How to cope with a non-wetsuit swim in a triathlon

Panicking about a non-wetsuit swim? It can be a little daunting, but with these tips there's no need to let a lack of rubber ruin your triathlon

The recent hot weather has resulted in lake temperatures rising to something resembling a warm bath. British Triathlon Federation competition rules state that wetsuits are forbidden in water temperatures above 22°c, so it’s likely that many races over the coming weekend will be declared non-wetsuit.

Swimming without a wetsuit can be incredibly daunting when you’ve practiced all season in that protective neoprene layer. Triathletes tend to rely on their wetsuit for buoyancy and speed- a non-wetsuit race can send even the most experienced athletes into a panic. However there’s no need to let the lack of rubber ruin your race, here are some tips to bear in mind if you are faced with a non-wetsuit triathlon…

Get in some practice

If time allows, head over to your local lake for a few training laps in just your trisuit. Get used to the feeling of the water on your skin as you move through the water- it’s quite a different sensation. You will be less buoyant and may need to consider your body position in the water, remember to keep your head, hips and heels in line.

Trust in your training

Remember that you are more than capable of swimming the distance. Look back over your training and remind yourself of the miles you’ve swam in the pool all without a wetsuit- you can do it!

Control the controllables

The water temperature is a factor completely beyond your control– don’t waste vital energy worrying about it. Focus on the aspects which you can control- your nutrition, your equipment and your attitude.

Be prepared

Usually the call is made on race morning regarding the use of wetsuits, so it’s worth bringing yours incase there is a last-minute change. The weather is unpredictable and an unexpected cold spell might mean that wetsuits are an option once again.

Think of the positives

Without a wetsuit, your transition times will be quicker- no more fumbling with the zip as you come out of the water. You won’t get any chafing around your neck and you won’t have to rinse and dry your wetsuit after the race.

Relax and enjoy

Swimming is always more effortless when you relax. Tensing up will hinder your stroke and prevent you from gliding through the water. It’s rare that we get to swim non-wetsuit in the UK so make the most of the opportunity before the lakes return to icy temperatures!

Have you ever swam non-wetsuit in a race? How did you get on?

Race Re-Cap: Thorpe Park Triathlon 2017

Thorpe Park Triathlon

I’m racing quite frequently this summer. The beauty of sprint triathlons is that you can recover quickly and be ready to race again the following weekend.

Usually I prefer to never do the same race twice as I like a variety of different courses and locations. However, I really enjoyed Thorpe Park Triathlon last September so decided to go back again and see if I could improve my time.

Once again, it was an incredibly early start with a 4am alarm. I think the lack of sleep gets to me more than the racing!

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Swim- 750m- 15:47
My wave was due to begin at 7.40am, so after seeing Glen off at 7.10am I figured I had some time before I headed to the start. I put on my wetsuit and waited around the swim exit watching the earlier swimmers leave the lake. Glen was out of the water in 12 minutes, so I made my way over to the lake entrance to wait my turn.

I was surprised to see that my entire wave were already in the water 20 minutes early! I checked with a marshall that it was indeed Wave 5 and panicked realising I had almost missed the start of the race. I made a quick decision and jumped into the lake, swimming hard to catch the group as the klaxon sounded.

The swim passed in a blur. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind after a bad start to the triathlon. I was confused about why they had started much earlier than the advertised time. Or was it me? Had my watch stopped?

I later found out that due to the terrorist incident in London the night before, Thorpe Park was on high alert. Security wanted the triathlon finished and the park cleared as soon as possible, so they had taken the decision to move the times forward. I totally understand the decision, but it would have been helpful if we were informed!

Despite the panicked start, I finished the swim only 35 seconds slower than last September.

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Transition 1- 1:46
My first transition went smoothly, I found my bike on the crowded racking and headed to the bike out as quickly as possible.

Bike- 21km- 44:51
I was familiar with the course from last year, it’s pretty straightforward and on flat, mostly traffic-free roads. Being the Triathlon England National Championships, there were a lot of competitive athletes on the course. Plenty of speedy riders on TT bikes came flying past me throughout the bike course.

The early start meant that the weather was cool and mild with a slight breeze, perfect conditions for riding. I reminded myself to drink regularly on the bike as it’s pretty easy to forget when you’re focused on riding as quickly as possible.

I’m nothing if not consistent, as my bike time was only 5 seconds different from September!

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Transition 2- 1:58
Back into the park via the service roads, squeezed my bike onto the racking, changed my shoes and headed back out.

Run- 5km- 27:18
The run course is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this race, it’s a lot of fun being let loose in the theme park before it opens to the public. The course is on grass by the lake and pavements between the roller-coasters. As it’s two laps, I saw Glen and my friends Trevor and Cristina around the finish line which always gives a much-needed boost.

Again, I was being passed by a lot of fast runners. I try not to become disheartened and keep pushing as hard as I can without worrying about others. Determined to beat my previous time, I kept checking my Garmin as I ran. I realised it was going to be tight to come in sub 1.30, as my swim and bike times were similar to my last Thorpe Park Triathlon. On my second lap, I knew it would not be a PB so I just focused on enjoying the course.

I finished in 1:31:43 which is a little slower than last year. I was initially a little disappointed as I really felt like I was riding and running stronger than last time, but ultimately I’m not going to get upset over 90 seconds! Thorpe Park was still an amazing event, despite the miscommunication around the swim start. I’d really recommend this race to both beginners and more advanced athletes.

Thorpe Park Triathlon

Have you ever almost missed the start of a race? What’s your favourite theme park? 

5 Reasons to Start Cycling

Reasons to Start Cycling

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of cycling. You can’t beat the feeling of freedom when flying downhill or the sense of satisfaction when tackling a tough climb.

The number of people taking up cycling is increasing rapidly, with a huge range of benefits to be had:

1. Cross-training for other sports
Cycling is great cross-training for other sports as it builds strength and fitness whilst placing no impact on the joints. Sprints and intervals on the bike have been proven to increase running speed. If you are rehabbing an injury, then taking up cycling can help keep you active without aggravating the injured area.

2. Exploring the outdoors
Riding a bike is the best way to experience the outdoors and discover new parts of the countryside. You can explore further afield than you can on foot, taking you away from familiar territory along different lanes or trails.

3. Chance to socialise
Cycling is a very social activity, whether you are a member of a club or just ride with a group of friends. Café stops and easy rides at conversational pace are an integral part of club rides. In fact, 20% of the riders surveyed by Cycle Republic state that riding allows them to spend time with friends.

4. Improved mental health
As with many physical activities, cycling has huge benefits for mental health. A bike ride can provide a much-needed escape from daily stresses and worries. By increasing endorphins, cycling can boost your mood and increase energy.

5. Increased confidence
Cycling can result in a real boost to your self-esteem. There is a huge sense of achievement and newfound confidence which comes with finishing a challenging ride. Learning new skills such as maintaining and repairing your own bike gives a feeling of self-reliance and independence.

Cycle Republic have surveyed five hundred riders across the UK, to understand their reasons for riding as well as their perceptions on safety and bike security. Their findings are presented in this infographic:

Reasons to start cycling

Posted in collaboration with Cycle Republic.

What are your reasons for cycling? 

Trying Paddleboarding and SUP Pilates

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has been on my must-do list for a long time. Despite the name of my blog, my paddling only usually extends to swimming. I finally got the chance to try another watersport when Ruth Tongue invited a group of bloggers to the launch of her SUP Pilates classes at WakeUp Docklands.

WakeUp Docklands has a relaxed beachy vibe to it, with wooden shacks and decking next to the waters of the Royal Victoria Dock. On such a gorgeous afternoon, it actually felt like we were a world away from central London.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Split into smaller groups, we began with an introduction to SUP technique with Jason Bergin from Urban Recovery. He began by explaining the basics including how to hold the paddle and move it through the water, plus how to turn and stop. The boards were actually inflatable, so we were careful to not puncture them on the sharp stones of the beach.

We started paddling in a kneeling position making our way towards a sheltered area of the dock. SUP has always looked easy from afar, but I soon discovered that the technique is more difficult than I realised. I seemed to be always holding my paddle backwards and cruising straight towards an obstacle!

Moving into a standing position took a lot of concentration. One foot at a time placing them parallel and slowly standing up, keeping my body centred over the board and gaze towards the horizon. Finding my balance and standing with slightly bent knees, I tried to engage my core muscles as I steered the board around the dock. Once I was up I didn’t want to go back down again! I’ve swam in the dock several times at the London Triathlon, so I wasn’t too worried about falling in- I just wasn’t sure how I’d get back on the board again.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

The 45 minutes flew past and soon it was time to head back to the beach. I’ll definitely come back for another SUP session as my technique could use some more work!

SUP Pilates

After a short break for juice and energy balls thanks to CPRESS, we regrouped for SUP Pilates with Ruth. I felt more confident climbing onto the board after our earlier session. These boards were a slightly different size and shape and were anchored to stop us from drifting too far away.

Ruth lead us through a workout which included traditional Pilates exercises such as leg circles, hundreds, roll ups and side planks. The moves were made even more challenging by the movement of the board on the water. It took a lot of concentration and coordination to move from one position to the next without capsizing the board. Although fairly intense, the session was very relaxing with the water gently lapping against the board and the sun beaming down.

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

Paddleboarding SUP Pilates

I did struggle to hear some of Ruth’s instructions when we drifted further away, so I had to watch her movements to understand the next exercise. I also have a bit of a bird phobia, so I was distracted by the flapping geese and goslings who wanted to join in our session!

I love the idea of taking Pilates outside of the studio and into the outdoors surrounded by water. Ruth’s classes are running throughout the summer on weekends and weekday evenings- check out her website for more details.

Have you ever tried SUP or SUP Pilates?