swimming open water triathlon

Nathan is a triathlete who has qualified for the GB Age Group team. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes, in a really big way. At school I was lucky enough to have access to a variety of sports – both individual and team-based – which naturally evolved to playing for local teams and representative sides too. Each one gave me the opportunity to improve different elements of fitness, co-ordination and tactical approaches. After University, I focussed on rugby, playing 14 seasons for my local team (including as Captain) and more recently combining that with cycling and triathlon/multi-sport events, which has been the sole focus for the past 3 years.

How did you first get into triathlon?

My mother started participating in triathlon in the early 1990s, so I had exposure from a very young age. I participated in some junior events that were run alongside the main events, but fell away from it in my teens as team sports took a front seat.

About 6 years ago, when I realised that I couldn’t play rugby forever, I got back on the bike and in the pool and haven’t looked back. I love the variety that triathlon brings, especially when it comes to training. The camaraderie between fellow competitors is brilliant and there is always someone to turn to for advice, motivation or a simple chat.

What has been your favourite race to date and why?

I would say an event I did this year (2020) in the Cotswolds, for a few reasons. I enjoyed the time-trial format which was brought in to assist with social distancing; the event was a ‘sprint plus’ distance, shorter than I usually compete at – so felt I had no pressure going in – and finally it was an Aquabike event, so the only running was from bike racking in T2 to the finish line (the run element is my least favourite discipline!) It was a very well organised event, especially given the current climate, and I managed to take first place by just a few seconds.

What is your proudest achievement?

From a sporting perspective, achieving my Great Britain Age Group team qualification. Outside of sport, it’s watching and helping our son, who has just turned 1, grow and develop into quite the little character.

Have you ever had any racing disasters?

Nothing major has ever prevented me from finishing an event, long may that continue! I did damage my ankle badly, just as I was about to start a specific 6 month training plan for Ironman UK, but luckily I managed to flex the plan to accommodate. As running is my least favourite discipline, it was an excuse to spend more time in the pool, lakes and on the bike… every cloud!

How do you overcome setbacks?

When setbacks happen, I tend to dwell on them for a little bit. However, I’m quite pragmatic, calm and level-headed, so very quickly I look at how best to get back on track, whether that’s doing a different training session, refocussing for another event, or just allowing myself downtime to recover and refresh mentally.

What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

Control the controllables. There is nothing to be gained worrying about things outside your control. Channel that energy into improving what you can directly affect.

What are your goals?

It’s hard to know how the 2021 season will pan out with lots of events being cancelled or postponed in 2020. My main goal is to make my Great Britain Age Group debut in 2021, as the 2020 middle distance European Championships in Austria, for which I had qualified, were cancelled and qualification moved to 2021. That’s out of my hands somewhat and I hope, as we all do, that we get back to some sort of normality as soon as is possible. I’m planning to compete in potential qualifier events for the 2022 Age-Group European / World championships, so my goal there is to achieve qualification for 2022 representative events, ideally in the middle distance ‘Aquabike’ discipline.

Who inspires you?

People with a positive attitude and a non-defeatist mentality. Whilst inspiration can be drawn from specific performances, it’s the mindset behind those performances that inspires me. As an example, the Tour de France this year – the race winner Tadej Pogacar was the youngest winner in over 100 years, but it was Richie Porte, who made his first Tour de France podium at 35 years old (having crashed out in 2017 and 2018, and not making top 10 in 2019) who inspired me most. The mindset behind that performance and being ready and willing to compete at that level – despite his recent setbacks at the Tour – is really motivating.

Why work with Sundried?

Sundried’s gear is durable as well as being ethically sourced. In today’s world, I believe we all have to do our bit to limit our negative impact on the planet. Kit made from recycled material really resonates with me – the one part of training that I always feel bad about is the amount of kit I can get through and the environmental impact of having to throw kit out. I feel Sundried is a natural fit for me, as I believe our values are very similarly matched.