Two competitors, 47 year old Triathlon newbie Robert Evans and 67 year old Robert Kidd who is taking part in his 23rd Triathlon talk us through their training and event journey as they prepare for this summer’s Cheshire Triathlon (www.uktriathlon.co.uk/events/cheshire-triathlon/).
The event is held at one of the only outdoor brine pools in the UK in the picturesque market town of Nantwich and attracts thousands of competitors of all abilities from the complete novice to club and pro athlete’s.
Robert Evans from Alsager recently won a lifetime membership with Everybody Sport and Recreation (www.everybody.org.uk) and is competing for the first time this year. Although a keen runner Robert has had to work hard at his swimming and cycling to prepare for the event.
“I have been a runner for a number of years now, competing first in 5K & 10K races to then moving on to half marathons. I have even taken part in a couple of duathlon events, but the thought of a triathlon was to be honest a scary one.”
Not a keen swimmer, a triathlon seemed quite daunting to Rob as he tells us he knew to ever compete in a triathlon he had to invest in some lessons.
“I once thought I was okay at swimming, until I started taking adult swimming lessons. I had fooled myself into thinking it was just the breathing I had to work on and improve before taking on a triathlon challenge. I was wrong. Every stroke whether front crawl or butterfly had a technique that I was soon to master.
He continued, “After taking lessons at Alsager Leisure Centre, every Monday evening I can now say I am confident enough to go it alone, reassured I will be swimming better but also safely.”
Swimming hasn’t been the only obstacle cycling also wasn’t a strong point and Rob admits there have been a few near misses throughout his training.
“I dusted off an old mountain bike and tried to remember the basic safety elements from my childhood of mastering a puncture and connecting a bike chain. It was safe to say I had no idea about gear ratios at the beginning!
“It wasn’t until a few near collisions on winding roads and other bikers whizzing past me at some incredible speed that I realised I had to swap to a newer model of road bike. With skinny slick tyres and new gears to get used to I also had to master the pedal clips, again taking a few attempts whilst stationary not to fall over.”
After a slow start Rob is now biking 52km in a couple of hours every week and changing terrain regularly, as he puts it “I am making reasonable progress every time”.
But there is still work to do. Rob has now booked in to a re-programme at the gym so he can work on his cross training, building up his shoulders for swimming and his core strength, which he says has never been this good since joining a year ago. The fitness instructors have helped him prepare for running races before and he hopes their advice will get him through this next challenge.
Watch Rob being out through his paces during his gym re-programme by instructor Josie Hurst at Alsager Leisure Centre:
He also now needs to prepare for the transitions from each discipline, “I have had some practice going from a bike to running and vice versa however adding swimming into the mix really takes some work. I will be heading to the outdoor pool in Nantwich this month to practice my timing and will be taking on the advice of more seasoned athletes on how to master this transition.”
Starting at a similar age as Robert Evans, Robert Kidd, 67 from Market Drayton is now taking part in his 23rd Cheshire Triathlon and professes his love for the event grows year on year.
“I first gained an interest in triathlons after marshalling at a few events over in Market Drayton. I hadn’t done any exercise since my school years other than the odd swim and walking with my wife. It was a very slow start, first building up my pace with running and then mastering the cycle and swim. I competed in my first race in 1993 and still have the t-shirt!”
He now competes in 6 to 8 events a year including triathlons, 10k running races and cycling trials and admits the Cheshire Triathlon is one of his favourites.
“Once I had competed in my first triathlon I just wanted to do more and stumbled across the Cheshire Triathlon in Nantwich. It was the perfect location and everyone made you feel special just for being there. The outdoor pool is fantastic and my wife and I try to visit the town twice a week now for shopping or to use the leisure centre.”
Robert confesses that in the early years there was no bike shop in his home town so instead he started to put together his own bikes, ‘I used to find and buy the parts and fix them together to build my own road bike. I have now invested in one as I compete in cycle time trials throughout the year; it has become my favourite part of the course.”
When asked what motivates him to keep going every year he reveals the secret is in the enjoyment of the event but also the training and his family life is a huge driving factor.
“Some people tend to let a sport like this take over every aspect of their life and free time, especially in the beginning. It is important to improve every time but to also still enjoy it think quality over quantity for your training and you will want to compete year on year. Make sure it doesn’t feel like a chore but a life choice and do just enough to keep you fit and motivated.
He continued, “I have seen some huge changes in my health and fitness, if I wasn’t competing I wouldn’t be able to play with my three grandchildren the way I do.”
Robert also insists that recovery is important to be a successful triathlete as he trains more in the winter than on the run up to race season.
“I usually do two weeks hard training then on the third week cut back to half the amount for recovery taking at least two days a week off. Then on event day the secret is the warm up and cool down. At least 10-15 minutes warm up, leaving the stretches until after the finish line with a cool down so you are not stopping suddenly. This will help increase recovery of your muscles for the next few days.”
Beginners have often asked for advice or raised their concerns to Robert before the race at Nantwich and one in particular always sticks in his mind.
“A young lady spoke to me very nervously before the start of the race once. It was her first triathlon and asked ‘What if I come last?’ in which I responded, ‘Well someone has to. This time next year people will have forgotten who came last and we all have to begin somewhere so just enjoy it. Think to yourself I have done the training this is my chance to enjoy it wherever I place’.”
Robert Kidd’s top tips for Triathletes:
- Practice Bike to Run Transitions at least twice a week
- Try leaving your cycling shoes clipped into the pedals, I also secure with elastic bands so I can get a quicker transition from the pool.
- Swim in a one-piece Tri suit which will save you time on the transition.
- Put your numbers into polythene bags and attached to a number belt, leave those on the bars of your bike and step through the belt – no clipping or pinning required; it is there ready for you!
- Forget the socks! A few days before the race fill your shoes with talc powder and go for a run and cycle. Take note of any places that rub and the night before the event rub Vaseline into the areas and again add talc to the shoe.
- The week before the event I take the Thursday and Friday off for recovery and only do a light cycle just before the event.
Improve running time
- To improve your running try hard interval training on cross trainers and choosing interval training on a bike at the gym to build your strength.
- Tyre pressures on your bike are important. Invest in a pressure monitor and more sure your tyres are pumped to the right level to avoid any flats on the way around.
Robert Kidd came in position 51 at last year’s North West Triathlon finishing in a time of 01:13:24. He won his age group prize in the M category Veteran 65-69.
The Cheshire Triathlon takes place on Sunday 31st May at Nantwich Outdoor Pool and the Barony Sport Complex. Everybody Sport and Recreation and event organisers UKTriathlon have teamed up to offer Everybody member’s discounted entry for those who are competing as part of the Everybody Challenge, Zero to Hero.
Notes to Editors
Everybody Sport & Recreation – ‘Everybody’ is the new charitable trust established to run leisure services in the Cheshire East area. The trust aims to provide ‘leisure for life’ by changing lives through healthy recreation. The charity operates the 15 leisure facilities in the Cheshire East area as well as leisure development and outreach programmes.
Name – Jade Griffin
E: [email protected]
T: 01270 685945 M: 07773 976 464