Laura is an adventurous sportswoman who loves finding new challenges to take part in. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete and PT.
Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.
I've taken part in a number of triathlons including the London Triathlon. I always try to choose events that really challenge me but also take place with a beautiful backdrop; the Wales Swim in Tenby, Jersey Triathlon on our beautiful sister island, some Sportifs in Devon and France. My biggest challenge to date was Man V Horse; a small event in mid Wales which originated after a debate between two locals in a pub over which could run faster for longer; man or horse. The event takes place every year across a 23 mile course of gruelling ups, downs, bogs, rivers and every other sort of obstacle you'd expect to find in the welsh countryside. I plan to take part in it this year again! More regularly I do Parkrun but I also organise triathlon, swim, bike and run events through my own social enterprise so I now get enjoy watching others challenge themselves!
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I have always been active but it wasn't until I suffered with depression during teenage years and through to my early twenties did I discover fitness as a means for managing my mental well being. A friend introduced me to triathlon which I quickly became hooked on. I love the variety, the opportunity to zone out on long runs, long swims, long bike rides, and I love that it's shown me my body is capable of more than I believe it is. It's given me confidence and also really helped me to look after myself. Even better than that, it's given me a career change and a passion
What are your training goals now?
Over the last 12 months, injury has taken me away from running and into the gym. I've been learning lots about functional mobility and how I lack the ability to perform basic movements. I've discovered a love for strength and mobility work and I've also recently joined a boxing gym. My goals have shifted from training for specific events to learning more about movement, building strength and also learning the art of boxing which takes a lot more skill than I've ever appreciated. I guess you could say my fitness goals have moved towards challenging my mind as well as my body. I still love to swim and plan to swim the iconic 5km open water swim to the Island of Herm from Guernsey this year so as well as lifting and boxing, I'm getting back into the pool lots this winter in preparation for this swim.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I'm currently learning to play the Ukulele!
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
One of the most challenging things I've had to learn about running a business in our industry is not to take things personally. So many clients are 'buying' the chance to be trained by you for your personality and ability to motivate, make people feel at ease, communicate in a way they get etc. So when clients decide to work with someone else, it's really easy to think it's because they don't like you anymore! It took me a while to deal with those thoughts but now I'm careful to remember that I too am a client and I too want to try new things and be constantly challenged; it's nothing personal
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I've experimented with paleo diets in the past but found them unrealistic given my lifestyle and my sport. The most important thing I've learned about nutrition is that everyone is different and once you learn to listen to what your body likes and doesn't like, it becomes a whole lot easier. It's also really important that we understand that women are different to men, particularly when it comes to nutrition. We have to consider our cycles and the impact that has on our training and how we feel; nutrition can be a huge help or hindrance, depending on how we manage it. My body likes a high fat, low carb diet. I've never cut out carbs completely because I know I need them for my sport so I try to always include slow releasing carbs at lunch and think about replenishing my stores after a long workout. I also take a lot longer to recover form high stress workouts or big events so again, I really plan my nutrition carefully for pre- and post-workout when I know they're going to smash my body (not too often these days!). Other than that, I don't give myself a hard time about it all because I love food so much and it brings me a lot of joy. I eat a lot of peanut butter, a lot of avocado, black coffee and dark chocolate. I've also been known to eat pizza, drink cold beer and hide a snickers bar in my bike jersey!
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
The majority of my clients are triathletes, runners, swimmers or cyclists. Many are giving it a go for the first time so need lots of encouragement through those really hard first few months when all your head wants to tell you is you're no good, this is too hard and 'what on earth do you think you're doing?!'. Empathy and understanding is really important in the kind of coaching I do. Clients much prefer to hear 'I know how tough it is but you will get there' over typical 'no pain. no gain' mantras. For more experienced athletes, my advice is to always have a goal and make it something that really means something to you. there's no point signing up to a half marathon because that seems like the obvious next step for someone who's seen their Parkrun times improve. A goal can be as personal as crossing the finish line with my children looking on or it can be as public as being National Champion..whatever it is, it should make you smile at the thought of achieving it
Talk us through your training regime.
I train most mornings after I've delivered early morning coaching sessions. I head to the gym or the pool and spend between 40 and 60 minutes immersing myself in whatever my activity is for that day. I train my legs three times a week; focusing on key muscle groups (glutes, quads, hamstrings) as well as lots of rehab work that I hope will get me running pain free again. I have poor mobility in my thoracic region which limits the strength I have in the pool and also hinders my progress with some of the big strength movements I'm working on so I spend two sessions a week trying to mobilise this region while also building strength in all of my overhead movements - I would love to be able to complete an overhead squat but until I gain mobility through my upper body, there's no way! I box twice a week in my local boxing club which I absolutely love. For a triathlete who has focused so long on pacing, endurance and data it feels liberating but also really challenging to throw everything I have into 2 minute rounds! I also attend one pilates session a week which helps me really focus on my core strength and the art of breathing.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
As a triathlon coach British Triathlon are great at keeping me up to date with various CPD courses and coaching opportunities through their mentorship program. Outside of that I follow some great swim, bike and run coaches and athletes on youtube, Facebook and Instagram; kinetic revolution, swim smooth and content delivered by brands including Specialized, Under Armour, New Balance. I always read men's health as I find the tips on strength work and mobility a lot more insightful than female specific magazines. I follow functional movement gurus like Kelly Starrett via MobilityWOD.com and female nutrition and training experts like Dr Stacy Sims and I listen to podcasts on endurance training including Fitter Radio and Endurance Ladies Radio.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
- Always keep it enjoyable. The moment you stop enjoying it, the moment you need to find something else
- Add variety; remember that fitness only comes from constantly challenging yourself
- The workout is just the stimulus, the recovery is when the magic happens so if you want to get fitter you must include recovery in your program to allow adaptation to take place
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Why work with Sundried?
I value the brand's work around sustainability and also all of the amazing work it does to promote local events, charities and fitness stars. The brand is founded by personal trainers and athletes which to me means that their apparel and kit is designed by experts and they speak a language that is relevant to me and my clients. The fact that it loves Triathlon too is an added bonus!