22 March 2009

Fun in the forest

I got four more rides in this week, culminating in a nice 100 minute ride this afternoon at the Woodhill Bike Park, in the Woodhill Forest, a large Pine forest about 30 minutes North West of Auckland.


Not Woodhill but you get the idea. Photo by Irargerich

It was my first off road ride with the new clip in pedals. I wanted some off road practice before the Xterra Mountain Bike race in Rotorua next month. I still haven't entered this yet but the consensus from various comments seems to be that I should. Budget constraints have been one reason that I have held off entering to date. May be I should just to my bit for the economy and spend the cash.

The ride went well. I'm still a bit of a novice really at this off road stuff and am by no means a speedster on the downhills. I like the challenge and variety of it though and of course it offers a totally different experience to what most of my rides tend to be on the smooth seal of our roads.

I only had one spill when I lost all forward momentum while tackling a small rise in the wrong gear. Before I knew it, and before a had time un clip my foot from the pedal, I was toppling over sideways and backwards at the same time. I ended up flat on my back, sliding backwards a small way on soft forest floor of sand and pine needles. Fortunately for me there were no trees where I fell or it could have been a bit nasty.

I'm off to Queenstown and Invercargill for work next week and my good wife Michelle has invited herself along of the trip. I'll be working on Monday and Tuesday visiting colleagues, but we will be heading down Queenstown, the country's premier resort town, a couple of days early on Saturday. It will be just the two of us with the boys staying with the grand parents for the four days. It will be a great little escape for us just three months out from the arrival of our wee baby girl. I'll be sure to post some photos of the trip.


Photo by Cheetah

I'll end this post with a funny quote from my five year old son Sam. Sam asked me tonight .. "Does your boss watch you to make sure you eat all your lunch?", in reference to his teacher having to watch over her class to ensure all the kids eat their lunch. Oh how things change as we grow up, I think whether I have any lunch would be the least of his concerns.

Have a good week.

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11 March 2009

Arthur Lydiard - Master Coach

I've just finished reading Garth Gilmour's biography, Authur Lydiard - Master Coach. It was a very interesting read about the pioneering coach of some of New Zealand's great middle and distance runners.

I've always known Lydiard was a respected coach and of his link to some of New Zealand's greatest Olympic moments on the track, but having read this book I now have a far greater appreciation of the full extent of what he accomplished, his theories on training and how well respected he is right around the athletic world.

It's not only in running that his methods have proven successful. His system of building up a base fitness by completing a large amount of slow aerobic work in order to boost any athletes endurance in their chosen sport is now pretty much universally accepted as the way to improve performance.

His training methods were self taught and were the result of endless miles of training, looking for what worked best for him. In the end he discovered that he could vastly improve his levels of endurance by running no less than 100 miles per week. Lydiard never sought to be a coach and rather than seeking out athletes, they seemed to gravitate towards him. Lydiard was only too happy to share his knowledge with those that were keen to learn and stay true to his system.

As his success grew, so too did his following and he soon had a whole group of young runners eager to join him and learn his methods. Two of those young runners ended up up being perhaps Lydiard's most famous success stories in Murray Halberg, who won Gold in the 5000m at Rome in 1960, and Peter Snell, winner of the Gold in both the 800m and 1500m in 1960 and again in the 1500m at Tokyo in 1964.

I think it remains one of New Zealand's biggest regrets that no one in those days seemed to appreciate what a truly world class coach we had in Lydiard and sadly in the mid 1960's he was forced to leave the country to pursue his coaching career further. Over the next 40 years Lydiard travelled the World spreading his word and training champions not to mention other coaches. There were plenty prepared to line up at seminars to hear the man speak. Even in his final years, right up to his death in fact in 2004, Lydiard was still conducting regular seminars in the United States to packed audiences.

Lydiard's influence was not only felt at Olympic level but he is also regarded as one of the fore fathers of the jogging revolution which has swept the World over the last 50 years. It was Lydiard's view that jogging had such health benefits that he started up the Auckland Joggers club to encourage recreational runners to take up the sport.

Lydiard's friend and fellow coach, American Bill Bowerman, seeing the potential jogging had to improve the health of millions of Americans, took the jogging message back to America and the jogging revolution was soon born.

For some classic early footage of Snell and Lydiard click here. Thanks to Ewen for bringing this fine piece of history to our attention in his blog.

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04 March 2009

Back in the saddle again

I went for my first ride in almost two weeks today following my small op of a few weeks ago.

The ride was just a short five miler, pretty flat, just to ease back into it. I felt no ill effects at all which was pleasing. Legs felt a little weaker but I guess that is to be expected after a couple of weeks off.

Shouldn't be long and I will be back to where I was a month ago. Still thinking about a mountain bike race in Rotorua in April. It's about six weeks ago so I had better make a decision soon.

I just have to decide whether I can justify the cost of taking the family away for a weekend just so I can have a go at some mountain bike race. It would be nice to get away however as this would be a last chance to go away as a family prior to the arrival of our new addition to the family due in June.

We found out a few weeks ago that we will be having a baby girl, which everyone is very excited about. Both Jack and Sam and mum are particularly happy to be getting a baby sister and a long awaited daughter.

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