Joe is a young triathlete who has been sporty his whole life. He talks to Sundried about learning from his mistakes and his aspiration to become the next Alistair Brownlee.
Have you always been into sport?
I've been into swimming from a very young age but used it as more of a means for recreation than anything else up until I was about 12. At this age I started getting involved in local galas in which I developed a love for racing which I've never lost. During the winter of year 8 at school I got involved in cross-country running in which I found an almost natural talent as I had kept a reasonably high level of fitness from my swimming and from then on I've had an almost innate desire to better myself.
What made you decide to enter triathlon?
After a few years of competing in both swimming and running I got to a certain level at which I was faced with a decision to make - whether to pursue a higher level of competition in either swimming or running as it wasn't realistically possible to chase greatness in both. Due to the my love for both disciplines, I couldn't make the step to give one of them up which leads us onto cycling. At the time I was quite a keen mountain biker, using the Olympic course at Hadleigh most weekends with a few of my friends, but obviously this wasn't what was required. So I decided to make the transition from the mountains to the road, which I loved from the first time I tried it and soon was chasing Strava segments all around Essex which is very fun! When I took a step back from it all, I realised that I could compete in all three disciplines at a high level. It seemed that the only logical option left was to enter the world of triathlon - taking the first step almost immediately by joining East Essex triathlon club.
What’s been your best race to date?
My first race happened to be the best race I've had. It was the English National Championships which I entered during the closing hour of the entries. Naturally, I was very apprehensive about this race as I'd never competed in a triathlon before let alone one of this calibre, but it turned out to be a total success. I dug deep into the swim and was shocked when I found myself in the lead coming out of the water. I maintained this lead throughout the run into transition in which I then lost it by over a minute due to my lack of transition knowledge and training. Then, in 3rd place, I entered the cycle leg of the race which started off well but soon taught me that this is where I needed to target most improvement as, at the end of this stage, I found myself in 23rd pace. Coming into the run I felt fresh and was able to push myself hard enough to gain a few places back and ended up running a 17:12 5k, finishing in 18th place overall.
And your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement also happened to be in the English National Championships as I later found out that I was 2nd in the age category of under 20s and first in my own category of under 18s.
Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?
My only racing disasters occurred in the race which subsequently made it my toughest race to date. It was during the Trifarm sprint series race in July - I had a decent swim, coming out the water in 2nd place and an even better transition coming out first into the bike leg. Only 5 minutes into the race my worst fear became a reality - my chain had fallen off going uphill. After a quick stop I managed to get the chain back on without too much trouble and when I got back on my bike I was in 3rd place. The next disaster came on the start of the run where I had gone out too fast trying to chase down the leader which pushed my legs too hard, forcing me to slow for a couple of kilometres to regain proper running form.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Since starting triathlons I have encountered a number of injuries ranging from pulled muscles to shin splints. For me, the setbacks are either my equipment or my mental attitude. I always seek out the best equipment and make sure that it performs as well I do and I ensure that my training regime is flexible to cater for any injury or external circumstances that may prohibit me from training. I have also read numerous biographies from other professional athletes about their personal setbacks and how they have recovered from them.
What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?
The best bit of advice anyone could have given me before I started competing in triathlons was to target the weakest area of my race in training rather than place the most focus on the ones I knew I could perform well in.
What are your goals for 2017?
I have entered the European Qualifiers for triathlon in September and my goal is to give my best possible race there in the hope of qualifying for the GB age-group team.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My biggest idol in all of sport is undoubtedly Alistair Brownlee. After seeing him dominate the Olympics both live on TV and on videos, I have followed him in almost every aspect of his career. I find his triathlon journey relatable to the one that I am now experiencing, coming from a swimming-running background at around the same age. The way he wins almost every race he competes in with such style and determination is awe-inspiring and has caused me to want to also become Olympic champion one day.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I like the fact that the brand are creating athletic clothing that supports those in need whilst providing high quality equipment. I really like the look of the Grande Casse Hoodie and the Roteck 2.0 training tights.