Triathlon gear for your first Ironman

Making a decision to do your first Ironman must be taken seriously. It requires 12-6 months of training, through 3-4 different seasons. One of the first choices to make, before you start training, is what Triathlon gear you choose to use.
Be ready to be shocked, as there is more than you might first imagine. The ideal is to have good quality Triathlon gear, which will last you 12 months of training. If you choose to continue racing Ironman you can upgrade. There is a noticeable difference in performance, comfort and longevity of more expensive Triathlon gear.
What do you need? In summary, you need triathlon gear for the Swim, Bike and Run. The most expensive items will be your Triathlon bike and Triathlon wetsuit. You will need additional gear for colder climates for each sport. There is also nutritional supplementation, transitional and race day kit e.g race belt, transition box, and bike box.
There are several websites which can provide Triathlon Gear at better prices ( and These are useful if buying simple items like bike computer, googles etc. For items which require correct fitting e.g. wetsuits, bike, and bike shoes, it is best to go to a reputable Triathlon Store.
Most athletes who take on Ironman have trained in one or more of the triathlon sports. In this case there will be less Triathlon gear to buy. If you are starting from scratch, you could spend the following amounts in each area of triathlon (estimates for good quality Triathlon Gear for 12 months of training) Swim £500 including wetsuit, Bike £2500 including bike and bike computer, Run £200, nutritional supplementation £200, Race day £300 including bike box. Additional expenses would be flights and accommodation costs on race day, entry fee for the race (£500) and coaching.
Physical Edge (  hopes this information is useful. We specialising in helping athletes race Ironman for the first time. If you want to know more about coaching costs and training,  do get in touch with us and we look forward to talking Ironman with you.

Physical Edge Tri Team completes first ever Olympic distance triathlon

27th May 2012

The Physical Edge Tri Team completed the Nuffield Health Olympic Distance Triathlon at Dorney Lake  (2012 Olympic venue for Rowing). The team consisted of Stacey Millett-Clay, Anna-Maria Skucinska and Rhys Chong. It was the first time the team had ever raced together, and it was the first triathlon Stacey and Anna-Maria had ever done.

The weather was beautiful and the scene was set for a fast race. Stacey started the swim; she had left her goggles at home and had to borrow a new pair from Rhys. Down the first leg of the swim the goggles filled up with water twice; she trod water to empty the goggles and then started again. The swim field consisted mostly of men, and so Stacey had to swim most of the race alone. In the final straight towards the finish her calf cramped, but she was determined to finish and so swam mainly with her arms. It was a gutsy performance for Stacey to finish. She limped out of the water to hand the timing chip to Rhys for the beginning of the bike leg.

The bike leg was 8 laps around  Dorney Lake. The wind was strong against the riders down one half of the course. Rhys used the wind to his advantage leaving the start-finish line, reaching 35 -40km per hour; however returning to the start-finish line his speed dropped to 25 – 28km per hour. He paced himself for the first 7 laps to leave himself enough energy for a strong finish in the final lap. He timed it perfectly and rode strongly down the final straight towards the finish line against the wind. He overtook several riders and ran into transition with his bike to hand the timing chip to Anna-Maria.

Anna-Maria had been nervous all day as she was the lynch pin of the team running the final leg. She took off quickly knowing that she needed to finish within 54 minutes if the team were to complete the time of 2 hours  50 minutes, which they’d set before the race. In the first 2 laps she was running at the required pace but on the third lap the heat got to her. She had to walk twice on the way out from Dorney Lake because the heat was suffocating. She pulled herself together to finish strong on the way back towards the finish line. She crossed the finishing line exhausted and dehydrated.

Stacey, Anna-Maria and Rhys enjoyed the day. The race kept everyone on their toes and each person pushed hard in their discipline for the triathlon. The team however did not know at first what times they’d achieved for each individual discipline. Before the race Stacey said she would swim 1500m in 36 minutes; Rhys said he would ride the bike leg in 1 hour 20 minutes; and Anna Maria said she would run 10km in 54 minutes. That made the total time for the race 2 hours 50 minutes – and if we added in each transition of 1.5 – 2 minutes, the total time estimated to complete the triathlon was 2 hours and 54 minutes.

The team printed the results out from a computer and were keen to see if the way we felt about our races was a reflection of how fast we had actually been. The results read: Swim – 36 minutes and 57 seconds; T1- 1minute and 22 seconds: Cycle – 1 hour, 22 minutes and 23 seconds; T2 – 55 seconds; Run – 55 minutes and 13 seconds. The total time for the race was 2 hours, 56 minutes and 51 seconds.  The Physical Edge Tri team had only come 2 minutes and 51 seconds outside the time they’d set before the race. It was a surprise to us all that we were able to finish so close to our estimated time. It was a great success for the Physical Edge Tri Team; the benchmark has been set for following team triathlons from Physical Edge.

If you would like to get involved with triathlon, or enter a team as an individual for an Olympic distance triathlon, email us for information at

Reentering the Etape

It has been a great week. At first I thought the Etape wasn’t possible this year but things have evolved and I have been given the opportunity and time to race again. I have snapped it up with eager hands and am back into training again.

I feel I am not in the best condition for the event because I have not entered any other events to prepare me for the hill climbing. I have rested for 2 weeks and my hill climbing in and around London is no comparison to the hills in France.

I spoke to my Coach (Fran) and he has said I must commit 3 x week t training, plus one gym session and train overseas to get to know what real hill climbing is all about. The advice he has given me has stimulated me into action. I am checking I still have an entry into the Etape next week. If it is still available I will be on a flight out of London on Friday to train in Portugal with Sigma sports associated coach, Flash. He will train me 3 full days on hill after hill until I break. I hope this gives my body the experience it needs to learn how to hill climb  in France.

This week I have done a time trial around Richmond Park. I finally cracked 20 minutes with an anticlockwise lap of 19.52. I have told to do 3 laps in 60 minutes. If my coach sets me three laps I will aim to complete this target.

Today I went out for a 4 hour bike ride with my Ironman friend. I decided to ride as many hills as I could find in Surrey and we did long hills ranging in gradient from 3%-13%. We avoided boxhill as there were more challenging hills to climb. On the way home I ran low on energy. My legs were painful climbing  up the hills and I pushed hard t get to Sigma Sports in Kingston. It was a pleasure to get off the bike after such a hard ride. It hit home again how much hill climbing I have to do before the event.

I went to the Sigma Sports sale and picked up half price Specialized bike shoes and a racing top. The shoes were so comfortable to wear and gripped my foot with three straps to help me hill climb. On the way home I took three gel shots as I felt like I needed them. It was a slow ride home and finally getting home I ate a big plate of pasta with cheese. Probably not the best food but I was soooo hungry.

I noticed hill climbing made me eat and drink more than normal and because I did no crab load I ran out of energy. I plan to crab load on future rides and take more food with me.

I am interested in what my coach gives me next week and if I go to Portugal this will be a totally new training experience. This is helping me understand the effect of cycling on the body and what to do best to prepare for rides and recover. Until next week I will sign off  a much happier cyclist.

Week 9 total rest

My Coach Fran has given me the week off to recover from the middle distance triathlon. It has been great in allowing my muscles to recover and my legs are almost back to normal.

I had a massage two days after the event and the next day  my hamstring and quads felt better and I could walk easier. I have been physically tired from working during the week and some late nights. I feel mentally fresh which I think is important going into the next phase of training.

I have noticed I can get short tempered occasionally and there is still an element of physical fatigue from the event. I am trying to keep my diary clear as much as possible to rest.

I took my bike into the mechanics yesterday and the clicking that was coming from the pedals has something to do with the bottom bracket. I am taking it into the shop for a service on June 7 but I can still use the bike in the mean time. I have also set up the Garmin 705 onto the aero bars to plan long rides. This is a fantastic piece of kit and will be invaluable in the next 8 weeks of training.

The rubber band on my profile bottle snapped this weekend. I was able to find one on the Wiggle website for £2. Wiggle is fantastic to use.

I am now waiting for my coaches instructions for the next weeks training plan. I am concerned I will be away for three weekends during this time. Fran will be good at adjusting the training plan but I will be doing some long sessions during the week.

Week 17 Great swim advice, cramping and multivitamins, coaching on the bike, packing bike into bike case


Swim coaching

I went for swim training with Emile as I was concerned about my elbow pain, tightness in my fingers, and a shifting of my body to the right when swimming in the lanes. It was a great session to check on the technical side of the my stroke and give me further advice on what to concentrate on as I swim.

He explained that sometimes swimming does cause medial elbow pain. This is because swimming is a repetitive sport and no matter how much we play with the technique the pain can still be present. Sometimes it is an adaption to swimming and with time the pain can get less.

He looked at my swimming overall and we re videoed it from the front and side. My timing of stroke looked like I was pushing through the water and then relaxing, pushing through the water and then relaxing, and this was a constant occurence. This was inefficient because I was losing momentum from the push phase. He wanted me to speed up the recovery phase of my arm so that I would start the catch phase sooner.

He also mentioned my elbow pain may come from a strong pull of my arm in the catch phase. This stressed the medial elbow. He advised me to move my arm slower in the catch phase and once my elbow was high in the water and my arm perpendicular to the bottom of the pool I was to push hard. I am not the most coordinated when it comes to changing several elements in the swimming stroke all at once. Making my arm move faster in the recovery and then altering the catch and push part of the stroke was not easy.

To help my finger cramping Emile said it was ok to have a slight gap between the fingers. If I hold them too tight they will cramp. This made a big difference and now I swim more relaxed in the hands.

To keep me straight in the water Emile got me to look ahead and make sure I leave a gap to see though to the end of the pool as my hands entered the water.  If my hands crossed I would start to swim to one side of the lane. He also got me to side bend my hand to the outer sides of the lane each time my hand entered the water. This helped create the gap between them and I could see to the end of the pool.  The line on the bottom of the pool was also useful as I could stroke my hands on either side of the lane.

On the video we also noticed my head was down. Since swimming in the pool I had started to look down at the bottom of the pool. I did this because it made me feel stronger in the swimming for some reason. I now look slightly forward to get my forehead just above the water line. Emile was happy with the rotation of my body and position of my body as I swim.

To summarise: The three key points with the swim are…

1. Faster recovery and slow catch with strong push through in the water

2. Keep hands separated as they entered the water so I swam straight

3. Keep head up

Medical advice for cramping

I had a 2 hour medical examination during the week. I went to a medical centre with a holistic approach to treating medical conditions. The doctor was from New Zealand and lived what he prescribed. I told him my toes were cramping in the pool and my hamstrings and calf muscles were getting tight with running. I told him I had been drinking 4 litres of water a day. I also explained that despite all the training when I walked up steep stairs I would get breathless.

He immediately identified the following…drinking 4 litres of water a day would leech me of minerals and I needed a multi mineral, especially magnesium, in my diet. My skin was dry and I was not getting enough Omega 3,6,9.  My body was getting acidic with the training and work. It did not have enough alkalinity to buffer the acidic build up. When I walk up stairs this imbalance produced more Carbon Dioxide and I would breathe faster and get breathless.

Since this assessment I have added a multivitamin, Udos oil (I had started with Udo’s oil but stopped as it was a hassle to continue to order it), and I will be adding Greens (alkalinity drink) and PH drops to my water. The latter will change the PH of water to 9 (very alkaline). I have noticed my toes do not cramp in the water with the last swim I did. I need to assess the effect on my running over the next two weeks. I will not be able to start the Greens until I get back to London.

Bike coaching

I went out for a bike ride with my coach Fran. We rode to Windsor and back and he wanted to assess my riding technique and my strength on the bike. He taught me how to signal to each other when  riding together e.g how to indicate holes in the road, passing another cyclist or parked car and when he wanted me to take the lead.  I followed him for the first 10 km to see how he was riding. We went up the steepest hill in Richmond Park and he destroyed me. He was so much faster up the hill and immediately had my respect. At anytime he could speed up and leave me behind.

We rode out and he made me sit in aero position and do some speed work. We did some time trialling and he watched the gears I used as I rode. He thought I was a stong cyclist and he was pleased with the technique on my bike. He noticed I was chosing to ride in good gears.

The areas I needed to reassess were…

1. Riding too fast as I would blow my legs out for the run

2. Keep riding in gears that felt like was working but also felt a nice and easy cadence

3. keep up leg weight training for strength and power on the bike

I normally get back pain on the bike but this time I concentrated on recruiting my back muscles correctly as I was riding and I had the most comfortable 3 hour ride I have ever had. Being a physio really helps but this can be trained if you learn to be aware of your body and how to recruit the right muscles. A physio  who understands cycling can help in this area if you are having problems.

I managed to get through a busy week at work and packing to head to NZ and get the training completed. I am looking forward to training in NZ.

Packing my bike in a bike case

Packing my bike in the DHB bike case was a major learning curve. Wiggle had photos on how to put it in the case and this was a major help.  I still had trouble getting the handle bars to fit properly and I did not realise until the day I was leaving I had to take the pedals off the cranks. I tried taking the pedals off with a screw driver but this did not work. At the last-minute I called Evans bike shop, Fulham, in a panic. A search on the internet explained a pedal wrench would help lever the pedals off the cranks. To my relief Evans sold them and I bought a wrench with the longest arm to lever the pedals off. It is very important to know which direction to turn the wrench to get the pedals off. It is counter-clockwise for the right leg (when sitting on the bike) and clockwise for the left leg.

I managed to get the handles bars into the case at a right angle to picture shown by wiggle. I will take a video and put it on my youtube sight in the next two weeks to help all you travelling Ironman athletes.

This was a long blog but lots to tell this week. I will training in NZ the next 9 to 14 days. The updates will come when I am at a computer. Running is still a problem area with tightness in right hamstring and left calf. I want to solve this soon as my running is my weakest discipline.

Mistake with training and 95km on the bike

This weeks training started well with Fran changing my weight training to power training. This eased the pressure on my calf muscles and my legs felt better overall.

I had my massage on Monday with Michelle and my legs were feeling the best so far heading into my three hard ride sessions and run. First training was the swim and my confidence was better after completing the 1500 m swim last friday. I focussed on technique, in particular, trying to get my body into a side on position as I pulled through with my arm (like a fish). The second session was swimming 500m, 400m and then 200m with short rest periods. I am finally starting to feel the breathing easier in the water and I can complete longer distances. I had to revert back to the 17.7 m pool and hope to get into the 33 m pool more often.

The first bike session of the week involved 10 sprints up the steepest hill in Richmond called Kingston hill. I really pushed hard and I got my heart rate up to 85-90 percent of my heart rate. I noticed each time my chest was starting to hurt. I was thinking it could be my heart and on the 7th repetition my legs slowed up completely and I felt faint.

I watched my heart rate monitor and could see my heart rate was lowering and raising in a normal fashion. I decided to take the last 3 repetitions easier and kept my heart rate around 80-85%. My chest pains calmed and my breathing was better. It still took me 1.5 hours to complete the training and it shattered me for the days work.

The very next day I ran 1.15 hours around Battersea and my legs felt better as they were looser. The first lap was stiff but the second lap I really picked up the speed. Fran my coach gave me advice on using my arms to help pull my legs along and it made the biggest difference I have ever noticed with running.

I was trained to keep my arms lower to conserve energy but Fran says keep them higher and use my chest and arm muscles to rotate my body and facilitate leg movement. I completed 3 laps of Battersea Park and my legs felt strong and free. Using my arms has given me some control over helping my legs to run.

I made a big mistake with the following days bike ride. Fran gave me instructions to ride at a relaxed 90 RPM for 30 minutes with a 10 minute warm up and cool down. I misread it as maintaining 90% of maximum heart rate for 30 minutes. I thought Fran was crazy and how did he expect me to maintain this heart rate for 30 minutes.

I trusted Fran and took on the challenge to ride at 90% MHR for 30 minutes. I struggled to get the heart rate to 90% and when I did I could only maintain it for 10-30 seconds. I felt defeated but did repetitions of 90%MHR with little rests in between. I called Fran and told him he had set an impossible task. He corrected me on my training plan and warned me I may have overtrained for the week.

He was right as the next day I decided not to run and two days later my legs were stiff and sore. I went for my long bike ride this morning and my legs felt tired as I was leaving the house. I had 3.20 hours to ride and this was not going to be comfortable.

The first 2-3 laps around Richmond felt tiring and my quadriceps were fatigued. I eat pieces of power bar and drank my SIS carb drink every lap (20 minutes). On the 4th and 5th lap I felt better and my riding got stronger. I am not sure if the energy from the power bars helped or my body just responded to the riding. I could climb hills strongly and on the flats my legs felt better.

On lap  7 I started to fade. My legs got heavy and all I wanted to do was get around the course. My cadence stayed the same but my speed dropped as I stayed in higher gears. By lap 8 it was the furthest I had ever ridden. I misjudged the distance around the park and actually rode 3.40 hours.

My body was fatigued and I imagined being at home lying on the floor under the sun and resting. I got home and to my surprise I had ridden 95 km. This is half Ironman distance and longest I have ever ridden. It was a major achievement and milestone to hit this distance.

I know I must double this distance for the Ironman but I am now hitting distances my body has never experienced before. I like this idea and I can learn what happens to my body and how it adapts to different training strategies.

I will use my GPS to track some routes out of Richmond Park for the coming rides. Fran will be taking me out next Sunday for my long bike ride.

I have my compression garments on and I am feeling good after the long bike ride. I am enjoying this experience and hope my body continues to adapt in a positive manner.

I have added in a stretching session on a Wednesday after my runs. I stretch on a mat and also use the power plate to massage my legs and stretch. The combination of stretching and massage is helping. I also massage my own legs after the long bike and stretch.

I can see training is starting to pick up and the distances are fast becoming a reality. I must keep a positive mindset for the training and event on the 25 July.

Week 23: learning as I go and fitting in training

This last week has been a test of my endurance. I have just finished a physio course this weekend and managed to get all my training in for the week. When I have a course on all weekend I can not take my time with my training or rest afterwards. I know I have another 3 weekends of courses before the ironman and it does not do my head any good thinking about what those weeks will involve with training and work.

In the last two weeks I have had little things happen as I have been traning and each time I am  learning  how to fix the problems. On a three-hour ride the crank and pedal came loose. I stopped at a bike shop in Putney and it was fixed with an 8mm Alan key so I bought one in case this happens in the future. The  light on my bike fell onto the road as I  rode over bumps and now I  know to check it is on properly before I ride. The levers that secure my wheel to my bike came loose and so I do a bike check before I ride to Richmond Park.

There are many things that happen when training and it continues to change every week. Being adaptable and flexible is a key to making life manageable with training. I tell myself I must stop taking on social events and from now until July my weeks and weekends have been planned. I like my weekends being free of commitments to rest from training, work and recovering for my long bike rides.

I spoke to Fran (Coach) and he has is now worried about my running as I have not run outside since my injuries. This week I did run to Battersea Park and I discovered the track around the Park had flat surfaces. When the surfaces are sloped it irritates my ITB friction syndrome. Good to know I can run on good surface and it is close to work.

My body is adapting to the training. I can ride up the hills in Richmond Park seated on the bike and breathing easily. It was great to run outside and this will be my focus to improve. It freaks me out a little knowing how many weeks I have remaining before the event. Time to put in harder training.

Cold weather changing training

The weather in London this year has been freezing. It is 0 to negative degree temperatures and ice is on the roads. I may not be running at the moment but the riding has had to stop.

It is really disappointing I have not been able to get consistency in my training as I feel I would be a lot stronger now had the consistency occurred. I have not squatted in the gym for three weeks. My legs are getting stronger for swimming as this is what I have focussed on in the last two weeks.

I am had two massages on the leg by Michelle Pollard and it has made a big difference to my leg injury. I immediately had less pain with walking down stairs and walking along the pavement. I went for a very slow run this week on the treadmill for a couple of minutes and there was no pain.

I am on a break for one week and Fran has said no training. I am resting ready for the push in January. Real training

Frozen fingers on bike ride

Fran wanted me to ride for 1.5 hours this morning. The temperature outside was 0 degrees celsius but when riding a bike with wind chill the temperature had to be below 0 degrees. I was looking forward to using all the winter gear I had bought and was confident going out.

I was only half way around Richmond and my fingers started to freeze. I had gloves which were obviously too thin. I persisted riding and after completing one lap I had to stop. My fingers hurt so much it was unbearable to ride anymore. I stopped and put my fingers under my armpits for 5 minutes. Once they were warm I rode with my hands in a fist to protect the ends of the fingers. I went straight home and warmed them up.

I will try ski gloves next and I will also put on a second layer of socks as my toes were starting to get cold as well. My training is definitely inconsistent at the moment and I wish I could train in warm weather all year-round.

Lets see if the ski gloves are too thick to wear on the bike next weekend.

Getting myself prepared.

I went away on holiday and bought the Triatlete’s World magazine to read. There are some great tips in the magazine to use during the event and also for buying equipment and looking after my equipment.

An article by Sean Kelly, GB swm coach and Speedo ambassador described some swim drills to save energy before the bike and run.  Some drills I take away are to practice taking as few strokes as I can and kick as little as possible each length, relax and imagine the forces hitting me from the front. Stretch out with my arms and stay streamlined to make the hole in front of me small. Practice sighting a target in front every 8-10 strokes. Use a buoy between the legs to simulate  the buoancy of a wet suit. To keep fresh legs aim for a two beat kick for every two arm cycles.

Another article highlighted the importance of nutrition. If transition is the fourth discipline then nutrition is the fifth. It seems getting the balance right for the event is key to a good race and this has to be tested for each individual. Finding out what works best for me is important before race day.

Tips for nutrition I will take away are to hydrate days up to the event and only sip water 30 minutes before the race to stop dry mouth. After the swim wait for 10 minutes before eating because the body may struggle with the transition and diverting blood flow to the stomach might cause problems.

Richard McChesney, an ironman veteran, sets his watch every 15 minutes during the race. Every 15 minutes he takes a sip of Gel and water. He eats sandwiches as his stomach does not tolerate commercial food.

On race day only eat and drink what I know. Avoid high concentration drinks so mix Gel and water in bottles. I will definitely use Power bars as I like these as a solid energy source. I will practice drinking on the run.

I am tossing up whether to purchase a new bike. Having lighter wheels and  better aerodynamic bike appears to help. Some ironman athletes I know have a bike for training and another bike for racing. The Zipp wheels get great reviews. Learnt the difference between Clincher and Tubular tyres. Think the Tubulars are the way to go and faster to change. Also learnt to reverse the front and back tyres every few months as they wear differently and also how to adjust the pressure in the types for  less resistance or a smoother ride.

Equipment I must buy are Cyclone Chain Scrubber (£27.99, Finish Liquid Degreaser (£12.49, Finish Line Speed Degreaser (£10.99, to keep my chain in good condition.

There is a lot of information available to read and it can get daunting reading so much and knowing what is best. I am looking forward to seeing Dr Justin Roberts at the end of the month to give me nutritional and physiological training advice. I think I need to get a decent training program first and then as I get more experienced I will know what equipment I want.