John started his sporting life as a swimmer but soon found his love for triathlon and Ironman racing. He talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete and coach.
Have you always been into sport?
I've always loved sport. At school, I was never any good at anything beyond swimming, but I always enjoyed playing! I swam competitively from the age of 8 and ended up racing internationally in the pool and open water after 16. Sport became a way of life for me!
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
Having given up top-level swimming, I ran the Bath half marathon and a couple of friends invited me out on the bike. I struggled like mad to keep up with them on my mountain bike which was only used for commuting at that point while they were on road bikes, but I loved it! My first triathlon was Marlborough Sprint Tri in 2007.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
I'm not sure that I have a favourite race as I have enjoyed a large majority of the ones I have done for different reasons. I have to say though that racing in Turkey, Israel and Austria were all pretty amazing places to go and race for the scenery alone.
And your proudest achievement?
As a swimmer, winning a world cup open water event in London in 2003. As a triathlete, coming 4th in my age group at the European Age Group Standard Tri in Israel in 2012. As a coach - seeing the various successes of different athletes at all levels from complete novices to experienced pros.
Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?
I've gone the wrong way at a couple of events. In both cases, I don't think the signage was as clear as it possibly could have been - but as an athlete, it's your responsibility to know where you are going, so it was my own fault! The toughest races I've done were both Ironman races; they are just long days. The first one was a catalogue of errors really, something that I could have done with some advice beforehand. The second, I had the perfect race to the end of T2 then got over excited and ran far too quickly into the marathon! What followed from half marathon in was not pretty and certainly not very comfortable, but those days definitely show you how tough you are.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I've been pretty fortunate not to have too many setbacks - but where I have had them I've had some really good support around me from friends. I have really benefited from time out to recover from a couple of frustrating injuries - and that time out doing other things never fails to reignite a passion to get back in and train.
What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?
The only bit of advice that I really wish I'd had was before the first Ironman and with how to pace the bike leg. I have really enjoyed learning things as I've gone along, and my motto both from a coaching perspective and as an athlete is to keep doing what I enjoy. We don't get paid to train or race, so if you're not enjoying it then why are you doing it?
What are your goals for 2018?
I've really enjoyed getting back into a bit of running this year having not done much in the last couple of years. My main focus though has been towards the European Masters Swimming Championships in Slovenia in 2 weeks time - I've got 5 races including the 3km open water in lake Bled.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
As a swimmer, I always took inspiration from athletes I looked up to - British swimmers like Steve Parry and James Hickman who I wanted to emulate and was fortunate to race against a couple of times, and Grant Hacket and Ian Thorpe too. With triathlon, I have more been inspired by my friends and fellow competitors, I love the idea that we are all really racing ourselves first and foremost.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
The fact that Sundried is an ethical and responsible company is important, it's something that is really key in today's world. My favourite bit of kit is the Furgler men's gym shorts - they are perfect for squatting and deadlifting in the gym, super comfortable and secure!