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 (www.eurekacyclesports.co.uk and www.wiggle.co.uk). 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 (www.physical-edge.com)  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.
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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 mail@physical-edge.com.

Personal Training series: Running shoes and running biomechanics

There are many shoes on the market at the moment for running. Running biomechanics have taken a big shift in the last 5 years.  Running brands such as Asics, Brooks and  Saucony have created shoes which are designed to prevent collapsing of the foot, or increased cushioning for those people with high arches. The general understanding of biomechanics and these types of shoes, is one which involves a heel strike pattern. In this pattern the heel will hit the ground first, the heel of the shoe absorbs the shock; the heel then controls the foot as it passes through mid stance and toe off.

Conventional shoes have worked over time for some people; however for others they have not made any difference, and some people who wear these shoes are still prone to knee, hip and lower back pain. When running with a heel strike pattern it is thought that as the heel strikes in front of the body there is a vertical force passed back up through the leg, the hip, the groin, the knee, and the lower back and that this results in injury.

Over the last 5 years there has been a wealth of research and contentious debate over the benefits of forefoot running. Forefoot running is where a person runs landing more towards the mid and front of their foot, instead of the heel being the first point of contact when the foot hits the ground during running. The foot also lands underneath the body and the stress imposed on joints are reduced.

Support for forefoot running comes from practical demonstrations on treadmills. When someone walks on a treadmill they have a characteristic heel strike pattern; however as the speed of the treadmill is increased they naturally start to run more towards the mid and forefoot. It has been theorised that the body is not designed to run with a heel strike pattern. When videoed at a faster speed on the treadmill the foot can be seen to strike more towards the mid foot and spring off. When seen at its best – like in Olympic marathon runners – the foot will actually hit the ground under the body; it is then kicked up behind their back using the hamstring muscles, before quickly returning to land again directly under the body.

The theory that running on the forefoot reduces joint pressure has been researched. With forefoot running the force of the body passes directly up through the body vertically –thereby relying upon the natural cushioning effect of the quads and the hip muscles. If the body is stiff enough – and the biomechanics are correct – the knee and hip joints can absorb the repetitive loading of running and hence reduce injury to the joints.

There are now shoes which have been adapted for forefoot running. Vivo barefoot is one of these companies and has created a range of shoes designed for walking right through to cross country running. Forefoot running shoes are designed to have minimalistic cushioning in the foot. These shoes are designed for the foot to feel the ground and reaction forces of the ground as the foot hits the floor. When the foot can feel the landing onto the floor, it can stimulate muscles to fire and get immediate push off onto the opposite leg. The soles of these shoes are very thin and Vivo Barefoot have described the sole to being as close to skin depth as possible.

Clients have reported they enjoy using these shoes. They feel completely different to thick soled shoes. They also give a refreshing feel to the foot at contact with the ground. The key is that this ‘feel’ will stimulate better muscular activity, shock absorption and reduction injuries. There are many successful runners in Olympics and World Championships who do not have a forefoot running pattern. It is not advised that everyone run on their forefoot – and a physiotherapist and trainer will be able to tell whether your body is capable of withstanding the pressure required to learn how to forefoot run.

Recently a trainer started forefoot running; it has taken 4 months for him to be able to run on his forefoot for 10km continuous running. To change to a forefoot running pattern requires significant adaptation and change within the body. The runner must allow time for this adaptation to occur because if they push themselves too hard and too fast in training injuries will occur.

I believe forefoot running biomechanics seems to make sense; however I have also seen that not everyone is prepared to take the time to learn how to forefoot run and people who run heel strike can still become world champions.

If you want to learn how to forefoot run it is important that you see a forefoot running coach – such as a physiotherapist who has experience, or an independent specialised coach.

First 2.5 hour run, 4km swim and 5 hour bike ride

I was looking forward to this weeks training as I was starting to train the bigger distances and I wanted to know if my body would remain pain free.

The run was first and, as it is my weakest discipline, I was not sure how the legs would cope. I finished a day of work and raced home to start running. I think working all day and not eating well at work can make the run difficult because my energy levels are lower.

In the first 1.15 hours I focussed on keeping a race pace to avoid my hamstrings getting tight early in the run. I ran from Putney to Ealing Broadway and felt good. The outside of my knees were getting tight but I kept the pace going and my legs were  not getting worse.

I was feeling good with 10mins left to run so I started to run faster. This was a big mistake as a muscle in my right foot cramped. It felt like tearing in my foot and I was concerned it was my plantarfascia. I slowed right down and kept a slow jog to see if it would wear off. It lessened enough for me to hobble home and I wanted to make sure there would be no long term problems. Being a physiotherapist has it benefits at times like this and when I assessed it I could see it was only a muscle cramp as I first thought. With Massage and rest it would ease out completely. The next long run is next week and I plan to take it slow all the way home.

The swim was at the Lido pool in Tooting Bec. I chose to swim here because it was 90 metres long and I could wear my wetsuit in the pool. I trained at the end of a days work and was tired getting into the pool. I also had to rush to get there before it closed and it was not ideal mentally or physically to train in this state.

I got in the pool and it was cold. I had 44 lengths to swim and even though I had a wetsuit on I could feel the cold right through it. To make 44 lengths mentally smaller I counted the first 4 lengths down to zero and then divided the last 40 laps into 4 sets of 10 laps.

I was swimming slowly and I wanted to feel relaxed and focus on my technique. Other swimmers were passing me and it was really disappointing but I stuck to my plan. By the 34th lap I was feeling the cold and I did not kick much to save cramping in my legs. I finished the 44 laps in 1.26 hours. I called Emile my swim coach as this was much slower than I anticipated. He said it was a good time and he could check my technique and work on kicking more to help me go faster. There is still time to improve my swim time with 5 weeks to go before the Ironman. The wetsuit rubbed excessively on the back of my neck and left skin abrasions. I have put savlon healing cream on the damaged skin and hope it heals fast before my next swim. I have Glide to put on my skin in the next swim. This helps reduce friction with the wetsuit.

Today I rode 5 hours and then ran 30mins. Got lost heading to Windsor and back to London but got there in the end. The last 1 hour was tiring and I could feel my legs were aching. The run went well and I had energy after finishing so I was happy. I kept a slow pace throughout the ride and this allowed me to complete the entire ride comfortably.

The discipline that causes me the most pain is the running. I will see next week how my legs cope with a 3 hour run. I am still enjoying the training and the enormity of the race still is in the back of my mind.

Three days of training for the week

This week my coach had to fit training into three days as I have been away on a business course. He put a long run immediately after my long ride and my legs were fatigued. This was good transition training.

I was concerned the niggling pains in my legs would get worse however they made it through the run. My legs are adapting as my coach explained last week. I noticed I am so slow with running but I am happy I can make the time set for me at the moment.

The swim was a struggle in the first 8 lengths and I changed my technique to ease the pain in my elbows, which occurred in the last swim. Again I am concerned I am so slow and my arms are getting this pain so I have booked a session with my coach to assess me next weekend.  I am now swimming in the 33m pool for long swims.

I did a 3.30hr bike with a 15 minute run on Wednesday. I had to spend 1.45 hrs on the turbo trainer as it was too dark to ride at night.  The turbo trainer is the most uncomfortable training for the bike. It creates a lot of saddle pain and I am glad the clocks change this weekend so I can ride outdoors.

I rested the last 4 days and caught up on sleep. Had a friend who eats a high fat diet and minimal carbohydrates. I am tempted to try this but I know eating red meat can be detrimental to the stomach and high fats are not good.  This week I aim to eat smaller more regular meals with no carbohydrates at night.

Back to full training next week.

Week 22: food poisoning disturbs training and first 1 hour run

This week started with great intentions and coach, Fran, wanted me to push hard this week. I had been on a  physio course over the weekend and I ate a sandwich from starbucks. On sunday night my stomach was tender and I was very tired and feeling the shivers in my body.

My first thought was a flu was coming on and I did not know how many days this would cost me in training. On monday morning I woke up feeling rotten. I had no energy and I was sweating but felt freezing. I had to head to work however when I got there I canceled my afternoon clients and went home. I slept for 4 hours that evening I was much better. It was a relief feel a normal temperature and I was happy my training could resume.

I took the executive decision to stay away from training for two days. My body actually enjoyed it and by Wednesday I felt 100% better. When I was in NZ I was told by a world-class physiologist, Jon Ackland, to pick up your normal routine of training after you recover from sickness. He said too many athletes try to catch up on what they have missed out and get injured or over train.

I followed Jon Ackland’s advice and on Wednesday got back on track with my planned training for each day. I had an hour outdoor run to do but my legs were tight from last weeks long bike. I missed my massage on monday because I was sick. My concern was the ITB pain coming on in my legs but I went ran and wanted to see what happened.

I ran around Battersea park. There was a  steep camber in the road which I tried to avoid by running along the middle of the road. My body still felt the  camber and my right knee and left calf did get niggles of pain towards the end of the run. I actually finished the hour but it was not totally comfortable. The massage next monday will desperately be needed to stop this from happening. I will also use kinesio tape to unload the fascia and see if it helps.

On the physio course we tested the effect of kinesio tape on the length tension test for ITB called the OBER’s test. When the tape was on the ITB tested much longer. I wonder if there will be a carry over to running? I will try it next week.

I missed my swims this week and did my long bike rides. The 3.15 hour bike was a beast as my legs were still tired from the 1.5 hour ride two days earlier. I  enjoy the experience of pushing my body into new distances of bike riding. The last lap of Richmond park today felt like my legs were about to Bonk. I was extremely slow up the hills and it almost hurt. This was the 7th lap around the park and it was windy and wet.

This coming week I am going to reassess my nutrition and look at rest times. I do not have a physio course until the 25 March so I have until then to get some consistency in my training, get my body stretched and massaged and have regular training times. I want to meet up with Fran to assess my gym program this week and I must swim 30 minutes non stop.

Week 21 training plan to come…..