Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.

Grey shirt and pink adidas sport trainers

I love fitness and have almost by not thinking about it maintained a level of fitness since my school days. It can be hard however, these days with work to keep on top of it. Especially as you don’t want it to seem like a chore. Here is my little fitness history, routine and some lovely kit I have brought recently.

Fitness History

Sport for me growing up I was indifferent really. I wasn’t the best but wasn’t the worse either. I played in the school netball team at primary school (I still kept my winners medal!), competed in cross-country for my school at 12 and just did the usual PE lessons until 16 when I joined my school’s cross country club. 18-21 I played lacrosse for my University team, an highlight being going to Salou in Spain and playing mixed lacrosse in the National Lacrosse Championships.

Parkrun

I am not a runner AT ALL. As a dedicated cyclist of about five years. Pounding the pavements does not float my boat, however I love Parkrun. I got into Parkrun through my friends and for those of you that don’t know, it is a free timed 5k run. There is no time limit – you just run at your pace. I run it, normally, in about 32 minutes, I do hate running around the route (even though it is beautiful Cannock Chase) and do wonder to myself when is it going to end. However, it gives me a good start to the weekend and I love seeing if I have smashed a PB and where everyone has come in the run.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is the one thing that I keep going back to time and time again. I started circuits after finishing University. I love the variety of changing workout’s every minute. When I moved to where I live now (near Stafford) I go to the sessions run by G Force. G Force is great because each circuit session is slightly different. Not only this but they have started to add tabata training (an high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout) on Sunday’s which I love. There is also Vibe cycle where you essentially cycle to the beat of the music. I have only been to one vibe session which I enjoyed and would go to more but cannot get over from work in time! Each circuit training session is £3 so money is not an excuse. I just love the feeling exercise gives me afterwards.

Cycling

Ahh my biggest love. If you ask anybody who knows me they know I love cycling. I started just after the mighty trio which is Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell- Shand won the team pursuit in the 2012 olympics. Inspired, I dragged my bike down to the local outdoor velodrome and went from there. These days I take my road or mountain bike out. As I live close to Cannock Chase I am very comfortable with the blue and red trails and off trail biking. I love being out in the fresh air and the views of the chase are stunning.

My top tips of getting fit

Get Some Nice Fitness Gear

I have steadily built up a collection of fitness gear throughout the five years since I have finished Uni. Lots of people use old shirts etc but I like to look nice and feel comfortable. You need to be motivated to get fit! I do however hate people that spends loads on kit and then never wear it. I set myself targets such as going mountain biking six times in a row to buy some new mtb trousers etc.

Go With A Friend

It is really daunting at times going along to a session on your own. If you can go with a friend, you can help each other out and not feel as intimidated.

Think Of The Mental High When Things Get Tough

A lot of my fitness isn’t about getting fit physically but it does help my mind. My mind is busy working all of the time so a circuit class or mtb trail is the great way to take my mind off thinking for an hour or two! It can be hard to get motivated at times – but when I think of the natural mental high I get at the end – it is well worth it!

I would love to read your fitness tips and experiences. Leave your comments below x