• Nick Compton, City professional – from novice to GB age group triathlete in 3 years! (Part 2)

    Posted in triathlon on October 1, 2013

    Nick Compton finished 22nd in his age group at the ITU World Championships in Auckland last year.

    Having shared the initial steps in his journey in Part 1, here we learn more about effective training, avoiding injury and taking your performance up a notch, as well as balancing that with work and other commitments.

     

     

    Happy, after finishing 22nd in Auckland!

    Happy after finishing 22nd in Auckland!

     

    1.       What’s the best piece of coaching advice you’ve received?

    From a physical training perspective, I’d probably say ‘listen to your body’ – if you’re not feeling great and working harder than you should, skip the session and pick up again in a day or two – it saves you getting ill or getting an injury.

    Mentally, the best tip I’ve been given is ‘remember what you love about triathlon and have fun’ – when training starts to feel like a chore, that’s when you begin to resent it and can quickly fall into a downhill spiral from there.  I do the sport because ultimately I love that feeling of crossing the line knowing I’ve competed really well, I had fun and the training was worthwhile – remembering that instantly makes me excited to take on the next session and want to do even better at my next race.

     

    2.       Is it right that you now get coaching online? How does that work? Does it feel like you are on your own a lot because your coach isn’t physically around when you train?

    Yes I do – my coach, Dave, actually lives in France.  At the outset, we had a skype call to discuss my goals, time I could commit to training etc and he produced my training plan – a spread sheet showing my overall plan and then specifics I need to do in each session.  I then send him what I’ve been doing each month with any notes, and we have a skype call occasionally to discuss challenges, changes needed etc.

    Given that a lot of triathlon training is more volume focused (i.e. running for 45 minutes or biking for 90 minutes with intervals), you don’t need someone watching over your technique.  In terms of swimming, I’ll work through the sessions in the pool, and for technique improvement will then work with a different coach, on a one to one basis who will give me pointers and drills to work on.

     

    3.       How do you manage training and a full time job. How do you get the balance right?

    I’m very lucky in that I don’t have to travel too much with my job, so can get into a pretty consistent routine.  I also work for a large firm that provides fantastic facilities such as secure cycle parking, showers and a great managed gym which really helps.  I’ve managed to fit as much training before or immediately after work as possible so it doesn’t eat too much into my time at home.  My typical week at the moment in preparation for the half ironman (work permitting of course) is:

     

    Monday – 1 hour swim before work and a 1 hour interval bike session in the eveningTuesday – An hours interval run before work

    Wednesday – A 2 hour interval bike before work and a 1 hour circuits set during the day

    Thursday – 1 hour swim before work and a 75 minute run in the evening

    Friday – rest day which is very important to take

    Saturday – swim in the morning and a 90 minute run in the afternoon

    Sunday – long ride (around 3-4 hours) in the morning

     

    I’ve found that the most important thing is keeping an element of flexibility – if I can’t fit it all in for work or personal reasons, I don’t beat myself up about it – it’s much more risky to try and catch up by overtraining as that’s how you’ll get injured.

     

    4.       What’s your advice for anyone looking to get into triathlon and/or looking to move their triathlon performance up a notch?

    For people looking to get into triathlon, the first thing I’d recommend is to find an event you like the look of (probably sprint distance in the first instance), book it and tell your friends and family about it.  That’ll then help you get motivated to train and quite literally take the plunge.

    If you’re new to the swimming side, definitely try and get a few pointers either from friends or actual lessons – it’ll definitely pay off.   Just like when training for a marathon or half marathon, aim to slowly build up your distance and speed over time.

     

    What an achievement!

    What an achievement!

     

    Finally, think about that amazing feeling you’ll have when you cross the line and can officially call yourself a triathlete – that’ll keep you smiling and motivated whilst training.

    For those looking to step up to the next level, I’d recommend getting a more structured training programme and sessions – there are lots available online and getting a coach will help you work with focusing on your longer term goals.

    The other key thing is developing consistency in training – it’s far better to do 6-7 hours of solid training week in, week out than 12 hours one week, and 2 the next etc.  You’ll really start to see the gains in your endurance and technique.

    Finally – for either those starting out or looking to pull on a GB tri-suit at the end of the year, don’t forget to enjoy it – it’s an amazing sport with camaraderie like no other (probably down to everyone secretly recognising how crazy it is to be bobbing up and down in a freezing cold lake or running through mud at 6am on a Sunday morning) – but that’s half the fun!

    If you’ve been inspired by Nick and are looking to find the right guidance and support to help you achieve your aims, take a look at upmysport.

  • Nick Compton, City professional – from novice to GB age group triathlete in 3 years! (Part 1)

    Posted in triathlon on September 5, 2013

    Nick Compton finished 22nd in his age group at the ITU World Championships in Auckland last year, after taking up the sport just a few years ago.

    As this year’s ITU World Championships Grand Final is about to take place in London, we spoke to him to find out more about what he loves about triathlon, coaching and training and how he balances that with a successful career in the City.

    Suited and booted Nick

    Suited and booted Nick

     

    1.       Congratulations on your performance at the world championships. Please tell us a bit more about your journey to competing for team GB triathlon.

     

    I’ve always been fairly sporty and have taken part in a few marathons and half marathons in recent years and was looking for a new challenge.

     

    By chance in August 2009, I went to support my friend Liz who was competing in the London Triathlon at Docklands. I knew instantly I had found my new sport – The challenge of combining the three very different disciplines and the thrill of it all (particularly seeing the hundreds of nervous but smiling faces bobbing up and down in the Docklands) instantly grabbed me.

     

    I set myself the target of completing the Olympic distance event at London in the following year, set about learning to swim front crawl, bought myself a bike to train on and enlisted a personal trainer to put a training plan together for me.

     

    Novice Triathlete Nick

    Novice Triathlete Nick

     

    2.       Was it difficult?

     

    I found it very challenging at the start, particularly with the swimming.  I quickly realised developing a good technique was key and would advise all those starting out to get some lessons – they’ll pay for themselves in no time.

     

    I also quickly found that I loved the variety of the training – unlike marathon training where I found myself pounding the pavement two to three times per week and quickly began to resent it.

     

    I was now training all three disciplines and some gym work during the week, and could very quickly see the improvements the training was making.  Thankfully, with help from my then PT, a friend who’s a mindset coach and helped me get over my initial fears  and swim coach (who taught me how to survive the open water), I competed in the 2010 London Triathlon and did much better than I expected.

     

    I decided that in the 2011 season I wanted to take it a bit more seriously, so stepped up my training levels and entered a few more events as well as bought myself a road bike.  I also decided I’d like to refer to myself as an ‘international triathlete’, so as an excuse for a short break with some friends and family, I competed in the Barcelona triathlon as the last event of the year and had a great race finishing in the top 5%.

     

    Towards the end of the season, I’d started to see the odd triathlete in Team GB kit and began to wonder if I could ever reach that level.  Always ready to take on a bigger challenge, I found out which races were the qualification events, entered them and then on the recommendation of an existing GB age grouper, found a triathlon specific coach who provided me with a much more specific training programme.

     

    After a strong winter of training consistently and keeping focused on my goal, I qualified and was then selected for the team in Auckland – it was the most amazing experience and definitely something I’ll never forget.

     

    International Triathlete Nick (in Auckland)

    International Triathlete Nick (in Auckland)

     

    I’m now taking on a new challenge and looking forward to competing in my first half-ironman in France in September.

     

    Tune in next month when Nick will be chatting more about training and coaching, balancing that with other work and life commitments, and advice for those starting out in triathlon or looking to take their performance up a notch.

    If you’ve been inspired by Nick and are looking to find the right guidance and support to help you achieve your aims, take a look at upmysport.

    Go here to find out more about the ITU World Championships Grand Final in Hyde Park, London, 11-15 September 2013.

     

     

  • Triathlon Swimming: How to make the rough like the smooth

    Posted in swimming on July 26, 2013

    Triathlon and strength and conditioning expert Roland Kemp talks us through what for many is the most intimidating part of triathlon –  the swim. And, even more intimidating than that, swimming in rough open water!

     

     

    We all hope for calm water, but you never know what conditions will be like. Open water swimming is challenging but racing in rough waters is even more so. Although I may not have the best swimming technique, I am able to keep my cool and so can you! Here are some tips that will help you out in the open water and make your experience a little nicer…

    1. Dive under the waves going out, not over them. Unless they are small waves, below your waist, pushing off the bottom and diving through the wave will prevent you from getting pushed backwards.
    2. Take the out side. The small amount of time you will save trying to swim inside with the pack before getting to the first buoy is not worth it. Taking the outside path will save you from getting punched, swallowing water, having your feet grabbed, etc. Some of this will happen at the crowded start anyway, but you can cut down on it by not going with the pack.
    3. Take wide turns around the buoys. While everyone else is trying to come as close to the buoy as possible around a turn, take the road less travelled and go wide. Again, cutting inside is not going to save you much time and you will have more clear water in the outside.
    4. Breathe only to one side to avoid swallowing water. If you can see the waves coming towards you on one side, breathe to the other side until you can get around the next buoy. I learned this the hard way and ended up with a few pints of salt water in my belly!
    5. Avoid too much sighting. It is tempting to lift your head up in rough conditions. However, you are still better off keeping your stroke long and your head down. Ideally, you will find someone to follow, and you will not have to lift your head up as much (unless they steer you in the wrong direction!).
    6. Before the race starts, pick out an obvious marker on the shore that you can swim towards to the finish (a flag, building,  a tall tree on land) this will stop the embarrassment of having to run up the beach/lake to the swim exit point!

     

    Of course, we would probably all like to have calm water that does not give us these challenges. However, if you come prepared, you can use rough water conditions to your advantage!

    Practicing swimming in a group and doing some race simulations will also help – much better to take a hit from a friend than on race day!

    I hope that’s helpful – good luck!

    You can find out more about Roland’s triathlon coaching here.

  • Structured Cycle Training: A guide from Paul Mill

    Posted in cycling on July 8, 2013

    Many of us are seeking new goals for the 2013 season, only to realise that we are really hard pushed to find the time to succeed. We asked Cycling expert Paul Mill how he coaches riders on limited time to achieve their objectives.

    The first and most important question for anyone on limited time is, how committed are you?  Without commitment, reaching your goal is pretty much impossible.

    I help riders set clear, defined and achievable goals. I also believe in setting your goals high.

    For riders with busy lifestyles training has to be very structured and well executed to maximise both volume and intensity. You need a balanced and consistent approach to training and “periodisation”, which basically means dissecting your training year into chunks of time is a key element of that process.

    The Periodisation Pyramid

     

    The training periodisation pyramid

     

    The Endurance/Preparation phase

    The word endurance really is associated with putting the hours in on the saddle. However, when time is limited this needs to be focused.

    Aim for a general steady state ride of around 2-3 hours once a week at least.

    The key thing for endurance is to make sure you are working in your aerobic range, which basically means at a pace where you are able to hold a conversation.

    When time is limited we need to work at a slightly higher intensity for a shorter period of time to get results.

    So, why doesn’t everyone just do it this way and save time?

    Ideally the more aerobic training you do at this stage the better as it helps develop a strong basis for the next two phases and improve overall performance. In my opinion, the transition from doing a steady wide base of training will give you a better and higher performance level. That is why riders at Professional level ride thousands of miles to increase body fat utilization and maintain a high aerobic fitness. Basically it’s like preparation for an engine getting it to run smooth for a long period of time.

    Working at even a slightly higher intensity may also mean that you become more fatigued, so when you are just starting out, breaking the endurance session into segments can help.

    The key thing is to set goals such as keeping a steady heart rate throughout. As you progress you can decrease the rest period in between the segments so that you can then bring them together into one piece.

    Pre Competition Phase

    This phase consists of more race or event discipline specific sessions. Sessions of a shorter duration at a higher rate will increase your speed and endurance and also help with your anaerobic conditioning. This really helps with accelerations either in a bunch or, if you are trying to pick your pace up, on a steep gradient.

    This phase is all about decreasing volume and increasing intensity.

    Simulate racing by participating in smaller events but approach them the same as you would the big race – plan your nutrition, fluid intake and practice, practice, practice.

    What about increasing pace?

    It’s all about cadence. Improving your cadence and being more efficient as a rider will mean that your travel across the ground quicker.

    And increasing pace on longer climbs?

    We all dream of being able to climb like the world’s best. Improving your power to weight ratio is a key i.e. producing more power with less body weight.

    A colleague at Maxi nutrition, Gareth Nicholas explained that we are looking to decrease body fat not muscle mass and high intensity aerobic interval training,“HIIT”, is the most efficient way to achieve that.

    Competition Phase

    Now things get really exciting.

    At this stage most riders now feel the need to pick up their training even more. Wrong. Yes we still need to train hard, but it needs to be structured so that volume is decreased and intensity is now at race speed.

    Hitting your sessions fresh with lots of rest and recovery are key in this phase. Focus on feeling good and staying healthy. Replace carbohydrate and protein within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. It will help with energy refuelling and muscle repair.  Are you ready to achieve your goal? Of course you are, now go and succeed.

    To find out more about training with Paul, check out the coaching options with Elite Cycling here. Paul is also an adviser for Maxinutrition and will be at the Maxifuel stand at the The Tour of Britain (22nd September at The Mall in London), if you fancy a chat!

  • New to Cycling? New is Scary… But New is Also Fun.

    Posted in cycling on

    Gary Willis, Former British Cycling Talent Coach, Scottish Cycling Performance Manager and Technical Operations Manager for the road cycling events at the London 2012 Olympic Games, shares his tips for getting started in cycling.

    There has been a huge explosion in the popularity of road cycling over the last four years with more and more people either returning to their bike after a long time apart or just discovering the world of biking for the first time.

    Whatever camp you find yourself in, a great way to get the most out of your cycling is to get some coaching. Most people can ride a bike which is fantastic and goes to show why the sport has become so popular as most people have the basic knowledge to pick a bike up and go, making it really accessible. But with a bit of guidance and support you would get from a coaching session it will help you to avoid a lot of those early pitfalls and get you up to speed quickly and efficiently.

    For those that have experience in cycling or as you progress, so too can the skills and technique that go into you’re cycling. Cycling is much more than pushing on the pedals, there is group riding, descending, climbing and braking. There is also the environmental considerations of being out there cycling in all kinds of weather and what clothing to choose and how to ride in those conditions.

     

     

    Here are a few of my top tips for getting started in cycling:

      Find a quiet area like a car park or closed road area. Practice your slow speed control, covering the brakes and manoeuvring around different obstacles. To go fast first you must master how to go slow! Think about where your hands are on the handlebars, what are you looking at going round corners, where are your feet when you are cornering.

    Don’t be scared to stop and adjust! Your bike should be fitted to your body- not the other way around! It is amazing in the early days of cycling or riding a new bike (especially when you ride with others) that people don’t want to stop and adjust the niggling little part of the bike. If it’s uncomfortable its more than likely not going to stop by ignoring it and hoping that in an extra few miles it will go away. The outcome is usually the complete opposite.

    Ride with others. Getting out riding with a group of friends is really going to bring on your cycling in terms of the distance you travel and speeds you will go at. Working as a group allows you to cover so much more distance by sharing the load. Also if you are with a group it also makes my last point more enjoyable too.

    Whenever possible have a coffee stop on your ride!

    Road cycling suggests just that…cycling on the road. The mistake most people make is to just get out there onto the roads before they have really prepared themselves for what lies ahead and it’s a harsh environment for those new to it. It’s a bit like buying a boat and then just heading out into the open sea. We mostly all drive cars but it’s quite different when you sling your leg over a bike. That simple return journey home you do in the car every day turns out to be a gradual climb the whole way. The prevailing wind that you never really noticed (unless you are a sailor) turns out to be quite tough when you are already a bit tired. Getting some coaching to learn how to deal with all these little areas and will help you to overcome and master the elements.

     

     

    But that’s maybe the tough side I have focused on! Once you are out on your bike you also discover all those small roads with very little traffic that are like a rabbit warren running over the countryside. Hills will soon change from being something that you “try” to get up and become a challenge to see how hard you can “try” on them. Sprinting for landmarks like Mark Cavendish and riding up climbs like Wiggo will become the norm (in your head at least). Oh and you will also start to build a good knowledge of cafes in the area, how long it takes to get to them and the pros and cons of carrot cake.

    Get some coaching, get out there and happy cycling this summer.

    Gary

    You can find out more details about Gary’s coached sessions here. His next training camp is 9-12 August in Morzine, France and will focus on helping female cyclists tackle their first sportive.

  • Returning to Tennis

    Posted in tennis on July 7, 2013

    For most of us our tennis careers begin in the school playground armed with a sponge ball in one hand and a plastic racket in the other. As we get a little older we upgrade to the proper equipment and hone our skills during the summer holidays on a make-shift centre court on our neighbour’s driveway. A few years (and a few hundred lost tennis balls) later we’re old enough to head over to the local courts.

    Many people successfully keep tennis going during their teens, even perhaps into university and beyond. But for most of us tennis somehow gets lost in the work-life balance mix of adult life.

    Although Andy Murray is doing very well at vicariously living out our tennis dreams, it’s never too late to get back on the court and do it yourself!

    We spoke to tennis instructor Ross Askell to find out his top tips for getting back into tennis, whether it’s been a year or a decade!

    How to get (re) started?

    There are many ways to get back onto the court. Your route back in may depend on your playing ability, but there is something for everyone out there.

    Most clubs/courts have coaches, who offer individual or group coaching. That can be a great way of getting back into the game (and hopefully with fewer bad habits).

    If that doesn’t appeal and you just want to start playing without coaching, most clubs/courts offer drop in social tennis where you will play for 2 hours (4x30mins), usually doubles.

    An average playing standard is required for this and you definitely need to be able to serve (otherwise people tend to get a little annoyed – I’ve seen it happen).

    Get started by calling the reception of your chosen club and ask for advice. They are normally very helpful, but if they are not do not let that put you off!!

    What kit do I need?

    • Comfy trainers. Preferably tennis ones, but that doesn’t really matter
    • Sports kit
    • Tennis racquet. Again if you don’t have one you can usually borrow one!
    • Water! Really important! Just because its cold it doesn’t mean you can’t dehydrate!

    I feel really self conscious and get frustrated with my ability etc. What should I do?

    I see many clients that get stressed and frustrated with their game after returning from some time out. This is really counter productive as it usually makes the body go ridged and therefore reduces the fluidity of your strokes.

    It’s natural that in the first few weeks back you’re going to be a little bit ‘rusty,’  stick with it! But most importantly enjoy the journey of reconnecting with a game from your childhood. The more time you put in on court the quicker you will be back to your best!

    Are there any exercises I can do off the court to help build my strength/help me prepare etc?

    If you perhaps a little unfit and don’t want to launch straight back into the game, gentle jogging combined with interval sprinting will get you tennis fit so you don’t feel so sluggish on the court.

    Diet is also really important, and its important to equip your body with the right nutrients to re-supply the energy that you will expend while playing.

    In all my sessions I make sure everyone warms up and stretches before starting. There is nothing worse than pulling a muscle when it could have been avoided. Concentrate on the muscles that are most commonly used in playing and you won’t have any issues.

    Motivated to dust off your old racquet and get back on the court? You can book a lesson with Ross here.

  • So you’re into your second or third season of triathlon and want to improve? Here’s how…

    Posted in triathlon on June 12, 2013

    John Fotheringham GB age group triathlete gives us his insights on how to get the most “bang for your buck” in terms of performance gain…

     

    Train smarter

    – Intervals will be the key in all three disciplines. Everybody hates them because they are so hard. That’s why they work.

    – Get a CTT (Cycle Time Trial) number and do some cycling time trials. Prepare to get a serious beating from wiry 60 year olds who are as hard as nails. The experience will be humiliating but your bike splits will improve.

     

    Master the Transitions

    – Practice your transitions weekly; you can improve by a minute simply by doing a few simple things. It could take you a season to run a minute faster:

    – Orientation, location, location is the key to transition. Walk through the entry from the swim and the bike and the exit on the bike and the run. Find identifying landmarks along the way. Remember them. You don’t want to be the Billy no mates running up and down in a panic looking for their spot.  Believe me there are half a dozen in every race including age group world champs.

    – Have a small bright coloured towel that is individual to you. In T1 most people use their bike as the final identifier. In T2 you are running with your bike so follow your landmarks and look for your towel

    – DON’T cover said towel with wetsuit when you take it off in T1!

    – Buy tri specific bike shoes that open outwards and have a heel loop and use elastic bands or clips to hold them on the bike. Much safer and faster to run barefoot than in road cleats exiting T1.

    – Practice your speedy wetsuit removal every time you go for an open water swim. Then practice it some more. Use baby oil on the lower legs or cut the wetsuit legs slightly up at the back if you are struggling. Then practice it again.

    Equipment

    – In terms of equipment upgrade you get the most bang for your buck with an aero helmet (even though you look like a d***) and a set of decent wheels.

    – However be careful of the really deep rim wheels racing here in the UK. They are only faster in a straight line and their maximum effect is above speeds of 25 miles an hour. This fact they DON’T tell you in the shop or in the mags.  So unless you are doing the few pan flat courses (there are in the UK you) are better off going for lightweight all purpose wheels or 50mm rimmed sections.

     – Don’t even think about tubular’s. If Tony Martin can win the World Time Trial championship on clinchers then they are good enough for you.

     I hope these are some useful tips, get out there and enjoy the sport.

  • Triathlon Training: A Brief Guide to the Three Disciplines

    Posted in triathlon on

    Personal trainer, triathlete and duathlete, Ralph Hydes talks us through the three disciplines of triathlon and some helpful tips to get you started and to guide your training.

    Training for the swim section

    This is generally considered to be the most daunting & tricky of the three disciplines.

    Try to build the distances you swim each week until you can manage the race distance in a continuous effort.  Once you’ve mastered that, aim to swim a further 500m more than the race distance. This is so that you are comfortable when you come out of the water and not totally exhausted.  Remember you have another 2 disciplines to follow so you need some energy when you finish the swim.

    If swimming is your weakest discipline then this where you should focus to build your strength and confidence. If you are really struggling with swimming, think about investing in a swim coach.  A few lessons can make a big difference to your technique and your enjoyment!

    Training for the Bike section 

    One of the best things you can do to improve your cycling is to get on your bike!  It sounds basic but the reality is that doing more miles will improve your cycling.  Try to keep the gearing low.  This is the basic mistake that most novices make – they try to push too hard a gear which leads to the muscles developing lactic acid which in turn leads to heavy legs and less efficiency.

    On your rides, spin in a medium gear keeping the cadence fast.  Try to keep most of your rides at a comfortable pace. Once a week you should do a hard session where you aim to go at your race pace over the distance you are doing in the race.

    You don’t need to have all the latest, most expensive gear and you can do most of your training indoors if you are worried about riding on busy roads.

    Training for the Run section 

    Running is often considered to be the easiest of the 3 disciplines as anyone can run, right?

    What people don’t do though is train properly for the run. They either do training runs at too slow a pace all the time or run too hard all the time!

    If you can only do one run session per week then you should run at a comfortable pace where you should be able to hold a conversation. Towards the end of the run do some short sprints.

    If you are able to do more than one run per week then one run should be a longer steady run and the other should be a shorter faster run.

    However, to get more out of your training using a heart rate monitor can really help to ensure that you are running at your optimum efficiency and coached sessions will also help you progress faster.

    Keen to find out more? Why not get in touch with Ralph for a training session here.

     

  • New to the world of triathlon? Don’t let it be an intimidating place…

    Posted in triathlon on

    John Fotheringham GB age group triathlete gives an honest account of his journey into triathlon and overcoming serious sporting injuries to become an expert in swim, bike, run!

    I was a late arrival in the sport of triathlon, following a lifetime of rowing, road running and rugby.

    That had proved to be lethal for my lower back and I was told by a surgeon in no uncertain terms to take up swimming and cycling.  He also suggested I lose 4 stone.

    The swimming and the cycling I enjoyed but I missed competition, the  excitement and fear the night before a marathon, the locker room banter of rugby and above all the joy of the race.

    As the weight came off and I was able to run a bit more, a friend suggested I take part in my local Olympic distance triathlon.

    John in action!

    To be honest, what I found was a brash young sport in love with itself and its gear (which many people seemed to just throw money at without much thought)..

    The socioeconomic realities of triathlon are decidedly middle class and the triathlon environment for the newcomer can be a lonely and highly intimidating place.

    Bike and wetsuit bling is everywhere and there’s a whole new vocabulary to learn. Words like brick session, T1 and T2 and nutrition strategy are bandied about and I found it best to keep my mouth shut and listen as much as I could.

    Having a sports science and medical background helped enormously because I knew how to train already and it was more about applying that knowledge to new disciplines.

    Some three years down the line and 15kgs lighter I am older and wiser and reasonably competitive at age group level.

    John racing ahead on the bike!

    What would I suggest to a newcomer in what is at times a complex and bewildering sport?

    – Don’t be intimidated by the gear, start simple with your normal trainers and an entry-level bike and wetsuit. Chances are you will shrink with triathlon; I dropped 2 wetsuit sizes in my first season alone.

    – Don’t buy into everything you read about triathlon. The biggest gains you will make in your first season will be in racing as often as you can. Start with sprint events and then do some standard distances.

    – Do open water swim as often as you can, there are many local groups around the country and they are generally very welcoming and friendly.

    – Do practice the swim start and have a plan. This organized water “scrum” is intimidating for everybody including the Brownlee’s. Remember that. Start at the side or the back at first and prepared for a few kicks or elbows. A wetsuit will keep you buoyant.

    – Do start working on transitions in terms of organizing what you need and in what order.

    Above all enjoy yourself, it’s a great sport and has a fantastic age group structure, which allows you to be competitive against your peers. 

  • 3 reasons yoga should be part of your training programme

    Posted in Cross training on May 24, 2013

    It’s that time of year (despite the rather prolonged winter) that many people begin to transition from ‘winter training’ and begin to ramp up preparations for summer events. Maybe you’re running a marathon, taking part in a long distance cycling ‘sportive’, training for a triathlon or just keen to get exercising outside after months in the darkness in the gym. Whatever you’re doing, don’t under-estimate the power of yoga as a key part of your training programme. Nick Ryder (rugby player and yoga instructor), takes a look at why regular yoga should be one of the top priorities of any athlete – whether you’re undertaking your first 5km race or your 10th Ironman.

    Flexibility

    Regular yoga increases joint mobility and flexibility, which in turn leads to an increased range of motion. A cyclist with increased joint mobility will be able to operate at a higher cadence (with more power) and a swimmer with more range of motion will be able to capture more water (and swim faster) than someone with less range of movement. In addition, consistent work on range of motion and flexibility (whatever the sport) through yoga will decrease the chance of injury. A few months ago, I recommended a squash player take up yoga. I bumped into them the other day and they were singing yoga’s praises. Not only were they feeling much fresher and more supple on court, their reach had increased by nearly a foot as they could lunge much deeper and further thanks to yoga.

    Balance

    Whether you are brushing up your tennis serve in preparation for those long summer evenings or looking to add an extra 30 yards to your golf drive, balance is a key component in all sports. Better balance and coordination in turn lead to better technique and perfect form – the aim for all athletes. The majority of standing yoga poses require some level of balance, from the easier triangle pose all the way to the single legged warrior 3/ half moon/ tree poses. You can work on your balance at any time of day – waiting in line for coffee, on the phone or even watching TV. Simply take one foot off the floor and balance on the other leg. To add difficulty, close your eyes. You’ll soon begin to notice a difference. If you’re feeling particularly hardcore, why not try standing on the train/ bus/ tube without holding a handrail. With your eyes closed. Well maybe not the last bit… you’ll just end up looking strange.

    What might happen if you don’t do yoga…

    Mental Control

    Most people would agree that yoga is a ‘great workout’ that helps increase strength, balance and flexibility, but one of the biggest benefits is increased mental strength. For most people, this will manifest itself in feeling much more in control, less stressed and generally much calmer in the face of stressful situations. However, for athletes this is where the edge is gained. The meditative section of class – ‘savasana’ or ‘corpse pose’ – is where the mind works on quelling negative self talk and improving focus, ultimately leading to improved athletic performance.

    I am currently training for the Ride London 100 Olympic legacy event, a 100 mile bike race through London and the Surrey hills. The mental relaxation side of yoga helps me to embrace (and even relax into) hill climbs, despite the raging agony in my legs. In addition, Ive seen my temperament improve hugely on the golf course. I used to get irate after hitting a poor shot and it would affect later shots, but the more I do yoga, the less concerned I am. I might not be playing significantly better, but I’m not throwing the clubs around anymore if I hook one into the parking lot!

    If you’re a seasoned athlete or new to exercise, yoga is an important tool in anyone’s exercise regime. However many people train hard without adding the benefits of yoga into their schedule, which could be detrimental in the long run. Make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance of sporting success by supplementing your training programme with yoga.

    If you would like to find out more and add yoga to your training programme, you can book a private session with Nick, here or check out one of his group classes in Parsons Green and Fulham.