• Holly Rostron Athlete Ambassador

    running treadmill gym

    Holly is a professional musical theatre performer and dance teacher. She talks to Sundried about her fitness journey.

    Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.

    I have a passion for all things dance and fitness. As a professional musical theatre performer I have worked in film, television & theatre, appearing in musicals in the West End, on tour around the UK and in Japan.

    I regularly take part in charity running events and have ran the Manchester, East London & Blackpool Half Marathons. This year I ran the Lancaster Trimpell 20 miler in preparation for the Manchester Marathon, which was sadly postponed until next year. The Manchester Marathon will be my first marathon event!

    Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?

    My dance and fitness journey began at a very young age. I have always danced! It is my passion and it’s what I’ve been determined and fortunate enough to make into a 10 year career. My Granddad worked at my primary school, he was a teacher who specialised in sports and would teach after school dance and gymnastics classes, which I attended. He’d also encourage us to run 6 laps of the playing fields as part of his lunch time running club! I loved it. Both dance and fitness were instilled into me from a young age and have had a profound effect on my life. The discipline and healthy competitiveness (with myself & others) have helped me through my dance career and my Granddad’s passion for dance, fitness and teaching has been passed onto me!

    What are your training goals now?

    To train for the marathon next year!

    Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:

    I tried surfing for the first time this year - in Scarborough!

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started dancing?

    I wish I’d have been more aware of how having a career in the dance and theatre world will affect your ‘normal’ life. People tell you how hard it’ll be and how much training you’ll have to put in but nobody can really prepare you for the impact it’ll have on your personal life. It is an ‘all or nothing’ kind of industry and requires the same kind of commitment to your profession as that of an elite athlete. You may miss family and friends’ birthdays, weddings and decide to cancel or postpone holidays because you’re auditioning or rehearsing. It’s hard to prepare yourself for making those choices until you find yourself having to make them. It’s a different kind of commitment compared to the physical side of training every day, but I think it’s just as challenging.

    Talk us through your training regime.

    I currently keep myself fit by running about 3 times a week. I also maintain my body strength by attending Pilates classes with one of the fab instructors from the gym where I work. Recently I have done some online workouts with my personal trainer colleagues too. I teach 2 online dance fitness classes and an online ballet class, which help me stay in shape and keep my creative side active by choreographing and planning lessons.

    How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

    The personal trainers that I work with at Energie Fitness inspire me with their fitness knowledge and workout ideas and I read Runner’s World for running tips.

    What are your top 3 dance teacher tips?

    Have fun with your classes! If you have fun and enjoy yourself your dancers will too!

    Think carefully about what music you use. I am a BIG music fan and enjoy using a variety of music styles for my classes. Really prepare this before the class, make sure the exercises fit and that there is something for everyone. Regularly keep in touch with your dancers. Whether that be through social media or email & texts. Make sure they are kept up to date with information about your classes but also make sure they know enough about you to feel engaged with you. Give them a bit of insight into what makes you you!

    If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Haha I love my food so that’s tricky. I really had to think about this. At the moment I love a tasty brunch so I’d probably say that. Eggs on toast, tomatoes, mushrooms and avocado, everything that makes up a yummy brunch. Either that or a roast dinner.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I’m so excited about the opportunity to work with Sundried. Sundried combines my love for fitness clothing and trying to look after the planet, so I was very keen to get involved. We share the same eco friendly values. I have consciously been shopping much more sustainably recently, trying to buy clothes made from recyclable or recycled materials, so I was very happy to discover Sundried’s EcoTech range.

    Favourite fitness quote:

    "We dance for laughter, We dance for tears, We dance for madness, We dance for fears, We dance for hopes, We dance for screams, We are the dancers, We create the dreams." - Albert Einstein

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Plan and Train For A Racing Season During A Global Pandemic

    sportsman goggles open water triathlon training

    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.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Winter Triathlon: How To Get Involved

    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…
    Winter Triathlon

    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. 

    Winter Triathlon

    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. 

    Winter Triathlon Training

    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!

    Posted by Joanna Ebsworth
  • Triathlon vs Cross Triathlon

    You’ve heard of triathlon. But what about cross triathlon? We explain the differences between the two events so you can choose the one that’s right for you.

    Triathlon Vs Cross Triathlon

    The world of triathlon has never been more accessible or diverse, with new categories emerging to cater for all abilities and interests. And for those who like their training on the wild side – or seasoned triathletes looking for an alternative challenge – the flourishing sport of cross triathlon could be just the thing to take your fitness to the next level.

    While traditional triathlons involve swimming in open water followed by cycling and running on flat surfaces such as tarmacked roads, a cross triathlon (also known as off-road triathlon or X-tri), features open water swimming, then mountain biking and trail running across rough, hilly terrain and various obstacles. Naturally, different equipment is needed to take part - you’ll require a mountain bike and trail running shoes for starters – and you’ll also need a whole new skill set and training approach. But whichever type of triathlon you choose, you’ll still reap the physical and mental rewards from exercising across three sporting disciplines.

    Triathlete enter the water for a triathlon

    Location, location, location

    Traditional triathlon venues are specifically chosen so that competitors can ride and run on safe, even roads - literally levelling out the playing field. But cross triathlons are designed to take you away from pedestrian pathways and onto the beaten track, guiding you through forests and riverbeds, up and down hills, and over natural or man-man hurdles such as rocks and logs. 

    You’ll enjoy the benefits and views of training in the great outdoors doing either type of triathlon. But while plodding along on the flat can get a bit repetitive, every cross triathlon provides an exciting new adventure as you experience stunning scenic trails and the full unpredictability of Mother Nature. 

    A range of off-road courses varying in technicality are available to suit different abilities, but beginners to triathlon should consider sticking to the safety and familiarity of running and cycling on the flat until they’ve built up enough experience of open water swimming and transitioning between disciplines to avoid feeling overwhelmed from learning so many new and different techniques.

    Cross Triathlon Training

    Going the distance

    One of the best things about traditional triathlon is that there is a distance to suit absolutely everyone, including the total beginner and professional athlete. While a Standard (Olympic) distance consists of a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run, newbies can get involved with a Sprint distance of a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, or an even shorter Super Sprint distance (400m/10km/2.5km). At the other end of the scale, you’ll find Middle and Long distance races including a half-IRONMAN (1.9km/90km/21km) and IRONMAN (3.8km/180km/42km), with the latter widely considered as one of the toughest one-day sporting events in the world.

    A cross triathlon typically includes a 1km open water swim, a 20-30km mountain bike, and a 6-10km trail run. Because of the high degree of technicality involved in the mountain bike leg, the distance for the bike portion of an off-road triathlon is much less relevant than for a road triathlon, especially as courses can include tough mountain climbs and steep descents. You’ll find it hard to predict your finish time based on the distance of an off-road course as your speed will be greatly reduced on the bike and run legs compared to the speeds you can usually achieve on the road. For this reason, an off-road course of a similar distance to a road course can take many more hours to complete, and you’ll need to adjust your fuel accordingly.

    Athletes seeking their next challenge will also be pleased to hear that, just as triathlon has its IRONMAN competitions, cross triathlon has XTERRA: a private off-road series of races (including an XTERRA European tour plus other world tours), that concludes with a championship each year in Maui. 

    Getting technical

    Training for any kind of triathlon requires a big commitment but mixing up your workouts across three disciplines always helps to keep motivation levels high and training plans fresh. It goes without saying that training for a traditional triathlon works every muscle in the body, including your heart and cardiovascular system, so it’s perhaps unfair to judge if one type of triathlon is better for your fitness than the other as both provide a full-body workout.

    However, because cross triathlon takes you over uneven terrain, your body will be forced out of its comfort zone and pushed to new limits. Trail running challenges your balance, stability, strength, flexibility and heartrate like nothing else, working your muscles even harder as you fight to stay upright while jumping over rocks, zig-zagging through trees, powering up mountains and hurtling down the other side as fast as you can. 

    From a racing and training perspective, the bike leg of an off-road triathlon is the most significantly different stage when compared to its counterpart in traditional triathlon. While road cycling is all about speed, endurance and aerodynamics, mountain biking requires a far higher degree of technical skill: it’s all about learning when to peddle, when to coast, when to break and when to sit or stand so you can save enough energy for the running leg ahead. But putting in time on a mountain bike will ultimately improve your handling skills to make you a more confident rider, so it’s win-win in the end.

    When deciding whether to give cross triathlon a go, the main thing you should consider is your accessibility to MTB and running trails. Training for a triathlon is hard enough when you have access to roads and pavements outside your front door. Not being able to practice your technical ability for cross triathlon could literally be your downfall. Unless you have easy access to trails, you’ll find a lot of your training sessions will still be on the road, and your weekends will be used to hit the trails and work on your technical skills.

    Which triathlon is best for you?

    So, there you have our breakdown of the differences between triathlon and cross triathlon. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of which one is more suited to you and your lifestyle. But whichever type of triathlon you choose, remember that taking part and crossing the finish line in either event is a massive achievement. One type of triathlon is not better than the other: the most important thing is to get started on your triathlon journey by choosing a challenging yet ultimately achievable event. Find the perfect race for you now at britishtriathlon.org

    Posted by Joanna Ebsworth
  • Triathlon Strength Training Exercises

    triathlon strength training improve swim bike run

    Strength training is an important part of any balanced workout program and for a triathlete, this is especially true. All three sports of swimming, cycling, and running are strenuous activities that require careful attention to muscle balance to prevent injury and promote optimal performance. When you are consistently training in all three, strength training takes on a completely new component of importance.

    Strength training for triathlon

    Training for a triathlon is usually pretty time-intensive to gain the fitness level and specificity you need for each leg of your race. While lifting is a must, efficiency can help maximize your results without feeling too overwhelmed by your routine. (Plus, it’s nice to have time for other things in your life.) Find strength exercises that address multiple muscle groups at once, promote muscular endurance and stability, and ultimately give you the power you need.

    Why you need a good lifting routine

    Build muscular endurance for that extra “oomph” at the end of your race and power throughout. You don’t need to have bulging biceps to gain benefits either. Rather, you will maximize your muscles' reserves for pushing yourself to that next level. Plus, you’ll prevent injury. If you are intimidated by gyms or don’t have the time, consider a home gym set up. Ultimately, go for lower weight and higher repetition to gain endurance.

    All-in-One Exercises

    These moves will focus on typical problem areas that are common with all three sports. Complete 15-20 repetitions of each exercise for 2-3 sets. Your whole routine should take 20-30 minutes. When possible, do it 2-3 times per week.

    Plank Row

    1. Choose light dumbbells.
    2. Get in a plank position on your hands with the elbows straight but not locked out or hyper-extended.
    3. With the core tight, bend one elbow as you extend the arm back and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
    4. Alternate between sides.

    Keep your arms tucked in close to your side. Choose a weight that is challenging while still keeping good form.

    plank row dumbbell exercise beach outdoor workout

    Side Plank With Hip Abduction

    1. Get in a side plank on your elbow; make sure your body is in one line with no sagging at the hips.
    2. Lift the top leg straight up toward the ceiling.
    3. Keep the toes pointing forward toward the wall.
    4. Modify your knee on the lower leg if needed.
    5. Switch to the other side when complete.

    You should feel this exercise in your obliques and glutes. You can add an ankle weight for extra resistance.

    side plank core exercise workout

    Prone Swimmers (Superman)

    1. Lie on your stomach with the arms outstretched in front of you.
    2. Lift one leg and the opposite arm off the ground 2-3 inches and hold 1-2 seconds.
    3. Focus on squeezing your glutes and shoulder blades as you lift.
    4. Alternate between sides.

    You can progress to holding light weights in your hands when possible. You can also try doing this move on a yoga ball.

    back extension Superman swimmers core workout

    Lunge With A Bicep Curl And Overhead Press

    1. Get in a lunge stance while holding dumbbells or kettlebells in both hands at your sides.
    2. Bend both knees as you bring the back knee toward the floor (into a deep lunge).
    3. As you return to your original stance, curl your arms up until your elbows are bent past 90 degrees (bicep curl).
    4. Once you reach the top of your lunge, do a full overhead press.
    5. Bring the hands back to your side as you move into the next deep lunge.

    Make sure you keep your weight evenly distributed through your feet (no leaning forward) and knees in line with (and behind) your toes as you bend.

    lunge with overhead press kettlebell outdoor workout

    Single-Leg Dead Lift

    1. Holding light weights in both hands, shift your weight onto one leg and find your balance.
    2. Then, hinge forward at the hips as you reach with your opposite hand for the inner ankle (the free leg will extend behind you).
    3. Stay slow and controlled as you return to the starting position.
    4. Switch to the other side when ready.

    Try standing on a foam pad for an additional coordination challenge.

    single leg deadlift workout exercise

    Rotator Cuff Strengthening With Static Sumo Squats

    1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width and the toes pointing out slightly.
    2. Hold a resistance band in both hands with the palms up and elbows bent and tucked into your sides.
    3. Assume a deep wide squat that you will hold while completing your arm exercise.
    4. While keeping your elbows tucked into your side, pull the hands away from each other as you externally rotate the shoulders and squeeze the shoulder blades together.

    Focus on keeping good posture and keeping the neck relaxed. The motion should be slow and controlled.

    rotator cuff exercise resistance band

    The caveat of specificity training

    Specificity training is the theory that in order to make improvements with a specific sport, you must train your body to do those specific movements. Makes sense, right? However, when you are doing three completely different sports that require slightly different muscular coordination, this can be a tough balance to find.

    Multi-move exercises are the way to go

    Always try to incorporate key body stabilizers into your lifting routine, like the rotator cuff, shoulder blades, glutes, and abdominals. Challenge these muscles in ways that promote dynamic strength that you can easily carry over to your swimming, cycling, and running form. As a triathlete, don’t be afraid to get creative with your lifting routine and find what works for you.

    About the author: Kevin Jones is a fitness coach and enthusiast. He writes about all things surrounding health, fitness, wellness, and nutrition. Kevin found his love for running on the trails in the Wasatch Mountain Range and regularly participates in half and full marathons. 

    Posted by Guest Account