As triathletes we spend a fortune on the latest kit to help us go faster – but how much do we invest in the psychological side of our performance?
Admit it or not, the majority of us suffer from pre-race nerves the morning (and night) before a big race and this is where two adventure racers and triathletes, Nick and Steve Tidball, hope to help with this eye-catching pink (we'll come to that colour) hoodie.
The brothers' company, Vollebak, aims to design clothing that fuses design with elements of physiology and psychology to improve performance. “We were racing a lot and suffering from an inability to sleep the night before,” says Nick. “Insomnia burns a lot of energy - you only have to look at the brain and how it affects you. So we wanted to develop a piece of clothing that helps you relax before a race.”
Now this might sound a little hippy-ish, but the brothers have spent years developing their product and along the way have looked at what some of the biggest teams in the world – including Team Sky and the SAS – do to help rest the nervous system and decrease stress before key events.
So how does the hoodie claim to help you relax? Through four key technologies:
1. The colour, Baker-Miller Pink, is named after the directors of the institute that developed it in the 1970s. It is thought to have a calming effect.
2. The mesh visor encourages you to breathe through your nose, which helps calm the body (think yoga breathing),
3. Asymmetric pockets act as slings. Tuck your hands in and you'll be hugging the body. The move also encourages you to breathe from your stomach.
4. An iPod pocket is included and the idea is you listen to a special 'pink noise' soundtrack while wearing the hoodie, which forces you to relax. 220 readers can download this for free and try it via the link here.
The hoodie is also warm and waterproof, which the brothers tell us makes it ideal for pre and post-race too, when it's important to keep cosy.
Steve says: “As athletes and designers we've focused on launch concepts that enhance the incredible technology that already exists inside the human mind and body.” Nick adds: “We treat athletes like NASA treats its astronauts. Our job is to help them push their physical and cognitive limits in new and unimagined ways.”
So does it work? We'll be finding out soon in a full test for 220 Triathlon's gear pages.
Vollebak Baker Miller Hoodie, £220 from www.vollebak.com.