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    The Top 5 Marathons in the World (that you probably don't know about)

    The Top 5 Marathons in the World (that you probably don't know about)

    We didn't want to do another standard post about how great the London, Boston or Tokyo marathons are. Yes they are brilliant races, which are well organised have huge attendance and are a lot of fun. But if you are looking for something slightly different to the norm then here are the 5 marathon races you should check out; 

    1) Big Sur International Marathon

    One of the most challenging courses along the California coastline is the Big Sur International Marathon which takes place in the month of April. The course is a struggle through hills and head wind, but the scenery offers runners a big reward. The course takes runners through redwood forests and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Live entertainment throughout the run may help keep you motivated, too. This is one we would recommend for sure. 

    2) The Big Five Marathon

    The Big Five Marathon in South Africa which takes place in June, will provide you with a marathon and a safari rolled into one. Named for the famed Big Five African game animals -- leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo -- the course runs among wildlife in the Limpopo province’s Entabeni Safari Conservancy. You might even be lucky enough to run alongside antelope, giraffes, zebras and lions, as the course does not have anything to separate the runners from the African wildlife. If dodging lions was not enough runners must negotiate steep altitude changes and rocky footing.

    3) Great Wall Marathon 

    Deemed one of the toughest marathons in the world, the Great Wall Marathon  which takes place in May, challenges runners to climb more than 5,164 steps of the Great Wall, and finish by running through Chinese villages. First run in 1999, the Great Wall marathon has gained popularity over the years, with more than 2,500 entrants. 

    4) Great Ocean Road Marathon

    The visually stunning views of Australia's Southern Ocean are enough to make you forget your legs are dying (or at least enough to make it bearable). The Great Ocean Road Marathon is in the month of May. You'll travel along Victoria's Great Ocean Road and take in the beautiful landscapes for the entire 44 kilometers. And if you're traveling from out of town, there's plenty to see and do in Victoria -- from exploring Apollo Bay and the surrounding picturesque seaside town with restaurants famous for their crawfish to the breathtaking mountains with its diversity of wildlife and weather conditions.

    5) Puerto Rica Marathon

    The Puerto Rico Marathon in the month of March is a popular destination race, combining a Caribbean vacation with first-class competition. You run 26.2 miles along the Atlantic and various lagoons, seeing the amazing scenery, and then recover on the beach sipping on a piña colada ;)  (This race is also a Boston and New York Marathon qualifier) 

    Looking for the perfect marathon top then check out some of Air Run T-shirts available now. 

    The Best Hamstring Exercises for Runners

    The Best Hamstring Exercises for Runners

     Most runners are quad dominant or in danger of becoming more quad dominant. This is where the quad muscles overpower the action of the hamstrings in the movement of the leg during a running stride. This can quickly lead to a host of hamstring issues, with strains, pulls and tears topping the list as the most common maladies.

    So why are hamstrings so important for runners?

    When you run, the quadriceps contract as you land and the opposing muscles, the hamstrings, act as the brake to stop your knee from hyperextending at the end of a stride. The quad works when the knee is locked out in extension with movement taking place at the hip.

    If your hamstrings are significantly weaker than your quads, one of two things will occur:

    1. Your hamstrings will tear as a result of not being able to take the load developed by the contracting quadriceps

    2. You will run slower as a result of the diminished power from the hip flexors and knee extensors

    So It is probably a good idea to start looking at adding in some hamstring exercises to your workouts.

    We have provided 3 of the best exercises to develop stronger hamstrings.

    1. Kettlebell swings
    2. Single-arm/single-leg Romanian deadlifts
     
    3. The prone leg curl

    The results found that these three exercises stimulate the hamstrings similarly and may be used interchangeably, as part of a strength building workout for runners.

    What Should You Look For In A Good Triathlon Suit?

    What Should You Look For In A Good Triathlon Suit?

     

    We are not here to write about how good our suits are or anything like that, we want to give you an informed explanation on how to chose the right triathlon suit or shorts and singlet for you.

    There area few things you should look for when choosing a triathlon suit.

    Sleeved or vested

    There has been an increase in availability of sleeved suits of recent, with long-course athletes in particular adopting them for their drag-reducing benefits. Sleeved suits have now caught on over all race distances, backed further by the ITU allowing them to be used in competition in 2016.

    A vested suit has slightly less fabric and with bare arms it will keep you cooler if you really struggle with overheating. You’ll also get more freedom of movement, particularly useful for pool triathlons where you don’t have a wetsuit over the top. A sleeved suit will have drag reducing features and will be better for longer distance, where skin protection from sun is an important factor.

    There is no right or wrong with choosing between the two style of suits, it is primarily down to preference and which you will be more comfortable racing in.

    Suit or Shorts and Singlet

    Most elite racers chose to wear a suit over triathlon shorts and a singlet and this is mainly down to the fact that it allows a more streamlined approach and means the top does not ride up during the race. If you do race in warmer conditions where you do not need a wetsuit you can swim in the triathlon shorts and then at the first transition put the triathlon singlet on for the cycle and the run. Again this is entirely down to preference but most people chose to opt for a suit as it saves time having to put on a top at the first transition.

    Level of Padding

    Some suits have thicker padding than others and dependant on the race distance and the length of the bike portion the thickness of padding should be taken into account. If you are competing in a long distance race where there is a long bike portion, a thicker chamois pad is perhaps better even though it may not be as streamline in the water and as comfortable on the run. The bike segments can take its toll on your derriere. If you want an all round suit for both long and short distance races then finding a suit with medium thickness for the pads can be a wise idea.

    Pockets

    Some suits do have pockets and some don’t. The benefits of no pockets is that it limits drag in the water and potentially on the bike. However if you are racing with a wetsuit this should not be a problem and the pockets are usually tight enough on the bike segment to reduce any drag. Having pockets for a long distance race can be a great place to keep any energy gels, repair kits or food for the race. Most suits have small tight rear pockets and we are a fan of them but again it is down to preference.

    The Right Fit

    In regards to fit it is essential that you get a suit that is the right size for you. If it is too big then this can cause drag and also friction or irritation. If the suit is too small it can prove to be difficult for flexibility on the swim and getting in an aero position on the bike. Finding a suit that is the right size is essential so check the measurements first. 

    These are our top tips for choosing a triathlon suit and if you are looking for a new suit, then please take a look at our latest award winning Agility pro triathlon suit.


    Is Crossfit Beneficial for a Swimmer

    Is Crossfit Beneficial for a Swimmer

    CrossFit has been around since the early 2000's and is now a widely participated sport worldwide with CrossFit boxes in almost every country, but is it worth taking on this sport to improve your swimming. 

    So Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of CrossFit as supplementary training for a swimmer.

    To provide further context, CrossFit training involves various exercises, from bodyweight, olympic lifts to endurance based activities. All these exercises are usually combined into circuits creating high-intensity training sessions called WODs (workout of the day) - lasting anywhere from roughly 10-45 minutes. 

    CrossFit uses a variety of muscle groups at the same time with a strong focus around core strength. The workouts are all high intensity that are timed and they are all performance related. Sounds slightly similar to swimming right?

    The points listed above are some of the PROs of CrossFit in relation to swimming. There are definite similarities and so it could be said to be a really functional kind of training for a swimmer - we are not suggesting a swimmer replaces actual swim training for CrossFit but looks to supplement it in to a training plan.

     

    So are there any CON's to including CrossFit into your swimming training plan.... 

    The exercises are not always very easy to perform. The movements to be performed can often be fairly complex and technique is extremely important. Without good technique the risk of injury can be extremely high. Moreover, bearing in mind that fatigue kicks in at a certain point in the WOD, the risk of hurting yourself is even higher.

    Sometimes the internal training load of a specific exercise is not sufficiently precise or given due consideration. To explain what an internal training load is, imagine you have two people in front of you, one conditioned and the other fairly unconditioned. They are both asked to lift a 50 kg weight. 50 kg is the external (objective) training load; somebody who is trained will have a lower internal (subjective) training load, because it will be easier for them to lift this weight. Some WODs do not take this into account, because they have standard external training loads, differing only for men and women. They sometimes do offer a scaled option and we would recommend if you are unfamiliar to weightlifting and CrossFit to start with the scaled option. 

    Overall we would suggest there are some solid benefits to incorporating CrossFit into your Swimming training and if there is a Box near you it would be worth giving a go. 

    Why Conor McGregor Switched to Cycling....

    Why Conor McGregor Switched to Cycling....

    Conor McGregor has been the topic of a lot of controversy in the last week or so BUT we are not here to discuss that. What we are here to understand is, why Conor McGregor ditched the running shoes in place of the spandex bibshorts for his training. 

    Conor has been working with former Irish road cycling champion Julian Dalby whom is now part of the medical staff. Whilst in McGregor’s corner with his medical skills and strength and conditioning techniques, Dalby has also helped the Dublin fighter introduce cycling into his training regime. McGregor says he was determined to examine his training to see how it could improve, and Dalby getting him on the bike has been part of that process.

    “I’ve been doing a lot of endurance work on the rowing machine, sprints on the treadmill; I’m doing everything cardio-related,” he said of his work in ensuring he stays strong over the full length of a UFC fight. 

    “I’ve been supplementing my rounds on rounds with cardio work. And this is one of them,” he added as he headed out on the bike with Dalby on a highway through the Nevada desert near his Las Vegas base.

    “We do a specific heart rate at a specific wattage. For endurance it’s good because you’re not pounding the roads,” McGregor, who has had knee injuries in the past, said of cycling.

    “If I was to run; you’re pounding the roads and it’s not good for the body."

    “So I do the sprints on the treadmill and on the rowing machine. And then I do my endurance on the bike.”

    “you flush out the legs and get a bit of endurance work."

    “And it’s not bad on the body; it doesn’t damage the body at all."

    Even though running burns more calories per minute than cycling in general, cycling is a non impact sport which is more forgiving on the knees and other joints. It is a great way of training to maximum capacity whilst lowering the impact on your joints.