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Vanessa Johnston Athlete Ambassador

Vanessa athlete triathlon Sundried

Vanessa is a keen Ironman triathlete who enjoys competing with friends. She talks about life as a triathlete while maintaining a demanding full-time job. 

Have you always been into sport?

I’ve always had an interest in sport, both watching and participating. It has only been in the last few years that I have gotten more into different sports through friends.

What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

I’ve always enjoyed cycling since I was young and then started to run, doing my first half marathon about 5 years ago. I had heard about triathlon but I couldn’t swim so didn’t pursue it. I was cycling with some friends in Belgium and Ironman triathlon came up as a challenge that we wanted to do. A few weeks later we had signed up for St. Polten 70.3 and I went in search of a local Tri club to start training with! 

What’s been your favourite race to date and why? 

I’m tied between 2 - Ironman Zurich as it was my first (and only so far) Ironman which I finished with my husband and two friends. My other favourite race is the Volcano Triathlon based in Club La Santa in Lanzarote. It’s an amazing venue with brilliant support and lots of other Evo Tri Club members compete as well which pushes everyone on!

And your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is finishing the swim in the Long Course Weekend last year - I was more worried about swimming in Tenby than I have been about any other race but it turned out to be a brilliant event that I really enjoyed.

Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet? 

No disasters yet but the toughest event that I have done is the Dragon Ride in Wales - it is a 230km cycle with nearly 12,000ft of climbing and the weather was horrible, I’ve never been soaked through, dried and soaked again so many times in one day! 

How do you overcome setbacks?

I’m quite a stubborn and determined person so for me it’s about keeping going and not giving up. It is also about recognising that setbacks are not always physical such as an injury, they can be related to work, training, diet and any big changes in your life. I always try to find a positive spin on things too and being realistic about the impact that training has on your life and vice versa.

What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

That rest and nutrition are as important as training. The nutrition side of things I am comfortable with as I have a lot of knowledge through my degree and job to help me keep on top of it although I have a really sweet tooth which means that treats are really frequent!. Working a pretty manic full time job, training and having a social life means that I definitely haven’t mastered resting and recovering properly yet! 

What are your goals for 2018?

I’m competing for GB this year in both the ITU Long Distance Championship which is in Denmark in July and the ETU Long Distance Championship in September. The ETU race is part of Challenge Madrid so it should be a great event.  I’m also signed up for Triathlon X which is a 70.3 in the Lake District but it is the toughest course I have ever seen and it’s the weekend after the ETU so I might be more of a supporter than competitor. 

Who do you take your inspiration from?

I’ve naturally taken to triathlon quite well and although I train a lot I don’t put in nearly as many hours as other athletes at my level but can still deliver good results so I consider myself quite lucky. My inspiration comes from the people who do triathlons and are at the back of the pack but they keep going, even when the course is being packed up. To keep going when you can see everyone else finishing is amazing and they have a mental strength that makes me think that if they can keep going on for several more hours than me on the same course then I can put in some more effort.

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

My favourite kit is the Breithorn 2.0 women's sports bra. I really struggle with clothes scratching my legs, neck and chest and it doesn’t leave any marks even after a long run which is brilliant. 

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