The London Triathlon has a pretty unique backdrop. Triathlon is said to have its origins in rural France, while Americans claim that the first official such race took place on the California coast – wherever the first triathlon took place though, it’s unlikely that anyone in those locations foresaw a successful annual event of the same nature taking place in London’s industrial docklands. A core part of the route is overlooked by towering office blocks and bordered by sprawling industrial estates, with the soundtrack of business jets flying into London City Airport from Europe’s other financial capitals. There is an irony to the location though – many of those living and working right on the route’s doorstep can struggle to commit to their training due to busy city life. Thankfully there are solutions for triathlon training in London.
Swimming isn’t an issue. There are enough swimming pools in London to make up a small sea, and provided you avoid “leisure pools” with twisty flumes and wave machines you are likely to encounter mainly serious swimmers who will respect your lane and let you have an uninterrupted swim. Virgin Active’s Canary Riverside Health Club has a 20 metre swimming pool and if you feel that your training has justified a reward you can also unwind in its hydrotherapy pool, steam room or sauna. If you think swimming outdoors is a better reflection of triathlon conditions, then try London Fields Lido in Hackney. 50 metres Olympic size and with lane swimming available all day it is a good option, but bear in mind that like most outdoor pools in the UK it is heated – so far from being a replica of Thames conditions.
Cycling can strike people as the tricky option – you can’t do the training required on busy city streets, and neither spin classes nor home exercise sessions are exactly like the real thing. Athlete Lab on Cannon Street could be the solution to this problem. The “lab” uses real bike technology in a stationary, indoor environment – key features of their equipment are functional strength, real gears, road bike position, track progress and real time training data. Furthermore Athlete Lab employs experienced cycling coaches possessing various triathlon accolades who can provide training.
As for running, this is where you can realistically prepare for triathlon in a closely matched environment. Get out there on the streets – among the features of major London business developments such as Canary Wharf are wide, pedestrianized avenues and plazas. These are ideal for adapting your legs an body ahead of the event but the key here is timing – aim for evenings and weekends, when there are not so many pedestrians to manoeuvre around.
So to summarise suggestions for the best triathlon training London has to offer to the busy executive: find a sensible swimming pool – London is full of them; cycle indoors using a real bike – this combines safety, convenience and the most practical experience; run outdoors where possible – the best way to prepare for the triathlon terrain, but if you really want to hone your sprint away from the crowds then some sessions at a running track or even on a treadmill are acceptable.