Ali Trauttmansdorff turned to triathlon after having two children and is now fitter than she was in her twenties! Sundried interview GB age group triathlete Ali Trauttmansdorff.
Have you always been super fit?
I would say that I have always been fit and done sport of some sort, be it track and field, golf, netball, paragliding etc, but certainly not as fit as I am today. It is quite a unique feeling to be fitter now than my 20s!
How did you get into the world of triathlon?
In November 2009 I had my second child Pia. I was sitting on my sofa with her and my friend Gill from next door, jumped over the fence (literally!) and came to tell me that I needed to get fit again and would I do a triathlon with her in 6 months. I looked in a rather bewildered way back at her and asked what on earth a triathlon was! However, being someone who is mostly willing to give something a try once, I agreed to do it and set about getting myself fit again. My bike wasn’t exactly what you would call the ideal bike but not knowing whether I would enjoy it or not, I put up with my rubbishy bike whose brakes didn’t quite work and attended my first race in Braintree. It was painful and hard but I weirdly enjoyed myself. I was way behind my two friends who did it with me however, but agreed to do another one in a few months’ time and tried to fix what went wrong in my first attempt. To my (and their!) astonishment, I beat both of them the second time and thought I might be onto something. I found a triathlon club – Tri Sport Epping – and the rest is history!!
How do you balance working in the city, training and being a mother?
My life is pretty full on and I have to be very creative about my training. I rarely can work out in the mornings during the week, as I have to get the kids to school. Lunch time classes and a regular schedule of training in the evening and weekends is the name of the game. I am also a member of a local running club Orion Harriers, which has brought on my running on and off road in leaps and bounds. It’s also very social! My kids have to be quite self-sufficient especially my eldest. We do a lot of sport in our house, so we all have to take turns and support each other. I am lucky to have a lot of energy and am someone who does not like sitting down for long. I never have time to sit down and watch the TV – life is too short. I download programmes that interest me and use the downtime on the tube. Free time for sport and to see those I love is too precious. As far as work in concerned, I think sport brings great benefits. You always have something very inspiring to speak about with clients and colleagues and I find people tend to respect those who have the discipline to participate in sport at a high level. I was recently interviewed in a Guardian article for Women in Leadership about how physical health supports your mental success. I believe that to be absolutely true.
What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Over the past few years, I have experienced a few. One sticks out, where I just had to apply myself and work hard to recover over an extended period. In December 2014 I tore the shock absorber in my hip and was told the neck of my femur, which had an odd shape, had caused it. Oh the joys of running! A very clever surgeon Prof. Ernest Schilders, quickly identified the problem as being FAI (femoroacetabular impingement), had me in the operating theatre within days and after 9 weeks I was able to slowly start running again, after a period on crutches.
In an attempt to try and boost myself with the big question mark over whether my hip operation would work properly hanging over my head, I sat down at the computer and signed myself up for a few triathlon qualifiers. Possibly wasted money but we live in hope and faith!
The first one I tried was in St Neots in the following May - I was slow. It was early in the year and cold in the river and the scar tissue in the hip was still playing up. Mum was there for moral support and there were a lot of very serious looking athletes there. But determined not to be beaten, I tried again about a month or so afterwards at Eton Dorney.
Much to my surprise I pulled it out of the bag and qualified for the World Sprint Triathlon Championships at the ITU Chicago Grand Final in September 2015. I had to keep pinching myself! This past year I have had to considerably work on pelvic strength and fix the aftermath of the operation.
What are your triathlon goals for 2017?
Fortunately, I have already achieved one goal and that is to qualify to compete in the European Sprint Championships in Duesseldorf. I would also like to qualify for the Worlds in Rotterdam. That would be my third worlds in a row. I need to work hard on my swimming over the winter and maybe with good progress I’ll have the chance to try and progress to the top 10. I’m currently in the top 20.
What has been your favourite race to date?
Gosh, difficult question. I love so many of them! The Worlds in Cozumel this September was great fun especially because I raced in both sprint and standard which is crazy, but the environment was hard from a heat management point of view. Many didn’t make it to the finishing line. I have also got to know some wonderful people in Triathlon and this is always a great time to catch up with them. Sometimes though the smaller local races are great fun. I did Stewartby Lake Standard distance in August and loved the set up and course. We also had Lucy Charles the UK Ironwoman complete it with us. Boy, was she fast on the bike!!
What are your top 3 tips for anyone looking to start triathlons?
Races - Find a race for novices so you don’t feel intimidated. Many clubs now do these. We do one at Tri Sport Epping every June – they are great fun and you receive a lot of friendly support. Training sessions are also often offered in advance.
Training - Get swimming lessons early if you need them. No point in struggling. Read about running technique or get help with it to avoid injury and get good running form quickly. Enjoy the joy of longer bike rides at the weekend and get used to cycling for longer distances on the road safely. Learn to change a tyre!! And don’t forget cross training. It is important – weights, stretching, yoga etc. Don’t end up doing too much high intensity. It’s simply not healthy.
Lifestyle - Tidy up your diet. Sugar, processed oils and wheat are energy and performance sappers.