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Team Triumph Athlete Ambassadors

by Alexandra Parren
Team Triumph Triathlon Coaching Sundried

Team Triumph is a triathlon coaching team made up of four elite triathletes: Aaron Harris, Ailbhe (Alva) Carroll, Richard Horton, and Jack Hall. With a passion for triathlon, these four athletes wanted to pass on their knowledge to others. They tell Sundried about their motivations and goals. 

How did you first get into coaching the sport of triathlon?

As a group of four triathletes in a high performance squad in Loughborough we enjoyed getting away from the relentless training for one evening per week and having a curry out or a takeaway in front of a cheesy horror film! More often than not our conversation would drift back towards all things triathlon. We were thinking that we have so much knowledge between us about the sport that we live and breath that we had to share it. Initially we thought about doing podcasts but we feared we'd spend to much time chuckling amongst ourselves to effectively share our expertise. We decided that coaching was the way to go and haven't looked back since!

What has been your favourite race to date?

Ailbhe - Firmus Energy Derry City Triathlon - "The course is hard and exciting and is always supported very well from the spectators on the city streets." 

Aaron - 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games - "There was home support like I've never experienced before and such a range of nations competing that you don't normally see in the World Triathlon Series. It was brilliant to see a bit of breaststroke being used by a couple of the guys in the men's race!" 

Jack - Bridgetown PATCO sprint triathlon - "It's a triathlon in Barbados! Need I say more? Crystal clear Caribbean waters and hard honest work in the hot conditions. To top that off, the locals are so friendly, I ended up with more than my fair share of rum post-race."

Richard - 2013 World Duathlon Championship - "This was my first world championship race. It's such a nice venue in the picturesque square in the French town of Nancy. It's really well organised and a fast course makes this a fun one to do. The French love their sport and it showed with the amount of spectators which created an amazing atmosphere. It also featured a Duathlon relay which meant fast and furious racing from the off but was great fun!“

What do you do to motivate your athletes and stay motivated yourselves?

We love what we do and when the going gets tough we remind ourselves  that we do it because we love it. We don't HAVE to do triathlon. Even if you are a professional, it's a choice. But it's a huge part of our lifestyle so we need to make sure that we are enjoying the journey. Three key factors for us are:

  1. Sensibly structure your training to ensure that you don't put yourself in a hole and end up like zombie in training, racing, and normal life. It's a direct road to over-training syndrome if you get this wrong.
  2. Always have an idea of what you are working towards, it can be completing a Parkrun or a championship medal or a process such as hitting 10 hours on the bike for a block of six weeks. Ideally, synchronise your goals with training partners who have similar targets. Come race day there's nothing like seeing a training partner up the road on the bike to really spur you on to chase hard.
  3. Be flexible and remember that we want to do this. If you know that you normally love training but on a given day you can't get out the door then it probably is a sign that your body is telling you that it needs a rest. The art is distinguishing between being soft and genuinely being too drained to benefit from another session is fundamental to performing in triathlon. 

What advice would you give someone thinking of getting into triathlon for the first time?

Buddy up with a more experienced athlete or group. Knowledge is power and it's very useful to get hints and tips regarding race craft and equipment etc. There's a great deal to think about and having someone who has been there and done it is invaluable. Don't put too much pressure on performing to your best on your first triathlon. It never happens. You'll make mistakes, you'll learn from them, and you'll be better next time. It usually takes at least a "trio of tries"  before you nail a triathlon!

Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?

Nutrition is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it (within reason). We advocate the clichéd "varied balanced diet" approach. As endurance athletes however we do need more calories. The best form of these is carbohydrates as they are readily available energy. Simple carbs are your sugars and they are perfect for during and post racing and training. For meals and snacks it's better to focus on complex starchy carbs. Rice, potatoes, and quinoa are some of the best to go for. If you have a good mixed diet you'll likely get enough protein in without thinking about it but good fats may not appear as readily in a normal diet. We aim to get these in through coconut oil (in porridge and for cooking). Also nut spreads and chia speeds get the thumbs up from us.  

Who is your biggest inspiration? 

We've always looked up to triathletes from all walks of life. We know how hard it is to balance work with training. The Brownlee brothers are phenomenal for the level they reach, and 10 year old Bailey Mathews ditching his walking frame to triumphantly cross the finish line was equally inspiring. 

What are your goals for 2017?

We are expanding our team and have targets in terms of squad size but crucially we want to officially become a registered Triathlon club. We want to see our athletes maximise their enjoyment of the sport as they work towards their goals. By the end of the year we intend to have established a training venue in the South of Spain which we will use as a base to hold training camps, specifically in the build up to Marbella 70.3 in April 2018.

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