James Hayward Athlete Ambassador
James got into sport late in life but has made amazing progress. He talks to Sundried about life as an elite triathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
I was a late comer into sport and I never really enjoyed it at school until I started playing football during my teens for my local football team. This was the start of my sporting career, however during a training match I suffered a dislocated kneecap which put me out for a year. When I returned to action following my rehabilitation it was never the same enjoyment for me again, at which point my brother encouraged me to take up running and I joined my local running club.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
Having taken up running and subsequently cycling, triathlon seemed liked the next step and again I was swayed by my brother who had also taken it up recently. I had done duathlon previously and knew that I had to have a go at triathlon. During my youth I was never a keen swimmer so this was the biggest challenge facing me and one I was determined to master so I could compete in triathlon.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race to date has to be the Outlaw Half Holkham in 2017. Everything including the organisation, set-up, and location was fantastic. This was also the race where I started to believe I could compete with other triathletes at this distance having started in the elite wave and finishing 23rd overall it really gave me a big confidence boost and the belief that I can do better in the future.
And your proudest achievement?
Again my proudest achievement to date has to be finishing 23rd at Holkham in a time of 4:35, especially as my previous attempt at this distance in 2016 I finished in 5:14. It showed what I could achieve if I put more effort and dedication into my training and gave me renewed enthusiasm for the sport.
Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?
The toughest race yet would have to be my first half ironman at Grafman in 2016 where I was underprepared from the open water swim straight through to the run. I thought my training had gone well in the run up to the event but having never raced the distance I was in for a major shock. The mass start of the swim was very daunting but I struggled through it, the bike was the only comfortable part of the race however I didn’t fuel myself well enough so when it came to the run it was a struggle all the way including having to walk parts of the course.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Having had a fair few setbacks including my knee injury playing football I have had to overcome setbacks and I always focus on the future knowing I will get back to where I was before it happened. It also gives me focus and determination to be better in the future having overcome these setbacks.
What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?
The best bit of advice would have to be to always make sure to fuel yourself during a race whether it be eating whilst on the bike or taking gels on the run because as soon as your body is on empty you’re in trouble and it becomes just an achievement to finish.
What are your goals for 2018?
My goals for 2018 have to be to go sub 4:30 at the half ironman distance and to finish within the top 10 in that race. I’m also hopeful of qualifying to represent GB as an age grouper at the European Middle Distance Championships in October in Spain and to qualify for the Duathlon Standard Distance Championships in 2019.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My biggest inspiration comes from the Brownlee brothers who have really put triathlon on the map in the UK and raised the profile of the sport through their achievements in not only the Olympics but also through the World Triathlon tour.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I really respect Sundried’s approach to ethical activewear whilst keeping the quality high and suitable for all sports. My favourite bit of kit would have to be the grande casse running jacket suitable for all weather being lightweight and water resistant.