• Dirk Bockel Professional Triathlete

    Ironman Triathlon Challenge Roth Sundried activewear ambassador

    Dirk is an ex-professional triathlete from Luxembourg who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was the first athlete from Luxembourg to ever win an Ironman race. He talks to Sundried about life as a professional triathlete. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes. Even at the young age of 6 I did my first baby competition. 

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    My running coach was a triathlete. He gave me his old bike and taught me how to swim. He has been my mentor for many years. He recently passed away but I will be forever grateful to him for introducing me to the world of triathlon.

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    My favorite race is Challenge Roth in Germany. It is the biggest race in the world and has over 260,000 spectators. Back in 2013, I won the race that I used to watch as a junior. I return every year and help with organisation.

    Sundried activewear ambassador winner Challenge Roth

    And your proudest achievement?

    There are so many to choose from! Triathlon has given me so much happiness. Of course, most of my races are very special but the international championships and the Olympics definitely left a mark. Also, to become Sportsman of the Year in my small country of Luxembourg in 2013 was an amazing achievement in my career.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?

    Of course, in professional sports there are good days and bad days. I definitely messed up some races and my biggest regret is getting injured right before the World Championships in 2016. It would have been my year… but my injury was severe and eventually career-ending.

    For sure, the toughest race in the year is the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Setbacks are challenges and I try to find the solution to the problem. You learn from mistakes and setbacks and they help you in future races. You go through so many ups and downs that you learn to deal with them.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    I have always been given good advice, but in my younger years I was just happy to be part of the triathlon world instead of focusing on results. I probably wasted some racing seasons during my 27-year triathlon career but overall I’m pretty happy.

    What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

    I have lots of goals for the future. I just climbed Mont Blanc and now I'm looking for my next challenge. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    My inspiration comes from within. It is just there, I have no idea why. It makes me happy to share this passion with other people.

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    I love the uniqueness of the kit. I am just about to try the new collection and I will let you know what I think!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Ironman Training – Top Advice From A Certified Ironman Coach

    Sundried Ironman triathlon training coach advice

    Swim 2.4 Miles. Bike 112 Miles. Run 26.2 Miles. Time allowed 16 hours.

    The journey to become an Ironman is long and arduous and starts for many different reasons and from many different levels of ability and experience. The goal to ‘compete or complete’ an Ironman is what makes it such a difficult and unique challenge but can ultimately lead to the most amazing achievement of an athlete’s life. The road is long and is littered with obstacles that can, without preparation and a strong mind, derail the process at any given time.

    If you want to hear those immortal words at the end of a gruelling 140.6 miles – ’You are an Ironman’ – then the 5 pillars of Ironman training may just help you achieve that goal.

    I will be the first to admit that these are not always easy to adhere to and it is easy to make mistakes in race preparations. Normally, either over training or under training are the biggest downfalls. Over training is easy to slip into when the body is feeling good and fast progress seems achievable if you just push harder, longer, faster. Wrong! It can take a strong, fit athlete 3-4 months to prepare for an Ironman and it can take a year or longer if you are starting from a different base point.

    Under training often results from a busy lifestyle, lack of conditioning and rest, injuries, and poor nutrition plus sometimes simply a lack of commitment. Commitment is something I have never lacked but pushing too hard too soon has often caused me to reassess my training. Remember, you need to know where you are now (Point A) to understand where you want to get to (Point B) and the time in which you have to do so. The base training phase of any Ironman program creates the platform for any athlete to build a solid training foundation.

    Ironman training is all-consuming and selfish. It affects family life, social activities, diet, sleep, wallet contents and stress levels. You will need support, understanding family and friends and a whole lot of determination. On the flip side, you will never feel more invincible, strong, fast, healthy, focused or proud.

    The 5 Pillars of Ironman Training

    Balance

    Ironman triathlon is a sport in itself, not a combination of swim, bike, and run. We balance our strengths and energies, our weaknesses and abilities to train and race holistically. Ironman does not allow a strong swimmer to be out of the water first and stay there if their bike and run don’t match their initial speed. Balance is critical.

    Consistency

    Triathlon training is a juggling act. Family, work, training schedules, rest and recovery, house admin, shopping... the list goes on. Where do we find the time? This becomes a skill in itself. 5am runs, 45-minute core sessions during lunch, late night swims when the kids are in bed.

    Personally, I do 50 squats every time I clean my teeth, 50 calf raises when I’m showering, stretch while watching TV, and I always take the stairs. This way, you can maximise your activity levels even if you have a busy lifestyle. 

    Endurance

    What is endurance? The ability to last. The ability to sustain long periods of physical activity at any given level of exertion.This all comes from a properly organised and planned training program. Ultimately, if you can sustain, you will succeed!

    Adaptability

    Probably the most important pillar. Training plans allow structure but what if they can’t be adhered to? Illness, injury, family holidays, work. We have to be able to overcome and adapt. If you have a niggling injury that prevents you running, can you increase your swim and bike sessions? Adaptation and an intuitive flexibility is the key to prevent burnout and injury. Listen to your body, no one knows it better than you do!

    Recovery

    Successful training incorporates a spectrum of intensity, from full throttle workouts to rest and recovery. It’s the valleys that make the peaks possible and both are essential to real consistent progress. Proper rest allows the body to grow and develop. Don’t forget that professional athletes train really hard but they also rest for the remainder of the day. Their food is prepared for them and all they do is get ready for the next training day. We don’t have that luxury so when you get a chance to rest, take it!

    Prepare well, stay consistent, balance your training and life, be adaptable and don’t forget that recovery is as important as training itself.

    See you at the start line.

    About the author: Mick Cronin is an Ironman Certified Coach.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Alex Dalton Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried ambassador cycling athlete triathlon

    Alex was inspired into the world of triathlon after a chance meeting with an Ironman athlete and a motivating conversation. He talks to Sundried about conquering his first Ironman and life as a triathlete. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been involved in sports, playing football from a young age up until last year.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    In June last year I met somebody at my wife’s work awards evening. I’d never heard about Ironman triathlon before and spent an hour listening to this guy telling me about Ironman and how he had completed a number of them. I was shocked at the distances he was telling me about, thinking it sounds crazy however I knew instantly that I wanted to do one. My wife called me crazy but I bought my first road bike the following month and entered Ironman UK two months later having only ridden my new bike a couple of times. 

    What’s been your best race to date?

    My favourite race and also proudest achievement to date was completing Ironman UK in Bolton on 14th July 2019. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done however also most rewarding. It was a pretty emotional moment coming down the finish chute with all my family and friends cheering me on. Having only bought my first bike just over 6 months ago I was absolutely chuffed to finish in 12 hours 28 seconds! (A very frustrating 28 seconds). 

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Since completing Ironman UK, I have had a couple of niggles meaning I’ve not been able to train as much as I’d have liked, however I don’t class these as setbacks. I treated this as the perfect opportunity to spend more time with family, and not worrying about eating that vanilla slice or double pepperoni pizza! You have to re-charge your batteries and more importantly your mind every now and then – after all, we all started this game with the intention of having fun!

    What are your goals for 2020?

    My 2020 goals are to chase a GB Age Group slot for World or European Olympic distance triathlon. I have got a coach on board and am now excited to give it my all and see what the outcome is!

    Who do you take inspiration from?

    I can’t say I have any one individual that is my inspiration, I just strongly believe that if you want something enough then you can always achieve it. You have to want to reach your goals for yourself, not for anybody else or any other reason. The early mornings or winter sessions will soon catch you out if you’re not in it for the right reasons. 

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    My favourite Sundried products so far are the bib shorts and bib leggings, the quality and fit are unbelievable and super comfy too! It also matches my bike which is a bonus!

    I am looking forward to buying the Sundried tri suit to race in over winter! The company appealed to me as they offer awesome products at a respectable and affordable price, as we all know triathlon can be an expensive sport however your kit for me is up there with the best and priced amazingly!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • The Sub 5-Hour 70.3: How To Improve Your Half Ironman Time

    running triathlon Eton Dorney

    I’m going to let you into a little secret. I started triathlon in 2012 unable to swim a single length of front crawl. This meant that in my very first triathlon, the London Triathlon, I swam breaststroke and was accompanied by the safety kayaks. I’d love to say this was a one-off and after this I sky-rocketed to triathlon success, but I’m afraid it wasn’t, and I didn’t. I entered a few more national races and the story was devastatingly similar – if not worse. I was accompanied by the safety kayak in every race and was the last person out of the water in nearly all of them.

    Why on earth did I not just throw it all in at this point? Well, I guess I still had some demons to put to bed first. Besides, I had entered my first half Ironman. Your first Ironman 70.3 (1.9k swim, 90k bike and 21k run) should probably be a nice, local, accessible one, where your friends and family can come and support you and where familiarity goes some way to help you cope with the prospect of taking on those intimidating distances. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing, though?

    cycling triathlon Ironman racing

    In “I’ll enter now and think about it later” style, I signed up for Ironman Lanzarote 70.3, having no clue what the island had in store for me, as I had never even been. Sounds nice though. Don’t people go on holiday there? Oh boy was I about to get a rude awakening. I had never flown abroad with my bike, never taken my bike apart and attempted to put it back together again, never raced the distance before and – to make matters worse – I’d never even hired a car abroad or driven on the wrong side of the road before. So I flew out to Lanzarote and did all of the above. Completely and utterly on my own.

    The race was something else. I vividly recall almost missing the swim start as I was faffing about, and then struggling through with a painfully slow front crawl/breast stroke mix combo. I exited the water (eventually) and there were basically a handful of bikes left in the thousand-strong transition area.

    Things got worse on the bike. Not only were there barely any cyclists around, but I had never before cycled downhill while standing up in the pedals. Yep, the notorious Lanzarote wind (which I was totally oblivious to until I experienced it in real life) hit me hard. I struggled through and after what felt like an age, I was on the run, plodding along, suffering, struggling, and disliking the whole experience immensely.

    I ran through the finish line in 7 hours and 24 minutes, just over half an hour away from the cut-off. I came second from last in my age group; a whole 2 hours and 15 minutes behind the winner of my age group.

    Sundried triathlete ambassador Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote

    Why then, did I not give up now?

    Well, there was the full Ironman, of course! I decided I wanted to just tick the box of doing an Ironman then I would give up triathlon and move onto something else that perhaps I wasn’t shamefully bad at.

    The only thing was, once I did an Ironman the following year, I decided to carry on…

    Fast forward seven years and I am now a sponsored triathlete having qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships a total of five times. I have completed over 30 half Ironman triathlons in total, and this year I have been on the podium with second place in my age group at two different international 70.3 races, coming in the top 10 females overall, including pros. I am a consistently sub-5 hour half Ironman finisher with a PB of 4:47 – a long way away from that epic 2012 finish time…

    Sundried activewear triathlon trisuit Ironman triathlon

    So this isn’t one of those “I tried my first triathlon and just casually won it” stories. Oh no. There’s no natural talent here – it was just hard work, grit, and dogged determination that has enabled me to get where I am in the sport.

    This is how I managed it:

    • I got a coach. This was key as making sure you’re doing the right training and getting sufficient recovery in is basically the best investment you can ever make if you want to improve.
    • I never, ever gave up. Probably the most important thing of all – even when I was embarrassed at how slow and rubbish I was, I was determined to better myself. I certainly wasn’t competing against anyone else, it was 100% an exercise of self-improvement.
    • I found a community. I joined a local tri club which gave me more confidence in myself, gave me people to train with, to ask questions, and gave me people to aspire to and draw inspiration from.
    • I raced lots. The only way to get better at racing is to race lots – sure, you can put all the hours you like into training but if you get it wrong on race day, it’s over. I learned by making probably every mistake there is to make over the course of a few years.
    • I adopted a professional approach. Sure, I wasn’t professional – probably as far from professional as you could get at the time, but I looked after myself, and I did everything properly. This meant nutrition, body maintenance, rest and recovery, fuelling, following structured plans to a T.
    • I created mini goals. I never once imagined I’d get where I am now, but along the way I just created mini goals, such as ‘go sub-6 hours’ or ‘go sub-3 hours on the bike’. Eventually, you just keep chipping away at it all and you keep on moving the goalposts as you improve. It makes it less daunting and far more achievable.

    There are no shortcuts or quick and easy routes to performance gains (especially when you start out as badly as I did!), but patience, hard work, and relentless commitment to your goals along the way all pay off. Most importantly, you really have to enjoy the process as triathlon is a bit of a lifestyle shift!

    For anyone who is thinking of giving triathlon a go but is unsure, please let me tell you this: just go after it. Ignore any negativity, ignore any embarrassment, ignore any self-doubt – because believe me, if I can do it, you most definitely can. And in a few years time, you might even surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.

    About the author: Amy Kilpin is an Ironman triathlete and Sundried ambassador.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Sam Buckler Athlete Ambassador

    runner athlete Sundried activewear

    Sam is an athlete who got into triathlon because he found just running to be too boring. He talks to Sundried about training and motivation.

    Have you always been into sport? 

    Yes I have, from a very young age I’ve always been a very active person which has led me to participate in over 11 sports, a mixture of individual and team sports ranging from Judo to rowing to rugby or table tennis. 

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon? 

    I used to be a long distance runner only, and once took part in a 50km ultra-marathon run, which was great fun but also got slightly boring after a while, which led me to think whether I could be able to combine my running with other sports. Adding to that a friend of mine had previously competed in various Ironman races which convinced me to take up triathlon. 

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why? 

    My favourite race so far has been the Bath Half Marathon 2019 for a couple of reasons, one being that I am a student in Bath and was really looking forward to running in front of a home crowd and people I knew very well, and also because I managed to hit a PB of 1:24:29. 

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievement was running the Bournemouth Marathon when I was aged 17, which I ran after having only just recovered from a 2 month long rugby injury. 

    Have you ever had racing disasters/your toughest race yet? 

    Luckily I haven’t yet had any major issues during a race, I do make sure the day before the race that all my equipment is all ready and set to go and that I am physically ready to race. But these things do happen and I am sure that I will inevitably face some more or less serious issues on the race course that I will have to deal with. 

    How do you overcome setbacks? 

    When I have a bad performance or a training session I’m disappointed with I just turn back and look at the positives, either in that particular race/training session, or throughout the months of training and the amount of improvement that I have gone through over that period. It’s always tough but this sport just like most sports is fought mentally and it’s your mentality which will often define if you reach your ultimate goal or not. 

    What advice do you wish you’d been given before you started competing?

    A piece of advice I would have appreciated while training for my first ever triathlon would probably have been to practise transitions as well as brick sessions ( running straight after cycling, or cycling straight after swimming ). I had only been focusing on the individual disciplines and came the day of the race and I was so far off my target because running after cycling is just a new sport in itself, but it taught me a lot and it was a valuable experience. 

    What are your goals for 2019/2020? 

    My goals for 2019 are to compete the Ironman 70.3 in Vichy, being my first middle distance triathlon I have for goal to complete it in under 5 hours, but we’ll see how it goes. Then I will be running the Cardiff Half marathon in September and hope to aim for a new PB. There is no doubt I will be racing another 70.3 in the early months of 2020 but the dates aren’t yet confirmed. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from? 

    My inspiration comes from a lot of things, a lot of incredible athlete have completed a lot of incredible things which is in itself amazing, but if I were to think of an athlete in particular I would have to say Tim Don, who is a Ironman champion who in the past year had a terrible accident while he was ruling the triathlon world, which set him back hugely, but he made a full recovery in 3 months and is now back up and running and competing on the biggest stage again which is just incredible in terms of mental strength and motivation. 

    What do you like about Sundried and what is your favourite piece of kit? 

    I recently bought the Sundried tri-suit and have tried it a few times and have been incredibly surprised by how breathable it is and how incredibly aerodynamic it is. It also provides a surprising amount of comfort for long rides which I did not know was possible. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren