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Gift ideas for future triathletes

2 Dec Children's trisuits

At this time of year, there are plenty of gift guides aimed at adult triathletes, but what about the younger members of your multisport family? I’ve put together some ideas for what you could buy your future triathletes…


  • Funky swimming hats
  • Children’s goggles
    Funky Zoggs Finding Dory goggles
  • Nose clips
    Nose clips
  • Ear plugs
    Children's ear plugs
  • Swimming costumes
    Children's swimwear
  • Towels
    Children's towels
  • Swim bags
    Children's swimming bags
  • Training aids
    Swim fin
  • Children’s wetsuits
    Saltskin animal print wetsuits



  • Frog balance bike
    Frog tadpole mini balance bike
  • Isla bike
    Isla Bike
  • Children’s bike helmet
    Children's bike helmet



  • Children’s clothes
    Children's running clothes
  • Children’s trainers
    Newton shoes
  • elastic laces
    Elastic shoelaces
  • sunglasses

Children's sports sunglasses

Children’s trisuits

Children's trisuits

There are so many options out there that hopefully you’re feeling inspired to search out the perfect gift for your little athlete.

Kids Racing – triathlon stockists

The best children’s triathlon clothing reviewed

What to do if your child is a talented triathlete

Monday Morning Motivation: The Storm

2 Apr Swissman walls of snow

Swissman Xtreme Triathlon

SWISSMAN Xtreme Triathlon is a unique point-to-point iron-distance triathlon with a total ascent of 5400 m. The journey begins at 196 m above sea level, with a 3.8km swim in Lake Maggiore.

Transition is in the town of Ascona. The athletes cycle 180km through the Alps with three major mountain passes (the Gotthard Pass, the Furka Pass and the Grimsel Pass). This tough leg reaches an altitude of 2436m above sea level.

From the second transition in Brienz (567m), the triathletes have to run an uphill marathon to the village of Kleine Scheidegg (2061m altitude).

This is not a race for the faint-hearted. The 2016 video shows just how tough it is against a backdrop of stunning scenery and stirring music.

This year’s race will take place on 23rd June 2018. Entry is via a ballot system.

Swissman walls of snow

Tips for your first Ironman

1 Mar

A little while ago, I posted a question on social media asking for some tips. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of responses. I thought it might be helpful to categorise them and share them with you…

What is the one thing you wish you had known when training for your first Ironman?



  • Get a good coach.
  • Fink is a plan NOT gospel. Move it around, play with it and get it to suit you from one day to the next.
  • I wish I’d had a coach for the first one. Fewer hours training, better sets, and less weight lost. An hour better and healthier afterwards. Fink nearly killed me!
  • Fink was just too many hours and junk miles. If you don’t want to lay out for a coach, join a club. Loads of experience and the head coach will probably write you a plan free of charge.

Brick sessions

Brick wall

Photo by Kristina Kashtanova on Unsplash

  • You can never do too much brick training.
  • Long rides followed by long runs.
  • Long rides followed by runs off the bike.
  • Bike to run sessions.
  • More bike to run.
  • I was told a training split of 50% bike, 35% run and 15% swim.
  • Jumping rope. Skipping. Whatever you call it, strengthens the feet and makes those Achilles ultra stretchy.
  • Train alone. You wouldn’t do 112 miles in a group in an Ironman, so why go on club rides when training? Running the same – do all long runs alone at your pace, not somebody else’s.


  • Mental strength!
  • Consistency.
  • Patience. Both in training and on the day.
  • Be humble.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude.
  • You are not alone. Ask for help and you will get it. Everyone is scared during the journey and on the start line.
  • Work on your weakness and work across all your training zones.
  • Plan around kids’ school holiday and don’t book a race at the end of the summer holidays.
  • Don’t faff in transition. Get in, get out.
  • Consider how much it will cost financially (and physically 😬).
  • Treat it as three separate races and prepare for each.
  • You will feel like a million bucks and then like a piece of crap many times in the race (this is normal).
  • You never get to do your first one again so enjoy the whole experience and trust in your training. Don’t put a finish time on it save that for the next one.
  • Enjoy the journey. It’s tough, but so rewarding.


A swimmer

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

  • Don’t underestimate the swim!
  • Practice open water swimming as much as possible.
  • For a crap swimmer, a top quality wetsuit makes it easier than a cheap wetsuit. I didn’t believe it until I swapped!
  • Learn to draft in the swim (i.e. on someone’s feet) as it saves heaps of time and energy.
  • Attach a second pair of goggles to your thigh. Practice losing goggles in water to then attempt swimming in both salty and lake water without goggles.
  • If your swim is lousy and it drains you, your race could be messed up. The swim is the base of the race… if you get out of the water drained, it will be a difficult day and could cost you later in the race. It doesn’t have to be super fast, but you need to feel good when you get out of the water to get through the long bike leg, which needs to be executed to enable you to run 26.2.
  • I came out of my swim and a masochistic thought of “I actually quite enjoyed that” went through my mind. That’s how it should feel. I was slower than my predicted time but I knew what was ahead and just went steady away.



Photo by Josh Nuttall on Unsplash

There was a common theme in the comments:

  • Bike, bike and more bike.
  • Ride more, ride more, then ride some more.
  • Bike, bike and more bike.
  • Do more long rides.
  • More bike.
  • Spend more time on the bike.
  • You can’t run if you can’t bike 🚴. So bike… lots.
  • More bike, more bike, more bike.
  • Oh, and bike. The run (run/walk) is just survival: you’ve done the ‘hard’ part by then.
  • I had a strong background in running, so I took the approach of minimal bike training assuming my run strength would see me through – I did not anticipate how much the bike would take out of me leaving me tired and sore before I even started the run.
  • My train of thought exactly with my first half last summer. I never made the massive time lost on the bike up with good run. So for my second half next summer – bike training it is.
  • I fell for this train of thought also. This time it’s bike, bike, bike. I’ll tick over my running as per my plan, rather than adding more runs.
  • No junk miles and ride a lot. 2-3 minutes improvement in the swim is no good if you’re 30mins off the pace on the bike.
  • Bike… bike… bike… bike… and then when you can’t take no more… bike some more!


  • If you’re doing Bolton, hills, hills and train in the wind… And more hills.
  • I wish I’d done more hills on bike.
  • Hills on the bike.
  • Someone said push the bike training on hills until you literally can’t pedal any more. It really worked for me. It doesn’t have to be massive distance for this type of training.


  • In carbon we trust.
  • Buy a carbon 🚲 and don’t under-estimate a technical bike course.
  • A professional bike fit. This is the longest discipline and where the most time can be saved, plus you get the on the run feeling less tired.
  • For cycling, putting plenty of road miles using a mountain bike gave a really good resistance workout.
  • Spend time in the saddle on your turbo trainer.
  • Make sure you service your bike close to race day.
  • Not too close though, bike shop f**ked mine up on race week. 😉
  • Learn to pace on the bike and get a power meter and learn how to use it.
  • Once I started doing 3-8 centuries in training, my run really improved.
  • Bike on the road, in the heat, in the wind, in the rain. Don’t wimp out and get on the trainer because it’s not “perfect” weather.
  • Make sure you can beat the bike cut off time. A couple of friends got DNFs on their first attempts due to this. If you can ride the course a few months before do. It’s a good confidence boost and will tell you how much work you need to do to get round in time.
  • Don’t train too fast. Plenty people leave their best efforts out on the Sunday club ride, when most of your training should be easier paced than you might think as training constantly too hard only leads to injury. Make the hard, very hard and the steady, very steady. Too much middle ground hampers progression.
  • There’s no such thing as a good bike and a poor run. The difference between a great swim and a poor one is 15 minutes, but get the pacing wrong on the bike and you risk a poor run that can cost you hours.



Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash

  • More runs.
  • It’s all about the run. There’s no point in going 30 minutes quicker on the bike than you genuinely anticipated if it adversely affects your run.
  • For running, completing a marathon plenty of time before adds great confidence, so you can concentrate on the cycling!
  • Don’t go too hard during the early stages of the marathon.


Healthy food

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

  • Nutrition is the 4th part of the triathlon
  • Cut out sugar and use fat for fuel 😎
  • Special super awesome powders from Switzerland may not arrive in time for race day. Plan an alternative fuel strategy.
  • Don’t blame your bike when climbing hills is tough. Lose the body weight instead!
  • You can’t out-train a sh*t diet.
  • 80/20
  • Nutrition is a discipline that’s needs to be prepared and planned meticulously.
  • I bonked HARD in IMUK last year – 70 miles in and lost all energy. Only realised then I hadn’t eaten anything in the last 90 minutes. Flapjack was my saviour; my partner prefers malt loaf; for some people it’s gels all the way. Work out what works for you!
  • Nutrition is key on the bike and run.
  • Get nutrition nailed.
  • Get the nutrition right on the bike so you eat enough not to bonk, but not too much that you are too poorly to do justice to the run! 🏃‍♀🏃💩🚽😂

What do you wish you had known?

Planning for 2018

6 Feb Planner with the words 'Make it happen'

Planner with the words 'Make it happen'

I usually spend some time on New Year’s Eve planning my races for the following season, but of course I start thinking about what I want to achieve before then. This year was no different, but I’ve been so busy that it’s taken until now for me to write down my plans…


  • Swimathon – swim 2.5km in under an hour.
  • Get in the pool at least once a week for the whole year and to make it to some open water swimming sessions.
  • Take Baby M swimming once a week


  • I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get a place in RideLondon again this year
  • Get involved in cyclocross this year


  • Reading Half
  • London Landmarks Half
  • Southampton Half
  • Do my 250th parkrun


  • Long Course Weekend – do the full event


  • Qualify as a Personal Trainer


I’m trying to be realistic about what I can achieve as I’m really busy at work and M is a high-maintenance tiny human. I’m sure there will be some other B & C goals that will come along throughout the season, so watch this space!


Prize draw…

27 Jan Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

You might remember that I posted a review of Haseeb Ahmad’s autobiography a short while ago.

Haseeb is running a fantastic prize draw on his blog, so if you want to be in with the change of winning an amazing goody bag, make sure you visit:

Monday Morning Motivation: Ironman 2017

4 Dec Kona podium 2017

Watching the coverage of the Ironman World Championships is inspirational… but most people don’t have 17 hours to spare, so this highlights video that focuses on ‘ordinary people’ may provide motivation for you within 10 minutes.

The island may not care who they are or why they came. Its currents can wash away resolve. Its winds are known to blow away hope. Heat and humidity – they can be a cruel and unforgiving combination. Yet the island provides strength. It is a mystical place where incredible things happen. Where a movement began and the spirit of Ironman was born. It is in this ocean, among these lava fields and along Ali’i Drive that what began as unimaginable has become so much more.

Swim 2.4 miles; bike 112 miles; run 26.2 miles; brag for the rest of your life.

It began with some words. An idea on the back of a napkin. For thousands, it is now a calling.

“The waves may crash upon us, but we will push through.”

“The winds may howl on race day, but so too will we.”

“The sun will beat down upon us, but we will rise up.”

With the spirit of Aloha, they are unified in their belief that anything is possible.

Music: “Be brave. Go face-to-face. What will become of you? Is everything you need beneath the armour and the rivalry inside, I’ll stare it straight in the eye. I’ll rise up above the fight; up above the fight, cause I believe in making dreams come alive. I’ll put up a fight.”

“Go Ironman! Wooo!”

“Awesome! Fantastic swim!”

“Just a little bit left to go!”

180 km/112 miles: this World Championship bike course can be cruel, especially on the long climb to Hawi, where the heat and potent combination of unforgiving winds test your commitment.

“I’m on my honeymoon, so it’s a great place to be!”

“I ride for a charity called Imerman Angels – we match cancer survivors with somebody who was just diagnosed with cancer.”

“I’m riding to find the limits – I think I’m gonna find them!”

“We’re so fortunate and lucky to be here. You just have to be into it and smile the whole day.”

Music by Pinkzebra: “See the light of a new day dawning. Feel the love from a beating heart. You catch a ride to the top of the world. This is where we start. No, we can’t make it last forever. We got to use all the time we have. And you know that we’ll never say never, if we ever get the chance and it’s good to be alive. It’s good to be alive. This feeling’s running high. Life is calling and the world is beautiful. There’s a winding road we’re choosing. Looking for a brand new day. And up ahead there’s an open door. Now we’ll find our way… and it’s good to be alive. It’s good to be alive. This feeling’s running high, life is calling and the world is beautiful.”

Music: “City of Heroes”

There is just one discipline standing in the way: 26.2 miles/42.2 km. Not all will make it, but all will give it everything they have and that is a victory in itself. As always, this is when it becomes mind over matter.

For those who care to dream, anything is possible. For those still on the course, their finishing time is secondary. It is midnight, 17 hours after their race began, that is now their focus.

“You are an Ironman!”

What sporting event inspires you?

Monday Morning Motication – Rick and Dick Hoyt

27 Nov

In 1962, Judy Hoyt gave birth to a son with spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy. Judy and her husband Dick were advised to put Rick in an institution, but they decided to fight for his inclusion into a normal life. At 10 years old, they managed to get Rick his first interactive computer, which allowed him to communicate with others.

In 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralysed in an accident. Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

Since then “Team Hoyt” have competed in over 1000 races, including 6 Ironman triathlons as well as marathons, duathlons and other triathlons. They also completed a 3735 mile/45 day cycle/run trip across America in 1992.

You can read more about Team Hoyt on their website:

Monday Morning Motivation: Iron to the Core

20 Nov Sebastian Kienle

Decorated long-distance triathlete Sebastian Kienle gives an inside look at what it takes to be an Ironman. From preparation to race day, it’s a life spent enduring gruelling trials, but every small success makes the arduous journey worth it.

Iron to the Core video

IRONMAN World Champion! The man in the focus right now!

SEBASTIAN: My name is Sebastian Kienle. I am the IRONMAN World Champion 2014. I want to have this title back!

NARRATOR: The Ironman World Championship Hawaii. It is the greatest endurance race on planet earth! A 2.4 mile swim in Kona harbor. The bike track, crossing the lava fields. It’s a 26 mile run. No man ever did it in less than eight hours.

SEBASTIAN: You seem to run against this wall of humidity and heat. It’s raining pretty much every day in Kona. Sometimes I guess the drops don’t even reach the ground. They just turn to steam before that. You have this idea of yourself running and kind of flying, you know, and there you are not flying. You’re not flying. In the race you are sometimes crawling. You think you are super fit. You did all those crazy sessions before you go there and then you arrive there and your heart rate is, like, ten beats up at the same pace. Ten, 15 seconds slower per K.

The bike is definitely my strongest discipline and I just love the speed on the bike. It’s amazing how fast humans can go just by their own power. It just seems like the right amount of speed you need to cover a big distance, a big area, but it’s still slow enough to be able to look around and inhale the atmosphere of the place. I guess that’s why a lot of people ride their bikes, right? Even if they are not able to win IRONMAN Hawaii.

I’m a strong biker, I have definitely some talent with biking, but I take progress in biking for a given, you know. It gives you so much when you make this little progress. It’s just very rewarding when you have to work very hard for a very small progress and you finally make this progress.

Swimming is definitely not my strongest discipline and I have to invest a lot of time. Lubos is always with me the whole time. We spend pretty much six weeks there, prior to the race. It definitely takes a lot of trust in each other. Lubos is not only my coach, but he has to be the psychologist and friend and everything in one person.

SEBASTIAN: It’s a pretty intense time there. It has some really, really tough days where you doubt everything. Lubos is pretty good in shifting these roles as a friend and as a coach. He has no mercy when it comes to hard training sessions.

SEBASTIAN: He also knows me well enough to see when it’s too much and that’s very important because at a certain point you lose the feeling of how hard you have to go and how hard is too hard. So, you need somebody that is able to realize what the limit is and we are working at the limit there. I have 100% trust in him and that’s very important. In the early morning, before the race, we have our routines. My coach Lubos, Christine and me, we are a great small team. Of course a lot of focus is always on the guy that wears the number one.

ANNOUNCER: Race day at the 2015 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii! This is the dawn we’ve been waiting for.

SEBASTIAN: You work so long and so hard and now you have to show the world what you have got.

ANNOUNCER: The battle between reigning champ, Sebastian Kienle, and fellow countryman, Jan Frodeno!

SEBASTIAN: The iron war, that was what everybody was hoping for.

ANNOUNCER: And off they go!

SEBASTIAN: My swim was absolutely great, coming out just a little bit under two minutes behind the leaders. That was what we were dreaming of.

ANNOUNCER: Sebastian Kienle, on his bike now!

SEBASTIAN: I was so excited after this great swim. It just set this positive mindset at the beginning of the race, which is absolutely important. That could make or break your race! I was really aggressive at the start of the bike. I wanted to close the gap as fast as possible!

ANNOUNCER: Kienle is flying through the field!
SEBASTIAN: You could definitely break the other guys on the bike, dominate the race, dictate the others your race.

ANNOUNCER: Kienle passes Frodeno, he leads the field!

SEBASTIAN: If it’s hurting me, it’s killing them.

ANNOUNCER: Such an intense race!

SEBASTIAN: Usually that’s the way it is on the bike! Not this time. I probably killed myself this time.

Sebastian Kienle

Yeah. And I was trying and I was attacking and I was prepared for the fight against him. The iron war. That’s what I was trying. It was this small doubt at the end… especially at the end of the bike. It started to get bigger and bigger. There already I realized that I probably don’t have the day I need to beat a guy like Jan. When your body is weak, you can’t fight against these negative thoughts any more and then it’s game over. Every step is just pure pain and it’s so difficult not to quit. When you have the goal of winning the race and you start to realize that this is probably not going to happen, then it’s very difficult to find reasons why you should keep going. But yeah, I am absolutely happy that I finished the race, because I know the relief only stays there for a couple of minutes and then it’s the worst thing in life for the next month.

ANNOUNCER: Kienle crosses the finish line, 8th place for the German. One hell of a day for last year’s champion!

SEBASTIAN: For me often it’s better to have this sensation of losing. It motivates me way more than the sensation of winning.

So, I try to keep that as a positive thing from the race and that I was still able to finish the race. Even when I didn’t win a race, and I’m a professional, so I have to win races, I have the feeling of… I’ve done it, you know? I succeeded, I crossed the line, I finished the race. And that already gives you the sensation of a great achievement and that’s what separates this sport from a lot of other sports.

Sebastian Kienle

Fuerteventura, Las Playitas. This is probably my third home. I guess it’s definitely one of the best places for me for training. Where I put in all the base miles you need to get into race shape later in the year.

Even if triathlon might be a very self-centered sport and you have to race for yourself, training in a group is always way better. You have to use the sort of competition you have in a race, also push yourself in hard training sessions. I like to surround myself not only with good athletes, but also good people, of course. It’s great to call most of them friends. Those are the guys that push me to the limit.

ANNOUNCER: The IRONMAN European Championships! The biggest race in Europe.

SEBASTIAN: The whole race was just a rush. Messed up the swim and came back on the bike. I wanted the victory so badly.

ANNOUNCER: Sebastian Kienle makes it! He wins the race! A true IRONMAN!

SEBASTIAN: The pain is over, there’s like an explosion in your head. It’s pretty emotional. (CHUCKLES) Yeah.
Lubos and I, we are on track. The goal is Ironman Hawaii. It’s this spark that starts the fire, you know, this positive thought that gets bigger and bigger and it’s getting better and better. You start to do things you are… you don’t think you are capable of. That’s where the greatness happens. I hope for greatness this year.

In 2016, Kienle came 2nd behind Jan Frodeno and in 2017, Kienle came 4th. Maybe 2018 will be his year again.

Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

Monday Morning Motivation: Island House Triathlon

13 Nov Island House Triathlon

The 2017 Island House Invitational Triathlon will take place at Highbourne Cay in the Bahamas on 17th – 18th November. It will be staged as three events over the course of two days, awarding $500,000 in prize money.

There are four British women taking part: Leanda Cave, Rachel Joyce, Holly Lawrence and Emma Pallant. Sadly, the only British male entrant, Tim Don, has had to withdraw following an accident a short while ago.

The format of this event is really interesting with a super sprint time trial and an enduro race (run, swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run) on the first day and a sprint pursuit on the second day.

I think it’ll be really inspiring to watch… does anyone know if it will be possible to see it live in the UK?

Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

From Blind Man to Ironman – review and giveaway

22 Oct Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

It’s been months since I’ve been able to read a real book, but Baby M is finally sleeping spending night time in her own room, which means that when I get into bed, I can have a light on and can read. There are lots of things from the last year that I want to catch up with, but I thought I’d start with a book that appeals to me on several levels. From Blind Man to Ironman is a book that fits my aim as it’s an autobiographical account of how a visually impaired man became a record-breaking triathlete.

“My story is about triumph over adversity,” explains Haseeb Ahmad. “From becoming blind in my teens I would never have dreamt that almost 35 years later I would break the World Blind Ironman Record.”

From the start, you know that Haseeb has broken a world record, so the drive of the narrative is about how he got there. I really enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies as you get to know about people whose lives are different from your own… and Haseeb’s life couldn’t be more different than mine. Initially, he discusses his life as a young Pakistani Muslim living life in London, the Midlands and Pakistan. I expected to hear about his talent for sports as a youth, so it was interesting that there was little mention of it, which gives hope to anyone else who hasn’t been a gifted athlete in their youth (or at least has not discovered their talent at a young age).

Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

Haseeb Ahmad running with a guide

Ahmad’s style of writing is fluid, which gripped me and made me read far later into the night than I should have on several occasions. Not only is the book well-written and beautiful printed, but I’ve not found any errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar, which is the kind of thing that keeps the former English teacher in me happy!

Obviously, I have an interest in triathlon, but I am also an advocate for inclusivity in sport. I was interested in the details of how Haseeb worked with his guides. I have been a guide runner with a great chap, Khalid, and have great admiration for anyone who manages to guide successfully – I blogged about my experience and still feel bad that I caused Khalid to stumble into a ditch. I had offered to ride a tandem with him, but he survived that as I found out I was pregnant and thought I’d better not!

Another element of interest for me were references to Chris Goodwin, a Southampton-based paratriathlete who trained with Southampton Tri Club for a number of years. It was interesting to hear about the (friendly) rivalry between him and Haseeb.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was inspirational.

“I want to give hope and inspire anyone who may be struggling with life’s challenges to never give up. Every time I have fallen in life, sometimes literally, I have got back up and kept running – and that is my message to everyone out there… keep on running!”

If you want to learn more, please check out Haseeb’s blog.

I’m offering two lucky readers the chance to win a copy of From Blind Man to Ironman. If you want to be in with a chance of winning, just click on the link below:


The giveaway runs from 12:00am on Monday 23rd October 2017 to 12:00am on Monday 6th November. Full terms and conditions are available at the link below:

Fat Girl to Ironman ‘From Blind Man to Ironman’ Competition’ TERMS and CONDITIONS

No purchase necessary. The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter and announced on this blog by Friday 10th November.

Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.