful degeneration. I use thick heeled shoes now only as a temporary measure when there is a niggle with the Achilles tendon – which is when running on the heels can be useful. I’m hoping that in a few more years the body will have adapted in such a way that the calves won’t have to repeat this trauma any more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Eight Legs


I’d love to know what sort of spider this is making its home in the post of the parasol on the terrace. The camouflage is impressive and the bite is too probably.

Monday, August 6, 2012



Storm coming up the valley…

We have had wave after wave of storms for the past few days. I was chased off the mountain at La Plagne by the first storm just getting indoors before the rain and lightning came on full power and the wind hit after a mad race down from about 1800m altitude.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to normal

This is the longest I’ve gone without writing for years! A few days after the “étape du tour” it became clear that I was coming down with a summer cold/flu type bug – which finally explained much of my unexpected troubles on the étape. This bug wasn’t the worst cold or anything – but it knocked the stuffing out of me in terms of energy levels. Three weeks later I was still coughing up stuff with the lungs clearing. The cycling season had started off badly and seemed determined to continue that way. Getting back on the bike after about two weeks there was no strength. Slowly that has returned and now I’m back to being my normal masochistic self again – but not fully up to speed on the bike yet.

Had a visit from this giant fly yesterday. If anyone knows what it is please tell me… (The green border is almost an inch wide) It’s spooky having all of those eyes looking at you.

Did two tough workouts in the past three days – from Bourg St Maurice up to the Col de l’Isèran and back – about 100km round trip with 2000m climbing up to 2775m altitude - and one loop through the Tarantaise valley and through Albertville then up to Beaufort and over the Cormet de Roselend – about 116km and almost 3000m climbing. The Col de l’Isèran was the same as usual – very weird! It was boiling hot in the valley but freezing just at the summit with ice still lying close to the road side. I call this spot the “Bermuda Triangle” because the weather is a distinct and permanent micro climate that doesn’t seem to belong there. Often the mechanics and electrics (GPS, Heart rate monitors) on a bike just stop working here.  The Beaufort workout was tough today due to tiredness from the previous high altitude climb – but that made it an interesting challenge. Managed to avoid looking at the results for Wiggo in the Olympic time trail when I got home and so was able to see the whole thing properly on catch-up TV on the internet. It’s mind boggling how fast those guys go. I have his two published books and have been a “believer” in him for several years now. Suddenly all of those who were not really recognising his capacity are all over him as if they’ve been behind him all the time! I’m glad he is finally getting the respect he deserves – but he needs to slow down so that the rest of us don’t get so depressed with our times.


I managed the entire 5hr 5minute workout today nasal breathing. Normally that would have fizzled out by the latest at the climb up to 2000m over the Cormet de Roselend – but today was breakthrough day for breathing. It’s been bugging me for some time how uncomfortable nasal breathing can be during really strenuous effort. You can feel like you are suffocating and eventually have to revert to breathing through the open mouth. Early on I learned to sort of grunt when exhaling through the nose. I don’t know why but it’s a hard habit to avoid or stop once you discover it – perhaps a bit like tennis players grunting. This noise accompanies a relaxing that takes place during the exhalation – in contrast to a strongly forced inhalation. I know that singers and divers are taught that for good breathing technique you need to focus on forcing the exhalation and not the inhalation – because the exhalation is not reflexive but the inhalation is. For some reason that had never felt right for me, until today! I started forcing the air out of the nostrils even harder than the inhalation – and suddenly I didn’t have to breathe in so hard and all of the “suffocation” disappeared along with the grunting. The entire climb was done this way and at no point was there any feeling of breathlessness even with the heart up at 164 bpm. There was no tendency to start to sneak in breathes through the mouth from time to time. I could feel the reflexive inhalations and the fact that they didn’t need to be too big either. Big breathes seem to be a compensation for not exhaling properly and the system not functioning efficiently. Perhaps I can cross this over to my swimming now that I feel it – because there I have even bigger breathing problems!