“Oh jeez, here she comes again” Gary probably thought, each time I drilled him for information about triathlon in the weekly North Devon Road runners session. “Tell me more” I'd say, “how does it work, which comes first, what do you wear, what bike do you ride, how do you swim that far”?
Mesmerised that one sport can include three sports in one (!) it was just perfect for a girl like me who was captain average at many sports, but not great at any!
I had just turned 30, given up smoking, run a marathon for charity, and heard about a chance to represent your country in triathlon. Instantly I made wearing a GB suit my goal.
'Rusty on a bike' would be a slight understatement, as I had grown out of the last one I owned at age 6! In my late 20’s I failed an RAF interview, unable to swim 6 lengths of a 25m pool in no time limit. At least I could run a bit!
There was work to do, granted, but it sounded fun. Triathlon here I come….
…. and 10 years later I feel Ive learnt a little about this sport, in what has been an extraordinary decade that took me to many wonderful places.
This year I turn 40, and as the number 3 is significant in triathlon, I wanted to mark the occasion with 3 final challenges before a short break & well earned rest.
Last year I qualified for 3 races that will take place in 2019;
1- ITU World Long Distance champs, Pontevedra, Spain
2- 70.3 World Champs, Nice, France
3- Ironman World champs in Kona, Hawaii
I competed in race No1 this past weekend, with a less than ideal build up of illness and doubt as to whether I would even make it to the start line. Nobody was more surprised than me to finish on the podium, Bronze medal in the World Champs, what a start to the season 😊!
I'm forever indebted to my body for putting up with ten years of endless training, and relentless plights to get faster, but im more excited than ever to line up at these amazing events this year, and share my experiences with anyone who is interested! So please don’t hesitate to ask questions or share your own experiences.
Whatever your reason to take part in tri; to smash a personal best, qualify for the Worlds, or simply doing your first ever race, here are 9 lessons I've learnt so far. I hope they help in some small way:
1- Don’t throw away your early medals.
Reminiscing about how far you’ve come is something you have earned, enjoy it! AND celebrate everyone else’s success. Don’t see all other athletes as competition outside of a race, be happy for their achievements and it will come back to you ten fold, often when you need it most!
2- Thank your body
I do this out loud during a race!! Even when my body is injured or ill. Its just to remind myself of what its done so far, and what its still capable of...
3- Imagery is key
When you book the race, imagining yourself in the finishing shute. When racking your bike, imagine your fast, slick transitions. Pre-race, imagine overcoming tough times, and your coping strategies for them.
4- Consistency, consistency, consistency
Triathlon is an endurance sport, even the sprint distances, so be patient. Even if you can't train many hours, make sure what you do is worthwhile, and keep it consistent.
5- Throw some sessions or races away
It shows courage and professionalism to prioritise your season goals. So don’t be afraid to curb a session, or not line up at the start of a race if it's part of a bigger picture.
6- Free speed
Shaving off time, and gaining speed for no extra effort comes in many forms, but mostly in good nutrition, slick transitions, & well fitting kit.
7- Change the bits you can change..
….ignore the bits you can't.
8- Work on your weaknesses
Its hard to be motivated to practice your weak discipline/s day after day, week after week, but it will pay off trust me! If I hadn’t buried myself in learning how to ride a bike fast my last couple of years would have been a different story, and I didn’t even like cycling for the first 5 years!
9- How bad do you want it?
Its going to be uncomfortable, and that’s ok, it's meant to be. The finish line is all the sweeter for it!
And it goes without saying, but always thank the volunteers!
To follow my passion for triathlon I have now set up a project called Mojo to offer advice and coaching to those taking part in any swim, bike, run or triathlon challenge, through active holidays and camps (UK and abroad), and some limited one to one coaching too. I'm uber excited to start this new chapter...!
Feel free to follow any updates on Mojo on www.unleashyourmojo.co.uk