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From 0 to 1000km ‘Ride as One’ – Multiple Day bike event prep: Choosing the right team

From 0 to 1000km ‘Ride as One’ – Multiple Day bike event prep: Choosing the right team


Well, the last few weeks have seen me starting to clock up a few kms on the new steed, and I’m absolutely loving it. Having purchased the right bike, and being fit to it properly has made a huge difference to my enjoyment on it.

By the way, do you know what the right number of bikes is to own? Apparently it’s N+1, where N= the current number of bikes you have! On hearing this, my wife, Nina, corrected me by saying it’s actually D-1, where D= the number of bikes purchased leading to Divorce papers being filed…. Oops!

But I digress…!… What I’d like to chat to you about in this post is one of the foundations to successful performance in any field: having the right team around you!


As I alluded to in my last post,  my physical endeavours over the years have led to the accumulation of a few scars, and stiff joints – although luckily never a broken bone! Add to this the fact that I’ve just had my 42nd birthday, so my muscles and connective tissues are not quite as subtle as they used to be! Those of you that know me  will have heard me say that I don’t like it when people use age as their excuse, as after all “age is just an accumulation of behaviours” (there you go, I just quoted myself…). However, I would be going against all physiology textbooks if I didn’t grant the fact that we do lose some ‘pliability’ as we age! Throw in the mix the fact that neither of my parents were Olympic athletes or superheroes, so I have to make do with less than impressive sporting genetics. All this just means that I need all the help I can get to stay in good shape!

A large part of this help comes from a great team of Allied Health professionals, which in my case includes a chiropractor, a couple of physiotherapists (with different areas of expertise), a podiatrist, and the input from my trusted Exercise Physiology team at iNform! Oh, and once in a while, a psychotherapist helps ensure I don’t take my kid-like sporting loves across to other areas of my life! So as you can see, I’ve got all bases covered!!

But this is should not just be the case just  for someone of my age or older trying to tackle all that life has to offer, but also for the younger athlete wanting to maximise their performance. My experience in Strength and Conditioning, and a short stint in coaching runners showed me that a key to long term success is strongly correlated to one’s commitment to being supported by the right people at the right time. Quite simply, the harder you want to push yourself, the more likely it is that little cracks will appear. And these need to be well managed, and managed early, to avoid significant set-backs down the track.

So, moral of today’s story: Get the right team around you… in every area of life. To run a successful business we use business coaches, marketing consultants, financial planners, accountants, etc. So why should your body and active pursuits be any different?? If you want or need more guidance on this, drop me a line, as helping our clients manage these teams is one of the key things we do!


As I mentioned earlier, these last couple of weeks have seen my riding increase a bit! In fact, on Saturday we had our first ride as a group with some of the Ride As One group! It was great to meet some of the people I’ll be sharing these journey with, and we did a nice 60km loop around Adelaide! The downside of the last couple of weeks has been a bit of a dichotomy between having been swooped a few times by magpies who seem to be out in full force at the moment with the coming of spring; but also, a lot of rain which makes it feel like winter is holding on for as long as possible! To help deal with the weather side of things (any advice welcome on how to deal with the magpies! Other than being told to toughen up!) I’ve logged a couple of long mountain bike loops that are looking after the strength in the legs just nicely!!

This is a nice segway to next week’s topic – one of the key principles towards avoiding injury and enhancing training longevity and enjoyment: Variety!

And don’t forget to sponsor the ride at http://my.leukaemiafoundation.org.au/iNformMaxMartin17

High Intensity Interval Training: So why all the hype?

Workout trends come and go, and one of these that is getting a lot of attention is High Intensity Training (HIT). The attention, such as that in television shows like Catalyst and Michael Mosely’s ‘The truth about exercise’ (claiming that 6 minutes of exercise per week is all that we need) is largely well deserved, but as with anything, there are always two sides to the story. Let’s start with some definitions and then make sure we end up with a balanced and informed perspective!

A senior woman and a mature man riding stationary bikes

HIT (High Intensity Training)

High Intensity Training (HIT) is the umbrella term given to a number of different high intensity training modalities. The measures used to determine the level of intensity are typically Heart Rate, or a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). To qualify as high intensity, Heart Rate needs to be be over 70% of maximum heart rate (if you don’t know what yours is from personally testing it, it can be calculated by substracting your age (in yrs) from 220); and the exercise needs to be considered to be ‘hard’, or around 5-6 on an RPE scale, where 1 is “very, very easy”, and 10 is “maximal”.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT involves alternating short periods (Intervals) of work and rest over the duration of a session. The intervals can be programmed in different ways, with their length and actual intensities varying to meet the desired demands. For example, the lengths and intensities of the ‘work’ intervals can range very widely, to address either the anaerobic threshold, or maximal anaerobic power. Similarly, the rest period can be performed as active or passive rest.

HIRT (High Intensity Resistance Training)

A close member of the family, HIRT is based on the well researched varieties of cardiovascular based HIT training, but is performed largely with ‘weights’. So the work intervals may be made up of exercises that you may be more used to seeing in a gym floor, such as squats, lunges, presses, kettlebell swings, etc.

So, why would we bother with these types of training, and how do they compare to more traditional training methods?

Studies consistently show that HIIT improves metabolic health markers and fitness measures. For example Irving et al. (2008, Med Sci Sport Exerc) found that after 16 weeks of exercise, women with Metabolic Syndrome lost twice the amount of weight and fat mass, and four times the amount of fat around the abdomen when compared to those who did the same amount (isocaloric) of low intensity training. These type of studies strongly show that when it comes to energy in, or out, the amount of calories (or kilojoules) themselves are less important than the hormonal response that is created; with suggested mechanisms to explain this difference including improved insulin sensitivity and cortisol levels. More on the hormonal effect on energy in and out on weight management on a blog coming out soon!

High intensity training has been shown to reduce the risk of dying prematurely by up to 17% compared to those who do no HIT (Tanasescu et al, 2002, J Am Med Assoc), and after only one training session a week! Other often cited benefits include: reduce subcutaneous fat; improved insulin sensitivity; total body mass; aerobic fitness; blood pressure and glucose regulation; improved lipid profiles; and greater tolerance to stress! phew, great list!!

In addition, different varieties of HIT may be seen as more attractive exercise options, due to the opportunity to gain greater health benefits in less time. For those who lack motivation it may be a more enticing option than the prospect of continuously exercising for an extended period of time.

Bartlett (et al. 2011) found that the ratings of perceived enjoyment (yes, “enjoyment”) after HIIT were higher when compared to moderate intensity training. Considering that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation, this seems too good to be real, right?! Well, perhaps.

There’s certainly some things that we need to be aware of:
While the physiological  effects are evident, the duration of most studies is very short, with very short follow-ups, and largely in unhealthy populations. The long-term effect of has not been well established and if I was to take a guess I would say that eventually there would be a decreased return on investment.  A yet to be published (large scale) study looking at physical activity trends in Australia shows that more Australians are performing vigorous physical activity; but less low-moderate physical activity; and the amount of sedentary time continues to increase. It appears that while HIIT is certainly more time efficient, the less time we spend moving the more opportunity we allow for sedentary time. This might help explain the increasing rates of Type II diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease, as it is well accepted that the negative physiological effects of sedentary time can cancel out and even outweigh the physiological benefits of exercise.

In addition, by its very nature, high intensity exercise carries a greater risk of injury, particularly for those new to exercise, so careful and guided progressions are recommended!

To conclude, other than the imbalance that is created between active and sedentary time, by shortening exercise time, I believe there is another significant issue with the way that research on HIT training is communicated to the public. The type of reporting seen in the media only reinforces the mindset that exercise is like some nasty medicine that we need to take, so we are best off pinching our nose and getting it over and done with as fast as possible! Surely the message should rather be one of promoting an active lifestyle, and that HIIT training can be a fantastic adjunct to that?  Our body is the machinery that we have to go out and experience the world in and with, and the broader and deeper our physical capabilities, the wider the range of experiences  we can potentially have. While High Intensity Training can certainly help us improve some specific health measures, does it help us live our lives more fully?

Written By Max Martin

The importance of goal setting!

Life can be chaotic, unpredictable and at times overwhelming. We can often get consumed in our own routines and a little bit lost. The simplest task can seem like sending flowers to the moon.

So how do we make a bit of sense out of our own world and make sure we are progressing and right direction? Goal setting has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to motivate us to achieve a certain task. Goals help us stay focused, allow us to place value on a task and provide us with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Evidence has shown that act of just writing down a goal increases the success rate of achieving them and this exponentially increases when we regularly re-evaluate them. It seems like a very simple task, however not a lot of us actually follow this structure and we wonder time after time why we are not reaching our goals?

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score. Bill Copeland

The first step in goal setting is understanding the importance of them, so here are a few important reasons:

  1. What do you truly want? Goals help us break down the what and why behind our actions and behaviours. For example we may want to lose weight; but why do we want to be a few kilograms lighter?
  2. Be accountable for your own happiness and expand on failure. Success and failure is a part of life. Take control of these circumstances by making a plan of action! Goals help you stay on track and move forward in the right direction. There is something humbling about looking back and reflecting on things you have achieved no matter how large or small; if you are progressing forward is still a step in the right direction!
  3. Live life to the fullest! When you take the time to set some goals you increase your ability to make the most out of every situation and moment of your life. There is too much to experience in life to push our aspirations to aside. Forming good goals will help you achieve and live the best life you can!

Goals setting can be applied to every aspect in your life whether in your career, what you want to achieve in your personal life or simply what you would like to do in your spare time. We often have these very generalised thoughts such as losing weight, but struggle to clarify how we will go about it.  Goal setting is usually always the first step.

Let yourself dream a little!

Goals help us believe in ourselves, they can be used to fuel your ambition! Make your aspirations a  goal and work towards them everyday. If it is not a goal it is a vague notion of the imagination that will most likely be un achieved.

Have a think! What would I like to achieve? What is getting in my way?  How am I going to achieve it?

Stay tuned for’ How to be SMART about it’ and start forming some ideas today!

Author: Lisa Golder

When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters

November is lung awareness month, a chance for everyone to stop and listen to their breathing. Many of us don’t even think about our breathing until we experience challenges. Alarmingly, one in seven Australian’s die because of lung disease every year! With such a high prevalence it is clear we need to pay greater attention to our lungs. On average we take approximately 23,000 breaths a day or one breath every three to five seconds.

What could you do with just one breath?

The Lung Foundation of Australia have developed a set of questions to assess your lung health and determine whether you may need further investigation. As you read through the following questions think about yourself but also your friends and family. Have they mentioned any of the following?

  • Have a new, persistent or changed cough?lungs
  • Cough up mucus, phlegm or blood?
  • Get out of breath more easily than others your age?
  • Experience chest tightness or wheeze?
  • Have frequent chest infections?
  • Experience chest pain, fatigue sudden weight loss?
  • Are a smoker or ex-smoker?
  • Have you ever worked in a job that exposed you to dust, gas or fumes?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions a follow up with your GP is advised.

There are many practices we can adopt on a daily basis to help keep our lungs healthy and give us the best chance of avoiding lung disease. If you have a diagnosed lung condition these should also be adopted to best enhance the lungs potential and prevent worsening of symptoms.

Tips for healthy lungs:

  • Aim for smoke free! This includes passive smoking.
  • Enjoy fresh air daily
  • Protect yourself at work from dust particles, chemicals and fumes
  • Stick to safe products in the home
  • Partake in regular exercise
  • Be aware of the symptoms and risk factors as listed above

It’s important to know that becoming breathless during exercise is normal. Regular exercise, however, can increase the strength and function of your muscles, making them more efficient. Your muscles will then require less oxygen to move and will produce less carbon dioxide. This leads to a reduction in the amount of air you need to breathe in and out for a given exercise or daily task. Aim to accumulate 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on most if not all days of the week, and 2 sessions of resistance training per week. Help keep your breathing go un-noticed.

Remember to take a moment every day to stop, relax, listen and breathe…


Karla Newman

Man vs. Horse: Two runners, one winner. Who will it be?

horse humanWho would win a foot race between a man and a horse? Sorry if you are waiting for a punchline, it is a legitimate question.

To answer that, a clarifying question is needed- over what distance? Ok, let’s day Melbourne Cup distance- two miles. The race record for the Melbourne Cup is held by Kingston Rule (a horse) at 3min 16.3sec run in 1993. This equates to an average pace of 58.7km/h, or quite fast.

The world record over this distance for humans is 7 min 58.61sec held by Kenyan Daniel Koman since 1997 for the men, and 8min 58.58sec for women, a record held by Ethiopian Meseret Defar since 2007. These times equate to an average pace of 24.1 and 21.4km/h for Daniel and Meseret respectively. In a slow year the best humans in the world over this distance will only be about halfway done when the winning jockey is chatting to Johnny Letts about their victory.

OK, but what if we recruited our fastest human, Usain Bolt, and lined him up? Usain’s average pace for his world record 100m of 9.58sec is 37.58km/h with a top speed recorded at 44.7km/h. If he were able to maintain his best average speed over 3200 metres, he would still take a glacial 5min 7 sec to cover the journey- and unfortunately sprinting flat-out for 5 minutes is physiologically impossible for a human.

So compared to a horse, we suck at running fast.

But what if the distance increased? Others have asked this question, and then taken the next logical step and organised races over marathon distances and beyond to find out. Such events occur in Owens Peak in California, Mingus Mountain in Prescott, Arizona and Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales. These events are often tightly run affairs, with humans and horses frequently swapping the crown from year to year.  So how do we as a species close the gap so dramatically when ultra-endurance is the challenge?

One of the main reasons is that we can cool ourselves effectively through sweating. We do not have to pant to cool our core temperature. Furry land-based animals that do pant are required to slow their pace dramatically or stop altogether to bring the temperature gauge down. This means that a race between a human and horse, or other fur-covered quadruped  is a bit like the tortoise and hare race, with us being like a sweaty tortoise! Interestingly the Lanwrtyd Wells race in Wales has only been won by humans twice, in 2004 and 2007 when conditions were considered ‘hot’. The ability to sweat and hence cool ourselves whilst moving is one fantastic trait that humans have that leads to our tremendous endurance potential. Being upright on two feet is also advantageous as during the hottest part of the day, less our our body’s surface area is exposed to the sun, pretty clever hey?!

This Melbourne Cup there will be a few well-lubricated punters at Flemington who may think they can outrun the horses. They can’t. At least not over the two miles. Get them to continue on for another 20 or so laps of the track and they may be in with a shot. Our runners would just have to ditch the suit and expose their sweaty skin to the elements to really exploit our advantage. Actually, I think a few probably do at the end of race day!

Scott Wood

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