Friday, 21 April 2017

Chris Ashford – Fastest British Athlete in Boston

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Chris last season at the Reigate Half Marathon (1:13:29, 2nd)

Chris Ashford, coached athlete, completed the Boston Marathon on the 19th April. He was 87th out of about 30,000 runners who entered the 2017 event finishing the distance in 2:33:45. He was also the fastest British athlete home by over 7 minutes!

Chris, is a member of BRAT Club (Birmingham Running, Athletics and Triathlon Club) and adds this race result to his impressive 12th place overall at the Greater Manchester Marathon (2:31:44) only two weeks earlier which earned him a place in the Master’s Marathon Age Group Championship where he will be wearing his first England Vest. His coach, Philip Hatzis and he are looking to break the 2:30 mark when he competes in the Championships held in Chester. To date, it just hasn’t happened either through injury or positioning in the start. His PB of 2:30:23 at Frankfurt marathon last year was mere seconds off the mark (less than one second faster per mile...!) but he knows it is within his grasp (especially if he had started in a better place!)


Chris, BRAT Left, running with team mates from BRAT

As he prepares for the Championships in October, he will also be racing multiple ultra-distance events leading into the summer – Look out for him trying to better his silver medal from 2016 in the Comrades Marathon in early June (87km). 

We thought you would join us in wishing him congratulations so far and all the best for the rest of the season.
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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tri Something New!

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Below is a blog written by our Holiday Manager in Portugal, Renata Kaničárová. Renata has been our Holiday Manager for three years now and knows how things work in Portugal better than anybody! She keeps everything running smoothly and ensures that from the moment you land in Faro to the moment you are dropped back off at the airport, you do not need to worry about a thing! 



2016's Tri Something New guests enjoying a well-earned ice cream

This is my third season working for Tri Training Harder and I can honestly say that this week is my favourite week in the season. It's not that I don't like 'normal' triathletes, not at all. In fact I would be surrounded by athletes the whole day and sleep in my cycling kit if I could - but my friends say this is a bit weird. Tri Something New is an extraordinary week where you can be sure that you will NOT hear any of these words: watts, triathlon races, maximum heart rate, VO2, VDOT and CSS.

Holiday guests by the stunning Algarve coastline

TRI Something New is a training holiday for complete beginners interested in getting fit. This specific week is not only for triathletes but for people who would like to get a bit of motivation and encouragement to get in shape, do exercise and have some fun as well.

What can you expect from this week?

The training during this week includes scenic country walks, work out sessions, core work and pilates sessions, swimming, cycling lessons with learning about signalling, cornering and braking, building confidence on a bicycle as well as learning how to like riding uphill (yes it can be enjoyable!!). Most of these activities include a coffee and cake stop or an ice cream stop! I can promise there will be lots of fitness sessions, laughs and great sun tans. 



How much does this week cost? 


The price for a full week (4th - 11th of May) is £849 (4th - 7th May) and long weekend £499 (4th- 8th May). 

What's included in the price?

Aluminium Road Bike (optional carbon bike for £50)

Helmet Hire

Pedals - of your own choice

Fitness lessons with a qualified coach

Fully Guided Rides

Video Analysis

Food & Drink

Transfers

Are you interested in experiencing something new, getting in shape combined with fun together? 

You can see more information or book your training holiday on this link or contact us on holidays@tritrainingharder.com and we can give you more information.
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Friday, 7 April 2017

Paul Hayward - life as a coached athlete

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Below is the first of Paul's blogs as to what it is like to be a coached athlete with Tri Training Harder - Paul was the winner of our free coaching competition, follow his story and experiences leading up to Ironman Austria!

When I made the decision to sign up to Ironman Austria this July I think I fell into the same trap as nearly everyone facing their second Ironman.   I spent some time looking at how I had trained for Ironman Wales (Don Fink’s intermediate plan) and what my weaknesses were; swimming and maybe the bike, and I decided that the best way forward would be a new TT Bike - as that would surely get me to the red carpet and Paul Kaye’s arms quicker?

I never really considered that there was another option, and looking back at this approach now it is crazy but an approach I am sure a lot of people do not take; getting a coach.  When I  thought of “coaching”, which is often half the cost of a new bike, I thought that it was reserved for “good” athletes or at least “proper athletes”. It certainly was not something I thought would benefit normal people like me (15 hour Ironman Wales) and I am probably not alone in this mindset.

The last 6 weeks have shown just how wrong this thought process was.

This month sees my 12 week Ironman training plan with Tri Training Harder and Coach Sorrel Williams begin - however the work / effort she has put into my training to date, to get me ready for the 12 week plan, is fantastic.
That all important first meeting
The results are (already) beyond what I thought was possible and if this was the extent of the coaching - I would already be very happy. To explain this a little more fully, when we met over a coffee to discuss my 12 week training plan, my current training regime and what my personal needs / ambitions were it became apparent that swimming was not just an issue for me, it was actually a fear.

I found myself telling Sorrel “if I make the swim” on numerous occasions when discussing Austria. Despite her questioning me, I was reminded (several times! - Sorrel) that I had never not made the swim cutoff, something I had not even considered, it became obvious that I just did not believe I was good enough come race morning when I lined up with 3,000 other athletes at the back.

Learning to love swimming!
Put simply I am always a mess. I base this feeling on the fact that I could not swim 400 metres in the pool on the bounce, I regularly took breaks after 4 / 5 lengths and there was just no focus to my swimming.  This was presumably because I hated it and I never felt I was good enough despite lessons, help from friends and Don Fink’s plan.
Sorrel picked up on this straight away and made immediate changes to Fink’s master plan and my training - a speed session, an endurance session and a Critical Swim Session (I would not even know the pain this was to bring) and suggested quite persuasively that I join my local Triathlon Club for their swimming sessions.

Love those beeps


6 weeks from the date of our first meeting I can swim 400m unbroken in just over 8 minutes and my estimated swim time has gone from 1 hour 50 minutes to somewhere under 1 hour 30 minutes on current times. I now find myself getting in the pool and getting on with the swim, smiling when it is a Thursday for club night swim and jokingly referring to myself as “the fish” to my girlfriend and the dog when they ask how I got on.

Well the dog gets told really, as I doubt he cares so much.




Had you met me before Sorrel then you would not have thought this is possible. These results have had a kick on effect to the rest of my training, my cycling has suddenly gone up with my Zone 2 average pace much better than last year already and she has got me firing and enjoying the training already, before “the real training” even starts.
Re-fuelling is important


To go back to the new bike - it looks good in the garage, but it makes me think what little value it would have added to my training on its own. I am sure I would have made the swim, the bike and run, but I doubt I would have made 20 minutes on the TT Bike based on my old training plan and I certainly would not be in the mindset that I now have due to having some help, some focus and some support.

I am pretty excited to see what I can achieve now, as “normal athlete” but with a coach  suddenly this journey has become much more exciting.  

We look forward to Paul's next update when he talks through the first few weeks of coaching, using Training Peaks and his ongoing relationship with swimming.

If you are interested in being coached by any one of our coaches, please contact us by completing this form or if you have any questions, email coaching@tritrainingharder.com




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Monday, 27 March 2017

Where's your head at?

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Psychology and performance, especially in sport go hand in hand [Check out this blog here about how we work alongside psychologists for the very best for the athletes in sport and life]. Here Sorrel talks about some great tips and ideas to implement in your sporting toolkit.

As a coach, there are sometimes occasions when I have post-race conversations with athletes where things haven't gone according to plan.

There are two types of athlete in this situation; ones that cope well with unexpected changes and ones that don't.

It isn't related to personality types, genders, race distance or even experience...the difference is those that spend time training their mind to work with them, rather than against them.

I am fairly sure that every athlete arrives at the start line to do their best - however, certain things can occur throughout the course of the race that can knock people off their balance.  The question is how to remain calm and level headed and cope with whatever it is that has happened or is happening.

There are a number of strategies that can be used to help plan and prepare for the unknown - I realise that planning for the unknown is quite a challenge because if you know something is going to happen, then it isn't unknown!

However, here are a number of strategies that may be useful to make sure you stay cool, calm and collected on race day.

The 'What If' scenario


Spend some weeks in the run up to your race thinking of things that might throw you off course or that you are nervous/worried about.  Then take that 'what if' and provide your brain with a sensible response to the situation.  The more you go through your 'what if' list, the more you will be able to cope with it if it becomes a reality.


For example, what if I can't find my spot in transition? That's ok, all the racks are numbered and I have my number plastered all over my body, I just need to look down and find the number and follow the racking numbers.


I've swum in worse.....



What if the sea swim is really rough? That's ok, I remember back to the time I practised swimming in rough water and it wasn't so bad.




          Don't be grumpy - you've practised this!

What if I get a puncture on the bike? That's ok, I have practised replacing a tube lots of times and I can do it.


For the things that you are concerned about, sit down quietly and go through the what if's that are troubling you.  It may help to enlist a friend/training buddy/partner to help you as they may notice something that you hadn't considered.  Once complete, then keep the list and refresh your mind with what you will do if it happens - and add to the list, or take things away.

Note:  'What if my Garmin comes off in the swim?  That's ok, I didn't wear it to start off with' is the acceptable response here....wearing a spare in the swim is not!

The 'So What' response

This one is similar to the What if scenario, but covers those eventualities that you hadn't thought of. Getting into the mindset of so what is quite easy....repeat the sentence that has entered your head and follow it up with a so what.

For example; the start line is further back than I thought it would be - so what?  Nothing really, it's further back - end of conversation.

There should be a feed station at 3km in the run and my Garmin has gone off and it isn't here - so what?  So keep running until you get to it, they're hardly going to move it after you indignantly stand there and insist that there should be a feed station there!

That person over there has a better bike than me - so what?  They have a better bike than you....and?

Staying in the moment


It's important to concentrate on the task at hand, not the task that is coming up.  During the swim the focus should be on your swimming.  Nothing else.  Thinking of all those things you have been practising and improving...swimming with rhythm, finishing off your stroke, sighting well.  This isn't the time to be thinking about the bike, the run, or transition.  The time to move on from swimming is when you haul yourself up out of the lake/run up the beach/jump out of the pool and run to transition.  Then you can think about something else, and it should be transition...going through the mantra in your head of the things you have practiced (if you want some tips, have a look at the 'From zero to hero' transition blog here), once through transition, you can think about the bike and so on.


Unhelpful chatter

It's not unusual for your mind to start nagging at you when the going gets tough.  A common one is a little voice in your head that says 'this is hard, this hurts...let's slow down or better still; stop'.   The trick here is to recognise when your mind is becoming destructive and to actively do something about it.  Imagining you have two dials in your head; one with a big + sign on it, and one with a big - sign on it, visualising the turning down of the negative talk and turning up the positive talk is one way of coping with this.

Distract Pessimistic Pete in your head by thinking of something else; it's well known that Paula Radcliffe would count in her head when running a marathon.  I know from personal experience that when I need to be distracted from negative thoughts and more focused, counting to 200 on the run = 1km.  Bonus!



Positive self talk



Once the negative dial has been turned down, the positive phrases can come to the forefront of your mind.  It's worth practising these in your training sessions to see which ones work for you; 'I can do this' might work better if replaced with 'Look at me, I am doing this', or 'I am a powerful swimmer' with the word powerful to coincide with the propulsion part of your stroke.  Lyrics from songs can also be very powerful, not only because they have a little tune attached to them, but they often mean something very personal to you.


Be careful though, you also need to stay in the moment, so don't get so distracted that you wander off course or forget to hold good form.  Counting breaths, arm strokes, pedal strokes are all good ways of distraction but also staying in the moment and having a calming effect on your mind.

These are by no means the definitive list of things to help with the mental aspect of training and racing, watch out for further blogs on this topic, but in the meantime have a practice at the above and hopefully they will help you to remain focused on the task at hand to result in a more successful and enjoyable race.
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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Nutritional Top Tips

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Helen Money, Nutrition and Sports Nutrition Specialist
at The Bosworth Clinic
Helen Money of The Bosworth Clinic and our on-side nutritional professional talks through her top three common mistakes seen amongst triathletes when it comes to nutrition and a few ‘starters for ten’ to get you on your way.



Most athletes worry about whether they are doing enough training but what they should be worrying about is whether they are doing enough (nutritional) eating! Why don’t people put the same impetus on their nutrition when over the course of a season it consists of up to 1500 meals? This is definitely worth a read....

TTH: Helen, what would you say are the top three common mistakes or faux-pas that you see when coming into contact with triathletes?

1. Eating too little.

Triathletes are a unique breed, they are training multiple times in a day and they are asking their body to do a huge amount. The big mistake they make is forgetting that they are not normal. They do not need to follow normal guidelines. Generally speaking.


TTH: Is this more common to one sex than the other?

Interestingly, no. This sort of issue comes from different generalised reasons between men and women, but both are as bad as each other. Ladies tend to be more influenced by what mainstream (media) thoughts say that the average person should be taking on board whereas men tend to try the latest or newest quick fix or are lazier in their cooking and eating habits. [Are you interested in losing weight for your sport – read this blog before you start.]

2. Chasing Fads

The latest new style of doing weight loss is probably one of the most common adversaries to performance that athletes are letting themselves down with. There is so much media out there with new methods which either don’t have enough information, or do not have suitable studies or extensive studies. Equally, they rarely have direct links to actual performance benefits. [See this link for thoughts on some current fads.]

TTH: Do you have an example?

Well, it is never good to bad mouth any type in particular, but take ketagenic (Fat only) diets for example. In a nutshell, the reasoning being it is to improve your body’s ability to fuel from fats first. Scientific proof and decisions are still out for consideration over it. However, athletes need years to fully adapt and then on top of that, the performance levels dip and then resort back to a similar level to what they were before. At the moment, it is very fashionable amongst the endurance athletes. Yet the additional stresses it places on the body for the every day person are just not clear though usually negative. Sometimes it may be the absolutely correct call for the athlete. Surely though that decision needs to be based on fact rather than theory?

3. Thinking of nutrition as a separate entity

Nutrition is completely inherent with you, your life, your well-being, your training, your work and everything. Your body, especially as an athlete, performs best with the right fuel, dose of fuel, type of fuel and quantity; different times and scenarios impact each person differently and you need to ensure that you cover off nutrition in all aspects of what you do. If you download a generic training programme for a 5km/10km/IRONMAN, you will get a generic (safe), result. However, if you work with someone you are likely to accelerate that learning curve significantly. The same is true, only more so, with regards to your nutrition and how you go about making positive changes. What works with you, may not work for anyone else. Increasingly we are surprised by increased carbohydrate content through racing, or critical times required for positive protein synthesis after exercise which fits into your lifestyle.

TTH: So that’s what not to do, what would be your quick fire “food for thought” to help athletes out this season?

  1. Put equal planning into nutrition as training – nutrition should be planned not just happen.
  2. Make everything you eat add to your performance (and wellbeing)
  3. Always take on nutrition as recovery straight after training. Without adequate recovery athletes can get run down as training increases during the lead up to race season.  It also reduces risk of injury and therefore improves training consistency and finally, it helps to prepare the athlete for their next training session
  4. Start monitoring hydration needs during training – fluid requirements vary with intensity of training, weather, clothing and between individuals. Information gained from monitoring hydration during training can then be used when forming a race plan. Check out: this handy formula
 to work out your sweat rates
  5. Be conscious of the intended training outcome from a session and match nutrition accordingly
  6. Create a meal plan and set up a regular delivery order for foods needed.
  7. Keep snacks in bags, glove compartments and desk drawers - be prepared
  8. Set aside time to cook and prepare for the coming week – think ahead

It is critical that if you are serious about anything to do with nutritional management you get help by someone who has your interest at heart. It is easy to read something or be sold something which comes across as perfect to you, but without the correct initial analysis and on going checks, are you sure? 


Do you feel you could benefit from some expert nutritional advice?
Follow this link to see how we can integrate your coaching programme with expert nutritional advice to keep you fuelled and in the best possible conditional all through the season.

With our coaching packages, you can set up a nutritionalist to ensure that the training and also the fuelling are appropriate for each day and each session.
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What’s in a word?

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Below is a guest blog written by coached athlete Judith Ormston. Jude has been coached by Tri Training Harder since 2014 and has spent a number of weeks at Tri Training Harder's training base in the Algarve over the past few years.


My triathlon journey began in 2014. As someone who ran a bit, cycled a bit and had recently taken up swimming again, it seemed like an obvious challenge.

I entered two triathlons that year: the London Triathlon and the Brownlee Tri at Harewood House - both at Sprint distance. When I first entered, I made my partner Karl promise not to tell anyone at all. Which probably seems a bit strange, but I was worried that people would think it ridiculous and laugh at the idea. I was also terrified I would fail, in which case, I didn’t want anyone else to know about it! After all, I am in my mid-40s, overweight and had been the unsporty kid at school - the one who was always picked last for any team games; the one who walked the cross-country course. Surely the last person who could possibly do a triathlon..? But do it I did - the London Triathlon went far better than I expected and the Brownlee Tri was so much tougher! As I finished that one, I told Karl ‘that is my limit’.

Eyeing up doing the Castle Triathlon series in 2015, we decided some coaching would be a good idea and joined up with Tri Training Harder at the end of 2014. 

Jude racing in the London Triathlon

Around that time, there was a word that I started to struggle with. That word was ‘triathlete’. I found it hard not to wince when the word was used to describe me - I mean, sure I’d done a couple of triathlons, but that didn’t mean I could call myself a triathlete? After all - I didn’t look anything like the triathletes I saw on TV or in magazine articles. I didn’t even look much like most of the people I met on the Tri Training Harder training camps in Portugal. I felt that calling myself a triathlete was somehow fake or fraudulent. It just couldn’t be a word that described me…

In 2015, I completed all 5 of the Castle Triathlon series at ‘Sprint Plus’ distance (800m swim; 40k bike; 8k run) and well as London Triathlon Sprint again - and there were some tough, dark moments to overcome to do so. I struggled with the Open Water swim: hyperventilating my way through Lough Cutra & Chomondeley, pre-race nerves turning to dread before I even entered the water. At Castle Howard, I cried in T2 as I was so exhausted from the hilly bike and my back & hips hurt so much that I couldn’t see how on earth I was going to complete a hilly 8k run. In Chantilly, the easiest course by far, I was recovering from a bout of gastro-enteritis the week before. I realised about half-way through the swim that I was not anything close to race-fit - the run that day was the hardest thing I have ever done and I remember crying again as I passed the turn off to the finish-chute after the first run lap to head out again for the second lap. I wanted to stop and give up so badly and couldn’t quite believe that I was actually heading back out. But I didn’t give up at any of them and completed the series in a very muddy Hever in September 2015.


At the end of 2015, I was beginning to feel more confident that I could complete the events I entered. I had completed 8 triathlons and pushed my limits way beyond where I’d been just a year before, at the Brownlee Tri. But I still wasn’t really comfortable with being called a triathlete 

2016 saw me push my limits further. I’ve always struggled with anxieties, so to take on my demons with open water swimming and conquer the hyperventilation I’d struggled with, I swam in the London Docks throughout the winter in 2015/6. No triathlon swim would ever be as cold or dark as that! I also entered and completed my first 10k swim (Dock2Dock at the Royal London Docks). No triathlon swim would ever be a long as that! I completed my first Olympic distance at the London Triathlon (which was so much fun!) and then my first half-iron distance with the Castle Triathlon Hever Gauntlet – a long hard, slog of a day, but felt so proud of myself when I finished (or at least once I’d recovered a bit!)

Relieved and elated, Jude finishing her first half IRONMAN
distance at Castle Triathlon Hever Gauntlet

Somewhere along the way, I realised that being a triathlete isn’t about being the slimmest, strongest or fastest - it is about a state of mind. I had discovered a tenacity (or as Coach Alan would have it, a bloody-mindedness) within myself that for 40 years of my life, I’d never really quite known was there. I mean, I always knew I could be stubborn - but I’d been taught to consider that a fault. I had never realised there was a positive side to it, that even when 95% of me wanted to stop, there was a 5% piece of me that would just refuse to quit.

Jude and her husband Karl at the London Triathlon showing what it takes to become a "Triathlete"

I am now embarking on my 4th triathlon season and I’ll be pushing my limits again. I don’t know whether, come the evening of Sunday 20th August in Copenhagen, I’ll be able to call myself an IRONMAN. So much could happen between now and then, or even on the day itself. But there is now one thing I am now completely sure of:

I am a triathlete.

Tri Training Harder offer online coaching to athletes of all ability levels. If you are interested in finding out more about how a coach could help your current training routine, please give us a shout on coaching@tritrainingharder.com or checkout our coaching packages here.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

Trial a cycling power meter on your next training holiday with #MyPower

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Are you yet to take the plunge and buy a cycling power meter? Or have you purchased a power meter only to be disappointed with the reliability of your device?


Unless you have been hidden away for the past few years, you will be aware of the importance of training with a power meter on the bike. On the back of this rise in popularity of power and data, there is a rush to supply all sorts of products to the market, each one with it's own claim to fame.

Verve, the company behind the acclaimed Infocrank power meter, have conducted a huge amount of market research on what cyclists and triathletes look for in a power meter. 
 
Now, in partnership with Tri Training Harder, Verve Cycling is making it possible for a select number of Tri Training Harder training holiday attendees to join the successful #MyPower plan.


The #MyPower plan will give you the opportunity to try an Infocrank power meter in the run up to and during your training holiday.
For successful applicants, the #MyPower plan will consist of:
  • An InfoCrank Set suitable for your bike will be given to you for up to 2 months before you training camp.
  • You can buy it at any time or return it at the end of the camp (with no strings attached)
  • Verve & TTH will give you suitable training and guidance on how to use the power meter and get the most out of your training camp.
  • Verve Cycling & TTH will give you specific camp related training zones and drills whilst at the camp
  • Verve will have the InfoCrank sent to your local bike shop to be professionally installed
  • Verve cycling & TTH will be on hand to answer any questions along the way.
What do you have to do?
 
All you have to do is write a short email to improve@vervecycling.com explaining the following:
  • Why you would like to ride with true and precise power numbers?
  • What cycling goals do you have in 2017 and 2018?
  • How would you gauge your understanding of power devices? Have you or do you currently ride with a power meter? Are you currently coached by TTH or do you have another setup?
  • Reference TTHMyPowerHoliday in the title of your email
All applications will be read and considered. Verve will correspond with all applicants, successful or not. You must send your application no less than two months before the start date of your holiday.
 
Apply today and change the outcome for your 2017 cycling year and beyond. Achieve your dreams on the bike with true and precise power.

We look forward to seeing you in Portugal later in the year!

Tri Training Harder
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