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 not 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 at the European championships, I compete in my first senior elite race at Blenheim palace in 2019 which was incredible to be able to just finish the race without being lapped against 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. Mainly shin splints, over the years at 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 to train to avoid them (smart training). I also worked around the injury by compromising using other sports (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 to compete at the world championships in Bermuda in 2021. To get a sub 20 5k in a triathlon. 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 the 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.
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!
2020 has been a tough year and the ever-growing list of race cancellations and postponements have caused mass disappointment. Of course, public health and safety is of the upmost importance and so race rearrangements are the right course of action.
With 2021 looking as unprecedented as 2020, it is important to devise a racing calendar that keeps you motivated to train. For this week’s blog, I wanted to share some ideas on how you can get the most out of your training and racing next season.
Take a non-negotiable 2020 end of season break
Just because you have not raced, it does not mean that you can carry on training into next season. Your body has worked hard in training and your mind will be fatigued from the early mornings and intense sessions. Take a couple of weeks off any training regimen to recuperate, re-energise and recover.
Focus on a challenge rather than an event
To ensure that your main focus will go ahead irrespective of the restrictions, choose to embark on a challenge rather than sign up to a race. This will prevent you having to change plans and alter your training because of cancellations and postponements.
Schedule in small local time trials
Build up to your big challenge with small local time trials that are secure and less likely to be disrupted if new restrictions are applied. These types of events are often relatively cheap and do not require upfront payments so that you will not be paying for anything that does not go ahead.
If you are set on an event, be prepared to race solo
For some, having a target race is non-negotiable. If you are set on a particular race then put it in the diary and make sure you do it, no matter what. Even if the event has to be delayed, make sure you get out and complete it as a solo challenge. This will give you something to aim for and ensure your motivation does not dwindle.
Make the most out of group sessions but be primed to fly solo
When you can train in a group, make the most out of it. However, it is important that you do not become reliant on others as the future of group training sessions is currently uncertain. Ensure that you have pre-organised solo workouts and virtual training groups.
Utilise the gym and pool whilst you can but plan for closures
The reopening of pools and gyms were well received amongst the fitness fans and so take advantage of them whilst you can. The closure of leisure facilities is not completely off the cards and so I would recommend investing in some basic gym equipment and swim cords to utilise at home if necessary.
Respect the stress
The pandemic and its ramifications can be overwhelming. We all must respect that this is a stressful time and decrease our training load to keep the stress/rest cycle in balance. This is definitely a time when we must be flexible in our approach to training and take into account external pressures.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
If you're on a roll with your training or on a plan for a specific event, sometimes it's tempting to train even when your muscles are sore and achy. We look at whether it's a good idea to still train when you are sore.
Are sore muscles a good sign?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, is common among those who exercise regularly and is nothing to shy away from. Especially if you have recently increased your training intensity/frequency or you are a complete beginner to exercise, you can expect DOMS to last up to 72 hours after your workout.
Our muscles feel sore after a workout because when we train, we develop tiny 'satellite' tears in the muscles. Your muscles get stronger not when you exercise but afterwards, when you are eating and sleeping. This is why consuming enough protein and getting good quality sleep are both key to recovery and improving performance.
Sore muscles are a sign that you have worked hard and that your muscles are on their way to becoming stronger and more efficient. If your DOMS lasts over 72 hours, however, it's time to look at what you might be doing wrong. Perhaps you're not resting enough or not eating enough/the right nutrients. Once your body gets used to a certain training regime, you will find you don't get DOMS as often, if at all, which can be a signal it's time to crank up the intensity or change up your routine.
Read more: Are You Overtraining?
Read more: How Often Should I Take A Complete Rest Day?
Is it OK to work out if your muscles are sore?
In general, it is a bad idea to workout if your muscles are sore. Your muscles need time to repair and grow and it is only while you are resting that this can happen. However, this is not to say you cannot train at all.
If you train certain body parts at a time, you can easily train a different part of your body that is not aching that day. For example, if your chest and triceps are aching, you could still do a leg workout.
If you practise a sport that focuses mostly on one muscle group such as running or cycling, there are still ways to get around skipping workouts. You could do your speed session on a Monday, followed by a hill session on a Tuesday and then rest on Wednesday. Then, you could do another speed session Thursday, a gym workout Friday, and your long run on Saturday with another rest day on Sunday. This sort of plan allows your legs to rest after the toughest sessions when they are most likely to ache.
In another sense, sometimes it's actually a good idea to train when your muscles are sore. Many runners will do a 'recovery run' the day after a particularly tough training session, which means doing a short and easy run to shake out any lactic acid still sitting in the legs and keeping active to stop your legs getting too stiff.
In summary, it's only bad to do an intense or tough workout when your muscles are sore. It can actually be beneficial to do a light workout to ease achy muscles.
Read more: DOMS Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Read more: How To Reduce DOMS In The Legs
CrossFit is more than just a sport, it's a community and a way of life. This guide will be your one-stop manual for getting into CrossFit for the first time and will cover everything from snatches to WODs to poods and everything in between.
You don't have to be fit to get started
This is probably the most important thing to note. A lot of people will put off trying a new sport or hobby for fear of being too unfit. CrossFit is accessible to everyone thanks to their scaled workouts. Whether you're unfit or have a disability, there's something for everyone. Don't let your nerves or insecurities hold you back and just dive straight in.
You will sweat and cry a lot
CrossFit is a notoriously tough sport. They don't crown the CrossFit Games champions as the Fittest On Earth for nothing! You have to have the motivation and the right attitude before you start. It has to be your decision and you have to own it; if you've been coaxed into it by someone else you'll be starting with the wrong attitude and you'll find it way harder than it needs to be. Be ready to sweat a lot and cry a lot, but reap the benefits and rewards at the end of a tough WOD.
Find a local CrossFit gym, known as a 'Box'
If you really want to dive straight in and hit this sport hard, finding your local CrossFit gym will help you get there. A CrossFit gym is known as a box and there are affiliates all over the world. You can find your local box through an internet search or by checking out affiliates on the official CrossFit website. A box will have all the proper CrossFit-specific equipment that you need, as you may not get a full workout at a commercial gym. Getting professional advice by an accredited trainer will also stop you from developing bad habits and will be available to give you advice along the way.
However, you don't have to join a box to be able to practice CrossFit. They can come with expensive memberships and you'll have to do a foundation course before you can participate in the classes. A commercial gym will have most of the equipment you need, and some people even just train out of a garage. Use what you have and don't feel like you're missing out just because you're not a member of an exclusive club or gym.
Know the jargon
There's a lot of sport-specific terminology used in CrossFit which you won't have come across before. Knowing what people are talking about is important if you want to join in on discussions about performance, and so that you know what workout you should be doing! Here are the basics:
WOD - Workout Of the Day. A daily workout published on the CrossFit website which CrossFitters all over the world will tackle and post their results to the public forum. A WOD is also a general term to refer to any CrossFit workout.
Pood - This is a Russian term which is a unit of measurement equalling just over 16kg. It is generally used for kettlebell workouts.
Rx - This is the prescribed way a workout should be completed, with set weights and times/reps. If you Rx a WOD, it means you completed it exactly how it was written. Alternatively, you can 'scale' a workout which might involve reducing the weights or swapping out an exercise. The CrossFit community is one of acceptance and inclusion, so scaling a workout is never anything to be ashamed of.
MetCon - Short for Metabolic Conditioning. This is typically a workout that doesn't involve heavy lifts, and consists more of a body weight circuit style workout. There is also a very popular CrossFit shoe by Nike called the 'MetCon'.
Double Under - This is a movement in skipping whereby the rope passes under your feet twice before they hit the ground. It's a tough movement and you won't be able to do it straight away without practice.
Practise the lifts
CrossFit is unique as it involves so many different physical disciplines: gymnastics, weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming, rope climbing... you name it, CrossFit will have you doing it! CrossFit will train you as a well-rounded athlete and with the right dedication you will develop unrivalled fitness. Think triathlons are impressive? Pro CrossFitters do Ironman triathlon as a warm up!
However, this can be overwhelming to a beginner. The only way to improve is to practise! If you go into the sport expecting to be perfect at it straight away, you'll be left feeling frustrated. CrossFit adopts a lot of really technical moves that athletes will spend their whole lives perfecting. Take your time and practise the exercises that you find the toughest. Scale a workout if you need to and take it easy. Some of the more difficult moves include things like handstand push ups, double unders, rope climbs, and weightlifting moves like the clean & jerk and the snatch. Learn these moves properly from scratch before trying to incorporate them into WODs and build yourself up slowly and gradually.
Know the stars of the sport
The CrossFit Games is the annual pinnacle of the CrossFit calendar. It's the event in which the fittest athletes in the world will congregate and compete to be crowned Fittest On Earth. As with most sports, there are star players, but CrossFit is open to anyone in the qualification stages so often there are rookie competitors too.
Fraser is the athlete to watch and is the proud holder of the title of Fittest Man on Earth. He is four-time winner of the games (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), equalling Rich Froning's record. He's competed in the games since 2014 and has proven how hungry he is for the sport and to be recognised as the fittest man on earth. He has spent years honing his technique and perfecting his lifts and it really shows.
Until Fraser won his fourth consecutive games in 2019, Froning held the record for winning the games the most amount of times, having claimed the title four years in a row from 2011 to 2014. He has won over $1 million in prize money from his wins and is sponsored by global sports brands like Reebok, Rogue Fitness, and Oakley. He is renowned in the sport and partly retired after his 2014 win. He now competes in the team events with his team Mayhem Freedom who are reigning team champions.
While Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Dave Castro is the face most people recognise as he hosts the games each year and it was at his family ranch in 2009 that the first ever CrossFit Games took place. His personality gets him mixed reviews and some even claim he has 'ruined' the sport. Nevertheless, he is one of the most important figures in CrossFit and it's him you will see on the floor announcing the next WOD in the Games and mixing with all the athletes.
Davidsdottir is one of three Icelandic powerhouses who dominate the female side of the sport. She has won the games twice, 2015 and 2016, after a mental setback in 2014. She was originally a track athlete and gymnast and her sporting background has clearly stood her in good stead for CrossFit glory.
Despite never actually winning the games, Sara is a leading figure in the sport of CrossFit. Sponsored by Nike, she is another of the Icelandic dynamos and has a very likeable personality making her the perfect CrossFit athlete to watch. She unfortunately suffered a bad injury during the 2018 games which caused her to withdraw and she continued to struggle in 2019. Only time will tell if she will be able to recover enough to challenge Tia-Clair Toomey's title.
Toomey is an Australian weightlifter who represented her country in the 2016 Olympics only a few weeks after appearing at the CrossFit games. With her background in lifting, she is a strong competitor and now has three consecutive CrossFit Games wins to her name – 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is now the one to beat and is sure to train as hard as possible to hold on to her title.
Follow the WODs
Each day, a new WOD is released on the CrossFit website. CrossFitters from around the globe are invited to have a go, Rx'd or scaled, and post their results in the forum. Some WODs are for time, some for reps, some for rounds. The beauty of CrossFit is how varied the workouts are and you never know what you're going to get. You have to be ready for anything, from a heavy lifting session to a gruelling run, which is why it conditions your fitness so well. Have a go at any of the WODs that are published and compare your results to others so you can see where you stand.
The biggest WODs in the CrossFit arsenal are the Hero Workouts. Each workout is named after a member of the armed forces who died in combat and they are always notoriously tough workouts. Some of the most renowned are Murph, DT, and Fran, with true enthusiasts marking their territory by asking newbies "What's your Fran time?" All this means is how long did it take you to complete this particular workout. All of the Hero Workouts can be found on the CrossFit website and traditionally one is always completed on Memorial Day in the US.
The CrossFit Games
The CrossFit Games are the pinnacle of the CrossFit year. Held every August in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, the games showcase the best of the best and pit the top athletes from around the world against one another to claim the title of Fittest On Earth.
The CrossFit Games have various unique aspects which set them apart from other annual sporting events (such as the Tour de France for cycling or Wimbledon for tennis). First, the events for the games are only announced that day and none of the athletes know what to expect. This keeps the element of surprise and means that athletes have to train everything and stay well-rounded rather than knowing what events are going to be included and only training for them. It also means that the events are more fair as some athletes are better at heavy lifting, some better at cardio, and some better at gymnastics.
Another unique aspect of CrossFit (which we love) is that in many events the men and women compete together. In some cases, the women beat the men, proving that women are equal to men in physical capability. Events like the Tour de France which do not even have a female version could take note. For example, in the 2019 CrossFit Games, individual event 9 was a swim-paddle consisting of a 1,000m swim followed by a 1,000m paddle. Ten men and ten women took part and the overall winner was a woman, Tia-Clair Toomey, who beat all 10 of the fittest men on earth in this particular event.
So you want to try CrossFit
CrossFit can get a bad rap by some people, usually bodybuilders who have never tried a CrossFit WOD and don't understand what it's all about and just follow what other people say. CrossFit is an awesome sport as it is totally inclusive and everyone encourages one another to succeed. It is open to anyone and you could even be the next champion if you work hard enough.
So, get started! Study the WODs, learn the lingo, watch the Games, and get involved. You will be amazed at how fun it is and how incredibly fit you will get in a short amount of time. Have fun!