The toughest event in the world: diary of a novice triathlete


I’m going to be 50 this year and I have never done a triathlon.

I’ve been a fitness instructor for 25 years and have done my fair share of squats, lunges and planks, but this is something completely different….

ursula pic

Swimming 2.4 miles in open water when I hate having my head submerged and I can only swim a slow breast stroke. Hmm, interesting?

Cycling up the steepest mountain passes in the UK and covering 112 miles, when I only bought a road bike last year. Hmm, deluded?

Running a marathon up the highest mountain in England when my furthest distance has been 20 miles and that resulted in an Achilles injury. Hmm, insane?

So why? What do I need to prove? Am I capable?

You bet I am!!. In fact, I am super excited about doing all the things I love the most in one day….

Being in the mountains, pushing hard physically…..and being amongst the world’s fittest men sounds like a day out on the hills that I will never forget.

Not only am I a fitness instructor and first class nutter but I am also a Personal Trainer and although I don’t know everything about fitness training, I am a great believer in training specifically for what you are hoping to achieve.

So what training am I doing?…..just in case you are in the same situation as me and fancy giving it a go?

Well firstly, I believe you need a good base level of cross fitness to start with  ie, run a mile in 7 minutes, do 30 push ups, do 500 squats without collapsing and hold a plank whilst the kettle boils.

So hurray, I think I have that.

And secondly, you have to believe in yourself, be disciplined and stay positive.
I don’t take life too seriously so I am going to make sure I enjoy every minute. If I begin to hate it, I won’t do it….but that’s unlikely because I like a challenge.

It’s the specific training I am really going to have to work on……and hard.

I still have to work as an instructor but I will be doing more supervising than taking part so that my energy is saved for the important stuff.

So if you’re interested in the training diary of a very enthusiastic complete novice of extreme triathlons, I hope you will read my weekly blog, and maybe it will inspire you to do something extraordinary too.

12 months prior to the event

Bought a road bike and decided I would try and cycle to Hexham from Ambleside (about 65 miles) with no training. 1. To see if I would like it. 2. To see if I would need to call the Air Ambulance.

Result: I had to pause going up Kirkstone Pass (25%) incline at least 12 times. My pedal fell off going up Hartside Pass (18% incline) near Alston but I never stopped cycling and I still managed to reach my destination….slightly broken.

Everything hurt especially my bum but I was ok. Could I do double that distance?. Em, not at this stage but in my mind, I thought it was achievable, and if you think you can. You can!

Swimming: I love the open water but I hate submerging my head. I prefer to look at the view and not the murky water and the fog in my goggles. I have started swimming lessons to get used to getting my head under water. I picked up breast stroke technique in one day in July 2015… front crawl is another story and I am still struggling with it and it is now February 2016. I will master it. It is just a question of technique.

Running: I only started running 7 years ago. Before that, I danced. I have danced since I was a child. I wouldn’t say I loved running. I prefer walking up hills but hey, it’s great for cardio and it’s cheap. I have slowly been increasing my time on my feet. I’m not bothered about distance, I’m just keeping it slow (talking pace) and gradually increasing how long I run for, so that I don’t affect the Achilles again. I am up to 13 miles and next I will run the route to the bottom of Scafell Pike.

To enter The X see


1 thought on “The toughest event in the world: diary of a novice triathlete

  1. David Ferrier

    A truly amazing blog to which I can relate to in its entirety.. I have no doubts whatsoever that you will achieve this and more… Well done 🏊🚴🏃💪👍👍


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