Celebrate the Commonwealth Games

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30% off selected sports books from Bloomsbury

Browse our books and discover a wealth of sporting information on the games and the athletes who take part. From sports journalist Brian Oliver’s new book The Commonwealth Games, which brings the games to life with stories of the athletes who have competed over the years; to Podium a fantastic book that reveals the attributes and influences that are needed to become a champion and bring home gold. We have every book for the sporting fan.
Offer valid until 3rd August 2014.

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Q&A with Gavin Morey author of the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programmes

Gavin Morey is the author of two new fitness books – the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Women and the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men. He is a highly experienced fitness consultant and muscle therapist to celebrities and major health and well-being companies.

We put a couple of questions to him…

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I have to admit it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties when I had the notion of becoming an author. It was floating around my head for a number of years until I plucked up the courage and decided to put pen to paper and draft out the concept of the books.
My original idea was to write a book that was twelve weeks long because this is the perfect amount of time to see your body change, adapt and develop into what you want. But I didn’t want to just write the book as that has already been done, especially by professionals who may have forgotten what it is like as a novice. That was when I thought I would practise what I preach and put on the weight to show my clients and others exactly what it takes to transform your body.

2. What made you decide to create the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme?

I chose to write the twelve week fitness and nutrition programme for two reasons. Firstly from the comments my clients would pass to me regards ‘it’s easy for you to look that way’ or ‘it’s hard for me as I have to train and eat around work and I just don’t have time’. After listening to that for a while I decided I would show them exactly what it takes to change your body. I wanted them and others to see it wasn’t easy, time isn’t a limiting factor for weight loss and it isn’t all down to genes.

Secondly I found it really hard looking through health and fitness books / magazines showing amazing results “IN JUST TWO WEEKS” with the most extreme before and after photos. These books / magazines promise you the earth which the training is mainly plyometric style training (not a great long term plan for your body due to a higher risk of injury) and by following a bodybuilding diet (again not realistic plan as even bodybuilder don’t maintain this type of diet for long).

Due to those two reasons I really wanted to clearly show the progress like no other, hiding behind no gimmicks, trick photography / airbrushing or fake results. I chose to document all of my training sessions to the point of the weight I lifted to the recipes and meals I ate everyday. I choose to take WEEKLY photos and health tests along with monthly postural analysis and fitness test so the reader can see the weekly progress I went through and what they should expect for themselves.

I put on lots of weight (a little over two stone of fat), stopped all kinds of training for 5 to 6 months and got extremely spotty and body conscious. To my detriment my glucose levels at one stage were very close to having onset type two diabetes! I was now ready to start the twelve week programme for men and start the book.

However for Alison, she never wanted me to write a book with her in it but liked the idea of a ladies version. I managed to talk Ali into doing the twelve week plan on the condition it would not be book unless she was really happy with the end results! We documented all tests, photos and diary inserts in the off chance at by the end of the twelve weeks Ali would be happy (I knew Ali would be!). Luckily for every lady out there (and myself) Alison was so happy and the ladies book was born.

3. What would you say are the four main benefits of the programme?

The four main benefits are the basis of the books!
1 – Real Results:
Alison and I have actually done the programmes ourselves first to show the great results that are achievable. We wanted the reader to be engrossed into our lives and encouraged by what we have done and what they can do. We included all aspects of the way we lived (personal diaries/stress & energy levels/sleeping patterns), trained (times we worked out, length of sessions, weights/reps/sets we actually done) and ate (the snacks we used, meals & recipes we followed, shopping lists we stuck by), along with all of our health results and measurements and weekly photos. By seeing how and what we have accomplished sets a precedence for the reader to be encouraged, motivated and empowered to get up and have a go for themselves.

2 – Weight loss but more importantly health benefits:
We wanted the weight loss to be controlled, sustainable and achievable. Exercise is important but the diet in my eyes plays an even more important roll (up to 70% of the way we look and feel). It was the nutrition and recipes that took us the most amount of the time to get right. The recipes we chose had to contain a large variety of ingredients, be very healthy and above all tremendously tasty. We set about creating the recipes to help the body from the inside out, by lowering / balancing glucose and cholesterol levels but with the upside of weight lose.

3 – Transforming your body within twelve weeks but changing your lifestyle forever:
Your body can make a dramatic transformation in such short period of time but it takes the full twelve weeks to make an impact on our habits and routines. The nutrition is the hardest part to change, as you have more than likely fallen into your own routine and lifestyle. To break this you will need hard work, be dedicated and to see results to push you through to the goal you set yourself. When you get to the end and you have achieved what you wanted, you will forever have set yourself new routine and lifestyle. It has been 4 years since we finished the twelve week programme and yes we are both still as fit and healthy as ever, even after Alison has had our little baby boy Morgen. We unconsciously make the right choices of the foods we eat, and we still try to stick to three fish meals, two white meat, one red meat and a vegetarian meal a week for our dinners.

4 – Easy to follow fitness sessions and recipes
The ease and functionality of the book is by far a head and shoulders above the rest. All of the training and recipes have been broken down into step by step guides that will take you through each individual fitness session and recipe day by day, week by week for the full twelve weeks. The nutrition programme has been developed for a family of four and allows you to see the weeks overview first, before it leads you onto the weekly detailed shopping list that you can take out to the supermarket to help you save time, energy and stress.

The programme includes all breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for the entire twelve weeks which has over 100 recipes. The recipes themselves are very easy to follow with simple step by step directions on the ingredients needed, how to prepare and cook each meal, even to the point of reminding the reader how to prepare for the next days meal. The training has been designed for the men to gain muscle, tone up, get fit whilst losing weight whilst the women’s is about toning up, getting fit and losing weight with the added bonus of shredding some cellulite. You will be able to follow the personal sessions of the authors next to your own which has blank sections to jot down your own results. If you then wanted you can compare yours next to the authors to see how well you are getting on!

4. How did you come up with the recipes for the book?

The biggest inspiration for me, like most, is my mother. She encouraged my brothers and I from an early age to start cooking and above all enjoy all the tastes and texture food can bring. We were brought up on homely food but as the years went by and we were older and able to help in the kitchen my mums culinary skills changed some what and she started to follow various diets. My mum would take a very boring and mundane recipe and change it to a delicious meal exploding in taste. This was the foot stones to where I started and I have taken the recipes she has used throughout the years and made the recipes slightly.

5. Do you have any favourite exercises from the 80 in the book?

To be honest if you asked me I have a couple of favourite exercises in the gym. The first would be pull ups as they are so good at hitting all aspects of your back and can define your shape. The second is the Morey Squeeze (upper) as I find this is one of the best exercises to isolate and hit the upper pectoral like no other exercise out there. Finally I like squats as it they one of the hardest exercises but it’s a foundational exercise that can improve your posture, develop your muscle mass when lifting heavy and increase muscular endurance to help with cardio vascular exercises. Alison would say the exercises she liked the most were dumbbell shoulder press as it really helped tone her shoulder and triceps, reverse shrugs as this exercise helped realign her posture and bring back her shoulders and boxing as it was a great way to vent frustration, get fit and have fun doing it!!

6. Are the weekly shopping lists for the recipes affordable?

The weekly shopping lists back in 2012 we’re worked out at a costing of £45 per head for all the meals and snacks for the entire week, this did however include ingredients that would last longer than a week or two such as extra virgin olive oil and soy sauce. 

7. Can the workouts be carried out at home?

The training sessions I carried out we’re actually at home within my own gym in the garage, so yes all the training can be carried out at home. If you wanted to get the same results or better you would need to use roughly the same type of equipment as we used or better.

8. Is there any basic equipment that readers need to follow the programme?

It’s quite hard to say would you get the same results as Ali and I without the correct equipment and the answer would be you probably would have completely different results. The basic equipment was pretty basic for Ali and I to get the results we wanted. For example if you decided to do all body weights instead of using actual free weights then you would certainly get lean and toned but you would not gain the same amount of muscular size and mass. If you were unable to run like Alison and I, you would need to find an alternative that pushes you just as hard (again this would depend on your fitness levels as a fast walk will be hard for one person but easy for another). So yes it is important to get the right equipment for the best results but no it’s not the end of the world as any form of exercise you do with the correct diet will help you lose weight and above all get fitter and healthier.

Read a few sample pages from Gavin’s new books…

12 Week Fitness for Men 12 Week Fitness for Women

A Great Vintage: Merckx 69

We don’t like to boast, but, well, some of our  books are just so bloomin’ great that we can’t help but sing their praises. And for this beaut, we’ve borrowed some words from people who’ve beaten us to it…

‘MILLIONS upon millions of words have been written on Eddy Merckx over the decades and it will get to the point soon when there is nothing new to say, which is possibly why Bloomsbury came up with the interesting idea of revisiting a year in the life of cycling’s nonpareil with a series of documentary type photographs. As all my snapper friends constantly remind me a great image is always worth a thousand words. Damn them, but they are right.

Not any old year mind and not any old photos. 1969 was an incredible career defining 12-months for Merckx while the project collaborators Tonny Strouton and Jan Maes boldy opt for a montage of huge black and white snaps when presumably there are plenty of fine colour shots available if desired. A great black and white image is worth 10,000 words in my opinion because they instantly convey and historical importance and almost timelessness which makes it easier to relive that moment.

Merckx 69 will stretch the budget but I suspect will prove irresistible for any serious collector of cycling books. Just as the man himself had to win every race – or at least try – Merckx fans tend to be ‘completests’ and their ‘Merckx corner’ of the bookshelf will look bare without this mighty tome.’
Brendan Gallagher, The Tour

Merckx (69) and Merckx 69

Merckx (69) and Merckx 69 (© JAMES ARTHUR/PHOTONEWS)

‘featuring some utterly fabulous, grainy, black and white photographs from eddy’s 1969 season, tentatively holding your breath and opening the first few pages brings to mind nothing more or less than a pristine copy of rouleur magazine. you can argue the case for e-books all you like, there’s simply nothing to match the heady aroma of printer’s ink on heavy art paper. the photos are not only glorious, fascinating, engaging and addictive, but undoubtedly the very reason you’d part with your £35 in the first place.
this is an absolute doozy, one that will continue to offer those rouleur moments for ever and ever and ever.’
thewashingmachinepost.com

Want real results? Experience the difference with the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programmes

 Real Results – No Gimmicks – No Airbrushing

12 weeks Book 1.indbTwelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men

For Women                                                                                           For Men

Read a few sample pages from these fantastic books, based on a real-life challenge, these are the only fitness & nutrition books to show real results with no airbrushing and no gimmicks.

Covering fitness, health and nutrition, each book contains over 60 different workouts with 80 different exercises to choose from, explaining their purpose and technique. With the basics of training, warm-ups, cool-downs and stretching explained, the books also contain information on what fitness tests are used and the training routines followed, and a training diary for the reader to keep track of their programme and progress.

Order your copy today

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World Congress of Cycling Science

Cycling ScienceAre Tour de France champions born or made? Should cyclists strength train? How can pain become gain? What are the real benefits of contemporary sports nutrition? And – bottom line – can sports science help make race winners?

These are a few of the questions that a gathering of world leading sports scientists, coaches and medical practitioners aim to address at the UCI-endorsed 2nd World Congress of Cycling Science at the Rose Bowl in Leeds from Wednesday 2nd to Thursday 3rd of July, just days before the city hosts the Grand Depart of the Tour de France (Saturday 5th July).

The conference is organised by the University of Kent’s School of Sports and Exercise Science, which is headed by Professor Louis Passfield and Dr James Hopker, two of Great Britain’s leading names in the field. The conference has so far attracted representatives from the likes of UCI Pro Tour teams Garmin-Sharp, BMC, Francais des Jeux, Movistar and Omega Pharma Quickstep.

Integrating the various aspects of coaching, sports science, medicine, technology and performance, the Congress will provide a forum for the discussion of performance enhancement with a focus on the Tour itself. Speakers and participants include former riders turned coaches Charly Wegelius (Garmin-Sharp) and Marco Pinotti (BMC Pro Cycling Team), with other special guests to be announced.

As part of the Congress SRM are sponsoring a Keynote presentation where Uli Schoberer and a current Pro Tour rider (tbc), will discuss the use of power meters in professional cycling. SRM will also be exhibiting PowerMeters, PowerControls and cycle ergometers at the Congress.

Professor Passfield, previously a sports scientist with the Great Britain Cycling Team, said that the aim of the conference is “to further the use of science in cycling and to help share relevant information with coaches and sports scientists. The conference programme is designed to stimulate and inspire future collaboration and research-informed practice for the benefit of a new generation of cyclists”.

Further information about the Congress, speakers and how to book is available at www.wcss2014.co.uk. Alongside the Congress, there will also be a free evening event for up to 250 members of the public on the Thursday evening. Further information on the evening event and to book a place visit www.wcss2014.co.uk.

Dr James Hopker is the author of Performance Cycling.

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Sports Calender: June

How is it June already?! Fortunately, there’s plenty of sport to help keep you entertained while you get over the shock of it almost being midsummer’s day…

CRICKET
12th-16th First Test Match England v Sri Lanka
20th-24th Second Test Match England v Sri Lanka

TENNIS
9th-15th Aegeon Championship Queen’s Club, Baron’s Court, London
23rd-6th July Wimbledon Championships, Wimbledon

GOLF
12th-15th US Open, Pinehurst, North Carolina

MOTORSPORT
8th Canadian Grand Prix
22nd Austrian Grand Prix
14th-15th Le Mans 24hr

FOOTBALL
12-13th July
2014 FIFA World Cup, Brasil

POLO
15th Cartier Queens Cup, Windsor Great Park

 

Ever wondered a bit about the history of professional sport and the ingredients that magnetise millions around the globe? Well, if you fancy a spot of reading about the marvels of spectator sport, then look no further than Floodlights and Touchlines. It tells the stories that matter: from the gladiators of Rome to the runners of Rift Valley via the innovator-missionaries of Rugby School; from multi-faceted British exports to the Americanisation of professionalism and the Indianisation of cricket. Rob Steen traces the development of these sports which captivate the turnstile millions and the mouse-clicking masses, addressing their key themes and common links, from creation myths to match fixing via race, politics, sexuality and internationalism.

If you don’t believe me, why not read some of the great reviews it’s received already…

In his deftly-written and engrossing new book, Rob Steen reminds us again why, beneath the floodlights and along the touchlines, sport has consumed so many of us for so long. It’s as compelling as your favourite sporting memory – and more informative and amusing.
Donald McRae, The Guardian

Rob Steen is the wittiest and most astringent English-language sportswriter. And this book provides a brilliant narrative of spectator sport. Internationalist, progressive, cosmopolitan, yet earthy, it is an instant classic.
Toby Miller, author of SportSex

I believe that you will never fully understand the game behind the game without reading Floodlights and Touchlines. Rob Steen is the perfect guide to take you through this remarkable history.
Dr John Carlos, 1968 Olympian, medal stand protester

Rob Steen’s intoxication with sport’s dramatic qualities, his familiarity with the sporting scene on both sides of the Atlantic and his writing verve all shine through in this penetrating study.
Nick Pitt, The Sunday Times

Rob’s obstinate belief that sport and thought are not incompatible is an inspiration to us all.
Simon Barnes, Chief Sportswriter for The Times

Floodlights and Touchlines is a triumph. People who dismiss sports as mindless entertainment need to read this. People who love sports but find their ardor doesn’t extend beyond the numbers, need to read this as well. The sports world is better for its publication.
Dave Zirin, Sports Editor of The Nation and author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil

Floodlights and Touchlines: Out now

Floodlights and Touchlines: Out now

For more info, or if you want to get your hands on a copy to read in between world cup matches and the tennis, click here.

 

Offer: Score 30% off our football books

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Get a kick out of these fantastic football books

As all eyes are on Brazil at the moment, back here in the UK we are offering 30% off all our football books! Brush up on your refereeing skills with the fantastic You Are the Ref and discover the story behind the coolest international football team in history in Danish Dynamite.

Offer ends 13th July 2014
 
football

 

Health & Fitness Catalogue 2014 #sportsbooks

I expect you’ve been wondering when this little beauty was going to come along, and here it is …
The 2014 Health & Fitness Books catalogue.
It’s got our greatest hits, our newest chart-toppers as well as some stalwart classics.

Sit back, browse and enjoy…

Click on me to see inside

Click on me to see inside

Brought to you courtesy of Bloomsbury Sport. You’re welcome.

USA to Win the World Cup: Interview with ‘defenceman’ Robert Andrew Powell

Clint_Dempsey_USA_trainingCould the US be the surprise package to win the World Cup? Answer: not at all. But on the eve of the greatest show not on ice, I found the best and only man to suggest otherwise, author Robert Andrew Powell. This blog is not on that though, it’s a shameless headline to drag in your now irate eyeballs. Bear with me.

My sports book of last year, This Love Is Not for Cowards, happens to be published by Bloomsbury. Pure coincidence, and I assure you I had zero to nothing to do with it, as our counterparts at Bloomsbury USA published it. It’s one of those genres US writers do so well: journalistic non-fiction. Think Stefan Fatsis’s Word Freak on the word-burgling nerd-world of competitive Scrabble. Here Powell moves to the murder capital of Mexico to follow a football team. It is absolutely brilliant, and if I can recommend just one book in my hyperbolic life, today it is this one. If you have a gratuitous interest in cartel violence, a love of Mexican football or you are just highly suggestible, read it.

Having finished it I struck up a little email conflab with the author, shamefully confessing from the off that I had started it because Breaking Bad had ended and I needed a Mexican-cartel fix.

thisLOVEcoverCiudad Juárez is basically the other half of the Texan city of El Paso (or vice versa), but sitting on the southern side of the border in Chihuahua, Mexico. In 2008 the city’s football team the Indios rose to the Primera, Mexico’s top league. For such a small team, from such a crime-ravaged city, their place was never going to last. The fans’ faith held them in it a while, and Powell was there to track their last 12 months in the big time. I’ve been describing it to people as the opposite of a sports movie, instead of the underdog fighting hard, appearing as if they’re going to lose, then miraculously winning it all, the team just loses. I asked Powell if that was how he saw it:

RAPRobert Andrew Powell: I would have been happy to follow the standard sports movie script. At one point, early on, I was like, ‘Can you guys please start winning? For me and my little book project here? Please?’ But it didn’t take too long for me to recognise that the team and its losing streak formed an almost perfect metaphor for the city at large. The Indios players were lesser talents cast off from better teams. They lost and lost. But every day they still stepped onto the field and kept fighting for the team, the city and for their own personal pride. Ciudad Juárez at the time was so very horribly violent, and it was somehow getting worse, yet most people in the city got up in the morning and went to work and tried their best to live a normal life. As a fan, I would have enjoyed it tremendously if the Indios had strung together some wins and stayed in Mexico’s top league. But that isn’t how life generally works. Miracles are rare. That’s why we celebrate them, and remember them. The Indios, when I embedded with them, were real and human. They struggled, as most of us do. And that honourable struggle came to be what I loved most about them.

Drug-War_Related_Murders_in_Mexico_2006-2011I guess the most obvious questions relate to ‘what happened next’: for you, the Indios, the players and Juárez. The Indios appear to have ‘dissolved’ according to Wikipedia after ‘financial problems’. Do you know any more on this? Have the fans found a suitable new object for their affections? Are you in touch at all with the old Karteleros (the Indios’ ultra fans)? Have you been back? How is Juárez without the Indios? How are those ex-Indios players getting on?

The team suffered relegation while I was there. Not much more than a year later, they folded altogether. Without TV revenue and with attendance way down – and with the murder rate still sky high – owner Francisco Ibarra couldn’t keep the team afloat. He’d told me he would never, ever sell the team. Yet he did sell, in the end.

The players scattered across Mexico. Marco Vidal, the American midfielder who was a central character in the book, ended up back in the top league with a team called Pachuca. But he eventually dropped back down to the minors, where he remains. He’s 28 years old now. I doubt he’ll climb back up. The allegiances of fans in Juárez drifted to other teams, like Chivas in Guadalajara and Pumas in Mexico City.

640px-Ciudad_juarez_streetTwo years after the Indios folded, a replacement team finally stepped forward to represent the city. This new team, also called the Indios – traditionally every sports team in Juárez is called the Indios – are sponsored by the local university, and play at the same stadium. But in the lowest minor league. Attendance is light. The quality of play is way, way down. The team is nowhere close to ever returning Juárez to the top league.

I remain in close contact with a lot of people from the book. From players like Marco to the Ibarras to many of the fans who followed the team when I was there. I’ve gone back to the border frequently, most recently just a few weeks ago. Juárez is quite different these days. The murder rate – which is still high – has dropped significantly from the eye-popping numbers of 2010. Many more bars and restaurants light up the night, and people feel a lot more comfortable going out. It’s not like the city’s problems have been solved, though. Corruption remains endemic. And thousands and thousands of murders from the past six-plus years remain unsolved. These murders were never even investigated, really. The ghosts of the dead haunt the city. One can’t pretend the killing never happened, or is just some vague memory from the past.

Drug_Money_and_weapons_seized_by_the_Mexican_Police_and_the_DEA_2007Armada-de-mexico-300x350Were you worried at all in writing the book that you were endangering the lives of any of the people you described? Especially when they were discussing cartel boss J.L.?

JavierTorres-Felix

I never felt I would endanger anyone with my book. Maybe that’s naive of me. I strive to ground my work in real names and place and details. For the record, nobody seems to have been hurt.

And, hey, I finally finished Breaking Bad myself just last week! Walt dies. :)

Nice spoiler. Of Breaking Bad, what did you think of the depiction of El Paso? The worst nightmare of the DEA’s Hank …

 

640px-Aaron_Paul_Breaking_Bad_panel_at_2012_Comic-Con_(2)El Paso would have been the place for Hank to advance his career. For obvious reasons. As far as Marie’s description of El Paso as ‘an armpit’, well … Albuquerque isn’t all that different. Both cities are dusty, isolated and relatively small. Albuquerque is close to the beautiful little town of Santa Fe, which is nice. But I’d rather live in El Paso, personally. It’s close to a whole other country.

The book’s title, This Love Is Not for Cowards, is great. Did you have any working titles that didn’t make the cut?

640px-Puente_Negro_Ciudad_JuarezThe original title was On the Line, which worked in about eight different ways. The US Border Patrol uses ‘the Line’ to describe the international border. The Juárez cartel is known locally as La Línea. Marco Vidal, when asked early in the book about the high stakes of the upcoming season, says ‘our lives are on the line’. That was my alternate, more poetic title for a while, Our Lives Are On the Line. But it turns out that way too many stories about the border are entitled ‘On the Line’. The very day I handed in the final draft of the book, the New York Times Magazine put ‘Life on the Line’ over a long cover story about Juárez and El Paso. We had to come up with something else.

My editor suggested Bordertown, which I hated. What, are we talking about Detroit here? The Bordertown title stuck around long enough to appear on some early cover mock-ups, to my dismay. Time was running out, and I was frantic that I’d not find a better option when Saul Luna, one of the Karteleros in the book, suggested the title we went with. Which turned out to be perfect.

What are you working on now? I see you have a book just out-ish about running a marathon, and that it was a long time coming. You must be pleased.

I just released Running Away, a memoir about marathoning and my father and divorce and a bunch of other hopefully interesting things. I actually wrote the memoir before I moved to Juárez, but it’s taken until now to get it published. Beyond that, I’ve been working for a while on what I hope will become a book set in Miami, and more specifically on a golf course. My first three books involved American football, soccer and running. Now golf. I’m working my way through all the sports, I guess. Kind of like a literary decathlete.

Both USA and Mexico are in the World Cup, how do you fancy their respective chances? Is the competition at all in the media in the US?

I’m a big fan of the US Men’s National Team, as we call them. A real big fan. Perhaps so much a fan that my logic is clouded. I’m approaching the tournament in Brazil with guarded optimism. I can see us getting out of our group, which is a killer – Portugal, Germany and Ghana (a country that eliminated us from the previous two World Cups). We also have the toughest travel itinerary of any team in the tournament. Yet, we stunned Portugal in Korea in 2002. We beat Germany in a friendly last summer, and our coach is of course a German who’s won the cup himself. So, yeah, I’ve decided to feel good about our chances. If I had to bet, though. If you forced me to bet, I’d wager we lose all three games and finish in dead last place.

640px-Mexico_vs_Senegal_@_London_2012_-6Mexico won’t have it easy in Brazil, either, not with the home team in its group. Mexico barely squeaked into the finals, too. Yet they have a far greater chance of advancing out of the group stage than the US. I want them to lose, though. Badly. To any fan of the US, Mexico is the enemy.

Yes I know how hard it was for Mexico because their final play-off was against my little country, New Zealand. We were the only undefeated team at the last (our second ever) World Cup, with three draws, and I can only wish the same for the US. Oddly I am supporting England, being resident and a dreadful Anglophile, but also Uruguay, as a Liverpool and Luis Suárez fan.

I’ve got Colombia as my backup squad to cheer for. To win I’m standing with the favourite. Brazil all the way. To me, a Brazil triumph is a mortal lock, absolutely certain. I’ve never been more confident about an outcome.

The World Cup has England giddy all over again. Who are the players to look out for on the US (Men’s National) Team? Is Donovan still the star, or are there more impressive young-bloods? The MLS is broadcast here, but I’ve never heard many people talking about it, beyond the news media’s obsession with Beckham, when he was with LA Galaxy and now with his new franchise. As a Miamian, were you a Fusion fan, and now ready to transfer your patronage to Beckham’s little startup?

1024px-Michael_Bradley_shooting_vs_HondurasThe clear current star of the US team is a midfielder named Michael Bradley. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. If not, well, then that says everything about the American squad. Our captain, Clint Dempsey, isn’t nearly as sharp as back when he played for Fulham. And Donovan? Man. As I type this, he’s in real danger of not making the final roster cut for Brazil. He’s been overweight and off his game. Our training camp is essentially a game of Survivor. Seven players currently in camp will be voted off the team before the plane lifts off for Brazil.

The possibility of Miami Beckham United FC or whatever they’re going to call it fascinates me. I loved his big announcement that he’d decided to place his expansion team in Miami. Like, what other American city was he going to choose? Indianapolis? St Louis? Of course he was going to pick Miami. Whether Miami will support him is a real question. This city bows to celebrity star-power, but Miamians are sophisticated soccer fans. Top teams, both club and international, come through here all the time. (Prior to the World Cup, England will be in Miami for tune-up games against Ecuador and Honduras. Ghana and South Korea plan to play a game here, too.) The World Cup will be broadcast into every restaurant in town, every day. Lunch hours will be extended all month long, and the whole city will follow the tournament closely. I’ve long felt that the Fusion failed here in large part because the team’s quality of play – and the quality of the league – was simply substandard. MLS is a minor league.

(Not to piss on MLS. I like the league for what it is. I’ve been to a few Seattle Sounders games, in Seattle, and have marvelled at the support that city gives its team. The games I watched were sell-outs, and it was a ton of fun to stand with the supporters, who are sophisticated soccer fans in their own right.)David_Beckham_2012

Then there’s the whole issue of Beckham. He and his people boast that a team in Miami will be an extension of his brand, his soccer franchise to go along with his Haig Club whiskey and his Instinct cologne for men and his H&M underwear line. That’s all good for his portfolio, but I’ve started to wonder what would happen if he’s hit by a bus. Or if, say, perhaps, he gets caught blowing rails of cocaine in the boardroom of a Premier League club. Just to say. Take away Beckham, talk merely about a MLS team coming here, and I don’t think Miami would have much interest.

Finally, do you ever call the game ‘football’? Is it a bit pretentious in the States to do so? Using the word ‘soccer’ gets me mocked in Britain (in New Zealand, rugby is the only ‘football’), and they love to laugh at the US terminology used in the game. My favourite was your word ‘defenceman’ in the book for a defender. I have amused a few Britons passing this one on. Do you have any other humorous US soccer terminology for us to have a chuckle at?

It’s becoming more and more common for the game in the States to be called football. The cool kids call it football, as do I about half the time. It depends who I’m talking to. It can get confusing, like trying to figure out what kind of handshake you’re supposed to give a guy. I have no problem at all with the term soccer, nor with any Brits making fun of Americans for using it. It’s who we are, it’s what we play. As for ‘defensemen’: that was a total mistake! Nobody in North America uses that term! It comes from ice hockey, a sport I played competitively through university. I slipped it into the book accidentally, reflexively, never noticing until someone pointed out my mistake after publication. I switched it back to ‘defender’ in the paperback, my cheeks red with shame.

A pity to change the word, I think. It’s part of the colour that makes the book: that alternate-universe thing that is ‘soccer’ from a US perspective. Ultimately of course it is the human story, and the act of living for the Juarenses amid so much tragedy, rather than the sport, that makes This Love Is Not for Cowards so compelling. I can only recommend it, and if you won’t buy it, can I at least lend you my copy?thisLOVEcover

How to Eat for Maximum Performance

Guest post by Anita Bean

Whether you are a competitive athlete looking for those ‘marginal gains’ or you simply enjoy working out for fitness, a great nutrition plan will help maximise your performance. It can help you train harder and longer, and speed your recovery between sessions. Here are a few tips to keep you well fuelled:

1. Fuel upStirfry

Of all the foods you could have before a workout, prioritize ones rich in carbohydrates, especially if you will be training for longer than one hour. Include some protein (chicken, fish, cheese, egg, beans) as well as a small amount of fat (olive oil, cheese, avocado) in the meal. Both help lower the overall glycaemic index (a measur
e of how rapidly the blood sugar levels rise) of the meal, provide sustained energy and improve performance. A meat and veg stew with potatoes; a pasta, tuna (or bean) and veg bake; or a chicken & veg stir-fry with rice would be ideal.

2. Eat 2 – 3 hours before exercising

The optimal time for your pre-exercise meal is 2 – 4 hours before training. If you work-out at 7pm, plan to eatbananas between 3 and 5pm. No time to eat a meal? A granola bar; a slice of toast with peanut butter; a handful of nuts and dried fruit; or a banana 30 minutes before you train should give you enough of an energy boost.

3. Begin well-hydrated

It’s important to begin each workout properly hydrated if you want to put in a good performance. Aim to drink 5-7 ml of fluid per kilogram of body weight about 4 hours before exercise – equivalent to 350 – 490 ml for a 70kg person.

4. Avoid dehydration

waterIf you’re exercising for less than an hour, there’s no need to consume anything other than water during your workout. For most conditions 400 – 800 ml per hour will prevent dehydration as well as over-hydration. Listen to your body and drink when you are thirsty.

5. Fuel on the go

If you’re working-out for longer than an hour, consuming carbohydrate either in the form of a drink or as food provides your muscles with a ready supply of blood glucose for immediate energy. This spares glycogen stores and helps you to train longer. Aim for 30–60 g of carbohydrate per hour – equivalent to 400 – 800 ml cordial (diluted 1 to 6), or an isotonic sports drink; 2 bananas or 50g dried fruit. If you’re exercising hard for longer than 2 – 3 hours, a dual energy source drink (glucose and fructose) may help increase your stamina.

6. Replace fluids

Weigh yourself before and after your session to get an idea of your fluid losses. The International Olympic Committee recommend drinking 600 – 750 ml of fluid for each 0.5 kg weight lost.

7. Refuel

fruit and yoghurtIf you plan to exercise again within 24 hours, begin refuelling within two hours of your workout. Your recovery snack should contain carbohydrate to replenish depleted fuel (glycogen) stores, as well as 20 – 25g protein to repair and rebuild the muscles. Milk (all types), flavoured milk and low fat milk shakes are ideal, or make your own recovery shake from milk, fruit and yoghurt. If you don’t plan to exercise the next day, simply ensure you get enough protein and carbs over the next 24 hours.

 

Food for Fitness 4th Ed

 

Food for Fitness 4th ed by Anita Bean

The new edition of this book is the ultimate resource for anyone who is serious about sport or fitness. It has been updated to include the very latest nutrition research for exercise and performance. Food For Fitness dispels popular myths and gives you the tools you need to reach your maximum performance, as well as 65 easy, delicious recipes, and sport-specific menu plans.

 

 

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