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With the new year upon us, many of you may be thinking about joining a triathlon club. Our newest recruit, Steve rounds up his experience of joining Berkshire Tri Squad.

What made you decide to join BTS?

There’s a variety of reasons why I joined BTS. After a couple of seasons doing my own thing, having been relatively new to triathlon, I felt like I’d reached a point where I needed some structure to help me improve, to learn from others, and if I’m honest, fuel a bit of my competitive spirit! I saw BTS in action at Windsor Tri, and watched how supportive (and vocal!) they were with each other. I knew then that it would be a good thing for me and something I wanted to pursue. I did some research and met a few people at Bray Lake before I joined, and opted for the ‘tri before you buy’ approach. I liked that there was a broad range of people with differing abilities (we’ve got beginners, improvers, GB Age Grouper’s, you name it…), has its own spin studio, and offers closed pool sessions – I was losing the plot with lane rage at my local pool; we’ve all been there! There’s also the money side. I swim at Bray Lake at least 30 times a year, so having each swim subsidised meant that membership would almost pay for itself, aside of all the other benefits. Result….

What’s been the best part about joining the club?

Everyone has made me feel so welcome, it’s a truly inclusive club. There’s a great range of coach-led sessions each week which makes it easier to fit it in around family and work commitments, and no one puts you under any pressure. So far, I’ve managed to make it work and can definitely see the sessions paying off. I like the structured and diverse training, which has been tailored to me and uploaded to my own Training Peaks app. At some point, we’ve all been culprits of poor training which has lead to injury or sub-optimal performance. BTS has definitely given me a quality over quantity approach, which means I keep everything in check and dare I say it enjoyable (well, as much as you can enjoy repeatedly running up a hill, or flat out on an FTP test). I’ve learnt loads in the 6 months since I joined; sessions to determine my FTP and CSS, run clinics led by experienced coaches, and advice on the kit (there’s a gadget geek in all of us!). There’s also a great social side which definitely makes everything a lot more fun and balances out the hard sessions. The highlight event, without doubt, is Captains challenge which this year was led by Gemma and Chris; a frenzied morning of activity, competing as four-person relay teams against a number of other local Tri clubs. Loads of banter, too much cake, what a blast.

Which sessions do you attend?

There’s a couple of sessions that I try to do each week; Tuesday run club and Thursday swim club. Both are really great sessions and I really enjoy catching up with everyone and pushing myself a bit. I try to do the occasional bike ride on a Saturday morning but weekends aren’t easy given family commitments, so I join the ride outs when I can. During race season there’s always a few more things going on, I try to cram in as much as I can. There are always impromptu meet-ups at Bray Lake which are fun, and on a good day, Stephanie brings cake, what’s not to love.

Favourite discipline?

I’ve come from a running background so will always have a close affection with that, plus it’s probably the easiest to fit in when you’re busy. However, I’m definitely enjoying the swimming. There’s something about swimming in a lake early morning or early evening that can’t be beaten. I’ve worked hard on my swimming this year and it’s definitely an area where I’ve seen improvement, and hopefully, that will continue next season! So yep, I never thought I’d say this but swimming is my favourite discipline.

Areas to work on in 2020?

My primary goal next year is to really think about my approach to training, focused on consistency by sticking to the plan set by the coaches.

I’ve set myself two main goals for next year; increase my FTP which is something I’ve already started working on as part of my winter training plan, and to improve my swim form (and along the way hopefully learn what all the pool kit I’ve purchased is for!). I also want to do more of the dreaded brick sessions and get used to the jelly legs off the bike.

Advice to anyone thinking of joining?

I was really apprehensive when I joined as you never know whether joining a club is going to work out for you. Honestly, BTS has been amazing for me and I’ve learnt so much from so many people in the 6 months since I joined. You just need to embrace it, set some goals of what you want to get out of it, and always be willing and open to learning. Speak to Martyn membership@berkshiretrisquad.com, reach us on Facebook or anyone at the club and come to one of our sessions to try it out. It worked for me and is a good way to get a feel for the club.