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

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.

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 26: Week after snow boarding

The training for the week after snow boarding was the following

Tues 26 Jan: 45mins easy run. You need to start thinking of doing at least one run outdoors.
Wed 27 Jan: turbo session as follows  10mins wu  ms 2x20mins at 70-75%MHR (5mins recovery)  10mins easy cd
strenght session
Thurs 28 Jan: 1h swim as follows: 40mins Emile drills/15mins swim non stop/5mins cd
Fri 29 Jan: 35mins moderate run  1h easy bike ride (outdoor if possible otherwise in the turbo easy at 80-90RPM)
Sat 30 Jan: off
Sun 31: 2h 30min outdoors bike ride

I noticed ITB pain on the left knee as I did outdoor running. I was also tight after the snow boarding so I am stretching more now. It is so cold outside the fascia and muscles are tight at the start of the runs.  I had to buy ear warmers and longer socks to cover my Achilles tendons for the runs (purchased from Wiggle on the internet).

I tried using chaffing cream on the bike ride and I was more comfortable. I had less saddle pain and even after 2.5 hours. I out the cream on the shorts but next time I will apply to the affected areas. I am glad my coach recommended using the cream. I noticed the friction is worse when on the turbo trainer as the bike is held stationary and friction increases.

I swam for 15 minutes non stop this week, it was a big achievement. I want to find a 50 metre pool as the 20 metre pool does not allow me to get into a rhythm and my breathing is still unsettled. I spoke to my swim coach Emile and he said to slow down and get my breathing right. In the past I have swam with a slower arm stroke so I am adjusting to the new speed.

The plan from here is to increase my volume of training. It is a sobering thought having 26 weeks remaining in training.

Swim training for the upper body

Today Emile worked with me on my arm motion under the water but prior to starting he relooked at my kicking motion. He reminded me to start the kicking motion from my Gluteal muscles and let my ankles relax. I had to keep my  knees straighter as they were flexing too much and kicking up water. The correct kick produced a gentle splash at the end of the feet and the trunk is  stable as the legs start moving from the hips.

The drills in the swim session today focussed on catching the water with my hand and then moving my arm to place the forearm in a vertical position. This automatically rotated my body. Emile then got me to push my hand backwards as I finished the stroke. This generated more forward propulsion in the water and enabled me to use my tricep muscle during the stroke. Emile explained using the tricep muscle created a more efficient stroke as it spread the  load between the Lats and chest muscles. I also had to rotate my body from my trunk which was coordinated with my arm motion.

Today I noticed how much rotation I needed to have in my trunk with each stroke. The position of the hand and how it moved under the water could assist in catching more water or slide through the water. At the moment it feels foreign to me but with more practice I could imagine my speed and efficiency improving. When I was catching the water with my stroke  I noticed how  I was accelerating as I swam.

My swim fitness is a weakness but Emile suggested my stroke was good enough that soon I could increase the lengths I was swimming and that would all change. It was a great swim session today and next week will be my last one until January next year. Lots of practice to do so better get on with it.