Denise Yeats - Athlete Ambassador
Have you always been into sport?
Interestingly no, as I was badly asthmatic as a child, and it made exercise quite a struggle for me. Then, aged about 18 I heard that swimming could help asthma and I got involved in doing some swimathon events. Well if you are going to swim, why not start with 2.5k!
How did you first get into triathlon?
Throughout my twenties I was really into swimming and participated in Masters competitions. I always preferred the outdoors element of the sport though and branched into doing open water competitions, anything from 1 – 10 miles. Those were the days before OW swimming was really popular and it was also in icy Scottish lochs! A bit of a dare with a friend then had us running the London Marathon in 2000, and a few marathons later it seemed a natural progression to introduce cycling.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
I think it would be the ‘Swashbuckler’ Middle Distance Triathlon in 2018. It was my first attempt at this distance and I really didn’t know what to expect. It was such a beautiful course though, from the eery twilight swim start, through the beautiful New Forest bike route, and even the slightly hilly run. I was amazed and delighted to place second in my age group with a time of 5:44 too! It inspired me to go on and do the Mallorca 70.3 event the following year - now there are some hills…
What is your proudest achievement?
It would have to be my bike ride between Argentina and Chile over the Andes in 2017. This was an 800 mile self-supported bike ride, carrying approximately 35kg of kit on the bike. All sorts of self-doubt crept in, to the point that I almost turned down this amazing opportunity. Our small group were hit with challenges on all sides and endlessly rerouted along scary roads. It turned out the thought of getting altitude sickness was the least of my worries! I was immensely proud of what I had achieved at the end of it, to be one of just four out of seven who completed the challenge. It gave me the confidence to tackle longer distance triathlon races.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
Probably more of a near disaster. At my very first triathlon in Edinburgh I didn’t realise why wetsuits were compulsory and left it until the last minute to borrow one from someone. Rookie error, I also didn’t practice wearing it and it didn’t fit properly. Not only did it fill with water immediately, but when I pulled myself waterlogged out of the swim I couldn’t get the zip undone. Lots of shouting ensued and a moment where I considered cycling 20km wearing it! Thankfully I did finally manage to get it off, but it was a lesson learned, and as someone whose business is primarily about planning events, I was embarrassed at how underprepared I was.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I am very much of the belief that setbacks are something to learn from. Being in my fifties now, I am aware of the effects that unpredictable hormonal changes are having on my body, which has in turn affected my training, and particularly my running. I have used this as a real opportunity to learn more about this area and it has inspired me to undertake a course on ‘Menopause for Athletes’ in the hope that not only do I learn something about myself, but I can also pass it onto my coaching clients.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
To find your lane – initially for me that was swimming. To focus on what you can do, and not obsess about what you think you can’t do. Confidence breeds confidence, and once you achieve one small thing, it gives you the belief that you can go on and try others. I didn’t really take up swimming until I was in my late teens, and wish I had embraced it earlier. However, that said, it is never too late to learn, as I didn’t start cycling any distance over 40km until around 2016 and it was just one year later that I undertook my mammoth Andes cycling challenge.
What are your goals?
Basically to keep developing and challenging myself in new ways. This year for example, with the world of events still being uncertain, I have tasked myself with travelling the equivalent length of South America (9,000km) by swimming, cycling, running, paddleboarding and kayaking. Also, having completed the Mallorca 70.3, it is definitely in my plan to undertake a full Ironman in the next few years.
Who inspires you?
I am in awe of many elite athletes, but the people who constantly inspire me are the ‘everyday heroes’. Ordinary people who challenge themselves to whatever degree pushes them out of their own comfort zone. Whether that is to swim their first length of a pool, or run 1k, I understand the mental challenges that people face, often more so than the physical ones. To overcome your own personal demons, lack of confidence and so on is a huge thing to do. It is what makes me want to continue working with people to coach and develop them to achieve their own dreams.
Why work with Sundried?
Well firstly I love the way the kit looks and feels, it has obviously been developed by a triathlete! The trisuit has been my best friend over the past year as I have continued to swim throughout the seasons in open water in this alone (i.e no wetsuit). The fit is fantastic, and the attention to details like the stitching and zip are really well considered.
As someone who works primarily in the charity sector, from a corporate responsibility angle I am very impressed with what Sundried are doing. Their values are very aligned with my own, and their partnerships with charities such as Surfers Against Sewage really resonate with me as someone who cares passionately about the quality of our oceans.
To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.