21 Sep

You never stop learning!

So, Cambridge Spartans went on a little road trip to Weymouth last weekend for the Ironman and 70.3 races. We had experienced iron distance finishers, first timers, those hoping for PB’s and those hoping for survival. By the end of the day we had all experienced the usual joy, pain, sunburn, sore bits and queasy tummies associated with long distance racing. We had also understood once again the massive power of the team, the camaraderie, hugs, tears and good wishes that comes from knowing you have friends waiting for you at the finish line


So what about the learning part? Well I for one learnt a lot from last weekend that I thought was worth sharing……….

* Listen to coach………….and I don’t mean “look like you are listening, let it go in one ear, nod then forget what he has said”. No, I mean, listen, digest, understand and apply what he has said. When I asked Ben about a year ago whether he thought I could achieve a solo race at Endure 24 (I ran over 100k) he said of course, but that I needed to let go of all thoughts of getting a PB at any other even during the year. I nodded, agreed, trained hard to run slower but longer, and promptly forgot what Ben had said about not asking too much of myself after that. Then came Monster Ely half, and yes my swim and bike were slower….and I did not like it! I knew I was really fit but somehow the speed and endurance on the bike and swim had left me, and I basically got cross! Weymouth was better, but still I was confusing what Ben had said, what I had agreed with, and what my brain was telling me. Lesson – Ben was right and I needed to listen!

* There is no such thing as “Only” a half Ironman! Because my training was for a 24 hour race, and my fitness level is maybe the highest it has ever been, I totally underestimated the two half iron distance races I have done in the past month. Most people think that swimming 1.2 miles in the sea, cycling 56 miles in the hills and running a half marathon in the sun is something only the truly deranged would attempt, and when I first did it I also thought that. But fast forward a few years, a few marathon, ultra run, full distance races later and it is tempting to think of a half iron in the terms “only”. I have some advice for you on that score: Don’t! It is a long way and the fact that some other people are doing double that at the same time does not make the shorter distance any less of a challenge. I will never use the phrase “only” in relation to middle distance triathlon again

* Train the terrain – something I think a lot of the Spartan crew have learnt this year. I was doing a sea swim last weekend, and had only really sea swum this year in Corsica, which let’s face it was some sunny splashing not endurance training. We were lucky last weekend and the sea was flat and gorgeous, but it still feels, tastes and behaves differently to river and lake water. The Dorset hills are unrelenting, Cambridge is flat, and another few practise runs of the bike route would have helped most of the people who had not been down before the race (me, mainly!). If you want to nail a course then practising it is definitely a good idea

* Friends, friends, friends…………..support on the ground, by phone, on Facebook, hugs, tears, the bringing of some chips after a race – all of this is what makes the world go around. For anyone supporting anyone doing a physical challenge, then truly know that they could not do as well without you being there, the IronFan as the brand likes to call it is a very important role. We are lucky with the Cambridge Spartan crew that we support each other all the time, and very importantly on race day too

* If in doubt, there is always Rudyard Kipling to fall back on. Chrissie Wellington, Ironman World Champ several times, had the poem “If” written on her water bottle. I prefer the poem in my memory, as accessing it can sometimes take a few moments of pain away, and have finished with an excerpt to inspire you………..

If you can force your heart, and nerve, and sinew To serve your turn long after they are done When there is nothing left within you Except the will that says to them “hold on!” If you can fill an unforgiving minute With sixty seconds worth of distance run Yours is the earth, and everything that is in it And what is more you’ll be a man, my son

That’s for all last week’s racers, and supporters………..Cheers! Bumblebee x

06 Jun

My First Training Camp – Learning to Push all the Boundaries

landscape spartans cambridgeHaving only started training just over a year ago, I never considered that I would have completed and enjoyed a week’s training camp with Cambridge Spartans. After several years of doing no exercise I joined the Spartans and have loved it. The training camp seemed a great chance to work on running, cycling and swimming and although I am not training for a triathlon, I knew this would still be a great opportunity, especially as I have just upgraded my bike to a road bike with proper pedals and cleats. Plus the fact it was in the beautiful Lanzarote and everything was planned for me, from accommodation to meals – that was really appealing!
One of the main reasons I signed up was down to Ben Capper, he is a brilliant coach and I felt I would be in safe hands. I was right about that, despite the group being at different levels, he made sure that we all got what we wanted out of the camp and made sure no one was left behind (which is the Spartans motto!) When we arrived Ben researched what we each wanted to get from the week and at the end he recapped to ensure this was achieved. I would absolutely recommend signing up to the next one, not just if you are doing a Triathlon – if I can do it, anyone can!
There were so many good points that I don’t know where to start… I hit over 50kph on the bike, this was downhill but I had the confidence not to hit the brakes which is new to me!), I also ran and swam further than I ever have before. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard, the first day took it’s toll mentally as I felt really overwhelmed with what lay ahead and the calibre of some of the other people training, but I realised that didn’t matter and in the end I felt really proud of what I had achieved all of which were outside of my normal comfort zones.
 cambridge spartans bike ride 2It was challenging physically too, as I did more exercise in a week then I would do normally in a month, but again Ben made sure we all felt comfortable the whole time, he has a great ability to tailor things to each person, changing sessions to avoid aggravating any sore shoulders or bad knees.
I feel like I learnt a lot on the camp, not only skill and technique wise, but about myself and the fact that I can do it! I just have to look at my stats for the week to remind myself of what I did: 150k on the bike (1650m ofwhich was climbing), 20k running (including my longest single run up to that point of 6k and yes to get to the distance I did make Ben and Glenda run round a car park – don’t lie, we have all done it!), and 5.1k in the pool.
My advice if you are thinking about signing up to the next one would be do it! You won’t regret it and whatever your level you will get so much out of it!
Good luck with your challenge! Kerry 🙂
Kerry Spartan Blog
10 Apr

2016 Race Season is coming. Swim/Bike/Run and don’t forget your programme!

Endure 24 Team photo

There is something special about the Easter weekend for me, and it has nothing to do with church or chocolate!  The first time I broke 50 kilometres on the bike was Good Friday 2011, when Ben took me out on the infamous and hilly Saffron Walden loop, and it is generally the time of year when we start to think seriously about the swim, bike and run plans we have for the season, and what programme we are going to follow to get there.

The Cambridge half marathon saw a brilliant Spartan turnout, with PB’s, first timers and smiles all around at the finish.  We loved the new course and the medal seems to get bigger every year as well.  Two weeks later, three Spartans took on the 20 mile or full marathon distance at The Larmer Tree marathon, and felt grateful for the strength training we had done over Winter.  And now it gets serious……………my attempt to run 85 miles and beat the Cambridge Spartans record at Endure 24 this year.

So, let’s talk about programmes.  I hang out in a lot of forums and people ask two questions in the main, what programme should I follow and do I need a coach? I think the answer is that you do need a programme, and a coach is massively helpful, as long as adaptability is part of the process and your coach is able to make allowances for what we call “life getting in the way” of training plans.  Roll forward to me receiving my Endure 24 programme and I am.in.actual.shock!  I am going to be running at least 2 hours every Saturday, rising to 4 plus 2 hours some weeks, cycling then running every Sunday, and loads more besides……..remind me what I am doing this for again?  Actually, I love getting my programme, I love the process of planning, visualising the training and working out how I will fit it all in to my life. This one, however, is the scariest yet so I will keep you informed.

One thing about running a really long way is that I will be able to do lots of races with people who are starting out, as I am letting go of any PB thoughts!  I am planning on running the great Ickworth 10k with someone for whom it will be their first time, and who attended Ben’s brilliant workshop.  There is a great satisfaction in helping people go further than they have before.  The whole Endure 24 endeavor is brilliant, this year we will have around fifteen Spartans attending in pairs, solos or teams, I can’t wait (or should that be I can’t wait for it to be over?)

So, I hope you are also planning – which races are you doing (check out our calendar if you want company and support), what plan are you following (check out Ben’s new programme and workout videos), and what are you going to do to celebrate success?

Bumblebee x

PS to enter the Ickworth 10k visit Ickworth 10k on the Hoohaah website

06 Jan

Ben’s Blog


Pick an ‘A’ race, plan it, execute it, smash it!

So the New Year has begun which means new events, new races, new goals, new targets, BUT what is going to be your ‘A’ race? How do you pick an ‘A’ race?

I can help!

Every year I will sit down with my clients in person or on the phone and discuss last year’s season: how did it go, the goods and the bads, and most importantly did they achieve what they wanted? Depending then on their answers, we will talk about the coming season’s goals and objectives, what can we do better, what needs to change, what will we keep the same. From there we will then look at what race/event they need to do in order to achieve their individual goals, this will become their ‘A’ race.

Some serious considerations when picking your ‘A’ race:

#1 Time of year- If you are picking an event or goal that will require long training hours or miles like a big cycle event, or long distance triathlon, a marathon or ultra run, think about the seasons you will be doing your long mileage in. For example Ironman Lanzarote is in May 2016 so that means long rides and runs during winter..some of which won’t happen due to bad weather, unpredictable weather, etc. ‘I’ll go on the turbo’ I hear you say.. Yes great for intervals and a few hours cycling, but not for your 5/6 hour rides that need to be done outside, so you will end up trying to do all your long hours in March/April when the weather is slightly better, this will result in over training too close to the event when you should be looking at tapering and dropping the endurance down not ramping it up. So you either need to be a seasoned athlete meaning you don’t have to do lots and lots of new miles, or you have access to training camps abroad to get some warm, sunny long miles in. So when looking at a new event or a distance you have not done before look for something towards the end of the year so you have plenty of sunny weeks to do all your longer cycles and runs, like May-August and then event in September.

#2 Another consideration is time commitment- Are you planning on changing jobs? Becoming pregnant or becoming a parent? Moving house? They all sound common sense but I have had clients come to me wanting a program written for an event, to then find out they are due to become a parent later that year and had to warn them of the late nights, early mornings, all of which will affect their time commitment towards training and the lack of recovery due to not as much sleep increasing the risk of injury. Moving house in very stressful, and also eats up a lot of spare time with meetings and viewings, all of which will affect your time to train, adding more stress, so trying to catch up on training sessions and increasing training volume too quick increasing the chance of injury, or not even doing all the training you should have done which would result in race day poor performance meaning you won’t achieve your goal/target at your chosen ‘A’ race. I know some of these things are not always planned and unavoidable, but if you do have prior knowledge of any of these happening this coming season then maybe stick to your current distance and give yourself a smaller target or goal, don’t try and go from marathon runner to competing in your first 100 mile ultra, or go from Olympic triathlon to ironman, maybe just try and knock of a few minutes of your current PB’s

These of course are just a few considerations, there are plenty more and very individual, so if you want some help picking the right ‘A’ race then please get in contact, I am happy to help steer you in the right directions and help to set you up for an amazing successful year.

14 Dec

Fitness Class Timetable during Festive Season

Santa doing some heavy-ass squats

24th Thursday

Run - Ben

Foam rolling - Josh


25th Friday

Run - Ben


26th Saturday

Therapy clinic - Vicky


27th Sunday

Cycle - Ben

Foam rolling - Josh

Stretch - Ben


28th Monday

Run - Ben

Foam rolling - Josh


29th Tuesday

Circuits - Oliver


30th Wednesday

Cycle - Ben


31st Thursday

Run - Ben

Core extravaganza - Eddie

1st Friday

Challenge team Spartan - EVERYONE


2nd Saturday

Therapy clinic - Vicky


3rd Sunday

Cycle - Ben

Cycle - Ben

Stretch - Ben

4th Monday

All classes back to normal


All group sessions are FREE during this period