Goal Setting and planning

We are all setting goals for ourselves, sporting or otherwise and whether it is to complete a 5 or 10km race or to go under 8 hours for an Ironman.  You are much more likely to reach your goal if you plan how you are going to achieve it and execute that plan

Like New Year resolutions its all too easy to lose your way if all you decide is that that you are “going to do something”. Goals are best divided into Short, Medium and Long Term goals. each of which ideally improves the chances of reaching the others. Adding accountability of achieving those goals increases the chances of success

An example of a short term goal would be to “complete a specific training session or block of sessions as prescribed or planned”.

A Medium goal might include a race as a stepping stone – “to complete a 5km in 35 minutes before 1st June”

Your long term goal might be your target event or even longer ” to qualify for Kona by 2020″

Anyone who has come within 100m of a management consultant or who has run a business is likely to have come across a “SMART” goal and it’s variants – which are many!!

If you are not familiar Goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable,  Relevant, Timed.

It also helps to think in terms of “What, How, and When.”

As an example I am aiming to complete IM 70.3 Weymouth within 5:30 or less (5:00 would be brilliant but I have to question myself as to whether this is “Attainable” this year) so we have:

Specific: IM 70.3 Weymouth

Measurable: 5:30 target

Attainable: This represents going about 20 minutes faster than last year and would put me higher up the Age group rankings but not the winner in my AG so its within possibilities with consistent training. 4:30 is sadly beyond my capabilities!

Relevant: This is more applicable to interim short and medium term goals, so diving to 10 metres would not help the main goal while competing in an Olympic distance Tri would.

Timed: I have to prepare to do this by 23rd September 2018.

How do we do this? This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but hopefully contains some good ideas.

PLAN! You will need a training plan, from a coach, from the Internet, from a book etc. Most importantly in my view work training times into your life, not the other way round and select a plan you can achieve. Coaches will do this for you, be careful with generic plans as continually failing to complete sessions is demotivating and could damage your chances of success. We have recently helped a young lady who was trying and consistently failing to keep to an unsuitable training plan sent out by a race organiser. Rather than her stressing about getting further behind we got her to look at where she is now and redrew the plan in a more achievable way.

Put training into the diary to set time aside for it, liaise with other family members or employers where possible to keep to your allotted times. If there is a set time you are much more likely to complete the session.

Be flexible as your goals may well have to shift during a season to adapt to changes in your availability, injury, illness, or other factors outside your control. There is nothing to be gained by stressing about something you can’t change so adapt, reset and go forwards again!

Make your goals public and the specifics of them too. Tell your friends, family, social media. “I’m going to complete an Ironman” is easily lost and forgotten and has an unsaid “sometime”. “I’m going to do Ironman Bolton on 18th July” is not. Accountability is a wonderful motivator.

Be realistic, completing an Ironman as your first ever triathlon is possible but not the best way to go about it, you will need to set aside large chunks of time and if you don’t have it or a solid endurance base already then you may be dooming yourself to failure.

Know HOW you are going to go about it and what you need to do. Does your chosen event have cut off times?That should be your first focus. So swimming must be better than 3:30 per 100m for a Half Iron Distance race – suddenly you have a medium term target! You will need to cycle at least better than 13mph on average over 56 miles, if you can’t do that yet then there is a focus to work on. you need to be fit enough to complete a half marathon in the time left after everything else.

A more experienced athlete can look at specifics. Where can improvements be reasonably made and what are your “limiters”?

Build enough rest and recovery into your training blocks, you need to allow yourself to adapt to the training, and to be able to complete later training sessions competently.

Train with others where possible, especially those slightly faster than you. again accountability and peer pressure can help you stick to the plan. Choose carefully however as not keeping up with others can also be demotivating.

Be “present’ and focussed on training not your iPod, work problems or what you’re having for dinner. have a goal or purpose for each session and try not to waste time and energy on “junk miles” just because you think you should be doing more, but, don’t stress about the odd missed or curtailed training session as they don’t matter in the long term, however it is important that sessions are completed where possible.

it is likely that you will suffer illness and injury along the way, don’t try to train through it as the chances are that you will have to take more time off as a result.

I recently heard this analogy from the great Malcolm Brown who worked with the Brownlees amongst others.

“Training is like building a brick wall, you need to focus on placing each brick while not losing sight of the end goal of building the wall in the shape you desire. It doesn’t matter if the odd brick is missing or misplaced but too many missing and the wall will fall down”

David Lester

1st February 2018

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Festive Training

As we come to the climax of the Festive season you may be wondering how you are going to manage to fit in training as well as all the events and family time involved.

The answer is: Unless you have an A race in early January then DON’T PANIC!

If you have been training consistently  then you will probably benefit from the break.

If you stop training completely then for the first 3 days your body will probably become fitter and stronger, tired muscles will replenish, your body will finish adaptations to the training you have already done and you will appreciate  the rest.

It is only after 5 full days of not training that there will be any reduction in your fitness levels, even then it will be minimal and not worth stressing about

If you haven’t been training consistently then don’t try to use this period to jam in more training than you have been doing even if you have more time off than usual. It is better to restart in the New Year with fresh resolve than risk injury by packing sessions in.

So either way take the opportunity to chill out, refresh mind and body and enjoy the time with the family with a clear conscience!

Happy Christmas!

Review of the year

What a year it has been. The first full year of coaching:

We coached or assisted 11 people in the London Marathon-many of them first timers -Special mention to Rachael and Nigel who raised a huge amount for charity and got David and his fellow Full Monty “dance” troupe to get most of their kit off in front of a large and appreciative audience; Beverley who completed multiple Ultra Marathons and a 50 mile event; Emma who completed several Half Marathons, the Dorchester Marathon and the 33 mile “Race to the Stones” in  9 hours 18 minutes; Sally who has now run for 100 miles in each of the last 3 months; first time and experienced Triathletes to personal bests and conquering open water swims for the first time; Linz went from being in plaster at Christmas 2016 to an age group win at Eton Dorney Olympic distance and 4th in Age group at the very competitive Ironman 70.3 Vichy Half Ironman; and last but far from least Pete who won his age group (70-75) at IM 70.3 Turkey passing his nearest rival on the run leg for the victory!

It’s humbling and inspiring to have helped so many people to achieve their goals, whether that was completing or competing, whether confident or very nervous and doubting themselves. Well done to everyone we helped, we learnt from you too and will go on doing so!

Lindsay and David

#marathon #Triathlon #ironmantraining #ultramarathon

Recovery and adaptation

Just some thoughts in the off season that apply to the whole year…

The best results are NOT gained by smashing yourself into the ground constantly! It is genuinely possible to achieve the same or better results on a reduced but targeted training load with good recovery.

Why? Training (as opposed to exercise) is deliberately applying stress to the body with the aim of causing the body to adapt to that stress in a way that achieves the goal of becoming stronger, faster, enduring longer or simply to become better at absorbing oxygen and nutrients to support training.

The problem is that as with all types of stress there is a level that is productive, but go beyond that and adding further stress simply becomes counter productive. To continue to get stronger, faster etc you will, of course, need to carry on adding stress to force adaptation to continue but balancing training with injury risk, mental burnout, and potential impact on other areas of your life is the key.

Remember all stress is cumulative so if you are suffering stress at work, home or from family situations (worrying about ill relatives etc) then it may be beneficial to your long term goals to back off self imposed stress until things are a bit calmer.

Injury and illness: easily said and we all know it really, but harder to do, is to recognise the signs of illness and potential injury (niggles, sore spots, persistent minor muscle strains etc) and then to stop! Injuries don’t necessarily mean you have to stop training at all, triathletes can often continue the other disciplines, runners can deep water run or cross train.

Recovery: is, in my opinion, as important as the actual training you are doing and the only way that you can get best value out of your training and ensure you are achieving the adaptations you require.

Problems with overtraining or under recovering include: Increased risk of injury, constantly tired/sore, not being able to complete harder sessions as well as required, loss of motivation. At it’s extreme chronic overtraining syndrome, although rare, could mean years out of training or racing.

I entirely recognise that particularly long distance athletes can stress over not doing enough training and are prone to trying to shoehorn more training into already limited time. We need to embrace the need for recovery and adaptation from the start and recognise its importance. That’s why our DLC athletes all have rest days, “easier” weeks every 3 or 4 weeks, and sessions that are scheduled appropriately.


Sleep, plenty of good quality sleep is the best way to recover by a very long way. Human Growth Hormone is released in deep sleep and most of your adaptations will take place in that time. Do not restrict sleep hours as a way of finding more time to train, there are better ways of making the most of training time.

Rest, embrace days off and don’t sneak in more sessions. If you really can’t stand doing nothing..

Active recovery, sessions aimed at keeping the body turning over but without adding undue extra stress. Walk, spend time with the family, gentle runs rides or swimming.

Massage, a good sports masseur will identify where tight spots are developing and work on those to loosen them up. It’s not about how much pressure they can apply but where it is applied to to stop problems developing.

Foam rolling, could be the subject of a whole blog but suffice to say it’s not about rolling over the same place time and again, better to pin the tight spot and then move the muscle underneath.


Nutrition: well timed appropriate nutrition, fuel sufficiently to support the training you are planning. For most sessions of an hour or less there is no need to fuel during but refuel with around 20gm of protein within a couple of hours of a session. It appears that the “30 min window” is something of a myth based on extrapolation of a study of bodybuilders, it does no harm to eat within that 30 mins, just don’t think you’ve missed the opportunity if you can’t.



“A” race worries and panics?

With many of us now approaching “A” races the concerns “what ifs” and panics start. So what can you do about it?

While there will always be something you can’t control there is plenty that you can foresee or prepare for….and the key words are prepare and practice:

  • Make a checklist (ask nicely and I’ll send you mine) so you don’t forget key bits of kit, check and double check.
  • I also have a “setting up” checklist for transition and write a timetable for race day and the run up to the start.
  • Check your equipment and have your bike checked over before any ‘A’ races. We were at a half Iron distance Tri recently and saw a gentleman get about 10 metres from transition, go to pedal and have his derailleur rip away from the mounting- race over…. was it avoidable? Probably!
  • Practice transitions, replicate the exact plan for the race (whether an Ironman style “3 bag” system or laid out by your bike) Time yourself and try to get quicker at it. You can actually practice bad transitions by setting up at home and having a friend/wife/partner do something random like fasten your helmet straps, knot shoelaces or the like.
  • When you set up carefully learn the way through Transition, learning the routes In and out, finding an immovable landmark to identify where your bike is. Which gear should you be in when you mount?
  • Don’t try anything for the first time in a race (exceptions may apply for specific tactics in “b” or “c” races) or use any equipment or clothing for the first time. Train with it.
  • Have a “plan B”, whether that is carrying a spare inner tube, inflator, and tyre levers on the bike, making sure you have a spare pair of Goggles handy for the swim start in case a strap breaks, or other controllable situations.
  • Visualise problems and your response/solution to them and practise or prepare as required. What will you do if you get a puncture? Practice changing inner tube and replacing tyre and wheel until it’s second nature, if you do get a puncture check the tyre and make sure you have removed the cause, or it’ll just happen again.
  • What will you do if your chain falls off? What if an open water swim unexpectedly becomes a non wetsuit swim on the morning of the race (Vichy!) what if You need to go to the toilet during the race (for ladies particularly) wearing a Tri suit with a jacket is going to take some while to get off if needed.
  • Plan and practice your nutrition and hydration before and during the race, what, if anything, will be available on the course? Practice having what you are going to eat and drink, and when, in training, if you plan to rely on the on course nutrition make sure you know what it is and try it, in long course races always have a fallback as you won’t be the first to either miss a feed station by being crowded out or too “in the zone” or drop the bottle you’ve just grabbed.
  • Make sure you read the athlete guide or attend the athlete briefing no matter how many times you have raced so you are aware of local rules. The winner of the Ironman Vichy race was disqualified for wearing a swimskin because she hadn’t paid attention and understood that under French federation rules double layers were banned on a non wetsuit swim. Swim skins were even sold in the expo.

By preparing you can eliminate or reduce the panic response to problems and either avoid a DNF or reduce the amount of time lost in overcoming the problem.

At D&L Coaching we believe that training and preparing for an event is not just about the physical but the mental elements as well.

Zone 2 training….”I can’t run that slowly”…..


It has been given a few names now… “Polarised training”, 80:20, “MAF” but there is a growing consensus that training at low intensity FOR YOU for a significant proportion of your total time is a very effective way of training for an endurance athlete at this stage of the year in particular.

Anyone who has been a member of any of the Triathlon forums on Facebook (“The Ironman Journey” is a major one with 12,000 members) for any length of time will have seen a rash of posts about this time of year that can be summarised as “do I need to train in Zone 2, it feels so slow” “I can’t run that slow” “I have to walk to keep my heart rate down”. Many people seem to understand that is what they should be doing but not generally why. Some people get quite aggressive about it too! “I’ll train the way I always have, it works for me” well, maybe it does so far but are you achieving your full potential and getting the best out of precious training time by minimizing “junk miles”?

But how can running or cycling slower help you do so faster? Hard to fathom but it DOES. The theory seems to have started with the work of Stephen Seiler, an exercise scientist. He studied the training of a range of elite endurance athletes including Cyclists, Nordic Skiers, Rowers, Runners and Swimmers. He found an remarkably consistent factor linking them. They all did approximately 80% of their training at low intensity. This work has since been followed up with specific studies on athletes in the same sport comparing those that trained in this way and those that didn’t showing that those who incorporate a high proportion of low intensity work got better results in testing.

I would have been sceptical if I hadn’t inadvertently proved it to myself. I trained a group of first time half marathon runners about 4 years ago, at their request I did most of their long training sessions with them at a speed considerably slower than I was capable of. My own shorter training sessions continued at a higher intensity. We all ran the “Run To The Beat” Half Marathon together finishing in around 2:40. Around 2 weeks later I ran the Gosport Half in 1:39 – becoming my then PB and considerably faster than I expected to run – without doing any long runs at that pace.

Nobody seems 100% sure of exactly why this works;  I’ll try to keep science to a minimum but a little will help you understand the theories:

The body has two primary energy systems, the Aerobic and Anaerobic systems. In short the Aerobic (“with oxygen”) utilises oxygen Carbohydrates and fat to power activity. It can do so for a very long time as the body even of the leanest athlete has enough fat to fuel several triathlons back to back. The Anaerobic system utilises Glycogen (stored sugar essentially) but it cannot do so for long periods of time as there are relatively limited glycogen stores. Both systems work at the same time but the ratio will vary as intensity of activity changes. Sadly Fat takes longer to process than carbohydrates so the faster the body needs to burn fuel the more it will take from carbohydrates to try to replenish that glycogen.

There are numerous variants on training intensity zones based on key points where physiological changes in the proportion of Aerobic and Anaerobic systems take place – an article on it’s own –  but for our purposes today we need to consider 3 zones:

Zone 2 (“steady”, 73-80% maximum heart rate, 56-75% FTP on the bike, feeling you can go harder, breathing through the nose and able to conduct a conversation) is considered to be the zone in which the body burns 65% carbs and 35% fat.

Zone 3 (“moderately hard”, 80-87% Maximum HR etc) changes the ratio to 80% carbs 20% fat. It is the intensity to race a half ironman or half marathon. The top of zone 3 and into zone 4 is called the “threshold” or “OBLA” (Onset of Body Lactate Accumulation) and signals another physiological change.

Zone 4 (“Hard”, 87-93% Max HR) is the point at which the body predominantly relies on the anaerobic system, burns muscle stores of glycogen and very little to no Fat. It is also the point at which the body generates more lactate than it can use and clear- hence OBLA. It is the intensity for racing 10km and 5km races.

Most trained athletes will, by choice, train  in zone 3 and even if they start at a lower intensity drift into it if not monitoring their heart rate, intensity or pace – it is a mental comfort zone that is not necessarily “comfortable” physically but “feels right” and is where you consider you are putting in a suitable amount of effort (and pride and guilt play a part in this too) but not requiring the pain and effort of training in zone 4.

Desirable results of your training are building the aerobic system and improving the ability of the body to burn fat, adapting to the training load, increasing the mitochondria (little fuel cells) in the muscle cells, increasing the number of blood capillaries, the amount of plasma in the blood and the stroke volume of the heart. The truth is that zone 2 intensity is ideal and zone 3 too hard to achieve those results.

All training causes damage to the system, rest is when adaptation makes the body stronger faster or more able to deal with training loads. If there is less damage the body can concentrate on getting stronger and less tiredness will be carried through to the higher intensity days.

Zone 3 should be avoided as a grey area for training, yes, untrained athletes will see a benefit from training here anyway but this is likely eventually to cause plateauing in training adaptations. Later season race specific sessions will be in zone 3 so your time will come… but it its not the best for building that base.

Higher intensity sessions into zone 4 and beyond form an immensely important part of even long distance race training and should be included in any programme. They will improve your economy, help to develop and use different types of muscle improve general strength and your confidence.

Training in Zone 2 will feel difficult and awkward at first and you will feel a dent in your pride when you see people you know or where you feel you want to show that you are a faster runner, you may even have to accept the indignity of walking up hills, but, do you know what? Nobody really cares and the benefits are well worth it. Call it a zone 2 run on Strava and we will al know! You will get more efficient, you will be able to go faster while still in zone 2 as training progresses and you will maximise your training adaptation.

Since originally posting this blog I have been convinced that amateur cyclists don’t spend enough time training to really reap the benefits and that “sweet spot” “tempo” or top end of zone 3 training allied to hill reps and high intensity work is the most effective.

“If you always do what you have always done you will always get the same results”

DML December 2016


Season over….What now?

So, we’ve reached the end of the season….now what?

You’ve been following a tightly prescribed training programme, you’ve been looking forward to your “A” race and now it’s all over. If it went well you are enthused and want to do another, if it went badly you crave the redemption of succeeding next time. There is nothing on the horizon and a feeling of loss of the structure and the goal. What can you do about it?

ENJOY: if you fulfilled your goals bask in the success, wear your finishers T shirt and bore your friends! If you didn’t then grieve, accept and decide to come back stronger/fitter/faster/better prepared.

RECOVER: That doesn’t mean do nothing! Endurance exercise induces muscle damage and an inflammatory response. Complete rest for at least 2 days, maybe 3 depending on how you feel. Then go for an easy 30 minute swim or similar length bike. I always favour swimming first as it involves no impact at all and generally the most damage is done to the lower body, especially in long distance events. Moderate activity will help you recover better than doing nothing. The next day go for a longer cycle or swim (whichever you didn’t do the day before) say up to 45 mins. Your body will still be depleted after a long distance race so will likely tell you what is enough. If you have avoided any injuries you might then try a 20 min jog the day after that. Research suggests that 2-3 weeks of active recovery may be advisable after an Ironman to deal with all responses.

ACCEPT: that it is impossible (or at the very least counterproductive) to attempt to stay at the level you have reached to peak for your race. Training hard works because it breaks down the body which then repairs itself and does its best to be stronger to deal with the next period of training. Constantly training hard means full adaptation doesn’t happen and risks both physical and mental burnout.

DONT: Keep eating as though you are in full training as you will quickly pile on the pounds. There is no need to take gels or energy drinks on training sessions of under an hour as you will not deplete glycogen levels enough to require supplementation.

PLAN: Identify races for next year, what are your goals and how are you going to achieve them? This is probably a great time to consider a coach to help with those questions.
MENTALLY RECOVER: have a break from structured training, do what you want, make best of any good weather, different events, no-Garmin rides to the Pub or tea shop, try something different like off road running, cycling etc.

TAKE STOCK: pluses and minuses, areas to work on, limiters, now is when you have time to improve swim stroke, pedalling technique, running stride pattern.

MAINTENANCE TRAINING: Once recovered try to keep as much of that hard earned conditioning and resistance to injury, aim for at least 5 hours training per week and preferably more split between your sports.

BUILD: This is a good time to work on strength and conditioning, including core work (but not endless crunches) stretching, and building resistance to injury. In particular this is a good time to work on all parts of the body and not just those directly involved in your sport.

FOCUS ON DIFFERENT GOAL: Late autumn and early winter is a good time to work on different goals like 10k or stand alone Half Marathon PB etc.

SPEND TIME with family friends and those that have supported you through all the hours spent training and the new come back and smash your goals for next year!

7 days to D(orchester) Day!

In the second of our blogs aimed particularly at first timers the lead up to the Dorchester Dash Triathlon we will look at some dos and don’ts in the last 7 day…


Smash yourself training. Trust us, nothing you do this week will make you faster (research suggests it takes 4-6 weeks for the body to fully take on board training loads) but you could make yourself slower!

Panic. Don’t try any new kit or anything you haven’t practiced on race day.

“Carbo load”. The body is very efficient at hanging on to extra carbohydrate by converting it to fat. With appropriate rest and tapering (see below) and just eating normally the body will have adequate stocks of Fuel. Anything over those needs is likely to be laid down as body fat.


“Taper”. Keep training in the week up to the race, reduce the volume but train at the same intensity. Short sessions in each discipline will keep your body ready to race without being worn out.

Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water each day to ensure your body is topped up. You may visit the loo more at first but the body should start to retain more.

Practice Transitions. Visualise what you will do, once you have that in your head lay out your kit and practice getting ready for the bike leg. For the second transition, again, lay out kit ready, go for a short bike ride then quickly change when you get back. Go out for about a 10 min run. These practices should help you to work out what order to do things in.

Arrive early on race day, make sure you take the time to….

*learn which way you come out of the pool

*where your bike is racked

*where you have to go to get out on the bike

*where you need get on and off the bike

* where you have to run out of transition.

First time at Dorchester Triathlon?

If you are taking part in the Dorchester Triathlon as your first event it can be very daunting to wonder what happens and what is expected of you so we hope these thoughts may be useful!


  • DON’T panic about the swim! You will be grouped with swimmers of a similar ability based on the time you gave on your entry. There will be swimmers of all abilities. If you feel that time is now optimistic OR that in training you have gone faster then you can amend the time by emailing 1610 ( ) so long as it is earlier than one week to go.
  • PRACTICE on the course where possible, practice wearing what you mean to race in and practice drinking on the bike. There is no need to take gallons of liquid, one bottle will do. You can fill that with an energy drink if you wish BUT try it out before the day of the race.
  • DECIDE what to wear, there is no need to dry yourself, change all your clothing and put socks on in transition. If you don’t have a tri-suit then you will probably want to put cycling shorts on for the bike. David completed the Marathon at the “Outlaw” race in his bike shorts so you should be able to run in them. Chances are it will be warm on race day so you shouldn’t need a jacket, arm warmers etc. If you must then again make it something you can run in to avoid wasting too much time.
  • PRACTICE “Transition” (changing from swim to bike and bike to run), you should already be doing something called a “Brick Session” in training (going for even just a short run immediately after finishing a bike ride) to get used to the change, so that is the perfect opportunity to practice the whole process. Before your ride have your kit laid out by the bike, get changed (if you must!) and go off for the ride. Have your run shoes and any other kit for that leg handy at home (or laid out if possible) and quickly change before going for around a 15 minute run.
  • NUMBERS will need to be worn on the back on the bike and on the front on the run. The easiest way to do this is to attach them to a number belt which you put on after the swim and spin round before the run. They are available cheaply online. We have a couple that can be borrowed if necessary.





swim exit and Transition


  • ARRIVE in plenty of time before the start. 1610 should email you a start time a few days before the race. You will need to have time to register and collect numbers, attach them to clothing/number belt, put stickers on your helmet and bike, find your place in the transition area (in the car park behind the centre-there will be numbered stickers on racking) and then walk through to make sure you know where you exit the pool to get to your bike, where your bike is, where you exit transition for the bike leg (usually the Poundbury side of the car park) and the run (usually the TH school side) so you know where you are going. Having a brightly coloured tea towel laid out under your front wheel or shoes can help to spot where your bike is.
  • WHILE a box is the easiest way to carry your kit be prepared for boxes not to be allowed in transition. Rules changed this year but not all races apply them.
  • STAND in front of your bike and VISUALISE transition, what are you going to pick up first and what order? this will help ensure you haven’t forgotten something.



  • DO count your own lengths, there will be counters at the end of the pool who will attempt to tell you when there are 2 lengths to go but ultimately it is your responsibility.
  • IF you are behind a slower swimmer DO tap them on the feet, it is accepted etiquette and they should give way to you on the next turn. If they don’t then keep tapping until they get the message! If you have a faster swimmer behind then DO let them go whether they have tapped you or not.




  • PUT on your helmet and fasten it BEFORE touching your bike. You may not mount your bike until the designated “mount line” where a Marshal should be standing. In previous years this has been at the junction where you join Coburg Road.
  • HOPEFULLY you have ridden the course, if not then at least try to drive it before the day.
  • LISTEN to Marshals on the course, particularly on the junction where the road coming down from Hardy’s monument into Martinstown where you MUST stop and put a foot down no matter how clear the course, there will be signs but it is easy to get carried away – the winner was nearly disqualified for that last year!
  • KEEP drinking up to about the last 10 minutes as then you should not need water on the run.
  • MAKE SURE that you get off your bike before the Mount line (again there should be Marshals there to remind you) and run down into Transition.




  • AS mentioned you should be running out on the Thomas Hardye side of the leisure centre car park (BUT check on the day in case they change arrangements)
  • SWING your number round to the front.
  • BE prepared to feel “wooden legged” after the bike ride, you may feel that for a short distance but it will pass soon enough
  • IT is more or less 5km to run, you should not need to carry water for that distance.

Above all, smile, thank Marshals on your way round (they really appreciate it!) and enjoy it!

Warm Ups

The body is a complex machine and a whole series of complicated actions and reactions begin when you start to exercise. I have set a few out below*.

You may wonder why it is important to consider warm ups at all. Regardless of your ability, level or sport, preparing your body for the effort it is about to make is vital to ensure that you’re able to put in your best performance. Being aware of how the body reacts to race pace effort is instructive. You should warm up for training sessions as well as races although in training the warm up can be part of the session and should be if it is an interval workout.

The primary objective of any warm up is to prepare your body for the stresses that it will be subjected to in the effort that’s about to begin. A warm body is more ready for the effort, and less likely to get injured. As described above, your body is undergoing complex metabolic processes, and the goal of a good warm-up is to warn the body to get ready for the effort involved and get those processes moving.

When racing to suddenly go from standing still to trying to go at race pace particularly in short intense races, is to suddenly overload those systems and cause the body to have to try to catch up with itself. That is likely to involve shortness of breath and faster, shallower breathing, In swimming or Triathlon you are of course already restricting and trying to control your breathing so that’s the last thing you need. To go as hard as possible on cold muscles and ligaments is to risk injury.

The sudden increase in activity, a struggle to get enough oxygen in and the adrenaline of a race start can push you into an anaerobic state, and if the body is struggling to catch up with everything going on you will stay that way for longer. The overall effect is more likely to result in a panic in an open water event.

An effective warm up reduces that effect  because your body will have the ability to more quickly deliver glycogen and oxygen to struggling muscles, lungs and circulatory systems are “warmed up” delivering more blood to muscles and carrying away waste products and the hormones associated with exercise have been released into the system. The process of providing extra glycogen from the body’s stores will be triggered.

How much should I do? The answer will depend on the length of the event and the intensity of the effort. High intensity sprint races will require a longer warm up possibly of 15 minutes starting at a low intensity but building towards the level of effort you intend to work at in the race, or if it’s a short training run, simply running slower for the first mile and increasing speed as you go, will suffice. Mimicking the sport in your warm is also advantageous… Swimming easy efforts then faster efforts if you are doing an open water swim for instance… Just for a few minutes if time is tight, will help get your aerobic system fired up for the efforts to come.

If warming up for a Long Distance race you are likely to be working at aerobic pace anyway so a shorter more gentle warm up will suffice. Try to finish the warm up as close to the start as possible although the race start format may well dictate timings. Remember the goal is not to wear yourself out but to prepare you for what’s to come.

Take advantage of the opportunity to swim before the start if offered by the organiser (and if they don’t why not?) and take the opportunity to acclimatise to the water, dip your face in, take it out and repeat several times to try to avoid an “Ice Cream Headache”. If you can’t get in the water don’t just wave your arms about vaguely, jog around to get the blood flowing, mimic the swimming stroke in warming arms up, do dynamic stretches and move head and neck.


*As the Muscles demand more fuel – principally Oxygen and Glycogen (produced from the body’s stores initially) – Arteries and veins will constrict or dilate, rapidly redistributing blood flow to meet the demands of exercise. During exercise, the arteries dilate in the principal working muscles and blood flow increases through the smallest vessels (capillaries), which were previously closed. The increased flow of blood to the muscles increases the exchanges of oxygen, the release of heat and the metabolisation of  lactate (also called Lactic acid) and removal of carbon dioxide.

The body will begin to convert Lactate to glycogen in the Liver to make it available to the muscles.

The nervous system prepares the body for exercise by secreting hormones signaling dilation of the blood vessels in the heart and working muscles, and secretion of hormones in inactive tissue to constrict those blood vessels. With training, these systems act more efficiently and rapidly to redistribute blood.

Blood redistribution can take several minutes; starting exercise abruptly doesn’t allow these changes to occur smoothly. An abrupt start can leave you breathless and strain unprepared muscles.