• Couch To Triathlon (3) - 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. Because 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!

    Read the next instalment - Couch To Triathlon (4) - The Running Bug

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Beginner Triathlon Training Plan

    beginner triathlete triathlon training plan first time

    Training for a triathlon can be a complicated process, especially if it's your first time. Follow this simple beginner's triathlon training plan to get you to the start line feeling your best and ready to race.

    What gear do I need for a triathlon?

    Before you begin your training, make sure you have all the gear you need to train and race. Triathlon is a complex sport with lots of moving parts, so you'll need a few different pieces of kit. Read our beginner's kit guide for first-time triathletes which outlines all of the gear you will need from a trisuit to running trainers and everything in between. 

    Related: Guide to triathlon gear

    swimming training triathlon plan guide workout

    Beginner Triathlon Training Plan

    This is a 4-week training plan for a sprint distance triathlon for absolute beginners. If you already have a fair level of fitness and/or experience, this plan may be too easy for you.

    Week 1

    Day Session Type Session
    Monday Run

    Run for 20 minutes without stopping.

    Do 10 minutes of stretching afterwards.

    Tuesday Swim

    5 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    Try to complete this without stopping.

    Wednesday Bike Cycle non-stop for 30 minutes, indoors or outdoors.
    Thursday Rest Make sure to do stretching and foam rolling as is necessary and eat plenty of protein and drink plenty of water so that your muscles can recover.
    Friday Swim

    5 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    If you could not manage non-stop on Tuesday, aim to accomplish that today.

    Saturday Rest Make sure to take a complete rest day and don't be tempted to over-train.
    Sunday Run

    Run for 20 minutes without stopping.

    Pace doesn't matter.

    Week 2

    Day Session Type Session
    Monday Rest

    You may be feeling tired or achy after week 1 so take it easy, hydrate and nourish well and make sure to stretch.

    Tuesday Swim

    5 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    Try to complete this without stopping.

    Wednesday Run

    Run for 20 minutes non-stop.

    See if you can make it further than you did last week.

    Thursday Bike

    Cycle for 20 minutes outdoors.

    Enjoy an easy pace on a flat course.

    Friday Swim

    5 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    If you could not manage non-stop on Tuesday, aim to accomplish that today.

    Saturday Rest Make sure to take a complete rest day and don't be tempted to over-train.
    Sunday Run

    Run for 20 minutes without stopping.

    Pace doesn't matter.

    Week 3

    Day Session Type Session
    Monday Run Run for 20 minutes at a steady pace.
    Tuesday Swim

     Complete 6 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    Try to swim non-stop.

    Wednesday Run Easy 10 minute run.
    Thursday Bike 20 minutes on a flat course.
    Friday Swim

    Complete 6 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    If you could not manage non-stop on Tuesday, aim for that today.

    Saturday Rest
    Sunday Run/Bike Brick

    Cycle for 30 minutes then run for 25 minutes at an easy pace.


    Week 4

    Day Session Type Session
    Monday Bike Cycle for 45 minutes and try to include one hill as a challenge.
    Tuesday Swim

     Complete 10 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

    Go all out in order to complete it non-stop.

    Wednesday Run Run for 30 minutes without stopping.
    Thursday Rest
    Friday Run/Bike Brick Cycle for 30 minutes then straight into a 15 minute run.
    Saturday Rest
    Sunday Race Day!

     Good luck!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Ironman 70.3 World Champs By Amy Kilpin

    It’s always funny how quickly your A-race comes around. You think you have all year, but a few ‘warm-up’ races and a whole lot of training later, and suddenly you’re there, on the start line, wondering where the hell life has gone and whether you’ll be able to achieve what you plan to over the course of the day.

    For the third consecutive year, my A-race was the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. After two years of distinctly (and quite possible less than) mediocre races, it was time to face my demons.

    I get nervous before races – mostly the day before and the morning of the race – but no matter how much I race (which is a fair bit, for an age grouper), it doesn’t seem to change an awful lot. At last year’s 70.3 world champs in Australia, I even had a total meltdown the day before the race. Far from ideal prep, but often not something we can fully control.

    This year was very different. I flew out much later than usual, arriving just four (really three by the time we got there in the early hours of the morning!) days before the race. Get in, get it done. No point in faffing about with body clocks and time zones this time.

    A few recces of the course and a massive shop in the Wholefoods store (who thought you could get healthy food in America!?), and race day was upon us in a flash. The team at the Ceepo stand in the expo had kindly rewired my gears (thanks guys!), everything was running smoothly and it all went well during the course recces. I mean, there was a massive current in the river, a monumental climb on the bike, and the hilliest run I have ever seen on a 70.3 course, but apart from that, what could possibly go wrong!?

    Probably not a lot, other than forgetting half your kit. Yep, I did that too. Despite how much I race, and being the most organised person in the world (I have lists and spreadsheets for everything, even for packing for a triathlon), I forgot two VERY important (and personal) components of a triathlon. My goggles, and my bike shoes. Yep, you read that right.

    In completely uncharacteristic style, I remained pretty calm. I went down to the expo and bought the only pair of triathlon bike shoes available. I even got a massive discount because my friends at Ceepo had a word with the team on the stand – bonus! New cleats as well, it felt like Christmas. Now just to work out how the hell I needed to position the cleats on bike shoes that I’ve never worn before….

    Having checked the expo for a pair of goggles that I usually use, and having no such success, I needed a plan B. Sticking to the sensible option of racing in goggles I am used to (and not wearing new kit on race day!), I posted on social media. The next day, I had the exact same pair of goggles that I always wear in my hand. (Thanks Mark Julier!)

    Ordinarily, I’d be more than a little disconcerted by all of those things. Quite possibly even freaking out. This time though, I was completely calm; almost, dare I say it, a bit nonchalant. It didn’t faze me one bit.

    This, I reasoned, was mostly down to the fact that all my prep had gone amazingly well. Since discovering my hypothyroidism and going on medication for it, my training has only gone from strength to strength – I was still producing really good numbers (for me), making continued improvements, and I had lost 6kg so was feeling leaner than ever.

    I had massive confidence in myself – something I can unequivocally say I have never had since I have been taking part in triathlons. Ever.

    My coach, Mark Pearce, has been fantastic – he has worked me harder than I’d ever imagined and some of the sessions left me totally broken. But they work, and it was reassuring to know that I not only had confidence in myself for the first time ever, I had huge confidence in the training my coach has set me.

    A nice relaxed race morning (still feeling weirdly calm) in beautiful weather, and we were heading down to the rolling age group start. I stood on the pontoon quietly confident and feeling great.

    The swim was fairly uneventful – I felt like I didn’t get myself into the most amazing position being on the far outside of the ‘pack’, but gradually moved in towards the buoys as we pushed along. It felt a bit slow if I’m honest, maybe I just wasn’t pushing hard enough – the hills were in the back of my head and I was possibly conserving some energy. Who knows as it wasn’t a conscious decision!

    After what felt like a pretty long time, I exited the water and was a bit disappointed to see a swim time of 34-odd minutes. Jeez, that really was slow.

    Hoping it was the same for everyone, I ran into T1 and off out onto the bike. As I exited T1, I heard someone shout my name and saw my Ceepo guys at the bike mount line. Embarrassingly, as I went to mount the bike, I pushed the pedal back to line it up and the chain fell off. Awkward. Not looking very slick right now….

    A quick ping back on and I was off, feeling like the absolute chopper that I probably am in reality. Ok, time to hit some mediocre power numbers!

    The climb was early on in the course, only about 10k in, so I felt barely warmed up before we hit the unrelenting gradient. We had decided that I needed to be around 100% FTP for the whole climb (around 20 minutes’ worth), otherwise I’d lose too much time and would be unable to reclaim it for the remainder of the race.

    I started climbing at this power target and felt fantastic. I couldn’t believe how good I actually felt. So for context, historically, I have pretty much only been overtaken on climbs. I’m not a natural climber. This time, I was overtaking everyone. I think only one girl passed me on the climb. It felt incredible!

    The rest of the course was rolling before a pretty awesome descent (no-one overtook me on the descent either), and then a rolling/flat-ish final 45k. I felt ok but seemed like I was fading a bit towards the end and was looking forward to getting off the bike.

    Again, a seemingly disappointing bike time of 2:51 but I knew from being out there on the course that it wasn’t terrible, as I could compare myself to other girls I had seen.

    Onto the first of two loops of the run, and almost immediately I could feel the climb in my legs. As soon as the road saw even a slight incline, my average target pace dropped and I struggled to hold it. I felt ok, but I didn’t want to push too hard too early on otherwise I’d be in a hole I wouldn’t be able to recover from. So I kept it at an uncomfortable but not unbearable level.

    Then the hills came. My average paced slowed to almost a walk, a little waddle upwards. People around me were walking. The hills felt ridiculous – long and not exactly a gentle gradient. I pushed hard on the downhills to recover some time, but it wasn’t really good enough – I knew I wasn’t going to go sub-5 on this course, not even close. It was brutal.

    Ploughing on (literally), I finally made it to the finish line with a 1:44 half marathon and an overall time of 5:16. Not exactly a dazzling performance but not horrific either.

    Yet again, I was disappointed to learn I had come 44th in my age group (out of 243). I’d had higher ambitions than that. I was slightly appeased on learning that the winner of my age group finished in 4:54 and that only six girls had gone sub-5 on that course. Testament to how hard it was, but still.

    In a debrief with Mark, he said that it was a really solid performance and that I couldn’t have asked much more of myself on the day. I sort of felt the same – that while it wasn’t an amazing performance, it wasn’t half bad either (top 18% in my AG in the world), but more importantly, it was an honest reflection of my current ability.

    He also said we could shave 20 minutes off that – which would have put me on the podium – so let’s just see about that! That’s another bridge to cross – right now, it was time to enjoy the moment and be proud of what I have achieved this season.

    Now, I’m enjoying my end of season break without having the demands of training, and although I am still thinking about triathlon a fair bit, it’s nice to have a mental break from it as well as physical.

    So thank you to those that have supported me during the build up to this race, you know who you are, and I am forever grateful.

    2017 season, over and out.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Beginner Triathlon Advice

    Triathlon is a complex sport and there's a lot to get your head around. Sundried is here to explain the jargon and help you on your way to your first race.

    Beginner Triathlon Guide

    Sundried has written a guide for beginner triathletes so that you can understand everything that it entails. From distances to jargon, this handy guide has everything you need to know. You can find the Sundried triathlon guide here.

    What do I wear for a triathlon?

    Triathlon gear is very specific and you will need to buy some items you don't already own. Most people already have a pair of running trainers and leggings. But you'll need a tri suit and other accessories. Check out our guide on triathlon gear for the full list of things you'll need for your race.

    Triathlon Race Day Checklist

    If you forget something important, you won't be able to race! So it's important to have a comprehensive checklist of everything you'll need for the day. Have a read of Sundried's triathlon race day checklist so that you can see what kit you'll need for your first triathlon and be sure that you've got everything for the big day!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Tips For Surviving Your First Triathlon

    my first triathlon training tips workout fitness sports

    Triathlon season has begun and it's the most exciting time of year for multi-sport athletes. All those hours spent in the pain cave over winter have paid off and now it's time to reap the rewards. But what if it's your first triathlon? You're bound to have a lot of questions. Follow these 5 tips to not only survive but thrive in your first triathlon.

    1. Don't underestimate an open water swim

    If you've done all of your swim training in the local pool but are taking part in an open water swim event, there may be an element of surprise waiting for you. An open water swim is very different from a pool swim in lots of different ways. Not only this, it depends on the type of open water, as events range from lakes to canals to the sea and even oceans, all of which come with their own challenges. 

    When choosing your first triathlon, it might be an idea to choose a pool-based swim as this will ease you into the sport and is less likely to scare you off! Especially if you are not such a confident swimmer, swimming in open water can be very tough, especially if it's tidal. Practice in a lake or the sea before the race so that you have an idea of what to expect.

    Sundried Southend Triathlon training tips my first tri

    2. Wear the right kit

    A triathlon is very different from a running race as there is a fair bit of specialist kit you will need. Make sure you have a good quality trisuit that is comfortable and has the right support for you. You want a triathlon suit that has a chamois pad to keep you comfortable on the bike but one that isn't so big and bulky it'll get in the way on the run.

    There are also other items of triathlon clothing that you may wish to get such as cycle socks, a race number belt, and even race number temporary tattoos. These are all triathlon-specific items that you probably won't have otherwise, so do your research first and make sure you have all the kit you need before the big day.

    Read More: Triathlon Race Day Checklist: Beginner's Kit Guide

    mens trisuit triathlon kit clothing sportswear

    3. Don't neglect brick training sessions

    If you have never tried running after cycling, you need to practice! Running off the bike is a totally different experience to running on its own and you might be taken by surprise at how your legs feel. If you haven't practised, you are more likely to get injured and it would be a shame to ruin your day.

    Brick workouts are training sessions where you practice doing two or even three of the triathlon disciplines back-to-back. This is usually running after cycling as this can be one of the toughest aspects of a triathlon. Getting your legs used to doing different types of movement and being under different types of strain is very important and will prepare you well for your big day.

    4. Recce the course first

    If you have been training on flat ground the whole time and there is a huge hill on your race course, you are likely to suffer! Make sure you check the course before you even sign up so that there are no nasty surprises. Things you want to consider are whether the bike leg is done on closed roads or if there is going to be the hazard of traffic, whether there are any notable ascents and descents, and whether the entire race is done on road and tarmac or if any of the run or bike are off-road.

    Being fully prepared for the race will be great for you mentally and will mean there is less to worry and stress about on the day. It will also mean you can train appropriately and wear the right gear!

    5. Remember to have fun!

    This is perhaps the most important point. It's always important to remember why you signed up in the first place and to not take it too seriously. Unless you are a professional athlete and rely on prize money and sponsorships, it doesn't matter if something goes wrong. Make sure you enjoy yourself!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren