Brownlee Brothers, no fear!

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

So, doing my first triathlon at 58. Firstly I should make it clear that the Brownlee brothers have nothing to fear. It was a very short Triathlon, what they refer to as a “Super Sprint” although there was not much sprinting in my case. However very early one Sunday morning I found myself dressed in a rubber suit stood by a river wondering what on earth I had agreed to. Some hours later I was exhilarated, tired and looking forward to the next one, our bodies endorphins have a lot to answer for! So what did I learn?

End to End testing is vital.

I had done lots of swimming, cycling and running in the build up to the event. I had also done a little bit of thinking, planning and practicing the transitions but I had not done an end to end test. Having decided against the tri-suit option in favour of putting on a “nice dry tee shirt” after the swim, I knew my first transition would be a little slow but I hadn’t accounted for getting a rucked up, wet tee shirt stuck on my back. I lost more places in the race in the transitions than I did on the course! So if you are planning a triathlon - do at least one test run where you do al 3 events even if only for a short period.

Technology is no substitute for practice.

I only own a mountain bike so had done most of my training for the cycle phase on that. For the event I borrowed a friends much lighter road bike. This was great – I was much faster on this bike than on the mountain bike. However the only person who passed me on the cycling section was a lady who was riding what looked like an old hybrid bike; no drop handlebars, heavy and fat saddle. However she went past me with ease, not because the bike was better but because her legs were better. She had obviously practised the cycling more than I had and was able to sustain a much higher wattage output and make that bike fly up the hill.  ~However - don’t let this put you off.  Wherever you race there will be people faster than you, with better kit etc.  I didn’t do the triathlon for anyone other than me and my expectations were low - to finish, to try not to be last, to swim all the way doing front crawl and to do the final run at under 6Km/min.

Cheerleaders & Coaches are really helpful.

I recognise that not everyone needs a personal trainer and for most of my life I have been self-motivated enough to not need one. A combination of an ageing body and being comfortable with my sailing lead me to a position where I was stuck in a rut. When my sailing options disappeared I found it really hard to motivate myself to do something new. Pushing my aching body was proving a challenge so I found Hannah. Anyone would think she had read my book! We sat down and discussed what success looked like before we did any training. She chatted to me to understand my motivations, the things that would help me (short term goals and variety for me) and what are my blockers (too much time on machines in a sweaty gym). After this she gently held me to account each week for what I did between the sessions. That accountability was vital for me in moving to being fit enough to do the triathlon. The skill in personal training seems to be getting that little bit more out of someone than they think they can achieve themselves without tipping them over into failure mode. On the morning it was a very early start. Fortunately I had arranged to meet my sister at the venue. She has done triathlons, knows me well and is a great cheerleader. She was there on time, happy, willing to listen to my nervous jabber and cheer me on around the course.  Yes I could have done it without Claire and Hannah but I am not sure I would have done and the result would not have been anywhere near as good.

It is amazing what you can do.

In April 2019 I was struggling to run all the way on my local Parkrun course. However by September that year, with the right encouragement, a reasonable amount of practice and a good wetsuit I was able to get round a triathlon course, feel good about my performance and be motivated enough to know I will train through the winter to do a longer distance versions once the lockdown challenges are over. In life we sometimes find ourselves pushed out of a rut that has been very comfortable. It is worth getting a little bit of help from someone who knows how to get the best from you. Don’t immediately jump for a new bit of technology to fix your changed circumstances. Understand the new normal a bit, work out the end to end process and then see if some tech might help you. Most importantly keep going; keep practising, keep challenging yourself; keep listening to good supporters because what you are capable is often much more than you can imagine sat sulking on your sofa.

If you want to have a go at a trialthlon I can really recommend the event organisers Nicetri did a brilliant job to make my first triathlon a pleasure. If you live near Coventry and would like a personal trainer contact Hannah at and the team can help you do things way beyond what you imagine possible.

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