Sarah Ward Athlete Ambassador
Sarah is a triathlete who has competed at world level and also enjoys tough races. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
I was always very active as a child and have done ballet since the age of three. I didn’t find my love of running and cycling until much later however! I started competing in triathlons around 5 years ago, eventually joined a club and it’s all taken off from there.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
It was actually my boyfriend at the time that persuaded me to give it a go. I couldn’t run a complete 5km, I had never swum open water before and I had only just got a road bike – I was very unprepared! However, I was completely hooked by the buzz of racing – the atmosphere and sportsmanship was exhilarating.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
This is a tough one! Can I have two?
The ITU Triathlon in Leeds. Getting to race through a city I work in, on closed roads with the streets lined with people cheering was really good fun. Yorkshire really does have the best crowds!
By contrast, the Snowman Triathlon in Wales. Over the past year I have started trail running more, so wanted to do a more 'off road' race - it was fantastic and totally different to the usual fast and flat city races.
And your proudest achievement?
In 2019 I competed in my second World Duathlon Championship and came 4th! It was my best race performance to date and I am still over the moon.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
I did Helvellyn Triathlon in 2019 and without a doubt it is the toughest race I have ever done (and will probably ever do!) The lake was freezing, the bike ride was insanely beautiful and hilly (and includes The Struggle!) and the ‘run’ up and down the mountain required reserves of mental strength I didn’t know I had. It was truly a test of physical and mental grit. I enjoyed myself but I was very broken the next day!
How do you overcome setbacks?
It’s taken me a few years and guidance from my coach to find a way to deal with setbacks rationally. I’m quite a reactive person and can be quick to jump to the worst case scenario, for example ‘oh no, I have shin splints, I’m going to lose all my run fitness’. However, I’ve learnt to take a step back and look at the bigger, long-term picture and I now accept that it is the nature of sport to have setbacks. My go-to solution is always to curl up with a book and write out a realistic plan of action.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Don’t measure your own progress by someone else’s ruler. Focus on your training, your goals and your achievements and remember - you can only control the what is controllable!
What are your goals?
My main goal is to better my place at the next World Championships and get on that podium. A continuing goal of mine is also to keep growing and developing as an athlete, to become better all round – mentally and physically.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I take inspiration from my coach who is an amazing athlete and person, and is definitely someone I aspire to be like. I’m also inspired by a young friend I have who used to be terrified of open water swimming and she has shown me what true determination, perseverance and bravery looks like.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
The eco-friendly ethos is what initially drew me to Sundried. My family and I have all been making environmentally friendly changes over the past few years and the environment is something I have become increasingly passionate about. I love that with Sundried, you can have well made, comfortable, stylish kit whilst looking after the planet – there is no compromise.
My favourite bit of kit is my Sundried Velo cycling kit – I can’t pick just one item as I love the whole set!