Triathlete’s World Fab Four Results

This year we followed four Olympic-distance newcomers as they trained for the Virgin Active London Triathlon, using TW's 10 Week Olympic Training Schedule. Now we can reveal how they fared on the big day and whether or not they acheived their race goals. 

If you're thinking of taking on an Olympic-distance event or just in need of inspiration, catch up with their training diaries and their invaluable race day tips.

Visit the forum threads:

Read our 2011 Virgin Active London Triathlon race report.

Kate Kendall

Name: Kate Kendall (MintyFresh)
Age: 26
Occupation: Senior sales executive
Sporting Background:
Former county-level swimmer
Goal:
Rediscovering my love of competition

Get involved on Kate's forum thread.

The Race

Time: 3:13:49

The race went really well and was a great experience for me. Doing the Mencap swim was a nice way to begin my tapering period. It gave me a really good indication of how things would work on the day. I was ready to do it. I don't think my body could have taken another couple of weeks of intensive training.

I decided not to go to the front of the swim; I was a little worried I'd burn out because I didn't have my pacing quite right. I had a problem in transition: I lost my bike. In spite of all the tips I'd been given about how to find my spot, I spent about 45 seconds trying to locate my bike.

We started about 40 minutes before the sub-2.30 athletes, so after a while there were lots of people going faster on the bike than I was. I had to keep reminding myself that it was my own race and that I wasn't trying to keep up with others.

I tried to keep my competitive streak in check, but there were still certain points when it reared its head. If I saw someone flagging, I thought it might be a nice confidence boost if I went past them.

I think I was a bit cautious because I didn't want to go too hard. Now that I know my body can take three hours of continuous pushing, next time I'll push myself harder.

The crowd support really did help. I'm truly grateful that my friends and family were there at certain points of the race. It helped lift my spirits and pushed me on. When I reached the bike turnaround at Westminster, I heard people calling my name. It wasn't until I finished the race that I realised it was my family, who had just by chance come out of the tube and stopped there. That was a highlight of the day.

I was also running alongside Sky Draper [British Triathlon's Female Junior Triathlete of the Year in 2010] at one point. That was quite weird.

I think I got my nutrition spot on. I definitely took people's advice when they said train with your nutrition as long as possible and get used to it. Come race day I didn't feel that I was lacking energy.

I remember doing a little bit of a sprint finish. I was relieved and a little shocked that I'd made it to the end, but I also had a great sense of achievement.

At first I thought, 'I'm never doing that again,' but two days later I've already turned around to five people and told them I'm going to be doing more. I would encourage everyone to do a triathlon at least once.

The time was OK. I would have liked to have gone under three hours, but taking 13 minutes off three hours is something I can train for next time. It gives me something to work towards. It was such a positive experience.

July diary

Things are going really well and the time is flying by. I struggled a little bit to begin with this month. I pushed myself into training long before the 10-week programme began, so I lost my enthusiasm for it a little. I had to push myself to go training and I found that I wasn't really enjoying it.

I took a couple of days off and I do feel a bit more optimistic about it all. I went to a hen party in Liverpool recently and thought about training while I was there. When I saw the location, at the docks, I thought, 'I should have brought my trainers with me.'

I also did the Runner's World Trailblazer 10K at the Forest of Dean, which was really good. My sister came along and ran with me, which was nice. It was a hilly course and quite different from running on the road. The Trailblazer also gave me a really good idea of the kind of struggles that I'm going to face and how I'm going to feel at the end of the triathlon because it's a much harder run.

I've begun to feel some ankle strain, so I am looking at strength training. I've learned that I do need to vary my
training a little bit and add in things like spinning classes, body pump and yoga. There are a lot of things you can
do to help strengthen and train your body. I knew that it wasn't the best idea to keep running with the ankle
strain so I decided to concentrate more on swimming.

I've had the chance to use paddles and do some upper body work. I'm still feeling on track and had a really good swimming session recently - I felt really energetic.

The training guide is very good because I can see what I need to do and how long I need to do it for: it's very well structured. I'm pushing myself towards five sessions a week. I think you get out what you put in so, hopefully, all the dedication will mean I'm really happy with my time and performance on the day.

I have to watch carefully that I pace myself. In training it's fine but I do find that when I have a race, all that tends to go out the window and I set off too hard. Thankfully, I still have time to address that issue.

I'm taking a week off at the beginning of next month and heading to the Cotswolds to do some intensive training, and I'll go to the water park to swim. A girl on the Triathlete's World forum said she'd come down and swim with me. It really shows the camaraderie of triathlon and it's great to have that support.

This month will be about staying consistent with the programme, which will take me through to the race. It is dawning on me now - race day does seem to be coming around awfully quick. It's a little scary but it's good because it's keeping me disciplined and I want to see improvements now; as I do it keeps pushing me along."

June diary

I was very optimistic to start with and now I can see what the positives and negatives are as I go through the training. With my swimming I'm tending to work on the technique and speed. I want to make sure it's the quickest of my disciplines. It was interesting for me to see the differences between open-water and pool swimming.

I couldn't believe how different the technique was: I now have to think about the last 16-17 years of swimming technique I've done and do something different. It's quite good that I know now what I need to do in my training and I'll definitely attend more open-water sessions.

I think the bike is becoming my demon: it's more difficult than I thought. As the weather improves I think I'll need to get out and about and maybe concentrate on my bike training.
I thought I'd have to do the most work on my run but that has not been the case; it's nice to think it's actually going to be a lot easier than I imagined. I've covered the distance now so it's all about getting my time down and doing the brick sessions so my legs become used to that heavy feeling from running straight off the bike.

I'm being quite disciplined in my training. I'm trying to cut down on the social side of things. I try to fit training around what I do at the weekends. My parents live in the Cotswolds so I'll probably take advantage of that for cycling and running.

We had a couple of leaving events at work, which gave me the opportunity to have a bit of a blowout and relax a little. Now I'm right back on track.

I'm probably eating a lot more than I normally do but it's working because I've got the energy to do a session after a day's work. I've discovered that as long as I'm enjoying it, I'm happy to give that extra time to training.

We're holding a number of 10K trail events at work so I've put myself down for the last one. It will be a nice way to be a little bit more sociable as well as do some extra training. I've got another 10K one month later and then a mini-triathlon, which will give me a little more insight into how things will work on the day.

People keep saying I'm amazing for doing this but it's nice to have the dedication to apply yourself. I've already put in an application for the London Marathon next year. When you want to challenge yourself, I think triathlon is the perfect choice. Watch out Ironman."

May diary

"I used to swim for my county so I'm hoping that will give me a good foundation. Most triathletes come from a running background so, with any luck, the fact that swimming is first will help me in training and on race day.

I haven't done any recent races so I'm coming into this unprepared. I'm quite excited to see how my training develops. I think if I commit to my training plan and give it my best, then I might be quite surprised by what I can do.

I know I can do the swim and the bike should be fine: I did the London-to-Brighton bike event, which was 50 miles. But I just don't know what I'm going to do on the run. I'm a little worried about how my legs will feel.

Finding time to train is difficult because I have a two-hour commute to work. At the weekends I'll be able to do long training sessions. I have access to a gym at work so I'll try to get in a session a couple of times a week. 

I'm really lucky that I live in the country; there are plenty of routes I can use - it's just about getting out and exploring. If the weather stays sunny it will be perfect.

I was quite lucky that I swam when I was younger - it helped in terms of muscle development and I'm not carrying any injuries. However, I am addicted to wearing heels so I'm expecting a few niggles on that side of things. But I am sure there are ways to combat it.

As most of my training will be in the evenings I will need to stay focused. When I get home at 8pm, I know
I can still get out and do an hour's training. I am quite an early bird so at the weekend I will get out early.  
I'm not going to put the pressure of a target on myself and so at this stage I haven't thought about times. But I definitely do have a competitive streak.

Apart from a big bag of jelly babies, the key to finishing will be knowing that I can do the race in a decent time. I want to train for distances longer than those in the race so I know I can do each one comfortably rather than struggling on the run. 

My friends and family have been supportive and say I'll definitely be able to do it. I'm not sure they have thought about what exactly I'm doing and how physically demanding it is. But they are 100 per cent behind me. The weeks to come will probably show how supportive they really are, especially when I'm tired.

I think this will be a good stepping stone to further events. I have a general interest in fitness so pushing myself to the extreme is something I'm relishing."

James Fricker

Name: James Fricker (Jimmy F)
Age: 24
Occupation: Advertising executive
Sporting background: Rugby, football, London Marathon
Goal: To master the swim

Get involved on James's forum thread.

The Race

Time: 2:38:43

The race was great, although I had a drama in the build-up to it. On the Tuesday before, I did a light sprint session and then, when I was walking back to the shower, I stood on a sewing needle, which had to be surgically removed.

That stopped any activity up until the race, so I just took it easy and hobbled around. It was touch and go whether I would actually do the race. Swimming in the Thames with an open wound isn't the smartest thing in the world. They gave me some antibiotics and a tetanus jab, so I 'manned up' and went with it.

The race itself was really good. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I'm really glad I decided to do it. My mum was the only one who said I should definitely race because I'd done all the training. I listened to her advice for a change.

The swim was good - it was comfortable, as well, and I never thought I'd get to that point. I think I paced it really well - I should have pushed it a little bit harder but you learn about those kinds of things for the next time.

The first transition was fine; I went in fairly quickly, got the wetsuit off and then got out on the bike, which was just great; just over an hour riding around London, staring at the tourists as they went by, was brilliant.

I wasn't looking forward to the run and I was intrigued to find out how it was going to go. As soon as I set off I knew it was going to be uncomfortable but not impossible. Out of the whole race I think the run was the bit I enjoyed  the most because it was when I felt strongest.

I had to be realistic about how I was going to perform on the run but I passed a few people and that gave me a huge confidence boost at that stage. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Nutrition was fine. I didn't really have a strategy at all. I just had a gel after the swim and another one on the bike route, and water, and that seemed to work fine for me.

I've got to do something else now. It's nice to finish, but the challenge was to get through the swim. Once I'd done that I knew I could get through the rest of the race, so I just started thinking about what I'm going to do next.

I've got a half-marathon booked in for October and then next year I'll focus on some of the longer stuff, maybe a half-Ironman and some ultra-runs.

I was reasonably pleased with my time. I was pleased to start the race. I'd have liked to have gone a bit quicker, but it gives me the benchmark for next time. I was just happy that I got through it and that my foot didn't fall off in the Thames.

July diary

I've been spending a lot of time in the open water this month. I had a hairy moment during one swim, when my goggles snapped, so I had to swim back 'blind'.

I also experienced my first puncture during a training ride. I should have fixed it myself but instead I headed straight to Halfords. I have my first race coming up, so I wanted to make sure it was fixed properly. It has helped me think about making sure my kit and equipment are in good working order. It's been a useful lesson that I've learned the hard way.

I'm feeling prepared for my race and I'm looking forward to it. This will be the fifth time I've been in open water and it's all good preparation for the big day in London.

Swimming is starting to feel a little easier now. I'm becoming used to the wetsuit and breathing patterns. I haven't learned any bad swimming habits because I haven't been swimming long enough. I'm now finding the open water easier than being in the pool.

I'm also enjoying cycling a lot more. I suppose the best way of putting it is that I feel a lot more in control of the bike. I took it to my local shop and had it properly fitted. I have no excuses now; I'm in the correct riding position so it's down to me.

I've settled into the training programme. I'm not doing weights at all now; I've immersed myself in the cardio. I feel quite a way ahead of the programme because I've been following it for longer. I'm just going to push myself harder and after my race I'm going on holiday for two weeks. I'm going to the US and doing a bit of a tour: San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas and Miami. I'll be doing light swims and some recovery work on my runs while I'm away.

I tried Bikram yoga. It's something that's always intrigued me because I'm not very flexible. My mum is a physiotherapist and she said my swimming and running would improve if I became a little more flexible around the shoulders, so I thought I'd give yoga a go. It was a good experience and I will go again. I can really recommend it. I felt really good the next day, all springy and bouncy.

The training sessions have not started to feel easy because I keep pushing myself. I'm starting to become used to the feeling of wobbly legs heading onto the run and the disorientation when I jump out of the lake. Fingers crossed, everything will come together for my race and then it's just about pushing on to the Olympic distance."

June diary

My training is going really well. My swimming has improved and I'm starting to enjoy it a lot more. I've focused on my technique a lot. In about eight weeks I've gone from being
able to swim literally two lengths to swimming the full 1500m. It's a huge improvement and I'm happy with that, although I do feel quite slow.

I think because that has gone well it's given me more confidence for swimming in open water. The open-water session was a very useful exercise. Your body reacts completely differently: breathing patterns and stroke styles have to change. All the work I've done in the pool has given me good base fitness for open water but the technique is completely different. I expected open-water swimming to be easier but it's just a case of getting in the water a few more times to adjust. It's something you definitely have to do before jumping into a race.

I'm enjoying the running, as always, but the bike has been more difficult than I realised. I'm getting used to new aches and pains. When I got off the bike from one ride my hands were hurting, my neck hurt from the lower seating position and my back hurt from being crunched over the handlebars. The next step with my coach will be to go through the bike setup. The routes where I live are hilly, too; not undulating, just hilly.

I anticipated that the brick sessions would be quite tough and they have been. It's been nice, though, to finish a session where, rather than just doing my usual 6-10-mile run, I've done something else as well. It's nice to know I've doubled up and it feels like a proper workout. The good weather has made me want to get outside as much as possible. I remember doing my marathon training in winter months: it was horrible having to get home and then go out for a long run. It's much better when the sun's out and everyone's smiling.

I now feel that I can eat what I like; I need carbs to get through the training sessions. My body is quite good at processing food efficiently and I don't really store fat - which is annoying because I'm sure it would help me stay afloat. I'll have to make sure after the race that my eating habits don't continue like this. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

I ran-walked the London marathon, in a time of 5:14. It didn't do much for me in terms of training other than putting in the miles but the atmosphere was great and it gave me the hunger for competition so I can't wait for the triathlon. I have a sprint-distance race in a few weeks that will ease me in nicely for the big day."

May diary


"I did a couple of triathlons back in school but they were small: a pool swim, 1500m round the track and the like. But I’ve got an inkling of what I’ve let myself in for. 

When I did the marathon last year I thought things couldn’t get any tougher than that. Triathlon seemed the natural progression. My major concern is the swimming. I’ve done lots of running and I’m comfortable on the bike. But with swimming I feel out of my depth, pardon the pun.

I’m having swimming lessons: I can swim, just not very confidently. I don’t feel I have the stamina in the water that I have on the bike or run. Just being in the pool is a nightmare. But I’m good at getting on with the job. If I can master the swim I’ll have a good chance of doing well, but right now just getting into open water is something I’m nervous about.

The last bit of the London Marathon was the toughest bit of the race. I ran it in 3:30, which I’m quite happy with. But I didn’t get my nutrition spot-on and I conked out about 800m from the finish. I had to crawl over the finish line. I know that feeling now. Getting my nutrition right will be key.

I suppose my social life will go out of the window a bit. My training at the moment is heavily based around the gym so that will have to take a back seat. I’ll need to spend more time in the pool and swap one long run for a bike session.

I’ve broken my collarbone a couple of times and I was worried it might be a factor with the swim. It’s going OK and hopefully nothing will flare up. My hamstrings aren’t great and I struggled a little on the marathon because of that. I’m hoping it won’t be an issue this time.

I’ll be disappointed if I don’t finish the run in less than an hour. I’m not going to set myself a swim target until I have a feel for the open water. Swimming 1500m is going to be a big thing. The bike will also be a learning curve because it’s a road bike and I’ll be doing it after the swim so I’ll be fatigued. I don’t know how my legs will feel after 40K.

I have quite an aggressive training style and I can become hung up on missing sessions. Every session doesn’t need to be as hard as I make it. I feel if I can crack the swim then going onto something like an Ironman is a possibility but that’s a million miles away at the moment.”

Paul Roe

Name: Paul Roe (Thames Gargler)
Age: 33
Occupation: Head of resource management team
Sporting background: Played football for 10 years, regular runner, completed two sprint triathlons
Goal: To feel comfortable in open water

Get involved on Paul's forum thread.

The Race

Time: 2:37:08

The overall experience was really enjoyable. I didn't have a fixed time in mind, but if I'd been offered one below 2:40 I would have definitely taken it, so I'm happy with that.

I thought I would be nervous, but I wasn't; it comes from having done various things in preparation and training, such as the open- water swim sessions and the sprint triathlons.

The first 200m of the swim were grisly. I always expect them to be, in terms of arms and legs all over the place and finding somewhere to swim calmly. You also have to remember not to go off too hard.

But the swim - bearing in mind it was the thing I was dreading - was fine. Even things like getting out of my wetsuit were an absolute doddle. It's strange: I envisaged all sorts of horrendous scenarios, but it was fine.

The bike ride was the highlight for me. It was nice to ride on roads that were closed to traffic. The route took us into central London and that was quite pleasant. Also, I'd actually tapered properly, so I was cycling with fresh legs for the first time ever. I was really pleased with the bike leg because judging from my training I had imagined that it would be my poorest discipline.

Then, within the first couple of minutes of the run, my hamstring seized up and I actually had to stop for a minute, stretch it out, then start again very gingerly, taking small strides. It dawned on me: I'd spent a lot of time worrying about the swimming and cycling, but it was the running, which I'd taken for granted, that caused the problem.

When the cramp kicked in, just being able to complete the race seemed like a big ask. It eventually cleared up and I did my final lap at the kind of pace I'd hoped to run throughout.  

Hopefully, readers will pick up some tips I learned, such as the importance of tapering - it made a huge difference to my cycle time.

Overall, I am pleased with my time, butI know now I want to get below 2:30. I've already started looking at races - I want to press on and shift the focus from just completing a triathlon, which was the goal this time, to doing myself justice.

July diary

It's not been a bad month. I did a half-marathon in Richmond in 1:30:40, within a minute of my personal best so I was happy with that. I also took part in a couple of triathlons: I did the Crystal Palace sprint, finishing in 1:18:43, and then I did a Thames Turbo.

What's been interesting is my position in each of the disciplines. In the Thames Turbo for example, in the swim I was about 70th, for the run I was 69th but for the cycle I was 221st. I'd been for a long bike ride in the Surrey hills two days before so my legs were tired. It will be interesting for me to see what effect properly tapering will have and not having done a hilly cycle ride two days before a race.  

I'm going to get some tri-bars to see if a more aerodynamic position improves things. I've also got to get used to cycling efficiently at a high, sustained pace.

The race was useful for gaining the experience of getting on the bike straight after the pool and running straight after the bike. It also helped me put together the pieces of the jigsaw that are going to make the day go well: what I need; what's going to work for me. I learned that I need to make sure my shoes have a good fit and aren't too loose so they end up rubbing.

I also learned about using the time you have on the bike to take in food - it's so much harder once you're running to be able to ingest anything.

The training plan has been good for checking that the race parts are being covered by what I'm doing. I also get so much out of my running club, the Wimbledon Windmilers. If there was one tip I could give to anyone planning their first triathlon it would be to join a club.  

I've got a 10K soon, which will be interesting because that is the actual run distance in the triathlon and it will be my last event until race day. Races are great but they can actually get in the way of training.

June diary

Training is going fine: I don't feel like I'm doing anything that I wouldn't normally do. I was imagining that it would all change when I submerged myself into a cold, murky lake for our first open-water swim session.

It was a far more useful experience than I had been expecting. There were a lot of hints and tips, which meant I left the one-hour session feeling far more equipped to tackle a triathlon than before. I'd thoroughly recommend it.

I recently took part in the Thames Turbo triathlon, which is a 400m swim, 20K bike and a 5K run. I did it in 1:14, faster than my time last year. It was useful in terms of practising transitions and the like. I need to invest in some new laces: I wasted tons of time fiddling around getting my shoes on. I've done lots of research now so I've learned my lesson.

I've stepped up the distance on the bike ride. I tend to do about 60 miles around the Surrey Hills at the weekends, which is a stunning area, and the weather has been perfect. It's horrendously hilly, though, and I'm relieved to look out my window at work and see how flat London is.

The weather has been so nice that I've done a lot less swimming than I wanted to because, in advance of the open-water season, it seems such a waste to go into an indoor heated pool and breathe in chlorinated air, rather than being outdoors. I'm hoping to do open-water swims every week from now on.

My club practises mass swim starts in the pool, with a dozen people in one lane. That's been very helpful in developing a sense of what it's going to be like and to get over the sense of panic that would otherwise ensue when, just as you're swimming along and about to take a gulp of air, someone inadvertently grabs your foot and you get a mouthful of dirty water instead.

One thing that surprised me was when I cycled home from work and then went straight to a training session with my club. We were doing a pyramid set, where the length of the efforts increases each time. The first two were fine and then I suddenly felt drained of all my energy; there was no discernible difference between my effort pace and recovery pace. That definitely made me think about making sure I've got the right nutrition for race day.  

Since appearing in the magazine I've had an email from a colleague who, unbeknown to me, was keen on triathlons. There are more people at work into triathlon than I thought. It's prompted a few discussions about what people are up to. I'm planning to do a sprint race in a few weeks. I can use it as a stepping stone to see what kind of time I should have in mind and what training to do over the remaining weeks."

May diary


"I started running to stay fit for playing football. My running partner said he was going to do the London Marathon so I decided to give it a go. A couple of years ago I realised the people I was playing football against were 10 years younger than me so I decided I'd had enough. I needed something to fill the void, socially as much as anything else, so I joined my local running club.


They also provided triathlon training, specifically a dedicated swim session, so I started going to that
and getting out with people on long bike rides. Having done two 10K races and a half-marathon, and realising that I enjoyed cycling and that my swimming was improving, it seemed logical to put it all together.

I did two sprint triathlons last year with the swim being pool-based, so I had a nice, gentle introduction to the sport. London will be my first open-water event and my first race longer than a sprint.  

The swimming mass start is definitely my biggest challenge. As far as I'm concerned, once I've survived that mosh pit of elbows and feet at the start, the rest will be easy. I've never had to take off my wetsuit in
a hurry so I don't want to find myself wriggling around the floor trying to get out of it. The bike ride and run don't hold any particular fears. 

As luck would have it, I live on one side of London and work on another so that gives me the opportunity to cycle about 25 miles a day. The most intensive part of a bike ride isn't when you're flying along at pace but when you're starting from scratch. I always seem to do it behind a bus. I run with my club twice a week so my cycle home may turn into a brick session.

One of the reasons I agreed to appear in a magazine was that it would motivate me to avoid looking like
a complete chump. My reputation is on the line now, so I don't want to change my mind or not do myself justice. There are many good triathletes at my club - much better than me - who are going to find it highly amusing to read about me in the magazine. This kind of thing is second nature to most of them but at work there are people and friends for whom doing a triathlon is real eyebrow-raising stuff.

I can see the Thames from where I work and it doesn't look particularly inviting. However, I think the familiarity of the area will help take away some of the anxiety. The fact that colleagues from work will be
there will be another reason to not start choking or speeding up, but to remain the calm and composed person I pretend to be at work.

I don't think my diet will need to change because doing sport every day won't be a drastic change to my life. Knowing how to take on energy before and during the race is going to be the bigger issue.

I certainly think I'll do more triathlons. I don't think I'd do something like Ironman - I'd get too hungry. But knowing that I can do an open-water swim and moving to triathlons that aren't pool-based will be something
I can take away from this experience."

Kate Laurence

Name: Kate Laurence (Kiwi Kate)
Age: 27
Occupation: Marketing manager
Sporting Background: Keen runner, a few sprint triathlons completed
Goal: To master the swim and bike over longer distances

Get involved on Kate's forum thread.

The Race

Time: 2:54:02

The race was brilliant - I loved it. It was terrifying to start with, but I'd already done some races and that gave me confidence. I am pleased with my time. My goal was three hours.

I spent Saturday before the race chilling out and I ate really well. I didn't sleep well on Friday or Saturday but I never felt stressed. I went to my local bike shop for a gear and brake check and I also went through my race pack so nothing would come as a surprise.

Kate Kendall came and found me in the swim assembly and we jumped into the dock together. I made sure I was at the back of the pack, so I wasn't hit or knocked around and could enjoy the race. I thought I would do a faster time, but I was delighted that I didn't panic during the swim.

I really enjoyed the bike. It was a bit weird going around so many roundabouts, but it was really cool going out to Westminster. I'd done quite a few brick sessions because I love running so much. Every time I went for a ride I tried to do a quick run afterwards, so I knew what I was in for. I don't know if it was the adrenaline, but my legs didn't really feel like jelly. I was surprised.

I had quite a few friends in the crowd and I was focused on them, the run and everything else that was going on. On the last lap I realised I only had 2.5K to go and I nearly welled up with tears because I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm nearly there'. It was like finishing my A-levels; the sense of achievement is massive.

Nutritionally, I knew what I could have and what to avoid. I just tried to stay hydrated on the bike because it was hot. Oddly, I drank a lot more on the run - usually I don't drink and can get through two hours, but this time I was grabbing drinks about once a lap.

The satisfaction of having done it is amazing. And I'm already itching to do more. I'm even thinking about a swim race, which I wouldn't usually try.

July diary

Things have definitely been easier this month now that I'm more settled in my new job. I'm finding the time to train and it's certainly been my priority. I'm feeling better, too; I'm about 95 per cent recovered from being sick. My heart rate has been a little higher than normal but it's nothing too bad.

I managed to get to the open-water session, too, and it was fantastic. I felt fine in the wetsuit, was reasonably comfortable in the water and I really enjoyed the training. I wasn't covering huge distances on my first go - we just went over the basics. I'm going to do another session soon, where we'll be doing longer distances. My confidence has improved and when
I actually do those longer distances my mind will be more at ease.

I've been doing as much work in the pool as I can. I want to get to a point where I can finish the swim and feel comfortable.
I'm really enjoying the 10-week programme. I like that there are mandatory and optional training sessions. It means that if unexpected things do crop up, the programme is built to tackle them. I have quite an active social life so it's quite challenging fitting my training around that.  

There are certain things I can already do: I have no problem running 10Ks and I can comfortably swim 1500m in the pool, so
the programme allows me to work on my speed. I'm still a bit anxious about the cycling because there's so much kit to get used to, such as clipped-in shoes. I went to Richmond recently and hired a bike. I went for a two-hour cycle, which was lovely. The bike did have a basket on the front, though.

I've been doing tempo runs and I have my heart-rate monitor, so I've got target zones to help me work on my speed. I'm doing about five training sessions a week.The goal for the next few weeks is to follow the training programme as closely as possible. There's a pool in Tooting, London, that's 90m long and you can wear a wetsuit so I want to try that. I've also booked myself in for a race, a 10K run in Battersea Park, to work on my speed, so that should be a nice one to do."

June diary

I had a good start to my training. I was fitting in my swimming and running. I don't have a bike yet so I've been using the bike at the gym: I know it's not the same as going out on the road. But I started a new job as a Senior Marketing Manager and took a holiday. Aside from hiking up hills in Italian villages I didn't do any training.

When I got back I had to get straight into my new job and I caught a cold. I didn't make the open-water swimming session because I was sick in bed. There is another session soon so I'll definitely go to that. I'm on the mend but I am a little concerned about training. I was on my feet a lot walking through Venice but it's not your traditional triathlon training, that's for sure.

I was fairly relaxed about what I ate on holiday: good cheese and bread. I eat relatively healthily, anyway, and try to have a high veggie intake. But I have a sweet tooth so I'll have to start snacking on nuts when I'm training."

It's been lovely to do the pool swimming. It's quite difficult because you have to find a pool, which is not as easy as heading out for a run. I've also enjoyed heading out with an informal running group at work. I've been running with the boys. They've made me go faster and push myself beyond my comfort zone. It's been really satisfying because they've pushed me to work on my speed.

I did get out on the bike once and I was surprised when I realised how long the cycle will take me: I'm looking at about an hour and a half. I'm still a little nervous about the swimming. I have quite bad circulation and I'm worried about swimming in a cold lake and how long it will take to get the feeling back in my fingers and toes. It will be all good experience.
 
It was really difficult to run over the winter so having the sun up when I go out in the morning is just fantastic. It's easier to wake up and I feel more inspired to go out and do any form of exercise. I'm really looking forward to training in the beautiful parks around London. The running club at work takes us through Hyde Park and past Buckingham Palace: running past the palace every morning is pretty special.

I'm already starting to think about what I'm going to do after the event. I've always wanted to do a marathon so I'm thinking about using the fitness I gain from this as a base to build upon so I can do my first marathon. I've given myself a break but now I'm concentrating on getting better and getting stuck into the training."

May diary

"I used to do a lot of sport at school and as I got older I started doing more running events, half-marathons
and the like. But I have to admit I'm not very good at keeping up my fitness unless I've got something to
train for. I did the Watford Half-Marathon in February but before that I hadn't done an event for a while. My half-marathon personal best is 1:51 so there is room for improvement.

I've done three triathlons but they were small events.  Triathlon gets you out of your comfort zone because you're doing three disciplines rather than one. It's more of a challenge and it's a great way to get you out of bed in the morning.

My target is to finish the race. I will eventually have a time in mind but until I learn more about myself, such as how fast I can swim 1500m, it's too soon to say what that time might be.

Running is something I don't have a problem with. Running after swimming and then cycling will be a little different. I'm quite grateful that I love running more than the other disciplines because it's the last bit, the one that takes you over the finish line. So I get the worst bits out of the way first.

The biggest challenge will be the swim. The triathlons I've done were in New Zealand, so you just swam
along the beach. Anyone who panicked or swallowed a mouthful of water just stood up and caught their breath. In this context 1500m is a long way for me - I don't have a long-swim background and being in the Docklands is not like the beach. You're in deep water - literally.

I love exercising in the morning. I'd normally start work at 7.30am in New Zealand, so to start work here
at 9.30am is a novelty. Even though I've been here for a year I haven't really adjusted, so getting up at 5.30am for a run never fazes me.

I had knee reconstruction following a sport injury so I'll be monitoring that. I snapped a ligament and I can sometimes feel it when it's cold but, other than that, I should be OK.

I haven't splashed out on any equipment yet. When I'm doing daily training or working for a particular goal
I'll make sure I have the right gear. I didn't bring any triathlon-specific clothing with me - it's back home in New Zealand - so I'll need to purchase that. I'll make better plans when I've got all my stuff.

I imagine that I'm going to haul quite a few people into training with me and have them there when I do the race. Some of them think I'm mad because they know I'm not a very good swimmer.

I try to stick to a schedule when I'm training for a particular time or race. My schedule will be followed almost to the letter, especially if there's speed work, endurance or intervals involved, to make sure the balance is right between swimming, cycling and running. 

I haven't thought about nutrition yet but if I'm training to this level I will need to increase my carbohydrates and protein. I've never had too much trouble getting my five a day but I'm also partial to sweets and biscuits, so I think I'll have to curb that tendency and instead eat more bananas and tuna.

Just the challenge of doing the race - the high that you get when you cross the finish line - is very enticing. The thrill of finishing something like that will be amazing, especially because I know the distances will be a big hurdle for me. Gaining the confidence to cycle in London is going to be a big benefit.

It's going to be a lot of fun. The training is going to be great. I'm looking forward to getting out and seeing more of London's sights. The biggest goal for me is to have fun and try something new. And it might be nice to decrease my waistline, too."