VO2 Maximum News

Stay Cool…..

May 28th, 2012

I think quite a few of us are finding this lovely warm weather a shock to the system. We have had a long winter, not a harsh one, but a long one that found us all still having to wrap up and wear water proofs through april and May.

Our bodies will take a little time to adapt to training and racing in the heat.

Here are a few suggestions to help stay safe and comfortable whilst training and racing in the heat.

1. Hydration

It is imperative to keep hydrated and to keep our salt levels (sodium and potassium in particular) up. Here is a link to an article that explains why we need to maintain salt levels http://www.powerbar.com/articles/47/sodium-a-closer-look.aspx

There are lots of electrolyte products on the market eg Nuun, High 5 Zero, GU to name a few that are designed to hydrate us without diluting our essential salts. They are good for hot days for sessions where we do not need calories too, so for example 1 hour run/bike sessions.

Drinking water between sessions is still good and we do not have to replace our normal water requirements with electrolyte solutions.

If you are out on the bike for a long time, put some spare sports drink nutrition in a sandwich bag and take some money to buy water. When you are getting low on drinks simply find a garage and top up with water and use your packed sports nutrition.

Investing in a belt that holds small bottles is great for long runs where you can drink every 15 mins or so. The other thing you can do if you have time is to put water bottles out prior to running along your selected route.

2. Skin protection

When the temps go up I make it a policy to slap on sunscreen after the morning shower. It has been reported that sunscreens work better when applied several hours before exposure. The skin is then protected and then it is a case of topping up before you go out to train/race. I would advise a high level of protection, even in our country, as we are often out training/racing for several hours!

Sunscreen needs to be applied when in open air pools/open water, needs to be water/sweat resistant and needs to be applied even when a little overcast.

There are also arm.shoulder and upper body reflective garments on the market that have a degree of sun protection woven into the material (developed in Australia I believe for surfers and children and have been adapted).

Don’t be tempted to go topless, as the wicking T shirts we train in are designed to keep us cool. If we take them off the sweat tends to sit on our skin thus slowing down the cooling mechanism.

3. Head protection

Hats and sun visors are a real help when running to keep the sun off your head and out of your eyes and can make running in hot weather alot more comfortable. A hat with wicking qualities means you will not end up with sweat dripping off your head into your eyes and sun visors keep the sun off your eyes but keep the top of your head exposed to allow sweat to evaporate.

4. Sunglasses

Again these will offer you some protection from the glare of the sun and reflections from surfaces.

As with all things connected to training and racing, a little bit of planning and organising will go a long way to making training in the heat more comfortable. It can also mean not suffering from more serious conditions like sunstroke and heatsroke.

Enjoy this weather and train/race safe.

Paula

What does it take?

February 5th, 2012

I have been thoroughly enjoying Chris McCormacks’(Macca) autobiography I’m Here to Win. It gives some exceptional insights into his training techniques and methods and just what it took for him to be a champion multiple times.

I like to read sports peoples stories and have been struck by the similar common themes, threads and character traits that emerge throughout them. I feel there is alot we can learn as age group athletes from these stories from the sporting legends such as Matthew Pinsent, Haille Gebrselassie, Micheal Phelps and Mark Cavendish(to name a few). Whilst we may not all stand on the podium we can be champions of our own aspirations, goals and dreams and I thought I might list a few things that it seems to me(from reading the stories) we might need in order to do that.

This list is in no order of importance and by no means exhaustive – more just a few thoughts… but I hope it helps to inspire us to become champions to ourselves.

So….what does it take to be a champion?

1. Sacrifice.

From reading and listening to interviews with elite and professional athletes, one thing becomes apparent – they sacrifice alot of what we might call “normal life”. They spend time away from loved ones, sometimes time in isolation. They miss social events and avoid things that might deter them from their path.

In order to achieve our own goals in sport, at any level, I believe there will be some sort of sacrifice. It could be that we forgo some of the social pleasures of life such as second helpings of food, puddings, alcohol, late nights etc

A good question to ask yourself before indulging is “Is this going to help my race performance?” There are certain times of year when it is good to let your hair down and relax as long as you know when it is time to get back on track and swop the wine for water!

I have also found that those who I am close to understand and respect that there are times of the year when I cannot be so sociable and my time is dedicated to training and racing.

2. Dedication.

To be truly dedicated you have to love what you do. Why else would you get up at 5:30 am to fit in a training session around a busy work day? It takes dedication and commitment to keep at it despite the curve balls life throws at you.

Be committed to yourself and your dreams especially when the road is tough. Come race day, you will look back on the tough days that you got up and did that training session and it will give you strength.

3.Perseverence

Sometimes, despite the dedication and commitment, things do not fall into place straight away. Sometimes the times do not get faster and that new technique does not transform training immediately. Sometimes the training plan does not seem to be reaping rewards as quickly as when you first started the sport.

This is when we need perseverance to keep going, to trust in the process despite a delay in achieving our success.

We can learn from the seasons, both training and racing, where we seem to stand still or not set PB’s as much.It takes bravery and intelligence to take hold of the lessons,not give up and persevere. It may be the stepping stones towards the goals may change and the path may take a different route to the goals but having the ability to be flexible will help with perseverance.

4. Discipline

Along with dedication and perseverance comes discipline. Discipline can be described as training yourself to do something in a controlled and habitual way. Most successful age group athletes will say that consistent training is the key to their race success. It takes discipline to follow a training plan as it might involve sacrifice, it will certainly require perseverance and dedication.

It also takes discipline to know when to rest and back off. Effective training must include the ability to listen to your body, to read signs of fatigue and potential injury and to understand the stress that training places on your body and mind.

5. Perception

Be clever and discerning about what works for you. Just because the latest copy of the sport magazines rave about some new training method, piece of kit or way of getting to race weight, does not mean it is right for you as an individual. Coach Joe Beer always says TESTIT or Try Everything Several Times in Training. Of course try new things(or discuss them with your coach) but be brave enough to say when it doesn’t fit.

Macca says in his book to be perceptive when picking races. Pick races that suit you, courses that work for you and play to your strengths, with climates that won’t annihilate you!

6. Self Belief

Have realistic beliefs about yourself and what you can achieve. If you are hungry enough for that success and have that self belief you will do whatever it takes to get to your goals.

There are some very powerful visualization and belief building techniques available to athletes and they do work. Most coaches should be able to help with this if you ask.

Self belief will keep you dedicated, committed and give you the discilpine to resist the unhelpful behaviors!

7.  Respect

I believe that if you have and keep much respect for yourself, the sport and your fellow athletes it creates a spirit and environment in which success can happen. Mutual respect within a sport keeps it healthy and creates solid friendships, great healthy rivalry and competition.

I am sure there are a great many more things that constitute championship potential but I hope that this small list has been of interest and of help towards you being the champion of your goals.

Happy New Year

January 3rd, 2012

Happy new Year to you all.

At last it is Olympic year – 2012 and the greatest show on earth is coming to London. I know this will be inspiring alot of athletes to have a great year and encouraging alot of people to have a go at a new sport for the first time.

When embarking on a new training regime or annual training plan, it is important to be aware of your time availability, other commitments and your bodies ability to cope with a training load. It is my job as a coach to advise, support and motivate you towards your goals, whilst encouraging you to take responsibility for being honest and realistic about all of the above.

I was greatly taken and impressed by professional triathlete Jodie Swallows blog a few days ago where she talks openly and honestly about how 2011 was for her and the tough realisations she had to come to terms with. In her blog she talks about taking responsibility for her body and being true to what she believes is required for it in order to be injury free and healthy to compete at the highest level.

Now whilst most of us do not train full time or compete on the same stage as Jodie, I believe there is alot of wisdom we can take from her latest blog, as Age Group athletes and I would encourage you to read what she has to say.

The full blog can be found here http://www.ifollowtheswallow.co.uk/

Many thanks to Jodie, who gave kind permission for me to use and quote her blog.

Here’s to a very happy, healthy and fast racing 2012!

Paula Dewar

Performance Goals

October 9th, 2011

Today I ran a half marathon as part of my preparation for the ITU World Long Course Championships. I am in my final build for the event and training is tough at the moment.

The 1/2 today was at the end of a tough week with no taper, rest or let up atall!

The goal was to run under race conditions on tired legs to try out my race plan and reactions to it, and understand how I might feel on race day with regards to pace, nutrition and mindset.

We often say to our athletes that there will be times when we ask you to race tired and it is at these races where we ask you to focus on what we call “performance”goals and not “outcome” goals ie.we are not necessarily looking for times or places but looking at what components make a good performance. These things could include things like nutrition, pacing, technical aspects and mindset.

I thought my experience today might shed some light on what we mean when we talk about “performance”.

I knew today would be tough – I have put in several weeks of quality training including challenging interval sessions and volume. On Saturday I put in 4 3/4 hours of cycling at race pace and today was to follow up with a race pace run.

The Surrey Badger 1/2 is off road and takes you up into the Surrey Hills. I had no idea how tough the course was going to be, having never done it before, and therefore had no pre race expectations. It was one of the hardest 1/2′s I have ever competed in! Relentless uphill trails and downhills over tree stumps and uneven ground….it was pretty brutal!

However, I finished the race with a massive smile and absolutely over the moon. My performance goals were based on practicing components of my race plan….so here is why I was so happy even though the race was much harder than I had banked on….

1. I put into practice my race nutrition plan. I timed my pre race nutrition well with the product I felt would serve me well – SIS Smart drink 90 mins to 30 mins pre race plus a burner gel 30 mins before the race. I fuelled at the right point for me in the race, with another gel and sipped water at the aid stations. I had pre prepared my post race nutrition – not knowing what would be on offer after the race(turns out it was local beer!). I have found For Goodness shakes drinks work for me as I find eating post race abit tricky. It was there for me on the finish line so my post race recovery started as soon as the race finished. My nutrition plan worked out just right.

2.Pacing – I ran my own race. It is easy to get sucked into other peoples races then get despondent when our race does not go as we wanted. I did not get distracted by the girl who, when I passed her, sat on my shoulder,trying to push me to a faster pace. I stayed at the pace I knew was right for me, and I did this by “feel”. I did not keep looking at my watch to see my elapsed time. I pressed the lap button at each mile marker for later reference only. I was delighted that my pacing was as I would want it on race day and that I had paced the race to feel strong at the end.

3.Mindset. I was relaxed before this race. I knew what I wanted to focus on and was clear about my race goals. The race was harder than expected and I made use of positive internal language to keep me on task. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge the race gave me and knew that this race would serve me well in my race preparations. It is great to recall the tough sessions and races that you got through when the going gets tough in your main races.

I feel I have achieved a great performance today based on the above points, I was delighted and grinning like a Cheshire cat! I have no idea where I was placed, it was irrelevant to todays goals and my time was nowhere near my PB, but that wasn’t my expectation today.

It is tricky sometimes to tear ourselves away from our “outcome” goals but if we can focus in races on performance details we can build towards a great outcome when it matters.

I would imagine that when the Pros at Kona give their post race reports they will recall aspects of the performance that they were pleased with even though the final outcome may not have been all they had wished and worked for.

Hope this is helpful

Happy training

Paula

Winter training (staying safe).

October 19th, 2010


 

 

As the weather deteriorates and the light becomes limited we British triathletes have a lot to contend with as we get into base winter training. If we are to get to race day 2011 in one piece we must think about how we are to keep safe as we train.

 

 

Some things to consider are :-

 

1.Visiblity

 

Often in the winter we have to fit training in before or after work that can inevitably mean training in the dark. Whilst we may feel we are sensible on both bike and running it is imperative that other road users can see us clearly. There is a large range of hi – vis clothing available for both cyclists and runners at all price ranges and it is worth investing in a hi vis jacket and tights with reflective markings. In addition, arm- bands (snap its from Halfords) , reflective gloves/overshoes and hats are useful. If you have to commute on your bike, a hi vis cover for the rucksack is advisable too.

 

Lights are also a must for both runners and cyclists in the winter. It does not have to be dark to use lights, remember motorists’ visibility can be restricted on gloomy overcast or foggy days too.

 

Always remember hand signals on the bike and we should let other road users know what we are about to do whether cycling or running.

 

2. Warmth

 

I am sure we can all recall a time when we have got cold on a long winter ride and have been utterly miserable! It is sometimes tricky to pitch the clothing right, especially on sunny days. Don’t be fooled by the winter sun, the cold chill air can be biting on early morning rides. General rule of thumb would be too many layers rather than too few. You can always remove layers but will feel horrible 20 miles from home without enough layers.

 A shower-proof gilet tucked in the back pocket on winter days however bright is a good policy.

 

As with the visibility clothing there are many shower-proof, windproof, thermal tops, tights, hats, gloves ,socks and overshoes in the marketplace.

 

It may seem like a lot to pay out for but a worthwhile investment that will see you through many winters if cared for.

 

3. Food!

 

In the winter months our basal metabolic requirements increase as we require more calories to simply keep us warm. It therefore makes sense that we are probably burning more calories than our Garmins/Polars etc are showing us. This is not a licence to eat pies all the way round the lanes but it is important to have a small stock of healthy snacks (easily digestible) on sessions of 90 mins or more. A whole article could be devoted to nutrition requirements but for the purpose of this article which is general advice – don’t leave home without some fuel!

 

It is also possible to still dehydrate in the winter (some rain jackets are very dehydrating!) so hydration strategies still need to be employed. The body is still producing sweat as part of the heat exchange mechanism and fluid/salts have to be replaced. Taking an electrolyte/carb drink for longer rides is advisable.

 

4. Equipment

 

Safety checks on equipment is essential in the winter months as running shoes get muddy and worn; bikes get muddy and salt and grit get into components.

 

As you wash off muddy trainers check for signs of wear as damp and mud can lessen the life span.

 

Make sure you have 2 tubes, a pump, tyre levers and a multi-tool with you as you set out on the bike. A phone and some change is also useful.(Make sure the phone has the ICE number in it).

 

I have invested in a Road ID band. It has your name, contact numbers and any other medical info the emergency services might need. It was a reasonable price and well worth the money. www.roadID.com

 

Before you set out on the bike make the following checks – brakes ,cables, tyre pressure and state of tyres and that all nuts and bolts are tight.

 

Keeping the bike as clean as possible also gives you the opportunity to check these things. A dirty bike will have components that deteriorate quicker than a clean one!

 

Hope this helps towards safe winter training. Wrap up warm and enjoy!

 

Clacton Standard Triathlon

September 27th, 2010

Rich(mentioned in previous blogs) spoke very highly of this race last year and when he said he had entered again, I decided it would be a fun way to end the season….I have not done a standard distance atall this year! NB: He also said it was always sunny in Essex!

Arrived at the race venue and watched the trees bending on their sides and lots of triathletes huddled up in fleeces, hats and gloves – this is racing in Britain and I am convinced it is madness like this that makes us the toughest, and most successful triathlon nation in the world…….so I decided to get out of the car…..

Got registered and was delighted to have a real proper goody bag! Like the old days when they actually put useful stuff in them! Got a long sleeve T, water, food and lock laces…result….but still no Essex sunshine….Was good to see Martin and Rich had decided to brave the weather too!

The swim was to be a tide assisted one way swim along the coast so we had to walk along the coast to the swim start. The organisers had very sensibly provided the competitors with bags to put shoes, fleeces etc in and a truck to get the belongings back to transition so everyone could keep warm till the last moment. We then had to line up in numbered order in our waves and were counted onto the beach. it was very reassuring to see all the lifeguard boats waiting for us in the water as the tide did look very strong.

We were allowed a dip before coming back onto the beach for a running beach start. The sea was a chilly 15 degrees but as soon as the fog horn went and we ran into the water that went out of my mind as I concentrated on getting to first buoy.To get to it you had to swim straight out to sea and let the tide take you to the buoy, which it did. Once round the buoy it was time to settle into the long straight swim along the coast line. The first big orange buoy was quite difficult to see at first so I relied on the bloke in front of me to guide me there(he seemed to know where he was going). The sea was choppier than it looked from the shore but I find with sea swimming it is best to just relax and try not to think about how big the sea is, it’s also good to try to get the pattern of the waves to judge when to breath and sight.

Finished the swim and ran up into T1. T1 went really well till I found that the bike next to mine had got its brakes caught in the spoke of my bike! The wind had blown all the bikes sideways on the racking so I had to ask a marshall to help unhook it, aware of the clock ticking. Eventually she separated the bikes and I set off on the bike course. the first loop went well and I felt strong. The rain started as I finished the first loop and then absolutely bucketed for the remainder of the bike. The second loop was frustrating as I got caught behind a car that just sat behind the cyclists and at one point I actually stopped and unclipped as it dithered. Hey ho…we race on open roads and have to respect other road users too, however I was aware that I was losing time once again.

Got back to T2 and set off on the run which was straight along the top sea path and back along the bottom sea path(right next to the sea). It was still pelting with rain but did not feel too cold. The run was very quiet as I had been in the  second wave and had managed to overtake a few in the first wave so not many out on the run course. There were loads of water stations on the run course and it was nice to have some encouragement from the people manning them…otherwise it was me and the sea next to me….Had a nice steady run and finished in 2:23:32. 45th overall, 3rd overall woman, 2nd lady vet.

Was great way to end the season, I was impressed with the safety of the sea swim, the marshalling and the goody bag. I would imagine on a warm, dry day it would be a fast blast of a course and I would definitely do this one again.

- Oh and the sun came out when we drove away!!!

Post Season Rest

August 30th, 2010

We are coming to the time of year where most of the major races are done and we may have one or two events to finish off the season.

Sometimes the season in the UK seems to be over before we know it.I have heard comments like “The winter seemed so long this year and the race season has seemed so short!”.

When the big races are done we can sometimes feel a little flat,bereft and without direction.

Sometimes the temptation to keep adding races can be overwhelming but I believe it is imperative to set an end to the season and stick to it. It is my belief that a training and race plan should have a beginning and an end.

Races should be planned for a purpose and not just to keep that race “high” going. I believe if we do that then we eventually burn out as the performances drop off, it seems like less fun, and we become over fatigued, over trained and maybe even injured.

I tend to insist on a minimum 2 week break for my athletes at the end of the season where I do not write any structured training and I encourage them to rest, rejuvenate, spend time with families and friends and do other activities.

This kind of break allows us not only to refresh physically but mentally too, giving us a break from fitting training in and around busy lives.After a break like this most athletes are chomping at the bit to get training again and will hopefully have realised the benefits of the rest.

At this point it is good to sit down with a journal, or coach and review the past season and to plan the next seasons goals, and what races those goals will be achieved by.

Rest is an important part of training and our bodies need it, so don’t be scared to put your feet up for a while after the season…you have earned the right!!

Happy Training

Paula

Ironman Regensburg

August 5th, 2010

Regensburg Ironman – Paula’s report

 

1st August 2010

 

This was the inaugural event in Regensburg and my 4th IM start. Regensburg is a historical city, a UNESCO heritage site, set on the Danube river.

 

We arrived on the Monday still in celebratory mood following Jimmy’s great race in Antwerp the day before.

 

The week was spent doing the usual taper sessions, sussing the lake, bike route and good pre race eaterys (I have mentioned before that food is always a priority!).

 

The organisation of the race was superb and it was good to know we were in the hands of German efficiency.

 

The weather had been very mixed during the week but the forecast for race day was hot and sunny and it proved correct.

 

We drove up to the lake on race morning and I felt quite calm as I set out my transition area. I had my race plan and had decided that in this event I was going to do everything I needed to be safe and comfortable during my race, a lesson learnt from Kona.

 

As we were herded to the beach I became aware of just how big this event was….an estimated 2000 or so competitors were lining up for the beach start along with me. It was great having Jim and Karl at the start too, a comforting thought that two team mates would be doing this Ironman too and I started to feel the buzz as we all wished each other well just before the gun went off!

 

It was a beach start so the first few metres were a scrum but I soon found relatively clear water and settled into my stroke for the 3.8km, one loop swim.As we swam along the first long straight I  stayed wide of the field and out of trouble. The swim seemed to be over before I knew it and I was amazed at the noise the crowds were making, they were shouting and encouraging us all as we ran up the beach and into T1. I glanced at my watch…56 mins!!!This was going to be a good day!

 

Got to my bike and methodically ran through my transition. I took time to smother my shoulders in sun screen. As I said earlier, I intended to stay safe on this event. Got everything I needed for the bike section, unracked my lovely TT bike, gave Mum, Dad and Jimmy a big grin before I set off. I was delighted to see them there at T1.

 

The bike route was a two loop course with two very distinct sections; the first 25km of the loop was climbing and the second half of the loop was much flatter but more technical as it wound through lots of villages.The support was great as we climbed up to the high point of the course and the marshalling was fantastic. Mum, Dad and Jimmy had stationed themselves at a point about 45 km into the loop which was perfect – was brilliant to see them and gave them a wave as I pedalled past. My nutrition strategy was working well and I felt good.

The first loop seemed to fly past and I was soon back at the lake ready to start the second loop. The second time up the climbs felt a lot harder than the first time!! At the top of the course Jim came past me with his usual “ hello mate!”. Had a brief chat before he disappeared off ahead, looking very strong indeed!

 

The second loop was slower but with 60km to go I did my sums and worked out that if I maintained a certain average speed through the villages I could get pretty close to 6 hours. Felt abit emotional at this point as I realised I was having the race of my life!  Gave the support team a wave as I went past them a second time and  pushed on for the final section and came to T2 very pleased to get off  my bike(as much as I love it) but jubilant with my time so far.

 

Once again just took my time in T2 making sure I did everything I needed to to feel as comfortable as possible. I have regretted not putting vaselene around the armholes before a long run before and did not want to get sore arms from rubbing seams at this point…so half a tub went round my armpits!

 

Shoes on, hat on and off I trotted onto the run course….it was awesome, the crowds were in party mood and I heard my name being called over and over(we had our names on our numbers).The support all around the 10km loop was fantastic, it is difficult to describe but it really does carry you,keeps you strong and fills you with emotion. Heard my brilliant support crew yelling to me and went over to have a quick word with them, letting them know I was feeling ok. Off I set on the loop which took us through the city centre on cobbles and into a park which undulated up and down on a gravel type path.It was a challenging loop and certainly not flat. The aid stations were excellent and situated at approximately 2km intervals. This made the loop manageable as I knew that water, electrolytes, ice and sponges were never too far away.

 

I ran the first 20km well and my plan was to run the first 26km then see how I felt(26km was my longest training run). Unfortunately I could start to feel knee pain as I approached 25km and had to adopt a run/walk/ice/stretch strategy. I felt very frustrated but did not fall apart and simply re adjusted my finishing goal time.

 

As I went past Mum, Dad and Jimmy the fourth time I explained what was happening but gave them all a hug and grinned as I knew I was nearing the end of an epic day and even with having to walk/run I was going to smash my previous best time.

 

I cannot put into words what I felt as I came round the end of that fourth run loop into the finishers chute. All I  can say is that all the pain and tiredness falls away for those few moments and pure elation carries you across the finish line.

 

Apparently I had a huge smile on my face!

 

My finish time was 11:54, a time I am delighted with!

 

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who sent such lovely messages before and after the race, and to my Mum, Dad and Jimmy for their immense support always.

 

I also want to say a massive well done to Jim and Karl, who both completed their first IM events –  brilliant the both of them!

 

Three days later I am starting to walk normally again……

 

 

ETU European Long Course Champs

July 1st, 2010

ETU European Long Distance Champs (4/120/30)I seem to be blessed with racing in beautiful parts of the world this year.

I have never been to northern Spain before and have been bowled over by how spectacular the area is.

So the journey began by sitting for 90 mins on the tarmac at Stanstead airport from 7am thanks to a French air traffic control dispute. The poor cabin crew did not know what had hit them, they filled the time busily feeding and watering the hungry triathletes on board….we must have cleared the on board supplies!

Eventually we got underway and 1 hour 40 mins later landed at Bilbao airport where we were met by our travel hosts, Nirvana travel.

As the coach wound its way up through the hills surrounding Bilbao I got my first look at the beautiful countryside of the Basque region.We arrived at the hotel and settled in, got some food (eating seems to feature alot I remember).

When I am away on trips for competing the most important things for me to sort are getting food and water,putting the bike together and registering for the event,pretty much in that order. Managed to get the first two done and took the bike out to check all was in order.

The city of Vitoria- Gastiez is a cyclists dream, it is full of cycling lanes with their own traffic lights integrated into the road traffic system – makes for very safe and stress free cycling.

With this event T1 and T2 were in different places, with T1 at the lake 17km away from the main race venue so we knew that we would have to be organised to get bikes racked at the lake before  race day etc.

All this stuff is normally sorted out at the race briefing. We were told that the race briefing had been moved from the main race venue,at the stadium, to a building in the old town, which was about 30 mins walk away. We got a lift with Nirvana up there but then had to walk for quite a way through the old town to where we were told the briefing was to be held. It was a team bonding moment as many of us wandered about in the heat trying to find the venue. No signposts, no A boards outside a building..in fact …nothing! Eventually we found a tiny doorway into a church type building that had an A4 piece of paper put in the window declaring athletes briefing.

Our poor team managerand several of the team did not manage to find it atall.Fortunately the meeting was not too long and we all got back to the hotel tired, ready to eat and get some sleep. It had been a long day.

Friday, day before race day dawned warm and sunny and I got out early to do my pre race session. There were several things that needed to get done on Friday, the most important being registering and getting the various race bags to T1 and T2. Both transitions needed to be set up on Friday.

The race organisers had detailed how we were going to be taken up to T1 on coaches then brought back to set up T2. We had been told that we would not be able to get into T2 on race morning so everything we needed for the run section had to be left in transitionon Friday.

Registration was easy and straight forward and I decided that I would give the lake reccie that had been organised a miss, choosing to get my feet up for a few hours instead. It is easy to get carried away at team events doing too much before the race. I figured I would see the lake when I racked the bike in the late afternoon!

After a restful afternoon we assembled at the stadium with our bikes and colour coded transition bags to be dropped off. I am not sure the coach drivers had been told they were taking a load of people with bikes on their coaches and I watched with horror as they opened the baggage holds up!

We actually travelled with our bikes on the coach with us! The journey up gave us a chance to reccie a bit of the bike course, which seemed mainly up hill and twisty turny.

The lake was very spectacular and racking the bike was sorted pretty quickly. However we then found ourselves waiting for the coach to take us back for ages…an hour later we were told that the coaches were not picking us up where they had dropped us…aahhh. We agreed this was turning out to be a trip that was training us to be a good at waiting.

So, having walked to where the coaches now were, back to T2 we went and laid out our yellow run bags.

Back at the hotel I put together my last minute bits for the morning and tried to get some sleep. I cannot say that the pre race care of the athletes had been perfect but I had got everything done as Ineeded to and just needed to go and race.

Race day promised to be another scorcher and the excitement was building as we all got ready to race. It was brilliant to see the elites with us in transition.

We had Jodie Swallow competing and the current Xtrerra champ, Eneko Llanos was also there.

Before we knew it it was race start time, a beach start. The klaxon went and I launched myself into the lake. A few fast strokes and I found clear water. The lake temp was perfect, in fact the lake was perfect. I settled into my pace for the 1 x 4k loop. I had a completely clear swim and was out of the water in 58 mins, I had had  an amazing swim leg and couldn’t wait to get on the bike.

Through T1 and out onto the bike course. It was 2 loops of an undulating, rolling course, twisting up and down and through the breathtaking countryside.

The support from the locals in the villages the course passed through was brilliant. The support of people passing in cars was brilliant and also of the many groups of cyclists. It occurred to me how sad it is that we cycle in our country where there is not such a deep love and culture of cycling.

The marshalls were excellent both in directing and on the feed stations. On long course events it is essential that there is enough fuel and water for every athlete and as we females were last to go there were concerns that by the time we got to the feed stations supplies would be low or run out.Not so…I was really impressed with the support on the bike course.

I felt great cycling, at Bala two weeks before I had struggled on the bike…this was very different. As I went past T2 on the first loop the crowds were cheering like mad and the atmosphere was awesome.

The second loop was quieter but I felt strong and came into T2 with a time of 3 hrs 56. I was delighted.Through T2, I organised my gels and drink for the run…they were absolutely baking, having sat in the sun all day!

My electrolyte drinkwas like tea! The run consisted of 3 x 10k loops through a park and the local streets, with no shade. The temps were hitting 30 plus degrees and I soon realised I was more dehydrated than I had thought.

I adopted a run/walk strategy for the fist loop to rehydrate and get myself together. The second loop was better, the sun went in and it was hot but cloudy and the respite from the sun was welcome. The third loop was tough,the heat was brutal, a lot of people were walking by this point.

I went back to the first loop strategy and dug in to get finished. I was very grateful to see Jimmy at the start of each loop giving me good encouragement and keeping me focused!

And finish I did. The team manager handed me a Union Jack to wave as I crossed the finish line. I was very pleased to stop!! I had done it in8 hrs 06, a time I was delighted with.

I would like to mention a French competitor, an older man, probably 60 plus who completed the course in 11 hours 59. He had cramped on the run course and was in agony but he carried on and finished.

We were at the stadium to see him cross the line and I found it so inspirational.The human spirit is an amazing thing… after he had had a moment to collect himself they led him over to the podium and helped him up…he had won his age group!!It was a totally brilliant moment, very moving and one I won’t forget.

I was very proud to stand on the podium to receive my silver, and I shall treasure it.All in all a great race, in a beautiful part of the world, supportedby lovely people.

Paula

Finding positivity when you need it

April 3rd, 2010

Almost as soon as I land in Lanzarote my mind leaps into action. It is teeming with ideas and thoughts…indeed it becomes an inspired piece of thinking machinery!

 Why do we have places we visit that do that to us? I believe it is to do with the fact they are places that we associate with good times. Lanzarote is where I go to do all the things I love to do without the day to day business associated with being at home.

 I also believe it is important to have places we can retreat to in order to refresh and regenerate our minds and muscles. I am sure most of us can think of places that are special to us, places that give us a sense of freedom and peace.

 Obviously it is not always possible to visit these places when we need peace, refreshment or inspiration but it is possible to recreate that place within ourselves in order to get the same feelings and therefore the same benefits as if we were there.

 NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming has provided us with the necessary tools and practices to enable us to do this very thing. It just requires and quiet and comfortable place.

 If you set yourself down somewhere comfortable and just think of that place that holds special memories and good feelings. Think of the time(s) you have spent there. Think about the things you would have seen there, the things you heard or said there and all the good feelings you have felt there. See if you can step back into that time/place in your mind and re experience it. Spend a few minutes in this state of being and harness all the feelings. Chances are that when you emerge from that state you will be feeling upbeat, energised and positive. Then use that positive energy!

 Having done this you can then re conjure all that positivity whenever you need it just by practising the above technique. There is strong evidence to suggest that the more we use techniques such as this, the more productive, effective and positive we can be. The beauty this technique is that we can apply it to all areas of life including our sport!

 Happy Training

 Paula

Complete Coaching

I turned to triathlon after rupturing my Achilles tendon playing football. After 18 months recuperation I was determined to get fit and was inspired by a local triathlon and vowed that this would be my new lifestyle changing sport. V02 Maximum's tailored coaching programme gave me the confidence to train for my 1st year of Triathlon. I have now done 5 events and am absolutely hooked. It may sound trite but V02 Maximum and Triathlon have changed my life for the better and I can't thank them enough for their focussed programme and dedication that has enabled me to compete.

Steve (Sevenoaks, Kent, UK)

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