• How To Train Like A Pro With Claire Steels

    Claire Steels Training Session heart rate data

    Claire Steels is a professional duathlete and has a World Champion title to her name. She gives Sundried a snapshot of a training session along with all the stats and data so you can see what it's really like to train as a pro.

    Training Session

    2 x (10 x 10 seconds effort : 50 seconds recovery)

    The majority of the training I have done on the bike is for TT (time trial) type efforts, however as I am looking to move into road racing I need to develop a bit more explosive power.

    This sessions was aimed at developing such power and improving my sprint speed.

    Short, sharp efforts with a longer recovery sounds okay, but by the end of the set the 50 seconds recovery feels far too short!

    I did this session on the Wattbike and then uploaded the data to Strava.

    The screenshots attached show my speed, heart rate and then the last shot shows speed, heart rate, power and cadence.

    Speed, power and cadence are fairly consistent across all of the efforts, although they drop a little towards the end. Heart rate spikes for each of the efforts but also gradually increases across the whole session.

    I find sessions like this challenging and frustrating but in a strange way it means I enjoy them more! Weird I know!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Dan Walsh Athlete Ambassador

    cycling riding bike duathlon duathlete

    Dan found himself with a passion for duathlon after seeing his wife complete the Sundried Southend Triathlon. He talks to Sundried about life in this sport.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I’ve always been an active person. Growing up I played football for my local team, badminton at county level, and represented my school at district athletics.

    What made you decide to enter the world of duathlon?

    I’ve been a keen road cyclist since 2012, catching the cycling bug around the time of the London Olympics, and have ridden sportives, time trials and also commuted in central London by bicycle (only for the brave).

    As I committed more and more of my spare time to cycling I felt it needed a purpose and so I started training for and riding Wednesday evening Time Trials with Essex Roads Cycling Club.

    In the summer of 2018 my wife competed in the Sundried Southend Triathlon which inspired me to look at what events I could compete in. I’ve never been a keen swimmer so wasn’t drawn to triathlon but when I discovered duathlon it seemed like the perfect fit.

    I’ve really enjoyed the duathlons I’ve done so far; the competitive element is challenging and rewarding at the same time and the welcoming spirit within the multi-sport community is fantastic, especially for someone like me just starting out in competition.

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    That would be my first duathlon, the Great Notley Autumn Duathlon in October this year.

    I started my running training in July and already had plenty of kilometres of cycling under my belt so I was feeling reasonably confident but also aware I was going into the unknown as a complete duathlon novice.

    Come the big day I was competing against a field of over 100 including my brother and a friend who both had lots more running experience than me but not quite as much in the cycling department so we were evenly matched. I paced myself well through the first run and came into T1 a little behind them both but was confident I’d make up time on the bike. On the second lap of the bike I managed to pass them both and came out of T2 still in the lead but not wanting to look over my shoulder because I knew they’d be breathing down my neck.

    With about 400 metres to go my brother came past me however, unfortunately for him, he developed a nasty stitch that forced him to slow to walking pace allowing me to get back ahead of him (without gloating I should add). I ended up with a time of 1:13:54, putting me 24th overall and 16th in the Veteran category. I was really pleased with my result and couldn’t wait to continue training and book more duathlons.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Finishing an event, or even a tough training session, and knowing I’ve pushed myself and done the best I’m able to makes me proud.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?

    My only minor disaster so far came at the Great Notley Autumn Duathlon. The exit from T1 was wet and muddy which clogged my cleats up and when I jumped on the bike I couldn’t clip into the pedals. I think I lost about a minute just trying to keep moving forward and get my cleats to engage which was pretty frustrating, especially as I knew my strongest element of the race would be the bike. Tri shoes are on my Christmas list now so hopefully it won’t happen again.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I look to those around me, especially my wife and brother, and how they deal with setbacks and use their positive attitude to help me get over whatever I’m struggling with be that injury, lack of motivation or self-doubt.

    The online communities of Strava and Instagram are great for support and motivation too, whatever I’m going through there’s always someone who’s seen it and done before and is happy to offer the advice and encouragement I need to get past it.

    What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

    Pacing is critical - if the whole field zooms away at the start (let’s hope not but hypothetically speaking) stick to your plan, don't panic and put yourself in the red to keep up because you'll pay for it later and who knows, by managing your effort appropriately you might even pass the whole field later on when they’re spent.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    I’ve got seven duathlons either booked or on my radar for 2019, the summit of which is the London Duathlon in Richmond Park in September. I’m also taking part in the Water Aid Triathlon at Hanningfield Reservoir as part of a relay team. In terms of goals, I want to get at least three top-ten age-group finishes in the duathlons and finish a sprint duathlon in under an hour.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    My wife inspires me. If I see that she’s run, cycled or swam an amount of kilometres in a week I want to push myself to do the same or more. It’s like having a live-in training partner. In fact, that’s exactly what it is!

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    I like Sundried kit because it’s stylish, well-made, premium quality and ethical. I have quite a few favourite bits of Sundried kit: the men's trisuit is what I always wear to compete in, the Roteck 3.0 men's leggings are great for running and made with lots of clever details like the smartphone pocket, hi-vis reflective stripes, cuff zips for easy on/off and breathable panels behind the knees. Lastly, when I'm not training or racing I pretty much live in the Matterhorn Hoodie, it's so warm and soft with a generous hood and huge pockets it's like a sleeping bag I can wear but on occasions I've done evening/night runs in it so it's incredibly versatile.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Mark Jerzak Athlete Ambassador

    outdoor running trail race autumn training

    Mark is a keen cyclist and soon found a passion for duathlon. He talks to Sundried about bike rides with his daughter and his love for the social aspect of amateur sport.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes. When I was young I played a lot of sport and I've never really stopped. Mostly it was football and rugby but also tennis, cricket, swimming, golf, squash and athletics - all with varying degrees of success and ability. Despite playing at quite a competitive level in a few sports I wasn’t ever naturally the best player in any team so I quickly learned the importance of training and playing to my strengths.

    My sporting career went a bit off the rails at university, unless you count notoriety as a table-football shark! So after uni, I set myself the target of running the London Marathon to try and get fit and lose some weight. It was a big challenge for someone who’d never really done any long distance endurance running, but I followed a plan, lost the weight and ended up completing it in 3 hours 10 minutes. And in the process fell in love with endurance sports.

    A few years later I moved to Bristol and got into cycling, initially by commuting to work every day on a road bike. But then I plucked up the courage to join a local club and enter a few races. I now live in the countryside about 10 miles south of Bristol, an area which didn’t have a cycling club. So two years ago I started a club out here with a couple of friends, called Chew Valley Cycling Club. It’s grown to 50 members and continues to grow which has been a really enjoyable way to stay fit and make loads of new friends.

    What made you decide to enter the world of duathlon?

    Cycling has been my primary sport for the last 10 years, but I’ve always maintained a little bit of running as cross training. Mostly trail running in the hills where I live. Last year I ran a hilly 10k in 41 minutes which brought back memories of unfinished 10k business with an old PB of 40 minutes and 12 seconds.

    So, I set a target of finally beating the 40 minute barrier before I turned 40. I ended up doing a 38 minute 10k which felt like a great achievement, especially the feeling that at 38 I was fitter and faster than my 22 year old version! But along the way I also entered a few duathlons, and despite being totally clueless about how to transition between running to cycling and then back to running again, I found myself enjoying the challenge and getting a few top 10 finishes.

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    My favourite duathlons are the Super Sprint events at Castle Combe race track in Wiltshire. I think I've raced there four times this year so it’s a great way to gauge my fitness and to try different approaches without the pressure of it being a big race. Plus there’s nothing like the feeling of flying around on the super smooth tarmac track on a warm summer's evening.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Last winter I trained with a triathlon club which was useful for a number of reasons. Firstly, it made me aware that I’m a terrible swimmer, but I also met a few athletes who were part of Age Group GB which sounded awesome. Being able to compete for your country as an amateur seemed like a fantastic achievement so I set myself the target of trying to join them. Fortunately, there is a GB Duathlon team, so I could postpone my ambitions to become a fish.

    Over the course of the year I trained hard and saw my performance improve and ended up finishing 4th in my age group at the European qualifiers at Bedford in October to claim an automatic place in the GB team for next season.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters?

    I think on balance I’ve had more go wrong than right in races. Getting a stitch and having to stop and watch people overtake, incurring time penalties during transitions, being sick during a race, arriving late, going too hard … the list goes on!

    But my biggest disaster was earlier this year when I lost count of laps during the bike leg of my first attempt at qualifying for Age Group GB and had to ride around for a soul destroying extra lap. I kept going and finished the race but it really hurt, both physically and emotionally knowing that I’d trained so hard and then potentially thrown away my best chance of qualifying by making a stupid mistake. I had to wait 5 months for the next qualifier so I had enough time to wallow in my misfortune before resolving to come back fitter, stronger, faster … and a little bit wiser too. I think it made the victory that much sweeter after experiencing the failure first.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I love my sport and I love the training. I never got into running or cycling to win races, but because I love the feeling of doing those activities and the sensation of getting fitter and faster. So when things go wrong, I try to understand the reason for the setback and then just get back to enjoying the training.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    Just do it. From the outside it looks like everyone is competitively racing against each other and if you get involved they’ll eat you alive. But in reality most people are doing it for the fun, the adrenaline and the personal challenge. The interaction with other racers is almost always camaraderie rather than competitiveness. There’s often a sense that everyone is part of the same thing.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    To arrive at the European Championships fitter, stronger and faster than this year. But also to remember that it’s just one day in a whole year so not to get too worried about it. I’ll do the training and then try to enjoy the occasion. I’m a big believer in “train hard, race easy” as it helps me to temper my enthusiasm at the start of a race and actually pace myself.

    I’d like to become faster at time trials on the bike too as this is my favourite cycling discipline and the improvements are easily measurable, but I’d also like to keep encouraging my children to be fit and active and to enjoy their sport. My five year old daughter loves swimming so we go to the pool together every week. And last time we were out cycling together she was riding along singing “I love cycling, I love cycling...”, which I thought was really magical.

    The priority for 2019 and the future has to just be enjoying running and cycling. Race results are just a by-product of that continued passion.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I like to follow my fellow amateur athletes on social media and take inspiration from what they are all doing. There’s a real community in amateur sport so it’s great to turn up at races and see familiar faces and talk to people that you’ve raced with before.

    Plus there’s all the volunteers who turn up every week to run the events, marshal the races and serve tea and coffee back at HQ. I organised a hill climb this year as I wanted my club to give something back to the cycling community. It was great fun, but also far harder work and far more stressful than just turning up and racing! But when you get involved, you become a part of that world and meet plenty of interesting and inspiring people. There’s still such a grass-roots feel to club races and it’s that old-fashioned, amateur sport ethos that I enjoy and which makes me want to keep racing.

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    Sundried kit looks great and performs well too. You can feel that it’s been developed by athletes who know what they expect from their sportswear. It’s also great that the company has such a positive emphasis on the environment and its ethics. I’m a civil engineer in my day job and have spent time working in the renewable energy sector, so I like being associated with a sports brand who ensure that everything they do has the very smallest carbon footprint.

    My favourite item of clothing is the Sundried Plaret Men's Training T-Shirt which I wear while running and in the gym. It fits really well and does a good job of wicking away the sweat without the shirt sticking to me. I also own the Sundried Dom 2.0 Men's Running Vest which is a really comfortable and stylish vest. However, I’m a cyclist more than a true duathlete so still have a bit of an aversion to getting my shoulders out in public. I save my vest for race day! Maybe once my official Team GB kit arrives I’ll finally have to man up and go full sleeveless in 2019!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Alister Brown Team GB Age Group Duathlete

    Alister Brown UKRunChat Sundried

    Alister Brown is an avid runner and represents Great Britain as an age group duathlete. 

    Have you always been sporty?

    From the age of 8, I played Sunday league football so I've always been a little active; I was always average at a lot of sports but never really excelled in just one.

    When and why did you start triathlon?

    I was hospitalised after receiving a nasty tackle playing football at the age of 20 and it put me off contact sports all together. After a year not doing much I started running round the block because I could feel myself becoming sedentary. Then I met Sam Anderson at a local 10k, who's now a good friend, and she was flying in Age Group Triathlon and winning races for fun which planted a seed in my mind. Within a year I had joined my local Triathlon club to add some challenge and excitement to my life.

    Why switch to duathlon?

    I tried so hard to enjoy swimming but it just wasn't working out. I was impatient too which is not ideal when swimming as it takes lots of dedication and time to see small improvement your swim times. I was more of a natural runner and cycling was more interesting!

    What’s been your biggest challenge to date?

    Probably getting round and finishing my first long distance Duathlon at the European Championships in May this year. I hadn't trained very well with a dodgy ankle and my fitness was questionable! I had to dig in deep to finish the last run as I wasn't able to run in a straight line with 5k to go! The race photos speak a thousand words.

    What are your goals now?

    I'd like to add to my trophy collection and one day become a professional athlete!

    How do you recover between training sessions?

    By eating a well balanced diet, doing lots of stretching, getting at least 8 hours of sleep, and keeping myself hydrated.

    What has been your best race to date?

    My best race was probably when I finished 3rd at Hereford Duathlon - a small local race - but I remember feeling really good and even after a decent bike leg I was still able to run comfortably fast. Races like that make you feel amazing for days afterwards.

    Tell us about your charity work and fundraising.

    I have done some charity work in the past raising money for Variety, the Children's Charity by running 4 Marathons in 4 days in 2015.

    However right now I am fundraising to travel to Izmir, Turkey to offer much needed assistance to some of the 80,000 Syrian refugees currently there trying to make some sort a life for themselves until they are able to return home to Syria. 

    What are your top training tips for tri and duathlon?

    1. Consistency is key.
    2. Be patient and never go for the quick fix.
    3. Enjoy everything you do and be happy in what you are doing.
    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Clumber Park Duathlon 2018

    Clumber Park Duathlon Race Report 2018 Sundried

    Life seems so much simpler to me when I have clarity and clear direction, so I recently sat down and wrote some plans which included a desire and a come-back to a healthier and fitter me.

    I turn 28 this year and although I’ve not raced in two years, I feel like I have spent my time well on other areas of personal development and as a result, I feel mentally and physically ready to commit to life in a much better way. By life, I mean everything, especially the ability to take negativity and turn it into positivity and I truly believe life is what you make it. I have made a promise to myself to never become complacent and to always follow my own path. With this in mind, four weeks ago I decided to commit to a six month training plan with the aim of qualifying for the Sprint Duathlon World and European Championships in 2019.

    I am a month into my six month plan, and Clumber Park Sprint Duathlon seemed a fun tester event to set a benchmark of my fitness and to experience a race again. I finished runner-up in my age-group, qualified for the European Championships a lot earlier than I had thought I would, felt strong and in control and I am happy with the early progress I have made. I also noticed the guys who finished ahead of me in other age-groups and I now know how much work I’ve got to do to be right up there in the overall standings. My ambition is well and truly alight and I’m using this to keep me in a good mental place by having a clear focus.

    Clumber Park Duathlon Age Group Bike Run

    Moving on from this race, my aim is to stay motivated, consistent, sensible and take each day as it comes.

    Things that I have learned over the last couple of years:

    • Never ever set myself limits. There are no limits.
    • Train and race smarter; not harder. There’s a time and a place for kick-ass hard sessions, just not every day.
    • Make a plan and stick to it.
    • Discover the entertainment value in ‘everything’ I do.
    • Set goals as possibilities and not as expectations.

    About the author: Alister Brown is an avid runner and represents Great Britain as an age group duathlete. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren