Today’s blog is written by Karen Hatton, another of our Kick Start 2021 participants. Thank you Karen!

“Come and join the Yoga class my friends would say to me way back in the 80’s, and I did, but just 3 or 4 times, and then never again.  At that time, it just didn’t resonate with me.  I was into aerobics, some of you may remember those days – leotards, ankle warmers, fame style! I had small children and so not a lot of time and always felt as though I had a choice between keeping my heart healthy and coming out of a class hot, sweaty and red faced, or doing Yoga, which was slower, and wasn’t what I considered to be a proper exercise class.  

Oh, how wrong I was! 

I was re-introduced to yoga last year whilst training for my first half ironman, following the YouTube phenomenon Adriene & her 30-day yoga journey 2020.  (Please check out her current 30-day journey 2021 ‘Breath’, and her very gorgeous dog Benji).  I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the sessions, so following my training I decided to have a proper go at Yoga and started the full 30-day journey.  It was a bit random at first but the more I did the more I started to understand what it was all about and I don’t mean the poses!  I discovered that Yoga is about promoting control of mind and body.  It’s only taken me 30 years! 

I’ve learnt to breathe, woo hoo!  I’ll bet you all thought you could breathe, well I’m telling you that you most certainly can’t, unless of course unlike me you discovered this little secret way before me!  Just being able to focus on my breath I find really helps me shut out all those nuisance things in my head, but more importantly I’ve learnt that this type of focus helps me put things into perspective and to take a positive out of whatever that nuisance might be, which in the current climate when there is so much bad news, confusing news and fake news is a wonderful revelation.   The last few weeks have been a challenge for me as far as family and friends for various reasons, and yoga and the space it gives me has really helped me make sense of it all.” 

OK, so what about the poses/ yoga postures?  A yoga pose or posture is known as an Asana, which is defined as ‘a position that is steady and comfortable’.  Yep, that’s what I said ‘comfortable’.  Yoga is about a full body experience and the poses are not meant to hurt or be uncomfortable.  Yoga is about the way we move, listening and being in tune with our body and therefore taking the pose as far as we can comfortably and that being enough, so not beating ourselves up because we can’t reach our toes or balance on one leg and just give it up as a lost cause. 

Oh, and the bonus, it builds muscle strength, in particular core strength, flexibility, balance and control, all things we can use in the activities we love and, in our case, that’s running and tri.  But in addition, we can take this into our everyday lives, so for example, next time you are stood in a queue, or in the playground waiting for your children to come out of school (in my case, my grandchild), consider how you are stood which is more than likely weight on one foot and head down hunched over your mobile (bet I nailed that one!).  Ok, so now change it, and move from your core, then distribute your weight evenly across both feet and lift your head up and look around.  It will do wonders for you and your posture and you might even see something funny or amazing. 

There are lots of us girls doing Yoga and not so many of you guys, and I strongly believe everyone can benefit from yoga in some shape or form, so come on guys give it a go, and remember it doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes with those tight hamstrings, maybe in a year you will have increased that flexibility just a bit and even if you haven’t, you most certainly will have improved the whole body and mind experience.  

Yoga has helped me as a runner and triathlete to stay strong.  Just like the performance prep and stretching sessions we have done as part of the 2021 Kick Off Challenge, it all contributes to your form.

Kick Start 2021 – Week 3

This week’s blog is written by Lindsay from wordy bird about her experience with Kick Start 2021 so far.

I’ve made it to Week 3! Amazing! 

Little did I know what I was letting myself in for, when lolling on the sofa one Sunday night, I noticed Lynda Cook, one of the lovely D Group leaders from Macc Harriers, had tagged me in a post.

Tri and Run? Yes, I do try and run, I thought. Without much success! And I seem to get slower with each run.

Tri…I was suspicious, was this one of Lynda’s mad tri-athlete endeavours? Only designed for the super-fit, super-talented people that can swim, bike and run with ease?

I was about to carry on perusing my phone, when I noticed you could just do the run bit – and that as well as Advanced, and Intermediate, there was a Novice category. 

It was January, I’d eaten my body weight in Christmas cake and cheese footballs and I needed something to motivate me.

Before I knew it, I’d stopped scrolling and signed myself up!

What’s it been like?

OK, I’ve only done 2 full weeks so far but it’s been fantastic to have a challenge and a structure to follow. I’ve realised I respond well to having a target. 

At the start of each week, we get sent a plan with various activities, including different runs (intervals, hill reps, tempo runs, long runs etc) but also links for videos (Preparation and Performance and Stretch). Plus the all important spreadsheet to record your results!

The weekly challenges are all based around a timed 5k at the beginning so the exercises are tailored to your own ability – pushing you just enough to do better and go faster, without demoralising you.

Each activity is worth a certain number of points. At the end of each week, the totals are totted up and prizes awarded. The ‘points mean prizes’ philosophy works incredibly well. We all spur each other on, with a bit of gentle competition and a lot of encouragement. It’s getting to the stage where I’ll do almost anything to win a purple buff!           

Why it works

At the moment, many of us are missing running in a group. Although, I’m still doing most of my runs on my own, it’s been great to feel part of a larger body and share experiences:

  • Weren’t those hill reps dreadful?
  • What’s a tempo run and what’s a threshold run?
  • Where are you going for your Naked run? (not what it might sound like!)             

As well as encouraging and motivating one another, there have been a lot of laughs in the WhatsApp group too.

Providing expert support 

Having direct access to two fantastic coaches, Vicky McKinnon and Lynda Cook is brilliant. They analyse the results each week and adjust our target times and pace accordingly. What’s particularly good, though, is that they’re on hand to answer our many, (many) questions!    

Encouraging discipline

Working from home means it can often get to 6.30pm and I realise it’s dark and horrible and I haven’t been for a run. Kick Start has made me plan ahead and make sure I think about the best time to fit everything in. “I’ll just nip out and do some hill reps at lunchtime,” was something you’d never have caught me saying before this! 

Taking you out of your comfort zone

I’m the last person to do any form of strength work, usually. This was obvious when I asked what an S&C session was! It quickly became apparent my Strength and Conditioning session wasn’t going to consist of much strength! So much so, my husband was in hysterics watching my hopeless attempts to do a plank, saying he’d have to pull me up off the floor with a resistance band!

I suppose I like to think I’m just a runner and running’s all I need to do. But I’ve always known deep down strengthening my core would make a huge difference.These sessions are great as they explain how a certain exercise will help a particular aspect of running. 

Kick Start 2021 has forced me to grit my teeth, grab my tins of beans for weights and do some proper strength training.    

And I’m pleased to report I’ve actually done a proper plank, at last!   

Not just the running 

I’ve also valued learning various other things – such as how to use my Garmin properly for intervals or how to plot routes. As well as all the advice from Lynda and Vicky, the other participants have been really helpful. It’s a true Kick Start community.    

Glad I signed up?

Absolutely!  Having a plan with targets and goals is really motivating and knowing that I’ve got to put my results in a spreadsheet at the end of each week is a great incentive – did I mention there were prizes?!     

What’s more for just £6 for 4 weeks, it’s fantastic value. The price of three tubs of cheese footballs, in fact – and a lot better for me!

Thanks Lindsay. You and all of the participants are doing amazingly! Keep up the good work.

Announcing our associates

Here at Tri&Run, we’re dedicated to doing all we can to help you achieve your goals. To that end, we’re delighted to announce that we’re teaming up with some local businesses that we believe will improve your performance in one way or another.

To start us off, we’re partnering up with two companies based Macclesfield. Chris at B-spoke custom bike builds can help you build the bike of your dreams. He’ll help you at every stage, from designing the bike all the way through to build to ensure that all of your needs are catered for. Chris has kindly offered all Tri&Run athletes a 10% discount on labour costs.

We’re also teaming up with Richard Storer who is a mobile sports masseur in Macclesfield. Sports massages can help with recovery and injury prevention, so get in touch with Richard if you’ve got any niggles!

We’re hoping to announce more associates soon, so head over to our page to see all the info.

Kick Start 2021 – An athlete’s perspective

This blog is written by Rachel, who is taking part in Kick Start 2021.

That period between Xmas and New Year, “betwixtmas” or something I think it’s called?, is usually a time for me to both get excited about our New Year’s Eve plans, and also to plan my new year’s resolutions, which usually involve a sporting challenge of some sort. This year however, that all felt a bit flat. New Year’s Eve plans were cancelled at short notice, and I really couldn’t find any motivation for sporting resolutions as there was no certainty that any events I might enter would actually be going ahead. So I limped somewhat demotivated into 2021.
I had seen a couple of promotions for the Tri & Run kickstart plan, my very good friend Lynda being one of the coaches. I’d kind of ignored it as I thought I didn’t really want a coaching plan when I’m not training for anything. But I kept seeing it, I think it must have been subliminal messaging from Lynda, and then when she tagged me in a post about it I thought I’d better have a closer look! 
I actually liked what I saw, a mere £6 for the challenge, and the format seemed to be both fun and competitive, with plenty of opportunity for morale boosting team chat. So I decided to sign up. I don’t actually think Lynda would have let me get away with not doing!

One week in and it was definitely the right decision! It’s great fun, I feel like I’m engaging in team activity although I’ve only actually been running on my own. I’ve felt motivated to go out and do runs I wouldn’t otherwise have done. Like today- it was way too cold and normally I would have just stayed in but I went out for my 45 minute run and so glad that I did. I’ve done the strength and conditioning routine twice but think I will up that to 3-4 times a week as I can feel the benefits already. 

There are loads of triathlon/running coaching plans and organisations out there, but this is the first one I’ve come across that does this kind of team activity. You don’t need to commit to anything long term and you don’t need to have any substantial goals or ambitions, this plan would suit anyone who just wants to get out there and get running and maybe sometimes needs a bit of a prod and is open to new ideas about different types of runs, but equally would suit more advanced athletes who want to follow a structured weekly plan.

 I’m excited already about what’s in store for next week, and hearing how my fellow teammates are performing. Thanks Lynda for getting me to sign up! 

Thanks Rachel for your perspective. We’re into our second week of the Kick Start 2021 challenge, and so far our Athletes seem to be loving it. Some other feedback we’ve had so far:

  • I am loving this challenge!
  • Thanks Vicky, never had soooo much fun at start of the year.
  • Well I now can’t feel my toes or my fingers!! and it was not a 5k pb but it got me out on an icy freezing cold Wed eve. Thanks for the motivation Vicky.
  • Thanks Vicky; this will keep us going and god we’re going to need it!

It’s not too late to sign up and join the fun. Simply head to Kick Start 2021 and follow the instructions there.

Kick start 2021

If like us you’ve had a couple of weeks of much needed over-indulgence, but are now looking for some motivation for 2021, why not sign up to our January Challenge!

Whether you’re a runner or a triathlete, for just £6 we’ll give you 4 weeks of individual progressive coaching to kick-start your 2021.

Our team of Tri & Run coaches have created beginner, intermediate and advanced challenges for triathlon and running, and we will be publishing details of what’s required each week.

We’ll be giving prizes for progress, participation and social media interaction, so for those who want to start 2021 with a fun, challenging and social event, head on over to our kick start 2021 page before the 4th to sign up now!

Overcoming the COVID blues: My half marathon journey

Today we have another guest Author. Massive thanks to Al for this one

It’s a glorious November day. My watch has just ticked over the 17 km mark, 4.1 km to go. I can see my race competitor (my wife, Louisa) in front of me, and I am hitting the wall – hard. 

The idea to run our first half marathon came to us a year before. Having celebrated our 1st anniversary by climbing (loose term) Helvellyn in the Lake District, we sat in a café thinking of ways to celebrate our 2nd. As neither of us had run much beyond 10 km at the time, we settled on the Tatton Half Marathon as a feasible challenge.

Roll forward a few months and…well, we all know what happened! Events were being postponed or cancelled, we could no longer run with clubs and, just for good measure, I developed gluteal tendinopathy in early April and had to take a break from running. Not only were we locked down, with a chance of the race being cancelled, I was unable to train. How was I going to maintain motivation to train for and complete my first half marathon?

The key for me was to break it down into smaller goals: get my motivation back; get help with the injury; and build up my endurance.   

I enlisted the help of Tri n Run coach, Vicky McKinnon. We set about developing my strength and technique to avoid injuries and built my endurance back up. Doing my exercises and working to the plan that Vicky and I had put in place gave me a sense of achievement, and with that the motivation returned. Before long I was back running, still with a lot of work to do, but with a definite sense of purpose. 

The next question was “What if the race gets cancelled?”. Knowing that this was completely out of my control, I decided that whatever happened on November 8th, I would run a half marathon. Alas, with just days to go, it was cancelled. Still determined to complete it and not let the training go to waste, race prep went ahead. Vicky and I discussed strategy the weekend before, and I settled into my pre-race routine fully armed with everything I needed to get the most out of the experience. 

The morning of the ‘race’ was fairly relaxed. Whilst we missed being surrounded by the buzz of an official event, it was nice to not have to queue for any last-minute loo breaks! I cheered Louisa on as she set off. I was to start 15 minutes later on the same route, so that we would finish around the same time. Just as I was about to leave, the cat, clearly thinking I looked nervous, released a (live) good luck charm into the kitchen. I lost a further 5 minutes chasing, catching and releasing his ‘gift’ before I set off; not the most conventional warm-up, but effective nonetheless. 

Cat gifts forgotten, I headed out and, finding a rhythm, set about my target pace. Listening to my body and making sure I didn’t go out of the gate too fast, the first 17 km passed rather enjoyably,  taking in a loop of Tatton and then heading out into the country lanes. However, with 4 km to go I began to struggle. I was hovering around the super-ambitious target we’d set of 1hr 45; with a hard push it was achievable, but it wasn’t going to be easy. 

Desperately wanting to hit that target, I ploughed on through the pain. My final kilometre took me through the park. Instead of the customary cheering crowds, only confused bystanders were there to witness me sprinting towards an invisible finish line. But it paid off – I broke 1hr 45 with 11 seconds to spare. I was elated; not only had all the training, effort and motivation allowed me to complete the distance, but I had beaten my target time. Shortly after, Louisa crossed the ‘finish line’ and much high fiving, selfies and congratulations ensued.  

The experience of running a half marathon solo and preparing during lockdown taught me that you don’t need a race to be motivated. Setting smaller goals, planning and determination will create the motivation you need to achieve your bigger goals. Accountability is also important: telling family and friends I was going to do it, (and not wanting to let coach down!) played a big part. The experience has made me even more excited to run a marathon next year. Whether the event goes ahead or not, on 30th May 2021 I AM running a marathon! 

Under Starters Orders: First Ever Tri & Run Competition

Written by Lindsay – One of our Tri & Run athletes

Tension and excitement filled the air last weekend as 6 runners and riders from the Tri and Run team were preparing for a frolic in the Forest. In pairs, the challenge was to run and navigate around a tough going course, collecting answers to clues along the way.
There was a handicap system in place, with each team being allocated a specific time to complete the 9 miles, including 450m of ascent, and collect the answers to the clues. The judges had clearly based these times on Red Rum, and we all quickly concluded that there was neigh-way we were going to make them, so we were just going to enjoy the trot out with our trusty companions and complete the course.

The level of preparation and planning was variable across the teams, most were saddled up and ready to ride, whilst Ben and Dave were still horsing around in the stable. The judges began to get concerned about the competitors safety as Hannah claimed she had never even heard of a map, Grace struggles to find her car in the car park, whilst my team mate Al thought he would install confidence in his navigational ability by telling me he once nearly navigated himself off a cliff edge!

Race day arrived, and following a substantial nose bag for breakfast and a successful weigh-in, Al and I happily trotted off on our trusty steads in what we hoped was the right direction.

Almost immediately the terrain went steeply uphill, which we later came to realise was going to become a bit of a theme, and I became increasingly worried about being with Al near cliff edges. Navigating around to find the answers to the clues gave a great focus to our run and distracted us from the gale force winds and driving rain. Some clues were straightforward, whilst others, like the footbridge sign, felt like we were looking for Sheargar. We also made sure that we took time to take in the beautiful surroundings and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live and run in such a beautiful place.
A couple of hours later, and significantly slower than Red Rum, we were safely back at the start with no siting of the other teams. Hannah and Grace were the dark horses in the challenge, so may already be home with a Sunday roast, whilst Ben and Dave could be well…….anywhere……

Following  allegations of gene doping from one of the judges, a stewards enquiry ensued. I’m happy to say no evidence of horse play was found and Al and Linz were awarded the winners rosettes and the rest were sent off to the glue factory!

A huge thank you to our esteemed judges (Vicky and Lynda) for all their efforts to put on superb event.  A fantastic day out was had by all, new running routes found and friendships formed.

Winter Motivation

The clocks have gone back, the wind and rain seem never ending at times and therefore ‘training’ can all too easily be ‘put off’ for the cosy alternative such as that TV programme in front of the fire! Engaging in any training session takes determination but in the dark, winter months the level required seems so much more and there’s more kit needed too -head torch or bike lights to charge, trainers which have dried from the last wet run and more layers! 

If you have a long-term goal, for certain individuals that drive can overcome all the challenges of winter training. But, for many, even with a long-term goal, it’s hard to motivate yourself to get that training done and the thought of a ‘red’ on Training Peaks seems more accepting.  With the spring and summer being so far away, thoughts of “after all, it’s winter, it won’t hurt to miss that interval session or tempo ride” slip into the mind.

So, how can you motivate yourself in the winter? Well, there are several virtual challenges that are available, which you can pay for, take part in, and gain that medal – we can be inspired by the thousands who took part in the 2020 virtual London marathon.    Alternatively, you could be completing the indoor turbo Zwift 2020 academy or running the length of the UK…at least in sections! These virtual short term (or not so short term if running JOGLE) goals can really help with a focus and motivation. For some individuals, completing these challenges alone can be a great sense of achievement, whilst for others, recruiting a fellow partner to take part (either virtually or socially distanced), can further help with completing the virtual task. 

At Tri and Run, we recognise the challenge of winter training for our athletes and the additional difficulties the current and different (COVID) times.  Supporting our athletes includes a variety of strategies.  Where possible Tri and Run arrange for joint activities, giving our athletes some much needed company -it may be a group run (subject to any guidelines) or it could be a paired challenge.  It may also be that as coaches, we get out with our athletes, so they are not performing all the training on their own.  This gives us a great opportunity to develop that all important coach and athlete relationship. 

Get in touch and find out how you can be part of our next group adventure.

Support and being part of a team

If there was a quiz question asking if triathlon or running was an individual sport, then the expected answer may well be a definite ‘yes’!  Triathlon and running are undertaken by individuals, over various distances. There are the options for relays (for triathlon, these may be different individuals undertaking the different components or individual relay team members undertaking all three disciplines on a rotation) but ultimately both are a test of an individual against the clock or fellow competitor.

Whilst a triathlon or running event is dependent on the performance of an individual, the preparation for an individual to get to that point will have taken support. The support during preparation and training may well be a family member accepting ‘time away’ but this still leaves the athlete to undertake the training ‘alone’.  Training alone can be a fantastic escape from the stresses of work and prepare athletes mentally.  However, training with support can convert a training session from a ‘got-to-do’ task to a completely different ‘rich and enjoyable’ task. 

At Tri and Run we consider the support of our athletes a top priority.  The support may be in the form of regular ‘catch ups’ (using various ways including virtual sessions) whereby elements of the training are shared as well as the ‘add-on’ elements of tips and shared experiences, such as group virtual S&C sessions. Where possible we (Tri & Run coaches) include face-to-face sessions for supporting both training and events of our athletes. These training sessions can be on a 1-2-1 basis to target specific areas for example  supporting our athletes to develop confidence in a skill, such as a cycling technique, or working with athletes on developing their running technique.

At Tri and Run, we now have regular group training sessions – this followed our first highly successful group event (A grand day out, blog).  Such group training sessions allow our athletes to experience new skills (such as off-road running) and an opportunity to share experiences between coaches and athletes. Training with others can provide that much needed company to push yourself out of your ‘comfort zone’ and give individuals confidence, which is lacking in a solo environment. This new-found confidence can then aid the athlete in progressing their training, converting a ‘got-to-do’ solo training session into a recognised beneficial training session and developing the mental as well as physical aspect of the session.  Other skills (such as map reading) and alternative areas are also included in our group sessions.  This provides athletes with skills and confidence in other areas, widening the options for future training sessions.

At Tri and Run, we think of all our athletes as members of our team – we’re in this together and supporting individuals in achieving great things.