Beer Day 1

Ok this was a little easier than I first thought. Basically I went the whole day until 4pm without eating (which was actually fine, I didn’t get hungry at all). I then went for a 1 hour ride, and surprisingly power was better than expected. I had some Isopure whey protein during the ride, and about 500ml of coke. I started “dinner” as soon as I got back home, which consisted of Kona Brewing Golden Ale for starters, Deschutes Inversion IPA for main course, and Lagunitas Brown Shugga for dessert.

I only made it about half way through the IPA before I felt full. As I’ve said before, I can’t really drink a lot of beer, and it showed in this dinner. I really had to force myself to drink this down. Since I was very low on calories, I supplemented with a hot dog and some tortilla chips, which although is not beer, still fits the criteria of “bad food”. 

For day 2, I’ll hopefully adapt a bit and be able to stick to beer only (as far as possible). If I keep this up with calories so low, I’ll be through this phase very fast!



Totals 2,058 calories 264g carbs 45g fat 90g protein

this post is a part of the raceweight project, a “calories in, calories out” experiment to see if I can get to my racing weight eating mainly “bad” foods

Ice Cream! Day 1

Ok, burgers are done, ice cream is in!

Ice cream is a broad food group, and I’ll be including many related options in the “allowable foods” list:
– ice cream, gelato, sorbets
– milkshakes, sundaes and other dairy-based desserts
– other dessert type of things like custards
– I can add toppings to the ice creams, for example m&m’s, fudge, chocolate and cookies
– spinach is not allowed


Day 1 of ice was quite badly executed. I started with my first ice cream meal around 11am, and by 4pm I’d eaten my quota for the day of 2100 calories. That left me pretty hungry at dinner time, surrounded by the aroma of roast lamb with nothing to eat. So in future I’m going to leave the bulk of my calories for later on in the day. It’s much easier to suffer earlier than suffer later.

Daily totals: 2417 calories (320g carbs, 107g fat, 48g protein) 
(that’s way too little protein, I’ll have to up that by adding some whey to a shake)


this post is a part of the raceweight project, a “calories in, calories out” experiment to see if I can get to my racing weight eating mainly “bad” foods

Finally – getting some fitness

When I lived in London, I used to catch the number 65 bus to get into town. Most times, I would wait for ages with no bus arriving, then all of a sudden 4 busses would arrive at once! In the end I mainly would just walk the 1.5 miles into town because it was just quicker than waiting forever for 4 busses to come at once.

My fitness this year has felt similar… I’ve been diligent in getting the work done, but I’ve had no real indication of fitness improvements at all. And then suddenly in one week, I had breakthrough workouts in both running and biking!

Last Friday (June 24th) I went out for a long 18 mile run. The idea was to start out by feel at an “easy effort”, then finish with some faster efforts. Up until this week, I’ve been stuck in “ultra mode”, unable to really get comfortable at paces faster than 8:00/mile. But on this run, it was different. I started off by feel, and was hitting 8:00/mile feeling very easy for the first 9 miles. Then I picked it up, and was comfortable running low 7’s for the remainder of the run. Overall 18 miles with an average of 7:40/mile – slower than my fast days, but a huge improvement over any runs I’ve done this year.

Then on Sunday, I went for a long ride. In the beginning I didn’t feel great, but I just kept the effort easy for the first couple of hours. Then after 3 hours I picked up the pace to a higher effort, just under “Ironman race pace”. At 4:45 into the ride I stopped for a quick coffee, then I started heading back home. I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to do a quick loop north of Boulder (Nelson, 36, 66) which is a hilly part of the Ironman Boulder course. As I started the loop, I felt very good, so I spontaneously decided to do an FTP test (usually performed as a standalone workout of 20 minutes all-out). Ever since moving to Boulder last August, I’ve struggled to sustain any efforts over 300 watts, but today I found myself easily riding over 330. So I pushed it a bit harder, and ended the 20  min TT with a normalized power of 344 watts, which was a huge step from all my previous efforts here at altitude, and it’s pretty close to my best sea level efforts.

Both of these workouts have been huge confidence boosters. They took a while to happen, and unlike the #65 bus, they have actually come just in time to give me a nice boost before Ironman Boulder, taking place on August 7th.

How to kill 4 hours on an indoor trainer

If, like me, you signed up for an early 2013 Ironman, you’ll probably find yourself faced with the choice of braving the cold outdoor winter, or stuck indoors on a trainer for hours on end.

shiv on trainer

Last year I was hit by a car a month before Ironman Coeur d’Alene, breaking my ribs. Unable to run or swim, riding on an indoor trainer was the only option available to me. The silver lining in all this, is that I learned a few tricks that help to make long indoor sessions more bearable. Here are two of my most-used workouts:


Descending from 60
This first one has really helped me to get a lot of volume during the lead up to IMCdA despite having broken ribs. I did this workout about 3 times a week, sometimes back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a much easier way to pass 4 hours on a bike: This long ride is usually done as a steady or lower steady (zone 2) effort. Break the ride up into descending intervals of 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 15, 10, 5 minutes. After each interval you are allowed to get off the bike for a few mins, stretch, eat something, go to the toilet etc. Since each interval is shorter than the one before, mentally it feels like it’s getting easier. Before you know it, you’re at the end and hey presto! 4 hours done!

Guilt food incentive intervals
This is another one from my spell of broken ribs. Since my total volume was less (no running or swimming), I had to really watch my diet to avoid weight gain. That meant less justification for the naughty foods, but I used that to incentivize myself to complete my workouts. Let’s use one of my favourite foods as the example – I love pizza! So I’d take a delicious pizza and cut it into 6 slices. I’d then get on my bike and ride for an hour. Then the intervals starts. Ride for 30 mins, then you are allowed to stop and eat a slice. Get back on the bike, ride another 30. Another slice. and so on, so forth. A 6 slice pizza + the first hours gets you 4 hours on the bike! You can also add bonus foods for hitting predetermined wattage targets, like 2 scoops of ice cream if I include 2  x 15 mins @ tempo effort.

The other benefit to me personally, is that I now do these often, instead of riding out on the road. That’s a reduced chance of being involved in a crash or hit by a car. I probably only ride outside once a week these days, making the odds of an accident a lot less.

For those that try these out – good luck and happy training!

Challenge Henley in 10 hours? The Plan

I will be doing Challenge Henley this weekend, with a goal of doing it in 10 hours. This is an Iron distance race (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run) and I am reasonably comfortable with what I’m able to do at the moment, having 2 recent Ironman races fresh in my memory – Ironman Switzerland July 10th (11:02) and Vineman July 30th (10:18). I will be taking some learnings from both those races into this one in order to try and take another 18 minutes off my time. I’m not going to swim much faster so I will need to gain time on the bike and the run. Here’s the plan – it will be interesting to look at this afterwards and see how close I get! If you happen to be online on Sunday you can track the progress of athletes in real time using the Challenge Henley Athlete Tracker.

Swim – 1:10 (may be lucky and do it a few mins faster)
Transition 1 – 2mins
Run – 3:25 (this is best case if all goes to plan)
Transition 2 – 2 mins
Bike –  5:20 (see plan below)

Total: 09:59

The swim and the run are pretty constant, but the bike offers the opportunity to ride more strategically. By saving energy on the bike, you set yourself up for a good run. There is no way that I will run a 3:25 marathon if I go too hard on the bike. Having said that, I know I have a little more in me on the bike based on my recent races, the questions is will I overdo it? Well, there is only one way to find out and that’s to do it! My plan for the bike is below. This is based on riding at specific power outputs and being pretty disciplined in not going too hard, especially in the beginning.

[You can scroll around the embedded spreadsheet below if you need to see the whole thing]


I will allow myself some flexibility in the 2nd half to push it a bit harder if I’m feeling good. The idea is to put in extra effort on the hills, where wind resistance does not play as much a role as on the flats & downhills. When you are going 40kph+, extra power output does not translate into a significant amount of extra speed.

As you can see, this plan has to be executed perfectly if I want to go sub 10. However, I will not stick to this plan “at all costs” for example if something goes wrong on the bike (something usually does), I just accept that and adjust the plan on the fly, in order to do the best that I can. After all, the main reason I do this is because I enjoy it, breaking 10 hours would just be a bonus!

If you’re also racing this weekend – good luck and enjoy it!

Currency conversion in Google spreadsheets

This is pretty useful and I can never remember the exact syntax, so here it is for me (and now you) to remember.

In a Google spreadsheet, you can do an online currency conversion that looks up the exchange rate in real time, making my life much easier.

For example to get EUR to GBP just type


(note: if you copy and paste this and get an error, replace the quotation marks ( ” ) with your own. For some reason the blog template sometimes changes the quote symbol into it’s own format. I think I’ve fixed it but just in case…)

which will give you the rate ( you can then use that to convert existing cells to whatever currency you wish)

This makes it really easy to build an expense forecasting sheet like this that auto updates the exchange rate



date description amount EUR amount ZAR amount GBP


06/10/2009 Hotel Prince de Galles, Paris € 258.10   £232


08/10/2009 Butcher Shop and Grill, Johannesburg   R 5,346.00 £432


21/10/2009 Taxi – Amsterdam € 10.00   £9


21/10/2009 Helicopter: Monaco € 134.00   £120


01/11/2009 Hotel Monaco € 756.89   £679


02/11/2009 Lunch Cafe Royale € 324.00   £291




  Total     £1,762