First Triathlon of the 2017 Season

Nuffield Sprints.- Eaton Dorney Lake  21st May 2017

Key takeouts

  • Based at the 2012 Olympic rowing venue
  • A great race to participate as as season opener
  • Distance 750m Swim 20Km Bike and 5km run
  • Clean, clear and warm lake (18c)
  • Well marked swim course with buoys and finish markers
  • Cycle is fast but a little boring as its 5 laps around the lake
  • Crowds mostly around the transition areas
  • Head wind on 50% of bike, slows down you average speed.
  • Run is an out and back along the foot path
  • Run is dead flat and generally smooth surface
  • Sold out for 2 straight days means busy and popular event
  • Lots of first timers as well as elite and high level age group athletes
  • Well organised race but lacks a little atmosphere

IVBP8285Bike Transition DCIM100GOPROTT Bike Set upDCIM100GOPROSupporters at the start/finish DCIM100GOPROPerfect setting for the swim DCIM100GOPROFlat run course IMG_6053Bike check in MZGF5197Riding back to car after the finishIMG_6060Finishers medal to add to the collection


Planning Your Own Training Camp

When it’s cold outside and it’s the middle of winter the chance’s are you’re not massively inspired to be training. It’s likely to also be the off season so there’s also little to no racing to motivate you to train.

During this period It’s easy to fall off the training wagon and let your fitness regress. Resting is ok and recovery is important, but there is always the danger your fitness drops too low and may impact your ability to train and race fast in your future season.

The problem with loosing fitness over winter isn’t that you won’t ever get it back, it’s more that your might not have the time to get it back to cope with the level of training you want to do once the season finally begins.

A great solution for this and one I have been using for many years is to attend a pre season training camp (preferably but not essential) in a warm weather location.

Detaching yourself from your daily obligations and spending 1-2 weeks exclusively focusing on your fitness (without having bad weather as an excuse) creates a great platform to kick start your fitness and  begin to build a foundation for the coming season.

To make a training camp a success

  • Choose an objective
    • Pick an objective for the camp as this will dictate the area or country you go to and the facilities you need to have close by.
    • e.g If you want to increase your swim volume and train consistency then having a pool near by is more essential than being in a warm climate. However if you also want to build ocean swimming skills and confidence then you want to pick a location that is by the sea and has a warmer climate.
  • Book your trip
    • Locations with access to good facilities get booked quickly especially during the pre season month’s. So either book way in advance or join onto a training camp that is already established or organised in the area (normally you will pay a premium for this vs one self coached)
  • Plan your daily regime
    • Ask yourself how many hours are you currently training? and how much can your increase this by over a couple of weeks without burning yourself out. If you’re not training regularly then the focus should be on improving consistency rather than massively increasing the volume. But if you have been training constantly over winter then the focus of the camp could be in increasing your training volume
    • How many sessions are you planning to do in a day? When is the optimal time of day to have each training session? and are the training facilities available at these times? if you are doing multiple sessions in a day you should have access near by to food and your bedroom to aid your recovery between sessions.
  • Plan your individual sessions
    • Every session should have a focus, take advantage of the new environment and do sessions which you may not normally have the time for or normally have access to the facilities.
    • Having a purpose and objective for each session should build and contributes to your larger objective for the camp. It also ensures you get the most out of your time while you’re there.
  • Track your progress
    • Record your fitness levels at the start of the camp and monitor your performance throughout the camp. You will get more tired as the camp goes on so won’t necessarily see uplifts fitness until sometime after the camp has finished. Once the body has fully recovered.
  • Maintain the momentum
    • It’s great to have the time to focus on your fitness. If you don’t continue to build on this fitness once you return home then you will quickly lose the benefits of training your camp.

Below is an example of a recent pre season training camp at club La Santa in Lanzarote.

Club La Santa facilities include:

  • 3x 50m Swimming Pools
  • Sheltered sea water lagoon
  • Free Bike hire and miles of mountainous roads
  • Coastal running path and off-road trails
  • Athletic Track
  • Outdoor and Indoor Gym
  • Shops/ Restaurants/ Accommodation on site

Objective 1: To train swim,bike, run consistently over two weeks and gradually build steady state aerobic fitness. To establish a strong endurance foundation for the start of the 2017 triathlon season.

Objective 2: To swim consistently and build aerobic endurance in the pool focusing on stroke efficiency.

Training sessions: 


A running injury meant it didn’t go exactly to plan but the lack of running was compensated with some additional swims and more focus on recovery.

Some images from the camp:

Olympic Pool at Club La Santa

Riding the Lava Fields 

Exiting Tianjo 

Defending back into La Santa

Drink Stop at the National Park

Ocean Swimming Training in the Atlantic

End of a swimming training session in the sun

Climbing out of La santa through the town of Soo

Training Camp’s don’t have to be abroad as long as you don’t rely on escaping bad weather like me. But the more detached you can be from your every day life the more focused you can be on the camp.


Marathon Training Tips for Non Runners

A marathon is 20 miles of pain and 6.1 miles of reality

Long distance running is hard. It’s hard to technically do well, It’s hard work, it’s hard impact on your joints and muscles, it hard to train for as it takes so much time, it’s hard mentally to stay focused for such a duration at a high intensity. Essentially it’s just a hard sport.

But because it’s hard it’s also fun and rewarding and that is why it attracts so many people each year and motivates them to sign up for a marathon or half marathon, especially as these events are on everyone’s ‘athletic bucket list’.

The major concern of signing up for such grueling events is that most people really don’t have the athletic background to run the race well.  I’ve heard a phrase used  ‘the marathon is the worlds most participated running race, yet it the is the worlds most under trained.’ which indicates most people who turn up at the start line aren’t properly prepared to take on the distance.

To put into context its popularity, more people run the London marathon in one day, than the number of people who compete in an official 10,000m (10Km) race in a whole year. that means it’s more than likely people are turning up to the start of a 26mile course not only as their first marathon but possibly their first running/endurance event ever.

This is not to say people shouldn’t participate in these event’s its more to say they should be aware of their athletic experience and prepare for the race according to their ability and not what training program they found online.

If the goal is to train and complete your first half or full marathon below are some methods you can adopt to ensure your make the correct physical and anatomical adaption without running the risk of burning out or injury.

  1. Start training as early as possible– Your success is dictated by how big of a foundation you can lay before you begin race specific training. If you can have an entire winter slowly building up your ability to run steady distance’s, it will pay dividends when the spring comes and you start some faster more intense runs as you will have a solid endurance base. If you’re really new to running I would recommend a season training for and racing shorter races like 5-10Km so you can get used to a) regular training and b) learn what a running race feels like, before you jump into the longer distance events. This season would also lay a fantastic foundation before you start doing long runs that are multiple hours in length.
  2. Don’t run too often- Although instinct is to run every or most day’s. In order to avoid overtraining and burnout you would be better off focusing on 3 really specific good runs that help you prepare. (Long run, Hills runs, Tempo runs). Then use the other days to continue building your endurance and aerobic fitness but not through running. This could mean swimming, rowing or cycling.It would preferable be non weight-bearing as this way you can recover from the impact of the runs but still continue to progress your aerobic capacity.
  3. Don’t inflate your goals If it’s your first marathon your goal should be to finish (it’s that tough). Once your training gets underway and you begin to see progress in your fitness, it is easy to inflate your goals. i.e. a goal of finishing a marathon soon becomes running it in sub 4 hours. This is not only an error as it can take your focus off what was initially important (to finish) it can possible make you try to run faster than your ability and ruin the whole race.
  4. Your weekly long run is the most important session. If your training on a regular basis then you will no doubt be progressing your aerobic endurance. However once a week you should be doing a ‘slow’ (slower than race pace) steady (no changes in speed) long (building up to 75% of race distance) run. This long run serves two purposes. 1) its is a good barometer to see how long you are comfortable running for long periods of time and how you are progressing as your training develops. 2) It prepares you to be comfortable on your feet moving at a failry high intensity for the duration or close to the duration of the race.
  5. Time on feet in training is more important than distance. You shouldn’t be aiming to run a marathon in training, however if you think the marathon is going to take 4 or 4.5 hours you should definitely prepare yourself to be on your feet for this amount of time. This is because it is too taxing on the body trying to complete a marathon length training run and will take weeks to recover from. However a low intensity training run of the same duration (can include breaks and walks) would not break you down as much but would have a positive training effect and be a great confidence boost. For example you may run 75% of the distance in your target race time as your longest run.
  6. Make your tempo run’s fast and your long runs slow– Most people run their easy  runs too fast and their hard runs too slow and just end up running all the time at a moderate pace which won’t develop or progress them. To get the most out of your sessions focus the race pace training runs (tempo runs) on quality rather than quantity and spend progressivly longer at these higher speeds. Then focus the long steady runs on acheiveing volume goals (quantity) and worry less about the pace (quality).
  7. Train your gut for race day nutrition If your planning on fuelling your race with gels and sports drinks (or some of your race) then you have to be prepared to have up to 3x gels per hour, which could mean upwards of 12 gels over the course. This isn’t an optimum way to get nutrition normally but for race days you should stick to the simplest method that your body can handle. If using gels is the case then you need to train your gut to withstand this amount of sugar and electrolytes, other wise you run the risk of stomach cramps or digestion issues during the race. The weekly long run is the perfect time to trial your nutrition strategy and adjust the amount of sports gels and drinks you take on based on trial and error.

Just Run. Nothing Else.

Sometimes its good to just run.

Not to worry about:

  • Where you’re going
  • Switching Strava/GPS on to track your distance
  • Taking a picture for social confirmation
  • Measuring your heart rate
  • Checking your pace
  • Timing your intervals
  • about saving energy for later
  • Concerning about running too much after yesterday
  • Listening to your music
  • Running with the dog (to kill two birds with one stone)
  • If you have the right clothing for the current weather
  • Which shoes to wear, trail or road.
  • Taking water in a camel back and energy with you
  • about being back for a certain time
  • Mimicking a future race

Next time you need to train,unwind or just get outside follow these easy steps:

  1. Change into shorts, vest and any trainers.
  2. Go out the front door.
  3. Just run. until your tired. then run some more.

Cold Weather Winter Training

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment.

This could never be more true. Today was the first time this year I jumped onto the bike and felt the wind chill my extremities and longed for a swift warm up to get my blood pumping and my internal radiator started.

When your feeling low on motivation because the sky is grey and the ground is wet or its dark outside and theirs a frost in the air its time to review what equipment and clothing you have to support you in your training and protect you from the elements. Weather your Running,Walking, Cycling here are some suggestions below to keep you safe and warm in the winter months.

  • Breathable Beanie/Skull Cap
  •  Wind Breaker /Rain Jacket
  • Gillet
  • Thermal Gloves
  • Multiple Layers are better than one thick one
  • Leggings/Leg Warmers
  • Head Torch/Bike Lights/ Torch
  • Buff (like a scarf)
  • Multiple Socks or Thick Socks
  • Toes or Shoe covers (waterproof)
  • Clear Eye wear
  • Ear Warmers
  • Waterproof trainers
  • Fluorescent Jacket/Gillet/Vest
  • Bright Rucksack cover
  • Reflectors
  • Mobile Phone

This is not exhaustive, but if your wandering why you never want to get out and train in the winter and you aren’t owning some of the above. It may be time to recheck your equipment and update to relevant climate. Be safe.

Comment below any other ideas on winter must have equipment.