Triathlon

Getting ready for JLL Property triathlon (or other triathlons at Dorney Lake)

With triathlon season warming up and the JLL Property Triathlon on the horizon at the end of June, we asked our soft tissue therapist and Triathlon Coach Emily to give us her best tips for preparing for your triathlon. She’s even given her top tips for racing at Dorney Lake:

Getting ready for JLL Property triathlon

(or other triathlons at Dorney Lake)

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Dorney Lake is an ideal venue for a sprint distance triathlon - pancake flat course and calm lake water to swim in. It’s beginner-friendly and a good place for seasoned triathletes to gauge their fitness. After competing in more than a dozen races there, I’ve come up with some useful Dorney-specific tips to make your race day as smooth as the lake.

Getting there

From London, you can take your bike on to the train to Windsor & Eton Riverside or Windsor & Eton Central. From there, it’s a 3.5 mile ride to Dorney Lake, perfect for warm up. Be sure to ride down Bovney road which will get you to the start line side rather than the car park side at the far end of the lake. Take a look at this map.

If you are driving, make sure you get there at least 1.5 hours before your wave starts, so you have time to park and get down to the other end of the lake to register and check in.

Swim: Sighting

Normally, I would suggest to my athlete to sight every 6 strokes or so, and trust no one in a race. At Dorney Lake, the small buoys are actually attached to each other under the water like a lane rope. So depending on where your starting pontoon is, sight for the first buoy, from there, keep your head down and follow the ropes underneath to complete the swim lap.

For those of you who are doing the 2.2 km swim, the trick to holding a straight line is a symmetrical stroke. Bilateral breathing, enter your hands into the water at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position with good full body rotation.

Bike: Counting laps

This is by far the trickiest part of the whole race… counting to 4 is surprisingly difficult when in race conditions… you can use 4 bits of sticky tape on the handle bar where you would take one off per lap, just be sure to remember whether you did it at the start of the lap or at the end of the lap (can you see now how confusing it could get?)

A bike computer is useful, just remember to start it, and that GPS can be slightly out. Unlike other sprint tri’s the bike course is 21.2 km.

Transition

For a sprint distance triathlon, every seconds count in transition. Think how hard it would be to take 1 min off your 5km run time or your 750 m swim time In transition, all it takes is to be calm and a little bit clever:

  • Lay out your transition with the shoe holes facing you; sunglasses open and inside helmet; helmet straps open with its inside facing up so you can flip it on to your head; race belt under your shoes ready to be stepped into.

Transition layout.

  • Practice dismounting your bike on the fly:

 

Kirsty demonstrating a flying dismount.

 
  • If you’re a strong swimmer, ditch the wetsuit and use a swim skins tri suit instead. (At that time of the year, it is likely for a race there to be wetsuit optional).

  • Instead of bike shoes and clip-in (aka clipless) pedals, you can use courier straps on flat pedals and trainers. That way, you can roll straight off the bike and on to the run, for a 20km flat ride, bike shoes and clipping in make negligible difference (I’ve tried both multiple times).

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Whether you use road cleats, MTB cleats or just trainers with straps, such a flat course at short distance, it makes no difference.

  • Instead of wearing socks, put plenty of talc powder in your shoes and go sock-less.

Wind

Dorney Lake is always windy, for some reason you’ll get a constant side or head wind wherever you are in the bike lap. This is the place for Time Trial bikes if you have one, if you don’t, practice riding on the drops and stay low. Make sure whatever you’re wearing is tight fitting and nothing is flapping about.


Pack list

  • Trisuit (wetsuit if you’re wearing one, lube for your neck)

  • Goggles (you may want tinted ones if it’s sunny)

  • Running shoes

  • Talc powder

  • Race belt for putting your race number on

  • Bike in good working order

  • Helmet

  • Sunglasses

  • Bike shoes if you’re using them.


Good luck, have fun!


Words by Emily Chong. Image by Scott Collier Photography.

Open Water Swimming Tips

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Open Water Swimming Tips

Now the triathlon and Open Water Season is in full swing, if you’re feeling slightly anxious, here are a few tips from our Sports Massage Therapist and dedicated open water swimmer, Emily Chong, to help your training and competing:

 

Practice, practice, practice!

  • Find some open water to train in before your event and get used to lower visibility and the natural environment. 
  • Practice in your wetsuit. Wear your goggles under the swim cap, or better yet wear two caps and have the goggles sandwiched in between (less chance of them getting knocked off).

 

Starting in a race

  • If it is a deep water start, get yourself horizontal, gently kick your legs and scull with your arms out stretched. When the horn goes, you’re in the right position to take a few strong kicks and pull forward.
  • If you prefer not to be in the crowd, go to the side and swim wide of the turning buoys.

 

Swimming in a wetsuit

  • When swimming in a wetsuit, relax your elbows so you’re not fighting the neoprene, straight arm recovery is absolutely suitable for open water. 
  • Focus on engaging your gluteus muscles (clench your bottom!) keeping your legs together and make sure your core is long and engaged. Imagine doing a plank and you should feel your legs rubbing at thigh, calves and toes just touching.
  • Use body rotation to lengthen your stroke, entering your hands in 10 o’clock and 2’ o’clock position. This helps engage your back muscles to swim. Imagine doing a pull up - it’s almost impossible with our hands together, but with your hands slightly wider than shoulders, you will have much more power to pull yourself up.
  • When you get into the water, splash your face and the back of your neck. Put your face in and slowly exhale. If you have a tendency to panic, take some time to do this until you feel your heart rate has calmed down. 

 

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Sighting

  • While waiting to start, look at the course and find something in the landscape that lines up with the buoy markers to sight for. Something like a hill or a tall colourful building so it would only take one glimpse to see (buoys may seem big, but once you are horizontal amongst splashing swimmers, they can be hard to spot). 
  • Think crocodile eyes, try not to lift your head too much or your legs will sink, making swimming harder. Find a pattern to suit your breathing / sighting. 

 

Plan B

  • If you feel your chest is too tight / your goggles get knocked off / you are cramping, roll on to your back, take some deep breaths, readjust yourself, once you feel ready, roll back to your front and carry on.  If necessary, hold one arm in the air, the safety kayak will come to your rescue.

 

Finishing

  • As you approach the pontoon, speed up your kick a little to activate your legs and to get blood flowing. Take it easy going from swimming position to standing up position, you may feel a little dizzy due to blood going from the top half of your body down to your legs. 
  • Undo neck velcro on your wetsuit and pull the cord to open the zip. Grab the neck opening and pull your arm out of the wetsuit. If your wetsuit gets stuck at your wrist, loop it around your knee and use it to pull it out. If you already have your cap and goggles in your hands, great! they can stay inside the wetsuit sleeve till after the race. 
  • Pull down wetsuit from the waist, side step and stand on your wetsuit several times to get your feet out. 

Done! now go and enjoy your ride and run (or post race celebration). 

 

How to put on a wetsuit

  1. Use a glide stick or other thick lubrication (Rock Rub is my favourite) and generously rub it over your forearms, calves, quads and hamstrings and around your neck.
  2. Put some cotton gloves on to avoid nicking your wetsuit with fingernails. If possible always grab the inside material to pull rather than the smooth outer side of the neoprene)
  3. Turn the bottom half of your wetsuit inside out.
  4. Keep your socks on (or put each foot into a plastic bag), and put your feet into the leg holes and roll up the legs. (Remember the zip should be at the back!)
  5. Pull the wetsuit up to your waist. 
  6. Ideally, find someone who can grab the wetsuit from behind and pull it up as though they were going to give you a “wedgy”. Otherwise, do that yourself, keep pulling up until the crotch area is more than snug. 
  7. Put one arm in, pull it up to your shoulder, then put the other arm in. 
  8. Ideally, get someone to “shoehorn” you in from behind. They should put their hands on the back of your shoulder / upper arm and pull the wetsuit back to create more space in the chest. 
  9. If there is nobody to help you, bend the elbow, grab the crease and ease more material towards your shoulder until the zip is fairly close together at the back.
  10. Once both arms are shoehorned in, the back zip should be quite close together without having to pinch your shoulder blades together (if not, you will probably struggle to breathe). Now you can zip it up. 
  11. If it feels like it’s restricting your neck, bend forward, grab the crease and ease more material towards your chest.
  12. Make sure the zip is in “up” position, loop the cord over the neck velcro and stick the end of the cord in it, so you know where to find it when you need to take it off. (Remember to take your socks off!) 
 
 

Call us on 02030 12 12 22 to book an appointment if you have any injuries or niggles or if you'd like a pre- or post-race sports massage.

Words and images by Emily Chong.

 

Fraser Cartmell: How Does Racing as a Professional Athlete Work?

Somebody racing as a full time professional triathlete is quite clearly not common amongst the general population, and so from time to time I am asked by those who are curious enough, to explain "how does that work?" when I mention what it is that I do with my time.

Ultimately there are a number of different pathways towards professional triathlon racing - nothing is set in stone, which makes for exciting opportunities at different points in life for people, depending on their own circumstances and lifestyle choices.

 

The Traditional Route

For me, I suppose it was a more traditional route - at least here in the UK anyway - which began as a junior athlete who was finishing school and embarking on my university studies. Representation for GBR at championships events across the world came my way through the National Federation 'system', which in turn supported me to simultaneously combine my University degree with many hours of swim, bike and run training. Ultimately I wasn't good enough at this format of 'draft - legal' or Olympic distance ITU racing to reach major events as a senior athlete and the Federation support (financial / medical / logistical) fell away.

 

The Non-Drafting Route

However, I still loved the sport and was keen to explore the concept of 'non drafting' or Ironman racing. This would mean braving the world of racing without the outside the 'support bubble' I had been fortunate to receive, but equally it would give me the freedom to choose whatever type of race I might want to do, rather than what I "had" to do as previously determined by the Federation and their qualifying criteria.

 

National Lottery Funding

These are two different pathways to racing, but both allow triathletes to race professionally and earn a living. In the UK athletes are very fortunate to access the much lauded National Lottery Funding and the associated support structures. However you have to be exceptionally good to reach this level, and of course to stay there year on year is no easy task either. When this funding disappears athletes can understandably struggle with how to move on and can at times be lost to sport at an elite/professional level because they simply can't continue to make ends meet.

 

Sponsorship

Nonetheless, racing the 'non drafting' Ironman circuit of events - as I have done for many years now - can provide all sorts of new opportunities to work with a host of different potential sponsors. These could either be brands from within the industry providing equipment sponsorship, or indeed non-endemic companies you have some association with (perhaps locally) who in turn can hopefully provide the financial support that was lost from the aforementioned Federation.

Essentially the long term goals of reaching the pinnacle of your event will remain. Previously that may have been the World ITU championships or even the Olympic Games, and now it has become Ironman Hawaii, for example. The only real difference is who you are representing when you get there. It will either be a national federation or likewise a group of personal sponsors who share your goals and agree to support your journey in whatever way they can.

If you're interested in sponsoring Fraser, just pop an email to us at info@physioremedies.com and we'll put you in touch with him.

 

 

Fraser Cartmell: Kit for getting started in triathlon

This month, our pro triathlete, Fraser Cartmell, writes about the basic kit that you need to get started in triathlon and his favourite bits of kit for each discipline.

Looking in from the 'outside', triathlon by its very nature can be viewed as a complicated sport, given the combination of three separate sports (or disciplines) within a sport! Indeed, when I began racing triathlon as a young junior in the north east of Scotland, nearly twenty years ago it appeared a daunting task to begin with, but as with most things in life, baby steps (and plenty of borrowed items) got me started on the journey. It's safe to say I've been hooked ever since.

The sport is littered with different bits and pieces of equipment that you can appear to *need* in order to toe the start line - triathlon is undoubtedly a marketing dream! However, stripped back to the bare essentials it can hopefully resemble a far more attainable event for the everyday person who might want to give it a go, just to see how they find it. The *need* for the shiny and sparkling equipment can come later!

Swim

To begin your triathlon journey the pool triathlon is a great starting point. As long as you have a trusty swimming costume and goggles, you're all set. Fancy, once piece triathlon suits, and expensive wetsuits for open swimming can come later if you decide you're keen. One thing I will advise against is using a regular surf wetsuit with the belief that "it'll work fine"... I used a friends' windsurf version for my very first open water event and it was a miracle I ever made it ashore! But you learn quickly, and these days my tri specific wetsuit, complete with far thinner and more flexible neoprene is certainly one of my key pieces of race equipment.

Bike

As a youngster who explored the countryside after school on his trusty mountain bike, I was familiar with riding off road, rather than on a road bike. And so, conveniently my first taste of racing a triathlon was an off road event, which I loved. Once the inevitable triathlon seed had been sown, we (my parents) were able to borrow a road bike from (another!) friend for the remainder of that summer until Christmas came around for my very own set of speedier wheels. My point here is that the *need* for expensive, aero tri-specific bicycles isn't necessarily justified until you've really sunk your teeth into a number of local level events, to test your appetite. Perhaps inevitably however, my time trial bike resplendent with electronic gears and carbon wheels has become a firm favourite piece of kit that I spend extra care looking after.

Run

I always believe that shoes and footwear are as exciting to me as they are everyone else, but I'm not so sure? Personally, I love the smell of a new pair of trainers when they appear from the shoebox, and so over the years of racing professionally I have become spoilt with the deliveries of new shoes that sponsors have kindly sent.  Whether it be for training or racing, I'm a total sucker for a fresh set of trainers and I think after my bike these rank as 'next best favourite' items on my list, and I'll do my best to keep them in good condition. I might even have been known to machine wash shoes (which you are not supposed to... it's bad for both the washing machine AND the shoes apparently!) to keep them clean. It works a treat!

Accessories

As technology has rapidly progressed there are now all sorts of other 'extra' things that we *need* to train and race for triathlon, including (but not limited to) GPS running watches and cycling computers, electrolyte energy drinks and carbohydrate specific bars, racing helmets with visors and bike shoes with ratchets and straps. There are even special pedals that measure your power output (that the aforementioned cycle computer will tell you about) and many more I have limited time to write about!

Too many items to choose your favourite from I'd say ;)

 

Words by Fraser Cartmell.

Fraser Cartmell: IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire Race Recap

Fraser Cartmell: IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire Race Recap

Sunday saw the third edition of the Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, set in the beautiful surroundings of Shugborough Estate grounds. In addition to the scenic views the 1800 or so athletes were also ‘treated’ to a hot summers day of racing, which certainly created an extra layer of difficulty to the task of collecting the finishers medal at the finish chute. Indeed, playing to stereotypes – this particular Scotsman noticed the temperatures too, given they reached upwards of 30C!

FRASER CARTMELL: IRONMAN 70.3 STAFFORDSHIRE PRE RACE POINTERS

FRASER CARTMELL: IRONMAN 70.3 STAFFORDSHIRE PRE RACE POINTERS

For those of us racing Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire (and that includes me too) it is now Race Week! Hopefully the previous few weeks and perhaps months of preparations have gone fairly smoothly (we all have bumps in the road, that’s just life!) and you are now looking forward to enjoying all of your efforts on race day.

Fraser Cartmell: Starting your Tri season in open water

Fraser Cartmell: Starting your Tri season in open water

Now that the winter is well and truly behind us the triathlon season is once again upon us and is bedding in for the long haul all the way through to September and the falling leaves of early Autumn – if we allow ourselves to think that far ahead? – so let’s talk about getting back to it!

Fraser Cartmell: 'Warm Weather' Tri Training Camps

Fraser Cartmell: 'Warm Weather' Tri Training Camps

Living as we do in the 'frigid' north of Europe (I live in Scotland, perhaps I'm a little biased!) the winter months really tend to drag endlessly on. The notion that the clocks are going to 'spring forward' seems an impossibly distant glimmer of hope on the far horizon and trying to maintain a modicum of regular outdoor exercise can become far from easy and much less enjoyable. Certainly, we make do, and find a way to 'wrap up' / 'rug up' and keep warm but it's often not much fun for the most part. Or perhaps I am just being far too 'glass half empty' in my analysis of this time of year? Maybe...