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Ian Scarrott - Personal Trainer and Run/Triathlon Coach

by Alexandra Parren
Ian Scarrott Cycling Sundried

Ian has a plethora of sporting achievements under his belt, and hasn't let racing mishaps stop him from reaching his goal of representing Team GB.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes very much so. When I was younger I used to play football with my friends and dreamed of playing in the premiership alongside Steven Gerrard. The trouble is I wasn't very talented at football; don't get me wrong, I could play a bit and got better with age and practice, but I didn't excel at all like some of my peers. Through the years I played badminton, squash, and of all things got into ultimate frisbee whilst studying at Loughborough University. In my first year of playing, I made it onto the Loughborough first team as well as the Great Britain Junior team, I was a real natural at this extreme sport. I was selected to go to Sweden to the European Championships where the team eventually won Silver, however I dislocated my shoulder whilst trying out for a top six team, the equivalent of Everton FC. From there I didn't really recover and the injury repeated a few times before I decided to retire in my early twenties. It's a shame really as some of my teammates went on to win Silver at the World Championships recently, and you always wonder what if...

So from there I decided that as my arms weren't working all that well, I'd exercise my legs... and took up distance running. I had run a marathon when I was 18, with my longest run prior being 13 miles. How naive! One of my frisbee teammates said that I would never finish the race, but that spurred me on. I did it in 4 hours 51 minutes and didn't stop running (even when I went for a wee - thank God for side streets haha); lets just say telling me I can't do something means I'll probably just do it more.

What made you decide to enter triathlon?

After approximately 10 years in running and a few 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and marathons later I was training for the Belfast marathon and aiming for a sub-3 hour time and aiming for around 2h50, at a push 2h45 although I think looking back my confidence outweighed my ability. About 4 weeks before the race I ran a 1 hour 20 minute tempo for a half marathon comfortably and on a course with a few lumps and bumps, I then overtrained on overconfidence the following week and turned my leg whilst on a run meaning I would eventually miss the race.

I was gutted, I fell into a form of depression around exercise, running, and thought I am never going to do this again. It was too painful to work so hard for something I really wanted and then to have it taken away (it was my own fault). Apart from my somewhat over-dramatic response, I thought cycling looked fun and a few of my friends were doing it. I bought a £250 bike from eBay, started cycling, and thoroughly enjoyed the sun, community, and joy it brought.

I then went on holiday and started running again and enjoying it. The Summer of 2013 (I think) was glorious. Some friends and I were in devon and rented a house by the sea. I have always been a bit scared of the sea because of what is in it, but got encouraged into the water and challenged to swim to a buoy which was only about 25-50 metres in the distance. I thought this will be easy. So I started to flap and splash towards the buoy and before you know it I was only half way! Exhausted, but determined. I don't like things beating me so I pushed on with the help of my friend. He is a very strong swimmer and I was grateful to have him alongside me as I huffed and puffed away finally making it back to the beach. I collapsed for a while in exhaustion and just got my breath back.

From that point, I decided I wanted to give triathlon a go, but I wanted to learn how to swim front crawl properly. From there as they say, the rest is history... here I am 3 years on having competed at the World Championships for Great Britain in my age group. Finally, I had represented my country and ticked a box on my bucket list.

What’s been your best race to date?

My best race to date is actually a running race. The Loughborough Half Marathon. I did a lot of threshold and interval training, mixed in with a long run. I only trained 3/4 times per week but worked hard in those sessions, it was quality over quantity. During all of my training sessions,I felt so focused, so determined and ready to hit 1 hour 19 minutes 59 seconds which was my overall aim.

I started and ran the first 3 miles above my planned race pace and started to hurt, but thought hopefully I will adjust and keep up with these guys. I knew the field around me and thought I normally finish ahead of those I was racing against so just stick with it and you should start to get into a rhythm. The plan worked, not always advisable but I was brave enough to go for it and it paid off.

I passed the front group and spotted a friend of mine running in 4th, I thought if I can keep pace and catch him I am doing well... I then reigned him in over half a mile uphill comfortably and whilst he tried to keep the ace I put the hammer down and pushed on. I then got to 10 miles in a new 10 mile PB, astounded myself and thought wow sub 1h20 is on! I raced hard and got to the finish in a slightly short course in 1 hour 18 minutes and 14 seconds. It would have been top end 1h18, bottom end 1h19 if the course was true. I was elated! A hilly and slightly off-road course at times and a real strong time. It shows hard work and determination (as well as staying injury free) pays off!

And your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is representing Great Britain at the Triathlon Age Group World Championships in 2016. The one where Johnny (Brownlee) had a bit of a turn. I got to meet both Brownlee brothers and a bunch of other athletes including Mario Mola and Gwen Jorgenson. It is always an honour to pull on the vest for your country.

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

Plenty! My toughest race was probably the London Marathon in 2009 where I ran 3 hours 43 minutes, aiming for 3 hours 30. I arrived late and in with runners that were slower than I. Now London, whilst a brilliant race, is a meat market towards the back, it is not conducive to fast times because you have to dodge and weave around people, or so I found.

The first mile we stopped for a full minute because the roads were so jammed. So I was panicked, rushed, and dodging around people whilst trying to make the minute lost back. I did! In the first half... then 2 minutes later BAM... stomach cramps, 3 toilet stops, and I started to have a panic attack because I'd stressed myself out. I started to feel sorry for myself and welling up, it's funny thinking about it.

Thankfully the crowd cheered me on, and encouraged me to get going as I was about to give up. I then just started jogging, then running and then I had a brilliant (and my fastest I think) 10k of the race. So it was a disaster but a real blessing too.

How do you overcome setbacks?

It depends on what the setbacks are, I have had a few in the last 15 months with injury and illness which has meant that I have not been able to train in that time in the way that I wanted. It has meant some of the grand goals I had are nowhere near to completion. It has meant going through fear, a lack of money, and despair.

1) I deal with it by having a great community of people around me. My housemate, my family, my friends, my church all back me. They are all willing me on to do what I am passionate about.

2) By meditation and practising mindfulness, my Christian faith helps me leaps and bounds here. It helps me to stay focused and it means above it all I have a purpose that is bigger than me, that is bigger than my sport, for me it gives me hope for the future.

3) By reading books and stories such as GRIT, Black Box Thinking, Ryan Hall's autobiography, etc. They all talk about perseverance producing character, and with that a hope that you can do what you set your mind and heart to. A bit cheesy maybe but true.

There are probably other ways, above all I think trials test you, and you can either choose defeat or choose to learn and become a better and stronger version of who you are.

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

Enjoy it! We can get so lost in aero gains, times, and pressure to achieve... we are often driven by success. I believe success is a subjective thing. If your Jan Frodeno it's winning a World Title, if you're on the couch and want to get active it might be taking part in a Couch to 5k programme and completing it. Above all for me success is being able to swim, bike and run every day - so my ethos going forward and the advice I would give to anyone else is enjoy it!

What are your goals for 2017?

It was to achieve 4h45 in a half ironman race. I have since picked up a shoulder injury which has thrown that goal up in the air. So I am currently refocusing and thinking about my racing goals. I keep hearing those dreaded words "marathon, marathon, marathon" in my head haha! So watch this space... above all the focus will be to do what I love triathlon, but whilst my shoulder is recovering I'd love to crack the big 3 hours again.

Alongside this I work two part-time jobs, trying to setup a business called TriClub and am also trying to complete my Level 3 Personal Training qualification. This year I would also like to start my Level 2 Triathlon Coaching qualification. It is a lot but I am in the best position now to do all of these things whilst I am in the prime of life.

Who do you take your inspiration from?

Craig Alexander, Chris McCormack: These are the two guys I started to follow when I first started watching Ironman Triathlons, something I aspire to do in the future. Craig just has a dogged determination, puts in the effort, never misses a session and is so calculated with everything. He has a real humility about him. On the other side is Chris who has similar qualities to Craig but is outspoken, brash and a brilliant character, he's so innovative (Super League Triathlon) and cocky (watch any pre-race Kona interview), I think his personality is fantastic it is certainly entertaining!

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

Sundried is a great brand that is ethically minded, the owners are innovative and care about the environment. They see a bigger picture than just their own business. Within their business they have some high-quality performance and leisure wear which looks great and will be a privilege to wear when I am training and racing. My favourite bit of kit has to be the tri-suit. It's what will get me through the races and help me to be the best athlete I can. Well designed and engineered who could ask for more. It is a pleasure to be working with Sundried.


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