Nikki Bartlett is one of the UKs best loved triathletes, wearing her exuberant love of all things Tri on her sleeve for all to see. Nikki has time for everyone, sharing tips and responding to questions from fans, so we asked her to share some of her favourite tips for Neuff Red readers too. And to top it off, one lucky person will win a training day with Nikki!! Bring your bike, bring your running shoes…. and bring a smile!!
Read on to see what she says, and enter our competition to train with Nikki for a day by signing up to our newsletter. There is also a chance to ask Nikki your own question, which she will answer in an exclusive email to everyone who signs up.
Nikki Bartlett on Triathlon, Life & COVID
2021 hasn’t been the easiest year, with races loaded together, travel restrictions and more illness than usual. What have you learnt from 2021 that you will take forward to the next season?
Literally at the beginning of 2021, even right up to March, we nearly emigrated to America as we couldn’t see the European season opening up. I’m so glad we played the patient game, and believed that the season would open up eventually.
I feel so so fortunate sat here in my off season having achieved 4 x podiums, 9th at the IRONMAN World 70.3 Championships and 4th at the Paralympic Games.
I think there’s one - two words in there which resonates with everything in life; patience and belief.
Some other takeaways would be:
- Be adaptable, I literally fully committed to the World 70.3 Champs about 6 weeks before, and it ended up as one of my best results to date. Now we can plan more this year, understand how your body responds to the vaccines (mine was terrible for about three days, so I can factor this into my programme).
- Train with others / find an environment which works well for you; plus its super fun!
- Find a coach to work with who understands you as an athlete, your needs and wants and has your welfare and person before athlete at heart
- The magic, the one secret ingredient: consistency! Yep no secret, but is the most powerful thing you can do! Find a routine, plan and structure that you can do week in week out, still have a life outside of the sport, family and friends and social balance. No one day hero workouts. And make sure you have balance and have a life too. It works hand in hand with performance, happiness and longevity.
- Recovery is king! Look after yourself! In life we always feel guilty for no alarm days, sofa days, naps, chill time. You don’t have to work yourself into a hole to deserve this. This should be structured into your daily / weekly life as a way of life, rather than ‘deserving’. I sit down the days before, and structure in recovery time. Switch off time / nap time. Literally just taking yourself away from your phone and laptop can rejuvenate your mind.
You had Covid in October and have had to miss Ironman Portugal 70.3. What are your tips for managing illness and recovery when all you really want to do is train?
Yes for anyone who doesn’t know, I came back to the UK for 5 days between my training camp and 2nd place at IRONMAN Lanzarote 70.3, and my last race of the season - Portugal 70.3. Unfortunately a few days after I landed Bex developed symptoms, and I had a dilemma whether to travel as I didn’t have any symptoms at the time. Morally it didn’t sit right with me so I pulled out, and thankfully I did as I came down hard with COVID, and sofa surfed for 10 days!
What we learnt:
- Listen to your body, everyone is different. Recognise early symptoms (two days before I tested positive on a PCR Test - lat flow still saying negative, I had some head aches and just felt off, which I blamed on training tiredness, tapering, and being back in the cold after 3-4months in 30+ deg heat!. So if someone close has come down with COVID, be really aware of these early symptoms.
- Supplement for health: I was religiously taking, and still taking high quality (batch tested) products to help with recovery and help prevent long Covid: Vitamin D3 (4000), Omega 3 (I’m also a veggie so needed help on this), Ferrograd C (iron with vitamin C for absorption), Probiotic, Zinc, CBD to help with sleep to aid recovery
- Be patient: I took 10 days completely off of exercise. I mean I wasn’t even tempted as I felt so rough. But Bex was recovering quicker than me, so don’t be tempted if your body is saying no. Play the long game. I called my off season as soon as I caught Covid, as I didn’t want the temptation to come back into training too quickly. So far since symptoms I’ve had 10 days off, then into 4 weeks of off season, no intensity (bar one XC 4 weeks later), HR monitored easy exercise as and when you feel up to it.
My best advice would be to get some advice. I’m ‘lucky’ as all my symptoms were nose upwards and nothing went to my chest area. The recovery process will differ from person to person, and symptoms are so different from each person too.
You mention using CBD to improve your sleep. It is a product which has been gaining a lot of coverage recently, so what are your thoughts?
What's fabulous about CBD Triathlete is that the quality and grade of CBD in the product is extremely high. Therefore you're actually getting in the quality and pure isolated CBD and MCT oil that you need in the tincture to enhance sleep quality. It's simple to take, I go with approx 0.5 on the dropper, and you just leave it under your tongue for 60 seconds. And I take this about an hour before I drop off to sleep. Sleep is something I've struggled with massively in the past. We've invested a lot in a BIG bed (2 x memory foam single mattresses pushed together - one duvet), eye mask, ear plugs, making the room as cool as possible. All the tricks. So the CBD Triathlete tincture has been working a treat so far.
Secondly, and seriously important to consider as an athlete, and as a Pro athlete who's on the testing pool too, I need products which are batch tested, informed sport and independently tested and verified. Which the full range of TRI ISOLATE CBD Triathlete products are*. So I'm in full confidence that the products are not prohibited by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). Key for AG athletes too - as IRONMAN test at their World 70.3 and IRONMAN World Championships for AG athletes too.
There's also an easy to scan QR code on each package.
You are sponsored by Clif Bar, who offer a great range of energy bars and chews. How do you use Clif bars for training and/or racing?
I’m about to go into my 4th year with Clif Bar, which is a huge honour. It's a fantastic brand with a high quality range of products, and their ethos about the environment, business and workplace is just everything I look for in a brand and product. I also highly recommend their book - Raising the Bar. You’ll come away with so many nuggets.
I use a lot of the Clif Bloks. They’re quick to absorb, act and super easy to carry (run or on my bike!). I religiously use them in racing too, and that’s the key to nutrition success in a race - practice it in training. The strawberry is my go-to flavour, but the margarita flavour is highly used for some extra sodium for my insane sweat loss and hot races.
I religiously always have a Builders Bar to hand. This 20% protein bar not only tastes incredible (peanut and chocolate is a fave flavour of mine!), but its packed with vitamins and high quality protein. Highly recommended to have one in your gym bag, swim bag, car (trust me!), and work place. I have mine after a session to get the protein release, and sometimes towards the end of a ride - kick start the recovery, and stop that post ride come home and raid of the cupboards. We all do it ;)!
Can you give us some tips for race day nutrition?
My biggest tip is start practicing now!!! Sit down with your coach, understand what carb per hour you’re aiming for (some go by calories), and start practicing it in training. Get your stomach used to it (practice in high intensity / race pace sessions). We’ve seen those excuses before; my race didn’t go to plan due to nutrition / stomach issues. Well now is the time to practice and try and prevent this from happening.
How do you plan your 2022 season, and what tips would you give an age-group triathlete?
We are in the planning stages at the moment. We always have an end of year review (with your coach). Where we sit down for a couple of hours, go through the year (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats), then reflect on our coach athlete relationships by identifying things we should stop / start / continue doing. Then plan the big key races of the year. I’m aiming for a big performance at IRONMAN World Championships in St George (May). So I want a prep race, plan my training camps, how long I want to go out before, start planning all my kit I need (bike fit, nutrition, new shoes etc), so its not all last minute.
This is a big topic so if anyone has further Q get in touch!
What will the training day look like for the lucky winner?
Training day, Q&A, top tips, technique, see some behind the scenes into my life as a Pro here in Loughborough!
Win a Training Day with Nikki Bartlett!
To enter, simply sign up to our newsletter below. Please remember to check your emails to confirm your sign-up, or your entry won't be valid.
All subscribers will then receive a follow-up email from Nikki covering the answers to the questions you ask when signing up. A great chance to hear direct from one of our favourite pros!
Competition Closes Sunday 28th November 2021. Winners will be notified Monday 29th November 2021.
*CBD Triathlete products are currently tested by PhytoVista laboratories according to WADA guidelines. Informed Sports does not currently test CBD products but is in the process of developing an appropriate test which CBD Triathlete will use once available.