How about a hill climb for some ‘field’ top end tuning?

To give some context, whilst I’m a keen cyclist as part of being a triathlete and triathlete coach, my experience in cycle ‘events’ is limited to sportives and some informal 10k time trials.  So, when my local cycling club advertised a cycle hill climb, it was a completely new experience. In advance of the event, I could only think of the positives – taking part in an organised ‘event’ and as it was my first there were no comparisons so a sure PB!

As the first event approached, I did a bit of research, riders took as much off their bike as possible to reduce weight,and maximise mean power output (W kg-1). So off came my nutrition pack and saddle bag although I was keeping my bottle (half full).

The first event was a mere 2.2 k in length varying from 7 to 12%. I could ride to the start, pick up my number and spend 15 mins riding up and down nearby to keep warmed up.  Each rider starts at 1 minute intervals, with an electronic ‘count-down’ – which significantly elevated my heart rate as it descended, assisted by a friendly marshal.   At ‘Go’, I set off, fumbled with clipping in and started my garmin device. Supporters lined parts of the short route, with cowbells and encouragement (shouting ‘up up up’) and whilst enabling me to ‘dig in’ or ‘keep pushing’, there was nowhere to hide and I had to keep pushing. My heart rate rapidly rose to my zone 5, anaerobic zone…and stayed there! There was a slight leveling off before the final short ascent to the finish.  Increasing my seemingly maximal effort further I felt the tingling feeling in my quads due to lactate  build up.  Then, I was there -at the finish and it was done…in 10 minutes. With what felt like ‘exploding’ lungs I steadily descended to circuit back to the number pick up/drop off.

Since that first evening, I have completed a further three uphill time trials – two shorter ones and a longer one and the reason being, apart from the sense of achievement, feeling of being in an event with fellow ‘competitors’, it is also the training gains.  Compared to flat riding or even flat time trials, there is the additional gravitation force that you are working against. One ‘field’ study1 found that uphill cycling is performed at 90% of maximum heart rate and peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max) .   Whilst comparable efforts can be achieved on the turbo, it can be hard to replicate on an outside bike ride. The other question is ‘seated’ or ‘standing’? Several studies have looked at this question and the general consensus is that whilst power output is increased in standing, speed is similar to seated, due to additional mechanical forces in standing2, so the choice is yours. So, if you want to include some ‘top end’ training and enjoy being outside, think about incorporating some hill intervals.

1 Peinado, A.B et al (2018). Physiological Profile of an Uphill Time Trial in Elite Cyclists. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2018, 13, 268-273

2 Boulliod, A. and Grappe, F (2018). Physiological and biomechanical responses between seated and standing positions during distance-based uphill time trials in elite cyclists. JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, 2018 VOL. 36, NO. 10, 1173–1178

What a weekend!

Go Tri

The weekend started early Saturday morning with the final of a series of 6 Go Tri sessions.  Our budding duathletes had individually set targets for each element of the carefully designed course to give them all something to aim for.  Neither the damp and slightly chilly start nor the flood at the base of one of the hills deterred their spirits and all finished delighted with their progress and achievements.

The group did 3 virtual sessions which included strength and conditioning plus advice and discussions about upcoming races, kit, and different elements of training.  We also had an information sharing session specifically about pre, during and recovery nutrition.  The three face-to-face sessions built confidence on the bike, developed skills for transition and running off the bike.  With all of the group participating in a duathlon in the coming weeks, the final session was a race format closely matched to the distance and gradient for the challenge to come. Here’s what some of our duathletes had to say.

I have loved these sessions.  Great coaches and great participants.  I’ve picked up loads of tips and had fun along the way.  Thanks Vicky and Lynda!” 

What a fabulous few weeks and a really great duathlon organised this morning.  Big thanks to Vicky McKinnon and Lynda Cook – such professional and knowledgeable coaches but always put fun 1st!  Definitely recommend you take part in the their next one.”“What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!  The grey drizzly stuff didn’t detract from the fun either.  The session was so well organised and I came away with lots of learning points and a little more confidence – thanks VIcky McKinnon and Lynda Cook.”

Knutsford Marathon

Whilst this was going on, Al McKay was off on his very own virtual Knutsford Marathon.  Not to be deterred by the cancellation of the Edinburgh Marathon, Al was determined to see the reward from this very very hard work.  With months of S&C, road and hilly trail running in his legs, Al was supported by other Tri&Run and Run Knutsford athletes as well as his wife Louisa providing checkpoint refreshments!  A really fantastic effort by Al, smashing his goal in a perfectly paced run.

I felt like I got the best out of myself and took some great learning points for an actual race in the Autumn.  Thanks for all your help Vicky McKinnon.

Tour of the Peak

Covering 190 km with 3500m of climbing, our very own Lynda Cook completed the Tour of the Peak on Sunday morning.  A big adventure and the longest cycle ride for 2 years the route included Winnats Pass, Holmes Pass, and then Cat & Fiddle at 150k!  Not an easy feat and made even harder with persistent rain and a constant headwind.

“Big thanks to Vicky McKinnon for super coaching and confidence in my ability,  Bike in tip top shape after great work by

If you want to get started in triathlon/duathlon, running or that endurance challenge you’ve always wanted to do, get in touch with us!

Celebrating our first birthday

We are celebrating a year of Tri & Run evolving from Vicky to Vicky and Lynda.  So, here’s a look back at some of the highlights of the last year.


Our first outing for a catch up after the end of lockdown one. It had to be in the hills.
The fact that there were no races meant that we needed to set up a challenge for our athletes. We ended up with a great 20 miler, with some flat and quite a bit of hill work. Needless to say there were food stations and a lot of cake. 🍰
With some triathlons starting back in the summer of 2020, we had goals for our athletes to focus on. With limited ‘B’ races to practice, we did our own versions of swim, bike, run…and combinations of the three!

Our athletes are starting to get taste for some undulating runs, so we have at least one monthly adventure, often with some sort of challenge to complete, in all weather conditions!

2021 – So far

Kick Start 2021

Entering another lockdown in January we instigated Kick Start 2021 – an open challenge for anyone to sign up, whether a triathlete, runner or duathlete.  This month-long challenge provided an opportunity for some competitive challenges against others and coached sessions – running or cycling (turbo). With over 60 individuals entering the challenge there were many smiles and laughs within a virtual social environment.

Katy (one of our Kick Start 2021 athletes) enjoying the snow

Spring out of lockdown

The easing of lockdown restrictions and possible restart of races prompted an Easter 🐣 promotion.  Training plans were adjusted to support more athletes in getting ‘race-fit’ for the summer season.

Go Tri Knutsford

In collaboration with the British Triathlon Federation we are in the process of supporting a group of Go Tri athletes over 6 sessions.  We’re covering skills for swim, bike, run as well as thinking about racing.  Sessions are being held virtually as well as face to face. See for more information.

Planning ahead

We have a number of adventures planned for the next few months. The adventures are open to our Silver and Gold athletes and we have a Bronze package if you want to sign up to a personalised training plan.

If you’re interested in joining us, please get in touch!

A bit about us…

  • Vicky is a BTF level 3 Triathlon coach, endurance coach and EA running coach.  Vicky holds an MSc in Sports Science and is currently studying an MSc in Sports Nutrition.
  • Lynda is a BTF level 2 Triathlon coach and EA leader in Running Fitness. Lynda holds a PhD in human physiology and is currently studying a BSc in Sports Science and BTF level 2 triathlon diploma.

Why join Tri & Run

We pride ourselves on using our experience to provide personalized coaching for our athletes.  We really get to know our athletes and as a bespoke coaching provider we value this attribute to ensure our athletes receive optimized training for their individual requirements.  

We combine our scientific sport and coaching knowledge and experience from participating and coaching athletes of all abilities, to inform and direct our coaching.  Importantly, we continue to develop professionally and stay abreast of the current triathlete and running literature.

You can find out more about what our athletes say about us on our testimonials page.

Tri & Run & Bike!

This week’s blog is written by Ben, one of our coached athletes.

Last Sunday was the next eagerly anticipated Tri & Run meetup. These are always great fun, especially during the lockdown where it’s not been easy to catch up with people. Most of us were only running, but Lindsay went the extra mile (or ten!) and decided to ride to and from the run, meeting us half way.

Having done a long bike ride on Friday, I was a little bit anxious at the start of the run. My fears got worse as Vicky, Dave, Al and I headed straight up Shutlingsloe, but as always the views from the top were worth it. From there, we looped back to near the start where we met Lynda and Lindsay. After an incredible 20 mile run in the lake district the day before, Lynda was in a support role for the day, providing storage for Lindsay’s bike, cereal bars, water and smiles.


Al parted ways with us here, and Lindsay joined us, much to Vicky’s relief (There’s only so much Vicky wants to hear Dave and me talk about the history of the Beastie Boys).

By this point, I was starting to warm up a bit, unlike Lindsay’s feet which were pretty icy from the ride over. However, that didn’t slow her down as we crossed the fields, making a beeline for the famous Cat and Fiddle where Lynda was waiting for us again. From here it was a quick dart up to Shining Tor, and back. I was struggling with tired legs, but the group kept up the motivation and the good mood. Time flew by as we discussed everything from sports (the infamous European Super League) to favorite holiday destinations (apparently Venice is lovely at this time of year) and the joys of cold custard (If you haven’t tried one, treat yourself to a pastel de nata. You won’t regret it). By the time we were back to the history of the Beastie Boys, Vicky and Lindsay had mysteriously disappeared into the distance again.

By the time we were back at the car we’d done 10 hard miles out in the hills, but the company had made the time fly by. And the best was yet to come. As usual, our wonderful Tri & Run coaches had cakes waiting at the car. Vicky had prepared chocolate orange cookies, and Lynda had made some flapjacks. Both went down a treat as we waved Lindsay on her way.

Roll on the next event!

Back to racing

Today’s blog is by Lindsay. Thanks, and well done on your race!

The lockdown blues have ended, and it was time to get back to racing. I prepared just like the elite athlete Goldilocks, with my ‘just – right’ porridge breakfast, and then set off for Tatton leaving the 3 bears (husband and 2 teenage sons) snoring in their beds.

A hard frost and bitter cold hung over the park and the nerves started to kick in. After a proper warm up, I headed to the socially distanced toilets and crossed my fingers that the flush water wasn’t frozen.

The start was socially distanced, with 2 athletes setting off every 30 seconds or so. This felt a little unusual compared to the mass starts of old, but it was really well managed by the organisers.  The course was a little undulating, but it was lovely surprise to see my coach Lynda at the bottom of the longest drag. Her support really spurred me on to push on up the incline – she must have been freezing!  As I made my way to the finish, the parks majestic deer herd made an impressive appearance, showing their support for the racers in the cold. Crossing the finish line in a pleasing 45 minutes, the snow started to fall, and rounded off a lovely morning in Knutsford. Well done to all the fellow racers, being back at racing was a huge lift after months locked indoors.

Returning to the pool?

This week, Monday 12th April, marks the opening of indoor pools.  You may have been, like so many, eagerly awaiting the return.  The chances are, you will have been out of the water for 15 weeks, unless you’re a cold water open water/wild swimmer, but even then the cold weather will have been a constant limiter. In contrast, the pool provides an environment where you can swim, without any limiters other than yourself – you can swim safely for a set time, try different strokes and for many, it will be the environment where the vast majority of swim training as well as physiological conditioning, takes place for triathletes.

So, how do you approach the return to the pool?  Well, you may want to start by ‘digging out’ your kit and checking the googles still seal; in fact find a spare pair, just in case!  Next, think about the practical aspects of the swim session and make it realistic; everyone will have reduced their swim performance so think about it as a celebration to getting back in the pool, and giving those much needed legs a rest after cycling and running. Certainly for Tri and Run athletes we will be focusing on technique for the first session and progressing swim fitness, whilst re-establishing swim confidence. In fact, you may want to forget your GPS watch or look at the clock – forget about times and focus on the feel and re-engaging the water.  After a gentle warm-up, don’t be afraid to take a break, whilst you maybe cycle or run fit, be patient with your swimming.  Keep the goal for this first session realistic.

As the first swim session approaches, you can manage your anxiety or excitement with breathing techniques, using steady, long breaths whereby your exhalation is longer than the inhalation.  Breathing rate is also key in the water and take time out to sink to the bottle and feel submerged in a controlled manner.  Using imagery and self-talk is another way to control your feelings.  Keep the positives in focus, again, this includes before entering the water but also whilst in the water – particularly for that all important first ‘push-of’ from the wall. Remind yourself why you swim, the enjoyment, the fulfillment of exercise in a weight-bearing environment and a great whole body workout that is perfect after that hard run. If you feel yourself becoming anxious whilst swimming, re-focus on specific positives – think of something else such as meeting up with a friend, a family member and situation, that cake you want to bake or that garden project; use anything to take your mind to stay in the comfortable.

So, Tri and Run’s top tips for a successful return to the pool are to set clear goals for the initial session(s) and draw on techniques to help you boost your swim confidence.  From there, you can then build your swim conditioning. 

To find out about our triathlon / swim training programmes and coaching, get in touch;

First Tri & Run event of Spring

We’ve got another guest blogger this week! Thanks to David Ward for writing up a fantastic run report.

Meeting in the middle of nowhere normally scares me. After careful planning I was finally comfortable with the knowledge that the place existed. I was slightly less comfortable knowing that after months of flat Knutsford lockdown running this was going to be all about the hills.

The beauty of these runs is not the distance. It’s all about the scenery and company, so when the six of us met up on a fresh but bright morning in a quiet Clough House Car Park at 8am I knew it was going to be hard but fun.

After a surprisingly small amount of faffing from me and Lynda we were off on a gradual little incline that got steeper and steeper. Underfoot conditions were tough which added to the difficulty in breathing for the first mile but slowly everything came back and despite a slight trip by me we were moving along.

As anyone will know on a Vicky and Lynda run you never quite know what to expect. However you always know that cattle (the bigger the better), hazards such as dodgy styles and fences along with never being 100% sure we are in the right place, all feature. Today was no exception although disappointingly distance and route worked surprisingly well.

Never having sampled the area before I’m told we visited Three Shires Head, stopping for a cheeky snap before carrying on passing jumping sheep and feeding farmers with the pace allowing us to take in the spectacular scenery.  

The bridge at Three Shires Head

After so long apart the conversation flowed which probably led to us all not realising that Vicky and Lynda had a diversion in place to add a mile onto the end of the run. This being Vicky and Lynda, it was no normal mile, just a little stroll up Shutlingsloe to take in the spectacular views before the slightly easier path down to the car at a much busier car park.

The view from the top of Shutlingsloe

Now some may argue that this is the best part of the run. Having two of the best cake bakers (I may be biased here) means no run is complete without cake. These never disappoint and today was no exception. It’s amazing what you find out over cake with me admitting “I’m more of a Sorbet Man”, Lynsey admitting to have worked some of the worst jobs and Ben leading the way in middle class recipe swapping which would have put the Women’s Institute to shame.

Another truly great adventure with some great pictures to add to the memories. Here’s to the next one, although my legs may not say the same tomorrow.

Fat Adaptation and Endurance Performance

Is this the perfect way to train for longer and lose weight?

There is a vast amount of nutrition advice for athletes and one area of current interest is the use of low carbohydrate, high fat diets to improve performance.  The idea is that if you can train your body to become ‘fat adapted’ you will be able to better utilize fat as a fuel source when training or competing. 

Fat provides more than twice the energy, per gram, than carbohydrate and even the most lean athletes have an unlimited supply of fat – no matter how far you go. In contrast, the body can only store a limited amount of glycogen – the stored form of carbohydrate.  The muscles will store about 500g, the liver about 100g, which together provides about 2400kcal of energy.  If we estimate that we burn 100kcal per mile when running – our body’s store is not enough to fuel a marathon.  Therefore the ability to utilise our abundant fat stores is clearly beneficial for endurance sport. 

If an athlete could train themselves using a low carb, high fat diet, to be ‘fat adapted’ would they be able to better utilise fat, saving the glycogen stores for later in a long training session or for that vital sprint finish? 

The body needs more oxygen to enable it to metabolise fat, so running aerobically – at a low intensity, would mean that your body would choose the limitless store of fat to supply fuel rather than the glycogen stores.  So far, so good! However, when you work harder up a hill, for a sprint finish or to overtake a fellow competitor your body will need to utilise glycogen.  Therefore, if training in a low glycogen state, you will be unable to produce the same results and benefit from the same training stimulus than when starting training with fully stocked glycogen stores.  An athlete will just be unable to improve their overall endurance performance through this dietary manipulation strategy.  In fact, research showed that the muscle’s ability to utilise glycogen may actually be impaired following a low carb, high fat diet. So, whilst a low carb diet will stimulate fat metabolism, it may hinder your performance…being unable to sprint finish, run up that hill or overtake on the bike. In fact, there is no evidence that a low carb diet has enhanced elite performance1.

But it is not all negative.  There are health benefits to low carb diets such as improving insulin sensitivity, which is important for those individuals with/susceptible to diabetes. There could be some good news for athletes that benefit from a positive power to weight ratio.  A low carb diet can help an athlete to obtain a better body composition which may decrease weight, and therefore have a positive impact on climbing hills on the bike.

Changes to a diet should be done with the support and advice of a specialist.  At Tri & Run we have a sports nutritionist in training….ready to gain experience and help you achieve your nutritional goals.

1 Burke, L.M. (2020). Ketogenic low‐CHO, high‐fat diet: the future of elite endurance sport? J.Physiol. 599 (3) 819-843 [online]. Available at: (Accessed 20 Feb 2021) 

Carmichael Clinic of Physiotherapy and Acupuncture

Tri & Run are delighted to announce we have a new association with The Carmichael Clinic.

Established in 1991, The Carmichael Clinic is a team of professional, highly qualified Chartered Physiotherapists who are all registered with the Health Professions Council.  They are able to deal with the management and prevention of a wide range of conditions tailoring treatment programmes to include the most effective integration of the therapies available at the clinic.  The Carmichael Clinic has good links with medical consultants if required.

The Carmichael Clinic are offering a free short phone consultation and 20% off the initial appointment (if required) for all Tri & Run athletes.  To qualify for this perk, you must obtain a code via your membership details.

Tri & Run are dedicated to doing all we can to help you achieve your goals and we believe our partnership with The Carmichael Clinic will be mutually beneficial.

​Carmichael Clinic of Physiotherapy and Acupuncture

​King Edward House, 16A Princess Street, Knutsford, WA16 6BU

01565 750035

Looking back at Kick Start 2021

Yesterday marked the end of our Tri & Run Kick Start January event. Huge thanks and well done to everybody that took part. Today’s blog is written by Katy Barnes, who wanted to share her thoughts about the event. Thanks Katy, and get well soon!

Well, where to start?! 
Having hardly run (or done anything much vaguely sporty for that matter) for the last year or so due to a combination of injury, illness, and let’s be honest a bit of downright laziness too, I was in need of not only some motivation for 2021, but more like a big kick up the bum! Like many of us, I have been working from home since March last year, and without my regular running club friends, I was finding it hard. Despite trying a couple of times by myself, I was struggling to get back into running without the routine that fits nicely around my ‘normal’ working day/week. 
Then I saw the advert for Tri and Run Kick Start 2021. Four weeks of structured coaching, tailored to you and whichever level you choose to join, and with a lot of motivation along the way. I knew I would be in good hands as I already knew one of the coaches, Lynda, and had heard nothing but great things about Vicky from her. To top it all off, only £6 for the whole thing. It was perfect! I signed up before I could change my mind!
Well, I was in for quite a surprise when I opened the plan for week 1! Not just a couple of midweek runs round the block and a long run at the weekend, there were interval sessions, a timed 5km, and then I saw it didn’t just include running either! I knew that strength and stretch work was something that ‘proper’ runners did, but I didn’t think it would be part of the novice programme, and this was just week 1! This was definitely going to kick me up the bum and get me moving! 
A little daunting perhaps at first, but what I hadn’t been expecting, and what really got me motivated, was the added excitement of the ‘spreadsheet’!! Personalised with our own paces and details of everything we needed to do for the week, I’m not ashamed to admit I probably became a little too fond of the ‘spreadsheet’ over the weeks, and couldn’t wait to fill it in after a training session, or just check in on it and see how others were getting on. That brings me to the next part – the group motivation has been amazing! Seeing everyone get out there and push themselves through all sorts of challenges in all sorts of weather has been so inspiring, and really kept me going – if they can do it then so can I, no excuses! I’ve also learnt loads – everything from the best places for hills and interval sessions, and new local routes, to how to use my watch properly! Most of all, I’ve connected with new people, whom I hope to meet in real life some day soon and ‘Tri and Run’ together with them. 
Week on week I found myself not just ‘getting the training done’ but looking forward to it. Planning my week, prepping myself for new challenges and beaming with daft smiles when I’d completed them. The ‘Naked Run’ challenge was a real eye opener for me, reminding me that there is a lot more to running than just pounding the same pavements and listening for those beeps every time you go out! I’ve started to find the joy in my running again, even if it’s under different circumstances. 
The finale:
I was absolutely over the moon to find myself at the top of the week 3 leaderboard in my category! My competitive spirit most definitely would have kicked in and battled my way through the final week in a jostle for the top spot, had a cruel trick of nature not landed me in hospital, where I’m currently writing. Despite this, I have been keenly watching the action this week, and the competition is heating up! I can’t wait to see who will come out on top. Whoever it is, all the participants have been absolute stars, and I hope they have enjoyed the challenge as much as I did! 
I can’t finish without saying a huge huge thank you to Vicky and Lynda for everything. You pushed me to do things I never would have done by myself, and I already saw such an improvement in just 3 weeks. I can’t wait to get back and finish week 4 when I’m ready!