Thursday, 13 October 2016

Jason Walkley: IRONMAN Barcelona 2016 Race Report

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IRONMAN Barcelona was Jason Walkley's final triathlon of 2016 and his A race for the season. Earlier in the year Jason raced IRONMAN UK, which was an excellent marker at the mid season point and showed that Jason was in a good place to build and taper for IRONMAN Barcelona. 

Jason training in the Algarve, Portugal
I ran a 3:22 marathon at Bolton that day and I felt I was getting back to some kind of run form that had kind of escaped me for a couple of years and I was hoping to carry this on for Barcelona.

So, this is how my day unfolded in Calella……

The swim start was a nice late one at 0820, this meant my alarm went off at 0530, a normal day for me.

Breakfast was as follows:

Bowl of Muesli

2 slices of toast with Jam

Serving of high 5 Xtreme

Vit C & Zinc Supplement

The swim start was great, I seeded myself into the 50 minute swimmers, with the idea of getting a good draft off the super fast swimmers and as I lose their feet hopefully I would then pinball back through as the faster guys pass me. Initially we were all lined up in the start pen and as the female pros were about to start the inflatable arch deflated across the beach and blocked our entry into the sea….. great.

Luckily they managed to re-inflate it before the female pros set off.

IRONMAN have initiated a swim start program to reduce the anxiety and panic of the swim start, using a rolling start format would ensure we all found our own spot of clear water.

This worked well. They set us off in groups of 6 every 4 seconds. I was in the 3rd group to start.

I swam the opening 2200m fairly well, my gps showed I was swimming fairly straight too. Then turning to head back to the swim exit, I found I had drifted off due to the headwind and I couldn’t see any buoys or any other swimmers, I had to stop and have a look around. I still couldn’t see anything, so I looked for transition in the distance and decided If I swim towards that I would eventually be able to find my way back onto the course. I saw the safety canoes and headed towards them. I exited the water in 1:04. I thought that was a good swim considering I had swam off course for a while, I actually ended up swimming 230m further so clocked just over 4k. This meant I averaged 1:36 per 100m.

Transition was easy and issue free.

Onto the bike, as I was running out with my bike to the mount line I tried to to turn my Garmin Edge 520 on….. Nothing….. tried again and nothing. I mounted the bike and off I went. No Garmin working for the bike…. great. It was a good job I had worked on my bike in training without looking at the Garmin to dial in my perceived effort to power effort feelings.

All I had was Distance/Time/Speed on my 920xt which was on my wrist so pretty useless as I couldn’t read it whilst in the aero position. 

There was a tailwind heading out and it was super quick.

I hit the 54km turn point in 1:19. Best of all there was hardly any drafting problems that I had seen on videos of the previous years races here.

Turning at the 54km point I immediately hit the head wind and my god was it strong. I had averaged over 40kph on the way out and now I was down at 32kph.

I was entirely on my own too, I couldn’t see any rider in front of me for pretty much the next 30km. I was conscious of working too hard on this part and said to myself that this would be the point of the course which would make or break the race.

I started seeing guys who had pushed too hard into the headwind as I reached the final 6km of the lap which was the ‘hilly’ part of the course. I stormed past them and felt pretty good.

90km turn point at 2:26

This would be a 5:52 if I did exactly the same on the second lap. So as long as I didn't lose 8 minutes I would bag a sub 5 hour ride. Perfect.

I decided to make use of the tailwind and try and gain a couple of minutes for the return leg into the headwind. 

The Boardman that Jason rode in IRONMAN
 Barcelona, supplied by Birdgtown Cycles
I felt good as I turned right to the ride up the ‘dog leg’ on the course, this was an 8km drag up to Argentinos, half way up I heard a noise coming from my front wheel, initially I thought it was my brake pads rubbing as the noise was intermittent, so pulling my brakes on and off followed by leaning down and pulling the callipers apart did nothing….. Then as I went around a roundabout my front wheel went from under me. I managed to to stay upright and immediately knew it was a puncture.

I stopped and lent the bike against a sign post so I didnt lose any of my fluid by laying the bike down. Taking my front wheel and stripping the inner tube out I noticed I had picked up a drawing pin……. a drawing pin on a dual carriageway…… I thought how unlucky was that….

I took my time to replace the tube, as I also noticed that my first inner tube I took out of my spares bag didnt have a long enough valve on it, luckily the second tube I took out did! I use CO2 in a race situation and these can be easily messed up so I ensured everything was set before inflating the tyre. It is always a good feeling when the CO2 runs out and the tyre has inflated and stays inflated.

Wheel back on to the bike and a quick look at the watch, approximately 8 minutes to do that change. F*ck that has probably scuppered my sub 5 attempt surely.

I set off and rode the climb up to the turn point fairly hard, not wanting to drop further behind my target.

Coming back down the climb was all about being aero as possible so I was fully tucked in sat on the top tube like the TDF Pros. Pretty scary at times but I was hitting 60kph.

Back onto the out and back main course I worked hard to the 144km turn point. 

Head wind all the way home, work on aero and smooth power generation.

I seemed to by flying, the head wind was there but I felt more comfortable in it than the previous lap. I knew I would have to average 36kph for as much of it as possible,

I found myself in a pace line of about 10 riders, including 2 or 3 female pros. I knew this could help me conserve energy, but only if they were going fast enough. I made my way to the front and decided to lead for a while to suss out the ability of everyone. The group broke up to about 5 or 6 of us. Maintaining the 12m draft zone was easy as the cones had been set out at that distance for a fair bit of the way back in. The Referees seemed happy with that so that's what we stuck with.

20km to go and with me leading the pack for most of it I decided to try and break the pack, A German guy came with me and rode up level with me inviting me to work with him to get a sub 5……. I said ok and he took the lead, I used this as an opportunity to relax and take on some extra fuel from one the final feed stations on the bike as I had ran out of nutrition myself.

After 2km I decided to take the lead from the German guy, Jan was his name and he had some wild facial hair and ponytail going on. I took the lead and after 3 or 4 km I turned to see where Jan was and he was out the saddle shouting over to me that I should leave him as I was riding too strong for him. I wasn’t even pushing that hard, so I hammered it knowing there was a chance of breaking 5 hours still.

Entering town and 3km to go, but 3km of technical, twisting narrow, rough roads with speed bumps and one dead turn….. 4:51 at this point…..I had 9 minutes to navigate this tricky part. This is going to be close.

I took a few risks by really throwing the bike into corners and jumping out of the saddle to get back up to speed quickly.

Jumping off the bike and into T2 a quick look at my split on the watch 4:57!!!!!! Brilliant. How I had done that including an 8 minute stop, I must have rode a hard 2nd 90km.

Nutrition on the bike:

1 x 750ml bottle with 4 scoops of High 5 Energy Source

1 x 750ml bottle with 20 scoops of High 5 Energy Source +

1 x High 5 Zero tablet

1 x Salt Tablet

5 Litres of water

1 x Powerbar Energy Gel

Onto the marathon.

Plan was to head out fast to shake the legs off and wake them up to run.

6:40 was my first mile, 6:50 second and 7 for the third.

I then clicked into cruise control at 7:20’s for pretty much the rest of the run. 

The run was a 1 mile run to the finish chute then 3 laps of 13.5km

With 1 lap to go Alex shouted at me that Coach Phil had said 'smash it'

Here goes nothing.

I started to increase the effort with 10km to go and I worked very hard over that final 45 mins. Looking at my splits over that final 10km doesn't show much of a gain in speed, effort was very high compared to the previous 30km though so it shows to me that had I decided to try a tick the miles off and not increase the effort I would have slowed a fair bit. So an increase in effort just to maintain pace was the outcome, but that shows that I had strength in depth to be able to hold that increase in effort together. 

I crossed the line and didn't know what time I had done, where I was as a position or anything.

Nutrition on the run:

2 x 500ml Water at every feed station, few gulps and pour the rest on my head/body

1 x powerbar energy gel at every other feed station (Approx every 4.5km/20mins)

2 x Salt tablets

The volunteers caught me as my legs gave a proper impression of Shaking Stevens and I was carted off to the recovery tent.

I looked at my watch and saw 9:23.

Job done.

Realistically I had come here to do 5 things:

Sub 9:30

Sub 5 bike

Sub 3:15 marathon

Top 30 AG

Top 100 overall

So to achieve all 5 what can I say.

Well chuffed and a fitting end to a season of hard work.

Thank you for all the support of the TTH sponsors

@btownbikes for the brilliant Boardman bike

@HUUBDesign for the Archimedes 2 wetsuit

@High5nutrition for all the nutritional products

@championsys_uk for all the team kit and race kit

@Bosworthclinic for all the Nutrional, Physio, S&C & Sports Psychology support, without it I wouldn't be racing at this level

And most importantly to Alex and Josh who have stood by me whilst I have been out training and have been there for me without question.

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Friday, 7 October 2016

How Many Hours Should I Train for a Triathlon

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Many Triathletes have a whole host of different people supporting them and interests in their life, pulling them in different directions

Many people see triathletes as some sort of mechanical super human who just trains all of the time. Though this can be considered the norm, it is far from the truth. We have worked with athletes who have qualified for world championships or completed their first triathlon or IRONMAN without sacrificing all their waking hours to training. As with everything in life it is important to have balance.

Most people will have the following areas of their life to contend with:
  • Family/Partner 
  • Work 
  • Social 
  • Hobby/Sport

Balance Life with Training

You can never eliminate any of your plans or commitments completely without some serious repercussions, so you need to think about prioritisation. When people say they haven’t got enough time to train, they may be right, or a more accurate way of saying that could be: "I haven’t prioritised enough time to train". That is neither a good thing, or a bad thing. At the end of the day, everyone is different and we can associate different time to train depending on so many factors. Some people can fit in their training as part of a commute, others live right beside a pool or have a gym in their work meaning travel time is down so have more time. Some people have to contend with school runs, children’s dinner times and a heavy social life. Everyone is different.

Life is like cooking...

At university, a great friend of mine "Goose" (true name!) recounted a parable of the stove. It become a strong motto in our university house and one I work by at the moment.

Each of those points above symbolise a pan of water on one of the rings on a stove. You can only focus on the two front ones at any one time, you can't have them all on full heat on the big rings at the front, otherwise, they will all bubble over and you have only two hands and two eyes, you won't be able to keep up with them. By only having two you are strongly heating, you can ensure everything else stays on track as well. 

This is important to consider. You may well be able to get away with all four pans, but by the end of it, you haven't excelled at any of them and the chances are you have ended up exhausting yourself from the experience.

Don't forget to have some fun!

How many hours do you actually have available to train!?

Below we have created a very basic calculator to help you work out how much time you have to train when you take away normal life!

Hours in the week

Provide all information in hours per week.
Total time sleeping=
Total time with family=
Total time socialising=
Total time preparing food, living and eating (The average is 2 hours/day!)=
Time at work=
Fudge Factor (See below for some interesting points)*=
Total Hours Used=
Total Hours to Train

*Here are some interesting considerations:
  • You spend on average 1:45hrs on the toilet per week
  • You spend about 1:45hrs  on social media per week (is there a coincidence?!)
  • What about being with your partner?
  • What about changing to get ready for your sessions
  • What about time you spend reading the paper, relaxing, having a shower etc etc.

So now what?

The above answer is how many hours you have to train. Realistically, it is likely to be about 1-2 hours per day. This would be your upper limit. Fundamentally, you need to do some training to do a triathlon, we would realistically look at 1-2 sessions per sport per week. How many hours you make that is totally dependent on how many hours you can give to your sessions. Don’t forget that just getting ready for a session will take time at either end (unless you opt for no showering which is gross!).

It is all about balance, like this perfectly balanced recovery
quiche from Scott and Lynn

Well-being is the key.

As a coach, I am constantly working with the athlete to ensure that there is a real balance between training and also life. Someone who is happy in life is likely to find training hard a lot easier. As with all training related subjects, it is important to balance not just training but the whole, bigger picture – well being. Good luck!

Philip Hatzis
Coach, Tri Training Harder

Want to try and use a training plan that fits into your schedule, click here.
Alternatively, look at our coaching packages to work with a coach to fit your training around your life.

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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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