From forgetting something to going the wrong way, we've all been there. Sundried asked our ambassadors "what is the dumbest thing you've ever done at a race?" and these were their answers! Have you ever made any of these racing mistakes?
Helene Wright - Triathlete
I was once on the bike leg of a duathlon and knew I was second lady so was chasing down the leader. I saw a cyclist in the distance so pushed on to catch them. As I got closer I soon came to realise they weren't wearing a number so they weren't even in my race... But worse still I'd followed them off course and down to the bottom of a hill! Fortunately, after getting back into the race, I hadn't lost a place but didn't track down the leader in time to win first place.
John Wood - Team GB Triathlete and Coach
A client of mine raced Cardiff Triathlon as part of training and forgot his wetsuit.
Dominic Garnham - Triathlete
I trained hard throughout all of last winter for a race early this year. I felt very confident and very excited for the race and I was in the best shape I've ever been. I turned up to sign in at registration on the day only to find I had forgotten to actually enter the race!
Nick Lower - Celebrity Trainer
I fractured my ankle 7 miles into ‘Man v Mountain’ (a 20 mile race up and down Mount Snowdon). I stupidly just strapped it up and completed it!
Alice Tourell North - Team GB Triathlete
At a recent race I forgot to put my race belt on! I had the best swim I’ve had this season, flew into T1, got to my bike... and then had to stand there for over 3 minutes whilst the race officials tried to find my husband who had the race belt in my bag. Total nightmare!
Steve Sayer - Triathlete and Coach
My swim hat pinged off and I lost my goggles at Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball, but I had the fastest swim stroke ever!
Martin Owen - Team GB Triathlete
I had an issue until recently of not being able to pedal and drink at the same time. I used to have to coast very slowly to drink. In a standard distance Duathlon, my bottle wouldn’t go back into the holder and it dropped out on the first lap. 35 more miles on 1 gel and no water...not nice!
Anne Iarchy - Personal Trainer
I hadn't ridden my bike for a couple of years due to injury. I had entered a triathlon last year, hoping I would have the time to get back on beforehand. Unfortunately that didn't happen. As I got onto the bike leg, I had totally forgotten how to change the gears on the bike. I managed to take them up, but not down. So when pedalling into the wind, it was really hard work. Thankfully I managed to figure something out on the 3rd lap!
Catherine is a personal trainer who changed her ways after she realised how bad her diet and lifestyle were. She now works hard to help other people on their journey of self development. She talks to Sundried about training and motivation.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I used to be a restaurant manager several years ago, but I had reached a point where I was actually making myself ill due to how bad my diet and lifestyle were. I didn't really care how I presented myself and I realised that if I wanted to do more with my life then I needed to change some things about how I treated myself, so I quit my job and took a full time personal training course before moving to London.
What are your training goals now?
Having just completed the London Triathlon (my first!) my main focus is on helping my body recover so I can feel mobile and strong. During the training I learnt a lot about myself and my mind but I would like spend some time trying a wider variety of activities and really having fun, but am also looking to take part in the Dorney Lake Triathlon next year as well. If anyone would like to join me let me know!
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I grew up on a farm so I love that 'farm smell' that most people pinch their nose at!
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I wish I had been introduced to the world of personal development years ago! I actually think it is something that should be integrated into school programmes as it is often those years when people have the experiences which shape them as a person and can end up holding them back from things later in life. Opening myself up to this and starting to learn more about myself on different levels I realised how little I really knew myself and how much more I am really capable of achieving.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I do not follow a strict nutrition plan most of the time to be honest. I do always encourage my clients to track their nutrition especially at first so they can really get an idea of what exactly they are putting in their body and what different foods contain nutrient and calorie wise. The main thing for me is keeping control of portion sizes and making sure that I consume minimal processed and sugary foods. I also eat very little dairy and gluten products (and now have also reduced alcohol to almost nothing) due to the way they make me feel . But I do have times where I go off track and have to reign myself back in, as does everyone.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
With my clients I spend a lot of time finding out what is really going on in their lives, what motivates them, what is holding them back and why it is they have not previously managed to maintain and active or healthy lifestyle. Setting priorities is essential, a lesson I have learnt several times over, that if you have too many things to focus on you will simply keep extending your to do list and never achieve anything. To stay motivated you also need to know in your heart that what you want is possible and absolutely believe that you can get there, even if the journey will be a bit bumpy.
Talk us through your training regime.
Right now my focus is going to be on mobility, re introducing more weight training and adding some fun activities - I really enjoy exercise where there is an element of learning or having to problem solve so I will be doing 3 days of weight based training, 1 day of boxing and running, and 1 day of climbing or swimming. No doubt some other activities will creep in there as well as a big focus on mine is also to get outdoors more as well, there really is no comparison to being out in nature.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
I am lucky enough to currently be based in Third Space in Canary Wharf in London so not only do I receive ongoing education from their core team which involves training techniques, programming, research based discussions and more, I also have access to some of the best trainers in London to learn from on a daily basis. I also learn by doing, for example I took part in this triathlon in order to give myself the understanding of what it takes to go from zero to being ready for such an event. I think the best way you can really know is by doing it yourself.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
Do exercise you enjoy - if you hate running, don't run. Unless you want to start to train for en event (for me the running was the biggest challenge of the triathlon training) but if your goals are to be generally healthy then don't punish yourself with activities you don't enjoy.
Set your priorities - as I mentioned before, you can't do 10 things at once. If being fit and healthy is genuinely a priority for you, then make sure you make time for it. Schedule it in your diary as if it were a meeting. If you really want it, you will make time.
Find other people who inspire you to be around. You have to be around people who are positive, people who will give anything to reach their goals, and people are succeeding more than you so that you can use them as inspiration to achieve what you want and work harder to get there. I like to think perhaps I am that person for someone else but I have others around me who are training harder and taking their business to new levels and I love it!
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh wow that is a hard question. I think I would have to say overnight oats. I am actually surprising myself by writing that to be honest(!) but I eat them most days at some point and there are so many delicious combinations you can create!
What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?
I have yet to dive into the gym wear but I am fully on board with the tri suit its super comfortable and looks flattering as well. Of course my favourite aspect of Sundried is that they are made of reused materials! Fast fashion is just out of control at the moment and it's so so awesome to see a business reusing all the materials that already exist for clothing instead of creating new ones. I really urge people to think of quality over quantity and if you can't quite afford to buy quality, just wait a little longer until you can and you'll feel so great about it!
Favourite fitness quote:
"The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self."
- Dalai Llama
It is hard to choose a favourite but I think in the current world of social media and pressures at work and so on, it is crucial to focus only on what inspires you and what you want to achieve. Not focusing on what others have but on improving yourself.
Don't know the difference between aquathlon and swimrun? Chances are you've heard of triathlon, but these days multi sport is way more than just the typical swim - bike - run format. We explore some of the newer multi sports as well as the classics that are enjoying a revival.
Let's start with the most popular multi-sport du jour. The Brownlee brothers' performance at the 2012 London Olympics has been followed by a rise in popularity of triathletes like Lucy Charles who are supported by global brands such as Red Bull and are growing a notable fan-base thanks to Instagram. This has led to triathlon becoming more popular than ever and the trend shows no signs of stopping just yet.
Swimming, cycling, running
Distance Swim Bike Run Super Sprint 400 m
Sprint 750 m
Olympic (Standard) 1.5 km
Ironman 70.3 (Half Ironman) 1.9 km
ITU-Middle Distance 3.0 km
Ironman 140.6 (Full Ironman) 3.9 km
ITU-Long Distance 4.0 km
How it works
Triathlon follows a simple swim - bike - run format with transition areas between each discipline. As a triathlete, you will start with the swim which can either be indoors in a swimming pool or outdoors in open water. Open water swims are more popular for most triathlons although some races aimed at beginners will feature a shorter pool swim.
Once you've completed your swim, you run to a transition area where you take off your wetsuit (if you wore one) and change into your bike shoes. You then head off out on your bike for the bike section.
Once finished on the bike, you come back to transition to rack your bike, put on your running shoes, and head off out for the run.
Different triathlon races offer a variety of different course types, from open roads to closed circuits and open water swims in the sea, ocean, rivers, or lakes. If you're really into this sport, you may end up investing in a specialist triathlon bike and all sorts of other specialist kit. For more detailed information about triathlon racing, read our triathlon guide.
As all triathlon races are governed by the ITU (International Triathlon Union), all triathlon races will be fairly uniform and as a racer you will have to stick to rigid guidelines and rules. You will also find the distances always stick closely to those outlined, although some races may have slightly longer or shorter distances due to course design; it will always be within 10% of the prescribed limit though.
For those looking for something a little more rugged, cross triathlon takes triathlon off-road and into the wilderness.
Open water swimming, mountain biking, trail running
Typically a 1km swim, 20-30km mountain bike, and 6-10km trail run but distances can vary from race to race.
How it works
Cross triathlon follows the same format as traditional triathlon but it is all done 'off-road'. The swim is always does in open water such as in a lake or in the ocean, the bike is done on a mountain bike, and the run is a trail run. The idea first started in Hawaii, the spiritual home of triathlon, and has since established itself as a major multi sport with the Xterra Championships being the Holy Grail for cross triathletes.
The courses tend to be much more technical and rugged than that of traditional triathlon and the cycle stage requires more care and skill rather than pure speed. Due to the fact that the bike stage could involve severe hills and navigating trees, rocks and other hazards, comparing times between different races can be tricky and unreliable.
Duathlon is triathlon's close relative, simply eliminating the swim from the popular multi sport racing format. Perfect for those who can't or don't want to swim but also popular among triathletes in the winter season, duathlon can be a very competitive and fast sport.
Super sprint distance - 2.5km run, 10km bike, 2.5km run
Sprint distance - 5km run, 20km bike, 2.5km run
Standard (Olympic) distance - 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run
Middle distance - 10km run, 60km bike, 10km run
Long distance - 10km run, 150km bike, 30km run
How it works
A duathlon follows a run - bike - run format, eliminating the swim from standard triathlon format. Due to the fact most athletes' strongest disciplines are the bike and run sections, duathlon can be extremely competitive and fast.
Duathlon follows the same format as triathlon in that there is a transition between each discipline. You will start with your first run before heading to the transition area to grab your bike and helmet and head out on the bike section. Once that's done, you head back to transition to change into your running shoes and sprint off for your final run.
Duathlon is a very popular sport among triathletes during the winter season when swimming – especially in open water – is impractical. Many triathletes will stay fit and keep their racing strategy strong by competing in autumn and winter duathlon races. Duathlon is also perfect for anyone interested in doing multi sport but who can't or doesn't want to swim. Also, for people looking to dip their toe into multi sport (metaphorically speaking) but who aren't ready to commit to swimming lessons, wetsuits, and the complexities of triathlon just yet.
Aquathlon is another of triathlon's close relatives, this time eliminating the bike section from the popular multi sport format. Less equipment to worry about and perfect for those who don't like cycling, aquathlon is rising in popularity as of late.
Warm water aquathlon (water temperature above 22 degrees Celsius)
2.5km run - 1km swim - 2.5km run
Cold water aquathlon (water temperature below 22 degrees Celsius)
1km swim - 5km run
Long Course aquathlon
2km swim - 10km run
Each country, federation, and even individual race may have its own distance regulation as water temperature can vary so drastically from country to country.
How it works
Transporting a bike to a race, especially abroad, can be logistically difficult. As can organising a race with a bike section, especially if it has to be done on roads open to traffic. Eliminating the bike section of a triathlon – creating the aquathlon – became popular a few decades ago after race organisers and athletes alike realised how much simpler it would be just to have the run and swim portions of the race. Not only this, some people simply don't get on with cycling but still want to enjoy multi sport, so for them aquathlon is the perfect race.
In an aquathlon, it can be either a run - swim - run format or just a swim followed by a run. In general, aquathlon follows the longer distances while modern biathlon is shorter distances. Biathle, which is also swimming and running, is just for training purposes for those who compete in pentathlon.
For those who enjoy swimming and running but want more of a challenge or outdoor adventure, swimrun is the perfect choice. Put simply, swimrun is like aquathlon on steroids.
Open water swimming, trail running
Swimrun has no set distance standard and each race distance varies
How it works
There are several differences between swimrun and its close relative aquathlon. Where aquathlon is like triathlon in that there is a transition area, swimrun differs as there is no stopping in between stages; participants swim in their running shoes and run in their wetsuit.
In triathlon and aquathlon you're not allowed buoyancy aids but in swimrun you're allowed hand paddles and pull buoys because of the drag created by swimming in shoes.
Another difference is that aquathlon is just one swim and one run whereas swimrun could involve several stages, with a minimum of 2 swims and 2 runs. For example, the Breca Swimrun Buttermere is 17 alternating runs and swims.
The final difference is that an aquathlon often takes place in a pool whereas swimrun is always outdoors in open water and on rugged trails. Swimrun is usually done in pairs for safety reasons and for many is considered more of an adventure than purely a race.
Biathle (Modern Biathlon)
Biathle or Modern biathlon is a sub-sport of modern pentathlon invented to create opportunities for training the run and swim parts of pentathlon in real race conditions. It is a sport in its own right. It bears close resemblance to aquathlon which also contains swimming and running but which comes from triathlon sport.
Usually 200m and 3km run but distances can vary from race to race.
How it works
The race always features a mass start run which then goes into a transition area, much like duathlon. Participants must take off their shoes and socks (unlike in swimrun) and then move onto the swim. For the swim, athletes are allowed to use any stroke (unlike triathlon which forbids backstroke in pool swims). Then comes another transition back to running and then to the finish line.
This sport is not to be confused with biathlon which is cross country skiing and rifle shooting and is a winter Olympic sport.
Aquabike is a less popular multi sport that eliminates the run from the swim - bike - run triathlon format. Races are usually undertaken as part of a full triathlon with the participants omitting the run section of the race and just receiving a result for their swim and bike.
Super sprint 400m swim, 10k bike
Sprint 750m swim, 20k bike
Standard 1500m swim, 40k bike
Middle 1.9km swim, 90km bike
Full 3.9km swim, 191km bike
Distances vary but usually follow the same distances as a triathlon with the run omitted.
How it works
Aquabike is competed in the same way as a triathlon, simply with the run eliminated. Aquabike is perfect for triathletes who may be injured and therefore cannot run or simply for anyone who likes the idea of multi sport but doesn't like running.
Quadrathlon is for those who want a little more from their multi sport experience. It is the same as triathlon but with the addition of a kayaking section.
Swimming, cycling, kayaking, running
Sprint Distance Middle Distance Long Distance Swim 750 m 1.5 km 4 km Cycle 20 km 40 km 100 km Kayak 4 km 8 km 20 km Run 5 km 10 km 21 km
How it works
For a quadrathlon race, the individual disciplines can be done in any order however it usually follows a swim - bike - kayak - run format. Quadrathlon generally follows the same rules and format of a triathlon but with the addition of a kayaking element.
Other Multi Sport Races
Sundried is a triathlon specialist and so our passion is for multi sport races related to triathlon. Of course, there are many other types of multi sport such as pentathlon, heptathlon etc but those are track and field sports rather than related to our speciality.
Once you’re comfortable in the water and swimming further and easier than before, the next challenge is to get quicker! Either because you want to beat your friends, set personal bests, finish further up the results, or potentially even qualify for age group teams.
There are three keys to getting faster at swimming:
- Reducing frontal resistance to the water
- Pulling/kicking with purpose
- Not rushing your stroke
Reducing your resistance to the water
This will mean that you can move faster and further with the same level of effort and this is a real foundation to strong and fast swimming. If you are able to focus on good posture in the water – i.e. looking down, lengthening your spine and engaging your core, then you’ll be in a really good place.
A simple trick to focus this is to streamline when you push off the wall every time. This is not cheating – a comment that I get from many athletes! This is a skill that will help you travel faster and with better form, improving the quality of your swims. Imagine it like a squat jump. When you push off the wall, if possible, squeeze your ears between your biceps with your hands together above your head. If shoulder mobility doesn’t allow this, just keep your arms in front of you but still aiming to tuck your chin down toward your chest.
All this will help lengthen your spine and keep your head in the right position – it’s your reset point every length. Finally, when you push off, you will automatically engage your core – meaning that your first few strokes will be among your best ever. Your challenge is then to try and maintain that as far down each length as you can!
Pulling and kicking with purpose
With resistance reduced, you can look to engage with the water more rather than moving your arms and legs just for the sake of moving them. Kick drills can teach you to kick smoothly rather than panic splashing your legs around. You can kick streamlined (see above), on your front or on your back, or do side kick to work on body roll – in any case, make sure that your legs are pushing against the water.
With your arms, you can do sculling drills to get used to feeling pressure of the water against your hands and forearms – and transferring this into doing your full stroke. Swimming with fists can have the same effect. Whatever drills you end up doing, mix them into doing full stroke so that you can feel where the drill is trying to work on in your stroke. Focus on each kick or pull having some purpose rather than trying to just do things for the sake of doing them!
Not rushing your stroke
Finally, with regards to swimming faster I like to think of the phrase "less haste, more speed". If you look at the top athletes in most sports – Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter in rugby, Messi or Ronaldo in football, rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, swimmer Katie Ledecky etc – they never look like they are rushing, even though they are doing things at incredibly high speed.
Some of this comes down to the fact that they are very well practised. On top of this though, they know that they have all the time that they need to undertake the skills that they are doing. There is no rush. In the case of Glover & Stanning, or Katie Ledecky, their stroke rates are incredibly high – but they don’t look like they are rushing things. Again, think about connecting with the water and pushing – rather than just trying to throw your arms and legs around aimlessly to go quicker. Effort does not necessarily equal speed!
About the author: John Wood is a triathlete, triathlon coach, and Sundried ambassador.
Swimming, cycling, and running will inevitably take up most of your time as a triathlete, but hitting the gym and doing strength training is just as important. We chat with two professional triathletes to get the low down on how they strength train to improve their performance and get the most out of their training.
Matt Leeman - professional triathlete
Matt doesn't do strength training in the typical sense. Instead of hitting the gym and lifting weights, he uses natural factors like hills to help him improve his strength and increase his muscular endurance.
Triathlete strength training
Strength training is a big component of any sport, the common definition of strength is "the ability to exert a force against a resistance". Each sport has different demands and hence requires different classifications of strength, triathlon predominantly requires strength endurance - the ability to express force many times over.
Although I personally do not lift weights, which are commonly associated with strength training, I do triathlon-specific strength training, adapting the training of the disciplines to a strength based way of training.
There are swim specific tools that can be utilised to enhance swimming strength, the main ones I use are the pull buoy, hand paddles, and band. The muscles used in swimming are predominantly the lats (side of the back) and triceps. The pull buoy enables swimming with less kicking to maintain the body position so that the upper body can be worked more. The hand paddles create a larger surface area to increase the resistance of a stroke. The band is used to take leg kicking out of the equation and rather get propulsion from the overall movement of the body and core muscles.
The majority of the time in a triathlon is spent on the bike so having good bike strength is essential for putting together a good race, both directly, making you ride faster, and indirectly, the less the bike takes out of you, the more you’ll have left for the run. The two things that can be utilised for bike strength are the bike's gears and hills.
By doing specific intervals ‘over-gearing’ i.e. using a bigger gear than you would usually use to train your leg muscles to produce a greater force so that when we are racing we are working at a lower percentage of our overall capacity. Hills obviously give a great stimulus for developing strength, ensuring you ride on different terrain is important for developing a well rounded strong athlete.
The main ways in which I train my running strength is using hills and mixed surface terrain. I will often do a specific hill repeat session where one specific hill is targeted and run up multiple times. The beauty of hills is that it prevents you from over-striding and promotes glute engagement, which improves our ability to utilise the bigger muscles in the legs such as glutes and quads that handle fatigue better than the smaller muscles of the leg, which is very important in an endurance sport.
Claire Steels - World Champion duathlete
Claire tells us about her three favourite strength training exercises and why they are well suited to an endurance athlete.
Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise is great for running and cycling power but also glute, hip and core stability. Unilateral exercises like the Bulgarian split squat are fantastic for developing the individual leg strength required for sports such as running and cycling, where each leg is required to produce power independently.
TRX Mountain Climbers
This exercise requires core stability and control whilst moving each leg independently. This replicates the physiological control that is required in a duathlon as a strong core is essential for efficient running and cycling.
This is a fantastic exercise for developing power through the posterior chain along the back of the body. It challenges the strength of the whole body but primarily the glutes and hamstrings. It is also a fantastic exercise for testing the cardiovascular system while also trying to produce power making it yet another great exercise for duathletes.