How to be an ambassador

hammercanada October 10, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

What keeps you motivated to push harder and faster in your sport? A support network is probably one of the biggest aspects of each sport.

Over the past 9 months of having the privilege to be a Hammer Nutrition Canada Ambassador, I have learned quite a lot. From blogging to hosting my own events, a lot of this stemmed from watching and reading how my fellow ambassadors have found success in the long term pursuit of their sports and support network.

Having never done anything like this previously, this is a great chance to give you new folks an idea of what to expect as an ambassador.

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Support your brand!
They are investing in you to work with them and their ideas. You need to keep in mind every investment has an expected return (financial or motivational)
– Volunteer with them at events
– Wear the gear
– Talk about them to your friends

Run your own event
I found success working within my own network to create an event in which I could talk with everyone about the products and why I use them. It also allows them to try the samples you provide on the spot and give you feedback at the end of the day.

Communicate
We all have busy lives and this is a support network, communicate with them when your falling behind and be ready to offer support in lieu of the original expectation.

Be your own brand
This is your name going out there, make something of it and people will respect what you promote (but be sure to be honest).

Represent your Sport
You are an advocate for your sport now, you will be seen by the public and you want to show people what your sport is made of.

Amplify your brand (share on social, blog, etc)
– Show yourself using this product and why you like it
– Use your social network to promote the lines
– Share your fellow ambassadors accomplishments

As we come into that time of year and you are reviewing applications for each of your brands you want to represent, keep them to the lines that represent your passions and frame of mind.

3 Healthy Ways to Overcome Stress

hammercanada October 7, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings of Explore the Backcountry

A crucial aspect of a healthy body is a healthy mind. Unfortunately, unforeseen events can lead to the onset of added stress and derail a healthy, active lifestyle. Coping with stress can be difficult, as symptoms may present themselves in differing ways depending upon the situation and person. Despair, fatigue, irritability or depression may set in and one may cope by binge eating, substance abuse, and material therapy (i.e shopping). These unhealthy coping mechanisms can lead to a slippery slope of further and prolonged stress. Finding healthy alternatives are essential in ensuring one has a quick recovery.

Here are my top 3 ways to overcome stress in a healthy manner:

1. Get Outside

The healing powers of nature cannot be overlooked. Get outside, immerse yourself in nature and relax. A simple walk through your local woodlot will do wonders to help clear your mind and retain focus. If you have the time and resources, why not take to the water for a paddle or hit the trails for a cycle?! If there’s time on your side, try and work in an overnight excursion. A night spent camping out in the great outdoors will quickly whisk you away to another world and removes you from any potential stressful reminders you would encounter in your daily life.

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Getting away from it all and forgetting your troubles

2. Workout

If you’re feeling the burden of severe stress, it may be hard to find the motivation to get off the couch and resume training or attempt a workout however, exercise is one of the top forms of recommended stress relievers. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Additionally they improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Mix up the intensity depending upon your mood and alternate between differing workouts to avoid repetition and stagnation. For added stress relief, incorporate the outdoors. You’ll really notice a difference!

3. Socialize

Talking to someone about how you feel seems like an overstated piece of advice, but it is highly recommended as stress can leave individuals bottled and secluded within their own thoughts. Isolating your mind from constant reminders is a great step in the process of removing and reducing stressors. You don’t need to book a trip to the psychologist; simply spending time with friends and family, or joining a social group does wonders. For the ultimate power trio why not attempt a group workout outdoors?!

Motivating change in the workplace

hammercanada September 26, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

We spend a lot of our lives sitting at the desk reading hundreds of emails and managing stressful situations. It’s quite easy to turn to the donuts, chocolate bar, or extra cup of coffee to get us through the day. Consider a healthier approach:

  • Eat smaller portions, more frequently. 7am- Breakfast (Protein, Light carb), 10- Morning Snack (Lighter protein, some extra carbs through veggies), 12pm – First lunch (Medium protein, light carbs i.e. salad), 2pm – Second lunch (second half of first lunch)
  • Remove afternoon caffeine. It’s great for a 45-60 min energy spike, but you’re draining your adrenal system and impairing the afternoon. It can also affect your sleep patterns
  • Remove sugar fixes. Again, great for momentary fixes but you’re looking for sustained energy to get you to the finish line (5pm)
  • Go for walks, do some push-ups between meetings, or even have an office sit-up competition

Some easy sources for extra energy can be found within foods such as:

  • Dried fruit (dates, prunes, apricot, raisins)
  • Raw nuts
  • Hammer energy bars (always have some in the car with me)
  • Colourful veggies
  • Par cooked sweet potatoes (a favourite of mine!)
  • Ginger, a great fix for energy and bad breath

Last but not least, water. It’s the key to all of our health and we never seem to drink enough of it. Water offers great energy boost, keeps you relaxed and your brain firing on all cylinders.

Office culture shifts start with a leader! Are you up to the challenge?

5 Tips for Morning Training

hammercanada September 21, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

Call me an early bird, a morning person, the am energizer bunny; whatever your label, I like to start my day with some training. And in triathlon training when there are usually two activities planned per day, having one done while most of those in your time zone are still sleeping is a bonus. Like anyone though, the best laid plans can often go awry and I have missed my morning training. On those days, the bulk of my training then gets scheduled after a workday and I end up regretting that I didn’t start my day with at least some of it.

So, here are my tips for embracing the morning:

Any article you read about morning training will tell you to put the clothing for your activity out the night before. This is so true! I only tend to run or swim in the morning so it is important to get organized before tucking in to bed. I pack my swim bag with gear and work clothes and leave it by the door. If treadmill running is in the plan, then shorts and a sports bra it is. If running outdoors, I check the weather app and plan accordingly. When I wake up and see my gear sitting there all ready to go, I am more inclined to get up and put it on. No decisions needed. You can even use this as a practice transition…from PJs to run attire in less than 30 seconds!

If the training plan calls for a run and the weather is nasty (here in Vancouver that means rainy and cold) or it is too dark to run on your own, have a Plan B. I have a treadmill in the garage so can jump on there and run to my heart’s content. If you don’t happen to have one, check out the community centres in your area as many open at 0500. Some gyms are 24 hours so any time of the morning works for them. If you have an option then there are no weather-based excuses.

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To eat or not to eat? Is it time for fasted training? Or do you eat breakfast before training? Know the answer to this before you go to bed. Fasted training has its benefits as it teaches your body to utilize fat for energy but it is not something you want to do every morning. Other mornings require a bit of toast and pb. I find cereal with milk or a glass of milk (or the yummy chocolate variety) is too belly-sloshy to run after so if I am eating, I stick to one piece of toast. If it is a fasted state training session, I ensure I have a Hammer gel handy just in case I start to feel a little light headed. There is nothing worse than being 5 or 6 km from home and becoming hypoglycemic – my ears start to buzz, I start to see auras around objects and I generally feel awful. A quick intake of gel resolves this within minutes.

Whatever the training activity, have a plan. Know the objectives of the session. If it is a run, know your route, pace, time and distance. If it is a swim, review the outline the night before and have it on something you can take poolside. When you waffle in the morning about whether you really want to get up or not, it is easier to just get your feet out of bed and on the ground when you know what the goals are for that day.

Finally, be realistic. You went to bed planning to get up and do the activity you prepared for; however, things can happen overnight. You might not have slept well, you might have had your sleep interrupted by something, you might have gone to bed later than you hoped, or you might wake up just not feeling rested and energized. Be forgiving and gracious with yourself, not every day is the perfect day for morning training. Sometimes it needs to be rescheduled to later in the day or even another day. Be flexible with your training; at the end of the week most of it will get done but perhaps not in the order you had originally intended.

When I get asked about how I find the time to train and still work and meet family commitments, my response is: “There are two 5:30s in the day and I embrace them both.” I am hopeful these tips get you thinking about starting your day with some exercise. Endorphins, our feel-good hormones, are stimulated with exercise. Get them circulating and start your day on a positive note!

Time for the Slower Route

hammercanada September 19, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

There is definitely something special about reaching the summit of a mountain trail. The crisp, fresh air accompanied by the views that complement the difficulty of your path to that moment; it all seems to take your breath away (or maybe that’s just the altitude).

I have reached a fair share of mountain peaks in my life so far, but mostly just by bike. But on my trip to Banff with my hometown best friend, I found a new joy in the 3km/hour pace to reach a goal by foot. At first, this slower speed and therefore shorter distance able to travel bothered me (I must really have an internal need for speed). I kept imagining how much faster, easier, and more fun it would be if I could just rip through sections on my 29er mountain bike wheels. It took a few days, but slowly I began to really slow down mentally and not feel the need to rush the path. I was able to really take in the terrain of each meter of the trail, therefore enjoying the journey more than just the destination (so deep am I right…. But for real). I think this, plus the fact that you needed nothing but your own two feet, is what made the rugged summits seem that much more special and different. Not to mention, I had these experiences with someone who I’ve grown up with, yet who has never before had the chance to even see mountains. Her fresh, raw wonder and admiration was completely infecting. Together, we were able to enjoy these new experiences; looking forward to the mountain peak accompanied by our favourite Hammer Nutrition bars!

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This was the perfect off-season vacation for me to mentally separate myself from training and racing stress, before heading back to McMaster for the next 8 months of studying. Those Banff hiking trails have reset my system so I’m prepared for what’s up!

What’s your next adventure and Hammer fuel of choice?

Fueling for Stage Races: Raid International Gaspésie

hammercanada September 8, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador Brad Jennings of Explore The Backcountry

While many bemoan the inevitable end of summer, I tend to get a little excited when the 1st rolls around. This is prime race month, when an entire season of training boils down to a handful of events…

First up is the Raid international Gaspésie and Wilderness Traverse (RIG), a 4 day, 300km stage adventure race running from September 8th to 11th. This will be my third time venturing out to the East coast and the beautiful Gaspésie region of Quebec for the race. Joining us will be 164 athletes on 70 teams from 13 countries.

A stage race differs from traditional multi-day adventure racing, whereby teams complete a course each day before turning into camp for the evening. Typically, these races are fast paced, as the opportunity to rest and refuel each night means teams can focus on smashing through a course vs conserving energy for the constant grind of non-stop day and night racing. During a stage race, teams will cover ~100km in as little as 6hrs, a far cry from the typical 12-24hrs it would take teams on a traditional expedition length race.

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Fueling for stage races takes a different approach, as time spent at camp means you have valuable recovery time. My two not-so-secret weapons for a top performance at RIG will undoubtedly be Perpetuem and Recoverite. On my last expedition race, I fuelled primarily with Perpetuem and wound up feeling solid as we raced for ~500km and 72hrs to a convincing 2nd place category finish (4th overall)! It’s no surprise I’ll be turning again to this long distance wonder fuel. We’re aiming to get on the podium this year at RIG, so you can be sure my water bottles will contain some Caffé Latte and Chocolate variants! The Recoverite will help to rebuild muscle tissue and reduce soreness from a brutal day of battling mountains, rivers and the ocean, ensuring I’ll be good to go for the next day of racing.

My teammate Jess has already made the switch to Hammer following our successful expedition race and has fuelled her way to top performances on and off the AR circuit, including qualifying for the world duathlon championships. Needless to say, we’re both amped for RIG, and feel it will be the best edition yet!

Check out Brad’s Get Out There video diary from 2015: 

Prolouge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOpss8Ir0R0

Day 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LqzheYkISw

Day 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uspnrr13cQ

Day 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6Zlldp6a00

 

Train for Life

hammercanada September 7, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Spring McClurg of Pebbleshoo

What are you training for?

This is an often asked question amongst athletes, amateur or elite. Often due to the goal oriented activities that they pursue, it seems that they are always at some point of the training cycle to prepare for a specific race, climb or trip into the mountains. However, training is about so much more than one specific goal or event, it’s about being prepared for the ultimate goal…LIFE!

It’s not about chasing the perfect body, the perfect race time or being better than someone else. Training for life is about being the best version of yourself to live the life you have always wanted to live. It’s about doing things that are tough, that make you out of breath and really fight for what you want. Never allowing mental or physical abilities to get in the way of life.

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I never want to feel like I am missing out on an opportunity to watch a sunset on a mountain top or unable to work through my fear to be able to climb hundreds of feet up a cliff face. For me personally, when the outdoors is your life and all you want to do is spend your time out there…then training is about a commitment to living the healthiest life possible.

Training for life is not always about being the best there is, but it is about being the best version of yourself. It’s about not cheating yourself out of opportunities for growth and experiences that you might otherwise miss had you not put in the effort. Afterall, the very best experiences in life are when you put yourself out of your comfort zone, whether that be emotionally, mentally or physically. When our minds and bodies are stretched passed the limits we set for ourselves, that’s when life opens up to us and we feel like we are truly “living”.

New experiences, opportunities and a full life is out there waiting for each and every one of us, so let’s get out there and starting training hard for this one beautiful life!

4 Tips for New Adventure Racers

hammercanada September 6, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings of Explore Backcountry

So you’ve heard about Adventure Racing and want to dive into this backcountry endurance sport to find out what it’s all about!? Great! It’s an awesome sport, and you’re going to love it! Getting into the sport can be a little daunting, but if done properly, you’re guaranteed to have a blast and keep racing. I’ve been racing for over 6 years, 3 on an international level, and have learned a few tips and tricks along the way. Here are my 4 essential tips for newcomers to the support.

#1 Start Small

It’s one thing to get amped over the idea of your first adventure race, but it’s another to actually see it through to the end. One way to ensure you’ll cross the finish line in good spirits is to start small and work your way up. Jumping into an expedition length race with little prior experience is not recommended, as you’re likely to crash and burn pretty quickly. Start by aiming to complete a 4-8hr sprint race. These are perfect entry level races that scratch the surface of the AR world. You can work your way up to a 12-24hr race before venturing into the wild world of expedition length races (+72hrs). These races are vastly different in terms of strategy, fueling and difficulty, and only experience at shorter events will give you the necessary skills to effectively tackle them.

#2 Learn the Basics

Traditional AR features 5 distinct disciplines; paddling, biking, trekking, rope work and orienteering with varying combinations and challenges of each (i.e. white-water rafting, mountain climbing). The sprint races typically forego the ropework and added variance, so if you’re new to the sport, concentrate on improving your core AR skills. You’ll want to spend time on a mountain bike and familiarize yourself with technical double track or loose gravel roads, as this is typically what you’ll be riding. Next, head out into the backcountry and improve your bush speed, that is, the speed at which you move off-trail. Often overlooked, bush speed is an integral aspect of AR and requires dedicated training unto itself. Fast trail runs don’t always translate into quick off-trail pushes, so experience is an asset. While you’re out there, work on your orienteering skills, as you’ll need to navigate to checkpoints in a race. Less time going in circles means less energy wasted! Finally, get on the water and work on your paddling. Use kayak blades in a canoe and work on endurance and form. Many AR teams lack strong paddlers, so it’s a great way to chew up some distance and widen that gap!

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#3 Accumulate Gear Slowly

It’s no secret AR is an expensive sport. If you’re just starting out, you won’t need to buy all the top-of-the-line gear. Borrowing gear from others is a great way to familiarize oneself with different options. Have a look at what other teams use and ask what works for them. You’ll quickly learn what does and doesn’t work for you, without the disappointment of spending a ton of cash. Save your cash and watch for sales, or cruise websites for gear swaps.

#4 Fuel Properly

Adventure racing is an extreme endurance sport, and the key to successfully completing one is to listen to your body and fuel properly. Races over 48hrs will have your head spinning from sleep deprivation and crazy cravings, but for short races, you can focus on sustaining current output and proper post-race recovery. Fueling on course with Perpetuem and Hammer Bars compliments any whole foods you may crave and sustains your body for maximum performance throughout the duration of the event. When the dust has settled and the race is over, grab some Recoverite to reduce that post AR muscle ache and speed your body’s recovery.

Training with the enemy

hammercanada September 5, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

As athletes we are constantly looking to improve ourselves and the easiest point of measurement is our opponents.

Adventure racing is a pretty small community compared to some of the larger IronMan and Mud races. This makes it difficult to learn and hone your skills for the various disciplines as most commercial trainers don’t have a deep knowledge of what it takes to race and navigate coherently for such long durations. How much should you train? How do you need to fuel? These are very important questions and figuring out the answers through trial and error at races becomes be time-consuming and de-motivating.

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Over the past year I have been making great friends and connections in the adventure racing community and have recently started training and talking strategy with other racers. It’s amazing what you can learn from running, biking, paddling or navigating with people other than your teammates. I look forward to each of our workouts together, as they also include great war stories from being on-course and it’s easy to relate to them as you may have been just behind them coming into the finish line.

Training with other adventure racers works as a support network and “carrot” on the trail to push the pace to the next level. In doing so, I know we have each managed to push our abilities and challenge our weaknesses whether technical or physical. Last year I even got one of them hooked on the benefits of Hammer products.

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Idea’s that we have each come away with:

  • Food on course (Aside from fuels) – (Peanut butter bacon wraps, Sweet Potatoes)
  • Mid race treats- Mars bars, Wine gums etc
  • Better on water Navigation and paddling techniques
  • Two person navigating vs solo (one on Compass, one of terrain reading)
  • Managing team breakdowns
  • Using gel flasks for concentrated Perpetuem
  • Navigational route choices

Going forth I challenge you to work with your race day rival to improve your performance.

Nutrition is the key

hammercanada September 4, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk of Run Like a Girl

Picking up the pace, and pushing the distance farther this year has taught me a lot about nutrition. If you don’t have your nutrition dialed in, you are not going to have a successful race. I have had highs and lows during races, I have battled nausea and even a little throwing up. But everything I have learned has come through experience.

During the Knee Knacker this year, one of my big goal races, I pushed it like I never have before. Half way through, I thought I had been on the ball with eating, but as I slogged my way up Grouse Mountain, I started to feel so nauseous. And then for the first time ever during a race, I threw up. Once I was able to settle my stomach with some Ginger ale, and was able to get some proper nutrition in, my race as back on. I came out of the slump and felt amazing again. The power of food and hydration will get you through a race.

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Here are the most important nutrition tips I have learned:

  1. Early Nutrition is key: This is especially true for longer races. An hour in might feel too early to pack back some calories especially if you’ve just eaten breakfast, but in reality is the key time to start. The key is to think about getting 100-200 calories in an hour. For short races, gels are perfect for this, a quick 100 calories goes down super easily. For longer races, you want to consider solid food.
  1. Real Food helps: Gels are great for short races and for a quick burst of energy when you’re feeling low, but what will really help you is real, solid food. Make sure at aid-stations you are eating the PB and J sandwiches, the potatoes or the chips. Make sure you pack bars with you that are densely packed with nutrition and calories. My personal favourite are the Hammer Nutrition chocolate, cashew, coconut bars.
  1. Electrolytes: You loose so many electrolytes when you are running, through your sweat, through your breath and your pee. You need to replace what you are loosing. My personal strategy is to have just plain water in my bladder and then electrolytes in my soft flasks so that I have a bit of both. Endurolytes work wonders for long runs and runs that are hot.
  1. Most issues can be solved with food and hydration: Cramping? Nauseous? Bonking? Force yourself to get some calories in. I promise you will feel better. You are blasting through calories during a race, especially longer ones. You metabolism is sky high and your calorie need goes up. A lot of issues during a distance run can be due to the fact that you are either hungry or dehydrated.
  1. Don’t play catch up: If you are already feeling hungry, it is too late. You should never let yourself get to the point where you feel hungry or it will be very hard to get that hunger under control. Stay on top of your nutrition, eat early on, eat more than you think you should and don’t wait till you feel hungry before you eat. Be proactive instead of reactive. Drink sips or water and electrolytes continuously through out your run so that you don’t end up feeling dehydrated. It is better to stay on top of it then to have to play catch up.

A busy season of stage racing

hammercanada September 1, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

I have been remiss in my Hammer Athlete blog writing, as it has been a little too long since I tapped the keyboard. The Summer race season is all to quickly approaching closure. The stage racing listed below (in bold) have more than occupied the past 3 months. Racing multi-day races has always been my preference as I feel I get stronger as each race unfolds. This is likely due to the level of fitness I have been fortunate to maintain through the year what with many hours of training completed week after week.

  • Canadian National Championships – Time Trial and Road Race
  • Coupe des Amériques – 3 stages
  • Cascade Cycling Classic – 4 stages
  • GP de Matapedia – 6 stages

This year I retained my Canadian National Time Trial Championship title but lost the Road Race title to Lorenzo Caterini who was a better race tactician than me and bested me on the finish line by half a bike length. A few weeks later, I took the lessons learned from the National Road Race and applied them at Coupe des Amériques for the overall win. After which, I packed my race bikes up and flew out to Bend Oregon to race the historic Cascade Cycling Classic. This is a race I hope to return to again next year and maybe have an improved race result amongst that very strong talent pool of riders. Bend Oregon is an amazing high mountain town amassed with active fit people. It was rewarding to be racing the Cascade Cycling Classic along side my Hammer Nutrition teammates, Hunter Ziesing and Todd Parks. But what made the trip most memorable was the wonderful welcoming hospitality of our local Bend, Oregon hosts, Ben and Anouk. They made sure I took in the must do – floating the Deschutes River attraction; which hundreds of locals and visitors partake in, to cool off by floating on rafts and boards through the heart of Bend.

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The Highlight race of the past few months though was GP de Matapedia, a 6 stage race held over 5 days. Hammer Nutrition gave me permission to ride as a guest rider for the East Coast Maritime team – Craftsman Construction, which consisted of 6 of us older lads. We were all up for the huge challenge of racing bikes over 5 days and 6 races. We were up against some much younger talent, but we raced as a team and all managed in some small way to help get our teammate Cory Jay to a 5th place over-all after 6 stages. Cory also had two 3rd place podiums on the final two race stages while riding like an accomplished pro he was once many moons ago.

I can’t stress the importance of proper nutrition enough. Taking those few extra minutes to refuel is likely the most important things I do to improve my race day results. The Hammer bar (all flavours) and Hammer Perpetuem – Caffé Latte are my staple training ride nutritional must have. And I’m pretty sure that this “old dog” would not have the ability to race and train day after day without my chocolate flavoured Hammer Recovery drink mix.

My next bike race will be the Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont followed up by the Appalachian Classic in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Hammer on!

Newbies on the bike

hammercanada August 31, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

There is a lot to learn in triathlon; while being technically good in the swim saves energy and time, the biggest portion of the event is the bike. The bike is my favorite discipline of the three and something that I have spent a lot of time training. I just finished my 8th long distance triathlon in Mont Tremblant (a few pictures below) and thought I would share my thoughts on the technical aspect of the bike because riding 180km well takes more than just pedalling fast.

 

Tip #1: practice running with your bike. While this might seem counter-intuitive as you are supposed to be RIDING your bike, in triathlon there can be quite a distance from where your bike is racked and where you can start riding it. Transition zones are crowded with lots of people moving in and out so not only are you running with your bike (usually in cycling shoes), but you are also going through an obstacle course. The better you are at moving you and your bike in the right direction, the faster your time. Road bikes are best handled with one hand on the stem; time trial bikes tend to move well when pushed from the back of the seat.

Tip #2: the mount line…this is the line that you must cross before you can start riding. But it does not mean that you have to mount your bike 1mm over the line. People tend to cross this line in the middle of the road and then right away try and step on, swing a leg over or mount the bike in whatever their preferred style. There is a lot going on and a lot of people all excited about riding because they survived the swim and are heading out to leg 2. My suggestion, run a little further with your bike (50 to 75m), pull over to a side and then mount your bike. Much easier than trying to get on your bike in the middle of congested traffic and less risk of being accidentally taken out by another not so stable rider.

Tip #3: now that you are riding, settle in for 10 minutes or so. Then start fuelling. Know what is in your bottles and where they are on your bike – I have water between my aero bars, food in the front cage (for me this is Hammer Perpetuem), and energy/electrolyte in the back (Hammer HEED). In the bento box I have gels (lots of Hammer Nocciola, Peanut Butter, and Raspberry). As you go through the aid stations, start calling out for what you want/need. The volunteers are great at getting you what you need but you have to be loud and calling for what you want BEFORE you get there. Know what order the offerings are in – it is most often water first, then electrolyte, followed by gels and food (usually bananas) and then water and electrolyte as you exit. Each race is different so know how things are set up for your event. And practice fuelling without looking! If you swerve all over while trying to retrieve or replace your bottles, you are a hazard to yourself and others.

Tip #4: focus on improving your bike fitness before spending a lot of money on toys. I see a lot of people on beautiful time trial (TT) bikes but they are riding them like road bikes. TT bikes are ridden in the aero position most of the time, you might come out to the flight deck when climbing but these bikes are designed to be aerodynamic. If you are not comfortable in this position for 5-6 hours or more, then improving your back flexibility and core strength on a road bike might be a better use of your time and energy. In addition, you can have all the aero toys you want; but you have to maintain an average speed of 30km/hr for the aerodynamics of the bike, helmet, or wheels to have any effect on your ability to cut through the wind. I pass people riding slowly with full discs and aero helmets; discs are heavy and aero helmets don’t breathe all that well. Save these items as rewards to be purchased once you have completed a few races and worked on your bike performance and overall speed.

Tip #5: similar to traffic flow in a car, keep right except to pass. It is a penalty if you block other riders from passing, and it is a penalty for other riders if their only option is to pass you on the right. So, ride on the far right, watch for the draft zone, shoulder check before pulling out to pass, pass, and then get back right. This makes for a nice riding environment for everyone.

Your bike performance and fuelling sets you up for the marathon that comes after so it is important to get it right. Happy Hammering on the pedals. Hopefully these 5 tips help you train and race better!

Setback or Opportunity

hammercanada August 30, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Spring McClurg of Pebbleshoo

It’s likely happened to you or at least to someone you know. The day you discover the difference between good pain and bad pain. The kind of pain that stops you in your tracks and you know means you have to stop doing the one thing you love because it only makes the pain worse.

Injury.

The word alone used to make me cringe. An injury can set the grieving process in motion and you can grieve for a deep loss of something that you love, something that makes you feel whole; it can feel a lot like losing a part of yourself. I know that this is personally how I have felt and continue to feel at times.

However, in dealing with a recent chronic injury that has encouraged a forced break from trail running, I have also had the chance to realize that the injury doesn’t define me. It doesn’t mean I won’t get back what I lost. Rather, it’s given me a shift in focus and allowed me to reassess my goals, to really think about why I do the things that I love and the opportunity to realize how much I really do love them. Taking a forced break is an excellent way to look at your life from the outside, a different perspective that allows you to dig deep within yourself.

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Away from the miles on the trails, away from the focus of goal setting and away from the thick of it all you can create, rediscover and even reignite the passion for the activity that you are not able to do or find a new activity to love. This shift in focus has made me realize I am more than the activity that I choose to spend my time doing , that my body deserves time to rest and that it’s ok to take a break.

Most importantly I am doing my best to think about this injury as an opportunity rather than a setback. It’s not easy, but just like trail running or any other physical pursuit, it’s more about the process than the end goal. That’s where we learn, where we become better and where we gain perspective.

Building a successful adventure racing team

hammercanada August 29, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

It can seem a daunting task to put together a team of athletes who you would be comfortable spending 12+ hours with on a course while pushing your physical limits. Success is not just measured in your time but in your finishing state.

The following are the standard principles of a successful team.

Each person needs to be comfortable and capable of carrying themselves through the course, but also manage an independent task. These can vary between the few key roles:

  • Navigator
  • Pacer
  • Pack Mule
  • Motivator

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Every team member may perform more than one of these role, but they need to have at least one to contribute.

The navigator has the important and stressful task of guiding everyone to the finish line efficiently and this requires a lot of concentration on course to read features and bearings.

The pacer is generally separate from the navigator, this is typically your fastest runner who can manage pace counting on course to measure distance and give feedback to the navigator while on course.

The pack mule must be strong enough to carry their own equipment and sometimes a teammate’s bag and/or tow line to help them pull through a rut.

The motivator is there to keep the humour going through the race. It’s easy to lose focus and forget you are supposed to be having fun on course, so having someone cracking jokes while wading through waist deep mud can really change the attitude of a team.

Each teammate may have particular strengths (IE the pack mule on the run is not the same as the pack mule on the bike).

Setting boundaries on decision making is also a hard task to manage, you need to set time limits on stops and have a final decision maker on decisions in the group if members are indecisive or at a stalemate.

Last but not least and the key rule to a successful team, leave the egos at the start line. You’re here to complete a race together and your teammates will notice your weaknesses before they become apparent to you. You need to be able to accept the help they give when you need it. This may include:

  • Being given food/water
  • Having your pack taken
  • Passed a gel
  • Put onto the tow line.

Leaving these egos behind has always allowed us to push ahead of teams and none of these incidents are discussed off course to avoid any embarrassment.

More than Nutrition from Hammer

hammercanada August 9, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

As I prepare for my last World Cup race of the season in Mt. St. Anne this weekend, Hammer Nutrition has been there at every turn.

My Hammer Nutrition shorts were flashy, fast, and comfortable as I have been dialing my lines on the insanely demanding course for the past couple days.

This World Cup will be a special one as it is my first World class race on Canadian soil! I am lucky to have the support of my family and many friends here, who usually can’t make it overseas to watch me race in person.

Race morning is always hectic, so race and recovery fuel is always prepared the night before.

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My race fuelling check list

✔️ Heed in bottles
✔️ Endurolytes in each bottle
✔️ Gels
✔️ Recoverite in my Hammer Nutrition Shaker bottle

 

Many components need to come into line on race day to perform: physical, mental, and nutritional aspects. Thanks to Hammer Nutrition I have confidence in my fuelling for tomorrow, and thanks to countless dedicated training sessions I have confidence in my physical and mental abilities.

Wish me luck!!!

Could you live with a triathlete?

hammercanada July 29, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

I consider myself an easy going, positive person to be around, but reflecting on my most recent race weekend in Calgary prompted me to put myself in my husband’s shoes and take a good long look at what living with me is like. I am caring and loving (and even bring him coffee in bed in the morning) but there is usually a lot going on during  training days and race weekends; so I rely heavily on his help and support.

Firstly, there is a requirement for local and far away travel. This season alone, I am racing in Victoria, Kelowna, Calgary, Peachland, Vancouver, Mont Tremblant, Whistler, and Cozumel. Some are drivable, others require plane travel. Most of our travel involves some form of athletic event! Even discounting races, my training can take me anywhere in the Greater Vancouver area. I recently exited the vehicle en route home from Kelowna one Sunday morning to ride from Bridal Falls (near Aggasiz) to home in North Vancouver. This left my spouse driving the rest of the way on his own. On another weekend, I rode from Abbotsford to the top of Mount Baker. I made it to the top but after 3 flats on the descent, needed rescuing which meant a long drive and border crossing for Rob. I will often run to Kits Pool and Rob drives there to meet me with my swim gear.

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Secondly, a triathlete generates a LOT of laundry and doing the laundry is a scientific process. Anyone who runs knows about the piles of sweaty shorts, tops and socks but add in swim towels, swim suits, and cycling gear and you get mountains. And of course, these garments get washed on their own and are never put in the drier so stuff is hanging all over the place until dry enough to put away.

Thirdly, there will be water bottles everywhere you look but be careful which ones you use. I recently cleaned out my car and found no less than 4 empty bottles rolling around. I have my favorites; certain ones fit better on my bike, some are used strictly for Perpetuem, while others are water only.

A fourth consideration is the “want” list. We once went into a high end cycle shop to check out new wheels and I started off with “I am in need of…” when the clerk stopped me. He said, “We don’t have anything here you NEED…but we do have lots of things you WANT.” The want list resurfaces on birthdays, Christmas, pay days or really any day when the opportunity presents. Cautionary note, the want will probably be presented in such a way to demonstrate a need.

Living with a triathlete also means you become well versed in compression garments. You will know the difference between compression socks, calf sleeves, Race/Recovery tights. You might even have a pair or two yourself and start to appreciate the bright colors.

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You will also become very well educated in sports nutrition. You will know the purpose of a gel, what flavour of Endurolytes Fizz you prefer, and what a 4-hour bottle means (for those of you not living with a triathlete, this is a concentrated bottle of Perpetuem mixed up to be consumed over 4 hours). And when it comes to regular nutrition, you will learn that triathletes might be hard pressed to share ANY of the food on the plate if it has been a long training day or a post-race meal.

I train for a lot of hours each week, some of them on the trainer in the living room (oh, that’s another thing, you will likely have a bicycle in the living room and a treadmill in your garage…). I am up early so most mornings are alarm driven or I am training after work which cuts into evening relaxation.  We do capitalize on the time we have and take those stolen moments to remain connected (like the unexpected long drive back from Mt Baker) and we do swim together most times.

I do appreciate that Rob is up just as early as me on race day, because, well, he keeps me calm and helps settle the pre-race nerves as he chauffeurs me to the start line. In reviewing all of these, maybe triathletes are not that hard to live with after all. These points don’t seem that onerous do they? Perhaps you’d better ask Rob…

Cherish the Travels

hammercanada July 13, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

As an aspiring professional mountain biker, I travel a lot (all over the world, but mostly to Europe, USA, and across Canada). All of these trips are very focused…you aren’t on a relaxing, tropical vacation. No, you have a job to do, and you don’t have much time to do things other than ride, recover, eat, and sleep.

 

Especially at big races, you’re very determined to make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared for the big day. You don’t want to waste valuable energy on something that won’t help you perform. This means, for example, when you’re race is on the 3rd and last day of racing at World Championships (talking about myself here), you can’t go to the race site to watch all your friends and teammates do their races which is before yours. You are back in your hotel room recovering and staying primed and focused on your own race.

 

Also, up to this point, even though you’ve been in the Czech Republic for almost a week now, a country you’ve never seen before, you technically still haven’t really even seen it yet because you’ve only been in your hotel and at the race site. Now don’t get me wrong, the scenery is AMAZING. And it is so fun and inspiring to be with Team Canada doing what I love to do… Ride my bike on rad trails around the world! Not to mention this is a race I’ve been looking forward to for a year.

 

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But yes, I have yet to experience any real Czech culture, and I think it is so important to make sure you do experience the real culture of your travels. So that is why, after my race, my friends and I stayed a few extra days in Prague to explore and have simple fun being a tourist, rather than flying home the next day. There really is no way to change the pre-race routine because you are there on a mission, but after the race I think of it as my new duty to enjoy where I am. If you don’t do that, you will travel all around the world but never see a thing, except the hotel and race sites. You don’t want to be in Czech, France, or Norway and say to you’re self, “Wow, this place seems really cool, I hope I can come back here and actually see it later on in my life”. NO, you are there NOW. Live your life like you won’t get that incredible opportunity again.

 

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Becoming a Happy Mutant: Racing the 72hr Olmitz Miner

hammercanada July 12, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings of Explore the Backcountry

In May, my AR teammate Jess and I, headed down to Ottumwa Iowa to race the Happy Mutant Olmitz Miner, a ~500km, 72hrs non-stop expedition length adventure race. The name is seemingly appropriate, as you have to be some sort of mutant to attempt/endure a race like this.

The race got underway with a fast paced prologue section that saw racers scramble around the city of Ottumwa in an urban Score-O. As we were hunting down checkpoints, the weather took a turn for the worse and strong storms blew in.

After a brief lightning delay, we were on the water, and heading down the Des Moines River for a 70km paddle leg. The rain was ferocious and navigation was rendered incredibly difficult. Headlamps failed to pierce the darkness as they merely refracted off the wall of water back at us. By the time we arrived at the transition area we resembled a pair of drowned rats. A quick UTM map plot of our next section and refuelling was in order before we hit the 20km trek through Lacey-Keosauqua State Park. As morning dawned, the rains eventually gave way to hot, humid weather.

We then tackled an imposing 240km bike ride through the wilds of the Iowa country side. Progress was generally good and the leg was more of a grind save for a few B-roads which stymied all forward progress. The recent monsoon had left most of these B-roads in a deplorable state of mud and clay. The thick clay clung to the bike like wet cement and made riding an impossible task. Forced to carry our bikes, we embarked on several lengthy ‘hike-a-bike’ segments.

Riding through the day and into the heart of night two, we rolled into our next TA in the middle of the night. Everyone had opted to skip out on the next paddle leg and a few teams were tucked away in their bivy sacks, catching some sleep. Jess caught 45mins of sleep at the TA while I hammered out route options for the next segment, before we huffed it another 65km to a trek leg.

The day would dawn as the worst for us. It was the mid-way mark of the race the race and we faced a heap of issues. It all started with the mother of all B-roads and a 3km ‘hike-a-bike’ section. My bike quickly fell victim to the horrendous conditions as it succumbed to a double flat, broken spokes and a clay choked derailleur which ultimately gave me 2 gear options. Exhausted and beat, we limped into the next trekking section. Our run of issues continued as Jess left our CP passport back in the TA bin, a discovery that was made deep in the woods and far away from our bin. Frustrated, I led us on a bit of a wild goose chase through the woods and we burned up valuable time, going back and forth from the TA. Ultimately, we only managed to snag 2 CP`s in 5hrs.

The ‘fun’ continued as we cycled a further 65km into the night. By this point, the sleep monsters were hitting me hard and I found myself swerving all over the trails. Jess lost the function of her brakes and gears after her chain got caught in her cassette but somehow after 45mins of tinkering I managed to fix it for her. Looking back, I’m not sure what was wrong and how I fixed it. The whole process seemed like a dream. The repair job did manage to jostle me awake, either that, or the Caffe Latte Perpetuem was kicking in.

My first full sleep of the race occurred at 4am on night 3, for a lengthy hour…. That seemed to rejuvenate me and we did well on the next leg, knocking off a ~30km of trekking before grabbing the bikes and making our way 90km back to the finish line, in Ottumwa Iowa.

Things I learned

I can handle sleep deprivation really well – Including drive and pre/post-race preparations I was up 86hrs, with only 1hr of sleep.

Perpetuem is a fueling lifesaver – I can’t stress this enough. It was the first big race I’ve fuelled heavily with the stuff and it worked wonders. Jess is hooked too, and picked up a bunch for her upcoming Ironman.

Iowa IS NOT flat –This is a horrendous myth that only leads to frustration when staring down endless roll hills.

Training hard and over-training

hammercanada July 5, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk

There is a fine balance. I think I dipped ridiculously close to the latter recently. It can be pretty hard to achieve a perfect balance of training, working, spending time with family and friends, and regular life stuff without getting totally wiped out. I am not the only one who has experienced feeling totally exhausted from it all and I won’t be the last, however it is really comforting to know that friends and other runners have felt this way before. The balance comes from wanting to push yourself towards your goal, but respecting that you are human and that your life demands a lot from you.

I am not a professional athlete, but I arguably train if not at the same intensity, but the same volume as one. I try and get a massage once a week, mix in cross training, long runs, short runs, hill repeats, speed work, healthy eating and more. All while holding down a full time nursing career, my own business and being a dog mum, wife and many other things. I want what most athletes want. I want finish lines. I want to do my best. I want to achieve things I never thought possible. I want to get faster and stronger. I want to do what I love.
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But there has to be a balance or you are going to A. burn out, B. get injured and or C. over train. The most important thing I have learned through out all this is listen to your body:

1. If you feel there are any big red flags… accept them! If you are feeling over tired, with heavy legs, more than what would be expected after a hard training run… let off a little bit. If you have just put in a few hard weeks, take it down a notch for a week.

2. Get in those rest days! Kick your feet up, chill out and relax. Your body needs those days more than you might think you do.

3. Eat right. Highly nutritious foods, good amounts of protein and carbs. Fuel your body with what it needs the most.

4. Sleep in. Go to bed early. However you want to get those extra zzz’s in… get them in!

5. Enjoy yourself. Ultimately we train like crazy because this is who we are and this is what we love. So don’t be so hard on yourself if you need to take a rest or your feeling a little more tired.

It is a fine line… but seriously, just listen to your body. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Recognizing the Bonk (and how to stay friends)

hammercanada June 23, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

Its 35°c, you have been on the water for 3 hours drinking the rank tap water from the hotel room and after 3 years of racing together, you feel like throwing your teammate overboard for no reason. Sometimes we get caught up in the race movement so much, that we don’t always see when we are on our way into a bonk. I actually experienced this with my recent 40km canoe race with my teammate.

I used this opportunity to think to myself, what symptoms were we showing that could be easily recognized and I came up with the following list:

1) Slowing pace

2) Not noticing interfering objects

3) Wanting to sink the boat as you think it keeps turning itself right

4) Getting frustrated with your partner as you are convinced he is short counting his weaker paddling side

5) Not enjoying the race

We had actually been having a great race in the first 20km, it was only after the turnaround did we start to fall into these symptoms. No matter how often your race, you can’t always catch when you are in the pits of the race.

Upon our return trip and 30km in, I made us each take a Hammer Gel to see if we could improve morale. It only took a few minutes to take effect and we started making pace again towards the finish. We even managed to over take a few boats during this time to bring us into the finish, just a hair behind the next team.

I’m using this experience to learn from and not dwell on the frustrations from not catching it early. Each experience is unique and you just need to learn and carry on stronger from it!

Running Comfortably Numb

hammercanada June 22, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

Running Comfortably Numb…this was the plan for my Saturday in Whistler with a great group of women. As a triathlete, I know the importance of cross training but so often, the other things like strength training, yoga, TRX, and trail running get shoved aside because the focus needs to be on the swim, road bike and road run. There is only so much time in the day or week so it is already challenging enough to get in the 3 swims, 3 rides and 4 runs needed for long distance racing never mind adding in the luxury of something different or new.

Off to Wedgemount we went on Saturday, down to a party of three instead of five for various reasons. The weather was perfect as it was just a bit cool with some cloud cover and the promise of sun. We ventured complete with trail shoes, GPS watches and hydration packs stuffed with bars and gels to run this beautiful point to point trail. It is advertised as 800m up and 799m down over about 23km. Ultra-runner Marieve knew the way and was our leader for this adventure; Suzanne and I were newbies to this trail and followed along like ducklings.

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I have been working on my run speed and cadence on the road and used to really enjoy the trails before triathlon came into my life. I have not run in the trails regularly for a while so it was such a great reminder of the pleasure of running on softer surfaces in the absence of vehicle exhaust and stop lights. Fast feet or quick cadence is a benefit in the trail as it twisted and turned, went up, down and around, over rocks, roots, mud and logs. Periodically we had incredible views of Green Lake, Rainbow Mtn and other snow topped hills. Before long we had gained 500m elevation and were powering through gels and water. At 80 minutes it was time for more fuel and a mental check in on my energy. We still had another 300m elevation to gain and were not at the half way point just yet. This had been a big volume week for me as I had raced a half-iron the previous Sunday and had done long swims, rides and runs already in the days leading up to this trail run. The trail was not technical in North Shore terms; living in North Van you are introduced to some amazing trails that can be challenging in terms of elevation gain and run-ability, but it was long and I was averaging a much slower pace than what I run on the road. Those hydration packs are a necessity on long trail runs as you definitely need more than water – you need a smorgasbord and mine included peanut butter and chocolate Hammer gels and bars.

I was channeling my inner goat to keep up with Marieve and Suz although for most of this 23km run, all I saw were their backs! This trail was kicking my butt. It was called Comfortably Numb; however, I am not so sure it was appropriately named – very few bits were comfortable and the promised numbness never really came! It was great cross training though and a great reminder that it is ok to be uncomfortable as it is only temporary. My enjoyment of trail running has been re-invigorated so I think you will find me venturing out into nature a bit more often and becoming a stronger runner because of it.

Race-Your-Bike-a-Ton Month

hammercanada June 2, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

May is Race-Your-Bike-a-Ton Month here on the Eastern Part of the Canada.

After getting in a good training block coupled with two Stage Races while out in California, I arrived back home in Ottawa in early April to still near Winter conditions. It was a rare day in April and the first bit of May when you would see me riding without leg and arm warmers. But by the end of May we are finally seeing Spring in all its glory here. The trees have popped their leaves and I am once again working on my tan lines which I started back in California a couple of months back.

May is “Game On Time” here on the Eastern part of the continent. There are a number of excellent races each weekend to choose from and it is a shame to miss one because you chose another. I have been busy racing every weekend through May, treating each race as an addition to my preparation for the Canadian National Road Race Championships.

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Clarence-Rockland Classic – 87km of mixed gravel and broken pavement – 12th in the Open Category

Bristol Mountain Road Race – Won over-all in the mixed 35+/45+ category

Steve Bauer Classic – 123km – 12th in the Cat 1-2 category

Grand Prix Val-David – 93km – Won the M2 category

The 12th place at the Steve Bauer Classic was by far my best accomplishment in May. Racing amongst the top talent pool here in Ontario in the senior 1-2 category challenged both my fitness and race smarts. Fortunately, I managed to not embarrass myself by finishing 12th, last man of the chasing group which managed to chase down all the break-a-ways which kept forming. Just as one group of break-a-way rabbits were caught another group would jump free. In the end all the rabbits were caught except Ed Veal who was the last rabbit to get free.

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This weekend I raced in Quebec and foolishly put the Hammer down after coming out the far side of a very rough wash board gravel section with a 100m gap back to the field 5km into the race. I hoped that some guys would bridge up to me and we would work together for the remainder of the race. But that did not happen, so I soloed the remaining distance (race was 93km long) to win. Not a smart way to race your bike as I worked really hard and for a very long time in the heat to hold off the chasing field. PS the Hammer Endurolytes saved my bacon yesterday as it was a really hot humid day. If you look close in the above photo you will see how I tape three rows of three capsules to my top tube and handlebar stem.

Our Canadian National Road Race Championships are June 11 & 12. Hopefully I will have some good stories to write about after that number one event on my race calendar.

Hammer on!

The Baseline Fueling Worksheet

hammercanada June 1, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Rene Unser of www.pacesportsfitness.com

As a running coach, I am always amazed to see how many athletes down play their fueling. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that on one side of the coin, there is a general lack of knowledge and the other side of the coin, most people find it easier to just “wing it”.  Let’s face it… it takes time and a commitment to learn, a willingness to experiment and openness try new things.  To top it all off, this has to somehow fit into our busy schedules when all we really want to do is run…

So in an effort to help my athletes learn how to put the right fuels into their body, in the ideal amounts and at the right time, I have come up with an exercise I called “Baseline Fueling”.  Essentially, it’s a basic worksheet that helps athletes plan out and prepare their fueling plans and provides a baseline from which they can then tweak and adjust as their training continues.  I think it starts to really hit home once they lay out their fuel and actually see their calories laid out in-front of them.  Suddenly they realize that the 2-3 gummy candies they have been eating every hour doesn’t add up to much and how they grossly underestimate the amount of fluids they consume.

In order for this worksheet to be truly beneficial … athletes, of course, need to be committed.  Not only do they need to “start” this exercise, but they need to come home after their training run or race and weigh in on how well it went, where they potentially went off course and/or what worked or simply didn’t.  The idea is to then make any necessary adjustments, write out a new plan for the following workout and give it another try until they have success.  ______________________________________________________________________________

P.A.C.E. BASELINE FUELING WORKSHEET

DATE:

ACTIVITY: 

DINNER: 

BREAKFAST:

TOP UP PLAN:

HOURLY PLAN:

SUMMARIZE YOUR FUEL:

SUMMARIZE YOUR HYDRATION: 

POST RUN RECAP & CHANGES:

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WHERE TO START?

The following is an outline providing some very basic tips that will dramatically help improve your performance.  This information can also be found online, in the Hammer Nutrition “The Endurance Athlete’s Guide to Success” PDF.

  1. Caloric Intake: 120-180 calories per hour *rare circumstances may require slightly more. Fuel with complex carbs and not simple sugars (such as sucrose and fructose).  Complex carbs allow you to absorb more calories and use them for energy, opposed to simple sugars.
  2. After 2hrs of training, your fuel should incorporate a mix of protein at a ratio of about 8:1 carbs:protein. (5-15% calories come from protein)
  3. Hydration: keep fluid intake during exercise between 16 and 28 ounces per hour.
  4. Electrolytes:  Replenish, not replace.  You lose up to 2 grams of sodium per hour, burn up to 900 calories hourly and sweat up to 2 liters an hour.  Your body cannot replace fluids and nutrients at the same rate it depletes them. Replenish electrolytes with a balanced formula (not just salt) in amount appropriate for conditions. i.e. 2 endurolytes, 1-2 endurolytes extreme or 1-2 endurolytes Fizz per hour.
  5. Pre-Exercise Fueling: Before workouts and races, consume 300-400 calories. Complete your meal 3 hours before you start exercise.
  6. Top up plan: the goal is to keep your glycogen stores topped up from the time you eat breakfast to the time you start your run or race. If you’re race is early, don’t sacrifice sleep to eat.       Instead consume a small amount of supplemental fuel, such as 1 hammer gel, about 5 minutes before starting.
  7. Recovery: Replenish your body with carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after each exercise session, ideally within the first 30-60 minutes. Be sure to include 30-60 grams of high quality complex carbs and aim for a 3:1 carb/protein ratio. Try Hammer Nutrition Recoverite.

Dialing in your fueling takes time. Every “body” is unique and we all require a slightly different approach. I hope the baseline worksheet will help motivate you make improvements or simply provide reassurance that what you’re doing is working. Hammer On!

5 Training Camp Lessons

ryan May 30, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

Even though I have done several triathlons, there is always something to learn so off to Lifesport camp I went on the May long weekend. Here is a summary of my weekend take-aways:

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Lesson 1: You can never be too prepared (aka take LOTS of stuff)

As I packed up on Friday afternoon leaving North Vancouver and driving the 75-90 minutes to Whistler, I was glad I was the sole person in my car. My hatch was full, the back seat was full and my bike was on the roof. One very small person could have fit in the front seat provided my passenger would not mind holding onto my road snacks, coffee, water, CDs, wallet, and phone as they were currently occupying the front seat and floor. Training camp, especially in mountainous regions like Whistler, meant being prepared for any weather. The days leading up to camp were warm but the prediction for the weekend was not as favorable. I needed enough to comfortably dress for 3 rides, 2 runs and 1 swim, so I took practically everything I owned for these 3 days away.

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Lesson 2: You will be hungry

Along with every piece of biking gear and an array of athletic clothes, I also packed training nutrition and regular food. It can be a bit more expensive to grocery shop in village towns like Whistler and I was not sure how energetic I would be in and around training requirements. In order to avoid the “just feed me now, so fast food will do!” starvation foraging, I packed chicken, eggs, peanut butter, veggies, humus, whole grain bread, flavored coconut water and yogurt so I would have good choices for dinner and breakfast. During training, I use Hammer Perpetuem, Heed, bars and gels. Recoverite is my go-to for recovery and I knew I would need a bit of this for the weekend ahead. Into the hatch went my small cooler and large bag of training fuel.

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Lesson 3: Be flexible

The training camp plan was established a few weeks out and I went to camp prepared for the schedule. The Friday night email from Dan Smith, one of the coaches, changed the plan completely due to the change in forecasted weather. For some, this could be unsettling especially if there were expectations of what the weekend would be like. It is important to keep the main objective in mind – this is training so an opportunity to network with other athletes, learn from the coaching team, and get outside swimming, riding and running. It’s time to shake off the winter cobwebs from training indoors. Keep calm, carry on and roll with it.

Lesson 4: Have an open mind

While the camp is run by great coaches like Mark Shorter and Lance Watson, the attendees have varying degrees of triathlon and race experience. The coaches facilitate learning by formally lecturing on various topics but there are many opportunities to learn from others. Conversations with newbies, veterans, and pros can all result in lessons learned/reinforced or things to ponder – and when you are out for 100km and 60km rides it is good to have mental things to chew on!

Lesson 5: Anything can happen

This probably goes along with lesson 3 in being flexible but it is worth it to have this as a stand-alone lesson. My Sunday ride did not go as planned. It started out cloudy, it rained climbing up the Callaghan Valley, and the descent back down to Highway 99 was wet and blustery. I had just started to leave the bone chilled feeling behind about 10km outside of Whistler when I got a flat tire. When the roads are wet, it is harder to see small hazards and I picked up a hitch-hiker in the form of a small chunk of glass in my rear tire. I was prepared to handle this as I had a spare tube, tire levers and CO2 cartridges; however, this was the first flat with my new wheels and I had very cold hands. Try as I might, I did not have the dexterity to get that darn tire off the rim! My fingers were not functional and the longer I stood in the rain fighting it, the colder I was getting. I was rescued by the camp support vehicle driven by Mark squared (Overton and Shorter) and with the wonderful technology of the combustion engine finally got warm as my green machine and I were transported back to camp headquarters. On this day, I was very thankful for the longer brick run as a method of generating some internal heat.

Camp was fun! A shout out to Lifesport Coaching for an action packed weekend. I worked hard, played hard, and recovered well. I am now looking forward to my season-opener triathlon on June 12.

8 Tips for Racing Abroad

hammercanada May 26, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

Racing in Europe is a completely different story than North American racing. Aside from the actual race itself, there is a lot of important lifestyle details you must keep in mind leading into a big race you have flown over the ocean for. Whether you are staying in a tiny European Inn or you are in the comfort of your own home, you generally shouldn’t introduce anything new into your pre-race routine or diet. This is made especially difficult in Europe when you are usually staying in a tiny inn room (barely big enough for the single bed itself and you have your bike, bike bag, and big luggage), and you must eat out at foreign language restaurants (when translating goes wrong, you’re in for a surprise meal). When athletes have very specific things they like to or need to eat leading into a race, it’s hard to accommodate with little resources or options.

Here is a list of small things to pack that will make a big difference:

1. Your own pillow – I would recommend a full size pillow that can roll up to be portable. This is handy for air/car travel days, but also for hotel sleeping because the pillows provided are usually not what you are used to. This may cause unwanted neck pains or trouble sleeping.

2. Your own towel – A smaller one will do. Some places don’t provide enough towels, or you can bring this to race site to clean up after rides/race.

3. Rice cooker – Make sure it’s actually a European rice cooker that fits the wall plug in and can handle the European voltage. You can cook anything with a simple rice cooker! Inventive alternatives include: egg boiler, meat cooker, slow cooker, oatmeal cooker, etc.

4. Tupperware –  Used as travel bowl, plate, or to pack up leftovers or that day’s lunch.

5. Travel utensils – Very handy along with your Tupperware and rice cooker as you can make and eat a full meal in your tiny, ill-equipped closet room.

6. Travel mug – For your much needed coffee or tea. If any mugs/glasses are provided where you stay, Euro mugs are always tiny, and if you’re anything like me… only the large ones will do!

7. Natural Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is a rare find in the small European grocery stores (ya there really isn’t superstores like we have in Canada), but if you are lucky enough to find a small jar, it is never the healthy natural PB. Many athletes love peanut butter and it’s a great, usual snack to have while travelling.

8. Small foam roller – Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean those muscles don’t need the same care as at home… Quite the opposite actually! The travel, pre-race training, and racing means that your muscles may be tighter than usual and need to be in top shape for your performance! Rolling and stretching the same as you do at home is key for recovery and injury prevention.

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I could go on with this list for much longer! I am only on my third trip to Europe for World-level racing, and I’m always learning more tips through experience and older racers about making life on the road easier. I hope this helps you on your travels!

Chocolate Recoverite: The Cold Weather Cure

hammercanada May 18, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

This past weekend Mother Nature tested the summer mountain bikers with some winters weather and the second Ontario Cup showdown. The race was held at Duntroon highlands, and it was my last hard efforts and training race before heading to Europe the next day for World Cup races.

Leading into race day, it POURED for hours on end, and blowing snow froze us on the start line. Like some of the hard exams I had this year at university, this was weaning out the weaklings.

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The race itself was mayhem… if you can even call it a mountain bike race.  It was more of a running race, pushing/carrying a bike weighing 60lbs because of the mud. I ran at least 75% of that course.

It was actually a blast once you got over the craziness of the situation!

Usually after a race, no matter how cold it is, even for Nordic skiing races in the dead of winter, you can feel completely comfortable wearing scary little clothing for the current temperature, until your race-induced body temperature and adrenaline begins to decline. However, after this race I crossed the line, CAKED in mud and desperate for warmth.

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With my fingers feeling like wooden stubs from the cold, I grabbed my Hammer Nutrition Chocolate Recoverite powder, warmed up some almond milk and made the best cold-day recovery blend….. Hot chocolate!! The hot part coming from the almond milk, and the chocolate Recoverite satisfying my craving for chocolatey goodness. This is my cold weather cure


						

What kind of runner are you?

hammercanada May 17, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

If you have ever visited Vancouver or live in this west coast Canadian city, you will know that Vancouver is a city of runners. Head out to the iconic Stanley Park Seawall on any day and you will see a vast array of active people. Vancouver is host to the Bank of Montreal sponsored marathon on the first Sunday in May each year. I am running this marathon for the 10th time this year and in my training, covered a lot of geography while putting in the miles. I live on the North Shore which is a mountain biking and trail running mecca, and in my bipedal road journey through North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Vancouver proper I started to notice that runners could be grouped into certain categories. On your next venture out on foot, see if you can recognize any of these:

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The veteran: usually a small, wiry man with short grey hair wearing his 1983 Boston Marathon cotton singlet. The singlet is usually paired with shorts, mid-calf socks and fairly basic running shoes. Nothing too technical for this runner; he keeps it old school with just his watch.

The new parent: this could be mom or dad but the obvious marker for this runner is the occupied baby jogger. The proficiency of the runner will be dependent on the weight and age of the infant. The total newbies will be struggling to keep the jogger tracking straight and might also be jiggling the handle to settle the crying; the ones who have been doing it for a few months are a little smoother and less likely to need sudden defensive maneuvers when encountering other people.

The couple: this pairing can be quite comical to observe and overhear. Usually one of the pair has infused his/her love of running on the partner and the partner can be at various stages of investment in this joint activity. The original runner in the couple is cruising along and entertaining the partner with an endless stream of stories while the new to running runner is breathing hard and sweating profusely trying to keep up. If this running pair has been running together for a while, the chatter is still there but it is more a shared conversation versus a one way verbal delivery. Everything from social activities to the grocery list can be overheard.

The new to running: identifiable by very clean shoes, hydration waist pack and running jacket tied around the waist. Often seen doing a run/walk routine taught at a recent clinic.

The “pretty” runner: without imposing judgment, this is usually a 20s to 30s female. The running outfit matches and can still be seen in the popular shops meaning it is from this season. The hair is usually long and if pulled back, the pony tail is nicely groomed. Very little sweating is happening but credit to this person, she is not on the couch. She is out, moving forward and being active.

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The trail runner: this runner is usually identifiable by the hydration pack, really strong quads and dirty shoes. The hydration pack is stuffed with a light rain coat, as well as bars and gels for any unplanned exploration of new terrain that could extend the 2 hour run to 4 or more hours. If seen on the Seawall or streets, it is only because he/she was in the process of going from one trail to the next and this bit of road was a necessary inconvenience. Often you hear them coming as trail shoes have a more aggressive tread and make a different noise on the pavement. These runners also fly along on the road because there are no rocks, roots and uneven ground to slow them down.

The die-hard: this person is out there, usually at the same time of day and regardless of weather. He/she has a routine and nothing gets in the way. They have all the right gear and run year-round. The uber competitive: this is the runner that speeds up as you get close so as to not let you get in front of them. If you do happen to get in front, you won’t stay there long as your competitor will suck back a gel or find some energy to retake “first place”

The average runner: so, this is the rest of us. We throw on whatever is clean (usually hanging in the laundry room) or cleanest and after a quick check on the weather app head out the door for a pre-determined time or distance. Sometimes solo, other times in a group but really, no specific identifiers for this group.

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I put myself in the average category with a bit of die-hard and competitiveness thrown in so will run with a Hammer gel at the ready in case a fuel top up is needed for maintaining speed or covering the planned distance. Regardless of where you might fit into these categories, celebrate that you are out there living an active lifestyle. Vancouver offers mild winter temperatures and comfortable summers so there are very few excuses for not getting outside and moving. The next sunny day, head to the Seawall and see how many of these running creatures you can spot!

Training Smarter for Ultra Marathons

hammercanada May 13, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk of runlikeagirl.ca

Training for ultra marathons can be very taxing on the body. A lot of training miles are required, with hours on your feet, pounding your muscles, burning through all your fuel. It becomes a bit of a cycle… run long, stretch, eat, and repeat. And somewhere in there you are bound to experience moments of fatigue, extreme muscle soreness and crazy hunger. As a shift worker, I work long hours and I am on my feet a lot. Add that with my side business and training for ultras… you’ve got yourself a pretty good recipe for all of the above. I felt myself burning out, getting stagnant and not progressing or feeling stronger. In fact at times I was feeling the opposite.

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The smartest way to train is to listen to your body and hold back on the days that you feel tired. I have learned to stop just going as far as I can each run at the same pace. There are ways to train that will improve your speed, strength and recovery time and it doesn’t necessarily mean training longer or more. Before, I would just head out on a run and run whatever pace I felt that day, for however long I felt like going. Which is fine and awesome for a lot of people. But I felt I wanted more. I want to truly see how far and fast I can go, and push myself to new places, to push past my previous boundaries. The best way I thought possible was to hire a running coach.

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I am now working with Jen Segger (Challenge by choice) who has me on a training program and perfectly fits my life style. The runs and training sessions are geared more specifically for my schedule. When I run now, it is with more purpose, with more effort in the places I need to work on. I am feeling less burnt out, stronger and faster. Heading out for specific runs, with a goal in mind each run has motivated me to push myself harder and farther. I am finding myself so much more motivated to run faster, to climb steeper, the fly downhill, to go farther… and that makes me very, very happy!

So, there is a way to train smarter and better. You just have to be willing to put in a little extra effort!

The Two Creeks Misadventure

hammercanada May 12, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings

Call it a misadventure, call it epic, call it unforgettable.
One thing is for certain, our recent ‘Two Creeks Expedition’ did not go to plan.

Envisioned as an exploratory canoe route linking two creeks flowing from the Algonquin Dome to the mighty Ottawa River, it seemed like quite the amazing adventure. A +13km ‘portage’ linking the creek systems was supposed to be one of the greatest challenges, but we would soon learn environmental conditions were to be our greatest foe.

It was late April and the lakes and rivers of Southern Ontario were ice free. However, as we drove north, we witnessed a lingering winter. Conditions rapidly deteriorated within 50km of our put-in; frozen lakes and patchy snow in the bush. As we were primarily paddling creeks, we were less concerned with the iced lakes and snowy woods as the creeks were in a full torrent of ice-free melt water.

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Pushing our way upstream against the heavy spring flow was slow and arduous, but we were making progress. As we neared the first portage, we were greeted with an unwelcome sight; a path blanketed in over a foot of snow. Postholing under the burden of laden pack and canoe we made slow progress as every step was met with a hefty drop in the snow. Things got worse as we made our way further up the creek. We were gaining elevation fast as we bypassed countless waterfalls. Consequently, and much to our dismay, the snow depth was increasing. The expedition was beginning to appear futile as we attempted a rugged (read: not been used in decades) portage littered with blowdowns and waist deep snow. The 585m bushwhack slog took us over 3hrs.

By the second day we were kilometers off the preplanned goal. Stubborn, determined and with a degree of slight optimism, we forged our way deeper up the creek towards the headwaters. Little did we know, the worst was yet to come.

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As we approached a small lake where the creek slowed and widened, we discovered a blanket of ice as far as the eye could see. Too thick to break through and too unstable to support our weight, we had no practical way of bypassing the obstacle. This was as far as we could go. There was no way we could forge ahead given the remaining supplies and allocated supplies.
Iced-in, the final nail in hypothetical coffin for the expedition.

Not to be fully dismayed by less than optimal conditions, we made light of our situation and spent the remaining days taking our time paddling downstream and running the many rapids we had bypassed on our upstream trudge. Sure, we didn’t meet our goal, but the trip was still a success as we got an early jump on the paddling season!

One thing is for certain, we’ll be back.

What got us through the trip by fueling us on the grueling portages:

Chocolate Perpetuem
Chocolate Chip Hammer Bars
Espresso Hammer Gels

What motivates you?

hammercanada May 11, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

We all have our motives, and I want to challenge everyone who reads this to share that with us.

What gives you that drive to run a 5k, half or full marathon?

What spend that $1.60 to run the 130mile Barkley Marathon?

What makes you race 700km for 172 hours through the depths of South Africa on only 17 hours of sleep?

Personally…

The views, I do it to race and experience areas you never would have thought to visit on your own.

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Camaraderie, Pushing through all the pain and exhaustion with a great group of people.

Introductions, Meeting like minded people with similar passions for life.

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Limits, finding how far I can push my body and where I need to improve .

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Over this next month of May, write on the Hammer Nutrition Canada Facebook wall with what drives and inspires you. Feel free to include pictures!

Paddling Into the Past

hammercanada April 1, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador Brad Jennings of Explore the Backountry

Always keen to paddle into the past, I spend a great deal of time researching long abandoned canoe routes, some of which were potentially travelled by my distant ancestors. Paddling is in my blood, as a Métis, my forbearers were some of the first peoples to explore the vast nation of Canada by canoe. Call it a historical longing, but I’m drawn to the waters to probe their mysteries by canoe or kayak.

Of course, these days we trip with modern amenities; the lightest tents, stoves, clothes and canoes, a far cry from the ‘gear‘ my ancestors touted. For our current expeditions, we attempt to venture far off the known trail and explore ‘lost‘ or never/seldom paddled routes. We never know what we’ll encounter on such adventures. On one such occasion, we ‘discovered‘ and named 3 undocumented waterfalls on a first recorded descent of an Ontario river. While such magnificent cascades were undoubtedly known to the first peoples of the region, they were unknown on any modern maps.

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As we bushwhack, cut portages and paddle from sunup to sundown, we burn a lot of calories. The paddlers of yesteryear relied on pemmican, a mixture of animal fat and berries, as their high calorie, high nutrition food of choice. Thankfully, us modern-day explorers have a greater selection of fuel choices at hand that are both appetizing and nutritional.

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Current go-to’s by Hammer include:

Endurolytes Fizz – This delivers two noticeable advantages to paddle-sport adventurers. The first; to replenish electrolytes lost on that grueling bushwhack portage or pushing through headwinds on a large lake and the second; to eliminate the terrible boiled water or treated (iodine/chlorine tab) aftertaste. A double win!

Hammer Gel – When you have a canoe on your head, a laden pack on your back and are being pestered by hordes of bloodthirsty insects, you don’t necessarily want to take a fuel break mid-portage. A quick mid-trail energy hit, Hammer Gels provide a virtually hands free, on-the-go energy source. Further, with only a trace of sugar, it doesn’t set off wild insulin spikes causing sugar highs and associated crashes so you can push through to the lake or river – and away from the bugs!! My favourite is the Espresso, which contains caffeine, ideal to keep me alert and awake, especially considering the mornings’ instant coffee often doesn’t cut it.

Perpeptuem – This is something I’m just getting into and really noticing the benefits. Easily dissolvable in water, this endurance fuel packs carbohydrates, proteins and fats preventing against muscle fatigue and providing consistent, reliable energy on water or trail. As a bonus, it tastes great and also rids your water of the aforementioned ‘treated taste! Adventurers know that it can be hard to pack foods and fuels which deliver an adequate form of lasting energy as many such items need to be freeze dried, dehydrated or simply won’t keep in extreme environments. It can be especially difficult to find such a product in a lightweight form. So, to save weight (a godsend on the most strenuous of expeditions), and to deliver long-lasting energy on grueling days out, check out Perpetuem!

We’ve come a long way from the pemmican of our forefathers!

The Mystery Mountain

hammercanada March 25, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Leigh McClurg of Pebbleshoo

As an individual motivated to move and test the limits of what is personally possible, both physically and mentally, I draw inspiration, like many do, from those that came before me and paved the way for the progression that I now make.

The individuals that I am fascinated about are the humans that never crossed any finish lines, they used no aid stations and followed no course markers. They pushed themselves in the areas of our planet that we can still consider wild and untamed.

Their feats, if actually turned into races that individuals could compete in, with the equipment they used, would be some of the most difficult on the planet. Yet they did it alone, or in small groups, and challenged themselves for the simple pursuit of being curious about what was out there. There were no medals, no finish line crowds cheering them on, no glory. They carried back out what they had to carry in and went back to living their lives as normal.

Two individuals whose names I kept coming across as I researched places to explore in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia were Don and Phyllis Munday. You’ll be forgiven if you live in Canada but have never heard of their names before. Yet many of the peaks in and around Southwest BC and beyond where first visited by this couple, including Blackcomb peak in Whistler, British Columbia, back when there were more black bears there than skiers.

Don and Phyllis Munday

In the 1920’s Don and Phyllis Munday discovered the peak that we now refer to today as Mount Waddington. They began a series of explorations into the area, starting at sea level, over the following decade. The fortitude and resilience they showed, as they pushed through dense forest and deep canyons over countless weeks is lost on many modern mountaineers who need only charter a helicopter to fly them directly to the base of this peak, the roof of British Columbia. They initially dubbed this striking mountain “Mystery Peak”. The Mundays would never get to stand on the summit of Mount Waddington, it would need the equipment and techniques of the next generation before this difficult summit would finally be reached. But the extensive mapping of the area that they did is still used even today.

When I visited Blackcomb Peak in the Summer, and scrambled to its summit, long before the skiing crowds of Winter returned, I was there alone and I thought about the lives of the Mundays who achieved the first documented ascent of this peak. In the end, we are all striving after our own mystery mountains, the highest point in our lives that we can hope to reach.

While the Mundays fished and trapped along the way of their adventures, today fuelling has been made much more accessible and easy for myself.

Fuelling with a Hammer Gel

These are my favourite Hammer products for when I scramble and climb in the mountains:

MTB Race Fueling Strategy

hammercanada March 24, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

With the mountain bike race season starting so early this year, I have already competed in the first Canada Cup of the season, held in Victoria, BC! As this was also my first U23/elite field race coming from the Junior category, I was not used to the longer distance and found myself in need of a boost mid-race. With any race longer than 1 hour, taking a gel has the benefit of topping up blood sugar levels so you can push out some more watts. I knew my race would be around 1:30-1:40 in duration, so the morning of my race I planned my fueling tactics.

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I grabbed my favourite gel, Hammer’s Nocciola flavour (tastes just like Nutella!) and squirted a serving into my Hammer gel flask. Then I add about an equal amount of water into the flask. Although the gel is fantastic just by itself for my training days, I prefer this mix on race day since it changes the viscosity of the gel so it’s easier to intake mid-race in one big gulp… I know I will be gasping for air!

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The gel flask cap makes it super easy to intake the gel (just like a water bottle), you don’t have to risk littering on our beautiful planet, and it fits well in the back pocket of my race jersey. Another benefit is that you can put more than one serving into the same gel flask for many fuelling hits throughout the race!

Underwater what?

hammercanada March 23, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

Underwater what? This is the common response when I mention the sport of underwater hockey. Yes, it is a sport, the ultimate team sport really, as it’s fast paced and played at the bottom of a pool.

In this anaerobic environment, teams play 6 a side and sub on the fly. They wear mask, snorkel, fins and there is no goalie as the only oxygen comes from the short breathing breaks on the surface. The colour of the water polo cap and stick denote whether your team is black or white; the glove on the stick hand provides some protection from the physicality of the sport. Rough spots on shoulders, elbows, knees come from contact with the pool bottom and other bumps, bruises and scratches from contact with others. The puck weighs about 3lbs and the tactics similar to ice hockey, lacrosse or basketball.

The team at a clinic in San Jose

I don’t play this sport. As a triathlete, I prefer to be on the surface of the water rather than at a depth of 7-14 feet battling it out for 20-45 seconds at a time. My exposure to this sport came through my spouse. Rob has played for years, first in England, now here in Canada, and has been the coach for the Canadian Elite Men’s team for the past 5 years.

As an athlete and ambassador for Hammer Nutrition Canada, I had the pleasure of working with Rob’s team at a preparatory clinic and tournament in Hawaii in September. I developed a sport specific dynamic warm up and provided them with tips on fueling for sport and recovery. I had the opportunity to educate both the Canadian and USA Elite Women’s teams on nutrition as well during my five days in tropical paradise with the underwater hockey crowd.

These teams are now in the early stages of international competition in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Over the next two weeks they will face some strong competition with players from New Zealand, Australia, France and England to name a few. It’s a tough spectator sport but if you can get in the pool, it’s an amazing thing to watch! Underwater cameras at the larger tournaments provide those on deck with a sample of what’s happening at the bottom.

Their in-sport nutrition requirements are different than mine for triathlon due to the explosive nature of underwater hockey. The games are usually two 12-15 minute halves played at a frenetic pace. One or two games a day is common for international tournaments. Here are some of the Hammer products the Canadian players will be using to fuel their bodies:

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HEED: this powdered sports drink with complex carbohydrates provides consistent, long-lasting energy and electrolytes to sustain the fast pace required.

ENDUROLYTES FIZZ: added to water, these effervescent tablets provide full spectrum electrolyte support. Maintaining proper muscular, digestive, nervous and cardiac function requires more than just salt, especially in the heat they will experience in Stellenbosch. Electrolyte balance will be important to prevent cramps (common in the legs due to extra torque on calves wearing fins).

GELS: to top up blood sugar levels 10-15 minutes before game time. These are easy to digest and contain complex carbohydrates and amino acids to enhance performance and sustain energy during these intense games.

RECOVERITE: recovering fully at the end of each day during a two week competition is critical. The players will use this to restore muscle glycogen, reduce muscle fatigue and tenderness, and assist muscle repair.

Best of luck to the Canadian teams in Stellenbosch!

Fueling for ultra runs

hammercanada March 20, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador Hailey Van Dyk of Runlikeagirl.ca

Fueling for a race can be difficult and it can be hard to find exactly what works for you especially as you start entering longer run territory. We can be plagued with nausea, upset stomachs, the lack of desire to eat at all, and the worst of all, diarrhea. Nutrition can make or break a race. I am going to talk to you about what has worked for me. There is no definitive answer to what is right as we are all different but here are the basics.

There are three key components for a successful race as far as nutrition: Water, electrolytes and fuel.

Water: You should be drinking 300-500ml per hour for events over two hours in length. This should be clear water. Do not add electrolytes to your main source of water, keep your water clear so that you hydrate properly. (If you are running in hot, humid climates, increase to 400-600ml per hour)

Electrolytes: Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are essential electrolytes for every cell and muscle in your body to work. Your heart depends on these electrolytes to maintain a normal sinus rhythm. Adequate electrolyte intake is crucial in preventing muscle cramping. There are lots of options for electrolyte replacement. Some people prefer to take electrolyte pills, others put tabs in water. If you want to drink your electrolytes, bring a smaller bottle with you in your pack or on your hydration pack that is specifically for electrolytes. Drink this periodically through out the run. For longer runs, and in warmer conditions you may find that drinking electrolytes isn’t enough so you can try the pills and drink. Avoid high sugar drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade as they are high in sugar and low in actual electrolyte content. Here are some options that I have tried:

Hammer Endurolytes Fiz

I am an ambassador for Hammer and I happy to stand behind products I truly love. Hammer nutrition has 4 awesome flavours and are not overly carbonated taste and contain vitamin B6! They also contain all your essential electrolytes. They have 100g of calcium, 50mg of magnesium, 200mg of sodium and 100mg of potassium per one tab which is meant for 500ml of water.

Hammer Endurolytes capsules

If drinking electrolytes is not your thing you can take them in capsule form. I have personally only used these once and that was at The Coastal Challenge, an ultra marathon stage race in Costa Rica where the humidity can reach 100%. I just listened to my body and when I felt I needed or wanted to take one, I did. One capsule has a much lower electrolyte concentration compared to a fizz with 40mg of sodium, 50mg of calcium, 25mg of magnesium and 25mg of potassium. In races/runs longer than 2 hours 1-3 capsules can be consumed per hour.

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Fuel

As a rule, on runs that are longer than 2 hours you need to be consuming 150-300 calories per hour. Fuel is something I have struggled with the most. It is sometimes very difficult to think about eating when you are running but it is crucial. Your metabolic rate is increased greatly during a run, your cells and tissues and muscles are eating up calories often faster than you can replace it and if you don’t give your body fuel, you’re going to fade pretty quickly. I have tried so many different types of food while running such as classic “race food”, to real food. Everyone is different and what works for your stomach might not work for someone else’s. For the purpose of keeping this blog short and not boring you to death, I am only going to name a few nutritional options that have worked for me. I tend to stick to real food as it just sits better.

 

Hammer Nutrition Bars

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These are delicious and they don’t bother my stomach at all! They are packed with 220 calories and are really moist and easy to chew bar so it is easy to get it down the hatch! They have 26g of carbohydrates and 9g of protein and are made of all natural ingredients. They have 5 delicious flavours, my favourite being cashew coconut chocolate chip, obviously!

 

Fruit Purees

The thought of eating baby food weirds people out for some reason. Not me. I can’t do gels, and sometimes you need something like a gel that is fast, easy to get in and has about 100 calories in it. I found the perfect solution in Puréed baby food as crazy as that sounds. They are all natural, all organic fruit and veggie purees and range from 70-110 calories. They taste delicious and are easy to get down, even when you are super nauseated..however these should not be your primary source of calories as this simply won’t cut it.

 

Plain Old Trail Mix

During The Coastal Challenge I couldn’t eat anything other than trail mix. I brought all my favourite running food, but for some reason everything made me nauseous other than trail mix. Trail mix is packed with calories, and good fats which are essential for proper cell function. You can also make your own trail mix and had chocolate chips and dried fruit if you like. A handful of trail mix can be 200-300 calories if it has a high nut/seed content which is exactly your caloric target per hour!

As I said, there are many options for fuel for running. These are just my favourites. The key here really is to make sure you are getting enough of all three components, fuel, fresh water and electrolytes to ensure you finish your race, or get through your training run without suffering unnecessarily!

Why I Hammer

hammercanada March 10, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

Because I care.

I care because I have been there…

At 19 I was 230lbs…

At 27 I was penguin walking to the finish line of my first race…

I then cramped in almost every race for the entire first season or racing, while I learned what real nutrition and fueling was…

Today, while helping at the Hammer Nutrition booth (Toronto Bike Show) I was asked by an onlooker what was Hammer and why were we different. I started to respond with the traditional “No refined sugars, Artificial flavours or colours” when I noticed his eyes glazed over and stopped listening. So I took a second and thought why I hammer and responded with more of my story.

Taking on being an athlete later in life than most, I had a steep learning curve. I was training to race faster, longer and cross train to be more powerful. On top of learning how to eat and fuel properly for a lifestyle and not as a diet. My first lesson in proper fueling was when I first reached out to Hammer after a referral from my trainer. I was put in touch with Ryan Correy who had given me some great advice on entry level products that would help me with my needs on course.

After further emails and discussions over the past couple years, I realized very quickly that the company wasn’t just about selling their product, it was educating the consumer on what they truly require and not throwing a “fix it all” pill at them. I have promoted their product to a lot of people on course and have friends starting to use it as well. It’s proven time and time again to have that early corner of the market with clean fuels.

I have since found myself turning my passion into a lifestyle and not just a sport for the weekends. I’m proud to have been selected to be an ambassador of this product and company, as they really reach out to people for more than just their wallets.

California Dreamin’ on a Winter’s Day

hammercanada March 7, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

This is my sixth year coming to California to escape the late Winter snow and cold from back home. As I get older I find myself planning longer and longer visits to the sunshine and warmth of Southern California. California dreaming is what gets me through the many hours of riding the trainer in my winter training cave. That and knowing that the Sol Cal cycling gang will be in flying form and more than willing to kick my butt when I arrive.

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My race team, Hammer/53×11, had highlighted the Chico Stage Race up in Northern California as the first major event for the team this year. We entered five of us into the 45+ category and managed four podiums over the four stages. Dan Shore won stage 1 on the Thunder Hill race track after a text book team lead-out and an amazing sprint. Cale Reeder finished 3rd after being a driving force in our lead-out train. In the road race, Janne Hamalainen and I dug deep to put ourselves into a five man 50km breakaway which gave us both a huge 2min plus leg up on most of our competitors. Sadly, we failed to climb on the podium that day due to some tactical errors…. Actually no, we just beat fair and square by stronger riders! Cale Reeder place 3rd in the final Time Trial stage and my Time Trial result moved me up to finish 3rd overall in the General Classification.

Racing this demanding stage race that consisted of four challenging races. (I don’t know if I can put more races in that sentence). The Hammer nutritional products really helped me get through the races as well as recover. Some of my favorite ones are: Hammer Nutrition Gels, Endurolytes and Recoverite.

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So just like that the 2016 race season is off and rolling. I dug out of my training cave, literary as we had 50cm of snow two days before leaving Ottawa, landed in California and raced my bikes. What better way to get the bike race season going? Now it is all about putting in a huge training block which will involve the famous Swamis Saturday group ride along with romps up and down the coastal 101 highway and hilly inland excursions with the help of the Hammer Nutrition.

Hammer on!

Breaking the Nutritional Gear Groove

hammercanada March 2, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings of Explore The Backcountry

Trippers are a stubborn bunch. If they’ve paddled, trekked and explored for a good portion of their life, they tend to get stuck in a ‘gear groove’. A gear groove tends to develop when one has experimented with many brands and layups that they find works for them and are reluctant on branching out to try another brand.

On a recent winter backcountry trip, I questioned my fellow trippers who were seemingly stuck in a nutritional gear groove. As they slowly gnawed at their half frozen processed bars, I posed a simple question:

“Do you guys always eat those?”
To which they replied, “Yah, they’re cheap and we always grab them!”

I then asked, “Does it taste good?”
To which they replied, “Not really…”

Which I followed up by asking, “Are they even healthy?”
To which they replied, “Probably not, but food is food right?”

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Wrong! Food is not food, especially when you’re exerting yourself on trip and need to fuel and recover! Improper nutrition can leave one prone to injury, exhaustion and an uneasy stomach. Any seasoned adventurer will tell you it is incredibly hard to pack nutritious foods that won’t spoil in the sun or freeze in the cold. Many resort to dehydrating vast amounts of fruits, veggies and regular foods, but the process is time consuming and difficult to make readily available grab and go solutions for on the trail.

When I’m hitting the trail, lake, or river, a Hammer Bar is my ultimate go-to energy bar. As my stomach is churning from the ups and downs of the trail, the last thing I want to grab is a tasteless brick that will leave my stomach howling with gut rot. The refined sugars of other bars may taste great after a bite or two, but a few hours later, your stomach may unpleasantly remind you there are better available options. Made from organic, healthy carbohydrate sources and boasting digestion assisting enzymes, Hammer’s Bars are not only healthy, but extremely tasting and filling.

As I munched on a scrumptious Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip bar, my trip mates looked on longingly.

So I posed another simple question:
“Do you guys want to try one? I’ve got plenty to share.”

And with that, their nutritional gear groove was shattered. Good thing I packed a plethora of Hammer Bars, as they decimated my packed stock by trips end!

P is for Protein (and plenty of it!)

hammercanada February 24, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador couple, Pebbleshoo

Why start a discussion about protein? Well chances are that most of us are not getting nearly enough of it in our daily diet. Yet, protein is literally the building blocks for our body.

Here are just 4 essential reasons we should consider adding more protein into our diet:

  1. Every cell in your body needs it.
  2. Your body uses it to build and repair tissue
  3. It’s vital for your body to be able to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals
  4. It is the fundamental component of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood

We need to consume relatively large amounts of protein, just like carbohydrates and fats, to stay healthy. This is actually why protein is referred to as a macronutrient, whereas things like vitamins and minerals are considered micronutirents and can be consumed in much smaller quantities to retain health. Also due to the fact that our body cannot store protein, unlike carbohydrates and fat, there is no reserve to pull from, which is why supplementing our diet with extra protein is so important.

The simplest way to increase protein that I have found is through protein powder. Adding this to my daily smoothie or shake is the most convenient. When I have access to my blender I always add Hammer Whey Protein to my morning smoothie. When I have spent a big day out, whether it be trail running, skiing, climbing or just adventuring, I always top up at the end of the day with another smoothie and be sure to add in Hammer Recoverite; it contains a higher amount of Glutamine which helps to speed up recovery.

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It’s important to think about preparing your body for activity and then rebuilding it after the activity is finished. Since I have focused on adding more protein to my diet I have noticed huge improvements in my recovery time and lean muscle.

Protein works wonders when it comes to training and overall health in general. Just check out a few of the simple ways protein will help you everyday:

  • Speeds recovery after exercise
  • Reduces muscle loss
  • Helps to build lean muscle
  • Curbs hunger
  • Will help you to maintain a healthy weight

Below are a couple of delicious recipes that I use with my favourite Hammer proteins:

Morning Protein Smoothie

Half of a frozen banana (already peeled and frozen the night before)
¼-½ cup of your favourite frozen berries
1-1 ½ cup of water
a spoonful of your favourite nut butter
1 serving Hammer Whey Protein Vanilla Flavour

Recovery Smoothie

Half of a frozen banana (already peeled and frozen the night before)
2-3 cubes of ice
1 – 1 ½ cup almond milk (or any other milk substitute)
a spoonful of your favourite nut butter
1 serving of Hammer Recoverite Chocolate Flavour

The Pool Jerk

hammercanada February 22, 2016 No Comments

Do you know what a “pool jerk” is? No, it’s not the float you put between your legs to focus on your swim stroke, that’s a pull buoy. Stand on the deck of any community centre pool during lane swim and you will easily spot them. The guy doing fly down the middle of the lane disregarding that others are sharing the lane with him is one. Or the oblivious person who turns at the wall in front of everyone and proceeds to perform a very slow back crawl. Or the variable pace swimmer who turns on the gas for the first 5 meters, continues to slow for the next 20 only to turn at the wall and swim another unpredictable speed or a different stroke. The water runner in the fast lane…the examples are many!

On a good day when I am not feeling pressured to get in and get it done, these characters can become great training tools for triathlon. I can practice drafting, dodging, and swimming at different speeds to either stay in front of the variable pace swimmer or catch up and pass the “this is my private pool” swimmer a half length ahead of me. On a time crunched day I have bailed after fighting for 200m and gone for a run instead.

Lucky for me, I have my very own pool jerk whose “jerkiness” is purposeful and requested. Triathlons start like the spin cycle in the washing machine. You have to be prepared for some rough play, swamping, and near-drowning in the first 200-400m. Rob, in his underwater hockey gear, is always happy to make some waves for me in order to let me practice survival skills. He gets in the way for roll-over practice and pulls me back or pushes me down so I get used to not breathing when I had planned to. Take a look at the video to see the fun we have, after first warning the lifeguard that our actions are intentional. “Oh, triathlon,” they say. “We see all sorts of crazy things from you triathletes.”

It is good to see our community centres being used by so many in the quest for health and an active lifestyle; however, there is an etiquette to using the swim lanes. Like we learned in kindergarten: share, be kind, and follow the rules. If that isn’t happening in your swim lane, go with it, find a way to enjoy it and use it to your advantage to become stronger.  Hammer on!

To bonk, or not to bonk

hammercanada February 21, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Rene Unser of PACE Sport Fitness

It was during a hot August day at the Squamish 50k ultra when I underestimated what I had left in my pack and blew through the last aid station.  10 minutes later I found myself leaning up against a tree, begging every passing runner for a gel. Excuse me, do you a spare gel?  Nope. People whizzed past me. Sorry to have to ask, but could you please spare me a gel? Nope.  These people were all smarter than me and checked their pockets heading into that last aid station. Gel?  Anyone?  ANYONE?  I lost track of how much time passed before a runner finally came by with an extra to spare. I perked up, mustered the energy to smile and anxiously held out my hand. As he reached into his pack and pulled out the gel, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I politely accepted it, scarfed it down and then started walking.

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On Day 8 of the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run, I placed my hand on my buddy’s butt and pushed him up the trail.  We were in the Italian Dolomite Mountains, surrounded by beauty and only one last massive climb stood in our way of finishing the race. My buddy picked up a bug the day earlier and was hitting the wall so hard he could barely walk.

Being on the other side of the “bonk” is no joke either and it’s often hard to know how to help. I was getting exhausted and wasn’t sure how much longer I could push him, so I made him pull over and forced him to take a gel, despite knowing he had a hard time stomaching anything at that point.  We were out of options and I remember giving him a pep talk, opening up the gel and forcing him to take it.  Every time he swallowed, his back would arch and he would get close to hurling only to hear me say “keep your damn mouth shut and swallow!” As unpleasant as that moment was (more for him than me), we got through it and both finished.

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Hitting the wall, sh#tting the bed, bonking – call it what you like.  It’s basically an overwhelming feeling of fatigue or running out of energy when the body’s store of glycogen, which produces the energy required to maintain performance, is depleted. When the glycogen depletes entirely, it results in a surge of fatigue and a performance collapse.

RECOGNIZE IT

Before you skip to the section on preventing it, learning how to recognize it is the first step in prevention.  Here are a few sure tell signs you’re going down:

  1. The feeling of severe weakness, fatigue and confusion.
  2. You will likely feel slow, heavy and weak.
  3. If you try to keep going, you may experience shaking, sweating and/or lack of coordination.
  4. Dizziness, light-headedness, tunnel-vision and disorientation are all common experiences.

DEAL WITH IT

  1. As soon as you start to notice any of these symptoms, stop and eat some simple carbohydrates that will be quickly absorbed, like one of the tasty Hammer Gels, washed down with plenty of water to help get it into your bloodstream quickly.
  2. If you don’t have a gel on hand, aim for other sugary options like candy.
  3. If you catch the bonk early enough, you might be able to keep running (slowly) and refuel with glucose and carbs.  Otherwise, you should stop, eat and recover before continuing.
  4. It’s not uncommon for people to not think clearly when they are bonking.  Asking for help or receiving help may be an important factor in getting you back on your feet and continuing.
  5. Try to stay positive.  Don’t dwell on it.  Identify, treat and carry on.  Time is sometimes all you need to dig yourself out of a dark hole.

PREVENTION

  1. Ensure that your glucose stores are well stocked before you train or race.
  2. If you exercise intensely for more than two hours, try to eat something small every 15-30 minutes. I train with Hammer’s Perpetuem & gels on my long runs. Experiment during your training to find out what works best for you before competitions and then stick with your plan.
  3. Assess the conditions and plan for it.  For example, be sure you have adequate hydration & electrolytes (such as Hammer Nutrition HEED or Endurolytes) in warmer conditions.
  4. If you start out feeling heavy or like you’re already in a deficit, don’t wait 30min to eat.  Have a gel at the start of your run and run or hike at a low intensity for 15-20min to see if your energy improves.
  5. Learn the signs so you can take action sooner than later.  Just remember that the signs can be different for everyone.  Some people may experience heavy legs right away, while others may feel more irritability, frustration or inability to make a decision.

Well Earned Road Trip to SoCal

hammercanada February 19, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

After a hard indoor trainer block I’m bound for Southern California. The car is packed with two bikes and all the little extras that I would not normally be able to bring with me, when making the trip by plane. Road Trip… yeah! Yesterday I rode the trainer for the final time in my indoor mental toughing pain cave. I’ve been in the cave since the middle of October, gradually ramping up the mileage and intensity in the training sessions while relying on Hammer Nutrition products to keep me topped up and ready to complete each rigorous training session. My go to Hammer products were:

  • Perpetuem for the training sessions over 2hrs – of which I did many… sometimes twice a day
  • Hammer Gels to keep the fuel system topped up
  • Endurolytes capsules to replace the electrolytes I burned through while dumping gallons of sweat on the bike and floor.

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My winter training camp base will be in Encinitas (just north of San Diego). Hwy 101 runs through Encinitas which is a bicycle training Mecca for tourist, road racers and triathletes a like. It is a city on the ocean which just feels and is hip, active and friendly. It also has many great coffee shops of which Pannikin is my all time favorite hang out and chill spot to sip the java and devour a huge pumpkin muffin after a long ride on the two wheel horse.

The plan is to race 3 multi race weekends during my stay in California. The first race will be the Chico Stage Race. I will have 2 other Hammer Nutrition Teammates to race along side of and hope to finish with some team success stories that will be worthy of sharing.

I have to say after yesterday record setting 50cm dump of snow here in Ottawa, the timing to get out of town could not be better.

Hammer on!

Forever a multi-sport athlete

hammercanada February 16, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk of runlikeagirl.ca

The start of the year is always an interesting time. We all start it with ambitions and goals what how we would like the new years to look, what we want to to achieve, how we want to better ourselves. But the reality of it is, goals change, plans change, and things might not go the way you had originally planned.

With races selling out faster and faster each year, and going on sale earlier and earlier, I sometimes feel rushed, or pressured to sign up for goal races without really thinking about what I am signing up, how it fits into my schedule, or will everything to achievable. So now that we are at the middle of the month, I have had some time to really process my hopes and goals for 2016.

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I have been running for almost 4 years and I ran my first ultra, a 50km 2.5 years ago. The natural progression of running seems to keep pushing your distance. Once you’ve ran a few 50kms, its time to start looking at a 50 miler, and then from there 100kms or even 100 miles. I see a lot of my friends headed in this direction but my heart does not seem to want to go that way. I have questioned whether there is something wrong with me as an “ultra runner”. How can I call myself that if I don’t have the desire to go beyond 50 miles. So I decided to look inward instead of outward at what everyone else is doing.

While I am a runner yes, I am also a climber, a mountain biker, a yogi a cycler and an aspiring mountaineer. The truth is, I don’t want to devote all of my time to running. I want to give it my all, spend hours running trails, up mountains, see new places, run awesome races… everything I am already doing. But for right now, I am good running the distances I know, so that I can continue to give time to the other sports that I love. That is what I love most about being a multi-sport athlete… it’s never going to be boring!

Fizz Traveler

hammercanada February 15, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

When travelling, I am always super aware of my hydration. The airplane cabin is a very dry environment, that sucks away any moisture from your body that it may need for training/racing.

Part of being a competitive athlete is travelling, and travelling while trying to maintain optimal health despite jet lag, mental stress, and change in environment. Hydration plays a HUGE role in managing these levels where you want them! Not only should you drink a few cups of water per hour on a flight, but having the proper balance of electrolytes is also a big component of hydration. For this, the Hammer Endurolytes Fizz tablets have become my guru.

I am currently travelling to California from Toronto to spend 10 days down south in the warm weather and mountains to peddle out some big training days! Arriving already fatigued and dehydrated is the last thing I want to do, since every day I will be pushing my body’s limits and proper recovery is difficult all by itself. I depend on my large Nalgene, my Fizz tablets, (and of course the airplane washroom) to be able to arrive in Cali feeling fresh and ready to hit the hills!

Hammer Nutrition product have a “full spectrum” balanced electrolyte approach. Not only do they include the well-known sodium and potassium electrolytes, but also a range of other minerals that your body is dependent on. Another bonus is that the Fizz does not have the extra calories like in regular electrolyte sports drinks; the tablets are purely electrolyte with no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners. The Fizz tablets also make drinking water more exciting and enjoyable! It adds a slightly carbonated fizz and a tasty flavour, making for a good beverage. Personally, I love the mango and lemon lime flavours!

Short list to a successful rest week

hammercanada February 2, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Rene Unser / PACE Sports Fitness

 

It’s rest week. Some people can’t wait for some down time, to ease off their training and they have no problem filling their new found time with extra long coffee dates, firing up Netflix, catching up on work projects or cozying up on the couch to read for hours. More commonly however, others have a hard time backing off and simply don’t realize the detrimental effects of improper rest.

The truth is … training hard doesn’t build you up; it tears your muscles and tissues down, creates stress, depletes nutrient stores and ultimately, leaves you fatigued. The body then takes this powerful message and starts to adapt, build more muscles and make more red blood cells so it’s better prepared for the next round of challenges. The kicker is that our bodies can only change to meet these demands with proper recovery.

While there is a lot to consider when planning out your rest week, I have made a short list and a great starting point to build from:

  1. Reduce your weekly training volume by 20-50%. (gauged by your fatigue level)
  2. Develop a preventative rehab routine that can become habit, such as rolling, stretching etc.
  3. Eat 200-350 calories that contain carbohydrate and some protein immediately following exercise to replace glycogen stores. Try Hammer Recoverite or mix one of Hammer’s protein powders in a shake.
  4. Keep an open mind on yoga and schedule a restorative class if you have time.
  5. Water, water, water! Don’t get caught without a water bottle and if you’re having trouble remembering to drink, start a daily tally sheet. For each bottle you drink, add a line. Make a goal on how many lines you need each day, depending on activity levels. Check out Hammer’s purist water bottle. It comes in two sizes. (26oz & 22oz)
  6. Legs up on the wall: lying on the floor and putting your legs up the wall for a few minutes’ does wonders for blood flow and relaxation. (my favorite)
  7. Create a healthy sleep environment and bedtime routine. Sleep is the single most important factor in recovering and athletes who sleep eight hours a night are 87 percent less likely to get injured than athletes who sleep six hours.

It’s also important to look at your overall lifestyle and stress management strategies while following a regular exercise or training routine. Figuring out the best work/rest ratio takes time and patience and every athlete is different. Don’t be afraid to change it up and experiment until you find the right fit for you. Hammer Nutrition has some remarkable recovery products and they do a great job of breaking each product down with this handy chart and in their 5 secrets of success for endurance fueling PDF.

If you have any questions on their products, please email me at pacesportsfitess@shaw.ca and I will do my best to answer your questions or put you in direct contact with the experts.

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supplement chart

 

 

 

Hammertime at POCAR

hammercanada January 30, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings

Mid-January, I headed to Southern Indiana for some multi-day rogaining action with Ripkin AR team mate, Jessica Kuepfer, along with two AR newbie’s, Jonathan and Peter. For those unfamiliar with the sport, a rogaine (not the drug!) is a navigation based endurance race where competitors travel on and off trail to a series of checkpoints using only map and compass. Whereas pure adventure racing (not to be confused with obstacle racing) involves multiple disciplines usually encompassing paddling, trekking, mountain biking, ropes and navigation, a rogaine is usually limited to one discipline; orienteering.

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Fuel: The team really enjoyed the Nocciola gels

With a time limit of 48hrs, POCAR promised to deliver a multi-day AR-esque experience early in the season and an added challenge of racing through harsh winter conditions. As soon as we received our maps, we plotted  a route and took off into the woods. Throughout much of the day we kept a quick running pace and nabbed checkpoints in quick succession. Things began to go awry in the middle of the night, as they often do in adventure races. A misplaced checkpoint had our team searching the bush in vain for over an hour. Race staff finally arrived and told us the checkpoint was missing and we could continue without penalty. However, it was nearly impossible to take a correct bearing to the next checkpoint in the dark without the guidance of the previous point.

As lead navigator, you face the added stress of ensuring your team is on the correct path. When you’re moving quickly through the bush, it can be hard to decipher key land features, especially at night. Luckily, I had an excellent co-navigator in the form of Jonathan, who I could bounce off route ideas and position estimates.

Fuel: The team really enjoyed the Nocciola gels

Checkpoint view

 

After spending the darkest and coldest hours of the night lost and attempting g to triangulate our position, we eventually gave up and took a safety bearing to a road. Piecing together a backup plan, we proceeded to tackle our route in reverse. However, the damage was done, both physically and mentally. Our team slogged on in the early hours of the morning, eventually making our way to the finish. All was not lost and we were soon overjoyed to learn that after 28hrs and 120km, we had placed 4th in a field of close to 40 teams! A fine ending to a great season opener, things can only improve from here!

One leg at a time

hammercanada January 28, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

In triathlon, the bike portion is the largest percentage of the race. A strong and efficient bike performance translates to a good run so putting hours of training into the bike is a good return on investment.

The average cyclist pedals with a piston like motion where forces are only applied on the up and down portions of the stroke. This is fine for a recreational rider but endurance cyclists know that pedalling should be fluid and round. This keeps even tension on the chain and eliminates dead spots in your pedal stroke. This in turn improves efficiency, power, and endurance.

Isolated leg training is an easy and quick drill to throw into any ride, and with consistent use it will improve your cycling technique. Correct saddle height, good core engagement, and a light grip on the handlebars will ensure all movement is coming from the working leg and help to imprint the desired pattern of muscle recruitment.

Here is one example of an isolated leg training drill:

  1. Warm up for 10 minutes
  2. Unclip your left foot from the pedal and tuck it directly behind you on the stationary trainer or bike frame. This ensures your hips are square.
  3. In a low tension gear, pedal 30 seconds right leg only, concentrating on a fluid circular motion.
  4. Clip back in both feet and pedal for 30 seconds.
  5. Unclip your right foot and tuck it behind you. Pedal with just the left foot for 30 seconds.
  6. Clip back in both feet and pedal for one minute concentrating on easy even pedalling; repeat x 3 for one set.

Pedal 5 minutes and then repeat the set for a total of 3. Each set will take 7.5 minutes. With 5 minutes easy pedalling between sets, the entire drill will take just over 23 minutes but it is time well spent! As you become more efficient in your technique, you will hear less chain lag and those dead spots in your pedal stroke will be gone.

Reflection Rather Than Resolution

hammercanada January 22, 2016 1 Comment

By Athlete Ambassador, Spring McClurg

Tradition has us holding fast to the idea that as we enter a new year we need to set goals for the coming weeks. Goals that have us striving to be better, stronger and smarter than last year. This can often lead us to think about what didn’t work in the last year and how we can improve. Now don’t get me wrong, self-improvement is vital for growth, but it can be easy to overlook what did work and those little, magical, moments of joy.

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So this year I resolve to reflect rather than make resolutions. To reflect about what did work, to reflect on what made me happiest and the many moments that made me smile throughout the year. To reflect on how grateful I am for where my body has taken me and the experiences I enjoyed. To think about how I can continue on the path that brings me the most joy and sense of fulfillment.
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I am determined to replace the word “failed” with the word “lesson”. To look at each experience as an opportunity to learn something about myself and those around me. Each and every year that passes provides me a wealth of knowledge and an inexhaustible resource to reflect on. So here is to a new year of learning, reflecting and many more moments of happiness!

Reformed Carnivore

hammercanada January 18, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

I’m a carnivore, I eat meat in all forms and enjoy it with a side of salad. Last month I was challenged to try something new, Vegan Protein.

To start, I have been using Whey protein supplements since I started going to the gym three years ago. I have tried many different types and flavors and have found there is a lot of crap out there. Like most of you, I suffer from stomach pains when I eat some supplements, so I am skeptical to try new things.

Back on track here, I started by trying Hammer’s Vegan Protein last month with surprising results. The taste was far superior than my other products as they have used a great flavour of dark chocolate (personal favorite). It mixed well with almond milk and has 20 grams of protein with only 5 grams of carbs. so I thought it was time to compare.

After trialing a few other brands, I found it was the same issues with varying whey proteins. Poor blending, stomach pains and the lasting taste of chalk, are all common problems with some less expensive products.

In the end the only downside I found when comparing Whey vs Vegan was it had a grainier texture, but I found this was with all vegan proteins. I will say though, Hammer was on the better end of that scale. To wrap this up, going forward I will be adding Vegan protein to my shaker bottle on a regular basis.

Can you sponsor my event?

hammercanada January 17, 2016 No Comments

Hammer Nutrition Canada has been a bit of a rebel in types of events that we choose to support. Historically, you haven’t seen us at anything that gets too much media attention – mass participation Ironman races, for example. The primary reason is that we don’t do cash sponsorships. If you want to have our products on course because you are a raving fan, then Hammer on! We otherwise have no interest in haggling over advertising rates.

Speaking on dollars and cents, it is important to remember that our products have a distinct value (event samples do not materialize out of the ethos). And with having to import Hammer from the U.S., the cost of goods has risen significantly due to the poor Canadian dollar. Excluding all other variables (including Health Canada certification costs), a $100,000 shipment from Whitefish, MT now costs us $145,360.00.

Now, if the average event was able to encourage 50% of their participants to see the value in top-notch endurance fuels and supplements, then this would be a mute point. But conversion is far lower. 3% would be a pleasant surprise to your average sponsorship coordinator. And thus, the unfortunate reality that outright Hammer sponsorships are not financially viable at this time.

The good news… 

We have come up with what I actually consider to be smarter long-term approach to sponsorship.

Moving forward, any event that inquires about support is eligible for a 50% discount (off MSRP) and an individualized promo code for their participants. There is no longer a formal application process. And like I said, any organizer can receive this offer, any time of the year.

We expect larger events to seek out what would traditionally be seen as a more “lucrative” offer. And in fact, we encourage them to do so. It is better to run an event sponsored by a competing product than no event at all.

For those in the niche arena, you now have access to a level of open support that is unheard of in the sport nutrition world. Beyond the aforementioned, I’m keen to get involved with talks, marketing your event through our online network, plus other creative value-adds.

Race organizers may contact me directly at ryan@hammernutrition.ca.

We look forward to working together!

Meet Soren!

hammercanada January 11, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse

Cross country mountain biking: Fingers off the brakes, hurling yourself down a steep descent with threatening rocks, roots, and trees at every bump; full body on the gas, feeling the burning in your legs as you power up a sky-scraping hill.

Yup, that’s me! My name is Soren Meeuwisse, and not only do I race internationally for the sport of cross country mountain biking, but I am also a new and proud Hammer Nutrition Ambassador!

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As my first post on the Hammer Nutrition blog site, I thought I would introduce myself so that later on in the year when you see a post from some biker chick, or some girl making silly Youtube videos (wait, already done… but more to come?!), you know that food-lover is me!

I am 18 years old, and I live in Orillia, ON with my supportive parents and brother. Currently, I am in residence while studying kinesiology in my first year at McMaster University in Hamilton. I have the dream to pursue a professional cycling career, and during my developing years I plan to complete my undergrad!

I am on the Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team and Team Canada for mountain biking as I travel around Canada and the world throughout the year for training and racing. Last year, I was ranked the top U19 Canadian female, and travelled to Andorra for World Championships. I also compete provincially and nationally for Nordic Skiing with Team Hardwood, and for XC running with the McMaster varsity team.

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I have actually grown up using Hammer Nutrition products, and I can’t wait to fuel myself properly again this year while I’m on the Hammer Nutrition Canada Ambassador Team!

So that’s all for now, but you can watch my Hammer Time Banneggs video I made last year (the silly video I was referring to up above) to get to know me super-fast! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol-uaK88e6Y

How to Avoid Athlete Burnout

hammercanada January 7, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk

As an athlete I am continuously pushing my body, to it’s limits, and then beyond those. On most given days, I am either training hard or recovering from a challenging training session. I work full time, have a business on the side, a long list of responsibilities and commitments, but training often takes priority. It is what I do, it is so much of who I am.

So what happens when your body literally says “Wait a minute… slow down here…” and knocks you right out. Sometimes I believe the only way I will actually stop and take a proper rest day is when my body forces it upon me. This is the hardest thing to balance as an athlete…finding a balance between training hard and proper rest and recovery. Everyone is different, so there is no secret formula to mastering this, but what I have learned is the importance of listening to your own body. Burnout is real among athletes and it is the last thing you want to have happen, especially if you are working yourself up for a big event.

So, here are my top tips to avoiding crashing and burning:

1. Proper recovery after a workout: After you’ve pushed your muscles to their max, you have to recover and heal them. The best thing you can do is immediately, or as soon as you can after a workout, is get a recovery smoothie down the hatch. The immediate glucose, carbs and protein will start replenishing your muscles immediately and decrease over-all muscle fatigue.

Tip: My favourite recovery smoothie: 2 scoops Hammer Nutrition
Chocolate Recoverite, 1 half frozen banana, 1 half avocado, 1 tbs of
almond butter, and almond milk to fill.

2. Get enough sleep: Make sure you are getting enough sleep at night. This is the time your body will heal and recuperate. Most of us need 8 hours of quality sleep to function at our highest level so make sure you set aside some time for some serious zzz. Going to bed early is not always easy, but it is the best way to ensure you’re going to get enough sleep!

Tip: Turn your phone and TV off one hour before bed. Looking at a
bright screen so close to bed time will actually slow your body’s
natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin and you will have a
harder time falling asleep!

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3. Proper Nutrition: Just like you wouldn’t put cheap, dirty gas in your car, you shouldn’t put it in your body, so cut the junk! Eating a healthy, balanced diet will keep your body running smooth, efficient and will keep unnecessary pounds away. Eating properly during exercise is just as important too. For this reason, I tend to avoid sugary gels and race food with chemicals in it. I tend to carry real food on my long runs like peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, and whole food bars. My favourite? Hammer Nutrition Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars. So good!

Tip: To avoid unhealthy snacking, carry around a banana, or a
container full of almonds or a healthy protein bar with you to grab
when your stomach starts rumbling!

4. Take rest days: Guess what! They are part of the program, and your body will thank you for them. Rest days do not have to mean sit on the couch and veg out all day. They can be active rest days such as a less intense cycle, a yoga class, a light, slow paced run… just not your usual revved up, sweat fest. Honour rest day and keep it sacred. If you are like me, you’re probably only giving yourself one a week, so enjoy it!

5. Switching it up: Don’t just stick to one exercise all the time. For one, that is boring, for two, your body will get used the routine and you wont progress as easily, and for 3 it can be a lot on your body to be constantly doing the same thing, and you might not be gaining anything from it. Instead of running everyday, add some cycling in there. Hit the gym for some strength training. Go to yoga to stretch and balance everything out. Our bodies do not benefit from constantly doing the same thing all the time. In fact they will burn out faster and get more fatigued instead of getting stronger. Running 6 days a week is a lot of pounding on your joints and muscles so taking 1-2 days out a week and adding a different activity is the best way to train! Balance and switching it up are key in increasing your endurance and strength and decreasing your chances of athlete burn out.

If I no longer worked with Hammer…

hammercanada December 23, 2015 No Comments

By Fueling Expert, Ryan Correy

 

This past year we gravitated toward a catchy new Not Candy! tagline. The goal was to make a clear distinction that Hammer focuses on premium, healthy ingredients – not simple sugars, coloring, and that “new thing” all the (financially incentivized AND, surprise, no more educated than you) pros are using. But this is not really news. We have been preaching healthy since 1987.

 

With the hundreds of talks that I have given, it is evident that the average user will never understand the benefit of 100% quality vs. 50% OK (mass market, slightly cheaper) products until they test our fueling line in extreme conditions (i.e. you wont see the downside of simple sugars <2 hrs). Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a light bulb moment when I give examples from my ultra adventures, but it is fleeting in the face of flashier alternatives.

 

Heading into 2016, I thought that I would share a new perspective.

 

In full transparency, Hammer pays my bills. But what if they didn’t? Would I still use the product? Taking that question one step further, what if I had a falling out with Hammer U.S.? What if I was fired from the Canadian team? Would I swap to a competitor out of spite?

 

The answer is “Absolutely not”.

 

The reason that Hammer and I get along so well (and we have our challenging days, like anyone) is because I have absolute trust in the line. Mind you, if I was fired, I might not preach to the masses the way I do now, and I might swap to a Gatorade bottle, but I can guarantee that it would still be HEED swishing inside.

 

There is no equal to Hammer for endurance fuels and supplements.

Benefit of sport specific blocks

hammercanada December 6, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

As a triathlete, a training week involves at a minimum 3 swims, 4 rides and 4 runs. The duration and intensity vary throughout the cycle but the frequency is fairly consistent. It would be ideal to focus on improving all three disciplines all the time but this is not the recommended approach. Understandable, because if you want to improve you have to be critical about where you currently are and I’m not sure my ego could take that kind of beating across all three disciplines.

>Within the three, at any given time there is one discipline that is better. Perhaps this is a natural strength or a favourite so more time is spent in that area. It is human nature to want to be comfortable and feel confident so for the triathlete this means gravitating to that one discipline a bit more than the others. This leads to an unbalanced athlete which is far from ideal. What is already a strength remains a strength to the detriment of the other two aspects of the sport.

I started my triathlon life as a runner. I worked hard at my swimming and biking and got them to a proficient level but with this shift in focus, my running performance suffered. I loved getting in the pool and would choose a ride over a run. I did not train the run enough but I was already a runner, so why bother? I didn’t think I needed to worry. I very quickly learned that a marathon on its own is nothing like the marathon after a hard 180km on a bike.

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>So, how can I be equally strong in all three disciplines and have the confidence and ability to perform well from start to finish? The answer, single-sport focused blocks. This is where 12-16 weeks is spent focusing on one discipline, preferably the weakest one. I have chosen to focus on my current limiter, my running. A run-focused block means the run volume and intensity is increased; the swim and bike portions are still there but take a back seat.

Whichever sport is the focus, it is important to become like those who do just that sport. With a run focus, I needed to dress like a runner, talk like a runner, and run! So with that in mind I signed up for a local half marathon and left my triathlete self on the sidelines. My long Sunday runs were focused on running, not “running off the bike.” I started to track the distance and quality of my running, comparing weekly routes to the minute.

Early into this run block, I arrived to the start line of the Fall Classic. Surrounded by every brand of technical apparel, a colourful array of road shoes, and wrist devices beeping and chirping I started my dynamic warm up. I was not alone. There was a lot of leg swinging, butt kicking, and high-kneeing going on. I felt right at home! Then I became aware of the chatter around me. I heard about “carbo-loading” and “oh, I had X for breakfast for the first time today because my friend who ran a marathon said it worked for her…” or “I hope these shoes will be ok as I bought them yesterday…” And I realized that while I looked like a runner today and all I had in front of me was a run, I was a more evolved athlete. My journey into triathlon had taught me so many lessons that perhaps wouldn’t have been learned in this run only universe.

Regardless, I believe my run-focused training block will help improve upon a running weakness. I will focus on run mechanics, the long Sunday run, the tempo runs, intervals and sprints. My run focus will take me through to first of February. By that time it will be critical to focus the next 12 or so weeks on getting my bike and swim fitness back so I am ready for my first triathlon in June. Manipulating training stress is one way to impact change. Here’s to great running AND improved “running off the bike” in 2016.

Is it the post-season or the off-season?

hammercanada November 10, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

They call it the “post-season” but they used to call it the “off-season”.  Any competitive athlete knows what I mean…that unstructured time after several months filled with themes such as build week, recovery days, taper period and race day. Without all that structure I do feel a bit “off” so maybe the old label was more appropriate!

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A fun social run for Halloween

I think the athlete’s biggest fear during this time is losing fitness, at least for me that is the worry. I have searched for the magic formula that calculates just how much time is best for full recovery to avoid burnout and optimize the physiological benefits of months of training but of course there is no such broad sweeping solution. All the articles I read say “it depends.” It depends on whether you are a lifetime athlete or new to sport. It depends on whether you are an endurance athlete or focus on shorter more intense activities. It depends on age, gender, muscle mass, resting heart rate, and VO2max. Too many variables for just one answer.
Time with friends

Time with friends

So in the absence of a decision supported by science, I resort to one driven by emotion. For the first two weeks in my post season, my drive to get going for a long, hard run or intense ride is rather low. I am happy to jump in the pool and swim and while I still count each 25m length, it’s not timed or structured. If I feel like swimming freestyle I will but if I want to stretch and glide in breast stroke that’s ok too. I’ll run and just enjoy the feeling of freedom as I tour around my community or watch a sit-com with a Rob while I spin out my legs on my bike/indoor trainer combo.  After about two weeks that nagging feeling of guilt coupled with a sense of loss kicks in. While it’s great to have a bit more time in the week, I miss that feeling of being so in tune with my body that I don’t have to actually see the monitor reading of my heart rate to know what it is.
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Cross training on a wet Grouse Grind day!

This year I will deal with this weird feeling by developing a number of plans. A maintenance plan, a strength plan, and a next season race plan. I will cross train and incorporate some short but intense workouts into my week. Dust off the mountain bike, skate skis and snowshoes as winter brings a new playground. It’s time to focus on weight loss and doing more fasted state sessions because during the race season, the caloric requirements for performance and recovery are too important to mess with. It’s time to do other things for fun and explore some new challenges. I’m 2 weeks into a 30 day body weight circuit challenge and embracing the heavy feeling in my upper body and the burn in my legs.  Bring on the “off-season” as it will only make me better!

Xterra World Championship Race Reprt

hammercanada November 5, 2015 No Comments

By Josh Gillingham of Superior Athletes

XTERRA was a pretty epic day! coming into the event, without being as prepared as I would have liked was scary. Talking with a few of the 800+ other athletes who qualified to race here in Maui, it was clear everyone was worried about the event, and nutrition seemed to be the main source of their fears.

A moment of panic hit, once on the first plane to Maui. I had forgotten my HEED back home! No worries I thought, I’ll be able to buy some once I get to Maui. Once at the race site, I was shocked to find out that no Hammer products were available. A competing brand had bought exclusive rights to be the sole nutrition provider for the race.

At the athlete village, I spotted a few Hammer logos at the expo stand of one of the exhibitors, and asked if they sold Hammer. She said they did at their store, but were strictly forbidden to do so at the event. After a little sweet talking, she had taken my name, and contact info, and promised to covertly sneak some Strawberry HEED in for me the next morning.

Crisis averted.

On race day, in the 30+ Celsius heat, I knew it was going to be a struggle to stay hydrated. I filled my bottles with HEED, and Endurance Amino’s, and had 2 Hammer Gels in my tri-suit pockets for the bike, and one in transition for the run.

Compared to other athletes, I brought on a lot less carbohydrates than “normal”, but I’ve worked to be more efficient at using my own fat as a fuel (which I have a few more pounds than I care to admit right now), and I believe in the less is more approach.

p>I made a very poor tactical mistake early in the bike, after a really really bad swim, that cost me any chance of a result I was hoping for. The only thing that went perfect, and according to plan, was my rock solid nutrition plan.

Thanks Hammer Nutrition Canada 🙂

Well That is a Wrap…. Almost

hammercanada September 14, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

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The race season that started way back at the end of February out in Chico, California is quickly coming to a close. I challenged myself with a following specific goals for the year:

  1. Don’t be a disappointment to my new race team – Hammer/53×11 – this goal kept me really focused with my Winter indoor trainer workouts
  2. Defend my Canadian National Championship titles in both the Time Trial and Criterium events, while also attempting to lay claim to the Road Race National Championship title. – Success on all three goals was sweet
  3. Become the Ontario Provincial Champion in both the Road Race and Time Trial – Accomplished, but not easily, as the Ontario boys were in fantastic race shape in mid-August.
  4. Make a stab at the UCI World Cycling Tour Championships in Denmark – This last goal seemed pretty lofty in the early part of winter, but gradually became more of a focus as the season rolled along.

Racing the bike successfully like most sports requires loads of specific quality training, well maintained equipment, mental toughness and good fortune. I cannot stress the importance of good fortune. Good fortune in bike races means:

  • Not having a puncture
  • Not having mechanical issue with the bike
  • Not crashing or being involved in a crash
  • Not arriving at a race sick
  • The list could go on….

Time Trial shot

While I have had a very good season thanks to great coaching, good health and fitness, I also have had my share of good fortune. I have witnessed some disappointing misfortune, everything from snapped shifter cables to punctures. At the Ontario Provincial Championships a good friend of mine crashed badly, breaking bones and taking a tremendous blow to the head. Witnessing that crash, shook me up and truly struck home the importance of good fortune.

The UCI World Cycling Tour Championships held in Denmark capped off my season. Myself along with 60 other Canadians had qualified to participate at the championships in various 5 year age groups. Each competitor was required to wear race kit which represented their country, which really added a unique touch to the event. Denmark is a windy country, hence the many windmills which cover the landscape. The terrain is fairly flat, however where a hill could be found the race course went over it. The weather was epic on the day of the Time Trial, what with heavy gusting winds and periodic torrential downpours. My wife joined me for the trip/competition. She has patiently endured my passion for this sport and so it was a real pleasure to share my Time Trial Bronze Medal ceremony with her.

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Bruce Bird invited me to join him, David Gazsi and Calah Wright in the Team Relay event which consisted of each member racing around the downtown streets of Aalborg. We had a blast and managed to Win the Gold Medal, climb up on the top step of the podium and sing along (myself horribly) to our national anthem as it was played.

The road race course was 164km on a day where the winds wear howling at 28km/h with gusts at 38km/h, but the Sun was shining brightly. My race came to an end when misfortune struck me. I got tangled up in crash where a rider overshot a fast downhill corner, taking out my rear wheel. I cannot stress the importance of having good fortune. Thankfully I was able to get back rolling and complete the remaining race course which captured the essence of Denmark’s remarkable scenic country side. Though my race came to an abrupt end, I was unhurt and the damage to the bike was negligible.

Now that I’m back home, I find myself not quite ready to call an end to the racing. So I’m off to “The Appalachian Classic” in hilly scenic Victoriaville next Saturday… Racing alongside my Hammer/53×11 team captain, Hunter Ziesing. Up for grabs is our Weight in Maple Syrup…. Sweet! After that I plan to step into the Velodrome for the first time and give it a whirl. If all goes well I may just see what I can do at the Canadian National Track Championships in early October.

So that is a wrap…. almost

Hammer On!

5 Tips for Successful Athletic Travel

hammercanada September 2, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Peter Glassford

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As competitive or recreational athletes, our passion for our sport will inevitably necessitate travel in the name of bigger challenges, wilder adventures and/or increased competition. Travel is amazing and something I have been fortunate enough to do for over 15 years as an athlete and coach. The catch with travel, though, is that you have to go through the travel process to get to your destination.

While many trips will go smoothly, there are many potential stumbling blocks in travel, especially when traveling with groups and with expensive, heavy, large gear.

1) Accept that it will not go smoothly and focus intently on the next step and remaining calm. While this sounds a little kooky, I promise it is going to make your experience better. Put on your best meditative ‘face’ and remain calm. I focus on breathing and smiling. I try to be neutral and await a next step. Airport travel is filled with ‘hurry up and wait’ moments where you will be called to action to lug your 121lb—I mean 50lb, wink-wink—bike bag two kilometers across a terminal only to wait two hours in a line for someone to pull back a ribbon that lets you stand in another room for an hour. Accept you are part of a group and let yourself flow through each step as the ‘gate’ opens. The calmness and inability to do anything else can be a vacation in itself and the focus on the ‘next step’ can transfer very well to focus in your athletic life.

 

2) Prepare for huge delay and catastrophe, because it will happen. Amazing backups and delays happen all the time. Generally, if you are on time and in the right place then the travel company you are dealing with will make arrangements to get you where you are supposed to go. You cannot control a damaged plane or over-booked flight, so keep coming back to relaxing and the next step. Being prepared to keep yourself hydrated by carrying a easy-to-clean water bottle, fueling with products like Hammer Bar and Hammer Recovery Bar and staying comfortable with flexible clothing to keep you warm/cool as the environment demands can change the discomfort a delay causes hugely.

 

3) Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. This can take some training but keep your hands away from your face, don’t bite your nails, pick your nose/teeth etc. Whenever you see a washroom during your trip, use it and spend a minute—two times through ‘happy birthday’—scrubbing your hands with normal soap. I tend to avoid hand sanitizer, but some people swear by it for travel days. This is to minimize how many people’s bugs/sicknesses you end up with around athletic events, especially on red-eyed flights post-race when you are short on sleep and dealing with some lowered immunity.

 

4) Be Weird. Public situations require certain courtesies and also cause most of us to retreat to very reserved behaviour—fine, but not conducive to getting off a plane in your best shape. Push yourself to vary your position during your travel, especially to avoid singular seated positions, such as when seated on a plane. Find ways to mix up your posture by going to the washroom several times, walking up and down the aisle, engaging the flight attendants in conversation at the back of the plane, visiting other friends around the plane and by changing seated position as possible in the seat (think knee hugs, cross-legged). While in the terminal walk around, use high stools, do some mobility/stretching and/or try to lay down with your feet up in a quiet corner of the terminal.

 

5) Have a System. Travel is like any skill. The more you do it, and perhaps more importantly, the more focused you are on improving your travel skill, the better it gets. Start working on a system of bags, wallets and gear that you will bring on most trips. You might remove/add for certain types of trips but a basic ‘tool-kit’ makes transferring between ‘real-life’ and ‘travel-life’ much easier. I have a specific back-pack that I can hike or bike with that always has my passport wallet, foreign money, eye-shade/ear-plugs/travel-pillow, compression socks, ‘S-Pork’ eating utensil, and a few Hammer Bars. Usually, I am also traveling with a bike bag and I have a system for how that bag is packed and how my clothes are used as padding in that bag to reduce number of bags and bag-weight. Recently we got new bags with wheels to avoid getting stuck carrying boxes/bags ridiculous distances… Although I do like the challenge, it is good to be able to control how sweaty you are before getting on a plane!

Wherever you are going and for whatever reason you are going, spend some time planning so you can operate smoothly under any delays. Having your own system makes you more resistant to undue stress and leaves you more ready to enjoy the adventures you are traveling for.

Ironman Canada Report

hammercanada August 10, 2015 No Comments

By athlete ambassador, Lesley Maisey

Anything can happen. This statement applies to life and is also very appropriate for triathlon, especially my most recent race at Ironman Whistler. Here in Vancouver we had an unusually hot June and early July. So, in preparation for what was most likely going to be a hot race, I took every opportunity to train in the heat and work on cooling techniques. I’d wait to run until it was the hottest part of the afternoon instead of doing my nice cool 0530 run. I rode indoors without a fan and practiced using different arm coolers, spray bottles, and ice as water and ice would be readily available on the course. I swam in my sleeveless wet suit just in case the water was warm.

Off to Whistler we went three days before the event and I was still only prepared for and expecting a warm race. We woke Friday morning to torrential rain and looking at the weather for the coming two days was concerning. All that heat training was out the window and I had left home not totally prepared to race in what Mother Nature was planning for us.

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When I rose Sunday morning at 0400, it was overcast and 9C. It had rained hard Saturday night and I was glad I had used garbage bags and ziplock bags to protect my gear inside my transition bags. There was a good chance I could start my ride and run in a dry and warm state even if it rained all day. The rain held off for transition set up and the first loop of the swim. Second loop I knew the rain had started as the water became quite choppy and changed colour. I exited the swim to be met by hard, cold rain and joined a few hundred other women in a steaming change tent. My T1 time was slow. I took the time to put on socks, gloves, toe covers, long sleeved jersey and a light rain jacket. I don’t usually race in all of that but today called for a different plan. My only regret was I had not included leg warmers in my ambassador clothing order!
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Off onto a very cold and wet ride. I started warm and dry but that was gone in the first few kilometres. I embraced the climb up Callaghan but froze on the descent. I had legs that were cold and felt like lead and didn’t like what I was demanding of them. Racing in these conditions takes a different kind of energy. We generate heat as a by-product of metabolism so my system was on overload trying to keep me warm and functional. I had depleted my 3 hour Perpetuem bottle and was out of gels when I hit special needs. Quick top up and out to the flats. I warmed up by the120km mark on the Pemberton flats and climbed back towards Whistler even sweating a bit, finally! Into T2 and it felt good to shed the soaking wet layers, and don a dry shirt and fresh socks.
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Living in Vancouver and running outdoors year round means I run in the rain a lot. The run was beautiful and I only had the downpour for the last 6km. There were many friendly faces to cheer me on during the run and I was proud of my perseverance on a challenging day. Coming down that finish chute is a wonderful feeling and this event was even more satisfying. I toughed it out and kept going even when my legs were so cold I could barely feel them, my hands were numb and my feet were floating around in my cycling shoes. I proved to myself that anything can happen but it won’t stop me!

Recovering from back-to-back ultra runs

hammercanada July 24, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk

Brice Ferre Studio - Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

Brice Ferre Studio – Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

These past two weeks I spent both Saturdays running back to back 50km races. I didn’t do it intentionally, it just worked out that way. Back in November I registered for a brand new race in Rossland July 18th, the Broken Goat. I then put my name in for the Knee Knacker lottery the weekend before. The running gods were on my side the day of the lottery and I got into the Knee Knacker… which meant running two 50km trail races, back to back saturdays…hooray!

Two back to back 50kms meant I needed fast recovery time in between. Here’s how I trained…

My training consisted of back to back long runs, adding cycling and cross training after of before runs and watching my nutrition. I upped my overall protein intake to aid in faster recovery. As a vegetarian it can be hard to increase protein intake, it takes more effort to think and plan ahead. I started relying on Hammer Vegan protein as it is a fast and convenient source of protein. I started adding it into my smoothies or adding it to my cereal in the mornings. I also started using recoverite which is a 3:1 carb to protein powder with glutamine immediately after a workout or long run. Recoverite is meant for faster muscle recovery as glutamine allows protein to enter the muscle cells quicker and carbs replenish the immediate glycogen loss.

Brice Ferre Studio - Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

Brice Ferre Studio – Vancouver Commercial, Portrait, Editorial, advertising, trail running, athlete, adventure, photographer

I did cross training and cycling in between my runs. Cycling is a phenomenal compliment to running as it is a great cardio exercise and awesome for strengthening all while being low impact. Pairing cycling with running is a great way to get more cardio in without the constant pounding impact that running elicits on the body. Plus it’s really fun to go really fast down hills on a bike!! Cross training is an excellent way to do short bursts of high intensity training, reach your max or target heart rate, target specific muscles and tone your core and upper body. Having a strong core will make a substantial improvement in your running!

I have also allowed myself to rest. Training intensely plus working full time as an ER RN and running a company is tough work. When I felt tired, I listened to my body and took rest days as needed. The thing they don’t tell you is rest is the secret weapon of being prepared on race day. You’re not going to get very far if your exhausted. Training while you are tired or sore can increase your risk of injury. It’s really important to learn to tune into these messages your body is giving you.

Recovery

My first 50km, the knee knacker, I can say I definitely raced it. I went out there and I pushed myself as hard as I felt I could and snuck in under the 7 hour mark at 6:53. I was so proud of myself but I was completely knackered after the race. Immediately after the race I was pretty doubtful on my ability to recover in time, but my body recovered beautifully for the Broken Goat 50k a week later.

Here are my top recovery tips:

Massage: immediately after the race I took advantage of the post race massage. The RMT passively stretched me and worked through some immediate muscle soreness. Plus, being horizontal after a 50km is the greatest place to be. I could have been massaged all day!

Nutrition: I refilled my caloric deficit. You can only imagine how many calories 50km, 2500m of elevation gain and almost 7 hours or running you burn. Immediately after the race I had a recoverite shake to get calories, glycogen, carbs and protein in. I immediately consumed protein rich meals to recover my knackered muscles. For the week between races I ate high carbed meals, ate when I was hungry and snacked through out the day to maintain a proper
caloric intake.

Walked it out: The day after the race, as sore as I was, I laced up and went for an hour long walk with Dayna. This helped stretch things out and release some of the built up lactic acid. Moving also really helped prevent me from stiffening up, loosened things up and decreased my overall
soreness.

Rolling: As much as it hurt, I got out my foam roller and I rolled out my muscles. My calves, glutes and hips were the sorest part and convinently the most painful places to roll. Foam rolling is an
excellent way to control the healing and recovery process by applying pressure in precise locations, because only you can feel exactly what is happening. The foam roller can get deep into those muscles that are hard to release by just stretching. Rolling can be done while watching TV for an hour or so. Try and get into those areas that feel the tightest so help release them.

Cycling: 2 days post race I hopped on my bike to stretch out the legs, see how sore I was and get my muscles firing again and test how well I was recovering. I took it easy and didn’t push it too hard. My legs felt suprisingly good 2 days after the race.

Rest: I didn’t push myself too hard during the week between the two 50kms. I relaxed as much as I could and did only light exercise when I felt up to it. Running two 50km races back to back weekends is a lot to ask from your body so I relished in the rest and relaxation the
week between.

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When I toed the start line of the Broken Goat 50km I was not sure how things would go. The first 5km, my legs felt tired and my breathing wouldn’t settle. But after that, my body started cooperating and I ended up having another sucessful race with a time of 7:34 on a very challenging, full mountain course! I fuelled the entire race with Hammer Gels and Hammer Nutrition Bars and stayed on top of my electrolytes and hydration with endurolytes.

Would I race back to back 50kms again? Oh probably… I love a good challenge!

2015 Canadian Road National Championships – Done and Dusted

hammercanada July 23, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

The Canadian Road National Championships were held in Thetford Mines, Quebec. The championship races were comprised of 3 different types of road races, a 120km Road Race, a 14km Individual Time Trial (race against the clock over a set distance) and a Criterium (50min race on a 4 corner 1km loop). My success at this year’s Canadian Road National Championships was more than I could have hoped for. I am proud to say that after competing against a strong and determined field of competitors, I was fortunate to claim the Championship titles in all three race events.

The following is a brief summary of how each race played out for me:

The Individual Time Trial was held on an out and back route. Unlike most Time Trial courses which are usually held on flat to rolling terrain, this year’s race had six substantial hills on the route. This meant that each racer had to climb up and speed down hills, which removed the rhythm from the steady pace one usually gets into when racing a Time Trial. It was tough to figure out how best to pace out the effort as there was a stiff cross/headwind on the up and down, but more downward out section. While the return trip had the wind at your back but the climbing sections were longer and harder and the downhill sections were shorter, offering less time to recover from the climbing efforts. After completing the distance I was really not sure if I raced the course correctly. The interesting thing about technical Time Trials like this one is that often it is not the strongest rider who wins, but the best tactician who correctly applied his energy and then recovered in all the key spots along the race route. Steve Bauer, Jon Gee and Rob Orange all had great rides and certainly were nipping at my heels.

Most every racer I spoke to felt that the 20km circuit loop which was repeated 6 times to make up the 120km Road Race course, would finish as a mass group sprint. However, once the race started, the attacks came thick and furious. Many breaks were started and then chased down before 4 of us managed to get up the road and established a firm breakaway group. My breakaway companions consisted of some pretty talented riders all who were cycling studs in their younger days and continue to enjoy racing their bikes and doing battle with Old Man “Father Time”. The break consisted of Daniel Therer (former Canadian Track National Team and World Cup team member), Miguel Sanchez (former National Team member for Spain) and Steve Bauer (who completed 11 Tours de France and wore the Yellow Jersey for five days in 1988). It was a real pleasure to take turns rotating through on the front with such talented and smooth riders. Daniel Therer eventually fell out of the group but not before turning himself inside out to stay with the breakaway. He never missed a turn/pull on the front and really helped us establish the gap on the chasing peloton before running out of gas. Trying to win the road race in a sprint for the finish line against the likes of Steve Bauer was not likely going to go well for me. So with 18km to go to the finish I put all the cards on the table and attacked my breakaway companions. Fortunately a sizeable gap opened between them and me, that I managed to sustain and soloed in to the finish to claim my 1st ever Canadian Road Race National Championship title.

The Criterium race (50min – 4 corner – 1km loop) was a smaller field than the road race. However the field was stacked with some quality crit racers. After 10min of aggressive attacks from various racers I managed to slip off the front and then utilized my Time Trial ability to hold a gap on the field to finish.

As usual, July and August are void of road races, they just seem to dry up with the heat of summer. This is fortunate as it will allow me the time to focus on my training to build more fitness while attempting to reach peak form for the UCI World Master Championships to be held in Denmark in early September.

Hammer On!

Dynamic warm up with Lesley

hammercanada July 20, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador Lesley Maisey

My friends think I am silly. As we head out for a run, they are gradually finding their stride while I am skipping along, grape-vining, and running backwards. My antics usually elicit a laugh or a smile but so far, no participation.

I think my friends are silly! They lace up their shoes and head straight into a run. It might take them 5 or 10 minutes to settle in. Others might walk for a couple minutes and then start running. What my friends are missing is the importance of firing up your nervous system, loosening up your muscles, increasing circulation to the legs, and improving range of motion – all beneficial to do before starting to run. Spending 5-10 minutes in a dynamic warm up means that when I do start running, there is no need to settle in…I am ready to start running at the pace that I intend to maintain for the duration of my run.

My dynamic warm up consists of leg swings, skips, hops, grape-vines, backward runs, high knees, and butt kicks. If I am heading out for a longer run (i.e. more than 10k) then I will add in some walking lunges, plank, downward dog, and arm rotations. So the next time before you head out for a run, take 5 minutes to truly get ready. Most of us with GPS running watches need something to do while waiting for satellites to be located anyway!

Hammer Big Rig Tour: Two weeks in!

hammercanada July 18, 2015 No Comments

After months of planning and anticipation, it’s hard to believe Ryan and I are almost two weeks into our “Hammer Nutrition Canada Tour”. This summer long adventure will take us coast to coast in the Hammer big rig, visiting some of our great Canadian retailers, supporting events and sharing stories from Ryan’s recently released book, A Purpose Ridden.

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I have always wanted to travel across Canada, and we’re doing it.

It all started in New Brunswick at the awesome Challenge St. Andrew’s triathlon weekend. Here, our team congregated at the amazing race venue where the Big Rig keys were handed over to Ryan and I. More than just a vehicle to transport us across the country, the Rig is also our home for the next couple of months.

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Since leaving the grounds of the famed Algonquin Resort in St. Andrew’s, we have made stops in Halifax, Moncton, Fredericton, Quebec City, Ottawa, Kingston, Belleville, Peterborough, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst.

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Life in the Rig is busy, simple and, sometimes, challenging. Maneuvering a 43-foot truck, that is not only long but also wide and tall, around parts unknown is not always an easy task. Managing water consumption, battery power, access to wifi… it makes us appreciate what we normally take for granted.

11225451_1002119973162026_1475513216006394600_nNevertheless, we appreciate the simplicity of it. Make no mistake about it, the Hammer Big Rig is one well-equipped piece of machinery, but it does make us realize how little you need. We certainly don’t have a lot of “stuff” with us and we don’t know where we will make home each night… but we do know that we will see lots of amazing places, meet all sorts of new faces, and have one incredible summer!

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We have many more stops ahead of us as we finish off our tour in Ontario and venture west across the prairies. Be sure to check out our event schedule to see if you can come visit us at one of our stops. And, don’t forget to honk or wave if you see us out there.

~Sarah Hornby

3 Ways to Consistent Training on the Track

hammercanada June 8, 2015 No Comments

by Athlete Ambassador, Sam Effah

Photo by Candice Ward

Photo by Candice Ward

I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is having consistent and quality training sessions. Currently I’m returning to my sport from an injury that took me completely off the track. Slowly, I’ve gotten back into sprinting, and with the assistance of coaches, training partners and therapists ill be back to my old self in no time. Devices like the Anti-gravity treadmill have made this transition easier, although I’ve noticed that the simplicity of being diligent and consistent has been the underlying factor in my recovery and level of performance.

Practice

Building up a strong base and getting into race shape are factors that occur with consistent and quality training. One challenge I have always been faced with is my restricted functional movement. Limited flexibility coupled with inefficient movement patterns has hindered me in reaching my full potential. Working on correct running technique and base movements has helped me become a more efficient runner. Working from the bottom up – the basics, have shown me an important lesson in staying healthy. Being able to move correctly has enabled me to open up my stride, thus moving more freely and covering more ground on runs.

Nutrition

Nutrition has played a key role in the effectiveness of my recovery. Training sessions fueled by a balanced meal in the morning set the tone for my day. As a high performance athlete I can be in the gym or on the track anywhere from 15-25 hours a week. Key factors in my success nutrition wise are hydration, pre and post training meals and monitored food portion sizes. Between high intensity sessions on the track and in the weight room I often consume Hammer protein bars (which contain 20 grams of protein). It’s a quick source of food and I can easily digest the bars with no issues. In high volume phases or on particularly warmer temperature training sessions, I often use Endurolytes (Fizz). It helps to combat cramping and conveniently dissolves in water for quick consumption. I continue to use Hammer Nutrition products as I get closer to competition race shape. I’ve made it a goal for myself to keep track of my nutritional intake and ensure consistency by using a daily journal.

Treatment

Training at the high performance Centre in Toronto has given me the opportunity to work with some of the best professionals in Canada. Through a combination of massage therapy, physiotherapy and chiropractic work, treatments assist me in consistently training at a high quality on the track. I respond well to post training massages, and find it as an effective remedy for recovery. One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s important to limit the amount of therapy done. I’ve found that more treatment isn’t necessarily better, and in some cases can hinder training and performance.

Consistency in training is key in keeping a healthy body, and the difference between being able to bounce back after quality training sessions and feeling lethargic. I’ve found that with a strong balance of nutrition and treatment, I’ve been able to perform at a high intensity on a regular basis.

I’m excited to keep you posted as I get closer to compete and push towards representing Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games, keep an eye out for future posts!

My top products for this month:

Endurolytes Fizz
– Superior cramp prevention
– Full-spectrum, balanced formula
– Convenient, rapidly dissolving tablets
– Great flavors

Hammer Protein Recovery Bar
– Minimizes post-exercise soreness
– Maintains and repairs lean muscle tissues
– 20 grams of protein

The Spring Campaign: One Brick at a Time

hammercanada June 5, 2015 No Comments

by Athlete Ambassador, Ron Amos

Going Solo

Photo by Peter Kraiker

 

The Great American Classic which was the Tour of Battenkill was a huge success for the Hammer/53×11 team. The Hammer boys came from all across the country to race together with the hope of going home with some well-earned metal hardware. My teammates were Cale Reeder, Bill Dahl from New Mexico, Steve Warren from Maine, Jeff Galland and Hunter Ziesing from California. Day one finished with my super strong teammate Cale Reeder taking 1st and myself, 2nd. Day two I was not on my game as my legs felt like they had been beaten with a baseball bat from the efforts of the previous day. I suffered through with a 7th place finish and managed to help Cale (who finished the day in 3rd ) out a little bit in the final Kilometers as a small group of us attempted to chase down Erin Korff. Erin had broken away late on a stunning solo effort to take the win. This was my first year racing in the Battenkill region of New York. The race will certainly be on my race calendar again next year, as it was well organized, the race roads challenging and the area remarkably scenic.

May is always a huge race month on the Eastern part of the Canada and the United States. My plan was to get lots of quality racing in while building fitness for the Canadian National Championships to be held July 2-5.

Ripping the Rocket

Photo by Peter Kraiker

 

The month of May started with the local Clarence-Rockland Classic (a gravel/broken pavement leg buster), duking it out amongst all the local talent young and old guns firing huge caliber slugs off at each other. I had a respectable finish after getting in a late move which looked good for a podium placement for a little while before being swallowed up and spit out the back of a chasing group of sharks.

My next race was a four stage omnium, the Syracuse Race Weekend. Stage 1 – Hill Climb had us older dudes racing with the young Elite Cat 1/2/3 up the 6km long climb with some bad ass steep sections. The back section of the Time Trial had a tailwind downhill which allowed for a very fast finish. After four race stages, I finished the weekend with the GC win in the 40+ category.

Grey County Road Race and Time Trial – (Georgian Bay area) was the only North American race qualifier for the UCI World Tour Championship which will be held in Denmark this September. I was fortunate to take the win and the Jersey’s in the 50-54 age group categories in both the Time Trial and the Road Race. The highlight of the weekend was being able to survive a solo breakaway that I foolishly initiated early in the road race, for the win, even after being caught in the final kilometers by Andre Lamarche and the legendary Steve Bauer.

Collecting the Jersey

Photo by Peter Kraiker

The heavy race volume for May was completed after taking the GC win at the Grand Prix de Charlevoix. This race was held in the crazy hilly and very scenic Bae of St Paul area of Eastern Quebec. I have been chasing a top podium position for 7 years at this epic race. It was not an easy win as I only managed to best Dominic Picard by 12 seconds for the overall General Classification and my first time on the top podium step at this event.

Up next …. A solid June training block with a focus on the upcoming Canadian National Championships to be held July 2-5.

Hammer on!

Flexibility and Stability for Triathletes

hammercanada May 25, 2015 No Comments

By athlete ambassador, Lesley Maisey

Triathlon…it is just swimming, biking and running, right? Not necessarily! What about core strength, functional motion, spinal mobility, or rotary stability. As a triathlete, I know that the training week involves more than just focusing on the three disciplines that make up the event on race day. To be truly ready to start and successfully finish an ironman distance race also involves training and learning to initiate movement in an efficient manner.

Core strength is not about abdominal strength. Our core muscles are found in the torso. Core strength is important because all of our movements are powered by our torsos; the abdominals and back muscles work together to support the spine when we sit, stand, and bend over. A triathlete with poor core strength will have a challenging time sustaining the spinal flexion and pelvic stability required in the aero position on the bike.

Thoracic spine mobility and rotary stability are essential for energy transfer from one segment of the body to another through the torso. Imagine swimming flat with no rotation. This is obviously not the most efficient way to move forward through the water. Spinal and shoulder mobility are both important in swimming. The majority of triathletes I know did not start as swimmers so we spend hours in the pool trying to turn back the clock and perfect our freestyle so we are as efficient as those who learned to swim fast when they were six. What many athletes forget is that the time on land training for the swim is just as important as all the hours in the pool.

Functional motion in running is about efficiency in acceleration, deceleration, and directional changes all with dynamic stability. Running is a single leg activity so it is important to train the body for ankle, knee, and hip mobility for both legs independently and train stability through motion to efficiently complete the reciprocal pattern required in running.

My training week involves a lot of time swimming, biking and running but it also includes stability/mobility exercises. These are not complicated, nor do they require much more than your own body weight and a band or two. Plank, side plank, bridge, and in-line lunges are examples of exercises that will help improve functional motion. Supine resisted arm and leg extensions and tubing resisted diagonals are great cross body exercises that help strengthen the core and increase rotary stability. Long distance triathletes are already spending 15-20 hours a week training; incorporating two 30-minute stability/mobility sessions a week helps to balance out the impact of all that physical stress and trains the neuromuscular pathways needed for efficiency in motion.

Some say the fourth discipline in triathlon is nutrition. While I agree this is crucial to get right in training to be ready on race day, the often neglected fifth discipline of stability/mobility is just as important. You might fuel correctly but how well will that serve you if you are wasting a ton of energy on how you move?

The Great Escape

hammercanada May 19, 2015 No Comments

By athlete ambassador Ron Amos

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Vacation nearing an end….soaking up some rays while chilling at a favorite coffee haunt

Ottawa was thrown into a deep unrelenting freeze from December onward. And after way too many mind numbing indoor trainer rides, I managed to escape to Sunny California on February 24th and began my 2015 race season.

I hit the ground rolling the bike around the Sonoma wine country for two days and then launched right into the teeth of the 2015 race season with the Chico Stage Race and my new Hammer Nutrition teammates. The group of us 50+ geezers entered the 35+ race category. It was a very competitive field with two large team besides ourselves, Specialized and Mikes Bikes. Four stages had us racing on the Thunder Hill race track, rolling a road race on quite roads with a good number of kilometers of deep gravel, 15km Time Trial, and a downtown Chico 6 corner Criterium. My teammate Cale Reeder finished 2nd on GC and I managed a solid 9th after three days of racing. I was very pleased with the fitness managed to attain while being limited to indoor trainer rides through the Winter.

The following weekend, in Madera, I once again toed the start line for my 2nd stage race in Northern California. The Madera Stage race had 4 stages for the 45+ field, beginning with an up-hill Time Trial which I won, followed by a flat Time Trial which finished 2nd. My teammate US National Crit Champion Dave Albretch won the Criterium, and my other teammate, Hunter Ziesing won the Road Race. So the Hammer/53×11 team had a winning weekend. I managed to finish the stage race with a 2nd place in the General Classification.

After spending ten days in spectacular Northern California, I drove down to the sunny warmth of Encinitas in Southern California. Malcolm Bradley, a very good friend of mine introduced me to this part of California six years ago and I have been returning every year since. The remainder of the Great Escape involved a number of the Wednesday morning Camp Pendleton subsonic group rides and the very famous Swami Saturday morning ride which usually involved an extended loop with some exceptionally strong SoCal friends.

I arrived back home mid April with some awesome fitness which I quickly made use of at The Tour of Battenkill. But that is a blog story for another month.

Hammer on friends!

Efficient Fueling Using the Hammer Gel Flask

hammercanada May 19, 2015 No Comments

By athlete ambassador, Peter Glassford

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As athletes we often get routinized, and even superstitious, about the equipment and practices we use in our training and racing. The use of a carbohydrate mix (HEED) in bottles or Hammer gel packs is one common area that athletes have trouble adjusting to their personal needs and to address different race and training situations. The Gel Flask is an often forgotten solution that I believe holds a performance advantages for many athletes.

Beyond cost and environmental benefits the Hammer gel flask holds 5+ servings and provides measurement lines so you know how much you have put in. I see the flask as a way to eliminate several annoyances and tripping points.

  • Gel separates fueling from hydration so you can customize your consumption based on heat and duration. Using drink mix holds you to drinking whole bottles to get your desired calorie intake even if you do not need/want to drink more water.
  • The flask is easy to grab compared to having multiple gels or fueling pockets in your pockets. Instead of trying to grab a single gel you need only grab the flask from your pocket.
  • Once you have flask in hand the consumption is identical to a water bottle in terms of opening the flask-nipple, this is much easier than tearing gel-packs open and does not require you to try and save the little gel-pack-tops or gel-packs to avoid littering.
  • Knowing the measured amount of gel in the flask helps you fuel precisely and track how different fueling affects your performance. No more wondering how much fuel was left in a bottle or disposable gel pack.
  • Did I mention that the gel flask/bottle is a cheaper option?

 

Finally, a secret usage tip I use eliminates the most common barrier to using a flask. Athletes often find the gel, especially towards the bottom of the flask, is hard to get out. Hammer Gel is made to be thinner than other gels so it does flow relatively quickly but I am pretty picky with my fueling efficiency. I have found that since I use 4-5 servings in a normal XC race (~90min) I can speed my fueling by topping my flask off with warm water and giving it a good shake to dilute the gel slightly more. This extra bit of warmth and water makes the gel very easy to get out of the flask and I don’t spend any extra time fueling but get the fuel I need over the course of the race by consuming ~1/4 every 15-20min.

Unconventional bike training

hammercanada April 19, 2015 No Comments

by Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey

The bike portion of any triathlon is the biggest part of the race. In a full ironman, the swim is 3.8km, the run is a marathon (42.2km) but the bike is 180km. 180km or 112 miles is a long way to pedal so it makes sense that many training hours are spent on the bike. Living in southwestern BC means cold and wet winters; for me this translates to many hours on the indoor trainer.

During those long saddle hours it helps to have ever-changing entertainment. Sometimes it is a movie or three, other times its music but the best is when I take my bike and trainer and ride rink-side at a hockey game. I am not talking about NHL hockey, but recreational beer-league hockey. The rink environment is cold so I dress warmly in layers, gloves, and quilted shoe covers with hand and foot warms inside my gloves and around my toes. In the winter when it is really cold outside, the rink seems even colder so those hand warmers are essential.

Being rink-side means an unobstructed view of the game and the feeling like you are right there in the action. While spinning, I cheer on and support my husband Rob and his team. I use penalty minutes as a time to crank it up and climb and the time between periods is a chance to pick it up and sustain a faster tempo ride. Before I know it, the game is over and it is time to cool down while the Zamboni cleans the ice. An hour and 45 minutes later, it is time to pack everything back into the truck.

Triathlon training, especially for the solo triathlete in the family, can be a strain on relationships and families as it consumes many hours each week. Being able to combine some of my training with Rob’s sport reduces the impact of all those hours on my family.

I am always amazed at how many people say, “wow, what a great idea” but to this day, no one has joined me. I hope to inspire others to multi-task like this. Maybe one day I won’t be the sole trainer rink-side. Just imagine how great it would be to have vacant spectator benches because everyone was sweating away with me on their bikes.

5 Photography Tips to Capture your Adventures Better

hammercanada April 16, 2015 No Comments

by Athlete Ambassador couple, Leigh and Spring McClurg. Follow their blog at Pebbleshoo.com

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We’ve all been there. You’re out in a wonderful environment, your heart rate is up, feeling a kickass endorphin high. Everything looks amazing, you take out your camera, unsure what to point it at as everything in the world around you is beautiful. “Click” you take a shot, confident you’ve captured this moment well.

Hours later sitting at home in your comfy house clothes, in a comfortable room, bathing in the glow of your phone or computer screen you look at that picture you shot and think “ugh, that’s horrible! It doesn’t look nearly as good as I wanted!”

We’ve all been there, including myself, many times. So here are some quick tips to help you capture those moments on your adventures better.

Tip 1: Focus on the Light, not on the Equipment

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Unless you’re trying to shoot high speed sports or astrophotography the equipment you use to capture a moment largely doesn’t matter, so long as you understand how to get the best out of that equipment, be it a DSLR or an iPhone.

When out in the natural world, watch the light and how it creates shadows. There’s a reason photographers like to shoot at dawn and dusk, not only are the colours more vibrant but the shadows created are longer and more pronounced.

Instead of trying to capture where you are at that moment in time by taking a picture of the location, focus on trying to capture what the light is doing.

Tip 2: Shoot what it feels like, not what it looks like

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This can likely be the hardest skill to master. Understanding what you are feeling, and what that looks like in relation to the environment that you are in.

It’s likely the number 1 reason your images, when viewed at home, don’t match what they looked like when you were actually there.

The reason is you likely felt elated, awestruck or happy and instead of trying to capture those feelings you took a snapshot of the location you were at.

It’s important to break out of this routine we’ve all likely developed as tourists in the past of taking pictures of locations to catalogue the fact that we were there.

If you want to capture a moment, ask yourself what you are feeling while you are in it and look around you to shoot what exemplifies that. Maybe it’s the sun light streaming through the trees, the feel of the ground under your feet, the smell of fresh rain hitting the earth.

If you get home and your image takes you back to that moment, you will have succeeded. The best photos are the ones that can make anyone that views them feel the same emotions that the photographer felt when they shot it.

Tip 3: Change Perspective

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This is a simple one and you will immediately see a difference in your work as a result. Break out of the routine of shooting from eye height for all of your shots. Hold the camera to the ground, above your head, point it upwards, point it down. Just experiment with changing your perspective.

In line with Tip 2, I will usually shoot close to the ground if I’m running trail as that is primarily what I’m experiencing, the feel of the spongey earth below my trail runners.

If I’m up in the mountains I like to point the camera down to show the exposure I’m feeling while exploring, or pointed up at the sky to show how open the space feels in those high places.

Tip 4: Be Inspired, Copy Others

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This might seem a little odd, but when you see a photo by somebody else that inspires you, take the time to go out and recreate it. Doing this will give you an insight into their process of creating that shot.

Don’t be afraid to copy others. Like with any skill, we can all learn by simply paying close attention to those that we deem are more experienced than us.

It will be through this process of recreating images from others that inspired you that you will discover what makes your eye unique. It’s important though to not claim this work as your own, use it as simply training.

Tip 5: Be there

For Athletes and Adventurers it can be hard to stop some times and just be present. It’s important to remember though why we choose to be outdoors, in scenic locations, instead of always in basement gyms, running on treadmills. Take time to stop occasionally and take notice of your surroundings. Be patient, if the light isn’t right yet, wait.

If you’re there, be all there.

I tried to keep this post less about using the equipment of photography and more about the process of it. All too often we can assume that a photograph we love must have been taken with an expensive camera. This assumption does a disservice to the trained eye of the photographer. We would never assume that the Champion of a hard Ultra Marathon won only because they wore expensive shoes. Like with any skill, your photography will only be as good as the training you put into it.

So simply put, shoot often, shoot differently, learn from others, have fun!

What is an Anti Gravity treadmill?

hammercanada April 7, 2015 No Comments

By (recovering) Athlete Ambassador, Sam Effah. Sources listed at the bottom. 

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“To use the Anti Gravity treadmill, you put on a pair of tight neoprene shorts. The shorts have a sort of skirt attached, and the skirt is lined with zipper teeth. You step onto the treadmill, inside a hole in its plastic casing, and zipper yourself in so that, from the waist down, you’re encased in an airtight plastic bag. As you stand there, the treadmill measures your weight, and you tell it how intense you want your workout to be. The machine uses “unweighting technology” to make you feel up to 80 percent lighter—so if you weigh 100 pounds, you could feel as light as 20 pounds on the treadmill.

The Anti-Gravity treadmill was originally invented by Robert Whalen, a biomechanics researcher at NASA Ames Research Centre, in the 1990s.”

 

The Alter G (also known as the Anti-Gravity Treadmill)

It’s amazing what the body can do under specific and altered conditions. This environment, coupled with supportive therapists and innovative technology has enabled me to train at an elite level with minimal impact on the body.  Regular access to an Anti-Gravity treadmill has been a major blessing.

At just 2 months post surgery I was able to expand my rehab program into a sprint program.  Running three times a week for an hour, has created a smooth transition, and increased the range of motion in my affected leg significantly. Interval sprint training post surgery would be unheard of years ago, but with the Anti-Gravity treadmill I am able to simulate running and make my recovery back onto the track that much quicker.  I’m excited about the gains I’ve made and the progress that is to come. I look forward to challenging for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team in 2016.

This machine was originally invented for NASA, and has helped Olympic athletes, injured soldiers and elderly patients learn to walk and live a normal life again.

 

Quick shout out to:

Hammer Nutrition Canada

Lifespring Physiotherapy (Aurora, ON), Winsport (Calgary), and the Calgary Sport Institute for use of their Alter G machines.

ProActive Group Health (Calgary)
CEP Compression Canada
Courtney Kapustianyk

Athletics Canada

 

More info on NASA and how they utilize the machine, (Source):

http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/tech_life_alterg_prt.htm
http://mentalfloss.com/article/57102/how-does-anti-gravity-treadmill-work 

(Photo taken at Lifespring Physiotherapy in Aurora, Ontario)

Meet Ron Amos, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada April 5, 2015 No Comments

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Here we go, my first attempt at a blog. First, I should introduce myself. My name is Ron Amos and I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. I’ve been a firefighter for 28 years and currently a fire station Captain. I have always enjoyed the challenge of competing in endurance sports, transitioning from running to adventure racing to my current interest of road race cycling. My goal is to hold onto my health and fitness for as long as possible as ‘Father Time’ does his thing with me; bicycle racing is my current solution.

This year I joined the Hammer/53×11 45+ Masters Road Race Team. The team’s main sponsor is Hammer Nutrition. The squad has a number of road cycling US State Champions, two American National Champions, and a World Champion. Myself, I was fortunate to claim the Canadian National Time Trial Championship last year as well as the Canadian Criterium Title.  To that end, Hammer/53×11 graciously created a unique race kit for me with the Canadian Maple Leaf displayed on the cuffs of the jersey and shorts, an unexpected surprise.

I’m also privileged to be a Hammer Nutrition Canadian Ambassador. Which means I get the opportunity to pass along the added benefits of using Hammer Nutrition products for training and competing in cycling.

Event Review: Scotties Tournament of Hearts

hammercanada April 4, 2015 No Comments

By New Brunswick team member, Jane Snyder

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Who has “Hammer”?

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is a national competition for Ladies across Canada.

Each year, many teams set out to win the right to represent their province / territory at this prestigious event, which is held in February. The event has representatives from each province / territory in Canada, in all there are 12 teams that compete.

To win your provincial / territorial title is a combination of hard work and dedication. The hard work begins during the off season, where we dedicate our time to staying fit and proper nutrition so we can compete at this level. When the ice is ready for the season then much of our time is spent competing and practicing. Nutrition is essential for us to sustain our energy and mental awareness during such a long game. This is where Hammer Nutrition has helped us, as we maintain our hydration with the HEED Energy Drinks.

This was our first year together as a team, and we were proud to able to represent New Brunswick at the Scotties. Playing at this event is unlike any other, I have played in before. Typically, we play in a curling rink, where only the players are in the ice area. At the Scotties we play in an arena, so the crowd is in the ice area with us, cheering for their favourite teams, and the games are televised by TSN, so there are many distractions. Therefore, as a player you have to work even harder to concentrate on your team’s performance. Most days you need to play 2 games per day, each game takes about 2.5 hours to play. Again this is where fitness and nutrition is important because you play a lot of games in a short amount of time. Maintaining your hydration is vital, in this environment and we used HEED energy drinks.

Ironically, Hammer Nutrition is well named for the sport of curling. The hammer is a term used in our game, which means the advantage of throwing the last rock in an end. Hammer Nutrition certainly gave us the advantage in our game giving us the well needed energy required for the game that allowed us to compete at the National level. To answer the question of, “who has hammer?” we do.

Thanks Hammer Nutrition Canada!

Carefree Cycling Retreat Review

hammercanada March 27, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador (and camp helper), Katie Ozolins

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Location: Carefree, AZ

Rides: 6 days

Kms: 460+ kms

Elevation: 13,100 – 19,250m

Accommodations: Carefree Resort

F&B: diverse and delish!

 

Who needs a beach when you’ve got a bike?!

Training camp is a great way to break up the winter and train with a group of fit and fabulous like-minded people!  There are many reasons to head south in the bitter winter; amongst them: to continue to build your base miles, to build confidence, to hit the hills, or to learn more about skills and tactics.  Rest and relaxation are a byproduct of the adventure!

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The innagural ‘Hammer Powered’ Carefree Cycling Retreat kicked off on Friday March 6th with the arrival of the group at the Phoenix airport. We waited a while for the bike boxes and after my day-long delay of getting my bags and bike; Ryan and I were a tad worried that the guys wouldn’t get their bikes; but they did! Back to the Carefree resort to assemble the bikes, refuel and hit the road riding for a [light] spin out.

The week was packed with tons of good memories on the road and some valuable tips and tricks shared and practiced with the group such as:

  • Body Position & Climbing: your body and weight play a large role in your ability to control your bike and preserve energy while climbing. When you get out of your saddle to stand, it’s key to keep you body/ chest low to avoid acting like a kite and catching the wind, keep your arms bent to allow for this and grip relaxed – focus on your breathing and try to get into a rhythm breathing in through your nose and out your mouth.
  • Pedaling & Descending: coasting can cost you; don’t fall into the trap of coasting/ stop pedaling while riding downhill. It’s key to stay fluid, keep exercising (no, it’s not a respite) use higher cadence to keep your muscles warm and to avoid cramping when you hit another hill and have to hit the gears!
  • Fueling & Flexibility: after a long ride when you’re away, it’s tempting to pack it in and put your feet up and grab a frothy drink to sip by the pool…not too fast though!! It’s important to finish off a ride with some stretching and rolling, as well as a recovery drink (i.e. Hammer’s Recoverite is fail-proof) or balanced meal of carbs and protein and lots of H2O to help your muscles kick start their recovery. After a few days of riding it’s normal to feel a bit gassed and sore; but to help delay the onset and maximize the next day’s ride; all rides should include a proper cool down and recovery.

 

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It’s always great to practice some bike handling skills and drills when it’s the first time off the trainer (all winter) for many, and pack riding skills may be a bit rusty. S-turns around cones to simulate steering and reacting quickly to road-side debris, bumping wheels with other riders in a pace line and recovering calmly and, leaning into another rider and shoulder checking are all valuable skills that are great to run through.

The week included some epic rides:

  • Carefree – Cave Creek and Scottsdale with a bit of a push for the first ride of the week. ROUTE
  • New River – Time Trial-like stretches of fantastic pavement post biker bar (no not the ‘cyclist’ version; we looked a little out of place in our spandex next to the leather-clad bikers). ROUTE
  • Bartlett Lake – great view descending and equally as great a 22km+ climb back to the top! ROUTE
  • Fountain Hills – some punchy and pointy hills, great road conditions and a very scenic route to ride with sparkly neighbourhoods and terrain to traverse. ROUTE
  • Tortilla Flat – gosh, what a great climb…up up up upupupupupup and away! Not sure what type of tortillas you eat, but this route was not flat but a great challenge and dynamic to keep you on your toes. ROUTE
  • Prescott to Jerome – the prettiest little mountain town in the clouds; keeping the cadence on the Canadiana stretch of mountain. ROUTE

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It wouldn’t be a rodeo without Bull riding, BBQ and Black Mountain! Between all the fun had on the bike there was plenty of time to explore the area and hike, run, and ride the bulls at the Buffalo Chip.

Undoubtedly a train-cation allows you to relax, explore and challenge yourself – mind and body. Get after it!

Our next Arizona camp will likely be a bikepacking adventure in March 2016, as part of our Spring training for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Tour. More info at www.greatdividetour.com ~Ryan

Back On Track

hammercanada March 26, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador (and Olympic Sprinter Hopeful), Sam Effah

sam effah

 

The importance of recovery

Sprint sessions, weightlifting, mental preparation and nutrition. Each factor plays a vital role in generating success on the track. To a high performance athlete this means trying to gain an edge on your competitors, and ultimately pushing the body to its limits.

 

Post Surgery

In November of 2014 I received hip surgery.   My limits had been hard-pressed for the last couple years and my body finally broke down. It was a bit of a gamble to go forward with the procedure, as there is no guarantee on the outcome on something like this. The decision made me realize that in order to get back on track, I would need to be diligent in the things I can control.

 

Nutrition

In an effort to refocus and take control, I connected with a company that aligned with my core values and helped supplement my daily nutritional intake.   As an athlete ambassador for Hammer Nutrition Canada, I am excited to share my journey to recovery, as I get back on track.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison

 

Product of choice

Hammer Recovery Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate)

 

Used

After training sessions

 

Why

Works as quick and easy recovery fuel immediately post-workout, and as an occasional snack to boost protein intake throughout the day.

My Path To Triathon

hammercanada March 25, 2015 No Comments

By athlete ambassador, Lesley Maisey

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I am a triathlete. Many people tell me that they could not do an ironman triathlon simply because of the swim segment. You may not share my passion for hundreds of people thrashing about the open water around you but I did not start off loving that experience either.

My first half iron experience involved breast stroking the first 400m until I could catch my breath and actually swim. My second experience was only slightly better. I had trained and was ready, or so I thought. What I did not expect was the cannon! The impact sound triggered my flight, fight or freeze response and I froze. I could not think let alone breathe so again found myself in cold water, restricted by 5mm neoprene across my chest and fighting with my inner demons that were thriving on the panic. I finished both of those events and used them as learning opportunities. My entry into the triathlon world was filled with determination, perseverance, and a firm belief in myself that I could do this.

Over the past few years, I have become a swimmer. It was not an overnight transformation. I devoted a lot of time to researching proper swim technique for open water and then a lot of time practicing what I learned. I am fortunate to have incredible support from my husband. He also does a ton of research and sends me links of videos to review and discuss. He joins me in the pool and pushes me to make each and every lap count for something, whether it is something as simple as speed, or more focused training such as stroke correction, body position or kick cadence.

I believe that we all have something in our lives that we are passionate about. It might not be something physical like mine but it is that thing in your life that you devote time and energy to. It is the pursuit of what fulfills you. Triathlon is #howIhammer!

Fueling Youth Endurance Athletes

hammercanada March 25, 2015 No Comments

Peter Glassford R.Kin, Cycling Coach and Hammer Ambassador

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Fueling youth sport can be a complicated, and controversial topic. I work with several young athletes and with a development program at Hardwood Ski & Bike in Barrie, Ontario, and often find myself in the position of relaying nutritional concepts to young endurance athletes and their supporters. Having the opportunity to observe young athletes during weekly training, at races and during training camps, there are a few themes that might help guide the efforts coaches, parents and other supporters make in guiding the choices of their young athletes.

The biggest thing we can do for young athletes is help them enjoy and understand of basics of whole-food preparation. My biggest surprise at camps is the limited knowledge of food preparation that young athletes have today and how much of a limiter this ends up being after only a day or two of poor nutrition on the road. Some of my fondest memories are helping my mother in the kitchen with meal preparation and cleanup. We rarely did anything that would be deemed gourmet but ingredients were generally single ingredient, whole foods including meat, veggies and fruit. Knowing these staples coupled with basic shopping, cooking, cleaning skills and experience have kept me fueled and healthy while on the road training, racing, studying and working. This is a huge area that parents, and youth programs or clubs, can focus energy towards and really set kids off in the right direction. At home we can get athletes involved in the family meals and school lunches, while clubs can host pot-lucks or cooking-classes.

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Once we have the young athletes eating well for their main meals of the day, we can dig in a bit deeper. One of the most common mistakes for growing youth is that they actually do not eat enough. This is often hard for parents to believe—and to pay for!—but active, growing kids require a lot of food. Focusing on great quality foods can help, but there may be situations where activity level needs to be reduced to avoid over-training/injury/fatigue and ensure long-term development of the athlete. Supplementation may be deemed necessary by a health professional after ensuring the base diet and training are appropriate. My experience is that many athletes do not eat enough for breakfast, have poor school lunches and then don’t eat till dinner. Growing athletes should be prepared to eat full meals (i.e. not just chips or chocolate milk) regularly throughout the day. Those athletes having trouble gaining or maintaining weight or recovering from workouts can typically focus on bigger meals and can increase the number of meals in the day. The post-workout snack, right after the workout, is an often missed opportunity to refuel the young athlete.

Finally, the decision to fuel during workouts for young athletes is going to depend largely on the training load the athlete is under. My suggestion is to consider whether the training is appropriate for the athlete’s ‘training age’. If the athlete’s development requires the increased loading (volume and/or intensity) then we would look to products such as Hammer Heed, Hammer Bars and potentially post-workout fueling from Recoverite. The athletes should be encouraged to incorporate whole-food solutions and be prepared with snacks during long training days or camps so as to continue to reinforce their base nutrition based on nutrient dense whole foods

Young athletes are growing and learning. Nutrition and food is part of this learning process and we can do more to help athletes learn to prepare great food to support their training and generally healthy lifestyles. Should you have questions or specific issues or goals a consultation with a local Registered Dietician or similar respected professional can be worthwhile.

Hammer Event Review: 2015 Biathlon Ontario Championships

hammercanada March 24, 2015 No Comments

Race Report by Colin Edwards

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The Biathlon Championship event was hosted Friday March 13th and Saturday March 14th at the Algoma Rod & Gun Club in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Overall the event was sucsessful, despite what was called the ‘Forces of Nature’ going against the competition on Friday with freezing rain. All 41 athletes had an enjoyable event, with a group from St. Joseph Island trying biathlon for the first time, many young first year athletes participating for their first time, several athletes competing as regular athletes from Timmins, Collingwood, Shallow Lake, and Sault Ste. Marie, and two past athletes of mine coming out of retirement to race against each other in the Men’s 15 Mass Start race, where they were only 6 seconds apart from the finish line.

Thursday was a cool day for setting-up the facility, with several volunteers spending several hours laying out the course, setting targets, and construction elevated shooting frames. 18 shooting lanes were prepared for both air rifle and .22 cal rifle athletes, which was plenty for the number of athletes attending the event. The course was freshly groomed, and was fast to ski on by the afternoon. Friday unfortunately started off bad. I had my truck loaded by 6:30 am, ready for me to drive to the facility early so I could perform my check of the facility grounds. As I was walking out of my house with my last piece of equipment (my spotting scope), and viewing that my driveway was dry; I said to myself a very regretful statement “I thought it was supposed to rain last night and today?”. No sooner as I made this statement, I could hear rain droplets on my metal roof, that grew louder and louder. Within 15 minutes, the rain began to freeze into a persistent downpour, which would be an immediate safety concern for the competition, as the snow would soon turn into a sheet of ice and would be unsafe for the athletes to ski on.

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By 9:00 am the parking lot was an ice rink, the course itself was starting to freeze up, and the race was to start at 12:30 pm. Thankfully, we were able to have parking lot sanded to create appropriate traction for vehicles and individuals walking. And by 11:30 am, the driver of the large groomer finally was able to make it over to our facility to literally tear-up the trails so the icy snow on top would be crushed and mixed with the fresh snow from below. Soon after the groomer finished the maintenance of the trails, the persistent down pour turned into a light drizzle, then to a mist. The course was safe to ski on, the range was open for the athletes to zero their rifles, and the race started only an hour late. Everyone was relived that the athletes were able to race. Part of the event package, a gift bag was included for each athlete. The bag included a Cow Bell that the host ski club Soo Finnish donated to the event, a race event poster, an Arby’s coupon, a Madshus neck warmer, and a Hammer Nutrition sample pack of either Heed, Whey Protein, Recoverite, or Gel with a ‘Little Red Book’ with information on Hammer Nutrition products and how to use the product. I received a comment from the Administrative crew, that every single athlete was shocked and was extremely happy that they received a gift bag with a bunch of goodies, as this is not common at biathlon events. Most notably the younger athletes 8 to 14 were very excited. The athletes were also instructed to talk with me about their specific Hammer Nutrition sample that they received if they had any questions about that product or any other product. I received an overwhelming abundance of positive questions related about the sample pack and other products by athletes, coaches and parents, that when I had “spare time” I sat each team down and talked about each product, and a couple other products such as Perpetrum and Sustained Energy in great detail. Explaining the benefits of specific Hammer Nutrition products versus other high-end products found in stores, and why I strongly recommend and commonly use Hammer Nutrition products over the past several years.

Saturday was an easier day. The course was back to its original state without the layer of ice. The interval sets between each Mass Start were perfectly timed so that the range would not be clustered with multiple athletes, and the coaches would have plenty of time to prepare themselves and their rifles between each set of athletes.

As the event concluded, recognitions from the event was presented. One athlete, who was 12 and competed in his first biathlon competition was the only athlete to shoot perfectly clean the entire weekend with shooting 25 of 25 of his targets. Athletes who shot 5 for 5 in any bout of the race were all recognized, and received a chocolate bar for their accomplishments – we almost ran out of chocolate bars, which is a good thing to see. Two athletes from Highlands Nordic Ski Club and one from Shallow Lake Biathlon Club received the Female and Male Hurley Cup as being the top Junior Boy or Junior Girl athlete based on the point standings. The female recipient was Hanna Skelton from Highlands Nordic with a total of 286 points out of 300, and the male recipients with a tie between Braden Lohnes from Highland Nordic and Wyatt Knowles of Shallow Lake with a total of 288 points out of 300.

As the event ended, and as I am writing this event overview, many parents and athletes were very thankful for events hosting ability, stating that the club always sets the standard for races and the gift bag and door prizes at the banquet were excellent – many of the athletes are planning for the event next year.

Fueling with Real Food

hammercanada March 18, 2015 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Spring McClurg

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The Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip is my favourite go to energy bar on long distance training runs and during races.

I had you at Coconut Chocolate didn’t I?

I don’t think I am alone in my desire to eat real food when running long distance. As essential as gels are, sometimes your stomach and your future well being depends on having something more substantial to eat. Even the mere act of chewing after 7+ hours of drinking only liquids and swallowing gels, can be a heavenly feeling. In the world of long distance running it’s the little things that make the difference between feeling miserable or being able to push on.

My personal favourite long run food choice has always been the Hammer Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip energy bar. It’s soft and moist enough to be easily digestible, but still has a enough weight to it to be the perfect chewy consistency. Plus it tastes great and is a raw food bar made with natural organic ingredients. It never fails to perk me up when I need that extra boost the most.

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Chocked full of things like dates, almond butter, chocolate, protein, flax seeds – it is an extremely satisfying bar. I have even started to use it as a great snack bar when hiking or rock climbing. It’s extremely important to me to not only have the right fuel but to have fuel that is made with high quality natural ingredients and this bars ticks all the boxes for me.

Last year when I was training for my first 50 miler, putting in countless hours and hundreds of miles on the trails, nutrition played a huge part in my success. I owe a large part of this success to the Hammer products I used during my runs, including the Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip Energy bar. It became and remains my mainstay source of fuel for all endurance activities. If, like me, you look for real healthy food during your activities, whether it be running, hiking, biking etc. you should try this bar!

Hammer Heads South

hammercanada March 5, 2015 No Comments

In mid-February Ryan and I packed our belongings in storage and hit the road. It has been the beginning of a 9 month+ adventure for us, one that will take us around the US and Canada with Hammer Nutrition Canada and our cycling camps. After heading due south from our (former) home in Burlington, ON, we cut through the US at the height of a winter storm front. Was it naive of us to think we would escape winter so easily?

On our fourth day of driving we finally saw the last of the fluffy white stuff while passing through Santa Fe, New Mexico. By then, we were eager to get to our final destination of Carefree, Arizona to hang our winter coats in the closet once and for all. I am happy to report that, despite some rain, that is were they have remained since arriving.

Two weeks in to our two month stint here, we have enjoyed taking advantage of the desert landscape and weather, whether it’s cycling, running, hiking or walking. Later this week, we will be welcoming the first group of cyclists who will be taking part in the Hammer powered Carefree Cycling Retreat. We look forward to sharing this wonderful area with them, a place where we have created many great memories on the roads and trails in years past. Stay tuned for pictures!

Athlete Spotlight – Raymond

hammercanada February 2, 2015 No Comments

ATHLETE: Raymond
LOCATION: Ottawa, ON
HAMMER FUEL: Heed Sports Drink

Raymond got into running several years ago after quitting smoking and looking to lose a little weight. What started out as one minute of huffing and puffing eventually led to four continuous kilometres of running. From there, Raymond was ready for the next step! In 2010, inspired by his daughter who had signed up for the 1/2 Marathon Army Run, Raymond completed his first 5km race at the same event, in around 35 minutes. Four years later and twenty pounds lighter, Raymond ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 4:01.

Raymond discovered Hammer products in June 2014 when he ran the Niagara-on-the-Lake 50k, which also offers half marathon, marathon and 100k distances. This scenic race follows the Niagara River Parkway in continuous sight of the Niagara River below and majestic Niagara Falls at the turnaround.

At the aid stations, HEED was served to runners. Raymond believes it was one of the reasons he felt so good during the race. “I’ve never experienced anything like it before”, he said. “It sustained and fueled me without my even being aware of it.”

HEED is Hammer’s ‘high energy electrolyte drink’. It provides a mix of carbohydrates for energy (no simple sugars) and a full spectrum of electrolytes, not just salt and potassium, to replenish lost minerals. HEED also has chromium polynicotinate to maintain stable blood glucose and l-carnosine to buffer lactic acid.

Raymond added, “I think HEED was just the right combo for me. I never felt sick to my stomach, no cramps, no sugar rush; it just sustained me – until the stitches in my shoes started cutting into my feet!”. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Hammer fuel for that!

Raymond

Congrats on your 50k race, Raymond, and thanks for sharing! If you have a Hammer story you’d like to share, e-mail Sarah at sarah@hammernutrition.ca.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HEED.

Peter Glassford on his fueling journey

hammercanada January 16, 2015 No Comments

Gregory McNeill photo of whip Peter G30_6452_edited_small_700pix-1
Sports nutrition is an ominous topic, and one I discuss daily with my coaching clients. I have made and seen many mistakes over the last 15+ years and while I think there are some mistakes we all have to make I do believe that here are some rules of thumb that can help athletes get to their ideal fueling strategy faster and with less discomfort. In fact, The Hammer Nutrition resource page is one I recommend and link to often. In this post, I wanted to share my fueling journey but try and tease out some rules of thumb that might help you find your ideal sooner.

 

Find something that tastes good and that you will eat

As I transitioned from a teenager jumping BMX bikes and skate boarding to a skinny, slightly-concussed ex-hockey player looking to ride mountain bikes, I started to consider what foods could help me ride longer and faster. My first memories of sports nutrition products were mashed up bars that were hard and super-chewy—basically what I imagine space men would have to eat. The price and the horrible taste had me quickly going back to the kitchen cupboards at home for granola bars and bananas to get my CCM ‘Anvil’ rigid mountain bike around the trails. These simple products helped me progress from a beginner rider and still make up a portion of my fueling strategy today.

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Use products that have quality, minimal, purposeful ingredients

As I got older and my training increased, I started looking at products with catchy names like ‘carbo-boom-mega-powder’ to get more carbs and calories into my little 135lb frame so I could ride further. The guy at the local muscle-powder store said they were great for endurance athletes so I bought the expensive tub and started my bulk-up phase. This quickly had me feeling horrible and really didn’t help me get on my bike more. I learned the lesson that even the convenient/supplemental products I used needed to be quality products that enhanced my nutrition, not just a bunch of calories or random ingredients. This first brush with crappy products was also fortunate given the current environment of contaminated products causing doping infractions.

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Something to be taken from ancestors

As my adventures in endurance got longer and more frequent I ate more, avoiding mega-boom powder, but following the high carb diets recommended by all the literature I was reading in my university study of kinesiology. Lots of pasta, corn flakes and bagels fueled my training for years and brought moderate results. As University, work and training increased I noticed my stomach didn’t agree very well with this diet and it rebelled frequently. Often these rebellions came in the porta-potty in the hour before races, a time I would have preferred to use for warmup and other more confidence-building practices. As I moved towards a more ancestral (or paleo) diet framework using quality meats, veggies, fruits and targeted/timed starchy carbs (e.g. rice), I got leaner, my gut stopped being a limiter and my results improving dramatically.

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Not everything is paleo

With this whole foods approach going well, I also had to come to terms with the fact that riding maximally for 60-240 minutes was not very ‘paleo.’ Kale smoothies just weren’t going to work at Leadville and make-your-own date ‘gels’ are still sugar and way more mess than a Hammer Gel. I needed easy to eat, easy to digest and compact calories to fuel these adventures. These less nutrient dense foods, like gels and powders, are needed to fuel big adventures and if timed well, they are performance-enhancing. Following the research and my own tinkering with things like post-workout whey protein and the ‘classic’ 200-300kcal an hour during strenuous/extended workouts and races left my gut happy and my performances improving.

 

Not every ride needs to be fueled

While I have found a happy place between real food and well-made products (from Hammer!), there are many days I get on my bike or go for a run and keep it simple with no water or only water. Other days, I might use just Endurance Amino and Endurolytes and, after many years of training and disciplined easy endurance, I can go many hours with minimal fuel provided the intensity does not get too high. These are planned workouts but important in maximizing my ability as an endurance athlete.

peter vertical on hardwood rock by ivan rupes

 

Variety and Balance

After many years, many miles, many kilojoules I have found that most things in moderation are fine. Nothing matters as much as we might think but striving to hit a goal and exceed our previous best self does take commitment and consistency daily. Change up your routine, your nutrition and you will find great success in all your adventures.

I am happy to be working with Hammer to promote and support adventures. I look forward to sharing and learning more in the coming months and hope you will reach out to your local Hammer Ambassador or check out events near you.

@peterglassford

Woodnewton O-Cup race action

Meet Lesley Maisey, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada January 14, 2015 No Comments
IM Canada – Whistler, BC ( July 2014)

IM Canada – Whistler, BC ( July 2014)

I always had a bicycle growing up. I remember my first tricycle, and my first two-wheeler which at the age of 5 had the training wheels removed. I sailed off in the direction of my dad’s last balancing push several blocks down our street because I was afraid to turn around and fall. I graduated to my sparkly blue bike with the angel bars and banana seat and then at the age of 10 had my first 10-speed. I went everywhere on that bike – friends, school, the park and if it wasn’t being ridden it was a ready item left sprawled on the front lawn for the next adventure. I rode everywhere, often with no hands, proud of the how my bike responded to the gentle corrections from my body to stay straight or take the corner.

We moved to a rural area when I was eleven and my romance with my bike died. No longer did I have flat residential streets with schools, parks and friends. I now had long lonely roads and some pretty daunting hills. My beloved 10-speed and I ventured out a few times and I learned to tackle those hills but it wasn’t the wind-blown, no-hands dance it used to be. My trusty bike became a dusty one over time.

Fast forward through my non-riding years where I learned to drive, graduated high school, moved to the island and back, went to Nursing school and started shift work. This is when I discovered running – a simple sport that doesn’t care when or how far you go. I could lace up my shoes and venture out for whatever felt right at that time on that day. I just ran, I had no goals. Friends introduced me to my first half marathon and I recall finishing that and thinking that while it was fun, I could have kept running. I completed my first marathon in Seattle in November 1999 and haven’t stopped. My biking life returned around this time as well with a double purchase – mountain bike and road bike. Working shifts allowed for long runs, long rides and lots of fun in the trails. The regularly active part of my life was born and has only been amplified since.

Chicago, January 2012

Chicago, January 2012

I met my now husband in February 2000 and he introduced me to swimming. I had grown up spending summers at my grandparents’ home at Mara Lake so thought I was a swimmer. Truly, I would splash around, dive or cartwheel off the dock into the lake to cool down more than swim. My first attempt at swimming lengths in a pool was pathetic. I couldn’t breathe in free-style so would do a lot of breast stroke with the occasional front crawl attempt thrown in. We spent a lot of time at pools as my step-children were toddlers then so my comfort in the water grew.

When the children were old enough for swim lessons, we got in the pool too and swam rather than sitting on the benches waiting for them to finish. Now I could swim 25m free-style, 25m breast stroke and repeat. I was doing a lot of running events and had dabbled in some short distance triathlon and duathlon a few years back. Now that I was swimming, biking and running semi-regularly I thought I’d try it again. I bought a second hand wet suit and did what I thought I needed to do to prepare. Reflecting on that, it was not training at all, just a continuation of an active lifestyle. I finished but it wasn’t pretty. I panicked in the water and breast stroked the first 400m of the 1.9k swim. I flew around alright on my bike but the run was tough. Despite the struggle, I was hooked.

I completed a few more half-iron distance races before entering Ironman Canada in Penticton in 2010. My equipment had become a bit more modern and I found an on-line 37 week coaching plan. I laminated all 37 weeks and followed that schedule religiously. I was ready, or so I thought. I survived the swim, had a nice long cruise on my bike and had a fairly decent run. But, I was hungry most of the time. I had gels and some real food like fig newtons and pb and j sandwiches but I was under-fueled. I raced again in 2011 and had a similar experience except my belly was not as happy a system as it was in 2010 so I ended up in the medical tent at the end of the race. I had the will and was gaining skill but was missing knowledge.

I picked up a single dose of Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem from the Oliver Half-iron expo in 2011 but hadn’t understood how it could help me. After my experience in Penticton, I set about sorting out how to fuel. I had friends who ate the entire bike course but I had a hard time with solid food. I’d forget to eat, I’d drop the banana, or couldn’t get the pretzels or chips open and into my mouth so had the Hansel and Gretel trail behind me thus I remained under-fueled. I think I did IM that year on about 500 calories. Not great for performance and certainly not setting me up for easy recovery.

IM Canada, Penticton, BC (August 2010)

IM Canada, Penticton, BC (August 2010)

I started using Perpetuem in 2012 when I raced in Coeur D’Alene but I still didn’t use it to its full potential. I was better fueled but still not enough for the expenditure of time and energy so bonked on the run, although I did manage to avoid the medical tent! I continued to research products and discovered the multi-hour bottle concept with Hammer Perpetuem. I can build a 4-hour bottle and have more in my special needs on the bike so I am constantly fuelling without having to worry about dropping critical calories or having to get something open while flying down a hill at 60km/hr. My training and races in 2013 and 2014 have been much better thanks to this product; I had the privilege to race at the 70.3 World Championship level in 2013. Racing and travelling go together well for me, although admittedly it is a bit tougher travelling with a bike.

IM Kalmar, Sweden (August 2013)

IM Kalmar, Sweden (August 2013)

Perpetuem is now a staple in my home, orange cream being my flavour of choice. This product has enhanced my triathlon experience and brought back my romance with my bike. My season plan for 2015 has just been finalized for races in Victoria, Whistler and Lake Tahoe. I am delighted to be chosen as an Athlete Ambassador for Hammer Nutrition Canada in 2015 and am looking forward to sharing my experience through fuelling talks in my community.

 

All for One and One for All

hammercanada January 13, 2015 No Comments

ręceMany new goals, resolutions and ideas are top of mind for us all when a new year rolls around, especially for the athletes of the universe. We are planning out race schedules and training plans and establishing specific performance targets.

From time to time, however, we all need a little support in reaching even the best laid plans. A little accountability and encouragement can go a long way, no matter the experience, skill-level or ability of the recipient.

At Hammer Nutrition Canada, our team has put a new process in place to do just that. In our weekly team conference calls, we will now ask each other:

What are your athletic goals for the week?
What did you achieve last week that you are proud of?

It’s our accountability circle. And, while we are often accountable to personal and professional objectives in very different realms, we think we are pretty lucky to work with a team that honours both equally.

How do you stay accountable to your personal goals?

-Sarah

Meet Hailey Van Dyk, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada January 13, 2015 No Comments
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Dance party on ochre mountain, Athelney pass

 

I can picture myself so vividly, standing there with my arms crossed, wearing a baggy old Tshirt and frog pyjamas pants. The dreadful 2400m lay ahead of me in grade 11 gym class. Running was my absolute least favourite thing, actually essentially all of gym class was my least favourite thing. I finished the 2400m in 18:36.

I don’t exactly remember what changed in me but something did. It was most likely a combination of many things: I didn’t want to feel tired all the time anymore, a few of my friends were starting to run, I got a job at coast mountain sports where all my co-workers did something active, my brother broke his neck and could no longer walk and I felt I needed to start living more vibrantly.

I started slow with a goal of running a 4km trail loop by my house non-stop. When I first started I couldn’t even run for a minute without being drenched in sweat and out of breath. But I stuck with it, inspired by the little tastes of freedom I was sampling, lost in the woods, by myself. It was my time to spend it how I pleased, and suddenly I found my favourite thing was suffering for half an hour. When I accomplished my first lap non-stop, I went for 2 laps. Shortly I was running nearly every day and was starting to dream of bigger goals. I started hiking with friends from work. I’ll never forget the first time I trudged up the Squamish chief. The never ending up tried to steal my strength and breath but I pushed on. I’ll never forget that first summit. I was hooked and I wasn’t looking back.

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Athelney pass. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been

 

In September 2011 I ran my first half marathon. I was grossly under trained as I never ran with a gps or watch of any kind, had no concept of distance and never knew how far I was actually running. As I crossed the finish line I told myself I was NEVER running again.

In January of 2012 I nearly broke my foot and ankle downhill skiing. I was unable to weight bare for 6 weeks and I got major cabin fever. It was then that I realized that I was truly hooked. I signed up for my first trail marathon, set for my 23rd birthday in Whitehorse, Yukon! I finished the race in my goal time. It was a tough marathon with plenty of up. When I crossed the finish line a friend said to me, if you can run that marathon, you can run anything.

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Panorama ridge, garabaldi park

 

I started running with my friend Courtney more and soon the idea for run like a girl was born. We started it as a way to share our journey with others, and reach out to other like-minded people. We soon met Dayna and she introduced us to trail running on the north shore and at Buntzen Lake. Trail running became my escape, a way to get away from my busy schedule, a way to immerse myself in nature. Due to being a shift worker, I found myself having to run a lot alone, with my pup Charlie. I also started hiking more, finding myself on amazing summits, in pristine places, immersed in nature. I found mountain biking as well. A sport they crippled me with fear but challenged me and thrilled me. The more time I could spend outside, the better I felt, the happier I became.

I signed up for my first 50km in the summer of 2013 in Squamish. Training for this race pushed my limits tremendously. Back to back long runs, 4-5 training runs a week, out in the elements. I was doing something I never thought I would. I was out there running, training, pushing myself to my brink and loving it.

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My first expedition race, South Africa

 

The three of us decided to sign up for the Coastal Challenge, a 6 day stage race in Costa Rica in February of 2014. The thought of running 6 days in a row, essentially a marathon a day, in the heat of Costa Rica seemed impossible. But I trained all winter, and hard. When I arrived at the start line of day 1 I had no idea what to expect. Those 6 days changed my life forever. When I crossed the finish line on day 6 I couldn’t believe what I had just achieved. I proved to myself that anything was possible and that even you think you have nothing left, you can push through. You are stronger than the task ahead of you. I met my now fiancé at this race and he opened my eyes to expedition racing.

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Run like a girl, finish line at the coastal challenge

 

I signed up for expedition Africa, a 500km adventure race through rural South Africa on a team with 3 strangers. Hammer Canada sponsored me for the race and it was a perfect opportunity to try out the various race foods and didn’t upset my stomach. Expedition racing pushes you farther than any other sport I know. You have to just keep moving, through the day and night. And you have a team with you so any decision you make, affects 3 other people. I love how there is different sports all in one race and how your soul focus for a week is the most basic instincts, eating, drinking, resting when you can and moving forward.

For 2015 I plan on racing expedition Brazil as well as my first 50 miler. I am incredibly humbled to be chosen as a hammer Canada athlete and I can’t wait to represent nutrition I stand behind. I can’t wait to continue to push my limits this and tackle new challenges, because if you can dream it, I believe you can do it.

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Charlie and I. Photo credit: Brice Ferre photography

 

Meet Leigh McClurg, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada January 12, 2015 No Comments
Learning to climb mountains in BC

Learning to climb mountains in BC

In the Spring of 2010, wheezing from the exertion of carrying my two suitcases, the entirety of my possessions in the world, up a couple of flights of stairs, I walked in to my new home in Squamish, BC for the first time and stared out at the hills and snow capped mountains rising up around me.

My portly frame weighed close to 300lbs soaking wet at that time. I had not come to this place with an interest in Mountains, but the sight of them filled a blank inside of me that I had been unconscious about before. I was stung with the desire to get to those shining summits.

Originally from Ireland, I did not grow up in a culture of fitness or athleticism. I was never very coordinated so any team sports I tried I usually failed at and quickly quit. The circle of friends I had would play a game of soccer on a Sunday and then follow it with a trip to the Pub to consume back any calories expended followed by a late night trip to the local Fish and Chip shop for good measure. No physical exercise would occur again until the next Sunday and if it was raining too hard, which it frequently does in Ireland, we’d skip soccer and head straight to the Pub.

Leaving Ireland in 2010

Leaving Ireland in 2010

After University I got a cushy desk job and became extremely sedentary. On weekends I’d watch marathons of TV shows, Movies and play video games. Eventually, through a poor diet and a complete lack of exercise, I looked down at the weighing scale and realized I’d passed the maximum weight of 280lbs on it. I stopped weighing myself after that, ashamed at the thought of having to buy a scale with larger numbers, but I know I got a good bit heavier before coming to Canada.

The decision to move to the west coast of Canada was purely made to live somewhere different. My wife Spring, now a fellow Hammer Ambassador, is originally from Alberta and we’d always talked about starting a new life in her home country while living in Ireland.

I’d been to Canada before while dating Spring and I’d marvelled at the mountains then but they were always merely scenery for my holiday snapshots. In 2010, when I looked out on them, the impression was different. I can’t explain what changed, maybe it was the right time of my life, maybe I’d been idle for too long, but, like a Siren on the rocks, the winds shaving spindrift off those high ridges and summits beckoned me to reach them. No longer did I look upon those peaks as scenery but an arena to test myself.

Trail running near Squamish, BC

Trail running near Squamish, BC

I started pushing my cumbersome frame along trails, first to lakes, then to high viewpoints and finally I touched my first summit cairn. While resting in the evenings I’d research online about equipment and techniques for mountain travel. I’d never backpacked before so I needed to learn about tents, and sleeping bags. I’d never climbed before so I read about climbing knots and harnesses. Words that I previously had never said aloud like crampon, gaiter, couloir, crux become a daily part of my lexicon. My thirst to understand how other people where getting to summits I could see and had not yet reached was insatiable.

As I pushed myself higher, and further, not slowing down in the Winter months, I finally realized what my talent was. Whereas I wasn’t coordinated or capable at many competitive sports, I could suffer longer than others around me. I could keep putting one foot in front of the other when others would turn back. I could endure the cold, I could endure the sleepless nights inside a tent being beaten by the wind on a ridge crest. I was fine with looking like a fool as I fell over repeatedly trying to learn to ski. I could smile while being swarmed by thousands of mosquitos as I pushed through the dense coastal rainforest of BC, and I could get up and do it all again the next day. I didn’t need a couple of weeks, or months, rest to forget the tortures that led to reaching that summit. I could always see the next summit rising up behind the one I was currently reaching.

Standing near the summit of Mount Rainier

Standing near the summit of Mount Rainier

By the end of 2011 I’d lost over 120lbs. Weight though proved to be the least of the damages a life spent mostly motionless does to a body. I’ve been slowly working on undoing the effects many years of sedentary life at desks and on couches has done to my strength, flexibility and posture while also training to climb harder and move faster in the mountains to achieve more goals.

The ultimate goal for the future is to be a competent Alpinist and to be capable at moving in the mountains over a variety of terrain through all 4 seasons.

In 2015, I plan to run more competitively in a number of races to give my training some focus. I also hope to climb at grades I have previously never been capable of.

Learning to ice climb in the Rockies

Learning to ice climb in the Rockies

My interest in the equipment and nutrition needed to move quickly and endure physical stress for longer is what initially led me to Hammer Nutrition. I began to see individuals moving fast and light in the mountains and using Hammer bars and gels to fuel. It made sense. For the same reason a runner or cyclist is looking to shave weight so too is an Alpinist.

It is said that Mountain Climbing is one of only a few sports in which the Arena acquires a notoriety that will outshine and outlive the Athletes. In this fashion, unlike sports that require individuals to compete against one another, in Alpinism the individual competes against the Mountain. The weather around it, the difficulty of the climbing, the condition of the route. Going lighter allows an Alpinist to move faster, cover more ground and reduce the risk of getting caught out on the mountain after dark or when bad weather rolls in.

For the same reason I use lightweight technical equipment, I now also fuel using Hammer Nutrition products. It provides maximum benefits for endurance and recovery with minimal weight.

I am extremely humbled and honoured to be chosen as a Hammer Athlete Ambassador, along with my wife Spring, in 2015. I’m excited to show what can be achieved and experienced with a passion for Mountains fuelled by Hammer Nutrition.

Reaching a high summit north of Whistler, BC

Reaching a high summit north of Whistler, BC

Meet Spring McClurg, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada January 11, 2015 No Comments
Training run to Garibaldi Lake early summer

Training run to Garibaldi Lake early summer

Looking at me now most people wouldn’t guess that I didn’t grow up athletic. Even as a teenager, being homeschooled from Grade 6-12 meant that I didn’t engage in the extracurricular activities that most kids do or even partake in any kind of organized sports. Being as active as I am now only came to me later in life.

I lived abroad for 6 years in Ireland and lived quite a sedentary life. Running definitely wasn’t something that crossed my mind and the thought of climbing a mountain, well that didn’t even come into the realm of possibility. That is until my husband Leigh and I moved to Squamish, BC in 2010 and our world changed forever.

I went from being unfit and not even being able to run a full minute without stopping, to becoming inspired by the landscape around me; I wanted to be part of what I was looking at. The mountains beckoned and I followed their call up the steep trails to their summits. Hiking was becoming a daily activity and with the increased fitness that came from spending so much time outside I soon became determined to run my first marathon. In 2011 I gobbled up as much information as I could about running, came up with a training plan and logged all my training runs solo. I would go on to run the BMO Vancouver marathon that May. The running bug had bitten me and I was hooked. By the Spring of 2012 I was running the BMO marathon again.

Coming up to the summit of Mount Matier

Coming up to the summit of Mount Matier

After so much time training and running alone on the roads, dealing with mental limitations and self doubt, I soon learned that the only limits holding me back were the ones I set for myself. With the desire to push harder, farther and stop limiting myself, I discovered trail running and felt my life shift. After spending so many hours hiking on mountain trails and spending time in high places, it was a natural progression to be able to move quickly through this type of terrain. Trail running offered me a challenge and beauty that I couldn’t find running on the road. This was what I was meant to do and where I was meant to spend my time.

Skiing in the Cayoosh area of BC

Skiing in the Cayoosh area of BC

With this new found passion I quickly signed up and ran my first 50km trail race in 2013; after all once you run a marathon (42.2km) what’s another 8 km right? That 50 km race was one of the hardest races, mentally and physically to train for. There was a lot of uncertainty about whether I could succeed and I was even toying with the idea of dropping from the race weeks before the big day. But with the support of my other half and the determination not to give up, I pushed through and completed something that only a few years earlier I would not have even thought possible.

Incidentally it was at this point that I discovered Hammer Nutrition and it became my mainstay for training. Anyone who trains for long distance running can tell you that nutrition is key to success and it is a long process of trial and error. Once I found Hammer products it felt like the trial and error period was over. I found something that worked for me, that I could trust and I never went for another long run without a hammer bar or gel in my pack.

Climbing Starcheck in Checkamus Canyon

Climbing Starcheck in Checkamus Canyon

But wait, once you have run 50 km where do you go from there? Well for me it meant running my first 80km trail race in 2014. This was my big goal of the year, along with increasing my skills as a rock climber. With that in mind I tried to train as hard as I could. Most days saw me running anywhere from 20-50km and then climbing for a few hours the same day. It was important for me to be able to push my body to its limit and see what it was truly capable of.

Crossing the finish at my first 50 mile trail race

Crossing the finish at my first 50 mile trail race

I completed my first 80 km trail race within my goal time and went on to be able to lead climb several rock routes that I had on my tick list over the summer. Putting in the effort to train and fuel my body correctly showed me that anything is possible if you continue to remove the limits that we so often set for ourselves.

So what is in store for 2015? Well I am so privileged and honoured to be chosen as a Hammer Athlete Ambassador for the year, along with my husband Leigh and a list of other very accomplished and inspiring athletes. My goal is to competitively run at least two 50km trail races this year along with several smaller distance races, hoping to make my way to the podium more often. Asides from racing, my training will take me into the mountains, climbing harder and more technical lines, learning to move fast in that terrain and overall making sure to have as many Hammer fuelled adventures as possible in 2015!

Sitting in the meadows of Athelney Pass

Sitting in the meadows of Athelney Pass

Meet Jeffrey, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada December 31, 2014 No Comments

JHCJeffrey is one of our new athlete ambassadors for 2015. Check out his first blog post below!

I never did think much of it, all I knew is that what the bike gave me meant more to my soul than what my teachers gave me in the classroom. I did manage to eventually graduate university with an MBA. Never would I have thought…

It was 9.6 kilometers across town from my house to my high school. When I was 13 that short distance gave me the freedom to have two adventures each day – one in the morning and one on the way home.

I would be up and out the door before all of my other siblings. I would be the first to arrive at school every morning. For as long as I can remember I have had an intensity about life that was as different as the way my brain is wired.

For reasons I will never know I gave up on the bike and on my need for adventure. I piled on weight once I graduated high school. A lot of weight. I did that intently, too.

When I was tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds I bought a bike. I figured I would ride myself slim and fit.  That plan was stupid.

When I was a 13 year old kid 9.6 kilometers on a bicycle was a breeze even with a backpack full of books. As an adult I could barely make it 5 kilometers. I gave up. I came to terms with the fact that my obesity meant I had to start from scratch.

I fought the obesity battle and won. I got a second chance. It did not come without consequences and collateral damage but I managed to recalibrate my life and put myself in a position to again give my soul what it has always wanted. Bikes. Adventure.

I was a frail 151 pounds when I walked into the local bike shop after I had lost an extreme amount of weight. I bought a bike. I joined a bike club. I rode a lot. I bought another bike. I rode more. Then I bought another bike and rode even more. It did not take long before I was getting fitter, faster, and stronger. I felt as good as I did when I was 13 riding my bike all afternoon after ditching class hours early. Invincible. Free.

As a late bloomer in the sport I only tried racing because all the cool roadies were doing it. I quickly realized racing was not for me.

I became intrigued by the prospect of organizing events.  Not only would this allow me to shape an event that appealed to me, on roads I loved to explore, it was a way for me to give back to the sport.

Prospera Valley GranFondo

A longstanding passion for bikes and a personal story that compelled me to share my second chance at fitness and health with as many people as possible was the real cornerstone of the Prospera Valley GranFondo. I am the founder of this event.  Today the Prospera Valley GranFondo is something much larger than me but it is a legacy piece I am very proud of.

In 2014 I had the chance to ride the event I founded. Finally. I told the management team to let me do my thing, to not give me any responsibility whatsoever. I didn’t want to go on stage, make a speech, or be identified in any way. Out of 1500 participants I wanted to come in last. And I did. I spent the day at the back among those riders pushing through what was likely the most physically demanding thing they had ever undertaken. It took a long and grueling 9 hours to ride 160km but it was probably the most rewarding bike ride of my life.

Women’s Tour of Vancouver

With the success of the Prospera Valley GranFondo on my resume I decided to do something on a much larger stage. On the world stage. The objective for the Women’s Tour of Vancouver is a game-changing UCI 2.1 stage race.

As the founder of the company organizing this event I made the vision very simple: we are being intentional about women. This will be the women’s greatest race.  This event will offer the largest purse in the history of women’s cycling. The best female athletes and the best female teams from around the world will spend six days racing on roads that the cycling community in Vancouver holds near and dear to its heart.

Today…

Life today is very different from what it was a few short years ago.  Although there have been some low lows on the path toward redemption I am grateful for all of it.  I am grateful that I am open and candid enough to share my story and give hope to people who have a heck of a lot of weight to lose. I am grateful that a sport – the cycling community – has accepted me, supported me, and allowed me to really contribute to the landscape of cycling in Canada.

I don’t take any of this for granted. I owe it all to the bicycle and to those people that ride them.

It is an honor to have been chosen as an Athlete Ambassador of Hammer Nutrition Canada.

I am thrilled to be among such fine company. I would have never thought that a fat guy in a fit man’s body who just likes to ride bikes would be put in a position to represent a brand as well known as Hammer Nutrition.

My journey through 2015 will be cataloged within this blog and you better beleive that Hammer Nutrition will be a part of my story. Heck, they have called me an ‘athlete’. Nobody has ever called me that before!

~Jeffrey Hanson-Carlsen

Meet our 2015 Athlete Ambassadors!

hammercanada December 31, 2014 No Comments

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 2.48.10 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 2.48.14 PM

I’m happy to report that we’ve got a great new crew of 10 athlete ambassadors on board for 2015. They are:

Hailey Van Dyk – Adventure Racer and Running Advocate from Fort Langley, BC

Peter Glassford – Elite Mountain Biker and coach from Collingwood, ON

Sam Effah – Olympic hopeful Sprinter from Toronto, ON

Gary Robbins – Top Endurance Runner from North Vancouver, BC

Ron Amos – Masters Road Cycling Champion from Ottawa, ON

Leigh McClurg – Outdoor Blogger from Squamish, BC

Spring McGlurg – The better half of the Outdoor Blogging couple from Squamish, BC

Lesley Maisey – Endurance Triathlete from North Vancouver, BC

Katie Ozolins – Olympic Distance Triathlete from Toronto, ON

Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson – Cycling Advocate from Langley, BC

We’ll be highlighting their respective #HammerCAN journeys through blog posts, videos, arranging talks at our retailers, and supporting a wide range of unique initiatives that they have on the go – such as starting up a cycling team in the Vancouver area, sponsoring the Trek Canada Mountain Bike Team, sponsoring the Coast Mountain Trail Series, promoting a running camp in Costa Rica, and plenty more.

Head on over to www.hammernutrition.ca/athlete-ambassadors to view their full bios. Also, keep an eye out for our first blog post from Jeffrey this afternoon.

Let’s make 2015 great!

~Ryan

Send us your stories!

hammercanada December 22, 2014 No Comments

If you are reading this blog post, you have probably noticed that we are in the process of updating our website. There are some exciting changes on the way!

Part of that involves you. Yes, you! We are looking for stories from within the Hammer community to share in our new athlete “spotlight”. Do you have a favourite Hammer product – one that you can’t train, race or live without? Do you have a great story about a time a Hammer product saved you from bonking? Or, perhaps you are new to your sport and Hammer has helped you reach a particular milestone. Maybe you just have a unique way of incorporating Hammer into your life.

Whatever it is, we want to hear about it.

Please send a brief write up, along with your name, city/town, sport/activity, favourite Hammer product and a photo of yourself to sarah@hammernutrition.ca.  The athlete spotlight will take the form of a short blog post on our website, and may also be included in social media and our monthly e-mails.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Holidays!      

hammercanada December 17, 2014 No Comments
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Sarah, Katie (athlete ambassador), Darren, and Ryan in Hawaii this past November

We have a hard time sitting still, that’s for sure.

Continuing the Hammer Global tradition of building a community around tremendous fueling and recovery products, 2014 was a year of massive firsts for our Canadian team. To name a few:

  • We gained wholesale exclusivity for all of Canada
  • Our inaugural Big Rig (a 43-foot Hammer coach) fueling tour across Canada
  • Our inaugural athlete ambassador program
  • A new National Sales Manger position, now manned by Sajeev
  • My fiancée (Sarah) joining on the Community Engagement front
  • Our inaugural ‘Hammer Powered’ Aloha Cycling Retreat in Hawaii
  • Nasol (all natural sinus relief spray) being picked up by Hammer U.S.
  • Sponsoring new big events, including the inaugural Challenge St. Andrews
  • And a new warehouse in Toronto

 

We also built upon an already impressive foundation, including:

 

Heading into 2015, keep an eye out for:

  • Our new #HammerCAN hashtag on Instagram and Twitter
  • Great new web content and online support
  • A tremendous new crop of athlete and retail (NEW) ambassadors
  • Monthly product spotlights (and value adds through www.shophammernutrition.ca)
  • Our inaugural ‘Hammer Powered’ Carefree Cycling Retreat in Arizona this March
  • Bilingual labeling (here we come Quebec!)
  • New Gel flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate and Nocciola
  • Hammer Canada branded coffee
  • Unique Hammer Canada clothing items
  • Posts from my Tour Divide race in June
  • Our second annual Big Rig tour / promotion of my book (coming this Spring)
  • Our third sold out ‘Hammer Powered’ Great Divide Mountain Bike Tour

 

Please check back often as I update our new website over the holiday season 🙂

~ Ryan Correy

Running the La Cloche Silhouette Trail

hammercanada November 22, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Brad Jennings of Explore the Backcountry

For years, I’ve set my sights on tackling one of the most difficult trails in Ontario; The La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial park. Clocking in at 80km, with 8000ft gain/loss of elevation, this challenging trail typically takes hikers 5-7 days to complete. However, I’ve always dreamt of running it – in 12hrs or less.

I’ve tried to get the ball rolling on a group run for years, but the pieces finally fell into place the Halloween weekend of October of 2016. Unfortunately, mid fall is one of the worst times to run the trail, as the combination of lack of daylight, freshly fallen leaves, persistent rains and high winds create less than ideal running conditions. The exposed quartzite ridges Killarney is so famous for are reminiscent of an ice rink under these conditions. With this in mind we assembled a group of four, eager to attempt a 12-16hrs run.

On a rainy Saturday morning, we set out under the cover of darkness, holding a moderate pace as we pushed towards our first real test, the Pig Portage. Missing the turnoff at Threenarrows, we ended up bushwhacking along the shore for a quick 500m before rejoining the trail.

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By the time we neared the top of Threenarrows lake at approximately 22km, it was evident we were well off our initial target pace. One member was slowing significantly due to a developing leg injury. After much deliberation, the decision was made for the three to return while I continued on solo. The call was incredibly hard to make as I wanted to complete the run as a team but, a thru run had been a goal of mine for years and I didn’t want it to slip away when we were already a quarter of the way through. Ultimately, my injured buddy gave me his headlamp and just told me to “Go for it, I’ve made the decision for you and I won’t hold you back”.

An hour later I was making my way through the La Cloche Mountains. Steep vertical climbs and descents required careful attention to the trail. In many cases I was gingerly sliding down scree or climbing up waterfalls. Over the remainder of the trail, I would slip and fall countless times and resorted to cautiously making my way along the ridges, far from the target pace, but the only way to avoid an injury deep in the backcountry.

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I encountered few hikers, two soloists and two guys who had hiked Silver Peak as a day trip from David Lake. For the most part I was met with bewilderment and awe. The brief conversations were uplifting as my only company was the bleak ridges and the occasional raven.

I reached the hardest section, the ‘Killarney Ridges’ as the sun was setting. My pace decreased as I struggled to find rock cairns marking the path and ascended the many slippery ridges. I began to bonk on a particularly grueling climb, and found myself yelling at the nearby trees in vain. A quick mental break and a bottle of Hammer Perpetuum had me back on track and pushing towards the Crack. Once I descended the Crack, I could finally open my stride and push a good pace for the final 6km. By the time I had reached the George Lake campground, my final run time clocked in at 16:35hrs. Well off the goal, but respectable given the deplorable trail conditions.

A quick celebratory beer and burger was all I needed before retiring to the tent. In the morning, we all debriefed over a well-deserved basket of Herbert’s fish and chips. The general consensus was to return the following spring/summer, hopefully under ideal conditions, and complete the trail as a team.