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;