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Guide to running for beginners

Guide to running for beginners

Running is probably one of the simplest of sports to take up as all that it requires is you and your motivation, your trainers and the great outdoors!  Whether you are running for fitness, weight loss, enjoyment, or to overcome chronic illness, it is a sport that you can do in all weathers, in any environment and you can cover the key aspects of fitness: from strength & speed, to stamina and coordination, you can address it all without the necessity of a gym membership. It really is that simple so if you are ready to get started, here are a few tips for beginners:

Starting tips


  • The main reason that beginner runners do not persevere is that they start too quick and do too much too soon which can make for a very uncomfortable experience. To avoid injury and enjoy the experience, it is essential to ease yourself into it slowly and increase your pace and distance gradually over several runs. If you do not already have a good base level of fitness, start by walking for up to 20-30mins and if this is comfortable, start to include some short intervals of jogging for 1-2mins.  Gradually increase the intervals until eventually you are able to run for the duration.
  • When you do run, do not start running too fast – have a slow progressive warm up of 5-10mins to allow the body to prepare and utilise the most efficient energy system.  In the initial stages of a beginner’s running practice, it is important to exercise at an intensity whereby you are able to hold a conversation comfortably in short sentences as this shows that you are working aerobically. Also ensure a gradual cool down and a good stretch routine post run.
  • With regards to distance, the 10% rule is good to abide by for progression and to avoid injury.  Basically this means that you do not increase your running mileage by more than 10% for your single longest run from week to week, or for your overall weekly mileage.
  • Think about your posture and form when running.  Aim to maintain an upright running posture with relaxed arms and shoulders and a smooth efficient running stride.  A good goal cadence to aim for is 180 foot strikes per minute so you may want to count the number of one leg foot strikes over 15secs at various intervals of your run and if it is 22-23 then you know you are achieving this.
  • There is currently a lot of varied opinions on choice of trainer with debates on cushioned versus minimalist trainers.  It is important to do your own research and follow the path that feels natural to you.  You may want to have a thorough running gait analysis to give you an insight into your personal running style and areas that you may need to work on.  Running is a very pure experience and so therefore don’t be drawn into fashions and gimmicks that some manufacturers may use to persuade you to buy their product.
  • Once you start a running routine, try to be consistent – it is better to run 2X per week and progress from there rather than run every day and then not run for a week.  You may also consider some cross-training, such as cycling, which will also benefit your general fitness without the impact of running only.
  • You may prefer to run with company for motivational or safety reasons so you could arrange to run with a friend of similar ability.  Alternatively, consider joining a local running club as most clubs now have enough members to split into ability groups enabling the runners to run with others of the same pace.
  • Goal-setting is good practise and it will keep you focussed so once you have developed your base running fitness, think about entering a short charity run or a 5k race/ Park run as a personal challenge. Also keeping a training diary can be encouraging as you look back and enjoy seeing how you have progressed and what you have managed to achieve.


  • As you develop and progress, you may choose to take a more scientific approach to your training.  This could include working in various heart rate zones using different energy systems or running to individually calculated run paces based on run tests.  In this regard, training tools such as a heart rate monitor and/or GPS style device may become a valuable piece of equipment.
  • There are numerous running races in the UK and worldwide of all distances and all terrains whether you enjoy racing for the experience or for the competitive nature, there is an event out there for all.
  • As running becomes part of your weekly routine and you become more serious or competitive, you will need to consider the use of supplementation to meet the additional demands being placed on your body as diet alone is not always enough.



  • You will perform better in your run training if you eat good energising foods and it is up to you as an individual to find which foods you perform well on and which foods to avoid.  Most people suffer if they eat solid foods within a couple of hours of running as your body will divert the blood to the working muscles and therefore the digestion of food will not be a priority and it will sit heavy in your stomach.  One way to fuel your running is to supplement with liquids or gels which are easily absorbed into the bloodstream: a carbohydrate drink with electrolytes (lost through sweating) such as USN Cytopower, or a Vooma gel, provides a good training or racing fuelling strategy. If you tend to sweat a lot, an electrolyte tablet such as Acti-Fizz dropped in 500ml of water will help with re-hydration and replenishing of important electrolytes.
  • Equally important to consider is your recovery after a hard training session and a drink such as R3 Xcell which contains carbohydrates, electrolyte and protein will help to replenish after a long or hard run so that you are ready to go again next time!
  • Ensuring a good source of protein on your rest days will further assist the body to repair and develop as the training effect takes place– Protein GF-1 is a useful addition to anybody’s diet.


Happy running!



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Paul Mumford shows you how to run

Paul Mumford shows you how to run


ultra-FIT’s Paul Mumford shows you how to run barefoot, following up on the two articles he wrote on the subject in the spring on 2013.

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Boost your Recovery

Scientifically Enhance Recovery

By Sports Scientist Ross Edgley

Photography: Simon Howard: Model: decathlete Thomas Ashby

Whether you are strength, speed or endurance athlete you would have no doubt experienced an ‘immune crash’ during periods when you’ve over trained. Unfortunately it’s just part and parcel of being an athlete since constantly loading your body above its habitual level in an attempt to get quicker, stronger or more enduring will of course eventually give rise to problems. But how is it possible to avoid this whilst still improving in your chosen sport? Well, generally speaking it’s accepted both through anecdotal and epidemiological evidence that moderate regular training can reduce the risk of infections by having a positive effect on the immune system and you can therefore avoid this ‘immune crash’. The only problem is you won’t be smashing PB’s or breaking training plateaus by training at a slow and steady pace on a regular basis. So here we’ve teamed up with the Sports Scientists at  to take a look at just what exactly goes on inside the body during periods of intense training addressing everything from the impairment of natural killer cell activity to lymphocyte production and then we take a look at the supplements and science that could help.

Firstly a study conducted at the Department of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland in Australia set out to determine the effects of exercise intensity on immune parameters in order to better understand mechanisms by which training may influence resistance to infection (L.T. Mackinnon, 1997). It was found that intensive exercise altered a number of immune parameters including circulating leukocytes (more commonly known as white blood cells) whose chief function is to protect the body against microorganisms causing disease.

Plasma cytokine concentrations were also affected, cytokines are any of a number of substances that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system which carry signals locally between cells, and thus have an effect on other cells. They are deemed critical to the development and functioning of both the innate and adaptive immune response and so altering them effectively alters the ‘communication’ of the immune system (R. Gokhale et al, 2007).

Scientists from the department of Research and Development, Medical Services, Athletic Club of Bilbao in Basque, Spain further examined various hormonal markers such as testosterone, cortisol, testosterone to cortisol ratio, 24-hour urinary cortisol to cortisone ratio, plasma and urinary catecholamines, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (S. Padilla, 2004) during periods of intense training. They found changes caused by overtraining can not only correlate with changes in an athlete’s performance capacity but can also create a hormonal environment (specifically citing elevated cortisol levels) that allow pathogens (disease producing agents) to thrive. Put simply this is because specifically both cortisol and epinephrine suppress T-cell cytokine production.

More specifically and very common in athletes is something known as Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, an illness caused by an acute infection which involves the upper respiratory tract: nose, sinuses, pharynx or larynx.

Ultimately all of the above means sore throats and flu-like symptoms are more common in athletes than in the general population (G.W. Heath et al, 1991) and once infected , colds may last longer therefore detrimentally affecting training and performance (B.K. Pedersen et al, 1995). More specifically and very common in athletes is something known as Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, an illness caused by an acute infection which involves the upper respiratory tract: nose, sinuses, pharynx or larynx.

So, now we’ve identified what exactly happens inside the body when an athlete’s immune system is suppressed, what methods are there for combating it? Well, first and foremost a well planned and periodised training regime is critical and is the best form of preventative treatment. But as any athlete will know, when loading your body above its habitual level in training, even the most well planned regime can fail to support the immune system effectively. This is where certain supplements can help.

Firstly studies from Bente Pedersen’s group in Copenhagen found that the release of IL-6 from contracting muscle can be improved by long-term antioxidant supplementation. IL-6 (or Interleukin 6 to give it its full name) is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine and plays critical roles in the immune response (T Hirano et al, 1990). In a recent single-blind, placebo-controlled study published in The Journal of Physiology it was reported that 4 weeks of oral supplementation, with vitamin C (500 mg/day), markedly attenuated the release of IL-6 from active muscle and the plasma IL-6 and cortisol response to 3 h of dynamic two-legged, knee-extensor exercise at 50% of maximal power output compared with placebo. High levels of circulating IL-6 stimulate cortisol release, and this study provides some strong evidence that the mechanism of action of the antioxidant supplementation was via a reduction in IL-6 release from the muscle fibers of the exercising legs. Attenuating the IL-6 and cortisol response would be expected to limit the exercise-induced depression of immune function, and this may be the mechanism that could explain the reported lower incidence of URTI symptoms in ultramarathon runners supplementing with vitamin C (alone or in combination with other antioxidants) compared with a placebo (Christian P. Fischer et al, 2004). This is why more and more athletes are now supplementing with antioxidant supplements such as Vitamin C (Vitamin C is available from THE PROTEIN WORKS™ for as little as £7.99 for 250g). Or even more recently the more newer antioxidants like Montmorency Cherry Tart Extract, following impressive studies on this and it’s antioxidant properties and ability to aid recovery by reducing oxidative stress (MONTMORENCY CHERRY EXTRACT is available from THE PROTEIN WORKS™ for as little as £15.99).

……by supplementing with carbohydrates (more precisely 30–60 g of carbohydrate per hour during 2.5hr of strenuous cycling) you are able to improve the efficiency of the immune system whilst still continuing to train at a high intensity.

Furthermore on the topic of supplementation and cytokine response, researchers from the Immunology Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California, USA found that the cosumption of carbohydrate during exercise also improves increases in plasma IL-6, catecholamines, ACTH, and cortisol. More specifically it was shown that consuming 30–60 g of carbohydrate per hour during 2.5 h of strenuous cycling prevented both the decrease in the number and percentage of IFN-γ-positive T lymphocytes and the suppression of IFN-γ production from stimulated T lymphocytes observed on the placebo control trial. IFN-γ-positive is a cytokine that is critical for innate and adaptive immunity against viral and intracellular bacterial infections, so again by supplementing with carbohydrates (more precisely 30–60 g of carbohydrate per hour during 2.5hr of strenuous cycling) you are able to improve the efficiency of the immune system whilst still continuing to train at a high intensity.

Finally another supplement that’s specifically cited when mentioning over training and immune system suppression is Branch Chain Amino Acids. Scientists from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of São Paulo in Brazil set out to determine how intense long-duration exercise could lead to immune suppression through a decrease in the circulating level of plasma glutamine and how the decrease in plasma glutamine concentration as a consequence of intense long-duration exercise was reversed, in some cases, by supplementing the diet of the athletes with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). To find out they evaluated blood parameters (lymphocyte proliferation, the level of plasma cytokines, plasma glutamine concentration, and in vitro production of cytokines by peripheral blood lymphocytes) before and after the São Paulo International Triathlon, as well as the incidence of symptoms of infections between the groups. The data obtained show that BCAA supplementation can reverse the reduction in serum glutamine concentration observed after prolonged intense exercise such as an Olympic triathlon. The decrease in plasma glutamine concentration is paralleled by an increased incidence of symptoms of infections that results in augmented proliferative response of lymphocytes cultivated in the absence of mitogens. The prevention of the lowering of plasma glutamine concentration allows an increased response of lymphocytes, as well as an increased production of IL-1 and 2, TNF-alpha, and IFN-gamma, possibly linked to the lower incidence of symptoms of infection (33.84%) reported by the supplemented athletes. BCCA’s are available from THE PROTEIN WORKS™ in tablet, powdered and flavoured powdered form, including Green Apple Spike and Berry Blitz and for as little as £13.99 for 250g. Ultimately making BCAA supplementation easier and more convenient regardless of your supplement preference or budget.

Lastly taking all of the above research into consideration the Sports Scientists at THE PROTEIN WORKS™ created RECOVERY PROTEIN, an advanced formula that’s been scientifically engineered to provide the body with a comprehensive supply of nutrients immediately after training to help the muscles repair and re-build. For more details visit the product page here and EXCLUSVIELY for ultra-FIT readers, right now you can get 10% OFF RECOVERY PROTEIN when you use code ‘ULTRAFIT10’ at the checkout.


  • Nieman, DC (2003) ‘Potential nutritional countermeasures to exercise–induced immunosuppression’, Medicina Sportive, 7, pp. E19-28.
  • Pyne, DB, Gleeson, M, McDonald, WA, Clancy, RL, Perry, C Jr and Fricker, PA (2000) ‘Training strategies to maintain immunocompetence in athletes’, International Journal of Sports Medicine. May, 21 Suppl 1, pp. S51-60.
  • Gleeson, M, Nieman, D and Pedersen, BK (2004) ‘Exercise, nutrition and immune function’. Journal of Sports Sciences,  22, pp. 115-25.
  • Brolinson, P.G., & Elliott, D. (2007) ‘Exercise and the immune system.’ Clinical Sports Medicine. 26(3),311-319.
  • Gleeson, M. (2007) ‘Immune function in sport and exercise.’ Journal Apply Physiology,103(2),693-699.
  • Gleeson, M. (2006) ‘Immune system adaptation in elite athlete.’ Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 9(6), 659-665.
  • Gleeson ,M., Nieman D.C., Pedersen, B.K.(2004) ‘Exercise, nutrition and immune function.’ Journal Sports Science,22(1), 115-125.
  • Mujika, I., Padilla, S., Pyne, D., Busso, T.(2004). ‘Physiological changes associated with pre-event taper in athletes.’ Sports Medicine, 34(13), 891-927.
  • Nieman, D.C., Nehlsen-Cannarella, S.L., Markoff, P.A., Balklamberton, A.J., Yang, H., & Chritton, D.B.W. et al.(1990) ‘The effects of moderate exercise training on natural-killer-cells and acute upper respiratory-tract infections.’ International Journal of Sports Medicine,11,467-73.
  • Nielsen, H.B. (2003) ‘Lymphocyte responses to maximal exercise: a physiological perspective.’ Sports Medicine, 33,853-67.
  • Pacque, P.F., Booth, C.K., Ball, M.J., & Dwyer, D.B. (2007) ‘The effect of an ultra-endurance running race on mucosal and humeral immune function.’ Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 47(4), 496-501
  • Pedersen, B.K., & Toft, A.D.(2000) ‘Effects of exercise on lymphocytes and cytokines.’ British Journal of Sport Medicine,34, 246-251.
  • Pedersen, B.K., Rohde, T., & Zacho, M.(1996) ‘Immunity in athletes.’ International Journal of Sports Medicine,36, 236-45.
  • Gokhale R, Chandrashekara S and Vasanthakumar KC (2007) ‘Cytokine response to strenuous exercise in athletes and non-athletes–an adaptive response.’ Cytokine 2007 Nov; 40(2):123-7. 2007 Oct 22.
  • Heath GW, Ford ES, Craven TE, Macera CA, Jackson KL, Pate RR (1991) ‘Exercise and the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.’ Medical Science in Sports and Exercise 23: 152–157
  • Nieman DC, Johansen LM, Lee JW, Arabatzis K (1990) ‘Infectious episodes in runners before and after the Los Angeles Marathon.’ The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 30: 316–328, 1990
  • Pedersen BK, Bruunsgaard H (1995) ‘How physical exercise influences the establishment of infections.’ Sports Medicine 19: 393–400, 1995
  • Spence L, Brown WJ, Pyne DB, Nissen MD, Sloots TP, McCormack JG, Locke AS and Fricker PA (2007) ‘Incidence, etiology, and symptomatology of upper respiratory illness in elite athletes.’ Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise. 2007 Apr;39(4):577-86.
  • Hirano T et al (1990) ‘Interleukin 6 and its receptor in the immune response and hematopoiesis.’ International Journal of cell cloning, 1990 Jan;8 Suppl 1:155-66; discussion 166-7.
  • Christian P. Fischer et al (2004) ‘Supplementation with vitamins C and E inhibits the release of interleukin-6 from contracting human skeletal muscle.’ July 15, 2004 The Journal of Physiology, 558, 633-645.
  • Bassit RA et al (2000) ‘The effect of BCAA supplementation upon the immune response of triathletes.’ Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 2000 Jul;32(7):1214-9.
  • L.T. Mackinnon (1997) ‘Immunity in athletes.’ International Journal of Sports Medicine, 1997 Mar;18 Suppl 1:S62-8.


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Train like the Trainers!

Train like the trainers

In just over two years, Jane Woodhead, 41, has taken her fitness to the next level.  From being a multi-marathon runner, triathlete and boxing instructor, she has transformed her physique, qualified as a personal trainer and been chosen as the face and body of a sports nutrition brand.  Oh, and she holds down a demanding, full-time job.

A former journalist, Jane is now an Account Director at Paver Smith PR where she heads up the consumer and sports division.  “Fitness has dominated my adult life,” says Jane, admitting that initially she took a personal training course because she wanted to learn more about the dynamics of her own body.  “I wanted to understand fully how to achieve the body you want and the importance and role of nutrition,” says Jane.  “I reckoned the best way to expand my knowledge was to learn from the trainers of trainers.”

A former journalist, Jane is now an Account Director at Paver Smith PR where she heads up the consumer and sports division.  “Fitness has dominated my adult life,” says Jane, admitting that initially she took a personal training course because she wanted to learn more about the dynamics of her own body.  “I wanted to understand fully how to achieve the body you want and the importance and role of nutrition,” says Jane.  “I reckoned the best way to expand my knowledge was to learn from the trainers of trainers.”

Flexible training option

As she works full time, Jane needed flexibility in her PT course and she found this with The Training Room (  Jane signed up for its six-month blended course, which combines studying at home with attending weekend practical courses   After qualifying as a REPs Level 3 personal trainer, she then completed a Les Mills Body Combat instructor course and Extreme Kettle Bell Instructor Course.  “When I started the personal training course it was primarily for my own knowledge to apply to my own fitness,” says Jane.  “But completing the course renewed my zest for training others.”

Jane was no stranger to teaching.  As Merseyside’s first fully qualified female amateur boxing coach, she has a local reputation for getting results from young men and women and taking them to regional and national competition level.  “Boxing and combat classes remain my first love but The Training Room course opened up many more opportunities.”

Literally taking shape

Taking on a personal training course when you’re holding down a full-time job is not for the faint-hearted, especially in your early 40s when the discipline of studying and sitting exams is a distant memory!  Jane gave up valuable social time and weekend relaxation to study, but it was for a finite amount of time and the wealth of knowledge she gained has set her up for life she believes.

“Like many women, I focused a lot of my time and energy on cardio in the belief that if I picked up weights I’d bulk up,” confesses Jane.  “But by implementing the advice given in my course I quickly realised that weights and resistance work are vital to bring about a body shape change, to develop lean muscle and achieve body definition.”  In fact, Jane’s body definition is now so good, she has just been chosen as the female ambassador for the UK’s sports nutrition brand Optimus Protein.  “I would never have dared bare my torso in a ‘beauty parade’ for a fitness brand before the transition in my own training,” says Jane.  “And you could argue that it was pretty daring to line up alongside ladies in their 20s and 30s.  But I did and I got the job!”

Knowing no bounds

Jane is director of Smart Boot Camp ( and runs these sessions in addition to teaching Spinning ®, Body Combat, Boxing and one-to-one personal training at a number of venues in the Wirral, Cheshire.   “Many of my clients work the ‘9-5’ Monday to Friday week so the hours I’m available dovetails nicely with what they can manage.  They love the fact I’ve also come from work and can truly identify with their daily work/exercise balance.”

And The Training Room? “I would highly recommend The Training Room course to fitness enthusiasts,” says Jane.  “You don’t have to be a trainer afterwards: the knowledge applied to your own fitness and physique goals is worth it alone.  The personal training course made me think afresh about my own body and regime: now my enthusiasm for my fitness and that of others knows no bounds.”

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Our Fitzine Newsletter 10th May 2013 Feeling from Zombies!

Our Fitzine Newsletter 10th May 2013 Feeling from Zombies!

What fitness would need to survive a zombie attack? Contributing editor Patrick Dale shows you what in our latest Fitzine newsletter. You can sign up for this and get a free digital issue by returning to the home page of this site. Newsletter also contains a great £20 subs offer and you get a free pack of pocketfit playing cards.

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The Indoor Triathlon Challenge


Try one of the following indoor triathlon challenges to beat the rain/heat blues…

Level 1
1000 meter row
1000 meter cycle
1000 meter run

Level 2
2500 meter row
2500 meter cycle
2500 meter run

Level 3
5000 meter row
5000 meter cycle
5000 meter run

Guidelines for the challenge
Select the rower damper setting/bike level/running speed that suits your preferences and level of fitness. The treadmill should be set to 0% incline. Make sure you have a waterbottle and a towel close to hand as this is a very sweaty workout.

Remember, just like a real triathlon, the time taken to get from one exercise to another (transition) counts! Your time begins when you start the row and ends when you finish the run.

Post your times below…

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10 things you wanted to know about triathlon but were afraid to ask…

Triathlon isn’t a straightforward sport – not only are there three disciplines to prepare for, but there’s all the kit and equipment to get to grips with, the training regime to cope with plus all the headaches which races can present. Fear not, it’s not as complex as it first seems, and with our guide you’ll soon be wondering why you ever worried. Emma-Kate Lidbury answers 10 triathlon FAQs…



1.    “I’ve done a few marathons, but have little experience of swimming or cycling, should I even be thinking about doing a triathlon?”

Of course! Lots of novices take up triathlon having little to no experience of one or more of the sports and that’s all part of the fun. You’ll be amazed at how friendly and welcoming triathletes and triathlon clubs are and there’s nothing more an experienced athlete enjoys than introducing someone new to the sport.

 The beauty of triathlon is that the challenge is between you and the clock, so it doesn’t matter what standard you are, the test is the same for everyone. The fact you have experience of marathon running will stand you in great and will give you an advantage over many people who might only have experience of doing a few laps of the pool or commuting to and from work on their bike.

  2.    “Do I have to wear a wetsuit?”

If you are taking part in an open water race in the UK, the chances are that wetsuits will be compulsory under British Triathlon guidelines. Wetsuits are only forbidden when the water is above 22 degrees Celsius and open water swims are not permitted when the water is below 12.5c degrees Celsius.

A wetsuit can be a huge bonus for weak swimmers as they are made of neoprene, which improves buoyancy as well as your swim body position. It takes time getting used to swimming in a wetsuit though, so make sure you try it out before race day.

 3. “I’m scared, I can’t touch the bottom on the swim.”

It’s perfectly natural to feel apprehensive about swimming in open water, particularly if you’re a novice swimmer. However, with some open water swimming practice and some sound advice, you will soon overcome your fears and enjoy what can be the most exhilarating part of a triathlon.

If you want more advice, go along to an open water swimming venue. Staff there can give you advice on everything from which wetsuit to use through to one-on-one coaching sessions. Or there are scores of triathlon clubs that run their own open water sessions where there will be qualified coaches and experienced triathletes on hand to help you out.

 4. “Will someone swim over me on the swim?”

The opening metres of the swim in a triathlon can be frantic, but this largely depends on the size of the race and the standard of the field. In big races where competitors start in waves of 150+ things can be hectic and it is highly possible you may find someone swimming ‘over you, under you or even across you’. This usually happens because there are a large number of people in a small space all racing to the first buoy, which can sometimes be less than 200m away from the start line. Things usually calm down after the first 100m or so as the faster swimmers race off and the field evens out.

It is highly unlikely that you will encounter problems at smaller races as the majority of UK sprint-distance races have small fields where competitors start in waves of 100 or less. Nevertheless, do prepare yourself as even a sparsely populated wave could be full of swimmers who are so pumped up on adrenaline they fail to see competitors in their path.

 5. “Do I have to ride my bike in a pair of briefs?”

Tr-_girlAlthough you could ride your bike in your swimsuit, this certainly isn’t the most comfortable option! You could change in ‘T1’ (the first transition from swim to bike Ed) from your swimwear into your bike gear, but with the clock ticking as you do this, there are far less time-consuming options available.

Investing in a tri-suit (an all-in-one suit) that can be worn for all three disciplines is advisable. If you don’t fancy the all-in-one number, there are also two-piece triathlon tops and shorts, which do the job just as well. These are worn underneath your wetsuit and are made of quick-drying material.

This means that you can peel off your wetsuit post-swim, run to your bike in transition, put on your bike helmet and shoes set off and and save lots of time.

It is worth remembering that nudity in transition will lead to instant disqualification, so wearing a tri-suit rather than attempting embarrassing changes certainly has its benefits!

British Triathlon rules also state that all competitors must ensure their upper body, especially the chest area, is clothed during the bike and run.

 6. “Will my commuting bike embarrass me?”

Definitely not. In fact, it is very common to see commuting bikes being used at triathlons, which are popular with first-timers, such as the Blenheim Triathlon or the Eton Super Sprints. It makes sense to use your own tried-and-trusted bike before splashing out on an expensive triathlon bike, which you might only use once.

There are various steps you can take to ‘upgrade’ your commuting bike to make it more suitable for a race too. One of the most important changes you can make is to the tyres. Using slick road tyres (1-1.5inches) and inner tubes pumped to 100psi+ will certainly speed you up. You could also consider using clipless pedals and cycling shoes which are far more energy efficient than toe-clip pedals and trainers. They do take a bit of getting used to though, so make sure you practice with them if you decide you want to give them a go.

 7.    “What should I do if I get a puncture?”

Don’t attempt to continue cycling as you could damage your bike. You should always carry a saddlebag containing a few essentials so that in the event of a puncture or other mechanical problems, you have the basic kit needed to get you home or through a race.

The saddlebag, which fits neatly under your saddle, should contain spare inner tubes, tyre levers and a multi-tool. It is also wise to carry a small pump, which can usually be attached to your bike frame.-

8. “What is ‘drafting’ and how can I avoid it?”

Drafting is the name given to taking shelter behind or beside another competitor while on the bike. It is illegal in age-group racing and time penalties (usually two minutes) are given to any participant seen drafting. British Triathlon rules state that the ‘draft zone is viewed as a rectangle measuring seven metres long by three metres wide which surrounds every competitor on the bike course’.

The front edge of the front wheel defines the centre of the leading three-metre edge of the rectangle. A competitor may enter the draft zone to overtake and has a maximum of 15 seconds to do this. If an overtaking manoeuvre is not completed within 15 seconds, the overtaking cyclist must drop back.

However, in races where waves of 100+ people start just a few minutes apart, it can often become congested on the bike course and it can be difficult not to find yourself in another competitor’s draft zone. This often happens on fast, flat bike courses where there are no hilly sections to spread out the field. If you find yourself caught in a large bunch of cyclists, do all that you can to get out of the pack safely. This might mean slowing up and letting the pack pass or putting in a hard effort to break away. If you don’t, you will be penalised.

Drafting is considered cheating in age-group racing and you won’t make many friends if you deliberately set out to draft.

9.    “Should I get ‘tri bars’?”

If you are new to triathlon and not sure yet whether it is for you, there is no point spending money on a set of tri bars as they are not ‘absolute essentials’ as far as kit and equipment go. However, if you are already a self-confessed tri addict and are looking to save a few seconds every mile then it is definitely worth getting some.

Triathletes talk about ‘getting aero’, that’s riding in the most aerodynamic position possible and tri bars can help you create this time-saving position. The more upright you are, the more wind resistance and drag you create, which slows you down. Tri bars, if positioned correctly, will allow you to ride in a narrower, flatter and therefore more aerodynamic position, enabling you to ride faster for the same effort. Seek expert advice when fitting them and get used to them in training before attempting to race with them.

 10. “I’m pretty disorganised, how can I get through each transition successfully?”

The answer is simple: you have to be organised. Transition – the so-called ‘fourth sport’ – can make or break your race. You need to make sure you have everything set out simply and in the order in which you will need it. Remember: when you come into transition for the first time you’ll have just swum 400m/750m/1500m (depending on race distance) and will appreciate all the help possible in finding your kit.

When setting out your equipment look for landmarks or guides which will lead you back to your bike in T1. Although it might seem easy to find before the race, once the adrenaline is pumping and you are mid-race, things will be very different.

Set out your helmet, sunglasses and bike shoes. Alongside them put your run shoes and visor/hat if you are using one. Ensure your water bottle is on your bike, and anything you may want for the run is next to your run kit (energy drink or gels, for example).

Once you are happy that all of your equipment is ready, it is often useful to familiarise yourself with the layout of the transition: where will you be coming in to after the swim? Where is the bike exit? Where is the run exit? At large races, such as the Mazda London Triathlon there can often be hundreds of people in transition at any one time, so it pays to know where you are going.

John Shepherd.

Posted in Triathlon0 Comments


ultra-FIT Tri Challenge Event News

The ultra-FIT Tri Challenge

Entrants advice

Dorney Lake, Eton Nr Windsor Sunday May 23rd 2010


The event

The ultra-FIT Tri Challenge, held at Dorney Lake, Eton Windsor on Sunday May 23rd 2010 consists of a Half Olympic Distance of 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run plus a 3Quarter Olympic Distance of 1000m swim, 30km bike and 7.5km run.

The swim

The Half Olympic triathlon starts with a 750m swim, a one-lap rectangular course in the Lake. The 3Quarter Olympic Distance 800m swim is a two-lap rectangular course in the Lake. The start will be a deep water start. Keep the buoys on your right as you swim round the course. The swim exit will be clearly marked with a large buoy and flags.

The bike

Then it is a four-lap 20km bike course, which takes you around the lake 4 times. The 3Quarter Olympic bike course is a six-lap 30km bike course, which takes you around the lake 6 times. You must count your own laps!. Drafting on the bike is not allowed. Drafting is cycling too closely behind another cyclist and therefore taking pace from that cyclist. The drafting zone is 7m, so keep at least 7m behind the cyclist in front, unless you are overtaking. An approved cycle helmet must be worn for this section.

The run

Lastly, the Half Olympic 5km run finishes with 2-laps of the lake with the 3Quarter 7.5km run being 3-laps.This final run will be clockwise round the right hand side of the Lake, to finish just outside the transition area. Your race number must be clearly visible at all times. Water will be available on the finish line.

Wetsuit use

Use of a wetsuit is highly recommended if the water temperature deems that wetsuits are optional. Please contact for wetsuit hire, purchase or advice. The wearing of wetsuits in triathlon is governed by British Triathlon rules and is totally dependent on water temperature one hour before the start of the race. The rules are:

  • Water temp = less than 14 degrees – wetsuits are compulsory
  • Water temp = between 14 degrees and 22 degrees – wetsuits are optional
  • Water temp = above 22 degrees – wetsuits are banned


We won’t know until each race day whether wetsuits will be compulsory, optional or banned this year. However, we do say that wetsuits in fact help with buoyancy and warmth, so we strongly recommend that you wear one if they are optional. As May is the start of the triathlon season, the water temperature may be less than 14 degrees, so wetsuits could be compulsory for this event.


Venue and car parking

The venue is Eton College Rowing Centre, Dorney Lake, Boveney, near Eton Wick SL4 6QP. Please leave plenty of time to get here. Car parking will be at the side of the bike course. The only access will be via the main access road. Just follow the signs as you come into the venue. You will have at least an 800m walk to the race site, so allow yourself extra time after you have parked your car. The closest station is Windsor and Eton Riverside and taxi’s need to be pre-ordered.


The results will be on the website within 24hours of the finish and photos will be available on

If you haven’t entered yet it’s not too late. If you don’t think you can tackle the half of 3Quarter distance on your own, grab some mates and enter as a relay team

Enter online @

We look forward to seeing you at Dorney Lake May 23rd!

ultra-FIT and the Human Race Team

“The harder you train the week prior to the race, the more you take away from your race day performance”

One of the greatest rewards and feelings in triathlon, is experiencing the perfect race, when all appears to go perfectly to plan in all three disciplines, your transitions were swift and you achieve a new personal best!  This can only be achieved following months and probably years of hard work, self discipline and determination, and I have come across many triathletes that rarely experience such a perfect priority race.  One of the biggest reasons for under achieving is insufficient recovery i.e. training too much during the competition phase and not allowing yourself to recover pre and post racing and training.

The best way to approach race week, is to make rest the major objective of the week. When a taper is executed correctly, you increase your chances of achieving the perfect race tenfold.

There are a number of different approaches to tapering, and each taper can be individual to the athlete. I would advise you to discuss a specific taper with your coach or attend one of training days, to find out which approach would be best suited to yourself. A word of warning on tapering. Yes, although I did previously state that the objective the week prior to your priority race should be rest, there are several studies that have shown that total rest causes steady loss of fitness. The happy medium would be between your normal training week and total inactivity. Reducing the volume of training by 40%-60%, reducing the number of intervals within your key sessions by 50% and increasing the normal recovery time between repetitions.

Train Hard and race SMART!

Rich Jones

Posted in Events, Get Outside, Sports Training, Triathlon0 Comments

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