• Couch To Triathlon Week 2 - How On Earth Do You Ride A Road Bike?

    Boardman Women's Road Bike Cycling Triathlon Sundried

    So I've completed week 2 of training for the triathlon! The biggest challenge this week has definitely been getting used to riding a road bike. I'd never ridden one before at all, with the closest I had ever come to riding one being when a friend let me try theirs; I tried to give it a ride around a car park but I couldn't even get on it! It was farcical but hilarious. Becuase of this I knew it would take some getting used to, but I didn't quite realise just how different it would be!

    For a start, the saddle on a road bike is a lot higher than the handlebars, which means my body position is totally different to when I was riding around on my old banger of a bike. My shoulders started to ache a little where I was leaning forwards over the handlebars, but after relaxing them it wasn't so bad.

    I found that the gears and the brakes are the most different to a regular bike. The handlebars are a completely different shape and so the brakes are at the front as well as the gears. When I first took it for a spin I didn't even successfully change gears, but there are lots of useful guides online about how to change gear on a road bike, and the fact that this is such a well-covered subject made me feel better as it means I'm not the only one who struggled!

    The other big difference is that the frame of the bike is a different shape, with the bar between the saddle and the handlebars being a lot higher than on my old bike. This was something I found out the hard way when I tried to dismount! I usually just pull my leg through the middle and hop off, but on the road bike with the higher bar this wasn't as easy! In fact, I pretty much just fell off the first time I tried to dismount!

    These are all quite trivial things, but they're issues that you would never think about before you actually try riding a road bike for yourself. After I finally managed to get going, I was flying! This bike is so much faster than my old one, with my Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon watch telling me that I was doing 15mph (as opposed to 10mph on my old bike).

    Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon Sports Watch Sundried 

    The only thing I have yet to conquer with this bike is the pedals. Your feet strap in exactly like on a spin bike, so if you have ever done a spin class you'll know how that works. However, a spin bike is set in place and you won't go toppling over if you lean down to strap your feet... something I am yet to master on the road bike! But I will get there, it seems to be a confidence thing more than anything, and I need to remember that I've literally only ridden it a couple of times and that after months of experience all these little things will come naturally (that's the hope anyway!)

    My running has been ticking over nicely as I go running at lunchtime with my colleague, and I have yet to take some swimming lessons so that will be the next challenge! Stay tuned for more next week!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Couch To Triathlon - Week 1

    Parkrun Running Alex Sundried Triathlon Training

    So training is well under way for the triathlon! Week 1 calls for prepping and planning so that I have all the tools I need to succeed. I have adjusted my nutrition and written myself a basic nutrition plan that I can use as a rough guide. When it comes to triathlon, there is obviously a lot of cardio involved, which requires a higher carb intake than weight training. When I was focussing on powerlifting, I was consuming a high fat/high protein/low carb diet which allowed me to maintain a healthy weight with very little cardio while still building muscle and increasing my strength. Now that I’ll be doing a lot more running and cycling, I’ll need more carbs to fuel my training sessions - definitely can’t complain! I’ve stocked up on couscous, popcorn, beans, fruit, and other clean carbs to keep me going.

    The most exciting development in my triathlon journey so far is that I have bought my road bike!

    Boardman Road Bike Women's Triathlon Sundried

    The Boardman Road Sport Womens Bike 2016 at £500 from Halfords.

    I did a fair bit of research before buying the bike so that I could get the perfect one for me and my specific goals. My budget was anything up to £1,000, so my first port of call was to read reviews on the best road bikes for under £1,000. The top results included the Giant Defy 4 at £420 from Giant Bicycles and the Boardman Road Team Carbon Bike at £1,000 from Halfords.

    The Giant Defy 4 seemed great, with top reviews of its comfort, speed, and performance. However it was only available for collection from a location nearly 2 hours from me so it wasn’t logistically possible to get it! The Boardman Team Carbon also seemed great, appearing in several reviews of the Top 5 Road Bikes Under £1,000. However all the reviews seemed to be a double-edged sword; with pros and cons coming up equal. At that price, I wanted to be sure I’d love my bike and that there would be no drawbacks. I found the Boardman Road Sport Womens Bike on the Halfords website and it seemed perfect - ergonomically designed for women, built for endurance, and a high spec for a reasonable price.

    I’m absolutely itching to get cycling! I’ve never ridden a road bike before; the closest I’ve ever been to riding one is when a friend lent me theirs to try and I couldn’t even get on it because the saddle was far too high and it didn’t have pedals! So learning how to get the most out of my road bike and its gears will be the next mission. The bike is a great investment as I am planning to do the London To Southend and London To Brighton bike rides on it and hopefully further in the future to even cycle Land’s End to John O’ Groats which has always been a dream of mine. I am also planning a cycling holiday in Tuscany next summer so this bike will definitely be getting plenty of use!

    Another important task was to write myself a new training plan. The basic plan I’ve written includes 1 mid-distance run each week, 1 swim, 1 bike ride, a spin class here and there, and high-rep weight training at the gym for conditioning and cross-training. As my training progresses, I will increase the distances and intensities and will mix up the cross-training element at the gym. I have given myself a full year to train for this event so for now I am just laying the foundations with my training and getting my body used to the three disciplines of running, swimming, and cycling.

    My bike arrives next week so I will let you all know how I get on and any mishaps I inevitably end up having!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Couch To Triathlon - Alex's Big Challenge

    I've always been active, sporty, and keen on nutrition. Since signing up for my first gym membership aged 16, I have dipped my toe in several different sporting disciplines but am yet to find my one true calling.

    When I first started working out seriously I was a 'cardio bunny' and was big on group exercise classes. I loved the social side of these classes and used to do two in a row on most days. I also loved running and would run 10 miles just for fun without timing myself or worrying about pace. I joined a local running club and enjoyed taking part in several 10k races and Half Marathons. I was also a regular at the local Parkrun, both as a participant and a volunteer marshal. 

    Flyers Southend Running Club Chelmsford 10k Race

    After becoming a personal trainer in 2014 and becoming friends with the other personal trainers at my gym, I entered the world of bodybuilding. I trained with an ex-marine who taught me a lot about lifting weights and how to change my body composition. I increased my strength over a couple of years and completely changed the way my body looked.

    Gym Bodybuilding T Bar Row Strength

    After changing gyms in 2016 I made new friends who were big in the powerlifting world and decided this would be my new venture. I packed on a ton of muscle and increased my strength dramatically - from being able to squat no more than 40kg to squatting 100kg with ease and maxing out on the bench press at 60kg. I have competed at two powerlifting meets, one locally and one nationally with the Great British Powerlifting Federation (GBPF).

    Now, I feel like it's time for a new challenge. Although I enjoy running, I suffer from severe hypermobility and flat feet which restricts how much I can do. I often experience pain in my feet, ankles, knees, and hips when I run which can mean that a planned 10-miler has to end after only 2 miles. I also never properly learned how to do the front crawl swimming stroke. I am a confident swimmer and love being in the water, but I only ever do breaststroke. 

    Competing at a triathlon event will be a huge challenge for me due to my running issues and the fact I'll have to learn how to do the front crawl! But it is a challenge that I am very excited to pursue over the next 12 months. I intend to train harder than ever to achieve this goal. I will need a new bike as my current one is old and the brakes barely work! I will also need to research and invest in new kit such as swimming gloves, a tri-suit, and other triathlon-specific equipment. 

    Bicycle Triathlon

    Follow my journey if you are interested in triathlons, sport, or think that you may be up for a similar challenge yourself! I will be sharing the obstacles I face along the way and will be showcasing and reviewing any equipment that I decide to purchase.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • London Triathlon

    London Triathlon Sundried Reporter ReviewThe London Triathlon is the world's largest triathlon, and the only triathlon coming to the city of London on the 22nd and 23rd of July.

    The 13,000 athletes descend on the streets of London viewing iconic British landmarks such as The London Eye, Westminster, London Bridge and the O2.

    The City

    This huge triathlon takes place across the city of London and is tourist friendly with plenty of sights to see. The race starts at the London Docklands Excel centre, with 4 different distance races taking place for the 13,000 athletes over the two day period, with 16 wave starts on the Saturday and 20 on the Sunday. The bike ride is one of the few which is bike free and takes in wonderful views all across the city. The race distances are standard, sprint, super sprint, Olympic plus and team relays.

    History of the London Triathlon

    The London triathlon is now 21 years old and has become the largest event of its kind in the world since it’s beginnings in the nineties.

    The event attracts first-timers, seasoned amateur triathletes, charity fundraisers, celebrities and elite athletes from across the globe. London Triathlon is a must-do event and offers a friendly atmosphere for all participants.

    Previous winners include Tim Don, Stuart Hayes, Vicky Holland, Helen Jenkins, Jodie Swallow and Emma Snowsill. The 2015 elite male and female races were won by Peter Kerr and Helen Jenkins, respectively.

    Since the relocation of the ITU Triathlon last year, this year's event is set to be highly competitive as the only triathlon taking place in London.

    Distances

    Super Sprint: 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run

    Sprint: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run

    Olympic: 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run

    Olympic Plus: 1500m swim, 80km bike, 10km run

    Charity

    The event raises a huge amount of money for charity. This year's lead charities will be Macmillan cancer support and Bloodwise. Other charities include Cancer research UK, Scope, Justgiving, Asos foundation, Alzheimer's society, Beanstalk, Bipolar UK, Brainwave, British Kidney Patient Association, British Heart Foundation, Centrepoint, Concern Worldwide, Connect, Contact the Elderly, Cranstoun, Daisy’s Dream, Danceaid, Diabetes UK, Epilepsy Research UK, Great Ormond Street, Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice, Havens, Herts Young Homeless, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Lighthouse Construction Charity, Make a Wish Foundation, Over the Wall Foundation, Panathlon Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, RNIB, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Stroke Association, Taunton Mencap, Teens Unite against Cancer, Thames Reach, The Air Ambulance Service, The Scouts Association, The Silver Line Helpline, Stoll, VSO International and Wellbeing of Women.

    Getting There

    As the race takes place in the centre of London there are a variety of transport options available for competitors and spectators to attend, however bare in mind roads are closed for the event and train may experience a disrupted service on weekends. Check your journey in advance so you don’t get stuck on the day.

    Car: These main routes include the M25 and M11, the North Circular, A406 and the A13. As you get closer you’ll pick up signs for Royal Docks, City Airport, and ExCeL London. The parking is pay and display.

    Train: The Jubilee line and DLR services on London's underground are the easiest ways to access the Excel. The stations are Custom House for ExCeL (for the west entrance) or Prince Regent for ExCeL (for the east entrance or the ICC London).

    Plane: For foreign entrants, the nearest airport is London City and it is recommended that public transport is then used to complete the journey.

    The Set Up

    With 13,000 participants, getting your setup right is critical. Registration, the start, transitions and finish all happen from the Excel, which also hosts the AJ Bell London Triathlon Expo, which last year had 38,000 visitors checking out all things triathlon, from the latest bikes to tri suits from over 60 exhibitors. Memorise where your bike is, as with so many, it may be hard to find. All race entrants get a race pack which has a two-page guide to the race, even if you’ve done the route before, it changes most years and is well worth giving a read.

    There are a variety of race times and depending on your particular distance will depend on when you start, the race times are released on their site prior to the race.

    There is a group warm up which gets everyone revved up and ready to go for this incredible event.

    The Swim

    The swim takes place in London Docklands, so although participants need not worry about a current, there are rumours of the ‘thames tummy’, which can be prepped for by a few practice runs in rivers and lakes, which is what most athletes will do anyway. The temperature averages at approximately 20 degrees, last year it was just under. It’s a deep water start and can get choppy due to the sheer volume of athletes within each wave. You collect you swim cap at the marshalling point. The swim itself is an out and back swim down the dock, with a 180 degree turn back to the start, where you can swim all the way up to the ramp.

    Spectators can easily watch the swimmers and are encouraged to show their support.

    The London Triathlon has a fair distance between the swim and bike tracks, so participants strip their wet suit into a carrier provided in order to keep the paths as slip-free as possible.

    London Triathlon Event Sundried Cycling

    The Cycle

    Bikes are marked in lined racks by wave and marking up your rack is not allowed. It is recommended prior to the event you visit the transition area and make a mental note of the ‘in’ and ‘out’ signs. Dependant upon which race you have entered, your race route will vary around different London Landmarks including Canary Wharf and the London Eye. The roads are shut which makes it a great race. There are also a few surprise hills to watch out for.

    A tricky transition is from the beginning in the Excel to outdoors, be aware of the change of surface, change of light and tight bends.

    To transition back to the run stage of the race it is clearly signposted for the ease of competitors before they tackle the final phase.

    The Run

    The run route was changed in 2015 to accommodate a better view for the 25,000 visitors expected at the event. The course is a loop, whichever distance you opt for. Each lap returns into the Excel centre on an incline, so save some energy for the uphill runs. All athletes are provided with an ankle timer to wear on their left ankle throughout the event, but you need to count your laps, if you don’t complete the right amount your result is disqualified. The run is packed with supporters and the atmosphere is electric as you come to the finishing chute. Once you’re finished you have the entire expo to check out so it makes for an exhausting day!

    Tips

    GPS: GPS signals are hard to find on smart watches around the Excel, so be sure to start looking for signals with plenty of time before your start time.

    The course transitions are slippery, despite the wetsuit removal simply due to the nature of the event and the sheer volume of people.

    London is very busy to access over the weekend so it is recommended you travel up before and take public transport to the event where possible.

    The Triathlon Expo is huge,  so make sure you pack your money or credit card!

    Be cautious as you enter the swim, as with so many competitors it can be easy to take a kick or punch in the first scrabble of the race.

    Count your laps, or have your supporters shouting them at you!

    The ground is uneven in places around the run, despite being flat for the most part, so it is important to watch not to fall.

    Take advantage of post race nutrition and recovery on offer all around the Excel.

    For further info on The London Triathlon visit:

    http://thelondontriathlon.com/home

    To view exhibitors at the Triathlon show visit:

    http://www.londontriathlonexpo.com/About

    Review the 2017 London Triathlon

    Are you entering the triathlon this year? Would you like to receive free Sundried kit and sponsorship? Review the London Triathlon for Sundried and receive a Sundried Triathlete T-shirt. Email: alex@sundried.com

    Highlights of the show will be broadcast on Channel 4.

     

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Duathlon

    Despite what the name may imply, duathlons work in 3 stages, just like triathlons, however this time you enter just two sports. Run, Bike, Run.

    A duathlon is great for those looking to move into multi-sport racing, who may not be comfortable with an open water swim, for triathletes who cannot get in the open water over winter and for athletes who excel at running and cycling like our ambassador Claire Steels, who achieved world champion for her ages group.

    Duathlon distances

    Similar to it’s counterpart triathlon, duathlons come in multiple distances to suit all competitors from beginners to seasoned athletes.


    Name

    Distance

    Sprint

    5 km run, 20 km bike and 2.5 km run.

    Standard

    10 km run, 40 km bike and 5 km run.

    Long

    10 km run, 150 km bike and 30 km run.


    Duathlon races 2017

    Duathlon is becoming an increasingly popular sport and in 2017 there are approximately 120 duathlons taking place in the UK.

    Events tend to sell out far in advance, so if you’ve set yourself the goal of racing in 2017, do your research and get booked in as soon as possible. It will help you to have a target date to devise the best training and ensure you’re not disappointed if your event becomes fully booked. You can find a list of duathlon events here at find a race.

    Duathlon Training

    If you can run and you can cycle, you are more than capable of completing a duathlon.

    When training for this multisport race, whilst it’s great to focus on the individual sports, you need to get familiar with training one sport after another. This is called a brick session. Brick sessions prepare you for what it feels like to run after having jelly legs from cycling or visa versa, they are also great for building endurance and testing out your transitions, which can be tricky on race day if you are new and nervous.

    The first run of any duathlon is where you’re going to be the least fatigued, so you’re going to want to set off at your fast pace, whilst retaining energy for the bike and second run ahead. This is particularly important to practice, as you don’t want to use all your energy speeding off in the first leg, and have your other transitions suffer. If you can’t get outside and train, you can always complete a brick session at the gym, so the weather’s really no excuse.

    Duathlon Kit

    One of the bonuses of duathlon is that you don’t need as much kit as you do for triathlon events as there’s no call for a wetsuit - no one's getting wet! When it comes to duathlon clothing, the jury's out. Some people will argue that cycling shorts and a bib are fine, whilst others will suggest this is like running in a nappy and terribly awkward. Those with a tougher bum or padded seat may opt for a regular running short - which typically will be okay for shorter distances. The most popular option is to go for a tri suit or tri shorts and top. The tri suit is designed with a lighter chamois making a comfier ride, but without distracting your run. You can view our Sundried Tri Suits crafted with the finest italian fabrics for the ultimate comfort here via our triathlon shop.

    When it comes to footwear, it’s best to wear what you’ve been practicing in. In order to limit your time in transition, if you have a pair of trainers you can bike and run in, you may save time, however some people will want to wear their cleats in order to pick up the most speed on the ride. If so ensure you have speed laces and socks which are suited to both trainers - or go sockless. Personally I would never risk the blisters of this, but I know athletes who never wear socks - usually they have come from tri, go figure!

    Once you get a taste for a multi-sport discipline, we guarantee you’ll be wanting to check out our guide to triathlon.

    Good luck on your run, bike, run.

    Posted by Victoria Gardner