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Trigirl Ambassador Katie J SyngeSport is such a massive part of my life, it has been for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t a budding academic at school – I tried, but it certainly didn’t come naturally.

I was lucky enough to have some amazing opportunities to try different sports – which quickly became an outlet from academia and the love for it started early.

When I was 7 my family moved to the countryside, which is where the journey began. I began riding aged 7, and when I was 13 found my love for running. This led me to Pony Club tetrathlon (swim, run, shoot and ride), and once I finished GCSE’s I decided to go to Hartpury College, where I had an offer to train with the Modern Pentathlon Academy (so I added in the fencing!) alongside studying for a sports BTEC.

Balancing Triathlon Training with Being a MumOne of the questions we frequently hear at Trigirl is, ‘How can I train for triathlon with kids?’ The issues that anyone training for triathlon faces, where to find the time, the energy, the commitment, are certainly compounded by school runs, kid’s activities, let alone a full-time job… it’s easy to understand why the idea of training for not one, but three sports, is a little daunting!

Statistics show that the 35-44 age group is one of the fastest growing in triathlon, perhaps partly because of more mums and dads getting back into fitness (or deciding to finally get fit)  after having children. There are clearly parents out there finding the time and the commitment, but how?

In our latest Trigirl video, Coach Kristin chats with Trigirl ambassador, Natalie Johnson, and asks how she manages training for her latest challenge- a middle-distance triathlon- with three young daughters. According to Natalie, one of the things she’s had to give up is sleep. A self-confessed ‘not a morning person’, Natalie has found one of the best ways to fit in training time is in the morning before her girls are up.

Of course, Natalie is not the only one finding that the time issue is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to training for triathlon with kids. On her blog site, Mama Sweat, Kara Thom admits to ‘hyper-scheduling’ when training, and even then, she finds that life sometimes just gets in the way. When it does, the best thing is not to try to make up for missed workouts, but to recommit to your training plan and move on.

And Natalie is finding that her training is motivational for her girls, who are learning the values of exercise and a healthy body image, worth more to Natalie than sleeping in!

For more on Natalie balancing triathlon training, check out the video. Her answers may inspire you, even if you’re not a mum!


London-Duathlon-RichmondAs the triathlon season comes to an end, so does Rachael’s tenure as a Trigirl ambassador. However, (lucky us!) she has offered to continue to blog for us from time-to-time, offering her advice as a personal trainer and triathlete.
Big thanks to Rachael for her blogs thus far and congratulations on your season!

As the 2013 triathlon season draws to a close, it’s a time to reflect on our successes and the things that may not have gone exactly according to plan.

What’s your biggest triathlon fear?

triathlon fear of being lastI’ll take a guess that it isn’t getting a puncture. That doesn’t really enter your head. I bet it isn’t getting stuck in your wetsuit or falling off your bike on a tight turn, either? I’m sure for most people the real fear of triathlon, certainly if – like me – it is your first season, or if – like me – you aren’t a strong swimmer, the fear is that open water swim. The cold water. The dirty water. The mass start. And the gnawing fear that you know isn’t really likely to happen, but might do (because said fear is beginning to consume you!) the fear of being last out of the lake. It’s a big one. And it happened to me this weekend.

I’ve competed in two triathlons this (my first) season, the Eton Dorney SuperSprint and Blenheim Palace Sprint tri. Next week I’m competing in the Hever Castle Olympic distance tri. Slightly ambitious you might think? Very, I now realise.

Food, Food, Glorious Food! – Nutrition for Triathlon

Vegetarian TriathleteAs triathletes (whether you’re going for your first or fiftieth race) you will already be aware just how important nutrition is. Get it right and it can help you power to a PB. Get it wrong however, and you will probably hit the dreaded wall halfway through your training session.

I am a firm believer in real food for real people (though supplements do have their place). And one of the best things about training hard is that it can help move you towards a healthy, sustainable relationship with natural ingredients.

I wanted to share my top ten thoughts on nutrition for triathlon (and for life):

1. Fuel your body
The classic analogy is to compare your body to a car. Put in quality fuel and you will get a good performance over a long distance. Scrimping on fuel in terms of quality and quantity is a false economy – you will hit the wall and soon be running on empty.

Stretching after Triathlon Training
image by fitnish.com

Bend me, shape me…

Triathon training. It’s all about swimming, cycling and running, right? Well yes…and no.

It’s so tempting to finish a tough training session and promptly collapse on the sofa (that’s not just me is it?). But what you do immediately after exercise could be the most important few minutes of all.

Arguably two of the best additional elements you can add to your training are stretching and foam rolling. They might not represent the most glamorous side of triathlon preparation but a few minutes a day will be a valuable investment of your time.

Stretching after Triathlon Training

There is an ongoing debate in the fitness industry about the benefits of stretching, but in my experience a few minutes of stretching at the end of a training session can save a couple of days of aching muscles!

What does it do?

Don’t Just Think, Do!

Tips for Triathlon Training MotivationGood intentions. We all have them: to train more, to do our swimming drills, to make time to stretch, to avoid that piece of cake after a long ride… But between thinking and doing, it is all too easy for our good intentions to get lost in the maelstrom of daily life. If you aren’t feeling very motivated, any excuse is sufficient to let you stray off track: family, friends, work, Facebook, the local pub! And even the more dedicated exercisers sometimes just can’t face another run at the end of a long day.

Here are some practical tips for triathlon training that can help you sidestep the obstacles that life throws at us, and stay on track to achieve your goals:

1. Planning is key

Sit down with your work and social diary and add in all your training sessions for the week ahead. Make training one of your key priorities, not just a ‘nice to do’ – remind yourself how good you feel when you’ve exercised, and how you’ll feel even better when you cross the finish line!

Natalie without race support crowdHusband and I, plus two friends, entered the 2013 Blenheim Palace Triathlon, for a dare.  You may think this unremarkable; however I was a renowned couch potato and he hated running. We began to exercise, but as spring crept closer, we realised that we were going to have to practice doing a triathlon. Before the proper triathlon, if you see what I mean.

We entered the Human Race Super Sprint at Eton Dorney, simply to find out what it was going to be like. (And if I would drown in the lake).  Olympic venue, too – exciting.  Standing where the greats stood etc etc. That would be inspiring, I  thought.  Plus, I simply wasn’t prepared to panic or suffer overwhelm at Blenheim.  To practice properly I decided that no parents or children were allowed; we (husband and I) just wanted to get a feel for it and see how it all worked.

Though Trigirl ambassador Rachael Willis is a relative novice when it comes to triathlon, she’s no beginner when it comes to sport. A lifelong athlete and freelance personal trainer, Rachael shares here a bit about core strength. What is core strength, why it’s important to triathletes and how you can get it… without the dreaded sit-up!


Core strength for triathletes. Something we’ve all heard of and all the experts talk about it. But what exactly is it, how do we get it, and do we really need it?

Are we talking about a six-pack?

Core Training for Triathlon

Well, not exactly. The ‘core’ consists of superficial and deep layers of muscles in the abdominal region, lumbar region (lower back), and thoracic and cervical region of the spine (mid and upper back).

So while the ‘six-pack’ may be the ultimate goal for many gym-goers, triathletes require much more from their training if they are to benefit from effective core strength.

Train Hard TriathlonWell I hope you’re all been enjoying the gorgeous summer weather…oh wait, that’s right – it’s been cold and wet again! Not quite the perfect conditions we’ve been longing for after the longest winter since records began (or something), but at least we don’t have to worry about dodgy tan-lines from Lycra shorts and cycling tops!

Since you last heard from me I have been mainly, well, swimming, biking, and running! I decided I needed a couple of months to consolidate after my first race and training weekend before my summer race (which has just been cancelled incidentally, so any recommendations for races in the Oxfordshire area gratefully received!); a time to establish a routine and try to put some of what I’ve learnt into practice.


swimming in a lake
Soon enough the lake swim comes to all novice and aspiring triathletes. I’d avoided it for months. I left it as late as I possibly could: just one week before my first triathlon. If I could have left it until the day before I would have, truth be told.

I was terrified. I was terrified for many reasons, one being my struggles with swimming – in a pool. I did not have the confidence to head out of the relative safety (and warmth) of a pool to attempt to swim in a lake. Every pool swim, or delayed swim confounded my panicky preconceptions of how damn awful it would be. And of what a rubbish swimmer I am.

be prepared for triathlonLet’s talk about being prepared for triathlon: what you eat; what you wear; and how you train. I know it feels like a lot in one blog, and a bit rich coming from a novice triathlete! But as the triathlon season really gets underway this month, these are the things that I wish I had known earlier…

Get a triathlon kit.  It is not arrogant or showy-offy to get a triathlon kit. Good kit makes triathlon a little bit easier for you – and therefore more fun! I was sceptical but am now a convert. You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds, either. Here are my top 3 tips for triathlon kit that have made a huge difference to me in training:

  1. I bought Look Keo pedals and some road racing shoes for the bike. They made such a difference. I had been riding in trainers with cages for so long; I thought I was doing OK. But what a leap forward in power! I kept up with the men for the first time ever. I wish I had bought them sooner. And I didn’t fall off at any junctions, which apart from looking silly, was my main worry!

Women Only Triathlon Training Day Bristol 2013There are many aspects of triathlon to worry about when you are first setting out in the sport. Trying to master (or at least have a go at) three different sports seemingly thrown together in a random act of masochism, all the kit (so much kit!), the training, the lingo… But for a group of novice female triathletes attending Trigirl’s Women Only Triathlon Training Day in Bristol, the most pressing question was “but what do I wear?”.

There were just so many options to discuss: sports bra or built-in support top, a fetching little two-piece or an all-in-one trisuit, socks or bare feet, trainers or cleats…but most of all the sports bra…

Our coach for the day Kim Ingleby (GB triathlete, personal trainer, mental performance coach of Energised Performance) was patience and optimism personified!

First Triathlon of the SeasonLet me take you back a week or so to Good Friday. A bit chilly, you may recall. A good day for curling up in front of a log fire and eating lots of Easter eggs. Or in my case, a day for embarking on my first triathlon of the season.

The Good Fri Tri at Radley College in Oxfordshire was the scene of my previous attempt back in 2011 and I’d decided to return to the same race to kick off this season, this time stepping up to the sprint distance.

We had been told if the temperature dropped below zero, it would be turned into a duathlon (run-bike-run), so you can imagine my joy (with not a hint of sarcasm, oh no) when it was announced that it was officially two degrees and therefore ideal conditions to ride a bike in wet clothes!


Trigirl Swim AdviceSpring forward – into blind panic!

As the clocks went forward I felt a slight panic, as not only did that mean the kids were losing an hour of sleep, it was also the starting gun on the countdown to race day. It is not winter any more. We are not just running. We are now training. And it’s just 10 weeks until the Blenheim Triathlon. This slight panic quickly escalated, through all my rational thoughts, from slight; hurtling past deep concern; and headlong into full-on breakdown in a matter of one, hour-deprived, day! OH YES. NOW THIS REALLY IS PANIC.

I had big plans for this post. It was going to be helpful and inspirational. I was going to talk about the importance of rest in your routine. I was going to talk about believing in yourself and a positive mental attitude. But the wave of nausea is tidal and promises to consume me and all the good work I have already done. Instead, all I have for you is panic…