Monday, 9 May 2011

How to assess your running speed and strength over 400m - A very useful test

400m Testing

How to monitor speed, speed endurance and strength

Required resources

     400-metre track

     Cones to mark 150-metre, 300-metre and 600-metre points



 How to conduct the test

                    The athlete performs a 150m maximum effort from a standing start and then has an 8 minute rest;

                    The athlete then performs a 300m maximum effort from a standing start and has an 8nmiunte rest;

                    The athlete finally performs a 600mmaximum effort from a standing start

                    The assistant records the time for the athlete to complete each distance.


Analysis of the result is by comparing it with the results of previous tests. It is expected that, with

appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement.

400-metre control test calculations

     Speed endurance index = 300m time – (2 x 150m time)

     Target index value

= -11.54156 + (1.1226216 x 150m time) + (150m time x 150m time x -0.015101)

     Strength and general endurance index = 600m time – (2 x 300m time)

     Target index value



     150m = 15 seconds

     300m = 32 seconds

     600m = 71 seconds

     Speed endurance index = 2.0

     Target index value = 1.9

     Strength and general endurance index = 7.0

     Target index value = 7.83.

Speed endurance index

If the athlete's speed endurance index is greater than the target index value, and provided the

150metre time is in line with training targets, then more speed endurance work (lactic anaerobic) is


Strength and general endurance index

If the athlete's strength and general endurance index is greater than the target index value, and

provided the 300metre time is in line with training targets, then more strength and general

endurance work (aerobic) is indicated.

Target group

This test is suitable for sprinters but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.


Reliability would depend upon how strictly the test is conducted and the individual's level of

motivation to perform the test.


There are published tables to relate results to potential performance in competition and the

correlation is high with experienced athletes

A Healthy & Tasty Risotto

Lemon & Fennel Risotto

Add some smoked haddock or prawns for extra protein!


1 large fennel bulb, base trimmed
1 tbsp butter, plus a knob
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
140g/5oz risotto rice
175ml/6fl oz white wine
550ml/19fl oz hot vegetable stock
zest 1 lemon
25g/1oz Parmesan, grated


Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
Chop any green leafy fennel fronds and set aside. Cut off the stalk-like fennel top, remove the outer layers and finely chop both.
Heat 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and chopped fennel until soft but not coloured.
Add the rice and stir for 1 min. Pour over most of the wine and simmer until evaporated. Add 500ml of the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition until it is absorbed.
Meanwhile, slice remaining fennel and fry in a knob of butter until browned. Add the remaining stock and wine, then cook until tender.
When the rice is cooked, stir in the zest, Parmesan and some seasoning. Take off the heat and set aside, covered, for 2 mins. Serve in bowls, topped with the fennel fronds and cooked fennel.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Protein Supplements - Are you consuming enough protein?

Nutrition and Supplements

This week, I thought we'd take a look at protein. There's a lot of nonsense pedalled about protein, particularly by companies trying to flog supplements, so I thought I'd try to clear some of the murky waters - at least in part.

What is protein?

Proteins form the major building blocks of muscle and other tissues within the body, as well as hormones, enzymes and haemoglobin in the blood. They are composed of subunits called amino acids. There are about 20 amino acids that we know of. 12 of these are made by our bodies; the rest we need to get through our diet and they're what we call essential amino acids. If we don't get these through our diet, the ability of our muscles to grow or recover from training is compromised.

How much do we need?

"It's important to remember that supplements don't provide everything a healthy balanced meal can and so they shouldn't replace meals on a long-term basis."
This is an area of considerable debate. Strength athletes need between 1.6 - 2g per kg of body weight per day. For an 80kg athlete, this means they may need around 130 - 160g of protein. Endurance athletes need protein in their diets as well, to ensure muscle mass is not lost following training, but they need less (around 1.2 - 1.6g).

Many bodybuilders maintain that they need considerably more than this and I've seen reports of people taking 6g per kg of body weight. They cut down on their carbohydrates to remain very lean and so it's likely that the extra protein they consume is utilised as a fuel source, albeit an inefficient one.

Do we need supplements?

I advocate the use of supplements in my job. The reason is because I want to provide nutritional support to the training athlete within half an hour of them finishing a training session. Using a protein shake is a convenient method to ensure that we hit our protein targets within this crucial 30-minute window. Equally, though, a protein-rich meal is just as good, if not better, than a shake; it's just that this option is not always feasible in our environment and not everyone feels like a meal so soon after training.

Downsides and alternatives

It's important to remember that supplements don't provide everything a healthy balanced meal can and so they shouldn't replace meals on a long-term basis. There is also the risk of a contaminated batch, which can be problematic if you or your athlete is subject to drug testing. You always need to make sure that your supplements come from a reputable source, preferably one that has independent batch testing. Finally, they can be expensive. Believe it or not, the same basic job can be done by consuming a boiled egg and chocolate milkshake! It has the carbohydrates necessary to get an insulin response (necessary for the release of growth hormone) and the milk and egg also provide the protein you need.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Sticky Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry - Only 300 calories and very quick to cook!

Sticky chicken and cashew stir fry


Serves 4




1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tbsp cashew nuts

1 red, yellow or orange pepper, deseeded and chopped into medium chunks

1 red onion, chopped into chunks

2 bags or watercress (approx 150g in Total)

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

Add to the pan Amoy Rice noodles (1 pack per person)


For the sauce:

2 tbsp soy sauce

Ginger, thumb size, grated

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (can also use white wine vinegar instead)

3 tbsp hoisin sauce


Preparation method


  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl until blended and set a side;
  2. Meanwhile, boil some water for the noodles;
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan until hot, then add chicken, cashew nuts, pepper and onion and fry for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is cooked and cashews have darkened;
  4. Meanwhile, add noodles to boiling water and cook for a few minutes. Remove and drain;
  5. Now add the sauce to the chicken and simmer. Add a little water to loosen if necessary;
  6. Remove pan from heat and stir in the watercress;
  7. Serve with noodles.