Saturday, 18 August 2018

Lactate threshold Cycle Sets

Below I have put together some cycle sessions which I use to prepare for Triathlon races on race week. These are perfect to get your body working hard and also understanding what race pace is. These sessions are in total around 60-70mins long so perfect to do in your lunch break for after work. The aim of these sessions is to get you ready for race season by working at your race pace.

Cadence:(or pedalling rate) is the number of revolutions of the crank per minute; this is the rate at which a cyclist is pedalling/turning the pedals.
Race Pace: The average speed or power you will hold in the required distance of your race

Week 1
Effort Cadence Minutes
Warm up


Prep set



Easy 80 1
max 100 10s
Easy 80 1 Prep Set x3
Main set   Race pace  90 3
Easy 90 2
Hard 90-100 1
Easy 2
Main Setx4 
Cool down 15
Total time 68

Week 2
Effort Cadence Minutes
Warm up


Prep set



Easy 80 1
Max 100 10 s
Easy 80 1 Prep Setx3
Main set  Race Pace  90 5
Easy 90 2
Hard 90-100 1
Easy 2
Main Set x 3 
Cool down 15
Total time 66

Week 3
Effort Cadence Minutes
Warm up 80-100 15
Prep set Steady-160HR 90 2
Easy 80 1
max 100 10 seconds
Easy 80 1 Prep Set x3
Main set Just under Race pace 90 2

Just over race pace
90-95 2
Easy 80 2

Race Pace 90 6
Easy 80 2

Race pace 4 Main Set x5

Cool down

Easy 15
Total time 69

Week 4
Effort Cadence Minutes
Warm up 80-100

Prep set Steady 90 2
Easy 80 1
Max 100 10 s
Easy 80 1 Prep Setx3
Main set
Just under Race pace
90 1
Just over Race pace 90-95 1.5
Easy 80 1
1st section Main Set x5
Race pace 90 6
Easy 80 2

2nd set x 2  
Cool down Easy 15
Total time 69.5


Hope these sessions help 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Castle Howard Triathlon

At the beginning of every season, I sit down with my coach and plan a race diary. Some of the races are local, some team races and some international. I recently had to change my schedule which left me with no race for four weeks, so I decided to race Castle Howard, an Olympic Non-Drafting triathlon; the race was in 4 days’ time so no tapering. I could see from the start list there was a talented field of athletes. Normally for this type of non-drafting race, you would use a TT bike, but I was happy to have a go on my Liv Langma Advanced Pro 0 .

The race took place in the stunning castle grounds: 1500m lake swim, 45km hilly bike followed by a 10km hilly off-road run. This series is definitely worth taking a look out.

I had a strong swim with a time of 18:57; I was 4th going onto the bike. I attacked the bike leg and managed to finish in 5th. I know I was at a disadvantage not racing with a TT bike, but I still produced a good time on my Liv Langma. The run was a 10.5km rolling off-road course; I took each kilometre trying to hold my position but was overtaken by another athlete on the last half kilometre - I didn’t have anything left. I was very appreciative of the water stations as it was a very hot and humid day. Overall, I was glad I raced. It gave me the opportunity to try a different distance, experiment with drinks and gels, and most importantly gives me plenty to work on.

My next race is the team relays in London

Banyoles Training Camp 2019

Check out my Training Diary with the LTPC Video Below

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Cardiff Triathlon

 At the end of June, I competed in the National Triathlon Championship held at Cardiff. Going into the race, I knew I was in better form after some good run testing results from the lab. So far this year I have struggled to produce a good race that reflects the training I’ve done, but I’m still positive it will come together.

The race started with a 750m sea swim in Cardiff Bay. I started on the left and I could soon see a large group form on the right. I stayed on my line until the first buoy and concentrated on my swim. After the first two buoys, I could see the leader. The last 300m was a straight line and the field was spread out coming into land. Out of the swim always has to be a sprint into transition 1 (swim to bike) to make the first bike pack. However, I fell over and ripped my wetsuit which meant I lost a few seconds in transition. Now I needed to be quick in transition. I had successfully made the first pack of 14 athletes with one competitor out in front.

When I am in large bike packs, I like to stay at the front, meaning I inevitably help with the share of the work. At the beginning of the second lap, I caught the athlete in front. We worked well as a group, not giving any time away to chasing groups behind us. Coming into transition 2 (bike into the run) I was in 5th position. My transition could have been better - something I need to work on.

The run was 5km, two laps of a run out and back course, so there were opportunities to see all the athletes. I managed to start in a small group of 5, but by the 2nd lap, we had all separated. I finished in 9th position.

This was a small step in the right direction as this year has not gone as planned. I don’t have any excuses as I train at a performance centre; I need more consistency and some small changes so I hopefully will be closer to the front fighting for a podium position.

Thanks to Huub Design for sorting me out with a new wetsuit after ripping my race suit.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Xterra Belgium Elite Race 2018

Xterra Belgium was my first ever off road triathlon. Xterra is a Elite off road Olympic Triathlon, I decided to compete in Belgium this year as it is something different and I enjoy MTB riding.  I new it wasn't going to be easy as I don't get enough chances to practice my mountain biking. 

The course was 1500m open water swim, 40km hilly, techniqual bike, and a 10km off road run. 

My swim went well coming out joint first with another GB athlete. Onto the bike I new I needed to pace myself. I was riding my Liv Obsess hard tail a great bike for this type of racing. The bike leg I found really hard, the technique bits where fun but at some points scary. Due to these girls being insane on a MTB bike, this is where I lost allot of time. I came into transition in 8th. 

Onto the run, surprisingly even though the run terrain was hard with steps, steep downhills and uphills. The 10km course went quite quick I was able to catch one women but the others where to far in front. I finished 7th Pro in my first Xterra. 

I loved racing something different and will definitely be back. 

See if you can spot me in the video below. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Gym Session Triathlon

Here are my top 5 gym exercises I do every week to make sure I stay injury free and have a well maintained working body ready for hard session.

Barbell Hip Thrust

Great exercise for your gluts and Hamstrings. Which are really important in triathlon for running and also running off the bike when tired.  When running your Gluts work to stabiles your hips and legs when under impact.  Making sure your Gluts are strong and conditioned means your gluts will activate when running helping you run faster and more economical so you are using less energy.

Instructions: Begin seated on the ground with a bench directly behind you. Have a loaded barbell over your legs. Roll the bar so that it is directly above your hips, and lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the top of it. Begin the movement by driving through your feet ( heels to activate glutes), extending your hips vertically through the bar. Your weight should be supported by your shoulder blades and your feet. Extend as far as possible, and then reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
Do 3 sets of 8-13 reps. Increase weight slowly.

Lat pull downs:

The lat pulldown is a basic upper body strength exercise that targets the upper back. The exercise also improves stability in the lower back and core.  This exercises helps with your swimming making sure you engage your lats when swimming. Although other arm and back muscles are used in frountcrawl, the latissimus dorsi is the main muscle working for your momentum through the water. This exercise can help you become faster and stronger in the water.

Instructions: Sit at a lat pulldown station and grab the bar with an overhand wide grip that's just beyond shoulder width. Pull Shoulders down , bar to chest then back up slowly.
Do 3 sets 8-13 reps. Increase reps or weight slowly

Hamstring curls:

Hamstrings are important for triathletes when running and cycling. For cycling when Knee flexion occurs a lot when riding every time your feet lift up from the bottom of a revolution, and a degree of hip extension is also involved, especially when you’re riding out of the saddle and climbing hills. When running it will make you more efficient at bring your heel towards your bum  during the recovery cycle. 

 Instructions: Begin with a light weight and stand facing the machine. Position one leg for the lift by hooking it under the weight pad. Make sure the pads are in a comfortable position around your ankle in order to involve the heel in the movement. Don’t position the pads too high on the calf. Grab hold of the support handles. Flex your knee and lift the pad upwards as far as you can towards your bum (Gluts) as you exhale. Lower the leg to the starting position. And repeat
3 sets: 10-12 reps start with a easy weight increase slowly

Calf raises
Calf raises should be part of every Triathletes gym program. You benefit from calf as it is strengthening your lower leg muscles to improve your running speed and reduce your risk for injuries.

Instructions: Place the ball of the foot on a sturdy and stable board of the ground while your heels extend off. This will be your starting position. With the toes pointing either straight to hit all parts equally raise the heels off the floor as you exhale by contracting the calves. Hold the top contraction for a second. As you inhale, go back to the starting position by slowly lowering the heels.
3 sets of 15 to 30reps depending on weight, higher the weight lower reps.

Sit ups

Core may arguably be the most important muscle group to strengthen in triathlon. Swimming requires a stable trunk and streamlined position for the most efficient technique. Triathlete with a weak core are susceptible to a poor pelvic position on the saddle of your bike, which results in side-to-side movement. This is bad form and is usually due, in part, to poor core strength. When Running your foot hits the ground, a shockwave of force is sent up through your trunk and torso. For the triathlete, especially at this stage in the race, having a conditioned core will hold your torso and trunk upright and aligned for the best form. When our core is weak or tired, we tend to wobble in our hips and upper body and this deflects energy that should be geared back towards our legs.

Instructions: Lie down on your back. Bend your legs and place feet firmly on the ground to stabilize your lower body. Cross your hands to opposite shoulders or place them behind your ears, without pulling on your neck. Curl your upper body all the way up toward your knees. All done slowly.

3 sets: 20-30 reps

Hope this helps

Megan McDonald

Monday, 12 February 2018

Turbo Sessions for the Winter

Through the winter it can be difficult to do every bike session out on the roads, so I have decided to share some of the sessions I do at Loughborough with the Triathlon Performance Squad so that you can improve your critical power and muscular endurance throughout the winter months.


LT1: LT1 is the point where you start producing lactate, also known as aerobic threshold. So most people will be around 150HR. Mine is high at 168. It is good to train under this threshold as lactate causes fatigue.

LT2: The second threshold is when you are producing significant lactate and is called your anaerobic threshold. At this intensity you can last for around 45 minutes.

Session 1
75 Minute Session Critical Power:

The aim of this turbo session is for you to work at your max and produce as much sustainable power for the chosen time of the repetition. At the end of the last rep you should be going as hard as possible and reaching a high heart rate. Make sure you don’t start the first 6 minutes too hard, think of it as a 25 minute time trial effort. This session is great to help improve you maximum power output.

Warm Up: 30 Minutes
  • 10min spin
  • 5min LT1
  • 1min recovery
  • 3min LT2
  •  2x8 second sprint 1min
  • 3min LT2
  • 2x8 second sprint 1min
  • 4min spin
Main Session: 28 Minute Session

  • 6min hard
  • 3min easy
  • 5min hard
  • 2.5min easy
  • 4min hard
  • 2min easy
  • 3min hard
  • 1.30min easy
  • 2min hard
  • 1min easy
  • 1min hard
Cool down: 15-20min easy spin
Session 2

This is my second critical power session to improve your maximum output power.

Warm Up
  • 10min spin
  • 5min aerobic – perhaps this need an explanation?
  • 2min easy
  • (3min at 40km race pace - 10s sprint-50s recovery x2) x2
  •  2min easy
Main Session
  • 3x 1,2,3 minutes as:
  • 1min hard - 45s recovery
  • 2min hard - 1min recovery
  • 3min hard - 4min recovery
Cool Down: 15-20min spin
Session 3
90min Session Endurance

This session is to help your muscular endurance, making sure over the winter you are getting your legs used toa range of paces. Please use the key above if you don’t use or know what LT1 and LT2 are.

Warm Up
  • 10-20min spin
  • (4x30sec single leg into 2min race gear 2min spin) x3
  • 4x30sec build - 30sec easy
Main Session
  • 4x10min: After each set 2min HARD (VO2) into 2min spin
  • 1.5min just UNDER LT1/3min just OVER
  • 2.4min just UNDER LT2/4min just OVER LT2
  • 3.3min just UNDER LT1/5min just OVER LT1
  • 4min as per set 2
Cool Down:10-20min spin

Have a go at these sessions and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy them.


Megan McDonald