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.
There is nothing quite like focus to take you to the next level, no matter what sport or fitness endeavours you are embarking on. This is the singular reason I love going on training camps, although there are a few other highly valid reasons for this, especially during northern hemisphere winters!
After the so-called ‘off-season’ – usually characterised by a little too much Christmas indulgence – there’s no better feeling than to kick start your training and turn your back on inclement weather by heading to sunnier climes for some big mileage. Usually in February, I head off to Lanzarote for a training camp – the consistent warm temperatures, quiet roads, and wealth of sports accommodation provides the perfect training environment for some head-down hard work, without the distraction of daily life.
The removal of not only work commitments, but even what I call ‘life admin’ like running errands, maintaining a house (or family for some!), and catching up on social occasions, leaves a lot of space for training. And probably more importantly, recovering in-between training.
This is super important for so many reasons, but primarily because training camps tend to act as an injection of big volume training. We use the opportunity of warm weather and more time to lay the foundations of aerobic fitness in preparation for the race season to come. Getting this all-important base conditioning in is a great way to boost fitness early on in the season, upon which you can then layer higher quality work when time is more limited and life commitments are more demanding.
Time can also be saved by reducing the friction of the ‘commute’ to the swimming pool, especially if you are at a training base where there is a pool and/or gym on-site. You can get more bike miles in without worrying about compromising health by spending prolonged periods of time outside in cold, wet weather, and you can use the downtime in-between sessions to optimise your recovery without having to rush around feeling like you’re squeezing everything in within an inch of its life.
Mentally, being able to focus completely on your training without other stuff taking up your mental energy, also helps to facilitate quality training time. Your energy is concentrated into your training to the extent that all you need to think about is your next training session and what you’re going to eat. It literally is an 'eat, sleep, train, repeat' cycle – and it feels amazing.
What you gain from a training camp in terms of physical adaptation and a confidence boost in terms of your fitness will really set you up for the upcoming season. Although the training volume isn’t usually realistic to maintain once you get back to ‘normal life’, as long as you can keep your training consistent post-camp, you will carry through those gains into race season. If only camp life was forever!
About the author: Amy Kilpin is an elite competitive triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
It's important to warm up at the best of times, but particularly in winter we need to get our cold muscles ready to work so that we don't get injured. Triathlete and Sundried ambassador Simon Turner shares his tips for warming up thoroughly as well as some warm up exercises you can add into your outdoor training routine.
Winter Outdoor Training Warm Up
During the winter, especially on cold mornings, extra attention is required towards the muscle groups you will be working throughout your session. It can feel like extra effort to do an extended warm up, but discipline is required to prevent injury. A few extra minutes warming up could potentially save you weeks out with a pulled muscle or worse.
Firstly, I check mobility of all limbs and joints by doing a quick rotation forward and backwards. This is to ensure I don’t have any minor niggles prior to training.
A slow progressive warm up follows which can include running on the spot as well as dynamic exercises in which you go further into the exercise, for example squatting to half depth, then three quarters depth, then full depth. This is all designed to fire up the muscles and raise your heart rate ready to train or run.
Once that’s done, I go into a steady jog; nothing fast as this is to continue to raise my heart rate and to control my breathing. I continue this for 5-7 minutes and then I do 5 sets of striders (running strides). These are short sprints done before a workout or run to wake up the body and get it ready for the intensity of the session to come.
All in all, this warm up takes around 20 minutes and by the end I feel pumped and ready to begin my session, whether that's strength, running, or cycling.
Our friends from Precision Hydration, who help elite triathletes such as Sarah Crowley, Emma Pallant, Sarah Lewis, and Michelle Dillon, have put together this advice on staying hydrated during an Ironman so that you can race and finish strong and healthy.
Starting well hydrated
When people talk about hydration, most of the time it's about what and how much athletes should drink during exercise. These are clearly important questions, but your performance is also massively influenced by how hydrated you are when you start exercising in the first place. Drinking a strong electrolyte drink to optimise your hydration status before an IRONMAN event can significantly improve your performance.
This is known as "pre-loading" and the practice has been widely studied in the last 20 years or so, both with astronauts and athletes. There's strong evidence that taking in additional sodium with fluids before you start sweating is effective in promoting increased acute fluid retention and in improving endurance performance, especially in the heat. Having more blood makes it easier for your cardiovascular system to meet the competing demands of cooling you down and delivering oxygen to your muscles.
But typical sports drinks – which generally contain 200 to 500mg of sodium per litre – simply don’t cut it when it comes to pre-loading as they're just way too dilute to make a meaningful difference to blood volume. The reality is it’s not vastly different from drinking water. Instead, look for supplements containing more than 1,000mg of sodium per litre, like PH 1500.
Aim to drink a 500ml bottle of strong electrolyte drink the evening before the race and another around 90 minutes before the swim start. Finish the latter around 45 minutes before you start to allow time to absorb. Be sure to drink the electrolytes in water you’d have drunk anyway so you don’t overdo it. Whatever you do, DON’T just drink lots of plain water before a race! You can end up diluting your blood sodium levels, increasing the risk of a race-ruining condition called hyponatremia.
Staying hydrated during the race
A full distance triathlon race is clearly too long to go without drinking, so you’re going to need to be knocking back a reasonable amount of fluids during the ride/run. The aim is to try to avoid under-drinking to the point that dehydration hampers your performance, whilst avoiding over-drinking, which can lead to hyponatremia.
But it’s not just about getting any old fluids in. Maintaining your blood sodium levels during a race is crucial to performing at your best, especially in the heat. As well as maintaining fluid balance, sodium plays an important role in the absorption of nutrients in the gut, maintaining cognitive function, nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction.
A 2015 study found that athletes who adequately replaced the sodium lost in their sweat finished a 70.3 triathlon an average of 26 minutes faster than those who didn’t. Sodium depletion is also one cause of cramp and avoiding it could help you have a cramp-free race.
Top Tip: Have a bottle of water by your bike so you can rinse your mouth out before jumping onto the saddle.
During a full distance race, you need to make a conscious effort to stay on top of your fluid and electrolyte replacement throughout the bike leg to avoid dehydration derailing your race later on. This is the best time to get fluids on board because you can carry/drink more easily than when running. Carry an electrolyte drink in your bike bottle(s) during the ride and/or carry some salt capsules for when your pre-mixed drinks run out.
Few people can process more than about 1 litre per hour on the bike, so that’s probably the upper limit of how much you’d need to carry. This is especially important to remember in a long distance race because the risk of hyponatremia from drinking too much is greater than in shorter events.
Most athletes will need to take in between 600ml and 1 litre per hour during a full distance ride. The exact amount depends on the conditions, your own sweat rate, and past experiences, so treat these numbers as a guide only.
Most athletes find they can take in less fluid per hour on the run than they can on the bike, which should give you an idea of the kind of volumes you might be able to tolerate. Experimenting within these guidelines, whilst learning to listen to your body, is the best way to work out how much you need to drink during a race.
You can use this free online Sweat Test to get started with personalising your hydration strategy through some good old fashioned trial and error in training. If you need help understanding your sweat rate, this blog will help you measure it and we also have a useful guide on estimating how salty your sweat is.
Thirsty? Dry mouth? Don’t need to pee once during the last third of the bike ride? You may not be drinking enough. Try to respond to the early signs of thirst and not leave it too late. Bloated? Fluid sloshing around in your stomach? Need to pee more than 3 times? You might be drinking too much. Don't force fluids down if you don’t feel you need them.
Really thirsty? Walk through some aid stations to ensure you get enough fluid on board. A few seconds lost doing this is better than getting very dehydrated later on and risking a DNF! Dumping water or ice over your head at aid stations can also help when it’s very hot! The cooling sensation this triggers means your body has to sweat less to keep itself from boiling over.
After the race
Most athletes will finish a long course triathlon dehydrated to some extent and you’ll need to replenish your losses before you’re ready to go again. Most of the time, just drinking water and eating as normal after the race is enough, but if you’re suffering with cramp, feel especially fatigued or you plan to train/race the next day, then a more proactive approach to hydration would be advisable.
In those cases, sip on a 500ml bottle of strong electrolyte drink in the hours after you finish. Research shows that drinks containing sodium enable better re-hydration as it allows your body to hold onto more fluid.
If you want to pick up some electrolytes that match how you sweat, just use the code SUNDRIED15 at precisionhydration.com to get 15% off your first order.
About the author: Andy Blow founded Precision Hydration to help athletes solve their hydration issues. He has a few top 10 Ironman/70.3 finishes and an Xterra World Age Group title to his name. He has a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and was once the Team Sports Scientist for Benetton and Renault F1 teams.