Race day photos : a Triathlete’s friend or foe ?

Greetings age groupers, happy Sunday ! Well its a wet and grey Sunday here, so instead of doing a 2 hour run, I am being inspired by watching the finish line of Ironman World Championships in Kona on the other computer.

Today is all about race day photos and whether they are our friend or foe. After a race, I used to rush to open the email when it arrived a couple of days after the event, look at the photos, buy a couple and cringe at the rest – then delete the email, as if that would erase the bad photo from the world ! Now I look at them in a very different way and use what they show me to improve my technique.

When I lived in the US I spent a Sunday afternoon taking part in a running clinic and at the beginning of the session the coach asked each of us why we were doing the clinic. One of the attendees was honest enough to say ‘I’m here so one day I can get a great race day photo’ ! We all laughed a little but I think everyone actually nodded and agreed, we want evidence that we look like we think we look out there.

Now I’m not talking here about making sure we have the best possible photo to use for our Facebook profile, that can happen after a few recovery moments and with the medal around your neck. I’m talking about those ‘in the midst of battle’ moments when your face and body gives away all the thoughts and feelings you were experiencing at that moment.

How many of us think that we

– have the grace of a mermaid when swimming ?

– dance on our pedals as we climb like a pro Tour rider ?

– bound along local trails like a graceful gazelle ?

Of course we all do, right ? Well, photos don’t lie and they give a view of reality.

Here are few of my own examples that I dare to share with the world :


– Sighting : I was taking part in a 3km swim race and thought my ‘sighting’ technique was improving, instead photographic evidence shows that instead I was using the ‘meerkat’ approach……… head fully out of the water which of course stops me in my tracks. Fortunately I was attending a training day the following week and had some great suggestions from the coaches as to how to improve this. (I wanted to post the photo, but have had a few technical difficulties making that happen, but I think you get the visual ?)

– Exiting the water : the photo below brought home to me the need to keep swimming as long as possible in the open water. The swimmer alongside exited the water sooner as, of course, it is much easier to swim than walk in water :). Another comment about this photo – someone once asked if this was my husband. Hmmmm, had a look at my weight training and nutrition plan after that comment !

Just keep swimming !
Just keep swimming ! Up and active training camp, Lanzarote 2013


– Riding position : pictures have told me that my overall riding position, from seat height to handlebar width, was cramped, giving me a limited range of motion and feeling really uncomfortable. A recent bike fit has helped me with this and the knee discomfort has gone.

– Hunched shoulders : like many, I hold tension in my shoulders – a good bike fit and generally working on relaxing while riding are areas I am focusing on.


– Relaxed and efficient arms : I’ve spent a lot of time working on keeping my arms and shoulders relaxed and working efficiently when running too, until I get in to a race apparently ! Lots of swinging is still going on which wastes so much energy and here’s just one example………

Crazy swinging arms, Upandactive training camp, Lanzarote 2013
Swinging arms, Up and active training camp, Lanzarote 2013

– Being airborne : it took me a while to understand the different running styles and the need to have minimal contact with the ground to help you cover the ground quicker. Again race photos have changed over time and there are a few occasions when I can see clear daylight under both of my feet, at the same time !!

Obviously there are many ways of getting feedback on your technique : running on a treadmill or riding a bike trainer in front of a mirror, video analysis, asking a buddy or attending a coached training event (see these links for a couple of companies and coaches I have used http://www.activetrainingworld.co.uk/ and http://www.upandactive.com/site/ ). All of these are helpful and one day we may all swim like mermaids, dance like Tour riders and glide like gazelles – one day, just one day !

And just one more that really proves that every picture tells a story…….. Suggested comments on what I am thinking ?? Answers on a postcard please !

Mile 17 & the heavens opened
Mile 17 & the heavens opened, LA Marathon March 2011

So I will ask again, Race day photos : friend or foe ? I’ll let you decide 🙂

Time to wrap up as the race coverage has finished and the rain has stopped – trails and some swim drills are calling. Before I go, next time you will read about my recent ride out with the Team Sky cars……..apparently its not all about the bike, there are planes, trains and automobiles involved too !

Catherine, Age Group girl

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