National Aquathlon Championships

My last big race was approaching on September the 8th the National Aquathlon Championships. However leading up to this the weekend before I picked up a foot infection after competing at the triathlon sprint relays on the Sunday prior. My foot was hurting and inflamed straight after the race. I have had a problem near my toe with a lump for a while, unfortunately after being told to go to the MIU from the medical team at the race there was no doctor on duty at the MIU to give me antibiotics. The good news is I had a doctor’s appointment booked in for the Monday anyway a week before. I turned up in pain and hobbling at the doctors, the doctor confirmed it was an infection. I explained my health comes first and if he pulls me out of the Nationals that is fine. Well he said there was no reason for not to continue to train etc and gave me antibiotics and stated only train if it doesn’t hurt and keep an eye on it.

So I did, however on the Thursday I started feeling unwell and drained so I took Friday and Saturday off prior to the race. It worked a treat as Saturday morning I felt really good, all though still had pain in my foot; it was healing and didn’t affect my running or swimming. I didn’t know what my fitness was and Saturday night I had another problem with the fire alarm at the hotel went off just after midnight which woke me up and then I struggled with sleep after that and had roughly a few hours max sleep. So race day came and I was shattered and felt awful.

Feeling sorry for myself Sunday morning and not great at all I had to just give it my all and see what I can do. The race was in beautiful Arundel and I highly recommend visiting. The race started and we went off in waves, I tried to pushed hard in the swim however felt sluggish I didn’t give up but at the turn around point I started to feel awful and struggling to get keep pace or go faster. I came out the river and didn’t feel great, I proceeded to transition and realised I must have had a good swim as I was close to the top guys.

I was struggling to get my wetsuit off due to the air temperature and lake being a bit on the cold side. I came out of transition and onto the run and decided to run hard and see how long I could keep this pace up. I managed to catch the lead pack with around 2k to go and took the lead in my AG. 2nd placed stayed on the back of me and I knew he could get past me and at that point I had nothing left. However when on the final stretch of the race, I asked my body to go faster, gritted my teeth and tried to turn my legs over quicker still feeling awful but kept saying to myself in my head come on nearly there and my body reacted an moved.

I came storming to the finish line and started celebrating. It could well be my best race, I didn’t expect to get on the podium at the start of the week but I gave everything and didn’t give up. So very happy to defend and win the National Championships for a second time. I learnt something here today and that is never give up until it’s over. I kept wanting to stop and ease off but mentally I was in the right place. Lots of negative thoughts came into my head but I managed to keep positive and block the negative thoughts out and this is what made the difference. I had to dig very deep to defend this, of course if I was fully fit I know I could of been faster but I did just enough to retain my title.

This season has been amazing and becoming European and National Aquathlon Champion has made me achieve more than anything I could ever imagine. As mentioned before in blogs I won’t be taking up my GB spots for the Aquathlon team next year as I want to focus on triathlons. However I am yet to decide if I will come back to the nationals or not next year for Aquathlons. Since I started this journey in 2015 I have raced in 37 Aquathlons, podium 29 times and had 7 wins. I have won 2 National titles, Runner up and 3rd, European Champion and Bronze medal, represented GB 8 time and captained the team at Age Group. It’s been an amazing journey and I move on to new challenges now.

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Vorgee Vortech & Stealth MKII Goggles review


It is important to get the right goggles to use and there are so many factors that you need to consider before purchasing a pair such as: are they suitable for outdoor swimming and races?  Vorgee kindly sent me some pairs to test and review. A little bit of background to the company, Vorgee is an Australian owned company which was established in 2005. By providing products from beginners to competitive swimmers. So being an Australian company and Australia having a track record of outstanding swimmers I was very interested in testing their products. I got to test the Vorgee Vortech and Stealth MkII swimming goggles so onto my review.

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Vorgee Vortech swimming goggles were the first up to test and below are some quick features:

• Soft frame unibody for added comfort and a softer fit
• Soft but firm gasket to hold correct position away from the face
• Ultra vision lens – a curved lens which offers greater clarity and wide high grade silicone dual band to ensure correct strap positioning and fit
• Anti fog injection
• UVA and UVB protection
• Exclusively endorsed by Swim Australia

First impressions were that they looked good but I thought the grey clips on the side looked a bit cheap. I think it was because the colour makes it look slightly cheap plastic. However I am not too worried about that but it could be something to change in the future. They don’t look flashy; I like goggles to have tinted lenses but that is my preference. However this type of goggle is bulky and this is what I like in goggles and are the type I use in races and outdoor swimming. I found it was a perfect fit and the grey levers are easy to do up and tighten up. I am also a big fan of this type of rubber strap and design. It is very light; this is due to the ultralight gasket and frame to provide less pressure around the face and for comfort.

I tested these in the pool and open water; no leaks whilst swimming so that’s a win win, they felt very comfortable and no problems of them feeling too tight or leaving marks on my face. What I was impressed by was that wherever I was swimming the goggles did not fog up. They were clear and did the job.

My conclusion is that although they look like normal swimming goggles, a few minor upgrades to the looks (so that the grey levers don’t look too cheap) and having tinted lenses would make the goggle stand out hugely. I think these are great goggles; they are comfy and do not fog up. They are at a good retail price with some retailers pricing them under £16. I would take “great goggles” anytime over “flashy goggles”.

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So on to Stealth MkII review; first impressions were that they looked very flashy. I liked the colour and design, they stand out and this is what I like. But did they do the job? Vorgee have designed this as ultralight low resistance racing goggles. I don’t race with these types of goggles as I like my race goggles bulky because most of my races are open water. But that is a personal preference. Below are the key features of the Stealth MKII:

• Race goggles
• Curved silver mirror lens for an increased wide angle vision of up to 140°
• 3D seal design
• High grade silicone, dual band strap with Quick Fit Strap Adjustment
• Anti-fog coating for enhanced visual clarity
• 4 interchangeable nose bridges
• UVA and UVB Protection

When using them they felt very comfy and light. However I had a problem with the dual band straps; I struggled to do them up and get them in the right place and Ii was not overly keen on them. I preferred the other type of goggle straps but these types of straps were very robust and a low chance of the straps snapping. They did not fog up and they were very clear. However when swimming open water I sometimes got a little leak but once I did them up they were fine; I don’t think I did them up right.

My conclusion is that they are not goggles for me purely for the strap reason; I can never get that right. Nevertheless they were comfy and looked flash. They are great pool goggles but not so sure about using them outside. I like the colour design and maybe a recommendation is that in the future they do a different strap design. So overall I really like the Vortech the best; they felt great and did the job.

European and Season Review

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My season has come to an end and I am now having a rest period. Firstly It has been a great season – I have been on the podium 7 out of 9 Aquathlon races, 2 were race wins and a National Championships. I gained 3rd place in an sea 3k swim, 2nd in my first triathlon for nearly 6 years and in running races I broke a course record in a 5k, which I won. I also came runner up in another 5k. I was the Team Captain for both the European and World Aquathlon Championships for the GB team. I will be back at these races next year. I will be focusing more on multi-sport next year and will be racing in more triathlons too so its going to be exciting.

I want to thank everyone for all the support over the years and I have achieved so much since I started running and swimming in 2012. When I have a bad race I always look how far I have come, things like I couldn’t swim in 2012, being injured a lot, winning National and European medals since competing in Aquathlons in 2015, representing GB for my Age Group and being the team captain makes me very proud and hopefully my blogs and social media updates of my journey inspire others.

So onto the European Championships – a few days before I got the dreaded 5am flight over, so only having a few hours’ sleep and having to leave at 1.30am to get to the airport I was shattered but excited. We arrived in Ibiza at 9am and on the first day we did a lot of walking and looking at the sites with a couple of friends that came over the watch. I had to do a 40 min easy run that day, followed by a swim recce with a lot of the team as I organised it.

The following day I woke up feeling very ache, assuming because of the lack of sleep  from the previous day. However I had two rest days before the race. Race day approached and I was feeling very confident although still a bit sore and achy from a few days prior. The race was in the evening so I chilled out in the hotel room and relaxed and went through my race plan. I knew I was in the best shape I have ever been and couldn’t wait for the race. I met my friends and wife in the afternoon for lunch for 2pm. With a 6pm race start time I thought that was plenty of time. I then headed down to the race where I had to be out of transition at 4.30pm.

It was nice chatting to friends and after that I shut myself off from people and listened to music and prepared myself for the race. At 5.10pm I went for my warm-up which is very early but this was because we had to get onto a boat to the start of the swim. I did my warm-up and then the organisers were running late which meant by the time we got on the boat it was 6pm.

We headed off on the boat to the start line, everyone boarded the board and the boat started playing music very loudly which made it hard to chat to people. I liked the bit when we were getting on the boat and the Eye of the Tiger was playing.  We then jumped into the water one by one and waited for everyone to get in. The horn sounded and off we went. It was a non wet-suit swim and I pushed very hard at the start, I did get kicked in the face but hey that happens all the time in mass swims. I had a lot of space and when I came out of the sea I thought I had an ok swim but not my best as I didn’t feel tired.

I came out of transition and started to push hard on the run. The course was tight and tricky and on the zig zag bit just after transition I fell and slipped over. I felt my ankle go crack and a shooting pain, I then picked myself up quickly and carried on running with discomfort for a few minutes. I tried not to think about it and I carried on running. On lap two I was caught by a GB guy in my race and all of a sudden I picked up the pace and stuck with him until he went passed me at the last few meters. I finished 13th but later the result was changed to 14th – I assume someone had a penalty and appealed it. I didn’t think I had a great race as my time was well off and my run was not where I thought it would be. I wasn’t tired at the end of the race which was weird. But I came home in 35:46.

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So what everyone does is analyse their race and what went right or wrong. I am not going to be tough on myself or complain. It was just a long season where for me I didn’t perform to my best on the day and sometimes this is how it goes. Mentally when I fell I think that had a huge impact on my performance but these things happen. This is a learning curve and for next year I will be working on the mental aspect of my racing and the “what ifs something goes wrong”. A positive is that I finished strongly on the last mile. I will try to make sure a warm up is done closer to the race next time. I am going to maintain my running and swimming, will try to improve a little on those in the winter but the main focus will be on the bike.  I have started looking at my A races and B races so next year and it will be an even better season.

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Don’t be critical about your performances, take the positives and work with them. I will be back next year giving it my all. Now time for rest and easy training.

XK Swimzi review

 

IMG_6768I was able to try and review this product; first impressions is this looked similar to other products on the market but how wrong was I.

Firstly here is a background on how the product was developed from their site. “Back in May 2015, a team of five British swimmers plunged into 9°C shark-infested waters in an attempt to complete the treacherous 30-mile stretch from the Farallon Islands to the Bay of San Francisco, with only a swimming costume, pair of goggles and silicon hat to keep them warm. In a relay-style challenge, the swimmers were to spend a total of 30 hours on board the support craft, where their main concern was to remain warm, dry and protected from the harsh elements. Here at swimzi, it was our job to develop a high-quality product that would not only act as an impenetrable shield against the elements, but also enable the athletes to perform with maximum blood flow when it was their turn to take the plunge. By working closely with the Farallon Swimmers, and adapting key features used in sailing and mountaineering gear, swimzi have developed a piece of weatherproof kit like no other. The XK jacket has been carefully designed to protect against wind penetration whilst keeping essential body heat locked in: allowing you to perform at your best… whatever your sport, wherever you are in the world.”

On to the review, firstly the material on the outside is waterproof, therefor keeping you dry which is a no brainer. The inner lining is made from super soft-warm handle Sherpa fleece. Now this is an important feature, unlike its rivals this product is designed to keep you warm after your warm up and retain your body heat so that you are able to start your race still warm. I was able to compare it with others on the market and this did what the others didn’t do. So I put this to the test, I did my normal warm up before one of my aquathlon races and put the XK on straight after my warm up. I had to wait a bit and it kept me warm before the race. I found I was able to hit the swim better than not using the Swimzi.

The product comes with a 2 way zip system which is very useful which allows you to zip up the hood to stop wind chill. What I liked about the Swimzi was that it felt much lighter than its rivals and it was thinner so therefore not as bulky and easy to carry round.

Another feature is that you can easily get changed inside it, you might think that its too loose but the cords allow you to tighten the jacket.

My conclusion is that this is a great product and in my opinion the best on the market. It is designed for swimmers by swimmers purely to keep you warm after your warm up, unlike others. Its light and gives you the ease of movement. So I highly recommend this product. The photo is me using it at the National Championships and is now an essential part of my kit.

Check out more info on the XK Swimzi Here

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Very proud to competing for GB again this year!

Quite a few people in recent weeks have been asking me if I am competing for GB again this year so I thought its time to write a blog about this as it has been a while since my last. Firstly thank you for the support over the recent years and I am proud to announce that after a fantastic season last year and finishing 6th at the World Championships in my age group last summer in Penticton (Canada), I therefore have gained qualification to the World and European Aquathlon Championships and I will be competing in those races this year. Just in case you don’t know what an Aquathlon is, it is like a Triathlon but without the bike part. Normally consists of a 1000 metre swim, followed by a 5k run.

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I am honoured and very privileged to be able to represent GB the past few years and again this year. I am very proud of my achievements in just a few years which as seen a European medal and two National medals. I am very much excited and looking forward to competing again. Working for NHS has allowed me to train well due to the flexi time, where I am able to train after work something I am very grateful of.

I started increasing my training since start of the year, it is hard work balancing training around work and trying to make sure I get some time to enjoy other things etc. A few of you have asked what kind of training I do, so here is a bit of an insight into my training. Straight after work I start my training around 4.45pm and I am normally home around 7.30pm most evenings, I prefer to have Saturday off training normally so I can do things with my wife and family. So my training for a typical week consists of the following 2 Strength training sessions in the gym, 4 runs a week, with around 30-40 miles per week. 4 swim sessions a week and a normal session consists of around 3500 metres and a bike session with at least one full days rest per week, sometimes two. Its pretty hard to maintain it and keep it up, cant wait for October as I will take a full month off.

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I do believe that you don’t have to be talented but working hard and being determined will pay off. Listening to your body is vital so if you get any niggles I then I back off. I always like reading peoples backgrounds and how they have got into running etc. I know a few in the Trust have taken running up in recent months which is inspiring as we all have to start somewhere. I only started running in 2012 as I was inspired by the London Olympics with no real background to sport and took up swimming just over 6 years ago and looking back now I couldn’t swim so if you are taking up sport, keep at it as you will get the benefits in years to come. I took up running to keep fit but nowadays I think its more because I like food too much. If anyone is looking for advice with their training, just drop me an email. I am always happy to help.

Anyway the countdown begins and first stop is the World Championships.  The World Championships this year is in Denmark in a place called Middlefart in July. So my training prep is all tailored for this event at the moment. I am hoping to target the top 10 this year and if I can place higher even better, but most importantly I just do it as I enjoy it and love the experience. I then will be competing at the National Championships in Peterborough which is only 10 days later. This does not give me much time to recover and training wont be ideal as I will only be back in the country for a few days before. In regards on targets for this race, 2016 was a Bronze medal, 2017 was a Silver medal so maybe there is a trend….I will try and target the podium again. If I did get another medal I would be over the moon. After the Nationals I have the European Aquathlon Championships in Ibiza which is at the end of October. Which is quite late and means it’s a long season ahead, but I have decided after this to take some time off all exercise for a few weeks to a month and decide if I want to continue this journey.  Anyway my target for this race will be to try and get into the top 10 in this race.

What I have learnt over the years is that experience in any race/training session is so important. I do get very nervous when these races come up and I get phantom pains/niggles, but I have learnt to keep a positive mind and try to relax. I do get very excited when these races come up and I like meeting athletes and sharing stories from different places around the world. But remind myself that this is just a hobby.

 

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Busy month of races

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The past month has been a busy month race wise.

First up was on the 25th of March which was the Tri Spirits Hole park 5k challenge. I had won the race last year and I wanted to analyse my progress from the previous year and try and beat my time and the course record I set.

It was a gloomy day and I felt so tired as we had been looking after my sister’s dog for the week which took its toll with a lack of sleep. I knew I was going to struggle that morning as my heart rate was quite high. Anyway the course is a challenging off road course and this year it was very muddy; last year it was sunny and dry.

I decided to run the first mile hard and see how it went. I had a few people sticking to me at the start but then they fell back. Being muddy favours me as I love cross country and I am a strong cross country runner.  I had no one near me but I decided to still push hard, falling over in the mud in the process. I finished the race is a comfortable 1st place, and with a new course record of 20:40 and therefore beating my last time of over 40 seconds on a muddier course.  I was really happy with it and it was a huge confidence boost.

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Less than a week later it was the Folkestone 10 mile road race on Good Friday. A race I have never done before, but is flat and a fast course. I was in great shape and with Fleet Half Marathon cancelled a few weeks prior I was sure I could get a PB and push near to the sub 1 hour mark. One target I am working towards.

I started my warm up and it started to rain and it appeared the wind was quite strong against me. Some 700 people had entered this race with many using this as marathon prep.  The race started and I wanted to hold back on pace and not overdo it. I was aiming for negative splits, my first mile was 6.05, but then after that it got slower and tough against the wind. Another 4 miles battling the wind and I was nowhere near a PB. I then turned around on the 5 mile part and headed back. By this point I was over a minute away from getting a PB and the rain had got worse, I was soaked.

I then decided to try going faster the second half and with the wind with me I started at 5:50 per mile and went quicker per mile. The last mile was tough but I kept going and managed to finish in 1:00:13. I was over the moon with the time and I managed to set 5 mile and 5k PB’s on the way back.

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The next race the following week was the Basildon Aquathlon. This was my first aquathlon for the year and my preparation for the world championships was under the way. I came down with a head cold that week and I was very nervous. On race day the weather was awful which made the off road course so muddy, it was also a 400m pool swim which I don’t like as I am slower in the pool as I do not tumble turn. However I have been practising. I entered transition and because it was muddy on the course I had to wear trails. This made me really nervous as I have never worn trails in an aquathlon. The race started and I entered the pool. I felt comfortable in the swim but the last 200 metres I was struggling to breath due to having this cold. I entered transition and it was hard to get my trails, but good job I practiced before the race.

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I got on the run and felt good, although the trails were making me slide around the paths. When I got onto the grass and hills, I made-up a lot of time and was very wise to wear them. The course was muddy and it was such a hard run. I kept pushing, overtaking people.

I raced home in 2nd place; although the time was slightly slower due to the run course being wet and muddy. I was very happy, my swim was a few seconds better and I had the fastest run split. My work towards a successful world championships race has now begun.

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Next up was the Asics Fleet Half Marathon that was postponed and rearrange due to the snow a month later. I didn’t really want to do it because of the timing. My wife was running it too. The weather was a bit cold and overcast. I just wanted to beat my current PB of 1:23:20, so I started off at a slow pace for the first 3 miles. I then built into it working on getting quicker and maintaining the speed. I was running with another guy for most of it and with the tail wind we decided to swap who took the lead along the course to try and keep the wind off us. I managed to get quicker and we raced home in 1:19:29. I was over the moon as this is a target I thought was unrealistic and therefore took just under 4 minutes off my last PB and 22nd place. This was a distance I have struggled in the past. I was also very proud to see my wife finish as she struggled with an ankle and calf problem.

 

Looking back at all these races, I am able now to push harder in training and work towards a great World Championships.

 

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Who Am I?

I am a skinny sluggish man who decides to run a 5k Charity run for Sport Relief in 2010 at the age of 25. With not much training I thought I would give it a go. The only exercise I did was playing 5 a side football once a week. No real background in sport since I left school. The day came and I was nervous, ran as fast as I could for around 400m and then I struggled and about a mile from the finish I started to walk. I was in too much pain and tired, I got close to the finish line and started to run again as I didn’t want to let people down. I was happy to finish it but I hated it and I was glad it was over. The following year I took up swimming, well tried to swim. It was tough; the first time I went swimming I managed 6 lengths in a 33m pool in an hour. I remember I would do a length and wait about ten minutes to do the next length. This was so difficult for me but I kept at it and slowly went further and further.

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Two years later (2012) I decided to do the same again and raise money for charity in the 2012 Sport relief 5k run. This time I trained a few weeks beforehand with no real experience the race came and I was nervous again but this time paced myself and got round. I was happy and I didn’t have to walk. This time I enjoyed it but that ended there.

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In the summer of 2012 I was watching the 2012 London Olympics on TV and this is what started my journey. I was inspired by watching the triathlon race and how good the Brownlee brothers were. So, inspired, I joined my local and current running club Canterbury Harriers in September that year.  As a novice in running I kept getting injured and nearly gave up the first year, I had on-going calf injuries.  However after setback after setback I decided I wanted to carry on running and was determined to get through this bad patch. I turned up to my local swimming pool that had a triathlon class on and I gave it ago.  The first thing the instructor asked was why I was wearing goggles if I didn’t put my head in the water. I listened and learnt the stroke; she had told me to practice and my swimming was getting easier and better.

I decided to train for a triathlon and my leg was healing. However it did not take long for it to go again and this time I had to do a triathlon. I turned up to the race with a bit of a limp and was fine on the swim and bike but a mile into the run my calf felt like someone had stabbed it with a knife. I had to carry on as I was raising money for charity and after I limped back I was unable to run for nearly two months. Unfortunately healing was a problem; I would come back to running and get stuck in a cycle that every time I ran every 6 weeks it would go again.

The summer of 2014 saw me compete in a few triathlons and I was getting better however it wasn’t long until I got injured again and this time I was out for a full 3 months with an Achilles injury. I stayed positive and managed to bounce back after a long lay-off. This time I had a goal of staying injury free for longer and it worked. I ended up getting around 15 PB’s in races in 2015, which is due to the fact of keeping injury free.

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After going a while injury free for a bit, I was in the process of buying a house and planning for my wedding with my future wife. I didn’t have the time to go out and train for all disciplines so therefore didn’t have time to train on the bike. Two days after we were back from our honeymoon, I entered a local aquathlon. I was very jet lagged and was advised by a friend who is a sports scientist not to do it but I still did. I ended up coming back in 5th place and was happy with that. I took many positives out of it and then decided to set my sites on qualifying for the Great Britain aquathlon squad.

By the time September came I had already taken well over 2 minutes off my aquathlon race time and it was time to submit my time for the GB aquathlon team. After being accepted in the GB team I was very nervous and excited at the same time.

I turned up to the National Aquathlon Championships in Leeds and didn’t really have any goals but to just enjoy it. I came out the water in 45th place and as soon as I came out, I started pushing the run as it’s my strong point. The course was very hilly but I kept targeting people one by one. So when I crossed the line, I had no idea I was in 3rd place in my age group. When I found out I was third I was very proud and shocked.

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The European came round quickly and I knew I was in a lot better shape because training had gone well. Although I had a nasty cold a few days before the Europeans I was relaxed and just didn’t want to come last. The time came to start the race and we were told prior no wetsuits allowed as the lake was 26 degrees. The swim was 1000 metres so a bit further than my normal races. We started with a large crowd watching and at the 500m point we had to get out and run back in; I noticed I had a large group in front of me so I pushed hard to get close to them.  Once I came out of transition I then started my run and just went for it. I was picking people off throughout the run and I then saw two guys in my Age Group in front of me at the last 400 metres. I somehow found something extra and sprinted passed them to take 3rd on the line. Another Bronze medal and another achievement I never thought would happen. I was over the moon and something to tell my children in the future; my wife shed some tears and she was very proud of me. She comes to every race with me and has been there from the start since I took up Aquathlons and has been very supportive. Words can’t describe how happy I was and it was an amazing day for me.

As a result of my European and National age group Bronze medals I was able to compete at the World Championships in Cozumel 2016 in tough heat. I struggled and came 28th in my age group. I was very disappointed.

After this I wanted to make sure I could improve and come back stronger for the summer. So the winter of 2016 came and I was determined to improve. I had high hopes as training went very well. However 6 weeks before the European Championships this year I strained my calf and I had around 10 days off from running. I was struggling with motivation as I knew I lost all my improvement. I turned up to the European Aquathlon race in Bratislava in 2017 fit but not fully fit. I had a great run and was 9th overall in the end. It was my swim that let me down. Ten days later it was the national Aquathlon Championships – 3 days prior my achilles flared up and I was struggling to walk. I kept positive and turned up on race day with a sore foot where I came home in 2nd place in my age group. I didn’t expect that.

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August 2017 and the time came for the World Championships in Penticton and I was fully fit and in the best shape I have ever been and selected as the Team Captain. The race started and I struggled in the swim at the start but managed to improve towards the end. I struggled in the first part of the run but then got faster towards the end; I knew I had a bad swim when I came into transition behind a lot of guys I was normally in front of. I kept pushing on the run and came 6th in the World in my age group – something I was over the moon about.

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From my experience the GB races were never in my mind. If you train smart and hard you never know what path you will go down. Never give up and always enjoy your training and races.

A 10 mile road race in and around Canterbury organised by Invicta East Kent AC and sponsored by Ssangyong

Swim, Bike, Run with Yiannis… Blog which featured on the Dry Website

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We asked Dry Bag ambassador Yiannis Christodoulou to keep us up to date with his movements this winter in preparation for a busy 2018 season. Be sure to follow him on social media to keep up with his interesting antics @yiannis.christodoulou

I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2018 season has in store, winter training is in full swing I am starting to prepare for my first Aquathlon race of the year

It still seems quite a long way away until the 2018 World Aquathlon Championships in July, race specific build up starts in April and the season will come to a close with the ETU Ibiza European Aquathlon Championships in October, my main goals are to get near or on the podium for all my races this season. With a long season ahead, my winter schedule has focused on strength and conditioning as well a lot of technique training. As is inevitable, I was hit by a nasty winter cold and a minor injury which dented my training a little.

So, what have I been doing this winter? Firstly, I got back on my bike for the first time in nearly four years, I set up my indoor turbo trainer and started working a little on the bike in order to train and compete in triathlons this season. I will enjoy these races as part of my training schedule with no pressure and will use them to cover the gap between the World and European Championships – it will be a bit of fun and something new to help keep my training fresh.

Every training session is like a jigsaw puzzle, where you put the different parts together slowly to complete the puzzle. Triathlon specific drills I have been working on in the gym are squats for strength, jumping lunges for fast muscle twitches and pull ups for core / upper body strength. Strength and conditioning work will make you stronger and prevent injuries, it can also make you faster, which a lot of people don’t realise.

I have been dedicating a lot of time to strength and conditioning, working alongside my coach Craig Coggle, we’ve steadily been building up the weights and reps. My main focus is my running, as this was an area I knew I could make gains on over the winter. I focussed on the cross-country season, where I also got a chance to use my Dry Bag putting in my wet and muddy kit from the race (I’m not kidding – swimming was involved in some races!). I am chuffed with my cross-country season, finishing 11th overall in the league which is an improvement of 5 places from last year. Good vibes all round.

Realising the benefits of a strength coach, with the support of The Dry Bag I also started working with swim coach John Wood. I was buzzing to try something new and his coaching style is completely different to anything I have done before. I don’t come from a swimming background so have always struggled to pull together structured training programmes in this discipline. Since working with John I am really enjoying swimming, every session is different and I am starting to see good progress in my times. Swimming is an area I must improve so that I can achieve my goals and get near that podium this year. I swim four times a week and the intensity has increased, being part of a swimming club forms one of my sessions, they’re a great bunch of people and it makes training enjoyable and varied.

I cannot wait to see how the extra swim training and strength sessions improve my performances in 2018. Hard work pays off and keeping your training fresh is important. Follow me on Instagram to follow my progress this year: @yiannis.christodoulou

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Protecting your wetsuit is the key to expanding its life

 

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As you are all aware I have been using The Dry Bag to protect my wetsuit whilst it’s stored away this winter, protecting it from dust, dirt and creepy crawlies. The ventilated bag means it won’t festure or grow a spider colony, phew. I’ve found it so handy that I decided to write another blog about the importance of protecting your wetsuit and prolonging its life s you guys can hop on The Dry Bag band wagon with me.

Wetsuits degrade quickly. Fact. Which is annoying, not only because they’re expensive but once you’ve moulded to your wetsuit it becomes a second skin, important for race day right? After a race or an outdoor training session I would leave my wetsuit in a bag soaked, scrunched up and covered with sand and dirt – no wonder they didn’t last more than one season, doh! Sometimes, and (only sometimes!) I would wash it and let it dry in the bathroom over the shower door, resulting in a grumbling wife and a puddle on the floor! I can safely say she who is to be obeyed is in love with my Dry Bag!

If you’re prone to hanging your wetsuit outside to dry, The Dry Bag offers 3x more protection from the sun’s UV rays than without. If your wetsuit will degrade 30% quicker when exposed to sunlight it’s a no brainer to put in a Dry Bag when drying outside to keep it protected. This of course will help you get a couple more years from your wetsuit.

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The best feature is that it doesn’t take up a lot of room and it is easy to put into your wardrobe with the wetsuit hanging and still drying. This therefore saves time and means it’s easy to grab the wetsuit. Also bonus – The Dry Bag separates your wetsuit from your clothes and towels so you don’t get the lovely neoprene pong rubbing off on them.

My conclusion is that protecting your wetsuit (and therefore wallet) is key. Let’s be honest who wants to be paying hundreds for a new wetsuit every, single year? I’m excited to know that my wetsuit is ready to grab from my wardrobe come the spring safe in the knowledge that it will be dust, dirt and spider (!) free. With the season just around the corner my advice would be spend £60 on a product that you’ll be thankful for come those early morning training sessions. For further information, please use website link below.

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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