Portugal Training Holidays 2018

Join us in Portugal for a high quality, all-inclusive, coaching experience. Our Training Holidays are built around you.

We are pleased to announce the dates for our 2018 Portugal Training Holidays. We will be operating from our stunning location in the South of Portugal from 15th March until 17th May. This means we have 9 full weeks of training holidays to offer you for the 2018 season. If you can't make a full week, don't forget that we also offer a 4 night, long weekend option.

- Outstanding coaching
- 5* Accommodation
- World Class facilities
- All-inclusive - you just need to bring money for cafe stops
- Suitable for any and all abilities

All for only £849!

Read more about our facilities and features.

All of our weeks are suitable for any ability level however running directly alongside our standard training holidays we have set out a few weeks where we hope to get like-minded athletes together looking to focus on specific areas of triathlon:

- IRONMAN specific week - 5-12th April 2018
- TRI Something New - beginner week - 3rd-10th May 2018

Remember - you can attend any week you like, regardless of your ability. 

If you need any more convincing that you should attend a Tri Training Harder Training Holiday in 2018 then check out some of the 10/10 reviews past-guests have left us, such as the one below:

"I was unsure whether Tri Training Harder was for me as I am very much a novice triathlete. I was advised that the programme was tailored to suit individuals and that coaches would focus on my specific needs. The reality far exceeded my expectations.

Coaches were extremely supportive whilst pushing you to stretch yourself - very focused on you as an individual and encouraging you all the way.The food prepared each day was fabulous with a menu specifically designed to ensure you were getting the nutrients you needed to support the training. All in all a fabulous holiday that I thoroughly enjoyed." 
                                                                                    - Holiday Guest, Portugal

Click here to find out more and book your holiday!
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2017 Race Update 3

Completing a triathlon is anything but simple. So many moving parts to manage, from training to nutrition and from clothing to rest. All of this is before you even take to the start line of a race and open yourself up to the complexities and intricacies of triathlon racing. The key thing to remember through all of this though is that triathlon is a hobby and must be put into perspective from time-to-time. So with this in mind let's turn to the amazing results we have seen from some of our athletes over the past few weekends and bear in mind the hard work that has gone into each and every one of these performances.


Catriona battled a tough year at a personal level and was thrilled to be at the start line of IRONMAN Austria, let alone race round in a time just a breath over 14 hours! 

This was a huge personal best for Cat and over 2 hours off her time! Philip, her coach, was thrilled by her result saying “we had to have a very open and honest conversation in May to discuss how to tackle Austria. Cat overturned her doubts and fears and really did conquer this IRONMAN distance race. You can tell this meant the world to her!

Here's to her next challenge!

Our competition winner Paul Hayward also took to the start line at IRONMAN Austria in his A race of the season - you can catch up with the buildup to Paul's race and the journey he has gone through by reading his blogs. He has also kindly written a race review for us!

Coached athletes Tim Matthews and Laura Shulman also toed the startline at IRONMAN Austria and got through to the red carpet to the wonderful sound of those four words.


Emma Wardall finished in 4th place in her age group after a blistering marathon of 3:31 at IRONMAN UK. Emma chased down from the start of the marathon, but was just unable to get onto the podium for this year. The improvements she has made since last year are very apparent as she crossed the line as 13th lady and one of the top 8 amateurs in Bolton.

Phil Lester was unable to re-qualify for Kona this year after a puncture, wheel damage and then brake issues had him sat on the side of the road shivering for almost 30 mins. He is now more determined than ever to make it to the Big Island and has set his sights on qualifying at IRONMAN Wales in September. Watch this space!

Holiday Guest Piers Completed his second IRONMAN in Bolton this weekend smiling his whole way round the course rocking it in the red TTH kit. Well done Piers!

Kurt Winship was also racing this weekend in a local triathlon where he improved on his performance from last year. Kurt progressed up the field from the top 50% last year to the top 25% this year in his preparation for IRONMAN Copenhagen in a few weeks. We wish him well in the final few weeks of preparation!

Ben Wakeling, Coached by Rhiannon, was 5th in his age group and an impressive 19th overall at the Weymouth Middle Distance Triathlon with a time of 5:06.16. Ben is now entering the final stages of his preparation for IRONMAN Wales in 8 weeks time.

Coached athlete Belinda Vohra completed the Etape de Tour on Sunday with thousands of other cyclists, battling her way over the top of multiple brutal alpine climbs, including the Col de L'Izoard.

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Paul Hayward: Part 3 - Achieving the (un)achieveable!

Having followed Paul's progress right through from winning our competition, to meeting his coach and undertaking his training, Paul's latest and final blog covers his 'A' race; Ironman Austria.

Not only has Paul had to deal with the increased training needed to complete an Ironman distance event, he has moved house, is in the final stages of planning his wedding AND has had a running injury to contend with (not to mention trying to have some form of social life!)

A week after completing IM Austria in a time that he didn't think was possible, Paul reflects on the race and his coaching experience.

(If you haven't read Paul's previous blogs - catch up with Part 1 and Part 2)

Let me take you through the last few seconds of Ironman Austria; or at least what I remember. 

My run had slowed down a little, the sweat was pouring down me (in disgusting fashion) and my legs were screaming at me (how could I be so unreasonable to do this again?). But I could hear Paul Kaye telling other athletes “You are an Ironman”. I was home, I had made it. 

I turned into the finishers chute and people were clapping, screaming “up up up Paul” or “Super Paul, super” and I finally saw Paul Kaye and that smile. Paul said “Hello Paul! You are an Ironman!” and the noise was incredible.

I high fived Paul, thanked him and looked for my fiancée. Fortunately I heard her (which did not happen in Wales) and I leant over to her, kissed her and told her I loved her so much. Smiling she replied “quick, make the line”. To this I ran the few metres left to the line and crossed it in the daylight, hands in the air. 

To finish in daylight was a dream I never thought possible. Harriet met me outside the Irondome, and hugged me whispering “you did 13 hours 37 minutes, that is two hours off Wales!”.

So one week later - how did this happen? I do not have the benefit of asking the other Paul Hayward (the former me; the one who wasn't coached), but I can tell you that he would have been in pieces the day before about the possibility of a non-wetsuit swim at IM Austria, he may well have made the swim but not feeling strong like I had and he may well have blown up on the bike / run, had he made it.

A sub 1:30 swim, dream
goal 100% achieved
This finish (and with that time) happened due to a combination of things from Tri Training Harder; a training plan that addressed my weaknesses (swimming and latterly running) and built on my strengths, a coach that was tactically brilliant (such as a run strategy that enabled me to run the whole marathon or a bike strategy that knew I would be fast by holding me back) that was not scared to be firm with me if I pushed too hard and a team behind her with experience that enabled me to be the best of me.

I will be honest with you (and with many of my friends now), when I did Ironman Wales, there was this niggle in me that I could have done better. I could have finished earlier. Crazy? Yes. Stupid? Yes. But in my heart that is how I felt and in my competition entry I said “I wanted to do myself justice (at Ironman Austria) and although everyone else is proud of me - I wanted to lay the feeling to sleep”.
Pacing was key for the run

That feeling has well and truly gone now, thanks to Sorrel and Tri Training Harder.

Being a coached athlete has had a lot of people contact me and ask “what is it actually like” or “would I pay for it”. Sitting here one week on, I would have paid every penny for just the chance to finish in daylight, have someone re-assuring me that my swim was good enough for the 1.30 group (still now, really?) or that a non wetsuit swim just meant a little more time (speaking to some athletes they were in pieces about this) and give me the smile on my face now.

I cannot stress what Tri Training Harder added to me, my mindset and my performance.

"I think the misconception is people don't see what a coach can do; they think big picture and overlook small things that actually add so much. Like putting a wetsuit on properly and not hating going to the pool three times a week; that's huge and adds value to someone who came from a place of: 'I don't want to be here'" 

Believed.  Strived.  Achieved.

As people plan their 2018 races, I cannot stress at looking at getting some help. I could not quantify the cost of two hours off my Wales time to me personally; but the real cost isn’t as much as my wheels, bike or probably new wetsuit.
A coach: better value than a new bike?  In my opinion - YES!
See you in 2018 Tri Training Harder for #IMMarbs.

If you're interested in being coached by one of the TTH team, or have some general questions then please get in touch by completing this form

Photo credits: FinisherPix
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Elaine Garvican: My Day on a Plate

As any triathlete knows, training is hungry work and training multiple times a day means you have to be a little bit more organized about what you eat and when if you’re not going to fall victim to junk food cravings. Here, Tri Training Harder Race Team athlete Elaine Garvican lets us in on what she ate – and the training that food fuelled – and registered nutritionist Helen Money from The Bosworth Clinic casts her expert eye on the day’s intake.

Elaine: I am extremely fortunate in that running my own business and sitting on the Board of Directors for a veterinary charity means that the majority of my work is done from home. The pool is a 10 minute drive away and I have access to an enormous, amazingly well-stocked Army gym about 1km walk from my house. All this makes it easy for me to organize my commitments around the training sessions my coach (Philip Hatzis) sets me. None of the training I did on this day required any mid-session fueling, so the emphasis was on three good meals and adequate snacking in between to make sure I got the most out of each session.
7:30am: Porridge (110g oats, whole milk), mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts approx. 60-70g), 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp golden syrup. Tea. 2 Vitamin D tablets, 1 Ferrograd C tablet.

I love eating breakfast. Very occasionally, I have something else on my porridge, but I am also more than happy to eat this every day of the year! As a general principle, I think athletes should try to take as few supplements as possible, but even though my diet is generally quite high in iron, I find it difficult to keep my ferratin levels at optimum. Living in Yorkshire and being a cold-blooded Southerner also means I need to supplement my Vitamin D intake during the winter months.
Helen: This is an excellent breakfast for Elaine to start the day with. The large serving of porridge oats with golden syrup will provide fuel for her swim. The addition of nuts and seeds adds nutrients needed for energy creation as well as protein.
9:00am: Swim: Speed Set, 3km.
Warm Up: 400m Mixed stroke, 10 seconds recovery; 2x100m Individual Medley, 15 seconds recovery; 4x50m 25m fast, 25m easy
Main Set: 19x100m as: 75m sprint, get out the water, do 10 press ups, 25m easy swimming recovery
Cool Down: 300m Mixed stroke

This swim set was pretty brutal – after about 13 reps, your arms start to become very wobbly and hauling yourself out onto the pool deck for another 10 push-ups becomes more and more challenging. “Sprint” also became something of a relative term! This set took me just over an hour.
10:30am: Protein smoothie (1 banana, 3 tbsp Fage yoghurt, 2 large handfuls raspberries/blackberries, 3 scoops HIGH5 summer fruits flavour protein powder, whole milk).

Elaine: Since working with Helen, I’ve definitely become better at post-workout refueling. Smoothies are quick and easy to make and perfect when you intend to train again fairly soon, as it doesn’t feel like you have a stomach full of food.
Helen: Elaine recognises the importance of nutritional recovery after training. This smoothie provides protein to repair and strengthen her muscles, carbohydrate to refill glycogen stores ready for her next session, antioxidants to help clear free radicals and aid muscle recovery as well calcium to support long term bone health. For athletes training again within 24 hours ideally fast release carbohydrates are used in recovery, fat slows the release of sugars so optimally Elaine’s milk would have been skimmed.
11:30: Gym: Strength Endurance
3 sets of 10-12 reps 2 mins recovery:
– Power Clean – Split Jerk – Jumping Squats – Speed Bench Press – Speed Bent Over Row

I’m still relatively new to the gym, having done no formal S&C prior to the beginning of 2016. This phase is about learning to harness the strength I’ve developed over the winter and convert it into explosive power, so the weight has to stay relatively low and technique, as always, is of paramount importance.
1pm: Wholewheat bagel with fried halumi cheese; 4 or 5 mini pickled beetroots; yoghurt-coated cereal bar; 2 pancakes with raisins. Tea

Lunch was a bit random today – especially the beetroot! Sometimes it’s just a case of whatever is in the fridge or cupboards, which are looking a bit bare.
Helen: I’m loving the beetroot! Carbohydrate, antioxidants, nitrates and the fermentation process in pickling is great for gut health.
4:30pm: Run: 45mins easy

5:30pm: Carrot, hummus, glass of whole milk

I drink a lot of milk, especially when I come in from running. It’s too long to wait till dinner to eat something, so a small snack tides me over till I’ve stretched, showered and cooked.
Helen: I’m pleased Elaine put this snack in. A 45 minute easy run to someone training at this level may not seem like much but glycogen stores will still have been raided and muscles torn. Good choices of foods high in vitamins and minerals to support overall wellbeing. Some milkshake powder could have been added to the milk to increase carbs.
19:00: Large diced chicken breast, cooked with ½ can of mixed beans in chili sauce, ½ onion, ½ pepper; couscous; fine beans; broccoli. Glass of elderflower cordial with sparkling water. Tea

I enjoy cooking, but I don’t have the patience to stand there for hours and I’d rather spend my time on other things. I always cook more than one meal’s worth in one go so that I can freeze the rest. There are many days I get back in from a long bike ride with no energy to cook, at which point there’s nothing better than having a few “microwave dinners” on standby. I like quite a wide range of vegetables, but broccoli ranks pretty highly.

Helen: Lovely dinner. I like the addition of beans and broccoli to what would otherwise be a low iron meal.
Total calories: approx. 4,035kcal
Macros breakdown:
Helen: 4035 kcals well invested! Everything Elaine ate contributed towards her performance and wellbeing. As the race season starts Elaine’s training focus will switch to endurance over strength, during this phase protein intake can be lowered slightly and calories spent on raising carbohydrate intake to 8-9 grams per kilogram of body weight. Elaine’s fat intake is slightly on the high side, this could be reduced by switching to skimmed milk however Elaine loves milk and it is an important part of her nutrition plan. If I were to switch this to skimmed she would likely not drink it. I am very pleased to see that Elaine is eating well through the day matching energy supply with energy demand.

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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Swim Faster - Stop Catching and Start Throwing!

In swimming, we often hear about how important the catch phase is. It is as we understand critical to the success of our stroke. However by far the most common fault amongst our Holiday Guests in Portugal this year was a lack of a finish to their stroke. But why?

In my opinion, it could be two things

1. Overemphasis of the importance of the catch and a knock on effect on athletes
2. Overemphasis on the importance of a high elbow recovery

Both of these are 'traditional' coaching points that you will see repeated by coaches around the world in swimming pools every day. But what effect do they have, how does the wording, how does the emphasis, how does the linguistics affect the athlete?

1. Overemphasis of the importance of the Catch

Firstly when learning a skill we are always robotic clunky and very thoughtful about trying the action we are trying to achieve. At the front of your stroke, it is important to be relaxed and supple. If I say to you 'that you must focus on this area a lot' and then your very engaged brain zones in its attention on this area, what will the outcome be? 

Well the answer is that it is quite likely it will stiff and static! This is the opposite of what we want you to do!

A complex action is more difficult to learn than a simple action. So put your hand in the water let it relax and move through that transition from relaxation to power progressively as you press and then finish off the stroke.

Secondly, as I said in a blog article late last year there is little actual propulsion to be gained from this phase of the stroke. So why focus disproportionately on it especially if that can lead to an outcome you don't want? 

2. Overemphasis on the importance of a high elbow recovery

Is a high elbow important? No! 

There are different strokes out there which are very suitable for different folks! This depends on the individual's background, strength and weakness and crucially their flexibility and range of movement in their upper back and shoulders!

A high elbow recovery can actually negatively impact an awful lot of Age Group triathletes swimming. Due to the fact the majority of us sit facing a laptop (as I am now) we don't have the required mobility to execute a 'pretty' stroke. So why are we working against ourselves? This often leads to impingement across the shoulder girdle which affects the setup of the opposite arm and hand. 

What is important is finishing off your stroke!

Think of it like this would you ever throw a ball to somebody and not follow through with the throwing arm? The answer is no. We have seen many many athletes who actively start to bend the elbow and slide their hand forwards out of the water at that critical end of each stroke where they should be pressing back. So why do we encourage this with a high elbow in swimming? The answer is to make it look 'traditional' and 'pretty'.

I have asked plenty of athletes this simple question, what would you rather pretty or effective and fast?

How do we improve this?

1. Stop over emphasising complex areas with swimmers (especially early on in their development) and simplify the key phases of the stroke to transition - power - recovery

2. Stop working on our high elbows

3. Start working on our throwing rather than our catching by following through at the rear or your stroke! This analogy is crucially appropriate because it is the opposite of what many swimmers are trying to achieve.

If you can do this then it is likely the front will relax you will rotate more evenly and your stroke will come together. After all, as I said in my last swimming blog the secret to swimming is it is all about the sum of the parts and not the precision of any single component. 

Below is a simple drill to help you realise this 'follow through potential. It focuses on the power stage of the stroke not finishing at the surface of the water but following through the surface and out of the water. Letting the arms momentum flow without being broken until it is well out of the water at this point you can then swing the arm as demonstrated (or indeed bend the elbow a little) but not before your hand is out of the water! This momentum will then do the recovering of your arm for you with no effort allowing a taut body to place the recovering hand back in the water for the next transition into the next powerful stroke. 


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Race Update - Week 2 - The Results Keep Coming!

We had another busy week of racing among Tri Training Harder athletes with some impressive performances to boot! It's great to see the range of athletes we have competing on a weekly basis from complete beginners, all the way through to world class performances across all different distances. The results below speak for themselves and we're still only at the beginning of the season!

Apolline Vandenbrouke raced at the Mimizan Standard Distance event in France on Sunday. She completed the event in 3 hours 13 minutes in her first triathlon at this distance (having only raced her first sprint distance triathlon the weekend before!). She really enjoyed the day and far exceeded her own expectations in all three disciplines. 

Colin Childes also took to the startline at the Mimizan and finished 21st in his AG.

Apolline Crossing the finish
line with spirits high!
Belinda Vohra raced at Blenheim Sprint Triathlon on Saturday. Despite taking part in the three day Tour of Wessex cycling event the weekend before and suffering from illness, Belinda battled on through and finished in 1:59:06. Next up for Belinda is the Dragon Ride Sportive in Wales this coming Sunday.

A phenomenal result from Chris Ashford at the Comrades Marathon. We have be talking a bit about Chris after his 7th place in the British Ultra Champs and his marathon performances at Boston and Manchester.

This weekend Chris was racing his A Race of the season at Comrades. This 87km uphill race is world famous in the ultra calendar and is a truly brutal conquest. His time of 6:17 (25mins faster than the downhill one the year) placed him both overall (26th AG) and the 2nd British Athlete home. Furthermore his average pace for the “hill rep” was 4:21/km or sub 7min miles! We look forward to the Chester Marathon champs in October.

Some more medals for Chris!
Kurt Winship joins us back on the racing scene at The Henley Triathlon after he was medically taken out of IRONMAN Florida last year. He demonstrated that everything was back on track as he continues his quest of becoming an IRONMAN at Copenhagen later this summer.

We had a couple of athletes racing at the Deva Standard distance. Vix Randall came 4th in her age group qualifying for ITU standard Rotterdam 2017 with 2:25:46, finally getting her transitions more inline with the rest of her competitors. It wasn't entered as a serious attempt to qualify as it isn't the ideal course for her, so this was more of a getting back into this season of triathlon but that's another race under the belt - now on to the Europeans in Kitzbuhel!

All smiles at Deva!
James Briscoe took an impressive placing of 25th Overall at Deva, finishing 7th in his AG!

Karl White also raced at Deva and continued his ‘comeback’ completing a successful standard distance triathlon proving that physio exercises really do make a difference!

Mark Finlay took to the startline at the Northumberland Standard, finishing 42nd Overall and 14th in his AG.

Coached athlete Andy Cowen took part in the Cotswold 113 Half Ironman race, his first at this distance, and completed it in 5:02:17. A pleasing performance all round and it is fantastic to see that Andy is making great progress towards his first Ironman in August (Copenhagen).

Finally we have Steve Clarke who finished 4th Overall at the EMW Tri-Challenge Sprint, another race under the belt on the way to bigger events over the next few weeks!

Well done tom everyone who raced this past weekend and best of luck for all those racing in the weeks coming up!
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Paul Hayward - Life as a coached athlete: Part 2... Believe

Paul shares his thoughts on his second month of coaching with Tri Training Harder....IM Austria is fast approaching, keep reading to see how he is getting on with being coached, using Training Peaks and how it is still changing his mindset.

(If you want to read part 1 first....here it is)

“Coached athlete”. It is weird how that phrase still sounds strange now and can summon up so many different thoughts for me, from “I am not a pro” to “am I good enough?”, to even reactions from people (such as “are you going to win Austria now?”). However, if the first four weeks of my training plan has actually taught me anything it is that your training suddenly (and rightly) has real focus and you start to see results quickly, be it Strava records or even some swimming PBs, and the “stress (burden) of planning” has been completely removed. 
Focusing on riding and not worrying

So how does it work? Well before Tri Training Harder and Sorrel (my coach) my life mainly consisted of constantly checking my training plan each morning to work out what I was doing and watching heart rate zones constantly (with no idea other than “Zone 2 is key”) or how many lengths of the pool I had managed in 50 minutes.

Whilst this worked for Ironman Wales and seemed good at the time, I cannot lie - it was stressful and added pressure that I just did not need. It was another burden on me and meant that I was always worrying if I was doing enough hours or even how I was actually doing. This is not an easy pressure to have, as the race itself is enough of a worry, but when you see your friends, or even people on Facebook groups, posting how many hours they trained last week or how far their cycle was yesterday it is easy to fall into the trap of doubting yourself and your “training plan”.

All about the coffee, right Sorrel?

Fortunately this way of training and thinking has been turned upside down through being coached and having a “sounding board”. I am now in a world whereby all my forthcoming training sessions are delivered through Training Peaks (all Tri Training Harder coached athletes are given a Training Peaks premium account) and they are all set out for me week by week for the coming month. Fortunately Training Peaks has an app and this means that I can easily check my workouts for the week whenever I want, with a full description of what is required and what we are looking for and aiming for, and importantly on the move or when I have 5 minutes for a coffee (which is a blessing).

To record my training sessions I simply use Garmin Connect and these are loaded straight into Training Peaks. I then comment on how I got on, be it a swim speed set, Fartlek run or long ride,  and what I thought of the session. Through these comments and the data; Sorrel can have a look and confirm the good and the bad from each session (usually at 6am in the morning or 10pm at night!) and build me a picture of how I am doing. 

Feedback session - where's the coffee?
This “feedback” can range from telling me off for going too hard (and not understanding that “easy run” does not mean for me 8.30 minute miles - sorry) to being chuffed (and offering kudos / encouragement) for completing a speed swim set which was “brutal” or smashing the bike. In addition, this communication is supported through WhatsApp for longer chats, such as you want to switch sessions or they do not make sense to what’s going on, and means there is flexibility to the training and the plan. This approach means you genuinely feel that you are being supported each step you take and there is a method to it as the results come ringing in.

Being coached means I no longer need to think about what I am doing and how I am going to do it.  With my life at the moment, as with a lot of people taking on Ironman, any help you get is worth its weight in gold and means you can spend time doing other things like eating, sleeping, the occasional episode of Blue Bloods, or eating some more! But really means I can focus on the sessions, and not be burdened with the theory behind them.

Want to see the difference? Check my video of my swim analysis before Sorrel and as of a few weeks ago. Whilst the technical difference is apparent, breathing / strokes / posture, look at the difference in that guy swimming. He is actually believing he can swim and he has purpose.

If you met me at Christmas (or asked the person in the video on the left) I could not have believed that this was possible, not with me, but Tri Training Harder has allowed me to flourish and believe in myself, and my ability! I do not say this lightly, and it is making me believe that I will make that red carpet with Paul Kaye, and make it well.

If you are interested in being coached by the Tri Training Harder team, then complete this form, read more here or email coaching@tritrainingharder.com 
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