Isabel is a Team GB Age Group triathlete who has just returned from the European Multi Sport Championships. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes, I have always been sporty. I joined every sports club going at school and was in many teams from netball to cross country and still hold the school record for the 75m hurdles! My main sport growing up was gymnastics, I specialised in tumbling which I took to National level by which time I started university and training was more difficult to fit into the schedule.
How did you first get into triathlon?
Since leaving university I’ve wanted a new challenge each year. It all started off with an impulse sign-up to Kilimanjaro the summer of graduating which I raised money for charity, by doing so I signed up to my first half marathon in Plymouth to help with the fundraising. I loved the atmosphere and the adrenaline rush of the race and I quickly fell back in love with running.
The following year I signed up to a new challenge: to cycle from London to Paris to raise money for Breast Cancer NOW which is a charity close to my heart. I needed to buy a road bike for this and used cycling as a great way to explore the Warwickshire countryside where I had recently moved to. The following year I was struggling to top my previous challenges and thought to combine the cycling and running and revisit a childhood hobby of swimming... combine the three and there you have it – my first logical step to triathlon!
What’s been your best race to date?
The European Transylvanian Aquathlon Championships in Târgu Mureş, Romania. The atmosphere can’t be compared to any other races I’ve done in the UK, nothing is better than seeing crowds of GB supporters shouting your name around the course and completely dominating any other nations. The race has really spurred me on to commit to training and work harder than ever before for future races!
And your proudest achievement?
The European Championships has got to be my proudest achievement. I qualified for the race after competing in my first ever aquathlon (and only just finding out what one was!) I was probably the most under-prepared athlete there but picking up hints and tips along the way I managed to secure 5th place. The atmosphere was incredible and definitely the race I have enjoyed the most running through the finish line with the GB flag.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
Mass starts are always difficult in the swim of a triathlon. Feet and splashing everywhere...I have been kicked in the face within the first 5 seconds of a race before, and by the end of the race my lip had swelled up which is far from ideal!
How do you overcome setbacks?
Motivation is not constant, it’s sometimes difficult to remain motivated in times when it’s raining or cold or you’re just tired and need a rest. I always reset by relaxing in a bubble bath with a good book and listen to my body, chances are a good rest will do you good. Remind yourself of your goals and that small steps lead to great improvements.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
When I signed up to my first triathlon I was wearing a surfing wetsuit, I didn’t want to fork out for a shiny smooth triathlon suit in case it was never going to be used again. I felt a bit silly as I looked around and felt the most novice there! It didn’t cause me much disadvantage I don’t think, but it really did chafe on my neck. I hadn’t done any open water swimming practice and so a big piece of advice is to train in conditions similar to what you would be racing in (I.e. if it’s a lake/ sea swim make sure you have experienced it) and to use the kit you will be racing in during training so that you are aware of areas of any discomfort.
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
I have big goals for the 2020 world aquathlon championships in Amsterdam, and I’m also hoping to secure a place at the European triathlon championships next year too. They are my main goals but if I get a place in the London Marathon through a good for age entry I won’t turn it down, it might just shake up the training routine! As for the rest of 2019, my next challenge is to complete Ride London.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Apart from the obvious inspiring elite GB athletes that we all wish we could be like, in every race I always have the wise words of my gymnastics coach in my head telling me what I am capable of. My gymnastics family were all really close and my head coach was at the centre of it, I hope I am doing him proud. My granddad also used to always tell me that I’m the fittest lady he knew, I’ll keep on training and keep to his word, I wish he could see me now! Lastly, I have a 10 year old niece who really looks up to me and wants to be really successful in her sporting endeavours and so feel like I need to act as an inspiration to her which motivates me too.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love the ethos of Sundried, I am a Sustainability Adviser as a profession and love to be supporting an ethical ad environmentally friendly brand. I have recently bought the Sundried Velo cycling jersey and bib shorts as I wanted some good quality kit to put the training hours in the saddle in for Ride London this summer (and of course to have some matching kit too!) the bib shorts make long rides a lot easier and the material is super lightweight and breathable.