Triathlon training with Emma Oakes: Studley Royal & deer spotting

in Harrogate in Pateley Bridge is following Emma Oakes, one of the athletes training for Long Course Weekend (LCW) an epic three-day multi-discipline event, taking place from 6-8 September 2024.

The Challenge

Long Course Weekend (LCW) is an international multisport festival where athletes come to swim, cycle, and run over three days, in some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Athletes can participate in one of the individual disciplines or take part in all three – mixing and matching the distances that suits them best and bringing the event to the widest audience possible.

The first day comprises the 1.2 or 2.4 mile Yorkshire Dales Swim in the stunning Grimwith Reservoir, followed by the cycle element on the second day – the 56 or 112 mile Yorkshire Dales Sportive in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. The final day offers participants the choice of  The Yorkshire Dales Half Marathon and Marathon plus, a 10k or 5k taking in some spectacular countryside and ending in Masham with a red-carpet finish.

For anyone who missed out on the Great North Run (GNR) this year, The Yorkshire Dales Half Marathon and Marathon are great alternatives. They’re also on 8th September the same day as the GNR and, as there is no ballot system, runners can simply sign up. Enter and find out more here

These scenic races will wind their way through The Yorkshire Dales National Park on closed roads. Expect a challenging course, cheering crowds, stunning surroundings, fully loaded feed stations and a party atmosphere on the finish.

The original LCW was established in Wales in 2010 and is now the largest annual multi-sport festival in Europe. Set in the stunning Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, it attracts over 11,000 competitors and up to 35,000 supporters from 56 countries travel to support the athletes, bringing the total audience for the event to 44,000.

LCW is part of the Activity Wales Events (AWE) stable. AWE delivers award-winning sporting events throughout the UK and further afield with disciplines ranging from running and Swimruns to triathlons, duathlons, and multi-sports events.

Emma’s training diary

It has been a hard couple of weeks for me since camp. Not so much the physical training but mentally it has been tough. On camp it was warm, I was training during the day with no distractions but now I’m getting used to training in the evening again and running on cold, dark nights. No more the luxury of chilling out after a bike ride, it’s straight into parenting. I love seeing my kids’ faces when I get back from training, they’re so happy to see me but I do wish I could absorb some of their energy and enthusiasm. It has been full on since I got home, and I think the pressure of getting straight back into daily life with no let up in my training schedule has taken its toll.

To start with I felt fine, just ploughing on and it was good to get back running and swimming with Harrogate Tri Club, getting back to the norm but this last week I have found it hard to get motivated. The benefit of having a coach is that all my training is planned, so even though I wasn’t feeling it, I showed up, did the session to the best of my ability, and moved on. I made sure to listen to my body and didn’t put too much pressure on myself to make targets or see improvements. I turned up which was the main thing, stuck to my routine and made sure to cut myself some slack.

The last 2 weeks my have been mentally hard but physically I feel strong and have done some great sessions and even produced a couple of PBs. I think maybe the adaptations from a hard week on camp have kicked in and maybe, not thinking about the outcome of a session has helped. I have relaxed into the workout rather than worrying if I am going to keep to my targets.

My first impromptu test night was run night with the Tri Club. Through the winter we have been running on the Stray in Harrogate but occasionally we get the use of the track at the nearby MOD Army base. From April we will be back at track for the whole of summer which will be great. So, after a few minutes of chatter, our fearless running coach Mark announces that its 3K test night, ensue the groans. 7.5 laps around the track and the result will tell us our new VDOT number and give us a starting point for the season ahead. After a good warm up and some build laps we were off. I went into it with the idea of running a strong controlled pace that I could maintain. I don’t like looking at my watch all the time so just went by feel. To my surprise a new PB and I had shaved 28secs off my previous 3K time. So happy with that.

The second test was a 5-minute power test but this time there was extra aerobic efforts afterwards. Again, I went into it just to do my best and not to think too much about the outcome. Surprise again, I have increased my 5-minute power by 6 Watts. Very happy, although the 3 x 10 min efforts that followed were at the lower end of my power zone.

During my swimming sessions I am trying to implement the technique changes from camp and although these are better on the slower sets, I can feel the difference. They are not automatic yet and I have to really think about what I’m doing but I feel smoother in the water. We have been using fins and paddles intermittently through the sets working on kicking and hand entry.

I get to do an outdoor ride once a week at the moment, but I hope this will increase once it gets lighter in the evenings. I choose my routes based on the wind/weather and if I can meet my husband and kids somewhere. Ride one was a Zone 2, 2hr bike with 780m elevation, light winds, and a pleasant day. I rode towards Pateley Bridge then cut back towards Smelthouses, Burnt Yates and finished at RHS Harlow Carr just outside of Harrogate, which is great place for kids. The second was a 2hr 50min Z2 ride, 870m elevation. Bit of a windy day and I thought I was going to be slower than I was, but I finished the ride 10mins early. I rode up to Fountains Abbey and though Studly Royal which is a deer park and if you’re lucky enough you can see the deer from the road.

My last week of training has been so mentally hard. I just was not motivated and all I wanted to do was to sit down on a comfy sofa. But I showed up and that’s the main thing. It would have been so easy for me to just ditch a session/s but the difference for me was my body felt good, I just had to push past that voice in my head that said, “give yourself a rest, that sofa looks so comfy, take a night off”. Everyone reading this will have heard that voice at one time or another and sometimes we will fight it and sometimes we can’t. As athletes we need to listen to our bodies and think about what it is telling us. Do we need a rest or are we just feeling overwhelmed because life is busy. Sometimes exercise will make us feel better but if you get 5 minutes into a session and you can feel this is not your day, you can choose to change the session or ditch altogether and give yourself that rest. It’s about making that decision based on your life and how your body feels. Never feel guilty for it. Tomorrow is another day.  

Training Diary

Week 1

  • Mon – 1hr strength, 1hr 30 turbo (big gear-LT1)
  • Tue – 1hr Club Track (3k test)
  • Wed – 1hr 20 turbo (easy endurance)
  • Thurs – 1hr Club swim 2400m
  • Fri – 1hr 22 turbo (Threshold intervals)
  • Sat – 2hr bike 780m elevation                                                        
  • Sun – 1hr 10 run (sub threshold into 3 X 5min threshold) 

Week 2

  • Mon – 1hr strength, 1hr 25 turbo (big gear training)
  • Tue – 1hr club run (200m sprint intervals)
  • Wed – 1hr 07 turbo (Aerobic with sprints)
  • Thurs – 1hr Club swim 2550m
  • Fri – 2hr 41 bike 870m elevation
  • Sat – 1hr 30 turbo (5 min power test into tempo)
  • Sun – 1hr 20 run (progressive build) 

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Related Accommodation

The accommodation below is nearby - and has been updated recently.

The Studley Hotel

28 Swan Road, Harrogate, HG1 2SE, United Kingdom

The Harrogate Inn

1 Ripon Rd, Harrogate, HG1 2SY, United Kingdom

Acomb Lodge

6 Franklin Road north yorkshire, Harrogate, HG1 5EE, United Kingdom

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