From Couch To Lake

The Editor-in-Chief's triathlon diary


The bike arrives, Team ELLE try Barrecore and we all hit the anxiety wall in the pool.


I had the chance to interview Davina McCall for the PPA conference and couldn't resist asking her for Tri tips follow. Her amazing Sport Relief challenge last year. She tells me the battle is a mental not physical one!


As I write, it’s less than two weeks to our Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim sprint triathlon. Our adventure is coming to its conclusion. So are we ready? Anxiety dreams have kicked in and there has been talk of opting out of the sprint distance and dropping down to the shorter super sprint. We’re officially having a wobble.

But this week our most-used muscle has been our minds. It’s fascinating to see how the seven different characters taking part approach the challenge as the finale looms.

We’ve had dozens of different doubts and the only thing keeping us in this race is the fact we are a team. Our sporting adventure has relied on the support we have given each other. The desk-side chats, the post-workout ‘you can do it’ texts, the joint training sessions and the positive emails bouncing across the office have reinforced our faith in ourselves (and there’s obviously been pizza and wine).

This experience has been fun, with a healthy dose of the fear factor thrown in because of the team effort. We’re not in it to win it, we’re in it to feel healthier, fitter and to have a unique life-affirming experience: all boxes ticked on those fronts so far. And if we can do this it's proof anyone who likes to keep fit, regardless of their ability, can to.

So what have the final two weeks of training been about? For me it’s been swimming – I won’t mention who put their wetsuit on back-to-front this week but I will say we’ve all needed a little help in the pool. Not least because it seems other would-be triathletes seem to consider swimming a contact sport!

The swim is the toughest part of the tri – unless you’re front-crawl perfect, you’re going to need practice, practice, practice. The ducks that settle on Parliament Hill lido are firm friends now, gliding out of my way as I splutter up and down the 60m pool, doing half-breast stroke, half-front crawl, pondering if I should really be wearing my knickers under my tri-suit, under my wetsuit? 


I hit a wall of swim fear this week so two of the team (@Deb_ELLE and @Vicawhite) took me to a new venue, the Olympic pool in Stratford and coaxed me up and down the 50m lanes. They waited patiently as I regained some of lost confidence and before I knew it I’d done 16 lengths in 40 minutes. And the following day @Tim_Weeks taught me the dolphin drill - a breathing technique. Google it!

I’ve also mastered my new Ridley bike from Sportline this week (and Lazer helmet) and squeezed two run-bike-run sessions around Regent’s Park. I am now familiar with the ‘legs of lead’ feeling that kicks in when you hop off the bike and on to your feet.

1. Holiday run! The Rock to Padstow ferry North Cornwall. 2. When the swimming went bad these two took me to The Olympic pool to sort it out! Thanks Debbie Morgan and Vic White.  3. Heartcore gyms takes us to Regent's Park for Wednesday ELLEFit club and tones the parts other exercises don't reach! This is a combo of Pilates and yoga. 4. How brilliant is that line on the Blenheim triathlon info booklet?  I want life to be an 'unstoppable cheer zone'.



I’m new to cross-training but have discovered there are many other disciplines in sport that help with Tri training – we tested Barrecore, which strengthens the parts every Tri team need to reach.

Maria Eleftheriou, Barrecore Lead Instructor & barreNOURISH Practitioner, taught us the benefits of the Barre for aspiring triatheletes:
- It will give a greater range off motion and endurance as it targets the core muscles that are often overlooked in any other strength training. For example, greater hamstring and quad work. This wll result in less impact on the joints.
- Runners often endure shin splints but due to the formula, Barre uses this problem area to become stronger, resulting in longer runs without hitting any stumbling blocks.
- The stretching will make you stronger by allowing more muscle  flexibility and movement.
- A lot of exercises are in a turnout position. Working in turnout will help support your running simply by helping to create strength all the way around, instead of just working in a linear motion. 


5. Is it weird I am looking forward to reading this? Feels like I have joined a cult! 6 & 7. Happy swimming – with surf instructor George Stoy at Dammer Bay, North Cornwall during our half term holiday.


Juggling work and family has meant that I’ve missed several sessions on my training schedule, but that’s OK – I don’t want a record time, I just want to cross that line on Saturday 13 June. So I am taking offers of help wherever they come from!

During the half-term holiday in Cornwall I got some spontaneous help with the swim from George Stoy, a local surf school instructor in the sea at Daymer Bay.

He teaches me the ‘reset’ – the moment you feel you can’t swim on, stop, breathe, wait, then start again. Slow it all down and take in more air is his advice. It’s certainly more pleasant looking at the sandy sea floor than the muddy waters of the lake!

I discover a fellow mum at my son’s school has also entered a triathlon and we start to train together squeezing in speedy 20-minute bike rides and the occasional swim. I would have turned off the alarm one Sunday if I hadn’t set a date with her to swim at 8am.

For me this team spirit has been the best part of this challenge. We are absolute beginners on the triathlon front but every day we’re getting stronger. And as someone once said ‘there’s no I in team’!

On Monday, as we all chatted about our weekend training trips, one of the team paused to wonder what we’d do when it was over. Will we miss it in our lives? Will we do another one? Will we survive the swim in one piece? Will we all finish?

Next week we’ll find out.

Follow the @ELLEFitteam on Saturday 13 June, we'll be live tweeting and Instagramming our progress at The Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon #ELLEFIT!

Thinking of signing up to a triathlon? Visit RGA Active and Swim for Tri for training plans and motivation.

If you're not training for a tri, but still want to keep fit, follow our 30-day challenge.

Mentions this week:

The #ELLEfit Tri team: @ChrissyJSimone, @Deb_ELLE, @vicawhite@nlukaitis, @kirstyldale, @soppylil79

People who've helped: @Nell_McAndrew, Keeley at @SwimForTri@TanyaBurr@Marsha_RGA

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