What do most people do for their 40th birthday? Not enter four duathlons. Meet GB Age Group duathlete and Sundried ambassador: Debbie Bradley.
Have you always been into sport?
I rode horses from a young age and competed in show jumping and eventing, so I definitely had that competitive streak! When I was 22 I joined an all-male boxing gym and trained as the only female for 8 years. It was there I started to run a little and found I really enjoyed the discipline of structured training. I ran my first, and only, marathon at 32 and that’s where it all started for me.
What made you decide to enter the world of duathlon?
After the marathon, I joined a running club and improved a lot but was plagued with injuries. I started cycling with a triathlete friend purely as a way of cross-training but quickly fell in love with it! It didn’t take long before I wanted to race so I had a go at a few time trials before entering 4 duathlons for my 40th birthday, just to set myself a challenge and try something new. 3 years later I am loving it more than ever.
What’s been your best race to date?
The 2015 ETU European Duathlon Championships felt like a race when everything came together for me. After winning gold at the Worlds Championships I could feel the weight of self-expectation which was mentally tough in the lead up. Although I was beaten by a phenomenal runner in my Age Group, I came away with silver, the fastest bike split, and top 10 woman overall.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
For sure! In my first GB Age Group race – The 2014 European Duathlon Championships in Horst. I led coming in from the first run but hit a barrier and flipped my bike less than 3 minutes into the bike course. I went to get back on but I’d snapped both front forks so it was race over. All those months of training and it was over in a flash. I think the adrenalin must have kicked in because I stood at the finish line and cheered everyone in before realising I probably needed to go to hospital.
And your proudest achievement?
Definitely winning gold at the 2014 ITU World Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra. I couldn’t have asked for a better 40th birthday present. After the disappointment of my crash in Horst, to come back next race and win gold was pretty special. It’s hard to explain that moment when you realise all of those hours of sweat, sacrifice and tears have paid off.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I think this is every athlete’s biggest challenge. Being competitive is a major strength and a weakness at the same time. It’s hard when you work so hard and put so much of yourself into something for it to then go wrong. Last year I was in great shape and set to compete in the European and World Duathlon Championships. After a silly fall whilst out running in Lanzarote I damaged the tendon over my knee which wiped out pretty much the whole season.
In these instances, it’s not easy but I try to gain perspective and think of the bigger picture. I’m healthy and I have a beautiful daughter and there will be other races. The bottom line is I’m an amateur athlete and I’m meant to be doing this for fun!
What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Get a coach who will help you to train hard but sensibly and trust the process. Once you relax and enjoy racing, the results will come.
What are your goals for 2017?
The European and World Duathlon Championships are my target races but I’ve been working really hard on the bike so I’m hoping this will translate to 10, 25 and 50-mile time trial PBs as well. So watch this space!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Everyday people who love what they do. People with fire in their belly and a passion to reach their goals. I’ve learned from some pretty awesome friends that balancing work and family is most definitely not a barrier to achieving your dreams.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
It’s important to me that a brand has strong values that mean something to me. Knowing that every purchase made includes a charitable donation is pretty awesome. So not only are their products amazing but they are making a difference to others.
I love a nice t-shirt and Sundried do not disappoint. Their women's training tops are so stylish and are perfect for staying comfortable during hours of training. The Ruinette women's leggings are my absolute favourites as they are flattering and oh so comfortable! I hardly take them off! Thankfully they wash like a dream too.