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Sizing

HUUB Sizing

Need to buy a new wetsuit, swimskin or jammer but not sure about sizing? Our size charts or size calculator can be found on the product page for each item in our range to help you choose the perfect fit.

THE 3 G’S OF BUYING A WETSUIT

1. GET MEASURED

Please don’t guess your size. Your size and weight may have changed, so grab a tape measure and jump on the scales. When calculating your wetsuit size, if your weight falls into two or more sizes always go for the larger size… If in doubt GO UP A SIZE!

2. GET A CALENDAR

Ok, so what do we mean? In all honesty, remember your age. Whether you like it or not, we all change shape and size. Check yourself out in the mirror, understand your body shape and type, chances are it may have changed from when you last bought a wetsuit. It’s also a great idea to ask some else to describe your shape and size, as you may think you’re a skinny racing snake when in actual fact you probably have a little more padding than you thought.

3. GO UP A SIZE

We’ve said it before, but we really want to get this message across - the best bit of advice we can give is to go up a size. There is nothing worse than going through the excitement of your new HUUB wetsuit arriving and then realising you’ve been a little ambitious and gone for a size you would like to be, rather than your actual size.

OH, AND IF IN DOUBT... GO UP A SIZE?

For us the weight is the most important factor when getting the suit to fit right, although the height is significant, it is secondary to the weight. If you are at the top end of a weight range or fall into two sizes it is best to go for the bigger size or up to the next size. Height does need to be considered, but it's not paramount to a suit fitting. If you are at the bottom end of a height range or just outside, for example, the legs might come up a little long, but these can be trimmed down (please stick within the limits of the taped inside seam). The arms will fit securely where ever they come up on the forearm. For a lot of athletes, it is personal preference as to where they like the legs and arms fitted.

BREAKAWAY ZIP

The unique design of HUUB's triathlon wetsuits allows the quickest exit from the wetsuit in transition, due to the innovative Breakaway Zipper design, watch this video to find out how the Breakaway Zipper works.

HOW TO PUT ON A WETSUIT

In this video, HUUB's Dean Jackson and triathlete Ben Dijkstra show you top tips on how to get a close fitting triathlon wetsuit onto your body and how to adjust it for performance.

If you have other specific requirements, please contact us with your height, your weight, and the wetsuit or clothing item you are considering.

F.A.Q.

F.A.Q.

Where is my order?

Orders can currently take up to 6 working days to be delivered. Please hold off contacting us before 7 working days as the chances are your delivery will be imminent. 90% of orders are arriving within this time, but as you know we seem to be in a new world of uncertainty, so due to the current situation the odd order may take a little bit longer. Our staff are working as hard as possible to get your delivery to you, and we thank you for your patience during this time.
Please include your HUUB order number when you do contact us.

Why don't you remove VAT for orders outside the UK?

VAT is only charged on EU orders. We have to charge this by law, and we lose out on all EU orders. The basket on the HUUB website will show £0 Tax for any orders delivered outside the EU, but the total sale price remains the same for orders in the EU or outside the EU.

How do I use the wetsuit sizing chart?

For us the weight is the most important factor when getting the suit to fit right, although the height is significant, it is secondary to the weight. If you are at the top end of a weight range or fall into two sizes it is best to go for the bigger size or up to the next size. Height does need to be considered, but it's not paramount to a suit fitting. If you are at the bottom end of a height range or just outside, for example, the legs might come up a little long, but these can be trimmed down (please stick within the limits of the taped inside seam). The arms will fit securely where ever they come up on the forearm. For a lot of athletes, it is personal preference as to where they like the legs and arms fitted. Here is some really useful advice to help you get the right size.

What should a good fitting wetsuit should look like?

Choose a size below to see how it should look:
Mens Size: S - ST - SMT - M - MT - ML - L - XL - XXL - SS
Womens Size: XS - S - M - ML - L - XL - SS

How should I fit my wetsuit?

We have a fitting video available here. The key points to consider are… Make sure your wetsuit is pulled up into the crotch and over the hips as best as possible - do this by working the material up bit by bit as opposed to all at once. A sign that this has not been fitted correctly is folds of material around the knees. It is essential that the neoprene is flush to the armpits; otherwise, tears can appear as a result of the pressure that goes through this part of the suit when swimming. A wetsuit should sit around the middle of the neck, and if it is too low, then this is a sign that the wetsuit needs pulling up.

My wetsuit feels too small. Will it loosen?

A wetsuit should fit fairly tightly. When trying the wetsuit on for the first time, you might even think it is too small. However, as you wear the wetsuit more, it will almost mould to your body and become more flexible in the areas where you require more flexibility. When swimming, the layer of water that gets trapped between your skin and the wetsuit will also slightly expand the suit as well, again increasing its flexibility. Please consult our fitting video to make sure you have put your wetsuit on correctly, a poorly fitted wetsuit can often feel restrictive.

I have broad shoulders / large chest?

When sizing a wetsuit, we primarily use weight to get the right fit. Neoprene is incredibly flexible, and even with larger than average shoulders or chest, the suit will fit if you have followed the sizing guide. This will stretch with use and become more flexible. To get the suit fitting around the shoulders you must make sure the suit is pulled up high enough into the crotch and over the hips. It is crucial that the neoprene is flush to the armpits; otherwise, tears can appear as a result of the pressure that goes through this part of the suit when swimming.

How do I know if a wetsuit is too big?

A wetsuit should feel like a second skin. If it is very easy to pull the wetsuit away from the skin and there are crinkles or folds in the suit around the legs and hips, this suggests it is either not pulled up enough, or that the suit is too big. Water will collect in certain areas of the suit, such as the lower back. If there is a lot of space here, this again suggests the suit is too big. Water should enter the suit; this is the concept of a 'wet' suit. This layer of water warms up and should generally stay inside the suit. If the water continually flushes through the suit, this again is another sign that the suit is too big and it will slow you down as you swim.

What do I wear under my wetsuit?

If you are racing in a triathlon then we would suggest wearing a tri suit, under certain regulations when racing your chest must be covered at all times, therefore, you will need to wear top and bottoms or a tri suit. If you are just swimming in the suit, then swimwear will be suitable.

The neck on my wetsuit feels like it's choking me?

If you feel any tightness around the front of your neck, then this is relieved by pulling up the wetsuit at the back to square the suit off on your shoulders. By default we automatically pull them up at the front more so we really need to pull up the back of the wetsuit to compensate that. The best way to adjust this on your own is to put your hands either side your head and slide your thumbs into the back of the neck of the wetsuit either side of the zip. Grip the wetsuit with your fingers (not your nails) and pull upwards while wriggling your body. You should feel it move up your back and then that choking feeling should subside.

What is the best way to store my wetsuit?

Before storing the suit...
Ensure the suit is rinsed thoroughly inside and out. Clean water should be enough; no cleaning agents should be needed. Make sure the wetsuit is left to dry completely before storing. It's usually best to dry inside out first, then reverse it. Hanging it in a shower is a good place so it can drip dry.

To store the suit...
You can loosely fold it and put it in the supplied mesh bag on a shelf out of harm's way but don't stack anything on top of it. You can also hang the wetsuit in a wardrobe using a wide shouldered, rounded hanger. Not the thin plastic or wire type. If you have the space to lay it flat under a bed or sofa then that is also an option. We would recommend covering with a sheet or something to protect it from dust.

Can I use my wetsuit in the pool?

Chlorine is not a very friendly chemical to any material or even ourselves! We highly recommend removing the wetsuit right after a pool swim and ensure it is rinsed thoroughly inside & out with warm water and then left to dry naturally.

Can I use Baby Oil and Vaseline on my suit to prevent chaffing?

Petroleum-based products do degrade or eat away the neoprene, however only if left soaked or covered for a long period of time. If you feel you need to use such products to prevent chaffing or aid quick removal, please make sure you use as little as possible and clean/rinse of as quickly as possible. We recommend HUUB LUUB instead. It will protect the skin from friction and moisture, allows a wetsuit or tri suit to slide on and off a lot more easily, and can aid a faster transition - all without damaging the suit.

What Buoyancy options do I have?

Buoyancy is vital to wetsuits, and it isn't always the more buoyant, the better. We offer two buoyancy options for both men and women, two possibilities that compliment different types of swimmers. There is a neutral option of 4:4 for the men and 3:3 for the women. This is designed for swimmers who already have a horizontal and efficient position in the water. The 3:5 for both women and men is designed for swimmers whose legs tend to sink in the water potentially due to a weak kick. The added buoyancy effectively lifts the legs to provide a more streamlined body position and therefore makes you as quick as possible through the water.

My zip is really stiff and doesn't work?

Your wetsuit may feature the Breakaway Zipper. If you are unfamiliar with this, we have a demonstration video here. Zips will always be a little stiff at first and will loosen up after a few uses. When engaging the zip into the housing you must make sure this is fully bedded; otherwise, the zip will not work, or could potentially come apart while the suit is in use. This procedure may take a little bit of force. It is suggested that you engage the zip and pull up about 5cm before getting into the suit as it becomes harder to do when you are in it, and you likely require assistance.

I have tears in my wetsuit, what can be done?

'Nail nicks' is a term commonly used to describe little tears in the neoprene due to the U shape of the tear. Neoprene is durable but can be delicate, and it can tear if you catch it on something, not just with your nails. When putting it on, it's best to turn the wetsuit inside out for as long as possible and pull on the inner material rather than pulling on the neoprene outside. Pressure pulls is another type of damage that can occur when fitting a wetsuit. Neoprene is very flexible but does have a limit, when this is reached further stretching will cause the top layer of neoprene to tear and sometimes significantly. If little tears do develop, then you can easily repair them yourself with a bit of puncture repair glue or Black Witch adhesive. It's best to apply this deep inside the cut by folding back the neoprene to open it up and then using the corner of a business card with a little glue on it for a neater application. Then when you lay the neoprene flat, it seals the tear.

Can I have a totally custom kit for my tri club?

You can create your own Custom Team Kit to match your team, club, or company colour scheme. Instead of restricting your colour choice to a limited predetermined colour pallet, here at HUUB you'll have the choice of over 2500 colour options so that you can create your ideal custom product. Not only that, but you'll have access to the latest HUUB technologies, the latest fabrics, and the highest quality construction with our market-leading designs. To find out more about HUUB Custom contact custom@huubdesign.com via email.

Can I have names and logos printed on tri clothing?

We don't do any printing in house, but we can recommend you contacting a printing company local to us called DS Screen Prints as they know our kit very well.
Here is their website for more details: http://www.dsscreenprints.co.uk/contact/contact.php

Please make sure you are 100% correct with sizing as we can't refund or exchange items that have been printed on. If you haven't worn HUUB before, we would recommend trying for size before printing as sizing can vary between products. If you are happy with their quote (and you know the sizing is 100% correct prior to order as per above) then you can order the items you need online but instead of having them delivered to you, add the printers address in the shipping info with your name in brackets so they know who the print job is for.

Why are my goggles are fogging up?

All of our goggles have an antifog layer, however, this isn't permeant. This layer will wear away if you frequently rub the inside of the lenses. Chlorine or salt water will rapidly wear away this layer as well. To avoid this and prolong the life of the antifog layer, rinse out with cold fresh water after use and leave to dry naturally. Antifog spray can be purchased here once this layer inevitably goes.

I bought my wetsuit from another retailer, can I return it to you under warranty?

Now we're more than happy to help in any way we can, but we need to do it the right way. As you actually bought it from another store the sale of contract & warranty is with them directly and not ourselves. This means you will need to contact them with all your order details & any photos of the issues you are having and then they will deal with this for you. If they need to contact us about it, then they will do this on your behalf.

Can I trade my wetsuit in?

Unfortunately, we don't offer a trade-in service. The only exception is the junior upgrade. Children grow quickly. At HUUB we are aware of this, and we are offering an upgrade to the next size for £54.99. Details can be found online here.

Why don't you remove VAT for orders outside the UK?

VAT is only charged on EU orders. We have to charge this by law, and we lose out on all EU orders. The basket on the HUUB website will show £0 Tax for any orders delivered outside the EU, but the total sale price remains the same for orders in the EU or outside the EU.

Training and Advice
Training and Advice

Training and Advice

At HUUB we live and breathe triathlon, so we thought we'd start a series of training and advice pieces to help beginners to the sport and pro triathletes looking for marginal gains alike. If you would like us to write on a subject you would like to know more about, then use the form on the contact us page to tell us about it.

The most frequently helpful suggestion we make is to check you have fitted your wetsuit correctly. Check out the fitting a wetsuit video; getting a comfortable skin tight fit on your wetsuit takes a little time and a couple of plastic bags to achieve!

Triathlon, Training and Racing

  • How Triathletes Can Maintain Fitness Through The Winter - The season is officially over. The Olympic, ITU World and Kona World Champions have been crowned. You’ve done your post-season review. You’ve had a couple of blow outs that you’ve regretted in the morning where you’ve uttered the immortal line, ‘never again’ which quickly turns out to be your most short lived promise to yourself. Now what?
  • Get Out There This Winter With Some Cross Country Or Fell Running Races! - If pounding the pavements under the cloak of darkness isn't your thing, then mix up your running with something different this winter.
  • The Best Pieces of Cycling Kit For Winter Triathlon Training - Keep yourself layered up and you will keep yourself out there training for longer this winter.
  • How Triathletes Can Get The Most Out Of The Winter Nights - The clocks have gone back and at this time of year it is becoming increasingly hard to get motivated to get out there training. Here we give you motivation!
  • Keeping Your Run Training Fresh In Winter - In the off-season, it is important to keep your levels of fitness high with a good winter training programme. Put simply, variety is your friend.
  • Triathlon Training: Moving from Sprint to Olympic Distance - You’ve entered the world of triathlon doing your first or a series of sprint distance races and want to go longer.
  • Stepping Up From Standard To Middle Distance Triathlon - Training for a middle distance triathlon race can seem intimidating, but in fact, ‘stepping up’ is very achievable.
  • The Best Way To Improve Swim Times. What Are The Best Sets? - Good swim technique is vital to effective swimming. However once you’re working along the right lines, from a technique perspective, conditioning is essential.
  • Preparation Is Everything For A Smooth Transition On Race Day - Don't waste all that hard work improving your swim, bike and run times by fluffing up your transition.
  • Triathlon Checklist - What do I need for a Triathlon race event in the UK?

Open Water Swimming

  • Pool Training For Open Water Swimming - Now we are in the off season for open water triathlons, you will reap dividends practising some skills in the pool. These are not eyeball out intensive sessions, but ones to give you some of the skills you will need to become second nature. Practising in training sessions will make these skills instinctive to you on race day in the heat (or actually more like cold) of the moment.
  • Group Swim Pool Training For Better Open Water Swimming - We hope you have been practising our technique tips for getting open water swimming training right in the pool. Let’s get you mentally and physically ready to take to the start line with some group training techniques.
  • Open Water Swimming In The Sea - Swimming in the sea is unlike other forms of open water swimming, but you will reconnect with the child that you once were as you dive through the waves. Try it and you will find – actually - that you love it!
  • Transitioning from Pool Swimming to Open Water - If you have been pool swimming and fancy the challenge of taking to the great outdoors, let’s help get you into open water for triathlons, for open water swim racing or just for fun.
  • Learning How to Sight When Open Water Swimming - Going in a straight line might seem a simple goal when open water swimming, but it can be trickier than it might first seem. Read this article on tips on learning how to sight in open water.
  • Open Water Swim Racing Tips - Some quick fire tips to help you gain time on swim race day.

Seeking New Challenges

  • Doing your first SwimRun: Things You Should Know - SwimRun races. What could be simpler? You swim then run, then swim, then run, then swim, then… well you get the picture. What started as a mad idea in Scandinavia, racing across an archipelago, has now started taking off over here. So let’s help you get race ready, but from your side of the bargain, we forewarn you that you will need to do some work.
  • Training for SwimRun - We won't lie to you. SwimRun is fun but the courses are long and so it takes commitment. Find out what you are letting yourself in for.
  • Tips for training for SwimRun with a partner - If you have spent all your racing career as a triathlete, getting used to running with a partner will take some adjusting.
  • Getting into Duathlon - Duathlons, per the oft quoted Marmite analogy, are hated by some and loved by others. Once seen as winter racing for triathletes or a poor swimmer’s version of a triathlon. But not anymore!
  • New Season, New Promises To Yourself (and friends & family) - Don't be this person!
Fitting your wetsuit

Fitting your wetsuit

It is vitally important to get a close fitting wetsuit. Once you have an optimally fitted wetsuit on it feels like a second skin which is what makes it so effective when you are in the water. But with a garment that fits so tightly, the challenge is in how to get it on without damaging the suit or chafing or trapping your skin. Adjusting the suit to fit your body comfortably so that it doesn't cause discomfort whilst you are swimming also needs a little practice.

In this video, HUUB's Dean Jackson and triathlete Ben Dijkstra show you top tips on how to get a close fitting triathlon wetsuit onto your body and how to adjust it for performance.

How triathletes can maintain fitness through the winter
How triathletes can maintain fitness through the winter

How triathletes can maintain fitness through the winter

The season is officially over. The Olympic, ITU World and Kona World Champions have been crowned. You’ve done your post-season review. You’ve had a couple of blow outs that you’ve regretted in the morning where you’ve uttered the immortal line, ‘never again’ which quickly turns out to be your most short lived promise to yourself. Now what?

Embrace the off-season. It is not the confusing; direction-less world it’s sometimes thought to be. In fact, we love it! Use it as an opportunity to mix it up and keep it interesting. If you just keep slogging away doing the same things, you’ll lose interest and be unable to ramp up the intensity when it matters next season.

Diversify your biking activities to keep motivation levels high

There are loads of different activities you can do that still massively support your triathlon goals and objectives.

On the diverse side but very sport specific you have cross country, cyclo-cross and mountain biking which can make a great alternative, particularly on an already soggy day. The fresh activity, likely done in a group will really help to motivate you to get out there on the more ‘challenging’ weather days!

Get into the gym to build strength and work on your technique

This time of year is also a great time of year to get in the gym and build up your strength. Doing this now allows you to switch to a more maintenance based program come the season so that the strength work doesn’t negatively impact your more specific work.

Get technical. On your season review, ‘better technique’ undoubtedly came up. It does for everyone. We know professional swimmers for example that have worked for six months on the catch phase of their stroke alone. Now is the time to get technically better.

In the case of swimming and running your best bet is to enlist the help of a coach or a club, as this will remove the guesswork on what your areas of improvement should be. There’s loads of good help out there so do some research.

On the cycling front, in terms of handling, this is often best learnt by experience which is where cyclo-cross or mountain biking come in and serve a triple purpose of conditioning, improving handling and being fun!

Take time off for post-season recovery but don’t leave it too long

Taking time off is really important. However, once you’ve had a couple of weeks off, start looking at routine. It doesn’t have to be intense or include loads of volume but if you lose your routine completely often it is hard to re-establish. A good way to do this is to have a program either self-written which makes you think about it or from a coach to provide you with experienced guidance over the winter months.

So get out there, try something new or different, enjoy getting technically better and get strong in the gym.

Related articles

  • The Best Way To Improve Swim Times. What Are The Best Sets?
  • How Do I Get Into Duathlon?
  • Stepping Up From Standard to Middle Distance Triathlon
  • Making The Transition From Pool To Open Water

See more training and advice articles here.

Get out there this winter… with some cross country or fell races!
Get out there this winter… with some cross country or fell races!

Get out there this winter… with some cross country or fell races!

Tis the season to, well, run some cross country or fell races obviously. Not to be confused with a Santa Fun Run, but you should be able to spot the difference fairly quickly.

Fell runners have craggy faces, torn clothing of a certain era, and studded fell shoes which never get washed from one race to the next. Cross country runners are usually a bit younger, with barely any clothing on and vicious spikes on their feet. If the runners are jolly faced, wearing red trousers and wellington boots it's probably the Santa Dash.

HUUBsters Ben Dijkstra and Alex Yee are awesome national cross country runners. Alistair and Jonny Brownlee were top of their cross country racing game too and still win fell races. So don’t shun getting a bit muddy over winter, and get stuck in there!

Keep on running, whatever the flavour of run you take on

Keeping momentum going during winter can be hard going but it’s vital to keep your fitness levels maintained, lest you feel the burn when the season is back in the spring. Pounding the streets at night can feel a little soulless, and so why not mix it up a bit with different kinds of running?

Cross country races and fell racing are similar - but different in some key ways - and we implore you go and enjoy them over the winter. Fell racing is possible all year round, here in HUUB’s native Derbyshire there are weekday evening fell races all through the summer, and a full calendar for the weekends.

If you are considering getting into SwimRun, you’ll find running off-road good practice too. And if you fancy adding in some off road triathlons to your race calendar in 2017 it is good to test yourself with some winter off road running too.

Fell running is great for balance and ankle conditioning

Let's start with the less daunting fell racing, avoiding the topic of cross country for the minute, just like we all tried to avoid cross country in our school days.

Generally fell racing is hilly, muddy, rocky, woody, boggy and sandy. These are some of the words used to describe, what is usually, a one lap race. Sometimes you get a little bit of each of the described in one race alone. You will usually come home from a fell race dirty. However, we don’t want to put you off and we want you to go and enjoy them.

The format of fell racing is fairly straightforward where how much running up and down hills is the chief component. Fell races have different ascent categories with Category A averaging 50 metres climb per kilometre, no more than 20% on road running and at least 1.5 kilometres in length for instance. There are also different length categories with Category L, for instance being a 20+ kilometre distance.

Some races will send you straight up to the top of a cairn or trig point and back down again. Other races will have you running down and then up a dale repeatedly with lots of ascent and descents.

Though it may seem hard to believe, running up is considerably easier than running down. Running or speed walking up is very simple; it’s hard work, but nevertheless it is simple. Running down is a whole different experience and requires you to let go, dance on the ground, bounce off the rocks, lean forwards and just fly.

Learning how to run down hilly terrain at speed will take you to the edge of terror. Once you have learned to do it well it will split you from the rest of the pack, and you will leave an otherwise good runner miles behind.

Maddeningly the wizened old boy in his torn 1970s thermal top who looks like he needs a pair of carpet slippers will be the fastest descender in the field, because he has been doing it for years.

Fell running kit & rules

You will need a pair of studded fell shoes which fit well and don't rub your heels when soaked through.

At risk of making yourself looking like an over-kitted newbie, you will definitely NOT need:

  • Calf guards
  • A GPS
  • A heart rate monitor
  • A T-shirt from a big race
  • Sunglasses
  • Compression tights, before during or after.

A number belt is actually a good idea if you are unsure what your top layer is going to be.

If the race is run under FRA (Fell Runners Association) rules, do read the rules about what you need to carry, it's for your safety and may save your life. Many races are out in the open country in remote upland areas. The Original Mountain Marathon hit the mainstream news in 2008 when thousands of runners were stranded by flooding just after setting off into the Lakeland hills. Runners needed their safety kit that night, so don’t scrimp.

We suggest you carry your kit in a bumbag or running bag. In it, you may need to carry anything ranging from a map, compass and whistle to full body cover. If the full body cover asks for taped seams and fixed hood, take them, or run the risk of not being allowed to start.

Whatever you do don't jettison anything after the kit check, you will be banned from races, and then named and shamed on the FRA site. In the meantime learn to use the compass, it's not rocket science, and maybe using a club session on a winter evening would be the perfect place to master it together.

Rekindle a love for cross country

Cross country racing is not at all like the cross country we had to endure school, where most pupils usually end up hiding behind a tree. This format of racing is usually fast and on a marked out course and will probably be run in laps.

There are local leagues all over the country, usually with the first, say, 8 men and 5 ladies in a club as counters. But, everyone in the club goes and enjoys the race whether they count or not.

County and regional races are run in age groups. For the youngsters in two year bands and adults in ten-year bands, and then there is a category for vets. The range of ability is broad, and you will often see whole families racing through the day’s events. You may need an English Athletics number to race, if you are a club member check if you have one.

Cross country running kit & rules

Spikes are the footwear of choice at cross country races, though a pair of studded shoes will get you round the course. A pair of racing flats will get you nowhere however, so clad your feet appropriately!

Shorts, vests, crop tops, gloves are about the sum of the kit you will see on the start line. Make sure to avoid the schoolboy error of wearing warm thick socks. They will get soaked at the first river crossing and make for an uncomfortable race.

The course you follow will be a mix of grassland, woodland, a river to run through, and it’ll be vaguely hilly. The distances will be generally set for each age group across all the races in a series or area. There are no race numbers at cross country races, when you finish you line up in single file in the finisher’s funnel and are handed a number with your position. It is very bad form to overtake people in the finisher’s funnel, so put those elbows away! If you stick to mid-pack racing with familiar faces at each race it is a great way of racing each other. You don't necessarily have to be at the sharp end to have some great head to head battles!

Lastly…

The two most important bits of kit are:

  • Wellington boots at the start to clomp about the mud in.
  • A HUUB bag to carry everything to the race and refill with revolting wet muddy clothes and spiky things to go home.

If someone is still in their wellies on the start line, you've got the wrong race.

RELATED ARTICLES

  • How Triathletes Can Maintain Fitness Through the Winter
  • How Triathletes Can Get The Most Out Of The Winter Nights
  • Keeping Your Run Training Fresh In Winter
  • The Best Way To Improve Swim Times. What Are The Best Sets?
  • Pool Training For Open Water Swimming
  • The Best Pieces of Cycling Kit For Winter Triathlon Training

See more training and advice articles here.

Keeping your run training fresh
Keeping your run training fresh

Keeping your run training fresh

In the off-season, it is important to keep your levels of fitness high with a good winter training programme.

Put simply, variety is your friend. Maintaining high intensity and total accountability with your run training all year round is very difficult to do and realistically damaging to your progress. That is not to say that all intensity and accountability should be dropped, of course.

Learn what motivates you as an athlete

Part of your triathlon journey involves learning about yourself as an athlete and person. Some people respond really well to statistics, high accountability and numbers. For others this couldn't be further from the truth.

This where the 'art' of coaching comes in and experience in dealing with athletes over time helps you to recognize this in others. However, if you're not training with a coach you will have to take a more meaningful look at what makes you tick. As a general rule though taking some of the intensity out of the training is a good idea.

Explore the great outdoors

This time of year is perfect for going and exploring some trails and adding an element of exploration to your runs. This keeps you mentally alert and can be really good fun, which is key.

Running on trails and footpaths off-road will remove a level of intensity but benefit your stability as well. An app that is great for this is the Ordnance Survey app which allows you to finally work out where those footpaths come out or cross over. Getting to know your local area properly is really rewarding too.

Take it easier, but not too easy

Intensity can also be switched from, for example, intervals into tempo runs where the pressure is reduced and you are just running at a good but not deadly perceived effort.

Whilst taking some of the pressure off is beneficial for mind and body, don't lose all accountability. Maintaining one structured interval session is very useful for maintaining focus both mentally and physically plus if numbers motivate you then this will be key. Only point to be careful of is your gear -- this is a classic time of year to either get sick from getting too cold between intervals or tweaking a hamstring. Running Tights in particular can really help prevent such injuries.

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How Triathletes Can Get The Most Out Of The Winter Nights

How Triathletes Can Get The Most Out Of The Winter Nights

The clocks have gone back and it is the time of year that it is becoming increasingly hard to get motivated to get out there; or in the case of running and cycling the elements and light are against you.

This is where training in a group is perfect.

Join forces and winter train with other triathletes

Joining up with other triathletes in the winter can help you stick with your winter training programme. In actual fact this time of year can turn out to be some of the most enjoyable training sessions. The pressure of the season and the race calendar is behind you. Training sessions consequently have a little more flex and are definitely more social allowing you to catch up with people and not focus entirely on how tough a session is.

At worst there is comfort in collective suffering! This doesn’t have to be with triathlon clubs either - which are of course great being so specific - but don’t be afraid to join swim, bike or running clubs. More often than not, there is great knowledge to be had in club meets, and it diversifies, albeit marginally, your friendship group.

Make a promise to yourself to pound those dark streets whatever

If, however you don’t have the option to join a group then don’t despair there are plenty of sessions you can get done on the dark nights. Hill sets or fartlek sessions along the street light lit streets are ideal ways to bring intensity to your run without focusing too much on strict accountability.

One problem at this time of year though can be getting home and getting out again. We’ve all done it. Come home in the dark, maybe it’s raining. You come in, sit down on the sofa time machine, check Facebook, think about dinner and suddenly it’s too late to train or at least so you tell yourself. If possible, plan to meet your training group on the way home or even do the session on your commute home.

Get out there, be social and get it done!

Related articles

  • Keeping Your Run Training Fresh In Winter
  • How Triathletes Can Maintain Fitness Through the Winter
  • The Best Way To Improve Swim Times. What Are The Best Sets?
  • Pool Training For Open Water Swimming
  • Making The Transition From Pool To Open Water

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Triathlon Training: Moving from Sprint to Olympic Distance

Triathlon Training: Moving from Sprint to Olympic Distance

You've entered the world of triathlon doing your first or a series of sprint distance races and have been firmly bitten by the tri bug. The good news is, you're just at the start of an incredibly diverse journey.

You have so many options. To start with you can look to improve your performance over sprint and take it to the top, or you can go a little longer by working up to Olympic Distance Triathlon. For those of you looking to do the latter, the even better news is that it is very achievable.

Concentrate on increasing run distance

The key area to work when you move to Olympic distance for the first time is the run.

When you analyse the statistics you'll find that the greatest impact on performance overall is the run in terms of the largest time differential between first time competitors or those new to the distance.

Get your swim right and the bike and run will follow

Whilst running is important, the swim is the area that can have the biggest positive effect on the bike and run.

Training for your swim effectively allows your core to strengthen so that it maintains power transfer for the bike and run. HUUB triathlon wetsuits also include an 'exoskeleton' which assists your core and will definitely help in the transition to the longer distance.

In all likelihood you will already have been doing some good swimming in order to complete the sprint distance. All you need to do is add some more endurance and threshold work to that. This doesn't have to be an entirely new session in fact I'd recommend adding just two 15min sets into what you are currently doing or extending your main set accordingly.

This increase in threshold and endurance work actually applies across all the disciplines as you will have the high intensity work nailed down from your sprint distance training.

Where to set the bar in your training

In order to effectively compete over an Olympic distance race you should look to complete two swims (one endurance, one threshold), two bikes (one interval based, one long and three runs (one endurance, one tempo and one interval based). Don't worry if this sounds a lot. You don't need to be doing all this right now only in the last couple of months leading up to your event and better still you can combine sessions e.g. an endurance ride into a tempo run to help with time management and logistics. Right now you can get away with a threshold swim, an endurance bike and a tempo run.

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Stepping up from Standard to Middle Distance. How do I change my program?
Stepping up from Standard to Middle Distance. How do I change my program?

Stepping up from Standard to Middle Distance. How do I change my program?

Don't be intimidated by stepping up

Training for a middle distance triathlon race can seem intimidating. Firstly, there are the names to decipher - titles such as '70.3', 'Half Ironman', 'Challenge', or the name of some god of war are all bandied around. Secondly there are the distances, often referred to as 'stepping up' by some wizened old character at your tri club, and finally there are the impressive stories to contend with.

However, it doesn't need to be so overwhelming. In fact, 'stepping up' is very achievable.

One of the attractions of middle distance racing for triathletes is the kudos element, and rightly so. You're pushing yourself to do something extraordinary and it deserves self-recognition and congratulation. But how do you get there?

The great news is that although it is a challenge, the shift in training from Standard to Middle Distance is relatively simple and can even be a pleasant experience, we promise!

Reduction in training intensity and more to endurance training

The biggest change is the intensity reduction and the shift to endurance. Simply put, you are out there for approximately twice as long, so you need to train accordingly.

However, as mentioned, the intensity is reduced so don't worry you don't need to double your training load. The most important feature of the training is endurance. Endurance is relatively easy to achieve; you just need to do it.

So how does this translate to actual sessions?

Swim

The swim is largely unchanged from a Standard distance. After all, it is only 400 metres further.

The biggest mistake athletes make is to pay lip service to the swim, as proportionally much less of the race is spent on this discipline. Yes, it is only a little further but it is the breakdown of your core which is key element to remember when attacking the swim.

When you swim your core is the fixed point which allows you to load stress onto your arms; much like the ground acts for a weight lifter. Cyclists and runners tend to be relatively weak in rotational core strength and are more likely to suffer a core breakdown.

This has a very negative impact on the bike, but in particular the run, by preventing the transfer of power through the body. So make sure you get those swim sets in!

Bike

The bike is a key area to build up your endurance for two reasons.

Firstly, it has much less of an impact on your body so you can increase your volume with less recovery needed compared to the run. Secondly, the stronger you are on the bike the easier the run is.

Long distance racing is all about how fresh you can approach the run. Being a strong cyclist therefore helps massively with this. The good news in the building phase of endurance cycling is that just extending your usual long ride by an hour and enjoying a coffee with friends is totally appropriate training.

Run

Already mentioned earlier, the drop in intensity is feature of a shift in training patterns as you go longer in distance. This is because you will overstress your body if you try to maintain high intensity and increased volume. This is no more relevant than on the run.

Running is the most stressful of the three disciplines to the body and the easiest for a number of reasons to injure on. You will need to replace tough interval sessions with tempo runs. This is not to say all interval sessions must go but the really short, fast stuff can get shelved for now.

What does tempo mean? Well it's open to all sorts of interpretation but a great way to look at it is race pace work. So for example you may do an hour's run with 2 x 20min @ half marathon pace.

Most importantly, give yourself enough time to build everything up and you'll have a great time!

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The best way to improve my swim times, what are the best sets?
The best way to improve my swim times, what are the best sets?

The best way to improve my swim times, what are the best sets?

Good swim technique is vital to effective swimming. However once you're working along the right lines, from a technique perspective, conditioning is essential. The important point to remember when training for swimming is to be specific. Being 'swim fit' is very different from any other sport, in that it is difficult to replicate outside of the pool.

Going The Distance In The Water

Simply speaking in swimming terms, metres matter. Someone may look what 'society' would call strong or even 'ripped', but in reality our arms are super weak compared to - for example - our legs which even by standing around are continually being trained at an endurance level. When was the last time you walked to the shops on your hands? In endurance swimming, your arms and upper body take a battering.

The average intermediate triathlete will swim around a stroke per metre. This means that in an Ironman swim of around an hour utilizing 4 different muscle groups the swimmer will be doing altogether 7,600 repetitions on those muscles per arm. When was the last time you did a gym set that involved those numbers?!

Further to this your core takes a hammering in the swim which is why even for Ironman where the swim is proportionately much shorter you still need to get the swim sessions in. Otherwise you'll find yourself struggling on the bike but particularly the run as you are unable to transfer power with an exhausted core. This is actually why HUUB wetsuits really focus on supporting your core helping you not only in the swim but through the whole race.

Balancing Endurance and Threshold in Swim Training

So how do you structure your swimming? To make progress you're going to need to do a very bare minimum of two sessions, endurance and threshold but to make proper gains you need to include speed too.

Do not just go and swim. This is the biggest mistake people make. This is the equivalent of only ever going for a light jog or a multiple coffee stop ride for your run and bike training.

  • Endurance -- This is your base work but also very important for long distance racing. This could be anything upwards of 400m intervals and indeed even some race distance length efforts built into a session. An example of this could be 3 (800m Descending 1-3, Rest 3min) -- this means the third effort is the fastest. If you're feeling confident you can also add in a negative split to each interval. This is a great endurance session that really helps with your race pacing but importantly pushes some performance too.

  • Threshold -- Typically this is race pace or marginally quicker with a short rest. Something like 20 (100m, Rest 10sec) would fit. These sessions allow you to keep tabs on your speed and make incremental gains. It will also really help with pace management as you begin to get a closer idea of your effort levels. Typically, the slowest and fastest efforts should be no more than 3-4sec difference.

  • Speed -- To swim quickly you have to push yourself to swim faster than you usually would as with running or cycling. Often athletes struggle with this but you should achieve the same stomach churning, dizziness inducing effort as with the bike and run. A good set here would be 4 (200m MAX effort, Rest 4min) -- if you feel like it's too much rest, you haven't worked hard enough...

Enjoy!

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Preparation Is Everything For A Smooth Transition On Triathlon Race Day
Preparation Is Everything For A Smooth Transition On Triathlon Race Day

Preparation Is Everything For A Smooth Transition On Triathlon Race Day

Transition is written into triathlon folklore as something of a dark art by many a seasoned triathlete. We've been around the triathlon world for more than we care to remember and seen so many tips, tricks and theories about not messing up a transition. Many outspoken purists will start to tell you that if you don't tie your shoes with a triple helix crossbow knot, then the world will more than likely end.

The world won't fall apart without a triple helix crossbow knot, but there are a few tips to consider that will help you save precious seconds in the transition.

What Makes For A Good Transition?

Take a step back. You've got dressed for work this week right? Did you wear a snorkel, chicken suit and elf shoes? Possibly, but probably not. You wore the clothes most appropriate for the job. Did you put your pants on after your trousers? Again possibly, (superheroes excluded) but probably not. You got dressed in a logical order. This is all transition is.

So spending time logically thinking through the order of things will help you avoid time-costly mistakes as you leave the swim and get on your bike.

Practice Setting Up Your Transition Area

As you unpack your transition bag, think about what you're going to wear for each phase of the race and lay it out in the order that you're going to wear it.

When you're changing between disciplines, for example swim to bike, make sure your swim cap, goggles and wetsuit you take off are placed at the back of your area. You're not going to need them again so make sure they're not in the way of your run gear which you will need.

Laying your kit out and thinking about the race and when you're going to wear it is also a great way of checking you've got everything you need.

Rehearse The Route From The Swim To Your Bike

Once you have laid out all your kit take a walk from the swim exit to your bike. Then jog it, then run it so you are totally familiar with the layout. Then repeat the process from bike in to your racking point to run exit. Remember if you thought it was hard to find your bike, it'll be doubly hard to find a pair of running shoes.

A great tip is to count the number of rows and then the A-Frames supporting the racking. So for example, 3rd row, 5th A-Frame. This will bring you to within 5 metres of your bike making it easier to find. Don't be one of those poor souls running around like a headless chicken screaming, 'I can't find my bike!', all the while lamenting that there is more than one white bike with two wheels.

However, if you don't get on with the number system try and use a landmark like a street sign or similar, basically something that doesn't move unlike, say, a cow.

Useful Bits Of Kit To Make Your Triathlon Race Day Easier

Although it may not be essential for your first race there are a number of pieces of kit that can make your life easier in transition:

  1. Trisuit. This is arguably the most sensible piece of clothing to help you perform and remain comfortable throughout the whole race.
  2. Race belts. These are great bits of kit, and often undervalued. They are there so you can pin your number to the belt so you don't have to stand there stabbing yourself with safety pins after the swim. Top tip if you're not allowed to wear it under the wetsuit (most Ironman races don't allow this), or if it's a pool swim leave the belt clipped up, step into it and pull it up like it's a pair of shorts. Your dexterity will not be what you'd like it to be post-swim and this is vastly easier.
  3. Elastic Laces. Yes elastic laces or similar are really useful enabling you to quickly put your shoes on to the right tension and get on to the run course. This is particularly relevant for Sprint and Standard distance where 30 seconds can lose you position.

When we talk of transition the most inappropriate phrase is definitely 'less haste more speed'. This doesn't mean you have to be slow, just slick and well prepared. If you set up logically, rehearse your routes and wear the right kit, you're ready to go and enjoy the best triathlon of your career.

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Triathlon Checklist: What do I need for a Triathlon race event in the UK?
Triathlon Checklist: What do I need for a Triathlon race event in the UK?

Triathlon Checklist: What do I need for a Triathlon race event in the UK?

If you are entering a Triathlon for the first time it can be a little daunting. So to help you get organised for your first race day, we've put together a triathlon checklist of things to remember to get you through the race.

During the race you will normally need to wear a race number so a number belt can be really useful as you will need to change the position of the race number during each stage. Usually on your back for the bike stage and on the front for the run stage.

It can also be useful to have a plastic box in the transition area to store cycling & running gear after each stage but this is not usually essential.

A Transition Bag or Dry Bag is pretty handy to carry all your kit in, to and from the event.

Swim Stage Swim stage:

This stage can be in a swimming pool or in open water. In both cases you will need a pair of swimming goggles and a swim cap. Most events provide you with a swim cap but you should buy one for training beforehand. You should have a towel to dry yourself off a little ahead of the bike stage.

For pool swims you will usually need a pair of swim jammers for men or a swimming costume for women. Alternatively you can wear atri suit or tri top & shorts to save time changing in transition. If you are more serious then a Swim Skin is highly recommended.

For open water swims, the use of a triathlon wetsuit is usually mandatory. Under the wetsuit you would wear the tri suit or tri top & shorts. You may also need a neoprene skull cap, a pair of swim gloves and pair of booties in really cold conditions.

Bike Stage Bike stage:

Each event can specify a certain kind of bike but in most cases a road worthy mountain or road bike will be enough. You will need a bike helmet, it's part of the rules in most races, wearing no helmet in transition before you touch your bike usually results in disqualification. If you have clip on pedals then you will need clip on bike shoes. You can wear cycle gloves and sun glasses if you really wish. You should already be wearing a tri suit or tri top and shorts at this point.

Run Stage Run stage:

You will need a pair of running shoes suitable for the run stage. Some events can be out on the road or off road trail runs. You may need a sun visor or hat on brighter days.

If you need any help or advice we are available to answer your questions. Feel free to send us a message: Contact us

Pool training for open water swimming
Pool training for open water swimming

Pool training for open water swimming

Now we are in the off season for open water triathlons, you will reap dividends practising some skills in the pool.

These are not eyeball out intensive sessions, but ones to give you some of the skills you will need to become second nature. Practising in training sessions will make these skills instinctive to you on race day in the heat (or actually more like cold) of the moment.

We will start in this article with things you can do on your own, before moving on to group sessions in the next piece.

What to wear

Begin by wearing your normal pool swim kit, then and add in a mix of trisuit,trisuit and wetsuit and swimskin if you are planning non-wetsuit racing next year.

You can also take this as an opportunity to try out a different pair of goggles rather than assuming your existing ones are right for you. Also try out a new swim hat, neoprene hat or different goggle combinations. Finding a new piece of kit that changes your game is a revelation and you will never know what works best for you unless you try out new things from time to time.

Take a toy buoy or big buoy and buoyancy shorts with you to the pool to simulate the higher body of a wetsuit, but don't fall into to the trap of only swimming with one. So mix it up a bit with the gear you wear over the winter training season and keep yourself on your toes.

Go in at the deep end, after all you have no choice with a deep water start

OK let's start in the deep end and let's work on those deep water starts. When racing you need to learn to command your space, so tread water and spread your arms wide and scull with them. If you can, tip forward slightly and make a gap behind you too. Do a massive horizontal breast stroke leg kick and half a dozen strong freestyle arm strokes. Repeat with the other arm doing the first stroke.

Because the start is usually total chaos you will need to see where you are heading and be able to breathe. So to prepare for this, practice lengths in the pool with your head out of the water, looking forwards. Don't breathe to the front but take a breath to the side and then rotate your head back to the forwards position for sighting. This way your legs won't drop as you breathe, and you won't take a lungful of water instead. As per our normal nag, make sure you are able to breathe either side. Winter is the time to practice!

Now mix the two drills from the deep end, start hard and do a length fast. This way you can control your pace and place, swimming how and where you want to swim.

Practising sighting, turning and pacing

The middle of a triathlon race is all about sighting, turning and pacing. In your pool sessions, you need to learn to breathe twice to one side, then three strokes, and two breaths to the other. This keeps your options open on seeing what is going on around you when out in open water, and it means you are able to mix up a pattern if need be. Try a length to the left, a length as above, a length to the right and then a length bilateral.

Now, count how many strokes for a length, deduct 4, pull your hat over your goggles, swim the strokes. Do you stay straight? Do you always veer the same way? Now is the time to find out. Sighting practice in the pool is essential. The straighter you swim, the less often you will need to sight.

In most waters you can sight with "crocodile eyes". Essentially you will breathe to the side, like we practised at the start, rotate your head with only your eyes out the water, sight, drop your head straight back down and carry on stroking. If it's rough water you may need to really lift your head high and this may be better chance for you to catch a breath then. Practice now in still water.

For when you need eyes in the back of your head

Let's learn a clever trick to see what's going on behind you, if you need to know. Essentially you roll on your back, have a sneaky peak, and roll back onto your front in one motion.

So to practice this, take a stroke with your right arm and leave it outstretched in front of you. Roll your body away from the outstretched arm, and then as you roll onto your back finish that stroke with a backstroke. Your left arm then backstrokes and by this point you are able to look behind you. Take your right arm into a backstroke as you roll back the same way. Once facing front again, the left arm resumes a front crawl stroke.

You should lose very little momentum if you can nail it and it's easier than fitting wing mirrors to your goggles.

Goggle management

How many times have you heard people complain that they lost their goggles, or that they filled with water or they fogged up? Get your goggle management under control!

Firstly, make sure you invest in decent goggles to start with and once you have them, look after them. Keep them in a goggle case for instance, rather than just chuck them to the bottom of your swim bag.

To combat water sneaking into the lenses, do some lengths to halfway up the pool. When halfway take off your goggles completely and then put them back on without refilling them with water. Make this your personal challenge to defeat this, and you will reap dividends when racing season is back.

Practice the pool exit, and exiting that wetsuit

We all know the feeling of collapse on exit of the water in a triathlon -- you are coming to the finish, and it is the terrible stand up and be dizzy moment. This can be all but eliminated by getting the blood flowing round your whole body before you exit the water. Nail this technique now in the pool.

Swim your penultimate length normally and then another length with your legs kicking hard but your arms NOT turning over any faster. Try not to just swim faster. Then try finishing at the deep end, hauling yourself out of the water and standing up.

Once you are out of the water, every time you are swimming with a wetsuit on, practice getting it off in a hurry while you are at poolside. Time yourself with the pool clock. Don't for goodness sake though put a lubricant in it to make it quicker, the swimming pool don't want an oil slick spread across the top of their beautifully clean pool and they might not let you back next time.

Lastly, and there is always a lastly in our articles, rinse your wetsuit in the showers, inside and out. Make sure to rinse your goggles and your hat too to get all the chlorine out. Take the whole lot home in a drybag and hang it inside out to dry and this way you will keep your kit in tip top condition too.

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Transitioning From Pool Swimming to Open Water Swimming
Transitioning From Pool Swimming to Open Water Swimming

Transitioning From Pool Swimming to Open Water Swimming

Get out of the pool and into the outdoors!

We live in the UK, and, with the possible exception of some bits of sea, there are no killer sharks, piranhas or giant octopus in our waters. UK open water is generally safe, if a bit colder than in other parts of the world, and it is the next step to take as a swimmer in accessing more multi-sport events.

So if you have been pool swimming and fancy the challenge of taking to the great outdoors, let's help get you into open water for triathlons, for open water swim racing or just for fun.

How to get started with open water swimming

The easiest place to start is an inland lake, and there are plenty now catering for swimmers that run taster sessions or that have 'just turn up and swim' times. At inland lake venues, you will not be the only newcomer and you won't find a seething mass of experienced triathletes all swimming like torpedoes and so feel rest-assured you can relax. Just remember not to swim where swimming is banned, and don't swim on your own or without a more experienced swimmer if you are new to it.

Gearing up for open water swimming

The key difference between pool and open water swimming is the water's temperature. Whereas you can turn up to the pool on any day of the year in all weathers and get the same conditions, the same cannot be said for open water. This means that you need to be prepared with the right gear.

First up, you will need to invest in a wetsuit, and it is imperative that your wetsuit fits your body properly. By all means, have a go in your old windsurfing wetsuit but you will find you won't get far and it may put you off the experience. If you choose to borrow one from a mate and they are a different body shape to you, you will find it either too tight and restrictive for breathing, or all the extra space will let in lots of cold water making it uncomfortable. So borrow one that fits, or hire a good quality swimming or triathlon specific wetsuit.

When it comes to buying a wetsuit, try lots of different designs on to find a cut to suit your body shape. When looking at the features of your wetsuit, you need to think about whether you kick hard, whether you would like warmth over flexibility, how the neck sits and what your budget is. Men and Women are also different shapes (surprise, surprise) so buy a wetsuit designed for your gender.

If you are considering buying a second hand wetsuit it will almost certainly have nicks and tears in it and could be about to fall apart so inspect it carefully before wasting money. And, as a note to bear in mind, it is almost guaranteed that the previous owner will have peed in it...

Keeping warm when swimming in open water

In a race you will not normally be allowed gloves or socks, but in good, old Blighty they will make a world of difference in preventing you from chilling down in the water when out for a swim. Using neoprene socks and neoprene gloves will extend your outdoor season and will lengthen the time you can spend swimming in the water. Socks are also useful for protecting you from treading on something ungodly under the water with your bare feet, and will stop you stubbing your feet on a barnacle covered rock.

Likewise a neoprene hat (affectionately known in some circles as a 'prat hat') keeps your head and cheeks warm and toasty. You are also allowed to race in a hat, so it is worth investing in one.

If it is really cold, a pair of earplugs will stop the water going in your ears, which for some biological reason stops you being so cold. Just remember to pull them out again if you are in a triathlon race, otherwise you won't hear a thing out on the bike!

Optimising vision in the murky waters of lake and sea

Another key difference between pool and open water swimming is the clarity of the water and light conditions outside, which necessitates the use of a good pair of swim goggles.

There is a dark art in finding goggles that fit properly, that don't fog up and have a bit more sideways vision than regular streamlined pool goggles. Again the advice is to try on lots of different designs to find the perfect fit for your face.

The more often you swim in open water, the more you will demand of your goggles. Consideration should be given to the type of lenses in your goggles. Early starts are quite common for triathlon and swim events and this usually means that the sun is low on the horizon too. At the morning progresses, so does the light and so consider investing in some goggles with photochromatic lens that adjust according to light levels they are exposed to.

Taking to the water for the first time

Now that you are all togged up you are ready to dip a toe in the water.

Get in slowly, wait for the water to sneak in at the zip and down the collar and get accustomed to the temperature. This is also the point you dip down and secretly have a pee to warm up your bottom half. Everyone does it, and so it's merely an unspoken secret!

Put your head in the water and just blow out gently, keeping your head in the water for a while. Breathe and then do it again. You will notice that the water is pretty dark and there is a lot of matter floating around in the water around you. But don't be put off, at least it doesn't fill your nose with chlorine! Though you can never be certain what it is filling your nose with however.

Now take a swim and get used to how it feels. You don't need to go steaming off to the other side of the pond, but you will quickly realise that you need to learn how to sight and go in a straight line. There is no handy black line to keep you on track like there is in a pool.

Leaving the water

You have swum the swim and now it is time to get out. By now all the blood will have got stuck in your top half and when you stand up, it will fall to your feet and you will promptly fall over!

Here's a top tip to avoid looking like you are running around like a drunken student when leaving the water. Spend the last 50 yards of your swim kicking like mad to get full circulation going again. Try it. It works.

For more swim racing tips, read this article.

Open water swimming will open your eyes to a whole new world of swimming, events and races and a whole new group of friends. The more you do, the more confident you will be and before you know it you will find yourself faffing on the edge less and enthusiastically taking the plunge.

Once you have mastered open water in inland lakes and open bodies of water that are still, you can turn your attentions to the open seas with tides, currents and waves to contend. This will open up the exciting world of beach to beach swims, round island swims... and probably no sharks! But that is for discussion in a different post.

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Learning How To Sight When Open Water Swimming
Learning How To Sight When Open Water Swimming

Learning How To Sight When Open Water Swimming

Don't lose your way in the open water

If you have just started the transition from pool swimming to open water swimming, one of the first things you will have discovered is the need to learn how to sight. Sighting is something you don't need to do in the pool, but is a vital skill for keeping you on track when swimming over open water.

Read on for a whistlestop tour of learning how to sight when swimming outdoors.

The single most important tool for sighting is your goggles, take care of them

Make sure you don't lose your goggles and there are many ways to lose them.

Inspect them carefully the night before the race to make sure the straps aren't getting perished. You don't want to find out at the start line that they are going to snap. For the same reason, always pack a second pair that you have already fitted and adjusted to suit your facial profile. Again, wasting time on this at the start line is not a smart use of time.

Goggles often get pulled off in the rush to get into the water. Wearing a second swim cap over the top of your goggles not only keeps your head warm but prevents your goggles being ripped from your head by someone else.

If the swim is crowded, switch to breathing the other side to avoid flailing arms knocking into your face. A whack to the back of the head is not pleasant, but a whack in the face and goggles will be much worse.

Practice breathing from side to side

An early race start can mean that you have the sun in your eyes to one side and in choppy waters there may be waves crashing into you from one side making it difficult to regulate your air intake if you are accustomed to single sided breathing. You might also need to keep an eye on your enemy who could be swimming either side of you and so you need to be able to breathe both sides.

The author of this piece takes a breath to one side. Then, leaving only the eyes out of the water, meanwhile blows out whilst turning the head to look forwards giving valuable seconds to keep correcting course by gathering sighting information. On the next breath the author switches breathing to the other side. This technique is then repeated about every 10 strokes.

Try not to lift your head too high to prevent dropping your hips too low in the water which will slow you down. With this technique, practice makes perfect.

If you find that you are hopeless at two sided breathing then work this into your pool training routine. Practice until it becomes natural to your stroke.

Taking aim and being aware of your surroundings

Looking for landmarks across the water is a skill you need to develop pretty quickly in an open water swim. Before setting off, take a good look at where you are aiming for and the landmarks that will help you stay on course. If this is a buoy to be reached then all is good, but if you are aiming for a position on a shore or the buoy is out of vision when down in the water, then you will need to look for distinctive markers such as a tree, shoreline buildings or an unambiguous feature in the landscape.

Drafting, just like in the pool, saves bags of energy. If you are reading this article, it's likely you aren't leading the pack in the swim and so use drafting to help both conserve energy and to keep on course until you have honed your own sighting techniques. Whatever you do, make sure that your lead is going in the right direction though!

What's your natural pull in the water?

You will need to see how straight you go, and so for the ultimate test, pull your hat over your goggles and aim somewhere. Stronger pull on one side of your body may pull you off course more than you would think and so it is good to be aware of features of your natural technique and how to compensate, as these will factor when visibility is poor for instance.

The strongest swimmers are not always the first out of the water. Often it is the smartest swimmers that excel. To be a smart open water swimmer the only way to gain experience is to get out there as often as possible and learn how to deal with the various challenges an open water swim will present you. Practice technique in the pool and then draw on experience to get you through the race.

Related articles

See more training and advice articles here.

Open Water Swim Racing Tips
Open Water Swim Racing Tips

Open Water Swim Racing Tips

Some quick fire tips for swim race day

Gain yourself a little time on race day with these open water swim tips. If you are new to open water swimming you might find that some of these pointers save you some valuable time and some embarrassing mistakes on race day.

  • Get your wetsuit to fit comfortably using plastic bags. With a garment that fits so tightly, the challenge is how to get it on without damaging the suit or chafing or trapping your skin. Watch this video for tips on getting the perfect wetsuit fit including how to make very good use of two plastic bags!

  • Lube up that neck! Use suit lube, arnica, aloe vera gel or other lubricant to reduce chafing at the neck. You can also use some lube on the outside of your wetsuit at the wrists to ease removal of your wetsuit at the end of your swim.

  • Bring along two pairs of goggles. Always take along two pairs of goggles. If you don't, Murphy's Law dictates that the strap will snap on the start line.

  • Layer those hats! Whether you use a neoprene hat or not put your hat on, then put your goggles over the top and then a second swim cap. This keeps your head warm, stops you losing your goggles and it looks a bit pro too.

  • Make sure to note the colours of the buoys in the water and their meaning before you set off. If you know what colour the turn buoys are, and whether they are different in colour to guide buoys you will save yourself a potential race day disaster.

  • Check if the kayak on the water is a safety boat or if it is a lead on the course.

  • In the water, drafting saves lot of energy and reduces the concentration levels needed for sighting when swimming solo. Just make sure your lead is taking you in the right direction!

  • You need to choose your place on the start line in a deep water start. If you are fast and confident or tough you can go on the front directly in line with the first buoy. If you are less confident or slower you may choose to go to the side of the pack and swim longer but in clear water with less risk of being dunked or swum over.

  • As with any race you need to choose your place wisely. Your style will be unique to you, so learn what your style is. Do you prefer a quick start to get a lead early on, or are you better suited to a calmer pace to get you further with less exhaustion?

  • Practice getting out of your wetsuit. All that time spent swim training to swim faster will come to nothing if you waste triathlon transition time on getting your arms or feet stuck, or because you can't grab your zip.

  • Since we are talking about zips... When leaving the water, your dexterity is not all it should be and grappling with a zip that is located in the middle of your back can make it all that little bit harder. HUUB wetsuits have a breakaway zip to make getting out of your wetsuit much easier.

  • Removing your wetsuit with a timing clip. If you have cut the legs on your wetsuit short to get it off quickly, will it get stuck on the timing clip? Forewarned is forearmed.

Related articles

See more training and advice articles here.

Doing your first SwimRun - things you should know
Doing your first SwimRun - things you should know

Doing your first SwimRun - things you should know

SwimRun races. What could be simpler? You swim then run, then swim, then run, then swim, then... well you get the picture.

What started as a mad idea in Scandinavia, racing across an archipelago, has now started taking off over here. The Otillo is the gold standard in Sweden, with qualifying races to be on the start line. Some races over here are either qualifiers or point earning "merit" races.

However, though it seems complex, don't be alarmed; there are plenty of less hard core athletes entering these races. So let's help you get race ready, but from your side of the bargain, you will need to do some work.

Couple up with someone compatible

First up, you need to find a partner who fits even better than your wetsuit. Choosing a compatible partner is possibly more important than a wetsuit that fits in fact!

You race as a pair and have to stay together all the way -- and by stay together we mean, usually within 10 metres of each other. So for context, think of an iron distance race, with a partner, all the way. A horrible idea for some, but once you get used to it, it's a really great way of working as a team towards race day. And as the Brownlees proved in Cozumel, it's sometimes your partner that will literally get you across the line on race day.

So in choosing a compatible race partner, you will need to be similar in pace. An unequal fitness partnership will never work. You will spend a lot of time together before the race, but also on race day making your way across challenging terrain which will not be familiar to either of you. This means that you will need to have compatible personalities too, as your acquaintance will be thoroughly put to the test.

Even if you are the best of buddies, you will also need to agree that you will hate each other at some point in the race, agree you will probably say you are never doing it again with each other, and it was a stupid idea in the first place. Then once you cross the line, you will be full of how you can do the next one better and how soon can you can get your entry forms in. Trust us, we know these things.

Choosing the right clothes for SwimRun

The second most important thing to get right is your kit. Get this wrong and your long day out will be a cold and shivery, feet blistered, hot and sweaty, scratch-legged, sore-armed, under-fuelled, miserably long slog. And you will hate each other even more. So choosing what to wear is something you need to spend time giving consideration to.

The SwimRun wetsuit

You can use a modified wetsuit but a specific SwimRun wetsuit will pay dividends. Regular wetsuits have just a back zip, but SwimRun wetsuits have a front zip. This means you can constantly regulate your temperature on the run, unzipping it, or taking out your arms and having it hanging at your waist only. On a SwimRun, the swim is usually cold and the run is hot and sweaty, so it is key to be able to slip in and out of your wetsuit, which you will wear for the entire race, easily and quickly.

For anyone who might've tried, attempting to put your arms back in a soaking wet wettie is nigh on impossible. Imagine how maddening this will be on race day when you have to do it upwards of 10 times too - not good for that already tested run partner relationship. So, try taking a couple of freezer bags with you, put your hands in the bags, then shoot them though the arms.

The crotch on a SwimRun wetsuit is thinner to enable you to run, and the backside is a different neoprene that is not easily ripped on rocks. The leg seams are sealed so that you can cut the legs where you want. The wetsuit comes with full length legs so you can choose, and the best cut is above the knee to ease running. Wherever you cut, make really, really sure you know where to do it. Once cut, neither you, nor we, can glue it back on again. Likewise the arms can be cut wherever you prefer, though a lot of people leave these long.

Bear in mind you will be wearing a race vest on top of your wetsuit, so the front zip is even more important.

AND... there are pockets inside, genius.

What to wear under your wetsuit

Underneath your wetsuit, you will likely find that shorts and a separate top are better than one piece. It's unlikely you will be taking your wetsuit off for a call of nature and so this is a matter of personal choice. We will leave you to decide how your own body works under duress on race day!

A pair of jammers is ideal, for both men and ladies, as they won't ride up and they won't hold water which you will really appreciate as you leave the water and embark on yet another run. The top needs to have arms which won't ruckle every time you take your arms in and out of the wetsuit or have excess material that gets caught as you unzip.

And for your head and feet...

Shoes will be worn all the way through the event. You need to run a long way in them, be able to scramble over rocks as you get in and out of the swims, and so you leave them on.

This means you need to choose a pair that will drain quickly. As a tip, you can drill holes in the soles so they don't hold water. A pair that is fell studded on the soles is ideal. Fell running shoes are designed for running over rough, boggy terrain and so if you have never entered the world of fell running, at least go and check out what they wear on their feet.

With socks there are two options. Short wool-based socks that are ok when wet and a pair of calf guards is one option. Whatever you think of calf guards technically, you need something to keep your legs warm and to get you relatively unscathed through brambles and bracken. The alternative is to wear long socks. These will need to be a pair that will stay up when soaked, so go for long compression socks.

Wear a swim hat under your race cap. Why wouldn't you if the water is freezing? But remember you need to be able to run in it too.

You will need goggles suitable for open water swimming and always take a spare pair between you that you can both wear. Goggles need to be robust and well-sealed. You will be pulling them on and off, so choose a pair that will not fog up and that have good quality lenses that can cope with varying light conditions.

Useful accessories to make your SwimRun go smoother

Gloves. This is where it becomes interesting. In a SwimRun you can generally take paddles to assist with extra power in the swim. So you could swim with gloves to keep warm which act a bit like paddles, but think about how you are going to get them on and off when wet.

Alternatively, you could tough it out and swim with paddles glove-free. You put your fingers through some straps at the front, and put a strap at the other end for your wrist. You flip your fingers out of their strapping as you exit the swim and leave the paddle on your wrist. This leaves your hands free as you get on with your run.

Again, what to do with your hands will be a matter of personal choice that you can try out whilst training. If one of you is a stronger swimmer maybe have one of you with and one without paddles to even things up. Make sure to train with paddles if you are going to use them. They put extra pressure on your shoulders so you will need to condition them pre-race.

Pull buoys. Oh yes, don't forget a pull buoy! Your shod feet will be heavy, so you can take a pull buoy to save your legs, but there is a clever trick. You need to thread some elastic lace through the pull buoy to hold it in place. You attach the pull buoy to your leg, but spin it inside to swim (the elastic means you won't lose it) and then move it to the outside of your leg to run. There are maximum sizes allowed in some races so check beforehand. Rough up the surface too, and this will stop it from sliding about on your wettie.

Lastly you will probably need a bumbag for some food and mandatory safety items. It needs to be only just big enough and not spin round like a sporran in the water.

Getting you around the SwimRun course

A GPS sports watch is also a good idea. The courses in a SwimRun race are long, and since you are moving over hilly terrain it will help you to keep an eye on the progress you are making. You may not always be able to judge how far you have gone whilst running in a changeable landscape and so it'll help you with pace setting too. Don't put your watch on your wrist if your arms are going to be coming on and off in the runs. And make sure you match the units to the units the race is measured in!

On your pull buoy or paddles write down the stage distances, and in a different colour any cut offs and feed stations which will help you pace your race and cut down on any tactical thinking you might need to calculate whilst you are running.

SwimRun is unique, and it's the kind of endurance race that will appeal to people who enjoy a bit of adventure racing, being in the mountains and don't mind getting very, very wet. Give it a go, you might find your new calling in life!

If you are thinking of doing your first SwimRun, you might find our article on training for SwimRun and this article on training with a partner good extra reading.

See more training and advice articles here.

Training for SwimRun
Training for SwimRun

Training for SwimRun

The first thing to state about SwimRun is that it's a long day out - it's a very long day out. You wouldn't do minimal training for an iron distance and expect to be able to wing it on the day. And so you need to put some time in, as you can't just wing it when undertaking a SwimRun event either.

Training for SwimRun is not a solo endeavour

You can do the groundwork training for SwimRun, in the water or running, on your own. But you also need to practice with your partner because you will be racing together. It's not rocket science but you do need to have some focus on how you perform as a team as part of your training programme.

So by all means do all of the below to condition your body to the task, but make time to also work with your partner.

Running training for SwimRun

The run sections when added up will come to over 30k in some races. There will be a mix of run lengths depending on the course, with a mix of short and perhaps a 10-12k leg so bear this in mind when preparing for taking on the task.

Start your training in normal running kit and get an endurance base. Do a weekly staple long run at a really steady pace, a tempo and a speed session. While it is an endurance race, you will lose overall run speed if you only run steady and you will start to really plod.

Gradually build up to running four times a week, mixing distance speed and terrain, don't fall into plodding out the same route and distance. SwimRun courses are changeable and so you need to be able to adapt your running style to cope with the challenges the course will throw at you on race day.

Once you are comfortable with this, start running twice in one of the days, say 5k in the morning and then 4k at midday. Don't cheat yourself by always making each run get shorter as the day progresses.

Do this in sets of two weeks hard followed by one week at an easier pace for a few weeks. This will help you figure out that you are not picking up any niggles or small injuries caused by the change in routine to your body.

Now you can add a back-to-back steady first day - start so the total run distance over the two days is under half the total race distance. In time you should be able to run four runs, for example 5/2/8/1 kilometers, and aim for within 6 hours. The following day, you swim.

Swim training for SwimRun

Swimming multiple swims in a pool in a day isn't so practical. So whatever you do, make sure you can swim the longest swim comfortably. Again build up the distance, keep in your speed work, and practice with paddles if you plan using them.

Don't swim every set as a long steady swim. Do a mixed set at a steady pace, say 1k, 400m, 1k. As with the running don't always decrease the distance through the set.

Now we can get some bricks done and race kit practice. You can be doing these in a pool environment but without your shoes on, the pool owners won't take kindly to a pair of mucky shoes in their chlorine.

Check you can use your wetsuit in the pool, and adapt to whatever they are happy with. You will need to get used to looking a total idiot running in your swim kit in public outside.

As soon as the weather is suitable for open water make sure you are swimming out there too. Race day water may well be cold so you need to get used to it as soon as possible.

Bringing it all together

First off you should do a swim, run, swim, run, to get used to the repeated changes between water and land. Build up to say a 1k swim and 5k run, repeated three times.

Next make one of the runs longer, then keep varying the sets until you are active for half the distances of the race. This should be built to two weeks going hard, followed by one week at an easier pace.

It's imperative to be able to do this in your race kit once you are used to the concept, any little niggles with the way your kit fits in the first part of the race will become a nightmare by half way round the course.

This is also the time to sort nutrition. Obviously you can't eat whilst swimming and there is no bike leg when, traditionally in a triathlon, you would be taking fuel on board. Little and often is the key. Take food that is easy to pack, easy to rip open, easy to hold and easy to chew or swallow. You may need to share with your partner, and so now is the time to find out if either of you is allergic to anything and not when you are at the top of a mountain!

If you are thinking of doing your first SwimRun, you might find our article on useful things to know about SwimRun, and this article on training with a partner good extra reading.

See more training and advice articles here.

Tips on training with a partner for SwimRun
Tips on training with a partner for SwimRun

Tips on training with a partner for SwimRun

In triathlon, duathlon and open water swimming the sport is a singular journey for an athlete meaning you set your own bar and know your own limits. So if you are thinking about taking on SwimRun as a new challenge, working as a unit of one will all have to change. The rules of these races are often that you run with a partner which takes some getting used to.

Read through our article on training for SwimRun to take a look at the commitment needed for what is a very long race. In fact, both of you read it. If you are still game, in this article we discuss some aspects of training with a partner to get you race-ready.

Finding the right partner

The rules of SwimRun mean that you and your partner must usually stay within 10 metres of each other throughout the race. All pieces of kit you take out with you must come back again and you must cross the finish line together. If one of you retires, you both retire.

To take on a SwimRun, you need to find a partner who fits even better than your wetsuit. You need to find a partner that you get along with. You need a partner who is at the same level of fitness as you. And you need a partner that you are happy to spend a lot of time jumping in and out of lakes with, running over misty moors all alone with, sharing a pair of goggles with, sharing your last sports gel with...

Find someone who is the Yin to your Yang.

Swim pace training with a partner is easier said than done

Possibly the hardest aspect of training to get in synch with is the swim. Swimming at the same pace as someone else is much harder than running together. As an idea, try drafting each other or you may find that one person will always lead which will see them run out of energy fast.

The faster swimmer can find the best exit from the swim stage, but bear in mind you need to be together by the race rules. The faster swimmer can also sight leaving the slower swimmer to just follow, trusting in their partner. This reduction in sighting effort will bring the two of you together more as the slower swimmer will conserve more energy by leaving the way-finding to their partner.

Take it from us that swimming facing each other whilst breathing will drive you totally dotty by the end of the race! At every stroke you will be eye-balling each other so try breathing on the other side or swimming back to back. If you haven't mastered breathing on either side, then train yourself to do this. For many reasons other than catching each other's eye on each stroke, it will be a whole lot easier if you can breathe either side too. Read this article on open water swimming tips for a few pointers on learning how to breath either side. Practice in the pool first!

Pace setting on the run

Running together will be easier, one following the other is often better than side by side. When running side by side you tend to inadvertently up the pace and talk too much which is draining. If one of you is the stronger runner, then let the slower runner set the pace by running up front. This way you won't lose each other, and you will have a pace that you can both cope with.

It's imperative you are honest with each other rather than letting ego take over. If it's slightly too fast a pace as you run for the first few hundred yards then say so. Don't hang on in there, because inevitably you will blow up and this will let the pair of you down.

Getting to grips with your kit

You may need to remind each other to eat and drink and you will need to work out what each of your nutritional needs are so that you are carrying enough -- and not too much. You will need to share the load on mandatory safety kit and you will share out the carrying of spare kit like an extra pair of goggles.

Practice unzipping and re-zipping wetsuits. Your SwimRun wetsuit will be worn throughout the race, but you will need to take it on and off your upper half upwards of 10 times as you make your way around the course. This means you may need to help each other with removing the arms or unsnagging a zip from your race bib that is just out of reach.

Keep an eye on each other and make sure you tell each other if a bumbag is tangled with the race vest, if goggle straps are falling off or a pull buoy is working loose.

And don't lose the car keys. That would be the end of a beautiful friendship.

If you are thinking of doing your first SwimRun, you might find our article on useful things to know about SwimRun, and this article on SwimRun training good extra reading.

See more training and advice articles here.

How do I get into duathlon?
How do I get into duathlon?

How do I get into duathlon?

Duathlon Races: love 'em or hate 'em

Duathlons, per the oft quoted Marmite analogy, are hated by some and loved by others. They used to be seen as winter racing for triathletes or a poor swimmer's version of a triathlon. But not anymore!

Alex Yee is living proof you can be a duathlete and a triathlete. Duathlon is a sport in its own right and it will test the hardest athlete to the limit... it's also an outlet to just go and have some fun when it's too cold to swim.

A duathlon is a run, bike, run format. Usually the second run is half the distance of the first. So, for instance, a sprint distance will be 5km/20km/2.5km and a standard distance duathlon will be 10km/40km/5km on the road. Off road duathlons are usually nearer to a sprint distance, with either a mountain bike or cyclocross bike being suitable for this terrain.

Don't underestimate the sport!

Duathlons are hard, and there is no avoiding the fact. So to take them on, you need to adjust your training, transition techniques and kit list.

If you are a regular triathlete you need to keep on top of your swimming in meantime. It's a useful piece of training for specific muscle sets, but also if you stop during duathlon season you will find swimming a hideous uphill struggle to pick up again when triathlons start again in the spring.

Learn to love your bricks sessions and get to grips with your shoes

You will need to learn to embrace bricks sessions. Since you are training in autumn through to spring you need to resist looking for weather related excuses to get out of them; learn how to be creative and just get on with it!

If the weather is bad, use a turbo or rollers, or go to the gym for instance. The brick is not just about changing the way you use your legs, but is about changing shoe and kit practice.

Start with a block of five times doing 7 minutes on the bike and 3 minutes run with no rest in between. This is a good beginner's set and for your first set, you need to keep your pace above steady.

Next try going harder on the runs, then the time after go harder on the bike, then by your fourth set go hard but sustainable throughout.

Once you can do this, vary the times of the blocks and perhaps experiment with pyramiding them.

Bricks are the time to work out your shoe changes too, assuming you will be riding clipped for the bike. A smart move is to have two pairs of running shoes so that the second pair is open and clean at T2. This is an especially good idea in an off-road race... which moves us onto thinking about kit.

The duathlon kit list

The kit list for a duathlon is pretty straightforward -- for instance there is no need to tell you that you will need running and cycling shoes and a bike! - but there might be things in the list below you haven't considered.

  • Trisuit to save you time in transition
  • Shorts, with a chamois you can run in when it is wet
  • Base layers
  • Gilet
  • Windproof which doesn't act like a sail
  • Arm warmers for the bike
  • You need to think about gloves that you can clip and unclip your helmet in, so maybe go fingerless.
  • Skullcap
  • Buff
  • Socks, impractical for triathlon, but can be worn throughout a duathlon
  • Cycle toe covers
  • Running tights

At HUUB we also have a special cycle bundle of toe covers and a cycle jersey with cycle styling, but lightweight fabric for easy running and sweat wicking.

To test out your kit combinations so that you find something that suits you, try wearing them in different combinations until you find what works for you. Bear in mind that you will get hot on the first run, and then could get very cold on the bike, or wet, or probably both so what you wear at different stages of the race could alter dramatically in layering.

When the appointed hour arrives, take everything with you on race day as it is no good sat in a cupboard at home. And as another top tip, stash everything in a dry bag at transition, because the last thing you want at the end of your race is wet clothes.

The post-race come down and keeping up with swim training

Come Monday morning after the race, get yourself down to the pool and get your legs working to recover. Use a kickboard and mix up free and breaststroke lengths. As much as we all hate kick sets, we promise you that you will feel the benefit.

Get in the pool regularly, using a pullbuoy when you have destroyed your legs in a hard session. Swimming will mean you stay conditioned over the whole body, and you will maintain some core strength and flexibility. If you drop your swimming, you will fall into the trap of only working your legs and will end up carrying on when they need a rest or are injured.

Related articles

See more training and advice articles here.

The best pieces of kit for winter

The best pieces of kit for winter

Last weekend (mid December) was the first time I would say it was definitely cold. Anyone who rode over this weekend won’t have failed to notice it. There was even some freezing fog knocking around which didn't want to lift. Wearing the right gear in these elements is really important. Two things my Sergeant Major said to me that really stuck from my time in the Army. Firstly, ‘any fool can be uncomfortable,’ and secondly, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad selection of clothing.’ This really applies to our sport.

Layering up on the bike

Layering, particularly on the bike is the most obvious point to get right. You can get base layers at a whole range of prices but a great way to get some more value for money is to double up or use your running base layers. This will have a very similar effect. Think about versatile types of kit too like gilets, arm and leg warmers. Using a set of arm warmers and gilet can turn your medium weight winter jersey into a deep winter jersey capable of dealing with any temperatures or conditions.

Look After Your Extremities

On the bike your extremities take a battering. With regards to gloves, options are essential. There is no glove that copes with every condition over winter, I’ve bought ridiculous numbers of pairs over the years, so invest in some autumnal and some deep winter gloves ideally the lobster type which have the benefits of a mitten but the control of a glove.

For your feet layering on the outside of the shoe is your best bet. Most people only have one pair of cycling shoes which fit well within thinner socks in the Summer but with thicker socks they actually squeeze the blood out of your feet making them colder. I’d recommend using toe covers and overshoes. It’s a very rare day that your feet will be too hot in the winter and this really helps. For more protection use electrical tape to tape over the air vents in your shoe.

And for running? Look after those muscles and keep them warm

For running keeping your working muscles warm is really important as due to the extra stress on the body when running you’ll be more susceptible to injury if the muscles cool down rapidly. We’ll pretty much be living in running tights from now until the end of February.

Remember the quality and appropriateness of your kit is key to your enjoyment of your sport no more so during the colder, harsher weather. Enjoy!

RELATED ARTICLES

  • Get Out There This Winter With Some Cross Country Or Fell Running Races!
  • How Triathletes Can Maintain Fitness Through the Winter
  • How Triathletes Can Get The Most Out Of The Winter Nights
  • Keeping Your Run Training Fresh In Winter
  • The Best Way To Improve Swim Times. What Are The Best Sets?
  • Pool Training For Open Water Swimming

See more training and advice articles here.

Group swim pool training for better open water swimming

Group swim pool training for better open water swimming

We hope you have been practising our recent technique tips for getting open water swimming training right in the pool.

You should now be reasonably confident swimming in open water, and have been using the pool to refine your technique. The next step is to add some other swimmers to your training sessions, to take you through your journey to becoming a proficient open water athlete.

Let's get you mentally and physically ready to take to the start line, listening for the gun, eye focused on the first buoy next season.

Three is not a crowd!

Most of what we will be suggesting in this article needs three swimmers, though if there are more of you, all the better. You need to be similarly matched in swim speed ideally so break up into teams of equally matched trios.

We are looking at three things here, drafting, the "washing machine analogy", and managing dirty tactics.

Perfecting your swim drafting technique

Your drafting technique needs to be second to none. If you get it right, you will swim faster and will be less tired as you exit the water. This has got be good news for any triathlete.

Get it wrong however, and you could ruin your race. If you choose to follow the wrong person, you could head off in the wrong direction blindly following someone who can't sight. If you end up swimming with someone slower than you, because you are drafting, you will think the easier swim is because you are being smart. Only hindsight will be able to tell you.

By staying close to your lead swimmer, you will save huge effort by being pulled along in their slipstream. The lead swimmer will create a bow wave, which moves forwards and sideways. Ideally you need to position yourself between ankle and hip in the middle of the sideways wake. This will keep you away from the messy water coming off the lead swimmer's feet, and you will not have to lift your head to look over the swimmer to sight.

It takes more practice to draft effectively in open water than simply sitting on someone's feet - which we all do for an easy ride in the pool.

In a race scenario the start and finish will see you involved in a lot of sprinting and kicking, so at these points in the swim you need to sit on the hip of the lead swimmer. Mid-race you can drop back to the feet position where the water is smoother, but without the bow wave.

It's best to keep your options open when racing and, as is our oft-repeated mantra, you must remember to practice both sides!

Swimming in a washing machine!

The next step is to move onto swimming in the washing machine. Not an actual washing machine of course, but the metaphorical jumble of water that is part and parcel of the open water swimming scrum in busy races. You need to get accustomed to choppy and turbulent conditions and how to take the occasional blow to head or body with a flailing arm or foot.

So for this, there needs to be three of you in one lane, tightly packed for some specific sets.

  1. Deep water start, single lengths, three abreast, flat out.
  2. Deep water start, singles, three abreast all breathe left.
  3. Repeat all breathe right.
  4. Repeat right hand person breathes left, left hand breathes right, middle person bilateral.
  5. As above so everyone gets practice in all places.
  6. Swim in a line and swop leader every 50m, everyone swimming the lead twice.
  7. Repeat with lead swimmer pulling onto poolside at deep end and rejoining the back.
  8. Repeat, with third swimmer sprinting to front on first length and holding front on second.

By the time you have done all of this, you will have forgotten to sight. Admit it, you forgot to sight didn't you? So, when you have perfected the above, try adding in a sight mid-length and you will see that it's getting harder now.

To make it even harder, see if you can use the pool to swim diagonally, this means there is no black line to follow. Obviously if you are in a public pool with genteel lane swimming going on, you might not want to raise the anger of that many other swimmers!

Adding a buoy into the mix

On another day set up some buoy practice, using each other with a bright swim hat on if need be, or a pull-buoy with a weight hung from it so that you have something to aim for.

You need to do these sets packed together so may need a lane to bring you all together once you have mastered the sets without.

  • All race to the buoy and do a 90 degree left turn, stay close and really get used to fighting for your turn space, then sprint out of the turn.
  • Repeat right.
  • Repeat with 180 both left and right turns.

If there are enough of you, put in a gate with two buoys (a great thing to do with any resting swimmers!). Position these, say ten feet apart half way up the pool, start in line alongside each other, race to the gate and get used to the arrow effect of all heading for one place. All turn left, then repeat the distance again, all turning right.

Managing dirty tactics

When managing dirty tactics, we do of course mean coping with being the victim, not being the deliverer. So let's just get that straight first!

In the washing machine you will be fighting for space to actually swim in clear water, and invariably you will be swum over. When this happens, you will feel a hand go down on the small of your back and the other swimmer will push down as s/he swims over you. This isn't really a dirty move per se, it's just what happens. To best react to this, let yourself go under and then come up for air and carry on swimming.

And so, in the safety and calm of the pool, practice swimming over each other. If you know what to do when it happens to you, you will be thankful. You will also need to know how it feels too. If you are a frequent competitor on the triathlon racing scene, it is only a matter of time before you get your first taste of it.

When you are on the receiving end of someone who has decided to not play by the rules, you will also need to know how to cope...

Pulling someone else's ankles to propel yourself forward is not good sporting conduct. Again practice being the victim and just getting on with it rather than reacting, pointlessly, in the water. The time for altercations is not in the middle of a lake as other triathletes sail past you.

Then we have zip pulling, and this one is definitely a dirty tactic. It will ruin your race if the zip comes down fully. Your wetsuit will instantly fill with water and it will be impossible to do up again. Make sure you tuck your zipper pull inside the collar return to make it hard to grab hold of easily in the water. And if someone does it to you, make sure you get their race number.

Goggle removal is another show of bad sportsmanship, though they can be pulled really easily from your head in the scramble into the water. It is really simple to avoid this one. Simply wear a swim hat, then your goggles and another swim hat on top. Sorted.

So all that remains to be said is to get out there with some of your closest swim buddies and practice your worst-case scenarios.

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New Triathlon Season, New Promises to Yourself (and friends and family)

New Triathlon Season, New Promises to Yourself (and friends and family)

Well here we go, a new triathlon season, a new set of promises to yourself.

  • Who has made these on the back of promises made with mates at a training camp?
  • Who has made these to their long suffering other half, or children who have switched off from listening?
  • Who has made these in Dry January?
  • Who has made these to justify the Christmas present which you have promised everyone is going to make you a superstar?

So here is our list, we bet you have some more:

  1. I will stop referring to food as fuel.
  2. I will stop referring to water as hydration.
  3. I will stop wearing calf guards with cargo shorts and flip flops.
  4. I will wear jeans and a t-shirt with no race logo.
  5. I will not wear "sunnies" after dark on top of my head.
  6. I will learn to use the pool clock.
  7. I will learn what my watch can do, at least half of the functions.
  8. I will not wear tinted mirror goggles for a 5am open water swim and wonder why it's black.
  9. I will swim a whole set with no toys, not even a pull buoy.
  10. I will realise that someone tapping my toes in the pool isn't just being friendly.
  11. I will not look at the bottom bracket while wearing a TT hat.
  12. I will go for a run without a watch, of any sort.
  13. I will go for a ride without uploading any data, anywhere.
  14. I will accept that it is ridiculous to carry a plastic box on a bike top tube or handlebars.
  15. I will not vaguely consider a tattoo.
  16. I will look at a map, a paper one.
  17. I will have a glass of wine and a packet of crisps, normal wine, normal crisps.

If you have photographic proof of at least half a dozen of these, post then as part of your rehab to our Facebook or Twitter walls. Well done you!

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