48 hours to go!


48 hours to go, yes just 48 hours until your race, the one you’ve been training for, thinking about, and now it’s almost here.

Before you start to panic here’s a countdown guide for your big day, follow this and everything will go smoothly and you will put yourself in the best possible place to have a great race.

So here we go…

48:00; Check the Weather & Do a short, fast workout

Knowing what the weather will be like will allow you to make a last-minute addition to your kit bag for race day, cold, then a warm top, warm or dare I say it hot, then you can prepare accordingly. Not doing this check can lead to a miserable experience come race day.

Your next-to-last workout before a race should be relatively easy, so you’re not fatigued on race morning, but it should include a dash of speed to prime your nervous system for competition. For example, run a mile easy, then run 4 x 30-second relaxed sprints, focussing on your form

47:00-39:00; Stay off your feet

Avoid spending any unnecessary time on your feet today as much as possible. Which means, much to the dismay of your partner that the household chores can wait until next weekend!

31:00; Get a good night’s sleep

Ensuring you get good quality sleep is critical to athletic performance all of the time, but it is never more important than in the final few days before your race.
As a result of pre-race nerves and the inevitable early-morning race starts, it can be difficult to get a full eight hours of sleep the night before a race. So be sure to get a good, long sleep two nights out.

22:00; Do a short, easy workout

A short, and I mean very short and easy workout is better than none at all, the day before a race. It relieves mental and physical tension and keeps the body primed for performance.

21:00-10:00; Stop the carbo-loading and drink

Now is not the time to stop shovelling those carbs in, if you have done it right then you’ve already maxed out your glycogen stores. Now choose familiar foods that have always worked well for your body in the past, i.e. your normal diet. Now is not the time to experiment.
Make sure you are drinking sufficient amounts of fluid, which does not include anything with alcohol, that can wait until after the race as you celebrate your achievement with friends and family.

20:00; Final gear check

There’s nothing worse than showing up at a race venue and realising you forgot something important, like your wetsuit or bike shoes. To avoid this experience, take some time to check that you’ve got all your gear together, you should have already got it all packed, but one last sanity check is a good idea. It’s best to create a race gear checklist that you use for every race.

18:00; Plan for race morning

Race morning logistics can be stressful, especially if you are not prepared. Minimise this stress by having a plan for race morning that includes your wake-up time, a planned route to the race venue, a parking site and arrangements to get home after the race. Have a look at Hercules Events website to gather all of the information you need for an easy and smooth race morning.

9:00; Visualise your race

Mental rehearsal, or visualisation, is an incredibly powerful tool of psychological preparation for a race. It is not a tool you have to save for the night before a race, but there is certainly no better time to use it. After getting into bed, clear your mind, which means no tablets/phones and imagine the next morning’s race as vividly as you can.
Obviously, you can’t go through the entire course in real time, so focus on critical parts such as the start, transition, bike mount dismount. Imagine moving with perfect form, feeling easy and strong. Don’t complete your mental rehearsal race miraculously free of fatigue. Instead, see yourself fighting through the fatigue.

3:00; Wake up early

Research on the relationship between the relationship of your body’s natural rhythms and exercise performance suggests that optimal performance is not possible within a couple hours of waking up in the morning. So set an early alarm to give your mind and body plenty of time to get up to speed. Try to climb out of bed at least three hours before the starting gun blasts.

2:45; Eat your pre-race meal

Nutrition is the most important factor on race morning, so it’s also important to wake up in plenty of time to consume and digest a good quality pre-race breakfast. You need to aim to have between 75-100 grams of carbohydrate three hours before your race start, or at least 50 grams two hours out.

0:30; Warm up thoroughly

Start your warmup about 30 mins before your race is due to start. Start with an easy jog, then complete some dynamic stretches such as walking lunges and arm circles, and finish with a few 20- to 30-second bursts at race pace.

0:00; Race time

Most importantly remember this is a reward for all your hard work in training, go out and enjoy it, race hard and don’t forget to smile for the photos at the finish!
This is brought to you, courtesy of our friends are SISU Racing.

SISU Racing provide professional coaching for triathletes of all levels, from beginner to elite. If you have any questions around your race or you are interested in taking your training to the next level then please contact them on email dg@sisuracing.co.uk or visit www.sisuracing.co.uk for more information.

1 week to go until St.Albans!


So, there’s only a week to go until our Hertfordshire triathlon race day and the finger you’re currently using to control your computer mouse might as well be on a panic button right now.

All the questions you thought were answered weeks ago are inevitably beginning to show themselves again and at the worst possible time. Did I train hard enough? Should I put those funny looking elastic laces on my running shoes? Should I have done one more brick workout? What will I eat and drink on race day? And so on.

No matter how many lengths you’ve swam, miles biked or run, doubts always seem to find a way to rise during race week.

But It’s all part of the game. Remember nerves are normal, especially as race day gets closer and the doubts start slipping through the cracks. The key to surviving race week, and the race itself is as simple as trusting your training.

No one workout during race week is going to make you any fitter or stronger. If anything, overdoing it is more of a concern than underdoing it during race week. Now is the time to rest your body, and your mind. The real work has been done.

And while you think ahead to race day, think back on the weeks of preparation that got you to this point. Also, think about the progression you’ve made as a triathlete during this period. In the two, four, six or more months since you first decided to try a triathlon, you’ve covered hundreds of miles, mastered your nutrition and have broken in your race day outfit so well that it feels like your favourite pair of jeans. There’s literally nothing left to do at this point except execute the race.

But you still need to get through race week, so use these five simple strategies to make sure you get to the starting line feeling relaxed, confident and ready to run your best on race day.

1. Relax. Nerves will get you nowhere. They burn calories that are better used on race day. Rather than worrying the week away and questioning your training and perhaps why you entered in the first place, try to take your mind off the race and keep it occupied with a book, mindless movie, do a jigsaw puzzle or some other non-exercise related activity to offset any pent-up pre-race energy anxiety.

2. Drink water. Forcing down litres of water on race morning isn’t going to help matters much if you haven’t been consistency drinking in the days prior to the event. Keep a water bottle within arm’s reach at all times in the days before the race and sip from it several times an hour. It can take several days or even up to a week or more to hydrate properly. Make sure your tank is full well ahead of time.

3. Wake up early. If you’re not an early bird already, learn to be before experiencing a rude awakening on race morning. Since you’ll likely be starting around 7 a.m. and positioned in transition much earlier than that, you’ll want to know what it’s like to be out of bed well before the break of dawn. The last thing you want to do on race day is be rushing around with only seconds to spare, forgetting things, so give yourself plenty of time to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and get to the start line.

4. Make a list, check it twice or three times. You wouldn’t leave home without your bank card or house keys. Equally you shouldn’t leave home without your wetsuit, water bottles, running shoes, gels, hat if its sunny, you get the idea. Make a list of your race day essentials and put them out them to one side through the week. Pack it all up into your transition bag a minimum of 24 hours before hand and tick the items off your list as they go into the bag. Then you can wake up on race day, follow the routine of shower, get dressed, eat and travel to the race.

5. Eat, eat well that is. Don’t be tempted to leave the ‘carb’ loading until the night before the race, make sure that you are ‘loading’ Ten to seven days out from the race, stopping and returning to your normal eating plan 48 hours before the race itself to let your gastronomical system return to normal. It can take up to 3 days for your body to convert the carbohydrate into Glycogen, the energy source that is most readily accessible and used by your body during the race.

Leaving it until the last minute is likely to place you in the queue of the blue cabins and no one wants that on race morning. Make sure its wholemeal based carbohydrates and work on the ratio of 8-10g of carbs per kilo of body weight or if you are counting calories that equates to roughly 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate.

In the end, remember that surviving race week comes down to trusting your training.
View the race itself as just a reward for all the hard work you’ve put in since you decided to sign up for this event many months ago.

Don’t let those doubts take away from the enjoyment of the experience. Develop a pre-race plan, execute it to the best of your ability and have the confidence that you’re ready to swim, bike and run on race day!

These tips are provided to you courtesy of our partner; SISU Racing.

SISU Racing provide professional coaching for triathletes of all levels, from beginner to elite. If you have any questions around your race or you are interested in taking your training to the next level then please contact them on email dg@sisuracing.co.uk or visit www.sisuracing.co.uk for more information.

Preparing for your triathlon…3 weeks to go!

“Unless you test yourself, you stagnate. Unless you try to go way beyond what you’ve been able to do before, you won’t develop and grow. When you go for it 100 percent, when you don’t have that fear of ‘what if I fail,’ that’s when you learn. That’s when you’re really living.” Mark Allen


The quote above is from Mark Allen considered by most in the sport to be the greatest Triathlete of all time. It captures the beauty and the challenge of taking on a Triathlon. So as your race gets closer the first thing you should do is give yourself a massive pat on the back for having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and take on the awesome and daunting challenge of a Triathlon. You will find it exhilarating and you will feel like “you’re really living”.


In terms of more practical tips for preparing for your race the rest of this article will take you through the key things to focus on with 3-4 weeks to go. There’s still time to get at least 2-3 weeks of quality, smart training in so here’s a few key principles to follow:


1) Take The Easy Days Very Easy – When you have planned a recovery day (which should be 2-3 per week (when doing challenging sessions on the other days), make sure you go as easy as you can during your workouts on those easy days. If you go too hard on these days, you fatigue, and don’t allow proper recovery of your body and energy systems. This will limit your ability to work your body on your next hard day due to lingering fatigue. This sub-par performance during your key day typically results in testing yourself on the next recovery day which begins a nasty cycle of what coaches call “grey zone” training. Training in this grey zone is not challenging enough to build fitness and is not easy enough to elicit recovery and build endurance. Make the hard days hard, and the easy days VERY easy.


2) Descend Everything – Every single session, workout, set, mile, or KM you do should be paced to finish strong. This includes everything from recovery runs to repeats at the track. The purpose of this is to ingrain that behaviour for racing, and allow your body and energy systems to progressively adapt to more and more challenging work.


3) Make the Hard Days Hard – Your hard days should be VERY hard. That is, at a sustainable best effort. Remember, #1 and #2 above still applies here. Therefore, if you set out to do 5 x 1 mile repeats, do them at the best possible effort (pace) you can sustain for all 5 repeats. If you pace your workout properly, the last repeat should be run at an all-out effort but result in a time/pace equal, or slightly faster than the previous 4.


4) Sleep at least 7.5 hours per night – Training breaks your body down. Rest and nutrition build you up. This is a no brainer. Training is useless without proper rest (and nutrition).


5) Have a Training Plan – I quite often see people approach their training without a plan to look forward at. All training should have a specific purpose depending on the time of year and your personal areas of improvement, and possess a gradual buildup of volume prior to peaking for your major “A” races. Without this plan, too many folks increase volume or intensity too quickly or too soon and end up injured. Remember, unreasonable build-ups lead to injury, injury reduces consistency, and consistency is the key to unlock your potential. Write down your planned training over the next few weeks leading into your race or if you are unsure ask an experienced athlete for help or seek the help of a coach. There is no magic – smart training works.


6) Have a Race Day Plan – Don’t leave planning your race day until the night before – that’s not going to end well. Write down all the kit you will use on race day and make sure it’s all ready and in good working order. If your bike hasn’t been used much then try and get it serviced at your local bike shop to make sure it’s in the best condition for race day. Similarly make sure you have good quality shoes and race kit ready for race day. Write down and plan all the necessary logistics like the race venue and make sure you have planned how to get there in plenty of time. With 3-4 weeks to go now is the perfect time to plan everything out. Here’s a suggested list of race day essentials:


  • Wetsuit or swim suit
  • Swim goggles
  • Bike shoes
  • Socks
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Run shoes
  • Hat
  • Towel to place running shoes and gels for run, stand on when you change
  • Bottles – With High Carb drinks for racing with, after race recovery bottles – High Carbs, protein, electrolytes
  • Energy gels/bars
  • Bananas
  • Toilet paper
  • Race clothes
  • Race numbers
  • Plastic bags to cover stuff in case of rain
  • Wetsuit friendly lubricant – to stop chaffing


Good luck with your training and your race!


Coach Musty has been helping triathletes of all standards to train and race to the best of their potential for over 26 years. If you have any questions or are interested in more tailored support for your next Triathlon please contact me on Email: coachmusty@strive4fitnessuk.com Web: coachmusty.com

Musty logo


1 week to go! It’s race week

Preparing For Your Triathlon – Race Week

You have now reached race week – well done! There’s a well known saying when it comes to race week – “there’s nothing you can do that will make you any faster but there’s a lot you can do to self-sabotage your race and make your race much slower.” There’s some truth to that because any training you do now won’t improve your fitness but there’s a lot of mistakes you can make that will impact negatively on your race. Click here for coach Mustys’ tips for the final week of preparations.

2 Weeks to go! …and it’s time for tapering


With only two weeks to go we asked our Hercules Coach for his triathlon training advice and he didn’t disappoint. According to Musty the main concept here is tapering. Tapering at its essence is simple: Reduce your overall training volume while maintaining the proportion of (or even slightly increasing) your intensity.

Click here for the full article with a bonus training plan to see you through the final next two weeks of preparation.


Wristband Roulette Terms and Conditions

Every open water swim session proceeding the Hercules Festival of Sport – Northwood we will be giving away a FREE ENTRY to the event. To win a free entry the swimmer must be receive upon check in, the wrist band with the special number. Here are the terms and conditions for Wristband Roulette:


  • Every swimmer must have paid for their session either on-line or at the lake. Anyone on a free entry to the lake will not be included in the draw
  • If the swimmer has already registered for Hercules Festival of Sport they can either give their FREE ENTRY pass to a friend or use it to enter the Hercules Festival of Sport – St. Albans which will be held on 18th September 2016.
  • The FREE ENTRY may be redeemed against any event within the Hercules Festival of Sport – Northwood
  • The FREE ENTRY must be used in 2016 and cannot be redeemed for any future Hercules Event


If you have any further questions please direct to admin@herculesevents.com and we wish you all the very best of luck!

Hercules Team

Article: Hercules Events Support Hertfordshire Child Tennis Prodigy

Join us in building local talent

Here at Hercules Events we are just mad about sport and when the opportunity arose to support a local girl and assist her in achieving her sporting dreams, we jumped at the chance.Introducing Ekua, an 11year old child tennis prodigy who we think we will be seeing and hearing a lot about for years to come. Since the age of 3 years old Ekua has eaten, slept and dreamt about being the number one seed in women’s tennis.



“I started playing tennis when I was three years old, when I used to tag along with my dad to take my brother to his tennis lessons. My favorite tennis players are Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Andy Murray”

“First, I was selected to join the Mini Aces programme at Batchwood Tennis Centre but it was not long before I moved to the more advanced Tarbes programme. I progressed swiftly through the red ball, orange ball and green balls in the mini tennis programme. My current LTA rating is 7.2″

“I love playing tennis more than anything. I spend a lot of time training and playing in tournaments around the country. I have won many tournaments in different towns and have also been awarded sportsmanship awards twice, for playing fairly and professionally. One day, I will be world number one!”

Ekua has done fantastically well so far and has gone on to win numerous trophies, which has led her to be entered into the 2016 Europe Tennis ‘Nike Junior International Tour’, taking place in Halton Tennis Centre in June. She now needs our help in raising £4,000 so she can take part in the tour. Training for such a prestigious event takes a lot of time and funding as you can imagine as she will need one-to-one coaching sessions, squad training, fitness training, hitting sessions, equipment, match play and entry fees for other tournaments. She has already started a campaign with Hertfordshire University Crowd Funding to help her collate the money and you can find out more about it, as well as donate money to Ekua’s cause, by visiting http://sportinherts.podiumpartners.org/campaign/59-ekua-youri

We hope you will join us in supporting such a promising local talent and we will keep you up to date with her progress.

Go team Ekua!

Article: From Novice to Iron Man – Chris’s Story

Thanks to Hercules…Anything is possible!CHRIS LEIGH3

I first ventured into the open water April 2013 with an introduction to open water swimming with Hercules events in Welwyn at 20 plus stone getting into the wetsuit was the first challenge let alone the temperature of the water.

A few months later I entered my first full distance triathlon with Hercules in Welwyn and continued with the regular sessions in the open water. The sessions gave me more and more confidence in my swimming which hadn’t really been tested since my early teenage years. It has become my strongest discipline in the triathlon event.
The Hercules swimming at Merchant Taylors is enjoyable, relaxed and social, which can’t always be said for long swim sessions in a pool. David, Gifty and the team always make you feel welcome.

In June 2015 I completed Ironman 70.3 in Staffordshire and 6 weeks later finished the UK Ironman in Bolton, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile marathon in 14 hours 50 minutes.

Just over 3 years after first dipping my toe in the water thanks to the support of Hercules and the events team I am 3 stone lighter , can get in my wetsuit and have ticked the box to complete an Ironman and have the tattoo to prove it.

Chris Leigh


Understanding leg cramps – Part 1.



Leg cramps causes and solutions. Part 1.

Hello Hercules subscribers and welcome to some more wisdom from The Flying Physios. Today’s article focusses on Leg cramps, something we as runners, riders and active individuals suffer from at some point in our sporting endeavours. It’s also something we at TFP tend to see a lot of at our race clinics following 10K and especially half marathons. Here we discuss what cramps are and by understanding this we lead on to ways of treating  but more importantly preventing a cramping episode from happening in the first place


What are leg cramps?

Basically cramps are an involuntary action by your muscle- a spasm- which involves one or more muscles contracting too hard. Key hotspots for cramps are your calves, behind/below the knee, your foot, the front and back of the thigh, hands, arms and abdomen. We mostly see cramps in the calf or foot. Most cramping episodes are classed as spasms and because spasms tend to be a result of the body guarding itself we can potentially see cramps as a way of your body letting you now there is a problem, be it down to exertion, a nervous system issue, dietary issues or possibly as a result of disease.

A cramp typically lasts a few minutes but it can last a matter of a few seconds. We have known them last 10 minutes, heaven forbid. The severity of the pain can vary with the muscle remaining tender some 24 hours after the initial complaint. If they don’t get you following a long run then they tend to visit late at night in bed- which are labelled as night cramps.


Who gets leg cramps?

You, me, everybody! We see runners and riders with long term cramping issues fairly regularly and certainly in our post race massage clinics. Being a seasoned runner or rider can play a part in limiting episodes if you listen to your body. Older individuals tend to suffer more often with 1 in 3 over 60 and around 50% of people over 80 suffering regularity. It is also known for individuals to suffer 3 to 4 attacks a week whilst some will cramp everyday.


What are the possible causes?

We say ‘possible’ causes simply because the root cause can often be hard to identify. There can be one or a number of factors involved in you suffering a cramp so see which ones you feel may apply to you.

Possibly causes include:

  • overexertion of the muscle whilst training or competing
  • insufficient preparation for an activity- not stretching is an example
  • exercising in the heat
  • dehydration
  • poor blood circulation in the legs or other parts of the body
  • muscle fatigue
  • nerve impingement
  • magnesium or potassium deficiency
  • calcium deficiency

The fact is one or more of these conditions may apply to you so it pays not to ignore them.


How to treat an attack of the cramps?

Stretching and massaging the affected muscle can usually relieve an attack of cramp. Most cramps soon ease off. Painkillers are not usually helpful as they do not act quickly enough. However, a painkiller such as paracetamol may help to ease muscle discomfort and tenderness that sometimes persists for up to 24 hours after a cramp has gone.

An immediate remedy that can help with the sudden onset is to activate the opposite muscle to the one that has cramped. By ‘activating’ we mean use it. For example, cramping of the calf muscle can be alleviated by pointing your toes up wards towards your head. This activates the opposing muscle to the calf (the one on the front of your shin) which makes the cramped muscle relax and elongate with a little effort. Having someone to help with this process is often advised as to be honest you may not feel up to the effort during an attack.


How to prevent them in the first place.

If cramps don’t occur often then no particular treatment is usually required. But for frequent cramping consider the following:

  • If overexertion is causing the problem then wind back the amount of training you are doing and assess muscle imbalances that may be occurring in the region and the body as a whole as this may be a root cause.
  • If a lack of stretching is a key factor then consult someone who can offer advice on an effective stretching regime.
  • If you tend to cramp during the hot weather then prepare for it by taking on fluids that will replenish your body and limit the opportunity for cramping. Dehydration is a key reason for cramps appearing.
  • If you tend to cramp due to poor circulation in your legs then maybe it is worth investing in a massage as a part of your training regime.
  • If you think your nervous system may be the issue then you need to consult a professional to determine your suspicions. A heath screening from a Physio can help to determine a course of action.
  • If fatigue is a key reason for you suffering repeated cramping attacks then look at your diet. Deficiency in Potassium or magnesium for example can play a part in the regularity of your cramping attacks.


So if you are regularly suffering cramping episodes then digest the info above and put it into play. In the next instalment of our advice on dealing with cramps we will look at alternative options for individuals who suffer from the chronic cramping or seeking alternative remedies. Bye for now from The Flying Physios and remember we are always on hand for treatment and advice on 01727 758846 or at info@theflyingphysios.com