Erin McIlveen running track and field athlete

Erin got into triathlon after an injury. She talks to Sundried about life as a track and field athlete-turned triathlete.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes, I have been into sport since I was able to walk.  At school I played every sport under the sun – hockey, badminton, tennis, swimming, athletics and cross country.  At University, I narrowed it down to hockey and running and then by the end of University I focused more on running. After a big injury I decided to take up triathlon training to help my rehabilitation. I found I was able to get more out of a session swimming than aqua-jogging, however it was good for easy runs.

What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

I started triathlon training about 6 months after I underwent an operation on my ankle in 2016. Specifically, I joined a triathlon club and swam as a way of getting my fitness back up to scratch until I was able to run. I have continued with the triathlon training on and off since and plan to do my first one this summer.

What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

Well, having not competed in any triathlon races yet my favourite race to date has to be my first half marathon run in Brooklyn, New York in 2016.  I had never raced that distance before in a race and came 2nd female so I was pretty chuffed. I would like to compete in the LOCH loMAN triathlon this year…maybe my first race will be open water!

running track athlete

And your proudest achievement?

The first time I ran for Northern Ireland in 2008 and got my first kit for Northern Ireland. I was very excited!

Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?

My toughest race is probably the first marathon I did at age 18. I did do a bit of training but probably not enough. I hit the wall and the last 3 miles were very painful but I managed to finish it. I had to go to school the next day with many blisters!

Related: How To Avoid Hitting The Wall When Running

How do you overcome setbacks?

It can sometimes be very difficult, especially when you have been building yourself up for certain races.  I usually try to analyse the whole pre-race preparation and race itself and try to focus on what was good and what I could improve on for next time.  I speak to my coach and family as well which always helps.

What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

Probably two things:

1) There are more important things in life than winning races or attaining a personal best. Be thankful you can actually compete at all.

2) Functional training will reduce your injury risk! I wish I had known that a long time ago. Since I started doing more functional training I haven’t had an injury!

What are your goals for 2018?

Compete in my first triathlon including an open water triathlon.

Who do you take your inspiration from?

When I was growing up as a runner it was Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Holmes.  Probably more recently in relation to triathlon it would be Alistair and Jonathon Brownlee and Aileen Reid.

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

I like the fact that it is ethically made and has a small carbon footprint…something I aspire to.  I specifically like the shorts and Breithorn red sports bra.

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