Strength in Lockdown: Andrew Aitken

Strength in Lockdown: Andrew Aitken

Andrew is a Personal Trainer and Coach in Crieff, and last year completed STARMAN for the first time. We asked him to tell us about his experience, and he has also kindly put together a run strength session for you to try!

” STARMAN is a phenomenal event. It’s location and backdrop for the three disciplines is stunning!

Last year, I fancied the challenge – it would take me far out my comfort zone as this was my first serious triathlon. Yes, I was daunted by the midnight start and the magnitude of each leg, but that was also what drew me. It thrilled me to be starting a swim at midnight in Loch Morlich, cycling through the dark with just my lights to guide me and running up one our highest mountains with the sun rising.

I’ve competed in my share of arduous events, marathons, hill races, mountain marathons, sportives. However I knew STARMAN was going to test me and be potentially the toughest event I had taken on.

I know the area well, having grown up, down the Strath in Newtonmore, that added to the appeal.

I arrived in good time for registration and kit check. It was all straightforward and relaxed. I then went back to my campervan for some food and to have a sleep. Dropping my bike at T1 and congregating on the beach in prep for the start, there was a great buzz of excitement in the air. I was looking forward to getting into the water.

The swim was amazing, I found the water mild (I normally swim outdoors in Loch Earn which is colder and often ‘choppier’ than Loch Morlich). The illuminated bouys were clear to see and I had no problem navigating between them in the dark. It was a fairly windy evening, so that did throw up the problem of the water being fairly choppy, although not as bad as I was used to – the fact I couldn’t see a wave coming did catch me out a couple of times as I would take a breath! I couldn’t believe how well my swim went, I passed many fellow competitors in the water.

Exiting the Loch, I ran up the beach and into T1. I took my time and made sure I dried off and got my kit for the bike all organised correctly. I turned my lights on and I was off! The first half of the bike was going to be nice with a tailwind and I certainly made good time down to Nethy Bridge and onto Grantown on Spey. Things started to bite on the 2nd half – it was tough going and the prospect of the climb up to Cairngorm Mountain was waiting. The climb was tough, especially with a stiff headwind, I was knackered by the time I reached T2.

Again, I took my time, got my appropriate gear on for running (hiking) up to Cairngorm summit. I got some fuel into me and turned on my head torch. It was still dark, dawn was still a good hour away. The stiff wind made for hard work up to the summit. The sun was now coming up as I left the summit cairn, turning to head down, my legs freed up – I love running downhill and this was a descent I could let my legs go and make hay down to the Hayfield.

The run route really is a cracker and I knew I still had the tough task of Meall a’ Bhuachaille left. The trail out to the Green Lochan is superb. I worked as hard as I could with what I had left in the tank going up Meall a’ Bhuachaille. It was a great sight at the top, I could see the beach below me, I let my legs go again racing downhill and towards the finish. What a feeling those last few hundred meters, coming out the trees onto the sand and across to the finish.

I have so many great memories from last year. STARMAN is a special event, it is truly amazing and I will definitely be back to take on the challenge again. I highly recommend giving it a go!”


Warm Up: 10 minutes

4 x 30 seconds hard and fast uphill (2 min recoveries). Always monitoring distance you get up the hill, aim to reach same point each rep.

After 4th rep a further 2 mins (4 min total rest) then repeat set.

After 2nd set (8th rep) again an extra 2 min rest (4 min total)

Ok now the kicker…..(a 9th) 30 seconds uphill, turn run downhill and start back uphill for a further (10th) 30 seconds (with only your time going back downhill as recovery!).

Cool Down – 10 minutes


Andrew is a qualified Personal Trainer, Athletics coach and Precision Nutrition coach in exercise nutrition. He is based in Crieff. You can find him here:


Andrew (middle) on Meall a’ Bhuachaille