Swim Terminology 101

Brush up on common pool workout terms with Coach Duncan Grainge’s glossary.


(ex: “4×100 on 2:00, descend 1–4”): The goal of this set is to decrease the time it takes to swim each 100. Swim the first 100 at a conservative effort, No. 2 a bit faster, the third even faster and No. 4 your fastest. This type of set is best for learning how to control pace so you finish strong.


(ex: “8×50 on :60, build each 50”): This term refers to effort and means to build from an easy effort at the beginning of each 50 to a strong effort by the end of the 50. Typically, this term is found in a warm-up set to gradually increase your heart rate to prepare for the main set.

Breathing Pattern

(ex: “5×150 on 3:00, 3/5/7 breathing pattern by 50”): This set instructs you to swim the first 50 breathing every third stroke, the second 50 breathing every fifth stroke, and the final 50 of each 150 breathing every seventh stroke.


(ex: “500 TT”): Time trial. This means you’ll do a timed effort of a prescribed distance, going as fast as you can for that interval. These are good opportunities to test your fitness to compare to past and future sets of similar length.


Swim as easily as possible during this type of set to get your heart rate and breathing to return to normal and allow your body to recover fully. There are no winners or records to be set during a recovery swim.

Negative Split

(ex: “500 pull, negative split”): Swim the second half faster than the first half. In this example, the second 250 should be faster than the first. This type of interval teaches pace control and finishing strong.


(ex: “4×100 base”): Your “base pace” is the pace you can comfortably hold for multiple 100s in a row with a few seconds to spare at a moderate effort. So, if you can swim 10x100s comfortably hitting 1:35–1:37 every time, you belong in the 1:40 or 1:45 lane. Some workouts are prescribed off of base, so you may be assigned 100 on base, 200 on base +:05, etc.


Coach Duncan Grainge of SSIU Racing 


Workout Wednesday – Push Your Engine Then Recover

 January 31, 2018

Running requires enough time to be durable and to have the engine to support your goals, and rewards economical and efficient movements that require coordinated muscular activations but it also punishes you if you overdo any of the work.

This session is designed as one that lets you push your engine, but also includes enough recovery to be able to keep pushing that engine appropriately during other parts of the week.

15 min warm up, focus on cadence first

Main Set

3 x 30 sec stride, 90 sec easy (strides are an acceleration from your steady pace to a fast, smooth effort)
10 min build over the first 5 min to tempo/10k effort, hold for 5 min at 10k effort, then right into
3 x (30 sec FAST, 30 sec easy or walk)
5 min easy effort
10 min all 10 min tempo/10k effort, again, right into
3 x (:30 FAST, :30 easy or walk)

Cool down
Easy effort to round out the hour, re-focusing on cadence and adding attention to posture.

We offer either one to one or group coaching throughout the season at our Northwood venue. Please contact us at admin@herculesevents.com for availability and bookings.

Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing 



Get more from massage

10 tips to get the most out of your sessions

When it comes to massage, keep in mind the old adage that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” No one has conclusively proven a benefit, but that doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. (And they do feel nice.)

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your sessions.

Time it right

“When I’m really training hard, I’ll add a massage because I want to make sure I’m recovering as fast as I can,” Eric Young (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) says. And Tiidus agrees that heavy training may push us beyond that inflammatory threshold, where massage might be of the most help. So if you’re going to get a rub down, the best time to do it is after hard workouts.

See the therapist who’s on top of the research

You’re not looking for incense and mood lighting. If a massage is going to help you, it will be in large part because it was delivered by someone who specialises in sport science and stays abreast of the literature on things like mechanotransduction (the process by which soft-tissue pressure and stretching promotes immune and biochemical responses).

Ask for recommendations and interview different therapists. You’re after something more akin to a medical treatment than a spa day.

Find a middle ground

Clearly you want more than gentle caressing. But, as Young points out, “if you’re grabbing onto the table and crying, that’s probably doing damage.” One study on massage found that overly vigorous sessions increased muscle damage. It has also been shown that the degree of pressure has an impact on the balance between inflammation-promoting and repair-promoting macrophages.

Work your way up

Our veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. Massaging against blood flow can damage these valves and cause varicose veins. Make sure the therapist works your arms and legs in the direction toward your heart.

Don’t wait too long

The immunological benefits of massage appear to be greatest when treatment takes place within two hours of damaging exercise. If you can’t fit one into that window, plan for no later than the next day. Macrophages shift from inflammatory to repair mode 48 hours after muscle damage occurs. Inhibiting them with massage when they’re in this mode could be counterproductive.

Mind the pills

The same rules apply to painkillers. NSAIDs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen block inflammation, which can be good or bad, depending on where your balance is at. While researchers still debate their effects on training, there is growing evidence.

This includes a well-cited study from Denmark in the Journal of Applied Physiology, showing that NSAIDs taken post-exercise by male endurance athletes inhibit satellite cell activity, which is critical to muscle repair and super-compensation.

Don’t ignore the other stuff

Massage doesn’t replace things like cool downs, recovery rides, and stretching — all of which are backed by extensive research. In fact, a 1983 study out of Sweden published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that stretching was more effective for recovery and range of motion than massage in healthy male volunteers.

But don’t exercise after massage

No study has found benefits to pre-workout massage. Hard exercise does further damage and would undo any potential immunological gains from massage.

Yes, use your foam roller

The rabbit study that found benefits to muscle repair used a mechanical massager that was more like a foam roller than a regular massage. (Apologies if you were envisioning lab assistants pampering rabbits on little bunny massage tables.)

Two recent studies showed that foam rolling reduces soreness and allows runners to restore their full sprint speed sooner. Higher density foam with bevels appears to increase the effects.

Tune out

Physiological benefits or not, there’s no denying a massage can be good for the soul. “Sometimes it’s just nice to sit there and force yourself to think about the race,” Young says. (We also like thinking about nothing at all.)


We offer either one to one or group coaching throughout the season at our Northwood venue. Please contact us at admin@herculesevents.com for availability and bookings.

Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing 



Threshold Pace Workouts

Gain Running Strength & Speed with Threshold Pace Workouts


If you want to become a stronger, faster and more powerful runner, than you should be including lactate threshold (LT) sessions into your running regime.

If you haven’t had an LT Test I’d recommend getting one to help you learn your training zones. Knowledge is power! If it’s not convenient to get an LT test now, then base your LT on your best 10km running pace.

Working at your threshold or LT pace requires much greater mental tenacity and fortitude. When you are running at your threshold pace your breathing rate rises, heart rate increases, leg muscles become slightly heavy due to the muscle acidity accumulation, balance, coordination are all under the supreme test. Training at your threshold also allows you to work through and become familiar with the stresses on race day as well.

Remember if you train your body and mind to become accustomed to these symptoms you’ll be better prepared than most of your competitors.

An added long-term benefit of LT training is not only tolerating the physiological and psychological variables noted above but also this type of training enhances your body’s “clearing” mechanism that handles high levels of lactic acid and converts it back to energy!

Quite often during racing in all three disciplines there are accelerations that will go above your threshold or LT pace. If you’ve done the training like the workout below, once you get back to your race pace, your clearing will work like magic!

You’ll feel ready and able to maintain your pace rather than be dropped.

This is simple and effective run session to use as a foundation to start training at your threshold pace. You’ll find you’ll become a stronger more economical runner if you stay consistent with this type of training.

Try to incorporate an LT/Threshold session once a week in your overall regime. I’ll be including additional threshold sessions in the coming weeks as well.

We offer either one to one or group coaching throughout the season at our Northwood venue. Please contact us at admin@herculesevents.com for availability and bookings.

Coach Grainge of SSIU Racing 




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.