25 AERO UPGRADES
UPGRADING YOUR TRIATHLON GEAR –AND, BYVIRTUE, YOUR PERFORMANCE – NEEDN’T BREAK THE BANK. HERE ARE 25 AFFORDABLE WAYS TO BEAT YOUR PERSONAL BEST…
How to swim, bike and run faster on a budget
01 DISC-WHEEL COVER
FROM £140 A disc wheel works by smoothing out the airflow that’s normally chopped up by spokes, resulting in less drag and higher speeds. Mavic’s Comete tubular disc comes with bags of innovation, craftsmanship and aerodynamics. But sadly, for those on a budget, it costs £1,699. Wheelbuilder’s AeroJacket Disc Cover fitted to your rear wheel fundamentally does the same thing, but for a fraction of the cost. Just see if discs are allowed at races. They are for many Ironman events but not in Kona because of the winds.
£1 Leucine is one of the key amino acids behind muscle growth. Nutrition brands package up the powdered form in wallet-unfriendly tubs, but it’s not needed. Leucine is found in everyday foods like poultry, dairy products and fish. One tin of tuna, for instance, contains 3.5g leucine – a solid amount to start stimulating a stronger you.
£1.40 High-intensity exercise produces huge waves of lactic acid. Lactic acid is recycled for energy but too much and it tips out of the muscle, into the bloodstream and has your brain panicking that your whole system’s under threat. It slows you down and banishes ambitions of a new PB. But alkaline substances like sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine have been shown to neutralise this acidic threat, for a time anyway. Sodium bicarb in the form of baking soda’s the cheapest method of delivery but be warned: some report an upset stomach.
£7 Power development, greater feel for the water, a way to spice up your swim sessions – yes, paddles provide a load of benefits and for all levels of triathlete. Just remember: the bigger the paddle, the greater the resistance, so go minimal if you have weak or injuryprone shoulders.
05 HAND POSITION
£FREE A multitude of factors influence a triathlete’s sustainable bike position, including their size, flexibility, core strength and lung capacity. Every facet of the bike and ride has an impact – and that includes hand position. Wind-tunnel data suggests that an ‘arrow grip’ on tri-bars, with the tips of the fingers touching, gives a 0.54sec saving for every minute ridden at 35mph compared to a rider using a traditional thumbs-inside aerobar grip. Clearly that’s Frodeno-like, but there’ll still be savings at more human levels of speed. Time Saved: 10secs
06 BIKE POSITION
£100 In a power discipline like cycling, it’s clear that measured pragmatism beats random efforts every time. That’s certainly true of your bike position where a perfect fit will not only save you time on two wheels, but on the run leg, too. Professional bike-fitters aren’t as costly as you might
think, either, starting from £100. But you can also roll out the DIY method, comprising a partner, spirit level, Allen keys and felt-tip marker. Check out British Cycling’s website (britishcycling. org.uk) for more information. Time Saved: 6mins over 40km
07 RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION CHART
£FREE The rise of the smartphone and social media’s provided ample opportunity for the likes of Garmin, Suunto and Polar to develop GPS watches and power meters that measure every metric known to man before wirelessly telling all your mates all about it. Maximise their feature list and they’re a great investment. But for many triathletes, a simple rate of perceived exertion (RPE) chart will work just as well. Studies show that there’s an accurate correlation between RPE and heart rate.
08 TEMPO TRAINER
£33.98 Often those triathletes who enter T1 first aren’t necessarily the most powerful swimmers but the ones who are most proficient at pacing. Cue the tempo trainer. This smart little tool clips onto your goggle strap and sends out an audible beep for you to pace your stroke. One beep, one stroke and so on.
09 AERO HELMET
“There’s an accurate correlation between rate of perceived exertion and HR”
£39.99 Okay, compared to vented versions, aerodynamic helmets aren’t cheap. But shop around and you’ll discover teardrop-shaped or blunted streamlined lids that come in under the £100 mark; in fact, Planet-X’s light and fast Carnac Aero Road Helmet is just £39.99.
10 TRIATHLON WETSUITS
£80 The top-end wetsuits of 2018 come loaded with tech and a price tag that often exceeds £600. But, despite their hydrodynamic claims and swiftness in transition, if they don’t fit you properly they’d lose out to a comfortable, well-fitted and far more affordable wetsuit. So as long as you try before you buy, a sub-£100 wetsuit like the one from Dhb will serve you well.
11 TURBO TRAINER
£50 Indoor trainers are a Godsend when either familial (babysitting duties) or climatic (rain that’d sink the Ark) reasons threaten your bike training. The past few years have seen manufacturers throw everything but the kitchen sink at the once humble turbo in search of boosting motivation. But a basic effort and banging playlist should be enough for fortnightly efforts.
£5 Many products come and go, their hyperbolic claims eventually ground down to zero by independent studies. But one that’s survived the test of time, and numerous lab tests, is beetroot. Nitrates within this colourful root veg are converted within the body to nitric oxide, which
13 ROAD BIKE
£349 Training on a hybrid or mountain bike is absolutely fine and a great gateway into our fine sport. A road bike, however, offers improved aerodynamics, swifter handling and the placebo that stems from dropped handlebars over flat bars. eBay and similar platforms offer second-hand bargains, though spanking new alum models are available for less than £400. results in increased time to exhaustion; in other words, you can train for longer. You can buy concentrated forms like BeetIt for £5 per bottle. Time Saved: Improve 10-mile TT power output by 2.7%
14 LEG SHAVING
£2 Anything that causes turbulence is an impediment to speed. Cue epilation, waxing or leg shaving. You might draw admiring/ disproving looks (delete as applicable) on UK beaches but the crew at Specialized’s ‘Win’ tunnel calculated that one of their sponsored triathletes, Jesse Thomas, could cut 7% drag by smoothing out his sticks. Time Saved: 79secs over 40km
15 TRIATHLON LACES
£1.99 The easiest way to save significant time in T2 is with a set of tri laces. While their locking methods vary, the likes of Lock Laces and Greeper replace traditional lacing with systems that clamp your feet in place in seconds. Simple, effective and cheap. Time Saved: 60secs
16 TRIATHLON SADDLE
£65 It’s hard to quantify exactly how much time you’ll save by upgrading to a triathlon saddle as, ultimately, it’s not only about easing you into a more comfortable aero position, but also about opening up your lower torso to conserve energy for the run. However, triathlon saddles like the Tri Elite Flat from Fabric (pictured) often come with a rear bottle mount, which studies show has an aerodynamic edge over traditional downtube bottle cages – around 45g of drag according to Cervélo.
17 PULL BUOYS
£4 The pull buoy – aka, the humblest training tool in triathlon but one of the most important. Simply place this flotation device between your legs to focus your stroke on upper-body strength and technique development. A swim that maximises upperbody strength not only fires up speed but also spares your legs – appreciated with the bike and run to come.
“A laboratory’s worth off sports scientists agree that the one ergogenic aid that elicits a performance benefit is caffeine”
18 ELASTIC BANDS
£1Nothing screams triathlete louder than rushing through transition like a tornado. But how? Simply click your tri shoes into the pedals beforehand, spin the pedals to the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions, and tie two elastic bands through the heel loops. Stretch the driveside shoe around the front mech; non-driveside around the quickrelease and boom – swift foot entry and away you go. Time Saved: 6secs
£2 A laboratory’s worth of sports scientists and nutritionists agree that the one ergogenic aid that elicits a performance benefit time and time again is caffeine. Studies have shown a boost in power, increased fat burning and greater endurance with a caffeinated hit. One cup of coffee’s enough to tap into its performanceenhancing capabilities. Just don’t overdo it or you’ll struggle to sleep and can even suffer heart palpitations.
£FREE Gels, energy drinks, blocks, rice cakes – your on-bike fuelling plan can take many forms. But studies show that the occasional training ride fuelled solely by water can also pay dividends. Training glycogendepleted, where your body’s carbohydrate stores are low, forces your body to rely more on fat for fuel, meaning you can spare precious glycogen for tougher parts of the race like hills. A pre-breakfast ride is the easiest way
TIME SAVED 1:30MINS /1.5KM
TIME SAVED 15-45SECS /40KM
TIME SAVED 45 SECS /40KM
TIME SAVED 20 SECS/ 40KM