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Have You Given It A GO TRI Yet?

If you’re looking for an activity to train in or to put your training into practise and pick up a bit of bling. All of the below are commonly found on a weekend:

  • Triathlons
  • Duathlons
  • Marathons
  • 10kms runs
  • Sportives
  • Century Rides

The problem is though that a lot of these activities require planning, preparation, serious training and can often take up a whole day if not weekend.

The solution? 

GO TRI

An initiative created by British Triathlon following the 2012 London Olympics, GO TRI offers participants of all abilities the chance to train and race in a safe environment with other likeminded people at accessible and affordable distances and prices.

GO TRI offers both training and events

I have been running GO TRI events since 2015 and as McA Fitness & Events since 2017. I have never operated a GO TRI training session, so cannot really speak for them. What I will tell you is that they are sessions organised by clubs, gyms or sports clubs, accredited by British Triathlon to GO RI standards and will aid in your participation in multisport. Ideal for beginners, GO TRI Active sessions are designed as an introduction to Triathlon and multisport.

GO TRI events though, now here is where I come into my own…

McA Fitness & Events is twice North West region “GO TRI Operator of the Year” (2019, 2022) and in 2019 was Runner Up at the Triathlon England awards.

We have had over 2500 unique entrants and around 35% of those are first timers. It safe to say we know a thing or two about GO TRI events, how brilliant they are and why so.

A GO TRI event can be any multisport discipline, Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquathlon or Aquabike and can be indoors, outdoors, open water or pool swim, there really is no limit.

I’ll focus on Duathlon as that’s what we specialise in, but distances will be similar for all disciplines.

A GO TRI is designed to be Accessible, Affordable and Achievable. Its an opportunity to take part in a Duathlon in a safe environment, at a distance you know you can achieve and without paying over the odds for your entry.

Organisers are restricted to limited distances and entry costs. 

Most GO TRI operators are club or community projects, so a maximum of £15 entry fee is in place. This allows the organiser to pay for venue costs and other necessities for running an event. I made the decision early on to charge top whack and use your entry fee to offer as much value as I possibly can, by providing custom medals, water and sweets. I’ve also been able to invest in transition racking, I have enough to comfortably fit 200 participants, additional signs, I try to put 20-30 signs out over our 10km – 18km courses as well as branding, first aid supplies and goodies for marshals and volunteers. Anything I spend on the events, obviously eat into my profits, but they also add value to entrants and help our events stand out from the others.

Distance wise, GO TRI Duathlons are limited to a Super Sprint distance, 2.5km run / 15km bike / 2.5km run. You’ll notice our events have roughly 2 – 2.5km run sandwiching a 10 – 18km ride. We’ve pushed the boundaries slightly, but with the venues and routes that we have, they are as short as possible. 

Our venues are all accessible, easy to get to from the M60 and M56, great parking and suitable toilet facilities. Importantly, they all have excellent areas for transition and if I’m honest, it’s been choosing a venue the most important part when creating my events. Without a top venue, I’d have nowhere to base, no transition and no race.

Courses have then been designed as looped courses or out and backs from transition. Sticking with GO TRI distances, I’ve been lucky that I’ve picked venues in fantastic areas where scenic bike routes are a plenty. I live in South Manchester and we are relatively flat, with a few small climbs and our routes are just that. A GO TRI should be long enough to be challenging, but short enough to be achievable and not so technical, that it takes away from that.

McA Fitness GO TRI Duathlon Events have become synonymous with cracking bike routes. Manchester Airport, Dunham Massey and Woodford are all rural Cheshire countryside, largely flat, some easy S bends, a few nice houses to ride past and some of the most picturesque villages in the north west. Our run routes, do the job. They sandwich the bike route, they’re short, flat and allow an opportunity for speed, which brings me onto my final point.

Thus far, I spoken about the accessibility and benefit of GO TRI’s for beginner athletes and novices. GO TRI Duathlons are however suitable for all abilities and make a great training session, practice races and equipment tests for the more experienced athlete.

Given the relaxed nature of the events, the non-competitive nature, it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to test yourself, against yourself, to try some new kit, to experiment with flying mounts and dismounts or just to get an extra training session in in a race environment.

If you haven’t given it a GO TRI yet, what’s stopping you?

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Duathlon Shorts – What Should I be Wearing?

A rather unusual topic for a blog post but it’s a question we get asked regularly.  The answer is covered in a lot of other articles that touch on how to prepare for Duathlons but the explanations around shorts must be vague as we still get asked the question all the time. 

We had to put a stop to this and answer the question once and for all.  Buckle up and be prepared to have your mind blow by our complete guide to Duathlon shorts.

We all know that it’s standard practice to wear a Tri Suit or for a duathlon as you spend a lot of time on the bike and it’s just easier or if you are coming from a cycling background you will no doubt already have a cycling skin suit.  Both are good examples of what to wear for a Triathlon.

We realise however that this may be your first Duathlon and you don’t want to go to the expense of investing in something you may never wear again so at least opting for the short option you may get some extra use out of them.

Before I get into which shorts are best for a duathlon I want to quickly explain why they are not commonplace.  The main reason is speed.  A lot of time is spent on the bike during a duathlon and the body is the biggest factor when it comes to resistance during a race.  Shorts however minor will affect wind resistance and slow you.  It’s far cheaper to make adjustments to clothing than it is to buy a more expensive bike.  

If we also take into account Triathlons in this equation it’s much easier to get out of the water and jump straight onto a bike in what you are wearing rather than have to change into a pair of shorts and T-Shirt.  So speed again.

All that said, we don’t want to put you off.  If you are at the stage when you are concerned about wind resistance and speed in your duathlons you will probably already have the necessary equipment.

So which shorts are best for duathlons?

We’ve narrowed it down to three categories to keep it simple.  We like to keep it simple. We were going to make recommendations but there really are that many choices it was near on impossible to recommend without trying them all.

Instead we have opted to categorise the shorts and let you make your own mind up after reading our thoughts.

Running Shorts

First up is the simple running short.  Something everybody will have in their drawer at home and the ideal choice for any beginner.   No need to go out and pay anything.  We say running short but if you are a complete beginner what we mean here is any pair of shorts you have in your drawer.

The drawbacks of this choice is that yes they will slow you down and may be uncomfortable when you are on the back but the benefit to them is that they are free and a great option to get you started.

Cycling Shorts

The next best option is a cycling short.  These come in a few different styles.  They can come looking like a normal short as well as a tighter fitting lycra version.

The main benefit to a cycling short is that almost all of them come with some gusset padding.  You can thank us later.  Any short that comes with gusset padding will project you on the long ride and make it way more comfortable.

You can easily get away with a cycling short and prices really do vary.  We would recommend paying at least £10 upwards.  It won’t break the bank but your undercarriage will thank us after you have done a 20 – 30k cycle. 

Tri Shorts

Finally we end up at the tri short.  These bad boys are the short of choice for duathletes if they don’t opt for a tri suit.  The main reason is because they are cheaper (in some cases) and provide the same benefits as a full suit.   in addition to the fact that a tri short has a thinner layer of padding at the gusset.

I know you’re thinking they look very similar to cycling shorts and on the face of it they do. A tri short generally has a thinner layer of protection in the gusset area. They still protect you on the bike but make it easier to run both before and after the ride.  A cycling short has a thicker padding which although in most cases is OK every second counts so the more serious duathlete will opt for a Tri Short.

No need to change. 

And the best shorts for a duathlon are (drum roll)?

Our recommendation if you are going to wear shorts for a duathlon has got to be the Tri Short.  The reason being they are the short of choice for Triathlons and Duathlons and they will help you race faster.  The major downside is that to a beginner they are very costly.

Naturally though you don’t have to start at the top.  If you’re just starting off in the sport go with what you have i.e any old shorts if you are a total beginner.  If you are a cyclist, wear cycling shorts. 

The most important thing and the main thing we want you to take away from this is give a duathlon a go.  Especially if you want to try something different and don’t want to get wet.  We have duathlons near you so why not check out our events page and get yourself booked in?  We promise we won’t comment on your shorts no matter what you turn up in.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Open Water Swim

Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises for physical and mental wellbeing. While many of us like to pop to the pool once or twice a week, open water swimming in the UK is becoming increasingly popular with people of all ages. 

What is Open Water Swimming?

It’s exactly what it says on the tin – you head to the great outdoors and dive into the water. You can open swim in the sea or find a secluded lake somewhere. You can even take a plunge in your local river. The great news is it’s completely free and you can do it on your own or as part of a group.

5 Benefits of an Open Water Swim

No doubt getting into open water can seem daunting at first and even the thought of it can put people off. But wild swimming in a mountain lake or hitting the beach has several important benefits for overall health and wellbeing. 

Improved Mood

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that open water swimming improves your mental health and lifts your mood, even after one dip in an icy lake. In one survey of 830 people, 8 out of 10 participants believed the activity gave a boost to their mental wellbeing. 

Going into cold water brings a surge of dopamine and releases endorphins, giving you a natural ‘high’. 

Connecting with nature while doing physical activity also lifts your mood. 

The total focus on the activity itself can help bring together mind and body and improve conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

The buzz you get after completing an open water swim is, according to many participants, amazing. 

Better Circulation

Because you are going into a lower temperature, while the shock can be challenging, it is likely to boost your circulation. Better blood flow has several benefits including getting valuable oxygen to your cells and improving muscle health. 

Better circulation should increase your energy levels for the rest of the day ahead and ensure you are ready to take on life’s challenges. 

Boost Your Immune System and Metabolism

With increased circulation, you should also see an improvement in your immune system. It’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in participation in open swimming across the UK during the pandemic for this reason among others. 

One recent study found that people who took a dip in cold water three times a week had a higher level of white blood cells, the key components in fighting off infection. 

Wild water swimming can also improve metabolism because the body has a natural stress response to protect the core body temperature. 

Great for the Skin and Joints

Anyone who has taken a cold shower will realise that cold water can also have a wonderful effect on the skin, softening it and even in some cases helping to improve problems such as eczema and psoriasis. Taking a dip in the local pool can aggravate certain skin conditions because of the chemicals that are in the water. 

Seawater in particular has many benefits for not just the skin but conditions such as arthritis because of minerals like magnesium and sodium. 

Get Social 

Finally, open water swimming is great for building friendships. According to a recent BBC article, clubs around the UK have seen a surge in membership over the last couple of years. 

People are seeing the benefits and enjoying open water swimming as a social activity where they meet new friends. The Bluetits Chiller Swimmers group on Facebook saw its membership grow by 8,000 in 2020 alone at the height of the pandemic. 

Conclusion

While it can seem a little challenging at first, open water swimming is a great way to boost your overall health and wellbeing. It’s growth in popularity in recent years means that most towns and cities have at least one group that you can join and try for yourself.

If swimming isn’t for you though why not try a Duathlon. A good old run, bike and run is another great way to get into the world of multi sport (without getting wet) We have a range of duathlon events throughout the year so why not head over to our events page and take a look?

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How To Avoid Running Like A Novice Even If You Are One

If you’re starting out your running journey and want to take up this wonderful sport past time then good on you.  Running is probably the easiest sport to start in but not so easy to master.

The main thing in my opinion to becoming a good runner is consistency.  Keep it up. 

If you’re worried about looking rubbish when you’re running then worry no more.  I have put together my top tips on how not to run.  I know that might seem strange but I decided there were lots of articles out there already on how to run. I thought I would be a little bit different and go the other way.

That and the fact that I have already written an article on how to run a marathon in 60 days injury free so this just gives you an alternative point of view.

Don’t run to much

In order to become a better runner you are going to have to get yourself out there.  What most people do is go hell for leather and run as far as they can for as long as they can right from the get go.

When you run you put tremendous strain on your body.  This strain will take its toll on your muscles and joints and will not allow you to recover properly.  If you don’t allow adequate recovery time it will put you at risk of injury.  If you injure yourself I can guarantee your running will stop dead.  

This one may be something you have never noticed before.  Next time you go out running, notice how you land between strides.  If you are landing on your heels then you are doing something wrong.

Heel landings put a lot of strain on your joints and can be responsible for increased back pain, knee pain and ankle pain.  SHort term this won’t be a problem and unless you have or are going to consistently run you probably won’t notice these as issues.  However if you want to take running seriously you need to retrain yourself to lean forward a lottle and land on the front of your foot.

By doing this you will allow the leg muscles to take the weight off your joints helping you stay (in most cases injury free) this will eventually allow you to run longer faster and further.

Keep your strides short

This piece of advice points back to the joints too.  Newbies tend to try and take longer strides thinking they will travel further faster.  All longer strides do is take up more energy because of the extra effort it takes to accomplish which in turn will force more pressure into your joints.

Try taking shorter strides and pay close attention to how your landing. 

Take on plenty of fluid

Hydration is one of my all time favourite go to’s for any illness.  Its the first question I ask anybody when they are feeling under the weather with any symptoms “Have you neen drinking enough water?”

Being dehydrated can kill you for gods sake so why wouldn’t everybody take it seriously.  Athletes (especially runners) will dehydrate quicker than the average person simply because of the fluid they lose through sweating.  Keep the water flowing through your running.

Whilst running you probably won’t notice a lot of these symptoms (if your lucky) If you do, stop and take plenty of water on board.

Avoid to over or under fuelling

Don’t leave yourself feeling hungry before you run and also don’t eat too much.  Nutrition plays a major part in sport.  If you havn’t taken on enough fuel you won’t have the energy to be effective in your run.  Taking on to much food before you run may lead to your body not being able to digest it in time which could cause you to be sick during your run.

It doesn’t stop there as there is also the balance of nutrients that you take on before ad after a run.  If you get this wrong it can cause all sorts of issues.  As an example.  Low carb diets are all the rage currently (especially for fat loss) however carbs provide essential energey that will help you perform at your best.

Finding the right nutrient balance to help you perform at peak levels isn’t easy and I promise I will follow up with an article that covers this in more detail but for the purpose of this article try and take on just enough of the right food to fuel your body during a run but not enough to overload it.  Be sure you also leave enough time to digest the food you are taking on so it literally doesn’t come back to see you. 

God forbid you forget to warm up

Back to injury prevention.  Warming up prepares your muscles for the strain you are about to put them under.  If you fail to prepare (i.e warm up) prepare to fail (i.e get injured)

Warm ups take on all shapes and sizes but generally stretches followed by some light running first.  

Pay close attention to what your feet are telling you

For a runner your feet are basically the tools of your trade.  If they are hurting, pay close attention.  You know your own body so you will be able to tell if the pain you are experiencing is normal or not.  Don’t run if you are in pain.

Secondly your running footwear is important and will cause your feet a world of pain if they are not correct for your running style or if they are not right for your feet.  I recommend popping in to your local running store and buying a pair of runners that suit both your style and foot.

Running shoes believe it or not also have a shelf life and it’s recommended that you change them every 300 miles or so. 

So there you have it.  How not to run.  Feel free to comment below if you feel I am talking rubbish or if you have anything useful to add that might help somebody run better.

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Race Technical Official Alert (Or Explainer)

Have you ever wondered what that person in grey is there for on a race day?  

Well wonder no more.  We’ve reached out to Andy Moxon who is an actual (yes really) Race Technical official (the guy in grey on a race day).  We asked him if he could give us an insight to what he does and what the role of a technical official involves.  He didn’t disappoint.

So what is a TO?

The role of Technical Officials is primarily to promote the enjoyment of the sport but uphold the rules where safety and fairness may be compromised.

In other words, we were there to help and advise. We’re not there to disqualify and penalise, unless there is no other action we can take. We always try to educate, not penalise. We will always come and talk to you where we can.

 We’re all friendly and will always help with advice on race day.

What sort of things are we looking for?

Littering is a big no no. If you’re caught throwing your empty gel packets or any rubbish. You WILL be sent back to pick it up or disqualified. Littering is one of the things that is not tolerated by race organisers and TOs as it can jeopardise future events. Remember if you can carry it full, you can carry it empty.

Headphones no headphones are allowed to be worn in transition or out on the race course. This is for safety reasons but why would you want to listen to music and miss out on all the encouragement you will receive out on the course.

Helmets. Remember helmets must be fastened on your way into transition when racking your bike. You can only unfasten and remove once your bike is racked. Again in T1 you MUST put on and fasten your helmet before touching your bike and again in T2 you must leave your helmet on and fastened until you have racked your bike.

Bad language or aggression towards athletes or marshals. Remember most people who are helping at events are doing so for free so you can take part. Without them there would be no event.

Remember this is YOUR day whether it’s your first event or your 1000th. Enjoy yourself, you work hard to get to where you are.

Smile and your photos will look better.

Don’t be afraid to come and talk to us TO’s we’re all friendly and will always answer your questions.

I hope to see you all at a race one day soon and I may even ask you about the rules. Lol

Thanks very much Andy for that insight it  has certainly cleared a lot of grey areas up.  Hopefully you won’t  have to step in at any of our events. 

If anybody has any questions regarding the role or any specific race day questions they wouldn’t dare to ask on race day then ask away in the comments and we will put them to Andy.

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5 Snacks To Aid Post Run Recovery and Why

Running is an excellent exercise, and you need to work smart to recover well from each training run. Not recovering correctly between training sessions can lead to injury, fatigue and poor performance. Exerting yourself running causes glycogen to deplete and works the muscles, but a healthy post-run recovery snack can counter this. A balanced mix of carbohydrates and proteins makes the best post-training snack to refuel the glycogen and repair and protect the muscles. Here are some pro-runner tried and tested favourites to get you started. 

Banana 

The humble banana is one of the most accessible snacks to keep with you when training. It is an excellent source of carbs and digests easily. Bananas also contain glucose, fructose, sucrose, and starch, which is perfect muscle fuel. Finally, they have a good amount of potassium and magnesium, the former is needed for the body to balance fluid in cells, and the latter helps create new cells. 

Granola/Cereal Bars

Another easy fix that can be popped into your kit bag is the granola or cereal bar. Stick to those with a high oat content as oats have slow-release energy and a higher protein kick than some cereals. Watch the fat content; aim for less than 5g of fat and no more than 130 calories per bar.

Milk 

A natural source of carbohydrate and protein, milk is a great post-run drink and even better when flavoured. Chocolate milk was studied in 2009 by researchers at James Madison University. They found that muscle recovery supported by chocolate milk was faster and better than runners who consumed sports drinks after running. It leads to less soreness and a quicker recovery time. Again watch the sugar content and stick to those designed to be healthier. 

Nuts

Provided you are not endlessly snacking on roasted and salted varieties, most nuts after brilliant for post-training recovery. They are naturally high in fibre and protein and include vital vitamins B and E. B is needed for energy, and E protects the heart. Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, and more can help muscle recovery and lose weight. 

Blackberries 

High in antioxidants and phenolic acids, berries are another excellent choice for snacking post-run. Just 15 berries give you 1/3rd of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which can help fend off infections and kill viruses. They tend to be seasonal, so fresh blackberries aren’t always an option, but frozen berries make a great smoothie ingredient and are available all year round. 

The Takeaway 

The point of post-run snacks is to help the body recover from the effort and wear and tear that running causes. Note the emphasis on snacks; you do not want to undo all of your hard work by overindulging and seeing a run as the perfect chance to justify bad food. Keep things interesting by creating new post-workout combinations like peanut butter on rice cakes or blending fruit into milk. You should notice your recovery times improve, and your energy levels explode. 

Now you may or may not agree with the above but we would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Feel free to comment with your post run/workout food.

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10 Most Common Cycling Injuries And How To Prevent Them

Whether you’re cycling for leisure, exercise, or competition, injuries are a constant concern. Accidents can be unpredictable, injuries leave their mark, and poor form creates cumulative damage. 

However, some of the most common risks can be avoided with a little extra care and pre-planning.

Cuts and Grazes.

Scrapes and cuts are easily caused. These are commonly shallow ‘abrasions,’ but can easily be serious lacerations that require stitching or medical intervention. While a graze can heal quickly, any injury carries risk of infection and takes time and care to dress and clean correctly. 

Solution: Gaining additional protection from cycling shorts and jerseys can help limit damage to your skin. Taking the time to work on your balance and posture can also help prevent spills and trips. And it’s worth remembering that your weight should be shifted to the back of your bicycle. 

Hip Pain

Hip injuries can be caused by unavoidable impacts. But cumulative hip pain is trouble that can be easily avoided. This manifests as shooting pain at the side of your hip that radiates down the leg toward the kneecap. This is caused by a combination of muscle tightness and exacerbated by long-term sitting on your saddle or as part of our daily jobs.

Solution: The chief culprit here is your saddle height. To correct this, place your dominant heel on your pedal and adjust your saddle until your leg is completely straight. This should avoid over-extension and prevent ‘favouring’ of one leg over the other. 

Blisters

Seemingly unavoidable, blisters are the bane of all cyclists. These are produced by friction and cause fluid to pool in the layers of your skin. This commonly occurs in the hands and feet. It can also be seen in heat blisters from cycling in the sun, or blood blisters from pinches or caught skin.

Solution: If you are prone to blisters, coat the area with Vaseline and add protective binding to reduce friction. You should also ensure that your shoes and gloves are well broken in, and that your clothes fit properly, to help prevent unnecessary chafing. 

Urogenital Issues

A less talked-about concern for male cyclists is a condition called pudendal neuropathy. This is a numbness that affects the genital region and, if left unaddressed, produces pain or even long-term vascular damage. The issue is caused by cutting off the supply of blood due to the weight of the torso being focused on a small area.

Solution: Adjusting or replacing your seat can quickly resolve the issue. Look for one that matches your body shape and carries enough padding. Some makes and models remove parts of the seat for this specific issue, and using padded cycling shorts can also help combat problems. 

Acromio Clavicular Joint Sprain

An Acromio Clavicular (AC) sprain occurs on the shoulder and is localised to your collarbone. The front of the shoulder blade is attached by ligaments. Damage to these causes pain and can result in a potentially damaging shoulder separation. This also often caused by spills, falls, or landing on the shoulder or on an outstretched hand. 

Solution: Ensure that your pedals are level. This can help keep your weight evenly distributed. But caution is the best prevention. AC sprains are commonly caused when over-ending on a descent, so be conscious of your speed, braking, and look out for stumps or rocks that could cause incidents. 

Wrist and Forearm Pain

Cycling is fun, but it is important not to overdo it. Enthusiastic hobbyists and hard working professionals often find themselves victim to carpel tunnel syndrome or ‘cyclist’s palsy’ – an irritation of the ulnar nerve. This brings numbness, cramping, pain, and numbness that can lead to further accident or injury. 

Solution: Riding with slightly bent forearms reduces the pressure on your hand and wrists and allow the arms to act as shock absorbers. It is also essential to make sure that your wrists do not drop below the handlebars, which can cause damage if you are forced to come to a sudden stop. 

Lower Back Pain

Maintaining a ‘hunched’ posture when riding a bicycle can lead to lower back pain. This can lead to stiffness after a long session, or serious conditions such as sciatica, vertebrae issues, or a herniated disc. This can also cause neck pain, which can make daily tasks difficult and reduce your ability to look for danger when cycling. 

Solution: Your frame plays a key role in preventing back pain. An undersized frame causes the arching that results in back pain and an oversized frame leads to overextension, producing the same effect. 

Broken Collar Bone

A broken clavicle is one of the most common, and painful, injuries cyclists endure. This is caused by falling incorrectly in the wake of an accident. A rider places their hand out to cushion a fall and the impact travels up the arm, into the shoulder, and produces a fracture. This commonly happens in a descent, or when cycling competitively in a pack.

Solution: Learning how to fall correctly can prevent unnecessary harm. Aim to use the back of your shoulder, side, or buttocks to absorb an impact, and allow your body to go limp to reduce the risk of fractures. 

Head Injuries 

Head injuries range from cuts and scrapes, neck strains, all the way to a traumatic impact. Protecting your head should be a priority for all cyclists and wearing a properly fitted cycling helmet can reduce your risk of injury by up to 85%. 

Solution: In addition to wearing a helmet, learning how to protect yourself in the event of an accident is essential. When falling, keep your chin tucked to your chest and aim to absorb any impact with the back of your body. If your head connects with the pavement or a hard surface, always consult your doctor to eliminate the potential of concussion. 

Knee Pain

The repetitious nature of cycling puts significant strain on the joints of the knee. This can produce cyclist’s knee, strains, cartilage tears and wearing, or even end up contributing to long-lasting issues such as arthritis or chronic inflammation. Stiffness can also affect your ability to cycle and reduce your capacity to exercise, or carry heavy loads in daily life.

Solution: Checking the height of your saddle can help prevent overextension. Take the time to warm up correctly and moderate your training to build strength and flexibility, while allowing sufficient recovery time. 

What next?

Ultimately, understanding the risks – and how to avoid them – will have a positive impact on your cycling journey. This allows you to steadily build your fitness, travel and train safely, and enjoy cycling as a lifelong hobby that isn’t derailed by otherwise avoidable accidents.

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GO TRI Events. The Grassroots of Multi-Sports

Big shout out to Ollie Ashley from Ridgeway Media for this amazing post on why GO TRIs are amazing events. Go and give him a follow on social too. Facebook, Instagram

“GO TRI events are the grassroots of multi-sports. They are the Park Run of the multi-sport world, a place where everyone from the community can come together and participate in a sport they love – regardless of the fitness levels. When the race finishes, regardless of wether you finished first or last, everyone is together in the carpark with the same sense of tiredness and achievement. The field contains everyone from first timers on a borrowed mountain bike, through to UCI pro cyclists and every level in between. 


Having competed at triathlon for a couple of years, I have slowly worked up from being in the “I want to complete” to the “I want to compete” category, which means that my view on the GO TRI events has changed slightly. 

Ollie Ashley Tearing up a GO TRI at Manchester Airport


The GO TRI events have taken on a new, but just as important role within my race calendar. 


As the events are low cost and low pressure, they serve as a great way to get some ‘race intensity’ in a really friendly environment. I use the events to warm up and practice for key races throughout the year. The races are an ideal chance to test new clothing, new equipment or alternative strategies. If it goes well, then you’ve learnt that this is something you can carry forward through the season. If it goes badly? Well you can laugh it off at the end over a coffee. 


If you have bigger ‘A-Races’ later in the year, you don’t want that to be the time you realise that your shoes rub with no socks, or if you go over X amount of watts on the bike, your legs will feel like jelly on the run. If you’re anything like me, then you tend to learn from your (many) mistakes. It makes sense to make those mistakes in a friendly race, which only cost you <£20 to enter, rather than discovering those errors in your £400 Ironman event. 


I’ve made some cracking mistakes in the McA events, which have stuck with me and helped me further down the line. The first of which was after buying a new aero helmet, I had a tendency to not look as far forward as I should be. This became pretty apparent when I missed the first turning on the Manchester Airport Duathlon bike course, went 4 miles past the turning and knew something was wrong when I was heading down the slip road onto the motorway. Ever since then, I’ve always been terrified of going the wrong way, so ride in a position that offers much better visibility and is safer. I’ve not made the same mistake again!

Don’t go the wrong way Ollie


At the most recent event, I discovered that my snazzy new super fast nike shoes are great…until you take 2 minutes fumbling to put them on. Since then, I have changed the way I laced them and have practiced putting them on in a hurry. These are both two mistakes that would have certainly ruined my day in a more important (and expensive!) race. 


Alongside the races being a platform to practice the skill of actually racing, they make for a great training session. You’ll never push as hard in practice as you will in a race. It’s a brilliant way to fit in some ‘race intensity’ and get your body to remember what its like to push into those darker areas. As the race takes anywhere from 50 minutes through to 90 minutes, the duration is relatively short. This means that it won’t cause a huge amount of stress on the body, the likes of which would see you having to rest for a week afterwards. 


The way the events are structured and planned, you can be certain that there is one of them within a couple of weeks at any point through the summer. As such, they serve as great ‘tune-up’ races prior to a big race. If you’ve not raced in a few months, the first one back can always be a shock to the system. The McA events are a perfect way to dust off the cobwebs and assess your form prior to another race. Theres nothing better than heading into your ‘A-Race’ off the back of a great performance and feeling like a machine!


But the most important thing that keeps bringing me back? It’s just great to take to the road with my family (my Brother and Dad both enter too!) in a relaxed environment. We turn up, give it our all for an hour, then can sit and tell the war stories over a breakfast afterwards. Seeing first timers, from all backgrounds, crossing the finish line in front of their cheering family is a reminder to us all that however good we think we are, it’s the feeling of looking at the other competitors and knowing you’ve all put in the same graft that makes this a great sport. 


Oh and if you’re at an event and see me head off in the wrong direction…give me a shout yeah?”

If you’ve every wondered if there are “duathlons near me” the answer is yes. Head on over to our events page and take a look. Come and Give it a GO TRI (See what we did there????)

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5 Lesson’s I learned training For A Marathon

How do you know if someone’s ran a marathon? – Don’t worry they’ll tell you!!

Did I tell you I ran a marathon last year? Lol. I say I ran a marathon, there was a lot of walking, some time stopped, there were nearly some tears and a lot of self-talk, both negative, self-coaching and positive reinforcement.

The 5 hours and twenty minutes I spent on the Chester Marathon course was one hell of a journey and it wasn’t the euphoric buzz of completion I expected, in fact, I now feel 6 months on that I have unfinished business and I’m contemplating another…

Race day is supposed to be the culmination of all the hard work, its supposed to be nervous to start, but then fun, relaxed and almost easy until the sprint for the finish, after which you can celebrate with your loved ones and a cold beer. For me, there were no real nerves, in fact, none of the above applied. It was harder than the 16 weeks training I had (or hadn’t) done, there was relief not ecstasy as I crossed the line, and my point was a consolation one not a celebration.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to say I’ve done this distance, I got the medal, and I didn’t give up, however other than micky taking marathon runners a little bit, I haven’t really spoken about my experience.

Well, here it is folks, my 26.2 miles, my 16 weeks as a Smiling Tri athlete (I’m still an honorary one 😉) and my 5:19:51 in 5 key takeaways (1 for every hour)

Get your miles in

The first and probably most important. A marathon is a long way, you’re on your feet the whole time and (hopefully) you’ll be running the whole way. You’ll be running anywhere between 2 (pfft) and 6 hours really, with the “industry standard” cracking time is around 4 hours. 

The advice here is to ensure you get plenty of running in every week and prioritise your long runs. Now I’m not saying to run 10 miles every day, in fact, I wouldn’t target miles at all really… id try to focus on time. You know you’re going to have to run 26.2 miles but more importantly, you know it’s going to take you a long time, so it’s important to get your legs used to it. 

I would say, assuming you’re already a runner, training between 2 and 4 times a week for 3-4 hours is a decent place to start. 2 or 3 30 – 45-minute runs and maybe a longer 60-70 minute run too. At this stage, were not going crazy, and were looking at comfortable 5 – 10km runs. You’re then going to increase the time of your long runs every week or 2 and probably increase the frequency of your runs to also up your weekly distance. 4 – 5 runs a week is all that is needed, but you can easily increase your weekly miles by going from 3 runs to 4 by adding an easy 60-minute run. Easy being the optimum word (more on that in point 2).

With regards the time you increase your long runs, you’ve probably got 12 to 16 weeks to train, and you’ll be looking to get your longest run up to around 3-3 ½ hours, so from 60 minutes, you can add on around 10 – 15 minutes a week and include 3-4 deload or recover weeks too. Now you might have spotted that we haven’t got to 4 hours, or even 5 or 6, but this is where the rest of your week comes in. A second long(ish) run is a useful accessory, 75 – 120 minutes halfway through the week, provides additional hours on the legs, and if timed correctly, your second long(ish) run will help your ability to perform on tired legs and recover from long runs.

To summarise, I didn’t do enough running when training for my marathon, my long runs were skipped due to time for work and family commitments, and I focussed on my long(ish) and shorter runs. This left me struggling after a couple of hours on the legs on race day.

Practise your hydration

If you’re training for a sprint marathon, you’ll be training through the winter for what will hopefully be a pleasant day running and if you’re aiming for an Autumn marathon, then you’ll be training over the summer. Now as important as it is to fuel and hydrate for your training, you also have to bear in mind race conditions. I would go as far as to say you cannot over train for nutrition and particularly for hydration. And again, your long runs become important here, as if you haven’t run for more than 2 or 2 ½ hours you’re in no man’s land when it comes to fuelling…

I learned my lesson here. I “raced” in October on what I expected to be a cold, probably wet, day. It was cold but lovely. Too warm, to not hydrate at each aid station and that coupled with the 750ml electrolytes and 2 coffees I had pre-race, lets just say it wasn’t only my legs that got a workout… I hadn’t trained to run on so much fluid and with picking up a bottle of water at each aid station, I also had to stop to relieve myself at each aid station. If I had committed to my long runs I’d have both trained my legs and my bladder, particularly training through the summer, I’d have drank more and have more experience running while consuming plenty of fluid.

It goes without saying you need to fuel correctly, but for me, my lesson was to drink more, so I didn’t need to drink less on race day.

Use all the zones

Training Zones – a brief summary 

  • Zone 1, doing nothing to a gentle walk 2/10
  • Zone 2, easy jog/fast walk, fully conversational 4/10
  • Zone 3, conversation slipping to phrases 5.5/10
  • Zone 4, Threshold – you’re definitely working out now 7/10
  • Zone 5, 5–10-minute intervals, you’ll need roughly the same recovery between sets. And now you’re grunting, not talking 8/10
  • Zone 6, Sprints up to about 60 seconds and far more recovery… 9/10

Zones can be recorded by heart rate or power, but for the sake of this article, we’ll talk about RPE or rate of perceived exertion. In other words, if 1 is sleeping and 10 is all out effort, how hard do you feel you’re working?

You’re going to be running your marathon in mostly zone 2. You’ll be able to hold a conversation for most of your effort however you’ll occasionally hit zones 3 and 4 particularly if you hit a hill and you want to avoid zones 5 and 6 as you’ll likely need to walk to recover.

That’s race day though and during training you’re going to want to utilise them all! Longer runs (90 minutes plus) at Zone 2, 60 – 90-minute efforts will be using Zone 3, running at Tempo. You may run the odd Time Trial type effort, 30 – 60 minutes at Zone 4, nailing a 5 – 7km effort maybe. Then comes your Zone 5 and 6 efforts when you’re doing fast, hard repeats and working (including recovery) for maybe 45-60 minutes in a 90-minute session.

The emphasis for completing the event will be on your zone 2 runs and getting the hours in on your legs, for those who can nail the long runs and are looking for some speed on race day too, make sure you train through all your zones.

My lesson was to ensure I did all that was needed. I avoided long runs due to time and ended up topping out at 2 hours. Nowhere near long enough. I managed to get my shorter sessions in and maybe would have been better suited to a half marathon with the time I had, but honestly, my output in training didn’t work for either.

Time your training

Your marathon will start at probably 9am on a Sunday morning. That means you should try and get your long runs in at a similar time. You will know what you’re in for, you can prepare both mentally and physically. This is the important run to get in at a similar time to race time. If you do all your training at 7pm and never train in the morning, you will be in for a shock come race day. 

For me, my body does not want to move early doors, I wake up stiff and fatigued, so getting in some early runs including warms ups and mobility work, was a game changer. Even if my runs were only 90 minutes, it was at the right time. I could fuel appropriately, and I knew what I was expecting come race day.

I still worked full time and dealt with life and family admin, so a lot of my runs were evening based, but where I could I took advantage of a Saturday morning football match by running for the first half then watch Barney in the second, I snuck out before breakfast for a few miles o a Sunday but came home with coffee and cakes (to keep me out of trouble 😉)

I saved my zone 5 and 6 efforts for the evening after which I could refuel and sleep to optimise recovery.

Train Hard, Race Easy

Honestly, the most important lesson I learned from my marathon experience was to put the effort in in the 16 weeks before it. 

I had only planned to run 1 marathon and retrospectively, I wish I had sacrificed more in that time. I should have got up earlier on a weekend morning to be out and back before breakfast (or lunch), I should have used my commute to work to get extra easy miles in, I should have sacrificed Friday night takeaways for early nights and nutrient dense food. I had 16 weeks, or 64 runs to prepare for my marathon. Everything I didn’t do in that time would have made my experience on marathon day much more pleasant and I may have crossed the line buzzing instead of defeated.

As I write this blog, there are 26 weeks until Chester Marathon 2022 and I’ll be honest, I’m very tempted to finish that business.

One of my favourite things about success is that it’s the journey that makes it, it’s the process that should be enjoyed and revelled in. Race day should complete with a box ticked as part of said process. I don’t feel like I ticked that box, I wasn’t left with a “what next” feeling. 

I hope you take something from the lessons I learned. I hope you can use my mistakes to help you succeed at your first or next marathon, Ironman or whatever event your fitness journey takes you to next.

*Checks google for entry link to another marathon…

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Meet My Ride

As ever we are trying our best to make the wonderful world of multisport accessible to the masses.  As such I’ve decided to open myself up to scrutiny and talk you all through the kit I use regularly so you can see that having the most expensive kit out there to get the most out of the beautiful sport isn’t always necessary.

I hope you enjoy the video but if you would rather read instead of watch I’ve even gone to the trouble of transcribing my ramblings for you below.

Triathlons and gym as well but I am by no means an elite athlete (I do try) but I’m certainly not at the pointy end so that is obviously how we encourage people to come and take part as my events are far and  away suitable for absolutely everybody.  

So what I wanted to do was demonstrate what my bike setup is so that you’ve got an idea of what you might need and maybe how we can adapt what you’ve got to make sure what you’ve got is suitable for an event.   

That said there isn’t an unsuitable bike as we had somebody this morning take part on a fat bike which was fantastic and he actually did really well considering so let’s run through my bike.

To start off, it’s a 2014 specialised alloy that I got second-hand from a friend. It is in good condition. It’s an aluminium frame with aluminium forks as well so it’s not the lightest bike in the world but it does the job for me.   Brand new you are talking about £800 I think for the specs that this is. 

Like I said I got this second-hand so it’s not top of the range at all. It’s a nice entry-level bike that comes as standard with Shimano claris which has 1,2,3,4,5 8-speed on the back to 2 speed on the front.

Now I’ve done a few upgrades to it to suit my riding style because generally I ride for triathlons rather than standard rides.   I don’t do 100-mile rides, I don’t do a great deal of Hills so I’ve changed mine a little bit.

So what have I done to it? 

The first thing I did as was a few years old was change the bottom bracket and put a fresh, bottom bracket on so the bearings are a bit smoother. It now rides really nice and smooth. 

Whilst we did that what we did here was change it to a one by set up.   I’ve got rid of the two change rings and I’ve now just got the one.  I’ve increased the size of it which means I can go a little bit faster erm when I’m riding well in any of my gears.  So it’s now a 50 tooth  single tooth change ring.

I haven’t done anything to the back yet but over time my plan is to upgrade that to an eleven speed from an eight so that just gives me a few more gears to play with when I’m out on the road.

What else have I done to it? 

I’ve got these brand new wheels (Brand new to me). I picked them up from my friend James Roberts, James, from Roberts coaching and James Roberts race team.   They are second hand Bontrager aeolus comp 5s.   Slightly deeper rims and again the hub in the bearings are much better and much smoother.  It does feel really nice for me to ride now and just feels a little bit lighter. The rolling weights are a little bit better to give me that extra consistency on the bike.

I’ve also upgraded the wheels from the standard (sorry tyres) ones.  I’ve now got Continental Grand Prix 5000 in a tanned wall because it looks cool.   It’s not as much about going fast as it is looking cool. 

That’s pretty much it with what I’ve done with the bike, a few entry-level upgrades that have not cost me the Earth to do. I’ve not bought it brand new as would have cost me significantly more if I had and can upgrade from here myself.  

You might have a mountain bike which is absolutely adequate for an event.   if you want to ride it on the road you just switch out your knobbly fat tyres to fine more hybrid tyres.

You don’t need to change your tyres though as any safe bike is suitable just get down and take part. 

If you have any questions about bikes give us a shout we usually have Jack from bespoke cycling here so he’s always around to to offer advice and we will always point you in his direction as well for for any bike bike mechanics or upgrades