It is a sad time of the year when we reach the season of dark nights, cold weather and indoor training. Since racing the Hever Castle triathlon I have had a few easy weeks where I suffered from the first cold of the season and spent my evening cleaning my house and not getting up at 5 in the morning. This sounds like a lovely break, but in reality I was bored after a few days.
I dragged my horse out the nettles to do some show jumping as he had been looking a bit fat and lazy, so I thought it was time to get him out and about. In return for the lack of attention I had shown him, he went to his first competition behaved very badly.
In my opinion, the only good thing about winter is cross country running. It is a great chance to race and be part of a team. Last weekend saw the first league race of the season. I have done virtually no running since Hever but wanted to go and have some fun with my friends from the running club. One of the first problems was finding all my kit and it turns out storing your spikes covered in last year’s mud outside in a garage does not do them any favours! The race was taking place at Writtle College in Essex and the ground was pretty solid and there was no mud at all. I enjoyed most of the race but failed pretty dramatically to tie my shoelaces up. When the first one came undone after mile 1 I thought, "I can deal with this" but the other one came undone after mile 3 so I carried on with my spikes virtually falling off after every step! I kept my shoes on to finish 6th girl which I was pretty happy about having done very little running and given that I almost lost both my shoes.
I am now getting back into the swing of training although a lot of it is indoors. I suspect by the end of the winter I will have watched the whole of Netflix on my turbo! I am looking forward to a “holiday” to Cyprus in a couple of weeks to train with ETE training camps and my coach Perry Agass. Fingers crossed that there is plenty of sunshine!
Sundried discover how Rob Osborne balances his triathlon training with a full-time job and being a father of three.
How did you get into triathlon?
I used to swim competitively until the age of 11 and did track athletics (400m hurdles) at University. For some time I had always fancied doing a triathlon. The impetus I needed was when my age 90-year-old granny told me I was looking 'a bit porky' at a family reunion and that I needed to lose some weight. That evening I went straight home and entered the Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon. I dabbled on and off for several years getting OK results until I qualified for the Team GB Age Group team in 2012 and I’ve improved a lot since then, I've really just focused on sprint triathlons.
How do you balance a full-time job, three kids, and competing?
I try to get a lot of my training done whilst the girls are sleeping or incorporate as part of the work commute. I do most of my cycling on the Turbo trainer. I try to choose local events where the family can come and watch too (traffic-free races generally have a more sociable start time). Work is busy too and can be manic so I'll often be working in the evening after the kids have gone to bed or at weekends. One of the things I don't balance very well is sleeping; I typically get about 5-6 hours - it would definitely help me if I could get more than that!
What’s your top tip for other triathletes?
It's a cliche but have fun and don't take yourself too seriously! It's important not to lose perspective, after all, triathlon is a hobby (I may have been guilty of this once or twice before a big event). Also, don't try to smash every session.; easy workouts and rest are as important as intense sessions.
What has been your biggest fitness challenge to date?
I did the Oxfam Trail Walker event in 2006 which is a 100km walk over 24 hrs. However, I think the hardest event I've done is my first (and only) marathon, which was Zurich in 2008. I'm more of a short distance athlete and I properly hit the wall with 10km to go and it was not pretty!
What is your proudest achievement?
Winning the British Sprint Triathlon Championships for my age group (40-44). I also won silver in the AG European Championships in both 2012 and 2013.
What’s your next event and how are you preparing for it?
I'm doing the London City mile next weekend which should be fun. It's local and free to enter! I've also entered the Leeds Castle Sprint triathlon which is also the English National championships. I recently did the European masters swimming and then had a family holiday for a week, so I think my main focus for the next week or so is to build back some endurance and strength on the bike which has been a bit neglected. Ideally I'd like to recce the course beforehand but I don't think I will get a chance - the run course looks scarily hilly!
Why work with Sundried?
I really like the fresh new look and the quality of the gear; it's stylish and functional at the same time. I also like the ethos of the company, their core values, and social responsibility.
Steve Berry began his fitness journey as an overweight father worried about keeping up with his child. Now his son has tough shoes to fill as he has entered one of the toughest challenges on the planet: the Ironman triathlon.
How did your fitness journey begin?
My fitness journey began back in 2006 when my little boy was 18 months old. I was a bit of a couch potato, weighed 18st (115kg) and was on the verge of being morbidly obese. I started going to a local gym as I thought I would never be able to play sport with my little boy if I didn't do something about the weight. This turned into taking part in charity challenges and eventually competing on a bike for my local cycling club.
What made you decide to take the leap into triathlon?
I decided to take the leap into triathlon after I had been successful in cycling, winning a few National Time Trialing championships. I was becoming a bit bored of just cycling all of the time, I wanted a new challenge, and the natural progression said triathlons, so I just took the plunge.
How does your first triathlon compare to your most recent triathlon?
Comparing my first triathlon to my most recent one and I think there isn't a great deal of difference. I am faster in the swim now which helps massively, but I am still more of a bike specialist. I don't get as nervous now; the first one was really nerve wracking with not really knowing what to do.
When is your next event?
My next event is a half iron distance triathlon. This is part of the Castle Triathlon Series and it will be at Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire.
What does your training regime involve?
Training involves a pretty even split of swim, bike and run, with generally 4 swims a week of around 3 km for each swim, 6 bike sessions which are mainly turbo sessions with a long ride at weekends, some of those are 2 sessions in a day as well. The turbo sessions are mainly interval sessions of varying intensities. I normally do 4 or 5 runs a week of which one weekend day is 2 runs in the day. Mostly short runs of up to 12km, but one long one of around 20-25km, all of which generally have intervals in. Training on average is about 14-15 hours a week.
How do you find balance with work/training and your social and family life?
The balance of training is difficult sometimes. I do have a wonderfully supportive family, but I generally get my swimming done on the way to work, and the evening sessions are done either straight after work or while my son is at Sea Cadets, this way the disruption is minimised. The weekends can be tough as the long bike ride does take up time, and if I’m doing 2 sessions a day I have to try and fit in the 2nd session in the evening, so it can mean missing out on a film or family time for example.
What's your aim for your next triathlon?
The next triathlon is a bit of a stepping stone to a full iron distance triathlon I am doing on the 10th July, this is a target event for me as I want to try and finish on the podium, so the race next weekend I will be sort of training through so I am not expecting a great result. Saying that I still hope to do well enough to get top 10 and finish on the podium in my age group.
Why did you choose Sundried?
I chose Sundried as the quality is superb and the previous designs of the T-shirts were really fun. The new sports wear again is great quality and a really nice fit.
Harry is a young cross country runner who juggles studying at university with his training. He talks to Sundried about his motivation as an athlete.
How did you get into fitness?
I started when I was 15 at school. The running club coach noticed that I was quite good at running, so I joined the school team and did well in competitions. I now run for my university's athletics and cross country club. I started working out in the gym and cycling for pleasure when I was 18 because a friend asked me to join him and I got addicted to it!
What are your training goals?
For running, my goal is to run a marathon in under three hours. I have entered the London Marathon ballot, so if I get a place, it would be amazing to run a sub-3-hour marathon in my home city of London. For the gym and general fitness, I don’t compete so my goals are to continue to be happy with how my body looks and makes me feel whilst continuing to work out my upper body, legs, and abs.
Do you compete in any sports?
I compete in Cross Country and occasionally athletics. I ran for my school, Borough, and now the University of Bristol. I prefer longer distance races like half marathons and marathons, however, I have competed in distances as short as 400m before.
When is your next competition?
I am running the Great Team Relay on the 14th of July. It is a 5km road relay which starts and finishes on the track in the Olympic Stadium in London. We are entering a few teams from the University of Bristol Athletics and Cross Country Club, so we have been doing shorter training sessions on the road recently to build up our speed.
What would be your advice to someone new to a fitness programme?
Whether it be running, working out in the gym, or any other form of fitness, I would definitely recommend doing your fitness programme with a friend. I go for runs and work out in the gym both on my own and with other people and I find it so much more rewarding when I do it with someone else. It is very easy to give up when you're on your own, but together we push ourselves to achieve more than we would if we worked out on our own.
How do you balance work and training?
I am currently studying at the University of Bristol, so have lectures and tutorials throughout the week and reading and essays to do in my spare time. I tend to go to the gym early in the morning about four times a week to have a good productive start to my day. I train with the University’s Athletics and Cross Country Club, so we have set training times which are early evenings on weekdays, which is good because it is at the end of the working day and gives me something to look forward to. However, on the weekends, I like to go for longer runs with fewer people and we usually go around midday to break the day up a bit.
Why did you choose Sundried?
I chose Sundried because the products are great for so many different things; I can train comfortably in the gym, on my bike, and whilst running when wearing Sundried. The quality and finish on the products are far better than I have experienced before.
Nigel got into cycling when he was overweight and living an unhealthy lifestyle. He talks to Sundried about how cycling has changed his life.
Have you always been into sport?
Growing up, my main sport was badminton and I was fortunate enough to represent Wales in several age groups. I played until I was 21 then gave up due to work commitments.
I started cycling in 2013 and got back into sports to improve my health. At the time, I was weighing in at over 105kg, smoking at least 20 a day, and drinking frequently. I was playing golf regularly but it wasn't doing my health any good.
I started cycling on a hybrid bike purchased through the "cycle to work" scheme and really enjoyed it. In July 2014, I attended stage 1 of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. I was instantly hooked on road cycling and, within 2 weeks, I was the proud owner of a new carbon road bike. The rest, as they say, is history.
In September 2016, I hired a coach in order to structure my training and now train up to 6 times a week, occasionally 7. I no longer drink or smoke and, at my lowest, got down to 80kg. Cycling has changed my life!
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
In September 2019, I took part in the Isle of Man TT sportive on the world-famous circuit. I have visited the island many times to watch the races and to ride the same circuit as many of my heroes, although a little slower, was a dream come true. I hope to return again this year.
And your proudest achievement?
Completing the 100-mile closed road "Velothon Birmingham" in under 5 hours in 2019.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
The 2015 Mark Cavendish sportive in Chester. It features over 10,000ft of climbing over 115 miles. I had to abandon the ride with just 15 miles remaining due to mechanical issues.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I remind myself how far I've come and how well I have done to achieve what I have so far. Many others would have given up. My coach is very fast to remind me of this.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Set yourself a target and make it realistic. Hire a coach and discuss what you are trying to achieve.
What are your goals for 2020?
In May, I am doing a charity ride from London to Paris in aid of Qhubeka & Mind charities. I also intend to ride 150 miles in a day and may look at the possibility of riding from North to South Wales in a single day.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Qhubeka is a charity that inspires me to do more. I have been an avid supporter of this charity for a few years and the knowledge that I am supporting children in South Africa in attending school in order to better their lives really inspires me to do more.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
In today's world, I am very impressed that Sundried use 100% recycled materials and promote reduction in waste and saving the environment, particularly around plastic pollution. The affordable prices are also a big bonus, especially when similar brands are charging a small fortune for their products.