Steve Birchall Athlete Ambassador
Steve comes from a sporty background and has worked hard to become an endurance triathlete. He talks to Sundried about training and motivation.
Have you always been into sport?
I have always been sporty. At school I played rugby, was in the swimming squad and played 1st team water polo. After school I played club rugby and water polo, then began to concentrate on swimming, cycling and running.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I enjoyed the three sports individually, so in 1992 a friend suggested I enter a triathlon. Not knowing a lot about the sport back then, my first triathlon was not slick, I didn’t have a clue – came out from the swim dashed into transition, then could not find the bike exit… Even though I did not set a good race time, I had the triathlon bug and immediately signed up for another one.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race is Challenge Roth which takes place in Bavaria, Germany. It’s one of the most iconic triathlons in the world. The 2.4 mile swim is in the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, the bike is a two-lap course (112 miles) which takes in the famous Solarer Berg hill and then a marathon to finish in the centre of Roth. The crowds are fantastic and the race organisation is second to none.
And your proudest achievement?
Having qualified as a GB Triathlon Age Grouper.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
I have had a number of racing disasters – but learn each time from them. My advice is to make sure you have sufficient nutrition and do not wear or use new, untested kit. Also remember to pack bike shoes and helmet – I may have forgotten these items before.
I now pack the day before and run through the race in my mind – making note of each item needed.
My toughest race was the Enduroman middle distance triathlon in the New Forrest a few years ago. I had a fantastic swim – second out the water, a great bike, but it all fell apart on the run - “bonked”. I managed to eat and refuel and make it to the finish.
How do you overcome setbacks?
I look forward to the next race, learn from the past experience and go out to do my best but also enjoy the race. I tend to start the season with a few small local or club races which I use to build my confidence but also test race plans.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Buy a race belt (number belt) – don’t pin your number to your clothes. Race belts save time and you don’t have holes in your clothes.
Take the time to read the race packs - know the routes, the feed stations, what’s on offer at the feed stations, entrances/exits of transition, timings of the race and finally where to park your car… Knowing all this before your race will reduce the stress of race day.
And one other thing – pack all your race kit the day before.
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
My goals for the coming year are to increase my racing distance – I am planning to do an Ironman 70.3 at the start of 2020, and an ultra-marathon and then another Ironman or two later in the year.
I will still be Time Trialling and have targeted a few longer swims.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Inspiration can be taken from everyone around us – from coaching someone to do their first triathlon all the way to Ironman Triathlon legend Paula Newby-Fraser – she in my opinion is one of the best long distance triathletes ever – a true superstar of the sport.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
Sundried have stylish, good quality technical kit with that perfect fit – which is great for training, racing and can even be worn casually. Sundried as a brand have a fantastic ethos – they care about the environment and are ethical – they are leading the way in producing activewear which is made from 100% recycled materials.
I love my Sundried Olympus Men’s Long Sleeve Compression Top – it’s a snug fit, super soft and helps with recovery. The top is also versatile and can be worn during your workout on its own or as a base layer.