The most important part of any sport comes before race day: the early morning training sessions, the hours behind the scenes spent in the gym/on the road and the dedication that each athlete puts in days, weeks and months before the day of the big event. Today I want to tell you about my three favourite training sessions that I do each week with UoN triathlon club. 

1. Wednesday morning early swim, 6.30-8.30am

This is definitely my favourite session of the week, it's often hard to get out of bed for and I set many snooze alarms, starting from 5.15am to make sure I get out of bed and into the pool. But when I get there, even after a hard session, it's the best start to the day I could have.  In this two hour session, we do a range of different things - drills to improve our technique, timed sessions to help us pace and longer distance sessions to build up our stamina and mileage. We regularly swim over 4km in these sessions. I say 'we' as the swimmers are divided into lanes according to their speed and although it's an individual effort, we all help each other with counting lengths and remembering the set.

2. Wednesday afternoon Wattbikes, 3-4pm

Actually, I don't particularly like this session as it always tires me out and leaves me wanting to crawl straight into bed afterwards but I believe it's really beneficial to my training. For those of you who don't know (and don't worry, I didn't know either until a month after using them), a Wattbike is a brand of exercise bike that is very, very clever. The computer can tell you your power output, energy output, speed, pace and pedalling technique. After a test to gauge our individual zones last semester, we  now work in different 'zones' each week, building strength, resistance and pace. We usually listen to upbeat music and sometimes have disco lights on inside the training room.

3. Monday evening swim, 7.30-8.30pm

Although this swim session is only an hour long, it's a good start to the week and allows me to eat two dinners on a Monday (one before training and one after). Like in the Wednesday morning swim, we work on our technique, pace and strength in the water before 50 triathletes fight over the six showers afterwards! Swimming is my strongest discipline of the three, but from the beginning I was determined not to get complacent so attend both swimming sessions each week for personalised sets and advice from the coaches.

The weekly training timetable includes swimming, cycling, running and yoga sessions across all UoN campuses.

The weekly training timetable includes swimming, cycling, running and yoga sessions across all UoN campuses.

If you look at the training timetable, you will see there are over 14 hours of different training sessions each week that the club provides and I am just one of over a hundred members. Each triathlete has their own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes when it comes to the three disciplines but there you have my top three training sessions each week (triathletes like to do things in threes).

Comment below with your favourite training session!

Why Triathlon? Why Now?

Most people think I'm crazy for taking up triathlon in my final year of university. Sometimes I think I'm crazy too as there are simply not enough hours in the week to attend every lecture, training session and eat/sleep well in between. So why did I choose to join UoN Triathlon Club?

Leona's first multisport event was the BUCS Duathlon last November at Castle Combe. Here she is looking serious on the bike at that event.

Leona's first multisport event was the BUCS Duathlon last November at Castle Combe. Here she is looking serious on the bike at that event.

Doing a triathlon has been on my bucket list since secondary school, as one of my PE teachers was a triathlete. He was always fun of beams, wearing sports kit and just so enthusiastic about sports and life, I immediately started looking up to him. After hearing stories of his adventures around the world competing in triathlons, doing one was soon on my bucket list.

Why triathlon?
Besides the inspiration that my teacher was, one major reason for deciding on triathlon was that I'm not a team player. I prefer to compete against my own physical limitations rather than have to work with other people to score goals. I've been members of both swimming and running clubs previously, both allowing me to track my personal times and have targets to beat. Physical challenges excite me too, I learnt that last year when I was challenged to do a 10km cross country race.

Why now?
Shouldn't the question be why not? Admittedly, this year at university, the pressure is on with this year's average contributing to 80% of my degree but why wait until I'm 25, 30, 40 or later? I'm in good shape now and I definitely want to abuse my gym card to the max. Plus, picking up a sport at university is a lot cheaper than other local clubs as there is funding available to subsidise training fees.

I mentioned that doing a triathlon was on my bucket list, well I see bucket lists and to-do lists in very different lights. My bucket list includes big, challenging, expensive and/or difficult to achieve things, whereas the items on my to-do lists are necessary things I simply have to do. They're not always easy, but with preparation, perseverance and commitment they are achievable.

It's safe to say that through the support and training from the UoN Triathlon club, completing my first sprint Triathlon has become achievable. It's no longer the dream I once had as a teenager that may never be completed due to laziness or lack of interest, it's on my to-do list and I will make sure to tick it off alongside all the other things to do this March.