Category Archives: Kay Ball

Kay Ball is a newbie triathlete-in-training and Trigirl’s 2017 Brand Ambassador. Kay says, “Starting my triathlon journey was such an adrenalin rush that I wanted to write about it and ultimately I’d love to share it with other women. I hope that what I share will motivate others to do the same, especially women my age (I’m 47!), who like me, may have thought their competition days were behind them.”

Kay Ball – Choosing a New Bike For My First Triathlon

Do I really need a new bike for my first triathlon?

Easing gently into triathlon training deep in the winter months, I’d been taking the softy’s option of starting my preparation for the bike leg in the gym. Training warm and dry with TV or tunes, the chance of a chat with friends and a coffee shop on the way out – what’s not to like?

new bike for a first triathlonA few weeks in, however, with the first signs of spring on the way and the clock now counting down towards the race, it was time to dust off my bike and head outside.

In the back of my mind I think I knew that my old MTB might not be up to the job. My first exhausting training ride confirmed this. The bike had served me well for many miles of recreational cycling, through several countries and for well over a decade. However, this bike just wasn’t built for speed!

My expectations for the race had shifted somewhere along the way from wanting to “just get round” to starting to think about getting some speed up. I needed to invest in something with a bit more oomph.

As a triathlon newbie and someone with limited bike knowledge, I found the process of choosing a new bike surprisingly hard work. The choices are endless. It is easy to be put off by the technical jargon and weighing up what you need (and just as important what you don’t need) can be tricky.

Having got through the other side, here are my suggestions for taking the pain out of the buying a bike for your first triathlon:

  • Put the kettle on, set aside a couple of hours and fire up the laptop. Do as much research as you can from the comfort of your own home. There’s a ton of useful information and reviews online, try and digest as much as you can before you even set foot in the bike shop.
  • Shop around. Not just for the best price, but to find someone who talks your language and listens to what your specific needs are.
  • Jump on and get the feel of as many bikes as you can. It may be obvious, but always go wearing clothes that allow you to do this. Test the bike out, outside if possible.
  • No question is too daft to ask. You’ll probably be spending a lot of money and you want to get it right. I was glad I’d asked “does it come with pedals?” as I was planning to ride it home and it didn’t.

New Bike For My First Triathlon - TrigirlUltimately, I settled on an adventure road bike and I love it. It gives me the speed I’m after but is versatile across terrains and I can happily take it off road. It’s got just enough (metaphorical) bells and whistles for me – hydraulic brakes and 105 gearing – but I’m confident that I’ve not gone OTT.

Finally, it has a relaxed geometry which suits me. Yes, I want to go fast but I also want to do it in as much comfort as is reasonably possible – sorry purists but life’s too short for unnecessary pain!

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Kay Ball – Sports Bra for Triathlon Training

Sports Bra for Triathlon TrainingTalking of getting the right support to get me through the triathlon ….. the lovely folk at Trigirl have asked me to test some of their gear over the coming weeks and I’ve started with one of their sports bras. They recommended the Anita Active Dynamix as the perfect sports bra for triathlon training and racing.

I have to say I’ve worn the same brand of sports bra in multiple colours and different incarnations over many years and have been very happy with it. The Dynamix bra that I tried, however, definitely gives it a run for its money.

It has a neat design which makes it easy to get on and off; especially handy when you’re hot and sweaty. The fabric is light and breathable and did a good job wicking the sweat away.

It’s quick and easy to adjust at the front and the padded straps fit snuggly. As you’d hope, it keeps everything in place even during a tough, high-impact training session but doesn’t sacrifice comfort at the expense of support.

I have to admit the Dynamix was way more comfortable than my regular sports bra. I’m converted.

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Kay Ball – Bike Maintenance for Triathlon Newbies

As far as bike maintenance goes, I’m afraid I’ve let the side down a bit over the years. I am much more likely to reach for my phone than my multi tool in the event of a breakdown. And while, on a good day, I might have taken a pump and an inner tube out with me, if push came to shove, I’m embarrassed to say, I’d have been struggling to know what to do with them.

bike maintenance course for triathlon newbiesWith many hours training on the bike ahead of me, not to mention race day itself, I thought a bike maintenance class made sense. Skilling myself up would, I hope, put an end to my “fingers crossed” days of cycling not to mention improve my performance and ultimately keep me safer.

I chose a beginner’s course at a local BikeRight Centre. I arrived on the day along with a small group who came with a range of different bikes and motivations.

We started with the basics and the first exercise of the day was actually to label the various parts of the bike. Beyond the fundamentals Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Improving Your Swim Technique

Swim Technique for TriathlonThe internet has been a great source of information during the early stages of my triathlon journey. I was beginning to think, however, that my swim technique would plateau if YouTube continued to be my only source of advice.

Ultimately, I thought, there was probably no substitute for a real-life coach standing on the poolside correcting my bad habits and fine tuning my stroke.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge (sorry) and get a professional on the job. I’d seen several teachers at my local pool but they were, in the main, young enough to be my children. I really wanted someone let’s say, more my age profile. I’d seen Hilary* teaching another adult and noticed how engaged and enthusiastic she was with them. What’s more there was actual laughter going on. It looked like the lesson might even turn out to be fun!

3 lessons of swim technique in Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Sprint Triathlon Training Starts

January blues? Not for me! My first month of training has left me energized and immune to the chill and gloom of the first few weeks of 2017.

Sprint Triathlon Training has StartedThe sprint tri I’ve entered is in May so I’ve 4 months to train and prepare for the big day. I found plenty of great information on the Trigirl website to get me started, much of which is geared towards the novice triathlete.

Although the tri is obviously a game of 3 halves, it’s the swim leg that loomed largest for me personally and I really wanted to gain some confidence in the water as quickly as possible.

I’ve been a regular at the gym for many years but have rarely ventured into the pool. I think it’s fair to say I did feel a bit self-conscious on my first visit but I kept my objectives realistic; don’t do anything daft and try to retain some self-respect!

I can only say I wish I’d got into swimming sooner. Though I wouldn’t have won any medals for style on that first day, even with my ungainly stroke and unpractised breathing, I soon got into a rhythm. After a couple of swims I was relaxing more and finding it a surprisingly peaceful experience.

Lessons learnt in those initial few weeks Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Toying with Big Ideas and Triathlon Challenges

I loved swimming as a child. Even now, one whiff of a pool takes me back to my childhood, sparking a pavlovian craving for a bag of Monster Munch and a Vimto which was the post-swim ritual.

Triathlon Challenges for KayI’m not sure when/ why I fell out of love with it. It’s true to say that swimming is the last form of exercise I’d choose now. In moments of madness when I have tried it again as an adult, I’ve found myself exhausted and embarrassed in equal measure.

With no style or technique to speak of and coughing and spluttering within the first couple of lengths, it’s fair to say I’m not one of life’s naturals. I should stick to sport on dry land I reminded myself; this swimming malarkey was not for me.

Except…. Continue reading