When did you start competing in triathlons and why?
I started competing in triathlons at the end of 2012 because I had been struggling with a knee injury since a serious operation two years ago. Additionally, my training had been supplemented a lot with rowing, swimming and biking. I missed out on an Olympic and Commonwealth Games so I wanted a race to focus my cross training. My running mentor Kelly Holmes at the time gave me a spot in the London Triathlon to race for her charity and I got pushed up to the elite wave and never looked back!
Do you feel that there is a particular personality that is drawn to the Ironman triathlon? If so, how does your personality fit that mould?
For sure. I think you have to love training and being busy to be a triathlete. You are constantly on the go and if you’re not doing a session you’re normally either recovering from one, getting ready for the next one or sorting equipment out…you’re certainly never bored! I also find that with the variation of sport you can push your body that much harder. You can train that much more and I love training so this was what made me decide to stick with it and not switch back to pure running when my knee healed up.
What’s going through your head at the start line?
On the start line, I’m normally thinking about a swim cue that Michelle has given me and the last tune that I played on my warm up. I’m mentally preparing for the push and trying to envisage that feeling of pain that I want to reach in the race; the feeling that you’re pushing so hard you’re almost numb. This kind of thing gets the nerves, adrenalin and excitement going!
Which is the more difficult aspect of preparing for the competition, the physical or the mental? Or are they equal in difficulty?
For me I think it’s a bit of both because training is addictive. You’re on that high from sessions all the time and you feel tired but fit. When you start to prepare for a race, suddenly you do a lot less and it can be hard to sleep. You can feel a bit heavier and then the mental aspect of having more free time can make you feel unproductive or like you’ve been made redundant, but then it’s all about testing yourself mentally that I find really helps. So, I throw myself into my work and coaching, study around the sport and try to keep occupied and keep telling myself the only way you can really push to that next level is if your body is super fresh on the start line. It can be quite boring at this time but you have to be self disciplined and know that it will be worth it when race day comes!
Which part of a triathlon is your strongest? Your weakest? Why?
I grew up running and I love to run, so I would definitely say that this is my strongest and the one I enjoy the most. I don’t think anything beats the feeling of a long run in the sun, just you and your tunes, driving the body to its next level and feeling at one with the world! My weakest would be the swim. I came into it competitively quite late and had never done open water swimming before the end of 2012. It’s not just about pushing your body; a lot of it is technical and it takes time and patience which isn’t a strength of mine.
What’s a typical training week for you? Do you have any top tips?
A typical training week for me would alternate between key swim, a long ride and run on Monday and Wednesday, key BRIC session Tuesday and Thursday, with a recovery swim and gym and then Friday just a swim. Saturday would involve a long BRIC and a recovery swim and a Sunday would consist of a long ride and long run. However, this does vary depending on the time of season. My top tip would be quality over quantity; enjoy your training and have variation in it. Train smart, and if you don’t know how to do this then get coaching from someone who is out there doing it themselves because it can save you from injury and keep you in a fab sport.
Are there times when you think ‘why am I doing this?’
I think the only time would be on a long taper, when I’m sitting around and I think ‘this so isn’t me’. But then come race day those thoughts are long forgotten!
How long do you see yourself competing?
I see myself competing for as long as possible! Maybe the oldest person to do Kona.
What’s your advice for someone just starting?
Enjoy it and get some good coaching! The start is a brilliant time to get all the right techniques ingrained and prevent any bad habits. This will give you a much more efficient, enjoyable and longer time in the sport.
Do you have any specific tips for competing in triathlons?
So much can be learnt from going out there and racing. I would say race little and often to begin with – nothing stimulates a race situation better than a race itself. I race a lot and find that the first races of the season are always the hardest. Then, when you get into the season it becomes routine and you can just focus on the push!
Which Hoka shoe style do you compete in? Does this ever change and what are the reasons for your choice?
I race in either the Clifton 5 or the Tracer – I love them both. They’re light, responsive and keep me in a good technique flow. For the longer races I tend to use the Hupanas and the Tracers for the shorter ones.