Triathlon trainer Roisin Thomas on how to tackle a trio of sporting disciplines
Time Out Dubai staff
Kate Dobinson talks to triathlon trainer Roisin Thomas about how to tackle the trio of disciplines.
Triathlons are not the preserve of the fitness elite. Coach Roisin Thomas may be a self-confessed ‘tri fanatic’ and one tough cookie – she does not let up when you’re gasping for air. But she believes everyone has it within them to achieve their goals, even complete beginners with the most basic level of fitness. ‘I had people who struggled with one circuit track lap but after three weeks, they were running comfortably and doing really well. Everyone has a base, they have the ability to move and that’s enough to start a triathlon,’ she says.
Roisin heads up an eight-week tri-programme at Haddins Gym in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi and her group completed the TriYAS by Daman’s Activelife race at Yas Marina Circuit last month. ‘There are 30 people in my group at the moment. They are a mix of ages, ranging from 21 to 34. They’re married with kids, they work, I’m sure there’s a man who is about 60 too,’ Roisin says.
Their basic training involves cycling and running on Yas Marina Circuit three times a week and swimming twice weekly. They also take part in cross training sessions to develop fitness and muscle recovery, and a fun ‘mock-tri’ at Al Bateen, which is held every Thursday morning. Roisin says that when taking part in a triathlon, fear is actually enjoyed and embraced. You start with fear and conquer it. ‘Everyone training for a triathlon can run, but swimming is most people’s pet hate and it can make or break them on the day of the event.
‘I’ve seen people who are not prepared for the swim freak out when it boils down to getting into the sea. There are 20 or 30 people around you and they’re all thrashing around. It’s salty and cold; it’s survival of the fittest.’
Roisin says that mastering and perfecting the three sports becomes an obsession. ‘Trying to get a better time is addictive. And of course there is the healthy living aspect of it too; you change your routine and lifestyle for it. For example, someone in the programme had an accident that left him unable to walk properly. Now he’s training for a triathlon.’ Like many people, Roisin stumbled across the multidisciplined sport in her 20s. ‘I didn’t start off as a triathlon fan, but my dad was a marathon runner and would run 26.2 miles in around two hours and 18 minutes. I didn’t really see much of my dad growing up because he was either running, eating or sleeping.’
Growing up in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, Roisin started running at 17 years old and set up a club for the sport with her father when she was 23. She later joined separate cycling and swimming clubs and didn’t put them together until much later. After all, she says, her bike until then was ‘shoddy with no brakes’. Now, she trains twice-daily, swimming at 5am and typically weight training in the evening after she has spent the day working with her clients.
In the competitive off-season, Roisin does basic maintenance training such as TRX (suspension and bodyweight training) that targets the core and fine-tunes performance. And she encourages all her clients to train just as hard. Though not all will be ready for a triathlon straight away, she pushes her clients to train harder and doesn’t go easy on anyone. ‘Everyone has to start somewhere,’ says Roisin. ‘But I’m not going to hold your hand.’
Where to train in Dubai
TriDubai This well-established triathlon club helps athletes of all abilities train and develop in all aspects of the three disciplines of the sport. Training sessions are held on weekday mornings and are led by TriDubai members who volunteer their time. And it’s completely free to take part. Register online to join. Free. Sea swim: Mon 5.45am, JBR; Tue-Wed 6am, Sat 7am, Jumeirah Open Beach. Cycle and run: Wed 6pm, Dubai Autodrome, Motor City; Group bike ride: Fri 7am, Al Qudra Cycle Track. www.tridubai.org (no number).
Cycle Safe Dubai This organisation holds free weekly traffic-free rides at Dubai Autodrome and weekend group rides to Al Qudra, covering a distance of 35km to 80km. These events are ideal for those looking to increase their cycle pace and road racing skills. Dhs500 (annual membership). Revolution Nights, Mon and Wed 7.30pm-8.30pm, Nad Al Sheba Cycle Park; Friday Outrides, Fri 6.30am, Dubai Cycle Path; Legendary Bab Al Shams Coffee Run 60km, meet at Dubai Cycle Path, Sat 6.30am; www.cyclesafedubai.com (050 680 4528).
Dubai Masters Swimming Club Coaches here will help you work on your transitions, develop your stroke and strength and work on breathing technique too. They run morning and evening pool sessions at Kings School in Umm Suqeim. They also organise a sea swim every Friday morning. Dhs50 per swim Dhs400 (ten swims). Sun and Thu 7.30am-8.30am; Mon and Wed 5.45-7am; Tue 6.15am-7.15am; Sun-Wed 7pm-8pm; Thu 6.30pm-7.30pm; Fri sea swim 7.30am-8.30am, 5pm-6pm. Kings School Dubai, Umm Suqeim, www.dmsc.ae (050 694 7769).