Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Training Strategies For A Marathon: GCAM 2013 (Part 2)

2) Very Light
I am not a proponent of weight-loss for sporting performance. I have an ecto-mesomorphic build, and a high metabolism to support it. Endurance sports merely stoke my basal calorie-consumption (rest) and active calorie expenditure. I have to eat a huge amount of carbohydrates (simple and complex) to maintain my race-weight of 77kg. In recent months, due to my preparation for Kona I have a training week comprising 12-18 hours. As these are mainly aerobic sessions, spread over three disciplines (swim, ride, and run), my bodyweight and bodyfat has fallen appreciably. I have a smaller waistline and defined abdominal muscles. Although this may be aesthetically pleasing, a impending danger for me is being too ‘skinny’.

I found out in 2009 at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida, that when I lost 2.5kg (and had 7.7 percent bodyfat) my cycling power plunged. I had my worst performance compared to the championships on 2008, where I earned my PB. I am cautious about losing too much weight, for I will need both muscular strength and power (and therefore, muscular mass) to ride better in the cruel Kona headwinds and side-winds.


Let your body decide. If you feel fatigued, and your recovery is slow – enhance your nutrient (and caloric) intake. Fuel your body before, during and after the race.

Nutrition-wise, I used the following nutritional assistance:

a)    Deep-sea fish oils (Omega-3 fatty acids): 2-3 capsules (1,500mg each) daily. Load up on this as it is an alternative to glucosamine, and it helps lubricate our joints and strengthen our cells.
b)    Virgin coconut oil: The secret weapon of CrossFit/WOD athletes. I take 2-4 teaspoons daily. One of the man effects of coconut oil is that it stokes your metabolism, and is a valuable source of essential fats (even though it is saturated – thus, it is very stable even when cooked). I drizzle it over my salad or chase it with a whey-protein drink or mix it in my coffee (Super-Coffee). Thanks Karolina for this valuable serving tip!
c)    Organic, tart cherry juice (half-mug) for significant reduction of muscle soreness.
d)    Pomegranate (organic) juice: For added antioxidants (one of the highest fruit sources) to neutralize the aging effects of endurance sports.
e)    Whey protein. Next best source next to a steak (beef). I use Muscle Milk (from Cyberhealth Pte Ltd), once or twice a day. I either supplement my breakfast, or use it before sleep to stimulate Growth Hormone (GH) release.
f)      My overall fat intake has increased. I take more butter and olive oil, but avoid margarine and related products.
g)    I spend more time in the sun to enhance my vitamin D production, and ward off depression. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, so my higher cholesterol intake is justified.

Let us be serious about nutrition. Endurance sports is damaging to our body on many levels. It ages us. It depletes key nutrients, which is hard to track until symptoms reveal themselves. Consider it this way, when you feel sore after each run session your body is undergoing major changes and it requires repair and replenishment.

3)    Very Strong Core

I supplement my triathlon training with short, strength sessions. I apply the principles of CrossFit training focused on a circuit of 5-6 exercises done with my bodyweight and external weights (Kettle-bell). I ensure that I work the major muscle groups (especially the opposing muscles). Muscles work in pairs: agonists versus antagonists – push and pull.

My core workout may look like this:

Balance-Disc (10 minutes)
Push-Up (15-20 reps) followed with one-arm, kettle-bell Rowing (12-15)
Shoulder-Press (kettle-bell) followed by Upright Rows (12-15 reps each)
Parallel Squats (15-20 reps)
Plank (60 seconds)

I don’t normally stretch, however I do ensure a proper warm-up.


I use the Balance-Disc to build my proprioceptive balance. I believed that balancing activates deeper, underlying muscles required for running. Balancing on the disc challenges your lateral muscles (sides), your lesser used muscles of your legs (adductors and abductors) which are needed for dodging runners in the early stages of the race. To challenge your core further, you can add light weights, or close your eyes.


If you must stretch, do it after an aerobic/anaerobic session. Muscles are more pliable after your core body temperature has risen.

Although brief and simplified, I hope that this piece has been useful. Write me if you have questions. May you achieve your running PB soon!

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