James was inspired into triathlon by his uncle and is now the club captain at his university. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
I have always been interested in many sports but mainly watching them. I did play rugby when I was younger, but never considered myself very fit or very good and the main reason I took part was to make friends. I decided to take up triathlon when I joined the University of Sheffield and it was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made.
In the past three years I have taken part just for fun, but now I would like to both enjoy the sport and take part competitively. Sport, for me, is mainly about being with people, training and racing as part of a team, and encouraging everyone to do the best they can do.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
The main inspiration was my uncle completing Ironman Wales in 2016, just as I was joining the University of Sheffield. This gave me the perfect opportunity to get involved with a sport I never thought I could compete in to any extent. I decided to jump in at the deep end and take part in the University Duathlon Championships which I absolutely loved. I now watch many things triathlon-related from the ITU World Triathlon Series to the Ironman World Championships, and everything in between!
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
The British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) standard distance triathlon championships in May 2019 was easily my favourite race to date. With this being my first Olympic distance triathlon, I was nervous but trusted the training I had done leading up to the race. The atmosphere was great and is what stood out the most throughout the weekend as the whole club travelled down the night before.
Ultimately, competing in a sport I love with friends who support each other is why this race is considered my favourite, and I hope to do the same over the following year. Having a race to look forward to that I have competed in before means I can also think about how I want to improve my times, hopefully by a good amount on all three disciplines!
And your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is becoming the University of Sheffield Triathlon Club Captain for the 2019/20 year. After three years with the club, I wanted to give something back and show how I could manage a club that I consider the best part of my university experience. With an amazing committee and great members who want to get active, involved and have fun, I cannot wait to continue with this achievement into the following year. We plan to get more people involved than ever before, train hard, race hard and have fun while we do it.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
One thing I have learnt is never to underestimate a race! A 10km running race in Dronfield I took part in wasn’t a disaster but was easily my toughest race yet. The sharp climbs and intense sun made for a tough day and I promised myself I would never underestimate any race by employing consistent and disciplined training. Luckily I wasn’t on my own while doing it and travelled down with some friends who cheered me on at the end!
How do you overcome setbacks?
I have been very lucky to have had no major physical injuries throughout my progress as a triathlete, but mental challenges have provided me with problems in training and racing, such as in my consistency and confidence, for example making sure I don’t over train and take adequate rest. I believe being part of a club, whether this be through an organisation or just with friends, is the most essential part of keeping positive mental health and overcoming any setbacks you receive.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Take your time! Enjoy the training, build a strong base and you will thank yourself many years from now when you’re less prone to injury and can continue when you are old and grey. For me, triathlon is a lifestyle and keeping a constant, strong base fitness ensures you can take part in events all year round without exhausting yourself, whether you are competing or just entering for fun!
What are your goals for 2020?
Competing in BUCS standard distance triathlon and performing well in all three disciplines is one of my main goals, but before that is the Sheffield Varsity which we hope to win again! I have also considered stepping up to competing in a middle distance triathlon (half Ironman) which would be a big achievement to complete only three years after staring my triathlon journey. I also want to make sure UoSTri has a great year through training and racing well, bringing more people into the world of triathlon!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I take inspiration from many triathletes and sportspeople, whether they are elite level or just doing triathlon for fun. My uncle was my original inspiration, with many members of UoS Triathlon Club helping me along my journey. Professional athletes include Lucy Gossage, Lucy Charles-Barclay and Lionel Sanders as they are very much down to earth, yet some of the best at what they do.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love Sundried’s attitude towards sustainable clothing! No-nonsense, easily obtainable and recyclable activewear is great for people who are conscious about their footprint regarding clothing and sports in general. All the cycling kit is of very good quality from the gloves to the bib shorts, but the long sleeve jersey will suit me well for the colder mornings to come.