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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Road to Ironman: Flavour Fatigue & Hitting Nutrition Goals

We're welcoming back Andrew from STAC Zero for the 3rd Installment of Road to Ironman. Have you missed the first two posts in the series? Catch up here:

Flavour fatigue sounds simple enough -- and a bit trivial, actually -- but it is something very serious when it comes to performing at your best.  If you're in the middle of a race, your body reacts differently to flavours than you might imagine, and the nutrition which you know that you desperately need might seem unappealing, making it impossible to follow your plan.  I've heard of this happening to even the pros, and recently experienced it myself due to some of my own mistakes.  

With the weather warming up, my training has progressed outdoors from my self imposed training prison -- and this has led to me needing to carry 100% of my required nutrition on my rides.  No more sneaking up to the kitchen to mix up another bottle of Infinit if I felt like I was lacking some energy.  Although the individual flavours are excellent on their own (my own preference being the fruit punch, which is curious given my typical aversion to overly sweet sports drinks), but due to poor planning, I had run out of all but the orange flavour.  Mixing up 4 bottles of a single flavour, I headed out on my planned 4 hour ride.

The first 3 hours felt great -- I was right on my power target with an exertion that felt relatively easy.  I had noticed that I was actually feeling so good that I didn't keep up with my nutrition targets.  Then it started to hit me -- I could feel the bonk coming.  But, at this stage, I had already drank so much volume of a single flavour that I was really fighting being able to finish my nutrition.  I knew that I would feel better once I drank it, but just struggled to get it down.  Flavour fatigue had hit me.  I had heard about this countless times, but never experienced it so acutely until now.  It's amazing how something you previously enjoyed can become so difficult to palate when you're pushing your endurance limits during long training sessions!

Having stopped, I was able to compose myself and eventually finish off another bottle.  I started feeling much better right away -- the best part, after only a few minutes, I was able to continue the ride, eventually finishing more or less on schedule and on pace!

Having learned my lesson this time, I now make sure to always pack all 3 of the flavours on any long ride or even indoor training session.  Being able to quickly and easily go back and forth between the Infinit flavours is a sure way to be able to avoid any of the issues coming along with flavour fatigue.  I would highly recommend this to anyone -- if you're investing in adapting to a proper nutrition strategy, giving yourself multiple options is the only way to go.  Seeing that I manage to go through the bags of the custom blend fairly quickly, it only made sense to have all 3 flavours on hand at the same time ,meaning that I could switch flavours depending on my preference that day -- or even better, give myself the option for long rides where I don't know what I'll have a taste for!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bike Windsor Essex - Creating a Bike-Friendly City

We recently had the opportunity to connect with Oliver and the team from Bike Windsor Essex; a non-profit organization in Windsor, ON that is focused on getting more people out cycling. They are advocates for safer cycling infrastructure, and public and government acceptance and support for cycling as a legitimate means of transportation.

"We believe cycling is an important aspect of forward thinking regions. We believe that supporting cycling can improve the health, economy, and environment of our local community."

Through a number of yearly initiatives, Bike Windsor Essex is focused on creating a safer city for cyclists, and encouraging the general public to get out and ride by offering bike clinics, cycling-based events, a bike-repair shop, and more.

Bike Windsor Essex hub in downtown Windsor. Photo courtesy of Jenn Escott. 
Bike Windsor Essex is located in downtown Windsor, ON, on the corner of University Ave and Pelissier St. Their HQ is home to their Bike Kitchen, as well as their Wrench Up program and cycling courses. The Bike Kitchen provides a unique opportunity for avid and amateur cyclists alike to learn to maintain, repair and build their own bicycles. The staff accept donated bikes in any shape, refurbish them, provide use of tools and work stations to the public, provide cycle safety and bike repair education to schools and cyclists, and more.

Through their refurbishment program, Bike Windsor Essex has created the Earn-A-Bike program, which allows low-income youth and New Canadians the opportunity to refurbish a donated bike, which then becomes their own once it is in safe, working condition.

The non-profit also offers the Wrench-Up program, which offers maintenance and repair classes for beginners and experienced cyclists. These are monthly classes that allow students to learn how to maintain your bike yourself, or brush up on your repair skills. The course content will cover the basics of your bicycle, how to recognize if it's not working properly, fixing flat tires, roadside repair, an intro to bicycle adjustments, and basic fitting. 

Bike Windsor Essex Bike Kitchen. Photo Cred: Jenn Escott
Additional programs offered at Bike Windsor Essex include educational seminars, which are ideal for schools, cycling classes including an introduction to cycling, and CAN-BIKE Certifications, as well as community rides and bike rentals

So how can you get involved? Bike Windsor-Essex offers a series of membership opportunities that give you exclusive access to their bike kitchen, Wrench Up program, and discounts at local Windsor hot spots. You can also join in on their initiatives and become a volunteer, or donate old bikes to their refurbishing program. The Board meets the first Tuesday of every month, and the community is encouraged to talk about current campaigns, road challenges, and upcoming cycling events. 

Bike Windsor Essex also offers a series of events throughout the year, with their keynote event being Bike to Work Day on May 28/2018. Bike to Work Day exists to encourage people to leave their cars behind and get out and ride to work, bringing the community together to educate on the benefits of cycling. All of us at Infinit are participating, and we would love to have you join us! Stay tuned for a follow up blog post on Bike to Work Day, but in the meantime, register to participate in this years ride here

For more information on the Bike Windsor Essex initiatives, or to get involved, visit their website at

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Paris To Ancaster - What a Blast!!!

From the Paris To Ancaster site here is a description of the race: For over a century the roads of northern Europe have been home to the toughest bicycle races in the world. The most famous of these, Paris to Roubaix, takes place each spring over brutal cobblestone roads that have been preserved in their historic condition for over 100 years. Inspired by this classic race, the Paris to Ancaster has taken place for the past twenty four years over the roughest farm lanes, trails and gravel roads we can find. Combined with unpredictable spring weather and the largest field of riders assembled in Canada, it has become a classic race experience for everyone from average riders to Canadian Olympians.

After hearing how great this race was and seeing a roll call from Geno (East Side Riders Cycling Club) just after New Year's I thought, I have to do this.  With no arm twisting at all, Steve Tymczak was in.  I had a strong training base going into the ride ~4000 km, but how do you prepare for this race?  Think you just get to the line, then grin and bear it. 

Dinner with some of the Windsor-Essex Gang - 30 more behind!
Geno had made everything super easy for the newbies - we dropped the car off at the Ancaster arena, picked up our race plates and then we had a bus back to the hotel.  Most of the Windsor Essex crew were all staying at Arlington, then dinner at Stillwaters - great group, few beers and some good stories from past races.  Weather for the race was looking quite favourable from previous years - was going to be dry from the skies, cool at the start, and of course there would be muddy sloppy sections, just because that's the nature of the beast at P2A.

Race morning we had a short 3 km spin to the start - one of the best, most chill starts I have ever been involved with.  Steve and I were in wave 3 which started at 10:20 am.  There was a good energy at the start - not a nervous energy that you sometimes get in larger races.  Steve Fleck as always, making things interesting with race announcing (@stevefleck ) all through the day; counts us down to the guns firing.  Quick climb up the road, sharp right and a nice steep climb to get things going, then soon after it was a 6 km rail trail to space things out.  

Every surface you can imagine we seemed to ride on, including the thickest, stickiest mud I have ever encountered.  The last "mud shoot" was crazy long and deep.  I started in wave 3 - so by the time I made it there - I was surrounded by wave 1 and 2 folks - quite busy, so trudging through on foot was the my best option.  The mud was so thick, I feared I was going to lose my shoes and by the end I honestly thought my bike was being held down by something, something other than gravity and the extra 20 pounds of mud!  After the final mud shoot it was a few trails and then the famed climb, after 70+ km of up and down, windy sections and sloppy terrain it was a challenge, I did manage to pedal all the way up.  I was really proud to finish 387th overall, with field of 1452 completing the 70km race.

How did I fuel?  Out of convenience when riding my mountain bike I use a camelbak - I find that I am able to drink more and I have grown accustomed to having the pack on my back. I like the convenience for tools and to stuff any layers that I take off during the race.  My main custom blend right now is: Darcy's Road Blend - 290 cals, 4 g protein, 68 carbs and 379 mg of sodium.  I am a fairly heavy sweater - I took in 3.5 servings (2100 ml 3.5 servings) during the 2:57 race.  Took on some Repair as soon as I could - I was feeling pretty good today!

Talked to so many riders this weekend, most have completed this race year over year, and now I understand why.  Great to have an early season race to train for.  I am certain I will be back for my 2nd next year.  For now I need to rest up, this Saturday - I am riding a 375 km (24 hr) Fleche Randonneur ride.

Happy Riding!

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Friday, April 20, 2018

Road to Ironman: Beginning the Journey

Andrew Buckrell is back with the second installment to the Road to Ironman series! Before you begin reading, catch up with the first post of the series here:

"To start off my training "journey", coach Alex VanderLinden from Healthy Results had prescribed an easy ramp up in volume, focusing on building a lower intensity aerobic base, rather than my "all or nothing" training style I had followed for shorter distance events.  Seeing as my progress had somewhat plateaued and I was no longer making significant running or cycling gains, I knew it was time for a change, and welcomed the external input.  For full disclosure, I should note that previous training sessions were purely based on making myself hurt -- regular intervals of very high intensity repeated over and over, with no macro scale periodization or general training philosophy.

Following the recommendations of Darcy from my initial phone consultation, I used a spreadsheet that he had developed for measuring and quantifying sweat rate.  It was no real surprise to find out that I'm well above the average sweat rate (1.8-2.0 L/h of sweat -- gross!).  This provides an excellent baseline for the amount of fluid that I'll be losing during exercise.  Knowing that it's impossible to replace everything, both Darcy and Alex independently recommended taking in about 1 bottle per hour, and 300 calories -- bang on a single serving of the Infinit Custom Blend.  This will make sure that I keep well hydrated throughout the course of long workouts and competition, provided I manage to stay on track.

I ordered up my first few batches of the custom blend, the composition of which was shaped by a conversation with Darcy.  Not really knowing what to expect, I was surprised by the lack of overpowering sweetness that you usually associate with sports drinks.  This was a bit of a shock to me -- given the carbohydrate concentration, I was anticipating something overly sweet.  I'm very happy to confirm that you quickly get used to this, and I will continue to want to dial back the flavour concentration as I further adapt to the flavour.

I've always been adamant that you need to race like you train.  Nutrition is no exception.  I've been extremely regimented in following the race hydration plan with training sessions.  I'll admit that the first few sessions involved some mild GI distress -- my body just wasn't used to taking on this kind of nutrition in liquid form.  This is why you should never try something for the first time in a race!!!  Had I been racing, it would have been a disaster.  However, I fortunately experienced this in training at home, and after doing a few workouts with "race-day nutrition", I've adapted, and can now easily take on quite a number of bottles of Infinit during a long workout.

The next stage of my training (and guest blog post) deals with flavour fatigue and dialling in the proper nutrition for a longer workout."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Darcy Tackles the 2018 CrossFit Open

Let me start by saying I am an endurance guy. I have done bunch of Ironman's, a few Ultra-marathon's; I just love the endurance side of things.  With that said I am not the strongest, not even close to being so, as compared to the other athletes in our box at CrossFit WHL.  I have been working out with Bobby Tran and the WHL crew since late 2014, shortly after we started selling our Infinit Strength Blends there. After dropping off product to their gym, I was intrigued and felt like it would really help with my limiters - strength and flexibility. It has helped with both. I hadn't been consistently going to the box for 6 months; lots of traveling and biking, it was gnawing at me every time I would leave work, I felt guilty.  You see in late 2016 CrossFit WHL moved right next door to Infinit - hard to hide!  Part of setting up a great 2018, I reached out to a few friends and got them to commit to joining me daily at 5:00 pm.  Right now we are 3X a week, moving to 5 days a week soon.  It has been great being back routinely.

I wasn't sure I was ready to sign up for the CrossFit Open this year, but decided to do it and face the music.  Of course as a 50 year old athlete and one that hasn't developed all the gymnastics moves and strength (YET), I needed to sign up for the Scaled division. For those outside the CrossFit world, the Open consists of 5 weeks, each week on Thursday night the workouts get announced - the RX version of the workouts and also the scaled versions.  Anxious moments, what will the workout be?  They are always tough, but will they expose my limiters or not.  You have from Thursday to Monday at 8 pm to complete the workout. The workouts are judged by one of the certified coaches and your score is entered on the CrossFit Leaderboard.  Here is how my open went; tough, humbling and rewarding.  My goal was to finish in the top half (a stretch would be top third) of the 32,000 athletes from around the world that signed up for the scaled version of the open.

Open Week 1

Workout 18.1: 20 min AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 8 knees to chest, 10 Hang Clean and Jerks (35 lb dumbbell) and 14 Calories on the Rower.

I was happy to see this workout.  I am decent at knees to chest, the 35 dumbbell would be heavy - but I should be able to keep moving through each set of 10 and I am a good rower.  Since I do my long rides Saturday mornings I chose to do the workout each week on Friday after work.

So I jump right in - Justin gets me all set up, gym is quiet with only about 10 people there and I am doing the workout alone, which is fine.  The hanging knee raises were quick and doable, the real meat of the workout for me was taking the 35lb dumbbell from my side up to my shoulder and then pressing over my head.  My first set was rough - didn't quite have the technique optimized, but it would get better.  The row - I managed to average 1350 cal/hr which is a good pace without gassing myself.  So now just keep cycling through these 3 movements for 20 minutes.  I vividly remember looking at the clock and realizing I was only 5 minutes in and thought to myself "this is going to hurt."

The 8 knees to chest remained uneventful, other then tearing my skin on one of my fingers ~ this movement requires a lot of gripping.  The dumbbell work is where I really needed to focus and force myself to keep moving - if you get the technique wrong, you tend to muscle it up and waste too much energy.  The row was the row - every time I sat down, I was in my happy place (endurance junkie, remember?).  I finished with a total of 345 reps - and gave it all I had!  I was 3420th out of 32000 athletes so I was pretty happy!

Open Week 2

Workout 18.2: Broken into 2 components with a combined 12 minute time cap.

Workout 18.2a: 35 lb dumbbell squats and bar-facing burpees, ascending ladder 1-2-3-4.....10 as quickly as possible.

Workout 18.2b: Max clean in the time you have remaining from the start of 18a and the 12 min mark.

This workout was met with mixed emotions - decent at cycling through squats and burpees, but my strength and technique on the hang cleans is going to hurt me.

So another Friday and I take on the workout.  This time got to do the workout with Matt - a fellow Workhorse.  So you hop into it.. 1 squat, 1 burpee, 2 squats, 2 burpees....5 squats, 5 burpees....this is feeling all right.  Then round 7 comes, and it hits you! I have a fused wrist and my grip strength on the dumbbells was failing which forced me to break up the sets of 8, 9 and 10 and lose precious time.  Finish the round of 10 at 9:37.  Now I have a couple of minutes to do my max clean - I surprised myself with 122lb - a personal best for me at the time, but I know I can do better!  So the next day was at the In-House Open workout when the majority of the CrossFit WHL crew complete their sessions - we were actually sampling our Cold Brew.  Watching 60 or so athletes I was able to observe some of the different techniques on the squats - a bunch of folks had the weight of the dumbbell supported on the shoulder - when I saw this I was happy but sour as I knew I would have to repeat the workout (once was enough!). During my first attempt, I held the dumbbells in front of my chest - more taxing on the grip and your arms in general.

I completed my second attempt Monday morning - without grip strength being an issue I was able to go unbroken through all of the squats. My time for 18a improved to 7:15, placing me at 3150 overall - thrilled!  But now the ying and yang - my improved clean of 127 placed me at 20280 overall, better than originally, but not where I want to be - I know now I have to pay a little more attention to the Olympic Lifts.

Open Week 3:

Workout 18.3: 2 rounds for time of 100 single under skips, 20 reps of 45 lb overhead squats, 100 skips, 12 pull-ups, 100 skips, 20 alternating 35 lb dumbbell snatches, 12 pull-ups, with a 14 minute time cap.

Oh crap!  I have never done a pull up without a band.  I had done a few chin-ups, palms facing in, but never unassisted chin over bar pull-ups.  The rest of the movements were fine - man I was in trouble.

As expected I get through the 100 skips, 20 overhead squats and then a 100 more skips fine.  Now to the bar - I have never done one and now I have a set of 12.  To my surprise I can do one.  I rested and did another, and repeated that.  I got through the round of 12 - crazy.  Got the skips, snatches done and then back to the bar - ! was able to get another 3 in before the 14 minutes were up.  Both humbling yet exciting to know that I can do a pull-up! That's what the open is about - pushing yourself to do things you wouldn't otherwise try.

The Open really lets you know what your limiters are - ironically while I am completing my pull-ups, Coach Johnny is working with two athletes on gymnastic movements. They are focusing on optimizing their kip (swinging your body to assist with the "pull" movement a fluidity) - would have been a smart idea to learn that movement!  I knew that 455 reps would not place me well on that leaderboard, but I was crazy excited that I completed 15 pull-ups.  I placed 21,243.  Overall I was just about 10,500th out of the 32,000 - hanging on to top third.

Open Week 4:

Workout 18.4: 21 deadlifts (135 lb), 21 hand release push-ups, 15 deadlifts (135 lb), 15 hand release
push-ups, 9 deadlifts (135 lb), 9 hand release push-ups, 21 deadlifts (185 lb), 50 ft bear crawl, 15 deadlifts (185 lb), 50 ft bear crawl, 9 deadlifts (185 lb), 50 ft bear crawl.  9 min time cap.

Well again this is scary!  My personal best a bit ago when I was consistent in the box was245 lb deadlift - I am long way from that. In the last few weeks we had been cycling through deadlifts at 135 lb, so I knew I was ok with them, but the 185 would be a big jump.

At the start of the workout again on Friday night - I asked Coach Justin: "What have others done, how have they approached the sets - as far as breaking them up?"  He encouraged me to break things up with the 135's as the step up in weight under fatigue is tough. I did just that. I broke the first set up into two, the second the same and completed the 9 unbroken.  Ok first section done - then reality hits - I get over the bar at 185 and lift it - a lot different, only 50 extra pounds, but man it felt so much different. I believe I was breaking things up in 5-6 for the round of 21, did the bear crawl which was ok, but I am gassed!  Get over the bar for my round of 15 at a little over 7 min into the workout. I get 3-4 reps done and then break. I try to get right back down to the bar   but I feel the raw juice I drank an hour ago creeping up so I have to pause.  I manage to get done the 15 at 8:30 but now the bear crawl - I have to finish those - I need the reps!  I finish in a heap right at the 9 min mark.  Again I gave this everything I had and I learned more about what limits me.  Finished with a 146 reps, which placed me 10840th worldwide on in the scaled division, still hanging on for top third.

Open Week 5

Workout 18.5: Complete as many reps as possible in 7 min.  3 barbell thrusters (65 lb) - 3 jumping chin over bar pull-ups, 6 & 6, 9&9, 12&12.....up by 3 each time.

A relief that it was jumping chin over bar pull-ups; thrusters are a tough movement for me.  But overall it is an engine type of event.

Did the workout with Matt - he went first and was steady throughout - he kept moving the whole time, broke the sets of thrusters up after the round of 9.  He finished with an impressive 105 and I thought I would be right there with him after watching.  So I am off - whoa thrusters - after one Justin tells me to widen stance, that helps.  3 done and on to the jumping chin over bars, those as expected are just endurance - think the scaled athletes got a big break!  Cycle through the sixes and then to the nine - get them out, but you can really feel how this is creeping up on you.  Can't recall exact timing, but thought I had loads of time and am going to get far...yeah right.  On the 12's and 15's I have to break-up quite a bit, was gruelling.  I did get back to the bar for the round of 18 - managed to get the bar overhead 14 times - finished at 104 and was happy about my result.  Most happy with the way I felt and kept moving, gave it all I had; again I hope this was enough to keep me in the top third.  Wasn't about to repeat this one!

Tuesday was the first I looked at the leaderboard and I saw that I was 9381th for the workout, which put me at 8728th overall - will finish in top third.

Overall experience?  This was the first time that I signed up and competed.  When I signed up I wondered did I just spend $20 for no reason.  There was great value in signing up.  Each workout really mattered, seeing my name amongst the other athletes around the world and then thinking, what if I..... Knowing my results were going up and affected my overall placing was the reason I repeated 18.2 - I saw there was a better technique that could be used and had to try.  If I wasn't signed up I probably wouldn't have done 18.3, it has pull ups, I can't do those. However, in the heat of it I found out that I could a few, getting to 15 during the workout.  The Open really lets you know what your barriers or limiters are, and it already has me doing the weightlifting sessions, not just opting for the strength and metcons.

I can't say that I will ever compete in the Rx divisions, but being able to complete in the Scaled class was a blast - certainly appeals to my competitive nature, if top third this year, what can I do next year with continued work on weaknesses?

If you haven't checked out CrossFit - there will be a box near where you reside - check them out.  I go because I am an endurance junkie, the 3 - 5 times a weeks helps my strength, core-strength and my flexibility - these all make me stronger cyclist.  If you join and are at a CrossFit gym - sign up - worth every penny for me.

Suggested fuel for Crossfit/Strength athletes: Infinit X-CiteInfinit RescueInfinit Raw

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Road to IRONMAN: Pre-Training and Preparation

We are thrilled to welcome guest blogger, Andrew Buckrell, of STAC Performance, to the Team Infinit Blog. Andrew has his sights set on an Ironman in September - his first race at this distance. We will be taking you along his journey over the coming months so you can have an inside look at what preparation goes into becoming Ironman ready!


I've always been interested in pushing myself to the limits, but after a near catastrophic (and very disappointing) first attempt at a 70.3 race, I had resigned myself to shorter race distances -- primarily sprint and olympic distance triathlons.  I made all kinds of excuses: I sweat too much, I overheat too easily, and so on.  While the allure of pushing yourself right to the ragged edge for a relatively short event is attractive, I still feel like I'm missing out on some of the magic of completing an IRONMAN length event.

My mind was essentially made up for me while watching friend and professional triathlete Alex VanderLinden compete at the Mont-Tremblant Ironman last summer.  Seeing the effort and dedication these athletes put into the event, not to mention the production and spectacle that WTC puts on, it elevated the race in my mind to a "life experience" status, rather than just another race.  I was hooked on the idea.

After convincing friends and family that it was, indeed, a good idea, and not just another crazy notion of mine, I realized that I needed to prepare my body in every way possible.  I reached out to Alex VanderLinden for coaching duties, seeing as he was initially "responsible" for my ambitions, and at the same time I reached out to Darcy, CEO of Infinit Canada, for help with nutrition.

After an initial phone consultation with Darcy, he educated me on the theories behind proper nutrition.  This was, in no small part, responsible for my earlier 70.3 race failure.  After helping me come up with a custom nutrition formulation, I was ready to start my training.

I've always been a huge proponent of training exactly how you race, I knew that integrating proper nutrition into my training regimen was going to be a key to my IRONMAN success.

Andrew Buckrell
STAC Performance