September 2017

September 2017

14 essential tri bike skills to master: Ignored by many triathletes at their cost, having good bike handling skills and riding techniques can make a huge amount of difference – just ask Flora Duffy

Want to extend your season? Here’s a four week duathlon training plan that’ll help

Do you really need to taper? Our experts debate how to carry out the perfect taper so you are in the form of your life for race day.

Qualified for Kona? Who’s better top give you some tips than 4 times Kona queen Chrissie Wellington

Kit Zone: Simply the most comprehensive triathlon review resource available; multisport watch, run shoe, and women’s swimsuit grouptests; three Tour de France bikes get tested for tri suitability; all the latest tri gear tested.

Ask the man: Six-time Ironman world champ Dave Scott answers your questions, plus our panel of experts come to the multisporting rescue

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40 tips for nailing the Ironman marathon

BOOST YOUR BIKE STRENGTH

 If you want to complete the 42.2km Ironman marathon comfortably, then start with your bike strength. Coach and 39-time Ironman finisher Mark Kleanthous explains how to get the most out of your training.

1. If you want to ‘compete’ at the Ironman, run 60mins max effort after your most important long ride. Do this 2-3 times a month during the final 12 weeks.

2. If you want to ‘complete’ the Ironman, run 4-5 times a fortnight off the bike for 15mins, starting 20 weeks before Ironman day. Never run further than 45mins after cycling.

3. Know the total amount of climbing for your chosen Ironman bike. Start training with a similar cumulative elevation gain for each 10 miles, then progress to similar gradients in the final 16 weeks.

4. Learn to endure long steady rides of 4-5 hours before turning them into an Ironman effort in the final 12 weeks, during the race-specific phase of your preparation.

5. Improve your performance by completing a maximum of two long runs a month and never run further than 2.5hrs in the final 16 weeks.

6. Boost your endurance gains by consistently riding 75-85 miles two to four times a month, rather than rather than shorter and much longer rides.

7. As soon as you can, work out how much solid food you can absorb during your bike-to-run workouts without gastric issues. Reduce the solid amount by 15% on race day  

8. Practise cycling at iron effort for up to one hour after swimming, at least twice a month, and wait 5mins after starting your bike before consuming fluids, then switch to solids after 25mins.

9. Worried about the swim or bike cut-off? If you can, hire a multisport coach to improve your swimming and cycling techniques. 

How to choose a triathlon coach

10. Train at Ironman effort on the actual race course or as close to the same profile as you can find. And, if you can, climb the same amount every 10miles to get your legs used to the effort.

COVER ALL EVENTUALITIES 

As with most things in life, planning is key when undertaking an Ironman. Multiple long-distance race winner David McNamee shares his secrets to smashing all 42.2km

11. Cut your toenails before the race – not the night before though as you don’t want to deal with any nicks on race day. This will just make for a more comfortable marathon run.

12. Race in whatever’s comfy for you. If that means a change of clothes in T2 then go for it. You’re going to be out there for several hours – chafing is not welcome! Also, consider nipple plasters!

13. Stick to your pre-race plan, especially early on in the run. And don’t get competitive trying to race others. The Ironman marathon has to be very individual.

14. Find out which nutrition brand and specific bars/gels etc. are going to be on offer during your Ironman run and practise using them in training. Your gut will need to adapt, so start two months prior.

15. Make sure you know where the aid stations are pre-race so you can factor in any stops, when you will take on nutrition and any extras you might need to carry with you. This will really help with your pacing plan as well.

FUEL EVERY KILOMETRE 

A successful Iron marathon requires a well-practised nutrition plan and some forward thinking. Over to sports scientist Andy Blow

16. Pace the bike ride sensibly. This will allow you to eat and drink plenty before the run starts, and to get off the bike in good shape leading to a much better run than if you’re already blown up.

17. Start eating little and often on the run (gels, blocks or other easily digestible carbs every couple of KMs) – don’t wait until you start to feel low or hungry to begin eating as it’ll be too late.

18. Walk a few strides through all the aid stations, even early on and if you’re feeling good. This allows you to properly consume food and drink without spilling and gulping down loads of air.

19. Take salty foods from the aid stations – if the salt tastes good, eat more of it or take some salt capsules as it’s a sign your body is craving sodium and it will help you maintain better hydration levels

20. Sip on flat Coke if you start to flag or feel like your blood sugars are dropping. The liquid sugar hits your bloodstream very quickly and can dig you out of a hole if you’re starting to bonk

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Up close with Holly Lawrences new bike the Trek Speed Concept 99

Gear > Bike > Time Trial/Triathlon bikes

2016 Ironman 70.3 world champ Lawrence plans to destroy many a 90km bike leg this season on her new ride

I  joined Trek at the beginning of this year [2017]; they were a company that I’ve been wanting to work with for a long time. I’ve just always loved their bikes, what they stand for and that they stay ahead of the game in terms of technology – I obviously want to be as fast as possible and the Speed Concept 9.9 is Trek’s fastest TT bike.

The bike is so adjustable that it fits me as opposed to me trying to fit to a bike, which has been the case with previous brands. It has so many options to tweak the position. It’s sleek looking with everything integrated – Trek really have thought of everything with this bike. 

Trek got me fitted with the help of Paraic McGlynn at Cyclologic in Arizona. It was a pretty intensive couple of days that included a full biomechanical analysis, using 360° video, pressure mapping and a whole bunch of gizmos in a fit studio, as well as testing the position out on the road. 

 I haven’t done any aero testing yet but will definitely be looking to do something like that soon

1. For racing I ride Bontrager Aeolus 6 tubular front and Bontrager disc on the rear, which is just so light. The Aeolus 6 front isn’t actually out to the public yet but has tested faster than their deeper section wheels.

2. Trek 3D printed a mount for my SRM head unit so it’s integrated to the TT bars.

3. The frame is Speed Concept with a Project One custom paint job in the Trek Factory Racing team colours. 

4. I run a 54/39 11-28 set-up. A lot of people run a 11-26 cassette but I love having the option of a 28 and being able to use a higher cadence as much as possible.

5. There’s a Bontrager rubberised bento box that fixes into the frame where I put Clif Shot Bloks in to race. I have a rear bottle cage as I’m trying to get away from bottles on the frame, which is a slower set-up, and a bottle cage on the TT bars.

Up close with Flora Duffy’s bike, the Scott Foil

Up close with Joe Skipper’s bike, the Guerciotti Eclipse

Up close with Javier Gomez’s bike, the S-Works Shiv

Meet Sebastian Kienle’s tri bike, the Scott Plasma 5

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dhb Blok shortsleeved trisuit reviewed

Backed by the might of Wiggle, in-house brand dhb’s range of tri-suits has always been, for us, a solid and affordable (if uninspiring) choice for race day. That’s all changed for 2017 with the launch of their stylish new Blok and Classic tri range aimed at ‘intermediate triathletes’, comprising vested, two-piece and dhb’s first sleeved tri-suits.

The Blok Short Sleeve (£76) has continually impressed us on dry land and even in the pool. Clear attention to detail is evident. We get the sense these suits have been designed and tested by people that actually do triathlon. There’s a full-length zip guard to stop the zip rubbing on the chest, something oddly neglected by many brands. The thin silicon leg grippers are something we’d expect on suits twice this price (see the Sailfish Attack), keeping the legs securely in place but not restrictively.

We’ve seen plenty of unsuccessful experimentation with pocket shapes and positions but the Blok keeps things simple and reliable, with two well-positioned lower back pockets on the left and right that are smartly sized for energy gels, chews and bars, and are easy to access. 

The 13cm-wide perforated pad, meanwhile, is quick to dry after the swim leg and achieves the balance of bike comfort for short-course racing while remaining invisible on the run leg. Ventilation is provided by a smartly-placed panel that runs the length of the spine. And there are plenty of additional flourishes on show, including the striking aesthetics and the Xtra Life Lycra that’s resistant to suncream and chlorine damage. We could give or take the slight compressive properties in the thighs, however. 

The two-piece Blok Short Sleeve Top (£45) and Classic Tri Shorts (£42), on the far right, offer many of the same benefits as the all-in-one version. The top stayed low thanks to the internal silicon hem, the drawstring waist keeps the shorts in place and the rear pockets are just about big enough for drink tabs, coins and a key. 

Our major issue for the shorts comes in the slender pad, which is used across the whole new line. Two-piece suits, for us, are for long-course convenience and comfort, yet we personally wouldn’t want to race longer than 40km in these and even dhb themselves market these for Olympic-distance racing. 

They did, however, reveal that a new Aeron Tri Suit is arriving next season aimed at long-distance triathletes. And if it matches the style, affordability, performance and smartly-crafted features of 2017’s Blok and Classic range, we’ll be snapping one up. 

Verdict: Comfy,  easy on the wallet and eyes. A major statement of intent from dhb 92%

Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk

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New CEO of BTF appointed

News

Present interim CEO of Scottish Snowsport and chairman of Triathlon Scotland Andy Salmon has been appointed the new Chief Executive of the British Triathlon Federation

Andy Salmon has been announced as the new Chief Executive of British Triathlon, to take the sport forward to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

Salmon will take strategic lead of the National Governing Body in mid-November and will guide the sport through the Olympic and Paralympic cycle. His role will also embrace executive responsibility for Triathlon England and fulfilment of its objectives of building participation, supporting and increasing membership.

The former Welsh Schools Golfer will bring with him a wealth of leadership experience, having held the position of Deputy CEO and Development Director of Scottish Golf for 9 years prior to leaving the organisation in late 2016. Salmon is currently interim CEO of Scottish Snowsport and Chairman of Triathlon Scotland. Having been involved with a number of sports, Salmon’s broad perspective of the challenges and opportunities facing the sector will be invaluable to British Triathlon. 

 Salmon said: “I am hugely excited to be joining the team at British Triathlon and Triathlon England. There is so much to be positive about in triathlon and I look forward to building on the tremendous progress made by Jack Buckner and the team as we strive to deliver the 2024 vision.”

Ian Howard, President of British Triathlon, said: “We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Andy Salmon as the new Chief Executive of British Triathlon. We are confident he will drive the organisation towards continued success over the coming years.

“We thank Jack for his contribution to British Triathlon over the past three years, and wish him well in his new role as Chief Executive of British Swimming”.

Current British Triathlon Chief Executive, Jack Buckner said: “Over the past three years, I have witnessed many great successes within triathlon. Grassroots participation figures have increased enormously and we achieved 7 medals during Rio 2016, including the first ever paratriathlon gold.”

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Andy in his current role at Triathlon Scotland and believe he will continue to build on our success at every level of the sport.”

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Why you should go for a bike ride the day before your race

Training > Bike

Should you go for a bike ride the day before your triathlon? Yes says Nik Cook as it will get your legs ready for racing

Why should you go for a ride the day before a race? Let’s first answer that by explaining why you shouldn’t go for a swim or a run. 

A swim can be okay – it’ll freshen you up but it won’t have the same leg-loosening effect as a ride and, depending on where you swim, you might wind up having to wear a damp wetsuit for your race. A run, no matter how easy, can have a negative impact on your legs. 

A pre-race ride, on the other hand, has no downsides. For a start, you can use your gears to control the intensity of your effort. It’s also zero impact, so you won’t have to worry about any lingering staleness or fatigue in your legs the next day. If you’re already at your race location, you can use the ride to check out parts, or all, of the bike course, which can give you a big advantage in the race. 

Last, and by no means least, a pre-race ride gives you a chance to make sure your bike is working correctly, and time to fix it if it isn’t, allowing you to rule out any T1 mechanical panics.

Quick tip: Apart from a few, short race-pace efforts, stay in the small chainring and focus on easy spinning.

The day-before-race-day ride

Warm-up

Select a low gear and work through the following efforts based on your pedalling cadence. (Note: no RPE is given for the warm-up as it’s all about leg speed. If you start to breathe hard or feel your legs burning, the gear you’ve selected is too high).

0-5mins at 90rpm

5-7mins at 95rpm

7-9mins at 100rpm

9-11mins at 105rpm

11-12.5mins at 110rpm

12.5-13mins at 120-130rpm

13-15mins at 90rpm

15-18mins as 3 x 6sec max-rev efforts Aim to hit 120rpm-plus

54sec recovery

18-20mins at 90rpm

Main set

20-30mins at 90rpm, easy to moderate

30-40mins as 3 x 1min at race pace 1min recovery

40-50mins at 90rpm, easy Include 3 x 6sec max-rev efforts

Cool-down

50-60mins at 80-90rpm, easy, in a very low gear

Adapt for beginners

If you’re worried about this ride leaving you too tired, just do the 20min warm-up followed by the 10min cool-down.

Adapt for Ironman

Just leave it how it is and don’t be tempted to do any more. You’ve done the training; more riding the day before the race isn’t going to make you any fitter. Just trust in your legs.

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Free 6 week Olympic distance training plan

Training > Training plans

Racing an Olympic distance soon but short on training hours? Then follow our six-week plan for the time-crunched athlete

Many of us would love to live the life of a pro athlete. You can picture it now – train, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s actually a lot harder than that, of course, but it still sounds appealing.

For everybody else, we need to fit our training around busy modern lives, which usually includes a home life, work life and a social life, and so often something has to give. When you realise that you’re not paid to train and your family come first, then often you need to sacrifice the amount of training you do. This shouldn’t mean giving up and stopping challenging yourself – there’s always a way to achieve your goals – but you need to be well structured and strict with your training time.

This six-week plan to get time-crunched athletes to the start, and ultimately finish, of an Olympic triathlon is suitable for those who only have 1hr to train each week day and have a little more available time on the weekend. In order to be successful as an athlete limited on time you must be very good at time management, be able to divide
up your day and treat training sessions like appointments that can’t be missed. 

Due to the fact that training can’t last too long during the week, it’s crucial to focus more on the intensity of the sessions, making them more vigorous and challenging. Racing Olympic triathlon requires you to absorb fairly high levels of effort, so the inclusion of interval and tempo sessions during the week will help get you used to that feeling of discomfort, while keeping the weekend for that one longer endurance session helps to keep the balance between covering the distance and doing it to the best of your ability.

This training plan is varied but well balanced between the amount of swim, bike and run necessary. If there was a key session not to miss in the week it would be the multi-brick, which gets you race ready, simulates that feeling of being at your upper limit and running off the bike in order to gauge your best pace.

Always include a warm-up and cool-down to each session. Warm-up = 5-8mins of gradually building intensity from easy to vigorous. Cool-down = 3-5mins of easy cardio followed by stretches

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Dermott’s 4 tips for Olympic distance

1. Structure is key

Time is precious, so make sure you structure the sessions into your day like an appointment. If possible, get up early and get them done before life gets in the way.

2. Fuel on the fly

Practise drinking and taking on energy products on the move. You don’t want to waste time by stopping to refuel. Experiment to find your best form of nutrition.

3. Swim with others

Prepare for the physical nature of the open-water swim by practising with others. Get used to swimming very close to people. Try not to let it unsettle you. Be strong!

4. Don’t forget the brick

Focus on improving how you transition from bike to run. Figure out your best run speed for the first 1km so that you remain consistent. Multi-bricks are really useful for this. 

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How to fit new cleats onto your bike shoes

Gear > Bike > Bike shoes

Nik Cook explains the best way of fitting new cleats onto your bike shoes

Before fitting new cleats to your shoes, use a fine pointed permanent marker to draw round the old ones so that your set-up remains the same. Remove the cleats and give the soles and bolt holes a really good clean. 

Look at the bolts of your new cleats, if they’ve got some blue thread lock on, carry on with installation. If not, get yourself a bottle of Loctite® 242 and apply. It’ll give a bit of added security and extra peace of mind.

Install the cleats, you don’t need to go mad tightening them or you risk stripping the threads. If you’re using a torque wrench, 5-6Nm is about all you need.

Once installed, check your cleat bolts regularly and minimise unnecessary stress and wear. Don’t walk about in them excessively and, if you think you may be forced to, consider popping some cleat covers in your jersey pockets.

Best clipless pedals for triathlon

Triathlon bike shoes: 10 of the best reviewed

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Why aerobically fit people have better memories

News

Exercise helps you develop a firmer, more elastic hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory, scientists have found.

Previous studies have found exercise improves brain function and your memory, and that the more aerobically fit you are the better memory you are more likely to have, but until now have not known why.

To investigate why scientists used magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), a therapy that measures the firmness and elasticity of organs, to measure the firmness and elasticity of the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory, of 51 adults. 

This group consisted of 25 men and 26 women, aged 18-35. They measured the participants’ performance on a memory test as well as their aerobic fitness levels, and used MRE to measure the elasticity of the hippocampus.

They found that those with higher fitness levels also had more elastic tissue in the hippocampus and scored the best on memory tests. Given the many studies showing the association between hippocampal health and memory in seniors and children, which was based on the size of the hippocampus, the results strongly suggest that MRE is a method that reveals that there is also an association between the health of the hippocampus and memory in young adults.

“MRE is a technique that has been used in organs like the liver, where it can assess the tissue stiffness and offers a reliable, non-invasive method for diagnosing hepatic fibrosis,” explains Guoying Liu, Ph.D. Director of the NIBIB program on Magnetic Resonance Imaging. “This study now demonstrates the tremendous potential for MRE to provide new quantitative biomarkers for assessing brain health as it relates to physical fitness. This is particularly significant given the rise in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease occurring in the U.S. and worldwide.”

The work was based on well-established observations of atrophy and reduced size of the hippocampus in cognitively declining seniors and developmentally delayed children. Given that long-known phenomenon, the researchers were puzzled by the fact that in young adults there was a correlation between fitness and memory, but the size of the hippocampus was the same in both groups.

“Most of the work in this area has relied on changes in the size of the hippocampus as a measure of hippocampal health and function. However, in young adults, although we see an increase in memory in more aerobically fit individuals, we did not see differences in hippocampal size,” said lead author Dr. Aron K. Barbey. “Because size is a gross measure of the structural integrity of the hippocampus, we turned to MRE, which provides a more thorough and qualitative measure of changes associated with function — in this case memory.”

The investigators explained that MRE gives a better indication of the microstructure of the hippocampus — the structural integrity of the entire tissue. And it does this by basically “bouncing” the organ, very gently, and measuring how it responds.

The healthy hippocampus is like a firm pillow that quickly bounces back into shape after you press your finger into it as opposed to a mushy pillow that would retain your finger mark and not rebound to its original shape.

 Barbey said, “MRE turned out to be a fantastic tool that enabled us to demonstrate the importance of the hippocampus in healthy young adults and the positive effect of fitness.

“And, of course, if these results are more widely disseminated,” Barbey concludes, “they could certainly serve as tremendous motivation for people concerned about getting forgetful as they age, to get moving and try to stay fit.”

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Multisport watches 5 key functions to look for when buying

Gear > Tri-tech

A multisport watch will take your performance to another level. But what are the key functions and extras to look for?

1. GPS

A built-in GPS (Global Positioning System), instead of an accelerometer that measures movement, will give more accurate real-time tracking information, with many GPS units informing you of the direction and distance back to your starting position.

2. HRM

A heart rate monitor will allow you to establish your own training zones to perform at your own best pace. A chest strap is more accurate than the wrist-based optical heart rate (OHR), but many athletes prefer the comfort and simplicity of OHR. 

Best heart rate zones for running

Best heart rate training zones for cycling

Heart rate training: why early spikes happen

Using heart rate variability to optimise triathlon training

3. Connectivity

Many manufacturers have comprehensive post-session analysis software (e.g. Garmin Connect) via USB or wireless means (Bluetooth, Ant+ or even WiFi). You can also utilise a wealth of third-party apps such as Strava for live tracking and social media sharing.

4. Activation

Multisport watches offer button and/or touch screen usability to scroll through the watch’s main features. Check that the touchscreen doesn’t have a history of losing contact when scrolled with sweaty fingers or in the rain, and that data is displayed as clearly as possible. 

5.Charging

Once you tip over the £100 price point, most models require USB charging via a charger bespoke to that manufacturer, usually clipping onto the side or back of the unit. Battery life can range from 5hrs to 20+ depending on how many features (i.e. GPS) you’re using.

Triathlon training watches: 10 of the best

GPS run watches: 10 of the best tested and rated

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