Have you always been into sport?
I have always been into sport from a very young age. I started sailing when I was 5 years old, and moved to triathlon when I was 14.
How did you first get into triathlon?
I already swam and ran for a club and was told to start cycle training with some friends to train for a triathlon. Ever since then I’ve never looked back and carried on racing and training up to the level I’m at now.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
European championships in Russia 2019. I placed 5th in my age group and had the most memorable experience out there with my GB team mates. I had an amazing swim coming out 2nd and holding that position until the run. The crowd was amazing and the country was just beautiful.
What is your proudest achievement?
As well as the European championships, I competed in my first senior elite race at Blenheim palace in 2019. It was incredible to just be able to finish the race without being lapped by some incredible world class elite athletes.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
How do you overcome setbacks?
Injuries have been the worst sets backs I’ve had, the most often being shin splints. Over the years, being at Leeds triathlon centre I’ve had some of the best coaches going, who have helped me understand why the injury has re occurred and I’ve been able to learn how to train to avoid them (smart training). I also worked around the injury by compromising using other sports, which is one of the best things about triathlon.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
If you want to make it to the top, you need to start when you're young.
What are your goals?
My goals are:
1. To compete at the world championships in Bermuda in 2021.
2. To get a sub 20 5k in a triathlon.
3. To get into the RAF triathlon team.
Who inspires you?
Being at Leeds triathlon centre I am around the majority of the GB Olympic team and world and European senior elite team. Seeing the determination, work drive and effort they put into every session drives me each day to push to be a better athlete.
Why work with Sundried?
Sundried support their ambassador’s in a way that no other company do. They produce amazing long lasting kit and I have been referred by many friends to buy their products.
To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.
A new year is the perfect time to adopt more desirable behaviours in the hope to live a happier and healthier life. More often than not these aspirations will not manifest into victory.
My intention for this blog is to identify the common errors people make when deciding on their new year’s resolutions and how you can construct a keep-able promise in 2020.
#1 Too much too soon
Setting unrealistic goals at the start of the year in the hope that you can transform yourself overnight.
Instead of trying to change everything at once, it is better to make incremental changes that can be more easily achieved. By setting realistic goals that can be altered over time, success is more likely.
If your goal is to start going to the gym, then begin by working out once or twice a week. Once you have this mastered, consider adding an extra visit. Trying to go from no exercise to working out every day is not the way forward.
#2 Not identifying your ‘why’
Not understanding the reasoning behind a resolution.
Having a good motivational drive is integral to success. It’s important to identify why the goal is important to you on a personal level.
You may want to work harder at University, but it is important to uncover why is this important to you? Maybe it is because you want to graduate and secure your dream job. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you identify it and use it to motivate your behaviours.
#3 Wishy-washy goals
Setting a haphazard goal with no specificity or personalisation.
Keep the goal relevant to you and include fine details. The more specific you can make your goal, the more vivid it will be in your imagination and the more encouraged you will be to succeed.
Adopting a healthy diet is always a popular resolution but this leaves much ambiguity. Think about what a healthy diet for YOU would look like. For example, ‘I will eat five portions of fruit or vegetables each day’ is much more specific than ‘I will eat a healthier diet’.
#4 Not checking in
Not measuring or tracking progress will result in the inability to know how you are doing and whether changes need to be adopted for success.
Keepings a written record of your progress with help to sustain the ‘can do’ attitude, keep you accountable, and ensure you are moving in the right direction.
If your goal is to drink more water, then the only way to know if you are succeeding is to track how much you are drinking each day.
#5 Not setting the date
Without a deadline of achievement, motivation can dwindle and often the attitude of ‘I will do it tomorrow’ is adopted.
Set an end date for targets to keep the pressure on and stop any avoidance of the tasks at hand.
If your goal is to run a 10km then enter yourself in an event at the start of the year. The pressure of a looming race is sure to keep you motivated.
#6 All or nothing attitude
Giving up completely when something goes wrong.
Accepting that slip-ups are likely and are a part of the behaviour change process. The ability to pick yourself up and carry on after a setback is vital for triumph.
Does the occasional sweet treat completely undo an overall healthy diet? No, of course not! As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.
#7 Enduring not enjoying
No one can bring themselves to do something they hate consistently, so planning a resolution that you will dislike doing is not going to work.
The best plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life and one which you can appreciate.
Participating in a sport you love rather than dragging yourself to the gym will be much more effective in any fitness venture.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
How do I create a Workout Plan?
Getting the right support for your training plan will mean the difference between success and failure. You do not need to identify your SMART goals alone. If you want some free tips, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Get ready to swap your swimsuit for skis when you sign up for a Winter Triathlon…
Many triathletes use the winter period to dial down their training regimes and take a well-earned rest. But that doesn’t mean the world of triathlon goes into hibernation. While the swim-bike-run tribe starts to put its collective feet up, another triathlon season is just beginning…
What is Winter Triathlon?
Winter Triathlon involves running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing across snow-covered terrain. Sanctioned by the International Triathlon Union - who are lobbying hard to get this gruelling endurance race included in the upcoming winter Olympic games - the sport first emerged in the 1980s, although it didn’t really take off until the 1990s when it was recognised by the ITU. The first ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship took place in Italy in 1997, and they have been held annually ever since, now attracting thousands of Elite, U23, Para, Mixed Relay and Age Group athletes every year from across the globe. Extremely popular in Europe, the US and Canada, the sport is gaining traction in the UK with people who have an appetite for adventure and are willing to travel to events held on the snow-topped mountains of the Northern Hemisphere.
As with traditional triathlon events, race distances vary. Short, intermediate, long, and ultra versions are all available to enter, but a typical winter triathlon consists of a 5-9k run, 10-15k mountain bike, and 8-12k cross-country ski. Courses are designed so that it should take the winner of the elite men’s race about 80-90 minutes to complete, and distances are set on the day of a race to take the latest snow conditions into account; you may well wake up to find a foot of the white stuff has fallen overnight, but this only adds to the excitement and unpredictability of the sport as you tackle the various surfaces and challenges thrown your way.
What kit do I need?
If you’re feeling inspired to start competing in more adverse climatic conditions, you’ll need to invest in some specialised equipment and kit suitable for snowy, slippery terrain and colder temperatures.
Running: For starters, it’s difficult to run across the snow in normal running shoes. Because the running leg is contested on hard-packed snow, many winter triathletes wear cross-country spikes for extra traction, although trail shoes can work and are often used in competition (in some races, snowshoes are the norm). Whatever you choose, you’ll need a relatively supportive shoe to avoid injury as the footing on snow can be challenging. One tip is to follow in the footsteps of a runner ahead of you.
Mountain biking: Competitors ride standard racing mountain bikes, but they’re generally equipped with relatively wide tyres featuring an aggressive tread (2.2 to 2.4 inches is recommended), because staying upright on your bike in the snow requires more balance and traction than usual. While tyres with spikes are legal, most competitors shun them due to their additional weight. You’ll also need to run your tyres at a relatively low pressure (about 15-20 psi), otherwise your bike might be impossible to ride in the snow. Finally, helmets are mandatory, but be aware that heavy snow fall could mean pushing your bike is faster than attempting to ride it!
Cross-country skiing: Also known as ‘langlauf’, the cross-country skiing leg usually takes place on groomed Nordic ski trails. Both classic and freestyle (skating) techniques are allowed, although most serious competitors use the freestyle technique as it’s faster. You’ll need a supportive ski boot, poles and cross-country skis, and you’ll need to prep your skis with waxing for success. Remember, many Nordic skiing areas offer rental if you want to try the sport before you buy.
Staying warm: Invest in cold weather-specific technical clothing such as base layers, tights, socks, gloves, and hats to keep your body and extremities warm, and choose clothing with reflective details to help you be seen while training in low light conditions. You may well need an insulating top for the mountain biking leg as your upper half will remain mostly static throughout.
How do I train for a winter triathlon?
Due to the colder temperatures and extreme terrain, you should only sign up for a winter triathlon if you have experience of competing in a regular triathlon, mainly to ensure you have a good base level of fitness, experience of transitions, and knowledge of how to stay properly fuelled and hydrated (dehydration is a major health hazard in winter triathlon). And of course, having experience of long-distance running and cycling will certainly be advantageous.
Running across compacted snow isn’t that different to running on hard ground, but it’s worth practicing a relatively high turnover using a midfoot to forefoot strike (as opposed to taking long strides), because overstriding can cause you to punch into the snow.
A tip for your mountain bike training is to ride on sandy surfaces to mimic the huge resistance of the snow, using an easy gear while riding at a high cadence (faster pedal rate); this will ultimately improve your efficiency, work your cardio system more to save strength, and help you manage fatigue before the cross-country skiing leg.
According to ITU representative Eric Angstadt, the technique and demand of Nordic skiing ‘is one of the highest in elite sport’, but it will be your finesse - rather than your fitness - that will be key to skiing fast. Therefore, it is absolutely recommended that you learn to balance and efficiently propel yourself forwards on cross-country skis before entering a competition. If you can attend training sessions at a Nordic skiing centre, fantastic. If not, and you live in the UK, you can prepare by signing up for a Rollerski course which involves cross-country skiing without the snow.
As with regular triathlon training, preparing for a winter triathlon takes commitment and a well-structured training plan so you can put your new skills into practice and improve your strength and cardio endurance. But putting in this effort - at a time when you might normally take things easy - means you will improve your base fitness (which could pay off handsomely come the spring), and experience some spectacular scenery and magical, snowy landscapes along the way.
Would you give a winter triathlon a go? Let us know your thoughts below!
It can be tempting to batten down the hatches or retreat to the warmth of the treadmill during winter months. But with the right gear, preparation and mindset, you can keep on running outside when the temperature drops…
Running on a treadmill is boring; the never changing footstrike is a recipe for overuse injuries; and air-conditioned gyms are a hotbed for bugs. But by following these winter running tips, you can continue your outdoor training in comfort and safety - and get some much-needed fresh air and mood-enhancing daylight - to improve your energy levels and enhance your fitness and race results for the next season.
- Warm up well – Your muscles are like a piece of toffee; when they’re warm, they’re stretchy and flexible; when they’re cold, they’re hard and prone to snapping (i.e., injury). Make sure you take longer to warm up inside (at least 10 minutes) before heading out to run. Get the blood flowing and raise your core temperature by walking/running up and down a flight of stairs, skipping, and doing some dynamic stretches without breaking a sweat - you don’t want to be feeling damp before you’ve even set out.
Find a friend – No one likes letting friends or family down, so having one of them as a running buddy will make you more accountable to turn up to sessions, plus the time will fly by. Can’t rope anyone in? Your next best bet is to join a running club, so you don’t have to grind out your winter miles alone. Visit joggingbuddy.com to find a running partner of a similar level near to you, or go to britishathletics.org to find your local club.
- Be seen – Don’t let dark mornings and nights put a dampener on your runs. Choose clothing featuring high-visibility reflective details placed in high-motion areas, such as your elbows, wrists and ankles, so that drivers can see you in low- or no-light conditions. Consider wearing a head torch so you can see the ground clearly and look out for obstacles.
Get multitasking – Using your runs as a means of travel will give you more motivation and purpose to get out the door. Commuting between your home and workplace is one method, even if you only run to your nearest train station. Alternatively, combine your runs with ticking of that ‘to do’ list or checking in on a relative – putting in a few miles while completing mundane tasks really will leave you feeling like you’ve achieved something good for the day. And investing in a good running backpack will help you get the job done, too.
Keep it constant – Training with high-intensity intervals can cause you to overheat fast, and then feel damp and chilly just as quickly when you drop the effort. The best winter running sessions involve sticking to a constant pace or building up your intensity gradually. Try running to a destination at a steady pace, then retrace your steps using a faster pace. Think maintenance, not gains.
- Layer up – Wearing layers is crucial when running in cold or wet conditions; you need clothing that you can easily remove as you warm up, and layers you can easily transport and quickly pull on if the weather changes or you start to cool down. A lightweight, waterproof, and windproof running jacket is an essential, as is a moisture-wicking baselayer on top, and many seasoned runners recommend wearing a pair of shorts or a running skirt over tights to keep sensitive areas warm. You should also always wear a warm beanie and thermal gloves or mittens (your fingers stay warmer when they’re not separated by fabric).
Listen to your body – Cold and flu bugs fly around in abundance at this time of year. As a general rule, you should ease off of training if you experience any symptoms, such as aches, below the neck. Once you feel okay again, allow an additional two days before you return to training, otherwise you could set yourself back even further.
Remove obstacles – Getting out the door will probably be your biggest obstacle when it’s miserable outside, but you can overcome this by removing all those excuses not to train beforehand. Lay out all your kit and equipment the night before so you can be dressed and out in two minutes flat (a last-minute search for a wooly hat, or a flat phone battery, could see you heading back to bed). Also, consider investing in a daylight alarm clock to help wake you up gently and feel more alive when it’s still dark outside.
- The rule of 10 – No matter how bad your day was or how grotty the weather is outside, make a deal that you’ll go out for 10 minutes on planned running days. Nine times out of 10, you’ll get over the hump and continue, but if you really do feel rubbish, you can then ditch the session guilt-free knowing you tried.
- Reward yourself – Winter is a time for excess and temptation. And if you’re training hard, you may well feel entitled to indulge in a little extra good food and booze. That’s okay, but those late nights and extra calories will soon take a toll. Instead, set goals and reward yourself with treats you’ll feel less guilty about, such as a relaxing deep-tissue massage, or that new pair of trainers you’ve had your eye on. Everything is worth more when you’ve worked hard for it.
Wear the right shoes – You’ll want to keep the warmth in and the rain out, and that requires a pair of running shoes with the least amount of mesh. Many runners switch to trail running shoes in winter months for their waterproof qualities, and these days, they’re also super-lightweight and highly breathable. Don’t forget to wear moisture-wicking, seamless sports socks to keep dampness and blisters at bay.
Stay hydrated – Dehydration can occur whatever the temperature is outside (you’re still sweating, remember), and if you become too dehydrated, you may see a decline in your performance. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, you still need to drink water. Make sure to take sips throughout the day, and hydrate before, during and after your run. You need to be drinking enough so that your urine is pale.
- Keep things familiar – Unless you’re setting out with plenty of daylight hours ahead of you, now is not the time to be exploring new routes. Instead, have a regular route and choose main roads with better lighting and more people around for safety. Run against the traffic so you can see cars coming, and stay aware of pedestrians, animals, and obstacles – you may need to leave the headphones at home.
Warm up post-run – Avoid the chills by stripping out of damp, sweaty clothing as soon as you can and drinking a hot beverage. If you’re not starving, enjoy a hot shower or bath straightaway, then get into your cosiest, comfiest gear in the knowledge you’ve worked hard and it’s now time to relax.
- Feel fuelled – If possible, chuck dinner into a slow cooker before you set out. That way, you can run knowing you have a warm, hearty meal waiting for you when you get home. Stews and soups high in protein are ideal, and make sure to throw in lots of bright and colourful vegetables rich in immunity-boosting antioxidants.