Wednesday, December, 22 2019

Done all the Christmas shopping?

So this year, I have put my thinking cap on and come up with a list that I think will be useful for any endurance athlete. Some are more suitable for triathletes while others will suit pretty well any endurance sportsman. The prices range from a few pence – good stocking fillers – to serious money. I have listed them in no particular order, I have however used all of them and have found them really useful.

And amazon reckon there are still 3 more shopping days left – allowing for delivery.

Massage balls and rollers

If you haven’t got at least one or other of these you’re missing a trick! You can use them to treat muscle knots and for myofascial release. If you are an endurance athlete, you will undoubtedly have suffered from the former but you may not even have heard of the latter.

The fascia is the layer of tissue that covers every muscle, bone and organ in the body. It helps hold everything in place and enables them to move smoothly over one another – or should. At times it can stop functioning as it should but rolling can return it to working order.

Rollers work well on the large muscles. You can also use balls on these, but they can be a little too intense. However, they’re excellent on the soles of the feet. For reasons that are not well understood, used on the soles, they can relax many of the muscles in the lower body as well as working on the muscles and tendons in the foot itself.

Also, the reflexology claims for the spikey balls do seem to have some good evidence to support them!

For less than £20 you can get a complete set of them.

Elastic laces

If you are a triathlete, these are a must! Properly set up you can have your shoes on and laced as you want them in a fraction of the time it takes to adjust ordinary laces. They also save time crouched down constricting both blood flow and breathing. Around a fiver on Amazon.

Dry Robe

Opposite end of the price, spectrum this coat/garment is a godsend, particularly at the end of a race on a cold or wet day.  Waterproof and Windproof outer and fleece-lined inner will keep you WARM and DRY in any climate! Created specifically for changing Sports kit, but also ideal for the Beach, Camping, even Dog Walking. Not cheap but even at £120 well worth having.

Running belt/Race belt

Race belts are almost essential for triathletes who have to wear their numbers on the back for the bike and the chest for the run. You can combine the standard race belt with one designed to carry some water, gels or other food and any other things you think are essential.

I find the running belt a godsend when training on my own. If I’m out for more than an hour, I can take some liquid with me and also my phone.

Personally, I like the one shown here, I can wear it back to front depending on what I’m doing and it sits perfectly on my hips without bouncing around.

Mobile Apps

Talking of iPhones, the reason I like to take my phone with me is for one particular app; PaceDJ. This plays selected tunes from my phone library to me. Nothing particularly special about that but what it does do is really smart.

I wanted to adjust my running cadence (steps/minute) to 180. So I tell the app that’s the pace I want, it then looks at my library to find suitable songs around that pace. The problem is of course that I don’t have many at exactly that beat. The first cute thing it does is change the speed of the playback to match the desired pace.

But it’s even cuter than that. It will look for songs that are up to twice the pace (or half) you want and include them in the playlist and make suitable adjustments. The result is that I can listen to a John Denver ballad or a fast-paced scots dance tune and still keep a perfect 180 paces to the minute.

No comments on my music preference please.


There are no end of books on Triathlon or running, but the one we would suggest is Zero to Hero, Your First Triathlon. We wrote it!

We set out to write a short pamphlet on doing your first triathlon, but it sort of grew. As we wrote it, we began to realise that there were some very glib guides and some excellent but very complex ones aimed at the “professional or top-end athletes” but none designed to help the novice who really wants to understand how to train effectively for their first race.

The book has sections on training, equipment, avoiding injury, nutrition and preparation for the race itself as well as over 30 training sessions. We have also reduced the price as far as amazon will allow us especially for you at Christmas. You can get it here Buy Book.

A quick miscellany

There are a whole series of things that are always useful, including running caps, running socks, sun/protective glasses (particularly for the bike), even anti-chafe cream. Incidentally, and this probably sounds absurd but I have a couple of pairs of “DeWalt” glasses. DeWalt are power tool manufacturers but the glasses they sell under their name are stylish, comfortable, wrap beautifully around the face and are designed to resist flying junks of stone and metal – they are also cheap, around a fiver and available from Screwfix.

A set of resistance bands

Strength and conditioning training should be an essential part of training, and if you were a professional, you would do it in the gym. But for most amateurs, time is the constraint but with a set of resistance bands you can produce your own home gym saving both time and money.

There are two types, those with handles and those that are simple loops; both are probably worth having.

Bike Fit and Gait Analysis

And finally, two things that can make a huge difference to performance, injury avoidance and pleasure. Thes are two things that many never get around to doing but if you have the opportunity; go for it.

For Triathletes; a proper bike fit. We often spend thousands on a bike and for want of a comparatively small amount more fail to get the most from it. They cost from about £120 up to over £300 but well worth doing. They can make a considerable difference to your time and save repetitive strain type injuries.

The other one is a gait analysis/running technique analysis. Once again, this can make a massive difference to performance, injury prevention and simple enjoyment.

Happy Christmas!