Dipping into multi sports? Aquathlons could be a good way to get into Triathlon’s

When I first started swimming and running back in 2012, I didn’t know about Aquathlon’s but I did of course know what Triathlon’s where. I wasn’t very good on the bike and kept getting injured because it wasn’t set up right. So If you’re like me and you like running and swimming you are probably thinking of doing an Aquathlon and perhaps use it as a stepping stone towards doing a triathlon, so here is my advice and tips.

What is an Aquathlon? An Aquathlon is a swim followed by run and the distances do vary depending if they are pool swims or outdoors. A standard outdoor Aquathlon is 750m lake sea swim followed by a 5k run, however you can get shorter swim from as little as 100m.

My first tip is decide what distance you want to do and whether it is an indoor/outdoor swim and then train for it. If its outdoor I would advise to train at least a couple times in open water before you do a race.

Next tip, what kit do you need? This depends again if the swim is outdoors or not. You will need the following kit:

• Swim Goggles

• Tri suit/swim wear

• Wetsuit

• Running trainers

• Race belt

Swim googles needed as you will be swimming front crawl in races. Tri suit/swim wear, it would be good to invest in a Tri suit that you can use in races and its much quicker as you won’t lose time in transition getting changed. However you can use swim wear like jammers, swim shorts etc. the only problem with these are that you will need to put a running top on once in transition. Which can be tricky with you being wet. If you want to race regularly and in open water a wetsuit is a must. I would recommend you start out with an entry level wetsuit. You will be quicker with a wetsuit on, but if you’re not a confident swimmer than a wetsuit is a must as it also provides you a bit of safety outdoors. Next you will need trainers, of course you need them to run with. Lastly a race belt, which is easy to use and saves you time in transition. These bits of kit will get you started for your first race. If you are doing a pool swim you will not need a wetsuit. I have a race check list because the more you get into it, the more items you take with you. A check list is important so that you don’t attend a race forgetting something, so I would recommend having a go to list and checking you have everything.

Pool races are different to open water swims, because most of the time the pool races you go one after the other and won’t get caught up in a mass start. If you are racing outdoors, keep calm and stay away from the main group if you’re scared of being hit. Remember it’s about you and nobody else, you are racing yourself and no one is judging you and if they are who cares. I would recommend to get an outdoor swim at least once before the race so you can finalise yourself with open water.

Next tip have a race check list because the more you get into it, the more items you take with you. A check list is important so that you don’t attend a race forgetting something, so I would recommend having a go to list and checking you have everything. Take spares of everything if you can. I take two of most things to races just in case something goes wrong. For example my goggles snapped at the start line.

Transition training, I think it’s important to go through in your head how you are going to come out of the water and what you will do once in transition to save time. It is important that before the race you lay your Items in transition in a way you can get to them easy and remember where about you are in transition too. If your racing open water you will need to learn to take your wetsuit off.

In a race staying calm is important, if you enter a race with a mass swim start then don’t go in the middle, it can be very hard. Stick to the sides and take you own time and pace yourself. Do not copy others and do not change anything up. Race your own race and take your time. When you come out the water you might feel a bit dizzy before the run, this is normal and your body goes back to normal quite quickly. Then you head off to transition, take your wetsuit off if you’re wearing one, swim hat and goggles. Put your trainers on and running belt on and then your off on the run. I normally put some baby powder in my shoes so my feet dry up quickly. Don’t try anything new on race day, just stick to how you trained leading up to the race. Stick to your own race plan and don’t copy others.

Put your goggles underneath your hat to prevent them being knocked off. The last thing you want in open water is to have your goggles knocked off, then having to find them.These are some of my tips to get you started in Aquathlons, enjoy.

In regards to what races to try here are some of my favourites:

Whitstable Surf N Turf

It’s a lovely race in a beautiful setting in Kent and consists of a 200m or 400m sea swim followed by a 5k run along the promenade.

London Aquathlon

A unique opportunity to swim 400m in the 2012 Olympic pool and 5k around the Olympic park. This race has a special feeling when competing in this.

Hever Castle Long distance Aquathlon

Swimming route around the moat, is truly a lovely swim and unique but to top that off you get to run a challenging but scenic run around the castle grounds.

European Champion!! a shock for me..

As many of you know this was my last GB race for the aquathlon team before I take some time out from this team. I competed in the 2019 Târgu Mures ETU Aquathlon European Championships on Friday 5th  of July for GB in Romania. The race consisted of a 1k swim in a lake and 5k run, with the run being four laps of 1.25km.

A few days prior to the race I developed a foot problem after one of my sessions and I was limping with pain afterwards. I was very worried about it being a big problem and that it would keep me out of the race. I tried not to think about it and rested up over the weekend prior to the race. I had a physio appointment booked in anyway the day before I went out. On the Monday I turned up to the physio expecting to be pulled out of the race, however he couldn’t find anything wrong and told me to go for my normal planned run that evening and then come back later for a scan to check no fractures to be 100% sure. So I went for a run and it was painful but didn’t get worse, I then went for a scan and it was all clear. This gave me huge confidence knowing whatever it is will not keep me out of the race. I always tend to get werid pains before big events.

Race day arrived and for some reason I was a nervous wreck before the start of the race in the morning, no idea why, maybe because of my foot pain. I got to the start line in very warm conditions and the horn went off and I started.

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I thought I struggled in the swim because the lake was warm and my arms and legs felt dead after 100 metres. I came into transition in 4th place in my age group which is very high for me and I went down the wrong row in transition and panicked as I couldn’t see my trainers, they were two rows away, I have never made this mistake before and I was thinking this was not going to be a good day but tried to keep positive. I then got on the run and ran well but was struggling towards the end, I took the lead on the 3rd lap and had the fastest run in my race and one of the fastest on the day. When the commentator announced me as the champion in my age group when I crossed the line, I was shocked and didn’t really believe it but my wife kept saying they said you won and we were so happy, I couldn’t of done it without her support over the years.

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I then had to wait pretty much the whole day until the medal ceremony which was in the evening. I lined up for the podium and when my name was called out as the Champion in my age group I was blown away but over the moon, it was a great feeling and a special moment for sure.

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A nice end for me for the team as I am moving to other challenges. When I started this journey I didn’t expect to achieve so much. I couldn’t swim in 2012 and only started running then, I hope this inspires others that if they train hard they can achieve their goals. Very shocked but over the moon about it, still can’t quite believe it. But I have to thank all my family, friends, coaches and sponsors that have supported me throughout the years as they certainly played a part in this and it was a team effort for sure.

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Thank you for all your support over the years.

World Championships and Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon Update

So arrived at the World Championships in good shape, despite getting a cold and a grumpy tendon, which luckily did not affect my training leading up to this although it was painful. Although I was very worried about my leg as it was getting worse, but once I was tapering and doing easy training it started to ease off. These thing tend to happen a lot to me leading up to a big race.

So I was very confident on a good race on race day, we were staying in Vigo so we were around 20 minutes away from Pontevedra where the race was. So on race day I woke up and felt much better as I was also not feeling as tired. I was very tired that week from illness and walking around London watching my wife run the London Marathon. I have to say watching the London marathon is truly special and highly recommend going up to watch it.

I knew I was in great shape and if I could get through the race with my tendon problem I was confident it would be a good performance for my last World Aquathlon Championships. Race day arrived and I headed to the race, nervous but excited as normal. The event looked like it was going to be another one to remember, people so friendly, athletes chatting to you from across the world, made it have a real buzz about it.

So I got to the start line in the 19-39 year old wave, the temperature of the river was around 13 to 14 degrees so not warm but it seemed a lot colder than that. The first half of the race was up stream and against the current so this was going to be tough. I got into the river and was freezing, I headed to the start line and waited for the horn. The horn went off and my plan was sprint for around 100m metres, the swim was tough with loads of people around me. The first 500m was tough and it felt like it was taking a while. Once I hit the turnaround point it was much quicker being pushed with the current, however I could feel the water was cold and my hands and feet were not warm. I came out into transition which was a long one, about 250m long as I walked the length the day before.

My swim was not my fastest in fact it was my slowest by a few minutes, but this was to be expected in the conditions. I came to my box and took my wetsuit off, I was freezing although it was very warm outside of the river. I then left transition for the run and I was feeling faint and wobbly because of the cold water. After a minute I was warmed up and I attacked the run, hunting athletes down and passing them, I felt good on the run. I came home in 7th in my Age Group and first Brit back. I was over the moon and it was my best performance by far. I couldn’t do much more, my swim could have been better but I can’t complain due to the lack of open water swimming in the UK. My run was the 4th fastest in my race.

I have achieved more than I could ever of dreamed of since qualifying in 2016, 1x European Bronze, 3x top ten World Champs finishes and a National Championship title, Team Captain etc in Aquathlons and to represent GB in my AG at 4 world Championships. As many of you may know as I have achieved everything I wanted to in Aquathlons and this was my final World Aquathlon Championships, I am not shutting the door on Aquathlons but I may come back in future years but next year I won’t be competing for the GB aquathlon team, even though I have an automatic place from this year from today’s result. As I will be concentrating on other sporting and life goals I still have the Europeans and the Nationals to go and now targeting these and who knows I might be back in a different sport but this year was all about me focusing on newer goals.

So I got back from the World Championships and went back to work for a few days before I headed off the Greece to a tiny island called Spetses to do the Spetsathlon Sprint Triathlon. I was kindly invited by the organisers to compete and I thought why not as I am moving more to triathlons this year.

My wife and I left home at 2am in the morning and finally arrived in Spetse at 5.30pm. It was a long day with flying to Athens and getting a boat across to the island. When we arrived the island looked small with no cars around and horse and carts being used a taxi’s. The whole island seemed to have a buzz because of the event.

We arrived at the Klimis Hotel which was a lovely hotel and we had a sea view. The organisers had left a goody bag and some tops with my name on, which were awesome. At 9pm we were invited to have dinner with the organisers and the athletes. That was an amazing experience talking to Elites, Pros and Olympians. Some athletes had gone to the Olympics and come back with medals.

The following day they had swimming races and I was due to race in the 1k swim. However I was just shattered from travelling and decided not to race, but went down to watch. I should of done it now thinking back to it. Later that evening they had a cycle race and the 5k charity race. I went down to watch and my wife was running in the 5k so I watched her and cheered her on. I then picked up my hire bike which I was using for the race.

The whole island was buzzing from the event and the following morning was at the Triathlon event, 750m sea swim, 25k bike ride and 5k run. Everyone headed to the start, the organisers then started announcing the Olympians etc who was competing. I was then announced and I started getting nervous as I was nowhere near their level. The race started and I managed to get on the back of an Olympic medallist and was able to stay with her for all the swim. I hung on and came out with a huge PB, I raced out of the sea onto my hire bike. Unfortunately it wasn’t my own bike so was a struggle. I lost a lot of time on the bike and the course was brutal, it was so hilly my legs were screaming at me. Having lots of people overtaking me wasn’t doing my confidence any good. So I kept thinking to myself, keep the legs spinning eventually you will start to come downhill. I then got back into transition and headed for the run, surprising the legs felt good and I cracked on targeting people one by one. I was getting quicker and quicker the longer I was running and then I finished 13th overall and 3rd in my age group. I was very happy with that considering the level of athletes here. I also had the 2nd quickest run so I was happy with that.

The spestashon was a great event and I highly recommend this event to anyone. I would love to come back and thank you to the organisers for inviting me.

Importance of Wetsuit Storage

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So I have been testing the DRY bag out for the past few months and you can read my previous blog about wetsuit protection HERE. It’s a quiet period of time for me in terms of swimming outside as my season is over for the winter. However I now know this is the important part for my wetsuit life and its storage over my off season period.

Firstly I revisit one of the 3 key areas mentioned in my previous blog (Storage)

Storage: Store your wetsuit in a ventilated environment and avoid using ordinary hangers which put stress on the shoulders of your wetsuit and will lead to it stretching over time. The Dry Bag lets you hang your wetsuit in a wardrobe whilst avoiding getting l’odeur neoprene on all your clothes. The Dry Hanger takes 25kg in drop weight and the arm of the hanger has been specially designed so you can fold your wetsuit in half and easily store it in the recommended way. The design of the hanger means you can also fit up to 2 wetsuit on the hanger – be efficient and store all your wetsuits in one place.

Since my last blog on this matter when I washed my wetsuit and put it in The Dry Bag for drying, I have used the bag not only for my wetsuit but to carry my wet cross-country clothes after my race which has proved very useful. Not only does it allow my soggy clothes to dry on the way home it prevents mess all over the car and bag allows me to transport dirty clothes home without ruining my running bags. Give it a try….

However let’s get back to the sole purpose of this blog – wetsuit storage.  What I have found so useful (and unexpected) is that it is like a suit bag in that I can hang my wetsuit up in my wardrobe like my suits and it is now stored away for safe keeping and protecting.

This is great for protecting as before I would leave it in my car or in a bag squashed up, damp and smelly. So when the season comes along all I need to do is go straight to my wardrobe and my wetsuit is hanging and ready to go which will make it easier to grab when in a rush for the first race day of the season.

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Wetsuit Care

Taking care of your wetsuit is crucial if you want to keep your new expensive wetsuit feeling new for as long as possible. Meticulous maintenance will not only increase the life of your wetsuit, but will also keep it looking and feeling fresh for a whole lot longer!

The following care and maintenance tips are intended to provide general information on how, by taking a few minutes of extra TLC, you can increase the lifespan of your wetsuit.

  1. Slow down when taking your suit off.

When removing your wetsuit, first unzip all the zippers completely. Then remove one section at a time taking care to avoid puncturing any of the skin surface panels with a fingernail. Trying to quicken the process by grabbing at rubber won’t do the neoprene any favours. Take your time!

  1. Rinse in fresh water

Rinse your wetsuit inside and out with clean fresh water each time you use it, even if you’re planning a second session. Salt will destroy your suit faster than everything but direct sunlight. Take the time to do this and thank us later!

  1. Wetsuit shampoo

No matter how thoroughly you rinse your wetsuit, you’re going to miss some spots. Use wetsuit shampoo occasionally to help clean away salt which collects in crevices which will damage the neoprene overtime.

  1. Hang to dry

There are plenty of ways to damage a wetsuit when drying which include draping over balconies and garden fences. One of the best ways to maximize air circulation and complete drying is to hang your wetsuit inside-out, folded at the waist and in a Dry Bag.  The wide armed hanger keeps stress off the neoprene and will protect your wetsuit prolonging its performance. This tip should also be applied to Drysuits too.

  1. Silicone spray lube

If your wetsuit has a gouge, there are liquid fillers available for repair. These fillers are normally called liquid silicon or liquid rubber. Fill up the gouge with the liquid filler and let it dry completely before getting the wetsuit wet again.

Wetsuit Care

Taking proper care of your wetsuit has become more important because to put it simply, a good wetsuit is expensive. By following our care and maintenance tips your expensive new wetsuit should last a couple of seasons longer!

 

Check out DRY HERE

 

 

 

Wetsuit protection…..

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I am excited to announce my partnership with The Dry Bag Company who will be supporting me throughout the winter and into the 2018 season. Dry is a new company whose vision is to make your life easier by designing and manufacturing equipment to store, protect and dry your wetsuit. The product they have launched with is called The Dry Bag.

My wetsuits degrade quickly and do not last a full season, which is annoying as they are very expensive. After a race or training session I would normally leave my wetsuit in a bag soaked and covered with sand. Sometimes, and (only sometimes!) I would wash it and let it dry in the bathroom over the shower door, resulting in an unhappy wife and a puddle on the floor!

When I saw The Dry Bag in a triathlon magazine I got in touch with them – I thought the idea was great and a product I could do with to help protect my wetsuit and get more use out of it. Let’s face it you don’t want to be paying £300 plus a every year for a new wetsuit.

The Dry bag is based around 3 key areas:

Storage

2Drying

Protection

Storage: Store your wetsuit in a ventilated environment and avoid using ordinary hangers which puts stress on the shoulders of your wetsuit and will lead to it stretching over time. The Dry Bag lets you hang your wetsuit in a wardrobe whilst avoiding getting l’odeur neoprene on all your clothes. The Dry Hanger takes 25kg in drop weight and the arm of the hanger has been specially designed so you can fold your wetsuit in half and easily store it in the recommended way. The design of the hanger means you can also fit up to 2 wetsuit on the hanger – be efficient and store all your wetsuits in one place.

Drying: The Dry Bag will help you dry your wetsuit, with an estimated drying time of 4-6 hours (depending on the environment) your wetsuit will be ready for the next adventure. The water reservoir at the base collects dripping water so you won’t bring the mess indoors with you, and with a capacity of 5 litres it will easily take the residual water. Released by a plug at the base you can be assured of no mess indoors.

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Protection: Offering 3 x more protection than without, The Dry Bag will help you get more life from your wetsuit. Slinging it over garden fences to bake in the sun will damage the seams and degrade neoprene. Hanging your wetsuit in a Dry Bag will mean you can still hang it in the sun to dry quickly safe in the knowledge it will be protected from UV rays and will stay flexible for when you need it next. It will also be protected during travelling whether in a car, train or on foot – you’ll no longer have to worry about snagging your wetsuit and having those dreaded holes that let water in and lead to inefficiency when in the water.

 

My Dry bag arrived and I put it to the test. I realised I hadn’t done anything with my wetsuit since my last race a few months back and it was still sandy and damp from my last race. I’ve come to realise how important it is to protect your wetsuit to avoid shelling out more money not to mention putting on a damp smelly suit every session. The Dry Bag retails at £60 so if I can prolong the lifespan of my wetsuit and it saves me money in the long run then it’s money well spent.

I washed my wetsuit and put it in the bag, I came back the following day and it was bone dry. I then opened the water reservoir, released the plug and let the water run out. I then left my wetsuit in the bag and put it in the cupboard which is perfect as before I would crumble it into a bag (which again isn’t great for a wetsuit!). A great product for protection and storage, the hanger design stops your wetsuit from stretching at the shoulders. There are many uses for the bag and I reckon it will come in handy for cross-country racing this winter to contain and soggy clothes after the race so I don’t get mud all over my car!

My conclusion is that this product is worth every penny and is a must for athletes keen to protect and prolong the life of their wetsuit. It’s compact when not in use, and when in use, it can fit in your wardrobe easily as well as being easy to transport. Now is the time to invest in a Dry Bag to protect your wetsuit while not using it over the winter, and come spring you’ll be ready to dive in the open water.

And I can confirm, although born in the surfing world it’s definitely not just for surfers, it is for athletes doing aquathlons, triathlons, aquabike and outdoor swimmers alike.

Have a look yourself on their website DRY

 

 

 

World Championships 2017

 

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I headed off to the World Championships in Penticton (Canada) on the 22nd of August. This would be my 2nd World Championships and I was very excited, I was in great form as the previous weekend I won the London Aquathlon whilst taking it easy. A race that I always wanted to do because it was in the 2012 Olympic Pool. I started the race as well as racing in the race. This season has had its up and downs, but has been a great one.

 

So I got to Vancouver on the 22nd and the following morning I headed off to Penticton which is a four hour drive with my wife and two friends. When I arrived there I only had time to check in the hotel and head off to the registration tent, where I was meeting some more GB athletes for a run and swim reccie. This is something I set up for the team as I was selected as the Aquathlon Team Captain for GB for the World Championships. This is a huge honour and I was very privileged. This role included getting the team together for runs and swims, meeting up, meals and activities and helping with queries so that the Team Managers didn’t have much work to do as they were busy going to meetings etc. I really enjoyed it and it was fun, plus I got to meet other athletes.

When I was doing the swim reccie I soon realised that about 150 metres worth of the swim in the lake was not deep. I saw people practising Dolphin starts, so I practiced a few but I had never done them before. That night I struggled to sleep and jet lag got to me big time, I hardly slept and was so tired and felt ill. I was worried about it as the race was the next morning. I contacted Gobinder and he said control the controllable which I did and I stayed relaxed. I relaxed in the hotel until lunch time until I went and met my wife and friends before the Team Meeting.  I just watched TV and talked to some Australian and New Zealand athletes that were staying in our hotel.

 

Race day came and I was very calm, I had a target of top 15 but decided to go for top 10 as I was in great form. I had a good night sleep and felt better, although still tired I couldn’t wait to get started. Before the race I listened to music before I entered transition and put my kit down in my box. It was a wetsuit swim and was a little chilly in the morning as it was 6am and the race started at 7.20am.

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The swim started on the beach and as soon as the horn started everyone was running into the water. I tried to swim normally but because it was shallow, most athletes where doing Dolphin starts and I was getting hit everywhere. I tried to do a Dolphin start, as I couldn’t run as the water was a bit deep for that. I panicked and found myself near the back before I could start swimming properly. I was out of breath and struggling as I was not used to this. I soon got into my rhythm and started to go past athletes. I felt like I was getting quicker and stronger towards the end of the swim.

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I then got into transition and realised I was with athletes that I am normally ahead of. I started the run and went off hard but I  soon realised I was well down the pack. I had to stay focussed and I started pushing and after the first lap (2.5km) I overtook athletes and ones that I am normally in front of.

I then got a stitch which was painful and I couldn’t shift it but carried on pushing. I came across the finish line and grabbed the GB flag from my wife as I didn’t have anyone to chase or behind me and I walked across the line holding the GB flag. I finished in 36:48 and 6th in my Age Group in the world. An amazing achievement for me and beating my target. The run was slightly longer then 5k but enjoyed every second of it. I was 3rd Brit home in my Age Category. Fellow team mates Shaun Challis and Andy Cockerell were 3rd and 4th. Amazing efforts from them and the whole team, well done.

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I was over the moon and buzzing from this result and as a result I have re-qualified for the World Championships in Denmark next year. Every race is a learning curve and I have learnt a lot here. I need to improve my swim and learn Dolphin starts, which my new swimming Coaches will help me to do. I am very happy about the result because I am 6th in the World in my Age Group, hard work pays off.

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I would like to thank my amazing wife Melanie Christodoulou, who puts up with my training and supports me at every race, without her support even with hard times, injuries and setbacks it would not be possible and to all my family and friends.

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Thank you to all my sponsors, because without them it would be hard to get to races like this and my team for getting me into the best shape I can be.

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Your support this season has been great and thank you very much as I could not of done this with out you and your support. Which has included 7 podiums out of 9 races in Aquathlons. One of which was a win but I also had wins in swimming races, 5k’s and being selected by British Triathlon as the GB Age Group team captain for the world championships. I am still learning in this sport and next season will be even better. Looking forward to new challenges next season and taking up a new sport.

 

Givaudan Ashford 10k running with a different experience

img_5255As some of you may be aware I am currently nursing an Achilles injury.  I had signed up a few months ago to the Givaudan Ashford 10k on Sunday 9th October as it was my running club (Canterbury Harriers) Club Championships and I was sorting this out for the club. Due to my minor problem I was advised by my phsyio not to race Sunday and run round with my wife. At first I was a bit disappointed but I knew that was best for me as I have only been doing easy training. My wife liked the idea of me running with her and pace her to a PB.  We never run together so I thought it would be nice.

It was the 30 year anniversary of this race with record numbers; this is the biggest 10k in Kent and attracts around one thousand runners. I do recommend this race as it is all on closed roads and you get a nice finish inside the Julia Rose Stadium.

The day came for the race and I was very tempted to race because I had a chance to place highly in the club championships. Despite the wet conditions there was a record turnout of 48  Harriers – the biggest number of Harriers in any race since the club`s formation in 1993. That felt good as I really tried to get a lot of Harriers to do it. I decided to wear my GB tracksuit to the race and make use of it. I did feel a little uncomfortable when I first got there as quite a few people were staring and pointing at me. I also found it weird turning up to a race at the Julia Rose Stadium because that is where I train on a weekly basis after work.

So I warmed up on with a couple of Harriers and I knew that it would be a different experience running a race at a much slower pace. It was chucking it down, so I stood at the start line with my wife and when it was time to start I let my wife go in front and I tucked in just behind her as I didn’t want to put her off.  Due to where I was running I heard lots of people talking to themselves. For example one lady stressed she had gone out too fast to herself. I suddenly found myself in the way of other runners so I moved to the right to allow people to pass me. I let my wife run the first mile without any advice and after one mile I started to tell her what to do and what pace to stick to.  It was nice to see lots of runners I knew and this time I was able to cheer them on.

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The rain kept coming down and I was freezing; I thanked some of the marshals on the route. I was still tempted to run fast and it was just a weird feeling to be where I was but it was also fun. At certain parts of the course I was helping my wife by encouraging and telling her what to do; when we came up to inclines I would say to her attack the hill you can recover in the down hill section. When we came down to the last 400m I said to her its up to you what you want to do and she sprinted for 200m then eased off then sprinted again the last 100m, overtaking people at the end. I know she likes a sprint!  Well she left me behind in the sprint and she finished in 47:22, taking a huge chunk off her last PB in May 2016. I was very proud and happy for her, I really enjoyed running a race with a different point of view.

As featured on Triradar.com Yiannis Christodoulou Represents Team GB After Olympic Inspiration

Yiannis Christodoulou Represents Team GB After Olympic Inspiration

This year has been an amazing journey; my first year competing at a national and international level in Aquathlons. It all started back in June at the National Aquathlon Championships where I took home a bronze medal and two weeks later at the European Aquathlon Championships I came home with another bronze medal, this time during my debut competing for Great Britain. This led me to compete in the ITU World Aquathlon Championship in Mexico.

What inspired me to do this? Well it started four years ago, just after the 2012 London Olympic Games. I started swimming to keep fit and was a very slow swimmer with poor technique; I hadn’t run since my school days and just wanted to keep fit. Inspired by the Olympic Games, I joined my local running club, the Canterbury Harriers.

y3I slowly improved but started to get a lot of injuries.  The following summer, inspired by the Brownlee brothers, I entered a local Triathlon. Unfortunately this didn’t end well as I sustained a bad calf strain and had to jog back to the finish. I was out of action for 7 months on and off and nearly gave up running. By the time the following summer however, I had regained fitness and competed my 2nd triathlon. Sadly a few weeks later I had an Achilles injury and was out for another 3 months.

I remained positive and watched a lot of triathlon on the TV. Feeling inspired by this, I decided I wouldn’t quit and I kept trying to be the best I could be. The following year I decided to try Aquathlons and I finished 5th in my first race with 3 GB athletes in the top 5. That spurred me on and three months later I had taken minutes off my time which meant I had qualified to represent Great Britain. My greatest memory is the sprint home, 800m from the finish to pass two athletes and take home the bronze medal from the European race.

y2This spurred me on this season and I have achieved success I didn’t think was possible as I approach my mid-thirties. Looking back over the last four years, I am proud of what I have achieved with hard work and dedication. Of course, I wish I had taken up swimming and running much earlier, but it is never too late!

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V02 Testing – Is it worth it and can you benefit from it?

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In March 2015 I was approached by Phil Anthony from Christ Church University sports lab to be part of his research and test subject.  I jumped at the chance as Phil is an amazing runner and ran London in 02:16 a few years ago and was a national Ultra champion. I wasn’t sure if it would work and benefit me so I decided to try.

What is V02? Research shows that successful performance in endurance running is closely related to the level of aerobic metabolism that a runner is able to sustain throughout a race. This directly impacts on the runner’s ability to maintain their speed throughout the duration of a race. Aerobic metabolism refers to the body’s ability to convert oxygen, delivered to the working muscles, to usable energy. The maximal point at which each athlete is able to achieve this is referred to as their maximal oxygen uptake or their O2max.

The test consisted of a ramp test where you run on a treadmill in stages of four minutes with each stage going up a level in speed until you need to stop. The second test was a 5k time trial on the treadmill after running at 16kmph for 10 minutes.  The third test was that I had to run my long run on another day which was 1 hour and 30 minutes at 70% heart rate.

After this I was sent away for 6 weeks where I had to increase one long run by 6 minutes for 3 weeks and the other long run by 9 minutes for 3 weeks and then maintain it for a further 6 weeks.  I then went back into the lab and preformed the 3 tests like before. I was given my results and this showed my V02 max had gone down so could struggle a bit in my runs but my running economy had improved hugely and something I needed to work on more. So what is Running Economy?

A common method for assessing an athlete’s running economy is to look at the volume of oxygen ( O2) they are able to consume at a speed of 16km h-1. The average O2 in well trained runners at this speed is~52ml•kg-1•min-1. However, as an individual athlete’s running economy can differ according to their speed, and 16km•h-1 can be too fast for many athletes, it can be better to assess RE in terms of distance covered ml•kg-1•km-1. The average RE for well-trained runners, when expressed in this form, would be ~200ml•kg-1•km-1.

So mine had improved but was still poor so I was told to work on easy long runs at 70% heart rate through the winter. This was to purely make me more efficient and burn fat instead of carbs. I found I enjoyed the winter months as the training was easy and in a space of a year I had managed 15 PB in all different types of disciplines.

So I was asked to go back in August this year for another test but this time a test for the difference between running indoors and outdoors. This test consisted of a Ramp test on the treadmill, 5K time trial after running 15kmph for 10 minutes on treadmill then I had to do this on the track.

So what did I learn this time? That running on a treadmill is quicker as I was 20 seconds quicker on the treadmill. Does that help me? Probably not but the data I got from it does. I was told my V02 max was a lot higher than last year because I was purely training for 5k’s, however my running economy was still poor but much better than last year. So looking at the data the short running reps help for 5k’s but the longer distances help for the longer races. As I have decided not to do a marathon next year I will be focusing on speed in the winter but also targeting my running economy.

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Did I find the data useful and did I improve? Well I did, at first I didn’t think this would work but now I have the science behind me I can move my training forward. The first test last year did work hugely and now it’s time to put the August test in practice.

The next journey begins now. Goals for the cold winter months!

After a very successful Aquathlon year and being able to represent GB twice which was a huge honour, I have not been able to PB much in running and improve my running since the winter months. Therefore while the Aquathlon season is over until next spring, I will be focusing on improving my running on a whole ready for next season; of course I will still be swimming and improving so I have included all my targets from now to start building for another successful year.

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Please keep an eye out on my website for my current race schedule as it will be updated regularly and my Twitter account for my results.  My goals are:

  • One area is my 5k time, to officially record a sub 18 minute 5k; I have run aquathlons quicker than my official 5k PB, so I want this to now show in PB times.
  • To improve on my 10k time of 36:50 set in May 2016. I hope to do this by the end of next year. Ideally I would like a sub 36 minute 10k.
  • To improve my 10 mile race time of 1:02:46. I would like to take off a big chunk. I aim to do this in either a race in December 2016 (Alan Green 10 mile race) or January 2017 (Parkers Steel Canterbury 10 miler). With the main aim of running a 10 miler under an hour in the future.
  • For a half marathon, I aim to PB this year to beat my time of 1:23:32 set nearly two years ago. I don’t do many half marathons so next year is a focus to do a couple and improve on my time. With the main goal of dipping under 1:20.
  • Build on my swimming and to improve my swimming times over the winter.
  • To have a successful cross country season with Canterbury Harriers.
  • Work and prepare with Gobinder (My confidence coach) ready for next season.
  • Strength training through the winter.

These are my goals for the quiet winter season which will keep me ticking over until spring. I have in mind my goals for next year in Aquathlons but will set these out in the New Year.

So I have treated myself to a new pair of Adidas cross country spikes and a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost. So what’s next for me? Why have I chosen these targets?

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Well because of all the aquathlons this season I was unable to record PB’s in my road running races, so this is the target for the winter months. The good thing about the winter is that there is not many road running races so I can focus on a good winter of training ready for the spring. Being a running coach I have sorted my plan out for the next 6 weeks, so I will be doing 6 week loading plans with the 7th week easy running and then start again. I will revaluated myself every 6 weeks and target what area is needed in my running from this. I am looking at targeting quicker times in half marathons so will be doing a few of them and building up the endurance for this. I will also be competing in some of the Kent Fitness League cross country races because this is important to strengthen me up ready for the summer.

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I have decided that swimming is an area I need to improve on a lot for next season and I will be working with Matt my swimming coach in December. This is much earlier than the previous season as I only started working with him in April and only had a few months to get stronger and faster.

I am a regular gym user and like to do weights in the gym twice a week depending on training. I figured that I needed help in this area so shortly I will be working with a strength and endurance coach. This is going to be very important to build strength up to make me stronger and faster and keep those injuries at bay. I am looking forward to this and it is going to be a new experience for me. I will keep you posted about this in the future.

Another aspect to improve is my confidence; I have just recently worked with Gobinder who has already helped a lot and we have implemented aspects ready for next season. I look forward to this journey as we have just started and look forward to the end outcome.

So what’s next?  Well keep looking at my current schedule as I will update it regularly. I have had two weeks off from training since the World Championships and to allow my body to fully recover. Unfortunately after the race I picked up an Achilles injury which I am trying to manage. I have slowly got back into running and swimming but only easy sessions and I enjoy the free time I have now.  I have entered the Givaudan Ashford 10k on the 9th of October as I organise the Canterbury Harriers Club Championships there, so wanted to run it. I am not fit for the race due to having a rest and I am yet to decide whether to run with my wife or to just race it and see where my current fitness levels are at the moment. I have also entered the Trispirit Events Chilham Castle 5k the following week which will be the first week of proper training. I have entered this because I won it last year and hold the current course record and it’s only a few minutes away from where I live so I wanted to do it. Ater this the hard training really begins with a target race being the Brooks Brighton 10k on the 20th of November. This is the race I hope to be fully fit for and hopefully knock on the door of a PB.