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Women’s Tri The World’s First Women’s Triathlon Magazine

Issue 1 | April 2015 | £3.50

The period problem:

Rachel Joyce

Tampons or cups?

“Swimming was like a favourite coat for me”

Essential first time bike buyer’s guide

Top training advice

to brighten up your gym kit

Real women, real lives How to juggle tri training with a busy schedule



Warm-ups, stretches and mental exercises


Grub for gold: the best food for pre and post competition




4 A BUST OF COLOUR With spring well and truly under way, these 8 sports bras will brighten up your gym kit. 5 APRIL TRI CALENDAR A month’s worth of the most exciting t tri events across the country. 6 GRUB FOR GOLD Carboloading, protein and healthy fats: what to eat when training. 7 TRAINING TIPS Fitness coach Jason Doggett provides some top tips on avoiding injury. 8 THE TRIUMPHANT TRIO Rachel Joyce, Sophie Coldwell and Sophia Saller tell us about their careers, relationships, and passion for swimming.


EDITORS Alyss Bowen Sophie Turner

SUB EDITORS Joe Christmas Mike Pettifer

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charlotte Manning Davina Merchant Shannon Skeels Georgie Kiely James Thompson Hannah Rought

14 WORKING 9 TIL TRI Three everyday women talk early mornings, training partners and where they find their motivation. 16 THE PROBLEM OF PERIODS How to navigate the minefield of ‘that time of the month’. 17 FIRST TIME BIKE-BUYER’S GUIDE Advice on buying an entry level bike, with 8 top tips from David Eveleigh. Photo Credit: Specialised

18 COLUMN: TRYING TO TRI Editor Alyss Bowen battles through blood, sweat and tears whilst training for her first ever triathlon. 18 A HISTORY OF TRI A brief look at some iconic moments of triathlons past.


WELCOME TO WOMEN’S TRI, THE FIRST EVER WOMEN’S TRIATHLON MAGAZINE As we begin the transition into spring and triathlon season is on the horizon, all of our age-old winter excuses begin to melt away. It’s officially time to kick up your training a notch and get prepared for the trials ahead. The first ever issue of Women’s Tri is here to help inspire, educate and motivate you in the run up to the busiest time of the year. We have interviews with top triathletes Sophia Saller, Rachel Joyce and

Sophie Coldwell, as well as everyday heroines who share their top tips for tri training on a busy schedule. There is also tons of advice from experts on nutrition, health and fitness, as well as what to do when mother nature comes calling during racing season. (We asked the awkward period questions so you don’t have to – in Café Nero, next to an embarrassed man trying desperately not to listen). So prepare yourself a high-protein snack, lower yourself into a nice cold ice bath and enjoy the ride.

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12/4/2015 Cranleigh Sportivate Triathlon (300m Swim, 16km Bike Ride, 5km Run) Cranleigh, Surrey

19/4/2015 Womble Triathlon (420m Swim, 11.5km Bike Ride, 5km Run) Wimbledon, London

12/4/2015 Skipton Triathlon (400m Swim, 20km Bike Ride, 5 km Run) Skipton, North Yorkshire

19/4/2015 Haywards Heath Sprint Triathlon (Various Distances) Haywards Heath, West Sussex

18/4/2015 Galashiels Triathlon, Come and Tri Triathlon (400m Swim, 10.88km Bike Ride, 2.33 km run) Galashields, Selkirkshire

25-26/4/2015 Cape Town Triathlon Event Discovery World Triathlon (1.5km Swim 20km Bike Ride 5km Run) Cape Town, South Africa

Spring is here and with it comes a whole new range of brightly coloured and pattered sports bras. Most high-street stores are catching on with the trend and a new colourful addition to your gym bag may cost you less than you think. Go on, add a splash of colour into your workout!

Primark £5

Nike Pro Rival- £40

New Look £9.99

H&M £14.99

25/4/2015 Ocean Lake Sprint Tri Race 1 (750m Swim, 20km Bike Ride, 5km Run) Leybourne, Kent

19/4/2015 Southwell Triathlon (400m Swim, 17.6km Bike Ride, 5km Run) Southwell, Nottinghamshire

26/4/2015 Berkhamsted Triathlon (400m swim 20km bike ride, 8km run) Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

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XPG Sportswear £15

F&F £12.00 Pictures by Nike and

19/4/2015 IRONMAN 70.3 New Orleans (1.9km Swim, 90km Bike Ride, 21km Run) New Orleans ironman-70.3/new-orleans.aspx#axzz3UkeZDlti

26/4/2015 Memorial Hermann IRONMAN 70.3 Texas Galveston (1.9km Swim, 90km Bike Ride, 21km Run) Galveston, Texas ironman-70.3/ Picture by Philip Wong (Flickr)

19/4/2015 Galashields Triathlon, Sprint Triathlon (750m Swim, 19.14 km Bike Ride, 4.66km run) Galashields, Selkirkshire



Juicy Couture £60

M&S £25 5 I Women’sTri I April 2015

Adidas £9.99

Grub for gold

How to fuel yourself pre and post competition with advice from the professionals By Georgina Kiely HAMSTRING STRETCH, TOE TOUCH AND LUNGE



atthew Lawson, the head nutritionist for the Notts County football club recommends women triathletes keep an eye on their BMI first and foremost. “The average woman needs 2000 calories a day, a sports woman needs a hell of a lot more.” “Some sportswomen are at risk of developing ‘female athlete triad syndrome’, meaning that their sport has an emphasis on leaness and they don’t eat enough to maintain their BMI.” Carbs are the preferred energy source for their slow release of energy and or course protein is key to muscle recovery. “You’re essentially damaging your body each time you exercise and the body needs energy to repair it while you rest.” Matt also emphasises the important of balance. “You need plenty of veggies and also fats. Fats have been given a bad name, but the good fats are necessary for compeition prep. These are called the HDL fats and you can get them from oily fish, olives nuts and seeds.” Matt also recommends periodised nutrition planning, timing is everything! “Carb load 3-4 hours before a session, that way you’ll get the best from the energy capacity.”

Basics, warm ups and tips for the newbies



nna Wordsworth is an L2 Triathlon coach at the University of Warwick. “If you like Nutella, by all means have some, it won’t make a difference to tomorrow’s session.” Anna doesn’t restrict her diet too much, she’d rather try to eat sensibly all year round. “Like most people in training for serious competitions, you don’t really have periods when you’re not training, so I don’t have a specific training diet. “ I have a mostly veggie diet, it’s fairly low protein.” And neither does Anna load up on carbs before training sessions.


“Fats have been given a bad name but there are good fats”

“ Eating lots of carbs isn’t the be all and end all. I eat a lot of low GI foods like brown rice, quinoa, wholeweat pasta and lots of veggies. I like a big bowl of pasta as much as the next person!”. “It’s also important to refuel and recover after a heavy training period. “If you’ve been pushing hard I find it difficult to eat anything at all, you have to make yourself eat something so your muscles can heal.”

MATT’S TIPS 1) Eat your big meal two-three hours before you compete. Four hours and you’ll be hungry. Less than two and you won’t have digested all of the nutrients. 2) During competitions give yourself a boost with an isotonic drink, a bannana or an energy gel. You won’t get the same crash as someone not burning energy. 3) One hour after training is your optimum recovery window, pack in the protein with tuna pasta, chicken and noodles or white fish and rice.

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Woman’s Tri brings you expert advice on stretches, cool downs and mental exercises for success By Charlotte Manning


raining for a triathlon can seem daunting, but it’s a lot easier than you may think. I spoke to some professionals to find out where to start. Jason Doggett, 46, is a fitness coach and co-founder of Muddy Plimsolls, a London based personal training agency. Jason says, “Endurance sports like triathlons are susceptible to overuse injuries.”


Jason recommends dynamic stretching before you exercise, this enocurages blood flow and with it oxygen to areas your about to use. “This means a gentle, progressive, active movement that doesn’t go beyond the usual range. It should be similar to the exercise you’re about to do.” You want to increase the range of motion toward your maximum level. The walking lunge and the carioca, which is a type of quick step exercise, are two examples of dynamic stretches that are popular among triathletes and runners.” “They should be performed with easy, gentle movements such as assisted deep squats, shoulder

presses and circles, toe touches and light jogging or skipping.” Avoid over training and strengthen the body with a cross-training programme. You should also stretch muscles so they function at an optimal effect.”


To avoid common injuries like runner’s knee, Jason recommends stretching the muscles that run below and above the joints, like the quads hamstrings and calves. “Foam-roll those muscles to strengthen them post work out.” Jason says your feet shouldn’t be rolling in when running. This is the inward movement your foot makes to balance your weight. You can purchase running shoes specially designed to combat rolling in.


Julie Whaley, 43, is a British Triathlon Federation Level Two Coach at Absolute Triathlon club. She emphasises working in the right zone which means that your heart rate will fall within a certain percentage. At 80% it may be just comfortable enough to hold a conversation which is zone two.

“As you heal, run through the triathlon mentally”

“If it’s a zone two bike ride then spin the legs easy on the pedals for the first ten minutes, gradually raising the heart rate.” Each warm-up will be individual as some people take longer to raise their heart rate to the specific zone than others.” Julie suggests foam rolling your core muscles and glutes — a set of three muscles that form your bum She stresses the importance of not over training,. “Drills specific to your exercise will enhance your technique, and don’t neglect your strength and conditioning routine.”



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Adam Schnurr, 26, is a personal trainer and running enthusiast. He says warming down is crucial in avoiding injuries and to have a healthy training routine. “Go through movements similar to the exercise but more relaxed. If you were running, start walking briskly and if you were swimming, then roll your shoulders and stretch your back.” Adam recommends a mental exercises you can do in your down time to help focus your mind. “While you let your body heal, run through the competition in your mind and consider the variety of problems you might encounter, and how you’d react to them.”

The triumphant trio Sophia Saller, Rachel Joyce and Sophie Coldwell all have one thing in common. Whether it was breast stroke or back stroke their journey into the triathlete world all started with their love for being under water

Sophia Saller Alanya ITU World Cup, Allen Krughoff, Sophie Coldwell ITU 2014

By Davina Merchant

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April 15 I Women’s Tri I 9

Sophia Saller

Rachel Joyce Rachel Joyce, 36, quit a law career to focus on triathlons. In 2013, she took on the Ironman challenge

“F Sophia Saller, 21, excels in both athletics and academia. Not only does she study mathematics at Oxford University, she is the amateur world triathlon champion




Fun Facts Favourite protein drink brand? Homemade by my mum Best way to unwind ? Go for a meal with family or friends Favourite pre-race snack? Peanut butter bagel!

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Favourite thing to do in spare time? Spend time with family and friends Favourite place to compete? Blenheim Palace Triathlon stunning scene

Rachel joyce, ITU 2013

port has had a place in my life from a young age, after swimming competively for several years, I became transfixed with the idea of competing in more than one event. Highly inspired by my mother, who was a crosscountry sking Olympian and long-distance runner, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and gain experience in a few junior triathlon races. I competed in Germany for a while before moving to England six years ago. My career kicked off when I won the under-23s championship last year and I woke up the following morning to messages of congratulations, that’s when it sunk in. It made me realise this was not just any old race -it was actually quite a big one. A lot of people come up to me and say ‘oh wow you are studying maths,’ but maths is a degree where a lot of it happens in the head rather than sitting and doing it. For me, that is easier. It allows me to switch off from sport and concentrate on something else, especially after a bad race. I’m not a big fan of going out all the time so, for me, my university experience is what I make it. I spend a lot of time baking. My favourite thing to make is banana bread, merely because I love eating it. I’m lucky enough to really do something that I enjoy, so nothing is really a sacrifice. I have always wanted to travel, so competing in places like Canada in 2014 is a tick off my bucket list. Racing with Andrea Hewitt made me realise that although the sport itself is competive, it is important to do it because you enjoy it. I’m such a free spirit so I cannot really say that I have a long-term plan. Hopefully I will be ready next year for the 2020 Olympic trials. That would be another thing ticked off my bucket list.

unnily enough, I never knew what I wanted to do. I had things that I was good at but there was nothing I could see myself doing for more than a few years. Swimming was like a favourite coat for me. I loved it for a while, forgot about it, then picked it up again further down the line. When I studied law and politics at the University of Birmingham, swimming became an escape from essay writing as well as a great way to socialise. Having been lucky enough to get a swimming training contact, I moved to London. I was happy there but something was missing. Completing my first London Marathon made me realise I was great at endurance events. I figured I’d be good at triathlons too so I bought my first bike and signed myself up to a few events. By 2005, I was competing in the world half Ironman championship. An attorney by day and triathlete at night, I would quickly switch my worksuit for spandex. Completely surprised by how well this was all going, I walked into my boss’ office and said, ‘I want to be a professional triathlete.’ Politely, he suggested I cut my hours down and focus on training for a while. At this point it seemed as though my passion was burning out. I was approaching 30 and needed some form of direction. The next time I walked into his office, I said, ‘I want to be a professional triathlete for real this time,’ and that was that. I moved to Colorado primarily because a lot of professionals train there. Originally, I was planning on going by myself but I met my boyfriend in 2011 at the Ironman World Championships and, crazily enough, he came with me! My biggest achievement so far is winning the ITU long distance trail in 2011. The best part about it was that I was representing Great Britain. My ultimate goal is to win Kona [the most prestigious Ironman in the world] so that made me feel like it was possible. A typical week for me involves training for 25-30 hours a week but it’s is a lot harder when you are injured or have a bad race, which leaves me in a funk for a few days, but eventually I’ll snap out of it. Although training hard is important, you need to listen to your body. Next week I’ll be racing in Brazil for a half Ironman then I’ll be doing another half Ironman in Utah. I’m fortunate to be with someone that understands what I do and who I am. I can be a lot to handle at times but he deals with it really well and understands that there will be weeks where all I do is train, eat and sleep. At the moment I’m really enjoy racing but I’m 36 now, so time is ticking. I really want to start a family with Brett within the next 5 years. It would be very hard to train for an Ironman and be a hands-on mum but I’m up for the challenge.

Fun Facts Favourite Food? Chocolate Favourite training venue? Boulder, Colorado Favourite protein drink brand? PowerBar

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Last thing to eat before a race? Porridge Favourite thing to do in spare time? Drink coffee or bake Best way to unwind after a race? Burger and a beer

Sophie Coldwell Most students complain about having 9am starts, triathlete and bronze medallist but Sophie Coldwell, 20, is up at 6am every day for her swim


Sophie Coldwell 2014

started competing in triathlons when I was eight and I think it’s the only thing I have stuck to consistently. It was my mum who signed me up and she’s been a great support ever since. I think a lot of people think professional athletes should be serious all the time –constantly training hard - but that is not the case. I have days when I don’t want to go to the gym and want to binge eat - especially when I’m on my period. A few years back, I was on the same team as Rebecca Adlington. It was the first time I had met her properly; even though we were both members of the Nottingham Lender Swimming Club, our paths had never really crossed. We were coming back from an event and, as you do after a long night, we stopped in McDonalds. Completely gutted that it was shut, Rebecca got out and was banging on the door. ‘Can you imagine a triple Olympic Champion banging on the door for food? ‘ I train for about 22 hours a week, so home-studying from Loughborough university is the best way of learning for me. As all the lecture slides are online, it ensures that there is no impact on training. “I can’t sit here and tell you that I perfectly manage my studies and sport, but as a student triathlete exams have to be taken, even if it is in a different country with a much better view. One of the best things about competing is the travel. I’m quite jealous right now as my boyfriend is competing in Egypt –he’s a triathlete too. I’m naturally quite competitive, especially within the sport, I want to be the best and I want to be the fastest. Last year we both raced in Mexico and he beat me distance-wise. ‘I put it down to him being more experienced than me,– Don’t tell him that though.’ My environment never makes me feel like I am missing out on the university experience, although I study human biology, I live in a house with people who all do sport. Two triathletes, three

BLANK PAGE FOR ADVERT badminton players and a runner. We have way more nights in than nights out. ‘I went out on New Years Day and I still feel as though i’m recovering.’ When I was younger, I used to look up to Kelly Homes because of everything she has overcome, such as her battle with depression. Now I am my own inspiration. My journey is unique to me. Although I’m nowhere near the level of Helen Jenkins, being able to see my own progress is rewarding in itself. This year is exciting for me because not only am I preparing for the World Triathlon Series in September, it will also be my first year competing as a senior. “

Fun Facts Favourite food? Roast Dinner Favourite training venue? Has to be Loughborough Favourite protein drink? Max Fuel

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Best way to unwind? Lazy evening with chocolate and a film Last thing to eat before a race? A banana

Working it out From cycling in the kitchen, training with your kids and filling yourself with cake, four amateur triathletes share their tips for fitting effective training into everyday life By Joe Christmas Be positive and treat yourself Whether it’s climbing out of bed a bit earlier than usual or turning down that extra glass of wine the night before a training session, every triathlete has to make sacrifices in order to reach their targets. So it’s important, says Jane Scott, a 41-year-old tax consultant and mum of three boys, to “keep a positive mental attitude.” Otherwise, dwelling on what you’ve cut out can start to hold you back. “It’s about looking on the brightside,” says Jane. “If you have to get up early to train, think of it as stealing more ‘me time.’ Instead of thinking, ‘ugh, I’ve got to get up at 6am,’ you can think, ‘great, now I’ve got a couple of hours to myself while no one else is up.’” It’s also important to treat yourself, especially when practice gets more intense. Jane is currently in training for two sprint triathlons in June and August and one Ironman [Barcelona, October 4] and after a tough session, she likes nothing more than eating “plenty” of cake. “It’s all about the cake!” she says. “With the amount of calories you’re burning off in training, you can sort of justify eating more cake -whatever floats your boat- than the average person although probably not as much as I eat!”

Open up when the going gets rough Having completed her first sprint triathlon just under a year ago, 19-year-old chemistry student, Hope Hasnip, is a relative newcomer to the sport. On May 31, she’s set to compete in her first Ironman event

cycles and we do circuits together too.” Plus, she says, “if you know you’ve got to meet someone for a run at half five in the morning and it’s cold and wet and you just want to sleep, you don’t want to keep them waiting so it makes you get out of bed!”

Be flexible

Hope Hasnip fter completing her first tri

and though she enjoys training, she finds the thought of the task at hand can often make her panic. “I do get really nervous,” she laughs. “I lay in bed sometimes and I think, ‘oh my God... how am I gonna’ do it?’” The best way to combat those nerves, she says, is to talk to people. “Sometimes, all you need is someone to tell you that you can do it and then you’re fine and you can get back to training. Like last week, I was having a wobble in the gym but my training partner gave me a pep talk and pretty soon I felt a lot better. A lot of it is confidence.” Having a training partner is something Hope finds especially helpful. “It’s good to have someone to keep you going. My [training] partner’s already done a few Ironman events so I text him all the time asking for tips and bouncing things off him. We run together, we go on long

Lucy Saxelby, 38, is a self-employed horsebreeder and full-time mum to five children, aged five to 14. Last year, after spending four years out of action with a slipped disc in her back, she returned to action and finished 16 triathlons. She’s now preparing for her first big race of 2015 [Ironman Madrid, April 25] and is currently putting in 15 hours of training per week. People often ask her how she fits everything in and Lucy says it’s less about getting up early or sticking to a strict regime and more about being adaptable. “You have to be flexible,” she says. “If you’ve planned to go on a two or three hour bike ride and the weather’s really crap, don’t let it ruin your day. Go to the gym, or better yet, get on your turbo [trainer].” A turbo is a piece of static equipment which allows you to cycle in your own home. They usually retail at around £80 - £100 and Lucy has hers in her kitchen, mainly so she can keep an eye on the kids! An added problem with having a rigid exercise regime, Lucy says, is that you can end up putting too much pressure on yourself to stick to it and that can lead to stress. “Triathlons are supposed to be fun,” she says. “If training starts to become a drag, then you have to ask yourself why you’re doing it. At that point, you should take a step back and have a breather.”

“Treat yourself - it’s all about the cake!” Jane Scott 14 I Women’s Tri I April 15

Clockwise: Vicky with son, Joshua and partner, Paul after a triathlon in Mallorca; Jane Scott in competition; Underwear-clad Lucy Saxelby and friends at the finishing line

Include the family

“As a mum, you ask yourself, ‘Should I be doing this?”

When 39-year-old Vicky Clarke first got into triathlons three years ago, a guilty feeling that she should have been spending more time with her son, Joshua, would often play on her mind. “When you’re a mum and you’ve got a lot to get on with, you do ask yourself, ‘should I be doing this?’” she admits. Things were especially difficult as Vicky was a single mum and Joshua was only four. “I had got divorced and was on my own. I’d try to cram all my training into the mornings so it didn’t disrupt him too much.” But now that Joshua is older, Vicky has come to see her training as part of setting a good example and goes out of her way to include him in training sessions. “If I have to go for a run in the morning,

he’ll come with me on his bike before school and on the weekends, we’ll go and run in the park with the dog,” she says. “It’s fun, it’s what we do and he enjoys it. Sometimes he’s even the one dragging me out. We ended up changing our plans last week because he fancied a bike ride!” Things are also slightly easier now Vicky has settled down with a man she met at her local tri club. “Paul and I can tag team now,” she says. “We take it in turns to train and look after Josuha. It works for all of us.” Vicky is in training for a middle distance triathlon in Rimini, Italy [May 24], and is looking forward to seeing Joshua at the finish line. “When you cross the finish line and he says, ‘You’re brilliant, Mummy’, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Vicky Clarke

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Joshua Clarke, 7, takes mum Vicky for a run


The problem with periods

The first-time bike buyer’s guide Your essential step-by-step guide to buying an entry-

Leaking, aching or coming on at the starting line,

level triathlon bike, with advice from the experts

female triathletes face a minefield of trouble

By Michael Pettifer

when it comes to dealing with periods.

By Hannah Rought

Tampons or cups?

“70mls of blood is lost during a period”

A diet rich in iron

The average menstrual blood loss is around 70ml but this figure can fluctuate between some women. “Replacing iron stores lost during menstruation is an important part of the diet,” says Dr Coats. “I would recommend supplementing your diet with iron, particularly if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.” Foods such as red meat and spinach are rich iron sources. Katie Ashcroft, 20, is an endurance runner from Warrington. Anemia, an iron deficiency, was a common problem in her team, she says. “I was getting really over-tired so I went to the doctors to get my iron levels checked out on my coach’s advice. Eating more spinach and dark chocolate alongside taking an iron supplement tablet sorted me out and my energy levels are back to normal.”

to change during transition or carry extra stuff with you, especially when you don’t know how heavy you’re going to be.”

The Pill

“I came on my period when I wasn’t expecting to five minutes before a national race, and didn’t have time to sort myself out. I was in constant fear the whole way round,” says Katie Ashcroft. There is concern that due to the two components of the pill – estrogen and progestin – it may have an impact on reactive strength, anaerobic power, and overall athletic performance. However this isn’t necessarily the case as oral contraceptives may bring better control to a cycle and improve performance. “Being on the pill regulates my periods,” says Jess, “ and that helps me plan ahead.” Now that Katie uses the pill, she’s found that her periods have been lighter and therefore less disruptive to her training. “It helps with stomach cramps too,” she adds. Your body shouldn’t be holding you back. Period.

Dr. Coats’ Top Tips for triathletes • • • • •

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Supplement your diet with iron if your periods are heavy Using an oral contraceptive will not affect performance Consider other methods of contraception like the coil or implant Competing in the latter phase of your cycle may have slight advantages See a doctor if you suffer with premenstrual symptoms or cramps

Photo Credit: Jared Yeh (Flickr);

Lisa Cumming, 28, from Bolton, has lost count of the number of triathlons she has taken part in. She uses a combination of tampons and pads. “I use both when I feel it’s heavy,” she says, “but it does make me feel a little more conscious when I’m wearing Lycra – it worries me!” Obviously, changing a tampon with the questionable toilet facilities found at some events is certainly not what you want to be doing. As a result, many women are opting to use reusable menstrual silicone cups. These are inserted into the vagina and hold three times more fluid. Jo Lacey, who has competed in three triathlons, turned to the cup after years of tampons letting her down. “When I’m racing, my period should be the last thing on my mind,” she said, “and the cup means that I can swim confidently without making a pink puddle.” Jess Griffiths, the women’s captain of the University of Nottingham triathlon club, 22, is also a convert. “It’s so much easier because you don’t have

Photo Credit: Sébastien Barré (Flickr); C. Serpents (Flickr)

“I’d get out of the swimming pool and the tampon would be full, it would immediately start dripping down my leg into a pink, watery puddle,” recalls Jo Lacey, 41. “I really hated it.” Jo’s teenage nightmare is a monthly horror that many women will sympathise with. When you’re training or competing, periods are bloody annoying but the good news is that they don’t have to be. “Female athletic performance can be compromised by premenstrual symptoms and painful periods,” says Dr. Edward Coats, a retired GB Decathlete and specialist in women’s fertility and athletic performance. “You should carefully plan before you reach the starting line, you can’t fight your physiology.” Here are three things you might want to consider:

The first steps into the world of triathlon are daunting. In terms of time, money and sheer effort, committing to a triathlon may be one of the biggest lifestyle decisions you ever make. Perhaps one of the most important considerations as a newcomer to the sport is which bike to choose. Gender-specific triathlon bikes have evolved rapidly over the last few years and for women, it’s no longer just about a splash of pink on the frame. Many of the bigger brands

have focussed on exactly what female triathletes need in terms of comfort and performance. This female-centric focus has led to a large number of distinct features: smaller components, higher gear ratios, specific geometry, slimmer bars and ladies’ saddles have all changed the riding experience for women. But with all these elements to consider, how do you go about shopping for an entry-level bike that is quick, comfortable, and affordable?


Roxie Talbot is a 23-year-old full-time parent, living in Newark, Nottinghamshire. She got involved in triathlons two years ago after the birth of her son. Following a mix of good and bad experiences, she’s well-placed to share some important advice for those looking to join the world of triathlons. “Try to hunt around and look at some of the lesser-known brands. You can pay a lot for a label but, as a beginner, you really don’t need a big-brand bike.” Comfort is everything. It can be the difference between enjoying your time on the road and hating it.” Roxie also has some warnings about the pitfalls involved in buying an entry-level triathlon bike. “For a long time, the bike was my weakest discipline, mainly because I didn’t take the time to get the right fit when buying my first bike. Get a professional measurement if you’re going to fork out the money for a new bike.” She also advises first-time buyers to think about their future in the sport. “It’s important to be able to grow into a bike. It’s no good buying one if it’s only going to last you a few months,” she says. “My advice would be to try and ask yourself what you want to get out of training or competing in triathlons. If you’re going to take it seriously and enter competitions, then you need a bike which isn’t going to hold you back.”



1. Decide on what you want to get out of triathlons: are you doing it for fun and fitness or will you be entering competitions? 2. Set a budget: think anywhere from £500 to £1000 for a value triathlon bike but try to spend as much as you can afford. It might just save you money on upgrades in the future. 3. Tri bike or road bike? If you’re not planning to compete, consider a road bike with clip-on aero bars. As a beginner, you will be much more comfortable on a road bike. 4. Carbon or alloy frame? Carbon is lighter and stiffer, meaning more power goes to the road. You will pay considerably more for a carbon frame, however. 5. Go into a store: Never buy a bike online just because it’s on sale. 6. Get a professional bike fit: Most shops will have someone able to do this accurately. 7. Test the bike on the road. Most good bike shops will allow you to do this. 8. Hire a bike for the season. This is the perfect way to test a number of brands and find out which suits you before you committ to buy. But, most importantly, don’t get bogged down in technicalities. There is a story of a Hawaain Ironman champion who did 180km on a kids’ bike he bought for £20. Anything on two wheels can get you started.

April 15 I Women’s Tri I 17


Trying to tri By Alyss Bowen

Would the everyone glare at me if I disappeared and caught the next bus? I almost did a runner, but was too worried about the judgmental looks I would receive from the other runners According to the British Triathlon Federation, 15,605 people compete in triathlons every year and only 4,155 of them are female. So, I decided to take one for the team and do a week’s triathlon see whether it’s something I could bring into my own fitness regime. My training began with running, a sport I’m all too familiar with. My school years were spent at competitions and on the athletics field, trying to beat my personal best in 800 metres while still trying to look cool in front of Elliot Leader, the boy I lusted after in the year above. I didn’t look cool, but I did absoutely smash PB, achieving 6 mins 36. At the 2011 Ironman championship in Hawaii, fourth time Ironman world triathlete, Chrissie Wellington, 38, ran the 26.2 mile run in an astonishing two hours, 52 minutes and 41 seconds. My own journey began with a ‘gentle’ 10k run. To others, it was a snail’s pace, no doubt, but to me it was gruelling and every time a bus went past I was tempted to hitch a ride home. But after 45 minutes of huffing and puffing, it was over, phew. I like to think Chrissie would have been proud. Day two - swimming day - was the day after and my poor body still ached. I was a swimmer once too, back in the day, but the last time I remember going to a class was when I couldn’t get The Arctic Monkeys’ When The Sun Goes Down out of my head - 2006. The trainer lured us into a false sense of security with the warm-up. That made me suspicious. I half expected them to throw sea creatures in the pool and get us to shark fight - like bull fighting except there’s no escape and you just die a slow, painful death. OK, I’m exaggerating and there weren’t any sharks in the pool but

It’s all too much at spinning (above). Trying to run like a pro

the coach did up the ante big time. Saying that, I realised I was starting to enjoy it. Perhaps I was cut out for this tri stuff after all. Cycling, the last discipline, is my least favourite sport. When I was 10, my cycling proficiency teacher took my mother aside and quietly told her never to let me ride on the road. Luckily for me, I wasn’t going out on the road but unluckily, it was spinning instead, which I despise. The seat and my bony bum do not get on and when the instructor screams at you to “pedal faster!” it makes me want to punch them. How, when you’re going 100 miles a minute, is it possible to pedal faster? I slacked off and boy, did I get an ear full from my new trainer,. With my training complete, it’s safe to say that right now, I’m not ready to enter any races. The women who compete in triathlons are immensely dedicated - something I’m yet to master. That said, if I had the time the to train, I would definitely continue with my tri-journey. The statisfaction I had after finishing a week of hard core training was exhilarating. For now though, I can only bow down to those triathletes, you’re all a better Ironman (or woman) than me!

‘I half expected them to throw sea creatures into the pool and get us to shark fight

Photo credit: Sophie Turner

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Women's Tri  

Triathlon is increasingly popular with women looking for new ways to boost their training regime. Women's Tri, produced by magazine students...

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