Monday, 26 September 2016

Elaine Garvican: IRONMAN Weymouth Race Report

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Below is the race report from IRONMAN Weymouth for Race Team athlete, Elaine Garvican. Elaine has been targeting IRONMAN Weymouth as her A race for 2016 with the hope of qualifying for the IRONMAN World Championships in 2017.

The last time I raced an IRONMAN in the UK was 2013 and it appears 3 years was long enough to cloud my memory of just how unpredictable the late summer British weather can be. Like many, I obsessively checked the weather forecast and was incredibly relieved to see that the pretty nasty weather that greeted us on Saturday morning would not be sticking around. We rented a really cute little cottage near Nothe Castle – an auspicious place to stay we discovered, because during the 2012 Olympics, it was let to an athlete who won a gold medal for sailing! We were only a 5 minute drive (or roughly a 15 minute stroll-at-IRONMAN-taper-speed from the Pavilion) and getting to Lodmoor Park for racking and the start was also pretty hassle-free.

Race day was about as perfect as it would be possible to get in the UK. The sea was less choppy than many of the lakes I’ve swum in this year, the sky was clear and although the wind picked up throughout the day, all was calm and still first thing. I felt incredibly lucky, as I did my warm up swim – I’m such a wimp when it comes to being cold and wet all day, but I could not have asked for it to be much nicer…. with the possible exception of the pebbles on the beach maybe. A comparison to the Ironman in Nice was made more than once, and although the stones on the beach there are painful to walk on, they are large, smooth, cobblestone-type pebbles, not the smaller, sharp, gravelly stones we were gingerly picking our way over. I ended up with several surprisingly deep cuts on both feet, which took several days to start to heal. All in all though, if that’s what it took to ensure a pleasant swim, it was a deal.

Elaine on the scenic run course in Weymouth
For the first time in Europe, IRONMAN ran a 70.3 race at the same time as the full distance. The two races started concurrently, but with a rolling start, which on balance was probably better than 2800 or so athletes charging into the sea en masse, but with a slight bottleneck for the timing mat and the aforementioned issue of sensitive soles, it took quite a long time for those at the back of the queue to enter the water. Although this didn’t matter at all from a point of view of timing, it meant there were still a lot of 70.3 athletes swimming their first lap as I came round for the second time. In general though, my swim was boringly uneventful – exactly the way I like them! No jellyfish, no swimming horribly off course, no kicks or smacks to the face with someone’s Garmin and it lasted a predictable 1:08. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that however much swim training I do, I never get any quicker. I won’t pretend it’s not extremely frustrating, but I am no longer surprised at the consistency of my mediocrity!

Transition was on the other side of the road, but unlike Nice, there were no stairs, and plenty of space for everyone to get off the beach and with decent temperatures forecast and no need for extra clothing it was a quick transition.

The Weymouth bike course is probably best described as “relentless”. It’s by no means the hardest I’ve done, and with only 1900m total climb, far from the hilliest, but with the constant undulations, corners, junctions and roundabouts plus the typically British road surfaces, it is on the slow side. My biggest complaint about the whole race concerns the first lap of the bike course, the entirety of which was spent passing one long, continuous line of 70.3 athletes. This made it more mentally and physically demanding than I was expecting as it required constant observation of, and communication with, so many other cyclists, as well as the surging required to pass. The second half, although feeling a bit lonely and now with a stronger southerly wind, was therefore something of a relief. My position on the bike was comfortable, thanks to the expertise of Mike from, so with the exception of the climbs and where aerobars were not permitted for safety reasons, I was able to stay tucked.

Celebrating at the finish line!

I knew there were still several girls in front of me, and I’d hoped to be able to close the gap slightly more in the closing stages of the bike, but back at T2 after 5hrs 54, I was about 13 minutes down, and only 3rd in my age group. I wasn’t sure if I’d biked too conservatively, if those ahead had ridden too hard, or how successfully I would be able to run them down, but I was ready to find out.

The run is 4 ½ laps on the promenade, round the slight curve of the seafront, so it’s not until the 5th time you circle the Pavilion at the western end that you finally get to run down the red carpet. There was a noticeable headwind in that direction too, but this was countered by the fact that running towards the far turnaround (where we collected our coloured lap bands) there were few landmarks to give you an idea of how (increasingly it seemed!) far away it was. Added to this, on my first two laps, the 70.3 turnaround point was still tauntingly in place, to rub your nose in the fact that 3 times as many athletes had made a far more sensible decision concerning what distance to race.

Without meaning to moronically state the obvious, a marathon is a long way and in an Ironman, the first half of that is mostly spent settling in, exercising some patience and taking in as much nutrition as you can. All of which I managed fairly well. Then the Tri Training Harder coaches on course started giving me time splits and the girls ahead started coming back to me. At about half way, I caught Jo Carritt and ran with her for 5k or so. Then it was time to start hurting. With two girls still ahead of me in my age group, it was a case of disengaging my head from my increasingly weary legs and running with my heart. With the gap still in the region of 6 minutes, I’m not sure anyone yet believed it was possible, but as my pace picked up, that of the girls ahead was dropping and the shouts of my supporters became increasingly excited – and insistent that I run even harder! As I collected my final lap band, the marshals told me I was in 3rd and that 2nd place was only 2 minutes ahead. Just under 5k to make up just under 2 minutes – a tough gap, but one I would do everything I could to close down. I didn’t even glance at my Garmin, I just ran as fast as I could until just as I approached the final loop around the pier, with about 300m to go, there she was. I took a deep breath and overtook with all the appearance of speed and stamina I could muster, all the while terrified that she would come back with a faster sprint. Until I was meters away from the finish line, I didn’t allow myself to believe I could hold on, and I didn’t let up.

Making the most of the red carpet
I crossed the line 2nd female, only 2 minutes back from 1st. Crucially though, I had won my age group, as with all female age groups having been allocated just a single slot for the 2017 World Championships, qualification required nothing less. I had a short lie down, because all of a sudden the effort of running a 3:23 marathon caught up with me, but I was swiftly and miraculously revived when they mentioned the podium celebrations and asked was I able to throw some champagne around? Most definitely. That was a bucket list experience which was probably the highlight of my weekend. Coming a close second the following day was collecting a trophy for 2nd female and another for the Age Group win, before officially accepting my Kona slot for next year.

This will be my 3rd time on the Big Island. Knowing what’s in store only makes it feel even more exciting.

There are several people to whom I owe a big Thank You for their help before and during this race, including:

Mike Taylor (Bridgtown Bike and Thank you for lending me the slick-looking Boardman and for developing a comfortable, sustainable, aerodynamic position;

HIGH5: Thanks for keeping me fueled and fueling my recovery in a delicious way;

Gordon, Mark, Helen, Paul, Sharon and Andrea at The Bosworth Clinic: You had a vision of a stronger, faster, better adapted athlete and your physical, nutritional and psychological help have been invaluable;

Skechers Performance: Fastest female marathon of the day and no blisters!

Everyone at Tri Training Harder: Thank you for your company during training and socially, your support, your jokes and the wonderful sense of family;

My coach, Philip Hatzis: I cannot be the easiest athlete to put up with, but your patience and professionalism continue to inspire me to work hard for you;

My husband: As ever, my biggest fan and most loyal supporter.
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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Making a Comeback

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In this blog Hannah Johnston, a valued member of our Tri Training Harder community, builds on her previous blog and explains how to slowly build back up to training from a period of time off. Before her life was turned upside-down, Hannah was an elite level triathlete in 2015 and has been involved with Tri Training Harder in various capacities over the last five years. Hannah currently operates the social media side of the business so head over to Facebook and say hello!

In my previous blog, I wrote about living without triathlon; when life throws you an unfortunate set of cards and you’re unable to train (and in my case, work, study, drive, socialise and do anything that required getting out of bed!). How do you cope? If I’d have been given a heads up on what my 2015-16 was going to be like, I would have certainly panicked; triathlon was my life and I’ve never had more than a 2 week break from sport my whole life. How would I manage taking almost a year out, with over 6 months of it in bed? But, when these difficult situations are forced upon you, in the moment you find what is truly important. I found enjoyment in things I would never have previously considered, and the true value of my family and friends was realised. These things hold greater importance than simply being the fastest swimmer/biker/runner.

So, where am I now? Well, I am absolutely ecstatic to say that I am well, and back to my energetic old self. The answers behind my illness have not been found, but I am focusing on the future and the road to becoming the healthy me again.

It’s a huge jump from being bedbound with extreme fatigue to cycling 40 hilly kilometres, so how did I do it? I hope this section can be good advice for anyone making a ‘comeback’ as such, and is the reasoning behind writing this blog. I am guessing that many triathletes reading this blog will have taken time out from the sport at some point during their sporting lives, maybe due to injury, illness, having a baby, work commitments, family commitments, travel, etc. So how do you get back into your old routines when you may have taken one month, 10 months or even 10 years out of training?

1. Start slowly

First things first, you need to start slow. Like, REALLY slow. For me, the first stage was walking a few steps around the garden. Sounds ridiculous right? But you don’t want to get ahead of yourself. Getting carried away and doing too much too soon would only mean a step backwards. Once I could do that without it making me too tired, I then walked 100m down the road to the post box and back. Then it was to the village centre, which is maybe 300m away. Slowly slowly, I built up to being able to walk for around 50 minutes without feeling tired afterwards or the next day.

2. Enjoy the moment

Each walk I focused on the enjoyment of being outdoors: listening to the birds, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin, breathing in the fresh air or picking a bunch of wild flowers. To begin with, don’t take a Garmin or iPod; relive the feeling of being outside and don’t get obsessed by the numbers.

I also used my newfound energy to socialise with friends I hadn’t seen since I had stopped training. Just don’t get distracted, carried away and do too much!

This is a look of happiness at being on the bike, not a 'waaah' this
saddle hurts so much (although the latter is also true after 8 months of not riding).
3. Do your core

Once I was ready to start doing actual workouts, rather than just ‘being active’, I had to build up the strength in my muscles and ensure my tendons had the strength and elasticity to function. After all, you don’t want to get injured on your first sessions back after having so much time off.

Start with bodyweight strength sessions: plenty of core work, glute activation and lots of stretching and foam rolling afterwards. When you’ve been away from sport for a while your body is going to get a shock (I once got DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from packing a suitcase!).

4. Build up your strength

It’s also important that your tendons are ready to work, and for this you’ll need to do a loading programme. When you run, a force of over eight times your bodyweight is put through your body as your foot strikes the ground. Now considering that a mile run typically consists of 1500 foot contacts, 750 per foot – that’s quite a lot of force! And you need to be strong enough to deal with that force.

The Bosworth Clinic and Run 3D have created a return to running programme for injured runners or athletes who have had a long break. It consists of a number plyometric exercises such as jumps and hops to suitably load your tendons for running. I would highly recommend that all athletes returning to exercise after a period of inactivity do a similar programme to reduce your chance of injury on commencing exercise again.

5. Be prepared to feel VERY unfit!

On completion of the return to run program, I was super excited to be able to do some running! But, man was it hard work! Referring back to rule no. 1, I started very slowly. To begin with, I walked for 5 minutes then jogged for one minute and repeated this just a couple of times. As the weeks went by the ratios shifted and before I knew it I was jogging more than I was walking!

6. Keep a log

Although I said earlier not to get obsessed by data and numbers when you start back, there is a point in your training when you do need to keep a watchful eye over how much you are doing. This is useful to look back on if you feel yourself getting ill/injured. And it’s also great to watch your fitness levels rise.

I used Training Peaks to record my metrics daily, logging how much sleep I’d had, how tired I felt, my soreness levels and mood. When I started putting in my training sessions too, a Training Stress Score (TSS) is calculated, showing how difficult that session was. For me, it was all very trial and error, but so long as I had a log of my training and how it made me feel, I was able to better schedule my future training sessions and didn’t have any major relapses.

7. Don’t be tempted to compare to the ‘old’ you

It can be daunting to think that you’re so unfit compared to the old you, or that you are still x number of minutes away from your PB, or that you used to be able to ride 180km and now can only do 40km. Instead, look how much progress you’ve made. Six months ago I wasn’t able to walk as far as the village centre and last weekend I completed a Parkrun!!! It doesn’t matter that the Parkrun was over six minutes slower than my PB, I am celebrating the huge achievement of running the whole distance.

Be rational.

Look at the bigger picture.

Remember why you’re doing this.

It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

All of those clich├ęs apply here. The journey back to fitness after a period of time off will be difficult at times, but keep in mind your motivations and you’ll be back up and running before you know it. Don’t rush back to try and be at the stage you left off; enjoy the process of returning to fitness, watch your body change back to its more athletic shape, appreciate the post-run buzz, see the improvements you make each training session. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to have that extra rest day, or if you need just a bit more time to recover. Be kind to yourself.

And finally, always look at how far you’ve come, not how far you have left to go.

Psst! Not literally - you still have to look where you're going!

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Why you need to learn how to tumble turn....(and how to do it effectively)

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Below is a blog written by one of our coaches explaining why all triathletes should learn how to tumble turn, along with a video to help you start, plus her own experiences!

The dreaded tumble turn - the distinguishing feature in a pool that sets most triathletes apart from those who have come to the sport from a swimming background.  The sure sign that the person in the pool next to you (or more likely in front of you!) has been swimming from a very early age and you have taken up the sport of swimming in recent years, months or even weeks!

But why should a triathlete learn to tumble turn?   As coaches, we find that there are two types of non tumble turning triathletes (NTTTs), those that say they don't need to learn tumble turns as they only compete in open water swims and those who really want to learn how to do them but don't know where to start.

At Tri Training Harder, we would encourage all triathletes to learn how to tumble turn, regardless of where they race, if you're training in a pool then there is a benefit for you.

The first part of this blog is to provide reasons for the reluctant NTTT as to why they should learn, the second part takes you through the steps to successful tumble turning.

Better 'feel' for the water

Not feeling it; more tumble turn practice required!
As a consequence of being more than just horizontal in the water, you develop a certain sense of who is in control of what here.  By moving through the water in different ways, you will feel more confident and comfortable in the water.

Face down or head up?

View number one....

Undertaking long open water swims, you can spend up to two hours with your face in the water - there is no opportunity to take a little breather every 25 metres, or lift your head up high out of the water as you would do with a touch turn.  In fact, the only movement of your head should be to breathe or sight.

....view number two.
"One thing I learned during my 10k swim today was that unlike a bike, run or triathlon events where you get so much energy from the supporters and other competitors, in a long swim with your head down in the water, all of your energy and motivation has to come from within.

- Judith Ormston, Coached Athlete

Getting used to this in the pool will mean that when you are in open water your mind doesn't start to play tricks on you with the lack of sensory input.

Increased confidence in all types of conditions

Not scared, not scared, not scared

Because you spend a small part of the turn being upside down in the water, your confidence is automatically increased.  Why does this matter?  Imagine you are in a sea swim and the waves turn you upside down....easy - you can now deal with this, whereas before, I bet you wouldn't have coped well at all.

Potential to be faster

Not only does it make you faster as you spend less time turning at each end, it means you can keep up with faster swimmers in your training sessions.  Meaning you have someone to realistically chase. Meaning you get quicker.  Result!

Encourages better and more efficient breathing

We all know trickle breathing out through your nose and mouth is good for swimming, even more so when undertaking tumble turns (to stop the water going up your nose when you turn over), by learning to trickle breathe more effectively through the turns, this will help you trickle breathe more effectively overall.

Help promote a streamlined push off 

When you push off from the wall, you are in a prime position to be completely streamlined and get great propulsion from the wall (which equates to less swimming!) - once you have obtained your excellent streamlined position, you can carry this through, focusing on the key aspects of good posture, one of which is holding your body taut, for the rest of the length.

Core strength from dolphin kicking

A core workout and swim all in one.
After you have pushed off from the wall, with your great streamlined position, you can maximise this further with a brilliant dolphin kick. 
This style of kicking works on your core muscles which will in turn help stabilise you in the water and encourage a more taut position and therefore a better controlled swim stroke (and there you were thinking you were just coming to the pool to swim!).

Looks cool and makes you look like you mean business

Joking apart, the more confident you feel in the water, the more likely you are to swim better.  And let's face it, how many times have you looked at someone in the lane next to you and thought 'I wish I could do that'. Tumble turns will make you look (and ultimately feel) like you mean business - which is what you are there to do, right?

Being in the pool is the only time when a triathlete can't be interrupted - no mobile phones, no laptops, no Garmin (look out for the upcoming blog from Coach Alan on this one), so this is the one time you can get your head down, so to speak, and really get some quality training in.

Now that all your excuses to tumble turn have been eradicated, where do you start?

Learning to tumble turn

The video below shows how you can start from the basics and progress all the way through to full turns.

From a personal perspective, I was a true NTTT - after watching this video umpteen times, I braved the pool and followed the steps.

Yes, I aborted a few turns and swam into the wall.  Yes, I got it wrong and popped up in another lane, but do you know what?  After making the commitment to just keep doing it and keep practicing, I am now at the stage where every 2 out of 5 turns is a good one - this is progress!  I am also much more confident about being upside down in the water and being dunked in an open water swim, happy days.

Good luck and don't forget, for every excuse you have as to why you don't need to tumble turn, we've got a reason as to why you should.

Coach Sorrel

If you are interested in being coached by Sorrel, please contact us by completing this form or contact us at

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Elaine Garvican: Ironman 70.3 Dublin race Report: Not Irish enough to be lucky?!

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Below is the race report from IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin for Race Team athlete, Elaine Garvican. Elaine was competing in this race in her build towards her A race for the year which is IRONMAN Weymouth. 

It’s just under 4 weeks till Weymouth now, so Philip (coach) and I thought it was a good time to do one more 70.3 race and the Emerald Isle looked like a beautiful place to do so. I have a wee bit of Irish blood in my veins (and an Irish surname) and what I could remember of previous visits to Dublin were fun, so I didn’t take much persuading. Turned out to be a race beset by a fair few issues, so maybe I should have put up more resistance!

By my reckoning, at 15°C the water in Scotsman’s Bay was pretty cold, but under 18°C, Ironman allow AG athletes to wear neoprene booties, so I was fully decked out in those plus a thermal swim cap. I still wouldn’t say I was warm exactly, but I’ve definitely swum in colder water and my chest didn’t go tight and my hands didn’t claw so that’s a success for me. Special thanks to Parys Edwards who, at the practice swim session, had pointed out some much more obvious sighting landmarks than the yellow buoys, which seemed a really long way away. It was a rolling start within waves, which I’d not experienced before, but which worked pretty well from my point of view, being off in the first wave and hence experiencing minimal congestion. My only complaint was that we weren’t allowed in the water beforehand, but you can’t have everything, so I’m told. Things went pretty well until about 400m from the end, when I managed to plant my hand smack into the center of a pretty large jellyfish. I have never been stung by a jellyfish before and it is not an experience I ever want to repeat if possible, but to be fair to the jellyfish, one minute he was happily minding his own business, and then next he was basically ambushed with a belly punch and then rudely thrown backwards so it was probably not terribly pleasant for him either. Initially, it felt like my right hand and forearm had brushed through stinging nettles, but as time went on it became more and more painful and felt like a diffuse, repeated electric shock.

Elaine is riding a Boardman Air TTE this year,
provided by Bridgtown Cycles

Out of the swim in a pretty average time, long T1 (putting on socks, armwarmers and an extra bike jersey to ward off the cold) and it was out onto the streets of Dublin.

The bike course is a slightly drunken lollipop shape, finishing in Phoenix Park. It’s more or less flat, with only a couple of short inclines and I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wasn’t for the increasing pain in my arm. It made it really hard to concentrate on much at all and every time I persuaded myself it was as bad as it was going to get, it would increase again. I had a little moment when I contemplated crying, then quitting and then pulled myself together and tried to think about something else. Then it started to rain. It’s probably fair to say I wasn’t at my happiest at this point. The rain also made the roads quite slippery – the marshals all did an excellent job of warning us of oncoming corners, potholes or manhole covers lying in potential ambush, but a lot of guys seemed not to heed their warnings as I saw two slide across the road ahead of me and one ride into the opposite hedge which didn’t make me want to take any risks myself. Nutrition went in, most of the watts I wanted came out and I stayed shiny side up, so all in all things could definitely have been worse. 

Elaine on the podium: 2nd in her age group

T2 is not available on Saturday before the race (you hand in your T2 bag at the swim location the day before and it’s transported over for you), so it was a bit of an unknown riding into the park but thankfully now the rain had stopped and it did look very pretty. My Garmin’s quick release mount broke in the final 10 miles of the bike course, which meant I couldn’t clip it to my wrist strap, and then I managed to forget it entirely and had to backtrack for it, so T2 was as slow as it’s earlier counterpart and I started to wonder if any part of this race was going to go smoothly. Three well-supported laps of a flat run course does fortunately result in less room for comedy errors, although I started a little too conservatively I think. It seems Paul Kaye and Joanne Murphy credit my imagination with an impressive amount of realism though, as neither would believe me when I told them about my jellyfish sting. By half way I was fantasizing about the medical tent, under the entirely mistaken belief that they would have something which would magically take away the pain, and fueled by this, I managed to run my way up to 2nd in AG and 4th amateur female.

All smiles after some great TTH performances
 at IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin
For the record, peeing on a jellyfish sting is a complete myth; paracetamol is entirely ineffective as a pain reliever but after 5 or 6 shots of rum you finally cease to care; it’s a surprisingly long way from T2 to the place you park your car before getting on the bus to the swim start and I’m 1/16th Irish. Roll on Weymouth.
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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Stryd's New Foot Pod

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About a year ago, after the IRONMAN World Championships, we wrote an article about Stryd: a new brand that measures power during run sessions with a power meter. (You can read it here). It gets a little bit geeky...!

The new footpod
After a further year of data collection, and a prolonged period of analysis, Stryd have developed an update. Now you can use their foot pod - that clips onto any shoe - in conjunction with a Garmin TRI Heart Rate strap. And this links into your Garmin App for those of you who are Garmin users.  

Stryd will now work with your Garmin

Why are we mentioning this here? Well…watch this space as Stryd could be coming to the Tri Training Harder Holidays in 2017! A huge amount of data being added to on a daily basis, and as a result there are regularly breakthrough findings made with regards how we understand running and how we can go about quantifying improvements. Power for running has arrived and it is starting to become a very valuable tool.

For more information, just email us:

The Tri Training Harder Team
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Monday, 15 August 2016

A week in the life: Elaine Garvican

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As part of a series of blogs from the Tri Training Harder Race Team athletes, we get a glimpse into how top level amateur athletes go about organising training around their lives (or vice versa, as the case may be). This week it’s the turn of Elaine Garvican to let us in on what she gets up to on a “typical” week; taken from a couple of weeks ago. Elaine is a vet, and until recently was employed in research at a university whilst also running her own small business (supplying veterinary diagnostics). However, about a month ago, her husband’s military job required them both to relocate several hundred miles up to the north of England, so as a result, she is focusing more on her own company, whilst also training for IRONMAN® Weymouth later this year (and looking for a new job!)

To find out more about Elaine, head over to her bio

Elaine training in the sunny Algarve, Portugal


Overslept and missed my early morning swim window – I am a bit sleepy as a result of having been away since Thursday night supporting at IMUK. The brilliant performances by fellow race team athlete Jason Walkley and several TTH coached athletes and holiday guests made it more than worth the fatigue though. FedEx bring me a large shipment and I manage an efficient use of time throughout the morning with a focused block of work at my computer, catching up on emails from the end of last week, orders and paperwork associated with my business before getting to the pool for a 3.5km Endurance swim.

Since we only recently moved into our current house, there is still quite a lot of sorting out to do, so unpacking and housework ate up most of the afternoon. Then a 2 hour Fartlek run – summer has finally arrived, so it’s a warm one! Come back completely covered in the drowned corpses of all the bugs who landed on my sweaty skin – so glamourous! Stretching, shower, food and some time to chill.


3km Technique swim. I used to hate doing these, but over time I’ve come to not mind them so much. A lot of band-only 50m reps in this one! 6 months ago, I couldn’t swim 25m with a band without practically losing my toenails on the bottom of the pool, so this is quite an improvement too. Home to book in another two deliveries, from two different shipping companies, meanwhile fulfilling a few more quote requests, filing expenses and starting the laborious task of telling a hundred different companies what my new address is. 

45 mins of maintenance core before lunch, talk to a client on the phone and make a chicken risotto before the lure of the sunshine becomes too much and I go out for an easy ride. Being new to the area, I use it as an opportunity to scope out some potential hills for forthcoming hill rep sessions. Dinner, stretch and roller, wash my filthy bike, watch an episode of The Tudors on DVD and go to bed.

Elaine has worked hard this year with her Coach, Philip Hatzis

Start the day with 3.5km swim with 2.4km at CSS. I feel tired today, so I’m pleased I still manage to hit the pace, since my swimming can be pretty hit and miss. Home via the Post Office and Wicks. Work emails and telephone calls, then package up a couple of shipments for dispatch. While waiting for TNT (who seem always to aim for extreme end of any collection window) I set up my turbo in the garage. A truly brutal interval set on the turbo during which I went through 6 bottles of drink left me pretty wobbly and not particularly enamored with cycling, but slightly better informed about news in the triathlon world thanks to a couple of hours of podcasts. Stretch, eat a giant plate of food then spend the remainder of the evening catching up with invoices and housework.

Back to the pool for a 3km Speed swim set – it’s a time-consuming session to get done, because of the high numbers of “best effort” reps and consequently long recovery times. There’s an aquaerobics class on in the other half of the pool though, who are a welcome distraction when my arms – and lungs – start to burn. I expect they would say the same thing about the girl manically charging up and down the fast lane… On my way home, I stop off at Boots to buy a few gallons of suncream, which likely signals the death toll for our current glorious weather. A second breakfast refuels me for sending off another shipment, making some international payments and the general, never-ending faff involved in running a small business. After lunch, bike hill reps; the weather broke which meant I didn’t roast while doing them, but suncream appears to be just as attractive a deathbed for bugs as pure sweat. I am usually more organized with food, but moving has meant having to run down the stocks of pre-home-cooked dinners in the freezer, so we knock together a quick pasta bake. While it’s cooking, I stretch and roller and we watch a bit more of The Tudors.

Elaine competing last weekend in the
Allerthorpe Classic Triathlon


I volunteer on a Helpline and today I’m on call, which limits training, as I have to be available to talk to people who may be experiencing significant degrees of distress and could potentially be suicidal. The Helpline runs 24 hours a day, and my shift is 8am Friday – 8am Saturday, so I head out for my 1hr easy run first thing. It rained overnight and the air feels fresher, but it’s still pretty warm. My loop is 60% road, 40% off road, and no pace is too easy or slow. I try to concentrate on form, as there’s a risk of running becoming sloppy while it takes a couple of kilometers to wake everything up. Minor stuff with work and then 45 mins of maintenance core while listening to my favourite podcast. After lunch, it’s the more boring practicalities of life: I sort out a “Dependent’s Pass” for camp and have a look round the excellently stocked gym, tackle the never-ending cycle of laundry, then do a big food shop – I’m a massive advocate of buying in bulk if you can afford it and I like my freezer to be full of food, especially heading into big training weeks. With this in mind, I cook (a LOT) extra for dinner, so that several portions can be quickly heated in the coming days if needed. Spend the evening writing a letter to my prison penpal.


Lie in! Then it’s a Hill reps run session during which I am also eaten alive by various biting insects. Done and showered by lunchtime and we have a couple of hours to further work on the organization of all our stuff inside the house before a group of friends arrive from London. This evening is the summer ball at my husband’s regiment; quite a lot of food, quite a lot of alcohol, a respectable volume of fireworks and quite a lot of fun. Not a lot of sleep though.


I decided to ride a local 100 mile sportif starting near Scarborough which means an early start. A lot of triathletes look down on sportives, but I think they’re great in several circumstances – it gives me the opportunity to learn a new area and ride with new people, plus the mechanical and nutritional support can be extremely useful. Heading out onto the Yorkshire moors for the first time when your sense of direction is as poor as mine and you don’t know where to refill bottles wouldn’t equate to getting the best out of the training session in my opinion. Plus, in all likelihood, I would not have plotted a route quite as tough as this one – it takes me almost 7 hours of riding to climb all 2,386m. It was a lot of fun though, the views were absolutely stunning and the weather was about as good as we’re likely to get. A 10 minute run off the bike always earns me some weird looks, but nicely rounds off this week’s training – home for more stretching, rollering and a lot of eating and sleeping!
Elaine riding in the Yorkshire moors

Weekly stats:

Total training time: 26.5hrs
Swim: 4.5hrs
Bike: 16hrs
Run: 4.5hrs
Core: 1.5hrs
Total week’s TSS: 1388

This was quite a big week, as I head in to my final phase of training for IRONMAN® Weymouth. I do have regular rest days, so this was also slightly unusual in that it was formed of 7 consecutive days of training.
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Monday, 8 August 2016

Tri Training Harder's Review of IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin 2016

Welcome to our IRONMAN® 70.3 Dublin Course Review. Here we aim to give you a good insight into the course, the location and what to expect as well as extra tips for spectators and advice for nutrition and training.


IRONMAN® 70.3 Dublin is located in and around Phoenix Park, Dublin. The race HQ is ideally situated for competitors travelling across Ireland and from other countries due to the fact it is located close to the centre of one of Europe’s busiest tourist destinations. Why not combine your visit to Dublin with some sightseeing?

The race HQ, start and T1 are located on the East coast of Ireland, South East of the City in Scotsman’s Bay, Dun Laoghaire. T2 and the finish are located in the same place on this course- right in the heart of Phoenix Park in the North West corner of Dublin City. 


For accommodation you have a lots of options:
  1. 1. Hotels – Lots of variety both in the City itself or on the outskirts.
    2. Houses & apartments to rent – great for groups and can be very inexpensive if booked in advance with a large party.
    3. B&B – these get booked up very quickly so you will have to move quickly!

Nirvana Europe are the Official Travel Agent to the IRONMAN European Series, providing accommodation, travel and event services to athletes and spectators.

IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin is a sea swim similar
to IRONMAN Wales (pictured above)


The swim is a 1.9km single anti-clockwise loop. The swim entry and exit are two different points in the bay so you will not be exiting the water at the same point you entered. Remember that this is a sea swim. Wetsuits are mandatory.

Top tip: Use a landmark on the pier for your sighting in the first half of the swim and then pick a landmark on the mainland for your sighting in the second half.

Cut off time: 1 hour 10 minutes after your wave start, with a further 10 minutes allowed to reach bike mount


T1 at this race is a very standard, compact affair. The run from the water exit to transition is not too far but as always don’t overdo it in your excitement and push yourself into the red with a short sprint. Take time to reflect on what is to come.

In T1 you will find your own numbered blue bag (given to you at registration) in which we would recommend having:

  • – Helmet*
  • – Race belt with number attached*
  • – Bike Shoes
  • – Sunglasses
  • – Talc for your bike shoes to soak up any excess moisture
  • – Small towel
  • – Nutrition for the bike
  • – Spare water for rinsing your mouth out after the swim
  • – Socks
  • – Warm layers

Your wetsuit and any other discarded swim kit is to be put in this bag to be re-hung by a volunteer.


This is a very flat course and if you love posting a fast bike split then you will be in your element here!

The bike course for IRONMAN® 70.3 Dublin consists of a 56 mile point to point ride with a single loop from Dun Laoghaire and finishing in Phoenix Park in Dublin city centre. From T1, athletes will hug the coastline heading north towards Dublin city.

The next section of the course is truly remarkable. One of Europe’s busiest cities is closed down to allow for race competitors to head east along the river. After passing all the landmarks of Dublin City, riders will emerge on the other side of the city and catch their first glimpse of Phoenix Park where the run course will take place. 

Once past Phoenix Park, athletes will head into a single loop which will be completed in a clockwise direction. The loop is around 40km in distance and once you finish the loop you will only have a short ride back to Phoenix Park to commence the run course.

There is only 408m of climbing and 371m of descending in the whole of the bike course so this is a very flat bike course by any counts.

Cut off time: 5 hours 30 minutes after your wave start, with a further 10 minutes allowed to reach the run exit


At T2 in Phoenix park you will come off your bike, rack it, then head into the marquee and pick up your RED transition bag. In this will have all your run kit: (for example)
  • – Trainers
  • – Run nutrition
  • – Appropriate extra clothing for bad weather
  • – Socks & Sunglasses (if not worn on the bike leg!)

Your helmet and any other discarded bike kit is to be put in this bag and left in the tent to be re-hung by a volunteer.


The run continues in a similar vain to the bike course: flat. There is very little elevation change during the run course. The course is predominantly covered on small paved tracks through the grounds of Phoenix Park and the whole run is contained within the park.

The atmosphere during the run will be a sight to behold if 2015 was anything to go by. The spectators were 5 to 10 deep down the central driveway of the park which is where the finish chute is situated. Athletes must complete 3 laps of the run course before making their way down the famous red carpet to collect their medal. 

Make use of the feed stations that are available on each lap, especially during the first two laps- you will want all the energy you can get for that finish sprint!

Cut off time: 8 hours 30 minutes after your wave start.


Once you have crossed the line, received your medal and T-shirt, you will be shown into the finishers tent where there will be food, drink, massage tables and also your own WHITE bag. In this, we would recommend putting in:

  • – Clean socks and comfortable shoes
  • – Towel
  • – Full change of clothes, especially if the weather is bad.


Our top tips for giving your spectators the best experience at IRONMAN® 70.3 Dublin.

1) Where is best to spectate for the swim?
It is not particularly easy to get from the swim location on the coast to Phoenix Park so you may want to consider whether it is worth the early start here or whether you are better off finding yourself a nice spot on the bike course closer to the city itself.

2) Where is best to spectate on the bike?
If you base yourself close to Phoenix Park then athletes will be passing the park on the City (East) side on their way out to the loop. Basing yourself here will also mean you can take advantage of the bars and restaurants on the West of the City while waiting for your athlete to arrive on the run course!

3) Where to spectate on the run?
The central road through Phoenix Park was stacked 5 to 10 people deep at the inaugural event in 2015. The atmosphere here was electric and well worth arriving early to secure a space on the barrier to cheer on your athlete!

Gear and Equipment


This will be a wetsuit swim, so make sure you have one that is well fitted and that you have tried beforehand (walking around like a lemon in your living room doesn't count, get in a lake or the sea).

Take a couple of spare swim caps with you- these could be very useful extra head warmth on the day underneath the one you will be given.


This is a very flat course so a standard gear setup will be perfect, along with any aero kit you may have. A time trial bike is recommended if you have this luxury, if not then some clip on aero bars will offer a huge gain.

Make sure you have enough water cages for your nutrition plan and have got your bike fully serviced or at least well cleaned, lubricated and checked (especially tyres and brakes) at least a week before the race so that you can ride with confidence without putting yourselves (or anyone else riding near you) in danger.


The terrain is mixed for the run and will be a little weather dependant. If the ground is dry, then there will be no problems, however if the ground is at all wet, it can get muddy on the grassy sections. It is worth training in and bringing a set of 'regular' race trainers and some which are designed for trail running too so that you can choose on the day. Make sure trainers are well worn-in pre race, the worst thing possible is blisters during the run leg! Remember, Ipods, MP3 players or similar are not permitted on the course. Your race number must be worn on your front, visible for photographers and marshals to see.


All your hard work and dedication in the lead up to this will be completely 100% wasted without a viable nutrition plan on race day! For a more in-depth look at how you could tackle your nutrition plan for the race, click here.

Bike Course Feed Stations:

These will be found at 25km (St. Mochta's Church), 45km (Pro-Tech Autos R156) and 65km (Maynooth Post-Primary School).

At these feed stations you will find: PowerBar Drink & Energize Bars, Water and Bananas (cut in half)

Run Course Feed Stations:

There are 3 feed stations on each of the 3 run laps, each between 2 and 4km apart.

At these feed stations you will find:

  • – PowerBar Drinks and Gels, 
  • – Water, 
  • – Cola
  • – Bananas


Tri Training Harder, the official coach for IRONMAN® UK Events in 2016 can be of help in a number of ways:

  • – Download your own bespoke training plan for your event here.
  • – Have a coach help, who will build your training plan for you with options that suit your needs and budget here.
  • – Phone consultation with an experiened coach to answer your personal training questions here.
  • – A training holiday in the Algarve for a week of training surrounded by like-minded individuals and experienced coaches to answer any of your questions!

Registration for 2017

Don't want to miss out? Go to to re-register for 2017 events.

We hope this review has helped you. Happy Training!

The Tri Training Harder team

The IRONMAN®, 70.3® and 'M-Dot' logos are all registered trademarks of the World Triathlon Corporation. Used herin with permission.

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