Friday, 21 July 2017

2017 Race Update 3

No comments:
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.

Read More

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

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

No comments:
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
Read More

Monday, 26 June 2017

Elaine Garvican: My Day on a Plate

No comments:
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.
Read More

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Swim Faster - Stop Catching and Start Throwing!

No comments:
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. 


Read More

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Race Update - Week 2 - The Results Keep Coming!

No comments:
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!
Read More

Paul Hayward - Life as a coached athlete: Part 2... Believe

No comments:
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 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 
Read More

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Free your mind and the rest will follow...

No comments:
Tim has been a coached athlete with Tri Training Harder for 12 months and has been working on his psychology and focus during a race - his most recent race at Outlaw Half demonstrates what a positive difference psychology can make to your racing.  Here Tim recounts his race preparation and the race itself, reflecting on what went well and what could be improved for the future.

As I am someone that likes to plan and prepare, this is how I set out my race for Outlaw Half.   Having spent a week in Portugal with the Tri Training Harder team and having been coached for a year, I was putting into place a lot of tips, hints and specifics to practice during this race, and it all started a few days beforehand.  


Book accommodation, get driving instructions, talk to coach Sorrel, make a race plan and make a plan for the whole weekend.

Friday – Travel Day

Arrive and register, early to bed and set alarm for 04:30; 1 hour after planned ‘get up time’ for race day.  I do this where I can for the few days before a race so that my body gets used to it and doesn't ask me what the hell I am doing at 3.30am on race day.

Undertake my training for the day and relax.  Note to self; take something to do - resting in a hotel is boring!

Saturday – Prep Day

Get up early and practice commute to venue (10 min drive), then take advantage of the early morning and drive the route, mentally noting way point features, road surface, hazards and other things of note.
Have breakfast and then attend the race briefing at the event venue - process the information received which includes transition opening and closing times.  No racking the day before so I need to adjust my race day schedule to account for this.
Whilst grazing on Jaffa Cakes and drinking electrolyte mix all day make race day timing and nutrition plan which actually starts with the race start and then working backwards to work out what time I need to wake up and eat (3.30am!)

Eat lunch, have a snooze and then check out swim course orientation once it has been set up. Although I wasn't able to get into the water at this point, I walked around the lake and looked at the main sighting points - including getting down to the level of the water to see what I would actually be able to see once I was about 6 foot closer to the floor on race day!

Don't forget your nutritional needs!
Preparation for transition came next with me collating all my clothing / equipment and packing my transition bag.  I then checked over my bike and made up my drinks for the following day.

Dinner came next (all I have done all day is eat!) at 18:00 (jacket potato, beans and cheese) and then went to bed at 20:30 -  to get up for 03:30 (7 hours sleep, get more if possible).

I'm still working backwards in terms of timing at this point, I need to be up at 3.30am (!) so have worked out bed time, dinner time from this. 
Coach Sorrel - this is something that Tim and I have spent time talking through - planning out the day so there is a) something to do and b) things don't get forgotten and left to the last minute.  Having a plan makes the day (and pre-race nerves!) much more manageable 

Sunday - Race Day

Not ideal race breakfast!
03:30 - wake up and have nervous trip to the bathroom :)
Breakfast - porridge as planned
Sun spray on.  Get dressed and put everything else in combination of rucksack and smaller transition bag – baggage is not very ‘sorted’.
And then this is when things start to go a little to venue and park at campsite as planned, I planed to put my bike in transition and return to van/campsite to change into wet suit and meet friends.
This is what actually happened:
Rack bike and transition stuff – return to van and have a double espresso as planned and realise have forgotten to leave my trainers in transition, so I return transition and then go back to the van wearing  other shoes.  Take my track suit off – realise have left bike top on and it should be in transition…*insert suitable expletive here
OK – revise plan – forget linking with other peoples plans - back to transition with everything
05:58 Get in 2 mins before closing time of 06:00 – deposit bike top.  6am - annnddddd relax.

Get wetsuit on – borrow baby oil to stop chafing (note to self – remember baby oil)

Try goggles with hat – realise sun protection is still greasy and goggles not sealing – wash off as much as poss with lake water – think what happens if goggles leak ? – think deal with it, too late to change now (note to self: goggles didn’t leak).
Fasten bag to a fence thing – then put phone in someone elses identical bag that isn’t fastened to said fence thing – realise immediately – retrieve phone and put in own bag (note to self – Blue Seventy bags are all the same unless fastened to a fence thing – which is why I fastened bag to fence thing in the first place – further note to self:  ‘get a grip’) - by now it's 6:30am.  Time to get in the water.

Coach Sorrel - Now this is where things would normally have culminated in Tim being in a bad mood - things have gone wrong and upset his plan....but he dealt with each 'challenge' calmly and in an organised way.  We've used the 'what if and so what' scenario before and spoken about it before and after other races.  Tim has used it well with his goggles and taken a moment to catch his thoughts and tell himself to get a grip. By now he is in a MUCH better place than he would have been had he not been able to recognise these things about himself.  At this point in his race report, he admits to me that he feels he is actually ready to race.

Ready to race and entering the water like.....

Queue for water entry – good craic from marshal – get into water – get goggles and face wet to try and equal temperature and get goggles on and sealed – pull swim cap over goggle top.
Make sure wetsuit sleeve is over watch strap – check (not to self: security of watch hindered effort of left hand – must make strap more secure) - or take it off! - Coach Sorrel
Water acclimatisation time – face in breathe out through nose – repeat until confident to breathe out fully – cold water inhibits that ability – cold water in nose initiates a panic reflex – got to breathe out and avoid water ingress to nose.
Sink downs – do sink downs in water – increase confidence in wetsuit flotation and breathing out.
Bit of craic with neighbours – star fish floats to make space – watching race marshal who counts down to start hooter with fingers – Hooter

Three rules – don’t go off too quick – don’t go off to quick AND don’t go off too quick
And breathe
Lets get a routine – 10 strokes – sight – adjust – 10 strokes - sight - adjust – repeat
Still OK – not feeling too left behind – the occasional foot tickle – no significant bashing

Bit of bashing at first and second turns – started to get a little tired on final straight – but more bashing as fast peeps from wave behind went through – still OK – but had to think about it a bit to maintain karma – but largely did – got thrown off rhythm a bit and had to stop once to refocus and spot the finish chute (noted a yellow canoe beside yellow finish chute (grr), but then thought - canoes come in a limited range of colours, as do bouys and other floating water sport things), so focused and ignored increased collisions as neared the exit.
Coach Sorrel - This is huge step number one.  In previous races, this negative thought would have had a direct impact on the rest of Tim's race - instead of being cross that there was an obstacle that he could have swum into, and having the negative emotion floating round his head, he pushed this to one side, rationalised it, added a bit of 'so what' and carried on.

Jogged to T1 – feet hurt on tarmac – ran on painted yellow lines instead – much better.  
Coach Sorrel - this is huge step number two!  Rational decision making during the race...focused but enough for Tim to make the right decision.  So much so that he even turn round and helped the person behind him by pointing out the smoother bit of path to run on.

The usual mantra and then bike top on – helmet on – unrack bike and trot out of T1.  Cross the mount line and then trot to further on – no point in stopping in the middle when there are folk wobbling about in front of you and others coming up behind – trotted to a nice clear bit at the side 10m past mount line and got on the bike.  
Coach Sorrel - this is something we practice a lot on our training holidays, remaining calm in transition will assist you out onto your bike without any additional adrenaline caused from panicking!

All going according to plan (note: I have a plan!), earned a rebuke from a cyclist behind me for going too slowly through an aid station – ‘watch out I’m right behind you’ was the cry – I did not respond with ‘that’s your FFFlaming  lookout’ I just thought in my head 'it’s her problem not mine – she should practice some bike handling skills' remained focused and get back on it.
Coach Sorrel - again, mindfulness playing a part here, I know Tim won't mind me saying that in previous years this would have turned into an altercation and would have negatively impacted on his (and her!) race.  
Finished bike in good shape.

Fairly straight forward, very slow jog through transition and out onto run course.

Very slow jog to first aid station and purposefully walked the aid station as planned; take a drink then reach up high – walk on tiptoes – stretch – slowly increase from walk to jog and let a natural rhythm evolve – don’t force it -  good upright stance – short strides – feet under hips – elbows bent – let the arms dictate the leg rate – same cadence throughout change gear where needed by maintaining cadence and adjusting stride.

Repeat aid station routine at every aid station – walk stretch start to build again.

Looking relaxed on the run
Was surprised and a bit disheartened that there were so many people fading around me – most looked way less fit than I feel that I am – so why were they ahead of me and why am I only just going past them now?  No matter I am going past them now AND they look totally finished – I feel fresh as a daisy.
Coach Sorrel - this is great feedback, it's easy to get into the habit of looking at the negatives as to why and how so many people are ahead of you....but focusing on your own plan and not what everyone else is doing is the key here.  Plus, you're passing them and the aim is to get to the finish line as quickly as YOU can.

Note to self tri suit zip rubs chest and causes sore – it always does – Why the hell have I not done something about this in advance?
Coach Sorrel - reflecting on a race properly like this identifies small things that need to be changed for the next race so that you don't have that moment when you think 'oh yes, this is the trisuit that rubs, I wish I had done something about that!'

It's worth pointing out that this was one of the best races Tim has had - in terms of holding it all together and (in his words) 'having a jolly old time'.  We think that says it all!

By properly evaluating a race, you can see where you have made good decisions or made poor decisions and work on these before your next race.  Hopefully the above will give you an insight into the difference this can make in a race (or training environment) and encourage you to work on your mental game as well as your physical game.  

Tim was asked to think of two things that went well that he would look to repeat, and two things that he would look to change - there are lots of positives in the above report to choose the two good things (having a plan being one!), I truly hope the trisuit zip issue is in the two things to improve!

Read More