Finals, Lakes 110km, Junior Dr?

Busy few months. Understatement.

Grab a brew, have a read.

The first half of the year was mainly spent working towards passing final exams for medicine and my ‘A’ race: 110km Ultimate Trails in the Lake District; whilst finding commercial sponsors for SPEAR17 and planning all the nutrition for the expedition… I had to be pretty sensible and prioritise medicine, and with the Antarctica Traverse looming, training for the race was going to be a bit different.

A few things had to change:

  • stress: I was going to be stressed enough studying for finals. I didn’t need to make things worse by worrying about running too much
  • weight: I needed to NOT lose weight. I wasn’t trying to gain weight per se, but I certainly wasn’t trying to lose it. I’ll need a lot of mass for the winter, so although being light will have helped during the race (sort of), it would’ve lessened my chances for Antarctica…which is slightly more hostile than the Lake District. Also, losing weight is another stress on the body, so we (the team at the Bosworth Clinic, coach Phil and I) decided it would be best not to
  • strength: this is often overlooked by ultra runners anyway, but I needed to keep up good strength training so I didn’t miss the boat training for Antarctica
  • time: I had very little of it

So we had a bit of a challenge; to try and make best use of the little time that I had to train for quite a hefty ultra whilst not impacting on studying. I had to be quite disciplined to make it happen, as I eluded to in the Week in a life of blog, and concentrate on keeping healthy by eating and sleeping well.

In the weeks leading up to finals I ran the XNRG Pony Express , a 60mile 2day race in the New Forest. It was there more for enjoyment and to have something to concentrate on other than studying, after which I could put running to bed for a few weeks during exams. Unsurprisingly I didn’t feel fit at all during it, and it was struggle both days. I came 4th by 5mins, which, given the circumstances, was OK.

XNRG Pony Xpress Stoten

C/O XNRG. Terrible photo caught half drinking half smiling…

After that we were straight into finals, then all of a sudden I’m walking away from my final exam, after 5 years of medicine, 8 years of university and, unless I’d failed, soon to be starting in the real world.

I’d picked up a dodgy hip during exams – I blame all the sitting – which was annoying as I’d planned to spend all summer running in the mountains. I had a couple of visits to the Bosworth Clinic to try and get it sorted, and head to the mountains anyway. What ensued was pretty much a month of running more and more in fantastic places, in what can only be really recorded in photos:

Time spent in the Peak District, Brecon Beacons and 10 days of hard training in the Alps got me in pretty good condition to head into the Lake District 110km race, which although I was much heavier than I’d like to race at, I felt very fit for.

Setting off at midnight I’d planned to cruise for the first 50-60km, before putting my iPod in, slowly winding up the pace and attacking at the back end of the race. I was confident I could get a good performance out of myself after those long days in the Alps, and wanted a top 10 finish, but didn’t know how long it’d take to get round the course. Usually, training in Bournemouth, the climbs would’ve been a huge worry, but having just spent a fortnight on much bigger climbs I was actually quite excited to get stuck into them.

I stuck exactly to plan and settled into a comfortable pace for the early hours of the morning. A lot of people set off fast, what seemed unreasonably fast. I knew there would be some good runners here, but this amount of people at that pace was ridiculous. I didn’t worry myself with what everyone else was doing, and enjoyed cruising around during the night. We came off one climb about 2/3am and one of the volunteers at the aid station asked how the ‘brutal climb’ was? This gave me a lot more confidence – it was pretty chilled! Clearly working hard day-in-day-out in Chamonix on course like their vertical km only that week had put me in great shape.

lakes110elevation

110kms, 3374m ascent/descent

 

I came through the first couple of aid stations in 30th ish place, didn’t panic and kept at a relaxed pace. The sun slowly came up showing off the lakes and bit by bit I took places. The weather was pretty harsh at times, with very high winds and cold piercing rain up top, but I was in pretty good nick. I kept eating and drinking and cruising.

When I came into an aid station just after half way, the volunteer told me I was 6th, and 5th was only a couple of minutes ahead. There were awards for the top 5 (as if I needed more motivation to catch him…), so I put my iPod in at this point. I caught him on a climb then put the hammer down to go past. I had a huge running high at this point and felt like I was FLYING! Amazing to feel like this again. I hadn’t felt this good in such a long time, especially when racing. I finally felt like I could run on and on.

The difficult part now was I still had about 50km of pretty difficult terrain to get over, and had 4/5 people nipping at my heels the whole way. I had some pretty low moments in the last 30km where I felt I could hardly move and just wanted to lie down and go to sleep, but knew I’d let myself down doing that. The weather kept switching between downpours and the high winds stayed to keep us on our toes over the high, wet slippy ground.

Ollie Stoten 110km lake district

C/O Ultimate Trails. Lake District 110km

I was still in 5th coming into the last aid station with about 10km to go, and aid 6th and 7th come in immediately after me. They looked pretty fresh, but I knew I could dig deep to the end. I was hoping to a fast and flat run into the finish, which wasn’t the case. Each step hurt; I had a blister on one of my toes burst with about 5k to the finish. It was a sudden sharp and burning pain, making me run funny for a while, pushing my legs closer and closer to refusing to move and stiffening up, with the soles of my feet so sore from all the sharp rocks of the day.

As I descended into Ambleside I had another huge running high, and even though there was no-one around to share it with, I came into the village with a lot of pride as it’d been a hard day out but I’d got through it in a good state. I thought about my Dad a lot during that race, and imagined him coming out to see me run well and support me. He passed away last summer, but was my biggest supporter and had helped me from the beginning of this strange hobby, even though he had no interest in running.

After the race I had planned to take a week off before turning all my concentration towards Antarctica. I popped over the Iceland to help out Olly Hicks with some logistics on his Greenland to Scotland Challenge, so spent a week driving round Iceland in a 4×4 exploring the place and sleeping in my small racing tent. Stunning country.

That takes us up the end of July, as I start work in the real world. A week of shadowing and inductions as a junior Dr: so far so good.

I’m very glad I spent that time off well; I went to some amazing places, and thoroughly enjoyed running properly again. Now we’re 100% focussed on training for Antarctica, back in the gym working hard and eating hard to get strong enough and fat enough for the Traverse…

Finally, a huge thank you to the Bosworth Clinic for keeping me healthy, Tri Training Harder for coaching and supporting me, High5 for providing racing fuel and VeloChampion for clothing me, I couldn’t do it without you all.

A very different off season…

By this time last year I’d been running hard for 4 months, had the race of my life at Country to Capital, raced OK at XNRG’s Pilgrim Challenge and been out for the Tri Training Harder Team launch in Portugal.

This year has been very different.

In January we went to Norway for the final phase of selection for the SPEAR17 expedition, so I had to train very differently. I finished Autumn 100 in October reasonably fit (and very tired) but I needed a lot more strength if I was going to survive selection for the expedition team.

After a bit of a tough year I needed a fair amount of time to recover, mentally more than anything, and get to grips with medicine to do this degree some justice. I started working on movement patterns to lay the foundations to become ‘anti-fragile’, then got back in the gym to build some strength. I slowly brought a little running back in to tick over, not that I needed to be a fast runner for Norway, but I needed a solid CV fitness and wanted to regain some ground ready for the year’s racing.

For New Year we stayed in the Lake District in a youth hostel with a group of the better half’s family friends which was great fun: as an outdoorsy bunch we hit the fells for a good few hours of toddling around every day, and served as a reminder of how much I loved off-road running, fells and endurance.

Lake District New Year 15

My body (I?) seemed to quite enjoy strength training and being more relaxed about eating; I put on muscle quite easily, and didn’t seem to put on much more fat. It was great not trying to loose weight over christmas and made the whole affair much more relaxed. January last year I was at my lightest and fastest ever, but the cumulative stress of trying to shed weight + all sorts else was just too much and pushed me over the edge. Since then I’ve pretty much maintained the same body composition, until trying to put on muscle recently.

I also started getting very interested in carbohydrate vs fat metabolism, and the potential benefits of becoming “fat adapted” for low intensity endurance exercise. I won’t be geeky here. For the geeky version, have a listen to the second InDurance podcast (alternative fuel for sport health & performance) :

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/indurance-alternative-fuel/id1049441803?i=358733051&mt=2

In short, I switched my diet to ‘High Fat Low Carbohydrate’ (HFLC) which is a pretty trendy thing at the moment. Anecdotally I found I could maintain energy levels for longer, but couldn’t do high intensity stuff. Thats pretty much the consensus in the sporty scientific world about HFLC; it could just be a trend at the moment but there is a lot of interesting questions to be asked here.


Polar selection

I had a toxic mix of excitement and nerves leading up to this. I had a fairly important medical exam the day before we left, but this was completely overshadowed by my apprehension about two weeks of Arctic training in Norway. I’d never operated in that kind of environment before, let alone performed.

The purpose of the exercise was twofold:

1: learn polar routine

2: final team selection

A lot was riding on this. I’d been working towards getting on this team for a long time, and it will be a life changing experience. We had 9 people going to Norway, but the expedition plans at the moment are to take 6; the boss had to choose who the 6 would be, and who would be the reserves ready to step in if something goes wrong.

It was a pretty punishing two weeks. Daily routine pretty much went like this:

  • wake up in a freezing cold tent full of hoar frost; move around as carefully as possible to stop the ice falling down from the roof soaking and freezing everything
  • get the cooker going – start melting snow for water. You had to become a cooker ninja and masterchef
  • use the hot water for our dehydrated meals and fill up 2 x litre flasks for the day
    • don’t let the water boil as the steam condenses on the tent roof and freezes everything…
  • roll around putting kit on one person at a time trying not to be too much of a tent rhino
    • 3 men per tent becomes pretty tight in these conditions…
  • pack all kit away, including sleeping bags which have now frozen solid
  • tent down, pack all kit into pulks; scrape ice off skiis and pulks
  • ski for 7-10hrs (thats the tiring part…)
  • stop every hour for a quick handful of food from your grazing bag, and a swig of water from thermos
  • finish the day, tent up, reverse of the morning routine with added foot and general maintenance
  • get into sleeping bag, now frozen solid, and try to thaw it out
  • be freezing cold all night. Wake up all the time shivering violently
    • this is a contentious point…some of the guys managed to generate thousands of joules of heat, and were pretty warm at night with dry sleeping bags. I seemed to get mine soaked from hoar frost (hopefully not urine) at the beginning of the exercise, and never dried it out. This provided great morale for everyone else
  • repeat

Blue morning

This routine was quite taxing and soon our appetites had sky rocketed. We wanted to eat everything in sight. I was pretty happy I’d filled my grazing bag with fatty foods (nuts, dark chocolate, biltong) but craved variety. I had measured everything out before I went and split it into separate identical bags, each with 3267 kCals, which I got closer and closer to finishing as each day passed. Some other guys had taken salami and cheese, which usually wouldn’t turn my eye, but I found myself craving it. I didn’t crave sugar at all, maybe partly to do with having such a low carbohydrate intake leading up to the exercise, or the fact that our bodies were tuning into the low intensity for long periods fuel of choice?

Anyway, I managed to get onto the team, am now back on solid ground and pretty much recovered from my zombified state. I had another rather important exam when I got back, so have been non-stop on the go all January. So some well deserved sleep is in order, and I’ve started running again which feels great.

With a big order put in with High5 today, and an appointment booked at The Bosworth Clinic for some prehab / maintenance, its time to switch focus to running again. The main focus over the next few months really needs to be medicine, it’d be silly to ruin it all with only a few months to go, but I’ll be keeping my sanity with some training ticking over.

Its good to be back.

Marginal or Massive gain? 1 – Movement

Summer is over (for me).

No more bronzing myself in true student fashion. Final year has started. Time is squeezed. A routine has been settled back into and I’ve finally started training again. Time to have a good think about what makes the biggest differences in training, and what gives me the best chance of staying healthy and injury free.

Training for and racing multiple ultras a year takes a huge toll on the body and if you’re not careful that progressing stress can creep up on you and completely wipe you out. We sadly see endurance athletes burn out far too often.

As time goes on and I learn more about myself and about training, I’ve learnt smart training isn’t about logging more and more miles; smart training is about prehab and health.

What am I talking about?

prehab –> stopping injuries before they happen; as opposed to recovering from injuries. Then developing more strength with better movement patterns. Movement ‘slings’ and accessory muscles are fashionable concepts in gyms these days with everyone starting to do weird and wonderful crossfit-esque exercises, but the simple truth is that if you want to do a complex movement like running, you cannot work muscles in isolation. The right muscles must be activating in the right order, with sufficient strength and endurance to work for hours on end, still working properly when pelting downhill putting huge amounts of force through them. 

The better the movement pattern, and the stronger the muscles, the less running form will degrade over time, letting you run further faster. Point made?

health –> if you stay healthy, mentally and physically, then consistency can follow. And we all know consistency is hugely important for progression. Healthy = happy. 


So how am I going about trying to get these two crucial components in order?

I’m going to split this into 4 parts so we can all come up for air in-between:

1- Movement

2- Health

3- Nutrition

4- The mental game



Lets deal with basic movement first:

My flexibility is rubbish, and was even worse a few years ago. I was far too stiff to be capable of getting any proper movement. I can’t swim and I can hardly cycle, but I have got just about enough flexibility now to get a good endurance-style running gait. I’ve had to work it a huge amount, but flexibility isn’t the main problem. It doesn’t matter than I can’t touch my toes, and look stupid in a yoga class.

The crux of the issue is being able to hold the right joints in the right places, allowing the right muscles to be recruited in the right order. Right?

Fire my glute max (bum) to act as a powerhouse, glute med and its friends to hold my hips, and work with bits of my quads to stop my knees collapsing and making them strong enough to take the huge shock-absorbing loading of running downhill.

Or to think of a different bit of the running gait: ‘toe-off’ at the end of the stride is hugely important, and if you can’t use your big toe properly, let alone the rest of your feet and calves, you’ll lose power and speed.

What about if you’re on a rocky unstable trail? What about all those accessory muscles in your legs to keep your strong and upright?

Just think, if you can’t balance on one leg happily in your comfy lounge, what hope have you got over difficult terrain with strong side winds?

After I hit a plateaux in training a few years ago around the South Downs Way 100 miler I went to see an excellent team of physios and S&C coaches to get some advice on where I was going wrong. After they’d stop laughing at my lack of any discernible ability to do anything vaguely athletic whilst trying to run monster marathons, they stopped me in my tracks, changed my ingrained rule-book of how training worked, and re-built me from the ground up to work as a body, as opposed to a sack of jumbled bones.

I’d (typically) dug myself into a pretty big pit of poor technique, lack of stability and strength, and had to put a lot of remedial work in to get any improvement.

Since then, I’ve tried to get 20-30mins of prehab-type work in every day to keep myself moving properly. Now I’m not angel at this, and of course I go through periods when I’m rubbish at keeping up with it, but my best running improvements come when I’m keeping it up.

The key with developing good movement patterns is perfect practice. We all know that “practice = perfect” is a load of rubbish, because if you repeatedly do something badly, you’ll learn to do it badly. So take that single leg squat, and learn to do it perfectly before you do it repeatedly, and before you stick weight on your back. 

There is this great concept in neuroscience called ‘synaptic plasticity’, whereby the more you use certain parts of the brain, certain neuronal pathways, the more sensitive those neurones become to being excited and firing, and the more ingrained a pathway becomes. Its essentially like a trail in your local woods: no-one uses it during the winter except hardcore trail runners, so its overgrown and hardly visible. Slowly more and more people use it during the summer (teenagers first searching for a place to drink underage, then everyone else setting up BBQs) and the vegetation gets trodden down, dies back and an obvious path is left. If the path sets off in the wrong direction (practice with poor form) you’ll get a well-trodden path that leads somewhere to a smelly swamp. If however those legendary trail runners have laid down a path to an awesome viewpoint (perfect practice), you’ll get a nice wide path to a great place (that perfect squat…that actually engages the muscles its meant to work…).

Ideally good movement patterns should be ingrained during the off-season / beginning of the season, so you can progress to develop raw strength early in the season, turning that strength to strength-endurance and power later in the season, giving you the speed to set the course on fire.

I’m not great at all this but I’m trying, and season by season I get a little faster, a little less injured and a little more capable. If you want to take your sport seriously, or have a pain-free and fun time of it, take the time now to invest in your future, engage the correct muscles and use them to your advantage.


Neglect prehab at your peril.


Physiotherapist: Gordon Bosworth (The Bosworth Clinic)

S&C coach: Paul Ledger (The Bosworth Clinic/Performance Solutions)


Next time: a few ideas about how to look after your health, especially when searching for an edge

Getting moving again

So in the midst of trying to get back to running I had booked a couple of weeks abroad with my partner-in-crime for a well earned mix of sun, chill and training. I had intended to be running around like a boss covering huge distances but that obviously wasn’t going to be the order of the day. What ensued instead was a fierce re-introduction to cycling (doubling my 2015 total distance in the first couple of days), some hardcore resting and an easy bit of running.

We opted to stay with the Tri Training Harder family, as we know that the whole package going on out there is awesome, and we’d be able to do as much or as little as we wanted.

Running

(most important things first)

It was a little nerve-racking as I am a little afraid of getting injured again, and started to get a little shin soreness as I upped the volume, but a check-in with the in-house physio and her magic wand, Laura, put some of my worries to rest and highlighted some things to work on and wake the legs up from their hibernation.

It felt great to get moving properly again, and although I didn’t do that much running, we still got some nice trails runs along the Via Algarviana, a route I am falling in love with, and a track session where I was pleasantly surprised to not feel that slow….all things considered.

DCIM100GOPRO

Cycling

Turns out cycling is actually quite fun, who’d have known? It was a great way to keep the legs ticking over and work the engine. As I’m strictly a fair-weather cyclist this can cause problems in the UK but we were treated to pretty good weather most of the time. I did spent the fortnight drafting the better-half and still being dropped on the hills, but there were quite a few guests out staying with TTH, so I was a similar ability to some of the others so was never particularly lonely. This was one of the great things about the camp/holiday that TTH run: there are plenty of coaches out on each session (bike/run) so the group can split down into different abilities, and each of those abilities will have a few coaches, so you never get left behind to cycle on your lonesome. They are however ridiculously tanned by this point in the season, making me somewhat jealous, and have cultivated the most outrageous legs so trying to beat them up hills was fruitless.

The roads are quiet and smoothly tarmacked, the views stunning, and the little coffee shops full of super cheap cake and espressos. Perfect. It was a little shock to the system coming home and cycling round Surrey and Hampshire….

Swimming

HA! No way will you catch me doing that. I opted to stay in bed, watch from the beach or sun myself on the balcony instead.

DCIM100GOPRO

Resort

‘The Residences’ where we stayed is stunning. Its a 5* resort, with luxurious apartments to stay in, several swimming pools if you’re that way inclined, full use of the adjacent hotel’s facilities including the spa – the only place I was to be found submersed in water. Each day the in-house chefs had cooked a delicious dinner and left it in the apartment, and stocked the cupboard and fridge for breakfasts and dinners. Swanky stuff.

Master Bed 1 Res pool from top 2(3) residence puglia(1)(1)

Overall we had a great time, and it feels SO GOOD getting moving again. We’re not fully there yet, but on the road to recovery.

InDurance – Initial thoughts

InDurance is one of my little projects. Something on my mind that I’m hoping will develop and grow into a much bigger project.

What is InDurance?

InDurance is the crossroads between health, technology and performance. It is the brainchild of a sports medic, looking to take the guess-work out of performance and the health of normal athletes, weekend warriors, part timers, not just elites.

The idea of using blood biomarkers to determine when you are healthy and can train, versus when you are overstepping the mark and really should take a step back. Sure, intuition and common sense can tell you this. But intuition and common sense can only go so far. 

There are times when you might be under performing and you just can’t understand why. Or when training and racing is going really well, and you’re wondering how much more is left in the tank to keep pushing.

Elite athletes may have this ingrained/learned mechanism to tell them when to let off, but not all of us have developed that yet. I’m not saying I’m some gung-ho lunatic, but there is a fine line between pushing boundaries and overstepping them.

Why am I bothered? – athlete Ollie

I’ve certainly walked that line before. Recently.

So this idea appeals to me. The idea that we might be able to use blood biomarkers to give us an idea when we are just tired from cumulative training stress, but still plenty left in the tank, or tired because our immune system is drained, and if you carry on you’ll get man flu (a very serious condition, women – do not underestimate this).

Some biological things are easily fixable, and some things aren’t.

Low iron stores? Well that could be form a variety of problems, but not eating enough is pretty damn fixable. Low vitamin D? Again, diet and sunlight exposure = get outside and eat more yummy fish. So if these things are so easily fixable, but have the potential to be so destructive to your performance, why not measure them and fix them?

Rubbish genes? Thats something you can’t change. You’re born with them; they’ve been pretty set in stone since that time your Mum and Dad….well…. you get my point. So if you can’t change them, why measure them?

Yes there is the epigenetics argument for super-geeks, but this isn’t on a day-to-day month-by-month scale; just stay healthy, don’t smoke and at least you’re children and children’s children will have a good chance.

Why am I bothered? – geeky Ollie

This is pretty damn interesting stuff. Can we catch problems before they manifest themselves into something truly nasty?

This is prehab. And prehab is arguably The Don of all medicine. Prevention is better than cure. How many lives are saved by vaccinations every year? How many heart attacks and strokes are prevented by diet and exercise?

But what about prevention in the world of the elite athlete, and more importantly, the world of the weekend-warrior athlete. Elites have teams of people around them to keep them healthy. Weekend-warriors don’t, and are the people most affected by poor diet, poor sleeping hygiene, poor training balances; all preventable (and curable…) problems that just aren’t being picked up because…well because you haven’t got a team of professionals around you fussing about your health.

This is where I think InDurance really has legs. I’d love to see it prevent problems: prevent weekend-warriors’ training and racing going down the pan, just because they didn’t know any better. More selfishly, prevent me becoming unwell, and allow me to leave no stone unturned in the search of running far and fast. Come with me on this journey?

Give blood, please.

We have busy lives. Training, working, playing. Fit, healthy individuals, full of ambition and energetic pursuit.

We don’t often get to see the other side.

We don’t often get to see that trauma patient, a mother, sister and daughter, caught in a traffic accident, who has lost most of their blood volume, teetering on the edge of life and death.

That man with cancer, holding their child’s and wife’s hands, together fighting this disease, now desperately in need of blood for some precious time.

That child with leukaemia; that child who is yet to live a life, innocently staring up in hope.

We, as athletes, don’t often get to see how crucial freely available blood is, how much it can help sick people. 

We meticulously plan, train, eat, sleep in search of that bit more performance, another race, another experience. But some people just aren’t as lucky as us. Yes we’ve fought for it, but so have they. And they’re fighting now. For their life.

Our blood, something to simple, so easily available, so replenishable, so completely free.

We’re the kind of people that would do extreme events and challenges for charity, raising money and awareness. So why wouldn’t we do something so simple to save a life?

Time is the most precious commodity in this world; we have it, they don’t. You can give it to them.

Let’s be role models. Show people a healthier, more vibrant, free, invigorating way of life. But without blood, some people just can’t have this life we are fortunate to lead, no matter how much they may want it.

Have I got your attention now? Then read on.

What about training?

Donating blood will affect your training, briefly.

A normal blood donation is just under a pint (470mls), about 13% of your blood volume.

So what’s in blood? Plasma – the fluid; red blood cells – which take oxygen around the body; white blood cells – part of the immune system to fight off nasties; platelets – which help the blood to clot; and proteins and other bits and bobs.

Although you can replace your volume very quickly, replacing all the cells takes a bit longer. Your white cells and platelets will return pretty quickly but it can take a few weeks for your red cells to be replaced.

Millions of red blood cells are made in the bone marrow and released into the bloodstream every day replacing old knackered cells. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen around your body. To make red blood cells and haemoglobin constantly, you need a healthy bone marrow, iron, and other nutrients and vitamins which we get from food.

Some of this haemoglobin and iron is lost in each donation, so to compensate, your body mobilises some stored iron, and increases the amount absorbed from food and drink. If you don’t recover properly afterwards, your iron levels could fall leaving you with an iron deficiency… which if not corrected, could lead to reduced haemoglobin levels, and iron deficiency anaemia. This will leave you feeling pooped.

Don’t panic, its easy to recover

With a healthy balanced diet, getting enough iron shouldn’t be a problem.

You can help boost your iron levels by eating a variety of iron-rich foods, such as lean red meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, brown rice, lentils and beans. Perfect. A great excuse to have a steak with some leafy green veg for dinner.

You can also easily replace the fluids you’ve lost by drinking lots (of water please, this isn’t an excuse to sink 5 lagers down the local…do that post-race some time) before and after donating.

Back to training

After donating, haemoglobin levels can return to normal anywhere between 20-59 days later. However, you can get back to training much earlier than that. Although I wouldn’t advise training straight after donating, a light session the next day won’t harm and soon you can be back to full training.

If you are stuck into some hard training or in your race season, then I wouldn’t advise donating now, but get yourself registered ready for when all the racing is done, and you’re relaxing during the off-season or getting some base training in.

Where to go

Register now here, or take a look here for your nearest centre.

The process is super quick and easy: you’ll first read a bit of information and do some health screening before getting your haemoglobin levels checked. Once thats done you’ll hop up on a chair (like this cheesy bugger below), get poked with a needle, then its time to sit back and relax. The bag will be full in 5-10mins then its tea and biscuits time before heading home!

Cheesy grin not manditory

I wouldn’t be smiling if it wasn’t easy…

So what are you waiting for? Save a life, give blood.

www.blood.co.uk

Who knows, you might even need some of this good stuff after coming off your bike…

Young, fit, healthy individuals. Perfect blood donors.