Craig yr Allt Fell Race – 25th January

Even with the weather being so bad at the moment it is great to see that Taff Ely Triathlon members are getting out there racing. This week saw four members doing some fell running. Simon Morgan provides an entertaining report.


It was all Vicky Jones’s fault. ‘Come do something a bit different’ she said. ‘Ros and I had a go the other week, it was a right laugh. Though we did put the “fell” in “fell running”’, she said.

And so Sara Morgan and I found ourselves celebrating St Dwynwen’s Day up to our knees in mud, covered in scratches, soaked to the skin, and absolutely loving it. In the good company of Ros Edmonds, Vicky, Sarah Adams, 80 plus others, 1 man and his dog.

The race was organised by the Mynydd Du Club ( ) as part of a winter series. But apparently there’s events organised throughout the year. There was some initial confusion when we got there, but some of the other runners were keen to help us out. Top Tip 1 – get there early, start might be ages from the sign-up point.

The organisers were slick, gave a good race briefing, had sign-posted the route very well and had marshals at all key points. And all for just £3! Was a bit nervous when we were given a map of the route – my orienteering is right down there with my DIY skills – but it didn’t prove an issue thanks to the quality of the organisation: gave us an incentive to keep up with the field though.

Our thinking was: it’s under 4 miles – how hard can it be? We also turned up with ordinary daps and a technical  T, with some heavy warm-up clothes. Turns out gloves, headgear and a wind-proof top were mandatory; trail or fell shoes highly recommended.  Top Tip 2 – check the website’s terms and conditions. As proud as I am of my TET Hoodie, it’s not the best thing to run in during a monsoon – I’m carrying enough extra weight as it is.

Quick word on our fellow runners. Quite a mix of ages and looks. A few looked like Forrest Gump after he’d run the US a few times. Should’ve known better when I clocked the worn but high-spec kit that was standard – didn’t pay to under-estimate these guys. Even the dog tied to his master’s shorts turned out to be useful. Top Tip 3 – carry stodgy doggy-snacks to every race to slow down your four-legged competitors. (Ok – there may be a limited market for that one).

We started at the back. Race went north straight away, tarmac initially then muddy trail. Sara and Sarah hit a nice tempo, I left them and started picking off those ahead of me, even as things started getting slippy. Including 1 man and his dog. I was feeling good. But the first downhill was a revelation. The regulars (and their pets) start flying past me as I negotiated the mud, streams and greasy hillocks. There truly is an art to this kind of descending. And, well, mine is a bit like my orienteering. And DIY.

The next half hour was a succession of scrambles up, slides down and stumbles through streams. Think desperate cons escaping the Deep South Penitentiary with the prison guards on their trail. Excepting the fact that the bloke with the dog was actually ahead of us. At one point I was holding the sides of my hoodie out as a sail to push me up yet another hill. Quite how many hills were squeezed into 4 miles is still something of a mystery. Traction was sometimes all but impossible, as more of the field came past. I’d love to say it was all down to Top Tip 4 -wear trail or fell shoes. But, let’s face it, the dog wasn’t wearing them.

And so, after the muddiest, narrowest descent yet, we all got to the finish. Cheered on by the soaked-but-supportive marshals. And a cheerful yip from the dog, by now busily tagging a gatepost. The squelch back to the cars – and Ros’s bike: the woman lives Rule #5 – was enlivened by talk of our (mis)adventure.

But my mind kept going back to the knowing look one of the marshals gave us at the finish. He knew we’d caught the bug and would be coming back.

Run Training for Intermediate Triathletes

Run Training for Intermediate Triathletes

Are you an intermediate? If you think you are a beginner then take a look at the run guidance for beginners page. If you are from a running background and run your 5 or 10 km races at less than 6 min/mile or equivalent, then you will already have the running talent or understand enough to coach yourself through a triathlon. However, you will probably find you have to run less than you are used to in order to fit everything else in.

As an intermediate, you will get around a triathlon, but unless you really sort out your running, it is unlikely you will nail the run and finish very strong and high up the field in a race. If running really is a weakness and you find yourself being overtaken in the run by a lot of triathletes you overtook earlier, then spending a period of time sorting out your running should pay dividends in terms of improving results.

As with all training you have to decide how much time you have available to run. If you can spend between 7 and 10 hours a week training, then the good news is, it should be possible to focus your run training with targeted sessions. However, before you decide how many sessions and how far and fast to run in them, you need to establish your base level. A simple way to determine this is to undertake a time-trial on a relatively flat surface. If you like to run races outside of triathlon you probably already know how long you are likely to take for a standard distance given your current level of fitness. The time taken in minutes and seconds in a race or time-trial can yield training paces and speeds for all distances. One of the tried and tested methods to improve your running on this basis is to use VDot tables of paces, as proposed by Jack Daniels (one of the foremost exercise physiologists to work on endurance running) and his VDot values (arbitrary units) are easy to apply. Basically the concept of VDot values is designed so that the higher your number is, the faster runner you are. To give you a idea of how good you have to be for particular VDot values, if you can run 5km in 24 minutes, you will have a VDot of 40, whereas if you can run it in 18 min, you will have a VDot of 56.

Whilst Daniels designed the VDot with pure runners in mind, they are very applicable to triathletes as long as you don’t try to run like a pure runner and train hard for the other disciplines at the same time. Injury or burnout will be the most probable outcome if you do.

Daniels’ VDot tables are easily found on the web and downloaded as spreadsheets. One that is very clear is Input your time and distance run in a recent race and you are given training paces and speeds for a variety of distances, based upon your own VDot value. It really is very simple.

Typical sessions for someone running three times a week could include one based on Intervals or Threshold pace and two based based on endurance at a slower pace. As a triathlete, you might find that working on your running for a few months or mesocycles (e.g. two or three weeks of progression followed by a recovery week) can yield great dividends.

One of the common pitfalls that a lot of triathletes fall into is to undertake hard sessions too frequently. As a general rule, less than about 20% of your total distance should come from your fast-paced Intervals and Threshold workouts combined e.g. <10% each. Most (around 80%) of your total distance or run time should actually be conducted at slower paces. These are also worked out for you in the VDot calculator. Pacing is key and if you are inexperienced, learn to use the technology now available, such as a stopwatch, or alternatively, a running GPS with its many functions. Ensure you run at the paces given and not faster.

Interval sessions are based on a number of short fast runs with plenty of rest in between. You can opt to do your Interval sessions at a local 400 metre track where distances are easily known. Set a pace for a distance, typically 400 metres up to 1600 metres or 1 mile maximum and work out around 5 km race pace with an easy jog for about the same amount of time to recover as you take to cover the interval. An alternative to the track is to find a straight flat trail or cycle path and set up the laps as a particular distance on your GPS or other speed and distance device to record your time e.g. stopwatch, for the Interval. As a track example, a triathlete who has recently run an accurate 5 km in 24 minutes exactly has a VDot of 40 and should aim to run a 400 m Interval in 1 min 52 seconds (pace of 7 min 28 seconds per 1600 metres or mile). The total session distance for Intervals run at this pace should be from 2 to 3 miles, or 3200 to 4800 metres, not including warm up, cool down or recovery between Intervals. Remember if you are running up and down hills these paces do not apply. Other important aspects that you should include in your Interval sessions are a dynamic warm-up and some drills to improve your leg speed and body posture.

Threshold sessions are usually continuous efforts of 20 minutes or longer run at a pace that is at least 25 sec per mile slower than your Interval pace. There should then be enough recovery after this effort to bring your breathing and heart rates back to that of easy paced running. If your Threshold efforts are longer than 20 min, then slow your pace by a few seconds per mile. Again as an example, a triathlete with a VDot of 40 should aim to cover a flat 2.5 miles at a Threshold pace of 8 min 12 seconds per mile, a total of 20 min and 30 seconds, not faster.

Most of your other sessions should be run at much easier paces as longer, continuous runs. The paces are defined as Easy pace and Marathon race pace. The slower of these is Easy pace, which for the example VDot 40 triathlete is 10 min 11 seconds per mile, whereas Marathon race pace is 8 min 46 seconds per mile. Running most of your miles between these paces will help your aerobic system develop and also allow your body to recover.

To reiterate, around 80% of your time or distance should be run at a sustainable pace that feels relatively easy. All of your longer sessions should be run between the Easy and Marathon race paces and the 80% guidance on the time or distance spent at these paces does not change whether you are a pure runner or triathlete.

By Ed Morgan

Tor-y-Foel Fell Race – 11th January

It’s good to see that Taff Ely Tri members are racing early in the New Year. Vicky Jones gives an account of the Tor y Foel fell running race.

7Fell.3 km with 370m of climbing – it seemed like a good idea in December – excellent training for the climbs of the Slateman triathlon I’ll be doing in May.  99 of us gathered on the Taff Trail near Talybont Dam in beautiful weather for the 2pm start with Ros and I representing Taff Ely Tri. From the start it was clear that most of the gathered crowd were experienced fell runners but we didn’t let this put us off.

The run began with a steady incline made difficult by uneven ground with the sun in our eyes and by the time I reached the point where I could see the summit far in the distance the first runners were already ¾ of the way up – and looked to still be running! Along with most of the competitors the slog to the top was done slowly, with no hint of running, in fact at one point I was moving so slowly that the auto-pause on my Garmin kicked in and didn’t resume for four minutes!! If you’d have asked me at this point if I was enjoying it the answer would have been an emphatic NO. But then, the summit, there were four enthusiastic and supportive marshals, amazing panoramic views and a lovely downhill stretch.

Once I persuaded my legs to move again I was off and amazingly I was smiling. From there it was a mix of running, slipping and sliding to the end. The support throughout from marshals and other competitors was amazing. The results aren’t out yet  but the timing guy told me I was sub 60 minutes so I’m pretty pleased with that and am already looking forward to my next fell race. If you haven’t tried fell running then I heartily recommend it – there’s another event in a couple of weeks and at only £3-5 an event there isn’t really an excuse not to 🙂

For more information and fixtures have a look on the Welsh Fell Runners Association website

AGM Minutes 2013

Date: Tuesday 10th December 2013
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Abercwmboi Rugby Club

Committee Members:
Adrian Colley (Chairman)
Helen Colley (Secretary)
Ros Edmonds (Treasurer)
Tony Dally (Club Welfare Officer)
Ed Morgan (Head Coach – BTA Level 3)

1. Chair’s report

AC welcomed all to the meeting and confirmed the club committee members as it currently stands.
AC noted club achievements through the year, including club member race results, coaching awards (Ed Morgan receiving RCT Coach of the Year Award) and a newly qualified coaching team. To date this includes:

BTA Level 1 – Helen and Adrian Colley, Des Devlin, Louis Adams and Martin Davies
BTA Level 2 – Tony Dally

2. Treasurer’s report

RE confirmed the summary of membership which has increased significantly over the year.
A summary of income and expenditure was confirmed. The club is currently in a positive finance position but could be doing a little better. RE confirmed that the club swim fees have not increased over the past few years. It was confirmed that this would be addressed in a later agenda item.
RE confirmed that a second round of Community Chest money was won by the club, and this would be put towards further Level 2 Coaching qualifications.

3. Ratification of Club President: Phil Gibbon

EM confirmed that Phil Gibbon is our Club President and that he sent his apologies for the meeting. Phil is a founder member of the club.
It was voted that Phil remains in the position of Club President.

4. Club Fees for 2014 – 2015

RE proposed that the Club swim fees for 2014 increase to £45.00 per quarter for adult members and £23.00 per quarter for the junior members.
This proposal was put to the vote and carried.

5. Web-site developments, social media, FB, Twitter

Louis Adams explained the developments of the recently launched club website:
Louis encouraged all members to actively start using the website as a source of information. The club would also like to ensure that any race reports are completed after events, so the website is currently updated with current activity. Louis reported that there were 500 hits on the website during November.
EM confirmed that he has added content to reflect coaching tips. EM has also created Twitter accounts so regular coaching information is communicated.
Louis will also be creating Drop Box sites, which will assist the Coaching Team and also a members only site will be created for future use. This could include swim video analysis etc.
Louis confirmed that new membership forms will be available from the website.

6. Triathlon Events for 2014/Social Events/Committee

Various suggestions were made for the club championships for 2014. Votes confirmed the following:

Ammanford Sprint Triathlon – Novice Championships – 13th April 2014
Tata Steel Olympic Triathlon – Club Championships – 1st June 2014

AC proposed that he would like to see a social committee developed, which can include friends and family of club members. It was proposed that a club social secretary is voted in and will be addressed in a later agenda item.

7. Coaching Developments/sessions

EM confirmed the current coaching team (noted in item 1). EM confirmed that Adrian Colley and Louis Adams will be taking the Level 2 BTA qualification, and Darren Hancock will be taking his Level 1 BTA qualification in 2014.
EM confirmed that the club has purchased a new camera to use for swim analysis, which can benefit members considerably.
EM proposed that TD steps down from coaching the junior session due to a conflict of interest, as Tony is the Club Welfare Officer.
The club offered an extra swimming session on a Wednesday evening (for inexperienced swimmers) to assist with the current demand and is proving to be very successful. This will continue for 2014.
EM confirmed that the Tuesday night bike sessions will be repeated, once the lighter evenings start.
Des Devlin will also be starting a new run session in Treforest Industrial Estate in January, details will be posted on FB.
Saturday and Sunday bike rides will be posted on FB as usual.
Members agreed that run sessions for the juniors would be welcomed during the spring/summer. It was suggested that these sessions could be run before the swim sessions on Sunday.
Details of any confirmed sessions will be posted on the website and FB.

8. Safeguarding changes

TD explained the recent changes from CRB for DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).
Welsh Triathlon are reviewing their own internal procedures for DBS at present, and these procedures have not been confirmed to date.
TD confirmed that we are registered with RCT as a “safe club” and follow all policies and best practice.
Louis Adams asked if the safeguarding logo could be placed on our website. TD to confirm.

9. Committee expansion

As the club is rapidly expanding new committee members need to be voted in. EM proposed that the new committee should include: Membership Secretary, Website Co-ordinator and Social Secretary.
RE further explained that the role of Treasurer had increased over the year, and she was finding it very hard to oversee the volume of work involved. It was proposed that a committee role is developed which would split the current Treasurers role in two, therefore, having a Treasurer and Membership Secretary.

10. Following a formal vote the 2014 Club Committee is represented below:

Chairman – Adrian Colley
Secretary – Helen Colley
Treasurer – Ros Edmunds
Membership Secretary – Louis Adams
Website Co-ordinator – Des Devlin
Welfare Officer – Tony Dally
Social Secretary – Chris Armstrong

11. Community Chest application

TD confirmed that a second round of community chest funding had been awarded and sign off had been completed.
ED thanked all involved in the application process.

12. Club Kit – update

AC highlighted the recent problems that we have had in connection with our new suppliers of Club Kit. Currently there are 10 cycling jerseys waiting to be sent. New suppliers are being approached and we hope to have confirmed details for ordering in the New Year.
Chris Armstrong confirmed that he can also repeat the t-shirt order if demand is there.
Discussions also took place for the design of an official Club banner and possible sponsorship. This will be looked into by the committee.

13. Welsh Tri membership and other affiliations

TD confirmed that there are many benefits to joining Welsh Triathlon, one being the insurance and public liability. The full membership details can be found on the Welsh Triathlon website.

CTC Affiliation;
Members agreed that they are happy to continue with the cycling affiliation to the CTC for Time Trialling events.

Welsh Athletic Affiliation;
Members agreed that they were happy with joining the Welsh Athletic Association. A fee of £50.00 is required along with an official running vest.
This would allow members to enter running events as TET

14. AoB

The pool time has been confirmed for Wednesday and Sunday at Abercynon. Reports have been made that Abercynon may be cutting its pool times. In light of this point and the increase in the number of enquiries to join the club, members of the committee are currently looking into pool time at other leisure centres and its viability.

AC thanked all for attending and wished all club members well for 2014!

Attendance Record:
Darren Hancock
Chris Armstrong
Vicky Jones
Jamie Massanet-Nicolau
Simon Morgan
Richard Morgan
Louise Ward
Nick James
Paul Figgins
Lee Rossiter
Allan Gill
Stuart Grant
Gemma Devlin
Des Devlin
Marie Claire Hopkins
Donna Hunkin
Ed Morgan
Alan Edwards
Adrian Colley
Helen Colley
Louis Adams
Tony Dally
Ros Edmonds

Coaching Changes for 2014

The coaching team have met and agreed the following developments for the next year. Junior Head Coach is Adrian Colley, Lead Swim Coach is Tony Dally, Lead Run Coach is Ed Morgan, Lead Cycling Coach is Louis Adams, Tony will also look after novice adults and I will look after other adults. We have split the swim sessions amongst all the coaches. As a result of another community chest grant (Rhondda Cynon Taff / Sports Wales) we will be training up more coaches. We will therefore be putting on more sessions – please keep an eye on our Facebook page and Club Website for announcements. We are excited about these developments and look forward to another great year for Taff Ely Tri club. Happy New Year to all.