Top 10 Triathlons to do in Scotland

So the season is still in full swing but athletes always like to plan ahead and think about next year. I have compiled a list of 10 races that I feel are really worth doing. Included are a whole range of races from sprint through to Ironman which will hopefully aim to give you some inspiration to do a race you may never have thought of before. Dates provided are from 2017. If you are thinking of entering, then be quick as a lot of these races will fill up quickly.

1) Nairn Sprint Triathlon – 17th September. Growing up just along the road from Nairn this was my home race when I was growing up. A really laid back local triathlon on local country roads and finishing on Nairn’s famous sea front. A great location for a weekend getaway to the highlands.

2) Stirling Sprint Triathlon – 4th June. The biggest sprint distance race in the country and has been on the go since the late 80’s. Superbly run by Stirling Triathlon club. Great atmosphere, music and commentary by the famous Graham Coull calling you across the line.

3) Aviemore off road Triathlon – 6th August. A challenging off road triathlon in the heart of the Cairngorms which offers a short and long course to suit all abilities. Again great for all the family for a short break away.

4) Craggy Island off road Triathlon – 7/8th October. This race is so popular it is held over 2 days to allow more athletes to take part. A unique race where athletes swim from Oban over to the small island of Kerrera to then mountain bike and run over the rugged island. A must do race and there is also a kids race too.

5) Aberfeldy Half Ironman – 20th August. A challenging Half Ironman race that has been going for 20 years. Superbly organised and even better scenery. Another must do race.

6) Gullane Olympic Triathlon – 29th July. A classic Scottish race. One of very few Open water sea swims, it provides a unique challenge to athletes.

7) Celtman Xtreme Ironman – 17th June. Founded in 2012 this race took inspiration from the famous Norseman Triathlon. Not for the faint heated this race will push you to your limit. Entries are limited and are based on a ballot system.

8) Huntly Standard Triathlon – 24th September. This race brings back memories to my youth and it was a race myself and Fraser did often growing up. There is also an option of a Novice & Sprint race in July.

9) Mid Argyll Triathlon – 24th September. A pool based Sprint race set in an idyllic part of the country. If you are looking for a laid back race then this is for you.

10) New Years Day Triathlon – 1st January. A classic Scottish race! You have to do this race at least once. Set around the famous Arthur’s seat it is a challenging race, along with whatever the weather decides to throw at you. Make sure you wear enough clothes for the bike. There is also a kids race so the whole family can take part.

Happy Racing!

Top 5 tips before your first race

Whether you are getting ready for your first race or you haven’t toed a start line for a while then here is some advice that can help you prepare for the race and enjoy the day.

 

1) Be content with the training you have managed to complete- Don’t stress with what you haven’t done. There is nothing you can do about it now. You will be amazed at what you can do on race day even if you have missed some key sessions on the way. Stay positive and do your best.

 

2) Be Prepared & have a check list– We are all busy and things tend to get left to the last minute. But try and organise all your race kit in plenty time so you can relax the night before and certainly not panicking on race morning looking for your goggles or your race belt. Also, referring back to one of our previous posts on rookie mistakes http://newtriathlon.com/top-5-observations-from-ironman-uk-rookie-mistakes/, try and give your bike a service in the lead up to the race. At least give it a clean!

 

3) Read pre-race information- Make sure you take the time to read any pre-race information that is either sent out by the organiser or on their race website. This can save a lot of hassle on race morning and will make you calmer on the day. If you can recce the bike course that is a bonus.

 

4) Bring your own track pump– I have been to many races and I see this all the time. Athletes running around at the last minute asking to borrow a track pump. Stress you don’t need before the start.

 

5) Stay calm & enjoy the race– You don’t race for it to be torture, you race because you want to push yourself and be the best you can be on the day. Just don’t forgot to smile and enjoy the experience.

 

Good luck if you are racing this weekend!

Ironman UK-Reflections from the Roadside

It has been 4 days since Ironman UK has come and gone. I am sure most athletes who took part will have done the usual post race analysis, comparing themselves to club mates and fellow competitors who they know were racing. For many, it will be a spring board to further races, for others it will be a box ticked never to be repeated again! But for all who managed to get across the finish line to hear those famous words- Well done and don’t underestimate what you achieved out there.

For myself, I was race support for Fraser. Assisting in any way possible before, during and after the race to make his job all the more easier. I love going to races and being part of the action. You can go through a whole myriad of emotions during the course of the day and it is really important how you manage them in order to be as useful as possible to the athlete you are supporting.

Unfortunately Fraser didn’t have the day he was hoping for. You can read his own words about the race here http://www.frasercartmell.com/ironman-uk-bolton-2017/

However, you can learn a lot about yourself on days like these and getting to the finish line is sometimes even more rewarding than when you are having a great day. It was even more important for how I conducted myself on the course and how I presented myself to Fraser every time he saw me. Of course I was very disappointed for Fraser that his day had gone south very early in the race. But the key was not to let him see that disappointment or frustration and turn that into positive reinforcement that was going to encourage and motivate him. In my head I was turning my own goal from helping Fraser finish on the podium, to getting him to the finish line as quick as he could. It is certainly a job that becomes easier with experience and knowing the athlete you are supporting.

It was not only great to be able to support Fraser, but also cheer on so many local athletes who were competing. There were many athletes racing from Stirling & Grangemouth Triathlon Clubs with athletes achieving podium finishes in their respective age groups, brilliant! Finally, congratulations to all the professional athletes who managed to finish on the podium after a competitive day’s racing.

Top 5 observations from Ironman UK- Rookie mistakes

I have just come back from watching and supporting at Ironman UK in Bolton. It is a fantastic achievement for anyone who manages to reach the finish line, especially on such a demanding course. However I observed lots of things during the course of the day that I would not recommend and by making small changes, could turn an already long and hard day into a far more ‘comfortable’ one.

 

1 Wearing your wetsuit an hour before the start of the race- Every time I see this it always baffles me. Make sure you put it on in good time so you are not rushing but an hour (or more) before just isn’t good for you!

 

2 Give your bike a service before the big day- You spend a lot of money entering and preparing for the race but one of the most valuable but overlooked requirements is paying someone to give your bike a good pre-race service. I heard so many creaking bottom brackets and skipping gears throughout the day.

 

3 Have enough air pressure in your tyres- It sounds simple but having your tyres at the correct pressure could save you a lot of time. Again I saw lots of athletes bouncing around on what looked like 60 psi, rather than a firm 100 or so.

 

4 Get set up well on your bike- This doesn’t have to be an expensive bike fit, just someone who knows what they are looking at. I saw countless athletes with either the saddle too high or too low, utterly negating any benefit that their aero TT bike was giving them.

 

5 Carrying excess weight on the bike- Ironman UK is a tough hilly bike course. So don’t make it harder by carrying 4 full water bottles! You can fill up your bottles or collect new ones at the feed stations. My advice would be start with 2 bottles at most.

Overcoming Negative thoughts in Endurance events

This is a post from personal experience and one I feel is very important in maximising your performance and getting the most out of yourself.

The mind is a very powerful tool and can be as much a hindrance to your performance as it it can be a positive influence. More than likely your performance was limited not by your physical condition but what was going on upstairs.

I recently took on the challenge of riding my MTB the length of the West Highland Way and then back again. A total of 192 miles over some very rough terrain not always meant for a MTB. This was going to take in the region of 30 hours. No easy feat.

Unfortunately I never managed to complete the challenge set. The biggest stumbling block was the thoughts going through my head and trying to keep positive. I learnt a lot and feel this will make me a lot more robust for future attempts. I have highlighted below some of the things I feel could help you and issues I encountered during my ride.

 

1) It is very easy to talk yourself out of doing things. Making up excuses and then convincing yourself it is the right thing to do and take the easy way out. This certainly happened to me during my recent MTB ride.

2) If you have a support team or coach around you make sure they are briefed with the messages you want to hear. When you are tired and you hear a potential weakness from your support team, you will grasp onto that and it will stick with you.

3) You all have to be on the same page with no negative thoughts or potential talk of ‘just see how you feel’ or ‘you don’t have to do this’

4) Try and come up with a way of overcoming negative thoughts. For example have a positive mantra taped to the top tube of your bike so you can always see it.

5) You will go through bad patches- it is natural. However remember that they will not last and you will get through them.

6) Remember why you are doing it. You have a goal and remember how good it will feel when you achieve it.

 

So remember, the next time you are really struggling or want to stop, you are not alone. Find a way to keep going and get the job done and enjoy the experience.

 

Photo credit- http://imacimages.com