Featured Features

Antioxidants and Endurance Athletes

antioxidantsPeople involved in regular endurance sport training generate huge amounts of things called free radicals as a result of using oxygen to produce energy. These cause damage to DNA, molecules and tissues and this understanding initially poses a potentially confusing question: is exercise bad for you?
Whilst exercise does stress the body, leaving it in a worse state than at the start of a hard/long session, race or event, the recovery is where the magic happens. It is through the recovery from the stress that we become fitter and healthier. During recovery, the body’s natural anti-oxidant defences are stimulated to fight off and destroy all the invading free radicals, while the body also adapts to become stronger resulting in less DNA damage.
Obviously too much DNA damage would always be bad and it is for this reason that there is a limit on how many Ironman – or similar ultra-endurance events – can be raced within a 12-month period for example. However low levels of stress caused through regular training appears to have a positive effect on the body. This vaccination-like reaction is known as Hormesis. Derived from the Greek for ‘to set in motion’, Hormesis goes some way towards explaining how (although the exact mechanism is not fully understood) low levels of stress or toxins have the opposite effect on the body to that of higher levels – a common vaccination, for example, introduces small, controlled amounts of a disease into the body to activate natural defence or repair responses.
Over the last few years it has become clear that many plant foods also have an antioxidant effect. Indeed, dark, red, green and purple fruits and vegetables have been praised for having such a healing effect on cell damage that regular broccoli is thought to half the risk of death in women from breast cancer (see, for example, This is obviously impressive and potentially wonderful news, but for the athletes, does that mean that the dietary plant antioxidants will chase away and destroy the free radicals in the body resulting in lazy bodily defences that undermine the positive effects of exercise? In other words, do endurance athletes need to choose whether to be healthy or adapt well?
No. Firstly, researchers into the positive effects of cherry juice have suggested that even if this was true, plant based antioxidants would likely speed up recovery enough that athletes could train more often causing smaller, but more regular, ‘hits’ of stress to the body which over time could be beneficial. However, more recently, this has actually been tested and what was found was that eating foods high in antioxidants, didn’t do all the work for the body, in fact they boosted the natural free radical fighting antioxidant processes. Interestingly though, supplementation with Vitamin E and C did undermine the physical processes, meaning poorer recovery and adaptation to exercise sessions.
Antioxidants are exactly that, they are anti-oxygen, so, as athletes, we want to eat lots of vividly colours fruits and vegetables that don’t go brown the moment they are exposed to the air. This means that while apples and bananas aren’t rich in antioxidants (although they are rich in many other nutrients), berries, citrus, dark green leafy veg and green tea are all a must for anyone who’s keen on being not just a good athlete, but as healthy as possible – and that should be everyone…
Feature by Joel Enoch.
Joel holds an MSc in Nutrition from Bristol University and BSc Sport Science and coaching from Brunel University, he is a respected educator for SportScotand and launched a Performance Triathlon Squad in summer 2014. In addition to this he is also an accomplished triathlete himself having raced in four European Age Group Championships (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013) three World Age Group Championships (2009, 2010, 2013), the British Super Series and the Outlaw Iron Distance Event. His sponsors include Clif Bar, claireLOGIC Ltd and Zoggs. For more information on Joel’s squad and work see

Featured Features

Tofu Stir Fry Recipe

Tofu Stir Fry

Our Nutritionist Says:

“Tofu is made from soy, the only plant protein to contain all 21 amino acids. This makes it just about the best way for active vegetarians to get all the building blocks they need to adapt to and recover from training. You’ll also get plenty of sodium from the soy sauce and so this is a good post workout meal when intensity and sweat loss has been high.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist -


175g tofu

1tsp light soy sauce

1tsp sesame oil

1tsp vegetable oil

25g egg noodles

100g spinach

40g sugar snap peas

1/2 a red pepper

2 medium spring onions

A handful of cashew nuts

1cm fresh ginger

Chill flakes


1. Mix together the soy sauce and sesame oil. Cut the tofu into 2cm cubes, toss together with the soy and sesame, sprinkle with chilli flakes and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.


2. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions, drain and return to the pan.


3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok until smoking hot. Add the tofu, being careful of the oil ‘spitting’. Stir and cook for 3minutes. Add the cooked tofu to the pan with the noodles.


4. Peel and thinly slice the ginger. Slice the pepper into strips and cook in the wok along with the spring onions, sugar snap peas and ginger for 3minutes.


5. Add the noodles and tofu to the wok; toss together and heat for 1minute. Toss in the spinach and allow to wilt in the heat for a few seconds. Serve.

Download the recipe HERE


Sundried Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Sundried Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Our Nutritionist Says:

“Tasty, simple and relatively cheap; use tomatoes in olive oil to get a good helping of health boosting Omega 3 oils. Western diets contain a large amount of Omega 6 from vegetable oils used in most processed foods and we need to have less of these and more Omega 3 to optimise health… Experiment with different types of sausage, but always buy the best quality. Cheap sausages can contain a lot of fat and other ‘fill’ ingredients.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist -



30g protein

85g carbohydrates

40g fat

10g saturated fat

5g fibre

3g Salt


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding a small pinch of sea salt. Cook the pasta as per packet instruction (reduce by 1 minute for a more authentic al dente Italian style.)


2. Peel the skin from the sausages and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Remove the Sundried Tomatoes from the oil in the jar and chop into small pieces.


3. Gently heat 1tbsp of the sundried tomato oil in a large pan, add the sausage meat and good slowly for 7minutes. When the pasta is nearly cooked, add the remaining sundried tomato oil and the sundried tomatoes to the sausage pan, season with a little black pepper. If you wanted some added ‘bite’ add a small sprinkle of chilli flakes and stir in.


4. Drain the pasta and tip into the pan with the sausage meat and sundried tomato mix; stir together, mix in the chopped parsley and serve.

Download the recipe HERE

Featured Features

To Venice by Bike

To Venice by BikeLast January, I was feeling reckless. The kind of reckless that makes you think, ‘why the hell not?’ and buy bikes and apply for dream jobs and force life to move a little bit faster – I was basically having a midlife crisis at 24.


For years I’d had it in mind to cycle a long way to somewhere. The kind of trip that ‘would be great to do next summer’, but then never happens. But cue a change in circumstance, a change in attitude, and the asking of that wonderful question: ‘Why not?’


I worked out where I wanted to end up – Venice – and what I wanted to see along the way. My planned route would take me through France, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, before cutting south, back into Switzerland, through the Alps and into Italy. I bought a bike (an essential, I figured), I bought panniers and a sleeping bag and solar panels and a helmet. I downloaded all the maps I’d need. And then I trained… 8 months and 2000+ miles of country lanes and rolling hills later, and I was ready.


On August 18 I was stood with my bike and all my gear in a queue of cars and motorhomes, waiting to board a ferry to France. The pipedream was being realised, and it was the oddest feeling.


Day one was 95 miles of small towns and open farmland, followed by a terrifying night ‘sleeping’ in a small wood just outside Arras. I determined never to sleep rough again. There were things in that wood and as much as I told myself they were deer, I’m still not so sure that I lacked human company. Unsurprisingly, I was up early with a little over 100 miles to cover to get to Reims, where a hostel bed and good food awaited.


I had two nights and a full day in the old city, and they were wonderful. I drank champagne; ate like a king, and slept like a baby. On the second evening I followed a tip to go to the Cathedral at 10pm. When I arrived, about 100 others – well stocked with wine and cigarettes – sat or stood around; looking up at the building, lost in the darkness. Then it all sprang to life. The following 20 minutes were a glorious blend of music and projected light and colour, which needed to be seen to be appreciated.


vanice_1The following morning I began four days of hammering through France, hopping from campsite to campsite. Mile after mile of straight roads and rolling inclines. God, those French roads were dull. So dull that, after a couple of days, my sat-nav decided to take me on a much more ‘interesting’ route.


Tarmac was replaced by gravel. I checked the map, but, yeah, that was the road, and yes, it went where I wanted. I ploughed on. By the time the gravel had become dirt track, I was too far down the road to turn back. Woodland replaced farmland, then the road vanished amongst the trees – I made it out, but I never quite trusted my sat-nav again.


After the unexpected beauty of the Alsatian mountains, I made it to Switzerland, and crossed the country in a day. Zürich was my halfway point, and – though my credit card would say otherwise – was just what I needed. I’d covered more than 500 miles in 6 days riding, and needed the rest. My hostel was good; the chocolate was better, and I wasted a day reading by the lake and looking across to the mountains beyond.


On day 9 I set off in great spirits. So what if my morning coffee had cost me 6.90CHF (about £4.50) and I had intermittent, yet crippling, lateral knee pain? It was nothing industrial strength ibuprofen couldn’t fix and I’d cycled to Zürich in a week. I felt awesome!


50 miles later, at the top of my first Swiss mountain, my chipper mood snapped, along with my chain.


Enter Marco, the builder. I’d been talking to him whilst I ate my lunch and I barely had time to thank him for his offer of help before my bike was in his truck and we were on the way to the bike repair shop in the town below. An hour later, I was back at the point where the chain had snapped, a new one fitted, and shaking hands with the modest man who’d saved me a great deal of hassle.


vanice_2Two days later, I’d crossed into Lichtenstein, slept in a barn and was back in Switzerland; steeling myself for what was to come. I was at the foot of Splügenpass – 21 hairpin turns that drag you 7000feet into the air. If you’ve never ridden a high mountain pass, do it: the views are incredible; the feeling indescribable, and when the soundtrack is as good as mine was (Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a feeling’ heads my ‘Mountain’ playlist) the shocking inclines get lost amongst the experience. I reached the top and rolled into Italy.


The following days are a blur of blazing sunshine, lakes, and ferocious storms. I swam in naturally warm water for the first time; I discovered that Italian coffee is €1 a shot, and barely slept because of the weather. I visited cities I hadn’t meant to (Bergamo’s high Medieval plateau was a surprise I’d happily repeat), and got lost on a road network that was being completely overhauled.


When I reached Verona and my B&B on day 16, I’d covered 1000miles with fatigue starting to bite, and by the time I reached Padua two days later I was exhausted, but just 30miles from Venice.


Enter my second chance encounter of the trip. As I cycled around Padua’s impressive main square, I overtook other cyclists who obviously weren’t so desperate for pizza as I was. I rang my bell as I passed. One man didn’t hear. Neither did he look. Neither did he signal before he swung across the road in front of me…


The crash severed my rear cassette’s transmission cable, bent my left handlebar and buckled my front wheel. I was angry beyond words. There wasn’t enough damage to make the bike un-rideable, but it was hassle that a tired man doesn’t need. The police took their report, and my insurers would cover the cost, but my last day’s ride wasn’t the triumphant parade that I’d hope for.


Still, as I crossed the long bridge into Venice, I couldn’t help but let it all sink in. I’d made it. 1140 miles. Job done.


Not quite.


vanice_3It turns out Venice is a maze – a maze that hates two wheels. I arrived to locals gesticulating violently, telling me to dismount. So I walked the final mile and a half, carrying the bike through tight streets and over endless bridges. I battled through the crowds until, finally, at 11:57 – 17days, 23hours, and 57minutes after leaving Calais – I stepped across the finishing line at St Mark’s Square, exhausted and elated in equal measures.


Three days and four trains later I was home. Over three weeks, I cycled across Europe on my own, and arrived home safely at the end. Yeah, I had a crash. Yes, it rained a lot of the time and wasn’t a laugh a minute. But I met people. I saw things, and rode passes and bridges and incredible roads that I may never ride again.


I drank too much coffee, got ridiculous tan lines, and spent more money than I meant to. But it was all worth it. The experience is one I’ll draw from and build on for the rest of my life, and will remind me to always ask the question, ‘why not?’


Feature by Max Howells – More on Max’s adventures at

Featured Features

Chorizo, Pine Nut and Spinach Spaghetti

Chorizo, Pine Nut and Spinach Spaghetti

Our Nutritionist says:

“Everyone should aim to eat a protein of nuts and dark green leafy veg daily because of their health giving nutrients. Along with these, lemon provides load of antioxidants to fix cell damage caused by endurance training so don’t hold back on these ingredients. Olive oil also supports a healthy heart and if you want to reduce the saturated fat content even further, replace chorizo for seasoned chicken.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist -

40g chorizo
Zest of and juice of half a lemon
Pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp virgin olive oil
150g spaghetti
25g pine nuts
125g baby leaf spinach


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding a small pinch of sea salt.  Cook the pasta as per packet instruction (reduce by 1 minute for a more authentic al dente Italian style.)


2. Zest half the lemon and chop finely; mix with juice from half the lemon and stir in olive oil.


3. Chop the chorizo or bacon into small bite-size pieces.


4. Four minutes before the pasta is ready heat a frying pan gently and add the chorizo or bacon to the dry pan – no need for extra oil.


5. As the meat begins to cook toss in the pine nuts to toast. Keep everything moving as pine nuts tend to ‘catch’ and burn.


6. When the pasta is ready put the baby leaf spinach in a colander (keeping a handful of leafs back for serving) and drain the pasta through it to wilt.


7.  Return the pasta and baby leaf spinach to the pan, tip in the chorizo/bacon and pine nuts and mix together with the lemon and oil until the pasta is coated.


8. Serve with the remaining handful of baby leaf spinach on top of the dish.


Download the Recipe HERE


Featured Features

Conditioning for Cyclists

Conditioning your body for exercise is key to avoiding injury and, for cyclists, there are some very key, prominent areas that are commonly injured. More often than not knowing which muscles to stretch and which to strengthen can prevent such injuries. Physiotherapist Claire Warburton looks at some of the most common problems…


Lower Back Pain

This is the most common complaint I’ve seen in cyclists. We all lead very sedentary lifestyles where work often involves long periods of time in a sitting position. This means that our hip flexors become very tight and overactive. This in turn causes the gluteals (your bottom) to be inhibited (not work very well) and you have a muscle imbalance. As the hip flexors originate from your lumbar spine as they become overactive they pull on this and you feel stiff and in pain.


Common Causes: Overactive hip flexors, weak core and gluteals.

Prevention: Stretch your hip flexors, strengthen the core and the gluteals.


Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome

The iliotibial band (ITB) runs from the side of your hip down the outside of the leg and into the front of the knee. If your gluteals are not strong enough then as you push down on the pedals your knees will drop inwards past the midline and the ITB will tighten up in an attempt to stop this. Over time the ITB will become very tight and cause some pain, often at the insertion around the side and front of the knee.


Common Causes: increased side to side pelvis movement in the saddle, weak gluteals, overactive hip flexors.

Prevention: Strengthen the gluteals, roll or stretch the ITB and increase the saddle height.


Hamstrings Strain / Pain

When making the transition from trainers to cleats often the hamstrings will bear the brunt. In trainers all your power occurs when you push down and in cleats you have a much more equal balance between pushing down and pulling up as your feet are fixed to the pedals. Due to this change if your hamstrings are weak or too long or too short then you will feel pain. Commonly this pain is felt in the outside of the hamstrings, close to the head of the fibula bone just below your knee joint.


Common Causes: Weak hamstrings, overactive quadriceps and hip flexors.

Prevention: Stretch the quadriceps and hip flexors and strengthen the hamstrings and gluteals.


Calf Strain / Pain

The calf muscle plays a key role in how much power you can generate when you pedal. A common mistake is to push through the ball of your foot and allow your heel to rise up. When this happens the calf will be held in a shorten position through the push down and pull up phase of your pedal stroke. A good way to be more efficient is pedal as if you are trying to scrape your heel along the ground. There shouldn’t be too much movement from your calf at your ankle as the calf will be lengthened and shortened by the bending and straightening that occurs at the knee.


Common Causes: Incorrect pedal technique, cleats positioned incorrectly and overactive calf muscles.

Prevention: Alter the cleat position, stretch the calf muscles, have a bike fit to assess the pedal technique.


Neck Pain

Again our posture plays a part in how we feel when cycling. When we sit at our computers, iPads, phones we often allow the neck to be held in a sustained position and the shoulders hunch forwards. This causes a lot of stiffness in the upper back and weakness in the deep postural neck muscles. Add this to a poor bike position and you will find you are reaching too much for the handlebars and the neck has to extend more than it comfortably needs to.


Common Causes: Stiffness in the upper back joints, poor bike fit, poor core

Prevention: Roll or stretch the upper back, strengthen the core and neck muscles and have a bike fit to assess your neck position in relation to your reach to the handlebars


Feature by Claire Warburton, Physiotherapist at BodySync – You can follow Claire on Twitter @cawarbu


There are numerous guides to conditioning and strengthening online and Cyclo would also recommend Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Cyclists: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Most from Your Bicycle Workouts by Lisa Purcell, available from


Please note that the above is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to supersede the advice of your own medical practitioner(s). If in doubt always seek the advice of your GP, physiotherapist or other healthcare professional.

Featured Features

Hydration Apps

Adequate hydration can be key to training and racing, but remains surprisingly easy to get wrong with even mild dehydration quickly contributing to a drop-off in performance.  Whilst truly techie solutions such as those being developed by BluFit with their ‘smart’ water bottle, which can communicate and sync to a dedicated app, are still in the pipeline (no pun intended) there are already a number of less complicated solutions for smartphones available. Cyclo filled up a bidon and fired up the phone to put some of the best to the test.



Developed by Sport Physiologist Stephen Fritzdorf, who has worked with the Danish Olympic Team since 2008, Quench is a deceptively simple iPhone app, which allows the user to relatively quickly gauge their hydration requirements. To use Quench you have to weigh yourself (preferably naked) before your training session and input this information along with the amount of water you have in your drinks bottle. Post workout you simply repeat the process and the app tells you four key pieces of information: your hydration status (under-, perfectly- or over-hydrated), how much fluid you need to take on immediately, how much needs to be taken on over the next four hours, and how much would be ideal next time – basically so that you can learn from your mistakes. The interface is clean and crisp and the one thing it aims to do, it does perfectly and without fuss or clutter. Quench, which is free, is available for iPhone only at



A really well designed and frankly quite pretty hydration app, iDrated is basically a log system to record how much you are drinking – and when – with options to prompt you when it feels you are falling below the ideal requirements. It requires relatively little set-up, just the inputting of basic data such as age, weight and ‘exercise level’, before going to work as a sort of water-based diary. The interface and gesture controls are notable with nothing overly complicated to get in the way of reminding you to drink the correct amount at regular intervals and there’s an option to review your hydration status from the last two months – although really techie number-crunches would probably like a liker back-calendar. iDrated is iPhone only and sells at £0.69 – available at


HydrationTemple Wellness and Fitness

As the more expansive app name suggests Temple Wellness and Fitness goes beyond simply measuring hydration and allows the tracking of exercise and fuel intake too. Set-up takes only a few seconds but there’s plenty of customisation to be done should you wish – for example it’s possible to redefine a ‘small meal’ as whatever calorific value you see fit or change fluid measurements from ounces to litres; for a fee of 69p you can also pick a different graphic ‘theme’ for the app. Once set-up Temple is basically a diary entry system for whatever you get up to in terms of exercise, food and drink – tap and swipe to tell it what you are doing, eating or drinking and it logs everything and displays all the results in neat tables and graphics. Although there is a ‘reminders’ feature to nag you if you fail to eat, drink or move regularly enough (or make entries to say you have). Temple really works on the principle that if you can remember to log things in an app it will work as a self-motivating reminder to stay hydrated and fuelled too. Temple Wellness and Fitness is iPhone only, free and available at



As simple as the spot-on name suggests, Hydrate is a log (water log?) for Android which is quick and clean to set up and just as simple to use. Enter a daily target for drinking fluids (with a choice of US or metric units) and then it’s just a case of simply logging what you have when with a tap of the app. Working along similar – though simpler – lines to Temple, Hydrate encourages you to remember to drink right just by the fact that you are remembering to log your activity. Historical data may not be as beautifully presented as in other apps, but it’s perfectly functional and uncluttered so revisiting training sessions and seeing if results tally to adequate hydration couldn’t be easier. Hydrate is available free for Android at


Featured Features

Sausage & Pea Penne

Sausage & Pea Penne


Our Nutritionist says:

“After a hard evening training session this is a quick, tasty and no-fuss way to get the protein, energy and electrolytes you need to recover effectively. Add kidney beans and/or extra veg for more vitamins, minerals and healing antioxidants.”

Joel Enoch, Sports Nutritionist –

150g penne
25g frozen peas
4 pork sausages
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 tbsp virgin olive oil
Chilli flakes or chopped fresh red chilli
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
100g half-fat cre?me frai?che
Handful of basil leaves


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, adding a small pinch of sea salt. Cook the pasta as per packet instruction (reduce by 1 minute for a more authentic al dente Italian style.)


2. As the pasta cooks, de-skin the sausages and take out the meat, chopping roughly into small pieces.


3. Heat the virgin olive oil in a large pan (it needs to be big enough to later add the pasta), add the chilli flakes or chopped red chilly and the sausage meat, cooking gently for 5 minutes.


4. Two minutes before the pasta is ready add the frozen peas to the pasta water and cook together.


5. One minute before the pasta is ready add the lemon zest, wholegrain mustard and cre?me frai?che to the sausage pan, reduce the heat and simmer gently.


6. Drain the pasta and peas, tip into the sausage sauce, season with black pepper and stir together.


7. Serve sprinkled with the torn basil leaves.


Download the Recipe HERE