• Emma Harding Junior Athlete Ambassador

    swimming pool open water triathlon

    For Emma, triathlon training is her life. She tells Sundried about life as a junior triathlete.

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

    I love competitions, so much so I have an event booked every weekend in October (sorry dad). Two events that stand out for me are a swimming gala in Felixstowe where I competed in 5 swimming events and managed to win 4 golds and 1 silver. The other was a triathlon event at Hever Castle that had 161 girls aged 8-10 competing from across the country and I managed to finish in 1st place. The triathlon season is now finished and I came 2nd in the Eastern Tri league. I am already looking forward to next season. It can't come soon enough.

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

    It all started with my dad taking me swimming at 5 years old. He was taking me 3 times a week so my fitness really got a boost at an early age. I joined a swimming club at 7 years old and have competed all over the UK ever since. I can't imagine my life without competitions. As for triathlon events I've only started doing those this year.

    What are your training goals now?

    To continue to work hard and focus on increasing my endurance as I move into Triathlon Tristar 2. I have the regional swimming championships in January so I will focus much of my training on swimming. I've also asked my dad if we can go to Spain or Portugal for a triathlon camp. Watch this space.

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

    I've been short listed by my primary school to be head girl.

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

    Keep focused and work towards a goal. Never give up and enjoy every minute. The harder you work the greater the results.

    Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?

    I eat a lot of pasta and chicken and I stay away from fast food. Food is as important as training so you need to make sure you are eating the right food. Also you can't go wrong with lots of fruit and veggies.

    Talk us through your training regime.

    I train at my local swimming club 6 times a week which totals around 14 hours, this includes 3 5am starts. I attend training at my local tri club once a week and I also go on lots of bike rides and runs with my dad and sister. I don't have much time for anything else.

    How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

    I regularly read the 220 Triathlon magazine and keep my eye on social media, especially Twitter and Instagram.

    What are your top 3 training tips?

    1. Set up a training schedule and stick to it
    2. Never give up
    3. Have fun and make friends

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

    Cheesy pasta.

    Why work with Sundried?

    I first saw Sundried at a local tri event and instantly took a liking to the brand due to us both having something in common. We both live and breathe fitness. Also the Sundried products are incredible.

    Favourite fitness quote:

    "If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren't willing to do." - Michael Phelps.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Vanessa Johnston Athlete Ambassador

    Vanessa athlete triathlon Sundried

    Vanessa is a keen Ironman triathlete who enjoys competing with friends. She talks about life as a triathlete while maintaining a demanding full-time job. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    I’ve always had an interest in sport, both watching and participating. It has only been in the last few years that I have gotten more into different sports through friends.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I’ve always enjoyed cycling since I was young and then started to run, doing my first half marathon about 5 years ago. I had heard about triathlon but I couldn’t swim so didn’t pursue it. I was cycling with some friends in Belgium and Ironman triathlon came up as a challenge that we wanted to do. A few weeks later we had signed up for St. Polten 70.3 and I went in search of a local Tri club to start training with! 

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

    I’m tied between 2 - Ironman Zurich as it was my first (and only so far) Ironman which I finished with my husband and two friends. My other favourite race is the Volcano Triathlon based in Club La Santa in Lanzarote. It’s an amazing venue with brilliant support and lots of other Evo Tri Club members compete as well which pushes everyone on!

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievement is finishing the swim in the Long Course Weekend last year - I was more worried about swimming in Tenby than I have been about any other race but it turned out to be a brilliant event that I really enjoyed.

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

    No disasters yet but the toughest event that I have done is the Dragon Ride in Wales - it is a 230km cycle with nearly 12,000ft of climbing and the weather was horrible, I’ve never been soaked through, dried and soaked again so many times in one day! 

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I’m quite a stubborn and determined person so for me it’s about keeping going and not giving up. It is also about recognising that setbacks are not always physical such as an injury, they can be related to work, training, diet and any big changes in your life. I always try to find a positive spin on things too and being realistic about the impact that training has on your life and vice versa.

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

    That rest and nutrition are as important as training. The nutrition side of things I am comfortable with as I have a lot of knowledge through my degree and job to help me keep on top of it although I have a really sweet tooth which means that treats are really frequent!. Working a pretty manic full time job, training and having a social life means that I definitely haven’t mastered resting and recovering properly yet! 

    What are your goals for 2018?

    I’m competing for GB this year in both the ITU Long Distance Championship which is in Denmark in July and the ETU Long Distance Championship in September. The ETU race is part of Challenge Madrid so it should be a great event.  I’m also signed up for Triathlon X which is a 70.3 in the Lake District but it is the toughest course I have ever seen and it’s the weekend after the ETU so I might be more of a supporter than competitor. 

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I’ve naturally taken to triathlon quite well and although I train a lot I don’t put in nearly as many hours as other athletes at my level but can still deliver good results so I consider myself quite lucky. My inspiration comes from the people who do triathlons and are at the back of the pack but they keep going, even when the course is being packed up. To keep going when you can see everyone else finishing is amazing and they have a mental strength that makes me think that if they can keep going on for several more hours than me on the same course then I can put in some more effort.

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

    My favourite kit is the Breithorn 2.0 women's sports bra. I really struggle with clothes scratching my legs, neck and chest and it doesn’t leave any marks even after a long run which is brilliant. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Choose Your First Triathlon

    Open Water Swimming Triathlon Beach Wetsuit

    Choosing a triathlon can be tough if it's your first time. Open water or pool swim? Sprint or standard distance? There are lots of things to consider. Follow our step-by-step guide to get you to the starting line of your first event.

    1. Choose a distance

    There are levels for everyone of every ability in triathlon. From super sprint to full Iron distance, the distance you choose can make a big difference to your success. The distance you choose will depend largely on your current level of fitness and also whether you prefer short, fast events or longer endurance events. Going for a full Iron distance triathlon for your first ever event is probably not advisable as there are serious risks involved if you do not execute it properly.

    Triathlon Distances

     Race Swim Bike Run
    Super Sprint 400m 10km 2.5km
    Sprint 750m 20km 5km
    Standard (Olympic) 1500m 40km 10km
    Middle (Half Iron/70.3) 1900m 90km 20km
    Full (Full Iron/140.6) 3860m 180km 40km


    Open Water Swimming Triathlon Lake Swim Hat Race

    2. Choose a location

    For your first ever triathlon, you'll probably want to stay quite close to home. There's nothing worse than being exhausted and sweaty and having to then drive for hours to get home. You'll also want to make sure the location you choose has the right hills for your level. Some events are a lot tougher than others simply because of the gradients you face, so for your first event, it may be an idea to choose a location by the coast as they are less likely to have a lot of tough hills involved.

    With that said, some triathlons offer incredible locations for their races with views and scenery that you would not otherwise be able to enjoy. There is a Castle triathlon series which sees triathletes race around famous castles in the UK, while the London Triathlon allows you to enjoy the landmarks of London while you race. Some routes use disused railways and some use private grounds, so check out some of the more interesting routes to make the most of your experience. 

    3. Indoor or outdoor?

    An indoor triathlon can be a great way to ease yourself into your first triathlon as it removes the element of the open water swim, which can often be the most daunting discipline for newcomers. This allows you to practice performing the three sports and perfecting your transition before you tackle a sea swim, which comes with the worry of battling the tide, getting into and out of a wetsuit, and being hit by other swimmers.

    Cycling Outdoor Triathlon Transition

    4. Choose your price

    Triathlon can be an expensive pursuit, and some events cost a lot more than others. Decide on your budget and then choose a race accordingly. Entry prices can range anywhere from around £30 to over £100.

    5. Get your entry in early!

    Races tend to sell out very quickly, especially the popular ones, so make sure once you have decided which event you're going to do that you get your entry in quickly to secure your place. 

    Bikes Transition Sport Triathlon

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Sam Gibbs Ironman Triathlete

    triathlete bike riding cycling

    Sam has had his share of setbacks but trains hard to get results. He talks to Sundried about racing as an Ironman triathlete. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    I’ve always been active and tried my hand at many sports, including rock-climbing at University. My 20s were spent mountain biking before I bought my first road bike in 2011.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I was watching a friend compete in a local triathlon in 2014 and asked myself why it wasn’t me in the pool. I booked my first race that evening and the rest is history. Later that year, I bumped into the founder of our local triathlon club, Eric Perrier, who encouraged me to join Tunbridge Wells Triathlon Club and get some structured training in. I now race in club colours and sit on the committee, in turn welcoming new members into the club!

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

    Outlaw Holkham Half in June 2018. The location makes it special but the course was brutal – 32 degree heat, strong headwinds and a hilly run!

    And your proudest achievement?

    Smashing my 70.3 PB at Holkham.

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

    I got stuck in my wetsuit in the final race of 2017. The zip had jammed requiring two marshals to rip the wetsuit off. That was an expensive race.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    2017 was a huge setback – I broke my clavicle, scapular and separated my shoulder in a skiing accident, requiring 2 surgeries and 4 months off the bike. I love competing at Hever Castle so set that as an end of season comeback event. Lots of structured training and support from my tri club got me there, along with another PB.

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

    Set structured training goals. Consistency is the key to success.

    What are your goals for 2018?

    Go sub 5:15 at an Ironman 70.3.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I’m always inspired by Lucy Gossage – 11 Ironman championships at the same time as working full time as a doctor!

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

    I like the simplicity and ethics of the brand. I absolutely love my Grande Casse Hoody, wearing it for autumn and spring runs as well as lounging around the house.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Alun Hanford Athlete Ambassador

    triathlete racing bike cycling

    Alun got into the sport of triathlon after being encouraged by a work colleague and hasn't looked back since. He's now got his sights set on the 70.3 World Championships. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    I played football up the age of about 15 and then didn't pick up sporting activities again until I was about 22. From 22 I started lifting weights at a local gym around 4 to 5 times per week and also dabbled in Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). I didn’t do my first triathlon until September 2013, at the age of 26. 

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    A work colleague mentioned that they were entering a local Olympic distance triathlon and suggested I join them. I fancied trying something new so decided to give it a go. I completed the sprint distance and was instantly hooked.

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

    Ironman 70.3 Mallorca without a doubt; I have raced there twice now and loved it both times. The event itself is very well organised, the weather is generally great and the course is amazing, especially the bike.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Representing Great Britain at age group level for the 2017 European Championships in Herning, Denmark was pretty special.

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

    At the European Championships in Herning, Denmark my wetsuit zipper broke as I entered the water prior to the swim start. It meant swimming the 1.9km course with the back of my wetsuit completely open!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Firstly I try to remember that, at times, life will get in the way of your best laid plans. I try not to dwell on things that are outside of my control. If, for instance I have a setback due to injury or illness, then I will look back at my training diary and see if there are lessons to be learned, perhaps over-training or poor sleep quality etc.

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

    Don’t focus too much on what other people are doing. Learn what works best for you and above all things, remember to enjoy the sport.

    What are your goals for 2018?

    Running goals

    • 10 mile: Sub 1 hour
    • Half Marathon: Sub 1:20
    • Marathon: Sub 3 hours (Complete at Southampton Marathon in 2:59:51)

    Triathlon goals

    • Qualify for the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championships

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I would have to say all of the top level age group triathletes who are juggling work/life with their hobby.

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

    I really like what the brand stands for in terms of its ethics.

    My favourite bit of kit would have to be the Sundried Grande Casse Men's Hoody. It looks great and is lightweight which makes it perfect for training in.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren