Posts Tagged ‘tips’

5 things you should know before your first triathlon

April 29, 2019 at 6:46
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Have entered your first triathlon and don’t know what to expect on race day? Here’s our tips for ensuring your event runs smoothly

Keep calm and carry on swimming

I’ve been doing triathlons now for over five years, and I’ve never spoken to a single person who has said, ‘Ohh, I can’t wait to swim, I love it.’ So, try not to stress about the swim because everyone is pretty much feeling the same way.

Best advice for a swimming pool event: keep calm, swim at your own pace, breaststroke if you need to in order to get your breath back but try to keep going rather than stopping because this will help calm you down and  as you maintain some rhythm.

If someone wants to pass you, you’ll feel their hand on your feet. This is NOT them saying,’Oi hurry up get out of my way.’ Most of the time, you hit someone’s feet without realising. Etiquette and expected behaviour is to keep swimming until the end of the lane, and then let them go in front. That’s what they’ll be expecting so DON’T panic about being in their way if you feel their hand.

Likewise, if you’re faster than someone in front, tap their heels and then swim in their wake until they move out of the way at the end of the lane.

Best advice for open water: same thing, keep calm, take deep breaths and start near the back or, better, out to the side but further to the front. This means you won’t have faster swimmers going over the top (and contrary to belief, mostly it’s not done deliberately), but nor will you find yourself waylaid by someone breaststroking which can be equally frustrating.

Get a race belt

If you are used to running, then you may think safety pins are the only way to put a race number on. Purchase a triathlon race belt, which you then safety pin your number to or thread elasticated cords attached to the belt through the race number (you may need a pair of scissors or sharp key to puncture the race number – some event organisers provide hole punchers but not always).

This way, you can spin it around to your back when you’re cycling, and then when you get off, you can spin it back to the front. This is essential to ensure you are not disqualified.

As for the swim, don’t wear your race belt on the swim (you might think, ‘Duh, as if you would,’ but I used to wear mine under my wetsuit until I learned you didn’t have to!). Leave it over your handlebars ready to put on for the bike ride. You will be marked with a permanent marker on your arm so that you are recognised in the pool.

Don’t take lots of things into transition

I’m the queen of taking loads of clothing ‘just in case.’ What this means is that you are stuck by indecision. It’s baking hot but you have arm sleeves? ‘Ooh, I better put them on just I incase it’s cold on the bike.’

Keep it simple, because you generally are totally fine on the bike. If it’s going to be warm, suncream will suffice. If it is going to be cold and wet, arm sleeves that you can pull up or down if you get hot/cold and a cycle jacket (or thin run jacket) will work just fine. And if you do get cold? Cycle harder.

The more you take into transition, the more you panic. I’m the queen of it. Take a look at my looooong transition times.


Triathlon events are always super early, leaving it difficult to know what to eat. But you should eat. All that nervous energy can burn through calories. And also short events such as sprint or olympic triathlon where you think, ‘Oh, I don’t need anything,’ are generally raced faster, because they’re shorter which means that you use more glycogen.

Eat your usual race breakfast and then take a simple carbohydrate form of snack for just before the start – a banana, or my current favourite, a Zenzero stem ginger Veloforte bar.

When you’re on the bike, you should eat too depending on how long the triathlon is. If you’re doing a sprint, think about having a gel just before you get off the bike ready for your run. Or you can also try Tailwind in your water bottle, a carbohydrate the drink that prevents any GI upset. You shouldn’t need anything more than this for this distance.

Go elastic

Change your laces on the trainers to elasticated ones but check them first by running in them to ensure they’re not too tight or too lose. Even if you’re just doing the event for fun, having to stop and tie your shoe laces on before your run when your hands are shaking and everyone’s running around you can leave you feeling like a two year old who can’t do up their shoe laces! Try these Zone 3 Elastic Lock Laces in Fitbitch purple, £7.12


Wishing a fun and inspiring triathlon for our team of 10 women who are undertaking the Steyning Sprint Triathlon on May 5th 2019. If you want to join us, there are still spaces and we have discounts for any FB members.

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The Diary of a Running Mum: Get Your Brave On

September 5, 2016 at 6:29
Posted by Rachael Woolston

If you struggle with the fear of taking on fitness challenges or gambles in life in general, our running mum diarist, Tanya Taylor, 43, has some words of advice..


Eighteen years ago, back when I was a carefree 25 year old, living in a cool rented flat in the centre of town, with a handsome boyfriend and a part time job, my sister died. She died quite suddenly, and in tragic circumstances, leaving behind two young children. My sister, Sacha, had only just turned 30, and her death changed me as a person overnight.

Shortly after she died, I can remember looking in the bathroom mirror and not recognising the face that looked back at me. The weeks of crying and not eating had obviously affected my physical features, but it was more than that, I was different, something deep within me had altered.

The year that followed was full of change. I somehow managed to finish my degree, we moved to a flat by the sea, I married my handsome boyfriend (he proof-reads these…) and we had a baby. I no longer wanted to put things off, I was so deeply affected by the sense that life was so fleeting.

Our wedding had been planned and executed in 5 weeks – me in a £60 sundress and my husband in the first suit he had ever had to buy. I cried on the morning and evening of our wedding, my sister, Sacha’s absence was so overwhelming. Our baby was born several months later at home, the rain heavy outside -“You’re so brave to have a home birth with a first baby”, the midwife had exclaimed- but I knew, nothing would hurt or be as terrifying as losing a sister.


Many years have passed, but that sense of mortality is still very much part of me. I believe in saying ‘Yes’, more than saying ‘No’ – I want to live a full life, to have adventures and experiences that my sister was  robbed of at such a young age. I owe it to her.

So it comes as no surprise, that when there are races or trips planned, I am usually one of the first to put my name down. Am I brave? No, I am naturally cautious and quite fearful, so it takes a lot for me to ‘get my brave on’, and so I still have to use little techniques to help me get my brave on.

My tips to help you feel more warrior than wimp

  1. Get a squad. At Fitbitch, we are so lucky to have so many inspiring women in our running community. Every woman empowers the next. Having someone to enter a race with or try a new running distance or route alongside can really makes a difference to your bravery levels. I wouldn’t have entered or completed Coast to Coast (106 miles across Scotland by MTB, Kayak and foot) if my race buddy J hadn’t been by my side the whole way.IMG_8923
  2. Create your own Talismans. I started using jewellery as a Talisman when I ran my first half marathon, like having a lucky charm. I use a handmade gold bracelet that was given to me on my 40th Birthday by a close group of friends, a gold necklace and my wedding ring. I also carry things my children have made me when I travel. It sounds corny, but it really helps to make me feel protected and strong.
  3. Train. It sounds obvious, but with a big race, if you are physically prepared, you feel more confident. Use a running club so you can train for races together or use a training plan downloaded from the many on offer on the Internet. (Fitbitch running courses start this week and our London club launches at the end of September. Join our London Facebook page for more details).
  4. Positive affirmations. Nike and Lululemon have positive mantras hidden into the seams of some of their sports items. I also love this banner by Secret Holiday – – which will definitely keep you feeling inspired. When I ran London Marathon this year, I copied out a text message from my friend J and had it in my back pocket the whole way. Her text told me I was strong, I was ready and to believe in myself. Just knowing those words were with me helped me so much mentally.
  5. Don’t overthink. Whenever I feel hesitant, whether it’s holding the cursor over a race entry confirmation or hovering at the top of a steep single track path on my mountain bike, I just take a deep breath and say to myself ‘Just fu*king do it’. It is amazing how effective this is – try it!
  6. Look for positives. Two years ago, I took on the challenge of swimming from Brighton Marina to Brighton Pier. I got separated from my group quite early, swimming out much deeper than the others. The currents were not in our favour that day, and the swim took twice as long as we had anticipated. My legs were cramping, and I was starting to imagine there were sharks swimming underneath (I know!!!!). I then looked up, and saw the sun setting just behind the Pier, it was shining right at me. I saw this as a sign that I was going to be okay, and not be eaten by a Great White off Brighton Beach.
  7. Cherish the Challenge. Some of the best experiences are when you are pushed outside your comfort zone. Swimming into a mountain lake with ice around the edges, is still one of the biggest natural highs I have ever experienced. I only thought about the possibilities of hyperthermia afterwards
  8. Less is more, sometimes. I try not to read too many details about the more challenging races I take on before the event. If I had known the last 14 miles of the Coast to Coast race involved running up and down two midge infested mountains (YES ,TWO MIDGE INFESTED MOUNTAINS,) there is a good chance I would have talked myself out of entering. Without wanting to appear sexist, a lot of the amateur race reviews (and worse still, the Go-Pro YouTube videos) are put on the Internet by men. They are pumped up with over-zealous, macho hype and I’m sure that helps a certain type of person (those that wear Ironman Finisher T’s to run local 5k races maybe?) but the reality is, with the correct training, most things are possible. Trust me, when you’re in the race and you’re in the zone, what might have looked terrifying and impossible online, is totally achievable.IMG_8921-2
  9. Products sometimes help. I use Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath & Shower oils (available from Liberty’s ) to rub on my pulses. The blends have names like ‘inner strength’ and ‘support breath’, and are completely addictive. They are tiny bottles and great for travel. I also have 5 Elements Acupuncture before any big races where I am treated for my anxiety levels.
  10. Fake it. If you are still feeling very nervous, fake it. Add a bit of swagger to your walk, smile at your fellow competitors and give them a friendly wink. Focus on calming breaths and your posture – shoulders back, stand tall. I can guarantee, there will be someone else there feeling more scared than you who won’t have read my blog!

I know if my brilliant sister was still here, she’d be the one screaming my name as I run over the finish lines. Her courage in her final weeks was mammoth compared to any courage I’ve ever had to muster up, and I will always be very proud of her, and so thankful to have had her in my life.

Tanya is one of our amazing Running Angel ambassadors who help to keep you company and motivated on our weekly Tuesday members runs. Membership costs just £25 including a race vest Tues evening runs except school holidays. Plus 10% off our season passes.

Year to Date Running Stats

Miles – 933

Elevation Gain 50,581 ft

Tanya’s Top Tracks for getting your brave on

‘Stronger’ – Kanye West

‘Tusk’ – Fleetwood Mac

‘Shake it Off’ – Taylor Swift

‘Fire’ – Kasabian

‘Born to Run’ – Bruce Springsteen

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Three simple ways to improve your running

January 25, 2016 at 6:12
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Pace times, heart rate monitors, cadence and all that jazz. If all the running lingo just confuses you don’t despair, here’s our  guide to five simple techniques that will help you improve your running without the need for any extra kit


The Stalker

Next time you’re running someone passes you a little bit faster, stalk them. Try and stay up with them for as long as you can and when you’re tired out, go back to your usual pace and wait for the next unsuspecting runner to pass. Be aware though, many runners may sense you on their shoulder and decide to speed up.

Puddle Sprints

We’ve all had it happen. You’re walking along minding your own business and some inconsiderate driver speeds through a puddle on the road drenching you. Well, now turn it to your advantage. Next time you’re running on a wet day or evening, keep your eyes peeled for puddles and sprint every time you see one. You not only avoid getting soaked but you work on improving your speed. Alternatively, like our runners did on our half marathon training last weekend, just sprint THROUGH every puddle.

Supermarket Sweep

Got to go food shopping and want to utilise it as a running time? Warm up by running a certain number of blocks away from the supermarket. Now run up and down the streets as you make your way there but sprint on the ‘up’ side of the road, and recover on the down. Perfect interval training.


And for those who are only one week away from completing our Run-uary Challenge, why not incorporate these into your week?  If YOU would like to be part of our Challenge Community, completing a simple fitness challenge in exchange for rewards  SIGN UP before January 31st 

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The FlipBelt, £25

May 7, 2015 at 2:01
Posted by Rachael Woolston

There are few things more annoying than a jingling bunch of keys bouncing  in your pocket when you run. And who EVER manages one of those arm bands which are meant to hold your phone? Here we put the FlipBelt to the test…



Forget the need for zips, this wide piece of elastic sweat-wicking fabric has slits in one side. Slide any objects that you want to carry though the holes and then flip the belt over to keep them safe.

It also includes a key chain so that you can attach them to give you total piece of mind that they won’t somehow jiggle free. So, how did it perform?

I’d been wary of this not sitting properly and moving up and down lots but this was completely secure, even though I managed to squeeze in my IPhone 6 encased in a Survivor case, making it even more bulky. Best of all, it’s so comfortable because it sits around the hips not on the waist for a ‘barely there’ feel.

But how does it fare in races?

I wore this for the London Marathon, but it was a last minute decision as The FlipBelt does not have specific loops or a place for sports gels and so I’d bought a typical waist belt variety.

But one of my friends on the start line showed me how she’d threaded her gels into the openings and just hadn’t flipped it so she could gain access easily as she ran.

‘Don’t they fall out?’ I was dubious but I decided to give it a try, committing the cardinal sin of running 26.2 miles with untested gear (then again, I’d not used gels either but that is for another blog post).

I am so glad I did, because it was brilliant. It was so comfortable, there was no chafing and accessing the gels was easy. The only troublesome part is having to move the belt from back to front to get into the other access points but this was a small price to pay.

I’m now a total convert to this belt. Not only is it functional and performs well in race situations, it comes in a range of colours and looks more like a funky waistband of your clothing than a geeky running belt.

Available from


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How drinking could affect your marathon training

January 10, 2015 at 7:00
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Running a Spring marathon this year? Then think twice before you sink too many cocktails …


We all know that drinking too much can leave you with a hangover and that strange feeling of breathlessness when you head out for your next run. But in terms of protecting your marathon training, what is far more worth realising is just how much it can knock your immune system.

A recent survey at Loyloa University Healthy System in Chicago asked volunteers to down four to five vodka shots in 20 minutes.

Taking blood samples from participants over the next few hours, they then tested immune cells response to harmful bacteria. At first, the immune system ramps up but within two hours, response safe weakened.  Add to that the effect of long training runs on your immune system and it is a recipe for illness.

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How to achieve your race target

February 7, 2014 at 4:41
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Stay relaxed on the start line – run happy

Worried about not getting your race target or worse, not even finishing? The key to success and running happy on race day is all in the mind…

Don’t worry, we’re not about to get all Uri Geller on you. BUT paying attention to how you prepare mentally for a race, is just as important as your physical training and what you eat the morning of the race.

‘Negative thinking is natural, and the only difference between those with winning behaviour, is how you nullify it so it doesn’t preoccupy you,’ explains Yehuda Shinar, Think Like a Winner, £12.99 (Vermillion), who worked with the England Rugby team to help them to a World Cup victory in 2003.

Shinar recommends: ‘In the case of running, each distance has its own set of rules about how you should train, and another set that each person will learn through their own individual training.

‘Focus on these rules and write a goal plan, detailing what you are going to do at each stage of the race.’

By writing a plan, you can be prepared in advance for every eventuality to help prevent anxiety.

And when it comes to the pressure of trying to achieve your race goal,  overcome this by preparing three race goals.

One is a time that you should be able to get without too much trouble,  another a time that you know you can get, like a recent PB and the third, your ideal, dream goal.

Every mile or so, readjust according to these targets and how well you feel like you are runinng.

With this tactic, you are more likely to stay relaxed because you have prepared and have control over the outcome

So, whether you’re running the Brighton Half Marathon in a week’s time, the marathon in April, or even your first ever Parkrun, take time out to prepare mentally and you’ll run happy.



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