• Mia Hawkins Athlete Ambassador

    cycling triathlon road bike activewear

    Mia is a triathlete who has raced for Team GB at an international level. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, I have always enjoyed many sports from a young age, particularly I enjoyed gymnastics when I was growing up.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I have always enjoyed being outdoors and taking part in sports. At university I joined the triathlon club and got more into the sport from there. Joining a club or training group is a great way to get into the sport.

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

    Racing on the Gold Coast in Australia at the 2018 Triathlon World Championships representing GBR, as the atmosphere and whole experience was incredible.

    Sundried athlete ambassador running triathlon

    And your proudest achievement?

    Qualifying for the 2019 Triathlon World Championships and racing at the 2018 Triathlon World Championships.

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

    It was 5am and I was on my way to my race and I forgot to put the back wheel of my bike in the car and ran it over! I didn’t have a spare wheel but luckily when I got to the race I borrowed a new set of wheels from the race expo. So it turned out not to be a disaster but was almost a disaster.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Dealing with setbacks is hard but I believe ‘everything happens for a reason’ and try to focus on the positives in a situation.

    Sundried athlete ambassador triathlon swimming open water

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    To practise transitions/mounting and dismounting the bike.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    Racing and finishing in the top 15 at the 2019 Triathlon World Championships.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    I enjoy following the ITU world series races and am inspired by all the GBR girls racing.

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

    The quality of the Sundried kit is fantastic and the kit is excellent value for money. My favourite piece of kit is the Sundried bib shorts as they are so comfy, which is so important when you are spending so long wearing your kit.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Anna Larkins Athlete Ambassador

    athlete triathlon running

    Anna is an athlete who developed a love for triathlete once she joined a triathlon club. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes I've always been sporty, which is strange as my family are not particularly into playing or 'doing' sport. They always have been incredibly supportive though; my parents were forever taking me to swimming club, cross country, football practice and matches, athletics meets etc. I think they probably deserve medals for the support they gave to me growing up! They let me test out my strengths, experience success and failure, and gave me a love of sport in what ever guise I had the opportunity to try.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I've always been a runner and a swimmer and was doing these at a recreational level for a while after finishing school. I was really into mountain biking for a while and my boyfriend suggested that I join a triathlon club; I figured I could swim and run already and it wouldn't be a big step to try out road cycling and get into triathlon. Joining a club was a great way to meet new people after I moved to a new area. My local club (Leighton Buzzard Tri Club) is fantastic and is great at developing athletes at whatever level they choose.

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

    My favourite race to date was the ETU Age Group Aquathlon I did in Ibiza last October. They took us out into the middle of the harbour in a party boat and we all had to jump off the back of the boat (like walking the plank!) to get onto the start line. It was so warm it was a non-wetsuit swim which suited me and I had a great swim leg. Once out of the water and on the run I focused on picking off people in front of me one by one and moved even further up the pack. I finished 4th in my age category having got out of the swim in 8th. The run was incredible- it followed the coast line as the sun was setting, and passed lots of the bars and restaurants Ibiza is famous for where people were supporting us.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Last year I was fortunate enough to race for Great Britain in the ETU Age Group sprint distance championships in Glasgow. This was an incredible race and I really enjoyed the competitive atmosphere of a major event. It was my first experience representing my country and I was able to share this with some fellow members of my club too! I came 5th in my age category which I was very pleased with. I came away from the event with a qualifying position for next years ETU championships in Russia.

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

    During my qualifying race for Glasgow last year I came off my bike spectacularly as I came into transition. I cut up and bruised my hip, my knees and my feet pretty badly, but I didn't let it stop me! I didn't even stop to look at my injuries and went straight out into the run- I ran a 5km personal best despite all that!

    At the other end of my season I took part in another qualification race and cut the bottom of my foot as I was getting onto my bike after the swim. I finished the race and qualified but had to get my foot glued back together afterwards- you could say I don't do anything by halves!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    This is something I've been working on as I can be quite hard on myself. My club has access to a fantastic sports psychologist who I meet with when ever I feel like I need some extra support. Generally she encourages me to write down and acknowledge the positives from the situation and list the problems I am facing. She then helps me to come up with solutions to these problems; often I find that I already have the answers, I just need a bit of prompting to get there!

    I've got a lot better over the past year. I now have the tools I need to sort things out and by talking to people who understand where I'm coming from I'm able to figure things out for myself.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    Get some advice about your training so you can set it up properly. I drifted along for years without ever really realising my potential; it was only when I started being coached properly that I've discovered what I'm capable of! You don't need to go the extreme of hiring a personal coach, just talk to the coaches at your local club or do some research online! If you don't structure your training properly you may never make progress at the rate you want. At the other end of the scale can do yourself more harm than good by getting injured or ill through over training.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    This year I am racing for GB at the ETU standard distance championships in Weert, Netherlands and have also qualified for the ETU sprint distance championships in Kazan, Russia. I'm also looking to do the British Championships in both standard and sprint distance. This is my first year racing the standard distance at this level so I'll be looking to test out my strengths and enjoy the experiences. With the sprint distance races I'm hoping to build on the success I had last year! I enjoy racing and feel privileged to have the opportunity to represent my country in a sport I love.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Much of my inspiration comes from people I know on a personal level. My club has some really dedicated athletes and coaches who are all inspirational in their own way. My coach (Colin) has been a big source of inspiration for me; he raced for GB himself and so understands the pressures and expectations I put on myself to do well. He is able to reign me back in when I get carried away too!

    My boyfriend (Adam) has encouraged and supported me every step of the way and is the one who originally inspired me to take up triathlons. When I had the opportunity to qualify for the GB Age Group team he was also the one who gave me the push I needed to step out of my comfort zone and give it a go.

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

    I love the Sundried eco ranges that are created using sustainable materials and in an ethical way. I am passionate about the environment and am looking at ways to become more sustainable in my day to day life. Any company that is willing to take steps to be more ethical and kind to the environment is worth taking more than a second look at! It's also a great example of a business ran by real people rather than getting caught up in the corporate nonsense you see in retail these days. They have stayed close to their roots- and are based in Southend where my boyfriend grew up!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Lucy Mapp Athlete Ambassador

    athlete running activewear sports performance

    Lucy was first inspired into the world of triathlon while on an activity holiday in Greece. She talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows. 

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, pretty much. Since I was very young I've always been active in one way or another. From tumble tots at my local gymnastics club once I could walk through to dancing, swimming, trampolining, netball and rugby in my primary school years.

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    I went on a summer activity holiday in Greece and after a week of water sports and tennis I signed up for a bike ride to say that I'd tried all the activities on offer. Having never been on a road bike before I was initially apprehensive, felt wobbly and wasn't sure at all about it!  By the top of the first section and meet-up point, with a long incline to finish I was somehow out the front and absolutely loving it! Chatting with some of the others in the group, triathlon was mentioned (something I'd considered in the past but never actually done) and Team GB age group qualification.

    Competing for Team GB in sport was something I had only ever dreamt about, and never considered to be within my grasp. A week of riding later, some 2.4 km sea swims around the off-shore island, and more suggestions from others in the field that I could really do this, the triathlon seed was firmly planted.

    Since then it's been a steep learning curve and journey of a lifetime; one which I'm loving being on and seeing where it can take me. Ups, downs, twists and turns. It's all part of the experience, and one I'm hoping will take me all the way....ETU, ITU and beyond. Race the world and make it as a pro!

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

    Probably either my first triathlon (St. Neots) as I went in with no expectations or preconceptions about it, knowing very little, but just going into it to see what it was like. I absolutely loved it (even though there were quite a few things that went wrong/could have done much better) and it confirmed that I wanted to be a part of the triathlon world and to pursue the dream.

    Or Cambridge Half in March 2018 as I hadn't done much training for it and was very pleased to go sub 1:30, especially given the conditions and build-up due to the 2018 UK snow.

    And your proudest achievement?

    Either my sub 1.30 half marathon or a couple of the run times at the end of triathlons.

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

    In my first triathlon I got my hair caught in my helmet and I couldn't get it unattached. I was in transition for what felt like an absolute age trying to tug my hair free, and seriously considering if I could run the final leg with my helmet still on!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I try to see the positives and try to learn from them to make me better in the future. I know it's not always easy, but in every situation there is something positive to be taken away, whether it's just the fact that I made it out of the house for a run (even if it was super slow), or turned up to the training session and/or completed it, regardless of whether it was at the pace or level I wanted.

    In other aspects of life I try to use the same mentality and see what I can learn and take forward from a situation to improve on in the future, however it's not always easy and I am known for being incredibly self-critical and harsh on myself. 

    I'm always striving to do better and am determined to improve day on day, so whatever happens I try to make sure I don't do the same things again, but try to make them a little bit better the next time, even if that's only a tiny fraction better, it's still a step in the right direction.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    1. Enjoy it!
    2. Try not to compare yourself to others.
    3. You are yourself, not someone else, so you can only do what you can at that time. You can strive to do better, and improve, but everyone has their own qualities and is unique - use those to your advantage not disadvantage trying to be someone you're not.
    4. Slow and steady progressions are more sustainable and will get you further in the long run than a sudden burst and then burnout.

    What are your goals for 2019?

    Get some races under my belt and some experience. I'm doing the GB age group team qualifiers and it would be awesome if I made selection, if not that would be my target for next year, with a bit of racing experience and more knowledge going into them.

    Once those races are done (June/July) I'm going to reassess the rest of the season and decide where it is that I want to go, not just for the rest of 2019 but for 2020 and beyond, and start to build towards those goals

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    There's quite a few inspirational athletes out there who I take inspiration from. In the triathlon world there's Chrissie Wellington and Lucy Charles, but before I got into triathlon I was always inspired by Jessica Ennis-Hill and a lot of the athletics stars out there.

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

    The quality and the values behind the kit. Knowing that the products are made with as low a carbon footprint as possible, and that the company really does care about and think about the environment is a breath of fresh air and something I think is really unique and attractive.

    I absolutely love the padded jacket, but also the Solaro women's leggings as they're so soft and comfortable and my bib bike shorts too.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • John Wood Triathlete And Triathlon Coach

    triathlete running triathlon

    John started his sporting life as a swimmer but soon found his love for triathlon and Ironman racing. He talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete and coach.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I've always loved sport. At school, I was never any good at anything beyond swimming, but I always enjoyed playing! I swam competitively from the age of 8 and ended up racing internationally in the pool and open water after 16. Sport became a way of life for me!

    What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?

    Having given up top-level swimming, I ran the Bath half marathon and a couple of friends invited me out on the bike. I struggled like mad to keep up with them on my mountain bike which was only used for commuting at that point while they were on road bikes, but I loved it! My first triathlon was Marlborough Sprint Tri in 2007.

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

    I'm not sure that I have a favourite race as I have enjoyed a large majority of the ones I have done for different reasons. I have to say though that racing in Turkey, Israel and Austria were all pretty amazing places to go and race for the scenery alone.

    And your proudest achievement?

    As a swimmer, winning a world cup open water event in London in 2003. As a triathlete, coming 4th in my age group at the European Age Group Standard Tri in Israel in 2012. As a coach - seeing the various successes of different athletes at all levels from complete novices to experienced pros.

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

    I've gone the wrong way at a couple of events. In both cases, I don't think the signage was as clear as it possibly could have been - but as an athlete, it's your responsibility to know where you are going, so it was my own fault! The toughest races I've done were both Ironman races; they are just long days. The first one was a catalogue of errors really, something that I could have done with some advice beforehand. The second, I had the perfect race to the end of T2 then got over excited and ran far too quickly into the marathon! What followed from half marathon in was not pretty and certainly not very comfortable, but those days definitely show you how tough you are.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I've been pretty fortunate not to have too many setbacks - but where I have had them I've had some really good support around me from friends. I have really benefited from time out to recover from a couple of frustrating injuries - and that time out doing other things never fails to reignite a passion to get back in and train.

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

    The only bit of advice that I really wish I'd had was before the first Ironman and with how to pace the bike leg. I have really enjoyed learning things as I've gone along, and my motto both from a coaching perspective and as an athlete is to keep doing what I enjoy. We don't get paid to train or race, so if you're not enjoying it then why are you doing it?

    What are your goals for 2018?

    I've really enjoyed getting back into a bit of running this year having not done much in the last couple of years. My main focus though has been towards the European Masters Swimming Championships in Slovenia in 2 weeks time - I've got 5 races including the 3km open water in lake Bled.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    As a swimmer, I always took inspiration from athletes I looked up to - British swimmers like Steve Parry and James Hickman who I wanted to emulate and was fortunate to race against a couple of times, and Grant Hacket and Ian Thorpe too. With triathlon, I have more been inspired by my friends and fellow competitors, I love the idea that we are all really racing ourselves first and foremost.

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

    The fact that Sundried is an ethical and responsible company is important, it's something that is really key in today's world. My favourite bit of kit is the Furgler men's gym shorts - they are perfect for squatting and deadlifting in the gym, super comfortable and secure!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Couch To Triathlon (3) - How On Earth Do You Ride A Road Bike?

    Boardman Women's Road Bike Cycling Triathlon Sundried

    So I've completed week 2 of training for the triathlon! The biggest challenge this week has definitely been getting used to riding a road bike. I'd never ridden one before at all, with the closest I had ever come to riding one being when a friend let me try theirs; I tried to give it a ride around a car park but I couldn't even get on it! It was farcical but hilarious. Because of this I knew it would take some getting used to, but I didn't quite realise just how different it would be!

    For a start, the saddle on a road bike is a lot higher than the handlebars, which means my body position is totally different to when I was riding around on my old banger of a bike. My shoulders started to ache a little where I was leaning forwards over the handlebars, but after relaxing them it wasn't so bad.

    I found that the gears and the brakes are the most different to a regular bike. The handlebars are a completely different shape and so the brakes are at the front as well as the gears. When I first took it for a spin I didn't even successfully change gears, but there are lots of useful guides online about how to change gear on a road bike, and the fact that this is such a well-covered subject made me feel better as it means I'm not the only one who struggled!

    The other big difference is that the frame of the bike is a different shape, with the bar between the saddle and the handlebars being a lot higher than on my old bike. This was something I found out the hard way when I tried to dismount! I usually just pull my leg through the middle and hop off, but on the road bike with the higher bar this wasn't as easy! In fact, I pretty much just fell off the first time I tried to dismount!

    These are all quite trivial things, but they're issues that you would never think about before you actually try riding a road bike for yourself. After I finally managed to get going, I was flying! This bike is so much faster than my old one, with my Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon watch telling me that I was doing 15mph (as opposed to 10mph on my old bike).

    Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon Sports Watch Sundried 

    The only thing I have yet to conquer with this bike is the pedals. Your feet strap in exactly like on a spin bike, so if you have ever done a spin class you'll know how that works. However, a spin bike is set in place and you won't go toppling over if you lean down to strap your feet... something I am yet to master on the road bike! But I will get there, it seems to be a confidence thing more than anything, and I need to remember that I've literally only ridden it a couple of times and that after months of experience all these little things will come naturally (that's the hope anyway!)

    My running has been ticking over nicely as I go running at lunchtime with my colleague, and I have yet to take some swimming lessons so that will be the next challenge! Stay tuned for more next week!

    Read the next instalment - Couch To Triathlon (4) - The Running Bug

    Posted by Alexandra Parren