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Photo on unsplash by Quino Al

Apologies for the text speak, but glad it got your attention as I think it's worth noting that there are a few races appearing around the country which is truly a positive step for the sport of triathlon!

Races will have new measures in place such as staggered starts, requirements around cleanliness and of course social distancing.

Now, if you're like me you have probably lost some race sharpness and may forget the odd thing when heading to the race, I once forgot my race shoes and so ran in my current trainers (thankfully I wasn't wearing flip flops and was wearing old race shoes - phew!).

In order to be race day ready, here are 3 top tips that will help you:

1) Preparation & Lists are key.

GIF courtesy of Wix

Competing in three sports means there is a LOT of equipment to pack to make sure you perform at your best, and there are some essentials you will need in order to race, e.g. if you don't have goggles that is going to be one awkward and uncomfortable swim, no bike helmet will mean you are not even allowed to put your bike in transition (and therefore what's the point in even starting!), and no run shoes... you get the picture.

So to make sure you don't forget anything I have provided a free downloadable RACE DAY CHECKLIST that you can use. I hope it helps! Here's a preview below.

2) Build the wall.

Photo on unsplash by Coen van de Broek

Build the wall? What? Sorry, it's an awful pun where I am talking about using brick sessions in training... bricks... walls... no... O.K. I'll leave the humour out.

A brick session is a doing more than one sport together, traditionally this may be a bike to run where you get your body used to the jelly leg feeling, it is important you get your legs used to this so you don't falter come race day.

I would say it's also important to practise swim-bike. After being in a horizontal position for a significant length of time where your upper body has done a large part of the work, you do need the lower half ready to go again, so you can get the blood rushing to those muscles that will allow you to smash the bike.

So practise building the wall, i.e. make yourself indestructible by including at least one brick session a week in your training especially as you get closer to race day.

3) Stay on top of the mental mind games.

Photo courtesy of Wix Images

The best race I had ironically is when I got zero sleep, it was the day I qualified for the GB Age Group Team and booked my slot to the World Championships in Mexico. However, to potentially improve a future performance I now implement the following:

  • Distraction: you want to wake up the day of the race feeling fresh and good to go so watching a film, reading a book before bed, or even chatting to a friend about something other than triathlon can help you forget those race day nerves that can creep in.

  • Positive self-talk: When thoughts of pain come in when you are in the final 5km of the run, or in the first 200m of the swim (or wherever you are in the race), having mantras handy like 'it will get easier', 'I am doing well', 'you've done this in training you can do it now' all help me... even if it feels rough positive self talk can help to get you through those tough times.

  • Mindfulness: Pre-race or during the race it can be helpful to use mindfulness techniques. Effectively what you are doing is taking the thoughts that may be troubling you, being aware of them but not emotionally letting them effect you and letting them go. For more information on this please download the free mindfulness PDF from Mind.

If you want a free no obligation chat around your upcoming races to help you alleviate any fears or concerns book a call with me here now. I want to help you relax and enjoy racing! Believe me I get it! I've been there!

For now thanks for reading and have a great day!



Proud to be a part of the Small Business Saturday 2020 cohort! #smallbiz100

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What is CSS? Critical Swim Speed is based on the time you can swim a 1500m race in. CSS is then a measure by which you can train and improve your threshold, i.e. the 8.5/10 pace where it hurts but you can could hold it (for 1500m). This is super important to know for any open water swimmer or triathlete.

Side note: I managed to improve my CSS in a short space of time from 1.55 per 100m, to 1.35 per 100m. Remember everyone is different and it's not helpful to get into comparison either, unless you're the Olympic Champion over 400m there is always likely to be someone quicker than you. Relax and try to be the best version of yourself you can be! For me after 6 months off of swimming I will no doubt be back towards the 1.55 marker again, it'll improve with consistent and considered training!

Anyway, if you don't know how to find your CSS, try a CSS Test or CSS Time Trial.

What is a CSS Test/ Time Trial?

It is a 400m flat out effort, followed by a couple of minutes break with a few easy lengths in the pool to keep things flowing, then a 200m flat out effort.

You will need to warm up thoroughly, include some faster pacing when you go from the warm up to a build/pre-main/pre-time trial set (an example of a build set is below).

When you get to the flat out efforts make sure you pace yourself especially in the first 100 metres of the 400m, so don’t go off too hard, or you may fail in your attempt to finish.

Equally you do need to make sure you go hard enough. If you think you could’ve given it more at the end of a time trial, that’s probably something to learn from for next time.

Photo by Johnny Clow on Unsplash

Here is a session for you to try:

CSS Test Session:

Warm up: 500m

  • 200m front crawl/ 100m pull / 100m back stroke

  • 100m kick with or without board


  • Your call, keep it fairly short and just focus on drills that will help you personally with your own form during a harder effort.

Build set: 300m:

  • 3 x 100m build with 15s recovery Cycle through effort levels within the 100m as follows… (1st 25m easy, 2nd 25m steady, 3rd 25m CSS, 4th 25m hard)

  • 4 x 25m hard with 30s recovery

Main set: 650m

  • 400m time trial, pace it wisely especially the first 100m!

  • Take a breather, once breath is back, two lengths easy and on to the…

  • …200m time trial

Cool Down: 200m

  • 200m cool down mix of front crawl, breast stroke, back stroke and drills

Calculating Your CSS Pace You have your 400m and 200m times, use the CSS calculator to find out your CSS training times:

CSS Sessions:

Now it’s time to include a CSS session at least once a week in your training programme, if you’d like some sessions specifically designed and tailored to your ability level whether your a complete beginner, an improver, or you’re looking to progress into an international age group vest, give me a shout via email or WhatsApp me now, and I'll send a free session across for you to try.

If you want to chat about a monthly coaching plan to improve your CSS for OW swimming or triathlon training, book a call with me here now and we can chat about how I can help you.

Ian - TriClub . Proud to be a part of the Small Business Saturday 2020 cohort! #smallbiz100

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Photo from unsplash.

If your barrier is not knowing how to train effectively to hit a PB or PR (for our American friends), are too time strapped to even contemplate such a feat, if it is that you lack the self belief and confidence to take on the 3.1 miles or 5 kilometres that separate you from can't to can, then this blog is for you.

But...I can't do it... Absolute nonsense. Yes you can.

Well I don't have a Personal Best / Record (PB/PR) I can't even run 5km... Absolute nonsense. Yes you can (barring any genuine medical or life issues of course).

What if you could start a training plan that is simple, takes less than 4.5 out of your 168 available hours in a week, and helps you to realise your potential.

Let's keep it simple, you need 3-4 runs in a week which will stimulate the different energy systems to run a solid 5km time.

Wix GIF.

  1. The Easy Run - If you are a beginner include 2 of these in your run schedule and exclude the tempo run below (unless you have a good base level of fitness). If you are improving it will depend on your current training schedule but for now lets presume you run 3-4 times per week already, 1 of these runs should be a long easy run anywhere up to 90 minutes and 1 a shorter run up to 45 minutes. The aim is to deplete the body of glycogen (carbohydrates) stored in the muscles. The body then learns to store more which means you are less likely to run out and fatigue. Easy Long runs are good for all distances whether you are a 5k runner or are planning on tackling something longer. It will help you to develop stamina!

  2. The Tempo Run - If you are a beginner and starting from scratch for now forget this run, and focus on 2 easy runs a week with an intervals session - see below. For those of you who are looking to improve your times, if you are not already doing this session you definitely should be. It is a 7/10 effort which is designed to help you hit and stay at your aerobic threshold, i.e. the point before lactic acid floods your muscles and causes you to feel that sensation where you simply can't run anymore. This run if included once a week in your training plan will help you to delay that response, so that when you race you can hold a quicker pace for longer.

  3. High-End Intervals - These sessions are used to push the top end of your energy system (anerobic threshold), and get your body and mind used to harder efforts. The idea is to teach yourself to deal with different circumstances such as surging mid-race to overtake a fellow runner, to deal with changes in terrain - e.g. hills, and to cope with running hard when it hurts.

So what does this look like on paper?

Well below... I have included a generic 5km, 9 week plan so you can hit your PB. If you are a beginner I have supplied a link to the couch to 5k plan, although there is the option for something more personalised if you are already fairly fit.

Photo by Quino Al, unsplash.

Beginners: click here This app will talk you through an effective and safe way to get running and achieve your first 5k!

If you would like something more personalised drop us a message and we can book in a quick chat to help tailor a plan suited to your schedule, ability and confidence levels.

Improvers: as above personalised plans are available, but to rock the PB here is a simple solution for you, these are main sets only and do not include warm-ups, run drills, cool downs and stretching, all of which should be included in a personalised plan.

It is based on you being able to run 4 times a week, and being able to give around 4-4.5 hours of time a week to training:

SUNDAY: Easy Run one, 1 hour per week, 3/10 effort, enjoy the scenery, you should be able to talk throughout. Increase by 5 minutes per week, upto 90 minutes.

During week 9 (race week), chop this run.

TUESDAY: Intervals Run, roll through these sessions: (Approx. 1 hour incl. warm up, cool down and stretching).

- Weeks 1-3: 1 minute hard - 8/10 effort, 1 minute walking recovery x 7-10 sets. Progression: Increase the time to 2 mins hard in week 2, and 3 mins hard in week 3

- Weeks 4-6: 800m hard, 90s recovery, 400m hard, 90s recovery (x 4 sets) - 8/10 effort.

Progression: Increase to 6 reps in week 5, and 7 reps in week 6.

Quick side note: Reps = Repetitions.

- Weeks 7-9: 2km hard (7/10 effort), 4 x 30s hill sprints, 2km hard (8-9/10 effort). Tip: Leave this as is during the last 2 weeks before race week.

Tip 2: Race week: remove the hill sprints, and include 4 x 10s strides.

WEDNESDAY: Easy Run two, 30 minutes per week, 3/10 effort, enjoy the scenery, you should be able to talk throughout. Increase by 5 minutes per week, upto 45 minutes. Do some strides at the end i.e. 10 paces at just above 5km race pace, maintain form though and do not overstride.

FRIDAY: Tempo Run. You should be able to hold this pace for an hour and be able to say the odd word throughout. (Approx. 1 hour incl. warm up, cool down and stretching).

Weeks 1-3: 1km x 5 (60s recovery) - 7/10 effort

Weeks 4-6: 1M (Mile) x 3 (60s recovery) - 7/10 effort

Weeks 7-8: 3-4 Miles: Start at tempo pace, increase this by 10s per mile through your tempo run, it will get harder as you go through, learn to embrace the suffering, if you can suffer well - you can race well.

Week 9: change this up for a 30 minutes easy run with 10 x 10 strides in the middle of the run, do it the day before your race. It's a sharpener to get everything geared up for race day.

RACE DAY: Start easier than you think you should, settle in on the first km, and then give it everything you've got with the aim of saving enough energy to maintain a constant effort, and if your intelligent about it a negative split! Suffer well. Race well.

Follow the above, stay injury free, stick to pace, and keep yourself on task and you will break your 5km PB, if you don't - email me and we'll look at why that may be. This is a generic plan which doesn't tailor for your individual circumstances, fitness, and needs. If you require something like that contact us here.

Photo by Channan Greenblatt, unsplash.

If you crack it, great! Leave us a positive Facebook review and email us, we love knowing we have helped you to realise your potential!

Ian Scarrott & Ben Plummer

Head Coach/Owner & Performance Analyst/Coach

PS. if you can only fit three runs in, drop the second shorter easy run. Also, parkruns are coming back soon, so it's the perfect time to get training, remember parkruns...


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