• Tim Klingert Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete running racing

    Tim is an American athlete who has some big goals for this year. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I started playing youth sports as soon as I could walk. From soccer to hockey and hiking. I was a sponsored rocker climber for about 10 years and found my way to endurance sports in adulthood.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I started running for general health and “caught the bug” shall we say. I wanted a new challenge and took on triathlon.

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

    I love my local half marathon, The Newburyport Half Marathon, which takes place in New Hampshire, Massachusetts. It’s a great course in late fall with tons of locals lining the streets for 13.1 miles. The energy and noise and excitement make for an excellent course.

    And your proudest achievement?

    My half marathon PR last year was a huge moment for me. It was my last last race of the year and came in at 1 hour 32 minutes. It showed I can definitely reach my 2020 goal of a sub 1:30 half marathon.

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

    My toughest race was when I decided to race with the flu...not the brightest idea!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Check and adjust, check and adjust, all season long.

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

    Get a coach, trust the process, and love the places you’ll go.

    What are your goals for 2020?

    2020 is a big year fir me. I'm aiming for a sub 1 hour 30 minute half marathon and I will also make my debut in trail and mountain running this summer.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Anyone who gives 100% to their workouts and races. Those who show up and put the work in to earn the PR regardless of time. The person faster than me who I’m always chasing.

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

    I love the transparency throughout the entire company and knowing Sundried products are responsibly made.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Matt Baldock Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete triathlon bike cycling aero TT racing

    Matt first entered an Ironman as a dare but soon found he was hooked. He tells Sundried about lessons learnt and life as a triathlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I wanted to be a footballer like most other kids, and after some initial promise with my favourite team, West Ham United, it failed to materialise! Luckily, being raised in a London borough we had access to the (then) London Heathrow Youth Games which gave anyone interested an opportunity to try the majority of sport available. This is where my first taste of all things triathlon began – being a fixture in our borough’s all conquering aquathlon team.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    It was a dare. My friend Rich challenged me to complete the famous Ironman UK Bolton in 2015. We were both fitness addicts and regularly trained together but had no cycling background. I took up the challenge and paid the rather high entry fee before Rich admitted he was trying to call my bluff and didn’t sign up himself! The rest was history as I relished the challenge and loved the journey to race day. The atmosphere from both competitors and crowds was so positive and supportive and that is when I really took notice of this new community I’ve grown to love. 

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

    My favourite race was not one that I performed particularly well in, but everything about it from training to race execution was right on plan for once. It was the Ironman 70.3 European Championships in Elsinore, Denmark, which was a beautiful location complete with the most spectator-friendly course I’ve seen – a must-do race. Being the 2nd Brit home was a great achievement for me as was my AG 52nd position, but the real joy was hitting my target numbers throughout the race – even after my Garmin crashed on the run and I had to pace by feel. It was also a great excuse to have a short city break afterwards in Copenhagen.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Qualifying for the GB Age Group team for the ETU European Duathlon Championships 2019 is by far my proudest achievement. I was on the verge of pulling out as I hadn’t been able to run for 4 weeks due to a double Achilles injury which meant I had to wear special boots in bed and hadn’t been able to walk for the first 2 weeks of that. I turned up on race day with better bike fitness than normal and simply hoping that my Achilles tendons wouldn’t fail. Luckily, although my run times were way off anything I’d normally post, I did enough to qualify comfortably – although during the race I did feel like I hadn’t.

    running triathlon finish

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

    Fortunately, I haven’t had any complete disasters although there have been a few hairy moments. From this season I had two in particular. The first was during the Etape Du Dales sportive where the front derailleur on my road bike sheared off, leaving me stuck in the big ring trying to take on 10,000 feet of climbing. Needless to say I had to call the support crew and pull out. The second was in the Thorpe Park Triathlon where my wetsuit was a little tight for the swim. Not a problem during it but the moment I exited the water I started feeling very light-headed and ended up falling onto the poor bloke next to me in transition who was trying to take his bike out. Luckily he was good humoured after we appeared like two seals at feeding time. Somehow I didn’t suffer a DQ (phew!) and managed to carry on.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    With difficulty! It is of course important to have an understanding support network around you from both sporting and non-sporting perspectives for balance, but the reality is any competitive person struggles with setbacks – particularly if they get in the way of training. We are all obsessive characters which is a curse at times like these. The only thing that has kept me sane during this period is focusing and obsessing over something else – be it work or another hobby. The mind must be kept occupied to avoid anything overcoming you. You’ll heal in time and certain things have a knack of sorting themselves out.

    What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

    Get a bike fit. This is the single most important thing for any race involving a bike.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    My target is to be in the top 5 Brits at the European Champs, and my stretch target is to medal. Everything from having a good winter of training to conditions on the day would need to be perfect but why not – belief is the absence of self-doubt.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    There are three key people who inspire me in life.

    Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack – possibly the best triathlete to ever live, certainly the most versatile – and who continued to perform at an incredible level even after being shunned by his own Olympic association. Perhaps the best athlete never to compete at an Olympic games?

    Virginia Woolf – in my opinion the greatest writer in history, with an inimitable stream-of-consciousness style and someone who was not afraid to share her truth or court controversy. Her influence on feminist movements is underplayed, and her influence on postmodernism certainly deserves more credit. I recommend reading ‘The Waves’ for a true challenge.

    Nick Vujicic – you cannot fail to find perspective, inspiration and education from Nick, born with tetra-amelia syndrome (absence of all four limbs), yet preaches a life without limits ideology that is infectious and self-empowering. All after attempting suicide aged 10. Many lessons to learn from this gentleman.

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

    Sundried understands athletes. They understand our need for performance, our need to look our best and our need to promote ethical, humanitarian values whilst living our lives. As athletes we are privileged to be able to compete when others can’t, and this responsibility requires alignment to core values as we influence those around us. Sundried perfectly fills this remit.

    As for my favourite piece of kit, it has to be the Albaron Men’s Muscle Fit T-Shirt. Stylish and the seamless design is essential for comfort. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Jessica Tew Athlete Ambassador

    athlete cycling fitness workout

    Jessica started out as a dancer but found the sport of triathlon to be too exciting to miss. She talks to Sundried about Ironman racing and motivation as an athlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I grew up as a dancer (ballet, modern, jazz and tap). I then re-found my love for sport a few years later after some weight loss and discovered triathlon.

    How did you first get into triathlon?

    I loved the idea of triathlon as I couldn’t get bored with 3 different disciplines to train for, also I wanted to race a dentist I was working with at the time!

    What’s been your best race to date?

    Weymouth 70.3. It was one of the hardest swims and cycles ever (the commentator was calling it ‘wet and wild Weymouth’) but I walked away with an 11 minute personal best.

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

    Yes, Weymouth 70.3 2017 was my worst race to date. I had picked up numerous self-fixed mechanicals on the bike and got caught up in a crash which unfortunately left me with a DNF. It broke my heart but made me hungry to get back out there and smash it as I had done in 2016.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I have the most amazing people around me, family, friends, coach and PT they all have the best support a girl could wish for.

    What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

    Listen to your body! You need to appreciate and enjoy rest days.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    My goal for 2019 is to complete two 70.3 races.

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

    The Ruinette women's capri leggings in blue are my favourite. They fit amazingly well and don’t fall down or ride up while I'm training.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Q&A With Esther O'Callaghan Ironman Triathlete

    Ironman triathlete beach open water

    Esther entered an Ironman to raise funds for Thrive Fund which provides small bursaries for disadvantaged young people to enter employment. She then went on to found Isle Of Tri with fellow Sundried ambassador and World Champion duathlete Claire Steels. She talks to Sundried about training for an Ironman from scratch and what it meant to her.

    What made you want to enter an Ironman? And why full distance rather than half?

    A team of us did it to raise money for the Thrive Fund, a fund I founded which provides small bursaries for disadvantaged young people to enter employment.  Most people opted for Tough Mudder, Bear Grylls challenges and a few bake sales and dress down days. But one team decided to do an Ironman and they signed me up for it. So it was a case of blind ignorance as I had no idea what one was.

    You say you never learnt to swim, how did you find taking lessons from scratch?

    Extremely daunting!  It turned out not only did I not know how to swim, I was also terrified of the water. There were a lot of tears, a lot of sitting at a table with my head in a bowl of water trying to learn how not to panic underwater, lots of sitting in a bath learning to submerge my head under the water. More tears. Lots of swearing. 

    If I hadn’t had a compelling reason to do this, it's highly likely I would have given up. Then I met Salim from SwimLab and that changed everything. His love of water and his way of teaching someone like me how to learn to love swimming made all the difference. I also learned that a lot of triathletes don’t like the swim, so I decided to learn how to love it. 

    My first swimming lesson was 30 October 2017. Eight months later I swam the Brighton Paddle Round the Pier (don’t be fooled by the name - it's a 2.5km open water sea swim!) and a full Ironman swim 11 months later.

    What was the toughest part about learning to ride a road bike?

    Cycling shoes! I went to Tri UK and was handed a pair of cycling shoes. I looked at the shop assistant who had the misfortune to serve me and I was like “You ATTACH your feet to the pedals? Are you insane?!”  More tears, more swearing.  You see the pattern here.

    How did you fit the hours of training for a full Ironman into your work and home life?

    This is possibly one of the most challenging aspects of an Ironman. The last 3-4 months of training I was averaging 18 hours a week.

    You have to get up earlier, work smarter, and sacrifice a lot of other things - especially weekends. It is a huge commitment for a year - but I found that everything improved; my health, fitness, strength and because I had to stop working to train, it made me work harder and faster. It was worth it.

    What was the hardest part of training for an Ironman?

    Self doubt. Having to learn to override the gnawing voice that says, "what are you doing? What were you thinking? How the hell are you going to do this?"

    In what ways did you surprise yourself over the course of your Ironman journey?

    In every way. Learning to swim, cycle, and run properly from scratch is insane now I look back at it.

    Who is your biggest inspiration?

    Rob and Hayley Roche. I met them at a Got To Tri Camp in Mallorca. They are an amazing couple who inspire me because they just train. They don’t make a big song and dance about it, but they consistently train, week in week out, they do more triathlon/multisport events than is normal and they are always encouraging and supportive of all my efforts. They keep me motivated.

    What advice would you give to others thinking of training for an Ironman for the first time?

    I’m not sure coming from total zero to a full Ironman in 11 months is the most sensible thing to do. I think it is really important to be part of a triathlon club and train regularly with them. Training on your own for prolonged periods of time is really hard.

    Get a good coach who can give you a real-world training plan – most of us aren’t pro athletes, we have jobs, lives, kids and unexpected curve balls. You have to be able to obsess slightly over training, everyone around you will be sick of you by the time the event rolls around! 

    Prioritise smart training. It's not just about time and miles; your nutrition, strength and core work and transition practice are all as essential as swimming, cycling and running. Try to make some of it fun - I think I left a part of my soul on the turbo trainer of doom by putting in three hour sessions on it. 

    Have accountability partners who won’t allow you to slide when you are struggling to find the motivation. 

    Avoid the trap of spending a small country’s GDP on equipment. It is a never-ending money pit!  You don’t need a £12k Cervelo bike - it isn’t going to make you go two hours faster - no matter how much lighter it makes your wallet. 

    Don’t train over injury; if your body is hurting and not in a good way, listen to it. Ignoring this was my biggest mistake and I paid a high price for it.

    How can people support you now that you've completed your challenge?

    Triathlon has completely changed my life. Starting Isle of Tri was all about how to inspire other women to give it a go. The best part of the journey so far has been the number of women who have got into triathlon because of me.

    If I can do it, anyone can.  I came from nothing; I have asthma, hypermobility, dyspraxia and I’m left handed - none of these things are conducive to athleticism!  But I did it anyway and it was worth it.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Choose A Wetsuit For Triathlon: Expert Advice And Buying Guide

    Huub wetsuit triathlon open water swim

    If the triathlon you are planning to do features an open water swim, a wetsuit is a must. In some cases they are mandatory and so you must wear one. Not only this, due to the fact they aid with buoyancy, they can be a vital part of the swim. 

    In this guide, you will find expert information about sizing, fitting, and much more so that you know exactly what to look for when investing in a wetsuit for triathlon. Whether you're renting or buying, don't do anything until you've read this guide!

    Buoyancy

    One of the most advantageous aspects of wearing a wetsuit for your open water swim is the buoyancy. However, you need a wetsuit that isn't too buoyant because it could cause back ache and make breaststroke swimming virtually impossible.

    The only way you can tell if the buoyancy in your chosen wetsuit is correct is to swim in it before you buy it. Some retailers have pools where you can try the wetsuit in the water and even be videoed to see if the buoyancy in the legs is right for you.

    Flexibility

    As a general rule, the more you pay for your wetsuit, the more flexible it will be. Flexibility increases your level of comfort, so think about how long you will be wearing your suit in each open water session. A long distance swimmer should always go for maximum flexibility, while someone who races exclusively in sprint triathlons could get away with a cheaper, less flexible wet suit. But think ahead – you may only be doing short swims this season, but if your goal for next year is an Ironman or 2 mile swim, you'll want to invest in a more expensive wetsuit.

    swimming triathlon wetsuit buying guide

    Warmth

    All wetsuits provide you with warmth and the layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit will warm up quickly once you get moving.  If you particularly suffer with the cold early or late in the season, there are wetsuits that have a special thermal lining inside to keep you warm. This feature would be particularly useful for someone planning a big challenge like swimming the Channel or doing a triathlon in a colder country.

    If you do suffer from the cold, you may also need to invest in a neoprene swim cap as well as socks and gloves. Make sure you check with race organisers first that you can wear them in an event.

    Sizing

    Unless you are a very unusual shape, there should be no need to buy a custom-made suit as there is a wide variety of sizes available to fit everyone. All wetsuit brands have size charts but they are all unique to their brand, so check the chart carefully if you are buying online. 

    Top Tip: Avoid buying a unisex suit as men and women are shaped differently.

    triathlon mass swim start wetsuit swimmers

    Fitting

    The video below is a demonstration of how to put on a wetsuit. Ensure that the seal around your neck is fitted properly and is good quality, otherwise the wetsuit will fill up with water. For maximum comfort, you will need to spend around 10-15 minutes getting the suit on and smoothing out any creases. 

    Zips

    There are a few different types of zips available. Make sure you are familiar with your zip and how it works before your event.  A breakaway zipper offers the quickest exit for triathlon but not if you are unfamiliar with its operation. More expensive suits will often have a very lightweight zip which slides up and down quickly, making getting in and out of the wetsuit quicker for more streamlined transition times.

    Warranty

    A wetsuit that is cared for properly will last you 3-4 years, but sometimes things do go wrong. An 18-month or 2 year warranty should be offered with your wetsuit purchase if you buy from a reputable dealer.

    Buying Versus Renting

    Buying online without trying it on first on can be a very costly mistake. Always ask a professional for advice before investing money in a wetsuit.  Buying a wetsuit is a big investment for most people and it's worth taking the time to do some research and travel to visit a shop where you can try before you buy.

    Not only this, it's important to make sure you are buying a swimming-specific wetsuit and not a surf or diving wetsuit. Sadly, surfing wetsuits are often sold to triathletes and swimmers but this type of suit can slow you down and restrict the movement of your arms - not what you want for a race!

    An entry-level wetsuit can start at just £120 while top-of-the-range suits could set you back up to £600. The middle mark of £300 will give you a great choice of mid-range wetsuits.

    If you are unsure about buying a wetsuit, you can hire a wetsuit for the season or just for your event. Lots of triathlon events will have a wetsuit hire facility available on the day, and all good stores will offer a rental facility. 

    About the authors: Gill and Dawn are professional triathlon swim coaches, ex-triathletes, and experts on wetsuits. Together they run Tri N Swim Well, a private swim coaching facility in Essex and wetsuit showroom.

    Read More: Triathlon Race Day Kit Checklist

    Read More: Huub Archimedes II Wetsuit Review

    Read More: Triathlon Swimming Goggle Guide

    Posted by Alexandra Parren