Nutrition is one of the few areas of endurance sports products that seems to have genuine innovation in it at the moment. Not only that but innovation from small British companies who are delivering some excellent products and who are able to compete with the bigger brands. I’ve never really enjoyed the traditional gels/bars/drinks from Powerbar etc; not something I stomach easily and it didn’t sit well with my approach to eating in general where I try to eat fresh food that is organic/free range. Feels odd to be eating that way during the week and then stuffing sugary gels into my body whenever I run or ride.
That’s where companies like Jersey Pocket come in with products that use quality ingredients with little processing and no preservatives or refined sugars. If I was a Fitspo Instagrammer I’d be tagging all my photos of these bars with #cleaneating or #realfood but that’s just a stupid way of saying eating properly. But whatever you call it these bars are excellent, not all to my taste as you will see but I cannot fault the quality.
Triathlon surely has to be the ultimate sport for gear junkies? Most sports provide an opportunity for you get gear obsessed and be sucked in by marketing pitches that guarantee to improve your sporting performance but triathlon trumps them all with 3 sports and lots of shiny gear. Which means doing triathlon on a budget can appear, from the outside, to be impossible as you look at the gleaming carbon on display in any transition area.
But it is possible with some sensible decisions and use of second hand sites like eBay so I thought I’d share my top tips for doing a triathlon on a budget.
I wore cycling shorts and a cycling top for both my triathlons, don’t assume you have to have a tri-suit, I did a half ironman like this and worked perfectly fine, just make sure you test out running in it of course. Also as recommended by Cathy Drewbies look out for last seasons kit that has been reduced, you can get some real bargains and let’s be honest this seasons colours aren’t going to make you faster no matter what the company tells you.
Thankfully not too much kit needed here; googles are cheap and most races provide a swim hat. For a wetsuit I thoroughly recommend taking a look at eBay, there are plenty of good suits on there that have had little use after people do one race and then lose motivation. I picked up my suit for less than £70 and it’s in near perfect condition and retails for almost £200.
Well ladies and gents I now officially have a DNF on my racing record, not quite the objective for Equaliser triathlon but if I’m honest not altogether surprising. The 3 weeks before the race featured major toothache and then pain due to the removal of said tooth, it didn’t feature much in the way of training. Coupled with very little sleep the night before due to very noisy campsite neighbours and my expectations weren’t high.
So it was that after one lap of the bike course I decided to call it quits, my legs had been cramping from the moment I got out of the swim and I had nothing in my legs on a very hilly course (650m of elevation gain per lap). The build up didn’t help, nor did riding my bike less than 10 times before the race, turns out you can bluff you way around a hilly half ironman. But hey, I got to stand in the sun and watch my friends suffer in the increasing heat rather than drag myself around the run course.
The premise the Equaliser triathlon was men vs. women with the women setting of 32 minutes before the men which apparently is the average time difference between the sexes in a half ironman. There was a decent cash prize for whoever finished first, male or female, and there were some fast people there as a result. This race certainly had a very different feel to it than the Cotswold Classic, a very small field of 90 competitors vs. 500 odd and I’ll be honest I’m not sure I liked it. With the money on offer and the small field it all felt a little serious and there was very little chat with the other competitors.
I seem to have become somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde runner, a split personality with 2 conflicting sides trying to dominate the choice of training and racing. 2 different approaches to running that have little in common with each other beyond putting one foot in front of the other.
The Hyde runner
This is my natural side; the trail runner, happiest when out on the trails breathing in the fresh air and basking in the glory of the British countryside. A place where pacing, PB’s and 400m reps are irrelevant, where the wildlife you see is as important as the kilometres you cover. It feels like home as you watch the seasons pass over a runners year. The smell of rapeseed in bright yellow fields during the first hot days of the year, the crunch of your feet on grass frozen solid on early January mornings, spotting deer in the dawn light as they munch on the first spring shoots.
I like the escapism of trail running, of getting away from the busyness of modern life and finding some peace. It becomes a form of meditation, albeit one where you puff and pant your way up a hill. I don’t run anywhere particularly tough or high very often but it’s enough of an adventure to make me feel alive.
I ran over 500km in the first 2 months of this year as I trained for the quadzilla, then after a short break picked it up again training for the Milton Keynes marathon. Significantly higher than last year and an awful lot of running to fit in around work and family. Plus marathon training can all get a little bit intense can’t it? You focus on every run and how it contributes towards achieving that big time goal, so right now I’m trying to have a little fun.
I’m triathlon training, something which I think I’m going to try and do every year at some point having enjoyed it so much last year. I’m doing another half ironman which I know is a little crazy seeing as my objective is to have some fun but I genuinely enjoy the longer races. I like the challenge of endurance and actually the longer you race the more relaxed the event gets in my experience.