Turbo training 6 benefts of the turbo

Training > Bike

Don’t pack the turbo away during the summer months says Matt Sanderson, co-founder of Triathlon Coaching UK. Here are his top 6 advantages the turbo trainer offers all year round

While I am a firm believer in getting out on the road and building plenty of miles in the legs, there is certainly a strong case for not packing the turbo away over the summer months and continuing to use it for some key sessions.

Bike training: turbo vs road cycling

Turbo training: how to avoid making 9 common mistakes

1. Time efficiency

Preparing to ride on the road, especially if it’s cold, can take as long as the ride itself. If you are juggling work, family and energy you might find the turbo is the most time efficient option to take. With a well planned session at hand you will have got through the warm up and be into the main set by the time you had opened the front door if venturing outside.

2. Quality over quantity

If you live in a major city and have to battle the traffic and traffic lights to get anywhere decent to ride then you might well be better off staying at home and having the guaranteed intensity the turbo can provide you with. Rather than tackle the traffic you can hit the numbers your race fitness depends on and spend less time doing so.

3. Getting aero

Setting up your race bike on the turbo is a great way of getting your body used to the different position you will adopt during a race. If you are planning on using clip-on aero bars or you have a TT bike, you need to be spending time on this bike and in this position every week during the race season.  For those planning to race on flat courses but live in hilly areas of the country the turbo is really useful for holding the aero posture for a sustained period of time.

4. Interval training – am I better on the road or turbo?

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with lovely, quiet and straight roads then you might fancy tackling some high intensity intervals while on the road. However, if you haven’t then my advice is to use the turbo for these sessions. While you will need a good quality turbo to provide you with the appropriate gears to hit the intensity required, the turbo does allow you to ‘zone in’ on effort and technique rather than reducing your effort levels to focus on balance, traffic, corners and descents.

5. Box set catch-up time?

If you are struggling to motivate yourself to get on the bike then by all means tune in to Breaking Bad and lose yourself in your workout – but beware! I would leave these sessions for those winter workouts where some low intensity sessions and building that diesel engine are your priorities. At this time of year, you need high quality sessions often at intensities above race pace to lift your threshold.

6. Turbo top-up?

In our changeable climate the turbo can be a real asset. Rather than being put off by a dodgy weather forecast (which are wrong as often as they are right!) get yourself outside and if the weather does get too bad to ride then turn back and jump straight on the turbo and complete the duration you were originally planning. There are no excuses for the organised triathlete!

The best turbo trainers reviewed

Turbo Training for Triathletes

Five turbo training sessions

 Matt Sanderson is a BTF Level 3 coach and has qualified for the IM 70.3 World Championships three times. Find out more about him at www.triathloncoaching.uk.com

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Up close with Joe Skippers bike the Guerciotti Eclipse

Gear > Bike

He’s the fastest Brit Ironman of all time. So what go-faster mods does his new Italian ride have?

I spoke to Italian bike brand Guerciotti’s UK distributor, Tri4life’s Tom Powell, at the end of 2016 and was impressed by his passion for the brand. Straight away, I liked the ride and could sense it was a quick bike.  

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

Up close with Sebastian Kienle’s tri bike, the Scott Plasma 5

 For me, a key thing of the Eclipse TT is that it has a normal cockpit so it’s very easy to take apart when I’m travelling to races. I can also get a lot of adjustability from the TT bars for refining my position. I’m going to put a new stem on the bike, which is at an angle so I can get a little bit lower, as I think this’ll give me a pretty optimal aerodynamic position for Ironman. 

I wouldn’t say that I’ve found the perfect set-up – that’s a work in progress. What I’ll do is look at power on my Rotor power meter and see if tinkering with my position has a positive or negative effect.

There’s a flat bit of road near me that’s 3km long and nearly traffic-free. I seem to get reliable results by riding up and down at a given power output and comparing my times with different positions and equipment. It takes times to do it but it’s worth it long term.

1. I ride Alto Velo wheels for racing and training. For racing, I’ll use the disc wheel and the 86mm front; and for training I’ll use the 40mm wheelset. 

2. I use a Rotor power meter. A key benefit is to stop me going off too fast on race day. 

3. At the moment I’m using Xlab for storage. Although I’m hoping to get some integrated options for the TT bike in the future, which’ll make it even more aero and sleek. 

4. The frame is the standard Eclipse TT. Guerciotti can do custom paint jobs on all their frames. Mine just has my name on it!

5. The groupset is Shimano Dura Ace with Q-Ring cranks but I’d like to give Sram Etap a go as I think it’ll be a cleaner set-up on the TT bike. 

Joe Skipper clocked the fastest British Iron-distance time (7:56:23) in history at Challenge Roth in July 2016.

Joe Skipper’s top 10 tips for Ironman success

Joe Skipper’s mandatory two-wheel and brick sets for Ironman bike & run

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Ironman training 14 tips for getting fitter faster and stronger

The key swim sessions, cardio workouts and core strength exercises in the Barclay armoury

1. Utilise speed surges

Our key swim strength set is a weekly 3.8km with speed surges. This 60-90min session replicates what happens during an Ironman. It works best with two people of a similar swimming ability.
Warm-up 400m building intensity.
Main set 500m Swimmer 1 (S1) leads with Swimmer 2 (S2) drafting on their toes then S2 surges to take the lead for 500m. Repeat this pattern for 400m, twice for 300m, once for 200m, and twice for 100m. 
Cool-down 3 x 100m easy.

2. Mix cardio with intensity

Aim for a mix of intensity and steady swimming in your swim sets. We aim to swim 4-5 times per week. Depending on the phase of training, between three and four of these sessions will involve quite a bit of intensity. Then the other one or two sessions will be strictly cardio with some technique and drills. A swim background will provide you with the cardiovascular fitness to succeed in triathlon. But, more than anything, swimming will give you mental strength.

3. Core strength is key

Core strength and shoulder stability are essential to swimming, so this should be a big part of your strength training. Other exercises such as weighted chin-ups, lat pull-downs and bent-over rows are important for building the power of each arm pull through the water. We usually perform chin-ups to failure and repeat x3. This is around 10-15 reps depending on the additional weight added. To get the benefit of lat pull-downs and bent-over rows, we complete 3 rounds of 10-15 reps.

Make bike strength your goal

A big bike strength set will build endurance for Ironman racing. But don’t forget to refuel and build your core, says Lucy

4. Build base endurance

Perform a long bike set with a mix of intensities to build base endurance for Ironman and 70.3 racing, and sharpen up your body in the build-up. My key bike strength set is 2:30hrs. I perform it weekly, but not on race week, and use a turbo.

Warm-up 15mins building intensity.
Main set 5 x [20mins at between Ironman and 70.3 power/intensity (depending on the phase of training you’re in), followed by 5mins recovery easy spinning]. 
Cool-down 10mins easy spinning.

5. Refuelling focus

Ensure you keep your body fuelled during a long ride. I use gels and bars and, once home, I’ll have a protein shake with frozen berries, milk and peanut butter while preparing my favourite post-training meal of gluten-free toast, two poached eggs, half an avocado and grated cheese. I spend a good 15-20mins foam rolling after a long bike session and then rest and recover in my recovery gear from Compressport.

6. Make S&C bike specific

As well as the basic core exercises such as the plank and sit-ups, free weight leg exercises will build strength for the bike. These challenge the core muscles while working the legs, so it’s more specific to cycling. These exercises include: squats, lunges, deadlifts and single-leg squats using the TRX suspension resistance bands. Also look to do pre-emptive ‘Prehab’ work to prevent you from getting injuries, improve posture and to sort out any muscle

Strength training for cycling: 6 key exercises

Follow your S&C with informed recovery 

Don’t forget the strength and conditioning when training for tri, says Lucy imbalances.

7. Aim for sustained strength

Our 2-3 S&C weekly sessions are key for sustained Ironman strength.

Warm-up 5mins of rowing, 3 x 10 kettle bell goblet squats.
Set 1 3 x 15 squats with barbell weight, 45secs rest.
Set 2 3 x 10 (each leg) lunges with barbell weight, 45secs rest.
Set 3 3 x 15 leg press (75kg), 3 x 15 calf raises (75kg), 45secs rest.
Set 4 3 x 15 leg extensions (30kg), 3 x 15 hamstring curl (20kg), 45secs rest.
Set 5 3 x [10 ab wheel roll out, 60secs plank, 45secs flutter kicks].
Cool-down 5mins easy spinning.

8. Supplement your diet

I use a wide range of supplements to complement my diet. These include calcium, iron, glucosamine and CurraNZ (a blackcurrant extract from New Zealand) that promotes blood circulation, oxygen delivery and fat burning. All my supplements are from the batch-tested range at Informed-Sport. Post-session, I use Vanilla Whey protein powder from MyProtein.com. I normally have two protein shakes per day after sessions, both with a 25g scoop of protein powder.

9. Don’t forget to R&R

Rest and recovery is just as important as performing the hard training and gym-based sessions; it’s the glue that holds everything together. I foam roll and stretch at least once a day, especially after a hard bike or run session. I also use compression gear to keep the blood flowing around the body after training. In addition to this, we’re lucky to have a set of Normatec boots, the pulsing compression device that seems to work wonders on our tired legs.

Hills, trails and drills are key for an iron core 

Variety in your strength training will pay dividends on the run come Ironman race day, says Reece. Here’s why…

10. Hit the hills

Hill reps are key for building strength and endurance. We perform this 60min run set weekly but it’s reduced in volume on race week and used as a sharpening set.

Warm-up 2-3km of steady running.
Main set 1 5 x 2mins uphill road reps working hard. Recovery is the easy jog back down the hill to your start point. Then do a steady jog of 2-3km steady running to break up the session.
Main set 2 5 x 2mins uphill road reps working hard. Recovery is the easy jog back down the hill to your start point. 
Cool-down 1-2 km easy jogging back home.

11. Combine reps and off-road

We’re lucky to have some great trails near us in Epping Forest. We combine our weekly hill reps with off-road running to build strength and make us more resilient.

12. Seek a strong core

Having a strong core will help you maintain good run posture, especially when you’re fatigued on the Ironman marathon run leg. Aim to perform drills such as high knees, lunge rotations and bounding before your run sessions.

13. Don’t suffer alone

It’s easier to hurt your way through a tough set when you know you’re not suffering alone. We’ve had to learn to not always push each other and back off the intensity when the sessions are meant to be easy. Which is easier said then done given our competitive natures!

14 Key Iron fuelling

The essential food and drink supplies in the Reece Barclay and Lucy Charles shopping basket.

Tomato soup: each bowl of tomato soup contains vitamins E, A, C, K, essential minerals and antioxidants. It tastes great, too.
Nuts & berries: snacking on nuts and berries in between meals helps us from turning to the treat cupboard, which isn’t always easy!
Avocado: these provide us with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and a good dose of natural vitamins and mineral
Protein powder: quick and easy whey protein powder after workouts kickstarts our recovery so that we’re prepared for our next session(s)
Chicken: chicken salads for lunch or chicken curry for dinner. Both are quick and easy to prepare and offer a protein boost.
Coffee: we drink coffee because of its stimulant properties and taste. After 12pm we switch to decaffeinated.
Eggs: poached eggs with avocado is a great breakfast. They’re a source of protein and vitamins, and  keep you feeling full.
Carbs: we recently switched to gluten-free foods, such as bread and pasta, and instantly felt less bloated and lethargic.

About the impressive duo 

Lucy Charles
As an age-grouper, Lucy was the fastest female swimmer at the Ironman Worlds in 2015. She recently finished second at Challenge Gran Canaria as a pro.
Reece Barclay
220 Age-Grouper of the Year Reece made the Kona age-group podium in 2015, clocked a Kona PB last year (9:33:29) and finished top age-grouper at Challenge Gran Canaria.

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How can mindfulness help my triathlon performance

Training

It seems mindfulness is the latest thing for learning to deal with today’s stresses and anxieties, but can it really help your triathlon performance? Tri coach Amanda McCracken takes up the question…

 To train the body and neglect the mind is a commonplace failure for many athletes. Mindfulness, in whatever form that entails, is essential to tame our brain’s negative self-talk, focus on success, and calm the nervous system. 

Olympian and author of Champion Mindset: Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness, Joanna Zeiger, believes mindfulness in the form of visualisation is an important part of an athlete’s training.

“Personally, I’ve had trouble with the typical forms of meditation. However, I do set aside quiet time for visualisation. I like to picture a multitude of scenarios – perfect races where everything gels and imperfect races where I have to figure out a way to get through it. Visualisation is an opportunity to ‘practise’ situations before they actually happen.”

Deciding on a specific mantra of three words with positive associations (which don’t have opposite meanings like ‘fast/slow’) to recite in my head has been key for my training and races. It’s like giving your mind something healthy to chew on instead of letting it binge on the first negative or fearful thoughts that arise.
A few of my favourites are, ‘swift’, ‘glide’ and ‘stream’.

Amanda McCracken

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New book captures the epic Tour de France battle of 1989

News

‘Three Weeks, Eight Seconds’ from Nige Tassell recounts the legendary battle between LeMond and Fignon

The 1989 Tour de France is arguably the greatest Tour de France ever. It saw American rider Greg LeMond overturn a 50-second deficit to France’s Laurent Fignon on the final stage on the Champs Élysées to snatch the title by a mere eight seconds.

After three weeks and more than 2,000 miles in the saddle, these few seconds remain the smallest margin of victory in the race’s 100+ year history.

But, as dramatic as that Sunday afternoon on the streets of Paris was, the race wasn’t just about that one time-trial. During the previous fortnight, the leader’s yellow jersey had swapped back and forth between LeMond and Fignon in a titanic struggle for supremacy, a battle with more twists and turns than the maziest Alpine mountain pass. At no point during the entire three weeks were LeMond and Fignon separated by more than 53 seconds. 

In Three Weeks, Eight Seconds, 220 Triathlon contributor Nige Tassell brings one of cycling’s most astonishing stories to life, examining that extraordinary race in all its multi-faceted glory with fresh interviews and new perspectives and laying bare that towering heights of adrenaline, agony, excitement, torment and triumph that it produced. 

Three Weeks, Eight Seconds is out now from Polaris Publishing, priced £14.99.

NIGE TASSELL writes about sport and music, and his work has appeared in the pages of 220 Triathlon, the Guardian, Sunday Times, EsquireFourFourTwoQ and The Word. He’s also the author of The Bottom Corner: A Season With The Dreamers Of Non-League Football.

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How to choose the right triathlon bike saddle

Gear > Bike > Saddles

A tri-specific saddle is a key, if often neglected, triathlon buy. Here are the major components to look for when picking the right perch for you…

PAD

Ultra-lean saddles look extreme but should provide more comfort than bigger ones due to supporting you in the areas you need it. The broadest section should support the rider’s sit bones, but it’s worth noting that men’s sit bones are closer together than women’s.

CUT-OUT

The cut-out or drainage channel will naturally aid ventilation and drying of your shorts. It’ll also take the pressure off your perineum. The channel can be a reduction in the pad’s thickness or something as extreme as a hole, as seen in ISM’s designs.

NOSE

Triathletes, especially long-distance ones, will spend extended periods of time on the aerobars. So a tri-friendly saddle should have a narrow, flat profile due to the rider being in this aggressive forward position, with their weight placed towards the nose.

RAILS

The saddle railings tend to be made of steel, aluminium, titanium or carbon, with the latter two being more compliant and comfortable, while shaving weight yet adding pounds (Sterling) to the price. You can clip lights, saddle bags or hydration systems to them.

HYDRATION

There are plenty of hydration systems that can mount on the rails of the saddle, but tri-specific saddles can also have integrated bottle mounts on the rear with bosses to secure your own bike bottle cage (the Fabric here also doubles as a transition hook).

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7 embarrassing problems and how to treat them

1. Leaking wee

 Why has this happened?

“This can occur at any time in training or a race and it’s caused by stress incontinence,” Ashleigh Ahlquist, a Fitness Quality Lead at Nuffield Health, explains. “Simply, it’s urine leaking out when your bladder is under pressure. When you’re running or on the bike, your core will be working overtime and pushing on your bladder.”

How can I fix it?

Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Try and include sets of squeezes within your training plan. In order for them to work, you’ll need to do these exercises consistently.

If you are within the higher BMI categories, aim to reduce to a healthy weight using diet and exercise. This can reduce pressure on your bladder.

Wear an incontinence pad for comfort and peace of mind.

2. Infected toenails/athlete’s foot

 Why has this happened?

“Athlete’s foot is caused by a group of mould-like fungi that grow best in warm, moist areas, such as between the toes,” says Dr John Rogers, Performance Chief Medical Officer to British Triathlon. “Trainers that are not completely dry provide the breeding ground for this fungus and one of the most common reasons for triathletes getting athlete’s foot is exercising in damp footwear.”

 Ashleigh adds: “Athlete’s foot can then lead to infected toenails, but so can curving your nails when you cut them.”

How can I fix it?

Look after your feet – they’re pieces of kit you can’t simply replace! Clip your nails straight across, wash and dry your feet, moisturise, and apply powder

Take your shoes and socks off when you have finished running and wash your socks. Don’t be tempted to wear them for another session

Air out your shoes and if they get wet make sure they dry fully

If you do get athlete’s foot then make sure you treat it sooner rather than later. Check in with your pharmacist for the best solution.

6 common foot problems triathletes face and how to treat them

3. A runny nose 

Why has this happened?

“One of the reasons your nose starts running whenever you go for a run could be because you are suffering with rhinitis,” John explains. “This condition is often triggered by allergies but it can also be triggered by exercise. It’s not clear what triggers it but it is thought to be caused by a reaction the pollutants in the air and is not a cause for concern. “

How can I fix it?

Consult your GP for advice on treatment options including nasal corticosteroid spray

During training or a race, use one finger to close one side of your nose, look to the other side and forcefully blow out of the open nostril

Be prepared – carry a tissue, or find gloves that have a soft section on the thumb specifically designed for ‘mopping up’.

4. Saddle sore

Why has this happened?

“Saddle sore is a skin irritation caused by your body coming in to contact with the saddle of a bike and causing chafing and sweating amongst other factors,” says John. “Although saddle sore affects both novice and expert cyclists, people often experience it after a long break from cycling or after getting a new saddle.”

“You might experience something like nappy rash, odd tingling, or in severe cases blisters and open sores,” Ashleigh adds.

How can I fix it?

Invest in the right saddle and spend time achieving the correct bike position and fit. Most bike shops will have a special cushion that measures the distance between your sitting bones – rely on their expertise and ask if they have test saddles you can trial for a few days before purchasing.

Choose a saddle that works for you; don’t assume that bigger and more padding is better – the shape is the most important issue. Look for a saddle with few or no seams as it will reduce the chance of friction.

Find a brand of chamois cream that works for you and use it liberally. It’s designed to reduce friction and it will protect your most delicate parts from that ‘numb’ feeling.

5. Rashes and chafing

Why has this happened?

“Rashes and chafing is the result of friction that occurs when skin rubs against itself or clothing,” John explains. “Triathletes are at risk from chafing as they are carrying out a repeated movement over an extended length of time.”

“We’ve all been there!” Ashleigh laughs. “Sore, raw, chapped and blistered skin in places you never knew you had. It’s often worse in warmer weather as the salt in your sweat acts as an abrasive, turning your clothes into sandpaper.”

How can I fix it?

Apply plenty of lubricant before swimming in your wetsuit, in particular around your neck, wrists, ankles and armpits

When you transition into the run, pick up a tube of lube with your visor – even a simple chapstick can be a blessing when you’re on the road and you feel a ‘hot spot’ starting

Ensure that your sportswear fits well, is seamless and doesn’t hold water

Use lots and lots of chamois cream on exposed limbs that you find are prone to chafing. 

6. Sweating and odour

Why has this happened?

“Sweating is the body’s way of regulating its temperature; it occurs when your sweat glands produce perspiration that’s carried to the skin’s surface,” John says. “Most of us sweat when we exercise and, as our body temperature rises, the eccrine sweat glands kick into gear to keep our body temperature stable. Your sweat is actually odourless; it’s the bacteria on your skin breaking sweat down into acid that causes the unpleasant odour.

“Scientists have found that people who are deficient in magnesium, a vital nutrient found in leafy greens and nuts, often have a stronger body odour,” he adds. ‘Equally, foods high in protein which require active metabolic breakdown by the body may also increase your body odour.”

How can I fix it?

Sweating is not a cause for concern; the key thing to remember when doing an endurance sport is ensuring that you remain hydrated

Wash thoroughly and reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin to reduce body odour

Experiment with changing your diet.

7. Runner’s trots

Why has this happened?

“Running reduces blood flow to the intestines and stimulates changes in intestinal hormones that accelerates the need to go to the bathroom,” says John. “If you already have a pre-existing bowel problem then you may be even more likely to be impacted and dehydration can also exacerbate the situation.”

How can I fix it?

Make sure you go to the toilet before you put your wetsuit on, and give yourself enough time before the race to ‘go’.

Ensure that your incorporate food into your training and race plans. Many people eat the same thing before every race, so they know exactly how their body will react to it.

Avoid foods such as tomatoes and caffeine which trigger acid reflux and reducing your fibre intake may help, as will avoiding any food that usually irritates your gut.

Dealing with the dreaded ‘runner’s trots’

How to ease gastrointestinal distress when racing

Prevention is better than a cure

Keep any embarrassing problems in check with this handy checklist…

Incorporate pelvic floor exercises into your training regime.

Cut your toenails straight across and not curved.

Choose the best saddle for your bike for you.

Make sure you wear appropriate clothing to avoid chafing and rashes.

Stay hydrated, but sip your drink rather than gulp it.

Avoid eating foods that are fatty or high in fibre the night before a competition.

Practice and train simulating the race conditions as closely as possible

See your pharmacist or GP if any of the above problems persist

Ashleigh Ahlquist

Ashleigh Ahlquist, 30, is a Fitness Quality Lead at Nuffield Health.  She is a qualified swimming teacher and competitive triathlete, who coaches triathlon and supports para triathletes during the transition phase of races. In addition to her work with Nuffield Health she is working with British Triathlon to support athletes in preparation for Tokyo 2020.

Dr John Rogers

 Dr John Rogers is a consultant in sport and exercise medicine and Performance Chief Medical Officer to British Triathlon. He is also is a former middle distance runner.

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IMUK 703 Exmoor 5 tips for nailing this tough middle distance triathlon

Training

Racing IMUK 70.3 Exmoor? We have some tips from Matt Sanderson, co-founder of Triathlon Coaching UK, who will be racing it for a 12th time this year. Take it away Matt…

A race 220 rated as the 8th toughest middle-distance triathlon race in the world, IM70.3 UK, Exmoor will take place for the final time in its 12-year history on Sunday 25th June at Wimbleball Lake, close the picturesque town of Dulverton in West Somerset.

 The very first IMUK 70.3 Exmoor race was staged back in 2006 and that particular race was the very first triathlon that Matt Sanderson, co-founder of Triathlon Coaching UK, took part in. Sleeping through his alarm clock that morning and arriving in transition just 20 minutes before the swim start, Matt had very little time to think about what lay ahead. Five hours later he was well aware of the 54 hills in 56 miles on the bike course and the seemingly endless hill climb to the farm on the run. After the race he didn’t go near his bike for a whole three months!

But Wimbleball, as it is now fondly known, gave Matt the triathlon bug and he has since completed the race every year since and will return this year for a 12th and final time. He is one of only two people who have completed the race every year since its launch so he’s ideally placed to offer his top 5 tips for getting through the hardest half Ironman on the planet.

1)    The water at Wimbleball Lake is incredibly clear – it’s one of my favourite places to swim – but has, in past years, been a little on the chilly side to say the least. If you’re not great with cold water, make sure you wear two swim caps or invest in a neoprene skullcap, it’ll make all the difference and you’ll be able to focus on your swimming rather than associated brain-freeze! 

2)    Last year, race organisers changed the swim start to a self-seeded start meaning that you’ll line up with other swimmers who are of a similar pace to you. Complete a couple of race-pace 1900m open water swims in your training, record your time and make sure you’re ready in that particular time zone for the swim. Try and find someone’s feet as soon as you can and, if they’re going at your pace (and in the right direction!), stick with them to conserve valuable energy.

3)    Into T1 and it’s time for a real test of stamina and endurance to begin. However make sure you have checked what the weather is doing. I’ve ridden in wind, rain, snow, sleet, sun and cloud at Wimbleball and wearing the appropriate kit for the conditions is vital on the bike leg – otherwise you could be facing a very miserable and uncomfortable few hours on two wheels.

4)    My advice for the bike course is to save some energy for the second lap. Coming out of transition you are faced with your first climb – it will take around 15-20 minutes for most, and with fresh legs it’s easy to go out too hard. Don’t! Instead, use your gears and keep control of your heart rate. Try to ride at a controlled intensity on the flatter sections of the bike and ease off just before the climbs, which come on the second half of the lap. Make sure you take on your choice of food on the flatter sections (there aren’t many so don’t miss them!) and drink or have a gel on the climbs.

I would say: “spin up the hills” but at Wimbleball that simply isn’t an option. With three climbs reaching 20% gradient on each you have to work hard just to keep moving forward, as well as skilfully dodging fellow triathletes who may be zig-zagging or walking up. And another note of caution: there is a phenomenally fast descent at Bury Hill around 25km in. Underestimate this part of the course at your peril. The sharp left at the bottom has been the downfall of many participants over the years – the hay bales will only scrub off so much speed if you hit them!

5)    You’ve survived the bike, you’re now in T2 and just 13.1 miles stand between you and the famous red carpet. The run is always tough at Wimbleball. The three laps, with very little flat, take in a mixture of surfaces, from grass, molehills, gravel and tarmac to concrete, rough stony roads and muddy paths; pretty much everything that can bring on cramp and pain.

Focus on keeping good technique throughout and pace yourself appropriately using your chosen brand of sports watch. There is a lot of support on the run course but this is a psychologically and physically challenging course. Concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and try to make the most of the stunning surroundings. When you cross the finish line, the pain will all be worth it and the bragging rights of completing the world’s toughest 70.3 will be all yours.

So, to sum up: Enjoy the unique challenge that this race presents and forget all about PBs. Take in the amazing scenery wherever you look, the beautiful water, embrace the hills on the bike course and whatever happens – do not walk up that bas*a#d hill on the run.

 Matt Sanderson is a BTF Level 3 coach and has qualified for the IM 70.3 World Championships three times. Find out more about him at www.triathloncoaching.uk.com

More pearls of wisdom by Matt

How to improve your open-water swimming in triathlons

Periodised strength training programme for triathletes

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IMUK 703 Exmoor 5 tips for nailing the tough middle distance triathlon

Training

Racing IMUK 70.3 Exmoor? We have some tips from Matt Sanderson, co-founder of Triathlon Coaching UK, who will be racing it for a 12th time this year. Take it away Matt…

A race 220 rated as the 8th toughest middle-distance triathlon race in the world, IM70.3 UK, Exmoor will take place for the final time in its 12-year history on Sunday 25th June at Wimbleball Lake, close the picturesque town of Dulverton in West Somerset.

 The very first IMUK 70.3 Exmoor race was staged back in 2006 and that particular race was the very first triathlon that Matt Sanderson, co-founder of Triathlon Coaching UK, took part in. Sleeping through his alarm clock that morning and arriving in transition just 20 minutes before the swim start, Matt had very little time to think about what lay ahead. Five hours later he was well aware of the 54 hills in 56 miles on the bike course and the seemingly endless hill climb to the farm on the run. After the race he didn’t go near his bike for a whole three months!

But Wimbleball, as it is now fondly known, gave Matt the triathlon bug and he has since completed the race every year since and will return this year for a 12th and final time. He is one of only two people who have completed the race every year since its launch so he’s ideally placed to offer his top 5 tips for getting through the hardest half Ironman on the planet.

1)    The water at Wimbleball Lake is incredibly clear – it’s one of my favourite places to swim – but has, in past years, been a little on the chilly side to say the least. If you’re not great with cold water, make sure you wear two swim caps or invest in a neoprene skullcap, it’ll make all the difference and you’ll be able to focus on your swimming rather than associated brain-freeze! 

2)    Last year, race organisers changed the swim start to a self-seeded start meaning that you’ll line up with other swimmers who are of a similar pace to you. Complete a couple of race-pace 1900m open water swims in your training, record your time and make sure you’re ready in that particular time zone for the swim. Try and find someone’s feet as soon as you can and, if they’re going at your pace (and in the right direction!), stick with them to conserve valuable energy.

3)    Into T1 and it’s time for a real test of stamina and endurance to begin. However make sure you have checked what the weather is doing. I’ve ridden in wind, rain, snow, sleet, sun and cloud at Wimbleball and wearing the appropriate kit for the conditions is vital on the bike leg – otherwise you could be facing a very miserable and uncomfortable few hours on two wheels.

4)    My advice for the bike course is to save some energy for the second lap. Coming out of transition you are faced with your first climb – it will take around 15-20 minutes for most, and with fresh legs it’s easy to go out too hard. Don’t! Instead, use your gears and keep control of your heart rate. Try to ride at a controlled intensity on the flatter sections of the bike and ease off just before the climbs, which come on the second half of the lap. Make sure you take on your choice of food on the flatter sections (there aren’t many so don’t miss them!) and drink or have a gel on the climbs.

I would say: “spin up the hills” but at Wimbleball that simply isn’t an option. With three climbs reaching 20% gradient on each you have to work hard just to keep moving forward, as well as skilfully dodging fellow triathletes who may be zig-zagging or walking up. And another note of caution: there is a phenomenally fast descent at Bury Hill around 25km in. Underestimate this part of the course at your peril. The sharp left at the bottom has been the downfall of many participants over the years – the hay bales will only scrub off so much speed if you hit them!

5)    You’ve survived the bike, you’re now in T2 and just 13.1 miles stand between you and the famous red carpet. The run is always tough at Wimbleball. The three laps, with very little flat, take in a mixture of surfaces, from grass, molehills, gravel and tarmac to concrete, rough stony roads and muddy paths; pretty much everything that can bring on cramp and pain.

Focus on keeping good technique throughout and pace yourself appropriately using your chosen brand of sports watch. There is a lot of support on the run course but this is a psychologically and physically challenging course. Concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and try to make the most of the stunning surroundings. When you cross the finish line, the pain will all be worth it and the bragging rights of completing the world’s toughest 70.3 will be all yours.

So, to sum up: Enjoy the unique challenge that this race presents and forget all about PBs. Take in the amazing scenery wherever you look, the beautiful water, embrace the hills on the bike course and whatever happens – do not walk up that bas*a#d hill on the run.

 Matt Sanderson is a BTF Level 3 coach and has qualified for the IM 70.3 World Championships three times. Find out more about him at www.triathloncoaching.uk.com

More pearls of wisdom by Matt

How to improve your open-water swimming in triathlons

Periodised strength training programme for triathletes

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Womens trisuits 6 of the best reviewed

There are no two ways about it: get the fit of your tri-suit wrong and you’re going to be in for a pretty uncomfortable race experience. 

Find the right one though and it should feel like a second skin – with legs that stay in place, straps that allow you to swim without restriction and a chamois that keeps things comfortable on the bike leg. If possible I’d recommend trying the suit on before you buy – sizes between brands can differ and if you’re between sizes, try both. 

Next, think about features: if you have a larger bust an integral bra could be a real benefit. Pockets to house energy gels are useful for longer distances and more breathable, water-wicking fabrics make a huge difference to comfort.

ZOOT ULTRA TRI AERO SKINSUIT 

£125

This suit also appeared in our men’s tri-suit grouptest, where some sizing issues with oversized, baggy arms and legs saw it lose marks. Not the case here, where the  wide, comfy rubberised bands on both biceps and thighs kept them perfectly in place. The fabric was good quality and included breathable mesh on the arms and back with just enough stretch, although the upper body was a little big around the torso in our size medium. Three pockets on the back in varying sizes were great for race essentials. We would have liked to see a zip garage, but as we didn’t experience any chafing we’ll forgive Zoot for this. In fact, our only real quibble was with the chammy, which was fine when dry, but felt a bit big and soggy when running with it wet.

Verdict: Quality suit with great details – although sizing a little big and chammy could be smaller 85%

£169.99

Designed in collaboration with Tana Ramsay (wife of the shouty chef), you’ll need deep pockets for this suit. That said though, it feels very high quality and more like the kind of thing you’d find on the rails in Sweaty Betty than your average tri shop. The fabric is soft and feels great against the skin, while ventilation is courtesy of clever punched holes under the arms and in the lower and mid back. Two rear pockets in the lower back are plenty big enough, although you’ll need to be flexible to reach them. This was the only suit on test with an integral bra and although the suit itself
was a perfect fit, the stitched-in bra was too big for our cup size and we’d prefer to have had the option to add our own. Also, although the compressive leg grippers were comfy, they created a bit of an unflattering indent on our non-supermodel thighs.

huubdesign.com

Verdict: A top-end suit with some stylish, quality details – if you’ve got the right body shape for it! 88%

£130 

American women’s brand Coeur are fast gaining some fans in the UK, thanks to their unique one-piece chammy, that is best described as a piece of soft fleece that extends across the crotch and down the inside of the thighs, thus removing any uncomfortable seams or ridges. We found this worked well and, as you’d guess, it was easily the least noticeable on the run.

The fabric was very breathable and the suit had wide, rubberised bands similar to the Orca and Zoot suits that kept the legs in place. Beyond that though, it was tricky to judge the suit as the fit of the top half was just way too big for us although the legs were fine and Coeur recommend a tight fit to get the best from this suit (we tested mediums from all brands and checked size guides). We’d also have liked a zip guard as the scratchy zip top rubbed uncomfortably.

Verdict: Top marks for a zingy print and pioneering chammy,but baggy up top and zip rubbed 81%

Continue reading our guide to the best women’s tri-suits (2/2)

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