The novice triathlon trains…

So, with five weeks until the novice women’s only triathlon in Newcastle on March 6 ( and with time to train limited I have done two short one-hour sessions which went like this:

Session 1: 30min ride, including six x 200m intervals on a slight gradient with 200m recoveries up Kilgour Ave, Bar Beach. This worked out to be roughly 25 seconds harder and 50 seconds recovery. 10min run x 20seconds hard:40sec easy at Empire Park. Ride to Merewether Oceans Baths for six-lap swim. Cruisy ride home.

Session 2: 20min ride, including 10 intervals at Townson Oval of 200m harder:200m easier. 10min run, consisting of 10 intervals x 20seconds harder:40sec easier. Easy ride to Merewether Ocean Baths for six-lap. Cruisy ride home.


The Novice Triathlete


It is that time of year again … time to dust off the bike, convince some close friends that doing a local triathlon will not only be fun but also beneficial to all of us health-wise and psych myself up for the swim leg in Newcastle Harbour.

Well, I have to report that I am well ahead of schedule this year. I would say this is the fifth time I have participated in one the Sparke Helmore Triathlon Festival events in Newcastle. The first year, which was about eight years ago, I competed with a work colleague in a team. That was a great way to get a taste for triathlon events and was also a nice team-building exercise for the workplace and I highly recommend doing your first event this way.

After that, I branched out into the solo section with a few friends and had heaps of fun. Don’t get me wrong though – there was some pain along the way, but when I crossed that finish line I felt a real sense of achievement and found myself already thinking about the next year and how I might improve my times.

Two years ago I did a triathlon in the first trimester of pregnancy then last year I participated, and I emphasise the word participated, in the same ladies only mini triathlon three-and-a-half months after having our third child.

This year I am going back for the women’s only triathlon of 300-metre swim, 15-kilometre cycle and 4km run. It is an excellent starting point for those wanting to give a triathlon a go. You can do this event as a team also, if you so wish.

Anyway, it is on March 6, 2016, which is five weeks away. Just five weeks! I hear you. But I think you can still get some good training in before it starts, and that is what I am planning to do when time allows. I am going to post some of the sessions that I am doing to get myself ready for the novice event, and although I am a qualified personal trainer I am not a triathlon expert so these sessions are just a novice’s guide on how to make things feel a little easier on race day.

So, stay tuned for some session guides and hopefully I will see a few of you on race day for a bit of fun and fitness. And honestly, when you live in such a beautiful place like Newcastle, why wouldn’t you want to get out there and exercise! We are very lucky.


30:30 final instalment

Monday, January 25: Flat interval session (Townson Oval is perfect for this)

(30 minutes continuous x)

400m easy

100m hard: 300m easy

200m hard: 200m easy

300m hard: 100m easy

400m hard

Tuesday, January 26: 30 minute swim/walk in water

Wednesday, January 27: strength and cardio combo

3 sets x (10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups/rows, 2min run/walk)

3 sets x (10 lunges, 10 bicep curl with shoulder press, 10 tricep, 2min run/walk)

3 sets x (10 Ab curls, 10 glute bridge, 30-60 second hover)

Thursday, January 28: 30min cycle/bike class

Friday, January 29: 15min stretching and 15min core work

Saturday, January 30: strength and cardio

20 minutes x (10 squat with press, 5 push-ups with 10 mountain climbers after each push-up, 10 dead lifts with 2 pull-ups/rows on each dead lift, 10 lunges with bicep curls, 10 lunges with tricep)

10 minutes x run or walk intervals. 20 seconds harder, 40 seconds easier.

Sunday, January 31: 30min run/walk


30:30 sessions continued

I have found fitness to be a very personal thing. Everyone is different and will not like, nor see results, from the same exercise regime. Find what works for you and stick with it. Here are some more of my favourite sessions in a sample weekly fitness program:

Monday, January 18: 30 minutes easy cardio.Walk, cycle, swim, jog.

Tuesday, January 19: strength and cardio (set up two cones 30-40m apart. you will run up and back between these cones after each strength exercise below)

10 minutes continuous x [5 squats, run between cones, 5 push-ups, run, 10 lunges, run, 5 pull-ups/rows, run]

10 minutes x intervals. Do a continuous cycle of harder effort 10 seconds followed by easy effort 20 seconds

Repeat the first 10 minutes of the session.

Wednesday, January 20: stretch and core work or a yoga session

Thursday, January 21: Hill intervals (so much fun!)

Memorial Drive in Newcastle is perfect for this. Start at the bottom of Cooks Hill Car Park. The session comprises five intervals, getting shorter with each.

5 minutes hard effort uphill: 5min hard downhill; 4min up: 4min down; 3min up: 3min down; 2min up: 2min down; 1min up: recover down to start

Friday, January 22: 30min cardio of swim, cycle, easy jog, walk and 10min of core work.

Saturday, January 23: Time to relive your ’80s and ’90s aerobics days with a 30min strength and cardio circuit. Work each station 45 seconds then have a 15 second rest before moving on

  1. squats
  2. 10m running backwards then forwards shuttles
  3. push-ups
  4. skipping
  5. dead lifts
  6. mountain climbers
  7. rows/pull-ups
  8. step-ups
  9. run 20m shuttles
  10. hover

Sunday, January 24: 30min walk, cycle, rowing or swim

30:30 sessions Jan 11-17, 2016

Keep your health and fitness goals for 2016 on track with some challenging but hopefully rewarding sessions. Here are some if you are looking for ideas:

Monday, January 11 – strength and cardio

5min warm-up with range of motion stretches

Find a set of stairs for this one.

10 minutes x [10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups/rows, 2 sets of stairs] and 10 minutes x [10 biceps curl with shoulder press, 10 triceps dips, 2 sets stairs]

5min cool-down and stretch


Tuesday, January 12 – cardio

Choose between 30min x light cycle, swim, walk or jog. You could also combine them for a mini triathlon workout (ie. 10min swim, 10min cycle, 10min jog


Wednesday, January 13 – intervals

30min continuous x [hard 15sec: easier 45sec; hard 30: easier 30; hard 45: easier 15; hard 60: easier 60. Go back to start and keep going for total workout duration of 30min]


Thursday, January 14 – stretch

30min stretch, yoga, swim or pilates


Friday, January 15 – strength, cardio and swim

30min continuous x [10 squats, 10 push-ups, 20 lunges, 10 pull-ups/rows, 20 mountain climbers, swim or walk in water for two laps. Go back to start and repeat]


Saturday, January 16 – cardio combo

Choose three cardio exercises and do two rounds of five minutes each. (ie. 5min rower, 5min treadmill, 5min cycle then go back to start)


Sunday, January 17 – intervals

20min x [harder 60sec: easier 90sec

10min x [run hard 100m, walk or light jog recovery


Five ways to keep your fitness goals going

Setting new goals is easy, it is keeping them that is hard.

You wipe the slate clean at the start of a new year and usually get into achieving a set of goals with much gusto. But as the weeks begin to click by and a bit of normality returns after the Christmas-New Year period then it can be hard to maintain the enthusiasm you started the year with.

But do not give up on yourself yet. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself motivated.

  1. Get a fitness diary. Start the week by writing down the sessions you plan to do that week and tick them off as you go. If you do not do a session make yourself put a big red cross through it.
  2. Enlist a friend. There is nothing like peer pressure to keep you on task where your fitness goals are concerned. Arrange to meet each other for some tough workouts and tell yourself you will be letting the other one down if you pull out.
  3. Enter an event. Doing this will keep you motivated to train as you will want to be prepared for it. It might be a running event, it might be a triathlon, it might be to play sport this year and be fir for it.
  4. Put yourself on a fitness points system (ie 10 points per session completed) and when you reach a certain amount of points reward yourself with something – maybe a massage or perhaps some new training gear.
  5. Turn up. Tell yourself you are going to at least turn up to your sessions, even if you do not feel like doing it. Once you are there, most times you will end up doing the session anyway.

30:30 Sessions for Jan 4-10, 2016

Looking for some fitness session ideas to keep you achieving your 2016 fitness goals, then keep reading. Here are 30-minute sessions for the week of January 4-10:

Monday, January 4 – Strength and cardio combo

(Set up cones for 10m, 20m and 30m run/walk shuttles)

25 minutes continuous x the following:

5 squats, run to first cone (10m) and back to start;

5 push-ups, run to second cone (20m) and back to start;

10 lunges, run to third cone (30m) and back to start;

5 pull-ups/rows, run to second cone (20m) and back to start;

10 mountain climbers/shuffles, run to first cone (10m) and back to start;

Finish with 5min of core work

Tuesday, January 5 – 30min cardio

Choose between 30min light swim, cycle, light jog/walk or similar

Wednesday, January 6 – 30min intervals

30min continuous x [1min harder effort, 2min easier effort]

Thursday, January 7 – 30min flexibility

30min stretch session, yoga or swim

Friday, January 8 – 30min strength and cardio

20min continuous x  [10 squats, 10 push-ups, 20 lunges, 10 pull-ups/rows, 2min running/walking]

10min core work

Saturday, January 9 – 30min cardio

30min x light swim, cycle, run/walk, rowing or combo of a few

Sunday, January 10 – 30min intervals

30min continuous x [90 second harder effort, 90 second easier effort]


Why a balanced approach beats a 30-day challenge for me

In an attempt to keep myself motivated to do some form of physical activity every day through the festive season I decided to take on a daily burpee challenge for the month of December. I had heard heaps of people talking about different 30-day challenges they had taken up but then invariably stopped midway through, and I now know why! I thought I would start with two burpees on December 1 then add two each day until performing 62 on the last day of the month. This seemed like an achievable challenge as I found burpees quite enjoyable in a weird way and I knew they would be doing me a lot of good in a short amount of time as they work many muscle groups. But what I did not foresee was the heaviness that would build up in the legs, shoulders and shoulder blades from the repetitive movement each day. I made it to the end of the month but was glad it was over and have vowed never to take on such a challenge again. The positive was that it did make me do something every day – it served as a reminder to be active daily. But from now on it is back to a balanced approach to fitness. Time is the biggest hurdle for me, but I am going to try to get at least 30 minutes of fitness into each day.

30:30 Session for Jan 3, 2016

30 minutes of cardio of your choice. If you are sore after yesterday’s session then a swim may be in order. Other options are a 30-minute jog, run or cycle. If you are at the gym, try 10 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes on the rower and 10 minutes on the treadmill. Add in a warm-up and cool-down.

30:30 Session for Jan 2, 2016

Looking for inspiration? Start your fitness campaign with a 30-minute cardio-strength combo workout:

30 minutes continuous x [20 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups/rows, run/walk 400m, 20 lunges, 10 biceps curl with shoulder press, 10 triceps extension, run/walk 400m]

Add a warm-up with range of motion stretching and cool-down with static stretches