Anna Larkins Athlete Ambassador
Anna is an athlete who developed a love for triathlete once she joined a triathlon club. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes I've always been sporty, which is strange as my family are not particularly into playing or 'doing' sport. They always have been incredibly supportive though; my parents were forever taking me to swimming club, cross country, football practice and matches, athletics meets etc. I think they probably deserve medals for the support they gave to me growing up! They let me test out my strengths, experience success and failure, and gave me a love of sport in what ever guise I had the opportunity to try.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I've always been a runner and a swimmer and was doing these at a recreational level for a while after finishing school. I was really into mountain biking for a while and my boyfriend suggested that I join a triathlon club; I figured I could swim and run already and it wouldn't be a big step to try out road cycling and get into triathlon. Joining a club was a great way to meet new people after I moved to a new area. My local club (Leighton Buzzard Tri Club) is fantastic and is great at developing athletes at whatever level they choose.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race to date was the ETU Age Group Aquathlon I did in Ibiza last October. They took us out into the middle of the harbour in a party boat and we all had to jump off the back of the boat (like walking the plank!) to get onto the start line. It was so warm it was a non-wetsuit swim which suited me and I had a great swim leg. Once out of the water and on the run I focused on picking off people in front of me one by one and moved even further up the pack. I finished 4th in my age category having got out of the swim in 8th. The run was incredible- it followed the coast line as the sun was setting, and passed lots of the bars and restaurants Ibiza is famous for where people were supporting us.
And your proudest achievement?
Last year I was fortunate enough to race for Great Britain in the ETU Age Group sprint distance championships in Glasgow. This was an incredible race and I really enjoyed the competitive atmosphere of a major event. It was my first experience representing my country and I was able to share this with some fellow members of my club too! I came 5th in my age category which I was very pleased with. I came away from the event with a qualifying position for next years ETU championships in Russia.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
During my qualifying race for Glasgow last year I came off my bike spectacularly as I came into transition. I cut up and bruised my hip, my knees and my feet pretty badly, but I didn't let it stop me! I didn't even stop to look at my injuries and went straight out into the run- I ran a 5km personal best despite all that!
At the other end of my season I took part in another qualification race and cut the bottom of my foot as I was getting onto my bike after the swim. I finished the race and qualified but had to get my foot glued back together afterwards- you could say I don't do anything by halves!
How do you overcome setbacks?
This is something I've been working on as I can be quite hard on myself. My club has access to a fantastic sports psychologist who I meet with when ever I feel like I need some extra support. Generally she encourages me to write down and acknowledge the positives from the situation and list the problems I am facing. She then helps me to come up with solutions to these problems; often I find that I already have the answers, I just need a bit of prompting to get there!
I've got a lot better over the past year. I now have the tools I need to sort things out and by talking to people who understand where I'm coming from I'm able to figure things out for myself.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Get some advice about your training so you can set it up properly. I drifted along for years without ever really realising my potential; it was only when I started being coached properly that I've discovered what I'm capable of! You don't need to go the extreme of hiring a personal coach, just talk to the coaches at your local club or do some research online! If you don't structure your training properly you may never make progress at the rate you want. At the other end of the scale can do yourself more harm than good by getting injured or ill through over training.
What are your goals for 2019?
This year I am racing for GB at the ETU standard distance championships in Weert, Netherlands and have also qualified for the ETU sprint distance championships in Kazan, Russia. I'm also looking to do the British Championships in both standard and sprint distance. This is my first year racing the standard distance at this level so I'll be looking to test out my strengths and enjoy the experiences. With the sprint distance races I'm hoping to build on the success I had last year! I enjoy racing and feel privileged to have the opportunity to represent my country in a sport I love.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Much of my inspiration comes from people I know on a personal level. My club has some really dedicated athletes and coaches who are all inspirational in their own way. My coach (Colin) has been a big source of inspiration for me; he raced for GB himself and so understands the pressures and expectations I put on myself to do well. He is able to reign me back in when I get carried away too!
My boyfriend (Adam) has encouraged and supported me every step of the way and is the one who originally inspired me to take up triathlons. When I had the opportunity to qualify for the GB Age Group team he was also the one who gave me the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone and give it a go.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love the Sundried eco ranges that are created using sustainable materials and in an ethical way. I am passionate about the environment and am looking at ways to become more sustainable in my day to day life. Any company that is willing to take steps to be more ethical and kind to the environment is worth taking more than a second look at! It's also a great example of a business ran by real people rather than getting caught up in the corporate nonsense you see in retail these days. They have stayed close to their roots- and are based in Southend where my boyfriend grew up!