Jessica is a duathlete who has competed at world level. She talks to Sundried about training and motivation.
Have you always been into sport?
I got into sport off the back of weight loss from the age of 15. By 17, I was competing for my county in running and I won a southern counties cross country medal.
How did you first get into duathlon?
From the age of 18-27, I suffered an on/off battle with bulimia, anorexia and laxative abuse, which I speak openly about and use my social media platform to help others and to raise awareness. I got my first road bike aged 18 and I truly took to cycling aged 20. It was my brother who actually had the idea I should try duathlon as I did both sports.
In 2016, I qualified to represent Team GB in Age Group Duathlon. That year, I became British champion and World silver age group medal holder. Unfortunately, I suffered an injury at the end of 2016 which saw me take 2017 out of GB competition but I returned to competitive duathlon in early 2018 when I became British champion once more as well as World bronze medal holder and silver European medal holder.
At the end of 2018, I began my studies to become a personal trainer and took a step back from competing to give myself time to build my own business. This coincided with a knee injury and being out of running for most of 2019 anyway!
In the interim, I’ve also qualified twice for Team GB to compete in the world Gran Fondo cycling by qualifying at the Tour of Cambridge.
I returned to running in November 2019 and was determined I would make a return to competing January 2020 and I did. Between January 1st and 12th, I competed in 4 running races and at one qualified to represent my county (Cambridgeshire) at the inter-counties cross country in March.
What's been your best race to date?
My best performance to date was my first World Championships for duathlon. I competed over standard distance (10k run/40k bike/5k run), and ran 37.27 for the first 10k run. That was really quite good, but at the time I got so caught up in pushing forward I forgot to stop and appreciate the journey!
And your proudest achievement?
My proudest moment was winning bronze and silver at world level and having my parents watching. Even though it was not my strongest race to date, I had just come back from suffering a virus similar to glandular fever that had seen me not train for 3 weeks. It was my dad who said I was stubborn and determined like him so he knew there was no point in telling me I wouldn’t get to that start line! At the end of the race, he put his arm round me and said how proud he was of me, that meant everything!
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
My toughest race was probably my first duathlon back from injury in February 2018. I qualified for Team GB but I don’t know how as my fingers froze in the cold and I couldn’t get my helmet off in transition, then my irritable bowl flared up which left me dashing for the loo on the second run!
I finished and thought “wow, if I can qualify after all that happening, we are in for a good year” and sure I was. I won 1 British title, 1 silver European medal and 1 Bronze world medal in less than 8 months after that.
What are your goals for 2020?
I plan to make a return to duathlon, wanting to come back from injury more determined than ever to bring home that gold medal.
I have several big running competitions on the cards between now and March and then in June I have the Chrono Time Trial at the Tour of Cambridge which is the qualifier for the amateur Gran Fondo World Championships.
I will also aim to do a GB qualifying race for duathlon this year so as to aim to qualify to compete for GB in the world/ European championships next year in 2021.
Who do you take inspiration from?
My biggest inspiration is my dad. He’s competed as an athlete for Team GB in running and he has completed a 2.27 London marathon at a time when his health was not at its best. He represented GB as a veteran runner and has competed at a particularly high standard over the years.
What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?
I’ve had sponsors before and I’ve had ambassador roles, but I have to believe in a product. If I don’t like it or believe in its principles. I would never advertise it.
Sundried is high quality and durable and it’s so comfortable to wear. It’s a brand that not only looks good but feels good to train in too. It’s hard to find a brand that covers all aspects with running, cycling and duathlon.
As to inspiring others, it’s what I do, I use my social media platform to help others see that we are all capable of achieving great things if only we can open our mind up to believing this is the case. I live to inspire others and I’ve always said if sharing my journey of how I overcame my eating disorder as well as my success in sport and rehab from injury can help one person, I would shout about it from the roof top if needs be.
We never have any idea who’s watching our journey and story and who takes strength from that so we need to be kind, always. For anyone struggling to get motivated, it all starts and ends with you! Don’t make your goal so far ahead you get disillusioned or stray off course, short, medium and long term goals are what it’s all about. Take strength and courage from others around you to build a self belief and self worry that help you carry yourself on your tough days.
“You won’t always be motivated, so on these days you must be disciplined.”
My favourite bit of Sundried kit is Sundried Piz Ela sports bra. It's so comfortable and sits well when running which is key as well as looking great.