Mike Williams - Athlete Ambassador
Have you always been into sport?
Yes! Right through my childhood I swam competitively for the local swimming team until around the age of 12. From there I spent my time trying out as many other sports as possible, although not to anywhere near the success of my swimming. Swimming came back into my life at university where I represented the team at many of the university championships over 4 years. Since leaving university in 2012 I've spent the majority of my time running and playing 5 a side until recently when I've started open water swimming!
How did you first get into triathlon?
I first got into the world of triathlon and multi-sport during lockdown in 2020. My friend was training for The Lakesman and invited me to start open water swimming with him. I instantly loved it. I had undergone ACL surgery in 2019 so I was already cycling as part of my recovery and beginning to run again. Starting open water swimming made the decision for me and I entered into a virtual sprint triathlon a few months later. As cycling isn't my strongest discipline I began looking at what other events were out there and discovered the world of SwimRun. As another challenge for myself I signed up for the 2021 BRECA Coniston Sprint.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
For years it has always been The Great North Run. There are so many inspirational stories to why people are running and the fact the run brings together people from all over the world is amazing. The run is inclusive for everyone and the support you get through the full 13.1 miles is fantastic. That final bend onto the sea front at South Shields is the best sight!…not just because it is nearly over! This year (2021) BRECA Coniston took over the Great North Run. If you have never done a SwimRun you need to!! This is a truly unique event, running/hiking/swimming through the Lake District makes the whole race feel like an adventure and you feel yourself connecting with your surroundings and not forgetting the amazing views from the middle of the lakes and tops of the fells.
What is your proudest achievement?
Definitely completing the BRECA. The event was a total of 11 miles running and 2 miles of swimming. It was the biggest challenge I have ever set myself and completely out of my comfort zone. About halfway through I honestly felt like I wasn't going to finish and the mental battle was harder than the physical one. I didn't enter the event to race against anyone, it was all about completing it and proving to myself that I can do multi-sport events. When I came to the finish my girlfriend and family were there cheering me on and I was overcome with emotion when I crossed the line.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I don't really know many people who haven't at some point. Mine came when I completed my first half marathon. I made the rookie mistake and took off with the pack at the beginning. I knew I was running too fast but it felt good and at 10 miles I totally crashed and began to struggle to run. I finished the race but had used up every drop of energy I had. I couldn’t even open my banana at the end of the race! I've learnt from that experience now and manage my half marathons a lot better by forcing myself to start slow and build into the miles.
How do you overcome setbacks?
In 2018 I was at probably the fittest I had been since swimming at university and PBed my half marathon time. I felt amazing after the race and was ready for winter training to come back stronger the following year. 2 weeks later I tore my ACL playing 5 a side and surgery didn't happen until almost 12 months later. I was so annoyed at myself but I had good support around me. To overcome this I just had to change my outlook, reset and create myself new short term goals. Things don't always go to plan and you can't control everything but look at the things you can control.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Everything takes time. I used to suffer badly from not being good at something right away, I feel like I have failed even though I haven't even given it a chance or put any proper time into it!
What are your goals?
2021 was a year of firsts for me taking part in my first mass open water event (Great North Swim) and my first ever SwimRun. Next year is all about building on what I've learnt from these events and maybe trying out some new ones!
Who inspires you?
This is really broad for me. I get inspired by my friends and family taking part in events for fun and challenging themselves or other friends who are making a real name for themselves in local sport competitions! From the world of professional triathlon I'd have to say Lucy Charles-Barclay is a massive inspiration, especially how she has come from a swimming background and adapted to triathlon. Her versatility to compete in the Ironman distances and also the short Super League is just phenomenal.
Why work with Sundried?
Sundried focusing on a zero waste lifestyle and sustainable clothing is a really attractive feature for me. I live just outside of the Lake District National Park and spend a lot of my time hiking and swimming in the lakes. Protecting these areas of natural beauty is an absolute must, not just in the UK but all over the world.
To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.