Diary of a novice triathlete, part 2: Ursula fights a knee injury


It is four months until Triathlon X. My first triathlon and billed as the world’s toughest triathlon. Really?? ….and starting from my hometown….Ambleside.

So am I nervous? Am I excited? Most importantly, am I anywhere near ready?

I will quote something that was said to me yesterday by a respected ultra-athlete who lives in the village.

“You may have amazing muscle definition and abs that turn heads but if you can’t cycle, swim and run to a high level, you’re buggered!”ursi close up

“You could bluff your way through a mini-triathlon, but there is no hiding places on this one”

“0k, thanks for that” I replied, pulling in my abs.

Being a fitness instructor, it doesn’t matter how many classes I take a week, how many clients I jog around the park with or how many kale smoothies I drink. I have to be flipping good at swimming, cycling and running….and let’s face reality, I am not. So I am trying, yes, really trying to get better at all of them in the time I have between classes, clients, and barking at my kids to get off the X box.

I remember cycling around Denmark in my Gore cycling jacket feeling smug, when a lady 20 years older than me in a floral skirt and basket on her handlebars sailed past me with a wave of her hand. She cycles every day.

Ok, so last time I wrote my blog, I was feeling good. I had just run half a marathon, cycled well and was well on the way to learning good technique in front crawl. Since then I have strained my popliteus, a small muscle in the back of my knee that feels like someone has kicked me. Maybe they have?

I am not happy with my running technique. It feels onerous going slowly over long distances and always seems to result in an injury for me. So I took a session with a natural running coach this week who was brilliant and has given me lots of useful tips on how to make my running more efficient. So when this muscle strain goes (and it will, stay positive) I will run tall with a quick cadence and I will be relaxed, yeh, so relaxed.

I have been practising my front crawl every day…..if only I could have a snorkel and didn’t have to breathe, it would be easy. Conscious breathing is hard for me as breathing is a natural thing that you don’t have to think about it too much in running or cycling. I don’t like thinking too much. It ruins everything. I just like doing!

It has rained a lot in the Lake District recently. When I say a lot, I mean shed loads….but I guess you already know the devastation it has caused. Cycling in the rain is not fun, but better than cycling on ice, so get positive Ursula. Out of all the disciplines, I like cycling the most. Apart from when I get overtaken effortlessly, and then I try to keep up with them and realise I’m not so good after all.

cycling the passes

I have started reading a book about portable nutrition. I don’t like gels and packaged cereal bars. I like real food, so I’m going to get myself a rice cooker and experiment with lots of rice cake recipes until I find one that works for me. I need to be well hydrated and have the right nutrients that don’t give me gut rot but keep me going on this beast of an endurance race. I have an amazing band of friends who will support me and supply me with the food I need. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.

So four months away and mentally I am ready. Don’t tell my swimming coach but I still have it in my head that I will do a fast breast stroke rather than a slow front crawl whilst gagging from drinking Lake Windermere.

Cycling, I am going to keep practising longer distances and do parts of the Fred Whitton route a couple of times before the day. I am lucky as I have plenty of amazing cyclists in the area who can help me get faster.

Running. I need to get rid of the popliteus injury and my massage therapist will sort that out…..and if he says rest, which he will, I will have to ease back. Just a little bit.

I hope you enjoy reading this and that it might help you do things you never dreamed you would do. I am trying. I want to do this. Until next time, thanks for your comments and keep training specific.

Ursula is a personal trainer and runs fitness training sessions in Ambleside: http://www.workoutwarriors.co.uk/


1 thought on “Diary of a novice triathlete, part 2: Ursula fights a knee injury

  1. charlie

    Don’t worry Ursula, you are much more prepared than I for the X in June. I can run and I think I can cycle but so far I can’t front crawl more than half a mile…


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