Louise Douglass discovered duathlon after being told that continuing sprint and hurdle would put her on an operating table. Now she's a Team GB Age Group duathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
Since I was a little girl I have always been taking part in sport. I used to want to do everything my older brother did, so I have taken part in every sport you can imagine: swimming, karate, judo, Thai boxing, football, cricket, gymnastics, dance, athletics, cross country and now duathlon and triathlon, to name just a few!
What made you decide to enter duathlons?
I had been suffering for a number of years with a serious back condition and my consultant finally gave me the news that hurdling and sprinting would send me to the operating theatre. I couldn't walk away from sport, it was too big a part of my life. A close family member had recently passed away after a long battle with cancer and Macmillan nurses had supported them through the whole journey. After leaving my own hospital appointment, I felt I wanted to take part in some sort of challenge that would combine my love of sport and also raise money for charity, so the London duathlon became my challenge! I literally turned a page in a magazine and saw the advert and just went for it!
What’s been your best race to date?
My best race to date was the European Championships in Kalkar, Germany. Not necessarily due to my individual performance (I came 5th in my first ever International) but due to the fact that, for the first time in years, I felt I was achieving a dream by pulling on a Great Britain trisuit and representing my country.
And your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement was my first ever qualifier race. I had no idea how I would perform or where I stood against my opposition. Athletics is very clear when it comes to performance; every race is timed, ratified, and ranked against everyone else. Whereas in duathlon/triathlon, every race is different and you cannot look at a result and compare yourself without actually competing. Imagine my delight and disbelief when I won my age group and qualified outright for my first European Duathlon Championships!
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
I have had a couple! The first duathlon I ever did I didn't fuel properly the day before and literally dragged myself around the last run. Last year at the Bedford Autodrome I was racing in a Sprint Duathlon in thick freezing fog. I made the biggest mistake with my layering, and in transition 2 I wasted over two minutes trying to get my bike shoes off and trainers on because they were so cold! The worst, however, was the ETU Qualifier again at Bedford back in October 2016. I had a good first run, swift transition, and had just settled into the bike when BANG...puncture to my front wheel, race over and no GB place in the Sprint Distance at the European Championships in 2017!
How do you overcome setbacks?
Any setback I see as a learning opportunity, I think that's my teacher side coming out! Setbacks I believe happen due to poor preparation. Now my kitbrick is full of extra clothes for all seasons!
What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?
I wish someone had told me to just relax and let your training pay off. I have always been a competitive person and I overthink a lot of things, especially on race day. This can sometimes lead to me getting over nervous, warming up for too long and then potentially not reaching my best on race day, even though training data shows I am in the best form of my life!
What are your goals for 2017?
My main goals are to improve on my positions at the European and World Duathlon Championships. I finished 5th in Europe and 8th in the World. I am aiming for the podium! I want some bling! My other aim to complete a standard distance triathlon and hopefully even qualify for the ITU Triathlon Championships. It's going to be a busy year!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I take my inspiration from lots of different sources. I am inspired by my family and friends who really believe in me and push me to succeed. I am hugely inspired by those I compete against especially those that are in older age categories and are whipping my backside! I lost my Grandma a few years ago before I started Duathlons, but she would always call me before a race in athletics and wish me "Best of The British", her memory inspires me every day!
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
My sport is an outdoor sport, embracing the environment around to challenge and push you to your limits. Sundried is an ethical company who also believe in my surroundings and environment. I think they have the perfect relationship! My favourite piece of kit is the Sundried Grivola Tee women's training top, I love to slip it on between sessions when I am chilling out and relaxing!