Members train for triathlon

Club members training for triathlon for charity

On 28th September 2014, men and women from around the South West will gather in one of Devon’s most popular tourist resorts to take part in the Dawlish Triathlon. Consisting of a 750m swim, 21km bike ride and a 5km run, participants will push themselves to the limit of their physical and mental capabilities after months of training.

Amongst this group will be Rich and Jemma Marsh and Rob and Charlotte Pascoe, all members of Exeter Golf and Country Club. They are taking part to raise money for Rich and Jemma’s 3 year old nephew, Henry and have embarked on a tough training programme at Exeter Golf and Country Club to prepare them for the race. The club’s Personal Training team have designed their training programmes and providing both motivation and drive to keep them on track for the triathlon later this month. To train for a triathlon is no mean feat and working with experts is the best way to ensure maximum results.

Rich, Jemma, Rob and Charlotte are reaching the end of their triathlon training and focussing on a final push to ensure they perform well and most importantly raise lots of money for their chosen charity and Henry.

Almost a year ago, Henry contracted E-coli along with lesser known, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) which is a complication associated with E-coli affecting 10% of sufferers. HUS is particularly serious amongst young children as the most common cause of acute kidney failure. The disease can lead to long term damage to organs, including the kidneys, brain and pancreas.

Rich and Jemma’s nephew was admitted to Bristol Children’s Hospital on the 11th October 2014 and was in a coma for six weeks. Henry has made some improvements since then and is moving to The Children’s Trust neurological rehabilitation centre where to prepare him and his family for his return home in the year ahead.

As well as the invaluable and life-changing work The Children’s Trust is doing with Henry, the charity also sits closely to Rob’s heart. This year is the 30th anniversary of an accident that left him fighting for his life. Luckily he pulled through to lead a full, healthy and happy life, however he, more than most, fully appreciates how vital charities such as The Children’s Trust are in helping injured or sick children and their families to rebuild their lives after such trauma.

Rich and Jemma decided to raise money for Henry’s care and The Children’s Trust and enlisted the support of Rob and Charlotte to join them for their fund-raising. Being members of Exeter Golf and Country Club, the foursome have utilised the wealth of expertise from the team at the club to help increase their fitness, stamina and strength and train for triathlon.

Jemma and Rich have been working closely with Nick Rose and Helen Kukor, two of Exeter Golf and Country Club’s Personal Trainers, to prepare for the race with weekly triathlon personal training sessions. Rob is training in the Gym using a triathlon specific programme designed especially for him by Helen Kukor. Charlotte has had similar designed by Nick and has also focussed on her swimming with triathlon swim coaching with one of the club’s instructors.

Helen Kukor, Personal Trainer said, “Training for a triathlon requires a programme which focusses on increasing both aerobic and strength endurance. The word ‘aerobic’ means working with oxygen and happens when the body works at a level where the demands for oxygen and fuel can be met by the body’s intake. The only waste products formed are carbon dioxide and water which are removed by sweating and breathing. To develop their aerobic endurance we have been using a mixture of continuous training to improve maximum oxygen uptake, known as VO2 max, and interval training to improve the heart as a muscular pump. During the first session, Rich undertook a VO2 max test. This consisted of a 2.4km run on the treadmill, then using their completion time and the equation 85.95 – (3.079 x run time (minutes)) we could work out his VO2 max.”

Strength endurance is used to develop a person’s capacity to maintain the quality of their muscles’ contractile force. Helen explains that the triathlete training programme works on muscles in both the upper and lower body, such as a tri-set of leg exercises, for example, 12 leg press, 16 lunges and 8 squat jumps. However, triathlons aren’t all about lower body endurance. Because of the swimming aspect of a triathlon, it is important to work on upper body endurance and upper body strength in both the core and in the arms. This will improve stroke rate and stroke strength. Jemma mainly does her aerobic endurance training outside, so in her sessions with Nick, the focus has been upper body strength. With Nick’s help, the weights Jemma is lifting has increased by 5kg in two weeks which is a rapid improvement. Rich has made great strides working with Helen as well, and has knocked 2 minutes, 19 seconds off of his 2.4km time, thus improving his VO2 max.

Charlotte and Rob have been making great progress too, although they have been slightly hampered by injury. Rob has been following a 4 week bespoke programme designed by Helen which takes into account his injury. The programme includes a mixture of running, cycling and swimming as well as weights work in the Gym. Rob’s programme utilises the principle of periodisation. Periodisation is when the programme is broken down into separate periods of time designed to help the athlete reach the peak of their performance at a certain time. Due to time restrictions, Rob’s programme is split into micro-cycles (1 week) and meso-cycles (4-6 week blocks). Periodisation helps the athlete progress safely and efficiently without increasing the risk of injury.

Helen goes on to explain, “Triathlon swimming is different from everyday swimming. For a start, it usually takes place in the sea or another form of open water. This changes the dynamics of the race. There is added buoyancy from the tri-suit and the salt in the sea, causing the athletes hips to raise and their swimming style to change. Charlotte has been having lessons with Nigel, one of our swim instructors and triathlon expert. The two main aspects that they have been working on are bi-lateral breathing and drafting, both essential during an open water swim.”

Bi-lateral breathing means being able to breathe on both sides, maintaining a balanced stroke and allowing the swimmer to see the shoreline. Drafting is when a swimmer places themselves within a pack of swimmers of similar ability and uses the slip stream to conserve energy. There are two ways to draft off of another swimmer: either directly behind them and swimming in their wake or by swimming off of their shoulder. Drafting in open water swimming is similar to cycling in a peloton.

Triathlon as a sporting event is growing in popularity at over 300% in the past five years. The reasons for this increase are easy to understand in that it’s the ultimate in cross training, it’s interesting and accessible in that it’s made up of multiple sports which means people can excel at either running, swimming or cycling, or all three! This boom in popularity certainly doesn’t diminish how hard the event is or how much training is needed to complete a triathlon and so signing up to raise money for The Children’s Trust and Henry is a challenge for all four of the club members taking part.

Helen Kukor said, “We are really proud to support Rich, Jemma, Rob and Charlotte and can’t wait to see how they get on following all their training. The Children’s Trust is a fantastic and valuable charity and wish Henry all the best in his recovery. We will of course, keep everyone updated with their progress.”

The Children’s Trust is the UK’s leading charity for children with brain injury. Working with children and young people from across the UK, the charity exists to enable all children with brain injury to have the opportunity to live the best life possible.

To donate money to The Children’s Trust who have been looking after Henry, please visit Rich and Jemma’s Just Giving page at or Rob and Charlottes page

Find out more about training at Exeter Golf and Country Club.

Triathlon training

Triathlon training – Rich and Jemma