• Francisco Moreno Athlete Ambassador

    ultra marathon runner

    Francisco is an ultra runner who has a true passion for his sport. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always played sports for as long as I can remember.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    Just to try, I had always run and cycled, but I had never swam so I took it as a challenge in a Sprint Triathlon.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    One of my favourite races is the Genal Valley Ultratrail, because of the spectacular environment, because of the organization and because we do it as a team and it is an authentic adventure to share.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    Finishing the Genal Valley ultra, since it was the first time I had run more than 60km.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    I have never finished better or worse but I have always finished.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I am very disciplined and always keep my cool; I do not get carried away much by feelings or emotion in competition. I always make sure I finish, even if that means walking.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

    I think it doesn't matter what they tell you; when you are young you want to do everything your way without listening to anyone. But if someone had told me to build up gradually and not go crazy every day, I would've saved myself a lot of injuries.

    What are your goals?

    The main goal is to pass on my knowledge to as many athletes as possible. But for personal goals, I would love to do several iconic races such as the Mont Blanc Ultra or the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra.

    Who inspires you?

    There is really no one in particular, but there are many who provide motivation beyond sports, such as Kilian Jornet, Lionel Sanders, Valenti Sanjuan, Mat Fraser, etc. .. and many other unknown athletes who are a true motivation.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I really like Sundried's philosophy and how they take good care of their workers.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Triathlon vs Cross Triathlon

    You’ve heard of triathlon. But what about cross triathlon? We explain the differences between the two events so you can choose the one that’s right for you.

    Triathlon Training

    The world of triathlon has never been more accessible or diverse, with new categories emerging to cater for all abilities and interests. And for those who like their training on the wild side – or seasoned triathletes looking for an alternative challenge – the flourishing sport of cross triathlon could be just the thing to take your fitness to the next level.

    While traditional triathlons involve swimming in open water followed by cycling and running on flat surfaces such as tarmacked roads, a cross triathlon (also known as off-road triathlon or X-tri), features open water swimming, then mountain biking and trail running across rough, hilly terrain and various obstacles. Naturally, different equipment is needed to take part - you’ll require a mountain bike and trail running shoes for starters – and you’ll also need a whole new skill set and training approach. But whichever type of triathlon you choose, you’ll still reap the physical and mental rewards from exercising across three sporting disciplines.

    Cross Training for Triathlon

    Location, location, location

    Traditional triathlon venues are specifically chosen so that competitors can ride and run on safe, even roads - literally levelling out the playing field. But cross triathlons are designed to take you away from pedestrian pathways and onto the beaten track, guiding you through forests and riverbeds, up and down hills, and over natural or man-man hurdles such as rocks and logs.

    You’ll enjoy the benefits and views of training in the great outdoors doing either type of triathlon. But while plodding along on the flat can get a bit repetitive, every cross triathlon provides an exciting new adventure as you experience stunning scenic trails and the full unpredictability of Mother Nature.

    A range of off-road courses varying in technicality are available to suit different abilities, but beginners to triathlon should consider sticking to the safety and familiarity of running and cycling on the flat until they’ve built up enough experience of open water swimming and transitioning between disciplines to avoid feeling overwhelmed from learning so many new and different techniques.

    Weight Training For Triathlon Speed

    Going the distance

    One of the best things about traditional triathlon is that there is a distance to suit absolutely everyone, including the total beginner and professional athlete. While a Standard (Olympic) distance consists of a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run, newbies can get involved with a Sprint distance of a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, or an even shorter Super Sprint distance (400m/10km/2.5km). At the other end of the scale, you’ll find Middle and Long distance races including a half-IRONMAN (1.9km/90km/21km) and IRONMAN (3.8km/180km/42km), with the latter widely considered as one of the toughest one-day sporting events in the world.

    A cross triathlon typically includes a 1km open water swim, a 20-30km mountain bike, and a 6-10km trail run. Because of the high degree of technicality involved in the mountain bike leg, the distance for the bike portion of an off-road triathlon is much less relevant than for a road triathlon, especially as courses can include tough mountain climbs and steep descents. You’ll find it hard to predict your finish time based on the distance of an off-road course as your speed will be greatly reduced on the bike and run legs compared to the speeds you can usually achieve on the road. For this reason, an off-road course of a similar distance to a road course can take many more hours to complete, and you’ll need to adjust your fuel accordingly.

    Athletes seeking their next challenge will also be pleased to hear that, just as triathlon has its IRONMAN competitions, cross triathlon has XTERRA: a private off-road series of races (including an XTERRA European tour plus other world tours), that concludes with a championship each year in Maui.

    Getting technical

    Training for any kind of triathlon requires a big commitment but mixing up your workouts across three disciplines always helps to keep motivation levels high and training plans fresh. It goes without saying that training for a traditional triathlon works every muscle in the body, including your heart and cardiovascular system, so it’s perhaps unfair to judge if one type of triathlon is better for your fitness than the other as both provide a full-body workout.

    Cross Training for Triathlon Fitness

    However, because cross triathlon takes you over uneven terrain, your body will be forced out of its comfort zone and pushed to new limits. Trail running challenges your balance, stability, strength, flexibility and heartrate like nothing else, working your muscles even harder as you fight to stay upright while jumping over rocks, zig-zagging through trees, powering up mountains and hurtling down the other side as fast as you can.

    From a racing and training perspective, the bike leg of an off-road triathlon is the most significantly different stage when compared to its counterpart in traditional triathlon. While road cycling is all about speed, endurance and aerodynamics, mountain biking requires a far higher degree of technical skill: it’s all about learning when to peddle, when to coast, when to break and when to sit or stand so you can save enough energy for the running leg ahead. But putting in time on a mountain bike will ultimately improve your handling skills to make you a more confident rider, so it’s win-win in the end.

    When deciding whether to give cross triathlon a go, the main thing you should consider is your accessibility to MTB and running trails. Training for a triathlon is hard enough when you have access to roads and pavements outside your front door. Not being able to practice your technical ability for cross triathlon could literally be your downfall. Unless you have easy access to trails, you’ll find a lot of your training sessions will still be on the road, and your weekends will be used to hit the trails and work on your technical skills.

    Which triathlon is best for you?

    So, there you have our breakdown of the differences between triathlon and cross triathlon. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of which one is more suited to you and your lifestyle. But whichever type of triathlon you choose, remember that taking part and crossing the finish line in either event is a massive achievement. One type of triathlon is not better than the other: the most important thing is to get started on your triathlon journey by choosing a challenging yet ultimately achievable event. Find the perfect race for you now at britishtriathlon.org
    Posted by Joanna Ebsworth
  • Triathlon Training: Striking The Right Balance

    fitness training balance

    Attempting to master the art of juggling three sports, performing at work, maintaining a social life, and spending time with your family is a difficult venture. Life can get extremely overwhelming for the amateur triathlete, especially as they are often high-achieving individuals who do not like to compromise performance.

    However, all is not lost; it is possible to strike the right balance between commitments and not compromise on athletic performance. The key is training efficiency.

    Frequent stimulus is superior to any ‘hero’ day

    Your body will make adaptations over a prolonged period of time, not after one big training session. Shorter workouts that are consistently more manageable within a busy schedule are far superior to longer sessions that are likely to be missed; your body will reward you for consistency over an extended period of time.

    A big mistake that many triathletes make is that they perceive training sessions that are under an hour as a waste of time. They try to cram in big workouts at the weekends to compensate for the lack of training within the week. Of course, high volume days are important, but they are secondary to shorter and more consistent workouts.

    More training does not mean more gains

    Triathletes love numbers and often fixate on the number of training hours completed each week. More is more, right? Wrong!

    Solely focusing on training volume each week leads to a sub-optimal training cycles that place little emphasis on intensity. A good training plan should incorporate a mixture of VO2, threshold, sweet-spot, endurance, technique and recovery sessions, regardless of how many hours it encompasses.

    Focus on the key sessions within your plan, these may be the higher intensity ones during the racing season or the technique focused ones during the off season, and prioritise them.

    Discipline time allocation should be strategic

    Understanding how to distribute your time effectively across three disciplines can be a quandary. To do this effectively you need to identify your race goals and personal performance weaknesses.

    For example, in a long course triathlon, a large component of the race is spent on the bike and consequently more time should be invested into improving one’s cycling strength and performance. Conversely, in a shorter draft legal triathlon, the swim composes a greater portion of the race and cycling ability is less paramount because of the ability to draft.

    You also might want to take into account personal strengths and weaknesses. If you are particularly strong on the bike but struggle during the run element of a race, it would be best to invest more time into your running training. Many athletes worry about focusing on a single discipline in fear of neglecting the others but, fortunately, it does not take much training to maintain a level of fitness. Initially, training will give an athlete very large fitness returns but as time progresses the improvement trajectory becomes exponentially more difficult to maintain. Once you achieve proficiency, you can perform quite well on 2-3 target sessions each week which can free up time to focus on a less developed discipline.

    Higher intensity sessions will feature more heavily in a time-poor athlete’s schedule

    In order to obtain maximum rewards for the minimal amount of time, a greater percentage of your training needs to be in the higher intensity zones compared to a professional, who has the luxury of time. It is important to note here that this does not mean the majority of YOUR training will be at higher intensities.

    A good training plan for those short on time should encompass around 30% of higher intensity work and 70% of lower intensity work. These are very rough parameters, so it is important to listen to your body and establish a split that works for you. There will also be discrepancies between the individual disciplines, with running typically having a reduced amount of intensity comparatively.

    Before you go and hammer the higher intensity workouts, it is important to ensure that your body is primed to withstand this more traumatic type of training. You will need to develop durability first by regular zone two work and strides.

    Every minute of training should have a purpose

    Precise training is fundamental for anyone that struggles with time restraints. Spending intervals in your personal training zones will allow your body to adapt appropriately.

    The best way to identify your training zones is to perform a number of fitness tests and measure either your heart rate, power or pace. These metrics can then be inserted into an online calculator which will produce your training zones. Once you have accurately determined your zones, you will need to start using them in training and keep track of progression using an online training platform.

    There is a fine line between optimal performance and burning out

    Your body needs time to rest and regenerate and this only happens with the appropriate amount of recovery. Make sure that you are sleeping enough, eating well, keeping your easy sessions and days easy, and taking regular days off for optimum recovery.

    If you continue to train hard without having some time off, your body will break down and this will result in an injury or illness. It is important that every athlete, regardless of ability, takes rest seriously and prioritises it above anything else.

    Triathlon training is notoriously time intensive but if you approach it right, it does not have to rule your life. Best of luck!

    About the author: Laura Smith has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Holly Rostron Athlete Ambassador

    running treadmill gym

    Holly is a professional musical theatre performer and dance teacher. She talks to Sundried about her fitness journey.

    Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.

    I have a passion for all things dance and fitness. As a professional musical theatre performer I have worked in film, television & theatre, appearing in musicals in the West End, on tour around the UK and in Japan.

    I regularly take part in charity running events and have ran the Manchester, East London & Blackpool Half Marathons. This year I ran the Lancaster Trimpell 20 miler in preparation for the Manchester Marathon, which was sadly postponed until next year. The Manchester Marathon will be my first marathon event!

    Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?

    My dance and fitness journey began at a very young age. I have always danced! It is my passion and it’s what I’ve been determined and fortunate enough to make into a 10 year career. My Granddad worked at my primary school, he was a teacher who specialised in sports and would teach after school dance and gymnastics classes, which I attended. He’d also encourage us to run 6 laps of the playing fields as part of his lunch time running club! I loved it. Both dance and fitness were instilled into me from a young age and have had a profound effect on my life. The discipline and healthy competitiveness (with myself & others) have helped me through my dance career and my Granddad’s passion for dance, fitness and teaching has been passed onto me!

    What are your training goals now?

    To train for the marathon next year!

    Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:

    I tried surfing for the first time this year - in Scarborough!

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started dancing?

    I wish I’d have been more aware of how having a career in the dance and theatre world will affect your ‘normal’ life. People tell you how hard it’ll be and how much training you’ll have to put in but nobody can really prepare you for the impact it’ll have on your personal life. It is an ‘all or nothing’ kind of industry and requires the same kind of commitment to your profession as that of an elite athlete. You may miss family and friends’ birthdays, weddings and decide to cancel or postpone holidays because you’re auditioning or rehearsing. It’s hard to prepare yourself for making those choices until you find yourself having to make them. It’s a different kind of commitment compared to the physical side of training every day, but I think it’s just as challenging.

    Talk us through your training regime.

    I currently keep myself fit by running about 3 times a week. I also maintain my body strength by attending Pilates classes with one of the fab instructors from the gym where I work. Recently I have done some online workouts with my personal trainer colleagues too. I teach 2 online dance fitness classes and an online ballet class, which help me stay in shape and keep my creative side active by choreographing and planning lessons.

    How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

    The personal trainers that I work with at Energie Fitness inspire me with their fitness knowledge and workout ideas and I read Runner’s World for running tips.

    What are your top 3 dance teacher tips?

    Have fun with your classes! If you have fun and enjoy yourself your dancers will too!

    Think carefully about what music you use. I am a BIG music fan and enjoy using a variety of music styles for my classes. Really prepare this before the class, make sure the exercises fit and that there is something for everyone. Regularly keep in touch with your dancers. Whether that be through social media or email & texts. Make sure they are kept up to date with information about your classes but also make sure they know enough about you to feel engaged with you. Give them a bit of insight into what makes you you!

    If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Haha I love my food so that’s tricky. I really had to think about this. At the moment I love a tasty brunch so I’d probably say that. Eggs on toast, tomatoes, mushrooms and avocado, everything that makes up a yummy brunch. Either that or a roast dinner.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I’m so excited about the opportunity to work with Sundried. Sundried combines my love for fitness clothing and trying to look after the planet, so I was very keen to get involved. We share the same eco friendly values. I have consciously been shopping much more sustainably recently, trying to buy clothes made from recyclable or recycled materials, so I was very happy to discover Sundried’s EcoTech range.

    Favourite fitness quote:

    "We dance for laughter, We dance for tears, We dance for madness, We dance for fears, We dance for hopes, We dance for screams, We are the dancers, We create the dreams." - Albert Einstein

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Paul John Smith Athlete Ambassador

    mountain biking outdoor adventure

    Paul has a passion for mountain biking and has broken a few bones over the years. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I did road cycling in my mid-teens but lost motivation in my late teens. I returned to cycling and took to mountain biking in my forties after a long term injury.

    What has been your favourite race to date and why?

    Open bike race in Gruyere, Switzerland. I lived in Switzerland for three years and miss it terribly. This race involved racing through the castle village of Gruyere. I am looking forward to racing this event again in 2021.

    What is your proudest achievement?

    This is an ongoing thing, I strive to make each event my proudest moment and live in the now.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    During my first 8-hour endurance race, in truly vile conditions, I lost traction and broke my collarbone.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    As a person with autism, my obsession is in mountain biking and to a lesser extent running. I have broken several bones and maintain my passion. Crashing and injury are a by-product of sport and whilst frustrating, we need to accept this and find ways to motivate ourselves through these struggles.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

    Don’t expect overnight results.

    What are your goals?

    To compete in the nations in the MTB marathon discipline.

    Who inspires you?

    Julian Absalon, Emily Batty, Isla Short.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I am pleased to be working with an environmentally conscious clothing brand, who produce quality items within an attainable budget.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren