Nicola is an athlete who was motivated to try new sports during lockdown. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
Yes – I was really active growing up. I did tennis, swimming, gymnastics, and cross-country running, although I was very much a 'jack of all trades, master of none'. I liked sport but took it for granted – I saw it as something that I had to do in school or because my parents signed me up to it.
Now I’m a keen runner after falling in love with it again in 2019 after my first 10k race, and have really gotten into cycling after buying a bike during lockdown. I also picked up kickboxing a few years ago and help out at my local gym as an assistant instructor. I’m also a big fan of strength training and HIIT! So I’m pretty much still a 'jack of all trades, master of none' – but am so much more passionate about each discipline I’ve dedicated myself to.
How did you first get into triathlon?
I love a challenge. I started running and cycling more consistently during lockdown, and was itching to try something new and different – a by-product of getting bored during lockdown, and missing the drive of training for something difficult and challenging. I have always held triathletes in such high regard – being able to wrestle not just one, but three, different sports; and the discipline that comes with sticking to a regimen that successfully balances the three. I thought about how cool it would be to join their ranks!
So I had a look around the internet and signed up to the London Duathlon and the sprint distance event at the London Triathlon, both in 2021. I am by no means a proficient swimmer, so relished the fact that signing up to a triathlon would give me a good reason to start swimming again after about 10 years!
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
I think that would be my first ever race, the Cancer Research 10k Winter Run in February 2019. Before then, I hated running – I only signed up to that event because I was persuaded by a colleague trying to get a group from work to go together (and benefit from the group corporate discount). The furthest I had ever run while very reluctantly training for it over the winter was about 7k.
I struggled massively on the day itself due to the cold (-1 degrees!) and the distance, both of which I hadn’t really prepared for. But the exhilaration of running through the roads of central London – closed especially for runners – and having total strangers cheer for you on the side lines completely converted me. Despite my numb face, frozen fingers, and blistered feet, I loved every second of it. And the feeling of earning my first running medal was incomparable!
What is your proudest achievement?
Shaving almost 10 minutes off my CRUK Winter Run time during the Vitality 10,000 event three months later. I trained properly for it this time, and smashed my target by quite a few minutes. It’s not about the time per se, but more about my total change in attitude compared to my previous race – I joined a run club, trained consistently, and was so determined to improve in those three months. After the race I was so proud of all the progress I’d made, and I proved to myself that hard work and the right mindset really paid off.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
Not yet…! Hope this doesn’t jinx it!
How do you overcome setbacks?
I try not to dwell on it, and instead focus on how I can improve or prevent it in the future. I tend to get stuck in my own head, so coming up with a plan always helps because it gives me purpose and direction. To keep moving forward.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Firstly, what gear you actually need for a triathlon! When I first started thinking about delving into triathlon and multi-sport, I had literally no idea how the logistics worked: what kind of bike do I need? How do I buy a wetsuit? Do you wear the same thing for all three disciplines, or change in transition between swim/bike, and bike/run? These were questions I felt really silly asking, but I felt so lost trying to navigate triathlon kit and filtering between the basic items that every beginner triathlete needs and the not essential, but useful, “add-ons”. If someone had just given me the run-down straight from the get-go, it would’ve prevented me from having all the gear and no idea!
Secondly, and most importantly, that everybody was a beginner once. In recent months I’ve contracted a severe case of impostor syndrome while building up to my summer triathlon. I’ve always thought that you had to be an elite sportsperson in order to call yourself a real “runner” or a “triathlete”; but soon realised that you don’t have to have multiple national or world championships under your belt in order to qualify as one. I also used to think that triathlons were exclusive to the serious athletes, but then found out that one in three participants in quite a lot of the popular UK triathlons is a beginner. You just have to get out there and do it!
What are your goals?
I hope to complete my first marathon, duathlon and triathlon by the end of 2021 – Covid permitting! In the long-term, I hope to complete a 70.3 sometime in the next few years.
Who inspires you?
Anyone who gets out of their comfort zone. I don’t really have a singular inspiration – everyone is different and fighting their own physical, mental and psychological barriers. I draw my inspiration from anyone who has the strength, determination and resilience to try their hand at something they or others believed was impossible to achieve. If they can do it, so can I!
Why work with Sundried?
In a modern world that thrives on fast fashion, working with a brand that prides itself on ethical and sustainable practices is incredibly important to me. I first came across Sundried while looking for jerseys and bib shorts as a fairly new cyclist – and was so impressed at the comfort and durability of the products I purchased. It also helped that they fit really well, especially since I’d been struggling to find cycling jerseys that suited my body shape!
I love that Sundried is able to achieve a wonderful balance between sustainable production, quality and affordability. I want to work with a brand I’d buy from again and confidently recommend to fellow runners and triathletes, regardless of whether I was a brand ambassador. Sundried is exactly that!
To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.